Rebirth of The Heavenly Demon (Taegyu) prologue
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Note this is a Korean novel, not Chinese, therefore the Chinese names are not common in Korean and are left in parentheses to show that they are Korean concepts. This will usually only be put once when the phrase/name in introduced.
Was there anyone ignorant enough to not know of the name Zhang Hu (長吼)?
He was the third person in the world who had managed to take up the title of the Heavenly Demon (天魔) after the creation of the Martial Realm (武林).
In just eight years after his appearance in the Martial Realm, he crushed the mighty Demon Alliance (集魔盟) by his lonesome, announcing to the world the appearance of a new ruler of the realm.
But his legend ended there.
The day he took down the Demon Alliance, the moment he took up his glass of wine in order to celebrate its destruction, he was attacked by 3000 experts, both from the so-called "Right" and "Evil" side. Though he fought with viciousness that was truly fitting of the strongest martial artist, he ended up running away with tears of blood streaming down his face.
The entire situation might've been different had his five subordinates, the five Demon Phantoms, hadn't betrayed him. Had his glass of wine not been poisoned with a hundred and forty eight different kinds of toxins, everything would have changed.
No, if the Three Great Heavens, the experts that were hailed to be the strongest before him, hadn't come out of their seclusion just to fight him, perhaps he could've survived to reign as the sovereign ruler in the Martial Realm.
But alas, the heavens were not kind to him on this day.
Zhang Hu was chased all the way to the Lianhua peak (莲花峰) of Huangshan (黃山) in the end.
He had nowhere left to go, nor did he have the strength to go anywhere else either.
They say it rained quite a bit that day.
The sky was wailing!
But for who? Who was it letting out its sorrows for?
Was it because of the man who was standing at the Lianhua peak, threatening to split the mountain in half?
The man's body was dotted with tens of various swords, knives, and spears.
It was almost strange to see that he was still standing.
But anyone in the world would nod in understanding if they heard the man's name.
Heavenly Demon Zhang Hu!
The strongest man in the Martial Realm, and perhaps even an expert who could stand as one of the five greatest experts in history!
It was said that he had just turned seventy three that year, and yet he looked not a day older than twenty.
All thanks to the fact that his martial accomplishments and skill allowed his body to undergo rejuvenation.
This was also proof that he had surpassed the stage of the Peak Demon Stage (極魔). The stage that was said to be the highest a person could reach with a demonic technique. Zhang Hu had become a Transcendent Demon (脫魔), something that only two before him had ever managed to become.
Three old men were standing in a triangular formation around Zhang Hu.
They were the Three Great Heavens, the experts who had come out of seclusion in order to defeat him.
Behind the Three Great Heavens were five people dressed in black, who were hidden in the shadows with expectant eyes.
They were the Five Demon Phantoms, the subordinates and brothers of Zhang Hu, and coincidentally also the ones who had betrayed him.
The Five Demon Phantoms and the Three Great Heavens quietly observed the man.
The Heavenly Demon stumbled almost drunkenly, as if it was hard to even stand. But his two eyes emitted a light that made him resemble a starving tiger, constantly looking for a chance to strike.
The Mad Monk (狅佛) of the Three Great Heavens spoke in astonishment.
“Amazing! You truly are worthy of the name Heavenly Demon.”
The Heavenly Demon smiled.
“And you are not worthy of your title of the Three Great Heavens. How are you even referring to yourselves as the heavens itself, when you are attacking me with such shameful methods?”
The Scholar (儒公) nodded with a bitter face after hearing this.
“You are correct. We won't try to deny it.”
The Drunk Immortal (醉仙) of the Three Great Heavens took a sip from a gourd in his hand, and held it out to Zhang Hu.
Zhang Hu laughed.
“I'm sick of drinking, especially after drinking all the poisoned wine I could ever have wanted.”
Having said this, Zhang Hu glared at the Five Demon Phantoms. They stood unflinchingly under his gaze.
The Drunk Immortal stepped forward after putting the gourd on his waist.
“In that case, let's end this. Dragging on such a depressing event would make this harder for everyone.”
The Mad Monk nodded, and pulled up his sleeves.
“Yes, let's. Just who would go to hell for this, if I do not?”
The Scholar let out an uncomfortable sigh, and took out a fan.
When the three experts began circulating their qi, the rain around them began to float upwards, back to the clouds.
The Heavenly Demon glared at the Three Great Heavens and clenched his teeth.
The centre of Zhang Hu's forehead split, emitting a red light. Materialized qi started to take shape in the form of six arms behind him from his shoulders.
This was an effect that came from practicing the Asura's Heaven-Destroying Technique (阿修羅破天魔功), which was the very thing that gave Zhang Hu the title of “Heavenly Demon”.
This caused the civilians to stop perceiving the Heavenly Demon as a human being, but a calamity with three eyes and six arms.
But due to his injury, the Demon Eye of Shura (修羅魔眼) did not take on its proper shape. The legendary Six Heaven-Destroying Arms (破天六臂膀) that Zhang Hu possessed became a blurry projection.
Even so, the Three Great Heavens were unable to approach him.
After what seemed like an eternity, the Mad Buddha made his first move.
He was using the Hundred Steps Godly Fist (百步神拳), the strongest technique recorded in the Shaolin Temple's Hundred and Eight Techniques (百八節藝).
At the same time, the Drunk Immortal traced a circle in the air with his hands.
Reverse Yin-Yang (反陰陽), First Foundational Change (易一元).
The power of destruction that comes when one breaks the harmony of Yin-Yang, and flips the truth of the Dao!
This was a demonstration of one of the Ten Forbidden Techniques (十段錦) of the Wudang Sect.
The Scholar opened his fan, and spun his body, as if he were dancing. Then, his body soon disappeared, and changed into a frighteningly powerful wind.
This was the 10,000 Li Tornado (旋風萬里行), the technique that allowed the Scholar to climb to the top of the Martial Realm despite having been a mere scholar at the Hanlin Academy.
The falling rain exploded outwards, and the Lianhua Peak shook violently.
When the sound faded, the rain quickly dispatched the cloud of dust formed from the Scholar's technique.
At the centre of where the dust cloud had been, was Zhang Hu, who had fallen down on the ground. The Three Great Heavens, who were looking down at him, could also be seen.
The Mad Monk put his hands together in prayer.
The Drunk Immortal grabbed the gourd of alcohol from his waist, and spoke.
"This is the end, right?"
The Scholar nodded.
Zhang Hu opened his eyes.
At that moment, the Three Great Heavens became anxious and fully alert. But once they realized that Zhang Hu was quickly losing consciousness, they calmed down.
Zhang Hu looked at the Three Great Heavens and screamed.
"Hear me. I may die like this today, but know that this is not the end! I shall return one day, and will stand in front of you once again! I will dye the rivers with blood, and create mountains out of corpses! The living will envy the dead, and the dead will curse the living. Then, and only then, will I truly be called the Heavenly Demon!"
After shouting this, Zhang Hu's breathing stopped completely.
But the Three Great Heavens were unable to move, and just trembled instead.
It was a terrifying curse.
But the dead cannot come back to life.
No, this might not be true.
If it was Zhang Hu, if it was this demon, it could be possible that he would come back to life. This fear lingered in their mind like a ghost.
The Five Demon Phantoms finally approached the three men around then.
"You have worked hard."
The Three Great Heavens frowned at the five.
The first of the Five Demon Phantoms, the Apocalyptic Phantom (壞劫魔靈) stepped up to them.
"We will take care of the corpse."
He then took out his sword.
"How will you take care of it?"
When the Scholar asked this, the Apocalyptic Phantom smiled a chilling smile.
"Feed him to the dogs, obviously."
The Mad Monk turned red in rage.
"Must you do this?"
The Apocalyptic Phantom nonchalantly responded back.
"That's the only way we can stay calm. What if he really does come back? Haha, it's better to really be sure the man's dead. Would you like to watch?"
The Drunk Immortal clicked his tongue.
"Let's go. I'd rather drink than stay with these vermin."
The Mad Monk and the Scholar nodded. The three disappeared over into the horizon in a flash.
By the time they were completely out of the phantoms' sight, the five finally began to walk towards Zhang Hu.
It was at that moment Zhang Hu raised his head.
"Are they gone yet?"
The five didn't seem at all surprised about this. The Apocalyptic Phantom casually put his sword back into his sheath.
"Yup, think they're gonna drink."
Zhang Hu opened his eyes.
"They're not coming back to check if I'm dead, are they?"
The second of the phantoms, the Blood Rain Phantom (血雨魔靈), let out a word of complaint.
"Didn't you hear what he told them? We can just dice up some pig and then tell them it's you."
Zhang Hu stood up with an exhausted face.
"Oh lord, those old dudes hit hard. I thought I was gonna die."
The third of the Five Demon Phantoms, the Night Phantom (月夜魔靈), crossed his arms. He seemed incredibly annoyed.
"So why didn't you just pretend to die quietly?! What the hell is up with all of this, seriously!"
Zhang Hu glanced at him before quietly muttering an excuse.
"I mean… I can live quietly, and you can take over pretty easily. It's all good, isn't it?"
The fourth of the Five Demon Phantoms, the Heaven-killing Phantom (天殺魔靈), opened his mouth.
"I never agreed to this."
The fifth, the Cruel Phantom (殘惡魔靈), raised his hand.
"Me neither. Also, what was up with those last words? So cheesy. You almost made me laugh out loud right there."
Zhang Hu grinned.
"I have a reputation to uphold, you know. It doesn't look pretty if I go 'ughhh I'm dying agh' and die like that. I need to make up a fancy curse or something. Otherwise the general masses won't be wowed at all, yeah?"
The Night Phantom shook his head.
"Yeah, nah. In any case, are you really going to live quietly from now? You aren't gonna come back later going just because you're bored?"
"No, you idiot. You're way too suspicious of everything, dear god."
"Big brother, please, rethink this. This is our world. You can change the entire nation according to your will."
"This is all meaningless. You should become a Transcendent Demon as well. You'll understand."
The Night Demon complained out loud.
"Fuckin ay, you think I'm you or something?"
Zhang Hu pretended he didn't hear that. He stood up and started pulling out the various weapons stuck on his body.
"Ho damn, there's a bunch of stuff here. Isn't this that Dragon Roar Sword (龍鳴檢) or something? And this must be that Lightning Spear (霹靂槍), right. It's almost like they were sticking flowers into a pot or something."
Zhang Hu kicked the mass of weapons over to the five with a bored face.
"You want it?"
The Night Phantom snorted.
"Think we're good. Why don't you buy yourself some ice cream with it instead?"
Zhang Hu grinned. The Apocalyptic Demon looked at him concernedly.
"Can't you rethink this?"
Zhang Hu shook his head.
"I'm already seventy-three. I've attained the Shura's Demonic Treasure (修羅魔寶) when I was thirty-eight, while searching for a way to destroy the Demon Alliance. Since then, we have come out into the Martial Realm eight years ago, with me mastering the Asura's Heaven-Destroying Technique, and you five mastering the Five Wheels Demon Technique (五輪魔功). We accomplished our life's mission just ten days ago. And what comes after that? Nothing. This was my entire life. Isn't that just boring? I want to live a fulfilled life with the little amount of time I have left."
The Night Phantom smacked his chest in frustration.
"That's why I'm telling you to conquer the world and live like a king! You can become an actual king if you want to, if you're not satisfied with that!"
"It's fine. I'll be going now."
Zhang Hu waved his hand and walked away.
The Blood Rain Demon and the Night Demon just sighed in frustration and the Cruel Phantom and the Heaven-killing Phantom just looked up at the sky.
It was raining quite hard.
Zhang Hu couldn't restrain his laughter as he descended down the Lianhua Peak.
He finally escaped the wheel of death.
Wrinkles began to appear on his young face. He was expelling his life force, his inner qi, into the surrounding atmosphere.
He didn't need martial arts now.
He was sick of it.
If he were to go back to the past where he first obtained the Shura's Demonic Treasure, he would've thrown it away immediately.
While it was a precious treasure that allowed him to take revenge on the Demonic Alliance, which had taken away the lives of his family, it also made him perform evil acts that were far worse than the actions of the Demonic Alliance itself.
Only when he became a Transcendent Demon was he able to understand what he did, and become regretful.
He had decided to throw away his chains of regret, but he still decided to live the rest of his life like a sinner.
'I'm going to live a proper life.'
He would live like a proper human.
He was thinking of buying a cow and a carriage along the way. If he started farming now, he should be able to harvest food by next year.
He would give out everything he produced, leaving just enough for him to survive.
He would sit in his room, spending the winter watching the snowfall, and farm again when the spring came……..
Just thinking about it made him laugh in glee.
Right then, the rain stopped. The sun began to rear its head from the clouds.
Zhang Hu looked up.
A five-colored light shone towards him. Caressing him.
Telling him that everything was fine now. Telling him that it was his time to leave. Telling him to… become a part of nature itself.
Tears began to roll down Zhang Hu's cheeks.
This wasn't death. It was life. Life itself was coming to invite him to its stead.
'Hahaha, to think I'd experience Ascension (羽化登仙)…'
A rustling sound came from Zhang Hu's body, and his body began to crumble away into sand. Where his body was, were now little particles of light shining in five different colors. With this, he would become truth itself. A being that did not feel happiness, sadness, nor pain.
Moments before the light completely melted him away, however, Zhang Hu's heart became tainted black.
Zhang Hu shouted.
"No, not yet! I haven't lived a fulfilled life yet!"
He raised his hands to the sky beggingly.
"Please, give me a bit more time! Just a little bit more!"
The five-colored light began to fade into a whisper in his ear.
Do you really want this?
You might never get this chance ever again.
Zhang Hu whispered back with a smile.
"I want to live. Like a human being."
Zhang Hu's body crumbled away into a pile of sand. Where his heart used to be was now a red pearl. The five-colored light wrapped itself around the marble and began to move. It passed mountains and gorges, rivers and plains.
It soon stopped on top of a small, plain house. It dropped the red marble inside the house before fading away completely.
The following winter passed. By the time summer came the next year, the couple in the house gave birth to a baby boy.
The couple became delighted, and named the child Zhang Hu. When asked why the couple named the child like this, they responded that the baby whispered the name into their ears.
This earned them ridicule, of course. But the couple looked dead serious saying it.
And sixteen years passed.