If one goes up the Great Plains and to the north, one will reach an area called Seeu.
Although the northern side of Seeu is often regarded as a place with blizzards year around, it still consisted of dense and coniferous mountains and grasslands.
Of course, it’s cold year-round, making it difficult to compare with Jianghu.
One could tell by just one look at the snow, which hasn’t melted on the peaks of the mountains.
It was cold, and it snowed often.
There was a huge lake hidden on the northern side of Seeu.
The name of the lake is Lake Baikal.
It was a huge lake incomparable to an average lake which you could find anywhere on the continent. The people who settled on Lake Baikal called it several different names.
The blue eyes on the cold earth.
There were several names, but the name most known to the people of Jianghu is Vast Lake, the sanctuary of the North Sea Ice Palace.
And inside it was a vast island.
Although the lake is enormous, the island’s total area is about 18 billion pyong (Korean unit of measurement).
It was unreasonable to dismiss such a massive island as a mere island.
That island contained shorter than average mountains and fields, and between mountain peaks on the southeast side, there was a huge palace nestled in like a fortress.
The exterior of the magnificent structure was not inferior compared to the main building of the Forces of Justice.
The un-melted white snow piled up on the red tiles made the fortress look like a castle made of snow.
People called that fortress the North Sea Ice Palace.
Just looking at it revealed beauty and tranquillity, making people feel calm, but currently, there were subtle tremors in the North Sea Ice Palace.
Not just the huge palace, but also the walls were shaking violently.
The epicenter of the tremors wasn’t that far from the North Sea Ice Palace.
The further north, the stronger the vibrations.
Further north, where the vibration was getting stronger, there was no grass, just barren land.
If you go up to the northwest, there was a place made of solid bare mountains that look like they were made up of piled soil.
This was the only place on the island which had no living things.
There was even a feeling of death spreading around that place.
Surrounded by the bare mountains, there was the tallest bare mountain, and the entrance to the cave was located at the bottom of that mountain, which had been cracked because of the strong vibrations.
The cave was deeper than it looked.
If one entered the cave and walked along a narrow passage for a long time, there would be a vast and expansive space in the cave, made entirely from blue ice.
The ice-like stones are called Adularia stones which had the property of turning harder as the cold increased.
The space was lit with numerous torches.
Nearly five hundred warriors in white fur had their hands on the floor of the space, which was lit with torches emitting cold qi.
The intensity of the cold they radiated barely maintained the ice’s hardness.
The warriors, dressed in white fur, were the people of the North Sea Ice Palace.
They were playing the role of infusing cold qi so that the Adularia stones wouldn’t break. However, they all looked exhausted.
“Hold on a little more! The next shift will come. Until then, we need to keep the cold qi flowing!”
The shouts of the North Sea Ice Palace warriors were vague.
A middle-aged man with short silver hair played the role of encouraging them. He was an elder of the North Sea Ice Palace, Oh Mubang.
Oh Mubang’s face was drenched in sweat.
He too was holding his palms on the floor, but he was also exhausted as he had been instilling cold qi into the cave for more than three hours straight.
The glacial cave shook.
The vibration got worse with time. Despite cold qi being injected into the cave, the cracks in the Adularia stones only worsened.
Oh Mubang’s face, who had been resting his palms on the ice floor, was unusual.
It felt more vivid when he had his palms on the floor.
The terrifying beating of the monster, who was struggling to climb up through the sealed ice.
Every time he felt a throb, he was terrified to the point of nearly having a heart attack.
‘Any more than this is impossible.’
The Dragon Spirit, whose seals were released, kept growing stronger as the warriors turned weaker.
The cold qi injected in the Adularia stones in three shifts ended up reaching its limit.
That was how the cold worked.
The new shift of five hundred men arrived at the exit side of the cave.
Seol Yi-jong was the one who brought them, but despite having their breakfast, they all looked utterly exhausted.
“Elder, we are here to change.”
That was when Oh Mubang responded to Seol Yi-jong with a serious expression.
“I don’t think that this will last any longer.”
“… I felt the vibration while coming here. The vibrations are strong enough that they can be felt from the palace too.”
“Kuak! It would be better for us to fight the bloody Dragon Turtle with all our forces in the palace than keeping this one locked up and exhausting ourselves.”
At the complaint of elder Oh Mubang, elder Seol Yi-jong nodded.
It was very evident that their warriors were exhausted.
Everyone was scared, but some people thought that fighting and dying was better than this.
“Be patient. Once the Yulin contingents come, even those who don’t want to fight will have to go and fight that monster to the death.”
“Ha! That bastard! He!”
“Elder! The men are listening, so…”
“Did I say anything wrong? There is no guarantee when those strangers will arrive, and we are being forced to sacrifice ourselves here… huh?”
While the elder Oh Mubang complained in anger, someone rushed to the exit side of the cave and shouted so that all the people inside could listen.
“Y-Yulin contingents have arrived!!!”
At that cry, both the elder’s eyes widened as they looked at each other.
Right when they were all getting frustrated with the work, the Yulin contingents finally arrived.
Oh Mubang got up from the ground and asked.
“Where are they all now?”
“They are in…”
The pier in the southeast of the island.
The scale of Baikal Lake was so vast that it could be called a river or sea. Naming it a lake was a ridiculous decision.
There were two ways to enter the island.
Crossing by boat from the southeast or crossing by taking the ferry for a short distance from the northwest, it was better to cross by boat, as the latter took up too much time.
At the dockside, many palace officials from the North Sea Ice Palace gathered.
After hearing the news that Yulin’s contingents were crossing the lake, they rushed to greet them.
Looking out from the pier, one couldn’t even see the other side of the lake.
Above the watchtower perched up on a nearby hill, a middle-aged man and an elderly-looking man with white hair in grey robes with ornate pattering looked at the lake.
They were Dan Jucheon, the deputy king of the North Sea Ice Palace, and 1st elder Seol Young-gwi.
“See over there, my lord. It isn’t large, but we need to be happy.”
The Yulin’s contingents came a long way and were waiting to be greeted by the deputy king.
“Don’t call for them just yet. 1st elder.”
“You right my king, excessive humility isn’t good either.”
Dan Jucheon smiled lightly at Seol Young-gwi’s words.
Most people were already calling him the king instead of deputy king, as he had 80 percent of the control in the North Sea Ice Palace.
Dozens of ships could be seen in the middle of the vast lake.
In half an hour, they’ll arrive.
“I hope that the prince is not on their ship.”
Dan Jucheon’s eyes, which smiled at Seol Young-gwi, turned cold.
Although the roles changed, at one time, the prince was his nephew, whom he taught martial arts.
“… don’t talk about the prince anymore.”
“Even if you are offended by this old man’s words, there is nothing we can do about it. Without him, the king will be able to unite the remaining people more naturally. I think we would be fortunate if the Demonic Cult took care of him.”
All the elders opened their arms and welcomed the report from Dan Juseong that their prince was going to ask the Demonic Cult for reinforcements.
Even outside Jianghu, everyone knew that the infamous Demonic Cult would never grant people’s requests.
If he came back alive, it would be a miracle.
Seol Young-gwi spoke while looking at Dan Jucheon, who seemed pissed.
“Don’t you think that the former king brought this all upon us? If the former king hadn’t promoted the prince, who had no talent, as the crown prince, such a mess wouldn’t have happened.”
Most of the elders, even 1st elder Seol Young-gwi, were against it.
North Sea Ice Palace had a strict system based on merit.
In such a place, it was unacceptable for a person who achieved nothing as the prince to get placed on the throne just because he is the eldest son of the king.
“Maybe the former king thought that if the treasure was found the situation wou…”
Seol Young-gwi, who had been talking for a long time, was taken aback.
It was because Dan Jucheon was staring at another side of the lake.
‘What is he looking at?’
Dan Jucheon was known to be a Supreme Master who was skilled among all the warriors of the North.
At the call from an elder, Dan Jucheon frowned.
“… it seems that the situation is completely different from our expectations.”
“They are still far away so I can’t see clearly, but those black… I think it's them.”
“What do you mean?”
Dan Jucheon, the deputy king of the palace, spoke in a low voice.
At those words, Seol Young-gwi’s expression hardened.
Dozens of ships were crossing Lake Baikal.
Among them, the leaders of Yulin were aboard the ship furthest ahead.
Everyone in there couldn’t help but admire the vast lake, which was transparent and beautiful, almost forgetting about the Dragon Turtle.
A view which they could never see in Jianghu.
If it wasn’t for the cold weather, they wouldn’t have felt such a difference.
Jegal Sohi, who was admiring the superb view for a while, approached commander Kang Soah, who was looking at the faintly visible island from the ship.
Kang Soah didn’t respond to her call.
He kept looking ahead.
Jegal Sohi held back a bitter smile on her face as if she was getting used to his cold attitude.
“Leader Kang. The warriors of the contingent haven’t rested properly because of our plan to get here quickly. Why not ask the deputy king about giving them one day to rest if the situation isn’t urgent?”
Because of Dan Juseong, who said that the situation in the North Sea Ice Palace was urgent, their journey was made in haste.
Except for when the horses were given some time to breathe, no warriors had ample sleep. All the warriors in the contingent were tired.
It was highly unreasonable to travel as far as they did in just ten days.
At Jegal Sohi’s repeated call, Kang Soah responded coldly.
“As the commander, it is my decision to make. I didn’t come here as a warrior, so pay attention to what you are supposed to do.”
This made her upset.
She even thought it would have been better if she asked Moyong Kang, one of the leaders, to deliver the message to Kang Soah.
She knew how much Kang Soah hated everything related to Yeon Buso.
‘What I don’t like is my second priority, I don’t get why he had to insist on such an unreasonable march. If our warriors get too exhausted, dispatching them would be difficult.’
They knew that the situation was urgent, but after the meeting with the Great Hung Clan’s chief, Kang Soah hastened their advance.
He even decreased the break for the horses to rest from five times to three times a day.
Thanks to that, more than 30 horses died from exhaustion.
‘Something doesn’t feel right.’
It was because of the unique gut feeling that Kang Soah had recently.
He had a better sense of situation than others, and the night he negotiated with the Great Hung Clan, he felt something ominous.
That unsure instinct made him hurry even more.
“Huh, I can’t do this anymore. Do as you wish.”
Jegal Sohi, who had been holding her anger back, couldn’t anymore. Having said what she wanted to, she went into her cabin on the ship to get some rest.
It was then.
A commotion was heard from the rear of the ship.
To be precise, it seemed like the sound was coming from the ships following them and not the one they were on.
“What is it?”
“I think something has happened. Miss Jegal.”
Moyong Kang, who was resting in his cabin, came out and said to her,
“I think we should go and take a look.”
As a result, Jegal Sohi and all the leaders moved towards the tail of the ship.
Since dozens of ships were crossing the lake, the entire back of their ship covered, they couldn’t see the cause of the commotion, only the loud shouts could be heard.
‘What is it?’
Puzzled, Kang Soah focused on the sounds coming from the ships.
The warriors on the ship seemed to be shouting in shock and awe.
“No way… that is ridiculous!”
“No, they are running on water!”
“Is that even possible?”
The shouts from the back ships were all about someone running on water.
It had been nearly a day since their ships set sail, and they were still a long way from land.
They were supposed to be halfway there.
Hwang Bo-neung, the head of the Hwang Bo clan, spoke to Moyong Kang.
“What do they mean by running on water?”
Moyong Kang frowned and mumbled.
People who reached a certain level ascended light⁽¹⁾ allowing them to use this technique to run on the surface of water.
Though not as known as walking in the air, warriors who have reached a certain level require a high energy level to run even on the shortest distance on water.
However, running on such a vast lake is close to impossible.
“Is that possible? This is such a wide lake. What the heck did they see to speak those nonsensical words… huh?”
Hwang Bo-nueng, who was complaining, stopped.
He doubted his own eyes.
Not just him, but everyone at the back of the ship looked at the same place with gaping mouths.
To their surprise, they saw a figure running across the lake at great speed.
The water rippled where this man stepped, making the water look like a soft bed.
A genuinely electrifying skill.
‘How can such a thing be possible in this huge lake?’
Everyone was shocked. However, the figure moving towards them suddenly climbed onto the back of one of the ships Yulin contingents were on.
The people on the ship, the warriors of the contingent, pulled out their weapons.
At that time, Moyong Kang and Jegal Sohi shouted at the same time.
The white-faced man swept his long hair to the back.
He was the Lord of the Demonic Cult, Chun Yeowun.
Everyone was startled, but Chun Yeowun looked at everyone on the ship with sharp eyes and spoke with a cynical voice.
“Who is Kang Soah?”
Kang Soah’s face turned perplexed as he heard his name coming out of Chun Yeowun’s mouth.
⁽¹⁾ Neither I nor the translator are 100% sure what “Ascended Light” means. My interpretation is that at a certain level, martial arts “Ascend Weight” and are no longer bound to how heavy or light they are. I decided to leave it as is until the author clarifies what it means.
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