<Chapter 1. Reinforcement Hero - 1>
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."
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?"
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!
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.
"W-Wait a second, Paul! Remember our good old days...!"
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.]
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.