Chapter 132: Lost Grea - One False Move and the Game is Over
As soon as Sila separated himself from the team, he realised that there was a problem. Although he could freely go through the walls, he couldn't see through them. He didn't even know where he was, so how in the world would he find the throne?
Sila was running when he suddenly slammed into a wall. He rubbed his nose and reached out with his arm, realising that it was part of the fortress, not one of Sebastian's walls.
Since he didn't want to attract attention, Sila moved silently by using both Qi Concealment and Universe Reversal to climb up the wall. Slowly, but surely.
Irregular sounds could be heard from a distance. It seemed that Sebastian had started to move. Sila hurriedly and tracelessly extended the power of Galaxy Eclipse. However, Sebastian's wall affected his ability to sense, so he was struggling to identify his surroundings. He didn't know the appearance of the throne and all he could sense was his opponents' positions.
"Those tiny powers all over the place must belong to Bluebird."
The scope of Bluebird's search was vast and almost covered the entire kingdom, especially when the entire Android army was focusing on keeping the intruders out and let their residential area of the kingdom become desolate.
Sila relied on qinggong and his limited sensing ability to arrive at the inner part of the city. He searched aimlessly for five minutes before feeling restless. His unproductive five minutes felt like an hour when he imagined that he had left his comrades fighting behind. He was nervous as the negative thoughts overwhelmed him. What was happening to his friends? Did their plan go wrong?
A tremor came from the location where his team first arrived. Sila was no longer able to suppress his worries.
He quickly expanded the size of his sensing sphere as much as he could. Although he still couldn't pinpoint the throne, he was able to pinpoint his strongest foe in the kingdom:
Orpheus, the Emperor Rank monster.
"The King of the kingdom is supposed to stay near the throne, right? Even if I can't fight him, I at least ought to get as close as I can."
The source of the great power could be sensed in the northeast. Sila immediately ran in that direction.
The closer he got to the power, the stronger the pressure he was feeling from it became. Sila tried to slow down and change his approach to gradually moving forward.
"You better not think that you can really come to this place without being detected by me, right? Intrusive kid."
An overbearing voice could be heard. He was startled and put up his Tiger Dragon Qi subconsciously.
"You are too easy to find. You really are too young." The same voice could be heard. Even though he was surrounded by red skeleton walls from all directions, Sila felt like he was being watched.
Sila didn't even dare to make the quietest noise. He didn't know whether his opponent was telling the truth or bluffing, but he tried his best to stay vigilant nonetheless.
"I won't kill you yet. I'm just curious and have some questions to ask you."
"Mn. It's good that you are cautious, but you also need to know your place. If you don't show yourself, I will just force you to do it."
Overwhelmingly strong psychic power was exerted and pressured Sila greatly. He had to clench his teeth to endure it. The current feeling that filled his body reminded him of when Wu Ming warned him before going to Colossia City.
His breathing began to be unstable but he didn't want to let his opponent know his location so he didn't put up any resistance. He received the pressure directly with his unstrengthened body. He was gnashing his teeth as blood gushed out. His body felt heavy and his mind was tense like he was put into a cage with a ferocious, hungry tiger.
"Wow. What a strange youngster you are, taking damage instead of revealing your position."
Sila's body was extremely weakened and he believed he could pass out any second. The difference between their abilities was too great, so much that result of the battle had already been revealed even without a direct confrontation.
"If I want us to talk, I need to make these walls disappear first, right?"
All of the walls were destroyed before vanishing with a single move. It wasn't just the ones in the throne room, but all of the red skeleton walls that had appeared in the Lost Android Kingdom had disappeared.
There was a man with curly golden hair, wearing a white Greek-style robe, sitting on the white throne that Sila had been searching for. In his hand was a stringless golden lyre.
"Greetings. I'm Orpheus, an independent NPC whose role is the king of the Lost Android Kingdom. I'm just surprised by how you guys invaded my kingdom with only five people. Well, there are three pets in your group but only two of them can fight. So, it wouldn't be wrong if I said that your team only has four members capable of combat."
Since his location had been revealed, Sila no longer had a reason to conceal his power. He circulated Tiger Dragon Qi to heal his internal wounds while thinking about two matters.
The first was the fact that the man in front of him wasn't just a system-generated monster but an independent NPC that taking on the role of a monster.
This was a fact that could be considered as either favorable or unfavorable.
What made it potentially favorable was that Independent NPCs were bound to their role, but they had a certain level of freedom to do whatever they pleased so long as their actions didn't contradict their role. It was thanks to this that Orpheus could choose not to attack him yet.
As for the unfavorable part, it was the impossible-to-compare difference in strength between Independent NPCs and system-generated monsters. Sila had heard that all of the Slime Guardians, who were at Lord Rank, could even compete against Emperor Rank monsters on equal ground. For him to battle against an Emperor Rank Independent NPC, his door to victory had already been tightly sealed.
Even if he completely abandoned the battle and focused solely on stamping his seal on the throne, it was still a close-to-impossible task.
For him to complete that task, his strength no longer played any role in this confrontation. Only his intelligence and quick wit mattered.
As he was in the midst of a crisis, Sila's mind became calmer. With his qi activating to resist the psychic power, his head was now clear and his brain focused on the other matter, one which confused him.
Orpheus had told him that his team had five members, but that was incorrect. With the tactical ability to destroy all of the red skeleton walls without damaging the other buildings nor harming any living creatures, the Android King didn't seem to be someone who would make an error regarding something so simple like this.
'Why did he think that only five people have invaded into his kingdom?' Sila tried to figure out why he said that. He sensed that the answer to this question would play a major role in helping him survive this place.
"Mn. Your ability is not half bad. Unfortunately, you lack too much experience. Actually, you should chosen to not step foot into my kingdom as soon as you realized that there was no way for you to win. Even if you realized late, you still should have decided to flee from this place."
"I'm not a coward."
"Mn. Being cowardly or not doesn't really matter here. I guess you have never participated in a war before. Listen. In wartime, fleeing doesn't mean losing or that you're a coward. It can be a part of a strategy. Why bother fighting in a battle that you know you will surely lose? Don't you know that fleeing is one of the ultimate strategies?"
Sila's experience in group battles was indeed lacking. He fought alone most of the time and had never studied military strategies or the Art of War.
Orpheus continued, "You must be very confident in your ability to some degree, don't you? But you know what? War is like a game of chess. One strong piece can't win against a well-coordinated opposition by itself, no matter how strong it is."
"Will we talk? Or fight?"
"Fufu. No need to rush things, kid. We will eventually fight. But, I want us to talk first since you won't be able to pass me anyway."
Sila's eyes were fixated on the man.
"Frankly, you're quite skilled, but you are still a gem in the rough. If you had polished your line of thought and accumulated experience, you would have been a force to be reckoned with."
Orpheus left the throne and approached a nearby table to pour some tea for himself. Amidst the silence, Sila took a side glance at the currently empty throne which Orpheus had turned his back toward.
No matter how small the chance was, Sila needed to seize it. With the Hidden Weapon Firing skill, he could summon any item from his system window without having to open it. This trivial gimmick had helped him many times. Now, what he summoned was the Lost Grea City's seal.
His target was a small groove with the emblem of Lost Grea City engraved on the backrest of the throne that Orpheus's body had been blocking it previously.
To shoot an object the size of a stamp into an equally small groove might be an impossible task for many, but not Sila. For him, the distance of fifteen meters was even less than the one he always practiced on.
"My, my. Seizing the chance as soon as you see it. You're very inexperienced, indeed."
Orpheus plucked the stringless lyre once, and the seal's trajectory was slightly shifted. It slammed into the backrest of the throne and silently dropped on the seat.
"When an opponent intentionally shows you an opening, you need to think twice before you act as it might be a trap. Now, the seal is no longer in your hand. I will let you guess for fun which one of us can arrive at the throne faster."
Sila inwardly scolded himself. This wasn't the first time that he had been lured into an enemy's trap. The time when he fought against Kawin had been the same; he instinctively acted as soon as he saw a chance and it resulted in his loss.
"Have you ever heard the phrase, 'One false move and the game is over', kid?"
In actual combat, just a single mistake can cost you victory. Thus, if the opponents don't make any mistakes, you might need to force them into making one.
What Orpheus just did was forcing Sila to uselessly waste his trump card. Stamping the seal on the throne was the only way for him to win without having to fight. And now he had lost it.
'Think, me, think. What should I do in a situation like this? Which method do I need to use?'
Orpheus didn't interrupt, instead letting him continue trying to come up with a solution.
Sila slowly headed toward Orpheus rather than the throne. Orpheus didn't know what Sila's plan was, but he still showed a fearless smile. He personally wanted to know what trick the youngster in front of him was going to pull.
"Could you please give me a cup of tea as well, sir?" Sila asked politely.
Orpheus smiled, "Sure, why not? We need to fight soon. It's better that we learn a thing or two about each other. By the way, what is your name?"
"Sila, sir." He quietly watched Orpheus pour the tea into a cup and hand it to him, which he obediently accepted.
"Well, that's a good name. Sila. Strong and firm."
"Thank you, sir," replied Sila.
'Fufu. Do you think I didn't realize that you sneakily contacted your friend when I poured the tea? My, my. Calling reinforcements won't pose a threat to me. What a bad move, kid.' Orpheus thought to himself while sipping the tea.
Sila was stalling for time by having a conservation with Orpheus. That was until Orpheus had detected that there was someone else sneaking around at the front of the room.
"Why don't you invite your friend in?"
Bluebird scratched his head as he made an awkward appearance. "Hehe. Hello, everyone. Are you busy?"
Orpheus didn't say a word as he plucked the lyre in his hand once and a clear sound resounded. This time, Sila was close to him so he had witnessed that a string made from psychic power appeared in the instant that Orpheus played the lyre. A line of psychic power that was invisible to the eyes flew to the throne and scattered into hundreds of tiny lines. Only several flashes of light could be seen.
"There are birds wandering into the room," nonchalantly said Orpheus.
The energy lines precisely struck all one hundred and fifty tailorbirds that had stealthily entered the room. Sila had never witnessed such a delicate and ingenious display of power before.
"Too bad for you, kid."
Sila didn't reply and just stared into the tea in his cup.
"The tea has turned cold. Hurry up and drink it. Then, you can come at me two against one. I won't mind."
A smile emerged on Sila's face. "Well, yes. I had better drink it to celebrate my victory."
"Victory? Are you insane? Your plan has failed."
"You are the one who taught me not to fall for the opponent's trick. I wouldn't win if you hadn't taught me at least that much."
A system announcement went off in Sila and Orpheus' ears.
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the Conquering the Lost Android Kingdomquest. As a reward, the android race is now allied with the slime race and Lost Grea City has become a territory under your management.
Orpheus was shocked and turned his head toward the throne only to witness that the seal had been stamped into the groove. Beside the throne, there was a woman in a maid outfit standing. She was an existence that he couldn't detect even when he was looking right at her.
Julia bowed her head and said, "I have put the seal inside the groove as you ordered, Master."
Sila circulated qi around himself to make the tea warmer and poured it into his mouth. He was looking at Orpheus' confused expression as the man tried to figure out how he lost.
"One false move and the game is over, sir," Sila said with a smile.