Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 648

December 25, 2023 • 11 min read • 909 views

As Pyo Wol gazed intently at Jang Cheon-hwa, his smile deepened.

“Unexpected, isn’t it?”

“…”

“From your perspective, I suppose it is. Instead of standing here, shall we take a walk?”

Without waiting for Pyo Wol’s answer, Jang Cheon-hwa began to walk away.

He exposed his back to Pyo Wol — showing his weakness.

It was a clear act of dismissal.

A show of utter confidence in his own prowess.

Indeed, Pyo Wol couldn’t find any vulnerability in Jang Cheon-hwa’s retreating figure.

It was as if a massive fortress was moving.

So solid and meticulous that not even a needle could find its way through— a moving fortress.

That was the essence of Jang Cheon-hwa as seen by Pyo Wol.

It was a situation beyond Pyo Wol’s expectations.

Though Pyo Wol was always ready for countless variables, he had not accounted for Jang Cheon-hwa’s audacious move.

Reluctantly, Pyo Wol followed him.

He usually wasn’t influenced by others, but now he had no choice.

After all, the area was controlled by the martial artists of Heavenly Martial Sect, with Jang Cheon-hwa as their leader.

If Jang Cheon-hwa gave the order, a horde of these warriors would rush to execute Pyo Wol.

As if reading his mind, Jang Cheon-hwa spoke in sync.

“Do you really think I’d need my men to handle just one intruder? Me Jang Cheon-hwa.”

“Seeing how towering your pride is, I doubt such a situation would arise.”

“You see clearly.”

“Why didn’t you intervene in the conflict with the Silver Lotus Hall? If you had, the war wouldn’t have dragged on like this.”

“Jumping into children’s squabbles isn’t my style.”

“So, it wouldn’t matter to you if the Silver Lotus Hall won?”

“I gave them all they needed. If they still can’t succeed, it’s Mugak’s incompetence. Even if he’s my son, if he’s not capable, he should just perish.”

“Harsh.”

“Do you truly think so?”

Jang Cheon-hwa turned his head to look at Pyo Wol.

His eyes resembled the deep sea.

Calm on the surface, but with a storm raging beneath.

Pyo Wol felt the immense power in that gaze.

Silence until Jang Cheon-hwa began speaking again, looking straight ahead.

“There are two people I deeply respect. One is my master, and the other is the former head of the Mad Martial Sect, Lee Gwak.”

“Lee Gwak?”

“Surprised?”

“To be honest, yes.”

“It’s not unreasonable. After all, Lee Gwak was the nemesis who killed my master. But without his benevolence and determination, the Heavenly Martial Sect wouldn’t have established its roots in Kangho.”

“So, you’re repaying the favor?”

“Not to that extent. Just as he provided us an opportunity, I believe in granting others the same chance.”

“Quite romantic.”

“It’s probably the last time I’ll show such consideration.”

It didn’t matter to him whether the Golden Heavenly Hall or the Silver Lotus Hall came out on top.

He believed that when he got involved, everything would ultimately be set straight.

It wasn’t mere arrogance or pride.

Jang Cheon-hwa had dedicated his life to martial arts.

He had been defeated by Lee Cheong from the Mad Martial Sect six times. However, on their seventh fight, he won and even managed to take Lee Cheong’s life in their eighth encounter.

Though beating Lee Cheong should have felt like a triumph, he unexpectedly felt a deep sense of loss, as if a hole had formed in his heart.

Neither Jacheong Jin of Mount Hua Sect nor Unsong of Shaolin could fill that void.

Locked away, he immersed himself solely in martial arts.

In those moments of intense training, he could momentarily forget the sense of loss.

As he engrossed himself solely in martial arts, the boundary between self and other blurred.

Alongside, his emotions became numb.

Feelings of everything being in vain clashed with the desire to have it all.
In
Ordinarily, he could’ve easily controlled such emotions.

Even though he had trained his mind so well that he could control his thoughts, he decided not to for some reason and let his emotions roam freely.

This was the result of that choice.

A state where his heart was slightly tainted by inner demons but not completely consumed.

Jang Cheon-hwa was well aware of his state.

He could easily banish such demons if he willed. Yet, he chose not to, aiming for even greater heights.

Inner demons were like walls.

Breaking or surmounting them could lead to a higher realm of understanding.

Although Jang Cheon-hwa had already reached a state transcending humanity, he wasn’t satisfied.

“In the past, demon fist reached the height of martial arts because of a formidable opponent like the Heavenly Emperor. Likewise, Lee Gwak reached those heights due to having my master as an adversary. Every great martial artist in each era had a worthy rival. Such rivals act as strong motivators, driving one to excel. I had hoped Lee Cheong would be that for me. But eventually, he stopped pushing me further. The same went for Jacheong Jin from Mount Hua Sect and One Sword Master from the Wudang Sect.”

Jang Cheon-hwa’s gaze, as he looked at Pyo Wol, shone brighter than ever before.

After defeating Jacheong Jin, he had been in a state of lethargy for a while.

He thought defeating him would elevate him to higher realms, but he gained nothing.

After much contemplation, he reached a conclusion.

He needed a powerful rival to surpass his limits and achieve heights like the Demon Fist or Lee Gwak.

The problem was, there was no martial artist left in the world worthy of challenging him.

He had already defeated all renowned martial artists.

There was no one left to be his match.

And so, he despaired.

“Why hasn’t the heavens granted me a worthy opponent? Clearly, they fear me reaching even greater heights.”

It was then he learned of Pyo Wol.

Initially, he thought of him as just another assassin.

Assassins, no matter how powerful, had their limits.

But Pyo Wol was different.

After closely watching Pyo Wol, Jang Cheon-hwa he had to admit that he was different from other assassins.

“You are my last hope. I sincerely hope you reach even greater heights than I anticipate.”

“You’re mad.”

“You understand, right? Sometimes, to break through barriers, you need madness. Without that obsession, you can’t achieve the highest realms.”

Madness is another word for fervor.

Only by becoming mad about something and fighting to the bitter end could one attain true fervor.

This was the journey of those who mastered martial arts.

Those who in their youth devoted themselves fanatically to martial arts.

In return, they attained unprecedented realms. Yet, as age caught up, very few retained the fervor of their youth.

Content with their achievements, they lost the fiery spirit that once drove them.

Every martial artist Jang Cheon-hwa had ever fought had faced this decline.

A martial artist who has lost their fervor no longer challenges him.

As they conversed and walked, they found themselves at the peak of a high mountain.

Upon reaching the summit, a panoramic view opened before them.

Before them stretched the vast Poyang Lake, and across its waters, rising smoke and fire signaled a battlefield.

The Golden Heavenly Hall and the Silver Lotus Hall were clashing.

Even though they couldn’t see the martial artists from that distance, the intensity and heat from the battle were clearly felt.

A chilling intensity that raised goosebumps.

Jang Cheon-hwa asked.

“Do you see it?”

“…”

“I hope you witness the same spectacle I do. It’s too valuable to observe by oneself.”

A chilling smile graced Jang Cheon-hwa’s lips.

A cold, ruthless smile that seemed capable of freezing one’s soul.

Pyo Wol furrowed his brow slightly.

The killing intent behind Jang Cheon-hwa’s smile was grating on his nerves.

“Kangho has known peace for too long. Peace breeds complacency, and the complacent can’t progress. The ‘Three Sect’, ‘Three Families’? Ridiculous. This mindset stifles improvement. Shaolin, Wudang Sect, Mount Hua Sect – they’re all trapped in past glories.”

Renowned martial artists like Grandmaster Unsong, Il Geom Jin, and Jacheong Jin were undoubtedly legends of their era, yet they failed to meet Jang Cheon-hwa’s expectations.

“You are the only one in this Kangho moving forward on your own strength.”

Jang Cheon-hwa became interested in Pyo Wol after he arrived at Poyang Lake.

Many, including his son Jang Mugak, had warned him about Pyo Wol.

Initially, he dismissed Pyo Wol as a mere Assassin. After all, assassins, no matter how formidable, have their limits. However, this perception changed swiftly when he learned that Pyo Wol had defeated his two closest associates, the Black Supreme Heuk Musang, and the White Supreme Baek Musang.

Both were exceptional in their martial arts.

Their deaths proved that Pyo Wol was no ordinary assassin.

From then on, Jang Cheon-hwa monitored Pyo Wol’s movements.

From the moment Pyo Wol first emerged in Kangho to the present, he scrutinized every move.

After closely observing Pyo Wol’s life, he concluded:

“He’s not just any assassin. He’s orchestrating the entire scenario, steering situations to his advantage.”

Such a skill wasn’t acquired; it was innate.

A talent granted to a rare few.

Rare, even amongst martial artists.

In Kangho, where strength often dictates outcomes, thinkers like Pyo Wol were infrequent. Thus, even if someone had such a talent, it often diminished.

“Unbeknownst to me, my nemesis was rising from an unexpected quarter.”

From that moment, Jang Cheon-hwa waited, expecting Pyo Wol to confront him sooner or later.

That was why he greeted Pyo Wol so warmly.

“Pyo Wol!”

“Speak!”

“I am grateful to the heavens. They sent someone like you during my lifetime.”

“You talk as if you’ve already caught me.”

“If you dislike that, try to break free with all your might.”

“I would have done that without your suggestion.”

Jang Cheon-hwa’s smile deepened at Pyo Wol’s curt reply.

Sometime during their exchange, the mountaintop became shrouded in dense clouds.

Darkness quickly enveloped the surroundings as if rain was about to pour.

Jang Cheon-hwa continued to gaze across the Poyang Lake.

Swish!

In that instant, Pyo Wol made his move.

He took the initiative, striking first.

Without a sound, he closed in behind Jang Cheon-hwa, attempting to thrust his ‘Ghost Dagger’ into his nape.

Crack!

The eerily glowing ‘Ghost Dagger’ shattered the moment it touched Jang Cheon-hwa’s neck, as if it had struck stone.

Focus on the heart, and your qi will follow.

When one’s heart moves, one’s qi moves, and it shields itself like a shield.

His defense wasn’t dictated by form or technique.

Pyo Wol widened his eyes as Jang Cheon-hwa countered with a shoulder strike.

Boom!

The force sent Pyo Wol flying a good ten meters before he landed.

He brushed off his hands.

Bruises marred his palms.

He had tried to block Jang Cheon-hwa’s shoulder strike with crossed palms. Despite deflecting most of the impact, the sheer force had left a mark.

Jang Cheon-hwa approached Pyo Wol, laughing.

“You attack like a true assassin- stealthily and cunningly. Not bad.”

“It would have been better if it had succeeded.”

Pyo Wol retorted as he dusted his palms.

He felt no remorse for his stealth attack.

As Jang Cheon-hwa pointed out, ambushes were inherent to an assassin’s nature.

Using every method at their disposal to eliminate an adversary.

That’s how he learned and survived.

While others might criticize him, Pyo Wol felt no shame in his way of survival.

Neither did Jang Cheon-hwa consider Pyo Wol’s method underhanded.

‘Why blame an assassin for acting like one? It’s the victim’s incompetence.’

Whooosh!

A powerful surge of qi emanated from Jang Cheon-hwa’s body.

For a moment, the mountain seemed to tremble in resonance.

A phenomenon triggered by his profound qi.

A sight so unbelievable it defied comprehension.

Pyo Wol clenched his lips.

What stood before him now was the true monster he had to confront.

‘This is the worst!’

Even under optimal conditions, facing Jang Cheon-hwa was a daunting task. Now, Pyo Wol had to combat him in the worst possible scenario.

A desolate mountain top with few places to hide.

The worst possible environment.

The target, an unassuming, unbeatable man.

Pyo Wol’s perilous mission had begun