“… are you alright?”
“Yes, cough! I am fine.”
“Are you really fine?”
“Really fine, cough! Cough!”
“You don’t look it….”
Hyun Jong’s face creased, looking at Chung Myung. He was speechlessly staring at Chung Myung; he looked withered as if he was just skin stretched over bone with a face that was pale like a ghost.
‘How bad could his health be?’
No matter how he looked at it, this kid seemed to be on the verge of starvation. It was likely that people would think that the other disciples were snatching away his food.
‘He wasn’t like this when he first came here.’
Hyun Jong turned his head and asked Un Am.
“What did the medical practitioner say?”
“That he was out of qi.”
“Yes, they said that excessive training has caused damage to his pure Qi.”
Hyun Jong looked at Chung Myung.
“Child. You practiced until you damaged your pure qi! Why would you do such a thing?”
‘It wasn’t like that.’
Training his ass!
Chung Myung hadn’t properly trained since he entered Mount Hua!
Of course, that’s all the medical practitioner could say. It was true that his fragile body tapped into the pure qi in his body and damaged it. How could a child who just began learning martial arts shatter their qi? Naturally, the only explanation was over-training.
It was a strange misunderstanding, but he decided to go along with it at this time.
“I apologize, sect leader. I just wanted to learn the martial arts of Mount Hua as soon as possible…”
“Huh, this young one is quite good.”
The sect leader nodded his head as if he began to like Chung Myung even more.
Chung Myung didn’t lie! It was true at heart!
“Eating quickly will spoil the stomach. What are we to do now that you are sick?”
“Be more careful, child.”
Hyun Jong smiled in satisfaction.
The child in front of him was Mount Hua’s good luck charm, and he was a devoted disciple to the core.
“Right. Did you enjoy the tea?”
“I don’t really enjoy it.’
Chung Myung shrugged it off.
‘Maybe I would enjoy alcohol.’
The tea was too strong for Chung Myung. Unlike alcohol which stimulated the throat, tea was just grassy water.
Even his Sahyung couldn’t understand why Chung Myung loved alcohol so much.
‘Is there a law that all sect leaders of Mount Hua should enjoy tea?’
In the past, too, the sect leaders loved tea. And in Chung Myung’s eyes, the long tradition of people liking it was unusual.
Sect leader carefully handed the tea to Chung Myung, and he took it with both hands.
“It is a pity you don’t enjoy it, but please taste this tea.”
Chung Myung quickly drank the tea in one gulp without even appreciating the fragrance.
There was a greater pleasure in enjoying the aroma of tea, but to Chung Myung, tea didn’t seem like anything more than hot water.
Hyun Jong looked at Chung Myung with a sad face as he put down the teacup.
“How was it?”
There was a subtle disappointment in the sect leader’s face, but Chung Myung was being honest.
Hyun Jong decided to blow away the awkwardness by coughing, as his expression gently relaxed.
“I have called you here to reward you for your recent achievements. Thanks to you, Mount Hua was able to get out of this crisis. You did an amazing job.”
“I haven’t done anything.”
“How could you say that? If it weren’t for you, we would have all been on the streets right now.”
“I just happened to walk past it, and I accidentally stumbled onto that chest.”
“Huhu. What a coincidence.”
Hyung Jong shook his head.
“No, there is no such thing as a coincidence in this world. Everything is the result of a connection.”
Chung Myung nodded his head. Hyun Jong just said it to himself, but it seemed like it was directed at him.
‘I mean, at times he is extremely sharp.’
“Isn’t that right? Un Am?”
“Yes, sect leader. Also, even if it was a coincidence, the contribution made was very significant. Besides, since you weren’t greedy and informed the sect leader right away, how could we dare call your devotion small?”
Hyun Jong touched his beard.
Then he looked at Chung Myung with warm eyes.
“It is only natural to give a reward to the one who made this possible. Mount Hua wishes to reward you. That was why we called you.”
“Yes. Is there anything you want?”
Chung Myung was a little confused.
Was there something he wanted?
“It would be a lie to say that you could give up such wealth with no regrets. If you need, we can even return a suitable sum of wealth.”
“Money is not needed.”
Hyun Jong was a bit shocked.
“You don’t need wealth?”
“Yes. Mount Hua already provides me with food and clothing, even if I take the money, where would I use it? There’s nowhere in Mount Hua to use it.”
Hyun Jong smiled.
‘The way of Dao.’
No matter what, it wasn’t easy to give up on wealth. Just because he can’t spend it now doesn’t mean that he can’t spend it in the future.
Seeing him refuse the wealth, it seemed like he was a child with no greed—a child who was on the path of Dao.
However, Chung Myung’s inner thoughts were very different from the warm interpretation Hyun Jong had of him.
‘How much could you even give me?’
The sect leader’s secret warehouse had become Chung Myung’s personal hideout. Inside there was an amount of wealth that would drive others crazy and drop Hyun Jong’s jaw to the floor.
Chung Myung was already the richest man in Hua-Um. So, he didn’t need some minor wealth given by this sect leader.
“Then what do you want? I could allow you to learn more advanced techniques which aren’t normally allowed.”
“I don’t really want techniques either.”
“… Huh? Is that so?”
“Do you find these techniques meaningless?”
Chung Myung shook his head.
“It isn’t like that. This disciple doesn’t know much, but I think there is meaning in progressing through the martial arts one step at a time in accordance with the techniques passed down by our predecessors.”
Hyun Jong was shocked.
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Didn’t you say that eating too quickly will spoil the stomach?”
“I think the same applies to martial arts. I will learn it slowly and progress.”
“Yes, right. You are absolutely right.”
Hyun Jong nodded his head.
The more they spoke, the more he liked the kid. Has a child who knows nothing of martial arts already started following the path of Dao?
‘Where did he learn all this?’
Hyun Jong couldn’t hide his excitement, but Chung Myung had a different thought.
‘Who is giving whom martial arts! You jerk!’
Still, Chung Myung struggled to determine how he would hand over the rest of the techniques he had left out this time.
It would have been better if he had given it to them all at once. However, the human mind is strange. If you give a man both a gold and silver bar simultaneously, his focus would mostly be on the gold and would think less of the silver.
The same was true with martial arts. If all of them were given at once, would they know the value of each technique?
‘I need to pay attention to every single one of these things. Sahyung, I was wrong, I’m sorry.’
He was sorry that he listened through one ear and let it spill out the other. He should have tried to understand how hard being a sect leader was.
Looking at Mount Hua through the eyes of his Sahyung, Chung Myung could imagine how difficult things were in the past.
Although it was difficult to atone for the dead, Chung Myung vowed to do his best for Mount Hua now.
“It is good that you have no greed, but it will be difficult for me. Then, there must be something you need, right?”
‘Something I need.’
What could Chung Myung need?
First, he could ask for some freedom which would let him move around more. That was more urgent than anything right now.
“Sect leader. I am not lazy when it comes to martial arts.”
“I can see that by looking at you.”
Chung Myung coughed and continued.
“But I think there’s a limit to only learning in this place. I want to see the wide world once in a while. Please give me permission to go down the mountain whenever I want.”
Hyun Jong frowned a little.
“I understand your intentions, but it is against the rules of Mount Hua. Your contribution is great enough, but if we do that, others may complain that we’re giving you preferential treatment. Let me think about it.”
“Yes, Sect leader.”
“Is there anything else?”
Chung Myung, who was worried, opened his eyes wide.
“As you can see, my body isn’t great.”
“Yes, anyone can see that.”
“And the doctor said I damaged my qi.”
“Yes, I’ve heard.”
“So, could you give me vitality pills?”
“… vitality pills?”
“Yes. Mount Hua’s vitality pill. Don’t most sects usually have something like that?”
Hyun Jong laughed.
“Huhuh. Right. Vitality pill. Right. That sounds nice. Is there anything better to supplement the body and return it to its original state?”
“Huhuhu! Right, vitality pill. Right. The merit you put in is certainly enough.”
Hyun Jong looked at Chung Myung.
“Didn’t you say you wanted to go to Hua-Um?”
“Of course, it is against the rules, but considering what you’ve accomplished I can grant you that much. Un Am!”
“Yes, sect leader!”
“In the name of Mount Hua’s sect leader, when disciple Chung Myung wishes to head down to Hua-Um he will not need permission from others.”
“However, Chung Myung, you must keep within Hua-Um. Furthermore, you are directly responsible for your own actions and keeping out of trouble while there. Do you understand?”
Chung Myung asked, tilting his head.
“The vitality pill?”
“Also, be sure not to neglect your training when traveling.”
“Huhuhu. Now then, go.”
“A–no. wait. Sect leader. The vitality—”
“I have high expectations for you! Keep your head high!”
“Take care. Sect leader.”
Hyun Jong smiled as Chung Myung bowed and walked out.
‘What the hell, I’m suffering out here! That stingy old man should just give me some pills!’
Huhuhu, I don’t even have vitality pills for myself; you think I could give one to you, brat?“
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