‘It’s a lot faster by hand.’
Mumu, who thought that, picked up the axe and began to cut the wood.
Every time the log was hit with the axe, it got cut easily.
It got cut down as easily as a grain.
Yu Yeop-kyung often chopped firewood when Mumu was young.
As he aged, his hands and feet turned numb, making it difficult to do.
As the exile started, he moved a lot more and became healthier, but that was all.
‘Has it been an hour?’
Much time had passed since he started cutting firewood.
The kid repeatedly chopped the wood without a break and already stacked them to the height of two grown adults.
It had to be more than 9 loads.
‘… creepy. It really is.’
Would anyone believe it if it was said that the kid has been doing that since he was eight?
When Yu Yeop-kyung told that to passersby, they would ask him to not spout nonsense.
Right, it didn’t sound true.
‘My feet would bleed if I told people everything.’
It would take more than half a day to tell everything related to Mumu.
That meant he was different from normal kids.
Especially when it comes to strength.
‘I already put it at eight.’
Earlier this year, he turned the rings to eight.
However, he was still able to chop firewood with his bare hands.
Obviously, until the age of nine, two turns on the ring was enough, but his strength grew exponentially as time went on.
It was even more strange as Mumu wasn’t training his body.
‘Wonderful. It has to be a wonder.’
He was saying that as his father.
Something was wrong with his adopted son.
Mumu respects him and listens to him, and sometimes he bothers his father too, but still, he was a simple and kind son.
He trusted his son, but he had to know the secret behind him.
“That’s enough. Take a break.”
Actually, it was more than enough.
While he was in thought, Mumu had piled up more wood.
Later in the late afternoon, he would give the needed firewood to the others.
Extra firewood was already overflowing in the warehouse.
“To become rich in exile.”
As he was able to drink the most expensive Xinyang Maojian tea, one could guess just how much wealth the man had accumulated with firewood alone.
In his residence, there is Phoenix Dancong tea and more expensive ones.
They were his pleasures in exile.
‘Thank you. Mumu-yah.’
All of this was thanks to his adopted son, Mumu.
When he first began to raise the child, he was worried about doing it in exile, but now, Mumu was his precious son.
“Can I go play in the mountains?”
“Sure. But you can’t go more than 10 li, okay?”
“What is it?”
“I always wanted to ask, but I shouldn’t be included, right?” ⁽¹⁾
“… are you abandoning your father?”
“Then don’t go past 10 li.”
Mumu was still excited and headed into the forest with light steps.
Seeing Mumu’s back, his father smiled.
He thought Mumu was a thickhead.
‘He knows how to play with his father.’
It was time to prepare.
Yu Yeop-kyung put on his footwear for the hike and prepared everything.
Today, he was about to find out for sure just what the kid is going into the mountains for.
Yu Yeop-kyung ran in the direction that Mumu went.
He went in the same direction, but he couldn’t see where Mumu went.
He knew that he would walk around the hillside, but the kid, it was as if he was an elk running around the mountain.
Yu Yeop-kyung looked in the direction his adopted son went and mumbled.
‘It can’t be done.’
The sooner he gave up, the better.
How could he even catch up to Mumu?
Meanwhile, Mumu, who was running around, stopped and glanced back.
In the distance, at the foot of the mountain, he could see his father, Yu Yeop-kyung.
Miraculously, even though they were quite far away from each other, Mumu’s eyes could see his father’s embarrassed face.
He was afraid that if his father followed him, he would start nagging.
Fortunately, the distance was far and seeing his frustrated father, Mumu left the forest.
He was going to his hiding place.
Mumu, who had been running around, caught something in his vision.
An empty, vacant lot full of broken trees.
There were numerous strength training courses, starting with large rocks on both ends of a wooden stick.
These were Mumu’s treasures.
They were the things he had made since he was a child to train his body.
He didn’t know why, but his father was simply against training his body.
He still didn’t know the reason.
‘In the past, he said that a man should be able to protect his own body.’
He started training because of those words.
In fact, it became easier to move after the training.
Mumu looked at the turned rings which were on his wrists and ankles.
His father said that they were ornaments, but they were much heavier than they looked.
The strange thing was that the heaviness only applied to Mumu.
‘Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to sleep in my bed.’
They were so heavy that the bed would break.
As the number of turns increased, the weight became unbelievably heavy, and without any training, moving became tough.
So because of that, the training turned into a lifestyle.
The more he did it, the lighter his body felt.
Now, the thought of training made him feel excited.
Mumu approached the wooden stick with rocks on either side.
Holding it with both hands, balancing them on his shoulders and the back of his neck, he sat down and stood up repeatedly.
‘One… two… three…’
Today’s number was 10,000 squats.
The rocks were about 5 kg.
He wanted to find heavier rocks, but as he was using wood and not iron, he had to adjust with this.
As the wood was a little bent, he would have to find a new one too.
‘There are only a few more left. I’ll have to secretly ask Mr. Oh when he comes over later.’
He even brought precious herbs for training.
Every time he got up and sat, his tight muscles flared.
And each time, a smile appeared on his lips.
Yu Yeop-kyung patted his back as he slurped his tea.
“If I had been ten years younger, I could have gone after him.”
Actually, he knew that it would still be difficult.
That child was physically stronger than ordinary people.
In the end, today, too, he failed.
‘… it’s something I need to be thankful for. He grew up so well.’
He had been a scholar who studied and taught others.
And then he suddenly began to raise a child for 17 years.
He was a father who was full of mistakes, yet he could raise his son without letting him grow crooked.
‘I need to thank that elderly man too.’
If the warrior hadn’t given him the child, he might not have been able to endure the long exile.
It really was long.
He thought that it would be done in ten years.
‘Wait… is it because people are unable to see their family for the rest of their life, and then they give up and die of old age?’
If his exile was so long, he felt bad for Mumu.
From his birth till now, Mumu hasn’t been out.
The only people he met were the merchants who came by.
‘… that’s sad.’
Being stuck in one place for all his life.
He knew that he was turning greedy, hoping that Mumu would spend the rest of his life with his father.
If the exile became longer, sending Mumu outside would be the right course of action…
Yu Yeop-kyung raised his head.
He could hear multiple footsteps from the outside yard.
‘It looks like the merchants are here.’
They seem to have come sooner than expected.
Yu Yeop-kyung got up and walked to the yard.
However, he couldn’t hide his shock when he saw people in animal furs with rough appearances come out.
Just looking at the blade and the iron club in their hands, he was certain.
Yu Yeop-kyung’s body went stiff.
Despite being in exile for so long, he had never once encountered bandits.
Due to the steep hills, it was rare for them to come all the way down here.
But for the first time, bandits appeared.
A hairy man among the bandits spoke to the scared man.
“What the bandit leader said was correct. He did say that smoke was rising and that someone must be living there.”
A man with scars called the bandit leader smiled.
“We must be lucky today. To find this in the mountains.”
They could see the mountain of firewood.
If that was sold, they could get something from it, and even if they carried it, it would be useful to them.
Pointing his club at Yu Yeop-kyung, one of the bandits spoke.
“What about this guy?”
At that, the man called the bandit leader, looked at the post on the yard, and said.
“He looks like a prisoner in exile. Even if we kill him, there will be no harm. Let’s just kill him.”
As soon as those words fell, two bandits strode towards Yu Yeop-kyung.
Yu Yeop-kyung, whose legs froze, immediately remembered something.
His adopted son.
If Mumu came down, then he might meet these bandits.
Then, his son would be at risk too.
‘I need to send some signal.’
Yu Yeop-kyung shouted as hard as he could.
“Son! Bandits have appea…”
Before he could even finish, something hit the back of his thigh.
Yu Yeop-kyung, who was hit by it, fell down in pain.
“Huh. Why do such useless stuff.”
The person who used the dagger was the bandit leader. As the distance wasn’t far, he managed to accurately hit the man.
Yu Yeop-kyung grabbed his thigh, which was hit.
Was his life coming to an end?
If he died, what would happen to Mumu, who has never been alone all his life? What would his future be?
It was then.
It was none other than Mumu.
Yu Yeop-kyung’s face went stiff.
No, normally, the kid shouldn’t be anywhere near the home. Once he entered the mountains, he would always come back very late.
But that wasn’t important.
With all his might, Yu Yeop-kyung shouted.
“Mu-Mumu-yah! Don’t come! Run away!”
The bandit called the bandit leader laughed at it.
As he had been in exile, Yu Yeop-kyung didn’t know, but these people weren’t just bandits.
These bandits were a part of the Green Forest’s Seventy Two Warriors.
In other words, they were part of Murim.
And most of the men brought along were also warriors who had mastered martial arts.
Such an ordinary little boy could be killed in an instant.
“He must be the son. Kill him.”
At the command of the bandit leader, the bandit holding an iron club went for Mumu.
The speed at which he moved was so fast that it was like he was riding a horse.
He ran for Mumu, who was coming towards them.
The bandit swung his iron club towards Mumu’s face.
If the iron club collided with him at the speed it was moving, it would put a hole in his head.
However, something unexpected happened.
The bandit’s eyes fluttered.
The iron club, which should have smashed his head, was halted.
The reason was that the kid in front of him grabbed the iron club with one hand.
“Y-You mastered martial arts.”
At his words, Mumu tilted his head.
“What is martial arts?”
“Are you trying to trick me? How can you block the iron club if you haven’t mastered martial arts…”
And now, the bandit lost it.
The iron club which Mumu was holding was now folded in half.
And folded again, and again and again.
Gu! Gu! Gu! Gu!
A strange thing, how an iron club turned into an iron ball.
Anyone who didn’t know what was happening would never think that the club was made of iron.
Mumu rolled up his sleeves and looked at the bandits who were speechless at the ridiculous situation and spoke.
“Is there anything else you can offer other than strength?”
⁽¹⁾ He’s asking if he’s supposed to be included in the exile or not.
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