Inside a dark basement.
In that basement was a hallway filled with thick smoke, thick enough to obscure whatever was ahead.
Someone’s palm had touched the wall.
A hand slid down the wall alongside a pained voice. The wall reflected in the lamp was stained with blood.
The air was filled with the sound of something being crushed within the smoke. Suddenly, someone opened a thick door to a tightly shut room at the back of the hallway.
The place had numerous seals placed around it. A figure of a person walked inside from that door.
“Look at how durable this was as if filled with poison.”
The person had a man’s face but a woman’s voice. Baek Hye-hyang, hidden beneath her mask, said to the man who was following her,
“I think the Tang family became involved. As the team reported, many guards were still assigned even when the main figures guarding this place were absent. As expected of the Alliance.”
The man’s words revealed their mysterious location. All of them were located inside a basement in the heart of the Murim Alliance.
Baek Hye-hyang, one of the candidates for the next sect leader of the Blood Sect, showed her boldness in entering here.
“And we need to just go through?”
“It is possible that there are traces of any traps in the path. I will go first.. miss!”
Ignoring the man’s words, Baek Hye-hyang walked forward.
She stepped foot into the long hall.
Each time she stepped forward, the hallway shifted like an ever-changing maze as her eyes gleamed red in the dark.
A thin, transparent film could be seen on the surface of her eye, making the light seem more bright.
As she tilted her head slightly to the side, a sharp spear came from the wall and pierced the opposite side. She then broke a window that blocked the path forward.
And she continued to move without hesitation.
The traps kept appearing one after another, but none worked on her. The man then thought.
There was no reason for them to even try to defend her. She was someone who could walk forward in this trap-filled maze without breaking a sweat.
A space lit with lanterns could be seen at the end of the hallway.
The man who followed her seemed a bit confused at her words before snorting in excitement.
Numerous swords filled the walls of the space. Hundreds of sheaths and yellow talismans covered each blade.
“They did a great job,”
The Alliance clearly wanted to make it difficult to find the sword.
“It seemed like they wanted to completely hide the energy from the sword.”
They could understand why this was done.
The sword was a rare demonic sword, incomparable to yet another holy sword. They heard that it was one that ate away at the human mind.
‘But so what?’
If they had to take out each sword here, time would be wasted.
They were in a tight spot right now. After a while, people would arrive to check.
“Did they think we wouldn’t be able to find it if they hid it like this?”
Red haze rose from the body of Baek Hye-hyang.
In order to get a reaction from the sword, she decided to release her qi to its limit.
With her eyes glowing dark red, she looked at the wall full of swords. She then moved forward and jumped to grab a particular sword by the hilt.
“Is that it?”
Baek Hye-hyang nodded her head.
“Let’s confirm it.”
She shook her head at his words, making him wonder why. However, he understood after he heard Baek Hye-hyang’s next words.
“These things will flare up.”
She pointed to the other swords that were sealed with talismans that filled the wall before them. The man’s lips curled up into a knowing smile.
Baek Hyang-muk, who had arrived at the rear of the main building, looked towards a building that was leaking smoke.
All the warriors near it covered their mouths with a cloth.
At a glance, it appeared to be poisonous smoke.
‘How dare they!’
Even he, whose emotions were not easily shaken, could not hold back his anger at this. A middle-aged man with a mustache then rushed towards him.
“Military Commander Sima.”
This man was named Sima Jung-hyung, the Murim Alliance’s second military commander.
He was the first to arrive here after the incident and was trying to solve the situation. Baek Hyang-muk then asked.
“The enemies have used poison. Elder Tang Woo-jung went in and detoxified what he could, but this goes all the way down to the basement.”
Tang Woo-jung was the successor to the head position of the Sichuan Tang family. No other family could deal with poison as well as they could. The problem, however, wasn’t the poison alone.
“Have the intruders been captured?”
“The elders and everyone in the vicinity are chasing them since they have scattered.”
“The enemies seem to have used distractions as well.”
“Quite a few people had escaped the basement. They all scattered everywhere, each holding a sword with talismans still attached.”
“How long will it take to catch them?”
“Some of them were our own warriors who were supposed to guard this place, which added to the confusion.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Sima Jung-hyung pointed to a particular spot.
The people of the Tang family and infirmary staff were carrying warriors with pale faces and dried blood on their bodies.
Next to them were six swords with talismans on them.
“They had swords tied around their backs and ran recklessly.”
“They deceived our men by saying they would be killed if they stopped running. They were deceived and ended up adding to the confusion.”
“How many people were in there?”
A large number and the culprit were among them.
‘Such a plan.’
He didn’t know whose plan it was, but he was sure they had an amazing mind. Sima Jung-hyun then said in an anxious voice.
“Alliance Leader… I think we should execute the emergency orders. Considering the tournament is being held right now, the sword might end up stolen.”
At those words, Baek Hyang-muk felt troubled.
The Murim tournament was happening at that exact moment.
Influential people had also come to attend and watch it. The Alliance’s face would fall if an emergency forced them to declare that their sealed weapons had been stolen.
‘But nothing else can be done.’
His worries didn’t last long.
If their greatest victory from the war was stolen here, it would shake the future morale of the people. Baek Hyang-muk then said.
“We will issue an emergency order, right…”
Before he could even do that, a loud roar came.
It came from the direction where the podium for the matches was located. Once again, the sound explosion filled the air.
Despite the considerable distance between the podiums and the main building, they could hear the explosions as well as the screams of the people.
Baek Hyang-muk maintained a firm expression.
“Issue the emergency orders right now and send all the power we have to the grand stadium.”
“I will do as I am told.”
It was no longer a situation to think about the Alliance’s fame and pride.
I was returning to the second qualifying round location while thinking about Zhuge Won-myung’s request.
I was thinking about how to deal with this scenario as I was afraid that my identity would become compromised and I might die while going after the targets.
However, as if such a concern had been a joke, the incident happened.
-Have you lost it? This is suicide.
Short Sword stuck out her tongue.
The participant, one of Baek Hye-hyang’s subordinates, was supposed to be competing against me. He then suddenly took off his shirt while fighting against the next person.
And there came the gunpowder.
“The Double Sided Martial Forces do not forget grudges!”
Having declared that, he then committed suicide. The one in charge of the stage had tried to stop him but only ended up being caught in the explosion.
‘Are you abandoning your own men?’
My gaze automatically turned towards a particular person.
The disciple of the First Elder, Kwak Young-ha, used the explosion as a distraction and disappeared from his podium.
“The guy is running! Catch him!”
Zhuge Won-myung shouted loudly. The explosion being used meant that no one could hide anymore.
Even Elder Hoyang, the Plum Blossom White Sword of Mount Hua, was working hard to capture the three spies he had noticed.
But then came another problem!
“We do not forget the grudges!”
Shouts came from the audience, causing Elder Hoyang, who had been running behind Kwon Young-ha, to turn.
At the same time, the sound of explosions accompanied by the splattering of body parts and screams filled the air.
I thought the Murim Alliance had caught everyone with gunpowder on them, but it seemed they had missed a few.
The explosions happening around the arena caused an extreme ripple effect.
In an instant, the stadium was plunged into chaos as the audience screamed and took flight.
The warriors of the Alliance tried to calm the crowd down, but it was futile. The fear of another explosion had plunged the whole place into chaos.
As tens of thousands of people began to make their frantic escape, the crowd and noise obscured Baek Hye-hyang’s men.
“Everyone, calm down!”
Zhuge Won-myung shouted his plea, but the noise buried his voice.
‘They had a plan ready for escape.’
He knew that escaping from this kind of situation wouldn’t be hard.
The plan was ruined.
If the ones who carried out the operation succeeded, then the Blood Demon Sword would be taken away, and they would never get the chance to take it back again.
He wondered if the tournament could even continue with all of this happening.
I had managed to avoid suspicion, but escaping now would be better.
-Will that be fine? If we suddenly vanished, wouldn’t there be a doubt against the Ikyang So family?
I felt a tinge of fear after hearing Short Sword’s words. It didn’t matter what the future held for the Ikyang So family, but I was worried about my sister.
If I vanished now, all of the repercussions would land on her.
‘Fuck, this is insane.’
Things were too complicated. Something needed to be done.
‘Where are they?’
Sima Young and Cho Sung-won couldn’t be seen anywhere.
I had asked Sima Young to find something, but she couldn’t have delved too close to the truth and got caught in an explosion, right?
I was anxious.
The crowd was jostling against one another, so finding those two would be tough. I then thought of one thing.
‘Iron Sword. Can you find Sima Young’s sword?’
I could hear the sound of swords, but in this situation where the air was filled with screams and noises, I could not concentrate.
-I will look.
This was better than moving aimlessly to look for them.
I needed to get away from the crowd with all this chaos. I thought that it would be better to move toward the audience seats. At that moment, as I was about to move…
I heard a hasty warning cry from Iron Sword.
A dagger was coming for me from behind, between the panicked crowd.
It was none other than Baek Hye-hyang’s follower, the one who had fought against me first in the second qualifying round.
It seemed like he wanted to kill me before escaping from there. Well, he finally revealed his true colors.
[Abandon the thought of running away!]
He told me through voice transmission.
Did he think I would run away just because I moved a little? Or did he think he didn’t get to show his skills during the match?
He walked towards me, and I just nodded at him.
As he approached me, he began to feel puzzled at my attitude.
Someone then wrapped their arm around his neck.
The man panicked and tried to stab the person behind him, but his neck was twisted, and he died on the spot before he could.
“Huh! How dare you aim for him?”
It was none other than Sima Young who had delta him. Behind her, Cho Sung-won sighed in relief.
‘I did the right thing.’
My nod was to give Sima Young permission to kill the man.
[Take the mask off.]
The crowd who had been fleeing were now looking at me in shock, so I told her to remove her mask.
Her face mask was then torn to reveal her true face. Her sharp eyes and white jade skin were exposed, but that face was definitely suited to blood and chaos.
“A human skin mask?”
“Was this a trick?
We looked at the Murim warrior who was among the crowd and then said.
I looked at the warriors, who seemed surprised.
“This was an attempt to kill me. Someone was after us.”
That should be enough. The warriors approached us, and I said.
“Let me inform you that I have been requested by commander Zhuge to act.”
“Ah. I understand.”
After saying that, I left alongside Sima Young and Cho Sung-won and blended into the crowd.
We now had to avoid more attention from the warriors, so we decided to move into the crowd.
[Vice commander. Now there is a mess outside the main hall.]
[What do you mean?]
[People holding swords with talismans attached are running around all over. The warriors from the Alliance are chasing after them.]
[… how do you know that?]
When I asked her how she came to know this, she replied that she had left the stadium for a bit. As she saw my frown, she then said.
[Hmm… it is because I heard that the second military commander is of the Sima family…]
I knew that.
He was from the Sima family. Sima Young waved her hand.
[I didn’t mean to meet like that. I was just trying to see him.]
Did she expect me to believe this?
She was always angry when she spoke about the Sima family, but this wasn’t a topic for this moment.
Thanks to her actions, we were aware of the situation outside.
‘She said they were holding swords with talismans attached to them.’
It wasn’t just one or two; all of the warriors were mobilized to catch them.
‘Blood Demon Sword.’
If my conclusion was correct, then all of this was indeed done for the Blood Demon Sword. This was Baek Hye-hyang’s plan to lure the warriors of the Alliance into following multiple people.
‘A strategy similar but different from ours.’
We were going to leave a fake sword in the basement to fool the Alliance. She had instead fooled them by using multiple fake swords.
But I didn’t know how well that plan would work.
This surely had thrown the Alliance into chaos.
[Vice commander. How should we act now? It seems like we have to get out of the place or take some sort of countermeasure.]
Cho Sung-won sent a message to me. And he was right.
‘What do we do now?’
Even if we ran now, the sword was already in Baek Hye-hyang’s hands, along with the victory. Everything I do here would just make the Alliance suspicious of me.
‘I need to steal it.’
I have to get that sword.
So I must catch the fugitive with the sword, but how do I find them?
Just as I thought that.
-Kill! Kill all of them!
I felt goosebumps rise all over my body.
As I turned my head toward the voice’s direction, the voice filled with killing intent resonated in my head.
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