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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!

“Chengdu,” Tang Gi-Mun exclaimed joyfully as he took in the familiar sights. Colorful streets stretched out before him, lined with countless shops bustling with people coming and going.

For most of the group, this vibrant cityscape exceeded anything they had ever witnessed, and it resonated with the lively spirit of its inhabitants. Nearly ten days after their departure from the Western Plateau, they finally reached Chengdu, the home of the Tang Clan.

For Tang Gi-Mun and Tang Mi-Ryeo, however, it was a homecoming after two months of hard traveling and intense fighting that resulted in the loss of the other young martial artists who had journeyed to Yunnan with them. Their survival came with a heavy burden: the duty of conveying the news of their comrades’ demise and alerting the Tang Clan to a possible conspiracy against them.

Tang Gi-Mun turned to Jin Mu-Won and said, “We’re making good time, so how about resting here for two nights? You can stay at the Tang Hill Village while I meet with the Clan Head and update him on the situation.”

“That works,” Jin Mu-Won readily agreed. With Heaven’s Summit still ahead of them and everyone fatigued from their long journey, a brief respite in a safe place was a welcome prospect.

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Ha Jin-Wol patted Jin Mu-Won on the shoulder and remarked, “Wise decision. Observing a distinguished family like the Tang Clan will undoubtedly prove invaluable for your growth.”

Normally, to protect their secrets, gangho sects and clans never permitted outsiders to enter their strongholds. Instead, guesthouses and separate meeting places would be prepared for visitors. That’s what made Tang Gi-Mun’s offer to stay at Tang Hill Village so tempting; it offered them an opportunity to glimpse the mysteries of the centuries-old Tang Clan.

The reason for the excessive secrecy was that the spirit of a sect didn’t just lie in their martial arts. It was pervasive and manifested in the environment, the training grounds, the way of life, and the philosophy of the sect. The preservation of their essence was paramount, and they were willing to go to great lengths to protect it.

Even the formidable Northern Army had vanished from history when its spirit was broken, what about a weaker faction?

Ha Jin-Wol believed that this insight would more than compensate for spending some extra time at the Tang Hill Village, and Jin Mu-Won agreed. That left the last member of their party, Cheong-In.

“I won’t be entering the Tang Hill Village. I’ve been out of touch with the Black Moon for far too long, so I must visit the Chengdu Branch, report my recent activities, and await further instructions. When it’s time to depart, don’t wait for me. I will find you wherever you are and catch up,” Cheong-In said.

“Understood,” Jin Mu-Won nodded. Unlike Ha Jin-Wol, Cheong-In wasn’t his friend or companion. As long as the spy was part of the Black Moon, Jin Mu-Won had no right to interfere in his actions.

Cheong-In left, and Jin Mu-Won followed Tang Gi-Mun toward the Tang Hill Village. As they walked, everyone in the party could sense Tang Mi-Ryeo’s joyous mood as she reveled in her long-awaited return to Chengdu.

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Tang Gi-Mun smiled. “Are you that happy to be home?”

At first, Tang Mi-Ryeo wanted to say yes, but her face suddenly filled with guilt as she remembered the family members who weren’t returning home with her, not even as corpses.

Sensing her inner turmoil, Tang Gi-Mun gently patted her shoulder and said, “It’s not your fault they died. In the gangho, where death can come anytime, anywhere, they fought their hardest till the very end.”


“Learn to discern when guilt is unwarranted,” Tang Gi-Mun advised.

“…Yes,” Tang Mi-Ryeo replied, her voice subdued.

Ha Jin-Wol regarded Tang Mi-Ryeo with interest. Unlike Jin Mu-Won, who was accustomed to a life on the edge, Tang Mi-Ryeo had grown up sheltered within the confines of the Tang Clan and wasn’t used to being surrounded by death.

Even so, he had no solace to offer her. This was a wall she had to overcome alone. Still, he believed that as long she could get over this, she had the potential to become a powerful martial artist in her own right.

Absorbed in their thoughts, the four of them made their way to Tang Hill Village. Soon, they caught sight of a sprawling hill in the distance.

On the outside, the Tang Hill Village appeared like any ordinary village, devoid of walls or barriers. It emitted an air of openness, as if anyone could come and go at will.

However, this was merely a facade. As they approached the village, they felt the scrutinizing eyes of its inhabitants, who, though outwardly unassuming, were all masters of assassination. At the slightest hint of hostility, the countless hidden weapons concealed within their garments could transform into a deadly rain of projectiles, aimed at Jin Mu-Won and his companions.

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This place is a natural fortress, Jin Mu-Won realized. While it lacked physical walls, the skilled martial artists here were more effective defenders than the sturdiest fortifications. This revelation shattered Jin Mu-Won’s preconceived notions that a martial organization should be enclosed within imposing walls.

However, the initial wariness soon faded as they recognized Tang Gi-Mun and Tang Mi-Ryeo. Several people ran toward the duo to greet them.

“You’re back safely!”


Tang Gi-Mun and Tang Mi-Ryeo returned their greetings.

“Where is the Clan Head?” Tang Gi-Mun asked.

“Probably in the workshop.”

“Very well, I must meet him now. I’m sure you have a lot of questions for us, but we can talk later.”

“We’re just relieved to see you both back safely.”

“Also, these people are my honored guests. Please arrange for them to stay at the Three Suns Pavilion.”


“Thank you” Tang Gi-Mun acknowledged. He then turned to Jin Mu-Won and Ha Jin-Wol and said, “Please follow them to your lodgings. I’ll speak with the Clan Head first and join you in the evening.”

“Got it.”

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“Then, I’ll take my leave now.”

With that, Tang Gi-Mun briskly departed, and Tang Mi-Ryeo followed him.

Ha Jin-Wol broke into a large grin. “Let’s go unwind!”

Despite its grandiose name, the Three Suns Pavilion was indistinguishable from the other residences within Tang Hill Village. The sole difference lay in the towering enclosure that afforded it a degree of privacy, shielding it from prying eyes.

Ha Jin-Wol released Mr. Yellow into one corner of the pavilion, then asked Jin Mu-Won, “I’m going to take a bath. What about you?”1^

“I’m going to rest for a bit.”

“Alright then,” Ha Jin-Wol chimed as he headed for the bathroom.

Left to his own devices, Jin Mu-Won sat on a bed, cradling Snow Flower in his arms. Besides being physically exhausted, Ha Jin-Wol’s lectures had pushed his mind to the limit.

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He closed his eyes, focusing on his breathing, but suddenly, Snow Flower emitted a subtle, silent radiance.


The girl’s tribe had lived on the sacred mountain for generations. Their roots ran deep, going back through her grandmother’s grandmother. The Central Plains referred to their mountain as Mount Darksword, but to them, it was the Sacred Mountain and nothing else.

This mountain provided everything they needed - food, shelter, and more. Each year, they threw a heartfelt festival as an expression of their gratitude for it.

As the apprentice shaman chosen by the mountain itself, she was responsible for helping with the ceremonial rites. Unfortunately, she couldn’t attend the other festivities in person, as those who became shamans were strictly forbidden from marriage and contact with the opposite sex - a hard road for a young girl full of dreams. Nevertheless, she accepted her fate and dedicated herself to her role.

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She mastered the art of communicating with nature and honed her healing skills to tend to the wounded. As the years flew by, she grew into a formidable shaman.

One day, when she was fifteen, a star fell from the heavens, creating a massive crater in the northern part of the village. Upon closer inspection, her mentor recognized the fallen star as a sacred stone and enshrined it in the village’s sanctuary, where the tribe held it in great reverence.

Three years later, the elderly shaman passed away, and the girl succeeded her. Now, it was her responsibility to carry out her predecessor’s duties. Every morning, she rose before dawn, placed her hands on her head, and prayed for blessings upon her tribe. She gave up meat and adopted an ascetic lifestyle. Her prayers seemed to work, and the tribe prospered.

But with prosperity came complications. The tribe became curious about the outside world and longed for more interaction. Some wanted to increase the tribe’s prosperity by engaging with outside communities, and their voices grew stronger over time.

Despite her protests, the Chief chose to engage with the outside world. The tribe traded their mountain resources for goods that made their lives more convenient. They allowed outsiders into their territory and embraced the comfortable lifestyles that followed. They explored the mountains, hunting countless creatures to trade for desirable goods. welcomes you.

The sacred mountain cried out in agony, its plight reaching the shaman. She begged the Chief to end contact with the outside world, but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

When she turned twenty-five, disaster struck. A stranger entered the village. Tall and powerful, he wreaked havoc upon arrival, leaving death and destruction in his wake. Tribal warriors perished at his hands, the village echoed with screams, and the shaman’s cries of despair filled the air.

He was a demon.

Most of the men succumbed to his ruthless onslaught, while the women were herded into a vast cave where they were held captive. Only the shaman stood against him. Though she lacked the power of the tribe’s warriors, her indomitable will and the protection of the sacred mountain fueled her resistance. She tried to thwart him, but her efforts were in vain. Powerless, she watched as the women’s limbs were shattered and a giant cross carved into their flesh. Hundreds of women bled to death, their essence absorbed by him as he grinned menacingly.

She faced the demon with an unquenchable rage and swore revenge, “I will never forgive you. Never.”

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Her rage at the demon that ravaged her beloved tribe burned as intensely as her love for everything she held dear. She turned to the sacred mountain and begged for the power to seek vengeance, no matter the cost. Her tears of blood seeped into the black altar stone.


Jin Mu-Won snapped out of his reverie, tears streaming down his face. The dream had been too vivid to dismiss as a mere fantasy. Overwhelmed with emotion, he clenched his fists tightly, sweat soaking his entire body.

He looked at Snow Flower. “Was that you?” he asked.

Snow Flower remained silent.

With a sigh, Jin Mu-Won tried to remember the face of the man in his dream, but it eluded him.

“The Demonic Cross of Blood,” he whispered, tightening his grip on Snow Flower.

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