Stop, Friendly Fire! Chapter 211
<Chapter 30. Hero Hunter - 6>
According to Lee Man Bok, he was part of the first hero group that was summoned. He had been a typical company employee in Seoul, South Korea, and when he was summoned, he asked that God give him the ability to use magic. Fortunately, he had a high aptitude for magic, so he was able to win every battle in the Empire.
[That young lady was beautiful. The one who's in charge of the shop...]
He'd thought about it for a bit, but in order for their conversation to progress smoothly, he added more background information. That the wandering knight, Paul Zero, was once a hero (honestly, Shino Rendu and Bisher Moon had guessed the same)!
But here, an unexpected truth was revealed.
[She never told me her name, but it seems like you two are quite close.]
"...Is that so?"
If he had just brought her a bottle of wine, she would've told him her name. Unfortunately, it seemed like he hadn't been aware of that fact.
[But thanks. Pleine... It fits her, as she had such sparkling eyes. Now that I know, I'm happy.]
"It seems like you really liked her."
[There's no way the other heroes couldn't like her. Unlike down here, which was teeming with the undead, the secret shop had her warm smile and was overflowing with life. Above all, she was the only one who could safely give us food.]
"Well, that's true..."
Lee Shin Woo couldn't relate, and Lee Man Bok spoke of Pleine in the past-tense, while he could see her whenever he wanted, so it was really tough to listen to, but with his level 17 Acting skill, he was able to bear with it.
Lee Man Bok was wondering whether he could really trust Lee Shin Woo or not, as he gazed at him. Lee Shin Woo looked completely natural.
[It's been a long time since I felt like this, but when I think back to that time, I feel happy. Back then, I thought I could do anything. It felt like I'd become the protagonist of a fantasy novel. I thought I was the only one with unique skills, unique equipment... Everything was exactly as I'd dreamed it to be.]
That's right. When summoned to this world, most earthlings would feel that way. They wouldn't become skeletons like Lee Shin Woo! Lee Shin Woo suddenly recollected the moment he'd been sent to the Empire and gritted his teeth.
It was his own fault and it pissed him off that he couldn't complain about it to anyone!
"Since God's blessing is supernatural. It's a power that can easily enable you to overcome a level difference in a specific situation."
[Yeah, it was indeed. You're right, I put too much faith into her blessing...]
Firstly, this was all information that Lee Shin Woo couldn't have known unless he was a hero. Secondly, Lee Shin Woo looked incredibly reasonable. Therefore, Lee Man Bok was able to trust him. To be honest, Lee Shin Woo was using his Instigate skill here, but Lee Man Bok wasn't able to figure that out. That was the power of Instigate.
[...Those good times passed by in a flash. I got to level 7, and... despite her, Pleine, telling us not to, we (the heroes) arrogantly challenged the 12 generals. However, the darkness that covered the Empire was truly deep and vast... In the end, we lost to them and became undead.]
That's right. This was the important part. After all, wasn't Lee Shin Woo the one who killed all of the undead heroes? Lee Man Bok saw Lee Shin Woo's goblin fire burn, gravely nodded his head, and spoke.
[Of course, I didn't regain consciousness immediately. At the beginning, the moment I degenerated into an undead, I instinctively began to hate humans... and wanted to follow the Emperor. Honestly, they welcomed us. To the point that it felt like we had never even fought against each other before...]
His words caused Lee Shin Woo to automatically recollect the Archmage, Feotane Von Seldin, and shook. As expected, incorporating the heroes into their forces had been going on for a long time.
[Ethan Cruz saved us. No, to be exact, my comrades and I... he infused his darkness magic into us and returned our sanity.]
Ethan Cruz, who hadn't spoken, didn't have a special ability, and was a junior that no one was interested in, possessed such a terrifying ability; Lee Man Bok remembered how surprised he was, and smiled bitterly. It was a feeling Lee Shin Woo could understand, even if he was learning about it after the fact.
[And so, we ran. We ran so hectically with him... But as we ran, we felt it. He was trying to destroy our minds and turn us into his subordinates. Ironically, at that moment, I was able to advance myself as a magician, and punish him for his dirty tricks.]
"Were you not able to kill him?"
[Unfortunately... Once he realized he was at a disadvantage, he used my comrades, who were now under his control, as human shields and retreated. I confronted them and we fought, and I was somehow able to return their minds to them, but... he was already nowhere to be found.]
So it seems like Ethan Cruz wasn't a monstrous level 8 dozens of years ago. He was inexperienced, so contrary to his intentions, Lee Man Bok had awakened and had regained his sanity. Lee Shin Woo listened to his story, and wondered whether there were traces of Ethan Cruz's darkness magic within Lee Man Bok, but there wasn't.
[After that, a few things happened, but... Ultimately, I hid here. It was extremely safe, and it was a hidden base. Though I had no idea you would find it.]
"Why are you just staying here? You don't want to take revenge on the 12 generals who killed you, or Ethan Cruz, who tried to control you?"
Lee Man Bok chuckled at Lee Shin Woo's question. At that moment, Lee Shin Woo knew that he'd failed to convince Lee Man Bok. As expected, Lee Man Bok shrugged his shoulders and weakly spoke.
[Surprisingly... In my last fight, I learned something I really didn't want to know. At that moment, I lost all my lingering attachments. I had a taste of something that went beyond anger: despondence.]
[All my lingering attachments from my old world, as a hero, and even those as an undead... My hate towards Ethan Cruz? That's the only thing that still remains, but I don't want to risk my life for that and go outside again.]
What exactly made him hide in here? In any case, Lee Shin Woo was sure that Lee Man Bok didn't look at God favorably. It wouldn't be a good idea to stimulate his mental state. If that's the case, then...
"Ethan Cruz is aiming for our junior heroes again. I'm aware of this, so I'm trying to stop him. Your juniors, who were put into exactly the same state as you were dozens of years ago, are sinless, yet... you have no intention of helping them?"
But his plan, which targeted Lee Man Bok's compassion, didn't work at all. Lee Man Bok's voice was quite cold.
[Leave them be, so that they can overcome that danger on their own. I don't know how you were able to remain so sane, but what you're trying to do won't matter. There's no reason to follow God's command and struggle in death. It'll be... in vain.]
"...I'm not trying to follow God's command."
'Is it really ok for me to tell him this,' Lee Shin Woo thought as the words thoughtlessly came out of his mouth. He had said it on a whim, as he was displeased that someone so strong was just sitting on their ass. 'Well, I suppose it's good to say as a Joker,' he thought, and spoke.
"I just want to become so strong that no one can order me to do anything. So I'll say it again, I... just want to be free. What about you?"
[Free... That'd be nice. Much better than living here in hiding.]
Lee Man Bok respected his intent, but didn't empathize with him.
[However, you'll soon regret it as well. This world is illogical, and in a world like that, there's absolutely no reason to fight. Whether it be with a living body, an undead body... we'll never get what we want. ...I'm fine where I am. I don't want to think about anything else anymore.]
"...Is that so?"
Around that time, Lee Shin Woo gave up on Lee Man Bok, and Lee Man Bok realized that. 'What fickleness,' he thought, and asked something he hadn't intended on asking.
[You said you were going to help your juniors, right?]
[If that's the case, you'll soon realize. How pointless it is.]
Lee Man Bok smiled. He was a skeleton that looked like him, yet when he smiled, he looked this terrifying.
[This world drives everyone insane. The undead hate the living, and the living hate the undead. It's too late. Our juniors won't see us as seniors, they'll just see us as undead. As undead they have to defeat. As undead that cannot be trusted! Nothing you say can convince them. The longer you live here, the more evidence there is to support it... In the end, you just become part of the darkness, without being able to do anything.]
"I have a rough idea. However, I'm sure I can overcome it."
[If you're going to be that stubborn, let me give you one last piece of advice. ...Be careful of Seira Von Retadane.]
Seira Von Retadane? That's quite a surprising name to hear here. Lee Shin Woo raised his head and he saw Lee Man Bok gritting his teeth.
[Nothing you say will be able to convince that lunatic, so try not to even cross paths... I'm telling you to kill her before she takes notice of you.]
"Thanks for the advice. Anything else? I'm going to go find others who are in the same situation as us."
[The Giants' domain. My old comrades are there. If you can convince them, they'll be of great help to you. Though it'll be extremely difficult to find them.]
Aha, he was wondering. Lee Shin Woo naturally nodded his head. There were only two other undead heroes, aside from Lee Man Bok in the level 4 danger zone, yet he was wondering why they were so close to each other. And that place intersected with his memories from the giant.
'If they're the giants' descendants, then it makes sense.'
He'd already decided that he would go over there sometime, but what great timing! Lee Shin Woo smiled in satisfaction. Jin shook, but he didn't let that worry him.
[Are you leaving?]
"I have to."
Lee Shin Woo nodded his head and thrust his Breath of the Thunder God, burrowing his blade within Lee Man Bok's skull. He activated his high speed thrust skill, Shadow Horn, and coupled with the lightning in their surroundings, the strike was so fast that Lee Man Bok couldn't respond to it!
When he added in his recent Mana Acceleration skill, it looked like there were no signs and it was as if he had lunged at light speed!
A high rank level 7 magician. Unfortunately, one hit of Shadow Horn was enough to penetrate the magic protecting Lee Man Bok's body. One of the emeralds that were embedded in his eyes burst out of its eye socket.
That wasn't all. The six Breath of the Lightning Gods behind him altogether burrowed into Lee Man Bok's body. Who else could execute such a perfect surprise attack? It was to the point that a top assassin would be shocked at the sight.
"I found you, so what are the chances that someone else doesn't? I have no idea when I might face you as an enemy, so when you said 'I'm going to just hide here and live my life', did you think I would be like, 'Yes, do you as wish'?"
Before Lee Man Bok's staff could even emit light, Lee Shin Woo kicked it away. He had somewhat expected this, but because he hadn't fought in actual combat, or perhaps because he was rusty, he was incredibly slow. He was prepared to get hit by one spell. How disappointing.
[How could I be beaten so easily...!?]
"Why didn't you just show up as an enemy? I'd rather have that than you just incessantly talking about such heavy stuff."
Lee Shin Woo exploded all of his Breath of the Lightning Gods at once. The level 6 weapons blew up right before him, but he wasn't damaged in the least from the resulting explosion. That meant that he could control lightning that naturally.
"At least you were hiding a trick up your sleeve."
However, the moment that Lee Man Bok's robe shined, his almost fully broken skull regenerated. At the same time, Lee Shin Woo felt a considerable amount of mana being concentrated into him and nodded his head. He gathered lightning mana that came about due to the explosion in one hand, and used Shadow Horn once more. It would be difficult for a trained magician to recycle mana like he did.
Contrary to Hansen Von Dorthe's technique, Lee Shin Woo created a true 'Lightning Shadow' and mercilessly pierced through Lee Man Bok's skull, completely destroying it. His attack, which used lightning concentrated to its very limit, as well as shadow, had overcome physics and had sublimated into something else!
[You have acquired 2 secret shop permits, and 45,591,340 Perium.]
[You have given peace to a comrade who walked a path he could not return from. You have partially cleared the quest objectives, and have acquired 1 secret shop permit. The maximum level of the Invisible Heart skill has increased by 1.]
This time, he had completely finished his job. Lee Shin Woo sighed and snatched the robes from the ground. They were definitely a treasure, considering the fact that they retained their shape despite the explosion.
[You have acquired the Lv6 Sage's Regret. Through Bone Reinforcement, it has become the Lv7 Prayer of the Dead!]
"Holy crap. It turned into a level 7 artifact! Jin, look at this. It's like bone powder clumped up to make the robes, and the way it sways, it's like what a final boss wears... What's wrong?"
"...I thought you two would be good friends."
"Nope. It was just an act to make him drop his guard and make it easier for me to launch a surprise attack..."
"Give me back my feelings!"
Reality is always cruel. Lee Shin Woo had disrespectfully forced a hermit senior to go to his eternal rest!
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