Elder Hyun Jong of Mount Hua Sect gave Un Am a confused look.
“You mean he came up here alone?”
“And then he fainted inside Okcheon temple?”
“It seems like he couldn’t even eat properly but, since he climbed Mount Hua by himself, it’s natural for him to be exhausted.”
“I guess so.” Hyun Jong smiled. The ruggedness of Mount Hua made it difficult enough for an adult to climb. The strain it would place on a child would be indescribable.
“Where is that child now?”
“I moved him to the Plum Blossom Hall. I also called Un Jin to check on him, and he said there was no problem other than fatigue.”
“That’s good.” Hyun Jong nodded. Whatever his circumstances, the kid was a guest of Mount Hua now.
“But it’s strange for a child to climb up here alone. Is there no story behind it?”
“After the visit to Okcheon, I was going to ask him—but, as you know, he fainted, and I couldn’t ask.”
Un Am frowned and explained the plum blossom to Hyun Jong.
“‘You sold them?’” Hyun Jong tilted his head quizzically.
“He said that and then fainted? Hmm.” The Elder stroked his beard.
“Of course, I could have heard it wrong. But it is a long story. That wasn’t the only weird thing—before I could ask him anything, he asked me if I was a martial artist of Mount Hua. Doesn’t that mean he came to join?”
“I wonder what he was planning…”
“Are you worried?” Hyun Jong chuckled at Un Am.
“It isn’t like that…”
“What is so strange about knowing where Mount Hua is? This sect left its mark on history. It’s no wonder people would remember it.”
“And he could be a descendant of a Mount Hua member.”
“Ah…” Un Am nodded. As they were pushed out of the Great Sects, many people had left Mount Hua. Few had remained to share their fate to the end. If this kid descended from one of them, they would find out.
“If you’re worried he’s here to steal something, what is there left to steal?”
“…Sect leader.” Un Am’s face fell. However, Hyun Jong didn’t see that.
“Sold it.” Hyun Jong shook his head and smiled. “Right… right. Maybe he descended from a former member since he seems to know what Okcheon Temple used to be. It must have been embarrassing for the child.”
“Enough. It’s true that we sold it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Maybe it’s better not to tell him. Un Am gulped. He wasn’t telling him everything the boy had said.
“You sold it! You idiots…” He wondered how the sect leader would react to those words.
“Right. Bring him to me as soon as he wakes up.”
“Yes, sect leader.”
Hyun Jong lost himself to his thoughts.
Sold it. It felt like salt being sprinkled on his wounds. The ancestors will never forgive me.
No matter how much he wanted to save Mount Hua, how could he face his ancestors after selling the very history of Mount Hua? It hurt to think about…
The name of Mount Hua should not end in my time. Hyun Jong’s face darkened. It wouldn’t happen, not even in his dreams—he worked day and night to keep Mount Hua afloat. But with each day, his hope waned.
Un Am quietly stood up.
“Ah…” Un Am stopped, just as he was about to leave. “Sect leader.”
“If that child wants to join, what do you plan to do?”
“Join…” Mount Hua Sect didn’t accept disciples anymore. However, it would be different if they were a descendant of one of the disciples.
“It won’t happen.” Hyun Jong nodded firmly.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“What’s that child’s name?”
“Chung Myung. It’s Chung Myung.”
“…Chung Myung.” Hyun Jong’s expression darkened. “Okay. You can go.”
“Chung Myung…” He had the same name as one of Mount Hua’s swordsmen.
“Weird.” It was definitely weird.
“If only he were still alive.” If only the famous Plum Blossom Sword Saint had survived that bloodbath, the fate of Mount Hua would be much different. It was a meaningless daydream, but Hyun Jong couldn’t help himself.
“…So much debt.”
Hyun Jong felt so, so alone.
“You damned bastards.” Chung Myung spat curses. “You had nothing else, so you sold it?”
It was maddening. Even if they were starving to death, those weren’t things they should sell. No matter how shabby it looked, the disciples… were dead. The young kids would have… known nothing.
But even if Mount Hua was destroyed, those couldn’t be sold—
“No, this is better than being ruined.” If the ancestors had seen Chung Myung, they would have scolded him. No martial artist should be obsessed with material things. He knew that. He knew it well.
“Shit.” Chung Myung groaned.
He looked down at the mountain range. Whenever he’d felt frustrated, he would climb another mountain and look at Mount Hua. When he saw the endless peaks rising through the clouds like swords, his spirits rose. But now…
“Shit.” Everything was bad. It was all inside out. It felt like his stomach rotted whenever he saw something missing.
“The sect has declined.” Really, it was more like “collapsed” than “declined”.
“Anything of value was sold.” That meant practically everything in Mount Hua. No doubt, Okcheon was the last place they touched—after he saw Okcheon Temple, he could understand why this place was so run down. They were so destitute they’d pulled up the blue stones and sold them.
“…Right. I understand everything! Everything else is fine, but this—! “
Why are the martial arts so crooked?!
Chung Myung rolled around on the floor outside the hall. He would die if he fell off, but Chung Myung didn’t have the time to think about it.
“That old man… not even a third-rate disciple?” Talk about fate. Under normal circumstances, Chung Myung wouldn’t even be able to guess the level of Un Am. No matter how strong he used to be, he was nothing more than a kid now.
However, Chung Myung could clearly see Un Am’s level of martial arts. His senses weren’t strong, Un Am was just too weak. When Chung Myung was at his prime, Un Am wouldn’t have even qualified as a student.
“…What am I supposed to do?” He didn’t even know where to start. He knew he should start from the bottom, but it was too deep for Chung Myung to see.
Is this Mount Hua?
Do I tell them I’m that Chung Myung? They would curse him, no doubt. If he was lucky, they wouldn’t beat him before they kicked him out. Chung Myung wouldn’t believe himself, either.
But let’s say they did believe him. Assume the man was infinitely patient and asked him to prove it with his martial arts.
I don’t have the strength. Chung Myung was like a walking treasure. He had all the knowledge to revive the sect but not the power to protect himself. Chung Myung knew not everyone was as wonderful as his Sahyung. What if one of them didn’t like Chung Myung and decided to take him out? His second life would be stolen, just like that.
That’s no good, either.
“Then I’ll have to revive the sect without revealing my identity.” Or at least, hide it until he had the means to protect himself.
“…It would be easier to fight the Demonic Sect.” He spat a laugh. He had to teach martial arts to save Mount Hua and himself. He wanted to start hitting people, but…
“…If I had known this would happen, I wouldn’t have run over here.”
He owes Mount Hua. The only reason he could walk around saying he was the best swordsman in the world was because of Mount Hua. Yet, he’d given nothing back to Mount Hua, only the honor of defeating the Heavenly Demon. Thanks to that, Mount Hua was on the edge of destruction. How could he ignore Mount Hua? He couldn’t.
“Oh, Sahyung…” Chung Myung shook his head regretfully.
Up in the blue sky, he could see Sahyung Jang Mun smiling down at him.
“Still, it’s Mount Hua.”
“…Uh.” Chung Myung heaved himself up. If he didn’t want Sahyung to murder him in the afterlife, he had to make himself useful to Mount Hua.
“Damn it, who said anything could be impossible in this world?” When he’d first started learning martial arts at Mount Hua, who would have imagined he would become a great master? Everyone had thought they would be lucky if he didn’t cause trouble. Chung Myung overcame their cold eyes and became famous in Mount Hua—challenging the impossible was his specialty!
“I will make it the best in Murim!” Chung Myung’s eyes glowed with passion.
Everyone in Mount Hua shivered.
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