Skills and movements like that…it was worse than even the weakest of the Yaksha here. I had some expectations hearing that he had passed the Ritual of Ascension, but it was mere rumours after all.
‘The story about him being a Black Yaksha must be exaggerated too.’
I was certain, that the fearful stories of ancient times passed down regarding the ‘Black Yaksha’ were in fact a fabrication to raise the vigilance of other Yaksha. Instead, I poured all of my attention to a certain woman.
A gigantic beast roared. The Monkey King, who solely held the title of ‘king’ among all the other white monkeys in the sparring hall. The earth shook up and down and everyone held their breaths. Before the beast quietly stood a woman with beautiful indigo hair.
“As expected of the junior head of the Heaven Bound clan. Unaffected even before the monkey king.”
“The generations of the Heaven Bound clan has declined much compared to the old days, but she not called the ‘last pride of Heaven Bound’ for nothing.”
“How beautiful. Beautiful!”
The majority of Yaksha within the sparring hall had stopped their actions and focused their attention on her. Yuseol. She was among the Yaksha counted on one hand who had just finished the Warrior’s Ritual and could face off with the monkey king. Her Divine Spirit True Fist was, how to put it, restrained yet beautiful. Her movements themselves contained dignity; extremely fast and powerful, and appearing hard yet soft.
The monkey king launched a fist as if to pay back his grievances until now. It was a wild and crude fist. Simply stretching it out caused a huge wind-pressure. It wouldn’t be strange to get pulverized if struck by that fist. Yuseol parried that fist at an angle. She naturally averted the overwhelming difference in strength, and then spun her body on the spot to strike the monkey king’s arm. The monkey king’s gigantic arm was bent in an instant. She had accurately targeted the joint.
The screaming monkey king spread his arms and attempted to size Yuseol. But Yuseol’s movements were like flowing water; a quietly flowing wave that couldn’t be caught, passing through the openings.
“Growing stronger by the day. Her Shifting Blossom is at a high level.”
“Would they be called for show? Even among them the Dark Dragon is number one!”
“Nah, not as good as Mubaek no matter how you look at it. In front of War Dragon, even Dark Dragon will have to think twice!”
“Well, in any case the winner of this time’s tournament should be one of them. I hear sir Daerasun will be giving a reward personally. There are wide-spread rumours that he will give a dragon and a soul shield.”
They argued back and forth, while in the meantime, Yuseol’s fist once again made contact with the monkey king’s chest.
A short powerful sound. Unlike the other day, the monkey king didn’t roll over the floor or get blown away. Instead…
He fell over, appearing to have fainted. The small white monkeys swarmed over, slapping his cheeks or pulling up his closed eyelids, and then fifteen or so of the white monkeys lifted him up using both hands and began moving somewhere.
“That’s settled then.”
“It’ll have to be at least a monkey emperor, not a monkey king, in order to face the Five Dragons.”
“Really now, no matter how you look at it a monkey emperor is…”
Yuseol dusted off her fist once and began to move leisurely, and then several small white monkeys carried over a long large umbrella, with an indigo dragon drawn on it, to cover her. Yuseol left the sparring hall with long steps, and Hwarin Gu, who was watching her, narrowed her eyes.
“Look at her acting proud.”
“Even though Hwarin-agassi is stronger.”
“Hmph, the Sanguinary Demon Sword is way stronger than the Divine Spirit True Fist. Making such a fuss about beating the monkey king!”
When the sparring ended, the Yakshi near me began chattering. But my expression didn’t change. Though I didn’t want to admit it, it couldn’t be helped that all the Yaksha paid close attention the Yuseol’s movements, as if entranced. Even I was no exception. I knew as well that what they said to me were empty words. While I did make myself known as the ‘Crimson Dragon’, one of the ‘Five Dragon’s, I knew that the credit was all due to my oppa Hwarang Gu, chief of the Flame Lotus Division. My strength was at the lowest even among the Five Dragons, and I wasn’t capable of taking down the monkey king is such a cool way.
‘When the Stigma Tournament begins…at that time for sure.’
My eyes were lit with flames. It’s merely the beginning. I was strong when it came to actual action. I was confident that I wouldn’t lose in a showdown with my life on the line. Slightly turning my head, I saw the Yaksha, who had nothing but rumours going for him, getting beaten up by a rank 3 white monkey as usual.
“Haha! Still with the slapstick routine as usual.”
“He won’t even be able to land a hit at that rate.”
“Is that really the Hundred-step Ghost Fist?
It would be a lie if I said I had no expectations for him. But having seen him in real life, it was nothing but pathetic. I was considering whether to recruit him into my own group, if he had shown a pretty good performance, however…
Reality was the total opposite; failing to meet expectations. I completely pushed him out of my mind. A Yaksha like that entering my group would do nothing but drag me down.
Hundred-step Ghost Fist. It wasn’t about striking with the fist. It was about stretching out the fist and exploding the mana. Only then, being capable of instantly destroying rock from a hundred steps away, could it be called Hundred-step Ghost Fist. There was no other reason for me choosing the Hundred-step Ghost Fist. It was because I was rather confident when it came to the fine control of mana. The infinitely circulating helical mana enabled a fine control incomparable to any other. But theory and actual practise was different.
‘I’ll end up dying if it’s like this every day.’
The last time I got struck on the chin and fainted. My brain shook for an instant from the accurate blow. I was in the treatment room when I opened my eyes again.
‘I can’t be daunted at the first step.’
I had only taken the first of steps, however. There was no need to be disappointed so early. Leaving the treatment room, I headed toward the room I was allocated. It was the room which a white monkey had guided me to after Hwarang Gu had went off. It was quite spacious, about 1780 square feet wide. The interior was bare-bones, but it was fine as long as I could lie down with comfort.
‘There are still many superfluous parts in my movements.’
My body was stiff. Its reaction was slow too. I was feeling the severity of it.
As I took out the Jewel of Space and called Etaqua’s name, he appeared before with a small flash of light. The room was closed on all four sides, and the only entry was the door in the front. It was built in a way hard to spy in on, so I could unhesitantly take out Etaqua.
He was healthy. Vigorous to the point it was unthinkable that he had collapsed after climbed 500,000 stairs. I had obtained the ‘Ascendant’s Cape’ from that place, but after Etaqua climbed those stairs he had broken through his limits and received a reward as well.
‘He obtained an elixir, and ate it.’
Even I didn’t know what an elixir was. I had thought it was something similar to miracle elixirs, but it was only after confirming his status with Mind’s Eye did I know.
Name: Etaqua (Value – 264,300)
Race: White Dragon
🌑 Cry of the Storm (Lv9, Agi +15)
Has inherited the Blessing of the Sage, Cry of the Vast Storm.
Has formed a powerful bond of trust with the user.
Has consumed an elixir.
His stats had increased overall, but there was a part that was subtly changed. It was the growth potential of magic power. Although it only ended at changing from C to B, but better than nothing. His potential had slightly increased as well. By 2.
But I was amazed. Etaqua’s potential was already at 485, a tremendously high range. It virtually meant that there was no more room to grow. Even in this place, apart from ‘Wolcheon’ who was one of the Twelve Heavenly Generals, there was none who possessed higher potential than Etaqua. It went without saying that the higher the stat, the harder it was to increase. And yet at 485, almost near the peak, a whole 2 increased. None of the miracle elixirs I had consumed in the past had ever caused a change of that level. It meant that if an individual with low potential had eaten it, about 10~20 should have risen.
I passed over a few large plates of food. They were already in the room thanks to having asked the white monkeys earlier. Of course, what could be called food here were mostly things like grass, fruits and extremely small amounts of meat. The food was cooked as little as possible thus retaining natural flavors, which was a plus, but it wasn’t able to completely fill Etaqua’s stomach.
Etaqua, having emptied the plates in moments, smacked his lips with regret. He was 2m tall when I first saw him, but now he almost reached 3m. He had grown 1m during this time. It would become impossible to hide him if he continued to grow at this rate.
“You need to eat a little less.”
Etaqua’s tail sagged. Well I admit it is a bit too much to chide him over food. After hiding Etaqua once again, I called for the white monkeys and asked for more food. The monkey whites were wide-eyed at my abnormal appetite. Following that, it was only after the gnoll warriors had eaten as well that I could move on to the next stage.
‘I have to release mana and then detonate it.’
I brought over a huge basin of water, and then assumed the horse stance. With my legs spread wide out, I thrusted a fist toward the water in the basin.
The water overflowed. The water mustn’t overflow in order to make the Hundred-step Ghost Fist possible. Only when the water is still and the basin is punctured will the starting point of the Hundred-step Ghost Fist be a success.
‘How to puncture the basin by striking the water?’
The instant I strike the water, it is inevitable that the repelling force causes the water to heavily rise. It was impossible to only puncture the basin’s bottom part by quietly pouring in mana. No matter how I thrust my fist, over and over, the result was the same. In mere moments, the surrounding was drenched in water.
Etaqua, who was playing with the gnoll warriors and pretending to eat them, stared at me attentively. No doubt he wondered, ‘what is up with the guy’, seeing as how I spent a quarter of the day striking at water.
“You want to try as well?”
Etaqua nodded his head. When I handed over the basin full of water to him, Etaqua whipped down his tail.
Naturally, water overflowed.
“The water mustn’t overflow. You have to compress mana and puncture the bottom of the basin.”
Truly, a watery disaster. Etaqua tilted his head in confusion. Looks like my troubles were conveyed to him. He then erected his tail in a straight line, pointed it toward the basin and plunged it in just like that, making a loud ‘crash!’ noise and causing a vortex in the water. At the same time, the bottom of the basin was punctured.
“…Although that’s not quite it, similar.”
Etaqua held his head high, as if asking for more praise. Holding up the punctured basin, I stared blankly.
‘A single point. Moving the center of gravity and in that very instant before striking, like a loaded spring…the answer lay in rotation, not detonation.’
It was only for a moment, but the mana which Etaqua concentrated in his tail had rotated crazily. That’s where the answer lay. Circulation. It turns out that the Hundred-step Ghost Fist was a product of circulation as well. Though it did bother me that the question which had been troubling me over the past few days was resolved in an instant by Etaqua, it wasn’t a bad thing.
The rascal tilted his head. I became convinced. There were plenty more times where teaching another and learning with certainty was helpful rather than learning and acting alone. What’s more, together with Etaqua, I would be able to more easily grasp the parts which I overlooked or don’t know about. Lightly smiling, I opened my mouth to say,
“Let’s learn it together. Hundred-step Ghost Fist.”
For three days straight I went to the sparring hall.
“No doubt he’ll faint and be carried out again.”
“Doesn’t he get sick of it?”
I had challenged three times, and fainted at three times so I had to be carried off to the treatment room. Rank 3 white monkey…a monkey with a slightly smaller size than me was cackling with mocking laughter. I quietly assumed a stance.
The white monkey then began moving. It leaped about 5m into the air, and hid its body using the sunlight. This was a method of attacking in the moment when the opponent closed or squinted their eyes. I had already experienced this numerous times. I altogether closed my eyes, and then gathering everything into a single point, I launched a fist. The white monkey flapped the wings on its back and dodged the fist, but the Hundred-step Ghost Fist wasn’t a ‘striking’ technique in the first place. The Hundred-step Ghost Fist was a technique which pulverized an opponent a hundred steps distance away without even touching.
A short and heavy sound. Simultaneously, the white monkey tumbled about the ground.
Gibber! Gibgib! Screech!
The rank 3 white monkey let out groans of pain. Seeing that, I calmly nodded my head.
Only after a four long days did I learn the basics of the Hundred-step Ghost Fist.