Chapter 128 - War Preparation (3)

So that it could be purer and more efficient. Usually, as you climb the floors, the rank of your magic power increases. However, impatient Bayluk found another way to do it. It was crazy. It required too much time and materials, but we participated because who else would? Besides, we thought it would be fun, as well.

But he’d really done it. What a crazy bastard. And thanks to that, our growth was unparalleled.

There were two main reasons why Arthia was able to be so successful: one was Jeong-woo’s encounter with the dragon on the eleventh floor, and the other was Bayluk’s experiments.

The ancient dragon Kalatus’ body wasn’t ready yet, but I wasn’t worried because it would be finished soon.

His brother hadn’t written exactly how the Strengthening Item was made because he wasn’t interested in alchemy. He just thought it was amazing that Bayluk had managed to create it. Still, he had written the materials and their ratios in the diary in case he needed it in the future.

‘But if it was something that could be created from just knowing the ratios of materials, it wouldn’t need Bayluk’s touch.’ Some of the materials had to be frozen, others dried, and it took a lot of work. Yeon-woo didn’t have the time to prep each item, and even though he’d always planned to learn alchemy, he just didn’t have the time now. Thankfully, the Spirit Familiars had the ability to absorb whatever they received in an efficient way, even if he didn’t prepare it beforehand. ‘It would be nice if the Spirit Familiars evolved on their own. However, the limitations on the Black Bracelet don’t allow them to do that right now, so I have to use this method.’

The only option available in the Black Bracelet was the use of the Spirit Familiars. That meant if he wanted them to gain a higher rank, he had to do it externally, like using the Strengthening Item.

[Boo (Soul of the Witch Doctor) has successfully absorbed the Blue Amethyst.]

[Magic energy has increased by 3 points.]

[Water element has increased by 2 points.]

....

[You have reached the limit of powering up Boo (Soul of the Witch Doctor). It is likely that more leveling up will negatively affect the spirit’s body.]

[Boo (Soul of the Witch Doctor) is suffering from the constant energy intake. His spiritual vessel is starting to crumble.]

[Boo (Soul of the Witch Doctor) has absorbed the Black Rose. His stats are not affected.]

....

「Ugh…uhm…」

Boo’s body shook. Even vitamins would be dangerous if one ate too many in one go, and so his magic power was exploding from absorbing all the hidden pieces. Yeon-woo stopped Boo’s body from crumbling away with black energy. But even in this situation, Boo’s consciousness didn’t fade away. He wanted to control his new power because Yeon-woo had ordered him to bear it and absorb it. He was a Spirit Familiar, and he had no choice but to follow.

Boo pressed down the magic power that felt like it was about to explode. His fading mind grew sharp, and he could once again feel his body. Throughout this, he continued to absorb what was given to him.

‘You must succeed. I chose you because you have the ability to think for yourself.’ Yeon-woo kept feeding him black energy. If Boo’s evolution was successful, he already knew who would be next. ‘After the magician, it will be the knight.’

Thankfully, Yeon-woo had a spirit that was as powerful as Boo: Shanon. If he could access his power as a semi-ranker, Yeon-woo didn’t need to worry about enhancing all his powers to their maximum. Finally, Boo absorbed the last hidden piece, the magic power that was constantly being tamped down shook inside his body. Boo suddenly bounced up and down, and then he floated up like a balloon—except he didn’t pop and come down.

There was new development.

[Boo (Soul of the Witch Doctor) has overcome his limits. You have acquired ‘Complete Evil Vestige’.]

[The evolution is beginning.]

Crunch. The same sounds of assembly that Yeon-woo had heard when he achieved his new physique were also coming from Boo’s body, which stopped fading and grew clearer until it was taking a tangible, human form. Black energy and death energy spread around him. They turned into a piece of cloth that became a robe around Boo’s body. Boo slowly knelt to bow to Yeon-woo.

「I greet…my master.」 He spoke with a clear voice that sounded nothing like the one he'd had as a Spirit Familiar. It meant he now had the ability to think for himself.

[Boo (Soul of the Witch Doctor) has successfully evolved. The magician of death, Lich, has been born.]

[Congratulations! You have found a way to lead death. Continue to search for more methods. The power of darkness will always be with you.]

[You have accomplished an achievement that is not easily accomplished. Additional karma will be provided.]

[You have acquired 5,000 karma.]

[You have acquired an additional 3,000 karma.]

[This achievement will not be added to the trial of the 11th floor as it was done personally.]

....

[You have acquired the title ‘One Who Leads Death.’]

[Title: One Who Leads Death]
[The world is split into life and death. They hate each other since they cannot mix together. However, with this title, you will receive blessings and the favor of dead and living people.]
[Effect: All properties regarding the undead increase.
Control of the darkness properties +20 points.]

Yeon-woo clenched his fists at the new title. Earning a title meant that he’d done something that very few others had accomplished or he’d surpassed his limits to achieve something. At the moment, his only limits were the ones of the Black Bracelet, but the system acknowledged his achievement in creating Lich.

[You have earned new knowledge about death. Your knowledge spectrum has widened. ‘Draconic Eyes’ skill proficiency has increased. 35.1%]

Yeon-woo could feel the improvement of his Draconic Eyes. He felt as if his world had grown. However, he was slightly worried that Lich might escape the control of the Black Bracelet. He wasn’t worried about the danger since he could handle it easily, but he didn’t want it to happen because it would be a waste of hidden pieces.

Thankfully, Boo’s loyalty hadn’t changed.「Master…is the person…that pulled me out of… drowning. You may…order me…to do anything. I will…follow your orders…willingly.」

His speech was choppy because he wasn’t completely settled in his body yet, but at least he could still communicate.

“What magic are you currently capable of?”

Lich’s past life was important to Yeon-woo, since it would provide information about his abilities.

「In my past life, I could do general things.」

“What does ‘general things’ mean?”

「I…can show you…Could you…perhaps…give me some of…the souls you have.」

Yeon-woo had gathered a lot of souls as he passed through each floor, and he had about 1,500 in the Soul Collection. He pulled three of them out and Boo bowed. Then, he raised his head and revealed empty eye sockets inside which blue spectral flames bloomed. Boo reached his hand out to the three souls, and fire ignited at the tip of his fingertips. The first soul exploded like fireworks. Its ashes fell on the floor, splitting it open. A spotted dog emerged with a pair of dead-looking eyes.

「It’s called…Death Summons…Using souls as a sacrifice…I can summon…it…I can take out…anything that has a corpse…skeletons and zombies…」 Boo flicked his hand to return the summons and made the second soul explode. An ashy fog filled the room. Yeon-woo had seen this buff skill before, which made people’s fear increase.

「This is called Fog of Blood…it shows illusions…to create fear…in enemies…sometimes…it takes health and magic power…from enemies…and transfers to allies…」

Yeon-woo’s eyes glittered. The effects of Fog of Blood were better than he’d initially thought, and it would be extremely effective especially in a large-scale melee.

「And this is…Corpse Absorption…」 The last soul exploded, and a flame soared up and disappeared in its place. 「Depending on…how many…corpses and souls there are…basic fire and ice magic…can be used.」 Boo lowered his head. 「In my…past life…I was a witch doctor….unlike a dark magician…or sorcerer…I specialize in…corpses and curses…」 His voice was dark but also determined. 「And so…right now…this is all I can do…but I can become stronger…I won’t disappoint…Master…I’ll become a stronger…Lich.」

Despite his talent in corpses and curses, Boo was weak in basic magic, and he considered it to be shameful. He thought that he would be a bigger help to Yeon-woo if he were a dark magician, believing that there were too many limits to being a witch doctor.

However, Yeon-woo shook his head firmly. Magic could be learned from skill books, and it was completely different from dealing with corpses and souls. Although Yeon-woo dreamed of being a one-man army, there were limits to what he could do. Now, it seemed he’d found a chief of staff who would have his back. ‘It’s hard fighting by myself all the time. Now I can feel at ease and leave it to him.’

Since Boo could handle corpses, he could probably deal with Spirit Familiars as well. And with Fog of Blood, Death Summons, and Corpse Absorption, the battlefield could be manipulated according to Yeon-woo’s preference. He reassured Boo by saying that everything was fine.

Boo bowed his head even lower in gratitude. 「I will not…disappoint Master…」 Then, he quietly disappeared like fog.

“And now what’s left?” Since he already had a magician for rear support, he needed a knight to fight alongside him. Yeon-woo summoned Shanon’s soul from his collection. His soul had a deeper color and aura that befitted a semi-ranker.

Yeon-woo converted the rest of the souls into black energy and fed it to Shanon’s soul. With a cracking sound, the energy and the souls clashed into each other until a Spirit Familiar emerged.

「Where…am I?」 Shanon’s Spirit Familiar raised his head. He managed to retain some of his original consciousness.

“This is Red Dragon’s base, Shanon.”

「You!」 Shanon looked around and turned towards the voice, his eyes widening. 「Didn’t I…die by your hand?」 Shanon was confused for a moment, then he nodded like he’d just thought of something. 「I see. I died then came back to life. I’ve heard of witch doctors and dark magicians controlling souls, but I never heard of the souls being recovered completely like mine.」

The Black Bracelet was powerful enough to swallow Astrape, and it couldn’t be compared to other artifacts. However, since Yeon-woo didn’t have to explain anything, he kept silent and only looked calmly at Shanon, wondering how to get him on his side. Although he was a Spirit Familiar, he was so outstanding that Yeon-woo couldn’t help wanting more. ‘His level of awareness is already much sharper than Boo’s. If I could only make this person my death knight...’

Usually when Spirit Familiars were born, they only followed their raw instincts, but Shanon had managed to retain his sharp mind. 「Ah, and also, what about my final request?」 He had asked Yeon-woo to spare his subordinates after he died.

Yeon-woo nodded. “I sent them all away. However, the guys who were already—”

「Ah, that’s fine. It would be too greedy to ask for more.」 Shanon waved his hand and cut Yeon-woo off. He narrowed his eyes. 「If you’ve called me here, you must want something from me. It’s also rather strange that you’re at Red Dragon and not the Cheonghwado.」

Yeon-woo nodded and explained what he had been through, including the reason he was at Red Dragon and his motive for calling the Saber God out. Shanon’s eyes widened, and he laughed. 「Haha! You turned your back on the Saber God because of your loyalty to your friends. I like that. You’re not as avaricious as I heard you were.」 Shanon had considered his subordinates’ lives as his own, so he approved of Yeon-woo’s goal. 「However, you want me to be your death knight and subordinate?」

“Yes.”

「I refuse.」

Yeon-woo didn’t know what to say to that.

「You don’t even need to ask why. I was born and raised in Red Dragon, and I don’t intend to leave them even after death.」

Shanon’s loyalty for his clan was unmatched, and it could even be said that his affection for his subordinates came from his affection for his clan. However, Yeon-woo clucked his tongue to himself. He hadn’t expected it to be easy, but Shanon was a lot more stubborn than he’d believed. ‘I must get him on my side.’

It wasn’t easy to find a soul like Shanon’s, and he wanted to learn more about the focal points that Shanon had brought up during their battle. If he couldn’t persuade him, he planned on forcing him to surrender.

The problem was that Shanon’s soul might be damaged in the process, but if there wasn’t another way, he wouldn’t have a choice. “If I can’t convince you, l will have to force you.”

「Hm, do you have a way to do that?」

“I collected your soul. Don’t you think I have a way to bind you to me?”

「Hm, that’s true. I don’t want that to happen, no, no.」 Shanon muttered in an unhappy tone. Yeon-woo extended his hand and paused. It seemed as though Shanon was beginning to waver. 「Can’t you just send me off?」

“I can’t.”

「You’ve got so much greed that you won’t even let me rest in peace. Hm, I suppose it’s not too bad. I was under Red Dragon when I was alive, it should be fine to look outside now.」 Shanon was lost in contemplation for a moment. Then, he turned to look at Yeon-woo. 「I do have one condition.」

Yeon-woo pulled his hand back. “Go ahead.”

「I’ll obey you if you leave my free will alone and make me stronger than when I was alive. I want the power of a high ranker.」 Shanon’s blurry eyes glittered. Only one thing surpassed his loyalty to Red Dragon: the passion to become stronger. He hadn’t been able to pass the forty-ninth floor and remained a semi-ranker until his death. If there was anything he regretted, it was not becoming a ranker and climbing to the seventy-seventh floor. He wanted to be stronger, and fortunately, Yeon-woo had the same goal, as well.

“I will also become stronger. More than the others.”

「It’s settled, then. To be honest, I knew that you and I were the same as soon as I laid eyes on you, hehe.」

“But before that, there’s something I have to do. You might have to fight against Red Dragon and meet your comrades in war.” It was the last test Yeon-woo had for him.

「I’m prepared for that. If I’m starting a new life, I shouldn’t allow myself to be trapped by the past, right?」 He changed so much from how he’d been just a few moments ago that it seemed like he had become someone else.

“Why made you change your mind?”

「I don’t want to be stubborn.」

Yeon-woo didn’t know what to say to that.

「And I don’t want to lose part of myself. If I have to cross over, I want to do it with an intact mind. Also…」

Yeon-woo had a sensation that Shanon was smiling at him.

「I’m curious to see what you’ll pull off in the future. Won’t the view be better if I’m at your side?」

Yeon-woo shook his head. Shanon was difficult to understand. He was sturdy and firm, but he was also soft enough to bend. However, he was sure that with Shanon next to him, his path would become much smoother.

Yeon-woo pulled out his interdimensional pocket. “Now, please absorb the items in the order I give them to you.”

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