Dawn of the next day.
“Why are they here?”
‘How am I even supposed to answer that?’
Mount Hua’s third-class disciples trembled as they watched the second-class disciples approaching in the morning light.
Since Mount Hua is located on a high mountain, the morning air is rather cold. A white fog was created as warm breaths were exhaled against the frigid air. Compounded with the second-class disciples marching forward, the sight of it looked like aged warriors heading for the battlefield.
“Are we going to die today?”
“I doubt that would happen.”
Before long, all the second-class disciples came out and lined up across the third-class disciples.
Finally, Baek Cheon slowly walked out and stood at the front.
“Is everyone here?”
Baek Cheon lightly nodded and looked at everyone with a soft gaze before turning his sights to the sky.
‘It can’t be.’
At that moment, the White Plum Blossom dorm door opened, and Chung Myung came out yawning.
“Yawn!! Why is it that I can never get enough sleep?”
‘Then just sleep in!’
‘Why don’t you just skip a day!? How can you complain like that and still train every day? Everyday!’
Chung Myung trudged out and approached Yoon Jong. As if he had been waiting for this, Yoon Jong quickly clung to Chung Myung and asked,
“Chung Myung. Why are they out here?”
“Right. The sasuks!”
Chung Myung reached out and put his arm around Yoon Jong’s shoulder.
“You must have gone through so much trouble.”
“What’s this all of a sudden?”
“I know very well just how hard the sahyungs have suffered and been bullied by the sasuks.”
‘No, they’ve never done that.’
‘If we’ve ever been hit, it was always by you. Why are you suddenly dragging the sasuks into this?’
“But you can relax. From now on, we’ll live in a beautiful world where all people are equal, at least during training.”
“A place where all are equal?”
“Isn’t that what happens in hell?”
‘That sounds plausible?’
Yoon Jong’s face contorted.
‘In the end, he even got the Baek disciples.’
This man’s beastly hands stretch out without end. How long had it been since he first drove the third-class disciples to hell? Now you are saying that he even has the second-class disciples in his hands?
‘What’s going to happen to Mount Hua?’
While Yoon Jong suppressed his rising sadness, Chung Myung went to the center.
“You’ve all worked hard getting here this early in the morning.”
“This instructor is very moved to see everyone ‘voluntarily’ participating in the training like this.”
‘When was the last time you let someone rest from training? Hell is going to have a grand time punishing you!’
The third-class disciples bit their lips, but the second-class disciples surprisingly didn’t show much of a reaction.
“Train hard. If you feel refreshed and rewarded after you’re done, then it can’t be called training. As soon as training ends, you will gasp, curse, and you won’t even have the strength to lift your chopsticks. You need to be prepared to shove your face onto your plate just to eat after experiencing real training.”
What encouraging words.
“There is no gentle path to becoming strong. Pushing harder and harder with your best effort is the only way to become strong. If you trust and follow this instructor, you will become strong. Do you understand?”
Yoon Jong’s face contorted.
‘No, he can’t act like that to the seniors… it will sting him back…!’
It was then!
The loud response from the second-class disciples made the third-class disciples step back in shock.
“What is wrong with them?”
Being taught by someone, a sajil at that, who might be the age of their younger brother, must be embarrassing. But that didn’t seem to bother them at all.
‘It would be a disgrace if we fall behind the third-class disciples!’
It was shameful to receive Chung Myung’s training, but the thought of becoming weaker than all of the third-class disciples was frighteningly shameful.
But it was happening.
The second-class disciples were still stronger for now, but the third-class disciples would likely stand above them in a few years. How would they retain their pride and dignity if they allowed themselves to fall behind their juniors?
‘I can’t allow that to happen.’
‘I’d rather die than see that.’
The eyes of the second-class disciples were bloodshot.
Sometimes a person’s spirit is ignited the most by impure motives. No, to be precise, the more impure, the greater the motivation.
A pure desire for strength alone wouldn’t result in the second-class disciples going this far. Their pride and insecurity pushed their backs and moved their feet forward.
‘I don’t know how. But if we learn from that guy, we might be able to defeat the Southern Edge Sect’s second-class disciples.’
‘No, we can do more than that.’
‘It is better to be looked down on in the sect than to be ridiculed out in the world for being weak.’
‘Look at them.’
As he received the sparkling gazes of the second-class disciples, Chung Myung said,
“This is it!”
They were eyes that craved to learn!
Chung Myung was proud to see the second-class disciples burning with passion for learning while holding back their complaints. It was a refreshing change from the third-class disciples that were always gloomy and bitter.
Of course, the third-class disciples used to be brighter and more optimistic before he arrived, but Chung Myung didn’t think much about such things.
Chung Myung smiled.
“The basics are important in anything. Let’s start with strength training. Sahyungs? What are you doing? You need to teach the seniors how the strength training is done.”
At those words, the rest of the third-class disciples also smiled.
“Ahem. I will do my best.”
The third-class disciples’ eyes were gleaming in madness as if screaming,’ You should get a taste of it too.’
‘You thought this training would be good for you, didn’t you?’
‘If they try it once, their screams will be heard for at least three months.’
‘Their cries will make a wonderful song!’
The third-class disciples bore sinister smiles that made the second-class disciples anxious.
But unexpectedly, there was someone who came forward amid the impending crisis.
Chung Myung tilted his head when he saw the person standing in front of him.
“Learn from the kids over there.”
“No one came to me.”
Chung Myung tilted his head while looking at Yu Yiseol.
“No, why would no one… what are the sahyungs doing?”
The disciples heard Chung Myung and quickly turned away, looking at the dawning sky.
“To feel awkward just because she’s a woman… wait. Wait, come to think of it, why don’t we have any girls in our class? Why do we only have men? There are a lot of women among the Baek disciples.”
Chung Myung turned to Yoon Jong and said,
“No, Sahyung. Did you only accept men as disciples for our class? That’s why our dorm is so dark and gloomy.”
Yoon Jong looked at Chung Myung and spoke with an expression that seemed as if he would cry tears of blood at any moment.
“There are some subjects in the world that shouldn’t be touched.”
Chung Myung looked at Yoon Jong for a long time and bowed his head.
“I was wrong. I apologize. Please forgive me.”
“… be careful from now.”
After apologizing, he looked at Yu Yiseol.
“I won’t think of you as a woman.”
“That’s what I was hoping for.”
“Even if you cry, I won’t go easy.”
“That won’t happen.”
“Promise me one thing instead.”
“If I endure this, will you teach me how to make the plum blossoms bloom on my sword?”
“Everyone is saying such strange things.”
Chung Myung spoke with a stiff face.
“If sahyungs and sasuks are the disciples of Mount Hua, you shouldn’t be aiming to make plum blossoms. That’s just a part of the process. What you should be aiming for is completion.”
“Well, right. Then…”
Chung Myung shrugged.
“First, let’s build the foundation for enlightenment. Let’s go!”
Seeing the second-class disciples moving, Chung Myung smiled wickedly.
‘In the past, I only cared about my own skills and didn’t pay attention to my sajaes or sahyungs.’
Back then, Chung Myung took it for granted, but not now. Had he not realized it at the end? After all, Mount Hua’s opponent wasn’t just one strong man but an entire sect.
There were limits to what could be done alone.
What if one day they become strong enough to support Chung Myung?
“Kuhahaha. It’ll be done. A strong team, and then I’ll draw plum blossoms on the heads of the Shaolin.”
The disciples of Mount Hua, who thought they heard something they shouldn’t have, decided to close their ears and turn their heads.
Un Geom let out a pleasant sigh as he looked at the disciples of Mount Hua immersed in training.
‘Now it’s the Baek disciples?’
‘Well, this was bound to happen. After what they had seen, they must have had some complex feelings.’
Un Geom remembered the conversation he had with the sect leader yesterday.
- Leave him alone.
The sect leader continued.
- He is a child that we cannot restrain regardless. Interfering with that child may instead hinder his path and get in the way of what he has planned. We’re old. What we must do is make sure that the children are able to grow and shine in the future. So, we’ll leave it at that. That child is on the path of Dao, so I believe that he will never lead the others down the wrong path.
Hyun Jong believed that Un Geom shouldn’t poke around and make the child wary or question his intent for no reason.
Un Geom also agreed to it.
Chung Myung’s plum blossoms, incomprehensible skills, and unknown origins obscured the child in many mysteries. There were numerous questions, but Un Geom didn’t want to ask.
‘Path of Dao.’
The path of the Dao is to go with the flow and embrace what may come.
There was no reason why Chung Myung couldn’t have his way as long as he was a disciple of Mount Hua.
The path of a Dao is known to be large.
‘Should I learn it too?’
After observing the children for a long time, Un Geom slowly turned away with a bitter smile.
‘I’m being greedy.’
Even if he could become stronger, Un Geom knew that it would be better for him to focus on his current task. He was already old now; it would be difficult to try and become stronger.
It was fortunate that the Baek disciples were still young enough to learn.
‘But I cannot just stay still and watch.’
How can he be lazy when the children are trying so hard? Even if he left teaching to Chung Myung, he should help teach them as much as he can.
“Mount Hua will grow stronger.”
‘The Southern Edge Sect isn’t the end.’
Mount Hua had changed since Chung Myung arrived. Un Geom also recently realized that he was being pulled into that flow.
Now, the atmosphere of the elders had begun to change.
At least these children shouldn’t be burdened. He had to do everything to help them.
When the day comes that those children complete their martial arts path, the world will see the second coming of Mount Hua.
It was a far-off goal.
Un Geom turned his head slowly.
“Straighten your back and practice! Waist too! If you still have strength to breath, then you shouldn’t have a problem training! What? It’s fine! It’s fine! You won’t die from this! Have you ever heard of anyone dying from training? Just train!”
Un Geom trembled.
“Enough? Enough? Aigoo. Are you really saying that? Just because you mastered a little bit of martial arts? Maybe we should take a look at those martial arts of yours? Come on! Let’s see if it’s quicker to die from the training or from shame!”
Having seen the third-class disciples rush in to stop Chung Myung and assist with helping the others train, Un Geom stared off into the distant sky.
‘Maybe it isn’t that far-off after all.’
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