Colossia City under the starry sky appeared to be calm, but the hearts of its denizens were beating fast, comparable to the drumbeats coming from the goblin army camped on the opposite side of the wall.
The goblins’ combined psychic power shot up to the sky, visible to the naked eye. The sound of their continuous stomping went along with the drumroll, heightening their morale and increasing their psychic power.
In emergency situations, each squad of the Shadow Army knew their responsibilities. They scattered to their stations in preparation for any orders from above. The only exception was the miscellaneous squad—also known as the 99th squad—that didn’t have any specific duties during a crisis. In fact, their main responsibility was to not bother other squads. They were only expected to help clean up after a battle.
Sila stood on the edge of the city wall. He observed the goblin army slowly marching on the horizon. With his qi-enhanced eyesight, he noticed that the army was unexpectedly well-organized. The goblins lined up, splitting into groups, with each one holding different types of weapons. There was even a group for carrying their battle standards and another group for beating their war drums. It wasn’t like Sila had never encountered a group of monsters before, but this marked the first time he ever saw such a disciplined monster army.
The truth was that goblins are sophisticated, cultural monsters—capable of communicating with humans, similar to elves. They had even established trade relationships with humans several years ago, so they were technically closer to humans than elves who liked to stay in their forest and rarely received human visitors.
Human-like monsters often have mediocre stats. They are considered mid-tier monsters. However, they have the ability to learn and are capable of implementing tactics instead of relying only on racial power.
Several squad leaders responsible for the assault were discussing their strategies on the edge of the city wall. Sila eavesdropped on their conversation and understood the difference between the Royal Armament Guild and the Shadow Army’s military systems. Back then when the Heavenly Dragon Guild invaded Grea City, Cross had the authority to command his members as if they were his own limbs. On the other hand, the Shadow Army was a gathering of mercenaries, so their discussions leaned toward splitting duties according to each squad’s specialty rather than issuing orders.
“My squad will handle this side. What do you think, Undine?” Wolfe, or rather Lone Wolf, pointed at a part of a city map.
“I don’t have any problem with that. However, we still don’t know how many monsters are out there. It’s too dangerous. If they have hidden reinforcements, we’ll be checkmated. I suggest we don’t pour everything we have into being offensive until we are quite sure that these are the only monsters we have to face. I believe it’s a lot safer for us to maintain our positions, fighting them in front of the city wall.”
“Why don’t we lure them inside and defeat them in the same manner we did against the Heavenly Dragon Guild?” Aqua proposed.
Undine was against the idea. “We mustn’t do that. Our previous raid was successful only because we caught the Heavenly Dragon Guild off guard. On the contrary, these goblins are small, agile, and aware of the city’s previous layout. We will have a better chance if we fight them in the open.”
“There should be a boss monster among them, right?”
Undine nodded. “Based on how organized they are, I’m sure there is.”
Aqua insisted, “If we break through their formation, get to their leader, and defeat it, mob monsters will naturally lose their morale to fight. I’m confident that my squad can get the job done.”
“That’s too risky. Haven’t you realized? The boss monster we’re talking about can control this many goblins without any errors. Its rank is surely not just Marquis. It already spells a lot of trouble if it’s Lord Rank. However, what if it’s Emperor Rank? Are you really confident that you can take on an Emperor Rank monster, surrounded by thousands of its minions?”
“My squad has only five members. Our mobility is top-notch. If each of us carries a Crystal of Connecting, we can always teleport back to the city if an emergency arises.”
“That sounds even more dangerous. Our opponents this time are psychic types. Moreover, I heard that goblin’s psychic ability leans toward item utilization. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some kind of Psychic Backtrack or the evolved version of it.”
Psychic Backtrack is normally an inspection skill, used to uncover the origin or previous owners of the targeted item. However, when combined with other psychic abilities, it might be able to extract more information. Players were well aware that the ‘scope’ of psychic power wasn’t something they should underestimate, especially when the users in question are high-level psychic-type monsters. Through the use of the skill, maybe they could even follow the target’s teleportation and directly enter the city.
This kind of uncertainty is what makes players tend to avoid fighting psychic-type monsters of Marquis Rank or above, especially without studying their abilities beforehand.
Everyone was paying attention to their system window, looking for goblin-related information. Sila did the same, prompting him to understand the worried expressions shown on their faces.
Goblin-related information, found in the public forum or even Blue Pigeon Guild’s exclusive network, was surprisingly lacking. They knew that goblins were psychic-type, yet the monsters had never shown their abilities against players. They also knew that goblins were capable of weapon creations, though their craftsmanship skills were extremely poor. The quality of the weapons they created couldn’t hope to compare to the armor made by the dwarf race or the accessories crafted by the merpeople race.
Based on the experiences of players who used to grind their levels through hunting goblins around the Sky-Breaking Canyon’s foothills, they noted that goblins’ psychic ability was plain and ordinary. In fact, it was as if they only possessed the Basic Psychic skill. This information was supposed to ease the minds of people of the Shadow Army, but it did the opposite.
The reason was simple. The psychic power emitting from the goblins camp was all but ordinary. This meant the information in their hands was unreliable.
Sila swept his eyes down the wall of text, and noticed the phrase ‘Written from a week of experience in the Sky-Breaking Canyon, by the Bluebird of Happiness’. Immediately after, he closed the window and looked for other information from a different author.
As long as Bluebird was the source of the intel, it was almost guaranteed that the news was completely false, mistaken in some vital way, or lacking a key piece of information. It was nigh-impossible to get the accurate valuable intel. Direct experience had taught Sila this many times.
“Colossia City isn’t suitable for defense though. The city walls aren’t even that high. The monsters can jump past it. Being offensive is better.” Another young woman, clad in a magician’s robe, expressed her opinion. Sila had never seen her before. She had ocean-blue hair that fell below her waist. Her stance and manner of speaking implied that she was a confident person.
“It’s exactly like Risa said,” added the 9th squad leader, or rather Saharat, Risa’s biological big brother. “Colossia City is essentially a city for passing through. Its defenses are poor. We’ll have better odds if we strike them first.”
It was the first time Sila got to encounter Risa. The glowing mana around her was pale in comparison to her beauty and grace. As expected from a woman who many referred to as “Lady Risa”. The brightness from her magic power subtly yet constantly vibrated the space around her, prompting Sila to squint his eyes.
‘Ah! I see. Her magic power is of an illusory nature. I have the skill to see through illusions, so I’m seeing this. The scene makes me a bit dizzy though.’
“What are you so afraid of, Undine? We must take some risks. You must enter the tiger’s den to catch its cubs.”
Undine pointed at the surging wall of psychic power. “Breaking through that? It’s beyond ‘some risks’.”
Undine naturally wasn’t a scaredy-cat, but he disliked high-risk factors. He only accepted jobs which he believed had a high chance of success. Accomplishing a job successfully was the pride of a mercenary. Evaluating whether their team was up to the task was a necessary skill for the leader.
“How about we attempt to negotiate with them?” Sila landed on the edge of the wall, joining the meeting.
“Oh, it’s Mister Bandit Gang Leader,” Undine greeted coldly, “Only mercenaries have the right to speak here.”
“I’m also a squad leader.” Sila pointed at the badge on his chest.
“Being a squad leader doesn’t make you a mercenary. Your methods are despicable and you’re a man without honor.”
“I was too fixated on the tournament. It’s my fault. I’m sorry about how I acted previously. However, solving the current crisis comes first. I suggest we negotiate with them. At the very least, we should know why they chose this time to raid us.”
Everyone was quite surprised to see the formerly arrogant Thief Monarch admitting his wrongdoings and sincerely apologizing without making excuses. Still, negotiating with monsters was another story.
“Even if we overlook your past actions, your suggestion is still impossible.”
Undine waved his hand over the goblins in the distance. “Why do you even have to ask? Monsters are the players’ natural enemies. These despicable goblins used to harm players in the past, and it took a lot of effort to drive them away. This time is the same. They must be taking advantage of the situation, where our hold over the city is still unstable after recently acquiring it, to raid us.”
“The Shadow Army also raided the Heavenly Dragon Guild. I don’t think we’re that different from them.”
“We are. They exploited players while we grant people freedom. We’re just and righteous.”
Sila approached Undine. He said slowly and loudly, “As far as I know, there has never been any evidence pointing that goblins had harmed players in the past when they lived in the city. To be fair, even the Heavenly Dragon Guild gave more freedom than us when they conquered the city. At least they allowed guildless players to enter and exit.”
“Are you saying we’re in the wrong?”
Sila shook his head. “What I’m saying is that we all have our own reasons. We shouldn’t resort to using violence if we have yet to know the opposing side’s reasons for their actions.”
“Are you saying you have always talked things through with your opponents before the fight?”
This question was what Sila had been constantly asking himself. The reply he gave to Undine was the answer he always told himself.
“No, I’m not,” Sila admitted. “However, it won’t hurt to try seeing whether the opposing side is willing to converse. If worst comes to worst, the battle still happens. On the other hand, if both sides can come to an agreement, we can avoid casualties.”
Lone Wolf interrupted, “It’s an interesting idea. Still, conversing with monsters is a difficult feat to accomplish unless you’re a member of their race. Even human-like monsters rarely interact with people. As far as I know, there are only two players capable of pulling off such a feat. Sadly, one of them has died. We won’t see him again until he revives after the war event concludes. As for the other, she disappeared a long time ago.”
“I take it that you’re referring to Sila, the Monster Emperor, and Francine, the Monster Queen and former vice-leader of the Royal Armament Guild, right?” asked Risa. She had never met these two players but had heard their names.
“Do you have a plan?” Saharat interrupted, returning attention to Sila.
“Not exactly, but it won’t hurt to try. High-level monsters are often intellectual. If we show our sincerity, maybe we can converse with them.”
“Ultimately, you don’t have anything to back up your plan,” Undine scoffed.
“If you don’t want to take too much risk, I volunteer to be the representative for negotiating with them. I actually have a quest involving the goblin race.”
Sila actually didn’t have a quest like that. All he had was a clue linking the goblin race to the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword, which he planned to further investigate by personally asking the Goblin King. He only claimed he had a quest so that the Shadow Army would be more inclined to allow his suggestion. By having a related quest, the system would subtly assist the quest holder. For example, when having the quest to deliver items to a monster, the monster in question would act friendlier toward the quest holder, opening up a chance to communicate or receive more quests.
Quests are personal info, so no one asked to hear about its contents. Since the Thief Monarch was quite confident, they had no reason to stop the man from going on a suicide mission.
Undine pondered for a moment before replying, “In that case, we will stall until midnight, putting up a line of defense around the city wall. During that time, Mister 99th Squad Leader will try to negotiate with them. Still, our side may change our stance at any moment. We will handle the situation as we see fit.”
“Are you planning to go alone?” asked Lone Wolf.
“The fewer the people, the greater the mobility. Also, bringing a lot of people will alert them, making them think we’re assaulting them.”
Sila then left the meeting and returned to his squad’s headquarters. As soon as he entered the building, his members rushed to question him.
“How about it, Leader? Did we get any jobs?” asked Alpha.
“We get the same jobs as usual: cleaning up the city after the war. Additionally, I was assigned the task of determining whether negotiation with goblins is a viable option.”
“Negotiating with monsters? How? They’re enemies.”
“They’re our enemies today, but tomorrow they might be friends. It won’t hurt to try.”
“But... we—I mean us, not you—can’t stand a chance against goblins, Leader. I mean, we can fight a few, but not an army of them.” Isaac groaned.
Sila thought the same. It was counterproductive to bring more people. Amidst the accumulation of killing intent and powerful psychic oppression, he couldn’t afford to spare his time to look after others. He preferred having a reliable person, who could survive on their own, as his teammate.
“The army won’t call our squad to duty during this time. You all can go to the Skills Training Ground and train there. That place should be safe. Except for Midnight though. I want your help.”
“...” Midnight kept his silence for a couple of seconds before turning to the others and saying, “...See you later. I will follow you after I finish the business with Leader.”
Sila led Midnight away from the rest. The latter obediently followed Sila while starting a conversation by sending a sound transmission to him.
“What do you want from me, Sila?”
“You really recognized me, Zero,” Sila also replied with sound transmission. From an outsider’s perspective, they would only see the two of them walking alongside without exchanging any words.
Sila revealed his objective, “I need your help. Given our speed, we can reach the boss monster and return within an hour. While people are still thinking we’re preparing for the negotiation, the negotiation would have already finished.”
“You alone are enough to pull that off.” Zero was well aware of Sila’s strength. “I don’t want to show up in public anymore.”
“I want this to end quickly. The only person I can rely on is you. Moreover, I want to ask you some questions. What is Montra’s plan? Why did you cooperate with him?”
Like goblins, Montra must have his own reasons. Sila wanted to try understanding his worst enemy from an unrelated person’s point of view.
One of them was the Shadow Emperor while the other was the Monster Emperor, so it was almost effortless for them to conceal their aura and sneak out of the city without anyone noticing. This emphasized the fact that Colossia City might be able to defend against an army but it couldn’t cope with a powerhouse slipping into the base. Not to mention that Colossia City had been conquered by various sides, so its layout was thoroughly studied, making it easier to infiltrate.
Zero told Sila about Montra’s goal as they traveled to their destination. “Montra intends to create a world where people are united. He wants to destroy the guild system that encourages disharmony. Instead, he will encourage a knowledge-sharing system that unreservedly shares intel, news, hidden quests, and technology. The whole continent will belong to all players, becoming the resting spot for us to form a team before entering the Monster Realm together.”
“Players come from various origins and have different goals. How can Montra make everyone cooperate?”
“It’s unexpectedly easy,” replied Zero, “A formidable foe. A great calamity. A struggle for survival. He plans to redirect everyone’s hatred toward a common enemy, forcing them to cooperate with each other.”
Montra’s plan was to solve enmities by having all players share the same goal. Regarding his original plan before Sila entered the game, once his Heavenly Dragon Guild seized every territory on the Main Continent, Montra would show his tyranny, revealing to the world that he was a wicked ruler, before having Revin and Kawin lead people to stage a revolution, pioneering the new era of Monster Soul by destroying the Heavenly Dragon Guild.
Against a powerful tyrant, players will have no choice but to combine their strength even if they don’t want to.
Zero continued, “I’d prefer that kind of situation. It’s better than the current era, full of endless conflicts brought by countless factions.”
Sila gave it some thought. “So that kind of method exists. However... others will think of Montra as a villain that way.”
“It’s the price he is willing to pay for peace. I looked into Montra’s eyes when he was explaining all this to me. I know he wasn’t lying. He is the kind of guy who can sacrifice himself for the sake of others.”
Sila believed he wasn’t a narrow-minded person, though he also wasn’t that generous. If someone asked him whether he was willing to sacrifice himself for others, he would say yes, but he would only do it for people important to him, not strangers.
“There has to be another way to remedy conflicts,” Sila said to Zero. “If there isn’t, I will create one myself.”
“I probably won’t get to witness it, but I believe that if it’s you, you can do it.”
“Is your condition getting worse?” asked Sila. The last time they fought, Zero had vanished in front of his eyes. He didn’t know how the abnormality in Zero’s brainwaves would affect the man.
“I’m not sure. Doctor Joshua told me that I’m still under observation. He told me some changes have occurred, though he couldn’t tell whether they were positive or negative changes...” Zero stopped briefly. “...I have to go either way. She is too close.”
“Do you mean Risa?” Sila asked without thinking.
“Am I that obvious?”
“No, you aren’t. However, when I heard people mentioning Risa for the first time, your magic power fluctuated a little.”
“...” Zero removed his mask. Behind the mask was a pair of eyes full of sadness. “I’m no different from a dead man. Asking her to wait for my return would be too selfish of me. It’s better if we never meet again.”
“You can’t log out, right? Where will you go next?”
“The Decagate World,” Zero replied. Turning his head and seeing Sila’s frown, Zero realized that Sila was clueless about the name. “...You didn’t ask Fowl, did you?”
Sila shook his head. He did remember that Fowl almost made a slip of tongue and told them something, but he wasn’t interested. Zero, on the other hand, didn’t let that slip past him. The man questioned Fowl about it when he was alone with one of her clones.
“I was busy with something else, so I didn’t pursue the matter. Where is that place located in Monster Soul?”
“Fowl revealed that there are clues scattered everywhere. For example, some spells mention ‘the three worlds’ when cast. What do you think they consist of?”
“They are Heaven, Earth, and Hell, aren’t they? ...Hmm, wait? If the New World is equivalent to Earth while both Heaven and Hell are parts of the Monster Realm, this means one world is missing.”
“Fowl told me that there are three main worlds in Monster Soul. First, the World of Bravery where adventures begin, also known as the New World. Second, the World of Power where brutal monsters live, also known as the Monster Realm. Lastly, the World of Wisdom, a treasure trove for pioneers and knowledge-seekers, also known as the Decagate World or the World of Ten Doors.
“I heard from her that the Decagate World exists between the New World and the Monster Realm. There, we can find other methods to enter the Monster Realm without having to reach Emperor Rank.”
Obviously, Zero was aware that he would still have to fulfill some conditions in order to go to the Monster Realm even from the Decagate World. Still, he believed that those conditions would surely be easier to accomplish than grinding levels to reach Emperor Rank.
The World of Ten Doors was exactly like its name implied. It was a world that acted as a gateway between the New World and the Monster Realm. Many skills originated from that world. In fact, even the Hall of Omniscience is located in the Decagate World.
The world was created out of the game company’s idea, approved by Joshua. The reason for its creation was that the gap in power levels between the New World and the Monster Realm was too large. A training area to help players polish their abilities, readying them for adventuring in the Monster Realm, was necessary.
“If I can get there early, it will most likely be a year before the next player reaches it. By that point, I may have already entered the Monster Realm. For online games, being the first to enter a new territory holds a significant advantage. I heard that no players have yet to discover that world.”
Not to mention a mysterious place like the Decagate World, even the information about the Monster Realm only became public just recently. The system had a setting that suppressed monsters, even ones coming from other worlds, from revealing information related to future game content. It was to give players an enjoyable experience searching and unlocking the secrets of the game.
Even Sebastian, who came from the Monster Realm, had never mentioned the term “Monster Realm” until Lucifer did it publicly.
“When do you plan to leave?” asked Sila.
“Fowl said that the conditions to enter the Decagate World via Colossia City are: being Marquis Rank or above, having killed at least five monsters with king or queen titles, having at least fifteen skills that are at level 100 or transcendent rank, and spending at least fifty hours in the Skills Training Ground. Risa is too close. I will depart immediately as soon as the conditions are fulfilled.”
“Won’t you wait to see how the war event ends?”
“This war is between you two. I prefer not to get involved,” Zero stated his standpoint. “The one acting as me is Bluebird, I take it? Please keep the fact that you have seen me a secret from that guy.”
Sila gave his word, “Sure. No one will hear about you from me. I promise.”
Tonight might be the last time Sila and Zero got to work together for the sake of achieving the same goal. The two of them had been in a position where they couldn’t be themselves. Sila was Nero under the mask while Zero was Midnight. However, now that no other players were nearby, there was finally no need for them to keep their identities a secret. They cut through the air at a speed that made them seemingly swallowed by the darkness of the night.
A few moments later, both of them appeared not too far from the goblin army, masterfully concealing their aura and observing the army from afar.
“Strange,” Zero said. “They looked normal when seeing them from afar. However, now that we’re here, I feel like they are a bit different from normal goblins.”
Sila stared at them. “You’re right. They seem weird, yet familiar.”
Some goblins were drumming while the rest were letting out battlecries. The wall of condensed psychic power approached the two, forcing them to widen the distance.
“Ah! I know! They’re all the result of someone using Psychic Body. These goblins aren’t real. The entire army is just a diversion!”
Two of the goblins, who seemed to be their leaders, shifted their gazes to Sila and Zero. One of them raised a mace in its hand, releasing white psychic power that glowed like an aurora. A hoarse voice came out from its mouth.
“The Grim Sanctum of Weapons.”
Sila and Zero felt their bodies become lighter for a split second. Before they knew it, they found themselves somewhere else—a barren wasteland. Littered around them were countless weapons, old and broken, anchored in the ground. There were also a large amount of skeletal remains which belonged to monsters long dead. Some had weapons in their hands even at death. It was as if a war had taken place in this land several hundred years ago.
Both men didn’t bother to wonder how their presence was detected since their opponents this time were psychic-types.
“An illusion?” Zero circulated qi, ready to cope with an ambush.
“No, this is not an illusion. Either we were teleported or we are affected by a skill that creates a domain.” Thanks to Moon Reflecting Mirror, Sila could tell that the sight in front of him was no illusion.
Two goblin silhouettes suddenly formed out of thin air and eventually appeared. They were the two leader-like goblins that Sila and Zero had spotted previously. One of them held a long mace while the other had a hatchet and a round shield.
“You are right, yet wrong at the same time... human.” The mace-holding goblin opened its mouth. “This place is both an illusionary scape and the reality you were in moments ago. It is a place that contains memories of weapons.”
At least these two goblins were still willing to converse with Sila. They might be high-level psychic-type monsters, but not as capable as Fowl, apparently. Sila speculated that his Hidden Gift somehow affected them.
Sila declared, “We’re not here to fight. We want to negotiate and find peace between us.”
“Aren’t you late by ten years?” replied the hatchet-holding goblin. “Ten years ago, we also wanted to talk things out with you, yet you humans never listened to us. You just happen to desire negotiation now that we have enough strength to reclaim our home, huh? What a joke.”
“The group of people that took Colossia City from you and the group that controls it right now are not the same. We truly want to talk things out with you. We don’t want war,” Sila tried to explain.
“Not the same?” The mace-holding goblin repeated mockingly. “If a goblin hurts humans, will you blame that particular goblin or the goblin race as a whole? Can you differentiate between goblins?”
The hatchet-holding goblin continued, “...In your eyes, we look hardly different, right? Likewise, in our eyes, all humans look the same.”
Sila understood their reasoning. “Since each human is not different, you may think of it as it’s me who has wronged you in the past. I promise I will do anything in my power to fix my mistakes.”
“Do you want to shoulder all the blame by yourself?”
“For now, yes. I’m their representative for the negotiation, so my desire represents the will of us humans. Please tell us what the goblin race wants. We’ll help you accomplish it if we can. Even if we can’t, we’ll still try to find a way for our races to reach a compromise and work together. Only casualties await us both if a war breaks out.”
Sila took a chance to activate Monster Heir with the help of Evil God’s Essence. His speech contained pressure and imposing power. The skill only worked against monsters, so Zero was unaware of it. The man only felt that the goblins’ level of psychic power suddenly and inexplicably weakened by a small degree.
Sila had learned to control the effect of his power. He simply wanted his speech to be persuasive, not threatening. Giving a leeway for the opposing side to choose is also important for negotiations. It was recorded so in the Story of A Hundred Swords, helping Sila to become a more capable person.
The goblins’ body languages still showed signs of refusal, though hesitantly. Reminded of the situation in the Valley of Immortal, Sila suggested an idea.
“No blood needs to be shed more than necessary. There are two of us, and two of you. If a fight really needs to happen, I suggest we do this through a proxy war. The loser will have to listen to the winner’s request. The request is negotiable, of course.”
“You may think you’re strong, but that’s only because we are using Mind Concealment. Do you want to reconsider what you said?”
The two goblins released their Mind Concealment, prompting the system to inform the two players about the encounter.
Ramidas, the Left Goblin King, Level 500 Emperor Rank, has appeared.
Remdier, the Right Goblin King, Level 500 Emperor Rank, has appeared.
“Actually, your suggestion holds no meaning to us. We don’t even have to listen to you. Colossia City will be ours either way. Well, since you dare to propose a challenge, I take it that you’re prepared to be the away team and accept our terms of fighting, right?”
Sila turned to Zero, who nodded at him, implying that he left the decision to Sila.
“Sure, we will do that.”
“Let’s do it goblin-style, then.” Remdier, the mace-holding goblin, transformed himself into a man in a white robe. His height was comparable to Sila’s. He removed his robe and untidily wrapped it around his waist.
As a matter of fact, goblins might seem ugly from a human’s perspective. From their perspective, however, Remdier was considered the most handsome by female goblins. Even his human form looked like a charming noble knight, though it was a knight who became poor and had to make do with simple clothes.
“Kukukuku. Let’s do it. A goblin-style game.” Ramidas chuckled as he transformed into a half-naked man, revealing toned muscles. He had a short beard and a strong physique, giving off the vibe of a savage tribe warrior. His prideful eyes expressed both stubbornness and an adventurous will.
If Remdier’s appearance could charm women with his reserved manner, Ramidas’ would capture women’s hearts with his wild and hardcore nature.
“Armor is not allowed, only weapons.” Remdier explained the first rule of the game.
“Fine,” replied Sila. He ordered Zarnak to change the shape of his armor, retracting the upper part. He also unequipped his Beggar’s Cloak and his mask. As for Zero, he took off his cloak and his magician robe, leaving only pants and a javelin in his hands.
Zero’s javelin decomposed and fell down while Sila couldn’t summon any of his weapons, neither by opening his system window nor using Hidden Weapon Firing. Even invoking a weapon out of a card didn’t work. It seemed this particular area blocked them from using weapons.
“For humans, weapons are probably things that you choose according to taste. However, for us goblins, it’s the weapons that choose their owners. Weapons will also be the ones deciding who wins this fight.”
The rules of the battle were still unclear to them when a faint light began to appear from every weapon littered on the ground. Sila and Zero grabbed a nearby sword and a spear, yet the weapons lost their auras as soon as their hands touched them. They snapped in half and crumbled to the ground.
“I call the phenomenon Weapon Enlightenment, though I doubt you will understand it. You humans always view weapons as mere tools.”
Remdier opened his palm, and a pole flew into his grasp. He closed his eyes, listening to the sound of the weapon.
The instant that the pole touched Remdier’s hand, the rust on it flaked off. The old, worn-out pole transformed into a green pole engraved with black mystical letters. Remdier spun it around, the eight vivid shadows projecting on the ground looking very similar to a spider’s legs.
Ramidas did the same. Flying into his hands was a half-broken sledgehammer. As his fingers gently stroked it, the weapon soon changed its appearance, transforming into a giant maul. The shape of its hammerhead resembled an elephant’s head. Despite its gigantic appearance, Ramidas could wield it as if it was weightless.
“Phantom Elephant Maul.”
Sila turned to Zero and found that the man had closed his eyes and opened his palm, mimicking the two goblins’ actions. Soon, a rusty chakram flew into his hands.
“Sila, just close your eyes and open your palm. Exactly like they said. The weapon will choose its owner.”
It was actually as easy as that. Inside the sanctum, drawing a weapon out will only make it break. On the other hand, by simply extending their hand, if any weapon took a liking to them, it would let them temporarily borrow its strength.
The hard part was that they didn’t know what to do next. Unlike Ramidas and Remdier, Zero didn’t know the name of the chakram in his hands. Moreover, he was a qi-type player, so he naturally didn’t possess any skill that would let him inspect the weapon. In fact, even if he was a psychic-type, the task would still prove to be difficult. These old, broken weapons were no longer recognized as weapons but pieces of scrap. At the very best, the system would only inform him that the chakram in his hands was some kind of iron for smithing purposes.
Precisely like what Remdier had told them. As the away team, the match was quite unfavorable. Not only did they not know how the victor would be determined, they didn’t even know the rules of the game.
Despite the disadvantage, Sila knew he had to try his best to win the game. The match seemed unnecessary at first glance, but it had to be done in order to receive acknowledgement and respect from the two goblin kings.
No one wants to bother negotiating with someone weak, worthless, and inferior compared to them.
Sila closed his eyes and extended his hand. A weapon soon landed in his palm. Opening his eyes, he discovered that it was a rusty dagger.
Seeing that both Zero and Sila could understand the game in a short amount of time, plus the fact that the weapons that had chosen them were quite special, Remdier’s interest toward the two grew.
“We have yet to ask you your names... humans.”
The two goblins introduced themselves. “Mine is Remdier, and my friend here is Ramidas.”
“My name is Sila.”
The dagger in his hands blinked once, unnoticed by Sila and Zero. On the other hand, Remdier and Ramidas saw it. They squinted their eyes and turned to look at each other, making eye contact.
Without exchanging a word, the two had agreed on their next course of action. They leaped forward using Psychic Impact.
Their gazes locked onto the same target—Sila.
The green shadows from the pole flooded the sky. The more Sila tried to follow the pole’s movements, the more blinding the move seemingly became, rendering him clueless as to how to dodge the barrage of incoming attacks. He quickly circulated qi, clad his arm with it, and calmly parried the strikes.
After a dozen exchanges, he felt his arm growing numb, and noticed faint green lesions forming on his skin.
“The pole is poisonous?” Sila exclaimed and hurriedly activated Unblemished Aqua to eject the poison from his body, releasing it through his sweat glands.
Zero rushed to help by interrupting Ramidas’ attack. Cladding his wrist with Shadowless Soul Qi, his Shadow Reaper Hands flew gently yet quicker than a gust of wind. It took an instant for his claw to strike at the goblin king’s body.
An unpleasant sound for Zero rang out. Upon showing the might of his signature move, the sound that was supposed to ring out was that of his opponent’s flesh being torn apart. This time, however, a feeling of pain ran through his arm, his finger broken. Zero had to retreat, circulating qi to heal his hand.
Regardless, thanks to Zero’s brief interruption, Sila managed to have a moment to breathe and then plan out his counterattack. Focusing on the pole’s peculiar movements, he finally spotted a small gap within the series of attacks. He drew his hand in a circle, manifesting a wall made of qi to block the attacks while firing a powerful Yizichan into the gap. The qi bullet flew toward Remdier’s chest.
This move used to be called Moon Block—one of the moves in the Dual Generating Attributes series. The current Sila could exert its power with ease, finding it hardly different from punching and kicking. It could be said that his mastery regarding martial move utilization had grown several levels since he created the move.
Sila’s current art was not Formless Martial God or Five-Attributed Cloud Qi, nor was it Flaming Cloud Qi or Tiger Dragon Qi. The Flame Part of Flaming Cloud Qi acted as a giant furnace, constantly melting and refining both his inner force and all of his available profound arts into something of the same essence. It was this trait that led to a vast, complete difference in power foundation between Flaming Cloud Qi’s practitioners, even between a teacher and a disciple with a single generation gap—Zenga-Mora and Mora-Sila included.
The art he was currently using was what he had dreamt it to be in the past. Thanks to the increase in his proficiency at qi handling, together with Fowl’s lessons regarding the principle behind using in-game skills, Sila successfully adapted all the knowledge he had learned to reinvent his arts.
His original qi art—Five-Attributed Cloud Qi—basically centered around changing the user’s elemental affinity to have the advantage. Its next stages—Dual Attributes and Triple Attributes—were of higher, more creative levels where he combined two or three elements together.
Sila had been acting under the assumption that he had already thought outside of the box. However, he recently discovered that sometimes the box is within another box, and that he could think outside of that box as well.
For Sila, the five elements represented different colors, while he was a painter who mixed colors to create new ones. Contrary to his former beliefs, however, he didn’t have to mix them with an equal ratio like he had been doing. Technically, he could mix three parts of the wood element with seven parts of the fire element, or two parts of the water with eight parts of the earth. The number of attributes started at five, but they could branch off infinitely.
Sila would later call his new art “Million Clouds Qi Technique” based on the fact that he could manipulate his qi as freely as the shape of the cloud. Several years from now, the art would be recognized as one of Five Crown Jewels the next time people voted on which five arts should be crowned.
In the past, even Mora—who wasn’t proficient at using the Flame Part—had managed to come up with “Nine Sun-Melting-Fists”, a powerful offensive profound art that received heaps of praise, allowing him to become known as the strongest Elder of his generation. Likewise, Sila—his disciple—would do the same in the future, coming up with an art that impresses the entire martial world.
However, that is a story from an era that has yet to arrive. Back in the present, Sila’s qi bullet that flew to Remdier’s body suddenly disintegrated upon contact, dealing zero damage.
Before Sila had time to feel surprised, Ramidas’ Phantom Elephant Maul was bearing down on him from the left.
The distance was not enough for Sila to block or dodge the incoming strike. Defense wasn’t his forte either way. Confident in his offensive capability, he aimed to strike back in order to force Ramidas to defend. His left side became as heavy as a mountain and as hard as steel. Using the step-in technique of Nine Sun-Melting-Fists, Sila used his whole body as a human hammer, bashing the opponent.
An intense crashing sound exploded. As if he had been stomped on by a great elephant, Sila’s body heavily hit the ground. On the other hand, Ramidas came out unscratched. Sila felt like his previous body slam connected with nothing but thin air despite being sure that he should have hit Ramidas properly. The misuse of his power caused him to suffer more from the backlash of qi deviation. Though what confused him the most was that Ramidas’ attack came from above, not from the left as he had anticipated.
The stomp came a second time before Sila could get back on his feet. Ramidas mercilessly hit him again using the Phantom Elephant Maul.
Out of reflex, Sila brandished the dagger in his hand as an attempt to counter, which caused Ramidas to step back so he wouldn’t get hit.
Zero suppressed the pain from his hand, exerting himself by forcefully throwing his chakram to stop Remdier from coming at Sila. To avoid the humans’ attacks, the two goblin kings finally took several steps back.
The chakram returned to Zero’s hand. Sila quickly got up and regrouped with his comrade.
The first round of the battle had passed within a span of a few seconds. Sila and Zero felt like they had been at a disadvantage the entire time.
“Our attacks were totally ineffective despite them not resisting in any way. Maybe it’s the result of their skills.” Zero tapped Sila’s shoulder and transmitted his qi to the man, speeding up Sila’s rate of recovery.
Sila accepted Zero’s qi to heal himself faster. “No, I think it’s because of the domain. We heard ‘The Grim Sanctum of Weapons’ before we got here, right? While our attacks were useless, my dagger and your chakram could make them wary. This means...”
“...We can only fight using these weapons.” Zero came up with the same answer.
Remdier smiled as he noticed that both Sila and Zero had finally learned some of the rules regarding the Grim Sanctum of Weapons, though not completely.
“You got it right. We can only inflict damage to others by channeling power through a weapon or using the weapon’s abilities.”
“Enjoyable, right?” Ramidas grinned as he lifted the maul above his head, cladding it with intense white psychic power.
Sila moved his gaze between the Spider Pole and the Phantom Elephant Maul. He quickly conveyed his thoughts to Zero via sound transmission.
“Remdier’s pole can generate tangible shadows. Given his attack speed, the number of shadows can encircle you like a spiderweb. His fighting style goes far beyond a traditional pole art. His attacks also come with poison that causes paralysis. It’s non-lethal, but your speed will fall if hit by it repeatedly. Please be careful. About the maul... I thought for sure I could have blocked it. No idea how I was hit from above.”
Zero had watched the situation from a distance, so he witnessed the exchange of blows clearer than Sila, who had been facing it head-on. “The name is Phantom Elephant Maul, right? Just now, upon contact, I noticed that the elephant hammerhead became blurred temporarily as if it had disappeared. My guess is that it’s a weapon that can shift the angle it’s swinging from. It will be hard to defend against it.”
Normally, the most effective way to defend is to clad only the part that receives the attack with energy reinforcement since it minimizes the energy consumption rate. Doing so, however, it will naturally make other parts of their body relatively unprotected.
Previously, in addition to qi deviation caused by his attack missing the target, Sila was also hit in a spot he wasn’t defending. As a result, he received much more severe injuries than expected.
“We can’t afford to keep defending. We have to be on the offensive,” Zero suggested.
The two looked at the weapons in their hands: the old dagger with its entire blade covered in dust, and the shabby chakram with several nicked blades. Injecting qi into them, the objects emitted faint qi aura. Both would work as weapons as long as they continued to strengthen them with qi.
Fortunately, both Sila and Zero were skilled players. They could gauge the level of power that the weapons could endure, maximizing their attack power without breaking them. Given the durability of the weapons, they would fall apart even with the tiniest error.
Through the use of Shadowless Soul Qi, Zero’s body instantaneously vanished and reappeared behind Ramidas’ back. Zero estimated that Ramidas would be an easier target due to the nature of the goblin’s heavy weapon. He flung the chakram upward, grazing the brave goblin’s body from his stomach to his shoulder.
There was no wound, however. Only a faint, long red mark appeared on his body.
Ramidas ignored Zero’s attack. He smashed the ground using his maul. The land shook, sending a shockwave to damage Sila and Zero’s ankles. The two men had no choice but to jump, fleeing from further impact.
Remdier had been waiting for them in mid-air. The shadows from his pole bombarded the two. Changing the course of travel in mid-air was a difficult feat for qi-types. Fortunately, both Sila and Zero were mixed-types. They enveloped their bodies with magic power, evading the attacks by moving sideways.
“You’re capable of using magic? What a surprise,” Remdier said, though his tone hardly contained excitement. His body split into two. The two of them kicked one another at their feet, one jumping toward Sila while the other lunged at Zero.
Out of the two bodies, one must be the result of Remdier’s Psychic Body, meaning the weapon in their hand must be a fake. With that idea, Sila took a deep breath, then opened his mouth.
Racial Skill — Slime’s Roar.
The Remdier who was charging at him dispersed. Since the Psychic Body was born from a skill, it could naturally be destroyed with a skill.
It appeared that both Ramidas and Remdier had neglected Sila and focused on Zero. Sila now realized that their separation was a part of the goblins’ plan, and they had fallen right into their trap.
Members of the goblin race were weapon experts. It took them no time to evaluate that Zero’s chakram had range, so Zero could throw it to help Sila when the latter was besieged. On the other hand, Sila’s dagger was only usable in close quarters. If they ganged up on Zero, Sila would take longer to rescue his friend.
Zero’s rank was merely at Marquis. Surrounded by two Emperor Rank monsters who were locking their Psychic Oppression on him, his body was under immense pressure, refusing to move according to his will. His movements became tardy, bringing him great annoyance. His specialty had always been his speed, but his body was now trapped in mid-air, supported by his unstable magic power.
A thin white line of psychic power established a connection between Remdier and Ramidas. Their bodies suddenly switched places. The maul enlarged, projecting a white shadow of the great elephant which blocked the sky. On the other hand, Remdier stood firmly on the ground, powerfully striking his pole eight times upward in a quick succession.
Sila’s eyes glowed sparkling golden. He activated one of his hidden trump cards.
Lordship of Time — Incarnation of Chronos — Evil God’s Martial Essence.
This time there was no holding back. Through Evil God’s Essence, Sila raised the output of Monster Heir to its very limit, threatening the two goblin kings and suppressing their psychic power.
The goblins’ attacks slightly slowed down. Seizing the opportunity, Zero rotated his entire body like a spinning top. Releasing the chakram from his grip, he controlled it using qi to let it spin around along with him.
The chakram, buzzing around Zero, suddenly emitted strong white light. Inside Zero’s head, he heard a faint sound that would be no different from a soft whisper even if the world fell silent. However, despite the dangerous situation he found himself in, he could hear it perfectly clear like a miracle.
“...Ominous Chakram of the Fallen Angel!” Zero muttered, albeit slightly louder than his normal volume.
The chakram turned pitch-black. Its circular blade became as thin as a dragonfly’s wing, as transparent as glass, as light as bird feather, yet as sharp as a guillotine. Still spinning, it slashed Remdier and Ramidas, leaving numerous wounds on their bodies. Unlike the dull attack that had hit Ramidas earlier, these wounds were deep. It was unbelievable that such attacks were inflicted by a Marquis Rank player on Emperor Rank monsters.
Sila accelerated his speed. From his perspective, he only saw Zero spinning around. Even the wounds on the two goblins had yet to start bleeding. Desperate to rescue Zero, Sila input a part of mana from the Great Flow into the dagger, attempting to unleash the might of Heaven’s Decree.
His action brought an unexpected reaction from the dagger. The rust on its blade peeled off. The sound of rust shedding apart sounded differently to Sila compared to others. Ringing next to his ears was the name of this dagger.
“Seven Strikes Dagger.”
Sila’s consciousness momentarily sunk into the dagger. Appearing in his mind was a tall, muscular man in worn-out wuxia clothes, his hair messy. A huge sword hung on his back while attached to his belt were three metal tags. His left arm was covered in a metal armguard while his right hand was holding the same dagger Sila now held.
The mysterious wuxia man stabbed his opponent—a white-haired man wearing luxurious knight armor—seven times consecutively at a speed that made it seem like his right arm had split into seven. Surrounding the two were various kinds of weapons, broken on the ground.
Receiving the fierce strikes, the white knight fell onto his knees.
Sila’s vision ended. His consciousness returned to the present time.
Sila suddenly spotted red dots on Remdier, Ramidas, and even Zero, seven dots on each. He instantly became aware of what the red dots represented. Holding the dagger, he stabbed his opponents seven times with the exact same motions he had just witnessed. However, since there were two opponents, he had to share the number of his strikes. Remdier was stabbed three times while Ramidas received four.
The two goblin kings coughed up blood and fell down. Meanwhile, finally having some breathing room, Sila and Zero didn’t continue their attacks. They looked at their weapons in daze.
A system notification rang out for both of them.
You have acquired a special skill: Weapon Enlightenment.
“Ominous Chakram of the Fallen Angel. One of the three items in the set, each capable of generating shadows of the attacks. This chakram is the second item in the set. Its ability is the power to ignore the target’s defense,” Zero explained without having to open his system window to read the item’s description.
Sila turned to Zero, raised the dagger in his hand, and explained it in the same manner, “Seven Strikes Dagger. While holding it, the user can spot seven ‘lethal dots’ on every living being. When a dot is struck with the Seven Strikes Dagger, the target’s health points will immediately fall by a seventh of their total value.”
Ramidas and Remdier got up. “I didn’t expect to see humans being acknowledged by weapons. It seems not all humans are the same.”
Remdier clapped his hands, praising Sila and Zero. “This game is actually a traditional ritual for worshipping Lady Igsia. It is a form of entertainment, so there is no winning or losing. Only goblins who have overcome this ritual will be recognized as mature. You two are now not different from adult goblins. Your words deserve our attention.”
Receiving acknowledgment from the two goblin kings, the atmosphere seemed to turn for the better. They acted friendlier toward Sila and Zero.
The two humans intended to return the weapons, but Ramidas shook his head.
“They are the rewards for goblins overcoming a ritual. You can keep them. Just know that they will be no different from ordinary items outside of the Grim Sanctum of Weapons unless your related weapon mastery skill is at Level 100 or transcendent rank.”
Sila started to understand something. “Could it be that... the weapons you people sold to humans in the past were like these?”
Remdier nodded. “Our weapons are always high-quality. In the hands of unworthy people who don’t try to polish their weapon proficiency, however, they will disguise themselves as D-grade weapons.”
“So it’s all a misunderstanding.”
The weapons sold by goblins, while expensive, were of excellent quality. Their value is even higher than their prices since A-grade items can’t easily be obtained. Most shops in cities often sell high-quality items in limited quantities, and they are mostly stuck at B-grade.
A-grade items are commonly found from elite monsters. Well, the obvious exception is Siaferia City’s laser-based weapons. While they are indeed A-grade, they have no unique options and their energy consumption rate is high. The other exception is Zeref’s weapons, though the queue is long and the buyer has to bring their own ingredients for the creation. On the other hand, goblin’s weapons were easily obtained. All the players need to do is increase their weapon mastery skill level. Sadly, no one had their weapon mastery skills at level 100 during the initial stage of the game, so this secret went undiscovered.
“The Weapon Enlightenment skill helps you fully understand the weapon, including how to unleash its maximum potential,” explained Remdier.
Sila thought that the skill was similar to Mamon’s. Well, Weapon Enlightenment didn’t just let the user inspect the weapon, but it also helped them understand it—including knowing its durability and how to maintain it. The expression ‘A weapon is an extension of the body’ couldn’t be more fitting.
“Can it even allow the user to have a vision?”
Ramidas shook his head. “That’s not it. What you saw is what I also experienced when I held the dagger for the first time. It’s unrelated to Weapon Enlightenment. The vision showed one of the past battles of the King of Thousand Weapons, Maximus. Have you ever heard of his name?”
“I think I heard it from somewhere...” Sila was sure he had come across this name. Either someone had mentioned it to him, or he had read it from someplace.
“He is the Emperor of Magical Objects. Anyway, this Psychic Weapon Recording is not his skill. Only a few people know that he—the King of Thousand Weapons—has lost once in a weapon duel. What you just experienced was the result of the skill that belonged to the person who defeated him that day. It’s the skill that lets him record his knowledge into his weapon. You could say that it’s a weapon manual that you don’t need to physically read. The Seven Strikes Dagger once belonged to him. In fact, there are many weapons here that used to be his.”
“You must mean the man in wuxia clothes. Who is he?” Sila was curious.
“You live in Colossia City, don’t you? How come you don’t know about the Ten Heroes?” Ramidas frowned.
Remdier interrupted, “I actually don’t want to meddle in your conversation, but your goal is to negotiate, right? Let’s save this talk for later.”
Ramidas, who had gotten sidetracked, recalled this upon being reminded. “That’s right! You must hurry! Otherwise, it will be too late.”
“Too late for what?”
Remdier explained with regret, “We’re merely Psychic Bodies—a trap to lure you in. For you to start a negotiation, you have to go and meet our real selves who are hiding on the east side of Colossia City. They are preparing to raid the city. No, maybe they have already launched the attack.”
‘Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west.’ It is one of the Thirty-Six Stratagems. The goblin race lined up a fake army and unleashed walls of psychic power on the west side in order to make the Shadow Army focus their defense toward that direction. Then, their real army would deliver attacks from the opposite direction.
Remdier handed Sila a piece of paper. “We can’t leave this place, so we can’t go out and personally relay a message. However, you can give this to our real selves. They will understand everything once they read it.”
Sila stored the paper in his sleeve. Remdier clapped his hands twice, and the landscape returned to normal. The Seven Strikes Dagger in Sila’s hand reverted to an ordinary D-grade dagger since he didn’t have the Dagger Mastery skill. Likewise, Zero’s chakram reverted to a simple metal chakram.
As soon as he came back, Sila noticed that the sky had already turned dark. The smoke from flames swaying inside the city covered the night sky, blocking the light from the moon and stars.
The raid had already started. If they were late to return, the fight might escalate and their hard-earned friendship would be for naught. Sila and Zero couldn’t spare any time to say goodbye to the goblins’ Psychic Bodies. They exerted their maximum speed, running back to Colossia City. Their presence represented two rays of hope cutting through the dark sky of conflict.
The sky blackened, choked on smoke and ash as if someone had splashed ink all over it. On the other hand, the lights of flames were shining from the city, swayed by a strong wind. The weapons clashing all over let off countless sparks. It seemed the situation was worse than Sila had anticipated. The goblins had already breached the players’ defenses and entered the city.
“I will search for the goblin kings. Zero, please control the situation.”
Sila decided to assign their responsibilities this way since only he possessed the skill to persuade a monster to listen to him. While Zero was faster and could probably reach the destination before him, the goblin kings might refuse to listen to Zero and tear the paper apart without reading it.
Zero gave Sila a dry smile. “Roger that, Leader.”
The two had donned their previous outfits, wearing masks. Sila used qi to fire himself forward before switching to rely on magic power, enveloping his body and dragging him across the city. His gaze locked onto the forest to the east of the city. Based on what Remdier had told him, a goblin camp must be hidden somewhere in the forest.
Every ability related to weapons was banned when he was fighting in the Grim Sanctum of weapons, including Artifact Manifestation and the Twin Souls Sword Collection’s sword-summoning ability. Now that he was outside, however, Sila could finally display the power of the card he had collected when he annihilated all of the monsters in the Summer Forest.
A transparent card showed up in his hand and broke apart, transforming into a silver sword with a griffin figure decorated on its hilt. Sila swung it twice. Every time he swung it, a couple of silver feathers would descend from the sword.
The first time he studied the sword, Sila had found that the sword’s ability was so weird that he was totally clueless about how to use it. However, with Weapon Enlightenment, various applications emerged in his mind as soon as he touched it. Learning to use a new weapon normally required time and experience, but the Weapon Enlightenment skill helped the user instantly recognize every way to make use of the weapon.
(B) Silver-Winged Sword [Artificial Weapon]
A weapon forged by combining a decent sword with at least 1,000 feathers from Silver Griffins.
Attack Power: 1,100
When swung, the sword will knock a target back. The distance is determined by its weight and the force behind the swing.
The user will have to clad the sword with their energy reinforcement in order to activate this special ability. Nothing will happen otherwise.
[Silver Griffin Card]
+ Decrease the duration of any poison debuffs by 10%.
Sila clad the Silver-Winged Sword with magic power and activated its peculiar ability, striking the air and forcing it to spin forward.
The air became an invisible tornado—blowing dust, sand, and tree leaves into the goblin camp. A commotion broke out.
Sila seized the chaos to pull himself down to the ground, circulated qi, and dashed into the forest, avoiding fighting against goblins who were shielding their eyes from the strong wind.
Seeing Sila successfully enter the forest, Zero stopped himself on the city’s wall and observed the overall situation. Sila asked him to control the situation, which was a task far more difficult than directly helping the Shadow Army.
Different goblins held different weapons, each of them A-grade quality with powerful abilities. Their uniqueness made fighting them difficult. Moreover, all of the goblins were connected psychically. They could support each other without exchanging words. The most troublesome part was that every time players thought they had figured out any particular goblin’s combat patterns, the goblin would exchange weapons with its teammate, resulting in a different fighting style.
In conclusion, the Shadow Army was being overwhelmed greatly.
“Fowl taught me to rely on qi-type traits to benefit a magic spell. Well, let’s try it out.”
Zero’s Javelin Cross had broken in the Grim Sanctum of Weapons. It was the javelin with options to increase a spell’s attack power and reduce the cast time. To be honest, Zero had used it as his main weapon for a while, but he never felt used to it. Still, for him who wasn’t a pure magic-type, casting a spell without supporting equipment was like asking a traditional spellcaster to fight with their fists instead of magic.
For magic-types, battle gear was rarely helpful in direct combat. Rather than provide protection, the equipment most magic-types wore focused more on supporting their spellcasting, through ways such as reducing the cast time, increasing the efficacy of the spell, or reducing the resources required to cast the spell. Some pieces of equipment also grant powerful item skills that can serve as trump cards.
In any case, Fowl had taught Zero a certain skill: “Blood Mana.” By sacrificing their life force—either in the form of blood from their actual wounds or simply deducing it from their health bar—equal to the amount of magic power required to use a spell, the spellcaster can greatly speed up the casting. The skill was by no means rare. There were actually many quests in the Magic Kingdom that offered this skill as a reward. However, its usefulness is limited. Casting mid-tier spells is not that time-consuming while high-tier spells require an insane amount of magic power. Having a lot of health points was not something that people associated with magic-types. Having to sacrifice health points along with magic points will easily cause any spellcaster to die from being drained.
Zero slit up his palm and circulated qi, forcing his blood to gush out. He took off at his maximum speed, running in a circle around the entire city while leaving a trail of his blood behind. Since he only had to focus on running, ten seconds was all he needed to return to where he started running.
Zero gasped for breath. Normally he only ran at his top speed for short bursts, so he had never pushed himself like he had just now. Nevertheless, it took only three laps of qi circulation for him to feel better. Even the wound on his palm had already closed up.
He opened his hands and started casting a high-tier spell for the first time in his life. Prior to this moment, the most powerful spell he had ever cast was only of the middle tier.
The blood he left behind suddenly turned black as he began the incantation.
“The painful path is one belonging to the true sovereign. My blood exits for the Demon Lord to take. Under the blanket of darkness, even a long road is as short as a finger’s length. Under the blanket of darkness, even the vast sky is as narrow as a finger’s width. Under the blanket of darkness, even the deep sea is as shallow as a finger’s joint. Under the blanket of darkness, even a giant mountain is as small as a finger. Within the cage surrounded by the true sovereign’s five fingers, everything will belong to His Majesty. The Demon Lord’s Palm.”
In Zero’s mind appeared the image of Colossia City underneath the shadow of a giant black palm. As a matter of fact, The Demon Lord’s Palm was a spell Montra was also capable of casting, but the largest area he could cover would be around the size of a soccer field. Zero must be the only player capable of casting it over an entire city, and within a short period of time too.
The Demon Lord’s Palm is a domain skill of the dark element. Casting it is easy, but the troublesome part about it is that the caster has to surround the targeted area before their first drop of blood dries.
While the spell is active, everything that happens within the targeted area will flow into the caster’s mind, as if the area is the palm of their hand. The caster can also teleport to anywhere within the marked domain. Still, teleportation is a form of hyper-speed movement which normally brings headaches after each use. Unless the caster is used to high-speed movements, they won’t be able to display the spell’s full potential.
Zero circulated qi to regain his lost health points while closing his eyes, observing all of the events happening in the city. He took a deep breath, ready to flash around the city in the next second.
He then opened his eyes. His body swayed as if he became a shadow.
The sound of metal striking metal rang out forty-eight times in various spots all over the city, happening almost simultaneously. Apparently, Zero had taken less than a second to interrupt several battles occurring in the city. He struck goblins and players who were fighting to the death and transmitted cold qi into their veins, forcing them to withdraw momentarily.
Thanks to his intervention, the intensity of many battles in the city had decreased noticeably.
Returning to where he originally stood, Zero’s mind became dizzy and his body trembled, almost blacking out from the sudden loss of qi. He circulated Immortal Qi to ease his mind before circulating Shadowless Soul Qi to refill his qi reserves. Then, he repeated the same actions.
This time, however, Zero had gotten used to this particular spell. Exactly as Fowl mentioned, by having the essence of qi, the user’s body will gradually temper itself to gain resistance against a previously experienced attack. While it might not be to the point where the user can completely nullify the enemy’s attack, the severity of repeated strikes will become weaker on them. The change might be unnoticeable at first, but will make all the difference if the attacks continue.
That is essentially why qi-types are often found torturing themselves. They have the patience required to cultivate and temper their bodies, trying to go beyond their limits, taking one step forward in order to elevate their strength to another level.
After the third round of flashing around the city, his resistance against the dizziness became noticeable. After more than a hundred flashes, his body finally adapted to the action.
Zero and Sila’s top speeds were about the same, but there were a few notable differences. Zero could maintain his top speed for a longer period of time and could shift gears more masterfully than Sila. It was natural since Zero focused on speed while Sila’s fighting style leaned toward versatility. It could be said that Zero was more immune to his speed and power than Sila. He rarely suffered from the backlash of his own power.
Players all over the city could only catch a glimpse of a black silhouette flashing in the dark. They couldn’t even discern which side ‘the shadow’ belonged to since it attacked both players and goblins.
Its attacks were weak, but they precisely struck places that would call for immediate medical attention. If they left the wounds unchecked, the damage would become problematic. When it came to delicate qi utilization, Zero was superior to Sila. He wasn’t like Sila who had an enormous qi reserve, so he had learned how to spend his power efficiently.
After the fifth round, Zero stopped to take a break and recover his qi. While resting, he ignored the view of the entire city and instead focused on a specific person.
The image of Risa was clear in his mind. Her hair color was different from her real self, but her overall appearance was the same. She was a confident woman possessing leadership qualities. She could always make her own decisions without relying on others. She was unlike what the public thought of her—a reserved, fragile lady.
She—who was blessed with beauty, social standing, and wealth—turned down an arranged engagement with a perfect and famous gentleman as her partner in order to have a relationship with an ordinary person like him. The news back then was very intense, to the point where some reporters even stalked him and investigated his background, wondering what Lady Risa saw in a guy like him instead of the perfect man. The public even thought their couple wouldn’t last long, which pushed him to ask Risa to break up.
Risa wasn’t angered by this request. Her reply back then was, “We will break up if we find we aren’t suited to each other, not because someone else tells us we aren’t.”
With his mind finally at ease, he got to fully enjoy his time with her without minding the public’s opinions. That period was the happiest time of his life... until his death separated them.
Zero never thought he would have a chance to see her again. One day, however, he heard the news about her entering Monster Soul. He speculated Bluebird must have told her something, piquing her interest and leading her to try the game.
Within the domain of the Demon Lord’s Palm, Risa was close enough to be within arm’s reach. Still, he was hesitating to meet her. It wasn’t until an attack came her way that Zero tightened his mask before teleporting to stop the attack of the goblin jumping at her.
This time, however, instead of simply teleporting away as soon as he had done his part, Zero’s body refused to move. He felt as if his legs were petrified.
His brain clearly knew it was best for them not to see each other. However, his heart refused. Through the eye holes on his grey mask, Zero stared at her, engraving her face deep into his memory... for the last time, he thought.
“You’re... from the 99th squad, right? The friend of that pervert. Did you come to help? Thanks.” Risa looked at him, her mind still confused. She remembered being ambushed, but the goblin suddenly disappeared.
“What’s wrong? Do you want some potions? I still have some left. We can share. They’re self-brewed by me.”
Risa handed Zero a bottle of potion. Its quality was moderate. However, since it was brewed by her, the name [Risa] appeared next to the potion’s name.
Seeing Zero’s unusual silence, Risa felt a bit awkward. Still, she was more worried about her big brother.
“I have to go help that way. Let’s talk later.”
Risa turned around, leaving. Zero had a difficult time forming sentences out of his mouth.
“...Farewell, Sa. Please take care of yourself.”
She had already taken two steps forward before his words—especially the familiarity they contained and how she was addressed—struck her like a lightning bolt. Her mind became blank, totally ignoring the ongoing war. She swiftly turned around.
“Rin!” She blurted, tears welling in her eyes. However, the spot where Zero had been was now empty.
From the roof of a building, Zero was looking at her. He wanted to beat himself up for acting so foolishly. Given her personality, doing this would only make her become more determined to find him.
When it comes to women, men can sometimes become unbelievable fools. Zero knew that. However, he didn’t know whether that was his excuse, or... he actually wanted this to happen, deep down in his heart.
Sometimes, the most correct answer isn’t necessarily the best one. Human relationships are complex and beyond human understanding. Though sometimes it is so easy that people overlook the most obvious answer.
Fireworks could be seen from the forest in the east, prompting goblins to withdraw their troops. It seemed Sila had successfully negotiated with the goblin kings.
Zero canceled the Demon Lord’s Palm spell. He looked at Risa from a far distance with qi-enhanced eyesight. His gaze eventually shifted to a circular health potion in his hand.
“It’s finally time for me to go.”
Zero’s shadow disappeared from the building. Closing along with the curtain of the night was the ending of his love story. Whether the curtain would open once more was something Zero could only hope for.
The west side of Colossia City suffered a lot of damage. Rebuilding the city were tasks usually assigned to low-ranking squads since the jobs were risk-free. Back when the city needed to be cleaned up after the Shadow Army took Colossia City from the Heavenly Dragon Guild, a large portion of the cleaning was assigned to the 99th squad.
With his achievements making up for his mistakes, Sila finally received respect from people as the man who brought peace to the city. While there were casualties on both sides, they decided to not pursue the matter or ask for responsibility. The war naturally led to casualties. It would be counterproductive to the collaboration if they were to ask for compensation.
Sila had been in Colossia City for less than three days, but he felt like he had learned a lot from this place. Although he didn’t get to engage in a fight to the death like usual, the situation forced him to rely on magic power which he was bad at, and that helped him make another breakthrough. His mindset, techniques, and how he perceived lives had all developed from what he experienced as well.
Players and goblins dismissed their past grudges and contributed to restoring the city despite it not being required of them. The sight of this made Sila feel that a ray of hope always existed even in the worst situation as long as he didn’t give up.
Sila was a human representative, together with Yardpirun, to negotiate with the two goblin kings. It took a lot of effort and time for them to finish the agreement for both races to coexist in the same city. The meeting started at two in the morning and ended at seven o’clock. Sila was spent. The sunlight was already shining down as he exited the meeting room to help his squad clean up the city, indicating the dawn of the new day had arrived.
“Hey, Leader!” Upon seeing him exit the main building, Alpha, Miki, and Isaac came to greet him. Looking around, Sila found that his squad was one person short.
“Where is Midnight?” asked Sila.
Miki was surprised. “Ah? Isn’t he with you? We didn’t see him return, so we thought he was also in the meeting.”
Alpha added, “We actually came here to seek him. We don’t know what happened, but Lady Risa from the 9th squad suddenly stormed into our headquarters and demanded to see Midnight. We didn’t know what to tell her, but we thought you might know where he is.”
Isaac’s expression turned quite pale. “Her tone made it sound like he is important to her... like he’s more than a simple acquaintance.”
Miki tapped Isaac on his shoulder. “A pervert like you had no chance from the start, so there is no need for you to grieve. Actually, if I was asked to pick a man in our squad to be my date, I would pick Midnight as well.”
“Well, if I was asked to pick any girl in our squad, I would immediately choose you too, Miss Miki,” Isaac commented. “...Since you’re the only choice.”
“Hahaha!” Alpha laughed as he saw Miki become annoyed. She raised her hand and tried to punch Isaac, who bent his body to dodge it. Although he managed to avoid her fist, he lost his balance and fell over.
Seeing all of this, Sila smiled. “Midnight must be with Fowl. It’s a personal matter, so we should let him handle it himself. The city is mostly fixed. They won’t need us anymore, I guess. How about you go to the Skills Training Ground? I have something to announce tonight.”
“Aren’t you coming with us?” Miki asked as she pulled Isaac up.
“Not yet. I still have something to take care of. Oh, before I forget. Alpha, take this.” Sila handed Alpha a metal dagger. The man showed a confused expression at first, but he obediently followed Sila’s instructions by equipping it. Once equipped, the weapon transformed into a pure white dagger, illuminating.
“Just as I thought. If it’s you, you must have the Level 100 Dagger Mastery skill. You can keep it. This dagger suits you.”
Reading the dagger’s description, Alpha was stunned. This A-grade Seven Strikes Dagger had an amazing ability. Alpha was a tactical magic fighter. His weakness had always been his inability to deliver a lethal strike, making it difficult for him to finish off his opponent. With this dagger, however, he would always have a chance regardless of who his opponent was.
Before Alpha could say anything, Sila cut in, “Using daggers isn’t my style and I want to focus on practicing the skills I already have. I don’t intend to start learning how to use daggers any time soon.”
“Thanks, Leader.” Alpha was grateful, storing the dagger in his system window.
“Sorry I don’t have any gifts for you, Miki and Isaac. Well, goblins are going to open a weapon shop soon. If you want something they’re selling but don’t have enough money, you can tell them that I’ll cover the costs.”
Sila had told people about the truth regarding goblin-made weapons, so players were more than welcome for goblins to start their business in Colossia City. The prices of the weapons were expected to be expensive, however.
The three gave their thanks to Sila again before leaving. Sila waited a few moments before raising his voice.
“You must have waited a long time, Miss Risa. My schedule is quite tight today, so you should hurry up. Tell me what you want.”
Around the corner of the building he had just left, Risa’s body appeared out of thin air. Well, at least it should have looked that way for anyone else. Her illusion didn’t work well on Sila, however. Seeing the building blurry without a proper reason was undeniably eye-catching.
Risa’s Unique Magic focused on the art of illusion, so it granted her a decent level of concealment. It was thanks to Moon Reflecting Mirror enhanced by Monster Heir that Sila managed to see through her illusion.
“May I ask where Midnight is?”
Sila sighed. “You won’t be able to follow him even if I tell you where he is. He intends to leave you behind, for your own good.”
Risa’s expression changed. “Do you know about Rin and I?”
“He mentioned your name to me only once, but that one time was enough for me to understand how much you mean to him. For him, this must be a painful choice, but he is willing to stick to it for you.”
Risa turned back, ready to leave. Seeing so, Sila couldn’t help but be amazed. He thought for sure she would press him for more information.
“I thought you would be more persistent.”
“There is no need. Because I will find him myself.” Risa stopped for a brief moment. “Just knowing that he is still around is enough. Whatever reasons he has, I would like to hear it from his mouth, not from someone else.”
“...The Decagate World.” Sila sent her a sound transmission. “You are probably unqualified to go to that place yet and I don’t know how long Narin plans to stay there. Still, that is his current goal. This is the most I can tell you.”
Risa left. Sila was sure that Zero wouldn’t mind him telling her. He knew that Zero, too, wanted to meet her. Otherwise, given Zero’s ability, there would be no way for Risa to recognize or even catch a glimpse of him.
“Phew~ That ended well.” Sila sighed.
His next destination was the Information Building. He went there in order to deliver a message. He couldn’t do it via his system window since his current status was offline from being dead.
The mail delivering service is helpful when people want to send messages to someone not on their friend list. The service cost was usually trivial but became more expensive during the war event. In a sense, everyone’s system window is like a smartphone, capable of making video calls and sending free messages. It wasn’t strange that the outdated mail delivery service was unpopular.
Sila wrote a letter, which was a very rare sight to see in modern times. In fact, most people in the current generation have no idea such a thing even exists. Still, by writing the letter, Sila felt a sense of nostalgia. When he lived in the dojo, he could only make phone calls for emergencies. Contacting another dojo for anything—like requesting a match—was always done via written letters, most likely because receiving a letter of challenge was cooler than receiving an email of challenge. While it was true that he couldn’t operate an automatic-cooker or drive new cars, he was quite knowledgeable when it came to analog objects.
As Sila finished folding the letter, the mail transformed into a white pigeon and flew away, ignoring his confusion. Asking a nearby NPC, the man said that it was because Sila had brought the cheapest type of letter—the pigeon kind. While it was romantic, it took time for the pigeon to reach the receiver.
“Will it reach the receiver for sure?” Sila asked.
“Definitely, sir. No one in their right mind would catch harmless flying birds. They’re like parts of the background.” The NPC ensured, totally clueless that such a person actually existed. In fact, that person had already caught ten thousand tailorbirds.
With that, another matter had been resolved. The letter he had just sent was for Varee. Seeing how she was in a bad mood due to the death of her close friend, Sila didn’t want her to worry about his death. He hoped his letter would help to soothe her mind a little.
“Come to think of it, Varee has more friends than I thought. She frequently showed up in front of me back then. I thought she only had a few friends.”
As soon as Sila exited the building, he suddenly heard the sound of quick footsteps approaching him. He moved away, not blocking the entrance. However, seeing the face of the person coming his way, he scratched his head in confusion.
The person was none other than Varee, her hand crumbling the letter he had just sent less than a minute ago. Coincidentally, she was nearby, so his mail was in her hand faster than Sila anticipated.
“I knew I was right. No wonder I thought you felt familiar.”
“I think you got the wrong person. I—”
Varee caught his arm, pulled a black invitation card, and announced, “Go to the Mansion of Secrets.”
The two of their bodies vanished from Colossia City and reappeared next to each other in the garden in front of the mansion. The scenery would be more romantic if a stern-looking wuxia man statue wasn’t standing there as part of the landscape.
As Sila was about to insist on denying her claim, Julia appeared and greeted them.
“Mister Sila, Mistress. Welcome back. Would you like some snacks?”
Sila sighed. He never expected Varee to use his maid against him. Julia could recognize him due to his status as her master, not his appearance, so she was the best proof Varee could ever ask for. It was too late for him to even rely on the ability of the Thief Lord’s Mask to temporarily disguise his face.
“Hello, Varee. Long time no see.” Sila removed his mask.
Varee’s gaze lingered on Sila’s face, which she hadn’t seen for a long time, to the point where she forgot to reprimand him for his past actions. Sila’s face was still the same, but his eyes had changed significantly. The first time they met, Sila’s eyes were like ones belonging to a child—clear and bright, stubborn, yet filled with determination. Now, however, his eyes were mystifying and arcane. They were ones belonging to a man who had experienced countless hardships and had been through the world. Not much time had passed since the last time they spoke, but it seemed Sila had become a totally different person.
“Varee?” Sila wondered. He rubbed his face. “Is there dirt on my face? Did I get it off?”
“No, there is— Kya!”
A small black silhouette lunged at Sila. Realizing what it was, he pulled Varee behind him using his left hand while using his right hand to gently receive the mysterious object.
“Don’t worry. This little guy is my pet. He is as energetic as Lookhin was in the past.”
Sila’s palm wasn’t particularly large, but the two-headed small puppy could manage to balance itself on it using its two legs. One of the heads stuck its tongue out, panting, while the other head opened its mouth, playfully chewing Sila’s thumb. If it wasn’t for his qi aura protecting him, the thumb would have already become the puppy’s snack.
Varee distanced herself from Sila, hiding her embarrassment. “Another pet? Is it because you’re the Monster Emperor that you have to surround yourself with pets?”
“That’s not true. Aside from Lookhin, this guy is the only one. I only have two pets. The rest come and go as they wish,” Sila replied before turning to Julia. “By the way, have you come up with a name for him yet?”
“Not yet, Master. Knowing that you got him from Zhongsuyuan City, I thought about giving it a Chinese name such as Hei Se (Black) or Fu Qi (Good Fortune). However, he was very adamant about rejecting all the names I suggested.”
Observing the puppy, Sila frowned. “Well, this guy came from the Town of Beginnings, actually. He became the Werewolf King, then was possessed by souls in the Inverse Zhongsuyuan City...”
Julia clapped as she got an idea. “Soul? How about we call him Ling (Spirit)?”
“That sounds great. Okay! From now on, your name will be Ling.”
Its two heads simultaneously bit Sila’s hand. Witnessing the scene, Varee couldn’t help but chuckle. “Could it be that it doesn’t like the singular-sounding name because it has two heads? How about Ling Ling?”
“Is that so? Ling Ling. Do you like it now?”
You have successfully submitted the name of your pet, Ling Ling, the Two-Headed Orthos, Level 1 Squire Rank.
“Finally.” Sila put the puppy down, letting it run around. “Took you long enough, Ling Ling. Do you want to go outside?”
Julia put a dog bowl on the ground. “Master, while Ling Ling’s rank is low, his skill pool is far beyond standard. It seems he is still not used to cultivating Vast Sky Qi. I sometimes saw him squirming in pain, prompting me to carry him to sleep in the dojo. I think it’s safer for him to stay with me in the mansion.”
“I guess so.” Sila turned to Varee. “Can you please take care of him for a while, Varee?”
“Eh? Where are you going?”
“I have to complete a certain quest. It’s a quest that I have to do alone. I can’t tell you much, but I will explain once I come back in the evening. Can you wait?” Sila told her the truth. Knowing her personality, he was finally aware that being honest with her was the most effective way to deal with her.
“Is that a promise?”
Sila nodded. “It is. You don’t need to take a bet for killing bandits or anything like that to force me. I’m considered the Thief Monarch, remember?”
Varee chuckled. “Hahaha! That’s right. You’re the boss of bandits. If you don’t keep the promise, I will teach you all the way by hunting you down.”
“It’s good that you can laugh. See you again in the evening.”
Sila teleported, exiting his mansion. He exited the city and visited the goblin’s temporary camps, located on the east side of the city.
He had talked to the two goblin kings last night. The two didn’t agree to help him, however, though they did so out of their concern for him. Still, Sila insisted on meeting them again today.
Since the agreement regarding living together was more or less finished, today would be the last day the goblins lived outside the city. They were removing their camps. Some of them had already migrated to the city, setting up areas to open their businesses.
Each goblin wore a bright smile on their face. For the first time after ten years, they finally got to return to their beloved hometown. While it was true that Colossia City wasn’t their birthplace, it was still the town they had built from the ground up. Sila’s current feeling was similar to when he had just befriended Rex and the Single-Horned Dragons.
Even though the world of Monster Soul was brutal, he was confident that there was more to it than just the darkness.
“You should reconsider, Sir Sila. I personally think that you’re not ready for this task yet,” Remdier dissuaded Sila once he saw the human arrive.
“I’m ready. I promised everyone I will meet them again this evening. I’m going to come back no matter what.”
Remdier and Ramidas looked at each other. They no longer stopped Sila. Each of the goblin kings took out a small dagger, which was identical to the one Sila got from the tournament. They stabbed the daggers into the ground, then pointed at an empty spot.
“Plunge your dagger down to make the area become a triangle, then stand inside.”
Thrusting the dagger into the ground, a white line formed between the three daggers. The triangular area inside was glowing pure white.
“The Holy Sanctum of Weapons is a domain that requires at least three monsters of Lord Rank or above who possess the Weapon Enlightenment skill as activators. It’s fortunate that your rank is Lord, so we can pull it off. For the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword, you may spend a lifetime trying to find it but to no avail. One of the Blade Daughters is Anastasia—the World Detester. Unless she is willing to appear before you, no one will ever find them.”
“Thus... Unless they are interested in you and decide to show up, you will have to display what you’re capable of in order to summon them. Please be careful. They were originally swords, so they can activate their abilities even without external energy. And... exactly because they were originally swords, their swordsmanship is top-class.”
Remdier gave Sila a metal sword. “I will let you borrow this sword. You’re going to need everything you can ask for in order to survive.”
Sila didn’t reject their good intentions, and gratefully received the sword. Walking into the domain, the last thing he heard was Ramidas’ parting words.
“Make sure you come back, my friend. May Lady Igsia smile upon you.”
Once Sila opened his eyes, his first thought was that he was dreaming.
The Holy Sanctum of Weapons had a similar name to the Grim Sanctum of Weapons, but their interiors were worlds apart. Unlike the latter domain where the atmosphere was murky, representing an old battlefield, the former was a lush grass field that stretched out endlessly beyond the horizon. While there were numerous swords sticking out of the ground, making the area look like a graveyard, they didn’t create a sad feeling. Instead, Sila felt like each sword was peacefully resting in this place, away from the outside world full of conflict.
Sila honestly thought that his existence was the only thing out of place in this perfect domain.
“How can I know what the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword looks like?”
Sila had seen the image of the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword through Zarnak’s projection, but he later discovered that what he had seen was merely one of the seven original blades. What does the sword look like after the seven of them combined into one weapon? Even Zarnak had never seen it.
The metal sword in his hand glowed briefly. A vision projecting the man in wuxia clothes reappeared in Sila’s mind. This time, the man wasn’t holding the Seven Strikes Dagger but the metal sword Sila was using. The man pointed the tip of the sword toward the sky, channeled his psychic power through it, and shot a beam upward. The beam ascended, then exploded like a firework. It dispersed into red psychic particles, raining down.
The vision ended.
Sila observed the sword in his hand again and found that it wasn’t A-grade. It was an ordinary C-grade metal sword with no special options.
He had talked with the goblin kings the night before about the user of the Psychic Weapon Recording skill. Knowing that Sila was a citizen of Colossia City, the two seemed surprised by the question. Regardless, they were willing to answer.
According to them, Colossia City was the only place in Monster Soul where the city of the same name and objective overlapped in all of the three worlds—the New World, the Decagate World, and the Monster Realm. The level of competitive tournaments in each world varied, obviously.
The two goblin kings told him that ever since the past until now, the ‘Ten Heroes’ were the only figures spreading their names all over Monster Soul, regardless of planes.
Ramidas said he thought Sila must have already known about the Ten Heroes since one of them, namely the ‘Assassin Lord’, lived in the underground beneath Colossia City. Sila speculated that it must be Fowl’s title. He began to understand why she gave off a different vibe compared to the other monsters he had encountered.
“The person you saw through the Seven Strikes Dagger is the ‘Little Martial God’. He is a hero with extremely high combat skills even among the Ten Heroes. His real name is Xiao Dao (Little Sword), and his race is uncertain. He is the master of weapons. Even the lowest grade sword will become an A-grade first-class weapon if he channels his psychic power into it. Back when we goblins fled from the Monster Realm, we accidentally met him. The time we spent with him was short, only one night, but we got along well due to our common love for weapons. He taught us many special skills related to weapons. In fact, Weapon Enlightenment is one of the skills we learned from him.”
The sword that Sila borrowed wasn’t anything special, but it was the one that the Little Martial God had engraved a particular skill into using Psychic Weapon Recording and left with the goblins before he departed.
After some inquiries, Sila discovered that Psychic Weapon Recording is a skill that lets the user record a memory into a weapon. When the weapon is held by others and they perform some actions predetermined by the user, the skill will pull the holder’s consciousness to confront the recorded experience.
The vision generated from Psychic Weapon Recording isn’t a simple series of images like what Zarnak had shown to him from time to time. Instead, the Psychic Weapon Recording skill enables the weapon holder to experience things using all of their senses like they are actually living in the moment shown.
This allows the holder to mimic the actions that the Little Martial God had performed somewhat easier than if they had tried without seeing the experience. Sila figured it must be his way of imparting skills to others.
“Channeling psychic power through a sword and sending it into the sky to search for a target. That should be it. I wonder whether the Little Martial God’s psychic power and my Dark Psychic Corrosion share the same property though.”
Dark Self communicated with him in his mind, “Psychic ability never has a boundary. It’s just that each person has different aptitudes, so they mentally limit themselves to those aptitudes without improving their psychic abilities in other areas.”
Trying it out, Sila channeled his black psychic power into the sword and pointed it up in the same manner he had seen. He shot a black beam toward the sky. It exploded and dispersed as black particles. The sight wasn’t as captivating as when the Little Martial God did it, but at least it looked similar.
“Our natures of psychic power are different, so it isn’t unexpected that the result won’t be exactly the same. Still, isn’t it too easy?”
The black particles slowly descended like snow. Sila intended to search far and wide in one go, so he deliberately spread them over a three-kilometer radius.
Once the psychic particles touched the weapons anchored in the field, Sila collapsed. Many strange, incomprehensible voices were shouting inside his head, granting him a great headache. He could barely sit with his knees against the ground, his fresh blood bleeding through his ears.
“Argghhhh!!!” There had only been a few times while playing Monster Soul where Sila had screamed in pain. The pain he received this time was exceptionally severe.
He circulated qi to heal his ears, relieving the pain. The volume of the voices gradually lowered.
Standing up, Sila found his body drenched in sweat, his face pale like a sick person. He slowly circulated qi to recover his physical condition.
“Why did this happen? Can I see the vision again?” Sila requested, and the sword in his hand obediently complied. The exact same vision unfolded, but this time Sila closely observed the man’s actions, not willing to miss anything. He then realized his mistake.
“I see. Weapon Enlightenment is a part of this move. I forgot psychic power is difficult to control, cluelessly having useless thoughts while I was at it. Listening to a weapon without proper focus might be fine, but with this many, I will die if I don’t pay attention.”
Apparently, the technique that the Little Martial God had engraved within the sword was how to expand the area of effect of Weapon Enlightenment by scattering particles of psychic power, enabling him to listen to surrounding weapons in the same manner of a lost man asking for directions from nearby people. However, not only was Sila an amateur with a psychic foundation that paled in comparison to the Little Martial God’s, but he was also not paying attention. As a result, the weapons tried to get him to hear what they were saying by raising their voices. The voices rang directly next to his ears, so it felt as if hundreds or thousands of people were simultaneously shouting from right next to him. Even worse, each weapon wasn’t so simple. Some of them were elite weapons containing their own sources of energy. Thus, the voices he heard through Weapon Enlightenment contained special power.
Sila fixed the problem by utilizing the Cloud Part of Flaming Cloud Qi, heightening his concentration and emptying his mind. As he was ready to listen, he raised the sword upward and shot a black beam of psychic power for the second time.
While what came from Weapon Enlightenment were voices, they didn’t communicate with meaningful words but with feelings. As he paid attention to each of them, they no longer shouted. What he heard were silent whispers.
They told him where the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword was. It wasn’t as far as he had anticipated. In fact, it was right before his eyes before he knew it.
A dark blue sword was in front of Sila, the tip piercing the ground. The length of the sword was slightly longer than usual. The blade was slender, entirely made of high-grade crystals. Its hilt was as long as the blade, making it look like a short lance rather than a sword. Its beauty was unquestionable since it was a masterpiece personally made by Lady Igsia.
“You must be Anastasia. I’d like to meet Isabel.”
The blue flash from the sword quickly enveloped Sila’s view. Once he could see again, he found himself in a circular hall. Spread out in front of him in a semi-circle were seven swords bound by black chains, each sticking out of the floor like the blades from the field he was in just moments ago. All of the chains extended and converged in the center of the hall, curling together layer upon layer. Something seemed to be under them. Sila wasn’t too sure what was inside, but he felt it was another sword.
“Why eight? Didn’t you say the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword is composed of seven swords, Zarnak?”
There was no reply, so Sila asked again, “Zarnak? Can you hear me?”
“No one can enter this world unless I allow it.” An oppressive feminine voice—like one belonging to a queen—rang out. Turning his head toward the source of the voice, Sila spotted the same sword that had brought him here. Behind the sword was the blurry silhouette of a woman in light armor with a blue ponytail behind her back.
“Are you Anastasia?”
The woman ignored Sila’s question. “Are you also looking for power?”
Sila swept his eyes all over the place. The hall was an enclosed room with no exit. He couldn’t possibly run away no matter what happened.
“Power is not what I seek. It is just a means to help me acquire what I want.”
“Do you mean... as long as you can get what you want, you are fine with being powerless?”
Anastasia snapped her fingers, then seven more silhouettes emerged. Each of them stood freely behind the sword they represented, with the silhouette at the center of the room being the sole exception. She was a young woman with short white hair. Her whole body was confined by chains. Even her ears and eyes were restrained, making her look like a prisoner.
“He wants to meet you, Isabel.”
“Yes, Sister Anastasia.”
Sila shifted his gaze from the female prisoner to the one responding to Anastasia’s call. The owner of the voice was a young woman, her short sky-blue hair glowing with a faint magical aura. Her outfit was a slender white dress that exposed her shoulders. The most outstanding feature about her was none other than the sword in front of her. The sword was made of pure white metal, decorated with light-blue crystals. It was a standard longsword, with its beauty alone making the Crystal Divine Sword seem like a second-grade weapon. Magic power continued to pour out of its blade, seemingly without a limit.
“Is this the rumored Sword-Crowning Ceremony, the trial I have to overcome? How will you determine my success?” Sila only knew he had to fight against one of the Blade Daughters, though he was clueless regarding what he must do in order to succeed or what mistakes would cause him to fail.
“Until Isabel acknowledges you.”
The white longsword was removed from its confinement, returning to its owner. Demonic Armaments were essentially items, so they couldn’t normally draw out their power directly unless they converted external sources of power into their own as the Lamentable Dragon did. Zarnak’s method of utilizing a special dimension was also an alternative, similar to what the Blade Daughters were doing. The hall was a hidden world created by Anastasia. Within this space, they could wield their full power easily.
Enveloping Isabel—the Spell Breaker—was a constant flow of sky-blue magic power. Sila couldn’t tell for sure how large her magic power reserve was, but it surely wouldn’t be less than the Dragon Empress Infernee.
Sila had trained for the fight against Isabel, but he still wanted to witness the Spell Breaker’s magic-cancellation ability with his own eyes. He created a hundred flame magic arrows before mercilessly firing them all at the young woman.
No one in the hall paid attention to Sila’s attacks, Isabel included. She merely drew a vertical straight line on the air using her longsword, then the flames on the arrows extinguished. The magic power within them was absorbed into her longsword.
Isabel jumped. The sky-blue magic power followed her movement, coiling around her body, making her seem like a majestic bird flying in the sky. She cut the air horizontally, and her magic power formed seven sword waves. Then, swinging the longsword vertically, she sent all sword waves toward Sila at a speed comparable to a lightning bolt.
The seven waves of magic power moved in a simple manner, yet hidden in each of them were seven irregular courses of movements. They seemed easy to dodge at first glance, but they actually flowed perfectly and smoothly, pressuring Sila with no room for him to escape.
The most effective way to deal with a perfect sword art was to counter it with a straightforward swordsmanship. Sila, who had read and comprehended the Story of A Hundred Swords, clad his metal sword with psychic power and blatantly thrust it forward. The thrust was so forceful that it looked like a brush of black ink being dropped on a perfectly drawn illustration, breaking Isabel’s sword waves apart in a single strike.
Given a window of opportunity, Sila focused his qi on his left index finger, unleashing yizichan by jabbing at thin air.
Million Clouds Qi Technique — Mysterious Star.
This yizichan was a move using the Attributes of Earth, Fire, and Wood. It showed up as a tiny black ball, mysteriously hanging in the air before it began to sprout up—From one to two, two to four, four to eight, and still counting. They were lingering in the air, seizing the area. Despite not having shown any abilities yet, they sure gave a sense of discomfort to Sila’s opponent while he himself felt more secure.
Isabel hit some of the mysterious balls with her longsword once, but it only made them split up further. She frowned slightly, but the serious expression looked quite adorable.
The title Spell Breaker wasn’t just for show. Against Isabel’s power, competing in a power contest would be like giving up. Fowl’s advice was that Sila mustn’t directly clash with her. Isabel’s longsword represented a near-infinite source of power. Wielding it, the holder could directly extract mana from the sword without minding the ambient mana in nature. In the case that the holder possessed superior Unison Percentage than an opponent, they would even be able to absorb the magic power that the opponent had released like what happened to Sila previously.
It could be said that acquiring Isabel means possessing a semi-infinite magic power reserve. The maximum limit of her energy reserve came from the accumulated amount of energy reserves that her previous wielders had abandoned in order to wield her. The main element of her magic power was the same as her most recent magic-type wielder. It had been a long time since he wielded the blade, but the Archangel Lucifer was still the last person to use her. Thus, Isabel’s current element affinity was light while the maximum value of her magic points was currently 22 digits long.
Isabel raised the longsword above her head. It shone a bright aurora, generating an intense magic power explosion. She subdued Sila’s techniques using superior power. Every Mysterious Star crumbled.
Sila had learned from Fowl that he couldn’t hope to win by using magic power or qi. He had a lower Unison Percentage, so his magic would just be absorbed. Meanwhile, qi was weaker than magic power. In a direct clash of power, even if his qi reserve grew ten times larger, it would still be insignificant compared to Isabel’s magic power reserve.
He had to rely on his psychic power or combining his moves with Omniscient Evil God Qi in order to have a shot at winning. Fowl had commented that even when considering their swordsmanship alone, Sila was still inferior to any of the Blade Daughters by a large margin.
Isabel’s swordsmanship emphasized the usefulness of a longsword with double edges. Her moves were simple, smooth, and meticulous. While they weren’t aggressive, each of her beautiful swings were deadly. Her movements, while captivating, always stimulated Sila’s keen sense of danger. Even though their blades had yet to cross, he already felt like death was moments away from tapping him on the shoulder.
In his entire collection, the only weapon that could fight against her was the Bloody Demon Sword, which was a psychic-type object. Sila summoned it in his right hand while tossing the metal sword to his left. Since Heaven’s Decree Sword Art didn’t work on her due to the lack of mana, he had to utilize the other sword arts he had encountered instead. While he might be inexperienced, it would still be better than aimlessly swinging swords.
Channeling condensed psychic power into both swords, Sila brandished them while following the movements of the Heartless Steel Sword Dojo. Killing intent manifested as oppressive flying energy blades. The swords were heartless, as was their wielder. It seemed Sila had comprehended the sword art even better than Paiyuan. He looked like the reincarnation of the Aloof Juang Jing.
The prominent trait of the Heartless Steel Sword Art was the might that overwhelmed an opponent with countless energy blades. They spread out like vicious black tigers breaking free from their cage, crazily roaming all over Heaven. They bombarded Isabel’s coiling mana, tearing it apart, revealing a crack.
Sila accelerated. Using his superior speed, he lunged through the aurora crack, and violently swung both of his swords at her.
“My apologies. You’re strong, but not strong enough to defeat me.”
The sweet voice came out of Isabel’s small curvy mouth, sincere and devoid of cynicism. She honestly didn’t mean to look down on him, just stating the truth and expressing pity. The white blade glowed bright like a ray of sunshine wiping away darkness. It was the simplest technique belonging to a user of light-based power.
With the bright light swallowing him whole, Sila was forced to close his eyes. A tidal wave of light-element mana washed away all of Sila’s psychic power reinforcement. The feeling of absolute security, like he was warmly embraced in his mother’s womb, caressed his skin. It made his mind become blank momentarily.
A moment later, the white blade was already at his neck.
The blade mildly sunk into his neck. Sila only regained his senses once it had sunk half an inch into his flesh. He hurriedly unleashed his power from within in order to escape his demise.
Million Clouds Qi Technique — Supernova.
Sila’s power exploded. Unlike previous times when he usually sent his enemies flying back, however, he was the one blasted away by the impact, crashing against the floor. Meanwhile, Isabel softly landed with grace befitting her appearance. She returned to her original position, next to her sisters, as if the battle had concluded.
And it actually had. Many people had warned Sila several times that the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword was an item above all other Demonic Armaments. He wasn’t capable of even making Isabel get serious.
The difference in power made him realize he had always been a frog in a well. Fowl might have increased his odds of success but by how much? He was unsure. Who knows? It might have only gone up from 0% to 1%.
Sila tried to open his mouth, yet no sound came out. Jets of blood burst out from his neck. The wound refused to close despite his best attempt to heal it. Isabel had clad her attack with light-element magic power. The amount of her magic power coursing through his body right now was even higher than the maximum value of his special energy reserve. The current situation was similar to when he was hit by Infernee’s invasive magic power. However, Isabel’s large quantity of mana was beyond what Dark Psychic Corrosion could erode.
His skin torn apart. The bleeding got worse. No matter how hard he tried to circulate qi, Isabel’s magic power always prevailed.
Refusing to give up but running out of ideas to survive, Sila got up. He blindly staggered around while pressing his palm on his neck before eventually collapsing in a pool of his own blood.
“Teehee. You lost, you overconfident man.”
Sila heard a girl’s cheerful chuckle. His sight was fading because of the blood in his eyes, however, so he couldn’t see who was talking to him.
“Wh—” He wanted to ask who she was, but that broken voice was all he could muster with his impaired larynx.
“Do you want my help? But you have to promise to take me outside.”
Amidst the darkness, just a flickering flame from a tiny candle is enough to draw an adventurer in. Likewise, drowning in the fierce torrent called despair, Sila sought for even the thinnest thread to grab onto.
“...” Sila actually wanted to ask for more information, yet his mouth moved without making any sound, which the receiver of the message took as his agreement.
“You’ll die a million times if you break the promise, okay?”
Suddenly, one of Sila’s eyes became exceptionally clear. The first thing he saw was the prisoner girl. She was talking to him without moving her lips. It turned out that he had staggered in the darkness and fell right in the center of the hall. Despite her eyes and ears being restrained, her small lips curled up once Sila looked at her, showing her mischievous smile.
A bizarre transformation abruptly ran wild in Sila’s body. His blood flowed back into his throat, and the wound closed in an instant. The previously approaching death became a part of him. His hair, skin, and armor were dyed pitch-black. The vision he saw through his eye turned blood red. His body was subconsciously vibrating, prompting him to let out a loud roar to ease the discomfort within.
His Bloody Demon Sword had returned to its card form. On the other hand, the metal sword flew to his right hand. It was dyed black following the color of his transformation as soon as he touched it as if it had been contaminated by a bottomless pit of darkness.
The sword mutated and reshaped itself, becoming a black magical sword with several segmented blades, looking like a centipede. Each segment looked wickedly sharp. All of the segments together created a blade two meters long, but the hilt was only as long as his palm, making it impossible to hold with two hands. There was no trace of the holiness that could be seen in the other swords of the Blade Daughters, but its splendor was by no means inferior. Their magnificent grandeurs were comparable like light and darkness. It contained the charm of beauty that bewitched people.
Sila couldn’t resist his urge to howl. The darkness was joyfully coiling around itself in his mind, subconsciously pushing him to take a step forward. The speed of his attack was so quick that the blade already reached Isabel’s throat when he made his first move.
T/N: Sorry for the long delay. Our team's editor is currently very busy with his IRL stuff and we can't find a suitable replacement. In order for the translation to continue without taking a hiatus, we decide to release the unedited version for the time being. These chapters will be marked with "(Unedited)" at the end of the chapters and the term will be removed once they are edited. Thank you for understanding.
Chapter 359: Dichotomous Crucifix (Unedited)
The color of the world is neither white nor black.
The light normally represents goodness while the darkness always represents malignance.
Which is more powerful? There is probably no answer to that question, and never will. The two polar opposite powers are mutually exclusive. They complete each other and maintain the universal balance. If there is one day where one power has an overwhelming advantage over one another, it will be the ending day of everything.
While the two are each other’s greatest rivals, they ultimately can’t live without the other.
Sila’s mind didn’t become empty but was filled with countless thoughts that couldn’t possibly be conveyed into words. He felt the dampness in the air, the ambient mana, the wind generating from movements, the heat from his body, the coldness of swords, and the sound of his breathing. It was as if his mind had become a black hole, swallowing various information into his head. It was a mental concept that was the polar opposite of Moon Reflecting Mirror.
Strangely, he felt neither burden nor headache by it like he thought it should have been. Every information flowed through his mind like a river gently went past a rock underwater. Not only the process sharpened his focus, but it also gradually scrubbed off his useless thoughts, purifying his mind.
If cleansing one’s mind and attaining the state where the mind became like an undisturbed clear lake was the best way for him to display his full potential, the current state of Sila’s mind was like a borderless galaxy devoid of light where nothing could contaminate it.
The paths might be different, but the end of the road was the same answer: the perfect clarity of mind, without a single adulterated thing.
The color holds no meaning at all.
Sila’s energy reserve was constantly leaking, bending its shape into a thin layer of black mucus, covering his skin. It protected him from outside threats, acting like metal armor. Meanwhile, Sila, who was inside, felt extremely comfortable as if he was living in a dark paradise.
He sensed and felt various information, yet everything outside seemed insignificant to him.
The pressure, the heat, his thoughts, his life, and his morals were left behind as they were mere shells. His mind, while vast, contained only one thing and one thing alone.
It was his real self—the black creature wearing the armor of darkness.
The sword in his hand moved. It was an action out of his pure instinct without any second thought. Its speed was transcended. Sila still stood on the same spot, but the blade of his sword extended into various segments.
People probably have different opinions when it comes to the term ‘sword’. Still, as long as an object has a sharp blade, without a shallow mindset, it isn’t entirely incorrect to call the object a sword whether it’s short or long, thin or thick, soft or hard, designed for stabbing or swinging, or has single or double edges.
His sword became like an amalgamation of a whip and a sword, yet he didn’t think it was difficult to control. A part of him told him that how to use it was no different from using Sealing Chain or Weapon Subduing Hands where he shot qi energy as projectiles.
Isabel lifted up her white longsword to block the attack once it reached her neck. Sila’s black segmented blades shattered upon impact. The segments broke apart into debris, which later imbued with black magic power. They turned into black magical energy blades flying at Isabel. Though she could calmly parry them away effortlessly.
Sila’s swordsmanship was truly a few levels below her. Each of Blade Daughters was the master of her type of sword. Every of her swordplay could bring forth the most of her power.
Sila’s vision from his other eye gradually became clearer. The Weapon Enlightenment skill didn’t inform him about either the name of the sword he was using or its abilities, yet he was somehow fully aware of what he should do next. This realization came directly to his mind from the white-haired girl who let him borrow her strength.
More of his special points were consumed, converting into black magic power that crept toward the tip of the broken sword and immediately repaired it.
Sila shifted his gaze to observe the other Blade Daughters and found that no one aside from Isabel moved from their usual spots. He wondered why. He was collaborating with their prisoner. He wouldn’t think it was strange even if they all came to attack him.
“These girls are not that stupid,” the white-haired girl said. “The eight of us are the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword. Seven to one. Light to darkness. The balance will always be equal. That’s my ability. With only one of them stepping out of the seal, I can only exert only a seventh of my power. They prefer this way since it will be easier to control the scale of the battle.”
Sila’s mind sunk into the white-haired girl’s past sentiment. War. Bloodshed. Seven Blade Daughters were forced to assault each other against their wills. Their negative emotions spiked with sadness, regret, and anger. Everything molded the seven of them into a Demonic Armament.
However, they were weapons created by the Goddess. Their existences were too pure to be tainted by negative energy. With their frustration building up with no way to exit, it eventually manifested as the eight sword that helped them escape from the dark, evil thoughts. The new sword was the representative of the impurity that the Seven Blade Daughters themselves couldn’t display.
Nerissa—the Guardian of the End, the dark side of the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword.
She was the untainted blackness, representing the purest form of darkness.
Her birth was the answer to the Blade Daughters’ unsolvable problem. Fights, war, competition, and all conflicts can easily be solved with a simple word.
Without living creatures, conflicts will naturally cease to exist.
Her ambition transferred to Sila’s. He felt a spreading warmth of determination through his extremities. The sword in his hand heated up like it was melting into his flesh.
A single exchange of swords between Nerissa and Isabel was enough for Sila to acquire more information.
Like how a river flows to the sea, the path of victory appeared in his mind.
“Watch it with your eyes. Listen to it with your ears. Taste it with your tongue. Smell it with your nose. Feel it with your skin. Understand it with your conscious mind, and sense it with your heart. We’re the origin of all things, yet we are also the end,” said Nerissa.
Omniscient Evil God Qi.
The golden qi flowed through his veins and entered the black sword while Dark Psychic Corrosion enveloped it. The curvy segmented blades shrunk back before extending into a straight line, reshaping itself to become a longsword similar to Isabel’s.
His left hand behind his back, Sila wielded the longsword with only one hand, calmly and gently swung it to clash against Isabel.
Their swords looked similar, but their swordplays didn’t.
Several clashes were exchanged in an instant, yet that instant felt like an eternity in the pure darkness devoid of time.
Exactly like what Zarnak had claimed. The Dichotomous Crucifix Sword was the weapon several tiers beyond others.
A longsword against a longsword. Light against darkness. Isabel could still maintain her composure and perfect forms, making no mistakes.
Nerissa was a strange sword. She would be an ordinary sword in the hands of normal people, but she would unleash her brilliance when in the hands of a skilled individual.
Compared to Isabel, Sila was weaker, his swordsmanship was inferior, and his power was limited. There were various reasons blocking Sila from seizing the victory over her. He was fully aware. He might spot a path to victory, but that didn’t mean he could easily pull it off.
This was the battle that even a single mistake could cost him his life. Although it seemed like he was on the offensive, it was actually the offense for the sake of defense. His energy reserve was limited, so he couldn’t maintain the use of Nerissa forever. As long as Isabel was firm in her defense, dragging the battle on, victory would eventually fall into her lap.
The battle would end once he ran out of his power. His defeat was inevitable.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Sila was using his brain more than they thought. In addition to Omniscient Evil God Qi and Dark Psychic Corrosion, the reason why he didn’t move from his position was that he was using yet another skill through his left palm. Vast Sky Qi continued to absorb surplus power in the air to regenerate his special points.
Vast Sky Qi has the ability to permanently increase maximum health points or special points when the user’s reserves are full. However, when the reserves aren’t full, the qi will simply regenerate them.
If this was a normal battle, the Vast Sky Qi that he only recently practiced would give him a negligible recovery rate of energy. However, this was a high-level battle. The residual of Isabel’s power that chipped out from the spark of each clash was both pure and valuable.
Seeing that Sila didn’t use magic abilities, Isabel didn’t mind to seize control of ambient mana. For Sila, this was like there were high-grade recovery potions floating in the air, waiting for him to consume.
The longer the fight continued, the sharper Sila’s swordsmanship became. Every time Isabel changed her approach to finding his openings, Sila would learn how to use a longsword better. Still, for a master swordswoman like Isabel, Sila’s improvement was by no means significant. Even though his swordsmanship was improving, hers was already beyond the level he was going to reach since the day she was born.
She didn’t have to learn the way of swords since she herself was a sword. The sword she wielded and the sword art she used were always the perfect ones for her.
Her swordplay would always be flawless. Sila couldn’t afford to wait for her to make mistakes. He was proceeding to the path of defeat. He must do something to break the stalemate. However, he also had to be careful, not making a mistake himself.
‘I can’t catch a cub without going into the tiger’s den. My energy resource is limited while she isn’t. This battle is like when I was up against the Lamentable Dragon. I have to defeat her in one hit, ending it in an instant!’
With a firm resolve, Sila’s swordplays began to change for a more offensive approach. He already got the hang of Isabel’s swordsmanship. Her swordplays might be flexible, but they still focused on a particular concept. That made him be able to roughly predict her actions.
The black blades extended like a whip, encircling Isabel. Its maximum length could whirl two laps around her. Sila used Weapon Subduing Hands through the irregular sword. One couldn’t easily tell his attack was a stab, a swipe, a strike, or a squeeze.
It was the attack on the principle of ‘Martial Formless’ which Sila was most excellent at.
True is False and False is True. The segmented blades swirled around, seemingly randomly yet each segment harmoniously performed its own attack. Isabel knitted her brows for a second time.
At long last, Sila had come to the point where she took him seriously.
The sky-blue crystal on the white longsword was shrouded in arcane mana. The radiant mana was tender like a cloud and gentle like the breezing wind. It spread over, manifesting into seventeen magical floating light-blue swords that systematically flew to block all segmented blades. As for the genuine longsword, its tip flew toward Sila’s chest, aiming at the opening that appeared because he made a big move.
...The opening that Sila showed it deliberately.
Million Clouds Qi Technique — Solar Crushing Bolt.
It was the move that combined the power of Attributes of Fire and Metal, being direct, intense, and fierce in contrast to the previous gentle exchanges of swords. Isabel’s swordsmanship inclined to the wood element. Burning it with fire and cutting it with metal were his way to break the stalemate of the battle. It was his attempt to pull the flow of the fight to his favor.
His savage kick sprang up, stomping the inside part of Isabel’s arm, which she had extended in order to stab him. From the outsider’s perspective, her arm was slender, white, and tender. It couldn’t possibly endure the kick, meaning Sila’s action was brutal and cruel. However, what appeared outside could be deceptive. With her magic power reinforcement, her body was extremely adamant. In usual cases, Sila’s kick would be no different from an egg hitting a rock.
Isabel’s power might be near bottomless, but migrating energy reinforcement was a complicated procedure. Sila had forced her to waste seventeen parts of her power to defend against his powerless attacks and another part to counterattack him. Metaphorically, she was in the middle of exhaling. At the moment before she could inhale and adjust her breathing was a vital opening.
Sila was betting on whether the remaining power in her body was enough to protect her against his all-out kick.
Sila’s kick heavily hit her arm, knocking her white longsword from her hand, flying upward. He could feel his attack connected, meaning Isabel’s remaining energy wasn’t enough to completely negate it. The impact split into two layers. The first ran through her arm and reached her fingers while the second left an intense burning sensation on them. That was the reason why she involuntarily released her grip.
Isabel jumped back to secure some distance. She quickly absorbed the surrounding ambient mana to perfectly heal herself in a blink of an eye.
The decisive moment for Sila had ended. Isabel was aware that, given his limited energy reserve, the man hoped to defeat her in an all-out one move. Unfortunately for him, the attack only managed to injure her arm. It wasn’t lethal.
“It’s regretful,” Isabel expressed her pity. She regretted for Sila’s defeat. Now that the man had spent his entire power to attack her, although he could recover his power through qi circulation, his energy recovery speed couldn’t hope to rival hers. His remaining energy was no longer enough for him to fend off even one of her attacks.
Sila smiled weakly. “You regretted too soon. It’s actually a draw.”
Isabel’s body shuddered as she coughed out blood. She collapsed, kneeling on the ground, while Sila sat down to circulate qi.
Nerissa removed herself from his body, which caused the grave wound to return on his neck. Thankfully, Isabel’s magic power was no longer running in his system, so he could heal it normally.
On the contrary, some parts of Isabel’s skin turned darker. Her health points continued to decline with no sign of stopping.
“You paid the kick too much attention and neglected his sword. You were too careless, Sister Isabel,” another Blade Daughter said to Isabel before turning her head to Sila. “You did a pretty good job. Your utilization of power was similar to mine.”
Isabel tried to heal herself, but her attempt was futile. “...Similar to Charlotte’s?”
Hearing the name, Sila gave Charlotte a look. When he was training under Fowl, she had mentioned having Charlotte in his possession would help him counter Isabel and Rosetta. Still, he was clueless about her ability. The only thing he knew about her was her title: Charlotte—the King Killer.
Charlotte was a young woman in a black suit. Her black hair was short. Her eyes were onyx black. Hanging on her waist was a katana. The color of its blade was matte black. The guard of the katana had a four-leaf sakura shape while the hilt was wrapped under light-pink-colored cotton fibers. She and her katana gave off an impression of a strong-willed, yet sweet woman.
As he had recovered a bit, Sila stood up. “Thank you for your compliment.”
Charlotte was the one with the most understanding of Sila’s last technique since she shared a similar ability. However, the gap between their levels was world-apart. It was rumored that there were no kings that she couldn’t defeat. Her ability was a hard counter against wielders of tricky or bottomless power. She could kill even immortal beings.
She explained to the confused Isabel, “It’s true that those segmented blades were diversions, but the psychic power coating on them was a real deal. When the blades shattered, they left behind golden qi, corroding black psychic power, and Nerissa’s magic power. The three powers synchronized into the special energy with a contamination trait. When you were injured, you absorbed ambient mana to heal yourself, and that allowed the said power to directly invade your defenseless body.”
Sila nodded as he explained more, “Isabel’s magic power is like an impenetrable armor. However, exactly because of it, when I managed to trick her into accepting my power—bypassing her defense—the armor itself became a cage that locked my power inside. It was the same technique that Isabel previously hit me with.” He rubbed at his throat. “Well, unlike you who could do it directly, I had to resort to petty tricks to get it done.”
“It’s my loss.” Isabel sighed. “Even though you got the help from Nerissa, you managed to subdue me with your ability. I have no excuses.”
She knew that Sila had mentioned ‘a draw’ to save her dignity. The fact that the man could recover sooner than her meant he won.
The shortest girl among the Blade Daughters walked toward Isabel. She wore a lady-like yellow tent dress. Her creamy pigtails danced with each step she took. She drew her sword—a cutlass—out and tapped it on Isabel’s shoulder, then Sila’s power inside her vanished without leaving a trace.
Isabel patted the girl’s head. “Thank you, Rosetta.”
The girl said nothing. She simply smiled and nodded.
Charlotte spared another glance at Sila. “Yours is still sloppy. If it were my power, even Rosetta wouldn’t be able to dispel it.”
Sila started to realize that the scales of power between the New World and the Monster Realm were very far apart. Even a lovely small girl seemed to be stronger than him. He stared at Rosetta before observing her weapon. It was a short, broad saber with a straight blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt featuring a solid wreath-shaped guard. The entire cutlass came in creamy color, making it seem like a toy or an ornamental object rather than a weapon.
Isabel approached Sila. She bowed her head, pulled his left hand toward her, and kissed it on the back.
“I look forward to your guidance.”
A white knight armguard with silver metal joints appeared on his left arm. Turning it around, Sila spotted a picture of the cross, with one black and one white line intersecting, engraved on the wrist area. On the forearm area was another picture of a sword’s hilt. When sliding the joint away, the hilt of the white longsword—Isabel—would stick out.
You have obtained (S) Demonic Armament — Dichotomous Crucifix Sword. The Demonic Armament comes with extreme side effects. Please study it before using it.
“You will be purged every seven times you use us. Additionally, you can only attempt another Sword-Crowning Ceremony after seven weeks have passed.”
The term ‘purge’ means the wielder of the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword will have all of their stats and skills reset. The reset happens every seven times they use any of the Blade Daughters. Also, it happens every time they overcome the Sword-Crowning Ceremony and claim a new sword.
This marked the first time he overcame the Sword-Crowning Ceremony. Without the Blade-Sharpening Dragon, Sila would already have his stats and skills reset.
“I will always be beside you, Young Master. Call me anytime you need me.”
A white light enveloped Sila’s body, returning him to the grassland. Everything that had happened felt like a dream, but the silver-white armguard on his left arm reminded him that he had actually gone through the trial.
At long last, he had managed to overcome the first trial. He now finally obtained the weapon that could handle Montra’s Sky-Splitting Dragon Magical Spear.
The Holy Sanctum of Weapons was a special domain-creation skill where its entrance and exit could only be opened by the casters outside. The time where Sila and the goblin kings had appointed for the gate to be reopened was at dusk, so he got some free time to indulge himself in the scenery.
Looking at the vast, limitless green scape where countless weapons rested while bathing under soft sunlight, Sila couldn’t help but feel relaxed. He lay himself down on the grassland. Closing his eyes, he began his qi circulation session.
“You didn’t forget about me, did you?” A voice called out to him above his head. Opening his eyes, Sila spotted a shadowy figure of Nerissa.
“Ah?!” Surprised, Sila sprang up from the grassland. “Did you also come out?”
Nerissa was still in the same prisoner outfit. She sat next to Sila. Her eyes were blocked with a blindfold, but she turned her face toward him as if she could see normally.
“One person from that side comes out, so does a seventh of me. It must always be equal,” Nerissa replied before her body vanished for no reason.
A seventh of her. That must be the reason why her existence seemed blurry to him. Sila turned his left wrist over, and the hilt of Isabel protruded from the armguard. Since using the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword posed no risks to him, he pulled her out from the sheath under the armguard.
Isabel was a white metal longsword with light-blue mana coiling around her. The Weapon Enlightenment skill kicked in, but the amount of her information was huge, making him feel dizzy. As a need for concentration arose, he closed his eyes and started circulating the Cloud Part of Flaming Cloud Qi.
She was a magic-type weapon containing an enormous power. There were various ways to utilize her, especially considering her element affinity was the light element which he had never wielded.
This means Sila would be able to use all eight basic elements of magic as long as he held Isabel in his hand.
He sat cross-legged, placing the longsword on his lap. Circulating Vast Sky Qi while absorbing the magic power from Isabel, the maximum values of his health and special points slowly increased.
As a matter of fact, while Vast Sky Qi can absorb all three types of energy, the one that was most excellent at raising stats was qi. The skill level directly affects the speed of which the user can consume the power. If the user becomes greedy—consuming more power then they can handle—or a nearby enemy mingles the surrounding energy with their power, it will be no different than the user welcoming the attack without putting up any resistance.
If used correctly, the qi was considered very decent. It was to be expected though. Vast Sky Qi was the qi possessed by beings living in the Monster Realm, similar to Omniscient Evil God Qi. In this New World, its ability far surpasses ordinary qi.
A veil of faint white aura enveloped Sila. His body adapted to the light-elemental affinity. Since it was the element that he had never possessed before, his Unison Percentage got an abrupt increase of 10%.
His body was fully healed and his fatigue was all gone. Sila stood up. He tried swinging Isabel lightly and tested her ability. Gradually pulling the mana from her, he could manifest giant blade energy without spending a single point of his special energy reserve.
“I see. It uses the same principle as the Great Flow. Instead of borrowing the power from ambient mana, I can directly draw it out from the sword. The sword really contains tremendous magic power.”
Opening his system window, he read the ability of the newly acquired item.
(S) Demonic Armament — Dichotomous Crucifix Sword
The collection of magical swords personally made by the Goddess Igsia. It is the abode of the seven Blade Daughters and their dark side.
*After every seven activations, the user’s stats and skills will be thoroughly reset.
*After overcoming each Sword-Crowning Ceremony, the user’s stats and skills will be thoroughly reset.
Attack Power: 100,000 (Multiply by the number of Blade Daughters the user has defeated in the Sword-Crowning Ceremony).
The Light Side — You may summon one of the seven swords. You cannot use them simultaneously.
“Isabel” — A knightly longsword containing an enormous mana reserve. The sword deals magical damage instead of a physical one. If your opponent’s Unison Percentage is lesser than yours, you may dispel their spells and absorb the spell’s magic power to reinforce the sword.
The Dark Side — You may transform a sword in your possession, though it can’t be any of the Blade Daughters.
“Nerissa” — (1/7) Black mucus that shrouds both the user and the sword. The enveloped sword will temporarily become Nerissa. She is the sword of awareness. The awareness isn’t limited to five senses but includes natural and supernatural ones. (The level of awareness will increase according to the number of Blade Daughters that the user has defeated in the Sword-Crowning Ceremony).
Sila looked around, expecting to see Isabel, yet he saw no one aside from Nerissa, who suddenly flashed in front of him. A big smile was hanging on her face.
Seeing an opportunity, he asked her. “Can the Blade Daughters not show their human forms in the physical plane?”
“No, they can’t,” Nerissa replied. “Only Anastasia and I are exceptions.”
Nerissa’s main ability centered around awareness. She could force others to be aware of her existence. As for Anastasia, she had the ability to create a pocket dimension where her existence was visible. It was none other than her ability that had allowed Sila to see all Blade Daughters.
“You have to complete the ceremony, okay? The entirety of me can exit that way,” demanded Nerissa.
“The entirety...?” Sila tried to recall the events happening in the Sword-Crowning Ceremony. “How strange... except from Isabel, I can hardly recall others.”
The events had just passed a moment ago, but he felt like it had happened ages ago. Except for Isabel who he clearly remembered, he could vaguely recall only the existence of Anastasia, Rosetta, and Charlotte. It was as if the ones who didn’t speak weren’t even there.
“Teehee~ It’s you who is strange.” Nerissa chuckled. “That place is a virtual world created by Anastasia. The rules of that world are defined by her. She usually made people forget the events happening in that world to prevent them from preparing for the next round of ceremony, yet you somehow remember. You’re not half bad.”
Sila scratched his head. He had Flaming Cloud Qi that boosted his brain’s performance, yet he could only vaguely remember the events. Without it, would he have forgotten all of them? The difficulty level of the Sword-Crowning Ceremony was even higher than he had thought.
“Do you want to know their abilities? I can tell,” Nerissa said smilingly. “For some of them, however, it’s useless even if you know. You can’t possibly win against them anyway. Well, unless you know who counters whom. Knowing that will increase your odds by about twenty percent, I think.”
Wielding a favorable weapon didn’t guarantee him the win. Sila was well aware. Fighting was deeper and more complex than that. Even considering their swordsmanship alone, he wholeheartedly believed that each Blade Daughter was a prodigy-class swordswoman in the path of their own sword. Their swordsmanship was at least two to three times more formidable than his.
Sila’s current swordsmanship was no longer mediocre, but the gap between him and them was not even close. One couldn’t tell how excited and scared he had been when he saw Isabel’s swordplay.
While it’s true that power is a crucial factor in battles, techniques are as important. Superior martial moves allow the combatant to have more chances to attack. Having a better chance than the opponent can secure half a victory.
“Summon me,” Nerissa whispered in his ear. “But first keep Isabel away. We don’t get along well.”
Sila nodded. Metaphorically, he thought the Blade Daughters might be like Lady Igsia’s biological daughters while Nerissa was like a stepdaughter who was shunned by the rest. Still, he somehow felt like it was actually Nerissa who despised her sisters while they were simply indifferent to her.
Putting himself into Nerissa’s shoes, Sila thought she must feel like a black sheep among a group of white ones. He, who his childhood self had the same kind of experience—feeling like he was different from other kids of his age—felt he was connected to her more than the rest of the Blade Daughters who acted reserved and aloof.
Actually, Sila was a bit too optimistic. Nerissa belonged to the dark side. She liked to pull a prank. Having the ability to communicate with the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword’s master, she always tried to trick the users to use the sword without the need in order to make the downside kick in sooner.
In just under ten minutes, Sila had summoned the sword twice.
Isabel returned to her sheath under the armguard. Concurrently, the metal sword, which Sila borrowed from the goblin king, was dyed black under similar mucus. As the mucus solidified, the sword became the irregular sword with segmented blades—the same one he had used in the fight against Isabel. This must be the genuine form of Nerissa.
He was swinging her around, mimicking Isabel’s swordsmanship, when he heard Nerissa’s voice in his head.
“That’s not the proper way to use me,” She argued. “I’m a longsword with curve blades, able to strike wide and far—attacking an opponent at the distance and the angle they don’t expect. The fact that the blades can extend their segments helps the attack to reach even further. You don’t have to move your body a lot, though you need to focus your strength on your wrist.”
The black mucus united to Sila’s right hand, expanding his awareness. He stood firmly on the ground, refusing to move even a single step while flicking his right wrist at high speed. The black sword seemed to disappear, leaving only the whipping sound that generated from the blade hitting the grass at ten meters away—the distance that people normally don’t expect the sword to reach. The segmented blades looked like a great black serpent crawling through the air, striking its target at unfathomably speed.
“Avoids clashing directly but relies on flexibility and long-reach to strike at the opponent’s weakness. It’s an interesting swordplay,” Sila complimented.
Hearing it, Nerissa was glad. She asked, “Do you like swords?”
“I’m studying them. I have my own sword art—Heaven’s Dismissal—but it’s more like the collection of finishing moves rather than swordplay. On the other hand, the sword arts of you people are versatile and usable in any kind of situation. Even when I’m learning fast through Flaming Cloud Qi and your cognitive-enhancement ability, Isabel was still unfazed. Her swordsmanship is simple yet profound, having no limits. She wasn’t afraid I could learn the entirety of her swordplay because it was literally impossible.”
Pumin’s foundation and understanding toward the way of swords was sublime, so his experience alone was enough for him to expertly use a sword as if it was a part of his body. He would unleash the might of Heaven’s Decree Sword Art when an opportunity arose.
On the other hand, Sila was inexperienced. Between each use of sword art, an opening would inevitably show up.
In contrast, Isabel’s swordsmanship was like the endless accumulation of high-leveled basic movements. There was no need for a big, finishing move. Just a touch or two of her moves connecting could make a big difference, or even decide, the result of the battle.
“The rests are nothing special,” Nerissa said, “Mine is the best.”
The black mucus slowly covered Sila’s entire body. The events happening in the hall showed up in his mind. He could see every Blade Daughter and their signature sword in the room.
Nerissa pointed at them, one by one.
“From left to right, that’s Rosetta, Catherine, and Charlotte.” She looked back at Sila. “Among these three, Catherine must be the only one you stand a chance against. Rosetta only loses to Charlotte. Unless you have the latter, don’t you ever select her as your opponent.”
Nerissa continued, pointing at the remaining three. “Isabel is a middle girl. You already defeated her, so there is nothing left for me to say. The rest are Sinclair, Amelia, and Anastasia. Considering your style, Sinclair must be your worst matchup. Nah, scrap that. You can’t win against any of them. They are equally difficult.”
As Sila could see them clearly, he observed each sword floating in front of them. From what he had seen, each sword seemed to represent each Blade Daughter. Their swordsmanship centered around the type of sword they used.
He already remembered Rosetta, Charlotte, Isabel, and Anastasia. Thus, he shifted his attention to the remaining three.
Catherine was a curly golden-haired tall young woman wearing a white long-sleeved jacket over a skin-tight light-yellow camisole, shorts, and a pair of black pantyhose. Her figure was seductive, especially her bosoms which were noticeably larger than her sisters. Floating in front of her was a golden-white rapier. Its blade seemed thin and weightless, having no sharp edge but a keen tip. Its guard had the shape of an angel wing.
Sinclair was an expressionless young woman. Her red eyes didn’t look anywhere in particular. Her chocolate-colored hair bun gave off a red glow under the light. She was wearing a short dress that exposed her lustrous back and shoulders. Next to her was a one-handed, single-edged sword—a scimitar—with a thick curved blade that constantly emitted vermillion-colored mana in a manner similar to vapor. There was a small metal pendant hanging on its hilt and several flame-red glowing crystals buried on the blade.
Amelia had short, ash-white hair cropped above her shoulders. Her outfit was a short dress similar to Sinclair, though hers was grey-black and more reserved, covering her neck and her arms. There was a bright red ribbon on her neck. Her manner was composed, and it even showed through her slender sword, floating completely still. Its black blade was perfectly straight while its hilt seemed to be made of monster’s bones. Its sharp edge had a strange shining grey color, implying that it wasn’t made of simple metal. She was the only one Sila couldn’t guess what kind of her swordsmanship was from the appearance of her weapon.
“Wanna try?” Seeing that Sila was absorbed in observing their swords, Nerissa suggested. “I can shapeshift myself to look like them, though I won’t have their abilities.”
Sila used his smile as a reply. Then, Nerissa began transforming herself according to every Blade Daughter, one by one. The color was still pitch black though. Aside from their outward appearances and weights, which she told him were identical to the originals, the swords she transformed into neither possessed their abilities nor had their level of durability.
Trying each sword, Sila began to enjoy learning different swordsmanship. He just realized that changing the types of the sword can make a huge difference. Each sword had its own distinct trait, leading to different suitable fighting styles even against the same opponent.
Rosetta’s cutlass was great at parrying at close distance and counterattacking. Her attack speed was the fastest.
Catherine’s rapier was the type of sword that Sila had never used. Even the Story of A Hundred Swords had never mentioned a western sword like her. She focused on quick stabbing. The wielder can maintain their distance and perform continuous stabs. Her weight was light and the tip was small, meaning she can effectively slip through the opponent’s defense.
Shape-wise, Charlotte’s katana was noticeably different from Varee’s, though the concept was the same—focusing on quick slash. Getting to try her personally, Sila discovered the strange trait of the sword that the speed of his slash would increase if he did it while stepping forward. She must be very useful in the situation where he wanted to perform an attack while advancing.
Isabel’s longsword was balanced in both offense and defense. In addition to thrusts, she can perform cutting and slicing techniques as well as blocking and parrying.
Sinclair’s scimitar seemed pretty easy to understand. Her weight was relatively light. With her single-edged and curved design, she was great at slashing and bashing opponents at high speed.
Excluding Nerissa’s irregular sword that he had started to understand her, Amelia’s slender sword and Anastasia’s lance-like sword were quite incomprehensible to him.
Amelia’s sword seemed to lack outstanding features. Her thickness and length were in-between compared to her sisters’, so he didn’t know what she was best at. From what Nerissa told him, her title was ‘the Citadel Destroyer’, so he guessed she must be great in battlefield or siege battles. Still, given her slender design, he couldn’t imagine how she was suitable against a large number of enemies.
Anastasia was more like a short lance rather than a sword. Her uniqueness made her swordsmanship unpredictable. He could spin her when he performed thrusting or pulling her back in order to increase the moves’ destructive power.
In order to let Sila familiarize himself with each of them, Nerissa managed to trick him to resummon her again and again for a total of five times. Including the previous two times, this made it seven. However, nothing happened.
“Boring~” Nerissa pouted and sighed in boredom. She slowly faded away, leaving Sila with the same old metal sword.
After she left, Sila talked to himself, “Even a seventh of her can do this much, I wonder if I can comprehend their swordsmanship better when I unlock more of Nerissa.”
What Sila desired right now wasn’t only the Blade Daughters’ unique abilities. Currently, it was like there were eight prodigy-class swordswomen living near him. He would be a fool if he didn’t seize this chance to learn a thing or two from them.
With the ordinary metal sword in his hand, Sila tried using it by preserving each of the Blade Daughters’ swordsmanship in his movements. By keeping their styles while using a different sword, it allowed him to explore many possibilities in the path of swords.
Disregarding inner force, his mastery over swords seemed to improve a step further during this short period of time. Furthermore, learning various styles of swordplay was a nice addition to him, since his fighting style was always ever-changing and unorthodox.
Sila continued to train swordsmanship until dusk when a spatial gate finally showed up. Exiting the domain, he was surprised to see several goblins being busy and making a mess in order to show him handheld signboards. Looking at the message closely, he couldn’t help but scratch his head.
[Failing is natural.]
[Rest in Peace, Brother Sila.]
[We will always remember you.]
[Brother Sila has once slept in this place.]
Now that Sila had come out from the gate, unscratched and not gloomy, the goblins looked at each other in confusion. Inquiring the man, they found that he happened to succeed in the Sword-Crowning Ceremony.
Realizing their mistakes, they hurriedly hid the signboards, though one of them was quick enough to show Sila the newly-edited one.
[Condolences "Congratulations" for "not" failing the Sword-Crowning Ceremony. Better luck next time.]
do the side effect for using the swors really count for sila? i thought because he also has that thing (forgot what its called) that he can use whatever and not be burdened by side affects.or is it more, that he doesnt have any side effects, till a certain grade of weapon?
“You will be purged every seven times you use us. Additionally, you can only attempt another Sword-Crowning Ceremony after seven weeks have passed.”The term ‘purge’ means the wielder of the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword will have all of their stats and skills reset. The reset happens every seven times they use any of the Blade Daughters. Also, it happens every time they overcome the Sword-Crowning Ceremony and claim a new sword.This marked the first time he overcame the Sword-Crowning Ceremony. Without the Blade-Sharpening Dragon, Sila would already have his stats and skills reset.
This includes both conditions of purge (passing the trial and using the sword seven times). Thus, when he summoned the sword seven times according to Nerissa's playful request, nothing happened to him.
Two weeks had already passed since the war event began. Conflicts and the gathering of forces were happening in every place all over the New World. Even the Island of Beginnings, which had never been involved in the previous war event, was swept up by it. Its ten-year-long peace was gone.
The place of births and new adventures, where new players accumulated experience before venturing to the Main Continent, had become the battlefield between the lone king and the army of slimes.
A huge domain had been dominating a third of the island for a couple of days already, and it showed no sign of collapsing soon.
Nevertheless, the beach on the southern side of the Island of Beginnings was relatively peaceful. The moon shone its gentle moonlight down on the sea without minding the surge of dark and water elements magic power from the west side of the island.
A young woman in white clothing strapped her hair into a ponytail and tightened her robe. She moved closer to a bonfire to warm herself up. Standing guard near her was a giant rabbit with a physique similar to a bear.
There must be a safer place for her to stay somewhere in the town, but there were many reasons that she had been avoiding entering the city for several weeks.
She didn’t feel lonely, however. She always had the giant white rabbit—namely Fluffy—as her companion. Additionally, yesterday she just unexpectedly got another member into her family.
Reminding of yesterday, she showed a gentle smile while stroking the hair of the black-haired little girl who was taking a nap next to her. The girl was wearing light armor made of blackfish scales weaving together.
“Oww! It hurts. Don’t bite, Qua-chan. It’s not cute.” She scolded the girl.
“I’m not a pet, human.” The girl struggled to get out of the young woman’s lap, but her body was currently too weak to do that. “My name is Quasar, not Qua-chan!”
The current state of the Eclipse Fish Quasar—the legendary Light Stealer—was no different from a helpless infant. At the time when she was injured in Zhongsuyuan City, she was in a bad shape since dark-element magic didn’t have recovery spells. In order to heal herself, she needed to rest in the place with condensed dark magic energy, so she exerted the last bit of her power to leap through ambient mana to the place with the most powerful dark energy in the New World. Compared to the Monster Realm, she thought anywhere in this world would be just a child’s playground for her. Unexpectedly, when she appeared on this island, she showed up in the middle of the battlefield.
Having to flee from Mamon was upsetting enough, but her luck just got worse by every minute. Her rank was demoted to Marquis Rank, her health points greatly declined. As she planned to absorb ambient mana to use, she found that there was a spellcaster stronger than her within a twenty-kilometer radius constantly consuming mana, refused to let her have even a speck of it.
Quasar is basically an aquatic animal. She normally lives in the water and depends on it for survival, though she had learned to spend magic power to support her life in the place without water. She usually had no problem with the constant energy consumption since she could either take a human form or rely on ambient mana. Unfortunately, she was no longer a Lord Rank monster and Kritsana was seizing complete control over ambient mana, leaving her no choice but to use her own magic reserve—which was pathetically low due to her low rank.
Explosions from countless abilities and undying corpses brimming with magic power raged the battlefield. It took Quasar everything she had to desperately flee from that place toward the south, which was relatively safer. Once she got out of the sinister domain, however, her magic reserve was completely expended, no longer able to support herself to swim in mid-air. She crashed, rolled, and stopped on the beach—just ten meters away from the water source.
She was terribly dehydrated and about to die. Gritting her teeth, she felt bitter to realize that she was going to die without fulfilling her revenge yet.
Darkness overcame her vision. Darkness was usually her ally—her favorite place to live—but it was currently depriving her of her life. She let out a dry cough as she lamented this ironic joke.
She hadn’t escaped from Hell just to die uselessly like this...
‘Lady Nyx... Please show me mercy... I don’t want to be in that place anymore...’
Hell was a vast desolate land, possibly borderless. Roaming in there were monsters that had lost their desires, goals, and ambition. It took all of her efforts just to hang onto her wills and ego, refusing to let them go.
Knowing that she had to return to that cruel place, she was hopeless to the point she prayed for the mercy of the Goddess of the Night—who she had forgotten for a long time.
When was the last time that she had called out the Goddess’ name? And Why did she stop worshipping her? Thinking back... It must be around thousands of years ago when Mammon silently ambushed her from a dark shadow. After that, she quit putting her faith in the Goddess.
Her incredibly weak body was lifted up. Quasar thought she had already died, yet she heard the celestial sound of an unknown goddess.
“Fluffy? What did you pick up? Don’t eat leftover food, or you will have a stomachache otherwise.”
At that time, Quasar had actually believed that the voice’s owner was a Goddess, though she found out later that they were simply a human. Since she didn’t have an ounce of strength left to resist, she was immediately registered as a pet once the voice’s owner came to take care of her.
Then, the name of her first-ever master emerged inside her mind, disregarding her will.
“Don’t be stubborn. It’s already late at night. You should rest. Your body is still weak, isn’t it?” Francine lightly scolded the girl.
“I don’t need to sleep!!” Quasar lost her temper. “Quit treating me like a little kid!”
Due to her status as a pet and Francine’s Mind Link, however, Quasar was well aware that Francine was genuinely worried about her. Thus, she was reluctant to behave too aggressively.
Concurrently, with the said skill, Francine was also aware of Quasar’s hidden consideration toward her.
“Kya~ You’re so adorable.”
Quasar rolled her eyes in annoyance. Using the Eclipse Scale Mana Shell spell might not be the best idea since the spell made her stay in the childish human form, though she had to do it to preserve her magic power. The spell temporarily transformed her fish scales and gills into clothing and generated a small dark domain to cover her skin, stopping her from suffocating.
Francine showed a mild smile. She liked monsters more than humans since their personalities were generally more straightforward. She planned to continue spending time in the Island of Beginnings befriending Quasar and raising her Affection Level.
Never again that she would repeat her past mistake, taming too many monsters beyond her capability. In order to utilize that many monsters, her rank would have to be at least Lord.
With Fluffy’s help, she had recovered her lost levels and was now at Level 1,000 Knight Rank. As she was, if she wanted to display the full potential of each of her pets, taming three or four monsters was her limit.
Francine took a look at Quasar’s tiny diamond earring. Actually, this item was attached to the left fin of Quasar’s original body, but it seemed the system made it be apparent even when the monster was covering her body under a spell. The earring was the power-dampening device designed as a pet accessory. It was mainly used to tame a monster stronger than the master. Fortunately, she had kept it in the bank, so she didn’t lose it when she died under Sebastian’s hand. The earring used to be on Fluffy’s ear, though it got transferred to Quasar yesterday. Fluffy’s Affection Level toward her was already at max value anyway.
As Francine was busy playing with Quasar (Francine did it one-sidely, actually), Fluffy’s ears suddenly pointed up. It looked to the left.
With the effect of Mind Link, Francine felt that Fluffy was sensing something approaching them, so she stopped playing with Quasar and got up. She packed her belonging, ready to flee.
In the past months, her escape skill got improved a lot. She wanted to avoid fighting as much as possible, especially against players. Most of her time usually spent on either grinding levels near the Illusion Forest or playing with Fluffy to increase its Affection Level and her understanding of its behaviors.
Fluffy’s sense told her that the approaching one wasn’t a human, but a monster. It’s rare to see a monster wandering alone, but when it happened, the monster was likely to be strong.
“...The slime race. Level 300 Marquis Rank.” Francine could accurately discern the monster’s level. “At this level, I think it’s manageable for us. Let’s wait and see.”
Fluffy nodded. It spared the approaching slime a sharp look. The scar under its right eye twitched for no reason. Once the invader hopped into its attack range, Fluffy gave out a warning by expanding its qi sphere that was as cold as the snow land bathed under the moonlight.
Snow Moon Qi — Lunar Rabbit.
The tranquil and passive qi extended with God’s Cathedral qi technique, forming a freezing domain. Under extreme coldness, the incoming orange creature slowed down significantly, ice starting to cover its skin. It descended to the sandy beach by the gravity.
Racial Skill — Mega Flare.
The orange creature heavily vibrated, causing the ice on its skin to break and disperse. It opened its mouth, which released hot steam coming from its body. It hopped three times in quick succession and stopped in front of Fluffy.
Luaid had been staying in the Slime Kingdom since birth. His rank might be Marquis and he might possess only four combat skills, but his mastery over his skills shouldn’t be underestimated.
Adult slimes in the Slime Kingdom must possess at least one of the skills belonging to the Guardians. Including their own Way of Slime, that meant they were free to learn two other skills from others before their skill quota was filled.
Luaid preferred brains over the brawl, so he didn’t possess direct combat or defensive skills such as Formless Soldier or Orbiting Cosmos. With his desire to become a handsome and capable slime as Divine, he eventually chose Moon Reflecting Mirror that comes with versatility.
For the record, his Way of Slime was Slime’s Roar, which was the skill developed from Slime Sing-a-Song, while the Mega Flare skill was the advanced version of Slime’s Roar, similar to how Poluk having Genesis Punch or Viola having Divine Raiment. Presently, Luaid was the only one capable of using Mega Flare.
As for the other two skills, Luaid chose to learn Opaque Slime (which would develop into Sparkless Lightning) and Sleeping Slime (which would develop into Thousand Dreams) from a couple of old husband and wife who quit fighting and secluded themselves, staying peacefully somewhere in the Kingdom.
Both Opaque Slime and Sleeping Slime were psychic-type skills. Unfortunately, Luaid wasn’t at the level where he could improve the skills yet.
Luaid’s target was Francine, the person he was given the direct assignment from His Majesty to find her. With his eyes locking onto her, he didn’t care about other beings regardless of they were humans or monsters. He bounced past Fluffy without even sparing the rabbit a glance. Even though Fluffy’s level was higher—being Level 10 Lord Rank—the rabbit race was generally docile. Compared to Quasar’s craftiness or Luaid’s techniques, Fluffy’s fighting prowess was inferior to the two.
Being ignored by a lower rank opponent, Fluffy was upset. Since its master hadn’t given any specific order, it expressed its anger by cladding its left palm with Freezing Soul qi technique. Baring its freezing claws, it struck at the small creature next to it.
Snow Moon Qi — Rabbit Hunt.
Luaid didn’t even look at the attack. No matter how powerful the attack was, such a straightforward approach wasn’t worth his attention. His skin became slightly darker for a second before Fluffy’s palm hit the spot where he was standing. The orange slime vanished and miraculously reappeared on Fluffy’s shoulder.
“Don’t waste my time, ya!” His imposing voice contained the power of Slime’s Roar, though he limited the skill’s effective range and destructive power. Fluffy covered its ears, its body swaying. It lost its balance and collapsed.
Luaid hopped over the defeated opponent and stopped in front of Francine. He looked up at her, his dole eyes blinking.
“Hello.” Francine activated the skill that allowed her to mentally communicate with monsters. It was quite ineffectively, however, which she had already anticipated from the facts that Luaid’s rank was higher than her and was in a perfectly healthy state. Knowing so, she was concerned. The orange little slime’s appearance might look adorable, but its fighting prowess was beyond Fluffy’s, who was at Lord Rank. The previous exchange between them implied that if the slime intended to kill, even Fluffy wouldn’t be able to protect her.
Nevertheless, the little slime’s next action was to make a crying face, tears running down from its big eyes. It made an expression like someone who had been lost for a long time but finally found their destination. It wept at her, making a loud noise.
“Oh! Savior! Finally, I meet you! I have been searching for you for a really, really long time.”
...The truth was that Luaid’s journey lasted only a couple of days.
“Savior?” Francine pointed at herself.
“Oh! You’re our greatest hope! Only you can break the Slime Kingdom free from the thousand-year-long curse.” Again, the Slime Kingdom was attacked less than a week ago. “Please lend us your strength, Savior!”
Luaid had a habit of exaggerating things. It wasn’t that he was a liar, but doing things this way was more exciting. For him, who had been staying under the darkness within the sealed Slime Kingdom for a long time, making things more exciting was his only enjoyment.
Francine realized this must be some kind of a hidden quest. “What do I need to do?”
Luaid’s eyes sparkled with a ray of hope. “It’s not difficult at all, Savior. Please listen to my story.”
Francine always knew her journey was, at most, a part of the story of someone great—someone with protagonist qualities such as Cross, Fargo, Shueria, or Sila. Her time in a virtual reality online game was like that of ordinary people—consisting of grinding levels, polishing skills, or catching monsters. However, an important quest seemed to run into her today.
“Savior.” This word sounds imposing and seems to come with great responsibility. She was sure that it isn’t something mentioned frequently. The target of this word must be the figure who had been specifically chosen in order to free the weak slimes from a thousand-year-long cruel suppression. The word brought her a sense of duty like she was destined to save them. Thus, she didn’t hesitate to accept the quest.
From what Luaid told her, her mission was to bring “The Village’s Hope” (a.k.a. Luaid) to where the Devil Lord dwelled, which was deep underwater. The Devil Lord was an evil sorcerer who was casting dark magic to annihilate the Slime Kingdom. The only way to stop him was to disturb his continuous spellcasting with Luaid’s Slime’s Roar. In that regard, Francine's cooperation was absolutely necessary. Luaid’s skill alone wasn’t enough to dispel the powerful domain of darkness. Only when the skill was enhanced by her psychic power, which had the ability to strengthen monsters, that it would be able to take it down.
From the southern beach, the shortest route toward their destination was to go through the town and exit via the north gate, heading to a harbor.
As a matter of fact, the south and north sides of the Island of Beginnings were relatively safe since only a few monsters lived. The east side had the Stone Forest while the Illusion Forest was located in the west. The Stone Forest had become more dangerous as days passed—from the era where the Millennium Apes ruled, the time when slimes showed their aggressive nature, to the present time when dark clouds totally covered the sky. Thus, most people were now gathering around the Illusion Forest.
From the intel in the forum, Francine knew that the Elven Village was becoming popular. There were new zones and quests unlocked, prompting more players to flock there in order to perform quests or obtaining new items. While she was interested, she was afraid she would run into someone who recognized her, so she had never gone to the village.
Francine arrived at the south gate of the town. She tightened her hood to cover her face. On her wrist were two pet-keeping bracelets, where Fluffy and Quasar rested inside. Only Luaid refused to enter a bracelet, though she didn’t mind. She knew that some monsters were reluctant to stay inside a pet-keeping item. Forcing it to enter the seal would harm their relationship, resulting in a decline in Affection Level. For Francine, it was a problem more serious than a decrease in levels.
For most players, Affection Level is merely a factor to determine how likely their pets will follow their command. However, for a monster-tamer expert like her, it was far more important than that. Firstly, some of her skills explicitly state the least amount of Affection Level that the pet must have toward her in order for the skills to work. The better the skills, the higher Affection Level they required. Secondly, some special skills will show better results according to her pet’s Affection Level. Lastly, it’s related to her ‘ultimate skill’ that she had never used before despite acquiring it for a long time. For her to use this skill, she had to use it with a pet with Lord Rank or above, who has a maximum Affection Level toward her. Currently, Fluffy was her only possible target.
Luaid’s presence didn’t pose too much trouble to her. His body was small, so she rarely felt his weight even when he was sitting on her shoulder. Additionally, with his Moon Reflecting Mirror skill, Luaid’s body was very transparent, unnoticed by surrounding people.
Unfortunately, the public’s target was not Luaid but the Monster Queen. There had been many strange events happening in the Town of Beginnings and the town was also a good place to recruit new players, so there were many people keeping watch throughout the city. One of them noticed Francine and recognized her. They quickly relayed this intel to their teammates.
Francine momentarily halted her step when her Psychic Sensory skill kicked in. Like every other psychic-type skill, this skill had many applications depending on how people develop it to be. While she wasn’t particularly good at this skill, it allowed her to sense hostility directing at her within twenty meters radius.
‘Someone used an inspection skill on me... What should I do? Unfortunately... I still haven’t got myself the Disguise skill. I should have finished the quest if I knew this was going to happen.’
Disguise is a common skill that many psychic-type players tend to possess in order to add complexity to their skill pool and bring confusion to enemies. However, quests for psychic-types vary in contents according to the quest performer’s nature and personality. Thus, some may find some quests more difficult to achieve than others. (Francine’s foundation centered around taming monsters. The Disguise skill was quite unrelated to that, so she found the quest to obtain such a skill difficult. On the other hand, someone like Yardpirun, whose abilities centered around spying, would find the quest easy.)
To avoid becoming the center of attention, Francine didn’t run but strode faster. Walking fast while ignoring people’s gazes, she hoped she would arrive at the north gate soon. She fully relied on her Psychic Sensory to stride in the opposite direction of where she felt hostility coming.
“Oh, no... That way is...” Luaid muttered when Francine avoided the main street and walked into an alley. “...Nevermind, ya. It’s too late.”
Francine was still on the run. She didn’t know who was after her, though she was sure that there was more than one person.
Finally alone in the alley, she lightly asked Luaid what he was saying a moment ago.
“What were you saying? Sorry I didn’t hear you.”
Luaid kept a straight face even though he was excited. “It’s nothing, Savior. It’s just that we’re now surrounded.”
“Eh?” Francine stopped her feet. She focused her mind to expand her sense, checking Luaid’s claim. Concentration plays a big role in using psychic abilities. Most of the time, staying still and paying attention will improve them.
“Savior, your Psychic Sensory’s detection range seems to be quite limited. I guess it’s around twenty to thirty meters, no? Lord Divine once told me that fighting is like a game of chess. Being safe now doesn’t mean you will still be safe three moves later. Your enemies deliberately guided you to this alley, Savior.”
If she traveled on the main street, there would be many innocent players passing by, allowing her to blend into the crowd and slip away. It was common sense that her enemies wouldn’t want to make enemies out of ordinary people if they could. Even though most players living in the Town of Beginnings are newbies, one day they might grow into powerhouses and join their group.
After sensing surroundings for a while, Francine realized that she was indeed surrounded. If Luaid didn’t tell her, she wouldn’t even know how she got cornered despite having Psychic Sensory.
The danger was approaching. Francine pulled out a whip to hold in her hand. She had purchased this weapon from the Town of Beginnings, so one couldn’t expect a lot from it. It was only potent enough to defeat weak monsters living around the town.
Seeing his Savior’s behaviors, Luaid said smilingly, “From what I can sense, there are five humans surrounding us. Level-wise, every one of them is superior to you. One of them is even superior to me. Do you think that weapon alone will be sufficient, ya?”
Francine gritted her teeth. The tips of her fingers became cold. In this exact same situation, if the main character of the story was Sila, it would be just a peaceful day for him. However, Francine wasn’t a direct fighter. It was her crisis. As she intended to summon Fluffy, she discovered that her bracelet didn’t respond to her command.
“Ah...! I shouldn’t have sealed Fluffy.” Francine realized she was already under attack. Among her hunters, one of them must possess a psychic-type specialist, able to mix some skills with the Seal skill, forcefully blocking her ability to summon her pets. This implied that these people knew who she was and had planned a countermeasure against her. Additionally, the fact that she had been under the effect of the skill before she belatedly realized it meant the user of the skill must possess Mind Concealment of a higher level than her Psychic Sensory.
“Let’s smile, Savior. Keep calm,” said Luaid.
“Smile? At a time like this? Aren’t you afraid?” Francine’s hands, which were holding the whip, were shaking non-stop.
“Lord Divine once taught me that every kind of worries will muddle our mind, blocking us from finding the easiest solution. His Moon Reflecting Mirror refers to the undisturbed pond that is so clear, able to perfectly reflect the reflection of the moon. The more you’re worried or afraid, the more you must keep calm. A calm mind is the strongest psychic. Don’t let your foes see through your mind. You should smile even in the face of despair.”
Francine tried to force a smile, but she couldn’t do it. On the other hand, Luaid became even more transparent than usual. It seemed he became a lot calmer in the face of danger.
“Take a deep breath, Savior. Keep it slow. Do not hurry. How long we have is not important. As long as you can keep calm, even a few seconds will be more than enough.”
Francine matched her breathing rhythm to Luaid’s. Exactly as the little slime said. The values between the five minutes of a panicked person and the ten seconds of a calm one are incomparable.
“Now, ya. Let’s carefully analyze the situation. We’re both psychics, so we can surely find a way. There are five enemies. What is our best option? Use our strong points.”
Successfully driving away some of her fear, Francine had calmed down. Even though it wasn’t at Luaid’s level, her mind had regained enough composure to think things through.
“I’m a monster tamer. As long as I can summon my pets, my victory will be half secured.”
“An excellent answer, ya. Our enemies refuse to let you summon, so this means it will be troublesome for them if you can. No need to engage in a direct clash. Just find a way to summon monsters. Who among them is responsible for sealing your ability?”
“It shouldn’t be the strongest person in their team. This person can even seal the target’s ability from a distance. This means their ability focuses on sealing and unsealing. Their fighting prowess shouldn’t be high.”
Luaid was still smiling. “What if they’re someone who is good at both fighting and skill utilizing?”
Francine shook her head. “It’s very unlikely. True, there are people like that, but there is no way people of that caliber would be assigned to station in the Town of Beginnings. I’m confident that this person is not a direct fighter. Their hand-to-hand combat ability should be around my level at most.”
“Good. Now, where is that person?”
Francine took a few deep breaths. Her enemies were gradually approaching her. It seemed the fact that she stopped moving confused them, making them wary of traps.
“In some safe spot,” replied Francine. In order to prevent her from summoning her pets, that person must be in the spot where she couldn’t easily harm them. “I don’t know exactly where though...”
“For now, this much is good enough.” Luaid sensed that the enemies were very close. If they did nothing, they would be completely encircled. Thus, he revealed the answer. “He is among the group of two behind us, following after the strongest person.”
The strong point of a monster tamer like Francine was that she and Luaid were mentally connected with the Mind Connection skill. It was one of the skills that she was confident to claim herself as the best in Monster Soul. Even a second was unneeded for her and Luaid to formulate a plan together. Their minds belonged to each other. Their collaborated actions were smooth like they had trained for more than ten times.
As Luaid suggested in her mind, her whip struck at a narrow corner of the alley. A female mage fighter was stepping out from that corner, so she was hit by the unexpected strike. Following her was a psychic-type man. This man was none other than Francine’s real target.
“Ouch!” The whip lashed on the female fighter’s face. The attack power was low, but it tore her muscle, bringing sharp pain.
Francine flicked her wrist, whipping a second time. However, the female fighter was now ready. She raised her arm to block while chanting a quick spell that turned her entire arm into metal.
The Tamer Whip had low attack power. Against such a solid defense, it dealt no damage to the target. Still, a whip was Francine’s preferred type of weapon. Instead of performing a simple strike, the tip of her whip rolled around the female fighter’s arm.
Cladding her body with psychic power reinforcement, Francine exerted her strength to pull her opponent toward her.
“What a fool you are! You’re weak, yet you’re asking for it. Come here!” The female mage fighter chuckled. She was fundamentally stronger than Francine, so their roles swapped. She pulled Francine toward her.
Francine resisted the pull at first, but she then seized the right timing to kick the ground, jumping forward while letting herself go along with her opponent’s force.
Her opponents didn’t imagine Francine would be the one daring to rush at them, so they didn’t expect this reaction. Francine relied on their carelessness to approach the sealer. Still in mid-air, she took out a dagger from her waist and clad it with psychic power reinforcement.
Nevertheless, the mage fighter was assigned to stay close to the sealer for a reason. It was her duty to protect this man. She was more than delighted to see Francine coming at her. Against her superior brute strength, a psychic who relied on techniques wouldn’t be able to block her attack. In fact, it was even possible that Francine would die in one hit.
The mage fighter clad her right armguard with her Unique Magic. It emitted a metal-colored magical vapor as it got an insane boost in attack power. She threw a fist at Francine, who was now above her head. As soon as the punch landed on the target, this hunt would end with her overwhelming victory.
It was then. The female mage fighter suddenly heard a mysterious whisper.
“As expected. You really attack with all your might. Let me borrow it for a bit, ya.”
Racial Skill — Moon Reflecting Mirror.
Luaid’s Moon Reflecting Mirror was enhanced by Francine’s psychic power. It manifested out of thin air in the form of an antique mirror. The attack that it reflect contained twice its former attack power. This was the benefit that Luaid obtained from becoming Francine’s pet.
He slightly shifted the angle of the mirror, making the attack power flying toward the sealer instead.
Francine naturally didn’t have the capability to take down an opponent in one hit without the help of her pets. On the other hand, for a combat-type player who had honed their offensive ability, just a single punch was enough to kill the sealer.
As Luaid had said, it was the easiest and quickest solution to the problem.
The shadow of a punch that bounced off from the surface of the mirror precisely flew toward the sealer’s head. The sound of his skull being crushed reverberated, prompting Francine to avert her eyes.
Even though her eyes didn’t focus on the gruesome scene, Francine didn’t slow down her next course of action. The bracelets on her right wrist emitted a glow, releasing a black-haired girl and a giant rabbit from their seals.
There was no need for instructions since their minds were perfectly synchronized. Quasar threw two dark-element magical daggers at the female mage fighter. As soon as they stabbed her chest, the metal color of her armguard became dimmer. Quasar’s dark magic power was contaminating it.
Concurrently, Fluffy dashed at the female mage and bashed its palm against her.
In less than two seconds after the two monsters were released from the seals, the female mage fighter collapsed, gravely injured. The two daggers in her chest had dispersed, but the wounds they made constantly releasing black smoke. Her magic power was consumed rapidly. The black smoke solidified into hundreds of daggers, bombarding her. Her magic power reinforcement grew thinner with every passing second. Eventually, she died, turned into a light white, and disappeared.
Quasar clicked her tongue as she regretted her vicious combo would never work on Mammon. It was a combo where she converted her opponents’ magic power into weapons that work against themselves.
Mammon was an item specialist. He had high defense from his equipment. Even when he didn’t clad himself with energy reinforcement, he would still be able to endure damages done to him to some degree. A psychic-type like him tended to rely on battle gears, unlike qi-types or magic-types who possessed enough power to negate the incoming attack head-on.
Three more people arrived at the scene from the front. Noticing that their strongest member had died while Francine had her pets surrounding her, they immediately ran away.
Quasar was the least obedient to Francine, so she threw daggers at the three’s backs without waiting for instructions. Unfortunately, the three of them were too far away. They only got some minor injuries on them as they had escaped from Quasar’s attack range.
“We’re safe, Savior. Let’s seize this chance when they are panicking to escape from the city, ya.”
Francine nodded. She didn’t dare to waste her time. Her identity was exposed, so there was no need for her to hide her presence anymore. She jumped onto Fluffy’s shoulder, who had been circulating Snow Moon Qi for a while, making its body lighter. It hopped to a roof, then flexed its leg muscle, soaring high into the sky, leaving the Town of Beginnings in a couple of jumps.
On the street, new players were pointing at her, totally amazed by the sight of a woman riding on a polar bear in the sky.
As expected of Monster Soul’s Town of Beginnings... It was truly the habitat of various kinds of strange events.
Francine stood on the Island of Beginnings’ northern coast, her eyes gazing at the sea. The mission was for her to bring Luaid to somewhere undersea. Not only did she need to travel on the sea, but she also had to dive underwater. This was not to mention that even Luaid only roughly knew the location, not an exact spot.
The ocean was vast, but they didn’t know where their target was staying. The quest of finding a single person undersea was no different than looking for a needle in a haystack.
“Forgive me, Savior. I’m so useless. If His Majesty is here, he will be able to locate the target in no time,” Luaid said with a sad expression. He regretted not training his psychic abilities in the area of searching.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry I can’t be of much help either.” Francine was a monster expert. She might be able to pull it off if the quest was for her to search for a hidden monster. However, Luaid said that this evil sorcerer belonged to the human race.
“How about we enter the sea first?” Francine suggested. “Maybe we can find him by chance.”
Luaid nodded, though he inwardly thought that things wouldn’t be so easy. Their opponent was the King of Spells. It was highly likely that the man had erected another kind of domain to conceal his power and his presence. They might not notice the man even if they swim past him.
“How are we going underwater, ya?”
Francine held Quasar with two arms. “It’s fortunate that Qua-chan is here, or it will be very troublesome otherwise.”
“...” Quasar said nothing in response.
“Are you okay, Qua-chan? Are you feeling unwell?” Francine sensed Quasar’s worry.
“I’m not. It’s just that the undersea is not safe. You should abort this mission if possible. It’s no different from throwing away our lives.”
Francine was doubtful. In the regard of sensing incoming dangers, psychic-type is usually the best. However, Quasar—who was a magic-type—declared that the undersea was dangerous while she and Luaid felt nothing unusual.
“Aren’t you thinking too much?” asked Francine. “Our role is just to find the person and disturb his spellcasting. There is no need to fight.”
Quasar sighed. “You people don’t see ambient mana like I do. What we’re going to encounter is not someone who we can meet up and simply return. That guy is dangerous... extremely dangerous...”
Fluffy snorted while looking at Quasar with contempt. Since their minds were connected, the girl could sense that the rabbit was mocking her, telling she was a coward.
“You can say that because you don’t see what I am seeing!” Quasar shouted. “The range of his Mana Tempest Mastery reaches this far! He is undoubtedly at Emperor Rank. Just his magic arrows are probably enough to kill us several times.”
Magic type focuses on skills, so there are a great number of them. Mana Tempest Mastery is one of the eight ultimate passive magic-type skills, which every mage in the Monster Realm always possesses at least one of them. Their names consist of Mana Radiance Mastery (Light), Mana Shadow Mastery (Dark), Mana Tempest Mastery (Wind), Mana Terra Mastery (Earth), Mana Blaze Mastery (Fire), Mana Torrent Mastery (Water), Mana Glacial Mastery (Ice), and Mana Shock Mastery (Lightning). These skills are useless on their own, but they can greatly enhance the user’s abilities to use their spells. Quasar, too, possessed one of them, namely Mana Torrent Mastery. Though her skill level was nowhere near Kritsana’s.
Mana Tempest Mastery extends the effective range of other spells cast by the user. The fact that the King of Spells could cast spells from such a long distance helped Quasar to discern that the level of his Mana Tempest Mastery must be above 70 but less than 100.
As far as Quasar knew, God was the only being in the Monster Realm who possessed the Mana Tempest Mastery skill at level 100. Not even other archangels had ever reached this level. At level 100, Mana Tempest Mastery allows the user to aim their spells across dimensions, though whether they can see their targets or not is up to their techniques. It is a very fraudulent power against an opponent who can’t travel across dimensions, especially qi-types who tend to be helpless against long-distance attacks. Still, these eight Mana Mastery skills are insanely difficult to level up. They tend to stop improving at level 90.
It wasn’t that Quasar could see through Kritsana’s strength, however. It’s just that both of them are magic-types, so she could more or less gauge her opponent’s strength just by judging his supporting skills.
From Quasar’s perspective, she witnessed ambient mana being pulled toward the deepsea at an astonishing rate. This level of magic power consumption implied that the spells he was casting were tremendously powerful. Being able to cast such spells indicated how mighty the spellcaster was.
Even before Quasar had encountered this opponent, and even when she had never met him, she was fully aware that she wasn’t his match.
Francine could sense heavy fear in Quasar’s heart. What Quasar feared the most was none other than death. Although her current status was a pet, meaning she would revive even if she died, she was still afraid. She dreaded the feeling of desperation when she was losing her breath, which connected her to her experience in Hell. It was the death that brought her to that hellish place, so she wouldn’t risk herself to attempt a suicide mission.
Fleeing is not a crime. For Quasar, the term “Savior” was a terminology to call a fool who walks into death while overestimating oneself.
“In that case, Qua-chan, you don’t have to participate. Just guide us. You can enter the seal when we’re close to the target.”
“I don’t have to fight? Am I allowed?” Quasar was doubtful. In her world, there were only either ‘using others’ or ‘being used’. There had never been a third option.
Francine nodded. “I won’t force you.”
“...” Quasar pondered for a few seconds. “Fine, then. When we reach to where I’m uncomfortable with, I will tell you the direction one last time, and you have to seal me immediately.”
Quasar had heard that humans possessed some kind of fraudulent ability that prevented them from going to Hell, so she understood why Francine wasn’t afraid of death.
“Okay! First things first, please use Eclipse Scale Mana Shell on me,” requested Francine. She was different from Sila. As soon as she got a new pet, she would thoroughly study it and its skills, sometimes asking it to demonstrate them. This kind of information is of utmost importance to a monster tamer like her.
Quasar drew her hand, transforming Francine’s clothes into a one-piece swimsuit with blackfish scales pattern. Eclipse Scale Mana Shell increases the wearer’s dark resistance to 75% and allows them to inherit some abilities from Quasar—such as seeing in the dark or breathing underwater.
“Can’t it be another outfit?” Francine asked as she looked at herself in a swimwear, embarrassed.
“Just get it over with.” Quasar was uninterested.
Since there was nothing she could do, Francine shifted her gaze to Luaid, who was now sitting on her palm. “Slimes are vulnerable to seawater. Fortunately, you are a psychic-type like me, so we can rely on my Unleash the Monster special skill. I’m going to seal you inside the bracelet, okay?”
Unleash the Monster is a special skill exclusive for psychic-types. It allows the user to activate the skills of their psychic-type pets directly from a pet-sealing accessory of A Grade or higher, though the number of times that she can use the pet's skills is limited.
At Francine’s current level, she could activate the pet’s skills for five times. After that, she would have to let her pet stay outside for at least a day for her to use its skills in this manner again.
Luaid’s body was absorbed into Francine’s bracelet. Witnessing so, Quasar made an annoyed expression.
“Hang on. You only have two bracelets, don’t you? This rabbit surely can’t swim. You have to leave one open for me, remember?”
Francine only had two A-Grade pet-keeping bracelets on her. She rarely paid attention to the lower grades since their abilities were quite bad. Now that she had three pets, however, she had no choice but to let at least one of them outside until she found another A-grade pet-keeping item.
“I do, Qua-chan.” Francine smiled. After looking around and found that there were no one else besides them, she reached her hand to touch Fluffy, her only Lord Rank monster who also had the maximum Affection Level toward her. She activated her ultimate skill.
“Monster Fusion.” Muttering the skill name, Fluffy turned into a beam, merging with her body. The only change in her appearance was that she now had bunny ears protruded out of her head.
“Ah... I look just like a bunny girl.” She looked at her current appearance—a bunny girl in one-piece—and found that it was very eye-catching.
She tried using Qi Circulation and felt coldness running through her veins. Opening her palm, a few white snowflakes were dancing on it.
“I can stay like this for only half an hour. Hopefully, we will find the target before the time runs out.”
Monster Fusion is a high-tier special skill. With it, Francine could seal her pets into her body. She would temporarily gain stats and skills of the pets sealed this way. Additionally, the gained stats would increase by 20% for each additional pet sealed inside her. The main drawback of the skill is that her health points and psychic points would stay the same despite the increase in other stats. She might found qi circulation was an easy thing to do, but it was actually thanks to Fluffy’s Qi Circulation skill being very high. She possessed neither monster’s learning instinct nor proficiency to make use of her pet’s skills. Her control over the new skills was bound to be poor, so it was entirely possible for the fusion to diminish user’s overall strength instead. Also, dying in this state would result in her pet dying with her.
Francine’s understanding of the Monster Fusion skill was still developing. When used it on a qi-type pet like Fluffy, if she managed to find a method to let it circulate qi that had the property of increasing the maximum values of health points and qi points, she would partially benefit from the permanent increase of them.
“Follow me closely.” Quasar jumped into the sea. Francine slowly submerged her legs into the water and got a peculiar feeling. The sea was comfortably cool while the air seemed too dry to her taste. Once she dived into the sea, she felt excited. It was like her body was being embraced by tenderness. She guessed this must be what a fish feels when it is in the water.
She could see in underwater despite the darkness. She kicked the water, trying to follow Quasar. However, her swimming speed was poor. On the other hand, Quasar seemed to be exceptionally fast, her movements were also smooth.
“Don’t swim using a land animal’s manner.” Quasar knew what Francine was thinking. “Moving only a little is enough. You are under the effect of my Mana Shell, so you should be able to do it. Let yourself flow with the torrent. Imagine you’re a fish.”
Quasar relied on the principle of levitation. Francine was a psychic-type, so she didn’t have any experience levitating. Fortunately for her, Quasar’s power worked great in water, and swimming in the sea is naturally easier than floating in the air. Thus, after putting in some efforts, plus using Psychic Impact to push herself forward, she eventually learned how to swim like a fish.
You have gotten a new special skill: Flow Reading.
After acquiring the special skill, her movements became noticeably faster. She was suddenly aware of sea currents flowing past her. The skill would allow her to feel the air currents as well. It is one of the important skills for a strategist, providing various utilities when using together with other skills.
In any case, Francine was only short on one skill learned from monsters for her to acquire the Monster Heir special skill.
Quasar stopped swimming and pointed her finger at the deepest part of the ocean. “Head that way. That spot is where mana flows and gathers. The spellcaster is here.”
With the power she obtained from Quasar’s Mana Shell, Francine saw an elderly man sitting on the floor at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes closed. A mage staff rested on his lap.
“It’s still not too late to change your mind. As soon as you dive further, you will enter his magic domain. He will immediately sense your arrival,” warned Quasar.
“Blub blub blub.” It seemed Quasar was the only one capable of talking underwater. Francine realized it once she tried to thank the girl.
Bubbles of air gently came out of her mouth, but that was enough for the detection spell—which Kritsana had cast around him—to detect an anomaly. The old man abruptly opened his eyes, gazing at Francine.
A part of mana in the water formed itself into a blue magic arrow, which was difficult to spot underwater. The lone arrow pointed at the invader since it was enough to put a player to death.
The magic arrow was still in the casting process. Kritsana had yet to select a target, so neither Francine nor Luaid were aware of the danger. Given the speed of Kritsana’s spell, Francine’s life would already be taken before she could react.
When elite spellcasters clash, they can rely on their abilities to see ambient mana to observe its response to the spells being active or cast. With this approach, they can guess which skills their opponents are going to use.
Quasar was capable of interpreting the changes in ambient mana, so she immediately sensed the magic arrow before Kritsana released the spell. Beside the old spellcaster, she was the only one making a move. She wanted to yell at Francine, calling the woman “Stupid girl!” but there was no time to say even a word.
Quasar quickly bumped into Francine as the magic arrow shot forward. Confused, Francine and Luaid shifted their gazes toward the little girl and spotted a fist-sized hole on her face.
Her body broke apart and became a group of black blood, dyeing a part of the ocean black before slowly fading away. Another magic arrow flew toward Francine. This time, however, Luaid was ready for it. He activated Psychic Manipulation through the bracelet, diverting the path of the arrow.
Kritsana was currently using many high-tier spells in conjunction, so he was unable to unleash his full power. He had thought of a countermeasure against uninvited guests beforehand, however. He activated an item skill attached on one of the eight rings he wore.
Each of the eight rings possessed a rare magic-type item skill that Kritsana couldn’t normally cast, so the skill was strengthened by his Art of Magic, becoming three times more powerful than it should have been.
“Spirit Slave.” A large translucent lifeform emerged from mana. Kritsana knocked his mage staff on it, changing its color to light blue. Fish scales appeared on its skin while its hands became webbed like those of a frog. The size of its body doubled. Water-element magic particles swirling around it.
There was no need for instructions. It dashed through the sea, heading toward Francine.
The item skill, Spirit Slave, is the spell to manifest a magical being called Djinn, who exists to protect its master and eliminate their threats. The first attack that it receives, which doesn’t need to be magic-based—it can be either physical, qi, or psychic power—will determine its foundation. It will absorb that attack, letting the attack become its power. From then on, it will recover its health and power every time it takes a hit from the same kind of power.
Most of the time, Kritsana would use it as a shield, blocking an enemy’s attack. For example, if his opponent slashed Djinn with a sword made of psychic power, he would get the psychic-based Djinn. The more it was hit by psychic power, the higher its recovery rate, greatly limiting his opponent’s actions and giving him time to cast other spells.
This time, however, Kritsana exploited the environment, hitting his Djinn with a water-element attack. Thus, it became a water-based Djinn. As long as it stayed underwater, its power would constantly recover.
Spirit Slave is an S-grade item skill that comes with a couple of downsides. Firstly, Djinn is extremely vulnerable to the element that it is weak against. Secondly, one can only summon a single Djinn at one point of time. Though Kritsana could actually summon four of them simultaneously if he relied on the Arch-Mage Staff. Unfortunately for him, his focus was on the Slime Kingdom, so he was unable to withdraw the mage staff from casting main spells.
Francine’s Psychic Sensory sensed that Djinn’s level of power was superior to even Fluffy’s, her strongest pet. No wonder Kritsana didn’t bother moving from his spot.
Because this Djinn alone was enough to annihilate her team.
Francine was made to remind the absolute logic of the world: The strong devours the weak.
The world has been that way, and will always be.
The sight of the King of Spells, who refused to spare her another glance, was comparable to the King in a chessboard. The most important piece in the game of chess. His existence alone decides the fate of the whole army. Meanwhile, the light blue Djinn represented the Queen, the strongest piece who can crush small fries like them to bits as easily as moving away from its position.
‘We’re just mere pawns, aren’t we...?’
“That was close.” The voice of someone who should have died rang out.
Quasar, in her blackfish form, swam next to Francine. Seeing the human’s confused expression, she explained.
“My human form was just a shell made from my magic power. It’s not my physical body. That arrow missed me, stupid girl.”
“It’s okay if we’re just pawns, Savior.” Luaid ignored the fact that Quasar was alive. His brain was fully active, searching for a way to obtain a victory. He encouraged Francine, “Lord Divine told me that even a pawn can be superior to the Queen if it is in the right position.”
“Heh. Don’t group me with the likes of you.” Seeing Luaid ignoring her, Quasar was upset. “At the very least, I would be a Bishop.”
Kritsana put more of his focus into spellcasting. He had expected the famous NPC like the Slime King to try something, though he never imagined the slimes’ reinforcement would turn out to be an ordinary Knight-Rank player.
Rank doesn’t necessarily portray combat strength. However, there was no way a Knight Rank player would possess enough health points and energy reserves to survive against his magic attack.
One of the advantages belonging to the magic type is that the caster doesn’t need to divide their concentration to cast a spell on top of another unless the spells are continuous. Thus, Kritsana could easily activate the item skill, Spirit Slave, without worrying about the constant consumption of Sovereign of Grave Keepers and Twin Fish’s Domain.
Regarding summoning magics, they are largely divided into two categories: Direct summoning and lifeform manifestation. Direct summoning refers to the action of summoning either a monster, a part of a monster, or the abilities of a monster. The said summons must exist somewhere in the past or present. Most summoning magics belong to this category, including Sebastian’s Red Skeleton, Juntrathep’s Guardians of Light, and even Montra’s Dragon Soul.
As for the lifeform manifestation, people oftentimes confuse it with direct summoning or even think there is no difference between the two. It is a misunderstanding, however. Compared to summoning, manifesting a magical lifeform can be either a stronger or a weaker choice depending on the user’s rank.
The skills related to lifeform manifestation are rare. While they look similar to pets, they are completely different. There is neither the concept of Affection Level nor Satiety. Their power is directly tied to the user’s, being equal or even stronger, though their rank would advance as far as the user’s. The examples are Beelzebub’s Entomomageia, Sila’s Level 1,000 Lord Rank Berserker, and Kritsana’s Level 1,000 Emperor Rank Spirit Slave.
With that in mind, Kritsana knew he could leave this group of intruders to his Spirit Slave. Still, just to be safer, he activated the item skill from the ring on his left pinky. It was a powerful defensive spell that would continuously consume his magic power after he triggered it, so he tended to avoid activating it unless he thought it was necessary.
“Holy Grail.” A white orb appeared and hovered around Kritsana. With this item skill, he could split a portion of his health points and magic power to be kept separately. Whenever he died, as long as the skill was still active, the portion would automatically return and revive him. For psychic type, the result of this skill is rarely different from Psychic Dividing Life. For magic type, however, the skill is considered powerful. It is extremely useful when using in conjunction with some spells that require the caster to sacrifice their own life. While it may seem inferior to other direct revival spells such as Dragon Heart, it is more versatile.
“Reverse Cosmos.” Right after Kritsana had poured 90% of his health points and magic power into the Holy Grail, he activated another item skill from his right ring finger, refilling the previously lost health points and magic power in an instant. The skill allowed him to revert the values of his health points and magic points to a past action ago, regardless of the action being spellcasting or suffering from an attack.
The deepsea was so silent that the sound of fish swimming through water was noticeable. Kritsana was now ready. He sat still, calmly waiting for the incoming invaders.
Francine couldn’t be sure whether she was sweating since she was underwater. One thing she was sure of, however, was the fact that her body was shaking in fear. The giant spirit that was swimming toward her was obviously not a monster. She could neither form a mental connection nor inspect its level, only felt immense pressure from it. Once its blue eyes locked onto her, her body became cold, refusing to move. Only after Quasar had swum around her that she regained her ability to move.
“Don’t just stay still and get hit by its spell like that. You will die foolishly otherwise.”
Quasar dragged Francine away. Djinn simply shifted its gaze following them but didn’t hunt them down. Its main priority was to protect its master, so it couldn’t leave too far from the spellcaster. Quasar knew Djinn’s active range by relying on one of her magic skills, derived from the Flow Reading skill.
“Seeing a non-talking monster doesn’t mean it can’t use skills. It just chants in an incomprehensible language,” warned Quasar. Most people think that having to say a spell’s name aloud is one of the magic types’ biggest weaknesses, so they tend to underestimate magic-type monsters and make a mistake when fighting ones.
The Water Net spell, used by Djinn, was difficult to be spotted underwater, so Francine was tied unknowingly. Quasar noticed the spell from the change in ambient mana, not its appearance, so she used her power to break Francine free from the constraint.
“There is no other choice. Release the limiter you put on my power now if you don’t want to die,” Quasar said as she observed Djinn’s movements.
Sensing the seriousness in Quasar’s voice, Francine released the limiter on her pet, making the blackfish regain her full power. In this state, Quasar was significantly stronger, but she would be more likely to refuse Francine’s orders.
Their bodies were pulled toward Djinn by his manipulation of water currents.
“Gigigi! It acts in the same manner as Leviathan, just like when I hunted him with that bastard. Could it be that all water-element creatures are dumb?” Quasar became more like herself.
A long time ago, Quasar and Mammon once had a showdown against Leviathan, one of the Seven Deadly Sins. For Mammon, he joined the fight in order to find a chance to steal a Hidden Gift from the Demon of Envy. For Quasar, however, it was to teach the dragon—who looked down on her, calling her a baby fish daring to fight a water dragon—a lesson. By the end of this lesson, the dragon would learn to realize that even the Lord of Seas was amount to pathetic worm in front of her.
Leviathan was an elite dragon, possessing fraudulent abilities. It was a cyan-scaled dragon with light and transparent fin-like wings. It had a certain spell that allowed it to spilt its body up to no limit. Upon being split, its clones would adapt themselves to environments, gaining their own uniqueness. Each of them became a new monster. Some of them might even become psychic types or qi types. On top of that, the real body possessed another skill called Water Clone Scale, which had an ability similar to Quasar’s, enable it to swim through ambient mana to arrive at any of its clones, who scattered all over the Monster Realm, and take over the clone’s life.
At that time, Mammon and Quasar combined their strength. They ambushed, laid traps, and deceived the dragon—tricking Leviathan’s real body into taking over the clone who they had captured beforehand. The clone was weak and on the verge of dying, so they had an enjoyable time torturing the Demon of Envy. Unfortunately, when they were about to deliver a final blow, the dragon managed to run away. It didn’t dare to call Quasar a baby fish a second time though.
Black mana dissolved into the sea. Dark and light elements are not only mutually exclusive but also fundamentally superior to the other six elements. The dyed part of the sea compressed and formed into an anglerfish, its size even bigger than Djinn. It opened its mouth, showing numerous sharp teeth, and flew toward Djinn at the speed comparable to bullet.
Djinn relied on its overwhelming power to compressed mana into a water-element wall, thick and wide. It momentarily splitting the sea apart.
The giant anglerfish dissolved as it banged against the wall, dyeing the sea on its side. The wall became dimmer as well. Ten thousand of small fish emerged from the disappearing anglerfish, swimming systematically. They lined up, forming a harpoon-shaped formation.
Amidst the darkness under the sea, Quasar’s voice rang out from every direction.
“Penetrating Shadow Fish.”
A mid-tier spell was cast, but its power was enhanced by Quasar being Francine’s pet. The swarm of fish spun their bodies, easily penetrating the wall. It was to be expected since the spell had the property of penetrating defense.
Against the dark-element spellcaster, one should choose to dodge the attack rather than blocking it. However, the effects of most spells are predetermined. Djinn’s current main duty was to protect its master. Guarding its master took priority. It didn’t understand the concept of evasion as the attack might bring harm to its master.
Apparently, Kritsana misunderstood. Seeing Francine coming at him underwater, he guessed the woman’s abilities must be water-related and countered accordingly by manifesting the water-element Djinn. However, the truth was that Quasar was more excel in the dark element. Her defense might be poor, but her offensive ability—especially against the enemy who refused to be evasive—was a different story.
In regard to the offensive capability, the dark element is number one.
While the fire element is generally more powerful, more continuous, and deals a wider area of effect, the dark element is armed with penetrating attributes, curses, and some rituals that the user may sacrifice a part of themselves to obtain greater power.
Djinn counterattacked using undercurrent waves. It is normally easy to pinpoint a spellcaster’s location. However, Quasar blended her existence with the surroundings, rendering Djinn unable to specify her exact whereabouts. His attacks went through a black veil of the sea without touching Quasar.
Numerous tiny fish transformed into small daggers, bombarding Djinn. There was a large gap between their rank, however, so they only left a few scratches—which were healed in almost no time.
“A Hundred Nightmares.” Quasar cast a curse that she often used against superior opponents. Djinn’s vision, along with the color of its scales, became dimmer. It was affected by the curse that reduced the target’s resistance against dark-element spells every time they were hit by them. Once they were attacked over a hundred times, their defense against dark-element spells would drop to zero. From then on, even their energy reinforcement would be useless.
It is the curse that preys upon qi types and magic types who are overconfident in their high energy reserve, mainly protecting themselves using energy reinforcement while neglecting defensive equipment. As far as Quasar saw it, this Djinn didn’t have a single battle gear.
Still, Djinn possessed high health points, powerful attack power, and high regenerative ability. Compared to Quasar, who had lost a big portion of her magic power, it still had an overwhelming upper hand. It cast a spell, using the cleansing property of water-element magic, to gradually cleanse the curse from its body. The effectiveness of the curse slowly weakened.
In order to turn the fateful defeat to victory, Quasar deemed a high-tier spell necessary. With her rank being lower and she was unable to borrow power from ambient mana, however, she didn’t have enough mana reserve to cast a single high-tier spell in her possession.
Magic-type skills demand the highest energy consumption rate compared to the other two. Mana reserve of magic-type beings grows exponentially when their ranks are promoted since spells of higher tier naturally require several times more mana. It was technically impossible for Quasar, who was at Marquis Rank, to cast a high-tier spell purely from her mana reserve.
Quasar’s clone, made of Mana Shell, swam past Djinn. The giant spirit was a loyal guardian, so it ignored petty attacks from several tiny fish of darkness and reached its hand to block the clone’s path.
Cladding its claw with magic power reinforcement, it pulled the clone toward its palm using water currents, then crushed its target into bits.
Blackwater poured out from the crushed body, seeping through Djinn’s scales and permeating its skin. The sinister mana tried to harm the target from the inside. However, Djinn simply clad its body with magic power reinforcement. Its eyes shone with light-blue glow. Using the property of the water element, it drove the impurity inside its body away in one go.
It possessed a tremendous amount of mana reserve, so losing an insignificant portion of it to cleanse its body was not a problem at all.
“Gigigi! Thanks, you dumbass! You really fought like an open book.” Quasar, in a human form, was actually floating above Djinn. She extended her hand and compressed the mana that Djinn used to drive her curse away. Contaminating the enemy’s power was her forte. She absorbed and used it as if it belonged to her. The amount of mana might be negligible for Djinn, but it was enough for Quasar to cast one high-tier spell.
“My name is the Eclipse Fish, who is forever up to no good. I shall sacrifice my flesh and blood to the Goddess of Betrayal and Disloyalty, asking her to bestow me the power of curse and pain. Together, they shall merge into the evil weapon of wickedness, severing bonds and laws, swaying a mortal’s mind to become unfaithful, releasing them from an empty and meaningless promise. Bond-Severing Lone Evil.”
When mentioned in the chant, the terms ‘flesh and blood’ often referred to health and magic points. Quasar’s health and magic points immediately fell to one unit. It was the risk the caster of this spell had to carry when the spell had yet to accomplish its task. The compressed mana in her hand transformed into a small dagger that silently emitting devilish energy. Its appearance seemed extremely dangerous even from a naked eye. Quasar soon enveloped her body in the darkness of the sea, hiding her presence.
A high-tier spell was too dangerous, so Djinn switched its approach, refusing to reserve its power. From its analysis, being on the offensive was the best defense at this point in time.
Oceanic Water Nets.
Chaotic sea waves surfed from every direction. Quasar gently dodged them in a calmly manner. Her principle was somehow different than Mammon’s. She didn’t always disparage her opponents during decisive moments during battles. Instead, she was the type to calmly wait until the right moment when she stabbed them in their backs. The time when she got to see their distorted faces and listen to their swears was exactly the moment she would laugh malignantly.
Their personalities might be comparably wicked, but Quasar personally took a liking of the taste of stabbing her targets from behind. This trait also conveyed through her fighting style.
Seeing the sharp drop in Quasar’s health points, Francine was worried. Quasar’s magic points remained at one unit, meaning she was practically defenseless. It also meant she couldn’t enhance her physical abilities to move better. Still, her movements that swam past Oceanic Water Nets were extremely smooth. Quasar relied on neither speed nor skills but her eyes and keen decision-making ability. She was capable of seeing ambient mana, so she knew the range and timing of Djinn’s spell. She predicted the attacks and narrowly dodged them, letting Oceanic Water Nets fly past her body less than a centimeter away.
This was Quasar’s style to use the purely offensive dark-element spell, Bond-Severing Lone Evil. If the caster of the spell was someone else, they would have sought a way to seal the opponent’s movements or delay it first. Only when the timing was right that they would unleash the spell.
Francine’s body was imbued by white qi. Using qi against magic power is not a smart idea, so she focused Fluffy’s qi on enhancing her movements. She brought her agile body to the opposite direction of where Quasar was going, trying to divert Djinn’s focus from the blackfish.
Looking from a distance, it looked as if both of them were two fish swimming playfully against water waves.
Francine’s movements were severally poorer than Quasar’s. While Quasar could perfectly evade the waves, some attacks hit Francine. Even a small cut decreased her health points by a third, prompting her to quickly circulate qi to recover it. There was an attack that almost crashed directly on her. Fortunately, Luaid managed to redirect its path using Psychic Manipulation.
Since they had to save the last use of Luaid’s skills against Kritsana, Francine decided to order Luaid to push her toward Djinn using Psychic Manipulation.
It was a risky move with a low chance of survival. However, they believed in each other despite their time spent together being so short. Francine activated Psychic Impact, also strengthening her body using qi, to leap at Djinn, flying past water nets.
The distance between her and Djinn being closer made Francine suffer from mana around it. The pressure coming from the mana alone was enough to kill a Marquis Rank monster without contact. The bones in her body made terrifying creaking sound. Blood spilled from her mouth, the inside of her ears, and the corner of her eyes. If she didn’t have Quasar’s Mana Shell protecting her, she would have died instantly.
A beam of the sound wave was shot from Francine’s palm, vibrating through the sea, in the same manner as an arrow. It hit Djinn but left it with only a small injury. The difference between their ranks made it so that Luaid’s attack was ineffective even if it hit the target directly.
Still, it was enough to provide Quasar a little bit of an opening, allowing her to narrow the distance from fifteen to one meter.
Quasar was fundamentally a fish, so she was more immune to water pressure than Francine. She could withstand the pressure for a few seconds in order to deliver an attack. The small dagger in her hand moved smoothly. It stabbed deeply in Djinn’s rib.
In that particular moment, Djinn became completely motionless. The mana around him dispersed away. Its bluish scales turned black. Both its body and animated soul were tainted by the power of darkness.
“Gigigi! This kind of animated spell has a certain weakness...” Quasar couldn’t finish her sentence as she coughed up blood.
“Seal Quasar.” Sensing that Quasar was at her limit, Francine quickly recalled the little girl into her bracelet. As for Djinn, the mighty spirit, its body was torn apart like a cup of glass.
Quasar communicated with Francine through mental connection, ordering her to cling on Djinn’s body before it flew back to its master at high speed.
Quasar’s anti-summoning spell has the ability to corrupt summons or magical lifeforms with a curse, turning them against their summoners.
The stronger their summoners are, the more powerful this spell becomes.
What Quasar had intended to explain was: Unlike pets, animated spells such as lifeform manifestation tended to create creatures that their existences were separate from the caster. At the very most, they would only notify the caster when they were disappearing. Thus, there was no way for Kritsana to be aware of the state his Djinn had become.
Quasar’s spell also concealed Djinn’s killing intent. It was no different from the small dagger held by a close friend, thrusting the caster behind their back. Djinn flew past Kritsana’s detection domain, transforming itself into hundreds of blades, bombarding its master.
“Ugh!” Kritsana didn’t sense danger, so he didn’t put up his defense. The blades stormed to his body, prompting him to cast a healing spell to preserve his life. As a result, the flow of mana he had been pouring into spellcasting weakened temporarily.
It was the moment that Luaid had been waiting for.
A sound wave violently echoed underwater, disturbing the flow of mana. The Slime Kingdom was freed from the attacks at that moment. On the other hand, however, it also meant Kritsana was released from the state he had to pour his focus onto spellcasting.
Quasar’s spell and Luaid’s skill might be powerful, but they weren’t enough to take away Kritsana’s life.
Without Twin Fish’s Domain, Kritsana was no longer capable of breathing underwater. He knocked the end of his mage staff against the ocean floor, pushing the mass of water away, showing a hole in the middle of the ocean.
It should take the Slime King a couple of minutes to arrive at this place, and that period of time was more than enough for him to kill a player of Francine’s level a thousand times.
“How interesting. There is a low-rank player capable of defeating my Djinn. It seems my information is outdated. I didn’t expect players in this era to be so strong.” Words of praise came out of his mouth. He said them with sincerity. They were his parting gift to Francine before he would remove her from the war with her death.
“Soundless Lightning.” Merciless flashes of lightning bolted toward Francine. The spell’s casting and traveling speed transcended any spell she had encountered. Normal Soundless Lightning generated one lighting strike, but four of them emerged from Kritsana’s mage staff. Each strike contained enough destructive power to deplete Francine’s health points twenty times over.
The lightning bolts flew soundlessly, but they made a deafening sound upon impact. Francine shut her eyes close, believing that she had died. When she reopened them, however, she found that all of the attacks missed her. Behind her back, there was a white robe man touching her shoulder.
“Thank you,” said Divine, who had just come out of a temporal portal together with Poluk and Viola. As for the Slime King, he stepped out from a different portal, standing behind Kritsana’s back. They both had left their psychic marks on Luaid beforehand, allowing them to leap through space and arrive at the scene in an instant.
Kritsana didn’t expect such a quick arrival from the Slime King and his Guardians. Francine’s life and death was no longer matter.
Divine pulled Francine back, pushing her past the temporal portal. As the portal was closing down, the last scene she saw was Kritsana crossing his dagger with his mage staff. The bracelet on his wrist broke apart. His rings shone dazzlingly. Meanwhile, the four strangers vanished at the speed she couldn’t follow their movements.
The portal closed. Francine found herself sitting in the Stone Forest, surrounded by slimes. Still, she heard the sound of explosions, caused by intense battle, from the north of the island despite the distance being several kilometers away. The whole island vibrated lightly. A tsunami washed away the entire harbor, sinking it completely. It was a catastrophic event as if the Island of Beginnings was coming to an end.
At the time when the Island of Beginnings was shaking by the battle of the apocalyptic magnitude, Sila—who would hear the news of the battle much later—was spending his time sharing his experience about the Sword Crowning Ceremony to goblins for two hours. He couldn’t pull himself to leave them so soon as each goblin was deeply interested in Blade Daughters since the daughters were closely related to the Goddess Igsia it worshipped. In exchange for the story, the goblin kings shared some of his knowledge with Sila. Among them, there were three things that caught his attention.
Firstly, it was the racial characteristics of members of the goblin race. The goblin race was an unpopular race among players due to the fact that changing into the race would reduce their height by ten centimeters. This change in physical appearance was similar to the undead race. Sila thought he was fortunate that the slime race didn’t have such a thing.
He discovered that the goblin race’s racial skills were very interesting, somehow resembling the slime race.
Goblins were psychic-type creatures with many racial skills. While each slime can learn three skills and have to develop them to the advanced version along with discovering their own Way of Slime, the goblin’s skills vary upon the first type of weapon they choose to wield.
For example, if they select a sword-type weapon, they will acquire a set of three skills. On the other hand, if they select a bow-type weapon, they will get a different set of three skills.
These weapon-specific skills will evolve once the user’s weapon mastery skill of that weapon type reaches transcendent rank. Goblins will obtain the ultimate skill of their race only when they have at least three weapon mastery skills at transcendent rank. It is a passive skill called ‘Triple Marvel Weapons’ that allows the user to acquire two additional sets of racial skills.
The goblins who have reached this level will be able to masterfully use their weapons. They can also confuse their opponents by swapping their weapons, using nine different racial skills in fights.
Secondly, it was about the Ten Heroes. The titles might not sound familiar to denizens of the Monster Realm. For transdimensional travelers, however, they couldn’t afford to not know such figures. The Ten Heroes were essentially gatekeepers, safeguarding the ten gates that were used to travel between the three worlds.
Each Hero had their own set of conditions for granting others the right to pass these gates. Only when travelers fulfilled those conditions they would obtain ‘Monster Stamp’ which symbolized a travel permit for them to go through the gates.
No matter which Monster Stamp they got, they could always use it on any of the ten gates. In conclusion, there were a total of ten legit methods to travel between the New World, the Decagate World, and the Monster Realm.
The spots that got called ‘Monster Realm’s junctions’ were actually the places located near those gates.
As a side note, while the ten gates were proper ways to travel across the three worlds, there existed other ways to travel across the three worlds. For example, either Sebastian’s Soul-Reaping Scythe or Orpheus’s Realm-Crossing Gate had the ability to do so.
The goblin kings told Sila that during their evacuation from the Monster Realm, they had accidentally met Xiao Dao. The man’s personality was friendly and easy-going, so they became close to him quickly. They spent a night exchanging knowledge about their skills. It was none other than Xiao Dao who suggested the goblins use the Assassin Lord’s gate since it was the gate with the easiest conditions to fulfill, requiring only money and practice time. It was the best gate for them if they intended to travel across worlds as a group. The goblins ended up making themselves acquainted with two of the Ten Heroes in that manner.
Later on, the goblins were interested in the Ten Heroes and inquired Fowl about the term out of their curiosity. However, Fowl said that there were circumstances that forbade her to tell them such information since it might hint about the methods to obtain the Monster Stamp from other Heroes. They were supposed to either find the Heroes themselves or obtain clues that some Heroes had left intentionally.
Still, the goblins learned a few titles that belonged to the Ten Heroes. They consisted of ‘Assassin Lord’, ‘Little Martial God’, and ‘Great Sage’—all of which Sila had already known.
Each Hero was extremely proficient in their arts. They possessed methods to utilize energy and skills in a way that it was beyond most monsters’ imagination.
The third and final topic was deeply connected to one of the Ten Heroes. It was the existence of Angelic Armaments, the kind of item that Sila had never heard of before.
The goblin kings explained that they, too, had only known a little about Angelic Armaments in the past. Less than five Angelic Armaments had ever been found in the Monster Realm as far as they know, which was almost ten times fewer than the number of Demonic Armaments. They had exchanged this piece of knowledge with Xiao Dao, who loved and admired weapons as much as they did. However, the reply they got from the man was shocking.
Xiao Dao said he already knew about that. He himself was the one coming up with a way to create them.
The Little Martial God then imparted the goblins the Angelic Armament production method, happy to have them as his comrades to create a number of excellent weapons. Xiao Dao loved weapons, but he didn’t like to collect them. Every time he created an Angelic Armament, he would engrave his psychic power on it and hide it somewhere in the worlds, letting it wait for its fateful master to come across. That was how some Angelic Armaments appeared in the Monster Realm.
The goblins were willing to collaborate. However, there was a problem. To create an Angelic Armament, a weapon made of Orichalcum was required. It was a mineral that could hardly be found in the New World, so the goblins didn’t get a chance to produce even a single Angelic Armament.
It was impossible to own both Angelic and Demonic Armaments, so Sila didn’t ask for through details. Still, the goblin kings insisted on telling. To obtain an Angelic Armament, one needed to bring the Level 1,000 Emperor Rank weapon made of Orichalcum to the junction of the three worlds, located near Xiao Dao’s gate, which existed in only one place for each world. The difficult part was that the junction had a very narrow entrance, less than thirty meters radius. Unless they knew the location beforehand, it was nearly impossible to find the place.
In the New World, such a junction existed within the Transworld Lake, the place which players nicknamed it according to its characteristic as the Mirror Lake—One of the four mysterious dimensions that even the Blue Pigeon Guild had little information about. It was also the place for qi-type players to obtain Qi of Little Fish.
Among Sila’s acquaintances, Varee and Lomyok were the only people using weapons made of this mineral. Out of the two, only Lomyok had his weapon at Emperor Rank, so he intended to relay this information to the man. However, contacting Lomyok was difficult. Sila was clueless about where the man was at the moment.
This news weighed on Sila’s mind as he learned from goblins that Montra also had this piece of information. Based on his personal analysis, Sila was quite sure that creating an Angelic Armament was within Montra’s capability
This discovery put a stern on Sila’s heart. Angelic Armaments had no drawbacks, so he believed that one of them was equal to one Demonic Armament.
Zarnak had no combat abilities. It was useful as a counter against dragon’s racial skills. Thus, the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword would technically make him equal to Montra. In order for him to hold an advantage, he would have to conquer another Demonic Armament.
And there happened to be one standing in front of his mansion. The Lamentable Dragon.
Sila had very little information about the sword, which was as much as anybody would have since the weapon had only been born recently. It was a newborn Demonic Armament that no one was aware of either its abilities or side effects. Not even Zarnak could determine how useful it was, compared to other Demonic Armaments.
Sila was originally a bare-handed fighter. When he learned swordsmanship, he often imagined a sword like an extended part of his hand, so he was more comfortable wielding dual swords. His Heaven’s Dismissal Sword Art, too, was technically dual-sword arts.
In high-level battles where peak concentration was required, he wouldn’t be able to afford sparing his focus to mind the durability of his swords. Thus, the swords that were best suited to his sword art should be the two that could withstand his maximum power. A sword made of cards wouldn’t suffice, or he would feel like wielding a first-class sword in one hand while holding a sword made of paper in another.
Sila returned to his mansion, gazing at the Lamentable Dragon, who had a grimace on his face. Counting the number of days, there were only a few days left until a part of its conditions was fulfilled. If he had a choice, he wouldn’t want to cheat like Mamon. However, there was no way he would waste seven days fighting it. Time was extremely precious to him.
Julia appeared to greet Sila as soon as he arrived. She handed him a warm towel.
“You must be tired, Master. Miss Varee is in the dojo. Ling Ling’s condition happened to get worse, so we decided to bring it back there.”
Sila followed Julia to the dojo. “It hasn’t fully healed yet?”
“It appears so, Master. While its qi began to stable, its body that has been fatally wounded is like a broken vessel. The injuries will act up if we’re not careful.”
Healing himself was one thing, but healing others wasn’t something Sila was good at. He was fine with healing minor injuries, but fixing such complicated wounds required special treatments. He would need either both high-level Qi Transmission and medical experience or a powerful healing spell.
The entrance of the dojo was half-opened. Through the gap, Sila witnessed Varee kneeling on the floor, her hand placed on the katana on his waist. She seemed to be using focus, so he decided not to make a sound.
A wooden dummy, wrapped under straw, sprang up from under the floor (It was a function that Sila never knew his dojo had). Her psychic power rushed to clad her wrist at an unfathomable speed. The Shadow Moon Sword slid from its sheath. The dummy was severed in half.
Sila clapped his hands. “What a splendid use of power. Just the right amount. More, the cut wouldn’t have been so clean. Less, the dummy wouldn’t have been severed.”
Varee sheathed her katana and got up. Ling Ling, who had been sleeping until now, also got up. It ran to greet its master, snuggling up to his legs and almost making him fall. Sila eventually carried it up.
“Since when did you become a sword expert?” Varee asked teasingly.
“It’s not like that. I’m an amateur when it comes to swordsmanship, still studying it. Japanese swords seem interesting though.” Sila had never paid attention to the differences between each kind of sword. It was until he met Blade Daughters that his perspective toward swords changed.
“The dojo here gives a similar vibe as the one at my home. Well, your taste of decoration is quite strange. That statue looks discomforting.” Varee approached Sila, criticizing.
“Actually, it’s Burapha who chose the design. I simply asked for a wide space to train. I wouldn’t mind even if it’s outdoors. As for the statue... there is a long story behind it. I will remove it soon enough.” Sila shrugged, his gaze staying on Varee’s katana.
“You may take a closer look at it.” Varee unsheathed the katana and gave it to Sila. “This Shadow Moon Sword is made of Orichalcum. Thanks to your Soul Crystal, it’s currently at Lord Rank. In addition to its ability to extend its length, the blade can switch its form between being sharp and dull. Both forms are very identical, however.”
Varee demonstrated changing its forms. The only difference that Sila could spot was the thickness of the blade increasing by two millimeters. The change was subtle compared to Lomyok or Montra’s weapons, which the two forms differed greatly.
“I’m good at using katana only, so I see no benefits of switching to a different type of weapon. After discussing with Mister Zeref, he told me preserving the originality of the katana was a good idea since he could focus on option enchantments. In the sharp form, the katana will reduce the target’s physical defense by 40%. On the other hand, the target’s energy resistance will be reduced by 40% when it is in the dull form. When changing forms, I can adjust the blade’s length. I excel at high-speed psychic power reinforcement, so it appears as if I can adjust the length anytime I want. Lastly, it will decrease the target’s level by 400 upon killing them.”
“What about the sword art that you used just now?” Sila knew Varee inherited her swordsmanship from her mother since her childhood, so her mastery of swords was excellent.
Varee felt glad that Sila was interested in something about her, contrary to the past when he always ignored her, so she was happy to share her story.
“Unlike your dojo which is a school, our dojo is a small private property. The sword art is what my mom personally invented and imparted it to me, verbally and demonstrably. It is called Gentle Whirlwind Raging Torrent Sword Art, a contradictory sword art regarding the speed of swordplay being fast yet slow. The principle is difficult, so she broke it into two parts, imparting Big Sis Vata and me each. She wanted us to combine them in the future. The part that I inherited is called Raging Torrent. It’s about speedy swordplay.”
Sila was tense, though he didn’t let it show on his face. The real Vata had died, so the first part of the sword art—Gentle Whirlwind—was technically lost.
Varee believed Sila was thinking about the topic that everyone always thought of when she mentioned the name of the sword art. “I guess you must be wondering whether my mom named her daughters after the name of the sword art, right? You’re right about that.”
Sila honestly didn’t think about that, but he concurred. He shifted the topic, talking about Varee’s father.
“Come to think about it, what kind of job Uncle does for a living? Do you know how he became Teacher Mora’s close friend?”
“They becoming friends isn’t related to his current work. My dad is the CEO managing all the hotels under the Heavenly Cloud Group. It’s my mom’s family business. Unfortunately, there was an electric accelerator explosion accident in our largest hotel. It was big news. The family members of my mother’s side all died. The business was on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s thanks to my dad who worked hard, taking on problems after problems, that the group can recover from it. It’s the story before my mom passed away.
“About Mister Mora, I don’t know much either. I recall he is my mom’s friend. My mom was the one introducing him to my dad, and they became friends since then.”
Sila’s body shivered. He hardly heard the last part of Varee’s explanation. “...That hotel.”
“The hotel where the accident occurred. What was its name?” Sila asked, hoping he would get a different answer from the one in his mind.
“It’s Blue Sky Palace.”
The truth struck Sila. The one responsible for that mass-murder, masked as an accident, was none other than the Demon God Zenga—who invaded the place to rob the Heavenly Reservoir Qi scripture to recover his disciple’s crippled profound veins.
Knowing the truth, Sila couldn’t bring himself to reveal it to Varee.
The Sky Tower Clan was a large family, yet almost all of their members had died. Their only descendants left in the world seemed to be Kawin and Varee.
Sila felt like he greatly owed the Sky Tower Clan people a huge blood debt since the Flaming Cloud Dojo was responsible for their tragic ends.
Would it be better if he was unaware of all this?
“What’s wrong, Sila?” Seeing Sila become unusually quiet, Varee was worried. “You look pale. You must be tired. How about taking some rest?”
Sila moved his gaze to Varee. His mind changed.
No... knowing is naturally better than not. The past cannot be undone, but it can be a lesson for the valuable present.
“It’s nothing. I just have many things in my mind.” Sila showed a smile before donning the Thief Lord’s Mask to hide his change of expressions from Varee.
“Why do you have to put on a mask?”
“I’m about to show you an interesting place—the 99th squad’s secret base. Everyone must be waiting. I will introduce you to my new friends.”
“New friends?” Varee was doubtful. She always thought Bluebird and Burapha were all the friends Sila had. “Since when did you become a sociable person?”
“Quit it and get ready. I’m sure you’re going to like that place. It’s very suitable for you.”
Varee asked no further questions. Sila put down Ling Ling, who was quite dissatisfied by the fact that no one paid him attention, and held Varee’s left hand. The two soon vanished from the Mansion of Secrets.
Varee was frowning in the Skills Training Ground. In fact, she didn’t blatantly show her irritated expression since she was in front of other people. However, Sila could tell from the look in her eyes that her mood had gone bad. He wondered why. He honestly thought she should have been happy since the Skills Training Ground was a suitable place for an aggressive girl like her.
Varee had been wondering for a while what kind of place Sila would bring her to. It turned out that it was another training location. Additionally, Sila previously told her that this place suited her, meaning he thought of her as a fighting-maniac just like himself. It was natural that she was unhappy about it.
Meanwhile, the 99th squad members were gossiping among themselves, wondering about the reason why their leader brought the Goddess of Purified Water to the Colossia City’s underground—the place where they presumed it as their squad’s secret base. It wasn’t like they minded about it being revealed though.
Sila brought Varee to his teammates, introducing her. “Hello, everyone. This person is Varee, though I guess you must have already known about her. Varee, these people are the members of the 99th squad. Miki. Alpha. Isaac.” He stopped, looking around. “Where is Midnight?”
“Midnight entered the training ground and never left since then. He mentioned having little time,” Isaac answered Sila’s question. He kept glancing at Varee from time to time, feeling rather shy. Varee was a beauty to be reckoned with. He never expected he would have a chance to be this close to her.
White fog lingered and grouped up, turning into Fowl. “The one you people call Midnight is trying to fulfill the conditions for entering the Decagate World. He is very diligent.”
Fowl was aware that Midnight’s actual name was Zero, but she saw no point in revealing it. She also called Sila Nero in front of others.
“Oh. A new customer. You have to pay up if you want to use my facilities,” Fowl said to Varee.
Sila’s group could use Fowl’s services for free, so it yielded her no profit regardless of how frequently they came here. She had been persuading them to invite more players to the place.
At first, Sila and his teammates wanted to keep the secret to themselves. However, thinking about it again, Sila personally thought that elevating players’ strength would make the game more enjoyable overall. The main cities being unsealed so soon caused many players to obtain many powerful abilities, yet their foundations were lacking. The Skills Training Ground was a suitable place to fix this problem.
Sila planned to slowly spread the news, referring friends to friends. He started with Varee and allowed her to relay the place’s existence to her friends. He was afraid that revealing it in the game forum would cause people to flock Colossia City in a short time, leading to another attempt to conquer the city. Thus, he would like the members of the Shadow Army to use the services first, increasing their strength to protect the city.
“What is the Decagate World?” asked Varee.
Isaac was quick to reply. “The Decagate World is the world where... there are... erm... ten gates, perhaps? Ouch!”
Miki withdrew her fist from Isaac’s head. “Just stay silent if you don’t know. Don’t try to act smart to show off.”
Fowl shot a cold glare at Isaac, making the man avert his gaze.
She explained. “The Decagate World is the world that exists between the New World—where you are currently living—and the Monster Realm. It’s a suitable world for polishing your skills in order to venture into the Monster Realm. Some famous figures such as Ten Heroes were born in that world.”
Aside from Sila, it was the first time everyone here got to hear the term ‘Ten Heroes’. Thus, they didn’t show any noteworthy reaction upon hearing it. Such a dull response irritated Fowl.
“How strong are the Ten Heroes?” Sila asked to lessen the pressure he felt from Fowl’s Mental Oppression. She emitted it subtly, so the others were unaware. Only Sila, who had been polishing his Moon Reflecting Mirror during his stay in the Skills Training Ground, possessed the sense sharp enough to pick it up.
“A good question.” Fowl smiled merrily. “Judging by their power level alone, probably only four of them are above the Monster Realm’s standard. However, in regard to their techniques, they are unparalleled.”
Only a few players had a chance to encounter Emperor Rank monsters. Even if someone told them the Ten Heroes are as strong as those monsters, it was still beyond their scope of comprehension how strong that was. For Isaac, even a Marquis Rank monster was already problematic if it was a monster that his fighting style was disadvantageous against. Upon hearing the term strong, what came to his mind was dragons.
“Do you mean they are as strong as dragons?” He asked.
“Among the Ten Heroes, one of them is actually a member of the dragon race. Her rank is equal to Infernee, but she is far stronger.”
“Even stronger than Infernee?” In his mind, Sila thought Infernee was already very formidable.
“Let me put it this way. It doesn’t have to be that particular hero. Every single one among the Ten Heroes is capable of slaying Infernee, the so-called Immortal Dragon,” Fowl replied cautiously.
Isaac raised his arm to ask. “About the mentioned Infernee... between Solaria and it, if they were to fight, which one of them is going to win?”
Sila made a big frown under his mask. In his mind, Solaria couldn’t hold a candle to Infernee at all. They were not in the same class.
Unbeknownst to him, information about dragons was quite exclusive. Only a handful of people knew about the Dragon Empress, who spent all her time in the Dragon Kingdom. On the other hand, Solaria was more well-known since it had a definite spawning spot.
Fowl explained to Isaac, “You have already learned about energy cancelation using magic power from me, right? To put it simply, if Solaria converted all of its magic power into an attack, Infernee would possess enough magic power to completely cancel out that attack at least ten times. Well, Solaria is better at delivering damage than Infernee, who excels at supporting spells, so I can’t say who will win between the two. However, Infernee won’t die. That’s for sure. Not by direct attacks.”
One of the portals on the Skills Training Ground glowed. Midnight walked out from it. Everyone suddenly became silent as they kept staring at the man’s forehead.
Varee, in particular, was curious why people in the room were that interested in Midnight’s forehead.
“It’s 100 already!” Alpha exclaimed.
“Amazing! I have been training my hardest, but my score is still at 32.” Isaac pointed at his head.
Varee saw no number whatsoever, so she didn’t understand what they were talking about. She looked up, yet saw nothing on her head.
It was because she was yet to become a member of the Colossia Club. The score was normally visible to every member. Though there was a trivial service to hide the number from others, with some non-trivial cost, of course. Sila and his team could use every service of this place for free, so they had set it that the numbers of their members were only visible to their squad.
“Hi, Leader.” Midnight nodded at Sila.
“I thought I’ve been training very hard myself, but my score is still at 69, far lower than you,” Sila said to the man.
Fowl opened her system window. “You have many difficult skills, so your score progresses slowly. On the contrary, Midnight has always been proficient at using his skills. Now that he focuses on a few magic skills he has, the score goes up fast.”
To keep players’ personal information a secret, Fowl didn’t reveal the fact that Zero’s score regarding qi-type skills had always been the best among all players. What pulled his overall score down were Eroding Nightmare Magical Qi and dark-element spells. Thus, it took him only a short time to polish the score of his qi-type skills to 100. The magical qi required more time, but doable. As for the magic skills, his mastery was originally even worse than Sila’s. Still, while he had many low-tier spells, they were easy to practice. He kept gradually mastering one spell after another. About mid-tier and high-tier spells, it was fortunate that he had learned less than ten of such spells. Zero ultimately decided not to learn more spells, just practicing what he already had.
While Sila was busy with the Sword-Crowning Ceremony, Zero had managed to master all of his skills.
Fowl took out an item from her system window and gave it to Zero.
“Congratulations. You’re eligible to acquire the Monster Stamp from me.”
Zero took the stamp. Checking it out, Sila felt the stamp looked similar to the one Altia gave to Lomyok. The material for making them seemed different though. Altia’s stamp was gold while Fowl’s was bronze. The engraved pictures on the stamps were different as well. Altia’s was a nine-pointed star while Fowl’s was the vial with a skull symbol.
“As long as you have this Monster Stamp in your possession, you can travel between the New World and the Decagate World at any destined location. Be warned that only you, the stamp’s rightful owner, can use it. One of the locations is this place. Try activating it.”
Just thinking about using it, a bronze gate emerged in front of Zero. Sila found the gate familiar yet again. It reminded him of Altia’s gate, though it was gold back then.
“Are they different?” Sila asked unintentionally. “The golden gate can be used to directly go to the Monster Realm. It also poses some limitations on the player, like they have to visit the Hall of Omniscience first.”
Fowl understood what Sila meant. “You must have seen Altia’s gate. I heard he has given Monster Stamps to a couple of players. You are not one of them though.”
“I happened to witness the incident. My acquaintance got the golden stamp.”
“Mn. Actually, the ten gates of the Decagate World are divided into four tiers. Mine is among the beginner-tier. The lesser three gates have easy conditions to fulfill, mostly required dedication and time. They can be used to travel between the New World and the Decagate World. The middle-tier refers to the three middle gates with harder conditions, requiring some luck. You can travel between the Decagate World and the Monster Realm with them. What you have seen is among the high-tier. The three final gates have difficult conditions, requiring both strength and luck. They can be used to open a portal between the New World and the Monster Realm. Finally, the tenth gate is white, the very special one—required luck, skills, and timing, all of them. With its stamp, you can freely open a portal between any three worlds regardless of place and time. You may do it even if you are not at the destined location.”
Information about the Decagate World was still new to most players, so only Sila and Zero were paying attention. Considering that Zero was the first player getting her stamp, Fowl planned to provide the man special privileges as she had the right to do so.
“It will be the realm of personal secrets from here on out. Midnight and Nero, I want to talk to the two of you in private.”
It was a common manner among gamers that they shouldn’t probe in-game personal secrets, so the rest of the players moved away. Meanwhile, Fowl pulled Zero and Sila into one of the training portals.
“You are the first player to get my stamp, so I will bestow upon you a special reward. It will be helpful to you in the future.”
Sila lightly scratched his head, confused. “If that is the case, why do you bring me here?”
“It’s because what I want to give him is with you. Take your Royal Record out.”
Fowl was a psychic-type expert. It seemed she knew he possessed the Royal Record from her skills. Still, the Royal Record—also went by the name Slime Record—was an item that belonged to him. He didn’t know it could be useful to Zero, though he took it out nevertheless.
The Slime Record was a thick brown book with golden edges. The cover showed the picture of two identical slimes with their cheeks sticking to each other. Sila got it from the Sacred Temple at the time he raided the Dragon Kingdom to proceed with his racial master quest.
Fowl held Sila’s Slime Record with her left hand. She opened her right palm and imbued it with her psychic power. Then, another identical book appeared on her previously empty right palm. It was an item-copying skill that Sila had witnessed Mamon use before, so he knew this skill had a limitation that it couldn’t be used on the same item.
She returned the Slime Record back to Sila. “Thank you. The Royal Record is very rare. Even I don’t have a single one of them. Now, each of you has one.”
Fowl handed the book to Zero. The book’s cover soon changed into the picture of a black horse running on clouds. The body of the horse was semi-transparent as if it was a soul. It seemed the cover would change according to the race of the holder.
“I got an additional racial ability,” Zero said aloud once he got his hand on it.
Fowl opened her system window and checked some contents.
“For you, Sila, I don’t want to owe you. Since you don’t know how to properly use the Royal Record, I will tell you about it in return for letting me give one to Zero. Deal?”
Sila was fine with it. Actually, he found it strange that Fowl only asked his opinion after she had given the book to Zero. “Sure, I have no problems.”
“Do you remember the white gate that I have mentioned—the tenth gate?” Fowl asked. “This information is actually confidential. Fortunately, both of you have some clues such as the Royal Record on you, so I am allowed to tell you about it.
“Each of us, the Ten Heroes, has invented at least one very unique art. Some are related to weapons while some are about skills. As for the tenth gate, it is the Art of Adventures—about the traveling abilities—invented by Nautilus, the Adventurer’s Descendant.”
This hero’s name reminded Sila of the brand selling canned tuna in Thailand. He thought it was such an uncool name.
“Nautilus’s power doesn’t focus on combat but surviving abilities. He created ‘Royal Records’ and left them in various places, letting them wait for adventurers to come across. Each record contains a different ceremony, to which the holder will get a special benefit once they complete it and have the record in their possession. The ones in your hands are ‘Ceremony No.17: Caravan of A Hundred Monsters.’ With it, you will obtain special racial abilities according to your race.”
Sila and Zero opened their books, yet they couldn’t find any details that Fowl had told them.
“That’s why I told you that you didn’t know how to properly use the Royal Record. It is not an ordinary item as it appears to be. Zero, take out the Monster Stamp that you just got from me.”
Zero took out the stamp. As soon as it was outside his system window, the Royal Record in his hand floated up, flipping itself to the middle of the book. His Monster Stamp disintegrated, turning to numerous letters. They flew toward the opened empty pages. Illustrations and sentences were engraved on the pages. The biggest illustration was the wide-open gate with the triangle-shaped bottle inside it. On the bottle was the picture of the golden skull, representing that the bottle might contain poison.
The sentences floated up from the pages. Zero read them aloud.
“...Hello, Player Zero. Now that this book is in your hand, it means you are about to take a step toward a great adventure. I do hope that my record will be more or less helpful to you. I wish you good fortune... From Nautilus, the Adventurer’s Descendant.”
The inside of the book displayed Zero’s real identity. In a sense, it functioned like a system window. His book contained ten chapters, most of them were empty pages.
The first chapter, with the poison vial symbol, was available. The sentence: ‘Art of Alchemy’ was written below it. In this particular chapter, there existed a detailed skill tree, showing a hierarchical visual representation of skills, including each skill’s description and how to learn it, albeit only skills of the beginner level. Most skills would branch out if mastered.
“The Royal Record helps you access information regarding your potential hidden behind each gate. The Decagate World is the world of wisdom. My gate is the Art of Alchemy that focuses on drawing energy from ingredients and mixing powers. It is an important first gate.”
The information about Zero’s additional racial ability was also added into the tenth chapter, ‘Art of Adventures,’ under the 17th Ceremony headline.
“Unlike me, Nautilus is a broad-minded person. If you happen to meet another holder of the Royal Record, you are free to share intel for acquiring different ceremonies. Upon sharing, each of you will get to know how to initiate those ceremonies and have the right to perform them. The tenth gate is unlike the others. The key component is ‘Sequence’. Even if you perform a ceremony correctly, it will be pointless if you do it in the wrong order. That’s why I told you the gate requires luck, skills, and timing. Furthermore, you have to get your hand on the Royal Record. Mind you, the book can be stolen unless you stamped your Monster Stamp on it.”
“So mine can be stolen, isn’t it?” Sila held his book.
“Yes, so long as you don’t stamp at least one Monster Stamp on it,” Fowl replied. “Come to think of it, you possess one though.”
Sila was bewildered. “Eh? I don’t think I do.”
Fowl flicked her hand, sending strange liquid into Sila’s mouth by surprise. He suddenly felt nauseated as if something flared up from his stomach and clogged his throat.
“So you have it but you don’t realize you have one. I guess it’s not that strange. The names of the Ten Heroes are not that well-known in the New World. Even then, your case is quite special since the hero himself has forgotten the fact that he is among the Ten Heroes.”
Sila vomited a golden orb. It was a part of Lucifer’s Essence that he had swallowed before. The orb broke apart and turned into a silver Monster Stamp, engraved with the glowing star with wings.
“This hero is Helel, the Miracle Star, though you probably know him as the Evil God Lucifer,” said Fowl.
The Monster Stamp turned into dust, flying into Sila’s book. The same things happened, including greeting messages from Nautilus. What went differently was that Sila’s first chapter was empty. On the other hand, a silver gate appeared in the sixth chapter. Inside the opened gate was the glowing star with wings. The chapter’s name was ‘Art of Miracle’. Unlike the skill tree of the Art of Alchemy, there aren’t many beginning skills. Instead, there was only one skill, namely ‘Basic Divine Energy’, that branched out to many more skills.
There was a particular skill that stood alone, independent from the rest of the skill hierarchy. Its name was ‘Omniscient Evil God Qi’.
“Detailed descriptions of these skills can only be read in the Royal Record. By the way, Zero, you plan to go to the Decagate World, right?”
“Yes,” Zero replied. “As soon as possible.”
“In that case, I will tell you two things. First, you will normally get Lordship once you reach Lord Rank. However, Lordship can only be obtained in the New World. There is no place that will give you one in the two other worlds.”
Upon listening, Zero nodded. If he reached Lord Rank, he might return to the New World in order to get his Lordship.
“Secondly, through the gate from this Colossia City, you will come out in the place that is like the Decagate World’s Town of Beginnings. That place is quite safe since it is supervised by a certain hero. You don’t have to try finding him though. His personality is a bit eccentric. He will find you himself if he finds you interesting. His gate doesn’t really suit your fighting style either way. I suggest you stay in the town for a while, studying monsters around the place. Relatively speaking, your strength will be like that of a newbie compared to that world’s population. Over there, monsters have a high degree of originality. Their level may be lower or comparable to yours, but not a single one of them has a straightforward combat style. It will take time before you get used to this fact.”
“Thank you, Miss Fowl.”
“While you’re adapting to the world, you should try gathering data. If it’s possible, try searching for a place called ‘Wulin Limbo’. That place is very suitable for you.” Fowl gave out her last suggestion before turning to Sila. “I heard you plan to go to Siaferia City, huh?”
“Ah. Yes. I will probably depart tomorrow morning,” replied Sila.
“Which path do you plan to take?”
“Are there many paths?”
“There are. Mainly, there is a long path that is convenient but takes several days, and a shortcut via the Misty Valley.”
“Oh. I remember it. I’m short on time, so I will probably take the Misty Valley route. Only a single day may be enough to arrive there.” Sila had traveled from Colossia City to Grea City a long time ago. That time he went with Sangdao and Lookhin. They also chose the shortcut through the Misty Valley.
“Members of the spider race lives there. Aramut is the mist race’s good fellowship. If you happen to meet him, help me give this thing to him. He will tell you what to do after that.” Fowl gave Sila an empty vial.
Sila stared at it, but nothing seemed to be inside the vial. Nevertheless, Fowl firmly insisted that he must open the cap only in front of Aramut.
Sila eventually kept it in his system window. Fowl urged them to leave. “We’re done here. You should leave, or your companions will wait too long.”
Zero and Sila left the teleportation circle, returning to the hall. With new destinations in their minds, they said words of farewell to their friends.
The rest of the team felt shocked to know that both Nero and Midnight intended to leave the squad. Their time together might be short, but memorable. Still, the two had made their decisions. As their teammates, they should support the two rather than insist them to stay.
It seemed Nero planned to go to Siaferia City in order to make a name of himself in the war that was about to happen. The other 99th squad members didn’t particularly like the idea. Instead, they wanted to pay the Decagate World a visit. Well, they had to fulfill the conditions Fowl had set first.
Anyway, they planned to follow Midnight to the brand-new world soon. They also urged Sila to follow them.
Similar to human life, friendship may be short-lived but it can be beautiful like a firework. While it exists for only a moment, it can eternally last in people’s memories.
Their paths might branch out separately for now as people went different ways. But who knows? Their paths might cross again in the future, or at least that was what they believed it to be.
[The 17th Ceremony: Caravan of A Hundred Monsters.]
Conditions to complete the ceremony:
1) Participate in the racial master quest from the start to finish and contribute to at least 70% of the quest accomplishment.
2) Read the Royal Record during the quest, though it can be neither before the first half of the quest progression nor after receiving the quest's rewards.
Reward: Grant the holder a racial special ability, which varies by race.
(For the slime race, the special ability is for you to obtain more than three racial skills.)
Sila flipped through his Royal Record. He recalled he was the initiator of the Decolonizing the Slime Kingdom quest. He managed to accomplish this racial master quest—that normally required the cooperation from every player of the race—all by himself, so he unknowingly succeeded the 17th ceremony. Sequence of actions played a major role for the tenth gate. The participant could neither read the Royal Record too soon nor too late. Fowl explained that no one except for Nautilus could accomplish all the ceremonies since some conditions conflicted with one another regarding the sequence.
Normally, Royal Records would inform holders only about the ceremonies’ completing conditions. However, Sila happened to already complete his, so the reward was also shown. It was the same for Zero. His book contained the already completed 17th ceremony since it was a copy from Sila’s.
Each of Nautilus’ ceremonies was like a hidden quest with a high degree of difficulty. It asked more than the results, however, as even the sequence was incredibly important.
This kind of thing didn’t only require luck, timing, and skills like Fowl said it did. Thinking about it deeply, Sila found that the tenth gate required great luck, perfect timing, and extremely outstanding skills.
He would love to perform another ceremony, but he could do nothing about it. He couldn’t start one unless he got his hand on another Royal Record or met someone who had it and got the intel from them.
He flipped pages back to the sixth chapter, Art of Miracle, which he found a little problem with it.
Actually, the problem wasn’t little at all. It was like he found a deep pit before he even took the very first step.
Basic Divine Energy.
Conditions: Generate light-element magic power, regardless of tiers and levels, with your own mana. Hold onto it with both of your palms for an hour in a place devoid of light.
Effect: Basic Divine Energy is a basic skill you must possess in order to learn beginner-level divine spells.
It seemed each skill of the art could be learned even without the Royal Record and the Monster Stamp. Still, having both of them would reveal information such as its effect and how to get it, making acquiring it become much easier. Basic Divine Energy is the lowest-tier skill in the Art of Miracle. As long as one has light-element Magic Arrow and enough mana reserve to maintain the spell for an hour, the skill would be unlocked. Even non-magic types could do it.
Unfortunately, Sila didn’t only lack the important light-element spell, but he was also incapable of casting any spell due to the slime race’s limitations. To make things worse, using items or item skills doesn't count toward success. In fact, he wouldn’t be able to do it even if they did since Isabel always glowed with her semi-infinite mana reserve. Just taking her out would instantly brim the place with light.
Good things about Royal Records are the holder can see the art’s skill tree, each skill’s description, and how to get it. However, that only applies to the skills that they had the right to learn.
Basic Divine Energy is a special skill, necessary for learning other divine spells. Without it, all the other skills that branched out from Basic Divine Energy were greyed out, not showing any information. That left only two skill icons in the bottom of the chapter, which were unrelated to any other skills. In conclusion, Sila currently had only two skills that belonged to the Art of Miracle.
Conditions: Inherit it from the Miracle Star.
Reward: Obtain the Omniscient Evil God Qi skill — Level 0.
Evil God’s Essence.
Conditions: Possess the Miracle Star’s Monster Stamp.
Reward: Obtain the special skill, Evil God’s Essence.
Royal Records and Monster Stamps opened up a chance to let players learn things that the Ten Heroes had left behind, but knowledge was like droplets of water in an ocean. Even considering the Art of Miracle alone, there are either skills that pose limitations on races, or skills that require a specific set of items as sacrifices. It is almost impossible for a single player to learn all the skills.
Realizing that this was the extent the book could do, Sila sighed. At the same time, Varee approached him and sat down. She extended her hand to block the book from his view.
“Don’t just read books. Everyone is preparing a farewell party for you. How about checking them up? It’s quite hectic.”
Sila raised his head from the book. A corner of the Skills Training Ground had been set up into a party. Alpha, Miki, and Isaac were enjoying snacks and boozes while Midnight was boiling some liquid in a large pot. He held his Royal Record in one hand while using another to stir the liquid. Next to him was Fowl, giving him pointers.
“You’re stirring it too fast. Slow down, or the taste will go bad. Oi! Oi! Lower the temperature already.”
Miki was interested. “I never knew you have an alcohol-brewing recipe, Midnight.”
Midnight lowered the temperature. “The recipe seems easy, so I want to try it out. It’s my first time. I don’t know whether it will come out okay.”
Miki pounded her own chest. “No worries. The gourmet master is here. Delicious or not, I will rate it.”
“You clearly just want to drink it...” Isaac muttered, though he quickly shut his mouth as soon as he sensed Miki’s stare.
Alpha shook his head. “Given your personality, it’s a surprise there is a guy falling for you. I really don’t understand Mugun’s taste.”
“Huh? Mugen? You mean the 16th squad leader? Does he really fall for Miss Miki? Is he crazy?” Isaac asked seriously.
Miki waved her hand. “You’re mistaken. That guy is just nice to everyone, so he often invited me for a drink. We’re friends.”
Alpha felt sorry for Mugen. Well, it was true that Mugen was a gentleman who is nice to everyone. That’s exactly why Miki didn’t realize he was especially nice to her.
Sila joined the party. He asked Midnight “Are you already practicing the Art of Alchemy?”
Midnight nodded, his hand still maintaining the same stirring speed and motion. His gaze locked on to the fire under the pot. “Mn. It’s mainly just boiling the ingredients. This Vermillion Dragon Liquor recipe is pretty detailed. I happen to have some dragon bones left in my inventory. I can share the rest of them for you people to try brewing it yourselves if you want.”
Fowl’s gate was among the early ones, focusing on the use of ingredients, so the difficulty level to practice her art was significantly lower than the Art of Miracle, which was from the sixth gate.
In Zero’s book, the first gate alone was classified into many categories. Checking the potion category, he found over a hundred kinds of potions. Among them, he could perform twenty given his mastery. However, after checking his inventory, there was only a single recipe he could follow. It’s the Vermillion Dragon Liquor.
The Vermillion Dragon Liquor was recorded under the potion category. The item had many grades depending on ingredients used in the recipe. Zero selected the lowest grade, so only a few ingredients were required. With Fowl as a mentor, it was unquestionable that he would succeed in brewing even in his first try.
“Extinguish the fire and toss a piece of coal into the pot. Hurry up! You’re too slow!” Fowl pressed on Zero. For her, watching Zero was like watching a kindergarten calculating addition and subtraction. She was restless as Zero’s dull movements were driving her crazy.
Zero was actually properly following the procedures. He was a bit slow since he was doing it while reading the recipe. Fortunately, the Art of Alchemy in the beginner level allows a large margin of error. At the expert level, however, slight mistakes can result in failures.
Fowl was at the pinnacle of this art, so she was easily upset at Zero missing a crucial moment by a few seconds.
Flames ignited on the clear red liquid. Zero poured it into glasses and shared them to everyone. The liquor in the glass had a thin layer of flame coating it. The rest were hesitant to drink their glasses, but Miki unfalteringly drank it all in one shot. Witnessing so, they decided to wait to see her reaction.
“Gasp!” Miki pressed her neck. Blood rushed to her face, making it pink.
“Are you okay?” Isaac asked.
“Fwoooh~” Miki shot fire out of her mouth. She laughed. “The liquor is hot. It can also make me breathe fire. Haha! How fun!”
Knowing that it wasn’t dangerous, Alpha followed Miki’s example. He drank it in one go and breathed out flame. “It’s good. It tastes a lot better than ordinary boozes.”
Fowl opened her system window. “Art of Alchemy is a high-tier set of skills. Even the lowest grade potion is naturally better than ordinary potions. You are comparing a baby dragon with a snake. Hmph!”
“Would you like to try?” Zero handed Fowl a glass.
“Seeing you brewed is enough for me to know its taste. I won’t drink it to ruin my appetite.” Fowl took out a bottle of liquor. “The real deal must be like this!! Hey, you girl, take a sip and compare the taste.”
Fowl poured her version of Vermillion Dragon Liquor into a small drinking cup and gave it to Miki. The latter frowned, complaining, “Stingy.”
“I’m willing to share, yet you’re being greedy? Being gluttonous may kill you. At your level, this much is enough.”
The Vermillion Dragon Liquor glittered in the cup. The floating flame wavered like a dragon swimming in the lake of lava.
Miki drank it all in one shot and exhaled heavily.
“So delicious!! I thought Midnight’s was already very decent, but this is far superior.”
“Make way, make way.” Fowl waved her hand, telling people in the room to move away. “Girl, breath fire to that area.”
Miki took a deep breath and blew flames to the empty area. A blast of vermilion fire shot out from her mouth. It flowed continuously like a river. Even the stone floor was melted. The people withdrew further from the scorching heat. They were agape.
Fowl explained to Zero. “The finished product will reflect the creator’s ability. About the Art of Alchemy, there are many categories, such as potion, that the finished products can be used by anybody, not just the creator. They can be used without spending energy while ignoring both casting and cooldown time. The important thing is preparation. The weakness of the art is that all of the skills have short duration. Even the longest-lasting one lasts about only ten minutes.”
The power of the blast of fire was comparable to a high-tier spell. To think that Miki—who was at Marquis Rank—could unleash this kind of power without spending mana, casting time, and necessary skill. This demonstration made everyone interested in the Art of Alchemy.
Zero inspected his Royal Record and found that the Vermillion Dragon Liquor skill icon turned colorful. From now on, whenever he wanted to brew the liquor of this grade, the recipe would pop up in his head, eliminating the need for him to open the book while brewing it.
There were twenty kinds of beginner-level potions that he could make. With further studying the art, he found that he had to brew at least ten kinds of potions for him to reach the intermediate level. It seemed completing half of the total available recipe was necessary for reaching a higher level.
Come to think of it, all of this was only within the potion category. The Art of Alchemy split into ten categories. Just one art already had so much to learn .He wondered if he would have time to study other arts.
The rest asked to try brewing the same drink. Zero was the only one capable of reading the recipe in his record, so he slowly taught them how to do it.
After they finished making it, they had fun breathing fire to each other. Since they didn’t have Fowl’s Monster Stamp, however, the recipe didn’t record into their brains like Zero. They opted to write the recipe down instead.
“Varee, do you want to try some?” Sila handed the Vermillion Dragon Liquor, made by someone in the group, to Varee.
“Drinking it will make me breathe out fire, right? I think I will pass.” There was no way Varee would embarrass herself by breathing out flame like Miki. The action seemed too wild to her character. Well, she thought this kind of thing would suit Aqua, one of her friends who didn’t care about losing face.
Miki was getting drunk. She chased after Isaac, who was running away, while breathing fire at him. The sight caused the rest to laugh.
“Stoppppp it! It’s hot! Please, anybody, stop Miss Miki!”
Alpha was busy laughing. Instead of putting a stop to Miki, he cheered. “Oi! Miki, your aim sucks! Let’s compete to see who can burn Isaac’s hair first. You think white hair is cool, huh? I will burn it. Hahaha!”
“Uwahhhh! Leader, help meee!”
Sila shouted, “Breathe fire back at them! Don’t give up. This level of flames won’t kill you.”
The Vermillion Dragon Liquor that they made generated power even lower than ordinary fire arrows. Unless the target stayed still and soaked the flames, it wouldn’t burn them.
“Pffft.” The scene made Varee laugh.
“I never saw you laugh before.” Sila turned to her.
“It’s the same for me. You’re childish, but I never saw you play like a child.”
“Well, it’s because I like...”
Varee was getting shy. She muttered, “Me too...”
Sila missed her words. “...staying with these people. They’re funny. I’m fond of this kind of atmosphere. Hmm? Did you say something?”
Varee coughed. “Ahem. I said I also like this kind of atmosphere.”
Sila nodded. The two eventually joined the group’s conversation, spending their time in the 99th squad’s unofficial farewell party. He sometimes took a side glance at Varee and found that her cheeks went red for no reason. He bet she must have sneaky drunk the Vermillion Dragon Liquor at some point.
i have no idea. i am just a reader of this novel. but unfortunately they arent updating anymore. wish i knew the reason why or any other kind of update would be nice