Chapter 21: Another Thread of Fate Connects (3)
Light Novel: Volume 1 Chapter 21
Manhwa: Chapters 24
Episode 7. Another Thread of Fate Connects (3)
A month had passed in no time.
During that time, Lee Gwak had been thoroughly engrossed in mastering the meteor hammer. Learning the meteor hammer turned out to be much more difficult than he had anticipated.
This was especially because the cord was not ordinary but a highly elastic whip. The slightest extra force would alter the trajectory, often resulting in numerous cuts and scrapes.
Though not visible through his clothes, his body was covered in cuts and bruises. Even the slightest brush against his clothes caused him excruciating pain, but a faint smile still tugged at the corners of his mouth.
It was because he felt he was finally getting a sense of how to handle the meteor hammer. Having grasped the subtleties of the meteor hammer to some extent, he thought it was time to seriously learn the Invisible Spider Puncture Art.
Lee Gwak gently rubbed his left forearm. He could feel the meteor hammer coiled around his arm.
But it was hidden by the sleeve, unseen from the outside.
Lee Gwak hadn’t told anyone that he had learned the meteor hammer. Even Seo Jong-myeong, who was closest to him, did not know that Lee Gwak had the meteor hammer.
Lee Gwak had no doubt that the meteor hammer would become his trump card.
Lee Gwak let out a soft sigh.
Today was the day Seo Jong-myeong had spoken of. Just like Seo Jong-myeong had said, he had been sent on a mission outside as a support.
Seo Jong-myeong asked,
“Have you packed everything?”
“Then let’s go. Everyone is waiting.”
Lee Gwak followed Seo Jong-myeong toward the main gate of the Outer Hall.
In the plaza in front of the Outer Hall’s main gate, about a hundred warriors were waiting for them. Among them, Lee Gwak saw a few familiar faces like Seok Yi-cheon and Gok Chae-bong.
Lee Gwak thought it was fortunate. Having some familiar faces with him on the mission would make him feel less lonely.
“Come on over.”
“Were you drafted too?”
The two greeted Lee Gwak warmly.
Lee Gwak looked around and said,
“It doesn’t seem like only those from the Outer Hall have been drafted for this mission.”
“Do you see those people in green robes over there? They’re from the Creation Pavilion.1 They’re the main force, and we’re just here to support them. Besides them, there are many other martial artists whose cultivation seems extraordinary.”
At Seok Yi-cheon’s reply, Lee Gwak carefully observed the men dressed in green robes.
If the symbol of the Outer Hall was brown robes, the symbol of the Creation Pavilion was green.
The Creation Pavilion was a support organization within the Jade Heaven Alliance.
It managed both the external and internal affairs of the Jade Heaven Alliance and directed various events and training. The difference between them and the Outer Hall was that they were not subordinate to anything, but acted independently.
It was then.
A middle-aged martial artist who appeared to be in his late thirties stepped forward, projecting his voice strongly. His voice, filled with profound internal energy, overpowered the surroundings.
“It’s the Master of the Creation Pavilion.”
“Even Master Dan himself is coming to support? What kind of situation is it that even Master Dan has to come out?”
The middle-aged martial artist was none other than Dan Mok-wol, the Master of the Creation Pavilion.
He was a man reputed to lead the Creation Pavilion excellently, with his great martial prowess and exceptional intelligence.
However, it was extremely rare for him to take action personally.
The fact that Dan Mok-wol himself had stepped out was enough to make the people present realize that this mission was far from ordinary.
Dan Mok-wol’s booming voice continued,
“I know you all have a lot of questions, but be patient. All your questions will be answered once we reach our destination. From now on, everyone will follow me. Make sure to manage your stamina so that not a single person falls behind. Understood?”
“Good! The martial artists of the Creation Pavilion will depart first, followed by the Outer Hall. Let’s go!”
With Dan Mok-wol at the lead, a large group exited the gate of the Jade Heaven Alliance.
A long procession followed.
In the midst of it was Lee Gwak.
As Lee Gwak followed the party in silence, he suddenly looked back. He then saw quite a number of people standing on the walls of the Jade Heaven Alliance. They were too far away to distinguish their faces, but he felt that they were the high-ranking members of the Jade Heaven Alliance.
“We’re finally departing.”
A man who looked like a scholar in his mid-forties muttered, as he watched the procession recede into the distance.
The scholar-looking man wore a sky-blue robe with a belt tightly fastened around his waist. With cold glassy eyes and an expressionless face, he was none other than Joo Shin-yoon, the leader of the Inner Court of the Jade Heaven Alliance.
Next to Joo Shin-yoon stood a martial artist with an imposing presence.
His face was full of wrinkles and scars, and one eye was covered by a black eye patch. From his remaining good eye, a terrifying light burst forth, overwhelming the people around him.
He also watched the procession move away into the distance.
There were many martial artists in the Jade Heaven Alliance, but there was only one with such an intense and unique presence.
Dark Blood Assassin, Nam Il-geuk.2
He was the leader of the Main Court and one of the few old warriors who had directly experienced the Great Heavenly Blood War a hundred years ago.
The Great Heavenly Blood War had taken his right eye and killed his family. Because of that, he harbored a hatred for the Celestial Demon Union more than anyone else.
He was the only one who had objected to the Celestial Demon Union’s request for cooperation regarding the Lunatic Pugilist.
Nam Il-geuk opened his mouth,
“It sure took a long time. Still, it’s fortunate. Now the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground can finally be opened again.”3
“It’s all thanks to you, Master Nam, for insisting strongly. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know when we would have it reopened.”
“It was only possible because you helped. Now all that’s left is to use the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground to strengthen our forces.”
“Heh, everything will be fine.”
Joo Shin-yoon smiled.
During the Great Heavenly Blood War, the fate of Jianghu hung in the balance.
The number of absolute masters and peak masters was far inferior to that of the Demon Sect, and the overall combat power was also inferior.
So in response to this issue, the first leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance, Cho Yeon-woon, created the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground to train martial artists.
Young martial artists of Jianghu entered the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground, and those who passed through all the gates were reborn as the peak masters of Jianghu.
They made significant contributions during the Great Heavenly Blood War and helped bring peace to Jianghu. And some of those who survived the war grew to become absolute masters.
The Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was said to push humans to the extreme, allowing them to surpass their limits. Therefore, there was nothing better for training talented individuals.
Until now, however, due to various political issues, the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground had been closed. The biggest problem above all was that the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was not in the territory of the Jade Heaven Alliance but somewhere else.
It was on Mount Hua Sect’s front yard, specifically Mount Shaohua, so they had to request cooperation.
The Mount Hua Sect, which had led the way during the Great Heavenly Blood War, for some reason, restrained its activities in Jianghu afterward. They weren’t the only ones. Other sects that had dominated Jianghu like the Wudang Sect and Shaolin Temple also closed their doors and prohibited external activities.
Jianghu lumped these three factions together and called them the Hidden Supremes.4 The Hidden Supremes were also part of the Ten Supremes. However, their power and presence were so great that it was said that they might even surpass the Jade Heaven Alliance.
Hence, they were also treated as the sleeping giants.
No matter how powerful the Jade Heaven Alliance claimed to be as the supreme power of Jianghu, they could not afford to treat the Hidden Supremes lightly.
This was because the legend of the strongest martial artist of all time could be found in the Mount Hua Sect.5
Even martial artists whose fame resonated throughout Jianghu shudder at the mere mention of his name.
It was said that the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was created by the first leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance in collaboration with the strongest martial artist of all time.
Two months ago, the Jade Heaven Alliance had finally come to an agreement with Mount Hua Sect to open the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. They also agreed to send all of the talents they had gathered from all over the world to train in the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.
Today, the people who went outside of the Jade Heaven Alliance were those who would support the training of the gathered talent.
Among them, there were instructors in charge of martial arts, people responsible for miscellaneous tasks, and someone who would be in charge of the machinery.
Joo Shin-yoon and Nam Il-geuk have worked diligently for this day for the past month.
“Those who pass the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground will be the ones to dominate Jianghu in the future.”
A smile curved at the corners of Joo Shin-yoon’s lips.
Nam Il-geuk nodded beside him.
Nam Il-geuk was also one of the martial artists who had passed through the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.
* * *
The group rested during the day and marched at night.
When Lee Gwak asked Seo Jong-myeong for the destination, Seo Jong-myeong evasively said that he would know when they arrived.
Seok Yi-cheon and Gok Chae-bong were also in the dark about the destination. It seemed that only a very few martial artists, including Creation Pavilion’s Dan Mok-wol, knew where they were headed.
‘Where exactly are we going?’
Since they rested during the day and moved only at night, it was impossible to guess their destination by the surrounding landscape or direction.
In the end, Lee Gwak gave up trying to figure out where they were going.
It was something he would find out upon arrival anyway. So Lee Gwak decided to relax and practiced the Eight Snakes Art whenever he could.
After awakening the fifth snake, his cultivation noticeably increased every time he practiced the Eight Snakes Art.
Yet, the people around him never noticed this fact at all.
Even Seo Jong-myeong failed to sense that Lee Gwak’s internal energy had become powerful enough to generate sword qi.
The greatest advantage of the Eight Snakes Art was its secrecy. And Lee Gwak took full advantage of it. Thanks to it, he could endure the grueling marches without getting tired.
It was almost twenty days after departing from the Jade Heaven Alliance that the group arrived at their destination.
“We’ve finally arrived.”
“Phew! I can’t move anymore.”
Groans erupted here and there.
Many were sprawled on the ground, breathing heavily. Exhausted from their long journey, they didn’t even bother to look around.
Lee Gwak surveyed his surroundings with a calm gaze.
As the sun rose, the landscape that had been hidden in darkness gradually revealed itself.
Lee Gwak involuntarily exclaimed in surprise. In the vacant lot, huts that had been weathered by the winds of time were barely holding their shape. They looked as if they would collapse with a single touch, and in fact, more than half had crumbled, leaving only their foundations. The only relatively intact building was a red pavilion in the deep distance.
“What is this place?”
“This is Mount Shaohua.”6
“Yes! It was the last bastion for the warriors of Jianghu during the Great Heavenly Blood War. There are trap mechanisms and obstacles installed all over Mount Shaohua to push warriors to their limits in training. They call it the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.”
During the Great Heavenly Blood War, the warriors of Jianghu were driven to a corner by the Demon Sect, or what is now known as the Celestial Demon Union. At that time, it was one of the Nine Great Sects, the Mount Hua Sect, that offered them protection.
The Mount Hua Sect conceded Mount Shaohua to the warriors of Jianghu, who sought to make a comeback.
Then, a young warrior suggested something.
He thought that a more systematic and rigorous training method was necessary, and proposed the installation of training mechanisms and obstacles throughout the mountain.
It started off as a humble beginning. But as they made continual improvements and pooled their thoughts, it became increasingly sophisticated. Add to that the vision and secret techniques of various sects, and the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was born.
The warriors gathered at Mount Shaohua loathed the idea of the training gates, enhanced by their own sect’s secret techniques, being breached by warriors of other sects more than death itself. As a result, the gates only became more perilous, dangerous enough that passing through them was not easy, even at the risk of one’s life.
Warriors challenged the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground daily. However, only a small fraction managed to pass through, and even those who did often suffered severe injuries.
Whenever someone passed through a gate, the leadership would immediately identify and rectify any weaknesses in the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. The next challenger would then give their all to find a way to pass through, and the leadership would fix any new weaknesses again. Through this cycle of continuous improvement, the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground evolved into an impregnable fortress.
The martial artists who passed through the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground made significant contributions during the Great Heavenly Blood War and grew to be the pillars of Jianghu.
The Steel Blood Hell Training Ground played a large role in the development of Jianghu. However, for the past hundred years, it had been sealed.
After the end of the Great Heavenly Blood War, the Mount Hua Sect closed down the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground within their territory. Therefore, for a hundred years, no one could enter.
“Has it really been closed for a hundred years?”
“It seems the Mount Hua Sect thought Jianghu no longer needed the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.”
Over the years, many people in Jianghu had demanded the Mount Hua Sect to reopen the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. But the Mount Hua Sect remained silent, ignoring their wishes.
“Then why did the Mount Hua Sect change its mind? You said they hadn’t responded for a hundred years?”
“Because circumstances have changed.”
“What do you mean?”
“While you were paralyzed and bedridden, an event occurred where one of Jade Heaven Alliance’s major armed factions clashed with the Celestial Demon Union. All of its members were killed, leaving only one survivor.”
“That’s when the Jade Heaven Alliance realized that the peace with the Celestial Demon Union would not last long. So they persistently requested the Mount Hua Sect to reopen the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground, and a decision was made a month ago. Now you understand why we are here.”
A fierce light burst from Seo Jong-myeong’s eyes. Lee Gwak was overwhelmed by the intensity of his gaze.
“The Steel Blood Hell Training Ground is not merely the exclusive domain of the Jade Heaven Alliance. Soon, elites and geniuses from each sect of Jianghu will gather here. This place will become akin to a small Jianghu.”
I’m happy to read and know more about the history of the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground since it wasn’t expounded on in the manhwa. Anyway, thank you for reading!
- Creation Pavilion. Raws: 만물전(萬物殿).
- 萬 wàn, mò – ten thousand; innumerable
- 物 wù – thing, substance, creature
- 殿 diàn – palace hall
- Dark Blood Assassin. Raws: 묵혈객(墨血客).
- 墨 mò – ink stick
- 血 xuè – blood
- 客 kè – customer / visitor / guest
- Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. Raws: 철혈지옥수련관(鐵血地獄修鍊關).
- 鐵 tiě – iron (metal) / arms / weapons / hard / strong / violent / unshakeable / determined / close / tight (slang)
- 血 xuè – blood
- 地獄 dìyù – hell / infernal / underworld
- 修 xiū – to decorate / to embellish / to repair / to build / to write / to cultivate / to study / to take (a class)
- 鍊 liàn – smelt, refine; distill, condense
- 關 guān – mountain pass
- Hidden Supremes. Raws: 은패(隱覇).
- 隱 yǐn – secret; hidden;
- 覇 bà – rule by might rather than right
- Strongest person in the world. Raws: 고금제일인(古今第一人).
- 古今 gǔjīn – then and now / ancient and modern
- 第一 dìyī – first / number one / primary
- 人 rén – person
- Mount Shaohua. Raws: 소화산(小華山). A mountain lower than Mount Hua, so it is named Shaohua or Xiaohua or “Little Mount Hua.” This is translated as Mount Sohua in the manhwa.
- 小 xiǎo – small / tiny / few / young
- 華山 Huà Shān – Mt Hua in Shaanxi, western mountain of the Five Sacred Mountains
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