Sebastian released a sigh of relief . He hid a pale blue thumb-sized lantern in his pocket before anyone could notice it .
‘That was close . It was fortunate that we could take care of them . Otherwise, I would have no choice but to rely on the Manifesting Soul Lantern . ’
If Mamon didn’t take care of the Ancient Magic, Sebastian would really have no choice but to use the lantern . Personally, he didn’t want to use it in front of his teammates since he wasn’t sure he could control what happens after activating it .
Exiting the Winter Forest, there was a white desolate landscape with some ruins which indicated that this area once used to be a grandiose city . There were half-destroyed structures and broken walls scattered throughout the snow slopes, showing traces of severe battles that must have taken place long ago .
“Welcome to Belacia City, the Borderless City where strong unaffiliated players gather,” Bluebird declared .
Mamon swept his gaze over the ruins . He picked up one brick among the rest to inspect as he said, “Sebastian . ”
Sebastian, who was thinking about other things, turned to Mamon . “What is it, sir?”
“I heard this human city can be raided by monsters regardless of time . I want to know if this area is one of the Monster Realm’s junctions . ”
The conversation brought everyone’s attention . The news regarding the Monster Realm started from Lucifer’s dialogues in Zhongsuyuan City . From then on, people began to search for clues related to the place called the Monster Realm . Soon, the game company released some information about it . It was a parallel world, yet on a higher plane compared to the New World where players lived .
The average rank of monsters in the Monster Realm is Lord while the average rank in the New World is Knight . The reason why the world where players currently reside is called the New World is because of the fact that the Monster Realm was the original world in Monster Soul . The game creator intended to test the monsters’ evolution, so he created several batches of Squire Rank monsters and set it that they could evolve at transcendent speed . Then, he exited the game and accelerated the flow of time by an astonishing degree; the time could be sped up since only monsters existed in the game . He entered the game to intervene from time to time in order to restore the game balance when it was needed . He repeated this process several times until it had been more than ten thousand years since he started .
Eventually, the game creator discovered that no human would be able to survive in the Monster Realm . He tried putting a lot of fraudulent items and useful quests into the game to make it easier for humans, then invited various famous people from different areas of expertise, both combat-oriented and normal careers, to test the game for a certain period of time .
The conclusion was worse than his imagination . The survival rate of even the first generation players, who were the best experts and professionals in different fields, was less than ten percent . The chance that common people could survive the Monster Realm would undoubtedly be a flat zero . The Monster Realm project was considered a failure at that time . Subsequently, the game creator duplicated the world before he put the monsters into it, and hired a team of expert game designers to properly handle the game creation process . Finally, the current Monster Soul Online was born .
The game creator let the first-generation players test the game again, and the feedback was divided into two . The first took a liking to the new version of Monster Soul since it was more thought out and playable, while the others said the new version lacked excitement; the world of monsters was supposed to be wild, hardcore, and reigned by the strong to suit the theme of the game .
Ultimately, the game creator decided to include both versions, namely the New World and the Monster Realm, in Monster Soul . However, he set up harsh conditions for players to be allowed to step into the Monster Realm .
Because of these strict requirements, in the two years since the game launched, not a single player had managed to enter the Monster Realm .
One of the conditions was for a player to search for a place where the two worlds overlapped, the so-called junction, in order to go past the gate to the Monster Realm .
Although the Main Continent was duplicated from the Monster Realm, the latter had gone through long years of great battles, which caused the environment to be tempered and undergo an intense transformation . Thus, the terrain was completely changed and there were not many places that remained overlapping .
The game company’s marketing department seized the opportunity to make an announcement about this piece of information as soon as people inquired about it . It piqued players’ interest and made them desperately search for clues . Even gamers who had already quit the game, believing that they had been to every corner of Monster Soul and encountered every kind of monster, came back to the game . As a result, Monster Soul Online, which always stayed at the sixth in the top ranking game, regained some of its popularity and shockingly jumped to the fourth place even though the competition in the virtual reality gaming industry was fierce .
Aside from taking notice of a bizarre change in environment, Sebastian was one of many other methods which could discern whether a specific location was a junction or not .
Similarly to what Mamon did, Sebastian picked up a brick to inspect it . “Hmm . . . I think this place really is one, sir . There is an intense smell of death in the air . Based on these ruins, this place is likely to connect to the Sunless City in the Monster Realm . ”
“The Sunless City? That’s great . Can you open the gate for me, Sebastian? I have been wanting to pay a visit to that place for a long time,” said Asura .
“The current me can’t do that . I have to get my genuine form back first . ”
“Can we also go there?” asked Bluebird .
“We, monsters, can go there without limitations, sir . We just have to go past the gate . However, for humans, I heard they can’t simply go there . They need to get permission from the Supreme Sage Altia, who is the master of the Hall of Omniscience, first . Unfortunately, I don’t know where the hall is located . I only heard that humans would be invited to that place once they are qualified, sir . ”
“Ow . It must be a chained quest . This is going to be troublesome,” Bluebird complained as he wrote down new information he acquired in his notebook .
“What kind of place is the Sunless City, by the way?” asked Sila . He was mildly interested since Asura seemed like he really wanted to go there .
“It is a dream-like land for us undead monsters . There is no day, only night . No living creatures stay in that place, only the dead . Just staying there will make us feel refreshed and our bones will look healthy . It is truly a good place,” Asura replied with a bright expression .
“Like hell that kind of place is good!! Who would want to go there?” shouted Franz .
“Yeah, it’s good for ghosts and undead creatures, similar to Hell . You are indeed knowledgeable,” said Asura . He didn’t know that Franz was being sarcastic .
Mamon wasn’t interested in the conversation . He simply memorized that this place was a junction for the Monster Realm . Once he got his hand on the Hell Jade, he would be able to summon his devil army through this place .
Burapha asked, “How long will it take for us to reach Belacia City, and I mean the place where people actually live . ”
“Not too far . If we hurry, we will reach there today . ”
“Is it safe?” asked Sila .
“Mn . There is nothing to be worried about . There will be one or two monsters raiding the city at a time though . ”
“Mn . That means it’s relatively safe, right? Then, Release Lookhin . ”
Sila released Lookhin out . The petite body emerged and looked around the place . She soon approached Sila and grabbed onto his sleeve . Sila gently stroke her hair .
Lookhin shifted her gaze to Mamon . She stared at him before tearing a bag of pet food apart and eating the food inside . Mamon didn’t respond to her actions . He just grinned and headed forward .
With Lookhin staying by Sila’s side, Franz had no choice but to unhappily step away and go back to walking alongside Asura and Sebastian . Meanwhile, Burapha approached Sila from the other side and exchange knowledge regarding martial arts with him .
Except for Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, Sila had no knowledge about other martial arts which focused on slowness . He explained his comprehensive version of the six techniques to Burapha, but it was up to him to grow using this information .
“Based on what I saw, your art seems to focus on defense . If you understand the application of the Stop, Weaken, Parry, Spin, Migrate, and Combine techniques, your ability to handle attacks will become more formidable, I’d say . ”
“What about what you said last time, Big Brother? You said I was too fast . I don’t get why being fast is a bad thing . ”
“Being fast and being slow have their individual strengths . I didn’t mean being fast is a bad thing . I just noticed that your lance art seems to be one that is more compatible with slow movements . ”
“If I am too slow to take action, how will I be able to fend off the attacks?”
“That’s why you need to read the opponent’s attacks in advance . Being fast means acting speedily while being slow means an act of unending changes between each movement . ”
Sila raised his hand and slowly moved it toward Burapha . Seeing Sila’s movement speed, Burapha raised his wrist and tried to block . However, no matter how much faster he moved, Burapha couldn’t touch Sila’s hand at all . In the end, Sila successfully placed his hand on Burapha’s shoulder .
“See? This is an example though . I’m proficient at bare-handed combat while you aren’t, so you had a difficult time coping . If you used your lance, you would be able to block my hand . Well, it’s your turn . Try attacking me . ”
Burapha nodded as he said, “Please be careful . ”
He didn’t dare to smack Sila’s in the face, so he threw a punch at Sila’s shoulder instead .
Rather than relying on his speed to dodge the incoming punch, Sila took the hit directly . The moment Burapha’s fist struck Sila’s shoulder, Sila relaxed his muscles and subtly shifted the angle of his shoulder . His inner force gently channeled through his veins and entered his muscles, completely canceling the power behind Burapha’s fist .
“This is the Weaken technique . I used my inner force, but if you can’t, you can achieve a similar feat through martial moves . The concept is letting yourself go with the flow of an impact . All experts can do this, and even common people can do it if they focus on defense . If your target just now was Kawin instead of me, he would even be able to borrow your power to counterattack you . ”
Kawin was a profound practitioner who focused on defensive martial arts . He possessed tons of martial moves to stop, weaken, and migrate the opponent’s attacks . In any case, Sila kept using the core part of Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws and relied on his soft qi to compensate for his lack of martial moves . Although he wasn’t in pursuit of a perfect defense, he still had a way of negating attacks .
Burapha jotted down Sila’s lines without leaving out any details .
Since the conversation centered around qi, Sila asked Lomyok .
“Lomyok, may I ask you whether you have attained the essence of qi? Also, which of Ten Supreme Qi do you want to have?”
This question piqued Bluebird’s interest . He also wanted to hear which of Ten Supreme Qi that Lomyok planned to use .
Lomyok replied, “Regarding the essence of qi, I only lack the condition of inventing my own qi to attain it . As for Ten Supreme Qi, I won’t use it . In any case, Qi of Little Fish has already infused itself in my body . If Qi of Little Divine Beings don’t fuse simultaneously, I won’t get one of Ten Supreme Qi . ”
“Eh? So you already know about all of that?” Sila asked, feeling surprised . He had planned to share his knowledge with Lomyok . He didn’t anticipate that Lomyok would already know .
“They were written on the same sheet of paper Montra gave me . There were warnings as well, that following the written instruction would result in being unable to obtain any of Ten Supreme Qi, since it described how to train each of Qi of Little Divine Beings in the most efficient sequence . By the way, I’m now learning Qi of Little Turtle . I will start training others once it has also been infused in my body . ”
“How does it work? Can you repeat said instructions?” asked Bluebird . He was ready to jot down the qi-type’s secret training .
“I must apologize . There is a line in the paper asking me not to share this knowledge with others until two years have passed . It has only been one and a half years since then, so I won’t tell you . This handsome one has never broken a promise . ”
“Eh? But . . . Montra is not a good person, you know? He was surely scheming something or laid down some traps . Following his instructions might lead you to severe qi deviation . If you tell us, maybe we can come up with a solution,” Bluebird tried to persuade him .
“That’s your opinion . I’m just an individual player who has neither true friends nor eternal foes . This world is a game where we pay money to enjoy our time however we please and do what we can’t do in the real world . Anyone can do whatever they want . It’s their freedom . ”
Sila was thinking about the time Montra set . To ask Lomyok not to share the secret for two years, that meant this information would be of little to no value for Montra after the upcoming war event . On the other hand, if someone got to know it prior to the time he set, it might cause some kind of trouble for Montra .
Bluebird gritted his teeth . Such delicious information was being dangled in front of him, so how could he easily give up on it? Finally, he decided to show his trump card .
“You know what? I know the identity of the destined monster for promoting the rank of your weapon . Maybe we can negotiate . ”
Lomyok didn’t seem to mind . “Telling me or not, it’s your own choice . Either way is fine by me . Ultimately, it exists somewhere in the game . As long as I keep traveling, I’m sure I will encounter it one day . ”
Bluebird was agape . “It may take you years to find it . Don’t you want to become stronger soon?”
“With the difference in the flow of time, we have more time on our hands in the game . I don’t see the point in hurrying . Adventuring is fun . Well, if I have to make a guess . . . With its thick white fur, I think it will be somewhere in this northern region . I have traveled to nearly every place in the south and the east but have never seen it . As for the west, the environment is quite hot, I don’t think it is a suitable environment considering its appearance . ”
‘Damn . This bastard is smarter than I thought . I never imagined that he would be this thoughtful . ’
Bluebird couldn’t believe his ears . A crazy person like Lomyok could accurately deduce the truth . Indeed, the monster was in the northern region . In fact, it even lived near Belacia City .
Bluebird’s mistake was due to him using time and strength as bargain chips . Both of these were worthless in Lomyok’s eyes . Furthermore, he forgot to take into consideration that Lomyok had traveled to most of the places in the New World . He could identify the distinctive features of each area to some degree . Most monsters in Monster Soul lived in suitable environments, so it was easy for him to deduce that a creature covered in thick, white fur most likely lived in the north .
“What about your own unique qi? What is keeping you from inventing it?” Sila wondered .
“Actually, there is no significant problem . I have already roughly come up with its concept and most of its features . There is only one missing part . Please take a look . ”
Lomyok took a sheet of paper out and showed it to Sila . Thinking that it was the paper with a secret regarding qi-types, Bluebird hurriedly poked his head in to read it . However, upon reading it, he frowned .
“Erm . . . Handsomeness Qi, Heavenly Beauty Qi, Deity-like Attractive Qi, Aesthetic Handsome Qi . . . What the hell is this?”
“It means I can’t decide on the name for my qi . ”
Bluebird furrowed his brows and left the conversation with his sullen mood . Sila swept over all the names and pointed at one of them .
“In fact, you can change the name whenever, so it doesn’t matter which name you choose . In any case, if you want my help, I think this name is the best . ”
Burapha followed Sila’s finger and said, “Oho . . . Lomyok Qi . Your naming sense is terrible, Big Bro . Please, just don’t . . . Let me have a look . ”
Burapha swept his gaze through the names as he explained, “A name is quite important, Big Brother . It can give off either an overbearing, majestic, or fearful impression . You don’t want to use an item with a lame name, right? It’s the same . In any case, the name should be in line with the characteristics or the attributes of your qi, Mister Lomyok . Since I don’t know its features yet, I will just pick a name which is a bit ambiguous . How about this one?”
Sila and Lomyok looked at the name Burapha pointed at .
Personally, Sila didn’t think it was different from the one he had chosen . Nevertheless, Lomyok seemed to be very satisfied .
“Oh, I see . This name is indeed great . It sounds as glorious as my graceful being and gives off a subtle vibe of ultimate nobility . So, from now on, I’m the Deity Lomyok, the master of the unique qi named God’s Grace Qi . My qi shall shine brightly like a child chosen by the heavens . ”
“Erm . . . Actually, I picked it simply because it was the only one among the rest that seems versatile . It was also the only one in the list without words like Lomyok, Handsome, Cool, or Beauty in their names . ”
“Okay . I have decided . I will use this name . Thank you, Brother Burapha . If you ever want my help, just say the word, and I surely will return this favor . ”
This was the first time Lomyok had called Burapha by his name . It seemed he could only memorize the names of those who he recognized .
All of them traveled the rest of the way with a bright mood . Sila had a chance to exchange his knowledge regarding qi with Lomyok while Burapha joined in the conversation . They had a good time together to the point where they lost track of time .
Three hours later, a small city surrounded by a row of short walls appeared before their eyes .
Sila and his team finally reached the actual Belacia City, the City of Guildless Players .