Two men stood in a tall tree overlooking the swamp.
One was a man with an ordinary face, while the other had a striking dark-colored skin.
They were Jang Mugeuk and Dok Gohyang respectively.
Jang Mugeuk had his eyebrows furrowed as he watched Pyo-wol deal with the Black Cloud Corps.
Pyo-wol’s martial arts were beyond common sense. Jang Mugeuk had never seen anyone else who could perform martial arts similar to Pyo-wol’s.
He had never thought of manifesting his qi as thin as threads and wielding them with daggers.
Furthermore, there were ten strands of qi.
There were so many martial artists who struggled just to draw out qi, but Pyo-wol effortlessly uses an even more advanced technique than that.
“But there’s still clearly a limit to his skill.”
“His martial arts are designed for assassinations.”
“Exactly. While his martial arts is perfect for assassination, it’s useless against a real warrior.”
Jang Mugeuk spoke flatly.
Dok Gohyang did not find Jang Mugeuk’s statement surprising.
Although Pyo-wol’s Soul-Reaping Thread was certainly an innovative martial art that went beyond common sense, it still had quite a few weaknesses.
If Pyo-wol used it while launching a surprise attack, he could cover and take advantage of its weaknesses. However, if he encountered a martial artist who had already reached a level where surprise attacks no longer worked, he was likely to suffer a defeat.
Jang Mugeuk was one of those martial artists.
Although he was not well-known to the public due to his lack of activity, his actual martial arts skills were nothing short of extraordinary.
Likewise, Dok Gohyang also saw at least a couple of ways to counter the Soul-Reaping Thread that Pyo-wol was currently displaying. However, he didn’t bother mentioning this fact.
“Anyway, he still could be a useful weapon if used properly, right?”
“Yes. He could definitely be useful.”
Jang Mugeuk nodded.
Not only was Pyo-wol’s martial art strange, but his boldness and mindset were also unusual.
He chose the battlefield that was most advantageous to him and lured his enemies into it.
This meant that he knew how to use the terrain to his advantage.
Although Jang Mugeuk had several hidden weapons, there was no one as clever as Pyo-wol.
“My only concern is whether or not I can control him. A sword that cannot be controlled is better off being discarded.”
“He’s still human. There’s no reason why we can’t control him. We just have to give him more than what he’s used to. And if a beautiful woman and wealth is not enough to control him, then we’ll just have to resort to using forceful methods.”
“Do you really like him that much?”
“I’ve liked him since the moment I first saw him.”
A cold smile tugged at the corners of Dok Gohyang’s mouth.
Even now, Pyo-wol was engaged in a fierce battle with the remaining members of the Black Cloud Corps.
At first, Dok Gohyang thought that Pyo-wol was at a disadvantage in the fight, but before he knew it, he was overwhelming the Black Cloud Corps.
“Don’t you think the nickname ‘Reaper’ suits him well? If I take the Reaper as my sword, then I can easily kill whoever I want.”
Jang Mugeuk wrinkled the tip of his nose at the greed in Dok Gohyang’s voice.
He was well aware of Dok Gohyang’s desire for collecting talented individuals, but he had never seen him so fixated on one person before.
‘He’s like a child.’
But he didn’t think it was a bad thing.
Everyone has desires.
Humans who have no desire will no longer develop, that’s why Jang Mugeuk didn’t trust people without desire. He thought that a person saying that they have no desire or greed is just a way to justify their laziness.
Dok Gohyang, on the other hand, was faithful to his own desires.
His desires became the driving force for his development, allowing him to get to where he is today.
‘Isn’t that the same for me?’
Jang Mugeuk was also one of those people who had an insatiable appetite for collecting talented individuals. He wanted to bring any exceptional individual under his control by any means necessary.
But for some reason, he wasn’t attracted to Pyo-wol.
Even though he was a new type of talent that he didn’t have under his control.
‘Am I instinctively wary of him?’
Jang Mugeuk frowned.
It was an unreasonable thought.
He shook his head, denying his own thoughts.
Dok Gohyang looked at him with a puzzled expression.
“Really? Oh! It’s finally over.”
Dok Gohyang suddenly burst into cheers.
Pyo-wol had defeated the last of the Black Cloud Corps’ martial artists.
The swamp, which was filled with mud, was now stained red because many martial artists had been devoured by the swamp.
Pyo-wol stood at the edge of the swamp, his breathing ragged.
It had been a battle against more than a hundred people.
No matter how skilled Pyo-wol was, as a human, he was bound to get hurt and tired. His body was covered with countless new wounds.
Most of the wounds would heal and fade quickly, but some of them seemed too deep to ever go away.
It didn’t matter to Pyo-wol though.
It was a small price to pay for bringing down the entirety of the Black Cloud Corps.
His tough and bitter fate with them had finally been cut off.
With this, he will never have to deal with the Black Cloud Corps again.
When his internal energy had recovered to a certain extent, Pyo-wol raised his head and looked up at a tall tree.
His gaze met the eyes of the two people on the tree.
Pyo-wol noticed their existence when his fight with the Black Cloud Corps reached its peak.
His senses had become extremely sharp, and his expanded nerves detected every movement within a radius of twenty meters.
It was at that moment that he felt the presence of the two people.
Even as he fought the Black Cloud Corps, Pyo-wol remained wary of them.
If they intervened, he would flee without a second thought. Fortunately, contrary to his fears, they didn’t seem to have any intention of intervening. Still, Pyo-wol didn’t let his guard down for a moment.
Exerting all his strength while being watched by others was equivalent to exposing his weaknesses. That was why the fight against the Black Cloud Corps had taken so long.
Then, Dok Gohyang and Jang Mugeuk suddenly jumped off the tree.
The distance between the swamp and the tree was more or less dozens of meters, but they had quickly crossed the distance and reached Pyo-wol in no time.
“Long time no see, my friend!”
Dok Gohyang waved his hand and acted familiar with Pyo-wol.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.”
“Hehe! It’s nice to see you again, though.”
Despite Pyo-wol’s cold words, Dok Gohyang remained unfazed.
Pyo-wol’s gaze then shifted to the man at the Dok Gohyang’s side.
Jang Mugeuk spoke up,
“I’m not being sarcastic. Your strength is truly admirable.”
“Should I thank you for the compliment?”
Jang Mugeuk slightly raised his eyebrows at Pyo-wol’s unexpected answer, but he quickly returned to his usual demeanor.
“My name is Jang Mugeuk. I’m from the Heavenly Military Sect.”
“Heavenly Military Sect?”
“Yes! I am the young leader of the Heavenly Military Sect.”
“A bigshot has arrived. What brings you here?”
“I had to see it with my own eyes.”
Jang Mugeuk didn’t say anything more, but Pyo-wol seemed to know what he didn’t say.
‘Is he a dragon waiting for a turbulent time?’
Ambition filled Jang Mugeuk’s seemingly ordinary eyes. Those eyes with such intense ambition were unlike any Pyo-wol had ever seen before.n𝔬𝑽𝑒(𝓁𝔟-1n
Compared to him, the eyes of ambitious people Pyo-wol had met until now were like those of children.
Dragons don’t just soar.
They need a stepping stone to take off.
Similarly, for an ambitious person to fulfill their ambitions, the times had to be turbulent.
Jang Mugeuk wanted to see with his own eyes.
He wanted to see with his own eyes if what was happening in Runan would be the beginning of the end.
He didn’t care how many people would end up dying here.
He was only interested in one thing.
He wondered how great the impact the events in Runan would have on the whole world.
He could have heard it from someone else’s mouth, but Jang Mugeuk wanted to see it with his own eyes and judge for himself.
Jang Mugeuk was not the only one who came to Runan for this reason. It was the same with Dok Gohyang, and possible for many others too.
Jang Mugeuk looked at Pyo-wol carefully.
“You must have already guessed my reason for coming here.”
“You’re too clever.”
Jang Mugeuk couldn’t afford to have a sword that was too contemplative.
Those who think too much tend to judge and decide for themselves.
The sword Jang Mugeuk wanted was someone who could carry out his master’s orders without any question.
Pyo-wol did not meet Jang Mugeuk’s standards.
Pyo-wol suddenly felt thousands of needles piercing his entire body. It didn’t take him long to realize that Jang Mugeuk was exuding his aura.
The smile on Dok Gohyang’s face disappeared.
He, too, had realized that Jang Mugeuk was using his aura against Pyo-wol.
Jang Mugeuk’s aura was not ordinary.
His aura pierces through the heart of the opponent and shakes their veins violently.
Red blood trickled down the corners of Pyo-wol’s mouth.
Jang Mugeuk managed to cause internal injuries to Pyo-wol with his aura alone.
Even considering Pyo-wol’s weakened physical condition, Jang Mugeuk’s aura surpassed common sense.
Pyo-wol had met many masters before.
Among them were the Wind Saint, an absolute master of Jianghu, and Hyeolbul, the sect leader of the Xiaoleiyin Temple. He also met and fought King Gujin, one of the Eight Constellations who is often referred to as the Wolf King.
They were all powerful.
They had such strong martial arts skills and presence that they could have been considered the best in their time. However, none of them gave the same sense of danger as the man in front of them.
It wasn’t his strength and martial arts that was the problem.
There was a dangerous smell coming from Jang Mugeuk.
An eerie, indescribable odor that sent shivers down Pyo-wol’s spine.
Jang Mugeuk spoke calmly to Pyo-wol,
“If you swear allegiance to me, I will give you the position of one of the Three Princes.”
Dok Gohyang looked at Jang Mugeuk in surprise for a moment.
The offer was too good to be true.
Considering Jang Mugeuk’s ambition, it was no different from saying that he would give Pyo-wol the third highest position in the world.
The second spot, of course, belonged to Dok Gohyang.
It was unthinkable that Jang Mugeuk would offer the position to a man who had nothing.
His offer is a sign of his high regard for Pyo-wol.
Dok Gohyang was genuinely curious to see what Pyo-wol’s decision would be.
The blood flowing along the corners of Pyo-wol’s lips became even thicker.
It meant that his internal injuries were getting worse.
Yet, he did not kneel down.
Dok Gohyang thought that Pyo-wol would pledge his loyalty soon, for the aura exuded by Jang Mugeuk was not a simple one.
It was an aura that could only be exerted by someone who ruled over all.
Few could withstand its power.
Simply having strong martial arts was not enough to withstand Imperial Power.
One needed a heart as strong as steel and an unshakable spirit.
Jang Mugeuk spoke once more,
His voice struck Pyo-wol’s mind like a giant bell ringing.
Pyo-wol almost felt his mind go blank for a moment, but he grabbed onto the reins of reason like a man possessed.
He almost succumbed to the pressure and fell to his knees.
He bit down on his lip.
His lips burst open and blood trickled down his face. The blood first soaked his lips, then flowed down to his chin and continued down to his chest.
Only then did his mind become clear.
Pyo-wol straightened his back.
Doing that alone felt like a huge burden, but he didn’t care.
If he bowed once, he would have to bow again.
And bowing twice was the same as admitting that he was nothing more than a dog.
He did not survive in that hellish place just to become someone’s hunting dog.
Pyo-wol lifted his head and met Jang Mugeuk’s eyes.
There was no sign of submission and surrender in his pupils.
His soul, which had been crushed by Imperial Power, was gradually recovering to its original state, but Imperial Power still held him captive.
At that moment, Pyo-wol raised his phantom dagger and swung it into the air.
As if a net had been cut, the Imperial Power that had enveloped Pyo-wol was sliced away in an instant.
Jang Mugeuk’s pupils shook for a moment.
It didn’t make sense for his Imperial Power, which was intangible in nature, to be cut off by a tangible object such as a dagger.
Looking him straight in the eye, Pyo-wol said,
“This is my answer.”
>:(((( I’m so annoyed with how they’re looking down on Pyo-wol. I hope Pyo-wol teaches them a lesson soon. Anyway, thank you for reading!
Imperial Power. Raws: 제왕지세(帝王之勢). 移 yí, chǐ, yì – change place, shift; move about 形 xíng – form, shape, appearance 換 huàn – change, exchange; substitute 位 wèi – throne; position, post; rank, status; seat