Light Novel: Volume 15 Episode 20
Lee Hogwan entered the cave with his subordinates.
It wasn’t for nothing that he took on this mission.
He and his subordinates all specialized in hunting.
Their martial arts, weapons, and cultivation techniques were all designed for hunting humans.
It also does not matter whether they go for human hunting during the day or night.
In fact, they find it more efficient to hunt in the night than in the broad daylight.
This was because Lee Hogwan and his subordinates mastered a unique eye technique called the Cat’s Eye Night Vision Technique1 that allows them to fight freely during the night.
Once the said night vision technique is mastered to the extreme, the user would become sensitive to even the faintest light, like a cat. Thanks to this, they can move without hesitation in the darkness, as long as there is a faint streak of light.
For those who have mastered the Cat’s Eye Night Vision Technique, darkness does not pose a threat or an obstacle.
Carrying only a single torch, Lee Hogwan and his men strode boldly into the depths of the cave.
They walked further into the cave, checking each of the dozens of iron doors on either side.
Every time they shone their torchlight, the people trapped inside the cells screamed and shielded their eyes.
“M, My eyes–!”
Having been trapped in a darkness devoid of light for a long time, their eyes were extremely sensitive to light.
They would retreat back into a corner with tears streaming down their faces since the pain they felt in their eyes was similar to being pricked with a needle.
Lee Hogwan observed their reactions one by one.
Those who had been imprisoned in this place for a long time would react sensitively to the light, however, the same couldn’t be said for those who had just entered from the outside.n𝑜𝒱𝖾(𝒍𝑩)1n
Unlike those who screamed in pain because of the light, newcomers would not give much of a reaction if a torch was suddenly thrust at them.
It was a simple but effective method of searching.
As they do it this way, Lee Hogwan and his subordinates did not care at all about the imprisoned people crying out in pain due to the light.
Lee Hogwan raised his Cat’s Eye Night Vision Technique to the extreme and thoroughly scanned the interior of the cave.
The only source of light they have was the torch held by the man at the front, but that was more than enough.
Lee Hogwan said,
“Everyone, be alert. If someone has managed to sneak in and hide up to this point without leaving a trace, he won’t be an ordinary man.”
“Still, he can’t escape our eyes, Captain!”
“Hehe! Don’t we specialize in this sort of thing? There’s nothing to worry about.”
They were the ones who had tracked down and captured the Ninth Underworld Yin Demon.
Their confidence was not without reason.
Especially when this kind of harsh environment was their preferred battlefield.
Once a person enters such a harsh environment, they are bound to feel uncomfortable. Lee Hogwan and the others would then use the particular discomfort others feel to their advantage.
The greater the discomfort the others feel, the more it dulled their senses and distracted them. It is a weakening of the defense mechanism that every human has.
Lee Hogwan and his men knew this human psychology better than anyone, and they loved to prey on such moments.
As Lee Hogwan advanced forward, he thought,
‘Who on earth managed to sneak into this place? And how did they find it?’
The Prison of No Return was a kind of private prison.
Not many in the Jianghu knew about its existence and for those who did, they kept the secret of the Prison of No Return thoroughly.
They had no choice but to do so because the Prison of No Return was a kind of shameful existence.
The identities of those imprisoned in the Prison of No Return were anything but ordinary.
Most of them were people who had been pushed out of the power struggles of sects and families.
They were too awkward to kill directly, but if left alone, they would, without a doubt, become seeds of trouble in the future.
Powerful people found them inconvenient to deal with.
So, the Prison of No Return approached these powerful people, persuading them by saying,
‘We will take care of the troublesome work for you. If you send them to our prison, we won’t release them into the world until they die. But we won’t kill them either.’
At first, the Prison of No Return found it quite hard to get clients.
This was because the powerful people suspected that the Prison of No Return might be a trap set by their competitors. But the Prison of No Return didn’t rush and gradually made themselves known, eventually earning their trust.
When they first started the Prison of No Return, they doubted how many people would use it, but these concerns faded over time.
There were quite a few people in the world who wanted to quietly erase their brothers, sisters, or sworn enemies from the world, and they were more than willing to pay large sums of money to use the services offered by the Prison of No Return.
Exposing the existence of the Prison of No Return to the outside world would also expose the pretensions of those in power, which is why the Prison of No Return paid special attention to maintaining secrecy.
There was no chance of any secrets leaking from this place.
Gu Ja-hwang and his subordinates hardly ventured outside unless it was absolutely necessary, and they kept their contact with outsiders to a minimum.
It would also be unlikely for the powerful individuals who utilize the services of the Prison of No Return to divulge the secrets themselves, as doing so would essentially be equivalent to exposing their own weaknesses.
‘In any case, once we capture the guy who broke in, everyone will know how he found this place and infiltrate it.’
It was then.
Suddenly, the cry of one of his subordinates echoed within the cave.
Only then did Lee Hogwan wake from his trance and looked forward.
A man was standing in front of the faint torchlight.
At a quick glance, it was clear that the man had a hunched back.
The light coming from the torch made the killing intent in his eyes shine even more intensely.
The man was none other than So Gyeoksan.
So Gyeoksan had his arms stretched out wide while looking at Lee Hogwan and his men.
Lee Hogwan asked,
“Who are you?”
A raspy, phlegmatic voice escaped So Gyeoksan’s lips.
“So Gyeoksan? So it’s you? The one who snuck in from the outside?”
“No. I’m one of the people imprisoned in this place.”
So Gyeoksan pointed to the inner iron door with his hand.
“Is that so?”
The corner of Lee Hogwan’s lips curled up for a moment.
He knew that the people trapped behind those iron doors were addicted to the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison.
Once the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison is ingested, it invades one’s internal energy, causing them to lose their reason and follow their master’s command.
Those poisoned with the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison could not manipulate their internal energy at all unless they regularly took an antidote.
Lee Hogwan didn’t know how So Gyeoksan was still maintaining his sanity, but since So Gyeoksan was poisoned with the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison, he should not be able to use his internal energy.
In other words, Lee Hogwan had nothing to fear.
“It seems that the rat that sneaked in has released you. Where is he? If you answer obediently, I’ll send you back into your cell.”
“He is not a rat. He’s a snake, a venomous snake hiding in the darkness, waiting to strike.”
“What nonsense are you talking about? If you continue to spout nonsense, it would be best for you to go back into the cell.”
“Heh! Why should I go back there when you’re all here? I won’t leave this place until I’ve taken all of your lives.”
“You’ve completely lost your mind. What are you waiting for? Send that guy back to his place now!”
Two subordinates responded in unison as they approached So Gyeoksan.
They knew that So Gyeoksan was poisoned with the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison, so they did not bother putting their guards up.
They each positioned themselves at So Gyeoksan’s sides, attempting to grab him by the arms.
But at that moment, something unexpected happened.
So Gyeoksan jabbed the eye of the warrior who was trying to grab his right arm with two fingers.
The warrior who had his eyeball stabbed let out a horrible scream.
The other warrior, who had tried to grab So Gyeoksan’s left arm, was startled so he tried to step back in response. But So Gyeoksan was much faster.
So Gyeoksan threw himself at the warrior on his left and bit his neck.
Everyone froze at the sight of So Gyeoksan, gnashing his teeth into the warrior’s neck with his eyes gleaming like a beast.
So Gyeoksan’s movements were definitely not those of someone who had lost their internal energy could do.
The man bitten by So Gyeoksan struggled, but it was of no use.
He eventually died with So Gyeoksan’s teeth sunk into his neck.
Lee Hogwan brandished his spear and spoke,
“Didn’t you lose your internal energy?”
So Gyeoksan replied, letting go of the man whose neck he had bitten.
In his hand was a sword that had been hanging on the man’s waist.
Lee Hogwan ‘s face twisted.
“You did? Then, does that mean you’ve recovered your internal energy now? But how? That shouldn’t be possible unless you have neutralized the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison.”
“With the help of a little friend.”
So Gyeoksan waved his wrist.
Two red dots could be seen on his wrist.
Lee Hogwan frowned, not understanding what those marks meant.
At that moment, So Gyeoksan disappeared into the darkness.
He had used a stealth technique to hide his body.
Lee Hogwan shouted,
“Everyone, be careful! He seems to have truly recovered his internal energy!”
Lee Hogwan’s face was full of disbelief.
The antidote for the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison was extremely rare and kept in special storage. Furthermore, taking it doesn’t mean that the person would have their internal energy immediately restored.
It would take at least three days for the person’s internal energy to recover enough to use it. However, the opponent who had disappeared before his eyes seemed to have his internal energy recovered perfectly.
It was something impossible according to his knowledge.
It was then.
Suddenly, the scream of his subordinate, who was carrying a torch, erupted from behind him.
As Lee Hogwan quickly turned around, he saw his subordinate clutching his throat before collapsing. And behind his subordinate was So Gyeoksan standing with a sword dripping with blood.
So Gyeoksan stamped his foot and extinguished the torch.
Immediately after, dreadful darkness swallowed up their vision.
At that moment, Lee Hogwan was certain.
He was certain that So Gyeoksan had expelled the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison and perfectly recovered his internal energy.
But, Lee Hogwan didn’t have the luxury of figuring out how such a thing was possible.
This was because So Gyeoksan had disappeared again.
An assassin who had recovered his internal energy.
A closed-off environment.
And a pitch-black darkness engulfing their vision.
Their nightmare was about to begin.
* * *
Pyo-wol started walking.
Hong Yushin was following right behind him.
Hong Yushin glanced back and said,
“Would he really be enough on his own?”
“It’s what he wanted.”
“He could die.”
“Do you think that someone who has lost everything is afraid of death?”
“Well, that’s true but–”
“It’s his choice. It’s not something third parties like us can meddle in.”
Hong Yushin nodded his head.
Like So Gyeoksan, Hong Yushin also held a burning grudge against the warriors of the Prison of No Return.
The only difference was that he was still a little more rational, while So Gyeoksan, who had lost everything, had lost his cool.
If he were in the same situation as So Gyeoksan, he would have acted exactly the same.
Suddenly, Hong Yushin’s gaze landed on Pyo-wol’s arm.
More precisely, he was looking at Gwiya, the small snake coiled around Pyo-wol’s arm.
At first, he had mistaken it for a tattoo or a red string wound around Pyo-wol’s arm.
When he found out that it was actually a tiny snake, he couldn’t hide his surprise.
The red snake coiled around Pyo-wol’s arms had used its tiny mouth to bite So Gyeoksan.
To Hong Yushin’s surprise, the little snake actually sucked in the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison. It seemed as though the snake was drinking water from the straw with how it meticulously filtered out and consumed only the poison from So Gyeoksan’s body.
After gorging out on the potent poison after a long time, Gwiya flicked its tiny red tongue as if incredibly satisfied.
The poison that humans had worked so hard to create was just a delicious meal for the little snake, Gwiya.
Pyo-wol stroked Gwiya’s head with his finger. Gwiya, in turn, closed its eyes, enjoying Pyo-wol’s touch.
Soon enough, Pyo-wol and Hong Yushin arrived at the iron gate located in the innermost part of the cave.
The chamber they went into was located even deeper than where So Gyeoksan had been locked up.
That meant that someone important was being held captive inside.
It had to be.
After all, the person confined in this room was the one who had been in the box that So Gyeoksan brought from Runan.
So Gyeoksan knew the person’s identity, but he didn’t tell Pyo-wol outright, telling him to check the person out for himself.
As soon as So Gyeoksan was captured and brought into the Prison of No Return, the person placed inside the box was immediately imprisoned here.
Pyo-wol opened the iron gate.
Inside the iron gate, a man was sitting with his back against the wall.
His hair and beard had grown long, making it impossible to see his face clearly, but his eyes still shone sharply.
The man reeked of the Demonic Soul-Exchange Poison. Its distinctive scent could be smelled on his breath.
But even then, he showed no signs of having lost his reason nor being eaten by madness, indicating that his mind was strong enough for him to be able to keep his sanity.
The man looked at Pyo-wol and opened his mouth,
“Who are you?”
“Pyo-wol. And, you are?”
“Yu Suhwan. A disciple of Jeon Mu-ok, the former sect leader of the Martial Sword Alliance.”
Jeon Mu-ok was first introduced in Chapter 265. He is also Dok Gohyang’s master. Anyway, thank you for reading!
Cat’s Eye Night Vision Technique. Raws: 묘안투야공(猫眼透夜功). 猫 māo, máo, miáo – cat 眼 yǎn – eye; eyelet, hole, opening 透 tòu – (bound form) to penetrate; to seep through / to tell secretly; to leak / thoroughly; through and through / to appear; to show 夜 yè – night 功 gōng – meritorious deed or service / achievement / result / service / accomplishment / work (physics)