Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 120

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༺ Sword with no Honor (2) ༻
  ‘You fucker…’
  「Stop cursing at me already jeez… How could a Taoist be so vulgar with his mouth?」
  ‘You really are the best when it comes to being shameless… For your expression to not even change in the slightest despite you leaving this old man with this stupid thing to do.’ 
  「It’s not like you pay rent, so isn’t it fine if you help out sometimes?」 
  ‘I just hope you go and die…’
  Elder Shin’s non-stop nagging showed no signs of ending. However, he still picked up the sword in the end. 
  ‘Just know that I’ll be taking this body for good this time.’ 
  「Are you a generous robber or something? Why are you sending an early warning?」 
  The control of my body naturally transferred to Elder Shin. 
  He had already informed me that he couldn’t do this very often.
  However, looking at it now, I’m not sure if that was really the case here.
  ‘I never lied to you. It is true that I can’t stay in your body for too long.’
  My stance while holding a sword and my breathing immediately changed. 
  This was truly fascinating in my eyes. 
  Just like before, I was able to feel many things that I normally couldn’t. 
  Was this a type of enlightenment? If so, what could I gain from this? 
  ‘You could’ve just fought yourself without picking up the sword, so is there a reason for you to hand over the work to me? 
  A reason?
  「I don’t know.」
  I just chose this option since it was the safest, and I also did it out of shock.
  Since no one in this world knew that Elder Shin resided in my body. 
  ‘It’s not like your chance of winning was that low, since you are a fist fighter. I’m sure you were able to surmise that by yourself.’
  「Yes, I know.」
  To increase my winning chances, I had to do a duel with the rule prohibiting the usage of Qi. However, in order to stimulate Namgung Jin, I thought that picking up a sword would be the best method alongside the rule.
  In the end, everything went as planned, however, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. 
  ‘You are disappointed since you aren’t the one fighting, right? Even though you were the one that pushed this work to me… Want to swap back right now?’
  I really am a martial artist, aren’t I? I got greedy to experience a fight between two strong martial artists. However, I know now isn’t the right time, so I have to endure it.
  「No, I’m good. I wish you good luck.」
  Elder Shin stood still and looked straight at Namgung Jin. He still seemed extremely angry. The frown never left his face and it seemed like he had no intention of letting it go anytime soon. 
  “How did I end up with a brat like you… God really must have died.”
  Elder Shin slowly raised his sword. Seeing that action, Namgung Jin’s eyes lit up.
  He promptly asked.
  “You have experience with a sword?”
  I guess he must’ve felt something just by observing Elder Shin’s movements. He truly did live up to his title of the Sword King.
  Well, I had to respond, so I whispered to Elder Shin.
  「In the past…」
  “…In the past?”
  「I learned it as a joke, Lord.」
  “I learned it as a j, j, joke, Lord.” 
  「Elder Shin… your voice.」
  ‘Do I really have to speak formally to that young brat!?’
  Elder Shin’s pride wouldn’t let something like that happen, but thankfully, there was no problem in the end.
  Instead, it seemed to have helped in agitating Namgung Jin further. His expression distorted further, donning an even scarier look than before. 
  “You are playing around even till the end.”
  「He seems very angry.」
  ‘…And whose fault do you think that is?’
  “I’m curious how long you can act like this in front of me. Fine, I’ll take your arm for sure since you want that so much.” 
– Ring-!
  The sword that Namgung Jin pulled out resonated and started vibrating loudly. This phenomenon was known as the Sword Resonance.
  If one was able to reach a certain level of proficiency and mastery of the path of swords, then it was foretold that they would become one with their sword. This ability didn’t depend on the manipulation of Qi. 
  Becoming one with the sword.
  The more the sword and the wielder of the sword became one and resonated with one another, the louder the echoing became. 
  This basically meant that Sword Resonance… was the beginning of the process of being one with the sword. Getting to this point was the dream of every sword user and it also signified the start of the sword users’ journey in the path of swords coming to an end. 
  ‘Not a bad resonance.’
  Even while Namgung Jin’s sword resonated wildly, Elder Shin just stood still, impressed at the sight.
  “If I had to compare with that Myung bastard, it would be like comparing heaven and earth, but I can still see that he is well-trained.” 
  ‘It was just some guy. The guy with the Namgung name and a bastard that always chased skirts.’
  …Was he talking about Namgung Myung when he said Myung bastard just now?
  If it was the Thunderous Sword that he was talking about, he was one of the five heroes that killed the Blood King along with the other heroes. 
  It seems like I wasn’t wrong, as even Elder Shin kicked his tongue and continued his speech.
  ‘Tsk, I should at the very least be served a drink in death, yet I have to play around with that bastard’s descendant.’
  I suddenly felt guilty after hearing his words. I never really felt guilty before.
  ‘You rotting piece of shit, I swear to god…’
  「Anyways, will you be okay?」
  ‘…About what?’
  「Even if no Qi is used… the opponent is quite the opponent.」
  ‘Wow, you are worried after you gave me the work?’
  Elder Shin responded, clear astonishment evident in his voice. I wasn’t underestimating his ability, but he wasn’t using his own body but mine instead which still had many flaws. I couldn’t help but be curious if he would be okay. 
  ‘No need to worry about nonsense.’
  Along with Elder Shin’s words, Namgung Jin straightened his sword and spoke in an arrogant tone. 
  “Come you brat, I’ll give you ten sec—“
  Namgung Jin couldn’t finish his arrogant trail of words… 
– Riiiing-!
  It was because the echoes that were stabbing his ears were way too loud for him to continue. It was quite a bit louder and much, much clearer than the Sword Resonance that came from Namgung Jin’s sword. 
  It was like there was a giant bell that was ringing nearby— a loud ringing sound echoed from the sword Elder Shin was holding. 
  Elder Shin then spoke to me.
  ‘You little shit, do you remember who I am.’
  Namgung Jin’s astonishment didn’t register in my eyes. 
  The surroundings were instantly flooded with Elder Shin’s overwhelming presence. Just how was he able to emanate such pressure on the surroundings without even the usage of Qi? 
  Even if I brought back my prime self here from my past life, I highly doubted that I could show off this much overpowering presence as Elder Shin did. 
  I didn’t know that the difference in levels could be this overwhelming. 
  While admiring Elder Shin’s aura, I suddenly got curious about something.
  ‘There is no one that could stop me, but time.’
  About the level as a martial artist that Elder Shin was able to reach, and,
  How a martial artist of his level was trapped inside a treasure as a mere wandering spirit— was one of the biggest wonders to me. 
  ‘I am the Divine Sword of Mount Hua, Shincheol.’ 
– Riing-!
* * * *
  The current generation of prodigious martial artists was called the Generation of Meteors. 
  However, there was a similar group of geniuses and prodigies who had a similar name in the not-so-distant past. 
  Geniuses didn’t care for the time. Since, no matter which season it was, the stars would always be up there in the night sky. 
  Namgung Jin was one such star.
  It didn’t take that long for the young prodigy— Namgung Jin, who was hailed as the then Sword Dragon, to earn the title of the Sword King.
  It was quite obvious back then.
  As the title Sword Dragon was basically preserved for the Namgung Clan and them only.
  And so was the title of the Sword King.
  And if the guy with a monstrous talent called Yung Pung didn’t exist in the martial world, Namgung Cheonjun would’ve easily gotten the title of the Sword Dragon of this generation. 
  Namgung Jin never doubted that he would be able to reach the skies. 
  His grandfather was never able to earn the title of the Sword Emperor, but he was called the Lord of Heaven which meant that he had reached the ephemeral skies and transcended beyond. 
  And Namgung Jin never even had the thought that he wouldn’t be able to achieve it either. 
  His arrogance matched up to his overwhelming ability and he believed that he would be able to earn a title of his own one day. 
  He would stand above the skies as time naturally passed. He was in a realm of existence that was more than enough to achieve such a feat. At least, that was the most likely image that Namgung Jin saw himself portraying back then.
  If that insufferable ‘man’ didn’t exist, that is. 
  ‘…Your remnant is haunting me even all the way here.’
  The night of the fall was still as cold as ever. A breath leaking out as white steam was proof of that fact. 
  With the breath that he leaked out, Namgung Jin decided to calm his emotions. 
  Keenly, he observed the boy standing in front of him. 
  The boy who had an uncanny resemblance to the Gu Cheolun of the past. 
  Namgung Jin had already collected information on the boy before.
  It was the son of Gu Cheolun, after all. That simple reason was enough to make him interested in the boy. 
  The boy had next to no talent and he was inherently lazy. He even heard that he had a cruel and violent temper, which made it difficult to interact with the boy. 
  He may have given birth to the penultimate genius— the Sword Phoenix, but he didn’t have any luck when it came to his son. 
  Having that thought, Namgung Jin drowned in alcohol by himself in the dead of the night. 
  That fateful night took place a year ago. 
  But… just who was the monster that was standing in front of him right now, then? 
  Namgung Jin was unable to understand. 
– Ring… Ring…
  The boy’s sword resonated.
  That was definitely the Sword Resonance that he was enacting right now. Even though he thought as such in his mind, it still was really hard for him to believe that fact.
  ‘That’s not possible.’
  He may have reached a high level as a martial artist already, but making his sword resonate was a whole different matter altogether. 
  It was a phenomenon that was hard to achieve even for the sword users who went through an immense amount of training, after all. 
  Furthermore, Gu Yangcheon was a fist fighter first and foremost. His style of walking, breathing, and even the way he evoked and manipulated his Qi— they were all vastly different compared to a sword user. 
  But what about now?
  ‘…Everything changed.’
  Both his breathing and movements, everything about him had changed altogether. The change was so drastic that he got the feeling of Gu Yangcheon being a sword user from the get-go. 
  Was he… hiding his power? But what reason would a little brat like him have to do something like that? 
  He wasn’t even at the age where he could hide his power in the first place. 
  Namgung Jin wondered if he may have done something to the sword he was holding, however, the sword he was holding belonged to the Namgung Clan. 
  He had clearly seen him pick up that sword, the sword of an unconscious martial artist of the Namgung Clan, from the ground with his two eyes. 
  “You said you’ll give me ten seconds?”
  Namgung Jin’s breathing rhythm shattered after hearing Gu Yangcheon’s voice.
  “I have no intention to reject this offer. So please, think again before you regret it.”
  His manner of speech held a certain strange change now, but Namgung Jin didn’t have the time to think about that. 
  Ten seconds? Originally, whether it was ten seconds or whatever didn’t really matter to him. 
  Their levels were clearly different, and it was the same for the enlightenment they had reached.
  It meant that they stood at a completely different level as martial artists. 
  It would be the same even if there was no usage of Qi. 
  How they saw things, and how they felt them, were vastly different from each other. And it should’ve stayed like that originally. 
  But now? What about now?
  Namgung Jin was forced to doubt that thought. 
– Crack. 
  A rough sound leaked out of Namgung Jin’s mouth. 
  ‘Am I scared? To that little brat that’s younger than my son?’
  ‘I, the Azure Heavenly Sword?’
  ‘There is no way.’
  He refused to believe that. No, it was obvious that he didn’t even believe the mere thought of that being the case here. 
  “You must have some tricks up your sleeves.”
  Gu Yangcheon’s expression instantly morphed into one of disappointment after hearing Namgung Jin. Namgung Jin was instantly able to recognize that reaction of his since the boy didn’t even make an effort to hide the sheer disappointment he was feeling right now. 
  “You are different from that Myung bastard. How disappointing.”
  “What are you talking about?”
  “Nothing, Lord Namgung.”
  Having said that, the sword in Gu Yangcheon’s hand stopped emitting sound. 
  It meant that the echoing of his sword had ceased. 
  The cold breeze of the night still continued to blow at its own pace, but the boiling emotion within him was unable to cool down. 
  He wanted to cut the boy in half by swinging his sword right here and now, but he held himself from doing as he desired. 
  Everything he had been working on would be ruined if he let go of his restraints right now.
  So he had to hold himself back, desperately so.
  However, he didn’t want to just let the brat off the hook so easily after all the insults that he had hurled at him without realizing his place.
  ‘He said to pull off one arm, right?’
  That was the bet here. Namgung Jin forced down the smile that was trying to crawl up his lips. 
  The boy was the Young Lord that Gu Cheolun himself approved of. Hence, even if it was Namgung Jin himself, he would not be able to do something like that.
  ‘I’ll just cut it off.’
  He planned to cut the arm off with a clean swing. It would make it easy for them to reattach it.
  Namgung Jin knew that the Immortal Healer was currently residing in the Gu Clan. It was rather easy for him to get that information as they weren’t really trying to hide it.
  He didn’t know how the Immortal Healer ended up in the Gu Clan when he had been in the Namgung Clan before, then went on to travel to Shaanxi, 
  But Namgung Jin thought to himself, ‘If the Immortal Healer is here, then I don’t have to hold myself back when harming this little rascal.’
  “I’ll give you ten seconds.”
  “Hmm… Will you be okay?”
  “How ridiculous of you to even dare to worry about me.”
  “…I know, how did I end up like this.”
  Suppressing the resentment he was feeling, Gu Yangcheon raised his sword with a lamenting expression on his face.
– Tap!
  He leaned the sword on his shoulder and started moving at a leisurely pace. It was a very poor movement. 
  ‘Was I just mistaken?’
  His breathing and movement from before had been the movement of a skilled sword user, but that appearance had vanished as if it had been a lie. 
  Why did he even make a bet if he was going to be like this? 
  Was this just the whims of an immature child? 
  Even while Namgung Jin was having such thoughts, Gu Yangcheon continued to walk toward him with poor steps and posture.
  There were so many openings in his movements that it wasn’t even a joke.
  Namgung Jin felt like he could kill him in one blow no matter where he swung at his body.
  ‘I was worried for nothing.’
  When Gu Yangcheon arrived right in front of Namgung Jin’s nose, he moved his hand, the hand holding the sword, with a calm expression on his face. 
– Ring.
  All of a sudden, the sword in Gu Yangcheon’s hand started resonating once more.
  It was an electrifying feeling.
  Namgung Jin felt chills run down his back when he registered the echoing of his sword. Simultaneously, Gu Yangcheon’s sword moved in a bizarre manner.
  The sword swing was slow and heavy. The sword path was drawn akin to a semi-circle— just like the crescent moon that was up in the skies, and the speed of the swing was so slow that Namgung Jin was able to see each and every one of his movements. 
  The Namgung Clan specialized in speed in their sword arts. They imbued their swords with Lightning Qi and lived their life at a faster pace than others. 
  And there was no way that Namgung Jin, who was at the very top of those people, wouldn’t be able to dodge this sluggish and amateurish sword.
  Or at least that should have been the case.
  But why is my body not moving?
  The night sky was instantly split in half due to the sluggish movements of this amateurish sword strike. 
  His poor movements now seemed elegant and refined. 
  What was this? How can I feel so much enlightenment imbued in this sword strike? 
  The stars were split in half, and even the moonlight shining down from the skies above was split into two halves by the sword strike. The poor and sluggish sword soon struck Namgung Jin. 
– Swish-!
  After what seemed like an eternity had passed like that… 
  The outcome couldn’t be said to be more pathetic than what had transpired. 
  Gu Yangcheon had just made a straight swing of his sword. 
  However, the same couldn’t be said for Namgung Jin.
  Seeing the scene unfold, Gu Yangcheon spoke with a calm voice and a leveled tone.
  “I thought you promised…”
  Namgung Jin, who was supposed to be in front of Gu Yangcheon, was nowhere to be seen. Looking around, he found him in a completely different direction. 
  The sounds of rough breathing leaked out from someone. As it turned out, Gu Yangcheon was not the originator of those sounds.
  Fairly distanced from Gu Yangcheon’s current location, Namgung Jin was breathing roughly. 
  Cold sweat dripped down his face incessantly along with his rough breathing. Since, his body had become nervous and tense. 
  “…that you wouldn’t use Qi.”
  Only after hearing those words, did Namgung Jin finally check his body.
  An ephemeral trail of Lightning Qi was surrounding his body right now. 
  Namgung Jin had no choice but to look at Gu Yangcheon, his face morphed into a look of horror. 
  “I’ll just pretend that your offer never existed. I would also like to give you the same offer, but it would just be too much to enact with this poor body, so I hope that you can understand.”
  Gu Yangcheon’s sword was aimed at Namgung Jin. There was no resonance in his sword.
  However, Namgung Jin felt like he could hear the sword resonating in his ears even now.
  He was finally able to perceive what he couldn’t before just now. Was it a hallucination? In Namgung Jin’s eyes, Gu Yangcheon’s body resembled a sharp and deadly sword. 
  Did he become one with the sword?
  Namgung Jin had to shake away those scary thoughts with doubts lingering in his mind. 
  Even he himself hadn’t reached that level yet. No, could it even be expressed as a level? His grandfather once said that it had nothing to do with a martial artist reaching a certain level. 
  Does that mean that he really became one with a sword? Namgung Jin wanted to shout that it wasn’t, but he was unable to since he was unsure himself. 
  “Your sword isn’t resonating.”
  Namgung Jin woke up from his trail of thoughts after hearing Gu Yangcheon.
  “It’s what I told my friend in the past.”
  “Are you daring to teach me—“
  “That part of you is similar to him, since that crazy fucker responded in the same manner.”
  “What nonsense are you saying right now…!”
  “It’s nothing, it is only right for things to change as time goes on,”
  The steps that were slowly approaching him were unwavering. The way he held his sword was still as clumsy as ever, but Namgung Jin’s mind had already become complicated after seeing the movement he had made earlier. 
  Gu Yangcheon advanced one step…
  “But at least that bastard wouldn’t have wanted things to be this way, so I guess I’ll have to clean up for him. How ironic, this was never supposed to be my role.”
  When Namgung Jin’s destroyed pride was about to change into anger and wrath, something slashed past Namgung Jin’s neck. 
  Namgung Jin had to back off while grabbing onto his neck. Unlike the clear sensation that he felt just now, his neck hadn’t been severed. 
  “I suggest you focus. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
  Accompanying the end of those words, Gu Yangcheon’s sword slashed at the empty air once more. 
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