Chapter 119: A Monster in a Full Moon Night - First Part
There were only thirty minutes until midnight. Crow was waiting for Sila at the entrance of the Cave of Immortals. This place was called this way based on its legend that, if someone goes inside the cave and is able to come back, that person would take a step out of the mortal realm and experience a rebirth.
Anyway, for Crow, the Cave of Immortals was only a place to perform the quest named Monster's Soul. The lousy phrase of 'experiencing a rebirth' was just a pretense of the phrase 'becoming stronger'.
The first person who followed the route and arrived wasn't Sila but Sanon. He had exited the valley a day ago and came back at the appointed time he had with Sila.
"Has Sila already entered?" Sanon asked Crow.
"He hasn't come yet. Maybe he is immersed in practice."
Sanon nodded and walked to stand next to Crow.
"Well, we should wait for a little longer before calling him over."
Both of them agreed so they silently waited for Sila at the entrance of the cave.
Ten minutes later, Sila gradually and calmly walked along the route. He seemed to be too calm to the point that Crow had to urge him to hurry up.
"Kiddo, hurry up. If you miss this chance, you will have to wait for another month."
Sila walked slowly but mysteriously fast. He narrowed the distance and arrived in front of both people in the blink of an eye without speeding up.
Crow wasn't particularly interested but Sanon was quite surprised.
'He used stepping techniques of Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps but his understanding of the word 'Slow' of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws seems to be decent. Could it be that he actually learned it within two days?' Sanon thought while looking at Sila.
During these two days, Sila had been familiarizing himself with slow movements of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws so he might seem to do everything slower than usual.
"Sorry for making you wait, sirs."
"Enough with the chitchat. The time is ticking," Crow said, "Remember this. Once you enter the cave, the entrance will be closed off until you succeed the quest or die. Inside, there will be a small pond. You have to dip your hand into the pond to initiate the quest. You can start it anytime, but only within an hour after midnight, you clear?"
"Thank you, Mister Crow."
Sila put his palms together to give Crow his respect before handing a book to Sanon.
"There it is, as promised. Please don't worry, sir. I didn't make a copy of it, even a little."
"Actually, you don't need to return it to me, Sila. If you think you still haven't learned it enough, I'm willing to let you borrow it for a longer time."
"I have learned it enough, sir," Sila said indifferently.
"It isn't an art that you can master within two days, Sila."
"I'm aware, sir. What about Teacher Mora?"
"I have already contacted him. Don't worry. I will keep my promise."
Sila nodded as he said, "I know."
It was when he took two steps forward and was about to go inside the cave that Sanon said something to him.
"Sila, you have read it for two days and didn't receive any guidance from me, so it doesn't count as me teaching you. You don't need to call me your teacher."
Sila's expression didn't change as he heard that. He firmly stepped forward until his body was completely engulfed by the shadow of the cave. It was the time that Crow started a conversation with Sanon.
"How about it? Do you think Sila will pass?"
"I don't know. I'm more doubtful about Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws. There is no way Sila could master it within two days. Even Montra can't do that."
"Well, I don't care about you guys' matters and I won't. You too. You are old already so you should stop meddling with the kids and leave them alone."
"About this matter, I really can't leave them alone. It is related to the glory or the deterioration of the Wulin Masters Association."
"I don't know the whole thing, but, in conclusion, you mean that kid Montra will make the Wulin Masters Association decline, is that right?"
Sanon gently smiled. "It is a reverse. It is Montra who will make the Wulin Masters Association flourish."
"Eh? In that case, why do you have to get involved?"
"It is more complicated than that. All in all, you could say that we all have no choice but to butt in. By the way, didn't you have to tell Sila about the quest?" Sanon changed the subject.
"Ah, I forgot. Well, it doesn't matter. Whether I told him or not, the content of the quest will be the same." Crow shrugged.
"For this quest, usually, how long does it take for it to finish?"
"It depends. It might take a week or just a few minutes. It's up to the kid Sila."
Then, the stone in front of the entrance of the cave moved on its own and blocked off the entrance. Crow and Sanon left the place and continued their conversation.
Sila walked along the narrow entrance. The ground was flat and there were illuminating stones decorated on each side of the cave's walls. It took him ten minutes to arrive at the spacious area with the size of a soccer field.
He took a look above and found that he could see the clear sky with a full moon being presented. In the middle of the area, there was a five-meter radius pond reflecting the full moon on its clear surface.
There were some sounds behind Sila. Looking back, he found that the entrance of the cave had been closed off. That should mean he had less than an hour to start the quest.
"Monster's Soul, is it?"
The name of the quest was synonymous with the name of the game. Sila didn't know whether it was a coincidence.
He wasn't in a rush to initiate the quest. From his experiences, things always went wrong when he was being hurried. In addition, he just learned from Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws about being calm. Took Kawin, for example, although he was mad when Sila badmouthed Montra, he could calm his mind once the battle started.
During these last two days, the level of his Tiger Dragon Qi had increased to 35. It seemed focusing on a single attribute caused it to level up faster.
Sila spent some time studying Tiger's Palm, one of the offensive moves using Tiger Dragon Qi, but was unable to achieve anything. The time was too short.
As for Shapeless Qi, it's level reached 35 as well. He, therefore, concluded that its level would always be the same as Tiger Dragon Qi's. The meaning of parasitic state that the system had mentioned must be referring to this fact.
He could finally control Shapeless Qi at will now. It must be because its level had increased. The prominent points of it were being hard-to-detect and the strengthening ability.
Aside from using it to strengthen Tiger Dragon Qi, Sila still couldn't see its other benefits.
As for Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, Sila had developed very little mastery regarding it. Although he believed he understood its techniques, just relying on image training wouldn't be enough. He still couldn't determine how much he could utilize it in actual combat.
He had too many arts and skills to master. The nameless elder had once warned him about this so Sila had been trying his best to fuse his qi techniques. Nevertheless, he was gradually getting new arts so this problem remained unsolved.
There were two arts that the he currently had obvious mastery over. The first was Evening Near Misty Valley, which always reminded him of Sangdao whenever he thought about it, and Weapon Subduing Fist which Sila had polished further by relying on the six techniques of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws.
The secret trump cards that Sila had with him right now would be Tiger Dragon Qi and this Weapon Subduing Fist art.
Supplemented by the knowledge of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, his Weapon Subduing Fist art underwent great change and became more flexible for him to use. Nevertheless, it still lacked the means to ultimately grant him victory so Sila didn't dare to call it a profound art yet.
Sila circulated Tiger Dragon Qi to recheck his physical condition after he had spent two days crazily practicing. Then, he approached the pond and slowly dipped his hand into the water.
The water surface rippled and the reflection of the full moon vibrated. Sila intended to pull his hand out but he was unable to do so. Pain emerged from his chest, which he tried to suppress using Immortal Qi, but it was useless.
The pain accumulated in his chest before gradually moving to his right arm and finally exiting his body, entering into the pond.
Sila's body was pushed away by an unseen force. He quickly regained his balance and inspected his own body using qi.
"The psychic power has gone?"
The eroding psychic power that used to be within his body had gone without leaving any trace, enabling Sila to circulate qi without sensing any disturbances.
He felt glad that, at long last, he was free from this problematic psychic power.
The system alarm went off.
You have dipped your body in the Pond of Rebirth. You are in the process of experiencing a rebirth and the Monster's Soul will appear before you. Please stay alive until the time of sunrise has come.
Sila didn't like the phrase 'stay alive until the time of sunrise has come' one bit. It seemed to him that a fearsome monster would come out. The condition that he didn't need to kill it but only stay alive meant that it would be a very powerful monster.
The rippling got faster and faster, and the clear pond started becoming darker and finally ended up being as black as ink. The reflection of a full moon had completely disappeared along with it.
The black water in the pond twisted and became a black mass floating in the air. The pond was now totally dried up.
Sila circulated Tiger Dragon Qi, waiting for anything that might come out.
The mass of black water unleashed a killing intent, which Sila resisted firmly. He had a sense of déjà vu as he thought he had experienced something like this before but couldn't remember when it was.
At long last, the monster that Sila was waiting for took shape right in front of him. It was a red-eyed demon with its height being two to three meters and showing its sharp, numerous teeth. Although its form was humanoid, it wasn't really a human.
"Moon Reflecting Mirror?" Sila exclaimed.
He now remembered when he had experienced this kind of encounter. It was during Divine's Trial in the Way of Slime's ordeal.
The situation that was currently unfolding before him was exactly like at that time. Although there were some minor changes to the monster's appearance, it was undoubtedly his inner self.
"As it turns out, Monster's Soul refers to my own soul." Sila couldn't help but smile gently. He should have guessed this.
The body of the monster softly landed on the ground. Instantly, the grass on the field eroded as if it was splashed with acid water. The eroding psychic power was being emitted from the body of the monster.
If Shueria's psychic power was as sharp as blades, this monster's psychic power was something that expressed a will to destroy everything blocking its way.
"Why does it have to be me? Why...? Why does everyone have to keep me in the dark?" The sound of the monster echoed.
"It can talk?" Sila was slightly surprised since it was different from the one he had fought before who suddenly charged at him without saying a word.
"I will swallow. I will destroy. I will challenge the destiny designed for me."
"What are you talking about? What do you mean?"
"Everyone uses me. No one loves me. I'm all alone." The cry of the monster continued to echo.
"Who uses whom? Speak more clearly!" Sila shouted back.
"I'm merely a pawn on a board. I won't accept it. I will kill. I will loot. I will destroy. I will swallow."
Sila frowned as he started to understand what this monster was referring to. This Monster's Soul was reflecting the negative feelings he kept deep inside.
He sighed as he believed that he was very lucky that the quest content of Monster's Soul was similar to Way of Slime. He had passed this trial before even when he was an orange-sized slime so it shouldn't pose a problem to him now that he was in his human form and had become a lot stronger.
"It is easier than I thought." Sila calmed his mind and intended to activate Moon Reflecting Mirror.
Strangely enough, there was no sign of success.
"What? Why can't I use Moon Reflecting Mirror?"
The monster didn't seem to care Sila's actions as its mouth was still spouting complaints and curses. Each word stabbed through Sila's heart.
"I will not love anyone. No one has ever loved me. My parents left me behind and even my teacher only thought of me as a pawn. No one truly cares for me."
Sila frowned. "That's not true. Teacher doesn't see me as a pawn. He raised and loves me as if I'm his own son."
"Is that so? Then why did teacher never teach me the dojo's martial art? Teacher doesn't love me. In his eyes, I'm just a disposable pawn." The monster started conversing with him, but Sila was clouded by anger due to it badmouthing his teacher so he didn't notice.
"Teacher has his own reasons. He will tell me when the time comes."
"When is it exactly? Today? Tomorrow? Next year? Or in the afterlife?"
"When the time comes...! Teacher might seem very strict, but he truly loves me."
"It isn't true! No one loves me. I'm alone and always being left behind."
Sila slowly came closer to the monster. His mind was silently wild with the flames of anger.
"I loathe everyone, especially Montra. I used teacher's matter as a pretense. In fact, I hold a more personal grudge against Montra. A grudge which I have never told anybody and is only known to myself."
"Don't say that name!!" Sila's voice was getting louder.
The monster didn't care. Its lips moved once again, letting out the name that Sila desperately didn't want to hear. "Nunthima."
Sila snapped at this moment. His qi exploded, his right hand tightly clutched, and his eyes shone with his greatest malice. The most powerful of Genesis Punch that he could exert was reinforced into his right fist. The muscle of his right arm ruptured with the power that was surging.
His right fist was thrown at the monster at a frightening speed.
He didn't notice the scornful smile on the monster's lips. Its red eyes gleamed with a mysterious, dangerous light. Both its hands moved in circular gestures while waiting for Sila's fist and the air between the two combatants started to gleam like a mirror.
Its disgusting sound voiced out the name of the skill:
"Moon Reflecting Mirror."