Sila stood before the greatest opponent he had ever fought . Pumin was superior to him in all aspects, be it level, combat strength, stats, skills, and even experience . Sila had to wrack his brain, searching for a way to win the fight . Otherwise, he must at least drag on the fight for as long as possible . The so-called duels were just pretenses, which both Revin and he knew . Once someone won their duel, they would be free to join their teammates and help . In any case, the most decisive match was the one between Revin and Burapha .
Sila’s feet were on a soft cushion of sand . Pumin had previously decomposed the ground using the power of the Great Flow . Without stable footholds, Nine Sun-Melting-Fists, Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, and even Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps couldn’t display their full potential . Coupled with Pumin’s Heaven’s Decree Sword Art that continued putting a mental strain on him, Sila knew his overall strength was greatly suppressed . Even when he was completely uninjured and full of qi energy, he could exert only twenty percent of his full fighting capability .
Sila no longer doubted how his father could manage to subdue a hundred sword dojo despite Pumin having just crippled himself and reformed his own cultivation back then . In front of the Sword Prodigy, who utilized the Heaven’s Decree Sword Art, no matter how great his opponents were, they wouldn’t be able to show their best .
The qi blades in Sila’s hands began to disintegrate . Pumin had yet to use Heaven’s Decree, but the art’s concept alone was threatening enough . The principle behind Heaven’s Decree was to redirect the Great Flow, which was profound energy existing in nature . In the game, said energy was classified as magic-type .
Anubis’s Soul-Eroding Magical Qi was expanded using Galaxy Eclipse, enclosing Sila and himself within a giant sphere .
Soul-Eroding Magical Qi had the property of gradually eroding intangible substances, including basic energies such as qi, psychic, and magic power . The eroded power would disintegrate and become a part of nature . The scary part was that the eroded power would never recover, with the exception of beings who had attained the essence of magic . Such beings could absorb mana in nature and utilize it .
Among the players who knew about the essence of magic, Sila was one of the few talented ones who had actually received enlightenment regarding it and could use the essence . There was a problem, however . He had always been heavily reliant on using his own magic power . Utilizing ambient mana was a foreign concept for him, though not completely . In fact, the art he inherited from Pumin, the Great Flow, was technically an art that involved using ambient mana to bend reality .
Sila felt his special points slowly dispersing . The longer the duel dragged on, the worse his situation would get . On the other hand, Pumin, who could proficiently borrow mana, would only become more formidable .
Sila tried borrowing the power from the Great Flow . However, it didn’t work . Mana seemed to have a will . It refused to listen to him, and he didn’t understand why . Mana was abundant in the air . He could feel it, so why couldn’t he use it?
“It’s useless, my pertinacious master . ” Zarnak revealed the answer, “Anubis’ Union Percentage is higher than yours . Magic power and magic-types pay close attention to the differences in levels . If he doesn’t use it, then it’s fine . However, if he wills it, there is no way you can borrow even a measly amount of mana in his presence . ”
Mana, also known as the power of nature, was necessary for unleashing the might of Heaven’s Decree Sword Art . This meant Sila wouldn’t be able to use Heaven’s Decree against an opponent who possessed a higher Unison Percentage than him . This was a vital piece of information to know .
“Since you don’t plan to escape, your chance of victory is quite slim, I must say . ”
Zarnak was right . Against such a formidable foe, the best and logical course of action should be escaping . Nevertheless, Sila never chose an easy path . Even if stepping back was easier, he would still choose to take a step forward, pushing himself into a dangerous corner . He did that literally . At first he had only been in Heaven’s Decree’s effective range, but now he was also within Pumin’s reach .
No words were needed between profound practitioners . Pumin’s lips curved up satisfyingly . Sila witnessed the instant when rivers of mana flowed into Pumin’s sand sword . It was a breathtaking scene . For Sila, however, he didn’t have the luxury to admire the mesmerizing sight even for a split of a second .
Heaven’s Decree — Fifth Sword Style, Triple Lightning Bolts .
The attack’s blinding light was like a flash of lightning on a day with a clear sky . The slash split from one to three . Lightning bolts rarely hit the same place twice in quick succession, but Heaven’s Decree Sword Art disregarded probability . Three lightning blades darted at Sila from different angles . It was a killing move that combined three strikes into one blow . Used by the Sword Prodigy, the move seemed to be able to shave off three lives from a single target .
Formless Martial God — Nameless Spirit .
Sila’s body bent and turned unnaturally . He evaded the three strikes altogether at a distance that should’ve made dodging impossible . His bodily movements were completely strange to the eyes .
Many martial artists could predict their opponent’s future movements by reading the flexing and contracting of muscles . However, what Sila had just done defied common sense . His actions indicated stepping back, but he bent his upper body instead .
Being reminded by Zarnak, Sila got an idea . Since he currently couldn’t rely on most of his martial arts, he should rely more on in-game skills . Magical qi was more qi than magic power, so it should be weak against magic skills .
Fortunately, magic was the only energy type for which Sila had acquired the special boost—Art of Magic .
Usually, the results of magic spells were fixed and inflexible . They also disregarded laws of physics . For example, Fire Arrow, a spell that had 100 attack power and could fly for 50 meters, would vanish the moment it passed the 50 meter mark . Also, regardless of the distance between the spell caster and the target, it would deal exactly 100 attack power before taking the target’s defense into account .
With Sila’s Art of Magic, however, the distance became a factor to determine the amount of damage that his spell could deal . If he were to cast Fire Arrow, the spell would materialize an arrow with 300 attack power, but the said damage would decrease in proportion to the distance between him and a target . If it hit the target standing at the edge of the spell’s effective range, its attack power would fall to about 10 .
Sila intended to depend on Formless Martial God, which had a low power consumption rate, to stay near Pumin . The martial art lacked decisive attack power though, so he had to rely upon his magic skills to win against Anubis, who was ultimately classified as a qi-type monster .
Sila circulated Element-Changing Nightmare Magical Qi throughout his body, shrouding his body with a layer of black aura . The skill had a mixture of magic power, so it got partially enhanced by his Art of Magic .
“Artifact Manifestation . ”
Stating the spell’s name was a must for magic-type skills . Unexpectedly, Artifact Manifestation had a great synergy effect with Sila’s Art of Magic . Since the artifact was technically manifested near him, he would always obtain an artifact that was three times more powerful than the spell would normally produce .
Seven magical elements exploded and solidified, transforming into a jet black axe . Its size was so large that it didn’t seem like a weapon designed to be used by humans .
Sila had intended to summon a sword, so the spell’s result startled him . He had gotten too close to Pumin though . It wasn’t a distance suitable to swing an axe . Having no choice, he had to step back before he could swing it .
It was when the axe had finished solidifying that Sila discovered yet another surprise . The axe was so heavy that he could hardly lift it up . He had to exert every ounce of his arm strength plus use Formless Soldier in order to swing it once .
The opportunity to strike was long gone . While Sila wasted time having difficulty swinging the axe, Pumin had already moved . He jumped backward to secure some distance .
The axe crashed onto the ground with immense force, shaking it . The nearby buildings even collapsed due to the aftershock . A large crater, at least 500 meters in radius, appeared on the ground . The impact was beyond imagination . Not only Pumin, but even Sila himself was also at a loss for words .
“Why didn’t a sword come out?” Sila wondered .
Again, it was Zarnak who unraveled the mystery . “The artifact produced by Artifact Manifestation will always correspond to the type and amount of magic power spent creating it . You compressed seven elements of magic power with the dark element as its core, so the spell determined that you desired a heavy weapon that focused on attack power, like an axe . ”
Artifacts created from Artifact Manifestation were considered items, so a system inspection was possible .
(S) Thousand Ruptures Axe
+ Increase physical attack points by 10,000,000 .
+ Completely ignores defense, including energy reinforcement .
- You can’t strengthen its attack power, including by using energy reinforcement .
*Its attack power is fixed . The damage that it delivers will not be higher or lower than the aforementioned value .
- The wielder will always feel that it is too heavy to wield no matter how strong they are .
A weapon with ten million attack power!! Sila doubted his eyes . The highest value he had seen so far from weapons was around 10,000—and that already included A and S grade weapons . Well, to compensate for its ridiculous amount of attack power, the Thousand Ruptures Axe came with the inability to be affected by energy reinforcement . Sila could clad it with all of his special points but nothing would come out of it .
Its greater disturbing aspect was its absurd weight . Its weight was so heavy that Sila’s arm muscles spasmed after just a single swing . Zarnak further explained that using qi to strengthen the arms would be useless since its weight would increase accordingly . The axe always adjusted its weight to make whoever was holding it feel that it was too heavy .
Pumin observed Sila and the axe . “What a terrifying weapon . Its attack power is at the level of gods living in the Monster Realm . In this New World, no monsters will survive if hit by it once or twice . Well, you can’t hope to hit anyone with that level of speed . ”
Sila dropped the axe on the ground . “This won’t do . Let me try something different . ”
“Artifact Manifestation . ” Sila compressed the same amount of magic power, this time selecting the Magical Arrow form . A short, illuminating arrow appeared on his hand . Its length was shorter than ordinary arrows by half . Its arrowhead seemed to be made of rare minerals and jewels, looking quite ornamental .
(S) Seven Luminaries Arrow
+ Increase magical attack points by 7,000 .
* Although the Seven Luminaries Arrow is tangible, it deals magical damage instead of physical one .
* When the Seven Luminaries Arrow hits a target, the target will receive seven consecutive strikes, cycling through the elements . The attacks will be of the earth, water, wind, fire, lightning, ice, and dark elements respectively .
- The Seven Luminaries Arrow will be negated when it comes into contact with any spell of the light element, even if it is of the lowest tier .
- During the day, the Seven Luminaries Arrow will lose half of its power .
Sila was delighted by the result . The Seven Luminaries Arrow quickly ranked among one of his favorite hidden weapons . Its size and shape were similar to suntetsu .
He slipped it into his sleeve, ready to fire it once the timing was right . Anubis was a qi-type monster while the time in Inverse Zhongsuyuan City was forever night, so he didn’t have to worry about the Seven Luminaries Arrow’s weaknesses .
Pumin quit waiting, refusing to give Sila more time to prepare . Logically speaking, under the effect of his Soul-Eroding Magical Qi, the longer the fight dragged on, the more advantageous the fight would become for him . However, his intuition warned him otherwise .
Heaven’s Decree — Fourth Sword Style, Sword Storm .
A stormy wind blew . Pumin’s sand sword connected to the Great Flow, changing mana into wind blades . They violently circled around Sila, who was about to try out another form of Artifact Manifestation .
Since he was already halfway done compressing his magic power, Sila decided to risk it . He didn’t stop what he was doing but instead accelerated the process .
‘Give me something good!’
“Artifact Manifestation . ”
Sila was in a hurry, so the amount of magic power he input into the spell was higher than what he had intended . As a random element was used for the core, a particular monster emerged and howled .
The magical monster had the same physical appearance as a human’s but was twice or thrice the size . Looking closely, Sila thought its looks resembled Karum, so it was likely to be a member of the giant race, though most likely a different kind within the same race .
Berserker, Level 1,000 Lord Rank, has appeared .
The system’s notification made Sila realize that its level was even higher than his .
For the record, the Berserker was a kind of giant that had already gone extinct . Sila’s Artifact Manifestation hadn’t revived the creature, just recreated its form and characteristics . The reason for its extinction was due to its frenzied nature . In any battle, they always fought in a trance-like fury, attacking anyone in its sight except its lord .
The Berserker’s racial qi was Berserk Sky-Cutting Magical Qi, which would constantly generate wind blades out of its wounds . The more severe the injury, the more powerful the generated blades .
Additionally, the Berserker possessed a passive racial skill known as Fiendish Moment, which delayed any form of damage done to it by a minute . Thus, even when it took an attack that could take its life, its death would be delayed and it would continue fighting for another minute .
The Berserker rushed at Pumin without minding the buzzing cyclone surrounding it and Sila . It recklessly broke through the sharp blades made of wind, getting numerous scars on its body as a result . No matter how Pumin attacked it, it didn’t care . It literally threw its life at Pumin for the sake of delivering one strike after another .
Pumin mercilessly waved his sword through the Berserker’s neck . However, instead of seeing its head flying away, only a large scar appeared around his neck . Its maddening qi poured out from said scar, forming into numerous wind blades . They chopped Pumin’s sand sword into pieces as easily as a warm knife cutting through butter .
Sila couldn’t help but be amazed . He had to put so much effort just to cause some cracks on Pumin’s sword, which was formed by mana . On the other hand, the Berserker could break it effortlessly .
“Artifact Manifestation . ”
Sila had recovered a bit of his magic power . He opened his palm, activating Artifact Manifestation yet another time, this time selecting the last form .
A small ring box soon appeared on his palm . Its size was similar to all of the other item boxes that Sila had seen in the game . Imprinted on the front side of the box was a pair of wings, with one looking angelic and the other looking demonic .
(S) Pandora’s Box .
Will a Goddess’ smile emerge, or will it be a punishment from demons?
The item description was short and practically useless . It didn’t explain anything . Sila hesitated over what his next course of action should be .
Noticing Sila doing something, Pumin avoided the Berserker and sent a qi blade to knock the box from Sila’s hand . The box rolled on the ground . Pumin sent another qi wave to send it flying out of sight . At the same time, using his magical qi, he trapped the Berserker within a sandpit .
The duel continued in that manner .
Concurrently, the flying box flew and smacked against a certain someone .
“Ouch!” Being an expert, one shouldn’t feel pain so easily . However, the man still let out a groan out of habit .
“I have been lost for two days . Where is the exit? And who dares to throw things at this handsome one?” The Deity Lomyok exclaimed as he inspected the object that had hit his head .
Reading the box’s description, Lomyok smiled, the temper from just moments ago gone as if it had never existed . “Aha~! I have been on a lucky streak lately . Undoubtedly, this box will bring me another fortune . ”
Lomyok slowly opened the lid of the box . It let out a silent *click* sound, then his vision turned dark .
In fact, this phenomenon didn’t only occur to him . All beings in Monster Soul were experiencing the same thing .