Episode 8 (The Turning Point of Fate Comes Without Warning (2)

October 20, 2023 • 12 min read • 383 views

Blood Chakra Demonic Blade, Gwan Il Hyeon’s face, twisted like the face of an ugly demon.

He had changed into clean clothes, but blood was oozing from every inch of his body, and his flesh, hidden by his clothes, was scarred with deep wounds.

Any ordinary person with such injuries would have struggled to even breathe, let alone move. The scars were etched deep into his bones and muscles.

They were wounds inflicted by Gwang Noh Ya.

Had they been scars from a battle where they fought as equals, the humiliation might not have been as intense.

It had been a single blow.

One strike from Gwang Noh Ya had critically injured him, and thirty members of the Phantom Armored Cavalry lost their lives.

Truly, it was an unprecedented martial prowess.

Even his master and the revered leader of Celestial Demon Troupe, Jin Gwang Hon, would have found it difficult to achieve such a feat. If it were against such a master, one would have to accept the outcome as inevitable. But for Gwan Il Hyeon, whose pride soared as high as the heavens, it was sheer humiliation.

Crushed under Gwang Noh Ya’s might, Gwan hadn’t even had a chance to showcase his full martial arts prowess. This disgrace, witnessed by the martial artists of Jade Heaven Alliance, fueled his fury.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that when he regained consciousness, he was in the Jade Heaven Alliance itself. To save his life, the Phantom Armored Cavalry had brought him there.

The Phantom Armored Cavalry had no choice but to save Gwan Il Hyeon. However, for Gwan Il Hyeon, being rescued by the Jade Heaven Alliance– a faction he could regard as a sworn enemy – was a deep blow to his pride.

Joo Shin-yoon, the inner court master of the Jade Heaven Alliance, stood before Gwan Il Hyeon, leaning back in a relaxed stance.

“Planning to leave?”

“Yes.”

“You haven’t fully recovered from your injuries.”

“It’s nothing.”

Gwan Il Hyeon replied, trying hard to keep his expression neutral. Joo Shin-yoon gazed at him with a faint smile.

To Gwan Il Hyeon, it felt as though he was being mocked, and he clenched his fists in response.

Unlike his initial arrival, the leader of Jade Heaven Alliance, Ja Hong Cheon, was nowhere to be seen. Gwan Il Hyeon felt a deep sense of being blatantly ignored, causing his eyes to twitch in agitation.

Joo Shin-yoon, studied Gwan Il Hyeon’s face intently and spoke,

“If that’s truly Master Gwan’s wish, then fare well.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s regrettable that our first reunion in over a century concluded in such a manner; I do hope our next encounter is just as cordial.”

“That would depend on how the Jade Heaven Alliance acts, wouldn’t it?”

“Please convey to Lord Jin that the Alliance wants peace in the Jianghu.”

“I will certainly convey that.”

“Well then, safe travels.”

Joo Shin-Yoon bid him farewell first.

“I pray for your well-being until we meet again. I will never forget the grace I received from the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

Gwan bowed slightly to Joo Shin-Yoon and walked out.

As soon as he stepped outside, he audibly gritted his teeth in rage.

The Phantom Armored Cavalry was waiting for him.

When they arrived, there had been a hundred of them. Now there were only seventy, and most of them were seriously injured.

The sight of them shamed Gwan Il Hyeon even more.

“We’re heading back to the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“Yes, Lord!”

The Phantom Armored Cavalry responded loudly. Yet, their present state seemed pathetic to Gwan.

His eyebrows furrowed deeply, noticing the absence of their horses.

“Where are the horses?”

“They’re in the stables at the outer court.”

“Why?”

“Pardon?”

“Weren’t they in the inner court stables when we arrived? Why are they in the outer stables now? Just how much are they belittling me…?”

“My apologies, Young Master.”

The deputy leader of Phantom Armored Cavalry lowered his head in response.

After losing their leader to Gwang Noh Ya, the deputy leader had to bear the brunt of Gwan’s wrath. He too felt deeply humiliated.

He had never imagined that the famed Phantom Armored Cavalry would be treated so poorly.

They continued with heavy hearts.

When they arrived at the stables of the outer court, they saw the martial artists of the outer court standing by, holding the reins of the Phantom Armored Cavalry’s horses.

Among them was Lee Gwak.

The clash with Gwang Noh Ya had taken a toll not just on the Celestial Demon Troupe but also on the Jade Heaven Alliance. Yook Hyeon, the unit leader of the Divine Blood
Executioner Squad, along with a hundred of his soldiers, had fallen. The grim atmosphere was palpable.

The loss of more than a hundred members from the Divine Blood Executioner Squad was a major blow, prompting the Jade Heaven Alliance to bolster its internal security. As a result, the martial artists of the outer court, including Lee Gwak, were restricted and couldn’t leave.

Naturally, their spirits were low.

Holding the reins of the horses of another faction, the Celestial Demon Troupe, further highlighted their discomfort.

Lee Gwak felt the same, but for different reasons.

He was so absorbed in Gwang Noh Ya’s words that he barely noticed the approaching Phantom Armored Cavalry.

Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice jolted him back to reality.

“You?”

In front of him stood an unfamiliar face, glaring.

“Who’s this?”

“Do you think I’m funny too?”

Leaning in and speaking sharply to Lee Gwak, the man was none other than Gwan Il Hyeon. For some reason, he stared at Lee Gwak with a murderous gaze.”

Pardon? What are you talking about?”

“Why are you making that face then?”

“It’s not that…”

“Ha! How impressive, Jade Heaven Alliance . Now even a martial artist from the outer court looks down on me.”

In an instant, Gwan Il-Hyeon’s rage exploded.

Feeling threatened, Lee Gwak tried to dodge. But Gwan Il-Hyeon was a martial arts master far surpassing Lee Gwak. Even in his injured state, his prowess remained untouched.
Wham!

“Ugh!”

Gwan Il-hyeon’s fist stuck in Lee Gwak’s abdomen. Lee Gwak squirted out blood due to the impact on his internal organs.

Gwan Il-Hyeon’s face was smeared with Lee Gwak’s blood, driving him further into a frenzy.
Blood sprayed from Lee Gwak’s face. His forehead was split, and his cheekbone crushed.

By then, half of Lee Gwak’s consciousness had already drifted away. But Gwan Il-Hyeon’s anger was not yet satiated.

His fists mercilessly pummeled Lee Gwak’s body.

“What’s happening?”

“Stop, stop this at once!”

The startled outer court martial artists tried to intervene, but they were blocked by the Phantom Armored Cavalry.

Overwhelmed by the aura radiating from the Phantom Armored Cavalry, the outer court martial artists didn’t dare to move. The cavalry’s presence was truly fearsome.

Lee Gwak had done nothing wrong.

His only misfortune was being in the vicinity of an enraged Gwan Il-Hyeon and inadvertently catching his attention.

Right now, he needed someone to take out his anger on.

“Argh!”

With a roar, Gwan Il-Hyeon continued his onslaught. He might not have channelled his internal energy, but the strength was still beyond what Lee Gwak could endure.

Under Gwan Il-Hyeon’s relentless assault, Lee Gwak was torn, shattered, and broken.

In his fading consciousness, Lee Gwak gritted his teeth.

Every bone in his body ached as if they were crumbling. Yet, what hurt more was the wound to his spirit.

His pride was shattering.

Many watched, but not a single one offered help.

The Phantom Armored Cavalry stood like wolves before a pack of dogs.

Through Lee Gwak’s blurring vision, the outer court martial artists looked like dogs with their tails between their legs. And he felt like just another dog among them.

‘Is this the price for abandoning the spirit of the wolf?’

The whole world seemed drenched in red.

In this blood-red world, Lee Gwak’s consciousness began to fade.

He wanted to let go, to lose consciousness entirely. However, a deep-seated rage anchored his dwindling consciousness.

Boom!

Gwan Il-Hyeon’s fist slammed into Lee Gwak’s abdomen once more.

Lee Gwak’s mouth dropped open and his body shuddered.

The pain was excruciating, as if his entrails were being torn apart, leaving him unable to even scream.

Lee Gwak crumbled, collapsing like a sandcastle against Gwan Il-hyeon.

A look of relief appeared on Gwan Il-hyeon’s face. It was as if the anger that had been building up in his chest had been released.

But at that moment…

Crunch!

He felt an intense pain in his hand.

“What the–?”

Looking down, Gwan Il-hyeon saw Lee Gwak, with a face so bloodied it was hardly recognizable, biting his hand like a wild wolf, tearing away at the flesh.

This was Lee Gwak’s act of defiance.

His first rebellion since joining the Jade Heaven Alliance.

“I… am not a dog,”

Lee Gwak shouted.

But no one heard his silent cry, as his mouth was filled with the flesh he’d torn away.

“You damned beast!”

Shaking with rage, Gwan Il-hyeon kicked Lee Gwak away.

Boom!

The sound echoed like the beating of a drum as Lee Gwak’s body flew backwards, unconscious. Gwan Il-hyeon’s flesh was still clenched between his teeth.

With a sound like a leather drum bursting, Lee Gwak’s body flew backwards. A torn flesh of Gwan Il-hyeon’s was still clenched between his teeth.

“Disgusting! I’ll kill him.”

Gwan Il-hyeon couldn’t believe that a mere martial artist of the Jade Heaven Alliance dared to harm him. Losing all reason, he unsheathed his blade, and lunged to kill the unconscious Lee Gwak.

The offence of harming his precious body was unforgivable. But, he stopped.

“Stop!”

“Halt at once!”

The commander of the Phantom Armored Cavalry and his men, who had been mere spectators until now, intervened, grabbing his arms.

“Get off! I will end him.”

Gwan Il-hyeon writhed, trying to shake them off, but the more he struggled, the tighter they held onto him.

“You cannot kill him.”

Maiming him, or even severing a limb, might be forgivable since Lee Gwak was, after all, a nameless lower-rank martial artist. The Jade Heaven Alliance could possibly overlook such transgressions.

But murder was unacceptable. If a martial artist from the Celestial Demon Troupe committed a homicide, the reputation and standing of the guild would be at stake. Such a grave incident might compel the Jade Heaven Alliance to take severe action against both the Phantom Armored Cavalry and Gwan Il-hyeon. They had to prevent this worst-case scenario at all costs.

Just then…

“What in the heavens is happening here?”

A voice filled with fury echoed.

As Gwan Il-hyeon turned, he saw the leader of the Outer Court, Maeng Hee-cheon, rushing towards them. Clearly, one of the martial artists had informed him.

“Hmph!”

Snapping back to his senses, Gwan Il-hyeon sheathed his blade with a snort.

“This fool made a grave error against me.”

“What error?”

“Do I have to spell it out for you? The Jade Heaven Alliance should strengthen its discipline of these lowly martial artists. If you want to maintain any dignity, that is.”

“Hmph!”

Maeng Hee-Cheon’s face twisted in anger.

Gwan Il-Hyeon and the members of the Phantom Armored Cavalry mounted their horses. Maeng Hee-Cheon looked on, his eyes burning with anger, but he didn’t dare confront them.
It would be too burdensome for him to confront Gwan Il-Hyeon over a mere low-ranking martial artist.

Gwan Il-Hyeon and the Phantom Armored Cavalry rode out of the Jade Heaven Alliance. Unable to contain his anger, Maeng Hee-Cheon continued to glare at their retreating figures.

Only when they were out of sight did Maeng Hee-Cheon, exasperated, turn around. The injured Lee Gwak lay before him, battered and bloodied. Fortunately, a faint rise and fall of his chest indicated he was still breathing.

Seeing one of his men in such a pitiable state stirred anger within him.

“What are you doing? Get that fool out of my sight!”

From behind Joo Shin-Yoon, a middle-aged martial artist clad in a blue robe appeared. His expressionless face looked as if it had been chiselled from ice, and his snake-cold eyes gave off an eerie aura.

Nang Ha-Yoon was Joo Shin-Yoon’s most trusted advisor. As the head of the Inner Court’s Righteous Blood Corps, his martial prowess were unmatched.

“Where are they?”

“They just left the alliance.”

“Any issues?”

“They vented their frustrations on a junior martial artist from the Outer Court before departing.”

“Is he dead?”

“He’s still breathing.”

“Then it’s fine.”

Joo Shin-Yoon gazed out the window, his eyes sharper than ever.

“The Celestial Demon Troupe… are they making their move?”

He knew.

The matter with the Lunatic Pugilist was just a pretext. Under the pretense of dealing with the Lunatic Pugilist, they evaluated the power of the Jade Heaven Alliance. In response, Joo Shin-Yoon revealed only what was necessary.

Over a hundred years had passed since the Great Heavenly Blood War.

The Celestial Demon Troupe and the Jade Heaven Alliance had both amassed significant power over time. Without an outlet, this power risked turning in on itself. The situation with the Lunatic Pugilist provided them a way to gauge each other’s strengths.

To decide whether it was time to strike or if they should wait a bit longer.

Although Gwang Noh ya had caused more damage than expected, it was trivial compared to the Jade Heaven Alliance’s amassed strength over the years.

Taking into account that they had deflected some of the damage by involving the Dragon Heaven Valley and the Zealous Justice Clan, the impact was almost minimal.

His thoughts raced.

Jade Heaven Alliance, the Celestial Demon Troupe, and the Ten Sects…

Countless names intertwined in his mind to form a strategic map. However, there was no place on this map for a low-ranking martial artist from the Outer Hall, who had become a fleeting challenge for Gwan Il-Hyeon.