5 – The Cave (1)

Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon
Translated by : betterdays
5 – The Cave (2)


‘He won’t die.’

Woon Seong glanced back towards the path near the mountain.

In the direction of his gaze, No. 185 laid sprawled out, unconscious.

It looked like No. 185 passed out from the pain that Woon Seong inflicted upon him. Woon Seong scoffed and turned around. 

He proceeded to leave and grabbed the flagpole.

Thanks to the annoying presence of No. 185, he was a little tighter on time. Nonetheless, Woon Seong was confident to get to the bottom in time.

There wasn’t much time till the instructors ended the time for the training.

As if to prove it, Woon Seong began to see children resting one by one.

Some of them had bruises on their eyes or a lump on their head.

These children were injured in a large scuffle that had erupted at the top of the mountain when all of the flags had been taken.

‘I’m glad I came down early.’

Otherwise, Woon Seong would have likely been caught up in a large brawl like the kids resting before him.

Woon Seong smiled faintly and hastened his steps.

Of course, the process of going down the mountain was not so smooth.

As he descended down the path, there were children who rushed to take the flagpole from the hands of Woon Seong, much like what No. 185 tried to do earlier to him.

All of them were children who attacked because they thought with the impression that being No. 900 he would be weak.

Each time, of course, they were severely beaten and left bruised on the side of the path by Woon Seong.

‘Whoa, that’s a funny sight.’

When he knocked down the fourth child who attacked him, Woon Seong found out that there were hidden instructors watching him with nervous expressions for some reason. 

What were they expecting? Woon Seong had been biding his time and hiding his talent as best he could, but now he could care less for such trivial things. If the instructors wanted to watch, he’d go ahead and give them a show.

Woon Seong eventually made it all the way down the mountain and arrived at the gathering place where the instructors were handing out breakfast to those who brought down a flagpole. There were a little more than 40 children who had brought down a flag before Woon Seong.

Among them, No. 17 was in the crowd too.

“I brought a flag.”

“It’s within the time limit. Take your meal.”

When Woon Seonghanded over the flag, the instructor accepted it and handed over a fist-sized dumpling.

Dumplings were a nutritious and tasty prize with a balanced use of meat and vegetables for the children that they rarely got to eat in their time spent at the Cave of Latent Demons.

‘It’s a little small, but there’s no nutritional problems at least.’

This was just a typical meal in the Cave of Latent Demons. The sense of satiety applied the logic of making a warrior lazy and never gave the children enough food to be full.

Woon Seong accepted the dumplings and joined the other children that were sitting down and found a spot. Getting comfortable on a patch of dirt he slowly began to eat his dumpling.

To increase the amount of nutritional value he could get from the dumpling, it was important to chew it little by little, slowly, and for a long time.

That way, even a small amount of it could actually fill your stomach appropriately, instead of just wolfing it down in one bite and staying hungry.

When Woon Seong almost finished eating his dumpling, most of the other children returned.

Like Woon Seong, the children who brought a flag received dumplings, and those who did not were forced to look at the other children with envious or resentful eyes.

No. 185 was the latter.

Woon Seong turned his head and looked at him.

No. 185 was escorted to the infirmary and had gotten his broken arm bandaged up. The interesting thing was that he was grinding his teeth with a resentful look at Woon Seong.

Nevertheless, he did not dare to make eye contact with Woon Seong.

It was because he knew well that he could do nothing about it.

Woon Seong stared at him for a while and eventually turned his head.

Now that he had breakfast, it was time to start a new type of training.

“You will learn martial arts in earnest from now on.”

After breakfast, the children of Shiwan Hall were greatly shaken by the words of the senior instructor.

Some children were learning martial arts because they had some background up till now, and the unfortunate ones with poor backgrounds did not have anything.

However, just because they weren’t learning any martial arts, didn’t mean they didn’t know what it meant.

They could grow stronger and hold enough power to break free of the shackles known as poverty.

According to the stories told to most children when they were young, the best martial artists in legends could fly in the sky and split rocks with just one finger.

That was what learning martial arts meant to these kids.

It was natural for children to be shocked when they learnt that they would start learning what they wanted for so long.

The entire hall was chattering and got noisy quickly.

Boom!

“Be quiet!”

The senior instructor stomped his foot loudly.

Shockwaves emitted from the instructor’s foot spread throughout the cave, leaving a clear footprint on the floor.

The ground around the footprint was left with cracks of earthen rock all around it.

Woon Seong’s eyebrows trembled slightly when he saw it.

‘First-rate?’

Those who were considered first-rate martial artists were able to exert quite a bit of force from their bodies since to get to that level, one had to be able to accumulate quite a few years worth of qi. Not many people in the world of Murim could honestly call themselves first-rate martial artists. But with one glance, Woon Seong knew that he had clearly underestimated these instructors.

Once somebody was skilled enough to be called a first-rate, they were strong enough to level their surroundings when fighting. It was the very definition of breaking through human limits.

The senior instructor in front of him was a powerful man who could easily join small and medium sized clans as a major fighting force.

As Woon Seong was evaluating the senior instructor, the senior instructor looked at the quiet children and smiled with satisfaction.

“Just because you’ll be learning martial arts, does not mean you will be stronger right away. You can’t build a castle out of sand and expect it to be majestic. Just like you’ve been training yourself for the past year with preparation, you first will learn how to cultivate.”

He took a little booklet out of his robes.

“This is the Dark Flower and Red Spirit Method.”

Woon Seong nodded lightly as he heard the name.

The Dark Flower

Called the Dark Flower technique, it was one of the best foundational unorthodox techniques for building an incredibly solid foundation of pure demonic qi.

Orthodox cultivation techniques had the emphasis of stability but traded that off for slower growth compared to most unorthodox methods.

Unorthodox techniques typically had the polar opposite trade-offs. They emphasized fast growth with the risk of instability in the qi. This could lead to problems in later growth as a martial artist.

However, The Dark Flower Red Spirit method was a high level technique among the Unorthodox Methods. It was a rare method that Woon Seong had heard of. It had incredibly explosive growth compared to most Unorthodox Methods, but what was incredible about it, was the fact that it collected incredibly pure demonic qi with even better stability.

“Ones who already know how to read move to the right, and those who don’t, move to the left!”

At the senior instructor’s yell, the children first hesitated and then began to move to the groups they belonged in.

Of course, the group on the right was where Woon Seong was.

The senior instructor first approached the group of children who had learned to write.

“Before lunch, all of you will memorize the first thirty lines of text from the scripture.”

In other words, it seemed like the children who didn’t get meals earlier might not get lunch either based on the manner of speech the senior instructor used.

“Those who don’t know how to read will memorize one thousand characters and two hundred words a day. If you can’t memorize it, there will be no meal.”

The children’s eyes glistened with devotion at the words of the senior instructor.

It was not easy to memorize 30 phrases or two hundred words out of one thousand characters for either group.

Simply looking at the speed they were requiring the kids to learn at, it meant the children would be learning all the characters of the alphabet within 5 days. (T/N: in korean, the dialect is known as hangul. There are around 11 thousand possible character variations with it.)

It was important for kids to eat in the prime of their development so this was just another cruel punishment if they didn’t meet expectations.

Starvation naturally made one physically weaker over time and the mind fatigued. 

‘And this is a place where you die if you get weaker.’

It was cruel for sure, but the Cult of the Heavenly Demon only needed strong warriors to lead their cult. Not weaklings.

Woon Seong went up and received a booklet along with the other kids that was being handed out by the instructor.

‘The Dark Flower is supposed to be within one’s body and is not yet in bloom, so it represents one’s potential.’



The Red Spirit is one that rages and surges with one’s passion.

The Dark Flower as the medium, will neutralize the ferocity of the Red Spirit but still allow it to show it’s passion.

When the Dark Flower and the Red Spirit meet within one’s self, they will come together and fuse with each other.

The act of combining the Dark Flower with the Red Spirit allows one to temper their passion and potential with each other while creating a balance.

This balance represents a heavenly entity in it’s perfection.

This Heavenly entity that would reach perfection would become the great Heavenly Demon themself!

Any warrior seeing this scripture could not help but be tempted with greed looking at such a high-level technique.

However, Woon Seong boldly curbed aside the greed within himself.

‘I am the apprentice of the Spearmaster Sect, and I will not abandon my roots.’

The Spearmaster Sect’s technique that Woon Seong practiced to gather internal qi was called ‘The Completed Method of the Tempered Orthodox Qi’. The Heavenward Soul and Earthen Body was a technique he used to increase the level of his soul; which in result increased his body’s talent and tempered his body to become a retainer. It was fundamentally a different technique that did not gather any internal qi within the body.

Because of his roots and devotion to his goal and master, it was easy for Woon Seong to abandon his greed for this technique.

But.. that didn’t mean he had to completely give up on the technique. With sudden inspiration, Woon Seong suddenly thought of something incredible!

‘The Dark Flower accumulates the purest demonic qi possible with incredibly fast growth, but the Tempered method of Orthodox Qi boasts the greatest stability. Is there a way to possibly combine the two and create a wholly new method?’

The Dark Flower Red Spirit method had stability, but compared to the Tempered Orthodox Qi method it was lacking.

Combining the two that had naturally opposing natures, would be incredibly difficult. However, if he somehow succeeded with that slim chance, the new method that resulted from it would be incredibly powerful and stable. If it did fuse correctly as well, then it would also have unparalleled synergy.

Plus, having demonic qi was a must when inside the Cult of the Heavenly Demon. If one didn’t have a hint of demonic qi, it would raise suspicion.

Combining the two, would allow Woon Seong to not abandon his roots as an apprentice to the Spearmaster Sect, and also take as much strength that he needed to fulfill his goal of revenge from the Cult.

If he used the same method as before, he would have a very difficult time reaching new heights that were necessary in order to fulfill his goal of revenge.

Either technique here on their own would not be sufficient for him. But combining the two, could give birth to something incredibly powerful!

Furthermore, his life as the apprentice of the Spearmaster was not his current identity. He right now needed to assume the identity of a member of the Cult.

The Spearmaster Sect was devoted only to developing the pinnacle of Spearmanship.


However, the Spearmaster Sect was known for one other thing. Their library was full of techniques. Unlike other Sects, the Spearmaster Sect did not discriminate in gathering knowledge from all sorts of techniques as their goal was to reach the pinnacle of spearmanship. Cultivation techniques were just a means to growth.

‘Let’s take a chance and try it.’

Both cultivation methods were highly stable, so the possibility of suffering any kind of qi deviation or backlash was negligible.

If it didn’t work, he could just give up on learning the Unorthodox Methods inside the Cult.

‘But in order to do this, I’ll have to memorize the passages of the Dark Flower Red Spirit first.’

After closing and opening his eyes, Woon Seong calmly began to memorize the lines within the scripture of the Dark Flower.

It was not too difficult to memorize the lines in the passage.

A total of 30 lines.

To Woon Seong who had loved literature when he was in the Spearmaster Sect, this was a cakewalk.

Plus there were over 100 lines of scripture in the entire Method. Just learning 30 per day was easy enough.

Of course not all the other children would be like that.

More than half of the children did not know how to read, and even if they did, it was not easy for children who knew to memorize all 30 lines of scripture.

What was interesting to Woon Seong is that he could see just how much time and effort the Cult put into developing these talents. Although harsh, they did not hesitate in using as many resources as possible. This was why Woon Seong was surprised that the instructors had actually been already teaching some of the kids in their free time over the past year, how to read earlier on.

However, learning and memorizing the techniques was not easy even for these kids, and as a result, only about 20 kids had been able to leave the hall for lunch.

All of these 20 children went and started a new training after lunch.

Woon Seong was just busy experimenting. He could already feel the movement of qi within his body.

‘I can already sense how this technique moves.’

To actually cultivate qi, it meant one had to find the pathways of the method, open them up with internal qi and then make the qi flow smoothly and cycle it throughout the body.

In general, it would take about two days for a talented child to truly feel the qi from the method coursing throughout their body.

In the case of those who severely lacked talent, it would take probably around 10 days.

Of course, there were only a small number of kids who were just starting to get the basics down and feel their own internal qi. This didn’t mean they could move it around or find their pathways. But it was incredible to even be able to do that with only a few hours of practice.

In the case of Woon Seong, it was not long after waking up in the body of No. 900 that he had already begun to start cultivating internal qi within the body.

The stages of feeling energy had already passed for him.

“Those who feel something cold, hot, or itchy within their body, raise your hand.”

According to the instructor’s instructions, Woon Seong should have raised his hand.

But he didn’t.

It had only been two hours since he had learned the first 30 lines of the scripture.

However if he said he already felt the energy within his body, it would be absolutely ridiculous and preposterous.

What was interesting was that the other kids who had started to develop and feel the energy within themselves also did not raise their hands.

‘No. 17 is also playing coy like myself.’

Woon Seong had already mastered feeling his and others qi in his previous life. Thanks to the technique he was calling ‘intimidation qi’ which hid his internal qi completely, nobody would be able to notice that he was proficient with qi already.

Woon Seong decided that he would raise his hand in about 3 days.

‘I can’t raise it too soon nor do I want to raise it too late. I need to pick somewhere in between.’

Thinking so, Woon Seong again focused on his body.

The energy in his body moved according to the direction and in the specific pathways within his body.

At the same time, he began to slowly wash away the fatigue accumulated while climbing the mountain that morning.

By evening, almost all the fatigue accumulated in his body had disappeared.

After about five days, children who did not know how to read began to learn how to cultivate.

In fact, there were few children who made rapid progression due to their talent, despite not being able to know how to read at first.

In the meantime, time passed slowly.

* * *

Unlike breakfast and lunch, dinner was given fairly without any kinds of condition attached. It was because of the policy that starving from evening to morning could disrupt the next day’s training.

Woon Seong ate his dinner that was given to him and went back to his room.

In the evening, time was given for free training or relaxation, but Woon Seong obviously didn’t want to socialize with kids.

‘What am I supposed to talk about with kids ten years younger than I am?’ (T/N : LMAO)

During the time given, it was much more profitable for Woon Seong to go and practice the Heavenward Soul Earthen body technique to cultivate his talent in secret, and if he had time left, he decided to start experimenting with the combination of the two qi cultivation methods he was referring to earlier.

‘Before completing all the training within the Cave of Latent Demons, I need to be at least first-rate.’

Being able to call one’s self first-rate, they had to be able to channel qi into their weapons and limbs. Although they couldn’t materialize it outside their body, since that was what those at the Peak Realm and above could only do, they could utilize incredible might behind their attacks.

Woon Seong set his goal to become first-rate by the end of the 10 years here. If he couldn’t achieve at least that much, he would never be able to get his revenge.

If he had the power right now, he would go right up to Jwa Do-Gyeul and rip him to pieces after torturing him alive.

As soon as Woon Seong had entered his room and was about to shut his door, someone placed their foot in between the door and the hallway, stopping him from closing the door completely.

With an irritated and uncomfortable look on his face, Woon Seong opened the door and identified the guest who came to his room.

Long, light brown hair that came down to shoulder-length. Neat and tidy clothes despite being in the Cave of Latent Demons.

Woon Seong was irritated at the fact he let somebody sneak up on him without noticing their presence beforehand, but it was the limitations of his current body and he could do nothing about it yet.

“Hi?”

The guest who came to his room was No. 17, The most talented child in the entire Cave of Latent Demons according to both the director, instructors, and even Woon Seong.



Chapter 5 – Fin

Published by betterdays

Just a KR to EN translator trying to get these series published/completed. I have a patreon for Possessing Nothing setup right now. Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon and Reincarnation of the Swordmaster will hopefully have a patreon at a later date.

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