<Chapter 41. The Second Advent of the Sun God - 5>
Following Lee Shin Woo's entrance, the Sun God religion's Pope and the Evileye General, Shurina Von Hegel were oddly confronting each other in front of the dungeon. The Pope was worried that the Emperor was meddling with Lee Shin Woo through the 12 generals, and the Evileye General was also suspicious of Lee Shin Woo's sudden appearance.
Neither side could voice such doubts first, but even so, they couldn't hide all their negative feelings. It had been a full day since they set up camp, and as the second day passed, the mood became even worse.
Both sides seemed almost ready to fight against each other, but the wounded paladins and priests had then come out of the dungeon and cooled everyone down. Even the Pope was surprised with their haggard and disheveled appearance; their equipment was riddled with holes.
"What's going on!? W-What happened to Kay!?"
"Sir Kay is fine! But the dungeon...!"
An uninjured priest reported whilst shaking. The priest looked like he couldn't believe what he himself was saying.
"It turned into a level 8 dungeon...!"
"What!? No matter how strong Kay is, a level 8 dungeon is...!"
"What did you say!?"
The Pope yelled in shock. The Evileye General listening in from the side was likewise shocked. A level 7 dungeon was already classified as a national disaster, yet the dungeon's level had risen even further! Ultimately, she yelled at the Pope.
"Now what are you going to do!? By recklessly entering the dungeon, the 'Sun God's hero' made the dungeon even more dangerous!"
"What idiocy. Man cannot change a dungeon. It's simply assuming its true form! On the contrary, it's because of Kay that we've figured out how dangerous the dungeon truly is; yet, instead of thanking him, you want to shift all the blame onto him? Is this how the 12 generals do things? Is this how..."
The Evileye General knew what he would say next. He had wanted to say, 'Is this how the Empire does things?' He was trying to insult the Emperor! Capital punishment wouldn't be enough for his crime!
"The dungeon was dormant! If he hadn't gone into the dungeon, then it would've remained peaceful!"
"...Do you really think that? Have you never studied the basics (of dungeons)? I suppose being one of the 12 generals isn't all that. Isn't that so?"
Nonetheless, the Pope remained relaxed and replied whilst snorting, and the Evileye General, who'd wanted to retort, was speechless.
Of course she'd be. The fact that the 12 generals took shifts to watch over the dungeon meant that the word 'peaceful' didn't apply to it.
They knew that something would go wrong eventually, but because they didn't have enough manpower available, they put forth a stopgap measure instead of a proper one. In a way, the Magic Empire had brought this on themselves.
"Before you ask the Sun God religion to pay for its crimes, get the Emperor to apologize to all the citizens."
"That doesn't matter right now. We need to do something about the level 8 dungeon!"
"Ha. That was my original intention, but... I guess you're finally open to a constructive conversation."
The Pope watched as the Evileye General bit her lower lip in humiliation, and snorted once more. However, he wasn't actually feeling that great.
He came out strongly, so that the blame wouldn't be shifted onto the Sun God religion, but he couldn't help being worried about Lee Shin Woo, who was trapped inside the dungeon. Lee Shin Woo was the Sun God religion's treasure, as well as the link between him and the Lawrence shop. There was so much more he had to do, so he couldn't lose him here.
"...Report this matter to the Emperor in person. Kay is strong, but he can't clear a level 8 dungeon all on his own. If the other 12 generals are busy and cannot intervene, then you must get the Emperor to take action. The Empire's in danger. Do you understand?"
"Who's fault do you think this is... I understand. I was going to report this matter to His Majesty, anyway!"
The Evileye General tried to keep what was left of her pride, but the Pope had become so serious that she couldn't maintain eye contact and just went along with what he said.
The Sun God religion may be weak, but the Pope was always someone others couldn't look down upon. Compared to other religious orders, where the Pope was selected based on support, irrespective of level, the Pope of the Sun God religion was a priest who could control powerful flames from a young age and was a hero who had single-handedly rebuilt the declining Sun God religion!
In terms of both power and resolve, the Sun God religion's Pope was far greater than the other religious orders' popes. He had brought his order a young hero who would bring the order to new heights, so if Lee Shin Woo survived the dungeon, then the Sun God religion would soon be known as the most respectable religion in the land!
'But if that happens, it could harm the Emperor's reputation. Kay has to die no matter what...! We have to stop the level 8 dungeon's countercurrent, but I think we could wait until he dies first!'
Of course, the Pope mostly knew what she was thinking. He saw her call her soldiers over and secretly give them orders, so he clicked his tongue and called for the priests on standby. If that's how she was going to play, then he would respond in earnest. He already had something up his sleeve.
"Relay this news to the Great God, Merciful God, and Living God religious orders as soon as possible. There are things that we should tell them, but also things that we should hide. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"I understand, Your Holiness. Then I'll get going immediately!"
The relation between the Sun God religion and all the other religious orders wasn't good. However, when they fought against a common enemy, then they would prove to be the most trustworthy of allies. And if something this big was going on, then...
'I'd rather not let them in on our pie, but it's not worth trading our hero for it.'
Once the Pope and the Evileye General were finished taking appropriate measures, they looked at each other more menacingly than before. Then, the dungeon began to vibrate greatly. To be exact, the clashes within the dungeon had surpassed the dungeon's ability to contain them, and were thus affecting the outside world as well.
"Oh my god. The entrance to the dungeon has collapsed."
"This mana I feel from within the dungeon... Wait a second. Isn't this an undead's mana...?"
The Pope furrowed his brow. He knew about the disaster that was befalling the Underground Empire. It hadn't spread to the surface yet, but the undead had appeared in the dungeons halfway underground.
'I knew this would happen; the underground curse still hasn't been taken care of it.'
Dozens of years ago, each temple had been given an oracle. An oracle telling them to elect a hero to purify the undead curse.
At the time, the Emperor and the religious orders selected heroes and dispatched them to the Underground Empire. He hadn't heard of them ever coming back, but he remembered the Emperor saying that 'the curse has been taken care of, and that the barrier is as perfect as ever'. The Pope hadn't believed him, but he'd thought that the Emperor had something ready just in case... But considering what was happening now, it seemed like he didn't.
'Emperor. What exactly are you hoping for? How long are you going to stay on the sidelines and just watch? Do you really want us to all die together?'
He wouldn't leave them to die. Their country was recognized as an Empire because of its citizens, not the Emperor. The Emperor would soon realize. No, he would make him realize.
'To do that, you need to stay alive, Kay. Prove to me that I wasn't mistaken about you...!'
At that moment, Lee Shin Woo, the main topic of conversation, ignored the wailing bugs before him... and was at a loss.
[You have learned the fusion element, Beginner Dark Shadow! You succeeded in fusing the characteristics of shadow, which cannot become an element, with darkness to create a fusion element. Magic has increased by 20!]
[A shadow is hidden within the darkness, and looks as though it is not there. However, it most certainly exists. When the world is unable to differentiate the two, the shadow can then mishmash all cause and effect. This element could only be created by you, who possess the Joker's karma, and contains the power of 'reversal'. This element will show its true worth when used in conjunction with the Joker's innate skills.]
[By recognizing the other facets of darkness, you should be able to acquire a new element.]
That's strange. This wasn't what he was going for. He wasn't trying to acquire Dark Shadow, but Dark Flame!
Lee Shin Woo was flustered at the unforeseen situation. He had familiarized himself with the essence and structure of the dark flame, and knew, for the most part, how to create the element. There was plenty of the real thing in front of him, and he had tried his best to fuse fire and darkness, yet... Yet!
'So does that mean Bone Reinforcement and Absorption won't cut it?'
That was his one miscalculation. The parasites had gained the dark flames, as they possessed the ability to suck energy from their host; Lee Shin Woo had thought he could replicate those flames, as he possessed abilities similar to theirs. But at that point, Lee Shin Woo had already failed.
What influenced the creation of fusion elements was less about the skills and more about one's fundamental characteristics. Meaning it was related to one's class karma. For Lee Shin Woo, it was similar to his Joker karma!
'Dark Shadow, huh.'
He had attempted to fuse darkness and fire together, but in the process, he had cast a shadow with his fire and fused the resulting shadow with his darkness element. The necessary knowledge, the proper state of mind, and his magic was factored in, and he managed to acquire a fusion element. After all, 'even a blind pig can find an acorn once in a while'. 
"It's not half bad."
"No matter how I look at it, it's much more dangerous than the dark flame!"
"But it's much harder to use than the dark flame. I've got one more thing I have to practice from now on."
And... Lee Shin Woo raised his head. The battle among the three Dark Flame Ghosts had gradually intensified, and the one Lee Shin Woo had been controlling was now covered in wounds.
Everything that happened from now would be crucial. Even now, the resistance of the 'host' below was fierce, and contrary to the dying Dark Flame Ghost, the other two seemed to be in good condition. If he didn't take them down in the proper order, then the situation may become too much for him to deal with. If that's the case, then...
"Alright. You've done well."
Lee Shin Woo clenched his fist towards the Dark Flame Ghost he'd been controlling. Then, its armor sprouted sharp spears and tore through its rotten flesh. Jin predicted what would happen next.
As expected! The thorn armor, which had pierced through its entire body (from the tip of its head to the bottom of its feet), exploded! It was exhausted due to the battle, so there was no way it'd be able to survive the explosion. It let out a death throe and finally found peace.
"I wasn't rewarded yet. I guess it's because I haven't resolved the situation."
Once it died, he snatched the midair loot and grinned. By killing one of the three, the barrier began to shake even more than before, and the remaining two Dark Flame Ghosts looked at him and couldn't hide their unease. They still weren't able to remove their bone armor.
"Wait just a little while longer, kids."
Lee Shin Woo controlled the bone armor, immobilizing the Dark Flame Ghosts (while they were fighting amongst themselves, Lee Shin Woo had been analyzing them and as a result, could halt their movements with much less effort than before), and looked over the bone in his hand.
It was entirely jet-black and unassuming, but he sensed an extraordinary energy within.
"Let's get to level 8 before we fight the boss."
He used Bone Reinforcement without hesitating, absorbing the rib bone that the pitiful Dark Flame Ghost had left behind.
 T/N: "An incompetent person or an unsystematic approach is bound to succeed every now and then by chance."Previous Chapter Next Chapter