Return of Mount Hua Sect (Novel) Chapter 1663

Chapter 1663 - Wherever That Place May Be (3)

"…"

The contrast was striking.

A massive mountain was ablaze, spewing black smoke and an intense heat that seemed capable of melting the world. However, the two eyes observing this scene were as cold as if they were contemplating the snow-covered fields of the North Sea. In fact, the more the vast mountain range burned, the colder those eyes became.

"We're out of oil in the center!"

"Refill it immediately! Why are the men who went to requisition oil from the village taking so long?"

"There's a large village nearby…"

"Move instead of making excuses! Now!"

The noise and urgent shouts behind him continued relentlessly, but the man standing like a statue did not move.

"The West is taking heavy losses!"

"Push the remnants of Su Lo Chae towards that area!"

"They're heading for the center!"

"Then redirect them! Raise the signal flag and send a messenger! Quickly!"

"Yes!"

Simply setting fires and deploying troops would achieve nothing. The key was to maintain the line of those blazing flames and systematically push the enemies upward, leaving them no room to escape. But anyone could see that this was not easy at all.

The mountain terrain was very uneven, and the flames, driven even by the slightest change in wind direction, were unpredictable entities. How many people in the world could control a raging fire considering all these variables?

One of those few, Ho Gakmyung, opened his mouth dispassionately.

"The southeast is lagging."

"Yes, Commander!"

"Go on…"

"Yes."

A low, firm voice flowed from his lips.

"Cut off some limbs as an example and throw them alive into the flames. Tell them that if there's any more delay, everyone there will face the same fate."

"…"

"Understood?"

"Yes, Commander!"

"Go."

"Yes!"

Those who had been waiting sprang into action like lightning. Their movements were not just hurried but bordered on panic, clearly driven by the fear that they themselves might be thrown into the fire if they hesitated even for a moment. However, Ho Gakmyung paid no attention to the reaction to his orders, keeping his gaze fixed on the burning mountain.

He felt it.

He knew that the heat could not reach where he stood, but merely watching the roaring flames flushed his face and quickened his heartbeat.

That's why Ho Gakmyung restrained himself with greater calm.

Courage and passion are necessary to start something. But to complete it, cold rationality is essential.

Ho Gakmyung adhered to this principle, striving not to miss a single movement in the unfolding situation.

"Fire attack…"

A voice reached Ho Gakmyung's ears. Unlike his own heavy and dull tone, this voice was twisted and brimming with barely concealed emotion.

"An old tactic."

"Old tactics are classics."

"Hm?"

Ho Gakmyung responded without turning around.

"And classics are validated through countless trials."

It could be considered rude behavior, but he couldn't take his eyes off the action on the mountain. Fortunately, the person speaking to him did not care about such trivial rudeness.

"Even strategists sometimes forget that fact."

"Hmm…"

Hearing Ho Gakmyung's words, Jang Ilso let out a faint hum.

"You mean it's effective, right?"

"When it comes to burning, there's no difference between warriors and civilians. There may be a few in Wudang capable of withstanding the flames, but they will be very few."

"Certainly."

Ho Gakmyung's eyes became even sharper.

"The reason why warriors don't particularly fear fire is simple. They can move faster than the flames spread."

"Hmm."

"But what if they can't?"

"…"

Ho Gakmyung spoke with confidence in his voice.

"They will be like ordinary soldiers surrounded by flames. From then on, it will be easy."

Jang Ilso chuckled.

"Isn't it difficult to hold them by the ankle?"

"If you don't choose a method that minimizes sacrifices, you will have no choice but to accept them."

At that moment, Ho Gakmyung turned to Jang Ilso.

"Or… do you want to reduce sacrifices?"

"Tsk tsk. Such a bad temper."

"Sorry."

Jang Ilso couldn't help but smile as he saw Ho Gakmyung bow his head.

Rules are terrifying. Jang Ilso tended to agree with that.

He preferred creating variables beyond people's expectations to using obvious tactics. But for that reason, he knew very well how terrifying direct methods could be.

The swordsmen of the Wudang Sect must be painfully realizing that right now.

Of course, those rabble would also burn to death in the process, but that didn't matter.

Trading those guys for the Wudang swordsmen is a profitable deal.

"But if they retreat, wouldn't it be useless to simply set the fire? That wouldn't be fun."

"They can never retreat. Especially now."

"Hmm?"

Jang Ilso let out a short, amused sound.

"Why?"

"Because they are chained."

"Chained?"

"Yes."

Ho Gakmyung's eyes turned to the top of Mount Wudang.

The towering Cheonjubong is where the halls of Wudang are located.

"They may think that those who attack them without regard are tying their feet, but in reality, what chains them is their 'resolution,' of which they are so proud."

"Resolution…"

"The reason why they can't retreat is that they have already decided to fight for their lives. Words, once spoken, cannot be withdrawn. It's difficult for them to slip away now that the situation has become tough."

It was laughable.

What would Ho Gakmyung or Jang Ilso do if they were in that situation?

'We would retreat without a moment's hesitation.'

There's no need to do what the enemy wants. There's even less need for unnecessary sacrifices. Almost simultaneously, they would confirm the blazing flames with their own eyes and move their bodies away.

But they can't do that.

This difference—yes, this difference—divides righteousness and evil. For the Evil Faction, notions like honor and face, which mean less than dung, become heavy shackles for those on the righteous path.

If he had realized this difference and crafted his strategy accordingly, the Evil Tyrant Alliance would have been even more prosperous than it is now. So far, they had only faced other evil sects, so they hadn't fully understood this difference.

"Ha ha ha."

At that moment, Jang Ilso laughed softly.

"Oh my, oh my. If things go this way, I have to thank someone I really don't like."

"…"

It was a painful truth.

Both Ho Gakmyung and Jang Ilso knew it. Ho Gakmyung was able to predict his response.

All thanks to one person.

The obsession with principles and rules. Ho Gakmyung learned painfully how severe the consequences are when you don't understand the "righteousness" disguised as practicality, all thanks to one person.

Trying to understand someone who entered the realm of the unfathomable allowed him to approximately predict their choices.

"The price paid for the lesson was worth it."

"I think so too."

Briefly recalling the person made Ho Gakmyung's eyes blaze, but they soon calmed down.

"Good."

The jewels on Jang Ilso's wrist tinkled with a clear sound.

"But, Gakmyung, they won't stand idly by, will they?"

"Of course not."

Ho Gakmyung's gaze turned to a place.

The middle of the road leading to Cheonjubong. The long, white cliff.

The flames burn everything in their path, but when there's nothing left to burn, they can't advance further. Anyone with a bit of common sense would occupy that cliff and try to resist the advance of the flames.

"But that's what we wanted."

"That's what you wanted?"

At that moment, Ho Gakmyung's lips twisted slightly, resembling Jang Ilso's smile.

"Why wouldn't we be happy that those we have to kill gather in one place?"

Ho Gakmyung clenched and unclenched his fist slightly. The opponent is Wudang. In the past, Wudang would have been formidable, but for the current Ho Gakmyung, they are simply Wudang. Not only have they tempered themselves through the fierce battles that shook the world, but Jang Ilso and I are different from the past. What was difficult for him before the Yangtze River conflict is now very easy for him.

They have fired hard, but the main force of the Evil Tyrant Alliance they brought has yet to be deployed on the battlefield. If a suitable stage is prepared and they are put into action, trampling Wudang would be easier than twisting a child's wrist. The only variable could be…

"But…"

"I know."

Before Ho Gakmyung could finish speaking, Jang Ilso nodded.

"They are already coming, right?"

"Yes."

"What do you think? Where do you think they are now?"

Ho Gakmyung swallowed dryly. Although he mocked Wudang, talking about them still made him nervous. Especially talking about them when "he" is included.

If this were Jiangnan, he would know their movements as if they were in his hands, but this is Jiangbei. His information network does not operate here. Fighting in enemy territory is dangerous because of this.

Without information, all that remains is prediction and principle.

"They haven't approached closely enough yet."

"Is that so?"

Jang Ilso smiled knowingly. In the past, Ho Gakmyung would not have understood, but now he knows the meaning of that smile. And he already has an answer prepared.

"Yes. If they are thinking, they would consider this situation a trap."

"Wudang could be the bait?"

"So, naturally, they would proceed cautiously, fearing an ambush. If they rush and are ambushed, it would be worse than not having come to help at all."

"Hmm. Right, they should do that."

It was an extremely reasonable prediction. No one could argue against it.

"So it's likely that…"

At that moment, Ho Gakmyung's gaze turned westward. His eyes sharpened more than ever.

"They are already almost upon us."

"…Hmm?"

Ho Gakmyung's eyes shone with a chilling light.

"If it is the Plum Blossom Sword Demon, I know he will never move as I predict."

Resentment and admiration. Envy and fear.

All these emotions swirled in his eyes as he looked westward, towards the invisible sword now flying towards their necks.

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