The tear open butterflies were spirits. They were terrible evil spirits that tore at the target until they died. It was impossible to soothe or command these evil spirits. The only way to destroy these butterflies was to burn them using divinity.
The yangbans had thought that Zik’s apostle would foolishly die trying to stab the butterflies, thus their hearts sank at the sight in front of them. Flames that completely overwhelmed the Red Phoenix’s Breath they had used until recently—Zik’s apostle created huge, sacred flames reminiscent of the descent of the red phoenix or Mir’s power. The thousands of butterflies turned to ashes and disappeared, and the yangbans couldn’t close their open mouths.
The bells on Chiyou’s necklace and hair tie shook loudly. It was a reaction to his muscles moving when he smiled. “It is worthy of the human who possesses the Red Phoenix’s Ninth Heart.”
“The Ninth Heart!?”
The yangbans doubted their ears. One of the 10 hearts that contained the source of the red phoenix’s power. A human had it when even the Five Seniors couldn’t take it away?
Haejin gritted her teeth. She wanted to erase her past self who had been thrilled to receive the red phoenix’s 9,857th heart from Hanul. She wanted to reproach herself for missing the heart that had disappeared when the red phoenix was resurrected.
Haejin’s face turned red like she would explode. She was ashamed of herself, who was pleased with receiving something inferior to what a human received, and who struggled not to miss something that was received by a human. It was the first time in her life that she felt such a great sense of shame. The feelings of the other yangbans were similar. Those who had lost their hearts because of the red phoenix’s resurrection, or those who still had the hearts, but knew it would soon disappear, glared at Zik’s apostle with bitter eyes.
Grid didn’t respond to their killing intent. To be exact, he couldn’t afford to respond.
‘Did he know that I have the red phoenix’s heart?’
Grid was terrified as he looked at Chiyou standing in the distance with crossed arms. He noticed that he couldn’t have survived unless he revealed himself as the one who resurrected the red phoenix.
‘The trial itself is a trap.’
It was over. He had hoped to gain something from Chiyou’s Test. However, instead of gaining something, it seemed he was going to die.
‘I won’t be able to recover it if I drop an item here.’
The butterflies had already burned, but Grid didn’t get rid of the Storm of the Fire God. It was a choice he made to protect himself. Isolated in the midst of Chiyou and dozens of yangbans, Grid couldn’t glimpse a way out except for relying on Storm of the Fire God.
‘I need to find a way out of here while maintaining Storm of the Fire God.’
This was a space Grid was moved to when Chiyou’s Test began. In other words, the current land he was standing on was completely separated from the existing world. It was the mental world of Chiyou that reflected Chiyou’s will.
‘Has Braham ever told me about the weaknesses of the mental world?’
“I’ve seen your passion well. Then the third trial will begin.”
Grid’s nervous expression as he maintained Storm of the Fire God completely collapsed. It was because the moment Chiyou’s bells rang, the Storm of the Fire God disappeared regardless of Grid’s will. Grid realized it—he was already dancing on the palm of Chiyou’s hand. The frustrated Grid’s vision darkened.
* * *
What was making such a sad and painful sound?
Grid was awakened by the cries of a young beast and felt the texture of soft carpet. He was like a person waking from a long sleep as he looked around blankly and his eyes slowly widened. He could see the scenery of the area lit with soft lighting.
It was a large and colorful space. The light reflected on the red wallpaper and made the expensive furniture and ornaments look even more luxurious. A few flaws were the wine bottles with a peach aroma scattered everywhere, and the huge iron bars that didn’t match the atmosphere of the great hall. The worst thing was the behavior of the young people in blue dopos.
“Hahahat! Look at this young beast crying! It is so pitiful! Poor thing!”
“Isn’t it time to be thirsty? How about feeding it another bottle of alcohol?”
“Why alcohol when there isn’t even enough alcohol for us to drink? It isn’t enough if we don’t urinate.”
The young men removed their dopos and started to pee on the iron bars. It was unknown how much alcohol they drank, but the smell of alcohol was coming from the pee stream that continued like a waterfall.
What was this situation? Grid was blank at the unknown situation only to suddenly frown. He spotted the crying cat crouching in the iron cage that the yangbans were peeing on. It was a mysterious blue-furred cat.No, the head and feet were too big for a cat. Seeing the pattern on the forehead, it was a tiger.
“...Ah!” Grid realized the identity of the tiger—it was Blue Tiger. This was the childhood of the blue tiger, hundreds of years ago.
“These damn XX...!”
Grid didn’t know what was going on, but he had come to the past. He roughly grasped the situation and focused on the scene in front of him. In order to help Blue Tiger, he ran to the iron cage and pushed the yangbans away.
The yangbans were unable to control their drunken bodies and staggered like reeds before falling to the ground. They tangled together and peed on each other. Their eyes widened and they screamed.
“Pagma! You have finally gone crazy!”
Was he called Pagma just now? The flustered Grid found a mirror next to him and looked into it. He was stunned and stepped back. In the mirror, a face that was beautiful even for a woman was staring at himself. It was far younger than the image of Pagma that Randy reproduced, or the Pagma witnessed in Chreshler’s recollection. It was Pagma in the time when he was just reaching his 20s.
Am I possessing Pagma in the past? Why? Chiyou’s voice was heard in the midst of the chaos.
“Then the third trial will start.”
...That’s right. He was currently in the process of going through Chiyou’s Test. Grid finally grasped the situation while a yangban strode closer to Grid.
“This crazy guy!”
Numbness. Tears filled Grid’s eyes as he was hit hard by the yangban. It meant that the yangban was strong, but it was also evidence of the decrease in Grid’s defense. Grid held his hot cheeks and opened his status window.
Class: Beginner Swordsman, Beginner Blacksmith
All of Grid’s stats were corrected to Pagma’s stats from hundreds of years ago. The same was true for his equipment and skills.
‘Isn’t this bullshit?’
No matter how long ago this was, he couldn’t help wondering if these were really yangbans. The man who slapped Grid’s cheeks followed by grabbing his collar.
“This guy, you are even protecting beasts now. I hate the fact that a crazy person like you is the same as me. It is disgusting and my nausea is rising.”
Grid was familiar with these eyes full of disgust and anger. He stared at the man holding him by the collar and shouted with surprise, “G-Garam!”
“Hah! Why? Do you want to say that you don’t know who I am?”
Garam scoffed and pushed Grid away. He spat on the ground and left the great hall with the group.
A young blue tiger inside the iron cage stared at Grid. The bright, round eyes were pure, the breathing sounded sad and made being trapped in the iron cage look even more pitiful.
“Are you okay?”
Grid finally stood up and used the Red Phoenix’s Breath seen in the skills list. The warm flames covered the wet Blue Tiger and energized her body.
‘They are real XX guys.’
Grid trembled as he looked closely at Blue Tiger. There were ugly whip marks and bright red blood on the blue tiger’s small body.
“I’m sorry I didn’t help you quickly. I’m sorry.”
Grid’s expression was dark as he stroked the body of the blue tiger. He should’ve stopped it before the yangbans pissed. He resented himself for being dull and not being able to quickly grasp the situation. Blue Tiger barely pushed her head through the iron bars and rubbed her head against the crouching Grid’s legs. She seemed to be saying it was okay and was thanking him.
This was just a reproduction of a scene from the past. The things he did here didn’t affect the future, which was reality. He was in a position where he had to focus on the contents of the third trial. He had to prepare for the trial that could take place at any time in an unknown form.
Grid obviously knew all of this. Even so, he pulled out the soft sword hanging from his waist. It was classified as a sword mastery skill, but his Yangban’s Swordsmanship skill was only at the beginner level.
“Pagma's Sword Dance.”
The only sword dances he knew were Link and Wave.
Grid did his best to cut the padlock off the iron cage. The door opened and he reached out to the blue tiger, who was frightened and retreated.
“It's okay. I won’t hurt you.”
How much violence did she experience every time the yangbans opened the cage for her to tremble so? Grid hid Blue Tiger in his arms and immediately ran out of the great hall.
“You! What did you do? Stop!”
Garam and the yangbans ran out of the tiled houses. Grid had hit the lock dozens of times so it seemed they were attracted by the loud noise.
‘Would you stand still if you were me?’
The yangbans’ preparations were late and they were still putting on their dopos, hats, and silk shoes while Grid was hurrying to escape. Some of the yangbans were even carrying smoking pipes. Thanks to this, Grid managed to escape pursuit for a while and reached the entrance of the Hwan Kingdom. The long river entered his view. It was a river that was so big that it was hard to tell the end.
There was a large ship waiting at the dock, but Grid wasn’t confident about getting on it. The people on the ship were more likely to be enemies, and he had neither experience in steering a ship nor moving one. Eventually, Grid started paddling a small boat.
“Don’t worry, I will take you to Mount Bukdu.”
Grid mentioned the place where he met Blue Tiger in the future and reassured the young blue tiger. Unfortunately, Grid’s heart was also beating fast. Grid himself was trembling with fear and other physical reactions. It couldn’t be helped.
It was because Pagma’s physical strength was inferior from Grid’s current perspective and it had reached its limit. His rowing hands started to slow and his trembling arms and legs were out of control.
Tung! Tutong! Tuong!
Drumming sounds rang at the dock and a huge ship departed. The ship was several times faster than Grid rowing alone and caught in an instant.
“Disgraceful guy!”Garam’s angry cry echoed through the mountains and river.
Dozens of arrows filled the sky.
Grid naturally didn’t give up. He intercepted the flying arrows using Link and Wave. Then the subsequent arrows were blocked by the fusion skill, Wave Link. However, he didn’t have any sword techniques left that could directly deal with Garam.
“How can this unqualified guy dare to leave? You betrayed us to save a young beast!”
It was a reasonable accusation from Garam’s point of view. Garam’s sword aimed at Grid was filled with real killing intent.
It was the moment when Grid’s gaze followed the sword that was going to pierce his heart...
The world turned black and white and stopped. No, it was more accurate to say that time had stopped. Garam was frozen just like this and the sound of bells was heard from behind Grid, who was too scared to breathe.
“Why did you save it?” In a world where everything had stopped and even the sound disappeared, only Grid and Chiyou’s voices were heard.
“Then should I just watch?” Grid replied.
“You don’t have the power to save it.”
“I had to fight to know that.”
“You would’ve died in one second.”
“You don’t know that.”
The breaths of the blue dragon, white tiger, and black tortoise. Grid had three skills that hadn’t been used yet. He had planned to stop Garam’s strike with the White Tiger’s Breath then shock the river with the Blue Dragon’s Breath to make him faint. He would use this opportunity to move the boat and try to explore new possibilities by using a single dance with the Black Tortoise’s Breath. Well, there was no guarantee this would work.
A smile appeared on Chiyou’s indifferent face. “I like the tenacity and spirit used to develop the sword dances so far when it was just a means of directing the ritual.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter