No matter how I look at it, he seems to have gone mad. Gu Chil1 gazed seriously down at Chung Myung. Did all the beating drive him mad?
He got hit a little harder than usual. Although Wang Cho was usually a little excessive, he’d beaten Chung Myung like he was trying to teach him a lesson—even getting attacked by a dog wouldn’t mess him up this bad. The people who normally tried to stop him didn’t even bother today, seeing how Wang Cho had absolutely manhandled Chung Myung. Gu Chil wasn’t surprised.
“So what you’re saying is… I’m a beggar?”
Was he beaten on his head or his body? A beggar, asking if he was a beggar? What madness was this? Gu Chil was certain… this guy had turned weird. No, he’d turned horrifyingly weird.
He normally slacked off, so Gu Chil knew that one day he was going to get a real beating—it was just bad luck that today was the day. That was the iron rule of the Beggars’ Union: If you don’t find food with your own hands, you either die a dog’s death, starve to death or get beaten.
Normally, people would come back to their senses after their beating. Normally. Instead, the complete opposite was happening in front of Gu Chil.
“Is it true? Am I really living in a place like this? It can’t be true.”
“…Are you blind or what?”
“It shouldn’t be hard to figure it out by looking at what you’re wearing.”
Chung Myung lowered his eyes; he saw all kinds of fabrics and rags. It should have been normal clothing, but it was… rags. Any normal person would nod their head and go back to work, but not Chung Myung.
“Don’t I have a name or something?”
“Since when did beggars have names?” Gu Chil heaved a sigh. “Just a crude one. You’re Cho Sam2.”
“…Sounds just like a beggar’s name.” Look, even his name was poor. “To be a beggar. This kind of beggar…”
The other beggar stared blankly at him.
“And age—am I around sixteen?”
“Since when did beggars keep track of their age?”
“That makes sense.”—Unlike everything else. Everything about Cho Sam had changed, from the way he spoke to the way he moved. On top of that, he had no idea what was happening around him. It was far too much to be caused by a concussion.
“Then, what year is it?”
“…Beggars count the days. You ever seen a beggar who counted the years?”
“Sounds like a true beggar.”
Gu Chil rubbed his eyes. A beggar’s life was always tired and stressful, but this was so much worse than usual.
“Then, I have one more question.”
“… You’ve been asking for a while now.”
“Do you know who the Heavenly Demon is?”
“You were mumbling about the Heavenly Demon earlier, too. Why are you suddenly looking for him?”
“Answer me first.”
“Of course I know him. Everyone knows. He was the leader of the Heavenly Demon Sect, who was defeated a hundred years ago.”
Cho Sam shot forward and grabbed Gu Chil by the collar.
“One hundred years have passed since the Heavenly Demon was slain? ONE HUNDRED YEARS? Does that really mean a century has passed since then? A centuryyyyyyy?”
“… That’s right.” Seems like Cho Sam got hit real hard.
“Tell me the truth, don’t even think about lying.”
“What good would come out of lying to you?” Gu Chil pulled Cho Sam off of him. Soon, Cho Sam’s freed hands were scratching furiously at his head.
He’s gone mad. There was no other explanation after seeing that. He wasn’t confused or rattled by the beating—he’d just lost his mind. Gu Chil had never seen someone’s face express so many shades of “flustered”.
“A hundred years, you say?”
“Do you want me to say it again?”
“…I need to head back.”
Chung Myung raised his head to the sky. He thought that seeing the clean blue sky would offer him some kind of comfort, but all he could see was the black ceiling of the tent. It was a dark as Chung Myung’s mood.
“A hundred years have passed since then?”
Gu Chil snapped.
“It’s not like you’re old or something, so why do you keep repeating the same thing!? It’s been a hundred years! The Sects had a big fight with the Heavenly Demon on top of the Hundred Thousand Mountains and took his head off! Right! It was a hundred years ago!”
“…I get it.” That was why he was so depressed.
The guy who thrashed Chung Myung earlier seemed like he was high-ranked. In that sense, the guy in front of him now could also be higher-ranked than Cho Sam.
In the Beggars’ Union, was it? Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything great—it was practically impossible for the Beggars’ Union to feed and shelter all of their people. It was said that the Union took in all beggars, but their funds were limited.
Most of the Beggars’ Union were plain street beggars. The higher-ups gave them numbers for names, and their clothes had no knots. Roaming on the streets, these beggars would have a better idea of what happened in the world of martial arts than any practitioner. Gu Chil’s words were reliable.
“Huh. Crazy. One hundred years, huh.” Everything would have changed—now it was just a matter of accepting he’d been reincarnated into the body of another child.
But… Couldn’t I have just been reborn right after my death? After a hundred years, everyone who knew Chung Myung must be dead. That aside, all the people he’d known died on top of the horrible mountain.
He was all alone.
No matter how twisted things can get, this is just too much. Then, the Mount Hua—
“Ah! Hold one—the Mount Hua Sect…!?”
When Cho Sam hopped up from the floor and started shouting at him, Gu Chil wasn’t even surprised anymore.
“Mount Hua Sect! What happened to the Mount Hua Sect?”
“What do you mean?”
“What happened to the Mount Hua Sect!?”
“What’s Mount Hua?”
“…Huh?” Chung Myung boggled at him. He didn’t know Mount Hua? A beggar didn’t know?“
“Come on, don’t play with me. What’s the current situation of the Mount Hua Sect?”
“Mount Hua Sect?” Gu Chil tilted his head.
He didn’t know? Really? About Mount Hua Sect?
“T-the… one of the Nine Great Sects… Mount Hua Sect, you don’t know about it? Hah, you…”
“One of the Nine Great Sects? What nonsense are you spouting? There is no Mount Hua Sect in the Nine Great Sects.”
“Shaolin Temple, Wudang Clan, Diancang Sect, Qingcheng Sect, Kongtong Sect, Southern Island Sect, Emei Sect, Southern Edge Sect, Kunlun Sect, and the Beggars Union. There are ten now.”
“So-Southern Island Sect? Those good-for-nothing bastards are in the Ten Great Sects? Ah—no, that doesn’t matter. Then Mount Hua Sect isn’t one of them?”
Gu Chil sighed. Cho Sam only heard what he wanted to, no matter what he said. Gu Chil’s patience was wearing thin.
“Mo-Mount Hua Sect isn’t a part of the Great Sects? No, that could be possible. But you—you don’t know Mount Hua Sect? Even when a rich man becomes poor, he can last for three years with his luxuries! But you, a mere beggar, don’t know about the Mount Hua Sect?”
Calling him a beggar didn’t really capture the consequences of what he said. Well, he could starve to death.
“Does that make any sense?” Chung Myung shook Gu Chil by the shoulders. “Any sense at all? You really don’t know Mount Hua? Mount Hua? Mount Hua Sect?”
“…Mount Hua.” Gu Chil’s could feel a headache setting in.
“Right! Mount Hua!”
“Come to think of it,” Gu Chil tilted his head. “I remember hearing there was such a sect in the Shaanxi province.”
“Yes! That’s right! Mount Hua, in Shaanxi!” Chung Myung’s eyes were wide.
“From what I know, it’s doomed.”
“What?” Chung Myung’s heart stopped.
“I don’t know if there was a Mount Hua Sect in the Great Sects or not, but I heard stories about how their elite warriors were killed in the war with the Heavenly Demon. I don’t know for sure—if you want to know more, ask the others.”
What did that mean? Mount Hua Sect has fallen? Mount Hua? The Mount Hua Sect?
“This beggar, feeding me lies!”
Gu Chil turned his gaze upwards. Even when he told the truth, Chung Myung just cursed him. This was why Gu Chil hated helping people.
“No! Not a chance! I can’t believe that!” Chung Myung shoved Gu Chil away and jumped to his feet. “I need to go and see for myself!”
“Hah!” Gu Chil shouted at his back. “If you don’t come back by dinner in the evening, Wang Cho will kill you for real this time! Don’t waste your time with needless things, and get back to work!”
But Cho Sam just left.
“…What is that bastard going to do now?” Gu Chil shook his head, absolutely baffled by the change in his behavior.
“…Huh.” Was this the face of a merchant who’d lost his entire fortune? That was certainly what Chung Myung’s face looked like.
When he thought about it, with all the disciples of Mount Hua killed in the battle with the Heavenly Demon, a decline in power was inevitable. During that time, they could have been pushed out of the Great Sects. But no matter how hard he racked his brains, how could Mount Hua be pushed out and the Beggars’ Union come into the Great Sects in just a hundred years!? How did that make sense? How could beggars, who knew nothing of martial arts, be included…?
Somehow, the beggar he talked to didn’t know, so Chung Myung went asking. But no matter who he grabbed, the result was the same.
“Mount Hua? Are you talking about the mountains over there? What about it?”
“Mount Hua Sect? Did Mount Hua have a martial arts school?”
“I’ve never heard of such a sect.”
“How dare a beggar touch my sleeve—do you want your arms cut off? Let go of my sleeve this instant!”
Ah, not that last one.
No one knew. Not a single one.
“This makes no sense!” How did Mount Hua Sect turn out this way? There would always be numerous famous sects, but none would be as renowned as Mount Hua sect. It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that all of the most famous swordsmen come from Mount Hua. Still, no one would disagree that Mount Hua was one of the three most famous, along with Woodang and Namgung.
But people didn’t know it existed?
There was one positive response, at least.
“Mount Hua Sect? I think I’ve heard of it. Weren’t they famous in the past? From what I heard, they slew the Heavenly Demon and then collapsed. Are they still there?”
Collapsed? The Mount Hua Sect?
“What kind of bullshit was he spouting?” It would be more realistic to say that the Imperial palace burned down and the Emperor fled.
Mount Hua Sect has fallen! Mount Hua Sect!
Maybe I should be glad it’s me who was resurrected. Chung Myung recalled the strange expression Sahyung Jang Mun wore in his last moments. If he were alive to hear this news, he would have vomited blood and died again.
“No, no!” Chung Myung leapt from his seat. “I need to see it with my own eyes!”
Mount Hua Sect had existed for hundreds of years, no matter how horrible a state it was in. He had to see it.
“I’m going to Mount Hua!” His blue eyes blazed with passion.
This was the moment the butterfly’s wings birthed a tidal wave.
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