Chung Myung, resting on the eaves of a building from a distance, seemed to be enjoying himself as he spied on the sect leader and merchants.
“So, that’s how he plans on attacking?”
Chung Myung’s eyes, which looked at the sect leader, gleamed.
He didn’t know.
Was the sect leader seeking to push them into the hellfire, or was he giving them one last chance at redemption?
It could be interpreted either way.
However, one thing was certain, Hyun Jong, the sect leader of Mount Hua, wasn’t as simple of a man as he seemed.
‘This is how it should be.’
Didn’t he see it?
The figure of the sect leader, hunched over and trembling in sadness within the dark corridor, clinging to the door he couldn’t open.
He was the one who maintained Mount Hua, even as the burden grew, and the pain tore away at him from the inside out. He carried the collapsed sect on his fragile back without sacrificing his gentleness or dignity.
Chung Myung narrowed his eyes.
‘But that shouldn’t be all.’
He proved his patience. However, that wasn’t the only trait a sect leader should possess.
Of course, that is important too. But Mount Hua… no, there are certain qualities essential to being a successful sect leader in any force.
‘To remain cool-headed and composed.’
That is how a sect leader needs to be.
Although a sect is where martial artists are born, the essence of discipline is remaining calm and keeping a cool head.
Regardless of their original personality, a sect leader must have this trait. For the sake of Mount Hua, you must be able to trust your decisions with all of your mind and body, making decisions while rationally thinking out your course of action.
So, did Hyun Jong have the heart of a sect leader?
Chung Myung, lying down, rested his chin on his hands and slightly raised his body.
The sound of bones breaking in his back.
He immediately grabbed at his waist and fell back down to his original position.
‘I am going to die.’
There wasn’t a single part in his body that felt fine, probably because his body wasn’t trained properly. Even though he was constantly practicing, his body wasn’t recovering quickly enough.
He had calculated that it would be possible to restore his body in a month or two, but the problem was that he would have to endure this pain for those months. He resurrected into the body of a young, weak child and was constantly exhausted to the point of dying, and now he couldn’t even lift his body.
“Ugh… I need to do something about this.”
Chung Myung took a deep breath and shook his head.
His body’s condition could be dealt with later; first, he had to see how this situation resolved itself.
“Did you ask us to delay your repayment?”
Owner Kong frowned subtly.
This was something he didn’t expect. He never underestimated the power of Mount Hua. Dozens of sects emerge and disappear every day. So, he knew that a sect running for a hundred years wouldn’t be an easy target.
Although the situation wasn’t good for Mount Hua, it was still a sect with a long history.
‘Is this all that is left of them?’
He wanted to laugh.
‘Did I overestimate Mount Hua?’
If they had potential, they wouldn’t have arrived at such a desperate situation at all.
“Sect leader. I clearly told you before that there is no way we can delay the payment any longer.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I am not asking owner Kong right now.”
Hyun Jong looked at owner Kong and spoke.
“I am well aware of Hua-Um’s position. This is why I am asking all of you directly now. Even if it’s 100,000 nyang, doesn’t each of you have a different amount to receive?”
“That is true.”
“So, I am personally asking if there is anyone fine with being paid at a later time.”
Owner Kong frowned.
He didn’t understand what the man meant.
“So, you’re saying you can pay back those who can’t afford to delay any longer?”
Owner Kong’s eyes widened.
“Even if Mount Hua isn’t what it used to be, there are still those who are willing to help us. We didn’t get the whole 100,000 nyang, but we might be able to pay back a few of you. With your help, Mount Hua won’t lose its name. So, please. To those who will show mercy in Mount Hua’s current situation, in the name of Mount Hua, I will surely repay you.”
Sect leader swore again, but he had a confident expression now.
Seeing that, Owner Kong had a bitter face.
At that moment, Yu Jong-San, who was watching from the side, cut off Owner Kong’s words. It wasn’t intentional, but Owner Kong stopped talking and frowned.
“So, if we delay the payment date, we will still get the money?”
“Sect leader, let’s be honest now.”
Yu Jong-San continued.
“We all know that Mount Hua may very well collapse tomorrow; the sect’s condition isn’t a secret, nor is it unknown to any of us, even the sect leader should understand. If we trust what you said and postpone the repayment date, doesn’t that mean there is also the risk of your sect collapsing and us receiving nothing?”
“… that is right.”
“Does that make any sense?”
Owner Kong calmed himself. It was true that Yu Jong-San cut his words off, but he was doing a fine job of cornering the old man.
Normally, owner Kong would have soothed the situation, but he didn’t do it this time. He wanted to push the sect leader a little farther.
‘It is finally done.’
Mount Hua’s long history is coming to an end.
It may seem bitter that the once-great Mount Hua sect has ultimately been crushed by the power of money, but it was more meaningful for Owner Kong who had much to gain through this.
“Yes. Sect leader.”
“What should I offer you?”
Hyun Jong shrugged. A calm wind blew in from somewhere, and he smiled.
“There is nothing left of Mount Hua. Now, all that remains of Mount Hua is the honor of supporting Hua-Um down below for many years. All that I have to offer is Mount Hua’s name.”
“If you ask about the risk and what to trust, then this is my answer. The name of Mount Hua. The history of Mount Hua. Wouldn’t that be enough?”
Yu Jong-San went silent.
The name of Mount Hua.
History of Mount Hua.
Right. Such meaningful words. But the people gathered here were merchants. Merchants had no reason to care about name or history, only money. Would it make money or lose money?
But to ask merchants to give him time by offering their name and history as collateral?
Yu Jong-San couldn’t stop his laugh.
“Sect leader, aren’t you being too stubborn?”
“Was it too much to ask?”
Hyun Jong just asked quietly. At the heavy emotions held within his eyes, Yu Jong-San stopped laughing.
“It could be too much.”
But unlike his serious and heavy eyes, the voice which came out of his mouth was soft.
“But I would like to ask for at least this much. I believe in the name of Mount Hua, which has been protecting Shaanxi and the Hua-Um village for hundreds of years, and I know it hasn’t been in vain.”
“Let me ask the other way around. What does Mount Hua mean to you? Do you feel that there is no real value in the name or history of Mount Hua?”
No one could answer it.
Who would dare call the name lightly? Who would dare say its history was meaningless?
Now, only a few traces of the past remained, but no one would take the name so lightly. Moreover, it will be even more so for those who lived their lives at the foot of Mount Hua.
So, no one was willing to continue the conversation except for one person.
“I feel that our discussion has drifted a bit off-topic.”
Owner Kong spoke. He looked at Hyun Jong. Unlike Hyun Jong’s eyes, his eyes were sharp.
“In summary, those who wish to personally delay the payment date will be repaid later, and those who don’t will receive payment now.”
Owner Kong nodded.
“Ordinarily, this is something that should be opposed in the name of Hua-Um Merchants Association, but I am a man with a sense of propriety, so I will allow it. Anyone who wishes to do so may personally delay their repayment. But!”
He looked back and spoke.
“You must take responsibility for your own actions. The Merchants Association will not provide any help or protection to those who delay the reimbursement date. Even if they lose their money.”
A subtle pressure.
“You may choose. Those who will be paid now stand here, and those who are fine with delayed payment, go over there.”
Owner Kong pointed to the other side.
“Is that all? Sect leader?”
“Although I disagree, I shall respect the sect leader’s thoughts until the end. Although Mount Hua doesn’t have much time left, it is still worthy of at least this much respect.”
Hyun Jong nodded his head.
“Thank you for this.”
Owner Kong frowned without realizing it. Despite his provocation, Hyun Jong didn’t change.
‘I’ll break that composure of yours.’
Owner Kong, who thought that, said.
“How is it? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can delay their repayment?”
Owner Kong pointed behind himself. Hyun Jong looked to see the merchants. All those who met Hyun Jong’s eyes turned their heads and looked down to avoid his gaze.
“Do you need more time?”
Hyun Jong didn’t answer and closed his eyes.
“No matter how long you wait, nothing will change. No one will give up so much money because of the name of Mount Hua, which faded long ago. So, let’s stop this sect leader. Step down now. you have done enough.”
Owner Kong was intoxicated with the sense of victory.
“Now, with this….”
It was at that moment.
He could hear footsteps behind him. Unknowingly, he turned back and looked.
“… Owner Yu?”
Yu Jong-San was walking to the other side with a sour expression.
He placed himself alone in the area designated for those fine with receiving delayed payments.
“What the hell….”
Seeing the absurd expression on Owner Kong, Yu Jong-San sighed.
“… look here. Owner Yu. What are you thinking!”
Kong Mun-Yeon’s furious bellow spread sharply in all directions.
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