Chapter 111: Shueria's Tales
Upon regaining his consciousness after being asleep for three hours, Sila found himself lying on a boulder. In front of him was a small bonfire and the time seemed to be around evening.
Opening his eyes, Sila was shocked to see a five-meter tall white tiger lying on the ground, intently staring at him. He immediately started his qi circulation.
"Don't be afraid. It's my pet."
Facing the direction the sound came from, Sila witnessed a man in silver armor wearing a blindfold. His right arm slightly shook.
"I didn't expect you to have a part of the Sealed One. No wonder you were that strong despite having just started playing."
The man walked to the white tiger and leaned on it. The light from the bonfire caused Sila to have a clear look of this man's face.
"Mister Shueria?" Sila let out a sound of surprise. Shueria was an opponent who Sila had a hard time fighting against so he remembered him well.
"Long time no see, Sila."
It seemed Shueria didn't harbor evil intent toward him so Sila had lowered his guard. Nevertheless, some suspicion still lingered in his heart. The Shueria today seemed like a completely different person compared to the Shueria he had fought against.
"Did you just help me escape?" Sila vaguely recalled that he saw Shueria before he lost consciousness.
"I didn't help you. I just brought you out because I have a request for you."
"Request? What is it?"
Shueria said without a hint of hesitation, "Could you please have a match with me one more time?"
Sila frowned as he didn't expect Shueria to ask for this kind of favor. "Why?"
"I won't make an excuse that I lost to you without showing the best of my ability; a loss is a loss. I just want to have a rematch. There is no ulterior motive. I want to have a fair, official match with you being the competitor."
An official match. This word reminded Sila of Montra, since his last official match was the match he lost against Montra.
Sila was deep in his thoughts. There were many things that concerned him at the moment; about Montra, about his teacher, and about the Wulin Masters Association which he was clueless about.
Shueria could tell that Sila was hesitating so he asked, "Is it a problem?"
Snapping out of his concern, Sila hurriedly explained, "No, that's not it. It just that... it was too long since the last time someone asked me for an official match."
Shueria nodded. "Monster Soul is like that. Not many people tend to challenge others for an official match. Anyway, what is your answer?"
Sila thought about it for some time. "I don't have any reason to decline, but, now is not the best time for me. I still have many problems I need to take care of and I have to go to Madmen's Valley as soon as possible."
"If you still have something on your mind, you won't be able to fight me at your fullest. Let's do it later when you're ready then."
That was Shueria's reply as he didn't want to force Sila to have a match. What he desired was to prove that he could win in a fair match against Sila without having to depend on any external factors.
Since Shueria had played Monster Soul for a long time, Sila thought that it was his chance to ask Shueria about what concerned him.
Kawin and Sangdao seemed to be related to the Wulin Masters Association as they decided to keep it a secret from Sila. Thus, Shueria became the most suitable person that Sila could ask about it.
"Mister Shueria, have you heard about the Wulin Masters Association?" Sila asked, trying his best to not show too much of his curiosity.
Shueria shook his head. "I haven't. Why do you ask? The name sounds majestic and... what should I say? Arrogant?... Wulin Masters, isn't it? Is it the name of a new guild?"
Even Shueria didn't know about it so it was highly likely that it was a matter of the real world. At the very least, Sila was able to narrow down his doubts.
"I don't personally know anything about it as well. I just heard it from others."
Shueria was thinking about something for a while before opening his mouth. "Could it be that... it is related to the recent strange movements of the Heavenly Dragon Guild?"
"What movements?" Sila asked with great interest. The Wulin Masters Association should be related to Montra so it might also be related to the Heavenly Dragon Guild.
"There are three strange rumors that are becoming hot topics in the game forums right now. One of them might relate to the Wulin Masters Association you mentioned."
Shueria could tell that Sila was very interested in what he was saying so he continued.
"The first one is, during these past months, there were many groups of players entering Monster Soul. The time they started shouldn't be that different from you, Sila. The notable thing was, these players were strong and seemed to have practiced martial arts in real life. The reason why this topic became big news was because these groups of people seem to have joined the Heavenly Dragon Guild as the guild was nurturing them to become stronger. It is rumored that they are special units that the Heavenly Dragon Guild had prepared for the upcoming war event. By the way, the sword user who you just fought against is likely to be one of them."
This conversation reminded Sila of Paiyuan. Paiyuan had said that he was the owner of the Heartless Steel Sword dojo. If this dojo existed in real life, it must mean that Montra had done something to successfully invite the people of that caliber to play Monster Soul.
More importantly, based on what Shueria said, Paiyuan was only one of the many mysterious players. That meant there were still more people like him.
"So, if I were to guess, the Wulin Masters Association you mentioned might be referring to these groups of players."
Sila decided to think about it later. "What about the other two rumors?"
"The other two shouldn't be related. They are more like mysteries of Monster Soul. About this, there is a rumor that there is a powerful, peculiar boss monster making an appearance around Skull Mountain Pass located north of Colossia City. It's the place where the bandits always gather, so many players don't care about them. Instead, they are glad that these bandits will be punished and are thankful that the boss monster appeared there. So, it will take some time before players begin to act and gather a team to raid it. Based on the testimony of those who have died, they said that they had met with a grim reaper."
"A grim reaper?"
Honestly, Sila didn't care, and neither did Shueria. Thus, they didn't dig too deeply into this topic.
"It must mean that the monster appeared there has a soul attribute or something like that, I guess. Well, the last bit of hot news is centered around Beginning Town. It seems another powerful monster has made an appearance there. It is speculated that it is a monster of the slime race."
"Oh, you belong to the slime race as well, don't you? Now that I think about it, you might be the cause of this rumor yourself, Sila."
"Yes. After the Colossia City's battle tournament ended, players began to hunt for the Slime Cards. Strangely enough, the drop rate of the Slime Card suddenly became lower than before. Nevertheless, slimes are still weak so they were quickly being hunted down by the flock of players gathered in Beginning Town. However, three days ago, all the slimes suddenly went missing."
"The slimes have gone missing?"
"That's right. In a single night, all slimes around Beginning Town disappeared, without leaving even a single one behind. At the same time, a giant rock with a sentence engraved on it appeared at the west gate of the town. The sentence engraved on it was: Come to the Stone Forest and be prepared for the actual trial - mark 2."
Sila furrowed his brows. Why did this sentence sound so familiar? "And? Is there someone going to the Stone Forest as it stated?"
"There is. Every single day, there will be at least someone going there. But, no one has ever returned alive. Everyone that revived in Beginning Town did one of two things: muttering a curse and declaring that they won't be engaging in the matter about the slime race anymore, or gathering their comrades to prepare for raiding something. So, Beginning Town is currently lively. There are many smart merchants selling the Crystal of Connections that links players residing in Beginning Town to others throughout the Main Continent. We still don't know if this is some kind of a special event or not but it seems many players are trying to engage in this mystery."
"A rock engraved with the mysterious sentence and the missing slime. These two topics might not be related, aren't they?"
Shueria shook his head. "That shouldn't be the case. Because that rock is... Ah! Now that I think about it... It is possible that the rock means..."
"What about the rock?"
Shueria made a smile at the corner of his mouth. "Fufu. I get it. What a cunning pun. I think the sentence on that rock is a message for you, Sila."
"For me? Why do you think so?"
"That rock has an appearance of a slime. Think about it, the rock and the slime..."
Sila gave it a thought before a light bulb lightened in his brain. "The rock and the slime! Rock means Sila. My name is Sila and I am a member of the slime race. So, that message is likely directed at me."T/N: In case you have forgotten, 'Sila' means 'Stone' or 'Rock' in Thai.
"It is likely so. In this case, this matter might be related to another one."
"Is there another topic?"
"The news about this matter has already subsided but it might pose you a problem one day. The thing is, two months ago, there was a successful attempt at summoning Pythia and it caused tremendous damage to many groups of people."
Sila interrupted, "Please wait. What is Pythia?"
"Ah, Pythia is the Wind Dragon. It is one of the elemental dragons that have a relatively easy condition to summon. All you have to do is destroy all fourteen Pillars of Wind scattered throughout the Main Continent.
"The problem is, Pythia's Dragon Domain has a very wide area of effect, covering almost half of the entire Main Continent. Players had an agreement to not summon it.
"As for those fourteen Pillars of Wind, some were located in deserted areas while some were located in cities. There were some that even had a group of players taking turns protecting them.
"Nevertheless, two months ago, the Pillars of Wind were being destroyed one by one at a steady pace. It is believed that there was only one perpetrator. The witnesses at the site testified that they could only catch a glimpse of the perpetrator before dying. It is worth noting that every time a Pillar of Wind was destroyed, the perpetrator would leave behind a small rock shaped like a slime. Those rocks seemed ordinary at first glance but there appears to be a special kind of magic power imbued in them so people couldn't break them."
"How will it pose me a problem?" Listening to Shueria's narrative, Sila could guess who the perpetrator was.
"The thing is, at that time, people still weren't aware that you are a member of the slime race, so they didn't know the meaning behind those rocks. However, if someone were to link them to you, it is possible that they might try to hunt you down."
Sila scratched his head. "I already have so many enemies anyway. It shouldn't matter if there are more."
Shueria shook his head. "It's much more complicated than you think. Those who have died belong to many factions; the large guilds, the small guilds, the guildless players. One of the Pillars of Wind was located in the middle of the base of the Merchant Association. You should take note that once a Pillar of Wind is taken down, the area around it is also destroyed. In conclusion, the destruction of that Pillar has caused a severely negative change in Monster Soul's economic. The prices of many items inflated and people are condemning the perpetrator. Imagine what would happen if someone suddenly told them you were the culprit."
Sila was agape. "But, I'm not the one who destroyed it."
"In a situation where the perpetrator can't be determined, just being a suspect is enough for the mass to direct their hatred at you."
Old issues were still unfinished yet new ones kept coming. Sila was having a headache. It would be too much for him to end up becoming the recipient of the hatred of all players in Monster Soul.
Shueria's system window started blinking. Shueria removed his blindfold and took a look at the message before closing the screen.
"I have to go now. Let me add you to my contact list."
Finding no point in pressuring himself over a matter that had already happened, Sila dismissed what he had heard from Shueria. It should be more fruitful for him to focus on one task at a time, starting by going to Madmen's Valley. Then, he would return to Grea City and afterward revisit Beginning Town.
Once they had added each other name's into their contacts lists, Shueria tossed a card for Sila to catch.
Looking at the card, Sila found that it was a card with the picture of a white tiger standing on the clouds printed on it.
(A) Cloudy Tiger Card
"Sila, you plan to go to Madmen's Valley, don't you? In that case, that card will be helpful for you. Think of it as my thanks for accepting my challenge for an official match."
Sila hurriedly handed the card back. "You don't have to. I can't take it."
"Even if I keep it to myself, I won't be able to use it. The Heart of the Sealed One prevents me from equipping cards. It is just a useless item in my possession so you better take it. I guarantee that you will find it helpful when you arrive at the Single-Horned Dragon Forest."
Hearing that from Shueria, Sila just realized that Shueria had the Heart of the Sealed One. Thinking about it, his Right Arm prevented him from equipping a main weapon as well. It seemed each of the parts of the Sealed One had different restrictions attached.
Without waiting for Sila to reply, Shueria sealed the Cloudy Tiger into his bracelet before soaring away at high speed.
Sila was confused, looking in the direction Shueria had flown in. "Qi? That's strange. I remember Mister Shueria being a psychic type."
Silence filled the forest. Before going to Madmen's Valley, Sila decided to take a rest to regenerate his power. While resting, he took out the Clouding Tiger Card to read its description and equipped it into his system window once he was satisfied with the description.
Since Sila had spent all of his power and had engaged in an intense battle, his body needed to adjust itself to balance it with his qi. As a result, when Sila opened his eyes again, it was already four in the morning of the next day.