Heo Gwang, leader of the White Blood squad, was full of excitement.
The incident started when, earlier in the morning, he was training in the wild and stumbled upon a purple grass. Curious, he brought it to a doctor.
And then, claiming he needed to check something, the doctor ran away.
I was naive. Trying to figure out if it was poisonous on his own would be problematic. He spoke to his superior about it, who told him he wasn't likely to get good results that way. But he couldn't just blindly eat it; if it was poisonous, or had too strong of a yin or yang concentration, it would be dangerous. So he gave it to the doctor.
It could be used to create a very precious pill. That doctor wouldn't have run away like that if it weren't precious beyond value.
Even if I can't get it back, I need to kill him. All physical assets in the sect were property of the sect leader. If a practitioner violated that rule, his superior would be forced to report him and then kill him off and dispose of the evidence.
And it had to be inside the White Dream Hall. If the doctor went into another pavilion or hall and got caught—or killed—their problems were bound to increase. Also, they couldn't just kill him because he was a doctor.
"You must not allow that man to leave the mountain. Do you understand?!"
"Yes, squad leader!"
Someone, however, didn't answer: the lowest-ranked member of the squad.
What should I do? Seol-Hwi followed them in the back. He'd taken out the real squad member and snuck in wearing his uniform. However, the people here seemed to have weird combat abilities.
Heo Gwang [White Blood squad leader]
Health: 1.2 million
Internal Energy: 1.81 million
Combat Power: 4.88 million
He was certainly no ordinary person. It was obvious to Seol-Hwi that these were troops of one of the upper seven pavilions. This man was nothing like the enemies Seol-Hwi had faced in the past. The real problem was Heo Gwang's men: their combat power was all in the hundreds of thousands, and some were even over a million. In the past, Seol-Hwi would have never even dreamed of fighting them.
After running for a while, the troops stopped.
Huh? Unexpectedly, the road split into three. On the left was a marsh, in the middle was a hill, and on the right was a cave.
"What do we do, squad leader?"
"The first, second, and third platoons will go left; fifth and sixth into the cave; the rest will go up the hill with me."
"Yes!" The band cleanly split up, demonstrating their extensive training.
I'm in… sixth platoon. Seol-Hwi headed to the right, and was immediately rewarded.
The mission-giver was getting closer as he moved towards the cave.
The 6th platoon stopped at the entrance of the cave and peered into the darkness. Quickly, they gathered sticks and lit them. As their surroundings brightened, the man in the lead turned to give instructions.
"It splits into two paths. If you run into another fork, split up. I'll be waiting here. If he's in there, there's nowhere for him to run, so be thorough."
He had good judgment.
Naturally, Seol-Hwi followed his platoon down the right side.
Wait, not this way… The marker appeared to be on the left side, but now that the teams had split up he couldn't go back.
"Hah, hah." Hong Qi-Seo sat on the ground.
In spite of his best efforts, he wasn't able to get away without Heo Gwang noticing. Even then, he held on to the plant.
"How could you possibly think this is a normal plant?" He pulled out the plant that could very well spell his death. Even in the dark, it glowed with a faint purple light, illuminating the palm-sized "flower" of layered oval leaves.
Purple Dragon Grass, a rare medicinal plant that could increase internal energy—an entirely unique trait. The efficacy differed depending on how it was used, but it was comparable to the supreme pills of the Shaolin sect.
"Sorry, Earth Demon…" Hong Qi-Seo shook his head sadly. He wanted to dedicate the Purple Dragon Grass to his master—Hong Qi-Seo himself wasn't the kind of person whose hands were worthy of holding something as valuable as the Purple Dragon Grass.
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to escape from this place.
- You, over there. I'm going this way.
He could hear voices coming closer. It was time for him to choose: commit suicide, or make one last attempt at running away?
"Even if I die, I need to get rid of thi—"
Hong Qi-Seo froze just as the plant was about to pass through his lips.
"Any movement and I'll kill you in the most painful way possible."
Hong Qi-Seo's eyes fluttered. He'd been caught—there was nothing left he could do but commit suicide. But what if that failed? He might be tortured to death.
…Huh? As Hong Qi-Seo was stricken with panic, he felt a subtle change of energy. He couldn't see anything in the dark, however.
"I see you."
Hong Qi-Seo realized that this was a different man's voice.
Seol-Hwi moved through the cave faster than everyone else. As soon as he found a chance, he ditched his group and sprinted towards Hong. The tracking skills he'd learned were hugely helpful.
"Don't worry, I'm your ally."
The confused, stiff look Hong gave him made it clear that he didn't believe Seol-Hwi.
Seol-Hwi used his internal energy to create a small flame on his finger. Hong Qi-Seo immediately recognized his face.
"Y-You? How did you get here…?"
"What? It's only natural for me to help you after you helped me."
Why isn't it showing up? At this point, he should be looking at the mission window. Seol-Hwi thought about it for a moment and then looked back at the other man.
"But what do I need to do?"
"How do I help you?"
Hong tilted his head, confused, and then spoke.
[Accepted a mission from Doctor Hong.]
○Mission: Doctor Hong is being pursued by White Blood troops. Gain his trust.
Success: Interest of the Myriad Tribulations Asura, lord of the White Dream Hall
Reward: Purple Dragon Grass [Advanced Healing Item]. Torn piece of the sect-leader's secret office map (1/4).
Lord of the White Dream Hall? Advanced healing item…? Seol-Hwi's gaze shook.
The Myriad Tribulations Asura wielded unmatched influence in the sect. Still, shouldn't he get more rewards if he had to deal with White Blood troops?
Seol-Hwi could feel something back the way he came. As soon as he came out of the narrow cave, he used the transfiguration technique to change his face just in time for one of the White Blood soldiers to approach him.
[Mission notice has been activated]
○ If you don't show your full capabilities, Doctor Hong won't give you the Purple Dragon Grass.
○ If you delay even slightly, a strong opponent will appear.
○ If Hong dies, the mission fails.
○ If you are detected, the mission fails.
"No one there?" The guy walked up to him, holding a torch.
"I was hoping to go further inside. Will you come with me?"
"Sure." The man followed him into the narrow cave.
And that was it.
Seol-Hwi's sword went through his chest and then his abdomen. He stamped out the torch and then looked back.
"Let's get out of here."
It was only a matter of time before they were discovered. And, as the reference said, he needed Hong to trust him and get him out of this cave.
[Warning! Member 8 of Platoon 6 has discovered a weakness in Seol-Hwi. How would you like to respond?]
What is this?! He wanted to get out without incident, but then there was this. I guess he approached from behind.
▷ Run Away
Seol-Hwi pondered his options. The passive options—defending and fleeing—would only draw more anger. The best route was to take them down as quickly as possible. He'd immediately attack the enemy from behind.
However, things did not go as he expected. The soldier's sword was aimed at Hong, not Seol-Hwi.
Despite realizing this late, Seol-Hwi managed to deflect the blade with his own. That gave him the opportunity to immediately run his sword through the enemy's gut.
"Ah…" Hong groaned. Even without getting a close look, he could tell this was a dangerous situation.
"We'll have to deal with another at the entrance." Given the way he'd come in, the leader had to be waiting. They should be able to get out after dealing with one more man.
"So he had an ally."
Seol-Hwi walked out and realized that all of 6th Platoon was waiting for him.
And three more people came in from behind.
He was surrounded and out of luck.
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