The Novel's Villain - Chapter 76
20. Enlightenment (2)
Judging by the atmosphere, it didn’t seem like he could just slide by without answering. Jin-woo exhaled a long breath.
He decided to just give a rough response.
“Isn’t that what you’re trying to make a living by?”
The content was radical, but the way he spoke was confident and polite. The Sword Master thought for a moment in silence, then nodded.
“You mean a sword for survival. That’s right. If there is no attachment and will to live…it will just be a sword on its own…”
“Isn’t that divine swordsmanship?”
A-League Guild member behind the Sword Master looked around and said so, but he shook his head.
“If I forget myself and my ego is blurred, can it be said that it is the true divine swordsmanship? Without the will and the heart, you will lose your purpose.”
“I see. A sword without a heart could never achieve the realm of the Heart Sword, which is the realm of the mind.”
Lee Jin-man said so, slapping his knee as if he had realized many things.
“Come to think of it, Semi-Knight Lee Jin-woo has reached the heart sword, right?”
“The answer of great ascent is so random…”
“Well, that’s something we need to think about.”
There was a buzz around them. The League Guild members were talking to each other about life, swordsmanship, martial arts, and will. Jin-woo was growing upset watching them. He came here to be verified, obtain qualification as a Knight, and receive applause like the main character, but they were talking among themselves.
Listening to the content, it was nonsense. Jin-woo stood sullenly and tried to go back to the whiteboard.
“Then what is the value of the sword in your opinion, Mr. Lee Jin-woo?”
A-League Guild member suddenly asked the question. His eyes looked desperate. However, Jin-woo didn’t think deeply.
The value of the sword. They were piled up in the sword warehouse, and treasured swords were scattered randomly in the Sanctuary. Particularly…
“I’ve never thought about it.”
“Are you saying you forgot?”
“It wasn’t worth it.”
The League Guild member suddenly stood up as if he had realized something. Jin-woo, who was about to open the pen’s lid, nearly dropped it from surprise. Everyone’s eyes were focused on them. The League Guild member slowly closed his eyes and sat down again as mana began to flow from his body.
The Sword Master quickly stepped up to protect the league guild member. The mana grew even larger and was absorbed into the league guild member. It was a phenomenon that occurred when there was an experience of considerable enlightenment. The league guild member opened his eyes with a blank look.
“Congratulations. Looks like you got a good understanding.”
He trembled with emotion, then expressed his gratitude to Jin-woo by bowing his head repeatedly. Jin-woo didn’t show any sign of embarrassment as the Emperor of Gold was working. Rather, he made it look like it was something obvious.
He was wondering if he could start the verification now.
“I have a question!”
Questions started pouring in. The Sword Master was looking at Jin-woo with no small amount of satisfaction. The same was true of Lee Jin-man, the President of the Association. All of the League Guild members who came here were those who had a bright future. This was because Lee Jin-man selected and invited only especially talented League Guild members. It was natural for the other factions to feel uncomfortable, but they couldn’t say much because of the Sword Master and high-ranking Knights of the Federation.
‘A very powerful tide is building up…’
He would be a wave that purified the stagnant Korean Association of Competent People. The Sword Master was of a like mind. Everyone knew that Jin-woo was qualified to be a Knight, so the Sword Master and Lee Jin-man wanted to give him the freedom to act freely without any problems.
Jin-woo was at a loss.
‘It’s hard to refuse.’
It was a meeting to verify the challenges and that he had the qualifications of a
Knight. If even this was included in the verification, it was right to answer. Jin-woo finally put down his pen.
The questions were
“How do you train?”
“I set a time and do it regularly.”
“What do you do with your mental training?”
“I read books or watch some videos on MeTube.”
From simple questions…
“There is a saying that mana represents the origin of a person. What do you think?”
“I’m sure everyone must have their color.”
“How do I break free from the stereotyped chain-movement?”
“You just have to get used to it.”
To fairly complex questions. He roughly brought out his knowledge and gave quick answers, passing them over. It was fully a Q&A now. He wondered if the questions would stop if he gave a sloppy answer, but surprisingly, many people gained enlightenment.
“Haha, that’s right. You can’t just try to forget. Even if the head forgets, the body must still remember. You have to overcome that cognitive dissonance naturally.”
“I agree with you. It makes me look back on myself.”
The Sword Master and Lee Jin-man became explanation freaks and interpreted his good-for-nothing answers into perfect ones.
The air swayed as mana spurted out. The enlightenment relay had begun. Thanks to that, his time was considerably delayed.
The situation was finally sorted out to a certain extent. The League Guild members who gained enlightenment and those who didn’t but gained many other things regardless looked as if they had just come out of the bathroom. What happened today would be remembered as a great miracle that shook the League Guild.
Jin-woo was finally able to get to the front of the whiteboard. It took a long time.
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‘Anyway, I can make up what was delayed.’
Jin-woo tried to summarize it in moderation to finish it as soon as possible. He even reduced the amount by reviewing it by himself. Since it was late, it seemed okay to leave it to the Emperor of Gold.
The verification was sacred. Once in, he couldn’t leave until it was verified. The observers were only prohibited from moving out of the building, but those who participated in the verification qualification had to keep to their seats to avoid any complications.
“Well, that’s nice to hear, but….”
“Isn’t the practice something you have to do by yourself?”
“We will see how the proof of the challenge problems will turn out. Semi-Knight Lee Jin-woo, do you have enough stamina? There will be many questions as it is a challenge.”
The high-ranking Knights of the Association put on strict looks as they watched him. But, after all, it wasn’t their area of expertise. It was a verification, but it was also used as a Knight review. It was commonly reported that there was bullying by asking difficult questions during the Knight review.
It was an old-fashioned culture of discipline. Those who were certified as Knights couldn’t avoid it in any way.
Of course, they didn’t intend to go that far against Jin-woo, and they just wanted to show that they were capable high-ranking Knights that couldn’t be ignored by asking sharp questions. Jin-woo didn’t care. He was just a little annoyed because there were factions clearly at play.
Jin-woo picked up the pen.
“Then let’s get started.”
As the Emperor of Gold slowly rose, Jin-woo began to fall into a trance. But was it because there was still a small amount of dark mana left in his body?
[A small amount of dark mana activates, Malignant is activated.]
[Small curses may arise for those who have malice.]
Malignant opened its eyes. Jin-woo, who was in a trance, didn’t notice. He just felt good about the sensation of pouring something out.
A smile hung on Jin-woo’s lips. Seeing that smile, the high-ranking Knights of the Association were stunned. A pressure was bearing down on them. Jin-woo began to write slowly, accurately, and beautifully on the whiteboard.
The whiteboard was repeatedly filled and erased. The verification continued with no sign of ending. The high-ranking Knights of the Association stamped their feet. If it were just growing longer, they would be able to put up with it for days and nights. They weren’t high-ranking Knights for no reason.
Now, however, they felt like dying.
‘Ugh, I think it’s coming out.’
‘I have to focus…’
Suddenly they felt chills, and their stomachs started to hurt. At first, they thought they caught a disease of the mind, so they looked inside, but everything appeared normal. The pain was growing worse and worse, and they were barely blocking it with all their mana. It was as if someone was squeezing their intestines.
The pain grew worse if they didn’t concentrate on Jin-woo and left their minds elsewhere. Unlike them, the verification committee members in related fields were engulfed by excitement and continued to admire Jin-woo. The faces of the Association’s high-ranking Knights turned pale.
Jin-woo dotted a final period and came out of his trance.
‘How long has it been?’
He checked the time, realizing half a day had passed. When Jin-woo lowered his pen for a moment, the high-ranking Knights of the Association were delighted.
“C-cough! That’s great! I think you deserve to be a Knight!”
“That’s right. It couldn’t be more perfect.”
The expressions of the high-ranking Knights suddenly started to grow worse. Their pain only intensified as Jin-woo stopped writing. They rolled their eyes and looked around. Everyone was seriously talking or admiring him. The members of the Federation who oversaw the verification were more enthusiastic.
Only the three high-ranking Knights of the Association were serious. They noticed that they felt the same way and began to think there was something wrong with what they ate for breakfast. As many questions poured in, Jin-woo nodded.
“I think my explanation is lacking. Then let me explain from the beginning again…”
“It’s so perfect!”
“This is a miracle!”
The high-ranking Knights jumped up and applauded. The people from the Federation were disappointed, but they agreed. The challenge was solved so perfectly. There were questions because it seemed that other challenges could be approached based on these theories.
“Come on! Give him applause!”
Jin-woo was the first to pass the verification and Knight review with unanimity and a perfect score from both the Federation and Association. The high-ranking Knights tried to flee, but they had to watch the award ceremony. They tried to leave quickly after the Knight award ceremony, but thanks to the Sword Master, they had to stand side by side at the door and keep their seats for a while.
“I know how you feel, but don’t pressure your juniors too much. Haha, you looked serious back then. During my time…”
The Sword Master offered them some words of wisdom. They were out of breath and looked ten years older because they had already used up their mana by focusing heavily on their muscles.
“Do you understand?”
“Thank you for the advice!”
The Sword Master walked away with a happy smile. The high-ranking Knights quickly searched for the bathroom, but the venue was so wide that they struggled to find it. Even the bathroom they managed to find was locked.
The High-ranking Knights found Jin-woo wearing a Knight’s uniform during their desperation. It suited him so well. To them, Jin-woo looked like a savior. Jin-woo didn’t have any ill intentions toward them, and since they were high-ranking Knights, he treated them kindly to make new connections.
“Do you happen to know where the bathroom is?”
“This place is said to be under construction. Go to the VIP waiting room, the staff will guide you.”
When Jin-woo called the staff on stand-by, they guided the high-ranking Knights.
“Then, e-excuse me.”
When they got to the bathroom, they entered the stalls next to each other. Only the sound of long breaths could be heard. They were breaths filled with emptiness.
“Phew, after all, life is so simple…”
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“That’s it. It’s supposed to be empty anyway…”
“I wonder why we became obsessed with it.”
The wise man’s time had come strong. They reached enlightenment.
‘I have to be nice to Sir Lee Jin-woo.’
‘Come to think of it. I did too much to him.’
‘He’s so smart and nice.’
The high-ranking Knights began to like Jin-woo, who saved them with a bright smile. With this event as an opportunity, the Cold War system caused by the prolonged factional fighting was overthrown and moved toward reconciliation.
* * *
For the first time in 210 years, there was a meeting of the Demon Kings. It wasn’t an actual meeting but a video conference through artifacts with everyone participating except for Hallas. The atmosphere of the meeting was, of course, serious. Shortly after the Emperor’s visit, Giganter disappeared, and Hallas was missing. In addition, there were earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout the Demon Realm.
It was said that Gallord suffered enough damage that one warehouse collapsed, but the other Demon Kings’ estates were caught up in the volcanic eruptions, and they suffered great hardship. Gallord visited Arina’s estate with the treasures collected by the Demon Kings. He was selected from among the Demon Kings because he was the closest to her estate.
‘What the hell is his intention?’
For what purpose did the Emperor come to the Demon Realm? He was planning to visit Arina’s estate and secretly spy on him. Arina smiled brightly at the sight of the treasure piled up. It was a smile that looked so innocent; Gallord was horrified. It was strange that he had never felt it before.
Behind that innocence was unsurpassable greed.
“What’s with all of this…? You don’t need to bring so much…”
“Haha, all, of course, I should do this much.”
Looking at how Giganter became, this wasn’t enough.
“W-where is the Emperor…?”
“He said he would come today, but I don’t know when. He is very busy, after all.”
“Whew, I see.”
Gallord was relieved. He quickly smiled when Arina tilted her head.
“Hahaha! After all, he is a great man. Of course, he is busy!”
As Arina smiled, Gallord sighed in relief. The sight of her looking at him as if she knew nothing about it gave Gallord goosebumps.
“Well…c-could you please show me around the estate?”
“Yes, I’ll show you around.”
Arina guided him with a smile. Gallord looked over the estate desperately. He laughed like a fool whenever he made eye contact with Arina.
Gallord found numerous footprints in the hardened mud.
There were also bloodstains. It was indeed demon blood. Gallord had better senses than other Demon Kings; he could recognize the color and scent of blood in detail. Judging by the color and scent of the blood, it was really from a demon.
Arina, who was going ahead, turned her head slightly and looked at him. Her smile seemed awkward this time.
“What’s going on?”
Gallord cautiously followed her. They toured the video set. It was a place where everything supported by Gallord and others was being used to its fullest. He remembered Hallas as the one who gave her the most support.
“Oh! I have a little work to do…”
“T-then I will look around by myself. It seems like a nice estate.”
“Okay, then, please look around and come to the mansion.”
Arina turned and headed for the manor’s house. Gallord breathed a sigh of relief, but then she looked back at him.
Gallord felt nervous again.
“There is a place with a portal connected, don’t go there.”
“What? All right.”
Arina went to the manor’s house after leaving these words. Gallord wiped the sweat from his forehead and began to observe the estate. Bloodstains and footprints were everywhere. He followed the footprints. He ran into maids along the way, but Gallord pretended to be looking around.
“It was difficult to clean. The skin didn’t peel off well…”
“Especially the horns…”
The stories of the maids sounded somewhat creepy. As the maids disappeared, Gallord traced the footprints. There was a shabby portal stone in the corner of the estate. Arina’s words came to mind, but he couldn’t come this far and go back empty-handed.
‘If it’s my mana, it will leave no trace…’
The Demon King of Extinction, Gallord. He dealt with magic that could destroy objects. Other Demon Kings argued whether it could also destroy good fortune or luck. As far as the combat power was concerned, he was the highest among Demon Kings, and although his estate was poor, there was no Demon King who ignored him.
Gallord crossed over using the portal stone.
There was no energy in that place. He felt his mana gradually drained away as if sucked into the void. It felt as if this place wasn’t the Demon Realm. There was no time. He didn’t know where this was, but he had to take a quick look around before his mana ran out.
He made his way through the darkness.
A cry was heard. Gallord approached cautiously, soon coming across a broken demon. As soon as the demon found him, he began to say something.
“A-are you okay?”
“Huuuh, huaaa, G-Gwallord….”
Gallord used his mana to restore the demon. He was startled when his face returned to a recognizable state.
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“S-save me. Get me out of here! T-this is hell!”
“Calm down! Tell me what the hell is going on here!”
“T-that’s…h-huge! It’s incredibly big and dangerous…”
Numerous footsteps were heard as several red eyes lit up the darkness. Hallas clung to him. He must not take him out. Arina would catch him.
Gallord squeezed his mana and cast a silence spell on him. He didn’t have a magic core, so he couldn’t resist. Hallas was now forever speechless. Hallas looked at Gallord with resentful eyes, holding onto Gallord’s trousers.
Gallord threw him away in his rush.
Hallas bounced off the side and bumped into something. Then something rolled down.
It was the skeleton of many demons. It looked as if someone had eaten them, leaving only clean bones behind. All of his mana was gone in an instant. Gallord managed to climb up to the portal as the glowing red eyes approached Hallas.
‘Forgive me, Hallas.’
Hallas, the Demon King of Blood and Domination, was cunning and cruel. Although he fell into the category of enemies, he was attached to him after their long fight.
There was the sound of something blunt hitting Hallas. Gallord closed his eyes tightly and climbed out of the portal.
‘So-something is happening. Something unusual…’
He was sweating, but Gallord managed to pretend to be calm.
Someone was standing in front of the manor’s house. A very frightening dark energy was rising from his right arm. He knew right away who it was.
‘T-the Emperor of Gold!’
It was him.
* * *
Jin-woo, who obtained the qualifications as a Knight, left to Arina’s estate. It was said that the Demon King Gallord was visiting the estate, so he thought it would be good to get acquainted with him over dinner.
He saw Gallord. He was a handsome man with horns on his head.
“H-how are you! My name is Gallord.”
“Nice to meet you.”
When Jin-woo stretched out his hand, he realized what it meant quickly and grabbed Jin-woo’s hand. Then Gallord stumbled. His complexion was pale blue, looking unwell. The meal was quickly prepared, and they ate together.
It was a menu made with meat brought from JW Gate at Arina’s request. The main menu was a traditional Demon Realm dish which was eaten by peeling the flesh off the bones, and it also suited Jin-woo’s taste.
“The meat is well-cooked.”
“I usually only grill the lean meat, but this is also good! As expected from the special meat.”
“Right. It’s indeed special. Very…”
Jin-woo nodded at Arina’s words. It was pretty special meat with a high rank. Jin-woo looked at Gallord. He lifted the lean meat into his gaze and barely managed to bring it to his mouth. He took a hesitant bite and swallowed. After a while, he covered his mouth with his hand.
“Doesn’t it suit your taste?”
“Sorry, I’m sorry!”
“It’s okay. Don’t force yourself to eat.”
Jin-woo felt sorry for no reason. By the time the meal was over, Gallord was almost on the verge of collapse.
‘Gallord is a very strong Demon King, which is strange.’
It seemed like he wasn’t feeling very well. However, he ate together until the end and listened to Jin-woo. Gallord wasn’t mentioned much in the original story. In Jin-woo’s eyes, he was a fairly decent Demon King.
“Here, take it.”
“It’s a gift.”
Jin-woo gave him a jewel that was worth a considerable amount of money. Gallord was so conflicted that he received the gift with trembling hands. Jin-woo smiled proudly. As expected, the conversation brought them to get along.
Jin-woo told him to stay the night, but Gallord politely declined and left the estate quickly. Arina admired him as he left.
“He seems to be worried about his estate.”
“He’s a good lord.”
“Yes. He gives me a lot of support and is a very kind Demon King.”
Jin-woo nodded. Arina looked at Jin-woo as if she remembered something.
“Oh! The remains of demons have been found in the Lair of Greed. They seem to have been eaten by the Emperor of Greed, but the dwarves found them buried deep while working.”
“Well, let’s have a respectful funeral for them.”
“Yes, I will make a graveyard on the estate.”
Jin-woo shook his head. He realized it all over again.
The Emperor of Greed was a very bad guy.
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