Hyun Jong narrowed his eyes as he looked at Chung Myung.
However, Chung Myung comfortably received the sharp gaze and had a puppy-like expression.
It had been several decades since he had committed himself to this lifestyle.
At this moment, Hyun Jong’s unshakeable composure, which had never once wavered despite the constant suffering and numerous disasters that brought ruin to Mount Hua, was beginning to crack.
‘Just one hit to the back of his head, I wish for nothing more.’
‘Oh lord in the heavens!’
‘How could you send someone like this to Mount Hua? What sins have I committed to deserve this!?’
It’s been said fortune and failure walk in lockstep, but did that equation really need to apply to this idiot too? Why was it that Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon was Mount Hua’s greatest disaster as well as their greatest blessing? What the hell was that about?
“Kuak. Sect leader. Thank… hahaha!”
Chung Myung couldn’t hold back his laughter and constantly lowered his head, rubbing his chest. As he watched that, the fire inside Hyun Jong kept burning stronger.
‘I’m not doing this because I like you!’
Wasn’t this kid robbing him?
He had robbed Hyun Jong of a chance to dole out treasures in a good way! Straight from the hands of the sect leader, he just stole whatever he wanted!
Hyun Jong couldn’t hide the discomfort on his face and looked at Hyun Young.
“I know, I get it!”
Hyun Jong, who had been tempted to scold Hyun Young, went silent before looking at Chung Myung and speaking.
“… it will not be easy.”
“Ohhh, don’t worry, sect leader! I have the Soul Vitality Pills with me; what is there to worry about!?”
‘Is that bastard doing this on purpose?’
‘Just one hit on the head! Just one! Please!’
Realizing that he was losing composure, Hyun Jong sighed heavily and coughed.
Chung Myung realized that the sect leader’s tone had become serious and corrected his attitude as well.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“I don’t feel comfortable knowing that I keep giving you these difficult and dangerous tasks.”
Chung Myung raised his head and looked at Hyun Jong.
Chung Myung smiled brightly.
“That’s just how it has to be, isn’t that right?”
It was true…
Hyun Jong, who somehow subdued his temper, smiled.
Chung Myung often did something that caused the sect leader’s stomach to churn, and sometimes it was hard to handle, but despite that, Hyun Jong could never bring himself to hate or try to change Chung Myung.
Even that condescending attitude towards others.
Sometimes he behaved like a child even younger than himself, and at other times he felt like a man older than Hyun Jong.
‘Still, the strangeness doesn’t seem to go away.’
How can one person have so many sides?
Hyun Jong let out a laugh and continued.
“Right. You are right. That is true. But there’s nothing more I can do about this.”
“Don’t worry. Aside from the great distance, it won’t be a problem.”
“The Five Palaces Beyond the Great Wall are famous for their eccentric nature, but I heard that the archers of the Nanman Beast Palace are particularly bizarre and harsh to the point where the rules of martial sects do not work.”
“It will be fine.”
Chung Myung smiled.
“Do you have another way?”
“Hehe. You know.”
Chung Myung gently tapped the sword on his waist.
Uh… it was true. That has been the answer to many things since time immemorial.
But they were meant to walk on the path of a Taoist…
Hyun Jong closed his eyes.
If you are going to pursue the Tao, then Chung Myung should never be allowed outside.
Perhaps he understood what Hyun Jong was concerned about because Baek Cheon stood in front of Chung Myung.
“Sect leader. Do not worry too much.”
‘Do you see?’
‘That noble spirit.’
He was looking at Chung Myung, but when he saw Baek Cheon, it felt as though the pain inside was melting away like snow in the spring sun.
“Although they’re called the Nanman Beast Palace, they’re still human, and we can communicate with them. We will try our best to solve this diplomatically as much as possible. If we approach them with sincerity, they—”
“—Will cut our heads off and hang them on pikes!”
“Yes, I will kindly accept—I am talking here, you brat!”
“You’re saying something stupid like that! If everything could be resolved through dialogue, then why would any wars ever break out?”
“Wars happen because of people like you! Because of people like you! As long as there are people in the world like you, they’ll keep happening! Am I wrong? Tell me!”
“Are you trying to make a mess of Mount Hua?”
Hyun Jong shook his head while watching Baek Cheon and Chung Myung.
‘This one sucks too.’
Baek Cheon, who was dedicated to Tao in the past, had been tainted by Chung Myung’s influence.
‘If things are like this, the future of Mount Hua… won’t be all good times.’
The future seemed to be both bright and dark… It felt a bit confusing.
“Ah. Anyway, I will stop this guy from running wild as much as I can, so please trust us.”
Hyun Jong nodded his head heavily.
“Baek Cheon, listen.”
“Yes, sect leader.”
“From now on, you will act on my behalf. What you say in Nanman will be my word, and your will represents the will of Mount Hua.”
He was giving him full power.
Baek Cheon, who recognized the weight of those words, lamented and sighed.
“That’s too heavy, sect leader.”
“You can do it.”
Hyun Jong smiled brightly.
The experience was necessary for the children. Fear was bound to precede situations that were fresh and unfamiliar. Only by pressing forward through the fear and doing the deeds that needed to be done would one’s world begin to expand.
“Then we’ll head off.”
“I will pray for good luck to all.”
Baek Cheon bowed, and the rest of the disciples slowly mirrored the gesture to Hyun Jong before leaving one by one.
The party venturing to Nanman was no different from the one that went to Nanyang.
Baek Cheon, Chung Myung, Yoon Jong, Jo Gul, and Yu Yiseol.
In other words, this party was now the group most trusted by Mount Hua’s senior leadership. Of course, Chung Myung didn’t appropriately fit into the category of trust.
Watching them leave, Hyun Sang spoke with a worried tone.
“Shouldn’t one of us take charge and lead them?”
Hyun Jong also let out a low sigh. He found himself not knowing what to say.
“The previous trip to Nanyang was something we had to send the children to do. But this time is different. It’s too dangerous to send the children to such a rough place without anyone to lead them. Please send me too. I—”
“S-sahyung. Don’t push yourself into it for nothing.”
Hyun Sang looked at Hyun Young, who intervened.
Hyun Young’s expression was calm, but it felt strange.
“What will be different if we go and lead them?”
“You’re so cold-hearted. Wouldn’t it be enough to have an adult with them?”
Hyun Young snorted at it.
“As adults, what did we even do for them till now? Have we given them anything besides a ruined Mount Hua and a ragged signboard?”
Hyun Sang blushed at the retort and loudly coughed. Seeing his reaction, Hyun Young clicked his tongue.
“When old people look at the youth, everything they see causes concern and distrust. But trying to interfere now will only hinder the children’s growth.”
“Since when did you trust the children so much?”
“I don’t trust them. How could I possibly trust them?”
Hyun Young grinned at Hyun Sang’s question.
“I don’t trust them, but I know they are much better than me at the very least.”
Hyun Sang shut his mouth.
Hyun Jong, who listened quietly, also nodded.
“The children in our arms….”
If they were sent away, it was only natural for them to be worried because they only saw them as their children.
However, coddling the children and keeping them in their arms wasn’t the right path for them. Sometimes, they need to be let go and experience adversity and pain in order to grow.
“Mount Hua’s ancestors will protect the children.”
Hyun Jong had no way of knowing that the kid who bullied him was one of the ancestors in a child’s body.
After a while…
“We have a guest! Mount Hua’s people! Don’t ignore me, and bring me a glass of cold water!”
Hyun Young, who was resettling the disorganized sect, turned his head at the loud voice coming from behind.
What kind of guest could it be?
Was anyone supposed to be visiting Mount Hua today?
There was no mention of a guest in their schedule; there wasn’t even a guard posted at the gate today. In the end, Hyun Young went directly to the gate and opened it himself.
Outside the door, a beggar was sitting on the ground.
“Oh, my god! Why is this mountain so steep!? I thought I was going to die on my way up.”
“Who are you?”
The beggar got up from his seat and spoke.
“I am Hong Dae-Kwang from the Beggars Union!”
When the beggar said that, Hyun Young was befuddled.
“C-Can I get a glass of water?”
Hong Dae-Kwang, who guzzled down his cold water, raised his head and smiled.
“Oh my, thank you for looking after me. Sect leader! I am Hong Dae-Kwang, the one in charge of the branch in Luoyang.”
“Huhu. I am the sect leader of Mount Hua, Hyun Jong.”
“Please forgive me for coming here unannounced.”
Hong Dae-Kwang bowed flat on the spot, and Hyun Jong waved his hands in embarrassment.
“Why are you doing this? Please get up.”
At the same time, he realized his status and went silent.
Judging from the knot tied around the beggar’s waist, it was clear that he was a Seven Knot Beggar.
The Beggars Union had a unique way of displaying one’s status based on knots.
Ten meant the leader.
Nine knots are former leaders, and Eight knots are given to former elders.
Seven meant that he was an elder.
And this is a knot tied by each branch leader of the sect or elders.
In other words, Hong Dae-Kwang was a Seven Knot individual who held real power within the Beggars Union. He might be a person aiming for the position of full-fledged elder. How could such a person bow to Hyun Jong?
“But what’s going on?”
“Hahaha. It isn’t anything difficult. I am here as the leader of the newly opened branch in Hua-Um.”
Hyun Jong seemed slightly shocked at what he heard, prompting Hong Dae-Kwang to ask.
“Didn’t Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon tell you?”
“… that child is a bit…”
“Um. Right. I can understand.”
Hong Dae-Kwang, who recalled Chung Myung, immediately understood and nodded. No matter how strange the action, Chung Myung did so many weird things that nothing he did seemed odd anymore.
“Well, we’ve opened a branch down in Hua-Um, and I’m here to greet the elders of Mount Hua.”
“That’s such good news.”
Hyun Jong smiled.
Opening a branch in Hua-Um was tantamount to declaring they would be stealing Mount Hua’s information and collecting data. Rather than feeling reluctant, however, Hyun Jong was quite welcoming of this announcement.
Because they could receive more information from the branch as long as they developed a good relationship.
“So, we’ll see you often in the future. Oh! And at the request of Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon, a few beggars will reside in Nanyang. If there’s anything you want to tell the Huayoung Gate, we can deliver it on your behalf.”
“… you wouldn’t mind?”
“Hahah. Of course, we wouldn’t, sect leader. I will do anything if it means building a good relationship with Mount Hua. And if you need information from us, please let me know. I will give you as much information as I can get.”
“Thank you so much.”
Hong Dae-Kwang swiped his nose at those words.
‘The sect leader seems like a normal person.’
Still, it was relieving to know that there weren’t only crazy people like Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon in Mount Hua. Even though he knew it was impossible, Hong Dae-Kwang felt anxious on his way up.
“I wish you all the best in the future.”
“The same to you.”
With a friendly atmosphere, words of thanks were exchanged.
Then, as if he suddenly remembered, Hong Dae-Kwang asked.
“But… where is Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon? We’ve been through so much, but he isn’t here to see me.”
“Ah… the kids just went out for work.”
“Out for work? It doesn’t seem like it’s been too long since they returned.”
Hong Dae-Kwang titled his head.
“So then, when will they get back?’
“Well… Yunnan is pretty far away.”
“Yu-Yunnan? Do you mean they went to Yunnan? Ah, no! Why did they go so far away after calling someone here! What am I supposed to do now?”
‘Why even bring it up here?’
“W-who would do such a thing!? I’ve done everything he asked me to and even caught the beggar he wanted! But the guy who made me do all this work went off to Yunnan!? When did he leave?”
“Ahhhhhh! Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon! You damned son of a bitch!”
Hong Dae-Kwang charged out.
The door slammed shut, and Hyun Jong’s hair recoiled from the force.
He absent-mindedly stared at the door after the bizarre situation ended before bursting into a dejected laugh.
‘Why are the people Chung Myung brings back always so…ludicrous?’
Hyun Jong couldn’t erase the thought that Mount Hua had taken a step higher and gained another headache at the same time.
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