Chapter 265: Twins
Sila and Dark Self attacked violently and swiftly. They could feel the combination of their qi and psychic power that was both bizarre and powerful. Even though the numerical value of their special points stayed the same, its quality was sublimated and couldn’t be compared to before.
While Goddess’ Resonance was the most mysterious dark art among the four dark arts of the Hell’s Gate Islands, Flaming Cloud Qi was the most bizarre.
Each Demon God had mastered Flaming Cloud Qi in a different way. That was the reason why there were no standards that could be used to predict how the successor would change after mastering the art, not to mention how such an abrupt increase in power could easily cause the practitioner to become drunk with their own power.
Thus, the Demons Gods over the generations have varied; some became Gods, some turned out to be Demons, and some became both a Demon and a God. Even though the power in each generation originated from the same art, they were hardly similar. It was because of this that a teacher couldn’t directly transmit Flaming Cloud Qi to their disciple.
Although there were four parts to learn—Foundation, Cloud, Flame, and Nirvana—just mastering three of them already meant succeeding the art since the last part was about burning one’s inner force for the sake of obtaining stronger, purer inner force. The Nirvana Part was a dark art that allowed the user to obtain unlimited power, coming with the risk of the user being burnt to death. Still, the so-called ‘unlimited power’ was merely a fantasy invented by people. A human’s body was ultimately a small vessel that couldn’t contain all of the water in an ocean. Thinking that bottomless power can be acquired only leads to a hopeless death.
Profound practitioners usually built up their inner force after tempering their bodies so that they could handle the increase in power. It was natural that an increase in capacity meant getting stronger. However, the Flame Part was about purifying the user’s inner force by melting it down. With purified inner force, not only was its quality and effectiveness increased, but the user would also have an easier time controlling it. Sila’s one lap of qi circulation right now could generate even more power than if he did ten laps before mastering the Flame Part.
Sila had never learned proper swordsmanship or studied in a sword dojo, so his use of the sword was mainly about a concept, similar to how he relied on Formless Martial God—it wasn’t about following a certain set of movements. Therefore, his swordplay was acrobatic. Without any patterns, he moved like a cloud in the wind.
Aurora had a hard time keeping up with Sila’s wild movements. She used all her orbs to create seven shields, each with seven layers of protection.
On the other hand, Sila only had the Crystal Divine Sword in his hand, yet his entire body was more lethal than any weapon. Each of his basic movements was replaced by Five-Attributed Cloud Qi’s single attribute. With the Flame Part, he could now freely use Five-Attributed Cloud Qi with much more ease. This made Aurora wary against Sila’s punches and kicks as well as his sword.
Sila’s movements in general had improved greatly. Not only could he roam free in the air, but he could also constantly support his body with qi. His body was as light as a feather. He could rotate to the left, leap to the right, all with only his instincts.
His speed was so fast that Aurora’s illusion-creating speed failed to keep up.
Sila brandished the sword using his right hand while materializing sword waves with his left fingers and precisely hitting Aurora’s seven orbs, sending them flying. Suddenly, Aurora felt like her body was tied to the orbs and was pulled toward them. It was at that moment that Sila drew his sword back and grasped it with both hands, black flames igniting on the blade.
Heaven’s Dismissal — Seventh Sword Style, Unforeseen Dive.
The black flames transformed into a massive amount of blade energy covering the Crystal Divine Sword, though its appearance looked thin and weak. Sila swung it downward at Aurora.
Despite its appearance, Aurora didn’t dare to take it lightly. She unleashed more magic power to strengthen the illusory shield. All of the shields combined into one with forty-nine layers, exerting powerful defensive power.
“Seven orbs, one truth! Dragon Shield of Authority!”
Shatter—! Shatter—!! Shatter—!!!
The sound of a shield layer breaking rang out over and over. Sila’s qi blade dived down and exerted even greater pressure. The blade became increasingly bigger, fiercer, and faster with each layer it broke apart.
In just a single breath, the blade had broken through all of the layers and slice down Aurora’s body, splitting it open but not quite reaching the heart. If it weren’t for her sturdy dragon scales taking the brunt of the attack, her body would have been split in two.
Apparently, Sila’s seventh sword style wasn’t an attack that one should block. It was a move that became stronger by absorbing the opponent’s defense to work against them.
After delivering his strike, Sila swiftly stored his sword and pressed his fingers on Aurora’s wounds, sending his qi inside to stiffen her movements. His qi kept her alive, but it acted like several tiny blades flowing through her veins.
Dual Overwhelming Attributes — Metal splits Wood, Surging Strike.
Originally, Surging Strike was a move that sent his power through an object or an opponent and damaged them from within. This time though, Sila adjusted the ratio of his power, adding more wood element while reducing the metal element. As a result, he had finer control over his power inside Aurora’s body. He could prolong her pain for as long as he wished, as her life now laid in his hands.
Aurora tried to explode her magic power from the inside, but Sila—who had high mastery over his power—could suppress her action by damaging her acupoints. His Yizichan was especially effective at such a close range.
These were Sila’s strong suits: melee combat, yizichan, and arts that subdue his opponents. Aurora couldn’t bring out her power, thus she was no longer his match.
While Sila relied on various techniques to subdue Aurora’s life in his palm, Dark Self’s method was far simpler.
Dark Self slowly approached the Dragon of Darkness with utmost calm while dragging the Crystal Demonic Sword on the ground. Sila released Dark Self while the three pellets were still active, so the power from the pellets was split among the two, allowing them to show their full might with reduced risks.
Tiamat stared at Dark Self while emitting more of her magic power. She hatched twenty dragon eggs in one go. Each of the baby dragons’ appearances was strange and unfamiliar. Most of them were clearly rare dragons that both Sila and Dark Self had never encountered.
“Chaos Creation.” Tiamat released black mist from her scales to stimulate the growth of the baby dragons. The intensity of magic power emitting from each dragon wasn’t at a level that could be overlooked, yet Dark Self’s steps were as casual as before. He didn’t even attempt to take a battle stance.
“You bastard...” Tiamat felt like she was being looked down upon. “Kill him!!”
All of the dragons disappeared, including Tiamat. Dark Self speculated that this phenomenon was achieved due to one of the mini dragons’ Dragon Domain. Tiamat was indeed a fearsome opponent as she alone could exert several powers from different dragons. Still, it was such a pointless move against Dark Self, who had already come up with a countermeasure.
Dual Overwhelming Attributes — Fire melts Metal, Crushing Sky.
The gravity suddenly intensified as cracking sounds, along with the sounds of objects heavily hitting against the ground, could be heard. Tiamat reappeared again next to Dark Self with her knees on the ground, surrounded by her nearly-dead mini dragons.
“Their attacks are commendable, but their defense is weak. Your magic is like an illusion; a cheap trick that only works on second-rated beings,” Dark Self scoffed with an apathetic tone.
Tiamat gritted her teeth as the club in her hand divided into three parts. However, before she could perform any kind of attack, Dark Self kicked her signature weapon with Instant Stomp, sending it flying into the sky. He then simply observed her as if waiting for her to make the next move.
“Chaos Dragon Rebirth Strike!” Tiamat’s body transformed into a cloud of black smoke, flowing toward Dark Self like a wraith. This was her ultimate move that would turn the remainder of her health points and magic power into an illusory attack that couldn’t be blocked or evaded.
“An illusion again? In the end, it’s just an old drink in new packaging. If you have nothing more, just die.” Dark Self lifted his hand and rammed her face.
Racial Skill — Moon Reflecting Mirror.
Slime race skills were designed to slay dragons. If used right, no dragon would stand a chance.
Tiamat’s illusory body was hit and flew in the direction where Sila was subduing Aurora. Her black smoke form was canceled and she was returned to her human form.
Heaven’s Dismissal — Fifth Sword Style, Nine Ghost Strikes.
Dark Self drew the Crystal Demonic Sword to cut the space, generating nine short explosions in the blink of an eye. The shockwave from the explosions disturbed both Aurora and Tiamat’s magic power.
Sila and Dark Self seized the moment with their profound connection that was greater than any bond. They inhaled at the exact same time, and exhaled in identical synchronization.
Triple Attributes — Five-Attributed Cloud Qi’s Ultimate Move, Judgement of the Grim Reaper.
Sila’s right hand was dyed black from his fingers to his wrist. The same could be said for Dark Self. They pulled the power of the fire element to supplement the earth element, then used the latter to further strengthen the metal element. The earth element was the one they had the greatest affinity with, while fire and metal were directly next to it. With three elements combined into one move, their right hands possessed unimaginable strength.
The move was simple, because only the simplest form of movement could exert the most power from the three attributes. Sila and Dark Self’s right hands penetrated the dragons’ chests and grasped their hearts like picking up oranges from a box. The two slowly beating hearts were revealed on their palms after they pulled back.
The two hearts were crushed at the same time without a millisecond of error. Finally, after a long fight, the two dragons slowly turned to dust, starting from the holes in their chests. Meanwhile, Sila and Dark Self had returned to one entity.
“...You will regret your actions,” Aurora muttered while Tiamat turned her head away, refusing to look at him.
The two bodies eventually disappeared. The nostalgic system announcement rang out in Sila’s head.
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the quest: Decolonize the Slime Kingdom. From now on, when a member of the dragon race is killed by a member of the slime race, their rank will be demoted by one.
The two dragons were the result of the Dragon Soul skill belonging to the Chaos Emperor Dragon. They don’t give any experience points, money, or items.
All of the Slime Seals have been destroyed. All the slimes on the Island of Beginnings are finally free from their imprisonment.
You are the only player involved in the slaying of the eight dragons. You have received special rewards!
You have acquired the Slime’s Absolute Power. You can summon and command any slime, though their rank cannot be above Marquis Rank.
You have acquired the Slime’s Record.
You have evolved from Orange Slime to Slime Twin, which is the same evolutionary level as the Slime King.
Your racial skill, Way of Slime, has been sealed. Please contact the Slime King for more information.
The remains of the two dragons were two glowing balls that flew out prior to transforming into two dragon statues standing next to the entrance. They seemed to symbolize the ones who protected this sacred place.
The book with empty pages, the Dragon’s Record, flew from the podium into Sila’s hand. Its cover changed from the illustration of a dragon to two identical slimes, with appearances like steam buns. Their cheeks were touching each other. One of them showed a smile while the other looked angry.
The Slime’s Absolute Power materialized itself in front of Sila. It had the appearance of a small trophy cup that could easily be held with one hand.
Sila stored the Slime’s Absolute Power in his system window and opened the Slime’s Record. He then found that only the first three pages were recorded while the rest were empty. Each of the three pages contained pictures of slimes using Formless Soldier, Orbiting Cosmos, and Moon Reflecting Mirror respectively.
The vision around Sila became hazy as the light in the room gradually grew dimmer. It seemed the two dragons had cast some strong illusion spell on this place and it was losing its effect due to their demise. The room became a vast room with nothing inside. It was quite dark as the only source of light was the one coming through the entrance. The light made him realize there were some letters engraved on one of the walls.
Sila lit a fire on his palm. It shone brightly like a second sun.
Thinking back to the previous fight, Sila couldn’t help but become excited by his success with the Flame Part. Only the Nirvana Part was left for him to learn. It was said to be the part that only the first generation Demon God could master, so the difficulty must be unfathomable. Still, if he mastered it, his strength would rival those supreme experts. He would become the youngest supreme expert in history.
Sila brought himself to the wall, inspecting the letters and illustrations engraved on it. Mystified, these inscriptions seemed to be done by someone’s powerful Yizichan. The content seemed to be about the history of the dragon race and the Dragon Kingdom.
Sila wasn’t interested and was about to exit. However, his eyes stumbled on pictures of slimes. In the end, his curiosity won over and he stayed behind. He sent messages to Burapha and Vata, telling them to withdraw first, and that he would follow soon.
“...In ancient times when there existed only one world, in order to make his ultimate wish into reality, the Creation God brought a group of selected humans into the realm of monsters. The Creation God’s objective was to choose a suitable person to hold onto the Gem of Hope. However, his ultimate wish had yet to be completed after thousands of years. Not a single human was worthy.”
Sila guessed that Monster Soul’s history was based on an actual timeline of the game. The illustration of humans being brought to the world full of monsters must represent the closed beta when the Creation God—who Sila easily identified as Joshua—invited several powerhouses to test the game. Honestly speaking, Joshua seemed to play several roles in the game. Other than that, Sila had no idea what Joshua’s ultimate wish was, or what purpose the Gem of Hope served.
“...Some humans befriended monsters, and that completely changed the balance of the world. With humanity’s immeasurable potential, some monster races became stronger while some went extinct. Nevertheless, the most promising humans were none other than a certain pair of twins. One of them chose to become a slime while the other chose to become a dragon. With their combined forces, the slime and dragon races became the two strongest, unequaled races.”
Sila tilted his head, wondering. “Slimes and dragons used to be comrades?”
“...The twins came from the same origin. The foundation of their powers was the Marvelous Bible, originating from the Far East. The starting point was the same, but there were more potential endpoints than there were stars in the sky.
“The Tiger God, Hu Xian, who later became the Chaos Emperor Dragon, possessed unmatched talent and had never lost. He developed his family art into his Chaos Devourer Art, a dark art which consumed his opponent’s inner force as nutrients and strengthened his own.
“The Oceanic Tiger, Hu Hai, who reigned over all slimes as their greatest Slime Emperor, possessed a broad-minded and charming personality. He developed the family art into his Encompassing Ocean Art, the supreme art that helped him master his opponent’s profound arts as easily as raising his hand. He was the embodiment of world-wide profound arts.
“With the two peerless twin brothers joining forces, it was natural that they would rule over the world. No one ever dared to oppose them.”
Reading up to this, Sila stopped to think. If the Slime Emperor in this story was the Slime King of today, that meant his name was Hu Hai. As for the Chaos Emperor Dragon, this was the first time Sila had ever heard of his title or his name. Still, he didn’t understand. He was sure that the top position of the dragon race belonged to Infernee, the Dragon Empress.
The illustrations and letters after the aforementioned parts were damaged and became unreadable. Sila wasn’t sure if they were deliberately damaged or if they had simply been affected by nearby battles. The last part was the only legible part left.
“...The Chaos Emperor Dragon became stronger with every day that passed. He and his dragon army marched to every corner of the world and waged the greatest war in history. Alas, he seemed to be consumed by his own power and his craziness showed no sign of stopping. Even the humans and dragons, his closest comrades, started to fear of him.
“In the meantime, the Slime Emperor rebelled against his older brother. He prepared an army to oppose the dragon army. However, his actions led to even greater doom. In order to stand a chance against the matchless Chaos Emperor Dragon, the Slime Emperor expanded his territory far and wide, stealing profound arts from various powerhouses. His actions eventually led to disdain from all races.
“In the end, it became a three-way war between the slimes, the dragons, and all of the other races.”
The story seemed to jump ahead too much for Sila. He didn’t understand why the dragon army was suddenly formed, or why the Slime Emperor had to wage war against dragons despite their long history as allies.
“...Ultimately, the Slime Emperor formed a powerful seal that connected his soul to his brother’s, intending to seal himself along with his brother. However, the Chaos Emperor Dragon possessed strength far greater than what anyone could imagine. In order to seal him alone, the entire Slime Kingdom was sealed together with him. When the seal is broken...” Sila could only read up to this sentence. The remaining letters were destroyed.
“...The Chaos Emperor Dragon shall return.”
A familiar voice rang out from below. Sila shuddered as he couldn’t sense at all that there was someone else nearby. He searched for the owner and found a missing stone plate in the middle of the room, revealing a staircase leading underground. He raised his hand to let the fire shine toward the lower floor, yet all he could see was a bottomless abyss.
The voice rang out again. Similar to the previous time, the voice was so close as if the owner was right next to Sila. “You could win against my Dragon Souls. You’re not half bad.”
“Your Majesty?” Sila replied to the sound which belonged to the Slime King, though he was bewildered by the king’s sudden appearance.
“Your guess is close... but I’m not Hu Hai. Try again, kid.”.
Sila had a hard time swallowing his saliva. He shifted his gaze to the inscriptions.
“Could you be... the Chaos Emperor Dragon... Hu Xian?”
A silent breeze of wind was the only response to Sila’s question. He noticed it too late, but this place was too quiet and too peaceful. The moment the two dragons of light and darkness died, it wouldn’t be weird if all of the other dragons had rushed to gather here. However, they hadn’t done anything of the sort. It was as if, without the two dragons’ protection, none of the dragons would dare to step into this sanctum.
“What is your name?”
“Sila? I have never heard of you. Do you belong to a dojo?”
Hu Xian, the Chaos Emperor Dragon, was rather aloof and showed no sign of aggression. It contradicted the description of him written on the wall.
“I’m the Flaming Cloud Dojo’s main disciple, sir.”
“Hm? Flaming Cloud Dojo’s main disciple? Isn’t that Mora?”
“Teacher Mora is my master, sir.” Sila was surprised to know that Hu Xian knew his teacher.
Hu Xian fell into a short silence. “Is that so? Has it been that long? Excuse me... kid. Can you help me deliver a message to Hu Hai... um, I mean your Slime Emperor? You don’t have to understand it, but you must pass every word I’m about to say without missing half a character to him. If you want a reward, just ask for it from Hu Hai. Tell him I want to give you my old item.”
“The reward is unnecessary, sir. It’s just...” Sila’s words were interrupted by Hu Xian. He didn’t seem to care about what Sila wanted to say.
“Joshua broke a promise he made with me. Someone is practicing my Grand Deity’s Breathing. I can sense it. Even though it seemed peerless, that wasn’t a profound art designed for combat. Stop that person before they reach the last stage, otherwise, the consequences will be irreversible.”
Sila memorized the message in its entirety. Even though he didn’t quite understand, he intended to complete the task entrusted to him and pass the message to the Slime King without forgetting a single letter.
“Tell that to Hu Hai, and he will take care of the rest. You may leave,” Hu Xian's words implied he was driving Sila away.
Although Sila still had some questions he wanted to ask, he decided to leave. He activated his black card and teleported himself to his mansion before exiting and returning to Belacia City. It was upon his return to the city that he heard some unbelievable news.
Monster Soul Online.A virtual reality MMORPG known primarily for one thing: there are no rules. It is a lawless world where humans can shed the masks they wear and unleash the cruel beasts inside. It is in this very world that our story takes place.After our protagonist, Sila, is defeated in a match that was in no way fair, he is forced to venture into this world after his master goes missing. The only clue? His opponent from the duel, Montra, says that he kidnapped Sila's master. Outside of the game, they are but two young men in a vast world filled with many kinds of people. Inside Monster Soul, however, Montra reigns supreme as the Magic Emperor, one of the top four players. Sila, on the other hand, is just starting out, and he has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to get answers from Montra.But not everything is as it seems in this world, and what starts off as a simple journey to find his missing teacher turns into a quest of previously unpredictable proportions. Sila uncovers a world beneath the reality he thought he knew, filled with martial artists capable of incredible feats. From the legendary Tiger God to the peerless Sword Prodigy, Sila will learn about and even meet some of these figures that other martial artists both revere and fear. His quest will push him to his limits and bring out both the best and worst parts of his inner self. His light and his darkness. Whether he makes it out while retaining some part of his original personality or not, only time will tell.
By the way, my editor, Chrysis, helped me come up with a new synopsis. Do you find it become more interesting? I wonder whether it is too long or not.Monster Soul Online.A virtual reality MMORPG known primarily for one thing: there are no rules. It is a lawless world where humans can shed the masks they wear and unleash the cruel beasts inside. It is in this very world that our story takes place.After our protagonist, Sila, is defeated in a match that was in no way fair, he is forced to venture into this world after his master goes missing. The only clue? His opponent from the duel, Montra, says that he kidnapped Sila's master. Outside of the game, they are but two young men in a vast world filled with many kinds of people. Inside Monster Soul, however, Montra reigns supreme as the Magic Emperor, one of the top four players. Sila, on the other hand, is just starting out, and he has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to get answers from Montra.But not everything is as it seems in this world, and what starts off as a simple journey to find his missing teacher turns into a quest of previously unpredictable proportions. Sila uncovers a world beneath the reality he thought he knew, filled with martial artists capable of incredible feats. From the legendary Tiger God to the peerless Sword Prodigy, Sila will learn about and even meet some of these figures that other martial artists both revere and fear. His quest will push him to his limits and bring out both the best and worst parts of his inner self. His light and his darkness. Whether he makes it out while retaining some part of his original personality or not, only time will tell.
Follow a story of Sila, a young martial artist who has been raised in a dojo, learning nothing but muscle-building and fight. His life mostly consists of two things: his teacher and his dojo.One day, however, he lost both of the above. As the strongest player in the VR game Monster Soul Online has information he needs, he decides to jump into the lawless world full of unknown. Will the journey to find his missing teacher be as simple as it is though?There are dragons, transforming into a monster, wuxia assassins, a mad scientist, a deceased swordmaster appearing in the game, demons breakout, etc. What's not to love about them?
Chapter 266: The Master of Swords
Revin was sitting under the same tree, similar to the first duel he made with Kraizer that was accidentally prevented by Burapha. He was the type who liked to wait before the match took place. He liked to take his time doing image training and forming a strategy in advance.
Kraizer was late last time. However, he was the one who issued the challenge this time, so Revin believed it would be different. He was excited. In just a few minutes, he would be duelling the player holding the title Master of Swords.
His opponent soon arrived. The only clothing that could be seen on Kraizer’s slowly approaching form were his shoulder guard and his pants. His signature giant katana was on his back. Each of his steps were firm and resolute, as one would expect from a true expert.
Revin jumped to his feet as his magic power quickly evaporated the snow covering his clothing. The two swordsmen walked up to each other and stopped when the distance between them was two meters.
Just a millimeter more and it would be Kraizer’s attack range. The two of them were both specialists. Not only were they well aware of their range, but they could also read their opponent’s reach.
“You’re right on time today. How should we decide this?” Revin was the one starting the conversation.
“Three moves,” Kraizer swiftly replied, “We will take turns attacking each other. After the three strikes, it will count as my loss if you are still standing. You are free to have the title Master of Swords then.”
At first glance, this proposal seemed to be unfair for Kraizer. However, the one receiving the short end of the stick was actually Revin. Kraizer rarely had to attack more than three times against the same opponent in a duel. On the other hand, Revin’s Flame Phoenix Sword Art focused on fluidity—how each move connected to one another. If he was forced to stop between performing each move, his overall fighting ability would drop.
“Deal,” Revin instantly agreed to the terms, “Even so, the title Master of Swords will be pointless if I can’t kill you in three moves.”
Revin kept the Explosia Sword away and took a new sword out. It was a longsword with its blade so thin to the point of being almost transparent, resembling a dragonfly’s wing. Its sharpness wasn’t questionable but its durability seemed worrisome. It looked like it might just break once it clashed against Kraizer’s Heaven’s Sword of Punishment.
“Won’t you use your signature sword? I heard you are good with the Black Dragon Sword, though you didn’t use it last time. This time you have a new one yet again,” Kraizer asked as he unsheathed his katana that was as long as he was tall and held it with both hands.
“I’ve been trying many swords, and this one feels the most comfortable in my hands. Although it looks like this, it’s an A-grade sword, you know?”
Kraizer shifted his gaze to the pendant on Revin’s neck—the fraudulent item that Sila had warned him about. Witnessing Kraizer’s gaze, Revin removed it and tossed it inside his system window.
“I won’t use it even if I’m dying. Montra forbade me from using it against a player.”
Revin’s pendant would give him an overwhelming advantage. Kraizer wondered why he chose to abandon it.
“You probably wonder why. My answer is that it won’t be fun. Montra would say it’s related to the plan though.” Revin shrugged. “Oh, right. Who will make the first move?”
“You can start.” Kraizer took his battle stance by holding his katana tightly, directly pointing the tip toward the sky.
“In that case, I won’t hold back,” Revin replied as he slowly unleashed Triple Sky Energy. Flames gradually engulfed him and dyed his sword crystal orange. He then took action in an instant. Triple Sky Energy exploded and bestowed him with an abrupt boost in power. Orange sword energy scattered throughout the sky and covered Kraizer’s vision.
Flame Phoenix Sword Art — Baby Phoenix Leaves Home.
The Master of Swords circulated qi through his veins, causing his skin to glow white. His expression was that of an undisturbed monk, not panicking at all as the attack approached. He calmly waited for Revin’s move to reach its target while focusing on his reach. Soon, he flicked his wrist and hit Revin’s sword that came from a low altitude. The sword energy soon vanished as the exchange had ended.
Revin showed a smile on his face. “The baby phoenix just left its nest for the first time, so it can’t fly too high. I didn’t expect you to see through my feint. You are really great.”
Regarding Revin’s previous move, all of the sword energy he emitted was fake. The actual move was hidden under the snow but above the ground. Kraizer’s ankle would have already been severed had he failed to block it.
“Then, it’s my turn.” Kraizer raised his katana above his head. Qi, magic, and psychic power resonated and fused together in the blade, materializing a white giant blade that reached the clouds. He was among the very first players to attain the essence of qi. This ordinary-looking battle stance had been the foundation of his current reputation.
Kraizer swung his katana down in the simplest manner, yet Revin was aware that this simple strike had taken his evasive movements into account.
Revin drew his sword upward, sending sword waves to block Kraizer’s move while shifting his standing position. He barely avoided death as Kraizer’s katana struck the ground, cleaving it into two. Meanwhile, Revin’s sword energy had yet to stop flaring up. They left several small cuts on Kraizer’s arms.
“My bad, my bad. Count that as my second move. My body moved on instinct.”
“Dismissing every thought once wielding a sword. That’s a trait of a great swordsman. Well, back when I received your first move, the qi imbued in my katana also injured your ankle. Let’s call this my second move as well.”
Revin got to re-evaluate Kraizer’s character. It was as the Master of Swords said. When his first attack was blocked by Kraizer, the destructive force within the other man’s katana flared through the earth and injured his ankle. Revin didn’t know whether it was done deliberately or not, but he decided not to raise the point. In fact, it was the main reason why he had to block Kraizer’s attack. His swollen ankle would hinder any attempts he made to evade.
“In that case, that means each of us only has one move left. Since the two of us are damage dealers, let’s throw everything we’ve got at the same time. No more alternating between offense and defense.”
Kraizer didn’t reject Revin’s condition. Both Revin and he were indeed attackers. Even their defensive moves had dealt some damage to each other. Their wounds seemed negligible but they were, in fact, quite problematic.
Revin’s Flame Phoenix Sword Art specialized in high-speed movement, thus his footwork was extremely important. On the other hand, Kraizer’s swordsmanship required inhumane arm strength. Even though the injuries seemed small, they would lacerate if he exerted his power, and that would negatively affect the performance of his attack.
Both of them stood completely still, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Revin unleashed the full extent of Triple Sky Energy. The snow around him soon evaporated into vapor as his sword shone ever beautifully with clear orange particles surrounding it.
Kraizer wielded his katana with both hands while his qi circulation speed gradually increased. With his mastery regarding the essence of qi and the characteristic of his exclusive qi, his sword absorbed the power of the environment—be it grains of sand, air, ice shards, or water droplets—and fused with them. It was like his katana was the center of the elements, creating a surreal phenomenal of nature swirling and coiling around the blade.
Heaven’s Punishment — Nature’s Embrace.
It was Kraizer who took the initiative. It was rare for him to use this move—an invincible move that no player had ever survived. It was the reason why the title, Master of Swords, had never been held by anyone else.
Revin felt like he was surrounded by hostility in that instant. The environment suddenly became harmful to him. Snow winds were as sharp as qi waves. Water droplets became needles. Dust transformed into hidden weapons. Pebbles were flying around like metal objects. The earth shook as it refused to let him stand on it. Still, the power of nature wasn’t as terrifying as a certain katana.
Flame Phoenix Sword Art — Mournful Red Phoenix.
A gloomy light flashed in the depths of Revin’s eyes. His swordplay, which always moved so swiftly, became so slow. The same applied to his quick footwork that was glued to the ground as if he were chained. He moved only the upper part of his body to evade subtle harmful attacks caused by nature, barely dodging each time.
The blade that was as thin as a dragonfly’s wing intervened in Kraizer’s sword path. The two swordsmen’s faces were so close to each other. The aura emitting from Kraizer’s sword inflicted injuries on Revin, making him bleed and cough up blood. On the other hand, Revin’s sword heavily shook then broke apart.
In fact, Revin was aware that this was bound to happen. He took a step back while putting his arms up to cover his vital spots. His last attack was exactly the remnants of his broken sword. Each fragment was imbued with sharp aura, like a fierce storm made of blades. It was a close distance explosion.
Kraizer was going purely offensive so he couldn’t put his guard up in time. All he could do was clad his body with qi reinforcement.
The two bodies were pierced all over by the sword’s debris, with Kraizer having received more shards. Revin pulled a piece of shrapnel out of his hand and stared at his opponent with mixed feelings.
“The sword broke, meaning the holder lost. Nothing is more regretful than having to sacrifice a good sword. The title remains with you, Kraizer. The Master of Swords has to know how to take good care of their swords. It seems I’m only a common swordsman unworthy of this title.”
Kraizer pulled one of the debris out of his neck and pressed his hand on the wound. He then circulated qi to heal it. Still, the damage to his neck made him unable to say anything, at least for now.
Revin softly circulated Triple Sky Energy and waved his hands, collecting as many of remnants of his sword as he could. He held them with care before putting them back in his system window.
Some wounds on Kraizer were near his vital spots, so he had to focus on tending to his injuries. He was unable to stop Revin from walking away weakly.
Revin left the place, feeling disappointed that he had lost. He was one of the people who was crazy about swords. He even had a few dozen rare swords in real life and hundreds in the game.
Revin thought swords were like women; each of them had their own appeal and beauty. It was up to their partner to show off their charm to the public.
On the surface, one might say Revin was just a flirty guy with shallow thoughts. However, the truth was that his concept of beauty was rather deep. He could find every woman attractive because he always saw their good and beautiful side. He believed every woman had their own stunning side, like how every sword had their own uniqueness.
Revin opened his system window absentmindedly. He re-selected the Explosia Sword as his main weapon then sent a message to Montra. Based on the time, he was sure that their main plan should have been finished, assuming no errors had occurred.
“How about it? Is everything okay on your side?” Revin asked as Montra’s face appeared on his system window.
“There are some problems on Zazae’s side, but everything is going well. You should come back immediately,” Montra replied.
“Sure. I will go— Eh—?” Revin stuttered as his body collapsed, his face pointing to the sky. Every part of his body went numb, and even his magic power became chaotic.
With Revin’s system window being left open, Montra could see everything that was happening.
“Revin? What happened?” Montra frowned. It seemed Revin wanted to respond to his call, but he could hardly open his lips.
“It’s my art, Mister Montra. No need to worry. I will take good care of him in your place.” Asava appeared out of thin air and stood behind Revin, who was lying on the snowfield.
Revin tried to resist the paralysis, but his attempt was futile when Asava tapped on his shoulder and the electric current seemed to jolt him with that touch.
“Arghh!!!” Revin screamed in great agony. The pain he experienced in the game was supposed to be only a tenth. Even the pain he felt when his arm was cut off in the past paled in comparison to this shock.
Montra quickly calmed down and gave Revin instructions. “Revin, don’t put up a resistance. It’s poison. Use your flame power to detoxify it.”
Asava raised one brow and lowered the other. “You talk like you know my dark art, Mister Montra. I guess the Demon God really did betray us. Otherwise, even the people in the association shouldn’t know about our arts.”
The previous generation Wulin Lord, Mora’s teacher—who denounced Kimon and shut down their businesses—was wary of Kimon’s wrath and decided to write down all of what he knew about their dark arts. He then stored his notes within the Profound Library for future generations to know countermeasures against inheritors of the arts.
Montra had read the notes that the previous Wulin Lord left behind, so he knew parts of the abilities possessed by Kimon’s members. Even so, it wasn’t like he knew their full capabilities. There were some secrets that each Island Master only imparted to their successor.
Montra needed Revin to know what he was up against for his friend to have a higher chance of surviving. “Sage of the Six Disasters is a dark art that is a combination of six assassination techniques—poisons, hallucinations, infiltration, manipulation, killing, and underhanded arts. The Eminent Immortal is the most skilled hitman in the world since he is armed with various killing methods. I guess what he did to you is Blossoming Disaster, his poison art. The poison that he used seems to be the kind that amplifies your sense of pain.”
“Excellent, Mister Montra. You’re very knowledgeable,” Asava complimented Montra. There was not even a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice. “My proposal today will be direct and clear as the last one we gave you. Withdraw or die.”
“Don’t... submit to him, Montra... Your dream is... Argh!” Revin’s body twitched as blood trickled down from the corners of his eyes. He clenched his teeth, refusing to let out any sounds, despite the pain being the most intense he had ever felt.
“Please take your time to make a decision. I can wait. I’m not sure I can say the same about Revin though. Herbs and plants in this game are quite different from the real world. I tried to mix them well, but I have to admit that the recipe is off. It’s possible that he will die in just ten seconds or feel tortured like this for an entire day.”
Revin’s system window was still left open. He extended his hand and grabbed the Moon Amethyst, planning to use it to instantly reverse the situation, yet the gem ended up on Asava’s palm before he realized it.
“Snatching an item is one of my infiltration techniques. My hands are nimble and soundless. What did you expect would happen if you showed me such a valuable item?”
Asava rolled the gem around on his hand. “We assassins don’t rely on toys like this. We only rely on our skills.” He tossed it away as if the gem was a worthless rock. It rolled along the ground and was soon covered by the falling snow.
Asava continued, “To be honest, I’d prefer to talk face-to-face in real life, not in the game like this. May I know your address, Mister Montra? Could you please tell me?”
“For you to use this kind of method... the Three Elders won’t just stay still doing nothing,” said Montra.
“The Three Elders banned us from harming Sila and the ones closest to him. You are not included. Please don’t be so sure of yourself. In fact, even if they forbade harming you, I will not care whatsoever. They abandoned us at the time we needed them the most. Why should we obey their orders?”
Montra fell into thought. The fact that Asava showed up alone didn’t mean the rest weren’t hiding nearby. Kimon deliberately took Revin as a hostage to lure him out and track him in the real world. They must plan to assassinate him so they can make Sila the next Wulin Lord.
The best course of action that he should follow right now was abandon Revin, log out, and change his address as soon as possible.
The connection was cut off from Montra’s side. Seeing so, Revin released a sigh of relief. However, a friendly smile could still be seen on Asava’s face.
“It seems you have been abandoned. I can help you get your revenge. We Kimon don’t kill unless it is necessary. Our only target is Montra. Just tell me his address, and I will guarantee your safety. I swear on my life.”
The Hell’s Gate Islands’ code of conduct taught them to value their own life as the most important thing. Swearing on their life was an absolute oath that they would not betray.
“I can die for the sake of our dream. Montra did the right thing,” Revin replied, his voice steady.
“By letting his friend die?”
“We are prepared to make some sacrifices for the sake of attaining our goal. Montra is going to create our ideal Wulin Masters Association. I’m willing to die for that. No matter what you do to me, I won’t say a word.”
Asava showed a gentle smile. “This will be interesting. I have yet to encounter someone who hasn’t broken and answered my questions. It’s not a matter of if they’ll speak, but when. The only people who don’t answer my questions are those who have already died. Do you know why? It’s because everyone has a weakness that I can exploit, including you and Montra.”
“Montra has no weaknesses!” Revin argued.
“Sure he does. With his feeling of powerlessness in his childhood that he could do nothing but to let his mother die, he has developed a certain personality, making him unable to abandon the people he holds dear. My teacher reminded me all the time that every human always has at least one weakness. As long as we continue to search for it, we will eventually find it and be able to kill them. He also taught me that every single person has committed a sin. No one is undeserving of death’s embrace.”
With Himeko acting as a spy, it was natural that Asava was well aware of both Sila and Montra’s backgrounds. He even knew about Montra’s deep secret which only a handful of people close to him knew.
Asava was like the strategist of the Hell’s Gate Islands, always arming himself with plans and intel.
Sila planned to capture Revin with the help of Kimon. However, that was like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If Asava and Vlad joined forces, even Montra wouldn’t be their match.
A flash of light appeared and Montra, in a white magician robe with golden embroidery, stepped out of it. He glared at Asava with a pair of eyes that could burn even a chilling wind.
It seemed he had teleported himself to this place with a Crystal of Connecting.
“Why...?” Revin couldn’t understand.
Based on what they had discussed beforehand, in the case that this kind of situation was to unfold, Montra would have to run away. In fact, Montra was always the best when it came to adhering to the plan. He always repeatedly told Kawin and Revin to stick to the plan, since the plan was the result of careful and meticulous preparation in order for them to reach the best possible outcome.
Even so, the best course of action to take doesn’t necessarily mean the most sensible one. Montra had realized this fact six years ago. The events of that day inspired him to bring a change to the association.
“As expected, you came,” Asava said before he tilted his head to dodge Montra’s spear that flew toward him.
Montra pulled Revin toward him with magic power. As for the spear, it abruptly stopped in mid-air.
Witnessing it from up-close, Asava noticed that the spear had changed its appearance. The spear was golden and had a majestic dragon engraving running along the shaft. The spear tip was a red crystal with a sharp edge. It resembled a mage staff yet was still reminiscent of a spear.
“It’s time for us to show what we’re truly capable of. Otherwise, we will always be looked down upon. We will do whatever we want from now on,” Montra said as he helped Revin to his feet.
“Do you mean... the main plan has already succeeded?” asked Revin.
Montra nodded. “It’s time for them to realize who the true monster is in this world.”
Intense white aura enveloped Montra’s body, showing an imposing radiance. The true monster had finally awakened from its false slumber. His master plan had been completed without a hitch. There was no need for him to stick to trivial backup plans anymore.
“If Sila wants an all-out war, that’s what we will be giving him. He will soon regret his choice.”
If Sila was a fearful, hideous black monster who brought terror to those who he met, Montra would be a dignified, noble white monster whose presence alone evoked respect in others.
T/N: The next few chapters are centred around Montra. You may find some content frustrating, but please hang on. It will get better very soon. While Sila had to overcome a crisis with a calm mind in order to master the Flame Part, we have to overcome these chapters with a calm mind as well (kek).
Chapter 267: Knowledge is Power
Half a day before Revin’s duel with Kraizer, when Sila was preparing to enter the Dragon Kingdom, it marked a moment of major change in Monster Soul’s history. In the future, people would analyze and speculate that this day was the D-Day of Monster Soul, as much of the upheaval that would come could be traced back to now.
It was exactly seven days before the second war event was set to start.
A flash of teleportation emitted in the middle of a city. It wouldn’t be a weird sight if this place wasn’t Lost Grea City. Only a few people had an invitation card for this place in their possession.
The moment Montra stepped foot in the city, two infantry android units had sent an alert about his arrival throughout the city. For the record, after Sila had become the city’s conqueror, the dragon race had been set as an enemy of the android race living in Lost Grea City. The two units entered combat mode, immediately taking out laser-based weapons.
However, they came to an abrupt halt once Montra revealed a certain item in his hand. They even opened a path for him to pass through.
All of the android units, which were previously in a combat state, stopped showing offensive actions and immediately kneeled down. They didn’t fear this man but they didn’t dare to disrespect the item in his hand. This respect had been programmed into them when they were first created thousands of years ago.
The item in Montra’s hand looked like a futuristic battery. It emitted a red blinking light like a beating heart. This item was the one that all ancient androids worshipped as their god.
The Heart of Siaferia.
Montra could reach the throne room within the palace without any problems. Inside the room was the Android King, Orpheus, sitting on his favorite throne. His eyes showed a flash of excitement and doubt.
“You seem quite surprised,” Montra commented.
“I predicted Sila would hand me this item one day. Unexpectedly, it’s you, Montra.”
“The Heart of Siaferia. This item can be used to unseal and awaken the great kingdom of the androids, Siaferia City, from its slumber. It’s a small power generator, yet it can provide enough power for an entire city, including every single android unit.”
Montra described the item to prove his knowledge as he tossed the item to Orpheus, who caught it. The Android King inspected it and realized that it was the real deal.
Orpheus was surprised to see Montra coming here alone to deliver the item. It was impossible for a genius like Montra to be unaware of the fact that completing the city-unsealing quest didn’t mean he would become its new conqueror. Furthermore, without the Heart of Siaferia in his possession, Montra would have nothing to prevent android units from attacking him.
“Can I ask how?”
Montra nodded. “There is one thing that people always neglect—studying Monster Soul’s history. Entering a brand new world yet not caring about what has happened to it in the past is foolish. There is a library in the Magic Kingdom where you can read however much you want for free, but no one is ever interested in paying that place a visit. Unbeknownst to them, that knowledge is the most powerful skill they can possibly acquire. Recorded in the library’s books are myths, legends, and the history of Monster Soul. After spending two years worth of in-game time reading all of the books in there with the help of the Fast Reading skill, I finally obtained a Gem of Catastrophe—Universe’s Eyes Amber. The condition to obtain it was reading every single book in the library.”
That was the very first Gem of Catastrophe which Montra acquired. Witnessing its overpowered ability, he quickly recalled Monster Soul’s myths regarding the gems and desired to collect all of them.
Regardless, with the help of the Universe’s Eyes Amber, Montra’s next fateful encounter wasn’t another gem but Ramiel, the Angel of Truth.
“The gem is merely a byproduct. Knowledge is the true reward I got from reading the books. Everything I need is recorded in those books; some are stated explicitly while some are just clues. The Impossible Quest From the Goddess? That’s ridiculous. Nothing is impossible as long as humans possess enough knowledge and persistence. That’s why I tried to obtain all of the gems.
“As for that power generator, it was in Zhongsuyuan City. I took it from there myself. The items for unsealing each main city are openly shown in another main city. Other players think they are just decorations though.”
The item for unsealing Zhongsuyuan City could be found in Alkedia City. It was a jade plate hanging above the entrance of the city.
The one for unsealing Alkedia City used to be in Lost Grea City. If someone had looked up at the ceiling above them before Montra’s first visit, they would have noticed a small magical crest mixed among stones on the ceiling.
Lastly, the Heart of Siaferia could be found in Zhongsuyuan City. It was inside a stone pillar engraved with the city’s name, located next to the biggest pine tree in front of the city.
Orpheus couldn’t help but find Montra—the promising future leader of the Wulin Masters Association—amusing. He stood up from his throne. Soon, an altar with an empty hole the same size as the Heart of Siaferia rose from the floor.
Orpheus looked at Montra once, then inserted the item into the hole once he had seen the other didn’t show any particular expression.
Red lines of light flashed from the altar then spread throughout the city like blood flowing through the body’s veins. The entire city shook and the ceiling slowly slid apart. At long last, this underground city would soon experience sunlight.
The altar, with the power generator inside it, slid back into the ground. The system then announced that the Android Kingdom was finally unsealed, though the notification only rang out inside Lost Grea City. Even so, the merging of the two cities—Grea City and Lost Grea City—would soon be notified to all players by the system.
“Well.” Orpheus strode forward. “I’m not sure whether you are actually smart or stupid. You are not the city’s conqueror, so all of the benefits will fall into Sila’s hands. More importantly, you are now surrounded by one Emperor Rank monster, hundreds of Lord Ranks, and thousands of Marquis Ranks. This is yet to mention the Knight Ranks.”
Montra’s expression didn’t change. “Whether I’m smart or stupid, it’s not for me to decide. There are two ways to become the city’s conqueror. The first is to kill the previous conqueror while they are inside said city. The second method is to complete the conquering quest at a higher difficulty level than the current conqueror did. That is the reason why I’m here. I would like to initiate Siaferia City’s invasion quest.”
Orpheus couldn’t bring himself to believe what he just heard. “Are you crazy? I’m an Independent NPC. There is no way a single player can take me down.”
“Nothing is impossible,” Montra repeated the words. These words signified him the best.
Orpheus burst into laughter. “Show me, then. I would like to see how you do it. Sila inserted the city’s seal into the groove in my throne with the help of a player and three pets. You will have to achieve more than that.”
“I alone will kill every single android unit in the city. This is the most difficult condition,” Montra continued, “That includes you, by the way. I also need to kill an Emperor Rank Independent NPC in order to reach Emperor Rank, So I’ll be killing two birds with one stone.”
Rather than feeling enraged, Orpheus was simply surprised. Montra was brimming with overconfidence. It was unreal. He quickly expanded his psychic sense to search for Montra’s possible hidden army, yet he found nothing.
“What is the basis behind your confidence? Did you just eat something strange? With the city being unsealed, our race’s laser-based weapons will grow stronger and our psychic barriers will be sturdier. There is absolutely no way for you to win. What tricks do you have?”
“Many. One of them is this.” Montra took his mage staff out.
Observing the weapon made by Zeref, Orpheus raised his brows with an expression of disdain. Still, he couldn’t help but secretly admire the other’s beautiful craftsmanship.
“Hmph. Just a Lord Rank weapon. It will be a little different if its rank is Emperor. Well, that can’t be done without—”
“—the blood of an extinct Minotaur, right?” Montra completed the sentence. “I know whose blood is needed for evolving my weapon. Just tapping the Fairy Queen’s blood on a weapon is a simple task that I can easily do. The fairy race and the dragon race are on good terms, so I only needed to ask. As for Minotaurs, they used to be servants of the Devil Prince Mammon. Unfortunately, according to the legend, the devil race went extinct after the Demon of Greed was sealed. Even if I want to find them, I will have to try my luck in the Monster Realm, so this condition is quite harsh.”
Montra took five blood tubes out. “Do you know that this game provides players with a high level of freedom? Most quests have an alternative completion method. For example, in the case that I fail to find the blood of the nemesis of my weapon, I can opt to—”
“—use the blood of any five Emperor Rank monsters instead,” Orpheus continued. As a top weaponsmith, it was natural that he knew the alternative way to evolve a weapon made of Orichalcum. Still, this so-called alternative was no different than a way to torment players.
“True, I was in a bit of a dilemma at first and planned to use the creation from your blueprint, the Realm-Crossing Gate, to test my luck in the Monster Realm. However, I got lucky. Thanks to Sila and Lone Wolf, everything became easier for me.”
Montra poured all the blood in the vials onto his weapon, which soon radiated white and began to change shape, evolving to Emperor Rank.
“These vials held the blood of Leviathan, Asmodeus, Beelzebub, Belphegor, and Satan. In this game, ingredients from monsters usually disappear after they die. However, there are players who possess a skill that can extract a monster’s ingredients from their card. Finding such a player in a large guild like the Heavenly Dragon Guild is not difficult at all.”
Sky-Splitting Dragon Magical Spear. That was the new name of Montra’s weapon. Unlike Lomyok’s weapon that was balanced between offense and defense, Montra’s was purely offensive. The spear form increased his physical attack while the mage staff form increased a spell’s attack power. With the two of them combined, this magical spear had its attack power doubled. The spear would also inflict magical damage while the spell Montra cast while holding this spear would also deal physical damage. Its attack power couldn’t be weakened by any means. It was the ultimate weapon of aggression.
An Emperor Rank weapon. This could be a problem but it still posed no real threat to Orpheus. Just possessing a good weapon didn’t mean Montra could defeat him. Even other Emperor Rank monsters would have a difficult time winning against him.
With Montra alone, Orpheus couldn’t see a future in which he lost this fight. He summoned a stringless golden lyre—his signature weapon—into his hand, ready to battle.
Before the fight started, Montra interrupted by asking, “Do you know why Lost Grea City was sealed in the past?”
“Do you want to fight or talk?”
Montra tightened his grip on the magical spear. “One of us will surely die today. Don’t be impatient. The longer this takes, the more advantageous for you, right?”
Orpheus wondered. It was exactly as he said; the longer this went on, the more the scales would tip in Orpheus’ favor. His android army was undergoing a reboot to upgrade themselves from the Heart of Siaferia. Their latent abilities were gradually being unlocked as time passed.
“I don’t know. It was always in a sealed state, even before I became its ruler.”
“That’s a shame. You’re the Android King, yet you’re unaware of this fact. Well, I guess this topic was a part of the game’s history that had been set up even before the game started functioning. You entered this world and obtained the ruler position of the already sealed city while the rest of the androids had artificial memories implanted in their cores.”
Montra’s speculation made sense. Most virtual reality online games implemented this approach. The history of a game’s setting was often only programmed and didn’t actually happen.
Montra continued, “I have been wondering. Can we reproduce the same result using the method recorded in history? Can I defeat the android race with the same trick? It’s an easy question. I knew my theory was right as soon as I discovered the android race’s weakness.”
Orpheus had been a member of the android race for a very long time. Aside from the energy core, the android race was flawless. “What weakness?”
“The android race can upgrade their rank, power, and abilities through equipment. Given enough wealth, one can reach Lord Rank within a day.”
“Heh. I was wondering what you were going to say, but it was for nothing. That’s our race’s strength. We don’t have a weakness.”
“That’s your shallow perspective. Upgradeable means it is also possible to be downgraded. What will happen if their items become unusable?”
Montra knocked the end of his spear’s handle against the ground. Its crystal red spear tip shone bright as a giant magic formula appeared in the sky. Immediately, every engine in the city lost its light as it ceased to function. The same applied to the lights in the energy cores possessed by all of the android units, including Orpheus.
“Forbidden Trap: Ammunition Blockage, a spell from Mystical Mechanic Magic. I cast it a couple weeks ago. This spell holds tremendous power but requires a long preparation time. I laid the trap in Grea City, preventing you from detecting it. Once the city-unsealing quest came to a finish and the two cities merged together, the trap would cover this city as well.”
“Impossible! Mystical Mechanic Magic? Only the Sealed One is able to use this type of Ancient Magic! Except—”
“Unseal Nixroth.” Montra unsealed his left arm, the ultimate weapon of destruction. Upon reaching the final stage, the Left Arm of the Sealed One would bestow the holder the right to learn one type of Ancient Magic. He used that right to learn Mystical Mechanic Magic—the strongest trap magic with several spells that seal or snare.
“I used ‘Awakening,’ the conceptual ability of the Sky Emerald, to forcefully upgrade the Left Arm of the Sealed One to its final stage. The downside is that I can’t use the three item skills attached to Nixroth, though just the right to learn Ancient Magic was more than enough.”
Orpheus tried to exert his power, but he couldn’t do it. His whole body was essentially made of items. As soon as all of the items stopped functioning, his overall stats had fallen to the degree of a Level 1 Squire Rank creature.
“Independent NPCs often overlook in-game stats and skills as they don’t need to rely on them. However, this world is ultimately a game. Your physical strength and inner force capacity largely depend on stats. No matter how great your profound art is, you can’t use it if you lack psychic points.”
Orpheus showed a serious expression. He inspected his status window.
Title: Android King
Health Points: 1,000/1,000
Psychic Points: 1,000/1,000
As an Emperor Rank monster, the skills Orpheus possessed were high-grade skills. Each of them required more than 1,000 psychic points. That meant he couldn’t utilize any skill except Psychic Power Reinforcement. Nevertheless, considering how few points he had, it would be pointless against Montra’s spear.
Still, Orpheus possessed martial arts that didn’t require much inner force. His remaining hope to win was killing Montra by attacking a vital spot. He flicked his finger and fired a thread of psychic power, stabbing Montra’s heart.
Montra stared at the wound on his chest and activated a skill, “Reversed Holy Scale.”
The position of the wound transferred from his heart to his left shoulder. His health decreased by about 30 points as it wasn’t a vital spot.
“You may be a great martial artist in the outside world, possibly even ranking in the top hundred, but this is a game. I may not even catch up to you out there after ten years, but in here you’re nothing but a stepping stone for me to achieve my goals.”
Montra raised his spear, pointing it toward the sky. “You could normally block my spell by forming a shield with your psychic power. However, in your current state, I don’t believe that’s possible for you.”
Orpheus showed a detesting expression for the first time. He was losing against a kid from a younger generation. It wasn’t a contest of strength, but strategy. Montra had planned and laid a trap ahead of time. The kid exploited the system and his race’s characteristics, driving him into a corner.
During his last moments, two thoughts popped up in Orpheus’ head. One was his concern for Sila, who had this kind of person as his enemy. The other was the words a lot of underground people used to describe Montra.
“Cruel and heartless, exactly as I heard. The Demon Child. No wonder you could leave your mother to die.”
Montra frowned with displeasure. He knew people always talked this way behind his back, and he no longer cared. Regardless, being called by that name still put him in a bad mood.
“Ten Directions Solar Flare.”
A fire started from the tip of Montra’s spear. He shot it into the sky, then it exploded like fireworks, emanating throughout the entire city.
Montra’s attack was merely a mid-tier spell, one that could be easily blocked by even Knight Rank players. The spell made up for its low attack power by covering a large area and being unavoidable.
All of the android units only had a few health points, so they died one after another. There were too many dropped items for Montra’s system window, so a large amount of the drops were scattered throughout the city. It was during that instant that the Android Kingdom temporarily became known as the Kingdom of Treasure. Players could find dropped items in every corner of the city.
The system notified Montra that he had killed Orpheus and his rank had been promoted to Level 1 Emperor Rank. More importantly, he had officially become the conqueror of Siaferia City.
The dimension in front of Montra distorted and widened, which he didn’t find surprising at all. A middle-aged man with a short beard soon stepped out from the appearing golden door. He wore a pair of round glasses and a clean, white butler uniform.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mister Montra. I take it that you already know who I am.”
Montra nodded. “You’re the Supreme Sage, Altia, and the guide to the Hall of Omniscience.”
Chapter 268: Grand Deity’s Breathing
“Wait a moment,” Montra spoke to Altia, who nodded in response.
Montra opened his system window and read the information regarding Siaferia City, which he obtained after conquering it. There was a record about the city’s military status, including a list of weapons. After a few minutes, Montra finally came across the information he sought.
“Life and Evolve...” Montra’s gaze fell on Orpheus’ log of creations. He finally discovered the last two conceptual abilities of the eleven Gems of Catastrophe.
His thumb was under his chin while his index finger was on his nose. It was his habitual posture when he was deeply thinking about something important.
“Awaken, Recovery, Presence, Life, Monster, Expansion, Link, Truth, Sleep, Ruin, and Evolve.” Montra slowly repeated all of the conceptual abilities of the Gems of Catastrophe. His confidence rose from seven to nine out of ten after reading Orpheus’ log.
“The last one must be ‘Humanity,’ then. The final catastrophe that the goddess never created since it was brought directly into the game—the players. Humans possess abilities and privileges that monsters do not. In a way, we can say that they’re humanity’s conceptual ability as the last gem.”
Montra finally got the answer he wanted. It was at that time that Zazae, who he had sent to perform a certain task in Zhongsuyuan City, contacted him.
“How was your mission, Zazae?” asked Montra.
Zazae’s face showed up on the other side of the screen. His tone of voice held a hint of regret, as he couldn’t complete his mission flawlessly as it was supposed to be. “The mission was successful, sir. However, there were some complications. The mission was anticipated and I was ambushed. I lost the Gem of Catastrophe in my possession as a result.”
Montra fell silent for a brief moment. “It’s fine. It’s normal for plans to have errors. It’s good that you’re safe. Tell me what happened later when I return.”
“Yes, sir.” Zazae cut off the communication.
Montra wondered how his plan was anticipated. One more gem in his enemy’s possession meant they posed a greater threat to him. Still, Zazae’s loyalty toward him was unquestionable. It would be pointless if he scolded or punished Zazae. At the same time, if he didn’t blame Zazae, the man would be more eager to work for him so he could compensate for his mistake.
Altia gestured his hand toward the dimensional door. “Welcome, Mister Montra. This door will lead you to the Hall of Omniscience.”
Montra approached the door and was about to enter. However, seeing that Altia didn’t say anything else, he stopped his feet one step in front of the door.
“Is there something wrong, sir?” asked Altia.
Montra stared at him with coldness in his eyes. “You really don’t plan to warn me?”
“What do you mean, sir?”
“Once I’ve stepped into the Hall of Omniscience, it will take at least a week before I can come back to the New World. If I enter now, I will be late for the first day of the war event, disqualifying me from participating.”
Despite being caught red-handed, there was no change in Altia’s expression. “As expected of you, Mister Montra.”
“So the game creator belongs to the Wulin Masters Association as well, right? Furthermore, they don’t want me to become the Wulin Lord. For them to use this kind of trick against me...”
The moment that victory is within their grasp is the moment that people lower their guard. The game creator must’ve wanted to exploit the moment when Montra was about to obtain greater power. If he had stepped across the door, it would have been his loss, without him being able to put up a fight.
Montra continued, “Actually, it’s not that hard to assume so. There are many members of the association playing this game. It’s natural that the game creator, or at least the game master or admin, is related to the association. Have the Three Elders become this desperate? They want me to lose by using this kind of underhanded tactic?”
Altia shook his head. “Master Joshua anticipated that this method wouldn’t work on you as you are so suspicious. He gave me a message to pass on to you. Please listen.”
“Say whatever you want.”
“Even though it’s exceptionally powerful, Grand Deity’s Breathing is not a profound art designed for combat. It is even extremely harmful to the user, as clearly stated on the very first page.
“Master thought you only wanted to study its outline, so he allowed you to bring it into the game. By the time he realized that you intended to practice it, it was too late. Now that you have memorised every word in the scroll, deleting it from the game won’t be helpful.
“You have mastered up to the fourth stage of the art. Up to this stage, it bestows you with benefits with no harm, so you are free to use it. However, the fifth stage isn’t what you are supposed to attempt. If you do, there will be irreversible consequences. The harm that the last stage will inflict on you will be far greater than all the benefits you have obtained.”
Montra silently listened to the warning. It was normal that him bringing the profound scroll into the game could be detected by the game creator. As for the danger attached to Grand Deity’s Breathing, it was something that he had been warned of before by the first page of the scroll.
“Another point, sir. Mister Montra, you may think that Master is like all of the others who want you to lose this fight. However, Master is on your side more than you can possibly imagine. He wants you to withdraw for other reasons.
“If you give up the Wulin Lord position now, you will have more time to take care of other matters. The time will be too tight if you wait until this mess in the association has come to an end. The enemy of the association is making their move and the association will soon encounter a crisis. Master wants you to quit the association now.”
“The Wulin Masters Association has no enemy.” Montra had lived in the association since he was born. He would have known if the association had a notable competitor.
“You’re smart, Mister Montra. What organization doesn’t have an enemy? If there is no enemy, why do the Three Elders uncompromisingly disagree with you over bringing the association into the light? They are afraid you will make the association too open, becoming an easy target. If there is no enemy, why does the association have to stay hidden in the underground world? No, in fact, the association has a formidable enemy that they can’t possibly take down. That is why the Three Elders refuse your ideology and want Sila to take the position. However, Master has a different opinion. He believes only you have the power to stop the impending crisis that will inevitably occur.”
Listening to Altia’s explanation, Montra couldn’t bring himself to deny the possibility that the association might have an enemy, but he wondered why only he had the power to stop the crisis. Even though he was called a genius, he was merely human. He was sure that there were many people who were stronger, smarter, and more exceptional than him out there in the world. Thus, this part of Altia’s story seemed baseless. Nothing could ensure him that what Altia said was the truth. The whole story could be a lie—a trick to persuade him to give up the Wulin Lord position.
“Master also told me that, as compensation for you giving up your dream, he will reveal to you your mother’s whereabouts.”
“What did you say?!”
“You heard me correctly, Mister Montra. Your mother is still alive. You will know the whole truth once you’ve stepped through this door.”
Montra’s resolve was somehow shaken. Despite this, he believed in himself more than others. A proposal that seemed too good often came with deadly poison.
“Tell this to your master. I will search for the truth myself. I, Montra, am not the kind of person that simply waits to be fed the answers. I will search far and wide with my own head and my own hands. In addition, if the enemy really exists, they will be my next target after I am done with Sila.”
Altia showed a dry smile as he couldn’t accomplish the mission he was assigned. “I take it that you won’t enter the door, then.” He took a certain item out and handed it to Montra. “This is the Monster Stamp, sir. Although I’m giving this to you now, it’s not usable without visiting the Hall of Omniscience, which won’t open for you again. As such, you will never be able to use it.”
Montra didn’t care. He received the Monster Stamp and stored it in his system window. “I’m confident in my victory even if I haven’t visited the hall.”
“One last thing. Master told me that you have been destined to lose in this war since the start. There exists a method that will guarantee Sila’s victory. If he finds what it is and exploits it, you will instantly lose without a way to make a comeback. You only have one method to counter that, but it may cost you your life.” Altia bowed his head. “Please beg my pardon. I will leave.”
The Supreme Sage vanished along with the door he came through, leaving Montra alone inside the throne room.
Is there really such a method to guarantee victory for Sila?
Montra believed his plan was close to perfection. Still, he was aware that there was no such thing as absolutely perfect. Man’s schemes are inferior to those made in heaven. All he had to do was persist through hardships to the best of his abilities.
Revin soon contacted him. Montra guessed Revin’s sword duel against Kraizer must have come to an end. He opened his system window to start the call, and he found out that his friend’s life was in grave danger.
In front of Montra was a member of Kimon, whom everybody in the association had been taught since childhood to avoid. Flee on sight, or commit suicide if already captured. Those were the countermeasures.
Becoming Kimon’s target meant half of their life had already entered Hell’s Gate.
The magical spear returned to his hand. Montra cast a healing spell to detoxify the poison in Revin’s body before knocking it against the ground once to send Revin to the guild’s headquarters.
“You’re not afraid of us? Your courage is commendable,” remarked Asava.
Montra’s senses soon picked up another presence. Apparently, Vlad quietly showed up behind him, ready to take action.
“We assassins can do anything for the sake of killing a target, so please pardon us for using the power of friendship—going two versus one.” Asava slowly raised his hand.
Montra glared at Asava's slightest actions. Asava was a living killing machine. Taking his eyes away from the man even for the briefest moment could easily spell demise.
However, the oppressive aura coming from Vlad also wasn’t something Montra could ignore. Vlad’s qi spread over and could pressure even Montra, who had became Emperor Rank just recently. Montra didn’t understand how a man could possess such a bottomless amount of inner force.
Montra had to go against two dreadful dark arts from the Hell’s Gate Islands simultaneously. Sage of the Six Disasters was the most conceptual among the four arts. He couldn’t predict what kind of move Asava would take against him. All of the killing methods that the man possessed were equally capable of taking a person’s life.
As for the Vajra Qi, it was the physically strongest dark art among the four. It signified the simplicity of qi—as swift as the wind, as gentle as a forest, as fierce as a flame, as unshakable as a mountain, as powerful as a lightning bolt, and as secretive as a shadow. Such simplicity was extremely difficult for Vlad’s target to cope with.
It was time for Montra to rely on Grand Deity’s Breathing. As expected from a dark art, the art was insanely easy to practice. It required the user to focus on matching their movements with profound breathing techniques. Each stage could be mastered relatively easily if the user concentrated enough. This art consisted of five stages, though none of them affected the user’s core inner force and martial arts. It acted like a supplemental power that elevated the user’s strength to another level. It was the reason Montra picked this dark art to practice.
Grand Deity’s Breathing — First Stage, Stabilize Breathing and Return to Nihility. It was the stage where the user stabilized their breathing to enhance their focus. The user would be able to stay calm even when surrounded by dangerous foes.
Grand Deity’s Breathing — Second Stage, Hold Breathing and Borrow the Heavenly Eyes. It was the stage at which the user held their breath and looked at things around them thoroughly, enhancing their observation skills and insight. The user would be able to see even the slightest details that normally would’ve gone unnoticed.
Grand Deity’s Breathing — Third Stage, Regain Breathing and Forget the Past Lives. It was the stage which broke the user’s physical limits without harming their body. The user would be able to use 100% of their strength as they could constantly stay in their peak form.
Grand Deity’s Breathing — Fourth Stage, Lose Breathing and Step into the Void. It was the stage that completely concealed the user’s presence and killing intent.
As for the final, fifth stage, Montra had memorized the breathing method to reach this stage, but he had never attempted it before. It was the only stage that came with a downside and the only stage that even the art’s owner couldn’t master. Any practitioners granted access to the manual were banned from practicing the final stage, as they would surely regret it.
Using Grand Deity’s Breathing, the user must start from the first stage then gradually unlock the power of the next stages. Facing against Kimon’s Heirs, Montra had already used it to the fourth stage before coming to this place.
His anxiety and worry were gone from his sea of thoughts. His body and mind were like empty vessels, ready to cope with all kinds of problems using his heightened concentration.
Montra felt his body become extremely light. His eyes saw through things which he couldn’t have normally seen, like Vlad’s movements behind his back.
The vision he saw wasn’t real since he didn’t have a third eye on the back of his head. Even so, he really did see what was happening behind him. The sight he envisioned was too profound to be explained like he could predict Vlad’s movements with merely the change in the wind’s current.
Montra suddenly tilted his spear, and two metallic sounds rang out.
Asava furrowed his brows. He hadn’t moved a muscle when he fired two silver needles covered in snow wind. It was unexpected that Montra could sense and perfectly block them.
The spear is a weapon that excels at attacking what is in front of it. Montra realized he would be in a bad spot if he was surrounded, so he stepped forward to approach Asava. His best bet was to kill the leader. Montra violently thrust his magical spear without holding back.
The magical spear flew toward Asava. Both speed and power were top-notch. However, with only a gleam from Asava’s eyes, Montra felt his power drained from him and the strength in his wrists, holding the spear, weakened.
Meanwhile, a saber appeared in Asava’s hand. The Eminent Immortal’s Heir thrust his saber and the blade curved like an actual serpent, aiming for Montra’s wrist. The power imbued in this blade surprisingly belonged to Montra himself.
The blade left a large cut on Montra’s wrist. He tried to activate Reversed Holy Scale to shift the position of the injury, but found that his power was in the state of disorder.
It was Asava’s Reflecting Disaster, his manipulation art, that rendered his opponent incapable of controlling their inner force properly.
Montra’s wrist was bleeding. The wound from Asava’s saber was brown as if it had come into contact with poison. He forcefully circulated Triple Sky Energy to drive the poison from his system while it was still on his skin.
Montra jumped backward, stabilizing his breathing to regain his focus. He still stared at Asava while brandishing his magical spear backward at Vlad.
God’s Realm Spear Art — Spear Brandishing Sattaloha.
A simple yet powerful move combined with an Emperor Rank weapon. Its attack power was lethal. Even Kawin or Sila would have a hard time taking it head on.
However, it was different in Vlad’s case. He simply tilted his head and used his shoulder to block Montra’s attack. The Emperor Rank magical spear collided against Vlad’s shoulder, but the man’s body was anything but ordinary. The sound of metal striking metal was loud and thunderous. Vlad’s body remained intact while the impact from the clash was enough to tear apart Montra’s finger muscles. He almost lost his grip on the spear.
Vlad’s indifferent expression made it seem like it belonged to a walking corpse. He grabbed Montra’s magical spear with his left hand and tossed Montra to the sky using his herculean strength.
Montra’s body rotated in mid-air, ten meters above the ground. His vision was spinning, but he still caught an unbelievable sight.
With a single flick of his feet, Vlad sent himself into the sky, even higher than Montra. He used his qi to control his weight as he could step onto the air with ease. He slapped at the floating Montra, sending him back to the ground at high speed, like a comet.
Montra crashed against the ground, severely injured. At least two of his bones must have been broken.
“Do you know that Vlad possess a tremendous amount of inner force? He can comfortably carry his weight with qi. Also, his mastery over his qi allows him to step on a grain of dust in the sky. There are fewer than five people in the world who can do this. Don’t expect him to be slow just because of his physique,” Asava commented without moving.
Montra saw Vlad descend from the sky like he was walking on invisible stairs. Surprisingly, Vlad could achieve this without using any in-game skills. His marvelous ability was beyond imagination. Montra could hardly believe it even though it was unfolding right in front of his eyes.
These people were well-trained assassins. They were born to assassinate and their only expertise was assassination. Their killing skills were naturally second to none. Montra could hardly survive despite giving his all.
Even when he was in his peak condition, he was still no match for the two of them. Then what? Does that mean he has no choice but to lose his life here? Is this the place where his dream comes to an end? The place where even the snow wasn’t real but artificial.
The answer to both questions was no. It was forbidden to attempt it, but so what? No one had ever mastered the art, but so what?
The more they said he couldn’t do it, the more Montra would be eager to show them he could. The more dangerous they said it would be, the more willing he was to dive right into it.
Choices and ways of survival were things one had to create, not simply wait for. There were no things such as luck or fortune. Nothing is impossible for humans, especially for the human named Montra.
Even if he was fated to lose, he would win. Even if he was destined to die, he would live on.
Montra’s way of living was clear. He was the only one who got to write his tale. There was no destiny. There would be no regrets. In his life, the only regret he felt was the regret that he hadn’t chosen the path he wanted to take.
Grand Deity’s Breathing — Fifth Stage, Sacrifice Breathing and Abandon Humanity.
@Sinless That is good synopsis. A virtual reality MMORPG known primarily for one thing: there are no
rules. It is a lawless world where humans can shed the masks they wear
and unleash the cruel beasts inside. It is in this very world that our
story takes place.This can be a good first paragraph for your synopsis actually just change the last part of sentences with something like "The world where full of monster and the unknown exist within." Or maybe something better than what i write.And then you can use that paragraph of yours. "Follow a story of Sila, a young martial artist who has been raised in a
dojo, learning nothing but muscle-building and fight. His life mostly
consists of two things: his teacher and his dojo.One day,
however, he lost both of the above. As the strongest player in the VR
game Monster Soul Online has information he needs, he decides to jump
into the lawless world full of unknown. Will the journey to find his
missing teacher be as simple as it is though?"This is the best i can think of. Well you can make it longer if you really need a long synopsis and ask other people opinion too. I believe many people will help you better. (Sorry for my bad grammer).
Chapter 269: The Dead Man’s Profound Art
Montra’s presence, as well as his killing intent and the very traces of his power, suddenly vanished. Asava frowned as he had never seen anything like this before. As an assassin, he was taught to anticipate the worst-case scenario when something bizarre happened. Thus, he raised his hand to give a signal to Vlad, ordering him to cease attacking and maintain his distance.
Montra slowly stood up. He tightened his grip on the magical spear and took a battle stance. He was standing right in front of Asava and Vlad, yet the two couldn’t sense Montra’s presence or even his vitality at all. It was as if Montra’s existence had turned transparent.
Asava’s eyes gleamed golden. He was using Gambled Disaster, the underhanded art regarding calculating a probability. The art enhanced his senses and thinking processes within a short timeframe. It was useful when used together with the other sub-arts of Sage of the Six Disasters. With it, Asava could predict numerous possibilities and choose the action that would lead to the best possible outcome.
Montra showed no signs of using inner force, though it was possible that Asava just couldn’t sense it. Asava’s gaze inspected Montra’s injuries, which didn’t seem to be as lethal as he initially thought. Even so, it was certain that at least two of Montra’s ribs had broken.
The silence was suffocating.
Montra was the first to take action. He took the first step toward Asava.
Asava felt an ominous chill for no reason. Against an enemy with immeasurable strength and tactics, the countermeasure was to force them to make a move. He flicked his fingers, sending a signal for Vlad to attack. Meanwhile, he shifted his position to perform a pincer attack against Montra.
Vlad swiftly moved as if he was a little fish swimming through clean water. He raised his hand and struck down at the back of Montra’s head. In response, Montra took several short steps, dragging his feet and drawing an infinity symbol on the snowfield. It was Coiling Dragon Steps, the basic movement art belonging to the Sky Dragon Dojo. It was mainly an art for taking evasive actions at close range while attempting to counterattack.
Every disciple in the Sky Dragon Dojo was aware of this art as all of them practised it. Nevertheless, their level of mastery depended on their adaptation.
The Sky Dragon Dojo had tens of thousands of disciples. Among them, Sanon would provide direct guidance to a few who showed promising dedication or talent. The ones he picked would always become great martial artists in the future. Sanon’s teaching style heavily relied on his disciple’s desire and compatibility. He taught each of his disciples differently. He even sometimes taught them some traditional martial arts that didn’t belong to his dojo. He didn’t care about face and only focused on pushing his disciples further.
Sanon might be labeled as the weakest among the Three Elders, but he received more respect and honor than anyone else.
Foundations are the most important. Montra had been constantly practicing two basic martial arts—Coiling Dragon Steps and Sky-Rending Dragon Fist—every single day since childhood. He honed and adapted Sky-Rending Dragon Fist into his own art, Heavenly Destiny Fist, while maintaining Coiling Dragon Steps’ originality. In fact, he rarely used this movement art due to its incompatibility with his spear art.
Montra shifted his center of gravity to the left while locking Vlad’s ankle with his own, breaking his balance. The distance between them was too close, so Montra couldn’t properly wield his spear. He removed his right hand on his weapon and ruthlessly thrust it at Vlad’s temple.
God’s Realm Spear Art — Spearless Longinus.
Montra’s hand connected with Vlad’s temple. Vlad’s head slightly tilted from the impact while Montra’s nails were broken. It seemed bare-handed attacks would never work against this member of Kimon.
Vlad swiftly swung his arm toward Montra, which the latter jumped up and blocked it using a kick. Montra bent his knees and borrowed Vlad’s strength to soar toward Asava. He slowly drew his magical spear despite his movement speed being fast.
God’s Realm Spear Art — Spear Spinning Rhongomyniad.
Asava was in a bad position to perform an attack, but he was calm like always. He put his hands in front of his face before tearing the air apart. A mirror made of psychic power soon materialized and sent Montra’s attack right back at him. It was Reflecting Disaster, Asava’s art that redirected an opponent’s attack.
Furthermore, as the attack was being reflected back, Asava mercilessly used Death Disaster, his killing art, to fracture Montra’s wrists.
Montra released his hands from the spear, did a backflip, and kicked it to the sky to invalidate the reflected attack power. He then landed at the same location, still surrounded by the two assassins. He shifted his gaze to his fractured wrists and quickly cast a healing spell.
“You used the same art as Sila,” Montra commented.
Asava was still observing Montra. “Do you mean Reflecting Disaster or Death Disaster, Mister Montra? Nevertheless, both of them belong to Sage of the Six Disasters. I guess you are mistaken.”
‘I heard that the user has to destroy his own dantian to learn Sage of the Six Disasters. I guess he really didn’t impart the art to Sila. However, his reflecting move just now was very similar to the move Sila used against Ramiel. What does this mean?’ Montra started pondering this in the middle of combat.
Meanwhile, Asava couldn’t grasp the entire situation. Some bizarre changes suddenly occurred in Montra’s body. His killing intent and power were gone, but they didn’t really vanish. The proof was the previous spear strike that was so powerful to the point where his Reflecting Disaster could hardly handle it.
There was no leakage of power. No killing intent. No inner force in Montra’s veins. There was even no breathing. Asava found it hard to believe even though he saw it with his own eyes. It was absurd to think that there existed an art that was even stranger than the four dark arts of the Hell’s Gate Islands.
The art Montra was using could hardly be called a combat art. The activation process of Grand Deity’s Breathing’s final stage was irreversible after the first use. The practitioner would lose everything and transcend the limits of humanity by achieving semi-godhood as compensation. In this state, all of the inner force in the user’s body would become fuel for the dark art. The practitioner’s body would become like an empty vessel that could hold an unlimited amount of power from nature. The profound state that the user acquired through the previous four stages would be infused in the user’s body and it would continue to stay active without need for management or control by the user.
The price for that was the user’s breathing, meaning the practitioner would become unable to breathe. This forces them to rely on inner-breathing, which would gradually use up their life force until they died. The moment the user activates the final stage of the art is the start of the countdown to their inevitable demise.
When the Chaos Emperor Dragon reached this state, his quality and quantity of inner force were both unmatched by all but two others in the entire world. Even with that, he still only had one year to live.
Montra was inferior in both regards, so he wouldn’t last longer than a day if he used the art in real life. Fortunately, he activated the art in the game, so the aftereffect was less intense. Still, he wouldn’t survive longer than approximately two real-life weeks.
Grand Deity’s Breathing had a nickname given by the art’s original owner. It was ‘the dead man’s profound art.’
Montra felt the remains of his lifespan within his body. To be honest, he had never asked himself what was worth trading his life for. Two weeks’ worth of time was more than enough for him to handle all of his problems. The second war event would start in seven days in-game time, and that was equivalent to one and a half days in real life.
He would become the Wulin Lord when he won. After that, he would use his remaining time to assign duties to his trusted allies. He would appoint Revin and Kawin as two of the Three Elders for them to inherit his will and legacy. He would also exert his authority as the Wulin Lord to assemble people and purge Kimon.
Then, he would die. With the Wulin Lord missing, the ones responsible for leading the association would be the Elders. Even after he died, his ideology would still be passed on to the later generations.
Everything he had done was for the sake of a better future for the Wulin Masters Association. Montra was willing to sacrifice even his insignificant life for it. The association was his everything. To make it a better place had been his ultimate lifetime goal ever since he was eleven. He sought nothing more so long as that goal could be attained.
His way of life was similar to a throwing spear. It flew at full force and never came back. If it missed the target, the spear would be meaningless. Without the Wulin Masters Association, Montra would not have grown into who he was.He would not have met Kawin or Revin, learned how to wield a spear, or found his purpose in life.
“I previously didn’t have enough inner force to exert God’s Realm Spear Art’s last move. I thought I’d be able to use it in ten years if I didn't slack off. It seems I won’t have to wait. Today, you guys will witness the martial move that I have obtained by sacrificing my life.”
Once the word spear was mentioned, Asava realized the spear in the sky had teleported and appeared in Montra’s hand once more, just like magic. Despite the fact that he couldn’t sense anything, he still felt danger. He quickly sent a hand signal for Vlad to back off.
The red crystal on the spear tip flashed once, absorbing a tremendous amount of power from Montra’s body. It unleashed his inner force and materialized hundreds of illuminating spears of different sizes, all of them floating in the sky.
Even when Montra was exerting this level of power, Asava still couldn’t sense Montra’s presence at all. He tried using Drunken Disaster to disturb Montra’s flow of power, yet it didn’t work. Montra had become a being that transcended both light and darkness. The only reflection from Montra’s pair of eyes was the void.
Nothingness is the genuine polar opposite of everything in the world.
If his enemy didn’t have power, how could Asava borrow their power? Yet, how could such a big move show no power at all?
Many questions popped up in Asava’s head. He had never encountered an opponent who was unreadable to this degree.
God’s Realm Spear Art — Spear Borrowing Izanagi.
Montra turned to face off against Vlad the invincible. He thrust his magical spear with no hesitation, then hundreds of spears rained down on Vlad. More importantly, each spear was imbued with the power of one or another martial move of God’s Realm Spear Art.
Vlad’s physique might be the best, but he wasn’t an immortal. The spears continued to create holes in his body.
As his body was wasted, the coffin on his back was opened and a small silhouette rushed out of it. Montra didn’t miss that and commanded the remaining spears to follow it.
“Unexpectedly, that peerless body is just a weapon. Now I understand why my attacks never worked.”
Vlad clenched his teeth. His real body was a boy seemingly younger than twelve. Despite this, within his small body was a monstrous amount of inner force. In fact, his power was too great to the point where his small body became a burden. In the real world, he would control a doll or a corpse through his qi to lessen the burden on his body. In the game, he relied on a mechanical doll produced by Zeref instead.
For the record, if Vlad were to directly use his qi through his flesh, he wouldn’t be injured by an opponent because he would die by his own inner force before being able to do anything.
Vlad slapped his hands on the ground, pushing a stone wall up using his qi. He then punched the wall and generated a shockwave, creating a tornado of dirt and snow.
Listening to Asava’s whistle, Vlad clad each grain of sand with his inner force before waving the tornado toward Montra. Each grain of sand had power rivalling a meteor. All of them flew toward Montra at high speed.
Montra placed his magical spear vertically, then the remaining materialized spears flew back and lined up in front of him, acting as a barrier.
Some attacks passed through the defense, but Montra didn’t care. His mind was completely focusing on casting a high-tier spell with no regard to his injuries.
“O Lord of Stars who glistens over the universe. Daytime has yet to end thanks to thy sunlight while nighttime is never lonely thanks to thy moonshine. Darkness will eternally be beautiful with thy starlight and the sky will radiate with twinkling stars. Please heed my request and descend to the mortal world. Dance of the Star God!”
Montra was a spell caster who excelled in seizing the best timing through his mastery of Magic Delay. He usually cast a high-tier spell before the battle and accelerated the last part of the incantation when he wanted to use it. It sounded easy to perform but it was actually extremely difficult. Using Magic Delay on high-tier spells was troublesome and prone to failure. The spell would fail as soon as the user stopped concentrating on it.
Right now, there were only three players in Monster Soul who could use high-tier spells in a solo fight, and Montra was the best of them all. For the record, the second rank belonged to Ginny—who relied on the dual swords to shorten the incantation—and the third one was Bluebird, who learned only short-incantation spells. He disregarded the spell’s power, relying only on their attributes.
The sky became brighter as the stars above shone brighter than usual despite it being daytime. They were shaking and rotating like they were dancing, dropping from the above like rain.
The stars stopped in mid-air before exploding into numerous illuminating needles that scattered everywhere.
Asava darted to Vlad—who had just used a large attack and was full of openings—and used his infiltration art to escape, leaving only a trail of blood behind.
Montra stored his spear in his system window and investigated their trail. He found a previously-prepared hole there and speculated that the two assassins must have prepared an escape route in advance.
Montra didn’t know that Asava had snatched the Gem of Catastrophe from Revin. The gem was buried under a thin layer of snow at first. However, with intense clashes and explosions between both sides, the Moon Amethyst was lost and remained somewhere under the land of snow, waiting for someone to pick it up.
Montra teleported himself back to the guild headquarters. He healed his body with Infernee’s spell and rushed to his private room located underground.
He had no time to waste. Every second from now on must be spent effectively.
Opening the door, Montra saw Revin and Kawin waiting inside with worried expressions. The two of them jumped at him as soon as he entered.
“Montra! Are you safe?! How are you?” Revin was anxious.
“Kimon won’t be messing with us for the time being. Time is precious. Let’s split up and do our work.”
“You won against them? Against Kimon?” Kawin asked, finding Montra’s response unreal. Kimon’s existence was like a horror story for members of the association.
“I relied on items and in-game skills, so I was able to hold my own against them. They escaped before I could kill them though.” Montra didn’t want his two friends to know about Grand Deity’s Breathing, including the fact that he was going to die. He planned to tell them when everything settled.
“Wow. So cool, pal. Even Kimon had to flee with their tails between their legs.” Revin showed a cheeky expression.
“Stop it, Revin. This is serious. The final week is important. Do you remember your duty?”
“I know. I’m going to Zhongsuyuan City, right? Having a nice chat with Lone Wolf. You can rely on my eloquence, friend.”
“Mine is Siaferia City, handling Cross. I don’t think he will listen to me though,” Kawin added, showing that he also remembered his assigned task.
“Correct. I will be staying here. All three main cities belong to me, but I will set it up so you are both acknowledged as the city rulers. As long as you don’t leave the cities, my Lordship will be beneficial to you.”
Montra’s Lordship was the Lordship of Protection. His comrades, excluding himself, would get a 30% increase in overall stats as long as they were within the city he conquered. This buff was decisive, especially for powerhouses like Kawin, Revin, and the Warlords.
The reason Montra selected this Lordship was that he had anticipated the importance of having a city. The world of Monster Soul was soon going to become more dangerous. Without territory, just surviving would be harsh. On the other hand, with him having the three main cities, he would only have to defend them and the number of his opponents would gradually decline.
“You two should go immediately. As for me, I will go to meet the Goddess as soon as I have finished my meeting with Zazae.”
“Eh? Do we have to be so hurried?” Revin tilted his head. The original schedule was for Montra to meet the Goddess in the next three days.
“The sooner, the better,” replied Montra.
“Okay, then. Let’s split up. See you again when the war ends, friends.” Revin nodded.
In order to minimize the risk that their cities would be raided behind their backs, the three of them had discussed and agreed to always remain inside their cities no matter what. Protecting the city was their first priority.
“See you again,” Montra replied while he stared at his friends’ faces as they teleported away. He tried to engrave their smiling faces into his memory as he wasn’t sure he would get a chance to see them again once he told them he was going to die.
There is a saying that death is just like a long sleep. Montra didn’t know whether that would be the case for him. Could death simply be his long break? In any case, knowing the time to die somehow made things easier for Montra. From now on, he would focus only on important tasks and handle them to the best of his abilities. When his end eventually arrives, he could calmly embrace it without any lingering regrets, because he would have done everything he had wanted to do.
Montra opened his system window and found that there was a new message from ‘Game Master Joshua.’ He deleted it immediately without even reading the subject of the mail. Nothing was more important than the new association that he would create with his blood, flesh, and life.
“Come in, Zazae,” declared Montra. The door then opened as the strongest Dragon Warlord stepped into the room.
wow, i cant believe montra would go that far. hopefully he is able to get cured somehow.
Chapter 270: Achieve the Impossible
Zazae approached and knelt down in front of Montra, who asked him to stand up and explain what happened in Zhongsuyuan City.
Zazae stoop up and removed his hood, revealing a big scar on his face.
Seeing it, Montra was reminded of Zero, the one who created this scar.
After some discussion, Zero was made aware of Montra’s final objective and agreed to join the Heavenly Dragon Guild. Naturally, Montra was still wary of Zero, as he seemed to only care about finding his old friend in the game. Even so, it couldn’t be denied that Zero was among the few who understood him and agreed with Montra’s method.
When Zero died, Montra received an automatically generated email set to send upon his death, and somehow felt like he lost something. He felt as if he had lost someone who understood him, who was also one of his greatest friends and foes.
Now that it was his turn to die, he could understand why Zero was that self-centered. A human’s lifespan is a limited resource. It is each person’s choice to live conservatively or to the fullest.
“Sir Montra... Are you listening?” Zazae could feel that Montra had stopped paying attention.
“Ah, sorry... My mind wandered to other things.”
Zazae didn’t find it strange. Montra was the guild leader, and he worked hard without much time for rest. In fact, he had never seen Montra resting before. He could say that Montra was his role model who he worshipped, so he wanted to reduce his workload.
However, realizing that he had just made a mistake in the mission, Zazae felt disappointed in himself. He quickly told Montra what had happened in order to not waste any more of his leader’s precious time.
This morning in Zhongsuyuan City, a cloaked Zazae was walking among many people in the shadows of the pine trees. After the Five Dragon Warlords raided the gathering party and the emergence of the Emperor Rank monster, the city became more strict in scanning people coming in and out.
Still, with the war event edging closer with each day, every faction naturally wanted more money. Through both bribing and his disguise, Zazae could easily pass through the gate and step foot into the city.
The Victorious Wolves Sect’s weakest link was the inner structure of the guild. Most guild members were people who shared the same idol rather than feeling like they belonged in the guild. The guild was more like Lone Wolf’s Fan Club rather than an actual faction. Thus, most members couldn’t be entrusted with important tasks. In fact, even if a guild core member ordered all of the members to assemble, the number of people showing up would be less than half of the total guild members.
Zazae followed the instructions given to him by Montra to get to his destination. He attentively counted the number of pine trees that he had walked past and stopped his feet once he reached the twenty-fifth one. His sudden stop caused a person behind him to bump against his back.
“Ouch. I’m sorry.” The one walking into him was an ordinary-looking young man.
Zazae wasn’t wearing a mask or covering his face right now. Regardless, no one would be able to tell he was the strongest Warlord since he had never showed his face in public.
“No problem. I’m sorry too,” Zazae replied flatly while the young man bowed his head to him once again before leaving.
Zazae turned left and walked into a narrow alley leading to one of the main streets. For the record, Zhongsuyuan City had two main streets intersecting at the middle of the city like a plus sign. There were many alleys, some wide and some narrow, throughout the city. If one looked at the city from the sky, they would see that the city had a layout similar to a chessboard with many rows and columns.
Zazae sensed a subtle cold wind blowing past him once he stepped into the alley, exactly as Montra had said. He walked to the end of the alley before turning right at the last crossroad. Then, he walked past three alleys on his left and entered the fourth one. He felt another chill once he entered. The feeling was exceptionally clear since Zhongsuyuan City was a tropical city.
The air in front of him blurred for a brief moment. People were still walking on the street but no one could see him. At the same time, he couldn’t touch anyone and they also couldn’t touch him. This indicated that he had passed through the Soul Gate, the door leading to the Lost Qi Kingdom.
The layout of the city was exactly the same as Zhongsuyuan City. Zazae walked to the center of the city, which was an empty square outside of this place. Inside, however, the space was taken up by a natural spring.
Zazae jumped into the spring but his body didn’t become wet. The surface of the spring seemed to be just a sheet of paper. His body slipped through the spring and eventually arrived in the Lost Qi Kingdom—the unnamed netherworld existing between the borders of life and death.
It was the most mysterious city in the New World. Only two players, though actually three, had visited this place.
For the record, the necessary condition that had to be met in order to arrive in the Lost Qi Kingdom was luck. On the other hand, the Lost Magic Kingdom required knowledge while the Lost Android Kingdom required bravery.
The method to enter this place was actually not difficult. The visitor had to consecutively pass through two Soul Gates existing somewhere in the city. The location of Soul Gates was random and could change without notice. Although Soul Gates were called gates, they bore no real form or substance. The only way to determine whether one had passed through one of these gates was the chilling wind that suddenly blows past.
Even though entering the city required great luck, the quests in Monster Soul always had alternative methods of completion. The other method to enter the Lost Qi Kingdom was for the visitor to be invited by someone who had entered before.
That was precisely why Montra had to find Zero. Unlike what he made others speculate, he didn’t seek the secret of dual-energy type, but the secret route to enter the Lost Qi Kingdom.
For the record, Zero was the very first player to step into this mysterious city by pure chance. It was also the city where he had sublimated his racial ability.
Zero, the Shadow Emperor, was originally a member of the horse race before he stepped into the Lost Qi Kingdom. Like the rest of the main three cities, there existed many quests for a player to complete. Quests found in the Lost Qi Kingdom were about the essence of qi—Fusion. Upon accomplishing a certain quest, Zero’s racial trait was fused with the soul race. His Red Horse species evolved into the Nightmare species—a being that was half-horse and half-evil spirit.
As a side note, the other two who had visited this city were none other than Montra and—unbeknownst to anyone else—Shueria, who had been given a hint by Crow.
Zazae’s gaze wandered around the city. The atmosphere was lonesome, giving him a chill on his neck. There were broken weapons scattered on the ground. The city’s silence made Zazae’s footsteps echo. In addition, his ears could detect senseless rattle through the blowing wind.
Arriving at a certain alley, Zazae finally found what Montra had told him he would find. In front of him was a jade plate floating next to a gem.
Zezae seized the jade plate first as instructed. As soon as the plate was within his hand, the silence intensified. The city was so silent that he could even hear the sound of his own heartbeats.
With the ambient noises deafened, Zazae could hear the sound of footsteps in a place where he was supposed to be alone. He quickly extended his hand toward the gem. However, his palm was suddenly shot as a hole appeared in it.
An arrow made of psychic power had penetrated his palm. Its power wasn’t lethal but it was soundless and formless, shot from a long distance away.
Another arrow hit the gem, making the rainbow-colored opal fall to the ground.
Zazae rushed to the gem without minding the injury on his hand. Nevertheless, the mysterious sharpshooter seemed to have predicted this. More arrows continued to strike the gem, sending it sliding along the ground.
Zazae was getting worried. His opponent specialized in long-range attacks while his attack range was from up close to a short distance away. As his enemy wasn’t in his sight, he couldn’t do anything but become their prey.
Dragon Domain — Fallen Kings.
Zazae went into combat mode. Unfortunately, his Dragon Domain would take some time to power up and start noticeably affecting his enemy. He unleashed the power of the Skeleton Dragon Scales as the black fog slowly shrouded him. He then activated Cruise Breeze through Frost Demon Qi in order to materialize ice walls made of qi above him for blocking incoming arrows.
Zazae rushed toward the gem while the ice walls properly blocked two arrows. However, before he could be relieved, he suddenly sensed psychic power from all directions as hundreds of small arrows curved and flew at him from his sides.
Zazae’s qi excelled in speed and offensive ability, just like Zero’s. As for his magic, it had the trait of weakening any opponents in melee range. Thus, he wasn’t good at defending against long-range attacks. He wouldn’t survive against the arrow rain if he kept trying to get the gem.
Exerting his qi, Zazae stomped the ground and pulled cement plates up. He then utilized Cross’ object-controlling psychic power to form walls on both of his sides before strengthening them through his qi and accelerating his speed, sprinting after the gem.
Zazae’s hand was very close to the gem when it magically flew out of his reach as if it was being controlled by an invisible hand. Inspecting the gem, Zazae found that some kind of qi was enveloping it. He looked to the right and noticed Beluga standing in the distance, a playful smile on his face. The gem’s weird movements must be the work of his Distant Little Whale.
Zazae didn’t dare to underestimate Beluga. He concentrated his power into a metal ball attached to his chain through the Ray Assemble qi technique before throwing it at his target.
Beluga was still calm. He materialized invisible hands to parry the metal ball.
Suddenly, a black blade penetrated Zazae’s back, precisely avoiding his bones and stabbing through his heart.
Zazae lowered his gaze to the blade in his chest, yet it vanished the moment the thrust was completed.
Elso jumped back. The black sword was in his hand, and red blood could be seen on the blade.
Everything was a trap. Zazae realized it at that moment. In a direct confrontation, these three—Nednapha, Elso, and Beluga—wouldn’t be his match. However, Beluga had planned ahead by having Elso hide under the gem and lure him to target Beluga before dealing a finishing blow to him in an instant. Their teamwork and preparation were on a different level compared to Lone Wolf and Cross. As expected of the Mountain Thieves League, the guild that the Heavenly Dragon Guild had never managed to eliminate despite their long enmity.
Beluga pulled the gem into his hand with his qi while staring at Zazae’s collapsing body.
“No need to pretend to die, Zazae. You have the Dragon Heart skill. We won’t be tricked.”
Zazae slowly stood up. Light flashed from his body once and every wound disappeared.
“Does Montra think he is the only smart guy in the world? The reason why a small guild like us has survived for so long is because we are attentive to details, more so than other guilds. Montra is a danger to my guild. Our men check the race rankings every hour.”
Zazae glared at the gem in Beluga’s hand. “You don’t understand the importance of that gem. It may be damaged if I’m too heavy-handed. Give it to me and I will spare your lives.”
Beluga exerted more strength in his grip. “It’s you who doesn’t understand a thing. This Gem of Catastrophe will disappoint me if it breaks so easily. Yet, even if it does, it won’t be a loss for us at all.”
Zazae was anxious. Beluga was right. The gem belonged to the Heavenly Dragon Guild. Even if it was destroyed, it wouldn’t cause any problems for the Mountain Thieves League. On the other hand, the Heavenly Dragon Guild would lose a priceless asset.
“If you really want this gem back, tell Montra I’m willing to trade. Give the Mountain Thieves League this city. We can discuss after that.”
“That’s such a scam!”
Beluga cleared his throat. “Ahem. I’m the Mountain Thieves League’s leader. Did you forget?”
Naturally, Zazae didn’t have the right to decide. In fact, he wouldn’t agree to Beluga’s offer even if he did. Conquering the three main cities was part of the master plan. Their value couldn’t be compared to the gem.
With how the conversation was developing, Zazae decided to threaten Beluga. “You still have a chance to choose. The world of Monster Soul is about to undergo great change. Return the gem to me if you still treasure your guild. Do so and I will act like nothing happened here today. You have been warned. The future of your Mountain Thieves League depends on your very next action.”
“Oh? You are telling me the value of this one gem equals the entirety of my Mountain Thieves League? Indeed, I have to decide this carefully. Um...” Beluga soon shook his head. “Unfortunately, we are just a small guild. We are only interested in what is actually in front of us today, not later. If you won’t accept my offer, then that’s it. The future is uncertain. I’m content with what’ve we stole here. We will get nothing from counting our chickens before they hatch.”
Beluga and Elso took Crystals of Connecting out simultaneously. Zazae could do nothing when the two disappeared.
Without the gem, the guardians of the city soon woke up from their long slumber. Several souls appeared from nothingness. Even so, Zazae was safe from them since this city had already been unsealed and fallen into Montra’s hands.
To unseal Zhongsuyuan City, the jade plate was required. Meanwhile, to conquer the city, the challenger had to survive being chased by the city’s guardians for thirty days. They would deem the challenger qualified to become their ruler only when they couldn’t manage to kill the challenger within that time frame.
The guardians were monsters of the soul race. They were living incorporeal matters made of qi that could phase through solid objects. All physical attacks, and even some magic, would be useless against them. Even though they weren’t exceptionally powerful, they were the kind of opponents that were difficult to cope with, especially considering their numbers. They could follow the challenger everywhere and continue their attacks every night until the sun rose. Thus, the city-conquering quest was extremely harsh and bothersome.
That was why Montra relied on a strategy to accomplish the quest. He utilized the Nightfall Opal, one of the Gems of Catastrophe with the conceptual ability of ‘Sleep,’ to handle the guardians.
As soon as he initiated the quest, Montra activated the power of the gem to make every monster fall asleep. After that, he only had to wait until thirty days had passed before entrusting Zazae to finish the quest. Even though this move was risky because he had to leave the gem behind, he was quite confident that no one aside from Zero could enter the mysterious city.
Unbeknownst to Montra, after Beluga had listened to Sila’s warning about the Impossible Quest from the Goddess, he was the only one in the group to take this matter seriously.
Given a clue, the first thing Beluga did was assess the situation. Montra had to conquer all three main cities as a prerequisite of the quest. Thus, Montra or at least his representative had to go to the remaining two cities in order to unseal them.
Dividing his forces wasn’t something Beluga could manage given the small size of his guild, not to mention how most members had to handle logistics, trading, grinding levels, and protecting the guild headquarters. It was also a waste of time to assemble all of the members for an event that may or may not happen. As such, he could only watch over one city.
Grea City or Zhongsuyuan City—It didn't matter which one he should protect since either of them was the correct choice. In the end, Beluga selected Zhongsuyuan City due to three reasons.
The first reason was that Grea City was managed by Cross while Lost Grea City was managed by Sila. The Wicked Union was loosely established, so sending his people into the two cities could cause unnecessary conflict.
The second reason was similar to the first. Zhongsuyuan City was considered to be equally split between Lone Wolf’s guild and the Mountain Thieves League. Beluga had been on good terms with Lone Wolf for quite a while and the guild headquarters was located nearby. In addition, most of his guild members frequently went in and out of this city. They naturally had a good relationship with the residents.
The last reason was the higher chance of success. Zazae might think that he was unlucky to be spotted by Beluga and tracked down. However, the fact was Beluga had his men following every single stranger. Zhongsuyuan City was a trading city. Most players were merchants or middlemen who were entering and exiting the city regularly. Sure, there were some genuinely new faces, but this group of players wasn’t difficult to distinguish. Players who visited the city for the first time would naturally be interested in the items sold in every corner of the city or at least get lost occasionally. On the other hand, Zazae confidently walked down the street with a destination in mind. There were only a few dozen of such players who appeared in the city each day. It was totally possible to tail every one of them.
Having heard the entire story, Montra sighed. “Good grief. I understand now. The opposing side was Beluga. This guy is even trickier to cope with than Cross or Lone Wolf.”
“Is Beluga that strong?”
Montra explained, “Regarding fighting ability, Beluga is undoubtedly weaker than those two. So he is surely no match against you, someone who has defeated the other two in one fight before. Even so, his personality is tricky. It isn’t that he is exceptionally smart but that he is good at using people, gaining favor from them. He also knows when to attack and when to retreat. In the last war, the Mountain Thieves League was the only guild aside from our guild that survived until the end of the event. If I have to describe him in one sentence, I would say that he is the person with the most flexible mind.”
Montra was secretly worried. Just a single gem in Beluga’s hands was going to be more terrifying than the two gems in Sila’s hands. The reason he thought this way was because he knew Beluga walked a path similar to his, one all about achieving the impossible It was even the Mountain Thieves League’s motto.
“Tell everyone to assemble,” Montra declared after breaking his silence. Zazae nodded and started sending messages out, instructing all of the members to gather in the guild square.
Chapter 271: The Loser
Finally, the fateful day had come. Montra had promised his guildmates that on this day, the world of Monster Soul would be changed forever. He also told the people in the association to pay attention to this moment, because it would represent the future Wulin Masters Association that he planned to create.
The Heavenly Dragon Guild’s great square was capable of holding half a million people. Usually, this place was used for sparring matches or assembling members to announce important news.
Three hundred thousand members were currently standing there, awaiting their leader’s arrival. It could be said that this was the greatest assembly since the founding of the guild.
After a short while, Montra appeared on the stage in front of them. He looked down at the large number of members who would act according to his commands.
“Have you all followed the instructions I issued?” Montra asked this without raising his voice, yet everyone could miraculously hear his question.
Naturally, it wasn’t like everyone would directly answer his question one by one. Montra had split his guildmates into two main groups. One was the gamer group while the other consisted of the people related to the Wulin Masters Association.
The representatives of each group—Trick Master and Paiyuan—stepped forward.
Trick Master was the first to report. “We have done as instructed, sir. Everyone has trained themselves to their limits. Every single one of us is now at Level 1,000 Marquis Rank.”
Paiyuan followed, “We are the same. My team has defeated several small bandit groups with bounties on their heads and focused on increasing our levels as instructed. Every single one of us is now at Level 1,000 Marquis Rank.”
To be honest, Paiyuan didn’t understand Montra’s objective. With their numbers and their martial strength, they could trample on anyone and everyone. However, Montra simply ordered them to grind as much as they could and hunt down small groups of bandits throughout the Main Continent. The only time they were mobilized was when Montra was rushing to find Zero and ordered everyone in the guild to search for him.
Montra nodded. “Good. You’re all still wearing the Cloudy Baby Dragon Rings, right?”
Everybody raised their arms, showing the white rings—the S-grade item that was distributed among them for free—on their fingers.
“I told everyone that there will be a day when you have to die due to this ring. Remember?”
Every member nodded. They clearly remembered the time when they were given the rings. Montra revealed to everybody that the ring had a restriction in that, while they level faster, they will peak at Marquis Rank and won’t be able to reach the next rank. He also told them that they had to die at least once after they reached Marquis Rank. Regardless, it was a negligible price to pay in order for them to reach Marquis Rank—the rank that only a few players, mainly powerhouses like Lone Wolf, Zero, and Montra, had reached at that time.
At first, everybody intended to remove the ring as soon as they had reached Level 1 Marquis Rank. However, Montra ordered them to continue grinding their levels. He told them he would be the one who decided when they removed the rings.
“Soon, I will do something. Everyone will die and your level will fall to Level 990 Marquis Rank. However, trust me that dying at this time is the best timing.”
There was some gossiping, though there was no commotion since they had already predicted this day would come eventually. Removing the ring would open up the chance for them to reach Lord Rank in the future. It was an inevitable action to take.
Since there was no objection, Montra took three particular gems out in front of him. Each of the gems shone ever so beautifully. Their beauty easily captivated everyone’s gazes.
“Cloudy Pearl, Crown Ruby, Sky Emerald,” Montra said, “It’s time.”
The Cloudy Pearl’s appearance had changed from its original shape. There was a gold ring attached to it. No, rather than calling a ring, it was more accurate to call it a bracelet due to its size. It was an abnormally giant ring the size of a bracelet. Its name was the Cloudy Mother Dragon Ring, with the ability ‘Link.’
The other gem next to it was the Crown Ruby—a red jewel that used to be embedded on the forehead of a certain Lord Rank monster living in Skull Mountain Pass. With its conceptual ability, ‘Expansion,’ Asura could summon an endless skeleton army, bringing chaos to everyone living near the mountain pass.
Montra had to waste a ton of resources before he could subdue Asura and seize the gem from it, successfully putting an end to the legend of ‘The Mountain Pass of No Return.’
Afterward, he heard rumors that the place had been turned into a bandit’s hideout before something strange happened, leaving the place even more deserted than before Montra took the gem.
The last one was the Sky Emerald—the one he considered the most powerful Gem of Catastrophe with the conceptual ability of ‘Awakening.’ He got it from defeating the Golden-Eyed Great Eagle at the top of the Sky-Breaking Canyon, the territory of several bird monsters. For the record, most monsters living in this place are capable of flight, making it difficult for players to cope with them.
Montra had to get serious without allowing it to awaken its full potential using the gem. His method might seem cowardly. However, there would be no way for him to win against it if he let it become an Emperor Rank monster.
Together, three hundred thousand players dispersed as light at the same time. Montra seized the moment right before they disappeared to activate the Sky Emerald. The three gems flashed intensely.
The Sky Emerald pulled out the power from the two remaining gems to the last bit of their energy. Normally, Montra would obtain 1% of the experience points that they had accumulated since they wore the rings. However, the experience points were increased thanks to the ‘Expansion’ ability of the Crown Ruby.
Sadly, that would still be far from enough.
For anyone to reach Level 1,000 Emperor Rank, years of grinding would probably be required. However, Montra intended to accomplish it in a day.
Gaining an insane amount of experience points might be impossible if he worked alone. However, with three hundred thousand players working together, even the impossible could become possible. Montra used the two gems—Cloudy Pearl and Crown Ruby—to acquire a monstrous amount of experience points before activating the Sky Emerald to elevate them to another level.
The first two gems broke into pieces. It was as Montra had expected. The Sky Emerald’s ability was too powerful. True, it could squeeze the full potential from any object. However, it was only temporary. After the forceful extraction, the object would be broken beyond repair.
The consequence of him using it on Nixroth, the Left Arm of the Sealed One, was that his left arm only maintained its ultimate form for fifteen minutes before permanently breaking. Its ability that granted him slots for ignoring cooldown and strengthening the performance was also lost. At the same time, all three of its item skills—Fangs of Nixroth, Arrow of Nixroth, and Night of Nixroth—that he would’ve gotten after it reached its final form became unusable.
Even a powerful item made by the Creator himself still broke after Awakening was used on it. Therefore, Montra naturally didn’t dare to use the Sky Emerald on his signature weapon.
However, these gems were different. They weren’t necessary for mankind. He didn’t mind abandoning them if he had to.
An absurd amount of experience points poured into Montra’s body. At long last, the impossible had finally become reality. Inspecting his system window, Montra found that all of the criteria for meeting the Goddess had been met.
You have reached Level 1,000 Emperor Rank. You have obtained the right to perform another Dragon Ritual. Please find more details in the Dragon’s Record.
As the first player to reach Level 1,000 Emperor Rank, you have obtained the title “The First Emperor.” It bestows you with an additional 50,000,000 maximum health points, qi points, magic points, and psychic points.
The Dragon’s Record could be found and read in the Sacred Temple in the Dragon Kingdom. Nevertheless, Montra didn’t care about it in the slightest at this moment. He swiftly teleported himself to his private room and entered his hidden chamber.
In front of him was the Realm-Crossing Gate—the miraculous invention that he had poured a lot of resources into. He had first obtained a blueprint for it from Orpheus, spent two years building it, and then even more time than that searching for the gems. It had taken him a while to get to this point. The day when he got to use it had finally arrived. It might break after his journey, but every drop of sweat that went into creating it would be worth just this one use.
Montra examined the remaining gems. He only had four of them left. A lot of them had been lost over the course of his master plan, and he knew he would lose more of them soon. That was why he originally planned to collect all eleven of them.
Montra placed the Illusion Sapphire, the Universe’s Eyes Amber, and the Hell Jade on the control panel. He inputted some commands and the dimensional portal soon emerged on the other side of the gate. Undoubtedly, the destination behind the portal was the Land of the Goddess, the place that was, until now, unreachable by any player.
Still, the size of the portal was incredibly small. Only a finger would be able to pass through it. Montra was aware that this was the most that the gems could do. He had tried to open it before and the result was the same. It meant that place had some kind of strong protection.
Nevertheless, Montra had gone too far to turn back. He declared, “Sky Emerald, Awaken!”
The Sky Emerald shone a bright light, which the other three gems absorbed. The size of the portal soon enlarged, along with faint cracking sounds from the gems.
Montra hurriedly jumped into the portal while using his magic power to pull the Illusion Sapphire and the Universe’s Eyes Amber into his hand, leaving the Hell Jade behind.
The portal soon closed. Montra quickly inspected the gems in his hands.
Except for the flawless Sky Emerald, the two other gems had lost their light and were cracked all over. Montra had to press his hands on them to prevent them from breaking apart.
‘As I thought. It would have been better to collect all of them. I’m not sure if I can accomplish the quest at this rate.’
The place where Montra was standing on right now was a beautiful, serene meadow. The green scenery seemed to spread to the end of the world as there was nothing but a skyline to be seen. In the center of the meadow, there was a peaceful small house and two people—a polite-looking man and a refined woman—sitting at a tea table next to the house.
The woman must be the Goddess who no one had ever met. The Goddess of Mankind who was kind to every human in Monster Soul.
“Please sit down, Mister Montra,” The man welcomed him.
Montra approached the woman and handed her two of his gems as he said, “Humanity.”
The quest had one last trap spoken of only in a myth where, upon her first appearance before a human, the Goddess would listen to only the first word that the human spoke. Montra would fail the quest if he was careless and talked about other things.
The woman received the two gems and smiled at Montra. Soon, the gems broke into pieces.
Montra hurriedly explained, “I have successfully delivered them to you. I’m not responsible for anything that happens afterward.”
“You are correct. Thank you for delivering them to me.” The Goddess nodded and turned to the man on the table. “Joshua.”
Montra followed her gaze. “You are Joshua, Ramiel’s Master, right?”
“My title is actually the Game Master,” said Joshua. “Altia, Ramiel, and Sebastian call me Master though. I’m the sole Game Master of Monster Soul, in charge of several roles. The important one is the Sealed One.”
“I take it that you are also a member of the Wulin Masters Association, correct?”
“You can say that. By the way, do you want to talk about the quest reward or the association first? You are a stubborn person, smart but inflexible. You believe in your decision and are uncompromising about it. If I don’t explain, you won’t understand your current situation and the importance of your life. Otherwise, you wouldn’t sacrifice your life for something as trivial as the Wulin Masters Association while you can achieve much more.”
“The Wulin Masters Association is the entirety of my life. Its future, be it bright or dark, is directly tied to me. Nothing in my life is more important than it,” Montra refuted.
“We’re going to talk about this first, then.” Joshua turned to the Goddess. “Cynthia, excuse us. Can you make some tea for us?”
Montra sat down and silently looked at the warm tea being poured into his cup. He didn’t touch it, however. Meanwhile, Joshua slowly sipped his own, seemingly intending to make Montra wait.
Joshua started explaining. “The Elders’ mistake was appointing you to be the Wulin Lord successor when you were eleven. That was too soon. As an eleven-year-old kid, you were supposed to live in your imagination, have your own dreams, spend time doing silly things, and search for what you love to do. Instead, given such a heavy responsibility, you started pushing yourself to your limits. You obtained a degree in medical science at sixteen. Aside from that, you also studied in several fields. Although you don’t have degrees for those fields due to not taking the exams, your knowledge is no less than those who have graduated.”
Joshua seemed to know him too well. Still, Montra didn’t care.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not special. In this era, we can study more efficiently using a brain scanner to dive into a virtual world with a different flow of time. Anyone can do the same if they try. I learned that knowledge only for the sake of administering the association in the future,” Montra explained, “What are you really trying to say?”
“What I want to say is... you are capable of much more. On the other hand, the Wulin Masters Association has to stay in the darkness. Your desire to make it public is a futile attempt.”
“I will show that it’s possible. The association has both manpower and skills. The fact that we are an underground organization only hinders our movements. There exist tons of helpless people out there in the world. We can grant them a chance to lead a proper life by teaching them martial skills and profound ethics. Then, they will become our manpower to help others.”
“Unfortunately, the Wulin Masters Association isn’t the kind of a charity organization that you hope it can be. As an organization, its first priority is surviving. What you intend to do will make the association an easy target. This is the actual reason why the Elders changed their minds about you. You are a clever person. I will point out why they want you to lose.”
“Continue,” Montra flatly replied.
“I have to start during the time of the last Wulin Lord, the Demon God, who completely banned the Hell’s Gate Islands’ business and put an end to all of their activities, as well as any others outside of Kimon who did the same. At first, everyone, excluding Kimon, agreed with his decision. However, as the years passed, they all discovered that the decision was a serious mistake.”
Montra was clueless about how this story related to him. “Mistake? How?”
“Mister Montra, what method do you think the association relied on in the past in order to stay in the shadows? What had to be done to prevent secrets from getting out?”
Montra was an intelligent man. Given the clues, he could come up with an answer right away. “Assassination. The dead can’t talk. It’s the best way to ensure that a secret will remain a secret.”
“That’s correct. Without Kimon and with killing activities being banned, secrets were gradually leaked. In the end, due to the last Wulin Lord’s kind heart and soft personality, the enemy was born. They are someone who wants to exploit and take advantage of profound arts. Regrettably, before we became aware of their existence, they had already grown too strong to the point where we are no longer capable of taking them down.
“With that lesson, the Elders tried to pick a ruthless person with great leadership ability as the next Wulin Lord—someone who doesn’t mind using dirty tricks so long as they defeat their target. The first candidate was Pumin, the Sword Prodigy. However, he disappeared. The next candidate was Hu Xian, the Tiger God, but he refused to take the position as he said he had something more important to do.”
Both of them were incredibly famous people of the underground world, yet there had been no clues about their whereabouts for a very long time, leaving their names as legendary figures of the martial world.
“You are their third choice. You are the son of one of the four Island Masters. In addition, you are the son of the Elder Sanon and also the main disciple of the Sky Dragon Dojo. It could be said that your social status is special.”
“I’m not special.”
Montra’s eyes were expressionless. He was a normal person, yet people tried to say he was special most of the time. Still, that word was nothing but a lie.
Exactly as Joshua had said, he was the main disciple of the Sky Dragon Dojo. However, Sanon chose to impart his personal profound art, Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, to his friend rather than him. Similarly, even though he was the son of Heaven’s Heiress, the one who got to inherit her dark art was another person.
In the end, the only arts he learned from his father were the arts that were taught to all of the dojo’s disciples regardless of talent, Coiling Dragon Steps and Sky-Rending Dragon Fist. At the same time, the only thing his mother gave him was the pain he felt in his heart each time he thought of her.
This world was unfair to him, so he would change it. He would change the association into an organization that was fair to everyone. He would cancel the inheritance system. There would be no dojos, no exclusive profound arts, and no discrimination. Everything would be free to access by anyone and everyone.
It would be an ideal association where everyone was special, and nobody was special.
Joshua continued, “Completely denying Kimon is your decision that the Three Elders don’t agree with.”
Joshua showed a mild smile. “Obviously, it’s because of the original goal that the Hell’s Gate Islands were created for. Kimon’s main duty is eliminating any threats to the association by any means necessary. Your mistake is that you don’t know that the association is currently in a grave state. This is why the Elders ignored the last Wulin Lord’s wish and seeked Kimon’s cooperation. Your declaration about wanting to eliminate Kimon conflicts with their goal. They want you to exploit your relationship with Heaven’s Heiress to reconnect to Kimon. Or, at the very least, trick Kimon to clash against the association’s enemy and make them both suffer.”
Montra gave the explanation some thought. The points that Joshua raised were things that he had never considered. Exactly as Joshua had said at the very start, although Montra was smart, he was like a spear. As he thrust forward, only his target mattered. He would overlook other things around him.
Joshua added, “You underestimate the Three Elders’ cunning side far too much. Even if you win the war, they still have a method to make you lose. It’s a method that you have never considered.”
“What method?” Usually, Montra would like to come up with an answer by himself. However, listening to Joshua, he couldn’t help but be curious.
“The condition required for becoming the Wulin Lord and the names of the Wulin Lord candidates are all verbal. There is no physical evidence. So, even if you win the war, they can just disappear and people will have no way to confirm that you’re qualified to become the Wulin Lord. When that time comes, there will be only your and Sila’s claims that conflict against each other. After that, what do you think will happen if Sila shows the three profound arts of the Three Elders that belong exclusively to them?”
Joshua continued. “Humans are creatures that tend to avoid hardships. The people of the association will believe in what they see and choose the side that will be safer for them. They will side with Sila, who the Three Elders clearly favor. With this method, he will become the Wulin Lord even if he fails to accomplish the mission.”
Montra showed a stiff expression. “I was destined to be the loser from the very beginning...”
Chapter 272: Joshua’s Ultimate Wish
To be honest, Joshua hoped for Montra to let go of the burden known as the Wulin Masters Association. That was why he was willing to spend his time explaining each of his points in detail to Montra. However, he knew his efforts were in vain when he saw Montra’s expression change from a stiff mask to a mysterious smirk.
Joshua had no one to blame but himself. He should have known that it was pointless to persuade Montra. Montra was the kind of person who would die if it meant he wouldn’t lose. The more people told him that his goal was impossible to achieve, the more eagerly he would work to achieve it.
To not give up no matter how many obstacles there were before him or how hard it got—That was Montra’s magic. It was the only magic he had, unlike what Sanon told Sila.
“I have gone too far to back off. There will be a method if I keep looking for it. Hopefully, I will not have to rely on your method.”
Joshua raised his brows. “Do you know what method I’m going to suggest?”
Montra nodded. “I didn’t at first. You said it was a method that I would have to abandon my life for, but the war event will happen in the game, so that didn’t make any sense. However, that changed when I heard that the association is in danger. If it’s really true that the association is in a grave crisis that makes the Elders favor Sila so much, that means they have no time left. After Sila and me, there will be no other candidates. As long as I can make it so that the Elders can’t choose Sila, they will have to select me even if they don’t want to.”
“Mn. I actually don’t want Sila to die. Nevertheless, regarding the value of life, your life is more important than Sila’s. I want you to stay alive. I promise I will help you in any way I can. My only condition is that you have to become an Independent NPC.”
Listening to the proposal that would fill anyone else with joy, Montra frowned. If he got help from the Game Master, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that his victory would be set in stone. Still, his expression was icy cold. A proposal that seemed too good often came with deadly poison.
“Honestly, what do you want from me? Why do you want me to survive?”
“Or do you want to die? I did some calculations. You only have 360 hours left in real life before you die. That is about two weeks. It isn’t enough for you to make any significant changes.”
“Using Grand Deity’s Breathing was my own decision. I am ready to accept the consequences of my choice. Dying in two weeks? So be it.”
Joshua smiled. “What if that wasn’t exactly your own decision? What if I told you it was my trap? I know how you think, so I sent Altia to warn you about Grand Deity’s Breathing before your fight against Kimon. Thus, when you were about to lose, you were reminded of it and activated Grand Deity’s Breathing’s final stage. Your weakness is your stubbornness. Hearing that I warned you not to use it, you were more eager to use it and prove me wrong. As it turns out, you have fallen right into my trap.”
Montra was listening silently. He couldn’t read Joshua’s motive behind his polite expression at all.
Joshua continued, “It was my intention to let you scan Grand Deity’s Breathing’s scroll into the game. In fact, it was none other than me who put it in the Wulin Masters Association’s Profound Library. Don’t you find it strange that a dark art just so happened to fall into your hands when you were searching for a method to compete with Sila’s qi art? More importantly, Monster Soul is a game that many members of the association play. There is obviously a program for preventing people from bringing dangerous profound arts into the game. Despite this, you could do it so easily. Have you ever wondered why?”
Montra was still unable to guess Joshua’s motives. In any case, if what Joshua said was the truth, that would mean he had started falling into the trap a while ago. It was, in every possible way, a distasteful experience. He didn’t like it at all.
“Let me ask you again. What do you want from me?”
“Withdraw from the selection. Let Sila win, and I will help you live longer. If you refuse, I will tell the Three Elders about your remaining lifespan. With this information, they will have the option to prolong the crowning ceremony even if you win. It is exactly as you said, Mister Montra. There are no other candidates left. When you die, Sila will eventually become the Wulin Lord as he will be uncontested.”
Montra stood up as he started laughing wildly. “Hahaha! You have a way with words, but you’re no different from all the others! Sure, do it! Everyone wants me to lose. You are just another one of them. I don’t care. I will still win if I can end Sila’s life. Between the man who is already dead and the man who will die in two weeks, the Elders will have no choice but to crown me.”
Looking into Montra’s unyielding eyes, Joshua let out a big sigh. The hard way didn’t work with Montra. It seemed he would have to explain more for the young man to understand him.
“Please calm down and sit down first. I was too rash just now. It seems I will have no choice but to explain some matters to you. Otherwise, you won’t understand why I’m doing this. The bottom line is I want your cooperation. I’m sorry for not being mindful about how I obtain that. Please listen to a bit more of my story. I guarantee that it will be beneficial to you.”
There was a mournful feeling flashing in the depths of Joshua’s eyes when he was looking at his wife.
Montra wasn’t a kind person, but his business in this place had yet to end. Thus, he sat down in the chair and poured tea into his mouth. The Goddess then refilled his cup.
“Thank you for your attention,” Joshua said. His tone was sincere.
“I just haven’t gotten the reward from the quest yet. Until then, you’re free to say whatever you want.”
Joshua showed a weak smile. It seemed he had to be more honest in order to get the cooperation he desired. “To tell you the truth, I’m not quite a member of the association, though my close relative is. I’m a scientist, and my primary field of research is the human brain, brainwaves in particular. Allow me to ask you something. What would you think if I told you that Monster Soul is just one large research project?”
Montra nodded. “That sounds plausible. I always thought this game is too lawless. The money conversion rate is also too high. True, gold coins are hard to obtain, but it’s not that hard. Everything will make sense if I think this game is actually a research project with a large amount of funding.”
“Correct. Every player and monster is a test subject in my experiment, examining the change in brainwaves when placed in certain situations. The high money conversion rate is just a means to lure people to play the game. No matter how harsh the game is, there will always be some players interested in the game so long as the reward is high enough.”
“What is the topic of your research?” Montra cut to the chase. If he knew the research’s objective, he would naturally know Joshua’s motive.
However, Joshua avoided the question by continuing his explanation. “Studying human brainwaves has helped me discover many things. I also got to complete Elder Mora’s request to copy every profound art into a database. Even if something serious were to happen to the association, all we need to do is burn the Profound Library to keep our secret. Every word of each profound art had already been recorded on the server.
“Still, those things I discovered were merely byproducts of this research. All this time, I’ve had but one purpose, one goal. Cynthia.” As he said this, he interlocked his fingers with his wife’s.
“What do you mean?”
“She may be here right now, but the truth is… my wife passed away many years ago.”
Montra sighed as he looked at Joshua, his eyes filled with disappointment. “I have read the research paper about people who felt deeply connected to AIs. There were even those who had fallen in love with AIs or deceived themselves into thinking that AIs are living beings. What people like you really need is a psychiatrist. No matter how real an AI seems to be, it is just a chunk of code.”
Joshua shook his head. “I understand what you mean, but you are wrong. Cynthia is not an AI. She has her own free will. It’s just that she can’t log out.”
“Impossible,” Montra interrupted, “The dead can’t use a brain scanner.”
“Scientifically speaking, there is no ‘not possible.’ There is only ‘not possible yet’.”
Montra’s eyes showed curiosity. “Intriguing. This is a huge discovery if you’re telling me the truth. But... I have never heard such a thing before. Could it be that you didn’t announce your scientific success?”
Joshua showed a mocking smile, directed at himself. “A huge success? No. This is still far from my ultimate goal. At the very most, this is only halfway.”
Montra knew Joshua would continue the explanation soon, so he kept his mouth shut, waiting patiently.
“Actually, this was a discovery made by my big sister’s research. She found the method to convert memories into digital data. Even the dead can forever stay alive in a virtual reality world so long as their digital signature exists. It’s one of mankind’s ultimate dreams since the ancient era—Immortality.”
Montra’s hand on the teacup came to a halt. Joshua’s story seemed completely absurd and impossible, yet he had a feeling that Joshua wasn’t lying.
He turned to observe Cynthia. Her expressions and actions were so realistic, no different from a living person’s.
“Cloning is easy in this era. However, what makes a person who they are is not their physical appearance, but their memories. That was why I told you I have only reached the halfway mark. I’m looking for a way to convert her digital data back into memories and place those in her clone, perfectly reviving her.”
Montra’s teacup remained in his hand, unmoving. He looked at Joshua with mixed feelings. However advanced technology became, reviving the dead had always been a mere pipe dream for humanity. What Joshua wanted to do was play God, bestowing life through science. Most people would call him a mad scientist or a crazy man for pursuing this ridiculous dream. Montra was not one of those people though.
That was because Joshua had already made significant progress toward his goal. He had gone further than any scientist before him. Additionally, it was a method that even Montra himself thought might be possible after listening to it.
“This is why there are many dead people living in the world of Monster Soul. Some are Independent NPCs while some are in slumber due to incomplete memory conversion. Just so you know, some special monsters such as Ramiel, Sebastian, and Altia were actually real humans who died when they were young. I raised them in this world, making them think this is the real world. There are many more cases, including patients with bizarre brainwaves. They are all subjects of my research for the sake of achieving my ultimate goal.”
Having listened to this long explanation, Montra still couldn’t see how he was related. Thus, he asked his question for the third time.
“What exactly do you want from me? How am I related to your research?”
“From my findings, I have a theory that each person is born with some kind of talent. That is why some people can do a particular task relatively easier than others. Although people often call it aptitude or specialty, I prefer calling it talent. Each person has it the day they are born and lose it when they die.”
“You are talking about MacDougall’s experiment? The weight of the soul?”
‘The 21 grams experiment’ refers to a scientific study surrounding the hypothesis that souls have physical weight, based on the fact that one of the test subjects lost about 21 grams in weight at the time of their death for no reason. However, because the weight loss was not reliable or replicable, the findings were regarded as unscientific. Scientifically speaking, it was argued that the missing 21 grams could be the result of the subsequent rise in sweating caused by the deceased’s lungs no longer cooling blood.
“Similar, though I believe that it’s more about a brain’s latent ability. I let the system analyze unique patterns from each player’s brainwaves and replicate it in their in-game avatar. Sila was the first to get my attention. His brainwaves are quite special. It has the ability to stimulate the brainwaves of anyone he interacts with.
“The findings I got from him helped my research progress a little. There was at least one person who woke up from her coma thanks to him. She was a girl named Bow. Moreover, there is one more who is showing signs of waking up. His name is Narin—the one who you know as Zero, the Shadow Emperor.”
“How is Zero right now?”
“He is currently in a temporary hibernation state. I can’t do much more than maintaining and monitoring his condition.”
Hearing that Zero was still alive, Montra felt quite relieved. “Continue. How do I relate?”
“You will know soon. Regarding Sila, I used to think that he might be able to make my wish into reality since he had the talent to stimulate patients into waking up from comas. However, I missed the point. That wasn’t my objective. It’s just another byproduct of my research. What I aim for is a method to revive the dead, not wake up a person in a coma.
“And that is where you come in. I used to believe that you didn’t have any talent at all. It wasn’t until you met Sila that I noticed my mistake. Your brainwave remained stable even when Sila’s brainwave was stimulating yours. There was no change at all. That means your talent is the ability to remain unaffected by stimulation. It’s the talent that I would have never noticed if not for Sila.
“A huge hurdle of inserting human’s memory into a clone is the unstable nature of the brainwaves. If I can study your brainwaves in more detail and replicate them, we will have a chance to revive the dead, including Cynthia.”
Joshua said this with the voice that failed to suppress his excitement. It was natural. His ultimate goal was closer to completion than ever. It was now within reach.
“I have one more unused special brain scanner left. If you agree, I can transport you to it in order to study your brainwaves in greater detail. I guarantee your safety. In addition—”
Montra raised his hand, stopping Joshua from continuing. “I have heard enough.”
“Does that mean you’ll cooperate?”
Montra shook his head. “No, I won’t. Give me the quest reward already. It’s time for me to go back.”
Joshua’s eyes trembled. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. “Why? Don’t you understand that this is such a big moment in scientific history? If we can achieve this, that will mean we can overcome God. That was why I said you didn’t understand your importance. Don’t let something as trivial as the Wulin Masters Association—”
“It’s you who doesn’t understand,” Montra interrupted, refusing to listen to Joshua any longer. “Humans can’t become God. Memories are precious when they are memories, not something you convert and exchange. True, your research is amazing. However, it’s not something you should attempt. Growing old and dying is the beauty of being a human. The only flower that can bloom forever is an artificial one. Birth, sickness, old age, and death are humanity’s blessings that add color to the world. They aren’t something you should try to destroy just because of your personal desires.”
Killing intent could be sensed from Joshua as the teacup broke into pieces. Montra hurriedly jumped backward and summoned his magical spear into his hand.
For Joshua, it was understandable when Montra declined his offer before he explained his plan. However, turning away even after knowing the truth and the importance of his research? It was unacceptable.
Indeed, humans can’t play the role of God. Nevertheless, that was the law in the real world.
In the world of Monster Soul, Joshua was a being above God. Montra had no way of inflicting even the slightest injury on his body.
“Maybe I have been too kind to you, and that makes you unafraid of me. Maybe I have to give you a taste of despair first before we can come to an arrangement.”
Joshua stomped his right foot on the ground, which caused Montra’s left arm to shake in accordance. He frowned as he realized that Joshua was about to use the Right Leg of the Sealed One—the most powerful weapon in Monster Soul.
Kararus—the Right Leg of the Sealed One—exerted its power once it heard Joshua’s command. A black spear measuring two meters, with a red tassel wrapped around its tail, protruded from the ground.
Joshua grabbed the spear with one hand. His eyes were as sharp as an eagle’s.
Montra knew that Joshua chose a spear for their duel as Joshua was aware of Montra’s proficiency in spearmanship.
A battle between spear masters often ended in an instant. Montra didn’t dare to be careless. He immediately brought out the power of Grand Deity’s Breathing at the very start of the match.
Chapter 273: Way of Humans
Darkness enveloped the space around them at a terrifying rate. Joshua’s bottomless power was so overwhelming that it even blotted out the light coming from the sun. His qi, magic, and psychic power eclipsed and removed all color from the scenery.
At that moment, Montra felt he had fallen into the deepest abyss. He was like a small fish, lost at the bottom of the sea where it was so dark and suffocating. It was difficult for him to even move his finger.
Montra unleashed the power of Grand Deity’s Breathing. His body became incredibly stable as he didn’t even breathe. In fact, he had already become a part of the void as he had abandoned his humanity and entered the state of semi-godhood.
Joshua’s voice could be heard amidst the darkness. “Grand Deity’s Breathing is not a combat art. The more you exert its power, the sooner you will die.”
Montra maintained his composure. Joshua’s words were in line with the warning written on the first page, stating that Grand Deity’s Breathing wasn’t invented for combat. Nevertheless, even when Montra had reached the final stage, he still didn’t understand the Tiger God’s intention.
“What makes Grand Deity’s Breathing a dark art is not its price for practicing it. That’s what people misunderstand. It’s a dark art due to the art owner’s objective. In fact, this art has no downside at all... Death is what the art owner sought from the very start.”
A profound art that was invented just to make the practitioner die? Although Montra was smart, he had no idea why such an art existed.
“You may think it’s ridiculous. But I have seen Hu Xian’s memories... it’s an unbelievable story. It even helped my research a great deal. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at that time. Otherwise, Cynthia would have been resurrected by now.”
Joshua’s words made Montra wonder. What was it that the Tiger God had encountered? He was the embodiment of legends of the martial world, so Montra was naturally curious about his story. It was his desire as a profound practitioner, especially as it was a tale related to the person who created the very art that was sapping his life.
“I will tell you if you win against me... No, you won’t believe me even if I tell you. Even I initially dismissed it. I will let you see a part of Hu Xian’s memory then. Agree?”
Montra didn’t give a reply. He couldn’t afford to divide his attention anymore. He tightened his grip on his magical spear and unleashed most of his power.
A battle between spear masters often ended in a single move.
God’s Realm Spear Art — Spear Returning Isanami.
God’s Realm Spear Art only has ten moves, with each being based off a different mythological spear. They were Spear Readying Brionac, Spear Brandishing Sattaloha, Spear Shaking Gungnir, Spearless Longinus, Spear Pulling Gáe Bulg, Spear Throwing Mokkhasak, Spear Thrusting Shemao, Spear Dropping Eight Trigrams, Spear Spinning Rhongomyniad, and Spear Borrowing Izanagi.
Despite not being in the ten listed moves, Spear Returning Isanami isn’t a new eleventh move. The heart of Sky Dragon Dojo is the shape of a circle. Every art from each disciple always adhered to this concept—be it Kawin’s bare-handed art, Revin’s sword art, or Montra’s spear art.
The tenth and final move—Spear Borrowing Izanagi—was Montra using the other nine moves simultaneously in a sequential manner, cycling endlessly. On the other hand, Spear Returning Isanami was him reversing the sequence, cycling to the very beginning and abandoning all of the moves. Only the foundations of spearmanship remained. Although the move’s name sounded grand, it was ultimately a mere simple thrust with no following move.
“Rhythm of Martial Radiance.”
Except for Joshua, the abyss and all it held gradually vanished from Montra’s perception. Even his trustworthy spear no longer mattered as it was released from his hand. The only spear Montra wielded was his own mind. His body became relaxed and his mind was no longer pressured by the tension.
The moment Montra’s power weakened, Joshua attacked. Joshua’s black spear thrust forward as soon as Montra’s magical spear dropped to the ground. The red tassel ignited, seemingly becoming a comet.
Just this single thrust alone could easily allow Joshua to be hailed as the Spear Prodigy of the current era.
Coiling Dragon Steps.
Montra slightly shifted his center of gravity, creating a subtle afterimage. Compared to Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps, which excelled in freedom of movements throughout a battlefield, Coiling Dragon Steps was the Sky Dragon Dojo’s basic movement art suitable for fighting in limited and narrow space.
Meanwhile, Montra’s Triple Sky Energy, which was strengthened by Rhythm of Martial Radiance and Grand Deity’s Breathing, poured out from his body and solidified, manifesting a mystic armor covering him. Coupled with his movement art, Joshua’s spear slipped through Montra’s side, missing its target by a miraculously narrow margin.
Sky-Rending Dragon Fist.
Sky-Rending Dragon Fist was the other basic martial art from the Sky Dragon Dojo, though Montra had never used it after he had developed and adapted it into Heavenly Destiny Fist. The art’s prominent point was its simplicity that allowed anyone to easily learn it, though it suffered from lacking the power to be a decisive move.
In fact, the three arts that Sanon personally invented—Coiling Dragon Steps, Sky-Rending Dragon Fist, and Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws—were all arts that focused on subduing an enemy rather than dealing a finishing blow. It was the reason why he was considered the weakest among the Three Elders.
Ironically, it was none other than Sanon’s arts that were more recognized and widespread. It wasn’t strange considering the current modern era. In the world of today, the arts that focused on self-defense were more welcomed than aggressive arts. Thus, Sanon’s social standings in the normal world and the underground world were as different as heaven and earth.
In the mundane world, Sanon was one of the most famous martial art masters. The arts he taught were renowned regarding self-defense. With them, even a woman could defeat a savage man. He was acknowledged by several people. However, in the underground world, he was forever the third.
Montra’s hands caught Joshua’s spear tightly as if they were dragon’s claws. His eyes gleamed powerfully. “Counter Spear!”
Despite his young age, Montra was considered a spear master. Disregarding inner force and considering only his mastery of the spear, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Montra’s spearmanship was already in the realm of a prodigy. He sent Joshua’s spear backward to attack the holder, thrusting the end of the spear handle at Joshua’s underbelly—the location of a human’s dantian.
The counterattack was neatly done. The impact of the strike pushed Joshua back three steps as Montra’s left arm vibrated again. The area on Joshua’s body where the attack hit generated black ripples.
Joshua opened his right palm and a potion Montra didn’t recognise appeared on it. The ripples that were as dark as ink flowed along his arm and entered the potion. The clear red liquid turned black in a matter of seconds before the vial shattered.
The wound on Joshua’s body seemed extremely negligible, as if to suggest that the momentum of the attack that caused it was a joke.
“...The Torso of the Sealed One,” muttered Montra.
“That was close. Even that Emperor Rank spear wouldn’t give me a scratch, but the cursed spear materialized from Kararus is another story. I would need either Illuminus, the right arm, or Aurikga, the heart, to be able to block it. Sadly, I don’t currently possess those. I was lucky, as my torso could still negate the curse attached to the attack.”
Montra took a look at his palms that were now completely black. Not only could he not move them, but it also felt like they were on fire. He had to constantly suppress the heat using his magic power.
Joshua took out another identical potion and tossed it to Montra. “Blood of Bahm. Use it. It can cure any kind of curse.”
Montra used his magic power to support the potion in mid-air. A few drops of the liquid flew out from the bottle and landed on his palms. After a short period of time, his hands returned to normal.
The atmosphere became milder, yet Joshua’s surging power was as powerful as ever. His inner force capacity was as vast as the sky and as deep as an ocean. The quantity was too immense to believe that it to belong to a human. In any case, Montra felt a strange feeling coming from Joshua’s inner force.
It didn’t seem real, yet its power was no less than the real thing.
“You must have sensed the abnormality of my inner force.” Joshua smiled as his black spear vanished. “One of my failed research results.”
Joshua circulated his inner force slowly, in order for Montra to sense it easier. “There was a time when I had a hypothesis that someone with stronger inner force was healthier and lived longer than those who were inferior in the same regard. Therefore, I relied on my knowledge of human brainwaves to create an artificial inner force. Even I, who have never cultivated inner force, can become strong with it. Still, it isn’t what I seek.”
Montra understood why Joshua said it was a failed result. Joshua’s goal was a human’s resurrection. Thus, no matter how complete or how huge his findings were, they would be nothing but failures if they couldn’t achieve his goal. Montra knew because he and Joshua were the same.
The scary part was the gigantic size of the scope of the research regarding human brainwaves. Montra guessed that Joshua must have experimented and tried tons of trials and errors, in every possible aspect—be it in the field of medicine or the military. Montra had no idea how many other failed results Joshua had done, though what he was absolutely certain of was that each of them would possess the possibility to greatly shake the world.
“You have never lost the most important person in your life. There is no way you will understand my feelings,” said Joshua.
Montra replied to Joshua’s words with a glare. Who in the world had never lost their loved ones? However, his resolve would never waver no matter how Joshua tried to persuade him. He would gladly fight to the death, but he would never give up.
Realizing the meaning behind Montra’s gaze, Joshua released a sigh and canceled his killing intent.
“I have lost,” admitted Joshua, “Rather, I don’t see how I can make you give up. Sila must be the only one who can make you lose.”
“I have no desire to give up, no matter who I’m up against.”
“I doubt it. You two are the stars of the new generation, but you are both still tiny fish in a very big pond. There are countless experts in the world, all over the globe. There are many people who can defeat you two, but they are also older and have more experience. You wouldn’t think you had lost even if you were defeated by them. However, if you lose against Sila who is inferior to you in every way, he will make you feel that you’ve lost, both physically and mentally.”
Noticing that the fight had ended, Cynthia stepped between the two men. She deliberately stood in front of Montra to block Joshua from bullying him.
“Mister Montra. Please tell me your wish. If it isn’t too much, I will make it come true.”
“Are the Goddess’ ability as universal and ambiguous as the Gems of Catastrophe?”
“That’s right. However, no matter what you ask for, every player in the game will also receive the same wish. This is the reward of the Impossible Quest.”
Montra had already expected this, so it didn’t come as a surprise. “In that case, please get rid of the protection mankind receives from you.”
“Eh?” Cynthia, the Goddess of Humanity, tilted her head as she couldn’t understand Montra’s request. She turned to Joshua, who only shook his head as he didn’t understand it either.
The only one who anticipated this was Pumin, though he refused to explain it to Joshua. He simply told Joshua that he would do the same if he were in Montra’s shoes.
“Can you do it?” asked Montra.
“It is certainly possible, though I don’t understand your intentions. May I hear why?”
Montra looked past the Goddess’ shoulder. His words were directed at Cynthia, but he wanted Joshua to hear it as well.
“The game creator’s views on humanity are too negative. Humans are not that hopeless. Although we have short lifespans, we possess the potential to do great things as well as bad things. We can’t truly blossom if we are always sheltered. On the other hand, we will shine brighter the greater the stakes. I just want a world where humans have to depend on each other.”
Joshua smacked his fist against his palm. “I see! I have never understood before, but I do now. You founded a great guild enforcing justice, yet some of your members were evil. As it turned out, that was your intention from the start.”
Montra replied, “That was the backup plan in case I failed to accomplish the quest.”
“You created a guild with a hidden agenda. The Heavenly Dragon Guild has a good reputation while the high-ranking members and you, the guild leader, are notorious. Actually, this is extremely conflicting. Even so, that was exactly your plan. If Sila didn’t enter this game, you would have split your guild into two fractions. The first would be led by you, someone with a notorious reputation, attracting all of the negative reactions to you. Meanwhile, the other side would have been led by members who had never done anything wrong like Revin or Kawin. You planned to orchestrate the whole battle, playing both the hero and the villain.”
Montra had planned since the start that he would play the game for only two years. He intended to use the war to create a peaceful era after he left. He was like Cross in a sense that he didn’t mind if his reputation became tainted.
Being pushed into a crisis that they couldn’t overcome alone—the Demon Lord Montra who was so ruthless and showed no mercy, people would have no choice but to join forces under Revin and Kawin’s lead. In the end, justice would prevail.
By sacrificing his own reputation, Montra would succeed in washing away the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s notorious fame and making it a good example for a powerful organization to fight against wrongdoers.
It was his way to unite people, showing how he was capable of bringing the association into the bright side of the world. What Montra was doing in the world of Monster Soul was no different than what he would do to the Wulin Masters Association when he became the Wulin Lord. The Three Elders were absolutely right about this.
“However, with Sila entering the board coupled with his past behavior, you changed your plan. Instead of making yourself the Demon Lord, you pushed that role onto Sila,” Joshua remarked.
Finally understanding Montra’s objective, Cynthia exerted her mysterious power to confiscate every privilege she had given to humanity. From now on, humans and monsters would be equal. No, humans were actually foreign creatures in this world belonging to monsters in the first place. Thus, the world of Monster Soul would be even crueler for them.
“May I ask you a question?” Cynthia said as Montra was about to leave.
“Although you have witnessed the power of the Gems of Catastrophe, you alone among the gem holders have never used them to harm other players. Why?”
“They are the gems that the Goddess created for the sake of protecting humanity, so I assumed you wouldn’t want them to be used against humans. I wasn’t sure if my anticipation would be right or wrong since only you know the correct answer, so I tried to avoid doing something that would make you upset. Moreover...”
“Is there another reason?”
“...I am going to create a society where humans live by relying on themselves and their human companions. Using the gems would make people think I’m relying on items. Take Sila for example. True, people fear him, but the true source of this fear is the gem he possesses. Society in the future will be one where humans can take pride in their own abilities. If such a society is created by the gems’ power, the hard-earned peace will crumble as soon as the gems are lost.”
Montra’s body was fading away as he had already obtained the quest reward. Joshua spoke to him, “Don’t you want to ask me something else?”
“No.” Montra shook his head. “I already have too many things to think about.”
“There is one thing I have to tell you before it’s too late, though,” Joshua continued as he opened his system window, “About the association’s enemy.”
He sent an illustration of a dead tree, along with some other information, to Montra’s system window. It seemed to be the symbol of a certain organization. Montra had never seen it before. The illustration looked familiar though.
Montra’s body vanished, but he still heard Joshua’s departing words in his ears. “Be careful. It’s highly likely that one of the Three Elders or at least someone very close to them within the association is a traitor. The day when the new Wulin Lord is crowned will be the very day they strike.”
Chapter 274: The Day of Changes
Indigo’s restaurant was temporarily closed so Sila could use it as his headquarters. He stared at his system window with a stern expression. Although his quest had ended successfully, the overall situation was still dire for him.
Sebastian approached Sila. “We guessed incorrectly, thinking Montra would invade Belacia City. Thus, strengthening the city’s defense turned out to be pointless. On the other hand, he used some unknown means to conquer the remaining two main cities simultaneously. The current overall situation is extremely grave for the Wicked Union.”
Sila read the intel that Julia had summarized. It was a report that covered the massive changes that had happened to the game on this exact day. Just this day alone overturned more aspects of Monster Soul than all of the previous days combined.
The first piece of bad news was that Sila had lost ownership of Lost Grea City. Even worse, all of the investments he made in their laser-based weapons production were seized along with the large stock of prepared weapons. The weapons that he intended to use against the Heavenly Dragon Guild sadly turned into their assets. It was the worst business deal.
The second piece was about his own reputation. The name Sila had become a hot topic, but not in a good way. All of his sinful behaviors in the past, some of which were real while others were fake, were dug up and revealed through many sources and media. At least half of the players playing Monster Soul hated him with everything they had. Each revelation was properly supported by well-prepared evidence.
The scary part was that each claim had a shade of truth.
There was an article about Sila being the cause behind the Werewolves sieging the Town of Beginnings, killing many players. He then pretended to be a good man trying to help players survive. On the other hand, it was none other than the Magic Emperor Montra and the Two Monarchs who were the real heroes, though the three were above showing off. Still, the truth will always be the truth as no amount of lies can cover it. It was finally revealed to everyone.
The Slime Rock was strong evidence. In fact, it also connected to the destruction of the Pillars of Wind throughout the Main Continent. As the truth came to light and many guilds finally found the perpetrator, they declared that they wouldn’t allow Sila to breathe the same air as them.
There was also a video of the battle in Grea City, during which Sila’s appearance was no different from a monster’s. He looked evil and insane, killing players without batting an eye. There was also the scene of him killing innocent merchants in a market, who Sila honestly didn’t remember killing. The battlefield at that time was so chaotic. It wouldn’t be weird if some innocent players couldn’t leave the city in time and were killed by Dark Self along with the Heavenly Dragon Guild members.
There was also a recording of when Sila was so vicious, burning the player named Thief555 in the middle of a harbor while everyone watched, not caring about their trembling gazes.
In addition, there was the scene of him standing next to Rex in Belacia City. The two of them were obviously on friendly terms. People speculated that Sila, the Monster Emperor, was the one responsible for making the Single-Horned Dragons become fiercer lately. It was rumored that some dragons even exited the forest and killed nearby travelers.
There were many more revelations, though some were greatly exaggerated.
Players throughout Monster Soul now held deep hatred toward Sila. They even formed an alliance in order to drive him from the game.
Smaller teams had their own advantages. The Wicked Union had fewer members so their mobility was better. Their maneuverability was quicker and harder to predict.
Still, bigger teams had their own strengths. The Heavenly Dragon Guild had a larger number of members. They were better for massive assaults, performing different tasks, employing battlefield tactics, and spreading rumors. Even a lie could turn into a truth when thousands of people spoke with one voice.
With the number of people under his command, Montra could easily manipulate the flow of rumors. He only had to say a word and let the three hundred thousand guild members repeat after it. Even if the rest of the players in the game didn’t believe the rumors, they would at least have some doubts.
He who controls information, controls the world.
Montra didn’t try to profit from the unsealed cities he conquered. The Heavenly Dragon Guild even provided assistance and gave discounts to players visiting the cities. The products sold in the cities were incredibly cheap, especially the laser-based weapons. More importantly, the energy generators they sold were higher in quality compared to when the city was under Sila’s management. This topic made those who had purchased Sila’s products become furious, calling him a greedy profiteer. Not only had he sold low-quality products, but he had also profited wildly.
Noticing what Sila was reading, Sebastian commented, “We held a monopoly on laser-based weapons, so we were free to set a high price. Unfortunately, now that Montra has confiscated the products in what used to be our warehouses, he bears almost no cost of production and can sell them cheaply. Not only does his action improve his reputation, but people will also blame us.”
“What if we want to reconquer the city?” asked Sila.
Julia, who stood behind her master, reported, “The quest condition that Player Montra achieved was killing the Android King, along with all Android Soldiers within the entire city, by himself and with a single attack. To conquer the city, Master will have to perform a greater achievement or kill the city’s ruler within the city. However...”
Sila frowned. “However what? Is there still more?”
“Yes. It is a known fact that Player Montra had the Lordship of Protection, granting his comrades a 30% increase in overall stats so long as they are within his territories. However, as he has reached Level 1,000 Emperor Rank, his Lordship evolved into an Emperorship. His current ruler ability is the Emperorship of Guardian Spirit, granting a 50% increase in overall stats instead of the previous 30%. Additionally, so long as at least one ally remains in a territory belonging to him, it cannot be conquered, not even if you kill the assigned ruler.”
“This will be very troublesome. How can we tell ordinary players apart from the Heavenly Dragon Guild members?”
“Would you like to try Kimon’s method?” Asava’s voice entered the room, followed by three people. Himeko was still disguised as Vata. Asava’s appearance looked a little dirty. The last one was a boy who Sila had never met before.
Sila was about to ask the boy’s identity, but Himeko introduced him before he opened his mouth. “This person is Vlad. The one you saw before was his marionette.”
Sila’s gaze remained on Vlad quite a while before shifting to Asava. “What method?”
Asava explained, “Assassination jobs are sometimes like this; the client can’t tell us the target’s appearance or even identity. Thus, We have no means to identify the target. In your particular situation, Sila, all you need to do is declare your intention to raid the city soon, though you don’t need to specify the date. You then ask the unrelated parties to evacuate the city, telling everyone that you will kill anybody in sight once the raid commences. With this done, the city will have no one left but your enemies.”
“That won’t guarantee that everyone will leave. Some players who aren’t associated with the Heavenly Dragon Guild might stay behind just because they hate me.”
“In that case, we Kimon will also consider them our enemies. We delivered a warning, yet they didn’t listen. Therefore, it’s no longer our responsibility. As they are hostile to us anyway, it’s better for us to get rid of them altogether.”
“If we do that, the public will hate us more though,” commented Julia.
“I will impart you some wisdom from Gambled Disaster that I have inherited from previous generations.” Asava showed a mild smile. “Chance and timing are similar to the cards in your hand. Having more cards means you have more chances while playing the cards right means you utilize the timing well. My dark art centers around the belief that there is always more than one way to kill a target. Everything has its own edge. You just need to play the right card at the right time. Being a benevolent person means you have an easier time gaining trust from your target. On the other hand, being a villain means you can terrorize a target and weaken their morale. Such are the cards in your hands that have already been dealt. If you fold now and hope for a better hand, you will waste both the chances and the timing currently available to you. Wouldn’t it be better to take advantage of your current situation? In gambling, even a bad hand can win the round if the player is smart enough.”
“What do we have?” Sila asked, “And what is it that we lack?”
“We have fewer people on our side, but each of them is skilled, being able to fight against a hundred foes. The problem is we don’t have a suitable hideout. Belacia City is a good city, but the enemies know it too well. It’s better to assume that they even know about the secret route. Moreover, even though the environment is harsh, the area is quite clear and vacant, suitable for them to set up camp around the city and cut off our escape.”
A flash of wisdom lingered in Sila’s eyes. He said, “What about the Island of Beginnings? That place is where the Slime Kingdom located. There is an ocean surrounding it, so they won’t be able to surround us.”
Asava clapped his hands. “Splendid! This is unexpected, even for me. The Town of Beginnings has never participated in the war event, so our enemies will least predict this move. Belacia City is in the very north while the Town of Beginnings is in the very south, so they will have a hard time mobilizing their troops. Since we don’t have a main city, they will expect us to attack them out of desperation. Unlike their expectations, we will instead focus on defense.”
“What about Grea City?”
“It is worth trying to reconquer it before the war event starts. Think of it as a mock invasion. The soldiers who have been through the war are different from those who haven’t.”
Sila nodded while Sebastian added that they could strengthen Belacia City’s defense by having the Dwarf King implement traps and alerts. Those who stepped foot into the northern region would be besieged by armies of monsters.
“How about Revin?” Sila asked Asava.
“Unfortunately, we failed. Montra personally came and used some strange art that was as bizarre as a dark art. He managed to rescue Revin. We get a souvenir though.”
Asava tossed Sila a pendant made from the Moon Amethyst. Although he had thrown it away at first, Vlad’s last attack sent it toward the sky, and Asava snatched it after the duel. He didn’t intend to use it on himself though. It was just that Vlad was severely injured from Montra’s attack, so Asava needed it to heal him.
“Recovery?” Sila inspected it, but Burapha rushed into the room before he could understand it further. Asava instantly vanished while Vlad jumped and hid on the ceiling. Only Himeko remained, as she was disguised.
Kimon didn’t normally reveal their true faces in front of people, though Sebastian and Julia were exceptions as they were only a monster and an AI.
“Big Brother Sila, bad news!” Burapha seemed restless. “Ah? Miss Vata? You are here?”
“What is happening, Burapha?” asked Sila.
“It’s citizens from Belacia City. They are losing their temper. They said they killed a dozen dragons, yet they didn’t get any items in return. Someone investigated and found that you were doing your racial quest. They are wondering whether it is related to why dragons didn’t drop items. People are upset, claiming that they were used as tools.”
Sila frowned. His racial quest shouldn’t have had anything to do with the drop rates. His past experience with Jundtrathep, Burapha, and Bluebird told him that much as everyone normally got their hands on dropped items. He pondered about what had happened for a while before a smile appeared on his face.
“Ah, I think I can guess the reason. It’s no big deal, so leave it to me. Burapha, if you have nothing to do in the city anymore, please go to Bluebird. Tell him I will follow shortly. I need one more day to prepare.”
“Sure.” Burapha nodded.
Lafesta City was open for visiting. Anyone would be able to infiltrate with a simple disguise.
Once Burapha left the room, Sila turned to Sebastian. “Please help me find Lookhin, Mamon and Clute. Bring them to this room.”
Sebastian left to search for them. Meanwhile, Asava and Vlad reappeared and continued the conversation.
Sila ordered, “Himeko, you go to Grea City and memorize everything that will be helpful for the raid. We will invade it in this last week before the war event begins. With my Lordship, those who die by my hands won’t be able to participate in the war event.”
Himeko started to notice leadership qualities in Sila. In just a few days, he had changed so much that he was like a completely different person—be it his strength, mentality, or even character. She said her goodbyes, then left for her assignment.
Asava shook his head. “Lafesta City is Montra’s den. If you go there yourself, it will be like placing your head in the tiger’s mouth. You shouldn’t go.”
“That what others would normally expect, right? At the very least, now that he has reached Emperor Rank, I will have to gauge my strength against him once. If I can’t return... then that’s it. That will prove that this is the furthest I can go and that I don’t have what it takes to become the Wulin Lord.”
The image of the Wulin Lord in Sila’s mind was the strongest person who always emerged victorious no matter how dire the situation was. He got this image from Lucifer.
“What do you want us two to do?” Asava asked while Vlad said nothing.
“Our plan regarding the Island of Beginnings is important. We will go there to study its terrain and consider the possibility of setting up our headquarters there. I also have to visit the Slime Kingdom in order to receive the quest reward for unsealing it, which will apparently help me fight dragon opponents.”
“There might be someone who still has a Crystal of Connecting linked to someone there. I will search for one immediately.”
“There is no need. I have an Invitation Card to the Slime Kingdom. We will go there together, then I will join Burapha and Bluebird in Lafesta City. You two should stay on the island. I don’t plan to have you join the raid to reconquer Grea City.”
“That’s good. We are more suited to being assassins than mercenaries.”
Sebastian led Mamon, Lookhin, and Clute into the room. On the other hand, Asava and Vlad needed time to make preparations, so they left and would wait for Sila outside.
Sila activated Evil God’s Essence, using the power of Monster Heir at a transcendent level.
“Whoever committed a crime, immediately confess! The punishment will become more severe if I discover it later!”
The three of them flinched and their bodies trembled as if they were kids being caught red-handed. Admittedly, Sila was surprised. He had thought the perpetrator must be Mamon. However, based on their reactions, it seemed each of them must have done something wrong or were at least hiding secrets from him.
Clute stepped forward. “I apologize. I didn’t think it would anger you so much...”
Lookhin transformed into her small sparrow form. She tilted her head, playing innocent. Apparently, she must have been influenced by Bluebird’s bad habits.
Meanwhile, Mamon whistled and feigned ignorance, refusing to make eye contact with Sila. “What do you mean? I know absolutely nothing. Do you have any evidence?”
Sila laughed inwardly, though his serious expression was undisturbed. He had been confident that the reason for the strange drop rates must be related to one of the three. Unexpectedly, all three of them seemed to be guilty.