Seol-Hwi was happy. Even beset by crippling pain and on the verge of death, it was so clear now.
At last… I figured it out.
The Great Sword—it all made sense.
“What is…” Go Wol clutched his head. He held his stomach with a furious expression, but he was lucky just to be alive.
“Hah. Hahaha! Haaahhh… hah!” Seol-Hwi was too injured to wield his sword anymore, but couldn’t stop laughing. To think that he used to crawl through latrines… He’d struggled so much, and, finally, the sand no longer slipped through his fingers.
“...You should have been a little cautious.” Seol-Hwi wiped the blood off his lips and scoffed at Go Wol.
“How dare you…!”
“You won’t be able to get out of here. There’s no way the others would let you go in this condition. Heheheheh.”
“You bastard!” Go Wol seized his sword.
Seol-Hwi’s vision was fading. His hand was going slack, and it felt like his sword was slipping out of his grasp.
Now, for real…?
Was there another chance? No. Forget fighting, he couldn’t even hold his sword.
Huh. Seriously. Death was surely coming; he didn’t even have a weapon.
I don’t have… wait!
Seol-Hwi quickly went for the grenade.
Let’s do it! His eyes gleamed with life, despite facing certain death. Seol-Hwi didn’t think the grenade would go to waste; it was just a pity that he wouldn’t be able to see the bastard’s face as he killed him.
Actually, he’d been hoping for a chance to see what the grenade would do.
Seol-Hwi tossed the grenade and ducked behind a rock.
A ring of fire washed over the sugar canes, blinding his blurred eyes. The concussion was deafening, rattling the very ground they stood on.
What would happen if he could use the Extreme Flames Martial Arts right now?
Seol-Hwi stared blankly at it.
Go Wol was dead, his body torn to shreds by the blast and his limbs flung away from his torso.
“And I lived…” Seol-Hwi looked at his own status disbelievingly.
If he had been any closer, the grenade would’ve killed him, too. But he was untouched—the grenade had destroyed everything around him, while protecting him.
“I did it!” Seol-Hwi’s eyes shone. He’d die soon, either way, but he still had work to do. Important work. He didn’t have the strength to move, but he desperately crawled over the ground anyway.
“Come on, anything…” He wanted what Go Wol had.
N-No… Ah, if he died like this the grenade would be wasted.
Right! Confectionery bar! He’d left it alone after eating one bit. It was still in the Toolbox, wasn’t it?
A subtle change, but it meant everything to Seol-Hwi.
“Just a little more…” He kept crawling desperately.
I made it… hah… Seol-Hwi shoved them into the Toolbox.
Ah! The Short Sword. He tried to put it into the Toolbox, but
No more lives. His last life had begun.
The surroundings brightened with the Earth Demon’s voice.
Same face, same expression, same choices.
"That's good." The Earth Demon nodded. "However, there are six more days until you can join. I'll head down and talk with the clerk on the first floor, so wait in the basement floor. Do something useful there."
The gesture and tones were the same, and the book he pointed to Seol-Hwi knew.
“But,” Seol-Hwi said. “I have something to tell you.”
The Earth Demon turned to look at Seol-Hwi. If you looked closely, it was more like a glare.
“I stumbled upon a piece of information by accident. However, it is difficult to say…”
“You are already part of this mess. Just say it.”
“Yes.” Seol-Hwi took a deep breath. He had to do this now. “Let’s just say… What do I do if I discover a double-agent sent to monitor you?”
“A spy…” The Earth Demon looked unfazed, to Seol-Hwi’s surprise. “Well, it’s natural. The moment you become a disciple of the Heavenly Demon, we get caught up in things we have no interest in. It’s been like that since the year I became a disciple.”
“Ah…” The fourth disciple, the Earth Demon, stood amongst the top 100 in the Demonic Sect. But Seol-Hwi was beginning to realize that this man was fighting a battle that Seol-Hwi couldn’t dare to guess at from just riding on his coattails.
“Seol-Hwi, was it?”
“Yes, Earth Demon.”
“If you come across a clue about the spy on your way to the test, come to me right away. By then, I will be in the Lingering Garden Palace. It would be best if you caught them.”
The Lingering Garden Palace was the resting place for disciples of the Heavenly Demon. It was well known to be forbidden to any other warriors; if they did, they would be killed instantly.
“I understand.” Seol-Hwi bowed.
It would be best if you caught them…
The first thing Seol-Hwi did when he reached the basement was to analyze his Toolbox. It was time to see what he’d acquired from Go Wol.
Ah, I got it! If the effects were true, these might be the best treasure in that place. Seol-Hwi was a happy man.
His abilities were back where they started; small, but that could change.
“Catch the spy.”
Seol-Hwi had brought up the spy to avoid going to the island. Now he had to think about the detour. There were treasure on the island, but, considering the monsters he knew would be there, it was rather dangerous.
And, unfortunately, everything he had in the previous life became useless once he died. So he took new ones.
Seol-Hwi saved the best for last.
“Wow, great… I can feel the energy moving.” It felt like he was breaking through his limits; his body felt taut and he could feel the growth surging through his muscles.
Above him, he could hear people walking and moving objects around; even soft coughs.
“Right. That was a thing, too.”
Understanding other people better would always be helpful.
“And now, martial arts.”
“And finally…” Seol-Hwi hefted his sword in his left hand. “Lean back the head, and down and back…” He held the sword out straight.
“Hah!” Firefly-like particles of energy feather at the tip of the sword and condensed, reaching out with a concussive boom.
It went clean through the wall. The power was clearly different from how energy was normally used in martial arts, a definite demonstration of escaping the basic levels of martial arts.
“This life…” Seol-Hwi’s eyes lit up. “Will be completely different.”
⁽¹⁾Cubit: 18 inches/44centimeters; an ancient unit of measurement based on the distance between your fingertips and your elbow. The Martial Spirit Blade is well over a meter long.
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