Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon
Translated by : betterdays
8 – The Gates of Life and Death (1)
There was a lot of dense and saturated demonic qi. The demonic qi that unique to the lower depths in the Cave of Latent Demons, oozed out in the area around them.
There were only two torches that were glowing in a tight space that could be used for visibility.
Even with the two sources of light, it was difficult to illuminate the entire cave.
Two gates stood at the very ends of the dark cave.
The entrance to the gates had long been blocked by a large rock in the past.
Woon Seong swallowed his saliva and repeated the name of the place.
“The Gates of Life and Death.’
If you somehow managed to cross the gate, you’ll be able to live. If you don’t, you’ll die then and there.
What the senior instructor said earlier was echoing again in Woon Seong’s head, as he recalled the name of the gate.
“When you enter the gate of life and death, you will surely face a certain crisis that will put you in a life or death situation. It is not simply a crisis that can survive even though you have been training hard so far. Struggle with all your might! If you fail, you will die knowing the pain of being eaten alive.”
“If you can solidify your mentality as a warrior and the body of an adult, you will be stronger. Through this opportunity, you will have the opportunity to achieve even greater heights!”
“Keep in mind, The Cult of the Heavenly Demon is strong. There is no need for those who are weak. Be strong for the Cult, not only in your body but also in your heart. If you do, this Cult of the Heavenly Demon will give you a place to live!”
That’s what the senior instructor said.
There was not a single word in his speech that was useless, or hinting at something further.
‘The pain of being eaten alive, limb by limb.’
Woon Seong noticed from the words, what the hidden hints were in this Gate of Life and Death.
It sounded like there was a good chance it was something to do with an animal of sorts.
In addition, the mentality desired from members of the Cult, was a mentality that did not take joy in killing, but rather was confident with it, if required.
They needed members that would not hesitate.
‘It’s not a problem for me.’
Woon Seong grabbed the spear in his hands.
This time, it wasn’t the same wooden spear he received from the instructors before. It was an iron spear. It was much more durable and could be called a ‘real weapon’.
Woon Seong smiled pleasantly at the sensation of the cold and sharp iron on the tip of the spear. It felt nostalgic to hold a real spear for once, since after his death.
Woon Seong slowly started to arouse his internal qi.
His senses expanded and stretched throughout the cave. At the same time, he could sense the movement of a four-legged animal moving throughout the tunnel.
Out of the darkness of the cave, the beast started to emerge into the full range of Woon Seong’s senses and was visible in plain sight.
Watching it closely, Woon Seong stared at the predatory amber eyes of the beast.
Woon Seong’s eyes flashed. He had already noticed what it was.
It was a Grey Wolf from Mt. Tian Shan!
It was a little smaller in size than a normal wolf, but its movement could not be compared to the average wolf.
On top of that, a tough hide and it’s incredibly powerful legs that could destroy entire tree trunks on their own.
‘At least I have a bit of luck here.’
What was rather lucky for Woon Seong was that it was only a single Grey Wolf. Grey wolves and even normal wolves for that matter, were ten times more dangerous when they were in packs.
However, just because it was by itself did not mean that the Grey Wolf was not dangerous.
‘No wonder they gave me an iron spear.’
If it was a wooden spear, he wouldn’t have been able to pierce his tough skin.
Woon Seong grabbed the spear and coated it roughly with a thin layer of qi.
The Grey Wolf started to circle around Woon Seong looking for an opening.
It observed Woon Seong’s movement around his hips, arms and thighs keenly with it’s glowing amber eyes.
The kinds of actions the wolf was displaying was odd. It wasn’t completely odd to most people, but to Woon Seong who had more than enough combat experience in Murim, he could see something off.
‘It’s been trained to deal with humans.’
To be exact, the wolf had been trained with martial artists, seeing how it reacted to Woon Seong’s movement of internal qi.
Wasn’t the survival rate of this Gate 50 percent like the instructor said earlier?
As Woon Seong observed the wolf closely, he became more certain that the wolf had been trained to fight with martial artists to a proficient degree.
The members of the Cult had been training it behind closed doors for over half a year, just for this trial.
It was only natural that after several beatings and fights, the grey wolf had learned to adapt to the movements of martial arts practitioners.
‘It’s not exactly an easy trial.’
But there was nothing Woon Seong couldn’t do if he truly put his mind to it.
In addition, Woon Seong was now able to use all of his abilities in earnest, since nobody was spectating the trials individually. They were only told to meet at the end of the tunnel past the gate. If they didn’t, then they were assumed dead.
Suddenly a fearsome aura started to emit from Woon Seong’s body.
It was something that frightened any being regardless of their origin if they were weak.
The dark currents of aura started to coat around Woon Seong’s body.
It was the first time he was going to use it in battle since developing the new technique.
The spear in Woon Seong’s hands, started to be coated once more in another layer of the fearsome Intimidation Qi, started to resonate fiercely as if in synchronization with Woon Seong’s very soul.
‘I’ll kill you, beast.’
……and as he lept forwards, Woon Seong’s eyes started to glow with a golden hue.
* * *
“By now, all the children must have been killed or arrived at the Saengsa Temple.”
It was the space provided for those who passed their trials of life and death to rest and eat.
Thus, the trials of Saengsa Temple were divided into two groups.
“Yes, I am. I’m sure they’ve met their opponents by now.”
Sang In-hyo nodded at the words.
The senior instructor took it as a sign of permission to speak further and continued to report.
“As you said, the top 30 children who have been showing better results than the rest have been paired with the alpha wolves instead of the regular grey wolves.”
They were quick to react to human movements, react to qi and were much stronger than other wolves.
In order to kill the grey wolves, it was necessary to press them with a formidable force from the very start, because they had the tendency of learning how to adapt to their opponents incredibly quickly and getting stronger due to their endless stamina.
“Will the other children survive?”
“For children who are descendants of direct cult members, or children who have known some degree of martial arts prior to coming here; they are probably quite likely to survive.”
“Otherwise, more than half will die.”
In fact, Sang In-hyo was expecting about half of the children to die through the Trials of Life and Death.
It was no exception even for the children who stood out, since they had been paired with the alpha wolves of the grey wolves.
“But if they survive, they’ll be more than just a regular old member of the Cult!’
It was a strong gamble. High risk for high rewards
Only the strong would survive and enjoy the benefits of passing.
For those who didn’t?
‘It was just the necessary sacrifice, since they can’t be a help to the Cult.’
In the process, this Trial created a new kind of mentality within those that might be still soft-hearted. Kill or be killed.
The children who survived, were likely to become strong figures for the cult.
‘The future of the Cult is looking better and better.’
Sang In-Hyo smiled at the thought of it.
The most important results were for the thirty people who would face the alphas of the grey wolves.
No. 1, No. 17 and No. 109 would pass easily.
Among the others, the ones who were originally learning martial arts prior to coming here would pass somehow.
But, there would be some children who didn’t.
Most of them were children who stood out due to their initial talent, but got lazy and complacent with their training.
Then suddenly, one particular child came to Sang In-hyo’s mind.
No. 900 who was at the bottom of all standards, and most outsiders would think it was a miracle that such a low numbered child had survived this long in the Cave of Latent Demons.
In addition, he was showing incredible achievements that even No. 1 wasn’t able to pull off.
Last time, a senior instructor he had managed had said, “If it were him, it would be easy to pass the trial.”
But, that would have been the situation if he were in a regular trial.
No. 900 was placed in the same temple as the strongest 30 individuals.
The lowest number to survive till now, even when compared to past generations, was placing in the top 30 of children.
“I’m ooking forward to it, No. 900.”
Would he be able to pass it easily? Or would he pass with difficulty?
Sang In-Hyo for some reason just felt that there was no way No 900 would not pass. This thought even intrigued him since he wasn’t sure why he was so confident in such an abnormal child.
But regardless, he just needed to see the results soon.
* * *
The grey wolf in front of Woon Seong was bleeding just a little bit.
The distance between the two was about 5 meters.
The two didn’t dare take their eyes off each other, just staring at the other with wary eyes from that distance.
The Intimidation Qi that Woon Seong had planned to use for the first strike, was nowhere to be seen.
‘I was thinking of killing it in one attack using the intimidation qi, but it would be a waste to not use this opportunity to practice my martial arts away from prying eyes.’
He changed his mind.
He really had been feeling restrained having to hide his true talent, even while standing out.
Therefore, he really wanted to try and see what he was currently capable of without any special techniques.
He didn’t even circulate his internal qi.
If he did that, he would have slaughtered the alpha wolf a long time ago.
He wanted to find out how much stronger he had become in this body with just his 5 senses and nothing else but his spear.
The body of the Woon Seong, who finished his thoughts, moved like lightning.
By kicking the floor with a sharp movement, he moved the spear with intensity and unfolded his advanced techniques he had learned within the Spearmaster Sect. Not the basic moves they were taught with the manuals within the Cult.
Woon Seong twirled the spear as it got close, using the centripetal force to slash at the wolf with greater strength.
The alpha wolf felt that something was different and retreated from Woon Seong immediately.
Leaping on all fours it jumped back and started to run around Woon Seong at high speeds in a circular motion in an attempt to confuse his senses.
Yet Woon Seong knew where it was.
As soon as Woon Seong felt the direction of the air change, he tilted his waist and body backwards but felt a slight sting on his left cheek.
The air was pushed out and a terrible tension was imminent.
Woon Seong felt angered that it had managed to wound him since it had become desperate and made moves that weren’t easy for him to practice with.
Coming back at Woon Seong for another attack, Woon Seong lowered the tip of the spear and stabbed upwards.
He stabbed the eye of the wolf that dared to injure him.
Using his internal qi at this point, since he was pissed that it was time to finish this, he rushed forwards and followed the wolf trying to retreat.
He could see the movements of the wolf in the complete pitch black ends of the passage. No to be fair, it would be that he could ‘feel’ where it was intuitively.
The Grey wolf had stopped a little bit ahead seeing that the exit was blocked off for it.
Woon Seong creeping up on it with devilish eyes, started to envelop the entire space with a surge of Intimidation Qi, sparing no bit of his full strength now.
Woon Seong’s shoulders twitched suddenly and then his figure completely disappeared from his spot.
He reappeared right before the wolf’s snout and a flurry of dark and eerie stabs exploded from his speartip as Woon Seong grinned.
Chapter 8 – Fin