Published at 20th of November 2020 10:39:29 AM
Chapter 356: Zero Returns
The sky blackened, choked on smoke and ash as if someone had splashed ink all over it . On the other hand, the lights of flames were shining from the city, swayed by a strong wind . The weapons clashing all over let off countless sparks . It seemed the situation was worse than Sila had anticipated . The goblins had already breached the players’ defenses and entered the city .
“I will search for the goblin kings . Zero, please control the situation . ”
Sila decided to assign their responsibilities this way since only he possessed the skill to persuade a monster to listen to him . While Zero was faster and could probably reach the destination before him, the goblin kings might refuse to listen to Zero and tear the paper apart without reading it .
Zero gave Sila a dry smile . “Roger that, Leader . ”
The two had donned their previous outfits, wearing masks . Sila used qi to fire himself forward before switching to rely on magic power, enveloping his body and dragging him across the city . His gaze locked onto the forest to the east of the city . Based on what Remdier had told him, a goblin camp must be hidden somewhere in the forest .
Every ability related to weapons was banned when he was fighting in the Grim Sanctum of weapons, including Artifact Manifestation and the Twin Souls Sword Collection’s sword-summoning ability . Now that he was outside, however, Sila could finally display the power of the card he had collected when he annihilated all of the monsters in the Summer Forest .
A transparent card showed up in his hand and broke apart, transforming into a silver sword with a griffin figure decorated on its hilt . Sila swung it twice . Every time he swung it, a couple of silver feathers would descend from the sword .
The first time he studied the sword, Sila had found that the sword’s ability was so weird that he was totally clueless about how to use it . However, with Weapon Enlightenment, various applications emerged in his mind as soon as he touched it . Learning to use a new weapon normally required time and experience, but the Weapon Enlightenment skill helped the user instantly recognize every way to make use of the weapon .
(B) Silver-Winged Sword [Artificial Weapon]
A weapon forged by combining a decent sword with at least 1,000 feathers from Silver Griffins .
Attack Power: 1,100
When swung, the sword will knock a target back . The distance is determined by its weight and the force behind the swing .
The user will have to clad the sword with their energy reinforcement in order to activate this special ability . Nothing will happen otherwise .
[Silver Griffin Card]
+ Decrease the duration of any poison debuffs by 10% .
Sila clad the Silver-Winged Sword with magic power and activated its peculiar ability, striking the air and forcing it to spin forward .
The air became an invisible tornado—blowing dust, sand, and tree leaves into the goblin camp . A commotion broke out .
Sila seized the chaos to pull himself down to the ground, circulated qi, and dashed into the forest, avoiding fighting against goblins who were shielding their eyes from the strong wind .
Seeing Sila successfully enter the forest, Zero stopped himself on the city’s wall and observed the overall situation . Sila asked him to control the situation, which was a task far more difficult than directly helping the Shadow Army .
Different goblins held different weapons, each of them grade quality with powerful abilities . Their uniqueness made fighting them difficult . Moreover, all of the goblins were connected psychically . They could support each other without exchanging words . The most troublesome part was that every time players thought they had figured out any particular goblin’s combat patterns, the goblin would exchange weapons with its teammate, resulting in a different fighting style .
In conclusion, the Shadow Army was being overwhelmed greatly .
“Fowl taught me to rely on qi-type traits to benefit a magic spell . Well, let’s try it out . ”
Zero’s Javelin Cross had broken in the Grim Sanctum of Weapons . It was the javelin with options to increase a spell’s attack power and reduce the cast time . To be honest, Zero had used it as his main weapon for a while, but he never felt used to it . Still, for him who wasn’t a pure magic-type, casting a spell without supporting equipment was like asking a traditional spellcaster to fight with their fists instead of magic .
For magic-types, battle gear was rarely helpful in direct combat . Rather than provide protection, the equipment most magic-types wore focused more on supporting their spellcasting, through ways such as reducing the cast time, increasing the efficacy of the spell, or reducing the resources required to cast the spell . Some pieces of equipment also grant powerful item skills that can serve as trump cards .
In any case, Fowl had taught Zero a certain skill: “Blood Mana . ” By sacrificing their life force—either in the form of blood from their actual wounds or simply deducing it from their health bar—equal to the amount of magic power required to use a spell, the spellcaster can greatly speed up the casting . The skill was by no means rare . There were actually many quests in the Magic Kingdom that offered this skill as a reward . However, its usefulness is limited . Casting mid-tier spells is not that time-consuming while high-tier spells require an insane amount of magic power . Having a lot of health points was not something that people associated with magic-types . Having to sacrifice health points along with magic points will easily cause any spellcaster to die from being drained .
Zero slit up his palm and circulated qi, forcing his blood to gush out . He took off at his maximum speed, running in a circle around the entire city while leaving a trail of his blood behind . Since he only had to focus on running, ten seconds was all he needed to return to where he started running .
Zero gasped for breath . Normally he only ran at his top speed for short bursts, so he had never pushed himself like he had just now . Nevertheless, it took only three laps of qi circulation for him to feel better . Even the wound on his palm had already closed up .
He opened his hands and started casting a high-tier spell for the first time in his life . Prior to this moment, the most powerful spell he had ever cast was only of the middle tier .
The blood he left behind suddenly turned black as he began the incantation .
“The painful path is one belonging to the true sovereign . My blood exits for the Demon Lord to take . Under the blanket of darkness, even a long road is as short as a finger’s length . Under the blanket of darkness, even the vast sky is as narrow as a finger’s width . Under the blanket of darkness, even the deep sea is as shallow as a finger’s joint . Under the blanket of darkness, even a giant mountain is as small as a finger . Within the cage surrounded by the true sovereign’s five fingers, everything will belong to His Majesty . The Demon Lord’s Palm . ”
In Zero’s mind appeared the image of Colossia City underneath the shadow of a giant black palm . As a matter of fact, The Demon Lord’s Palm was a spell Montra was also capable of casting, but the largest area he could cover would be around the size of a soccer field . Zero must be the only player capable of casting it over an entire city, and within a short period of time too .
The Demon Lord’s Palm is a domain skill of the dark element . Casting it is easy, but the troublesome part about it is that the caster has to surround the targeted area before their first drop of blood dries .
While the spell is active, everything that happens within the targeted area will flow into the caster’s mind, as if the area is the palm of their hand . The caster can also teleport to anywhere within the marked domain . Still, teleportation is a form of hyper-speed movement which normally brings headaches after each use . Unless the caster is used to high-speed movements, they won’t be able to display the spell’s full potential .
Zero circulated qi to regain his lost health points while closing his eyes, observing all of the events happening in the city . He took a deep breath, ready to flash around the city in the next second .
He then opened his eyes . His body swayed as if he became a shadow .
The sound of metal striking metal rang out forty-eight times in various spots all over the city, happening almost simultaneously . Apparently, Zero had taken less than a second to interrupt several battles occurring in the city . He struck goblins and players who were fighting to the death and transmitted cold qi into their veins, forcing them to withdraw momentarily .
Thanks to his intervention, the intensity of many battles in the city had decreased noticeably .
Returning to where he originally stood, Zero’s mind became dizzy and his body trembled, almost blacking out from the sudden loss of qi . He circulated Immortal Qi to ease his mind before circulating Shadowless Soul Qi to refill his qi reserves . Then, he repeated the same actions .
This time, however, Zero had gotten used to this particular spell . Exactly as Fowl mentioned, by having the essence of qi, the user’s body will gradually temper itself to gain resistance against a previously experienced attack . While it might not be to the point where the user can completely nullify the enemy’s attack, the severity of repeated strikes will become weaker on them . The change might be unnoticeable at first, but will make all the difference if the attacks continue .
That is essentially why qi-types are often found torturing themselves . They have the patience required to cultivate and temper their bodies, trying to go beyond their limits, taking one step forward in order to elevate their strength to another level .
After the third round of flashing around the city, his resistance against the dizziness became noticeable . After more than a hundred flashes, his body finally adapted to the action .
Zero and Sila’s top speeds were about the same, but there were a few notable differences . Zero could maintain his top speed for a longer period of time and could shift gears more masterfully than Sila . It was natural since Zero focused on speed while Sila’s fighting style leaned toward versatility . It could be said that Zero was more immune to his speed and power than Sila . He rarely suffered from the backlash of his own power .
Players all over the city could only catch a glimpse of a black silhouette flashing in the dark . They couldn’t even discern which side ‘the shadow’ belonged to since it attacked both players and goblins .
Its attacks were weak, but they precisely struck places that would call for immediate medical attention . If they left the wounds unchecked, the damage would become problematic . When it came to delicate qi utilization, Zero was superior to Sila . He wasn’t like Sila who had an enormous qi reserve, so he had learned how to spend his power efficiently .
After the fifth round, Zero stopped to take a break and recover his qi . While resting, he ignored the view of the entire city and instead focused on a specific person .
“Risa . ”
The image of Risa was clear in his mind . Her hair color was different from her real self, but her overall appearance was the same . She was a confident woman possessing leadership qualities . She could always make her own decisions without relying on others . She was unlike what the public thought of her—a reserved, fragile lady .
She—who was blessed with beauty, social standing, and wealth—turned down an arranged engagement with a perfect and famous gentleman as her partner in order to have a relationship with an ordinary person like him . The news back then was very intense, to the point where some reporters even stalked him and investigated his background, wondering what Lady Risa saw in a guy like him instead of the perfect man . The public even thought their couple wouldn’t last long, which pushed him to ask Risa to break up .
Risa wasn’t angered by this request . Her reply back then was, “We will break up if we find we aren’t suited to each other, not because someone else tells us we aren’t . ”
With his mind finally at ease, he got to fully enjoy his time with her without minding the public’s opinions . That period was the happiest time of his life . . . until his death separated them .
Zero never thought he would have a chance to see her again . One day, however, he heard the news about her entering Monster Soul . He speculated Bluebird must have told her something, piquing her interest and leading her to try the game .
Within the domain of the Demon Lord’s Palm, Risa was close enough to be within arm’s reach . Still, he was hesitating to meet her . It wasn’t until an attack came her way that Zero tightened his mask before teleporting to stop the attack of the goblin jumping at her .
This time, however, instead of simply teleporting away as soon as he had done his part, Zero’s body refused to move . He felt as if his legs were petrified .
His brain clearly knew it was best for them not to see each other . However, his heart refused . Through the eye holes on his grey mask, Zero stared at her, engraving her face deep into his memory . . . for the last time, he thought .
“You’re . . . from the 99th squad, right? The friend of that pervert . Did you come to help? Thanks . ” Risa looked at him, her mind still confused . She remembered being ambushed, but the goblin suddenly disappeared .
“ . . . ”
“What’s wrong? Do you want some potions? I still have some left . We can share . They’re self-brewed by me . ”
Risa handed Zero a bottle of potion . Its quality was moderate . However, since it was brewed by her, the name [Risa] appeared next to the potion’s name .
Seeing Zero’s unusual silence, Risa felt a bit awkward . Still, she was more worried about her big brother .
“I have to go help that way . Let’s talk later . ”
Risa turned around, leaving . Zero had a difficult time forming sentences out of his mouth .
“ . . . Farewell, Sa . Please take care of yourself . ”
She had already taken two steps forward before his words—especially the familiarity they contained and how she was addressed—struck her like a lightning bolt . Her mind became blank, totally ignoring the ongoing war . She swiftly turned around .
“Rin!” She blurted, tears welling in her eyes . However, the spot where Zero had been was now empty .
From the roof of a building, Zero was looking at her . He wanted to beat himself up for acting so foolishly . Given her personality, doing this would only make her become more determined to find him .
When it comes to women, men can sometimes become unbelievable fools . Zero knew that . However, he didn’t know whether that was his excuse, or . . . he actually wanted this to happen, deep down in his heart .
Sometimes, the most correct answer isn’t necessarily the best one . Human relationships are complex and beyond human understanding . Though sometimes it is so easy that people overlook the most obvious answer .
Fireworks could be seen from the forest in the east, prompting goblins to withdraw their troops . It seemed Sila had successfully negotiated with the goblin kings .
Zero canceled the Demon Lord’s Palm spell . He looked at Risa from a far distance with qi-enhanced eyesight . His gaze eventually shifted to a circular health potion in his hand .
“It’s finally time for me to go . ”
Zero’s shadow disappeared from the building . Closing along with the curtain of the night was the ending of his love story . Whether the curtain would open once more was something Zero could only hope for .