[We were able to take care of him somehow.]
[Whenever he's in danger, he can just retreat into the shadows, so even if you beat him, you're not supposed to be able to kill him...]
[He caught him. No, the reason our Lord was even able to hit him was...]
Lee Shin Woo was able to kill one of the 12 Generals, the Golden Shadow General that was under the direct control of the Emperor, and everyone was shocked at how futilely he had died. In the midst of all that, Lee Shin Woo nonchalantly picked up the bone that was left behind. It was a leg bone.
He also dropped Perium, a Bayran Inner Map, his level 6 black leather armor, as well as a dark knife. Lee Shin Woo immediately went for the knife. He checked and mentally noted that his Invisible Heart was at its max level, nodded his head, and backed off.
"The rest is all yours."
Arema Steelworker just stared at Lee Shin Woo, without even going for the loot.
He had realized that Lee Shin Woo had been one-sidedly controlling the battle. The reason he had been able to kill the Golden Shadow General so easily, especially when their affinity was so bad, was because of Lee Shin Woo.
He had won, but he didn't feel good at all. It felt like Lee Shin Woo had played around with him throughout the entire fight. Arema had tried to not show his full strength, but Lee Shin Woo may already be aware of that. He had become a puppet that danced upon his stage.
'To think that I, Arema Steelworker, would be so easily manipulated. Perhaps the moment I met this unknown undead, I was... No, perhaps when I met that skeleton long ago, I had already made the wrong decision.'
At first, Arema had planned to attack Lee Shin Woo when he was vulnerable, and trade their physical bodies for his life.
But he realized. That the only reason Lee Shin Woo had even deigned to bargain with them was that it was just easier for him. He hadn't been afraid of him at all. If he attacked him now, then his physical body would be immediately destroyed. He was absolutely sure of it.
Once he realized that his hated enemy was clearly stronger than him, Arema actually calmed down. Lee Shin Woo saw the change in his mental state and his eyes changed as well.
[What are your intentions? You possess such power, so why are you pointlessly playing around here?]
Lee Shin Woo curtly replied. There was no reason to lie, so he decided to answer honestly.
"I want to live in a world where I can just live my life."
[You're already dead, so how exactly are you going to achieve that?]
"That's.... I wonder. It might work out in the end."
He'd already found success. Lee Shin Woo had pursued life, and as a result of his endeavors, he had become an existence which couldn't be classified as either living or dead.
Of course, it was the result of developing several of his abilities, but... perhaps it was all due to his ardent wish to live.
His start as an undead came about due to his childish wish of 'not wanting to die'. But he didn't need to tell Arema that. Arema Steelworker just watched him with a piercing gaze. Lee Shin Woo just shrugged his shoulders and said.
"Now, let's finish up the rest of them. ...Anti-Skull, don't just stand there discouraged and get a move on. Your commander is dead; do you plan on joining him!?"
[Keuk. Who'd die in a place like this?]
[I'd rather not listen to someone like you. But... for Lord Tarian! Since it's for Lord Tarian!]
[I'll get my revenge... on these Golden Shadow bastards!]
Once Tarian had died, Lee Shin Woo was able to reignite their spirits by slightly instigating them and manipulated them wholeheartedly. Of course, the level 7 elites among them were an exception, but even they couldn't voice their hostility towards him now; they merely gritted their teeth and rushed towards the Golden Shadow. Without them even realizing that that was exactly what Lee Shin Woo wanted.
[R-Retreat. We can't hold on any longer!]
[Keuk. But now that the Commander's dead, we can't hide within the darkness anymore...!]
[Kill them all. Don't let a single one of them escape!]
Once they realized how unfavorable the battle was for them, Golden Shadow tried to retreat immediately, but retreat was impossible even when Vellun Von Dorthe was alive, so how could it become possible for them now? Especially because the Anti-Skull were rushing towards them like madmen as if their very lives were burning out!
[Keuk. These crazy bastards...!]
[Fine, let's die together!]
[Don't forget the name of Anti-Skull, even in the grave!]
[Uooooh! I'm not letting go of my sword until I kill you all!]
Their eyes shone red, and they heroically battled against the Golden Shadow, dying for their cause. They were determined to wipe out the Golden Shadow in order to avenge their leader, and emitted a fearsome spirit!
The golems watched on, dumbstruck, and shook. They didn't know that Anti-Skull was such a fearsome organization! If their swords were aimed at them, instead of the Golden Shadow, then not all, but at least two of the remaining three Heavenly Commanders would have to be prepared for death.
[T-These bastards... Retreat. Retreat!]
[Killing your enemy is good and all, but throwing your lives away to do so is foolish... Ugh, they're not listening at all!]
The level 7 elites were the only ones to maintain their sanity and were shocked at the sight of their comrades so vigorously attacking the Golden Shadow. They tried to stop them, but because of Lee Shin Woo instigating them with Tarian's death, their hatred towards the Golden Shadow exploded, such that even they couldn't stop their rampage anymore.
The level 6s were quickly dwindling. No one would've expected that such rare elites would be dying so futilely.
[W-We can't let this continue. Don't you remember Lord Seagald's orders!?]
[You fools! If we all die here, then we'll be hindering him... Kuheok!?]
In the midst of all that, there was a problem that arose. The level 7 elites were so busy trying to calm down their subordinates with their command-related skills that they temporarily let down their guard. Of the two of them, one of the commanders was killed by the Golden Shadow's ambush (it was actually Lee Shin Woo)!
[No, Commander Douvaine was...!]
[Keuk. Kuaaaaaah! You bastards!]
And so, two of the three level 7 commanders were killed. Lee Shin Woo didn't even need to provoke them further. Their anger increased even more. But Lee Shin Woo decided to give them a little push.
"Avenge them! Can you really call yourselves Anti-Skull if you can't even avenge your fallen comrades!?"
[Keuk. That's not true...!]
[Commander Tarian, Commander Douvaine... I'll avenge you!]
[...But whose voice is this anyway?]
A voice provoked Anti-Skull from all across the area. No one knew who was speaking to them, nor where it was coming from, but it was enough to provoke the excited soldiers. And his provocation even reached the last remaining level 7 elite as well.
[Damn it... Damn iiiiiiit!]
That was easy. Lee Shin Woo, who'd collected Douvaine's bone, watched on and tilted his head. He could trick Anti-Skull as easily as he could fool the rest of the Empire's undead!
However, Lee Shin Woo was overlooking the fact that his Instigate skill had grown. When he'd gotten to level 8, his physical strength and magic had obviously grown, along with his elemental power, but he was not yet aware of how much his Joker's innate abilities had grown.
'This is strange... Is it because of Wild Card? No, did Instigate itself get stronger? It's like I can just activate it with my mind now.'
If he were still level 7, then he wouldn't be able to take control of another level 7 with just a few words!
When he became level 8, he had gained Wild Card, and his very existence could affect the world. Now, his Instigate skill had neared the power of an authority that couldn't be explained by his increase in physical strength, magic nor elemental power. And if he were to construct the proper situation with Wild Card, then he could easily control lower leveled existences than him like this.
Lee Shin Woo tested out his Instigate skill a few more times and got a feel for his newly improved innate skills. Once he'd succeeded in applying Wild Card better than before, he killed the last level 7 elite commander, who had been wildly fighting against the Golden Shadow.
Golden Shadow was almost completely eliminated, as the remaining Anti-Skull force had staked their lives on killing them. But they were actually already dead.
What an ideal scenario. It was exactly as Lee Shin Woo had planned. If he hadn't felt such murderous intent, then he would've watched a little while longer.
"Hoo. It's gotten a bit cleaner."
Lee Shin Woo took care of the remaining Golden Shadow and surveyed the battlefield. Since the golems weren't particularly hostile towards him, he decided to keep them around for now. Aside from Stake Steelworker, who had been killed by the Golden Shadow General, the golems were pretty much unscathed.
[You not only led so many opposing forces here but also manipulated them to your heart's content and achieved the result you desired. This karma goes beyond tactics; it is more akin to 'control' or 'domination'.]
[You have acquired the title, 'Overlord of the Subconscious'. All stats have increased by 15. The Instigate skill has become Lv9 and Magic has increased by 20. The High Rank Command skill has become Lv8 and all stats have increased by 5. When used in conjunction with Instigate, you can more effectively ignore the effects of the opposing side's Command skill.]
He'd somewhat expected this, but he'd acquired another amazing title. Lee Shin Woo looked at it, shrugged his shoulders, and then collected the loot.
The golems merely watched him, dumbfounded. They didn't know what he'd done exactly, but they had some idea as to what role he had in this battle. But in the midst of that, Arema Steelworker quietly said.
[...Is this what you wanted?]
"What are you talking about?"
[No... Never mind.]
Then, Guillotine Steelworker quietly looked at Arema. Arema firmly shook his head and Guillotine bit his lip and stepped back. The other golems saw those gestures and realized what their commander was conveying. They all wore the same indescribable expression in silence.
'Good. They're completely disheartened.'
Lee Shin Woo was pleased with the result. If he wanted, he could've taken care of the situation more quietly. But he'd wanted to show the golems 'who was superior' by giving them a taste of his abilities. It seemed like it worked.
It was time to absorb all the bones he couldn't before, as he had been so busily moving around!
He was the type to eat the tastiest part of the meal first, but because he wanted to know what the Anti-Skull's true goal was (as well as Seagald Von Retadane’s location and plans), so he combined the two commanders and Tarian's bones together and absorbed them first.
Even though they were elites, they were a lower level than him, so absorbing all three at once only gave him a measly 30 stats, but that wasn't what was important. What was important was...
[Lord Seagald... Please come back safely.]
[Don't worry. There are only three people who can stop me in the Empire. One of them, Arema Steelworker, has forged a temporary alliance with us. ...I'll be fine by myself. I'll be back. I'm counting on you guys to lure them away.]
By absorbing all three of their memories simultaneously, memories flowed through him automatically. They were quite recent memories, so Seagald Von Retadane was definitely included in them.
That's right. This was a memory of the three commanders seeing Seagald off before he undertook an independent mission. As expected, Seagald was here! Tarian's forces were just bait!
[You will achieve everything you want.]
[We'll succeed in the name of Anti-Skull!]
[For the Empire!]
Seagald Von Retadane's voice was clean and possessed a clear will behind it. Lee Shin Woo tried to go through the memories ASAP, as he needed to find out where Seagald was, but then, the last remaining memory of Seagald resounded through his head.
[For the Empire. ...For my foolish little sister who has lost her way.]
Lee Shin Woo suddenly raised his head.
He heard a 'boom' go off from within the walls where the cannon was located.