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Stop, Friendly Fire! - Chapter 1

Published at 3rd of December 2018 09:39:27 PM


Chapter 1

<Chapter 1 . Reinforcement Hero >


 

After he had accepted that he would have to deal with a skeleton body (bald and impotent) from now on (even he thought it was an incredible feat of composure), Lee Shin Woo began to earnestly research his status .  

If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles . It was a basic principle to know oneself before entering the battlefield . Though he still lacked the courage to actually seek out his enemies .

 

[Lee Shin Woo]

[Normal Skeleton Blessed by God]

[Lv - 1]

[Strength - 13 Agility - 13 Health - 13 Magic - 3]

[Passive skills - Invisible Heart Lv1]

[Active skills - Bone Reinforcement Lv1]

 

'I get that I'm a skeleton, but what does this blessing thing mean?'

 

As expected, he was most concerned about his class . No matter how he thought about it, this wasn't a blessing, it was a curse . What exactly is the blessing? When he carefully thought about it, a series of text appeared, just like when he had called out the status window .

 

[You are a skeleton that was blessed and created by God . As such, you will not take any damage from holy magic, and will instead receive 1 . 5x the normal recovery rate . ]

[You are unaffected by curses, as you were blessed by God . Your body is immune to all curses . ]

 

"That's unexpectedly amazing!"

 

The ability was truly befitting of the word blessed! It felt like it wouldn't be out of place to replace the term 'skeleton' with the term 'angel' instead . But she should've just made him an angel in the first place then . . . He thought pointlessly, and went over the next item .  

 

'In some ways, starting at level one is natural . And as for my physical abilities or my magic . . . I don't know the standard here, so it doesn't matter . '

 

He skipped past the level and stats and checked his skills, which were a reflection of his negotiations with God . He had one passive skill and one active skill, and Lee Shin Woo checked the passive skill first .  

 

[Invisible Heart Lv1 (Passive)]

[Your heart cannot be seen, nor can it be grabbed . You are immune to mental status ailments, and you will revive even if your body is broken to pieces . Each revival will increase the skill level by 1 . Each skill level will increase your stats by 3 . However, you will be completely destroyed if the skill reaches the max level (Lv100) . ]

 

One of the secrets had been solved . He wondered why he was so composed despite being dumped into a situation like this, and it was all thanks to this skill! However, since it would help him survive in his current situation and wouldn't be detrimental, he accepted the truth quite easily .  

 

'So, a perfect immortal body is impossible? But with this . . . '

 

Did this mean he had 99 lives? Well, it didn't seem like he would die under ordinary circumstances . Moreover, whenever he died, he would gain additional stat bonuses . Isn't this an ability that forces him to accept that he’d become a skeleton?

Of course, he didn't know what would happen if his body was broken into several pieces all at once, or if it were possible to die several times at once . He had other questions like those, but since they were questions he couldn't solve right away, he decided that he'd solve those problems later . Rather, it was actually better for it to remain unsolved forever .  

 

[Bone Reinforcement Lv1 (Active)]

[Sacrifice a bone, or a piece of bone equipment in order to reinforce your bones or your bone equipment . You can absorb the special experiences and memories within the bone . The higher the level, the more effective the absorption . ]

 

The last one was the skill that would 'theoretically' allow Lee Shin Woo to grow indefinitely . But why didn't he feel inspired when he saw it?

 

'There's no way to find out until I get a bone and try it out myself . . . '

 

While thinking that, a series of text suddenly appeared before his eyes .

 

[A quest has been generated!] 

 

"Ah, a quest . "

 

This was honestly a nice time for a quest since he didn't know where to go . Perhaps the quest had waited for this moment . The contents of the quest were very suitable for him as well .  

 

[The Entrance of the Underground Empire]

[The place where you have arrived at is the Underground Empire's exterior passageway, where the effects of the curse are almost non-existent . However, the Empire's guards are always patrolling these areas . Whether you exterminate or evade the patrols is up to you, but proceed forward, and find the hideout that possesses God's power . ]

[Quest Reward: Minimap . ]

 

"A minimap, huh . . . "

 

He was curious as to what a minimap was like, and the passageway was a one-way road anyway . It wouldn't be bad to find the hideout, and he also didn't really have a reason to ignore the quest either .

He was still hostile to the God who made him like this, but since he didn't want to lose out by going astray, Lee Shin Woo decided to follow the contents of the quest for now .  

But just as he was about to move his body to do so, an undead appeared from far inside the passageway .  

 

[Patrol . . . ling . . . Are there no . . . heroes anywhere . . . ]

 

Luckily, it was a skeleton that looked similar to Lee Shin Woo; however, unlike him, it carried a decent white bone spear, and since it was in an equipped state, it was much better off than him .

It was surprising that a skeleton composed of all bones could speak and that he could understand what it was saying, but now wasn't the time to be surprised about that .  

 

[Skeleton Soldier - Lv1]

 

When he saw its appearance, its class and level appeared right before Lee Shin Woo's eyes . But wait a second . It's only level 1 when it looks like it should at least be level 5?

 

"How the hell is that level 1?"

[Hm . . . Voice . . . unclear . . . ]

 

He had ended up talking aloud due to his shock that the skeleton was only level 1 . The skeleton, which was several meters away, instantly turned its head towards him . It noticed him, even though it didn't even have eyes .  

 

[Skeleton . . . I haven't seen before . . . A newbie?]

" . . . "

 

In that extremely short moment, Lee Shin Woo thought of countless things .

The other side is level 1, and I'm level 1 with high stats, so shouldn't I just fight it, he thought . On the other hand, the other side has a weapon . Wouldn't it be difficult for me, who doesn't know any martial arts, to beat it bare-handed? He soon came to a conclusion .  

 

"Yeah, I'm a newbie! Nice to meet you!"

[A newbie, huh . . . Nice to . . . meet you . . . ]

 

If the enemy misunderstood and considered him an ally, then there was no need to throw away that advantage! Lee Shin Woo greeted him as brightly, and as pleasantly as he could, and slowly approached it . The Skeleton Soldier also approached him, as if there were no enemies around .  

 

[Your bones . . . are really clean . . . ]

"Your bones are also . . . uh . . . sturdy . "

[Thanks . . . ]

 

The skeleton soldier seemed happy from the compliment, and with the hand that wasn't holding the spear, rubbed its head, while emitting a squeaky sound . When he saw that, Lee Shin Woo's (nonexistent) eyes gleamed . This was his best chance!

He quickly extended both of his bone arms and stole its spear . The skeleton panicked as its weapon was snatched in the blink of an eye .

 

[What . . . are you doing . . . !]

"It means I'm a newbie hero!"

 

Since he had never learned how to use a spear when he was alive, Lee Shin Woo just swung the spear like a club and attacked the skeleton . The moment it hit its bones, his own bones felt a considerable rebound force and he did his best to not let go of the spear .  

 

[You . . . traitor! You're . . . with the goddess!]

"Who the hell is with that old hag!"

 

He would pay her back later for turning him into this . It just wasn't possible right now!

Lee Shin Woo swung the spear, focusing all his rage towards God into it while clenching his teeth . However, the skeleton would scream whenever it was hit by the bone spear, and it surprisingly didn't back away, instead gradually getting closer .  

 

"Isn't this too hard for someone who's level 1?"

[You traitor!]

 

Lee Shin Woo was shocked that the skeleton had so quickly gotten in front of him, and swung the spear with all his might, attacking it . However, the skeleton easily evaded the obvious attack, threw its body at him, and bashed into him!

 

"Ugh!"

 

Once Lee Shin Woo was struck by his opponent's decisive blow, he pitifully dropped the spear, and it fell to the floor . Even though he was just bones, no, perhaps because he was just bones, it hurt even more .  

To make matters worse, when he had somehow managed to stand up, he saw that the Skeleton Soldier had regained its spear and was pointing it at him . Though the skeleton was cracked in various places due to his attacks, its spirit was no less than that of a Death Knight .

 

[Executing . . . traitor . . . !]

"W-Wait a second, Paul! Remember our good old days . . . !"

[Executing!]

 

The Skeleton Soldier's spear flew towards his skull, crushing it apart . It was a clean attack, compared to Lee Shin Woo's unsightly attack . It was truly a perfect critical hit .  

 

[Execution complete . Returning to . . . . patrol . . . ]

 

The Skeleton Soldier confirmed that Lee Shin Woo's skull had indeed been crushed, and it seemed as though it were sure of his death, as it nodded its head and turned around . However, in the next instant, the broken pieces of Lee Shin Woo's shattered skull emitted a faint light, gathered into one piece, and was restored .

 

[Invisible Heart has become level 2 . All stats have risen by 3 . ]

[98 levels remaining until the max level . ]

 

Lee Shin Woo regained consciousness in a split second and stood up without a sound . His empty eye sockets momentarily flickered with a faint flame before disappearing .  

He carefully closed and opened his fist, and then attacked the defenseless and slowly moving skeleton from behind .  

 

[You're . . . !?]

"Urgh . . . !"

 

If he learned anything from his defeat, it was that a skeleton's greatest weakness was their head . Lee Shin Woo didn't even attempt to snatch away the spear this time . He rushed in real close, turned his hands into fists, and pounded on its skull like a madman .

 

"Die! Die!"

[Keuaaahk!?]

 

The Skeleton Soldier screamed and swung its spear, but they were too close for his spear to be effective . Its spear floundered in the air a few more times, and it soon threw it away, responding with its own fists, but by then, it was already too late .

Shin Woo didn't know how many times he had struck its head, but the cracks he'd made thus far suddenly emitted a cracking sound and expanded, shattering the skull .  

 

[You have hunted a Lv1 Skeleton Soldier . ]


 

Even after the message appeared before his eyes, Lee Shin Woo remained on guard, but when he saw that the Skeleton Soldier was unable to maintain its body any longer, and start to break down, he barely released the tension within his body and dropped to the floor .  

Though an undead body didn't feel fatigue, his mind that barely remained inside was completely groggy .

 

"I shouldn't have underestimated him . '

 

He was confident that he had done everything he could to prepare . But there had been an unbridgeable gap in skill between him and the Skeleton Soldier .  

Its spear had crushed his skull in a single strike, and he had to strike him several times before he could do the same . That difference caused him to die once .

 

' . . . I can't help that I've already died once . I just have to not die again . '

 

Lee Shin Woo energized his spirit, which had been exhausted by the fierce battle . A mere Skeleton Soldier was nothing more than the lowest rank monster in the Empire . If he gave up here, he would be nothing .  

 

"Hoo . "

 

He somehow exerted strength into his bones and stood up . Then, he saw 3 spoils of war that remained where the skeleton had disappeared .

One of the remaining items was the white bone spear he had used, another was a black coin, and the last one was a bone that had remained without breaking down . Lee Shin Woo instinctively extended his hand and grabbed them .

 

[You have acquired a Lv1 Bone Spear . ]

[You have acquired the Skeleton Soldier's Arm Bone . ]

[You have acquired 10 Perium . ]

 

Would there really be any need for money in an empire only comprised of the undead, he thought . That was the first question that had come to mind, but then again, he had a leather pouch on him, even though he was just bones .  

Lee Shin Woo shrugged his shoulders and decided to put the coin into his pouch . Now, the only remaining things of importance were the two spoils of war .  

 

[Bone Spear]

[Lv1]

[Durability: 93/100]

[Attack Power: 5 - 15]

 

The bone spear remained sturdy, despite clashing against bone several times during the battle . It had an important detail: there was a level on the item . No, there was more .  

 

[Would you like to sacrifice the bone spear in order to reinforce your bones? You can choose one of the following to reinforce: toe bone, leg bone, arm bone, a finger bone, upper jaw bone, and the lower jaw bone . ]

 

"No . "

 

It seemed as though it was possible for bone equipment to be sacrificed in order to reinforce the body, but he desperately needed a weapon right now, so he let it be . More importantly, there was still something left that could reinforce his bones .  

 

[Would you like to sacrifice the Skeleton Soldier's Arm Bone to reinforce your bones? You can reinforce your arm bone . ]

 

Lee Shin Woo scanned his surroundings before he nodded his head . The desolate passageway was silent, without even the sound of ants crawling by .  

Well, he had already killed a patrolling guard, so it would take some time before another one came up to bat . After he confirmed his safety, he silently muttered .

 

"Reinforce . "

 

The moment he used his Bone Reinforcement skill, the skeleton's arm bone flickered with a weak flame and oxidized in the air, followed by a stinging feeling in his left arm .  

 

[You have reinforced your arm bone . Strength has increased by 1 . Absorbing a portion of the Skeleton Soldier's memories and experiences . ]

[That spear isn't meant to be swung like that . Look . Though it may look like this, this is the spear technique that was taught to me by the strongest general of the Empire, General Leofield . ]

 

And that was it .  

 

" . . . "

 

Um, alright . He didn't have high expectations from the get-go . On the contrary, he should be happy that his strength permanently increased by 1 . He didn't know how long it would continue to increase his stats by 1 whole point, but if he put in the effort, step by step, he should be able to at least confront a Skeleton Soldier and win easily .  

Lee Shin Woo did his very best to appease his disappointment, grabbed the spear on one side, and stood up . However, at that very moment, he felt as if something had changed .  

 

"Mm . . . ?"

 

Did the spear change? No, that wasn't it . He himself had changed . Like he had done thus far, he grabbed the spear without thinking, and at that very moment, he was suddenly overcome with the thought that this wasn't the proper way of wielding a spear .  

If he wielded it like this, the spear would only be as effective as a club . In order to use a spear like a spear, he would need to hold it properly . He followed his instincts and changed his grip on the spear . Somewhere in that posture lay a similarity to the Skeleton Soldier's own .

 

[Passive Skill, Beginner Spearmanship Lv1 has been learned . ]

 

" . . . !"

 

At that moment, Lee Shin Woo's (nonexistent) eyes widened . He had learned spearmanship from just absorbing the Skeleton Soldier's memories of handling a spear! 

If that's the case, if he were to obtain another's bones who learned a different skill, wouldn't that mean that he'd be able to learn that skill as well? His evaluation of the Bone Reinforcement skill drastically changed for the better .  

 

'Good, I can accept this . . . '

 

If he had a normal human body, he wouldn't even be able to dream of reinforcing his body through bones . The resurrection through his Invisible Heart was, of course, the same . These two skills were so powerful that he had no choice but to accept that he was a skeleton .  

If he had, at first, been like 'even so, how could you turn me into a skeleton, you necromancer bitch!', then now he was like 'now that it's become like this, I'll become the strongest skeleton!' . Lee Shin Woo swung the spear a few times and nodded his head in satisfaction .  

 

'My spearmanship's still lousy, but I can at least stab decently now . '

 

He hadn't learned any martial arts before, but he could tell whether his motions were proper, or a mess .  

Since he had swung the spear in the desperate battle to his heart's content, he felt that the force behind his swing was incomparable to before .  

 

[Over there . . . Newbie . . . ?]

"Yeah, newbie here! Good morning!"

 

Of course, Lee Shin Woo wasn't confident that he'd be able to overpower a Skeleton Soldier in a frontal assault, so he acted like a merry skeleton when a new patrolling guard appeared, and slowly walked towards it .

The Skeleton Soldiers here seemed to really like newbies, as they all greeted him without any suspicions . He was quite thankful for that .  

 

"Nice to meet you, Paul!"

[My name's not Paul, but . . . it's nice to meet you . . . !]

 

'The quest comes later . For now, let's not leave this area, and grow in strength . '

 

He greeted the Skeleton Soldier, and the tip of his spear flashed, falling diagonally . And thus, the Antlion of the external passageway was born .  

 

[T-Traitor . . . ]

"It's unfortunate that you couldn't remember your past life, Paul . We were the best of friends . . . "

[Keuhak!] 

 

Lee Shin Woo stabbed the skull of the 138th Paul with his bone spear as hard as he could . The thickness and strength of his bone spear was incomparable to normal bone spears, and that bone spear cleanly smashed the skull of the 138th Paul . It left behind a bone, a bone spear, as well as 10 Perium before disappearing, just like the other Paul’s .  

 

"Oh, this time it's a leg bone . "

 

It wasn't like all Skeleton Soldiers left behind arm bones . After experimenting over 100 times, Lee Shin Woo was able to conclude that they dropped an arm bone, a leg bone, or mixed bones (the description explained that it was a bone of unknown origin) . Amongst these, the mixed bones was a dud that didn't increase stats, nor did it contain any skills, while the arm bone increased his proficiency in spearmanship and the leg bone . . .

 

[You have reinforced your leg bone . You have acquired 5% proficiency in the skill, Beginner Sprint . ]

[No, I said now's not the time to be swinging a spear! Goodness, there's really an epidemic coming, I tell you! I'm getting out of here first! Different from you guys, faster than anyone! - A nameless soldier]

[The Beginner Sprint skill has become Lv3 . Your sprinting speed has become slightly faster . ]

 

"Nice . " 

 

They had the effect of bestowing proficiency in the Skeleton Soldier's sole movement-type skill, Sprint .  

This skill allowed for a momentary, lightning-fast sprint, and was a skill that consumed a large amount of stamina, but to the undead which possessed the race characteristic of 'never tiring', it was a great skill he'd be able to use again immediately after the skill delay .  

 

'Anyway, my stats didn't increase again . Should I really get going now?'

 

Arm bones and legs bones, not mixed bones, would originally increase strength or agility by 1 each time he reinforced them, but at some point, the frequency of that growth had decreased, and now his stats wouldn't rise even after absorbing 10 bones in a row .  

Though he had wanted to move after raising both his strength and agility to 100 . . . Lee Shin Woo clicked his nonexistent tongue and checked his status .

 

[Lee Shin Woo]

[Normal Skeleton Blessed by God]

[Lv - 1]

[Strength - 57 Agility - 46 Health - 34 Magic - 6]

[Passive skills - Invisible Heart Lv2, Beginner Spearmanship Lv3]

[Active skills - Bone Reinforcement Lv1, Beginner Sprint Lv3]

 

'They're higher . They're definitely higher, but . . . '

 

There were three things he wasn't satisfied with .

First off, mixed bones weren't effective in improving his stats, which resulted in his health stat being lower than his strength or agility . He also hadn't found a way to increase his magic stat, nor did he know how to use it . Lastly, he was still level 1, despite hunting down so many Skeleton Soldiers .  

 

'At this point, I might not be able to increase my level through normal hunting . '

 

Certainly, the Skeleton Soldiers he had killed up until now had been much too strong, despite being level 1, and each Skeleton Soldier was different from the last . The fact that they were all level 1 was evidence that it wasn't easy leveling up in this world .  

 

"All the more reason to level up at least once before moving forward, but . . . I suppose it can't be helped . Let's move on to the next step . "

 

Since he had moved around the passageway while hunting, he knew the approximate location of the hideout . He had felt an obviously disparate energy leaking from a crack in the corner of the passageway .  

He was sure, since the skeletons unconsciously avoided it, as they could feel the divine power within .  

 

'Ah, before that . '

 

He had a job to do before he got going . It was to upgrade his bone spear .  

 

[Would you like to sacrifice the Lv1 Bone Spear to reinforce the Lv1 Bone Spear (+9)?]


 

"Hoo . . . "

 

When Lee Shin Woo saw the message asking yes, or no, he took a short, deep breath . His hands trembled . He couldn't help but do so when he recalled the process of creating the Bone Spear (+9), as well as the several bone spears that went into making it .

That's right . Unlike normal reinforcement, bone equipment reinforcement had a failure rate . Of course, even if the reinforcement were to fail, the performance of the equipment wouldn't drop, nor would it be damaged, but whenever he saw the bone spears disappearing for nothing, his heart would ache . Not that he had one .  

 

"Ugh, reinforce . . . !"

 

But what could he do about it? Even though he realized, in his heart, that it'd be more profitable to reinforce his bones rather than the spear at this point, he still couldn't give up!

Since this would be the last Skeleton Soldier he'd kill in the passageway anyway, he would let the spear cleanly oxidize for the last time and burn his own lingering attachment as well!

 

[The reinforcement has succeeded . The Bone Spear has become Lv2 . ]

 

. . . was what he was thinking when the reinforcement succeeded . Moreover, the Bone Spear had leveled up before him as a result! He might have to call it Lord Bone Spear, rather than Bone Spear now .  

 

"Ooooooh!"

 

Lee Shin Woo was deeply moved, cried (he couldn’t), and observed the reborn Lv2 Lord Bone Spear . The spear shaft had become around thirty centimeters longer than before, and the impressive blade gleamed with a menacing light .  

 

[Bone Spear]

[Lv2]

[Durability: 500/500]

[Attack Power: 25 - 45]

 

"Oooooooh . "

 

The maximum attack power of the Lv 1 Bone Spear (+9) had been 30, but a single reinforcement had increased it by 1 . 5x all at once . Not to mention the increase in durability . As expected, his investment into his weapon had paid off .  

Lee Shin Woo rubbed his skull against the Lv2 Bone Spear's sleek handle, emitting a squeaky sound, and was satisfied . Since he had earned the Lv2 Lord Bone Spear, he had nothing to fear anymore!

 

[An unforeseen quest has occurred!]

 

At that very moment, a quest had occurred . Lee Shin Woo quickly began to resent Lord Bone Spear .  

 

[Ambush of the Treasure Eater]

[Among the undead inhabiting the underground empire is a race called the Treasure Eaters that like to eat objects with magical energy within them . Normally, there isn't anything that piques their interest in the external passageways, but the Lv2 item that you have created ended up stimulating one of the Treasure Eaters' senses . It's much stronger than a normal Skeleton Soldier to the point that it's incomparable, but if you defeat it, you may be able to gain the treasure it has eaten . ]

[Quest Reward: The Treasure Eater's treasure?]

 

[Guoooooooooh!] 

 

The moment that quest notification appeared, he heard a shriek from far beyond the passageways . At the same time, he heard something collapsing . There were also a few Skeleton Soldiers' screams mixed in as well .  

 

[Kuaooooooh!]

 

The sound was coming closer by the second . A human . . . no, a skeleton . . . had just adapted to the situation, yet a new trial appeared as if to interfere with that adaptation . Perhaps that Treasure Eater didn't appear naturally, and had been sent by God herself to torment him?

All sorts of doubts momentarily rushed through his mind, but the most important thing right now was deciding his course of action . Lee Shin Woo double checked the location of the hideout and quickly moved . First, he planned to check the Treasure Eater with his own two (nonexistent) eyes, and fight if it seemed doable .

 

[Treasure Eater - Lv2]

 

[Kuwoooooh!]

"Nope, I gotta run . "

 

But when he saw the bug that had broken through the passageway floor, Lee Shin Woo decided to run without hesitation . That thing's the same level as Lord Bone Spear!

The moment he decided to flee, he activated his Sprint skill and ran towards the hideout . However, at that very moment, he got an announcement out of the blue .  

 

[Quest failed! However, the minimap has been added as a reward to the unforeseen quest . ]

 

"What . . . ?"

 

The warm light that leaked between the cracks in the passageway immediately disappeared . The implication was so clear that he wanted to cry .  

Hideouts could disappear!? Lee Shin Woo abruptly stopped and grit his teeth, and soon, the Treasure Eater had gotten close, greeting him by opening its mouth wide .  

 

[Kuhaaahk . . . !] 

"Hi, Steve . . . ?"

[Kuheeehk!]

 

He did his best to greet it like a cheerful skeleton, but it seemed like it didn't like the name, Steve . Lee Shin Woo shrugged his shoulders and gripped Lord Bone Spear .

It was another fight .  

 

[Kuweeeeehk!] 

 

The Treasure Eater charged at him with a shriek . Its jagged fence-like teeth within its open mouth radiated with a dull light .

 

"Sprint!"

[Kuhiaaaah!] 

 

If he was chewed up by that thing, he knew it wouldn't end with him dying only once or twice, so Lee Shin Woo completely abandoned any thought of a frontal assault . He activated his Sprint skill and ran away .  

Immediately after, the Treasure Eater brushed past his side and the following wind pressure felt as though a subway train had passed by him, and his bones itched . There was also the foul stench of rotting corpses .  

 

[Kueeeeeeh!] 

 

Perhaps it hadn't expected that he'd dodge it so cleanly, and the Treasure Eater, that had labored in vain, shrieked again and twisted its body around . It seemed like it would take quite a long time for it to make a U-turn, as its body was too large when compared to the width of the passageway .  

 

"Heup . . . !" 

 

This was his chance . Lee Shin Woo firmly gripped his spear with both hands and held it to his side .  

He subsequently pierced through the side of its body, as if he were shooting a cannon, and both of his hands creaked . He placed the full might of all of the stats he had stockpiled thus far into his Lv2 Bone Spear; the force behind the Bone Spear was truly tremendous!

 

[Critical Hit!]

 

His spearmanship had been firmly tempered through the sacrifice of countless Pauls, resulting in a strike both heavy and sharp . The spear entered and split open its side, magnificently bursting open both its skin, and the flesh within . It was then that Lee Shin Woo realized that the concept of critical hits existed in this world .  

 

[Ggueeeeh!]

 

"W-Whoa!?"

 

But he had only thought of attacking with all his might and hadn't considered his next move . The moment the pained Treasure Eater turned its entire body, Lee Shin Woo failed to pull out the spear and crashed into the wall .  

 

"Ah, ugh . . . !"

 

He was afflicted by a pain that felt as though all his bones were being smashed . The pain was killing him, but he knew he would really die if he lost consciousness here, so he desperately maintained his consciousness . It helped here as well that he was undead .

 

[Kwihehk!]

"Tch, this damned thing . . . !" 

 

Lee Shin Woo was trapped between the bug's body and the wall; though he was receiving a shock that felt as though his body was being crushed to pieces, he used all his might, grabbed the spear, and pulled it out, causing dead flesh and blood to burst out .  

 

[Ggueeeeeeh!]

 

At that moment, the bug screeched like a pig, filling the passageway with its screams .

 

[The Treasure Eater used Shriek of the Dead . Those exposed to this shriek will momentarily enter a frenzied state . ]

[As an effect of Invisible Heart, you ignore the effects of Shriek of the Dead . ]

 

The effects behind its shriek were ignored due to the effects of Invisible Heart! However, Lee Shin Woo was moving without seeing that message .  

To be exact, he aimed for the moment it shrieked, as it stopped moving while doing so, to attack the same area he had attacked last time . He believed he'd be able to land another critical hit by attacking the same area .

 

[Gguaaaahk!]

"Tch!"

 

However, was he still lacking in skill to intentionally land a critical hit? Although he had thought he had timed it perfectly, his attack missed . Compared to last time, his attack was only able to create a smaller hole .  

Still, the fact that he could withdraw his spear and retreat immediately following his attack was progress, compared to last time . However, at that moment, a message update appeared .

 

[Beginner Spearmanship has become Lv4 . You can swing your spear more easily now . ]

 

"Huh . . . ?"

 

Lee Shin Woo briefly voiced out in surprise . That's because Beginner Spearmanship had leveled up to Lv3 upon killing the 133rd Paul . It hadn't been long since it had leveled up, yet it had leveled up again, so he couldn't help but be surprised .  

However, he obviously didn't have the time to look into that right now . Like the message had said, it felt much lighter than before . He gripped his spear and got ready to use his Sprint skill again .

 

[Gguaaahk!]

 

The Treasure Eater had successfully managed to change directions, despite being attacked, and opened its mouth wide, seemingly intent on swallowing both him and the treasure whole .  

 

"Ugh . . . Sprint!"

[Kueeeeh!]

 

At the end of their split-second battle of wits, Lee Shin Woo dodged its charge again and flung his body .  

Though it was a dangerous moment that would determine life or death, he was able to dodge its charge with more ease than before . That's because the Treasure Eater charged in a straight line, and he had used his Sprint skill to accelerate at the crucial moment .

 

If he didn't possess a skeleton's body which enabled him to utilize Sprint repeatedly, the battle would've already been over .  

Conversely, it meant that he was confident that he'd be able to keep up with it as long as he wanted .  

 


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"Nice, then . . . "

 

Lee Shin Woo concluded that he'd need to prolong the fight, so he abandoned all thoughts of attacking, and decided to damage it little by little . He would use the reach of the Bone Spear at mid-range to nibble away at its body!

 

"Eat this!"

[Kuaaaahk!]

 

The Bone Spear quickly stabbed its rear end, splattering blood . Lee Shin Woo had successfully attacked, and he immediately retreated to a safe distance and observed the Treasure Eater .

However, its response was strange . Lee Shin Woo had expected that it would go wild like last time, but it ignored his predictions and had curled up as much as possible . . .

 

[Kihiiiiiiiiiiih!]

"Argh . "

 

It yelled its most annoying and unpleasant shriek to date! Lee Shin Woo grit his teeth to endure its intense, skull-ringing shriek . And there was a truly teeth-gritting scene before his very eyes .

 

[The Treasure Eater uses the Roar of Healing . ]

[The Treasure Eater's health recovers completely . ]

 

The wounds that Lee Shin Woo had risked his life to inflict were being healed in real time!

 

"Steve, you asshole . . . "

[Kuwooooooh!]

 

It was just an external passageway monster, but it was healing up like a boss monster! He was even more annoyed by the fact that he had no way of figuring out how many times it could use the Roar of Healing .  

If it could use the Roar of Healing repeatedly, then this struggle would be meaningless .  

 

"Ah, that's so demoralizing . "

[Kuoooooh!]

 

He felt as though his blood sugar was dropping, but it was just a misunderstanding . After all, he was nothing but bones so there's no way for his blood sugar to drop .  

Lee Shin Woo weakly gripped his spear . He could do nothing but act on the assumption that right now, the Treasure Eater couldn't use its Roar of Healing indefinitely . And if not? Then he'd have to run away no matter what by using Sprint!

 

It was then .

 

[Monster discovered . . . during patrol . . . !]

[Requesting reinforcements . . . !]

 

"Huh . . . ?"

 

Lee Shin Woo couldn't believe what he was hearing . He had definitely heard the voice of a Skeleton Soldier beyond the completely collapsed passageway!

Moreover, thanks to the Treasure Eater rampaging everywhere, the upper, lower, and side passageways had all collapsed, and the Skeleton Soldiers were coming out from everywhere . Of course, the Treasure Eater had absolutely no interest in the soldiers equipped with lousy bone spears, but Lee Shin Woo was different .

 

'Are these guys really coming to help me?'

[Requesting additional reinforcements . . . !]

[In the middle of requesting reinforcements . . . !]

[Discovered something . . . fighting the monster . . . ]

 

One of the Skeleton Soldiers discovered Lee Shin Woo confronting the monster .  

The skeleton tilted its head when it saw Lee Shin Woo's larger frame, compared to other skeletons (his body became slightly larger as his stats increased), and the shiny bone spear in his hand, ultimately asking .

 

[Are you a newbie . . . ?]

"Yeah, I'm a newbie! Help me!"

 

Lee Shin Woo yelled distressingly . It seemed like the skeleton couldn't grasp the situation, as it stood there vacantly for a second, but soon, came up to the passageway, and pointed its spear towards the Treasure Eater .  

 

[Participating . . . Hunting together . . . ]

"Pauuuuul!"

 

Right after Lee Shin Woo shouted in gratitude, a message appeared before his eyes .

 

[You have achieved the feat of deceiving your enemies and manipulating them . Surviving using everything you have may be the most important talent in the Empire . ]

[You have learned the passive skill, Acting Lv1 . ]

 

" . . . "

 

It felt slightly strange that this was the first skill he had obtained through his own efforts, but he'd use it as much as possible if it would keep him alive! Lee Shin Woo sneakily took a step back from the Treasure Eater and yelled in an even louder voice .

 

"Pauls, let's beat this monster together! It's a thief that's threatening the security of our Empire!"

[Request complete . . . Participating . ]

[Participating . ]

"Hey you, yes you . Come over here!"

[Helping . . . the newbie . . . ]

[Participating . ]

 

More Skeleton Soldiers aggressively participated in the battle, and even those from further away, the more of a fuss he made .  

There were those who would wait and see, but when Lee Shin Woo personally pointed them out and asked for their help, they couldn't just ignore him . Who would've thought that the first aid training[1] from the military would help here?

 

[Kuoooh!]

[Hunting . . . the monster . ]

[The bug that threatens . . . the Empire!]

 

The Treasure Eater disregarded the Skeleton Soldiers when more than 10 had gathered and lunged at Lee Shin Woo, but when the number had instantly surpassed 20, it seemed to panic, and change its tactics .  

 

[Kuwooooooh!]

[The Treasure Eater used Shriek of the Dead . Those exposed to this shriek will momentarily enter a frenzied state . ]

[As an effect of Invisible Heart, you ignore the effects of Shriek of the Dead . ]

 

"Ah, I forgot about that . "

[There are a lot of enemies . . . !]

[Where are you aiming, that's . . . an afterimage . . . !]

 

Unlike Lee Shin Woo, the other skeletons were powerless before the Shriek of the Dead, and the skeletons that had died from infighting were quickly replaced by new ones . It seemed as though all the Skeleton Soldiers in the external passageways were gathering here .  

 

[Kuwooh, Kuwooooooh!]

[The Treasure Eater tried to use the Shriek of the Dead, but it failed due to the lack of mana . ]

 

"Oh, so that's how it is . "

 

While the Treasure Eater tried to repeatedly use its Shriek of the Dead, a message had appeared notifying him that it had failed due to a lack of mana!

At this point, it's highly likely that the Treasure Eater wouldn't be able to use its Roar of Healing either . All of the risk factors had disappeared .  

 

"Good, Paul . Use the siege destruction formation[2]!"

 

[Attacking . . . !]

[Killing the enemy!]

 

Ah, it's a line he'd wanted to say at least once in his life . Lee Shin Woo was moved, wiping the resulting (nonexistent) tears, and then gripped his bone spear .  

Of course, even if it had depleted all its mana, the Treasure Eater's physical abilities didn't change and was wiping out the Skeleton Soldiers with relative ease . It would be easier for Shin Woo if it wiped out a lot of them .

 

"Wow, this year's harvest is great!"

 

He muttered satisfyingly as he saw the bones scattered around him, then gripped his spear and charged at the Treasure Eater .  

The battle ended just five minutes later . It was a complete victory .

 

[1] T/N: Probably refers to the steps of first aid (e . g . accessing the situation, getting someone's attention, etc . ) .

[2] T/N: It's a meme . It's the name that the protagonist gives his formation of 300 strong that encircles and defeats a monster army of 5000 . It's from this Japanese web novel: "最下位職から最強まで成り上がる〜地道な努力はチートでした〜 . "

 

[You have defeated a Lv2 Treasure Eater . You have achieved a feat of defeating an enemy with a higher level than you . Your Strength and Health permanently increase by 2 . ]

[As a reward for your achievement, the proficiency of your combat-related skills have been increased . The Beginner Sprint skill has become Lv4 . ]

[Quest complete! Please check the treasure that the Treasure Eater left behind . ]

[You have gained the minimap . If you close your eyes, you will be able to see the minimap . ]

 

[We won . . . ]

[We defeated the monster . I need rest . . . ]

 

There were only two Pauls . . . or Skeleton Soldiers that had survived until the end of the battle . Lee Shin Woo hadn't tried to save them, but they had managed to survive . However, all their bones were cracked in the aftermath of the fierce battle, and it was difficult for them to even stand!

 

"Paul, I'll never forget the time we spent together . "

[Ugh!?]

[What are you doing . . . keuahk!]

 

Lee Shin Woo forcefully embraced the two skeletons, who had gone through hardship with him . By doing so, he completely broke through the threshold of their health, and they crumbled to pieces .  

Silence finally dawned upon the clearing (the passageway had significantly widened and become a clearing), that had been filled with the cries of the Treasure Eater, and the rattling sound of skeleton bones . He was the champion .  

 

[The Acting Skill has become Lv2 . ]

 

"That's amazing timing . . . phew . I'm dying too . "

 

Though he was victorious, Lee Shin Woo had received a lot of physical and mental damage . His bone joints ached, and he even saw a part that was cracked . It hurt so much that he thought it might be better to die once and come back!

However, Lee Shin Woo didn't do that . It would be a waste to use his Invisible Heart like that, and he already knew of a method to restore his bones . That was . . .

 

'Now, let's start reinforcing, shall we?'


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His eyes quickly scanned his surroundings . The bones and the Bone Spears of the skeletons that had died fighting here were piled in the dozens . There were also dozens of black coins, too .

That wasn't all . There was a distinct bone, compared to the skeletons' bones, that remained in the area where the Treasure Eater had died, as well as something shiny, causing Lee Shin Woo's heart to flutter . It had been worth it to overcome this ordeal (though it was mostly the skeletons)! 

 

"I'll put aside the delicious one for later . "

 

He suppressed his desire to check the Treasure Eater's loot and picked up the nearby skeleton bone first .

They were mixed bones, but it was for the better . Increasing his strength or agility through an arm or leg bone had nearly reached its limit and increasing his health through mixed bones was much more effective right now .

 

[You have reinforced your tailbone . Health has increased by 1 . Absorbing a portion of the Skeleton Soldier's memories and experiences . ]

[I-I'm pretty sure my tailbone just broke . Really! - A nameless soldier]

 

"If these guys knew they could leave behind memories of their life, they wouldn't have left behind such useless memories . . . "

 

Lee Shin Woo stroked his tailbone and felt that the cracks had definitely decreased, compared to before the Reinforcement . And he repeated the Reinforcement process .  

The more he repeated the Reinforcement, the more his stats and skill proficiency would slightly increase, and simultaneously, the cracks on his entire body began to cleanly disappear, as if they had been erased by an eraser .

 

"Huh?"

 

While Reinforcing, Lee Shin Woo found an unexpected item . He had picked up a bone that wasn't an arm bone, a leg bone, or mixed bones .  

 

[Skeleton Soldier's rib bone . ]

[A bone left behind by a Skeleton Soldier who had strong bones . ]

 

"So, this kind of thing can happen, too . "

 

Was it a rare drop? Lee Shin Woo was slightly excited and sacrificed it to reinforce his ribs .

 

[You have reinforced your ribs . Health has increased by 2 . Absorbing a portion of the Skeleton Soldier's memories and experience . ]

[General Seagald has committed treason . . . ? That's not possible . I'll trust him and follow him to the end . - A nameless soldier . ]

 

"I don't think that's a line a nameless soldier would say, though!?"

 

What exactly did General Seagald do? He didn't know what he did, but in any case, raising 2 points in Health was awesome . He decided to remember the name, General Seagald, and absorbed the remaining bones one after another . His appearance was akin to a farmer who was harvesting his crops .

 

"Now, it's time to upgrade the Bone Spear . . . "

 

He looked at the mountain of Bone Spears that he had collected while absorbing the bones and looked like he was at a loss . It had been so hard to reinforce the Lv1 Bone Spear, so he couldn't imagine how many Bone Spears would break in the process of reinforcing the Lv2 Bone Spear .  

 

"Phew . But there's no helping it . I gotta do it . "

 

He had realized the importance of weapons several times during his fight with the Treasure Eater . A single attack from his spear had been more effective than 10 attacks from the other Skeleton Soldiers! He took a short, deep breath, and extended his hand towards the mountain of Bone Spears .

 

[Reinforcement has failed . ]

[Reinforcement has failed . ]

[Reinforcement has failed . ]

[Reinforcement has succeeded!]

 

"Oh!"

 

He had succeeded in only 4 tries! He had thought that Lv1 items may be unable to reinforce Lv2 items, but Lee Shin Woo became confident after his single success and began to reinforce, one after another .  

 

[Reinforcement has failed . ] x30

 

"Please no, don't be like that . No!"

 

[Reinforcement has failed . ]

[Reinforcement has failed . ]

[Reinforcement has failed . ]

. . .

[Reinforcement has succeeded!]

[Reinforcement has succeeded!]

 

[Bone Spear +3]

[Lv2]

[Durability: 590/590]

[Attack Power: 33 - 57]

 

'Ugh, I don't know what the probability is, so I don't know if it went well or not . '

 

When he was about to run out of Bone Spears, the final two Reinforcements had succeeded, and as a result, the Bone Spear became a Bone Spear +3 .

Lee Shin Woo had quickly used up all the Bone Spears, and a part of him felt that it had been a waste but decided to be satisfied with the fact that his Bone Spear had definitely gotten stronger .

 

"Now, then . . . "

 

It was finally time for the main dish he had been saving . His bone joints rattled displeasingly as he approached the place where the Treasure Eater had died . The first thing he saw was a heaping pile of Perium . He extended his hand towards the pile, and a message appeared .

 

[You have acquired 1,250 Perium . ]

 

"Whew . "

 

Where exactly was this Perium currency used? No, could it even be used? He had picked them up instinctively due to his past game experience, but he couldn't make sense of them . While he was at it, he checked how much money was stored in his pouch; he had gathered 3,340 Perium up until now .  

 

'The money pouch is starting to get heavy . Is there no inventory here?'

 

Perhaps he would gain an inventory by completing a quest, like how he had received the minimap . Then, he picked up the Treasure Eater's bone next .  

As expected, since the Treasure Eater was much larger than those pathetic Skeleton Soldiers, a single one of its bones was larger than Lee Shin Woo .

 

[Would you like to reinforce your bones with the Treasure Eater's lower jaw bone? You can reinforce your lower jaw bone . ]

 

"This really pisses me off . . . "

 

This probably wasn't even its entire lower jaw bone, but just a portion of it . It was the area commonly called the jawbone, and just the thought of sacrificing it to reinforce his bones caused his skin (even though he didn't have any) to feel goosebumps .  

However . . . he didn't really have any other choice . He shrugged his shoulders and proceeded with the Reinforcement .

 

[The Bone Reinforcement skill has become Lv2 . The effectiveness of bone absorption increases . ]

[You have reinforced your lower jaw bone . Strength has increased by 1, Health by 1, and Magic by 5 . Absorbing a portion of the Treasure Eater's memories and experiences . ]

[Kuwaaaaaaaahk! Kuheeeeeeeeeehk! - Treasure Eater]

 

" . . . "

 

Lee Shin Woo, who felt the faint memories seep into his body, was briefly silent . He shivered, as the Treasure Eater's shriek in the message felt slightly, really slightly, affectionate . If he were to somehow meet another Treasure Eater, he felt as though he'd be able to understand what the Treasure Eater was saying, albeit a little .  

 

"In any case, it increased my magic, so let's leave it at that . "

 

He might've gained a skill, but most of the memories and experiences he gained through Bone Reinforcement didn't immediately manifest as skills and would require a bit of time . Most of the time, the skill would only awaken at the right time .  

If it was a skill though, he'd like to gain that Roar of Healing for sure . . . Lee Shin Woo earnestly prayed and extended his hand towards the final item that also doubled as the quest reward .  

 

[Feather Bone Boots +1]

[Lv2]

[Durability: 256/320]

[Defense: 25 - 35]

[Options: Agility +5, Sprint skill +1]

 

"Wow . . . "

 

To think, an item could have both stats and skills . This was truly a treasure that was in a completely different league when compared to the similarly leveled Lv2 Bone Spear!

Lee Shin Woo carefully put the bone boots on his feet . There was a slight problem; since both Lee Shin Woo and the boots were made of bone, it was difficult to figure out whether the boots were an item or the bones of someone with stupidly large feet . But considering the fact that his body felt lighter when he put the boots on, it was definitely the effect of an item .  

 

[Lee Shin Woo]

[Normal Skeleton Blessed by God]

[Lv - 1]

[Strength - 65 Agility - 55 + 5 Health - 48 Magic - 11]

[Passive skills - Invisible Heart Lv2, Beginner Spearmanship Lv4, Acting Lv2]

[Active skills - Bone Reinforcement Lv2, Beginner Sprint Lv4 +1]

 

"Nice . "

 

Lee Shin Woo grinned as he looked at his stats; it had certainly changed as a result of the battle .

His health, which had been lacking compared to his other stats, had been supplemented to a certain degree, and his magic slightly rose as well . He was sure that he had successfully sublimated the Skeleton Soldiers' battle experience into his own, to a certain degree, in the previous battle .  

 

"Let's see if I die again . . . "

 

The moment he died in a car accident flashed through his mind . Lee Shin Woo grit his teeth and shook his head, shaking off the memory . He resolved to never die again . Whether this place was a cursed Underground Empire or the middle of a galactic war, he would survive no matter what .

 

[A quest has occurred!]

 

The moment he made his vow, a well-timed quest occurred . It was as though God had been listening and decided to intervene at just the right time .  

 

[Infiltrate the Empire]

[You have remarkably taken down the Treasure Eater and grown . However, this is still just the external passageways, not the Empire . Follow the directions on your minimap, break through the soldiers guarding the Empire's walls, and infiltrate the Underground Empire!]

 

[Quest rewards: Inventory, use of God's Secret Shop . ]



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