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Stop, Friendly Fire! Chapter 116

<Chapter 14. New Pace - 1>


Guillotine Steelworker had said that the seal he'd made was only possible for golems to create. Lee Shin Woo didn't think that was a lie. But even so, it didn't seem like it'd be impossible to recreate it.

'It's possible to copy a golem's mana pattern, so there's no way it'd be impossible to copy the seal.'

But it wasn't something he'd be able to do in the foreseeable future. Because of that, Lee Shin Woo thoroughly examined each golem as best as he could, indulged in the core's knowledge, and broke apart the low ranked golems to try to familiarize himself with the golems themselves.

"What are you going to do by copying that?"

"I'm going to try controlling the golems."

"You're trying to control Arema Steelworker?"

"Nope. That guy's probably impossible for me to control."

From the start, Lee Shin Woo hadn't even caught a glimpse of the highest authority over the golems. If he more deeply examined the golems, as well as absorbed more cores, he thought he'd be able to figure it out someday, but he knew that now wasn't the time.

For starters, his goal would be to obtain Guillotine Steelworker's administrator seal. So, he would gather all of the abandoned golems in the Empire and create his own corps of golems; that was his goal. If Arema Steelworker had heard him say that, he'd be speechless and fall flat on his face.

"I'm not going to just destroy golems, so don't worry. If that's all I was going to do, then why would I have taken the train and come out here? We have to take care of the undead nearby, too."

"Yay, I'm so happy..."

They activated the elevator through the general administrative seal and went outside. While the west side consisted of stiff highlands, the landscape here was way too different. They wanted to check where they'd surfaced, but that was impossible.

"I wonder where our seniors are."

"They should be in the center of the Empire."

Lee Shin Woo and Jin had grown drastically, but their seniors were mostly level 6, or perhaps even higher. They still had a lot of catching up to do.

Of course, even if they did reach their level, they absolutely wouldn't be able to stand before them and reveal themselves to them. Would they be able to make them cease their deep-seated hatred towards the undead by just saying that they were heroes... Honestly, he was really doubtful of that right now.

[Detecting trespasser.]

[Repelling them as a top priority.]

"So like I was saying, just take them down for now."

"You!"

"I can't raise my abilities by fighting against them anymore."

A golem's greatest strength was that they had a sturdy base, but that could be a weakness as well. They were too unaccustomed to irregularities. From the very beginning, they were much too easy to take down for Lee Shin Woo, whose specialty was his irregular fighting style that lacked a concrete form.

Hearing that, Jin thought that he was shamefully boasting, but like always, he couldn't deny it.

"I want to observe the golems more thoroughly. So, charge!"

 "Sseup, I guess it can't be helped..."

Jin gallantly galloped forth, with his body enveloped in steel-like mana. Lee Shin Woo saw the golems switch their battle formations to intercept him, and leisurely observed their mana patterns. Of course, because he was maintaining his general administrative seal, all of the golems aggroed on Jin.

"I've been fighting too much lately, so I've been tired."

No one would say anything if he took a really quick break in between analyzing the mana. Probably. He nodded his head and continued observing. However, he started to get bored from just observing and studying, so he decided to open the chatting channel.

[Mr. Lee Shin Woo has entered.]

[Ye Jin Jin: It's been a long time!]

[Lee Shin Woo: Yeah, it has. You're still alive?]

[Lloyd H.K.: Jeez, I have no idea who's the senior and who's the newbie here.]

[Prince Altania: Lee Shin Woo, how much more have you got before you're level 5?]

[Lee Shin Woo: I should reach it soon. I only have about 10 more stats to go.]

It was a lie, of course, but they thought of 10 stats differently than him, so he had no choice.

[Prince Altania: Holy shit. You're really close. Even if his starting specs were high, this guy... He's probably not more talented than me though, right?]

[Yasunori Akira: Your talent is common amongst heroes. Doesn't it seem strange that you're comparing yourself to Lee Shin Woo, who everyone has high expectations for?]

[Prince Altania: What? You want to go? Are you looking for a fight?]

[Yasunori Akira: Pfft.]

As always, his seniors responded to him affectionately. Lee Shin Woo suddenly thought, after being greeted by each and every one of them. Ye Jin Jin knew about his true nature, but how would his seniors react when they saw him? Would they accept him? Would they reject him? Would they pity him?

The more he learned about the Underground Empire, as well as the heroes, the more he thought about his true identity. Perhaps it wouldn't be as simple as he thought; at some point, that thought had begun to grow more and more.

'It's a relief that I met Ye Jin Jin when she was still naive and gave her a good impression of me.'

He thought it might've been the right decision to hide his identity and spoke calmly.

[Lee Shin Woo: Not much happened while I was away, right?]

[Lloyd H.K.: Ah, now that I think about it, you may not know. A newbie came in.]

[Lee Shin Woo: A newbie...?]

Of course, he was already well aware that it was quite common for heroes to trickle in, but it felt a bit strange that he already had a junior. Then, Prince Altania spoiled the mood.

[Prince Altania: What a mannerless brat. They came in just a little while ago and then left right after.]

[Erian Rendu: Mannerless? They could just be extremely individualistic. Sir Altania.]

[Lloyd H.K.: Individualistic, huh... That's the most dangerous tendency to have. If you're not as strong as Akira, that is.]

[Yasunori Akira: Don't call me by my name. ...Well, they'll prove it soon. Whether it was arrogance or skill.]

[Ye Jin Jin: Mr. Shin Woo, how have you been? I finally reached level 4!]

[Shino Rendu: You've been dawdling all this time, yet once you found a man, you've become unstoppable, huh.]

[Ye Jin Jin: W-What are you talking about!?]

Lee Shin Woo adequately told his seniors, who quarreled amongst each other and amicably went back and forth in their conversations, about himself as well as keeping some parts of himself secret, while also hearing about the situation in the Empire. He even tried to ask them about the 12 generals, but to no avail.

[Prince Altania: Ha, the 12 generals? I'll be straight with you. We haven't even reached the capital, let alone the major city. It's kind of discouraging, but it's impossible to fight a general before you're level 7.]

[Lloyd H.K.: Would it even be possible just by reaching level 7? You'd need to be packed with level 4 artifacts, as well as heroes using their full strength; even then, they'd barely be able to take one down. Our senior told us that before, remember?]

[Prince Altania: Heng. As long as you and I are there, we can do it.]

[Erian Rendu: I'm level 6 now, too! Lloyd, when the time comes, you can count on me!]

Just taking a peek into the chatting channel, one could tell that they had the energy of top class celebrities! Lloyd, who'd even been recognized by that harsh Prince, was dazzling. To the point that he felt jealous.

If he had still been human, could he have been like him? However, he snorted at such fruitless thoughts and left the chatting channel. Jin was still vigorously rampaging about and breaking apart the golems.

"What the hell man! You weren't even watching and were doing something else, weren't you!? Umhp!"

[Ceasing function.]

[Ceasing function.]

"Of course not."

Lee Shin Woo saw a group of golems falling with a single kick of Jin's hind legs, and laughed calmly as he replied.

Jin had adapted much faster than he'd expected, so he decided that when Jin had become somewhat proficient in combat, he would study basic strategy for fighting on horseback with him.

"Hey, you help too!"

"Are these all of the Reinforced Cores... tch. Ok, let's quickly take care of the rest."

As soon as Jin had finished taking care of all the level 4 Bronze Golems in the center, Lee Shin Woo participated in the battle. Since it'd be difficult to accumulate any combat experience fighting against level 3 golems, it didn't matter who destroyed them.

However, he realized something new here. It was possible to summon copies of the same equipment stored through Bone Armory!

"Go, Triple Axe!"

"Woah..."

They kept fighting, and Jin, who'd gotten slightly confident in his abilities, saw Lee Shin Woo destroying the Defense Type Golems left and right with three Melting Bone Double Axes flying across the battlefield, and felt down in the dumps again.

But Lee Shin Woo, who had excitedly realized the latent potential of his ability, didn't have time to be considerate of Jin's feelings. The three giant axes flew naturally like boomerangs and the sight of his axes wildly plowing through the golems was in and of itself a disaster. What's worse, he even blew up one of his axes in an area where several golems had gathered!

"Explode!"

A poison mist burst here and there across the battlefield, turning them into rock dust. The level 3 golems were now nothing more than targets that stood still to him. The power of levels and items was this absolute!

[Ceasing fun...]

[Function.]

"Heup!"

[Ceasing function.]

It was really satisfying that he was able to take out his anger on these low golems, the anger of bowing down to high level golems.

Whenever a golem's function would cease, the golems would exchange signals amongst themselves and would run away from him; Lee Shin Woo clearly saw them running away and mercilessly destroyed them all. It was a really wholesome time.

As a result.

[Bone Original Core]

[Reinforced Autonomous Defense Type Bone Core - Original Core Synchronization Rate: 58%]

"So I have about 1 and a 1/2... Tch."

"You look really scary."

In the first area, he had been able to create two Bone Original Cores, but probability was indifferent to that. He just clicked his tongue, stored the half completed Bone Core, and took out the completed one. Jin was already afraid and stepped back.

"You don't need to be so afraid. Since I need to be the one absorbing them for the time being if I'm to match your growth rate."

"Thanks!"

He activated Bone Reinforcement and used the Bone Original Core. Despite it being his second time absorbing it and its effectiveness being much worse, it still increased his strength by 7, agility by 11, health by 9, and magic by 6!

At the same time, an unfamiliar memory flowed into his mind. He was lucky; he was able to acquire a memory of their process of creating a code to control the golems.

[The golems' master can only be the Emperor. Aside from him, no one else can command us.]

[We've only just completed your seal, Sir Arema. The seal holds the highest authority, second only to the Emperor.]

[...Ha, to think that the circuit can only be created through a golem's mana. Isn't that interesting?]

"..."

Lee Shin Woo momentarily shook his head and clearly remembered the appearance of the seal. At the same time, he realized why Guillotine had said it was impossible for others to recreate it.

All beings are born with mana that possesses innate characteristics and artificial life forms were not exempt. Within their inorganic bodies, golems stored and handled mana, and a high ranked seal was created by the mana tinged with the innate characteristics of that inorganic body.

Arema Steelworker's seal could only be manifested by using the mana that made up his core, which would signify that the seal was only for his use. It was truly a secure security system.

'The issue isn't the complexity of handling your mana. It's like using orange juice to make clear ice. ...It'll take a while.'

Lee Shin Woo clicked his tongue. He knew it wouldn't be easy, but he didn't know where to start. Though the logic behind it was somewhat similar to changing his mana into acid or flames, he wasn't even able to handle those that proficiently yet...

"Shin Woo, what's wrong? Does your head hurt?"

"No, not at all."

Lee Shin Woo bluffed and raised his head. Though Jin had realized that he was bluffing, he didn't really point it out. Jin had realized that if Lee Shin Woo showed a bit of honesty, he was still alright.

'It won't help if I just hang around here. Like I had originally thought, I have no choice but to go at it while I deal with other business.'

At the end of his pondering, he cleanly recognized that his skills were lacking, and made up his mind. He wasn't giving up. Lee Shin Woo just decided that he wouldn't rush, and would slowly work at it whilst taking care of other business at the same time!

"With that in mind, let's go down. How can a person live off killing golems?"

"You have a multiple personality disorder, right? Right?"

Even while he complained, Jin and Lee Shin Woo went down the highlands and surveyed their surroundings. However, they didn't really get anything out of that. It seemed as though one of their senior heroes had gone through this place already, as there weren't any undead here, and it was completely clean. This became more apparent soon after they felt a refreshing feeling when they entered a city on the outskirts without any undead in sight.

"SSeup."

"Let's go someplace else. There might be another city, as well as a dungeon nearby."

In no time at all, Jin had resigned himself and spoke aloofly, figuring out what Lee Shin Woo wanted. However, Lee Shin Woo firmly shook his head.

"There's a place we need to examine before we leave here."

"? Can't you see that the city's clean?"

"No. There's a place where it's highly likely that it hasn't been cleared yet."

"And where's that...?"

Jin tilted his head, but Lee Shin Woo just grinned and lead Jin. All Jin felt was a sense of gloomy foreboding, but he followed behind Lee Shin Woo regardless.

[You have discovered the Polluted Sewer Facility. All stats increase by 5 within.]

And less than three hours later, they entered into a desolate, hidden underground facility. There were elite skeletons that stood in front of them in an orderly fashion whilst continuously spewing out jet-black mana.

[My name is Paul 13... I have to punish the erroneous Emperor!]

[To think that there are still this many men who still follow General Seagald!]

[We have all been given a new name and purpose!]

[Paul Zero!]

[Paul Zero! Paul Zero!]

"Yes, yes. I know my name is Paul Zero, so you don't have to keep shouting it."

"Shin Woo, you, what was your original goal again...?"

"Well, since we're already here. Might as well."

On that day, eight new elite skeletons were born: Paul 13 through Paul 20.

No one yet knew that a new force was being formed within the Empire.

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