What the hell could this mean? The text from when he was dying had appeared once again—but the choices were different.
Has time frozen? Such thoughts were inevitable. Both pavilion masters stared at him like stone statues; not only did their movements stop, even their eyes were locked in place. He Seol-Hwi couldn’t move his body either.
No, not everything stopped. In the corner, something flicked in and out of vision.
He’d seen this before. He was sure these characters were from the <Language Reference> he saw when he woke up.
Five, four? This is… Seol-Hwi peered at the characters. Intuitively, he realized that the characters in the corner were numbers and time—and they were counting down.
The numbers continued to drop, as if demanding he make a choice.
Seol-Hwi frantically reread his options. One choice caught his eye: it seemed as if the words he’d said to the old men in the past were an option.
▷ [Receive another mission]
▶ [Cut off your right arm]
What the hell could… Seol-Hwi was thoroughly confused, but he knew two things for certain:
1. He was almost of out time to choose, and
2. He had to avoid getting his arm cut off.
He certainly didn’t want to approach an unknown future without an arm.
In the end, his gaze settled on the second option.
—And time resumed.
The darkened surroundings brightened with a flash, and the old men were moving once again.
Wow… Seol-Hwi clapped his hand over his mouth, but he couldn’t stop what he’d said before the choices appeared.
“Tch tch.” Seeing his actions, the fat man clicked his tongue and stroked his long beard.
“You want another mission? Why?” Those words brought Seol-Hwi back to reality. In an instant, his body was surrounded by an energy that crushed the breath from his lungs.
The Flame Demonic Arts, better known as the bone-melting flame qi skills.
“I didn’t even tell you what kind of mission it was, and you’re so arrogant as to ask me for a different one?”
Seol-Hwi couldn’t answer—he simply had no reply to offer, so he remained silent.
“Huk!” Seol-Hwi shuddered. A straight blade hovered before his throat – had Sama Gwi spoken a little later, it would have pierced his neck.
Black Secret… She was a vessel who protected Sama Gwi; a hundred people like Seol-Hwi wouldn’t even be able to lay a hand on her.
“We will hear him out and decide.”
The woman withdrew her blade.
“Please don’t get me wrong. Master, when I said I wanted a different mission it didn’t mean I objected to your choice.”
“I recently heard a rumor that the Mount Hua Sect is gathering near the borders of Lanzhou. Hasn’t My Lord always said that eliminating the Mount Hua Sect was our sect’s long cherished goal?”
That was a promising reaction.
“I want to take that chance! My squad specializes in recon and diversions. If we know when our warriors will be ready, we can move accordingly.”
Scouting was good; with his skills he was dead the moment the enemy discovered him. That was what happened in the past when he met the warrior of Mount Hua Sect, wasn’t it? He was dead meat. Unfortunately he knew the pavilion master would have killed him if he tried to take a different mission.
Will this be okay? Seol-Hwi warily raised his eyes. If things didn’t go as he remembered, they’d cut him down where he kneeled.
Sama Gwi didn’t answer – it was the fat man who spoke.
“Huhuhu. It seems the information has leaked from the Eagle Sky Pavilion. Otherwise, how would a squad leader know about it?”
Right. Seol-Hwi’s eyes widened. It wasn’t just his intuition: Eagle Sky Pavilion was one of the higher-ranking pavilions, and was responsible for intelligence gathering. That meant his reasoning checked out.
“Interesting. Well, I was about to give you a mission – but would you be able to handle this?”
The constricting energy disappeared, but Seol-Hwi’s gaze was somewhere else.
That thing is back…
This time he didn’t say anything out loud
Life… addition… four. He knows the “+” character as “10” 1, but in this text it meant “addition” – he was sure of it. This was clearly something he had to know.
Life, addition, four.
He wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed to be related to him.
Very closely related.
After leaving the office, Seol-Hwi was walking down a narrow road through the gloomy evening. This road ran through the north side and ended at the dorms where his squad ate and slept.
As said, the sect’s vice lord himself will act. Before that, we need someone to scout the land. Examine the people and topography, then report back.
The mission was exactly the same as he remembered: “Investigate the land and report back.” The lies rolled off Sama Gwi’s tongue so naturally.
Right. No one is coming for the report. Never mind the vice lord, not a single captain would appear. He tried his best just to die in vain.
“Going on a big mission this time… Need to be careful. So why were we near the Supreme Pavilion…:
Seol-Hwi’s gaze settled on a person perched on the decorative rocks in the artificial pond, giggling and smiling.
Chik San. A member of the Black Moon – wherever Jeok-Myung was, Chik San would not be far. His arms and legs were left exposed, probably to show off his muscles.
“Ah, did I interrupt you while you were talking to yourself? Sorry. Well, I couldn’t help myself when I heard you. Hehehe.”
Seol-Hwi was unperturbed. Black Moon’s sarcastic attitude was the norm—they mimicked their squad leader. Well, it could have been an order from the Master of the Supreme Pavilion, too. But it didn’t matter.
“Look here.” Seol-Hwi called out to Chik San.
“What? Do you have something to say?”
He was sure he’d met this guy in the same spot last time. He’d just ignored him because he was scared of what Jeok-Myung might do in reply.
“I have something to check.”
This time he wouldn’t let it go.
The words floated above Chik San’s head. Maybe this time he could find a clue.
“What do you want?” Chik San paced towards Seol-Hwi. Step. Step. One foot in front of the other. But in the middle of his step, his face contorted.
Seol-Hwi’s whipped into motion. Confused, Chik San snatched his sword from his waist.
Their swords clashed several times, but Chik San’s sword trembled.
“Too late, you bastard!”
And that was that. Seol-Hwi’s sword was half a breath quicker, and stabbed into Chik-San’s heart.
Chik San desperately groped at the sword piercing his chest; his eyes were wide and trembling with disbelief.
“Why were you watching the office?” Seol-Hwi pushed the sword a little deeper. “I was hoping to find something in there. I want to get stronger, but I couldn’t find anything no matter how much I searched!”
“Fuck, this fucking place throws a third-rate martial artist in and tells me to get strong on my own. You want to go where I went? Well, it’s less embarrassing since the start is the same.”
“Don’t be too shocked. I’ll follow you soon.” If things went according to his memory, Seol-Hwi would die soon. But before that happened, he had something he needed to do.
He withdrew his sword and Chik San’s body sank to the ground. Crimson blood stained the ground around the corpse.
Seol-Hwi’s eyes narrowed. Something had changed: with Chik San’s death, the words above his head had disappeared.
Seol-Hwi took a step back and hefted his sword.
Life, addition, one.
He thought the man might come back to life before his very eyes.
But nothing happened.
“...Uh?” Seol-Hwi peered into the placid pond. “What is this?”
Reflected in the pond, he could see the first words over his own head.
There was a word that had no meaning in this world.
It was “Coin”.
In Hanja ↩️
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