Episode 230

Epilogue (5)
3 weeks ago
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Above the Sky.

Smoke rose from an incense burner engraved with a nice image of clouds reaching the sky.

Eyes filled with golden light were watching this. The incense had no meaning, just an abstract form, but he stared at it, and it changed to the faces of people he once knew.

The boundary between consciousness and unconsciousness. After sitting like that for a long time, neither sleeping nor fully awake, the golden eyes opened wide, and there was this fluttering sound.

“…?”

Blurred forms swirled around.

When he lowered his gaze, his sword was shining bright yellow. The guardian spirits must have intervened when the sword spirit’s warning went unnoticed by its owner.

Maybe they were worried about the demonic qi losing control.

“Sorry. Sorry.”

Zaha reassured them, and the incense burned out.

If he was a little careless, such things could happen. This eerie sensation, as if his consciousness were drifting away, was something he had never experienced before.

Moments like these made him truly realize he wasn’t a normal human.

So what was he?

Since he had demonic qi, he should be a demonic being. A demonic being. A monster. A word that he wasn’t used to when it came to referring to himself.

And he mumbled to himself.

“Well, so what? I have both literary and martial arts skills, and I am at the top of the Hwarangs. It’s only natural to have such flaws to make it easier for others to approach me, right?”

“Right, right. Everyone should have some flaws.”

The door opened, with the couple entering. The tomb ghosts in the study were startled and fled abruptly.

“Bibi, Chunchun, mind your steps as you go.”

The couple laughed, emptied the incense burner, and wiped it clean. After staring at the ashes falling, he picked up a book.

After returning to the capital, he searched Jin Rim’s study and searched for all sorts of data, but he couldn’t find any mention of what to call beings like himself.

Well, there wouldn’t be any, neither before nor after.

He walked down the path no one had walked before. A sandy place appeared before his eyes. There were footprints behind him, but nothing ahead. He might have to walk forever.

Zaha mumbled.

“Should I head to India?”

“It is nice.”

While cleaning the lid of the incense burner, the couple smiled in response.

“Riding a camel, watching the sunset, lighting a fire and drinking…”

“Right. They say that nothing can be read because of the sandstorm, which covers everything. How good can that be?”

Zaha listened to the couple and flipped through the pages.

“Should we make some tea?”

“No.”

It was an evening he didn’t want to see anyone. However, he had a scheduled visit from an official who had connections with his family in the past.

If he refused, Zaun would surely come.

“How much is this? I wanted to pay my respects, but in the Hwarang’s Hall, it’s impossible to come across you.”

The official came and greeted him in a friendly manner and handed him a gift box.

“What’s all this for?”

Zaha opened the box, and there was this skull of an animal placed on red silk with a pattern on it.

Thick, ominous smoke billowed from the empty eye sockets.

His face stiffened.

“Do you not like it?”

The official asked.

This person knew nothing.

He must have bought it without any thought, just considering it as a gift.

Black smoke engulfed the entire study.

It felt as though a black sandstorm blew into his mind, erasing everything. From his memories, he barely managed to pull out an appropriate response.

“Since I’ve obtained a horse’s bone, I should hang it in front of the mansion immediately. Perhaps? Maybe within tomorrow, I’ll acquire three horses.”

“Haha! It won’t be just horses. Since we’ve overcome even the most dreadful calamities, you can obtain anything you seek.”

Long ago, a man named Nan Sei suggested a plan to gather talented horses for the king, and the purpose was to collect horse bones.

The rumors spread that he paid a hefty amount for them, and the number of dead horses began to pile up.

The official, looking at the skull, was thinking of the past.

He had no doubt that this was a good thing, and Zaha accepted it.

“In the end, money is everything, be it now or the past. If you want to save things and be talented, give money. Isn’t that what we already know?”

“Eh, what is this? It is said that where the money goes, so does the heart, so it is important to care for the right things. Since one returned with great determination, talents will follow as clouds.”

Zaha’s hand stopped at the official’s words.

Right.

Rumors had it that a heavenly being descended and turned into a human. Because of that, many called him a heavenly being.

This was a distant memory.

Zaha smiled.

“I don’t want people to know I am talented. I just want those who are there, to listen.”

The old man exchanged a few words before leaving. In the quiet study again, he looked down at the box.

The long head of the horse skull turned into a wolf’s bone with a short muzzle.

The heavenly being’s bone.

This was the bone of a slaughtered wolf.

The door to the opposite corridor opened silently.

“Noona! How did you manage to move that? Uh?”

There was this boy holding a sword and running down the hallway of Zaha’s house. A blushing girl turned back and laughed.

“You aren’t as light as me. If you hand over the colt bestowed to you, I will teach you…”

“Noona!”

The shadows vanished and reappeared.

“Governor! Governor!”

Jin Rim, dressed as a Hwarang, came running, and there were Seo Geom, Hwa Un, Baek Eon, and Mu Won chasing behind. They all looked very young.

“How did you fix it? I thought we were all going to be taken to the assessment office this time!”

“What are you talking about? Does that make sense? The Hwarangs almost accidentally destroyed the shrine while catching that spirit. If there is really holy power from the sky there, shouldn’t we have used our powers to block it before destroying it?”

“Oh my! Will you really say that in front of the Great Heavenly Pavilion?”

“I want to, but…”

Zaha, who had a boyish look, smiled roundly and then everyone burst into laughter.

Another shadow rose where they rushed.

“Governor! Governor!”

The hallway, where Zaha was, was shimmering. All those memories were definitely Zaha’s, but also not his.

Black demonic qi flowed from his fingertips. It became one with the smoke from the bones and swept through the study like waves.

The ghosts vanished and reappeared. He was worried, thinking, ‘Can a child handle this?’

Zaha shook his head.

“This much should work.”

The demonic qi, which lost its direction, began to turn. A power not gained through his training. A powerful force that no one else possessed.

But as he gained control over such power, he felt even more distant from being human.

‘Not so fun…’

Spiritual qi began to get tangled up like a spider’s web and were reflected in golden light in his eyes.

The two eyes of the wooden mask hidden in his clothes shone. The wave of demonic qi continued to stretch out.

He could handle something like this alone. However, as he was able to do that, he was getting closer to being a non-human.

“…Not fun.”

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