Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 107

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༺ Someone Who Will Tell You Better than Anyone Else (1) ༻
  The people of Huayin City that had come to Mount Hua in order to see the tournament were more excited about the second day of the tournament compared to the first.
  The third-generation disciples may have seemed impressive, but the real forces of Mount Hua came from the second-generation disciples.
  Those disciples, with enough talent, had likely already bloomed their plum blossoms.
  And even if they hadn’t yet, they were close to reaching that stage.
  I could already see it from far away. The blossoms that bloomed along with their sword art.
  I could tell just by spectating that their duels were unlike the third-generation disciples’. 
  「Not bad.」
  I knew Elder Shin was feeling proud just by hearing his voice.
  The reason why I was here was to look for my crew, though.
  As expected, they weren’t hard to find. All I had to do was go toward the crowd because they were like a magnet for people’s attention.
  Like I expected, as soon as I walked toward the crowded area, I saw Namgung Bi-ah looking around through her veil.
  ‘Did they notice me?’
  Wi Seol-Ah was already waving her hand at me; she had found me already.
  I walked toward them through the crowd.
  “Young Master!”
  “You came here to watch the tournament too?”
  I patted Wi Seol-Ah’s head, a gesture she welcomed like a puppy.
  – Pat.
  I felt something on my stomach so I looked down. It was Namgung Bi-ah leaning against it.
  – Huff… Huff…
  I could hear her breath. Judging by how loud it was, she was breathing quite heavily, and I couldn’t help but wonder why.
  “Are you feeling alright?”
  She shook her head when I asked. I patted her head as well because she seemed tired.
  Her breathing returned to normal.
  “Why are you outside if you aren’t feeling well?”
  Was she acting this way because she was exhausted? I moved my hand to Namgung Bi-ah’s forehead to check her temperature.
  Because it was a bit sudden, Namgung Bi-ah flinched.
  Her forehead gradually became hotter.
  ‘Does she have a cold? I wonder why she keeps moving her body like that.’
  「…Little shit, how trash.」
  ‘What are you talking about?’
  「The girl is moving like that because of the way you are touching her.」
  What the hell is he on about? While I felt that his words were absurd, I still wanted to check so I took my hand away from her forehead.
  As soon as I took my hand away, Namgung Bi-ah started to breathe roughly again. It felt a bit different from before.
  ‘…Is it really because of that?’
  Remembering that Namgung Bi-ah’s cold forehead became warm as soon as I touched it, I felt a bit warm on the inside.
  I felt embarrassed for some reason, so I wiped my hand on my clothes.
  Namgung Bi-ah made a strange expression while looking at me.
  Then, she suddenly started to sniff my stomach.
  “Are you crazy? What are you doing when there are so many people around?”
  I moved back, startled by her sudden act. ‘Why is she acting like this all of sudden?’
  “Something… changed?”
  Namgung Bi-ah’s eyes became clearer. I had to hide my shock while she was observing my body.
  ‘Compared to other things, she’s quite keen on everything related to training.’
  I could understand the Sword Master and the Sword Emperor, but how did this girl tell the difference? 
  ‘She’s way too perceptive… ‘
  Was it because she would be called the Sword Master herself in the future? I honestly felt a bit scared. 
  「…But she does resemble a dog.」
  ‘How could you call a person a dog Elder Shin…’
  Despite me saying that, I thought that the way she sniffed me made her look like a cat or a dog.
  Then, someone pulled on my clothing from below, and when I looked down, I saw it was Gu Ryunghwa.
  “Brother… sit down for now.”
  Gu Ryunghwa was being aware of her surroundings. Now that I looked around us, many eyes were on us.
  Especially men.
  I let out a fake cough and sat next to Gu Ryunghwa. Thankfully, there was an empty seat.
  While looking at my young clansman, I couldn’t help but feel something strange. It’s because she wasn’t shaking her hand while grabbing onto my clothing.
  I was surprised, but I didn’t let it show. I leaned closer to Gu Ryunghwa and asked her, “I heard you were looking for me earlier.”
  “Oh, I was going to ask if you wanted to go see the tournament, but I was told that you had gone out to train.”
  ‘Gu Ryunghwa wanted to ask me?’
  I couldn’t help but open my eyes widely as it was just that surprising. Gu Ryunghwa frowned when she noticed my expression.
  “Why are you making such an ugly face?”
  “…What do you mean ugly?”
  “Sorry, but ugly is ugly.”
  Seeing my speechless expression, she giggled. It felt strange to see her joke around.
  ‘She still might not have overcome everything,’
  But it seemed that she did overcome a lot, though I did feel a bit bad because I didn’t do much to help her achieve that. 
  “But how did you know? That I was looking for you?”
  “I went to go see your master.”
  “…Huh? Why?”
  “What do you mean why, I just had something to ask her.”
  The Sword Master seemed much healthier when I saw her. Which also made me realize how dangerous demonic Qi was since it was able to influence even the Sword Master that much.
  “Master talks about you a lot.”
  “Huh? She does?”
  “Yeah. She says many good things about you.”
  ‘Good things? I don’t think that I’ve done anything for her to say that.’
  ‘But I guess it’s not bad if she sees me that way.’
  “I told her that all her beliefs were lies.”
  “Saying that you resemble mom, how could she say such nonsense…”
  I noticed that she was still joking around. Even I felt that saying that I resembled my mother was a bit absurd. 
  After some small talk, I raised the issue of our departure to Gu Ryunghwa.
  “I’m planning to leave for the clan tomorrow.”
  “Huh…? Tomorrow?”
  “I decided to go after the tournament. I already notified your master.”
  I still had to go see the Immortal Healer to tell him about it. Gu Ryunghwa only nodded when she heard that I was leaving the following day.
  I believed Gu Ryunghwa seemed sad because if she went back to the clan, then she couldn’t go back to Mount Hua for at least a few months.
  ‘I guess she feels a little better since the Sword Master is going with her.’
  The biggest reason for her not going back to the clan was because of her master, but it seemed like her reservations were a little reduced now.
  After our conversation ended, I took a look at the stage.
  Namgung Bi-ah had been sleeping next to me the day before, but it seemed like she was focused on the matches today.
  ‘I wonder if Yung Pung did well.’
  Despite Yung Pung being the youngest swordsman of Mount Hua, he was still up against the second-generation disciples.
  I thought it rather difficult for Yung Pun, who was still just a young prodigy, to prevail. 
  I asked Gu Ryunghwa, wondering if he had already fought.
  “Yung Pung already lost in his first duel, he was against the big senior.”
  The first opponent Yung Pung had to go against was Shinhyun out of all people. He would have had at least some chance if he was against other disciples.
  ‘But since it’s Yung Pung, he wouldn’t stay depressed just because of a loss.’
  ‘He might feel a bit sad, but he’ll stand back up.’
  The tournament today ended faster than the third-generation disciples’.
  Judging by how the elders started secretly conversing during the event, it seemed they had gotten the information from the Murim Alliance then. 
  The sun was already setting, so it took Murim Alliance quite a long time to inform them.
  As expected, it seemed like something happened within the Murim Alliance.
  Was it a spy? Or was it just their whole group?
  Whatever the case may bes, it wasn’t that surprising.
  I wanted to leave during the middle of the tournament, but I ended up watching the whole thing again.
  It was fun watching all the strong swordsmen fight each other, but the three girls’ shiny eyes watching the fights were also amusing to watch.
  Therefore, rather than watching the fights, time passed away while I was watching them.
  「So you’re saying that you spent all your time peeking at women.」
  ‘…How did you come to that conclusion?’
  Although I argued against Elder Shin’s words, I somewhat agreed with him.
  Around the time we arrived back at the lodge, I turned to Gu Ryunghwa.
  “Come eat with us.”
  The young girl put on a surprised expression to my offer. She was making a face as if to say that she didn’t even imagine that I would offer such a suggestion.
  “It’s late.”
  She was probably going to go up the mountain to see the Sword Master again.
  I didn’t even have to ask to know.
  Gu Ryunghwa was hesitating for quite a while upon hearing my offer. Then, Namgung Bi-ah, who was next to her, stroked her back quietly. 
  After thinking for a moment, the young girl shook her head lightly.
  “Next time… I already planned to eat with my master today.”
  I nodded. There’s still a long way to go.
  I supposed her joking around with me earlier had also been her stepping out of her comfort zone.
  “Next time… We’ll eat together next time for sure.”
  Gu Ryunghwa was smiling while giving me that promise.
  I didn’t say anything in response. This much was enough for me.
  After sending Gu Ryungwa away, I went inside the lodge.
  A fragrant smell was lingering in the air; it smelled tasty.
  It seemed like the servants were using the mushrooms I had given them earlier to make something.
  ‘Maybe I should’ve insisted that she eat with us after all.’
  After I entered the lodge, Namgung Bi-ah and Wi Seol-Ah followed me in while having a conversation with each other. 
  I believe they were talking about the tournament they had seen today.
  “Yeah, so as I was sayi-!”
  Wi Seol-Ah suddenly stopped talking. It seemed like she was shocked after she saw something.
  ‘What is she looking at?’
  When I looked toward where Wi Seol-Ah was looking, I saw Hongwa, standing there menacingly
  「She’s very angry, it seems.」
  Her face looked like a tiger’s, ready to rip Wi Seol-Ah apart. I heard that servants didn’t learn martial arts, but even I got a bit scared. 
  “Sis has something to say to you, can you follow me for a bit?”
  “You’re going to follow me? What a good girl you are, Seol-Ah.”
  Hongwa tried her best to keep the smile on her face, but that just made it scarier. Wi Seol-Ah’s usual strength seemed like it disappeared, and she was dragged away as soon as Hongwa caught her.
  “S, Sis… Wait…! Young Masterrrr!”
  She called for me, but all I could do was wave my hand.
  Thankfully, Wi Seol-Ah was able to come back by mealtime.
  It was just that when she came back, she hugged Namgung Bi-ah right away with a soulless expression which really showed how much scolding she had gotten.
  “Are you okay?”
  When I asked, she didn’t respond but only shook her head.
  Namgung Bi-ah only pat Wi Seol-Ah’s head with her kind, soft hand.
  Seeing her, I couldn’t resist making a joke.
  “You want a yakgwa?”
  I immediately noticed Wi Seol-Ah’s ear prick up. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I saw her reaction.
  * * * *
  The next day, I went to see the Celestial Plum Blossom with the Sword Master.
  I was able to see him easily since I had asked one of the martial artists to send him a message. 
  I noticed the haggard face of the Celestial Plum Blossom.
  It was most likely because of the things that had happened in the hideout. Judging by how the Sword Master had a similar face, it seemed like she had also heard the news by now.
  When she saw me, she put on a smile.
  “It seemed like you got some enlightenment.”
  The Celestial Plum Blossom also noticed that I had reached the peak realm right away.
  It was honestly problematic how there were so many strong people around me.
  “I want to celebrate it with my mind at ease… but I’m not at liberty to do that.”
  “No problem. There’s no need for that.”
  After hearing my response, the Celestial Plum Blossom took out a box from behind him and handed it to me.
  “After speaking with Tae, he said that your body seemed to have fully recovered, so it’s safe to give you this herb.”
  When I opened the box, I felt its faint smell. Just by looking at it, I was able to see how much condensed Qi was inside the herb. 
  “I wanted to give you the herb of Mount Hua that’s been passed down from many generations… but alas, the elders are insistent on stopping me.” 
  Despite Celestial Plum Blossom’s dejected voice, Elder Shin was quite agitated, suddenly shouting. 
  「What?! This crazy f*cker tried to give you the herb of Mount Hua?!」
  Elder Shin’s reaction was understandable. The herb of Mount Hua was a rare medicine and one of the only ones that could rival the herb of Sorim. 
  There was no way that he could give away an herb that even martial artists of Mount Hua weren’t able to easily acquire. 
  I did feel a bit disappointed… but consuming more Qi would only serve as poison to me right now.
  Not only had I gotten more demonic Qi from Nachal, but I also had the mysterious flower to consume.
  “And this…”
  The Celestial Plum Blossom took out an accessory from his pocket and gave it to me.
  I carefully received it; it looked like a common accessory with a red gem in it.
  “What is this?”
  ‘An accessory all of sudden?’ 
  The Celestial Plum Blossom responded as if it was nothing significant.
  “That’s what Gu Ryoon gave to me.”
  “The Second Elder?”
  I was surprised because of the name mentioned. I did not expect that I would hear anything about the Second Elder here.
  “He gave me this so that I could pass it onto you when you decided to leave.”
  “What are you…”
  ‘Decided to leave? Then how long did the Second Elder know that I would come to Mount Hua?’
  Ignoring my pondering, the Celestial Plum Blossom continued to speak.
  “If it was a treasure of the Gu Clan, I would have hidden it to play with him… but it doesn’t seem like it’s a treasure after I took a look at it.”
  “Hidden it…?”
  Hiding a treasure of someone else’s clan… How daring of him to say that.
  What kind of people were in the Second Elder’s circle for them to openly joke about things like that? I honestly felt scared at this point.
  「…These bastards are crazy… Crazy I say!」
  “This is all I can give you for now.”
  It was clear from his face that he wanted to give me more, but his hands were tied.
  But this much was already enough for me.
  It wasn’t just one or two herbs, it seemed like at least five, and the energy they held within wasn’t small either.
  I didn’t know where I could use this bracelet, so I would have to ask the Second Elder about it later.
  Moreover, it was hard for me to ask Mount Hua for anything considering their current situation. These rewards were more than enough considering they helped us with our preparation to go back to the clan, and their treatment they gave us while we were in Mount Hua.
  ‘And this isn’t the important thing anyway.’
  I took a look at the Sword Master who listened next to me. I had requested her presence before, after all.
  I carefully spoke to the Celestial Plum Blossom.
  “Do you remember the time that I said I would have something to ask of you?”
  “I do.”
  “I think I have a request to make now.”
  I hesitated a little on this matter. While it was hard for me to request something from Mount Hua considering their situation, I didn’t know when I would come back here.
  And it was the perfect time.
  “I’m glad to hear that. I was feeling a bit guilty because I wanted to do more for you, so it’ll help me ease my mind.”
  Celestial Plum Blossom put on a smile.
  I hesitated, but I remembered that the Sword Master told me that it would be okay.
  With that in mind, I spoke.
  “I would like to request… to be the honorary martial artist of Mount Hua.”
  The Celestial Plum Blossom’s eyes widened upon hearing my words.  
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