Chapter 297: A Plan to Overtake the Android Kingdom
Sanon’s departure left Sila with many questions unanswered . In any case, the path ahead of him was long and there were no shortcuts . He only had to take one step at a time until he reached his goal .
Ocean-Surrounding Dragon Technique was indeed a supreme profound art . It was no surprise that people considered it equal to Flaming Cloud Qi . It was especially awesome when used by Sanon, the art’s original inventor . Thinking up to this point, Sila realized that the martial world was indeed a huge place .
He was particularly interested in the character of the Demon God Zenga, his teacher’s teacher and his grandteacher . The Demon God seemed to possess an extreme personality . Sila was concerned that it was due to Flaming Cloud Qi, famous for being the Most Bizarre Art . An important factor when wielding the art was to maintain the balance between the Cloud Part and the Flame Part . His teacher, Mora, specialized in the Cloud Part, so he could retain his true self, though his flames weren’t unique like Zenga’s who specialized in the Flame Part .
Sila ignited qi flame on his palm . The black flame burned fiercely . Such a unique flame implied that he specialized in the Flame Part more than the Cloud Part . He wondered if this could mean that he was turning into the second coming of Demon God Zenga . Will Flaming Cloud Qi consume his personality and turn him into a totally different person? Will he one day completely lose himself and become Dark Self?
Sila silently exited the Valley of Immortals . There were many thoughts occupying his mind . Regardless, they all disappeared once he heard a familiar voice .
“Where’d your mind go? Be careful not to walk into a tree, Sila . ” The goddess in a blue kimono stood in front of him . Standing next to her was Vata in a green magician robe .
“Varee? Miss Vata? Why are you here?” Sila approached the two and greeted them . He had thought they were in Siaferia City . Although the city was close to the Single-Horned Dragon Forest, people rarely visited the forest since it was rumored that the dragons became more violent .
Lookhin flew from Sila’s shoulder and landed on Varee’s palm . She chirped in a good mood . Varee stroked her once and turned to Sila .
“Nam accidentally met Big Sis Vata this morning . Big Sis speculated that Sila must be in the Single-Horned Dragon Forest, so we decided to come and search . ”
“Hm? Didn’t you encounter Single-Horned Dragons on your way?” Sila looked left and right and didn’t find any Single-Horned Dragon . Expanding his profound sense, he discovered that they were staying at a distance without approaching . It was very unnatural .
Vata came closer and held onto Sila’s left hand, which made his body immediately heat up . His qi became frantic, prompting him to cool his head using the Cloud Part . As he had calmed down, he wondered why she dared to take this kind of bold action in front of Varee .
“I was very scared, but my feelings of wanting to see you were stronger . Maybe it’s because I’m a member of the dragon race that there was no problem . ”
Varee’s expression changed from cheerful to emotionless . Even a thoughtless person like Sila could tell that her mood worsened . However, shaking his arm off Vata would be rather rude . When he was still contemplating, he sensed a circulation of inner force . He quickly stared at Vata .
As Vata’s power was circulating within her body, she opened her mouth and let out a sound . The sound coming out of her mouth wasn’t an ordinary voice, but the Goddess’ voice that could charm listeners to obey her . Vata was manipulating Varee who had lowered her guard .
“Varee, you wanted to see Sila as well, did’t you? It’s been a while since you two last met . I’m sure you must have a lot to talk about . ”
Varee’s expression became a lot brighter . She nodded . The anger she showed previously completely left without a trace, replaced by the feelings of joy .
“That’s right! It’s been a while, Sila . How have you been?”
Varee walked to Sila and hugged his right arm tightly while showing her sweet smile . Sila’s body jerked by a soft touch . Both his arms were sealed . He circulated qi to control himself while ensuring his power didn’t harm the two women .
“What did you do, Himeko?!” Sila sent her a sound transmission .
“Do you like it?” The reply was teasing . Vata was like the wind . Sometimes she was playful, sometimes she was serious . Sila couldn’t read her intentions .
Actually, Sila only asked out of reaction . He was aware that she had used Goddess’ Resonance on Varee . This dark art could control the target’s emotions and feelings to a terrifying degree . It could cause a person to hold a deep grudge against someone they had only just met for the first time, or make a person fall in love with their enemy like they were soulmates in a past life .
It was the most mysterious dark art among the Hell’s Gate Islands . The art which could manipulate people’s emotions however the user wished and also the art which Flaming Cloud Qi was weak against . Hence, Sila had to handle her with extreme caution by constantly maintaining his sense of self .
Sila requested, or rather ordered Vata . Then, the power in his body began to cool down as Vata let go of his hand and stepped back .
“Sila, you are going to plan how to raid the Android Kingdom, right? In that case, let’s move to a spot I just found . We can see the city from afar that way . ”
Sila gave a silent nod . Finding that Varee was still clinging to him, he frowned . Again, he sent a sound transmission to Vata .
“I said stop, Himeko . ”
Vata turned back, looking at him with her mischievous eyes . “But I already have . ”
Sila felt his temperature rising again . He took a side glance at Varee, who was silently walking by his side while avoiding eye contact . Her body temperature seemed to become slightly higher .
Witnessing so, Sila decided to say nothing more about it . He gradually followed Vata to the place she mentioned .
After walking for fifteen minutes, the three arrived at a certain edge of the forest, which was quite a high hill . Looking down, they could see Siaferia City, the city which was twice as large as the old Grea City . There was a giant semi-transparent golden barrier dome surrounding the city .
“That’s a protective barrier . Until this day, no attack has ever succeeded in penetrating it . It’s speculated that only an extremely powerful qi will have a shot at breaking it,” explained Vata .
“It’s based on the natural order . Psychic power is strong against magic power but weak against qi . So, it must be easier to destroy a protective barrier made of psychic power using qi than any other energy type . Anyway, the barrier is supplemented by an enormous amount of energy, so I guess a similar amount of qi will be required . ”
“How about we sneak in using skills?” asked Sila . Monster Soul was a game with a high degree of freedom . There shouldn’t be only one way to raid the city .
“That’s not impossible, but Siaferia City is the metropolis of psychic power . There is a huge psychic-jamming device set up in the center of the city . People entering the city by using items or skills will likely end up being forcefully teleported into an area surrounded by enemies . We may be able to pull it off if the levels of the skills are higher than the device’s . However, that means only high-level psychic-type players will be able to enter . We can’t go in as an army . ”
Sila scratched his head, giving it a thought . “Well, a few are still better than nothing . We should at least have some spies in the city . Including the citizens of Belacia City, how many of our people do you think would be able to get inside?”
“I have seen some of them fighting in the Dragon Kingdom . Even with them included, there should still be less than ten people capable of pulling it off . ”
“Enough to cause some chaos, but not enough to conquer the city, is it?”
Vata nodded . “Yes, especially since Siaferia City is managed by artificial intelligences . Android Soldiers always strictly follow the procedure . Just causing chaos will be difficult . ”
Sila looked at the problem from a different perspective . “Following procedure strictly means their countermeasures are fixed and predictable . If we know their countermeasures in advance, we can exploit them during wartime . ”
“What is your plan?”
Sila opened his system window . A hologram of Julia soon appeared . She asked, “What can I do for you, Master?”
“Julia, how much money do I have left?”
Several smaller system windows floated up in front of Sila as Julia explained, “Most of your assets are in the form of items . If we are talking about cash on hand, Master has 189,547 gold and 3,544,589 silver that you can use right away . In addition, with your credit, you can loan 2,000,000 gold from the bank, Master . ”
This level of wealth was undeniably a lot for an individual . Sila had the option to abandon everything, exchange all his money for real cash, and live a comfortable life for four to five years . However, Montra was putting everything on the line for the war, so how could he just back off?
Sila turned to Vata, “Miss Vata, please use my 150,000 gold to hire players who don’t plan to participate in the war event, forming a small army . They will have their levels reduced once, but the money should make it worthwhile . The army’s objective is not to win, but to test the city’s countermeasures .
“Regarding the barrier, I’ll request the union to borrow Shueria’s strength . He is a psychic-type expert, so I hope he can help the army sneak into the city . At the same time, we should ask him to try testing the barrier’s power . If he can’t break it, we will have to find other methods . ”
Vata listened attentively while Varee said nothing . In the last war event, Varee didn’t take a side . She didn’t have any particular expectations from the event . It was just that she liked to participate . In her opinion, Sila’s strategy was moderately decent against such a firm stronghold . Nevertheless, there was a certain someone who disagreed with Sila’s method .
That someone was none other than Dark Self .
“Why do you have to make this overly complicated, Sila? Isn’t there a far simpler method? Just tell Kawin about Sanon’s secret, and their strong bonds of loyalty will be shaken . He may even join ours if you promise you’ll help him get his revenge once you become the Wulin Lord . ” Dark Self’s voice echoed in Sila’s head .
“I will not use that kind of method . . . ” Sila argued through mental communication .
“The essence of war is cruelty . Anything is acceptable during the war . Even murderers are called heroes in wartime . Humans are animals . War is just a wild jungle . ”
“That method is wrong . ”
“Right or wrong, who gets to decide that? Is it your conscience? Revin was right about you, then . Sila, you are such a fake, pretending to be a good person,” scorned Dark Self .
“I’m not pretending to be anyone . I just feel that it’s wrong to do that . ”
“Rather, you’re just afraid to dirty your hands . Instead of becoming a sole bad guy and minimizing your losses, you choose to send tons of people to die for you . Is this right for your conscience? What is goodness, then? What exactly are you doing good deeds for? Fishing for compliments? Isn’t doing good deeds supposed to be for others instead of yourself? With my method, you may look like a shameless villain who sells people’s secrets for your own interests . However, this action will prevent thousands of lives from dying in this war . Isn’t that a genuinely good deed?”
“They won’t die for real . This is a game . ”
“Don’t make excuses . What if this wasn’t a game? Are you saying you would choose differently?”
Sila frowned . “What you said was right . Even if this happened in real life, I would do the same . I will try to find the best solution . ”
“The best solution . The so-called happy ending, huh? That kind of thing exists only in fiction . In real life, sometimes only terrible options exist for you to choose . Oftentimes there won’t be such a situation where everyone gets along happily ever after . One way or another, there will always be someone who suffers . If a happy ending can be found so easily, a word like miracle wouldn’t exist . ”
“If there isn’t one, I will make it myself, that miracle you’re speaking of . Just you wait,” Sila abruptly put an end to the conversation .
Dark Self was considered one of Sila’s long-term problems . An unsolved time bomb . His suggestions always hit the marks and were effective, yet severe and excessive at the same time . He represented the cold and calculative side of Sila . At first Dark Self was just a small voice of conscience and a subtle feeling of tenacity inside Sila . However, his state of existence became clearer lately, which Sila suspected was due to Flaming Cloud Qi . If there was one day that his state of existence became too strong, Sila would become Dark Self before he even realized .
Sila looked at the Android Kingdom in a daze . He hadn’t read many books in his lifetime, but there was a certain book he repeatedly read until every word was ingrained in his memory . It was the Story of A Hundred Swords . He wondered that, in this kind of time, against the impenetrable city, what would his father do?
“Miss Vata, can I have a look at the map again?”
Vata handed him a scroll, which Sila unwrapped and opened it next to Varee, who was also taking a glance at it . Exactly as Vata had described, the city had no openings to exploit . It was impenetrable at first glance .
Sila furrowed his brows . He flipped the map up and down . Seeing his action, Varee was doubtful, so she asked, “What are you doing? Why are you flipping it?”
“Ah, it’s nothing . I’m trying to look at the map from different perspectives . By the way, Miss Vata, is this the entirety of the map?”
Vata tilted her head . “Yes, that already includes the entire structure of the city . ”
Sila opened the map again, showing the two . “This map is written in a top-down perspective, right?”
The two women looked at each other, confusion clearly shown in their eyes . “Isn’t that normal for maps?”
“That’s true, but that’s in-the-box thinking . I want to see the city in three dimensions . Is it possible? That way, we will know whether there is something above . . . ” Sila paused as he smiled, “ . . . or underneath . ”
Sila recalled the Story of A Hundred Swords regarding the fourteenth sword dojo that Pumin defeated . The dojo’s swordsmanship centered around perfect defense using dual swords . Pumin eventually succeeded in his attacks by aiming at the opponent’s ankle, which was out of the dual swords’ range .
Sila was trying to adapt Pumin’s problem-solving ability in a sword duel to use in the raid .
“I’m curious . Since the underground Lost Grea City has been lifted up and combined with Grea City to make Siaferia City, what is underneath Siaferia City right now? An empty space or what? If we can’t raid the city using normal means, will it be possible for us to raid it through an underground tunnel?”
Vata could understand Sila’s idea instantly . “Not a bad idea . Anyway, digging a tunnel to raid the city is a method that has never been done before . We don’t know whether it will work . In addition, I have never heard of any player possessing digging-related skills . For us to make a tunnel that an army can march through, who knows how much manpower is required? This method’s strong point is its surprise factor . If we plan to hire a large number of players, just one spy can ruin the entire plan . ”
“What if we don’t rely on players?”
“Are you planning to use monsters? That’s a decent idea,” Vata gave her opinion, “Nevertheless, your monsters are being monitored as well . While it’s true that the dwarf race would be a great help, if many dwarfs were to suddenly disappear, it’s almost certain that people will find it suspicious . It risks them finding out that we’re working on something under the surface . ”
“What if Lookhin is the only one missing?” Sila pointed at the sparrowhawk on Varee’s palm . “There is no need for us to hurry . Let her use her magic to gradually dig a tunnel . We can declare that we’ll raid Siaferia City first, while, in fact, our real target is Zhongsuyuan City . Maybe we will have our secret force attack Colossia City at the same time . Siaferia City will be our next target after those, and Lafesta City will be the last . ”
Varee frowned . “You make it sound easy and possible, but your plan lacks a lot of details . ”
“We’ll think about it later . The more complicated the plan is, the more it is prone to error . Better make it simple . It’s only a general outline anyway . We’ll have to come up with strategies according to the situations at hand . ”
“Well, I guess our business here is done, then,” said Varee .
Sila shook his head as he took out the metal box containing the problematic black dragon scale . He opened the box to show the two what was inside .
“Not yet . I want you two to help me with something . This will be related to the final battle between me and Montra . I’ll explain now . ”