PS: Sorry about the weird spacing. The brackets  kind of screws up with it on wordpress, and kind of makes it skip of the newline.
Ch 1: The Way of the Sword
The dinner finally ended in the Time of the Tiger (3:30-4:30am). Although their faces showed expressions of satisfaction, underneath their masks were uneasiness because of the disaster that would soon hit Murim. Among their numerous secrets, that at least was clear. The Ma Do Expedition! In the thousands of years of Murim history, this was the first time that the Jung Pa openly declared that they would conquer the Ma Do. The head of North Sword requested the other sects to return to their territories for preparation, and to return in one month time. He then declared that any sect or individual may enlist in the subjugation army if they so desired. The 9 Great Schools’ Nine Jung Alliance, the North Swords, the 5 Noble Clans’ Five Clans Union, and the South Blades were factions that could be considered the pillars of the Murim World. If these people were to assist in the subjugation army, it would be the largest and the fiercest military fighting force in the history of Murim.
The blinding sunlight that enveloped the earthen fields dragged last night’s darkness out of existence. Immediately upon waking up, Pa Chun searched for Guest Reception Pavilion’s backyard. Between the gardens was a small martial art training ground, and Pa Chun caught sight of several holes scattered about the ground. Pa Chun stood in the very center of the training ground. Dangling from his waist was a pair of swords. If anyone were to recognize the identity of these two swords, it would most definitely become problematic. But thankfully, no one could figure out their identities. Pa Chun drew out the Heavenly Demon Sword*.
[TN: reminder; Chun Ma = Heavenly Demon]
The sword, its length 4 Ja and 5 Chi (~135 cm), looked rather long. Although he had never once wielded it in battle and was therefore clueless about the full extent of its strength, he was able to feel its power just by looking at it.[Chun Ma! What is a Sword?]
-The Sword is the Etiquette(禮) and Path(道)!
It was a line unbefitting of Chun Ma.[The Etiquette and Path? I wasn’t asking for some sage-like anachronistic rabble….. In the end a sword is a tool for murder. Isn’t it more important to know how effectively your sword can destroy your opponents? Isn’t that the most important thing?]
-Is that really what you think?
His voice was uncomfortably heavy. It was a reaction unusual for Chun Ma.
-Listen carefully. Well, even if I explained it, if you don’t understand then it’s no use….. Do you know why the sword is called the King of all Weapons? Although it’s partly because the sword is the weapon that is closest to perfection, but it is ultimately because the sword is capable of enlightening its wielder to the very maximum of their abilities. Lift the sword into the air!
Like a well behaved child, Pa Chun obediently followed his instructions. Once he channeled his Inner Qi, the Heavenly Demon Sword began to rise. Seeing this, Chun Ma immediately resumed his lecture.
-In the end, Martial Arts is just the extent of your understanding of the Qi. You were able to levitate your sword because you exerted dominance over the sword with your Inner Qi. The universe is full of Qi. We as humans are able to accumulate it as Inner Qi and use it as we wish. Qi Cultivation is ultimately the reaction between you and the Qi within the universe. Using you as a host, the Qi is able to change and take a tangible form. Although the shape of the Qi will change, its innate nature remains the same! Now, I’ll explain further about the secrets of this art.
He acted as if a venerable master was passing his teachings to his disciple and displayed an image that was very different from the usual playful Chun Ma
-Fly the sword as far as you can!
At his words, Pa Chun started to move the sword that was dangling in the air. At first the sword was slowly accelerating. Then suddenly, the sword burst off with sudden speed.
In the tree 15 Jang (~45m) away, the sword deeply lodged itself in the trunk. If a stranger was to see this, it would have been a truly astounding sight. This technique could only be the Force Sword.
-What you just did now is nothing more than an imitation of the Force Sword.[An imitation you say?]
-That’s right. A mere imitation. After the Heavenly Demon Sword passed 10 Jang, your Inner Qi was no longer able to control it. Because you lost your supremacy, you weren’t able to channel Qi into the sword so it ended up being lodged into the tree. That is the limit of your Qi Cultivation. Then now, why do you think the sword no longer reacts to your Inner Qi? It is simply because the power you used to retrieve it could not match the power you used to throw it. From this display, your range of control does not exceed 10 Jang! Utilizing Sword Qi, Sword Energy, or Reinforced Sword is simple if you’re holding onto a sword. Even if you could create countless Sword Rings and emit Sword Petals, your sword skill would not be enough to be called true Sword Arts. Then what is the true limit of the sword? What do you think?[Well… I don’t know much about swords ….]
-Sword Qi Collection can be considered the first step, followed by the second step, Force Sword. Occasionally, there are people who regard this as a godly Sword Technique and use it as their foundation to merge with the sword. Then they call it something fancy like the Flying Sword Technique and regard it as something amazing. That is something even you can do. Sword Qi Collection means that the Qi inside of you becomes one with universe through the sword. Even if it doesn’t use up the Inner Qi within your body, it is capable of reacting with the Qi within the Universe naturally. That is why it is absolutely critical for you to understand the sword and realize the meaning behind the theory. This is the first step of understanding the limitless sword arts.[This is just the beginning?]
-Only when you have naturally understood will you be able to use the Force Sword. The first step is called the Hand Force Sword, and it allows you to control the Sword Qi with your hand. You should be able to control the sword within a 100 Jang (300m) radius. Next is the Sight Force Sword, which allows you to control the movement of the sword as far as your eyes can see. Lastly is the Mind Force Sword which allows you to control it however you desire, simply by your will alone. At this stage, even if the sword is far beyond your sight, you will be able to control it perfectly, as if you’re holding onto the sword. This is why your earlier performance was nothing but a poor imitation.[Phew~ That’s amazing. Then I guess the Mind Force Sword is the very pinnacle?]
-Hell no! Most idiots who train in the sword think that the Force Sword is the final form. That is simply just the beginning.[The beginning, you say?]
-There is a stage called the Formless Sword.[Formless Sword? Are you saying that the sword has no physical form?]
-There are two requirements for this technique. The first requirement is the Invisible Sword. You must be able to form a sword with your Qi, and nothing but your Qi. Once you reach a certain level in the first requirement, the created sword will eventually lose its shape. That is the second requirement, the Mind Formed Sword. The Formless Sword isn’t a technique that lets you kill with your mind. It’s a technique that lets you kill your opponent with a sword that you create with your mind. To put it in simpler terms, the Formless Sword is a sword you create and materialize from your own Inner Qi that will lose its form when mastered. When this happens, it is in its ultimate form. A formless blade created from your mind that can kill. This form transcends the limit of the Force Sword stage. It becomes a sword that is impossible to defend against![What the hell do you mean!]
-All forms of Sword Qi can be blocked in some way. But regardless of what defense one puts up against the Formless Sword, there is nothing that can actually block it. For example, the Sword Screen, the dense aggregate of Sword Energy, can be used as a curtain to block oncoming Sword Qi! If you were to use the Sword Screen, Sword Qi will never be able to penetrate it! In that case, you must break through the Sword Screen with raw power.
-I’ll tell you about Sword Qi, first. You should know, when the Sword Qi multiplies in power, it reaches the Reinforced Sword stage. However, when the Sword Qi becomes wider instead, it reaches the Sword Wind stage. You can think of Sword Qi as a thread. Then, the Reinforced Sword would be a stronger thread and the Sword Wind would be a sheet of threads! After these stages is the Sword Blast stage. The Sword Blast is capable of destroying space itself, rendering it into a vacuum like state. Even the Sword Screen is unable to block against the Sword Blast. The Formless Sword is the very pinnacle of Sword Blast. To put it simply, look at water. No matter what it is, water always flows over anything it comes into contact with. When water flows from high to low, even if you were to obstruct the path with boulders, the water will simply just go over it. It is the same for the Formless Sword.
-A long time ago, there was a certain expert who had reached the pinnacle of the Force Sword. The Sword Screen he used combined several layers of the ‘sheet’ I mentioned, and each of these layers was said to have in the Reinforced Sword Stage. Therefore, it was said that his Sword Screen was impenetrable! However, the Formless Sword would simply flow through it! His Sword Screen would never be able to defend against the Formless Sword![Then Chun Ma, just how far have you advanced?]
-I…. have gone beyond the Formless Sword.[What? Are you saying… there is a stage beyond the Formless Sword?]
-That’s right. Although I struggled at the bottleneck, I was eventually able to surpass the Formless Sword and reached the Nature Sword.[Nature Sword?]
-That’s right the Nature Sword! The nature contains an unimaginable power. This stage does not create a formless sword, but turns nature itself into a sword![What you are saying…. I don’t understand….]
-For example, although there is a huge gap in understanding, when it rains, think of every droplet as a shard of Sword Qi! Under this power, millions of soldiers would be slaughtered without having a chance to fight back! Tell me, is there someone that can dodge wind? If the wind becomes Sword Qi, who in the world will be able to evade that? If lighting became sword Qi, is there a sword that can shield you from that?[Are you telling me something like that is possible?]
-It is! After that is the Universe Sword. This step is something even I cannot explain. However… I am sure that it exists. By combining with the universe, you become a part of its power. I’m guessing that it will be able to grant the wielder to control space itself as he wishes. This is all I am able to currently imagine….[Then Chun Ma, in the history of Murim, how many people have entered the Nature Sword stage?]
-None. From what I know, no one before me was able to enter this stage. However, there are people who have achieved this stage beyond the Murim!] [What are you talking about? Beyond the Murim?]
-You will eventually learn about them. If you become strong to the point that you become a threat to them, they will definitely show themselves.
=You must be talking about them!
-Huh? Baldy, you know them too?
=I have never met them in person, but I have heard of them from my master. They seemed to have once come to visit the Great Dharma.
-Is that so? Then that Dharma kid must have entered the Nature Sword stage. I stand corrected, there have been two in Murim history!
Chun Ma was a figure of 1700 years ago. He was born in the same time as Mencius and died during the unification of China. Dharma should have been around 8, 9 centuries ago.
-In the end everything becomes one. From now on, forget about those worthless martial arts you’ve been relying on and only hang on to the power of the sword. If you train yourself rigorously, you will one day reach enlightenment and make a break through. Understanding the profound meaning behind the Three Swords of the Heavenly Demon may help you reach that sage earlier.[Then what should I do with the high-level techniques I already know….]
-If you hang on to those kinds of things you will never improve. Martial art techniques are nothing but variations of Speed(快), Change(變), and Strength(强). All paths lead to one. The final form of all martial art techniques lies in Enlightenment. If you insist on any one of Speed, Change, or Strength, you will eventually run into a wall. If you cannot overcome that wall, you will never reach Enlightenment. Even if your Inner Qi reaches several tens of cycles, if you fail to overcome this wall, you will not be any stronger than someone of 5th Inner Qi cycle. Of course, no idiot would not have reached Enlightenment by then, but this is just a hypothetically situation. The difference between someone who relies on the knowledge of his techniques and someone who has understood the profound meaning of the world is too great. Ultimate Experts are quite common, but Masters are rare, and True Masters are even rarer! Beyond them, those who have reached the Demigod level can be counted on one hand. You are free to choose the your own path. But know this! The vital difference between you and the rest of the world is that while others train all their lives to create, build, and reinforce their foundations, you already have the foundation built inside you. It may even be possible that you will become the very first human to see the endless depths of the Limits of the Sword. But if you end up throwing away this valuable chance away, it will be no different than kicking mud at the Heavens.
While listening to Chun Ma’s speech, he plucked out the sword stuck in the tree. Why did it seem that the Chun Ma Sword seemed heavier than usual? Flames seemed to burn inside his chest. This was not a simple thirst for victory, but a intense curiosity towards the stage which no one had ever reached. At this very moment, achieving that stage became the very purpose of his life. It was exactly like Chun Ma said. Because the path was long and difficult, it would be truly unfair if he were to turn his back from this path despite his god given gift. That’s right, I will do it! I’ll rise higher and higher. When I reach the height where I can no longer rise, then I’ll just be satisfied with what I have already gained….. For some reason the morning felt even more pleasant than usual.
When Pa Chun returned to his room, he immediately took a bath. As if trying to wash out the dregs in his heart, he submerged himself in the water. After finishing a meal with Nam-Goong Hyuk-Ryun, he had tea while exchanging a friendly conversation. Pa Chun however, was unable to delve into and enjoy the conversation. His head was filled with Chun Ma’s teachings and the words spoken around him did not even pass through his ears. He would often stare out blankly while thinQing about something else. Although they regarded him as strange, they still showed an indifferent attitude.
Pa Chun was invited by the North Swords’ head for lunch and left for the Divine Sword Pavilion. The head had personally invited Pa Chun and sent several of the Protectors’ experts as an escort. The Divine Sword Pavilion had 9 floors. The 1st floor to the 7th floor was the Protectors’ Palace, where the four different Palaces resided. The 8th floor was the Business Hall The 9th floor was a place where no one could go to without permission as it was the private quarters of the North Swords’ head, the Dok-Go Han-Chun. Pa Chun was being escorted to a room in that very 9th floor. Dok-Go Han-Chun was dressed in a black robe with nine gold dragons that radiated waves of light as if it was alive. He was already seated when Pa Chun had arrived.
“Please have a seat Sir Mun! Today I wished to make a special seat for you Sir Mun so I asked my men to escort you here. You are not uncomfortable I hope?
“Your words are too humble. I am honored to receive your invitation. By the way, your quarter is quite cozy. I am slightly jealous that you live in such a place”
It was something that Pa Chun said while looking left and right.
“Hahaha. If you wish, I could clear it out for you any time it is desired but…..”
“Then, at this opportunity, should I just move in?”
“Hahaha for me it would be an honor if you were to do that. If Sir Mun were to desire to live in the North Swords, I would like to aid you even if I had to build two more Divine Sword Pavilions.
“Is there really a point in building a new? You could just empty out this one….”
Perhaps because his words seemed to go too far, the head’s complexion seemed to pale but it immediately changed back to the original bright face.
‘What a snake-like fellow! What? Clear out the Divine Sword Pavilion?’
‘Bastard! He’s having fun spouting out empty nonsense. He must take me for a fool!’
While the two were inwardly cursing each other out, their faces showed radiant smiles. Neither of them was to be underestimated. After a short period of time, 10 maids came in with plates filled to the brim in both hands. The maids placed the plates of on the table starting from Pa Chun’s side. There were numerous dishes that even Pa Chun who was once the emperor have never seen before. Although he had once took pride that there was not a single precious dish that he had not tasted, he was confronted with countless gourmet like food that he could not identify or much less know the ingredients. It was easy to imagine the splendor that Dok-Go Han-Chun lived with.
“Please help yourself. Let us exchange words while having lunch.”
The two of them frequently asked and answered questions over the table. The questioner was usually Dok-Go Han-Chun while Pa Chun usually answered the questions
“What’s your thoughts after joining the Great Jung Do Banquet?”
“Well…. I was slightly disappointed. I heard that it was one of Murim’s great gatherings so I had many expectations… but in the end, there wasn’t anything special. By the way, are you serious about conquering the Ma Do?”
“It is something that has already been decided upon….. What can I do about it? I also don’t wish for it, but since all of the fellow Gang Ho-ins desire it, I have no choice but to follow through.”
-Wow this chap is a one sickening bastard. Even though he’s the master mind, what gibberish is he saying? Because the fellow Gang Ho-ins desire it, he has to follow it? Just dig a ditch and die you piece of garbage!
“Hmmmm…. Then what plan are you thinking of to use to conquer the Ma Do?”
“That… First of all, the Murim army must be formed in order to enact a plan… A frontal attack will probably be the best course of action. I predict that it will take at least a year to finish. Their headquarters is at Hangzhou, but since their branches are scattered about everywhere in secret locations, it will take a bit longer to destroy them. But if Sir Moon were to aid us then we would be able to shorten the time it would take to finish this war.”
“Then after the Ma Do is cleaned out, will the Murim Army disband?”
It was a question meant to attack the Head’s very core.
“Who knows. That would be decided after the conquest is complete. To be honest, in my opinion I would like to establish it as a permanent existence. For harmony in the Murim world, wouldn’t that be the best?”
-Rather than peace and harmony, it’s to satisfy his greed.
“From what I hear… the 3 Outside Powers and the Ma Do’s relationship are quite friendly. What will you do if they were to aid the Ma Do?
“Something like that won’t happen. They have already proclaimed their stance on this issue… Even if they were to help the Ma Do, it won’t be much of a difference in the overall outcome.
He showed extreme self-confidence. However, it was reasonable since the 3 Outside Powers would be no match for the combined forces of the 4 Powers of Jung Do.
“Besides that are there any other variables?”
“The central figures of Murim are the 4 Powers of Jung Do. Honestly, the other powers are not huge threats so I wouldn’t call these factors variables. But I have heard… that the Heavenly Demon Sect’s techniques have appeared. If the Heavenly Demon Sect has truly returned… it will become our greatest threat.”
“The Heavenly Demon Sect has reappeared?”
“I didn’t mean that the Heavenly Demon Set has revealed themselves, I meant that a person who claimed to be Chun Ma’s successor has appeared and his Martial arts is known to be very similar to that of Chun Ma’s.”
“Ah, is that so?”
-What a stupid fellow! Not even realizing the guy he’s talking about is in front of him…. Truthfully besides people like him who act like they’re smart, there aren’t any decent guys. When he learns the truth later, how resentful and cheated do you think he’ll feel?
“And because of that…. Someone like Sir Mun is a necessary existence for the Murim army. Do you have any thoughts of working together with me for the honor of Murim? If you desire, I can promise you the seat of Ten Thousand Men Commander.”
‘This man is truly astonishing. He’s talking as if it’s already been established that he will be the leader of the Murim army. What does he take me for…. There’s no way that’s happening. But I can’t hesitate when he’s offering me the leader’s position… Damn I screwed up.
“Haha I am grateful that you view an inadequate person like me with such esteem. I will make the decision after I think it through.”
“That… is fine. Just please don’t forget that I hold you in high regard.”
“Father, it’s me”
“Hoh~. Come in”
‘Huh? What is this now?’
It was the beautiful lady Dok-Go Sul-Lan. Although they have already met and had a conversation while she was naked, her elegant dress took her beauty to a whole new level. The green silk dress that was tightly wrapped around her body accentuated her curvy figure to the point that anyone would give gasps of admiration.
She seemed shocked when she noticed that there was someone else in the room.
“This child is my daughter. Hurry up and introduce yourself.”
“This one is called Dok-Go Sul-Lan.”
While introducing herself, she stared at Pa Chun
‘Wait, isn’t this young lord? Last night’s….’
“Oh is that right? I am called Jade Faced Diving Dragon Mun-Yun. It is an honor to meet someone as beautiful as you are.”
-Ugh what a bold guy!
“Haha come here and sit down. How is she Sir Mun? I’m not saying this because she’s my daughter but don’t you think that she’s perfect?”
-This bastard! What is his motive? From the looks of things, it seems like he called her here himself
‘Truly an astonishing fellow. He’s making me feel disgusted. Trying to trick me using his own daughter. If I knew any less I would have been completely fooled.’
“Yes you are right. I too have seen many beautiful women in Gang Ho but it’s a first time seeing a beauty like lady Sul-Lan.”
At his words Dok-Go Sul-Lan’s face became red.[Lady, I will come tonight to steal you away]
While her father wasn’t looking, she slightly nodded her head at Pa Chun’s words.
“This child is now 19 years old so she is now at the age that I should send her over for marriage…. I am pained in my heart due to the fact that she must leave me soon. I need to decide on her partner even though I don’t wish to send her. Hah…. The feelings of all parents seem to be alike.
‘He talks like an angel. How would the child feel after seeing such a father? Would she feel sickened even if he’s her parent?’
“So the groom hasn’t been decided?”
“Of course… Even though there are numerous men who want to take her, how could I give her to just anybody? Maybe if the groom was like you Sir Mumn I would agree.”
Because he already knew the truth about the situation, Pa Chun was extremely confused. He even doubted whether what he knew was accurate.
“Sir! Please help me. Help from something like you is vital. For Gang Ho’s tranquility, I will rely on your earnest support!”
“If it is something I could help you with I will help. I am thankful that you are helping me with so many things. I also had a good meal thanks to you and you even expanded my view of this word. I don’t know what to say to thank you. If you desire it, I will help you no matter what the problem.”
‘This bastard needs a taste of betrayal. How dare he try to scheme right in front of me….’
“Haha thank you. After hearing your words, it feels as if all my anxiety have been washed away as if I have gained an army of a thousand men.
“Then… I must leave now. There are people waiting for me….”
“Ah…. I seem to have selfishly held you here for too long. Everything thing I did was out of admiration for you so please don’t take offense.”
“You are too humble…”
He once against memorized Dok-Go Sul-Lan’s figure. When Dok-Go Han-Chun saw that, the sincere smile on his face disappeared for a second and reappeared once more while Pa Chun was getting up. Even after Pa Chun turned around and left, his smile still did not disappear.
“Uh, Father, who was that person?”
“There is no need for you to worry about him. You just watch your behavior and prepare for your marriage. I will send you off for marriage next spring.”
“Just who am I marrying?”
“Who do you think? Haven’t I already told you it was with the young master of the South Blades?”
“Father that person is….”
“Shut up. You should just do as I say. How dare you talk back to me! I was the one who raised you all this time and you can’t even carry out a single one of my wish? Furthermore, where else would you find a better marriage candidate? If you just follow my words you can live your entire life without worries. You may leave.”
She bowed to her father and left the room
‘Father, I do not need something like that. I could do whatever you desire but I would like to marry someone I love. I’m sorry.’
Without knowing his daughter’s hidden feelings, the Dok-Go Han-Chun’s laughter echoed all throughout the Divine Sword Pavilion.
He laughed as if everything was going as he planned. But would things truly go so smoothly?