༺ Why is he venturing out again…? (3) ༻
Gu Yangcheon’s residence shook down to its foundations, a result of the Sword Emperor’s raging Qi.
The Second Elder, noticing what was going on, quickly erected a Qi barrier around the mansion.
‘The saying that dragons get bigger as they age wasn’t a lie…’
A bead of sweat slowly rolled down the Second Elder’s face, down to his chin, and then trickled down to the ground.
The Sword Emperor had failed to control his emotions and let out a tiny bit of his Qi, and the result of it was the residence they currently inhabited being almost wiped off the face of the world.
This was the power of a ‘Heavenly Venerable’.
“You are crossing the line, Gu Ryoon.”
“No. You know exactly what I meant when I asked that question.”
The ‘sight’ that a high-ranking martial artist could lay his eyes upon was far and wide.
If a high-ranking martial artist like the Second Elder used all of his Qi, he would be able to read at least half of the people within the Gu clan.
It wasn’t possible to read every move of people like the Lord of Gu or the Sword Emperor, but he would be able to read the others within the clan.
It was also possible for martial artists to read into people’s existences.
And that was how the Second Elder found out,
“You definitely already know this, so why are you pretending to be ignorant?”
The Second Elder thought about Wi Seol-Ah as he spoke;
She was unbelievably beautiful, but she was also different, unnatural even, to the Second Elder’s eyes.
She was… hollow.
The things that should have existed within the body of a human were nowhere to be found in Wi Seol-Ah.
Things like common sense and fear.
Humans were supposed to feel emotions, but Wi Seol-Ah seemed to possess none of them.
Instead, something else had filled up the void inside of Wi Seol-Ah.
Whether it was light or darkness, not even the Second Elder was able to gaze into that far.
But if it was the Sword Emperor, wouldn’t he be able to see?
“That child… what is she?”
“My granddaughter is human, Gu Ryoon!”
The Sword Emperor slammed down on the table with his hand, and it immediately splintered into pieces.
But that wasn’t all.
The Sword Emperor’s Qi exploded at the same time as his palm strike, and the Second Elder who had been channeling some of his own Qi to keep Gu Yangcheon’s residence intact, was forced to face the full brunt of the Sword Emperor’s Qi with no proper defense in place.
However, he didn’t show his pain.
While clamping down on his teeth to stop even the lightest groan from leaking out, the Second Elder swallowed back the blood that had surged up to his throat, and after doing so he continued to speak.
“If you find the Immortal Healer, do you think that you can fill the empty void within that child up with something else?”
The Immortal Healer was said to be a doctor, who was sent down to this world by the Gods themselves, but could even someone with their abilities do such a thing?
Even someone like the ‘King of the Shadows’, the one who controlled the ‘Night Reapers’ as his limbs, couldn’t compare to the void inside Wi Seol-Ah.
One thing that the Second Elder still struggled to comprehend, however, was what exactly was filling up the empty void within Wi Seol-Ah.
It was distinct from the ordinary Qi that every human possessed.
‘What could that be…’
Humans felt fear, and the Second Elder definitely felt fear inside of Wi Seol-Ah. But it wasn’t the sort of fear he was familiar with.
He didn’t know what exactly was inside of her.
He was curious, but he didn’t intend to pry further with the intent of figuring it out.
His instincts told him that inside of that child, was a vault that he shouldn’t dare to open.
“Is that why you are living while hiding yourself from people? Because you are afraid that she might be discovered?”
What would happen if other martial artists took a glimpse inside of Wi Seol-Ah just like he had done?
First and foremost, there were only a handful of martial artists of sufficient rank who had the capability to see through her.
Few did not mean ‘none at all’.
If and when the Sword Emperor ran into a martial artist who could glimpse into the secrets inside her, what would happen then?
How would they describe the nothingness that resided inside of such a seemingly normal girl?
Looking at the Sword Emperor’s face, it seemed like that wasn’t the only reason why he was hiding, but the Second Elder knew that he wouldn’t be able to ask any more questions.
He could feel them, multiple invisible blades were being aimed at him from different directions.
And, while the Sword Emperor himself had nothing in his hand, the Second Elder knew with unfailing certainty where the blades originated from.
‘Is this the ‘Mind Sword’, the highest rank martial art of a sword wielder…?’
The Second Elder didn’t know, as he himself wasn’t a sword wielder.
“If I ask any more, you will cut me to pieces without any hesitation.”
“…Gu Ryoon, you are only alive right now because of what you have realized, so don’t be sad.”
“I don’t know what you are thinking, or why you are traveling with that child. And, to be honest, I don’t really care.”
He had no concerns about what others thought. It was already hard trying to live his own life.
Those were the Second Elder’s thoughts.
“The old you wouldn’t even be worried about this.”
To the eyes of the Second Elder the Sword Emperor looked like a man on the run.
The Second Elder who had thought that the Sword Emperor was a blade that would never rust, now felt that the man before him was slowly breaking down.
He was the ‘Boundless Sky’ above the Orthodox Faction, the ‘Pillar’ that carried the Orthodox Faction. Those were titles that he’d borne, and he had deserved all of them.
The Second Elder had, at one point, even looked up at the small man who possessed the strength of the Heavens within him reverently.
Now, there seemed to be a slight crack in that boundless sky.
The Second Elder kept talking while staring at the Sword Emperor.
“If you say that the child is human, then I will accept that, and will treat her the same way. If you choose to continue to look over her, then you do that as well. However,”
The Second Elder at this point, rose to his feet and then turned away from the pieces that remained of the broken table.
He had to leave for Namgung in order to fulfill the Lord’s request.
“Do not have any regrets later because of the decisions you have made now. There is nothing more pathetic than that, I’m sure that you know this more than anyone.”
Shortly after the Second Elder had left, the Sword Emperor’s raging Qi slowly calmed down.
After he had withdrawn the sharp Qi that he had spread around the room, the Sword Emperor rubbed his face…
‘That child, is she even human?’
While the words of the Second Elder continued to echo in his mind.
Was she human? She was indeed a human.
The Demon Realm.
That was where the Sword Emperor had brought Wi Seol-Ah from. He erased the memory from back then.
When he had first met the child, when the child first said his name, when they walked around while holding hands,
All of those moments told the Sword Emperor that she, Wi Seol-Ah, was human.
No matter what Wi Seol-Ah had within her, and even if she was destined to be at the center of the world’s disaster.
None of that would matter if he slashed that destiny away.
That was the sole purpose why he was wielding his sword.
That was the reason why he swore to his sword.
No matter what Wi Seol-Ah was, no matter what disaster came after her.
The Sword Emperor would sacrifice himself without any hesitation if it was for his granddaughter.
The Sword Emperor slowly and carefully collected the pieces of the table he’d broken.
He was feeling more and more lacking in recent times because of how easy he had found that it was for him to lose control of his emotions, even though he had lived such a long life.
So what if Wi Seol-Ah wasn’t a human.
All he had to do was fill her up with something that represented humanity.
If need be, he would even give up his life for it.
The Sword Emperor was prepared for that moment.
At the end of the day, the Sword Emperor was too late in noticing that Wi Seol-Ah was missing from the clan.
* * * *
After a bit of time had passed since we’d set off on the carriage, my butt started to hurt a little.
When I looked outside, I saw that the sun had already set. A little more, and the carriage would need to take a break as we were reaching a wood.
The carriage came to a halt after a while, and we started preparing our camping area. It was a good spot, thanks to a small lake being located nearby.
Was it because I had been sitting down all day? My body felt stiff.
For some reason, Muyeon was making a hollow face, and after a while, he simply disappeared with his sword after telling me that he was going to find a spot to train.
However, he’d said that he would be back before it was his turn to watch for the night, so it would all work out, I guessed.
‘How much longer till we reach Sichuan?’
It would at least be a few days. Like always, it would take a long time to travel in this stupidly vast land.
There was a good reason why the Murim Alliance in the past had tried to tame the demons that were able to fly.
Of course, they had failed, just like they had done with the Green-horned hounds.
The conclusion that the Murim Alliance came to after that was that it was impossible to tame any kind of demon.
‘…The only exception is the Heavenly Demon.’
It had been sort of ironic, seeing the Heavenly Demon do so easily something that the entire Murim Alliance couldn’t do despite them researching it for numerous years.
The Heavenly Demon had been able to tame demons.
Just their breath was enough to control the demons.
A demon that looked like it could swallow a clan in one bite was just akin to a sheep to the Heavenly Demon.
In my previous life, when the demons invaded the Mount Hua Sect, the Heavenly Demon had appeared while riding a huge demon.
How does it make sense to tame a demon in the first place?
“Is someone that’s able to do that really human?”
Just thinking about it gave me the shivers.
I had to stop thinking about it, as I had other priorities to worry about.
I channeled and directed my Qi around my body after putting aside the useless thoughts to a corner of my mind.
I may have been training consistently in recent times, but the Qi I possessed was too little for me to improve quickly in such a short span of time.
It felt like it would take me forever to reach the 3rd realm in the flame arts.
My physical body was one problem, but the most important issue was the amount of Qi that I possessed.
It was something that I had felt while fighting Gu Jeolyub.
Because of the lack of Qi, I couldn’t do the things that I had knowledge on.
This could be really problematic and possibly even life-threatening in real combat.
I stepped forward with my left foot and punched the air.
The sound of air exploding followed my fast-moving fist.
Just doing this much made me feel like all of my Qi was leaving my body, but I persevered and continued.
From arms to legs and then back to arms.
Because of my stiff body, I couldn’t make the natural movements I was gunning for, but I still had to move as fluidly as I possibly could.
Martial skills were skills that became possible to use when the body remembered the exact sensations.
It didn’t come easily to martial artists who weren’t quite ready to learn that certain skill.
Simply put, in order to learn a martial skill, you had to train like hell.
After a while of training where I repeated the same movements numerous times, the underside of my belly tingled slightly.
That meant I was out of Qi.
I let out my last bit of Qi as if I was pooping out the last bit of shit.
I had only trained for a short amount of time, but my body was drenched in sweat. The lack of Qi was really holding me back.
In my head, I kept getting reminded of the demonic absorption skill.
This skill was the most comfortable as well as the fastest way to increase my Qi.
If I didn’t utilize this skill to absorb Qi, then there weren’t any other ways that I could think of or recall through which I could increase my Qi.
“I don’t want to go back to that shithole after I’ve just escaped it.”
It was still a skill owned by the Heavenly Demon, regardless of whether or not demonic Qi was being absorbed when I used it.
Absorbing Qi from only two demonic stones didn’t give me confidence that the skill was safe to use.
And my goal of not wanting to get involved with any more of them was a big factor.
‘Now is not the time… Not yet.’
This was a curse. If resurrection was a blessing, then this was a curse.
I had to at least make sure that it was safe before I started to use it.
How long has it been since I started training? I think it’s been around an hour.
When I stopped training and stopped my fire Qi along with it, the air around me felt rather cold.
I usually wouldn’t feel this cold because of my fire Qi, but I think that the sweat made me feel even colder than normal.
I went back to the camping area, requested for clean clothes, and then went to the lake.
As much as I wanted to just lay down after I’d eaten, I had to restrict myself in order to show my self-control as a child of a royal clan.
As soon as I was about to put my foot in the lake,
My head turned to the shrill sound of a scream.
It had come from the carriage.
I wondered about what might have happened as I quickly ran over to where the carriage was.
Did some sort of bandit group ambush us? I thought they had all vanished after the demon gate appeared in the world.
When I arrived at the carriage, a servant was standing in fear while looking at it.
“What’s the matter?”
Other escorts were also there, along with Muyeon.
“Uh… I saw something move inside the carriage.”
The servant’s voice trembled in fear.
“Inside the carriage?”
Did some beast barge in after smelling the food inside?
Hopefully, it was an animal that we can cook and eat.
An escort quickly brought over a torch to brighten up the inside of the carriage.
Then something inside the carriage moved.
It didn’t look like any kind of beast, so the escort drew his sword.
And what was inside the carriage was,
It was none other than Wi Seol-Ah who had a carrot in her mouth.
I couldn’t let out a word after looking at what just happened.
…What suddenly brings you here, again?
‘…Sigh, my life.’
Such a fucked up event happening now gave me my first headache in a long while.
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