Chapter 116: Tiger Dragon Qi
Sila was forcefully woken up after being thrown on the ground. He felt like he was sleeping on a comfortable bed but was abruptly kicked to the hard floor. His body no longer had qi to support him so he easily felt pain.
Holding his head with his hand, Sila looked around and found that this place was a small field that was surrounded by lights from the horns of Single-Horned Dragons. There was a very large wall in front of him.
"Ouuu..." The wall opened and Sila was pushed back by an unseen force of qi. Many dragons came to Sila's aid and pushed Sila's back to stop him from falling over.
Sila stood up properly and looked again. Finally, he found that the real identity of what he thought was a wall was, in fact, Rex's head. It had tried to greet Sila but its suppressed qi still blew Sila away.
"Ah, Rex... I have a favor to ask. The scroll that you gave me has made me incapable of using qi. If you don't mind, can you teach me how to use your qi?"
Sila had no way of knowing if it could understand him. Maybe it could understand simple words but couldn't make head or tail out of difficult matters.
The horn on Rex's forehead flashed once and one of the Single-Horned Dragons came to Sila with a roll of paper in its mouth. Based on the state of the paper, it was very old.
Sila unfolded it and looked inside. On the paper was a handwritten letter.
I have practiced Tiger Dragon Qi for ninety years without any successors. Then, the game creator reached out to me. I imprinted how to use this qi into the world of Monster Soul and hoped that a suitable person would discover it. Rex Dragon is created using my past personality. It will choose a suitable person to practice this qi. Whoever you might be, if you read this message, it means you have been chosen. I won't demand anything from you but my only hope is that this qi art of mine doesn't go extinct. Please use and inherit it.
I came up with Tiger Dragon Qi at age 25 and improved it for 50 years for it to reach perfection. I don't quite understand what Monster Soul is, but the game creator told me that, by practicing it in this game, you will be able to practice it faster in real life. He said that we can use our brain and mind in the game to gain experience and train with our bodies outside. It was regretful that I only found a wonderful place like Monster Soul at the end of my life. If the profound arts that we profound practitioners have trained in for almost a hundred years could be mastered within ten years, what kind of future would await our descendants? What kind of profound arts would our descendants be using? I want to witness that future with my own eyes but I no longer have a chance... Kiryu.
The paper crumbled into dust. Then, the Single-Horned Dragon placed a certain book in front of Sila.
'Tiger Dragon Qi Art' was written on the cover.
Sila opened it and found that the the book contents were hand-written. Within it, there were pictures explaining how to properly circulate qi with descriptions. The method of qi circulation that was explained in the book was different than the qi circulation he normally used.
In Monster Soul, for in-game qi, just thinking of circulation will cause qi to circulate by itself. Not much concentration is needed. However, for personal profound arts, especially qi arts which were related to inner force, the method for circulation was usually very detailed, with a proper explanation for the dantian and each meridian. The revered practitioners had trained these arts through many hardships so being able to use qi just by unfolding the scroll would devalue their effort. As a result, the game creator put as many details as possible into these arts and the learners would have to manually do it themselves. It also counts as a profound arts training program for the learners.
Sila flipped through the book with amazement. Coming up with this kind of profound art is very astonishing. He believed he could empathize with Kiryu's feeling of regret when he realized that his hard-earned results would fade away without a successor. For Kiryu who had dedicated a hundred years to profound arts but was left with nothing in the end, it was just too sad.
Sila promised to himself that he would do his best to master this qi art no matter how many years it would take him. He also planned to pass it on to the future generations.
The light from the horns of the Single-Horned Dragons allowed Sila to be able to read the contents of the book. He read through the book and did his best to remember the contents.
Actually, he would like to circulate his inner force based on the method described in the book. Sadly, he was unable to do it at the moment. It would be great if he had someone to transmit qi to him.
Sila looked at Rex who was still staring back at him.
Although the contents in the book were well-written, he wasn't a genius in reading. Rather, he was the type who would learn faster if he got to do it for real.
At the very least, he would be happy if Rex could demonstrate how to do the things mentioned in the book.
The problem was that the book had detailed explanations of how inner force should flow within one's body, but Rex was a dragon. Sila didn't know how a dragon's meridian system was structured, but he bet that it wouldn't be the same as a human's. So, even if it showed him how to circulate qi, Sila wouldn't be able to learn from it.
If only it had a human form like Sebastian...
"Ah! Lord Rank monster!!" Sila clapped his hands and took the bottle contained four Emperor Qi Pellets out. He placed one of them on his palm and handed it to Rex.
Rex looked at the pellet and sniffed it. It was hesitating when Sila got closer to it with a pellet on his palm.
"You gave me the secret scroll as a token of our friendship. Since it is a token of friendship, I believe that it won't be fair if I am the only one to receive something. So, I would like to give you this Emperor Qi Pellet. Think of it as a token of friendship from me."
Not only was Sila's action unnecessary, it also something he shouldn't do. The symbol of friendship was just the name of the reward that he got from befriending another race. There was no deep meaning like what Sila interpreted.
For a monster to be promoted from Marquis Rank to Lord Rank, it will become much more powerful. Its ability would skyrocket as it can train supportive skills like players. It could be said that there was a distinct gap between the strength of a Marquis Rank monster and a Lord Rank monster.
And now, Sila was about to make Rex cross that gap. From now on, the Single-Horned Dragon Forest, which was a terrifying place to begin with, would be ruled over by Rex at Lord Rank, who would hold the same mighty power within its human-size body. Its weakness that came from its gigantic size would disappear and would be replaced by a human's great agility.
Rex opened its massive mouth and Sila threw the Emperor Qi Pellet into it. Soon, Rex's body shone an orange light, mixing with all of the lights from the horns of all Single-Horned Dragons in the forest and creating a mesmerising image. At that moment, the Single-Horned Dragon Forest was illuminated as if it was a daytime to the point that Sila needed to cover his eyes.
It was his first time witnessing the evolution of a monster from Marquis Rank to Lord Rank.
The light died down and Sila reopened his eyes. In front of him, there was a three-meter tall, lean and muscular man standing. He wore pants made of Single-Horned Dragon's skin. Aside from the green pants with black stripes that he was wearing, a pair of red eyes that were inspecting his own body gave him the overbearing vibe of a dragon. The length of his hair reached his back and there was a small, almost imperceptible horn on his forehead.
"Umm... Hello. Do you understand me?" Sila tried to talk with the man in front of him.
"Rex... call me Rex." A deep, overbearing voice could be heard from the man.
"Oh, you can talk? That was fast."
"I can talk in a human form. My dragon form doesn't have a larynx like a human," replied Rex.
Rex came to Sila and put his palm onto Sila's back. Then, Tiger Dragon Qi was transmitted into Sila's body.
Sila was confused at first but he immediately calmed his mind and took the qi, though he was still unable to circulate it.
"I know your situation. Your flow of qi is gone. Just do your best with the qi I gave you."
Rex took his hand off Sila's back and went to sit on a nearby rock. All Single-Horned Dragons in that place were confused because their king's appearance had changed, though they could still recognize him using their sense of qi.
Sila tried to let his inner force flow but there was no movement. He flipped to one of the pages in the book which explained basic qi circulation and followed its instructions. He tried to force the stoic qi within him to flow from each meridian to another according to the book. Although each of the meridians had a name, Sila was better at letting his body remember rather than his brain, so he slowly followed the sequence described in the pictures.
Soon, he could sense that his qi started to move, though he needed to put all of his focus into letting it flow. Sila wondered whether he would be able to do this when he fought in battles.
Manually controlling the flow of qi for three hours, Sila finally completed a single set of qi circulation all over his body. He felt so glad that he was on the verge of crying. He had never expected that it would take him this long to circulate qi once.
Rex came closer to Sila and said, "Come, fight me."
Sila frowned. "I'm unable to fight..."
Nevertheless, Rex didn't wait for Sila to end his sentence as he charged right at Sila.
Sila circulated his qi out of habit in order to defend, but he couldn't make it in time so he had to barely evade using the footwork of Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps.
Rex stopped his attack as he said, "You will train it faster in actual combat."
Although Sila understood what Rex meant, he was currently unable to use any qi in a fight. Sila tried to recall the skills that he could use at the present and gave Moon Reflecting Mirror a try. Afterward, he found that upon skill activation, pain would run through his body, making him stop using the skill. It seemed that using psychic type skills would stimulate the harmful psychic power within his body.
In the end, the only combat skill that he could use was the skill he was least proficient with, Orbiting Cosmos. Sila tried changing and holding elements many times and found that he could still properly use it. Thus, he relied on this skill for sparring with Rex who was clearly holding back in the matches.
Three days had passed. Sila's daily routine was sleeping, waking up, having a meal, circulating Tiger Dragon Qi, sparring with Rex, debating profound arts with Rex, playing with Single-Horned Dragons, and then practicing qi again before going off to sleep.
For the record, Rex had come to transmit qi into Sila every morning.
As a result, on the fourth morning, his Tiger Dragon Qi finally reached Level 1 and let him use qi again, though that was just a bonus. The true benefit was the experience of fighting without relying on qi, which was something the nameless elder had suggested him to do but he had never done so. His muscles and bones were developed in a way that was suitable for practicing profound arts. His attainment over Orbiting Cosmos also increased. It was this moment that Sila discovered a hidden feature of Orbiting Cosmos.
If he changed his body to become one with fire, his attack power would increase. It would be his defense for earth, his speed for wind, his reflexes for lightning, his recovery rate for water, and there would be a thin layer of aura protecting him if he changed to ice. Sila wouldn't have discovered all of these if he didn't seriously use Orbiting Cosmos in a battle.
In addition, Sila had finally come up with a name for his martial move. After thinking about it for a long time, Sila ended up using 'Weapon Subduing Fist' as its name, the same as his title. He used this name because this move of his focused more on subduing opponents than killing them. Although he still couldn't say with confidence that he had mastered this move, using it against Rex allowed him to have some faith in it.
Currently, Sila had memorised basic qi circulation. However, he would need more time for more complicated circulation methods that could bring out more of Tiger Dragon Qi's power.
Sila closed his eyes and manually circulated qi according to what he remembered. The unseen force of qi pushed Rex to take three steps back.
Tiger Dragon Qi was a qi that was both as hard as steel and as soft as silk, reflecting its name: one dragon and one tiger. Since it shared some characteristics with Formless Soldier, Sila could understand its concept relatively easy.
Formless Soldier was a way to use inner force to manipulate user's body to become harder, lighter, softer, and heavier. Meanwhile, Tiger Dragon Qi was a way to directly change the property of qi to become hard or soft.
For the record, Rex was proficient at using the hard property of Tiger Dragon Qi. It could exert its qi to tangibly hurt the opponents.
Lastly, Rex had imparted onto Sila the Single-Horned Dragon's qi technique. At first, Rex anticipated that Sila would need several months to be able to develop it, but it turned out that Sila already had all the basics for fusing the technique, Unblemished Cool Breeze, which was the combination of Cruise Breeze and Unblemished Aqua.
It was this qi technique that allowed Rex to be able to migrate the damage on its torso to its tail in its fight against Sila. Unblemished Cool Breeze was a qi technique that every Single-Horned Dragon could use. In addition to its recovery ability, each dragon could lend its power to others in distance via a connection of its horn to heal or strengthen its comrades.
Thus, fighting against a single Single-Horned Dragon was comparable to fighting against every Single-Horned Dragon simultaneously. This was the reason why the Single-Horned Dragon Forest was a very dangerous place.
Sila decided to spend one more day there so he could have a serious sparring match with Rex. He read the contents in the book for the last time before closing the book and keeping it in his system window.
Both his hands were slowly clad with qi reinforcement. Rex stared at Sila's placement of feet and unleashed a surge of powerful qi that caused the nearby dragons to take several steps back.
Based on what the book instructed, Sila reversed his qi circulation and the dragon attribute of his qi changed into a tiger. The solidity of his qi changed into softness that dispersed the pressure from Rex.
Both his feet performed irregular movements as he charged at Rex.
Rex had been coping with Sila's Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps for three days and he had got guidance about it from Sila so his understanding toward this art was higher than before. Although he couldn't perform this art like Sila, he could at least read some of Sila's movements and predict where Sila would go.
His right fist was thrown where he believed Sila would appear.
The corner of Sila's lip curled up. It wasn't derision but rather admiration that Rex could read his movements.
Nevertheless, the arts are unchanging while humans are living. Sila halted his last step halfway through the motion and stomped it on the ground. Then, he rotated his ankle together with his torso and struck his left palm at Rex's side.
Rex felt a little shocked that things didn't go according to his prediction, but he didn't panic as he put his qi into his left hand and used it to parry Sila's incoming strike.
The attacks of both parties connected. The impact pushed both of them off balance and they needed to take three steps back. Sila changed his qi circulation from tiger to dragon. His body was also clad with lightning as he rushed back at Rex, stiffening Rex's body.
Meanwhile, Rex had larger qi capacity than Sila so it could rely on its higher amount of qi to forcefully move his arm. His body seemed to enlarge for a brief moment as he used his left hand to block Sila's next attack while strengthening the power in his right fist.
It was a clash of powerful qi. Rex's left hand blocked Sila attack and ended up in a limping state.
Sila was about to throw another attack but was surprised by Rex's qi-strengthened right fist that suddenly flew at him. It was because Rex had covered this fist with his tall body to prevent Sila to notice it.
Putting up his guard in a hurry, Sila crossed his arms over his chest and clad himself with qi reinforcement. The element in his body was changed from lightning to earth. It was the concept of changing element in reverse that he was able to do with ease after the second day of sparring.
Upon being hit, Sila activated Formless Soldier to lessen the damage he took. As he was blown away by the force of the punch, Sila's body flew toward a big tree behind him.
In mid-flight, he rotated his body and softly landed his feet on the trunk before standing perpendicularly on it with pulling power. His eyes shot back at Rex.
Rex put the power of Unblemished Cool Breeze into his limping arm, which was the result of Sila's Weapon Subduing Fist, to heal it. Rex was an expert in healing and strengthening his body using qi and Sila had yet to excel at using his own move, so the limping state could be cured in no time.
"Is this enough?" Sila proposed.
"The result of our first fight is a draw. Let's fight again next time."
Sila nodded then shot himself into the air and activated Cloud Stepping to dash back in the direction of Madmen's Valley.
Rex knew that Sila had to go back to Madmen's Valley so he had used a serious sparring match as a way to say goodbye. He realized that Sila was holding back so Rex was holding back in the previous match as well.
For martial artists, no words nor a banquet are needed. Just a single match is enough to say many things.