Within merely an hour, the Shadow Army had managed to successfully seize the city . The main reason was that they raided the city where no one was really into defending it . They surrounded the city from all directions and launched attacks at an unexpected time . Colossia City had once been under the Royal Armament Guild’s management, so the city layout was known by the Shadow Army’s upper echelon . They could avoid the chokepoints with heavy defenses and aim to strike at the weakest links, acquiring victory with as few casualties as possible .
The Shadow Army’s flags loftily flapped atop poles throughout the city . The flags had a simple yet imposing design: a pitch-black background with a white mask in the middle . The largest flag was set up above the Colosseum, replacing the previous one, which was an illustration of a white Chinese dragon . Its presence heightened the morale of the Shadow Army’s members .
Bluebird stood in the middle of the city, on the Colosseum’s roof . Meanwhile, the rest of the members affiliated with the Shadow Army were spreading out along the city walls, waiting for the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s attack force to arrive .
Originally, Sila’s plan had covered only important roles and tasks . However, after brainstorming with Beluga and Cross, the plan was upgraded, including more details . They weren’t afraid of the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s attempt to reclaim the city . Instead, their only fear was that the guild might not attempt it .
A city under their management was suddenly snatched away by a mysterious army led by Zero . Cross believed the Heavenly Dragon Guild would surely send an army to reclaim it, or at least test the strength of their new adversary . It was especially logical when taking into account that Colossia City was still regarded as Montra’s territory since some of their members were still hiding in the city and had yet to be wiped out . With Montra’s Emperorship, their army would get an insane increase of 50% in stats while fighting .
What was unclear to the three—Sila, Cross, and Beluga—was which army would come .
Colossia City was in between the three main cities, allowing easy access from any of them . While Zhongsuyuan City had the lowest possibility since their manpower was already lacking, the remaining two had no such issues . Both Lafesta City and Siaferia City had enough manpower to spare . The Floating Magic Kingdom was full of elite members of the Heavenly Dragon Guild while the Android Kingdom possessed the army of Lord Rank Android Soldiers . Both armies were equally potent, so the three couldn’t tell which would come .
Soon, red fireworks were shot up at the north side of the city, delivering a certain meaning .
Witnessing it, Bluebird accelerated his speed and dashed to the north gate . He let out a sigh of relief while sending messages to Beluga, Sila, and Cross .
The marching army came from the Floating Kingdom . This way, they would have a way to protect the city .
Not only did this raid act as a diversion for Sila’s raid in Zhongsuyuan City, but it also served as a confirmation of a certain vague fact . That was how much authority the city ruler had over the city’s monsters .
Among the various city monster types, the androids were the most problematic due to their high levels and their information-sharing network . The androids were disposable monsters and could easily travel in groups with the help of the teleportation service . However, the Heavenly Dragon Guild didn’t utilize them . It could be interpreted as they couldn’t .
For psychic-types, as long as there wasn’t an explicit restriction, that would mean the action was allowed . The fact that the android army didn’t come implied that there was a clear limitation to the android race’s mobility .
Bluebird’s confirmation served as solid evidence . Actually, it was logical . The army of Lord Rank monsters was something far from normal in the New World . If they could freely roam around, the city ruler would be able to more or less conquer the world . Thus, they had a limited range, preventing them from going particularly far from Siaferia . If they were too far from the city, they would lose the energy received from the city and cease to function, turning into nothing but a heap of metal .
At least the world of Monster Soul wasn’t too hard on Sila and his friends . This discovery meant the only army they had to be wary of was the one from Lafesta City .
Bluebird stopped his feet at the edge of the wall, trying his best to act like Zero . Narin wasn’t someone talkative from the start, so things should be fine as long as he properly shut his mouth and imposingly put on airs . Although he was the leader of the army, most people rarely dared to approach him, all looking at him with eyes full of awe and respect .
The flag showing the illustration of a dragon wavered in the wind . The Heavenly Dragon Guild army, which was usually stationed in Lafesta City, marched forward . It took them only two hours to arrive at Colossia City, which was unbelievably fast .
The citizens of Lafesta City were given full support regarding items, hidden quests, and special training . Just a glance was enough to know that each member was extremely skilled and loyal .
No one else could give them the same things that Montra had given, not even the Wicked Union . Thus, there was no way they would betray the Heavenly Dragon Guild .
Everything that Montra had provided to those affiliated to him was something beyond what other people could replicate . Only he—who monopolized wealth, items, and hidden quests from the three main cities—could attract people with benefits of this degree .
When Bluebird studied Montra’s series of achievements from the reports he was forced to read, he acknowledged that Montra was indeed a freak not inferior to Sila . No, the man might even surpass Sila by a great margin . While he had been traveling with Sila, witnessing several amazing feats and legendary tales, Montra was accomplishing task by task in the dark .
In fact, People’s responses to Montra’s achievements were especially dull . For them, it was dramatic when an ordinary person accomplishes an unexpected feat . On the contrary, it was quite normal for a genius to overcome obstacles beyond a normal human’s capability .
To conquer the unsealed cities, there were only two methods . The first was to kill the current city conqueror while they were in the city . However, thanks to Montra’s Emperorship—Emperorship of Guardian Spirit—in addition to granting his comrades a 50% increase in overall stats within his territories, it also prevented the city ruler from losing the city so long as at least one ally still remained within .
To hunt down every single ally, who could hide literally anywhere in the city, that was time-consuming and labor-extensive .
The second method was exceptionally difficult . It was to complete the conquering quest at a higher difficulty level than what the current conqueror had done . It sounded plausible . . . unless one took into account the quests which Montra had completed .
—Killed every single android unit in the city, including the Android King Orpheus, in a single attack .
—Discovered the King of the Lost Magic Kingdom, who no one had ever witnessed, and answered ten questions, which no players had answered correctly, and was given full marks . The scope of the questions covered all magical events in Monster Soul .
—Lastly, survived against the hunt of Warrior Souls, which lasted for thirty days straight, without hiding, counterattacking, evading, using skills, or receiving damage .
Just any of the three was already close to impossible, but Montra managed to complete all three of them . It wasn’t strange anymore to know that he also managed to successfully complete the Impossible Quest from the Goddess .
Recalling the contents of the reports, Bluebird released a heavy sigh . He thought about the unfairness of the world, which blessed some people with everything while making the rest ordinary .
Well, that might just be an excuse . If someone asked Bluebird whether he thought of Zero as someone with talent, he would say yes . However, he was aware that Narin, his close friend, had always been enjoying practicing martial arts . The man always dragged him to the dojo near their houses without skipping a day . As for the story within the game, based on his research, he found that Zero also had a hard time . The man was diligently doing quests and training, overcoming crises and discovering opportunities . It could be said that it took great effort before the man was recognized as the Shadow Emperor .
The members of the Shadow Army gathered along the north wall of the city . The arriving army was waving a red flag with a dragon symbol, indicating that it belonged to the Five Dragon Warlords .
Looking afar, they noticed that the leader of the army was Lost Ghost, the Black Star Warlord . The army he brought today consisted of elite members, all of them at Marquis Rank . Their weapons were of high quality . Their power had undergone changes due to the special quests . They were extremely eager to unleash their full strength .
Bluebird didn’t want to believe that hundreds of powerhouse-class players could pop up in such a short period of time .
In the world where everyone was special, no one would be special . All people were equal . This was the world that Montra aspired to create .
The title Shadow Emperor was revered among players . In any case, Zero was one of the strongest players, inferior only to Montra . Just seeing his figure on the edge of the wall, some Heavenly Dragon Guild members unconsciously slowed down, afraid that they might die to an ambush which was faster than the eye could follow .
Nevertheless, among the Heavenly Dragon Guild members, there were those who essentially weren’t gamers but martial artists belonging to the Wulin Masters Association . They held no fear toward the Shadow Emperor .
For them, Monster Soul was merely a world for gamers . It couldn’t hope to compete with the underground world they had been living in since birth .
‘Is everyone in position?’ Bluebird observed the people on his side and found that it would take a little bit longer before they were ready .
Although he had challenged Montra to take the city back, it was just a bluff . It had long been discussed that if the Heavenly Dragon Guild really came, Bluebird alone, plus groups of guildless players, would stand no chance . Hence, no matter what happened, a direct clash was the first thing to avoid .
The key point of their strategy was to appear invincible, instilling a sense of fear into enemies and making them not dare to attack .
They were ‘Shadows . ’ Formless and untouchable, yet dark and fearful, striking terror in the minds of anyone and everyone they met .
As they were wary of traps, the Heavenly Dragon Guild had yet to launch an attack .
Lost Ghost took two steps forward and opened his mouth . His voice was loud, enhanced by psychic power . “Sir Zero, aren’t you a member of the Heavenly Dragon Guild? What does this mean?”
Bluebird, mimicking Zero’s voice, replied, “It means this city already belongs to the Shadow Army . That’s all . ”
“What exactly do you want, Sir Zero? What about the agreement between you and Sir Montra?”
“Heh . Do you know the contents of our agreement? Just tell Montra that it has all been voided . Anyway, stop barking! If you want the city back, just come!”
Both Sila and Bluebird were clueless regarding the agreement between Montra and Zero, and they doubted Lost Ghost would know . Thus, they had discussed and decided that once asked, they would blatantly disregard and ignore the matter .
To prevent Lost Ghost from asking too many questions and reveal the fact that he was a fake, Bluebird had to stop the conversation .
“I have nothing more to say to the likes of you . ” Bluebird crossed his arms .
A man behind Bluebird stepped forward . He didn’t wear a mask . Apparently, he was a guildless player .
“My name is Frenzy Sword, a spokesperson who is the representative of our two great leaders . From now on, every place under the flag of the Shadow Army will be regarded as ours . We yield to neither the Heavenly Dragon Guild nor the Wicked Union . ”
“Wait, Sir Zero . . . ” Lost Ghost spoke, but Bluebird no longer paid him any mind .
“I told you I’m the representative . If you want to say something, say it to me . ”
Frenzy Sword was a player who admired Sila’s strength and personality . Their relationship might be shallow, having only met each other once or twice . In any case, he had met Sebastian and agreed to take part in the strategy .
His fighting ability was mediocre, but his charisma was impressive . In fact, during the crisis in Zhongsuyuan City, it was Frenzy Sword who persuaded players to help Tiger .
Lost Ghost shifted his gaze to Frenzy Sword, feeling humiliated . He rarely had to hold a conversation with no-name players .
“What did you mean by ‘two’ great leaders?”
Frenzy Sword was thrilled . The Heavenly Dragon Guild’s Five Warlords had always been aloof existences . They wouldn’t stoop and lower themselves to converse with him under normal circumstances . Now, however, Lost Ghost had to raise his head and talk to him, even showing a tinge of consideration . Sure, he was aware that the person Lost Ghost was afraid of offending was Zero, not him . Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but feel flattered .
“We are shadows . The Heavenly Dragon Guild’s greatness may reach the sky, creating a utopia on Earth and representing itself as a bright light . However, wherever light exists, there shall be shadows .
“While people siding with the Heavenly Dragon Guild are reaping many benefits, people who aren’t interested in joining a guild are abandoned—be it a wandering martial artist, a bankrupted merchant, or a group of bandits who were wiped out . We were but ordinary players who struggled to survive in the harsh world of Monster Soul . However, with the changes brought about by the Heavenly Dragon Guild, we could no longer go on, leaving us no choice but to band together .
“Our two great leaders gathered us, who were like grains of sand, to join forces . They gave us hope and a way to survive in this world full of despair . ”
Listening to the speech, Bluebird thought it was overdramatic . Frenzy Sword’s praises almost made him fly . In fact, he would have already flown, if not for the fact that everything the man mentioned was done by Sebastian alone .
“ . . . One of our leaders is Zero, the Shadow Emperor . As for the other one, while his reputation might be unheard of today, his fame will undoubtedly spread to every corner of Monster Soul . His title is . . . the Sword Prodigy . ”
As soon as the speech had ended, heavy silence crashed on the people belonging to the Wulin Masters Association . They swept their eyes to a particular man standing next to Zero . He was an imposing man wearing a plain white mask .
The name Pumin, the Sword Prodigy, was a legend by itself . A few months ago, Montra had confirmed to them that the news about the man’s return was just a baseless rumor . However, for the Sword Prodigy to make an appearance in this place . . . maybe that wasn’t the case .
Of course, the Sword Prodigy in front of them was a fake . The reason why it was a norm for the Shadow Army’s members to wear masks wasn’t something complicated . It was to lower people’s suspicions about why the Sword Prodigy didn’t remove his mask .
While the man’s clothing seemed simple and his sword looked ordinary, his stance was that of a master-class fighter . The flashes in his eyes, in which flames seemed to have been trapped, were fierce yet serene .
The martial world’s living legend was standing before them . The Wulin Masters Association’s members instantly became breathless . They were speechless and had no clue as to how they should respond .
Pumin was the candidate who had already completed the mission before he left . His strength and level of accomplishments were beyond Sila’s and Montra’s combined .
They heard that Pumin’s personality was decisive and ruthless, showing no mercy to anyone . He had only recently started playing the game, yet he already had his own army . If they were to offend him, their dojo might be wiped out before they know it .
The thought of checking the validity of the man’s identity never crossed their minds . Just the name Sword Prodigy was enough to make them lose their will to fight . No one dared to be the first to step up and prove his identity .
Lost Ghost’s system window suddenly popped up . It was an emergency message from Montra, ordering him and his army to withdraw right away . The order came directly from Montra . Lost Ghost was clueless about what was happening .
Personally, he thought the so-called Sword Prodigy was just Zero’s puppet . On the contrary, the association’s members thought that Zero was just the Sword Prodigy’s puppet .
Unbeknownst to them, both were Sila’s .
Sila relied on the fact that the Heavenly Dragon Guild was divided into two main factions: gamers and the association’s members . He secretly founded a third force, which had low combat ability but fame equal to the biggest players in Monster Soul . No one would dare to offend them, not even Montra himself . They were fearful Red Pieces, suddenly showing up on the board where Blacks and Whites were competing .
Montra had investigated news about Pumin for a long period of time . So far, there had been no sign of the man, making him feel a sense of relief .
Now, however, Pumin suddenly emerged and joined the war . It was a big smack to Montra’s face . He had to re-evaluate the situation from scratch .
The names of people are sometimes greater than their abilities . The name Shadow Army shook the world of Monster Soul in the span of a single night, becoming a new army who had a shot at winning the war event aside from the currently dominating Heavenly Dragon Guild and the challenging Wicked Union .
The game forum was filled with discussions and anticipations, speculating which one will come out on top . Will it be the residents of Heaven, the Wicked ones, or the Shadows?
The discussions were especially active when they centered around the dark horse, the Shadow Army, which was like the darkness engulfing a land with insane speed, soundlessly and mercilessly .