Due to long battles without any breaks in between, the Snow Region in the north had been restless for two days already . Buildings had collapsed and there were fires everywhere, creating black smoke that blocked the night sky . Citizens and monsters were running non-stop . Above them were groups of countless birds flying in circles, each serving as an omen of death .
Sebastian raised his head, looking at the sky . Next to him were White and Vogue . The three of them were like the strategists of Belacia City, so they stayed in the safest place in the city, observing the birds’ movements .
The citizens in Belacia City, White included, were already familiar with northern monsters . She could now speak to Lord-Rank monsters as equals without feeling pressured .
“This is already the second day . It seems our enemies are bombarding us in shifts . If we don’t change how we defend, we will lose . ”
Vogue generated a holographic map with his psychic power . It showed the positions of members from both sides . He pointed his finger at a group of triangular symbols, representing the enemies, who were fighting against the circular symbols, that represented their side .
“The enemies came from the air, so the underground tunnel and most of the traps prepared by the dwarves became ineffective . Even worse, only half of our combatants, humans included, can fight well against flying enemies . ”
The enemies bombarding them from the sky proved to be extremely troublesome . While it was true that each and every one of Belacia’s citizens and monsters possessed a way to fight flying enemies, such fighting styles weren’t their forte . Due to the situation, some monsters had to stay on standby even though they came from races that were very active in wars . This included the Giant King Karum and the Dwarf King Bul, who were currently in the headquarters, waiting for further instructions .
Keeping in mind the overall situation, Sebastian had been preserving their forces, not dispatching them in their entirety . He ordered the army to alternate their shifts in order to conserve strength .
“Normally in wars, the attacking side has to be quick while the defending side has to let it drag out . This is our terrain . If we can stall for a couple of days, the other side will surely change their tactics,” commented Sebastian .
“It’s difficult for us though . Although these birds are only Knight Rank, their numbers are a problem . How can they endlessly keep on coming?”
Vogue shared his intel, “Furthermore, their kings haven’t shown up yet . From the information provided by Gigan, the bird race must have six kings . Two are qi type, one is magic type, and the remaining three are psychics . The absurd number of birds must be the result of the Psychic Bird Clone skill from the Sky King . However, even Gigan doesn’t know how the summoned birds have such high ranks . ”
The Sky King’s Psychic Bird Clone could split a monster under his rule into two, the target’s resources and overall power also being split in half . As a matter of fact, he could repeatedly use the skill on the same target . It was a method to create an unlimited number of soldiers . Still, the more the target was split up, the weaker they became, so the skill was oftentimes used for diversion purposes rather than direct assaults .
“Those birds are even a bit stronger than ordinary Knight Rank monsters . ”
White didn’t understand . Knight Rank monsters were normally no match for them . However, these birds were as strong as early-stage Marquis Rank monsters . It was fortunate that they had low health points, so AOE skills were extremely effective against them . If it wasn’t for this, Belacia City would have been broken on the first day of the siege .
“Must be the work of the Emerald-Winged King, one of the other psychic-types . The bird race’s strong suit is their ability to work together, generating great synergy . It’s highly likely that their kings are hiding themselves and pouring their power through the Emerald-Winged King, strengthening the summoned birds . ”
Having seen Bluebird using a similar skill, Sebastian wasn’t that surprised . It would be extremely helpful if Sila was here to use Omniscient Evil God Qi . However, he was asked to handle things from here, so he didn’t want to bother his master .
Sebastian had been recently travelling around between Belacia City and Skull Mountain Pass, but at this rate, it seemed he ought to stay in the city for a longer visit this time .
“The opposing side is keeping their trump cards back . They want to probe us to see whether we have any tricks in our bags . I expect they will elevate the level of the attack in less than two days . If we can’t keep up, they will fully assault us until we’ve been defeated . This is the reason why I haven’t used Death Magic yet . With more casualties, regardless of which side they come from, my spells will become increasingly powerful . ”
“What if their level of assault goes beyond what we can handle?”
“Well, sometimes we have to rely on luck . I’m betting on it . ”
“Betting on what?”
“On whether the enemies will crush us first, or if my lantern will light up before they do . ”
Sebastian chuckled lightly . Reminded of Lord Yama, Vogue felt chills run down his spine . On the other hand, White didn’t know what the lantern did, so she was confused .
Glancing at the lantern’s continuous blinking faint aura, Sebastian laughed at his past idiocy for idly waiting for its next use for almost a month . Its name, the Manifesting Soul Lantern, already hinted that its fuel was none other than souls of monsters dying near it .
If these birds hadn’t come, it probably would’ve taken him much longer to discover this secret . Thus, when the flame in the lantern returned, Sebastian intended to‘return the favor’ in full .
The Slime Kingdom was under a powerful magic domain . The darkness was strong, blocking the slimes’ vision and preventing them from seeing things further than two meters ahead . On their bodies were chain-shaped tattoos that suppressed 30% of their total stats .
Most slimes were protected under a domain made of Viola’s Divine Raiment . However, no matter how capable she was or how high her stats were, she couldn’t maintain a domain this large for so long .
“You can’t borrow ambient mana, I take it? How long can this domain last?” The Slime King approached Viola, who was sitting in the kingdom’s central square .
She shook her head . “No, I can only use my own magic power . To sustain a domain this large, another 16-17 hours are the longest I can last . ”
“Well, our opponent is Kritsana . Her Unison Percentage is at 98%, which is the highest in Monster Soul . ”
Some enemies managed to invade the Divine Raiment . The skeletons were parts of the Sovereign of Grave Keepers . The more they fought, the stronger they became . Every time they died, they would adapt themselves to make fighting against them become increasingly harder .
“Death Magic at this level isn’t something we can withstand . We have to quickly find Kritsana's whereabouts and defeat her,” Divine proposed the most obvious solution to counter a powerful spell—defeating the caster .
“Pinpointing her location is not difficult . She is underwater, on the northern side of the Island of Beginnings, around one kilometer from the shore,” the Slime King announced .
Divine frowned . “She knows that seawater is our racial weakness and how to exploit it . It’s possible that she already expected us to come . ”
The Slime King and the Guardians were full-fledged monsters, so—unlike Sila—they didn’t get the privileges available for players . Goddess Cynthia had bestowed upon humankind divine protections, negating some debuffs . Seawater wouldn’t work against Sila, but it worked against other slimes .
Although Montra had asked her to get rid of the protections, things were changing slowly . Cynthia didn’t lift all of her blessings at once but gradually canceled them in order to keep aftereffect at the minimum level . It hadn’t been long since Montra made the request, so players were still unaware of the effects .
Kritsana’s only weakness was the fact that he was too famous, meaning everyone in the closed beta knew who he was and what he could do . Still, knowing was one thing and being able to fight him was another . During the closed beta, Kritsana’s strength was comparable to Hu Xian’s, maybe being just slightly inferior .
“She hasn’t made use of her S-grade set items suitable for close combat, the Rings of Sovereigns, yet . Even Hu Xian suffered from them back then . ”
The Rings of Sovereigns are set items similar to the dual swords set—Dorolia and Solaria Swords—in a sense that they are useless at first, but exert tyrannical might both individually and together once the set has been completely obtained . Set items are naturally stronger in accordance to the number of items within the sets in the user’s possession . The Rings of Sovereigns were a set of eight items and Kritsana managed to obtain them all, so their abilities were unfathomable .
“Our solution is to keep defending until Luaid successfully destroys Kritsana’s magic domain . When the time comes, Divine will teleport us to Kritsana . The four of us will pour our attacks at her without holding back . Defeat her as soon as possible to minimize our losses . ”
Only the Slime King and Divine were fortunate enough to have personally witnessed Kritsana’s fight in the Monster Realm . On the other hand, Poluk wondered .
“Against a man who knows nothing about profound arts . . . won’t that be going a little overboard?”
Divine shook his head . “Kritsana is an enemy we can’t afford to fight solo . In my opinion, even when it’s four against one, to defeat Kritsana, one or two of us will die . ”
The Slime King agreed . “By the way, she is a woman, not a man . Well, she deliberately pilots an old man avatar, so I guess she wants to keep her real identity a secret . ”
Even the Slime King himself managed to bring Bow into the game as a monster, so he guessed Kritsana must have some kind of agreement with Joshua as well . In any case, he accidentally discovered her gender thanks to the power of his Marvelous Bible . Nevertheless, he found nothing about her even after he tried to investigate her background . She never showed her real self in public and always selected a male avatar as her character in every game she played . It was a wonder how could she manage to keep her secret for this long .
Each and every player had their own reasons for entering the world of Monster Soul . It would be great if they could join forces . However, if their interests collided, it was natural that a battle would break out .
That was a law of the world that the four were fully aware of . All they could do for now was preserve their strength, waiting for the storm to pass by in order to turn the tables in the decisive moment .
A certain small hut, located within a very special dimension, was a place normally unapproachable by most people . Joshua, too, was a distinguished person, so meeting him was a difficult feat . The hut was his peaceful space, exclusively for him and his wife .
However, on this particular day, an anomaly was happening .
The air around the hut was heavily shaking like a television in the environment with a poor signal . The grass, wind, and artificial sunlight turned greyish . A black screen unfolded itself before Joshua’s eyes, completely interrupting his and his wife’s afternoon teatime .
“You’re as carefree as ever, huh, Frankenstein . ” An electronic voice greeted him .
Even with the artificial voice with no face, Joshua didn’t even have to guess who the speaker was . There was only one man capable of causing a disturbance in Monster Soul’s system . The former World’s Most Wanted cyber-criminal—Boss’ left-hand man .
“Ziz,” Joshua greeted the opposing side with a serious expression, “Is there an emergency?”
Their ‘organization’ rarely contacted each other, much less confronting one another . Even Joshua had only encountered two executives so far . Most of the time, Boss would send news through his two most trusted lieutenants, though every time they did make a call, it was almost guaranteed that something big was going to happen .
Ziz said with a casual attitude, “You know what? The most troublesome thing about having a double agent is that we can never be sure whether the person is really on our side or not . ”
“Does Boss think I’ve switched sides?”
“Nah, I merely expressed my concern,” Ziz said, pausing briefly, before continuing, “You are still on our side, right?”
“Of course I am,” Joshua replied as he restated his allegiance to the organization . He tightly held Cynthia’s hand . “Only the organization can make my dream come true . ”
“That’s a relief . The intel I got recently is unreliable, then . It’s great that I can pleasantly inform Boss that there is nothing to worry about . ”
Joshua’s expression remained unchanged, but he panicked inside . The fact that Boss got wind of his possible betrayal implied that his past actions had somehow leaked to Boss’ ears . Joshua had always been so vigilant around the organization, so this meant there was a spy among someone close to Sila or Montra .
“You actually didn’t have to hack into the system . If you prefer, I can appoint you as an NPC . You can observe the Wulin Masters Association’s movements together with me this way . ” Joshua probed for Ziz’s reaction .
“It’s okay . I’m not interested in playing games . We already have three executives in the game anyway . ”
‘Three? . . . Including me, there should be only Faceless, right? Or is he trying to see if I react as well?’ Joshua thought .
“Oh, by the way, Boss has already scheduled D-Day . I will forward the details to you later . ”
“Is everyone going to assemble?” Joshua wondered . The gathering of all executives was unprecedented .
“Nah, everyone should continue doing their usual jobs . I’m just here to notify you . Only Boss and Typhon will participate in the attack,” Ziz replied, then left .
Joshua felt chills in his chest . He had thought Boss would send two executives and a group of members . However, it turned out that Boss would personally take action against the Wulin Masters Association .
In fact, even if Boss dispatched his right-hand man—Typhon—alone, Joshua believed that it would already spell despair for the association . No one in the association could stand a chance against Typhon . Even against the Three Elders fighting together, Typhon would still come out victorious .
The basis behind Joshua’s belief was the fact that the Three Elders were the Demon God Zenga’s disciples . Even now, each of their strengths still fell far behind compared to Zenga at his strongest .
Typhon was the one who had forced a draw against Zenga back in the day . This was even done a long time ago in the past, back when the organization’s martial development technology was nothing compared to how it is now .
With the plethora of bad news, Joshua’s worries grew by leaps and bounds . He quickly opened his system window and input several commands . Now he sincerely hoped the Wulin Lord selection would come to an end soon . Their chances of survival would only diminish further the longer the selection took to finish .