There was a spacious forest with wide gaps between leafless trees. It was difficult to tell whether they were trees locked within ice or just tree-shaped ice sculptures. The wind was blowing gently, dropping snow on the travelers’ clothing. It took Sila and his group two days to reach this place after leaving Grea City. According to Bluebird, they were three quarters of the way to their final destination. It was thanks to the Fairy Kingdom that they could make such exceptional progress.
Sila looked ahead blankly. His feet continued to move without him paying attention to the way he was walking. He sneakily summoned Moon Reflecting Mirror on his palm. He was conversing with Dark Self in secret.
“What kind of person do you think Montra is? Is he a good guy or a bad one?”
“What do you think yourself? Good or bad?” Dark Self asked back.
“Why do you like to answer my questions with another question?”
“You are doing the same—asking me a question instead of answering mine. Kukuku.”
Listening to Dark Self, Sila frowned. He was seeking an answer and not in the mood to play around. In any case, Dark Self was aware of Sila’s thoughts. He sighed once and gave Sila a serious look.
“I have an answer, but I doubt you’ll like it. You’re biased and already have your own answer. You only want me to support your beliefs. In any case, my answer is Montra is just an average person. Rather, he leans toward the good-guy side.”
Sila furrowed his brows. It was his first time hearing someone saying Montra was an average person. Surprisingly, that someone was Dark Self, or rather himself.
“Montra is a good guy? Do you think so because of Lomyok’s story? I’m sure he must be planning something. Maybe he planned to exploit Lomyok in the future.”
“See? I told you wouldn’t like my answer. Since you so strongly believe your opinion, why did you bother asking for mine?”
Hearing Dark Self’s reply, Sila calmed himself down. “I’m sorry... Can you explain?”
Dark Self nodded. “We’ve been set up to be his enemy since the very beginning, so it wasn’t weird for Montra to show us hostility the way he did. If it were me, as long as the opposing person is my enemy, regardless of the kind of person he is, I won’t hesitate to eliminate him, just like Montra. However, what about unrelated people? For example, Lomyok, who Montra met accidentally. If it were you who stumbled on a stranger who was holding something very important to you, would you take violent action and snatch it from him?”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“Yes, I know. Montra was the same. Moreover, instead of acquiring the Hell Jade for free, he did a favor in return. That’s why I said he leans toward the good-guy side. For the kind of person Montra is, he is merciless against his enemies. However, against his comrades, he won’t complain even if he is betrayed and stabbed in the back. He is the type to repay favours and avenge grievances. We are his enemies, so we see only his merciless side.”
“...Is that so?”
“I’m never prejudiced. I look at things from many angles. Regardless, it isn’t important whether my opponent is a saint or a devil. As long as they obstruct my path, I will destroy them all the same.”
Dark Self was Sila’s inner thoughts. He had no bias, so he could look deeper at things compared to Sila. However, at the same time, the way he didn’t care whether his opponents were good guys or villains meant he lacked morality.
Humans naturally have times when they want to do bad things. However, not all humans turn out to be criminals. There is a line separating those who do and those who don’t commit a crime. That line is called a conscience.
What stops us when we are about to commit a crime is the voice of conscience which reminds us of what is right and wrong, and prevents us from performing bad deeds.
Such a conscience is born from learning, experience, and discipline. It is also born from socialization.
Socialization was, in fact, another form of bias. Dark Self was devoid of it, so his point of view was broad and profound. Yet, at the same time, he didn’t fully understand the concept of ethics.
In any case, he was merely one half of Sila.
Sila fell into thought. If he followed Dark Self’s line of thinking, many suspicious things in his mind would be cleared up. For example, how could a seemingly good person like Kawin became Montra’s friend, and how some people said Montra was evil while others hailed him to the point Sila found it unbearable.
“What about Kimon?” Sila asked shortly.
“They are surely related to the Wulin Masters Association. Montra wouldn’t drive his guildmates away otherwise,” replied Dark Self. The matter regarding the Wulin Masters Association was a secret to outsiders, so he could infer this much based off Montra’s actions.
“Are they our friends or foes?” Sila asked again. In fact, he had his own answer. Still, he wanted a different opinion from Dark Self.
“Both,” replied Dark Self. It was the same answer Sila had in his mind. This meant their existences were slowly merging without them noticing. Sila started to think like Dark Self while Dark Self started to become like Sila.
Both friends and foes. This was the type of relationship Sila currently assigned to Kimon, or rather Hell’s Gate. Even though they acted like they were siding with him and clearly showed hostility toward Montra, Sila had never heard of them yet Kimon seemed to know him very well. It implied that they investigated him, which could mean they intend to exploit him somehow.
In short, until he knew what Kimon and their objectives were... he shouldn’t trust Kimon.
“Both Montra and Kimon have yet to realize that we accidentally know about their encounter. We can make use of this fact,” Dark Self proposed.
“Do you think the Three Elders know about them?” asked Sila.
Dark Self raised his brow and looked back at Sila as if asking him, ‘Do you seriously need me to answer that?’
“You’re right... If Montra knows about them, there is no way the Elders don’t. The problem is... how can we learn what they are?”
“If we seek the truth, the shortest way is to ask Teacher. Teacher Mora is the only person who won’t lie to us. At worst, he simply won’t explain.”
“I will have to find a way to contact him, then,” Sila replied to himself and deactivated Moon Reflecting Mirror. He opened his system window. Although he didn’t have his teacher’s contact information, he remembered Mora once sent him a message from the outside world. He could simply use the reply function to send a message back to his teacher.
Sila searched his inbox and eventually found Mora’s message among the rest of the letters which he had never deleted. Sila wrote a message expressing his desire to meet Mora and hit the reply button.
It had been a while since Sila last met his teacher. If he included the time he spent in the Desert of Death, he had gone longer without seeing him than during the period of time when he thought Mora was missing.
‘The time in the game flows five times faster than outside. I will have to wait for a while before getting in touch with Teacher.’
Sila smiled happily as one of the problems was going to be solved. To be honest, his life in Monster Soul was stressful as it was filled with battles. Knowing he would meet his respected teacher soon helped his mind relax.
Meanwhile, Bluebird, like others, was silently observing Sila’s suspicious actions through side glances.
“What’s up with him? He just made a serious face a moment ago but now he is smiling alone,” Bluebird whispered to Burapha.
“You should ask him directly, Big Brother Blue. Don’t interrupt my training,” replied Burapha. He was concentrating on his training regarding controlling his psychic power, so he was slightly annoyed by Bluebird nagging him.
Suddenly, the uninvited Lomyok walked in between the two. “I believe I know what Sila was stressing about.”
Lomyok tucked his fan into his belt and nodded. “Of course. I used to be the same.”
“You? Have you ever stressed?” asked Bluebird. He tried to imagine Lomyok in serious mode but his imagination couldn’t produce such a result.
“Occasionally, yes. Did you notice that Sila was hiding a mirror in his hand until just now?”
“I did see he was holding something shiny. It may or may not have been a mirror.”
“It was a mirror, I assure you. Sila must have been worried that thinking too hard probably negatively affected his beauty, so he checked his face using his mirror. Then, seeing that there were no visible wrinkles, he felt relieved and smiled delightfully.” Lomyok was absolutely sure in his deduction.
Burapha could finally maintain his psychic power. “I don’t think that was the case. I saw Big Brother Sila muttering something to himself as well.”
“He was obviously encouraging himself through the mirror. It’s one of the techniques to boost your own confidence. I told you I used to do that a lot. Just take a look.”
Lomyok took out a mirror from his system window without minding Burapha and Bluebird’s reactions.
“Mirror, mirror, on my hand, who’s the fairest of them all? ...Aha!! What did you just say? Did you say the Deity Lomyok? Haha. That’s of course. Who else can it be?”
Bluebird was fed up. “How can a person become this shameless and narcissistic?”
“Oh, I truly want you to see your own face when you were retelling ‘Legends of the Sky Emperor’. It made me embarrassed to be your acquaintance... Yeah, I also wonder how a person can become this shameless and narcissistic.” Burapha clicked his tongue as he reprimanded Bluebird using his own words.
“I’m not narcissistic,” Bluebird argued.
“Yeah, yeah, Mister Selfless. Please don’t disturb my training, will you? I need to maintain my focus. I want to be skilled at this before we reach Belacia City.”
“I am not disturbing you... By the way, do you really not intend to ride the Snow Bison? That sucks. You even managed to borrow it. Hahaha!”
Burapha was annoyed. He furrowed his brows. “I think I better walk with Mister Asura. Maybe he will teach me some psychic-type techniques.”
Burapha didn’t wait for Bluebird’s response as he hurriedly walked up to Asura.
The Winter Forest was quieter than everyone expected. There was neither trouble nor crisis as Mamon predicted. Mamon was still very positive about his prediction though. He was always grinning as he swept his gaze, trying to find some enjoyment.
Finally, heaven seemed to respond to Mamon’s prediction. Sebastian, who was leading, stopped his feet, and the whole crew also came to a stop.
“We are surrounded...” Sebastian announced curtly.
Hundreds of transparent blue silhouettes floated out from the trees, rocks, and slopes. They all shared the same appearance, which was that of a young girl with vacant eyes. They were classified as a type of fairy. Sila even had a chance to encounter them before when he fought the Snow Dragon Dorolia. They were snow fairies.
The Winter Forest was the habitat of the Snow Dragon Dorolia, who lived peacefully with snow fairies. Naturally, those who wanted to slay Dorolia had to fight the snow fairies as they were allies. Nevertheless, some players could avoid the conflict with the snow fairies by cleverly becoming a member of the fairy race like Ginny. She could fight Dorolia in a one-on-one battle that way.
“Alas, you made me panic for nothing. These snow fairies aren’t aggressive monsters. We can simply walk past them.” Bluebird shrugged. Although he had never seen a large group of snow fairies before, he was still confident. It was obvious that he was. He had been to the Winter Forest twice.
Unfortunately, the cold wind that could freeze even souls told him otherwise. Bluebird jumped back in the last instant before the wind the snow fairies blew froze him into a statue.
“Oi! What are they doing?”
“Anguish... anguish... We resent you...” A voice of anguish from each snow fairy resounded. They echoed and struck everyone’s hearts. The sound was lonely, depressing, and profound.
The temperature dropped sharply. The distance between each tree became blurred, so far yet so close. The energy reinforcement covering everyone's body started to malfunction. The group prepared for battle as they increased their energy output. Only Mamon remained unfazed as though the cold didn’t affect him while Franz ate one Purgatory Pellet to produce heat from within her body.
Sebastian looked around. “Mn... This is such a high-level spell. It is one of the Ancient Magics.”
Bluebird grinned. “If they are the result of a spell, I will take care of them. I will send them all to their birthplace.”
Sebastian smirked. He looked at Bluebird with a gentle gaze as if looking at a child who knew nothing. “Don’t waste your time, sir. I have seen your skill. An Ancient Magic is far more profound and complicated than elemental magic or even secret magic you can find throughout the world. The one in front of us is one such Ancient Magic. It is a maze-type spell named Ice Labyrinth of Resentful Spirits. I speculate that the spell must have been cast and installed here long, long ago. It seemed to activate only when certain conditions were met. Its source of energy must be these hundreds of snow fairies. Not only is it forbidding us from going outside, but the temperature will also continue to drop. I don’t think we can hope to survive unless we break the spell from the outside.”
“Anguish... anguish... We resent you who bathed in the blood of dragons—our dear allies...”
“You who bathed in the blood of dragons...? Damn, Sila, you brought us more trouble again,” Bluebird complained. Indeed, he was aware that the fairy race and the dragon race were on good terms. However, he had never heard of instances when the fairies took offensive actions for the sake of avenging dragons, not to mention creating a domain to trap them inside like this.
Burapha argued, “We both once killed a dragon too. Did you forget, Big Brother? Maybe the spell activated because of all of us.”
Sebastian nodded. “That is possible, sir. The spell shouldn’t be this strong in normal circumstances. Is there anyone here who has never slain a dragon?”
Franz, Asura, and Sebastian had all lived for a long time, so obviously they had killed dragons a few times. Bluebird and Burapha once helped Sila kill the Water Dragon Leviathan, and Sila’s history of dragonslaying clearly made him qualified for the condition. In the end, every gaze fell on Lomyok.
“Does killing Wyverns count?” Lomyok replied nonchalantly.
“It might, sir. I am not sure about it myself. Well, in short, everyone in this group has killed dragons before. That must be the reason the spell activated. What a coincidence,” said Sebastian.
Nevertheless, Burapha and Bluebird’s gazes alternated between Sila and Lomyok as they thought, ‘Is it truly a coincidence?’
Sila felt something was out of place. He couldn’t sense Mamon. He turned back and found that Mamon had really disappeared, though he didn’t know when.
“Where is Mamon?” asked Sila. Everyone started to look for him, but they couldn’t find Mamon even though he was there just a few seconds ago.
“Don’t tell me he got lost in the maze,” said Bluebird.
“I personally think he will be fine. We should be more worried about ourselves, sir.” Not only Sebastian, but Sila also believed that Mamon would be fine by himself. He may have even escaped from the maze already.
Who knows? He might even be laughing as he looked down and mocked them from the outside as they spoke.
Please go to https://www.novelupdates.cc/Monster-Soul-Online/
to read the latest chapters for free