Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 83
Pung BaekLim’s words made Moon SoBaek doubt his ears.
‘‘Vice-Lord’?’ SoBaek wondered.
It was a title he was unfamiliar with, and for a moment he thought maybe somehow he misheard ‘Vice-Head’ as ‘Vice-Lord.’
But before that…
‘I thought YuWon didn’t have a martial school that he was affiliated with…’ SoBaek wondered.
Then it hit him, ‘Could it be?’
There was only a single place in the current Martial Realm that used the title of ‘Vice-Lord.’
A faction that was closer to a religious group than a martial school. Based on Mt. Heaven, it was the faction that could truly claim to be the strongest martial organization.
The Heavenly Demonic Cult.
It was a widely spread rumor that the vice-lord of the Cult was participating in this tournament, and YuWon was the only player to have ever passed the Cult’s test.
‘Still, there’s no way they gave him the role of vice-lord just from passing a lowly test…’ SoBaek felt confused.
He wanted to doubt the situation, but he had seen it with his own eyes just now.
SoBaek lowered his sword, and BaekLim glared him in the eyes while walking towards YuWon.
Having gauged the situation, he smacked his palm with his fist.
“Is this a fight, sir?” BaekLim asked.
“We haven’t started yet,” YuWon answered.
YuWon was naturally speaking less politely, while on the other hand, BaekLim was now speaking to YuWon with respect, unlike before. They were simply following the rules of the Heavenly Demonic Cult.
“What would you like me to do?” BaekLim asked while looking back to SoBaek. “Should I kill him?”
BaekLim seemed ready to fight, like he was waiting for YuWon’s order to drop.
An intense fighting spirit started flowing out from BaekLim’s body, and in an instant, SoBaek felt miniscule compared to him.
‘He’s a Ranker,’ SoBaek realized.
And he realized that BaekLim wasn’t just an ordinary Ranker but a cut above most Rankers in the Martial Realm.
SoBaek tried to gauge what it would be like to fight BaekLim.
‘I have a 90% chance of losing… And even if I did win, that would still be a problem,’ SoBaek calculated the various scenarios in his head.
His opponent was a Ranker of the Heavenly Demonic Cult, so even if he won, he’d be making enemies out of them.
In the end, there was only one decision he could make.
“Ahem. I-I apologize,” SoBaek let out a fake cough and composed himself while putting his sword back in his scabbard. “I didn’t know you were the vice-lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult. Had I known you were already a part of a martial school, I wouldn’t have approached you.”
“We’re not a martial school. Don’t treat us like we’re the same,” said BaekLim.
“A-Anyway…” BaekLim wiped away the cold sweat on his forehead as he turned around and walked away. “Once again, I’m sorry. Farewell then.”
YuWon watched SoBaek walk away in a hurry.
BaekLim glared at him in discontent.
“Are you going to just let him go?” he asked Yuwon.
“I don’t really know what his deal is, but he’s not what’s important.”
“It seems like the JeGal Clan is backing him.”
“The JeGal Clan, you say, sir…” BaekLim mulled over his words with a slight grin. “Well, we have a dinner meeting with the NamGung Clan after the tournament. I’ll bring it up with them then. If there is foul play going on, it needs to be properly punished.”
“A dinner meeting? With the NamGung Clan?”
“Would you like to join us, sir?”
The NamGung Clan was the place that had become recognized as the greatest martial school while the Heavenly Demonic Cult was holed up in Mt. Heaven.
YuWon didn’t think that the Cult that was just now starting to make moves would meet with the NamGung clan so quickly.
“Was it you guys who spread the rumor?”
“What rumor do you mean?”
“The one about the vice-lord participating in the tournament.”
“Oh, that…” BaekLim started grinning, “The cult members must have blabbered because they’re excited to be able to go out into the Martial Realm again. Those guys are pretty talkative.”
“Was your personality always like this?” YuWon asked.
“I’m always like this when I’m not fighting, sir. Hahahah!” That unabashed laughter was recognizably BaekLim’s trademark.
YuWon shook his head while letting out a sigh.
‘The Heavenly Demonic Cult…’ he thought deeply.
It was a title that was somewhat forced onto him, but in that process he ended up gaining a much greater authority than he had expected.
YuWon contemplated the potential ripple the Cult’s activities would cause.
“I’ll pass on the dinner meeting.”
The meeting was likely just for socialization, and YuWon was not fond of such gatherings.
“Just make sure you properly take care of the head of the School of the Sapphire Sword and his blood brother,” YuWon instructed.
BaekLim bowed after receiving YuWon’s orders, “As you wish, sir.”
YuWon walked ahead while BaekLim followed behind.
The greatest organization in the Martial Realm, the Heavenly Demonic Cult.
YuWon had decided to freely wield their power to its full extent.
* * *
In a tall, five-story building located next to the stadium…
At the most expensive lodging in the area where you could see a view of the massive stadium outside the window, the Heavenly Demon Cheon MuJin was waiting for YuWon.
“Good job,” MuJin told YuWon.
“What did I do to warrant a ‘good job’?”
“Aren’t you on your way back from the preliminaries?”
“Did you watch?”
“No. I knew you were going to win, so I didn’t see the need,” MuJin said while preparing tea. “Am I wrong?”
YuWon picked up the teacup as MuJin poured him some tea.
The weight of the tea felt like it was a thousand pounds. The flowing tea imbued with MuJin’s mana was like a waterfall.
It was a simple but hard test.
YuWon responded, “Perhaps,” while enduring it by imbuing the teacup with his own mana.
Sweat started to run down YuWon’s forehead with his lukewarm response.
It was like a large waterfall was falling down into a single point.
A small fracture appeared on the teacup.
As YuWon thought, ‘I can’t let it break…’
Mana started to flow out from Kyneē.
There was a brief second of stability, before he felt like darkness was consuming his entire body.
The final drop of tea fell into the teacup, and the cup almost shattered.
“I see,” MuJin said.
To normal eyes, one would have just thought it was a scene of someone pouring tea, but for YuWon, enduring this moment was harder than any fight he had experienced so far in this life.
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MuJin continued, “Why are you participating in something like the Grand Martial Arts Tournament? Your skills don’t belong in a children’s fight.”
“I need the prize.”
“Are you talking about the Great Scarlet Medicine Ball?”
“Yes,” YuWon explained while staring at the cracked teacup, “I’m a bit short.”
He had reached 99 Arcane Power.
How would things have been different if he had 100 Arcane Power?
Not only would it not have been so hard for him to endure MuJin’s tea pour, the teacup likely wouldn’t have cracked.
“Don’t get caught up by numbers… is the advice I wish I could give, but I know that’s not possible.”
“Unlike you, Lord, I’m not a true martial artist. As long as I have the system, numbers are important.”
“I understand. So that’s why you need the Great Scarlet Medicine Ball?”
“It’s not guaranteed that consuming it will push me over, but it is quite possible.”
YuWon had to overcome this hurdle as quickly as possible, as that was the ‘first condition’ that he had imposed on himself.
“The Great Scarlet Medicine Ball is definitely a good elixir. It being the prize is a large reason as to how the Grand Martial Arts Tournament became such a big event,” MuJin spoke while nodding his head, having now understood YuWon’s motivations.
MuJin took a sip of his tea.
Parched from having used a good amount of power, YuWon drank from the cracked cup before asking, “I’d like to know what brings you here, Lord? I thought the Heavenly Demonic Cult didn’t leave Mt. Heaven.”
“I thought it was about time we started our activities.”
“Activities? What kind of activities?”
“Accepting new cultists, conducting tests, expanding our faction, firmly implanting our influence. Stuff like that.”
“What about Mt. Heaven?”
“We’ll go back and forth a lot. Technology has advanced a lot in recent years, so it’s quite easy to travel.”
MuJin had decided to be active in the Martial Realm, which was a resolution that would overturn the order and power dynamic of the Martial Realm in an instant since MuJin could be described as being the essence of the Cult itself.
“What do you mean?”
“I said it before, but I’m not suited for the role of vice-lord because I have no intention of being tied down to a single place.”
“I won’t be fulfilling my responsibilities while taking advantage of my power. The cult members will probably voice strong opposition.”
“I am the ‘Heaven’ of the Heavenly Demonic Cult. Since I’ve acknowledged you, no one can oppose your will,” MuJin said with a calm voice.
He spoke nonchalantly as if he was talking about undeniable facts, like the sun rising in the morning. Because to MuJin, this was the natural order.
“I could potentially ruin the Heavenly Demonic Cult,” YuWon warned.
However, that wasn’t the only thing YuWon was concerned about.
YuWon said, “I’m an enemy of Olympus.”
YuWon explained his relationship with Olympus, from rescuing Hephaestus to fighting an Olympian Ranker.
MuJin nodded along while listening to YuWon’s story. “I see. The ‘Gigantomachy,’ you say…”
Having been holed up in Mt. Heaven for a long time, MuJin had not experienced the Gigantomachy, but the tale was so famous, even he had heard of it.
“So you’re trying to stop that?” MuJin asked.
“Something like that.”
“So in the end, you’re going to fight.”
MuJin’s expression did not change. He was not phased by the potential threat of having to fight a giant enemy like Olympus.
“Are you okay with all this?” YuWon asked.
“You shouldn’t avoid setting sail just because you’re afraid of the tempest. There’s no choice but to just face it.”
This was good news for YuWon, but he couldn’t understand. Technically speaking, he was an outsider to the Cult, yet MuJin was far too easily agreeing to a path that would be difficult for even blood relatives to face together. And he was going to take the Cult along with him.
“If you can’t understand, just remember this. Nothing else matters. There’s only one thing you need to keep in mind as the Vice-Lord,” MuJin spoke, explaining the reason why he had called YuWon here today. “Starting now, you are the Heavenly Demonic Cult.”
* * *
As the preliminaries of the tournament were ending, night had descended, and the ball began.
“This year’s Grand Martial Arts Tournament is another success. And it’s booming more than it ever has!”
“That’s because of all the promising people in the next generation. From an Olympian prince to a descendent of Asgard, an angel of Zion, and…”
“There’s also Kim YuWon.”
Everyone was busy talking about the tournament while sharing drinks.
At the ball, members of the Martial Artists’ Alliance chatted while congratulating themselves on successfully finishing the preliminaries without any problems.
This was a gathering of the leading figures of the Martial Realm, so most of the Rankers of the Martial Artists’ Alliance were all in one spot.
“He was really amazing. I finally get why everyone can’t stop talking about Kim YuWon.”
“Same here. I heard he’s not affiliated anywhere. If only I could have him join our Divine Martial School…”
“Now that I think about it, which martial school’s test did he take?”
“The Vice-Lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult,” a man said in a sharp tone.
People turned their heads in the direction of the voice to find a man drinking by himself off to the side.
“Head of the Sapphire Sword School?”
“It’s been a while. But just now…”
“Yeah. What did you mean by the ‘Vice-Lord’?”
It was already well known that YuWon had passed the Heavenly Demonic Cult’s test, but just passing the test and being the vice-lord of the Cult were two entirely different matters.
Being the vice-lord would make one the successor of the Heavenly Demon. It was a position equal to a vice-head of a clan.
It was hard for people to believe that he would have been given the role of vice-lord just from passing a test.
“I saw it with my own eyes, a Ranker of the Cult calling him the vice-lord,” SoBaek said.
“Did something happen?”
That was the question SoBaek had been waiting for.
He paused to finish his drink, after which he said, “While trying to greet a promising up-and-comer, he drew his sword on me, telling me to not approach their vice-lord.”
“How could they do something like that…?”
“They couldn’t even let you say hi to him?”
People started to voice their dissatisfaction. The mood started to ripen, and SoBaek listened closely to what people started to say.
“That’s just how the Evil Cult is. It was like this long ago. The Martial Artists’ Alliance and the Evil Cult are fated to never get along.”
“You’re right. I mean, those cultists have such rotten personalities.”
“I’m not familiar with it. What did the Heavenly Demonic Cult do?”
“This happened long ago, but since olden times, they…”
The public opinion of the Cult wasn’t favorable.
To people who had been wielding political power in the Martial Realm for ages now, the existence of the Cult posed a threat.
On top of that, the older generations who had presided in the Martial Realm for a long time did not hesitate to call the Heavenly Demonic Cult the ‘Evil Cult’ instead.
SoBaek had to hold back his smirk, speaking with as calm a voice as he could, “As you know, Kim YuWon is the strongest contender to win this tournament.”
“That won’t do…”
“How dare a vice-lord of the Evil Cult…”
Opposition broke out from everywhere. The resentment towards the Cult had not yet cooled in the Martial Realm.
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“Why don’t we do this then?” SoBaek spoke.
“What do you have in mind?”
“Do you have a plan?”
A few of the Rankers of the Martial Realm leaned in to hear what he had to say.
SoBaek composed himself despite his excitement, saying, “In the main stage…”