Normal ‘skills’ would activate at the mere thought or utterance of it. Persisting to use skills in that complacent manner, however, would result in loss of ‘depth’. My past self didn’t know that, and only after entering Rakshasa Citadale did I realize I was wrong. Perhaps…it may have been an excuse, that being unable to reach the apex was because I had been a Magic Swordsman.
‘I hadn’t explored deeply.’
I had thought it wasn’t possible chasing after those geniuses. I didn’t search for the reason why geniuses were geniuses. I settled for self-consolation, that because they were geniuses it was possible for them.
No. I was wrong starting from my presumption. They had known how to ‘disassemble’ skills. They were able to reach the ‘apex’ because they had endeavored to understand everything about skills, their theory and structure. Of course, if that was a talent as well then it could be called a talent, because it was a feat which entailed looking at the exterior of a completed machine and assembling the interior. Here in the place, only after looking into the interior did I realize the error of my ways. Was I to be relieved about this, or to curse at my own stupidity…
The reason why the Heartless Soul Stealer Blade had stopped at the 9th level was simply because its matching ‘chakra mind art’ was missing, and the other Magic Swordsman skills couldn’t reach Lv10 because I only knew how to simply use them.
The only limitation of a Magic Swordsman was that it wasn’t possible to learn ‘S-rank skills’. Just that. But perhaps there may even be a way around that as well. I had lost myself in the use of the skills and rapid initial development, however, and failed to see what was important, ignoring it.
Could there be anything more stupid than this? And to think, despite it all I kept harping on about the apex. I had a mind to hide in a rat hole out of embarrassment.
Etaqua approached and licked my face, instantly covering it in slobber. Having felt the disturbance in my heart, he was trying to comfort me in his own way.
Etaqua was innocent. He was like a white drawing paper, albeit of a large size. Anything that was written or drawn was taken in as is, so his achievements in ‘Hundred-step Ghost Fist’ were higher than me. Etaqua was in the midst of learning how to maximise the use of the least amount of mana in order to assist physical attacks.
I wasn’t alone. I had more time than I did in the past, and the ways in which I could grow stronger were unlimited as well. Everything depended on my will.
“Then let’s have another go.”
I held out my palm, and Etaqua moved his tail to face my palm. And then…
Wind gathered between my palm and Etaqua’s tail. It gathered into a sphere and continuously spun in a spiral. It was an extremely delicate process. The slightest loss of concentration would result in the spiraling sphere to scatter into air. It was a kind of competition. Whenever there was time like now, together with Etaqua I would practise the theory of force penetration regarding the aspect of ‘rotation’ and to maximise it.
My shoulders felt light. I relaxed all tension in my body after hearing Yuseol’s words of advice. Doing the best I could to produce the best possible result still wasn’t enough, so it was only natural that being stiff as a board would only drag me down.
‘If you can’t avoid it, enjoy it!’
From then on I began to ‘enjoy’ everything I was going through. Many times I had to grit and bear the merciless pain, but it lessened a degree when I thought of it as the foothold for my success. As time went by, the surrounding reactions changed as well.
“Truly have to admit his willpower.”
“I feel raring to go just watching.”
“There was a time when I was like that as well.”
Yaksha were warriors at their core. Watching the weakling, namely myself, putting in unceasing effort and diligently working roused their emotions as well. There must have been a sense of pressure too. Day by day I was changing slowly. They were also aware of that fact, because they watched every day. They wouldn’t want to taste the humiliation of being caught up to by someone they thought of as a weakling, a bottom-feeder.
A rank 2 white monkey. I still wasn’t its opponent with my current abilities. It laughed cringingly upon seeing me appear again. Seeing the guy getting beaten up every other day unfailingly show up again, it must find it funny. Opening Mind’s Eye, I examined its status window today as well.
Name: Rank 2 White Monkey (Value – 7,850)
Str 55b Agi 60a Con 53b
Int 41b Mag 51b
Skills: 108 Dash(Lv5), Free Breakfall(Lv3), Monkey Fist(Lv6)
The abilities of rank 2 white monkeys were approximately within this range. The stats itself were similar to rank 3 white monkeys as well, but the problem was that they knew how to use martial arts from rank 2 and above. 108 Dash and Monkey Fist. These two made for an extremely tricky combination.
‘Today, I will win.’
But today I was different. Today, at least, I decided to take it extremely seriously. I took a stance and clenched my fists. Deeping inhaling, I then slowly moved my feet.
Had it noticed the difference in my atmosphere compared to the past? The white monkey bared its teeth as it ferociously pounced at me.
The Monkey Fist raining down from the air was greatly intimidating. It gave off the impression as if the fists were increasing by two, and three. Instantly my shoulder was scraped by a fist and my body was blown back. But it didn’t sound like it had hit muscle, instead sounding as if it had hit a sack of rice. This was due to the effects of Vajra Body, an external art that reduced the damage of physical attacks. I had intended for this as well. I had no thoughts of blocking in the first place.
‘Trade flesh for bones.’
Focusing the subtleties of Hundred-step Ghost Fist, I attacked the white monkey right in its stomach. It was sent flying far, getting up again stumbling and shaking its head.
Enraged, it then stomped the ground as it pounced at me using movement arts. I didn’t dodge. During the past few days my Vajra Body had reached the 3rd level.
‘3rd level Vajra Body has roughly 30% physical resistance.’
I was in the midst of feeling, with my whole body, the thrice effect of roughly 10% resistance having increased with the rise of each level. At 3rd level, I got the feeling that even if I was stabbed with a sword, it wouldn’t even pierce me properly.
It was a hideous slugfest. No matter how much my physical resistance had increased, the white monkey’s attacks still shook the entirety of my body. But the white monkey as well couldn’t remain unharmed. While Vajra Body was at 3rd level, Hundred-step Ghost Fist was still at 1st level.
‘It’s hard to use it to good effect unless I can get real close.’
In exchange, there shouldn’t be anything better for attacking than Hundred-step Ghost Fist in extreme close-quarters.
I clenched my jaws, and caught the white monkey pouncing on me with my left hand. After locking it in place to prevent evasion, I struck the white monkey’s body with my right fist.
Following the sound, the white monkey went limp.
My breathing was rough. Hundred-step Ghost fist…although it was a fist technique, I got the feeling that as long as I could raise my mastery in it, with good application I wouldn’t be restrained by any armor or weapon. In fact, there were some complementary parts to it. That’s why I had chosen it, but the results until now were extremely satisfying.
“What, it worked?’
“It does feel a little weak though.”
“It doesn’t seem to be a simple force discharge. Maybe he’s reached the level of short discharge.”
The difficulty rose in order of fleeting force, medial force, and force penetration. I opened Mind’s Eye and examined the Yaksha, but there was no Yaksha among them that had learned Hundred-step Ghost Fist. That’s because of how difficult and abstruse it was. For that reason they weren’t able to properly understand whether I had utilized the theory of force penetration. I was able to use it because for my foundation I had the helical mana, understanding of infinity, and what opened the doors to all possibilities, Universal Man, and more.
“Fleeting force? Isn’t that amazing by itself?”
“He’ll be giving up trying to advance it to medial force anyway. Dark Dragon Yuseol or Sleeping Dragon Jugaram are about the only Yaksha to realize the subtleties beyond medial force, no?”
The commotion intensified. They had begun debating my level of mastery with that one strike I’d shown as the subject. When a conclusion couldn’t be made despite that, a bulky Yaksha approached me.
“Hey. Try it on me once.”
“I mean what you used to knock out that rank 2 white monkey just now. That martial art similar to Hundred-step Ghost Fist!”
I scratched my head for a moment. Had I made too much of a scene? But it was the first time something like this happened. They, who had remained consistent in their ‘ignoring’ of me, showed themselves before me. It meant that they had acknowledged me to a certain extent.
It would have been good if they continued to ignore me, but it’s something I had to go through sooner or later anyway. I was changing by the day. Since I had even defeated a rank 2 white monkey, I now had the opportunity to challenge the rank 1, even the monkey king. I had predicted that I would have a clash with the Yaksha during that process.
Since I had been expecting it, it was on to the next task. If I was to do it, then I should show it properly.
“You’ll regret it.”
“Regret? Ah, you mean what you do all the time? Pft haha! Worry not. I’ll do no more than take a hit!”
The Yaksha raised both his hands, as if to imply that this wasn’t a fight. I hoped that he could continue to maintain that expression. Chuckling, I slowing stretched out a fist.
“What’s this, are you playing around? What do you expect a cotton-like punch like this to…”
I had lightly pressed my fist against him, but as long as it ‘touched’ then the rest was easy. I had long ago passed the stage of simply puncturing the bottom of a basin. The skin of a Yaksha was thick, but I didn’t know if the innards would be as strong.
The bones and innards became twisted. In an instant, the Yaksha’s face burned a bright red. The strength in his body left him and saliva leaked from his mouth.
Just barely, he cried out. The Yaksha hastily took a step back. His leisurely appearance from before was nowhere to be seen. The pain must be agonizing. There was a time during practise with Etaqua when he had struck me using Hundred-step Ghost Fist. I remember my body being assailed by pain on a different league compared to getting pummelled by white monkeys. He should be feeling the same, or more than that, but not less.
“One more hit?”
The Yaksha swiftly shook his head. He must lack the energy to talk or even the strength to move. In a bid to preserve his pride however he could, he began making way toward the treatment room, gripping his stomach like a puppy feeling the call of nature.
I felt pure admiration. I never expected that he could endure it to that point without even betraying much emotion.
The 1st level of Hundred-step Ghost Fist can exhibit true might when in extreme close-quarters. I still wasn’t capable of affecting objects outside 100 steps. As of now I could manage at most 2 steps, and the only impact it would have is like being shaken by the wind as well. Only in complete closed distance could it take proper effect.
But Hundred-set Ghost Fist, which impacted the innards, was in a different class compared to swords, which cut the ‘outside’, and other magics. If I could utilize it well together with Heartless Soul Stealer Blade, it may be the birth of an amazing skill which could destroy both the outside and inside at once.
‘This will work as long as the innards aren’t trained.’
I felt as if all the sufferings I went through until now had flown away. All the observing Yaksha kept silent. Fleeting force and medial force wasn’t capable of this much damage by just touching with a hand. Only force penetration made it possible to twist bones or even rupture the internals.
“No way…force penetration?”
“Someone who has realized the subtleties of force penetration has been getting pummelled by a mere rank 2 white monkey all this time?”
“Coincidence…it should be.”
All of them had gazes of disbelief. But they couldn’t carelessly make a challenge. The Black Yaksha’s seal branded on my earlobe was shining.
[User has won against a Yaksha.]
[The Black Yaksha’s seal is releasing light.]
[Out of the opponent’s stats, 0.05 ‘agility’ will be stolen.]
[Upon winning against or killing other Yaksha or Rakshasa possessing a seal, the Black Yaksha’s seal can absorb a small amount of a random stat from the opponent.]
[The effect does not stack on a target.]
[Stats beyond the range of potential cannot be absorbed.]
[The accumulated stat will be reflected in units of 1 in the status window.]
[Accumulated stats at present – Agi(0.05)]
The Black Yaksha’s seal! Feared and distanced by all. Who would have known it had this kind of ability. I think I knew why the person who had possessed the Black Yaksha’s seal in ancient times had killed one Rakshasa and then slaughtered Yaksha.
A yearning for power! Perhaps the Black Yaksha’s seal was given because of endless desire. Swallowed by that desire, that person had committed a mass slaughter, and died in the end.
My adam’s apple bobbed. I knew that the moment I lose myself in power, it would be the same as setting foot on the same path as my predecessor. I knew, but even so it was an tempting ability. To think, all one needed to do was win. Killing, on the other hand…obviously would grant an even greater reward.
“Is he truly cursed?”
The Yaksha retreated a step. They raised their guards against me with gazes half full of fear. The barely gained favorable public opinion was reversed in an instant.
‘A natural enemy like no other.’
I slowly moved my feet to exit the sparring hall. With every passing moment the fierce lights in their gazes intensified. Until this moment it had been no more than a story going around, an oral tradition, but they had instinctively felt a repulsion when the Black Yaksha’s seal shined with light. That’s because in the end…this was the mark of a predator which had preyed on them!