1

In a shabby inn nestled in a bamboo forest about four kilometers southwest of the Academy.

A middle-aged man in a navy blue robe was sitting with a neat posture and drinking tea.

He looked like a noble and, on the surface, looked like a typical scholar. If there was anything that gave off an odd vibe, it would be the two men sitting opposite him, both carrying wooden boxes.

They were the disciples of the East River Sword Star, and a man in his mid-30s sitting on the left side was the great disciple, Young Gadong, the Martial Clear Sword, who was skilled enough to be called the last of the top ten masters.

The man who appeared to be in his late 20s and on the right of the man is the second-class disciple, Young Chuseo, who was called the Horned Sword.

‘Right?’

‘Doesn’t he look like the swordsman, Young Gadong?’

‘Right. The East River Sword sect’s disciples carry a wooden box on their backs.’

Those who appeared to be warriors among the other guests sitting around them thought as such. There was no one in murim who didn’t know of the East River Sword Sect.

It would be strange if someone couldn’t identify them since the sect’s master was one of the Four Great Warriors.

‘I have to be right.’

‘It has to be them!’

Their gaze wasn’t directed at the disciples but at another.

The middle-aged man in a navy blue uniform who was sitting opposite the disciples.

The East River Sword Star, Shin Eui-gyeom.

He was a man who was called the peak of murim and was now leading other swordsmen on the same path.

‘I do want to go and greet him, but…’

‘Why is the atmosphere so heavy?’

All swordsmen respected this man, but no one could move and greet him because the atmosphere was too heavy for them to handle.

It was as if they were looking at a dam that was about to burst.

Tak!

Among them, the second-class disciple Young Chuseo placed his teacup down.

“Teacher. How long are we going to be here?”

“Sajae!”

Young Gadong, the next highest ranked in the sect, rebuked him. Young Chuseo then turned to him with a dissatisfied expression.

“Sahyung, please stop this.”

“What?”

“Our youngest sajae is probably wandering in the afterlife. And for us to just drink tea…”

“Isn’t that why we are here? Considering what happened in the school building, you should seriously consider that…”

“What do we do if they make it look like an accident?”

“Accident?”

“Yes. After all, the daughter of the Southern Blade is involved in this, and he has influence over the academy. So what if they are trying to hide what happened and bury it?”

“Huh! I guess you haven’t left the sect much. I understand you are being skeptical here, but if you met with the Southern Blade Emperor’s daughter first…”

“Will you believe the words of the girl who killed our sajae?”

Young Chuseo’s voice began to rise.

Shin Eui-gyeom, who was sipping his tea, puts down his cup.

“Quiet.”

It was just a single word, but the force behind it was unimaginable.

Even the other guests who were just watching them felt that strong force.

‘W-what force…’

‘He only said one small word, and it sounded so strong.’

In an instant, he had made the entire hall silent.

Young Gadong and Young Chuseo apologized.

“W-we were rude, teacher.”

“Please forgive us.”

They knew.

How much anger their teacher was actually suppressing right now.

If he let his anger loose, no one around them would be left alive. While they thought this, Shin Eui-gyeom turned his head.

“Here they come.”

“Uh.”

“The ones we are waiting for.”

As soon as he said those words, he stood up and left the hall.

Dan Pil-hoo, the deputy headmaster of the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy, stood in the middle of the dense bamboo forest with his hands clasped together.

“We meet again after a long time, great warrior Shin.”

Shin Eui-gyeom, who was late giving his own greetings, bowed his head. Considering their respective ages, Dan Pil-hoo was of a higher age standing still.

But in Murim, it was a person’s strength that was considered.

Before discussing their age, the East River Sword was one of the Four Great Warriors who were the best in the present Murim.

And that was why Dan Pil-hoo bowed.

“Long time indeed. It must have been a decade or so since the academy opened with our presence.”

“Yes. The years go by so quickly.”

He tried not to show it, but Dan Pil-hoo was having difficulty holding back his tension.

Since he was responsible for the academy, even if this man was enraged, there was nothing he could do.

‘Shit. I came here thinking to stall for time, but what do I say?’

It was really annoying.

It might have been better if he wasn’t one of the Four Great Warriors.

But this situation was more horrible because he had to hide his intentions and avoid causing any discomfort to this man. At that time, before he could even speak, Shin Eui-gyeom said first.

“If you have a message from Hwang-suk, do tell me.”

‘!?’

Hwang-suk?

Dan Pil-hoo frowned.

Did he think that man sent a message? At this question, Dan Pil-hoo became flustered.

‘I am going insane. Since his disciple got killed in the hands of that man’s daughter, he must think that there is an explanation….’

Hwang-suk’s whereabouts were unclear; from the academy’s standpoint, he was the only one who could solve this situation and calm this man’s anger.

But he couldn’t be found.

His daughter herself said that he wasn’t at the Imperial Palace or at his home. He might even be wandering around.

“That… great warrior… Hong is…”

“Sigh.”

Before he could even say anything, Shin Eui-gyeom spoke again while looking at the sky.

“Even though I was able to take the first step because he is an old acquaintance of mine, and I suppressed my sadness and anger, I wanted to hear that man’s explanation first, but it seems like he is ignoring this.”

“G-great warrior! Please. That man is…”

“Enough.”

A sharp energy filled the air as he turned his head away.

-psss!

The bamboo forest shook at his words. The leaves on the bamboo trees also began to crumble down.

This amazing sight made Dan Pil-hoo look Shin Eui-gyeom in the eye. He then felt as if his heart was being stabbed.

‘… ugh.’

He could feel the bitter taste of blood on his lips.

‘Did he reach the state of Sword God?’

The sword was him, and he was the sword.

Even during the time of war in the past, this man was already a swordsman of another level.

When he saw the man at the academy’s opening, he felt even stronger than in the past. Dan Pil-hoo couldn’t even imagine how much more the man had grown.

Perhaps this man was at a level where he could defeat anyone.

‘… no.’

If he decided to kill Hong Hae-ryeong now, then no one in the academy could stop this man.

What could Mumu do against this fully-grown monster? So Dan Pil-hoo then said.

“G-great warrior… please, I will say. There was a conspiracy in this. The real person behind the disciples’ situation is detained and being questioned…”

“Conspiracy?”

“Yes. This is the trick of those Evil forces trying to break down the long-standing relationship between the warriors. Please…”

“Who is that?”

Was this man showing interest?

Dan Pil-hoo looked a bit calmer now.

He had to gain as much time as possible for Kang Mui to confess.

“I will explain who is behind the…”

“Tell me, who is behind this?”

At that immediate question, Dan Pil-hoo ended up giving him the answer.

“His name is Kang Mui, a student. For now, he is considered the suspect who harmed your disciple…”

“Enough. From now on, I will look and judge him for myself.”

“Uh?”

“Whether this is a trick of the deputy or the administration desperately trying to save that man’s daughter. I will decide after I see it for myself. And this is the last consideration I will give to Hong-hyung.”

Shh!

Before his voice could even be comprehended, Shin Eui-gyeom vanished.

Dan Pil-hoo’s expression became stiff at this.

‘This.’

In the end, he couldn’t gain time, and the worst-case scenario had come up.

“Ah. And wait, I went to the Demon Blood Sect. After a few friendly conversations, they swore allegiance to me.”

“…”

Kang Mui felt the absurdity of this all.

Mumu was speaking as if the sect was within walking distance.

Was he actually expecting him to believe this?

“You do not seem to believe it?”

“I think you wanted to play a joke but stop this. I do not want to…”

Shh!

Before he could finish his words, Mumu pulled something out of his sleeve. It was something round.

‘!?’

Kang Mui stiffened at the sight of it and was perplexed.

The object had a unique pattern engraved on it, one that he knew the meaning of.

“You… how do you have that?”

This was the plaque possessed by the leader of the Demon Blood Sect.

Kang Mui had seen this at the meeting of the sect leaders. He knew that this was meant to showcase their identities.

Mumu then put it back into his sleeve.

“I told you. The sect leader swore his allegiance to me. And this is the proof he gave.”

“…”

Kang Mui was at a loss for words.

He was trapped in this cell after he was struck down by Mumu and had only woken up after passing out.

But he knew that it wouldn’t have even been a day. He had passed out for no more than a couple of hours. As he wondered about this situation, Mumu then asked.

“You know all the faces of the other hyungs, right?”

“W-who are you?”

“I am the one who asked the question first.”

“I never heard of someone like you. Where did you come from?”

Kang Mui’s voice rose as Mumu scratched his head.

“I am curious too.”

“Of what?”

“Like I said, I am curious. I heard from the sect leader I met just now that Muil, Mui, Musa, and Muo are the ones who are alive. Then who am I?”

At Mumu’s question, Kang Mui frowned. Was this guy messing with him?

Or was he actually saying this because he didn’t know?

He had his doubts.

“I thought I fell from the sky, and my adopted father raised me.”

“…”

“However, as in the books I enjoyed reading, my father was a bit too much and ended up having half brothers along with me.”

“…”

“But I don’t think most of the half brothers or the subordinates of my father even knew about my existence.”

At Mumu’s words, Kang Mui just continued to listen. He, too, was someone unaware of Mumu and was surprised until he saw the jade plaque. He thought that maybe the child was still in the womb, which was why they didn’t know his existence.

He knew for a fact that no one knew of Mumu’s existence. Had it been known, he would have gotten a fair run to become the Lord of their people.

‘But why does his name have a Mu but not a number like ours?’

Kang Mui didn’t understand this part.

Each child had been given a number at the end of their names, so why was Mumu given just another Mu instead of a number?

Kang Mui looked at Mumu and asked.

“So what? Are you looking for sympathy?”

“No. I am never the kind to look for that. From my point of view, the domination and revengeful thoughts my half brothers have and are obsessed with are more pitiful than me.”

“What are you saying!”

Clack!

Unable to hold back his anger, he tried to move, but the restraints on his body stopped him.

Kang Mui looked at Mumu.

“You are a weak and pathetic child. Do you deny your own blood!”

“I have not done anything like that.”

“But you try to insult your family like this?”

“Hmm… I don’t ever think I insulted you. I wondered if it is right to live for my dead father and not for my own life.”

Kang Mui became silent at Mumu’s words.

This guy had a completely different mindset from them.

If he knew he was the child of their father, then shouldn’t he do something to avenge him? This was crazy!

“Pathetic bastard. You are not worthy of holding his vision.”

“I had no intention to either.”

“What?”

“If you do it your way like father did, nothing will be left. If you kill and die, isn’t that just repeating what father did?”

“What do you even know…”

Clack!

Mumu approached Kang Mui, who couldn’t hold back his anger.

“Well, it seems pointless to keep talking to you, so I will make a suggestion here.”

“Suggestion? I am not you…”

“I heard the East River Blade Star is coming here.”

“What?”

Kang Mui, who had become agitated, went still.

The fact that this man was coming here meant that the most important part of their plan was set into motion.

‘At least.’

If Hong Hae-ryong died in that man’s hands, there would be divisions among them. Kang Mui smiled as Mumu said to him.

“That man is coming to kill you, so why are you smiling?”

At Mumu’s words, Kang Mui frowned.

“What bullshit is that? Why will he kill me?”

“You are the one who killed Young Chun.”

At that, Kang Mui laughed.

“There is evidence that Hong Hye-ryong had killed him. What nonsense are you talking about? Do you have evidence to say that didn’t happen?”

“Here.”

Mumu looked at Kang Mui, who looked back at him in disbelief.

“You are foolish. Do you think I will say it with my mouth even if it is true? The moment you speak about this, you will die in that man’s hands.”

“…”

“If I die at the hands of the East River Blade Star, do you think the Eight Evil families will follow you?”

Kang Mui laughed at Mumu.

Sure he had been captured by Mumu. Despite their differences, he was still his brother. And if he decides to offer his brother to death to save the daughter of the Southern Blade of the Emperor, he would be considered a traitor.

‘In the end, you are destined to follow us…’

And Mumu then said.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“What?”

“I am just trying to give them some time. Wasn’t it you who wanted to be their lord and not me?”

“… are you really being serious?”

At Kang Mui’s words, Mumu tilted his head.

“Because you don’t have the strength to do anything on your own, you are asking for the help of others to get revenge on them, right?”

“What is so wrong with…”

Kirik!

At that moment, Mumu turned the dial on his right hand.

Mumu’s right hand’s sleeves began tearing as his muscles swelled up.

Swish!

White steam rose from his grayish muscles.

Seeing this, Kang Mui remembered that he had fainted with just one hit to the head and flinched.

At that moment, Mumu grabbed the restraint Kang Mui had on his wrist.

Crack!

And broke it apart with just a little strength.

‘!?’

Kang Mui was utterly shocked at this. The iron restraints in this prison were different from normal ones. No matter how much internal energy was used, it wouldn’t work.

That was the reason why many of the famous swords were made using this black iron.

But this guy broke it?

Crack!

He was even more surprised when Mumu grabbed and broke the other one as well.

“If you don’t have enough strength, shouldn’t you be training your muscles?”

What was this guy talking about?

Who could get this much strength by just training their muscles?

Mumu continued to talk to him.

“You don’t seem to understand. Then we cannot do much. I have one suggestion for you. If you confess to killing that guy, go to the palace with me, and tell me who this Muil is, I will prevent the East River Sword Star from killing you.”

“…”

Kang Mui was genuinely shocked at this proposal. What was this guy even saying?

He had the strength to prevent a warrior of the Four Great Warriors from attacking him?

“I’ve heard it all, but you claim that you will stop the East River Sword Star, Shin Eui-gyeom. Who is the best swordsman in the world?”

“I can control my power, so I will not kill him.”

‘!?’