Chapter 194: The Desert of Death
The sun went down as it had worked hard all day, while the moon rose up to replace it . The moonlight shone down beautifully in unison with starlight, helping travelers in the lifeless desert as if it was an illuminating lamp in the night sky .
After Sila, Sebastian, and Lookhin left Zhongsuyuan City, they traveled west . As Sebastian was weaker this time, their traveling speed was slower than usual . Normally they would’ve arrived in the afternoon, but they had taken three more hours than planned and it was now the evening .
“We should stop here, sir . We are close to the desert,” said Sebastian .
“Actually, Sebastian, you could let me and Lookhin go ahead and summon you later when we arrive . You didn’t have to travel along with us at all . ” Sila took a break for the second time, waiting for Sebastian to alleviate his fatigue .
“The desert is a special dimension, sir . I’m not sure if I’m allowed to enter if we don’t travel together . Better to be safe than sorry, sir . It is best we go in together . ”
Sila nodded before feeding Lookhin, who didn’t show any sign of fatigue, completely different from Sebastian who was breathing heavily and drinking a stamina potion .
“Are we near? Where is the desert?” Sila tried to look for some sign or landmark that could help them figure out where they were .
The scenery was a wasteland with patches of sand and few trees to be seen . It seemed they had reached the point where a wasteland and a desert met, though Sila couldn’t tell whether he was already inside the Desert of Death or not .
“I have been here three times, sir, but the furthest I could reach was at this spot . I couldn’t go any further no matter how I tried . I suspect the dimension prevents monsters from entering without a human companion . ” Sebastian pointed his finger at a big boulder . “Ahead of that boulder will be the Desert of Death’s territory, sir . ”
Sila approached the boulder and found that there were characters engraved on it . The characters were partially covered in sand, so he took a few moments to clear it away before reading the message .
“One must abandon all hope when pressing forth . Your wish will come true only offering up something of equivalent price . ”
Sebastian walked up to him . “When I stepped past this boulder, the dimension would always reject me . Based on the information I acquired in Zhongsuyuan City, only humans can enter the desert, sir . However, everyone who has entered died and forgot everything they experienced in the desert, except a lingering fear that prevented them from returning . It is the second most mysterious place in this world . ”
“And where is number one?” Sila couldn’t help but be curious .
“It must be the Monster Realm, sir . There are several myths and local legends about that place, though nobody knows where it is or how to get there . ”
“Don’t worry, Sebastian . I will surely bring you back to meet Joshua,” said Sila .
“I’m forever grateful, sir . ”
After Sila summoned Illuminus, Sebastian came to know that he must have met Joshua . They talked for an hour and Sila learned that Joshua was once Ramiel and Sebastian’s master . Based on Sebastian’s expression, Sila could tell that Sebastian regretted missing the chance to meet his old master, even though it was an encounter that only lasted a few seconds .
Sila’s interest returned to the boulder . “How can we be sure that when we step past the boulder, it won’t be just me that enters the dimension while the two of you are left here?”
“In order to make sure that we can enter together, I think you should seal Lookhin and I within your armor, sir . We are your pets anyway . You can release us after you are within the dimension . ”
Sila nodded . He was aware that Sebastian didn’t like being sealed, and as such had never sealed him before . Since he was willing to be sealed this time, Sila could tell that the butler desperately wanted to enter the desert .
“Seal Lookhin in the first slot and Sebastian in the third slot . ”
Sila invoked the command, and both of them turned into balls of light that got absorbed into the armor . The three smaller circles now showed illustrations of a great sparrowhawk, an android arm, and a grim reaper respectively . The middle circle was empty since he and Mamon were too far apart . Most of the armor’s abilities were inactive, except for the matter storage and automatic cleaning .
Sila stepped forward firmly, moving past the boulder . He didn’t abandon all hope like it told him though . Instead, his heart was filled with hope . He expected a lot from the special training place that would grant him more time to catch up to Montra . Furthermore, Mora’s gift must be somewhere in the vast desert . Aimlessly walking seemed like a waste of time, but Sila firmly believed that Mora must have planned something for him .
After he had walked three steps past the boulder, Sila couldn’t spot any difference except for the fact that the area was especially sandy . In the end, once the number of steps he had taken reached ten and he looked back, he couldn’t see the boulder anymore . He was now in the middle of a desert where all he saw was sand .
It was a cold and lifeless desert with the sound of the wind as his only companion .
“Release Sebastian . Release Lookhin . ”
Both balls of light shot out . Lookhin perched on Sila’s shoulder while Sebastian was looking around with excitement .
“We have already entered, right?” asked Sila .
“Probably, sir, since the boulder disappeared . ”
“Now, the problem is finding the sword and the God of Death . ”
Sebastian continued to look around for clues, but nothing could be seen except sand . He brought out a compass that he had prepared and found that the needle was spinning non-stop .
“As expected,” said Sebastian . He hadn’t expected it to work in the first place, but figured it was worth a shot .
“Anything?” Sila asked while taking out an astronomy book he bought from a scroll shop . He used it as a reference to find a direction using the positioning of the stars .
“No, sir . If it was me from before, I would be able to use a spell to sense the God of Death’s presence . However, as we are now, I think we will have to use our backup plan . May I ask if Lookhin is full?”
Sila lifted up Lookhin, which slapped its belly using its wing . In order to proceed with the backup plan that Sebastian had thought of, Sila had to feed Lookhin a tremendous amount of food, comparable to what Bluebird could eat in an entire week .
“Let me summarize our situation, sir . We are now unaware of our current location, and the compass doesn’t work . We know what we are looking for, but don’t know which way we need to go to find them . ”
Sila finally found the north star . It was on his left, which was bizarre because he had entered the desert from the east . The north star was supposed to be on his right .
He said, “Since we came from the east, we should go further to the west and go deeper into the Desert of Death . ”
Sebastian shook his head in disagreement . “I don’t think that will be the best course of action, sir . Directions in the desert seem to be confusing . I suggest we set up a tent near this spot and find the whereabouts of what we are looking for first before going any further . ”
The three of them went to the tallest sandhill nearby and found that they were completely surrounded by an ocean of sand, that stretched out toward the horizon with no end in sight .
Sila set up the two tents he had bought from the item shop in Zhongsuyuan City . They were designed for use in sandy areas . Once he set them up, the canvas spread and their legs shot down and dug deeply into the sand before connecting underground . As a result, the tents became sturdy and firm .
Sila and Sebastian stretched the canvas and finished setting up the tents . At the very least, they had shelter from cold wind and strong sunlight now, though they weren’t sure the tents would stand up against a sandstorm .
Meanwhile, Lookhin was accumulating its power, following Sebastian’s instructions .
“You can start now, Lookhin . It should be enough,” said Sebastian .
Lookhin flapped its wings and its magic power materialized into a big glowing green ball hanging in the night sky, the moon as its backdrop .
Lookhin collapsed on the sand, and Sila hurriedly helped support it by transmitting his power to alleviate its fatigue .
“Lookhin, eat this . ” Sila handed Lookhin special pet food, which could recover stamina, that he had purchased from a pet shop .
Lookhin let Sila feed it two or three pieces of pet food until its eating speed accelerated, which Sila couldn’t keep up with anymore . In the end, Sila had to take out all the bags of pet food he had purchased and piled them on the sand, letting Lookhin feast without restraint .
Then, Sila walked to Sebastian, who was looking at the green, glowing ball floating in the sky .
“Is it a success?” asked Sila .
“I’m not sure, sir . Usually, it’s impossible to alter the result of a magic spell . Only the dragon race has that kind of ability . Thankfully, Entomomageia is a unique spell in that the result can be altered, though its downside is that the spell always has to start from a small unit before becoming larger . We don’t want to waste time so we let Lookhin forcefully create a large unit, which was a contradiction . It seems we will have to wait longer before it will yield a result . ”
Sila took a side glance at Lookhin . “Sebastian, I believe you said that, during this period, Lookhin can’t use magic at all?”
Sebastian nodded . “Yes, sir . Although Lookhin can move freely, the laws of magic still apply . Now, Lookhin is in the process of incantation . This is the weakness of magic-type beings . While we are casting a spell, we can’t cast another spell unless we cancel the previous spell first . Therefore, it is crucial for magic-type beings to master the art of magic delay . By the way, there are exceptions to this rule . For example, the fairy race possesses the ability to cast two spells simultaneously, sir . ”
Lookhin still hadn’t stopped eating . It seemed it was really tired from using such a spell .
“You don’t have to be worried, Mister Sila . Even though we magic-type beings can’t cast spells while incanting, we can still use support skills like magic power reinforcement . In Lookhin’s case, it can even use qi or psychic power during this period of time . ”
“But Lookhin doesn’t have other skills like magic power reinforcement, does it?”
“Since it has become Lord Rank, it can develop such skills, sir . It has to be in a human form to do so though . Why don’t you order it to transform, sir? I will help Lookhin develop skills . ”
Sila turned his head to Lookhin . “Lookhin, use Transformation . ”
Lookhin stopped eating for a brief moment . It shot its eyes at Sila before continued eating . Sila inspected its status and found that Lookhin’s Affection Level was currently 45%, which proved to be not enough for it to follow Sila’s command .
“It probably takes some time . ” Sila sighed . “Well, we just got there . Better take it slow . ”
“Sounds good, sir . I will use this time to practice my magic power reinforcement . I really don’t like the feeling of being weak . ”
“Oh, right . Sebastian, please take these . ” Sila handed Sebastian two scrolls, which the butler took with curiosity .
“What are these scrolls, sir?” Sebastian opened one of them to read the contents .
“I went to a scroll shop today . Actually, Sebastian, you have always had a weakness in close-quarter combat . As you have to start over, I think it is better if you fix your weakness in the process . I wrote one of them personally, and the other scroll is what I selected and purchased for you . ”
Sebastian read one of the scrolls with a delighted expression . It was a scroll about a weapon art named Subjugating Halberd . As Sila couldn’t find a scroll that taught how to use a scythe, he decided to pick one which most resembled it .
Subjugating Halberd was a halberd art focusing on aggressiveness and speed more than complexity . It would be suitable for Sebastian, who preferred being on the offensive . The price of the scroll was as high as 100 gold .
The second scroll was an empty scroll which Sila bought for 5 gold . He used it to write down one of the styles of Nine-Styles Weapon Subduing Art, Bone Claws . Not only was this style vicious and quick, but Sila also remembered Sebastian always tended to use claws in melee combat . Thus, he thought it would suit Sebastian’s fighting style . If Sebastian mastered this art, when his opponents chose to close the distance to avoid his spells, they would die foolishly under Sebastian’s claws .
“This . . . I don’t know how to return your favor . . . ” muttered Sebastian .
“No need to return any favors . Just become stronger and we can spar together . ”
Sebastian entered one of the tents, leaving Sila with Lookhin, who seemed to already be full, curling on the sand .
Sila carried the sparrowhawk to sleep inside the other tent . Then, he left the tent as he didn’t want to disturb Lookhin’s sleeping time .
Sila hung a lamp on a pole, creating a light, and took out several scrolls to place on the sand . These scrolls represented his own arts .
As he had expected, the system didn’t consider Nine-Styles Weapon Subduing Art a single art . As a result, he had to divide the art into nine scrolls . He wanted to look at them from an outsider's perspective .
“Although Montra’s Heavenly Destiny Fist is complex and contains several moves, it is still considered a single art because it has a clear, single concept . As for my art, each style doesn’t share a core concept and instead stands alone . If I want to fix it, this is where I have to start . ”
Sila took out a sheet of paper, which he purchased from a scroll shop . Thinking about it, it was funny when he decided to buy it and the shop owner dissuaded him . The shop owner’s attempt was like he was trying to stop Sila from ending his life . Nevertheless, in the end, he couldn’t stop Sila from following his firm beliefs .
“Just like what Teacher Mora told me . It’s really easier to do anything in Monster Soul . Even canceling my core power is as easy as tearing a sheet of paper . ”
Sila tore the paper in his hand . Immediately, the system notification warned him .
You have used Erasing Talisman . By using it, your base power will be permanently deleted . In your case, Yin Yang Energy - Transcendent rank will be deleted . The process is irreversible . Please think carefully before you proceed . Do you confirm your action?
“Confirm . ”
Sila replied without hesitation . He was confident that the price he paid today would turn into a strong foundation for him in the future .
The system informed him that his skill, Yin Yang Energy, had been deleted . Sila tried to circulate qi and found that he had to start building up inner force from scratch .
He smiled before unrolling two of the scrolls in front of him . One of them was Five Elements Scroll and the other one was Heaven’s Decree Book, opened to the page regarding Profound Qi Circulation Art .
“I will have to start with these two . ” Sila inhaled deeply and began to build up his qi slowly but firmly .