Seol-Hwi drifted through a black space untouched by human hands.
Am I alive? He blinged, his dull senses struggling to grasp the situation. All he could say was that his body was probably being affected by this black space.
His vision cleared up and then Seol-Hwi shut his eyes again.
I feel dizzy. At least he was alive.
“Hey, wake up.”
Seol-Hwi opened his eyes and saw a familiar face.
Seol-Hwi wanted to lift his head but he had no strength in his body. So he looked at his status instead.
I got beat. The numbness was beginning to fade, giving way to pain.
With it came vision—as expected, he was in a cave. The gloomy space was lit by the flame of lanterns, which illuminated people in the corners. The cave was still too dark to tell who they were, however.
“Looks like he regained consciousness.” The speaker approached, letting the lantern light play over his face.
H-He’s…! Seol-Hwi knew that face, that curly shoulder-length hair. He couldn’t help but know him—after all, he was the one who killed him in the Body test.
New information, and all unpredictable. It was qualitatively different from what he saw before.
“You seem to recognize me.” The long-haired man smiled at him as he pulled up a chair. “Well, you seem to be a spy so that’s no surprise.” His voice carried a pressure that seemed to brook no disobedience.
Seol-Hwi raised his head to look at him—not at the face, but at the words over his head.
Insight? It probably had something to do with his Mind-Reading skill increasing, but Seol-Hwi didn’t know what it meant.
“If you answer my questions I’ll give you an easy death. Who sent you?”
Seol-Hwi looked at him and smirked.
“...I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“As expected, words don’t work.” The man laid his hand on Seol-Hwi’s shoulder and injected internal energy.
“Agh!” An indescribable pain flooded in, twisting Seol-Hwi’s very blood apart. Fortunately, the man didn’t intend to kill Seol-Hwi right away. It hurt more than death, though. Seol-Hwi couldn’t gather his senses; no human would be able to bear this pain.
“I’ll ask you again: who sent you?”
“If you’re in the Supreme Pavilion with this level of skill, you wouldn’t be in the background unless you had an affiliate.”
“Back—Haha…” Seol-Hwi held on by a thread. “There is.”
“...The Supreme Pavilion Lord, he made me—AAAAAAAAAH!”
He tortured Seol-Hwi for longer this time. It felt like an eternity for Seol-Hwi. His teeth cracked and fell to the ground, while his mind crumbled and his spine creaked.
The Ghost Eye Demon Lord yanked Seol-Hwi up by his hair and glared at him.
“I have plenty of time, but this is getting boring already.”
“...I don’t… think so?”
Seol-Hwi’s body collapsed, but his eyes were clear.
“If you don’t kill me before the test ends… it’s not me who’ll be in trouble, it’s you people.”
Seol-Hwi saw their expression shift subtly.
“The Earth Demon will come looking for me. That’s why you brought me here instead of letting me pass the test.”
“I know the Supreme Pavilion Lord’s secrets.”
“Funny. What does the Lord of the Supreme Pavilion have to do with us?”
“Hehehe. Do you not know, or are you just playing dumb?” Seol-Hwi glared at him and bared his teeth. “The Lord of the Supreme Pavilion threw me out and now the First Disciple’s spies are interrogating me. Surely you can put it together?”
Their eyes shook.
I guess I’m right. They were hostile to threats to the First Disciple, and Seol-Hwi didn’t do anything to threaten the First Disciple. That left one thing: the Supreme Pavilion. They must have contacted the First Disciple when they noticed the Earth Demon’s movements.
That was as far as Seol-Hwi had got, especially the “in the background” bit.
“Funny. You’re the one who picked a fight with Goeun. Why do you think we aren’t allowing you to pass the test?”
“I was going to take the test, but I changed my mind after I realized I was going to die—and that Goeun is a spy.”
Regardless, I cannot pass the test safely.The order of the tests wasn’t important. He would meet this guy after the Body test regardless of which test he chose next. The fact that he was alone in the front entrance was proof: everyone was in on this—even if he tried to give up halfway through the test, they would still try to kill him.
But how did he know?
It told him that he was doomed to fail. The “final opponent” probably referred to Goeun.
“So let me be honest. You people want to know who’s behind me? No…” Seol-Hwi peered at the dark figure in the back.
“...Heh. I wonder how much of the Supreme Pavilion’s secrets you told the Earth Demon.”
Huh? Words floated over the Ghost Eye Demon Lord’s head.
Seol-Hwi cocked his head. What does this mean?
“You’re more interesting than I thought.” The dark figure stood. “But there’s one thing you missed.” As he approached, the gold lines on his red robed came into view—unusual accouterments for the sect. “Even if the test wasn’t finished, you could have been killed anytime.”
“I’m the one who made you come here.”
He came all this way—he wasn’t going to throw away all his hard work and start over.
First or second, I’m going to have to make the same choices. Even if he went back and did as the Earth Demon suggested, it would be impossible to pass the test. The First Disciple had intervened—he would have to fight Goeun. However, he didn’t want to choose a different life where it would be even more difficult to survive.
If I need to fight… Seol-Hwi thought he had a chance against Goeun; he still had an ability he hadn’t used yet. The AI combat style seemed much stronger than direct control. Also, he’d gained Insight, whatever that was.
This time, I need to win at all costs!
A white light faded into reality—the library basement.
“Ah, I don’t have time.”
With the AI, there would be variables, so Seol-Hwi opened the Toolbox.
Seol-Hwi was busy.
“This, this, and this, too.” He grabbed the blade, then the dagger, and armor.
He also tucked the bomb away—anything for an advantage. If the AI found a place for them in its calculations, they’d come in handy.
“But how do I use Insight?” Seol-Hwi picked up his sword thoughtfully. As he pondered, his eyes were drawn to a “!” marker. Ah… that.
He heard the door open and Goeun coming down the stairs. Seol-Hwi was trying to do something, but
The fight had already started.
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