“Has there been any news from Soheng?”
“… no news yet.”
Wei Lishan let out a low sigh; despondent, his face seemed to have lost all its vitality.
“Gate leader. You need to be patient a little while longer.”
“… I know. I know, but….”
Seeing Wei Lishan struggle to find words to express himself, the other person, Yeom Pyeong, sighed.
‘He can’t even relax properly.’
The Path’s Edge training hall has no desire to coexist with Huayoung Gate. They’ve constantly been arguing since the training hall opened. Now, even after defeating Huayoung’s leader, Path’s Edge is unsatisfied and has been demanding that Huayoung Gate leave and never return.
It’s incredibly heavy-handed, excessive treatment.
However, Huayoung Gate lacked the strength to complain about such abusive acts.
Kangho is a world where the strong prey upon the weak. Those who lack power cannot retaliate against the strong. Despite living in the Kangho their entire lives, they were only now understanding this heartbreaking reality.
“Did you say that Wudang’s disciples have arrived?”
“Not yet. But given the time, they should arrive soon.”
“Right…. Cough! Cough!”
“Are you alright? Gate leader!?”
“… I’m fine.”
“You are seriously injured. Please lie down.”
That was how Wei Lishan responded, but he and Yeom Pyong both knew that this was a dire situation where the gate leader couldn’t afford to simply lie down and rest.
If the Wudang sect’s disciples arrive, they will immediately be kicked out of their homes. How could Wei Lishan bear to lie down and rest when Huayoung Gate, which had taken care of him for his entire life, was about to be forcibly disbanded.
“What about the disciples?”
“… they seem agitated.”
“I’m sure they are. Right… they must be…”
A low sigh escaped Wei Lishan’s mouth.
Even though he heard the disciples were agitated, he couldn’t blame them at all. Despite the looming threat of confrontation with the Wudang, the disciples were all still maintaining their posts and guarding the sect.
‘I haven’t lived in vain.’
This loyalty alone felt rewarding enough for Wei Lishan.
Yeom Pyong sighed after calling out.
Yeom Pyong is the great disciple of Wei Lishan. He had followed Wei Lishan for a long time, and they led Huayoung Gate together; but now, they were struggling and unable to find any other solutions.
“… Gate leader. Why don’t we talk to the Path’s End leader again?”
“It’s no use.”
Wei Lishan shook his head.
“If there was anything else that they wanted, we may have been able to resolve this through conversation. But their only desire is to drive us out of Nanyang. What could we even hope to accomplish by trying to negotiate with them? There’s only one thing they want, our goals run parallel to each other but they never cross or intersect.”
“Are you saying that we have to bear this happening before our eyes?”
“… The main sect’s answer will come soon.”
Yeom Pyong’s face contorted.
Wei Lishan was a smart and reasonable man, but his judgment would cloud over whenever Mount Hua’s name entered the picture.
This was Wei Lishan’s disease.
“Our opponent is the Wudang sect. Even though Mount Hua has begun to make a name for itself recently, the Wudang sect is an unparalleled giant. How could Mount Hua help us?”
“It would be nice if they sent help; but if Mount Hua had any understanding of the situation, they wouldn’t intervene. Would any good come from clashing with the Wudang? Gate leader, you need to be rational. There’s no one coming to help us. This is something we need to deal with ourselves.”
Wei Lishan stared at Yeom Pyong.
He knew that this man wasn’t wrong.
“That’s why I told you to stop sending money to Mount Hua. Why put so much effort into something that won’t help when needed? Would this have happened if you’d sent that to Wudang or Shaolin instead?”
He was right.
Still, Wei Lishan couldn’t agree.
“We are Mount Hua.”
Yeom Pyong stayed silent.
“Our roots aren’t something we can abandon; they must never be thrown away. Do you think it would be better to deny our heritage and cast aside Mount Hua’s name?”
“If we did that, it would be the same no matter where we go. If the Wudang sect loses their name, we would abandon the Wudang; and if the Shaolin sect’s influence declines, then we’d abandon them as well. No, absolutely not! I don’t want to live like that.”
“No one knows…”
“I don’t need anyone to know. I will protect what I have to protect.”
Yeom Pyong sighed.
He was frustrated and felt stifled.
‘This is why he’s the leader.’
After all, the reason for Yeom Pyong’s nagging was because he respected this man. If Wei Lishan was the sort of man that would easily cast Mount Hua aside, then Yeom Pyong would have never respected him this much.
“And I believe.”
“Mount Hua will not forsake us.”
Yeom Pyong shook his head.
“Gate leader, it’s not a matter of sincerity or intent, it’s a matter of ability. Is Mount Hua capable of dealing with the Wudang sect?”
“… There are times when the heart is enough on its own.”
Yeom Pyong was about to respond when…
Knock knock knock!
Someone was knocking on the door.
Wei Lishan and Yeom Pyong’s faces quickly hardened. They had locked the gates and refused to see any visitors. Nevertheless, if someone was knocking on the gate, then it meant that they had business with them.
At this time, the only one who had any business here was…
“Gate leader Wei! Are you there? I have matters to discuss with you, come out!”
Yeom Pyong’s face contorted.
It was the leader of Path’s Edge training hall’s voice.
‘Damn it, already!?’
They wouldn’t have come here without reason. So, he must have brought the Wudang disciples with him.
“What do we do? Gate leader?”
“Do we have any choice?”
Wei Lishan sighed.
“I have to go out. He came here to see me, if I don’t go, they’ll think that I’m a coward.”
Wei Lishan was trembling as he rose from the bed.
“What is it?”
“You obviously know why I’m here. As I said, I’m here to discuss matters with you.”
Watching the leader of the Path’s Edge pushing his way inside like a boar made it hard to believe that he was really a disciple of Wudang once.
At least anyone who studied Taoism shouldn’t behave like this.
“I have nothing more to say.”
“You have nothing to say!? If you’ve lost the battle, you are supposed to leave Nanyang. What are you still doing here?”
“What law says that we need to leave just because we lost a match?”
“There’s no such thing! But don’t you have any pride?”
Wei Lishan sighed.
There was no law that said one needed to leave after a lost match. Unless, of course, they had bet on the outcome.
However, if the situation had escalated into a battle between two sects, it was an unwritten rule that the defeated would leave without a word.
No, to be precise, it would be more accurate to say that the losing side lacked the strength to hold out against the victor.
The leader’s ability is the metric by which a sect is measured. How could a sect survive after it’s been clearly revealed which side is superior? Isn’t it obvious that new recruits would choose to become disciples of the stronger sect?
“I have nothing to say. Please leave.”
“No, I don’t think that I will.”
The eyes of the Path’s Edge leader shone.
“Will you only come to your senses after blood has been drawn?”
As the atmosphere suddenly turned heavy, one of the men watching from the back slowly walked forward.
“Training hall leader, let me speak for you.”
“Ah, you? This is such a trivial thing….”
“Then, I am grateful!”
It was a completely different and very polite attitude compared to how the Path’s Edge leader dealt with Wei Lishan. Naturally, Wei Lishan’s eyes focused on the man that stepped forward.
A black robe.
A prestige that made the training hall leader bow.
Embroidered on his chest was the shape of a pine tree, symbolizing wealth and indicating this man’s identity. There are many sects in the world, but there was only one that engraved a pine tree on their chests.
‘A Wudang sect disciple.’
The man who came forward bowed.
“Nice to meet you, I am Jin Hyeon, a second-class disciple of Wudang.”
It was a dignified gesture and a respectful attitude. If they hadn’t met in such a situation, Wei Lishan would have admired this man. But now, behind that modest attitude was a man aiming for Wei Lishan’s downfall.
Wei Lishan observed this man for a moment before going stiff.
“Wait! Did you just say Jin Hyeon?”
“Yes, Gate leader.”
“Then you are… the Indestructible Sword, Jin Hyeon?”
“It’s embarrassing to hear such words.”
Wei Lishan’s face darkened upon learning the man’s identity.
‘The indestructible sword. Today isn’t going to be a good day.’
Jin Hyeon is considered to be one of the best disciples produced by the Wudang sect. The world calls him the Sword Dragon and doesn’t hesitate to praise his abilities.
He’s likely to become the First Sword of the Wudang Sect. Perhaps, in the future, he may be the greatest swordsman in the sect’s history.
The Wudang sect choosing to send Jin Hyeon testified to how seriously they considered this matter.
“I’ve heard about what happened from our training hall leader. You said that you wished to stay in Nanyang?”
Jin Hyeon lightly shook his head.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Despite being soft, his voice carried a powerful weight.
“Nanyang isn’t a large area and if there are two sub-sects in such a small place, problems will only continue to rise. It’s difficult because we would have to share the potential disciples.”
“It’s not as if I don’t understand that. But why must we leave when our sect was here first?”
“It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that these two Gates cannot coexist without harming one another, and Huayoung Gate is the sect that will suffer more damage.”
Jin Hyeon grinned.
“How about this?”
“It’s true that Wudang’s sub-sect recently opened and damaged your reputation, so we will compensate you for it. If you move away from Nanyang, we will bear all the expenses.”
Yeom Pyong, who listened from the side, frowned.
‘Did they think we refused because of money?’
Settling in a new place meant starting over from scratch. Huayoung Gate is a sect belonging to Nanyang. All the disciples are from Nanyang, and all of the sect’s history resides here!
Leaving this place meant throwing everything away and starting from the bottom.
“Thank you for your offer, but….”
Wei Lishan shook his head.
“Huayoung Gate has no intention of doing that.”
JIn Hyeon had a sly smile as if he didn’t appreciate Wei Lishan’s response.
“If you really want to remain in Nanyang, there is one other option.”
Wei Lishan glanced at Jin Hyeon. He was truly hoping that they could find some other way to resolve this situation.
“What could that be?”
“If you wish to stay here… remove the Plum Blossom from your signboard.”
Wei Lishan’s face hardened.
Seeing Wei Lishan’s lack of response, Jin Hyeon leisurely continued.
“The two Gates are compatible, but the main sects aren’t. No matter how faded the color of Mount Hua’s influence is, it remains unacceptable for Wudang’s sub-sect to coexist alongside it.”
Jin Hyeon spoke coldly.
“If you remove Mount Hua’s name, then we will accept Huayoung Gate. If you want, we can even take you under Wudang’s wing. Then both Huayoung Gate and Path’s Edge can get along. Otherwise!”
Jin Hyeon’s words turned sharp, like a dagger stabbing at their eardrums.
“The name of Huayoung Gate will forever disappear from Nanyang.”
The weight of these words felt so much heavier when they were spoken from Jin Hyeon’s mouth.
Seeing Wei Lishan in shock, Jin Hyeon smiled.
“What is your answer?”
Wei Lishan’s lips were trembling.
It was only a short time, but his expression changed innumerable times. As he pondered over and over again, he eventually sighed in lament and spoke.
“We cannot abandon Mount Hua.”
“Even if the day comes when we take down our signboard, we will still be a part of Mount Hua. That isn’t something we can abandon.”
Jin Hyeon shook his head.
“There’s nothing more I can do for you; you’ve refused both options that I’ve given. If you don’t leave within six hours, then we will clear you out ourselves.”
Wei Lishan bit his lip.
“Isn’t this behavior too shameful for a famous sect like Wudang?”
Jin Hyeon said in a cold voice.
“It’s not that Wudang is abusing its fame to do this. Rather, it’s because we do this that Wudang’s name resonates throughout the world. What’s more, we’ve already tried everything we could. You were the one that refused our offers.”
“That’s enough. I have nothing more to say. You have six hours.”
Jin Hyeon then spoke in a quiet voice so that only Wei Lishan could hear him.
“If you’re going to beg for help, I’d search for a better place. Do you think Mount Hua will help Huayoung Gate? Against our Wudang sect?”
Wei Lishan couldn’t say anything.
Jin Hyeon’s face had a wide and demeaning sneer plastered across it.
The Wudang sect is protecting the Path’s Edge training hall and persecuting Huayoung Gate. But Mount Hua was doing nothing to help them.
What had Wei Lishan’s devotion amounted to after all these years?
“Mount Hua doesn’t dare to come. If the Gate leader was a bit wiser….”
At that moment…
“What is he saying? That two-faced bastard?”
Jin Hyeon turned his head toward the muffled voice coming from the back.
“Who are you?”
“Ah, move! Why are you blocking the gate!?”
His sahyungs, who were standing in front of the gate, were pushed away.
And a man came walking through the gap between them.
Before Jin Hyeon could even gather an impression about this sudden stranger, he was struck with words he had never heard before.
“It’s me. You unscrupulous little bitch.”
Jin Hyeon’s mouth fell agape without him realizing it.
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