Shin Bi-Rang was definitely strong. Seol-Hwi had to wear him down to kill him.
“What a dog-like situation!”
The resistance just before Seol-Hwi had killed him was particularly dangerous—he’d almost killed Seol-Hwi in turn.
Seol-Hwi was smiling, but his hands and feet were shaking. Would you call it cognitive dissonance? Shin Bi-Rang’s swordsmanship, defense, and counter attacks were superior to his own. All he could say was that he got lucky.
His eyes lit up. Finally!
Really, the Heavenly Dragon Pill!
It wasn’t a dream. His health and internal energy could be increased by 10,000—or more! Even the strongest people would want this pill.
His health and internal energy were hitting the floor. In this state, even the weak could take him on. But it didn’t have to be; now he had the Heavenly Dragon Pill.
Still, it was dangerous. Seol-Hwi wiped the sweat from his brow and looked around; he knew he had to get out of here first. He could take stock and analyze the fight later.
All items except the bamboo plates were sucked into the Toolbox before Seol-Hwi could lay hands on them.
“What is this?” He was curious about this “sequence chart” and the Full-Body Quick Recovery Pill.
Comprehension dawned. This has to be it! The sequence chart for tests, proving that Body was the final test.
Didn’t that mean that the ones here could leave?
“What about this?”
“This is a test reward!”
So the bamboo plates were probably from those who had failed in the other tests, but he couldn’t tell which test they had come from.
“Huh? You killed Shin Birang?”
Shit! Why was he so careless? Seol-Hwi reflexively spun around, hefting his sword.
A woman smiled back at him. “I don’t think he was killed by surprise…”
Ah! Seol-Hwi went stiff with surprise.
He was speechless—her fatal beauty made him forget everything.
“Incredible. I didn’t think there would be such a talented person here.”
Seol-Hwi couldn’t respond. It felt like everything about her was mysterious. Despite wearing clothes that fully covered her skin, it felt like she was wearing a fine gown. Her pale white skin, delicate eyebrows and hair curling under her ears—and the big eyes she stared at him with.
“Excuse me…” The woman tilted her head at the dumbfounded man and smiled. “Supreme Pavilion member, you won’t be able to survive here like that. Still, I’d love to see you again, since you’re a master capable of killing Shin Birang. But I am busy, so…”
The woman walked away, with Seol-Hwi’s eyes locked on her back. Some would call him stupid, but there was really nothing he could do.
She was stronger than Shin Birang. Seol-Hwi didn’t dare pursue her.
Seol-Hwi was hiding in a sugar cane field. As they say, stealth always depends on your hiding place. Seol-Hwi came here based on the memories of his previous life; if he lurk dhere, he’d be able to pass the test.
What is the best method? Thinking about it was confusing him.
He had two more lives: the present, and the one after death. Seol-Hwi had decided which one mattered more.
Seol-Hwi opened the toolbox and considered two of the pills, the Full-Body Quick Recovery Pill and the Heavenly Dragon Pill.
Do I use all of them, or wait?
The first one would restore his health and internal energy, while the other would increase them. He would even surpass Shin Birang—but what if something happened, like a great master appearing, or someone attacking Seol-Hwi, and he’s unable to pass the test?
Then it would go to waste. He wouldn’t pass this, and he wouldn’t surpass Shin Birang.
Should I wait, in the end?
The people who had arrived at dawn would know that someone had taken the treasures by now, and they would be on the lookout. Seol-Hwi would have to fight his way past them.
But how did it go in the past?
After his time here, he’d gone back to the entrance. They hadn’t told him anything.
First, maybe I should put the Demonic Combat Arm Guard in the Toolbox. It was the best thing he’d acquired from here; a must-have item that could save him in a crisis. It wasn’t well-suited for him, a swordsman, but it would be useful.
The Eight Emperors full-body armor was in tatters. He thought about using the short sword, but stopped. The short sword didn’t have any abilities.
Huh? Seol-Hwi tapped at the Toolbox, but it didn’t respond. Why isn’t the Toolbox opening?
An itching feeling made him turn his head.
A man waved a bloody wind with his weapon.
“Is someone hiding here?”
He had thick eyebrows and red gloves on his crossed arms. His booted feet danced surreal over the leaves, almost like he was floating.
Damn it. It was no wonder he couldn’t open the Toolbox; his life was in danger. As long as his opponent was hostile, a fight was unavoidable.
He was similar to Shin Birang. However, the difference between his status and Seol-Hwi’s current status was huge.
“Why bother using your head so much?” Go Wol kicked off the leaves and sailed through the air. He wielded his absurdly oversized blade with a casual ease.
Yeah. When you die, you die—so why not strike first?
Seol-Hwi clenched his hand around the short sword.
White Light Demonic Arts, the same technique that had helped him follow the movements of Shin Birang. He had increased to a Basic mastery, allowing him to react faster than before.
“Haaaa!” Seol-Hwi leapt forward before the man could finish speaking.
He tried to attack first, but he was met with the Status Window before he could even swing. Was the skill gap so great?
Seol-Hwi ran towards Go Wol, but the man’s strange actions made him flinch. He lifted up his foot and brought it down—and something new happened.
It was a martial art Seol-Hwi had never experienced: the Thousand Shadows Eight-Legged Movement. Go Wol’s leg bent like a snake, striking Seol-Hwi in the chest. Seol-Hwi folded in half and fell to the ground.
As soon as Go Wol’s foot met the ground again, he kicked Seol-Hwi in the head. It didn’t end there: he hit Seol-Hwi on the back with his heel.
Seol-Hwi bit his lip through the terrible pain. It was awful, almost making him want to die.
“What are you going to do?” Go Wol examined the groaning man. Even half conscious, Seol-Hwi had kept his grip on the sword. Go Wol crushed Seol-Hwi’s hand under his heel, tearing a scream from his mouth.
“A guy like you is just food for my growth.” He pulled Seol-Hwi up by his hair, waving him around. “If I want to step on you, you get stepped on. If I want to kill, you die.”
Seol-Hwi could only listen helplessly. He had no strength to resist.
On the verge of death, he thought “Why did he want to be strong?” Why, even though he was still being trampled after everything he’d done?
Right. Now I know.
If he didn’t become strong, he’d die. He’d be someone else’s stepping stone forever.
Seol-Hwi stared blankly at it. It had to be wrong, surely. His health and internal energy were at rock bottom and his right hand was crippled beyond use—rather than killing his enemy, touching the enemy would hurt Seol-Hwi.
It wasn’t a meaningful choice, he just chose something.
“A guy like you is just food for my growth.”
Seol-Hwi felt compelled to do something about the humiliating insults.
He gripped his sword, because it was all he could do.
“If I want to step on you, you get stepped on. If I want to kill, you die.”
All at once, his anger, frustration, and pain was blown away. He’d searched furiously for a solution, but here it was.
Motes of light like fireflies flowed towards the tip of the sword, gradually taking on the form of true energy. Seol-Hwi struck out, dancing on a wave of epiphany.
“Ack!” Go Wol coughed up blood and staggered back, falling onto his back disbelievingly. His stomach—it was too much.
The “Great Sword” didn’t harm just his health.
It even stole his enemy’s internal energy.
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