Episode 162

Mang-hon (1)
6 days ago
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The Blue-Eyed Mad Demon continued to explain. The reason Namgung Shin was dying was due to a lack of yokai energy, and to save him, her yokai energy must be consumed to repair his middle dantian.

However, since she couldn’t do it herself, she would transfer her yokai energy to Yi-gang.

She also mentioned that Yi-gang could have all the remaining yokai energy after saving Namgung Shin.

And after that, she would likely soon disappear.

Yi-gang swallowed the heat rising in his throat.

And, striving to remain calm, he asked, ‘Do you want to become a yokai?’

「Yes, I did.」

‘Then why.’

「Because I want to save this child more than continue my life.」

It was a simple and clear reason.

Yi-gang wanted to say no. Because the Blue-Eyed Mad Demon was more important to him than Namgung Shin.

‘…’

But perhaps it was because he had met the Nine Spear King.

Yi-gang couldn’t stop the Blue-Eyed Mad Demon’s determination.

He didn’t know if it was right to break her will because of his own greed.

‘Is it true that if you go to the Kunlun Mountains, you can become a yokai?’

That’s why he asked that question.

‘Even if I go without you, just taking the Blue Eye Gem, will they really heal my body?’

「Yes, I’m sure of it. That’s what was said.」

‘By who? The Heavenly Thunder White-Tailed Fox?’

「They appeared in my dream once.」

She didn’t seem to be lying.

「A long time ago, someone who married into my ancestors came into my dream and told me. They said they want to take back the power they lent to the Namgung family, to their child.」

The manifestation in dreams was not something to be dismissed lightly in Taoism.

If the Heavenly Thunder White-Tailed Fox was really a great yokai, then it’s possible to convey messages through dreams.

「They said they could even make me a yokai if I just come to them. I’ve also confirmed this through the Forest Lord of the Azure Forest. It’s definitely possible to heal your body.」

Above all, remembering the words of the Forest Lord, it’s also true that Yi-gang’s body can be healed.

Yi-gang fell silent for a moment.

The Blue-Eyed Mad Demon seemed to take that as a rejection.

「Please…」

Yi-gang stood up.

But instead of leaving abruptly, he first asked a question.

‘If I receive all of your yokai energy, how much time would you have left?’

「How much time? I would probably immediately…」

‘What if you keep the minimum amount of yokai energy?’

So far, she had been sustaining herself by sharing Yi-gang’s Innate True Qi. But if she were to transfer all her yokai energy, even that would be futile.

Stumbling over Yi-gang’s resolute spirit, she answered, 「About fifteen days…」

‘That’s not enough. More.’

「Even if I try to stretch it… at most a month. Any longer would be difficult.」

The Blue-Eyed Mad Demon showed a rare moment of weakness.

Yi-gang clasped his hands together and placed them against his forehead, appearing to ponder deeply.

After a long silence, Yi-gang spoke, “Alright. What should we do?”

「Ah, well, it’s similar to when using the Heavenly Thunder Bell. First, I’ll be by your side…」

Following her instructions, Yi-gang put the fox doll in his embrace. Inside it was a Blue Eye Gem, and another Blue Eye Gem was in Yi-gang’s possession.

He knelt on one knee in front of Namgung Shin.

He placed his left hand on the solar plexus area of Namgung Shin, which had turned dark, and held a Blue Eye Gem in his right hand inside his robe.

「Thank you! I thought you might not agree to my request.」

‘No need to mention it.’

「Don’t worry too much even if I disappear. There’s a saying, isn’t there? If one lives on in the heart, they live forever. So just remember me…」

‘That won’t happen.’

「…Well, then you don’t have to remember me.」

Yi-gang shook his head and spoke, “That’s not what I meant. You’re going to become a yokai.”

「I’ve explained everything so far, what are you saying!」

“We just need to get to the Kunlun Mountains as quickly as possible.”

「How far away that is…」

Transferring her yokai energy, the Blue-Eyed Mad Demon would soon face annihilation.

The Kunlun Mountains were a distant place. The home of the Heavenly Thunder White-Tailed Fox was located in the deep, rugged terrain of the Kunlun range.

Even if one rode a horse, it’s not a place one could reach within a month.

The terrain was treacherous, and the checkpoints were strict.

The northwest was still plagued by remnants of the Northern Yuan, and it’s a place where the influence of the government was stronger than that of the Murim.

Even if Yi-gang was a young master of the Baek Noble Clan and a disciple of the Azure Forest, it was clear he wouldn’t receive any help in that region.

Yet, Yi-gang spoke firmly, “Let’s start immediately. There’s a way.”

Namgung Shin, teetering on the brink of death, was before him.

If he survived, he would eventually become the head of the Namgung Clan, as long as the Namgung Clan didn’t get completely wiped out.

Yi-gang decided to save him.

“Start now!”

「A-ah…」

The Blue-Eyed Mad Demon began to transfer her yokai energy to Yi-gang.

Feeling intense pain, Yi-gang’s eyes widened.

The shock that swept through his body was like unleashing the Heavenly Thunder Bell at six stars or higher without any possession.

As a blue light flashed beyond the paper doors, the people waiting outside for Yi-gang were greatly startled.

Namgung Yeo-sang, who was getting anxious, twitched as if she was about to rush in.

Just before she could rush in though, the door opened, and Yi-gang walked out.

A pungent scent accompanied him. Moyong Jin was startled to see the ends of Yi-gang’s sleeves scorched black.

“Brother…”

“I need to go see Senior Brother Dam Hyun.”

Yi-gang walked away feebly.

Moyong Jin quickly supported him.

And then—

“A-ah. Shin!”

Namgung Yeo-sang, who entered the place Yi-gang came from, screamed as if in agony.

Moyong Jin turned his head out of curiosity, but quickly hastened his steps at Yi-gang’s urging.


West Sky Castle was the strongest faction in the northwest of the Central Plains.

They did not bow to the authority of the Murim Alliance. But the orthodox Murim did not view them as enemies because, beyond the Kunlun Mountains, if the Demon Cult of Xinjiang were to rise, they would serve as an excellent shield.

Their armed forces lacked nothing compared to the elite troops of the empire.

The tacit approval by the officials and the Imperial family might also be because they hoped West Sky Castle would act as a shield for the Great Ming Empire.

In the strictly guarded border regions, no one stopped the martial artists of West Sky Castle.

Thus, Yi-gang went to seek the Nine Spear King.

“I did not expect you to make a decision so quickly.”

The Nine Spear King, So Jin-gong, was taking off his armor.

He happened to be brushing his horse’s mane.

The affection in his touch was evident. It seemed true that he cherished Ferghana horse second only to his children.

“I’ve come upon urgent need for assistance. Please allow me to go to the Kunlun Mountains.”

“Hmm.”

The Nine Spear King’s expression was inscrutable.

So-woon, who was holding a saddle next to him, seemed unsure of what to do, and the martial artists who appeared to be the Nine Spear King’s loyal retainers did not hide their discomfort.

“There’s nothing in the Kunlun Mountains. Are you planning to meet the Taoist priests of the Kunlun Sect? Or are you thinking of going to Xinjiang to meet with the Demon Cult?”

“I cannot say.”

“Ha-ha.”

As Yi-gang spoke firmly, the Nine Spear King’s subordinates looked even more displeased.

“As a senior in Jianghu, I must stop you. And as a subject of His Majesty the Emperor as well.”

“…”

“This horse is called the Ferghana horse, but I’ve given it a special name. Soo-ryeon, which means lotus. It’s a mare.”

The Nine Spear King loved his horse enough to give it such a nickname.

“This dear creature has saved my life on the battlefield numerous times. It has never carried anyone else. It’s so fierce that one of my men lost an eye from its kick.”

“Yes.”

“But what can I do, there’s no other horse like it. …And you’re asking me to let you have it?”

By the end of his speech, there was clear anger in his voice.

It was because of Yi-gang’s request.

“I merely asked for the quickest means.”

“So you mean to ride my Soo-ryeon. Otherwise, it would mean I’m deceiving you.”

Yi-gang needed to go to the Kunlun Mountains, where the Heavenly Thunder White-Tailed Fox lived.

He approached the Nine Spear King, asking for the fastest horse and a guide.

Taking it as a request for his beloved horse, So Jin-gong and his men were taken aback.

“So, you can’t tell me the reason for your journey, nor the exact destination. And you don’t know when you’ll return the horse. Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“Hahaha!”

The Nine Spear King received a saddle from So-woon and placed it on the horse.

Then he called one of his men.

“Pahan, you guide him. With you and your horse, you should be able to keep up with Soo-ryeon’s pace.”

“Yes!”

Pahan was a one-eyed man.

Yi-gang wondered if he was the man who had lost an eye from being kicked by the horse.

Following the Nine Spear King’s gesture, Yi-gang mounted the horse.

Climbing atop the giant warhorse made him feel significantly taller.

The Ferghana horse, known for its foul temper, surprisingly accepted Yi-gang quite gently.

“…Is it okay not to hear the reason?”

“If I were to say I’ll lend the horse only if I know the reason, would that be the case?”

“I apologize.”

“That settles it. We’ll find out later.”

The Nine Spear King led the horse away.

A martial artist named Pahan followed, and Dam Hyun also managed to get a horse and joined.

As soon as Yi-gang arrived, Dam Hyun had packed, as if he had been waiting. Jin Ri-yeon, upon hearing Dam Hyun’s request, immediately left for the Azure Forest. She would convey the message to the Golden Needle Phantom that they must head to Kunlun.

“Pahan will guide you, but it won’t be an easy path.”

“Yes.”

“The Kunlun Mountains are treacherous. So are the beings that roam there, human or not.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Just as Yi-gang was about to depart, the onlookers around them started murmuring.

“Yi-gang!”

Baek Ryu-san had appeared.

Yi-gang looked at his father with a stern expression. The recent rescue by Baek Ryu-san was their first meeting in nearly five years.

“How can you leave so soon after we’ve just reunited?”

“…I’m sorry, Father.”

Yi-gang hadn’t yet shared all the details with Baek Ryu-san.

He was too busy preparing to leave.

“I heard you’re heading to Kunlun. Is it because of the Azure Forest?”

“Yes.”

Yi-gang thought he came to stop him, but that wasn’t the case.

“Well, I can’t stop my grown child from doing what he must.”

Fortunately, Baek Ryu-san did not stop Yi-gang.

Instead, Baek Ha-jun came riding up from behind.

“Just, take your younger brother with you.”

“Father, that’s…”

The moment Yi-gang was about to refuse, Baek Ha-jun interrupted, “Brother.”

“…”

“I’ll go with you.”

Judging by his expression, he seemed determined to follow regardless.

Did Yi-gang have the same expression when he asked the Nine Spear King for a horse?

Yi-gang did not stop him.

“Kunlun is treacherous. Always be cautious.”

“Yes…!”

They could not delay their departure.

Yi-gang, Ha-jun, Dam Hyun, and Pahan.

The four martial artists dashed towards the open gate of the Murim Alliance.

Baek Ryu-san watched his sons depart.

So Jin-gong, the Nine Spear King, stood next to him.

“…Do children, grow up far more quickly than one might think?”

“Indeed.”

Baek Ryu-san suddenly felt very old.

“Still, you’ve raised them very well.”

“Thank you.”

Despite the Nine Spear King’s praise, only a bitter smile appeared.


Currently, only a few guards were stationed at the Great Separation Mountain.

A beast was digging through the debris of a collapsed mountain peak.

It was a wild boar.

“Squeak, squeal.”

Due to the martial artists camping in the Great Separation Mountain, the frightened creature had been unable to find proper food.

Starving, its sense of smell had become incredibly sharp.

The ground emitted a foul smell of animal excrement mixed with blood.

Digging with its snout and tusks, it seemed likely to find the carcass of something not yet fully decomposed.

In such circumstances, even that was considered good prey.

Eventually, its wet snout touched something.

But, the wild boar could not rejoice.

“Squeal!”

What sprang from the ground was a human hand.

Frightened by the flailing hand, the wild boar ran away, and the person buried in the ground exerted all his strength to pull himself up.

“Kheuk, heuk!”

The man, looking almost like a corpse, gasped for air. His face was severely swollen, and one of his arms, torn off, was rotting away.

Yet, he was unmistakably alive.

It was Yang Gu-jeon, who had been presumed dead, crushed by a rock while escaping the Five Elements Tomb after having his arm cut off by Namgung Shin.

“I, I’m alive. Heuk.”

His survival, let alone his escape, was nothing short of a series of miracles.

Trapped in a crevice, waiting for death, what he discovered was certainly a fortuitous chance…

“Look, he’s alive!”

Yang Gu-jeon quickly lifted his head.

Two martial artists stood blocking his path.

“Water, please, some water!”

Yang Gu-jeon begged for water, thinking they were surely martial artists of the Murim Alliance.

One of the martial artists crouched down and grabbed Yang Gu-jeon’s face.

Yang Gu-jeon was startled.

The martial artist’s face was wrapped in bandages. It was clear he wasn’t dressed like a martial artist of the Murim Alliance.

“It’s like a miracle. A miracle.”

“Who… who are you…”

“First, if you’re thirsty, drink this.”

The bandaged man pulled a water flask from his waist and held it to Yang Gu-jeon’s mouth.

Yang Gu-jeon, who hadn’t had water since it rained a few days ago, greedily put his mouth to the flask.

However, what entered his mouth was not cool water.

“Gag, guk.”

A wriggling worm slid down his throat.

Yang Gu-jeon looked at the bandaged man with a bewildered face.

“Heh heh.”

The bandages parted, revealing a grinning mouth inside.

Chills ran down his spine.

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