The Journey of Lightning Dragon (雷龍出道)
An old man in his imposing furry coat said, smiling.
“Gyojun! What is it like? Get up!”
“Yes! sect lord!”
As soon as Gyojun heard the words, he stood up, strengthening his whole body.
‘The man standing at the front must be a top class martial artist of Two Sects Four Clans (雙門四家), who is dominating Luoyang (洛阳). And the six experts, who are behind him, are the elders of the sect, and the ones behind the elders are the department captains (當主) who are in charge of each department of the sect.’
Judging by their deeds and numbers, their abilities would not be much different from the Nine Factions & Gaibang (九派一幇). I swallowed my saliva without realizing it, and the sect lord said, “Are you Baek Woong? I think your business is not yet done.”
After a second or two, I was carefully reflecting his words and chewed over.
‘Why does the sect lord appear now and say something like that? Of course, there must be some ulterior motive.’
I rolled my eyes around and replied.
“No, my work is done. As I wished, I have finished my victory.”
My finger was pointing at the broken blade of Gyojun. At the sight of the blade stuck in the wall, Gyojun’s face blushed and blinked for shame. I intended to step back quickly, claiming that the contest has been settled on this occasion.
‘It’s a good thing I dropped Gyojun out quickly. If I kept waiting for them to come, I would have to compete against one of them.’
I felt this would work, although it was a bit far-fetched.
Originally, in martial-arts contest (比武), the winner takes the priority to decide what to do next.
On top of that, there was a calculation that the sect lord would not kill me because he was a renowned martial artist in the world.
Then, the sect lord folded his arms and kept silent. He suddenly looked at Gyojun and said.
“Hey, Gyojun! Did you lose?”
Gyojun looked down shamefully and shook his head.
“Okay, well done. I’m glad you didn’t die.”
“Then, Baek Woong, get ready for the next contest.”
What is he talking about?
I was embarrassed that the sect lord called me like a friend and pushed me for the next one. It was as if he would not allow a handful of counter-argument. I protested, of course, as I had nothing to gain from trying more on this occasion.
“What do you mean? Now it’s over, and I’ll get out of the Iron Blood Sect.”
The sect lord smiled. His mouth was laughing, but his eyes were unchanged.
“Huh … What are you talking about? If so, repay the debt immediately.”
At that time, he looked around the large martial-arts contest hall. He stroked the wooden floor and walls that had burst out everywhere.
“You destroyed this whole thing with your lion roaring (獅子吼) from your Neigong, didn’t you? Give them all back.”
“Now, it means that we are seeking compensation from you, Baek Woong. Don’t you understand?”
I nearly let go of my sword because I was devastated.
Although the building was destroyed a little by my lion roaring, it was a loss in the process of the contest, so why should I pay for it? I tried to protest right away but hundreds of eyes were glued to me at the moment.
This place is a remote location of the enemy, and hundreds of warriors gathered here are ready to storm to put knives in my
neck. Although Iron Blood Sect is categorized as the side of Righteous Factions (正派), they are basically martial artists living in the sword and they need just a quick moment to kill me and bury. The sect lord will never try to receive reimbursement for money. I am not such a shitty twit who does not notice that much.
When I swallowed hard, he said.
“I cannot afford you to win and run away, because this is the Iron Blood Sect.”
“What a load of crap…”
“You have to fight at least two more times, and I promise you, “if you win both times, you don’t have to make any payments.”
“What if I refuse?”
“What a nerve!”
A cruel smile played about his mouth.
“If you run away from here, if you want to play with the Iron Blood Sect, it will be okay! We will make a pleasant trip searching for you in Murim.”
There is no choice.
I may be able to flee here with the power of my Neigong, but I don’t know how much I’ll be injured. Not only the sect lord but also the elders are close to the top of Murim. If I am lucky enough to escape, I will be fighting for the rest of my life with those who will follow me. Moreover, there is no such physical strength and composure left now.
‘Damn it … shit …!’
I was aware of what his intention was.
[I don’t accept your win and run.]
He came to fix up the game somehow, winning the contest with a triumph of the Iron Blood Sect. Many of the previous challengers might have succeed in knocking over one or two warriors of the sect, but they must have been beaten after a series of counter strikes. This sect has kept its honor in this way from the beginning.
Maybe it’s better to be beaten up here and then bounce off. But now two high-class experts are going to come out by turn and will definitely try to maim or kill me. Either way, it is a continuation of the choice in a tricky situation, and it makes me perplexed.
I thought I had looked down on the Murim too much, including the Iron Blood Sect. At this point, if this were the novel of Murim, the sect lord would be so moved that he would let me go because of my martial arts and courage in admiration of my bravery and ambition. He may want to drink with and add me to his sect.
The reality, however, is this.
I am nothing more than a strong ronin (浪人), and a mere object to clean up after. And to protect the honor of Iron Blood Sect, they will not hesitate to kill me. It is the Murim that is the best place to play dirty and kill anyone else for its sake.
‘Anyway, am I going to die?’
I guess I have no choice.
Whether to die while running away or die in the contest.
‘Then let’s hang it on my arm.’
I said at the peril of my death.
“All right. But I have a favor to ask of you.”
“Give me some weapons. One good spear and one good sword.”
The disciples were sulking and buzzing. It seemed odd that I came all this way and looked for weapons now. There’s a phase of life, but I looked like usual and ordinary under such circumstance. The eyes of the sect lord were smiling as I experienced uncomfortable about
about the situation.
“You are such a funny fellow. Is it true that you don’t belong to any faction?”
“Why do you keep asking? I have no faction.”
“It’s amazing… amazing. It would be very difficult for even three extraordinary masters of the Righteous Factions to bring up a character like you.”
He looked around and shouted, “Hey! Bring a spear and a sword.”
His order seemed to be absolute at this place. As soon as the order was given, some of the disciples rushed to get a spear and a sword as I asked.
He handed me two weapons and said.
“Is this enough?”
The spear was so good that there was not much to blame. I did not have anything to say in conscience because he has brought high quality weapons to me.
After a while he struck his fingers.
“The chief elder, come forward for the contest.”
“Yes, sect lord.”
The man called the chief elder came forward, and he was so short that he looked a little shorter than I was. He looked giddy when he drew a long-sword that was too long to fit his height.
“I am Zhenping, the chief elder of Iron Blood Sect. Let’s play a good match, Baek Woong.”
I couldn’t tell how strong Zhenping was. I could not figure out the level of his martial arts with my perspective. What I could feel was simply the strength of his Neigong, and it was hard to estimate the amount of Neigong accurately.
‘Damn it. Am I dying here?’
I was in agony and all sorts of miscellaneous thoughts popped up, but I thought I could not die on this occasion. I asked Zhenping with my sword drawn.
“I do not know your dignity because I come from the small village. Do you have a reputation comparable to an elder of Huashan Faction (華山派)?”
Zhenping looked surprised and the people next to him were also embarrassed. It was not only an excuse to ask for such a direct question to the martial artist but also an embarrassing question to answer. When Zhenping was hesitant, the sect lord next to him laughed.
“Ha! ha! ha! … what a nerve. I’ll answer that question. In my opinion, the skills of the chief elder are equivalent to those of an elder of Nine Factions & Gaibang (九派一幇)! If it is Huashan Faction (華山派), both will die together, and if it is Zhongnan Faction (終南派), Zhenping is a step ahead.”
Then, Zhenping glanced at the sect lord. He looked a little flushed, genuinely embarrassed.
“Sect lord, my face is so bejeweled.”
“Well, it’s true. Who can say anything about that?”
“… Thank you.”
“Now, focus on the confrontation.”
The two were talking about something, but I felt burning.
The level of an elder of Nine Factions & Gaibang!
He must be a man of the Extreme. Though he is one of the most influential figures in the world, I will do my best.
I took a moment to think over the spear and put it on the floor. I held a deep breath and took a proper stance on Lightning Spirit Swordsmanship (雷靈劍法).
‘Let’s quit the Lightning Spirit Eight Spearmanship (雷靈八式). I will fight with the familiar Lightning Spirit Swordsmanship.’
It is certain that Lightning Spirit Eight Spearmanship is far stronger than Lightning Spirit Swordsmanship. Lightning Spirit Eight Spearmanship at the extreme of the technique is not only capable of conjugating offence and defense but also much more useful than the Lightning Spirit Swordsmanship.
So I tried to train it constantly, but Lightning Spirit Swordsmanship seemed to
seemed to be more suitable for me. I have been fighting for the past years with the sword as my main weapon, so I cannot fight now with the Lightning Spirit Eight Spearmanship.
There was only one idea in my head.
All I need is Luck!
I said, taking aim at him with my sword.
“Zhenping, since I am a young man, let me attack you first.”
“… I am going to do that, but I’ve never seen such a man who says directly.”
It was he who spoke with astonishment, but I punished him with neglect.
My body flied at him. As if the ship was moving faster than usual, the front of the eyes was shaking violently and the ways of the sword like the remnant of light were embroidered in the air. In the eyes of the general public, the speed was so obvious that it could only be seen that the wind was moving.
Zhenping swung the giant sword with one hand in a leisurely manner to prevent my first attack.
However, he prevented it easily and his body shook a little. He seemed to have used the Footwork (步法) to avoid it. There was a definite difference from Gyojun who was flown away by a blow.
The tip of his sword shook like a snake, and I did not know the identity of the martial arts form he was trying to spread. But it would be dangerous if left alone. So I kept cutting down his top as if I were brandishing a club with a powerful sword. While he was shedding my attack by a mixture of swordsmanship, his eyes flashed for an instant.
I stepped back, biting my lip with the pain of my shoulder being torn out, and I could not avoid it because the sword had accelerated so fast as a snake. I responded at the moment to avoid fatal injuries, but his tactics did not end there and he was slashing my neck.
I walked around, and rolled back and forth. It was easy to be ridiculed as being a coward, but it was good to save my life. On the way I stood up with my knees flinging back to my feet, and again I started unfolding the forms of Lightning Spirit Swordsmanship (雷靈劍法), but this time he easily shed my sword.
Zhenping opened his mouth as he entered the lull for a while.
“That’s a great deal of Neigong. The sword is at a humble level, but it is difficult to complete this contest easily because of your Neigong.”
“You don’t have to make fun of me.”
He seemed to admire my Neigong purely.
“As I have heard, it would not be possible to foster such a Neigong even if they cultivated Neigong by the excellent Cultivation Method (心法) in the prestigious faction for more than half a century … How did you get that Neigong?”
I didn’t answer.
The current confrontation could be described as internal Neigong match. My swordsmanship could not follow the heel of Zhenping, but the defense, attack power, and agility that were assisted by the Neigong were so high that I could fight for my sake. Nevertheless, his attacks were all about the murdering skills, and I would die immediately if I allowed a valid shot once.
I had no choice but to feel that the level difference was enormous. I never considered that I would be able to compete his delicate, powerful swordsmanship with my Neigong. It was a proof that a proof that the state of Zhenping in front of my eyes was at its zenith of Extreme (絕頂).
“Well, let’s try this.”
The sound of flame rising.
He mumbled, and suddenly a raging fire broke out on his sword. In reality, the condensed energy was so intense that it became visible to the human eye. I knew what it was, so I muttered something in low voice.
“Sword Qi (劍氣)!”
It is not the degree to cause only the wind of the blade, but the dream that whatever the sword is, it becomes like an excellent, fine sword in the world, and automatically reaches the state of the Unification of Body & Sword (身劍合一). It is the peak of the Weapon Technique (武器術), and the Sword Qi I had seen in the meantime was only the one of the Jin So Chung and the captain of the assassins of Black Night Faction. The scary thing about the Sword Qi is that it has the quality of penetrating the defense force and it can blow up the enemy body at the right moment.
But the one of Jin So Chung and the captain of the assassins of Black Night Faction was not so flamboyant but clean, blade-shaped. I couldn’t help but question it.
“What’s wrong with your sword? The others were blade-shaped.”
He twisted his eyebrows and answered my question with the tone of the underworld.
“It means I’m stronger than them. The stronger the sword is, the more likely it is to go through the stage of Sword Inflammation (劍炎) and reach the Sword Aura (劍罡).”
That’s what we call Sword Inflammation.
I wondered why Jin So Chung didn’t teach me that. And I concluded that he just wouldn’t let me know because he had a confidence I couldn’t reach such a state as Sword Qi or Sword Inflammation. It would be normal to think that I could not use such a sword in my life.
‘Is this the end …?’
I asked him with an unyielding spirit.
“If I win, who’s next?”
“That’s not going to happen.”
It’s too firm. But I screamed my head off.
“Tell me though.”
“The sect lord will deal with you.”
“How strong is he than you?”
“You are really curious about what is useless. At Luoyang, it is only the lord of Huashan Faction (華山派) or the lord of Tai Sword Sect (太劍門) is able to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sect lord. Don’t dare compare like that.”
He answered everything, but in return I provoked the wrath of Zhenping.
He spoke firmly, and this time he first came at me. It was exactly three hundred and fifty moves when the contest was over.
There were blade marks all over the place, and the martial-arts contest hall was broken into pieces as if it had been hit by explosives. I staggered with my long-sword in my hand, but I was going to lose consciousness.
I resisted with all my might, but I was no match for him. Although I had a great deal of Neigong, Zhenping could withstand my attacks as he had at least sixty years’ Neigong as an Extreme (絕頂) martial artist. Moreover, he threw my attacks back when he used the Sword Inflammation.
“I wouldn’t have been a match for you, if you’d spent ten years wielding up your sword.”
I felt a sense of unpleasant foreign body for a moment, and then my eyes leaped into the ceiling. The ceiling of the martial-arts contest hall came into sight against my will.
This was my third death.