<Chapter 37. Heaven Door's Key - 3>
They exited a short tunnel of light and arrived at the surface.
Lee Shin Woo raised his head, looking at the star filled night sky, as well as the gently shining three moons, and said something stupid, which was unlike him. Each moon was radiating a pale, golden light.
Jin looked around and also responded stupidly. It was only natural. It'd been about a year since Jin and Lee Shin Woo were transported to the Underground Empire and they had never had the opportunity to look at the sky. So, they couldn't help but reminisce as they looked at the endless sky.
"Shin Woo. Couldn't we live peacefully if we just stayed here?"
Was he drunk from the night sky's relaxing mana? Jin suddenly said something stupid again. Although he understood where he was coming from, Lee Shin Woo cool-headedly retorted.
"If we do nothing, then the curse will eventually reach the surface and it'll fall to ruin. And it's not like we can rely on our seniors to do something about the curse."
"...Yeah, that's true."
"But since we're here, let's rest in a peaceful spot without any of the undead."
Peaceful, relax, rest. Just a few hours ago, those words had nothing to do with them. Lee Shin Woo would always either seek an opponent and fight them, or would be engrossed in some effort to better himself.
Since he was always by Lee Shin Woo's side, Jin had to remain ready at all times. That's part of the reason he had been training his Steel Heart or breathing.
"Though we'll need to learn more about the surface first."
"I know. ...But Shin Woo, what does it even mean to relax?"
Jin suddenly asked, and Lee Shin Woo smiled bitterly. In order to go to the surface, Lee Shin Woo had disguised himself in his human form and maintained his past life's expressions.
"Another question that's hard to answer."
"I know what the dictionary definition is, but..."
Jin looked at the night sky and said.
"For me, relaxing used to be eating and sleeping if I had the time after a contest. Then I'd have the energy to run again. But in this body, I can't eat and I can't sleep either. I don't know what I should do to relieve my fatigue. Does resting even make sense for an undead?"
Ah, it seemed like he was still affected by his meeting with the heroes. Lee Shin Woo wanted to bring him to the surface for a change of scenery, but it had the opposite effect, making Jin feel even greater despair.
Should he tell him to stop complaining? No, if he did that, Jin would get discouraged. If that's the case, then... Lee Shin Woo pondered the ways in which he could comfort his partner and then carefully said.
"...There are a lot of other ways to enjoy yourself."
"So what, you're going to tell me how to enjoy myself?"
"Yeah, I can do that much."
"...I see. Thanks."
Good. Fortunately, he chose the right answer! Seeing Lee Shin Woo so relieved, Jin grinned.
"You know, you don't have to always take care of me when I'm acting like a little kid."
"It's important to take care of your comrade's mental health."
"Comrade... Mm, yeah. ...Is that really enough for me?"
Lee Shin Woo didn't really know what Jin's muttering meant, but with this, it seemed like Jin was feeling a bit better.
Perhaps he'd been gloomy because all they'd been doing is fighting recently and they hadn't had the time to relax and spend time with each other. Yeah, one way to relax was to talk with your comrade like this.
Lee Shin Woo nodded his head in satisfaction since Jin was looking a lot better. However, he soon realized that this wasn't the time to be sitting here. They'd been entranced by the night sky's magic thus far.
"Where are we? Pleine told us we'd be transported to a safe location, but she didn't tell us anything else."
[Shall I look around, Master?]
"I'm counting on you."
Rem had no problem seeing in the day or night. Rem flew off into the night sky, and Lee Shin Woo also looked around. He saw trees and thickets around him, so they must be in a forest or the mountains. That was the only thing no different from the Underground Empire.
[I have found a human city, Master.]
"You're really quick."
Lee Shin Woo got excited all of a sudden. Indeed. Another facet that was different here was that there were living, breathing human beings!
While there was no guarantee that he could really do anything more with humans, it was a far cry from his and Jin's life of hiding amongst the undead and enduring thus far. So, they felt touched.
If they met a lot of humans, then they might despair like before, but even so, they wanted to meet humans, not the undead, living peacefully.
[It looks like an incredibly large city. It is still lively, even though it is night time. Security is tight as well.]
"Really? If this place was deliberately chosen as my starting coordinates, then I'll have to thank Pleine. ...What should we do? Should we go in right away?"
"Would they accept outsiders at this time of day? Apparently, security's tight too."
"We'd obviously go in undetected."
Lee Shin Woo firmly declared. Immediately after, Lee Shin Woo looked at his and Jin's appearances. Not only was Lee Shin Woo disguised as his human form, but he was also equipped with ordinary armor and a cape. However, Jin was the problem.
When Jin became level 7, his bones became thicker and tougher, while his body became bigger. Furthermore, his Steel Heart armor made him so threatening that it felt like he could snort at a knight and blow him away. Anyone seeing this impressive warhorse would be suspicious of Lee Shin Woo.
"Then... Jin... For the time being, you'll be a pack horse."
"Why!? I thought you'd be able to turn me into a human with your Disguise skill!? I was waiting in anticipation!"
"Sorry. I can't turn a horse into a human yet. Instead, I'll disguise you so that you look like a plump pack horse."
"I really don't like this..."
To be honest, it felt like he'd be able to turn him into a human if he stressed himself. Plus, with his contract and the High Rank Assimilation skill, they would be able to share their thoughts with each other. It wouldn't be impossible to disguise Jin into the form that he was thinking about.
'But he might be traumatized again if I just transform the outside of his body.'
Jin had endured well for the past few months, but because of everything that had happened recently, his "mental HP" was close to zero. He would only turn Jin into a human after his Disguise skill had fundamentally evolved.
Yeah, he couldn't do it until his Disguise could replicate internal organs, return a human's sense of taste, and allow him to eat to his heart's content.
"You're a pack horse, so I'll be a peddler. We should go around the city. Plus, I have a lot of things to sell. Alright. I'll be the peddler, Lawrence."
"If you're a peddler, your name has to be Lawrence."
Jin didn't ask for the details. He knew Lee Shin Woo wouldn't give him the answer he was looking for, so it was his mistake for even asking.
"Then, shall we get going Holo... I mean Jin." 
"What about my disguise?"
"I already did it."
Jin instinctively looked down at his legs and was shocked once he realized that his legs had changed. That wasn't all. His body had become smaller, so that he looked like a real pack horse.
His stats hadn't changed, so neither his speed nor durability had changed, but still, there was no way he wouldn't be surprised. He hadn't felt anything, yet he was disguised instantly. Moreover, from the outside, his body looked so alive...
"My Disguise skill lets you feel the texture and heat of your skin, so we don't have to worry about getting caught. But you still can't eat or drink anything, so keep that in mind."
"Hey, why the hell is a cheat skill like this called 'Disguise'...?"
Lee Shin Woo just grinned, turned around, and announced.
"Let's go! Rem, find me a way in! I need to go unnoticed!"
Even if he acted like a peddler and sold goods inside, he would still have to get into the city unnoticed. He would infiltrate the city only after he'd figured out whether they had any surveillance magic, barriers, or specialized flying monsters (like Rem) or golems.
And in only 5 minutes, they easily entered the city.
"You said security's tight?"
"They're still only level 2 or 3. With Rem's help, getting in was a piece of cake."
To be more specific, the surface dwellers were roughly the same level as the undead. Although there were differences amongst the Skeleton Soldiers, they would only reach up to level 3, regardless of how large the city was.
The undead soldiers guarding the large cities in the Underground Empire were level 3 elites, but those guarding the large cities on the surface were mostly level 2. There were barely any level 3s, so he could say that the quality of the undead soldiers was higher. The level 3 soldiers were probably high rank soldiers.
'A person's species and skills can make the difference, even if their levels and stats are the same. But those soldiers are weaker than the undead, since the undead possess limitless stamina.'
It might be different for those with a higher rank job, but normal Skeleton Soldiers were much stronger than the surface's soldiers. While thinking this, Lee Shin Woo led his precious pack horse and went into the city, mixing in naturally with the other residents.
Because he'd observed peoples' looks and had disguised himself accordingly ahead of time, Lee Shin Woo and Jin didn't draw any attention as they walked through the street. No one knew that two undead were in their midst.
'Everywhere I look, there's nothing but people. Living, breathing people...!'
'God was so concerned about the curse, so I thought the surface would be on its way to ruin, but I suppose I have nothing to worry about for now.'
God's viewpoint was different from a human's viewpoint. Perhaps there were dozens of years before the curse spread to the surface. Though that didn't mean they could just laze around and do nothing.
'That's right. First... I need to make sure I can go around like this without any problems. Plus, I might find some fault in the technique.'
'If you really want to be a peddler, then you'll need some sort of license... So what are you going to do?'
'I'll gather information from around the city. Let's find some accommodations. Rem, gather some more information at a lower altitude.'
They found accommodations rather quickly. Although it felt pointless to get accommodations when they didn't eat or sleep, they couldn't just walk around all night. Otherwise, they would be 'mistaken' for the undead.
"It might feel uncomfortable, but just be patient for now."
"A stable's much better than the wilderness in the Underground Empire. I'll be resting, so go do your thing."
Lee Shin Woo loosely tied Jin to the stable/storehouse that was attached to his room and then went inside. He'd deliberately picked a place with a saloon and a cafe. He picked a table, sat down, and listened to the drinkers chatter on. He planned on getting some usable information out of them.
"The Emperor should've summoned the heroes. Rather than being dropped into the Underground Empire and becoming skeletons..."
Lee Shin Woo suddenly realized that something was wrong with the hero summoning from the very beginning, but then, Rem abruptly gave his report.
[I have discovered golems patrolling the inside of the city. I have taken control of them through Mana Parasite, so I believe I can get you all the information you need.]
"Ah... Ok. Thanks."
Lee Shin Woo quickly canceled his order of vodka, which he'd ordered for cover, and stood up.
As expected, perhaps it wasn't the hero summoning that was the problem, but that the heroes themselves were the problem. Lee Shin Woo tried his best to ignore that very thought.
 E/N: Reference to Lawrence and Holo from Spice and Wolf.Previous Chapter Next Chapter