Chapter 18 - Nirvana Painting (1)

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Paper, brush, mirror.

These were the tools usually used for summoning ghosts. In a way, they were similar to drawing tools.

‘Since ancient times, it has been said that a painting has a soul of its own…’

With that thought in mind, Seol Young left the Moon Palace.

There was nothing special to prepare besides the tools he always used. It was crucial to move quickly because the incident had already happened.

The problem was the one behind him.

“High Governor! Are you going to the site right now?”

“It cannot be helped. I have to go and keep an eye on him.”

“If Seol Young-rang fails because of that strange incident and there is no one to handle it, what will happen?”

“Even if there is a possibility, it is a Hwarang’s duty to give him a chance because the person himself feels this is unfair. The Governor and I have a plan for getting things done, so don’t worry and do your job.”

“Yes, High Governor. It is quite reassuring to have you come forward like this.”

The conversation behind his back—that was what annoyed him. Even the crows began to crow loudly after they left the Moon Palace.

Seol Young stood for a moment, and a voice came from behind.

“On high alert?”

“No, not at all.”

“I see you are confident. It seems that the painting that kills dozens of people will be solved as soon as we reach there.”

“Not that…”

“So, did you think of a solution?”

As he walked, Zaha asked.

“Can you tell me how you are planning to solve it?”

“The revived painting has to be destroyed completely. And the people caught in the picture…”

Seol Young went silent for a moment, thinking about what to do about that.

Zaha asked again.

“What about the people captured in the painting?”

“It must be similar to the reason why demons and evil spirits were kidnapping people. Demons need the qi in a human to get stronger.”

“Then they are already dead. It has been days already.”

“…”

Even Seol Young, when he thought about it rationally, realized it.

“We have to find the bodies. No matter what.”

That was the solution.

The weight of the work he had to do was huge. Seol Young kept his mouth shut and quickly walked down the streets of Sorabeol.

Soon, they arrived on the scene.

‘Red Flower House.’

It was the house of the official’s neighbor, who reported the incident to the palace. It was a mansion with cherry trees.

But the cherry blossoms were white.

So why was it called the Red Flower House, then?

When he reached the house, he could see why. Each tree bore bright red cherries. It looked as if the trees were covered in blood.

Seol Young looked at it and then at Zaha.

“They should have named it Cherry House, but it must have sounded too obvious and not cool. So maybe they renamed it?”

“Shh.”

Seol Young asked him to be silent and put his hand on the ground.

And Zaha asked,

“What are you doing?”

He ignored it because he had no obligation to answer, and he pulled out a piece of paper to record.

“If this means nothing, then it is just an act of…”

“No…!”

Seol Young said as if it were absurd.

“I am trying to see where the ruckus is coming from.”

“Why?”

“Usually, in places where the evil spirits do harm, Yin energy can be felt. But there was none of that here. Just like when a tiger appears, the animals in the forest vanish, making the mountain quiet. We can feel how powerful and evil the painting is.”

“Aha. That is what you meant.”

Zaha nodded as he walked closer to the mansion wall. It was noisy inside.

“Non-humans are quiet, but humans, on the contrary, are noisy.”

Then he looked at Seol Young.

“What do we do? As soon as we move in, we will meet a troublesome opponent first.”

“What are you talking about? The ghosts have vanished?”

Seol Young strode in. And at that moment, they met.

Someone was coming out of the house.

A Hwarang.

In dark purple and black robes. He was tall and confident, but on the other hand, he had this sensitive expression.

It was Mu Won of the Black Tortoise Godly Troops.

“…”

It is said that you meet your enemies on the narrowest bridge, and the atmosphere here is bad.

‘Come to think of it, the Governor did say that he sent some Hwarangs first.’

He heard the story but didn’t care much about it. There was this strange tension between both sides.

“I am relieved that the High Governor is here.”

“It was a heavy step to take.”

Those weren’t words one says for themselves, but they are said by others!

This man was called the High Governor, but he was shameless to the core.

Zaha calmly asked,

“But Mu Won-rang, why is it noisy inside?”

“Because the families of the missing have gathered, and we did try to calm them, but they…”

For a moment, there was a bitter look on his face.

“Well, it is said that the Hwarangs, who came first, found some kind of evil spirit and sealed it. It appears to be the evil spirit in the painting that caused this.”

Um?

Seol Young was shocked.

An evil spirit in the painting?

Mu Won continued.

“When the evil spirit was subdued, the paintings also stopped being active. We tried to break down the wall and take the people out, but somehow they wouldn’t budge. It will take a long time, so I am heading back first.”

“Right. The work back at the clan is important.”

“Yes. Then we will head in first.”

After Mu Won said his goodbyes to Zaha, he left, and Seol Young looked at him.

As he passed through the gate, Mu Won’s body shook slightly.

He had trouble with his right leg. It would be difficult to notice unless one carefully observed it.

When he turned his head, Zaha was staring at him with a curious face.

“I warned you, but you moved in first. I knew you didn’t get along well with the Five Clans, but I guess your relationship with the Black Tortoise Troops is worse. What happened?”

“That is something I don’t have to answer. I won’t mind those personal questions you are asking and will move ahead to take the mission seriously. I will work on the mission right away.”

“But I am curious….”

Seol Young ignored his words and went in.

He noticed the serious atmosphere.

“Honey! Answer me! Honey, can you hear me?”

“I prayed to God for a thousand days, and the child that I got with much difficulty is trapped! Please let me find the body!”

“Mother! You worked hard all your life. What will I do if you leave like this?”

The interior of the house was empty, with the furniture and decorations removed, a black wall exposed, and people banging on the wall.

“Calm down. You will fall.”

“Get me some water!”

Jong Pung, the second member of the Black Tortoise, could be seen.

They were working hard to calm the families of the victims, but it didn’t work. They were looking around and became puzzled when their eyes met Seol Young’s.

“…”

An awkward silence passed.

‘Work is work, nothing more.’

Seol Young was the one who greeted first.

“Black Tortoise second member.”

“Seol Young-rang.”

Jong Pung greeted back.

“I heard you were coming.”

“Yes. But is it true that the spirit was captured?”

“You heard it.”

Jong Pung cautiously said.

“The Hwarang who came first found an evil spirit here. And he seemed to have an ugly appearance with a brush in hand. It was guessed that it was the spirit of the painter who drew the painting a hundred years ago and caught it right away.”

‘It is strange.’

Seol Young felt suspicious again.

It takes great power to create a bloody coup that can kill dozens of people in one night. And with power comes a price.

‘I would have had to give my intact soul for that.’

So how could the soul of a painter be here?

While he was lost in thought, Jong Pung called the landlord.

“This is Seol Young-rang, who will be handling the case. Please tell him in detail what happened within.”

“Yes, yes.”

The man nodded.

“Was it around a month ago? One day, some of the paintings began to appear on the walls of our house. I have no reason to lie, okay? These are not lies!”

He continued.

“When someone passes by in the middle of the night, the painting suddenly comes to life and tries to stop or harm them. And a hand reaches out to catch the person and throws water! And the swords that the soldiers were holding keep popping out!”

Seol Young asked, not understanding this.

“Are you saying you just put up with all of it?”

“Well, there was a wedding happening in the house…”

The owner’s face was worried.

“The eldest child was supposed to marry someone from the Royal Palace’s troops. I tried to keep it until my daughter got married, but this ended up happening. To prepare for the wedding, the seamstress, furniture maker, and various people came to visit at the same time, and while we got distracted…”

The landlord looked at the weeping people. It was a face of sadness.

“They were moving around, and they sneaked into the large room where the legend was located. Hearing the children’s scream, the families rushed in, but they also screamed, yelling, ‘Please save me, the painting has caught us…’”

“You heard that clearly?”

“Yes. Of course. There was no one around when we arrived. We could only hear the screams from inside the walls asking for help. But then the sound died.”

“No!”

The person who seemed to be the seamstress cried.

“They have not vanished! I heard it last night. It was the voice of the granddaughter from the house over there. She yelled for someone to help her!”

The others wept too.

“He said that since it’s been four days, we should give up hope. But what if they are alive? I want to know if they are alive or dead!”

“Why are the walls not moving? My child, where the hell is my child stuck? It is my fault! All my fault! I should have left my child at home, but no, I had to bring my child here!”

The wailing, which had stopped for a while, started again. Some even tried to bang their heads against the wall.

It was a sad sight.

Seol Young stared at them blankly and suddenly realized…

Why is it so quiet?

When he looked for Zaha, he was alone in the corner. He had a languid expression with his golden eyes.

“It strangely feels good.”

A black haze rose from behind him. The dark energy in the house reacted to that.

In one moment, when Seol Young took his eyes off of him, Zaha went crazy.

“Come out!”

When Seol Young said it coldly, everyone looked at them in surprise.

He forgot that there were eyes watching.

“I think there is a ghost… here.”

He quickly turned around and grabbed him.

Zaha made excuses.

“I was just standing here because I was in a good mood.”

“Yeah, I believe that.”

Grief, anger, remorse.

This place was flooded with negative emotions that people poured out.

“If these bad feelings accumulate here, the Yang qi in the house will be suppressed, and the Yin qi will rise. It is like giving more wings to the evil spirits, so this has to be cleaned up.”

“Clean?”

“Before dealing with the evil ones, we need to correct the Yin-Yang flow. If not, nothing will change.”

Seol Young looked at the people in despair.

“They have to be calmed down first.”

“That is good to say…”

Zaha expressed his doubts.

“Is that possible? What the other Hwarangs couldn’t do even though they tried hard can be done now?”

“It is because their method was wrong. In a situation like this, will they calm down because we ask them to?”

Seol Young said so and went to the people of the Black Tortoise.

“Jong Pung-rang, tell everyone to leave. I will calm them down.”

The man looked at him with a puzzled face.

“How? Everyone is frustrated, as if the sky has fallen on them, and they aren’t listening to us. Then how can Seol Young-rang do it?”

To which Seol Young said,

“There is a way.”

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