Chapter 170: Upheaval in the Pine Tree Garden
In the dim light of the stars in the dark night, the pine trees could be seen swaying softly as a gentle wind blew past . Sila looked up into the sky, taking in the sights, as if the current situation had nothing to do with him . He was trying to pull himself out of the atmosphere so that he wouldn’t make any noticeable mistakes . After all, he wasn’t supposed to be Sila right now .
“Who are you?! Coming alone, huh? Do you think you are cool or something?”
Sila’s eyes gleamed with qi, mysteriously illuminating within the darkness of his hood . He replied curtly, “I don’t care about pieces of trash like you . Get out of my sight while you still breathe . ”
From the opposing side’s point of view, even though this man looked prideful and scary, he was still alone .
Spotting an opening, a man behind Sila started taking action .
“Die, you arrogant fool!”
Sila didn’t even bother glancing behind him . He placed his full trust in the ones assisting him from the shadows .
Suddenly, the man collapsed and his body was engulfed in flames . A coin-sized hole could be seen in his chest .
“What?! What is happening?” the leader of the team exclaimed .
“This is my last warning . . . If you have no attachment to your lives anymore, then come, all of you,” Sila said softly .
One of the men expressed their suspicions . “Was it Yizichan?”
Everybody in their team thought the same . However, the most bizarre thing was the fact that the man in the black coat didn’t move even the tip of his finger . Could he display such power without them realizing anything? If that was the case, this man would be too scary .
“Everyone, be careful . This man is skilled in one way or another . Use Auror Formation!” The leader shouted, and his men obeyed by surrounding Sila . It was the same formation used against him in the restaurant . However, with the higher number of people, breaking out of the encirclement would be harder .
In addition, the players hit their weapons together, trying to disturb his concentration by creating loud noises . The sound couldn’t distract Sila’s attention in the slightest, though, since he wasn’t the one attacking . Instead of his opponents, most of his focus was put into observing Zeref, who was observing Sila in return .
The amount of psychic power radiating in the area was pressuring Sila more than the last time he faced these players . Under the mask, Sila knitted his brows . The combined power being emitted from this group was equivalent to a dragon . It seemed Montra’s secret task force was more exceptional than he had thought . More importantly, this was just one out of an unknown number of groups that Montra had taken under his wings .
Materialized swords hurtled toward Sila from all directions, putting him in the center of a storm of sharp blades . If he did nothing, he would obviously end up being cut into pieces .
Sila unsheathed the sword hanging at his waist and leisurely lifted it up .
Many players laughed . They had trained with swords for almost their entire lives, so they could easily notice that not only was this pathetic use of the sword powerless, but also slow and too easy to read, like a child swinging a sword .
However, their expressions changed as soon as the land shook, and pillars of flames burst up from the ground . The flames pierced through many players and instantly ended their lives .
Looking at the display of power, Sila believed that this was Lookhin’s doing .
“W-What? Where are they coming from?! Easy, guys! Continue with the formation!” The leader ordered, full of anxiety .
Meanwhile, Sila slowly swung the sword to his left .
Witnessing the sight, Zeref showed a slightly shocked expression and put more focus onto following Sila’s movements . He was certain he had witnessed such a seemingly simple sword movement before .
The flame pillars broke and scattered as numerous tiny swords, flying randomly, causing the formation to be broken . All of the players ended up in a state of chaos just trying their best to defend against the flying blades .
“He is alone! Just do whatever you can to attack him!!” The leader yelled, before parrying a pillar fragment and charging at Sila .
Sila calmly stepped forward as if he didn’t see any obstacles blocking his way . As for the sword that he had brandished just now, he planned to return it to the sheath . However, since he attempted that without looking and he wasn’t that familiar with sheathing a sword, he missed and the sword instead stabbed into the ground .
‘D-Damn . I messed it up . ’ Sila panicked but he couldn’t afford to let it show on his face . How could the renowned Sword Prodigy screw up something simple like sheathing a sword?
“He already put his sword down! Kill him!!”
The mistake had already been made, so Sila had to improvise instead of following the script in his head . He started using Stellar Wheel, relying on the pulling force to miraculously spin the sword around his wrist . In addition, the rotating force created wind around him, scattering the pine leaves on the ground .
In such a chaotic battlefield, some of the players were hit by unseen needles . These were poisonous needles hidden under Franz’s scales on top of her skin . Under the storm of pine leaves at night, they couldn’t see the needles at all . As soon as a needle pierced skin, it would explode . Though no players died, many of them fell victim to the needles and received injuries all over .
Sebastian and his monster friends needed to act secretly, so they couldn’t exert their full power . As the opponents were Marquis Rank, if their attacks didn’t hit the vital spots, none of them would die .
In fact, it was decided beforehand that the Sword Prodigy wasn't supposed to use poison nor hidden weapons, so Franz had a difficult time supporting Sila . If there wasn’t such a limitation placed on her, she would have already killed them all .
Nevertheless, Franz didn’t completely play along with Sila and Sebastian’s requests . As a gambler, she had a motto: it's not cheating if you don't get caught . Thus, she allowed herself to use poison as long as she didn’t get caught .
Soon, the players began to notice that drinking potions didn’t restore their health points . More importantly, their wounds that should have easily closed with the help of energy reinforcement refused to close up and instead continued to bleed . At this rate, their bodies would rapidly weaken and die .
Confirming that the storm of leaves had covered Zeref’s vision, Sila attempted to sheathe his sword yet again . This time, though, he secretly used pulling power to prevent the same blunder .
As the sound of his sword being sheathed echoed throughout the area, all of the enemy players fell to the ground at the same time . They were still conscious, but their bodies refused to move, as if bound by chains .
For the record, it was Sebastian’s doing . By using a spell, Soul-Eroding Blood Fog, he turned blood into mist and injected it back into the opponents’ bodies through their wounds and the air they breathed . Even though this spell wasn’t lethal, it was useful for torturing victims .
Everyone fell on top of either their friends’ bodies or pools of blood . Only Zeref and Tee Noi were safe, despite being within range of the battlefield . This demonstrated delicate control over the energy being unleashed, which was the Sword Prodigy’s prominent point .
Tee Noi’s body was still shaking behind his teacher, while Zeref fixed his eyes on Sila as if he wanted to see through the mask .
Sila stopped his feet in front of Zeref . His eyes gleamed with a powerful glow .
“Who are you?” Zeref stated a question .
“Who do you think I am?” Sila asked back . He wanted Zeref to come up with the answer on his own rather than listening to his revelation .
Human psychology was tricky . If one came up with the answer oneself, one would firmly believe that it was true . However, if the same answer was given by others, the human’s mind could hesitate before accepting it or even doubt that it is true .
Sila wanted Zeref to believe wholeheartedly in what he made him see .
“At first, I wasn't confident . Your swordplay differed a bit from what I had seen before, and your voice is not the same . However, by looking at your eyes, I’m now sure . You are the Sword Prodigy who went missing twenty or so years ago,” replied Zeref .
In his mind, Sila let out an imaginary sigh of relief . He mimicked Pumin’s old sword style from the texts inside the book without illustrations, so he wasn’t confident about it . However, in Zeref’s perspective, it was perfectly normal that the same sword style could result in different motions depending on the situation .
As for the voice, Sila had never heard Pumin before so it was impossible for him to mimic that . Nevertheless, it had been twenty-three years, so Sila was quite certain that there would be no way Zeref could remember Pumin’s voice . Even if he did remember, it shouldn’t be too weird that Pumin’s voice changed considering the passage of time . That was the reason why Sila deliberately used a mature, hoarse voice .
Unexpectedly, the deciding factor was his eyes . It seemed he inherited this pair of eyes from Pumin . This was the deciding factor in Zeref believing the deception . Pumin’s eyes were unique and charming . Everyone who had a chance to look directly into them could never forget such a pair of eyes .
‘Later, I will have to avoid eye contact with Zeref when I meet him out of disguise . ’ Sila engraved this into his memory . If he were to meet Zeref, he would have to come up with a plan .
“I heard that your teacher has died?” Sila continued the conversation with Zeref .
“After my teacher produced his last masterpiece, which is your sword, he died three years later . He told me that he wouldn’t ever produce a better weapon than that sword . One part of him was glad, yet another part of him felt regret . ”
Zeref intentionally omitted the name of the sword . Even though he was confident that the man he was talking to was the Sword Prodigy, he still had some doubt as to why such a person made an appearance after so long .
Sila could read Zeref’s doubt, so he deliberately mentioned the name . “About the Sila Sword, I have taken good care of it . Twenty-three years have already passed since that time, huh? Many people are all playing games now . ”
Zeref was relieved . The only ones who knew the name of the sword were his teacher, he himself, Orpheus, and Pumin . Of course, it was entirely possible that Pumin told someone later . However, based on the Sword Prodigy’s personality, Zeref believed that Pumin wasn’t someone who liked to brag .
“Technology is advancing with each day that goes past . In this world, even normal people can become supreme martial artists . When fighting, even if you make a mistake and die, you still have a chance to try again over and over . ”
“I know . I realized that once I tried the game myself . It’s a suitable place to become my stage . Unfortunately, I regret that I can’t seem to find a sword worthy of being wielded by me . . . That’s the reason I’m here today . ”
“I witnessed your battle just now and don’t think you need such a thing . At your level, any sword should be fine . There is no need for you to have a special sword at all . ”
Sila slowly unsheathed his sword and injected his power into it . Soon, the sword broke and its shards fell to the ground .
“There is no sword that can handle my power . At most, I can use only about thirty percent of my full strength . That’s why I want a sword produced by you . ”
The conversation between Sila and Zeref was heard by all of the players on the ground, except for the important parts like the name of the Sila Sword, which he deliberately blocked out .
Just realizing that the man in front of them was the Sword Prodigy, the legendary sword master whose name was mentioned repeatedly in all sword dojos, they seemed to be breathless . Moreover, just now, the man even said that the marvelous strength he had just shown was only thirty percent of his full power . They couldn’t help but shiver with fear .
“As far as I see it, your thirty percent is already peerless . Not many can stand a chance against you . Why do you still need a sword?”
“Because my thirty percent is not enough to fight against Mora’s full strength . I trained in seclusion for twenty years just for the sake of getting revenge against Mora . My Heaven’s Decree Sword Art must be the best of the martial world . ”
This story was a lie that Sila and Sebastian made up . Normal people thought that Mora was a part of the reason why Pumin went missing, and since Mora didn’t deny such a rumor, many martial artists in the underground world had always thought that there should have been some truth to this . The tricky part of this lie was the fact that Mora was fully aware that Pumin had died . Therefore, even if the new rumor leaked out and someone went to ask him, Mora would know that it was Sila’s doing . Since that was the case, Mora wouldn’t say anything to contradict his story . As a result, Sila’s made-up story would sound plausible .
“If such is your goal, you will surely be disappointed . As far as I know, Mora already quit playing this game . ”
“I know . But I heard that his main disciple is still playing . If his disciple is put into grave danger, he will come back . He is that kind of a guy . ”
This, too, was another reasonable excuse that Sila and Sebastian had come up with . Sebastian told him that if he decided to trick someone, he had to trick the others all the way to the core without leaving any details . Otherwise, people would wonder why the Sword Prodigy entered Monster Soul .
“But . . . that child is unrelated . . . ” said Zeref .
“I didn’t mean I will kill him . I just need to threaten to put his precious disciple in grave danger, and he will come fight me in this world . ”
Zeref looked straight into Sila’s eyes, but he still couldn’t read Sila’s real intentions .
Sebastian had told Sila that the art of lying was to mix the truth with a lie . Thus, Sila had been speaking in the manner of ‘True Is False, False Is True . ’ Even he himself was close to thinking that what he said was the truth .
“I . . . can’t produce a sword for you, sir,” Zeref revealed his inner thoughts .
Sila felt greatly disappointed . Both Orpheus and Zeref couldn’t produce a sword similar to the Sila Sword for him . He didn’t expect it to be such a difficult task . Now what? Does he have no choice but to use another sword as a replacement?
“Is that so? You too . . . ” Sila muttered .
Zeref sighed . “That’s not it . You are mistaken, sir . . . Thinking about it, this is what he intended . . . Mora is too scary . ”
Sila got his hopes up, but, at the same time, he frowned . “What do you mean? How is Mora related?”
Zeref continued to explain, “When the game had just launched, Mora came to request that I make him a sword . At that time, I wondered why he, who didn’t practise any sword art, would want a sword . Seeing that the sword Mora requested was similar to the last sword my teacher produced, I guessed that Mora might have seen this sword when he fought against you . A year later, after I finished crafting it and was about to deliver it to him, I asked him why he wanted this sword . Mora’s reply at that time was he must have it in order to wait for someone . Now, I finally understand . He let me produce the sword in preparation for the duel against you . ”
Sila shut his mouth . He noticed that Mora also had his own agenda, and it wasn’t a short-sighted plan like the one he had . Mora even placed a request for the sword one year in advance . Looking back, he was too naive . Even if his plan today ended in success, he would still need to wait a year before he could get his hands on the sword, and it would be too late .
Zeref added, “There is an in-game restriction among us craftsmen that prevents us from making copies of unique items, so I can’t produce one for you . I didn’t expect Mora to be aware of this restriction and requestone ahead of you . With this, you won’t have a replica of the Sila Sword . Mora is indeed sly . Only he knows where the sword is, so I’m at my wit’s end about giving you a suitable sword . ”
Sila thought about it for a while before bursting into laughter . “Hahaha . I see, I see . I think I know where he hid it . ”
“You know?” Zeref was surprised .
“Yes, I know . Anyway, thanks . State the price of that sword, I will pay it . ”
“About that . . . Mora already paid for the sword . You don’t have to pay me anything, sir . ”
“In that case, I will take my leave . ”
As expected of Pumin, he came and went as he pleased . Sila jumped once, sending himself onto the roof, before disappearing without any trace .
Zeref and Tee Noi looked up to find the man, but they couldn’t see him at all . What a terrifying speed, they thought .
Though, actually, Sila only jumped down to the other side of the building while changing his black long coat into his usual armor . He walked along and blended in with the crowd . Out of the corner of his eye, he saw members of the Victorious Wolves Sect arriving in front of the weapon shop . It seemed he made it out just in time .
Lookhin came flying and landed on Sila’s shoulder, and he slowly walked with the crowd . He had already moved on to thinking about his next destination . He remembered well what Mora told him right before he had logged back in .
“In Monster Soul, there is a special 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 . ”
It turned out that the gift was, in fact, a sword .