As soon as Seol-Hwi was back in his room, he changed his clothes and sat down.
He felt strange—tired yet refreshed at the same time.
- Did we get through the blockage in your vessels…?
At first, he thought the energy would continue to linger in his body, but then he felt something hot moving through his body and enveloping him. The heat burned painfully as it went into his head, chest, and dantian. His vision began to warp as if he was in danger.
- It is also known as breaking through the gate of life and death. That was the purpose of this training… and it’s unnecessary for you now.
Jeokpa had held out a book, struggling to control his emotions.
[You have obtained the Martial Ghost-Walking Method.]
- Basically, this is the footwork of the Earth Demon’s Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts. It was further developed for the sake of the Hidden Truth Squad.
Just as he said, this technique was in the Earth Demon’s book. However, since this one was focused on martial arts, it only held information on evasive techniques—it didn’t need any kind of sustainable footwork.
In fact, this was the first time he’d been formally given footwork.
- The reason I’m not teaching you this is that I believe you will do well even without my teaching. You can reach the 7th level easily.
Seol-Hwi noticed something while he was reminiscing.
<Passive Skill> Intermediate (↑Advanced)
Mind reading had increased by one level, and a blank list had appeared next to it. Seol-Hwi figured things would change once he reached the peak state.
<Unified Light Demonic Martial Arts> Advanced (↑Perfect)
<White Light Body Demonic Martial Arts> Imitation (↑Intermediate)
<Flaring Heat Fist Demonic Martial Arts> Imitation (↑Intermediate)
<Four Peak Demonic Martial Arts - Wind> Footwork (↑Beginner)
“Learning a bunch of martial arts isn’t always helpful.”
The experience had taught Seol-Hwi things he’d never thought of. Strong martial arts weren’t necessarily good, and being strong didn’t mean just learning martial arts.
Realization was the root of martial arts; training was important, but basic realization and understanding were a necessity. Only by understanding the true nature of martial arts can one reach a higher state.
Seol-Hwi lied down in his bed.
<Would you like to save?>
Seol-Hwi pondered the familiar phrase for a moment, but didn’t feel a need and just went to sleep.
Seol-Hwi got up early in the morning and went to the door.
<Please set a schedule for month 2 of year 96. (7/36)>
▶ Take a Mission
▷ Warrior Training
▷ Walk Around
Learning martial arts isn’t an option? I guess I should take a mission.
<Who would you like to take the mission from?>
▶ Earth Demon (4th disciple of the Heavenly Demon)
▷ Heukgu (Leader of Hidden Truth squad)
▷ Jeokpa (Hidden Truth squad head instructor)
▷ Doctor who treated Seol-hwi.
▷ Servant who brought meals.
Actually, he wanted to start with the missions but he just didn’t have the basics to pull it off.
Shall we go with the Earth Demon? He ought to be able to make it work now that he was a Peak Grand Master.
<Take a mission from the Earth Demon?>
Seol-Hwi proceeded with excitement. When he accepted, light flowed through his body.
- You are much stronger than before—however, there are things you still lack. You cannot carry out this mission at your current level.
- Come back when you have the correct qualifications.
“What…” After the Earth Demon’s brief reply, Seol-Hwi found himself back by the door.
He looked around for a moment and then stepped up to the door.
<Please set a schedule for month 2 of year 96. (7/36)>
Seol-Hwi went for another mission—from the squad leader this time.
- You broke past the gate of life and death? I heard from the head of the education office. Incredible.
- But this is a bad time for the mission. Come back in a year.
Seol-Hwi was back in his room again.
“Should I choose the bottom one?” He looked at the last mission—the weird one.
▶ Servant who brought meals.
“...are you here?”
Huh? Seol-Hwi looked at the door, towards the source of the weak voice.
“Can I come in?”
Seol-Hwi quickly adjusted.
He introduced himself as Noh Sam. He was the one who always brought him meals, but he mainly served Sima Baekhon. The reason he came even though it wasn’t time for dinner was because he had something to say.
His story went like this: one day, Sima Baekhon had to attend to the vice-leader of the sect for personal reasons. While the vice-leader was away, he accidentally looked into the furnace and discovered a martial arts manual which hadn’t been completely incinerated like the rest. He was afraid that if something happened to it, he’d be implicated. He didn’t know what to do with it, so he ended up giving it to the people outside.
Seol-Hwi cut him off.
“What’s the problem?”
“The problem is… the man who took the book suddenly disappeared.”
“What? Disappeared?” Now Seol-Hwi seriously considered Noh Sam’s words. “Disappear” meant he didn’t hide—the man had either left the sect or gone into the central plains.
“How can he run away from the people in our sect?”
“I don’t know.”
“There’s a chance he died… or the vice-leader took care of it.”
“No body has been found, and no one came to me. It was Elder Baekhon who came to the office.”
That made sense. The problem could easily be solved by chasing the target.
“Elder Baekhon wants to find him, but he can’t move,” Noh Sam said. “In any case, if the vice-leader had a reason to burn the book then he must be involved in the disappearance.”
That made sense as well. What if it was a trap by the vice sect leader? Seol-Hwi didn’t know much about the power struggle within the sect, or about Elder Baekhon’s position, but he thought hard about it.
“So why tell me this?”
“Elder Baekhon is concerned it was one of his people. If so, they have to die, but the Elder doesn’t have any people he can send. Instead, he wants someone with no presence—a person who won’t make noise, who can move freely and isn’t a known face. I went looking, and…”
“And you came here.”
Pretty words for a dark deed.
The Elder was free from danger if he sent in a stranger. Someone who could move freely was also someone the sect didn’t care about. And he wanted this man dead, even without knowing who he was?
The way the mission had been delivered suggested Seol-Hwi didn’t have a choice.
“What do I get if I bring him in?” The most important question. They had to be offering something, in addition to what the system would give him.
“Of course,” Noh Sam said, as if he’d been expecting it. “Elder Baekwon always pays his debts.”
“Well…” Seol-Hwi thought about it for a moment. “Not bad.” He nodded; considering this was a task from an Elder, the conditions didn’t seem bad.
[Received a mission from servant Noh Sam.]
○Mission: Um Mugi, head disciple of Elder Baekhon, fled to Chonghae with a secret book. Capture him within a month.
- Upon success: Baekhon’s trust.
- Reward: Transfiguration book, Sect leader’s secret map (1/4)
So he’s the head disciple. Noh Sam implied he was just some henchman, but it turned out he was actually a cherished disciple. In that case, it would be better to bring him in alive rather than dead.
Seol-Hwi examined the rewards and paused.
Transfiguration, meaning… disguise? He’d heard that the sect had ways to change your face, but he didn’t believe it. You’d have to change not just the face, but the skin, hair, and eyes. How would it be possible to create something like that from flesh and bone?
Rumor had it, however, that there was a way. It was said to be limited and difficult to learn, but Seol-Hwi remembered people talking about it all the time.
And the vice sect leader had it?
I feel like there’s something more to it than a book. A vice sect leader had to have plenty of secrets; if this book belonged to him, it had to be amazing.
So… wait… “Um Mugi?” Wasn’t that name… a bit weird?
“The Elder’s henchman—he’s an offender, right?”
“Huh? Uh… yeah. Yes.”
“Ugh, crazy.” Seol-Hwi wanted to cuss. An offender was handed a book about disguise—of course he ran away with it! He ran off and no one would be able to find him.
“How did you know?”
Seol-Hwi didn’t bother to answer; Noh Sam didn’t need to know.
“Then can I leave right now?”
“Ah, one more thing.”
“Um… The Elder asked me to bring someone to accompany you. He knows the paths, so he can help you get out of the sect easily…”
He’s trying to spy on me. Seol-Hwi was annoyed.
“I’ll bring them.”
Seol-Hwi’s first impression of the person Noh Sam brought was “too rough.” It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just the way people in the sect were.
Even so, Seol-Hwi could tell he was serious. The forearms poking out of his sleeves were as thick as trees, and his face was pocked with burns and scars. The man was so tall Seol-Hwi’s head only came up to his shoulders. For whatever reason, he was bald.
Seol-Hwi was so intimidated he couldn’t even reach for his sword.
Internal Energy: 0
Combat Power: 9000
*Special Note: Unknown developmental disability
So, an idiot. Seol-Hwi’s confidence returned.
Despite looking like an experienced martial artist, he was a total beginner—no skill to speak of. Surprisingly, though, he was a first rate warrior, the stage right before Peak Grand Master. This man must have been through a lot and his strong body must have served him well to be evaluated as a first rate warrior.
“Seokdu.” Seol-Hwi nodded. “I hope we get along.”
There was no way this guy could spy on him. Presumably, Elder Baekhon had only sent him to help.
“Right, Seokdu. How do we proceed?”
“I’ve been working in the first line barrier construction at the entrance of the sect, so we can say we’re going to find some good wood and walk out.”
“Okay. Sounds good.”
Seokdu bowed his head to Seol-Hwi—he couldn’t even look Seol-Hwi in the eyes.
[Moving to Cheonghae.]
They were already on the road leading to Cheonghae—one of the system’s conveniences.
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