The Heaven-Slaying Sword Chapter 37

Fifth Chapter - Dragon Phoenix Tournament (10)

༺ Fifth Chapter – Dragon Phoenix Tournament (10) ༻

 

  In the competitor’s waiting area, Mok Riwon sat cross-legged in the middle of a modestly sized room, lost in contemplation.

 

  The question that had plagued his mind since witnessing the match between Il-woon and Hyungong a week ago hadn’t left him for even a second.

  

  ‘Why did he harbor killing intent?’

  

  Why exactly did Hyungong harbor killing intent? Why did he let malice into his heart, which should have been filled with chivalry and righteousness?

  

  He could have easily dismissed him as a villain and labeled him someone who did not follow the principles of Wudang.

 

  However, Mok Riwon did not want to jump to conclusions that easily.

  

  –A chivalrous hero is one who constantly reflects.

  

  That was what his master, Mok Seon-oh, always said.

  

  ‘Is it a personal vendetta?’

  

  Did Hyungong harbor hatred towards Il-woon?

  

  ‘External pressure?’

  

  Was it a fight between Sects?

  

  ‘Or is it…’

  

  Just a love for killing?

  

  “…”

  

  Mok Riwon’s eyes opened. Within them was a deep shadow that felt eerily hollow.

  

  “I’ll know once I go there.”

  

  He uncrossed his legs and stood up.

 

  Even within the confines of the waiting area, the roar of the crowd echoed.

 

  And shaking off the ominous feeling rising in his heart, he stepped forward,

 

 

* * *

 

 

  Sword King Namgung Hyuk.

 

  He sat in the highest seat of the martial arts arena, speaking to the elderly woman seated next to him.

  

  “I thought you had no interest in such affairs.”

 

  “I am simply indulging in a little wanderlust. Getting older just seems to increase one’s curiosity, doesn’t it?”

  

  The old woman chuckled in response, her demeanor surprisingly gentle. This sparked curiosity among those guarding Namgung Hyuk.

  

  ‘Who is this old woman?’

  

  Suppose someone of Namgung Hyuk’s stature, who always valued hierarchy, allowed her to sit beside him. In that case, she must be a great master from the previous generation.

 

  However, none of the guards could recall such a kind old woman.

  

  What did it matter?

 

  Her identity was none other than Killing Star, Yeom So-so.

 

  A member of the Four Stars and Six Kings, and just like Namgung Hyuk, had made certain choices with him twenty years ago during the Bloodied History.

  

  “…Are you targeting the Ink Sword?”

 

  “I said I’m simply wandering. Are you the one targeting that boy, Sword King? Even with such a grandson at hand?”

 

  “Who knows.”

  

  Namgung Hyuk quietly observed the still-empty martial arts arena.

  

  Ink Sword, Mok Riwon.

 

  The rising star currently stirring up the martial world.

 

  Namgung Hyuk couldn’t deny the memories that surfaced upon hearing that name.

  

  –Are you the Sword Dragon?

  

  A confident, yet not arrogant man.

 

  A man who, even until the very end, he could never surpass.

 

  Namgung Hyuk found himself remembering the man who could no longer be called Sword Star.

  

  ‘If that Sword Star indeed raised that child to the end…’

  

  If the child he had taken in at the end of the Bloodied History had grown up safely, he would be about Mok Riwon’s age by now.

  

  So Namgung Hyuk wanted to confirm.

 

  Whether he truly was the child carrying on the Sword Star’s will.

  

  If so, had the child grown up like the man he had longed to surpass had intended?

 

  Had the Sword Star accomplished what he set out to do? 

 

  …And was he still alive?

  

  “…I, too, am here for entertainment.”

 

  “Keke, a killjoy as always.”

  

  The guards gasped and looked at Yeom So-so.

 

  Though she paid them no heed and fixed her gaze directly downwards.

 

  At that moment, two men were stepping onto the arena.

  

  ‘Hm, quite a pretty face.’

  

  Unlike Mok Seon-oh’s rugged face in his youth, Mok Riwon had a fair and beautiful visage.

 

  Yeom So-so found it amusingly ironic.

 

 

* * *

 

 

  The cheers intensified to a deafening crescendo, and the heat from the crowd of people dissipated into a humidity that clung to their skin.

 

  In the heart of that atmosphere was Mok Riwon glaring at Immortal Dragon Hyungong.

  

  “Please take care of me.”

  

  The man took on a fist-palm salute with a hollow smile, and Mok Riwon mirrored the gesture.

  

  “Why did you harbor killing intent?”

 

  “Pardon?”

 

  “Your match with Monk Il-woon. Do you understand what I’m asking?”

  

  Tremble–

  

  Hyungong flinched back momentarily.

 

  Upon seeing his reaction, Mok Riwon felt increasingly certain about his suspicion. However, the response he received was disappointing.

  

  “I’m not sure what you mean.”

  

  Hyungong just smiled.

 

  Mok Riwon observed him for a moment, then let go of his salute.

  

  “There’s no need for any further words, I understand.”

  

  The announcer stepped back and raised his hand.

 

  Mok Riwon’s hand was rested on the sword at his waist.

  

  He hadn’t received an answer, but he didn’t need to.

 

  Because he could feel it.

  

  As he asked that question, a sharp killing intent spread throughout his body.

 

  And that was all he needed to know.

  

  “There will be no talk of chivalry between us it seems.”

  

  The announcer’s hand dropped.

 

  At the same time, Mok Riwon bolted forward.

  

  Schwiiing–!

  

  The match had begun.

 

 

* * *

 

 

  In Shexian, whenever people discussed Ink Sword Mok RIwon, there was always one topic that became the subject of a heated debate.

  

  ‘What kind of swordsmanship does he practice?’

  

  It was an inevitable question.

  

  From the moment he participated in the Dragon Phoenix Tournament, he had never once revealed his technique for more than a second.

 

  Each match ended with a single, decisive strike that split his opponent’s sword in half.

  

  Someone said.

  

  –It’s the strong sword! Nothing else! The Ink Sword is a swordsman who overpowers his opponents with overwhelming strength!

  

  Another one said.

  

  –What strong sword?! That’s not it! He uses the heavy sword! How could a technique that splits a sword in two be solely about strength? Isn’t it a skill that requires knowing where exactly to place the weight and how much force to apply?!

 

  And there were those who denied both theories.

  

  –I believe the Ink Sword’s swordsmanship contains aesthetics similar to Wudang’s flow. Don’t you think? He never strikes first. Only after his opponent makes the first move does he draw his sword. Considering that, it seems appropriate to say that he redirects his opponent’s force to split the sword.

  

  There was nobody until today who could provide a definitive answer to those questions, and those who could only argue were finally able to witness his swordsmanship in its entirety.

  

  “The swift sword…”

  

  The principle of his sword had to embody the essence of the swift sword, unleashing rapid strikes in quick succession that overwhelmed his enemy.

  

  But those expectations didn’t last long.

 

  The next move he executed was too bizarre to be categorized as the swift sword.

 

  It undulated like a slithering snake, then darted like a startled bird, and at times, halted abruptly.

  

  “The phantom sword?”

  

  At least, that was how it looked to their eyes.

  

  The more discerning masters, those gathered here from the renowned families across the Central Plains, burst into derisive laughter and intently focused their attention on his technique.

  

  “No. It is neither.”

  

  They were individuals who had reached the realm of superhumans. They could visualize the natural qi of the world and see the flow within. That was why they knew.

  

  “…It’s irregular.”

  

  It was an irregularity. From a heavy sword to a strong sword, shaking it to scatter into a phantom sword, then stabbing with a swift sword. It was what all swordsmen of the martial world aspired to do, but none could quite achieve.

  

  “What kind of preposterous…”

  

  He was just recklessly flailing around, relying on the so-called blessing called talent.

  

  Someone from a prestigious clan murmured.

  

  “…Prepare for negotiations immediately.”

  

  Shortly after that command, several individuals from different affiliations discreetly left their seats.

  

  Incredible talent.

 

  In the martial world where power reigns supreme, such talent would originally attract envy and resentment, but not at this moment.

  

  Ink Sword Mok Riwon had no affiliation.

 

  In other words, his talent was available for the taking.

 

  This realization alone transformed him from a mere curiosity into a coveted treasure, a fortuitous encounter viewed through eyes filled with greed.

  

  Thus, the stagnant martial world began to move once again.

 

 

* * *

 

 

  Mok Riwon relentlessly pressed Hyungong. No matter what techniques he used, it was futile against the endless onslaught.

 

  He also crushed the killing intent Hyungong dared to show.

 

  At first, he hadn’t planned to go all out against his opponent but changed his mind for a singular reason.

  

  ‘That way of thinking is wrong.’

  

  He had judged that Immortal Dragon Hyungong’s mindset was wrong, but nonetheless hoped that he would understand the true meaning of chivalry.

  

  Ma Il-seok once said.

  

  –There’s nothing easier than for those from renowned clans and sects to stray onto the wrong path.

 

  –Why? They always grow up admiring chivalrous heroes, don’t they?

 

  –That’s why. They only know how to oppress, so they lose humility. Every generation has its rising stars who, drunk on their own arrogance, act more like those from the Unorthodox Path. Though our generation had someone to beat them into line.

 

  –Is it Master?

 

  –Indeed, like during the Azure Dragon Martial Arts Competition. One of those who faced Brother was that Sword King. Such an unpleasant fellow, but after being beaten down by him, he became somewhat more docile.

 

  –Beggar friend, you were no slouch yourself.

 

  –Ah, Brother! We agreed not to talk about that story!

 

  –Oh, my mistake.

  

  The rising stars from renowned clans were more likely to stray. The higher their position, the more susceptible they were to becoming complacent.

  

  –Won.

 

  –Yes!

 

  –One day, you will also meet those like the ones he talked about. When that time comes, can you show a little kindness and guide them back to the right path?

 

  –Yes! I’ll do that without fail!

 

  –Good. You truly are kind.

  

  For that reason, those who knew chivalry should correct them.

  

  Clang–!

  

  Hyungong’s sword was knocked aside. When Mok Riwon launched another attack, Hyungong held his breath and demonstrated the martial arts of Wudang.

  

  Tai Chi.

  

  This was the pinnacle of Wudang, encompassing the harmony of all creation within a circle and using it to execute the most elegant counterattack in the Central Plains.

  

  The force Mok Riwon had unleashed was then redirected back at himself.

 

  However, Mok Riwon easily evaded.

  

  Swish–

  

  As his sword pierced through the air, Mok Riwon flicked his wrist and deflected the blade.

  

  Ssssssh–

  

  A dark qi wave enveloped his sword; at the same time, a silver qi wave enveloped Hyungong’s sword.

  

  Their sword qi clashed against each other.

 

  The two combatants were evenly matched in terms of cultivation, so the battle could only be decided by who was more skilled at manipulating qi.

  

  “You must reflect.”

  

  Mok Riwon declared that as he swung his sword again.

 

  This time his movement was different; he employed an irregular fighting style and various stances so far, but now Mok Riwon took on a traditional stance for the first time.

  

  The basic form.

 

  It was the pinnacle of martial arts condensed into a single move the essence of the discipline transformed into a physical form.

  

  The qi wave, dark as ink, faintly shimmered. Though it appeared to be enshrouded in darkness, it possessed a distinct resonance that almost seemed to cast an illusion of light.

 

  Mok Riwon recalled his master’s teachings.

  

  ‘The Starfall Seven Swords replicates the movements of stars across seven different sword forms.’

  

  Mok Riwon drew his sword back as far as possible in a clear stance for thrusting.

 

  For a fleeting moment, Mok Riwon became as immovable as Mount Tai.

  

  –The first form is based on the Big Dipper. It represents the brightest star, as well as eternal stability. Our founder pierced the heavens seven times with this technique, perfecting this sword.

  

  Seven unyielding thrusts.

  

  The first form of the Starfall Seven Swords, the Big Dipper Sundering Sword.

  

  Thud–

  

  Mok Riwon firmly planted his foot.

 

  In the blink of an eye, his sword, moving as fast as a flash of light, targeted Hyungong’s shoulder.

 

  Hyungong wrapped his shoulder with qi, but his struggles were in vain.

  

  Crack–

  

  A horrific sound ensued as his left shoulder gave way. It wasn’t the sword that had made contact; rather, it was the surge of qi released with it that dislocated his shoulder.

  

  “Kuh…!”

  

  Hyungong’s eyes widened.

 

  Yet, Mok Riwon did not stop.

 

  He pressed on, aiming for Hyungong’s right shoulder, then his chest, heart, the right side of his waist, the knee that upheld his body, and finally his foot.

  

  As Hyungong’s posture faltered, Mok Riwon was on the verge of completing the sequence and readying for the final strike when…

  

  ‘…A smile?’

  

  He caught a glimpse of a smile on Hyungong’s face, hesitating for an instant at the incomprehensible reaction.

 

  In that fleeting moment, Mok Riwon stiffened.

  

  Clang–

  

  Hyungong’s sword fell to the ground.

  

  [Ink Sword! VICTORYYY!!!]

  

  The announcer’s shout echoed, followed by a roar of applause.

 

  And there lay Hyungong, collapsed.

 

  With a dumbfounded expression, Mok Riwon captured everything in his eyes and came to a realization.

  

  ‘Just now….’

  

  Hyungong had deliberately allowed himself to be overcome by his form. His sword falling at the last moment wasn’t due to him losing strength, but an intentional act.

  

  His smile implied something.

  

  ‘…Winning wasn’t his goal.’

  

  Hyungong had entered this match intending to lose from the start.

 

 

* * *

 

 

  Namgung Hyuk gripped the armrest of his chair so tightly it looked like it might break.

  

  “Did you know?”

 

  “Know what?”

  

  He glared fiercely at Yeom So-so, then created a qi barrier to block out the noise before resuming the conversation.

  

  “The Starfall Seven Swords. You didn’t think I would fail to recognize it, did you?”

  

  The anger in his eyes wasn’t directly towards Mok Riwon, but at the old woman in front of him.

  

  “I was well aware you were not the type to come to such a place without a reason from the start. So, did you enjoy belittling me?”

  

  She had known from the start.

 

  That the young man called the Ink Sword was the child of the Sword Star.

 

  The child from that day when the Bloodied History ended.

  

  Namgung Hyuk’s aura became even more menacing.

 

  The guards outside were oblivious, but Yeom So-so could clearly feel his inner qi surging.

  

  She chuckled and said.

  

  “How was it? That old geezer crafted something quite impressive, hasn’t he?”

 

  “…”

  

  Namgung Hyuk’s eyebrows furrowed.

 

  His attention soon shifted to Mok Riwon, who stood there dazedly.

  

  ‘Sword Star…’

  

  Watching Mok Riwon and recalling the first form he had displayed, Namgung Hyuk let out a hollow laugh.

  

  ‘…So you’re alive.’

  

  Crack–

  

  The armrest of the chair had shattered.

 

  And the flame within his heart, which had been extinguished since that day, began to burn once more.

 


 

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The Heaven-Slaying Sword

The Heaven-Slaying Sword

천살검협
Score 9.0
Status: Ongoing Author: Released: 2022 Native Language: Korean
Born with the fate of a slaughterer, but all he wanted to do was help.

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