༺ The Demon Sword (2) ༻
After sorting out the issue with Wi Seol-Ah, I hurriedly cooked something we could eat, and then we finished the meal just as quickly; it was too late to prepare anything grand.
It was quite amusing to see how much Wi Seol-Ah was eating, it was as if she had starved for days.
I asked the servants if they knew why she was eating so much, and their response was that she always ate like that.
Thinking back, she did eat a frightening amount of potatoes on the day we first met.
Either way, with the addition of Wi Seol-Ah and her appetite, we realized that we would now need to stop at a lot of places to restock on food.
A beautiful reflection of the moon could be seen on the surface of a lake located near where we’d camped for the night.
We chose this spot as it seemed good for camping, but as the darkness crept in, the night air felt colder than usual, due to the nearby lake.
When it was around 11PM, the escorts started preparing themselves to keep watch for the night.
They placed demonic charms around the camping area and then went about arranging themselves in positions from which they’d be able to easily and effectively keep watch while also retaining good flexibility just in case something actually happened.
I was just sitting while staring at the moon when Muyeon came to me,
“You should go inside, Young Master. It’s getting pretty chilly.”
“No matter how cold it gets, I’ll probably still be warmer than all of you.”
Thanks to my fire Qi, the cold air only felt like a cool breeze to me as I sat in front of the campfire.
Wi Seol-Ah soon hopped over to me after getting something from the servants.
On closer inspection, it seemed to be a bowl of dumplings.
…Dumplings? Why all of a sudden?
It seemed like they had just been steamed too, as I could still see the steam coming from the bowl.
How did they manage to steam that here?
“The servant sisters told me to share it with you guys!”
It seemed like it had been prepared for the escorts.
As Wi Seol-Ah handed out the dumplings, the escorts smiled at her.
Wi Seol-Ah’s beauty was truly a great weapon.
The full grown Wi Seol-Ah in my previous life would make enemies surrender with her appearance alone. And, while she definitely didn’t possess that kind of beauty right now, she was still cute enough to bring smiles to the faces of anyone who laid eyes upon her.
After she was done handing out the dumplings, she took a seat next to me.
“I brought the Young Master a big one.”
While sporting a big smile, Wi Seol-Ah offered me two dumplings.
I accepted the dumplings and spoke to her.
“Are you sure you don’t need to sleep now? You’re going to have to wake up early tomorrow.”
We had to set off as soon as the sun rose tomorrow.
It would probably be better for her to sleep now so that she wouldn’t get tired tomorrow.
“You’re also not sleeping, Young Master.”
I was fine since I possessed a little bit of Qi, but Wi Seol-Ah wasn’t a martial artist yet, so I feared that she might have some trouble.
I shook my head and took a bite out of the dumpling. Its soft and moist texture reinforced in me the notion that dumplings were a godsend.
As the night gradually got even colder, Muyeon stood up and started stretching. I decided at this moment that it was time to go back to the carriage, so I lightly pushed Wi Seol-Ah’s back.
“Go now. We will leave you here if you don’t wake up in time.”
“Uuu… So mean.”
“The dumplings you gave were delicious.”
I finished eating the last bit of the dumpling, went back into the carriage, and proceeded to sleep.
* * * *
“It’s disgustingly far.”
It had already been four days since we left the Clan to go to Sichuan.
All that had happened within the span of those four days was just camping and riding.
I did train during those days, but I wasn’t able to notice any improvement.
I could understand it, however, since it wouldn’t be easy to improve my Qi just because of slight enlightenments. But that wasn’t the main issue on my mind at the moment,
“…Going there is already one thing, what about coming back?”
It would probably take around the same amount of time. So, I’m supposed to go through this experience all over again…?
The long journey was starting to take its toll on me, and what made it infinitely worse was the fact that the carriage couldn’t even go at max speed due to the bumpy roads.
Thanks to that fact, I was granted a first-class view of the passing world, and, for a time, I enjoyed it… until I grew sick of it.
“Sigh… What’s up?”
“Look over there! Look! It’s a squirrel!”
When I looked at the tree that Wi Seol-Ah pointed towards, I saw a squirrel, one that seemed quite busy and content chewing on an acorn.
“Yeah, that is a squirrel…”
“It’s cute! Right?”
I would often have brief conversations with Wi Seol-Ah like this, and, in all honesty, I felt like these small reprieves were a part of the reason why I was still only on the edge of being bored out of my mind.
Sometimes, she would talk about how yakgwa was tastier than potatoes, or how eagles were tough to eat, or how normal pigs tasted better than boars… come to think of it, we seemed to only talk about food.
Thinking up to this point, I suddenly got goosebumps as I glanced down at a Wi Seol-Ah who was pointing towards the squirrel and saying that it looked cute.
I couldn’t contain my curiosity and had to ask her.
“Have you eaten squirrels before?”
Wi Seol-Ah made a weird face as she responded to my question.
“Young Master… not even I would eat squirrels.”
‘Are you dumb, Young Master?’ This was what the look she gave me was asking.
I felt bad.
In my defense, though, she said that she’d already eaten eagles before… how was I supposed to know that she’d never eaten squirrels…?
Feeling a little spiteful, I took the yakgwa that Wi Seol-Ah was about to eat and ate it.
Wi Seol-Ah seemed to take a second to process what had happened, and when she finally did,
She made a face that made it seem like the world was ending.
It was a really funny face to see on her chubby frame. The amusement made me feel better about the look she gave me.
“H-How could you…”
“You seriously need to stop eating yakgwa. See how round your face has become.”
“It’s not round!”
“Go ask others and see if they agree with that.”
The servants, who were sitting across from us, had been laughing at the sight.
That laughter died out the instant Wi Seol-Ah turned towards them, and the moment she opened her mouth to ask her question, they all turned their heads away.
They couldn’t bring themselves to say it out loud.
Wi Seol-Ah, however, got her answer from their silence, as immediately tears welled up in the corners of her eyes.
“I’m… I’m a circle…”
“Yes, you are a circle.”
With my last verbal attack, Wi Seol-Ah leaned her head against the wall and shut her mouth, defeated.
Although, in all honesty, her face wasn’t that bad—or bad at all.
It was just that, compared to when I’d first seen her, she looked a bit chubbier.
‘So, it’s true that she gained weight, right?’
Regardless of my thoughts on the matter, thanks to her being quiet, I was able to spend some time peacefully.
Turning my gaze to the passing view of the outside world again, I thought about the things that could occur in the future.
‘I hope it all goes well.’
Visiting the Tang Clan of Sichuan was already one major task, I still had to think about the Golden Nature and the Gaecheon Clan on top of it.
How much time could I afford to spend looking for the secret vault?
I had at most three days, much shorter than I had previously anticipated. All of the information I had on hand only amounted to a vague knowledge of the area where the secret vault was located.
Honestly, I was thinking of simply telling the Beggar’s Sect if I couldn’t find the secret vault myself.
Or, at the very least, I had to find a way so that groups like Gaecheon Clan, along with any other group that would side with the demonic cult, wouldn’t get their hands on the vault.
What if I somehow found the secret vault? I’d think about what would happen after that if I actually ended up finding it.
‘We are running low on food as well.’
…It definitely wasn’t because of how Wi Seol-Ah devoured everything…
The unexpectedly bumpy roads and the occasional rain along the way had slowed down our carriage, so we still had a fair amount of distance to cover.
I poked my head outside of the window and asked Muyeon.
“Muyeon, how long do you think it will be until we arrive?”
“It would take at least two more hours at the speed we are currently traveling, Young Master.”
“Walking would be faster than that.”
I thought that it would be better for me to just leave everyone behind and go alone, but I didn’t because I would be tired in less than an hour and because of the present that I had to give to the Tang Clan.
Muyeon, who had had a smile on his face, suddenly made a sharp look and snapped his gaze to the front of the carriage.
Noting his sudden actions, I asked Muyeon, wondering what was up.
The seriousness in his voice matched the severity of his face, and so everyone stopped immediately.
At this point, I’d also felt that something was wrong and so I started concentrating my Qi.
I felt a strange presence, and I unconsciously let out a smirk because of it.
It was none other than the presence of demons.
“I knew it had been too peaceful for the past few days.”
“There aren’t that many. We’ll quickly take care of it, so please stay inside and rest, Young Master.”
Just like last time, he was telling me to stay inside.
I didn’t know what would happen if I grabbed a demonic stone again, so I planned to stay inside.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a Gate of Demons.
It seemed more like the leftovers from one.
The presence was reaching us at a rapid pace. Are they planning to attack us? But something felt off.
Weird sounds coming from the tall grass alerted us to its movements, and so Muyeon and the other escorts already had their swords out, prepared to slay whatever was coming at so much as a moment’s notice.
Not long after, something broke through the tall grass and attacked the escorts.
Muyeon had cut it in half before it could even finish roaring, and before I myself could even tell what sort of demon it was.
The beast that was slain collapsed with a thump. It was a demon in the shape of a bear.
I always thought that the Second Elder looked like a bear, but actually comparing the beast before me to the Second Elder made me rethink their similarities.
A green-forest bear.
Just like the green-horned hound, it was the lowest rank of demon that could come from a Gate.
Muyeon spoke while looking at the beast.
“There is another wound on the beast other than the one I just made.”
When I checked after Muyeon’s words, I noticed that there really was another sword wound other than the one Muyeon gave it.
Was the beast actually running away from its attacker? Despite them being attracted to Qi?
Demons were running away from humans, even though all their instincts told them to just slaughter whatever they came across…?
At this point, I felt the presence of more demons appear around us. But, most of them were disappearing seconds after they appeared.
It was like someone was killing them from behind.
Suddenly, a presence started rushing towards us. It was fast, and it was coming straight at us.
Muyeon had been shaken by what he’d sensed alongside me, but the approaching presence jolted him awake and saw him quickly assume his battle stance alongside the other escorts.
The presence broke through the tall grass without any hesitation.
It was another green-forest bear, and,
A swift sword slash saw it suffer the same fate as the first bear to appear.
Blue blood gushed out from the green-forest bear that had just been slain, but Muyeon didn’t pay any more attention to it.
His focus instead rested on the tall grass from where this bear had just rushed out, and he spoke as his posture tensed once more,
“Who is it? Show yourself!”
A few seconds after Muyeon’s words, someone really walked out of the tall grass.
Whoever they were, they were holding a sword. I wanted to check who it was, but I couldn’t see through the person’s face, which had been covered with cloth.
All I knew was that this person was female due the shape of their body.
She walked towards us slowly and with light steps.
As she came closer, my gaze fell on the clothes she was wearing.
Leaves and dust were visible on her blue clothing, showing that she was probably embarked on a long journey.
As the distance between us narrowed, she sheathed her sword; Muyeon, however, still had his sword pointed right at her.
On getting close enough, the woman took off the cloth covering her face to reveal her identity.
One of the escorts audibly gasped upon seeing her face.
She seemed to be younger than 20 years of age, but she looked older than I did.
She had light blue hair and white skin that complemented her hair color.
Her pointy nose, along with her lips, told me that she was probably one of the most beautiful women in this world.
She started to speak while looking at Muyeon.
“I came out here alone, so I did a poor job at slaying them. I apologize.”
“Alone? You mean you were slaying all of these beasts by yourself?”
“I’ve had pretty bad luck recently. A Gate of Demons just appeared right in front of me, but some demons ran away while I was slaying others.”
“They… ran away…?”
“I don’t know if it’s because of my clan’s art, but they often do that.”
While Muyeon was talking with the lady,
For a different reason than the escort who had gasped, I was shocked upon seeing her face.
It wasn’t because of her beauty, no.
I saw a small, white writing on her blue clothing.
I almost let out a curse when I looked at that.
There were a select few people who were able to roam around with that word written on their clothes.
And furthermore, there was only one woman who was able to do that. But,
‘Why the f*ck is she even here?’
I wiped away the sweat I felt trickling down my forehead before it flooded down my face.
I knew exactly who she was.
We didn’t know each other in this current life, but it was different in my previous life.
She was one of those persons that I least wanted to get involved with in this life.
‘Even with my shitty luck, how do things always end up this badly?’
I forcefully calmed my rapid heartbeat.
It wasn’t thumping from excitement or love or whatever.
Fear. It was nothing but fear.
The woman spoke to Muyeon with a stiff voice.
“My name is Namgung Bi-ah. Are you perhaps going to Sichuan as well?”
I clenched my eyes and fists after hearing her name. It was truly her.
I had to let out a sigh at the words that came after.
“Then may I travel along? I will pay you in return.”
“No goddammit! Hell no!”
I kicked open the door of the carriage and shouted while running at them.
Then my eyes and hers met.
Her expressionless eyes were the same as the ones from my previous life, which made it even scarier.\
The woman, who was crazy for swords.
The woman, who ended up destroying her own clan after eventually turning into a demonic Human.
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༺ The Demon Sword (2) ༻