Chapter 21 - Showdown (3)

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Hae Ack-chun had a puzzled expression. He, too, didn’t seem to expect that I could do this.

Well, I too, had a hidden card to use.

-Look at that face. Seems like he’s scared.

It was as the short sword said. He seemed surprised, and then his face went stiff. It was almost like trying to catch the opponent by the throat.

-Did it work out the way you thought it would?

Well. If it doesn’t work, I’ll get in trouble. What happened 3 months ago flashed through my mind.

Early morning, 3 months prior.

Chak! Chak!

In front of my eyes, Hae Ack-chun showed off the swordsmanship technique in one of the books. They were one of the seven written down by the South Heavenly Swordsman.

Considering Hae-Ack chun’s martial arts focused on the fist, I never imagined that he could use the sword that amazingly.

-This means that he analyzed the book thoroughly.

Short Sword was right.

Without a lot of analysis, there was no way he could have shown it to me so skillfully.

He is undoubtedly great. To defeat his opponent, he even stole their martial arts and learned them.

‘… He is quite good at it.’

‘This is a sword technique. You can understand it even with your eyes closed. Kulkul, it will be good for you to see this technique clearly. I will show this to you for exactly 3 days.’

‘Uh? 3 days?’

‘I will show it to you the entire time.’

‘…’

Crazy old man.

He showed off the sword technique for 3 whole days. But it was still helpful to see it, especially the parts in the book.

But he expected me to see them for just 3 days and then learn it? Did he think I was some genius talent?

No, that couldn’t be it. I was just a means for this old man to get his revenge, and he wouldn’t care more than he needed to.

-Yah, be patient. It is better than being stuck without any example.

Short Sword was right. Instead, it was better to take it with the twins.

‘Then I will remember what you showed me.’

Hae Ack-chun went back to the cave of the South Heavenly Swordsman and left after finishing the instruction. As soon as he left, Iron Sword mumbled.

-It is so uncomfortable. So irritating. I wish someone could clean me.

Man, this sword liked being touched, but he hates Hae Ack-chun touching him. Short Sword smiled.

-It has been a long time since I have been able to directly see a sword technique being done, so I can understand it.

‘What?’

-The sword technique before completion shows so many loopholes. If he hadn’t stolen the book, my former master might not have thought of changing it.

On the contrary, that theft was a wake-up call for the South Heavenly Swordsman.

-Trust me. This is luck. My former master did not just complete the technique but also further evolved the sword technique by changing a couple things.

Hearing that, I began to think that he was reliable. Hae Ack-chun would be shocked once he saw that.

He couldn’t have dreamt that the man he wanted to defeat so much was also developing a much stronger technique.

‘Hm…’

But I suddenly thought.

‘If I use a more advanced technique, will that crazy old man be shocked?’

-Ah! Right, rather, he will be suspicious!

No. He would think I was suspicious.

I just learned one technique, but I didn’t stop there and managed to evolve it? It was possible for the ones called geniuses. But if a criminal like me showed it, it would raise doubts.

It would be impossible to believe unless the dead South Heavenly Swordsman returned to life to help me.

-But you lose if you don’t use the completed technique. You memorized it so well that you can use it with your eyes closed. Don’t you know what weaknesses it has?

Short Sword pointed toward it. I thought it might just be a joke, but no.

And now I was in a dire situation.

If I win with a modified technique, I would be questioned, and if I lose, I get the blood parasite put inside me again.

-…Right. Then, Wonhwi, how about this?

‘Uh?’

-If the extent to which the former master evolved the technique is questioned, how about showing a level high enough to cover the weak points?

‘Cover the weak points?’

-Right. Obviously, as you said, further evolving the technique is possible if you have talent like my former master. And it is unreasonable for you, who is just learning to hold a sword.

This was right. And the South Heavenly Swordsman was really strong.

-If the opponent is Hae Ack-chun, then dealing without the completed form is different, but your opponent isn’t him, right?

It was one of the twins.

‘Right!’

Even if Haek Ack-chun learned of the gaps in the technique, the twins’ level played a role in the fight. Besides, if they panicked, I could counter them.

And the plan worked.

Song Jwa-baek can deal with what he was taught, the imperfect technique with weak points. Now Hae Ack-chun should know it.

-It is going to be hard to question. Your judgment was right in leaving some gaps when showing the technique.

As Iron Sword said, I didn’t use the entirety of the completed swordsmanship. For example, if the sword technique was perfect, the forms would all come out cleanly. They wouldn’t be deceived by just that.

‘Can I avoid the suspicion?’

-There was nothing suspicious about your move.

‘Then I am glad. South Heavenly Iron Sword, you were right.’

This was why the iron sword asked me to focus on the three techniques alone. If I didn’t perfectly learn those three, then I cannot deceive them.

I was mastering it to deceive.

‘You will soon find out there is more to this.’

I have already won.

When Song Jwa-baek kept running away, the match favored my victory. It was up to that crazy old man to decide, but he won’t just accept it.

Because I had broken down his predictions and defeated his disciple.

‘… Ah!’

But Hae Ack-chun, who had a scary face, raised his hand as he shouted.

“Huh! The fight is done. Stop…”

“It isn’t done yet!”

Song Jwa-bek had a dissatisfied expression as he stopped running. Hae Ack-chun’s eyebrows rose at his student’s words.

-Wonhwi, what is he up to?

Song Jwa-baek ripped off his shirt and stopped running with an odd expression on his face.

Was he up to something?

“Ahhhh!”

I could see the change begin to show as he clenched his muscles. His skin was darkening and began to take on a pale copper tint.

‘What is it?’

-Wonhwi! That is the True Blood Gold Body of the Ghastly Monster! Widen your distance!

Phat!

As soon as Iron Sword warned me, Song Jwa-baek began to run for me. Originally, he was already fast with his footwork technique, but now he was even faster.

“The match isn’t over yet!”

He was closing in fast, but it was difficult to widen the distance.

‘Tch!’

It is hard to avoid.

I was trying to use any technique I could to escape from him. I had to win here. I wondered if my opponent thought the same thing as he unleashed this power.

Papapak!

As my opponent’s wrist collided with my sword, the snow at our feet flew off in all directions. The confrontation was intense.

Again, I needed to aim at the gaps in the technique. But it was of no use.

I used an attack that was aimed at the center of his chest. He had to avoid it. Otherwise, he would die.

‘…!?’

But the opponent wasn’t dodging my sword.

‘He isn’t dodging?’

It looked like he might die, so I withdrew my sword. Withdrawing it caused a rush of qi to be left behind. Besides, I also risked getting counter-attacked.

‘The match.’

This idiot was serious enough to risk his life. Then, I had no choice but to respond.

One step before my sword touched him, the guy turned around.

Puck!

“Kuak!”

The sword’s tip didn’t pierce the chest but the shoulder area instead. However, it didn’t go too deep.

Pak!

At that moment, Song Jwa-baek grabbed Iron Sword’s blade. It was shocking. This was like giving away flesh to crush the bones of the opponent.

“It is my victory!”

He swung his fist towards my face while continuing to hold my sword. I raised my left hand to block the fist.

Crack!

“Kuak!”

I blocked his fist with my bare hands, and it felt like I was hit by an iron ball. My palm was definitely broken.

It hurt so much, but if I pulled back, I would lose. Both of us were holding the weapon and the hand. It was a confrontation of internal qi.

‘Damn it!’

My body was being pushed aside because the qi this man had was close to a first-rate warrior.

-Wonhwi!

This shouldn’t happen.

As expected…

It was then.

Drip!

Blood flowed from the eyes and nose of Song Jwa-baek.

Why was this guy bleeding from using internal qi? It was then.

Pak!

“Huh!”

“Kuak!”

Our entangled bodies fell as we separated. It was dangerous since we were fighting with qi, but at the same time, we managed to avoid internal wounds.

The one who separated us was the old man.

‘You crazy old man.’

He could have just pushed us. Why bother lifting us by the neck?

The match wasn’t done, so why are you doing this!

Hae Ack-chun looked at Song Jwa-baek and shouted.

“Who told you to use it?”

“E-elder!”

“I said that the True Blood Gold Body isn’t for your level. You foolish bastard.”

Pak!

Hae Ack-chun threw him to the other side, and he fell on his butt as he breathed roughly.

“Huh, huh….”

The copper color skin was turning back to normal. Hae Ack-chun’s face turned stiff as if wanting to say something more.

And then he looked at me.

“Why didn’t you carry out the sword technique according to the book I gave you?”

Again, this question. I was afraid of being hit, but I spoke while looking straight into his eyes.

“I am not stupid.”

“What?”

“I know well enough how practice is done with books.”

Hae Ack-chun frowned.

“So?”

“So you must also know about the loopholes in the technique.”

“Ha! So you changed the technique?”

“… yes.”

Hae Ack-chun asked.

“Did someone teach that to you?”

He doubted that I could do that myself.

“You asked me to not speak about this to anyone, so how can I tell anyone? And who is allowed to enter this place without your permission?”

Hae Ack-chun looked at me fiercely. He seemed to be trying to find out if I was lying or not.

The first thing I learned as a spy was to never be shaken by others and to hold a calm face.

Hae Ack-chun, who was staring at me, said.

“Huh! Well, there is a limit for you. And there are still loopholes in there.”

Of course, there were.

I had left behind those weak points on purpose. It wasn’t something I did myself, but it was advice from Iron Sword.

“Of course, if it is by the elder, then it will be perfect execution.”

“Put away those sleazy words.”

“But you must know?”

“What?”

“Elder taught me this sword technique and made me act like a proxy.”

“What was that?”

“Then, would the original person who left the sword technique and the elder not notice and think of the loopholes? I don’t know, but wouldn’t you have had the chance to develop it?”

‘…!’

Hearing this, his expression changed. His eyes trembled in confusion.

Tak!

“Ah?”

Hae Ack-chun lets go of the hand holding my collar, and I land on the ground.

Grunt.

The sound of teeth grinding together. The old man’s expression changed through myriad emotions, and, after a moment, I stepped back as he screamed.

“South Heavenlyyyyy!!!”

Bang!

With his roar, the ground around us trembled, and the snow flew up.

It was a tremendous power. The snow got scattered around and disappeared. There were also cracks in the ground.

‘What a monster.’

He was strong enough to make people bite their tongues. Hae Ack-chun expressed his anger as he yelled out loud. The feeling of despair on his face was clearly seen.

“Phew.”

However, his expression returned to normal. Hae Ack-chun looked at me and said,

“This is invalid. You didn’t win.”

Ha! What is this outcome?

Realizing that he could never defeat the South Heavenly Swordsman, he took his anger out on me.

“You could have known if you saw it. If you had waited till the end, I would have won.”

One could tell by looking at Song Jwa-baek, who was being supported by his twin.

He didn’t seem to be in good condition. If he tried to endure this more, his life would be in danger. Knowing that the old man had intervened.

“I don’t know.”

Was he going to do this? Then even I can act like an invalid judge.

“… you are really drawing this out.”

“What?”

“Honestly, do you think this was a fair match?”

“I learned every technique the old man told me, and you told your disciple about the weakness in my techniques, gave him a pill to eat, and made him strong. And even gave rare wrist guards to protect his hands.”

“….”

Hae Ack-chun didn’t say anything.

I kept pouring out the words which were pent up within me. If the man disagreed and tried to kill me, I would face my end here.

“What am I supposed to do in this situation? Do you mean that you won’t admit I won because you designed it so I would lose? A plan to kill me? Am I one of the elder’s punching bags?”

His face was turning red. It felt like his head was about to explode. It didn’t matter. I was prepared to die too.

“If it was fair, do you think he could have been my opponent? At least even if you didn’t give the pill, the match would have…”

It was then.

“Kuahahahah!”

Hae Ack-chun’s face was red, but then he burst into laughter. For a moment, I thought he had become so angry that he began to lose his mind.

But he smiled and then looked at Song Jwa-baek.

“Did I give you a pill?”

And the man who looked like he was dying on the ground said.

“… was it those little pills we were eating every evening?”

“Kuahaha! And that is a pill? Stupid idiot. If I had so many pills, why would I give them to you?”

“Yes?”

Not just Song Jwa-baek, even I couldn’t understand it. The old man laughed to the point of tears and said.

“Why do you think I have passed down my martial arts to people like you when I haven’t done this to my own descendants?”

“….?”

“It is because those idiots have the natural body to learn it.”

“What?”

“Those idiots have faster blood circulation within their body compared to others. The thing is, it helps build up internal qi quickly from the start.”

At that, Song Jwa-baek became puzzled.

“Uh? T-then what about the…”

“Until the True Blood Gold Body is perfected, the fast-flowing blood is poison. Therefore, before they can master it, they have to learn to control it. Otherwise, they will live short lives.”

I didn’t think something like this would happen.

I thought they were being given a pill, but I didn’t realize they had special bodies. Hae Ack-chun clicked his tongue.

“And weapon? Are you talking about this despite having that sword in your hand?”

“It is rusted….”

“It is just rusted. That iron sword is better than any other sword as it is made with cold iron.”

-Hmm… he is right.

Iron Sword said in a calm voice. For some reason, I felt angry when I heard Song Jwa-baek was given something.

“And you couldn’t win over the wrist guard despite that?”

“…”

Even if the two issues were ignored, it didn’t change that I have been at a disadvantage. However, unexpected words came out.

“Well, it is true that you were at a disadvantage. Kulkul.”

For a moment, I doubted my ears. This man admitted it?

“Like you, you cheeky bastard said, this match is made for a win for my side in the first place. You are just a punching bag to test things out.”

He was saying it. Am I wrong in speaking out?

“Nevertheless, he boldly went against me and almost won.”

It wasn’t just winning. I won it. Hae Ack-chun smiled.

“The contract is canceled.”

Man, he was an idiot till the end. My six months of hard work felt exhausting.

“… in the end, I was a disposable piece.”

“I will collect that disposable piece as a disciple of mine.”

‘…!?’

What did this crazy man just say?

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