It is the day after Dae Na-chal passed away.
I begin my daily life as the Black Rabbit Union Leader with the utmost diligence. The merit of being a leader is that on days when you don’t want to do anything, you don’t have to do anything.
I will not bully my men, threaten them, or give out any orders today. I wash up as soon as I wake up, and I do absolutely nothing after having breakfast.
As I am determined not to do anything today, I go to the inner courtyard while wearing the union leader’s black robe. The subordinates who have finished their meals in the morning are training under So Gun-pyeong’s eagle eye.
I ignore the greetings from both So Gun-pyeong and my other subordinates.
With my hands behind my back, I just watch the subordinates train without saying a word.
It is a sunny day.
Whenever the wind blows, petals of a flower that I don’t recognize flutter in the air.
For a moment, I look up at some trees planted in the inner courtyard’s outer areas. It is a beautiful tree with flowers blooming in a mix of white and pink.
I don’t know the name of the tree.
I know a lot of technical names of martial arts and tactics, but I always forget the names of flowers and trees. I can’t memorize them at all. Worst comes to worst, I’ll forget the name of a flower even when I see it again mere days later.
The same applies to the flower trees in the inner courtyard of the Black Rabbit Union.
I’m just looking because they are pretty.
As my subordinates keep looking at me as I stand under the flower tree, So Gun-pyeong chides them.
I also look up at the flower tree with concentration on my face.
Many flower petals have dropped on the courtyard floor.
I stroll around, avoiding the petals.
My lackeys resume their training, and I move from place to place as I am greeted by scattered petals whenever the wind blows.
Who planted such a pretty flower in the inner courtyard?
I don’t know who, but they were geniuses.
When my subordinates start to sweat, I sit cross-legged and close my eyes at a spot where the petals are fluttering the most.
I then start my Qi breathing technique.
Not long after, I start becoming stronger. My subordinates, too, are getting stronger as they continue training in physical martial arts.
I pull energy from the Heavenly Pearl, open a new path with enlightenment, circulate the energy throughout my body, and slowly stack it in my dantian.
Some petals flutter and fall on my head.
Over time, I hear So Gun-pyeong holler out several times, and the screams from the subordinates deepen.
Life is pain.
How much time has passed?
The moment I become bored with circulating my Qi, I immediately stop and open my eyes.
It is just in time as my subordinates are also resting on the floor while taking a break. Time seems to have passed.
I get up and pull out Black Hare’s Tooth.
As I draw my saber out of the blue, the eyes of my men widen.
As I hold Black Hare’s Tooth in my hand, I move the sword here and there in the rain of flower petals. The petals fall without any rules, so sometimes the petals are caught by my blade.
A vain and meaningless movement.
But it’s okay.
Everything starts without meaning.
In front of my men, I swing the saber and dance with the petals. I continue to wield the saber even when So Gun-pyeong resumes the training session a while later.
I poke between and through the petals.
Chasing after the petals, I pick them up on the back of my saber. Then, as I slash through the petals that fall, I feel exceptionally lonely as I stand alone with Black Hare’s Tooth.
The petals laugh at me as they wither away.
Life is a series of failures.
So I slash, graze, and hit the petals. They land on my blade, and I repeatedly move my saber through the air.
The wind blows once, causing a small whirlwind to blow from the bottom of the flurry of petals as they fly away.
I pull the scattering petals back to my blade.
The method is simple.
I lightly use the absorption method while holding Black Hare’s Tooth in my hand. The blade, which now has a slightly stronger suction power than the wind, advances as the leader of the petals.
After a while, I hear So Gun-pyeong’s voice addressing my subordinates who have become too distracted.
“Pause. Let’s take a break.”
Now, So Gun-pyeong also sits down with the other subordinates to watch me.
I mix the absorption method with the blade technique, then remove the blade technique and the absorption technique.
I just continue to move joyfully and cheerfully with the fluttering petals.
When I think I have gotten used to the petals’ weight, movement, and the wind to some extent, I begin to cut down the falling petals with the Wood Chicken energy infused into my blade.
Cut the pink petals in half.
Cut the white petals in half.
Using the flying flower petals as I control them with the Sword Wind, I carve letters into the air.
一, 二, 三. (One, Two, Three).
It is easy up to here, but I give up on trying to make Four (四).
Again, I successfully draw the characters for human (人) and heart (心) but give up trying to draw Sky (天) because it is difficult.
My sword technique has not reached the sky yet.
I swing the saber as far as I can.
Then I repeat the stabbing movements.
I stab the petals with the tip of Black Hare’s Tooth, but the petal manages to escape every time.
‘It’s hard to catch a petal.’
The petals are so light that it is hard to triumph over them.
And this kind of stabbing movement does not mesh well with a saber (刀).
I fail dozens of stabs and then place Black Hare’s Tooth back into the sheath. So Gun-pyeong, who is watching, calls out to me.
“Here you go, Leader.”
When I turn around, So Gun-pyeong throws a sword at me.
As soon as I catch the sword that So Gun-pyeong threw at me, I unsheathe it. It is an ordinary long sword that feels much lighter than the heavy Black Hare’s Tooth.
As I wield the sword, I focus and begin to stab the petals.
I start with the Wood Chicken, transitioning to the Fire Chicken before switching to the conceptualization of the Fighting Chicken. When I fail three times in a row, I move lightly without injecting any energy.
Move like a flower petal.
Swirl like the wind.
Sway as if inviting the petals to play.
I stab the center of the falling petals that tilt their heads at me, and all my movements and breathing stop.
A flower petal is stuck at the tip of the sword.
As I lower my sword and look at my men, they are all smiling wordlessly.
I smile too.
If a failing person succeeds, they smile.
I look at the flower tree that has worked hard to scatter petals for me.
“What flower tree is this?”
Perhaps because it is such a ridiculous question, the same answer can be heard from various directions.
“It’s a Plum Blossom Tree.”
I chose a simple name so that I won’t forget the moment I spent stabbing plum trees and flower petals.
“Then, let’s call it the Plum Blossom Sword Technique (梅花劍法).”
So Gun-pyeong asks with curiosity.
“Did you complete a new sword technique on the spot?”
I look at So Gun-pyeong and my other subordinates and say.
“No, it’s just the beginning. I thought it suits the flower petals well, but I’m just getting a feel for it. There’s no completion to martial arts. You’ll improve little by little if you swing your sword repeatedly every day. Try practicing when the petals fall. Instead of a saber, it’s better to use a sword.”
So Gun-pyeong, who uses the Night Blade, asks me.
“Is it hard to use a saber?”
“As long as you don’t use it to stab, it’s doable. But the focus of the process I had in the overall flow involved stabs. Still, it doesn’t matter whether you swing a sword or a saber. What matters most is to swing it every day.”
Feeling hungry, I ask them.
“I’m hungry. Is it time to eat?”
“Yes, it’s already lunch.”
“Let’s go eat.”
So Gun-pyeong looks around and says.
“I’m sure the meal is ready inside. Please head in first.”
I try to enter the hall, but my steps halt in surprise. Sitting at the podium, Hong-shin seems to have been watching the whole time.
“Yes, Big Brother.”
“How dare you steal a glance at my exclusive martial arts. You thieving…”
‘Bitch,’ but I can’t bring myself to say that.
“Plum Blossom Sword Technique? Doesn’t it sound too weak for a sword technique?”
“Should I call it Na-chal Sword Technique?”
“I guess Plum Blossom will go a long way.”
“Let’s just eat.”
Hong-shin looks over at the falling petals before replying.
“I’ll enjoy the view a little longer. Please go ahead.”
As I watch Red Monkey, who looks like she would run off at any minute, I enter the hall.
The meal is already ready.
However, Geum-hae, who is staying for a day like a house guest alongside Hong-shin, is waiting for me in front of the feast.
“You didn’t even spare time away from food to witness my exclusive martial arts, you…”
The word damned pig is about to fly out of my mouth, but it goes back in. Isn’t it natural for a Pig Brother to just watch over the food? The word pig doesn’t escape my mouth.
“Have a meal, Big Brother. We have a whole new set of side dishes today.”
The man who visits the Black Rabbit Union just for the food; that’s Gold Boar.
Anyway, I decided not to bother my subordinates and to leave the disciples alone. I sit down properly at the table and start eating.
Geum-hae asks me while we are eating.
“Is Red Sister not eating?”
I reply with a puzzled look.
“You were the older sibling?”
He nods naturally.
“Then why did you let her slap you so many times?”
“I’ve been thinking about that too, about whether all of this is normal or not. No, this wouldn’t happen in a renowned sect. A junior sister slapping her senior brother? She would be excommunicated. But then again, we’re not a renowned clan, are we? We’re just an Unorthodox Faction. A junior sister to her senior brother in an Unorthodox Faction…? How dare she? I’ll have to give her a good mouthful later. It’s not that I never thought of it, but my internal Qi was stolen by Big Brother. Red Sister has a rather deep internal Qi. This won’t be easy.”
I doze off as I eat.
I wouldn’t have dozed off if I had concentrated on eating, but listening to Geum-hae made me sleepy. I vaguely hear Gold Boar’s voice.
“You must be exhausted.”
“Ah, sorry. Let’s eat.”
While eating, I think of Geum-hae’s words and ask him.
“So, in summary, you like Hong-shin?”
Geum-hae replies with a puzzled look.
“Were you dreaming?”
“Of course not. Who would want a fat guy like me?”
“Are you serious?”
“Do you know how a fat person feels, Big Brother?”
“I’ll know if I’m fat.”
“Then don’t talk over me.”
After a while, I glance at Geum-hae.
“Wow, you sure know how to stuff your face.”
Geum-hae moves his chopsticks even faster, spitting rice grains from his mouth as he replies to me.
“Since Big Brother stole my internal Qi, I should eat to make up for it. That’s the only option.”
“The Fatty’s invincible logic is impeccable. That just means you’re gonna eat regardless.”
“Invincible logic? We haven’t even started. I was born in a family called Gold Mountain Guild. I have bottomless wealth, and I’m the youngest son. I possess both money and martial arts. Imagine if I lose weight. No woman or man across the land would be able to handle it. If I have everything, jealousy and envy will ensue. So I should keep it moderate.”
“You’re the youngest son of a noble family?”
“You seem like the youngest. No wonder you were slapped.”
It hasn’t even been half a day since I decided to do nothing, yet here I am, roasting my brother.
After I finish my meal, I go back to the podium in the inner courtyard. Geum-hae puts down his chopsticks and follows me as if he is suffering from withdrawal symptoms after deciding to lose weight.
I fold my arms as I observe the situation in the inner courtyard for a moment.
Geum-hae, who follows behind me, watches with a blank expression.
“What’s up with your subordinates?”
All my lackeys returning from lunch are waving swords as they try to slash flower petals during their break.
Even So Gun-pyeong and Hong-shin are in the crowd…
So Gun-pyeong has a serious look on his face at the place where the petals are falling the most.
Hong-shin is waving a sword with a flower on her head.
Geum-hae lets out a long sigh.
“The whole group has gone insane.”
I sit down on the platform and look at my insane subordinates with a feeling of bliss under a serious face.
“Good. You’re doing great.”
Gold Boar sits next to me and says.
“They look like the Crazy Rabbit Union (狂卯幇).”
I hum cheerfully while looking at my perfect subordinates and sister.
“In the swaying flowers, I can smell the scent of plum blossoms.” [^n1]
Geum-hae, who has nothing to do, listens next to me, nods a few times, and claps to the beat.
My subordinates, their swords dancing in the petals.
And I sing a song.
The chubby brother applauds to add to the atmosphere.
[^n1]: this is a pun intended to reference the Korean song ‘Your Shampoo Scent in the Flowers’ by Jang Beom June
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