Chapter 350: A Quick Battle on the Dining Table
Sila couldn’t tell whether Undine was really financially unaffected or the man was simply good at maintaining his poker face . The man remained unfazed despite the amount of money being spent soaring through the roof . Rather, seeing the amount of food on the tables, it was the freeloaders whose expressions changed . The rate at which the food was consumed began to significantly slow down .
There was no need for Sila to break the silence since he was the one with the most marbles . It was the role of others to offer him a good deal .
Half of the squad leaders present in this place already owned the matching marbles . They could technically send two members to enter the maze . However, no one was willing to do that since the numeric marble was worth fifty points . This implication made Sila, who had many numeric marbles, the center of attention .
Most of the people here already knew each other . Many squad leaders took turns introducing themselves to Sila . Since there were many of them, however, Sila could barely memorize their faces and names .
He didn’t see leaders of the first, second, and third squads . Still, there was one particular squad that almost made Sila choke on the water he was drinking . It was the 6th squad .
The 6th squad was a female-only team . The leader was Aqua, a short-haired young woman wearing a pair of glasses that had no prescription, making them solely for fashion . She carried a barrel on her back which seemed to contain a liquid .
The squad was small in size, having only five members . All of them were ex-mercenaries stationed around Grea City who moved to Colossia City and joined the Shadow Army due to various circumstances .
In any case, the player who thoroughly shocked Sila wasn’t Aqua, but one of the members, Varee .
The squad had a nickname, ‘Team Aqua’, which came from the fact that all of the members were close friends in real life, playing the game together and giving their accounts water-themed names . The squad consisted of Aqua, Marina, Rain, Mizuki, and Varee .
It was the first time Sila encountered Varee’s friends . In fact, he was totally clueless regarding what Varee usually did while logged into Monster Soul .
The five young women sat in a corner of the restaurant . Only Aqua noticed his gaze . She winked at him, to which Sila didn’t respond . He was trying his best to appear calm, not wanting to do anything to raise Varee’s attention .
Varee seemed to be in a sour mood . Sila happened to overhear some of their exchanges and learned that she was upset because one of her acquaintances had died in the war event . Sila didn’t know who the person was, but could tell that the person must be very important to her . This made him feel a bit jealous .
“Mister Nero, are you listening?” Undine’s sound woke Sila from his daze .
“Pardon?” Sila didn’t catch that .
“Out of the goodness of my heart, I will warn you that the 6th squad is full of tough girls . Every one of them is . . . pitiless, barring only Marina, and I’m rather curious as to how she ended up in that group . These girls haven’t only broken many men’s hearts, but they also literally broke their bones, arms, ribs, and other assorted body parts . I don’t recommend you test your luck unless you’re brave enough . ”
“I’m not interested in any of them . ” Sila waved his hand . However, he was the center of attention right now . Many were listening to his words, including the aforementioned girls .
“Hey! That is clearly an insult!” Aqua slammed the table, got up, and pointed her finger at Sila . “We’re five girls, each with a different style . Are you saying none of us can catch your eyes?!”
Most squad leaders chuckled while some were expressionless . Sila silently observed the mana around Aqua and noticed that it was very calm, which he found unusual .
Having been enlightened to the essence of magic, Sila had unlocked the ability to sense, and even see, ambient mana . Mana was a part of everything, be it living or non-living . As a matter of fact, when a player was about to activate a skill or when their emotional state was unusual, the mana around them would subtly respond . Fowl had already taught Sila how to read ambient mana to understand the target’s emotions or predict the skills they were using . Sila was bad at it, however, so he cannot determine exactly what skill is being activated, only if it is offensive, defensive, or supportive in nature .
The ambient mana around Aqua was still, without any ripples . This meant she wasn’t really angry and was simply putting on an act . The whole situation was meant to test him, probing how he would react to an unexpected conflict . It might seem like a silly setup, but if Sila were to show his incompetence, they wouldn’t wait to strike at his weaknesses .
“I’m here to play the game, not to get a girl . I apologize if that offends you,” replied Sila, his voice stoic .
Aqua blinked twice before calmly sitting down as if she hadn’t just shouted across the room . This meant Sila’s theory was right . She wasn’t really mad at him . The restaurant had turned into a battlefield, a cold war with each squad trying to see through his character .
Sila started to see the differences between guildless players from Belacia City and mercenaries from the Shadow Army . The majority of Belacia’s citizens were individually stronger than the Shadow Army’s . Each person sought strength, so they polished their skills on their own, only cooperating when the situation called for it . On the other hand, the mercenaries sought money . Their individual strength might be inferior, but they armed themselves with strategies and tactics in order to accomplish the assigned jobs .
“What did you expect, girls? He was the leader of the number one bandit band . I wonder if you looked down on him too much,” said Undine .
“I hate bandits . They do nothing but rob others . Can’t they just play the game without bothering other people?” Varee, still in a bad mood, spoke up . Most of her playtime was spent hunting other players, and the majority of them were bandits with bounties on their heads .
Sila honestly didn’t like bandits either . However, he was currently in the role of Nero, the leader of the first bandit gang . Considering history, it could be said that Nero was the first player to ever direct his weapons against other players, which set a bad example to follow . He was the one who started the worst era of Monster Soul . Thus, the current Sila wasn’t in a position to say anything .
“I thought the Shadow Army doesn’t bother with the past,” replied Sila .
“Are you trying to get by with the Shadow Army’s rules? We’re ultimately mercenaries . I can leave the army right now and kill you . ” Varee stared at Sila . Her psychic power was powerful, causing the table she was sitting at to vibrate .
‘That’s strange . Why is she in such a bad mood? Her psychic power is the scariest when it can abruptly accelerate from completely motionless to a quick strike . If she is in this emotional state, the path of her sword will be easily predicted . I can win even without using energy reinforcement . ’
It wasn’t an overstatement . Psychic power was unique in a way that the user’s emotions directly affected its performance . This unstable nature had allowed many to win against someone stronger while, on the other hand, it could make them lose against weaker opponents . Psychic power was the energy type with a lot of potential, though the user had to properly control it, staying focused and always showing their best side .
“Is that allowed?” Sila turned to ask Undine .
“Sure, that’s fine . As Miss Varee said, if she quits, she will no longer be a member of the Shadow Army and won’t be bound by our rules . However, if she chooses to do that while the war event is still ongoing, we will have to ask her to leave Colossia City . ”
“So you’re free to do whatever you want as long as you don’t break the Shadow Army’s rules, is that right?” asked Sila .
“Certainly . You can accept jobs from somewhere else, we won’t mind . We’re just groups of mercenaries who happened to assemble due to the conflict between the Heavenly Dragon and the Wicked Union, which led to a decline in our business . Honestly, if the war ends and the situation becomes better, some or most of us will likely leave the army . There is nothing binding us to the army . You just have to follow a simple set of rules . ”
“I see . ” After listening to it, Sila swept his gaze across everyone in the room . “I’m free, but I don’t want to waste my time anymore . State your terms, or leave me alone . Stop it with the tests as it’s only going to irritate me . Come at me directly if you really wanna see what I’m capable of . ”
His speech was arrogant, as expected from the Thief Monarch . Unlike the past Thief Monarch, however, Sila wasn’t all talk . He was following the instructions provided in the Story of A Hundred Swords, using a tactic that Pumin had written about—make the first move decisive, and people would think twice before they tried to offend him again . It was a method to reduce future problems .
“Aren’t you being too conceited, Thief Monarch?” Undine was genuinely doubtful . Sila’s words were like oil being poured onto a flame . Mercenaries tended to dislike thieves from the start . Although the squad leaders here hadn’t made any moves yet, their suppressed waves of anger were causing the ambient mana to take on the colour of dusk .
Sila said no more as he swept his hand, activating the Hidden Weapon Firing skill and putting a magical box on the table . It was a powerful artifact that emitted a faint aura . Sila had been clueless about how to use Artifact Manifestation before, but now the skill had become his favorite magic ability next to Orbiting Cosmos .
Among the Artifact Manifestation’s four patterns, Sila was best at the magical arrow form since it was the simplest and he had spent more time learning it . His next best would be the magic box form, then the magical weapon form . He was seriously inexperienced at utilising the magical beast form, which Fowl said was the most troublesome and difficult to learn .
Since he provided no explanations, the box’s presence exuded a sense of mystery . The surrounding players stared at the magical box with doubtful eyes, not understanding what a small box could do .
The players had various opinions . Some thought Sila was arrogant while some believed he must have something up his sleeves for him to be so daring . Still, they were generally here to negotiate with Sila, so they didn’t want to do anything to harm their chances of success yet . There was one exception, however, who was in a very sour mood and fed up with Sila’s provocation .
“Since you are the one who started it, you better not regret it . ” Varee suddenly got up . With only a couple of steps, she cut the distance, placing Sila within her attack range .
“I won’t,” Sila said, this time gently unlike before . He had predicted that it would be Varee who was the first to come at him . Meanwhile, the surrounding players didn’t choose to stop Varee since they wanted to see how Sila would fare against her .
The lid of the magical box was unlocked . It opened and generated bright light . Unlike the previous time, Sila didn’t randomly create the box but instead predefined the result he desired beforehand .
For the usage of magic boxes, aside from deforming them into their sources of magic power, if opened, the box would generate a domain that affected everyone in its radius regardless of who they were . Even the user would be affected by the domain . For example, the time when Lomyok opened the box, what came out of it was a domain of darkness, so powerful that even Quasar inside Inner Hell could regain a part of her power, allowing her to escape to another realm .
Upon creation, the user could roughly specify the properties of the domain that the magical box would generate . Specifying the element was the first step, which Sila could achieve easily since he was used to Orbiting Cosmos . Nevertheless, the advanced stage was more troublesome since specifying a special property was more complicated and required extensive knowledge . Fowl suggested that, since he had the essence of qi, he should bring himself to be hit by various types of magic AOE attacks . His body would gradually memorize the sensations and he would automatically become better at using magical boxes .
While Varee was a psychic-type, her katana was a magic-type weapon of the water element .
An outburst of electricity exploded within a small area . Utilizing the essence of psychic, Sila had controlled the size of the domain to become smaller, and that greatly strengthened his magic abilities .
Varee’s body was transfixed in mid-air . The magical box didn’t inflict any damage, but the area full of an unusual amount of the lightning element severely affected the water-element user . On the other hand, Sila was using lightning-element Orbiting Cosmos, so he could move freely despite being in the same domain .
“Artifact Manifestation . ”
The Crouching Demon Arrow appeared on his palm . Sila didn’t shoot it but respectively pointed it at Varee’s head, neck, and heart . He then stabbed it into the table .
“You have died three times . Are you done? Blatantly jumping at me like this is no different from suicide . Is this the Goddess of Purified Water’s fighting style?”
Sila canceled the domain and the arrow, then sat down on the same chair . Actually, many people had intended to interfere when he approached Varee, but Sila had summoned several magic arrows to block their paths . His movements were fast, so just a brief moment of distraction was enough for him to get the job done .
“Varee, are you okay?” One of Varee’s friends, Marina, came to support her . Seeing there were no injuries on Varee’s body, she was relieved .
“I’m fine,” replied Varee, before turning to Sila . “You . . . ”
“ . . . It’s nothing . I just feel like you’re similar to someone I know . Must be only my imagination though,” said Varee as she backed off . “The next time won’t be the same . ”
‘There will be another time, huh?’ Sila inwardly groaned .
With the brief conflict finished without any injuries, players began to file out without saying anything . Two thirds of all the players that had come had left, and Sila did nothing to make them stay . Undine was among the people who left .
“Seeing your strength, I don’t think we can cooperate . If your squad passes the next round, I hope we’ll get to see more of the Thief Monarch’s true strength . ”
“You make it sound like I will be eliminated in the next round . ”
Undine grinned . “You’re skilled, Mister Thief Monarch, I admit . If it’s you alone, I’m sure you can easily pass the round . I can’t say the same about your squad, however . ” The man turned his back and left . “Good luck . I know your squad will need a lot of it . ”
Only a few squad leaders still remained, including Lone Wolf . Strangely enough, Varee and her group were still there .
“Be careful of Undine . His fighting ability may not be high, but he wouldn’t have become the 4th squad leader if he had nothing up his sleeves,” Lone Wolf warned .
Sila muttered, “He must have expected this to happen . No, I bet he had prepared several options to pick from depending on my behavior . He evaluated me, discerning whether I can be of any use to him . If I showed him I was an easy target, he would make use of me . On the other hand, since I have shown him that I’m quite uncooperative, he used the moment to show everyone that I’m the public enemy that they have to eliminate from the tournament, fast . Just by treating everyone to a single meal, he managed to make my squad a target for a majority of the Shadow Army . He may be right . . . My squad may even lose in the very first round . ”
With only two arms and two legs, it was difficult to cope with a dozen of each, especially when Sila wasn’t the one participating in the maze . If more than half of the participants were to cooperate in suppressing Alpha and Midnight, there would be an extremely high chance that his squad would drop in the next round .Please download our sponsor's game to support us!