Sila reopened his eyes after circulating Yin Yang Energy for a while. Since Divine Raiment became a part of his power, he was unable to enter the meditation state. Sila was fully aware of every passing moment while his power ran through his body, gradually strengthening his control over it. The more he circulated, the more his senses became keener. Surreal sensations enveloped his whole being. The air embracing his skin, the damp smell of the ground, the ray of light entering his vision, and the soft sound of blades of grass rubbing against each other; all of them were in harmony as if it was music created by nature herself.
It seemed the Slime King and Divine were busy handling their work, or they just didn’t want to bother Sila, as he was left completely alone under the Cliff of Heroes. This place was very peaceful, so it was suited for him to review what he ought to do.
Sila was finally getting used to Yin Yang Energy. In the beginning, he was worried about being able to understand the circulation method. Based on his experience, each qi art, no matter how it closely resembled others, had a unique circulation method. Luckily for him, the flow of Yin Yang Energy was very natural. He could just let it go free and it would automatically circulate. All he needed to do was learn from it. This fortunate event must be due to the help of Profound Qi Circulation Art.
Now, as he had promised Mora, the time for him to invent his own profound art had come. Honestly speaking, he would like to learn the sword art first. Nevertheless, he always placed Mora’s words before his own desires.
Although Mora told him to practice his barehanded art prior to the sword art, he didn’t forbid Sila to read the Heaven’s Decree Sword Art book. As a result, Sila had skimmed through the book once and found that, in his opinion, it shouldn’t be called a manual for learning a sword art. Rather, it explained how to adapt user's inner force using Profound Qi Circulation Art to bring forth eight unique styles of swordplay through five inner organs.
On the very first page, his father even expressed his idea as such: “Heaven’s Decree Sword Art is considered a complete reversal of the usual principle of swordplay. To practice this sword art, the practitioner needs to have an interest in the sword, while at the same time, shouldn’t limit themselves to the traditional way of using a sword. Rather, their idea of swordplay should be flexible. As for me, I needed to spend almost two years to remove my common sense about swordplay that I had ingrained into my body, before being able to practice this art. This was the hardest part of learning Heaven’s Decree Sword Art. Once you overcome this part, it will be quite an easy ride, until you learn the last style: Fate’s Reversal.”
Sila thought he was very fortunate that he had never practiced swordsmanship before, as a result, he didn’t need to spend time removing developed instincts regarding swordsmanship.
However, this was by no means a coincidence, as it was intentionally caused by Mora.
The first thing Mora did after he was entrusted with the Heaven’s Decree Sword Art from Pumin was read it. No, he didn’t want to imitate the art, though even if he did, Pumin wouldn’t mind. Rather, he was very curious about what kind of the art it was the Sword Prodigy traded his life for making it. As a consequence, he found a great contradiction in the art.
The practitioner needed to be interested and immersed in swordsmanship, possess quick wits, and an adaptive mind, while at the same time, be clueless about swordplay, to the point where they lack the instincts of a swordsman.
Obviously, that’s impossible. To immerse oneself in swordsmanship and use it cleverly, years of training were required. On the other hand, as they trained swordsmanship, the instincts would be ingrained into their mind and actions.
The moment Mora finished reading the Heaven’s Decree Sword Art book was the moment he decided to raise Sila to become a disciple who possessed quick wit, adaptive thinking, and keen insight, while at the same time lacking common sense regarding martial arts.
Martial moves were something people inherited from generation to generation. Some disciples even practiced martial moves without knowing why they should use them. They were a result of the teachers’ long years of experience to come up with the most efficient movements. But, it also had the downside of cutting the learning process of the disciples. They would develop a habit and common sense of martial moves, limiting their creativity. Even if they tried to adapt the art in the future, their new moves would still resemble the old ones.
On the contrary, Sila was raised in a unique environment. Despite him being the main disciple, Mora had never taught him any martial moves. Even the monthly tournament that he allowed Sila to participate in was only to let Sila try his own ideas in actual matches. It could be said that Mora had been forcing Sila to come up with his own martial moves rather than learning from ones which already existed. Therefore, it wasn’t strange that Sila reacted faster in crises than your average person; he had been raised that way.
While Sila believed wholeheartedly that he was lucky to encounter an art suitable for him, Mora had been devoting his time and his mind for more than twenty years to prepare Sila for the art. He sometimes needed to be strict, sometimes needed to act cold, and sometimes needed to bear the sight of his main disciple losing match after match. Even though he would more than love to impart his own art to Sila, he decided not to. He thought that Sila deserved to have a chance to practice the art his father had left behind.
Sila picked up a tree branch and listed all the profound arts he knew, which most, if not all of them, came after he started playing Monster Soul.
His list consisted of Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps (Incomplete since I lack the Star Ocean Sword Art), Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws (Incomplete since I didn’t properly learn it), Nine Sun-Melting-Fists (Incomplete since I have yet to learn the art of attacking acupoints), Evening Near the Misty Valley (Not sure if I should call it a profound art), Genesis Punch (Incomplete since its inner force utilization isn’t suitable for me), Divine Raiment (Incomplete since the power consumption is too high and isn’t suitable for my fighting style), Death Bridge (Incomplete and too dangerous, but it’s suitable for my fighting style), Profound Qi Circulation Art (Mastered), Tiger Dragon Qi (Mastered, but its inner force utilization is unsuitable for me), Flaming Cloud Qi (Mastered, but its inner force utilization is unsuitable for me), Dark Psychic Corrosion (Completed, but not proficient), Yin Yang Energy (Mastered?), and Heaven’s Decree Sword Art (Yet to practice, though its concept is interesting, might be useful for giving me an idea).
After he listed the names of all the arts, Sila frowned.
“This is... there are many arts that I am far from mastering. The arts I can confidently claim that I have mastered are only Profound Qi Circulation Art and Yin Yang Energy. Strangely enough, I mastered the arts that I just learned prior to the arts that I have been practicing for a long time.”
Sila had learned so many arts, and many of them were very profound, so he wasn’t sure if he could merge or unite them into his own. Nevertheless, he did his best. He tried performing a variety of movements and using many arts together.
More notes and doodles were added on the ground. Sila immersed himself in practicing and time slowly passed. He was still unaware of the crisis that was occurring outside the Slime Kingdom.
In Zhongsuyuan City, the Victorious Wolves Sect...
“This is bad. This is bad. This is the worst.” Hermit was continuously walking nervously in a circle, to the point that Ratri couldn’t help but be annoyed.
“Oi! Could you please sit down first? Watching you walk in circles is making me dizzy.” She was upset as Hermit had acted like this ever since he read something in his system window earlier.
“Where is the leader at a time like this? He has been training in seclusion for longer than a month. That’s too long! His work is piling up.”
“Lone Wolf always does this though.”
“That’s true. But, this time is not the same; the war event is going to start soon. We still need to start planning, encouraging members, training in groups, and fundraising. There is only one month left, I don’t know how much we can achieve.”
“Even if he was here, he will just come consult you anyway. Can’t you just do as you please?”
“Even though that is the case... he still should have come back to help, but instead he has disappeared completely.”
Ratri was reading the same article that made Hermit anxious, though she couldn’t tell what made him like this.
“I don’t know why you are so restless, Hermit, I still don’t see the problem. The Heavenly Dragon Guild just launched a new product... Mn. Although it’s true that it will be a little problematic if it’s a great item, isn’t it perfectly normal for them to sell new products to raise their fund?”
“True. Usually, our guild makes a living by selling medicines and ingredients, while the Heavenly Dragon Guild sells magic-type gear and magic scrolls. Our product lines differ from theirs, so there aren’t many conflicts between us. (As a side note, in the past, the Royal Armament Guild sold weapons and futuristic items.) However, their product this time is too strange. Have you read the details for it?”
Ratri nodded. “I have. It’s just a ring, isn’t it? Its design is quite bad though; not fashionable at all.”
“Yes, it’s a ring. This ring, to be exact.”
Surprised, Ratri asked, “Wait, you bought it?”
Hermit nodded. “It’s normal procedure; I often send our men to purchase items from other guilds to study them, and this ring is no exception.”
Interested, Ratri picked up the ring. She didn’t have any kind of inspection skill, so she planned to equip it and read its details from her system window.
“Don’t put in on!!” yelled Hermit. It caused Ratri to panic and drop the ring on the ground.
“Oi!! Could you please ask nicely? Don’t shout.”
Hermit picked up the ring and placed it on a table.
“My bad, my bad, but don’t put it on. If you want to know its details, I will just read it out loud.”
Ratri picked the ring up again with curiosity. She was intently gazing at it while playing with it in her hand and listening to Hermit’s explanation. The ring should have been made from a pearl-like material. Its appearance, which was similar to a big pearl, had a hole in the center the size of a finger, and the outer layer was reshaped to make it octagonal.
Hermit didn’t take his eyes off Ratri. He knew her temperament well. She might put it on her despite his warning.
“Cloudy Dragon Ring, grade S. When equipped, the user will obtain twice as much experience and money. Moreover, the user can be promoted to Marquis Rank without experiencing a bottleneck...”
Ratri frowned. “Isn’t its ability too great? Eh? Wait... Did you just say it’s an S-grade item?”
She was genuinely surprised. S-grade items were rare, so it was confusing that these rings could be mass-produced and sold like common accessories.
“Listen to the end first. Though it grants a user the ability to easily reach Marquis Rank, it heavily forbids the user to advance into Lord Rank, except by accomplishing a certain condition.”
Hermit sighed. “Kill a slime-race player.”
“Huh? Isn’t there only one slime-race player out there?”
A familiar voice came from the door to the room, “Sila, right? It’s unexpected that Montra can pull off this kind of trick.”
Both people turned their head simultaneously. “Leader! / Lone Wolf!”
“Hello, you two. Sorry for the long wait.”
Lone Wolf entered the room. His old elegant wuxia clothing was tattered and full of holes, though it couldn’t hide his overbearing aura.
“How long have you been back?”
“Just got back a moment ago, though I’ve been here long enough to hear someone complaining about me neglecting my work,” said Lone Wolf.
Fearing that he would run off again, Ratri approached the man and locked her arm in his. “What about your training? Have you finished?”
Lone Wolf nodded. “I will tell you about it later. Let’s talk about the previous topic first. What do you think about the ring, Hermit?”
With Lone Wolf’s intelligence, he should have already grasped the situation. Despite that, he never stopped others from expressing their opinions. That was his charisma. He was someone who always give others a chance to shine and show off their ability.
Hermit was fully aware of this and expressed his thoughts compliantly.
“Yes, leader. Montra acting this way is equal to him declaring that he finally sees Sila as a threat. Earlier, no matter how Sila expressed his enmity toward Montra, Montra never took him seriously. It implies that, at the very least, Sila has done something recently that has made Montra concerned.”
Hermit’s idea was not far off. Though, in fact, Montra wasn’t worried about Sila more than he was about the Three Elders who might extend a favorable hand to Sila. Therefore, he wanted to quickly and completely crush Sila, so that he would have a hard time recovering.
“There should be something more. This ring is too strange,” said Lone Wolf.
“I know. There is something really strange about this ring,” agreed Hermit.
Ratri was still playfully spinning the ring on the table. “What is it that makes it strange? This ring is so good.”
“You are right, it’s very good. Many players have played this game for years and a lot of them are stuck at Knight Rank. However, this ring will easily make them advance to Marquis Rank. Moreover, there is even a chance for them to reach Lord Rank in the future. As expected of an S-grade item,” said Hermit.
Lone Wolf added, “Yeah, but it’s too good to be true. Isn’t it strange that this kind of S-grade item doesn’t have a drawback?”
Their statements reminded Ratri of this. “I see why you guys said this ring was strange. It has no drawbacks despite it being an S-grade item.”
“I believe it has one. It’s just that we can’t discern it. Worse off, the Heavenly Dragon Guild can produce it in large quantities, and their prices are set at only 300 gold.”
“This price may be expensive for some players, but it isn’t too high. Furthermore, the Heavenly Dragon Guild announced that they plan to give the rings out for free to those who join their guild.”
“It sounds really suspicious,” Ratri agreed.
“In conclusion, with this single move, the Heavenly Dragon Guild will end up raking in money for the upcoming war event, having a great number of players joining their guild, of which the weakest of them would be at Marquis Rank, and players all over Monster Soul will go after their enemy, Sila, without them having to do anything. It’s natural that everyone would like to become the first Lord Rank player. Ahh, what should we do?”
A smile emerged on Lone Wolf’s face. “You’re mostly right, except for one part. You should correct yourself by saying ‘the second’ since the first Lord Rank player is me.”
“Really?” Both Hermit and Ratri exclaimed in surprise.
“Sure, Lord Rank, Level 1,000... By the way, Hermit, the Emperor Qi Pellet cannot promote me to Emperor Rank, you know? It’s a shame on its name.”
“Haha. Leader, no one has ever ascended to that rank, so how could I test it? Maybe there is some special requirement for promoting to Emperor Rank, who knows?” Hermit felt a little disappointed at his own pellet, though he felt more happy about the success of Lone Wolf.
“Lone Wolf, what should we do against this move of the Heavenly Dragon Guild?” asked Ratri.
A flash of determination shone within Lone Wolf’s eyes. “I won’t allow Montra to do whatever he wants. We will join forces with others and form an alliance to fight against his guild. Hermit, please prepare to send invitation letters to everyone.”
“Everyone? If we do that, there might be a spy...”
“Even if we only invite our allies, the Heavenly Dragon Guild will still find one way or another to stealthily infiltrate our meeting. Sending letters to everyone will also tell our enemies that we aren’t afraid of them.”
Hermit and Ratri’s bodies shook with joy. No matter how much time had passed, Lone Wolf’s character was still as honest and straightforward as before. However, what made him different from then was a strong aura that radiated from his body.
Even if they were up against ten Montras, as long as Lone Wolf was still with them, Hermit and Ratri would never fear.
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