The Tao wasn’t just a pursuit.
Just as plum trees endure a long and cold winter only to finally bloom beautiful flowers, pursuing the Tao requires persistent patience.
Therefore, Yoon Jong was being patient.
That was the true Tao.
“You are thinking, right?”
Young Jong raised his head slowly.
The Baek disciples had surrounded him with their eyes looking like blades.
Such cruel eyes.
Their eyes rebuked the sin he had committed.
He saw Jo Gul, who was between the Baek and Chung disciples. Yoon Jong’s cheeks trembled at the sight.
Why are you between them?!
Baek Cheon, who was sitting in the center, crossed his arms and blinked.
“Am angry, I!”
“The great disciple of the Chung disciples surrendered from a spar? And did he even swing his sword even once?”
Yoon Jong looked around the room with an unhappy expression. But the Baek disciples growled as if they had no intention of listening to him.
“H-he walked out.”
“Acting cocky because he had sharpened his skills these days.”
“A disciple of Mount Hua surrenders? Surrenders? Break the fucking head of this devil!”
Yoon Jong closed his eyes tightly.
It was like a circle of curses was surrounding him, where the smell of prey lingered.
But wasn’t this embarrassing?
“How dare you speak!”
“Yah! Why did you surrender? Why won’t you answer?”
“Can’t open that mouth! Huh?”
If it was fine to get angry, but if you are going to group up like this, shouldn’t I be given some leeway?
Should I speak or not…
And Jo Gul, stop snuggling with them!
Then Baek Cheon took a deep breath as he spoke,
“There are so many people watching, and a disciple of Mount Hua surrenders. What will the people think of Mount Hua!”
“It is such a huge problem because of the people here! Does it make sense for a sahyung to surrender to a sajae?! Isn’t it like our sect runs backward?! At least you should have swung the sword a little! Swing and lose!”
In the end, Yoon Jong couldn’t stand it and spoke, feeling unfairly treated.
“… isn’t that something that people will see?”
Although the Baek disciples were glaring, he confidently spoke,
“Sasuk is right! I cannot help but surrender! You were requesting me to die! I had to show my will even if sahyung cannot see my intention.”
Baek Cheon tilted his head,
“Then why did you do that?”
“That bastard doesn’t even care that I am his sahyung! He will start from my head and break me down to my toes regardless of the position! That bastard shouldn’t even be in Mount Hua! Isn’t he the kind of guy who will hit everyone regardless of their money or strength?”
“Would such a person even consider me as his sahyung? Think rationally! If he were to beat people in moderation, I would swing my sword. He is someone who will make me go insane with the number of times he hits me, right?”
Yoon Jong spoke confidently,
“Among everyone here, only those who will say they will fight with Chung Myung despite getting their heads broken and not surrendering should speak to me!”
At those words, the Baek disciples all turned their eyes away.
They didn’t want to say it, but in fact, no sane person who knew Chung Myung would want to fight with him.
A look of pride flashed across Yoon Jong’s face. This was logic that everyone would admit…
Uh? Jo Gul?
Why are you standing on the other side of me?
Baek Cheon, who was listening to it, looked at Yoon Jong and nodded,
“Yes. You are right.”
“Aren’t you letting him off too easily?”
The Baek disciples didn’t like it, but Baek Cheon frowned and pressed down their dissatisfaction.
“I fully understand what you are saying.”
Yoon Jong looked moved at those words. As expected, Baek Cheon was a person who could be reasoned with… even if he was from Mount Hua.
“But you know.”
“No matter how much I think about it, the choice you made was a mistake…”
“Even if we understand, will he understand?”
Baek Cheon pointed with his chin. Yoon Jong, who turned at the gesture, finally looked at him.
The image of Chung Myung, who was bringing money from the gambling table and walking towards them with a subtle smile on his lips.
The Baek disciples, who looked at Chung Myung approaching, slowly moved back.
Yoon Jong began to tremble.
“What are you all doing?”
Chung Myung squatted next to Yoon Jong, who was kneeling, and placed his hand on Yoon Jong’s shoulder.
“You have a reason, right?”
A cold sweat began to trickle down Yoong Jong’s forehead.
“A reason. Right, it will be there. There is no need to sweat and bleed for nothing in front of an opponent you cannot even beat. Wouldn’t it be better to surrender and conserve stamina?”
Yoon Jong glanced at Chung Myung.
He was smiling too brightly that he couldn’t tell if he was faking it or really smiling. If he thought about it, it is strange that people fail to understand what happens in the mind of a smiling person.
Yoon Jong glanced at Chung Myung and slowly answered,
“… you aren’t being sarcastic, right?”
“Ah. Does sahyung think I would do that?”
I don’t think so.
Thinking about this, this guy doesn’t have the leisurely attitude to make jokes or be sarcastic, he was the kind to jump at the person and break their heads.
“Yes, yes. I thought so too.”
Yoon Jong’s face looked red. Whether his sasuk criticizes him or not, if this one could understand…
But things don’t turn out the way we want, right?
“But you see.”
Chung Myung, who was smiling, continued,
“Then why did you pick up the sword?”
Chung Myung began to stretch his legs in his squatting position and kicked Yoon Jong.
When Yoon Jong bounced on the floor and fell, Chung Myung got up and screamed,
“Why would a person with that reason even bother holding a sword?! If you only want to hold the sword at your convenience, become an official!”
Chung Myung had lost it,
“No! What now? What was that? Reason? You freaking idiot, will you go and talk peace with the Demonic Sect too?”
In a second, Chung Myung turned into a mad dog and began to run for Yoon Jong. The Baek disciples, terrified of what he would do, caught him.
“Chung Mung, calm down!”
“You can do whatever you want in our room later! Calm down for now!”
The Baek disciples, who wanted to crush Yoon Jong until a second ago, were now trying to stop Chung Myung.
“Reason? Rationality? Such a rational man decided to be stuck in the mountains and train his ass off? Huh? Why did this rational bastard even join a sect? You are like a human looking for meat inside of a temple!”
“… you are the one who brought meat into the temple, though.”
Yoon Jong went silent. But his gaze turned to Chung Myung holding a piece of meat jerky in his hand.
Maybe Yoon Jong would have felt a bit embarrassed if Chung Myung didn’t have it currently.
“I am out of my mind!”
After being hit three times by Chung Myung, Baek Cheon, and Yu Yiseol with their words, Yoon Jong bowed his head.
There are times when people surrender. And these bastards don’t even realize that!
“…I will kill you for real.”
Jo Gul, who was trying to help, backed away with those words. And then he heard something,
“Everyone is here?”
Un Geom approached them with a smile,
“I watched the spar.”
With tears in his eyes, Yoon Jong ran to Un Geom. When he was next to Un Geom, Chung Myung growled like a hungry tiger, but he could no longer harass him as he did before.
Seeing Yoon Jong run to him, Un Geom smiled and immediately reached out and grabbed his ear.
“Ack! Sasuk! Sasuk! My ear!”
“You come with me.”
“Ack! My ears will fall out! Ears!”
“Shut it! I cannot even lift my head as I am so embarrassed as the head of the White Plum Blossom boarding house. How dare a great disciple do that! Follow me without another word.”
Everyone stared at Un Geom, who was dragging Yoon Jong by the ear.
“… was sasuk such a person?”
And they heard a mumble.
“Everyone is walking on the same path. Everyone.”
All the disciples sighed in unison.
Walking wasn’t easy. With every step, his wound throbbed.
However, Lee Song-Baek didn’t show such an expression and moved forward. This wasn’t the time to cry. Because the wounds of the Southern Edge Sect disciples, who suffered, were bigger than his.
He sighed, looking around.
It looked like the remnants of defeated soldiers returning back to their homes.
Well, this was expected.
Defeat was something that could not be felt right away. The more time passes, the more the emotions build, and the more one understands what they lost, and with that, the pain would build.
Southern Edge had lost too much in this competition. Maybe to the point of not being able to recover from it.
Lee Song-Baek looked at the sky.
The collapsing sect.
And those left with just despair. All of that weighed heavily on him. Yet he didn’t bow his head.
‘Did you also start from here?’
No, it must have been a more excruciating feeling of despair. But unlike Southern Edge, which had fame and people, Mount Hua was left with nothing.
Yet Chung Myung had led his sect out of this state in just a few years, despite nothing but being surrounded by despair.
‘Can I do it?’
Lee Song-Baek closed his eyes.
He couldn’t dream of doing it in the same explosive manner as Chung Myung, but if Chung Myung could do it in a span of a few years, he wondered if he could get it done in a decade or so.
If he worked hard and tried again.
The long, long way.
The road was so long that everything felt impossible.
‘Can I take such a road?’
At that moment, Lee Song-Baek’s legs faltered, and he staggered.
The sajae next to him reached out and supported him,
“Sahyung, are you fine?”
“Just a little pain, that is all.”
Lee Song-Baek looked at his sajae.
Something he hadn’t heard in a while because his sajaes were reluctant to talk to him all this time. He didn’t know that such a person would even support him when falling.
As Lee Song-Baek nodded, the sajae looked at him with a bit of a humble face and a little hesitation.
“When we go back… to the Southern Edge sect, could you teach me the sword technique you used?”
The sajae hesitated for a moment and said in a low voice,
“It is a little difficult to ask sasuk and elders….”
Lee Song-Baek glanced around. The sajaes were all looking at his side. But those eyes didn’t have contempt like in the past.
“Is that fine? Weren’t you learning the Twelve Movement Snow Flower Technique?”
The sajae scratched his head and said,
“After seeing sahyung and Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon’s spar…. We thought that maybe the Twelve Movement Snow Flower sword technique isn’t the answer.”
“… I see.”
Lee Song-Baek turned his head and looked at where they had left from.
Shaolin was looking far away now.
And there was the man.
‘Disciple Chung Myung.’
Chung Myung opened the path for him. And maybe he opened the path for Southern Edge through that spar.
It wasn’t known if this was intended or not, but…
‘One day, we will meet again.’
Lee Song-Baek would repay the favor he received.
After staring back, he turned his head and looked around with an unwavering gaze.
“Let’s go. When we return to Southern Edge, there is a lot of work to do.”
The steps of Lee Song-Baek leading back to Southern Edge had more strength in them.
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