Chapter 66 <Heavenly Demon. (1)>
Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha
-It can’t go on like this.
-……Heavenly Demon-nim. Half of the Blood Guard has been destroyed! The elders have scattered all over after saying they will enter the world of martial arts, but we’ve already lost track of their locations. It’s not the time to fight the idiots in the factions. It may be the biggest crisis our cult, no, maybe our world, has faced. With this vacancy, the bums are spreading rumors…
-……Heavenly Demon-nim. As you ordered, we have made a pharmacy that does not distinguish between the sects. The leaders of the Tang Mun came, as did the masters of the Mosan Sect. I will catch some Jiangshi and get results as soon as possible….
-……Heavenly Demon-nim. The Wolyeong Cavalry and even the Blood Demon have been attacked. Even if we defeat a hundred Jiangshi today, a thousand new Jiangshi will be created tomorrow. I can’t handle this mysterious disease! The pharmacy says that we can block the upper body with needles in order to block the Jiangshi, but this method is…….
-……Heavenly Demon-nim. Please flee to Nakdo. If you block yourself off on the island, no matter how many Jiangshi are there, 1 million or 10 million, they will not be able to cross the sea. How could this place be the only group that practices martial arts? If we set up the banner of our cult, it will still be a part of the martial world…
-……Heavenly Demon-nim. Why should you keep to the worthless promise? It was an oath made before the world became corrupt. The law of the heavens has changed, and a human’s duties always change. Forget the oath you made with the Murim Lord, and please retreat to make a comeback later…
“—How did you endure it?”
After being silent for a while, the first question I asked was this.
‘Just how did they endure this?’
The hellish world where people became corpses. Even they had become half a corpse. How did they endure three years with the danger of their heart stopping if the flow of his chi was blocked for even a moment?
The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord couldn’t answer right away. The two looked at each other. And after sharing a look that I couldn’t understand, they nodded as one.
The two left the cave.
I followed them.
When we left the cave, we were silent. We walked carefully so as not to wake up the other party by accident. So we were silent for a long time.
As soon as we reached the end of the cave, the stillness broke.
“Humans all die someday.”
Outside, dawn was coming.
“There is an interesting story told among Murim. There was once a high master who achieved both Thousand Poisons Immunity and Stone Durability. With the techniques, no poison could eat away at his insides, and no sword could injure his skin.”
The Heavenly Demon let out a sigh.
“He can be said to be almost invincible. Inside, he was invincible. Outside, he was invincible. How can one kill a person who can’t be harmed with even the most brutal poison nor the sharpest sword?”
The dawn sky became blue.
At dawn, the world was just a pale shade of itself.
“But there is one thing that the old stories could never tolerate. It is invincibility.”
The world that became a shadow. The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord walked in that place. Step by step. Slowly. Footprints could only touch the ground, never the sky. It was only with one’s own steps that one could distinguish between heaven and earth.
“Children of the outside world.”
The Heavenly Demon glanced back.
We left the cave and arrived at yesterday’s fields of snow… We were walking to a place surrounded by zombies who knew martial arts.
“Can you guess how that high master died?”
“How did he die?”
“He died because of a succubus.”
The corner of the Heavenly Demon’s mouth rose.
“The pleasure of uniting yin and yang is not poison. It’s not a sword, either.”
“Uh. But isn’t excessive pleasure also a poison?”
“Correct. Thus, the succubus did not offer a storm of pleasure from the beginning. She was clever. She calmly took her time. At first, she started with the most subtle pleasure… In the end, he indulged in even the most lethal of pleasures. Thus she, tamed and domesticated the master.”
The dawn broke.
The snowfield became a little white.
The white puffs resembled the breath of the Heavenly Demon.
“As he had intercourse with the succubus, he stopped thinking of her palms slapping him as pain. Her whip came to be recognized as a pleasure. The succubus’ gestures, footsteps, and even small glances became a sort of happiness for the master.”
The Heavenly Demon raised her hand.
“At the last moment.”
She stroked her neck.
“Lightly. The succubus just lightly choked the master and strangled him.”
“There was no need for strong martial arts. It didn’t take much effort. Two hands. She choked his neck with her two hands. As he suffocated, unable to breathe, he was soaked with pleasure and smiled brightly. Even after death, his face was smiling happily.”
The Heavenly Demon snickered.
“The high master, who reached the climax, was literally killed during the climax. He was invincible inside and outside, but he was not invincible to happiness.”
In the middle of the snowy field.
We could see the corpses. Though they were dead, the corpses could move as if they were alive. Soaked in the light of dawn, they stiffened. The corpses didn’t even move, so it looked like a forest of shadows.
“The lesson of this story is simple.”
“Don’t play around with succubi, obviously!”
The Murim Lord grumbled.
“It’s not just an old story. It’s something that really happened. Hmph! He was a master raised among jade and gold in the Tang Mun, but that bitch was secretly a succubus sent to assassinate him.”
Zombies were scattered everywhere in the snowy field. Was it because they had chased our party yesterday? The Heavenly Demon approached the zombies.
“Most of the novices who set out to learn martial arts don’t understand. They think the goal of martial artists is to become invincible, and that the reason for learning martial arts is to obtain immortality and eternal life.”
With a quick breath, the Demon hoisted up a zombie.
The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord. The two lifted and carried the zombies.
“Anyone who has achieved the Thousand Poisons Immunity will die from something other than poison. Those who achieve the Stone Durability will die by something other than a sword. Do you understand? Martial artists don’t simply choose which martial arts to learn.”
The Heavenly Demon arduously moved the zombies.
“It’s about choosing what kind of warrior you will live as, and also how you will die.”
The Heavenly Demon’s movement as he moved the zombies was sluggish and slow.
Like a delivery man after dropping off a heavy load, the Demon put the zombies down mid-route, breathed deeply, and moved again.
“Humans all die someday.”
He repeated those words.
“As if we didn’t know that already. How can we be bitter about the fact that we’ll die?”
Last night the zombies seemed to have wandered about here and there. The scattered zombies were gathered again by the Demon and the Murim Lord.
“—But I didn’t want a death like this.”
It took a long time.
The two of them had poor physical strength, and there were too many bodies.
“Assassination is good. Poisoning is also good. It is also good to be attacked by an army, or be killed by one of the Shaolin monks. It is good to die, betrayed by a trusted subordinate, and it is perfectly good to die while doing something for the younger generation.”
Middle of the sky.
By the time the Demon and the Murim Lord put the zombies back in their place, the sun rose to the middle of the sky. Before we knew it, the footprints of the two people were captured in the snowy field.
“But, a death like this is unacceptable.”
The Heavenly Demon took a quick breath and looked at me.
“You asked me how I endured it.”
“We just want to die the way we want.”
Hundreds of corpses, the sect’s elders, were lined up.
Hundreds of corpses, the members of the Demonic Cult, were lined up as well.
Thus, the zombies seemed like an army divided into two troops, as if they were about to run into battle.
I suddenly thought this.
「Even though their cause of death is the same, they all died on different dates.」
When we fell into the world of Apocalypse and saw zombies for the first time.
The conversation that our party had while observing the forest of corpses.
「It looks like someone intentionally moved the bodies…」
「Is it some kind of tomb?」
「It’s a grave. From a distance, they look like terracotta warriors.」
At night, the zombies move freely.
Nevertheless, as many as a thousand zombies were gathered in one place in the snow.
If you thought about it, wasn’t this in itself strange?
That was right.
Someone intentionally put the zombies in one place.
“Not a lot of them went far today.”
Five hundred people from the Demonic Cult.
“Last night, the moonlight was clear. Though not as much as sunlight, the moonlight can also stop the Jiangshi…”
Five hundred people of the sect.
The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord each moved their own men. It was hard work that took a full day. However, the two moved silently.
As if it was a normal routine.
「We are carrying out the great war like this.」
「Three years have already passed since then.」
“This Righteous Sect will never fall to the Jiangshi.”
“The people of our cult will not be destroyed, eaten by mere corpses.”
Even if the Nine Great Schools and Five Noble Clans disappeared.
“Surely, if our sect is to be destroyed, it must be because of the wicked fingertips of Demonic Cult.”
Even if the martial arts texts became so dusty that it became impossible to read the words.
“If this cult disappears from the world, it is only by the blade of that sect.”
This world had not yet perished.
Because these two people have to die in order for the world to end.
Let’s say that there are a billion people in the world, and 999,999,999 people die of infectious diseases. There’s only one person left. And if the last person in the world takes his own life, then the destruction of the world won’t be caused by an illness—it’ll be suicide.
At least, that’s what the Righteous Sect’s leader and the Demonic Cult’s god believed.
“Murim Lord. Namgung Family, Taesang Family Head. Namgung Un.”
The old man took his stance.
“I am Bu Wol-sun, the Ax Saint.”
“Demon lord. So Baek-hyang.”
The woman took her stance.
“I am the Heavenly Demon.”
The sun crossed the middle of the sky.
Years had passed since there were only two people left in the world.
During those years, their only job was to determine the cause of this world’s apocalypse.
“I request our 990th battle.”
Would the Murim Lord destroy the Demonic Cult?
“To surrender, or to the death?”
Or would the Heavenly Demon destroy the Righteous Sect?
“To the death.”
The two fighters began their battle.
In the middle of the snowy field where five hundred Righteous Sect members and five hundred Demonic Cult’s members stood, the Murim Lord and the Heavenly Demon rushed at each other.
I still couldn’t recognize the martial arts of the two. When I looked at them, they were barely stepping forward. It was hard. They could barely reach their arms out.
Their foot movements were so slow that they wouldn’t even be able to catch a child.
Their hand movements were weak, and they would not be able to crush even a single tangerine.
A decaying genre.
A decaying world.
They were slowly dying in this apocalypse, well into its 990th day.
I opened my mouth.
I watched their dances from afar and muttered unknowingly.
“It can’t go on like this.”
My heart was beating.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”
A fierce fight broke out in the snow. The Murim Lord and the Demon, who once demonstrated splendid martial arts while discussing the first people in the world, could now only fight on the level of a child. They rolled about in the snow. They tripped from taking a wrong step. They grabbed a beard and pulled their hair.
“In the eyes of the Sword Emperor, that might look like a really great fight. Yes. I’m just a beginner who just started swordsmanship. However, no matter how great the principle is, no matter how great the hidden reason is…”
The day had passed, and it became evening.
The Murim Lord and the Heavenly Demon never stopped fighting.
“This is an insult.”
The sun went down.
Even today, the match was not decided.
“It’s an insult to the two.”
A world in decline.
In a world where there was no way to cure an epidemic, the two martial artists were strong enough to survive. However, they were too weak to take each other’s lives.
“This can’t go on.”
The world was cruel because you can’t be born the way you want. So what was a world where you can’t die the way you want?
You couldn’t even end it properly.
Their lives had just been cut off in the middle.
-What will you do?
Bae Hu-ryeong said quietly.
-Will you kill the Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord in their stead? That’s right. That can be a merciful gift, too. That’s what I would do. But don’t forget that you and I are nothing more than ‘strangers.’
The two martial artists did not want to commit suicide.
If they had to die, then they wanted their deaths to be at the hands of the other person.
The Demonic cult would not perish due to a mysterious illness but be defeated by the Righteous Sect.
The Righteous Sect would not succumb to an infectious disease, but be broken by the Demonic Cult.
It was that kind of ending.
The right ending.
An acceptable death.
If I intrude and kill the two, it will neither be the [end] nor the [conclusion]. It wouldn’t be a merciful gift, either.
That sort of thing would only be [graffiti] that a child adds to the back of a storybook.
It shouldn’t be that way.
“I am,” I said to Bae Hu-ryeong. “I am going to finish this world in my own way.”
-What is that way?
I did not answer Bae Hu-ryeong’s question.
The sun set.
“I, it’s already night time. Old man.”
“Maybe since it’s winter… Huh. The day is short…”
“I’ll defeat you tomorrow for sure.”
“Who do you think…”
The evening deepened.
The 990th day of the war naturally ended in a truce.
The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord shook hands, and they went back to the cave in a more exhausted way than yesterday.
“Where have you been?”
The party greeted us.
The Venomous Snake stood guard at the entrance to the cave, and the Alchemist and the Medicine King were busy researching the zombie. It was the zombie of the faction leader who surprised us yesterday.
“We were looking at the patient. We were too busy yesterday…”
“Did you make any progress?”
The Medicine King and the Alchemist looked at each other. The Medicine King tsked first.
“Yes… S, since this is the first virus of its kind.”
The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord walked to the other side of the cave, saying they would rest first. I noticed that the backs of the two fighters were moving away and turned to the Alchemist.
“Please be honest. How long do you think it would take to make a cure?”
“Ah. Um, uh.”
The Alchemist hesitated.
“To be honest with you… At least 120 days.”
“Twice that. It may take three times more. The schedule for this sort of thing should be more generous, usually. But even if you have a generous schedule, it isn’t enough,” the Medicine King added bluntly. The Alchemist drooped down her head.
“……Yes, that is also right. It’s really the worst case… .”
“100 days on the shorter end. And on the longer end, about 300 days?”
The Alchemist dropped his head even lower.
“A, actually, we may not be able to make it at all. The facilities and the environment are also poor. At this point, I can’t guarantee you anything. Death King-nim. I’m sorry… You trusted me and brought me to such a stage… It is impossible to develop a cure within the time limit.”
The time limit.
The librarian said this when he sent us to this apocalypse:
「If you open your eyes, it will be the world 10 days before the unfortunate serial interruption of the Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon.」
「Please, I look forward to the wonderful ending that you’ll show me.」
In other words, no matter what happened,
The world would really end in the next 10 days.
The Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord, who have survived so far, will also die.
As the Alchemist said, ten days was the time limit.
“I’m really sorry…”
I shook my head.
“You don’t need to worry. Boss.”
A dagger at my waist.
I touched its handle slowly.
“I will somehow solve the problem of time. Don’t give up, and keep researching.”
“The words you heard when we first fell into this world yesterday. Do you remember them?”
This was no ordinary book.
This was an entire world.
We were here to save the world.
The Alchemist nodded carefully.
The two of us shared a look.
“…I, I remember. Of course I remember, Death King-nim…”
I also nodded.
“My words are the same as yesterday. The time limit is right in front of us. If we don’t break this stage, we can never escape from the apocalypse. Please set aside any thoughts that will get in the way. I will do my best in my position, so please show me your best, too.”
“I’ll clear all my doubts…”
“Yes. I promise you. All other issues will be handled on their own,” I said to the person who will be called the Alchemy Lord in the future.
“Please trust me and keep working.”
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