Finally, the fateful day had come . Montra had promised his guildmates that on this day, the world of Monster Soul would be changed forever . He also told the people in the association to pay attention to this moment, because it would represent the future Wulin Masters Association that he planned to create .
The Heavenly Dragon Guild’s great square was capable of holding half a million people . Usually, this place was used for sparring matches or assembling members to announce important news .
Three hundred thousand members were currently standing there, awaiting their leader’s arrival . It could be said that this was the greatest assembly since the founding of the guild .
After a short while, Montra appeared on the stage in front of them . He looked down at the large number of members who would act according to his commands .
“Have you all followed the instructions I issued?” Montra asked this without raising his voice, yet everyone could miraculously hear his question .
Naturally, it wasn’t like everyone would directly answer his question one by one . Montra had split his guildmates into two main groups . One was the gamer group while the other consisted of the people related to the Wulin Masters Association .
The representatives of each group—Trick Master and Paiyuan—stepped forward .
Trick Master was the first to report . “We have done as instructed, sir . Everyone has trained themselves to their limits . Every single one of us is now at Level 1,000 Marquis Rank . ”
Paiyuan followed, “We are the same . My team has defeated several small bandit groups with bounties on their heads and focused on increasing our levels as instructed . Every single one of us is now at Level 1,000 Marquis Rank . ”
To be honest, Paiyuan didn’t understand Montra’s objective . With their numbers and their martial strength, they could trample on anyone and everyone . However, Montra simply ordered them to grind as much as they could and hunt down small groups of bandits throughout the Main Continent . The only time they were mobilized was when Montra was rushing to find Zero and ordered everyone in the guild to search for him .
Montra nodded . “Good . You’re all still wearing the Cloudy Baby Dragon Rings, right?”
Everybody raised their arms, showing the white rings—the S-grade item that was distributed among them for free—on their fingers .
“I told everyone that there will be a day when you have to die due to this ring . Remember?”
Every member nodded . They clearly remembered the time when they were given the rings . Montra revealed to everybody that the ring had a restriction in that, while they level faster, they will peak at Marquis Rank and won’t be able to reach the next rank . He also told them that they had to die at least once after they reached Marquis Rank . Regardless, it was a negligible price to pay in order for them to reach Marquis Rank—the rank that only a few players, mainly powerhouses like Lone Wolf, Zero, and Montra, had reached at that time .
At first, everybody intended to remove the ring as soon as they had reached Level 1 Marquis Rank . However, Montra ordered them to continue grinding their levels . He told them he would be the one who decided when they removed the rings .
“Soon, I will do something . Everyone will die and your level will fall to Level 990 Marquis Rank . However, trust me that dying at this time is the best timing . ”
There was some gossiping, though there was no commotion since they had already predicted this day would come eventually . Removing the ring would open up the chance for them to reach Lord Rank in the future . It was an inevitable action to take .
Since there was no objection, Montra took three particular gems out in front of him . Each of the gems shone ever so beautifully . Their beauty easily captivated everyone’s gazes .
“Cloudy Pearl, Crown Ruby, Sky Emerald,” Montra said, “It’s time . ”
The Cloudy Pearl’s appearance had changed from its original shape . There was a gold ring attached to it . No, rather than calling a ring, it was more accurate to call it a bracelet due to its size . It was an abnormally giant ring the size of a bracelet . Its name was the Cloudy Mother Dragon Ring, with the ability ‘Link . ’
The other gem next to it was the Crown Ruby—a red jewel that used to be embedded on the forehead of a certain Lord Rank monster living in Skull Mountain Pass . With its conceptual ability, ‘Expansion,’ Asura could summon an endless skeleton army, bringing chaos to everyone living near the mountain pass .
Montra had to waste a ton of resources before he could subdue Asura and seize the gem from it, successfully putting an end to the legend of ‘The Mountain Pass of No Return . ’
Afterward, he heard rumors that the place had been turned into a bandit’s hideout before something strange happened, leaving the place even more deserted than before Montra took the gem .
The last one was the Sky Emerald—the one he considered the most powerful Gem of Catastrophe with the conceptual ability of ‘Awakening . ’ He got it from defeating the Golden-Eyed Great Eagle at the top of the Sky-Breaking Canyon, the territory of several bird monsters . For the record, most monsters living in this place are capable of flight, making it difficult for players to cope with them .
Montra had to get serious without allowing it to awaken its full potential using the gem . His method might seem cowardly . However, there would be no way for him to win against it if he let it become an Emperor Rank monster .
Together, three hundred thousand players dispersed as light at the same time . Montra seized the moment right before they disappeared to activate the Sky Emerald . The three gems flashed intensely .
The Sky Emerald pulled out the power from the two remaining gems to the last bit of their energy . Normally, Montra would obtain 1% of the experience points that they had accumulated since they wore the rings . However, the experience points were increased thanks to the ‘Expansion’ ability of the Crown Ruby .
Sadly, that would still be far from enough .
For anyone to reach Level 1,000 Emperor Rank, years of grinding would probably be required . However, Montra intended to accomplish it in a day .
Gaining an insane amount of experience points might be impossible if he worked alone . However, with three hundred thousand players working together, even the impossible could become possible . Montra used the two gems—Cloudy Pearl and Crown Ruby—to acquire a monstrous amount of experience points before activating the Sky Emerald to elevate them to another level .
The first two gems broke into pieces . It was as Montra had expected . The Sky Emerald’s ability was too powerful . True, it could squeeze the full potential from any object . However, it was only temporary . After the forceful extraction, the object would be broken beyond repair .
The consequence of him using it on Nixroth, the Left Arm of the Sealed One, was that his left arm only maintained its ultimate form for fifteen minutes before permanently breaking . Its ability that granted him slots for ignoring cooldown and strengthening the performance was also lost . At the same time, all three of its item skills—Fangs of Nixroth, Arrow of Nixroth, and Night of Nixroth—that he would’ve gotten after it reached its final form became unusable .
Even a powerful item made by the Creator himself still broke after Awakening was used on it . Therefore, Montra naturally didn’t dare to use the Sky Emerald on his signature weapon .
However, these gems were different . They weren’t necessary for mankind . He didn’t mind abandoning them if he had to .
An absurd amount of experience points poured into Montra’s body . At long last, the impossible had finally become reality . Inspecting his system window, Montra found that all of the criteria for meeting the Goddess had been met .
You have reached Level 1,000 Emperor Rank . You have obtained the right to perform another Dragon Ritual . Please find more details in the Dragon’s Record .
As the first player to reach Level 1,000 Emperor Rank, you have obtained the title “The First Emperor . ” It bestows you with an additional 50,000,000 maximum health points, qi points, magic points, and psychic points .
The Dragon’s Record could be found and read in the Sacred Temple in the Dragon Kingdom . Nevertheless, Montra didn’t care about it in the slightest at this moment . He swiftly teleported himself to his private room and entered his hidden chamber .
In front of him was the Realm-Crossing Gate—the miraculous invention that he had poured a lot of resources into . He had first obtained a blueprint for it from Orpheus, spent two years building it, and then even more time than that searching for the gems . It had taken him a while to get to this point . The day when he got to use it had finally arrived . It might break after his journey, but every drop of sweat that went into creating it would be worth just this one use .
Montra examined the remaining gems . He only had four of them left . A lot of them had been lost over the course of his master plan, and he knew he would lose more of them soon . That was why he originally planned to collect all eleven of them .
Montra placed the Illusion Sapphire, the Universe’s Eyes Amber, and the Hell Jade on the control panel . He inputted some commands and the dimensional portal soon emerged on the other side of the gate . Undoubtedly, the destination behind the portal was the Land of the Goddess, the place that was, until now, unreachable by any player .
Still, the size of the portal was incredibly small . Only a finger would be able to pass through it . Montra was aware that this was the most that the gems could do . He had tried to open it before and the result was the same . It meant that place had some kind of strong protection .
Nevertheless, Montra had gone too far to turn back . He declared, “Sky Emerald, Awaken!”
The Sky Emerald shone a bright light, which the other three gems absorbed . The size of the portal soon enlarged, along with faint cracking sounds from the gems .
Montra hurriedly jumped into the portal while using his magic power to pull the Illusion Sapphire and the Universe’s Eyes Amber into his hand, leaving the Hell Jade behind .
The portal soon closed . Montra quickly inspected the gems in his hands .
Except for the flawless Sky Emerald, the two other gems had lost their light and were cracked all over . Montra had to press his hands on them to prevent them from breaking apart .
‘As I thought . It would have been better to collect all of them . I’m not sure if I can accomplish the quest at this rate . ’
The place where Montra was standing on right now was a beautiful, serene meadow . The green scenery seemed to spread to the end of the world as there was nothing but a skyline to be seen . In the center of the meadow, there was a peaceful small house and two people—a polite-looking man and a refined woman—sitting at a tea table next to the house .
The woman must be the Goddess who no one had ever met . The Goddess of Mankind who was kind to every human in Monster Soul .
“Please sit down, Mister Montra,” The man welcomed him .
Montra approached the woman and handed her two of his gems as he said, “Humanity . ”
The quest had one last trap spoken of only in a myth where, upon her first appearance before a human, the Goddess would listen to only the first word that the human spoke . Montra would fail the quest if he was careless and talked about other things .
The woman received the two gems and smiled at Montra . Soon, the gems broke into pieces .
Montra hurriedly explained, “I have successfully delivered them to you . I’m not responsible for anything that happens afterward . ”
“You are correct . Thank you for delivering them to me . ” The Goddess nodded and turned to the man on the table . “Joshua . ”
Montra followed her gaze . “You are Joshua, Ramiel’s Master, right?”
“My title is actually the Game Master,” said Joshua . “Altia, Ramiel, and Sebastian call me Master though . I’m the sole Game Master of Monster Soul, in charge of several roles . The important one is the Sealed One . ”
“I take it that you are also a member of the Wulin Masters Association, correct?”
“You can say that . By the way, do you want to talk about the quest reward or the association first? You are a stubborn person, smart but inflexible . You believe in your decision and are uncompromising about it . If I don’t explain, you won’t understand your current situation and the importance of your life . Otherwise, you wouldn’t sacrifice your life for something as trivial as the Wulin Masters Association while you can achieve much more . ”
“The Wulin Masters Association is the entirety of my life . Its future, be it bright or dark, is directly tied to me . Nothing in my life is more important than it,” Montra refuted .
“We’re going to talk about this first, then . ” Joshua turned to the Goddess . “Cynthia, excuse us . Can you make some tea for us?”
“Sure . ”
Montra sat down and silently looked at the warm tea being poured into his cup . He didn’t touch it, however . Meanwhile, Joshua slowly sipped his own, seemingly intending to make Montra wait .
Joshua started explaining . “The Elders’ mistake was appointing you to be the Wulin Lord successor when you were eleven . That was too soon . As an eleven-year-old kid, you were supposed to live in your imagination, have your own dreams, spend time doing silly things, and search for what you love to do . Instead, given such a heavy responsibility, you started pushing yourself to your limits . You obtained a degree in medical science at sixteen . Aside from that, you also studied in several fields . Although you don’t have degrees for those fields due to not taking the exams, your knowledge is no less than those who have graduated . ”
Joshua seemed to know him too well . Still, Montra didn’t care .
“Don’t get me wrong . I’m not special . In this era, we can study more efficiently using a brain scanner to dive into a virtual world with a different flow of time . Anyone can do the same if they try . I learned that knowledge only for the sake of administering the association in the future,” Montra explained, “What are you really trying to say?”
“What I want to say is . . . you are capable of much more . On the other hand, the Wulin Masters Association has to stay in the darkness . Your desire to make it public is a futile attempt . ”
“I will show that it’s possible . The association has both manpower and skills . The fact that we are an underground organization only hinders our movements . There exist tons of helpless people out there in the world . We can grant them a chance to lead a proper life by teaching them martial skills and profound ethics . Then, they will become our manpower to help others . ”
“Unfortunately, the Wulin Masters Association isn’t the kind of a charity organization that you hope it can be . As an organization, its first priority is surviving . What you intend to do will make the association an easy target . This is the actual reason why the Elders changed their minds about you . You are a clever person . I will point out why they want you to lose . ”
“Continue,” Montra flatly replied .
“I have to start during the time of the last Wulin Lord, the Demon God, who completely banned the Hell’s Gate Islands’ business and put an end to all of their activities, as well as any others outside of Kimon who did the same . At first, everyone, excluding Kimon, agreed with his decision . However, as the years passed, they all discovered that the decision was a serious mistake . ”
Montra was clueless about how this story related to him . “Mistake? How?”
“Mister Montra, what method do you think the association relied on in the past in order to stay in the shadows? What had to be done to prevent secrets from getting out?”
Montra was an intelligent man . Given the clues, he could come up with an answer right away . “Assassination . The dead can’t talk . It’s the best way to ensure that a secret will remain a secret . ”
“That’s correct . Without Kimon and with killing activities being banned, secrets were gradually leaked . In the end, due to the last Wulin Lord’s kind heart and soft personality, the enemy was born . They are someone who wants to exploit and take advantage of profound arts . Regrettably, before we became aware of their existence, they had already grown too strong to the point where we are no longer capable of taking them down .
“With that lesson, the Elders tried to pick a ruthless person with great leadership ability as the next Wulin Lord—someone who doesn’t mind using dirty tricks so long as they defeat their target . The first candidate was Pumin, the Sword Prodigy . However, he disappeared . The next candidate was Hu Xian, the Tiger God, but he refused to take the position as he said he had something more important to do . ”
Both of them were incredibly famous people of the underground world, yet there had been no clues about their whereabouts for a very long time, leaving their names as legendary figures of the martial world .
“You are their third choice . You are the son of one of the four Island Masters . In addition, you are the son of the Elder Sanon and also the main disciple of the Sky Dragon Dojo . It could be said that your social status is special . ”
“I’m not special . ”
Montra’s eyes were expressionless . He was a normal person, yet people tried to say he was special most of the time . Still, that word was nothing but a lie .
Exactly as Joshua had said, he was the main disciple of the Sky Dragon Dojo . However, Sanon chose to impart his personal profound art, Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, to his friend rather than him . Similarly, even though he was the son of Heaven’s Heiress, the one who got to inherit her dark art was another person .
In the end, the only arts he learned from his father were the arts that were taught to all of the dojo’s disciples regardless of talent, Coiling Dragon Steps and Sky-Rending Dragon Fist . At the same time, the only thing his mother gave him was the pain he felt in his heart each time he thought of her .
This world was unfair to him, so he would change it . He would change the association into an organization that was fair to everyone . He would cancel the inheritance system . There would be no dojos, no exclusive profound arts, and no discrimination . Everything would be free to access by anyone and everyone .
It would be an ideal association where everyone was special, and nobody was special .
Joshua continued, “Completely denying Kimon is your decision that the Three Elders don’t agree with . ”
Joshua showed a mild smile . “Obviously, it’s because of the original goal that the Hell’s Gate Islands were created for . Kimon’s main duty is eliminating any threats to the association by any means necessary . Your mistake is that you don’t know that the association is currently in a grave state . This is why the Elders ignored the last Wulin Lord’s wish and seeked Kimon’s cooperation . Your declaration about wanting to eliminate Kimon conflicts with their goal . They want you to exploit your relationship with Heaven’s Heiress to reconnect to Kimon . Or, at the very least, trick Kimon to clash against the association’s enemy and make them both suffer . ”
Montra gave the explanation some thought . The points that Joshua raised were things that he had never considered . Exactly as Joshua had said at the very start, although Montra was smart, he was like a spear . As he thrust forward, only his target mattered . He would overlook other things around him .
Joshua added, “You underestimate the Three Elders’ cunning side far too much . Even if you win the war, they still have a method to make you lose . It’s a method that you have never considered . ”
“What method?” Usually, Montra would like to come up with an answer by himself . However, listening to Joshua, he couldn’t help but be curious .
“The condition required for becoming the Wulin Lord and the names of the Wulin Lord candidates are all verbal . There is no physical evidence . So, even if you win the war, they can just disappear and people will have no way to confirm that you’re qualified to become the Wulin Lord . When that time comes, there will be only your and Sila’s claims that conflict against each other . After that, what do you think will happen if Sila shows the three profound arts of the Three Elders that belong exclusively to them?”
Joshua continued . “Humans are creatures that tend to avoid hardships . The people of the association will believe in what they see and choose the side that will be safer for them . They will side with Sila, who the Three Elders clearly favor . With this method, he will become the Wulin Lord even if he fails to accomplish the mission . ”
Montra showed a stiff expression . “I was destined to be the loser from the very beginning . . . ”