Everyone grows old.
I never felt any fatigue in the past, not even after fleeing from the Murim Alliance for seven days straight. Yet now it feels like I've aged ten years since these bastards started hunting me.
If I knew this would happen, I would have trained harder. Yet humans repeat the same mistakes only to end up with regrets.
Since I didn't have a destination in mind, I lost my way while fleeing. Along the way, the colorful variety of curses from my pursuers became ever more audible.
Words cursing me as a son of a bitch, a bastard, a motherfucker, and a parent-less orphan filled the air.
Well, I am an orphan, that much is true.
Nevertheless, curses about my parents were added to the variety.
It's crazy how there are people who would swear at the parents of an orphan like me. That's just how crazy this world has become.
I have killed quite a few people for daring to speak to me like that in the past, but now that the number of voices cursing at me has multiplied, I found it best to run away.
I can't believe a man like me is running…
How shameful. But that is just proof of how intimidating the Demon Cult (魔敎) is.
Even though I have killed so many during my escape, there are still numerous martial masters in the Cult who could fight me on equal footing.
When I was a naive young man, I aspired to become the God of Martial Arts (武神).
Why did I recall my old aspirations in the middle of this chase?
I don't know either.
Whenever I talked about my dream, the people around me would tell me I was delusional. Telling me that my dream of becoming a Martial God was a futile and vain pursuit. Yet if it was easily achievable, it wouldn't be a dream, right?
A dream must always be a challenge to fulfill.
It's always the same, even now.
Isn't it because I set my aims and standards high that the Demon Cult, the evil of all evils and one of the three prominent factions of Murim, is chasing me?
Being chased by the Demon Cult marks you as a true man.
Perhaps because they are chasing me like a bunch of hound dogs, the feeling was more exhilarating than ever.
Just the other day, I was being chased by the Murim Alliance, and now I am being pursued by the Demon Cult. Though I could not become a Martial God, I have achieved something that ordinary men would never even dream of doing.
This item I stole from the Demon Cult must be extraordinary. If not, why else would those crazy scumbags be hunting me down so desperately?
I knew it would be very amusing to harass the Demon Cult. Even if I had known this in the past, however, I would never have dared to attempt it because I was not strong enough at the time.
Even now, I think I should have trained a little more before doing this.
Humans indeed always make the same mistakes.
I have always had pride in my talents. A man good with mind games, schemes, tactics, strategies, lies, never falling for honey traps1, and a high level in movement skills.
The craziest and most versatile man in all of Kangho, one who kept his talents hidden from sight.
In particular, honey traps never worked on me because attractive women didn't like me in the first place.
My past experiences proved it.
Seeing haze appearing in front of me as I ran, I figured that the place I was approaching was where fog often appeared.
Where in the world was I running to? Judging from the area, the cliff in front of me looked like a particularly infamous valley.
This spot is famous because the masters of the Demon Cult and Orthodox faction competed against each other on both sides of the carved canyon in the center.
Had the Orthodox faction won then, perhaps the Demon Cult would not be pursuing me so furiously.
As if declaring a truce, both sides cut off the only remaining path that crossed the canyon, the Echoing Sword Bridge.2
Since the Echoing Sword Bridge was destroyed, there was no way for me to cross this valley anymore.
The place I arrived at in my flight was a cliff, a far cry from a safe haven.
After I fled from the Demon Cult's headquarters, I crossed over the Tae-ul Mountain, Myeong-ri Mountain, Chu-hun Mountain, and many other nameless mountains and rivers. As I fled, I also cut my left arm, suffered a stab to my face, and injured my left shoulder.
As I look down the cliff with a sorrowful gaze, I realize it was as empty as my life.
Contemplating the valley below, I wonder why I never got to date a beautiful woman before all this.
It is said that when a person is about to die, the person they miss the most will flash before their eyes, and yet none appeared before mine.
A sigh escaped from my mouth.
"…I should have at least gone on a date with someone."
I lived too seriously.
I wish someone would write this on my tombstone.
'The Crazy Demon died while immersed in serious thoughts…'
Someone arrives with the sound of the wind cutting the grass behind me. With that level of skill, it could only be the Left Hand of Illuminating Light (光明左使), one of the strongest masters of the Demon Cult.
He is also a master of trickery who appears at decisive moments after ordering his subordinates to chase first.
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light is just as notorious as I am in Kangho.
Before joining the Demon Cult, he was known as the Pervert (色魔) in Kangho. He gained notoriety as a perverted sadist who preyed upon the beautiful wives of the Noble Families of Murim, with his victims including ladies from the Namgoong, Seo-Moon, and Baek-Ri families.
But while equally notorious, it doesn't mean that I'm also a pervert.
I never got the chance to be one.
Was it just my imagination, or did a sudden surge of anger rise from the depths of my heart. Was it because of the Left Hand of Illuminating Light's arrival? Or was it because of his dirty past?
Despite being the man most feared by female warriors of the Orthodox faction, the Left Hand of Illuminating Light lands on the ground with an incredibly cool posture.
Do you have to be handsome to also be a pervert?
'Damn good-looking dirtbag.'
Looking at this almost-scary looking man, one with a notably high nose bridge, who chased me all the way here, I realize again why you shouldn't mess with the Demon Cult.
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light approaches me with his hands behind his back and lowers his voice.
"I can't believe you're making me suffer so much. Damned bastard. I'll admit that your movement skill is much more advanced than what was rumored."
I respond to the Left Hand of Illuminating Light's serious nonsense with a nonchalant expression.
"You're here, pervert."
"I've never seen a pervert run that hard. Very impressive."
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light replies to me with a troubled expression, doubtless frustrated after being forced to chase me for three days and three nights.
"Shut up, you psycho. This isn't the time for jokes. Acting all calm while standing on the edge of a cliff? Read the room."
"Whether it's a cliff or a paradise, you're still a pervert. And teach your men some manners. I'm not a bitch, and definitely not a bastard. But I am an orphan."
The atmosphere became solemn for a moment.
"Swearing at the parents I've never met before, you fucking rascals? That's why you're called the Demon Cult."
"Stop bullshitting and hand over the thing you stole."
I snort back in reply.
"If I give it back to you, you should call me an errand boy instead of Crazy Demon."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm saying I used to be an errand boy."
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light lets out a tired sigh.
Meanwhile, the troops of the Demon Cult arrive and slowly gather around like dark clouds before a storm.
Why do they like black clothes so much?
The Demon Cult troops gather like storm clouds, closing in and surrounding the area while waiting for the Left Hand of Illuminating Light's orders.
Everyone's eyes are razor-sharp.
More than a hundred people died by my hands during the chase, so I'm sure they are extremely fired up.
If I caused such a severe blow to the Demon Cult, shouldn't the Murim Alliance hand me the Hero of the Year award?
Looking back at my past, I almost forgot that I had caused a lot of accidents and became Murim's public enemy. Even my rank in the public enemy list is higher than the pervert in front of me.
Even the nickname Crazy Demon was first given by the Orthodox factions.
'First of all, the Hero of the Year award is already impossible for me.'
Watching my smiling face, the Left Hand of Illuminating Light said.
"How can you laugh in this situation, Crazy Demon? Have you gone nuts?"
"That's too bad,"
"You must have held back your laughter when your Sect Leader farted. That's your limit."
"I'm sure you also forced yourself to laugh every time the Sect Leader makes a lame joke."
"That's not true."
"Shut up! That's rich coming from someone like you. I always laugh as I please. Are you that scared of your Sect Leader, you ass-kisser?"
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light replies with a begrudging look.
"Is there anyone in Kangho who is not afraid of our Sect Leader? No. Look at the leaders who always avoid our leader's suggestion of a one-on-one duel. Even if there is a powerful master stronger than the Sect Leader in Kangho, there is none around who don't fear him. You know this, right?"
"What are you yapping about? I'm right here. When was I ever afraid of your Sect Leader?"
"Then why did you waste everyone's time and run all the way here?"
"I'm not afraid of the Sect Leader, I'm scared of you perverts. It'd be good for your mental health to leave the Cult and focus more on your perversions that have nothing to do with your leader. Oh, Left Hand, that man behind you is smiling."
I point my finger at the Demon Cult troops, but the gaze of the Left Hand of Illuminating Light fixates itself on me.
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light says with a stern look.
"That's not gonna work."
"That can't be helped. You guys chased me because of this, right?"
I carefully took the Heavenly Pearl (天玉) out and held it out to the Left Hand of Illuminating Light.
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light's round eyes turn sharp like a wild cat's that had starved for three days.
I made a suggestion to the Left Hand.
"Seeing how your eyes twinkled as soon as you saw this Heavenly Pearl, you must be after it too. I thought it was strange for the Left Hand of Illuminating Light himself to come all the way here. Good thing we're far from your headquarters. Since it's like this, how about splitting this between us? We can split Kangho between us. Then you can fulfill all of your perverted desires."
I gently try to persuade the Left Hand, but his reaction is not positive.
"It belongs to the Sect Leader."
"But why are your eyes so greedy? Listen to me, Demon Cultists. The Left Hand has malicious intent toward your Sect Leader. One of you should go back first and report back to your Sect Leader. The Left Hand is trying to stir up a rebellion by taking the Heavenly Pearl. Who wants to contribute? No one? Cowards."
Baiting is always fun, it might not work on the Demon Cult, but I am always persistent.
"Everyone, look at your superior. The Left Hand can't even answer me because he's troubled by my words."
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light says in reply.
"Stop the crap and hand over the Heavenly Pearl. Just give it back, and we'll step down for now. We didn't want to kill you from the start."
"As I said, the Heavenly Pearl is more important than your life. I will visit you personally later and punish you for your sins. I'll even fight you one on one."
There's a lying tongue over there.
"In a one on one fight?"
"Should you be saying that after cornering me? If you had agreed to duel me from the start, a hundred of your men wouldn't have died. An idiot pervert like you always messes things up. I'd rather become a monk than believe you. Everybody, get out of the way. This Heavenly Pearl is round in shape and makes a clear sound every time you tap it, it makes a great wooden bell. A monk will never let go of his wooden bell."
"Then I'll have no choice but to kill you."
"Bring it on, you bastards. I shall become a Mad Monk (狂僧) today!"
Contrary to my words, I raise my hand as if I am about to throw the Heavenly Pearl down the valley.
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light extends his hand in a hurry.
Seeing the surprise and panic flash across the Left Hand of Illuminating Light's face, I thought it was a rewarding day.
It became clear.
What I had stolen was indeed both tremendous and formidable.
Even if I still don't know what this is.
If I throw the Heavenly Pearl down the valley, the Left Hand of Illuminating Light and his subordinates would have to jump down the cliff.
The Left Hand of Illuminating Light tries to appease me with some fast talking.
"What's wrong with you? The reason why I closed one eye to your nonsense and let you live is that you can keep tormenting the Murim Alliance Leader. We always favor Murim's enemies. But this changes things. I've been courteous enough to ask you to join us, but instead you stole a sacred object? Repaying my goodwill with stealing? That's inhumane."
"But I can't give it back because you swore at my parents."
"I apologize. We are not afraid of you but we cannot disobey our leader's commands, so please return the sacred item to us."
"Is that how you should beg?"
"Is that how a thief should speak?"
My arm extends toward the valley again.
"I'll throw it away now. Let's go for a real round."
"I apologize. Wait a minute. Let's talk this through."
"Well, then, tell me what this Heavenly Pearl is. Don't try to lie, tell me the truth."
Come on, man!
I'm dying of curiosity.
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