<Chapter 38. The Peddler and the Adventurer - 3>
The other humans or even the golems didn't have a chance to intervene. Lee Shin Woo ran across the battlefield alone, spreading flames everywhere. His greatsword's flames wouldn't abate until its targets were burned to a crisp, and he, like the flames, continued to burn bright, regardless of the magic or stamina cost.
But that was only natural. No matter how much he looked like a human, he was undead. So he would never tire, and his magic...
'Good. This ability's the best when handling elemental power.'
When Lee Shin Woo reached level 7, he became able to influence the ambient mana. It wasn't the same as the level 8 Archmage, Feotane Von Seldin's ability to dominate mana, but befitting his title of a Breathing Bone Joker, he could influence nearby mana whenever he expelled mana, as if breathing.
And the longer he used that ability, the quicker he could influence the surrounding mana. By now, he could influence a huge area. In other words, it would take some time to power it up, but if given enough time, he could even take on a level 8. At least in terms of controlling mana.
'And if the element itself becomes a medium, then that speed increases significantly.'
His mana-made flames infected the ambient mana, which in turn, created new flames. Of course, he could absorb those flames with his Absorption ability and revert them back into mana, but Lee Shin Woo wasn't actually using up any mana right now.
It would be different if he were using an extra-large skill, but simply creating flames with the Fire element would barely leave a mark on his magic. On the contrary, he absorbed the flames that came back to him, ensuring that he had almost a full tank of magic. Although he'd caused this, it was almost scary even to him.
"It's become a sea of flames."
"Jin, the boss is coming."
He'd fought for only 3 minutes, yet half of the monsters had been annihilated. There's no way the boss wouldn't notice that! The boss looked at Lee Shin Woo sharply and soon began to run towards him.
"Guuuuu, that thing's making the same sound you make."
"Hey, isn't that too harsh?"
The Mad Goat Ghoul, surrounded in flames, took a single step and cried out, as if it had just stepped into hell, and then charged through!
Its cry released a magic resembling death. It spread throughout the entire area, and simultaneously strengthened the undead and weakened the living. Unfortunately, Lee Shin Woo wasn't living, so it hadn't affected him at all!
'The darkness of death is permeating the area. The Darkness element... Or is it only a fraction of it? Those who it shares its identity with, or in other words, those it's connected to are strengthened while it simultaneously debuffs those it's not connected to; a very complicated buff skill. Though it's probably using the skill without even knowing it's using the Darkness element.'
But the problem was that the monsters which had transformed into the undead inherently possessed the Darkness element. If this were normal, then there should've been some sign of their transformation. Because the Mad Goat Ghoul possessed a skill powerful enough to affect the entire dungeon and change all the monsters into the undead, it had skipped all of the intermediate steps and went directly to the result.
There was another problem: the Mad Goat Ghoul's resurrection. While Ghouls ate humans too, their strength would increase the most when eating corpses!
When the Mad Goat Ghoul realized how powerful Lee Shin Woo was, it ate any undead in its path, like Metafel Rerdan had done in the past, and its power continued to increase.
If he hadn't intervened and the boss had invaded the city unimpeded, then the city would've fallen, as its death ability would spread, killing every living being inside. Perhaps it would harm other cities as well, eventually resulting in the birth of a level 7 elite undead.
Well, that's what would've happened had Lee Shin Woo not been here at least.
"You really are weak."
The Mad Goat Ghoul reminded him of Metafel Rerdan, as it did everything that he had once done. It led an army and then proceeded to eat said army. He looked at the Mad Goat Ghoul and clicked his tongue as if disappointed. He would've hated it less if it had evolved, but...
"You're base stats are too low. Even if you ate everything here, you still wouldn't reach level 7."
"When did you figure that out...?"
"I didn't know I could before, but I could somewhat tell after I checked its bone data and its mana level."
To think he could use bones to thoroughly ascertain its abilities. What's worse, it wasn't even completely composed of bones like a skeleton, but a ghoul, which almost completely retained its previous body! Jin was fearful, as he wondered just how far Lee Shin Woo's Rule of Bone skill would grow.
"Hoo. Now then."
If he knew with absolute certainty that it would evolve to level 7, then he would wait patiently, but if it couldn't, then there was no point in waiting any longer.
Lee Shin Woo looked straight at the approaching Mad Goat Ghoul and lightly raised his greatsword. He waited until the goat had gotten so close that Jin could even feel its breath and then...
Swung his sword downwards!
Of course, the Mad Goat Ghoul was a dungeon boss and could use the Darkness element, albeit poorly. Despite the speed of his attack, the Mad Goat Ghoul responded quickly, forming a magic shield, casting a curse on him, and drawing the nearby undead corpses to in an attempt to defend itself.
However, Lee Shin Woo let it be, not because he didn't know what it was doing, but because nothing would change even if it tried anything. So he just let it do its thing.
The Fire Dragon's Scale Greatsword burrowed deep into the ground and released flames as though it were coughing. Lee Shin Woo twisted the sword, softly removed it from the ground, and sighed.
Right after, the Mad Goat Ghoul's body was split in half and burned. All that remained was Perium and a single goat horn. The horn emitted a dense concentration of darkness, so a magician researching the Darkness element would find it valuable. But to Lee Shin Woo, who could already use High Rank Darkness, it was pointless.
"You want it?"
It was pretty worthless to both Lee Shin Woo and Jin at this point, but he instinctively felt like he had to take it. Was it because he was Korean? He picked up the black goat horn, stashed it in his armor, and raised his head. All of the undead were looking at him.
"I thought it'd turn out this way. Beast-type undead lack brains."
When the boss was killed, the undead temporarily stopped moving. Since the boss, which had a clear goal while commanding them was gone, they had lost all motivation to move.
All that was left of them were their undead instincts. The instinct to curse, but also yearn for the living! They foolishly gathered around him, like honeybees to a flower, without realizing that the fragrance of life he emitted was a ruse.
"The underground's undead are better. They know how to recognize fear and run away."
Lee Shin Woo clicked his tongue and stabbed his greatsword back into the ground. At that moment, a huge amount of flames spewed out from the blade, covering the land. Hundreds of monsters were burned all at once, and then even more.
Although it was powerful, it wasn't a skill or magic. He just used his greatsword as a medium to create a high quantity of high rank flames. It was only possible because he already took control of the entire area's mana.
"Wow, they're like ants coming for a piece of candy."
What was even more surprising was that the undead continued to throw themselves into the flames. They had already lost all control, each and every one of them being drawn to his scent, and then they were burned.
After that process continued for a while, no undead were left remaining. His expedition had ended in an instant.
Then, Lee Shin Woo realized. The strongest mercenary, Kay. He had planned on using Kay as Lawrence's trustworthy backer, and show such skill that no one in the city could ignore him, but... Things had gotten out of hand. Perhaps...
"Did I go overboard...?"
Jin sighed and replied. Then, he looked above the castle walls. The humans were still up there. As humans, they couldn't see him, but Lee Shin Woo could see them. They looked at him as though he were a god.
"What are you going to do about that? At this rate, they'll start worshipping you."
"Faith doesn't come so easily. If it did, then pseudo religious leaders would be out of business. Well, it's a lot different from my original plan, but this isn't so bad. I gained quite a bit from acquiring the golems, so I suppose I can afford to make my plan a bit more aggressive than before."
After showing such overwhelming dignity, there was no way he could just leave and say 'I'll be going now'. Interested parties from the city, and even humans in high positions may come and find him. It might feel burdensome, but the amount of information and goods that he could obtain would increase immensely.
'There is one thing that worries me. The Emperor of the Magic Empire, who Pleine told me not to approach under any circumstances.'
He decided that it wouldn't be such a bad idea to meet with distinguished figures to obtain information on the Emperor. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
"I can’t let it be. I need to be more active, if for no other reason than to figure out what that damn God is thinking. Well, if the worst case scenario does happen, then I can just sacrifice a life and run."
"It's hard to use the Blessing of Death here, so let's not."
"But death energy is scattered all around. Charge it up while you still can. ...Now then, I'm going to collect the loot now."
Lee Shin Woo used Rule of Bone discreetly so that the humans atop the castle walls wouldn't notice, and drew all the Perium, as well as the bones towards him ASAP.
He collected the loot within 10 minutes, which was kind of funny considering the fact that it had taken longer than the battle.
"The Sun God's hero!"
"Ooh. Oh, hero!"
Jin collected the death energy and Lee Shin Woo the loot. By the time they were done and grouped back up, the humans, having confirmed that it was safe, began to exit the gates one or two at a time. They gazed at Lee Shin Woo with bright eyes and shouted something, which was something Lee Shin Woo had heard before.
"The Sun God...?"
"To think that the Sun God still loved the (Magic) Empire this much..." 
"Let us thank the Sun God for sending us a hero!"
"Sun God's hero, please come this way! I would like to hear your name!"
The guard captain of the eastern gate stood at the forefront and exclaimed. Lee Shin Woo had never heard of the 'Sun God's hero' before, but he was sure that they were referring to him!
Lee Shin Woo briefly thought about how he'd deal with this new title, but soon organized his thoughts, grinned and said.
"Good, so you know who I am! Indeed, I am the hero, Kay, that was sent by the Sun God to help you!"
His current identity was already a pain in the ass to deal with, yet he still had the nerve to make such a lie! Jin cried out, but Lee Shin Woo didn't let it worry him at all. If other people were to misunderstand and make up a great identity for him, then there was no point to straightening it out!
"Oh, by the way. As per God's command, I formed a contract with Lawrence, the peddler, so keep that in mind."
"The peddler, Lawrence!"
"Ooh, so that extraordinary man was supported by the Sun God!"
"All hail the Sun God!"
The misunderstanding had spread, and no one could handle the situation. Lee Shin Woo felt how chaotic the situation had become and nodded his head in satisfaction. While Jin despaired and lowered his head, a message appeared before Lee Shin Woo like always.
[The Acting skill has become Lv20. Perhaps you can fool even natural phenomena.]
His acting was so natural that if a Sun God did exist, they would say something like 'Ah, I really did send a hero!'. Lee Shin Woo grinned and stored his greatsword.
Perhaps God would come to regret sending him to the surface, but it was already too late to take him back.
 T/N: Both the undead and humans use the word empire, but for clarification purposes, I add in whether it's the Magic Empire or the Underground Empire. Toy Car tends to use 'surface/underground' to refer to the (Magic) Empire and the (Underground) Empire, but I often replace the former, as it's incredibly awkward to use in an actual sentence.Previous Chapter Next Chapter