A faint melody filled the air in a forest near the West Wind Pavillion.
A 19-year-old girl was enjoying the melody with her eyes closed. She was none other than Ma Yeon-hwa, the third-ranked student.
The song she was humming was a mellow and sweet melody.
She often listened to this song when she found herself having a hard time. She would forget her anger or sadness each time she did and revive her will to fight.
She clenched her short swords in her hands. The song then stopped in the middle.
Ma Yeon-hwa opened her eyes.
“It didn’t end yet.”
She sighed when no reply was forthcoming. The fact that the song had stopped in the middle meant something needed to be said.
So she opened her eyes.
“If there is something to say, say it.”
“Did you hear what happened today?”
Ma Yeon-hwa gave the man a strange look.
She knew what he was talking about. The entire Heavenly Martial Arts Academy was turned upside down today.
It was due to the news of the Poison Air of the West, one of the Four Great Warriors, and his defeat.
The one who defeated him was Mumu, the boy she had been interested in for a long time.
‘… The fact that two of the four warriors fell to this child is also already spreading.’
She, too, had been shocked when she heard this news. Mumu was just 17 years old.
Many in Murim were known as geniuses, but none were like this at such a young age.
But now, with two of the four defeated by his hands, Mumu was already revered by his fellow academy students. Once the news spread to broader society, it would be difficult to deny its factuality.
‘I knew it would be like this.’
She had seen how skilled Mumu was during the arson incident and thought of him as unusual.
She knew that if he displayed his strength, even she wouldn’t be an opponent for him.
But it was much clearer now. Mumu might be a monster that even this academy could not deal with.
And the man continued,
“Things have become complicated.”
“The Forces of Justice seemed to have decided to accept this new change. They are even taking it a step further.”
Ma Yeon-hwa couldn’t say anything to that.
The Forces of Evil had sent her into hiding nearly twenty years ago.
Even their leader, who had seemed untouchable, had been defeated by people with an advantage in numbers.
The sect had thought that they might persist for a long time. However, even their monster-like leader fell to people called the Four Great Warriors, ushering in a new era.
‘The current Four Great Warriors had grown into monsters that are second to none, but even they ended up falling.’
This was a frightening change.
If this continued to be the case, it was questionable if her sect would ever rise back up again. The power of the Forces of Justice seemed too strong now.
And the man continued,
“The Forces of Justice will now revolve around Mumu.”
“… I know.”
And that would make rebuilding the sect even more difficult. This made her sigh.
After a moment’s hesitation, the man said to her,
“But maybe now is your chance.”
Ma Yeon-hwa frowned.
What was this man saying? He then continued.
“We found out that the child, Mumu, was adopted by Royal Inspector Yu Jin-sung’s family.”
She remembered hearing about this. This was probably the other brother that was spoken about, but what chance could there be?
“Miss… do you not like that child?”
Ma Yeon-hwa’s face became red at this unexpected question.
Why was he bringing this up?
“You do not have to hide it.”
Every time she spoke of Mumu, the man noticed her face would turn red.
It was the reaction of a woman who clearly liked a person. The man had been uncomfortable seeing her like that.
He had sworn allegiance to her and liked her as a leader, but he never wanted to show discomfort to her desires.
In the long run, these two people were destined to be on paths that would never intersect.
‘I need to control my emotions.’
That was how the sect could be rebuilt even faster. He then said,
“Take that child.”
“Uh? What is that supposed to mean?”
“Word has it that his older brother graduated from the academy but became an official of the Imperial Palace. Judging from that, their family might not have much understanding of Murim.”
“So… so what?”
“If my lady has that child by your side, the reconstruction of our sect could be quickened.”
Ma Yeon-hwa’s eyes trembled at this.
She knew what he was trying to say.
Mumu was poised to become the top person in Murim. If she could make Mumu hers, then rebuilding the sect would be simple and would also weaken the Forces of Justice by over 30%.
“For that reason…”
“Do you not like it?”
“Then bring him in. If he settles down here and becomes loyal to you, rebuilding our sect will be easy.”
At his words, she bit her lip.
She didn’t want her pure affection to be corrupted in this way. Sadly, however, the man was right.
He would become her worst enemy if he decided to be loyal to the Forces of Justice.
Ma Yeon-hwa gripped her sword’s sheath.
‘Fine. I need to have him.’
After a slight hesitation, she decided to do it.
Whatever the reason, it was better to make him hers rather than regret it when he gets snatched away by other people.
However, she had another problem.
‘… How do I make him mine?’
She had no experience in seducing or dating a man.
Interest in Mumu didn’t grow only in the academy.
As the gag order from the academy was lifted, news began to spread outside. It inevitably reached the home of Yu Yeop-kyung.
Yu Yeop-kyung and his wife felt sad when they sent their two children to the academy.
They tried to forget the loneliness of not having their children around constantly and spent time together.
However, there was a lot of noise outside today since early in the morning. This woke them both up from their sleep.
“Madam! A-at front of the gate…”
Hearing the words of the servant who had rushed in, the madam of the household couldn’t hide her concern.
They had already suffered a long separation due to the exile. His exile had also been for something that he hadn’t done.
She was always prepared for the same thing to happen again. At this, however, Yu Yeop-kyung shook his head.
“It cannot be. I have been pardoned. What is happening?”
He tried to calm her down, but he was feeling worried.
He had to find out what was happening.
Even if he had been pardoned, Yu Jin-sung was now in the palace, so he thought anything could happen.
“I will go.”
“Let’s go together.”
“Stay here. We don’t know…”
“Let’s go together.”
The two of them got dressed. As they went out, they could see the servants gathering and shouting.
What was this?
They cautiously moved to the gate with trembling eyes.
Both of their eyes went wide open. Their residence was quite far from the village, yet many people were there.
They were carrying carts filled with rice, assorted sacks, firewood, silk, and other expensive goods.
“Honey… what is this?”
“My wife… I don’t know.”
They had no idea.
They couldn’t understand why so many carts were in front of their home. People saw them appear and began to rush in.
“You are scholar Yu?”
“You are Yu Yeop-kyung?”
All of them were looking for a single person, puzzling his wife.
“What did you do?”
Yu Yeop-kyung waved his hand.
“I haven’t left the house since I came back from exile, so what could I have done?”
He honestly didn’t know.
But the question was immediately resolved.
“I am a foreign dignitary from Nanyang, Jang An-woo. Our lord requests young master Mumu’s hand in marriage for his eldest daughter.”
Yu Yeop-kyung tilted his head.
This man had suddenly appeared and asked for Mumu’s hand in marriage?
But it wasn’t just him.
“Huh! We were here first. How dare you speak before us! Scholar Yu, our lord is requesting young master Mumu’s hand for his second daughter. The gifts on the carts are all for him. Our lord is a merchant.”
“Wait. Our family arrived earlier than you. That cart there is a gift from our sect leader. It isn’t a huge deal, but please accept it. And our sect leader asked for young master Mumu…”
“Stop! It will be our family first. How dare you butt in?”
The atmosphere was becoming rowdy, which shocked Yu Yeop-kyung.
‘… What the hell is this?’
Did this mean that all these people and carts were here for Mumu?
What the hell was that idiot doing in the academy?
He immediately wanted to go look for Mumu. Even his wife was shocked.
When Yu Jin-sung graduated, she saw something similar but not to this extreme extent. The end of the procession wasn’t even visible.
“Honey, do you know anything about this?”
Yu Yeop-kung could not reply as he, also, was having a hard time figuring things out.
Around the middle of the evening—
At the special training center located in the northeast, Mumu performed squats repeatedly while lifting weights attached to a rod.
This was special training to adapt his body to the weight of the new bands at level 10.
As he reached level 10, he doubled the weight. After a few days, the weight was becoming something he was getting used to.
In order to get even more freedom, Mumu was training his strength by adding more weight to the iron bar.
But something strange happened then.
A haze was rising from the body of Mumu as he performed his squats.
This was different from before, and there had to be a reason.
Mumu, whose thoughts were only on training, thought that it was a waste of time to memorize a verse. It was the verse he had read on the ceiling of the library’s third basement.
Then there was the verse the sage had given him.
He was a little aware of martial arts and thought that these two verses seemed linked.
Mumu had memorized it in succession. This then made his body warm as energy rose within it.
However, the speed of this energy changed when the two verses were being spoken.
The Heavenly Martial True Classic—
It was something related to martial arts left behind by the sage.
Mumu was reciting it as it was meant to enhance control over the body, but its actual effects were different.
This stimulated all forms of growth simultaneously. The energy not only rose from below Mumu’s navel but also in the middle near his heart and the upper front of his brain.
‘Nice. Doing this, I will be less tired than usual.’
Mumu wasn’t taking this kind of change for granted.
He was satisfied with not getting tired while training.
However, if other warriors learned about this, they would go crazy.
Normal warriors would only be able to use the middle part of their body. Their brain connection would only open up when their body had reached its limit.
However, Mumu was now doing it while chanting at the same time.
‘Heavenly Martial True Classic.’
This was something that even the sage who handed the second verse to Mumu didn’t foresee.
As Mumu worked hard on his training—
Someone wandered through the darkness and was approaching the training center.
The person moving cautiously in the darkness was none other than Tang So-so.
‘Before the others go for him, I need to make him mine.’
She had been interested in Mumu since the first time she met him, but she was seeing too many women around him.
She thought he would like her over time, but that didn’t seem possible now. She also couldn’t use poison in the academy.
‘Huh. If this is enough, Mumu will fall for me, right?’
She wore her prettiest clothes and even wore makeup. She thought that he would become interested now, even if he said he wouldn’t in the past.
As she secretly approached the training center, she noticed another shadow following and stopped.
It was Guyang Seorin. Unlike her, she was entering the training center openly and proudly.
She was also determined to do something while wearing a dress thin enough that it looked like skin on her body.
Tang So-so became angry.
What the hell was she doing here in the middle of the night with such a dress?
But Guyang Seorin, who was heading in confidently, also stopped.
It was because someone else had appeared.
It was none other than Ma Yeon-hwa.
While she wasn’t as bold as Guyang Seorin, she appeared wearing bright clothes that were unlike her usual self. It would surely attract the attention of many men.
In particular, the chest part stood out.
Tang So-so, who looked at Guyang Seorin and Ma Yeon-hwa, soon was holding her head with both hands.
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