Gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp
Chung Myung poured the alcohol down his throat, and it looked like he was in paradise.
“This taste is life!”
While he was drinking the spirit1, it felt like the alcohol was coating his mouth.
Since Shaolin was considered a temple, there was nowhere to get alcohol. As a result, he had desperately searched for a drink. To his great joy, Wei Lishan had brought ten bottles with him.
“Kuaah. This is why you need to form good connections with people.”
Of course, Chung Myung wasn’t someone who could not live without alcohol.
But wasn’t every other person the same?
They didn’t look for alcohol when it wasn’t available, but,
‘You cannot drink here.’
It was common knowledge that if someone asked you not to do something, you were basically inclined to engage in that behavior.
‘Was I the only one?’
‘Eh. No way.’
Chung Myung smiled, ripped off a piece of beef jerky, and threw it into his mouth. There was only one thing he regretted…
“The glasses seem old.”
You needed to eat well to grow up well, and he was in the process of growing right now… but that could happen when you drink and have jerky like this2.
‘If sahyung were in the sky seeing this, he would regretfully shed tears.’
Chung Myung thought of consuming twice as much, only if his sahyung would say something from up there.
“Tch. Cannot help it. To live like… uh?”
Chung Myung tilted his head and took another bottle as he turned around.
“… it isn’t here?”
He turned his head to the bottles in the corner of the room.
“One. Two. Three…. Nine. Nine?”
And with this, it would be ten?
He had run out of drinks.
His hand holding the remaining bottle trembled a little.
‘Then no alcohol?’
This was bad.
He hadn’t had enough yet!!
Chung Myung made a wailing sound as he looked at the empty bottles.
“I wish I could have just one more bottle.”
What should I do?
Chung Myung slowly turned his head to look out the window. It was a narrow enough window for one person to get through, so he probably could.
If I sneak out and go to a town…
‘Don’t! Never make trouble in these two days! Never!’
Hyun Jong’s earnest request echoed in his head and made him flinch.
Chung Myung, who was in agony, finally shook his head.
‘I almost fell into my desires.’
If it was in the past, and he had heard such a request from his sahyung sect leader, and he was this drunk… well, he would have jumped out of the window immediately and only returned after drinking his fill of booze.
Ah, was that why my sahyung would go nuts at the word “alcohol”?
I am sorry, my sahyung.
-Yah, you disgusting brat! You are a Taoist!
‘Huh? Did I just hear some beast crying? No? Ah, it must only be some nonsense.’
Chung Myung coughed and opened his mouth,
Since there was already one record of a sect leader losing it, it was a bit difficult to ignore the words of this sect leader and go down the mountain.
Chung Myung sighed and went outside his door.
In the past, Baek Cheon and others would stay here.
But now, no one could be seen, either because the disciples of Huayoung had come here and the place was cramped, or the sect didn’t want to show an embarrassing scene like openly monitoring Chung Myung so closely.
‘There is no place like a kitchen here.’
Even if there were, it would be found in the main temple, and there was no way there would be alcohol there… right?
As he scratched his cheek, his eyes lit up,
“No, no. There is no guarantee that the Huayoung Gate leader brought alcohol for me alone. He probably grabbed some separate bottles for the elders and Sect Leader.”
Chung Myung smiled and walked away.
The Huayoung Gate leader’s room was definitely over…
He stood still.
In one of the main hall windows, he could see a man in a black Mount Hua robe going somewhere quickly.
Chung Myung’s eyes shone at that sight.
“Tch. This is why I cannot close my eyes. The moment I take my eyes off you, you are out to create an accident.”
Chung Myung made a sound that didn’t go well with his personality and jumped out of the window. Then, holding his back, he started walking to the place where the black-robed person had run.
The sound of a sword cutting through the air.
Beads of sweat dripped down his face, and his legs were trembling, yet Baek Sang didn’t stop swinging his sword.
Even though his clenched hands had begun to bleed, his sword didn’t stop.
‘Because of me!’
It was a situation where his sect could win a high enough achievement that would shock the world. But he had been defeated and missed the chance to bring glory to the name of Mount Hua.
What made it even more upsetting was that he wouldn’t get any more chances in this competition to contribute to the achievements of Mount Hua.
Just him, only him.
He had slightly torn his lower lip, and blood dripped from it.
‘Why always me.’
Of course, he knew why.
He, too, had gotten stronger.
He could deal with the famous disciples that he wouldn’t have dared face in the past. The Baek disciples used to freeze when they looked at the Southern Edge Sect.
Nevertheless, the amount of effort the Baek disciples had mustered was the reason for their ability to come out on top.
Yoon Jong and Jo Gul.
Baek Sang knew it. He was no longer the second strongest among the Baek disciples. Yu Yiseol was already in a position he could never catch up to, and a few of the Chung disciples under Chung Myung had already overtaken him.
Among the Chung disciples, there were even some other than Yoon Jong and Jo Gul who had begun to surpass him.
Strength was relative.
No matter how strong one gets, people who could outperform him would always come to the sect. How could he comfort himself by holding onto the fact that he was training to get strong?
When other martial artists were starting to bear fruit, he could no longer ignore it.
His sword, infused with qi, kept swinging. A piercing pain rushed through his hands, but Baek Sang didn’t back down and constantly push further.
‘It happened because I was weak and stupid.’
It wasn’t a big dream or something.
Even before Chung Myung had arrived, there were already thousands of thresholds he could never think of crossing. His dream had been to simply assist Baek Cheon and make Mount Hua a better sect.
Baek Sang stopped.
He lowered the sword as he took a deep breath and looked up at the night sky where a single cloud couldn’t be seen, and the moon was staring back at him.
‘Am I not suitable for Mount Hua?’
He wasn’t thinking about this just because of his loss. It was something he had been concerned with for a long time.
In the past, he and Baek Cheon had led Mount Hua. But the rate of improvement picked up speed when Chung Myung appeared.
And it was difficult for him to keep up with this new pace of growth. Despite not showing it on the outside, it was tough on him.
Coming all this way, he couldn’t help but think,
‘Maybe I am pulling back the others?’
Could it be that a Baek disciple with no talent was blocking the path of those who could have had a better chance to grow?
Baek Sang looked at the moon sitting amongst the night sky.
The sun couldn’t touch it. All because the moon belonged to another time. What he wanted was to be like the moon, overlooking the darkness, while the bright sun could light up the world on the other side.
But for him now, let alone the moon, even looking at the stars felt burdensome.
What should he do now?
A small voice could be heard from behind him.
Baek Sang turned right away,
He had never imagined seeing this face, so he frowned, looking at Chung Myung staggering forwards.
“… How did you know?”
“It is weird not to know when you come out like that.”
“I have been out for a while, though.”
“It took me a while to go and come from the village.”
Chung Myung pulled something from his bag and threw it at Baek Sang.
Baek Sang, with his reflexes, caught it, and looking at the bottle in hand, he was shocked,
“How about a drink?”
Baek Sang sighed, seeing Chung Myung smiling, and looked around.
‘Is this fine?’
This was Mount Song, a place that was regarded as a holy ground for many warriors. No matter how far the gate of Shaolin was from there, drinking here went far beyond the values of Baek Sang.
“Don’t want to?”
“I-I will drink!”
Sometimes breaking your values wasn’t bad. Baek Sang opened the cap and smelled it.
The stinging smell felt like poison.
“I was thinking about buying a good one, but I thought this would be better today.”
Baek Sang just took the bottle to his mouth without another word.
It felt like his throat was burning, but he didn’t hate it.
Chung Myung smiled as he watched Baek Sang drink, and then he, too, did the same.
Gul gulp gulp gulp gulp.
“Kuak! This is why I live!”
He grinned as he looked around. And soon, spread out the roasted duck he had brought.
Baek Sang shook his head,
‘Meat and alcohol on Mount Song.’
He could never have imagined doing this. But for some reason, he didn’t leave or stop; oddly enough, this didn’t feel all that strange to him.
All because of the person in front of him.
Baek Sang frowned, looking at Chung Myung.
One day, this guy fell into Mount Hua and revamped its image.
Baek Sang drank without saying a word. For a while, neither of them spoke. Only the sound of gulping and the bugs fluttering around could be heard.
And the first to say anything was Chung Myung,
“Do you feel better?”
Baek Sang looked at the night sky without another word.
“There are times in life when you lose. No matter what. And now, you couldn’t win. No matter who comes ahead…”
“No! Why is that.”
Baek Sang cut off Chung Myung and looked at him with unfamiliar eyes.
No urging and no questions.
He was waiting for Baek Sang to release his concerns.
“That spar was the same. If I met someone stronger than me, my skills would inevitably drop to some extent. I was prepared for that from the start.”
“It isn’t like I feel frustrated or anything. It is only that at some point, I realized that the others from Mount Hua were running ahead at a different pace than me.”
Chung Myung looked at Baek Sang without saying anything.
“I knew it from the start. My talent for swords isn’t exceptional. And that brings it to a head. The only reason why I was a little stronger than everyone else was that I had trained a little longer, that is all.”
Baek Sang’s voice was so calm. Maybe it is because he was thinking of the thoughts he had hidden for so long.
“That is why I am scared. I am afraid everyone will get too far ahead, leaving me behind. No, it would be nice if I could try to follow… but, in the end, I am afraid I’ll miss the cutoff from those who lead Mount Hua. I am afraid of being a burden to Mount Hua.”
Taking another sip, Baek Sang sighed,
“Of course, it is tough for you to understand.”
“Uh. I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“… you shouldn’t have said that.”
Baek Sang took a deep breath.
It couldn’t be easy for Chung Myung to understand his words. Because Baek Sang and Chung Myung lived in an entirely different world, the world for the talented.
A rabbit could not understand the heart of a flying phoenix. In the same way, the phoenix also, could not understand the heart of the rabbit hopping on the land.
That was the gap between him and Chung Myung, according to Baek Sang.
“So, you are saying that it is a problem of sasuk lacking talent?”
“… not that…”
Baek Sang hesitated and sighed,
“I don’t know, Chung Myung. Mount Hua has found its way. A way made by you. But I…”
Chung Myung cut his words,
“You keep mumbling! I hate this kind of thing.”
Baek Sang narrowed his eyes.
Your sasuk is still talking!
Chung Myung smiled,
“Can I tell you a story?”
“Right. An old story. Once upon a time, there was a person just like sasuk.”
Chung Myung’s eyes showed loneliness.
Seeing that, Baek Sang went silent and looked at him.
‘What is this…’
What happened for him to look like this?
His hand gripped the bottle.
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