Chapter 21. The Spark of The Alliance-Demon War
The number of people that gathered in order to strike down the Heavenly Demon Church numbered around 5,000 men. Since their numbers kept on rising as others joined in, the estimated number of martial artists in their group would number about 8000 when they would fight the Heavenly Demon Church.
Thanks to the immense amount of people here, the Gansu Branch of the Alliance were extremely troubled. The people they could house in the Gansu branch were limited, so they were unable to hold all the members that came in.
Because of that, the Gansu branch rented out all the houses in the area to house the members of the Alliance. However, even that was reaching its limit. There really were an immense amount of people coming in. Since crowds of people who claimed to be allies of the Alliance kept gathering, the Gansu branch eventually had to build tents for the newcomers.
“Except for the Zhuge Clan, who went into isolationism about a year ago, every clan connected to the Alliance sent their elites. Right now, 5000 experts are under your command, and in 4 days, about 2000 more will arrive.”
The strategist of the Alliance.
Mystical Hand Sanguan Zhongda.
The old scholar, who was nearing the age of 60, was reporting something politely to a person.
There weren’t many people he had to show respect to in the martial world. The person in front of him was one of those people. That man was one of the three sovereigns, Baek Mu Ryang, the Dao Emperor.
“I made the people here quite troubled. I feel a little sorry for them.”
“We’re here to slay the great demon. Everyone here is sure to respect your decision.”
Baek Mu Ryang.
He, who had a saintly look about him just a moment ago, suddenly grinned.
“But did they truly come here because of my order? They’re really overdoing it with the amount of people they’re bringing here.”
Sanguan Zhongda had a faint smile on his face.
“They probably have an ulterior motive.”
“It’s no surprise, considering the fact that you were the one that was pulling the strings all along.”
“I just let them have a small peek at the hidden truth.”
The hidden truth. It was the fact that the Heavenly Demon Church was actually after the tomb of Ak Jung Pae, the Sword Demon.
He leaked that fact a little on purpose. The effects were immediate. Multiple clans that belonged to the Alliance gathered their elites, and sent them here. They were obviously aiming to take the legendary martial arts technique. They weren’t here to destroy the demonic church. The Alliance pretended to not notice their intent.
“By the way, do we still not have any info on who is coming from the Heavenly Demon Church?”
“No. Since they are a organization that’s quite hard to infiltrate, their actions have yet to be revealed.”
“Che, that’s always the problem.”
The Heavenly Demon Church’s trait as a religious group made them very hard to infiltrate. Even if someone managed to get in, they would always stay in the outer circle of the church. The church’s closed nature proved to be useful in keeping out information.
“The Black Moon Guild probably knows about all this at this point, right?”
“Yes, they should’ve noticed by now.”
“Who’s coming from their side?”
“I heard the Chasing Blood Lord is coming.”
“Hoh? Sang Dong Ha, that fellow’s on the move?” (TL: Chapter 15)
“Things are getting pretty fun.”
The Dao Emperor Baek Mu Ryang started tapping on the table next to him, and spoke.
“By the way, do you actually think that everything will go according to the plan?”
Sanguan Zhongda smirked.
“Have you ever seen anything this big ever go according to plan?”
“Yeah, you’re right. I wonder what’s going to go wrong this time…. I wonder what kind of unexpected variables there would be this time.”
“I’m not really worried about those variables. What worries me is the possibility that we would be put into the worst possible situation.”
“The worst situation……”
Baek Mu Ryang had a playful smile on his face.
“Are you talking about him?”
“You’re not really sure about the results, even with me?”
“Right now, yes.”
Baek Mu Ryang made a sad expression when he heard this.
“Why do you think I’d be weaker than him, when we’re both one of the three sovereigns?”
The figure they are talking about.
They were talking about the Dark Demon Emperor, Gongson Chun Gi.
“I don’t think that you would lose. Don’t misunderstand……”
“I just think you should try to avoid fighting him.”
“Can’t I just beat him up?”
“That would just complicate things, but if things come down to the worst, you would have to do that.”
“It’s complicated, huh.”
Sanguan Zhongda smiled.
Of course it would be hard for the likes of Baek Mu Ryang to understand. That man was only interested in fighting, so the man was a little lacking when it came to politics.
Despite all that, the reason why Baek Mu Ryang was able to become the leader of the Alliance was because of his unparalleled strength. His immense strength was what gave him power and fame.
‘If you look at it that way, Gongson Chun Gi would truly be an amazing person.’
Gongson Chun Gi possessed undisputed strength, and he also was talented in politics. Sanguan Zhongda didn’t want to admit it, but Gongson Chun Gi’s every move was something that had every possible situation imaginable accounted for. This was something that had to be noted carefully.
The Heavenly Balance.
To think there was one more person who knew about it other than he.
It was quite a shock. The balance between the three powers. To think that the one maintaining it wasn’t him, but the Heavenly Demon Church…….
It wasn’t’t something he could easily accept. It hurt his pride quite a lot.
‘This is definitely something I have to look into.’
The one that planned everything up till now was Sanguan Zhongda. He was the one that made the leader make his move, and he was also the one that leaked some info to the clans. That’s how he created this immense battle between the two sides. Just to confirm one thing…….
‘If the leader of the Heavenly Demon Church truly wants to maintain the balance, he’ll try to avoid this fight at all costs.’
But even that will be too hard now. The things that were at stake here became too big.
In the worst scenario. One of them would suffer a hit they won’t be able to recover from. Then the balance would crumble. That cannot be allowed to happen.
They decided to work with the Dark Moon Guild with that purpose. If only one of the powers take a hit, the balance would crumble. Then what would happen if all three of them took a hit? The balance would be maintained.
The Black Moon Guild was actually the variable that made the two other powers hesitate from making a move.
‘Show me, Gongson Chun Gi. Prove to me that you were the real master of the martial world.’
If Gongson Chun Gi showed even a slight movement of trying to avoid the fight, Sanguan Zhongda would do anything in order to cancel the fight between the two powers.
* * *
“You found something interesting?”
Mystical Hand Sanguan Zhongda.
He was massaging his forehead as he was looking at the White Tiger Lord.
The White Tiger Lord.
Sanguan Jin Gul, Sanguan Zhongda’s nephew, nodded and spoke.
“Yes, the spy we put in the Black Moon Guild brought some interesting information.”
“The Black Moon Guild?”
“Yes. It’s about the girl that you told us to monitor carefully, Neng Ha Young. That’s why I came here in a hurry.”
“Neng Ha Young…….”
Sanguan Zhongda’s tired face turned into one of interest. Since a long time back, he had constantly tried to create inner conflicts within the guild. His strategy somewhat worked, which caused various cracks to appear in the Black Moon Guild.
But the one that was carefully fixing these cracked was Neng Ha Young. She was only 15. At that age, most girls would fanatically try to collect various accessories, but not Neng Ha Young. She was carefully trying to maintain the balance between the guild and the Alliance in the shadows. She wasn’t someone to be taken lightly.
“What is it?”
Seeing the expression on his uncle’s face, Sanguan Jin Gul made a satisfied smile.
“She was trying to find a person.”
“Yes. It was a order that was personally given by her. Because of that, the Black Moon Guild is expending everything they have to collect information.”
“Yeah? Who’re they trying to find?”
Sanguan Zhongda tilted his head a bit when he got the document from his nephew. That was because he had seen a name that he didn’t recognize on it.
“Cho Ryu Hyang? Blue Sky Mercenaries?”
“Yes, he’s the heir to the Blue Sky Mercenaries. He’s now 11.”
Sanguan Zhongda made a confused expression as he put the document down.
“Why’s Neng Ha Young trying to find a little brat?”
“We got a detailed explanation as to why she was trying to find him. It’s all in the document.”
“I don’t have time for that. Tell me yourself.”
Sanguan Jin Gul made a surprised expression. His uncle always did things the official way, no matter how urgent a matter was. But to think that this uncle would be this rushed…. Did his uncle find this matter extremely important? Sanguan Jin Gul’s face turned serious.
“Neng Ha Young seems to believe that the boy has a connection to the Heavenly Demon Church.”
“The Heavenly Demon Church?”
What’s the Heavenly Demon Church got anything to do with this? Sanguan Zhongda didn’t understand. But when he heard what his nephew said next, his face stiffened.
“It seems that she has met up with a figure from the church.”
Sanguan Zhongda’s face changed greatly. This wasn’t something that couldn’t be ignored.
“The Heavenly Demon Church and the Black Moon Guild met up with each other? Is this true?”
“I can swear my life upon it.”
Sanguan Zhongda nodded when he heard this. And he gestured his nephew to continue.
When he saw his uncle’s gesture, Sanguan Jin Gul organized the information in his head based on the level of importance. He then told his uncle these information carefully.
“Neng Ha Young immediately went back to Gansu after coming in contact with the people from the church, and began to search for Cho Ryu Hyang. Since this event wasn’t covered up quite well, the spies we implanted in the guild were able to attain this information easily.”
“She’s collecting information without even trying to hide her movements? This must be quite urgent.”
“Yes, she did seem hurried. But the information they collected on the boy will probably be minimal. We were hindering them from getting the info since while back.”
“Did you do that?”
“Yes. Since all this happened pretty fast, I did it on my own accord. Is there anything wrong, perhaps…….”
“No, you did well.”
Sanguan Jin Gul made a happy face when he got praised. After all, his uncle rarely praised anyone at all.
“Cho Ryu Hyang…….”
A brat appeared at an unexpected time. Sanguan Zhongda began thinking. He soon opened his mouth.
“You said Neng Ha Young was here, at Gansu?”
“Yes, she’s currently residing in the Black Moon Guild’s Gansu branch.”
“So she came here for the events in the Qilian mountains? To think that she’d come to the Alliance’s territory just for that, she’s quite rash.”
“We don’t know why she came here yet. We’ll investigate.”
“She’s probably here for what’s going on with the mountains. She probably made this move separately from Sang Dong Ha.”
“What shall we do?”
Sanguan Zhongda began thinking. He soon spoke.
“It’s good to get rid of unpredictable variables. Leak the info that she’s here to Sang Dong Ha. And leak the info about who she’s trying to find, too.”
“It wouldn’t have much of an effect in the whole situation, but it’s better to get rid of this variable, anyways.”
“We’ll try to be as quick as possible.”
“Good. Now, leave.”
Even now, Sanguan Zhongda didn’t realize what kind of a relationship he would have with Cho Ryu Hyang in the future.
* * *
“The Sword Emperor Flag really is quite useful. To think I’d have the rare luck of seeing all of you, hoho…….”
The clan leaders gathered here made an awkward smile when they heard this.
“Well, you’re all busy, so I should understand. If I get sad because none of you want to meet up with an old man, you’ll just see me as an annoying senior, after all.”
“It seems your style of speaking hasn’t changed, chief.”
The old beggar.
When the king of all the beggars in the martial world, Tae Eul Shen Gai, said this, the tense atmosphere in the room relaxed a little bit.
Looking at the old beggar, the chief smiled.
“You’ve gotten old.”
“We all age, you know, did you think I wouldn’t get old?”
“The time I found you as a child seems just like yesterday. You’ve really aged.”
“…….Are you trying to set the mood by talking about things from the past again?”
The chief looked at Tae Eul Shen Gai with a sorrowful look, and spoke in a low voice.
“I seem to remember a young beggar that begged me to save him when I look at you. At least you were cute back then…. now…. well…….”
“Damn……. why are you bringing up a story from thirty years ago?”
Tae Eul Shen Gai’s face went red as he started to complain, but the chief didn’t stop teasing the man.
“Huh, now that he’s old, he just goes on to being all hostile to his savior. Times have been quite hard on me. They say you should never take in a young animal without caution……. old saying are always true, it seems.”
“Chief, please……. Let’s just get on with the meeting.”
The chief took a look at the old beggar’s face for a moment, and then nodded with a face of understanding.
“Since the old beggar wants me to stop so much, I will. Let’s get on with the meeting.”
Why did the chief always tease him? While Tae Eul Shen Gai was trying his best not to start complaining, the chief went on talking.
“Thank you for coming here to take care of the Heavenly Demon Church. I appreciate your hard work.”
The representatives of the clans all nodded. While they did come here because of the Sword Emperor Flag, they all had ulterior motives for being here.
‘Ak Jung Pae’s Moon Edge Blade Technique.’
No one was daring to say it out loud, but they were all here to take it for themselves. To them, the Heavenly Demon Church was just an obstacle.
“There’s not much that I can give for you hard-working people……. but I will make a proposal here for you. This is something that I’ve come up with, and it hasn’t been told to anyone yet. I think you’ll all like it.”
Sanguan Zhongda, who was standing behind the chief, made a confused expression. Why did the chief make it sound so grand? Just what was the he going to say? Sanguan Zhongda started getting anxious.
“I know that you’re all here for a personal reason. It’s sad, but this is reality. I understand.”
Everyone at the meeting room made a strange face. They were all keeping their movements secret. Since this was a matter that was quite embarrassing to talk about, everyone pretended to not know anything about it. But why did the Sword Emperor mention this? What did he have in his mind?
“I’ll make a proposal as the chief. You came here because of the Mood Edge Blade Technique, right? I’ll give it to you. Take it.”
“I’ll give it to the clan that finds it first. How is it? Isn’t this something that you’d like?”
“Ooh! Chief, are you speaking the truth?”
When Tae Eul Shen Gai said this, Baek Mu Ryang nodded.
“I always speak the truth. You know that, right? You know how truthful I am.”
Tae Eul Shen Gai thought a little bit, and nodded. Come to think of it, he never saw the chief lie. Looking at that, the leader of the Hebei Peng clan, Peng Mu Chun (彭蕪淺), laughed out loud.
“Kuhahaha! I like you, chief. The Peng clan sees you in a new light.”
“I’ve been told to be quite bold when I was young, hahaha.”
Sanguan Zhongda stood behind Baek Mu Ryang with a stupid look on his face.
‘Was I underestimating him?’
The chief he was looking at now wasn’t an ignorant musclehead. He was a clear-minded person who was analysing the situation quite accurately, and he also knew how to make the situation be advantageous for him.
The chief seemed to have a sly side to him, too. The meeting room, which seemed quite unmotivated just a while ago, was now bursting with energy.
The power to move the hearts of men.
‘The chief was the master of manipulation (庸人術), it seems…….’
The chief, feeling the heat in the air, glanced behind himself. Sanguan Zhongda was standing there with a pale face.
[What you’ve been planning till now is useless at this point. Truthfully, wasn’t the martial world too peaceful till now? I didn’t like the martial world in that state. The martial world should be a place where strength rules over all.]
It seemed the chief expected all this from the start.
‘I was an idiot.’
Sanguan Zhongda made a bitter smile when he heard the chief’s message. He was being played all along. The chief just struck him at the best possible moment. This gave Sanguan Zhongda quite a shock.
‘I’ve learned a good lesson.’
Sanguan Zhongda bowed down to the chief with a feeling of defeat. He was thanking the chief for teaching him a new lesson.
Looking at that, the chief smiled. It was finally time for the Alliance to rule the martial world.
‘I’ve waited too long.’
A still pool of water was bound to spoil. Sometimes, someone had to clear it out, even with excessive measures. That was what the chief thought, and the chief’s decision would spill much blood on the martial world.
The first Alliance/Demon war was about to begin.