Chapter 120: A Monster in a Full Moon Night - Last Part
There are many legends regarding rebirth and gaining immortality. Monster's Soul is a quest that replicates one of those tales.
There is a certain legend explaining that, for a mortal to step into the realm of immortality, one's body and mind will be split into two. One is the god, representing the purity, and the other is the demon, representing the malignancy. Both existences cannot coexist so each part of the mortal will have to fight each other. If the purity wins, there will be another god joining the realm of gods. Otherwise, if the malignancy wins, there will be another demon joining the demon realm.
In the instant when Sila's fist was about to connect with Moon Reflecting Mirror, Sila was aware that he had been lured into a trap. The plan to provoke the opponent to attack so he could counterattack was always his plan, but now the monster used it against him.
This fist was reinforced with his maximum power so he was aware that he couldn't retract the power in time. Thus, instead of retracting the power back, he chose to accelerate his speed to narrow the distance. This fist belonged to him so he was well aware at what point it would be able to unleash its full potential.
Narrowing the distance could be considered an application of the Weaken technique of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws; advancing to the source of the power instead of facing it directly.
The only qi-type power that Sila didn't include in this attack was Formless Soldier. Ever since he was able to use Tiger Dragon Qi, he had been using it as his base power as its performance was better.
Thus, he activated Formless Soldier at this moment to harden his body and soften his internal organs. He also made his body lighter to flow with the wind, lessening the impact. This, again, counted as the Migrate technique.
Sila's body intensely clashed against the power of the fist and was blown away. Although he was severely injured, he was glad. The fact that there was an impact meant Genesis Punch hadn't successfully launched its full potential. The distance that was off caused him to be blown backward from the impact instead of being turned into dust on the spot.
Unexpectedly, the seemingly useless Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws had saved Sila's life in a moment of crisis.
He sighed and activated the softness attribute of Tiger Dragon Qi to create a soft cushion behind his back, preventing himself from being slammed into the cave's wall.
Upset that its plan to kill Sila had failed, the monster furiously glared at him.
Sila circulated Immortal Qi and activated his new fusion skill, Unblemished Cool Breeze, to heal his body. His eyes shot back at his inner self.
As it wasn't clothing designed to directly receive attacks, his Unjust Wuxia Clothing was torn apart since it couldn't take all of the damage. Sila's upper body was laid bare and there was a big, bleeding wound on his chest, though the wound was quickly healed.
Sila controlled his breathing to calm his mind.
'Do not let yourself be drawn into the opponent's flow'. In this case, his opponent was his own soul. He could regain his composure in no time since no one would know him better than himself.
"You can't take the truth, huh, Sila? Nunthima is like Sangdao. She approached us only to observe. Once she was done, she left!"
"Nunthima came to speak to me honestly. She herself didn't want to do that," replied Sila.
"Only one day before the day of the match?! What did she expect? Did she expect us to understand her, accept what she said, and go fight Montra without shackles around our heart?! That's clearly a strategy! Are you a fool to not notice that?!!"
"I can tell that she was sincere. That much is enough for me to feel content."
"You can tell? You are content? Hahaha! What a joke, Sila. I'm you. Don't tell me you didn't fret over this at all when you fought against Montra. Don't tell me you fought without the matters regarding Teacher Mora and Nunthima in your head. Don't tell me you fought sincerely without the flames of vengeance in your heart."
Sila shut his mouth. His inner self was right. Humans weren't saints, and that included him. Although Sila felt content that Nunthima came clean, deep down he couldn't help but feel betrayed.
Sila had been raised in the dojo. His life was all about practicing. Practicing for what purpose? He didn't know.
One day, he met her, Nunthima. She came to join the dojo and became his Junior Sister. This woman made a slight change to his life. The two of them were secretly in a relationship. From that point on, Sila felt like his life finally had some meaning.
Even when his teacher went missing and the disciples stopped coming to the dojo, she was still with him.
Until that day came, a day before his match against Montra. She confessed something to him. It was the truth that extremely affected Sila's state of mind.
She said that she could no longer keep it a secret from him, that it was Montra who had sent her to befriend Sila and spy on him. She said that she couldn't bring herself to stay with Sila who was sincere to her while she was deceiving him.
The moment when she turned her back to Sila and left was still vivid in his memory. There was no goodbye. There was no holding her back. Sila returned to being lonely once again.
So, it would be a lie if he said he only resented Montra for what happened to his teacher. He resented Montra for what happened with Nunthima as well.
Sila adjusted his breathing again. He wasn't as stupid about love as Bluebird constantly claimed he was, but that event caused him to build a wall to protect his heart. Sila was not ready to have someone again until he could put an end to this matter. His naivety was something he relied on to prevent himself from falling in love.
"Pretending to not know. Pretending to not care. It was easier that way, right, Sila?" His inner self continued.
"I'm not pretending or anything. That naivety is also a part of me."
"You could change yourself, but you decide not to. You didn't dare to change. You're afraid. You fear to experience the same feeling back then."
Listening to it talking in a circle, Sila felt that something was off. Something was surely wrong but he couldn't tell what it was.
Sila took a deep breath and think about it calmly. If it was him and he was it, what was it that was unnatural?
'Why didn't it attack me?' This was the answer Sila came up with.
His inner self was cursing and swearing at him nonstop as if it intended to stall for time. It was unnatural. He was currently in the middle of the quest and he only had to wait for the time to be up. The one who should be stalling for time should be him, not it.
Sila looked at the sky above. An hour should have passed but the positions of the stars had not changed at all. He had been forced to study the stars when he was being taught Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps. Thus, even if he wasn't an expert at astronomy, he could somehow tell that.
He took several, eccentric steps forward and approached the black monster. His body was circulating Tiger Dragon Qi while his right fist, reinforced with qi, was thrown at the monster's blind spot.
His inner self's left arm drew an arc with the power of Moon Reflecting Mirror while reinforcing psychic power into its right hand. It shaped its hand like a claw and pounced on Sila.
This time, however, Sila was prepared. His fist had yet to connect as he had slight enlightenment about 'being slow means an act of unending changes'. His fist suddenly changed its course halfway.
Sila opened his hand and used his palm to deflect the incoming claw. Then, he depended on the impact to rotate his body and strike his left arm at his opponent.
His inner self took the attack and had to retreat. Meanwhile, the eroding psychic power damaged Sila's right hand and corroded his muscles. Sila quickly circulated qi to heal his wound.
"As expected. You are the other half of me who was born from psychic power. It was different than when I took the Way of Slime's ordeal. While I can't use psychic power, you can't use qi. My aptitude over qi is better than psychic energy, so of course, I'm stronger than you."
His inner self glared back at Sila with its gleaming red eyes. The psychic power was being emitted from its body like water steam.
"Despite the fact that you are me, you didn't take the action that I would take. You didn't attack me and were even kind enough to wait for me to recover. That means there is some restriction on you. Maybe your power is conditional or you're waiting for something. No matter what it was, I think I can no longer wait."
"You are too late. I have already swallowed enough of your negative feelings."
His inner self jumped at him. Although it was a simple movement, Sila had to admit that the power he felt from it was overwhelming. However, instead of resisting the attack, Sila chose to disperse all of his power and leave himself defenseless.
"This is not real."
The claw penetrated Sila but brought him no harm. His inner self panicked and tried to attack Sila several more times but they were all useless. All attacks flew right through Sila's body.
"Although we are the same person, you are only a part of me, not all of me."
"It's not true!! I'm stronger than you. My psychic power is the strongest!! I will swallow. I will grow. I will destroy!!"
"A calm mind is the strongest psychic... Someone has taught me that, and it is the core principle of Moon Reflecting Mirror. A calm mind that is as clear as a pond without any ripples. A psychic power that will reflect everything back without lies."
The body of the monster shrinked drastically. Its color was also fading.
"This was never a trial to test my battle prowess. It is a trial to test my mind. The weaker my mind becomes, the stronger you will become. On the other hand, if my mind is calm and clear, you will weaken."
Sila stopped for a second while looking at the body of a monster that was about to vanish.
"The monster's soul is a part of me."
As he accepted this fact, its body disappeared and Sila's body suddenly became heavily. His eyelids closed. And when he came to his senses again, he found that he was sleeping on the ground. His clothing was still intact.
That just now was a battle within his mind.
He stood up and looked into the pond. The pond was full of water, reflecting a moon in the sky, though the moon was no longer full.
The system sound went off.
You have completed the hidden quest, Monster's Soul, and gotten a psychic-type skill: Dark Psychic Corrosion, Level 89.
For the record, the skill you obtained from this hidden quest is counted as a secondary energy type. You will not be able to obtain some psychic-type skills. Please refer to your system window for more information.
You have spent 51 hours, 32 minutes, and 25 seconds to accomplish the hidden quest.
He had spent more than two days to finish the quest even though his perception of time told him that it shouldn't have been more than a few hours. He checked the current time with his system window and found that it was exactly like the system told him.
Sila walked around and found that there was no exit from this place. It seemed he would have to wait until sunrise before he could leave, like the system had said. So, he decided to sit on the rock and study his newly acquired psychic-type skill.
First things first, Sila tried to circulate qi throughout his body to reaffirm that the psychic power that had clogged in his body was indeed gone. It had now completely become a part of Sila. As his power was no longer clogged up, Sila hoped that he would be able to polish his qi further in the future.
Dark Psychic Corrosion, Level 89.
It is the nature of your psychic power which has the ability to corrode and consume. The more it swallows, the stronger its corrosive ability will become. It is a dangerous psychic power to have. Please use with caution.
Sila decided to give it a try and materialized his psychic power on his right palm. The black steam appeared on it and, suddenly, Sila felt great pain. The psychic power was eating away his flesh.
"Ouch!" Sila gritted his teeth and endured the pain. He resisted it by cladding his hand with qi but it was futile. The psychic power swallowed his qi and absorbed it to strengthen its corrosive power. Sila's hand eroded at a faster pace and the pain run through his arm.
He didn't know what to do so he slammed his hand against the ground.
The impact didn't seem to be excessive but the black psychic power moved to the nearby ground and wore into the soil.
Sila's arm was covered in blood and the wound on his right arm was so deep that his bone was visible. He took a deep, long breath to bear the pain while circulating Immortal Qi with Unblemished Cool Breeze to heal the wound.
"I can't even use it normally. Will it always harm the user every time?"
The wound was slowly closing. Sila decided to postpone thinking about his psychic power for later. His understanding of psychic skills was lacking so he planned to ask for advice.
Sila moved his arm back and forth to ensure that it was completely healed. It would take several more hours until morning came so he decided to kill his time by studying Tiger Dragon Qi.
The previous battle inspired Sila to adapt the six main techniques of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws with Tiger Dragon Qi.
"Although it happened in my mind, I was able to use the soft attribute splendidly and could change my action in the middle of the attack. It is similar to the concept of Tiger's Palm that I'm still unable to put into use."
Sila flicked his wrists slowly while circulating the tiger attribute of Tiger Dragon Qi and reading the pages about how to specifically circulate qi to perform Tiger's Palm in the book.
"The tiger hides in the wild, moves in secrecy, slowly approaches its prey, then successfully hunts them down in a single attempt."
He practiced it for a long time. Despite believing that he was a step closer to success, he was still unable to unleash its power.
It was also worth mentioning that, during his fight against his inner self, his coincidental successful use of Tiger's Palm couldn't be said to be perfect. Although it was indeed in line with the 'changing' concept mentioned in the book, the power that he unleashed was nowhere near as powerful as the book described.
"Or should I practice Dragon's Fist first? Well... I don't know whether practicing them simultaneously will be the good call. These sub-arts also require different methods of qi circulation."
Tiger Dragon Qi consists of three offensive sub-arts that require different ways of qi circulation. They are Dragon's Fist and Tiger's Palm while the last one is the result of the two aforementioned sub-arts combined together. It is called Tiger-Dragon Fusion.
Dragon's Fist has a hard attribute, aiming to deal external damage to the opponent, while Tiger's Palm has a soft attribute, aiming to deal damage internally. These two sub-arts share some aspects with Genesis Punch, though Poluk didn't break his art down that much until he was asked to downgrade his art to Formless Soldier.
Lastly, Tiger-Dragon Fusion can only be practiced when the user has mastered both Dragon's Fist and Tiger's Palm. Thus, Sila saved his interest in it for later.
"Well, Tiger's Palm is more compatible with my Weapon Subduing Fist and I also have the knowledge of the six techniques of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws to support it. Let's just stick with the tiger attribute for a little while longer."
Sila committed the part about Tiger's Palm to his memory.
He reviewed the knowledge about Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws in his head while simultaneously imagining the slow movements of Kawin.
He followed the slow movements in his imagination as he wanted to correctly use the art first before gradually increasing the speed later.
The sweat was dripping on the ground. Sila had fully immersed himself in practice. Soon, the images of Kawin in his mind faded away as he started to develop his own version of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws. Even though it wasn't a perfect version, it was unique to him and was still practical.
Sometimes Sila's fingers pointed forward, and sometimes his fingers bent like tiger's claws. These gestures came to him naturally as his qi was the one that guided him through the motions to bring out the most power from his body.
Sila was once again in awe and had a profound respect for Kiryu.
He approached the stone wall and placed his palm on it. His fingers easily sank into it.
He then tried to drag his hand along the wall. Once he flicked his wrist, the claw marks clearly appeared on it.
"It might not work well against experts, but at least it can be used in actual combat." Sila was confident that the current him could hold his ground if he were to face off against Kawin again.
There was a subtle sound behind his back. Sila looked at the sky and found that morning had come.
The sunlight pointed toward the exit. Sila calmly walked along the route while circulating qi. The level of his Tiger Dragon Qi had reached 40.
When Sila got out of the cave, he saw a certain man standing in the distance.
Currently, his mind was calm and reveling in himself for the growth of his ability. This Cave of Immortals changed Sila more than he had anticipated.
He always imagined what he would do when the time came. However, once the time really came, he just approached the man and greeted him like usual.
"Hello, Teacher Mora. It's been quite a while."