Once he’d finished going through the base and lying to the Magic Emperor, the group gathered in one spot and discussed their future plans.
Of their many tasks, they first had to prioritize improving the Huginn’s Eye, rather than working on golems or the Titan. The reason being quite simple.
“We need to find out where the Lich’s life vessel is, but it’s more important that we find out where Seagald is hiding and report it to the Emperor.”
“Whenever you’re doing something evil, you’re smarter than everyone else, Shin Woo.”
“Hey, people will misunderstand. Call it a way of survival. You think I’m doing this to save myself? I’m doing this so we can all survive.”
“You should’ve just kept acting as Paul Zero.”
“They’ll misunderstand. Ah, I feel a headache coming, so don’t explain it. It’s fine.”
Aside from that, they decided what tasks they needed to complete in order to attain victory in the final battle. He decided to focus on improving the Titan (which now used the Demon Heart), creating cores and golems, and repairing the Heaven Defying Flag Bearer, which had broken to pieces in the previous battle.
Unfortunately, Lee Shin Woo was forced to leave all that to Kratia. But Kratia looked happy to be undertaking that massive workload instead.
“Junior, if Kratia’s busy doing other stuff, then what do I do, since I was learning magic from her? Hmm? Pop some popcorn?”
Most seniors wouldn’t pass this kind of responsibility to their juniors, but that was precisely Prince’s charm; she didn’t even recognize those norms and did away with them.
Lee Shin Woo patted her head in satisfaction. She acted as if she hated it, but she was actually quite pleased; her image as a senior was completely broken at this point. Seeing that, Kratia looked at her as if she were hopeless and said.
“You’ve got the basics down, so practice by yourself from now on. A real battle would be best.”
“A real battle, huh… Ah, Senior. Would you like to go to the surface instead?”
“Ah, really? I can go up to the surface? Really?”
Prince’s eyes widened at Lee Shin Woo’s suggestion. Lee Shin Woo nodded his head and explained.
“The only thing we can do here is invade the capital. It’s dangerous outside, so it’s difficult to move freely, right?”
“If I’m not traveling with you, then yeah… You’re right. I wonder how Lloyd and Erian are doing.”
“Now that you mention it, you’re right. If they’re hiding in a dungeon, they’ll remain safe, but if they leave… I guess I should explain it to them too.”
The biggest pain in the ass was the heroes not currently present. It was obvious that it would get bloody underground, and if Lee Shin Woo just left the other heroes be, they might die all of a sudden.
That’s not all. While Lloyd was level 7 and was thus barely qualified to participate in the final battle, Erian would cling to Lloyd like glue… though he at least needed to know how things were going.
And if they wanted to fight together in the final battle, then… it would be best to stop them.
“Then can’t you just send those two to the surface too, Shin Woo?”
“I thought about that, but I feel like it’s not such a good idea…”
“What a coincidence. I agree.”
Aside from the fact that Erian was an elf, a species unseen on the surface, Lloyd was the model hero who’d show up in fairytales. If he sent him to the surface, then he’d cause a lot of trouble for him 100%. He might even die faster there than if he were here.
“Then I’ll leave them be for now. I’ll explain things to them later. Senior Prince, please think about it. If you decide to go to the surface, then I can have Jin Jin help or I can help you do things on your own. I’ve identified several dungeons, and going to the surface is best if you’re looking for rapid growth.”
“But if you catch the Emperor’s attention, then you
die. He’s level 9.”
Prince was tearing up but ultimately decided to go to the surface. If she wanted to get used to the new Fire Demon summoning spell that she’d developed with Kratia and grow, then going to the surface was the best option. There was honestly only one viable option for her.
“You’re not planning on invading the capital without me, are you? Right? You saw how strong my Fire Demon was, right?”
“Yes, yes. I promise I’ll go with you when the time comes, so please don’t die. More importantly, how many of the 12 Generals are left?”
“I have an idea. But first, Lee Shin Woo, could you please tell us about all the members of the 12 Generals you’ve killed thus far?”
This time it was Seira. Lee Shin Woo thought back and went down the list one-by-one. Seira and the others were absolutely speechless.
“To think you killed five of them yourself… I had my suspicions, but you really were the one who killed the Beast General! I thought it was strange that the loot was so sparse!”
“Of course. You should be thankful that I let you finish off the Vulture General. Though I was busy rescuing Lloyd and taking care of Ethan Cruz. Do you guys even realize how close you all were to turning undead then?”
“Junior, are you some sort of fairytale protagonist? You do all the dirty work and protect everyone. …That’s pretty cool!”
Seira had ended up killing the Vulture General, but if Lee Shin Woo and Kratia hadn’t prepared their countermeasures so thoroughly, then the fight would’ve been a lot tougher.
Normally, Seira shouldn’t have had any trouble taking down a level 7 General by herself, but at the time, she’d been affected by madness, so he didn’t know how it would have actually turned out.
“And as you know, the Spirit General’s on our side now.”
“That means that you actually defeated 7 of the 12 Generals… Moreover, you were able to defeat my brother… Seagald and the Archmage as well.”
She looked like she couldn’t believe what she was saying. As humans grew, their karma became personalized to them, which causes them to have certain affinities and weaknesses.
The 12 Generals’ abilities varied, so even if you managed to defeat one of them, it also meant that you would likely struggle against another. But it sounded like Lee Shin Woo wouldn’t lose in a one-on-one confrontation with any one of them.
“…And now that I think about it, you’re actually undead, not human.”
“Hey, don’t forget about the horse.”
“I’m surprised that the Mercenary King, Metafel, had reached level 8. If you include him as well, then you’ve defeated three level 8 Generals, and have taken one on as your subordinate.”
“I didn’t finish off Arema myself, but I guess that’s about right.”
Moreover, Lee Shin Woo had begun hunting the 12 Generals ever since he was level 6. Lee Shin Woo explained that he had acquired the Heaven Defying General title himself, and after explaining his achievements, the group had no choice but to acknowledge it.
Higher level foes were stronger than you; that was a basic principle in this world. Yet, Lee Shin Woo had ignored that basic principle, so there was no title that fit him better than Heaven Defying!
“But I heard the Emperor appoints the 12 Generals himself? I heard the Emperor could bolster the 12 Generals’ ranks by appointing candidates.”
“I believe it’s a type of darkness magic that uses the source of darkness. He forcibly bestows the title onto them, which strengthens their karma. That’s how he makes them even stronger. However, there’s a limit to this as well.”
Seira briefly explained how the 12 Generals were appointed (the Magic Emperor used his own magic to appoint his own 12 Generals. In other words, he couldn’t bolster the 12 Generals’ ranks as much as he wanted) and then continued onto the main topic.
“Normally, level 7 or level 8 individuals don’t come out of thin air. The reason the heroes here are so powerful is because they were picked based on their inherent talent. And the fact that so many of your subordinates are level 7 or higher… is something that even I cannot explain, though it likely has something to do with your ability, Lee Shin Woo.”
“So? There’s no one like that in the capital?”
“There should be some level 7s in the capital, but I’m absolutely sure that there aren’t any level 8s there. If they had other level 8s, then there wouldn’t have been any level 7 Generals in the first place.”
That made sense. Since the 12 Generals were the Empire’s twelve strongest. Seira continued on.
“Those level 7s are weaker than the original 12 Generals, so even if they were to replace them, they would ultimately be much weaker than the generals you’ve killed thus far. In other words, they aren’t a threat.”
“There’s a chance that the 12 General candidates grew… Ah, never mind.”
The only reason Metafel Rerdan was able to grow was because he was an Elite Ghoul with the ability to eat others. That, as well as other miracles intertwined, allowing him to reach level 8, but the chance that that would happen to the others was extremely low.
“We only need to worry about the level 8 12 Generals. The others aren’t worth talking about, so you can just ignore them.”
“I see. First, the Archmage survived…”
“I’m not sure what Seagald’s position is, but I do know that at that moment, he’s not on the Emperor’s side. If that’s the case, then there’s only one person left. The last of the Empire’s Four Heavenly Commanders, the Heaven Sundering General, Leofield Von Tariman.”
Dana murmured. Lee Shin Woo furrowed his brow, as he felt like he’d heard that name before… He remembered. It was from a memory fragment he gained long ago.
“The owner of the first memories I absorbed… In other words, a level 1 skeleton learned spearmanship from Leofield.”
“That sounds right. Since he created the spearmanship that the army uses. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire army uses his spearmanship.”
Technically, he had learned the basics of how to fight from Leofield. Lee Shin Woo grinned at the strange connection, but Dana sported a serious expression and said.
“But his own spearmanship is far greater than the soldiers’, Hero.”
Was she scared just remembering him? Dana was shaking.
“He specializes in mass murder and was monstrous enough to be able to overwhelm the Annihilation Flame Sword God in a one-on-one confrontation. He’s definitely human, but he’s big enough that he makes you wonder whether he has Giants’ blood mixed in his veins or not. …And this is the most important part. He’s a complete musclehead, so you can’t reason with him. He might even be dumber than most undead.”
“Dana, you only compare two things when they’re somewhat similar. That man doesn’t even have a brain. He doesn’t listen to anyone aside from the Emperor… He’s just a combat machine.”
“But he’s still one of the Four Heavenly Commanders, huh.”
“Since he’s extremely strong. His spearmanship, which is reinforced by his almost fully mastered wind element, can cut through anything. The other Four Heavenly Commanders avoided fighting him head-on. If I had to pick one person in the Empire who’s mastered martial arts, then I’d have to pick between Seagald Von Retadane and Leofield Von Tariman… But I’d ultimately pick Leofield.”
“You must be wary of this man. He’s one of the few people that can ruin your plans with just pure strength alone.”
Seira and Dana were in agreement and voiced their concerns regarding the last of the Four Heavenly Commanders. However, Lee Shin Woo just shrugged his shoulders after listening to them.
“I feel like I’ll be able to kill him quite easily.”
“Avoid fighting him head-on at all costs! I know how great your combat skills and your other abilities are, but you cannot beat him in close combat, Hero! You should instead attack him from a distance; throw those exploding weapons at him. No, he might just cut through those explosions…”
“I don’t think that’s the issue here… It’s fine. Just keep explaining the capital’s forces and its facilities.”
Dana stared at Lee Shin Woo as if she were worried about him, but the other women beside her, including Seira, looked at her in displeasure, so she was forced to back off immediately.
Lee Shin Woo was more afraid of this situation than the Heaven Sundering General. But he didn’t say anything so he could make it out of this alive.