“8th year in the Flying Faction.”
“Your rank in the Heavenly Essence Academy?”
Heavenly Essence Academy taught the basics within the Demonic Academy, like innate qualities and musculature. There, complex elements such as patience, persistence, and effort are systemized into scores and evaluated. The academy took in classes of around a thousand people.
“I was twelfth.”
“What?” Officer Du Hong stopped and raised his head. His expression said he couldn’t believe such a high-ranked person was in this shabby place. Then he notices Seol-Hwi’s drooping shoulder.
“Your right arm… what happened?”
“There was an accident.”
“Accident?” Du Hong glanced at the name signed on the letter of recommendation, and shook his head. “Well, none of my business.”
Du Hong filled in the paper, and no further questions were asked.
But Seol-Hwi's face was tense.
Coincidence? Or fate?
Something completely unexpected hovered over Du Hong’s head.
“This is where you will work.” Du Hong brought him down to the basement. “You’ll be responsible for cleaning these books without damaging them.”
Tens of thousands of volumes were arrayed before his eyes. Books scattered across the floor. Books torn. Books everywhere.
“What? Don’t want to?”
“Ah, no!” Seol-Hwi bowed.
“Don’t even think about coming out until you’ve cleaned all of this.”
“And.” Du Hong remembered something.
“If possible, try not to get noticed—if you want to live long, that is. Monsters roam freely here.”
With that, the man slammed the door shut and disappeared upstairs.
Although Seol-Hwi’s surroundings were dark, his expression wasn’t. In fact, his eyes glittered with hope.
“How strong would his skills be?” To get out of here—no, to take revenge—he had to take a life. Even one wrong choice could kill him.
“No, before that… how could I even win with this body?” His right arm was crippled, preventing him from using martial arts. He’d never even tried to use martial arts with his left hand.
“The Supreme Pavilion and Wu Tian Pavilion must never know.”
Seol-Hwi looked around at the countless books. Most of them were probably military manuals and miscellaneous books of unknown origin.
In the basement of Cheon-Il 1, there was no such thing as ascending its twelve floors.
“I will try again. Even if it costs me my life.”
Shuck. Shuck. Shuck. Bookshelves were filled one by one.
His movements were slow – he only had one hand – but his eyes were not. Because until now, the books he’d read were only basic stuff.
“What? Deep Flow?” He picked up one of the books. The Deep Flow of… something. Deep? Seol-Hwi put it on the shelf without another glance; he’d picked it up thinking it was something extraordinary, but it was entirely ordinary.
“How much more do I have…?” He paused and looked back. After several hours of work, there was still a huge amount to clean – he hadn’t even figured out how many books were there.
“But…” His thoughts turned to just before his death. “...Save point.”
Seol-Hwi could remember it clearly. “Save Point” and something called “Storage”.
“That means I can record my life… how do I…?” Seol-Hwi was curious. How did he save? Under what circumstances could he save?
“No.” He chuckled. “This isn’t the time to save. I can’t save at a time when I’m a one-armed bastard.”
Not this time. This life was a complete mess.
“Phew. Let’s work first.” He stood and began stacking books, wincing at the pain in his right shoulder.
Shuck. Shuck. Shuck.
<What martial arts would you like to learn?>
▶ White Light Demonic Arts (Possible)
▷ Bare Handed Demonic Arts (Not Possible)
▷ Peak Flourishing Demonic Arts (Not Possible)
An unexpected window appeared.
This is… Seol-Hwi stared. In the pile of books, one book was shining.
“I can move this time.” His body hadn’t stopped.
Possible? Not possible? Did that mean, out of the three, he could only choose the first one?
But how do I choose? Seol-Hwi glared intently at the third option, but nothing changed. Normally, the arrow would follow his gaze.
Wait. He remembered the first sentence from when the status window appeared. “Swipe to unlock.”
Maybe like this… He slid his gaze to the right, and the options disappeared like a lie.
I did it!
<You cannot learn this while your right arm is crippled.>
“Gah!” Seol-Hwi’s face instantly fell again.
The Peak Flourishing Demonic Arts was similar to the Flame Demonic Arts used by the Lord of the Supreme Pavilion; in the past, the former teacher was famous for using it. Though he’d never seen it, Seol-Hwi thought of it as an advanced art.
“It’s fine. There are other things.” It was unfortunate, but Seol-Hwi turned his attention to the first option. He wasn’t sure what the White Light Demonic Arts were, but it had to be useful. The text in question was entitled Three Essences Primary Instruction Manual.
“It’ll work out.” He chose the only option he had.
<You have chosen the “White Light Demonic Arts”. Choose your preferred method from below.>
▶ Swordsmanship (Possible)
▷ Close-combat (Possible)
▷ Footwork (Possible)
Seol-Hwi didn’t hesitate. He would prefer to learn everything, though.
First is swordsmanship.
<You have chosen “Swordsmanship”. We will show you a video.>
A translucent film was drawn before him. A shadow – not a human – came to life in front of him.
“No…” It wasn’t just moving. From the very beginning, to the specifics of posture, to the forces and position on the feet, and even the sword technique unfolded naturally. The faintest condensation could be seen emerging from the shadow’s mouth as it taught him how to breathe.
Everything was laid out, one by one.
◆ White Light Swordsmanship Skill Table ◆
Great Sword: ↓↘ → ←, B (New)
Meaningless words and new symbols.
On the first day, he decided to learn the movements. Surprisingly, these martial arts worked with just his left arm.
Having mastered the swordsmanship, it was much easier to learn close-combat and footwork afterwards. When he selected the close-combat and footwork sections, the shadow appeared to teach him once again. It’s teaching was perfect, even when the text was absolutely unintelligible to him.
A week. Seven days passed like this. By then, Seol-Hwi could follow the movements in their entirety, albeit a little clumsily.
“The question is…” Now, whenever he wanted to exercise the swordsmanship technique, the window would pop up. The new symbols clearly had some meaning, but he couldn’t figure out what they were.
“Oh, wait! What if I do it the same way as selecting the options?” He looked at the skill sheet and slid his gaze to the right.
(Forward →), (Back ←), (Top ↑), (Bottom ↓), (Bottom Right ↘), (Bottom Left ↙)
A = right hand, B = left hand, C = right foot, D = left foot
Seol-Hwi immediately compared it to the Great Sword skill table. It had the same symbols, ↓↘ → ←, and was “B” which meant to use the left hand.
“Let’s try it.” He didn’t quite understand, but he decided to give it a shot. Surely he could figure it out as he went.
Whatever it meant.
A month had passed. Seol-Hwi’s imitations of the shadow were similar, but not perfect. The energy the shadow would unfold was powerful enough to smash through the bookshelves and shatter walls, but in Seol-Hwi’s attempts the energy would disappear right away. He wasn’t even at 30% of what the shadow could do.
“This strength, with my left hand…” Despite not using his right hand, the White Light Demonic Arts emitted a profound energy.
“It would be nice to use the Great Sword, too…” Seol-Hwi was constantly looking at the skill table. He couldn’t unleash the Great Sword even after an entire month.
But what is this? It seemed like he had the confidence to fight a member now.
“Well, I need to get back to cleaning.” Seol-Hwi grumbled at the piles of unorganized books. It if weren’t for the dusty corner, he could’ve been done even sooner than expected.
“Let’s see if I’ve missed anything.” He walked towards the corner table and picked up a book of martial arts.
He was interrupted by the door opening. Seol-Hwi stared at the other person.
“Huh? There was someone here?” It was a young man, probably an academy scholar.
Seol-Hwi couldn’t take his eyes off the man.
“Is there something on my face?” The young man tilted his head inquisitively.
Not one, but ten. Who was this and what was this mark?
“Ah, no.” Seol-Hwi came to his senses and shook his head. Sama Gwi’s guard had four lives – anyone with ten lives, no matter who, had to be strong.
“Haha. You don’t have to be on alert.” The young man waved it off with a smile. Contrary to Seol-Hwi’s expectations, this man seemed innocent and free-spirited. “But what do I call you?”
“...You can call me Seol-Hwi.”
“Ah. Yes. But Seol-Hwi, what were you doing down here?”
“I was organizing the bookshelves.”
“Ah, so you were cleaning up.” The young man nodded. “Good. Then let me ask you another thing.”
“Please do,” Seol-Hwi replied. The young man peered around, as if looking for something.
“Have you seen a book called Three Primary Essences Instruction Manual?
<Please select an option.>
▶ I’ve never seen that book.
▶ I’ve learned the martial arts in that book.
▷ I’ve never seen that book.
▶ I’ve learned the martial arts in that book.
He couldn’t choose an option haphazardly.
After all, the book he was looking for was in Seol-Hwi’s hand.
- The Heavenly Library↩
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