Murim Login (Novel) Chapter 263


Chapter 263

"To be precise, the nemesis who killed your dearest friend."

Such a proclamation rendered me motionless.

I could sense a similar shock emanating from Jeok Cheon-Gang beside me.

'What did I just hear?'

The information was too jarring to digest immediately. This stranger's words scrambled my thoughts.

Could it be...

'Did he kill Hong Dao? This young man?'

Memories deeply etched in my mind surfaced and then faded away.

Hong Dao's labored final breaths, Jong Richu's mysterious disappearance during the martial arts tournament, and the four enigmatic words Hong Dao left behind.

'Jong Richu, Dark Heaven, Nameless, Buddha's Staff.'

What had I witnessed until now?

Where had the path twisted?

Desperately trying to assemble the pieces, I was interrupted by the grave words from Jeok Cheon-Gang.

"You... you were the one to kill Hong Dao?"

His voice quivered, laden with a mix of shock, rage, and disbelief.

In response, the young man offered a faint smile, nodding.

"Yes. It was easier than I thought. When I threatened to detonate the Heaven-Shaking Thunder in the audience, he followed willingly."

"The Heaven-Shaking Thunder? You planted explosives?"

"That? Merely a deception."

"...What?"

"People lie because there exist those naive enough to believe."

Blood oozed from Jeok Cheon-Gang's clenched fist.

"He wasn't deceived; he chose to believe. It was in Hong Dao's nature."

"He chose to believe? It's plausible. As the leader of Shaolin, perhaps he wished to prevent any potential harm."

"Bastard!"

"Please, don't be overly harsh. I hadn't intended for such a hasty approach. However, complications arose. Primarily, due to—..." Abruptly, his attention shifted to me.

"Jin Tae-Kyung, the Sleeping Dragon of Shanxi. You're not without blame."

Locking eyes with him sent a shiver down my spine.

Was it the animosity I felt or the palpable gap in our abilities?

'Maybe it's both.'

Resisting the urge to falter, I met his gaze fiercely.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Your unanticipated interference in the martial arts contest forced me to hasten my strategy by a day. The biggest wildcard was the Ever-Victorious Sword, Jong Richu."

"..."

It was undeniably clear now: Jong Richu wasn't the mastermind, nor was he an accomplice.

"Well, in the end, everything has been neatly tied."

The man smirked, extending his hand in expectation.

Hansu, recognizing the gesture, quickly proffered an item.

"The divine artifact of Shaolin, the Green Jade Ruyi."

"So, this is it..."

Elegant fingers delicately traced the luminous Green Jade Ruyi.

However, the very next moment, the young man’s eyes bore into Hansu’s, the latter’s withered hand still gripping the relic.

"You can let go now."

Hansu gulped before answering.

"Blood Lord, might I make a request?"

"A request, you say? Speak your mind. You've done a great job, so I should certainly hear you out."

The scene before me was surreal.

An elderly man deferring to a youth, a potential grandson in age.

Even more so, when that elder was the architect of Shaolin's massacre.

'What exactly is his identity?' Two probable answers surfaced: either he's of immense significance within Dark Heaven or his youth belies his true age. Perhaps, both theories held merit.

Nevertheless, as the Blood Lord's affirmative response reached Hansu's ears, hope illuminated his features.

"Truly?"

The Blood Lord clicked his tongue.

"Have I misled you before? Given your impeccable execution, a reward is only just. However, I'm curious. What has rendered our esteemed elder so hesitant?"

"My request is simple."

"Yet beyond your capabilities?"

"...Regrettably, yes."

"Aah, I think I can surmise your wish."

The Blood Lord gestured towards Jeok Cheon-Gang and me.

"Eradicate those two, correct?"

With a fervent gleam in his eyes, Hansu confirmed with a nod, eliciting a chuckle from the Blood Lord.

"Well, that's unexpected. It seems you two had a stronger bond than I thought."

"We’ve journeyed together for over half our lifetimes. This feels like the rightful closure."

"Brotherhood... Well, that's admirable."

"I implore you. Make their end as gruesome as possible. I pledge my aid as well."

"That's all you want? The righteous ones will soon descend upon us, complicating matters. A swift conclusion might demand some exertion on your part."

"So be it."

"The Sleeping Dragon of Shanxi is yours to confront, while I’ll engage the Fire King. By sunset, our task should be complete, yes?"

"I get the young one? Hahaha! Sounds good!"

The sheer audacity of their conversation, discussing mine and Jeok Cheon-Gang's fates as if they were trifling playthings, was both astounding and bone-chilling.

'He's serious about that statement.'

By sunset. He seemed assured he could finish Jeok Cheon-Gang in the time one might take to enjoy a brief respite.

Jeok Cheon-Gang's stiffened expression indicated these weren't mere hollow threats.

- If the tide turns against you, retreat.

I subtly nodded at the faint whisper that reached my ears.

A tumultuous clash already raged above, so expecting help from Shaolin was unlikely.

Should I retreat, Jeok Cheon-Gang would bear the brunt of two transcendent martial masters.

'To stay and fight here is the optimal choice.'

I know Jeok Cheon-Gang recognizes this. Yet his suggestion... is a testament to his concealed warmth and protective nature.

'This feels precariously dire.'

Licking my parched lips, I tightly grasped the White Flames. Hansu chuckled at my appearance.

"Pitiful fool. How will that change anything? Your achievements are commendable, but with that alone, you'll never even scratch me in multiple lifetimes."

"Screw you."

In defiance, I spat on the ground.

"After a few hours here, if I rest and wake up, won't you be dead by my hand?"

"What nonsense are you spewing?"

"If you don't believe me, test me."

"How dare this brat!"

The frustration was palpable. Were it not for this ongoing battle, if signing off meant halting time rather than merely decelerating it, I'd possess endless opportunities to circumvent this crisis.

But these thoughts were merely whimsical fantasies.

Now was the time to face reality, not fantasies.

"Freeze him alive."

Thunk. Thunk. Crunch.

Now I grasped why the old man earned his moniker, the Yin Ghost.

With every step he took, the ground froze, and frost settled on tree branches.

"Freezing Yin Energy...I see. However..."

Jeok Cheon-Gang positioned himself protectively before me.

"Don't you dare lay a finger on this old man's disciple."

Hwaaaah!

If Hansu's Freezing Yin Energy resembled an iceberg, then Jeok Cheon-Gang's Scorching Yang Energy mirrored the blazing sun.

If we assumed the combat prowess of the now-vanquished Yeomho and Hansu were matched, Jeok Cheon-Gang would naturally hold the upper hand.

Nonetheless, Hansu appeared nonchalant, undoubtedly emboldened by the formidable presence at his back.

"It's time for the Blood Lord to intervene."

"Ah, indeed. Let the dance begin."

The Blood Lord, cradling the Green Jade Ruyi, moved. Or rather, he seemed to simply disappear.

And then, in the next heartbeat.

Swoosh! Thud!

A chilling sound reverberated as a decapitated head rolled to a stop before me.

Well-groomed white hair, a refined demeanor, and on his lips, the remnants of a confident smirk.

"......!"

"......!"

Both Jeok Cheon-Gang and I stared, our eyes widening in disbelief.

The Yin Ghost Hansu, a feared Demon Head and a transcendent expert, was decapitated in but a fleeting moment.

While the weight of this realization held us, the Blood Lord, the very architect of the act, seemed wholly undisturbed.

"Worthless old dog. This is why you shouldn't place trust in those without proper lineage."

He remarked with a trace of disdain, effortlessly toppling Hansu's headless form.

Splash. Like a felled ancient tree, the gushing blood from Hansu's torso drenched the ground.

"A tool's value lies in its user's skill. To think he dared..."

Thud! Thud! Crunch!

Each stomp he took resonated with weight, the ground yielding beneath his Qi-enhanced boots, grinding flesh and shattering bone.

The Blood Lord, after repeatedly trampling on the lifeless Hansu, tossed back his hanging hair.

"Some never grasp their insignificance, ever blind to their boundaries. Sleeping Dragon of Shanxi, wouldn’t you concur?"

...Me?

How should I respond? Gathering my thoughts, I spoke candidly.

"No. To me, you appear nothing more than a deranged lunatic."

For a split second, the Blood Lord looked genuinely taken aback, but then his expression softened into a smirk.

"This youngster has spirit."

"You seem like a youth who's lost his zest early on."

"It's amusing you perceive me as youthful. I've seen more years than you'd expect."

"How many, exactly?"

"Enough that I’ve experienced life at least twice as long as you."

I assessed him critically.

Matching my height and possessing a proportionate build.

His visage, at best, seemed that of someone in his early to mid-twenties.

Such agelessness went beyond mere 'youthful appearance'. Yet, isn't Murim the place where anything can happen?

"Ah, are you taken aback that I’ve lived longer than you anticipated?"

I shook my head.

"No. If your words hold truth, then it seems you've squandered a good portion of those years."

"Hahaha!"

The Blood Lord's laughter echoed, rich and full of genuine mirth.

Everything about him – from his posture to his tone – was not merely relaxed; it bordered on audacity. It only heightened the palpable aura of danger that surrounded him.

Even in the throes of his amusement, he showed no openings.

Jeok Cheon-Gang, eyes like coals of fire, broke the silence.

"You'll regret this."

"Regret?"

Stopping mid-chuckle, the Blood Lord's gaze grew intense.

"Why would I regret anything?"

"If you wanted a decisive finish, you shouldn't have killed the Yin Ghost."

"He was just a rusted blade. Once its use is spent, disposal is natural."

"And in your eyes, if a transcendence master is just a rusted blade... what does this old man signify?"

Pausing for a moment, the Blood Lord said with a mock inquisitiveness.

"Ah, the Fire King. You are a blade of legend. Had the Great Faction War lingered but another year, we might have heralded not Three, but Four Saints."

"I still draw breath."

"You're certainly skilled enough to be deemed a legendary sword."

"What if that legendary sword pierces your heart?"

"Well... from my perspective, I'm rather resilient. I doubt it'd even draw a drop of blood."

"When Hong Dao died, this old man swore to the heavens."

Jeok Cheon-Gang's stare pierced the now-smiling Blood Lord.

"Be it beast or demon responsible, they would know vengeance."

"How touching, truly. But..."

Laughter now silenced, the Blood Lord's fingers traced the hilt of his blade.

"I suspect today might herald the fall of the Scorching Clan."

Eyes unwavering from the Blood Lord, Jeok Cheon-Gang sought my opinion.

"What do you think of his words?"

"I think he needs a muzzle for his mouth. He's been spewing crap since earlier."

The smirk vanished from the Blood Lord's face.

"... You really are amusing."

Thud. Taking a step towards Jeok Cheon-Gang and me, he suddenly spoke.

"By the way, how long does that little rat over there intend to hide?"

Out of the blue, from a distant bush, a figure emerged, scratching the back of his head.

"Savior. I'm sorry. I've never been this scared in my life..."

It was the first time I was so relieved to see Cheong Pung.

---
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