Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha QC: LightBrin
When I first tried to learn the Sword of Starvation.
The Heavenly Demon was disappointed.
「You mean that the longest you’ve ever starved was for only three days?」
She didn’t notice my efforts. She gave up on me. She felt resigned. She only looked at me swing my sword for a little while. Then, she easily turned around and left.
「I see that this isn’t getting through to you.」
「How can you awaken the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art if you don’t even know this?」
The Heavenly Demon tried to make me give up on my own.
Because there was nothing she expected from this world anymore. Because she felt there shouldn’t be.
「This was my fault.」
That’s what happened when I was learning ‘hunger.’
But when I started to learn ‘thirst,’ her attitude changed completely.
“Your sword is too simple,” said the Heavenly Demon as she watched me fight the Jiangshi.
I felt that the way her eyes looked at me was gradually changing. Sometimes I fumbled with my sword, and even though the Heavenly Demon frowned, she didn’t turn her back on me. Rather, she gave me advice.
“I can’t find a skillful use of it in your sword. There is no application. It’s honest and upright, but it’s just as vulnerable.”
The Heavenly Demon was beginning to place her hopes on me as a human.
“It’s like your sword is not fighting against humans, but against the world. It is not a sword of our school, but a sword of the Righteous Sect. It’s rather unexpected.”
At first, I was also killed in a single blow by a martial-arts-knowing zombie.
But as time passed, I was able to easily deal with the martial arts practitioner zombies. It was natural. Because every night, I was killed by the Jiangshi that the demon brought to me.
The more I went through the trauma of the corpses who died of thirst, the stronger my sword became.
“I shall teach you the core of our simgyeol.”
When my sword became somewhat stronger, the Heavenly Demon finally began to teach me.
“Simgyeol? What’s that?”
“…It’s a trade secret, the key to our methods. I see that it’s not easy to talk to a child of the outside world.”
The Heavenly Demon hemmed and cleared her throat.
“Think of the time when you learned the Sword of Starvation. What did you think of when you swung your sword?”
“I thought of starvation.”
“Of course you did. But it’s not just that. You may not have realized it, but you’ve already penetrated the essence of the demonic arts.”
The essence of the demonic arts.
“I shall tell you what that is from now on.”
We sat face to face in the snowfield.
“Now. Think of an [apple].”
“If it’s an apple… Like, an apple you can eat?”
“An apple to eat.”
I imagined one apple as I was told.
“Are you thinking about it?”
“How does the apple feel?
The Heavenly Demon’s question was weird. How does the apple feel? I didn’t really have an apple in my hand. How could I tell how it felt?
I was puzzled. The Heavenly Demon looked closely at my face.
“You don’t know?”
“If I force it, I can probably imagine…”
“That’s fine. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.”
“Ah yes. I have no idea.”
The Heavenly Demon smiled. The woman seemed to be rejoicing.
“You’re honest. Good! Now, think of [hunger].”
I thought of the pickax that the farmer relentlessly struck into the dry land. I remembered the gesture of him hitting his child. The children dug up the soft soil along the river and made togwa.
“Did you think of it?” the Heavenly Demon whispered.
“Yes. I recalled it.”
“How does the hunger feel?”
The crackling dirt in my teeth as I ate the mud cookies. The flavor. The crunchy texture.
“……It’s very dry.”
“What is the scent of hunger?”
“It’s the smell of soil.”
“Oho. What kind of soil is it? There are many types of soil. There is a separate soil for farming and a separate soil for making pottery. There is black soil and red soil. I’m curious. What is the soil of hunger?”
“It’s mud,” I said with my eyes closed. “But you can’t just scoop any old mud. It has to be mud with little gravel and no sand.”
“I see. I understand. How does hunger taste?”
The Heavenly Demon’s voice softened.
“I asked what the taste of hunger was. Why haven’t you answered right away?”
“……Because it’s sad,” I said. “The kids dry the mud cookies in the sun. While they’re drying up in the sun, there is nothing to do, so the kids stay by the mud. Waiting for the mud to dry…”
“They are the children waiting for the sunlight.”
“Hunger is children waiting for the sun.”
That’s right. That was what happened.
“Child. That is your poem.”
The Heavenly Demon’s voice fell like the austere snow.
“When I asked you to describe the touch of an apple, you replied that you do not know. But when I asked you about hunger? You felt the mud. You could smell the mud. You chewed the mud and ate it! You have seen the flowing river, and you must have overheard the sounds of the river.”
An old man’s last voyage. The wooden boat. The night sky.
A loner who tried not to cause trouble for the world but eventually became a nuisance nonetheless.
“An apple has a form, but there is no hunger. An apple can be tasted, but it is void of hunger. But you talk well about hunger! Hunger for you is mud, sunlight, river water, and children.”
“Child! That right there is your talent,” the Heavenly Demon said. “Now open your eyes.”
I opened them.
The Heavenly Demon was moving her hands while sitting.
“The reason you don’t know the texture of an apple is simple. Because it did not stimulate your [memory].”
“If you’ve ever eaten an apple, you will know.”
The Heavenly Demon moved her hand with a smile.
In a moment, I was able to recognize it.
The Heavenly Demon was pretending to cut an apple in half.
“Apples have soft skin. It’s shiny, but it’s also a little bumpy. I myself usually like to eat apples with the skin, but it will be different for a child with a cold. I would cut it in half…”
It really seemed like an apple was in her hand.
“Carve it out with a spoon. Feed the apple scraped off with a spoon to the sick child.”
“Have you ever eaten scraped apples as a child?”
I remembered a teacher at the orphanage doing that. The teacher made me lie down because I had a cold and fed me an apple scraped out with a spoon.
“What is the texture of the scraped apple?”
“…It’s a little grainy.”
“Correct! The originally crunchy apple has already been chewed on by the spoon, and it becomes grainy. But is that all? Has it become tasteless?”
“No. The yellow juice is filling up my mouth.”
“Yes! And is that all? If you scrape the peel, too, the remaining apple peel becomes ridiculously wrinkled. The hand of the mother who dug the apple for you also becomes yellow from the juice of the apple. But then, say, child. What among these feelings is the feeling of the apple?”
I was stuck in my own thoughts.
The Heavenly Demon asked me as if trying to make me hurry,
“Is it an apple as a whole? Is it an apple cut in half? Is it the scraped juice of a spoon? Is it the peel? Is it the mother’s hand? What is your apple?”
What is my apple?
“I saw a mother who only ate the peel after giving all the flesh of the apple to her child.”
“To me, an apple is the leftover peels for the mother. It is a child with a cold. It is the mother’s heart that has been sharpened one spoonful at a time.”
For some reason, my heart became warm.
Even though we were sitting in the middle of a snowy field.
Maybe it was because the Heavenly Demon had smiled.
“—And I also think of those young children whose mothers never carved an apple for them.”
But the Heavenly Demon’s smile did not last long.
“I think of a mother who cannot buy apples. I think a mother who would not buy one even though she has the means. I think of a child who has no one to care for him even though he is lying on his back. I think of a child who died because he could not be cared for.”
Her anger manifested in a poisonous gas.
The Heavenly Demon’s black eyes somehow looked even darker.
“There is nowhere in this world that has not been touched by human memories, and thus, there is no place in this world without resentment!”
I felt sick.
“There is no form in hunger. There is no taste. There is no scent. Wrong! Hunger is mud, a river, and a child. Even a single apple is hunger. Child! As you use mud for hunger, do so for thirst!”
“Feel the pain of the thirst in your throat! Sense it. Fill yourself with its taste. Smell its scent. Eat it. Touch it. The demonic arts are memories! Memory is also a sense. This is the key to our sect’s methods! The feeling of scooping out mud, the feeling that you capture in your hand, is your hunger, your Infernal Heavens Demonic Art!”
The back of my neck was cold.
Cool electricity flowed through my body.
“If some folks have suffered unfair things, that’s all. They can’t speak. They can’t let go. Unable to express themselves, the resentment continues to accumulate in the mind, and eventually, it solidifies into bitterness. However, the warriors of our Demonic Cult are different!”
The Heavenly Demon looked at me.
“We swing our swords!”
I grabbed the grip of the sword without thinking.
“As a geisha sings and a scholar recites a poem, we swing our swords. What is the difference between a ruffian from a band of thieves and a warrior from our sect? They are swung by the sword. But we swing the sword! It’s just that, and that difference is everything.”
My training began.
“If you just live, taking what you’re given, how can you call that a life? That is death! Can you call a sword that swings you as you swing it a sword? It is a beast. Do you want to die? Do you want to become a beast?
I bit my molars firmly.
“I am a living human!”
“If so, become thirsty. Become thirsty as you did when you hungered!”
I had gathered 112 people who had died of starvation.
Among them was a child who ate mud cookies.
I bit a grain of dirt in my mouth.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of Starvation.
“You have found the mud of hunger. Now you will have to find something of thirst. For you, hunger was the children waiting for the sun. What is thirst for you?!”
I gathered 48 people who died of thirst.
Among them, there was an old woman who drank seawater and kept drinking.
Her innards were pickled in saltwater.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of Thirst.
“For you, hunger was mud and thirst was the sea. But is thirst the only pain the sea brings about? There is also the pain of drowning in the seawater. There is the pain of drowning in the river. Child, what is water to you?”
I gathered 37 people who died from drowning.
Among them was a father who gave his child his last breath.
As he sank into the water, he shared his breath with his mouth.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of the Drowned.
“Hunger is dirt. Thirst is a wave. For you, choking is a father’s last breath! The land, the sea, and the air are already yours. Child of the outside world! What is winter for you?”
I gathered 96 people who died of the cold.
Among them, there was a newborn child who was stuck to the body of an already dead mother, up until the very end.
He held onto the body tightly until he froze.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of Freezing.
The dawn passed. The morning passed. Midday passed.
While the world passed through a day, I had experienced 293 deaths.
“Child. Your sword…”
The Heavenly Demon slowly opened her lips.
“Really, it’s ever-changing.”
The way the Heavenly Demon looked at me had also changed.
“People have different tendencies. Martial arts comes out of the different tendencies in one’s life. These habits that cannot be fixed. The Infernal Heavens Demonic Art is especially like that, but you… You are diverse. You’re rich in different tendencies.”
“Ah. I often hear that I have a variety of styles.”
“I’m sorry. Was that nonsense?”
“No. It was bullshit.”
“You’re talking a little bit seriously.”
“To be honest, it was a pile of bullshit.”
Was that so? Was it a pile of bullshit—?
If it’s a pile of bullshit, I can’t help it—.
“It is difficult for humans to know all the pain in the world. And even if they know it, to endure all the pain to its limits… It’s very hard. But as I watch you learn the Infernal Heavens Demonic Art, it’s…Hm?”
The Heavenly Demon furrowed her eyebrows. She turned her head.
“…Someone is coming.”
Someone was approaching from the direction of her gaze. It was still broad daylight, so it couldn’t have been a zombie, and because it was a world that had already been destroyed, it couldn’t be an unwelcome visitor. It was the Murim Lord and the Venomous Snake. The Venomous Snake was carrying the Murim Lord over the snowfield.
The Heavenly Demon’s nose twitched.
“What’s this old dotard here for? In that pathetic way, no less? Ha. Did you finally accept that you’re just an old fogey?”
“Shut up,” the Murim Lord said while on the back of the Venomous Snake. “I came because I was worried about you. Hmph!”
“Worry? You were worried? Even a Jiangshi passing by would laugh. You’re weaker than me, old fool, so don’t think you’re in the position to worry about…”
“Madu. You haven’t even done the Ceremony of Nine Salutes yet, huh?”
“Haa. It’s obvious, obvious! I knew you would be like this.”
The Heavenly Demon closed her mouth tightly.
In my mind, I was tilting my head confusedly.
‘What is the Ceremony of Nine Salutes?’
-It’s the ceremony used in formalizing a relationship between a master and disciple.
Bae Hu-ryeong said.
-The specifics are slightly different for each sect. There are places where you perform a deep bow 9 times and there are places where you bow only 3 times… I don’t know how it is in the Demonic Cult. It’s a secret and sacred ceremony.
‘How was it at your sect?’
-Well, if you endure after being hit by the teacher 9 times, that was the Ceremony of Nine Salutes for us. I endured up to my 63rd hit, so it was the longest record in my sect’s history. Isn’t that awesome?
I realized why Bae Hu-ryeong was such a crazy guy.
His Righteous Sect just made a bunch of madmen.
“…Shut up. I myself will decide who to accept as disciples and when,” the Heavenly Demon said. “It’s not a matter for you to interfere in.”
“You’re just talking vainly now. Of course I have to interfere!”
The Murim Lord came down from the Venomous Snake’s back with a thump. The old man stared at the Heavenly Demon fiercely.
“Because the reason you don’t take in disciples is that you feel sorry for me!”
“Huuuh? What are you saying…”
“It’s just the two of us left. You are the only one on the path of evil, and I am the only one on the path of righteousness. If you alone take in a disciple, the only young people will be in the Demonic Cult. So what is the conclusion? It’s like you’re winning the war between good and evil without even fighting!”
“You and I have agreed to end this ourselves. We swore. Because you feel bad about breaking our oath and you feel sorry for me, you’re not accepting that young child as your disciple!”
‘…I guess that’s right. It could also be that sort of reason.’
They’re in the same situation, but it would be weird if only one of them had a disciple.
Looking at the feelings of the Heavenly Demons, it seemed that she did feel sorry for the Murim Lord.
“Tsk, tsk. There’s no need to be so uselessly loyal!”
“I thought you would do this, so I took the initiative.”
The Murim Lord tapped the Venomous Snake on the shoulder.
The Venomous Snake scratched his cheek with a bitter smile.
“Well. It ended up like this.”
The Heavenly Demon’s eyes widened.
“O, old man… You couldn’t possibly have, that kid…”
“That’s right! I made him my top disciple today!”
“You bastard, you think it’s all right to do this to my great self?!”
The Heavenly Demon rushed at him. Boom, boom! Two masters rolled around in the snow in a dogfight.
“Do you know what kind of heart I had, not going forth with the ceremony today?! But this old man ignored the young, devoted heart of my great self as if it was nothing…!”
“Shuddup! If fate comes to find you, thank your departed parents in heaven and accept it! A person can’t just ignore it because they’re being too conscious of others!”
“What about the Great Battle of Good and Evil?!”
“Does it have to be just the two of us for it to be the battle? If our disciples fight, it can also be considered as the great battle!”
“I can’t accept it unless you’re my opponent!”
“For a demon lord, you sure have some idiotic thoughts!”
“What did you say?!”
The woman grabbed the old man’s neck.
The old man, unwilling to lose, grabbed the woman’s head and glared.
“Agh, you demon! You’re always like this. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. You rockhead! You think the world will split apart just because we split our positions?”
“I don’t know what sort of world you see, but the landscape I see is ice! Anyway, it will split if you split it!”
“Then melt it!”
“There is a fire called the Demonic path that will melt it! And the demonic cult members are the firewood!”
“Then get one more log for the fire!”
“Ax saint, you…! You hypocrite of the Righteous Path, you’re just grabbing the ends of my words to fight me…!”
There was such an argument between the old man and the woman. Whenever the two traded blows, two different worlds clashed with each other with the sound of metal. Worlds were able to establish themselves even in this endless dog fight.
Leaving the two worlds to fight, I looked at the Venomous Snake.
“It’s a little surprising.”
“What are you talking about?”
How did someone like you, with your true self, take someone as a teacher? —was not something that I could say to him right away.
So I beat around the bush a little.
“Aren’t you the Chen Mu-mun master? Is it okay for the guildmaster to receive tutelage from a new teacher?”
“Fuck. If you have a place to do a sword dance, you do the sword dance, and if you have a teacher to learn from, you ask to learn. I can’t just sit back for each of these things, picking at ‘why’.”
The Venomous Snake smiled. The thick lines of his face held a manly kind of smile.
“I’ll tell you clearly. Being pushed into this position by force or by mere pity. You’ll regret it if you were to be a disciple of the Murim Lord with such a half-hearted resolution.”
The two worlds were still fighting loudly.
It was different from the time that the Venomous Snake was pushed into the Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon by his pride and his followers.
This was an insult to those two worlds.
I couldn’t forgive it.
“…I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The Venomous Snake scratched his cheek, then sharply raised his single eye.
“Hey, why is the guy called the Death King rambling about this so much? If you want to confirm something, confirm it with your sword.”
With that, the Venomous Snake raised his sword.
“It won’t be easy, though.”
But there was an easy way to check. It would become apparent if I opened up the Venomous Snake’s psychological status window.
But instead of doing that, I said quietly, “Venomous Snake-nim.”
“Have you ever been hungry?”
The Venomous Snake blinked.
At that moment, I ran forward.
 Apple: Gongja may be confused because the word for apple (사과) is a homonym for the word for apology.
[TN] Uhhhhhhh…….. This is thursdays. Hello again. The new translator backed out. For now, we’ll be going back to a schedule of 3 chapters/week.
(Please send help.)
To report errors and issues or just talk grammar/language with me, contact me through Discord: https://discord.gg/Q3dStgu