“Sorry for coming so often; even though I’m not sick, I’ve caused you inconvenience.”
Strangely, I feel like I haven’t seen Moyong Baek in a long time whenever I visit him. I don’t know why.
Moyong Baek observes my expression and says.
“You are welcome anytime. Did I keep you waiting?”
I have been waiting for an hour, but I answer vaguely.
“I’ve only waited for less than 10 minutes.”
Like a fixed routine, Moyong Baek checks my pulse and continues.
“…By the way, it seems like you’re getting stronger every time I see you, Leader.”
This is a rare compliment, so I smile.
“I’m trying to live like that.”
Moyong Baek then says as he withdraws his hand.
“There’s no problem with your body. As I was before, I’m more curious about your mental condition.”
Moyong Baek stares at my expression and gaze. I ramble on about the fire show among the recent events.
“When I see the flames surrounding me in the fight, I blank out for a moment. If I had slipped, I would’ve died in the fire.”
Moyong Baek replies with a thin smile.
“Why is that? I’m not a fortune teller. I’m sure you have a rough idea why.”
I am trying to find the cause, but I just ramble on.
“I had a guest inn named after me, and it was burned down. A feeling of helplessness? I didn’t notice at the time, but the moment my home disappeared, I think I lost hope of living a smooth life.”
“Why is that?”
“Even before it was burned down, I know how my temper is.”
Moyong Baek replies calmly.
“Does that kind of personality prevent you from learning martial arts?”
Immersed in deep thoughts, Moyong Baek then asks me a question.
“How do you feel when you meet an opponent stronger than you? I don’t know if you’ve met someone like that yet.”
I know precisely what Moyong Baek is feeling to ask this question.
“I lose my mind when I meet someone stronger.”
I look at Moyong Baek with a solemn expression.
“I thought I could win if I went berserk. If I’m not as good as my opponent, I have to endure with my madness to win.”
“You mentioned having to endure. Can you elaborate on that?”
“In a fight, everyone ends up suffering. To win, you have to endure the pain; from some point on, you’ll feel like you’ve gone too far. You’re passing out, but you don’t. I have to faint, but I don’t. Somewhere around there, madness pops out from the dark.”
“Are you not afraid? Defeat or death.”
“I’m not afraid of losing. I’ve lost a lot since I was young. And it has made me stronger.”
“What about death?”
It occurred to me when I was trapped in the Heavenly Net. I also thought about it when I was beaten mercilessly by the Crazy Monk. Through numerous defeats and failures, I was not afraid of dying. Perhaps the moment Zaha Inn was set on fire, I had already braced myself to die.
“I don’t think about it when I fight.”
Moyong Baek responds with a stiff expression.
“If it wasn’t fear, then you must have recognized the need to go mad while spacing out looking at the flames.”
“Doesn’t it mean you must be crazy to win and beat the strong people in this world?”
“If you regret the mindset as you watch flames engulfing the inn, you might space out. Is living as a madman the right choice while bracing for death? Or should you have another resolution? Perhaps your life’s meaning comes to mind whenever you look at flames?”
“And what if that’s my goal?”
“Are goals easy to achieve? How strong are you planning to keep growing stronger?”
“Until I become the best in the world.”
Suddenly, Moyong Baek taps the table.
“And how long will it take for the dream to come true?”
“I don’t know.”
“That’s right. You’re well aware. If that’s 10 years from now, it would’ve been ideal to do nothing and focus on amassing Qi for the next 9 years. Is that how you will live on?”
“I have no intention of doing that.”
“Wouldn’t that be too boring? I have to drink, sing, dance, and fight other people. I’m busy.”
“Then you have no choice but to continue living to the fullest every day. And someday, someone will become the best, assuming you’re alive. Everyone has a cunning side. Correction, your dream is not to become the best in the world.”
“Then, what is it?”
“Drinking, singing, and dancing your way to becoming the best in the world sounds more like your dream, Leader.”
I laugh out loud because I find Moyong Baek’s words funny.
“Oh, is that so?”
I calmly reflect in my mind and reply.
“Feels like something is resolved halfway.”
Moyong Baek then says.
“It’s my personal opinion. Why don’t you induce that madness only when you meet a strong opponent? It would be helpful to practice calming your mind daily. Distancing your mindset from when you fight.”
Moyong Baek knows a lot about my mental condition, even though we only met not too long ago. Perhaps Moyong Baek had gone utterly insane in his Poison Demon days. If god were to draw Moyong Baek’s mind, the letter madness is probably curled up in the corner.
I ask Moyong Baek.
“Have you ever felt like you’re losing your mind?”
“Of course I have.”
Moyong Baek replies with a complicated look.
“I often get upset when I see patients I’ve saved who have difficulty changing their attitude when they are fully recovered. Whenever that happens, I feel sick and have to lie down for a few days.”
Moyong Baek understands me, and I understand the Poison Demon Moyong Baek.
Surely this guy went berserk for this reason.
Sharing our deepest weaknesses, we laugh together.
“Doctor Moyong, I have a question. You might think it’s a light question, but I’m asking you seriously.”
“Yes, I’ll consider the question sincerely before asking.”
“What are your thoughts about heroes?”
We have never talked about heroes, even in our days as the Crazy Demon and Poison Demon. Therefore, what Moyong Baek is about to say is a first.
Moyong Baek ponders thoroughly and replies.
“Aren’t heroes fools?”
“If a person who can’t take care of themselves is a fool, then in a larger context, a hero is a fool.”
“People who risk their lives for a good cause are heroes, but nothing is more precious than one’s life. They throw away the most precious thing to set a faithful purpose. You can say they are the biggest fool among fools.”
“What if they’re strong?”
It is a stupid question, but Moyong Baek answers me cleverly.
“In terms of humans in general and not martial arts, are there any other people stronger than them? Heroes are rare in the past and now. The person who beats up the criminal may be a saint, but a hero is not only strong in martial arts but a strong person in general.”
This is the opinion of the Poison Demon of another lifetime. What an impressive response.
“A senior of mine said a hero is stronger than any other master, but I don’t get it.”
“I don’t mean individual fighting skills, but a person’s influence, then a hero is definitely stronger than a Kangho master. Do you doubt this is some kind of martial arts training method?”
“That’s all I have in my head.”
Moyong Baek throws out an unexpected remark.
“Why don’t you give it a shot?”
“Give what a shot?”
“Being a hero. Even if it’s not necessarily life-threatening, anyone with power can do chivalrous deeds. Furthermore, you’re the strongest person I know, so why not?”
I reply with a self-mocking smile.
“A hero, me?”
“Did heroes of the past become heroes after considering their situation, status, origin, and fortune? They only become one after not caring about such things.”
“Can you be a hero too, Doctor?”
“I’ve already set my course as a medical practitioner. Come to think of it, many of the famous clan founders in Kangho are regarded as heroes in their youth. Don’t you think? Looking at their early years and biography, they were called heroes in their young days, retiring to the mountains as they grew old, and later became clan founders by raising a successor. I’ve heard of many past cases. Now that I’ve said this, the thinking that heroes are strong feels different.”
Feeling somehow relieved, I nod.
Observing my expression, Moyong Baek then asks curiously.
“Have you decided already?”
“I’m curious, so please tell me.”
I speak with crossed arms.
“I’m not going to be a hero. It doesn’t fit my character.”
Moyong Baek smiles helplessly as if he didn’t see this coming. I then explain my thinking to Moyong Baek.
“However, if I can find a person with goodwill and a kind heart, I will support them. I can teach them martial arts and provide full financial support.”
I’m seizing money while defeating Unorthodox Factions one by one, so it’s entirely possible.
“If I support them physically and mentally and nurture them into a chivalrous hero, maybe my curiosity will be solved.”
“And you won’t become one yourself?”
“I’m a lot worse than you think, Doctor. So I think I’m more fit to be a villain. I have many bad guys to kill. I will kill those Big Devil (大魔頭) monsters in advance so my future hero disciple will not be beaten to death later. Then it’ll be a little easier for my stupid disciple to do chivalrous stuff.”
Moyong Baek bursts into laughter.
I laugh along with Moyong Baek. Moyong Baek takes a deep breath, nods his head, and says.
“Something in me feels a little relieved. Then I will also support our leader and his future disciple. In that case, I’ll give some help to the foolish hero who will make an appearance in this cruel world.”
“Will you do that?”
“I’d be happy to.”
I look into Moyong Baek’s eyes and nod.
“Let’s do that. I’ll be on the search for the right candidate. To raise a hero to be strong, I’ll train to be stronger in martial arts, and the Doctor can prepare with your medical skills. Let’s raise the world’s most powerful idiot.”
Moyong Baek says with a smile.
“Leader, not an idiot but a hero.”
“Now that I think about it, it would be difficult for a smart, overthinking guy to be a hero.”
“That’s how a fool and a hero are connected.”
Moyong Baek asks cautiously.
“By the way, what happened to the fire show you mentioned? Is it still burning dangerously in your heart?”
“It’s burning, but it’s not dangerous. Because it’ll drive my enemies crazy.”
I stand up to head back to the Black Rabbit Union.
“Doctor, are you short on staff?”
“The nurses’ abilities vary, but there are times where they don’t come in handy.”
“Two women named Black & White Beam are staying in the Black Rabbit Union. All they know is how to bewitch men. My men are being seduced even if they don’t do anything. I’d like to arrange an interview if you’re willing to teach them to become a nurse. They’re adept in martial arts, so they’ll be able to protect you as well.”
Moyong Baek answers honestly.
“If they’re good, I’ll keep them. And if I can’t handle them, I’ll kick them back to the Black Rabbit Union. We’ll meet again once you return to pick them up.”
“Have a safe trip back, Leader.”
After saying goodbye, I leave Moyong Infirmary and head to the Black Rabbit Union. As I make the walk back, the conversations I shared with my past life’s Poison Demon are fading and being replaced with these chats I share with the new Moyong Baek.
What is this feeling?
As old memories disappear, new memories are built.
I interpret the hero theory written in Ki Sung-ja’s manual with my own thinking.
I can raise a hero into an influential, chivalrous hero.
A man who makes his disciple the strongest hero in Kangho is the leader of the Low-Down Sect, Lee Zaha.
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