“Y-you are back?”
“You worked hard. You should rest a little….”
They were good words. Very good words.
Good words to resolve the awkward atmosphere.
The third-class disciples were desperate, but unfortunately, Chung Myung wasn’t the kind of person who changed his mood to accommodate others.
Rather, he tilted his head to the side.
‘Why is he doing that again?’
‘Something good just happened! Why is he like this again!?’
Chung Myung, whose head was turned, began to speak. Even his voice seemed eerie and distorted.
“You all seem to be in a great mood, aren’t you?”
“Wow, look at everyone resting. Resting after all that trouble. I would have been thinking about going out and swinging a sword one or ten thousand times if it were me. Or maybe, training my body with some weights and running.”
These third-class disciples could cope with all the harshness in the world, but they couldn’t cope with this insubordinate sajae of theirs.
Everyone desperately glanced at Yoon Jong. They were implying that it was up to him, as great sahyung, to save them from this predicament.
‘You only think of me as great sahyung at times like this, you rotten bastards!’
‘Why don’t you show me some respect in peaceful times too!? It’s not normal!’
But what could be done? The truth is that he is the great sahyung.
Yoon Jong began to speak with an awkward smile.
“Why are you so angry? I think we all did well this time.”
Yoon Jong was trying to subtly imply that Chung Myung shouldn’t be so cruel after they finally turned a chain of losses into their first victory, but that bastard didn’t seem to understand Yoon Jong beating around the bush.
Chung Myung stared at the others.
Seeing the madness in his eyes, all of their expressions darkened.
“What amazing people, and now you are gathering to hold a celebration too! Aren’t you supposed to be training instead of wasting time? Train! Have your life goals been achieved just because you won a conference?”
That’s what it was.
That was it.
Chung Myung covered his face and continued to speak.
“When I was a kid! I went to war and got stabbed, and I still got up and trained the next day! Seriously, kids these days, uh….”
‘When did he go to war?’
‘Aren’t we older than him?’
“Isn’t it good enough that we defeated the Southern Edge Sect’s third-class disciples? We should celebrate.”
Yoon Jong decided to rebel and speak out, at least a little. But such rebellion doesn’t always lead to good results, especially against Chung Myung.
“Defeated them? Ah, right. Well said.”
“Just looking at them, weren’t they at least five years younger than all of you? Are you really happy that you beat up those kids?”
“They looked so young; how old could they have been two years ago? You must have been weak as shit to lose to them!”
Chung Myung always knew how to stab where it hurts most.
The excited air in the dorms quickly turned melancholic.
“If the fight went well, I wouldn’t have said anything! But you! You twisted on your own foot and almost fell!”
One of the disciples flinched and looked away.
“How could you miss and strike the shoulder when you were aiming for their head!?”
Another disciple flinched.
“The bastard who lost his cool, declared his victory, and rushed in only to get hit and almost lose!”
Chung Myung, who was speaking loudly, almost as if to yell, waited and took a deep breath before looking up at the ceiling.
“I taught you all wrong. I… sahyungs made no mistake. It’s my fault.”
Jo Gul and Yoon Jong exchanged hesitant looks.
‘What’s wrong with him?’
‘How should I know?’
‘Try to fix it.’
Yoon Jong had a dead look in his eyes as he tried to resolve this situation.
“O-of course, there were some mistakes made. But didn’t it end well? In practice, mistakes happen all the time.”
Yoon Jong was suddenly struck with the ominous feeling that he had said something terribly wrong.
“Then being stabbed and dying on the battlefield is probably just a mistake to you as well, right?”
‘Huhuhu. Is this where I went wrong?’
“You don’t even try to avoid making mistakes when training! It’s natural to make mistakes!? This is what happens when you train with such a weak mental state! All you needed to do was swing the sword properly, and you couldn’t even do that?”
Yoon Jong gave up on stopping this demon anymore.
“And what? Someday you’ll do it properly? Someday?”
Chun Myung smiled brightly.
“When will that day come?”
“I wonder how you manage to drag yourselves out of bed and train each day with that mentality! You’re playing around and treating this conference as just another training session!? Someday you’ll get it right and take it seriously!?”
Jo Gul smiled.
‘Mother. I miss you.’
He would yell at his mother to stop nagging, but now he wanted to apologize to her. Her nagging couldn’t even be considered nagging anymore.
‘Does this bastard have a knife in his mouth?’
How could each word hurt so much?
Chung Myung lowered his voice.
“Don’t be so happy.”
“This was only the first battle. We will have to fight countless times in the future. Right now, this may be a big deal for Sahyungs, but in hindsight, it’s nothing.
The third-class disciples nodded their heads.
“Can I ask one question?”
“If we really train like you say, will we also be able to display such swordsmanship?”
Chung Myung’s face contorted again.
“Sahyungs. You seem to be misunderstanding something.”
“It doesn’t matter what you want; you will have to.”
Chung Myung blinked his eyes.
“Does it make sense for Mount Hua’s disciples to be unable to display Mount Hua’s techniques and make even a single flower bloom? Do you think I’ll sit still and let that happen?”
It was strange.
They were also thinking the same thing, but how can it sound so different depending on who’s saying it?
The third-class disciples, who were filled with motivation to unleash the techniques that Chung Myung had shown, suddenly lost the will to continue.
Their eyes, which were brightly burning like the sun, quickly decayed into a dead and hopeless expression.
“What are you doing?”
Chung Myung directed them with a nod of his chin.
“We need to go. Are you going to skip training today?”
“…Chu–Chung Myung. The time is already….”
“You said you wanted to learn that sword, didn’t you?”
‘No, yes, but….’
‘No, Chung Myung, we aren’t in a hurry to do that. We can do it later.’
“Are you going to come or not?”
The third-class disciples rushed out of the dorm. The dorm that had been buzzing with hope was now void of such optimistic feelings.
Chung Myung watched the disciples rushing out and grinned.
‘I can’t let them get too excited.’
This was just the first step. It was good that this victory instilled confidence in them, but confidence often turned to arrogance.
Real progress would be made when these disciples took their victories and followed them up with continuous training. He felt like he pushed them too much, but…
“I’m only doing this because I want them to grow!”
Chung Myung shrugged his shoulders and began to follow the disciples outside when someone entered the White Plum training hall.
Chung Myung titled his head at the unexpected face.
“What brings you here?”
The eyes of the person trembled.
“If you see your sasuk, you should greet them first… no, such things probably don’t mean anything to you.”
Baek Cheon stared straight at Chung Myung and asked.
“Could you spare a few moments?”
Baek Cheon, climbing up the mountain’s peak, snuck a peek at Chung Myung.
“Ah, my legs.”
Chung Myung looked around and sat on a tree stump. He seemed to perfectly fit the image of an elderly man!
‘That little jerk.’
‘You’re too young to be acting like an old man!’
But there was no way Baek Cheon could point that out.
“Thank you for giving me some time.”
“It is nothing. You are my sasuk.”
Baek Cheon felt glad.
“But what brings you to me? To summon me to this humble place, are you going to attack me?”
Although they didn’t know each other for very long, Chung Myung was aware that Baek Cheon didn’t like him. So, what could he be thinking to ask Chung Myung for his time, as if there was no bad blood between them?
“I saw the battle between you and Jin Geum-Ryong.”
“He already worked quite heavily against you.”
“You were overwhelming.”
“It was nothing.”
Baek Cheon stared at Chung Myung in silence; he slowly opened his mouth after a long period.
“All the sasuks are quite shaken up. At first, it seemed like they were all fine, but now, everything seems complicated.”
That much could be guessed.
As long as they had eyes, they couldn’t deny what Chung Myung did. It was also true that the third-class disciples were noticeably stronger than before.
The second-class disciples were meant to serve as examples and lead the third-class disciples. However, how were they supposed to feel now that the third-class disciples had the potential to become stronger than them?
No, maybe the third-class disciples had already become stronger than them.
“So, what are you trying to say?”
“We want to be strong.”
Baek Cheon looked at Chung Myung with determined eyes.
“I don’t know if you’re aware, but, as your senior, it isn’t easy for me to come and say this.”
“I fully understand.”
Who wouldn’t understand Baek Cheon’s feelings, especially Chung Myung, who had seen Baek Cheon’s struggles for himself?
‘His mind must be a mess right now.’
For the first time, he felt sympathy for Baek Cheon.
“But no matter how much I think about it, this seems like the best choice I can make. It’s not that I don’t believe in my sasuks, but what I can learn from them is different from what you can teach us.”
Chung Myung just looked at Baek Cheon.
“So, you’re here and setting aside your pride because you want me to teach the second-class disciples by myself?
Chung Myung laughed bitterly.
“Why should I do that?”
Maybe it was because of the unexpected response, but Baek Cheon was at a loss for words and stared blankly.
“It’s annoying, and I don’t get anything out of it, so I don’t see why I should agree.”
“… I am your sasuk. Don’t we belong to the same sect?”
“So? Have the second-class disciples been watching and guiding the third-class disciples? Or did you just leave and do your own training?”
Baek Cheon went silent. He had no response. It was true that he had never paid any attention to the third-class disciples’ training.
‘I always assumed that was Un Geom sasuk’s role and left it up to him.’
“But haven’t you already taken control of the third-class disciples’ training?”
“Why do you think that is?”
When Chung Myung asked back, Baek Cheon struggled to respond.
The reason is too simple. It was because the third-class disciples are the same rank as Chung Myung. It was annoying and troublesome now, but if they were raised well, then Chung Myung would be able to live without raising a finger in the future.
Baek Cheon sighed deeply.
“You mean that you want me to bow my head.”
“Ehh. You’re making me look bad. How could I dare think that?”
It was implied that you shouldn’t say it out loud even if you understand.
Baek Cheon hated that he understood what Chung Myung meant.
“… But we are still Mount Hua’s disciples.”
Chung Myung spoke calmly.
“Did you see the third-class disciples training?”
“… I did.”
They seemed barely human by the end, more like stones rolling around.
Just being alive seemed like a great achievement. But Baek Cheon didn’t say anything.
“Do you think I can make the sasuks do that?”
The answer was…
‘He could definitely treat them harshly; the only reason he holds himself back is so that he doesn’t get caught by others’
That’s what Baek Cheon thought, but he’s a smooth talker and knew that he shouldn’t say that out loud.
“It would be difficult since you’re a good person, but I think you’d somehow manage.”
Chung Myung just shrugged.
“But that’s why I can’t do it. I can make it work for the sahyungs, but I can’t do anything for my sasuks. If I do, would the first-class disciples let me continue?”
Baek Cheon looked at Chung Myung.
Chung Myung was pointing out the problems, but he never said it was impossible.
“Then, if all the problems are taken care of, you can make us stronger, right?”
“Haven’t you seen the results with your own eyes?”
Baek Cheon had certainly seen the results.
That was why he was here.
Baek Cheon took a deep breath.
Chung Myung had managed to train the third-class disciples to the point that they could overpower the Southern Edge Sect’s disciples and even defeated Jin Geum-Ryong and the other second-class disciples himself.
Not a single second-class disciple could even touch him.
Baek Cheon bit his lip tightly.
“I will fix that issue.”
“During the training, we won’t be the sasuks. Those who receive guidance will be the disciples, and we will respect you as a teacher.”
Chung Myung looked interested but shook his head while looking at Baek Cheon.
“That won’t be enough.”
“If you curse me after the training, then there is no way out for me.”
Baek Cheon spoke bluntly.
“No, we wouldn’t sink so low….”
“With just one day of training, you’ll change your words. Even the sahyungs were troublesome at first.”
Baek Cheon was at a loss of words.
“T-then what do I do?”
“If you’re going to do it, you need to make it clear.”
Chung Myung snapped his finger.
“If you want to learn, whether it’s time to train or not, you’ll have to bow to me. Then I’ll help. But if that doesn’t work, then I can’t do a thing for you. I need to be able to live here as well, you know.”
Baek Cheon agonized, but not for long.
‘Do I have any pride left?’
It was disgraceful to bow to a sajil. But it was a greater disgrace to be weak. And…
‘I want to be able to display that sword one day.’
The sword that destroyed Jin Gem-Ryong. Mount Hua’s sword was branded deeply into his memory.
Baek Cheon answered firmly.
“From this moment on, you aren’t a sajil for the second-class disciples. Your title may be sajil, but none of the second-class disciples will attempt to use that against you. I guarantee it with my name on the line.”
A happy smile crept onto Chung Myung’s lips.
He was thinking about how he could catch these idiots, but they jumped into the net with their own feet.
“Are you sure?”
“Alright. Then everyone will gather and come out tomorrow morning.”
“Ah, no. nothing.’
Baek Cheon would only realize later on what a grave mistake he had made.
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