Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha QC: LightBrin
I rushed at him.
I raised my sword.
I stabbed and cut.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of Starvation.
My body became that of a hungry farmer. My sword became a pickax. Struck by my blade, the air crumbled like dried mud.
At the end of the smashed, shattered, and broken void was the head of the Venomous Snake.
The Venomous Snake flinched. His gaze was stained with shock. The Venomous Snake’s shoulder was about to move, but it stopped, and in the next moment, his hips moved. He had given up on a counterattack and was now trying to dodge.
But there was no way that a farmer’s pickax would not strike the land.
My sword dug into the void. The Venomous Snake pulled himself back. The void sucked in his body’s worth of air, breaking the atmosphere.
The snow whirled around with the sound of the air cracking and bursting. It was winter. Every time the wind blew, the snow did too, and the air that scratched one’s nostrils was extremely dry.
The Venomous Snake raised his sword. Between the flurries of snow, the Venomous Snake’s eye flashed. There was a shock in the lone eye of the Chen Mu-mun master.
“What is this?”
I rushed at him.
Once again, I raised my sword.
I stabbed and cut.
“Ho—” The Venomous Snake again jumped back instead of blocking my sword. “Holy shit.” And with an explosive bang, ice pellets rose in the air. “Fuckin—” Whenever I cut, the Venomous Snake escaped. He had no choice but to avoid it. “Son of a gun!” A whirlwind burst in his place.
As I ran at him again, I stopped.
To be precise, my body came to a stop abruptly.
I wasn’t breathing. I hadn’t realized it.
“Huff.” As I inhaled, dry air hit my throat. There was a tornado raging in my lungs.
“Hooo.” I felt as if my intestines had flipped over.
“Haaah.” Every time I breathed, my body hurt and I trembled.
But I did not let go of my sword.
The battle was over in one round.
“Infection… it was obvious that you would get it…”
The Venomous Snake stared at me in a cold sweat.
“Death King, I thought you were just talking shit… But your sword skills are also quite good. Fuck. Really, what the hell? These blows can be summed up as a [Petty Demonic Sword]!”
“Yes, disciple! That indeed is a sword where you can feel the force of the devil that freezes and shatters the world. It is the [Eternal Demon Sword]!” cried the Murim Lord, who was grappling with the Heavenly Demon.
There must be an insurmountable, 4th-dimensional wall that could not be crossed between the [Petty Demonic Sword] that the Venomous Snake said and the [Eternal Demon Sword] that the Murim Lord was talking about, but that wall could not be noticed unless one was a mind reader.
The Heavenly Demon also did not realize that the wall was there. She clicked her tongue.
“You’re pretty sharp for a guy with only one eye.”
“Of course! It’s unfortunate that he’s a little old, but he has a ‘true’ eye that sees the essence of things. Otherwise, would this Ax Saint accept him as a disciple?” the Murim Lord shouted, glancing at me.
“Hmm. You’ve also gotten a better disciple than you could have expected. It hasn’t been long since he’s been yours, and he’s already using a terrifying demonic sword like that, haha. The Demon Lord’s little seed is scary enough to surpass even the Four Demon Lords!”
“I told you, I still haven’t accepted him as a disciple…”
“Confound it! Are you still saying that sort of stuff?!”
The Heavenly Demon shut her mouth.
‘That’s right,’ I thought, breathing wildly. ‘This isn’t a fight for me to beat the Venomous Snake, nor a fight for the Venomous Snake to beat me.’
The purpose of this match was—
‘To make the Heavenly Demon accept me.’
In this respect, the Murim Lord and I had the same purpose.
We were both trying to give the Heavenly Demon, who was just waiting for destruction, a future.
The Murim Lord grinned.
The Murim Lord shouted at the Venomous Snake, who answered with good spirit.
“From now on, I’ll give you some advice! Make sure you listen!”
The Heavenly Demon’s jaw dropped.
“O, old man! What are you doing now?!”
“Why? Do you have a problem? Didn’t you say you weren’t teaching that greenhorn demon?”
“Th, that’s true, but… I mean, you’re giving advice during their competition! It’s rude for someone to give a hand when playing baduk, but it’s even more so when two martial artists are competing!”
“These two are martial artists?”
The Murim Lord laughed and stroked his beard.
“In my eyes, I can only see the proud successor of the Righteous path and the newbie Demonic cultist. Since it’s a young demon, it’s okay no matter how we defeat him. So, there’s no problem.”
“The more I see this old man, he really…!”
The Murim Lord shouted energetically,
“Disciple! That newbie demonic cultist, his blows may be pretty hard, but don’t think he can keep up this momentum! Never get hit and keep avoiding it. Dodge, and wait for his strength to fall!”
“Oi oi, Master! It’s true!” The Venomous Snake grinned. “I’ve figured out that much a long time ago! Do you have any more practical advice?”
“Hey. Why is your disciple talking like that?!” The Heavenly Demon ground her teeth. It was a face bursting with heat in various ways. “Is that really the dignity of the last disciple of the Righteous Sect?”
“Oho. This demon’s got a problem with the way he talks? Then, do you expect children from the outside world to talk the same way as we do? Or why not? Your disciple… Oh, you said he wasn’t your disciple yet. Anyway, are you worried that the noob demon will be crushed by my student who speaks that way?”
“Disciple! Use the Butterfly Sword and the Precept of Life and Death! You’ll beat him in one round!”
The Venomous Snake’s thick eyebrows wriggled.
Below it, in his one eye, there was a deep realization.
“Sure. Is it the [Butterfly Sword] and the [Precept of Life and Death]?”
“That’s right! I’d like you to also add the tricks of your everyday martial arts, but is it possible?”
“Fuck, of course it is possible! Master. I’m the Venomous Snake, guildmaster of Chen Mu-mun!”
The Venomous Snake blew his nose and gripped his sword with vigor.
Meanwhile, I was finally able to control my breathing again.
As I fixed my posture, the Venomous Snake whispered to me, “Death King.”
“You asked me if I had ever starved?”
“I did. Venomous Snake-nim.”
“Is that your martial arts?”
His question was as sharp as a glance from his single eye.
I replied evenly, “It’s the imagery from the previous blow.”
“I thought so.”
The Venomous Snake smirked. Then, he turned his head and smiled.
“I’ll ask it another way, Death King. What do you think is martial arts?”
The leader of the Chen Mu-mun asked about martial arts.
It was the same as the Heretic Questioner discussing God, the same as Sword Saint discussing the sword, and the distant future master of the Alchemy Castle discussing medicine, so it was something that I had to listen to properly.
I would have done the same. If I didn’t meet the Sword Emperor, didn’t learn demonic arts from the Heavenly Demon, and above all, before I read the psychological state of the Sword Emperor.
“I’ll answer it for you!”
The Venomous Snake lowered his stance and raised his sword.
Like a venomous viper ready to strike.
“Lift your feet! Swing your arms! Make a fist!”
Then, he moved.
It was as if the Venomous Snake himself had become liquid. Like water flowing from a high spot to a low spot, he flowed smoothly and gently. Right in front of me.
He flowed like that, and in the next moment, bang…!
“Martial arts means—”
I barely blocked the blade that soared up from the bottom to the top.
Immediately, the Venomous Snake twisted the blade. The blade ran up against my blade, creating sparks as it did. The Venomous Snake straightened his sword like that. As if piercing the sky, he stood upright and slightly bent his wrist. He tilted.
Then, he yelled.
“You beat up the little shit in front of you!”
The strikes poured down like rain.
“That’s all! You little shit!”
A shower of blades rained on me.
“Damn it,” Bang! As soon as I blocked it, “Ah,” bang! The next blow went, “Oh!” The next blow again, “Damn,” and the abruptly falling blade chewed down on my sword and bit it. In that instant, he widened the opening I had made. “Ach,” then, swish…! The burrowing blade scratched my cheek.
Blood spilled. I narrowly took a few steps back. But—
“I won’t miss!”
The Venomous Snake literally followed me, curling up like a serpent.
Again, a slash from the bottom to the top.
As soon as I blocked it, he rose and showered down more blows upon me.
Damn. He was definitely strong.
He wasn’t ranked highly among hunters for nothing. This Venomous Snake!
“Oi oi, Death King! Is that all you have to show after drawing the first blood?”
The Venomous Snake snorted.
The burning feeling inside me burst out not from my mouth, but from someone else’s.
It was the Heavenly Demon.
She bitterly yelled at me.
“What are you doing? It’s a shower! It’s water! Doesn’t that sword form resemble rainwater?”
The Heavenly Demon, who had been provoked by the Murim Lord, finally couldn’t keep it in any longer. The woman shouted at me with her fists clenched.
“What are you so afraid of? Receive it and drink!”
The Heavenly Demon was acknowledging this match.
She was acknowledging that it was between me, who had become the successor to the Demonic Cult, and the Venomous Snake, who had become the successor to the Righteous Sect. She was accepting the fight between the two of us. This was a confrontation between the Demonic Cult and the Righteous Sect, and we were both accepted as the ‘proxies’ of the Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord.
I lifted my stance while holding the sword in reverse.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of Thirst.
I blocked the pouring attacks of the Venomous Snake before it could start pouring. Then, as if I was drinking it upside down, I dragged it to my desired path. It spilled.
It spilled to the ground.
The Venomous Snake who had wasted a turn.
And I, who had made him waste the turn.
At the moment when our eyes crossed, the voices of the old man and the woman also crossed.
“Disciple! Use the Rotten Leaf Earth Technique! It’s become wet soil…”
“Ha! Then make it into a puddle!”
The Venomous Snake crouched and took a defensive posture as I simultaneously twisted my sword.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of the Drowned.
Very slightly, at an angle.
When it’s nearly horizontal, bang! Attack, bang! Make it fly, bang! Matching the Venomous Snake’s breath, bang! When he blinks, bang! With that.
For the finale, in reverse,
The Venomous Snake ground his teeth as his flank was cut.
The Murim Lord shouted,
“It’s strong! Fall back!”
the Heavenly Demon yelled.
The Venomous Snake retreated, following the Murim Lord’s orders, and I advanced, following the voice of the Heavenly Demon.
Infernal Heavens Demonic Art.
Sword of Freezing.
The Venomous Snake was angered.
“You’re a sucker for a fight, really!”
“Venomous Snake-nim is also tough!”
“No, you’re really a sucker! Were you a lollipop in a previous life, Death King? How does it stick together like this?”
“Then was Venomous Snake-nim a dog in your previous life?”
As we wondered about each other’s past lives, the Venomous Snake and I clashed swords. A large amount of snow soared as the winter wind raged.
The field became more heated, though.
“Break off at a good point, disciple!”
“Hit him properly!”
“Don’t block it! Avoid it, even if you have to use the Running Wave! After that, use the Aged Earth Counterstrike…”
“Child! You can’t stop, either! Avoid it!”
There were scars on our skins.
They were increasing in number.
Blood splattered, flesh flew away.
Both the Venomous Snake and I had become caked in blood at some point. The open wounds were buried in the cold wind and quickly hardened into scars.
“Oho, Madu, you bitch! Aren’t you the one interfering in their match, now?”
The Murim Lord was scolding her, but he was still laughing.
“You’re an old man with only sly serpents in your mind…”
The Heavenly Demon was telling him off, but she was laughing.
Whenever the two laughs intersected, the Venomous Snake’s sword clashed with mine.
Neither I nor the Venomous Snake intended to kill each other. There was no intention to kill even in the war between the Heavenly Demon and the Murim Lord. Therefore, this was not life or death.
It wasn’t a fight to kill.
But it was a fight that, if ended, would allow everyone to die.
“Huff, hooo! Haa!”
I became the sword of the Heavenly Demon. I fought with all my power in the place of the Heavenly Demon, whose body had become infected and could not fight without spilling her energy all over.
This was the scene that she had lost.
The Venomous Snake became the sword of the Murim Lord. He ran with all his power in the place of the Murim Lord, whose whole body was infected and who could not wield an ax without breaking his spirit.
This was a dream that he couldn’t dream of anymore.
All scenes fade.
No matter how brilliant a dream was, it would one day become discolored.
Humans all decay.
At some point.
The Heavenly Demon stopped talking.
The woman who was called the greatest of all time in the Murim world slowly covered her face.
“You wicked… You wicked things…”
A decaying genre.
A decaying world.
“I threw it all away. I threw it away a long time ago, but it’s starting again…”
Only people could abandon people.
Only people could not abandon people.
“What do you want…?”
How much time had passed?
When neither I nor the Venomous Snake had the strength to lift our swords, our match was over. There was no winner. There was no loser, either.
I put away my sword.
Breathing harshly, I walked with arduous steps. I walked in the snowfield. I walked to the Heavenly Demon, who was standing with her face covered, and I kneeled on my throbbing knees.
I touched the snowfield with trembling hands.
“I want to become your disciple.”
I want to be your scene.
“I would like to have Heavenly Demon-nim as my teacher.”
I want to be your dream that doesn’t discolor.
“I am called the Death King.”
I hope your scene leads to my scene, your dream leads to my dream, and your life leads to my life.
“My real name is Kim Gongja.”
It was a period when all sincerity was mocked.
I want to support you so no one can laugh at you.
“Please accept me as your disciple.”
Please keep living.
That was what I said.
The sunset colored the sky.
Snow was falling in the field.
“I am the Heavenly Demon, So Baek-hyang.”
Snowflakes fluttered in the wind for a long time before falling from the sky to the snowy field. There were countless snowflakes. And one snowflake came to rest on one woman’s dark hair. The white melted in the black and flowed down.
“Bow to me in the Ceremony of Nine Salutes.”
The Heavenly Demon opened her lips.
“I will receive you as my last disciple.”
 The “Petty Demonic Sword” and the “Eternal Demon Sword” use different hanja, but they are pronounced the same way in Korean.
 Baduk: A Korean board game, also known as “go” in Japan and “weiqi” in China.
 엿 같네 is colloquial for “it sucks,” but its literal meaning is “it’s like hard taffy.” The joke was translated to “lollipop” because the pun worked out too well and I couldn’t help myself.
To report errors and issues or just talk grammar/language with me, contact me through Discord: https://discord.gg/Q3dStgu