Chapter 81: Green Dragon Mask
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The Ancient Strength Manual greatly widened Mwana’s horizons and in fact, it could even be called a strength guide as it also contained some information on how ancient warriors boosted their strength. While most of the methods were outdated, Mwana still found two viable methods within the text.

The first method involved the use of magic potions made from some rare herbs that grew in areas steeped in Fiend Energy. While such places were extremely rare in the entire Zika world, Mwana knew one such place; a region deep within the Black Dragon Mountains said to be protected by a fierce Fiend Guard. The potions created from the rare herbs growing in such a place were very efficient in raising the strength of the physical body. After all, Fiends were negative creatures with extremely powerful bodies. It was truly saddening that humans would experience a violent reaction if they ever tried to absorb pure fiend energy. However, some of the rarer herbs growing in such places sort of distilled this energy reducing its side-effects to humans if they used potions made of these herbs. By applying the particular potions in the Strength Guide to the base of the feet, one could open the Earth Nodes much earlier allowing them to borrow power from the earth as long as they were standing on the ground. This provided a considerable boost in leg strength, speed, and stamina.

Apart from the fiend herbs magic potions, the second method that Mwana found applicable was a special type of flower filled with dragon energy that could boost one’s bloodline.

Seeing Mwana read this section of the booklet, the old seller let out a few coughs.

“Let me guess, you will say that you have it.” Mwana asked with an almost sarcastic tone that implied ‘yeah right’. In his mind he had already pinned this old fellow as a wolf when it came to money.

Little did he know that the old seller also formed his own negative opinion about him, someone that dared haggle over 2 cowry shells, the old man was sure that if there was an award for misers, Mwana would definitely be on the competitor list. Although it seemed like the boy had spent a lot, he had cut down the price of almost everything he bought by more than half, sometimes even more than three quarters!

“Scamming people at your age cannot be healthy.” Mwana said to the old man while closing the book. He did not believe that such a shabby place would have such a precious treasure. Not one bit.

“Boy, do you really have to doubt me on everything?” The old man said with a long face as if he was truly sad due to Mwana’s remark.

His face drooped and if you observed closely, you could even make out a little tear hanging on to dear life on the edge of his eye bags. In Mwana’s eyes, this old fellow could indeed make a good actor, ‘a little overdramatic but okay’.

“You bet I do with your ‘Dhahabu in Uhai’ nonsense. If I was not observant, I would have been conned a thousand times over by you.”

“Okay, okay, this time I am not concealing anything. In fact this opportunity has nothing to do with me. Take a look at this first.” The old seller quickly defended himself before handing Mwana an old worn out bronze coloured coin.

“What is this?” Holding the coin in his hand, Mwana sensed that it was a bit extraordinary.

Even the coin’s colour value, through his third eye, was a solid orange. ‘There is something strange about this coin.’ However, even after keenly observing the coin the only thing he could make out was a barely visible dragon emblem due to the coin’s wear and tear. There were also traces of some words on the edges of the coin but time had long dealt with them.

“It is a token. With it you can join and participate in this town’s Underground Masquerade martial arts battles. You just need to know where to go and once you hand them this coin, they will let you join. With this, you will be able to gain aaaaaall the resources you want with your own strength and if you can reach the top of the fighting tower, the flower is yours. My only request is that…”

Before the old man could continue with his request, he was shocked to see the coin back in his hand. Mwana had a disinterested look on his face as he started to hurriedly walk away from the seller. ‘I have already wasted time haggling here that the night is almost here!’

The sky had already turned grey black as heavy rainclouds gathered from all directions and a soft chilly breeze washed over the town. ‘Looks like it is going to rain again. Sheesh, I have to hurry.’ Mwana had already relegated the old seller’s words to the back of his mind. Who truly had time to participate in some shady underground fight club? ‘Not me.’

“Kid, don’t be too quick to throw away such a golden opportunity.” The seller hurriedly said as he grabbed Mwana’s arm and forcefully stuffed the coin back into Mwana’s hands.

Mwana had a smile on his face as he questioned the man, “If it is so good why don’t you take it? It’s a ‘golden opportunity’ after all.” The sarcasm in his voice could not be missed.

“You have no shame suggesting that an old bones like me should join fist fights. 5 years, 10 years, will I even be alive? Think how fragile I am.”

The seller defended himself with an aggrieved tone and a face that looked as if he was begging and crying at the same time.

Mwana had to acknowledge that the man was an expert at playing the victim and garnering sympathy. However, who was he to be outdone?

“You have no shame suggesting that to a kid like me either. You are asking if you will be alive in 5 years or 10 years? Was I even alive 10 years ago? I am so young, so fragile, haish.”

With a sigh and a pitiful face that would make any adult’s heart soften, Mwana’s counterattack was naturally victorious.

In the end, the old seller could only relent and tell Mwana everything to keep him from leaving. What caught Mwana’s attention was the reward of a Blood Nourishing Potion if one managed to top a fighting ring in the Underground Masquerade. On top of that, there were even different power, gender, and even age categories so Mwana could compete with the young or old. It was his choice. While the fighting stage was ‘underground’, there were still strict regulations to keep such businesses running. After all, ‘underground’ did not mean ‘invisible from the government’ but instead it just meant ‘invisible from the common people’.

Joining a fighting ring and participating in rewarding battles was indeed a good idea. Even if Mwana had to fight with just his physical abilities alone due to Milele Town’s Normalization Magic Formation, he was still extremely confident in his physical strength. As someone who had grown up in a blacksmith village, physical strength had never been an issue for Mwana.

Further, although the Myriad Dragon Bloodline had its weaknesses, it was still a dragon bloodline after all and dragons were creatures known for their mighty and indestructible bodies. With the Green Dragon Mantra in hand, Mwana had relied on the [Bone], [Skin], [Muscle], and [Flesh] sections to refine his body even further, or at least beyond other ordinary warriors. Further, Mwana specialized in mostly basic techniques which boosted his speed so even when his supernatural powers were suppressed, his agility remained relatively high even when suppressed.

“It is a masquerade fight so you need to chose a mask if you are going to participate.” The old man said as he produced a pile of masks from god-knows-where and laid them on the mat.

“Ho! Another way to milk money.” Mwana had to commend the old man. Everything to him was business, even the so-called opportunity.

Among the old man’s line-up of masks, there were all manner of strange masks but the ones that caught Mwana’s eyes were 4 of them: a white wolf mask, a black wood laughing mask, a silver metallic eye mask, and a white cloth mask. However, while sorting through the masks, Mwana found something he felt resonated with his spirit: a green dragon wooden mask. The mask was right at the bottom of the pile. It was made of wood and painted over in a green shade of paint that seemed to be wearing off at some sections of the mask. As a result, its overall colour was a mixture of green and brown. On top of that, the dragon scales design as well as the dragon horns were extremely realistic. Mwana obviously wanted it but he was not too keen on spending even a single coin more than he had already done.

Seeing Mwana’s hesitation, the old seller immediately went into veteran salesman mode pointing out the perks and functions of this item. The mask was not just for show as it had: a built-in air filter to protect against low level gaseous poisons, lenses that could come up and down like a shutter to protect the eyes, and ear flaps to guard against low level sonic attacks. The masks capabilities were really well rounded.

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