Chapter 36. The Dragon’s Gift
[The time is now.]
Soon, the thousand years of waiting will finally be over.
The imugi looked down at Cho Ryu Hyang. Cho Ryu Hyang, too, was looking at the imugi. It was the appointed time, but it wasn’t guaranteed that the gates of heaven would open. Even an imugi that lived for thousands of years wouldn’t be able to predict that.
But there was one thing that was clear. This was the last chance for the imugi.
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded. He stopped breathing, and extended his hands outwards.
He was putting his hands inside the Reversed Scale.
The scale let out a horrific sound. And when Cho Ryu Hyang heard it, he became a little confused.
‘The array is different?’
The order of the numbers were slightly different from the original. What happened? Did he memorize wrongly?
He could hear Zhuge Liang talk in his mind.
[Trust your calculations, greenhorn. Don’t be intimidated just because its outer appearance changed a bit. After all, the true form of this thing never changed.]
Cho Ryu Hyang came back to his mind.
Didn’t he see the true form of the Reversed Scale a while back, and found the answer from it? The numbers in the Reversed Scale might’ve moved around a bit, but there was no time to be concerned about that.
‘I need to finish this as quick as possible.’
Anxiety made Cho Ryu Hyang hurry. His hands inside the scale began to move around quickly. The hands mixed the numbers around, or gathered unneeded numbers to throw them away.
Every time Cho Ryu Hyang made such a move, the imugi trembled as if struck by lightning. Cho Ryu Hyang could clearly feel the imugi’s pain.
‘A little more…….’
Cho Ryu Hyang grit his teeth. His face was turning red from holding his breath, but the moment before he reached his limit, he managed to carve out something out of the Reversed Scale. It was a glowing ball of light. When he unknowingly stretched his hand out to the ball, he could hear something.
A sound of the heartbeat. Cho Ryu Hyang, who forgot to even breathe, stared at the sphere in his hand.
It was a Dragon Ball. A ball that was emitting a golden light. When he brought the ball outside the scale it was in, the whole cave began to tremble.
The ceiling shook, and the ground trembled violently as if it was enraged.
The cave and the Dragon Ball were rejecting each other.
[Thank you, human.]
The imugi looked upon the Dragon Ball in the boy’s hands with a face of happiness. The Dragon Ball started to slowly lift up into space. While Cho Ryu Hyang and Jo Gi Chun was looking at that with a daze, the imugi ate the ball.
A bright light, resembling that of the sun, suddenly shone out of the imugi’s mouth with a sharp noise.
Cho Ryu Hyang closed his eyes on reflex. When he opened them, his mouth fell in surprise. The Dragon Ball, which was previously the size of a child’s fist turned into a giant globe that fit the imugi’s mouth.
[The promise was fulfilled.]
When the imugi said that, its body began to emit a 5-colored light. This light covered the entire cave, and even stretched all the way to the ceiling.
The beam of light stretched all the way to the sky. When it did so, heaven immediately responded. An immense amount of rain and thunder began to descend.
The imugi smiled while getting drenched in by all the rain. Unlike the past, the gates of heaven opened this time.
It’s been a long time.
It writhed once, and its black scales fell apart to reveal the divine, golden scales hidden beneath. The reddish horns soon turned milky white, and the imugi was filled with energy. Its size expanded by three times. The imugi, who turned big enough to fill the entire cave, made a confused face.
‘The transformation isn’t over?’
Normally, an imugi’s transformation would end here.
But the body kept sending strange signals. There was something at the back, itching to get outside.
The imugi thought for a bit. Should it try to ascend now, ignoring that itch? Or should it accept the changes the body is trying to go through?
It didn’t think for too long. The imugi inhaled, and put its power into its back. It decided to go through the changes at once, and then ascend.
The imugi felt violent pain in its back as the flesh and scale torn apart. But the pain didn’t last long. Soon, it felt a cool, comforting sensation run in its body.
Cho Ryu Hyang and Jo Gi Chun both signed in amazement. Zhuge Liang, who saw the spectacle, whispered under his breath.
[……..You became an Yinglong?]
Yinglong (應龍). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yinglong)
It was a legendary divine creature (神獸), the king of dragons, whose power was so strong that it could encompass the whole world.
The imugi, who had frowned just a moment ago, became a little confused when it finished transforming. It had a pair of bat wings on its back. The imugi knew what this meant more than anyone.
When the wings were spread open, it covered the entire cave.
The imugi. Tian Nu seemed to be in a daze for a moment. Its life as a suffering imugi was coming back to it in a flashback. Then, it suddenly looked down on Cho Ryu Hyang from the middle of the beam of light, and opened its mouth.
[You have the right to take what is sealed inside here.]
Something sealed inside?
The imugi smiled mischievously as Cho Ryu Hyang made a confused expression.
[It will be a perfect reward for you.]
That was all it said. Cho Ryu Hyang, who was about to ask a question, had to block his ears. That was because the imugi looked up at the sky, and began to shout.
Dragon Chant (龍吟).
That was the name of the sound that a dragon makes before ascending. When the dragon let out that sound the sky and the earth both began to let out a sound.
Cho Ryu Hyang became shocked by the fact that his body, too, was letting out a sound. The imugi that became a dragon let out that sound for a while, then began to flap its wings.
The wings let out a sound of cool, refreshing air that couldn’t be heard by any wind. Tian Nu began to ascend. It was ascending up to the heavens, piercing through thunder and lightning.
The divine dragon that was ascending to heaven. That sight gave a feeling that couldn’t be explained by words. Jo Gi Chun and Cho Ryu Hyang looked at the sight from down below. They were looking at it until the last remains of the dragon completely disappeared. Just how much time had passed?
The dragon already ascended, but it was still raining. Jo Gi Chun and Cho Ryu Hyang weren’t minding the rain, however. They were in too much of a daze to even notice it. When the column of light disappeared, and the surroundings were filled with the sound of the rain, Jo Gi Chun spoke.
“The pond is dry.”
Cho Ryu Hyang took his glasses off, and turned his head. He was immediately greeted by a dried up pond. And at the middle of that pond was a small box.
“That must be the reward the imugi mentioned.”
Just what was inside? Cho Ryu Hyang and Jo Gi Chun approached the box.
They took the box, and brought it under a part of a stone cliff where there was no rain.
“I’ll open it.”
Jo Gi Chun nodded when Cho Ryu Hyang spoke.
Was this really something the imugi, no, the dragon left behind? When he opened the box with excitement, he could see a single book, and a purple orb that was filled with cracks.
『Moon Edge Blade Technique (月刃刀法)』
The name that was written on the book. Cho Ryu Hyang realized that this was the book that Gongson Chun Gi mentioned a while ago.
‘Didn’t he say about 10,000 people were fighting for the acquisition of this book?’
The book was that valuable.
“The Pope will be happy.”
Wasn’t this something that Gongson Chun Gi was desperately trying to get? Cho Ryu Hyang did not care about how much value this book held, but still put it in his pocket.
The problem was the ball. Cho Ryu Hyang looked at the ball that was emitting purple light, and then looked at Jo Gi Chun.
“I don’t know…….”
It was something that the imugi gave him. Something that the imugi gave as a reward. It probably was something profound.
“I’ll just take it for now.”
Cho Ryu Hyang grabbed the orb with his bare hands.
He felt a little spark. When Cho Ryu Hyang reflexively tried to pull back, the purple orb emitted a bluish-purple lightning that came at him.
The lightning mercilessly pierced through Cho Ryu Hyang’s body.
Jo Gi Chun ran to the boy with a surprised face, but the only thing he could do was to stop the boy from falling.
“J, just what…….”
Jo Gi Chun had a serious expression on his face. Cho Ryu Hyang was currently trembling, as if he was struck by real lightning. And seeing that the boy’s body jerked violently every now and then, the boy took a serious blow. While Jo Gi Chun was making a confused face, someone came up from the ground.
“W, what happened? What happened to the young lord?”
Jo Gi Chun became surprised by the man who came out of nowhere, but soon settled down once he realized that this man was someone he knew.
It was the Guardian of the Heavenly Demon Church, Ju Sang San. The man looked dirty and miserable, but seeing the man’s face made Jo Gi Chun feel relieved.
“I don’t know. He touched a strange orb and fainted.”
“Just a moment, please…….”
Ju Sang San quickly examined the boy’s pulse, and frowned.
The pulse was irregular. It seemed that the body was shocked by something powerful. And that pulse wasn’t very strong, either. Ju Sang San made a stiff face, and opened his mouth.
“Let’s head back to the base.”
When Ju Sang San took Cho Ryu Hyang on his back and tried to leave, however, he sensed something. Ju Sang San looked back. There was someone there.
“Eh? What’s this? I found a bigger fish than expected?”
Ju Sang San frowned. There was a smiling young man in white clothes in front. That man was a person everyone would know if they were involved in martial arts. It was one of the member of the fifteen guests.
Ju Sang San ground his teeth as he talked.
“Lion Sword King? What the hell are you doing here?”
The one who was to inherit the Alliance after the Dao Emperor, the Lion Sword King Yu Sul Bin, appeared.
What made everything worse was the fact that the man didn’t come alone. The seven elders who were slowly approaching them in a slow trot. Seeing them made Ju Sang San’s face twist greatly.
‘Damn it, he brought the Martial Seven Stars, too?’
The Alliance had seven experts that were extremely close to getting to the Harmonious Stage. That was the Martial Seven Stars, the hidden force of the Alliance. To think that all seven of them would be here.
‘What should I do?’
Ju Sang San quickly tried to think of something. If he tried to escape here alone, he probably could. But with the young lord?
‘Can I do it?’
He would barely make it. When he thought that much, though, he realized that there was Jo Gi Chun, too.
“Don’t worry about me.”
When Jo Gi Chun said this, Ju Sang San could feel a chill go down his spine. He turned back to stare at Jo Gi Chun in shock.
“I lived enough already. Just think of letting this boy live.”
This old man was already prepared for death, even before he said anything, huh? Ju Sang San’s face became complicated, but he soon just smirked.
“Don’t look down on me like that.”
Ju Sang San carefully lay Cho Ryu Hyang on the ground. He gave up entirely on escaping. But he couldn’t let himself be killed easily. Ju Sang San turned around, and grinned.
“Just what did you come here for, anyways? Lion Blade King.”
Yu Sul Bin smiled. While Ju Sang San was thinking of what to do, he, too, was scanning the area with his sense, and made sure that there was no one around.
Ju Sang San, the Blood Sound Demon. Other than that old man, there was no one else to be worried about. This was almost a chance given to him from heaven. If he lost this one chance to kill that old man, just how many more would that old monster kill?
“Don’t you know why?”
Yu Sul Bin looked around the wrecked surroundings, and grinned.
“Where’s the goods? I’ll kill you without pain if you just give me that.”
“Goods? What goods?”
When Ju Sang San pretended to not know anything, Yu Sul Bin exploded in a fit of laughter.
“Puhah! Let’s not make this any more complicated, yeah? You know what I’m talking about.”
It seemed that this guy already knew everything. He probably came knowing that this was the tomb of Ak Jung Pae.
Ju Sang San shouted with an angry face.
“You bastard. You really don’t have any matters, eh? Don’t you have to show at least some respect to your elders? Just what do they teach over there at the Alliance?”
Yu Sul Bin laughed. It seemed that he was dumbfounded by Ju Sang San’s words.
“Kukuku, I’m not low enough to pay respects to a small fry from the Demon Church, you see.”
“You… you really are brave to the point of idiocy.”
“Of course. I’d have no problems handling you alone, but I also have the elders from headquarters, too. It wouldn’t make sense if I wasn’t feeling particularly brave.”
It was all true. Ju Sang San could only swear in his mind, and look for an opening.
Then. Jo Gi Chun, who had been doing something on his own this whole time, whispered to Ju Sang San.
“After three seconds, run forward.”
What’s this? Did that old man have a plan?
Ju Sang San was torn. Should he trust Jo Gi Chun and move?
Jo Gi Chun was slowly counting, disregarding Ju Sang San’s thoughts on the matter. Yu Sul Bin, who was looking at them, spoke with a confused face.
“By the way, who’s that kid and the old man over there? Do you know them?”
The moment Jo Gi Chun uttered that word, Ju Sang San shot forward like an arrow.
“Shit! Fuck! Damn!”
He decided to trust Jo Gi Chun.