Ki Mok-Seung stared at the food in front of him with an agitated expression.
Holding his chopsticks, he eventually set them down, unable to eat.
The disciples who were there stole furtive glances at him.
“Is the food not to your liking?”
“It isn’t that the food is poor; I just don’t feel well.”
“You don’t feel well? If the disciples have done anything wrong, please punish us.”
“It isn’t your fault.”
Ki Mok-Seung gently pushed the table away with an irritated face.
“There’s a man I never wanted to see, and someone sharing the same name as him is currently running around.”
The second-class disciple, Lee Song-Baek, asked.
“Are you talking about the Mount Hua disciple?”
Ki Mok-Seung didn’t answer, but everyone knew what this uncomfortable cough meant.
“Elder. I don’t quite understand. What could one small child even do…?”
“Whether or not he’s a child isn’t the problem.”
“It’s a problem that he is a child from Mount Hua.”
The disciples didn’t seem to understand.
What did it mean that a child from Mount Hua is the problem?
They could never comprehend why their superiors held such hostility for Mount Hua.
“Didn’t your sister tell you? Our two sects cannot live under the same sky.”
Ki Mok-Seung was different from these disciples.
He grew up listening to countless stories of Mount Hua. How much Mount Hua had made the Southern Edge Sect suffer, and how they arduously struggled to survive while Mount Hua was thriving.
“It’s disgusting enough that Mount Hua’s disciple dared to confidently stroll into Xian, but he even shares the same name as the Plum Blossom Sword Saint, which I hate the most!”
The disciples exchanged glances between themselves.
‘So, it’s because of that.’
‘The Plum Blossom Sword Saint died over 100 years ago, but he’s still spoken of here.’
‘Mount Hua’s disciples don’t even seem to remember the name of the Plum Blossom Sword Saint, but it seems like we hear his name more than our own ancestors.’
Plum Blossom Sword.
Plum Blossom Sword Saint, Chung Myung.
People of the Southern Edge Sect do not add the word ‘Respected’ when talking about Chung Myung. They would never put such a noble word on that man.
Lee Song-Baek looked at the elder.
Anyone could tell that his elder’s obsession was abnormal, but even so, Ki Mok-Seung was the elder and their mentor.
Normally their elder was very kind and gentle, at least, if no stories of Mount Hua came up.
“Please, don’t let it bother you.”
“Are you telling me not to worry about it?”
Ki Mok-Seung’s eyebrows rose.
“That child is now going around the city saying that he can cure Elder Hwang.”
“Haha. As if that is possi—”
“His condition is improving.”
Lee Song-Baek shut his mouth.
Ki Mok-Seung did not say anything more, but the intelligent Lee Song-Baek understood what was meant.
‘What if that child really cured Elder Hwang?’
‘It would be a mess!’
Elder Hwang is a man with a strict moral code and great values. There was no way that Elder Hwang would fail to repay the favor to Mount Hua, which saved his life. Obviously, that meant that they would do their best to support Mount Hua, both physically and internally too.
‘We have to stop him.’
Lee Song-Baek, who quickly racked his brain, coughed slightly as he opened his mouth.
“Elder, if that child bothers you, why not just drive him out?”
Ki Mok-Seung asked with wide eyes.
“Yes. It would be shameful if the elder went out in person, but aren’t we simple second-class disciples? What’s so wrong with the second-class disciples of the Southern Edge Sect sparring with the third-class disciples of Mount Hua?”
“Well, won’t people spread rumors of us for persecuting a child?”
Lee Song-Baek smiled brightly.
“Who doesn’t know of Mount Hua and Southern Edge Sect’s rivalry? It’s not unusual for either side to be a bit heavy-handed when encountering one another.”
Ki Mok-Seung nodded his head.
“Besides, the Southern Edge and Mount Hua Conference is coming up soon, so it can serve as justification for requesting a spar.”
“I understand what you mean. But I cannot allow it.”
Ki Mok-Seung spoke firmly.
“He is still only a third-class disciple. Targeting a child will only serve to lower our sect’s prestige. How would the rest of the world see it if one of the great sects persecuted a child from a dying sect on the edge of collapse?”
Lee Song-Baek kept silent.
The one who was most worried about the child being here was Ki Mok-Seung. Despite this, it would be difficult to bear any charges should he be implicated in any damage to this young disciple; so, he had to speak in his defense.
However, as a disciple, there is always a way to understand the heart of one’s elders.
“Then, I understand that you will not allow any of your disciples to act against that child. But, if one of your disciples makes a mistake, it would be fine as long as they are properly punished.”
“Of course. I will punish anyone who touches the child.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Ki Mok-Seung is a man of his word. So, it was true that there would be punishment and it would be severe too.
After the punishment, there would be an even greater reward.
“A disciple must follow the words of their mentor. But isn’t it also the duty of a disciple to relieve the mentor’s mind? We will take care of it, so please don’t worry.”
“Ahem. I’ll do that.”
“Yes. Elder. I’ll take my leave now.”
When Ki Mok-Seung nodded without answering, the disciples took a deep bow and left the room.
Ki Mok-Seung looked at the scene and frowned.
‘These kids look down on Mount Hua.’
But he could understand it.
By the time these kids were born, Mount Hua had already fallen. In their minds, Mount Hua was just an old sect with a glorious past.
But Ki Mok-Seung knew.
How strong Mount Hua was in the past.
Although the Southern Edge Sect is influential now, it was hardly spoken of when Ki Mok-Seung was a child. As a child, he saw how inferior his sect was.
In the past, the Southern Edge Sect could barely stand compared to Mount Hua. If Mount Hua hadn’t been destroyed by the remnants of the Demonic Sect, the Southern Edge Sect would have never risen to shine.
‘We must never go back to those days.’
Ki Mok-Seung had a determined face.
“Seeing how that child left Mount Hua and traveled this far, it’s safe to assume that Mount Hua has begun to change and spread its wings once more.”
He thought he trampled the sect enough for it to never stand up again, but it seems like he took Mount Hua too lightly.
“I think I’ll need to speak with the sect leader once this mess is over.”
There was brutality in Ki Mok-Seung’s eyes.
“Isn’t the elder overly sensitive? Sahyung?”
“He’s always like that whenever Mount Hua’s name comes up,”
“Even so. To be wary of a small child. Even though Mount Hua once stood at the peak of the world, isn’t that simply a dying legend now? They’ve already collapsed and begun to fade away.”
“That is true.”
“Even if Mount Hua does return to its former glory, it won’t be able to be on the same level as us.”
Lee Song-Baek smiled.
“I like that spirit, but I also agree with the elder. Mount Hua of the past is by no means easy prey to handle. Even the Southern Edge Sect in that era was unable to stand up to it.”
“Still, the past is the past. In the end, only the strongest survive.”
Go Hwi, the sajae of Lee Song-Baek and second-class disciple, asked.
“But Sahyung, what are you going to do with that child?”
“Shouldn’t we at least send him away?”
Lee Song-Baek said.
It was against Lee Song-Baek’s disposition to target a child, but it was a problem to let the child stay when his presence made the elder uncomfortable.
There was no need for Ki Mok-Seung to touch the child himself; it would be inappropriate for an elder to persecute a child.
“But what was Mount Hua thinking by sending in a child alone? If it was our sect, they would have never allowed a child to go outside the gates at all.”
“The situation of each sect is unique. Couldn’t there be some reason?”
“Hm. For sure, Mount Hua doesn’t seem to be in good condition.”
“How can we know the state of another sect?”
Lee Song-Baek said, and continued,
“We only need to focus on the task at hand. Don’t forget that what we need to do now is take care of the issue causing our elder’s headaches.
“Keep it in mind.”
Lee Song-Baek nodded and thought.
“Now, how do we summon that child….”
“Wait, Sahyung. Over there.”
At those words, the disciples all turned their heads to one side.
“Isn’t he the one?”
“Is that right?”
“Is he coming this way?”
Lee Song-Baek smiled.
He was thinking of how he could call the child here, but he was coming to them with his own two feet?
“So? Should we do this right away?”
“There’s no need to waste time.”
Lee Song-Baek took a step ahead and approached Chung Myung.
“Hello! How are you?”
Chung Myung titled his head when he saw Lee Song-Baek and the others.
Before he could even open his mouth to respond, Lee Song-Baek spoke.
“I am Lee Song-Baek of the Southern Edge Sect. It’s a pleasure to meet a disciple of Mount Hua.”
“Ah. Yes. Hello.”
Chung Myung replied.
Lee Song-Baek patiently smiled.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to see Elder Hwang. I am checking on his condition.”
“Ah. I see.”
Lee Song-Baek smiled.
‘This shameless child.’
Even Ki Mok-Seung couldn’t help elder Hwang at all. So, he didn’t think that this child could do anything. Yet, he brazenly said that he was here for Elder Hwang as if he could treat him.
“If you aren’t busy, would you care for a chat?”
“Yes, well. Okay. About what?”
“Haha. Nothing much. Haven’t Mount Hua and the Southern Edge sect developed over time by sparring with each other since ancient times? Even now, there is an event where the two sects spar with swords and exchange techniques. Do you know about it?”
“Ah, is that so? I didn’t know. It hasn’t been long since I entered Mount Hua.”
“I thought so.”
Lee Song-Baek smiled.
‘If he’d known about our reputation, then he would never raise his head and act so confidently in front of me.’
Even though the name of the Southern Edge Sect had come out, this child’s expression hadn’t changed. No other sect’s disciples would remain so calm.
“Experiencing Mount Hua’s swordplay would be a great help to our training. What do you say? Won’t you give me insight into Mount Hua’s swordsmanship?”
Lee Song-Baek smiled.
He was sure to be refused, but he had other tricks up his sleeve to push him….
“Oh, I see.”
Chung Myung nodded before tilting his head.
“So, you want a fight?”
Lee Song-Baek cleared his voice.
“I wasn’t asking for a fight, but spar—”
“That’s what fighting is.”
Lee Song-Baek’s eyes went blank.
What is with this child?
Seeing that expression, Chung Myung smiled.
“I am fine with a fight anytime. Just don’t regret it.”
A humble declaration.
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