Cale asked with a disgruntled look on his face, not caring that the Sage Demon was sweating profusely.
“And what is that situation?”
Chief Eunuch Wi could not pay attention to the fact that young master Kim was speaking completely different from his usual respectful tone.
‘Did he say that bastard?’
He was still in shock at the fact that Cale had called the Heavenly Demon, ‘that bastard.’
“Ahem. Ahem. You see…”
The Sage Demon slowly looked away from the disgruntled Cale and answered.
“Originally, the Heavenly Demon wished to ask you to join him when he dined with the four candidates, young master Kim-nim.”
Cale decided to listen to what the Sage Demon had to say and leaned back on the chair with his arms crossed.
“This was to confirm whether any of the candidates were living jiangshis.”
Cale nodded his head.
That was a necessary task.
“And the reason he chose it to be during a meal was because he thought that the best story would be telling the candidates that they are greeting a member of the Imperial family.”
He nodded his head this time as well.
“That won’t work.”
However, Cale opposed that idea.
“Most importantly, it cannot be a meal.”
Priest Durst would faint as soon as he got near the Heavenly Demon.
Cale informed the Sage Demon about Priest Durst and that he was the one who could find the living jiangshis.
“S, someone like that exists?”
The Sage Demon seemed quite flabbergasted as he gasped in shock.
“If he faints when he sees the Heavenly Demon-nim and dry heaves when he sees a living jiangshis, it truly seems difficult to have that Noble Warrior accompany you to a meal.”
“That’s a relief.”
Cale looked at the Sage Demon after hearing that response.
“It was originally supposed to be during a meal but I wanted to tell you that the situation had changed.”
Cale felt iffy about this but motioned to the Sage Demon with his eyes to continue.
“I suppose the factions behind each candidate became anxious after being informed about this meal that they made a move.”
Cale slightly scowled after hearing that.
“The Heavenly Demon cannot even plan a meal as he pleases? This seems different from what I have heard about the Heavenly Demon’s position in the Demon Cult.”
The Demon Cult supposedly allowed for under the surface fights between the candidates until the heir was decided.
Furthermore, they welcomed candidates openly battling or their factions having fair fights as well. This was because the Demon Cult valued the survival of the fittest.
It was also the reason the current Heavenly Demon was able to rise to his position despite not having much to his name.
Which was why it made no sense that the Heavenly Demon could not even schedule a meal as he pleased.
‘The Heavenly Demon is also not someone who would sit by and let something like that happen.’
The Sage Demon answered Cale’s question.
There is one of the Eight Pavilions that has not given their support for any of the candidates. That is the Law and Etiquettes Pavilion. It is the place that oversees the laws and etiquettes of the Demon Cult.”
Laws and Etiquettes.
Cale could tell how things ended up like this as soon as he heard that. He spoke before the Sage Demon could say anything.
“A member of the Imperial family has publicly visited the Demon Cult-”
“Yes sir. This is the first visit in about 300 years.”
“Anyway, the Law and Etiquettes Pavilion must have said something to the Heavenly Demon about following the proper laws and etiquettes for such a visit?”
“That is right, young master-nim.”
“They didn’t say anything wrong there, so… They probably asked to create an official meeting so that it does not seem disrespectful to the Imperial Palace, especially since the heir has yet to be chosen?”
“Yes sir. That is correct.”
Cale’s face looked unsettled while the Sage Demon, who was nodding his head in agreement to what Cale was saying, wiped his forehead with a handkerchief and added on.
The Pavilion Master of the Law and Etiquettes Pavilion is the eldest of all of the Demon Cult’s staff right now and has been working since the days of the former Heavenly Demon. Even the Heavenly Demon cannot easily ignore that senior’s opinion.”
“…It’s obvious he’s a damn stickler for the rules.”
“That’s right! Young master Kim-nim, you’re able to figure out a person’s true nature by just hearing a bit about them!”
The Sage Demon complimented Cale but Cale was indifferent about it.
‘Wuxia novels always have an old Elder or person in charge in each major force who is such a stickler for the rules.’
Cale let out a sigh. He felt as if things were getting extremely annoying.
The Sage Demon warily looked at him before smiling brightly and slowly commenting.
“Young master-nim, honestly speaking, you do not need to worry much about it.”
“I thought you wanted me to take a look at the candidates for the future leader of the Demon Cult and let you know?”
“That is also just for formalities.”
The Sage Demon honestly answered.
“Honestly speaking, the Law and Etiquettes Pavilion want us to do that for formalities and the Eight Pavilions and Eight Battalions do not want the process affected by the evaluation of an outsider.”
“Then why were they against the meal?”
“They are just worried that the Heavenly Demon would listen to you, young master Kim-nim, and affect the candidate rankings.”
Cale felt relieved after hearing what the Sage Demon said next.
“Most importantly, the Heavenly Demon does not listen to others. Our liege is someone who will choose an heir as he pleases.”
Cale had a relaxed smile on his face after hearing that.
“So basically, the Heavenly Demon will let my words in one ear and out the other?” In that case, I can do it without feeling any sort of burden. I will just be tactful and say one or two good things about the candidates.”
‘That much shouldn’t be that bad.’
Cale was feeling relieved and did not notice the Sage Demon wiping the sweat off his forehead.
He made another comment to the Sage Demon.
“However, we will need to think a bit about how to find the living jiangshis.”
“Indeed, young master-nim.”
“Since things are like this anyway, the Eight Pavilions and Eight Battalions, and the four candidates… Let’s take a look at all of them at once.”
Priest Durst would have to work extremely hard but wouldn’t it be better to take care of it all at once?
Cale watched the Sage Demon leaving while saying that he will come back with a schedule and asked the invisible Raon.
“You said that the Dominating Aura is similar to the Heavenly Demon’s aura?”
“That’s right, human! It also felt a bit like Choi Han as well.”
Tap. Tap. Cale tapped on the armrest while thinking for a bit before speaking to Ron who was quietly standing in the corner.
“Ron. What are Choi Han and Choi Jung Soo doing?”
“Choi Han is training and Choi Jung Soo-nim is in a room with Sui Khan. The two of them have not come out for a while.”
“Have you seen Choi Han’s Sky Sword?”
Cale looked at Ron. Ron was quietly thinking and did not respond to that question immediately. They then made eye contact and Ron started speaking.
“Although I cannot accurately figure out what this Sky Sword is… The sword that Choi Han was swinging was not a Sword of the Sky.”
Cale waited for Ron to continue.
Ron resumed speaking after a short moment of silence.
“In fact, it looked like a sword that would pierce through the sky.”
He slowly closed his eyes for a moment before opening them back and adding on.
“I thought that if Choi Han manages to complete this sword art, his black yong might rip the sky apart. However-”
“He seems to be stuck these days as he is not swinging his sword and is spending a lot of time reading the martial arts text and thinking about it.”
Cale thought for a moment before asking Ron another question.
“Ron, what do you think is the best way to go about things?”
“I feel the same way as you, young master-nim.”
The corners of Cale’s lips curled up.
Ron was the person he spent the most time with since transmigrating into Cale Henituse. That was why this guy understood what he was getting at without Cale having to say it.
Or maybe their way of doing things was getting similar.
“Let’s see, I’m supposed to see the future leader candidates tomorrow afternoon. Then dinner time tomorrow should be good.”
Ron immediately responded to Cale.
“Then I guess I will reserve the nearby training ground for tomorrow at dinner time and call Choi Han and Choi Jung Soo-nim there.”
“That’s right. That sounds perfect.”
Cale subconsciously smiled before flinching after seeing Ron pick up the tea kettle.
Ron filled the teacup with a benign smile on his face.
The smile disappeared from Cale’s face. He didn’t know what tea Ron had brought this time but it was even more bitter than lemon tea.
“Young master-nim, this is supposedly good for your health.”
Cale had no choice but to drink the whole cup.
* * *
The next day… The sun was shining down extremely hot, as if to let them feel that the days were getting hotter. Cale, Chief Eunuch Wi, and an invisible Raon followed behind the Left Guard.
He nonchalantly asked while looking at the Left Guard’s back.
“I haven’t been sought out for a while. Is everything okay?”
Although there were not many descriptive words in there, the Left Guard immediately understood.
– Yes, young master-nim. Our liege has not had any issues until this morning. The other Heavenly Demon has not come out either.
“That’s great. He’s still doing fine, right?”
– Yes, Young master-nim. He is doing very well.
The Left Guard did not say anything for a bit, as if he was hesitating, before adding on.
– There has never been an incident in areas with a lot of people, so you shouldn’t have to worry, Young master-nim.
Cale nodded his head.
Based on what the Sage Demon had told him before, the Heavenly Demon had never been caught by others when his other self appeared.
Some of it had to do with his great control over it, but it was also thanks to the three Guards and the Sage Demon responding efficiently at controlling situations.
That was why the Sage Demon said that this gathering shouldn’t be much of an issue either.
‘I’m sure. It’s just a simple meet and greet.”
The Sage Demon, who prepared as informal an event as possible, set up a meeting with small refreshments with the leaders of the Eight Pavilions and Eight Battalions and the four candidates.
The reasoning for it was to greet and show respect to young master Kim, a member of the Imperial family.
‘You can come in later, young master-nim.’
Cale would be the last to enter once everybody was already inside.
Then the Sage Demon would step up to introduce him, the Heavenly Demon and Cale would say a few things and then he would greet and chat with the leaders and the candidates. That was how Cale understood it.
– Human, this is so cool!
As Raon mentioned, a well-groomed garden appeared in front of Cale.
The Right Guard was standing in front of this garden that was naturally beautiful without going excessive.
‘Welcome, young master-nim.”
And next to him…
Durst was standing there with a hand on a tree taking deep breaths.
Cale was starting to feel a little pity for this guy who looked like your typical priest.
“There must have been quite a lot of them?”
Durst slowly raised his hand at Cale’s question.
He then opened up two fingers.
Cale then heard the Right Guard’s sound transmission.
– We discovered two living jiangshis aside from the Heavenly Demon-nim. There was one in the Eight Pavilions and one in the Eight Battalions.
Cale sounded as if this was unexpected.
– Thankfully, none of the candidates were living jiangshis.
‘Seriously? This is unexpected.
I thought the Blood Cult would have definitely planted one among the candidates.
The number is less than I expected as well.’
Of course, there may be more living jiangshis among the people out on tasks.
‘The Demon Cult’s living jiangshis are definitely different from the ones in the Orthodox faction.’
Most of the Orthodox faction’s living jiangshis were future core figures.
They were all young other than the Kunlun Sect’s future sect leader.
However, the Demon Cult’s living jiangshis were among the current generation’s core figures.
That allowed Cale to have an idea about the Blood Cult’s plans.
‘The Blood Cult has chosen the Demon Cult as the starting point of the Great War of the Triumvirate.’
This would be why the living jiangshis are within the Demon Cult’s current top executives.
‘And the reason they don’t have any living jiangshis in the future core figures of the Demon Cult-’
He thought that they might have seen the future Demon Cult as something they don’t need.
The Demon Cult would either get so weak that they would not need to worry about them or maybe they would disappear completely.
The Great War of the Triumvirate.
If the war really did happen and it became quite serious, the government would get involved.
If the Blue Bloods were not trying to completely destroy this Central Plains world, they would try to settle things at some point, and a sacrificial pawn may be necessary.
‘They seem to have chosen the Demon Cult as the sacrifice.’
The Demon Cult was fitting as they would be the ones to start the Great War of the Triumvirate.
‘It looks like I’m not the only one who has figured that out.’
The Right Guard was smiling but his face was full of concern.
‘I’m sure this report was delivered to the Sage Demon and Heavenly Demon as well.’
Cale thought that the Sage Demon would have an even better understanding of all of this than himself.
‘I’ll need to go and hear from him.’
Cale heard the name of the two living jiangshis through the Right Guard’s sound transmission as he walked into the garden.
There was a large pond at the center of the garden.
Next to the stylish pond surrounded by willow trees was a pavilion that was open on all sides like a gazebo.
He could see the people sitting there.
‘There are about twenty people.’
Not everybody was seated at the same level.
The Heavenly Demon was seated at the highest level, the candidates at one level lower, and the rest of them on the lowest level.
‘I wonder where my seat is.’
Cale leisurely walked and tried to peek at the four candidates.
He then saw it.
Some people stood up after noticing him.
They were getting ready to show their respects.
The Heavenly Demon was standing stiffly next to them.
He walked down the levels with a gruff look on his face and approached Cale.
Cale still walked leisurely.
‘There are two women and two men.’
The candidates seemed to be in their late teens or early to mid-twenties.
‘I’ll just say some good things later.’
Cale confirmed that thought when he heard Raon’s voice.
– Human, those refreshments look delicious! Don’t forget to pack some for me!
Cale was nonchalantly nodding his head when he flinched.
– Huh? Human!
Raon called out to him.
The cheapskate urgently shouted.
Cale could see the Heavenly Demon staggering.
‘I thought they said that he never showed any signs in front of his subordinates!
Why is he staggering like that right now?!’
A shocked Sage Demon tried to support him but the Heavenly Demon stopped him.
He tried to stand up straight.
However, the Sage Demon said something and grabbed the Heavenly Demon.
The Heavenly Demon rejected his help again.
It could not be helped.
– Human! It’s dead mana!
Black smoke was coming out of the Heavenly Demon’s mouth.
It was slowly getting thicker.
Black smoke was slowly becoming visible in his ears as well.
‘Oh, come on! I thought they said I just need to drink some tea and evaluate people! Fuck!’
Cale held back the swearing and a whirlwind gathered at his ankles.
It was Raon’s magic.
Cale quickly headed toward the pavilion and entered.
Cale walked past the shocked people, the Sage Demon shouting out his name, and headed toward the Heavenly Demon.
However, his condition seemed weird.
He seemed a bit different from the Heavenly Demon he knew.
The moment he realized that…
– Young master-nim, the other Heavenly Demon seems to be trying to wake up!
He heard the Sage Demon’s urgent sound transmission.
– Something like this has never happened before! Why is this happening all of a sudden, especially to the point that he is releasing black smoke-?!
Cale heard Raon’s voice as the Sage Demon was unable to hide his anxiety.
– Human! I just heard another sound transmission and I think I need to tell you!
The bright voice continued.
– Two people just said the following!
Cale stopped moving after hearing the comments.
– The top side has allowed us to change our plans. Let us show them that the Heavenly Demon is crazy. All things for the glory of the Blood Cult.
– Thank you very much. It is quite difficult to control the living jiangshis of the Demon Cult. All glory to the glorious Blood Demon.
‘Would you look at that? The living jiangshis are not the problem. It is that there are spies from the Blood Cult here right now?’
Cale’s eyes clouded over.
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