Chapter 6: First Death


 

“As the level goes up, I feel like you are getting better, but it’s not all-powerful, you know.
Hmm…”

 

Because she had such a serious face, I just entrusted my body and focused on [ Perception ].

 

‘Okay, clear.’

 

I confirmed that there were no enemies within a radius of at least 10 meters.

 

Only then did I recall the status window, thinking about claiming the level-up rewards.

 

Skeleton Soldier January – Lv.2

Strength: 3  Agility: 2  Stamina: 6/7  Intelligence: 24
Mana: 6  Resistance: 0  Perception: 15  Recovery: 1
Traits: Calm, Protection, Steal, 99 Lives
Skills: Strike, Stealth, Dagger Throw, Acid Spray
Equipment: Roughly trimmed wooden club
Stats: 3

 

With each level up, each stat increases by 3 points.
You can’t invest in the same stat all at once; you must choose three different ones.

 

‘Hmm…
I can raise Resistance later.
My mana recovery is too slow, should I increase that? No…
it’ll be faster to level up for now, so no need.’

 

In the end, I chose Strength, Agility, and Mana as a safe option.

 

Strength: 6 (+3)
Agility: 5 (+3)
Mana: 9 (+3)

 

A shiver ran through my veins as I raised my stats.
The feeling of electricity coursing through my body was exhilarating.

 

‘Ah, I finally feel alive.’

 

No matter when I experienced this feeling of rising in rank, it was always thrilling.

 

‘This is like a drug.’

 

“Aha, did I raise the stats of the summons? Or do they automatically choose? Well, anyway, I’m glad.
I have issues in decision-making, and it takes me forever to decide, hehe.”

 

Her fluffy laughter was as adorable as a puppy, making me want to pat her head.
Somehow, she seemed like a child who wanted to be pampered.
However, I was a monster, so I wouldn’t do such a thing.

 

“Phew…
I need to stay focused.
January probably understood my stats through [Perception], right? The slime from earlier, I mean…”

 

“Tttt-Tik!”

 

“Alright, then if we encounter such situations in the future, please hold my hand.
I’ll leave immediately.”

 

I nodded at her words.

 

“Aww, you’re so clever, January.
So cute, I could die.”

 

Rubbing my jawbone with her hand, she said softly, “Let’s go.”

 

Fortunately, it didn’t take long before we arrived at the lakeside.
We found a concealed spot and observed our surroundings.

 

“How is it, January? Is there anything we should be careful of?”

 

It seemed that her trust in my [Perception] had increased quite a bit since the encounter with the slime.
I closed my eyes and focused on the waves of sensation, but there was nothing particularly unusual, so I lowered my head slightly.

 

“Hmm…
but touching that thing seems a bit risky, doesn’t it?”

 

Among the bushes, a group of goblins was camping by the lakeside, about 50 meters away, chattering among themselves.

 

They had built small makeshift huts and there were traces of a recently extinguished fire.
There were approximately twenty goblins in total.


 

They were not much different from the three goblins we had first encountered, both in size and their shabby equipment.

 

However…

 

‘I mustn’t confront them head-on.’

 

Every goblin possesses the characteristic of having increased abilities when gathered together.
Of course, there was a limit to the range of this effect, but with about twenty of them, there should be at least a 10% increase in their overall abilities.

 

‘There’s no need to rush in.’

 

Of course, Yeon Hee wouldn’t think about a direct confrontation.
She was probably trying to gauge the situation and find a way to strike and retreat.

 

Soon, she made a signal with her chin, and cautiously, we returned to the outskirts to scout for other prey.
In any case, the goblins were still circling at a certain distance along the lakeside.

 

And before long, we encountered the goblin group again.

 

This time, there were five goblins on the move, and as befits the ruling race of this dungeon, despite being in an open area of the dungeon, they showed no hesitation in their steps.

 

Yeon Hee hesitated for a moment, touching her chin.

 

‘How to take the first attack is an important matter.’

 

The best option would be to attack simultaneously, just like last time, but I would have to risk being surrounded by them after striking.

 

‘…….’

 

‘…What is she hesitating for? I hope she’s not worried that her summon will hurt.’

 

After a while, she nodded her head and whispered to me.

 

(Let’s try it again like last time.
This time, let’s use the skill you obtained from the slime.)

 

I nodded back.

 

‘That’s right – she shouldn’t give unnecessarily affection to a summoned beast.’

 

Although, from my perspective as a summoned creature, I no longer have a beating heart, but most of her battles were originally like that.

 

The relentless movements and tenacity of these death-defying summoned beasts, her high-level mental strength to control so many of them, and the unbelievable amount of mana needed for constant re-summoning—these were all reasons why she was hailed as a genius, and the benefits her team gained were immeasurable.

 

‘Let’s go…’

 

– Whoosh…

 

Mana: 7/9 (-2)

 

The action was commenced.

 

The plan followed the same order as before, but there was one difference: the goblins were on the move this time.

 

‘Let’s take out the one at the back first; it will create more confusion.’

 

Gripping the last remaining club, which was concealed along with me, I tightly held it.
The acidic liquid was already bubbling in my mouth, like lava.

 

I didn’t know how a skeleton could gather acidic liquid in its mouth, but in this twisted world, finding something normal was not easy.

 

– Kulungkulung…

 

I spewed the acid into the face of the goblin at the back.

 

– Kiieeek!

 


The acid burned his face, and while he was trying to wipe it off, I immediately struck the face of the fourth goblin with the club.

 

– Whack!

 

– Kkeukreuk?!

 

At the same time, an arrow flew and penetrated the temple of the largest goblin at the front.

 

With goblin number 5 still rolling around on the floor after getting hit by my acid.
The fourth one, whose nose had been split precisely by my club.
And the first goblin, killed instantly by Yeon Hee’s arrow.

 

Now, there were only two goblins left capable of fighting, and they were already attacking me.

 

I hunched down close to the ground and fiercely scattered sand toward the goblins.
However, the sand only caused a small cloud, and I was quickly surrounded by the two goblins without achieving any significant effect.

 

‘Tch! I have nothing but bones, so even sand won’t properly stick!’

 

– Whack!

 

‘Argh!’

 

Though my agility might be slightly higher than goblins’, it wasn’t enough to mimic their movements.
They were living creatures with functioning bodies, unlike me, who could only make creaking noises without a proper range of motion, so there was no way I could effectively defend against their attacks.

 

Stamina: 6/7 (-1)

 

Starting with one point shaved off by the club, I endured a barrage of attacks from the two goblins.

 

Stamina: 4/7 (-3)

 

However, amidst the onslaught, I kept using [Strike] repeatedly to sever the throats of goblin numbers four and five.

 

– Thud-thud!

 

– Kerruk!

 

– Thud-thud!

 

– Kahahahaha!

 

The two goblins that were attacking me were intercepted by arrows one by one when I had 2 Stamina remaining.

 

‘Certainly, the hit rate after the first shot is a bit low.’

 

While the arrows she shot missed their vital spots, they only served to enrage the goblins even more.

 

– Kyaah-!

 

– Thud-thud[-thud!

 

– Thud! Poof-!

 

The relentless arrows eventually made the goblins buckle to their knees.

 

Stamina: 1 (-6)

 

‘Argh! Am I going to die at the hands of goblins? Damn it, even if I’m going to die, let me land one more hit!’

 

– Bang! Bang! Bang!

 

[Strike] [Strike] [Strike]

 

– You have defeated a goblin.
– You have defeated a goblin…
– You have received assistance in defeating a goblin…


– Your level has increased…

 

Even while facing the encroaching wave of darkness after confirming the two kills and one assist, I gritted my teeth and endured it.

 

Due to the relentless attacks from the goblins that stuck to me as fiercely as I did to them, my stamina finally fell to zero.

 

Stamina: 0 (-7)

 

Skeleton Soldier January has been defeated.

 

‘Defeated…
It doesn’t even say I died…’

 

Death was not permitted for someone who was already dead.

 

And…

 

“January…!!”

 

She ran towards me.

 

How shiny and beautiful her bobbed hair in the sky was, it was very beautiful as the last picture I saw before I died.

 

‘Still, it’s much better than the last time I died.
Kick…’

 

The trait [99 Lives] is activated.

 

* * *

 

………

 

“Ttt-Tik!”

 

‘Hmm,’ my body could move.

 

– Creak…

 

‘Here it is…
that darn place again.’

 

The place where I spent countless eternities.

 

I couldn’t see anything in front of me, but I could sense it instinctively.
I quickly rose from my crouched position and pushed my foot in a single direction, following my instincts.

 

– Ting!

 

Skeleton Soldier January – Lv.3

Strength: 6  Agility: 5  Stamina: 7  Intelligence: 24
Mana: 9 Resistance: 0 Perception: 15 Recovery: 1
Traits: Calm, Protection, Steal, 98 Lives
Skills: Strike, Stealth, Dagger Throw, Acid Spray
Equipment: Old and worn wooden club
Stats: 3

 

‘One life is gone.’

 

With that observation, only one thought came to my mind.

 

‘What a waste…’

 

Even for someone who had lived their entire life with only one life, there were indescribable emotions at the thought of possessing so many as 98 lives.

 

‘I still feel like it’s not enough, even with 98 lives.
It’s too early to be feeling this way.’

 

I must not hesitate at all when it comes to protecting her.

 


-Thud- Clang- Clang-

 

After moving for a while, the enormous door greeted me once again.

 

“Ttt-Tik”

 

‘Is this the start of waiting again?’

 

Since this was something I would have to get used to, I sat down and focused on the status window.

 

‘I should invest in strength and agility for the time being.
It might be better to put one point in stamina too.’

 

If my stamina had been three points higher than it was now, I would probably have had a higher chance of surviving.

 

Strength: 9 (+3)  Agility: 8 (+3)  Stamina: 10 (+3)

 

‘Now I’m close to the lowest ability level of F-rank.’

 

Of course, if I was a human, I would be treated well no matter what guild I entered, because even with such a low stat, I have [Perception].

 

With my greatly increased ability scores on the status window, I nodded, stood up, and checked my body’s movements.

 

I lightly threw punches.

 

– Creak-

 

I attempted a kick.

 

– Thud-

 

I even tried a swift low tackle.

 

-Tadadadak-

 

It was still a complete mess.

 

‘I feel like my body has become a bit more flexible?’

 

A change so minuscule that it wouldn’t be noticed without the [ Perception ].
But even that small improvement was enough to boost my morale.

 

‘As my level goes up, my movements will improve.’

 

Even if it was just a placebo effect, I had to believe that and put in the effort.

 

While training with my still-unfit body, I heard the familiar melody of a spell being cast, followed by the sound of the door slowly opening.

 

– Kii-eek-

 

But then, at that moment, the door suddenly flung wide open, swallowing me once again.

 

* * *

 

“January – ah! Hiing…”

 

‘It’s so dazzling…
Why do I feel this way when I don’t even have eyes?’

 

Summoned back into her old room, she embraced me as she clung to me with tears in her eyes.

 

‘So much affection for the summon…’

 

It might be because it was the first time.
Would she eventually change like before, becoming colder as the numbers increase and her summoned creatures keep dying?

 

It was still an unknown matter.

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