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


“AAAAHH!”

The moment I mentioned the Blood Cult, Cho Mak-Saeng let out a sudden, guttural scream and lunged at me. I had kept a firm hold on his neck to prevent any reckless moves like this, but he thrashed about violently as if he cared little about the consequences.

I can’t let him die just yet. I quickly released him to prevent his neck from snapping and stepped back.

“Grr…” Finally freed, Cho Mak-Saeng dropped to all fours like a wild animal, emitting low, menacing growls. The whites of his eyes were bathed in crimson, grotesque veins bulged across his face, saliva dribbled down from his gaping mouth, and his nails grew longer and sharpened into claws.

Narrowing my eyes, I carefully observed the gray qi swirling around his fingertips. “Hey… What’s the name of the martial art you’re using?” I asked.

Unfortunately, he was in no condition to answer me.

“Grr…GRAAAARGH!” he roared, pouncing on me like a tiger. His long nails rent gray streaks across the night sky, and the force of his attacks shattered a nearby alley wall, sending debris tumbling.

I deftly evaded his attacks, then perched on top of the rubble and looked down at him. “I’m pretty sure that’s the Black Blood Demonic Art. Do you know why people call it a demonic art?”

“GUAAAAH! SHUT UP!” Cho Mak-Saeng yelled, launching into another wave of wild slashes.

“It’s because the Black Blood Demonic Art causes a drastic change in temperament. At first, the practitioner will only become more irritable, but as time goes by, they will eventually be robbed of their sanity,” I continued, dodging his blows over and over again.

“Shut up! I’ll kill you!”

If I stop talking, he’ll succumb to his madness and won’t be able to give me any answers. For now, I’ll just keep pressuring him and see whether he reveals anything useful.

“If that isn’t bad enough, the Black Blood Demonic Art also consumes the user’s life force instead of inner qi. You might think you’re using sword qi, but that’s not true sword qi…”

SWISH!

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I narrowly evaded the claws aimed at my neck, then leaned close to his ear and whispered, “The more you use it, the more your life force dwindles. Eventually, black blood will ooze out of your every pore until you shrivel up like a mummy and die. That’s why it’s called the Black Blood Demonic Art. Did your teacher inform you of this?”

For a moment, Cho Mak-Saeng hesitated, but his madness soon returned as he flailed around wildly and screamed, “Shut the hell up! Don’t try to confuse me!”

“You should look at yourself in the mirror right now.”

“AAARGH!”

“You know, you’re a terrible spy. What kind of spy is as reckless and thoughtless as you?”

“Keuaaak! Shut up! Get out of my head!”

Hmm? ‘Get out of my head’? What a strange choice of words… Anyway, it’s time I subdued him. He’s been making a lot of noise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone heard the commotion and alerted the authorities.

With the precision of a surgeon, I swiftly jabbed his pressure points with my fingers and paralyzed him.

Muscles convulsing, he collapsed to the ground like a felled tree.

I stood over him, saying, “Don’t make me repeat myself. Tell me everything you know about the Black Blood Demonic Art, starting with who taught it to you…”

CRACK, CRACK!

To my horror, Cho Mak-Saeng’s joints suddenly bent unnaturally and he sprang to his feet with uncanny agility.

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“What a lunatic… Did you break the paralysis by force?” I asked, stunned by the eerie sight.

“Hehehe…” he giggled, even as several of the bulging veins on his face ruptured and painted a macabre tapestry of blood upon his visage. Like a puppet with disjointed limbs, he contorted his body grotesquely to meet my gaze.

My jaw dropped in shock and revulsion. “If you keep this up, you’re really going to die.”

“Hehe… HAHAHA! POWER, OVERFLOWING POWER! With this strength, I’ll kill them all! Those bastards who dared to ignore me because I’m an orphan! I’ll tear them apart and feed them to the dogs!” Cho Mak-Saeng shrieked.

In an instant, his black hair faded to white, his already thin frame grew even more gaunt, and the gray qi over his nails lengthened as he poured every last ounce of his life force into the Black Blood Demonic Art.

His whole existence is being consumed and he’s morphing into a ghoul. What on earth is this? This isn’t the Black Blood Demonic Art I’m familiar with!

“Hahaha! I’ll rip your heart out and eat it right in front of you!” Cho Mak-Saeng laughed, reaching for my chest with lightning speed.

I immediately leaned backward, but his claws still shredded the front of my clothes. I had barely escaped by a hair. It seemed the time for holding back was over.

Quickly unsheathing Moon Shadow, I aimed a slash infused with sword qi at his outstretched arm. However, contrary to my expectations, not only did I fail to sever it, leaving only a deep gash, my hands were also trembling from the recoil.

“Hahaha! DIE!” Ignoring the black blood oozing from his arm, Cho Mak-Saeng lunged at me again, demonic qi swirling around him.

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Tsk. There’s no fear in those crazed eyes. I stomped hard on the ground and launched myself into the air.

Cho Mak-Saeng mirrored my move, and we clashed briefly under the moonlight, him aiming for my heart and neck while I targeted his lower body to neutralize him.

SPLURT!

My sword pierced holes in both his thighs, and he landed and staggered forward. However, what appeared to be a clumsy stumble turned out to be a tactic for closing in on me.

“Hehehe!” he laughed, raising his claws yet again.

Seeing him, I was seriously amazed. Wow! If he had displayed this level of skill and strategy on stage, not even Cheon could have defeated him. Isn’t his strength around peak-level right now? He’s using ‘sword qi’ freely and his body is like steel. Moreover, as expected of a ghoul, he’s devoid of fear even in the face of a stronger opponent. Soon, however, he’s going to run out of life force to burn…

Noticing an opportunity, I aimed for the injury I’d inflicted earlier and successfully severed his one remaining arm. Nevertheless, undeterred, he launched himself at me headfirst, attempting to bite me.

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In response, I smacked him in the face with Moon Shadow’s hilt, then hammered his back with my fist, sending him crashing face-first into the ground.

He writhed around like a worm, trying to stand back up.

Sighing, I broke some more of his bones, until finally, he lay still.

“Phew…” I panted, sweating profusely. Killing him would have been much less effort, but I needed to subdue him to question him. Pressing my foot against his neck, I said coldly, “Speak. Who taught you the Black Blood Demonic Art?”

“Kihihihi! Kill me, or I’ll kill them all. The bastards who looked down on me just because I’m an orphan…!”

“Tsk, it seems you’ve completely lost your mind,” I groaned as I placed my hand on the crazy punk’s head and infused him with the qi of the Heaven Defying Divine Art. Demonic qi had seeped into every fiber of his being, and until it was removed, it didn’t seem like we were going to be able to have any kind of meaningful conversation.

Huh, the more I do this, the easier it gets, I thought, extracting the demonic qi in Cho Mak-Saeng’s brain. Unlike when I treated Wiji Cheon and Gongson Su though, I didn’t absorb it. Although impure qi and demonic qi were similar, the latter was useless to me and would only harm my body. As such, I expelled it to the outside and incinerated it.

Finally, when his body was completely cleansed, Cho Mak-Saeng regained consciousness. “Why… am I… Ahh! It hurts, it hurts so much…!” he cried.

He’s doomed, I thought. The boy’s body was emaciated, resembling a mummy, with bones protruding and black blood flowing from every orifice. Like a candle in the wind, it was clear that his life was about to be extinguished.

Such is the fate of most who dabble in the demonic arts, I lamented. Although I’d seen this scene countless times, it was no less gut-wrenching.

“I… I don’t want to die like this…” Cho Mak-Saeng begged, tears streaming down his face at the grim realization of his impending mortality.

“Tell me who taught you the Black Blood Demonic Art, and I’ll grant you a quick death,” I offered, sensing his desperation.

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Confusion clouded Cho Mak-Saeng’s face. “Demonic art? I-I don’t know, I don’t know anything…” he stuttered.

“Are you going to remain loyal to the Blood Cult even after they did this to you?” I pressed, hoping to unearth some useful information before the kid died.

“Cough! I really don’t know, I don’t know anything! B-Blood Cult? I’m an orphan… Cough! Martial arts, I learned them at the orphanage, then… Cough! From the Namgoong Clan…”

Cho Mak-Saeng’s speech was extremely fragmented, but I pieced together his story. Abandoned at five, he learned martial arts at an orphanage sponsored by the Namgoong Clan, until finally he caught the eye of Namgoong Su.

“So you’re telling me that you knew a martial art without being taught? Do you think that makes sense?” I asked skeptically.

“I-I didn’t know it was… Cough! A demonic art…” Cho Mak-Saeng’s voice trailed off weakly.

“Why didn’t you tell Namgoong Su about it?” I probed further, trying to unravel the mystery.

“B-because, like you, he would ask me where I learned it…”

Hmm… No one, especially not a spy, would make such a foolish claim. Does this mean that he’s telling the truth?

Suddenly, a certain memory resurfaced in my mind. It was a conversation I had with the Demonic Strategist in my previous life.

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“Kukuku, this? This is the secret weapon that will enable us to conquer the world.”

Within the Blood Cult, there was no one I hated more than the Demonic Strategist. Even now, I felt like I could hear his sinister laughter as he proudly showed off his latest inventions.

“Look, isn’t it beautiful?”

The Demonic Strategist’s voice echoed, chillingly detached, amidst what could only be described as hell on earth. Countless children lay on stone beds, their skulls cruelly split open to reveal their brains, yet they were still alive.

“It’s a miracle. Through ancient techniques and the power of artifacts passed down through generations, we’ve implanted the teachings and martial arts of our Cult directly into their minds.”

No, no… It can’t be… I seized Cho Mak-Saeng by the hair and swiftly shaved it off with sword qi.

“W-What are you doing…?” he protested.

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“Stay still. I need to check… Fuck.”

Traces of surgery, barely visible, marred the skin of his head.

“The children who survive the procedure will lose all of their memories. Thus, even if we send them to the orthodox sects, they’ll just innocently work hard and rise through the ranks on their own volition. However…”

The depraved grin on the Demonic Strategist’s face whenever he boasted about his work still haunted me.

“As the years pass, they’ll eventually remember their true roots. Do you get it now? These young ghouls are the seeds that we will plant in the hearts of the orthodox sects! Kukuku! …Oh, right. I still haven’t told you the name of this procedure. I’m thinking of calling it Soul Alteration, and the modified children the Soulless. Doesn’t that sound just perfect?”

Soul Alteration. Just recalling the name of the technique sent shivers down my spine.

“The day the Four Great Demons you’re raising are completed and the Soulless are awakened, our Cult will turn the murim into a sea of blood. Kukuku… KAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

At least that monster who abandoned his humanity died by my hands…or did he?

“I remember destroying his qi center and cutting off all his limbs, but the Blood Demon arrived before I could deliver the finishing blow…”

Doubt gnawed at me as I considered the possibility of the Demonic Strategist’s survival. What if he didn’t die that day? What if someone inherited his twisted legacy?

“Ugh, ugh, so cold…! S-Save me, please…”

While I was lost in my thoughts, suddenly, Cho Mak-Saeng’s body began to convulse and swell up like a pufferfish. Cracks appeared all over his skin, and a faint light shone out from within. It’s over, I thought, instinctively stepping back and bracing myself for the inevitable.

BOOM!

With a blinding flash, Cho Mak-Saeng exploded, leaving only the echoes of his torment in its wake.


Translator’s Note: The manhwa had to tone this scene down significantly to get it past the censors, but for some reason, I got all excited and ended up going all out on the vocabulary…

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