Chapter 304 – First Catastrophe (1)
Translated by : betterdays
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The fire of the candle, shook in the dimly lit room.
Standing opposite each other, Geom-Seong had a thin but hearty smile on his wrinkled face as he looked at Lee Sungmin who was clearly nervous. It was Geom-Seong who had sat down first and invited Lee Sungmin to talk, yet it was completely silent in the room.
All he did, during this awkward silence, was stare directly at Lee Sungmin.
“How your master died…. Can you tell me the details of what happened?”
At the end of the silence, Geom-Seong’s mouth opened.
Lee Sungmin swallowed his breath slightly. The memory was clear, so there was no problem answering the question to the best of his ability as he recalled those events.
But remembering those events still bothered him on an emotional level.
“Are you in pain?”
“……No..I’m alright, thank you.”
To the question of Geom-Seong, Lee Sungmin answered with a shallow voice. There was no reason to lie, so Lee Sungmin told Geom-Seong everything about what happened in the North.
Lee Sungmin did not focus only on the death of his master when recounting the events of the North to Geom-Seong. Geniella, the Vampire Queen, was part of the original reason they went North in the first place, and she had told his master that he would die in the future she saw.
The long story was eventually over. Geom-Seong listened to everything in an undisturbed manner during the time that Lee Sungmin spoke to him.
Reflecting on the story that ended with Sima Ryunju’s death, Geom-Seong closed his eyes.
“Is it ascension or something similar?”
Geom-Seong murmured to himself in a quiet voice.
“Ascension ……… to a higher level…?”
“To put it simply, I think he must have ascended this realm at the last moments before his death. Chet- I didn’t expect Sima Ryunju, the Demonic Emperor, to go first when nobody in the history of this world has managed to do it. If what you’re saying is true, then Sima Ryunju was truly the strongest man in this entire world.”
There was no feeling of hesitation in Geom-Seong’s voice when he declared Sima Ryunju as the strongest.
“No, it’s not entirely impossible for others to do the same though… If anything, he just made the path clear. I truly must congratulate him for that.”
After smiling and praising Sima Ryunju, Geom-Seong opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling.
“Do you blame Beyond the Heavens for what happened?”
“What kind of answer do you want to hear from me?”
“A simple one. One without hiding your emotions and your truth.”
“I resent them.”
“Of course that would be the case.”
At Lee Sung-min’s answer, Geomseon grinned.
“But in the end, what you want is the same. Neither you nor Musin want the ending that this world has been fated to have.”
“Did you hear that from the Guild Master of the Wizard Guild?”
“It was an interesting story, indeed.”
Geom-Seong nodded his head as he confirmed Lee Sungmin’s guess.
“The existence of Beyond the Heavens as an organization, is already a contradiction in itself. They aim to create a world for humans only, and thus prevent the end of the world that is set in stone by granting free will. On that subject, they move in accordance with the will of the Heavenly Spirit, not with their own will.”
“…The Heavenly Spirit is a strange being.”
Geom-Seong also agreed with Lee Sungmin’s conjecture. No matter how hard one thought about it, the Heavenly Spirit was a very questionable existence, whose actions did not support its own cause. Just what was the will of the Heavenly Spirit? Furthermore, why did it come forward and grant its transcendent powers of a God to a human being, just to kill Sima Ryunju?”
“Musin is nothing but a puppet.”
“So far, the Heavenly Spirit, which is trying to stop the Apocalyptic End, is really displaying actions in favor of the Apocalypse. Although Musin seems to think his actions are preventing the End and therefore, helping him save the world.”
“Then… what about you? What kind of ending are you trying to pursue?”
“If the apocalypse is of a preventable nature, then it must be stopped…. But the only problem is that this old man can’t leave the Wudang Mountain Range.”
Lee Sungmin’s eyebrows twitched at Geom-Seong’s murmuring.
“What the hell are you saying?!”
“I’ve become a cripple.”
Cripple. Lee Sungmin heard the words he would never expect to come out of the mouth of a Martial Artist of the highest level. Geom-Seong continued to speak to Lee Sungmin, who clearly was surprised.
“It was back when I was younger and ambitious. But my ambitions turned into greed. I tried to go further and further, but it didn’t end well. In the end, the result was as follows : I was crippled, my dantian was destroyed and I was forced to live in a body that was mine, yet not mine.”
“What kind of nonsense are you talking about…?”
“It sounds ridiculous, I know. But, I’m not lying to you.”
Geom-Seong shook his head.
“Kid, this old man was once at a very high level, and I slipped through the cracks from a very high cliff. The only reason I did not die that day was because I made a deal with a god to maintain my life and martial arts… and even grow still, but I would be confined to this mountain range for the rest of my time.”
“Why do you think you have never heard of myself leaving the Wudang Mountain Range? Did you really think I just boringly train here for that reason alone?”
Lee Sungmin failed to come up with an answer when asked by Geom-Seong with a bitter smile.
“Because of these circumstances…. I cannot step up to the plate. That’s why I focused on nurturing my students all this time instead of taking action myself. Cheon-Myeong…… He is more talented than anyone I have ever seen. But it’s unfortunately still not enough. It’s impossible for a child who is weaker than you to stop the End, let alone someone as strong as you right now.”
It was frustrating, but not something anybody could fix. Lee Sungmin clenched his fist.
Did Sima Ryunju expect that Geom-Seong would be willing to cooperate? At the very least, it would have at least been helpful if Geom-Seong could help from afar, but even he could not do that!
“Are you disappointed in this old man?”
“…a little bit.”
“Huhuhuhu…! I’m sure even your master did not expect that I was nothing but a conditional cripple that was trapped in the walls of his own sect.”
“Yes, but you can do something about itl.”
“I don’t know what to do….”
said Geom-Seong with a smile.
All of a sudden.
Lee Sungmin’s expression hardened as he felt a deathly and ominous presence of a blade creeping up his spine. When he tried to stand up from his seat, Geom-Seong opened his mouth.
The sword that laid inside of its sheath at Geom-Seong’s waist, did not move in the slightest. The Dark Storm Arts was meaningless in front of such an absolute being of strength.
Even if he was only able to move and live his daily life on a mountain, it was safe to say that nothing could live here unless Geom-Seong allowed it. Even if he was a cripple outside, Geom-Seong was the dictator of strength in such a territory.
“You were inside of my range from the moment you entered the mountain range. Your neck would have fallen dozens- no, hundreds of times if this old man had made up his mind.”
“Are you going to kill me now?”
“You are the only disciple left that could possibly carry on Sima Ryunju’s legacy. I asked you to sit down so I could hear about Sima Ryunju’s death. And now, I think I have to decide.”
“Whether you want to kill me or not?”
“How many people in the world will be saved if you die. That’s why I do not want the Apocalyptic End to come. I don’t want to see beings die for no reason. It would be pitiful.”
“I want to stop the End that results in the Apocalypse.”
“Can you be sure that you are not the Apostle of the End that brings forth the Apocalypse?”
Geom-Seong asked with a serious expression.
“Didn’t you acknowledge it yourself? Sima Ryunju, my master, was deemed as the one to bring forth the Apocalypse, yet that was under the words of the Heavenly Spirit, which we know is just a scheme.”
“You’re the one who said that you resent the Heavenly Spirit.”
“Yes, I suspect that Musin is acting like a puppet because of the Heavenly Spirit’s tricks and scheming. The reason why Kim Jonghyun was not fully awakened as a true Devil was due to interference from Beyond the Heavens, which made Kim Jonghyun turn into a Devil without a restriction that will allow him to become a Catastrophe for the Apocalypse. I’m sure you know of this.”
“Think about it.”
The eyes of Geom-Seong narrowed.
“The Heavenly Spirit that commands Beyond the Heavens. Haven’t you ever been in touch with it or its ‘fateful’ encounters?”
Lee Sungmin was speechless when Geom-Seong suggested he had contacted the Heavenly Spirit.
There was a time that he had. It was a long time ago in Shaolin.
Ambassador Bulyeong, the Head Monk of the Shaolin. It was a memory that was very distant , since it was over a thousand years ago when taking into account that it had happened before Lee Sungmin had undergone the Trial of Time.
In that time when Lee Sungmin had been staying at the Shaolin, Ambassador Bulyeong had removed the aura of favorability away from his soul for him, and told him about a ‘fateful encounter’ he would have if he traveled North. Ambassador Bulyeong was a good man to Lee Sungmin, but as long as he was part of the Murim Alliance, there was a possibility that he was taking orders from the Heavenly Spirit when he told such things to Lee Sungmin.
“If the Heavenly Spirit is merely using Beyond the Heavens to pursue its own personal agenda, then how are you any different if you have been acting in accordance with the fate of this world?”
Lee Sungmin’s eyes shook greatly. He started to feel a tingle in his arms from the goosebumps he was starting to get.
“Didn’t you also twist fate in your own selfish way? Abel told me what you were like. You were the one who brought forward the End much earlier than it needed to happen with your regression. You could have just lived a normal life peacefully and avoided having this happen. But why did you act the way you did? Did the so-called Heavenly Spirit make you actt?”
There was no such thing as coincidences in this mysterious world.
“Maybe you’re the last Catastrophe for the Apocalypse, have you ever thought about that?”
Lee Sungmin was silent. Geom-Seong’s words were not necessarily incorrect. It was not something that could be denied unconditionally just because he wanted to avoid responsibility.
“So you’re going to kill me then?”
“Well, I told you before… it’s more of a fundamental thing as to why I need to kill you. How can you be so sure you’re any different from Musin or the puppets from Beyond the Heavens?”
“…I’m not sure. But… I am sure of one thing”
“Then, what are you so sure of?”
“That I am me.”
Lee Sungmin replied, grinding his teeth with a firm expression.
“How will you be any different than those who speak empty words of stopping the End?”
“If you’re so worried about all of that, then why do you keep asking me questions? I thought you were set on killing me.”
Lee Sungmin spat out with irritation. He no longer felt the need to continue this conversation with this stubborn and confusing old man as he spoke his words with venom.
“It’s a fundamental reason you say, but you haven’t even attempted to kill me yet. Could it be that you aren’t even capable of doing that?!”
“Huhuhuhuhu! Yes, you’re interesting. Honestly, I don’t know. This old man doesn’t know what your plans are and why the Gods and Devils act the way they do around you. I think your actions are to prevent the End, but I don’t even know if stopping the End is what the Heavenly Spirit or the Gods want. Perhaps the will of the Heavenly Spirit is to prevent it, or maybe it isn’t’t. I don’t think I need to overthink it too much, but when it comes to you, I have no choice but to think so much.”
“You want to avoid the responsibility of making a bad choice.”
Lee Sungmin sprang up from his seat with irritation as he berated Geom-Seong, who was doing nothing but annoying him at this point.
“If you think it’s right to kill me, then you should kill me. But, you’re not even sure of yourself whether you want to kill me or not. I don’t know what you want and it seems you don’t either. This conversation has gone on long enough, I don’t need to keep being in such pointless things.”
“You’re really trying to grate my nerves, aren’t ya kid?.”
Geom-Seong laughed. The bone-chilling aura that resembled a blade to Lee Sungmin’s throat, disappeared.
“I wanted to know more about you kid. You are the only disciple of that man, the Demonic Emperor. You’re trying to stop the End, but you’re also aware that you, yourself could be a part of these so-called catastrophes. I’ve decided. I won’t kill you or bother you anymore on that topic. All I hope is that you don’t make me regret this decision down the line.”
Lee Sungmin did not answer and glared at Geom-Seong. Geom-Seong, noticing this, continued to speak as he took on Lee Sungmin’s glare filled with contempt.
“This old man knows that your existence is special. You may be an Apostle of the End that is in contact with the Heavenly Spirit, but your stance on all of this is hard not to follow. It’s very hard, even for an old man like me, to know what others are thinking these days.”
“Just do what you want to do.”
Lee Sungmin calmed himself down, and continued.
“I’m just trying to do what I want to do, too. If you try to stop me, I have no choice but to try my best to escape from here.”
“Are you saying you can escape from these mountains even if I am determined to kill you?”
“Don’t look down on me.”
Lee Sungmin’s golden eyes flashed with ferocity.
The internal energies that were making up his power within his dantian, started to writhe and wriggle as they started to churn. A purple current of electricity started to splash around the shoulders of Lee Sungmin as he said all this.
The Dark Storm Arts was starting to show its true capacity the more and more Lee Sungmin started to use his newfound knowledge and martial arts after consuming his master’s heart.
“I’m not sure if I can kill you while you are still on this mountain. But, that is mainly due to the reason that I don’t think that someone at my master’s level would die so easily. But if you really wanted to kill me, it would not be hard for me to kill over half of the people living on this mountain even with you chasing after me.”
The harsh words and underlying threat from Lee Sungmin made Geom-Seong laugh.
“Are you threatening this old man?”
“It doesn’t matter if I am, does it? According to your own words, isn’t it better if there are no meaningless deaths?”
“Stop it. This old man won’t kill you. I do not have many lingering attachments left in my life, but an innocent disciple’s death would bear much heavier on my heart than my own death.”
“…Why is Shaolin’s Jihak and the Sword Dragon of the Namgung Family here?”
“Because I wanted to leave behind some possibilities for the future.”
Geom-Seong smiled brightly.
“Leaving the End of this World aside, I wanted to help pave a future forward for the next generation if time will permit it.”
“…You want to leave behind a future, when there might not even be one?”
“It was too much of a waste to leave such talent just lying to the side. Those two would be destined to be great if they only had the right environment. I merely wanted to provide such an environment for such capable people.”
“If they were sent by the Head Monk of the Shaolin, it might be orders from the Heavenly Spirit, as you said.”
“Well, you don;t need to worry about that. My reason for them being here is the same reason I didn’t kill you.”
Geom-Seong closed his eyes.
“I don’t want to trample on the buds that have yet to sprout.”
At the words, Lee Sungmin quietly lowered his vigilance against Geom-Seong and stopped rousing his internal energy. Geom-Seong peeked at Lee Sungmin with one of his half-closed eyes as he noticed this.
“You’re doing a great job with the martial arts your master left behind for you.”
“……It’s because I’ve received a lot of help from him, and… he was my master for a reason.”
Lee Sungmin turned around as he muttered the words in an ashamed tone of voice. There was no more to talk about with Geom-Seong now that he had finished his business here. He wanted to say hello to Namgung Heewon, but time would not permit it as there were many things still left to do if he wanted to prevent the End.
When Lee Sungmin was about to leave the room where he and Geom-Seong were talking, the closed door suddenly cracked open with a bang.
Abel, who was running in with an urgent look on his face, looked surprised when he saw Lee Sungmin. But, the news Abel came with, did not even allow him to waste his words and give greetings.
As the words flew out of Abel’s mouth, Geom-Seong raised himself up slowly.
Chapter 304 – Fin
T/N : I got 3 weeks of 6 day work weeks (6/7 days of the week I’m working full time to get money for my rent and school which is coming up) so PN chapters come and go but, I’m trying to shoot for 2-3 a week if possible with this series, since I’ve always loved it, you don’t have to ever worry about this series being dropped.
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(even the tiniest amount helps a lot! Thanks for everyone who’s been amazingly supportive even if its just the small comments at the end of chapters – they really make my day 🙂 )