Burapha carried various items on his back as he followed Sila and Bluebird . The air became colder and the freezing sensation entered his thick coat like the last time he had traveled to the north before . His sweat started freezing, making him feel frosty as the journey went on . Soon, he was quivering from extreme coldness like he was swimming in a pond that was just above freezing point .
Bluebird and Sila came to a stop in front of an open area that only had an ancient stone archway . Burapha had gone beyond this area the last time he tried traveling to the north . The ancient arched entrance was like a landmark telling travelers that they were about to enter the vast snow region in front of them .
“Why did you two stop?” asked Burapha . He took a heat stick out from his backpack, snapped it to make it glow, then tossed it inside his coat . With it, he felt slightly warmer .
Sila turned to Burapha and shook his head . “I don’t know . Bluebird just told me to stop . ”
Both of them stared at Bluebird who kept checking the time via his system window . Then, Bluebird turned and started to speak .
“When I run past the arched entrance, you two will have to run after me, okay?”
Sila just got a proper look at the arched entrance . He exclaimed, “Eh? This is?”
He took a detour around the entrance, looking at it from different angles . Burapha was curious, so he did the same . However, he couldn’t see anything strange about it .
“Sila, did you notice?” asked Bluebird .
Sila nodded . “I’m not sure what it is, but the scene I get from looking through the entrance is strange . Like, there is a crystal cave behind it, though it is very blurry . ”
Burapha, on the other hand, could only say, “I can’t see anything, Big Brother . There is only snow . ”
“That’s remarkable for you to see it that clearly . I bet you have some skills or items that enable you to see through illusions,” Bluebird replied to Sila .
“Oh, right . I do have one like that . It’s a racial skill—Moon Reflecting Mirror . ” Sila nodded .
He almost forgot that Moon Reflecting Mirror had such a passive ability . Fortunately, after his talk with Dark Self, he started paying more attention to what he had, especially to his slime-race skills which were enhanced by Monster Heir . In fact, it might be thanks to Monster Heir that he could see through illusion, since it improved Moon Reflecting Mirror . It was not an exaggeration to say that most illusions wouldn’t work on Sila anymore if he knew where to look .
“To have this kind of ability, the slime race is awesome . Compared to me, my merpeople race is not well-versed in combat . My racial skills are also mostly related to water . ”
“What about the ultimate racial skill? You should be the only one playing as a merperson,” asked Bluebird .
“I don’t even know the name of the skill . The Sea King told me I still lack the qualifications to use it . ”
Sila encouraged Burapha . “Usually, to obtain good skills, we have to finish some quests to unlock their true potential . Take my slime-race skills for example . All three of them had useless abilities in the beginning . However, after I passed the Way of Slime’s ordeal, they are all excellent skills . ”
Burapha felt slightly more motivated . He asked Bluebird, “In the end, what are we waiting for, Big Brother? What is the illusion about?”
Bluebird kept watching his system window as he answered Burapha’s question . “It’s a shortcut to Belacia City . Instead of having to spend five days traversing the vast snowfield, we can arrive at the Winter Forest in one day if we go through the cave . ”
“Eh? Isn’t that super convenient?! I spent a week just to reach the snowfield last time! Why didn’t you tell me before?” Burapha asked, sulking .
“Did you ask me? All I saw was you asking for information from Swan . Geez, you still have no idea that most secrets in Monster Soul were discovered by me, Sir Bluebird . Swan is just an administrator . She only knows general information . Well, she is more well-known than me because of that . ”
For the record, Bluebird had discovered this secret route long ago when he was searching for information regarding Monster Soul’s northern region . However, Yardpirun believed that a secret is only valuable when it is still a secret . Belacia City was a difficult city to conquer . If this information was leaked, the city would lose an edge and be significantly easier to raid . Thus, she ordered Bluebird to keep this to himself .
“When can we enter?” asked Sila .
“We will have to wait until the exact moment that it opens . In the beginning, I thought it opened at random intervals . However, when I researched it, I found that there is a pattern . I will test my theory today . ”
“When will the door open, then?” asked Burapha, to which Bluebird checked the time again .
“Based on my calculations, it will open in five, four, three, two, one, zero!!” Bluebird pointed his finger at the entrance .
Unfortunately for Bluebird, nothing happened .
“Nothing happened,” said Burapha, breaking the awkward silence .
“That’s weird . . . ” Bluebird was talking when the entrance started shining faintly . The scene behind the entrance transformed into the interior of a cave with crystals embedded in the walls, like Sila had described .
“See?!! Hurry up! I don’t know how long it will stay open for . Sometimes it stayed for only a few seconds and sometimes it lasted for a few minutes,” Bluebird shouted before rushing through the entrance, Sila and Burapha close behind .
Once they were inside, Sila looked back and saw that the gate was still open . Bluebird let out a sigh of relief and headed into the cave .
The interior of the cave was extremely spacious . It was enough for a big caravan to comfortably pass through . Burapha admired the scenery and went to knock on one of the glowing crystals .
“What a beautiful cave . What are these crystals? The way they glow is pretty . ”
“Soul Crystals,” Bluebird said nonchalantly, to which Burapha opened his eyes wide .
“Soul Crystals?!! You mean the super rare item that can elevate the rank of weapons made of Orichalcum?!” Burapha’s voice echoed through the cave . Bluebird had to block his ears .
“You don’t have to shout . Yes, they are those Soul Crystals . ”
Burapha rubbed one of the crystals . “Why aren’t you excited? Don’t you know how rare they are?”
“No matter how rare they are, they are useless without Orichalcum . In addition, you can’t take them with you no matter how much you desire them . You can only admire their appearance . ”
“Why is that? What if we break some off to take with us?” Burapha placed his backpack down and started searching . He wondered if he had prepared a pickaxe with him .
Bluebird let out a sigh . “No need to find a digging tool . Sila, try taking one of them . ”
Sila was enjoying the beauty of the pale blue crystals, each with a soul residing inside . Hearing Bluebird, he approached the side of the cave . The souls in the nearby crystals shook and emitted a brighter glow as the Mechanical Evil God’s Protection, the armor made of Orichalcum, moved closer . Sila extended his hand, grabbed onto one of the crystals, and removed it from the cave wall .
“We got one,” Burapha said delightfully .
Bluebird shook his head . “Just wait and see . ”
As soon as Bluebird finished speaking, the soul residing in the crystal Sila was holding left the crystal and flew into another one on the wall . The crystal in Sila’s hand became an ordinary stone .
“What happened?” asked Burapha .
Bluebird knocked the Soul Crystal behind him . “These souls can’t leave this place without the Fairy Queen’s permission . ”
“The Fairy Queen?” asked Sila .
Bluebird pointed his finger toward the deeper part of the cave . “Follow this path, and we will have to pass through the Fairy Kingdom—the place where fairies live . The Fairy Queen is the Emperor Rank monster residing in that kingdom . ”
Sila asked in a hurry . “Isn’t that dangerous?”
“No, the fairy race living in the kingdom is very friendly . They even welcome visitors with open arms . There are two things you need to keep in mind though . First, always check the time . Second, don’t stay in the kingdom for longer than a day . ”
“An entire day? What if we stay longer than that? What will happen?”
“I don’t know, but there is a warning sign in front of the kingdom’s entrance . I also don’t know what will happen if we stay too long,” replied Bluebird .
“One day is quite long anyway . Since they will give us a warm welcome, how about we take some rest before continuing our journey the next morning?” Burapha proposed the idea . He took a liking to this cave since it was a lot warmer than outside .
Bluebird refused . “No, you can’t . It’s dangerous to stay there . As far as I have noticed, our perception of time will be distorted inside the Fairy Kingdom . If we don’t constantly check the time, an hour can instantly pass . If you sleep, a week may pass when you wake up . ”
Sila had experienced changes in the flow of time when he stayed in the Desert of Death, so he nodded . “I agree . We shouldn’t take unnecessary risks . Our objective is to arrive at Belacia City as fast as possible . ”
Bluebird continued to lead the way to the deepest part of the cave, closely followed by Sila and Burapha . The three of them no longer conversed anymore, the idea of losing time having killed the mood .
Soon, Sila sensed a life force ahead of him, so he blocked Bluebird from advancing .
“Someone is there, ahead of us,” Sila whispered .
Burapha tried to release his psychic power to detect up ahead, but the cave disturbed his psychic power by echoing it around . Therefore, he felt extremely confused and wondered how Sila could achieve the feat .
Similar to Burapha, Bluebird couldn’t detect anything . However, he sent a small tailorbird to investigate the area and nodded at Sila’s statement .
“There really is a player ahead of us, and they seem to be unconscious . Anyway, this is strange . ”
“How is it strange, Big Brother?” asked Burapha .
“There is only one entrance . If this player entered the cave the last time the gate opened, they should have arrived at the Fairy Kingdom already . ”
“Maybe they got lost?” Burapha whispered back .
Bluebird shook his head . “Did you see any intersections? We went straight from the entrance up to here . There is no way someone can get lost . The Soul Crystals are always glowing, so there is no way they couldn’t see where they were going either . ”
“We have to go through anyway . Just be careful,” warned Sila .
Burapha and Bluebird agreed with him . Sila became more vigilant and slowly walked forward while Bluebird transformed into a tailorbird in order to become a smaller target . Bluebird, in the tailorbird form, flew and perched on Sila’s shoulder . Lastly, Burapha took out the Eastern Sea Evil Lance . However, with a large backpack on his back, his movements looked rather sluggish .
The three of them headed forward slowly . It took them less than five minutes to see the person lying on the cave floor . Based on his attire, he seemed to be a qi type player . Several parts of his body were covered in a thin layer of ice . His clothing was ragged, indicating it had gone through many hardships . His body was subtly moving up and down based on the rhythm of his breathing .
“This is—!” Bluebird and Sila exclaimed simultaneously .
“What is it?” Burapha asked quietly, feeling tense .
Bluebird said, “Nothing . I was just surprised because it seems like he is just sleeping normally . ”
“Dang . . . Here I thought you were about to say something important . You too, Big Brother Sila?” Burapha complained .
Sila replied, “No, what I want to say is . . . Based on his clothing and his back, I think I have seen this person before . ”
Bluebird and Burapha stared at the person whose face was against the floor . They indeed felt this person looked rather familiar . Burapha tried using his lance to poke at the man once, which worked . The man sprang up from the lying position .
“Hm? Did I fall asleep?” His voice was also familiar . Once the man turned his head, the three of them instantly recognized him .
“You . . . Lomyok . Why are you here?” asked Burapha .
The Deity Lomyok in his green clothing swept his eyes, scanning through everyone . “Oh, Sila and . . . you two . I beg your pardon . I don’t remember your names . ”
Lomyok stood up and swept the dust off his clothing . Although his body was covered in dirt, his face was exceptionally clean . It was as if he had put special effort into preserving his looks .
“I didn’t expect you to track me to this place . Actually, you could have just asked me directly . ”
Sila repeated Burapha’s question . “Lomyok, why are you here?”
“Hm? Sila, did you get a haircut? You look better this way . I have been thinking that a shorter hairstyle would suit you more . I always know that you have the potential to be more handsome . As expected of my rival . ” Instead of answering, Lomyok nonchalantly went off topic .
“Oi, how did you get here?” asked Bluebird .
“I simply came here to search for clothing worthy of being worn by me . When I heard there is the best, most elegant clothing in the Fairy Kingdom, I instantly knew that it was made just for me . I lingered around the arched entrance which is rumored to lead to the Fairy Kingdom, and, suddenly, I got into this cave before I knew it . As my rank is only Squire, I exhausted my qi and fell asleep . ”
Lomyok didn’t seem to mind the fact that his rank was demoted to Squire Rank even though it would be the most devastating thing for any other player .
“To put it simply, you were lost,” Burapha summarized .
“Considering my handsomeness, I have never lost my way . I always walk on the paths that destiny leads me down, and my destinations are decided by fate . ”
Sila turned to Burapha and gave him a blank look . No matter how he tried to interpret Lomyok’s statements, it sounded like getting lost .
Lomyok headed into the deeper part of the cave, to which Burapha asked, “Where are you going?”
“Hm? I’m going to the Fairy Kingdom, obviously . Let’s go separate ways . Thanks for waking me up . ”
The three of them looked at each other . Sila said to Lomyok, “We have to go past the Fairy Kingdom as well . ”
“Aha! I caught you . You want to follow me, the handsome one . Fine, fine . Come and follow me . I won’t mind . ”
“Erm . . . We really have to go that way . We have absolutely no intention of following you,” Bluebird replied .
“Fine, fine . Everyone always says that . I really don’t mind . Just don’t try to get a piece of me . I don’t want injuries on my face . ” Lomyok shrugged and continued to roam inside .
Sila, Burapha and Bluebird didn’t know what to do with Lomyok . Unfortunately, this route was the only shortcut to arrive at Belacia City, so they had no choice but to go after him . They even all thought that if they had known beforehand that they would bump into Lomyok, they might’ve instead chosen to go through the snowfield .