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Chapter 24: The Stone and the River - First Part

Sila circulated "Qi of Little Bird" while cutting through the sky, heading toward the south at a high speed. Strangely enough, Varee was always right beside him with equal speed no matter how quick he was. Two of them soared past many couples without being noticed. Well, if they were to be noticed; at the night time like this, they would only be seen as moving shadows on the tree.

Sila glanced at Varee. No matter how he looked at her, it was unlikely that she was a qi-type player. Thus, he was surprised by the fact that her speed could be comparable to him.

However, Varee herself also similarly impressed. How could Sila's speed be this high even though he just started playing the game recently? Although the speed she was at right now wasn't her top speed, it was quite fast.

"Which type of energy have you chosen, Varee?" asked Sila.

"I've chosen psychic type," answered Varee, "why do you ask?"

"Nothing in particular."

"You're wondering how my speed can compete with yours who chose qi type, right?"

Granted, Sila was intending to ask that exact question. But he thought that it might be Varee's personal secret so he decided not to.

"You didn't ask me because you're concerned that it might be my personal secret, no?" said Varee.

Sila frowned. He was wondering why this woman always precisely knew what he was thinking. Is it possible that psychic-type player was able to perform mind-reading? If that was the case, he should be careful of what he thinks from now on.

Varee saw that Sila didn't respond so she began to explain. "It's not a secret though, everyone in Main Continent knows how to move at high speeds like this. This game provides us very high degrees of freedom; no matter which energy type you've chosen, you would still be able to become a strong player.

"The skill I'm using is one of the principle psychics called "Slamming Psychic." Normally, it's a skill that can be used to attack opponents in close range, but I'm applying it to slam the ground whenever I jump to accelerate. Just so you know, for advanced player, one may be able to use it to step on the air."

Sila took a look at the tree branch that Varee had landed on - it really was broken.

If Varee was exceled in this skill, she would be able to perfectly control the force behind her feet and perform a movement that left no trace.

By the way, the branch that Sila used to jump into the air hadn't been broken. This didn't mean Sila's movement was greater than Varee's, though. It was simply because their movement used different concept.

For Sila, he used qinggong to control his weight to be close to zero upon landing and then used the branch to spring himself up; while for Varee, her weight was the same but she increased the force to push herself to move faster instead.
"On the other hand, for magic-type players, they would use spell to levitate themselves to move swiftly. The degree of freedom this game provides us is unexpectedly high, that's why it's quite popular."

Sila nodded as he understood, showing his gratitude to Varee.

"You're welcome," said Varee.

Afterwards, Varee remembered something and took a bottle of white pills out of her Window before handing it to Sila.

"What is it?" Sila received the bottle and asked as he couldn't see its description.

"Those pills inside are high-tier qi-recovering pills. Please use them wisely, they're very expensive."

"Hm? I heard that there's no qi-recovering item available for sales, isn't it?" Sila was skeptical as he heard that from Lucy.

"There's really none available in NPC shops, but these pills were made by a player. One bottle contains ten pills, each one of them should be able to recover 100,000 qi point."

"Qi point isn't shown in System Window, is it?" Sila asked again.

"If you System Window is C grade or above, it will display qi point and psychic point," answered Varee.

'C grade?' Sila immediately opened his System Window.

Player Status: Sila
Level: 620
Race: Pink Slime
Rank: Squire
Health Point: 678,000 / 678,000
Qi Point: 425,250 / 450,000
Psychic Point: 200,000 / 200,000
Magic Point: 360,000 / 360,000
Title Status: Nameless Elder's Main Disciple

Sila found out that his qi point really was displayed, although he would need four to five pills to fill it from empty.

Meanwhile, Varee was surprised to see Sila opening his System Window. 'Has he already upgraded his System Window to C grade? How did he get the money to do that?'

Sila closed his Window before turning his head to ask Varee.

"Where can I buy it? Also, how much is it?" Sila admitted that this item was very useful for qi-type player like him. Despite its recovery amount wasn't high, carrying some of them would be proven useful sometimes. Who knows when he will be in a situation where he can't spare his time and concentration to regenerate qi by circulation.

"You can purchase it at the main branch of Victorious Wolves Foundation. The one who made those pills is Hermit, the strategist of that guild. By the way, one bottle will cost you 10 gold coins."

Sila nodded and reminded himself not to forget to pay that place a visit; despite feeling that 1 gold coins per pill was a little too expensive. Anyway, he planned to carry two or three bottles of them with him.

In fact, since Varee had known that Sila was playing as qi-type player, she went to buy those pills from a merchant that made profit by reselling products from Main Continent in Beginning Island. By the way, this bottle was the most expensive one that Victorious Wolves Foundation guild sold to normal players. Needless to say, the ones that had higher quality than this one were only available for members within the guild.

In Monster Soul that there were few qi-typed players and they tended to be poor, Victorious Wolves Foundation which mainly consist of qi-type players still could be able to operate due to two main reasons: The strength of its leader and the profit planning ability of Hermit. The qi-recovering pallets were the main revenue of the guild, as they held monopoly of them.

Sila kept the bottle in his clothes. He had deposited all his gold coins so he was planning to pay Varee back once he had returned to the city.

Thirty minutes had passed and Sila and Varee finally arrived to Merpeople Village. Sila observed that all players were looking at the same location so he followed their line of sight.

The houses in the Merpeople Village looked just like a villa on the group of islands. What made them different from a typical villa was the fact that they were not connected by a bridge or anything like that, since the residents were all merman or mermaids.

Mermaids didn't look pretty nor friendly like in the fairy tales. One mermaid sitting on the rock closest to Sila possessed fierce-red eyes. Of course, her lower body was replaced by a fish tail.

Sila saw Mermen living either in the houses or in the water. They had human bodies but the head of a fish with razor-sharp teeth. He also noted that there was a harpoon in their hand.

There were some players fighting these Mermen at the moment, but most of them were standing back without helping.

"Why don't they engage?" asked Sila to Varee.

"Have you forgotten the rule? These people surely don't intend to help other player at all. They're waiting for the number of competitors to decline."

Sila frowned. He thought that this activity was merely just an event in the game. Why would people still be so selfish about it?

People might see that Sila sometimes was hot-headed, easily upset and a stubborn person, but if you look for selfishness, you would never find it in Sila's heart. His teacher always taught him to not be selfish. Don't become a person who expects a reward upon doing good deeds. There are already too many people who hurt each other by greed. Don't allow yourself to increase the number of that kind of people.

"Anyways, why are players attacking the merpeople? The condition to win is obtaining the Ocean Heart Aquamarine, not to kill the merpeople, isn't it?" asked Sila. Although he recognized that these mermaids and mermen were ugly and frightening, he remembered that he once saw slime as disgusting beings too. It's possible that if you were of the merpeople race, you would see them as a beautiful creatures.

Varee didn't say anything but pointed her finger towards a specific merman holding the big golden trident and wearing a crown. It was sitting on the faraway rock and surrounded by a lot of other merpeople. The most important thing was a big heart-shaped icon floating on its head.

Sila recalled the host's sentence;

"...there will be 2 special rules applied, though. The first is, if one obtains Ocean Heart Aquamarine, there will be the heart symbol shown on one's and their partner's head, and if anyone of the two is killed, the Ocean Heart Aquamarine will be transferred to the nearest player."

"I see, we have to kill that merman to obtain Ocean Heart Aquamarine," concluded Sila.

"Moreover, whoever finishes that merman's life; he or she will have to breakout through a lot of players waiting here to bring the Ocean Heart Aquamarine to the host. No one here would be kind enough to let us go easily, especially after we wear down from the fight with the merpeople."

"So, it seems like we will have to fight both a group of merpeople and a bunch of players."

"No, there's another way," said Varee.

"Huh? Is there another way?"

"Yes, the other way is to wait for others to obtain the Ocean Heart Aquamarine then kill that guy. This method is the simplest and easiest one," replied Varee in cold tone.

Sila's face turned expressionless, "I don't like having other people to do my task, and I'm also not a thief."

"You must be angry at me for suggesting this method. You may commit that you're not a thief and won't kill another player. However, the others won't think the same. All players standing here are ready to be a thief, and kill you off if they have a chance."

Sila didn't answer. He knew that what Varee said was indeed correct.

"Are you thinking that, just because you are being nice to others, others will also be nice to you? The world is not a beautiful place like that... and you obviously know it," continued Varee. She deliberately reminded Sila about the matter related to Montra.

Of course, Sila knew that. After he had been defeated by Montra after his teacher was held hostage, Sila had thoroughly thought about the reason why Montra did this to him. However, He wasn't able to understand. To be honest, his and Montra's ability weren't much different. No, Montra was even more skilled than him. Even if Montra didn't play dirty, it was still unclear if Sila would be victor.

Moreover, in that competition, after the victor could be decided; Montra still deliberately attacked Sila to make him heavily injured, sending him to the hospital. Thus, Montra must possess a deep resentment towards Sila.

However, even now, Sila still had no idea why Montra would hate him that much.

The lesson he gained from that battle was, human always had reasons to do good deeds; for example, to change the world into a proper place, to bring happiness to their loved ones, and alike. Even Sila still couldn't figure whether 'doing good deeds without expecting anything in return' statement was true or false. Since in fact, people still hoped to get good feelings obtained from doing good deeds. By the way, the opposite is also similar. Humans perform evil deeds to obtain something: money, power, etc. However, there was a difference. Sometimes people can do evil deeds without a reason. Some people are just evil.

Sila stood still, which Varee knew that he was debating something in his mind so she didn't interrupt.

Then, Sila decided.

"Well, we'll do this. We'll split the role: one will kill the merpeople and other will deal with the players. This isn't a robbery. It's just to prevent them from robbing us when we obtain the Ocean Heart Aquamarine"

Varee nodded in agreement. For someone who didn't want to hurt others first like Sila, that statement of his was enough of a compromise.

"I'll perform the role to hunt players myself. So, I'll depend on you to deal with the merpeople," remarked Varee.

Varee split their responsibility as such, as she knew that, if given a choice, Sila wouldn't choose to have to hurt other players. Though, it was another story if someone tried to attack him first.

Sila could guess that Varee was concerned about him so he smiled gently.

"That's good, next, about the plan after we obtain the Ocean Heart Aquamarine..."

"I'll manage it," interrupted Varee.

Sila frowned. "Do you know what my plan is?"

"It's not that hard to guess. You intend to let me send the Ocean Heart Aquamarine to the host, while you'll be busy stalling all the players here, right?"

Now Sila felt that she must really be able to read his mind, "that's correct," replied Sila.

"If that's the case, I will be the one who stays and handles the players myself. You took the heart to send it to the host instead," said Varee.

"But that task suits me more," replied Sila. He would hate it if he had to flee away while leaving Varee to be the one to face the difficulty alone. That was contrary to his nature.

Varee smiled, "well, I will go if you can give me a good reason that you're more suited to this task than me."

Sila thought about it for a while before speaking, "you are more famous than me."

"And?" Varee was still smiling. She could already guess Sila's answer but pretended not to know it.

"You are famous; everybody knows that you're skilled. So, if you're here, not many players will choose to fight you but decide to chase after me instead. That'll make our plan ineffective. In the other hand, if you go and let me stay, most player will most likely to target me and stay here; since getting rid of a fameless player like me would be much easier than the famous Goddess of Purified Water."

Varee nodded, "okay, then let's do it your way," before stepping backward.

"But how are you going to deal with the player? We still don't have a plan..." said Sila as he noticed that Varee seemed to be on the move.

Varee put her index finger on Sila's mouth, saying, "this is a duo quest, okay? Do you believe in me?"

While Varee put her finger off, Sila was stunned for a while before slowly answering, "of course."

He had witnessed Varee's ability in the restaurant. Even if he couldn't follow her movements, he still perceived that she was highly skilled. She's also smarter than him, on top of that.

Her smiling face truly looked beautiful. Her lips perfectly reflected the softness of moonlight which shone down from the sky. Then, Varee's figure walked and disappeared away, only her departing words remain:

"At the time you take a hold of Ocean Heart Aquamarine, the number of player here will be less than a half."

Sila still stood blankly for ten seconds before he realized that Varee had been gone. He shook his head to forsake the useless thought and tried to concentrate again. Later, he walked leisurely to Merpeople Village, attracting the attention of many players.

T/N: Like chapter 19-20, this time the name 'Varee' and 'Nam' (her nickname) literally mean 'Water' or 'Aqua'. Thus, this chapter's name 'The Stone and the River' basically refers to the protagonist Sila (=stone) being together with Varee (=water.)

As for the romance in this novel, I will just say that there is no harem.

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