Sila steadily circulated qi, accumulating power within himself while stimulating his senses using the Attribute of Fire . He was raising his concentration to prevent potential effects from Pumin’s Heaven’s Decree Sword Art, which was of a manipulative kind .
The first style, Inverted Ground, was the most basic move of Heaven’s Decree . It forced the opponent to take on the role of an attacker . Pumin’s sword clearly couldn’t reach Sila, but Sila felt like it was pressing against his neck . His instinct was fighting against his rationality . He had the urge to rush to Pumin, but he had to constantly suppress it .
Sila’s feet firmly stood on the ground as if he were a tree with strong roots . He exerted the Attribute of Wood and strengthened it with one more element . Blades made of qi enveloped his fingers, then combined into a bigger one as he fused them together . He waved his hand horizontally in a straightforward manner, breaking himself free from the contrasting feelings .
The Attribute of Fire supplemented the Attribute of Wood . The qi blade ignited, being engulfed in flames . Powerful waves of sword intent spread over, changing the climate from chilling cold to dry and scorching . Small trails of flames danced in the sky .
Pumin didn’t move from the spot he was standing . His right hand holding the sand sword stayed firm, while his left was clad with qi reinforcement . He flicked his index finger upward and the sand on the ground was pulled up, crashing against Sila’s sword waves and changing their trajectories .
Sila clad his palms with qi reinforcement, using qi to control qi . Abruptly changing the attributes from fire to water, the waves of sword intent dispersed and descended as a rain of swords . Each of the droplets fell at different speeds and sizes . They also didn’t focus solely on Pumin but spread over the area, closing off his escape route .
“Changing the form of already released sword energy? What a surprise! To think that you have reached this level of mastery!” Pumin praised his son . “The number of your opponents isn’t just one though . ”
Irene, who was standing behind Pumin, waved her hands . The rings, which used to hover around her and act like moving barriers, scattered . The raindrops of swords were pulled into the rings, spinning around their edges . The sword energy gradually lost their power as they did more laps around the rings . In the end, they were completely extinguished . No traces of the powerful attack from before were left .
“ . . . A defensive art!” Sila let out a soft exclamation .
Irene’s Gentle Moonbelt seemed to be similar to Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, at least in the sense that the core of the art was the shape of a circle .
Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws relied on physical contact, allowing the user to add their own power into performing a counterattack, though it came with the risk of having to fight at close range . Meanwhile, Gentle Moonbelt began with using Profound Qi Circulation Art to borrow the power of nature, the Great Flow, to manipulate wind and materialize circular objects possessing a power similar to that of a magnet . They could attract and repel the opponent’s force from a distance .
Gentle Moonbelt was several times inferior to Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws in the counterattacking aspect . However, it was better for the user’s safety, making it more suitable for female profound practitioners .
Based on Sila’s observations, his parents’ arts shared the same foundation . Their arts had low energy consumption rates . It was safe to say that they were technique-type profound practitioners .
Small attacks would never work against the two . Sila had to rely on martial moves that were either so complex that his parents couldn’t find a way to reduce his power, or so powerful that they could harm the target even when their power was reduced .
Nevertheless, he had to make sure he could actually land the hits first .
Sensing their power up close, Sila noticed that their type of energy was magical qi . Sila had seen Anubis using his power before, but he didn’t have magical qi back then . Now that he had Element-Changing Nightmare Magical Qi, he became aware of the differences between traditional qi and magical qi .
“You no longer have to rely on movements to exert the power of the five elements . Your growth exceeds my anticipation, Sila,” Pumin complimented again .
Sila didn’t dare to accept the compliment though . The technique he just used was what Dark Self imparted to him . Of course, Dark Self didn’t do it through verbal communication, but a silent sense of enlightenment .
Sila immediately came to realize what the ‘new moves’ Dark Self had mentioned were and how to use them . Dark Self must have judged that the situation was urgent, so he revealed the trump card he developed to Sila .
Dark Self’s new moves weren’t exactly new . It was simply a method of using Five-Attributed Cloud Qi in a way that was noticeably different from how Sila normally used it .
Originally, Sila had invented Five-Attributed Cloud Qi by focusing on achieving a bizarre qi art that allowed the practitioner to change their elemental affinity . However, at the time of creation, his strength was limited . For him to bring out the power of respective elements, he had to perform specific movements .
Now that he had completely mastered Flaming Cloud Qi, the Cloud Part helped him adapt his existing martial moves while the Flame Part purified and enhanced the quality of his inner force . Lastly, the Nirvana Part stabilized the duality between his body and mind . At long last, Sila’s Five-Attributed Cloud Qi evolved, becoming what Sila originally envisioned during its creation . Only the attribute of elements mattered while movements became meaningless . Sila could exert the power of five elements through everything . Even his unleashed sword intent was not an exception .
The same explanation applied to Weapon Subduing Fist . Sila possessed strong grip and finger strength from studying under Mora for years . Thanks to his diligent training and his level of mastery over Flaming Cloud Qi, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he had completely mastered Mora’s Nine Sun-Melting-Fists at this point .
Nine Sun-Melting-Fists focused on damaging the opponent’s acupuncture points, so it could be classified as a yizichan art . However, now that Sila had reached Mora’s level of mastery, he could exert its power through any part of his body, or even through objects he materialized using qi . This aspect elevated both Weapon Subduing Fist and Nine Sun-Melting-Fists beyond mere barehanded arts .
Understand the box to think outside the box . They were originally barehanded arts, but such a scope of understanding was simply too shallow for practitioners of the Flaming Cloud Dojo .
Sila moved his feet, surrounding the two with his twelve afterimages . The Attribute of Earth was hiding in his series of movements . One couldn’t discern which of the afterimages was actually him . A second later, he stomped and leaped forward . Qi blades poured at the center from all directions .
Gentle Moonbelt — Caring Embrace .
The rings overlapped and enlarged, spinning around Pumin and Irene . Sila’s qi blades delved into them, then sprang back .
Sila was still calm as one of the blades flew right between his eyebrows . He opened his mouth .
Racial Skill — Slime’s Roar .
Sila’s roar reverberated . The rings might be able to block and reflect his qi, but they couldn’t possibly block an attack with no form like sound .
Nine suntetsu flew at Pumin as Irene’s concentration broke and the defense line collapsed due to the ringing sound in her ears .
Clang! Clang! Clang!
Pumin’s sand sword stood tall, neatly blocking the hidden weapons . Well, Sila had anticipated that hidden weapons wouldn’t work on Pumin . At the same time, he had anticipated that Pumin would block them using the sword .
Sila heavily stomped the ground, breaking a massive stone plate . His posture was upright . He rode on the impact of the stomp, throwing a fist using the entirety of his body weight .
The move was called Nail Punch, one of Nine Sun-Melting-Fists’ martial moves . Not only did it shift the power of the entire body into the fist, but even the flow of qi circulation was used to strengthen it .
Pumin had just used his sword to intercept hidden weapons . The distance between him and Sila was too narrow for him to swing a sword, so he slightly moved the sword, using the flat surface of the blade to block Sila’s punch .
Upon impact, cracks appeared on the blade made of sand . Yet Sila didn’t stop . He relied on the recoil, retracting his punch, and stomped again .
This time, however, Sila’s stomp was like a spring . A knee instead of a punch came flying at Pumin .
Pumin had a difficult time coping . Still, he was glad to know that his son had grown this far .
‘He is using Mora’s fighting style . This will be troublesome . ’
Before he lost his life, Pumin had sparred with Mora a few times . The first few times when he revealed Heaven’s Decree Sword Art, Mora was defeated . However, Mora soon adapted to Pumin’s profound sword art and the rest of the spars were close fights .
Nine Sun-Melting-Fists was intensely offensive and highly continuous . Each attack led into the next . As time passed, the series of attacks would become quicker and more intense . The opponent would feel like they were surrounded by nine suns, being forced to stay defensive without a chance to counterattack . In the end, even their defense would be melted down .
At melee range, while Pumin couldn’t swing a sword, a sword master like him naturally had a method to widen the distance, using only the hilt of his sword . However, Sila was hyper-aggressive and left no room for Pumin to take even the slightest of offensive actions .
Defensive martial moves were a foreign concept in Nine Sun-Melting-Fists . That meant the art’s original inventor, Mora, was confident that they weren’t necessary .
A quick decision-making ability, quick wit, and agility that allowed the user to dodge melee attacks . These three battle instincts were the qualities Mora had drilled into Sila’s body through hard training .
In the past, Sila’s body couldn’t keep up with his battle instincts, resulting in his constant losses against other disciples and competitors . However, he now had full control over his body and mind . The two of them were united as one .
Heaven’s Decree Sword Art might be peerless, but Sila didn’t offer any windows of opportunity for Pumin to unleash its might .
If this was a typical battle, Pumin would have no reason to stay defensive . He only had to step away to widen the distance . However, regardless of whether this was within Sila’s calculations or not, Irene’s eardrums had been damaged . Her sense of balance was a bit off, slowing down her reaction speed, which wouldn’t be as severe if not for her lack of experience with fighting .
Sila deliberately forced her to become Pumin’s burden, pouring all of his attacks at Pumin while Irene was behind him . If Pumin dodged the attacks, Irene would be the one to receive them . The level of these attacks wasn’t something to be taken lightly . Even when their power was reduced, it would still cause serious injuries .
Getting injured in the middle of the fight against a user of Nine Sun-Melting-Fists was equivalent to hanging outside death’s door . She wouldn’t be able to escape the endless series of offensive attacks .
Irene was aware of it and was trying to assist her husband, using the rings to reduce the intensity of Sila’s attacks . However, her son was more competent than she had expected . He used Pumin as a shield, refusing her attempt to show her ability .
His fighting style that heavily pressed on his opponents was reminiscent of Mora’s, making him worthy of being named the main disciple of the Wulin Masters Association’s strongest Elder .
Pumin realized that the battle had turned into a war of attrition . The one who made the first mistake would lose . Nevertheless, with the Cloud Part of Flaming Cloud Qi, Sila wouldn’t make one easily . When getting serious, Mora could maintain his peak condition and keep attacking for an entire day . Sila wouldn’t be too different, especially when he was in the game .
Well, with his vast amount of fighting experience, Pumin wouldn’t make a mistake that easily either .
However, what about Irene? She gained levels from fighting monsters, not human opponents . The art he helped her come up with was a long-range defensive one . When it came to dynamic melee combat, it wouldn’t be wrong to call her an amateur . Because of this, Pumin couldn’t afford to wait for Sila to make mistakes . A chance was something he had to create himself .
Great Flow — Earth Form .
Using his feet as a medium, Pumin borrowed the power of the Great Flow . White vapor enveloped his feet as he stomped . The Great Flow delved into the ground, changing it into a desert in an instant . Sila, who had been relying on the recoil of his stomps to accelerate his movement speed, lost a bit of his momentum .
“Nine Sun-Melting-Fists’ weakness is that a firm foothold is vital for maximizing its efficiency . ”
Pumin drew the sword, slashing vertically at an insane speed . It was the opportunity to attack that he attained with hardship . There was no hesitation in his sword, not even out of parental sympathy .
Heaven’s Decree — Third Sword Style, Swirling Vortex .
The slash was simple and straightforward, yet it fully represented every component required for a killing move .
Sila’s posture momentarily broke due to the sudden change to his foothold . He wasn’t in a state where he could defend against this slash .
In that instant, time seemed to slow down in Pumin’s perspective thanks to his keen sense . He noticed the look in Sila’s eyes, which were filled with a refusal to give up . With the instinct he had honed from countless battles, Pumin retracted some of his power behind the sword to clad his body, raising his defense . His action was a good call, helping him, the God of Death, escape from death .
The moment when victory is within their sight is when people lower their guard, opening up a perfect opportunity to counterattack . This was what Pumin had taught Sila . Unexpectedly, his son used the same tactic against him .
Racial Skill — Moon Reflecting Mirror .
The attack power was too much for Sila to reflect all of it, returning only half to its sender . Nevertheless, that was enough to force Pumin to be preoccupied with negating the power in the counterattack . As a result, he had no time to defend against that thing he had just noticed from the corner of his left eye .
A large black panther suddenly appeared out of nowhere . It looked imposing and dangerous . Its body seemed to be purely made out of qi, so its presence was concealed perfectly thanks to Sila’s Qi Concealment . In any case, its dignified form was tangible as if it were real . No, it was even scarier than a real black panther .
Tiger Dragon Qi — Avatar Manifestation .
The black panther mercilessly lunged at Pumin . Even master-class fighters will be defeated if they are forced to receive a powerful blow when they can’t defend . Pumin would be in a very tough spot today if not for Irene using Gentle Moonbelt to intervene .
Gentle Moonbelt — Longevity .
Sila’s power in the form of the black panther shrank by forty percent before crashing into Pumin and Irene, blowing the two away .
Sila didn’t continue his attack as he stood in place, circulating qi of the wood element to heal the wound he had gotten from Pumin’s previous slash .
Pumin got up . The sand sword in his hand completely crumbled . He activated the Great Flow to crystallize another one .
“That black panther was very shocking . Its presence was concealed so well . ”
Sila flatly explained, “Heaven’s Decree isn’t suitable against many opponents, so I tried out this method . ”
“Performing a combination attack by yourself? What an intriguing idea . A living manifestation of qi was also amazing . Hmm . . . I didn’t expect to be cornered to this degree . ”
“Dad, you were cornered because . . . you didn’t fight alone . ”
Common sense says that fighting with comrades is usually better than fighting alone . However, for Pumin, who had fought solo his entire life, fighting together became a burden .
“Right . . . sorry about that, Irene . Can you just stay put for now?”
“It’s okay, sweetheart . I’m sorry I was a burden . ”
“Don’t say that . You’re just inexperienced . This kind of thing takes time to learn . ”
Irene stood still while Pumin strode forward, pointing his sword at Sila .
“Sila, you remind me of a certain someone . Can you guess who?”
Sila took a battle stance . His mind didn’t waver . “Do you mean Teacher Mora?”
Pumin nodded then shook his head . “That’s also true, but you remind me more of someone else . He is a man who I deeply respect . ”
A person who the Sword Prodigy, a prideful and lofty sword master, deeply respects? Naturally, Sila was curious about the identity of such a person .
“Do I know them?”
“You’ve heard his name before . He is Zenga, the Demon God—Mora’s teacher and also your grand-teacher . ”
The Demon God Zenga, again . His name had always been mentioned by many of Sila’s mentors, and each time he learned something new, his opinion of the man changed . He couldn’t guess at all what Zenga’s inherent personality was .
“Can you tell me more about the Demon God Zenga, Dad?”
“Of course, I will, but you have to win first,” Pumin replied as he took three steps forward, reaching the distance where Heaven’s Decree Sword Art could maximize its power .