Chapter 37 - If you want to live, think (3)

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To be honest, he did want to defeat the Earth Demon, although he was concerned about the consequences.

[Lives +10]

He’d never had a chance to get so many lives before. Even if he made the wrong choice, ten lives was a huge reward.

But first, I need to live. He didn’t choose the adventure—actually it wasn’t an adventure, it was just madness. Seol-Hwi knew perfectly well how hard it was to overcome the difference in strength.

Running away wasn’t even worth considering. He might get away, but where would he hide?

<You have selected “Convince the Earth Demon.”>

Seol-Hwi clutched his chest—the tension was getting to him. The Earth Demon was angry, but he hadn’t killed him yet. Resolving this with words was still a possibility.

“Are you going to make excuses?”

Seol-Hwi could understand why the Earth Demon was acting this way. He may look fine on the surface, but inside he was grappling with doubt and distrust.

The Four Peak Demonic Martial Arts… Seol-Hwi closed his eyes and thought carefully.

Demonic arts are martial arts… and martial arts are a collection of movements and inexplicable epiphanies. Essentially, it was almost impossible to discern why a martial art used a particular technique, much less put it into writing. Seol-Hwi’s performance, however, was different.

Ah! Seol-Hwi realized he knew a demonic art with similar movements. It was actually completely different, but the way they dealt with energy was the same in a broad sense.

“Still looking for excuses?”

“Would you like to see?” Seol-Hwi tossed his sword onto the ground, drawing a puzzled frown from the Earth Demon.

The maximum power of the White Palm Demonic Arts is in its tenth level, Seol-Hwi thought to himself.. In theory, the tenth level was the ultimate form of the White Palm Arts. The ninth level was already extremely powerful.

“Nnnnn…” Seol-Hwi’s face twisted as cold air began to slip from between his fingers, but not because of the temperature. His blood flow and internal energy were still in chaos—using this skill when he’d only recently recovered, and with no preparation, was a grueling task.

“Hah!” He slammed his aching palm into the ground.

A strong wind churned the air around him, savaging the ground with countless blades of ice. It wasn’t anything like the White Light Demonic Martial Arts he used to know—even the Earth Demon was speechless. The cold lingering on Seol-Hwi’s fingers wasn’t something many people in the sect could create.

“If the wind of the Four Peaks Martial Arts is created by burning Yang energy, the White Palm Demonic Martial Arts pulls in Yin energy to create cold. The breathing and the method of generation is different, but they pursue the target in the same manner; more importantly, at their ultimate level, the entire dantian is used, not just the lower regions.”

“So you were a disciple of the Cold Iron Witch?”

…What’s this now?

“Right… Something felt off from the very beginning, even the way you sniffed out Gouen. Then you found the secret martial arts and learned it…” The Earth Demon examined Seol-Hwi. “Are you really the Cold Iron Witch’s disciple?”

Seol-Hwi eyed the words over the Earth Demon’s head warily.

<Borderline Personality Disorder>

He craved trust but didn’t have the confidence to feel assured, but was weak to the smallest kindnesses.

Ah, whatever. The Cold Iron Witch was his master from now on.

“Right. I am Seol-Hwi, Cheon Mi-Ryeon’s disciple.”

“Oh… I’m sorry.” The distrust faded from the Earth Demon’s face. “You must have been trying to hide it, but I kept pressing you. But the Master is still in closed-room training? I am new, so I know very few people in the sect.”

Closed room training? Seol-Hwi had no idea what he was talking about, so he just made up lies. He was good at lying.

“Yes. The last time I saw Master was ten years ago when my Master left me alone and went to grow. We haven’t met since.”

“...Well, it happens, I suppose. Your Master is famous for being cold-hearted, isn’t she? I understand.” He seemed satisfied. “Right. The Heavenly Night Pavilion Lord has never intervened in such matters. It was always done behind the scenes.”

Seol-Hwi could finally breathe easy. Things had gone remarkably smoothly.

“So, from now on I’m thinking of putting you in the Hidden Truth Squad.”

“The Hidden Truth Squad…?”

“Yes.”

The Hidden Truth Squad was one of the Earth Demon’s core units. They specialized in tracking and concealment, and were frequently tasked with taking out certain enemies. Their training was harsh, but would certainly make you stronger and more efficient.

Finally, Seol-Hwi got what he wanted.

“Excellent.”

<You have completed “Becoming a Core Warrior.”>

He’d really done it.

<Total accumulated stats>
Health: 110k
Internal Energy: 110k
Combat Power: 400k
Martial Arts: White Palm Demonic Martial Arts, Fiery Bare-Handed Demonic Martial Arts, Peak Flourishing Martial Arts, Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts
Toolbox: Golden Potion…
<Score: 3 lives added.>

Three lives!

<“Simulation” combat style is now available.>
<You may change combat styles during battle. EX: changing from Turn-Based to AI to Simulation. However, it is impossible to change from Turn-Based to AI and then back to Turn-Based.>
<In the Simulation combat style, higher levels allows you to use more weapons and equates to a higher advantage.>
<Similar to the AI style, you cannot see the enemy’s stats.>
<Simulation is single-target; when facing multiple enemies, calculations are performed for the strongest opponent.>
Combat Type: <Turn-Based>

In this mode, time stopped; he could attack, defend, and use the Toolbox.

Combat Type: <AI>

His body was controlled by something else, with incredible results.

Combat Type: <Simulation>

He couldn’t see the enemy’s stats in this mode, apparently.

There was one more thing at the end of the messages.

<Tip>
If you’re not satisfied with your life so far, try a higher difficulty.
EX: Three Choices from the Earth Demon.

“I’m going to be away for work for a while, so stay here until I come back.”

WIth that, the Earth Demon had left. Seol-Hwi wondered what he was doing, but he didn’t ask.

“Hah….” He flopped down in his room and sighed. Everything felt like a dream.

Death and reincarnation, tests and battles, the desire to grow stronger and losing it as he made choices.

And yet he hadn’t given up. He had to get stronger. He wasn’t happy about taking orders from people, but he would do it until he reached the top—and escaped this hell.

Coins: 4 [Four chances]

Seeing the extra three lives didn’t cheer him up. He knew how difficult his path would be.

“First, I should sleep.”

Seol-Hwi cleared his mind. Anxious thoughts would only make him weaker; it was better to sleep and wake up with a fresh mind.


The first thing Seol-Hwi saw when he woke up was his Toolbox.

[Toolbox]
<Healing>
Golden Potion x5
<Pills>
Full-Body Quick Recovery Pill x1
<Equipment>
[Armor] High-Grade Armor x1
<Miscellaneous>
Island Treasure Map (7/7)
Body Test Map x1

The Toolbox had two functions. One, to immediately apply items; pills and healing items would be consumed, and equipment would be donned. The other was to show the items to him—maps, and other things.

“Lives are Coins. Insight is a higher level of martial arts and love—”

Love? What?

“I dunno. Let’s just practice.” Seol-Hwi got changed.

“Did you sleep well?” The Earth Demon opened the door. Evidently he’s taken care of his work already.

“Yes.”

“Then come out.”

Seol-Hwi followed the Earth Demon and discovered a middle-aged man with his arms crossed.

[Status]
Heukgu
[Hidden Truth Squad Leader]
Body: Normal
Level: Expert
[Stats]
Health: 400k
Internal Energy: 270k
Combat Power: 980k

What? 980k? It was hard to believe. At that level, Seol-Hwi couldn’t even imagine how strong he was, much less take him on.

“Normally, entering the Hidden Truth Squad requires passing an admissions test,” the Earth Demon told Seol-Hwi. “However, you’re already qualified. We still need to establish the extent of your skills so we can place you in an appropriate position, however.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Attack as much as you want.” The Earth Demon looked to the middle-aged man, who unsheathed his sword.

Well then… This wasn’t so bad—Seol-Hwi wouldn’t even have to fight for his life.

<Skill-Based Grading.>
1. Hidden Truth Squad Leader
→ Defeat Heukgu
2. Hidden Truth Squad Vice-Leader
→ Gain Heukgu’s acknowledgement
3. Hidden Truth Squad Sub-Leader
→ Surprise Heukgu
4. Hidden Truth Squad Member
→ Disappoint Heukgu

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