Chapter 80. <The Scent of Snow. (3)>
Translator: thursdays Editor: Sasha PR: LightBrin
Master did not undergo the surgery right away.
“I’m sorry. I, I just have to take a break…”
It was just after the Murim Lord’s procedure ended. Both the Alchemist and the Medicine King were tired from performing the surgery. The Alchemist collapsed and fell asleep, and the Medicine King went to the hot springs with his jaw hanging loose, clearly out of it.
Master frowned and looked down at the Murim Lord.
“Old man. I heard you lost your lower abdomen, so I came to see it myself.”
“My first visitor since I’ve become a patient is incredible. Fine, come and feast your eyes.”
“How do you feel?”
The Murim Lord, who was lying down on the mat, and cackled.
“I feel light. I feel like I just might ascend.”
“You’re full of shit. You can’t even turn over a new leaf, let alone ascend…”
The Murim Lord smirked.
“Well, your mug looks lighter, too. Madu. Have you also decided to get the surgery?”
“I just spent a year’s worth of energy while swinging my sword. It was the last time in my life that I could play with my chi like that.”
The Murim Lord’s eyes sparkled.
“It must have been a magnificent sight. How regrettable that I couldn’t see it while I was lying in bed. So? What did you do?”
“I tried to cut the winter, but I could not. That stage of deathly desperation is far away for me.”
“Oh, that’s a shame. Well. Cheer up. Isn’t that an unprecedented stage? If it were as easy as that, the world’s history would have been upset at least six times.”
The Murim Lord cackled again.
Looking down at the old man’s laughter, Master opened her lips.
“Namgung Un. You are…”
“I don’t regret it at all.”
The Murim Master flatly cut her off.
“The world fell to pieces a long time ago, but we lasted for three years by a strange fate. It was a strange fate that the outside world’s doctors could treat us. That I could have a final disciple, that the Righteous Sect that I thought would end would continue—all of that is some strange act of fate! If all these strange coincidences overlap, isn’t this what you call a miracle? I am merely feeling grateful for this miracle.”
“Hmm. The only thing that I regret is this. We’ve never been able to conclude our War of Good and Evil, Madu. Well, there is no such thing as a perfect life. Our disciples will take care of it.”
“Yes. They will.”
Master smiled a little. It was a lonely smile. However, Master’s eyes as she looked at me held a strong faith in them.
“If this is the end of my life, I shall accept it.”
It wasn’t a happy acceptance. But it was close to it.
No matter how sweet candy is, it must melt in your mouth before you can swallow it.
Maybe Master was carefully thinking about the end of her life.
“Master. I have to go somewhere for a moment.”
“Hmm? Where in the world can you go with the outside in that state?”
“Think about it as your disciple going out for some air. Don’t worry.”
“…I feel more worried because you said that.”
Master quietly lowered her eyebrows.
“You’re not trying to get involved in something perilous, are you?”
“I will definitely be back before Master’s procedure is over.”
I covered my fist with a hand in front of me and bowed.
The way my hands were probably looked quite awkward, but I put my heart into the action.
“Please get treated comfortably, Master. When you open your eyes again, your unworthy disciple will be waiting.”
Master accepted this.
Now, it was time for me to give Master her life back.
I exited the cave and crossed the snowy field.
As I crossed the snowfield, I pictured how this world looked before it was destroyed. The Murim. A martial arts forest. Was there a thick forest over there? Gangho. Rivers and lakes. Did water flow over there?
It was the other side of the snowfield.
“I have executed the order.”
In the middle of the snowfield, the place where the trees had grown and the river flowed, Preta was kneeling on one knee.
“Did you find them all?”
“Yes,” Preta said, her head bowed. White snow was like dirt on her hair. The snowflakes proved how long she had been kneeling.
“As our lord ordered.”
I had ordered Preta to do something the other day.
「There will be Jiangshi that can use martial arts in the vicinity who are alone.」
「Find the Demonic Cult members in their black uniforms. Find the chivalrous fighters in their white uniforms.」
During the last three years of the great battle of good and evil, many Jiangshi have ‘gone missing.’
The corpses of the warriors were swept away by the blizzard and the snow in the wind.
“There were 439 Jiangshi from the Demonic Cult that were lost. From the Righteous Sect, 478 Jiangshi. In total, 917 people were missing.”
That wasn’t all.
“560 members of the Demonic Cult were not lost, but are in the vicinity. Members of the Righteous Sect that are in the vicinity, 521. In total, 1998. All of them.”
Preta bowed a little deeper.
Over her thin shoulder.
“I have gathered them here for you.”
Jiangshi were lined up in the snowfield.
My regiment of skeletons held the Jiangshi captive on both sides. It was morning. There was no way that the weak Jiangshi could move in the sunlight, but even if the clouds covered the sun, their battle formation would not fall apart.
“Good. You did well.”
“Now, bring the Jiangshi to me one by one.”
“Yes. As you command.”
The skeletons dragged over the cold corpses. By the time the first one reached me, I was already holding the Holy Sword. Winter was cold. But my blade that sliced through the winter air was colder.
The wind blew. Just as the rain was collected in a lake, the wind blew into the valley in a rage. As it was collected in the valley, the sound of the winds seemed to resemble human voices.
Far away. The wind shouted the sutra.
The sound, as it dropped down, resembled the sound of all humans.
I heard the sound of the wind that was rolling down and swung my sword.
And cut decisively.
The Jiangshi’s head split.
I cut and cut the corpses.
Without any rest.
As the Jiangshi’s heads burst, fragments and debris splattered all over.
The skeletons quickly brought over the next corpse. Preta orchestrated the army of bones into moving in the way that was needed. As I fell into a steady pace, Preta quickly presented the corpses to me, and when I felt tired, she slowed down a bit.
“Faster! I’ll finish them all before sunset today!”
Like the flowing wind, we continued our executions.
A total of 1998 corpses.
No matter how immobile or subordinate they were, it wasn’t easy to cut them with a single strike.
“Huff, huff… hoo…!”
I had been thinking about it all along.
‘How can I reach the perfect ending?’
What kind of ending will ensure that Master is completely satisfied?
‘How can a person’s life become complete?’
I wanted to achieve it without a single lie.
So, I came to a conclusion.
‘It isn’t enough for me to be her disciple.’
When Master goes crazy, that’s the bad ending. Definitely a poor result. But, was it really a happy ending with just the [introduction of a disciple]?
Would Master be happy and satisfied with this ending?
[Introduction of a disciple] is by no means a complete ending. It barely satisfied the criterion of an ending.
Even if I declared that it was over with this, the Librarian, the constellation, would probably accept it, and the 22nd floor would be cleared as it is…
But I would never be satisfied.
“Milord, please stay strong! There’s only half of them left now!”
[Shiny cheers for the warrior’s struggle at full power!]
The sun went down.
The sky turned red, and the snowfield was dyed violet.
“Hoo… huff! Hoo…!”
I don’t know how long it took. Seven hours? Eight hours? It should have been about that much. Anyway, I swung my sword without stopping. My clothes were drenched with sweat and bits of corpses that I had cut down.
“The last ten are coming! Milord!”
I looked in front of me. As expected, only 5 members each from the Demonic Cult and the Righteous Sect remained. I took a deep breath and clenched the hilt tightly.
A little more.
“There are five!”
A little bit more.
“Last! This is the last one!”
I smashed the head of a Demonic Cult member in a black uniform. The Jiangshi’s frozen brain shattered like ice. Finally, after cutting down the 1998th Jiangshi, I gave way and my knees fell into the snow.
“Huff, huff…! Huff, hooo…”
“You’ve worked hard, milord! You have done a great amount of work!”
Preta looked like she was ready to jump with joy. It was expected since she had also suffered alongside me for over half the day.
Ever since I collected her as a part of my shadow, Preta had always been brusque. It was the first time I had seen such honest joy coming from her.
“What are you so happy about?”
I asked after my breathing had stabilized. Then, Preta realized that her face had been showing her emotions for a while and quickly returned to her normal cold expression.
“…When I thought of the scene that milord would show, my heart naturally felt full. I haven’t been able to see milord’s master in person, but. I think she will be happy. And not just a simple joy, but… really, greatly.”
I smiled, stretching out in the snow.
“I hope she’ll be pleased.”
The cure was developed.
I was recognized as Master’s disciple.
Finally, I even obtained permission from Bae Hu-ryeong.
It wasn’t easy getting all the way here.
Finally… I was ready to see the ending of this world.
A week had passed.
“Hmm. I feel somewhat empty without the lower abdomen energy.”
For a week, Master and the Murim Lord recuperated. Fortunately, there was no need to find a separate spot for that. The cave here with its open-air bath served as the best vacation resort for recovering.
“Even if I regulate my breath, my energy isn’t piling up. It’s quite uncomfortable not to have chi. Uh-huh, this is the pain of the desperate people who can’t do martial arts…”
“Personally, I’m more comfortable now. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was alive even though I was living! I had to block the takgi every day, make sure my heart was still beating. Oh my, oh my.”
The Murim Lord sighed, sinking further into the hot spring.
“Because I can breathe without thinking, I feel like I’m living a little now! And all this is thanks to the children of the outside world.”
“Y, you did well hanging in there for so long…”
The Alchemist hesitantly ended Master’s examination.
“Today’s treatment is over. Both of you are fine. We could even say that you’re cured. E, even If the Jiangshi were to bite you again, you won’t become infected…”
Master raised her hand and stroked the Alchemist’s head. Flinch. The Alchemist briefly cowered back.
“That old man and I are obliged to you for saving our lives. It’s not easy to help a stranger.”
“Oh, not at all… I only did what was natural…”
“It’s amazing that you think that was something natural. It is even more amazing that you went through and saw it till the end, what you thought was natural. Child. Even at your young age, you are great.”
“Ah. I mean, no, that is…”
The Alchemist couldn’t move as Master continued to pat her head. Although she was very embarrassed, the Alchemist didn’t seem to hate it. They looked like close sisters, and watching them made me feel happy.
But I couldn’t be content with just this.
“Boss. Does this mean it’s all right for both of them to move around now?”
“Ah. Y, yes! Just in case, I had them recuperate for a longer period. Even if they move around and exercise, there won’t be a problem.”
“Master. Murim Lord-nim. Will you walk with me for a little while?”
Master tilted her head.
“I’m delighted that I can get some fresh air with my student… But why would you bring around this old coot? Gongja. Even a pleasant walkway becomes a filthy road if you go with that old man.”
“Well. If it’s a walk with the old demon and the young demon, it’s me who would rather refuse. You dumb cultists can go by yourselves.”
Their reaction was to be expected.
I shook my head quietly.
“Both of you have to come.”
Master and the Murim Lord looked at each other. They seemed to have noticed that I wasn’t suggesting a normal walk. Their expression showed that they didn’t know what it was about but were interested.
“I understand. My disciple must have some secret plans. I don’t want to walk with this old fool, but I’m willing to be tricked by my dull-witted disciple.”
“Well. Since a baby demon plotted it, it’s probably no big deal. I don’t expect much at all.”
We left the cave.
It was cold. Just like it was on the first day we fell into the [Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon], it was still winter.
What was different from that day was that neither Master nor the Murim Lord could use their chi. They wouldn’t be able to use it forever.
With my right hand, I held Master’s hand. With my left, I held the hand of the Murim Lord. That way, I could use Aura to warm them both.
“The two of you had said this. The only regret you have is that you were unable to conclude your battle of good and evil. That it’s unfortunate, but it’s a problem that we who have become the disciples will have to resolve…”
The two leaned against my warmth and crossed the cold winter road.
“But I thought of something else.”
Was it because it was the first time they were going out in a week? Or was it their bodies, which they had to use without their inner energy, that was unfamiliar? The steps of Master and the Murim Lord were a little clumsy.
“The Great Battle of Good and Evil is the ritual between you two. Even if I and Chen Mu-mun master fight, it is just a normal spar; it can never be a great battle. Only a spar between the two of you can be the great battle. It is because it was you two who have held up the Demonic Sect and the Righteous Sect up to now.”
We got to the snowfield.
“Thank you for not giving up for 3 years.”
The place where corpses were once spread like a forest. The forest of silhouettes. Now, this place was nothing more than a clear snowfield.
“Thank you for coming to gather the Jiangshi again every morning. If you had given up, if they had been treated as mere corpses and left to disappear, I would never have been able to recover them.”
The life that you both lost.
The scenery you should enjoy.
To return them, I slowly opened my mouth.
“Hundred Ghosts Reincarnation.”
My shadow spread over the snow.
[Your skill is being activated.]
In the shade, figures rose like snowmen. One, two, many. Some shadows wore black robes. Some shadows had their white sleeves fluttering. They gradually took shape in human forms and looked down at their hands, amazed.
“Disciple, just what…”
However, none of them would be as surprised as Master and the Murim Lord.
“You can think of it as a dream. It’s okay to just look over it, saying that it’s an aftereffect of losing the energy in your lower abdomen. It’s all right to assume that I learned a strange martial art to recall the memories and bodies of the dead for a while and make them the same as before.”
“Master. Murim Lord-nim.”
The Hundred Ghosts Reincarnation was complete.
“The Demonic Cult is not over yet.”
Elite members of the Demonic Cult. 1,000 people.
“War has not yet forgotten chivalry, and chivalry has not forgotten war.”
Elites of the Righteous Sect. 1,000 people.
“The Demonic Cult will not end because of the Jiangshi, and the Righteous Sect too will not be eaten by mere corpses.”
The true Great Battle of Good and Evil.
That was what the two hoped for.
“If the Demonic Cult disappears from the world, it is only by the blade of the Righteous Sect. If the sect is to be destroyed, it must be because of the wicked fingertips of the Demonic Sect.”
“As the master of the Demonic Cult said and as the leader of the Righteous Sect desires.”
Then, I covered my fist with a hand and bowed.
“Fight to be the final master of this world.”
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