Artifact Manifestation was the ultimate skill of each Horseman of the Apocalypse . The four of them had a duty to prevent monsters from escaping the Inner Hell, so the spell they possessed was bound to be extremely powerful . Arguably, the same spell in Sila’s possession was classified as an item skill, meaning its ability was weakened, or nerfed in game terms . If used right, however, the power it displayed would still be tremendous .
Regretfully, Sila did it all wrong . It was natural though . Magic was the type that relied on knowledge and experimentation . The result of each spell was fixed and reliable regardless of place and time . It was the opposite of qi which was flexible and versatile, depending on the user’s aptitude and understanding . Meanwhile, psychic power was unpredictable, greatly influenced by the user’s state of mind .
While Zarnak was knowledgeable and wise, its scope of knowledge was limited to what its masters had experienced . Among its former masters, some had witnessed Artifact Manifestation, yet no beings fully comprehended the ability as much as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse did .
Artifact Manifestation’s actual usefulness didn’t lie in the ability of the artifact it summoned but how quickly the user could convert their magic power into an artifact . It could be done in an instant . In that sense, the user could compress a spell that normally took an entire day to cast into an artifact then deform it, unleashing said spell right away . The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse relied on this exact ability to reign over hordes of monsters trying to escape .
However, not only did Sila not define which spell he wanted to manifest, but he also randomly expended his magic power . In fact, if Artifact Manifestation was a qi-type skill, he would have already suffered from qi deviation . Or else, if it was a psychic type, his power might have become unstable and exploded right in front of his face . It could be said that the current results were fortunate enough .
Since he started the game with qi and had high aptitude for psychic power, Sila didn’t understand the amazing qualities of magic . He didn’t even care about why most monsters, including all gods except Lucifer, belonged to the magic type category .
Magic type was arcane, fair, and loyal . It never bit its master like qi and wasn’t unpredictable like psychic power . By spending magic power, the user would always get something in return . Also, there was no way a caster would be harmed by their own spells unless there were external interruptions . Even if a spell caster cast an AOE fire spell to burn the entire area, including where they were standing, they would still be fine .
Sila had paid his magic power, mixing seven elements together, to trade for an artifact, yet he had no clue what kind of results he could expect from it .
Since Sila spent his magic power randomly, naturally, the system generated a random artifact for him in return .
Pandora’s Box wasn’t designed to be opened . If it was in the hands of one of any Horseman of the Apocalypse, they would have thrown it at their enemy and deformed the artifact, changing it back into a compressed mass of magic power . The power of seven elements would then explode . In a sense, the ability of the box held no meaning .
Even in the Monster Realm, only a few monsters would know the name Pandora . She was a being who had lived in a primal era . Most of those who knew her name would have already forgotten her or died .
Thus, no one knew what was inside the original Pandora’s Box—the inheritance she left behind . Its ability remained a mystery .
The reason why all players’ vision snuffed out wasn’t because they had died, but because all natural light was gone, completely . It was as if someone had spilt black ink on the canvas called the sky . Be it the sun, the moon, or the stars, none could be seen in the sky .
The world was under a veil of darkness that was darker than any nighttime .
Players all over Monster Soul panicked, thinking that they were under a blind curse . Some who were in the middle of fights got injuries or died . It took a short while before they discovered that they could light fires . If someone were to look at the Main Continent from up in the sky, they would see that small dots of manmade flames were gradually lit up on the land below .
The game’s management team had to urgently hold a meeting, consulting for a long time over what to do about the unexpected situation . It hadn’t happened yet, but in half an hour, there would be a system announcement about a certain event . Since there was no precedent of the system holding another event during the time of war event, the meeting became quite hectic .
Sila was aware that he wasn’t blind . Qi-type players possessed sharp senses, so he knew for a fact that there were no abnormalities within his body .
Amidst complete darkness, his eyes caught a glimpse of mana coiling around a sand sword, so he retreated barely in time using Formless Martial God .
Sila’s chances of victory were dimmer than the current natural lighting . There was no light of hope . His body, experience, and intuition all admitted that much . Still, his brain’s amazing clarity reminded him that hope always existed as long as he was alive .
There was a certain verse in the Flaming Cloud Qi’s Flame Part, saying, “If a path can’t be found in the dark, light a fire . ”
The mentioned fire referred to the Flaming Cloud Qi itself . Normally, the practitioner would master the Cloud Part before the Flame Part for them to obtain wisdom . However, if the time came when they encountered a foe who they couldn’t defeat with only wisdom, they must overwhelm it with power .
Naturally, Flaming Cloud Qi was classified as an art of the fire element according to the principle of Five Elements . The qi would stimulate the user . If Sila didn’t circulate it, he would be like an ordinary person . However, once he circulated it, the Cloud Part would enhance his cognizance while the Flame Part would stimulate his inner force from within .
Fire is one of the classical elements of nature . Flaming Cloud Qi had the power to control fire, so it was undoubtedly almighty and powerful .
Angelic Flame and Demonic Flame began to merge . Sila intended to use white flames while Dark Self wanted to use black ones . Their struggle for survival led to a perfect synchronization, subconsciously leading them into the deeper world of Flaming Cloud Qi .
Flaming Cloud Qi — Nirvana Part .
A swaying aura enveloped Sila . Saying the aura was like a group of flames would be an understatement . It was like Sila had become light itself . His aura spread and got rid of the darkness in an instant . Inverse Zhongsuyuan City became even brighter than what it would be if the sun shone down upon it .
Pumin felt both joy and surprise . It seemed he had greatly pressured Sila to the point that his son achieved a breakthrough sooner than expected . Sila’s current level of power was comparable to the Demon God Zenga’s—whom even Pumin in the past couldn’t get a single win against .
The brainwave technology and profound arts were supporting each other . No one could predict what would happen to the Wulin Masters Association in the future . The era where profound arts reached their apex might be arriving soon .
Even mana in nature was burnt, vanishing without leaving a trace . There was nothing the Nirvana Flame couldn’t burn . No one could borrow power from nature anymore .
Sila looked at his palm . A golden aura of light coiled around it and would move according to his desire . Even the air was burnt to nothing, leaving nothing for breathing . Despite there being no oxygen, the golden qi flame didn’t disappear since its fuel was Sila’s lifeforce . The only time that the Flaming Cloud Qi’s user couldn’t exert the Nirvana Flame was when their lifeforce had run out .
If this phenomenon were to happen in the real world, Sila’s inner force would constantly go down until he reached his death . In Monster Soul, however, the cost of using the Nirvana Flame was none other than his health points . No, they weren’t just his health points but the maximum value of them .
“My master, you’re not ready for this power . Stop using it . If your health points reach zero, you will permanently cease to exist in Monster Soul,” Zarnak warned .
If the health bar reaches 0/0, the character naturally can’t survive . The user will have no choice but to delete their avatar and start anew .
Sila quickly extinguished the Nirvana Flame . Despite that, 200,000 of his maximum health points had already been consumed . The reason why Zarnak had never brought up the constant use of Nirvana Flame to Sila was because it knew that Sila was still unable to properly control the flame . The power that should have been used sparingly was instead rapidly consumed .
There was no air left for breathing . Luckily, Sila, Pumin, and Irene had mastered Profound Qi Circulation Art . They could rely on the inner-breathing technique to prevent themselves from suffocation . However, regardless of how great they were as profound practitioners, no one could continue to survive in a place with no air . Given their masteries, they could hold their breaths for at most an hour .
Both sides were more concerned about Revin and Burapha’s match . One of them was a magic type while another was a psychic type . Unlike qi type, they wouldn’t have a way to survive for long in this kind of environment .
Nevertheless, their own fight had yet to come to a conclusion . To give their aid to Revin or Burapha, Pumin and Sila had to finish their battle as soon as possible .
“Irene, go and help the city ruler,” Pumin requested, to which Irene nodded . She turned her head to look at Sila once before she left .
Sila could only watch as she disappeared .
Heaven’s Decree Sword Art could no longer be used since the mana in the air was gone, leaving none to be borrowed . Still, the title Sword Prodigy wasn’t so simple . Pumin wielded the sand sword using both hands as he took a common-looking battle stance . A powerful qi reinforcement was clad around the sword while a gentle breeze coiled around him .
One against three . If someone fights barehanded, those are the odds of winning against someone with a weapon . In order to increase his odds, Sila unwillingly took the Thousand Ruptures Axe into his hands . He regretted that he didn’t have Lookhin’s Oceanic Mind or Cross’ Psychic Armament . If he did, he wouldn’t have to lift the axe up using his arm strength .
‘I hope that art will work . . . Well, I doubt it . I have never tried it before . ’ Sila reluctantly pinned his hopes on a certain art that he had learned in passing .
It was an art living in the deep corners of his memory . Sila went over its utilization in his head, switching his Flaming Cloud Qi circulation method from the Flame Part to the Cloud Part . What he needed right now wasn’t raw strength but keen insight .
The sand sword came at Sila as violently as a hurricane . The strike was simple . There was no waste of energy . Pumin was aware that Sila wasn’t proficient at using an axe . There was a big difference between how to use a sword and an axe . A different kind of weapon wasn’t something a fighter could use skillfully the first time they picked it up . Thus, he pressured Sila from the first strike, forcing his son to block it head-on and lose momentum . He decided to finish the duel by the second strike .
Sila took a short breath to relax his mind . His Five-Attributed Cloud Qi changed his elemental affinity to water . His eyes didn’t look at the sword but Pumin’s center of gravity .
He raised his hands slowly, swinging the Thousand Ruptures Axe upward . Since his movements were slow, he could pinpoint a target accurately despite the axe’s troubling weight .
Once the sword and the axe collided, Sila exerted all his strength . No, he didn’t try to forcefully break apart Pumin’s attack by lifting the axe up . Quite the opposite, in fact . What he did was push the axe down .
What to do when the axe was too heavy to wield by oneself? What to do if one’s own strength was insufficient to take down a foe? Simply borrow the opponent’s strength, then .
Sila was using the final part of knowledge recorded in the Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws scripture, which explained the martial moves’ various applications once the user had built up enough inner force .
Previously, he had believed that he had nearly mastered the art . However, after witnessing Sanon’s Ocean-Surrounding Dragon Technique, he came to a realization that Sanon’s skills at counterattacking were a hundred times scarier than Kawin’s . For Sila, whose proficiency of the art was below even Kawin’s, thinking that he had nearly mastered the art was quite shameful .
The axe descended in a curve . Sila used his body as a center of the circle, swinging the axe centrifugally . The axe spun around him in a fraction of a second, thrashing Pumin in the most straightforward manner . Before Pumin could be aware of it, the axe was already an inch away from his head .
Apparently, Sila borrowed the force behind Pumin’s strike to accelerate the speed of his swing . The attack neatly connected, dealing exactly 10,000,000 points of damage to Pumin .
Witnessing the result, Sila came to be aware of the terrifying aspect of the art that focused on counterattacking . He now knew the reason why the Ocean-Surrounding Dragon Technique was hailed as one of the Five Crown Jewels despite it being used only once .
When Pumin was attacking, his defense naturally weakened . While people are running forward, they can’t move back without coming to a stop . The art focusing on counterattacking carried high risks when being used . However, if the counterattack was successful even once, it could immediately turn the tide of the battle .
Pumin’s body was cleaved in half, scattering as grains of sand .
Sila wiped the sweat on his chin . “Pim’s hammer art is surprisingly useful . I will have to thank her later . ”
In fact, Pim had insisted that her art wasn’t a hammer art but a mace . Sila had exchanged combat-related knowledge with Pim for one night during his stay on the Island of Beginnings . How to use a hammer wasn’t complex, so he could learn it relatively easily . Unexpectedly, he finally got a chance to use it today .
The uses of a mace were simple, yet powerful; the simplest attack could naturally exert the most powerful might . How to use it well heavily relied on how to make use of its weight, unlike swords or sabers which focused on how the user applied force into their wrist .
Having a chance to personally experience Ocean-Surrounding Dragon Technique through his body, Sila realized how amazing the counterattack art could be . Well, unlike before, the current Sila had become more humble . He didn’t dare to call his strike just now the Ocean-Surrounding Dragon Technique . Actually, without the ridiculous attack power of the Thousand Ruptures Axe, he was certain that his previous counter would be simply hard to dodge but lacking raw power . Calling it a Fountain-Surrounding Small Snake Technique would already be pushing it .
“Umm . . . I think I have mimicked Mister Sanon’s move properly though . Why didn’t my move show the same might as his? What am I lacking, I wonder?”
“I see . . . So it’s Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws . I was too careless, thinking that it’s not your forte . ”
Pumin’s voice rang out as the pile of sand recombined, forming into an uninjured Anubis . The unfolding scene made Sila become restless . He was shocked to see that his last attack was ineffective .
Noticing the change in Sila’s expressions, Pumin knew what his son was thinking . “Don’t be discouraged, Sila . Don’t you know that all Gods of Death are undead? We won’t die unless our health points reach zero . The previous attack was amazing, dealing exactly ten million damages . It’s just that I have twenty-five million health points total . Hit me with it two more times and I will die . Actually, your attack would cause more damage if you reinforced it with qi . Well, I guess you would have already done it if you could . This means that the axe has some restrictions . ”
The Thousand Ruptures Axe’s downside was that while the ten million damage might sound life-threatening, it wasn’t enough to kill boss-level monsters at Lord Rank or higher, especially when they were qi type .
“Regretfully, our duel can no longer continue,” Pumin declared as he looked behind Sila .
Sila turned back and found Irene returning . With a soft voice, she announced something to her son .
“By the time I arrived, the match between your friend and the city ruler had already come to a conclusion . ”