༺ A Bit of a Scratch (3) ༻
The unruly flames that had seemingly devoured the entire forest slowly went away along with the wind.
In just one hand movement, the flames that had been busy burning down the forest were absorbed back into my body.
When the raucous flames were fully absorbed back into my body, I felt a little bit of my Qi getting recharged.
I heaved a sigh after retracting all of my Qi back into my body and saw hot steam leaking out of my mouth.
How much did I use just now? I felt like I had used up a fair bit there.
｢Well at least you know.｣
Elder Shin, who had spoken just now, sounded a bit exhausted.
｢Do you even know how hard it is to calm that fucking thing down when it’s trying its best to destroy everything around it?｣
“Was it really that dangerous?”
｢If you had used even a little bit more of your Qi, then I probably wouldn’t have been able to stop it any longer.｣
“It was that close, huh…”
I was able to realize that fact once I looked at the sight of the burnt corpses.
As I had not held back just then, there was literally no corpse that wasn’t severely damaged by the flames.
The forest, permeating with a refreshing and cool breeze, was now filled with the overwhelming smell of burning.
As I cleaned my uniform with my hands, I thought…
‘First time huh.’
This was the first time I had killed someone after my regression.
It was a very strange feeling for me.
But I didn’t think too deeply about it.
It wasn’t like I had promised myself that I would never kill anyone just ‘cause I resurrected, right?
They were people that were members of the Black Palace, one of the forces of the Unorthodox Faction, and were people that were after my little sister.
‘But then why is my heart beating so fast right now?’
I belatedly noticed that my hands were shaking along with my harshly beating heart.
Are my mind and body contradicting themselves right now?
‘I shouldn’t think too much about it.
It had happened in my previous life as well and it got better with time.
So I just had to ignore it till it did.
｢What are you going to do with the one that ran away?｣
The guy that seemed like the leader of this ragtag group ran away, in the end, and I looked in the direction he ran away towards.
At first, I had made up my mind to catch him and kill him like everyone else but I had to change my mind after noticing the slight traces of Demonic Qi that was inside of him.
I felt like it would be better to keep him alive so that I could get more information out of him.
It was very slight, but the Qi that he possessed was definitely Demonic Qi.
‘How did the guys from the Black Palace get their hands on Demonic Qi?’
Do they already have some sort of relationship with the Demonic Cult? There is no way that’s possible though.
There were still a few years left until the Heavenly Demon and the Demonic Cult appeared in this world.
‘Was it even Demonic Qi in the first place?’
I wasn’t really certain as I had mostly forgotten the sensation of Demonic Qi… Moreover, it felt a bit too weak to be labeled as Demonic Qi.
Which made me regret more and more that I wasn’t able to catch him just now.
“He was faster than I expected.”
I should have burned his legs and not his arm back then.
It had been so long since I had a real fight like that… My head’s not acting as I want it to in this situation…
I knew that even the slightest mistake would be enough to have my head chopped off by their weapons, but still, for me to make a mistake like this,
Perhaps I had already become too weak-minded because of the current situation of peace the world was in.
“…And how should I clean up all of this?”
My head started to ache and throb after looking at the corpses that were strewn about everywhere on the forest ground.
If I was stronger, I could have just burned them all into ashes…
And I became more and more pissed when I saw the guy I had killed by twisting his neck.
I should have started killing him by burning his internal organs from the inside out first, but I kinda gave him a painless death… He didn’t deserve a painless death…
The fact that he had such nasty thoughts toward a literal child that could barely reach his waste was already enough for me to want to torture him like no tomorrow…
And the fact that the kid he was having those thoughts toward was Gu Ryunghwa further strengthened my murderous desires and simultaneously pissed me off further as I had not been able to have my way with him.
｢It looked like you treat her like shit, but you do care about your sister after all.｣
｢Not necessarily my ass, at least, say that after fixing your expressions first.｣
I had to discuss this matter with the Celestial Plum Blossom first.
One thing that made me worried was how he would take this information, considering this was murder and he was a Taoist before he was a martial artist.
Then Elder Shin suddenly spoke out loud which made me ponder.
｢You just killed people that deserved to be killed, so I don’t think you should be thinking too much about it.｣
A Taoist before being a martial artist.
A martial artist before being a Taoist.
Elder Shin experienced a huge disaster of the world, the Blood Demon War, so it sounded like he didn’t find this scene very shocking.
But on the contrary, I didn’t know how the Celestial Plum Blossom would react to this information in the current peaceful world.
｢I already knew that you had a lot of secrets, though what you did just now was still a bit surprising.｣
I smiled bitterly at Elder Shin’s words. I knew that he was trying to be considerate of me by saying that.
The appearance of the Black Palace and that Demonic Qi…
“I wonder why those guys were lingering around this area.”
It didn’t seem like their main goal was Gu Ryunghwa…
Weren’t Yung Pung and others of the Mount Hua Sect scouting the areas for the disappearance of their people?
Does this relate to that?
‘I feel like I would be involved in some hassle at this rate.’
For starters, I got rid of the heat from the surroundings and then moved all the corpses over to one spot.
I knew that I’d run into a problem if I were to try to hide them far away.
I just had to discuss this problem with the Celestial Plum Blossom after I got back to clear things out on my end.
I briefly cleaned the area and then moved toward the hut.
It seemed like those guys weren’t able to go through the barrier,
But I was able to go through it without any problems.
There was not a single feeling of resistance throughout,
Which made my entry into the area very smooth.
What was the difference between us?
My curiosity was soon answered by Elder Shin’s words.
｢It’s because of the Qi of the Mount Hua Sect that you have inside your body.｣
‘…You’re telling me it’s because of me absorbing the treasure’s power?’
｢It seems to be the most likely case to me, yes.｣
A barrier is able to have the ability to detect that?
That made me once again realize the true power that the Celestial Plum Blossom held.
As I got closer to the hut, I was able to smell something delicious wafting out.
Were they preparing a meal?
When I went closer to the hut, I saw Gu Ryunghwa working hard and moving around outside the hut.
“What are you doing here?”
She turned toward me after hearing my words.
And instantly frowned, looking displeased.
“Why did you come back?”
“The sect leader asked me to deliver something.”
Her reaction told me that it was pretty weird for me to do an errand for the leader.
Yes, I find it extraordinary too.
For him to task me with something like this just because of one yakgwa.
I soon noticed Zhuge Hyuk chopping something from behind.
When our eyes met, he slightly lowered his head, which I assumed was a form of him greeting me.
“…What’s he doing?”
“Can’t you tell? He’s cooking.”
“He can cook?”
Was something I probably shouldn’t have asked judging by the way he was chopping down that onion.
“…He’s better than I expected.”
Was what she said with a tone that seemed to be saying that her pride was hurt just by uttering that sentence.
What’s up with her?
“Where is the Immortal Healer?”
“In the hut… taking care of master.”
I tried to enter the hut after hearing her words, but Gu Ryunghwa suddenly grabbed my clothes very firmly with her hands.
“Woah… What’s up with your hand?”
I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I looked at my hand and noticed a small wound there.
I thought I had dodged everything, but it seemed like something still managed to scratch me?
I didn’t really care much about it though as it was just a small scratch.
Suddenly, I was forced to think after looking at my sister’s face.
What would have happened if I wasn’t here today?
I don’t think anything big would’ve happened, to be honest.
As it didn’t seem like they were particularly strong enough to break through the barrier outside.
Still, it didn’t make my mood any better though. Nor did it change my attitude about those fuckers…
And my impatience and shitty temper only forced me to take out the anger I had been feeling on them by annihilating all of them with my flame arts.
That’s for the better.
I pulled my sleeves away from Gu Ryunghwa’s hand and spoke.
“I just got a bit of a scratch.”
Her face instantly morphed into a suspicious expression at those words, but she didn’t have anything to use to interrogate me further.
“Stop worrying about me and keep doing whatever you were doing.”
“Who said I was worried…!”
I ignored Gu Ryunghwa’s shouting and slightly knocked on the door.
– Knock Knock
– Who is it?
Immediately, I was able to hear the Immortal Healer’s voice, coming out of the hut.
“It’s Gu Yangcheon from a few days ago.”
– Who— Oh…
The door of the hut opened soon after.
The Immortal Healer was wearing the same uniform he had worn the last time I visited this place.
He was making a sour face as soon as he saw me, so it seemed like he didn’t feel good about my arrival.
“What brings you here?”
“The Celestial Plum Blossom ordered me to deliver this to you.”
When the Immortal took out the letter from Celestial Plum Blossom, his expression frowned gradually.
It was as if I was watching the process of water boiling into higher temperatures.
…Now that I think about it, he sent me because he was scared to do this himself, huh?
‘…I wouldn’t put it past him.’
The Immortal Healer couldn’t take out his anger on me, so he could only make a tsk noise and put the letter in his pocket.
“Dohwa, that piece of shit, he’s definitely gonna go to hell.”
How could he say words like that about the leader of the clan…
Anyways, now that I was done delivering the letter to him, I was planning to go back.
“Where are you going?”
But surprisingly, the Immortal Healer stopped me from leaving.
Why is he stopping me when he looked like he was ready to kick me out at any second?
Then I was reminded of the scratch that Gu Ryunghwa had pointed out on my way here.
Did he stop me because of that?
“…This is, just a small scratch…”
“Small scratch my ass, you’re really going to lie to a doctor now?”
“No, really, it’s a scratch that would heal if I just spat some saliva on it so I’m really fine.”
“What kind of a crazy fucker spits on a wound! This is why I hate guys that have nothing but martial arts in their brains…”
“Don’t make an old man use his strength and come in when I’m asking you to.”
I was actually worried that if I harshly hit the Immortal Healer’s hand, that was grabbing my arm, then it would shatter into pieces, so I was unable to use my strength recklessly.
Because of that, I was forced to go inside the hut.
* * * *
In the Black Palace, inside the room of the branch manager,
– Thump—! Thump—!
Baechong was repeatedly slamming his head over a bloody puddle in the hard ground of the hall.
Opposite to him, Ya Hyeoljeok just kept staring at him with a blank gaze.
Five men that were sent alongside Baechong were killed, and Baechong who had managed to get back was now incapable of using his left arm.
Ya Hyeoljeok couldn’t help but ask Baechong.
“So, who is it again?”
“…I’m afraid I don’t know… It was a new face.”
“A new face? Hm, I see.”
Along with Ya Hyeoljeok’s words, the air in the cave was pressured down onto him which made Baechong cough up blood.
“So you’re telling me that everyone died to some random guy, and you were the only one that returned alive?”
“Fuuuck! Are you being serious here!?”
Ya Hyeoljeok swung his giant sword which instantly cut off Baechong’s disabled arm.
“Hey, you piece of shit, you think I sent you along with the others for something like this to happen?”
“I thought that if I included a smart looking one in the group, everything will go smoothly, but who could have thought that you would come back like this and I would have to be disappointed by a piece of shit like you?”
“…I’…m… Sorry… Branch manager…”
Ya Hyeoljeok spat next to Baechong.
They were already short on members in their branch, and most of the guys that were sent out to scout were now killed.
To some random child at that…
Baechong had told Ya Hyeoljeok that this random child was a flame arts user.
There weren’t many martial artists that used the flame arts and as far as Ya Hyeoljeok knew, one needed immense training to just be able to summon the flames.
Where did such a monster pop up from?
It was even worse that he was aware of their identity as members of the Black Palace.
Ya Hyeoljeok grabbed the shoulder that was cut off from Baechong and spoke to the shaking man.
“You want to live, right?”
“…Yes… Please, please give me one more chance, branch manager.”
“I intentionally cut off your injured arm, how nice of me, right?”
Baechong looked at the arm that was cut off from him by the giant bastard.
He was feeling infuriated on the inside, but all Baechong was able to do was to force a smile on his face.
“Y-Yes of course…! I thank you for your divine mercy.”
Ya Hyeoljeok then tapped Baeechong’s cheeks after speaking like that.
He wanted to slice his neck off and hang it on the walls, but there was no one else in this branch that was as smart as Baechong.
So he thought that maybe he should just completely disable him by cutting off both of his legs and only leaving him with the ability to speak.
But he was still a first-rate martial artist and just some value left in him that made it hard for Ya Hyeoljeok to do something like that.
“How many days do you need to get information?”
Baechong responded while trembling at Ya Hyeoljeok’s question.
“…I will get the information about him at the latest 4 days.”
“4 days huh… You’ll also come with information on Immortal Healer as well, yes?”
“…Yes! I’ll come back with everything.”
“I like your spirit, do a good job, yeah?”
Ya Hyeoljeok stood up and turned around, then took out something from his leather pocket and tossed it toward Baechong.
It was a marble made of Qi the size of a thumb.
“It’s 4 days’ worth.”
Baechong shuddered in fear after seeing that.
The martial artists that belonged to various branches of the Black Palace would eat something that served as a ‘seal’.
The seal that wiggled inside their body and would explode if they didn’t consume the necessary medicine in time.
Resulting in their internal organs melting and leading to their deaths.
Baechong clenched his teeth in anger and frustration.
Now he really needed to get all the information in just 4 days, no matter the cost.
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