Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 365
Light Novel: Volume 15 Episode 15
The boat docked at the pier.
Namgung Wol and his party slowly disembarked surveying their surroundings.
Yingtan was significantly smaller compared to the shores of Poyang Lake they had been at before. Even the pier gave off a feeling of being worn and aged.
Yong Hasang frowned.
It was due to the strong smell of fish coming from the pier.
He couldn’t help but scrunch because he wasn’t used to such an overpowering and disgusting smell. The same went for Yeom Hee-soo.
She couldn’t help but grimace at the intense smell.
No matter how renowned she was as a strong female martial artist in Jianghu having to endure this repugnant smell was still an unpleasant experience.
Yeom Hee-soo turned to Namgung Wol and asked
“Where do we start?”
“There’s only one pier in this place. There should at least be one person who has seen them.”
“So should we start by asking around?”
“I guess we’ll have to split up then.”
“Yes! We should spread out and gather information first then meet back here.”
Yeom Hee-soo nodded.
Yong Hasang didn’t reply but he understood enough.
‘I don’t feel good about this. It seems like we are moving according to his plans. Oh well we have no choice at the moment.’
It was not as if Pyo-wol had asked for help.
They were the ones who sneaked onto the boat.
They weren’t in a position to blame Pyo-wol for his actions.
If they complained and backed down now they would be the ones who would lose face.
No matter what they had to accomplish something here.
It was the only way to save their faces.
The three of them split up and began to search for anyone who had seen the blood-cloaked men.
Since Namgung Wol had a lot of experience in this kind of thing he blended in with the crowd naturally. However neither Yong Hasang nor Yeom Hee-soo had ever moved around like this before.
In order to gather information they have to converse with people naturally however because they approached people wearing intimidating expressions everyone avoided them.
As a result they couldn’t even initiate a proper conversation.
In the end both of them did not get any information.
They only stirred up the pier.
* * *
Mount Longhu is a famous mountain.
With the combination of rocky mountains and cliffs rock formations caves and lush forests the mountain presented a harmonious and pleasing view.
But what made the mountain even more famous was its reputation as one of the sacred mountains of Taoism.
At its peak there were eighty-one Taoist temples and thirty-six Taoist pavilions. However after experiencing two wars many of the temples and pavilions were destroyed and fell into ruin.
This caused Taoism to greatly declined to the point that the mountain was even called a Masterless Mountain for some time.
In recent years however people have begun to enter the vacant temples again but they are nowhere near as numerous as they were at their peak.
Pyo-wol surveyed his surroundings at the base of Mount Longhu.
Perhaps due to the rugged terrain there was no sign of people.
Places that once had paths were now overgrown with grass and trees.
An ordinary person might be overwhelmed about where to start but Pyo-wol was different.
He first began by observing the surrounding environment.
No matter how dense the bushes and trees were in the area there would certainly be signs and tracks if people passed through.
What Pyo-wol was looking for was just that.
The only difference was that he wasn’t looking for a human trail but rather an animal trail.
In general all mountain paths that humans use are initially created by animals.
Paths that are easy for animals to traverse are also convenient for humans. Thus when human and animal paths overlap animals are pushed out.
Animals tend to forge new paths to avoid humans and those new paths are usually hidden from human sight. Paths used by humans on the other hand could easily be monitored by animals.
Their instinct of fearing humans helped animals in creating such optimal paths.
It didn’t take long for Pyo-wol to find an animal path.
The small path was lined with wild boar and deer dung.
Pyo-wol touched the feces with his hand.
It was so dry that it instantly crumbled.
It meant that the feces had been there for a long time. The absence of fresh feces implied that animals hadn’t traversed this path for a while.
There was only one reason why animals would avoid traveling a familiar path. Their territory had been encroached upon by humans.
Pyo-wol started to follow the animal path uphill.
The path led deep into Mount Longhu.
At one point Pyo-wol’s eyes sharpened.
‘This is it!’
Before him two paths intersected.
One was the animal path he was on and the other was a fairly broad path. It was a path traversed by humans.
When the two paths overlapped it was clear that the animals moved elsewhere to avoid humans.
Pyo-wol moved from the animal path to the newly discovered human path.
The path was overgrown with bushes that made it hard to believe it had ever been traveled by humans. At first glance it might seem like an ordinary underbrush but to Pyo-wol’s eyes it vividly showed the signs of human passage.
He followed the trail.
The faint trail led deep into the depths of Mount Longhu. At some point however the trail disappeared like a lie.
It wasn’t as if the traces were interrupted due to geographical features like cliffs or waterfalls. The scenery before him was just a plain old terrain yet the trail had completely disappeared.
Unless a person had grown wings it was impossible to vanish without a trace.
If someone has passed by there must be a trail.
The trail definitely existed it was just that he hadn’t found it yet.
Pyo-wol climbed a nearby tree and chewed on the jerky he had prepared.
Impatience could sometimes interfere with the senses so taking a break is a good way to calm the mind.
After getting enough rest Pyo-wol resumed his search.
He meticulously searched around the area. However he still couldn’t find any traces.
Pyo-wol felt a strong sense of discomfort.
It was definitely a normal landscape but something about it was off he just couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
Pyo-wol thought hard about it and soon he figured it out.
‘I can’t hear any sound from over there.’
From where he was standing he could hear birds singing insects chirping and leaves rustling. But on the other side opposite of him he could hear none of that.
Such a thing was impossible under normal circumstances.
‘Is it a formation?’
What lay before his eyes was unmistakably a high-level formation.
A formation sophisticated enough to fool Pyo-wol’s senses completely covered the area.
‘It’s a formation that hinders human perception and disrupts their senses.’
Pyo-wol was no stranger to formations.
As an assassin one had to know a certain amount about formations and Pyo-wol had not been lax in his studies. Even so the formation spread before his eyes was so exquisite that he didn’t recognize it at first glance.
There was no way that a place with this level of formation could be ordinary.
As of now he knew absolutely nothing about the formation.
Rushing in without thinking would alert his enemies instantly.
So Pyo-wol chose to remain hidden and observed the formation for the meantime.
One of his specialties was being patient.
If he observed the area patiently and persistently enough he might find an unexpected gap.
Pyo-wol observed the formation without moving for almost two hours.
A possibility popped into his head.
It was just his intuition for now but he used his vivid imagination to build up a structure fleshing it out. As he did so he began to see a path little by little.
Pyo-wol fixed his gaze on a particular point.
It was a large tree standing out conspicuously even in the dense forest.
He didn’t know how long it had been rooted there but the branches and leaves of the tree seemed to perfectly covered about ten or so pavilions.
The tree was so huge that even three or four adults could would not be able to reach it even with their arms extended.
There was also a strong flow of qi concentrated in the tree. Pyo-wol could clearly sense and feel the flow of qi.
Pyo-wol silently watched the tree without moving.
‘There has to be some kind of change.’
It was not a baseless thought.
If Mount Longhu was indeed their stronghold then there was no way they wouldn’t have heard about the news of Namgung Wol and the others causing a ruckus in Yingtan.
Namgung Wol and the rest of his party were bait and Namgung Wol was well aware of this fact.
Only Yong Hasang and Yeom Hee-soo had no idea that they were being used by Pyo-wol.
Given their temperament they most probably would turned the nearby pier upside down. And that’s precisely the situation Pyo-wol was hoping for.
What Pyo-wol needed now was patience and patience was what Pyo-wol was best at.
Time passed in a blur. And finally the moment Pyo-wol had been waiting for arrived.
Suddenly the area around the massive tree began to shake.
At that moment Pyo-wol moved.
Without a sound or a hint of his presence he approached the vicinity of the tree.
It was extremely reckless to act like this not knowing what would happen. However Pyo-wol’s behavior could not be considered as reckless.
He used the Turtle Breathing Technique to completely hide his presence.
At that moment a group of martial artists suddenly appeared from the side of the tree.
It was as if they had fallen from the sky.
The place where they appeared could be considered the only gateway in the entire formation.
They were dressed the same as the blood-cloaked men who died at Poyang Lake.
“There are some guys at the pier snooping around us we need to identify who they are.”
The martial artists continued talking amongst themselves completely oblivious to the fact that Pyo-wol was hiding right next to them.
Pyo-wol realized that Namgung Wol and the others were moving as he had planned.
The warriors ran towards Yingtan where the pier was.
Even as they ran through the bushes not a single blade of grass was trampled.
The entire group was made up of martial artists capable of Grass-Treading Flight a type of qinggong.
They disappeared from sight in an instant.
Immediately after the space where they had appeared started to ripple a sign that it was about to close again.
Pyo-wol who had been hiding using Turtle Breathing technique jumped through the gateway.
At that moment the scenery around him changed.
The dense bushes disappeared without a trace and a cliff that seemed to have been carved out appeared.
Pyo-wol couldn’t help but exclaimed inwardly in admiration.
He had encountered quite a few formations in his life but never one so elaborate and spread over such a vast area.
A formation this large and elaborate could never be created in a day or two.
It was a masterpiece that required a significant amount of manpower and time to complete. Moreover to maintain a formation of this size a skilled formation master had to reside and constantly repair it.
It was not a task that one or two people could handle.
Pyo-wol hid near the gateway and heightened his senses. Then he felt presences from various places.
There were watchers hidden nearby. However they hadn’t anticipated that Pyo-wol would jump in when the gateway opened for a moment. Therefore they had no idea that Pyo-wol was hiding.
Pyo-wol remained hidden and looked at the cliff.
If they had spread such a massive formation to conceal that cliff there had to be something inside it.
It would be no easy task to approach the cliff without being seen.
There were more than ten presences felt by Pyo-wol’s senses. While the number may not seem significant the problem was their positions.
They occupied positions that were not visible at a glance.
Approaching the cliff while avoiding their eyes was not an easy task. However this was only the case for ordinary warriors.
Pyo-wol was a martial artist who surpassed everyone else when it came to hiding himself and approaching stealthily. Once he sets his mind in concealing himself no one could find him.
Pyo-wol used Synchronization.
He precisely matched his breathing and vital responses with those who were hiding.
In that state he then used Snake Steps.
Like a snake slithering he moved without a sound.
Human concentration inherently has its limits. No matter how hard the person stares at something their attention is bound to scatter and over time they will naturally get distracted.
Even the most rigorously trained martial artists can’t escape this phenomenon.
Moreover having a formation as a first line of defense naturally lowered one’s focus.
Pyo-wol knew the psychology of such watchers better than anyone else.
He casually walked among the watchers as if he had just gone out for a walk.
It was an exceedingly strange spectacle.
There were about ten watchers hiding yet none of them managed to notice Pyo-wol passing through their midst.
Their eyes were by no means rotten sockets and yet not a single one of them noticed Pyo-wol passing by.
Pyo-wol finally escaped the eyes of the watchers and reached the edge of the cliff.
And there he saw it.
A huge vertical cave with no end in sight.
The cave of unknown depth reminded Pyo-wol of the underground cave where he was born as an assassin.