Hyun Jong’s gaze shifted to the teacup he held in his hand. A long crack marred the previously flawless surface, resembling a torn plum blossom.

His attempt to maintain a calm expression faltered as his face darkened with an ominous sign.

While it was true that teacups could crack unexpectedly, Hyun Jong couldn’t dismiss it easily, considering his current state of worry.


Hyun Jong set down his teacup and shifted his gaze towards the window. A harsh gust of wind swept in through the open pane.

‘The North Sea must be several times colder than this.’

In countless ways.

“Sect leader.”

Hyun Sang, still nursing his tea, spoke up.

“Concerned about the children?”


Hyun Jong rose slowly from the ground instead of answering. He approached the window and opened it, allowing the cold wind to blow in. However, he paid no mind to the wind as he gazed at the towering peaks of Mount Hua.


To be exact, his gaze was fixed on the ancient tree that stood at the pinnacle.

Hyun Jong was aware of it.

During the harsh winter of Mount Hua, more than half of the newly blossomed plum buds would wither away.

His mouth opened, revealing a hint of astonishment.

“Plum Blossoms that have endured the winter are the most exquisite.”

He gazed at them and blinked softly.

“So winter may be a necessary trial for flourishing. But…”

And he turned his head to face Hyun Sang and Hyun Young.

“But must the plum blossom endure further tribulations?”

“What is this…”

Upon Hyun Sang’s cautious inquiry, Hyun Jong shook his head.

“It is enough for the trees and flowers to bloom. People find beauty in flowers and desire them to shine even more after enduring the harsh winter.”


Their gaze shifted to the window.

“Perhaps it is simply our desire for them to overcome hardships and mature.”

Didn’t the law vary depending on one’s perspective?

The wisdom of a sage could not be understood by children.

It was only natural for them to desire the revival of Mount Hua, but maybe there was an alternative path for the children. Wouldn’t it be a more joyful way for them to simply be content and live in Mount Hua?

Hyun Jong pondered whether their frustration and helplessness were burdening the children.

“I am uneasy.”

The previously normal expression on his face had grown even gloomier, prompting Hyun Sang to speak up.

“Sect leader, that is the privilege of a sect leader.”

Hyun Jong turned his head to look at him.

“Did you not try to stop them? But it was the kids who chose to head to the North Sea themselves.”


“Mount Hua is exclusively ours.”

Hyun Sang said sternly.

“The sect leader believes this because he thinks we still lead Mount Hua, and our children help us according to his will.”

The eyes of Hyun Jong trembled.

“Mount Hua belongs to everyone in Mount Hua, sect leader.”


“The happiness of the kids cannot be judged solely by the sect leader’s will. Those children are also disciples of Mount Hua, and they are warriors, too. They are no longer the children that the sect leader should protect.”

Hyun Jong nodded sadly in response to Hyun Sang’s words.

“I know.”

The notion of the disciples being a child who should be coddled had been discarded.


“We shouldn’t attempt to pass judgment on them based on our limited perspectives. Aren’t they already more skilled and formidable fighters than us?”

“Exactly, I understand. I am just…”

Hyun Jong glanced at Hyun Young, who sat beside him before Hyun Jong could finish.

“You should also speak up.”

“What’s going on?”

But Hyun Young’s words came out forcefully.

“Who wouldn’t worry? If you tell me everything, you’ll start fretting about the weather.”


“Just let me worry. You guys can eat in peace.”

“… even if you say that.”

Hyun Jong let out a soft sigh.

‘The children chose the trials…’

That was correct as well.

It was natural to have clarity about things; Baek Cheon and the other disciples were also youngsters with a desire to become stronger. Regardless of the reason, it must have been difficult for him to prevent the children from going to the North Sea in the end.


It was they who chose to take on the ordeal, but no one knew how severe it would be. Hyun Jong just hoped that the disciples who left for the North Sea wouldn’t have to endure too many hardships.

‘I do not want anything else. So everyone, please just return safely to me.’

He had already repeated these words in his head so many times. At the end of his gaze, however, he could see the cracked teacup.


Tang Soso’s shrill shout reverberated across the frigid terrain. The gazes of Mount Hua’s disciples were fixated on Chung Myung, blood dripping from his form.

“C-C…Chung Myung!”

“Disciple Chung MYUNGGGG!”

Despite having witnessed Chung Myung being struck by the adversary’s attack before, this particular instance felt distinct. Every individual present understood that what they were witnessing now was fundamentally unlike anything they had seen before.

Even just looking at Chung Myung’s limp body, the situation became painfully clear.


Jo Gul clenched his teeth, his bloodshot eyes fixed on the scene.


His sword qi surged as he charged towards the high priest with a murderous glare.


His screams were fueled by anger more than anything else.

Red plum blossoms.

The dark, blood-like plum blossoms scattered densely, almost unbelievably turning into the swords of the Taoist sect.


Yoon Jong bared his teeth and leaped beside Jo Gul. Normally, Yoon Jong would have attempted to restrain Jo Gul. However, this time, his sword proved to be even more destructive and fierce than Jo Gul himself.

“I’ll end you!”

Observing the plum blossoms engulfing the entire visage, the high priest grinned.

“You foolish beings!”


Black demonic qi emanated from his hands, swirling like ominous clouds. The shadowy energy grew in size in an instant, effortlessly obliterating the flying plum blossoms. Not even the plum flower, crafted with the utmost effort by the sahyung-sajae duo, could penetrate the formidable demonic qi of the high priest.

It resembled a barrier of hopelessness.

Not content with merely thwarting their attack, the demonic qi trembled and enveloped the two warriors.

Jo Gul and Yoon Jong looked wide-eyed at the scene before them. It seemed as though the entire world had been infused with the sinister energy of demonic qi and transformed.

“Step back, now!”

In an instant, Baek Cheon propelled himself forward and positioned himself protectively in front of the two.


His sword fragmented into countless forms, and soon, dozens or perhaps even hundreds of plum blossoms burst into bloom. Continuously, a towering barrier of petals materialized before them.

The 24-Movement Plum Blossom Sword technique was at play, causing the proliferation of plum blossoms all around them.


When Baek Cheon’s plum blossom sword clashed and rubbed against the high priest’s demonic qi, the sound of metal filled the air. Plum blossom leaves scattered in all directions while Baek Cheon’s steel sword twisted and threatened to shatter at any moment.


Baek Cheon’s fingertips started to burst, unable to withstand the immense power that felt like it could crush his entire body. It was as if a mountain was weighing on his head. However, he exerted even more strength through his bloodied fingers.

At that moment…


Hae Yeon shouted as a light emanated from him and moved forward with great force towards the wall of plum blossoms.


Once more, one more time!

Hae Yeon, who had assisted Baek Cheon with his fist technique three times, positioned himself as the supporter and placed his other hand by his side.


Hae Yeon’s hand extended slowly from the side. Simultaneously, the power within his fist started to surge uncontrollably.

Shaolin’s Seventy-Two Fine Arts, Arhat Divine Fist!

Hae Yeon typically wore a gentle expression when practicing martial arts, but now he couldn’t find any mercy within him. His face had contorted like that of an Asura, and he desired nothing more than to crush his opponent.

When Hae Yeon combined his power with Baek Cheon’s, the ferociousness of the demonic qi came to a halt.


“Damn it!”

Yoon Jong and Jo Gul charged forward without hesitation, emanating a powerful sword qi.


The high priest’s eyes gleamed with excitement. These youngsters possessed strength beyond his expectations.


Even though all four of them joined forces, his own power remained undiminished.

“No matter how young they are, they are still from the Central Plains.”

This was precisely why the Central Plains was a treacherous realm.

Even the one who was struck and fell had caused his heart to go cold for a moment. And the others, whom he regarded as insignificant, showed no sign of backing down.


“Right, this is how it should happen!”

Their eyes had blood in them. And as he pushed more qi into this, he attempted to strike them down.

“All of you di…!”

But at that very moment.


A black-clad swordsman leaped like a ghost from the most perilous position of the qi clash. And charged straight towards the high priest.

The high priest couldn’t help but stop moving entirely as the warriors’ eyes flickered.


Yu Yiseol, throwing herself at the high priest, emitted a terrifying sword qi. Simultaneously, Tang Soso moved from the opposite side and hurled her sword towards him.


The fierce sword qi and the assassins’ needles were in motion. The Shaolin and plum flowers ahead were truly awe-inspiring.

There seemed to be no way for him to evade so many attacks.


But at that moment, the high priest raised both hands in front of him. Instantly, the swirling demonic energy that had permeated the surroundings converged into his palms.

“You worthless creatures!”

The gathered demonic energy roared viciously and then surged outward.


A massive eruption of demonic energy engulfed the entire land and sky.



The disciples of Mount Hua cried out as they were forcefully driven back, tumbling across the ground.


The demonic qi caused the mountain behind them to shake relentlessly. The cliff, unable to withstand the force, began to splinter apart.

Such power was truly terrifying.

How could they even begin to call this ability to manipulate the surroundings a mere display of human strength?


Baek Cheon spat out blood, collapsing onto the ground, his eyes filled with disbelief as he gazed at the high priest.

The high priest soared into the sky, his body wrapped in demonic qi. It was an unbelievable sight, akin to a massive black dragon ascending to the heavens.

Opening his mouth, the high priest unleashed the Dragon Fist Wind.

“You filthy unbelievers, ignorant of your own insignificance, running amok!”

The voice boomed with an authoritative presence as if the intention to command was being suppressed.

“I will not let any one of them live! Not a single one of you shall live!”

This black whirlpool he created was slowly thickening. The shattered rocks of the mountains were also spinning and soaring into the air.

In fact, it appeared that no one had a choice but to lose their will to fight when faced with what they were witnessing.

“It begins with you!”

The high priest’s gaze fell upon the disciples of Mount Hua and Hae Yeon, who were struggling to even stand up as they approached Chung Myung.

Even in the midst of unconsciousness, they refused to let Chung Myung suffer any further harm. The high priest, who had intended to end their lives, hesitated.


Standing up without realizing it, Baek Cheon stumbled forward, using his sword as a crutch. He fought to keep his feet moving, blocking the space between Chung Myung and the high priest.

It wouldn’t be surprising if he collapsed right then and there, but the anger in his eyes as they met the high priest was evident.

His hand lacked the strength to hold a sword. He didn’t even consider stopping the blood flowing into his throat. Yet, there was no trace of fear in Baek Cheon’s eyes.


The disciples of Mount Hua stood behind him as if it was their duty.

The high priest’s lifeless eyes were fixed on them.

“Ehh, old man.”

Baek Cheon, who had been gazing ahead, smiled widely.

“Until you kill me, you cannot lay a finger on that damn bastard.”

The sound of a sword scraping the floor echoed behind him in response, and Baek Cheon raised his sword.

“No one can touch him unless they get past me! I am Baek Cheon of Mount Hua!”

His voice, shouted with all his might, reverberated through the sky.