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Published at 3rd of October 2020 03:43:30 PM
Chapter 352

Chapter 352: Surrender


The female NPC distributed a box to each squad leader, her gaze lingering on Sila’s departing back . The participants gradually left the arena, splitting up to gather information . Now that no player was left in the Colosseum, another male host approached the woman, initiating a conversation .

“Interesting, that man . He managed to kill a special monster, a Demon Lord’s Nail, so quickly . ”

The woman opened her system window, watched the replay, and sighed . “Is that all you can see?”

Her co-worker showed a confused expression . “Did he do something else?”

“It’s quite clever . ” She flipped the screen, showing it to the man . It showed the replay of Sila’s actions, including the skills and items he had used .

“He is the player with the Blade-Sharpening Dragon . It’s a living encyclopedia about the Monster Realm, so it knows the weakness of the Demon Lord’s Nail . ”

The Demon Lord is one of the highest-ranking monsters living in the Monster Realm, who none of Zarnak’s masters had ever encountered directly . While Zarnak had some info about the Demon Lord’s underlings, the dragon had no idea that the Demon Lord possessed an Ancient Magic, “Satanification”, which was ritual-based magic . Once the user sacrificed a part of them, they would obtain a reward greater than what they gave up . The reward varied according to the sacrifice used . For example, the Demon Lord would acquire a sword by sacrificing a droplet of his blood, an arrow from a fragment of his bone, a terrifying monster if his nail was used as the sacrifice . In the past, the Demon Lord once sacrificed his left arm and his right eye, and it allowed him to fight off Joshua for three days straight . This feat implied that his magic was indeed very powerful .

Demon Lord’s Nail was a monster born from the Demon Lord removing his nail and casting a spell on it . Turned into a monster, the Demon Lord’s Nail was strong, sturdy, agile, and blood-thirsty . To defeat it, one had to strike each joint of its four legs simultaneously, and a gap on its stomach would open up for a second . The gap was its lethal vital spot . Once struck, it would die in one hit .

The replay showed Sila listening to Zarnak about how to defeat the Demon Lord’s Nail . Entering the cage, the Crouching Demon Arrow suddenly exploded into a smokescreen, giving Sila an opportunity to do things discreetly .

“I will remove the smokescreen to show you . ” She waved her hand, sweeping the smokescreen away . Sila’s actions behind the black screen became visible .

The Crouching Demon Arrow was a symbol representing creatures directly serving the Demon Lord . Its presence alone was normally enough to subdue the Demon Lord’s underlings . However, this particular Demon Lord’s Nail was a system-generated monster, not a genuine servant . It was considered an item, not a monster, so the arrow didn’t affect it at all .

The cage contained energy from leaking outside, so Sila was at ease circulating qi . It wasn’t Flaming Cloud Qi though, nor was it Yin Yang Energy or Five-Attributed Cloud Qi . Instead, it was a combination of all of his qi arts, which gradually refined and merged into one . It was the result of Flaming Cloud Qi melting and purifying his inner force in a manner similar to turning grains of sand into exquisite glass .

Sila slid beneath the Demon Lord’s Nail without hesitation . The four of its legs were furious and decisive, striking at him . However, Sila’s body was as durable as a stone mountain . Once the attacks hit him, they were stuck to his skin with his qi . Immediately after, Sila precisely fired four suntetsu at each leg, opening the weak point on its stomach .

Water Element Artifact Manifestation — Watercourse Arrow .

The timing of his attack was smooth, seemingly done at the same moment as his first attack, prompting the male NPC to slow down the replay . The deep-blue arrow was engraved with gold . It seemed priceless, which was unsuited for a consumable item such as an arrow . The Watercourse Arrow was a spell belonging to the Queen of the water elemental race . It wasn’t a weapon designed for attacking but purification, restoration, and healing . As such, it didn’t do damage . Instead, once it hit a target, the target would appear to be dead for the next five minutes .

“Does that mean . . . this thing is still alive . . . ?” The man took a better look at the monster . It seemed no one had noticed that the giant Demon Lord’s Nail had already come back to life . There were no foes in its sight, so it stood motionlessly like a statue .

“There is something more to it . ” The female NPC rewound the replay and played it again . “Take a look at the other skill he used during his attack . ”

“Omniscient Evil God Qi? For what reason did he use it?”

“Don’t you get it?” She pointed at the arrow . “He wouldn’t be able to pull this off without the essence of psychic . The system created these monsters altogether in the same batch, so they share a form of connection . He knows that Omniscient Evil God Qi is not only useful as an offensive skill as it can also heal a target, albeit even Lucifer has never healed others in this manner . He sent the Watercourse Arrow into one Demon Lord’s Nail, making it so that every bit of damage dealt to them will be shared as long as he is still maintaining the power within the arrow . Participants will have to attack each Demon Lord’s Nail with enough power that can kill all of them simultaneously . I daresay that, as long as the monsters are connected to the one with the original stats behind us, there are less than five players in the game that can pull this off . This monster even has the Watercourse Arrow in its body, constantly healing it, so the chances of it being killed are even slimmer . ”

Considering all the actions Sila had done, the female NPC was aware that Sila must have either learned under the guidance of the “Assassin Lord” or exchanged knowledge with the “Supreme Sage” . In the whole New World, only these two beings could utilize skills in such a way that ordinary players couldn’t fathom .

Sila was sitting in the restaurant, together with everyone from his squad, at the same table next to a window . He had calmed down a lot, yet still didn’t dare to be careless . This small battle of wits was like a board game with many players taking turns to make moves . The state of the board might seem like it was within his control right now, but who knows what trick his opponent might pull next?

“It feels like we’ve won,” said Isaac .

“The victory is not set in stone yet . There is still one more round . Well, at this rate, I’d say there is a pretty good chance that we will get promoted to a proper rank,” Alpha commented positively .

“Come to think of it, what if someone comes to pay up, get the info, and pass it around? Won’t it be bad for us?” Miki raised a question .

Sila had already thought about it . “They can’t . Regardless of when they pay the marbles or how much they pay us, we’ll reveal the info when there is only thirty minutes left . ”

“Will they accept such a deal?”

“I’ve shown them that the monster can be easily beaten if they know its weakness . Ten seconds are enough to defeat it . There shouldn’t be a problem . ”

Midnight, who had been silent the entire time, spoke up, “I’m not too sure about that . . . There is also the possibility that our squad may go bankrupt in this round . We can’t tell . ”

The statement piqued the team’s interest . “What do you mean?”

Midnight sighed . “Well, telling you this now won’t change a thing . Leader, you’re smart, but aren’t you too optimistic? Things don’t always go according to plan . There are many factors that can make a plan go wrong, especially when people are involved . ”

Sila and the rest were listening . Midnight rarely talked, but every time he did, his words would be beneficial to the team .

“It’s not strange that you made such a simple mistake . Leader, you’re not familiar with the workings of the Shadow Army, and more so with us mercenaries . Sometimes we fight, sometimes we laugh, but we don’t hate each other . Deep down, we always respect each other and stand for each other’s pride . ”

“What does that mean?”

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“It means we’re the kind of people who are willing to be snapped into half rather than be bent to the opponent’s will . Try thinking from their perspectives . If Undine did the same thing you did and threatened you to pay for the monster’s weakness, will you pay?”

Sila’s reply came out of his mouth almost instinctual . He didn’t like it when someone messed with him . “I won’t . . . ”

“If no one comes within an hour, they will never come . From then on out, it will become the fight between the 99th squad and the entire Shadow Army,” Midnight concluded .

Sila’s plan seemed great . However, the one taking the highest risk was none other than him, who was clueless about the Shadow Army’s mercenary system .

Relationships between mercenaries were built upon trust and cooperation . What Undine did was severe, but not cruel . It was simply a battle of wits between squads . Such a situation had happened so many times . People were aware of Undine’s personality, so this kind of thing was normal and within their tolerance level .

On the other hand, Nero was a newcomer . People couldn’t help but think that he wasn’t a part of the army yet . Nero had no accomplishments, yet he had already threatened all of the other squads by his second day as a member . His method would have received tons of respect if he was in a bandit gang . However, within a group of mercenaries, his action was nothing but an insult to the entire army .

The future that Midnight was talking about was that every squad would quit giving the 99th squad their attention, even at the cost of points reduction . It was fine even if they couldn’t pass to the next round . The Re-Ranking Tournament was essentially an ice-breaking activity for the Shadow Army . The black sheep was none other than Sila, who was too serious about it, giving birth to a conflict .

In fact, this was the very reason why Cross didn’t want Sila to join his army .

Sometimes, a person will have to make concessions in order for their organization’s work to go smoothly .

The hard part is that most people don’t want to become such a person . They hope for anyone but them to step up and make a sacrifice .

‘Damn . My main objective is to help the Shadow Army . What have I done?’

Keeping the tension and inner conflicts in check was a difficult feat to accomplish within an organization, but Sila had learned from the Story of A Hundred Swords that Pumin’s actions didn’t lead to direct conflicts despite having defeated a hundred different groups of practitioners, each with different values . This meant it was possible . Sila came to realize that he was far inferior to Pumin in this area .

His father had once told him, “It’s okay to make a mistake, but if you’ve done something wrong, you have to fix it . ”

Sila fell silent for a couple of minutes . “I overdid it, I guess . ”

“Maybe a little,” Alpha consoled .

“To be fair, if I were threatened that way, I wouldn’t submit either . Instead, I will kick their ass and burn their— Ahem! I mean . . . In the case that someone else did that to our squad! I didn’t mean to do those things to you, Leader . ”

Sila let out a gentle sigh . “It’s okay, Miki . You’re right . I was too fixated on winning . It’s fortunate that there are good people by my side talking some sense into me . Thanks . ”

Blushing, Miki struck her palm against Sila’s back . The crashing sound that came out made Isaac shudder . “So cool! Leader~ I’m embarrassed . ”

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“What a violent kind of ‘embarrassment’ . You might as well chop his head off with a sword, Miss Miki . Leader, how can you endure that?”

Miki was indeed heavy-handed, but Sila was used to having Lookhin perch on him . It was Isaac who was frightened by the sound of the slap .

“Ah? It’s just a light tap . You’re a man . Don’t be a crybaby . This is the reason you suck at getting a girlfriend . ”

“A light tap . . . ? More like an elephant’s stomp . . . ” Isaac mumbled .

“Say again?!!” Miki glared .

“No . Nothing . I was wrong . ”

“Good boy . ” Miki was content, turning back to Sila . “What is our next plan?”

“Our?” Sila wondered . Things went wrong because of him . He didn’t know why Miki talked like she was willing to take part .

Alpha nodded . “A member’s mistake is the squad’s shared responsibility . That’s Mercenary 101 . Don’t shoulder all of the burden, Leader . When Miki went on a rampage, we all paid for the damage . Or when Isaac peeked on a girl and was beaten to near death, we all went to apologize to the victim . These two make countless mistakes . You’ll get used to it soon . ”

Isaac made a wry face . “You make it sound like I’m a perverted person . I didn’t peek! I just wanted to know what her sleeping habits are and whether she was sexy even in her sleep . ”

“That’s the very definition of being perverted! Your psycho!” Miki scolded the man . “You’re a big part of the reason why our squad rarely gets jobs! People more or less ban us, knowing we have Isaac in our squad . ”

“That’s not true! It’s more because Miss Miki went on rampages many times!”

“Don’t forget about Midnight . ” Miki pointed at Midnight . “He sat alone in a restaurant, completely ignoring people greeting him . Some people despise him for it . ”

“ . . . ” Midnight became speechless for a moment . “ . . . Alpha tricked people so many times, causing them to not trust us anymore . ”

Past wrongdoings were gradually dug up in an attempt to shift the blame on someone else . Sila was dizzy from the bombardment of blames, but he liked the atmosphere that caused everyone to open up and honestly share what they were thinking—a casual, friendly atmosphere that he rarely got to experience .

“Hahahaha!” Sila couldn’t hold his laughter in anymore . He didn’t even know when he last laughed so hard .

“What’s so funny, Leader?”

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“It’s nothing . I’m just in a good mood . Let’s go . There is somewhere we need to go . ”

Members of the 99th squad returned to the Colosseum and requested to meet the NPC host . Sila conveyed his intention to her .

Listening to Sila’s words, the NPC was surprised . “Surrender? Are you sure?”

“I am . I actually didn’t plan to get a good result from the start . I was too caught up in the moment . Can I surrender now?”

“You can . Actually, you could’ve done it any time after the preliminary round . Are you really sure about the decision? You actually have a very high chance of victory . ”

Sila turned to see his members, then turned back and nodded . “I’m sure . I didn’t come here to win . ”

“In that case, please take it, sir . It’s a D-Grade Short Dagger . A consolation prize . ”

Sila received the dagger, confused . “This dagger is . . . Why? I thought it was supposed to be given to the squad that ranks last in the tournament . ”

The NPC was clueless about why Sila was confused . “You’re right, sir . We will give it to the squad that ranks last . It’s also a consolation prize for any squads that drop out . We happen to have many of them . ”

She opened her system window to show Sila that she had many daggers prepared .

“There are many of them?” Sila was shocked . Bluebird didn’t tell him about that and the circular notice didn’t explicitly mention it . The picture showed only a dagger, so he thought there was only one . As it turned out, since it was a consolation prize, people didn’t particularly care if the notice left out some of the details .

“There is a huge asterisk next to the last statement: The rewards may change as the host sees fit,” the NPC noted .

Sila let out a burst of laughter again . He made a lot of mistakes today, but his small decision eventually helped him get what he desired . It also helped him maintain his relationship with his teammates and hopefully with other squads in the future .

The NPC soon informed the other squads that the 99th squad had given up on the tournament . The round continued in that manner while Sila invested his time in talking to other members of the Shadow Army . This went on until 7:30 p . m . when an alarm suddenly rang out throughout the city .

The tournament was forced to end prematurely .

There was no need to explain the reason . Just looking beyond the city walls, they would see an army of goblins, stretched out wide along the west side of the city .

By nightfall of the second day after Sila arrived at Colossia City, his war had begun .

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