Chapter 29 - First Strike (1)

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When Seol-Hwi chose to continue after death, he saw the world from outside his body. Right now he was experiencing the same thing—except from the bathroom ceiling instead of from the sky.

“Ahhhhhh!” Lee Byeok climbed out of the toilet and moved in. He must have been using some special technique, because it looked like his palms were on fire.

I’m not dying? Even when Lee Byeok attacked, his body was fine. His body was too stable—it must have been doing something.

“Ah—!”

AI-Seol-Hwi slapped a hand against the ground, using the motion to kick his foot out. Lee Byeok kept advancing even as his opponent dropped out of view. Seol-Hwi’s body took full advantage of it and his foot sent Lee Byeok flying straight through the door.

Huh, that’s… Seol-Hwi laughed. It was closer to jujutsu than martial arts, which is how Lee Byeok was put down with so little effort. Hmm. But why is it stopping?

Someone was coming out of the back door: a man wearing navy blue robes.

[Status]
Pyogam
[General Head of the Library]
Body normal
[Stats]
Health: 5,450/5,450
Internal Energy: 8,909/8,909
Combat Strength: 3,000

The strange man was quite young for his ability and position. If Seol-Hwi had encountered him before killing Shin Birang, he would have struggled quite a lot.

“You did this?”

Seol-Hwi’s face, covered in cuts and burns, remained still. It isn’t talking. The AI remained stoic.

“No point in questions,” Pyogam grunted.

As Pyogam approached, Seol-Hwi’s attention went back to his AI-controlled body. How would it deal with this man? Judging by the man’s combat power, he wasn’t an opponent the AI needed to be seriously worried about. There had to be something else about him—the sword he held, in particular. Seol-Hwi’s body was unarmed. He did know martial arts to deal with swordsmen, but changing his fighting style to fight bare-handed meant changing his breathing, footwork, and situational awareness.

It doesn’t matter though. I’m gonna win. Pyogam’s combat power was low and there were no extra variables. The real question was how the AI would defeat him. Watching himself from another person’s perspective had kindled his curiosity.

Pyogam approached, while the AI just stood there. When there was about 9 meters between them, the stillness broke.

Huh? I attacked first? That’s too reckless! Pyogam had a sword, and was no doubt skilled and experienced as well. It would be better to approach cautiously and evaluate the way he acts.

“Cheeky basta—!” Pyogam drew his sword in one clean movement; as expected, he wasn’t an easy opponent. As the AI rushed in, he found a gap and stabbed out at lightning fast speed. It seemed he’d calculated the shortest distance between the target and the sheath of his sword.

But it didn’t work. The movement looked perfect, but it didn’t hit.

He didn’t dodge. This is weird. If he had, the sword would have at least scratched Seol-Hwi’s body. Evidently the AI’s headfirst charge was a feint.

Wow… I almost died there. Seol-Hwi forgot that it was his body in battle for a moment. Still, there was nothing he could do. The AI was moving his body.

Damn it, why attack? Wait a bit longer! Rushing in made no sense if you were trying to fight a sword barehanded, unless there was some overwhelming difference in skills. Instead, you should attack only when the enemy’s concentration falters.

Don’t just run around… huh?

Did it know? The AI had hastily spun to the side while it was still about 3 meters away from Pyogam. Even then, Pyogam’s sword whipped from vertical to horizontal and left a fine scratch on Seol-Hwi’s cheek.

What is it thinking? Unless there was something the AI knew that Seol-Hwi didn’t, its plans were just making him anxious. He’s moving again!

The AI charged forward in the same direction.

“Are you looking down on me?” Pyogam’s face twisted. The man was clearly not taking his opponent lightly. “Ha!” He swung his sword even faster, but the AI dodged to the left before he could stab.

Pyogam’s sword followed, but not fast enough. The AI landed on the ground and snapped Seol-Hwi’s foot into Pyogam’s stomach, sending him staggering back. He kicked out again at dazzling speed; Pyogam couldn’t even hold his sword anymore, and the AI finished him off by smashing a fist into his face. Pyogam knelt on the ground, at his mercy.

<How will you handle Pyogam?>
▶ Kill
▷ Stun

Seol-Hwi chose to kill him.

<Continuing>

The AI snapped his neck and he died.

“Ah…” Seol-Hwi groaned—not because the enemy was defeated, but because the display of tricks and skill were beyond what Seol-Hwi had expected.

<AI intervention is over.>
- Results will only be shown once.
[Results] (New)
Seol-Hwi: Alive
Lee Byeok: Dead
Pyogam: Dead
[Calculations] (New)
Seol-Hwi
[Flying Squad Leader]
Body normal
No damage taken
Health: 20,548(↓12)/20,560
Internal Energy: 21,000/21,000

Killing the man only took 12 points of health, and his internal energy didn’t even go down a single point. Winning or losing was one thing, but he won without a scratch or an iota of internal energy.


“Ah.” Seol-Hwi’s body stiffened like a statue. He started blinking, and then his vision was combined. The third-person PoV had switched to Seol-Hwi’s eyes. He clenched his fist and watched it move just to be sure.

Seol-Hwi lifted his head to examine the glowing text.

Combat Type <AI>

Two people taken down at the cost of only 12 health. He never thought about fighting like that. Putting both hands on the floor and kicking upwards? Never tried it.

“If it was me… I never would have been able to do it.” No matter how the fight went, losing health and internal energy was unavoidable—especially when he was fighting an opponent with a sword while unarmed. Seol-Hwi’s curiosity burned.

“How far did it think ahead?” It wasn’t like it was a fortune teller, but the AI had its steps planned ahead of time. There was no other explanation for the low consumption of his stats.

“I think I need more fights. A few more…” He wanted to know everything about the AI. “...Wait.” Seol-Hwi spun around.

“Hey, bastard—!” He ran over to Lee Byeok. “Hey, you aren’t dead, right? Hey… open your eyes. Open your damn eyes…” He still had a lot of agony to repay… but Lee Byeok didn’t open his eyes. His mouth was foaming and his body was stiff as stone.

“What is this…?! Open them, open your eyes, you bastard!”


Seol-Hwi abandoned the bodies.

“Even if they find out, I don’t need to worry. I’ll leave this place soon.” He dug a rough grave and then peeked up at the sun to check the time.

About 9 AM. The traitor should come around noon, so there was some time left. Seol-Hwi went down to the basement again to meet him.

He looked into the mirror he grabbed from Lee Byeok’s room yesterday.

Coins: 2 [Two chances]

“I have two lives again.” That was extremely valuable to Seol-Hwi. “Now I need to kill Goeun and move towards a better life.”

There were two reasons for entering the martial arts test: one, to become strong; two, to win the Earth Demon’s trust. Being strong was important, and winning the Fourth Disciple’s heart would help him in the future.

“Now, I need to prepare properly.”

[Toolbox]
<Healing>
Golden Potion x5
Iron Blood Poison Detox x1
<Pills>
Full-Body Recovery Pill x1
<Equipment>
[Weapons] Martial Spirit Blade x1
[Weapons] Moon-Scented Dagger x1
[Armor] Silver Arm Guards x1
[Armor] High-Grade Armor x1
[Armor] Wisdom King’s War Clothes x1
<Seconday Weapon>
White Soul Bomb x1
<Unattained>
Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts (Wind)
<Miscellaneous>
Understanding Swordsmanship [Book]
Island Treasure Map (7/7)
Body Test Map x1

Seol-Hwi felt quite proud of himself.

“I’ve collected quite a lot.”

[Would you like to put on the Silver Arm Guards?]

He slipped them on without a thought and then reached for Understanding Swordsmanship.

[Would you like to use Understanding Swordsmanship?]
[Understanding Swordsmanship: Your understanding will increase.]
<Skill level has risen.>

That was good news.

[Peak Flourishing Demonic Martial Arts] Explosive Flaming Force
Beginner → Basic

Seol-Hwi went to look at his other martial arts.

<White Light Demonic Martial Arts> Basic
<Fiery Bare-Handed Demonic Martial Arts> Basic
<Peak Flourishing Demonic Martial Arts> Basic

Everything was “basic.”

[Status]
Seol-Hwi
[Flying Squad leader]
Coins: 2 [Two chances]
Body normal.
[Stats]
Health: 20,548/20,560
Internal Energy: 21,000/21,000
Combat Strength: 90,000
[Equipment]
Weapon: Common Sword
Armor: Silver Arm Guards

“Everything is ready.”

One last thing.

Combat Type <AI>
Combat Type <Turn Based>

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