The sound of footsteps across a shallow stream.
With every step, the sound became duller.
Despite years of training as a Taoist, the Plum Blossom Sword Saint was still criticized for lacking composure.
But no one would mention it right now. What he stood on wasn’t water but blood.
His face was contorted horrifyingly.
The bodies formed a towering heap, and the blood streamed towards him. As he walked, he could sense the blood brushing against his ankles. He couldn’t bring himself to accept this.
A heap of bodies and a river of blood.
What other words could capture the sight before them?
His fingers shook.
“How can a person…”
Deep down, he understood. This was war.
War ultimately involved taking another’s life.
Even so, he could not help but feel anger and nausea rise up from his stomach. Because the cruelty that swept through the land was beyond what he could imagine.
How could a man kill another like this?
Even if one crushed an ant, it could not be more cruel than this.
A bone-cracking sound came from his clenched fist. Even the red veins on the back of his hands were trembling.
A faint voice came.
Chung Myung’s gaze shifted to the side. Before his mind could even process it, his body darted towards the location with lightning speed.
He swiftly cleared the piled bodies and took hold of his sajil’s hand, who was unconscious.
“M-Myung Do! Myung Do!”
As he held Myung Do’s cooling hand, he infused pure qi into his body.
Chung Myung’s voice started trembling, which was unusual.
“Myung… Myung Do… It’s alright. Huh? I… I…”
However, the eyes of Chung Myung, which shifted from Myung Do to his lower body, were consumed by despair.
The lips he was biting were forcefully torn open, causing blood to trickle down. He couldn’t see anything below his waist.
Even if there was an immortal god here, rescuing him would be an impossibility.
But how would he express it?
“It’s alright. Everything will be fine, Myung Do. Let me heal you. Myung Do, you scoundrel. Alright? Don’t worry.”
“Yes! Yes! Myung Do.”
In an instant, life began to drain from Myung Do’s face. On the verge of death, he desperately gasped for air, attempting to say something.
Myung’s face, panting heavily, contorted with difficulty in breathing and turned to terror.
Chung Myung, who was desperately listening, had a look of shock on his face.
Who was this person?
Chung Myung, known as the Plum Blossom Sword Saint, was considered one of the three greatest swordsmen in the world.
No, describing him as one of the three greatest swordsmen was not sufficient. Chung Myung was undeniably the best in the world and, moreover…
Everyone in Mount Hua is well aware of this.
But his questions were short-lived.
“H… heavenly… Demon….”
Chung Myung’s hand tightened as he desperately grasped onto Myung Do’s hand.
“…sa…suk. Hold on… and go…”
The words of Myung Do, who was barely breathing, ceased, and his eyes turned lifeless. Chung Myung shook his head, feeling the strength drain from his hand.
The metallic tang filled his mouth, and blood trickled from his injured lips, staining his chin.
The person responsible for making him witness all of this. The one who murdered his sajil.
He was the owner of the Demonic Sect that ruled over the Ten Thousand Mountains, the demon that shook the world.
Chung Myung seized his sword as he rose.
“Dirty dog! I’ll make sure to kill you…”
It was at that moment.
Chung Myung’s mouth snapped shut. Simultaneously, his motion ceased.
‘What is this?’
It was peculiar. Even Chung Myung himself couldn’t comprehend why he had stopped.
It wasn’t by his own choice.
To be precise, his body refused to obey, halting of its own accord.
And that wasn’t the end of it.
His head started to tilt. Chung Myung’s head shook to one side as though the rusted screws in his body were being forced to move.
His eyes lost their focus.
Yes, that figure.
Could that be considered human?
The sky turned red with the sunset, and the land was soaked in blood.
A man walked slowly in this death-filled land, where it was hard to breathe due to the overwhelming stench of blood.
Chung Myung’s body twitched.
And a wave of nausea washed over him. His stomach churned, making it even harder to breathe.
As if some unfamiliar unease was taking hold, his head began to spin.
That can’t be considered human.
That was an intimidating force, unlike anything Chung Myung had ever experienced.
‘That’ did not seem to fit the world’s natural order.
The sky and land. Humans in between.
It felt like something different, something in the middle of everything that comprised the world, yet it refused to conform to the world’s order.
Even more potent.
He could sense it. He couldn’t resist it.
Even without an explanation from someone else, how could he not understand, even if it was his first encounter with this entity?
If such a thing existed beneath the sky, there was only one name for it.
“… Heavenly Demon.”
The Demon race’s own. And its ruler.
The sole ruler of the Demonic Sect, who conquered the world, an evil that would never be witnessed again.
Chung Myung’s gaze was entranced by the Heavenly Demon, unsure of where to settle.
His strange black hair grew wild, almost to the chin, and his face looked pale. And oddly, for a member of the Demonic Sect, his clothes were white and without any marks on them. The red embroidery in the middle of the robe made him feel uneasy.
Wasn’t this amusing?
The fact that the human who had slaughtered numerous people without a drop of blood on his body was wearing a white robe.
Wasn’t this amusing?
More like it was absurd.
A low sound emanated from Chung Myung’s mouth.
This was chaos. He could comprehend why Myung Do had begged him to flee.
An overpowering presence, one that the Plum Blossom Sword Saint could not divert his gaze from.
Enough fear to cause his heart to tighten.
A body that had never gone against his desires was now inwardly screaming.
Yet, Chung Myung did not run. He was unable to run.
Was it to seek revenge for Myung Do?
Because he had finally been given the opportunity to encounter Heavenly Demon?
It wasn’t in Chung Myung’s nature to overdo things.
Even though he feared that going insane would be preferable, there was one reason why Chung Myung couldn’t retreat.
“…look at me.”
Chung Myung’s face contorted like a demon, yet he remained standing.
He continued to exist on a land where death was the only resident, but the gaze of the Heavenly Demon didn’t turn to him.
This fact only made Chung Myung’s situation even more intolerable.
Would a person who killed a group of ants focus on a single ant trying to escape?
Perhaps yes. Perhaps not.
One could crush it more because it was of no importance or ignore it because it was of no importance.
To the Heavenly Demon, Chung Myung was just like an ant. Therefore, he didn’t divert his gaze. Because his life and death were that negligible.
And… this reality didn’t sit well with Chung Myung,
“… look at me.”
Chung Myung’s eyes were filled with blood.
“Look at me, you brat!”
Did his voice reach him?
The gaze of Heavenly Demon, who was alone in the world of blood, turned towards Chung Myung.
Even from a distance, his eyes looked directly at Chung Myung.
In the face of that gaze, Chung Myung felt his skin crawl.
There was nothing in those eyes.
No emotions, no will, none of it.
How could a human’s eyes be like that?
All he could see were hollow eyes. And after a moment, Heavenly Demon lost interest and resumed walking. That quick glimpse was enough.
Chung Myung scoffed.
‘Does he not notice me?’
Or did he not regard him as a threat?
His fists tightened.
He clenched his teeth and drew the sword.
“Then I shall ensure you remember.”
Fear seized his entire body, and his limbs quivered, but Chung Myung lifted the corner of his mouth.
“I will ensure that you remember me until your dying day!”
His energy raised, Chung Myung propelled himself off the ground and lunged toward the Heavenly Demon.
He charged toward the overwhelming despair that hung over the world.
Just one month earlier.
The soldiers of death amassed all the might of the Central Plains. They ascended the Ten Thousand Mountains to slay the Heavenly Demon.
Not a single one returned alive.
Chung Myung stared ahead with wide eyes.
“Are you okay?”
“Your body is sweating. Are you feeling unwell?”
After a brief period, he came to the realization that it was merely a dream.
Chung Myung extended his hand to erase the clammy perspiration from his forehead. His entire body was drenched.
“… darn it.”
Chung Myung let out a curse. Baek Cheon didn’t inquire as to why and simply observed Chung Myung’s expression.
Anyone who had glimpsed Chung Myung’s face at this moment would have arrived at the same conclusion.
Chung Myung, who had been quiet for a moment, leaped to his feet.
“… hold on.”
And he went straight outside.
The cold, barren land of the North Sea, a temporary shelter dug into the ground.
As he emerged from the entrance, the cold wind from the North Sea immediately cooled his sweaty body.
But Chung Myung didn’t even register the chill as he continued to gaze up at the dark sky.
Despair filled his heart.
Despair came and stole everything.
Chung Myung embraced it.
Every time he thought of Heavenly Demon, it felt like lava flowing through his stomach, uncontrollable anger and despair. The hatred was so intense that it seemed like his hair would turn white, and fear gripped his heart.
On the day he died.
That day, the sight of the mountains haunted him. Sometimes in nightmares, sometimes as memories.
It was like a gum that wouldn’t come off of his hair. Great sahyung, sahyung, and even the sect leader.
The faces of those who died without acknowledgment would never be forgotten until the day Chung Myung died again.
It was something that should not exist in this world.
One could never know.
What was the Heavenly Demon? What kind of existence was he?
The one who took everything away. Life, emotions, and bonds.
Bloodshot eyes glimmered.
‘Do not make me laugh. Son of a….’
There was no place in this world for the Heavenly Demon to stand again. Chung Myung would ensure it.
Nobody would ever dare.
No one in the world would be able to take Mount Hua from his grasp.
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