Chapter 337: Enter the Shadow Army
Reminded of Beluga’s suggestions, Sila tried to teach the puppy how to cultivate qi. He absorbed the qi in its body using Worlds Crossing Bridge and gradually returned it, reducing the power of the qi and fine-tuning it so that it would be easy to circulate. He repeated this process for hours. There were no signs of progress at first since all the puppy did was play around, but it eventually followed his instructions.
Cultivation was the most standard procedure for stabilizing qi. In the puppy’s case, it was a Squire-Rank vessel filled with Lord-Rank qi, so Sila redirected its qi to flow into his body, stabilizing it for the owner, then returned it to the puppy. He also taught it how to circulate qi to disperse the excess power. Before long, the puppy’s body adapted to its own qi and finally found it bearable.
Sila was shocked to discover that a qi-type monster was able to learn its skills this quickly even when it played around a lot.
Now it wouldn’t be injured even if Sila removed his hands from it. Still, its maximum qi points weren’t enough to properly control its powerful qi, so he also transmitted Bone Restructuring Qi to help it and left it in the dojo.
As for the puppy’s name, Sila was clueless. He requested Julia to come up with a name in his place. She accepted the task and told him that the pet’s information would be available immediately when the name was set.
Now that the puppy’s matters were all settled, Sila was relieved. His next goal would be to acquire the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword. However, he soon stumbled into a dead end.
Zarnak was clueless about its exact whereabouts.
“Didn’t you say you can sense it? Why are you saying you can’t find it now?” Sila frowned.
“Knowing that you don’t know anything about the topic, I will overlook your insult, my uneducated master. That sword is so special that you can’t possibly imagine its power. Do you know how a Demonic Armament is born?”
It took no time for Sila to shake his head. He only knew that Demonic Armaments were very high-tier battle gears used by players and monsters. He wondered why their origins mattered.
“Demonic Armaments like us were originally items or monsters. At some point of time, we developed a strong negative energy that consumed us and turned us into Demonic Armaments. For example, an item that was taken away from its master a thousand times, a weapon that drank the blood of a million beasts, or a powerful monster that met an early death yet its soul had strong attachments, refusing to go to Hell. The stronger the feelings, the higher the chance they will become Demonic Armaments, coming to life in order to fulfil their last wish.”
“What is your wish, then?”
Zarnak shook its head. “That’s the irony. Once a Demonic Armament is born, it will forget its past life, including the things it was attached to. Well, for some of them, they might forget their past, but understood their goals with their hearts, such as the Lamentable Dragon. It strongly wanted to kill you. The feelings were still fresh since it was born only recently. However, as time passes, it will find that nothing matters, including its last desire. In the end, we live in order to be used and taken away, ending up in the same cycle.”
“What will happen if the wish is fulfilled?”
“You probably think that we will cease to exist, don’t you? But no, you’re wrong. As I told you, once we became Demonic Armaments, even our wishes no longer matter. Success or failure is not important. This rebirth is both a blessing and a curse that forces us to stay like this forever.”
Sila listened and pondered. Even if some Demonic Armaments were fortunate enough to recall their past memories at a later point of time, let’s say a hundred years later, it would still be sad. Their mortal enemy might have already died, or their wish might have already been fulfilled long ago.
“I brought this topic up because it’s related to the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword’s abilities. I bet you’ve never heard of Igsia, the Goddess of Weapons and Craftsmanship.”
There was even no need for him to try to remember. Sila shook his head. He never bothered with Monster Soul’s history. It was his first time hearing the name. The only goddess he knew about was Cynthia, the Goddess of Humanity.
“If you intend to stick with the path of swords, I recommend you study her. Igsia is the mother of all weapons in Monster Soul. She is a prodigy at using all kinds of weapons and also the best blacksmith. Her name is always engraved on important anvils. Even some spells of the fire and earth element mention her name and borrow her power. If your weapon mastery skills or craftsmanship skills reach level 100 and you pay homage to her in front of her altar, they will be evolved to transcendent rank.”
“Goddesses aren’t monsters, are they? Or they are high-level ones?”
“Goddesses are existences above monsters. They don’t directly interfere with worldly matters but will share their powers with the races that worship them. For example, the wild dog and the rabbit races worship the Goddess of the Moon, so their stats grow stronger when they are under moonlight.”
“What about the slime race? Which goddess do they worship?” Sila asked out of curiosity.
“Not every race worships a goddess. The ones that do are mostly ancient races with a long history. Compared to other races, the slime race only formed around a couple of hundred years ago. Currently, there are only a few races left that still worship goddesses.”
“Your explanation is getting rather long. How do all those things you said relate to the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword?” Sila nagged. Zarnak had explained to him the stories regarding the origin of Demonic Armaments and the goddesses’ roles, but he still failed to understand why he had to hear all of it.
“Because the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword used to be several swords rather than just one, all masterpieces created by the Goddess Igsia. A long time ago, back in the era when monsters were still in direct contact with goddesses, Lady Igsia spent several hundred years teaching the arts of making and using weapons to the race worshipping her. A few hundred years later, the arts spread to other races, causing even the races that didn’t worship her to be able to use weapons.”
“So, its importance is the fact that it’s a sword personally made by the goddess, right?”
“What she made that contributed to the sword wasn’t just one sword, but seven of them,” Zarnak explained. Seeing the dumbfounded expression on Sila’s face, it continued, “During the time she taught monsters the art of blacksmithing, she created seven swords, referring to them as the Seven Blade Daughters, and gave them to the races under her care as tokens of her good will. However, the tragedy happened after that.”
“The same one that repeatedly occurred in the Monster Realm: The fight to seize territories. Having learned how to use weapons, some races became arrogant and started a massacre. The seven races used to be on good terms, but betrayal was also a normal occurrence. They turned against each other in order to get their hands on all seven swords made by Lady Igsia. The fate of the Blade Daughters in the hands of various wielders was to fight among themselves against their wills. In the end, with their extreme frustration and resentment, their negative emotions turned and combined into one Demonic Armament. The sword’s killing intent scattered around the battlefield. When the bloodbath ended, only the sword itself stood alone atop a pile of corpses that reached the sky. Even the sword’s last wielder became a dead man.”
“Ah, I see, so they were weapons made by the goddess before becoming a single Demonic Armament.”
“That was the reason why I told you that you couldn’t possibly imagine the power of the sword. It’s a sword, but holds the power of seven swords. Each of them was a masterpiece made by Lagy Igsia in order to impart her profound knowledge. With them combined into one, it is more than a sword. The term S-grade is used to define the tier of a weapon that is above grade. If you let me define a new term for S-grade weapons, however, I would say this sword is an S-grade among S-grade. Compared to it, I’m just a mediocre item.”
Sila started to understand the point that Zarnak was trying to convey. “So you mean it’s not an easy task to find it. The world of Monster Soul is a vast place. We can’t just wander and hope to find it.”
“You finally get it.” Zarnak sighed. “We have wasted a lot of time, my slow-witted master. The sword contains tremendous power, so I could immediately feel it once it appeared. However, exactly because it has tremendous power, it can control its power in an instant, secluding itself in silence. To find it, you have to be extremely lucky, or receive guidance from Lady Igsia.”
Sila blinked. “Is that kind of thing possible?”
“I, too, formerly thought that it was impossible. However, your friends said something that made me think of a certain possibility. It’s about the goblin race.”
“The goblin race? Do you mean those goblins that are currently surrounding Colossia City?”
“Exactly. The goblin race worships Lady Igsia and they also once had one of the Blade Daughters in their keepsake. I thought they already went extinct. However, based on the fact that they are here, some of them in the Monster Realm must have survived and fled to this world.”
“Goblins, huh?” Sila opened his system window, searching for information about goblins while also listening to Zarnak.
“Goblins are highly friendly creatures. Lady Igsia saw through their ugly appearances and noticed their kind hearts, so she imparted her techniques to them, which they later willingly shared with other races without expecting anything in return. Ironically, that led to their race’s downfall.”
Reading the information gathered by the Blue Pigeon Guild, Sila frowned.
“It’s strange. You said goblins are kind creatures, but this article said they are wicked and selfish monsters. The first time players encountered them, they found goblins hoarding all resources in Colossia City for themselves. They monopolized the weapons trade in order to sell crappy gear of low quality at a high price. Eventually, various groups of players joined hands for the first time and drove these creatures, who were ugly both in appearance and mind, away and liberated the city from the outrageous monopoly. As a result, Colossia City became a lively city after that. The event led to the birth of two future influential factions. The first was the Knights of Colossia, who later grew in numbers and moved to Grea City and turned into the Royal Armament Guild. The other one was the Justice Traders, which later changed its name to the Merchants Association.
“As for the goblins, they retreated in defeat to the Sky-Breaking Canyon and made their home there. Still, their behaviors are the same, sneakingly ambushing players. They only drop low-quality items, so it isn’t worth hunting them. It’s still uncertain as to what their racial skills are. Only, the player changing into this race will have their height reduced by a tenth.”
“It must have been written from a human’s perspective, that’s all. Goblins don’t need human currencies. For what reason would they exploit humans? To fill a hole with all the money they earn?” Zarnak replied lethargically, “This kind of thing always happened in the Monster Realm. History is written by the victor. The losing side is often painted as the villains. The winners can come up with any kind of story they want. If you truly want to study the world’s history, I suggest you read from various sources. The information you get will be more accurate that way.”
“In any case, if we can take care of the goblin race, there is a chance that we will get a clue about the Dichotomous Crucifix Sword’s whereabouts, right?”
“That’s right. Anyway, your definition of ‘take care of’ can be anything for all I care. I’m a weapon, so it isn’t my job to coach you. Just know that whichever path you chose, you must be prepared for the consequences.”
Although the dragon said it wasn’t its place to coach him, Sila was aware that it already tried. It seemed to him that there were creatures who could retain their merit even though they might be born in a vicious environment such as the Monster Realm.
Nevertheless, in the midst of the approaching conflicts and war, where both sides aimed to strike at each other, would he alone be able to become the bridge between the Shadow Army and the goblin race, healing the past? Still, he decided he would give it a try.
Thus, by the end of the day, Sila had contacted Bluebird and teleported to Colossia City. He requested Bluebird to hide the fact that he came to Colossia City. The less people knew he was alive, the better. Still, he had to notify the city’s key figures about it. They consisted of Bluebird, Yardpirun, and Frenzy Sword.
Frenzy Sword’s duty was to become the former two’s representatives, speaking on their behalf to reduce the risk that people might suspect the two. Bluebird was disguised as Zero while Yardpirun was disguised as the Sword Prodigy. Although her rank was lower than before, her mastery at using skills stayed at the same level. Albeit only for a short period of time, she could fake her psychic power to make it seem overbearing.
Sila informed the three of his intention to befriend goblins. They were shocked at first, though Yardpirun recovered the fastest.
“Maybe that’s for the best. Only defeat awaits us if a war really breaks out. We have to try everything we can think of to prevent the fight.”
Frenzy Sword was restless. “I never heard that befriending monsters can be done easily, more so when it comes to goblins. They are vicious.”
On the other hand, Bluebird felt relieved that this idea required him to do nothing.
“Rest assured. Sila’s title, Monster Emperor, isn’t just for show. He is already on good terms with many monsters. I’m sure we can let Sila handle it.”
Yardpirun somehow agreed. “In that case, let’s disguise Sila as a new member. The Shadow Army may not have a military hierarchy since we are more or less a gathering of mercenaries, but we have our in-house system to group people into teams in order to maximize mobility. If you become someone’s underling, your movements will be restricted. However, we also can’t assign you a high-rank position since it will look suspicious. I think I will appoint you as the leader of the 99th squad. That squad doesn’t have a leader yet.”
The Shadow Army was split into a hundred squads. The closer the number was to zero, the more capable they were. While they were called squads, they didn’t follow the typical structures. Some squads had a hundred men while some had only a couple of people. The Shadow Army used a mercenary system. The more feats a squad accomplished or contributions they made, the closer they would get to zero. The lower the squad’s number, the more chance its members would get more impactful jobs with bigger rewards.
Sila being assigned to the 99th squad, which ranked at the bottom, meant he would become the member of a group that wouldn’t get any important jobs. At most, he would be just a backup. It was the role that suited him the best, allowing him to freely wander around.
“You can have this mask, Mister Sila. Since you can’t use a disguise skill, this mask will be more useful to you than to me. Firstly, you should go and introduce yourself to your team. You can do whatever you want afterward.” Yardpirun handed Sila a white mask. There were three tiny marbles attached under the eyes but above the nose. Some parts of the mask were painted with curvy black lines.
(A) Thief Lord’s Mask
The mask dropped by the Tanuki King. Allows the wearer to change their face and appearance. The effect will stay for ten minutes even after the mask is taken off.
Increases movement speed by 10%.
You can use the Item Skill: (B) Substitution Jutsu.
(B) Substitution Jutsu
A jutsu that is derived from Mind Concealment and Psychic Body, allowing the user to turn invisible for a short time and swap position with a newly manifested Psychic Body. Your Psychic Body will have 1% of your maximum health points and special points, which are siphoned from you. The Psychic Body has low combat abilities. It can follow simple commands such as fight, flee, defend, or stay still. You can give more specific instructions with command-related psychic skills. If its health points deplete, the Psychic Body will disperse as a leaf.
Sila also got his hand on a diamond-shape black badge with the number “99” printed on it. Since he was appointed as a leader, his badge had a white edge as opposed to the traditional black. It looked quite similar to Sebastian’s brooch. Sila guessed Sebastian was the one who came up with the design.
Zarnak was hosted inside the Twin Souls Weaponized Protection, so Sila could order it to change his armor’s appearance to look dim and shabby. He took out his Beggar’s Cloak and donned it together with the white mask. He left the headquarters and went to the building where his future teammates lived.