It wasn’t known what the bright red things really were. However, all the red dots were instinctively moving.
‘W-what is that?’
A cold sweat ran down Jo Gul’s back.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to be good news for them. As they saw the red dots moving, their bodies froze. It felt like their bodies were giving them a warning sign.
Sensing the crisis, he looked at Chung Myung. No matter how unusual that man was, he was still the most trustworthy person in such kinds of situations.
“What are they all?”
“Uh… they look like bats?”
“Yes. I think I heard about red-eyed bats somewhere, so…”
Chung Myung titled his head.
“But…are bats’ eyes normally red?”
Did that detail even matter now?
Chung Myung, who had been thinking quietly for some time, clapped his hands as if he remembered something.
“Ah, right! Hematophagy bat! It has to be that!”1
Hong Dae-Kwang, who was shocked, now carefully opened his mouth.
“… then all the red dots are the eyes of those bats?”
“Uh, seems like it.”
“T-then what do we do?”
“What do you mean? They are bats. We should just pass by.”
Chung Myung calmly took a step ahead, and the others all looked around with nervous faces.
‘Will it be fine?’
If they were just bats, then it shouldn’t be a huge deal. Some people avoided them because they were disgusting, but they had never heard of anyone dying from a bat bite.
So, everyone relaxed and carefully followed Chung Myung. At that moment, Baek Cheon leaned close to Chung Myung from the back and said,
“But Chung Myung.”
“I have heard of the hematophagy bats, but I’ve not heard anything about them having red eyes. Is it really true?”
“UH? Maybe not? From what I heard… ah!”
Chung Myung clapped his hands again.
“They might not be simple hematophagy bats. They have to be the Killer hematophagy bats. There are stories about how its bite can leave a person with all of their blood drained, only leaving their body. They’re hard to kill too, and are known to be sturdy and hard enough that even the sword with qi cannot cut in…”
The voice of Chung Myung gradually faded. And he looked back slowly.
Everyone was looking at him with trembling bodies and fearful gazes. Seeing that, he asked.
“… you know, right?”
He took a deep breath and walked one step. It was a movement filled with caution.
“What will happen if we move…”
“making noise …”
Chung Myung smiled brightly.
‘Will this even work?’
“We are finished.”
A sharp cry resounded, and it was so loud that they felt it would tear down their eardrums. The red-eyed bats flew towards them like a unified cloud as soon as that happened.
The moment when Chung Myung was about to tell them to run, the people behind him began to run past him.
“If we get caught, even our bones cannot be found! Run! Run!”
Chung Myung, who saw that, exhaled.
What? Shouldn’t they be like, ‘let’s die together and let’s live together?’ Isn’t that how the relationship between sahyungs is supposed to be like?
Seeing how his sahyungs were running ahead of him, tears found their way to his eyes. He couldn’t believe that they pushed him away to save themselves.
In the meantime, Baek Cheon, who was now quite ahead, was running without even looking back at Chung Myung.
‘That one, he is the kind of person who would want to live even if he is the only one who makes it out alive.’
‘Just looking at how well he has grown from the past makes me happy…’
“.. bastards! Y-You rotten bastards!”
The red-eye bats were rushing in at them from all directions.
Chung Myung also began to run ahead.
“Ahhhh! Why are there bats in this cave!”
“Since this is a cave, there are bats here! Your stupid bastard!”
“No! How could the ones which are only supposed to be in Yunnan even get in here!”
“How can I even know!?”
Hong Dae-Kwang also started to run ahead.
“Yak Seon, my ass! He is the one responsible for getting us all killed! He brought the bats all the way from Yunnan and released them here! Sahyung! My Sahyung! If I die in here, beat the shit out of that bastard!”
How can a dead person hit another dead person?
“No! Then, let’s call the sajaes and do it like in the past!”
“What are you mumbling to yourself, you mad man!”
If his Sahyung sect leader was alive…
‘That mad man went into the ground and took down the honor of Mount Hua along with him!’
That, too, he would have said that in the calmest voice.
And now, as if the bats wanted to punish Chung Myung, they were going after him. Chung Myung swung both his hands to strike down the bats near him.
‘W-what is this?’
When he hit the bat with his hand, it felt like he was pounding on a lump of iron. In Yunnan, it was said that if one went into the cave of the red-eyed bats, or the vampire bats, in an instant, you would be stripped down to your bones.2
“Be careful! Their claws are sharp!”
Chung Myung could slam the bats down, but the others couldn’t. The claws of the bats were eagerly trying to draw their blood by splitting open their uniforms and robes.
And as they smelled blood from their wounds, they started flying more fiercely than before. There were hundreds of bats in the air chasing them.
It was a sight that would make anyone lose hope.
“B-branch leader! My arm! My arm isn’t moving!”
“What? Damn it! Is it paralysis poison?”
Hong Dae-Kwang’s face contorted.
‘How can one bat have so many things in it!’
A body of steel and sharp claws like a sword. And then there was paralysis poison!
It was a monster even the best sect would have trouble handling. The problem was that such monsters weren’t attacking a whole sect, but a small number of people.
Hong Dae-Kwang felt a sharp pain in his shoulder, and when he looked, he found a bat attached to his shoulder.
“You bat fucking bastard!”
Hong Dae-Kwang screamed out loud and struck the bat. A little flesh was pulled out by the bat from his shoulder, and blood gushed out from the wound.
‘This is how everyone will die here.’
The wounds weren’t important. What was more important was the paralysis poison that would enter their body if they got bitten. If that happened, their movements would turn still, and all they could do would be to wait for the bats to devour them while they were alive!
“Don’t get bitten! Kill any bat which comes close to you!”
“Branch leader! Weapons don’t work! They move too strangely. Avoiding them is the only way we can advance!”
There was no time to be annoyed at people. Hong Dae-Kwang tried moving the bitten shoulder and stretched out his hand.
He executed the First form of the Immortal Palm of Eight, which the Beggars Union was so proud of. But the bat in front of him avoided it easily.
“It avoided it?”
A bat avoided the martial arts of the Beggars Union?
He felt a chill run down his spine.
‘How can such absurd beings even exist in this world?’
He knew that the world held countless things which he didn’t know of. But it was the Beggars Union who had their eyes everywhere, and technically, it was their job to know about everything out there.
And this feeling of not knowing something felt terrifying. Even if Hong Dae-Kwang did his best, would he be able to handle at least ten of these creatures?
He didn’t have confidence.
Moreover, this place didn’t have just ten but hundreds of these bats, and everyone would surely die.
“Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon! Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon! Please do something!”
In a crisis like this, the only person he could look for was Chung Myung.
Chung Myung drew out his sword with an annoyed face.
Hong Dae-Kwang turned back to urge him again but went silent.
Chung Myung had simply drawn his sword. The expression, the force… nothing changed after that.
It wasn’t known what the difference was, but it felt as if Chung Myung, who was running behind them, was different.
And that made Hong Dae-Kwang feel even more shocked.
The young one of Mount Hua, who brazenly opened his mouth and said whatever he wanted, suddenly disappeared, and there was a swordsman there in his place… a swordsman who had been through hundreds of battles.
And his sword moved slowly.
It felt like there was a wind blowing in from somewhere. Chung Myung’s sword moved gently. It felt like the tip of the sword was shaking, and dozens, maybe hundreds, of sword forms began to engulf the dark cave.
A plum blossom began to bloom at the tip of the sword forms which had appeared suddenly. It transitioned from small buds into flowers and then into full-bloomed ones. It was as if the entire cave had plum blossom trees within it.
Even though Hong Dae-Kwang knew that it wasn’t the case, he still couldn’t get himself together.
‘This is the martial arts of Mount Hua?’
Mount Hua’s Plum Blossom.
The Plum Blossoms of Mount Hua, which had once disappeared from the world’s memory, were now blooming again, right in front of Hong Dae-Kwang’s eyes.
The scent of plum blossoms began to fill the cave. Hong Dae-Kwang felt his body shudder at the scent. Despite knowing that this was happening just because of the sword, it felt like he was drifting away into some fantasy.
There were falling Flowers.
The plum blossoms began to flutter, and the petals of the plum blossoms followed the draft of wind and engulfed the cave like a blizzard away the bats.
The screams of the bats resounded everywhere.
The sound of the wings fluttering in desperation was heard by Hong Dae-Kwang.
The sound he heard a while back and what he was hearing now was different. This time, it was the sound of the bats being cut down by the sword of Chung Myung.
Hong Dae-Kwang realized that the plum blossoms which filled the cave had disappeared as if they had been swept away, and he sighed in regret.
The sword was back in the sheath.
Chung Myung let out a short sigh and lifted his head.
Hong Dae-Kwang had seen a man wielding his sword with force like a refined blade of…
“Bloody bat bastards don’t know who they are against!”
… forget it.
Chung Myung was back to his usual behavior and widened his shoulders in triumph.
If only he didn’t open his mouth, Hong Dae-Kwang would have felt impressed.
“What? You don’t want to pass through?”
Hong Dae-Kwang glanced back.
Not all of the bats were cut down. More than half of them were still alive, but they were sticking to the wall of the cave and glaring at them.
But they were animals. And they realized that the power of Chung Myung was higher, so they didn’t approach them and just kept threatening them with sounds.
‘A sword which instills fear in a flock of bats.’
No, can a group of bats be called a flock?
Hong Dae-Kwang felt that the entire situation was bizarre… or should he call this great?
Hong Dae-Kwang shook his head and looked at the end of the cave that they were fast approaching.
‘Damn it, I am so scared thinking about what new things might come.’
Hong Dae-Kwang bit his lip as he was walking.
‘Still, it was the right choice to stick with this brat.’
If it wasn’t for that, he would have died right from the start.
Hong Dae-Kwang looked at Chung Myung with eyes filled with trust.
Chung Myung, who knew what was happening, had a nice smile.
“Did you come here to play? Why do you keep looking at me?”
“The Beggars Union is done after this. So done.”
No, maybe not so trustworthy.
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