Sila took advantage of his Monster Follower pact with Rex to shorten his travel time . Both he and Lookhin vanished from the Mansion of Secrets and reappeared within a primitive forest . Looking around, Sila found a hundred Single-Horned Dragons surrounding him . They seemed to be a lot calmer than before .
Sila already used to the teleport function of the Monster Follower pact . If he called the monster, it would be teleported next to him . However, if he was the one teleporting, he would appear in the area ruled by the monster, not next to the monster itself .
The atmosphere in the forest grew stranger by the day . The trees growing in this place were normally high, but today Sila felt they had become even bigger . This strange feeling was subtle and hard to put into words . He just felt it with his intuition .
“Can you please bring me to Rex?” Sila turned to speak with one of the Single-Horned Dragons laying on the ground . He thought it would be rude of him to not greet the house owner since he was stopping by .
The Single-Horned Dragon turned its head to the right, its horn glowing orange . Then the dragon right next to it did the same thing, followed by more and more dragons . The trail of lights eventually pointed deeper into the forest . Sila looked at them with amazement .
“I see . I should go that way, right?”
Sila casually walked using the light coming from the dragons’ horns as signposts . Although he was quite accustomed to the forest, he was clueless about the path inside . The Single-Horned Dragon Forest was a complicated maze on its own . If he didn’t go up in the sky to look down from above or simply run in a straight line without turning, he would get lost easily .
The trail of lights led him to where Rex was staying . When Sila arrived, Rex was facing away from him, looking off at a mountain of items that reached over ten meters .
Rex soon turned to Sila and welcomed him . His voice was hoarse yet sincere .
“Sila, you came . ” Rex extended his fist forward . “You came at such a great time . ”
“What great time, Rex?”
Sila didn’t know where Rex learned this style of greeting from, but he bumped his fist against Rex’s anyway . Tiger Dragon Qi erupted from Rex’s punch, prompting Sila to increase his power output to maintain his balance .
“Good, good . You have become a lot stronger than before,” Rex complimented .
“You too,” Sila replied . He then looked at the pile of items . Most of them seemed to be broken and damaged due to intense battles . “What are these?”
“They’re related to my agreement with Mamon,” Rex replied curtly, “Please take them back when you go . ”
Sila looked at Rex, feeling confused . “What did you just say? What agreement?”
Rex turned to look at Sila, feeling similarly confused . “Don’t you know about it? I thought you ordered him to set it up . These items are only useful for humans . We monsters don’t use them . ”
Rex then explained that he and Mamon had an agreement together . By that, Mamon promised to give him a special power that would make the forest grow bigger and possess a higher recovering speed . In exchange, once a month Rex had to send him items obtained from killing humans . Listening to the conditions, Rex agreed to them . His only concern was that Mamon would be disappointed soon since he didn’t have a habit of going out of his way to hunt humans . The Single-Horned Dragons liked living in a peaceful manner and not many people liked to step into the forest .
Contrary to his beliefs, after the rumors about Madmen’s Valley having a special hidden quest—enabling players an ability to wield two energy types—got out, people soon flooded the forest . It was one thing if they came alone or came in pairs since they could rely on mobility to avoid battles and quickly pass through the forest . However, when they came as groups, it was naturally hard for them to travel at a fast pace . Thus, they often chose to fight as they advanced . The Single-Horned Dragons being harmed in their own home wasn’t something Rex could accept, so the conflict and fights always occurred .
It hadn’t even been a month since the deal was struck, yet the collection of items had already grown this much . There were even several topics in the forum, asking, ‘The Single-Horned Dragons are becoming more aggressive and violent . They killed a lot more players than usual . Why?’
If Rex could access the game forum as players did, he would have already posted an honest answer, such as ‘We are no more violent than usual . It is only that the number of humans entering our forest is higher, so the number of casualties has increased accordingly . Anything other than that is a creation born of your delusions, humans . ’
Most of these items were the ones players bought from the nearby Siaferia City . Many of the items were damaged, though some of them might still be functional . If they were repaired, as much as eight out of ten would be usable .
“There are too many . I can’t possibly take all of them with me . Well, I will call Julia to deliver them to Mamon when I am on my way back . ”
Rex nodded . “Mn . By the way, why did you come here?”
“I just came to greet you . My actual business is waiting for me in the Valley of Immortals . ”
“Valley of Immortals?” Rex repeated the words with a change in expression . His voice was usually horse and stiff, but this time it was even tingled with anger .
“Crow, who lives there, always comes out to catch Single-Horned Dragons for his meals . Although Single-Horned Dragons and me are connected with qi, his actions are so fast . Every time I sense him coming, he has already captured my kinsmen . Never once have I succeeded in helping my family . ”
His kinsmen were kidnapped yet Rex could do nothing to prevent it from happening . This story caused Sila to sympathize with Rex to some degree . Nevertheless, Crow once said to him that things could be dangerous if the number of Single-Horned Dragons grows too much . He took it upon himself that it was his job to keep their numbers in check .
Dragons didn’t usually live in herds . Sila had been to the Dragon Kingdom once, and the dragons living together indeed seemed extremely dangerous . Maybe if the number of Single-Horned Dragons gets out of hand, the New World would end up being the second Dragon Kingdom .
“That’s too bad,” Sila consoled Rex halfheartedly . He thought this story had nothing to do with him .
Rex showed a serious expression . The tone of his voice as he continued to speak gave off a happy vibe rather than a tormented one . “No need to worry, Sila . I’ve got good news . That’s why I said you came at such a great time . Follow me . ”
Rex led the way, walking deeper into the forest . Sila followed him and started to remember the layout of the forest . It seemed Rex was leading him to the inner part of the forest .
“What’s the good news?”
Rex didn’t answer, though he sped up his pace . Sila accelerated and followed him until the two of them reached a certain giant tree with a white-haired old man sitting crossed-legged underneath . The old man was so skinny that his skeleton outline was visible . His hair and beard were messy as if he hadn’t taken care of them for a very long time . His clothing was ragged and torn . He was like a weak hermit staying in seclusion .
However, the very moment Sila’s qi touched the old man’s, he flinched and quickly made two steps back .
“Do not be afraid, Sila . This is the good news I mentioned . My king, Kiryu, has returned . He is the true king and leader of us all . Our kinsmen don’t need to fear Crow anymore . ”
Sila was speechless . Kiryu was the original owner of Tiger Dragon Qi . Based on the record Sila read, he should have already passed on . No, come to think of it, Joshua had said that there were many dead people acting as Independent NPCs in the game . The real question was where had he been? Why did he just show up now of all time?
“My lord, this person is Sila, the one I told you about,” Rex spoke to the old man .
Kiryu slowly opened his eyes . “So you’re Sila . ”
Sila unleashed Flaming Cloud Qi to resist the oppressing pressure that suddenly pinned him down . He felt like he was up against his own move, Dual Overwhelming Attributes—Crushing Sky . Come to think of it, he invented this move by adapting Tiger Dragon Qi, using its hard attribute as a concept . In any case, his move makes the enemies kneel by using psychic power to press down on them from above while burning away their resistance . On the other hand, Kiryu didn’t need such complexity . He relied on his superior mastery and proficiency regarding qi to directly press him down .
Kiryu focused the pressure to affect Sila alone without bringing any harm to Lookhin or Rex, who stood right beside him . This level of proficiency was above and beyond Sila by several degrees . Sila might be able to recreate this level of pressure, though he admitted that he couldn’t make it this delicate . His power would affect his surroundings, and his energy consumption would inevitably be higher in comparison .
Back to the problem at hand, just resisting the pressure already took all his effort . He couldn’t fight back at all .
“Flaming Cloud Qi? So you’re from the current generation of Kimon’s Heirs . Your power is a mix of qi, magic, and psychic power . Do you know that psychic power relies on creativity for the wielder to be stronger?” Kiryuu opened his mouth .
Sila gritted his teeth as he replied, “ . . . Yes, sir, I know it . ”
“What about qi and magic power, then?” Kiryu asked .
“ . . . Qi relies on practice, and magic power relies on timing . . . ”
“You got them right, but only two out of three . . . You need to keep things simple if you want to overwhelm psychic type opponents . You need to disturb their timing when up against spellcasters . However, what about against qi users? Relies on practice, you say? In that case, I have practiced for longer than you and I possess more inner force than you . Does this mean you will forever have no chance of winning against me?”
Sila sunk into deep thought as he considered the questions and understood Kiryu’s intention . The old man didn’t want to take Sila’s life, he simply wanted to test him as well as pass on some guidance .
“Practice is not the right answer, then . . . ” Sila gnashed his teeth as the pressure was getting stronger . His eyes were gleaming red . “ . . . I understand now!”
Sila pressed his feet heavily, migrating the pressure he received through his body as a bridge and releasing it into the ground . It was only then that he obtained room to breathe . The level of pressure became gradually lower to the point where he could make his move . As he was about to launch a counterattack, Kiryu just canceled his power out of nowhere, implying he had already gotten the result he desired .
“What did you understand?”
For the record, Lookhin and Rex were perplexed . In their eyes, their respective masters suddenly got into a staring contest, followed by Sila showing a pained expression, and then randomly blurting out that he understood . None of it made sense . However, that was a given since Kiryu had emitted a wall of qi to prevent them from sensing what really happened .
Sila circulated qi one lap throughout his body to regain his strength as he gave his answer . “Although practicing is required, that’s a lazy answer . Practicing obviously makes us stronger . However, the main point of practice is to be proficient at handling qi, capable of using it freely and be flexible at using it to solve any given situation . Hence, the correct answer is Proficiency . ”
Kiryu nodded . “In the martial world, those who start sooner hold an advantage over those who start late . Living a longer life also means having more time to build up inner force . However, less can win more if used correctly and efficiently . There were several instances where elderly practitioners foolishly lost their lives just because they were arrogant, thinking that they were superior to younger generations . If you neglect your practice, your proficiency will fall, and you will be unable to exert even half of your full power . ”
Sila engraved those words upon his heart . Kiryu was considered one of his mentors . In fact, this exact advice would be greatly beneficial for him in the future .
“You’ve chosen a very good person, Rex . You have my gratitude . ”
“I’m honored, my lord . ”
Kiryu shifted his attention to Sila again . “Sila is your name, yes? Are you the person with a high reputation among monsters? The Seal Breaker . ”
Sila was very interested in these words . “The Seal Breaker? This title again . ” He quickly asked, “Where did you hear about it, sir?”
Kiryu seemed to be laughing, but there was no sound . “I only found out about it recently . A particular tailorbird gave me the news . ”
Sila was reminded of the Mysterious Tailorbird Mask Man, who he was quite confident was actually Orcus, the Tailorbird King . Well, since the person himself didn’t want to reveal his identity, he decided to not be rude and played along .
“What did he say?”
“He said you destroyed the seals sealing the Slime Kingdom, awakening tons of Emperor Rank monsters from their slumbers in the process . Fortunately, I’m one of them . ”
Sila continued his question while feeling surprised, “So the Slime Seals are related to this title?”
Kiryuu nodded . “Yes . Did you destroy them while not knowing about this?”
Sila gave an honest reply, “I didn’t, sir . I just knew that destroying the Eight Seals would release the Slime Kingdom from its sealed state . ”
“While that’s not wrong, it’s also not all you released,” Kiryu explained, “Aside from the Slime Kingdom, what the Eight Seals sealed was the Chaos Emperor Dragon . Do you know that the Chaos Emperor Dragon and the Slime King are blood-related brothers?”
“I just found that out recently, sir . ”
“That’s it . In the past, the two of them caused a lot of trouble in Monster Soul, though there seemed to be internal strife between them in the end . The Chaos Emperor Dragon started to go on a rampage as he couldn’t keep his enormous power in check, so the Slime King decided to seal him . I don’t know if it was intentional or accidental, but the seals happened to seal his own kingdom as well . Nevertheless, both of them were troublemakers, so people were delighted at such an outcome . ”
“It’s true that the Chaos Emperor Dragon was awakened by my actions . But how is it related to other monsters, sir?”
“The Chaos Emperor Dragon is not an Independent NPC but a player . In the past there were many Emperor Rank monsters who submitted to him or became his comrades, making Monster Follower pacts with him, me included . When he was sealed, the power of the seals seemed to be too strong, and that caused all his Monster Followers to enter a hibernation-like state . As the seals were broken, we were returned to this world . ”
“Ah! So the fifth one is the Chaos Emperor Dragon!!” Sila just unraveled a mystery . When he started the game, there were five players belonging to the dragon race . Four of them were Montra, Kawin, Revin, and Zazae while the last one was completely unknown . Afterward, the Wind Dragon Pythia incident caused a lot of dragon cards to drop and more players had changed into the dragon race, so no one cared about this mystery anymore . It remained unsolved until this very day .
However, if this was really the case, why did the system regard Montra as the strongest of the race? Shouldn’t the Chaos Emperor Dragon be the strongest without question? Could it be that he was excluded since he was sealed?
Actually, this situation was due to Hu Xian not being an actual dragon . He was a mutated dragon born from his ability as a former slime . Thus, although he was the strongest, the system regarded him as the lowest tier of the race .
Kiryu stood up and walked past Sila, Rex, and Lookhin . His previously fragile body suddenly seemed to be full of vitality .
“Where are you going, my lord?” asked Rex .
“I heard your previous conversation . Crow is smart and sly, and I’m sensing two more power signatures from the valley . Only Sila and you won’t be enough to handle them . ”
“My lord? Are you going to the Valley of Immortals?” Rex asked again to make sure he understood .
“Sila intended to go to begin with, and you have always been dissatisfied with Crow’s actions . In this case, today we will crush Madmen’s Valley . We will wage war as a memento for the deceased Single-Horned Dragons who have died by his hands,” Kiryu declared in a calm yet resolute manner . He slowly floated up above the ground using his qi . Meanwhile, Rex trembled with gratitude .
“Thank you, my lord, for assisting me in my quest of revenge . I’ll do my best!” Rex roared enthusiastically . His horn was glowing brightly .
“W-Wait . . . I’m not . . . ” Sila tried to tell them he didn’t intend to pick a fight with Crow . If possible he would like to solve this without violence . He just wanted to negotiate with Crow and ask him to return the Demonic Armament, Blade-Sharpening Dragon .
Unfortunately, fate seemed to play a prank on him . Kiryu and Rex misunderstood his intention of coming here as his acting upon a desire to fight against Crow, much like they did .
“Everyone, follow me . Be ready, Valley of Immortals . I, Kiryu, am coming at you!”
Kiryu’s shout was loud and clear . His qi shot forward like an arrow, striking the valley wall that was three kilometers away with the words ‘Xian Shan’ engraved on it . His qi was heavy and tangible, even chipping away a part of the valley . The beautifully engraved words were damaged and turned into dust . It was Kiryu’s way of warning the residents and also his declaration of war .
Qi was emitted throughout the forest . The mystifying orange glows lit up from every corner . The surging qi was so great that the earth quaked and the trees shook . All Single-Horned Dragons began to line up and leave their nests . Their destination was one and the same .
Their lord had returned . They wouldn’t have to be afraid of being kidnapped and eaten anymore . The time for their counterattack had finally arrived .
Either the Valley of Immortals or the Single-Horned Dragon Forest would be wiped out from the map on this historical day . Surprisingly or not, Sila unintentionally became involved in such a grand event once again .