Chung Myung sat on the floor.
“… I feel like I’m going to die.”
It wasn’t an easy task. Although the garden was small, it was still on a mountain. And rummaging through such a place was far from easy.
Moreover, it felt like he was stealing because he was taking advantage of the dark night to avoid the eyes of the Sasuks.
‘Damn this body!’
He couldn’t adapt to it. In the past, he wouldn’t lose his breath even if he worked continuously for three days and nights. However, this weak, weak body constantly gasped for air!
It was the same when he went down to interrogate the merchant. Going up and down was ten times more difficult than dealing with that guard escort!
Moreover, with his current body, this task wasn’t easy.
Chung Myung took a deep breath and pushed his internal energy into the ground with his hands on the floor.
What was he doing in the middle of the night?
“haah, damn it!”
The warehouse was down there somewhere. But the problem was that he didn’t know where.
There was only one way. He had to check each place individually like this.
Thanks to that, Chung Myung was constantly crawling along the garden pumping out energy, searching for an empty space to find that warehouse.
Something far easier said than done.
Finding it was tough…
“This is like finding a needle in a haystack!”
Chung Myung sighed deeply.
In the past, he could instantly check an entire small mountain with his one hand. However, his current limit required both hands to only shoot a small amount of energy.
“Ugh! I am really dying!”
Moreover, it wasn’t possible to constantly use that much energy. His dantian was too small to even be called one, and it would quickly be depleted. He would have to sit down and cultivate again every time that happened.
‘What if the warehouse doesn’t exist? Am I doing something stupid?’
His body was tired, so he couldn’t keep his mind away from such thoughts. Chung Myung shook his head to blow away the clutter in his mind.
Where there is a will, there is a way.
“It must be here!”
Considering his Sahyung’s nature, along with everything else, the ledgers must be safe and sound. And there was only one way to find it.
It seemed like combing the desert to find a diamond. However, this was more like searching for a boulder on a beach. This hopeful thought was enough to keep pressing forward. How could he fail to find it?
“I am dead!”
“Empty? Well, none of my business.”
No. Hold on a moment.
Chung Myung’s eyes widened. To confirm it, he squeezed out even more energy.
He felt something unusual. An empty space below him. It wasn’t possible to determine if this space was the warehouse or created naturally, like a burrow, as his internal energy was weak.
But he was certain that it was empty.
“Spit it out!”
Chung Myung spat on the floor and stood up. And then he grabbed a pickaxe which was next to him.
“I need to see it with my own eyes to be sure!”
Now it comes down to a battle of guts!
Just digging down five times was enough to make his arms and legs tremble. His back hurt too.
Anyone who learns martial arts would be accustomed to suffering.
However, the pain caused by hard training and battle wounds differs from the pain of solid labor. Unfortunately, Chung Myung wasn’t very accustomed to the pain of labor.
Even if he was used to it, it wasn’t something he could do with a child’s body!
Digging in healthy land is difficult even for a healthy adult man. Besides, there are no tricks you can employ. This was something that could be done solely with strength and perseverance.
Chung Myung spat out the dirt which entered his mouth.
“Come on now. Whether it’s your victory or mine! Let’s see!”
However, it would besmirch the name of the Plum Blossom Sword Saint!
Chung Myung vigorously started sharpening the pickaxe again. If there was space down there, he would find it!
Dig! Dig! Dig! Tak?
Chung Myung quickly lowered himself to the ground. Then he began to peel the soil back with his hands. After digging up the soil, he felt something under his hands.
Chung Myung’s face contorted. It felt strange on his hand, and he could see a crack in the middle; it looked like a brick.
It would be a good sight that a brick was below this place because that meant that something was created.
However, Chung Myung had a different idea.
If this place was Mount Hua’s warehouse, it shouldn’t be so poorly built from common bricks.
‘For now, I should keep going.’
Chung Myung suppressed his disappointment. He wouldn’t be sure until he saw it. The most important thing was to see it with his own eyes.
When the soil was removed, it was revealed that the bricks made a clear pattern. It was night, so he couldn’t see it well, but he could tell that something was underneath it.
Chung Myung carefully grabbed one of the bricks.
As many years had passed, the bricks were firmly attached to one another. He pulled the brick with force, yet he was careful not to break it.
And the brick was slowly pulled free from the others.
Chung Myung carefully pulled out the brick and shoved his face into the hole he had created.
‘Okay, here is….’
Chung Myung raised his head and frowned.
There was nothing down below. All he could see was…
‘No way… ah! A hallway?’
Tightly, he clenched his fists!
He wasn’t wrong. He searched properly and found something. The place he found wasn’t the warehouse but the path which led to it. Due to his lack of internal energy, he couldn’t distinguish between a warehouse or a hallway.
But finding this place meant that he found the path to the warehouse!
The moment Chung Myung raised his head and tried to remove more bricks….
A low sound of footsteps from below
Chung Myung almost screamed in shock as someone was walking through the hallway.
He titled his head back and hurriedly covered the brick he pulled out. But there was a bigger problem.
Some light was leaking through the cracks created from removing bricks. Chung Myung, in a panic, quickly covered the bricks and then laid his body over them as he stifled his breathing.
‘Why now of all times!’
He could get caught. What would he say to the sect leader if he asked how this child found this place?
He couldn’t let himself be caught.
The sound of footsteps walking through the dark hallway gradually grew closer.
‘It has to be Sect Leader!’
His appearance came into view in the dark corridor as he continued his casual pace.
Fortunately, the sect leader passed by where Chung Myung was hidden. But there was no sigh of relief. The sect leader came to a stop a short distance away.
As his eyes got used to the darkness, he could see what was inside through the hole. A large wall could be seen where the sect leader had stopped.
No. Not a wall.
It might seem that way, but it wasn’t a wall. At the end of the long hallway was a door. The sect leader stood still as he looked at it.
‘He knew about this after all.’
Chung Myung had expected him to know.
Apart from the sect leader, there was no way anyone else could know about this place. Likely, this was a secret location passed down through the generations from one sect leader to the next; or maybe he simply discovered it while living in his residence over time.
Rather, how strange would it be if the sect leader didn’t know that this warehouse existed?
This must have been where the books and treasures were kept, right?
It was then.
The sect leader quietly raised his hand and touched the door. He traced the door with his fingertips as if he was feeling something precious.
‘What is he up to?’
An action with no meaning.
However, a somber air around the sect leader made it feel as if this meaningless action carried some purpose.
As he fumbled with the door, he slowly lowered his head and remained in that position for a time.
Only then did Chung Myung realize.
It wasn’t that he was doing something.
It was that he couldn’t do anything.
Chung Myung, who looked at it, bit back his words.
The back of the Great Mount Hua Leader should always be wide and warm. But now, this man’s back was bent like that of a village chief overburdened by his obligations.
A small back that went unseen by anyone else, only within this corridor can he show his weakness; outside, he refuses to allow anyone else to see his meek self.
Chung Myung could feel the old man’s trembling.
Now he understood.
‘He can’t open it.’
Chung Myung bit his lip.
His back hurts. It’s cold and painful.
Mount Hua was collapsing.
Their name was tarnished, and their riches had been lost. Those who used to stand below them were now driving them into a corner and demanding what little they had left. Every day they grew hungrier, and their blades grew sharper.
How desperate would he have been all this time?
How miserable would it have been for this sect leader who couldn’t do anything but watch Mount Hua collapse in his lifetime?
Still, he couldn’t speak of it to anyone. Because he is the sect leader, which the people depended upon. He wasn’t someone who could lay his burdens on them.
Even if everything collapsed, he had to be firm and support the others like a massive tree that dug its roots firmly into the earth.
He was in this place, seeking solace alone amidst the pain and sorrow.
Grasping at the door which held his hopes yet refused to open.
Chung Myung looked at the sect leader’s back. As if trying to engrave that image into his eyes.
The sect leader, who hadn’t moved for a while, raised his head.
He stared at the door intensely, took a deep breath, and then turned around. Slowly making his way back out of the hallway.
Chung Myung held his breath until the sect leader’s presence completely disappeared. And then lifted the brick and slowly jumped in.
He bore witness to something he didn’t want to see.
‘The fault lies with me.’
Not just him; even the others during his time were at fault. The world’s future was important, but the sect’s future, this Mount Hua sect, was important too. It was important to go after the monster that arose, but they should have thought about the children they were leaving behind.
“It isn’t too late now.”
If there was a mistake, he could rectify it. From now, Chung Myung will help to return their lost years.
He turned his head.
“Shall we open this damn door first?”
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