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Stop, Friendly Fire! Chapter 74

<Chapter 4. Hunting Hero - 1>



He stared intensely, but there really weren't any monsters at the entrance, not even one. Lee Shin Woo thought the Zombie Hero, who went into the dungeon before him, had probably cleared all the monsters. But he didn't know what monsters it had fought for its body to have become such a mess.

"Jjik, Jjijik" 
"Ah, finally."

He had been absent-mindedly running through the dungeon, without the appearance of a single monster for 10 minutes, and finally met a monster after he had traversed what he felt was halfway through the dungeon.
If you took a common house rat from Earth and made it five times bigger, how disgusting and big would those rats be! Then, he remembered that the dungeon's name was the rural rat nest.

"Jjiiiiiiiiiiiiik!"
"Heup..."

From the outside, they looked weaker than the Skeleton Soldiers, but he didn't know what kind of abilities the monsters of this world were hiding! Lee Shin Woo exerted strength into his hand gripping the sword and cautiously took a step forward.
At that moment, the Rural Rat exposed its brutally shining front teeth and lunged at him! Lee Shin Woo instinctually took a defensive stance and pointed his blade at his enemy. It was such a solid stance that if a skeleton who knew Weapon Defense saw his form, it would've been satisfied with it. 

[You have defeated a Lv1 Rural Rat.]
[You have received 5 Perium.]
[You have acquired a Rural Rat's rib bone.]

"..."

It was embarrassing to say that it was a single strike. He had exerted strength into his sword and positioned it so that it would hold back the rat's charge, but the rat had charged into his sword by itself and died. 
Of course, it was also due to the fact that it was a fine sword, but just by looking at the amount of Perium dropped, he came to an obvious conclusion. The Rural Rat was ridiculously weak, even compared to the Skeleton Soldiers! His tension loosened tiredly, and he felt despondent. Despite that, he instinctually picked up its rib bone and used his Bone Reinforcement.

[Would you like to use the Rural Rat's rib bone to strengthen your own bones? You can reinforce your rib bones.]
"Reinforce."

[Your rib bones have been reinforced. Absorbing a portion of the Rural Rat's memories and experiences.]
[Jjik! Jjijijik, Jjiiiik! - Rural Rat]

Lee Shin Woo momentarily stood there and felt conflicted. What would be the point of exploring this dungeon now...?
However, he soon got a hold of himself and hit his own cheek. An unpleasant sound rang out at the clash of bones. 

"If I can increase my stats by just one from these guys' bones, then it would still probably be best that I procure them all. Yeah, now that I've made up my mind, I'll clear out all the dungeons nearby."

It'd be troublesome if he got arrogant just because he got a little stronger. The fact that he could grow this much despite not knowing magic or how to fight was all because of Bone Reinforcement!

He soon decided to calmly and orderly proceed and stepped deeper into the dungeon. It seems that his senior hero hadn't stepped foot from this point onwards as more and more rats gradually popped out.
Of course, he cleaned them up in a single strike, but he gradually had to put more force into his sword, so it seemed as though the rats' health was gradually getting higher.

[You have reinforced your ribs. Your health has increased by 1. Proficiency in the Beginner Stealth skill has increased by 3%.]
[The Beginner Stealth skill has become Lv3.]
[Jjijijijik, jjiiik? - Rural rat]

Was it because he became level 2? That's why the level 1 Rural Rat bones would barely increase his stats... However, just like how larvae are good at rolling, the Rural Rat species' proficiency in the Stealth skill wasn't bad. 

Lee Shin Woo suddenly realized. All monsters have their own worth!

'I can only lighten my footsteps a little bit for now, but if I develop this skill, it should be really helpful when I need to run away from the battlefield.'

In other words, it would be best to use it in tandem with the Avenger skill. By killing the seemingly unimpressive rats, he had gained a skill with such amazing growth potential, so if he turned back after his first rat kill, he would've been really disappointed.

"Jjijik... Jjiiiiiiik!"
"Yeah, I'm trespassing, so why don't you try screaming a little louder?"
"Jjiiiiiiik!"

Rats appeared everywhere and after taking care of them without much difficulty, he greedily absorbed their bones. After walking for a while, Lee Shin Woo realized that the path was getting increasingly narrow. Conversely, there were more and more rats pouring out, and stirring about, making it difficult for him. 

"Jjiiiik!"
"Jjijijijik!"
"Yes, yes."

He was well aware of how this dungeon roughly intended to instill the trespasser with terror, but unfortunately, he was able to cut down all the rats that crossed paths with his sword. Lee Shin Woo felt like the path was becoming just a tad bit stuffy.
Moreover, as he traversed deeper into the dungeon, his body was becoming more accustomed to the Bursting Thunder skill, so he was actually thankful if they changed up the conditions or the environment. 
With that in mind, he swung his sword, tip facing the ground, upward, and the Bone of Thunder Lasting surged up from the ground to the sky like lightning, brutally slicing through all the rats in the entire area.

"Jjiiik! (No!)"
"Jjik!! (It's in front...!)"

The Rural Rats' death rattles filled the narrow passage. While he reinforced his bones with theirs, he had finally mastered their language, and he was naturally able to interpret the meaning behind their cries; he only felt a bit uncomfortable.
Their desperate behavior only confirmed that there was something deeper within, but he had absolutely no idea what it was. If it was a similar environment to the dungeons he had heard about in webnovels or manhwa, then there should be a boss within but...

'They're showing way too much loyalty for it to be just a simple boss.'

The overly dense population of rats in this area were fully showing their loyalty. 

Whenever he swung his sword, the rats filling the passage would all die by themselves, so around now, it was no longer skill training, but arm swinging training instead.
Ultimately, he had no choice but to unleash a different skill. When it was overflowing with a mob of Rural Rats, he had the perfect 'escape from crisis' skill to deal with them.

"Tsk... Kuaaaaaaaaaaaaahk!"

[Using Shriek of the Dead. The enemies in the entire area have fallen into a frenzied state.] 
[The Beginner Shriek of the Dead skill has become Lv3.]

"Jjik, Jjijik!?"
"Jjiiiiiiik!"

The effect was astounding! The moment the Rural Rats, who had all rushed at him with the intent to kill, heard the shriek, they were startled, and soon, fought in a fratricidal war! When he saw the dirty blood and flesh splatter everywhere, Lee Shin Woo suddenly trembled.

'This skill really isn't good for my mental health. However, if I train it, it might become more amazing than any other skill...'

He suddenly realized that Shriek of the Dead was obviously more effective the more enemies it targeted. How many enemies had been targeted for the skill to level up immediately!?

"Jjik..."
"Jjijik, Jjik..."
"Well done. Now, rest in peace."

He waited for the commotion to calm down before he cleaned up the horrific area. After that, he gathered the rib bones without resting and inspected himself while using Bone Reinforcement.

Despite spending close to a whole day concentrating all his efforts into killing rats and absorbing their bones, his health had only risen by 5; but in its stead, his Beginner Stealth had become level 4. Although he could definitely see himself walking, his movements were light, like the movements of a rat, though it was strange to even himself.

"I've gotten a bit more familiar with Bursting Thunder, as well as my body and the sword... Good."

Since the skill was so amazing, he felt like he couldn't even unleash a quarter of the power within Bursting Thunder, but he could roughly imitate the appearance of the technique. For some reason, after swinging his sword in the air a few times, he nodded his head and looked ahead.

There was clearly a disparate iron gate located there.

'I feel mana coming from the gate itself. Since the mana within can't come out, does it have the ability to imprison whatever's inside so that it can't come out?

He didn't have any idea how the dungeon was created, but when he looked at the gate, he thought that perhaps the dungeons were originally set up by God to protect humans from the monsters.
Of course, now that all the humans who were supposed to be protected by the dungeons had become undead, they probably don't have much meaning anymore but... He laughed bitterly and placed his hand on the gate. At that moment, a message appeared in front of him.

[Once you enter the boss room, you cannot exit until either you die, or the boss dies. Will you still enter?]

"Yeah."

He thought that perhaps the secret shop sold an item related to escaping the dungeon, but he thought he didn't need it right now. He wasn't being arrogant; this resulted from his extremely calm decision.

[Lv2 Rural Rat Queen]
[Lv2 Ratman]

The instant he entered the boss room, the first thing he saw were those two entities. Are the bosses normally a level higher than the dungeon? He couldn't tell yet.
A rat that was incomparable in size to the normal Rural Rats; the Rat Queen was stuck in a corner of the vast clearing, and the one standing in front of it was... Yeah, the rat standing on two feet was the Ratman. It was a rat commonly called a Were-Rat. Compared to mere Rural Rats, he felt a qualitatively different strength coming from it. 

"Kihik... Kihiiiiiiik! (You cannot touch the queen!)"
"Kihek, Kihek, Kihek...!"

Indeed. It seems like this dungeon was a small kingdom. A kingdom where all the rats serve the queen!
By the time Lee Shin Woo had grasped the identity and location of his enemies, his enemies had also started the battle. The Ratman charged at him with surprising speed. At the same time, the Rat Queen began acting aggressively, and that, surprisingly, was 'childbirth'!

"Jjjik!"
"Jjijijik!"

[Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier]
[Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier]
[Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier]

"Oh..."

When Lee Shin Woo saw the just birthed elite monsters following behind the Ratman and lunging at him, he exclaimed at the realization. 
The Ratman guarded the queen against trespassers, and the queen would birth soldiers in order to help the Ratman drive back their enemy. Honestly, for a level 1 dungeon, they had such an amazing combination that he had no choice but to recognize them. He had expected an incredibly large rat at best.

"Heup!" 

However, at best they were enemies that appeared with strength befitting of a boss, but unfortunately, he had fought against the Zombie Hero at the entrance of the dungeon and won, growing to level 2. So now, a Ratman wasn't a strong opponent for Lee Shin Woo anymore. That's because no matter how fast it moved, he could read its movements. 

"Kahahk!?"

Lee Shin Woo used his Sprint and charged towards the Ratman whose nails were gleaming and was rushing towards him. The Ratman locked onto him and swung its nails, but at that moment, Lee Shin Woo aimed for its chest and stabbed. It was the stab he was most confident in.

[Critical Hit!]

"Kyaaaaahk!"
"Jjik, jjiiiik!"

Lee Shin Woo, as it were the natural course of action, pierced through the Ratman's chest. Was that all? He had simultaneously utilized Sprint causing the Ratman to be unable to endure the powerful force, pushing it directly back and causing it to roll to the floor. Its dirty blood scattered about through the air. 

Two of the Rural Rat Elites that had followed behind the Ratman collided with each other and rolled onto the floor. Lee Shin Woo had the energy to spare and he finished off the remaining, puzzled elite. 

[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]
[You have acquired 15 Perium.]
[You have acquired the Rural Rat Elite Soldier's rib bone.]

When he set aside the Perium amount and looked at them objectively, the Rural Rat Elite Soldiers were stronger than the Skeleton Soldiers. Of course, even so, they would still die in one strike from Lee Shin Woo! 
Lee Shin Woo collected its rib bone for now and turned his attention. Even though blood was pouring out of its chest, the Ratman bravely stood its ground. He saw the queen, who was astonished by Lee Shin Woo's ability, continue to birth rats at an even quicker rate. 

"Jjik, Jjiiiiik...! (I'll protect the queen no matter what...!)"
"You left behind such a magnificent line, so you shouldn't have any more regrets."

Lee Shin Woo's red eyes sparkled and after checking the now standing Ratman's appearance, he prepared his Sprint skill. If he hadn't gained the Bone of Thunder Lasting, the fight would have gone longer, but it seemed like he'd be able to end it in one more strike with the strength of his sword.

"Jjiik...!"

At that moment, something surprising happened. The Ratman raised both its hands and it seemed as though it was preparing to scratch him, but the next moment, all its nails popped out and flew towards Lee Shin Woo. There were ten in total and considering either the force behind the nails or the mana within them, it certainly wasn't an ordinary attack! 

"Ugh!?"

Lee Shin Woo didn't think an original attack method like that existed and hurriedly swung his sword to parry the nails. He couldn't block a few of them as they lodged into various parts of his body, and though it was painful, he had fortunately blocked it from reaching any vital areas.
If he hadn't learned Bursting Thunder, no, if he didn't have any experience in learning Weapon Defense before, he would've died once from this skill. 

"Kiiiiiiiiik! (Kill him!)"
"Jjiik!"
"Jjijiik!"

During the brief instant that he blocked the nails, the Ratman led five Rural Rat Elite Soldiers and pounced on Lee Shin Woo. Though blood was flowing down both the Ratman's hands, it was staking its life to fulfill its vow, and moving to kill Lee Shin Woo. 

"Tch... Sprint!"

Lee Shin Woo also didn't stay still. He immediately took the nails that limited his movement out, grit his teeth, and used his Sprint, charging towards the front. The Elite Soldiers tried to obstruct his vision by throwing their bodies at him first, but that wouldn't be able to hinder his movement now.

[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]
[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]

"Jjik!"
"Jjiik!"
"Kuhwaaaahk!"
"Huaaaahp!" 

The sound of the rats' screams, the Ratman's shriek, as well as Lee Shin Woo's battle cry mixed into one. In the corner, the Rat Queen was birthing Elite Soldiers even faster in order to take care of the trespasser. 
However, by the time the next batch of births was complete, the situation had already been completely cleaned up.

"Kik... Kihi... (My... queen...!)"

[You have hunted the Lv2 Ratman.]
[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]
[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]

With one sword strike, Lee Shin Woo killed the three monsters, including the Ratman, and nimbly swung his sword again, killing the other Elite Soldiers attacking him. The strength was truly like lightning falling from the sky and striking the earth. 

[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]
[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]
[You have hunted a Lv1 Rural Rat Elite Soldier.]

"Ggiiik...! (How...!)"

The Rat Queen spoke in a disbelieving voice. Lee Shin Woo was still intact and collected the bones and the Perium on the ground in one go. 
Honestly, he wanted to reinforce himself with the Ratman's finger bone first, but right now, he needed to check something first. It was the ability within the Rural Rat Elite Soldiers' rib bones. 

"Bone Reinforcement."
[You have reinforced your rib bones. Your proficiency in Stealth has increased by 5%.]
[Jjjijijijijijijik! - Rural Rat Elite Soldier]

"...So that's how it is."

The crack in his ribs from the Ratman's nail throw was quickly healed. Was that all? His Stealth proficiency had increased by as much as 5%. He had predicted this, but it was much more effective than a normal Rural Rat!
Lee Shin Woo's eyes, which were gazing at the Rural Rat Queen, gleamed drearily. 

"I'm curious how long you can keep giving birth now."
"Jjik, Jjiik...!"

The Rural Rat Queen faced the wicked skeleton and was struck with horror. 
Of course, all she could do was give birth, and just like he wanted, she gave him reinforcement materials... No, she had no choice but to birth Elite Soldiers.
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