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    “Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!”

    A piercing scream erupted, as if tearing through my vocal cords. The cold sensation of the steel sword slicing through my neck still lingered vividly. A sense of dread and discomfort settled in my body as my vision floated aimlessly in mid-air, confronting the cold face of death.

    How long had I screamed like this?

    I realized I was howling alone under the dark night sky.

    “What… what is this?”

    I cautiously felt my throat and nape. My head was intact, and the tranquil scent of cow dung wafted through the air. Such a familiar smell led me to cautiously look around.

    Familiar cold. Familiar darkness. Familiar scent of cow dung.

    Yes.

    I was in the barn.

    It seemed as if I had returned to the exact place and time where I had been resurrected.

    “……?!”

    My mouth fell open in disbelief.

    Could this be third third regression?

    It would become clear once the day broke, but it seemed likely. The feeling was too similar. I touched my body with trembling hands and found myself to be that of a young child. Shivering, I knelt in that place, in silence for a long while.

    I now felt intense emotions boiling up within me.

    The fierce ecstasy of being able to start once more.

    The misery of having faced death twice and yet being given another chance to live.

    And a seething desire for revenge and anger that straightened my spine.

    From my mouth flowed a voice laced with hate.

    “Village chief… you’ve broken… our pact…!!”

    I had trusted the village chief, and he betrayed me in my quest for vengeance! After deciding to forget about everything!

    In the end, I was the one who suffered and indeed had died. Now, a violent murderous intent was swirling within me. But I forcefully suppressed my emotions and exhaled heavily. I felt dizzy.

    “Huff… huff… huff…!!”

    As if it had been waiting in my dantian, a surge of internal energy erupted, making me sweat profusely.

    ‘As I thought… my internal energy was transferred!’

    Thunder Dragon Breath Technique!

    A secret technique of Azure Dragon Martial Hall and an exceptional internal energy method. I had melted my existing [Three Talents Heart Method] into [Thunder Dragon Breath Technique] and practiced diligently for three years.

    My current internal energy was incomparable to others of my age. I had even surpassed late-teen martial artists, given that I had regressed to a younger age.

    Age is crucial in martial arts. Especially for internal energy techniques, it’s almost absolute. The younger you are, the easier it is to open your meridians, which allows your internal energy to increase quickly and improves your physical abilities. If I start practicing [Thunder Dragon Breath Technique] diligently from now, crossing the threshold of a top expert in ten years wouldn’t be impossible.

    But now, because of [Thunder Dragon Breath Technique], I almost died. My emotions swung too wildly, causing the internal energy to rove haphazardly, strongly stimulating my meridians. If it continued, I might fall into Qi deviation. Desperately suppressing my emotions, I bit down so hard that blood came out.

    “Huuk… ugh… aaaaaah…!!”

    I let out a beast-like scream and banged my head against the straw pile in the barn. I then thrust my fist into the stone wall of the barn.

    Crash!!

    Normally, a child’s frail hand should be bloodied when striking a stone wall. However, instead, a fist-shaped scar was engraved on the stone wall. It proved that my internal energy and martial prowess had deepened.

    Silence enveloped me for a long while.

    Finally, managing to control my internal energy and emotions, I heaved a big sigh of relief.

    “Hu… I survived.”

    If I had gotten caught up in the heat of the moment here, it would’ve been worse than death. Not only would I have had to live like a cripple, but I would’ve also been unable to cultivate my inner strength ever again.

    Once I calmed my emotions, my mind cleared up. I thought to myself as I carelessly wiped the blood flowing from my lips with my arm.

    ‘Alright, let’s calm down. This is my third life. If I fail this time, I won’t be able to live a proper life. I need to carefully plan my next steps.’

    Since my inner strength has been transferred, I can take my revenge anytime.

    At the same time, I couldn’t hide the question that came into my mind.

    ‘Why? Why did I regress this time? Is there something similar to last time?’

    I have to think about this carefully.

    What is the principle behind this regression?

    After pondering these questions intensely, I came up with one hypothesis.

    ‘Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries.’

    That’s right.

    The common point between both regressions is – I died holding the ‘Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries’. The first time, it seemed like the effect of Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries was activated just by touching it. The second time, I had it in my possession when I died. I can’t think of any other common factors.

    Thinking like this, my next steps are simple.

    I have to go to the cave to acquire Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries as soon as possible, and carry it with me. This is a mandatory obligation that must be fulfilled first, no matter what amazing opportunities arise.

    However, there was one thing bothering me.

    I couldn’t solve it and my face cringed.

    ‘… Why does the point of regression have to be today? Why?’

    I don’t understand. Even if I can regress using Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries, why do I have to come back to the time when I was called ‘Cow Dung’, cleaning up cow dung at the village chief’s house? Even if I regressed back to when I was in my 20s or 30s as a bandit, I would have been able to handle things much more easily. Waiting for years in this undeveloped child’s body is unbearable.

    And then, I realized that in order to solve this question, I have to somehow decipher the ‘strange words’ written in Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries. There must be some ‘content’ written in it that I can’t read, and if I can interpret that content, I can learn more about Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries.

    After sorting out these thoughts, my mind felt clear. At the same time, I realized what I need to do first.

    ‘Alright, let’s leave the village.’

    There’s no need to flatter the village chief to get travel money to go to Azure Dragon Martial Hall. I’ve already acquired top-tier inner strength, so I can easily withstand cold, heat, and hunger, and I have enough self-defense skills. What I need to do right now is head to the cave as quickly as possible.

    As I was preparing to leave, collecting useful ropes and hammers from the shed, someone blocked my path with an annoyed expression.

    “What on Earth… making such noise in the middle of the night? Cow Dung.”

    “Geum Man-jae.”

    “You brat… Why don’t you call me ‘young master?”

    The guy throwing a fit was Geum Man-jae, the village chief’s son. A complete waste of human life, not even worth killing. But for now, he was an obstacle to my plan to leave the village, so I spoke calmly.

    “I’m not in a good mood right now. So, you better step aside.”

    “What? You!”

    Geum Man-jae swung his foot towards me. This technique is excellent for overpowering an opponent in a fight among peers. This also indicates that Geum Man-jae has some experience in street fights. But I dodged his attack effortlessly, with a cold smile.

    “Ugh…”

    When Geum Man-jae lost his balance, I held him upright.

    “Oh my.”

    Geum Man-jae tried to move, struggling, but couldn’t because my hand was holding his arm. It must’ve felt like being tied up in chains.

    I whispered in his ear from behind.

    “Stay still, you idiot.”

    “……”

    Geum Man-jae could do nothing but stand still, trembling, unable to even breathe due to my aura and intimidating presence. It seemed that my internal energy had been successfully transferred and could now be radiated freely. I left the village, leaving Geum Man-jae behind.

    This time, I should not face any ridiculous pursuits from the village chief. Last time, I almost annihilated his family and even fled with their secret treasures. Surely, they would resort to extreme measures like assassination. However, it’s unlikely they would hire a martial artist just because ‘Cow Dung’—that’s me—scared off Geum Man-jae and fled in the night. Given the village chief’s nature, at most he’d mock me, thinking I’d die of starvation.

    ‘Even if they pursue me, it’s fine. Once I get the Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries, I can start anew.’

    At this point, no matter what happens, I’d be the first to secure the Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries. I looked down at the village submerged in darkness with a hateful gaze from the mountaintop. Despite having taken my revenge once, my anger still hasn’t settled.

    I mumbled as I stared at the village chief’s house from a distance.

    “I got too greedy. I admit it.”

    Then, I clenched my fist.

    My eyes glowed faintly due to my aura.

    A trickle of blood seeped from my clenched fist.

    “This time, I’ll do it right.”

    It took me three days this time to acquire the Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries. I had no money, so I had to steal a copper shield from a blacksmith’s shop. Being in a child’s body made it difficult to even find the cave where the secret book was.

    Nevertheless, I succeeded in obtaining the Heavenly Tome of Dark Mysteries and took a brief rest in the cave.

    “Ah… so tired. What now?”

    Should I return to the Azure Dragon Martial Hall?

    If I’m accepted there, then within 10 years, I could aim to become a peak martial artist. With a solid foundation in internal energy, it’s a perfect start to surpass even prodigies.

    But I bitterly laughed off that idea.

    “No. It’s impossible. I can only train my martial arts alone now.”

    If I go to the Azure Dragon Martial Hall, unimaginable hardships await.

    Both my secret martial techniques and inner methods are intact, yet the Threefold Expert, Lee Gwang, and Jin So-cheong have no memory of teaching me. They’d naturally assume I’m a thieving copycat, risking either my energy channels being sealed or worse, death.

    Even if they find me intriguing and decide to teach me, risking death again is undesirable. Each time I die, it feels like my mental strength diminishes, a kind of psychological pain that only those who’ve experienced it can understand.

    I don’t want to die.

    Even if I can revive, I don’t want to.

    Thankfully, my child body retains all my internal energy and martial techniques. If I train the same way for another 3 years, I can achieve even more.

    Comforted by that thought, I pondered.

    ‘I need a place where I can live and train without wasting time…’

    There was only one answer.

    I came to a single conclusion and smirked.

    “Being a courier is enough, right?”

    Even in a child’s body, I am much stronger than the ‘me’ of my first life. At least three times stronger. If I keep training this way, I can surpass the top couriers in 3 years. Earning money while legitimately training in martial arts, the courier job is perfect.

    However, I can’t work at Three Pine or Plum Blossom Courier agencies nearby. The village chief has influence there, so my secret would be quickly revealed. The situation could get endlessly complicated.

    After much consideration, I made up my mind.

    “I’ll get a job as a courier at a service near Huangshan. Then, at the right time, I’ll seek out and consume Huangshan’s Millennium Snow Ginseng! Brilliant, even if I say so myself!”

    There’s no better way than this. I could save time and distance myself from the village head’s influence as much as possible. Interacting with strangers does make me uneasy, but somehow, I’ll manage. As soon as I established the plan, I moved to act immediately.

    *Grrrumble…*

    “……”

    I’m hungry.

    At that moment, I realized the biggest flaw in my plan.

    I have neither a home nor money. I’ll have to catch animals for food and rely on primitive methods to get to Huangshan. This is likely to be the first major obstacle.

    “Animals… should I try eating them…”

    The hunt began. I broke off a nearby branch to use as a makeshift knife and held it with a determined expression.

    That day, I was lucky enough to catch a mountain hare and a pheasant. The next day, I had stream water and tree bark. Days when I had to eat tree bark or grass were far more common, as small animals were hard to catch.

    As my body withered away, I continued to walk. Anyone seeing a boy in his early teens trekking through the mountains, hunting animals to survive, would surely think I was insane. I was crossing mountains and rivers intentionally to avoid any news of me reaching the village chief, but it was an exhausting journey.

    For roughly eight days, I survived on roots and mushrooms, occasionally catching bats in the caves. Lying in a corner of the cave, I felt the damp air and a tear trickled down my cheek.

    What is life, that I have to discard everything to live?

    I still had no answer to this question.

    By the time I finally arrived at Huangshan, about a month had passed. I looked like a complete beggar and felt a bit weakened from catching a cold.

    *Cough, cough…*

    My head felt light and dizzy, but I forced myself to stay conscious.

    I can’t collapse now.

    I have to become a courier in this area’s courier agency and then I can collapse.

    Oddly, even though there was a village and a street near Huangshan, there was no sight of the courier station. Just when I found this peculiar, the owner of the inn gave me a plate of food, perhaps out of pity.

    “Ah, you’re just skin and bones… Don’t you have parents or siblings?”

    “I don’t…”

    “Eat slowly. Regain your strength and live.”

    “Thank you…”

    Being pitied didn’t feel too bad, or rather, I was too happy eating the meal to care. It was just rice mixed with vegetables, but I devoured it like mad.

    After finishing my meal, I cautiously asked the inn owner a question.

    “I want to join a courier agency in Huangshan. Do you know where it is?”

    The inn owner’s expression changed strangely. He shrugged his shoulders.

    “Kid, there’s no courier agency in Huangshan~”

    “……!!”

    Damn it…!!

    “Agh, ack, ugh….!!”

    My… my back… my back is cramping…

    “Hey! Are you okay?!”

    “……”

    I was so mad that I fainted.

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