༺ The Great Demon (4) ༻
The sounds of metal cutting through air echoed about.
The sword traced paths through the air with deadly precision.
Empowered by qi, it left a trail wherever it was swung towards.
The trails formed by the sword traces looked similar to flowing water.
Fast, and yet colorful.
The Steps of the Blue Dragon, trained by the people of Namgung, helped their swordsmanship become stronger and faster.
It was like looking at a dragon’s flexible body movement.
Namgung Bi-Ah continued to use her clan art, the Master of Swords, as she swung her sword.
Her Qi was slowly running out, but she had no other options.
How long had it been since she had been swinging her sword,
It had probably only been a few minutes.
But even so, Namgung Bi-Ah felt that her body was reaching its limit.
It felt like she had been swinging her sword for an entire day.
The left arm that had broken earlier was causing her more pain whenever she moved,
And because she wasn’t used to real-life battles, her body felt stiff and didn’t move as she wanted it to.
‘I can’t… reach him…!’
She wondered what the gap between herself and the man was.
The only thing Ya Hyeoljeok had done so far was dodge; he hadn’t even used his weapon.
She bit her lips in a bid to restore her waning consciousness.
She bit it so hard that her lips started to bleed.
Her Qi was being gradually exhausted, and her sword was losing power along with it.
The trails that were formed by the sword traces were also losing their light as well.
Her sword was also getting slower as she got more and more exhausted,
Ya Hyeoljeok saw this opening and swung his arm at Namgung Bi-Ah.
With just this light attack of his, Namgung Bi-Ah was sent rolling across the earth.
“It seems like my little sweetheart here has never killed anyone.”
Namgung Bi-Ah struggled to so much as breathe as Ya Hyeoljeok spoke.
Then Ya Hyeoljeok thought, while looking at Namgung Bi-Ah.
Is she over 20? Judging by her smooth skin, she may or not be 20 years old.
Whatever, it didn’t matter to him.
Because however old she was didn’t matter since she had such a beautiful face and body, which just made it obvious that she would be delicious.
He was just a little surprised.
He had heard about the male child of the Namgung Clan.
He had found it strange and laughable that the child of Namgung was being called the ‘Lightning Sword’ and not the ‘Sword Dragon’.
Both the leader of Namgung and the Lord of Heaven,
They hadn’t been able to make their clan shine in the current age, so he had thought.
But the girl before him forced Ya Hyeoljeok to change his mind.
The Sword Master, was it?
Namgung Clan art saw the practitioner release a heavy aura that pressured the area around them.
Ya Hyeoljeok knew the art drained a ton of Qi from the user.
Even just maintaining the art was hard for the body,
But the girl before him had been moving around fluidly while using such a skill.
‘Are all the prodigies of this generation like this?’
Ya Hyeoljeok had thought that whatever the ‘Dragon Sword’ or the ‘Sword Phoenix’ was, they were just kids with names, but after seeing Namgung Bi-Ah, he changed his mind.
He was assured that once some more time passed, the world would be filled with monsters like her.
‘Well, that’s that.’
Ya Hyeoljeok started walking towards Namgung Bi-Ah.
‘I’ve already wasted more time than I should’ve.’
Ya Hyeoljeok had used up more time than he wanted to in trying to not hurt her face.
It would have been easier for him to just slice her in half, but he thought that that would be too wasteful because of how beautiful she was.
He knew that a martial artist at her level wouldn’t age physically for a long time, so he wanted to keep her.
“So I gotta be careful with her.”
He wanted to enjoy himself a bit with her but was reminded of the girl that had managed to escape.
He wondered how long it would take until Mount Hua was informed of his presence.
He assumed that it would take around 30 minutes for them to arrive here after hearing what had happened,
“Hmm, it’d be a bit of a hassle to erase all traces.”
Ya Hyeoljeok, after saying that, touched Namgung Bi-Ah’s neck to mark her.
“Hold still, this brother has something to do first.”
He knew that she didn’t have any energy left to run away, but marked her to keep her still just in case.
Ya Hyeoljeok then went towards the barrier.
When he got closer, an invisible barrier stopped Ya Hyeoljeok from going any further.
Ya Hyeoljeok saw that and smiled.
He felt the Qi of a Taoist from the barrier.
And he knew after seeing it from up close,
That the Celestial Plum Blossom put this barrier up.
Like Baechong had said, there was no one in Shaanxi but the Celestial Plum Blossom that could put up a barrier of this magnitude.
“Not even putting up a single guard while hiding something… What is he thinking?”
Ya Hyeoljeok just in case, used his Qi to scout the nearby area, but he didn’t find anyone else.
He knew that if he couldn’t find anyone with his qi, then it was safe to say that there truly was no one here.
He didn’t know why Mount Hua was being so careless, but he found it better for him.
If the Immortal Healer was here, that is.
“I guess I’ll find out once I smash through it.”
To find out if the Immortal Healer was here or not, all he had to do was break through the barrier.
He gradually infused Qi into his giant sword.
The air around the sword started to distort as Qi filled it up.
Namgung Bi-Ah after seeing that, gasped.
It was an unbelievable amount of qi.
And the fact that he was able to compress all of that Qi into one point was unbelievable to her.
Because of the mark, Namgung Bi-Ah couldn’t even let her voice out.
Namgung Bi-Ah would’ve tried to use her Qi to escape, but she was out already and so couldn’t.
She had been successful in letting Gu Ryunghwa escape, but she didn’t know when backup would come.
At this rate, she knew she was doomed.
She knew that that man wanted her.
No matter how naïve Namgung Bi-Ah was, she knew that if she was taken away by that man, bad things would happen to her.
‘How can I…’
She didn’t want to be taken away.
Namgung Bi-Ah remembered when Ya Hyeoljeok had brushed her cheek with his hand earlier when she was tired.
It had felt disgusting and sickening.
Simply imagining it caused goosebumps to cover her body all over again.
That was how it felt to be touched by that man.
Unlike the other man.
Namgung Bi-Ah was disappointed in herself because of the thought she suddenly had.
‘…Even at a time like this.’
She was disappointed that that was what was in her head when she was in such a situation.
She was thinking of someone else when she didn’t even know what would happen to her.
Namgung Bi-Ah tried everything to escape his mark, but it was impossible for her to because she was out of Qi.
But even so, she continued to struggle.
She knew that any more would permanently damage her body, but she had something that was more important to her.
Namgung Bi-Ah couldn’t stop after thinking that she might not be able to be with the man she was thinking of anymore.
When she was about to use more strength to try to escape the mark while persevering through the pain…
“…Don’t be so reckless.”
Namgung Bi-Ah stopped the instant she heard that voice.
And her body which had been frozen because of the mark, was suddenly freed.
Whether it was because she wasn’t completely free yet or not, Namgung Bi-Ah noticed that she couldn’t use her voice clearly.
Because of that, she couldn’t even say what she wanted to.
The boy spoke while looking at Namgung Bi-Ah.
“Stay quiet. I’m not going to listen to you even if you tell me to run, so just stay quiet and hide.”
After saying those words, he patted Namgung Bi-Ah’s head.
Very softly too, so that it wouldn’t hurt her.
After saying those words with relief,
The boy took a step towards Ya Hyeoljeok.
Namgung Bi-Ah tried to stop him in shock, but the boy had already turned into flames.
* * * *
Ya Hyeoljeok surrounded himself in Qi and tilted his torso after getting chills.
He had successfully evaded the worst of it by instinct, but wasn’t able to fully dodge it and felt the pain of something digging into his stomach.
He then tried to focus his Qi into his stomach area, but because of the sense of danger he felt from the thrusting attack, he backed off.
Utilizing the momentum of the impact of the thrust, Ya Hyeoljeok slid away.
His feet let out a rough sound as he slid along the grass.
After Ya Hyeoljeok stopped skidding, he spit out some blood on the ground.
He knew that he was a bit late on putting Qi into his stomach, but the spot he was attacked in was shaking.
He smelled something burning,
From his belly.
Ya Hyeoljeok cast his infuriated gaze onto the person that had attacked him.
Along with his shaky stomach, Ya Hyeoljeok began to smile.
“You little shit…”
On seeing the flames that engulfed the nearby area, Ya Hyeoljeok immediately knew who he was up against.
“…I was thinking of visiting the Young Master soon, but you decided to come to me yourself huh?”
Ya Hyeoljeok had planned to find his location by sending his underlings,
But he had chosen to appear in front of Ya Hyeoljeok by himself.
Along with the blazing flames that surrounded his body.
“Are you done introducing yourself?”
As if he was proving to everyone that he was a blood relative of Gu.
He looked just like the Flaming Demon that dominated the battlefields in the past.
‘A direct descendant is true blood after all.’
Ya Hyeoljeok became more serious after thinking those words.
He looked younger than he’d expected.
The Gu before him looked like a boy that had just started his journey to become a martial artist,
But that attack of his was undoubtedly the real deal.
Ya Hyeoljeok had tried earlier to scout the area with his Qi earlier and hadn’t found any presence.
Which meant that the boy before him had hidden his Qi on purpose in readiness for this surprise attack.
He had hidden his Qi so well that Ya Hyeoljeok wasn’t able to notice him…
‘There’re more monsters than I thought huh?’
The sweetheart from earlier was one thing, but Ya Hyeoljeok knew that the boy standing in front of him was easily a rank above her.
It didn’t seem like he had reached the peak level just yet, but it wouldn’t be long until he did.
Even though it had been decades ever since Ya Hyeoljeok reached this level and made no progress.
Ya Hyeoljeok knew that kids like these that had already started blooming would become much bigger in the future.
Which assured him that, if they were given enough time, they would easily surpass and step over him.
And that was why Ya Hyeoljeok especially liked stepping on flowers that had just started to bloom.
Stepping on them early on in their lives so that they couldn’t grow in the first place.
Ya Hyeoljeok, because of that, especially felt the need to step on the boy that was standing in front of him because of the light he was showing.
The problem was that it wasn’t very good timing.
‘I wanted to be done with this already.’
Ya Hyeoljeok wanted to slowly and painfully step on the son of Gu, but he didn’t have much time to spare and so had to give him a quick death.
It was disappointing for him, but it had to be done.
Ya Hyeoljeok grabbed his greatsword and got into his battle stance.
He had let the boy get one on him because he let his guard down, but his opponent was just a young prodigy.
So Ya Hyeoljeok thought that it’d be fine as long as he didn’t let his guard dow-
‘What the? Where did he-‘
The flames that were lingering in front of him had suddenly disappeared.
There was no way that such brightly blazing flames could disappear so fast.
Ya Hyeoljeok quickly used his Qi to find the boy’s location.
When he found his location, Ya Hyeoljeok immediately swung his sword.
Because the boy was behind him.
There was no impact in the direction the sword was swung in.
And at the same time, a huge blow smashed into Ya Hyeoljeok’s flank and sent him flying.
After rolling on the dirt with his giant body, the heat and dust combined and covered his vision.
Ya Hyeoljeok, who was now thoroughly infuriated, swung his sword and blew away all the dust.
When all the dust was blown away, Ya Hyeoljeok noticed that the flames that had been blazing weren’t there anymore and only a boy remained, standing firmly.
The flames that had been surrounding the boy had disappeared as if they were never there in the first place, and only the lingering heat remained.
“I remember now.”
Ya Hyeoljeok growled after hearing Gu Yangcheon’s voice.
His pride was hurt because he had let two attacks from a boy who hadn’t even reached the peak level get to him.
Gu Yangcheon then spoke looking at Ya Hyeoljeok.
Ya Hyeoljeok felt a bit nervous after seeing the boy’s eyes and hair both bearing reddish tints.
A boy that was only a first-rate martial artist.
“Ya Hyeoljeok… I think that was your name.”
Then the boy slowly but firmly stated his name.
“Don’t just blurt out an adult’s name like that so rudely.”
And Ya Hyeoljeok wondered how that boy knew his name.
The name ‘Giant Oni’ had spread throughout the world, but it wasn’t famous enough for anyone to find out Ya Hyeoljeok’s real name.
‘Fuck, what is this sensation?’
Ya Hyeoljeok felt chills crawl up his spine the moment Gu Yangcheon spat out his name.
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