It is said that rumors move faster than people.
The rumor that started in Lawrence eventually spread to Dmitry in just one day.
“Did you hear that rumor?”
“What? The rumor that Young Master Roman subdued the Blood Fang? Does that make any sense? Young Master Roman can’t even wield a sword properly.”
“...That said, the testimonies of people who saw it in person were so vivid.”
“Well, it’s a rumor anyway. Even if a person like Young Master Roman went out to the hunting grounds and managed to catch a wild boar, the reality is that the rumor would be inflated as if he had beaten a legendary dragon. I heard Young Master Roman had shown something unbelievable in front of the residents of Lawrence, but perhaps the Dmitry Knights set it up. That day, the knights had left the castle hurriedly.”
"Oh, they did? You must be telling the truth. After all, how would Dmitry's Fool even do such a thing?”
Most people didn't believe it.
Just as people didn't trust the boy who cried wolf1, Roman's image in Dmitry was far from trustworthy.
In the end, the residents of Dmitry only classified the incident as an absurd rumor.
People were so deeply rooted in their beliefs.
Even when the merchants from Lawrence told them the truth repeatedly, their only reaction was ridicule.
"Next to a group of men talking about the rumors, a boy who was tidying things up pricked his ears."
‘...Young Master Roman subdued the Blood Fang?’
His heart sank.
The boy's name was Kevin.
Through Roman’s help, he was making a living by doing chores Hans had given him.
He could not forget the day he met Roman.
The moment his life seemed to be hell while being beaten by the Blood Fang members, Roman appeared like an angel and delivered judgment on the evil hordes.
He still clearly remembered the screams of the Blood Fang members and how Roman had shoved a dagger into one of the members' mouths to cut off his tongue. It was just too fucking cool for Kevin to forget.
After that day, Kevin had a dream.
‘I want to become a strong man like Young Master Roman. A strong person who can protect my people from any danger. In a barren world where you can't trust anyone, that's the only way for my family to survive.'
He clenched his teeth.
It was unclear when and where the Blood Fang gang would strike again. Also, his father's failure to act as head of the household forced him to fend for himself.
Then, he heard the rumors.
All the residents of Dmitry treated it as a rumor, but Kevin was convinced it was true.
His heart raced.
He had clearly seen that Roman had defeated the Blood Fang members with a tree branch.
Due to that, it didn't seem far-fetched for him to wipe out the Blood Fang alone.
The hero who promised to solve the problem turned a miracle into reality in just a few days.
‘Ah, young master.’
He almost cried.
He didn't know if Roman really did such a dangerous thing for him, but the fact that he didn't forget his promise to him, who was only a commoner, came to his mind.
He wiped away his tears.
He had to work and couldn't focus on the emotions that kept churning inside him.
When will I be able to see Young Master Roman again? If that day ever comes, I want to express my gratitude to him without forgetting my current feelings.
He had a busy day.
Just when he was about to finish his last job, he heard a voice.
“It’s been a while.”
Seeing Roman Dmitry visit him, Kevin unknowingly dropped his tools on the ground.
He was lost for a moment.
Kevin, doubting whether this was real, was startled and bowed down.
“Thank you, young master! Thanks to you, my family can live without the Blood Fang troubling us. Thank you so much!”
He was emotional.
Kevin's face flushed red as he uttered sincere words.
Roman asked, “Kevin, how have you been?”
He was speechless.
Roman remembered his name.
Others might think of it as a small thing, but Kevin could never think of it like that.
To him, it was shocking.
His emotions inevitably mixed with his voice, and Kevin said in a seemingly weeping voice, “Thanks to the young master, we have been living well. The Blood Fang gang no longer bothers us, and the work that Mr. Hans gave me saved us. Due to the young master's grace, we were even able to solve our problems of livelihood. I don’t know how to express my gratitude.”
“You’re thankful, huh. Well, I would like to make an offer to you.”
“...What do you mean?”
“If you accept my offer, your family will never have to worry about their livelihood again. In a warm house that blocks the cold wind, eating three delicious meals every day, they will not only live a life in which they won't need to work hard but will also be able to enjoy hobbies. Living like that is simple. I plan to do the same in the future.”
He got goosebumps.
He didn't know exactly what Roman was trying to say, but Kevin instinctively knew he was about to be given an opportunity the likes of which he might never get again.
“Hence, live for me. I will give you a new life if you swear allegiance to me.”
When Roman finished saying his words, it was as if lightning struck Kevin's head.
He had never dreamed of being able to follow such a great figure as Young Master Roman.
However, the reality was that Roman suggested it first.
He asked Kevin to become his person.
He was worried at the thought that it might not be true, but Kevin knew he couldn't afford to miss Roman's offer.
It was instinct.
Kevin, lying face down, slammed his forehead on the ground.
“From now on, I will live for Young Master Roman. If you ask me to die, I will die; if you tell me to kill someone, I will kill them. Your promise to take care of my family, just that much is enough.”
He raised his head.
Drops of blood ran down his forehead.
Drops of blood dripped down his eyes, but Kevin was looking at Roman without even blinking a single time.
He looked like a fool.
He showed his loyalty through his own blood.
‘But... even his foolishness resembles that of the Crazy Demon.’
The Crazy Demon was like that as well.
At Roman's command to keep the enemies at bay, the Crazy Demon would stand up against hundreds of religious sects at once.
At that time, he was nothing more than a nameless man, but later, he was given the nickname “Crazy Demon” due to his actions and loyalty.
Even though his whole body was covered with wounds from the attacks that came from all sides, and the blood flowing from his body flowed as wide as a river, the Crazy Demon stopped the righteous sects without groaning a single time.
He swore his allegiance to Roman just like the Crazy Demon did to the Heavenly Demon, Baek Joong-hyuk. When he met the Crazy Demon for the first time, he had also sworn his allegiance to him by slamming his head on the ground.
“My life belongs to the young master from now on.”
It was more than just resembling the Crazy Demon.
With each passing moment, Kevin looked more similar to the madman known as the Crazy Demon.
Looking at him, Roman laughed.
He looked like a child who had been charmed by Roman's actions.
That day, Roman readily accepted a new bond in his new life.
“Yes, you are mine from now on.”
At a time when no one was paying attention to Roman yet, he found someone who would give his life for him.
Roman brought Kevin along with him.
He then asked Hans to help Kevin adjust for the time being. Afterward, he went to the place Hans had set up for him.
Soon, he arrived at a shabby workshop in the inner castle. It was originally the place where Baron Romero used to work at.
Therefore, the entry of outsiders was strictly prohibited. Also, there was a barrier outside the place. Due to that, it was suitable for Roman's training.
“From this moment onwards, I will spend a week training and strengthening myself. While doing that, I won't need anything like food, so make sure to never let anyone inside. Unless Dmitry's in immediate danger, you won’t need me."
He gave the order and then went inside.
In the training ground, there weren't many things.
A cool wind blew, and he noticed straw was spread across the floor, which Hans had prepared beforehand.
It was a meticulous detail showing how much Hans cared for Roman, but he didn't need it for his training. Thus, Roman put all the straw aside and sat cross-legged on the ground. This was important to absorb as much energy as possible from the environment.
He was previously the Heavenly Demon, so he could easily control the ki surrounding him.
Roman instantly became immersed in his own world, and slowly guided the surrounding mana to accumulate in his lower abdomen.
'The first stage of the Heavenly Demon Martial Arts.'
Roman had yet to begin training his body with the Heavenly Demon Martial Arts. This was because he needed to lay a foundation for his weak body, and in order to enter the first stage of human (人), he needed to be content with only accumulating mana.
Eventually, Roman's body collected the minimum amount of mana to start using the Heavenly Demon Martial Arts.
In order to perfectly use the techniques of the Heavenly Demon Martial Arts, it was necessary for him to enter the human phase.
‘The human phase begins with the removal of waste ki from the body.’
Mana suddenly moved.
Mana, which had been moving intensely through his blood vessels, was suddenly blocked by a huge wall.
That wall was the waste ki in Roman's body.
The original Roman had never lived a productive day in his life until he died in his mid-twenties.
There were more impurities piled up in his body than others of his age, and Roman's face grew red as he was blocked by the impurities from the beginning of training.
However, he did not lose his composure.
It was the situation he had expected in the first place, so he made a plan to collect the minimum mana to enter the human phase.
In the future, Roman must be strong.
Beyond making new connections, he needed strength to achieve his goals while protecting them.
The human phase was the beginning of Roman preparing himself for the future.
Roman calmly meditated and focused on his internal energy.
‘I have to remove all of the waste ki at once.’
To Roman's actions and thoughts, mana responded.
The Heavenly Demon, Baek Jung-hyuk.
As he had been training martial arts all his life, the impurities began to melt according to Roman's strong will.
The power of mana originally depends on the user's will. If someone who did not understand mana could only use one-tenth of the power even with a potential of 100, Roman was a person who would exceed the limit and exerted the power of mana to the potential of 150.
Mana moved strongly according to Roman's will, and blood began to drip from Roman's nose at the powerful impact.
It was a symptom that meant Roman's purification of ki was working.
As the impure ki of the body was discharged, dark blood flowed down his face.
Time continued to pass.
First, a day passed.
Then, two days.
...Later, three days passed.
Nevertheless, Roman was completely absorbed in meditation.
His face was drenched with sweat, and the blood that flowed only out of his nose at first could now be seen leaking through every pore of his body.
Slowly, without rushing his mana, Roman ejected the waste ki from his body to enter the human phase.
And also to regain the power of the Heavenly Demon he was in his previous life.
Eventually, Roman went into a state of trance.2
Due to that, Roman spent his time in a space cut off from the outside.
Hans headed somewhere hurriedly.
If everything had gone according to plan, he was supposed to meet Roman in the evening, but the events that took place that day did not allow for that.
“Is the young master going to come out now?”
A week earlier, when Roman had entered the training room, Viscount Lawrence suddenly announced that he would visit Dmitry.
The reason was obvious; it was due to the breaking off of the engagement.
The meeting was eventually postponed when Hans reported Roman's situation to Baron Romero, even though Roman should have done it himself by meeting his father in person.
And today, he suddenly received a report that Viscount Lawrence and his daughter had arrived at the Dmitry estate early in the morning.
As a result, he had no choice but to go find Roman hurriedly.
'The atmosphere is not extremely serious.'
The breakup of the engagement had not yet been revealed to the world.
Of course, some people knew about it, but he wondered why Lawrence hadn't revealed it yet.
Nevertheless, he continued running towards the place Roman was training at.
Hans, who arrived at the training ground, stood in front of the door and waited for Roman even though he had instructions to call Roman right away.
Keep in mind, Hans. If Dmitry isn't in a dangerous situation and I am not needed right away, do not call me.
Hans remembered Roman's orders.
Of course, many people were waiting for Roman in the castle.
However, it was more important for Hans to obey the orders of his master, Roman.
Roman, who had recently changed, was not a person who would speak meaningless words.
He must have had a clear reason to ask Hans not to call him out unnecessarily. Due to that, even though he was given instructions to bring Roman immediately, he waited for Roman to come out.
How much time had passed?
Several people came to find Hans.
However, Hans, who had sent them all back, only sensed movement from the training ground after the sun began to set.
The door opened.
Then, a familiar face came out.
Hans, who was about to welcome Roman with a bright face, was taken aback when he saw Roman's appearance for a moment.
He noticed his eyes were much sharper than before.
He looked at his skin which seemed as smooth as milk.
And finally, he saw the muscular physique which resembled a warrior.
He became certain.
Roman's appearance and attitude had become utterly different than before.
The boy who cried wolf is a story that teaches us a moral lesson: people refuse to believe a liar even when he is telling the truth. It's a short and fun story, so click on this hyperlink if you wish to read it. ↩️
A trance is a half-conscious state characterized by an absence of response to external stimuli, typically induced by hypnosis or entered by a medium. It's often observed in martial artists who are about to break into a new stage. ↩️
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