Teeth clenched hard enough to shatter any moment.
Fists tight enough to draw dark red blood.
Trembling and convulsions that couldn’t be controlled.
Anger enough to turn his hair white1
Red. Everything was red. Everything before his eyes was stained scarlet with blood.
The lush green mountain peak was stained blood-red; its very nature was swept away in a single day.
Death. All that was left was death.
What purpose did all this bloodshed serve?
Chung Myung clawed at the hilt of the sword embedded in his shoulder, drawing out the broken length of the Plum Blossom Sword.
His left arm was gone—only the torn scraps of his sleeve flapped in the wind. His legs were unwounded, yet he could barely move. His stomach gaped open with a hole the size of an infant’s head.
And yet, Chung Myung couldn’t feel the pain.
The pain of his body was nothing compared to the turmoil in his heart.
“…Sahyung2 Jang Mun.” He discovered the discarded corpse of Jang Mun of Mount Hua Sect.
Why was it so unfair? Why were the dead unable to even close their eyes?
“Sajae3…” Sajae Chung Gong’s bisected body haunted him.
Everyone was dead.
All of Mount Hua Sect’s best and brightest, who had promised to climb the mountain together, to safeguard their territory, to spread their names far and wide, had departed to a place from which they could not return.
And their Sajils followed them.
Chung Myung clenched his teeth.
Theirs was a noble sacrifice. Their death was just and glorious.
But who would dare praise their deaths? Who would dare!?
Chung Myung’s gaze locked on to the perpetrator, the one who had roused his unfathomable rage.
The Demon from the skies, the leader of the Heavenly Demon Sect: the Heavenly Demon5.
The sight of this despicable man sat cross-legged in the sea of blood and gore evoked strange emotions in Chung Myung. Even in this hellish scene, the Heavenly Demon appeared supremely serene.
No, “serenity” didn’t suit him now. Dozens of swords pierced his body, and two spears pierced his stomach. Everyone had spent their lives to topple that demon.
The battle between the final squad, consisting only of the elite of the sects, and the Heavenly Demon ended in annihilation.
Was it satisfactory? Would the dead rest peacefully?
They would not.
Even if they did, Chung Myung couldn’t. It took everything he had left to stop the rage from stealing his rationality.
The Heavenly Demon’s pale, empty eyes opened to gaze into the blue sky.
“…Mount Hua Sect.” Three words spilled from his lips.
The words eternally inscribed on Chung Myung’s heart now emerged from the demon’s mouth.
“How unfortunate, disciple of Mount Hua Sect. If only you could get out of here, you could boast of your achievements.”
“…Shut your disgusting mouth.”
“You can still be proud of your actions. With the help of countless people, your sword finally reached my body.”
“Shut up!” Chung Myung’s stomach churned just from hearing the name of his sect from that wretched mouth.
“How unfortunate.” The Heavenly Demon was dying. Even as the greatest demon in all of time, he cannot survive his dantian breaking and his organs being ruined.
Terminal lucidity—his appearance was nothing more than his last gasps of life.
But why? Why did a dying man seem so relaxed!? Chun Ma was incomprehensible to Chung Myung.
“If I were given just one more day, I would have truly become a being worthy of the name “Heavenly Demon”. This is fate as well.”
Chung Myung gripped the sword he’d pulled out of his shoulder. The sharply forged blade cut his palm.
At the end of a long and terrible war, Chung Myung limped towards the Heavenly Demon.
“Remember this, disciple of Mount Hua Sect.” Chun Ma’s eyes seemed devoid of emotion, even as Chung Myung approached. “This is not the end. The Demons will return. And when that happens, the world will be conquered by the Demons. The Demons can never be stoppe—”
The Heavenly Demon’s head fell to the ground.
Chung Myung crushed the head of the Heavenly Demon, eyes still open.
The war was over. The world would remember their victory. But Chung Myung knew: there was no victory here. No one won this war.
Finally, Chung Myung no longer had the strength to stand. His inevitable death was coming.
Chung Myung raised his head to the sky. Even after such bloodshed, the sky was still blue, as if indifferent to the happenings of earth.
What will happen to the Mount Hua Sect? Everyone who climbed the mountain was dead. Even if anyone had survived, they were probably on their last breaths. No clan had suffered as much as Mount Hua Sect.
“Sahyung Jang Mun… I told you.”
“Don’t give your all in every task,” he’d said. Now Mount Hua Sect would be buried on this mountain. All the disciples had followed their masters to death. All that was left were the children, who knew nothing about Mount Hua Sect.
And… regret. It was regret.
Was there any meaning to what happened? Did the spilled blood of Mount Hua Sect mean anything?
“I don’t know anymore. Sahyung Jang…” Chung Myung fell onto his side.
His pure white robes, painted with a five-leaf plum blossom, splayed out before his eyes.
A lonely end, with no witnesses. The great Plum Blossom Sword Saint of Mount Hua Sect was dying like a dog.
“…But your death was better than mine.” Because there was someone to weep for you. Chung Myung weeped for them.
I’m sorry, Sahyung Jang Mun. Chung Myung’s vision faded.
If he had devoted a little more of his time to training, would he have been able to save at least one person?
If he had listened to his teachers and their scolding…?
If he had truly obtained the Mount Hua Sword instead of the Plum Blossom Sword?
No regrets… But it was all regret. All he had left was regrets.
And worries for the sect.
Plum blossoms are meant to fall, and after the cold winter comes spring.
The thirteenth disciple of the Great Mount Hua Sect, the Plum Blossom Sword Saint, Chung Myung, who slayed the Heavenly Demon at the summit of the Hundred Thousand Mountains of the heavenly Demon Sect, drifted into eternal sleep.
This short anecdote was his only legacy.
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