<Chapter 9. Anti-Skull – 3>
Lee Shin Woo, the 12 Pauls, as well as the King Slime that tried swallowing them all, were bravely struggling and continued on for no less than 20 minutes.
If the environment hadn’t been a cramped underground space, the battle might’ve already been over, but because the King Slime couldn’t even charge properly, the level 3 Poison Skeletons were somehow able to stand against it.
“Put in some more effort, Paul!”
[I’m Paul 10!]
“Nice, you’re blocking it well, Paul 10. I’m shooting one more time!”
[The Low Rank Catapult skill has become Lv2. The launching speed increases. Agility has increased by 1.]
While the 12 Pauls were busy holding off the King Slime’s offensive, Lee Shin Woo used the Pauls as a moving trench to protect himself; so long as his mana would allow it, he would continuously shoot his Grenade. He had thought this before, but there was nothing more reassuring than having reinforcements blocking off the enemy!
Whenever a portion of the King Slime’s body burst, it would desperately collect the mana from those pieces, and though it would’ve been better if the flames had stuck, they at least forced a significant amount of mana to be condensed into its main body.
Rather than cleaving its core and killing it, he needed to slowly condense its mana, whether it be by fire, or explosions, as that would help him get the core!
If it didn’t look like a core would come out, then he would use his Flames of Revenge, even if it meant sacrificing the Pauls. Thankfully he was really lucky.
[Ugh, it’s too strong…!]
[Hold it back, comrades! Our pain will be the foundation that unlocks our future!]
In the midst of the intense battle, it seemed as though the Pauls had formed a deep sense of camaraderie. Lee Shin Woo hated his body, which couldn’t eat popcorn, and shot a Grenade at the King Slime.
Lee Shin Woo was excited about how many stats its core would give him, and was counting his chickens before they hatched. But at that moment, the King Slime quickly rolled its body and dodged the launched finger!
Lee Shin Woo momentarily did a double take. He then saw that it’s flesh had been torn off from the constant Grenades in the past 20 minutes, and the size of its body had lessened to an extent that it could move now, even in this narrow space.
Furthermore, during the battle, a few of the Pauls had died, so there was a gap in their encirclement; at that moment, the King Slime didn’t lose the opportunity and had begun its counteroffensive!
They couldn’t cope with its swift movements and Paul 3 was struck by its charge. At that moment, it focused its Acid Poison at one point and spewed it! Paul 3 melted instantaneously and in its place, only a single shabby bone remained.
“Get a hold of yourselves you guys. Don’t lose track of its movements!”
Lee Shin Woo gritted his teeth and shot a Grenade. Immediately after his attack, he would’ve taken advantage of the explosion’s opening and hit it again, but something truly astounding occurred. Before the Grenade burrowed into its body and exploded, the shot melted away without a trace.
He didn’t know what kind of conditions it satisfied to become like this, but he was sure that the King Slime’s poison had been instantaneously strengthened! It might’ve even been comparable to the Acid Ghoul’s!
Then, the King Slime emitted a peculiar sound, as if it were mocking them, and vibrated its body. Compared to before, its body was definitely dyed in a deep green.
[Its poison has gotten stronger.]
[Ours bodies melt away just by getting close.]
The sickening deadly poison mist filled the narrow space. At that moment, the Poison Skeletons trembled as they were completely stuck within the poison mist. They had briefly forgotten how terrifying acid poison was after being reborn as Poison Skeletons!
“Tch, it’s troublesome if you all die already!”
The King Slime thought it had an opportunity, and attempted to sweep away all of the Poison Skeletons at once by spreading its deadly poison, but before it could do so, Lee Shin Woo charged and rammed into its body.
In the process of hunting it down, he could sacrifice the Poison Skeletons one by one, but he couldn’t helplessly lose all of his shields all at once!
Because its body had shrunk, its weight had also lessened; the King Slime couldn’t endure Lee Shin Woo’s charge and powerlessly bounced while being blown away.
However, there was something more important than that. Despite being in contact with the strong Acid Poison, the poison which melted rocks in one fell swoop, he flawlessly endured and was still standing.
[You have been affected by the King Slime’s strengthened Acid Poison. Low Rank Acid Resistance has successfully resisted 90% of the damage.]
[The Low Rank Acid Resistance skill has become Lv8.]
“Good…As long as I don’t get stuck inside its body, I can endure it.”
Since the index finger bone lodged into its body instantly melted away, he was secretly quite worried, but it seems as though his main body was able to endure its Acid Poison through a combination of his Harden and Acid Resistance skills. Though he did receive some injuries, he could heal this much damage with Regeneration instantly.
It seemed like the King Slime realized that Lee Shin Woo wasn’t an opponent it could overcome by just thoughtlessly spewing its poison around as it gradually began to retreat.
Lee Shin Woo hadn’t come at it from the front and just trivially attacked it from the rear with flames or bullets, yet the fact that he actually possessed the toughest body here slightly shocked the King Slime. …And honestly, the King Slime wasn’t the only one shocked.
[H-How is he still alive even after taking that poison…!]
[W-We can’t win. The test was a failure. In the end, we were cursed; by melting us all, that slime will completely bury us in darkness…!]
“You guys just sit in the back and watch.”
The Pauls’ bones shook, like leaves in the wind, and Lee Shin Woo saw them retreat; therefore, he decided to completely forgo using them as shields any longer.
Their willpower was already down in the dumps and even if they were to step forward once more, he didn’t know how much longer they’d last against the King Slime. And…
‘The fact that the second phase has begun means that the King Slime’s health and magic are slowly reaching their limit. It’s definitely worth a try, as long as I can block its poison.’
Of course, it still possessed a combination of strength and speed befitting a level 4 elite monster, but Lee Shin Woo was also receiving the Avenger skill effect. He decided that he could definitely win.
He forcefully gripped Bone of Thunder Lasting with both hands and activated Combat Sprint, taking the initiative by charging at it first. The King Slime noticed and quickly bounced its body.
It was an absurdly fast reaction speed. If he didn’t make full use of his temporarily heightened visual acuity, he would lose track of it. The instant Lee Shin Woo read its trajectory, he vertically cleaved downwards!
He firmly stiffened his body with magic, and his sword fell with a force that could cleave the earth, clashing with the King Slime flying in from the front. However, rather than being pushed back, he exerted his strength and pushed downwards with his sword!
The King Slime couldn’t contest with his strength and bounced away, colliding with the opposite wall.
The instant it impacted the extremely precarious wall, the drain pipes completely crumbled and the foundation became unstable. Dirt spewed everywhere, but even within that messy situation, Lee Shin Woo’s eyes didn’t leave the King Slime.
‘Does it also have a Harden ability? There aren’t any scratches on its body…’
His sword was plenty sharp. The bastard was just excessively tough! Since it’s body had lessened in size, its physical strength had atrophied to the point that Lee Shin Woo could push it back, but conversely, its magic had been frightfully condensed; it had gotten that much tougher as a result.
The slime must’ve been uplifted after being unharmed by Lee Shin Woo’s strike, as it bounced from its position and flew towards him again.
If he got pushed back here, it’ll be the end! Lee Shin Woo gritted his teeth and clashed with the King Slime. With the resolve to take it down, he infused Power Slash in every strike!
[A-As I thought, we can’t win.]
[If he can’t kill it with that tremendous power, then… Ah, ahhhh. The poison, the poison mist is rising!]
Since he was fighting while listening to the Paul’s draining ‘BGM’, it didn’t work. No, it was honestly just that his current strength couldn’t overcome the King Slime. Looking at the situation of the battle, he figured that if he could buy more time, he would be able to get a decisive strike in, but the problem was…
‘…I can’t just keep repeatedly attacking and defending until its mana runs out.’
This sewer facility was counting down to its destruction. The pouring dirt would make it difficult to even move soon. It would become the worst environment to fight in.
In order to finish it before then… it would be a bit difficult, but this was the only choice. He resolved himself and activated his skill.
‘Flames of Revenge.’
The black flames softly blazed atop his index finger bone. Seeing that hateful fire, the King Slime spewed the deadly poison that had been condensed in its body all at once in all directions, and filled the space with poison.
“Good, you’re definitely responding to it.”
The deadly poison mist and his black flames met, emitting a crackling sound; the flames burned the poison and the smoky heat surged. If he just remained like this, both sides would just run out of magic, so Lee Shin Woo raised his index finger about shoulder height, aimed, and postured to shoot.
‘I don’t know how many times it’ll self-destruct from the flames until it leaves behind its core, but… I have no choice.’
However, before he shot, one of the vacantly watching Pauls suddenly muttered.
He spoke at such great timing that Lee Shin Woo stopped his Catapult. It was truly a relief that the King Slime saw the unwaning flames and felt extremely anxious, making it unable to move its body.
He didn’t know whether they knew about the situation or not, but Paul kept muttering.
[I… Before I was appointed as a knight, I applied for this test.]
Hearing that, Lee Shin Woo furrowed his brows. Did they seriously remember their past at this timing? How? However, it wasn’t just him. The other Pauls muttered as well, as if they had promised to do so.
[I was just a soldier, but due to my performance, I became a Centurion. The one who brought me there was none other than General Seagald…]
[I… I respected the Emperor. Because of that, I couldn’t pardon his mistake, even more than the others.]
[How could I forget? The way I had lived, the way I must live from now on… All of it was within me all along.]
In no time, this space, which had been filled with the thickening, deadly poison the King Slime had spewed, became clean. Even now, the King Slime was responding to the Flames of Revenge and was creating Acid Poison, but the Poison Skeletons were absorbing it all.
[The test… Was it not a failure?]
[It failed. It was truly a horrific failure. However, because it was a failure, there was something we could gain from it.]
[How miserable. However, we need this strength right now.]
There was nowhere to run; they couldn’t escape from the Acid Poison, and the skeletons had no other choice but to accept it. And the moment they gave up on everything, they naturally absorbed the Acid Poison as if it were theirs from the beginning… The skeletons were starting to become stronger.
The vestige of their past test’s failure had made it possible; it was at this moment that their past karma was connected to the present.
[Why did I forget how to use mana?]
[It feels like someone had locked me in the darkness and stripped away my reason.]
[I can’t remember my past name at all, but… it’s fine now. We’ve become able to accept both our past and present!]
[We don’t need to think deeply about what’s within anymore. We just need to walk the path we’ve been taught now!]
Their voices sounded much more sure of themselves now, and for some reason, they felt even stronger… The moment he thought that it seemed as though they had leveled up, a deep mana glaringly surged.
However, because Lee Shin Woo didn’t have any eyes, he was able to properly behold the Poison Skeletons’ change.
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul]
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul Two]
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul Four]
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul Seven]
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul Nine]
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul Ten]
[Lv3 Acid Skeleton – Paul Twelve]
To think he’d see the moment that the undead were reborn as named monsters. They became named monsters with the names he’d given them at that!
Lee Shin Woo was stunned and looked at them with his mouth wide open as the Pauls walked with heavy footsteps more vigorously than before and joined up with him by his side.
[Sorry we showed you something so unsightly, Captain.]
[We’ll fight with you now, too.]
[Give us the command. I want to respond to the chivalry you showed, Captain.]
‘When the hell did I become your captain, and what the hell do you mean by chivalry?’ is how he eagerly wanted to reply, but… Lee Shin Woo discarded all those thoughts. Though the Empire was incorrigibly cold and arrogant, he acted as though ‘their’ Empire was the only warm place in this world.
“You’ve finally gotten a hold of yourselves. Hold it back for a bit. You can do that much, can’t you?”
The seven level 3 elites attacked the King Slime simultaneously. The King Slime attempted to kill them with its poison and charge attacks, but they were no longer the weak skeletons of the past. Ultimately, while it was restrained by the skeletons, Lee Shin Woo took the opportunity to shoot his Fire Bullets in a volley. As it was being barraged with the Fire Bullets, it didn’t even have an opportunity to self-destruct, and died from the flames.
It was truly a brutal victory.