Chapter 24 - Nirvana Painting (7)

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Zaha didn’t seem to believe him.

“A lie.”

“Then watch carefully. I will show you.”

Seol Young turned around.

“Quite an odd way to escape…”

Seol Young ignored his words and headed for the garden.

After a while….

Tring!

There was a faint sound of bells when Seol Young came back, and a large number of people were following behind him.

Their faces were rather blurred. And regardless of sex or age, everyone looked the same.

It was a horrifying sight considering their current situation, and Zaha asked,

“What is this?”

Seol Young replied with a snort,

“Huh? I dug up the bodies that were buried in the garden.”

Zaha frowned at his reply.

Seol Young spoke coldly,

“Why? Despite being a Great Demon, you think a corpse is scary?”

Zaha didn’t respond, but he held out his hand. He pulled something out of the nape of the man standing behind Seol Young.

It was a bamboo leaf.

Swish.

The person turned into a small piece of paper and fell.

“Seol Young-rang! You make such amusing jokes!!”

Zaha snickered.

“The corpses aren’t the problem. The problem is their faces! Even the king of the underworld would find it creepy if you dug up bodies with such spooky faces.”

As he was talking, he turned the bamboo leaf over.

“This is how the Michu King of Silla used to make soldiers in the past. Are you planning to use bamboo leaves as your shield?”

And he mumbled.

“Quite good.”

It was annoying to hear this, but Seol Young felt proud as he was admired for the first time.

“The soul and blood of the painter fed the painting when it was first made. It needs the qi of the living to keep moving. But I don’t know why it hasn’t been able to absorb the people it has caught yet.”

“This means that it must be starving right now.”

Zaha nodded his head.

“So, are you thinking about throwing them as bait?”

“Right. It would be a good bait for normal people without spiritual energy.”

“But I’m going to be honest. These aren’t people but dolls.”

“Let’s talk about it after we’ve tried it out.”

Seol Young waved the bell.

Whisper…

The bizarre group of people began to open their mouths and speak.

Zaha’s eyes shone.

Some were leaning over, some stood at an angle, and some were twirling their hair.

They moved naturally, and those who didn’t move naturally didn’t move at all.

When they were together, it seemed like they were truly alive.

Zaha stared at him as if he was bewitched.

‘He forgot to make fun of me. For the first time…’

Seol Young became more proud of his technique. It was a technique he was proud of.

“To deceive a ghost, you need to become a ghost.”

He went ahead and explained.

“The essence of this technique lies in the four characters ‘Ever Changing Everything in Nature.’ They can be noisy, but they can also be quiet. They can move, but they can also stay still. The unpredictable nature of change is what makes something natural.”

If he didn’t understand this as well, then…

There was a hint in those words.

Zaha finally took his eyes off the dolls and asked with what looked like a smile on his face.

“Who taught you that?”

“The ghosts.”

Seol Young stopped talking and focused.

Whisper…

As time went on, the dolls moved more smoothly.

Ever. Changing. Everything. In Nature.

Seol Young focused on the four letters, and the puppets moved more smoothly as a result.

The creepy feeling they were giving off was gone, and now, despite having spooky faces, they no longer seemed awkward.

And something strange happened….

Shh

The door, which had been shut until then, opened, and they were greeted by a bright atmosphere.

And Zaha began to walk inside as if it were the natural thing to do.

Seol Young, however…

“Wait.”

He said.

“Will you stop me?”

“I won’t stop you, but I also cannot just let you in. The energy inside is too much. If a foreign qi mixes with it, the painting might notice, and it will ruin the effort I…”

He handed him a small pouch.

And Zaha asked,

“What is this?”

“A talisman. It will conceal your qi for a while, so hold it tightly.”

“…?”

His golden eyes widened.

“It’s strange. This sudden kindness…”

“Kindness?”

Seol Young replied.

“It’s not like you will help even after coming inside, right? Rather, you are coming to keep an eye on what I do inside.”

Seol Young went inside, leading the dolls.

The painting had taken over the house. It could now spread through the walls and extend its hands everywhere.

When the prey had entered its space, the spirits screamed in joy. Numerous arms gracefully stretched out and snatched the numerous dolls.

And while this was happening, the two men headed into the house.

Seol Young ran and looked back for some reason.

Could he possibly guess why the painting was unable to absorb the spiritual energy from the people?

He thought hard about it, but he couldn’t think of anything.

The Avalokiteshvara grabbed the dolls and put them into its mouth without hesitation, then realized they were all fake.

The Avalokiteshvara roared in anger.

It was loud enough to make their heads hurt, then something swelled up inside its stomach.

‘I should cover my ears!’

The golden crown above its head trembled, and its hair ran wild in rage. Its two eyes were slit long and were filled with white flames.

The fact that these people were fake was driving it into madness. It was furious that it couldn’t absorb their spiritual energy.

The results were terrifying.

The dolls were being slaughtered.

The dolls were burned black by the fire it made. The huge group of men and women were being crushed. They were burned, whipped, and trampled to death.

‘Even if they are just dolls, this is…’

It made him feel bad about the deaths that had happened.

‘Does it have to be this cruel?’

Because of the painting’s anger, even the talismans he used were losing their power.

He barely found the shrine and ran towards it. There was a small space that could only fit four to five people. Before he could even close the door, arrows were already flying.

Kwag!

Zaha managed to shut the door, and all the whip-like things that were crawling inside were cut off.

“It will be dangerous here too.”

“Still, we need to make the most of our time.”

Seol Young put a talisman on the door and wrapped several layers of defense over it.

Only then did the noise outside fade away.

‘We don’t have time.’

Seol Young turned to the shrine.

The letters on the wall were so old that they had faded, and one could barely make out the four letters written.

‘Nirvana Rebirth’.

Below was an altar with lit candles and burning incense. A bundle was placed in the middle, which turned yellow over the years.

“This is it.”

Seol Youn approached it.

“The fact that it was kept well and wasn’t damaged shows that it was something that belonged to the painter and was important to him.”

Zaha looked around.

“There is nothing else besides this. That means we cannot get out alive if we don’t find anything here.”

“It is fine. I am sure we can find something. What happened a hundred years ago?”

Seol Young unpacked the bundle on the altar.

They were papers and paints. They were in good condition since no one seemed to have touched them for a long time.

“A white quilt paper.”

Zaha took a close look at the items.

“The brushes are of good quality. If someone said this belonged to a royal painter, I’d believe them.”

“Because they say he was famous for quite a long time.”

Seol Young unfolded the wad of paper.

A white quilt paper, also known as Silla paper, was so good that even foreigners who visited tried to get some.

Artists were known to be able to freely draw on them.

It was a habit. And he looked at the paper.

Freshness, flowers, birds, hunting….

Despite being unfinished, they all seemed to be moving in the paper.

Having such an outstanding talent and giving up his soul for this, Nirvana deserved to be this powerful.

Seol Young picked up the painting and started to feel it.

But he couldn’t feel anything.

Was it blocked? Or was it too old to tell its story? Or maybe they were just normal paintings?

Just in case, he touched each paper separately and thought they would show him something.

But he couldn’t see anything.

Zaha asked as if waiting.

“Does it appear to be going as planned?”

“Wait.”

There was another bundle. Seeing that it was wrapped separately, it felt like a keepsake.

“This looks like another painting…”

The moment he tried to unite it, sparks flew as if something were blocking it.

‘As I thought.’

Seol Young’s expression changed.

“This is the real deal.”

He drew his sword and tried to cut it, but only sparks flew.

Seol Young raised the spirit qi in his Blue Rainbow Sword and cut the bundle.

Pat!

More sparks flew.

Black energy suddenly rose and attacked Seol Young. His hand reflexively moved to defend against it.

The black energy shrank back, but the seal was still firm.

He had to open it.

Seol Young raised his spirit qi and tried using a stronger talisman but to no avail. The seal on the bundle seemed strong.

“Wrong.”

Zaha said, and Seol Young felt it too.

The evil energy outside the shrine turned more violent, as if Seol Young’s attempt had provoked it.

The door continued to rattle, with black smoke flowing through the cracks.

“This will put us in danger.”

Zaha looked at the gaps.

“Seol Young-rang, why don’t you stop being stubborn and just admit it? From the start, this wasn’t meant to work. Do not get too greedy and return to your clan.”

“…”

“Haven’t you done everything? Still, it will be enough to just get us out of here. Of course, you will have to give up on solving this case.”

“…”

“You will fail to accomplish the king’s order, but it is still better to be alive. Or maybe you can even run away…”

Seol Young looked at Zaha without saying anything.

He was right.

This spirit was unusually strong. Head-to-head fights were never a good idea, especially when there was no solution, so he had to consider escaping.

But he couldn’t.

“When I told the Governor that I would solve the strange incidents happening on my own, I had the determination and stubbornness to get it done. They weren’t some light-hearted words.”

Seol Young said calmly.

“No matter who comes, this case will not be solved. All thirteen people are alive, but there is no way to get them out of the painting. Then everyone will die for real. So I need to find a way. I have come this far, so I will not give up.”

No matter what people say to him, he will not be shaken.

He was sure and determined.

“They say the dead don’t talk, but they actually do. Who wants to know the story of the dead if they tell it like a riddle? But once it is solved, it would be easy to know the story.”

And again, he looked down at the talisman.

The black energy was slowly creeping in and becoming thicker. There was no time. It seemed like he should give up on this bundle for now.

‘Let’s check this out some other time.’

The opponent was pushing in, so Seol Young couldn’t divert his attention away from it.

‘I cannot be nervous now.’

This was a critical situation, and his eyes and ears would get blocked if he got nervous.

He tried to hold his composure and looked carefully to see what he was missing, and then his eyes stopped on something.

Seol Young stared at the painting.

Um…?

He hurriedly laid out all the talismans and things on the ground.

And there was one strange thing.

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