Chapter 48. The Third Bet
The boy licked off the blood on his hand with his tongue. He could feel pain as he tasted the blood in his mouth. Come to think of it, no part of his body was undamaged at that point.
His whole body was filled with injuries. But he still managed to laugh. He laughed while being covered with blood. He was happy. He was happy taht he survived.
He was happy that he survived that hellhole. He managed to survive by using his comrades as a stepping stone.
Suddenly, the giant stone that covered one of the stone walls began to move, letting in a stream of light. The boy held up his hand to block it. After a while, his eyes began to adapt to the light.
“Is this it?”
“Hm, he looks useful.”
“He’s the boy that made it out of the the Prison of Life and Death (生死獄) in the shortest amount of time. His body is very solid, too. Even the Medicinal House approved of the boy’s physique.”
The boy didn’t know who the people outside were. Actually, there really was no need for him to know them.
“What is your name, child?”
The boy spat out the intestine he had been chewing, and answered.
He had forgotten his name a long time ago. After all, it was necessary to throw away useless things like names or memories in order to survive in this hell.
“Ke, I like your eyes. Good. Let’s use him. I hope the Pope likes him, too.”
“If he doesn’t like this boy either, I really don’t know who to choose.”
“Don’t worry. We’re sure to get a decent result this time.”
The old man approached the boy with a satisfied smile. The boy flinched, and instinctively swung his sword, but it was useless against the old man.
The boy had swung his sword straight at the old man’s neck, but the one to get hurt was unexpectedly, the boy. Looking at the boy, who had been stumbling backwards due to getting his hand ripped, the old man spoke.
“Che, looks like I’m going to have to teach you some manners before I take you to the Pope. Damn it, isn’t this boy more like an animal than a human right now?”
“I’ll fix him right now.‘
The man who had been standing behind the old man. He took out the whip hanging on his waist, and spoke with a dreary face.
(TL: Whoa, this is way more hardcore than the way Tang San learned manners…)
“It would do if you come back after four days, sir.”
“Alright. I’ll leave it to you.”
* * *
After four days, when the old man came back to visit, the boy looked very different from before. It was evident by the fact that the boy, who were a clean white robe, greeted the old man properly.
“Un Hui (雲輝) of the Earth Sword Party (地劍黨) greets Guardian Ju Sang San.”
The white leader from the Earth Sword Party. This was the new form of the boy.
“Hoh? You look quite nice like this. But Un Hui? Is that your real name?”
“How about your surname? Did you forget about it?”
Since it’s been so long since he had been called by that name, he just barely managed to remember his name.
“Well, fine. It should do. Follow me for now. We need to go see the Pope.”
Un Hui quietly followed Guardian Ju. He didn’t know what would happen in the future, but he definitely wouldn’t act foolishly like before.
This place was filled with monstrous experts like this old man here. If he made trouble here with the little power he had, he would die in an instant.
“This is where the Pope is. Act politely in front of him.”
Un Hui breathed carefully, and waited. Like the giant plaque of the building that read “Temple of The Sacred Heart (聖心殿)”, the door was equally giant.
After a while, the doors opened outwards, and the Pope who had been sitting inside could be seen.
The man who held the most power in the history of the church, and the Pope who was the strongest out of all others in history.
“Is this child the one?”
Gongson Chun Gi. He greeted his little visitor with a bored face.
“Yes. He’s the boy that passed the Prison of Life and Death in the shortest time. He’s 18 years old.”
“Hm. He looks younger though? What was the time it took him to pass the prison?”
“Eight months? He’s pretty good.”
But unlike what he was saying, one couldn’t really sense any thrill coming from Gongson Chun Gi. Ju Sang San became a little agitated when he saw this.
“Please look carefully, your holiness. This is a boy with a good physique that even the Medicinal House approved of. As he has solid foundation, and plenty of talent, he should be worthy of becoming your disciple.”
“Yeah? You might be right.”
Gongson Chun Gi looked at Un Hui with dull eyes.
Un Hui flinched, and stepped back. Without even knowing why he was doing it, he began to look around urgently.
‘What was that?’
Gongson Chun Gi, when he saw the boy’s actions, became a little interested, and stood up.
“You actually brought something quite good this time.”
Gongson Chun Gi, who had been so far from the boy previously, suddenly appeared right in front of Un Hui. While Un Hui had been gulping in air out of surprise,
Gongson Chun Gi walked even closer to Un Hui, and looked down at the boy. Then, the man brought up Un Hui’s chin, observed the boy for a while, then grinned.
“He certainly has some potential. A boy who can feel when he can’t even see……. a strange one, he is. Quite interesting, actually.”
“Y, you mean…….”
When Guardian Ju made a expectant face while trembling, Gongson Chun Gi looked at something, clicked his tongue, and shook his head.
“He’s still lacking. And he already developed too many skills. He developed too much, so it’s useless. It’s too bad, Guardian Ju.”
“Kuk! No way!”
When Guardian Ju made a face of despair, Un Hui, who had been quiet till then, opened his mouth.
“Just what about me is lacking?”
A rather defiant voice. When Ju Sang San frowned and tried to reprimand the bot, Gongson Chun Gi nodded.
“Mm, you have something missing. It’s something so small, that the likes of you wouldn’t even be able to notice it. But the difference between having that one thing and not having it is tremendous.”
“I can fix it.”
“It’s something that you can’t really fix.”
“I can do it.”
Un Hui looked straight at the Pope as he replied. The boy’s eyes were filled with a certain thing. A strong energy was contained within those eyes. It was desire.
When Ju Sang San tried to subdue Un Hui with a angered face, the Pope blocked him.
“Hey! Don’t get so angry, Guardian Ju. You’re going to get a stroke that way. We’re going to finish this by tomorrow at most anyway, so why are you being like this?”
“B, but that boy dared to…… in front of you……..”
“Just wait a bit. Let’s try handle this like adults, yeah?”
Gongson Chun Gi pushed away the raging Guardian sideways, and walked over to Un Hui. He opened his mouth.
“You said you can fix it?”
The Pope smiled. It was a smile that contained a hint of his mischievousness.
“Interesting. Yes, a man needs to have that kind of an arrogance. Fine, I’ll give you a chance.”
Gongson Chun Gi stroked his chin, and opened his mouth.
“Let’s make a bet, child.”
“What are we striking here?”
Gongson Chun Gi pointed at the ground when Un Hui asked this.
“The Heavenly Demon Church. If you win, I’ll give you this.”
When Guardian Ju screamed loudly, Gongson Chun Gi pushed the man away again and spoke.
“I am a very generous man, you see. If you’re going to bet something, it needs to be something as big as this, don’t you think?”
Un Hui didn’t say anything, and looked at Gongson Chun Gi’s eyes. The Pope’s eyes were filled with mischievousness, but it was also filled with confidence.
And with that confidence came an immense amount of energy that wouldn’t bow down to anyone.
‘He’s not a person to lie.’
Un Hui nodded.
“I’ll do it.”
“Good. You have spirit. That’s how a man should be! Kuhahaha!”
Gongson Chun Gi revealed his white teeth, and smiled joyously.
“Then, now that I’ve shown you what I’m going to stake in this bet, it’s high time you showed me yours, right? What will you stake in this bet?”
Un Hui thought a bit. What should he stake? Did he have something that actually was worth the entire church?
Un Hui, who had been looking at the grinning Pope, was stuck with a single thought that opened his eyes.
‘I do have something like that.’
Un Hui looked directly at Gongson Chun Gi, and opened his mouth.
“I will bet myself.”
“Yes. I will bet the remainder of my life here.”
Un Hui struck his chest confidently, and spoke. Gongson Chun Gi simply looked at the boy without saying anything. And then he smiled.
“It seems that you really hold yourself in high regard. The church is not as cheap as you might think, you know.”
“But that’s not bad. I suppose your life is the only thing you have that you can bet. Since you found something close to the actual answer, I’ll take it.”
Gongson Chun Gi finished speaking, and wordlessly stretched his fist out to Un Hui. When Un Hui made a confused expression, Gongosn Chun Gi grinned and spoke.
“A man’s words! (男兒一言)”
Un Hui’s eyes shone, as he struck his own fist on the Pope’s.
“Is worth a thousand gold! (重干金)”
Whilst Guardian Ju was just standing on the sidelines with a sour face, Gongson Chun Gi spoke.
“Ah. Come to think of it, we didn’t talk about what the contents of our bet was, did we?”
Un Hui made a “Oops” face and nodded.
“Let’s settle it on something we both find acceptable, shall we?”
“The time will be……. mm, ten years should do it. Yes, this should be worth about ten years.”
That was how the ten year bet between Un Hui and the Pope. And the end of the bet resulted in Un Hui’s defeat. It was the administrator’s defeat.
* * *
‘I was almost done.’
If he had a bit more time, the church would’ve been his. Because of that thought, the administrator’s face as he looked at Cho Ryu Hyang was a little twisted.
‘That should’ve been my spot.’
The administrator bit his lips. The position as the heir. That position could’ve been his.
Over the past decade, he and the Pope made a total of three bets. The first two bets, the administrator won.
—You’re pretty good. If I don’t manage to find a disciple by the end of the ten-year period, I will make you, Un Hui, the heir of the church.
When Un Hui won the second bet by becoming an expert of the harmonious level, that was what the Pope had said to him.
Administrator Un Hui. He was excited. After all, the Pope had said his name for the first time. So he began thinking that he won the last bet already.
But that wasn’t what happened. A bitter taste spread throughout his tongue. There wasn’t even a year left until the ten-year bet between him and the Pope ended. It truly was unexpected.
Just how should he take on the kid that the Pope brought in from the outside?
[I won the bet without desiring to do so. You must feel quite depressed. I’m sorry.]
When the Pope said this to Un Hui as soon as he returned, Un Hui felt a surge of emotion wash over him. It wasn’t because he lost the bet. It was because of what the Pope said; that ‘I’m sorry’ from the Pope was what made him sad.
‘So this kid is actually better than me in some way?’
He couldn’t admit it. No matter how much he looked, the boy wasn’t well-developed, nor did the boy look physically fit.
So why? Why was this boy chosen to be the heir of the church?
The Pope surely didn’t choose this boy just to win the bet. The Pope Un Hui knew wasn’t someone to do something like that.
‘So there’s something about this kid that only the Pope can see?’
This was his conclusion. Un Hui ground his teeth. He had to find the truth. He had to find it, so that he could go tell the Pope that the Pope made a wrong decision.
‘I will find it.’
Regardless of the past, the position as the Pope of the church didn’t really interest Un Hui.
It was just that he was afraid that he would be distanced from the man he already regarded as his teacher, the Pope.
Un Hui took a look at the boy who called him out, sighed in his mind, jumped down to the ground and bowed. The boy surprisingly managed to find him while he was in hiding.
“I am the administrator, young lord. I am sorry for introducing myself so late.”
“You can lift your head now.”
The administrator lifted his head to take a look at Cho Ryu Hyang. His eyes, which had been so full of complex emotions just a moment ago, looked extremely calm, like a slate of ice.
After all, he wasn’t an inexperienced person who would show his inner thoughts to others.
“I have something to ask.”
“Please do, young lord.”
The boy probably did have something special. After all, the fact alone that the boy managed to find him proved that he was abnormal.
‘But I still won’t acknowledge him.’
He could’ve made a mistake that revealed himself to the boy without realising it. While he had been thinking that, Cho Ryu Hyang looked around and spoke.
“What’s this formation you people set up here? It’s has an interesting shape.”
The administrator’s eyes narrowed. Formation? Could it be that this boy managed to find the Bloody River Heaven Destroying Sword Formation (血河滅天劍陣)? The formation that no one managed to notice in the history of the church?
‘He has enough talent to find such a thing? This child?’
That shouldn’t be possible. Cho Ryu Hyang, not caring about the administrator’s current feelings whatsoever, looked at the people in hiding and thought.
‘Normally, there’s five. At the time of transformation, about seven? No, there should be more.’
Cho Ryu Hyang’s eyes sparkled a bit. There were about a hundred people hiding here, and when an enemy attacked, they would surely come out like a fierce storm to attack the enemy by following a specific rule.
And the variables that controlled the transformation of this rule. These variables were more numerous than he had preciously thought.
‘This is amazing.’
Cho Ryu Hyang grabbed a stick from the ground, and began to draw something on the ground. A tactical formation and a normal formation weren’t all that different in essence.
That’s why he began to draw the entire formation out on the ground, in order to predict all the moves that made up the formation.
‘What is he……’
At first, he didn’t know what the boy was doing. After a while, the administrator’s eyes widened.
The thing the boy was drawing right now was definitely a destruction method of the Bloody River Heaven Destroying Sword Formation.
The administrator quickly swiped away the thing Cho Ryu Hyang had been drawing with his feet. Then, he began to glare at Cho Ryu Hyang with enraged eyes, and thought something.
‘You, just what are you?’