The power of the Eunha Merchant Guild was genuinely shocking.
The people of the Eunha Guild showed that they could stabilize and overhaul the Hua-Um businesses within a short few days. A feat that Mount Hua was unable to do despite using all their disciples.
Thanks to that, a buddha-like smile wouldn’t leave Hyun Young’s face as he strolled around.
Most of the time, that smiling face would lead to…
“Have you eaten?”
Hyun Young patted Chung Myung’s hair with a loving smile more benevolent than anyone else. Honey seemed to drip from his eyes.
“Eat a lot. Eat a lot and go somewhere else to earn more good things.”
“No, I mean, raise Mount Hua’s reputation.”
The third-class disciples were all stunned in shock. Hyun Young, who was normally like a venomous serpent, laughed and stroked someone’s hair.
Chung Myung felt like a sacrificial lamb being fed before the date of its killing.
‘I feel like I’m being trained indirectly.’
Hyun Jong and now even Hyun Young were all smiles. They were so happy that youthful black hair had begun sprouting under the years of gray!
‘They must be quite old.’
Although they looked young for their age, considering that they were distinguished martial artists, they still seemed far too worn and withered. Those who had suffered so much during the prime of their lives now had a massive burden lifted off their shoulders.
Hua-Um settled down, and the elders regained their laughter.
Time began to flow like water.
The disciples of Mount Hua also embraced the flow of time, feeling the stability that came to Mount Hua for the first time in decades.
And while everyone was enjoying such a peaceful life, the third-class disciples were dying.
“Oh, myyyyyyy God!”
The third-class disciples, carrying stones the size of a human body, moved their tired bodies as sweat poured like rain from them. And did push-ups with all kinds of screams.
However, there was one thing that was different. The swearing, which used to be directed at Chun Myung, has been replaced with cries of agony.
“I am dying!”
“You won’t die. You made it this far without dying. Straighten your back!”
“No, I am really going to die…!”
“You just have to do it two more times. Now, this is the last one. Once more! Okay! This is the last one!”
With another push-up somehow completed, one of the disciples gasped and cried.
“A-Are we going to die like this?”
“You aren’t going to die. Nobody has died yet.”
At first, they just started their training because Chung Myung asked them to…well, more like forced them to. They started this training to avoid missing their meals or being beaten.
However, after repeating this for several months, they realized something.
No, it’s not enough to say it works. To be precise, it changed everything. At first, they could only endure this training because of the pill Chung Myung gave them, but now they could feel the effects of their training all throughout their bodies.
First, their lower body was rigid and stable; their swords would no longer waver. Also, their stamina had gone up, and their entire body felt alive and energetic.
Even though they were previously unmotivated, they all had a martial artist’s spirit at the end of the day. Weren’t martial artists the sort of people who would become motivated once they recognized their own growth? They wouldn’t even hesitate to chew a living snake if it meant improving themselves.
Who would complain if all it took to improve their condition was simply lifting some stones?
The screaming voices increased as the training carried on, and over time the disciples, who used to carry bags of sand, were now lifting heavy stones.
The most notable of which was Jo Gul.
Jo Gul lifted a rock twice as large as the others. Seeing that, everyone bit their tongues.
“Is he doing this without using internal qi?”
“Seems like it.”
The way they spoke changed. It was only a few months, but they had all grown a bit taller, and their shoulders widened.
Jo Gul had changed so much that people would blink twice before recognizing him. He used to be on the smaller end of the third-class disciples but was now taller with a solid muscular frame.
Yoon Jong looked at the shocked disciples and smiled.
‘It’s a strange thing.’
When they first started training, Yoon Jong held a lot of worries within his chest.
Basically, Mount Hua’s sword is a swift one. Mount Hua’s sword style was to pressure the opponent through myriad changes based on the speed and tempo of the user.
That’s why Yoon Jong initially thought this training method, of simply increasing strength, would interfere with Mount Hua’s sword arts.
Somehow, their swords seemed twice as sharp since their training began to bear results.
Thanks to that, they achieved a new level of understanding of the sword arts they had been taught.
Viewing their swordsmanship in a different light, they were now learning the Falling Flower Sword.
It was a little tricky, but Yoon Jong was more than satisfied with it.
The Falling Flower Sword and Seven Star Step differed from what they learned before. The deeper they delved, the more mysterious the techniques seemed. They were martial arts which convinced them that they would become stronger once they mastered them.
So, they were all excited.
“Wow, your bodies are getting so big that your swords seem like chopsticks!”
“Hehe. Please! Bring me another sandbag!”
Yoon Jong couldn’t help but feel like the disciples of Mount Hua were becoming more like a den of bandits.
It was indelible to see the fragile disciples gradually turning into hulking muscular beasts.
“Sahyung. It’s time to eat!”
In the past, everyone looked forward to the end of the training, but now they each set their own training plans and push themselves harder, often training overtime on their own.
It was Yoon Jong’s role to manage their plans so that the disciples wouldn’t be overtrained.
“Now, let’s head inside. We should wash up, eat, and get ready for morning practice too.”
“First, finish what you were doing.”
Yoon Jong was looking around and glanced at Jo Gul.
“But where is Chung Myung?”
“He hasn’t been coming to training much lately, right?”
Since the third-class disciples became more motivated to train by themselves, Chung Myung didn’t join in with them as often.
“It’s not like he is sleeping either; he wakes up before anyone else. So where is he even going?”
“How could we even know? Actually, isn’t Chung Myung the busiest person in Mount Hua right now?”
It was true.
After a series of events, Mount Hua was revived. Visitors, who had never come to Mount Hua before, began to frequent the sect, and the businesses recovered from Hua-Um had been re-integrated, so the sect was steadily earning money.
Following that, Mount Hua itself was even being renovated, with maintenance laborers also coming and going constantly.
In the meantime, Chung Myung was moving back and forth between the Eunha Guild and Mount Hua.
“How strong do you think we are?”
Yoon Jong tilted his head.
Strength is relative. In order to know how strong they were now, they had to understand their past strength. But they didn’t really have a standard to measure by.
They only knew that they had gotten stronger, but it was difficult to judge how strong they became since they were all growing together.
“Wouldn’t I be at least twice as strong as my past self?”
“Only twice as strong?”
“I don’t know. It’s a bit abstract. What’s certain is that I’m confident that I could defeat at least three of my former self.”
“That isn’t enough.”
“You know. The conference is coming up.”
At that, Yoon Jong frowned.
“We need to get much stronger.”
Yoon Jong smiled bitterly.
“Let’s ask Chung Myung to give us some new training.”
Jo Gul resolutely nodded with a sullen expression.
“What do I do now?”
Chung Myung headed towards the mountain’s peak. To become strong, he had to train.
Chung Myung had achieved perfect synchronization between his body and sword in the past. With the memories of his former life, he was able to somewhat reach similar results with his current body, but he hadn’t been able to accomplish perfect body and sword unification like he had in the past.
There was no shortcut here. He must constantly swing his sword to resolve the dissonance felt between body, mind, and sword.
However, the problem was that Chung Myung couldn’t do this in front of others. If he were to train properly in front of others, their entire worldview would be flipped upside-down, and it would draw unnecessary attention to himself.
“Yep, I would rather die than suffer!”
So, he chose to practice in a location beyond the prying eyes of others.
These days, Chung Myung climbs the mountain at dawn, swings his sword on the peak, and then comes down.
‘How am I supposed to do this?’
There was no problem climbing the mountain; the problem was that it wasted a lot of time.
‘I don’t have enough time to spend like this.’
He had to keep an eye on the third-class disciples, manage the businesses down in Hua-Um together with the Eunha Guild, and gently appease the sect’s elders, who sometimes act strangely.
But more importantly, he was sure of one thing.
‘I don’t have the time to relax.’
If he was given 100 years, then Chung Myung would someday enter the realm of the Plum Blossom Sword Saint and naturally become stronger than his past self. As Chung Myung gets stronger, Mount Hua will naturally get stronger too.
But the world isn’t such an easy place.
There are bound to be people who will target Mount Hua; they will do anything to become stronger even without a specific goal in mind. Because a sect that flourishes will be seen as competition to be stifled and snuffed out.
Somewhere down the line, interference will appear, and people will come to pick a fight.
What if he takes his sweet time to train and ends up encountering an enemy he can’t defeat?
Besides, doesn’t Mount Hua already have a lot of enemies?
Chung Myung shook his head.
‘I need to get stronger as soon as possible. I can only handle so much.’
Chung Myung couldn’t afford to neglect his training. He had to climb as quickly as he could. Lying and waiting wouldn’t make him stronger; he would have to clench his teeth and work hard….
Chung Myung narrowed his eyes.
Someone was here.
An uninvited guest appeared at the location Chung Myung had trained for the past month.
‘Who would be here at this time…?’
He cautiously approached the peak and peered at the figure that was wielding their sword in the moonlight.
The tip of the sword drew a smooth line through the night sky.
Soft but powerful. Flashy but elegant.
The sword which rose from the ground embroidered the sky and slowly descended like falling flower petals.
An elegant sword dance.
It was a dark dawn before the sun had even begun to rise. A woman was performing a sword dance under the moonlit night sky.
Her white robe, ebony hair, and silver sword shone in the moonlight.
“Like a moon under a moon….”
Chung Myung was engrossed in her dance.
The mysterious woman’s sword appeared to melt into the moonlight.
Fragile, yet unshakable. The sword seemed like a Plum Blossom. Right. The old sword of Mount Hua.
Chung Myung fell into a bizarre state of fascination.
The ancient sword arts of Mount Hua, which he thought he would never see in this era, were unfolding in front of him.
It wasn’t a question of what swordsmanship they chose to master; it was a question of what it meant to wield the sword at all.
A sharp voice interrupted his concentration as the woman rushed toward him.
The woman quickly appeared in front of Chung Myung and sharply stabbed her sword.
A fierce sword lightly touched Chung Myung’s neck.
Chung Myung sighed lightly, staring blankly at the sword on his neck.
‘I would be better off dead!’
How could he let a child catch him off guard? His reputation as the Plum Blossom Sword Saint is over.
“Who are you? I don’t remember seeing someone like you here before?”
‘That’s what I want to say!’
Who the hell is this woman?
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