<Chapter 9. Anti-Skull – 1>
It precisely aimed for Lee Shin Woo with its sharp sword strike! It truly was a perfect surprise attack, but Lee Shin Woo was faster, and avoided its attack. He bent his head back and kicked upwards, causing the sword in the skeleton’s grip to go flying!
The skeleton’s sword flew directly up and lodged into the ceiling. However, the skeleton seemed unconcerned, fixed its gaze at Lee Shin Woo, and charged. It seemed as though its mana was focused into its palm, and it attacked Lee Shin Woo for a second time with its hands dyed in a dark green!
‘It’s acid, a poison made from mana. It’s at a similar level to the Great Slime’s, and if that’s the case…!’
It was at that moment. Through his skill in mana analysis, which had noticeably increased due to his Mana Bone, he was able to grasp the structure of his enemy’s skill, and at that very moment, the bone he had absorbed before… the Acid Ghoul’s Thumbnail awakened its potential!
[You have learned the active skill, Intermediate Acid Poison Spray Lv1. Strength, and Magic have increased by 15. Low Rank Acid Resistance has become Lv7.]
[You have achieved the feat of acquiring a intermediate skill. All stats increase by 5.]
Lee Shin Woo was so astonished that he almost lost control of his mana for a moment. Intermediate!? Though the Acid Ghoul’s ability was indeed frightening, when he normally learned a skill, he thought that they’d always be at a reduced level, so he couldn’t help but be astonished.
Could this also be due to Mana Bone? He was able to completely reproduce the special properties of the mana within the memories and experiences now, so if all the skills that he was going to learn in the future started at a high level… then him learning the Mana Bone skill would have been the best thing that happened to him ever since he was dropped into the Empire!
The deep green mist that rose from his fingertips softly wrapped around the skeleton’s palm. At that moment, it yelled in fright and retreated back, colliding with a desk. Lee Shin Woo saw a portion of the documents atop the desk melt away from the poison and freakily yelled out.
“Hey, hey. Calm down!”
[Acid Poison!? Who… are you…!]
Fortunately, the skeleton stopped when Lee Shin Woo spoke. No, perhaps it regained feeling after seeing him use Acid Poison. Honestly, it was good regardless. His top priority was to calm it down if he wanted to preserve these precious documents and prevent further damage.
“I’m one of Gerrit’s people.”
Lee Shin Woo slowly stepped back and lead him away from the materials, so that they wouldn’t be damaged, and answered him calmly.
He had already begun acting by the time he realized that he needed to proceed delicately. And he was able to say the lines most suitable for the situation!
His hand paused its strike midair. He had hit the mark!
[You’re… a subordinate of Doctor Gerrit Aterran? I… don’t recall seeing you before. Are you part of the guard…?]
“No, I’m not a guard. If I was, I would’ve died with you. I came by his request.”
[Did Doctor Aterran die… T-That’s natural I suppose…]
The skeleton despaired, and dropped its head. Seeing that, Lee Shin Woo was actually surprised. He had thought he needed to calm it down no matter what, but he didn’t think that one line would calm it down.
The moment the skeleton got a hold of itself, a message appeared in front of Lee Shin Woo.
[The Acting skill has become Lv5. Those who listen to your words will instinctually have a good impression of you.]
[Your body is black, huh…]
“It’s because of the poison.”
[Your poison’s really strong. …Yeah, our tests were like that. Now I remember a little bit.]
At around that time, the skeleton had completely lost its fighting spirit. It inspected Lee Shin Woo and when it subsequently turned to look at its own body, which was likewise composed of only bones, it muttered miserably.
[Our test ultimately failed. We couldn’t stop ourselves from turning into undead… In the end, that foolish Emperor tried to prevent disaster by calling an even greater disaster!]
Those words felt as though Lee Shin Woo had just been hit by a straight punch. It had clearly recognized that it was an undead, and was also aware of the passage of time!
Was this perhaps an effect caused by them performing tests within the sewers? If that’s true, then in the Empire…!? Lee Shin Woo did his best to conceal his astonishment no matter what, and replied to the skeleton.
“However, you’re better off than the guys outside. Since the guys outside have lost their reason and are going wild.”
[Is it a half success…? Come in, comrade. If I think about it, you, who knows the code for the Anti-Skull, can’t be my enemy. It seems as though I had also lost my reason until just a little while ago. Since all I did was despair alone from within here…]
Anti-Skull, huh. It definitely had a connection with the skull pattern drawn on the door lock. There was a small chance that it was just a code name, but there was a high chance that it stood for the organization of their group as well. Lee Shin Woo decided to remember that word.
[Did you move around by yourself? If not, are you acting based on General Seagald’s orders?]
“No, I’m acting based on Gerrit’s request. I need to collect all the research materials so that it can’t be misused.”
[Ah… I see. Those precious materials are spread about in this kind of place. That’s certainly an important task.]
It was really easy to handle the skeleton. Was it because it had just regained its reasoning, or was it due to its memories not being completely intact? If it’s not that either, then was it due to his Acting skill? If he could handle him as he pleases, then it didn’t matter.
Lee Shin Woo collected all the materials that remained intact despite the passage of dozens of years. The skeleton even helped him with his task. In the end, he made this request.
[There may be some of our comrades still out there. Could you help search for them?]
“Alright. Since I need to collect all the materials anyway.”
He was patiently sitting in his seat, and though he really wanted to inspect the materials, the current situation wouldn’t allow him to. However, the moment Lee Shin Woo nodded at the skeleton’s words, the mana in front of him slightly shook.
[A quest has occurred!]
[Those who uphold the spirit of a ruined nation.]
[You have found traces of those who still resist in the Empire, and came in contact with them. No one knows how this attempt will turn out in the future. But what’s certain is that it will be an extremely difficult challenge.]
[Quest goal: Find and aid the Poison Skeleton’s comrades.]
[Quest reward: 1 permit to God’s secret shop, and 1 Lv3 medicine.]
‘This… does this mean that God is interested in this place too?’
It would be really unconventional as a hero to listen to their circumstances and act without killing them. However, on the contrary, God wouldn’t punish him for it and instead encouraged him do so, which was really interesting.
Of course, regardless of whether God liked it or not, Lee Shin Woo would act as he pleased!
[How are you going to deal with all of those?]
“I probably have to store them. There’s something that Gerrit prepared before he died.”
[As expected of Doctor Aterran.]
Lee Shin Woo and the Poison Skeleton confirmed that there weren’t any more materials inside the room and left the passageway. As he saw the Poison Skeleton, which had withdrawn its sword, crawl out of the door, he smacked his lips.
“Shouldn’t you move a bit quieter?”
[You don’t need to be that careful. The only things in this sewer are just research material slimes.]
“Yeah, they are just slimes, but… Well, whatever.”
Lee Shin Woo gave up on trying to convince it. When he thought about it, since he had invested so much time into familiarizing himself with Mana Bone, the Great Slime should’ve been far away from him by now. It was probably hectically eating up all the other slimes in the dungeon about now.
[Now that I think about it, I haven’t introduced myself yet. My name is… Ugh, I don’t remember my name. It isn’t just my name. I don’t even remember who I was… I wonder why? I remember the tests and the curse, but there’s nothing I remember about myself! It’s as though the inside of my head is completely empty…!]
If he was a human instead of a skeleton, he would’ve seemed like a main character, but the world wouldn’t remember a mere extra’s amnesia! Surprisingly, Lee Shin Woo replied uninterestedly.
“The fact that your head’s empty just means that there’s a lot you can fill it with from now on.”
He’d only said a suitable line he’d seen from somewhere before, yet it seemed like the skeleton was deeply moved. While he was at it, Lee Shin Woo decided to give him some more service.
“First, let’s give you a name. Now your name’s Paul.”
[Paul… It’s an alright name! What’s your name?]
“I’m… Paul Zero.”
It was a name he’d thought up himself, but it was really an alias without a speck of creativity.
[Then… Paul Zero, this way. I don’t remember anything regarding myself, but I definitely remember the way.]
“Great. Let’s go, Paul!”
Lee Shin Woo and Paul moved quickly. He definitely moved a lot more efficiently because he had a guide. No matter how excellent his mana senses had gotten from learning Mana Bone, it took a certain amount of manual labor to find the secret passageways…!
He was suddenly in awe of his foresight, as he hadn’t killed the skeleton and dealt with the issue by just talking. Lee Shin Woo honestly hadn’t thought that this was how it would turn out.
[We’ve arrived. You see it too, right?]
“Yeah, I’m opening it right away.”
Lee Shin Woo released the lock more skillfully than before and opened the door. There were three skeletons within, but they were just like Paul had been, and had lost their reason.
“Yeah, yeah. I thought you’d be this way.”
Lee Shin Woo sighed and softly spewed his Acid Poison at them. It wasn’t acid magic, nor was it a curse, and the skeletons that basked in the poison went ‘hmm’ in surprise, and stopped moving. It was honestly really funny.
[The taste of this poison is… It’s the taste of an ally…!]
[Y-You’re… Are you a soldier from another test by any chance?]
[To think that I’m a skeleton… A skeleton!]
“Now, I understand your complicated feelings, but I received Gerrit Aterran’s request and you guys are undead that have their reason. We’re all friends here, so just calm down for now.”
Lee Shin Woo perfectly utilized his Acting skill and calmed them down. Paul, who saw Lee Shin Woo instantly clean up inside, just carelessly clapped with his bare bone hands.
[The power in your voice is unusual. As expected, it seems you weren’t a normal person after all. What do you think our relationship was in the past? Ugh, I don’t remember!]
“You already said that before, so be quiet and stand over here in order. You’re Paul 2, you’re Paul 3, and you’re Paul 4…”
The four Pauls had a touching reunion, even though five minutes hadn’t even passed yet. Since they were all composed of bones now, it was difficult to recover their previous form, but they definitely remembered that they followed and trusted the same general, and cooperated with the tests.
Moreover, since they were all level 3, they were highly likely to all have had the same post in their past life.
[To think that you’re carrying out Doctor Aterran’s will even after becoming an undead… You’re amazing.]
[Won’t you come with us to meet General Seagald? General Seagald definitely wouldn’t have given up on the magic research.]
“I’ll probably go and see you guys someday. I’ll remember you guys.”
Lee Shin Woo instantly refused the offer of the Pauls who had reached a mutual understanding, and quickly collected the materials.
And in the process, he took a sideways glance at the characters that they used, and the materials definitely weren’t written in Korean, but he could naturally read them. It was probably the same reason he could communicate with others, despite never learning the Empire’s language.
“Now, shall we go and check the remaining materials?”
[Hey, but wait… don’t you hear something strange from somewhere?]
[Now that you mention it, yeah.]
Paul affirmed Paul 3’s statement. Then, Paul 4, who had gone out of the door before the rest of them, spoke with a slightly stiff voice.
[I hear the crawling sound of… something huge.]
Immediately after, a portion of the passageway burst. Beyond it, a huge slime dyed in a dark green revealed itself and faced them. Its truly dreary aura was so heavy that its body sagged, and that heavy acid mist spread through its surroundings.
[Lv4 King Slime]
[You have found the target of your revenge. When you fight it, all stats increase by 30%. Flames of Revenge receive a 30% additional bonus.]
The King Slime, which discovered Lee Shin Woo, forcefully howled and the tough passageway walls began to quickly crack. However, the Poison Skeletons were terrified and instinctually stepped back; on the contrary, Lee Shin Woo looked pleased and stepped forward. He was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t an Emperor Slime, but still, this was great!
“Let’s play, Pudding!”
The King Slime responded vigorously to Lee Shin Woo’s offer. It seemed like it really missed Lee Shin Woo too.
The Pauls looked like they were going to cry when they saw the walls quickly crack as a result of the King Slime’s full speed charge, but unfortunately for them, there was no place to run.