Chapter 128: Predator and Prey
The dome made of stone and earth slowly crumbled down. The sunlight that penetrated through it caused Sila to squint his eyes. It seemed his eyesight got a lot better so he needed some time to readjust.
Once he had a clear look of what was waiting for him, he discovered that he was surrounded by more than one hundred players. Some seemed to come alone while some came in groups.
The common thing that all the players present shared was the fact that they all had their weapons ready.
"He's finally come out!" one man yelled.
"His bounty belongs to me!" another one shouted.
"It's mine, you fools!"
Sila scratched his head in a daze. When he had been within the dome, these players had coordinated their attacks on the dome. But once he was out, they bared their fangs against everyone else.
He looked at himself and found that the upper half of his clothing was gone. So, he opened his system window to search for another one to replace it.
"Equip." Sila entered the command to equip his old Beginner Clothing. As for the Unjust Wuxia Clothing, it had been torn into many rags.
Well, Sila noticed that the bandage on his right arm had gone missing, so he used one of the rags as a temporary bandage.
No one interrupted or even cared about Sila's actions. These players had seen with their own eyes that Sila was on the brink of death after his fight against Cross. The few minutes he had obtained from hiding in the stone dome surely wouldn't be enough for him to regain his power.
They didn't need to mind the prey that was on the verge of death. What they needed to do was be on guard against the other predators who were trying to snatch away their prey.
Sila listened to them having an argument instead of attacking him while circulating Tiger Dragon Qi with perfect Qi Concealment. He found that his qi was in top condition and seemed to possess more power.
For the record, Sila's current sensation was temporary. When profound practitioners experience a breakthrough, it was normal for their inner force to significantly improve, making them feel as if they've become much stronger.
As time passes and their body accustoms to the new strength of the inner force, this sensation will naturally fade.
For a profound practitioner, there are times when they are not ready to fight and times when they are.
As Sila circulated his qi, he found that his body was in perfect shape. Never before had he felt more ready to fight than in this moment.
Well, Sila perceived that his business in this place had ended so he planned to leave.
The argument suddenly stopped and many players quickly came to hold Sila off.
"Oi! Where do you think you can run away to?"
"Run away? No. I'm just going to meet my friends. Let me leave. I won't blame you guys for trying to attack me just now."
"You won't blame us? Kukuku."
The loud waves of laughter came from them.
"You're having a hard time walking, aren't you? Don't act so high and mighty. You were just lucky to win against Cross. Anyone can easily kill that fallen Sword Emperor."
"Why didn't you take action, then?"
"No one was foolish enough to take action in broad daylight, fool. Otherwise, the prey would be snatched easily from them. Even worse, they would become an easy target for the remaining players... just like you."
Sila was about to open his mouth to reply, but his system window went off in his ears as a notification window appeared, informing him that Player Varee would like to invite him to join her party.
He looked around and found that Varee was standing behind those groups of players surrounding him. He also spotted Bow sitting on the roof of the building. She was looking at Sila with concerned eyes.
"Accept," Sila muttered.
"His friends have come to help. Kill him quickly!!"
The shout acted like the starting signal of a competition. Tens of weapons aimed at where Sila was standing. These players had stopped arguing as they feared that someone would help Sila get away from them.
Now, who could kill him only depended on luck.
Sila didn't possess a skill that could attack multiple enemies except Hidden Weapon Firing. Sadly, he had spent all his hidden weapons in the previous battle against Cross.
Nevertheless, Nine Sun-Melting-Fists was a martial art suitable for a chaotic battle. This art was offensive, quick, and easy to use.
Instead of defending or evading, Sila chose to step forward to face the weapons coming at him.
In the Nine Sun-Melting-Fists book, there was a part that taught him to 'advance before the enemies take their first step' and 'advance to the position the enemies need to defend'.
Sila's previous position was both where all of the weapons were aimed at and also where they would reach their full power. So, by stepping forward, the distance was off and those weapons couldn't exert their maximum strength, so any that didn't miss wouldn't be as strong as they would've.
It was a frightening sight to see the sharp edges miss Sila by a hair's breadth.
Nine Sun-Melting-Fists' step-in technique was even quicker than the one that was part of Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps. In addition, the stepping itself was connected to the next offensive action. Sila used his right hand as a blade, slashing sharply at the shoulder of one of the attackers.
The player Sila had attacked collapsed to the ground. He was still alive as Sila hadn't aimed at his vital spot.
Sila stopped using his right hand as a blade and instead used his palm to push his opponent's body away, resulting in them flying backward and causing everyone in front of him to fall like a bowling pin.
As he finished pushing, Sila took a sidestep and bent his elbow to strike one of the opponents to his right. Then, he shifted his center of gravity and used the same hand to push the same opponent into the ones behind him.
Sila's left hand grabbed the collar of the man closest to him and threw him away toward the group of magic-type players, standing quite a distance from everyone else, to interrupt whatever they were doing.
At that moment, an arrow infused with qi flew at his side.
Sila stood firmly and used the back of his right hand to tap the arrow lightly; shifting its trajectory and sending it into the shoulder of another opponent.
Sila didn't use Genesis Punch on these players as he had learned from his battle with Cross that a move that hit the target was more useful than a powerful move that didn't hit.
Although Nine Sun-Melting-Fists wasn't as powerful as Genesis Punch, it was very suitable for this situation. All of the moves connected to each other like he was dancing in the battlefield. He only needed to clad his body with qi reinforcement for his attack to become fatal.
"Arghhh!!" Painful cries came from the ones hit directly by Sila. One of them had a palm-shaped scorch mark on his chest while another had a similar wound on his shoulder. As for the one who was hit by the arrow, the wound caused by the arrow had frozen over and brought him pain from the ice burn.
Sila was slightly confused. He noticed a small injury on the back of his hand so he tried to circulate Tiger Dragon Qi throughout his body. Once Tiger Dragon Qi flew to the back of his right hand, it was healed as if he had used Recovering Qi on it.
Currently, his body counted Tiger Dragon Qi as his base qi. As for Primary Qi, Immortal Qi, Full Body Restructuring Qi, and Tortured Soul, they had fused together and become one with his body, meaning all of their abilities had been fused with Tiger Dragon Qi.
Everything that these qi or qi techniques could do, Tiger Dragon Qi could show the effect in their stead.
The obvious advantage of this fusion was that Sila's qi had evolved and become a versatile qi.
Prior to this, if Sila wanted to use Recovering Qi to lessen his pain, he needed to stop using any other qi to do so. But now, Sila could even attack while tending to his wounds simultaneously.
Even his attack and defense could be freely infused with the hot or cold elements of Tortured Soul. Well, if he didn't control it, it would display the effect depending on his actions.
Just a moment ago, when Sila performed a martial move of Nine Sun-Melting-Fists which was an offensive art, the hot element showed its power. On the other hand, when he displayed the move of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws which was a defensive art, the cold element's power was added.
As for the disadvantage, logically, there shouldn't be one. However, there was one that existed at the moment.
Due to the fact that the fusion had taken place with Tiger Dragon Qi as the base, as long as Sila still wasn't proficient in using Tiger Dragon Qi, he would have a hard time displaying his full power.
Take the wound on the back of his hand as an example; if it was Sila prior to the fusion of qi, he could just circulate Recovery Qi into his hand and the wound would be healed.
However, for Tiger Dragon Qi, he needed to circulate it throughout his entire body and wait for the inner force to reach the back of his hand so it to be healed.
It was the disadvantage that came from lack of proficiency in circulating Tiger Dragon Qi; if he had more experience with it, he would be able to circulate qi to a specific part of his body..
What Sila needed to practice right now was how to freely send Tiger Dragon Qi to each part of his body without having to circulate qi throughout his body. If he could do just that, his ability would go a step higher.
Sila began to understand what the system meant when it said 'become one with your body'.
He jumped at one of his opponents. His feet stepped where his opponents planned to move to, stealing the more favorable position to attack, and threw his right fist into the opponent's abdomen.
His opponent's body flew several meters backward with a burn mark on his abdomen. Blood gushed out from his mouth, forcing him to drink a potion quickly.
Sila frowned at what had happened as he noticed that he was no longer able to clad a specific part of himself with qi reinforcement.
Although it was true that he had become stronger as a whole, his attack had become noticeably weaker.
Each of his attacks right now were similar to what he had depended on before he had met Poluk. It was an attack without the concentration of power.
Let's say the previous Sila had 100 qi points in each part of his body. When he clad his fist with qi reinforcement to attack, the qi covering his fist could rise to 500 points while the qi protecting the rest of his body would be reduced to 10 points.
Now, however, it could be said that Sila had 300 qi points in each part of his body, three times more than he had before, but he was unable to increase the power in any specific part of his body.
Sila began to feel pressured. If he were to encounter skilled opponents, being able or unable to use qi reinforcement on a specific part of the body would prove to be a key factor. Qi reinforcement wasn't only beneficial for attacking, there would be many times when he needed to rely on qi reinforcement to increase his defense as well.
Sila took a glance at Varee and found that she could kill her opponents neatly without them making any noise, be it screaming or cries of pain.
He had never witnessed Varee's fighting style for real so this day was the first time.
Varee's overall ability was not too outstanding. Her battle style wasn't flashy but Sila had learned from his fights that flashiness wasn't a key factor in battles.
Some players had their own unique fighting style, and Varee was one of them.
Varee was fighting by herself against three other players. Her Shadow Moon Sword could parry all the attacks without much difficulty.
Sila would define Varee's combat style as that of an 'opportunity seizer'. The moment her opponents let their guard down or showed an opening even for a split second, she would clad her katana with psychic power reinforcement and perform a quick slash at a speed that even Sila's eyes couldn't follow.
'Her speed of energy reinforcement is too fast. With that, she could instantly turn the tables in a fight, escaping from a disadvantageous position and becoming the victor as soon as she sees a chance.'
It was, by no means, an exaggeration. Varee's psychic power reinforcement was both speedy and powerful. Every time she moved, someone died. The same could be said about her footwork. With her terrifying speed of energy reinforcement, she could move from one spot to another in the blink of an eye, leaving behind an afterimage.
When he looked at Bow, Sila saw that she stayed in the same spot, though there was some kind of white aura covering her. She was looking at the fights with her innocent eyes while eating snacks as if she was watching a show on the television.
Since he couldn't rely on partial qi reinforcement, Sila tried to use Formless Soldier to enhance his attack power instead. Luckily for him, Formless Soldier still worked just fine.
Those players who claimed to be predators could tell that fighting Varee was very dangerous, so they focused their attention on Sila, their original prey, instead.
Tens of players pointed their weapons at Sila. These players weren't as weak as the ones in Beginning Town. All of the weapons were strengthened by qi, magic, or psychic power. If Sila were to take them head on without the ability to reinforce part of his body with qi, he would end up dead or at least heavily wounded.
Sila hardened his foot and stomped it on the ground, shaking the plaza. Some players lost their balance and, thanks to the fact that they were close to each other, began to fall on other players.
He imbued his body with the wind elemental power from Orbiting Cosmos and moved like a ghost using Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps. Both his hands were strengthened to be as hard as steel before striking the two enemies closest to him, shattering their armors and sending them flying.
Fortunately, the skills that didn't fuse with Tiger Dragon Qi still functioned as usual. Sila used Universe Reversal to pull some of his opponents closer to him and let his hammer-like fists strike them again.
The plaza became like Hell as several players were beheaded and their heads sprung into the sky on Varee's side, which caused Bow to close her eyes. She shifted her interest to witness Sila's side which was like a battle in a wuxia movie. Bow would clap her hands if she had any.
Seeing this as a perfect chance for him to practice his martial arts, Sila immersed himself into trying out a lot of the martial moves he had learned.
He had to depend on his quick wit to select the most suitable martial move for each situation, so he learned a lot during this fight. Most of the time he used Nine Sun-Melting-Fists, though sometimes he used Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws to defend and give himself more time to think.
As he heard Bow's delighted laughter when seeing him showing off martial moves, Sila continued to display move after move to impress her.
Sila and Varee stopped moving when not a single opponent remained. The ones who fought against Varee were considered lucky as they had died in one hit. As for those who fought against Sila... they were forced to become his sparring partners involuntarily and suffered from several blows until they died from either internal injuries due to being gravely damaged, burns from qi, or being frozen.