<Chapter 52. War’s Scenario – 6>
Once Lee Shin Woo had realized that the Lich had invaded the chatting channel, he had first split the Erems into ‘two squads’ and mobilized them.
[We’ve found him, Master.]
“As I expected. Hurray for the Mana Radar.”
First was the area where Silene and the Archmage were located. It was a small city situated near the level 4 danger zone, Bayran. He sent the Erems, satisfying the condition for Fire Shadow, and then waited for the right moment.
He could, of course, defeat the Archmage without all this preparation. An innate element? Lee Shin Woo knew, as someone who often used innate elements, that someone who’d just awakened an innate element couldn’t contend with someone who possessed five.
If the Archmage had simultaneously reached level 9 as well, then it would be a different story. However, he wasn’t there yet. Not at all.
[But security is strict.]
“Ok, I’ll go personally.”
Then why had he sent the Erems ahead of him? This could be explained by the second preceding battle.
Lee Shin Woo and Seagald were ahead in terms of pure power, and the Archmage’s space element had been sealed, leading to his head being split apart. However, he was a Lich, a being that could revive itself several times. As long as his life vessel remains intact, he could regain his physical body and revive himself any number of times.
This was really a case of the pot calling the kettle black, as he possessed a revival ability of his own (Invisible Heart), but it was so cowardly! If Lee Shin Woo just went and killed him, then it’d be such a waste of a good opportunity; the Lich was outside of the capital, but if he killed him, then he’d just revive himself!
[Please be careful, Master. They are powerful.]
“They won’t be able to notice me. Don’t worry.”
Lee Shin Woo had split the Erems into two, sending the other squad ‘to a different location’. Where, you ask…?
[Security’s tight. It’s perfect.]
[The Lord Archmage commanded us to be wary of Seagald Von Retadane’s mana response.]
[With this artifact, the ‘Anti-Skull Mana Detector’, which was personally created by the Archmage himself, we should be able to find him, even if he completely erases his presence and reappears!]
He had sent them to a secret facility within the capital which housed the container for the Archmage’s soul, or life vessel.
‘I thought he was an idiot, like any undead, for leaving the capital, but it looks like he’s not. But to think they’ve created an artifact specifically for Seagald. It seems like they really were worried about him. …Though I’m not sure if that thing can actually detect the Annihilation Flame or not.’
The Mana Radar’s top priority was to locate the Archmage and the Emperor’s life vessel. And once he’d created the Mana Radar, he checked the locations of their life vessels, but it’s not like he could be like… ‘let’s go destroy their souls now!’.
The Archmage’s life vessel was stored in an extremely vital building within the capital, and Seldin would stay around it when he had nothing better to do. On the other hand, the Emperor’s life vessel was located in the deepest part of the palace. In other words, it was near impossible for anyone to steal their life vessels undetected!
‘If I didn’t have Annihilation Flame, that is…’
At first, he thought he had no other option but to fight head-on and destroy the Archmage’s life vessel before he had a chance to recover. In terms of destroying the life vessel, charging headfirst or fighting them head-on wasn’t much different.
But with Seagald’s Annihilation Flame, he had another option. It was unlikely to work with the Emperor’s life vessel, but he was confident that he could steal the Archmage’s life vessel in his absence!
‘Why didn’t the Archmage hide his life vessel in the palace too?’
He thought of several reasons. One, the Archmage wasn’t entirely loyal to the Emperor, or two, it could be dangerous to store two life vessels in the same location… If it was neither of the two, then perhaps two life vessels couldn’t be placed near each other.
‘From what I’m seeing, that seems like the most likely option here.’
This black crystal, which was protected by countless undead, shook its surroundings and emitted an uncanny energy. Seeing that, Lee Shin Woo nodded his head.
He’d always been curious as to how a life vessel was made, but he could make a guess after looking at it. It mostly consisted of the space and darkness elements, as well as layers upon layers of unknown magic. The life vessel required careful storage and another life vessel couldn’t be placed in its direct vicinity.
‘And it looks like that crystal took a piece of the source of darkness too… That’s what comes from just taking a little bit of it? If that’s the case, then what exactly is the darkness that lay beneath the palace… Hey, wait a sec.’
Lee Shin Woo thought, but then tilted his head. The source of darkness was beneath the palace. And the Emperor’s life vessel was beneath the palace as well.
If that’s the case, then… did that damn Emperor use the source of darkness itself as his life vessel!? When he actually saw the Archmage’s life vessel, what had once seemed a delusion had turned out to be a reality!
‘Hey, that means that killing the Emperor and purifying the Empire are one in the same.’
It didn’t matter anyway; in the end, he needed to do both. Lee Shin Woo thought about the steep obstacle he’d have to face within the palace and sighed deeply. He soon refocused on his current situation.
If he wasted anymore time here then Lloyd and Erian would die. Honestly, he really didn’t care what happened to them, but he didn’t really want to see Prince cry.
‘First, let’s make a backup.’
The Archmage’s life vessel was stored very carefully; just because he’d found the life vessel didn’t mean that it was smooth sailing from now on.
Not only were several level 7 elite undead standing guard (though many of them had been annihilated by Lee Shin Woo’s light blast), but there were also dozens of space-type traps that activated upon the entrance of an intruder. And by touching the life vessel, several more traps would activate. Lastly, once the life vessel disappeared, another trap would be activated.
And even with all that, the Archmage usually remained close to his life vessel, so he really was careful.
[The Intermediate Annihilation Flame Element has become Lv2 and Magic has increased by 20.]
‘I’m good, except for that last trap.’
But Lee Shin Woo’s power, or more specifically, Annihilation Flame, allowed him to ignore most of the traps. By erasing his presence, the traps didn’t have anyone to target.
There was an error in the activation process, so the traps didn’t even activate. It was simple.
‘…Good. I switched it out!’
As for the final trap, which activated upon the life vessel’s disappearance, Lee Shin Woo switched the real life vessel with a fake created with his Disguise skill, preventing the trap from triggering.
In the short period of time in which he switched the two, Lee Shin Woo had also used his Shining Flame on the magic circle (which made up the trap), and erased cause-and-effect. And by adding in his Acting skill, he was able to do it with ease!
Though he was forced to use a significant amount of mana for this brief distortion, Lee Shin Woo’s level wasn’t just for show! He was able to replace the real life vessel with a fake one before his mana bottomed out.
‘The fake won’t last for very long.’
But it didn’t need to last that long. He had the Archmage’s life vessel in his grasp and planned to go straight to the Archmage with it in tow.
[Artifact, all clear.]
[Treasure, all clear.]
[I want to fight.]
[I want to eat meat.]
He took a peek at the undead, who stood guard without even knowing what he’d done, grinned, and left the facility.
‘Annihilation Flame’s totally overpowered. It seems better than Dark Shadow.’
He sent a message to the other Erem and then activated Fire Shadow, allowing him to instantaneously travel to a far off location… where the Archmage was oppressing the heroes.
With a single glance, he saw his seniors, the undead heroes he hadn’t killed yet, with his juniors, as well as the Archmage, who looked down at them in satisfaction from midair.
Lee Shin Woo felt he’d hit his limit with Annihilation Flame, so he chose to reveal himself then and there. His intro had enough impact to cause the Archmage to freeze completely!
“And time begins to move once more…”
[H-How? How do you have my heart!?]
“That’s not what’s important. The fact is that I have your heart in my hands.”
Lee Shin Woo smiled at the Archmage and squeezed the crystal. But surprisingly, the once frantic Archmage had regained his composure.
[But you didn’t break it. You came all this way and brought it to me without breaking it.]
At that moment, Lee Shin Woo was truly surprised. Lee Shin Woo could tell that the Lich was trying to use his mana on the life vessel.
It was the space element. He was using the fusion element of darkness and space, the Dark Space element, on the crystal. The power of space flowed through the darkness; an element that allowed him unlimited control over anything consisting of darkness… It was truly a formidable ability. Especially when he considered that it was difficult to use the space element effectively against another level 9.
While this could be replicated with a maxed out darkness element, Dark Space set itself apart; the darkness encroached space, and the ability to control said space was maximized. Perhaps Dark Space was the element most compatible with the darkness element.
[Your biggest mistake was your arrogance. You should’ve known that I’d have awakened a new power upon seeing yours!]
The life vessel was already in the Lich’s hand! Lee Shin Woo was astonished and applauded him. The next moment, a black flame ignited over the Archmage’s palm. Now, the life vessel had returned to Lee Shin Woo’s hand.
It was quite obvious, but he had used his maxed out darkness element, Dark Shadow, and Dark Flame together. Of course, the Archmage didn’t really understand what had happened. Regardless of how great his innate element was, there was no way that he could overcome Lee Shin Woo, who possessed five of them…!
“It was nice. I’ll give you an 8.”
Darkness blazed upon his palm and devoured the life vessel. The reason he hadn’t destroyed the life vessel and come straight here was because of the off chance that the Lich would explode, taking Lloyd and Erian with him.
[Fully destroying and absorbing the Lv8 Archmage Feotane Von Seldin’s Life Vessel through Bone Reinforcement. You have completely absorbed the magic source, and Magic has increased by 230.]
[The soul is returning to its owner.]
Once all traces of the life vessel disappeared, Lee Shin Woo felt a full amount of mana welling with him. It wasn’t like Lee Shin Woo’s mana, which he’d acquired through Bone Reinforcement or through adapting to his circumstances, but purely the Archmage’s own mana, one who’d followed the path of a magician his entire life. He couldn’t even begin to describe the satisfaction and the joy he felt!
“Ah, I guess I can’t take in an entire soul, even with my abilities.”
With the life vessel’s destruction, the Archmage’s soul was forcefully ejected and returned to him. However, the Archmage wasn’t able to withstand the pain. He screamed and started rolling around in the air.
He’d lost control of his mana and spread it out everywhere, but it was all stained by Lee Shin Woo’s darkness and eliminated. Destroying his life vessel, the return of his soul, as well as the Lich’s anguish from its return were… all great experiences in killing Liches. It would help when he killed the Emperor!
“You made one mistake, Lich.”
Lee Shin Woo quickly stabbed the Lich with the Death God’s Shining Bone Sword and then said with a somber expression.
“You met me.”
While the Archmage’s magic was high, his actual defensive capabilities were quite low, so the Shining Bone Sword cut him to pieces.
Fortunately, his bone showed up properly this time.