Chapter 72. <The One Who Gathers Death. (1)>
Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha
What word in the world matched the least with [zombie]?
I knew that it was a strange question.
But this world was occupied by zombies. As I fought against zombies and practiced martial arts, I naturally had to worry about zombies. So I just realized which word was the worst combo with a zombie.
That was [Hadouken].
A zombie in a black robe gathered his hands and fired a Hadouken at me.
I wasn’t kidding. It was real.
I’ll say it again. This [zombie], who had lived as a person of the Murim world, screamed and fired [Hadouken] at me.
“This is crazy—.”
The Hadouken easily pushed me back. I flew through the air like a tossed wooden stick. What had happened so far already left me dumbfounded, but it didn’t end there.
The zombie kicked the ground with a tap. It was a strange technique for movement. He sleekly activated a lightness skill. As if his body was filled with helium, the zombie soared into the air. In a moment, the zombie flew all the way to right in front of my nose.
“Hey! Wait, this can’t be real!”
I swung the Holy Sword urgently. But before I could wildly cut the zombie, a voice stopped me from swinging.
“Wrong! Don’t swing your sword randomly.”
It was the voice of the Heavenly Demon.
She was looking down at my fight from above the pit.
“Did I not say this? Think of the hunger, death by starvation. Think only of the gnawing in your stomach. If you just swing your sword, the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art is nothing more then a useless shell.”
The zombie opened its mouth in front of my face. Crack! I barely managed to twist myself away and avoid the zombie’s teeth. I didn’t have the time to fall properly, so I just ended up on rolling on the ground. Was it more angry because I avoided it? The zombie roared and rushed at me again.
“I’m not really hungry right now!”
The Heavenly Demon shouted as if she was frustrated.
“Can’t you think of the color red in your mind even if it isn’t in front of your eyes? Just because you’re not hungry right now doesn’t mean you can’t remember the feeling of hunger.”
While the Heavenly Demon talked to me, the zombie continued to attack me with its nails. If I was scratched by those nails even once, it would be over for me. If I became infected with the zombie virus, I would become Kim Zombie in the truest sense of the word.
The zombie’s nails struck my sword with a horrible sound. I couldn’t attack, busy as I was with trying to defend myself. I could taste death.
“If you can’t do this, it is because you aren’t yet used to the sense of hunger. Your stomach is too full. Those who learn the Infernal Heavens Demonic Arts must be able to freely recall their senses!”
A sense of hunger.
Memory of hunger.
“Remember the longest time you were starved for. Go over your senses from back then. Where were you then? What did you want to eat the most? How long had you been hungry?!”
“The longest time I starved for was 3 to 4 days…”
“What? Three to four days?”
The Heavenly Demon was dumbfounded.
“…You mean that the longest you’ve ever starved was for only three days? That’s ridiculous. It has been a long time since the world has become so turbulent, and the harvest has been bad. How could you only starve for three days, unless you’re the child of a noble family?”
“Well, the place beyond the walls were more abundant than the central regions…”
Of course, the Tower, where people from all over the world gathered, was more abundant than the Murim world. Furthermore, it was also a place where you could enjoy modern civilization. There probably were quite a few Hunters who’ve never starved for more than two days.
“Oho. Huh. Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
The Heavenly Demon sighed.
“I see that this isn’t getting through to you. Hunger is the most pressing sensation. That is because it is a pain that cannot be skipped for even a day, a pain that no man can reject. People live to soothe their hunger. There is no difference between the hunger of an emperor and the hunger of the lowest caste. How can you awaken the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art if you don’t even know this?”
I lived as an F-class hunter for over 10 years and have gone hungry quite often.
When I bought tteokbokki while living outside the Tower, I counted how many rice cakes there were per serving and only bought from a shop that gave 4 more pieces.
The Heavenly Demon turned around.
“This was my fault! For a moment, I had hope. As I thought, you are a man who’s only talk.”
I was at the bottom of the huge pit. So, the Heavenly Demon’s figure quickly disappeared from my view. Chaaang! Clink! Barely blocking the zombie’s teeth and nails, I shouted at the already distant Heavenly Demon.
There was no answer.
Again, there was no answer.
The Heavenly Demon was a warrior who didn’t look back.
“Please wait! Oh my God, it’s not like being hungry is something special! Does that make any sense that you can’t learn martial arts because of that?! Huh?!”
The Hadouken zombie opened its mouth wide again.
[You have died.]
[You are regressing to 24 hours ago.]
I regressed to a day ago and stomped my feet. As I returned, I saw the skill card of Hadouken Zombie, suffered trauma, and received system verification that my ego was maintained, but that wasn’t important now.
“But I also lived through a lot of hardships!”
I was fuming.
Indignant. Wanting to win.
Only those two emotions, like red and blue fireworks, burned in my heart. They went beyond just burning. They blazed.
Bae Hu-ryeong rested peacefully next to me.
-She’s educating you in a very traditional way. Well, she’s teaching you an arcane art, so that’s only right. Zombie. Humans have been eating more since olden times, so they become more simple…
“Fine. So she’s coming at me like this, huh?”
I ignored Bae Hu-ryeong’s words and left the hot spring cave.
“If you come out like that, do you think I’ll cower and surrender? Am I supposed to be thankful? I’m a man who has burned to death! I was scorched from my head down! Do you think I won’t die from starvation?!”
Bae Hu-ryeong wore a rare, embarrassed expression.
-Zombie? Why are you like this? Hey. Instead of this, learn swordsmanship only from me, not the Heavenly Demon woman or something. I’m much more tolerant when it comes to being a teacher…
“She wants me to feel hungry? Then I’ll starve!”
Bae Hu-ryeong muttered.
-What a dilemma. This guy’s completely gone nuts. Oh, he’s a crazy kid who can’t see anything in front of him when he gets mad… We’ll lose out on so many days…
From that day on, I entered the road to hell.
‘I’m going to find the items needed to clear this stage.’
That’s what I told the party. With that, I left.
Alone, I went as far as I could from the hot spring cave and isolated myself on a snowy mountain.
Doing nothing. I just stayed there.
Did he even know what I was trying to do?
Bae Hu-ryeong looked at me with judgemental eyes.
-You’re just going to stay here until you starve, right?
“Yes. That’s it.”
Bae Hu-ryeong lamented.
-Everyone else should have to know how dumb this guy is. Ah, poor me! I’m the only one who knows this, alas. I regret becoming a ghost when I died. I regret it!
He was noisy.
-Zombie. No, Gonja. Please. I don’t care that you’re so crazy immersed in your training, but what did I do wrong that I have to keep watching you from the side? Huh?
“Hey, I told you you’re being noisy.”
-Let me ask one thing. How many days do you intend to do this?
I sat in a small cave on a snowy mountain. It was different from the cave where the Heavenly Demon and the party stayed. Of course, there was no hot spring, and there were no grains or energy bars. It was just a dark and cold cave.
“I don’t know. At least 112 days.”
“I saw it in the Heavenly Demon’s trauma. She hadn’t eaten anything for 111 days and endured with just air. So I’ll hold on for 112 days.”
-You damn sashimi-like…
Bae Hu-ryreong continued to curse at me for over a minute. But it was pointless. No matter what he cursed at me, my mind was unaffected. I had already started to sit in a lotus position.
-You can’t last for more than 100 days, no matter how much you want to!
Bae Hu-ryeong cried out.
-Look at the weather now. It’s cold! It’s super cold! You’d freeze right away if you didn’t have Aura, but how are you going to keep circulating your aura for over 100 days? No matter how much you try, 20 days will be the limit.
Seeing how I didn’t respond to abusive language, he was now trying to speak persuasively.
-Besides, Gongja. Enduring for more than 100 days is no longer in the realm of hunger. You’ve never starved for more than 100 days, right? Since you haven’t, stop talking.
“Have you ever starved like that?”
-Yup. I know it because I practiced fasting in my youth. I felt like I was going to die of hunger for a few days, but after a while, I didn’t even feel hungry! It’s not starvation, it’s just mental discipline. Mental discipline!
“Then there’s my answer,” I replied flatly.
“I just need to fast for 15 days, then keep repeating the 15th day.”
Bae Hu-ryeong huffed.
-What are you saying?
“I won’t eat anything for 15 days. I’ll hold on until my hunger peaks. Then I’ll kill myself to stay on the 15th day. My hunger level won’t change.”
I looked at Bae Hu-ryeong.
“I repeat until I have 112 days like that. How does it sound? I won’t run out of Aura. I’ll continue to feel hunger. It’s the perfect solution.”
Bae Hu-ryeong was astonished.
-Just learn from me… Don’t take a strange master as your teacher. I told you, my martial arts is superior. If you really need a teacher, you can learn from me. What the hell is making you do such a crazy thing…!
“I will learn the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art perfectly.”
My heart was ablaze.
“Do you know why the Heavenly Demon lost hope in the world? Do you know why this world, [The Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon] ended? It’s because she felt that it was meaningless to live longer.”
When the Murim Lord was lying in his sickbed.
The Heavenly Demon muttered to herself.
「The whole world has become empty.」
That was the end. If the world was a book, that was the final sentence written on the last page.
That it was all meaningless.
Even if people continued to talk, none of their words mattered. Even if people moved, no matter where they went, no matter what they felt, none of it had any meaning. Even if there were hundreds of lines after that sentence. Even with thousands of lines of description. It was to no avail.
It was the same as a white sheet of paper.
Then, the novel dies, and the world dies.
It would perish.
That was what the Librarian meant by [serial discontinuation].
But I didn’t want this world to perish that way.
I didn’t want the Heavenly Demon to end like that.
“…It’s easy to live while avoiding things.”
I looked outside the cave. There was a white snowy field.
“Let’s say I have a thug-like skill. I’m the greatest. If I win, I win everything by skill. Hunters that are inferior to me are like that because they are idiots. I don’t need to care about the idiots, so I just pick a stage that’s comfortable for me to target. No matter what happens, I laugh at them. I look down on them, cynically…”
I circulated the Aura all over my body, still in the lotus position.
“It does look cool, I admit.”
Then, I began.
“And while cynicism isn’t childish in itself, people who live while being cynical are childish.”
I started to starve myself.
“Fairness is childish, but the people who live fairly are not childish.”
I starved for a day.
“I am a person too. I have to live.”
I starved for two days.
“Then, the answer is obvious as to how I should live.”
I starved for three days.
I starved, and starved again.
 Hadouken: A move from Street Fighter, colloquially known as Fireball because of how it looks, though it doesn’t always use fire.
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