Two hundred and ten years ago,
The last Emperor of the Yeon Empire passed away, and the Empire was torn into ten small nations.
Officials had started betraying each other left and right. The main cities were eventually occupied and the Empire... fell onto the path of extinction.
It's fate was drawn fast and brutally.
Over the following ten decades, the Empire lived through a period of total Chaos and absolute disorder.
The greed of those who'd thought of themselves as Kings, hadn't ended in their favor.
"During those decades, the land had continued to bleed and live in devastation. This outrageous Chaos soon casted its shadow on the Wulin."
Despite their attempts to remain uninvolved with each other's matters, the Imperial family and Wulin, couldn't help but feel affected by the changes occuring in the Empire.
The endless war had brought about the total devastation of the Empire, and famine and new diseases reared their ugly heads.
All field workers were conscripted as soldiers, whilst some others turned into bandits. The Empire had fallen into its dark age.
"But then a hero had risen."
Amongst the existing ten nations, the Sun Dynasty had been the most influential and powerful.
After King Zhu Won-soon of Sun Dynasty passed away, everything changed, as his son Zhu Won-myeong ascended the throne.
Unlike Zhu Won-soon, who inherited the knowledge of the past generations, Zhu Won-myeong was an undefeated high-ranking general who had fought in the war against the barbarians of the North.
Returning to his nation after the extinction of the barbarians, he lost interest in worldly affairs and wandered around his nation.
"If it's Zhu Won-myeong, then it's the 1st Emperor's name."
At the words of Chun Yeowun, Ran-yeong nodded.
The Daemyeong Empire had been founded by the 1st Emperor.
"Zhu Won-myeong was considered a hero. He had protected the nation from the barbarians of the North during the days of war. Even the people of Wulin admired him."
He was the only hero, who'd been capable of bringing extinction to the barbarians.
He was recognized by both his people and Wulin's martial artists, even the Lord of the Demonic Cult of that time had wanted to build a healthy relationship with him.
He'd been a loyal man, and had always been willing to give up his titles for his nation's welfare.
However, during the next ten years, people had begun to suffer from the Western power's invasion from the north. Defenses had been weakened and the spillage of blood had never ceased flowing.
"The 1st Emperor was a hero, a high ranking General Commander with long experience, but at that time, the dynasty's power alone hadn't been strong enough to unify the ten divised nations against the invasion of a foreign power."
Despite being the General Commander and a genius strategist, he knew that developing the power to unify the nations wouldn't easily happen in a short time.
However, seeing the amount of suffering the people had been going through, he had decided to ask the warriors of Wulin for their help, using the good relationship he had built with them over the years.
The Heavenly Order had asked him to wipe away the blood and tears of the suffering people, and to put an end to the kings' and bandits' Greed. The responsibility upon his shoulders had been as heavy as mountains.
But, he had believed in his cause.
Zhu Won-myeong, gathered everyone he could.
The warriors from all across the nation gathered under his command, and quickly destroyed the enemy driving out the foreign invaders.
In just 10 years, the 10 nations had been completely reunified once again.
"The unified Sun Dynasty was named the Daemyeong Empire after the 1st Emperor."
As the nation had begun to stabilize, the warriors had been recognized for their war contributions, and were provided with leadership titles and land.
At that time, it wasn't just the people of Yulin who had helped the Emperor, but also the Demonic Cult.
"They had helped in the war after receiving the emperor's request, but once the nation had stabilized, they had turned into troublesome people for the Emperor and his officials."
One skilled warrior from the Cult could face dozens of soldiers.
The existence of such warriors was considered to be a great threat.
After having received help from the warriors of Wulin, namely those from Yulin and the Demonic cult, the Imperial Court had no choice but to pay up.
"The Emperor had decided to provide them both with land, and wanted to sign a mutually inviolable contract between the Empire and the Martial Artists of Wulin."
At that time, the leader of Yulin and Shaman swordsman, Ji-hyeon asked the Empire to add Taosim as one of the Empire's arts.
It was to maintain the relationship with the Imperial family despite the proposed treaty.
However, that in itself had been the catalyst for the problems that arose.
"Even our Demonic Cult had asked our art to be recognized, but since those people had requested first, the Imperial palace and the Emperor could only agree to theirs."
In fact, such situations would happen quite often.
The Demonic Cult and the Forces of Yulin had made the same amount of contributions towards the founding of the Empire.
It was within the rights of the Demonic Cult, who had greatly contributed to the empire winning the war, to request their arts be recognized, but the Empire had chosen to go with, 'first come first serve'.
'They must've done it on purpose.'
Even at that time, the Demonic Cult had been far more feared than the Forces of Yulin. Even the officials under the Emperor had been scared, and assumed that it was the bureaucrats who had made the decision to favour the Yulin.
"As the situation hadn't been favourable, the Lord of The Demonic Cult had made a bold request."
There had existed a legend about the land.
A Spirit Beast had appeared before the birth of the Empire.
Shockingly, before the Empire could fully unify the land, the Qilin had appeared and burned down five entire villages.
At that time, the great Lord of the Demonic Cult had fought, and succeeded in subduing the Spirit Beast after fighting for three days and three nights, along with hundreds of Masters including his Elders and Clan leaders.
After the death of the Flame Qilin, the unquenchable flame on its body had blazed. That particular event had been regarded as an auspicious sign for the founding of the country.
A huge tomb had been made where the Qilin had died, and it was declared that it would be where the capital would be built.
[Then, Give us the Qilin's core and Blood.]
The Demonic Cult's Great Lord had requested the Qilin's Core and its Blood from the Emperor.
Upon hearing the Lord's daring request, the Empire's officials and the Forces of Yulin's members had grown furious.
"They must have refused it."
"Exactly. My Lord!"
The Forces of Yulin would do anything to stop the rise of the Demonic Cult's power, and the Imperial Palace regarded the Qilin's Blood as a treasure. They would never give it up.
Expecting their Decline, the Great Lord of the Demonic Cult insisted.
[It was earned by my people and my warriors at the expense of their precious lives. I am not asking for the whole body of the Qilin, only for the Blood and Core. It would be better for you not to oppose us!]
At that time, neither the officials nor the Forces of Yulin could decide and had left the decision to the Emperor.
The Emperor had struggled with the decision. He greatly wanted to appease the furious Great Lord of The Demonic Cult, and finally accepted the request.
"However, there were conditions."
The condition stated that they could take it only if they could separate the core and the Blood from the Qilin's body.
"Waah, they acted so cheap!"
Hu Bong, who'd been listening to the story, grumbled.
Hundreds of Masters and even the Great Lord had tried their best to do it, but it had all been in vain.
The problem was actually the core, and the Qilin's Blood which burned with the flames of the Qilin's body. The flames were so strong that they couldn't be touched, there was no way that the Demonic Cult could separate them.
"The Great Lord tried many ways to separate them, but there was no way to cool the blazing Qilin's flame, the blood or its core."
Realizing that nothing else could be done, the Great Lord made a suggestion.
Since the Qilin's Blood was now owned by the Demonic Cult, he said that it had to be protected by them until they found a way to separate it.
He had no intention of letting the Qilin's Blood fall into the hands of the rest of Wulin.
"He had thus succeeded in preventing the Core from falling into the others' hands, but the Emperor had added another condition."
The Emperor stated that if warriors of Demonic Cult wanted to stay in the tomb of Qilin, they had to defend the Imperial Palace and pledge allegiance to the successive Emperors.
"There were a total of 12 Cult masters, including me, who stayed behind in this tomb because of that condition."
Ran-yeong had come to the tomb along with 11 others.
All of them had been high ranking warriors who had great positions in the Demonic Cult.
Hu Bong's eyes widened whilst looking at a nameplate she displayed.
On it, a master's name had been written.
"Mun Ran-yeong, Clan head of the Dragon Fist Clan?"
Hu Bong's words had also attracted the attention of Chun Yeowun.
It was unrecognizable since her use of energy was different, but Chun Yeowun couldn't shake off the feeling that her moves had felt similar to the martial arts of the Dragon Fist Clan.
"… Dragon Fist Clan?"
If it was the Dragon Fist Clan, then she belonged to Mun Ku and Mun Yu's clan.
"Ugh! Well then, wouldn't you be the great-grandmother of Mun Ku?"
Whilst Hu Bong was surprised, Ran-yeong was puzzled.
After leaving the cult to protect the Qilin's Blood, she had lived in the Imperial palace for a hundred and ninety years, and had no understanding of the current situation of the clan.
'Elder Mun and Mun Ku will be very surprised.'
Like Hu Bong had said, their ancestors had managed to survive for such a long time.
Even though they were related, the relationship would be awkward in the beginning.
"… what about the others?"
"They turned into the ashes of sanctification."
In the Demonic Cult, those who died or were killed were said to turn into ashes of sanctification.
It was the belief of the Demonic Cult, that those who returned to ashes, would be reborn as time passed.
"At that time, by the orders of the Great Lord, we studied the Qilin's Core and searched for ways to take away its Blood."
Since the Imperial Palace was interested in the Qilin as well, the both of them had joined forces and proceeded with the research, but no useful results had been found.
There were those who'd taken in the blood, but had died after being unable to handle the flame energy.
"My colleagues at the time had said that the flame energy was too dangerous for a female body to withstand, and they held me back from taking in even a small quantity of blood for testing."
As a result, Ran-yeong ended up being the only one who had survived after eighty years.
Her voice trembled as she spoke about that time, and she took a deep breath before continuing.
"Once my colleagues turned into ashes of sanctification… ha, I had such a terribly lonely time."
She had meditated and achieved peace, but as she grew old, she realized that there wasn't much time left for her to live. It caused her to come up with an idea.
Since she had already started counting her last breaths, she could now test the Qilin's Blood and see for herself how it felt.
"Since the Emperor was interested in the Qilin's Blood as well, we were able to extinguish the flames to an extent with the use of ten thousand year old snow."
Testing out the Qilin's Blood was her last resort. Surprisingly, she had actually succeeded in absorbing the fire for the first time.
Consuming the Qilin's Blood had caused her to regain her youthly beauty after undergoing metamorphosis.
"As my body succeeded in absorbing the energy, I began looking for a way to utilize the Qilin's Blood."
"The palace must have shown interest."
"Yes. But it didn't just stop with showing interest."
All their attempts to use the Qilin's Blood had failed.
They couldn't handle the flame energy even from the diluted Qilin's Blood.
"So you tested it on the women of the Imperial Palace?"
"Right. But before that… I made up a lie."
Ran-yeong had figured out that the diluted blood could be consumed by the female warriors, but to prevent the warriors from trying to hoard the blood, she had lied to the Emperor.
"In order to absorb the Qilin's Blood successfully the women couldn't have any internal energy."
The Emperor had no choice but to believe the words of the woman who had succeeded in absorbing the Qilin's Blood.
The Emperor had already lost a lot of skilled male warriors because of his greed.
"There were a few martial arts users in the Imperial Palace who used internal energy, but a thousand court ladies who had no energy."
And like that the Imperial Palace's Guardians had been made entirely of court ladies.
Ran-yeong knelt and spoke.
"I wanted to return back to the Ten Thousand Mountains before I ran out of breath. But I was the only one who could protect this."
Ran-yeong, who had survived alone, had wanted to inform the Demonic Cult of her findings.
A way to increase the power of the Demonic Cult, even if the results weren't accurate.
However, there was no guarantee that the Emperor would let her go to the Demonic Cult, especially after she had successfully absorbed the Qilin's Blood and knew information that no one else did. Ran-yeong was also worried that the Imperial Palace's officials would try to seize the Blood and increase their power.
"However, as the Lord of the Demonic Cult is now here in front me, I have no other wish than to turn into ashes of sanctification."
Seeing her cry made Yeowun feel uncomfortable.
She was the only person left after all these years, steadfastly maintaining her role.
If it was Chun Yeowun, he would have taken the power, given up on everything and escaped from the Imperial palace to spend the rest of his life in peace, but this woman had shown extreme loyalty.
"I, I respect you! Sunbae!"
Even Hu Bong had felt inspired by her.
'She is a true member of the cult!'
Chun Yeowun, who was extremely impressed with her loyalty, made a decision.
At first, he couldn't help but treat her with suspicion after meeting her in the Royal Shrine, but he'd put that behind him.
Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha! Cha!
The wrist guard on Chun Yeowun's hand transformed into a black sword.
It couldn't be seen from a distance, but a clear engraving called 'Sky Demon Sword' was written on the hilt of the black sword.
'Why the black sword? Hol… hold on! No, the real Sky Demon Sword!'
Ran-yeong couldn't hide her shock.
At first, she hadn't been able to recognize it because it was different from the Sky Demon Sword that she knew.
However, if it was a black sword, then it must be the legendary Sky Demon Sword.
'Unbelievable! He must be the reincarnation of Lord Chun Ma!'
Having the true sword instead of an imitation meant that he was most likely the reincarnation Lord Chun Ma.
Her eyes trembled with excitement.
Whilst still in shock and astonishment, Chun Yeowun spoke to her.
"I, Chun Yeowun, the 24th Lord of the Demonic Cult and the descendant of the Great Lord Chun Ma, commends you as the Warrior who faithfully fulfilled the command for all these years."
Not being able to hold back anymore, Ran-yeong burst into tears.
She hadn't thought that someone would commend her hard work.
She had only prayed every night to return back to the Ten Thousand Mountains one last time. However, Chun Yeowun's words of appreciation had washed away her sorrow.
But that wasn't the end.
"And in return for your marvelous efforts, the Lord grants you the position of the Clan's Great Elder, of the Dragon Fist Clan!"
It was a position that didn't exist in the current Demonic Cult.
Chun Yeowun had created a new position to commend Ran-yeong for her contribution over the years.
For nearly two hundred years, she had devoted herself to the Demonic Cult. Her martial arts were also at the same level as Great Guardian Marakim, and as such she was worthy of the title of Great Elder.
"H-how can I take that position…"
Ran-yeong was speechless.
The position had been given to her because she had devoted her life to serving the Demonic cult, but she had never expected to be treated so well.
Chun Yeowun smiled at her.
"This is a position which suits you the best. No need to be so humble."
"Ahhh! I am grateful for the Lord's considerations, Long live the Lord!"
Thud! Thud! Thud!
Not being able to hide her excitement, Ran-yeong's head hit the ground every time she bowed to thank him.
Starting off as a member of a clan to then become Great Elder, she had been greatly rewarded for all the time she had suffered in the underground of the Imperial Palace, unable to see the sunlight.
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