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For the Downfall of My Beloved

14

Chapter 14

1

If White Qi represents life, then Black Qi signifies death. Rohwa, who had inherently known both life and death within her, could instinctively sense a disturbance in the force.

A mix of life and death energies filled White Dragon Castle at that moment.

“Could it be that you…” Rohwa said.

The Demon King smirked. He found Rohwa’s curiosity amusing.

Rohwa immediately flung open the doors of White Hall, and a corpse with gouged-out eyes approached her. The staggering corpse’s outstretched hand was about to reach Rohwa’s face. A black wind blew, blowing the corpse down. It hit the ground.

The Demon King casually smiled while gently levitating the black energy. “You should be careful.”

Rohwa was filled with concern as she gazed at the scene unfolding before her eyes. However, there was no hint of shock on her face. Countless corpses, devoid of their own identities, were running wild through White Dragon Castle. The sight of these soulless howling figures left Rohwa momentarily speechless. Cold water drenched her thoughts, sending a chill down her spine.

“Did you have to go this far?”

“Isn’t this the proper level for a welcome ceremony?” The Demon King parried Rohwa’s question with another question. “When a victorious general returns, all the warriors in the fortress would greet him with their swords drawn. I’m merely continuing that tradition. What seems to be the problem?”

The Demon King, appearing intrigued, cast a sly glance at Rohwa. “Our agreement is not being violated. It seems our promise is being properly upheld… Is there any issue?”

Rohwa chuckled bitterly and turned away. “What exactly are you trying to do?”

The rampaging corpses were not your ordinary individuals. These were people who had willingly given up their lives for the honor of the White Flower Kingdom. Gion’s comrades, who had managed to survive Biryu, were subsequently thrown into the treacherous Snow Valley.

Gion would never ignore them. So what now? No matter the conjecture, no conclusion could be drawn. Rohwa could only glare at the Demon King with wide-open, red eyes swirling with black energy.

The Demon King gazed back at Rohwa. Despite abandoning any semblance of refined dignity, her unwavering poise didn’t appear vulgar but rather dignified.

“I didn’t plan to do anything in particular,” she said.

The Demon King crossed his arms, seemingly out of boredom. He sighed. “Well… I guess this is enough.”

Then, the Demon King disappeared into the shadows.

A massive soldier charged at Rohwa. Rohwa firmly gripped the long sword wrapped in black energy. She said to him, “I’m sorry.”

Her sword stroke at him resembled a smooth dance. The thick neck of the soldier was cleanly severed. The strike was so swift that the soldier didn’t have the time to scream.

As the comrade’s head had fallen, the surrounding soldiers’ gazes fixated on Rohwa.

Moonlight settled on the long sword, its blade stained with putrid blood. The black sword was so dark that it shimmered with deep blue hues.

“I’ll make it quick,” she whispered as she swung at the demons.

They screamed violently, their protests fierce and deafening. She swung at the heart through the aorta. The dantian. The mangled brain.

She carefully chose her targets, aiming for areas where life would cease instantly and the pain would be less.

The blade forcefully pierced through flesh.

Rotten blood soaked into her white hair, staining it a gruesome shade. The dirty blood flowed over her hand, leaving her fingers sticky. Calmly slicing through the charging soldiers, blood pooled and flowed beneath Rohwa’s feet.

She gazed at her own reflection in the crimson puddle. Could it be said that the Demon King had insulted these soldiers? She didn’t believe so.

“Would the Snow Valley have been a better place for you to die?” she said to the slaughtered soldiers.

Ultimately, they were in White Dragon Castle in such a state due to Rohwa’s choices. But she couldn’t stop the blade. Even if they seemed alive, frantically lashing out, they were dead. She could only quickly swing the sword to free the soldiers from the boundary between life and death.

Rohwa inhaled deeply, lifted her head, and raised her sword. A streak of light spread through the darkness. Rohwa stepped towards the spreading light.

Out of the light, Gion stood solemnly amidst the chaos. His deep, abyss-like black eyes met hers.

Rohwa said to Gion, “You saw it. You must have seen clearly how I swung the blade and killed our comrades.”

Gion never averted his gaze.

A soldier crawled towards Rohwa. Rohwa exerted all her strength into gripping the long sword and struck. Blood spurted from the back of the soldier on the ground.

A solemn silence flowed amidst the howling corpses.

Rohwa frowned and flicked off the blood sticking to her body with disgust. She sighed, looking at those lost in madness, floating through White Dragon Castle.

Then, Gion approached. His expression showed neither resentment nor blame; he just walked calmly toward her.

But Rohwa’s eyes trembled mercilessly at the sight of him. “What are you doing…”

Before he could see it, a young soldier thrust a knife into Gion’s side. The soldier was without legs, clutching at Gion’s ankle, crying out in agony.

Another soldier, one without arms, bit Gion’s shoulder and tore off his flesh with his fingernails.

Yet, Gion just walked. He didn’t throw a single punch and had the long sword sheathed. He didn’t fling away a single one of the soldiers rushing at him. He merely received their cries of agony.

He approached Rohwa gracefully. “Why go to such lengths?”

Rohwa’s expression clearly contorted. She cut the throat of a soldier targeting her side.

Gion didn’t turn his head even as the back of his neck was stained with blood.

Rohwa’s long sword pierced the heart of a soldier writhing at her feet. “Have you forgotten that these people are dead? They’re merely corpses. Not living beings.”

Yes, they are dead. This was something Gion knew far better. They died before Gion a hundred years ago. How could he not know?

Gion silently agreed with Rohwa’s words.

He stepped into a puddle of pooled blood, and the sensation, devoid of warmth, seeped into his boots.

“Were we unable to treat them any better than this?” He wasn’t angry. It wasn’t a tone of blame. If it were, perhaps it could have been understood, but Gion just questioned faintly. “Didn’t we have the capacity to lay them in graves instead of a slaughterhouse?”

As Rohwa silently stared at Gion, he continued. “You must have brought their bodies from Snow Valley.”

Gion gently pulled out the blade Rohwa had thrust into a soldier’s heart with his bare hands. Red blood dripped down.

“I’ll finish this,” she said.

Rohwa pressed down on the sword that Gion was trying to pull out. The sharp blade vividly conveyed to Rohwa the sensation of Gion’s skin being cut.

“Finish what?” he asked.

Gion’s blood flowed down the sword. However, Gion did not let go of the blade.

Rohwa said, “I’m just trying to do what I couldn’t finish before.” She forcefully pulled out the sword.

The warm blood of Gion mixed with the rotten blood splattered on Rohwa’s cheek. Neither warm nor cold, the tepidness soaked into her skin.

She wiped the blood from her cheek with her collar. “Is there anything you can do? They are already dead.”

Gion quietly walked past Rohwa without looking at the wound in his hand. Without saying a word, he left crimson footprints as he moved forward. The place he was heading towards was Hwayang Palace, also known as Flower-Blossoming Palace, the highest palace within White Dragon Castle. Unlike the White Hall, which required an imperial decree to enter, Hwayang Palace was simply where the royal family resided.

Gion touched the firmly closed doors of the palace. They creaked open. His eyes beheld a breathtaking royal hall, unfurling grandly. A path of delicately embroidered silk embellished with golden threads gleamed with resplendent radiance.

The floor was covered in layers of soft fabric, muffling the sound of his footsteps. Gion felt small inside the vast hall, with a high ceiling that resembled a sky that glowed with the color of white jade. Standing solemnly in the center of the royal hall, Gion wondered why he was here in Hwayang Palace.

Before Rohwa could finish her thought, a strong voice resonated clearly amidst the desperate cries. The aimless, rampaging soldiers turned their heads towards Gion. Rohwa also turned her attention to him.

Under General Gion’s command, all soldiers regained their morale. She wondered why that phrase came to mind, written in the report she received about the battlefield situation: “The noble ones carried the glory of the White Flower Kingdom on their backs.”

It was a night when the moon was hidden behind clouds. Gion stood there, emitting a brilliant light amidst the darkness. “Come to this place immediately,” he commanded.

All the soldiers rushed towards Hwayang Palace as if enchanted.

Gion calmly waited for the charging soldiers.

He stood his ground amidst countless attacks, determined not to abandon even one with a feeling of haste or anxiety. He waited for all the soldiers to enter Hwayang Palace, watching them intently. Gion drew his sword from its sheath as the last soldier stepped in. The blade was imbued with white energy and shone brightly. He gripped it firmly and spoke softly to himself, “You’ve been through a lot.”

He continued to murmur, “I must have contributed to the glory of White Flower Kingdom, right? Of course. If it’s for protecting the country, what wouldn’t we do? Even if it cost our lives, we have no regrets if the White Flower Kingdom remained peaceful. It’s fortunate if a humble one like me could help.”

However, they were already deceased, and there was no presence of life energy in them. They couldn’t be brought back to life or engage in conversation anymore. But their deaths should not end with death. It can’t just end like that. Those who were still alive must bear the death of these heroes. That’s the respect owed to heroes. These noble ones deserve to be laid to rest here.

Gion wielded his sword, imbued with white energy, and the walls of Hwayang Palace dissolved instantly. The sky-high ceiling collapsed, sending clouds of dust up. The royal palace crumbled into dust for the first time since the nation’s foundation.

Rohwa thrust her long sword into the ground to support herself.

A shadow, embracing light amidst the swirling debris, walked out majestically. Even amidst the storm, there was no hint of trembling, but with a brilliance so intense it could blind. Rohwa, with her eyes bloodshot, silently watched the approaching shadow. As the shadow drew nearer, its form became clearer.

Against the backdrop of the collapsed Hwayang Palace, a resolute voice echoed: “We can do at least this much for them, right?” Gion, battered and bruised, faced Rohwa. “I couldn’t think of a more fitting tomb than this.”

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