My head was in a mess. How could it not be? The Black Yaksha’s seal, the ability to grow stronger through fighting with Yaksha and Rakshasa. The person who held this power in the past had committed a mass slaughtering. That person must have decided to do so because rather than winning a fight, killing would reap more benefits. So strong that person must have been to have even killed a Rakshasa, but that person also died in the end.
‘Among the Rakshasa there are those who have lived for a good several thousand years or so.’
The Twelve Heavenly Generals. There is no way they didn’t know. They had assumed indifference and left me alone, even though they knew I had the Black Yaksha’s seal.
Why? Shouldn’t I be a potential dangerous element? Was it because I had passed the Warrior’s Ritual and the Ritual of Ascension?
Perhaps it is because I am a promising talent not seen for several thousand years. I had no way of knowing, since the specifics of their tradition was unclear to me, but what’s certain is that the moment I spill blood with my hands is the moment an absolutely unavoidable arrow comes flying my way.
‘Jörmungandr might have been able to give a refreshing answer to this.’
Jörmungandr was being quiet. As if she were dead, she didn’t show so much as a twitch from the moment I entered Rakshasa Mountain. She merely curled up her body, further shrunk in size, and hung about my neck like a necklace. The thought did cross my mind that if it’s her, she may know about about this Rakshasa Mountain and Rakshasa Citadel, but I couldn’t even seek a clear answer seeing as she wasn’t moving.
‘Nothing has changed, except that I have to aim higher.’
It was good news as long as I thought positively. In any case, it was the Rakshasa who had brought me into Rakshasa Citadel. They would have killed me long ago if they had that intention. Sparing my life and bringing me in meant that they had some ‘expectation’ of me. It would be fine just as long as I don’t get greedy.
Balance. Everything needed to be balanced. Taking action after becoming drunk on power and blood would only be hastening myself along the road to death.
‘Impatience is a poison that kills one’s self.’
I want becoming stronger. I could feel that I was growing stronger with each passing day. It was a faster rate of growth than I had anticipated, in fact.
Further impatience at this point? Eating too fast would only result in a sore stomach. Just like how, in the past, I had developed faster than anyone after obtaining the Magic Swordsman class…but got into the wrong habits, became convinced it was impossible to reach the ‘apex’, and decided on my own limit.
I calmly sat down and began meditating. Clearing away the noise in my head, I reviewed today’s fight, because now was the time to think only about myself growing stronger.
The Yaksha who had the Black Yaksha’s seal learnt the Hundred-step Ghost Fist!
The rumour had spread in a matter of moments. Talk of the black seal shining was exaggerated and falsified to the point that there was now stories going around that ‘you’ll be cursed if you get touched’.
“Mubaek. Did you hear? They say it’s the Hundred-step Ghost Fist.”
I am one of the Five Dragons, War Dragon Mubaek. I had an entire huge palace to myself, and I was the junior head of the prestigious ‘Warring Mountain Folk clan’. I had gathered 99 Yaksha into the same group and it was widely rumoured that in terms of pure martial prowess I was the strongest among the Yaksha participating in the tournament.
In front of me was a Yaksha with orange hair who was laughing playfully.
“I believe I have told you that this isn’t your living room at home, Honjae Yeon.”
“Between us there’s nothing wrong with coming over to play, why be so stingy?”
Sword Dragon Honjae Yeon! A Yaksha crazy for the sword. He was also one among the Five Dragon.
“Anyhow wasn’t Sleeping Dragon Garam Ju the only one who’d learnt Hundred-step Ghost Fist? I’d never dreamed someone else apart from that monstrous fellow would learn Hundred-step Ghost Fist.”
“You say that but aren’t you a monster yourself. A monster of the sword.”
Honjae Yeon grinned. He didn’t seem to deny it in particular.
“Mubaek. That guy, is it fine for me to take him?”
“Have you come here just to say that?”
“You gotta understand. I want to fight with you in the tournament after all. There’s nothing to gain from us clashing in this kind of place, no?”
“If that’s the case then don’t worry. It’s something not of my concern.”
I turned my head away, and at that Honjae Yeon’s smile grew deeper.
“Sleeping Dragon should be sleeping on a roof again, and Dark Dragon shouldn’t be interested in anything apart from his own training, so the only one left is Crimson Dragon Hwarin Gu.”
“Nothing good will come of getting involved with the Black Yaksha, Honjae Yeon.”
“Why? Isn’t it fun? He killed one of those who seemed almost immortal, the Twelve Heavenly Generals. Ilcheon(Heavenly Day). The Yaksha named after none other than the Sun God!”
I could even feel insanity from his gaze. I didn’t reply at all, instead turning my head to signal to the surrounding Yaksha with my eyes, ‘the words you have heard here, forget them’, because the words he had spoken were blasphemous here in Rakshasa Citadale.
“Back at my clan, I’m also praised as a talent born once in ten thousand years or whatnot, but aren’t you curious? About who would be the one to win, if the guy who killed a Rakshasa and I were to fight.”
“Didn’t you say you were going to bring him in? Also, he is not the originator of that story made tradition.”
“I know. That’s why I mean to raise him up under my wings myself. If tradition is telling the truth then that guy will definitely end up craving for blood anyhow. That’s when, snikt!”
Honjae Yon made a motion of slitting his throat. Even among the Five Dragons, Sword Dragon Honjae Yon was truly insane. Maybe it was because he was crazy for the sword, but it seemed that he was nutters in other aspects as well.
‘Getting involved will be wearisome.’
I shook my head. It wasn’t right to stick my head into these kinds of matters. I knew from past experience that I would stand to gain by simply observing.
In the past I was the target of countless scoutings. Every nation held their hands out to me in hopes of recruiting me, who was powerful and a hero. There was a nation offering me their biggest city, and there were even some who said they would receive me as their king. Simply put, there were many who went frantic, saving no effort in order to recruit me. But an absurd scouting like this was a first.
“Crimson Dragon Hwarin Gu-nim wants you. Consider it an honor.”
It was when I was struggling against a rank 1 white monkey. Out of the blues, a certain muscular Yakshi had approached me to say something.
Crimson Dragon Hwarin Gu. I also knew that she was one of the Five Dragons. So this meant that she had elected me to be recruited into her group, but…
“Let her know to come in person if she has something to say.”
To recruit someone, it was only natural for the person with intention to recruit to personally come and negotiate. Few people, if told in this manner to ‘come here!’, would reply ‘Yes, gladly’.
I didn’t want to belong anywhere in particular either, because the closer I became to the Yaksha, the more likely for them to realize I was different from them. More than anything, I preferred being alone.
‘It is surprising though.’
I had expected them to only fear and be vigilant against me. The Black Yaksha’s seal. Proof of a predator. It wasn’t strange for hostilities to arise from this. As a matter of fact, the most of the Yaksha had stared at me strangely when I had entered the sparring hall. But to think I’d be scouted. Did that signify how important victory was in the Stigma Tournament?
Hearing my words, the Yakshi’s expression became even fiercer.
“Does your master have no feet? Or is she perhaps mute? If it happens that her body is crippled to the point that each and every matter need be taken care of by others, then I would apologise.”
“Recklessly talking drivel however you want.”
“A warrior wouldn’t stoop to low methods like pressuring the few with many. Neither would a Yaksha knowing the dignity of a warrior send another in their place to deliver a message.”
All Yaksha possessed self-esteem as a Yaksha. The Yakshi shut her mouth when I touched upon that part. I wondered whether I’d gone too far, but it was better than showing an ambiguous attitude. I had done some studying of my own on the physiology of the Yaksha during the past twenty or so days. They wouldn’t treat someone appearing weak as their equal.
“It’s fine. I’ll do it.”
And then Hwarin Gu, who was watching from afar, personally made to move. It was an obvious result, seeing as how I’d bluntly said ‘you’re not a warrior if you don’t come yourself’. I admit that I had purposely said it in part so she could hear it.
“Good. Maybe because you’re a Black Yaksha, but even your words contain thorns. I truly hope that your skills are as strong as your words. That’s why join my…”
“I have no intention of joining anybody’s group.”
“I don’t like it when someone interrupts me speaking. You’d better take clear note of that.”
Hwarin Gu’s expression didn’t look all that good. Hwarin Gu was just like a thorny rose. If she’s going to thrust those thorns at me, I’m going to dodge. Fighting together means being able to entrust their backs to one another. There was no point joining if I wasn’t considered an equal.
“I don’t like having to speak twice either, but this time I’ll specially say it. Join my group. I can promise you a suitable position if we win in the Stigma Tournament.”
“Ohh, that sounds good. Then I’ll promise as well. Join my group and I’ll offer you two drops of Skylight Stonemilk, and I’ll let you be my immediate right hand man. How about it?”
It was at that moment that a Yaksha suddenly approached my side. A handsome youth with orange hair. Sword Dragon, Honjae Yeon!
Hwarin Gu frowned upon seeing him.
“Ah, you don’t like it when people butt-in the middle of conversations, right? Sorry. I could just stand by and watch him being taken away, you see. Let’s see. You were called Hansung Oh, was it?”
Haa. I breathed out a small sigh. I never expected this kind of occurrence. Although I hadn’t hidden that I was learning the Hundred-step Ghost Fist in the first place, I had thought that none would try approaching me after seeing the Black Yaksha’s seal shine with light. That way was more convenient for me as well, so I didn’t think it was bad. Unexpectedly I encountered an ambush, however. By two people at that as well.
‘I have no time to be doing this.’
A mere half a month remained until that so-called Stigma Tournament would happen. My goal was to fully utilize the time before that. I never had an iota of interest in the tournament, to begin with.
Showing a blatantly wicked smile, Sword Dragon Honjae Yeon spoke.
“Hansung Oh. If two drops of Skylight Stonemilk aren’t enough, then I’ll also give you a single root of a He Shou Wu cultivated for a thousand years. Elixirs like these will be hard to find even for other clans.”
“Just what do you mean by this, Honjae Yeon?”
“Aren’t I courting him? So that he’ll join my group. That’s why…huh?”
Honjae Yeon suddenly turned his head. With a 2 second delay, Hwarin Gu also turned her gaze toward the sky.
Jörmungandr spoke for the first time since entering Rakshasa Mountain.
At the same time, a ‘hole’ opened up in the sky.
“What’s that? A great preta?”
“The great barrier…has been broken through?”
Honjae Yeon and Hwarin Gu were astonished. Great pretas were raining down from the skies. The rifts between the levels had been broken through. The other Yaksha were wide-eyed as well. They did nothing but stare until Hwacheon, one of the Twelve Heavenly Generals, appeared.
“Everybody prepare for battle!”
“Hwa, Hwacheon-nim! Just what is going on?”
As one Yaksha asked, Hwacheon shook his head.
“I do not know. Something has forcefully torn apart Daerasun-nim’s barrier and entered. They have the appearance of great pretas, but they are not great pretas!”
Other Rakshasa like him also made their appearances. They fended off the great pretas falling from the skies, but their numbers were far too many.
The sizes of the great pretas were varied. The smallest was at 20m, and the big ones went over 50m. A great preta with a foul appearance closely resembling a small preta, except bigger, was running towards the sparring hall like mad.
Hwacheon lifted his spear. Flames bursted out from the spear and instantly beheaded the great preta. But its head regenerated in moments. It then ignored Hwacheon and began consuming the other Yaksha.
A huge pair of fiery wings burst out from Hwacheon’s body.
He flew up and began thrusting his spear at the great preta. The earth trembled each time the spear struck. The attack was so violence that even the great preta’s regenerative ability couldn’t keep up with it. Truly worthy of being called Rakshasa.
The great preta, unable to regenerate due to being entirely burned, lay defeated on the ground. And then a part of the great preta’s chest opened, as a black shadow person wearing a silver knight helm came staggering out.
Its height was merely reached about 1m. Its body was pitch-black like shadow. Hwacheon kicked off the ground, instantly closing the distance as he pierced the black shadow person with his spear.
Simultaneously, the black shadow person left behind only the helm and simply disappeared as if into thin air. And then Hwacheon turned his head and shouted.
“The black shadow person which I killed just now is the true body controlling the great pretas! They are hidden in the head or chest of a great preta, so everyone bear this in mind and prepare!”
Hwacheon left behind those words before quickly moving. His role seemed to be dealing with the great pretas that had landed here and there.
“Things are turning interesting. Breaking through the barrier laid down by sir Daerasun? Just what are these guys?”
“Honjae Yeon. This is no time to joke. Right now we have to gather our strength.”
Sword Dragon and Crimson Dragon struck an alliance. All of the nearby Yaksha began to gather with these two as the center. And…I was in the middle of feeling astonishment for another reason. The black shadow people. I know these things.
They were definitely dark merchants. However, how? How did the dark merchants, who should be within the abyss, break a hole through Rakshasa Citadale’s barrier, and appear here as they controlled great pretas?