The Sky-Breaking Canyon was a row of tall mountains, acting like a wall of nature separating Zhongsuyuan City from Lafesta City . The southwest side of the canyon, which connected to Zhongsuyuan City, was a high cliff . The location was always surrounded by clouds . Hidden somewhere inside the group of clouds was an ancient city, which had been reduced to ruins . The Cloudy City was the name people used to refer to it .
Once a year, some clouds would form into a tangible staircase, allowing people to climb the cliff without having to pave their way through aggressive flying monsters . At the same time, the Millennium Bird would appear, meaning people could hunt it to obtain Qi of Little Bird . On the other hand, the slope on the northeast side of the canyon was easier to travel . In order to reach the Magic Kingdom, players oftentimes took a detour from Zhongsuyuan City to Colossia City, then went north .
Doing so, however, players would have to pick one of the two options—the left or right side of Skull Mountain Pass . There were obstacles and dangers lurking in both choices, but the difficulty depended on a player’s aptitude .
Choosing left, players travel along a wide, long slope, facing various kinds of bird-type monsters, whose energy types varied by species . These monsters are quite fast and they can fly freely, so the players have to keep that in mind . This route is suitable for players traveling as a team, or ones confident in their speed . If they reach three-fourths of the way to the canyon, they will be able to spot a cloudy road leading to Lafesta City .
Going right, on the other hand, means the distance is half that of the left side’s . However, the route is narrow and complicated, sometimes forcing players to vertically climb a ladder . The entire route was prepared by wild goblins, who settled in numerous small caves on the side of the mountain . These caves have narrow entrances, but the structure inside is deep and complex like a maze .
Goblins are psychic-type monsters, specializing in using various tools and weapons, including bows, spears, swords, metal balls, or even bombs . They are small, so their mobility is great, which proves to be troublesome for players since their favorite tactics are guerrilla warfare and ambush . Players choosing this route must be quite confident in their solid defense since space is limited, forcing them to receive attacks head-on . They also have to be mindful of steep slopes, where goblins don’t hesitate to push them over, resulting in the players dying from the fall . In fact, goblins are not afraid of dying, so sometimes they even drag players down with them, commiting double suicides .
Members of the bird race and the goblin race live together on the Sky-Breaking Canyon, and they have a neutral relationship . The birds live on the mountain peak, flying freely in the sky, while the goblins live inside their caves hidden in the canyon . They are neighbors who agreed not to meddle in each other’s business . They live their own lives and rarely interact .
This day was very special, however . The representatives of both races gathered in the same place, on a certain small cliff, in order to decide the fate of their races and most of the players in Monster Soul .
There were a total of six Bird Kings, each of them at Lord Rank . They each had strangely colorful feathers, with one having violet, one having indigo, one having blue, another having green, one of them having yellow, and the last having orange . Red was missing, or else the set would be complete .
On the other hand, there were only two Kings of Goblins . Their appearances were exactly the same . There weren’t twins though . It’s just that all members of the goblin race share similar appearances . The two had rather small figures, each wearing crooked metal armor . One of them had a mace behind his back while the other had a hatchet and a shield hanging from his belt .
Out of everyone present, the most outstanding one was a white-haired young man in a magician’s cloak . A mage staff, or maybe a spear, rested on his shoulder . The tip of the beautiful weapon was a spearhead-like red jewel, constantly emitting a faint magical glow . The handle was golden . Just its presence alone exuded a great sense of pressure .
The man was none other than Montra, surrounded by eight Lord Rank monsters, but with his rank being higher, they were wary of him, especially since his status was technically that of an Emperor Rank dragon .
The night was young but shrouded in complete darkness . In the evening of this day, the news about the Shadow Army greatly troubled Montra . The more he was troubled, however, the more likely his enemies would think that he wouldn’t dare to make his move . That was exactly why he must be on the move, intending to turn a crisis into an opportunity .
This very day happened to be the day Sila raided Zhongsuyuan City . Montra coincidentally picked the same day to counterattack, meaning both of them were neglecting defense while delivering a heavy blow to each other .
“Just to be sure, we don’t have to become your pets or form a Monster Follower pact with you for this deal, right?” asked the Goblin King who carried a mace .
“I want neither pets nor followers . Today we are just exchanging what we can offer . Tomorrow we may join forces or become foes, but the deal we make today won’t be invalid . I won’t talk about repossession . ”
The Great Lightning Eagle in a blue coat scoffed . “The Sky Emerald originally belonged to us, the bird race, as a sacred object . You robbed it from us, so it’s only proper for you to return it . Why must we follow your conditions?”
“I didn’t borrow it, I obtained it with my own ability . On top of that, the bird race was unable to fully utilize the ability of the Sky Emerald . However, now that it has been in the possession of someone from the human race, if I return it to you, the bird race will be able to unleash its full power . The six of you can awaken your dormant power to reach Emperor Rank . Since you get this much from me, you ought to offer something equally valuable . ”
“Let me get this straight . You simply want us to do that one task you spoke of in order for you to return the Sky Emerald to us . After the deal is done, however, we will be like strangers, correct?”
Montra nodded . “You got that right . ”
The six kings looked at each other and started discussing in private . Montra was willing to wait . He knew that they would eventually accept the deal . His offer was something irresistible for them .
“We accept . ” The reply came after the discussion . Montra nodded and read aloud his side of the bargain for the second time .
“You have to destroy Belacia City in the north within seven days in return for this . ” Montra tossed the last Gem of Catastrophe on him to one of the bird kings . “I know the bird race keeps their word, so I will let you have it from the get-go . Even if you fail to destroy Belacia City within seven days, you don’t have to return it to me . ”
The Bird King cherished the gem, gently holding it . Since Montra placed his trust in them that much, they would naturally have to keep their word .
“Within seven days, we assure you Belacia City will be nothing but rubble . Residing near that place is Gigan, the Firebird King, who betrayed our kinsmen by killing his former king and running away after that, so this matter is half personal . We will start immediately . ”
The six Kings of Birds soared into the sky and screeched loudly to gather their subordinates . Millions of birds soon left their nests . Their march would have blocked the entirety of sunlight if it wasn’t the middle of the night . Their flight speed was terrifyingly fast . Before the dawn of the next day, Belacia City would already be under assault .
One of the Goblin Kings spoke up, “What we are about to give you is the secret that our race has been guarding for a long time, having never once told an outsider . You are the first, and we really hope you won’t pass it on . ”
“Certainly . I will only use the intel for myself . Even if I can’t make use of it, I assure you I won’t tell anyone else,” Montra promised . “To show you my sincerity, I will let you have the city right now . ”
Montra offered Colossia City to the goblin race . As a matter of fact, the city used to belong to goblins . Even the buildings, including the Colosseum, were built by them . They had ugly appearances, but kind hearts . When foreign outsiders such as players came to visit their town, goblins had welcomed them in a friendly manner, imparted their knowledge, made weapons, and given the players their support . However, as the number of players increased, they soon viewed the non-aggressive goblins as weaklings . Coupled with their ugly appearances, players claimed several bullshit excuses to drive the goblins away from their homeland . The goblins were innocent creatures . At first, they thought there was some kind of a misunderstanding ongoing, so they backed off to temporarily settle on the Sky-Breaking Canyon . It took them a while before they finally realized that humans had intended to seize their city from them all along . Colossia City was an important strategic location on the Main Continent where one could travel to and from the three main cities relatively easily, making it suitable for trading and marching . This discovery made goblins harbor resentment against humans from that point onward .
Montra, who was the current ruler of Colossia City, naturally had the right to hand it to someone else . He willfully returned it to the goblin race . From now on, goblins would gain a special ability while inside the city, as it would count as their territory .
“I already bestowed upon you the city . However, there are still some people who refuse to leave . They are also the ones responsible for stealing the city from you ten years ago . ” Despite this being a lie, Montra’s expression didn’t change whatsoever .
The Goblin King, who had a hatchet hanging from his belt, snorted with rage . “No problem . Now that the city is ours, we have our way to claim it back . The ten-year-long grudge will have to be settled by our own hands . Those who robbed us of our hometown will have to pay . ”
Montra no longer cared . He knew goblins would handle it goblin-style . “What about your side of the deal?”
The Goblin King handed Montra a scripture . “This one is a copy . Written in it is the intel you’re looking for . When you finish reading, please destroy it . ”
Montra opened the scripture and took his time reading it . “I see . . . Hmm? I was only missing a few things, it seems . It’s a lot easier now that I know the method . I would have had to rely on pure luck if I didn’t . ”
The Goblin King could guess what Montra was talking about . “You’re correct . Based on what I see, your spear is only one step away from being reborn into an Angelic Weapon—the kind of creation that has been lost from the world of Monster Soul . ”
The intel that the goblin kings traded for Montra’s city was the origin of Demonic Armaments . Written in the scripture was a history of Demonic Armaments, explaining what exactly they are and how they came to exist . It also explained the birth of Angelic Armaments .
Angelic and Demonic Armaments were like light and shadow . Both were mutually powerful, not superior to one another . Still, the law and nature of the world were more helpful to the birth of Demonic Armaments than their counterparts . It was stated that both types of ultimate armaments were equal in strength, with the difference being Demonic Armaments always come with side effects while Angelic Armaments had no such things, though Angelic Armament’s creation procedure was more difficult .
“Angels and Demons cannot coexist . If you get your hands on an Angelic Armament, all Demonic Armaments will reject you . Likewise, if you conquer a Demonic Armament, you will no longer be able to possess an Angelic Armament . You have been warned,” the other Goblin King gave Montra a warning before he left, along with his comrade .
Montra reread the scripture until he was sure that he didn’t miss anything before shredding it . He then opened his system window to search for particular information—the sacred place to hold a ritual . He kept searching for a long time before he eventually stumbled on a certain place .
“Found it . So it’s this place . If I didn’t read the scripture, I would have surely overlooked it . ”
His system window still left open, Montra skimmed through various channels to assess the situations all over the world of Monster Soul . He was waiting for the approaching calamities which he had instigated .
War is a stage upon which generals duel through strategies, not brute force . The key to gaining the advantage in the war is to oppress an opponent while letting oneself rest . With a single gem, he acquired a large army willing to raid Belacia City on his behalf . Since the Sky Emerald was in their hands, the bird race would undergo drastic changes . Given their numbers, seven days was simply too much time .
The deal was secretly coated with lethal poison, however . The bird race had always been the Sky Emerald’s protector, but they had never comprehended its true power . They were technically keepers, not the intended users . The power granted by the Sky Emerald was the forceful awakening that would later backfire for the target . Even the gems of the same category couldn’t bear the damage it caused, so never mind monsters .
Montra’s objective was to use monsters to hunt other monsters . Not only did it cost him practically nothing, but it also reduced the number of monsters in both the Sky-Breaking Canyon and the Northern Region . In the future, players would have an easier time conquering these two territories .
The bird race had the potential to wipe out the monster community in Belacia City, though they would die soon after that .
The victory would ultimately belong to humanity .
Regarding the other deal with the goblin race, he traded Colossia City for knowledge relating to the highest tier of weapons—Demonic and Angelic Armaments . The deal seemed like a huge loss at first glance, but it was exactly the opposite . He just abandoned a city that had lost its value and was on the verge of being seized by the Shadow Army for something useful .
Driving goblins away from their home was something done by players during the first year after the game had launched . Montra didn’t directly participate in it, though he did nothing to prevent it from happening . At that time the highest rank that players could attain was Knight Rank . The goblins didn’t fight back even though they could because they were tricked, believing that humans were kind creatures and the conflict was simply a misunderstanding . It marked the first great victory as players had seized a city from monsters, which led to the birth of Cross’ fame . The event took place when he wasn’t regarded as the Sword Emperor yet . He was the raid leader at that time . The success contributed a lot to his efforts in gathering people for the Royal Armament Guild, which was founded after they took Colossia City .
Goblins hold a deep grudge against humans, and the ones residing in Colossia City were none other than Montra’s enemies . The goblins would take care of them for him, without even knowing that they were doing him a favor . Since they were monsters, they wouldn’t fear Zero—the Shadow Emperor—like most players, or be wary of Pumin—the Sword Prodigy—like the association’s members . It would simply be the goblins wanting their home back .
All Montra had to do was control the flow and make the situation happen when it was the best time for him .
If the Shadow Army wins, they would at least suffer a lot, and the Heavenly Dragon Guild would benefit from it . On the other hand, if the goblins win, Montra would present himself as an envoy, asking for their forgiveness toward humanity and gaining a good public image . He would be the middleman who remedied the conflict between two races .
Knowledge is the most powerful weapon . Montra could make use of the two monster races because he had studied Monster Soul’s history and learned about the monsters’ civilizations and their cultures .
This also applied to what he had learned about the King of Spells . He was a sole Independent NPC who fully sided with Montra and had been teaching him spells for a while now . Now that Sila had gathered various forces against him, Montra eventually returned to his in-game mentor and asked the man to do him a favor .
Montra was the Magic Kingdom’s city ruler . If he ordered, even the King of Spells would have to obey him . Montra didn’t do that though . All he did was ask politely . He knew that this particular Independent NPC only joined the game out of enjoyment . The King of Spells was the sole Independent NPC without any profound arts, but was still able to roam free in the Monster Realm .
The King of Spells knew neither profound arts nor even traditional martial arts . He only utilized in-game skills . Most players didn’t know him, but he was very well-known among the group of Independent NPCs .
They would never forget the only ordinary man, who was a no-name in the underground world but managed to survive in the world full of vicious monsters .
If they had to make an analogy, the King of Spells was like a docile small sheep living in a den full of beasts . The fact that the sheep could stay alive without any beast trying to trouble it greatly highlighted the horror hidden under its simplicity .
While Montra was in the Sky-Breaking Canyon, the King of Spells was already alone near the Island of Beginnings . He was about to wage a war between himself—a single person—and the entire slime race on the island .
Naturally, ‘the entire slime race on the island’ included the Slime King and the three Guardians .
Thus, it wasn’t strange to hear that the war was pretty much one-sided .
However, the ‘one-sided’ in this context was surprisingly the opposite of what people would think .
It was the slime race that was beaten one-sidedly .