Heo Sanja wiped his face with his sleeve. Thick sweat mixed with blood stained the white sleeve dark red.
He began to curse unwittingly.
Half-rotten bodies lay in front of him. The dead, who were prevented from even going to heaven, could finally attain peace.
As a follower of the Tao, restoring peace to the wandering dead like this was the right thing to do. Yet, Heo Sanja couldn’t feel any pride in the act.
Their situation wasn’t pleasant enough to afford him the privilege of feeling proud.
The kangshi that he had experienced were terrible monsters.
They had a steel-like body that repelled the sword and poisonous blood that spewed forth after finally breaching the flesh.
Perhaps, if it wasn’t for the narrow space, they could have been handled more easily. But because of this location, they had to spend far more energy dealing with these threats.
“Are you fine?”
“… Yes, elder.”
Jin Hyeon gripped his arm and nodded. Heo Sanja lamented at the sight of the arm.
“Move that hand.”
Jin Hyeon reluctantly lowered his hand. Heo Sanja then ripped the sleeve from his arm to get a clear look.
‘Is it necrotoxin?’
The skin torn by the kangshi’s nails had turned purple; it showed signs of some sort of poisoning.
If it was a normal toxin, then Jin Hyeon’s body would be able to heal itself naturally. But this couldn’t be anything ordinary. It’s a necrotoxin from that terrible kangshi. It was bound to be more severe.
If this was left alone, not only would Jin Hyeon’s arm become invalid, but the poison could flow to the heart and threaten his life.
Heo Sanja grabbed the arm and infused qi into it.
Jin Hyeon tightly shut his mouth. One shouldn’t speak recklessly when internal qi is being channeled from one person to another.
‘Energy mustn’t be wasted.’
It was unknown what lay ahead. Perhaps there were many more horrors they had yet to experience. Unless they have time to replenish any energy used, they should clearly do their best to preserve as much as possible.
Nevertheless, Heo Sanja used his internal qi to heal Jin Hyeon’s wounds.
After inducing the qi for a long time, a dark venom began flowing from the affected area. As a result, his purple arm slowly regained its natural color.
“… Elder, how could you….”
Heo Sanja, who had guessed what Jin Hyeon wanted to say, firmly spoke.
“Although the Sword Tomb’s treasure and pills are precious, they can’t be compared to an arm from one of our disciples. Don’t speak any nonsense.”
Heo Sanja had a determined face.
“And I won’t get weak with just this much.”
JIn Hyeon bit his lip.
It wasn’t like Jin Hyeon failed to understand just how exhausting it would be to treat someone else using one’s own internal qi.
However, there was nothing left for him to say in this situation.
“I understand. Elder.”
Heo Sanja lightly nodded with a serious gaze and looked ahead.
He was tired of looking at the corpses of kangshi.
The damage would have been far greater if the Wudang hadn’t taken the lead and cleared the path.
Of course, the people following at their heels wouldn’t hesitate to drag them down without appreciating their efforts.
‘Those lucky bastards.’
Heo Sanja bit his lip.
Even though this place was a den of evil that was filled with greedy individuals, shouldn’t these people at least act appropriately according to the situation?
Jin Hyeon must have felt the same, so he spoke quietly.
“Elder, I don’t understand. How can they be so wicked?”
“Don’t let yourself be shaken by them.”
“It’s a matter of course. Why do we seek the path of Tao?”
With an expressionless face, Heo Sanja said.
“The reason we pursue the path of Tao is that it doesn’t exist in this world. Isn’t that why we strive to attain the Tao? If ordinary people naturally lived according to the path of Tao, then sects and sub-sects would be meaningless. We work hard at every moment and continue to persevere precisely because it is not an easy path to follow.”
Jin Hyeon bowed his head as if he was trying to carve these words into his memory.
“You’re shaken because your path isn’t complete yet. Settle your mind and take control of your emotions.”
Heo Sanja nodded his head.
‘And that applies to me too.’
Although he was confident, Heo Sanja knew himself a lot more.
“And what about the back?”
“They are still blocking… but it looks hard.”
“… leave that alone and keep moving.”
“Shouldn’t we help them?”
“What would change if we went to help them? Unless we can knock them all down, we shouldn’t go. It would be better to get our hands on our goal without wasting any time here.”
Mun Pyeong, who was next to him, agreed with Heo Sanja.
“I think the same. Even if we head in to help now, it will just be a waste of time.”
Heo Sanja frowned.
He didn’t tell the disciples, but he had another reason to hurry.
‘That cold wave of qi.’
In the midst of battle, he had felt a formidable wave of qi. The person’s identity that released the wave of qi was unknown, but it would be a massive variable if such a person were to join the melee behind them.
Heo Sanja had no desire to wait and meet the mysterious expert.
Even the leader of a sect could crumble if they clumsily leaped into an unpredictable situation.
‘Some sacrifices are acceptable.’
Wasn’t it obvious what would happen if the pills were handed over to those wicked people? Heo Sanja couldn’t ignore this situation.
It was a secondary concern that Wudang would grow stronger. The primary issue was keeping it out of the hands of others.
Heo Sanja’s face was resolute.
He truly believed that the end of this dreadful tomb was nearby. Kangshi wasn’t something that could easily be bought or created. It was hard to imagine that there could be something more frightening than that ahead of them.
It was then.
“Sahyung! Sahyung! We can’t handle it any longer!”
A loud voice came from behind.
Heo Sanja was cursing out now.
“Give up on blocking! Join us! Follow me!”
Before even listening to the answer, Heo Sanja ran ahead. Since Heo Gong was there, he would be able to manage the disciples’ well-being and follow shortly after. So, Heo Sanja should run ahead and get his hands on the treasure.
Jin Hyeon and the Mu disciples followed from behind.
A dark cavern passed by in an instant. As they traveled through the somber cave, even the mighty Heo Sanja felt a foreboding feeling, as if they were delving into the abyss.
‘What the hell was that man thinking while making all of this?’
Yak Seon was known as a virtuous healer. The number of sick people he had healed was innumerable, and the number of soldiers saved because of his pills was equally enormous.
So, Yak Seon’s reputation resounded at the time, and even after two hundred years, people still praised him.
But his tomb was full of malice. Considering Yak Seon’s legacy, Heo Sanja began to question if this was truly his Sword Tomb.
‘I need to see it.’
All these questions would be answered when they reached the end of the tomb.
“Sahyung! Men are chasing from behind!”
Since the cave didn’t have anything in it, the pursuit seemed to arrive rather fast.
“Ignore them! Speed up!”
“I said ignore it! I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m not losing our men here!”
Heo Sanja’s mind was already full of complex ideation.
Had his thoughts been calm, he may have come to a different judgment. However, it wasn’t an easy task to lead the disciples through constant battles and maneuver through this pitch-black cave.
All of these compounding circumstances were gnawing away at Heo Sanja’s heart.
‘If we wander around any longer than this, my heart will fail. We need to move out right away.’
“Uhahahah! The Wudang rats are curling their tails! Do you think you’re going to be able to get out alive with us here!?”
“Chase! Chase! Don’t give up on catching them!”
The enemies’ yells could be heard ringing through the cave.
Heo Sanja bit his lip tightly.
He could see it.
At the end of the cave, they had finally spotted a bright light. A bright light that was different from the light they had seen in the cave so far.
Heo Sanja exclaimed and shouted.
“Disciples, be strong! The end is almost here!”
The hands clenching swords tightened.
Regardless of how difficult it had been to get here, it no longer mattered.
If only they could only get their hands on the method to manufacture pills…!
‘We can hand the weapons over to them.’
He only wanted the knowledge related to pills.
The weapons didn’t matter to him. They could be given away. Trying to keep the weapons for themselves would only create problems for the sect outside.
Shortly after, they reached the end of the cave. A dazzling light blinded them, and their vision flashed white as they slowly became accustomed to the change.
Heo Sanja was in awe at what he saw.
A huge cliff appeared in front of them. The brightest light was pouring in from the top.
It didn’t seem to be natural light. There was no way to know what the light was, but it came flooding in from the gaps in the ceiling high above them. Perhaps there was another passage beside the one they had entered.
‘What about the pill?’
If this was the end, then the pill…
Heo Sanja’s eyes didn’t miss the bulging space in the middle of the cliff.
If this was the end of the Sword Tomb, the exit must be where that light was coming from. And if someone had left something in this place, it would be in the middle of that cliff.
“Go up! Climb that cliff!”
“It’s too steep!”
The sheer cliff nearly formed a perfect right angle; it didn’t seem to allow humans to climb it. It wasn’t some mound they could just jump over.
“Up! Climb up right now!”
At Heo Sanja’s words, the Wudang disciples began to cling to the cliff. Without delay, they started to climb.
Soon after, those pursuing them exited the cave and poured into the new area.
“Hey! Those Wudang bastards are climbing the cliff! Follow me!”
“Don’t let them get those weapons!”
Everyone was eager to climb that cliff as their eyes burned a piercing red. It seemed that a view from hell was about to unfold again.
At that moment…
A formidable wave of qi began to emanate from the cave they passed through. Through the dark cave, a group was approaching at tremendous speed.
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