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Stop, Friendly Fire! Chapter 125

<Chapter 16. A Joker is Born - 3>


[Kill him! Kill them all!]

[For the Empire!]

"You said you'd just kill the lord, but what is this..."

Kratia completely froze the wall, ascended to the top, and just stood dumbstruck after confirming the massacre. The skeletons were hostile to everything and everyone. It started from the level 4 Skeleton Knights to the ordinary level 1 commoners; all of them had equally fallen into madness.

At this very moment, she heard a jarring, hair-raising scream from somewhere, but Kratia thought that it was a voice she'd heard somewhere before.

"Do the undead periodically fall into madness? No, there's no way that something could happen so suddenly... Then was it Shin Woo? But how?"

[The Captain's ordered us to annihilate them! Let us put to rest those foolish and pitiful fools of the Empire!]

[Follow the Commander!]

Though Kratia stood petrified, the Pauls followed behind her into the city, and unhesitatingly rushed forward.

The elite squadron, led by the reborn Paul 41, the level 4 Doom Factor, didn't have even a shred of hesitation and cut apart all of the surrounding undead. They had already finished steeling themselves.

"What could he have done to these guys? How...? Ugh."

Kratia couldn't get over her doubt at all, but it felt like a waste of time to do so while just sitting there. Ultimately, she stopped mulling over trivial thoughts and went straight into a large scale spell. After seeing Lee Shin Woo's use of mana, she'd developed a new technique; she'd made up her mind to test her 'catalyzed magic'!

A large quantity of mana stuck to the ice artifact that floated before her; Kratia watched as a large amount of mana grew, and smiled.

[The Low Rank Shriek of the Dead skill has become Lv8. Magic has increased by 2. Your skills are affected by your mana and can persist for a longer period of time.]

"Whoa, what's that?"

Meanwhile, Lee Shin Woo had finished cleaning up the area, and was using Shriek of the Dead in various areas of the city; he gaped once he saw the spell Kratia had cast.

There was no way an occupant of the city wouldn't be able to see the spell; there was an absurdly large mass of ice floating in the air!

"Ooh, it's cold just looking at it."

"The cold's not the issue here."

The clump of ice floating within the air created a suction force that drew in the surrounding mana; this mana seemed to rotate around the ice and then, transformed into sharp ice spears. And those ice spears poured down upon the enemies everywhere!

He could describe the clump of ice that so slowly advanced into the air, as well as the following ice spears that poured onto the battlefield as 'horrific'. To the point that Lee Shin Woo thought that he didn't even need to separately take out the Skeleton Commander if she could use something like that to attack the entire city!

"What kind of huge spell is that?"

"Are all level 6s like that?"

"No way."

But when he considered the fact that Kratia hadn't been in the Empire for very long and was still a newbie hero, he was just speechless.

Lee Shin Woo hadn't expected to influence her to to the point of completing such a grand magic; he decided to be even more guarded against the other heroes from now on. Of course, there was nothing wrong with being careful. He then realized that he hadn't been aware of how amazing he was.

"If you get hit by that, would you die Shin Woo?"

"Yep. Fortunately, it seems avoidable, but... No, it doesn't seem like we'll be enemies with Kratia, so we don't need to go into hypotheticals here."

One week was more than enough time to figure out each others' tendencies. Kratia was only single-mindedly focused on magic, but was also a rational thinker, as well as loyal. He thought she was a trustworthy human.

"I don't think I'll have to make a move with that there. Let's rest."

As soon as Lee Shin Woo decided that the battle was over, he immediately sank down onto the ground.

He grasped the Limited Order Bone Core in his hand. It was the key that would control the Iron Golems that stood before them. They had some spare time now, so he decided to earnestly start studying the core.

"That's what you call resting?"

"We should be able to get to level 5 if we use all of the bones we've acquired from the battle. So, I want to finish the quest before I level up."

"You're so stubborn it's scary."

Lee Shin Woo could already use the Bone Core much better than the original owner, the lord, could. Considering the fact that he had controlled three Iron Golems simultaneously and made it so that two of the Elder Knights couldn't move an inch (while wielding the Lightning Tooth in his other hand and swinging it at the final Elder Knight), Jin was just shocked!

However, Lee Shin Woo wasn't satisfied with just that.

"Arema Steelworker... No, the Empire made a huge mistake. If you hold the remote control, it becomes really obvious how the golems' mana is created, as well as how they move, doesn't it?"

"If anyone could tell that from just analyzing it, they wouldn't have made a remote control like that..."

Regardless of how deep one's magical knowledge was, or how much they analyzed the basics behind it, they wouldn't be able to copy the mana. At least, if they followed what Kratia had told them. However, Lee Shin Woo was gripping the Bone Core and struggling against it, so he didn't hear what Jin was saying.

'That's right. Originally, mana doesn't have its own form. The form changes depending on who is using it. ...In some ways, it might be similar to my karma.'

Lee Shin Woo closely examined the process that changed his mana within the core, and was repeatedly in awe. It felt like he had tested and confirmed the knowledge he'd memorized until now, and was deeply moved. He also felt a sense of stubbornness, that he wanted to do what the core did all by himself.

"Hoo. Then let's do it in order."

"It's surprising that you're doing this in order."

However, it was impossible right now; for starters, Lee Shin Woo focused on giving out detailed commands to the golems. There were basic commands recorded in the core, but he wanted to personally inject his will into the golems based on the strange mana pattern change.

This wasn't very difficult, as he had already received all the knowledge from the Original Core.

[Following order. Running in place.]

[Following order. Sparring with I0921.]

He had succeeded, so next up was to transmit the image in his head in its entirety to the golems. The core had just become a medium that changed Lee Shin Woo's mana into that of a golem's. he had already completely analyzed the core and successfully produced their effects.

He was even soon able to release the 'limited' clause on his administrative authority. In other words, he would be able to control golems below level 5, even if they weren't registered in the core. This was already a shocking achievement, but he wasn't satisfied with that.

[Executing pushups.]

[Executing 8 personal training exercises.]

"I'm almost there..."

Lee Shin Woo gently closed his eyes. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that he was the one who knew about a golem's mana most, aside from a golem itself. He just needed to take one more step.

He trusted in mana's ability to change. He had absorbed a golem's mana before, so he thought that there was no reason he wouldn't be able change his mana to that of a golem's. Lee Shin Woo was now able to genuinely think that way.

"Hoo..."

Lee Shin Woo fell into deep thought, and he dropped the core that had been in his hand, which automatically entered his inventory. If he truly wanted to produce a golem's mana, he had to discard the core.

[Standing by.]

[Connection with commander has been lost.]

The golems, which had been diligently doing their pushups and eight PT exercises, returned to standby. It was possible because they weren't the autonomous defense type golems, which automatically recognized their enemies and attacked.

'A golem's mana... A golem's mana...'

How long had he stood there? Around the time where he became unaware of the chaos and the terror that covered the city, mana suddenly appeared on his fingertips.

"Oh... Oh?"

"Hoo..."

It seemed as though the mana couldn't make up its mind, as it hovered around, but it soon changed into flames, acid, and lightning. The mana went from a living person's to a dead person's.

Then it changed to Lee Shin Woo's mana, to something else's, and ultimately arrived at unknown territory. He realized that all of it was similar and that there wasn't any real reason to classify them.

The moment he thought that way, the mana within him seethed. The Mana Bone skill responded to his realization and more purely refined his mana. Though there wasn't any change in the volume of mana, this had caused his mana to be reborn.

[The Element category has been opened in the status menu. You can draw the pure essence of the elements from your mana and use them as you please. The Low Rank Flames of Revenge and the Intermediate Acid Poison Spray skills are eliminated. You have acquired Low Rank Fire Lv4, Intermediate Acid Lv3, and Intermediate Lightning Lv1.]

The Flames of Revenge, as well as the Acid Poison Spray skills were nothing more than skills that changed mana for a special purpose and allowed one to manipulate the transformed mana. Compared to fundamentally changing mana into a pure element, the skills were inferior techniques.

He had become able to freely change his mana into an element and use it, whether he wanted to cause it to spread and persistently blaze, or shoot out in a straight line. Lee Shin Woo then realized that there was no reason to confine flames or acid into one form.

'Yeah. That's what Kratia realized as well when she watched me...'

The purpose of Bone Reinforcement wasn't for him to learn typical skills from absorbing the memories of countless individuals, as well as their abilities, but to make him realize that he could combine countless abilities into one, or divide one into countless others.

"Hoo..."

The black mana above the palm of his hand unraveled like a ball of yarn and formed a single pattern. If the Steelworkers had seen that, they would've been shocked. That's because it was the high rank administrative seal that was only allowed to level 7 golems.

This was the result of Guillotine Steelworker's arrogance; he thought that only golems could create the seal, so he didn't even feel the need to hide the pattern.

[Recognizing high rank authority.]

[It's a pleasure. Obeying Steelworker's orders.]

[Output limitations have been completely released. High rank commander is cleared.]

The three golems quickly stood up. If they had treated his commands as though they were from a lieutenant until now, now they were treating him as though he were a 2-star general and were showing their loyalty.

[Accepting Iron Golems I0919, I0920, and I0921 as subordinates. These golems are under the effect of the Command skill and are strengthened.]

Jin, who had watched with bated breath ever since Lee Shin Woo had created several elements, realized that Lee Shin Woo had really done it and was shocked. At that moment, Lee Shin Woo saw a message right in front of him stating that the quest was finished!

[Quest complete! You have acquired 3 permits to God's secret shop. The Acting skill has become Lv11. You have learned the Joker's innate skill, 'Disguise'.]

[Disguise Lv1 (Active)]

[A true Joker fools even himself. And if he perfectly fools even himself, then he can ultimately fool the entire world. You can transform into someone you are completely familiar with, or modify a part of your body or an item you are holding. Of course, it only changes the outside appearance, so please use this skill with discretion.]

"...!?"

Lee Shin Woo felt as if he had goosebumps all over his body. How could this kind of skill exist? He could understand if it were a skill that allowed him to create something with mana, but this wasn't like that.

'Fool yourself, so you can fool the world?' It sounded way too grandiose. Even he, the possessor of the skill, couldn't understand the principles behind the skill. He had finally finished his homework, yet it felt like he had gotten another more difficult piece of homework.

"What's wrong, Shin Woo? Were you not able to make the seal just like you wanted?"

"No, that's not it."

Lee Shin Woo just shook his head towards Jin, who was worrying about him. He had thought that everything would be his for the taking after figuring out how to make the seal, but was crestfallen when he realized that wasn't true, and wasn't able to honestly relay that fact. 

At that moment, Lee Shin Woo suddenly felt the death energy around him dwindle. Now that he thought about it, he didn't hear any screams or battle cries in the surrounding area anymore. That meant only one thing.

[You and your comrades have cleared away the death in the city, 'Kehebe'. Though you did not eliminate the curse, you managed to lessen the energy of death here, so no more undead will appear in this area.]

It was message saying that they'd purified the city.


[1] E/N: Not to be thought of literally. He just shouldnt be in contact with the core for it to truly be him making the changes.

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