Chapter 19 - Showdown (1)

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Late at night…

At the cave where Hae Ack-chun lived, he asked Song Jwa-baek, who had come back late after taking Leader Oh down the mountain.

“Why are you alone?”

“I came up first since I know footwork technique, and he was left behind. He’ll be back.”

Hae Ack-chun nodded at those words. This was expected. Although he did pass down the know-hows, there was no way So Wonhwi, who never learned internal qi, could even catch up to Song Jwa-baek.

“Irregular breathing because of an internal wound. Kulkul.”

‘You ghostly old bastard.’

He tried not to show it as much as possible, but when Hae Ack-chun still figured it out, Song Jwa-baek clicked his tongue.

“Take off your shirt.”

Resist and get beaten is the hidden message. So he took the shirt off. The marks on his torso had only gotten bigger over time. A blue bruise formed on his stomach, and a large one of the same color on the ribs.

Hae Ack-chun looked him straight in the eye and asked.

“Who killed?”

He asked as if he was sure death was involved.

‘… damn it. I guess that jerk was right.’

Song Jwa-baek was cursing the man for not making his initial intentions clear. Still, his own move was what decided the life of Leader Oh.

Even if the dagger hadn’t pierced through his chest, the man would have collapsed and died from his kick.

“I did.”

“Right. Okay. You have the final blow.”

“…!?”

Hearing these words, it felt like Hae Ack-chun knew that the two worked together to kill Leader Oh, and he clicked his tongue.

“From the level of internal wounds, he is a first-rate warrior. If he could deal with you alone at your level, do you think you would have come out with just this level of injuries? Stupid. Tch.”

But despite saying all this, Hae Ack-chun didn’t look angry. He was pushing their limits by training them, but he was satisfied with their progress in just three months.

‘He must be a mess too.’

Hae Ack-chun was known to be eccentric. After a while, So Wonhwi appeared, and his expression became stiff.

Song Jwa-baek felt like he was being made to sit on thorns.

“I mainly dealt with the man. He was just using his short sword on the guy with a broken leg, so he is fine.”

He made excuses to explain why Wonwhi looked fine. But what should have happened was happening.

“In the future, train more.”

‘D-Damn it!’

Song Jwa-baek glared at Wonhwi. And Wonhwi turned his face away to avoid the gaze. Seeing that, Son Jwa-baek’s glare only intensified.

‘I need to win.’

He swore on this promise.


Finally, the day when Hae Ack-chun would make them fight was announced. It was in exactly three months.

It was probably around this time that the twins decided that they had to defeat me. As much as the monster old man taught me, I couldn’t be careless, so I was training myself to death.

Meanwhile, commander Gu Sang-woong came around to inquire about the whereabouts of Leader Oh. He went down quickly after a roar from Hae Ack-chun.

I wondered if he would find Leader Oh but after that shout, I doubted the man would come back up to search again.

Even if a leader-level person died in the hands of Hae Ack-chun, no one would talk. That was good news for me.

Now I could focus on my training without worrying about anything.

Sak! Sak!

The sound of a sword being swung echoed through the cave. For more than one month, the same thing was repeated.

‘When will you teach me a technique?’

South Heavenly Iron Sword answered my question.

-There is no technique until your body masters these movements.

Until now, I hadn’t learned a single technique. For over a month, all I did was repeat the same basic movement.

-My former master said that the technique would only look like a sword dance if the basic moves didn’t come out naturally.

This was true, but I became even more curious about the technique.

Although Hae Ack-chun showed me a few demonstrations illustrating the transition, I still couldn’t quite learn it.

And I wanted to learn the technique the iron sword told me about.

-It isn’t too late to check all of the 8 basic forms.

‘Kuak.’

But this sword was one hell of a pervert that liked being touched. Looking at him, I could guess how the South Heavenly Swordsman must have been. Perhaps, he was a stubborn and inflexible master.

He trained himself to death and managed to leave his name in the world. It made me wonder.

Who defeated such a man and left him with such a bitter end?

-I don’t know.

‘Don’t know? Not even the name?’

-My former master had a reputation for being the best. He was challenged every day.

‘And he dealt with all of them?’

-It isn’t like that. At least, he would accept the ones worthy enough to fight with.

‘He was like that too with his last challenger?’

-No

‘Uh?’

-My master was nervous after receiving that challenge.

This was shocking.

A challenge to the South Heavenly Swordsman that left the man nervous must have come from someone that is second to none?

-The nameless challenge only contained a place and time of the challenge and a flower with its stem cut in half.

‘A flower stem?’

-My former master, who saw it, went to the promised place despite not knowing the person.

‘Ha….’

I’ve heard of such things. The better the swordsmanship was, the more powerful the stabs and cuts were from the sword.

-My master lost in just 40 seconds.

‘What?’

That was an unbelievable time. It was incredible that one known to be one of the best in the world had gone and lost in just 40 seconds.

‘By any chance… did someone of the Eight Great Warriors or Four Great Evils come?’

That felt the most likely. Maybe they had come to take down a man who would threaten their position in the future?

In any case, there was a higher chance that it was one of the Four Great Evils.

-He was too young for my master.

‘Young?’

-I don’t know the standards for humans, but when I saw him, he looked to be someone in his 20s.

‘20s?’

The South Heavenly Swordsman became famous in his late 30s. How could a man in his 20s defeat such a man?

Then, wasn’t Iron Sword saying that even the Ghastly Monster Hae Ack-chun would be no match to him?

-The land is vast. There are many warriors. No one can guarantee that they know all the strong ones.

Despite talking about someone who drove his master to their death, the iron sword kept his calm. Was it because he lost in a fair match?

‘So you don’t know till the end? Do you think you can speak about it?’

Maybe a hint about him being a famous man now. Since I know the future 10 years from now, I might be able to know the man’s identity.

Staying silent, the iron sword recalled.

-There was nothing unique. He looked normal, like someone you would see on the road. However, there was one unique thing.

‘What?’

-The color of his eyes was different. I saw it when he was fighting my master. One of the eyes was gold.

Um… I don’t know. I’ve never heard about anyone with a golden eye.

Two of the Eight Great Warriors changed in the future, but neither has a golden eye. So who?

-Wonhwi.

‘Huh?’

-There is an important lesson here.

‘Lesson?’

-Even my former master, who didn’t neglect his training, was killed by an unknown man. Do you have time to chat now?

‘…’

Right, I was at fault.

For some reason, after he began talking with Short Sword, the iron sword was talking a lot more. But unlike Short Sword, he didn’t joke around.


Trees on the mountain peak were showing their bare branches. The red and yellow mountain turned white as the snow began to fall.

This was peak winter.

6 months had gone by.

Chachachacha!

Light sounds resounded throughout the cave. The trajectory of the sword was split in all directions.

The technique being shown now is the Tiger Tooth Sword. It was a technique that subdued the opponent using fierce momentum.

I could use the technique because I am using the iron sword. When using the last form, South Heavenly Iron Sword said.

-Connect this technique with the past form.

This technique was known as the Hidden Clam Sword. It created an explosive force and countered the opponent’s attack while at the same time reversing the opponent’s strength.

-3rd one.

As he kept speaking, I continued to flow into the following technique.

Unlike the previous ones, the sword changed to soft movements, like a willow branch. Like a loach-shaped sword. It was soft like a fish and dazzled the opponent with unexpected soft movements.

“Phew,”

After finishing the three techniques, I exhaled.

-Now it seems good.

I shrugged at the Short Sword’s words, but Iron Sword evaluated it calmly.

-Still a long way off. In the middle, your force shakes a little. And your current level is just half of my former master’s.

My proud shoulders drooped down. Maybe because he was acting like my mentor, his words had more impact on me.

-Still, the growth is impressive in just three months. You’ve done well.

And I smiled at those compliments. When it came to martial arts, he was amazing, so I trusted him a lot.

-Me?

‘… uh. You too.’

-Don’t answer in such an emotionless way. Trash So Wonhwi.

‘…!’

This bastard cursed people by attaching trash in front of their name. How abusive can swords be?

-What did you say!

Short Sword yelled.

‘Enough. Can I really win with these three techniques?’

Normally a total of 7 are learned. As with most swordsmanship, the more we knew, the better it was.

Techniques were used to connect and execute in sequence. I think that I would be at a disadvantage since I haven’t finished learning all of them.

-Don’t worry. I was just saying that you weren’t at the level of the previous master. But seeing the sword technique, you are close to perfection. It is better to focus on three and perfect them than learn all in a hurry.

I was nervous but decided to trust him, so I tried to learn just the three.

-Take care Wonhwi.

-Take care!

‘Right!’

The preparation was done.

Now I was at the peak. The sun was in the middle of the sky as noon approached.

The time for confrontation had come.

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