Chapter 25: Where the Sun Shines, the Shadows Fall (4)
Light Novel: Volume 1 Chapter 25
Manhwa: Chapters 27-28
Episode 8. Where the Sun Shines, the Shadows Fall (4)
At Mount Shaohua, there was an old red pavilion.
It had been built around the same time as the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. A worn plaque hung precariously at the entrance.
The old plaque had been worn down by the harsh winds over the course of more than a hundred years, and so the three words ‘Jade Heaven Alliance’ that were written on the plaque were faded.
It was in this red pavilion that the Jade Heaven Alliance had its beginning.
It was here that the heroes during the Great Heavenly Blood War nurtured the martial artists and sought a way to oppose the demonic cult.
Those heroes no longer existed, but new ones had taken their place.
Inside the pavilion, men could be seen gathered around wearing masks despite the enclosed space. They were the instructors of the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. Centered around the Head Instructor, ten instructors were sitting facing each other across a long table.
The room was silent.
Despite the presence of eleven martial artists, not a single breath could be heard, it was so quiet that it seemed as if no one was there.
It was the Head Instructor who broke the silence.
“Is everything ready?”
“The weapons have been distributed.”
“Then everything is ready.”
At the Tenth Instructor’s response, the Head Instructor interlocked his fingers and rested his chin on them. His eyes, visible through the mask, shone ominously.
The instructors looked at him wordlessly.
Although they hid their faces behind masks, they knew each other’s identities. Yet they continued to wear them because the masks served as a barrier. It was the only thing that minimized the guilt and shame they felt.
The events that were about to unfold here were beyond the moral compass of Jianghu, a secret that must never be revealed to the outside world.
The Head Instructor looked around at the instructors with piercing eyes.
“Starting tomorrow, we will begin the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground. Brace yourselves. Many talents will get hurt or even die.”
The instructors’ pupils shook momentarily at the Head Instructor’s words, but no one spoke up, they simply continued to listen to him in silence.
“Now that we’ve reopened the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground, we must endure any disgrace. Do not give your affection to the talents. They are weapons being cultivated for the war against the Celestial Demon Union. They must overcome all the trials of the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground on their own, with their own strength. They must perfect themselves, and we must be colder than anyone else for the sake of their perfection. Do not be afraid to get blood on your hands. Do you understand?”
The ten instructors answered in unison at the Head Instructor’s chilling words.
Looking at each of them in turn, the Head Instructor continued,
“When the fate of Jianghu was on the brink during the Great Heavenly Blood War, the first Alliance Leader prepared for a counterattack right here. Without him, Jianghu would have fallen into the hands of those despicable Celestial Demon Union. This place is the final bastion of Jianghu, perfected with the aid of the first Alliance Leader. Here, we must produce as many swords as possible to fight against the Celestial Demon Union. Forget any compassion or personal feelings for the time being. Become as ruthless and harsh as possible. That is your role.”
“We begin at dawn tomorrow. I want everyone to retreat and check everything thoroughly one more time. All but the First Instructor may leave.”
The instructors, except for the First Instructor, stood up, bid goodbye to the Head Instructor with a fist and palm salute, and exited.
Once only the two of them remained, the Head Instructor removed his mask, revealing an elderly man with silver hair.
He had piercing sharp eyes and thin lips like a well-honed blade, such features made him look even more formidable.
After revealing his face, the Head Instructor spoke to the First Instructor,
“Now that it’s just the two of us, you can take off your mask.”
The First Instructor removed his mask, revealing the face of a man who appeared to be in his early thirties.
His icy expression, combined with a twisted look in his eyes, made him look quite dangerous.
The Head Instructor looked at the First Instructor with a pained expression.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”
The First Instructor chuckled. However, the Head Instructor was not fooled by his laughter.
“It’s alright, Jong-myeong. You don’t need to laugh like that in front of me.”
“I really am fine. I’m actually in a very good mood right now.”
Shrugging his shoulders, the First Instructor was none other than Seo Jong-myeong, known publicly as just another member of the Outer Hall.
Seo Jong-myeong was not intimidated even in front of the Head Instructor. Looking at him, the Head instructor sighed inwardly.
“Hoo! The loss of the Shadowless Battalion is truly a great loss for the main alliance. Who would have thought that the Celestial Demon Union would strike us in the back so cowardly? So don’t blame yourself too much. Their deaths are definitely not your fault.”
The moment the Head Instructor mentioned the Shadowless Battalion, the smile vanished from Seo Jong-myeong’s face.
“They were not just mere members.”
“They were my fellow disciples, and the last disciples of the Diancang Sect.”
“With their deaths, the lineage of the Diancang Sect is as good as severed.”
“Aren’t you still here? You can still continue the lineage of the Diancang Sect.”
“Ha! Shouldn’t Elder Yang know better how ridiculous that is? Even with you being in great health, you’re still far from being able to rebuild the Golden Arrow Sect, have you?
“That’s just what the rise and fall of a sect is like. Once it starts to decline, reversing the trend is almost impossible. The secret techniques of the Diancang Sect that my fellow disciples have learned have perished with them, and Diancang will now fade away as a name of the past.”
Madness began to crept upon Seo Jong-myeong’s eyes.
The Head Instructor looked at him with pity.
Seo Jong-myeong was the last disciple of the Diancang Sect.
Once one of the nine great sects of the era, the Diancang Sect had fallen into complete ruin, leaving only Seo Jong-myeong behind.
The misfortune began when the Celestial Demon Union, having retreated from the Great Heavenly Blood War a hundred years ago, settled in Yunnan Province, not far from where the Diancang Sect was located.
At that time, the Diancang Sect, being far from the Central Plains, participated only minimally in the Great Heavenly Blood War. They had sent only the least possible number of forces to ensure their own safety.
As a result, the Diancang Sect was able to preserve their full strength. However, that also led to a strained relationship with the Jade Heaven Alliance, which had won the war.
The Jade Heaven Alliance only recognized those who shed blood and fought alongside them. The Diancang Sect did not meet their standards.
As time passed, the Diancang Sect and the Jade Heaven Alliance grew further apart, eventually ceasing all contact.
The Celestial Demon Union exploited this rift.
Taking advantage of the strained relationship, they ambushed the Diancang Sect. Since the attack was so sudden, the Diancang Sect was unable to respond properly and was forced to abandon its territory.
By the time the Jade Heaven Alliance noticed the plight of the Diancang Sect, it was too late.
Most of the disciples of the Diancang Sect were either dead or scattered. Seo Jong-myeong’s master was a young elder who had escaped from the Diancang Sect at that time.
He suffered critical injuries during his escape and was treated somewhere hidden. However, the injuries were so severe that it took over ten years before he could move again.
He tried to gather the scattered disciples to revive the Diancang Sect, but it was too late. Most of the surviving disciples had either died or lost the will to live.
In the end, he resolved to raise a disciple to raise the Diancang Sect once more. For over a decade, he wandered the land, looking for talents worthy of inheriting the Diancang Sect’s techniques.
Seo Jong-myeong was the first disciple he found with difficulty. After that, about ten more young talents became the elder’s disciples.
The elder passed on his own hatred and desire for revenge against the Celestial Demon Union to Seo Jong-myeong and his disciples. Because of this, Seo Jong-myeong grew up harboring an extraordinary hatred towards the Celestial Demon Union.
After his master died a senseless death due to his injuries worsening, Seo Jong-myeong, along with his fellow disciples, devoted themselves to the Jade Heaven Alliance. Thus, the Shadowless Battalion was formed and tasked with the important duty of monitoring any stirrings of the Celestial Demon Union at the frontline. Should the Celestial Demon Union make any moves, they were to detect it first and notify the Jade Heaven Alliance.
Seo Jong-myeong and his disciples willingly took on this dangerous mission. They showed their determination to stop the Celestial Demon Union at the front lines, even if they could not revive the Diancang Sect.
Tragedy struck them two years ago.
In an unexpected moment, they were ambushed, and all of Seo Jong-myeong’s disciples, except for him, lost their lives. Since that day, Seo Jong-myeong became a completely different person.
Always smiling, but within, he became a demon fueled by vengeance.
The Head Instructor sighed softly.
“I sent you to the Outer Hall to cool your head, but it seems it was to no avail.”
“Thanks to that, my mind has cleared.”
“I know you’ve been busy even in the Outer Hall. You’re preparing for your revenge, aren’t you?”
“Are you going to stop me?”
“No! If I were, I wouldn’t have brought you here. All I want to say is to be cold-headed. Don’t let any emotion influence you, think and act as coldly as possible. Only those who think and act with a clear mind can achieve what they desire. That’s all what I wanted to say to you.”
Seo Jong-myeong bowed to the Head Instructor to express his gratitude.
He was sincere.
The Head Instructor had always been on his side.
He was the one who had accepted the disciples of the Diancang Sect into the Jade Heaven Alliance, who had sent the wounded Seo Jong-myeong to the Outer Hall to rest, and who had called him to this place as an instructor.
Without him, Seo Jong-myeong wouldn’t have lived with a sound mind as he did now.
“Is living in the Outer Hall manageable?”
“There’s only one member to speak of, what’s there to manage?”
“I deliberately assigned you to such a remote place so that you wouldn’t be disturbed, but it seems like you’re not too pleased with it.”
“I am grateful for it.”
Seo Jong-myeong smiled.
“Did you bring the member?”
“Since he’s the only one, I should at least look after him, right? He adapted well on his own, so I haven’t had to worry.”
“He’s passionate about martial arts and seems to have a good head on his shoulders.”
“What’s his level?”
“His talent doesn’t seem bad, but his age is a bit of a downside. However, he seems to have improved a lot since the beginning, but I’m not sure about his exact level.”
“Hmm! Is that so?”
“He seems to have developed quite a knack for mechanism engineering, though. He might be of use to you in that respect.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
The Head Instructor nodded.
Seo Jong-myeong put his mask back on and stood up.
“I’ll take my leave now.”
Left alone, the Head Instructor muttered to himself,
“At times like this, I miss him. If he were here, there would’ve been no need to open the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.”
The martial artist, who had once pummeled the world with his two fists, without any support from any faction.
It had been more than a hundred years since he had disappeared from the world, but the Head Instructor still remembered him vividly.
* * *
The Steel Blood Hell Training Ground had opened, and all the talents who had climbed Mount Shaohua entered it.
The faces of these talents were bright.
They had no doubt in their abilities and talents. They were confident that their talents would allow them to pass through even the most formidable gates. However, their confidence was shattered into pieces the moment they entered the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.
The Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was no place for humans to pass through.
The mechanisms had been reinforced to be more deadly, and the martial techniques had been renovated and improved to be several times more powerful than before.
For the young tigers who had not yet grown their claws, the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was too terrifying and fierce to pass through.
But they couldn’t back down.
The instructors mercilessly pushed the young talents to the brink. Those who retreated were ruthlessly punished with the hammer of judgment, pushing them to their limits.
They were without pity or tears.
Countless talents died.
Every day, cries of agony could be heard. The once-quiet Mount Shaohua was stained with the blood of the talents.
The lodgings that had been filled with talents now had increasing vacancies. In the rooms overtaken by darkness, the lights never turned on again.
Those who survived were given elixirs.
The Jade Heaven Alliance had distributed all the elixirs they had prepared until now. Thanks to this, the achievements of the talents skyrocketed, and with it, their chances of survival increased slightly.
The Jade Heaven Alliance spared no expense in investing in the surviving talents. Secret manuals were also passed on according to the talents’ characteristics and dispositions.
They grew stronger day by day.
They broke down the gates that stood in their way one by one and they became terrifyingly strong and powerful.
They were no longer helpless young tigers.
Through the trials of hell, they were growing into great tigers.
Thus, three years passed.
Thank you for reading!
- Shadowless Battalion. Raws: 무영대(無影隊).
- 無 wú – not to have / no / none / not / to lack / un- / -less
- 影 yǐng – picture / image / film / movie / photograph / reflection / shadow / trace
- 隊 duì – squadron / team / group
- Golden Arrow Sect. Raws: 금사문(金射門).
- 金 Jīn – gold; metals in general; money
- 射 shè, yì, yè – shoot, eject, issue forth, emit
- 門 mén – gate, door, entrance, opening
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