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Chapter 216: Monster Follower
Sila focused on recovering his strength, not stopping until he had restored about seventy percent . Compared to him, Rex’s progress was faster . When the fight ended, all the dragons in the forest helped him recover his strength . Then, when Rex had regained his full strength, it was time for him to cultivate and send power back to all of his minions . As for Mamon, his body shrunk and returned to normal . He just stood there without doing anything since he didn’t spend any psychic power in the previous fight .
Sila looked at Rex who had fully regained his strength, yet looked rather weak after the previous event . He had never expected Rex, the giant dragon with overbearing strength, to lose in a one-on-one match against a player who had a lower rank .
“Mamon, are you sure that Zazae won’t come back?” asked Sila .
“Honestly speaking, I’m not . Most people won’t come back . However, his eyes told me that he still hasn’t given up . He is the same kind as the white-haired man, your enemy . For this kind of person, I can kill them but I can’t make them surrender . They are the kind that I don’t want to fight the most . ”
Although Mamon was the being who most monsters didn’t want to fight against the most, he also had some opponents he didn’t want to encounter, and both Montra and Zazae belonged to that group—the type of people who he couldn’t force to submit no matter how many bad Hidden Gifts he crammed into them, the type that always rose up every time he slammed them into the ground .
“I wonder why Rex couldn’t win against Zazae . ” Sila expressed his doubt, and it was Mamon who gave the answer instead of Rex .
“Hmph! That’s because all humans are fraudulent and cheaters . It’s the reason why I hate humanity . ”
“Fraudulent? How? I personally think that Mamon’s ability is more fraudulent . ”
“I’m not surprised . You look at me with a human’s perspective, so you think so . However, the fact remains that the human race is the most fraudulent race compared to others . Legend has it that humanity is under divine protection from a certain G.o.ddess . As a result, humans obtain several privileges which other races don’t have . Take individuality as an example . Every monster in any single race possesses similar characteristics, strong points, weak points, and skills . On the other hand, the human race is the sole race in which every individual is unique . With this, we have to come up with a different method to win for each human . This is just one of the many privileges exclusive to the human race . ”
“Can you provide me with more examples?”
“Basically, territories conquered by humans shall be under divine protection . Monsters below Lord Rank can’t enter those territories except for some rare cases . On the other hand, monsters’ territories can be easily invaded .
“Once in their lifetime, humans can change their race to any race they desire . After the race change, they don’t have to restart at Level 1 Squire Rank . Furthermore, even when they have selected to become a part of the monster race, they are still considered a member of the human race . This is beyond fraudulent .
“You get the gist yet? There are more . Every monster can start developing and honing their abilities only when they reach Lord Rank and obtain supporting skills . Meanwhile, you humans can learn such skills even when you are at Squire Rank . Just this fact alone grants humanity a tremendous advantage . Monsters at Squire to Marquis Rank can’t stand a chance if they come across a skilled human . ”
Sila listened silently . He wanted to tell Mamon that the reason for all that was because the world they lived in was a game . The ‘Humans’ Mamon was talking about were, in fact, ‘Customers’ . Therefore, all of the above privileges were bestowed upon humanity as monsters were only created for the sake of entertainment .
Indeed, the world of Monster Soul tipped toward humans . It could even be said that it was a world specifically designed for humans .
Mamon continued . “Thus, even though Rex is Lord Rank, he will have a hard time fighting against a really skilled human who is Level 1000 Marquis Rank . Based on my observation, Rex still doesn’t have any supporting skills . Also, with him being in the forest all the time, he won’t have many chances to hone his ability . ”
“Is there a solution?”
“Normally, monsters can learn instinctually, though it takes some time . It will take him one or two years for him to master the important supporting skills, maybe? Nah, thinking about it, this place rarely has visitors, so you should add two more years to that prediction . ”
“Will it be actually take that long? Lookhin is much faster than that . ”
“That’s yet another thing that the human race gains as an unfair advantage over other monster races . The monsters who discard their pride and submit to humans are blessed with the ability to learn faster . You can say that some portion of humanity’s divine protection is shared with them . If this dragon becomes your pet, he will learn faster as well . ”Advertis.e.m.e.nt
Rex quickly made his stance clear . “Sila . . . even though we are comrades and I know you are a good man, I must say that I won’t become a human’s pet, not to mention I can’t abandon the Single-Horned Dragons to live in the forest without me . ”
Sila nodded . “I understand . I’m just trying to find a solution to help you . ”
Mamon sneered as he found the moment of friends.h.i.+p disgusting .
“That thing can help . That item girl . Erm, I mean, Julia,” said Mamon .
“That girl seems to know a lot about humanity’s privileges . There was a time when I asked her what humans could do, and she babbled non-stop to the point where I wanted to build a shut-down b.u.t.ton to switch her off . I remembered that she mentioned something about the relations.h.i.+p between humans and monsters during her explanation . ”
“That’s right . Julia is a system AI . It is a good idea to talk to her regarding system-related matters . ”
Sila was aware that he could contact Julia almost anytime . He opened his system window and activated the function to call the household AI . Then, a holographic screen showing Julia floated up .
“Greetings, Master Sila . How can I serve you?” greeted Julia . Her eyes clearly showed a hint of surprise that Sila called her from the outside since he had never done so before .
“I want to ask you something . Is there a method to make a monster learn fast without becoming a pet?”
“There is, Master . It’s called the ‘Monster Follower’ pact . It’s a system which is quite troublesome and grants low benefits, so most players aren’t interested in it . Instead of the master-pet relations.h.i.+p, the relations.h.i.+p between you and the monster who decides to be your follower shall be like this:
“Firstly, you can’t access the monster’s details except for its name and level . Secondly, the monster can still stay in its own territory . You can try to summon it to your aid, though the monster has to give its consent in order for the call to be succeeded . Similarly, it shall have the privilege to summon you if you give it your consent . Lastly, both you and the monster can choose to break the pact anywhere and anytime . ”
As he finished listening to Julia, Sila turned to ask Rex, “How about it? I don’t dare to call myself an expert but I have comprehended Tiger Dragon Qi to some degree . With you being my follower, not only will your supporting skills develop faster, but we can also call each other to spar or discuss qi-related topics . ”
Rex looked at the other dragons to ask for their opinions, then nodded . “In that case, let’s do it . ”
Julia interrupted . “To form a Monster Follower pact, unlike a master-pet relations.h.i.+p, it requires a ritual and a symbol to make it legitimate . Master Sila has to leave the symbol within the monster’s territory . If the symbol breaks, it shall count as the end of the pact . Thus, it needs to be something durable, yet can’t be too small and must be placed in a visible area . ”
“Mn . It indeed sounds troublesome . ”
Checking the time, Mamon warned Sila . “Hey . It will be midnight in an hour . Don’t you need to be somewhere else?”
“That’s true! I will take care of the pact when I come back, then . It won’t take too long . I have to arrive at the Valley of Immortals before midnight . ”
“Well, I will stay here . There is something I want to do,” said Mamon .
“Sure . I was worried you would get bored if you came with me . I will come and pick you up in the morning, then . Please behave yourself and don’t be a naughty boy, okay?”
“I’m not a kid!! I’m the Devil Prince from h.e.l.l, the one and only . . . ”
Mamon shut his mouth as Sila had already left . With most of his power returned to him, Sila could use his top speed to head into the forest .
Mamon sighed and turned to Rex . “I have business with you . ”
“With me?” asked Rex . Mamon was considered a monster under Sila’s wing, so he acted friendly toward him .
“Do you seek power? Power which is so powerful that you won’t lose to anybody, which can even trample on the Monster Realm . ”
“Power? Do you intend to grant it to me? Based on your fighting style, I think you are not a combat type . How do you plan to give me power?”
“I’d say I’m a talented devil prince who can achieve the task that others deem impossible . Well, I won’t do it for free . I have never done anything for free . ”
Sila speedily rushed through the Single-Horned Dragon Forest . With his current speed and the fact that he wasn’t obstructed by Single-Horned Dragons, it only took him half an hour for him to spot the words ‘Xian Shan’ engraved on the stone valley . In front of the path leading to the inside, Crow stood there with a bottle of sake in his hand .
“h.e.l.lo, Mister Crow . ”
Crow observed Sila and stuck his thumb up . “Young lad, it’s only been a while but you have gotten a lot stronger . Did you come to visit me? How about some sake?”
Sila waved his hand in denial . “No, sir . I came to use the Cave of Immortals for a bit . ”
“Ah? That quest can only be done once, you know? Even if you go inside again, nothing will come of it . ”
“I don’t want anything from it . I just want to use that place, sir . ”
Crow drank another gulp of sake . “Was it you who caused trouble for all of the Single-Horned Dragons in the forest? Even though I catch them to eat from time to time, they are still my neighbors, you know?”
What kind of person catches their neighbors to eat? That question came into Sila’s mind, though he didn’t ask it out loud .
“No, sir . It’s the work of another person, but I already took care of him . By the way, it’s almost midnight . May I go inside?”
Sila stepped forward . However, Crow gestured for him to stop while grinning .
“You have become a lot stronger . How about having a match with me? It’s been a long time since the last time I fought a talented player . ”
Sila rejected politely, “I don’t think I can stand a chance against you, sir . Can you wait for when I come out? We can have a sparring match then . ”
Crow nodded twice . “Your words are nice . Very nice . However, do you know that an act of humility can be similar to an act of disdain? Are you trying to imply that I don’t have what it takes to gain the right to challenge you?”
Sila wondered if he had used the wrong choice of words . “That’s not it, sir . However, it’s almost midnight . I’m afraid I won’t make it in time . ”
“Since it’s a race against time, that means you will have to go all out, right? That’s what makes it fun,” Crow replied while grinning .
“But, I . . . ”
“You may think that I’m being unreasonable . However, for me, a battle without pressure is hardly different than eating fried tofu without dipping sauce . It’s tasteless . I want to see with my own eyes how far the young lad I met in the Town of Beginnings has gone . If you want, I can even give you a reward . It’s based on your performance though . ”
“The reward is unnecessary, sir . I am just aware that I can’t end the fight before midnight . Else, if I get too hurried, I will simply die . Mister Crow will be disappointed that way . ”
“I am well aware, young lad . That’s why . . . ” Crow extended a sharp aura from his finger and marked a perfectly straight line in front of him, then continued . “As long as you can get past this line or deal some damage to the valley behind me, it will count as your win . ”
“Will it be my win if I throw a rock past the line, sir?”
“If that rock hits the valley, then yes . Even if there is no mark left behind, it will be your victory . Furthermore, I will give you another handicap . I won’t attack you until this bottle of sake breaks . See? What a super good deal you have there . ”
Sila opened his system window and found that he was running out of time . It would be too late if he wasted time arguing .
“Fine, sir . Let’s start . ”
Since it was a battle with a time limit, Sila started by exerting Five-Attributed Cloud Qi’s flame element since it had the property of temporarily stimulating his strength to give him a dynamic boost .
Attribute of Fire — Flame G.o.d’s Body .
Crow poured the remaining sake into his mouth . He looked at Sila with the eyes of a kid looking at a new toy as he tossed the empty bottle forward .
With the temporary boost in power, Sila flicked both his wrists and fired a hundred suntetsu . Some of them flew to attack Crow while some flew toward the valley . He also charged right after his hidden weapons .
Crow’s fingers were enveloped by an aura that extended . Sila had seen a move like this before . For Shueria, he could extend the blade-shaped aura out of his hand . However, Crow could do it with each of his fingers . Crow’s hands looked like extremely long claws, positioned like a fishnet that wouldn’t allow anything to get past him .
Sila still kept running forward . He relied on the fact that Crow wouldn’t attack him unless the sake bottle broke . With his current speed, he could get past the line before the bottle hit the ground . Therefore, he swiftly ran past the bottle .
“You’re too naive, young lad . I didn’t tell you I won’t attack the bottle . ”
Crow’s blade aura on his finger shot forward . The sharp wave flew at the sake bottle .
If the bottle broke, Crow could attack Sila directly . Thus, Sila had to do his best to prolong the life of the bottle for as long as possible .
Attribute of Wood — Beckoning Hand of the Reaper .
The sake bottle changed its direction and flew after Sila as if he was pulling it with an invisible rope . Actually, Sila invented this move with the intention of relying on the control trait of the wood element to subdue his opponent’s movements . Nevertheless, he adapted it to control the bottle’s trajectory in mid-air .
“Oh? Splendid . Using qi to control an object, eh? This is neither Mora nor Sanon’s art . Is this your own profound art? You are more capable than I thought . ”
Even though he was giving praise, Crow didn’t stop his movement . He spun his wrists and his aura curved accordingly . Several sharp blade energies—that could cleave a mountain as easily as tearing paper—flew at the bottle .
Instead of abandoning the bottle, Sila continued to drag the bottle toward himself .
Crow believed that Sila made that choice because he wanted to protect it . However, it was a bad move . When the bottle broke, Crow’s attack would simply continue to fly and hit Sila . In his opinion, Sila should have tossed the bottle in a different direction . If he had done that, Crow would have had to waste one more second .
Nevertheless, Sila’s thought was different . He believed that Crow had given him too many handicaps, especially the one regarding the sake bottle . With that condition, Crow wouldn’t be able to harm him as long as the bottle didn’t break . Thus, all he really needed to do was to protect it, and he had already come up with a method .
Sila stopped his feet, kicking the ground and jumping backward, heading for the sake bottle . Additionally, he poured more strength into pulling it toward him .
Crow rotated his wrist again, and this time, the fishnet of blades expanded and surrounded Sila from every direction . Sila, who was in the middle, would have no other choice but to accept his inevitable fate of being chopped into pieces .
However, when the distance between the tip of Sila’s finger and the sake bottle was exactly three meters, the bottle in question transformed into light and flew into Sila’s body . Looking at what happened, Crow furrowed his brows and dismissed his blade-claws . His strength had reached the realm of instantly unleas.h.i.+ng and retracting his qi according to his will .
Sila fell to the ground and released a heavy sigh . “Phew~ That was close . ”
Crow looked for the sake bottle . “What did you do? Where is the bottle?”
“I collected it into my system window, sir . This way, Mister Crow can no longer attack me . Can this count as my win, sir?”
Sila relied on King’s Treasury that deemed every dropped item in a twenty-meter radius around him as his . However, for him to seize the items belonging to others, the distance had to be less than three meters, similar to how Dark Self utilized the skill to s.n.a.t.c.h the brooch from Montra .
Crow scratched his head, stared at Sila, and laughed . “Hahaha . Fine . It’s my loss for underestimating you . Next time, I will lower the amount of handicaps . No, maybe I won’t even have to give you any . ”
“That’s fine, sir . But now . . . ”
“Oh, alright . You may go, but return the sake bottle to me first . I’m too lazy to go out and buy a new one . ”
Sila took out the bottle and returned to Crow . “In that case, you shouldn’t have used it to play around from the start, sir . ”
“Mn . You are right . If I didn’t use it to play around, I would have won . With this, I will have it work its a.s.s off . I won’t feel satisfied until it finishes the task of pouring sake into my mouth to my heart’s content . Hahaha . ”
Sila entered the Valley of Immortals . He remembered the layout of the valley so there was no need for Crow to lead him .
Once Sila had left, Crow, who was alone, released a sigh . He took out a small golden box from his sleeve and gave it a serious look .
“Sanon, Vichien, you guys miscalculated . This young lad isn’t just a stepping stone but a ma.s.sive mountain . Indeed, how can Mora’s disciple be just a mere stone?”
Even though Crow wasn’t affiliated with the Wulin Masters a.s.sociation, he and the Three Elders were friends . Therefore, it was natural that he would come to know some matters about the a.s.sociation . He was aware of the path that Sila walked upon, and how difficult it would be . If he lacked strength, not to mention becoming the lord of all experts, he wouldn’t even have a place to stand in the martial world .
That was the world’s eternal truth .
“Except for the fact that I personally know you guys, I am not related to the a.s.sociation in any way . I’m just an NPC giving a reward to a player . According to my role as the NPC stationed in the Valley of Immortals, based on my discretion, I have the right to grant a reward to the player who goes through the Single-Horned Dragon Forest and arrives at this place by themselves . Thus, you have no right to blame me . Actually, the last time Sila visited, he should have already received this reward, but you guys asked me to withhold it . Now that he has returned, I will just think that it’s his fate to obtain it . ”