The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 13

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

Cultivating Through Seclusion

In martial arts novels, a common scene involves characters secluding themselves in the mountains to train and cultivate their skills. It’s almost cliche: not just secluded sects like Wudang, Kunlun, and Shaolin, but the majority of factions choose to situate themselves away from the bustling cities and into the deep mountains.

So, is there really a benefit to cultivating in the mountains? If someone were to ask, Kang Tae-han would confidently answer ‘yes’. His response wasn’t just based on what’s written in novels, but on his own actual experience.


Kang Tae-han was currently at Mount Gyeryong, a renowned mountain located on the outskirts of Daejeon, South Korea. Its impressive appearance aside, its geomantic importance has even led it to be considered as a potential capital location—a mountain that stands as one of the best in the country when it comes to its Feng Shui topology.

“Definitely good here.” He had climbed about thirty percent of the way to his destination when he spotted a rock that looked like a good place to rest. It wasn’t that he was tired, but rather that the scenery around him was too beautiful to simply pass by without pause.

“What a celebrated mountain indeed.” Having spent a considerable amount of time in the Murim (martial artists’ society), Kang Tae-han had visited countless mountains and naturally developed a discerning eye for them. In that context, Mount Gyeryong undoubtedly qualified as distinguished.

Magnificent landscapes and towering, rugged peaks seemingly defied human access. Yet along the path that wound up the mountain, the scenery seemed to encourage and bless those who ventured upwards. Majestic, yet not desolate.

From his time in the Murim, he remembered descriptions of Korean mountains within the Central Plains; Mount Gyeryong perfectly fit those depictions.

“The air is excellent too.”


He took a deep breath. A faint presence of qi energy floated in the atmosphere; although it was not as rich as in the Murim, it was still several times denser than what one would find in the heart of the city.

Above all, the most important difference was the purity of the qi. The qi in the city, although faintly perceptible, was not only scarce in quantity but also too turbid to be put to any use. Here, however, the qi was different. As he inhaled it into his body, it could be directly converted into internal energy (neigong) due to its purity.

Just through breathing in and out, he could feel even the slightest amount of qi filling his body.

‘It’s worth a try…’

There were no signs of people around. Kang Tae-han set his hands on his knees and closed his eyes in a relaxed manner, concentrating his mind on the danjeon inside him, the center of his energy. The danjeon contained a cluster of power accumulated through the practice of Hupseong Daebup, a technique for absorbing qi.

Though the amount collected was not insignificant and was sufficient to perform basic martial arts, the quality of the internal energy still left much to be desired. It was essentially internal energy cobbled together from various impure sources, though cleansed through principles of Taeching Simkong and Yikgeon Kyeong, to ensure no side effects.

It’s like having a quilt made from a thousand pieces, but with stains and needle marks still visible. To make it entirely his own, a separate refinement process was necessary.

“Suuu… Hoo…”

While still sitting, he repeated long breaths to relax his body. When he felt his body soften and his senses sharpen, he formed circles with his thumb and forefinger on both hands, focusing his mind there.

In his left hand was internal energy drawn from the lower danjeon, and in his right hand the clear qi he had just gathered from the outside. After balancing the ratio of qi in both hands, he would exhale, intertwine the two loops without touching, and allow the energies in both hands to pass through each other.


The harmonious internal energy passed through to his right hand, while the impurities and incompatible energy were pulled by the clear qi back into his left. The purified internal energy in the right hand was sent back to the danjeon, and the impurities in the left were expelled with the breath.

Refining internal energy from the danjeon: while the methods differ according to the practice, this basic yet crucial part within virtually all cultivation methods was necessary to obtain pure, high-quality internal energy that suited his constitution, and had to be repeated frequently.

After four or five cycles, just as the sweat on his back began to cool, Kang Tae-han relaxed his posture and stood up. He sensed someone approaching from below him—a reasonable distance away still, but it was best to avoid others when practicing such methods.

‘It’s probably best to avoid people while doing this.’

It was common sense to avoid contact with others while circulating qi. Although it’s unlikely to cause serious issues unless you were deeply engrossed in cultivation, it could still have negative effects.

‘And I’d rather not be mistaken for a charlatan…’

Since he had only casually attempted the exercise as a test, Kang Tae-han dusted himself off without regret and resumed his climb.


“…Ah, hello.”

As he climbed further, he was greeted by a middle-aged man on his way down. Kang Tae-han hesitated for a moment before returning the greeting. The man, slightly older, offered a natural smile.

“The weather is nice today, and so is the view. Have a pleasant hike.”

“Thank you. Be careful on your way down.”

“Thank you.”

Exchanging pleasantries between hikers wasn’t too common but happened every now and then. Once they had moved a fair distance from each other, Kang Tae-han smiled to himself.

‘Quite peaceful, indeed.’

Truth be told, it was surprisingly peaceful.

Kang Taehan was quite reluctant to encounter anyone in the mountains, not because the trails were narrow or crowded, but simply because of habits formed during his time in the martial world. ‘In the martial world, meeting people meant having to be on guard.’ Even if the person didn’t seem suspicious at first glance, no one could tell if they were just a passerby, a lookout sent by a bandit gang, or an assassin with a dagger hidden close to their chest. Sometimes, as now, there would be greetings exchanged, but that was more a process to check for any suspicious signs, not just a friendly salutation—especially if both parties were from the martial world. In that sense, being able to enjoy a leisurely hike was truly a luxurious thing compared to the past.


As he ascended a bit more, Taehan noticed a crowd gathered ahead. From what he could see, there were at least five or six people. ‘What’s going on?’ They were all standing at the edge of a slope, looking down, which didn’t appear to be just taking a rest. Kang Taehan quickened his pace towards them.

“Is there a problem?”

“Oh dear, what should we do!”

“Mr. Kim! Stop hovering around awkwardly and just stay put! What if you fall down too while you’re at it?”

The steep slope where the men were gathered was quite perilous. One by one, they looked down with urgent expressions. ‘Someone must have fallen,’ Taehan quickly surmised. Judging from the situation, the four who couldn’t keep still must be companions of the fallen. The remaining calm pair seemed to be passing hikers. Kang Taehan moved to the side to check below the slope. It was steep enough to be considered a cliff. The bushes growing at intervals blocked the view, but the ground visible through the gaps appeared to be quite far down. It was difficult for people to descend, and the location of anyone who fell wasn’t even confirmed. An utterly dire situation. The companions were bound to feel frustrated since they couldn’t see the fallen with the naked eye.


Kang Taehan closed his eyes for a moment, gathering his internal energy to spread his qi perception down the slope. Although the amount of internal energy he could utilize was still small, he could search a decent range if he focused it in one direction and added a bit of technique. ‘It’s not as far as I thought.’ Around the middle, where the bushes were thickest, there was a flat spot below, and there lay a man, unconscious. Since there was no one on the ground, the situation suggested this man was the victim. It seemed he had suffered a head injury. He was precariously perched on a ledge, and any slight movement could cause him to tumble down again. A fall here would mean a certain plunge to the distant ground below.

‘What to do.’

There were two things to consider when rescuing someone: Was there a better way to help than personally intervening? And could he endanger himself in the process of rescuing? In the first case, mountain rescue teams existed, and they had probably been called, but it would take a considerable time to reach this place. For the second case, there was no issue. The slope was steep, but it was nothing compared to the treacherous mountains of the Western Regions. A simple light body technique was sufficient.

‘A Heavenly Devil participating in rescue activities.’

It didn’t quite fit the image. But if one were to consider it, the fact that the Heavenly Devil was giving massages was already funny. The decision didn’t take long. Kang Taehan smirked and moved forward, then lightly jumped towards a small rock protruding from the upper part of the slope.

“Hey! Kid! It’s dangerous!”

“Student, come back up!”

Shouts filled with concern echoed from above, but Taehan didn’t intend to listen and continued jumping towards the next foothold without reply. A bold leap of about 2 meters in height, yet his landing was perfectly stable without any hint of unsteadiness. Lightfoot (輕功) – a martial skill that involved lightness and agility. Simply balancing at a high place was easily doable even without internal energy, just by maneuvering the body. Kang Taehan effortlessly descended towards the small ledge where the victim was.

“Is he truly alright…?”

“Oh my, this makes me nervous just watching.”

The onlookers from above were both amazed and anxious. Soon enough, Kang Taehan appeared from beyond the bushes with the man he had rescued slung over his shoulder. Although it was like witnessing a miracle, the situation still seemed precarious as they made their way up the steep incline.

“Do we have anything? Like a rope?”

“Take out anything, hurry!”

Motivated by the thought that they should help in some way, everyone started rummaging through their belongings. Luckily, one of the hikers produced a climbing rope.

“Tie one end to a tree, and throw the other end over there!”

“Student! Grab this and climb up!”

“…Wait. Where’s he gone? Can’t see him!”

“What, for real?”

Had he fallen again while they weren’t looking? The man holding the rope, along with the others, turned pale as they inspected below. As feared, there was no sign of anyone on the slope.

“Oh dear, what to do now.”

“That’s why I said it was dangerous. Even though he went down, how could he climb back up…”

“Why? What happened again?”

One of the men started to explain, but suddenly paused, feeling a sense of déjà vu, as if he’d just heard a similar question in the same voice before.

“You don’t mean another person has fallen, do you?”

The man turned towards where the voice came from. There stood the student who had just descended the slope, nonchalantly wiping sweat from his forehead, and at his feet lay the companion who had previously tumbled down the slope, now resting on his back with his backpack on.

[End of the provided text]

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