93 – Heading to Zhongyuan (1)

Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon
Chapter 93 – Heading to Zhongyuan (1)
Translated by : moonchildkhz

***

Just like Sang Gwan-chuk requested, two weeks passed by.

During that time, Woon-seong finalized his preparations for the trip to Zhongyuan.

Basic necessities could be used and bought along the way, but he packed a few food supplies and extra items just in case.

For example, clothing.

Aside from the simple robe Woon-seong was wearing, he’d also packed a few other comfortable sets. 

Being impervious to heat and cold, temperature was not an issue for Woon-seong. However, he packed a few winter clothes so that he would not stand out too much. 

If a young man, barely in his twenties, was wandering around with thin clothes during the winter, people would look at him with suspicion.

By the time he’d stuffed everything into a bag, the Strategist had arrived. 

“It’s already time.”

“I did my best to prepare myself during the two weeks. I hope I didn’t miss anything.”

The Strategist smiled. It seemed like Woon-seong was almost daring him to nitpick. 

Either way, his gaze turned to Woon-seong’s sleeves. 

“Are you planning to wear your bracers?”

Woon-seong nodded. “Of course. There’s no reason to let go of my training during the journey.”

Ever since he entered the Semi-Divine Realm, his bracers have become heavier. It would be safe to assume he’s practically holding a full grown man on each of his limbs. 

And the fact that he’s moving so naturally with so much weight…

It must mean that his qi is thoroughly distributed throughout his body, making such strength second nature. 

Sang Gwan-chuk was an outstanding martial artist, but he was unable to compare. 

The Heavenly Demon is the Heavenly Demon. I doubt anyone can deny his qualifications. 

The Strategist stuck his tongue out in thought. 

It was then that Woon-seong asked a question. 

“Did you end the preparations on your side?”

Sang Gwan-chuk swallowed. It was for that exact reason that he had visited the palace today. 

“May you allow a person to enter the Divine Palace?”

Instead of answering aloud, Woon-seong expressed permission with a wave of his hands. 

“You may come in.”

As soon as the Strategist spoke, someone came inside. The moment their eyes met, Woon-seong shivered slightly. 

Height and face. 

Even the way they dressed and walked. 

The new arrival looked very similar to Hyuk Woon-seong. 

The visitor approached Woon-seong and bowed. “I present myself to the leader of the Divine Cult.”

Woon-seong stared at the man with an expression that said, ‘who the hell is this guy?’

Sang Gwan-chuk spoke with a confident expression: “He’s nowhere near you in terms of martial arts, but I made sure he perfectly replicated your habits and appearance. He’s not perfect, but while you’re away, nobody will realize the fact that you are gone.”

“So you’re setting a stand-in.”

“I found it necessary, considering how much impact your leave would bring. The previous leaders have also used stand-ins for similar situations.”

Woon-seong nodded and stared at his stand-in with a scrutinizing gaze. 

Hmm. It is remarkable how much he resembles me. It’s like watching my own twin brother.

The stand-in even had a spear strapped to his back. 

Is that a replica of the White Night Spear?

As Woon-seong stared at the replica spear, the real White Night Spear cried as if it found itself being replicated offensive. 

Ah. I see it’s made so elaborately that even my spear is reacting to it. 

The White Night Spear stopped crying once Woon-seong patted it slightly. 

“I have to admit it. He’s just like me.”

The young man standing in front of Woon-seong lowered his head even more. This was not from embarrassment, but from panic. 

Woon-seong approached the young man and patted him on the shoulder. 

“I’ll leave things to you then.”

Both the young man and the Strategist replied at the same time: “Yes, sir!”

The Strategist raised his head first. As Woon-seong left, he gave a meaningful look. 

— Leader. Before you leave, I have combined the information that has come in from Zhongyuan. 

Woon-seong titled his head, as if to ask what it was. 

Looking at him, Sang Gwan-chuk curled his lips and transmitted another message.

— I cannot verify how much of Do Jin-myung’s words are true, but it seems true that the Emperor is rather eccentric. So the Sage of Earth and Sky wasn’t simply spitting lies…

— Still… that changes nothing. The things I need to do, should do, and will do… None of it has changed. 

***

“Hmmm.”

Chun A-young stared at the iron bracers in front of her. 

It was hard to say how heavy they were at first glance, but they were undoubtedly heavy. 

There were a total of four. 

She picked one of them up, testing it on her left arm. 

“Ugh!”

She immediately stumbled and had to grab her wrist. 

It’s almost like my arm is getting ripped off…

Instinctively, she circulated her qi. With that, she felt a little better. 

A weight I can barely hold if I don’t use my qi. 

Soon, she felt cold sweat drip down her neck. 

He wore bracers like these everyday?

It reminded her of what Woon-seong had said while giving her the iron rings. 

“I wore bracers twice the weight of that.”

He has been bearing this much weight for such a long time…

If he’s not lying, it’s incredible…

One of those was already heavy, but four of them?!

This reminds me of the days back in the Cave of Latent Demons. 

Remembering those times, Chun A-young forced herself to wear all of the iron rings. 

The additional weight was a clear sensation, like gravity pressing against her whole body. 

Without using qi, I can barely even move a step…

He said that the combined weight of the bracers should be roughly equal to the weight of two full-grown men. 

A training where I constantly carry two men, without using qi and only my physical strength…

I guess this will strengthen my body alright. 

A-young bit her lips. 

When she had asked Woon-seong to teach her martial arts, he had preached about crossing the limits of the human body first. 

“Training martial arts starts with expanding the capacity of your body. Your body is the container that holds martial arts.”

Woon-seong’s theory was that the stronger and harder the container, the more capable it would become in holding a grand martial art.

The words of Woon-seong, who started as Number 900 in the Cave of Latent Demons and ascended to the throne of the Heavenly Demon… 

It would be foolish to take those words lightly. 

However…

“How long do I have to do this?” A-young had asked him. For her, this was basic training. What she wanted to learn was advanced martial arts. 

At that time, Woon-seong had replied: 

“When you can comfortably move without using qi, when the bracers on your limbs start feeling less cumbersome, start increasing their weight, 3.75kgs at a time. If you can move comfortably with a total of 225kgs within a year, I’ll start to teach you martial arts.”

A-young clenched her fists. 

She was the daughter of the former Heavenly Demon and the Divine Maiden of the Cult. 

If I was going to be dragged down by this kind of training, I wouldn’t have entered the Cave of Demons by myself in the first place!

Plus, she had a goal to achieve.

Her eyes blazed with fighting spirit. 

I will make it happen.

A year. 

225kgs. 

That would be her first target.

***

Woon-seoong lit a small fire and sat before it with his eyes closed. 

The conversation he had with the Strategist a few days ago came to mind. 

Patting his pockets, he pulled something out. 

It was a wooden name card, with words engraved into it. 

Righteous Cry Sect of the Guangdong Province. 

Disciple Hyuk Woon-seong. 

That was the identity Woon-seong would be using in the outside world. 

If I remember correctly, the Righteous Cry Sect is another name for the Cult’s Guangdong branch. 

They should also be informed by now. 

A letter must have been sent there by now, stating that someone important to the Cult would be borrowing their name in Zhongyuan. 

He didn’t even have to change his name. 

The name ‘Hyuk Woon-seong’ was quite common. 

No one would recognize it as the name of the new leader of the Cult of the Heavenly Demon. 

Or as the name of the dead apprentice of the Spear Master Sect. 

Well, there was a chance. 

But…

Even if they did, there’s no reason for them to connect it to me. 

Just like that, Hyuk Woon-seong had gained another identity.

A cool wind blowing caused him to reopen his eyes. The flames swayed with the wind. 

He looked up at the sky. Judging from the shape of the moon, the end of the month was coming soon. 

It was around that time that some people approached the fire-pit. 

“Oh, I was correct. There is a person.”

Woon-seong turned to look at them.

Although a bit charred and dusty, the clothing the group wore was quite expensive.

There was a trail of carts behind, which were accompanied by some more men. 

A merchant guild and a courier group?

A flag that said ‘Four Sea Courier Group’ billowed in the wind, proving Woon-seong’s assumptions correct. 

Unlike the magnificent sounding name, it did not seem to be a very large company. 

I’ve never seen them in my past life. 

Maybe it’s a new group which appeared while I was in the Cult. 

Or perhaps it was a group that only traded with specific groups and locations. 

While Woon-seong thought about it, a representative of the arrivals approached him. 

“This young mister. If you don’t mind, may we camp beside you?”

Woon-seong nodded. 

Merchants travelled as groups to protect themselves against monsters and bandits. 

While Woon-seong looked young, the spear on his back meant that he was a martial artist. 

A young martial artist was better than nothing, since a split second could mean the difference between life and death. 

Seeing that Woon-seong had given his permission, the man immediately shouted at the others. “Everyone, come rest here!”

Afterwards, he settled across from Woon-seong. “Thank you…”

Woon-seong closed his eyes. He did not want to talk with people he had never met before. 

The man kept talking, not caring about Woon-seong’s silence. 

“Haha! So you’re the quiet type, I see! I’m Un Gwang-gook, the Head Representative of the Four Sea Courier Group.”

What a cheap mouth, unbefitting of a high-ranked representative. Woon-seong reluctantly opened his eyes. “Hyuk Woon-seong, Righteous Cry Sect.”

Maybe he had felt the annoyance in Woon-seong’s curt reply, but Un Gwang-gook grimaced. 

Still, he did not shut up. 

“By the way, where are you heading during a time like this, young sir? I assume you’re heading to Zhongyuan from the outside areas?”

He’s quite talkative… Woon-seong sighed. “I am heading towards Gansu for now.”

At that, Representative Un had a reflective look on his face. “Gansu, eh? Then that means you’re going to the Jade Gate [1].”

“That is correct.”

“Then do you know that there are mountain bandits near that place?”

Woon-seong eyes widened slightly. 

Looking at his face, Representative Un chuckled. “It looks like you didn’t. So that’s why you were traveling alone. Going through these mountains alone is dangerous. You should go with us.”

Woon-seong had been startled for a completely different reason.

The Jade Gate was located near Xinjiang. 

Technically, it was in the Cult of the Heavenly Demon’s territory. However, being so close to Zhongyuan, it was poorly managed by the Cult. 

Even so, it was a gateway to Zhongyuan. 

How could the forces of Zhongyuan leave the bandits be?

“Why aren’t the government forces suppressing them?”

The man shrugged. “I assume they don’t want to mess with problems beyond the Jade Gate. The Imperial Court already has enough problems. I’m sure no one wants to gain attention, especially the powerless officials in such a remote place.”

It was easy to see that the emperor was not some adored figure. 

Woon-seong remembered what Do Jin-myung had been talking about. Does it have to do with the conspiracy happening in the Imperial Palace?

“Enough problems in the Imperial Court? What do you mean?”

“You didn’t know?”

Representative Un looked at the youth with suspicion. He had originally thought that Woon-seong was a man from Murim traveling back to Zhongyuan. 

However, how could he not know that the Imperial Court was having problems?

Woon-seong coughed once. “Ah, I came to Xinjiang with my master when I was young. Now that my master passed away, I’m going back to my hometown alone.”

Woon-seong hoped that explanation cleared the suspicion. After all, it was close to the truth. 

“I see… Then it makes sense you know nothing,” Un Gwang-gook nodded to himself. “It’s been a while since His Majesty, who was once praised as a wise emperor, started to turn strange.”


[1] The Jade Gate, or Yümen Pass, is the name of a pass of the Great Wall located in the western side of the Gansu Province. 

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Published by moonchildkhz

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