Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon
Translated by : betterdays
2 – Second Chance (1)
Sang In-Hyo, the General Director for the Cave of Latent Demons, a training facility for youth within the Cult of the Heavenly Demon, handed over the pile of documents piled up in front of him.
All the documents he received were sent from the upper echelons of the Cult.
Sang In-Hyo looked carefully through the papers.
Skimming his eyes over the documents he rubbed his forehead out of habit from stress.
The Cave of Latent Demons was a similar training facility used to nurture youth and find talents, it was similarly designed to several programs within the Murim Alliance.
However, they did not educate the youth in a similar and ‘polite’ manner as the Orthodox Factions within the Alliance. This was due to the Cult being part of the Unorthodox Faction.
It was unlike the selective processes that the Orthdox went through as their code was similar to survival of the fittest. Only the most talented youth that showed promise would survive by the end of the training. The unfortunate ones however, were not so lucky.
While handing over the documents, Sang In-hyo recalled the three main teachings in the facility. More specifically, they were referred to as the 3 ‘nots’
Keep up not, you die.
Strengthen not, you die.
Endure not, you die.
That very code they lived by, was what made the Cave of Latent Demons one of the most well-known programs for it’s harshness.
It was inevitable to be brutal since the remaining talents would surely strengthen the power of the cult, and was only held every 20 years.
The reason for the 20 year periods in between, was to bring fresh talent of the younger generation to stimulate and compete with the older ones.
This training was surprisingly, just that effective.
It was inevitable that those who survived would become masters in their own right, and be able to hold themselves accountable and at least have means to protect themselves within all of Murim.
Though rigorous and harsh, one would wonder why even try to attempt the arduous training that walked the tightrope of life and death? It was simple. If one was a master, they could overcome any kind of pre-existing status and make a name for themselves and their loved ones.
However, there are no shortcuts to power.
This remained true for even the brightest of talents among the many youth gathered.
If a thousand children entered the Cave of Latent Demons, not more than 100 would make it out alive. One-tenth. That was just the survival rate. Finding the most supreme talents among them to become masters was even lower.
But, as difficult as the training was, there had to be some youth that continuously overcame setbacks and proved themselves to stand out.
“Who among the batch of youth has been standing out?”
Sang In-hyo would not be the only person to want to know either. The upper echelons wanted the director and his subordinates to keep their eyes peeled too.
When Sang In-Hyo was briefed half a year ago, his assistant mentioned three particular children to him.
Even if they stood out though, they would not get any kind of special treatment. One could die at any time here.
That was just the cruel reality of it all.
‘I wonder if anybody new has entered the lead.’
Sang In-hyo smacked his lips in curiosity to see if any new talents had shown up other than the three.
The assistant answered in earnest.
“As I mentioned before, Numbers 1, 17, and 109 continue to stand out amongst their peers.”
“So none of them have died yet.”
When Sang In-hyo heard his assistant’s report, he nodded.
The number of students that are taken in the Cave of Latent Demons consists of a thousand children each time.
And as soon as they enter the Cave of Latent Demons, they must abandon their names and receive numbers to identify themselves according to their talent level amongst their peers.
The one with the greatest talent was number 1, and the one with the worst talent was labeled as 1000.
‘Hm.. number Seventeen..….’
Sang In-hyo knocked on the table with his fingers, recalling No. 17.
She received a number of seventeen for certain reasons, even though she had talent rivaling the No. 1.
Considering her background, she would not be allowed to die, even if she failed here.
One of the most surprising things is that no. 109, who numbered in the hundreds, was being noticed among the children who stood out.
‘His resolve must be impressive.’
Sang In-hyo finished his thoughts about no. 109 and covered up the report.
Then, he asked in a passive tone,
“Anyone else except those three?”
At Sang In-hyo’s words, the assistant hesitated and opened his mouth.
“……we have no. 900.”
Sang In-hyo’s eyebrows wriggled in skepticism at his assistant’s words.
A number like 900 was a talent almost on the verge of garbage.
In fact, those in the last 100 were intended to be used to alert the more talented children by dying early rather than using them as members of the Cult.
But, the 900th child was standing out.
It might have been understandable at the start when everybody had a fresh start… But, now of all times?
Wouldn’t this be considered a record in all the history for the Cave of Latent Demons, that someone numbering in the 900’s was even alive this long?
There were only 600 children alive!
Sang In-hyo’s countenance demanded an explanation for what was going on with no. 900.
The assistant noticed this and continued to explain his findings.
“It was about half a year ago when no. 900 first started to change….”
* * *
Inside the dark stone room, was a young boy who looked to be about eleven years old.
The boy fell down with a look of exhaustion plastered all over his face.
The floor was hard and his muscles were sore.
He was incredibly tired at this point and wanted to fall asleep right away.
His eyelids felt as heavy as iron ingots as they wavered in the darkness of the room.
The boy could feel clearly all the kinds of bones and muscle fibers screaming at him to rest his adolescent body at once.
Any other ordinary boy would have fallen asleep as soon as they lay down.
But he wasn’t some ordinary boy.
‘I can’t fall asleep right now.’
The boy got up from his seat and went to a corner of the stone room. Then soon he lit a small candle wick with a match.
The small flame flickered to life in the darkness of the small cave that was the size of about 1 pyeong. Illuminating the corners of the room, the boy felt a warm and cozy air embrace his body.
It was obvious, this little stone chamber wasn’t his real home.
It was just another small room that each child received when they entered the Cave of Latent Demons.
It was becoming a familiar place to him now.
The boy, who lit the candle, returned to his original seated position and sat with his back leaning slightly against the wall.
The unique cold touch of the cave transmitted it’s temperature to his back, awakening his mind and body from it’s exhausted state.
Tapping into his 5 senses, no. 900 slowly closed his eyes and sank deep into his thoughts.
‘It’s been about half a year.’
The identity of No. 900 was actually Hyuk Woon Seong, the deceased apprentice of the Spearmaster Sect.
The very one who had been falsely accused with his master, and killed brutally by the hypocrites within the Orthodox Faction.
In fact, even he didn’t fully understand the situation when he first woke up.
It was a matter of something fundamentally impossible.
‘I definitely died.’
He knew better than anybody what his own ending was like.
The situation at hand, was not something he could dare to even try comprehending.
He first awoke in this body half a year ago.
It was incredibly embarrassing at first.
Why would a person who died in his mid-twenties be in the body of a child?
And he had these new memories that were not his, meddling and mixing with his previous life’s memories. Who could possibly give him a reasonable explanation for what happened?
As half a year was not a short time, it was natural that there were many theories he tried to conjecture in that time.
And after contemplating his thoughts for that half-year, Woon Seong came to a conclusion.
‘I don’t know why I’m here… but if there was anything at all that could point to this happening, then it would be.….’
The gaze of Woon Seong subconsciously fell to an area around his chest.
It was a small, old necklace hanging around his neck.
Surprisingly, it was the same exact necklace that Woon Seong was wearing just before he died.
The artifact of the Spearmaster Sect.
It wasn’t just some imitation of the artifact, but the real deal.
At first, Woon Seong thought he was coincidentally wearing a similar necklace.
However, there was no way that he, the former apprentice of the Spearmaster Sect, could not recognize the treasured artifact of his Sect.
It was a necklace that he had worn around his neck for over five years in his previous life.
Woon-seong knew by touching the emerald prism that was laced around the string with his fingertips.
He knew that he would always be loyal to the Spearmaster Sect and his deceased master, even in this life.
However, it didn’t explain why he had been shoved into the body of some child that was in the Cave of Latent Demons. It was one the most powerful Sect of all the Unorthodox Factions.
But, Woon Seong had a slight hunch as to why he had been reincarnated into this body which was trying to get into the Cult of the Heavenly Demon.
What power could have possibly interfered with his destiny to place him here of all places?
Even as he went through the grueling training of the Cult with this child’s body, he still practiced the qi cultivation art that he learned in his previous life.
‘It’s still not nearly enough.’
Woon Seong eventually just gave up trying to think about what impossible forces were moving him around and just went with what was in front of him.
He couldn’t find any true purpose to this life for over half a year.
Even if he thought about it for a while now, nothing would really change in his path as a martial artist if he did nothing to improve.
If anything, it would be better to adapt to his current situation and decide later on what he needed to do in the future.
‘No, it’s actually clear what I need to do.’
The faces of the bastards who framed and brutally murdered his master and him.
By comparing and contrasting the memories between 900 and his old memories, it had been about 1 year since ‘he’ had died.
Of course those hypocrites would still be alive.
‘Then this time, surely Jwa Do-Gyeul… I will kill you for what you did.’
Hyuk Woon Seong gritted his teeth and recalled the face of the parties involved with his master’s death.
The faces of the sect leaders of several orthodox factions like the Mountain Cleaver, the FIrst Apprentice and the Sage of Bright Rock came to mind.
They would surely die by his hands as well.
‘With another chance at vengeance, I can’t screw this up!’
Woon Seong, determined to get revenge for his master, checked his situation.
His body was untrained and didn’t have a speck of talent to be seen, when he first came to.
The place where he woke up was in the Cave of Latent Demons within the Cult of the Heavenly Demon.
The body of an untalented child wasn’t really a problem. He had changed at least that much through his own training and hard work.
There were many and countless Qi cultivation techniques in the entirety of Murim, and there were also specific types of techniques that could even help cultivate talent.
And the previous Woon Seong happened to know one of those techniques.
第二章 건혼곤신(乾魂坤身) : The Heavenward Soul Earthen Body.
He paved the road to heaven by igniting his soul and he molded his body to become as firm as the earth itself in all its entirety.
So you had the soul of the heavens and the body of the earth.
That was the essence of this Qi Cultivation Art he was using.
This incredible Cultivation Art, fell into the hands of his Master when the Quanzhen Sect fell.
It belonged to the library hidden deep within the Spearmaster Sect, unreachable to anybody besides Woon Seong and his Master.
The effects of the Earthen Body were showing effect quickly, but the Soul that would change his talent was very slow since it was like pouring water into a dried up pond.
‘It’s not an easy process by any means. It should take at least 10 years to accumulate the amount of talent and internal qi needed to reach my old level.’
Although slow, the body of No. 900, now Woon Seong, has steadily grown in earnest. And there were some tangible results starting to finally show.
“We can solve the physical problem with this, but I just had to revive here didn’t I?’
The Cult of the Heavenly Demon.
Actually, it was a little ironic and comical.
If there was someone writing the script of fate in the heavens above, then they surely liked to pull pranks.
The Unorthodox Factions.
In other words, in the Orthodox Factions, they would openly despise and condemn practitioners of the unorthodox path calling them, calling them ‘demons’.
Woon Seong felt the image of his master smiling at him, stimulate emotions within himself. He had lived an earnest and loving life, taking a child like Woon Seong in, who had nothing to live for. And what he did was nothing short of a miracle; giving Woon Seong a purpose in his life.
But that life had been reaped by the very hypocritical bastards of the other Orthodox Sects.
‘But, I really can’t believe I’m here, of all places.’
Woon Seong smiled faintly without realizing it.
However, there were always sides to both stories as his master had told him.
The Cult of the Heavenly Demon and even the Unorthodox as a whole, were a little different than how the Orthodox portrayed them.
Yes, they might be condemned as evil, but even they had all been wronged by someone in the past that led them to create their purpose and group.
Woon Seong focused back on observing his internal circuitry and total internal qi he possessed. Even though Woon Seong had just come into this new body half a year ago, he had accumulated about 3 years worth of qi.
As his hidden identity being the deceased apprentice of the Spearmaster Sect, he needed to stay pursue his lonely road of vengeance alone.
He was making some progress steadily and shouldn’t complain too much really. If anyone else had his knowledge at 11 years old, they would be an unheard-of prodigy.
Even though at first Woon Seong felt disgusted about reviving in the Cult of the Heavenly Demon, his master told him dearly in the past that not all Unorthodox Practitioners were ‘demonic’.
‘Maybe this is a good thing.’
Since he had to walk his path of vengeance alone, it might not be such a bad idea to take all that he could from here before his leave.
On top of all the teachings his master left him. He always emphasized harmony.
If he was to use a so-called ‘righteous’ attitude with a mid-level cultivation technique and stubbornly challenge his enemies like he did in the past, then it would all be in vain. Woon Seong decided that to keep the teachings of his teacher that emphasized harmony as well as taking a new path would be necessary.
He had to get stronger than anybody else.
Strong enough to decide other’s fate. Like the fate of the bastards who caused him ruin.
* * *
“Looks like 900 changed after consuming the poison 6 months ago….”
Sang In-hyo once again, contemplated his assistant’s earlier words.
Sometimes that happened.
After experiencing a life and death crisis, some people take the opportunity to change and challenge their so-called limitations.
But Sang In-hyo knew that pulling that off was not something easy by any means.
Most take that opportunity and their resolve that drove them to grow, but all of them inevitably fizzled out.
‘But, this means that no. 900 is still growing at an impossible rate for over 6 months now.’
Sang In-hyo lightly smacked his lips.
Of course, number 900 was not comparable to the top three that were mentioned earlier.
In the case of ‘the three’, they were still leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else at the Cave of Latent Demons.
However, the fact remained that no. 900 was growing at a rapid pace beyond belief, and was closing the distance.
‘There’s nothing wrong with watching him a bit more closely.’
Taking that into consideration, Sang In-hyo ordered his subordinates to observe 900 a bit more closely.
It wouldn’t be a bad choice to surprise the ‘brain of the cult’ with this chance of no. 900’s future.
Finally, he gave up his thoughts on no. 900
There were only 600 left in the Cave of Latent Demons and they had been only developing poison resistance and basic body training.
Sang In-hyo smiled. It was about that time.
Within the Cave of Latent Demons, it was time to start ‘The True Program’ which was incomparable to the standard training program the children had been going through.
Chapter 2 – Fin
TLN : Hi! Glad you guys are reading my translations and are hyped as I am for the next chapter! Anyways, in the webtoon version of this novel that is currently being translated, it’s development is at a little past the midpoint of the story. Basically, we got a bunch of time to catch up and surpass the webtoon hah!
Seeya in the next one! -betterdays