Seol-Hwi had gone through several deaths and this martial arts manual was in his Toolbox the whole time. Most things in his Toolbox wound up back where he found them—but this manual? It stayed. Maybe it was meant for this moment.
“Check inside my sleeve.”
The Earth Demon gave him a narrow-eyed look before reaching into Seol-Hwi’s sleeve.
“This is…!” He groaned, bewildered. His expression twisted in shock. “How could you…”
He couldn’t finish his sentence—it was impossible to understand why Seol-Hwi would be carrying a secret technique only the Heavenly Demon’s disciples would have.
This was a chance for Seol-Hwi.
“Goeun had it.”
“What?” He couldn’t believe it, but it was hard to deny. Goeun was his guard, and he barely knew Seol-Hwi.
“Think about it. If I were a spy, how would I get my hands on this? So let me ask you: when did you lose this?”
The Earth Demon couldn’t answer—losing something so important was too much for his pride to admit.
“...It doesn’t match the time you arrived.”
As expected, it changed. Because Seol-Hwi didn’t take it in this life, the course of history had changed slightly.
“However.” The Earth Demon gave him a suspicious look. “The Heavenly Night Pavilion wouldn’t betray me.”
“There’s something you don’t know. The Pavilion will not stay still, things will come to light—if we move, our enemies have no reason to stand still.”
“...What do you mean?”
“A schemer is always prepared for emergencies—if Goeun dies, if he’s discovered. That means we need to be prepared for them to retaliate.”
“You say they had a hand in this situation?”
“Nothing bad could come from being prepared.”
The Crimson Demon Palace and the Ghost Eye Demon Lord were all there. If Seol-Hwi’s information was correct, and if the paper on Goeun’s body really did end up saving his life, then it follows that the Ghost Eye Demon Lord had forged the paper. It was the best method to preserve the Ghost Eye’s life as well as the first disciple’s.
“You always confuse me.” The Earth Demon seemed to understand—it frustrated him, but he had no intention of backing down.
It seems the potential of abandonment was driving the Earth Demon to paranoia.
“It will be different. If I had intentions like that, why wouldn’t I show this to the other disciples?”
“Hmm…” The Earth Demon hadn’t thought that far.
His situation in the sect was already precarious; if this information was revealed to the others, they’d tear him apart. The Earth Demon didn’t let it affect his form, however.
“I like your answer.” He stood and his men formed up behind him. “But I have another question.”
He wasn’t done yet?
“Why did you use such abusive language in the palace?”
Oh… Seol-Hwi felt his face heating up. The embarrassment didn’t hold him back, however.
“I was only representing the fourth disciple’s heart.”
“Yes.” Seol-Hwi met the Earth Demon’s curious gaze. “One is a madman, one is a swindler, and the other is a snake. How many times have you suffered because of those headcases? The idea of it drove me mad; when I saw them acting up in front of you, I couldn’t stand it.”
The Earth Demon stared at Seol-Hwi silently. Seol-Hwi’s eyes wandered, worried that he spoke too harshly; he wasn’t certain how the man felt about his fellow disciples.
“Hahahaha!” He smiled, but Seol-Hwi couldn’t tell if he was happy or angry because he turned around.
“Of all the answers you gave me….” He came back and placed his hand on Seol-Hwi’s shoulder. “I liked that one the most.”
Seol-Hwi felt the danger pass away, and then fainted.
When Seol-Hwi opened his eyes again, he felt different. First, he was comfortable—stronger.
“I’m alive.” And in peak condition.
Seol-Hwi got up from the bed. It was neat and well-accoutred, like what a noble would use; so were the cabinet, desk, and wardrobe.
Mirror! Seol-Hwi hurried over to the mirror to check what was over his head.
“I’m certain I was on my last life…” It’d been a while since he returned, and he’d been in so many dangerous situations that he was beginning to wonder if he’d miscalculated his available lives.
But no, the number hadn’t changed. Everything was still dangerous.
“I need more lives.” His health, internal energy, and combat power had risen sharply, so he could call this life a success—however, his future was ridden with problems. Now that he was with the fourth disciple, the weakest, there would be endless attempts on his life. He’d have to seize his chances to move forwards.
Turn-based combat had gotten him out of a lot of crises; however, the moment he turned on AI combat he realized how lacking he was. The AI’s battle sense was almost godlike. The personality change was dangerous, though.
“Right. I learned the Four Peak Demonic Martial Arts.” Seol-Hwi’s eyes lit up. “Internal energy generates heat and opens the dantian’s breathing…”
As he reviewed the numerous movements, his eyes widened. A destructive storm seemed to be wrapping its way around his body.
He slammed the door open.
It was quiet outside—almost too quiet. The walls and trees seemed to block sound.
He lifted the sword and closed his eyes. He searched for the principle of the technique, the wind that his breathing would create.
Seol-Hwi lowered his eyes. His sword hummed with faint vibrations; gusts of wind curled around the blade and scratched against the ground.
This is insane… The wind fanned out like a thousand blades, splitting the earth and shaking the walls through sheer wind pressure. This was only the most basic level.
“Hm? Since when has this been floating here?”
Right, when I got insight…
Hmm… Seol-Hwi cocked his head at it. It appeared to be asking him to choose a martial art to upgrade to the next level.
“What should I take…”
He didn’t think about it much. He had the Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts, so he chose the White Light Demonic Martial Arts to see how effective it would be.
“What!” Seol-Hwi couldn’t believe his eyes. The White Palm Demonic Martial Arts were a sect technique said to grant a blue luster to the user’s hands. Those hands would be stronger than swords. Used properly, it would be as strong as the Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts.
The Four Peaks Demonic Martial Arts were used by the disciples of the Heavenly Demon, but some in the sect had their doubts as to its strength. No one in the sect had made a name for themselves using it.
On the other hand, Seol-Hwi had heard of a lot of people using the White Palm Demonic Martial Arts. Cheon Mi-Ryeo, the Cold Iron Witch killed a hundred people with this technique. For him to use such a martial art now.
“A schemer is always prepared for emergencies.”
The Earth Demon had approached without Seol-Hwi realizing.
“You said you cussed for me at the palace.”
Something’s wrong. The Earth Demon’s expression was angry.
“It’s strange, though. You got the martial arts manual from Goeun, but it seems you can use it as well?”
It wasn’t anger after all—he was ashamed that he let Seol-Hwi play him. He resented himself for believing Seol-Hwi.
It seemed like this life wouldn’t last much longer.
Final story? Final? Did that mean this was the last step in becoming a core warrior?
This was a special chance to solve the situation—he had to choose well.
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