“Five thousand gold? I’ve never had more than even five hundred,” Isaac murmured .
Compared to the service they would get, Sila deemed that the price was reasonable . Still, it was undeniable that such a price was more than what the average individual player would have . He rechecked his remaining balance and found that Julia, his personal assistant, had used most of his gold for funding the union, leaving less than a thousand gold available . Nevertheless, he had good credit and could pay this through his credit card .
As Sila was about to take out his credit card, Midnight suddenly threw a question at Fowl .
“Is it possible to pay for it through other means?”
Everyone turned their gazes to Midnight . Isaac stammered, “D-Don’t tell me you want to pay for it with your body? . . . I didn’t expect you to be so loose . . . ”
Miki smacked Isaac’s head . “You pervert! You did it again! You need to think before saying something so inappropriate!”
Fowl seemed stingy . They guessed she wouldn’t accept anything other than gold . However, her reply surprised them .
“You’re not an amateur, I see . ” She led the way . “Since you dared to ask, I will give you one . Follow me . ”
The squad slowly followed Fowl to a corner of the room .
Along the way, Alpha poked Midnight, asking, “Hey . How do you plan to pay her?”
The reply was short . “I don’t know . ”
“You don’t know?” The team repeated .
Midnight nodded . “Yeah . It’s just that most quests in Monster Soul have more than one completion method . If you can’t do it the traditional way, there will be an alternative path to get the same reward . When stumbling upon this kind of encounter, you should try to find other options to complete the quest . ”
It was basic gaming knowledge in Monster Soul . Exactly like Midnight said, most quests really had other ways they could be completed . There were many players sticking with the traditional mindset from old games that quests were to be followed letter by letter . On the other hand, almost all Monster Soul veteran gamers knew full well that there were always alternatives if they sought them . The reward might change according to how they tackle the quest . Sometimes it got worse and sometimes it became better .
‘Wow . I never knew,’ Sila thought to himself, wondering whether there were alternative ways to complete the Decolonizing the Slime Kingdom quest .
He was clueless about how valuable gold was in Monster Soul . Only elite monsters drop gold, meaning most players only have silver on them . The majority of rich players in Monster Soul gained their wealth from doing business, not hunting monsters . Non-merchant players tended to save their money as much as they could afford .
The world of Monster Soul wasn’t too cruel for players, however . All basic needs—such as potions, normal weapons, or hotel fees—could be paid for using silver . Even average players could get by just fine if they don’t spend money extravagantly .
Fowl led them to a stone wall . She knocked on it three times with pauses in-between and distinct rhythms to each sequence . The wall lifted up, revealing a hidden passageway . The squad followed her inside . It took only a few steps before they arrived in a hall with a well in the center . Next to the well was a sculpture of a woman in a black robe, casting her eyes toward them . Despite it being merely a sculpture, it seemed as if she was alive .
Fowl bowed her head low with deep respect and told Sila and his team to do the same . The squad followed her instruction by bowing their heads a little . The gaze of the sculpture then seemed to become gentler despite no changes appearing on its face .
“This is an altar dedicated to the Goddess of the Night, Nyx, the ruler of all shadows in the three worlds,” Fowl introduced .
“She seems gorgeous,” Isaac commented, his voice dreamy .
Fowl chuckled . “You may compliment her, but don’t speak rudely . Even though this is just her sculpture, you will have a hard life if you displease Lady Nyx . ”
Sila frowned and asked, “I always thought Goddesses can’t directly make a move against humans . ”
Fowl shifted her gaze to Sila . “You’re quite knowledgeable . Only a few know about the Goddesses’ existence . Many believe that they are mere legends . True, they can’t directly bring harm to humans, or even monsters . However, there are many ways to make your life miserable . For example, Lady Nyx can make nighttime your enemy . Your night will be darker than anyone else’s . You won’t be able to see further than a meter even with the help of artificial light . She is also the mother of the Goddess of Fortune, so she can influence your luck . ”
Sila got the hang of it . His gaming life would feel like he was being constantly bullied that way .
“What do you want us to do?” asked Alpha .
Fowl beckoned the squad to approach the well . The inside of the well was deep and dark . Staring into it, they could see nothing but tiny specks of gold glittering in the distance .
“I did something wrong to Lady Nyx in the past, so I was cursed by her . To get rid of the curse and regain freedom, I have to fill the well with gold . ”
The squad looked at each other . “Fill the well with gold? Erm . . . this well seems very . . . deep . You would need more than a million . ”
“A hundred trillion gold . That’s the debt I have to pay . ”
“A hundred trillion gold!!! How many zeroes are there? One, two, three, four . . . ” Miki counted her fingers . The amount was so absurd that it went beyond her imagination .
Fowl pointed into the well . “I have been facing a serious problem for years . Goblins were there to help me in the past . They are kind . Hearing my story, they immediately agreed to help me without asking anything in return . They always came to visit me and throw their money, apparently obtained from trading with humans, into the well for me . Lately, however, they disappeared, which I think means they must have migrated to another place . I can’t go outside, so I can’t find more gold . One day, however, I noticed that the amount of gold decreased . ”
“Decreased? How is that possible? Even if you didn’t add more gold, it should have stayed there . ”
“It seems the smell of gold attracted a particular monster . It’s called the Devourer . It is fond of deep holes, and they mainly eat gold . As long as it lives at the bottom of this well, I can’t possibly collect all of the required money . Thus, my task is for you to defeat that ugly creature . If you can complete the task, all of you may use every service in this place for free . ”
Compared to not having the Devourer eating her accumulated gold, allowing five people to use her services for free was a cheap price Fowl was willing to pay .
“Is the Devourer strong? Why haven’t you taken care of it yourself?”
“No, the Devourer is not strong . Its fighting abilities are mediocre . I will even tell you how to fight it efficiently . It’s just that it worships Lady Nyx, so I can’t bring harm to it . That’s the reason why you people get to do this easy quest . ”
“Won’t the Goddess be angry at us instead? For killing this monster,” asked Alpha . He might not know anything about Goddesses, but it wasn’t that hard to comprehend . They must be like transcendent figures such as gods or great demons commonly found in other games .
“She won’t . Goddesses don’t normally interfere with worldly matters . It’s only because I’ve wronged Lady Nyx in the past that I’m afraid to offend her . You can be at ease . ”
Isaac looked into the well . “This well is very deep . We’ll die falling . ”
“You won’t if you know how to support your body in mid-air using magic power . All of you are capable of doing that much with a bit of training . ”
Sila had seen Montra levitating before . Unlike the man, however, he only knew how to push himself from the ground using qi . He had never tried levitating using only magic power .
“I will teach you how to do it if you accept the quest . If it’s just for slow descents, it shouldn’t take more than half an hour . If you want to levitate and move around, I will teach you that after you defeat the Devourer . You don’t have to kill it right now, but do know that I will make the same offer to every visitor . The first group that manages to defeat it will get the privilege of having access to all of the training ground’s services for free . You may attempt to kill it, or go back, collect money, and come again . I don’t care . ”
Fowl stepped back, allowing them a moment to discuss their options . Realizing that as their leader he had to start the conversation, Sila asked his members to express their opinions .
“What do you think, everyone?”
“I’m afraid it may be too dangerous . We’re the only group to have discovered this place . It’s possible that no one will come here even if we back off and collect money,” Isaac shared his thoughts .
Alpha agreed with Isaac, but not wholeheartedly, “What you said is highly possible, but don’t forget that five thousand gold isn’t an amount we can gather easily . Considering all of us, that’s twenty-five thousand . It will take us a year to have that much . That’s enough time for other players to discover this place . ”
A year was too long for Sila as well . He planned to spend only a few days in Colossia City before going to wage war against Siaferia City .
“In times like this, we should ask the quest giver for more information,” said Midnight .
Sila turned to Fowl . “Can you tell us more about the Devourer?”
Fowl clapped her hands twice . Her psychic power formed into the hologram of a small fluffy evil . It had a pair of big white eyes and two rows of fangs . Apparently, its height was only a third of Miki’s, who was the shortest in their group .
“I already investigated . What you’re seeing is its actual size . The King of Gold Coins, Arden . Gremlin race . Title: the Devourer . It’s a psychic-type monster . Level 1,000 Lord Rank . ”
“Lord Rank?! I can’t even handle a Marquis Rank monster,” Isaac exclaimed .
“Rest assured . I wouldn’t send you on a suicide mission . Although it’s at Lord Rank, the Devourer is essentially very weak . If you rely on a tip I have, it will be like a fight against a Knight Rank monster with high health points . ”
“Is there such a great tip?”
Fowl nodded . “This tip only works on this particular monster . The Devourer’s strength and stats are subpar . No fraudulent skills . It has a trick or two, but they’re not fatal . What makes it so special is the unique passive ability that causes it to become stronger according to the amount of gold its targets have on them . As long as you don’t carry money with you, it will take less than half an hour for you people to kill it . ”
“Hahaha! Lucky us . We’re poor, so we have an overwhelming advantage . ” Miki laughed .
“Will it be that easy?” asked Alpha .
“Yes, it will,” Fowl reaffirmed . If it wasn’t for the debt she owed to the Goddess, she would have taken care of this problem herself .
“Is its ability affected by credit cards?” Sila asked to make sure . He didn’t want something unexpected to happen .
“It doesn’t . Silver also doesn’t count . Only gold matters . You can leave your money with me . I will return it after you defeat the Devourer . ”
“If it really will take us only half an hour, we can finish the quest today! We shouldn’t miss such an opportunity . ” Miki was excited .
“What do you think, everyone?”
Sila asked again . He actually was confident that he alone could defeat the Devourer . Even though he didn’t know its capabilities, there shouldn’t be a problem if what Fowl said was true . This confidence didn’t come from arrogance but experience born from fighting against high-level monsters frequently . He could more or less gauge how capable Fowl was . If Fowl said their five-man team could defeat the Devourer, it must mean the monster was truly weak .
“Up to you, Leader . ” Alpha shrugged .
“I’m fine with whatever . Nevertheless, I would like to try if possible,” Isaac said, half hesitant and half confident .
On the other hand, Midnight simply nodded . Sila decided . “We accept the quest, Miss Fowl . We’ll take care of the Devourer tonight . Please teach us how to use magic as we agreed . ”
Fowl smiled merrily . She led Sila and his friends back to the Skills Training Ground, gesturing at them to enter teleportation circles .
“My psychic bodies will teach each of you how to support your body in mid-air using magic power . You have an hour to learn . If you finish your lesson early, I will teach you other skills . Consider it my personal thanks . ”
“In that case, see you again in an hour,” Sila said goodbye to his squad . The five of them then entered different teleportation circles .
An hour is neither short nor long . Whether it feels like not enough time to get things done or too much time depends on how you use the time you’re given . People who use time wisely will benefit from it the most .
After exactly an hour had passed, the five people left their circles . There were no obvious changes in them, but Sila was confident that they had somehow become stronger . The numbers above their heads were indicators of this .
Sila’s number had improved from 41 to 56 . Midnight’s 35 became 54 . The two’s numerical changes were the most obvious, followed by Alpha’s, which improved from 16 to 25 . Miki’s 8 rose to 20 while Isaac’s 5 managed to become 14 .
Fowl had informed them beforehand that the number would increase easier the fewer number of skills they had . The fact that Midnight’s number increased more than Sila’s might be because the man had fewer skills .
“How did Leader and Midnight’s numbers increase so much?” Isaac asked with a hint of jealousy . He had thought his increment of 9 was already a lot, but it turned out that everyone else was better than him .
“Aren’t you too lazy? Look . Everyone else has at least 20 points . ” Alpha chuckled .
Just to be sure, Sila asked, “Are you all capable of levitating?”
Instead of answering, the four squad members all floated half a meter from the ground . Isaac confidently puffed up his chest . “Miss Fowl said it normally took half an hour, but I only needed twenty minutes to learn it . ”
“What a brag . I only spent fifteen minutes learning,” said Miki .
“I used thirteen minutes,” Alpha replied with a smug smile .
“Ten minutes,” Midnight expressionlessly declared .
Everyone turned to Sila . “Leader? How long did it take for you?”
Flinching, Sila murmured, “Erm . . . Half an hour . . . ”
“Eh?! What took you so long, Leader? Levitating is quite easy,” Alpha wondered .
“Maybe it isn’t my thing,” replied Sila . He wondered whether it was because everyone else was a direct magic-type player that made it feel easy for them . For him, using magic was very difficult . Its principle was completely different from qi and psychic power .
For the record, Sila’s special points were enormous in quantity and high in quality, yet he had never tried manipulating magic power . It was natural that he couldn’t properly control it the first few attempts . It was already praiseworthy that he could learn how to levitate in half an hour .
Also, unbeknownst to him, his lesson was different from what the others went through . It wasn’t because Fowl favored him, of course . Knowing that Sila had the essence of magic, Fowl taught him a different way to levitate, using the approach that would benefit Sila in the future .
The five of them left their money with Fowl . It wasn’t like there was a lot though . Only Sila had more than a hundred gold on him, causing Isaac’s irises to enlarge .
They gathered in front of the well . Given Fowl’s signal, they jumped into it . Isaac, in particular, tightly closed his eyes, gulped his saliva, and slowly leaned forward . Annoyed, Fowl kicked the man to follow his teammates .
Having Isaac’s scream as background music, Sila noticed that his squad members properly controlled their magic power to support their bodies . Their descent was as slow as they had hoped .
Everything was going well . So well that Sila felt relief . Below them were mountains of gold . By estimation, there must be at least ten million gold there . Sila waited until everyone landed on the mountain of gold before landing himself .
Suddenly, the mountain shrunk by half . Around half of the gold in the room disappeared, making them lose their balance and fall .
“What happened? Did our fall shift the gold?” Alpha tilted his head .
Sila received a system notification . He frowned as he had noticed half the gold transforming into a light and flying into him . He opened his system window in a hurry . Reading the contents, his expression turned grave .
“This is bad!! Everyone, be extra careful!! Don’t underestimate our opponent!! It’s going to be much stronger than we anticipated!”
His system window was left open . Only Sila had seen what was written on the last notification .
You have received 5,000,000 gold . It’s the maximum amount you can carry in your system window .
Apparently, he had totally forgotten the skill he obtained from Mamon—King’s Treasury—and it was far too late to do anything about it now .