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For the Downfall of My Beloved

13

Chapter 13

1

Hero.

A brave person with exceptional wisdom and talent who accomplishes tasks that are difficult for ordinary people.

If this word were personified, it would undoubtedly be Doa.

The hero of the White Flower Kingdom was a person who knew precisely what the power of goodness was. She used her wisdom to share her talents. She firmly believed there was nothing more noble and precious than life itself.

That was Doa.

Gion looked at Doa, who stood just like a hundred years ago.

Standing among humans turned into demons, Doa seemed to deny her existence from a century ago.

“Why did you turn humans into demons?”

What could be the reason?

Doa expressed, “Humans possess beauty in their imperfections. Despite their flaws, they persistently pursue the goodness that resides within their hearts.”

Furthermore, Doa remarked, “Although it can be bothersome, it is impossible to hate them. Instead, I wish for their lives to be filled with prosperity. I am grateful for the opportunity to assist such individuals.”

Surprisingly, Doa transformed humans into demons.

“People often perceive kind and gentle individuals as weak and foolish, but I disagree. In reality, they possess strength and resilience. I aspire to be like them.”

Doa held unwavering beliefs and remained steadfast.

“The opinions and criticisms of mere humans hold no significance. It is of no consequence if they proudly present their own answers.”

Perhaps this is why Doha made this statement.

“I hope to maintain this belief, even if everything else in the world changes.”

The differences between now and a hundred years ago were stark and cruel. In the past, Doa always exuded a pleasant herbal scent, but now a dark energy flickered around her. Instead of being surrounded by grateful, injured people, Doa was now surrounded by demons.

Nor did Doa answer Gion’s question. She just took one step after another toward him. “There is something you must take.”

A vivid shadow wrapped around Doa’s hand, and a wooden box appeared.

“It’s a sword that can only be held by the one with the White Qi. The princess told me to make sure you take it. I came to deliver that message.”

Gion didn’t even look at the long wooden box and asked, “Is that all? Don’t you have more to say?”

Doa handed the wooden box to Gion. “Do we have more to talk about?”

With that, they ended their conversation, and after a hundred years, it was decided.

Gion took the wooden box. “Alright. I understand.”

***

Only those who possess the White Qi can wield the Chunhwa Sword, which Gion currently held.

In sympathy with Gion’s White Qi, the sword’s color intensified, becoming even more vibrant. Emitting a gentle hum, the Chunhwa Sword started to radiate a bright light. Gion gracefully swung the blade through the air. Even with a slight motion, the wind whistled, and dust swirled around.

It was rightfully called the second most potent sword after the White Dragon Sword—a tool that could harness the power of the spirit of spring and the White Qi together.

When Gion found it difficult to control the White Qi fully, he realized that the Chunhwa Sword was essential for him. “Is it possible?” he wondered.

The spirits of spring responded to the White Qi, but Gion couldn’t adequately harness it. He wondered if the sword would accept him. Determined, Gion attempted to let the White Qi seep in slowly. However, he heard a whirring sound. It seemed that the Chunhwa Sword was rejecting his White Qi, making the blade even stronger. Gion silently observed the sword, realizing that there was someone here who hadn’t changed in a hundred years. Only those needed or liked by the spirits of spring were able to see them, as they had a prickly nature. Despite this, Gion refused to give up.

This time, the sound was soft and soothing, reminiscent of the gentle pitter-patter of afternoon rain or the soft rustling of grass. As the blade glimmered, it seemed to mimic the graceful dance of fireflies in the night sky.

The spirits of spring seemed to possess an uncanny awareness of his current predicament. They knew Gion needed their assistance now more than ever.

Those arrogant beings would probably mockingly suggest, “Summon us with a touch more desperation. Perhaps then we’ll grant your wish.” But did Gion really have to lower himself to bow before them? He simply didn’t have the luxury of time to indulge their whims.

Furthermore, their mischievous behavior hinted that Gion was on the brink of obtaining what he desired. With renewed determination, he began channeling the White Qi into the sword.

As if startled, the Chunhwa Sword began to vibrate. Gion closed his eyes and focused even more, collecting the White Qi into his fingertips and allowing it to flow. He gathered as much as he could, even the scattered bits, causing his veins to bulge. He could feel the floating and resonating pieces of light.

Provoking the spirits of spring with just one piece of light might be futile, but wasn’t it better than not trying at all?

Even with his eyes closed, it felt like a flash of light passed before his eyes. The light seeped into Gion’s body, expanding and causing the Chunhwa Sword to shine even brighter.

Gion continued forcefully feeding the White Qi into the sword, clenching his fists tightly.

In a moment, the wind suddenly changed into a mighty whirlwind. It was so strong that Gion’s sweat dried instantly. The intense fragrance of flowers filled the air, enough to make one’s head spin.

Gion braced himself, planting both legs firmly on the ground.

A young girl appeared, swirling around the sword. “Hey! You… are… such a… fool…”

Gion had exerted so much strength that he experienced tinnitus, making hearing the spirit’s words difficult. The words came intermittently as if they were being edited out.

Gion barely focused his eyes and looked at the spirit. “What?”

Even though there was only one piece of light...

If it’s such a young child, it must be a lower-ranking spirit.

This posed a challenge in harnessing the full potential of the Chunhwa Sword.

“Why are you gazing at me?”

The voice had a familiar tone.

“Hwaran…?”

It was the Spring Spirit King, Hwaran, who had materialized before Gion, taking the form of a young girl.

***

“In the short time I was away, an unwelcome guest has come.”

The Demon King entered the White Hall, his black robe fluttering. “It seems I never allowed that man to stay in the White Dragon Castle.”

As if lying down in his own bedroom, he lounged on the throne and looked at Rohwa. “Am I wrong?”

The Demon King didn’t ask questions out of curiosity but rather to demand acknowledgment of one’s mistake. He believed that his existence was the only correct answer and that this perception was a natural principle. In other words, if he asked a question, he understood the other person had made a mistake and needed to acknowledge it.

“Even if that man stayed in White Dragon Castle, would there be no cause for concern?”

Rohwa stood up and faced the Demon King. “I called him to White Dragon Castle because of the promise to give a fragment of light.”

Rohwa stepped on Gion’s sword marks and stared at the Demon King. “It seems our promise is being duly honored… Is there a problem?”

Straight posture. Eyes were burning red—a dignified presence with no sign of faltering. Seeing Rohwa like this, the Demon King merely smirked.

“No. It’s not a problem. It’s just unpleasant that a stray dog has entered my front yard. Let this be the last day he stays in my house. I have more than enough pets.”

Rohwa chuckled. “If you thought he was a stray dog, he would have been dead already…”

There was no need to finish her sentence; the Demon King would have understood well enough—no point in dragging out words and getting a sore throat.

The Demon King blinked momentarily and then, with a cold smile, watched Rohwa’s retreating figure. “Speaking of which, I heard the king of White Flower Kingdom has a tradition of opening the storehouse once a year to help those in need.”

Rohwa suddenly stopped, causing the Demon King to notice her leaving. With a deliberate pace, he descended the stairs.

“According to what I heard, they also shared the food stored in the granary with the stray dogs.”

Only then did Rohwa turn around to face the Demon King. “You…”

The Demon King was standing right before her, looking down at her. “Returning alive after a hundred years must be tough. I feel a pang of guilt for not paying more attention to you.”

The Demon King already flashed a sinister smile. There was no point in asking what he intended to do. He had determined to create a crisis in his own awful way. And an ominous premonition was always correct.

“Let’s open the granary.”

The Demon King walked past Rohwa, who stood still. Suddenly, he took a step towards her. “Shouldn’t that man also see a familiar face after such a long time?”

***

“Hwaran?”

With a mocking tone, Hwaran glanced at Gion. “Do you so casually address a king’s title? Do you think I’ll tolerate it like Rohwa? You are utterly despicable.”

Gion looked down at Hwaran as he walked through White Dragon Castle. It was awkward. The last time Gion saw Hwaran before his revival, she looked more mature than Rohwa.

She looks even younger than Junghyun.

She looked no more than a 10-year-old child.

Hwaran turned her head away and said, “Among those who carry the White Qi, you’re the first to call me so late.”

At that, Gion’s eyebrows twitched. “How did you know I’ve had the White Qi for so long?”

“Huh?”

“If you were sealed inside the sword, there would be no way for you to know about the outside world.”

A man, screaming grotesquely, rushed towards Gion. Gion swiftly dodged the man and positioned the blade of the Chunhwa Sword.

“Gion?”

But Gion did not swing the sword. He just stood still, observing the man captured by the dark energy. The man, crumpled on the ground, drew a sword from its sheath and charged at Gion again.

As Gion sheathed the Chunhwa Sword, Hwaran shouted, “What are you doing?”

Hwaran’s voice, residing in the sword, echoed loudly in Gion’s head. But for Gion, that wasn’t what mattered now.

After dodging several more attacks, Gion finally spoke. “Bomun, I always told you.”

Gion grabbed Bomun’s blade with his bare hands and pulled. “If you swing your sword with your chest so open, it creates a vulnerability in your dantian.”

Gion remained motionless, saying, “It’s been a hundred years, and you still haven’t learned.”

He stood dignified, letting go of the sword. He then said to Bomun, “Swing again.”

Bomun lunged at Gion.

“Didn’t I tell you that swinging your elbow like that exposes your shoulder?”

Gion grabbed the hand gripping the sword’s hilt and said, “Do it again.”

“Come to your senses, Gion!”

A light green glow flickered, and a gentle wind separated Bomun and Gion.

“This isn’t like you! This isn’t the time for this!”

A fierce wind pushed at Gion’s back.

“Look behind you, please!”

They say hell is not a place but a situation. That was the moment he truly understood the meaning of those words.

The scene unfolded with corpses, devoid of rationale and emitting eerie sounds, rushing forth. Their once-intact bodies now lay in tatters, shells of their former selves, as they surged forward like an overwhelming wave. The ominous presence of dark energy caused a disorienting sway in the surroundings. Amidst the chaos, the cacophony of beating hearts mingled with the voice of Hwaran. A sharp, piercing pain accompanied by incessant ringing flooded Gion’s senses.

Yet amidst the turmoil, a poignant question surfaced: “Is this the sole treatment the White Flower Kingdom offers?”

These individuals, resembling crumpled paper with dried blood, were all familiar faces to Gion. How could he fail to recognize them? They were his companions during the five years spent in Biryu and the subsequent year in Snow Valley. These people yearned to reclaim their everyday lives, comrades who braved perilous situations together.

Gion tilted his head back with a heavy sigh, acknowledging a lingering regret. “It seems there was something I failed to do before I left.”

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