Um Mugi hunched over the desk light and drew the brush over the paper. However, this was no simple writing. The man carefully wrote each character with utmost care. Occasionally, when he thought the letters were not clear enough, he would nervously look at the guard standing next to him.
And then his brush would start moving again.
Quite some time passed this way.
Um Mugi was bleeding everywhere except his mouth and right arm.
“Right. You worked hard. Seokdu, grab his chin.”
“Yes!” He immediately gripped Um Mugi’s chin, making the man go red with fright. “Are you going to bust the other one, too?”
“Still, he deserves a beating.” Seokdu clenched his hand and Um Mugi’s neck went stiff. Satisfied, Seokdu shoved him aside.
Um Mugi groaned and let his head fall. Seol-Hwi gave him a dark look.
“Don’t act pitiful. You suck the energy out of people.”
“I didn’t mean to, it was all I was taught.”
“Tch.” Seol-Hwi lifted his leg threateningly and Um Mugi hastily turned his head back to the paper and went back to writing even though no one had told him to.
After a while, Seol-Hwi went to look at the paper.
“When will it be done?”
Um Mugi didn’t have any kind of secret weapon, so Seol-Hwi figured he’d at least get the transfiguration technique out of him.
“It will be done soon.”
“Is that so?” Seol-Hwi nodded, but then he thought of something. “Why did you transform into that man, Zheng?”
“Don’t use your head. Just give me an honest answer.”
“I-I wanted to start a new life!”
“What?” Seol-Hwi gave him a confounded look.
“I didn’t want to do such things anymore. I just wanted to live a normal life without my past dragging me down.”
“You’re insane. You think someone who goes around sucking the internal energy out of people can live with normal people?”
“That’s why—!” Um Mugi teared up. “That’s why I… wanted to do more.”
His facial expression made Seol-Hwi uncomfortable, so he turned the conversation elsewhere.
“Why did you move around using the technique, then?”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“The secret book—the one you received from Elder Baekhon.”
“The Latent Image Projection?”
“Don’t act sma—what? What was that? ‘Latent Image Projection’?” Seol-Hwi’s eyes widened.
Ah, was that why? He thought that Um Mugi had used the transfiguration technique to make himself look like a small child, but it turned out to be Latent Image Projection. A normal transfiguration technique wouldn’t make your body smaller.
<As a reward, you receive the Sect Leader’s secret office map (1/4) and a secret office key.>
That was why he wanted the technique. Heartbreakingly, there were too many enemies there for Seol-Hwi to get in—unless he knew this martial art.
When he emerged with Um Mugi, the people of the mansion were waiting. In particular, Ju Wangil and Ju Sohye looked eager to get their hands on the shape-shifting demon.
“I don’t know how to thank you…” Unlike before, Ju Wangil acted respectful. No doubt he felt a great sense of relief when he and his daughter were saved from the demon’s deception.
“You don’t have to thank me. I was just doing my job.” Seol-Hwi glanced expressionlessly at Um Mugi, who lay on the shoulders of Seokdu.
[You have learned Transfiguration.]
[You have mastered the Latent Image Projection Technique.]
Seol-Hwi was a little taken aback when he learned the martial art. It let him change everything from his face to his voice to his hair; the only impossibility was his skeleton and eyes. That was also why Um Mugi had chosen Zheng Mu-Yeon as his new identity.
“Warrior, will you come again?” Ju Sohye’s musical voice touched his ears.
“I will.” Seol-Hwi nodded. “I have a reason, after all?”
“...Well, just something.” Seol-Hwi glanced at the mission floating over her head.
*Special Notes: Mission 2 (Warrior Training)
There were two things he needed for his Warrior training. And of course, he wasn’t going to let that escape from him.
“I’m off, then.”
“I can’t convince you to stay for a meal…?”
Seol-Hwi shook his head firmly. He had no time for breaks, he still had four more missions to do. He could rest once his warrior training was done and dusted.
He bowed slightly.
“Let’s go,” he said to Seokdu.
He looked up and down and found a glowing “RETURN” blinking at him.
[Do you want to return to your home? Yes/No]
Satisfied with his work, Seol-Hwi hit Yes.
When he woke up, he was back in his room with an information window in front of him. However, it wasn’t the same as usual.
- Who got Um Mugi?
- Seol-Hwi, an outstanding warrior under the Earth Demon.
- When that child is in serious danger some day, I will be there for him.
[Elder Baekhon’s regard for Seol-Hwi has become favorable.]
He could see Baekhon’s tearful face, something he’d never seen before.
And then there was a string of numbers.
[Health increased by 10,000]
[Internal Energy increased by 10,000]
[Combat Power increased by 10,000]
Health: 710k (↑10k)
Internal Energy: 1.21 million (↑10k)
Combat Power: 5.91 million (↑10k)
It was a pleasure to see his stats go up, even though he didn’t do much.
[11 days passed during the mission. You may act freely in the remaining 17 days.]
If it took us five days to travel… Seol-Hwi eyed the date.
Five days to get there, one day to catch him, and another five days to get back.
More remote areas like Sacheon will take longer to travel there. What if the mission wasn’t as short?
If it took, say, ten days to get to Sacheon, he’d be on a tight schedule to get the mission done. Would it even be possible?
I’ll know once I try.
Well, even if he thought about it, things probably wouldn’t go as he expected. All he could do was make the best of his 17 free days.
“Okay. Now, training!” Seol-Hwi itched to practice his new martial arts. The Wind God technique, the new martial arts he hadn’t had a chance to use—he wanted to try all of them. Just thinking about how strong he would be made him clap his hands.
Seventeen days passed quickly. Seol-Hwi spent them very efficiently.
It took him about three breaths to transform and five breaths to turn back. And, no joke, he really could transform his face into a completely different one.
He also noticed some limitations, after a few days. The biggest one was that he couldn’t use his full power. It also lowered the concentration he could put into practicing martial arts, because the technique consumed mental strength rather than internal energy. That was why Um Mugi had reverted to his real face to fight Seol-Hwi.
<Latent Image Projection>
Being able to shrink and stretch his body was more exhilarating than transfiguration. It could make him as tall as 9 feet or as small as a single foot. The limitation, however, was that it slowed him down.
<White Light Body Demonic Martial Arts>
The combination martial arts shocked Seol-Hwi no less than three times.
First was when he discovered he could create ice swords similar to sword energy, although the internal energy consumption was too severe for him to use it for long.
Second was the sheer power: he could take down two or three masters at once through brute force. Combined with his speed, no one would be able to take him lightly.
Third was the ability to create defensive ice sheets. It didn’t even use a lot of internal energy, so he could use it regularly.
Seol-Hwi was excited to see how much stronger it would be at the advanced level. He could see that he had a lot of growing to do.
<Flaming Heat Fist Demonic Martial Arts>
He wasn’t good at close combat, but he tried it. If he didn’t have a sword in hand, he’d at least have this.
It wasn’t just a flaming fist—the flames would devour his surroundings like they were alive. This, too, was dependent on his mastery.
<Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts>
Seol-Hwi spent almost ten days training to use the power of the Wind God. In a desperate effort, he managed to unleash the Wind God on the last day of his free time.
“I finally figured it out!”
At the same time, though, he felt a sense of danger. Even the slightest difference in movement would make the technique fail, and when he failed it always left him open.
The same went for a success—if he couldn’t pinpoint the enemy’s position, he was vulnerable to a counterattack.
“Phew.” Seol-Hwi wrapped up the last of his seventeen well-spent days and went to the door. It was time to get his next mission done.
<Please set a schedule for month 3 of year 96. (7/36)>
▶ Take a Mission
▷ Warrior Training
▷ Walk Around
He did think about going to Cheonghae for a while, but his desire for growth was stronger. He chose the 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.
The servant had disappeared. Seol-Hwi decided after a moment of thought.
<Take a mission from the doctor who treated Seol-Hwi?>
<Moving to White Dream Hall, Luosan.>
The building collapsed around him, and trees arose from the ground.
Ah… Seol-Hwi found himself in the middle of an unknown mountain. A full moon rose in the darkness, illuminating the trees and grass around him. Even the wetlands the hillside overlooked were vast.
And there, an unexpected situation arose.
<Received a mission from Hong.>
<Warning! Hong is pursued by 107 White Blood troops. Reach him before they can!>
Seol-Hwi looked around and immediately realized what he needed to do. In the distance, a figure the size of a millet ran across the mountain. Above his head was a [!].
On top of that, there were dozens of people chasing after him.
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