༺ The Great Demon (2) ༻
Ya Hyeoljeok read through the letters Baechong had delivered, one by one.
Baechong knew that Ya Hyeoljeok hated reading, so he’d put a summary of everything in the last letter.
And Ya Hyeoljeok, who knew that he would do that for him, simply skimmed through the letters, only paying real attention to the last letter.
Ya Hyeoljeok, after reading it, threw that letter next to Baechong.
“A kid from the Gu Clan?”
“Isn’t the Gu Clan the clan of that bastard?”
“Yes sir, the Gu Clan of Shanxi, is led by the Tiger Warrior.”
“Get out of here with that Tiger Warrior bullshit…”
Ya Hyeoljeok wondered who it was that could’ve killed his subordinates with fire, and had now found out that it was a blood relative of Gu Clan.
It made sense to him, as not many people used flame arts.
Ya Hyeoljeok smiled as he recalled that name.
Gu Cheolun was called the Tiger Warrior in the Orthodox Faction, but he was known by a different name by the members of the Unorthodox Faction.
The Flaming Demon.
A brutal martial artist that burnt his opponents alive with fire.
If you gathered every member of the Unorthodox Faction that had fallen to his flames, you would probably get a small mountain out of the corpses.
“And you’re certain?”
“…Yes sir, I confirmed that he visited the Mount Hua Sect as a guest.”
“Mount Hua Sect huh, what business does a guy from the Gu Clan have there?”
It was a very long trip to go from Shanxi to Mount Hua, located in Huayin of Shaanxi province, so it was confusing, trying to deduce why the child of Gu Cheolun had come all the way to Shaanxi.
“I believe there is another person in Mount Hua who also has blood ties to the Gu Clan, so it’s likely because of that.”
Ya Hyeoljeok thought he’d heard something like that before but forgot about it since it wasn’t really important to him.
“Do you have any plans to capture him?”
Baechong couldn’t answer Ya Hyeoljeok’s question.
It was a very reckless thing to capture a blood relative of the Gu Clan.
Capturing the people of the Mount Hua Sect was already hard enough and they had to be very systematic for their plan to work,
But that plan could no longer be continued now that a child of the Gu Clan was in Mount Hua.
‘…Fuck, why did it have to be a noble clan?’
It was thanks to them being a noble clan that Baechong had been able to get information on them so easily, but them being a noble clan also made it a lot harder to get rid of them.
If a direct descendant of the Gu Clan was slain recklessly without the backing of a good plan,
‘…Gu Cheolun may take action himself.’
That was why they had been very systematic in the first place with their plans to capture the people of Mount Hua; they had to ensure that their tails weren’t caught.
Of course, they had also been ordered by the main palace to do so, but the Gu Clan was a whole different ball-game.
‘What do I do…?’
Baechong gulped down his saliva.
He had to find a way.
Because if he couldn’t, he knew that the pig monster that was in front of him might just slice his neck off.
Ya Hyeoljeok looked at Baechong as his laughter echoed throughout the cave.
“I was just joking, so don’t look so sad.”
He then continued to laugh after uttering those words.
Baechong clenched his fist because of the fact that Ya Hyeoljeok forgot about how he had already sliced one of his arms off.
Baechong thought to himself.
“Putting aside the guy from the Gu Clan, what about the Immortal Healer?”
“There is no assurance in this letter. You just wrote that he might be residing in the hut, Baechong.”
“After looking at the fact that the Immortal Healer came to Shaanxi as well as observing his traces, I believed that he was residing inside Mount Hua.”
“Looking at the most recent location he was in, I found out that he purposely erased the traces he’d left… which made me believe that he was residing in the barrier that was set up by the Celestial Plum Blossom.”
The order that came from the main palace was to capture the Immortal Healer that was in Shaanxi, and to keep him imprisoned in the basement.
So Baechong ran around everywhere, gathering all the information he could get, and came to the conclusion that the only place the Immortal Healer could be at the moment, was the place where he’d last seen the child of Gu.
“But that’s just your guess, Baechong.”
Baechong shut his mouth at Ya Hyeoljeok’s words.
As Ya Hyeoljeok said, Baechong wasn’t certain.
“Are you even sure that the Celestial Plum Blossom was the one that put up that barrier?”
“…I came to the conclusion that the Celestial Plum Blossom was the only one in the entirety of Shaanxi that was capable of putting up such a barrier.”
“That’s also just your guess, you useless shit.”
Three days was too little time for Baechong to get concrete information, however, he knew that the area near the barrier was a spot in which a hut had been built by the former Lord of the Mount Hua Sect.
So it only made sense to him that the Celestial Plum Blossom was the one that put up a barrier of that magnitude so close to the area in question.
“Yes, Lord Branch Manager…”
“You know that if you get this wrong, you die, right?”
“…Yes, I do.”
Baechong knew that he would die anyways if he didn’t get any information in 4 days.
Because that was the sort of shitty personality Ya Hyeoljeok had.
“Hmm… Sending underlings won’t achieve anything, so I should go there myself, right?”
“I don’t get it… there is not even one guard there standing to watch?”
“At least, that’s what I saw…”
Ya Hyeoljeok wondered why there were no guards near the barrier, because, if the Immortal Healer was truly inside the barrier then it only made sense for guards to be stationed near the area.
Ya Hyeoljeok wondered if the Celestial Plum Blossom was simply overconfident in his power,
Perhaps he believes that no one can break the barrier no matter what.
Regardless, it was true that martial artists at Baechong’s level wouldn’t be capable of breaking the barrier.
So, in the end, the only person that was capable of that feat was Ya Hyeoljeok himself.
On coming to this conclusion, Ya Hyeoljeok slowly rose to his feet and picked up his giant sword.
An aura filled with danger and lethality spread throughout the nearby areas instantly.
However, unlike the violent aura he was putting out, Ya Hyeoljeok’s expression seemed rather uninterested.
He didn’t like complicated things.
If he didn’t know what to do, he would just smash it to find out.
That was how Ya Hyeoljeok operated.
Baechong, after seeing his branch master’s movements, spoke carefully.
“The Celestial Plum Blossom might move right away… as soon as you break the barrier, lord.”
Ya Hyeoljeok frowned immediately after hearing those words.
“Fuck, what are you explaining more for? I just have to break through the barrier and capture that old man. Or do you think I’m incapable of understanding that? Or are you trying to order me around?”
“Not at all, my Lord!”
Ya Hyeoljeok ate the last bite of a scorpion and then turned to Baechong.
“Tell the underlings to keep watch on those guys from the Gu Clan.”
“Huh…? What are you trying to…?”
“We can’t work here if we are scared of that little flaming tiger who isn’t even a Heavenly Venerable.”
Ya Hyeoljeok started laughing immediately afterward, as if he had found something funny.
After his laughter had died down, he suddenly switched to a serious expression and leveled a stare at Baechong.
Baechong shook in fear on seeing the darkness in his eyes.
“If I go there and there is nothing at that place, you know what’ll happen Baechong… right?”
“…Yes, my Lord.”
Ya Hyeoljeok tapped Baechong’s shoulder with his huge hand and made his way out of the cave with his giant sword.
The moment he left, Baechong’s legs gave out under him and he collapsed to the ground.
He had to find a way to survive no matter what it took.
* * * *
Gu Ryunghwa had fallen asleep after swinging her sword till midnight, and when she woke up, it was already sunrise.
She felt like she hadn’t gotten much sleep because she noticed that she was still tired, but she got up without hesitation.
As she tried to rise whilst using her hand as support, Gu Ryunghwa felt an ache run through the limb.
Because she’d continued to swing her sword the previous day, neglecting her wound, her hand had dried blood on it now.
She carefully washed her hand with water and wrapped a new cloth around her hand.
The process was extremely painful, but Gu Ryunghwa persevered through the pain.
After she was done wrapping her hand, she changed clothes.
She was staying in the hut that her master had resided in before going to the Immortal Healer, so there were thankfully some clothes that she could change into.
After changing into new clothes, she washed her face and went out the door.
Gu Ryunghwa was able to happily make her way down because she had been waiting for this day.
When she got down from the mountain, she saw the students of the Mount Hua Sect training vigorously.
She watched them for a bit and then secretively made her way past them.
She didn’t want to involve herself with the disciples.
A sentiment that they very likely shared.
While she walked, she saw the place Gu Yangcheon was staying in.
Gu Ryunghwa considered going there for a second because of Namgung Bi-ah.
But decided against it in the end.
She was thankful that she had helped her, but she also thought that they weren’t that close yet.
After looking at the lodge for a few seconds, she continued to walk.
Walking down the streets of Huayin City took no time at all.
And as she walked through the crowded street, the scent of delicious foods kept halting her journey.
It was because she’d barely eaten anything for the past few days.
Due to the overwhelming hunger from her training-induced starvation, she eventually caved in and stopped by a store to buy herself a few skewers.
She remembered that she would usually eat them with her master in the past.
‘…Can she still eat this?’
She’d bought them because she was hungry, but now a memory of her master had popped into her head.
She knew that her master could only eat porridge, and also knew that bringing her skewers might be more harmful than good.
She regretted buying the skewers now that she’d been reminded of her ailment.
She felt like she still hadn’t matured yet.
Because of all the thoughts that came into her mind, even though she was still hungry, she had lost all her appetite to eat anything.
So in the end, she gave the skewer to some random child on the streets.
She felt bad about the money she’d spent but thought that it’d be better to just give it away since she didn’t want to eat it, nor actually throw it away.
‘…I want to eat with her.’
Instead of eating something delicious by herself, she would rather be happy eating porridge with her master.
Gu Ryunghwa with that thought, ran for a long time.
She was tired but felt energetic at the thought of seeing her master.
As she got closer to her, she felt like the complicated thoughts in her mind were starting to wash away.
‘A little faster!’
She had lots to say about what had happened in just the past few days to her master.
About how she’d dueled with Namgung Bi-ah, how she had helped her get better, and… how Gu Yangcheon had come to save her.
Gu Ryunghwa thought that maybe her master might put on a smile when she told her these stories.
After running for a long time, she finally saw the hut.
There was some smoke coming out of the hut, so it seemed like the grandchild of the Immortal Healer was cooking at the moment.
Gu Ryunghwa with a smile, was about to continue her run towards the hut, but someone suddenly pulled her by grabbing onto her shoulder.
Gu Ryunghwa screamed while she wobbled but felt something brush past her hair.
Whatever it was that had brushed past her, she didn’t know, but Gu Ryunghwa noticed strands of her hair falling off after.
As she fell to the ground whilst shivering, she saw the person who had grabbed onto her shoulder.
The person that was next to her with a serious face was Namgung Bi-ah.
“Why is sis here-”
Gu Ryunghwa felt shock after seeing Namgung Bi-ah who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
And noticing Namgung Bi-ah’s shaky eyes as well as the sweat flowing down her cheeks only made Gu Ryunghwa feel nervous.
Where is she looking?
Namgung Bi-ah looked like she was looking toward the forest.
Gu Ryunghwa, after turning her gaze in that same direction, started to shake after getting sudden chills.
– Hm, how did she dodge it?
A voice came from the forest.
And accompanying it, a dense, nasty aura filled with death could be felt, and it left Gu Ryunghwa shaking in fear.
-…Hm, I didn’t expect this.
The voice that originated from the forest was getting closer.
Gu Ryunghwa felt like it was getting harder and harder to breathe as the nasty presence closed in on them.
Namgung Bi-ah who had been grabbing her shoulder suddenly pulled out her sword and swung it against the air.
And the sound of something clashing came from the direction she swung towards.
Was that really the sound of a sword slash clashing with something?
Gu Ryunghwa stopped after calling Namgung Bi-ah,
She could see the hand with which Namgung Bi-ah wielded her sword ─ it was shaking.
With the sound of someone dropping something really heavy, someone appeared from the bushes.
He looked to be over 8ft tall and had a massive figure.
And he was holding a giant chunk of steel that she wondered if one could even call a sword.
And as the overpowering presence that rolled off the massive man blanketed the area, Gu Ryunghwa turned paler and paler.
“You blocked it, not even dodging it? Woah, this one’s a fun one.”
The man who spoke with a seemingly entertained tone, felt like he was filled with greed and nasty desires.
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