Mount Hua was in a state of turmoil.
Seven days had passed since a third-class disciple had suddenly disappeared from Mount Hua. This was a huge thing.
Of course, when Mount Hua collapsed, there were more than just one or two who escaped at night. But this wasn’t something common anymore.
Thanks to that, the atmosphere in Mount Hua was horrendous.
“… could he have been in some kind of accident?”
“It doesn’t seem like he is going to come back no matter how long we wait. But, I don’t see any reason for him to abandon Mount Hua, right?”
Yoon Jong nodded his head.
Jo Gul had said it. Chung Myung had no reason to leave Mount Hua. If he had even the slightest intention of doing so, then he wouldn’t have given away that pill.
Did he give away such precious medicine just to leave Mount Hua immediately after?
Rather, maybe he gave them poison and left before it could take effect.
“If Chung Myung doesn’t have a reason to abandon the sect, but he still hasn’t come back after all this time… doesn’t that mean something bad happened to him?”
“No matter how hard I try, I just can’t imagine him getting into an accident.”
“Can you imagine it?”
Chung Myung’s smiling face flashed through Jo Gul’s thoughts. Of course, not a warm smile but a wicked one.
‘Ehh. No way.’
Even if he was thrown down a cliff and then an even bigger cliff, Chung Myung would find a way to survive even in hell. It was impossible for him to not come back.
“Then, what happened?”
“It would be nice if it was something which could satisfy the elders. They seem quite angry.”
“Sasuk Un Geom has been summoned to the sect leader’s residence again. I’m worried something bad is going to happen.”
Yoon Jong frowned and turned his side.
‘What the hell is going on with him?’
Even though he thought everything would be fine, Yoon Jong was strangely worried about Chung Myung,
“Isn’t he too arrogant!”
Hyun Jong frowned at the sharp voice.
“It has been seven days and nights already. This is the first time a third-class disciple has been away for such a long time without permission.”
“This isn’t something we can overlook. Now, the sect is finally re-establishing its foundation, what will others think!?”
When the head of finance, Hyun Yeong, raised his voice, everyone nodded. Clearly, this wasn’t something to overlook.
It was then that Hyun Sang, the head of Martial Arts, spoke.
“Now now, calm down, Sahyung.”
“How can I be calm now?”
“Why are you thinking about it like that? What if the child has gotten in some accident? He might need help right now.”
“Accident? What are the odds of an accident happening on Mount Hua? Even if it’s true, he walked out on his own two feet. Does that mean that it’s our mistake?”
“He may have lost his footing….”
Realizing that this possibility made sense, Hyun Yeong immediately closed his mouth.
Mount Hua is indeed a steep mountain. It was common for people to trip and get injured. Even skilled warriors would occasionally get into danger; it wouldn’t be strange if a third-class disciple died.
“Shouldn’t we search the Mountains? If he is injured….”
“Right, we should search.”
Hyun Jong, who was silent, answered with a heavy voice.
“We can certainly not rule out that possibility.”
However, Hyung Yeong didn’t give up.
“Even so, we cannot let this slide. Isn’t this only a problem because a third-class disciple left Mount Hua on his own accord? Why was that child even given permission?”
Hyun Jong’s face slightly hardened.
It was none other than Hyun Jong who gave Chung Myung the authority. Now, Hyun Yeong was saying that the sect leader had given too much freedom to the child.
“There was a reason for that.”
“Reasons exist everywhere. Order can only be kept by following the rules of the sect.”
“Sect leader. This is something that shakes the basis of Mount Hua. Since when did Mount Hua give special privileges to children? He’s not even a great disciple, only a third-class disciple.”
Hearing the heavy and cold voice, Hyun Yeong kept his mouth shut.
If he said anything more, it would cross the line. He also didn’t want to fight with the sect leader.
“… sect leader. I went too far. I didn’t mean to blame you.”
Hyun Jong took a deep breath.
‘What is happening?’
No matter how much he thought about it, he couldn’t understand why Chung Myung would do such a thing. Did he give him too much authority?
‘Did I misjudge that child?’
Un Geom, who silently watched the proceedings, opened his mouth heavily.
“I will call the disciples and organize a search party. We will search through Mount Hua and the village below as well.”
Hyun Jong nodded his head.
“After finding Chung Myung, I will return. It was my mistake to not discipline him properly.”
“How could it be your fault? You aren’t even his mentor.”
“I am the mentor for all the children.”
Hyun Jong, who was about to speak, shook his head and closed his mouth. If he said anything more, it would imply that the dorms were under no one’s guidance.
“It isn’t your fault. It is mine for putting too much trust in that child.”
“Sect leader, it’s not like that.”
“The important thing right now is not to find who is at fault. It won’t be too late to discuss the right from wrongs after finding that child. It would be a pity if we were unable to save him because we wasted too much time here, wouldn’t it?”
Everyone bowed their heads.
Even if there was a mistake, no one could deny Hyun Jong’s heartfelt concern for the disciple.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“Organize a search party with you as the head. We need to provide all the support we can in order to find that child. First, we will find him and then—”
At that moment, a loud voice interrupted the meeting from outside.
Hyun Jong’s forehead twitched.
“I am in a meeting right now—”
“The child is back! Chung Myung is returning!”
Hyun Jong jumped up from his seat; there was a sense of relief which he couldn’t hide on his face.
“How is his condition?”
“Yes. He looks fine. But—”
“Enough. I will go and see for myself!”
There was nothing wrong, which meant there was no accident. Hyun Jong was glad to hear that he was safe.
“Wait, sect leader.”
However, Hyun Yeong didn’t let him leave.
Hyun Yeong glanced around at the people around him and opened his mouth.
“I understand that the sect leader cares for that child. Considering all that he has contributed, it is natural for him to receive such treatment.”
Hyun Jong narrowed his brows.
“What are you trying to say?”
“Sect leader. Do not spoil the child too much.”
“Punishment isn’t only a tool to govern the sect, but also to nurture the people properly. If he isn’t punished appropriately for what he did, then that brat will never realize what he did wrong.”
Hyun Jong sighed.
“You think I don’t know that? Don’t worry. I’m the one who wants to raise him more righteously than anyone else. If the child is safe and well, he will be punished for half a month….”
“That won’t do.”
It was Un Geom who cut in.
“The crime of not returning to Mount Hua is serious. He should be imprisoned for at least half a year.”
“Un Geom, he’s only a child, a third-class disciple.”
“If this was something the second-class disciples did, it would be a year. Please punish Chung Myung appropriately according to the offense committed.”
Hyun Jong closed his eyes tightly.
The position of sect leader doesn’t exist so that he can impose his will on others and decide everything. It was a position that gathered everyone’s opinions to come to a decision.
“… do the others think the same?”
“Sect leader. Don’t hate us. We do treasure the child’s talents, but that’s the reason we are being strict.”
Hyun Jong nodded his head.
Hyun Jong walked outside without loosening his stiff face. All those who were seated stood up as well.
Un Am sighed as he watched this happen.
‘What did you do? You foolish child.’
Only Un Am understood how much Hyun Jong cherished Chung Myung. So, no one except Un Am knew how he was feeling.
They nearly reached the entrance and saw Chung Myung entering the gate.
Un Am and Hyun Jong’s faces were burning up.
No injuries. It was good that Chung Myung was uninjured, but he should have at least been self-reflecting on his sins. Yet, the child’s face showed no signs of regret at all.
Why is he walking tall with straight shoulders and acting so confidently?
Hyun Yeong screamed.
Chung Myung, who noticed so many elders approaching him, tilted his head.
“Where are you all going?”
“You idiot! Where do you think YOU are going?”
“To see the sect leader?”
Hyun Yeong, who was screaming, looked at Chung Myung, who bowed to Hyun Jong.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“Is there a reason why you left Mount Hua?”
“Yes. Sect leader. There were unavoidable circumstances.”
Hyun Jong nodded his head.
“Explain. If your explanation doesn’t convince us, you will be punished accordingly. Mount Hua’s laws are strict.”
Hyun Yeong couldn’t stand being there.
“How dare this third-class disciple be this arrogant! If you can’t give us a proper reason, I guarantee you’ll suffer extreme consequences! Sect leader favors you so much, but this is how you repay his kindness!?”
Chung Myung looked at Hyun Yeong and scratched his head.
“No, it isn’t like—”
“You! Speak properly!”
Firmly, an answer came from behind Chung Myung.
“Don’t behave like that, please.”
Only then did they realize that Chung Myung wasn’t alone.
“Didn’t we receive a letter saying that you had fallen ill?”
Hwang Mun-Yak, who entered the gate, looked at everyone. Then observed the sect leader.
And he bowed.
“It is nice to meet you again, sect leader. How have you been?”
“Elder Hwang. It’s been so long since I last saw you. I heard that you weren’t feeling well; I am glad that you seem to have recovered.”
He pretended to be calm, but Hyun Jong was shocked.
‘H-how is he here?’
Wasn’t it just seven days ago that they received a letter saying he was going to die of some serious disease?
Yet, Elder Hwang was here and looked to be in perfect form. He seemed like he was the same as the last time they met.
“Sect leader. Don’t be so angry. My life was saved thanks to this young disciple. He saved both the Eunha Guild and me too.”
“It is Mount Hua’s grace which looked after Eunha. Which is why I decided to come here and give my thanks in person.”
“… what on earth?”
Everyone looked at Chung Myung.
Chung Myung only grinned and shrugged.
“Well, that’s how it turned out.”
‘Somehow, it only makes me angrier.’
Chung Myung was still the best when it came to pissing off his elders.
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