Episode 378

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4 weeks ago
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A tomb had been carved out of this large rock.

It might resemble a rock cave, but since it was crafted by humans over a few years rather than by natural erosion, it was small and not very spacious.

North Stone Tomb was the term used to refer to the thousands of such dark tombs in the north.

Because the scenery of Mount Wudang was so scenic, there were people who severed ties with the world and lived in secret tombs to practice their way.

Occasionally, some of them caused trouble, and Wudang would send people to deal with them.

This is the place?

Seol-Hwi, having arrived, looked around.

Perhaps because it was a quiet day, no Taoists were around, and he slowly approached the tomb to inspect it.

If Jin Suk was correct, the person in charge of this place a couple of years ago had received the third ability.

But after looking around, he could not find anything unusual.

“Well… if there was such a thing, it would have moved around.”

Seol-Hwi sat with his legs crossed and prepared something in case he could not find a trace.

Shhh—

As he raised his energy, the airflow, which was slowly rising, turned into wind. Inside the cave, there was a shift in the air.

In the tomb, where there had been no wind initially, this fresh wind arose and began to circulate. His goal was to detect any traces with this.

If a Taoist monk from Qingcheng had seen this, he would have been shocked. Clear Wind was an artificial form, but it was still wind, a force of nature.

Just by passing by, it could reveal more information than one might think.

In particular, one could differentiate between naturally occurring and artificially altered sites.

Shhhh

There were so many it was difficult to examine them all at once, so he decided to investigate using this method.

After a long time, Seol-Hwi, who was deep in thought, sensed something unexpected and leapt up.

The moment he sensed it, he dashed toward the source.

Wheeing

This irregular airflow was not natural at all; it bore traces of manipulation.

This…

Seol-Hwi felt it the moment he saw it.

This was what the one who obtained the third ability at the tomb had recorded.

But it was not intended for just anyone to know; only those who were qualified would understand it.

“I was right.”

Seol-Hwi had thought about it last night and expected to find such traces.

Because the Taoist here wasn’t a chosen one.

That might be why he left the traces behind. If he were a Wudang member, he would have simply memorized it all.

But this man was not such a person and wanted to justify his actions in the future, whether because of injustice or because the art was too precious. He felt he had to record it like this.

“This… Are you talking about the elements?”

The ones recorded as earth, water, fire, and wind.

The four elements that made up the world. Some records were written next to them.

There were unique traces of them, like rainbow colors.

Blood, poison, demonic, heavenly, light, thunder, water.

And a circle was drawn over this, with the words Natural World written.

“You are talking about forces that don’t exist in this world but were brought into this realm, right? The Dark Ice Arts, Inferno…”

If he thought about them as the third ability, then it all made sense.

Seol-Hwi had encountered it in the past, this strength called ‘Annihilation’ which was wielded by someone at the Profound Demon level.

Seol-Hwi turned to the side as the wind guided him.

“Hmm.”

There were a few more things here and there, completely different in nature from the four elements and the natural world.

“Telekinesis… spirits, sorcery… camouflage, chaos…”

The ominous words.

And he had just assumed them to be these otherworldly abilities, but had he seen such things as the third energy? Camouflage?

And the last of the text caught his attention, Chaos.

“Does it refer to the power which the Earth Demon used? Ahh, it’s hard to trust everything after seeing this.”

These were the things that made him think about his third ability again.

Seol-Hwi was shocked at how large its scope was, but he also judged that these forces would not take root in Wudang or any of the other Nine Great Sects.

Things like sorcery and demonic arts had nothing to do with martial arts, and from what he saw, only those who were past the Supreme Demon level could handle it.

And what remained was managed by those who had ascended to a higher level. Furthermore, it was obvious that priority would be given to martial arts that were close to nature in various ways.

“Well, the old people who guarded Wudang’s records also used that power.”

He recalled the two old men he had fought a couple of days back, one with poison and one with red blood energy.

If he had to guess, they too belonged to the third ability.

As a result, as he expected, most of those who knew about the third ability among Wudang must be those who accepted it.

“Seeing it like this, I can understand it.”

Under the premise that it was a legacy left behind by their ancestors, it felt like Wudang was touching this.

“Ahem.”

“…!”

When Seol-Hwi sensed someone’s presence, he stepped back, as he had no more reason to be here.


Wheik! Wheik!

Seol-Hwi ran with all his might and managed to join the third class just in time.

“Phew.”

Although it was a basic class for discussion and writing, it was one that required the use of their minds, and Seol-Hwi showed interest in such things.

To be honest, the level of those working on these was low, and he was more into the form and posture during fights.

Normally, such non-martial arts discussions were to speak and compare two different martial arts and reflect on both.

The aim was to find any loopholes in them. In order to do so, one had to have a deep understanding of the opponent’s skills.

Even so.

“As an inexperienced student, no matter how good the qualifications are, it will take time to achieve great success.”

Seol-Hwi, who personally conducted the argument, decided so.

The next class was meditation, which was beneficial. As he thought, he learned how to avoid getting caught in the same thoughts. He stimulated his peripheral nerves and created the thoughts he wanted.

He picked up meditation tips and explored himself while facing the mirror.

And soon, things started to make sense.

“And.”

“The instructor isn’t here yet.”

The huge courtyard chosen as the sparring venue was meant to be impressive, with numerous weapons available for use.

Most of them were swords and batons, but on one side, there were also various tools for cavalrymen, including whips, sacks, and more.

But what caught the eye was the huge structure at the center of it all.

It was three meters long, with a platform wide enough for four to five people to line up.

Is that it?

He felt uneasy the entire time. There were plenty of straw sandals and stilts lying around, which suggested there would not be any serious wounds if someone fell.

But what if they fell out of range?

Would that not be enough to cause a serious fall?

“Ah, that floor. Is this your first time seeing this?”

Jin Suk began to explain, noticing Seol-Hwi’s curiosity.

“That’s where any art is performed. The surface is soft and designed so that the sole of the foot aligns perfectly with the ground. It’s said that the straw next to it protects those who fall, but it can be dangerous if one falls too hard or bounces further than expected.”

Seol-Hwi echoed those words.

“Do you always train like this?”

“No, at most two or three times a month.”

Around that time, Seol-Hwi nodded, and soon the class began.

Pushing Hands was a unique method in which two people tested their skills by pressing their hands and feet against each other.

Seol-Hwi understood that what made it more dramatic was the harvest on the ground. The floorboards were narrow, offering limited space to move. This was half right and half wrong.

This was because when one turned their upper body to the side, their form changed to side-to-side.

If one could use that flow well, they would not shake, no matter how uncertain the spar was.

Moreover, the floor was important when it came to fights. Seol-Hwi just listened to what was being said about the movements.

Even though he knew it all, he did not think it would be bad to recall it again.

The method of naturally moving the body’s balance was quite fun.

“Today we will learn the sharp edge of Taiji’s close combat. As well as knowing the hand-to-hand situation, one has to abandon oneself and follow.”

Afterward, the officer in charge made this suggestion to the disciples.

“Now, is there a Taoist who can climb up and practice the flow we learned today?”

At those words, the Taoists were silent. The person in charge was none other than Elder Myung Cheol.

A person who did not care if the mistake was small or big, but was just merciless. If one stepped forward clumsily, one would end up not gaining anything.

But

“I will.”

Someone raised their hand.

Seol-Hwi recognized him right away as he was one of the two people who had been fighting just a couple of hours ago.

And—

“I will do it too.”

The person who had been watching also raised their hand.

The Taoist with the second-highest score after Jin Gang, Jin Gu, and Jin Suk.

Although his body was small, he seemed to have one of the strongest mentalities.

“Good. You two come up.”

Elder Myung Cheol might not have been aware of the incident that occurred during the day, so he did not do anything to stop it and sent them up.

But the younger Taoists who remembered what happened earlier began to whisper,

“Wouldn’t this be bad?”

“I guess they are trying to properly check the ranks.”

“My friend who spars with Jin Gang, it won’t be easy. His grades are top-notch.”

“Ohh.”

Seol-Hwi, who was listening to them, turned and looked at Jin Suk.

“What do you think will happen?”

“Well.”

Seol-Hwi thought deeply and said,

“There’s something strange about that kid’s eyes…”

“Ah, that’s because he’s shortsighted. It makes an impression, so people misunderstand…”

That seemed to be the reason the fights started.

“I think Jin Song, the guy with the frown, will win.”

“Why? I heard Jin Gang’s grades are third?”

“Because grades come from theory in classes, but Jin Gang? He’s known to have good skills. And if they sparred on the ground, surely he would win, but the ground has changed now. Moreover, in situations where the opponent can use their strength at such close range, hot-tempered ones are at a disadvantage.”

“Ohh.”

Jin Suk saw that Seol-Hwi’s logic made sense. The children’s attention was focused as the two, with such a strange current flowing between them, climbed up onto the high ground.

It was a high place, and if one moved too aggressively, one could be injured.

“Be careful! Don’t let your guard down!”

Of course, other people were preparing for safety. Standing to the left, right, and back of the straw, they would be able to catch anyone who fell.

“…No matter how one looks at it, it’s odd.”

This time, Jin Suk asked Seol-Hwi.

“Why?”

“Because those people are watching over us, it’s a condition where a fall shouldn’t happen.”

“A fall? Who said it would be in the spar alone? Could it be a mistake?”

“For some reason, I think so.”

Seol-Hwi chuckled.

There was no need to say that an incident would happen. Then Jin Suk also smiled. But just as the sparring continued,

“It’s possible.”

Seol-Hwi reacted to Jin Suk’s words. He asked with a glance what it meant.

“It means they’re already hurt on the back before they fall.”

“…?”

“That is the point. If you spar and hit before the fall… it will not work.”

Jin Suk said with a grin, wondering if something like that might happen.

But then, as Seol-Hwi spoke, it felt different because there was no guarantee that the incident would not happen today.

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