“Thank you for using our service!”
That was what the inter-city teleportation service provider said once Sila handed him 5,000 silver as a transportation fee . For the record, this amount was remarkably cheap considering that he didn’t have to waste days traveling across the land .
The Heavenly Dragon Guild provided both transportation services and convenient stores at incredibly cheap prices . There were no special privileges for guildmates either . Because of this, positive comments and reviews about the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s actions could be found all over the game forums .
There was no such thing as a high-quality product that sold for a cheap price . There would only be cheap subpar products or expensive exceptional products . Based on Sebastian’s analysis, the Heavenly Dragon Guild must have been the one to shoulder most of the cost as their products were sold at half the market price .
The Merchants Association expressed their shared opinion, stating that even when one considered the low logistic costs due to the three main cities being ruled by Montra, the Heavenly Dragon Guild would barely profit from this with just a few silver coins per order .
Beluga weighed in by saying that what the Heavenly Dragon Guild was doing was called ‘Predatory Pricing . ’ It was a strategy to drive competitors out of the market by setting very low prices . They didn’t want profits, and were instead waging an economic war . Despite no blood being shed, the consequence of such a war could be more deadly than killing each other with swords .
Beluga also said that, before the war event, every player had their life as their prime asset . Even if they died, they could revive . Even if they lost levels, items, or money—they could always regain them so long as they continued to play the game . The more time they invested in the game, the stronger they would become .
In any case, Montra’s economic war was scary . Controlling players’ basic needs such as commodities, potions, tools, and weapons meant he could indirectly manipulate players’ actions to some degree . Actually, the effects were becoming more and more visible even when only two days had passed .
Transportation between the three main cities became so easy and comfortable with teleportation devices . Although this business idea started from the Blue Pigeon Guild, the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s service was cheaper and more versatile . Even the devices they used were not the ones bought from the system but specially built by Siaferia City’s technology, allowing several people to teleport at the same time . Even transporting items was as easy as pie . Needless to say, people were no longer using the logistic services provided by the Mountain Thieves League .
Selling products at such a low price was something that even the Merchants Association couldn’t afford to do . Selling at the same price meant a loss, yet no customer would spare them a glance if they sold products at the usual price . Montra completely ignored the market price that the Merchants Association had agreed on, causing many merchants to go bankrupt .
Beluga speculated that, in the worst case, the Heavenly Dragon Guild would seize control of Monster Soul’s economic activities, becoming the sole monopoly . If that day truly arrived, it would lead to a different kind of problem—the lack of competition .
Living in society was supposed to be a competitive activity . In the utopia where people could gain things they wanted easily, the world would become stagnant and evolution would come to a stop . Ultimately, civilization would face a regression .
Honestly speaking, Sila couldn’t tell whether what Montra was doing was right or wrong, or if Montra had other plans in motion behind the curtains . Sila admitted he didn’t excel at this topic . Still, his confidence no longer waver like before . He was certain that even Montra couldn’t shoulder all of the responsibilities on his own .
Exactly as Rashane had taught Sila—People had different talents and skills . Sila was certain that he would be able to govern the association in his own way even if he wasn’t an all-rounder like Montra .
He was going to prove that fact, using Monster Soul as the stage .
Exiting the teleportation building, Sila didn’t put on a disguise . He only covered himself with the simple Beggar’s Cloak . This act was due to Viola’s recommendation . When he discussed traveling with the master of disguise, she told him that a human’s brain is a storage overflowing with information, a large amount of which is never properly organized . Therefore, if a bystander didn’t personally know him, there was a high chance that they wouldn’t be able to recognize him with just a wanted poster or a video . In fact, seventy percent of all players would be unable to recall his face while twenty percent would be suspicious yet would end up ignoring him as his real identity had nothing to do with them . Only a few would recognize him and take action .
Viola’s principle—True is False, False is True—explained that wearing a mask would make him look more suspicious while an amateurish disguise was no better . On the other hand, walking confidently was more than enough . Humans are creatures who tend to avoid unnecessary troubles . Hence, if someone really approached him, there was a high chance that they would be an enemy .
The message from Burapha and Bluebird set the location for their meeting in one of Lafesta City’s hotels .
The Floating Magic Kingdom was a group of five islands hovering on top of clouds, connecting to each other with rainbow bridges . The city’s architecture was mesmerizing, as if it were the abode of gods . Sila could see residents and visitors walking around with gleeful expressions, as if there was a fun festival being held .
Once he had pinpointed the destination, Sila walked across a rainbow bridge and reached the designated island .
‘This city is so big . Twice as large as Zhongsuyuan City and Grea City,’ Sila thought as he walked . Unbeknownst to him, it was due to the fact that Lafesta City had been unsealed . If Sila went to Siaferia City, he would come to know that its size was comparable .
Spotting the hotel from afar, Sila was about to feel relieved that he could reach the destination without issues . However, as he walked past a certain building, a magic circle suddenly appeared under his feet, emitting bright light . Naturally, people shifted their attention toward him .
Sila flinched as he was panicking, quickly cladding himself with qi reinforcement .
‘What is happening? Is it a trap?’ Sila tensed up as he raised his guard, searching for killing intent or any potential threats . However, no matter how much he looked, nothing happened . The people around him didn’t give off malicious vibes . Rather, they seemed to be happy for him, even clapping and smiling at him, making Sila confused .
Sila’s reaction to the situation wasn’t strange . Every city he had stepped into so far always exuded a sense of competition or even survival of the fittest . On the other hand, the Magic Kingdom had been under the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s administration from early on in the game’s service . The guild always provided basic needs to everyone with fairness, reducing their struggles . They only had to commit to their assigned duties to be compensated with impartial benefits . It could be said that this place was the sole oasis in the brutal desert named Monster Soul .
A certain man ran out of the building . Seeing the man’s face, Sila recognized him . He was the service provider NPC, Dan, who he had met in Grea City and the one who helped Sila pick a Lordship .
“Oh, Mister Si— cough, Mister Customer . Please come in . ”
Sila was still confused . In any case, the light emitting under his feet was too eye-catching, so he quickly and obediently followed Dan into the building .
The interior was exactly the same as the one he had seen in Grea City . Noticing Sila’s gaze wandering around, Dan could guess what he was thinking .
“This place is my special dimension, sir . It connects to all three main cities’ Information Buildings . Actually, I originally only had a few tasks . I had very little to do with my time . However, one of the customers completed the main cities unsealing quests consecutively, leading to a sudden increase in my workload . I need to provide help to those who come to ask for new quests that were recently unlocked . It was too sudden . I couldn’t train interns in time . ”
Sila half understood and half didn’t . In fact, he didn’t particularly care . “What happened just now?”
Dan summoned a bottle of freshwater . “Would you like to drink first?”
Sila shook his head in denial, so Dan became the one to drink it himself . He then started to explain, “Mister Sila, you just obtained a special reward . ”
“A special reward?”
“Yes, sir . It’s one of many hidden abilities . Although it’s not obvious, Monster Soul right now is evolving . As such, we need players to evolve as well . Technically, most hidden quests were estimated to become available at least two years from now . However, as some players have caused the game to take an abrupt leap, they became available much sooner . ”
Dan snapped his fingers, causing the magic formula under Sila’s feet to shine brighter . Knowing that Dan was an assistance NPC, not Independent NPC, Sila wasn’t afraid that the man would harm him .
“Originally, the hidden ability—Art of Magic—was supposed to require more conditions for a player to acquire it . However, presently, the only conditions are having attained the essence of magic and visiting the unsealed Magic Kingdom . ”
In fact, the city conqueror had the right to set a number of conditions to acquire the ability such as having to perform a few city quests, paying tribute to the city conqueror, or staying in the city for a while . However, Montra declared his intentions to the system, making it as easy as possible for humans to obtain any abilities that were beneficial . He didn’t want anything from it . As a result, Sila became the one gaining benefits from Montra’s decision .
“Art of Magic is meant to be given to those who are worthy of wielding magic . Originally, magic has an obvious weakness of lacking uniqueness . The Art of Magic can add a special attribute to the magic you own, making it more special . ”
Sila thought he got the gist . Still, he asked for a more detailed explanation to make sure that he understood it correctly . “May I ask for an example?”
“Certainly, sir . Imagine two players using the same type of magic . Let’s say Fire Magic . If these two players use the same skill in the same environment, the result will be exactly the same,” Dan explained slowly . Seeing that Sila nodded at his words, he continued, “However, if one of them has obtained the Art of Magic, their flame will be imbued with a special attribute . For example, it lasts longer, burns fiercer, or is even capable of healing the target . In that case, their magic will be more difficult to cope with compared to others . Actually, such an ability is exclusive to a few elite magic users . Only a handful of creatures in the New World possess this kind of ability . ”
“Oh, like Sebastian’s,” Sila exclaimed . He recalled Sebastian’s spells possessed the Bleeding, Intensified Pain, and Undying Corpse debuffs .
The light climbed up his body, quickly reaching his head . He felt his body becoming warm . Dan then said, “It’s done, sir . ”
“Eh? I thought I would get to choose the attribute like how I got to choose my Lordship . ”
“That’s not it, sir . The system has generated it for you based off an analysis of your use of magic since you started playing . As I have seen so far, no one has ever been disappointed by the chosen ability, sir . ”
Sila opened his system window, but he was clueless about where to look . “Where can I read its details?”
“It’s a supplementary ability attached to your Basic Magic skill . In the case that you don’t have the skill, it will be attached to your primary magic skill instead . ”
Knowing where to look, Sila clicked on a certain skill . His primary magic ability came from the fight against Zero . Being reminded of the Shadow Emperor, Sila regretted that he had died .
(A) Triple Horsepower — Transcendent Rank .
The base of your magic power . Triples your magic power utilization speed .
***Your magic exerts 300% of its usual power at melee range . The power decreases according to the distance between you and the target .
Sila read it out loud for Dan to hear .
Dan opened his system window, showing the analysis of Sila’s usage of magic, and explained, “It might sound weird, but the system analyzed that Mister Sila mostly uses magic at melee range despite magic usually being used at mid to long-range and its damage won’t drop with distance . Well, if you are good at using magic this way, it means your magic will become thrice more powerful . ”
“I’m not good at using magic, so I could only use it that way . ”
“You don’t need to be so humble, sir . If you are not good, there was no way you would have attained the essence of magic . This is all for today, sir . I look forward to seeing you again . ”
“See me again?”
“Yes, sir . You have yet to collect the Arts of Qi and Psychic . Actually, you’ll receive them here as well . It’s just that there is a condition that you must visit me in each unsealed kingdom . It’s a touchy detail . I guess we will meet at least two more times . ”
Sila took the chance to ask Dan questions that he could think of, obtaining useful intel in return . For example, in the three unsealed main cities, there were quests for players to acquire Individual Qi, Unique Magic, and Special Psychic . In any case, Sila lacked the qualifications to learn any of them . These skills could only be obtained by a player with ordinary qi, magic, and psychic power . Sila didn’t have a single ordinary energy type, so those skills would never be his .
For the record, ordinary qi, magic, and psychic power referred to the system-generated basic energy that the system bestowed to players when they selected their energy type, with the conditions that the player didn’t alter them through special means or hidden quests . Apparently, Sila’s basic qi had been altered since he fused it with psychic power to create Yin Yang Energy . His magic was magical qi derived from Zero’s . As for his psychic power, it was the Dark Psychic Corrosion skill that he obtained through the hidden quest in the Valley of Immortals .
Sila bid Dan farewell and entered a hotel for his appointment with Burapha and Bluebird . There was no unexpected situation this time, exactly as he wanted . Arriving at the appointed room, Sila noticed both of them waiting for him . Surprisingly, there was one more person, whom he hadn’t prepared to meet, sitting in the room .
“Oh, Sila, you have come . ” Sangdao was the first to spot him . She greeted him as she stood up .
Sila hadn’t met Sangdao since just before his fight against Infernee’s clone with Bluebird . Many eventful situations happened since then, making him forget most topics unrelated to the war event .
Burapha stood up . “Big Brother Sila . We accidentally stumbled on Miss Sangdao just a moment ago . Knowing that we plan to raid the Heavenly Dragon Guild, she volunteered to help . ”
Accidentally? If it was Sila from before, he wouldn’t have given this word a second thought . However, his life so far had been manipulated at times when he was unaware . Thus, he came to distrust this word .
Divine had explained to him that, although the chance wasn’t as high as others, Vichien was also a suspect . Before the Demon God went out to duel against the mysterious man, he had called Vichien over for a private conversation . No one knew what they talked about . The Demon God might have suspected Vichien or they might have just had common conversation between teacher and disciple . Still, as the contents were unknown, it was best to anticipate the worst and suspect him . That was why Divine approached Wu Ming as the Slime Guardian in order to investigate him .
Divine figured out that Vichien held back in the fight against him, so he did the same . As a result, the duel came out as a draw . Each side was wary of the other’s motives . Hence, they respected each other as friends on the outside while probing their hidden agenda in secret .
“Sila, what are you thinking about?” asked Sangdao .
“Oh . . . It’s nothing . By the way, what’s wrong with Blue? He is unusually calm,” Sila diverted the topic .
Burapha approached Sila and whispered, “He has been this way since I came . I’ll admit that he often annoys me . However, seeing him so quiet is rather unnerving . I’m not sure I prefer this Bluebird over his usual self . ”
Sila could guess the reason . It seemed Yardpirun was an excellent leader . With her being in a dilemma, even the playful Bluebird was tense, becoming a totally different person .
“Blue, the building next to the hotel is the Information Building . You can acquire Art of Magic there if you have attained the essence of—”
Bluebird stopped Sila’s words by raising his hand and discharging electricity . His lightning was cyan instead of usual color . He glared at the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s blueprint and replied to Sila without removing his gaze, “I already acquired it . ”
“What about Unique Magic—?”
“The quest is not accessible for me as my magic is magical qi, not basic magic . Well, that’s good . I heard that the new magic would replace the basic one . It would take time for me to learn and ruin our chances of saving Boss . It’s better to use something I’m familiar with . Quit interrupting me and let’s focus on the plan . We’ve only got one shot . ”
Burapha shrugged in response, indicating that Bluebird had been this way for a while . The atmosphere was stressful and gloomy .
Sila sighed as he believed he had to do something . He turned to ask Burapha . “There is an arena here, right?”
“Er . . . Yes . The top floor of the hotel has a rental arena . Why do you ask, Big Brother Sila?”
Sila didn’t answer Burapha’s question . He turned to Bluebird . “Blue, you have to follow me now . ”
“Where to?” Bluebird asked, his gaze still locked onto the blueprint .
“I know I’m not good at coming up with plans or strategies . However, what I’m sure of is that, as you are now, not only can you not rescue anyone, but you’ll also deliver yourself to death . I’ll prove that using my only talent—duelling . ”
Bluebird slammed his palm on the table, sending cyan lightning along it . “There is no way I’ll die! I have never died since I started the game, not even once! Do you think you are good enough to look down on me now that you’ve become strong? Even though I don’t like fighting, that doesn’t mean I can’t fight!”
Sila shook his head . “I wouldn’t dare look down on you, Bluebird . However, right now, you are not the Bluebird I know . You were the one asking me to help increase the odds of rescuing Yardpirun . Right now, my opinion is that you are an obstacle to the operation . ”
Bluebird was no longer in the mood for talking . He stood up and led the way . “Follow me . ”
Sila followed Bluebird to the top floor while Burapha followed behind, feeling confused . “Why did he have to enrage Big Brother Blue? This is getting more stressful . ”
Sangdao quietly followed the three . She could guess Sila’s intentions . “Don’t worry . I believe Sila knows what he is doing . ”