<Chapter 45. Heaven Defying General's Stage - 3>
[The Golden Shadow General... He has quite the troublesome ability.]
[But his bones will be buried in this city today.]
"I don't really like that expression... You gotta eat all the way down to the bone too."
The pressure exerted by Tarian Von Retadane's Anti-Skull force (there were three level 7 elites including him, fifteen level 6 elites, and 500 normal level 6s) and Arema Steelworker's Metal Army (which consisted of the Four Heavenly Commanders (level 7 elites) and 200 level 6 elite golems).
But Lee Shin Woo was all alone. He was, of course, with the level 8 Jin, but to everyone else, Jin just looked like a strong warhorse. Arema Steelworker then asked.
[What about your subordinates?]
"They're doing their own thing. They're keeping the Golden Shadow General busy."
Lee Shin Woo had only brought along his Chi Paul squad, which only consisted of 31 Chi Pauls.
However, there were five level 7 elites among them, and the rest were level 6 elites at the cusp of level 7, so his force was no pushover. Lee Shin Woo spoke so nonchalantly that both Anti-Skull and the Metal Army felt tense.
"We're all on the same side now, right? Don't be so tense. My boys won't be able to stop the Golden Shadow General on their own... So, that's why I'm asking for your help."
[...That's true. As expected of the Heaven Defying General.]
Unlike his reply, his expression indicated no signs of understanding. In the midst of the heavy silence, the two forces exchanged glances. Lee Shin Woo had forced Anti-Skull and the Metal Army into an uneasy alliance, so there was no way they'd be pleased.
'So long as I possess the golems' bodies, there's no way they'll attack me first. But, Anti-Skull doesn't know that yet...'
He didn't know why, but for some reason, Anti-Skull was hostile towards him, and he didn't want this situation to drag on forever. Tarian would probably try to consult with Arema when Lee Shin Woo wasn't looking, and if he fails (he would obviously fail), there was a chance that their alliance would break apart.
'If there's no way of bringing Anti-Skull over to my side, then it wouldn't be such a bad idea to make them fight against the golems.'
Although he was working together with them, Lee Shin Woo's brain was still busy. He also couldn't keep the golems on his side forever. Before they tried something in an attempt to regain their bodies from him, he would need to find the right time to kill them...
'How could I take care of them without them noticing?', Lee Shin Woo wondered, and then asked Tarian Von Retadane, who hadn't been able to fully conceal his killing intent.
"The Annihilation Flame Sword God isn't with you?"
[He didn't come. He had something more important to do.]
"This is an important assignment."
[As his representative, my abilities and position are sufficient.]
"Sufficient abilities and position, huh."
He probably wasn't wrong. Although Tarian Von Retadane couldn't match Arema Steelworker, he was definitely stronger than Arema's Four Heavenly Commanders.
But unlike Arema, who personally led his Metal Army, Anti-Skull's leader hadn't come, which felt a bit off... Lee Shin Woo directed his questioning gaze at Guillotine, and Guillotine just shrugged his shoulders.
[We'll ask them later. But the alliance isn't as solid as you'd think.]
It seemed as though Anti-Skull wasn't the only one with trust issues. He wondered. It could be the truth, but... Perhaps the golems were dissatisfied with Lee Shin Woo, as he held the noose around their necks, and were just hiding their true feelings.
'I feel like it'll be fine, no matter how the situation turns, but... I suppose I should send Kratia a message first.'
Once he'd simply explained the situation to her, he looked over the Anti-Skull squad once more. Unlike the undead he'd awakened, the Anti-Skull's undead emitted a familiar type of mana. Lee Shin Woo wondered what it was but soon found the answer.
That's right. Although Anti-Skull had experimented with a variety of poisons, he sensed traces of the light element from their mana. Of course, they couldn't use the light element on their own, they just gave off the feeling that they'd somehow copied the light element.
'It makes sense. After all, if you have the light element, the element that represents life, then you should be able to fight back against the undead curse. Perhaps these guys have retained their intellect, and they're no longer ordinary undead due to the light element's severing effect.'
As always, it was just his delusions at work and he didn't have any proof, but it made sense. However, he still had his doubts. If those countless tests to resist the undead curse were an attempt to obtain the light element, then who the hell was Seagald Von Retadane, the one in charge of those tests?
'There are plenty of clues.'
Seira Von Retadane, who could use the light element. The royal family, with power that matched Jissehanu's at the time of their exile and was also the origin of the Retadane family. It was likely that the Retadane family studied the light element.
Seira Von Retadane and Seagald Von Retadane were likely born with the ability to wield light, and that's why Seagald was capable of executing such a grandiose plan.
'Like my affinity with the darkness element...'
He could easily understand why Seira Von Retadane became the first hero, and why Pleine was chosen as God's apostle. It was because their family was born with the light element!
Lineage was everything. After all, the Golden Shadow General was the firstborn of a family that could control shadows.
'However, that's where things differ... How you use what you have and how you develop it. And this guy... No matter how I think of it, he failed.'
At some point, Lee Shin Woo discovered thin black threads secretly traveling across the ground and the nearby buildings. The mana threads were created from the buildings' and peoples' shadows.
He thought he had hidden himself, but it was a pitiful attempt to Lee Shin Woo, who could use Dark Shadow. It might work if the Golden Shadow were fighting against those weaker than him, but how would his technique fare against Lee Shin Woo...?
When Lee Shin Woo was about to secretly extend his sword and slice the shadow, Arema, who was standing at the forefront, discovered the traces and stiffly ordered his troops to stop. Unlike the others, Jin, who had been walking slowly to match their pace, stopped with ease.
[He's nearby. Golden Shadow! A tough battle awaits us. The nearby roads and buildings have been turned inside out...!]
[Is it the Golden Shadow General's barrier!?]
Right when the group flinched and stopped, Chi Paul reported through telepathy. The Golden Shadow had been caught in the traps, but ultimately, the Golden Shadow General joined the battle. Although three of the Chi Pauls, including one level 7 elite, had sustained critical injuries and were forced to retire, the rest of his forces were able to retreat safely.
He was a level 8 capable of controlling shadows and was also a part of the 12 Generals, yet none of them had died. As he thought, their anger towards Arema Steelworker was increasing their abilities by a 'level' or perhaps even more.
[Tell the injured to return. Pick out only those who can still fight and wait at the place I designate. If all goes well, you may be able to fight against Anti-Skull as well.]
[Everyone, get ready for battle. He'll likely ambush us. Focus!]
Lee Shin Woo saw the Metal Army and Anti-Skull prepare for battle and summoned his own weapons. It was the jet-black Giant Drake Horn Lance that he'd infused darkness mana into prior! Arema Steelworker and Tarian Von Retadane flinched at the sight of it.
[Where did you get...?]
[...Darkness? It is darkness!]
Lee Shin Woo had fully charged his seventeen weapons with mana, but only nine of them had been floating in the air. The other eight had been hiding in the shadows, but he'd chosen to extract them. He wasn't really trying to show off, but it was kind of laughable that a level 8 golem was flinching.
"Is this the first time you've seen a lance?"
[If you can wield darkness so easily, then even if you were to fight alone... He's coming!]
Suddenly, the shadow underneath them spread out and covered the entire area! It seemed as though it would dye the entire world black. Arema Steelworker gritted his teeth, gathered his own mana, and fought back against the darkness. However, he was only able to protect a portion of his golems. Most of them had been trapped within the darkness.
[Vellun Von Dorthe...!]
[Arema Steelworker. You finally show your true colors. To think you'd so fearlessly step foot into one of His Majesty's cities. I'm happy that I'll be able to bury you here.]
A gloomy man's voice resounded throughout the darkness. Although they were both level 8s, it seemed as though the Golden Shadow General's command over his element overpowered Arema's. Arema instantly gathered his mana and fired it within the darkness. However, the darkness merely dispersed for a short time and soon filled the air once more.
[You really think you can fill the entire world with darkness?]
[The Underground Empire is governed by darkness. Your metal element is merely unusual. That's all!]
[Come on. I'll show you the true strength of that unusual power of mine...!]
It felt like they'd come to blows at any time. But surprisingly, the Golden Shadow General didn't strike. Rather than challenging Arema Steelworker's golden mana, the Golden Shadow General safely hid within the darkness and then ambushed one of the Four Heavenly Commanders.
It was the right call. Since Stake hadn't been able to mount a proper defense and was completely destroyed. It made sense. After all, it was the surprise attack of a level 8 and one of the 12 Generals. Even Lee Shin Woo had briefly lost track of his movements.
'His stats are geared towards Agility and Magic. It's a classic strategy. He relies on magic, rather than physical strength to hurt his enemies.'
Stake Steelworker's death signaled the start of the battle. The Golden Shadow General's forces attacked all at once.
His forces hid within the darkness he'd created and continually appeared and disappeared in different areas. They then grouped up and attacked, looking like a wave of darkness.
'As I thought, using shadows was a specialized form of darkness.
But Lee Shin Woo could see them clearly, as he'd reached peak darkness mastery. If he mixed his darkness within theirs, then he could quickly defeat their entire force, but because he knew that Anti-Skull was hiding something, Lee Shin Woo decided to not do more than what was necessary.
'They act like they're so powerful, but the technique doesn't feel invincible... Heup!'
Lee Shin Woo swung his lance strangely. The approaching wave lost its cutting edge and collapsed instantaneously. The Golden Shadow, which had been pointing their weapons at Lee Shin Woo, were flung out. He squashed a portion of them with his lance and challenged the Golden Shadow General.
"You've just lost your subordinates. You just going to sit there?"
[Keuk. You rat. Let's see how long you can avoid me!]
Lee Shin Woo had just grinned at the face of Stake Steelworker's death and fought off the Golden Shadow with ease. Arema Steelworker was enraged at the sight, spread out his mana, and began to chase after the Golden Shadow General. Tarian Von Retadane's Anti-Skull force was likewise struggling against the Golden Shadow.
'Let's see. I wonder what Anti-Skull's hidden objective is...'
If Rem was with him, then he'd be able to more easily observe their movements. Unfortunately, it wasn't with him right now. But now that it'd come to this, there was no helping it. He had no choice but to use his last resort: 'asking the bones themselves'.
'All of you, attack Tarian. That's right. So that I can easily kill him unnoticed... Just a little more. You can do it, Golden Shadow!'
Lee Shin Woo licked his lips and his lance slowly melted into the darkness. The Golden Shadow General probably had no idea that the darkness he'd created was being used by someone else.Previous Chapter Next Chapter