Chapter 69. <The World of Dead Constellations. (1)>
Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha
One winter day.
So Baek-hyang followed her mother across a snowy field.
It was cloudy. Snow poured out of the cloudy sky. In the pouring snowstorm, people were but shadows.
Her mother’s back, too, was a shadow-like haze.
So Baek-hyang raised her voice.
So Baek-hyang suddenly became afraid. The sound of snow was too loud. Her voice was covered by the sound of the falling snow, so she could not cry very loudly.
Her mother’s shadow was still far away.
So Baek-hyang became impatient.
She had to walk faster to chase after her mother. However, the further she walked, the more breathless she became. The more she walked, the smaller her voice. What should she do?
Should she stop yelling and walk faster to catch up with her mother? Or should she stop walking and scream as loud as she can?
The young Heavenly Demon did not know.
While she was debating what to do, the shadow withdrew a little further away.
Eventually, So Baek-hyang stopped.
As she stopped, her voice became a little stronger. Until now, her energy had been focused on walking not on directing her voice. So Baek-hyang thought that finally her mother would turn her head and look at her, and the shadow would become clear.
But what happened?
The shadow got a little further away.
While So Baek-hyang screamed, it had gained more distance.
Before long, the shadow of her mother was buried in the blizzard and disappeared into the snowfield.
Did her mother abandon her?
Had she intended to part ways with her while using the snowstorm as a pretext?
Or did her mother really lose her by accident?
So Baek-hyang did not know.
She couldn’t know.
[You have died.]
I let my eyes stay closed for a moment, then opened them.
It was an endlessly dark space.
[Your death has satisfied the skill condition.]
[So Baek-hyang’s skills are being randomly copied.]
[The skill cards are being created.]
The cards floated before my eyes.
But my immediate concern wasn’t getting a skill card.
I sighed and said to Bae Hu-ryeong,
‘Sword Emperor. Did you memorize the file?’
-Yeah, to some extent.
Bae Hu-ryeong scratched the back of his head.
It was the folder in which the Alchemist and the Medicine King desperately wrote down their research results. That was the important thing. The Heavenly Demon was drowning in disharmony and causing turmoil, so I couldn’t carefully memorize the contents of the file.
-If we combine what you memorized and what I memorized, the pieces will somehow fit together. But we have to go back quickly before I forget…
‘Okay. Then, let’s quickly choose a skill first.’
Bae Hu-ryeong moved in the air. He then looked at the back of the cards and read them out loud. The Heavenly Demon had quite a lot of skills, but there was one that caught our attention.
[Infernal Heavens Demonic Art (魔天神功)]
Effect: The Demonic Cult. They hate the logic of the heavens. They curse it. And they did not stop at hating and cursing the heavens, but formed cults, eventually uniting under one doctrine. The Infernal Heavens Demonic Art is a martial art with the essence of that doctrine.
Those who awaken the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art can tear up the heavens and crush the tall mountains! However, you must deeply understand the hatred and curses contained in the basic movements of this skill.
The more you hate and curse the world, the more you overshadow the heavens. One who has mastered and reached the peak of the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art is the Heavenly Demon, the one who will overthrow the heavens.
※However, it becomes difficult to maintain your sense of self if you use this new skill.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
It was a terrible name, but I couldn’t make fun of it.
‘……This must be the martial arts we saw earlier, right?’
Because it was really that powerful.
She just swung her sword from a distance, but the Medicine King’s head fell off. The Venomous Snake died without being able to withstand 3 strikes. Even I, who was confident in my training against [The Devil King of Fall Rain], could not outrun the sword path cut by the Heavenly Demon.
The greatest skill that existed in this world.
-Tsk. It’s a typical demonic art.
Bae Hu-ryeong frowned.
-In the end, it’s a matter of how you deal with the world, whether it’s with strength or strategy.
‘How I deal with the world?’
-Indeed. If you try to embrace the world with generosity, you usually end up in the Righteous Sect. If you try to ravage the world, that is the Demonic Cult. That is why the people of the Righteous Sect made their bodies into [vessels to accept the world], and the Demonic Cult’s people made their bodies with [nails that can scratch the world]…
Bae Hu-ryeong hmphed and crossed his arms.
-I’ll give you the simplest example. A sword strike that cuts straight from the head to the bottom. In some schools, they call that the Tiger Fury because it is like [a tiger rushing].
Bae Hu-ryeong took a stance and swung his arms down as if he was wielding a sword with both hands.
It was only for an instant, but I flinched. I really felt the spirit of a wild beast charging at me.
It was strong.
His tone and behavior are so pathetic that I sometimes forget about it, but in front of my eyes was indeed the Sword Emperor Bae Hu-ryeong. He was a warrior who had nearly conquered the Tower with just a sword.
-Well, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a tiger or a bull. The specifics can vary depending on how the founder or the creator of the move gained enlightenment. Anyway, it’s important to [imitate] a tiger or bull.
Emulate it. Copy it.
Thus, you make something of the world into your own.
That’s what Bae Hu-ryeong meant by vessels to [accept the world.]
-But the demonic arts are different.
Bae Hu-ryeong took a stance again.
It was the same posture as when he previously swung his arms.
-In the Demonic Sect, they say something like this when teaching initiates.
Bae Hu-ryeong breathed in forcefully and stomped his foot.
-Recall your rage, the soreness in your stomach, at the moment a thief stole one of yours.
The empty air in the void split open.
I unintentionally stepped back.
It was because of Bae Hu-ryeong’s countenance.
His face was blank, but it still emanated an infinitely cold anger.
It was as if he became a completely different person.
-Recall the moment your younger sister was dragged away by the governor. Remember your weakness, your inability to do anything. You waited in front of the governor’s house for the night to pass, but at dawn, your sister returned to you as a cold carcass. Remember her face, and paint it into your heart.
Bae Hu-ryeong began to perform a sword dance.
Even though his hands were empty, somehow I felt as if I could still see a sword. That sword was as black as the space in which we stood.
-Recall when you buried your sister’s body, alone. Was it winter? The ground was frozen and it was hard to dig. Did you dig at the stubborn soil with your fingertips? Did your fingernails crack? Did blood flow from your broken nails?
-In the end, you couldn’t even dig down to a foot. Did you put your sister’s corpse into a pit? Did you bury her feet first? Did you put a pile of cold dirt over your younger sister’s body? You couldn’t bury her in the ground. In the end, did you sprinkle the dirt on her face, one handful at a time?
I couldn’t breathe.
As Bae Hu-ryeong’s sword dance continued, the endless space which we were in seemed to narrow. It was enough to make my head spin a little. It was only the movement of his hands and arms, but Bae Hu-ryeong’s grudge resonated deeply.
-Recall the texture of that grain of soil. Hold your sword with the hand that dug the earth. Swing your sword as you scattered the dirt over your younger sister. Lament your helplessness and blame the cruelty of the world.
I muttered, though it was more like a moan.
‘The nails that scratch the world…’
Bae Hu-ryeong stopped his arms.
Only then could I breathe again.
-Shall we say that it’s a mental cultivation method that uses internal energy? It’s literally a way to build and train your mind by pushing through adversity. Whether it’s a strong person or a hunter, the outcome will be different depending on how well they use internal energy or Aura.
Bae Hu-ryeong shrugged as if it didn’t matter.
-In simpler terms, it’s a battle of wills. The demonic arts are a little heavy on the spirit.
-Anyway, Zombie, this isn’t something you need to learn.
I quietly looked at the silver skill card.
-Really, you don’t need to learn other martial arts. Don’t you know who I am? Am I not the Sword Emperor? I’m the greatest martial artist in this universe. You may not know this, but you’re slowly becoming proficient at my supreme techniques! Infernal Heavens Demonic Art or whatnot, compared to my martial arts, it’s like trash…
‘I want to learn it.’
Bae Hu-ryeong blinked.
‘I’m going to learn it. This. Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.’
-Uh, uh… Uuuhhh…
It was after about 3 seconds that Bae Hu-ryeong recovered his voice.
‘Because I want to.’
-Compared to my martial arts, this is total crap!
Bae Hu-ryeong began to go wild.
-No way. Zombie, did you fall for the Heavenly Demon’s swordplay?! The fuck. I’m gonna go nuts. That only looked impressive because she entered the state of life or death, leaking her energy! It sucks. It literally sucks out your energy! Zombie. A traditional warrior should not get drunk and waste one’s energy!
‘Are you mad because I’m trying to learn someone else’s martial arts?’
‘No need to worry. In any case, our Sword Emperor’s martial arts are the strongest in the universe. Do you think I’m trying to learn the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art because I don’t know that?’
Bae Hu-ryeong’s nose twitched.
Still, his pride seemed to have been satisfied since I flattered him a bit. This ghost was really easy to handle.
-Well. I am, as you say, the strongest. …But then, why are you trying to learn the demonic arts?
‘It’s so I can fully conquer this stage.’
In other words, it was to bring the correct ending to this world.
‘Say that a cure is made. If so, it’s over after we save two people, the Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord. All other humans have been dead for over two years… And treatment doesn’t mean that they’ll survive. Isn’t that right?’
Bae Hu-ryeong furrowed his brows.
-You’re right about that.
‘Then how will the ending turn out? In the reborn new world, the Murim Lord and the Heavenly Demon become [Adam and Eve]? Sword Emperor. Does that look like a good ending to you?’
Bae Hu-ryeong’s face looked like he was chewing shit.
He was probably imagining the Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord as a couple.
-No, that’s kind of… That’s really wrong. I can’t imagine a scene where the two become a sweet couple. It gives off a bad mood…
I looked straight ahead.
[Please select a skill card.]
The cards chaotically danced about in the air. But I only had one card in my sight. My gaze did not leave the silver card.
‘Creating a cure is just the first condition necessary to make a [good ending]. In the end, a great ending depends on whether the characters in the work can really be satisfied…’
I stretched out my arm and grabbed the card.
‘I want to present a perfectly satisfying ending to the Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord.’
[The skill is being copied.]
Of course, it didn’t end there.
[Your current hunter class is D Class.]
[There is a penalty from your skill.]
The Heavenly Demon’s trauma.
The bitter grudge in her heart.
Another hell that I had to cross.
[The trauma of the enemy who killed you is being reenacted.]
[The severity of the penalty is moderate.]
However, this wasn’t the first hell I’d run through. It wouldn’t be the last, either.
[The penalty is the Hungry Ghost Road.]
Will I have the chance to talk calmly about the hellish landscape that I’ll cross?
After returning to a day earlier.
I committed eight more suicides.
It was to return to the ‘first day’ we fell into the Apocalypse.
Same as the last time, the Venomous Snake shouted in surprise. The Alchemist and the Medicine King also instinctively hugged themselves. The dreadful coldness overtook our party.
The blizzard raged, shouting its ire. Achoo! The Alchemist already started sneezing and coughing.
“W, why is it so cold? Wasn’t this a martial arts novel?”
“Brrr. It’s like the Siberian wilderness…”
It was a white field of snow.
For me, I had become used to the sight over the past ten days.
However, the rest of the party was flustered, and I wordlessly grabbed the Alchemist’s hand.
The Alchemist carefully bowed her head.
“Th, thank you. Death King-nim.”
Some memories from not too long ago struck my mind.
「I still believe in you.」
The torso of the Alchemist that had dropped onto the snow. The red-stained snowfield. All of these images emerged one after another. My heart was pounding a bit.
I spoke calmly, however, not letting any sign of my nervousness appear on my facet.
“It’s natural, I guess. Chen Mu-mun master, please take care of the Medicine King.”
“Also, I think I just saw a human shadow over there.”
Unlike the last run-through, I led the party this time. Soon, the snowstorm died down, and before us, the forest of silhouettes—no, the forest of corpses—stretched out.
The Venomous Snake was confused.
“…What. What are these? Why are all the humans frozen?”
“It seems like they’re zombies.”
I touched the face of one of the corpses.
“Yes. Look at this.”
I pointed to the mouth of the zombie. Specifically, I pointed to its teeth.
“There’s a lot of flesh scraps in between the teeth. People here may not have the habit of brushing their teeth after eating, but even then, this is a bit severe. It’s like he bit things like a beast…”
Upon hearing my words, the Alchemist’s expression changed.
She examined the corpse’s mouth with a more serious look. After a while, she seemed surprised.
“…He’s right. The flesh and DNA in this mouth and the owner of this body are inconsistent. They are completely different from each other.”
“D-Doesn’t that mean he just ate human flesh?”
The Medicine King was disgusted.
“Why? People in the past also ate human flesh. It isn’t a zombie…”
“The dates of death don’t match.”
The Alchemist adjusted her glasses.
“This body died about three years ago. On the other hand, the owner of the flesh that was eaten died two years ago. That would be impossible if the eater had died and not moved for a whole year. It’s hard to believe, but… Yes. As Death King-nim said, it must be a zombie-like creature.”
“I, I hate monsters and horror movies! Do something about this!”
“Erm. Sir. Even if you tell me to do something about this…”
The Alchemist looked embarrassed.
The progress was much quicker than last time.
Even if the zombies started to move, we wouldn’t be caught off guard like before. The anticipation of a situation alone can change people’s reactions completely.
In my head, I remembered the results of the last few days of research.
“Boss. Medicine King.”
“I have a strange skill, though I can’t tell you what the skill is. According to my skill’s analysis..”
I explained the results of their research step by step.
My memory wasn’t perfect. I couldn’t memorize the entire file at once. However, when the Heavenly Demon killed me and I went back 24 hours, I had more time to memorize the file carefully.
Bae Hu-ryung also memorized it with me.
Upon hearing my explanation, the Alchemist fell in deep thought.
“…That’s amazing. It’s a flawless research method. I can’t find any fault with it. It’s almost like something I would do… But the terminology used is completely different from mine. No, it’s really really awesome. What an amazing skill, Death King-nim…?”
The Alchemist looked at me with admiration.
From my point of view, the Alchemist was praising herself.
Perhaps… The boss was evaluating herself as a ‘really, really awesome’ person. In this desolate world, wasn’t that confidence the most amazing thing? Or that’s what I thought, at least.
“Hm. It’s good that our research time will be shortened,” the Medicine King said easily.
“Anyway, I want to get away from the zombies. Ugh. It would be nice if there was a place to stay warm…”
At that moment.
We heard the sound of laughter.
In the last run-through, I didn’t know who was the one laughing. But not this time. The Murim Lord. The Namgung clan and Taesang family’s old man was the one who burst into laughter.
“The Demonic Cult ends today!”
“Even a passing dog will turn over and laugh.”
The voice of the Heavenly Demon, of course, could be heard.
I held my breath and went in the direction of the voices.
The snowflakes were trampled under my shoes. The closer the voice got closer, the more clearly I recalled the scene when the Heavenly Demon admitted her emotions.
「I am afraid.」
“As long as I am alive and well, the Demonic Cult remains strong.”
「This is why the world is so scared.」
“Ax saint. You’re the one that should say your last goodbyes to the Righteous Sect.”
「Where is Namgung Un! Call the Namgung family and the Taesang family! Summon the Murim Lord here!」
The country’s greatest.
The most powerful person in the world.
That’s why this woman survived until the last moment.
In an infinitely sad sense, the warrior who realized the egotism of the heaven and the earth.
The warrior was still smiling.
She was standing up to the world in the middle of this snowy field, still smiling toughly.
She was like a single dot stamped on a white sheet of paper.
“What a long tongue this old man has. The Bloody Ghosts are just staying off the radar for a while after receiving my secret order… Hm?”
I just hoped that the lone dot would connect to a line.
“You guys are…?”
The Heavenly Demon’s eyes widened. She looked at me as if she couldn’t believe it. It was worth it. From her point of view, I was the first new person she had met in years.
“Uh, uhhh. Is my great self seeing things now? It looks like a living person is moving…”
I arrived in front of the woman.
Then, I slowly knelt down.
The cool snow field gently sank under my weight.
“From a world far away, I heard of the majesty of the Heavenly Demon and came to find you. For a long time, I have deeply admired the stories of the greatest person of all time.”
I didn’t know how much time it will take from now on.
But I was determined. I faced the Heavenly demon and shouted.
“Please accept me as your disciple, Heavenly Demon-nim!”
The Heavenly Demon dropped her jaws as if she had seen a ghost.
To report errors and issues or just talk grammar/language with me, contact me through Discord: https://discord.gg/Q3dStgu