“So you just ran?”
I nodded my head in response to Hae Ack-chun’s question.
Fortunately, we were staying in the dorm and he was around so I could inform him about Baek Hye-hyang being here.
Actually, she didn’t just let me leave.
As we were leaving, she sent me a message that gave me a horrifying feeling.
[Even if you leave now, you will soon be under me.]
It was confusing and shocking.
But I couldn’t simply convey those words to Hae Ack-chun. So I just let them know that she wanted me.
And that it didn’t matter.
“So she is also aiming for it.”
The problem was that she also wanted the Blood Demon Sword.
Hae Ack-chun clicked his tongue, probably because of her daring talk. This seemed like the worst variable.
“What do you think?”
“… if Lady Baek Hye-hyang is participating then it will be more difficult to win.”
After a brief fight with her, I knew. She was too strong for her age.
Hae Ack-chun once told me that it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Baek Hye-hyang was so talented in martial arts that she was known to exceed the normal standards of geniuses.
Hae Ack-chun who was fiddling with his beard said,
“The Lady might not be coming out to spar.”
“Her pride will not allow her to compete at this point, this is a tournament run by the Forces of Justice.”
Hearing that, it did make some sense.
As Hae Ack-chun said, she was someone aiming to be the next sect leader. It wasn’t appropriate for someone who aimed that high to be participating here and to be evaluated by people they didn’t like.
Even if her age was close to the contestants it didn’t matter.
“After all, it will be a problem.”
Hae Ack-chun clicked his tongue.
She, too, was born from the Blood Demon so he couldn’t hate her. But this made it more difficult to steal the Blood Demon Sword from her.
Luckily, even if the Blood Demon Sword was taken, the other side would still have to deal with the problem of handling both the sword and taking Baek Hye-hyang back safely.
“What would you like to do?”
It all came down to the same thing.
Right now she looked determined to aim for me and all her plans could get taken down with the Blood Demon Sword being stolen.
Hae Ack-chun who was thinking, finally came to a conclusion,
“Change of plans.”
Originally, Hae Ack-chun was supposed to be waiting on the outskirts of the Alliance compound.
However, the plan had been changed due to the variable called, “Baek Hye-hyang.”
They cannot simply go inside so they decided to wait outside. This was a given, since one didn’t know when the situation might change.
Hae Ack-chun made two requests,
[If the lady aims for you again, do not delay and run right away or maybe shout. I will come there.]
Hae Ack-chun decided that I could not face her with my strength. Of course, I couldn’t deny that.
Even when I opened my mid dantian I felt so intimidated by her killing intent.
[When moving around, do so in three-person groups.]
This was a bit inconvenient but he was right.
It would be easier to deal with an enemy if we moved as three than if we moved independently. I was fine with Sima Young and Cho Sung-won following along, and they were already beside themselves with the boredom of waiting inside.
I had to enter the forge to do my work, so they could just look around the village. The village was huge, so they could move wherever they wanted.
The roasted duck I had yesterday was delicious so they could eat that too.
Three days passed like that and Baek Hye-hyang hadn’t appeared again. But none of us were careless.
On the fourth day, I had turned seventy-five swords to powder, and seeing their memories, I comforted each one.
More than seventy-five techniques.
Now, I had a strong understanding of Bae Hyang-muk’s technique, it was now deeply engraved within my mind, that I could even possibly use it.
The unfortunate part was I wasn’t sure how to use qi in tandem with this technique, but I could maybe perform half the technique.
If I could grow a little higher, I would know how to manage my internal qi and perform it correctly. For now, this was my limit.
‘Is this it?’
It wasn’t right to overdo anything.
One could practice in succession, and one might even see results, but they also end up with even greater exhaustion.
As I looked at the other swords, I suddenly had a thought,
‘I might be able to perform the sixth form of the Xing Ming Sword now, right?’
I had seen the memories of these swords more than seventy-five times now, I wasn’t sure how many times I had seen these different yet same memories in these last four days, so I should have reached another awakening.
‘… maybe I wasn’t conscious of it.’
I felt ready enough.
I closed my eyes and focused on my innate qi for a moment. And slowly I raised this qi to the fifth level…
Breathe in and out and lift the qi.
At that moment, the wooden board under my feet cracked.
This was called intimidation.
Iron Sword told me that if I trained enough, then my qi could be formed into a sharp sword that could not be seen.
I reached out with what I felt to be a form of qi and threw it at a wooden pole.
A sharp scar formed on it as if a sword had cut through it.
Without realizing I smiled at this. I had finally touched the sixth level of qi.
Taking a break, I continued to watch the sword dance of Baek Hyang-muk, and finally, enlightenment struck. It was a step into the Super Master Realm.
‘Maybe it will be possible now.’
The seven forms of the Xing Ming sword techniques were known to only be possible at a higher level. Because it was a sword technique that needed one to ascend higher, it wasn’t something I could perform when I wanted.
I did think about trying it, but then I realized I would make the forge a mess.
This felt so different. Finally, I had reached the level that Iron Sword had been struggling to teach me.
And this was only the start. If I continued to train, then maybe, just maybe I could reach the level of the Iron Sword’s former master.
A knocking sound came from within the forge. As I crossed over the heated forge, a man hammering a sword could be seen. Iron Sword had his rust removed the day before, and the man was currently in the process of correcting his form.
The sound of Iron Sword breathing heavily. He seemed to like it very much.
-… brat, I like this too much
That was all.
Despite hearing such things for a long time, I still felt goosebumps rise. However, after this, Iron Sword would be reborn.
Seeing the faint light shining from the red-hot sword, I knew it would be the most treasured sword.
‘Will this be done tomorrow?’
One more day.
After taking back Iron Sword tomorrow, I would have to enter the Murim Alliance compound. That was when my mission would start.
Today’s quota was met and I had made a couple of achievements, so now I need to meet with Sima Young and Cho Sung-won.
Entering the guest house in the middle of the village showed just how popular it was with the number of bustling customers.
From the entrance, the unique octagonal-sided house with meat all around stimulated the nose.
I was already salivating.
“Finally we get to eat.”
“The dongpo pork!”
“They say that it is fine to die after having this!”
“Then the vice commander will pick you up and take you home.”
“Eh. Then I will fall down in peace.”
Whether or not they had hunger pangs, Sima Young and Cho Sung-won were a match when it came to banter over food.
The two of them looked excited as I moved in and a young server greeted us,
“Are you the ones who came 2 days ago?”
The good-looking guy recognized us. He chuckled and gave us directions telling us to follow him.
When we asked for a good place, he took us to a window seat with a view of the village.
I gave him a coin. And his mouth smiled widely,
“The other is Dongpo pork?”
“You can hear from their words.”
Sima Young excitedly spoke.
After the server went down we all watched the others who were eating. Even though it wasn’t something we ordered, we felt satisfied watching them eat.
And the dongpo pork was a disk of boiled and stir-fried pork which had an amazing texture over it.
It was delicious and wouldn’t one be happy seeing others enjoy it too?
Short Sword called to me and I think I knew why.
Five to six warriors had entered the guest house and they looked to be quite strong.
It was easy to recognize them.
‘Is it because of the two?’
The moment I heard the metal sound of the two people with swords I could feel their strong presence.
Since another constellation had opened up, my sense of swords had also gotten stronger and I could tell how great the sword was too.
Sima Young, who was also watching the others eat, turned away. She too had noticed them.
Shortly after, six people climbed up to the second floor.
I recognized them at a glance.
The three men and women were people belonging to the Mount Hunan sect, and the other three were of the Sichuan Tang and Qingcheng sect.
Somehow we had managed to find where they were staying before even joining the Murim Alliance.
-It must be them.
My eyes turned to the Qingcheng sect warriors. The swordsman from the Qingcheng sect had long drooping eyebrows and was called Chung Myung, and he was also called the First Sword.
And then there was Hyun Jin, a warrior of the Jeonjin Sect who was known to be excellent when it came to control. And the swords these two people were holding were famous swords of their sects.
‘As expected of the people on the side of justice.’
In my memory, these were pretty decent places, and like most members of these sects, they had no self-interest and would focus on training.
But these good people had entered with other kinds of people.
And their seat was placed right next to us. Those three others, Do Il-chan, Jo Kang, and Kang Hye-so who So Jang-yoon was attached to.
Of course, they were the ones who knew my title better than anyone else.
Do Il-chan’s older brother, Do Kyung-wook, came to our table,
“Yah. Isn’t this the trash of Yulang county?”
It was more of a sarcastic remark than an actual greeting. Another man approached me too.
-Guess they haven’t heard the new rumors then?
It seemed to be so, if not they would have had So Jang-yoon be the representative of their group. When I moved from the Ikyang So family, it was natural for them to know I was coming to Wuhan.
Yet, it seemed like they pretended not to know,
“It is nice to see you here. It has been so long, So.”
Still, the trash of Yulang county couldn’t fight back.
In the past he would have outright called me trash, but he couldn’t do it this time, maybe because was conscious of the people that had come with him.
“It seems like this is someone you know?”
Two people had come up to talk to me, so Chung Myung of the Qingcheng sect asked in interest.
At that one of them smiled,
“Do you remember what I had said before? The friend who got kicked from the Ikyang So family.”
An audible whisper which made Sima Young’s eyes change. Things would dissolve into a mess if she decided to act out, so I decided to intervene.
“Aren’t you disciple Chung Myung of the Qingcheng sect?”
Chung Myung looked puzzled, and bowed,
“I am Chung Myung. Does the Young Master know me?”
“How can I not know you? It is more weird to not know about the divine-born disciple Chung Myung of the Qingcheng sect.”
It was said that praises could make even whales fly.
Chung Myung smiled at this and as I thought, he was a person with a kind heart.
We greeted each other.
“I would also like to extend my greetings to disciples Hyun Jin and Tang Hyehwa of the Sichuan Tang family. I am So Wonhui, the third son of the Ikyang So family. It is an honor to meet such famous people.”
The man and women were shocked at my words.
“You are the young master of the Ikyang So family. I am Tang Hyehwa of the Tang family.”
“I am Hyun Jin of the Jeonjin sect.”
The importance of greetings. Recognizing the opponent first and greeting them could increase your impression on them.
What? Did you think I didn’t know them? I know them a lot better than you.
The expressions of Do Il-chan and Jo Ik changed. I guess they couldn’t take the lead anymore.
Unable to stand it, Jo Ik tried to say something but then I patted him on the shoulder
“Long time no see, Jo hyung.”
I smiled as if I was happy to see him.
And he tried to shake off my arm
“When were we this clo…”
But before he could shake off the hand, my wrist was around his neck and clenched.
Because of the qi I was using on his neck, his body went stiff. If he moved even a little in the wrong direction, his neck would break.
His eyes trembled as he looked at me and I said,
[Smile. I do not want your neck to be broken before the tournament.]
As the strength was being clenched, he forced his lips to a smile. And I smiled back too
“It is nice to see people from the east side coming this far.”
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