Mumu opened his eyes after his roaring headache stopped, and he soon felt greeted by a refreshing feeling.
It was like waking up from a long dream. That was what it was, a dream.
He kept watching this dream, but there were times when he had no choice but to watch what happened.
‘I feel like I’ve been released from being locked up.’
It seemed like his mind was in a hazy state before, and now he was clear headed. Mumu stretched out the palm he was holding tightly. Some of the ashes from the needle were there in his palm.
‘Was it because of this?’
After the needle came out came the headache and the refreshing feeling.
‘What was it stuck in my head?’
Even though there was such a thing inside his head, he hadn’t even known about it until now.
‘Since when was it stuck there? Who put it there?’ Mumu pondered.
And then, the countless memories from his childhood flashed through his mind.
It was strange. Those passing memories were so vivid and clear as if it actually happened.
Was his memory always this good? He was puzzled, but then Im Jong came over.
“Child, are you fine?”
At that question, Mumu looked at him and smiled.
“I just had a headache. Do not worry.”
“… phew. Then good.”
Im Jong sighed in relief. However, he noticed Mumu was strange.
It was strange, really strange. What was this strange feeling in the air around Mumu?
Clearly, he had a strong sense of surroundings before he went to cultivate, but now something seemed to have faded.
“What is it?”
Mumu asked with a smile. Still, with the same bright smile.
Maybe he had mistook it for some reason as he was anxious. Even so, it was strange to see the change, or mistaken the change, shaking his head as Im Jong went back.
“Since you are fine, I will go back to healing my wounds.”
“Ah… hm. Yes.”
Mumu smiled. Im Jong closed his eyes and began to do this thing and Mumu watched him carefully.
“Phew. Phew. Phew.”
A very steady breathing. And more he breathed a subtle change occurred on the body of Im Jong. A red color added to his complexion.
‘Is that cultivation for recovering the body through breathing?’
In the mind of that, he thought about what Dan Baek-yeon spoke about internal energy in the first class.
[… It’s often said that any origin changes through breathing, but also through exhalation. Naturally, energy is dispersed in the air we breathe, all depending on how the energy is purified, received and operated.]
It was strange, Mumu had listened to the class when he was half asleep, but he remembered all of it.
And at the time he didn’t even have any interest in it, but now he could remember it.
‘It was something about dealing with qi.’
Another force which was different from the strength of muscles which he knew of. So, the classification of external and internal energy seemed to have been known. And he found it interesting too.
And it had turned out most of the people here would polish their bodies using it. Im Jong was also using cultivation to heal himself. Even Hwang Won who had fainted had the same strength without training their muscles.
‘Another form of strength?’
It was interesting training. Of course, he didn’t think that it would make him stronger than muscle training. At least till now he didn’t meet anyone who was so strong.
Mumu couldn’t even estimate what extent his power would be if the dial turned to One.
‘… why do I keep wearing this?’
Suddenly, Mumu wondered about it. He never doubted it till now. Since he was little, his father told him not to take it off, so he kept it, but there was no need to restrict himself by wearing it.
‘It’s something I need to control by myself.’
If he was worried about him being strong it was fine. Mumu looked at Im Jong. And then went to a corner and sat there.
An attempt to remove the bands on his left wrist.
However, no matter how much force was given, it didn’t fall out. As he tried to pull it out, it tightened more.
‘It hurts. Why is this acting like this?’
He didn’t understand it. The band was not coming off.
Mumu felt weird, and turned the dial on the right hand. He planned on destroying it, so he decided to rotate to 1.
There was a change in his right arm, all the muscles compressed and the blood vessels swelled. Then, the skin on his right arm turned bright red, and steam flowed out.
It was a strange change, although he never turned to 1. But the change was still happening. The glowing skin was turning darker and darker, it was then,
He couldn’t hide his fluster at the moment when the heat flowed. Yet, he was still forced to break it off.
Then, the band around only gave off stronger heat and tightened more.
Mumu clenched his fist to not lose. The muscles on his hand turned black and as he kept putting force on the band, it kept turning hot.
The pain of being torn apart due to the burning of the flesh was transmitted to the body. Ignoring it, he clenched his teeth and raised his strength.
However, it was the foor below him which he was standing on split to the middle, and the surrounding places shook.
He thought it might work and decided to raise the power more.
At that moment, the dial then turned away from 1 to 8 by itself. When that happened, he suddenly felt tired and his breathing turned rough. It was as if he had exhausted all his energy.
Mumu glanced at Im Jong who was still sitting there.
He didn’t understand if it was because of his concentration or if the vibrations on the floor didn’t reach him, but Im Jong didn’t notice what happened.
Mumu took deep breaths and looked at the dials. He tried to break it but it seemed like the bands had won.
‘What the hell is this?’
He couldn’t understand what this strange thing was.
Come to think of it, it was strange that his father, in exile, had found these objects and put them on him.
‘Then was I wearing them from the beginning?’
Mumu looked back on his memories. From the time the needle came out, all the memories in his head were clearer. He thought if he looked back, some answer could be found. But it was strange.
‘… I can’t remember it.’
The first thing he remembered was Yu Yeop-kyung. All he could remember was his father looking at him and mumbling something.
No matter how much he tried, nothing more came to his mind.
‘I was wearing this then too.’
He remembered having these on since he was a child.
‘Who could have put these on me if not my father?’
Mumu stared at them. It was difficult to know how the needle was stuck in his head and even more difficult to know who put these bands on.
‘… was it my real parents?’
Mumu suddenly thought of his real parents who gave birth to him. The more he thought the more curious he was. Why did they throw him, away and put these things on him?
He really didn’t understand it. Did they not want him to be strong?
Was that why they threw him away? All sorts of questions arose.
‘I really want to ask.’
The questions which made him want to meet his real parents. To know the truth.
‘Sigh. I don’t know.’
But there was no way for him to find out.
Mumu went to Im Jong’s side and sat down. As he tried to break the band, he got tired.
His wrist, which had turned numb because of the force, was now starting to hurt. It was a pain that was incomparable to the time when he lowered the dial.
Mumu glanced at Im Jong who was deep in concentration. He was visibly getting better and better.
‘Will the pain ease if I do that too?’
However, he never learned it, so he didn’t know what to do. Mumu, who was about to wake up Im Jong and ask, left him alone.
It was because he remembered that Dan Baek-yeon told them it was dangerous to interrupt someone in the middle of their cultivation.
‘I’ll ask him later.’
Then, all of a sudden the words he had seen on the black ceiling came to his mind. When he read them, his body felt refreshed.
Mumu then closed his eyes and thought of them. Right,
He felt the whole body warming up. A red tint appeared on his body. At the same time, the throbbing pain subsided.
This mysterious phenomenon. Thinking that the pain vanished, Mumu continued to memorize those words.
‘Weaken martial arts… nature…’
As memorized them, Mumu suddenly fell into a state of no-thought. The energy began to gather little by little and settled on his navel.
If anyone saw this, they would have been surprised.
This was because two stages of energy in the upper body and his abdomen formed at the same time. However, Mumu stopped because of a sound.
When he opened his eyes, he saw an old man with a gourd around his waist. The old man clicked his tongue as he looked at Hwang Won who fainted.
Im Jong, who was startled at the presence, got up and greeted this old man,
“Manager Im Jong, greets you, Hang elder.”
Im Jong seemed flustered by it. It was also true that this old man, one called Hang, was the one in charge of the third archive.
‘Oh my. For Elder Hang to come here.’
Someone had to come for sure, but he didn’t think this man would come. Im Jong was at a loss of how to explain the situation.
He wondered what would happen if this man too had the same misunderstanding as Hwang Won had.
Mumu thought to himself.
‘Is he higher than the manager?’
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have seen im Jong like this.
“Elder. I will speak before this situation is misunderstood, we didn’t try to break into the 3rd floor because of our greed…”
At that, the elder Hang moved and told Im Jong.
“You fell from the first basement right?”
To that, Im Jong said.
“T-that is right. If the ground had not caved in, it wouldn’t have happened…”
“The traps had started working and even Master Hwang Won had come in, so this old man was afraid that you and the student might have been in trouble, so we had come down here in a hurry.”
Elder Hang was genuinely surprised.
The best traps were laid in the third basement, created by a member of the Jegal clan who was known to be smart. Yet these people had survived. No, he heard that the two were more than safe.
‘And to defeat Hwang won.’
Hwang Won, the strongest man and the most amazing of the masters. Who would have imagined such a person would have collapsed in such a wretched state?
‘… Is this friend’s martial arts so good?’
Elder Hang was surprised. He knew that Im Jong’s level was similar to the general teachers in the academy.
‘Hmm. Right it can’t be him.’
Elder Hang carefully examined the surroundings. He saw the extent of confrontation from the traces left behind. Elder Hang narrowed his eyes.
‘The foot work is clumsy.’
The traces of broken and dug up floor and the ruthless Wind God Thunder Blow. Running at great speed. Looking at the traces it seemed like each did their best to defeat the other.
‘Hwang Won was pushed to this extent?’
He could feel a sense of impatience in the tracks. And around the foot prints and certain points, he could see there were nearly six dents.
He looked up at the ceiling. The hall technique which should have healed the ceiling hadn’t and the ceiling was still open. Seeing that, elder Hang mumbled,
“No. It can’t be him.”
No matter how he looked at it, Im Jong didn’t have such crude power. And moreover, from the traces, Hwang Won seemed to have been defeated in a single blow, and that was impossible for Im Jong.
‘How am I supposed to explain this?’
Im Jong couldn’t hide his shock when he looked at Elder Hang. He’ll find out when Hwang Won wakes up, but he wasn’t sure if any teacher in the academy would believe that a freshman took down the strongest in the academy.
“It might be difficult to believe…”
And someone interrupted.
“I did it.”
“Yes. Right. He did… shit!”
For a second, Im Jong was shocked. He was wondering how to explain it, but never thought Mumu would intervene.
Elder Hang frowned and turned his head to Mumu. Mumu scratched his head and stood up.
“You… you were that child back then.”
He looked at the kid and remembered. At that time, he knew that this child had parted the lake at the second test in one leap. He felt it was so impressive and because of that he remembered him.
“You know me?”
“Right. I remember you.”
Since he had watched the kid from far, he hadn’t realized it, but seeing him up close something felt strange.
‘This child… he learnt martial arts?’
A very subtle energy, but he still couldn’t feel anything definite. Yet, this child turned Hwang Won into that?
When he was thinking, Mumu approached him.
“Elder, are you in a higher position than manager?”
To that question, the man touched his head and said.
“For the people here, I am.”
Mumu smiled and said.
“Then the story will flow quickly. How are you going to make up for the unfortunate situation we experienced here?”
At the sudden words, both elder Hang and Im Jong frowned.
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