Sila and Sebastian watched Lookhin’s transformation with excitement . During the process, however, Lookhin twitched once and returned to the sparrowhawk form . Its eyes glowed green while magic particles of the same colour drifted around its body .
“What is happening?” Sila asked with concern .
“Oh? Look at that, sir . ” Sebastian pointed at Lookhin’s green ball made of magic in the sky . It was now blinking repeatedly . “I guess the spell has finally finished,” The butler said delightfully .
The green orb dissolved and rained down like grains of sand . However, looking closely, one would see that they weren’t sand but millions of extremely small scorpions .
They descended and quickly performed the duty they were assigned . They began to scatter in all directions, searching for any abnormalities in order to report back to their master .
“With this, we can just wait . It should only take a few days, or, at worst, a month before they find what we are looking for, sir,” said Sebastian .
“Honestly, I was almost discouraged that it would fail . Now, one of our problems is taken care of . Good job, Lookhin . ” Sila gently stroked its head .
“What would you like to do next, sir? We don’t know how long we’ll have to wait . ”
“I don’t think we have to hurry . The desert is very wide . Let’s continue practicing like usual,” proposed Sila .
“What about Lookhin, sir?”
“Umm . . . Lookhin, please try to transform again,” Sila ordered .
Lookhin fiercely glared at Sila, protesting that it was tired already, before curling up and going to sleep .
“Lookhin must be exhausted, sir . We should try again next time . Actually, the transformation almost succeeded just now . It was just bad timing, that the spell happened to finish and interrupt the process,” Sebastian explained .
Sila gently lifted Lookhin up and brought it inside a tent, preventing it from sleeping under the blazing sun .
“I will give you one more day, Lookhin . You have to transform tomorrow, okay?” He spoke in a soft voice, before exiting the tent .
When Sila got out, Sebastian had already gone back into his own tent . Under the sunlight, Sebastian preferred training his magic power reinforcement inside the tent . As a result, the area outside usually belonged to Sila .
Even though the sunlight was strong, Sila preferred practicing outside rather than staying in a narrow place . He approached the canvas and sat cross-legged underneath it .
“I have to start with the Attribute of Earth today . I can’t fail . ”
Sila half-closed his eyes and took deep breaths . He straightened his back and put both his hands on his lap before building up inner force like he had done every single day .
Based on the Five Elements Book, the human body consists of five elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood . All five elements connect and circulate throughout the human body and maintain a balance .
Most people separated elements of qi into two: the hot element and the cold element . However, as stated in Profound Qi Circulation Art, Pumin relied on the knowledge of Five Elements and separated qi into five elements instead .
Pumin speculated that each person was born with a certain affinity toward a single element, and even profound arts were deeply related to the concept of five elements . The reason why people found some arts easier to practice than others was a result of elemental affinity . People could easily learn or use arts with the same element as themselves, or at least those with elements related to their element . Thus, learning one’s own element and the opponent’s element was extremely advantageous .
This was the first Sila had ever heard of this . He always practiced without minding the affinity between himself and the art . It was only recently that he could comprehend the knowledge his father had left behind and dug deeper into the concept of the five elements .
His father was of the metal element . The power he possessed was simple, sturdy, and resolute . For him to circulate qi, it was best if he started at the lungs . As for Mora, he was someone of the fire element . The power he possessed was hot, intense, and stimulative . Thus, Flaming Cloud Qi, which had a qi circulation method that started at the heart, was the most suited to him .
On the other hand, Sila practiced qi arts by relying only on the textbook without sufficient comprehension . As a result, he couldn’t exert the maximum strength of each art .
There was a way to determine which element one had the most affinity with . With Profound Qi Circulation Art, one only needed to circulate qi one lap and notice the subtle differences in the accumulation of power between five organs .
One could also transmit a small amount of inner force into the opponent’s body to discern which element they had an affinity for . Nevertheless, with Pumin’s vast experience from traveling around the world, he was able to discern the element affinity of someone with just a glance .
Sila circulated qi throughout his body using Profound Qi Circulation Art . He noticed that his spleen could accumulate inner force easier than other organs, indicating that he was of the earth element .
Regarding the earth element, its strength was firm, erosive*, and instant** . It wasn’t strange that the nature of his psychic power, Dark Psychic Corrosion, revolved around breaking down whatever it touches . For Sila to circulate qi, the best starting position for him would be the spleen position .
*Author Note: Erosive is one of the aspects of the earth element . According to Profound Qi Circulation Art, everything in the world will inevitably return to dust and decay to become the soil .
**Author Note: Instant is one of the aspects of the earth element . According to Profound Qi Circulation Art, lightning is a part of the earth element because the earth absorbs lightning strikes .
As a result, the profound arts that Sila could learn and use easily were the arts of the earth element, like Poluk’s Genesis Punch which focused on unleashing power in an instant, as well as elements adjacent to earth in the cycle . For example, the fire-element arts like Flaming Cloud Qi and Nine Sun-Melting-Fists, or the metal-element arts like Profound Qi Circulation Art, Heaven's Decree and Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps .
Sila accumulated his inner force in his spleen . He was extremely confident that he could succeed in what he was about to do due to his affinity .
If he could tap into the power of the earth element, he would have an easier time tapping into the power of the metal element . From metal, he would be able to access water . Water would help him tap into wood, and then wood would assist him in using fire
Ultimately, the fire element would cycle back to the earth element .
Sila got the idea for elemental rotation from the application of Viola’s Orbiting Cosmos . It was an entirely different concept that even Pumin didn’t consider .
Originally, Pumin used Profound Qi Circulation Art to determine the opponent’s element and used his sword art to connect himself with the nature, borrowing power from the great flow to put his opponents into a disadvantageous position and defeat them .
On the contrary, Sila used Profound Qi Circulation Art on himself to temporarily change the element within his body, seizing the power of an advantageous element in order to defeat an enemy .
Since all elements connected to each other, theoretically, Sila’s idea should be practical . Once he mastered a single element, he should be able to rotate it and eventually exert the power of all elements, albeit only temporarily .
For Sila to develop such an eccentric qi, the most difficult part was the starting point . In any case, he didn’t randomly choose where to start . He decided to focus all of his inner force in his spleen, the organ of the earth element .
“Attribute of Earth,” muttered Sila . It was the name he had given to his first new move .
“The earth element refers to firmness . The core of using its power is to unleash the power in an instant . I have to accumulate enough inner force and unleash it all in one go . It will take only an instant to know whether I succeeded or failed . If I fail, I will have to start building up my inner force from scratch again . ”
Sila took a moment to imagine his future self, who successfully combined the use of an unconventional martial art and an eccentric qi art .
His formless martial art focused on movements that were hard to predict . If they were supported by his five-attributed qi, five of his punches that looked identical could hold any of the five elements, depending on Sila’s choice .
The fist thrown with the Attribute of Earth would be firm and hit the target in an instant .
The fist thrown with the Attribute of Metal would be simple, yet powerful .
The fist thrown with the Attribute of Water would be continuous and complex .
The fist thrown with the Attribute of Wood would be slow and mysterious .
The fist thrown with the Attribute of Fire would be intense and aggressive .
The fists were identical but imbued with different attributes . As a result, his opponents would be greatly confused by his attacks .
“Let me see if I have succeeded, or if I’m back to square one . ”
Sila took a long, deep breath . The very next second would decide his success or failure .
Sila unleashed the power from his spleen, exerting all of the inner force he had been accumulated in one go . His veins expanded and every cell in his body resonated . His body was clad with twice the usual strength . Now, what Sila had to do was to make his body remember the current sensation .
Sila started circulating qi from his spleen to his lungs, then to his kidneys, liver, and his heart respectively before cycling back to his spleen . However, his power output drastically fell instead of being stable . The longer he circulated qi, the weaker his inner force became and the more he lost in the process of qi circulation .
Sila was well aware that he had failed . The Attribute of Earth meant an instant . Since it didn’t succeed, he would have to start over .
Yet Sila refused to admit defeat . Even though he was aware that his action was useless, he forcefully exerted more power from his organs . He coughed up blood and his internal organs were damaged . His gaze was fuzzy and he felt pain all over his body . It was a clear symptom of qi deviation .
Sila fully opened his eyes, blood seeping down from the corners of them . His vision blurred and eventually all he could see was darkness . His health points continued to decline . He even lost the strength to take out a potion . He tried to call Sebastian for help but nothing came out of his mouth .
He was dying . Dying because of his own stubbornness .
“You knew you failed . Why did you still proceed?” A man’s voice entered Sila’s ears .
Sila tried to look, but his vision was dark . He couldn’t even sense the presence of the voice’s owner . Could it be that he had died? Could it be that the person talking to him was the God of Death?
The system notification still functioned normally, telling him that he indeed encountered the God of Death . It was the worst possible timing .
Monster Anubis, the Guide of Souls, Level 1,000 Emperor Rank, has appeared .
Those killed by Anubis will immediately respawn at the nearest rebirth zone . All the memories created since entering Bistem Desert will be deleted . All items and skills one acquired in Bistem Desert will be confiscated . In addition, the player won’t be able to re-enter Bistem Desert again for one year .
“Anubis,” Sila muttered . He tried his best to scream, to warn Sebastian and Lookhin .
There was no sound of footsteps, but Anubis’ voice was very close to Sila as if the distance between them was less than a meter .
“Both of your pets have fallen asleep due to my power . ”
“Let . . . them go . . . I . . . die . . . alone . ” Noticing that he could still negotiate with Anubis, Sila begged Anubis to kill him alone .
“With your statement, I am now aware that you value your pets’ lives over your own . Now, I have more pawns in my hand . Answer my question . Otherwise, I won’t kill your pets but will torture them without letting them die . ”
Sila coughed up a mouthful of blood . He couldn’t see anything, but he gritted his teeth and swung his fist, though all he hit was empty air .
“Don’t ever give away your weakness to your enemies . Remember it well . ”
Sila was pushed by an unseen force, knocking him onto his back . The sand transformed into chains, locking his wrists and ankles to the ground . Sila tried to summon his strength and break free, but to no avail . All he did was bring more pain to his wrists and ankles .
Amidst the darkness, Anubis repeated the question, “You knew you failed, so why did you still struggle? For you to exert the power of the earth element, it has to be done instantly . After the first second, if you don’t succeed, that means you have failed . It doesn’t matter how much you struggle . A failure is still a failure . ”
In the moment of crisis, Sila failed to notice how Anubis came to have knowledge regarding the earth element . He gave his answer to Anubis with a hoarse voice .
“I have no time . . . Montra is extremely strong . . . I have to race against time . ”
“Time is what the Desert of Death gives you . Didn’t your teacher tell you that?”
“Teacher Mora . . . ? Why do you . . . ?” Sila was extremely shocked . How was Anubis able to guess the contents of the conversation between him and his teacher in the outside world?
“So he did tell you . . . You are so stubborn, just like your teacher . ”
A small amount of power was injected into Sila’s heart . Just when he thought he was going to die, Sila noticed that the power was hot and warm . Once it entered his body, it began to heal his body and traveled through his spleen, and then his lungs . The power continued to cycle through all the organs of the five elements in his body . As it was healing him, it also stimulated Sila’s own healing, speeding up the process .
It was getting the most use out of the least power .
“The five elements always rely on each other . For you to open the gate of earth, you need to have support from the gate of fire, not doing it alone by yourself . Supporting each other is the principle of Five Elements . You don’t fight alone and your power doesn’t exist to be used individually . Remember it well . ”
Sila’s vision returned, though it was still blurry . He could see the appearance of a man in ancient Egyptian clothing with a sword behind his back . He tried to take a look at the man’s face and found that Anubis had a black jackal mask covering the upper half of his face .
“Build up your inner force again for at least two weeks . Don’t be impatient . You will waste more time if you act too rashly,” said Anubis .
Anubis took out the sword and stabbed it down into the sand before preparing to leave . The sword looked ordinary but Sila could identify it in an instant .
His eyes widened . Sila pulled himself up but collapsed right after . He extended his right hand and grabbed Anubis’ ankle .
“Wait . . . Don’t go yet . . . ” Sila’s voice was as light as a whisper . Suddenly, a feeling of drowsiness overcame him .
“ . . . Who in the world would try to stop the God of Death from leaving? Just let your body rest for one or two days . Once you wake up, you will be healthy . ”
Sila’s consciousness shut down . The last thing he saw was the shadow of the man’s broad back, who jumped forward without looking back .
Sila fell asleep next to the sword that looked like a common sword made of stone, though it shone brightly when the sunlight reflected on it . It was as if it was a valuable gem in the rough that had yet to be refined . . . similar to the person sleeping next to it .