Chapter 68. <Heavenly Demon. (3)>
Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha
“I’m sorry,” the Alchemist said. “I can’t cure him in his current state.”
She was examining the Murim Lord. Throughout the examination, the Alchemist had a dim expression. She was like a doctor who already knew that the patient had no hope, but had to do an examination just to confirm it to the patient.
The Heavenly Demon silently looked down at the Murim Lord.
They hadn’t been expecting treatment anyway.
Then, with an expressionless face, the Heavenly Demon opened her lips.
“I’m not trying to hear your apology. Stand up. Murim Lord, Ax Saint.”
The cave was dark.
The Heavenly Demon’s breaths became quieter.
There seemed to be a poisonous fragrance flowing from her mouth.
“Did you not make an agreement with the great me? Didn’t you boast that you’d challenge the Demonic Cult with your Righteous Sect? Didn’t you try to fight by bringing together the Nine Great Schools and the Five Noble Clans? You can’t just die in bed. You aren’t allowed.”
The smell of poison became a little thicker.
“Stand up and grab your weapon. You don’t even need to hold your tasteless ax. Use a wooden sword. Anything is fine. Use a spear, a whip, or even a wooden stick. Hold it. Grasp it and fight against the great me.”
“I told you to stand up.”
The Murim Lord breathed.
He had aged so much in just one night.
“I’m sorry I’m weaker than you.”
“I tried to hold on for one more day, but now, it is difficult. You must have felt it too. That I was already running out of my innate energy. My chi has run out. I’m also tired. If it’s you, you might still last another year… But this is it for me.”
There was silence.
“I was weaker than you,” the old man muttered while lying down.
The Heavenly Demon’s face distorted.
“I don’t want to be like the Shaolin head monk. Kill me before my body rots and decomposes. When you become a Jiangshi, even if you see, you don’t see, and even if you live, you aren’t alive. So…”
“So, you want me to kill your bedridden self?”
The poison gas had reached its peak.
“Is that what you’re talking about now?”
The Heavenly Demon’s body was small. From that small body, a black fire blazed. The chi took shape and burned fiercely.
Her energy smelled of soot as it flared. It was an odor that told of the life she had lived and endured. The scent of the Heavenly Demon was potent, like crushed weeds.
“Is this the ending of the war you promised? This?”
“We ought to have taken each other down before. For what glory have we endured this so far? We should have ordered all the followers of the sect and the cult to die together. For what bright future did we act so stubbornly?”
The Murim Lord could not answer. The traces of the tears that the old man shed hardened on his cheek.
“Namgung Un. Since the days of Confucius, you have received the praise and jealousy of many strong men for being born with the Heavenly Body Constitution, and by the age of 20, you reached the zenith of your form. Even before you turned 30, you became the leader of the Namgung clan. When the demonic world gained power, you were chosen as the lord to fight for justice. The essence of the Righteous Sect lies in you, and the grudges of the righteous path stand on your shoulders. But. You passively bare your neck for my evil self?”
“Fine. I will kill you.”
The Heavenly Demon stood up.
“But you won’t be able to die a good death.”
She headed somewhere. Even after the woman left, the burnt smell of the soot remained. It was enough to choke someone. The Alchemist and the Medicine King, who had no skill in Aura, had particularly distressed expressions.
After a while, the Heavenly Demon returned.
There was an ax in her hand.
“Old man of Namgung. This is the oak halberd which you pampered so much. You haven’t already forgotten it, have you?”
The Heavenly Demon raised the ax.
“War has forgotten chivalry, and chivalry has forgotten war.”
“If you say this, I will kill you as you wish.”
War, mu (武), forgot about chivalry.
Chivalry, hyup (俠), forgot about war.
It meant that it was the end of the Righteous Sect.
The master of the Demonic Cult said so. If the Murim Lord himself admitted to the ruin of the sect, if he could accept it, he would be able to give up his life. Then, with the love borne of battles and mutual respect, she would cut his throat.
“Why can’t you say it?!”
The old man’s lips moved slightly. His mouth opened and he parted his teeth. But he couldn’t go beyond that. His next words did not come out. The old man seemed to have lost his tongue. He opened and closed his mouth many times, but each time, he couldn’t form the words.
“I can’t do it,” the old man coughed out. “I can’t… I can’t say…”
Tears shed again over the trail marks of the tears that fell before. On the wrinkles, his tear marks were like layers.
The layers of hardened tears were difficult to distinguish from the crumpled skin of the old man. So the old man’s flesh seemed to consist of his tears, and the tears seemed to flow from the flesh and not from his eyes.
“I can’t say…”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Baek-hyang…”
The Heavenly Demon swung the ax.
The ax blade did not cut the neck of the Murim Lord.
It just swung and pierced the ground.
The ax was stamped right next to the face of the Murim Lord. The hard rock of the cave floor cracked easily like tofu. It was difficult for me to guess how much energy the Heavenly Demon, who found it hard to even lift a whip, had exhausted to split the stone.
“Did you say that when you become a Jiangshi, you aren’t alive even if you live?” the Heavenly Demon muttered.
“It’s all irrelevant, anyway. Even if you die now, you do not truly die. What is the difference between a life that is not life and a death that is not death? My great self cannot tell the difference. There’s no point. It’s meaningless…”
She turned around.
“The whole world has become empty.”
The next day.
Namgung Un, the Murim Lord, died at dawn.
His cause of death was the virus.
It was the tenth day since we fell into the Apocalypse.
The day had come for this world to perish.
“…I got a valuable sample,” the Alchemist said.
“There is a limit to analyzing viruses from people who have been turned for two or three years already. Thanks to this sample, we could observe the infection’s progress in real time. It was a big step forward.”
In front of the Alchemist laid the Murim Lord.
It was a body that didn’t even move.
The old man’s body was tied up with chains.
“You don’t become a zombie immediately after you die… There seems to be a slight delay until the awakening. I guess it takes some time for the infectious agents to spread over to the brain.”
“I have compiled the research results.”
The Medicine King handed over the file.
“This kid may have skill in making medicine, but she has no skill in explaining the process to others. No skill at all. Really. Hmph, this is why prideful people are so…”
“I researched it with all that I had,” the Alchemist said, not caring about the attack on her character. “But as expected, it was impossible to develop a cure.”
“Was there not enough time?”
“Yes. I needed at least 90 more days. If possible, about 120 days…”
As the chains crashed, they made an abrasive noise. We turned our heads at the same time. The corpse of the Murim lord was trembling.
-Guuhhh… Ugh, ooh…..!
For a while, we silently looked at the Murim Lord—no, we looked at what had once been the Murim Lord.
It kept struggling against the chains with its mouth open.
It was then that the Heavenly Demon walked over.
The woman approached with a quiet, tottering walk. The woman in black. The Heavenly Demon, who had black hair, black robes, and black eyes, was holding a black sword. Her sword was darker than her shadow.
The Heavenly Demon looked down at the corpse of the Murim Lord.
“Decades spent in vain, completely futile.”
We instinctively stepped away from the Heavenly Demon.
Her poisonous power was so intense that it was incomparable to yesterday.
Her chi rose and covered her entire body.
“In the end, this is what all humans are like underneath. There’s no difference between one and a beast. Eat, eat, eat until the body can’t move, only to disappear before long. War has forgotten chivalry, and chivalry has forgotten war.”
The Heavenly Demon stretched out her left hand.
The zombie opened its mouth and bit the hand.
Her flesh was torn and her bones were crushed. The Heavenly Demon nonchalantly glanced down at the figure of the Murim Lord biting her left hand like a dog.
The Venomous Snake took a step closer.
“Look here. W, what are you doing now? What if you end up becoming a Jiangshi…?!”
“Don’t go any closer.”
I grabbed the Venomous Snake’s shoulder and stopped him.
“It’s already over.”
“It’s over? What…”
The sound of flesh bursting echoed through the cave.
All the members of the party shivered at the excessively vicious sound.
Slowly looking over, we could see that the Heavenly Demon’s left hand was in tatters.
And there was also the Murim Lord, who had lost his senses.
The Heavenly Demon blasted her chi inside the mouth of the Murim Lord and smashed his head.
In the midst of it all, we were all speechless.
“Huff, haha… Ahaha.”
The Heavenly Demon opened her mouth and laughed.
“Ahahaha! Hah! Ha, ahahahaha!”
She was truly howling with laughter.
The snowstorm continued to rage from the ceiling of the cave. However, the sound of the Heavenly Demon’s laughter drowned out the noise of the blizzard until it was a trifling thing. Laughter filled the cave, pealed in the sky, and swallowed the world.
-Zombie. Be careful.
Bae Hu-ryeong spoke in a low tone.
-She’s in disharmony.
At that moment.
The Heavenly Demon turned her head and looked at us gently. Softly, alluringly, the woman smiled. A strange voice flowed from her open lips.
The hair on the nape of my neck stood on edge.
“Are you from the righteous path, coming to assassinate my great self?”
Already, her eyes were not focused on us.
“How delightful. Come on. Let us match our swords.”
“Everyone run away!”
At the same moment as my shout, the Heavenly Demon swung her sword.
A fountain of blood spewed out. It was the blood of the Medicine King. Cut at his neck, the Medicine King couldn’t even scream as he collapsed, knees twisting.
It was an instant death
Seeing his colleague die in front of his nose, the Venomous Snake belatedly pulled his sword.
He couldn’t read the pattern of the sword with his eyes. More than that, he couldn’t even see its motion. He only knew that at the moment the Heavenly Demon swung her sword, the Medicine King’s throat was sliced through. There wasn’t even a moment’s gap.
-She’s gone mad.
Bae Hu-ryeong moaned.
-Not even exorcism will work on her now. It’s because she exhausted all her energy and will, but… Now, even if it’s temporary, she has entered into a state of life or death. Even if I was to fight her in my prime, I would lose 4 out of 10 times.
That was the Heavenly Demon.
This was her ability before she was bitten by the Jiangshi and weakened.
She was the first person who reigned over this world.
“This is absurd.”
The Heavenly Demon hummed to herself.
“Head monk of the Shaolin sect. Did you think you could kill the great me with that meager strength? You horse-faced Taoist. How arrogant for you to think that you could withstand this cult’s power.”
Step after step, the Heavenly Demon approached us.
“Mt. Song is flooded with the grief overflowing from the world. The heaven and earth’s grudge burns the mountain. The Demonic Cult is the peak of the Murim world, and I am the peak of the Demonic Cult. Are you qualified to deal with the god among gods?”
The Venomous Snake raised his sword and rushed in.
“Death King! Take the Alchemist and run away!”
Even without him saying it, I was already doing so.
I grabbed the Alchemist and ran. It would be impossible to escape, but nonetheless, we fled. We did this to struggle until the very end. In order not to take this ending and this death for granted.
“You shall not get away, lackeys of the righteous path!”
The Heavenly Demon’s laughter chased us from behind.
Once, twice, three times.
There were the sounds of two swords clashing.
“Where is Namgung Un?!”
Then, the sounds of the swords stopped.
Having endured three rounds against her, the Venomous Snake was at the edge of his strength.
“Call the Namgung family and the Taesang family! Summon the Murim Lord here! No matter how dense the forest is nor how vast the sky, there is only one person who will receive the sword of my great self under this heavenly world! Four Demon Lords! Bring Namgung Un in front of me!”
The sound of laughter was tenacious as it came nearer to us.
Even if we ran away one step, the sound approached us with ten. We couldn’t match it. Eventually, when the sound of laughter caught up right behind my back, the Alchemist, held in my arms, opened her mouth.
The Alchemist looked up at me.
“I still believe in you.”
Something cut the two of us.
The sky tilted. The ground tilted. I lost my feet, the entire part of my body below my torso, and my upper body fell into the snow.
The snowfield was white.
We had escaped the cave.
A little farther away, the Alchemist had also fallen. The field was red only in the spot where she fell. It was like shaved ice sprinkled with strawberry syrup, I thought in my darkening mind.
“Ahaha. Ha, hahaha!”
The snow drifted down.
“Ahahahaha! Ha, ahahaha…”
There was no distinction between heaven and earth as it snowed. Dark white. I could only see a cool, pale shade.
Someone was moving away, taking steps in the snow.
The steps seemed to split apart the sky and the earth. However, the blizzard continued to rage, and even the last footprints were buried.
Without a trace.
Not even leaving behind a smell.
Even the world that charred its people. Even the people that were charred by the world. Thus, the black soot was buried and entombed so that only white snowfields remained. Let only the colorless, odorless, and silent blizzard fall forever.
The world has perished.
[You have died.]
But, that was all.
For me, the end was not the end.
[You are regressing to 24 hours ago.]
It was time to save their world.
 War has forgotten chivalry, and chivalry has forgotten war. This is mu (武) and hyup (俠), and together, the two characters that create 武俠, which Chinese novel readers may recognize as “wuxia.”
 Location of the Shaolin temple, considered the birthplace of Zen buddhism.
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