“Sir Guard, could you run faster?”
“It won’t be pleasant with the wounds on your body, will you be okay?”
“Please don’t fret over these small wounds, and hurry up”
“Fine, hold on tight!”
The Guard picked up speed at the words of the anxious maid. The speed at which he was currently moving, was incomparable to the previous run.
The maid’s eyes reflected astonishment.
She knew that the Guards were being taught Martial Arts, but his energy seemed to be far above Grand Master level. She wondered how they could be trained so efficiently, but decided to ask on another occasion as she had more important things on hand right now.
The moment the maid gave the directions, the Guard would change his direction and continue. The palace grounds were so huge, that even with him picking up speed by using his internal energy, he couldn’t reach the destination right away.
Shortly after, he reached the northwest side of the Palace.
A huge tomb-like structure stood in front of the duo. This tomb, which seemed considerably larger than the Emperor’s residence, was the royal shrine of the former Emperor. A tablet was entrench in front of the ornate shrine.
‘Why is it the Emperor's tomb?’
The Guard couldn't help but look puzzled as he carried the maid.
It was a foreseeable reaction. He couldn’t comprehend why the maid had asked him to bring her to the Royal Shrine of the former Emperor instead of the higher ups. And of course, the tomb was a decoy, it doesn’t possess the former Emperor’s body.
The tomb was to commemorate the 1st Emperor who founded the Daemyeong Empire.
“Why are we here?”, the guard questioned the maid in a flustered manner, when suddenly, the maid struck him.
He was unscathed because he had the armor on. The armor turned red because of her fire Qi attack. But, his safety didn’t last for long. The maid used both her hands to grab his neck.
“Cough! Wh-what are you doing?!”
“I, a maid of a Guardian, receives instructions and orders directly from His Majesty. From this moment on, you shall forget everything you witnessed now. If not, I will behead you according to the royal laws”
At the threatening voice and her choice of words, the Guard couldn’t talk back. He bowed to her orders as he wanted to keep his life.
“The Guard behind too”
After listening to the answer of the Guard behind them, the maid pointed to the shrine.
“Please head inside”
“Yo-you mean the shrine?”
As soon as she answered, the Guards hesitantly went into the shrine. Everything inside was dark as if the lights of the shrine were turned off. During the day, the scent of the incense would enter the noses of those who would enter.
The inside of the shrine lit up when the Guard in the back found a lamp hanging on the wall of the shrine and lit it.
The Guard who was carrying the maid couldn’t hold back the exclamation as he saw the interior.
The Shrine was entirely decorated in gold and was in no way comparable to the ordinary shrines.
A portrait of the first Emperor hung on the inner wall of the shrine, and on the altar ahead of them was a tablet with an incense holder with a burnt down incense in it.
“You just witnessed the First Emperor, why are you not bowing to him?”
“Ah!... that was…”
When both the guards looked at the portrait and did not bow, the maid asked them suddenly.
When the guard who was carrying the maid became flustered, the guard from behind answered her question right away.
“Inspection maid, we would always bow to the First Emperor, but weren’t you the one who said that an invasion within the palace may happen and we had to hurry to inform?”
The words of the guard seemed to convince the maid, and she immediately pointed to the right side of the altar and asked them to move.
Once they walked to the right of the altar, there was a huge red cloth embroidered with golden dragons on it in front of them. When she reached out and pulled the cloth above, a road leading to the back of the altar appeared.
‘What?! There was such a path hidden behind the shrine?!’
Who would have thought that such a secret is hidden in the royal shrine of the First Emperor? Upon entering the road, they were now able to enter behind the walls of the altar. At the back of the portrait wall, there was space wide enough for two people to stand. It seemed like a hidden passage would open in front of them, but their path was blocked by a blue wall.
‘Sapphire stone wall?’
A wall, made of solid sapphire, suddenly appeared in front of them. As the guard lifted the lamp to light the wall, an illustration of an animal came to life.
However, it wasn’t a real animal.
The body was shaped like a deer, the tail of a cow and the hooves of a horse. The most peculiar feature of that so-called animal was its head which looked like a dragon with horns attached to it and an elongated neck joined its head and its body.
The wall had a strange painting of a Qilin (Chinese mythical creature). It is also referred to as the Flame Qilin, as it could breathe fire from its body. It is also said that a Qilin is the incarnation of fire. It is a sacred being in the ancient legends and also mentioned in the Book of Songs and Spring and Autumn Period.
Like a phoenix, when the Qilin appeared, it was said to be an auspicious sign of an appearance of a great King or a great Emperor.
‘To draw this right behind the portrait of the 1st Emperor...’
What was the most astonishing was that the person who engraved the Qilin’s picture seemed to be a devoted person. seeing how cleanly he drew on the sapphire wall with his fingers.
While they were wondering, the maid spoke,
“This is no time to be in shock, please go closer to the wall where the picture is drawn”
The guard went closer to the painting and asked, “Like this?”
As the guard stopped, the maid reached out to the painting and pressed both eyes of the Qilin at the same time. The eyes that were drawn on the wall, went inside.
The moment the eyes went inside the wall a sound of something moving inside the wall echoed. The sapphire wall split in half like a castle gate opening and a path lay in front of them.
This was the entrance to the secret Imperial Palace’s Guardian Hall.
“Please follow the path”, the maid spoke as soon the sound faded into oblivion.
Considering that the altar was attached to the innermost wall of the shrine, the Guardian Hall could only be located inside the Royal Shrine.
What was inside the sapphire wall was unknown, but as the wall opened, an alien energy welcomed them.
‘I need to hurry.’
As they entered the inner passage of the Guardian Hall, the maid’s eyes began to turn heavy. The white masked Guard only followed them.
“I never would have imagined that such a place would be behind the shrine”
“… this should not be the concern of the members of the Guards or the Golden Council. Please, just follow my instructions”
Responding quietly, she bit her lip. Honestly, she felt bad for them. Anyone who doesn’t receive the permission from the Emperor or the Guardian’s Master and enters the Guardian Hall would be beheaded.
Perhaps, the moment they reach the end of the path, the Guards would be killed. Which was why she didn’t want to talk to them. As if he had no intentions of complying with her words, the Guard in the back spoke again.
“If this is a hidden path, then there could be traps placed here. Do you have an idea where they are?”
“What are you talking about…”
She tried to turn back and say something to the Guard but they ended up arriving at the end of the passage. At the end of the passage was a wide opening.
However, the moment she arrived at the hall, she went speechless. The smell of blood invaded her nose once again.
This hall in the middle was a place where three roads intersected. Normally, guards of the Guardians would be standing on all three roads with spears in their hands. But right now, the guards were on the ground, lifeless.
“H-how is that possible?”
The maid was beyond shocked as she couldn’t guess what happened, until the voice of the guards entered her ears.
“This is unexpected. I mean, were there people who visited this place before us?”
The maid was shocked. The voice of the Guards changed from before. However, she recognized the voice. It belonged to the Lord of Demonic Cult, whose voice she heard before fainting.
‘No! it can’t be!’
She wanted to deny everything she was experiencing right now, but no matter how much she thought, it was that man’s voice.
As she heard the voice again, she felt convinced.
“Nothing can be done. Where is the Guardian’s prison cell?”
“I… I was deceived!”
The man who beat her up. She thought that they had slaughtered all the women and fled away, but that wasn’t clearly true. They deceived themselves as the guards.
‘How did this happen?!’
It wasn’t enough that they killed their leader and the other court ladies, because now, they even tricked her and invaded the Guardian Hall.
At that moment, she decided to take down the man who was carrying her. Sure, she would suffer but she won’t do nothing in this situation.
The moment she reached out and grabbed the neck of the Guard.
The maid’s neck suddenly broke. The maid, who was trying to attack, fell back onto the back of the guard. She saw Chun Yeowun’s face looking at her in her last moments before she drifted into an eternal slumber.
“Hu Bong. You can put her down.”
“Ugh? Did you kill her?”
The Guard carrying her dead body dropped her to the floor right away. Hu Bong was the man who carried her. Thanks to the plan that Great Guardian Marakim came up with, they easily infiltrated the Guardian Hall.
However, new problems had risen. There were others who invaded the Imperial palace Guardian Hall.
“What happened here?”
Looking around, Hu Bong asked after seeing the dead guards. Seeing that the blood hadn’t clotted yet, he came to the conclusion that it hadn’t been long since they were killed. However there was a problem.
‘This method of killing is similar to our Sword Demon. And to leave such obvious tracks..!’
All the dead bodies had traces of the Demonic Cult’s energy on them. There was no way that Chun Yeowun or any other men belonging to the Demonic Cult would leave such obvious traits on the guards.
There seemed no resistance from the guards when they were killed and the guards emitted no demonic energy, but it seemed like someone made it look like the guards were taken down by the Demonic Cult members.
Realizing what was happening, Chun Yeowun opened his mouth.
“Hu Bong, trying to save our men might end up turning into a huge problem.”
Meanwhile, in the large hall of the Guardian Hall.
Around fifty men wearing the uniforms of the regular soldiers, holding onto their spear, looked at the hall entrance with a tense look.
In the middle of them, a middle-aged man wearing the official uniform of the commander of the Imperial Palace, touched the sword in his hand with a serious expression.
At that time, a soldier from the common entrance of the hall ran in and spoke in a hurry. He hurriedly reported to the commander and knelt on one knee.
“We-we are in trouble, Master! The wall opened, I think they will be here soon.”
The commander’s identity was the Master of the Imperial Palace’s Guardian.
Unlike the other commanders and generals in the palace, the warriors of the Guardian only concerned them with the matters of the Imperial Palace.
“How did all this even happen?!”
The Master groaned, not being pleased with what was happening. Since the founding of the Guardians, not once had any enemy infiltrated their hall. As if that wasn’t enough, the invaders weren’t just passing through, but they crossed all the borders and headed straight for the central hall.
‘What is their purpose for doing it?’
The purpose for coming to the centre hall was clear. It was the treasure of the Palace. The treasure from generation to generation of the Imperial family was under the protection of the Guardians under the command of the Master.
Such treasure should never fall into the hands of enemies.
‘Was it planned?’
It was suspicious that the enemy began their attack where the Guardian members were missing. Had the court ladies and their leader, who went out to tackle spies, been present, tackling the enemies would have been more efficient.
“We are going to be hit! Prepare yourselves!”
The Master shouted at the 50 men.
“No matter what happens, don’t let the enemies enter the 7th passage. Put your life at stake. Use any means possible…”
Master, who was trying to increase morale, went silent. From the common aisle, the sound of someone approaching them could be heard.
Before long, they made their appearance at the entrance of the hall. The clothes of the three men who invaded their grounds were stained with blood, except for the woman who had a sword in front of them. Just how many people did they have to kill for their clothes to turn red?
The woman with the sword was muttering something under her breath.
“There is no end to killing these bugs who are hiding behind a grave”
She was muttering such things in front of the Hidden Power of the Imperial palace.
Rather than being frightened, she was displaying an annoyed attitude. As if trying to showcase her power. The bearded man next to her, clicked his tongue.
“Measly flies. We need to leave marks, so leave this place to us and go ahead with the plan”
The two men stepped out, and the women, whose clothes were drenched in blood, nodded at the bearded man’s words.
She then tried to casually cross the hall from the middle of the warriors. As a result, she incurred the wrath of the Guardians.
“How dare you speak such words in the presence of the Guardians!”
Although the people were wearing soldier’s clothes, most of them were Superior Master level warriors.
Three soldiers began to release energy and ran for the woman who was covered in blood and unfolded their sword. Before they could even prepare for the attack, something amazing happened.
When did she even move?
The woman brought out the sword which was at her waist.
Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha!
That moment they reached her, the bodies of the three split open like boiled eggs, and then crumbled to the floor.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
Without even being able to scream, they ended up suffering miserable death. At the cruel sight which unfolded in front of their eyes, the warriors of Guardian were at a loss of words.
‘It-it makes no sense…’
Even the Master, who was supposed to lead the Guardians, was shocked. He couldn’t get his mind to adjust to what just happened.
“You worthless trash”
The woman took a step again, heading for the Master who had to be taken down.
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