༺ The Great Demon (5) ༻
Following the impact, Ya Hyeoljeok found himself pushed back.
After managing to stop, Ya Hyeoljeok angrily swung his sword.
The sword that had been filled with a ton of Qi released a sword wave towards me.
And I, who the hit had been meant for, dodged it with fluid movements.
A light backstep, and a leap.
Ya Hyeoljeok, meanwhile, continued to relentlessly swing his sword.
The speed of his attacks were not slow due to his muscles and the fact that he was a martial artist who had already reached the peak level,
But even so, Ya Hyeoljeok’s attacks only hit empty space.
And eventually, I once again dug into his stomach with my fist.
Even with his muscles, my fist dug deep into his stomach…
And lit it on fire.
Ya Hyeoljeok tried to quickly push me away due to the unexpected pain,
But I had already distanced myself from him.
Ya Hyeoljeok gasped.
“…You little shit…”
Ya Hyeoljeok seemed like he was in great pain, judging by the fact that he was grabbing onto his belly.
“I heard that you were from Gu, so why involve yourself here?!”
I didn’t respond verbally to Ya Hyeoljeok’s question.
My flames were my response, and they surged everywhere as I channeled my destructive flame arts.
Ya Hyeoljeok tried to block the flames by swinging his sword, but he couldn’t block all of them.
The flames raged indiscriminately, engulfing the whole area as if it wanted to leave nothing here alive.
And in between those flames, I saw an opening.
I reached my arm out through a gap in the engulfing flames and grabbed Ya Hyeoljeok’s neck.
And then I engulfed my hand in flames, intending to burn his head in it.
But Ya Hyeoljeok reacted quickly and with a burst of qi, broke my hold and created some distance between us.
On creating the gap, Ya Hyeoljeok rubbed his neck with his hand because of the burning sensation he felt.
Because I had stayed in the middle of flames for so long, my body was now smoking.
‘…I missed it.’
I heard Elder Shin urgently repeating those words in my head. But…
‘I am calm.’
｢I can feel how angry you are on the inside, so what do you mean by calm?!｣
I could’ve sworn that I was still calm.
I was just disappointed.
I could still feel the sensation of his neck in my hand.
I should’ve burned him there,
But it seemed like he had more to offer than I’d thought.
That was the name of the man warily observing me with a greatsword in hand.
I knew who he was.
He was a man who belonged in one of the armies of the Heavenly Demon, a co-leader to be precise.
A demonic human who had had one of his eyes and his mouth covered with an eye-patch and a mask.
Unlike the growling appearance like he was currently showing, however, in my memories he was a man that seemed like a corpse that simply followed his master’s commands.
He seemed a lot different now to what I remembered.
‘He was from the Black Palace…?’
I had never really cared about the demonic human’s pasts.
Because I’d been busy with my own life and wasn’t interested in others.
I shook my hand.
When I glanced at the spot Namgung Bi-Ah had been laying at, I saw that she had already ― thankfully ― run away, as I couldn’t see her.
When I’d first got here, I saw Namgung Bi-Ah was on the ground.
And that image had reminded me of the last moments I’d had with the Demonic Sword.
I was forced to remember that memory… the memory of me holding her in my arms, unable to do anything as her last breath slipped away.
And… if I had come just a little later, then I might have had to relive that memory.
As if responding to my emotions, my Qi surged wildly and the blaze that surrounded my body grew larger and fiercer in tandem.
I took a step towards Ya Hyeoljeok and revolved my destructive flame arts at great speeds.
Strength flowed into my feet as I rushed forward, and my flames blazed indiscriminately following my movements.
The greatsword being swung by Ya Hyeoljeok was fast.
Because he was a peak level martial artist who had properly built up his muscles, he could swing the heavy sword at great speeds.
To match that I increased my speeds by empowering my body with my qi,
And then blocked his vision with flames.
Ya Hyeoljeok continued to swing his sword, thinking that flames wouldn’t be enough to stop him,
But his poor movements with his sword gave me many openings.
And… even if there were no openings, I just had to make some.
A light cut appeared on my body as I moved…
But I could give him that much.
Since it was hard for me to break his arm or legs due to the heavy muscles, I focused my attacks on one area.
His sword brushed my clothes,
But as a result, his flank was left open, and I struck it with a flaming fist.
Ya Hyeoljeok wobbled heavily.
Not missing that, I kicked his leg to trip him.
With a thud, he dropped down to one knee.
He tried to push me away with his arm, but my fist came first.
His thick neck twisted.
I didn’t stop, however, and struck once more.
After being hit twice, Ya Hyeoljeok’s eyes turned a dangerous shade of red.
And in a last ditch effort to gain distance, he released his Qi once again.
Following the release of his Qi wave, my body was pushed away.
There wasn’t any damage done, however, as it had only been done to gain some breathing room.
I brushed the dust off my body and returned my gaze to Ya Hyeoljeok.
I was asking about my qi.
Elder Shin didn’t respond.
Because of how recklessly I’d been using my qi, it seemed like I didn’t have much left.
* * * *
After Ya Hyeoljeok got back to his feet, he spat something out.
It was a tooth, and accompanying it was the blood that had accumulated in his mouth.
Ya Hyeoljeok, currently feeling like his pride had been trampled upon, was thoroughly infuriated.
He had been beaten down by a mere kid.
The Great Oni, Ya Hyeoljeok himself.
‘…What kind of bullshit is this?!’
He clenched his teeth so hard that a grinding sound echoed out.
And then he grabbed the hilt of his sword.
He knew he didn’t have much time left, but even so, he wanted the kid in front of him dead, no matter the cost.
The Immortal Healer or the Namgung girl? Neither of them mattered to him any longer.
Ya Hyeoljeok focused his Qi into his feet and then leaped, charging straight at the kid.
* * * *
When I saw him charging at me, I engulfed my body in flames once again.
I felt a sudden pain in my abdomen, but I ignored it.
For some reason, I suddenly felt out of place, as if there was a fog in my head.
But I couldn’t pay attention to that yet, I had to focus on breaking the thing that was charging at me first.
I pushed away the sword that was aiming at my head with flames.
And when he slowed down, I went for his solar plexus.
It seemed like punch dug in deep, as I felt the sensation of bones breaking.
Ya Hyeoljeok vomited out blood afterwards.
He tried to grab me with his huge hands, so I struck again and pushed him away.
The flames that surrounded the area were gradually becoming wilder.
And along with it, the pain I felt in my abdomen was increasing.
The pain I was feeling right now was similar to the pain I had felt back when I was making my way to Mount Hua.
Back then, I hadn’t even been able to breathe and had fainted, but at the moment, I found that I could still freely move my body.
I wondered what the difference was.
I didn’t know, but I took it as a good thing;
As I currently had no problems moving my body.
My eyes slightly widened after hearing the voice that came from within my head.
For a second I thought it was Elder Shin who had been quiet for a while now.
Since the only person that should have been able to talk in my head was Elder Shin.
But it wasn’t Elder Shin.
It sounded like a child, but at the same time, sounded like an old man who had lived a long life.
The pain I’d been feeling from every inch of my body disappeared the instant the voice appeared.
The voice was soft.
I wanted to ask who it was, but I couldn’t. Because…
I blacked out.
* * *
Namgung Bi-Ah had hidden herself away, and was currently leaning on a tree.
She couldn’t move because of the mark draining her energy, one of her arms was broken, and she had no Qi left in her.
But even then…
‘…I have to go help him…’
To Namgung Bi-Ah, Gu Yangcheon was strong.
She saw how he’d beaten her little brother with ease, and had also seen how easily he’d beaten that Yung Pung guy.
So she knew that he might even be stronger than her.
No, she was certain that he was.
But this was a different story.
Judging by the stench she smelled from the giant and the ominous aura he put out, he wasn’t someone who Gu Yangcheon could beat.
They had to wait until they got reinforcements from Mount Hua.
― Slam! Slam!
It seemed like they were still battling because the sound of something being smashed didn’t stop.
It wasn’t really all that long, but to Namgung Bi-Ah, it felt like an eternity.
After finally being able to move, she went there and,
Namgung Bi-Ah wobbled after perceiving a disgusting smell.
Did this smell come from that giant?
She wondered, because the stench hadn’t been this bad before.
‘…This is too much.’
It was the first time that Namgung Bi-Ah had ever perceived a smell this bad.
The smell was enough to make her nauseous.
Namgung Bi-Ah, limping, finally arrived at the location of the fight.
And the sight she was greeted with on arrival was unbelievable.
She didn’t know what had happened, but the surroundings had been destroyed so badly that it seemed like demons had rampaged in it.
And in the middle of the area, was Gu Yangcheon.
Whilst straddling Ya Hyeoljeok’s chest, Gu Yangcheon could be seen, striking down at him repeatedly with his fists.
With each strike, blood spurted everywhere.
His face had already been destroyed to the point of no return.
‘The… the stench.’
The stench that came from the giant had dissipated a long time ago.
Because a dead person didn’t smell.
But, that meant the stench that filled the area was coming from…
Gu Yangcheon stopped his fist after hearing Namgung Bi-Ah’s voice.
He then slowly turned his head and looked at Namgung Bi-Ah.
When Namgung Bi-Ah and Gu Yangcheon’s eyes met, Namgung Bi-Ah silently screamed.
Because Gu Yangcheon’s eyes had morphed into a haunting purple color.
It was a beautiful color, but Namgung Bi-Ah felt chills appear all over her body the instant she saw them.
Those eyes felt extremely ominous to her.
Gu Yangcheon stared at Namgung Bi-Ah for a moment, and then went back to striking with his fist.
Striking the man that was already dead.
Namgung Bi-Ah, witnessing the sight before her, grabbed both her shaking shoulders to calm herself.
She didn’t know why she was feeling so much fear.
The brutal and violent sound echoed in her ears, and the persistent, sickening stench made her want to puke.
But Namgung Bi-Ah ignored her body that was shaking in fear and trudged towards Gu Yangcheon and grabbed hold of him.
She felt like she needed to.
She grabbed onto arm, but Gu Yangcheon kept trying to hit the giant, as if his mind was broken.
“Please! He’s… already…!”
Did he hear Namgung Bi-Ah?
Gu Yangcheon’s silent fists suddenly paused.
And then he collapsed.
Namgung Bi-Ah quickly hugged Gu Yangcheon’s falling figure with her shaking hands.
As if that was the starting point, the disgusting stench slowly started to go away.
And when Namgung Bi-Ah looked at the giant’s destroyed corpse, she had to hold in her vomit.
She couldn’t believe that such a thing had been done by a human’s hands.
Namgung Bi-Ah covered Gu Yangcheon’s hands with her shaky hands.
His hands were covered in blood, but she did it anyways.
Because she felt that if she didn’t do that, she wouldn’t be able to calm down.
After some time, the martial artists of Mount Hua arrived.
* * * *
In the cave of the branch manager of the Black Palace, Baechong was doing his best to calm himself down as he waited for Ya Hyeoljeok who still hadn’t returned.
It wasn’t because he wanted to see him, or that he was worried about him.
‘I have to take the medicine soon…’
Only the branch manager had possession of the medicine that could shut down the seal inside Baechong.
It would soon be the end of the fourth day, and so Baechong was desperate.
The sun would soon set, and if Ya Hyeoljeok didn’t return by then, Baechong knew that he would die.
While anxiously waiting for him, Baechong suddenly felt a presence at the entrance of the cave.
Excited, he immediately ran towards it.
The sound of the footfalls was quieter than usual for some reason, but Baechong couldn’t be bothered about that.
Someone came in after the door opened.
“Lord Branch Manag–”
Baechong quickly pulled out his sword.
It wasn’t his branch manager.
‘An old man…?’
It was an old man with a small figure.
The old man slowly looked around the room.
“You… who are you?”
“…It seems like this is the place.”
“I asked who you-”
He couldn’t finish his sentence.
Because Baechong suddenly felt his vision shift… all of a sudden, he was looking at the ground.
The head that had been shouting at the old man had been sliced off and was now rolling on the floor.
The old man wasn’t holding a sword.
And yet Baechong had lost his head to the ‘sword’ the old man was holding.
The old man’s name was Wi Hyogun.
The Sword Emperor had come here because of the Celestial Plum Blossom’s request.
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