Chapter 154: Martial Skill
The black limousine began to move and headed away from town . The Flaming Cloud dojo was already located near the outskirts, but the limo still traveled at a fast pace . As timed passed, fewer buildings could be seen around them . In the end, Sila no longer cared about their surroundings and continued the conversation with his teacher .
“Where are we going, Teacher?”
“One of the Nervous System Research Institutes, ‘Cynthia Eight’ . ”
“The Nervous System . . . what?”
“The Nervous System Research Institute . . . Do not mind the name . Just think of it as one of the locations related to Monster Soul . It’s one of the places where Independent NPCs can log in . ”
Sila began to understand . “Ah, I see . If I log in from there, I can stay in the game for a longer time, right, Teacher?” As he said this, he furrowed his brows .
“Say it, Sila . ”
Sila nodded . “Yes, Teacher . I’m just thinking that, even if I can stay online without logging out, I will only get a few more days at most, which won’t make a major difference . ”
Glancing toward the front of the limousine, Mora saw that there was a partition between the driver and the passenger seats . Still, he decided not to trust that their conversation was private .
“I will talk about that when we reach the Institute . Do you have any questions for me? After today, we will hardly have time to meet each other . ”
‘Ah, that’s true . If I stay online all the time, that means I won’t get to go outside . ’ Sila contemplated which question to ask before opening his mouth .
“About the sword art, Teacher . Our dojo doesn’t have a weapon art, does it? Why do you have one with you?”
Mora sighed . “You are already an adult, so the time for me to tell you has come . . . ”
Noticing his teacher’s expression, Sila realized that what he was about to hear should be very important .
“The Sila Sword and Heaven's Decree Sword Art don’t belong to our dojo . I’m just safeguarding them in the place of my best friend, to give them to his son when the time comes . . . ”
“His son . . . ?”
“Correct . It’s you, Sila . Heaven's Decree Sword Art is the art your father—your biological father—gave me before he passed away . ”
“My . . . biological father . . . ” In fact, Sila had somehow already guessed that ever since Mora told him he was named after the sword . Still, he couldn’t help but be surprised . Mora had never told him a thing about his biological parents, and Sila had never asked . He always believed that he was an orphan who his teacher adopted from an orphanage . Never had he imagined that his biological father was his teacher’s friend .
“Your father is Pumin, and your mother is Irene . The three of us were close friends . Pumin was a profound practitioner like myself, while Irene was a German neuroscientist . After the two of them passed away, I took you in and raised you . ”
Listening silently, the names of his parents were engraved into Sila’s mind . “How did . . . they die?”
Despite having prepared thousands of times how he would tell Sila about his parents, when the time really came, Mora still needed a moment to put his words in order . His expression was sorrowful, and his speech was noticeably stuttering .
“Twenty-three years ago, your father was renowned as the Sword Prodigy . While he was active, his name was known by every profound practitioner . Even though he was an outspoken person, sometimes righteous and sometimes chaotic, he was the most talented and sincere person I knew . When my teacher passed away, us three Elders—Vichien, Sanon, and I—had the same decision that we would select him as the next successor for the Wulin Lord position . ”
“The previous successor . . . Teacher told me that the mission assigned to the previous successor was too difficult, leading to his . . . ” Sila said, and then stopped .
“Correct . The mission for him was to become the strongest swordsman who stood at the zenith . To achieve that mission, he traveled around the world . Despite his bad habit of being headstrong and stubborn, his ability was genuinely transcendent . It took him only a year to triumph over every famous sword dojo . The mission should have ended there, but your father was an obstinate person; he wasn’t satisfied with his current ability and wanted to invent his own sword art, Heaven’s Decree . He set his mind on achieving that goal within one year . . . which later proved to be too short . . .
“You need to understand that, at the time, brainwave technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today . Despite this, when he heard that there was technology that could help him have more time to practice profound arts, your father traveled to one of the research institutes in Germany, where Irene worked . ”
Casting his eyes downward, Sila continued to listen . That should have been the moment when his parents met each other .
“Unfortunately, the technology back then was still being developed and as such, was a lot more dangerous . Your father overworked his brain, and, in the end, he fell into a coma for three months before finally passing away, leaving the pregnant Irene behind . Then, soon after you were born, her sorrow for Pumin’s death overcame her; she blamed herself, thinking that she was the cause of his death . In the end, her body steadily deteriorated . . . and she died . ”
Lifting his head up, Mora looked straight into Sila’s eyes . “It’s my fault . I should have stopped him, but . . . deep down in my heart, I also wanted to witness the birth of the ultimate sword art, the art that Pumin said that would usher in the next era of sword arts, so . . . I didn’t hold him back . ”
“It’s alright, Teacher . That was my father’s choice . I don’t think he would ever blame you for that,” Sila said with a faint voice .
Silence filled the air until Mora broke the awkward atmosphere .
“There is something else that you should know: Even though your father was famous and everyone knows he was inventing the sword art before his demise, no one knows that he has a descendant . You can make use of this fact if necessary . ”
“I will let you think about that yourself . You’re a curious person and tend to ask others for an answer . However, if you only depend on others, your thinking ability won’t improve . So, this will be another part of your training . While it’s true that asking the experts is often a good choice, you need to think for yourself sometimes . Otherwise, if you are left with no one to ask, you won’t be able to come up with an idea on your own . ”
The limousine slowed down before finally stopping, and the partition slid down . “We have arrived, Mister Mora . ”
Mora didn’t wait for the driver to open the door, exiting the limousine himself, and was followed closely by Sila . Both of them entered the research institute .
It seemed his teacher was popular since everyone in the building recognized and bowed their heads to him . Mora walked through room after room, not stopping until they reached the elevator . He and Sila entered, and Mora took out a key to open the hidden button showing ‘B8’ . He pressed it and the elevator descended .
‘Why does it look so secretive?’ Sila wondered . The fact that Independent NPCs can stay online for a long period of time should be known by most if not all players, so he didn’t understand why his teacher had to act like it was some kind of top secret .
The elevator’s door slid open, and they entered an air-conditioned, spacious room filled with computers and electronic equipment . There was only a single person in the room, who Sila could tell at first glance was a scientist . The man wore a white lab coat and had long brown hair . He also wore a thick pair of glasses, but even that couldn’t hide his handsome face . The man approached them .
“The preparations are complete, Mister Mora . ” As he finished talking, he looked at Sila .
“Thanks . . . This is Sila, my disciple,” Mora began the introductions .
“Hello . I’m Joshua and I’m the scientist stationed in this laboratory . It’s nice to meet you . ” The man extended his hand in an attempt to greet Sila .
Sila reached out and shook his hand as he returned the greeting . “Hello, sir . I’m Sila . . . Hm?”
“Is there something wrong?” Joshua asked . The gentle smile lingered on his face, though Sila couldn’t see his expression clearly thanks to the thick pair of glasses .
“No, sir . It’s nothing . ” Sila released Joshua’s hand .
“In order to not waste time, I will start the scanning process . Pardon me, Mister Sila, but I would like you to give me a sample of your blood . ” Joshua took out a small syringe from his desk, while Sila looked at his teacher, seeking his opinion .
“Your blood is needed for Joshua to perform a deep analysis of your physical condition, to ensure that you will be perfectly fine when you use the capsule . It’s a normal procedure . ”
Hearing the explanation, Sila extended his arm so that Joshua could cleanse the area with alcohol before injecting the needle, filling the syringe with his blood .
“It will take some time . Could you please change your clothes while you are waiting? A set of clothing is on the table, and the restroom is to the left . ”
Looking at his teacher and seeing him nod for the second time, Sila picked up the clothes and obediently went to the restroom . The outfit was white and had rather long sleeves . The only part of him that was revealed after wearing this suit was his head, above the chin .
Dragging himself from the restroom, Sila saw Joshua dropping his blood into strange-looking equipment . The scientist noticed Sila and pointed at the empty large box on the table .
“Except for your ID card, please put everything you have in this box, Mister Sila . I will keep them for now and return them to you when you log out . ”
Once he had finished placing his belongings into the box, Sila went to sit in the chair next to his teacher . It was at this moment that he had a chance to inspect the room . He saw three life support capsules inside another room behind tempered glass, though he couldn’t see who was inside .
Typing on the keyboard at high speed, Joshua looked at the data displayed on the monitor, then walked over to the others .
“It’s finished . There are no problems with your body; you can proceed to use the capsule normally . ”
Sila couldn’t help but be curious . “You can tell that with only blood, sir?”
Joshua nodded . “Yes, just blood is enough . The machine I used is the most advanced DNA analyzer in the world . Just a small amount of blood and it can tell you almost everything about the person; dominant and recessive alleles of genes, chronic diseases, allergies, and more . It’s a ground-breaking machine, though the cost to create one is astronomical . ”
Sila nodded in understanding, though he wasn’t sure he understood all of it .
“Let me tell you something first; the brain-scanning capsule that Mister Sila is about to use is different from the ones that most NPCs use . It’s a special model, and only three of them exist in the world . ”
“Eh? Doesn’t it just allow me to stay online for a longer time, sir?”
Joshua shook his head . “Although it will also enable you to stay online for a long time, that’s not all it does . The most significant factor that makes it stands out among the others is the ‘synchronization rate’ . Normally, the brain scanners sold commercially and the ones used by NPCs only have a synchronization rate of ten percent . However, for the three in front of you, they have the highest synchronization rate of seventy percent . ”
“What is the difference, sir?”
“No difference can be seen in the game, Mister Sila . Rather, the difference will show up in reality . With the synchronization rate being this high, your body will receive strong feedback from your in-game avatar, though the special medicinal liquid is also required . ”
Joshua looked at Sila, who frowned at his words, and realized that he needed to explain more .
“Um . . . how should I explain it? Let me ask you this, then: Mister Sila, not including your in-game abilities, do you think there is a difference between how strong you and your in-game avatar are?”
Sila thought about it for a moment . “Yeah, there is a difference . In reality, I can only use a tenth of my power . ”
Joshua shook his head again . “It’s the opposite, Mister Sila . In fact, it’s your avatar that can exert ten times more power than your real body . It’s your ability in the real world that matters, and by using one of these capsules, there won’t be a big disparity between you and your avatar . You can call this a shortcut to getting stronger . It’s not that the ordinary capsules can’t do it, though, it’s just that they will take a lot longer, maybe by a hundredfold . ”
Sila smiled at the explanation . “Wow . That’s pretty cool . If everyone used this kind of capsule, it will significantly shorten the time they need to practice in real life . In the game, we have a lot more time to practice, and we can even die without worries . Therefore, we just have to do our best in the game, and our body in real life will become stronger . ”
Mora broke his silence, interrupting their conversation . “Sila, you have to promise me that you won’t mention the existence of these three capsules to anyone, including your closest friends . It’s top secret . ”
“W-Why, Teacher? You told me that the objective of the Wulin Masters Association is to pass on profound arts . If we use this kind of machine, not only can we inherit the arts, but the arts will also be developed at an astonishing speed . There are only pros, and no cons, aren’t there, Teacher?”
“Its pros are its cons, Sila . I have taught you that martial arts consists of profound ethics and martial skill . Profound ethics refers to the process of learning martial arts; training one’s body and mind to become a proper human . Whereas, martial skill refers to the skill necessary to win against enemies . Only by combining the two can you call it a true martial art, and only by learning both of them together can you call yourself a profound practitioner .
“True, these three machines in front of you can help you learn martial skills by bypassing the process of learning profound ethics . Imagine yourself in a world where all strong people lack ethical sense and prey on the weak . If that kind of world were to unfold, would you still tell me with confidence that we are having success in maintaining profound arts?”
Sila could understand what his teacher said in no time . Martial arts must consist of both profound ethics and martial skill . If the world was filled with people with great martial skills but lacking ethics, he would rather say that it’s the world where martial arts have gone extinct . What was left weren’t profound practitioners but only the strong who bullied the weak .
“This is one of the reasons we changed our mind about selecting Montra . He is a genius, but in recent years, he has been focusing too much on polishing martial skills and neglecting ethics . Even though he has become stronger, his strength isn’t a genuine one . Remember it well, Sila, and don’t repeat the same mistake as Montra . ”
“Yes, Teacher . ”
“Now that you understand the seriousness of this matter, promise me that you won’t tell anyone about the capsules . No one . With no exception . ”
“I understand, Teacher . However . . . Montra is Mister Sanon’s son . I think he might have heard about these capsules from him . ”
“You don’t need to worry about that . The fact that these capsules exist is only known by Joshua and I . Oh, and you, too . ”
“Eh? Other Elders don’t know about them?” Sila exclaimed with surprise .
“Correct . Not only about the capsule, but the fact that Pumin had a son is also only known by Joshua and myself . For the latter, you can take advantage of it . ”
“Yes, Teacher . I promise . ”
Joshua handed Sila a helmet .
“Please wear it and enter into the leftmost capsule . ”
Joshua went to the monitor, so Mora used this chance to continue his conservation with Sila .
“Sila, I know that you want to learn the sword art, but I would like to suggest you practice the bare hands' art first . Be sure to learn many things but think less when it comes to inventing your own arts . Do not let the principles of other arts limit your imagination . Your prominent point is your adaptive thinking . No matter how great the martial arts you have learned are, just think of them as the foundations, the stepping stones . Use them if you want, but forget them if you have to . Once you have success in inventing your profound art, continue to practice the sword art . Take one step at a time . Do not rush yourself . ”
Sila listened to his teacher’s words . “Yes, Teacher . But the time is short; if I’m not in a hurry . . . ”
Mora lifted his hand up to cut Sila’s sentence short . “In Monster Soul, there is a dimension that is more special than other dimensions . The flow of time in that dimension will be several times slower than usual, and there is something in that dimension that you need to find . It’s a gift that I left for you and also the reason why I accepted the position of Independent NPC . ”
“The reason that Teacher agreed to become an Independent NPC?”
“Correct . The name of that dimension is the Desert of Death . It’s not difficult to go there as everyone knows about it . Now, you should go . ”
“Yes, Teacher . ” Sila entered into the inner room, and the leftmost capsule slid open . Half of the capsule was filled with a glowing green liquid .
Joshua’s voice came from the speaker at the corner of the room . “Put the helmet on and press the button on your collar . When you’re finished, connect the cable on your helmet to the oxygen tank within the capsule, insert your card into the red hole, and lie down in the capsule . ”
Sila followed Joshua’s instructions . His clothing was insulated, so he wasn’t aware that the liquid was freezing cold . Once his body was submerged into the liquid, the capsule closed itself and Joshua continued to type something on the keyboard . Soon, Sila’s consciousness entered the game .
The remaining two people stood by the monitor . Joshua removed his glasses, revealing his attractive face . “He has grown into a fine man and become a lot stronger . When he shook my hand, it seemed he could sense that I have a lot of inner force . ”
Mora still didn’t take his eyes off the capsule next to Sila . “Won’t you tell Sila the truth? That you are his last relative? . ”
“I guess not . I was a part of the project when my brother-in-law fell into a coma; I think it’s safe to say it’s my fault Sila’s father passed away . As a side note from me, Sila already has another relative . Mora, you are both a good father and a teacher to him . ”
“That was in the past . With Sila’s personality, he won’t . . . ”
“Even if Sila won’t blame me, I still blame myself . Everything started because of my selfishness . ”