Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 129

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༺ Lord of the West (2) ༻
 He was one of the Heavenly Venerables who presided over all martial artists around the world.
 Dishonored Venerable Bijuu, the Lord of the west.
 He was known as the Dishonored Venerable for a reason.
 He was, like his title, a person who had faced defeat hundreds of times.
 Many said that the Dishonored Venerable was fortunate, and the man himself admitted as much.
 Because, despite all of his defeats, his arms and legs were still fully functional.
 Because of his achievements, he was given the title “Man of Might.”
 Instead, the Dishonored Venerable preferred the moniker “Man of Defeat”, the dishonored one.
 Since he was standing here after all his defeats.
 He wanted to be called that so he wouldn’t forget how he got there.
 So in the end, his title was changed to the Dishonored Venerable, but that still didn’t change the fact that he was still strong enough to be included in the three Heavenly Venerables.
 Aside from the Sword Emperor, he was one of the most powerful individuals who massacred Unorthodox Faction clans.
 And there was a famous story about him erasing an entire mountain from the world when he fought the Lord of Heaven.
 ‘…So then why?’
 I was taken aback not only because the letter was written by the Dishonored Venerable himself, but also because the man, like the Sword Emperor, had been hidden from the world for a few years.
 He most likely would not have appeared in my past life if it had not been for the Heavenly Demon’s appearance in the world.
 So how did the Second Elder obtain the letter from such a person?
 “Second Elder, may I ask where you got that?”
 “What do you mean where, I got it directly from him.”
 “From… the Dishonored Venerable?”
 I couldn’t help but be shocked.
 I did not know why the Sword Emperor was hiding from the world, but I knew why the Dishonored Venerable was.
 He had to hide himself, and I was certain he severed all ties with others.
 “How did you two even come to know each other?”
 “Is it that unusual for martial artists to know each other?”
 It was not all that strange because the Second Elder was active when he was the Flaming Fist.
 “But… even so, the Dishonored Venerable is…”
 I stopped speaking. It would look strange that I even knew about this.
 I changed the subject after a brief pause.
 “How exactly do you want me to use this?”
 “What do you mean ‘how do you use it’? The recommendation letter is there for you to show it.”
 Does he really expect some unknown child of the Gu Clan like me to all of a sudden go to the Tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes and show the letter written by the Dishonored Venerable out of nowhere?
 Oh… my god.
 “What are you hesitating for? I gave it to you happily since you seemed like you were ready to cause some trouble.”
 “Yeah… I guess you did give me something that would help me with just that.”
It would indeed attract many people’s attention. Though I did need to think about how I would use this attention.
 “Thank you.”
 Anyway, I felt thankful in the end, as he had given it to me for me. I put the recommendation letter in my pocket for now.
 I then started to think while patting Wi Seol-ah’s head, who was standing next to me.
The best way I could use this…
* * * *
 Just around the time the sun had come up, Namgung Bi-ah’s eyes opened.
 She then began to move slowly.
 It was still early in the morning. It was far too early for Namgung Bi-ah, who enjoyed sleeping, but she forced herself awake.
 She knew she could not fall back asleep even if she tried.
 She then turned to face the window.
 A white flower, the one she had picked previously, was basking in the sunlight outside.
 She picked it and transplanted it, but the flower was still going strong, so it must have been a strong specimen.
 She also began to make her bed and arrange her pillows.
 Normally, something like this would have been the servants’ responsibility.
 But Namgung Bi-ah insisted on doing it herself. The pillow she slept with while hugging and sniffing it was a problem.
 ‘…It does not smell as strongly anymore.’
 Namgung Bi-ah was sleeping on the pillow she had taken from Gu Yangcheon’s room.
 They were correct when they said that having a luxury taken away was more difficult than not having any at all, because as soon as she got further away from Gu Yangcheon, the horrendous stench she smelled brought her life to a halt.
 She already was regretting her choice.
 For what reason did she decide to distance herself from him?
 ‘…How embarrassing.’
 And after learning about the new knowledge that Tang Soyeol taught her, Namgung Bi-ah, for some reason, felt embarrassed to even look at Gu Yangcheon’s face.
 This included his breathing whenever it would get closer, his stare, his fingers, and his lips…
 All of that made her embarrassed.
 Namgung Bi-ah found that she was acting ridiculous.
 She believed she would have a child because she slept with him while holding his hands.
 And the fact that she thought having a child might not be so bad.
 In order to escape the stench, she trained her sword to higher levels.
 But she quickly changed her mind when she discovered a different escape route.
 Namgung Bi-ah was embarrassed as a result.
 She thought about her father, who was kneeling on the ground in the middle of the night.
 That careless father she hated was still the same as ever.
 Her mother, who passed away from a disease due to his negligence, never once resented her father even in her last moments.
 How could she be like that?
 If that was what love was, wasn’t it very scary?
 Namgung Bi-ah was thrown into the world of stench all alone, but she endured.
– Please be happy, my daughter.
 Namgung Bi-ah didn’t forget what her mother told her. Her mother wanted her to be happy, so she decided that she’d endure it until she found that happiness.
 She didn’t know when it would come, but Namgung Bi-ah endured hellish times all by herself.
 And there she was, in the present, where she wondered if her current happiness was the reason she had been enduring all her life.
 Namgung Bi-ah remembered her father, who had been dense and scary just a day ago, kneeling in front of the boy.
 How was that possible?
 Namgung Bi-ah wondered what she was feeling when she saw her father so humiliated.
 Was it refreshing? No, that was too strong of a word.
 Was it fear? But she didn’t feel any frustration to call it that either.
 Human’s emotions were complicated, and Namgung Bi-ah just started learning about them.
 She left the guesthouse to take a walk outside.
 “…I’m tired.”
 Because she didn’t get much sleep, she still felt sleepy.
 She was used to sleeping in the stench since she had done that all her life, but just because she found some peace for a few months, she changed.
 Namgung Bi-ah liked going places. It was a way for her to escape the stench, so she liked wandering off more than she thought.
 And as she walked, she noticed a direction that had less stench than others.
 That meant that if she followed this route, he would be there.
 Namgung Bi-ah realized that she was trying to go to him without even noticing.
“Not yet…”
 She turned back. There was something she needed to take care of.
 She headed toward the training area, but not to practice her sword.
– Swish! Swiiiish! Swiswoosh!
 The sharp sounds of sword swinging that came from the training area were made by Namgung Jin.
 Recently, it seemed like Namgung Jin was training his sword for some reason.
 She did see him train back at her clan a few times, but this was the first time she had seen him so fired up, which was strange.
 I wonder what happened.
 When Namgung Bi-ah went closer to him, Namgung Jin turned around as he felt her presence.
 He still had that cold stare.
 “I wanted to ask something.”
 “You had something to ask me?”
 Namgung Jin didn’t expect his daughter to ask him a question.The girl wouldn’t even talk to him unless spoken to.
 “If you wanted to ask about your future plans, that’s up to y- “
 “Did you ever love mother?”
 Namgung Jin’s mouth shut after he heard Namgung Bi-ah. With widened eyes, he stared at the girl.
 “You are asking a nonsensical question all of a sudden.”
 “Did you not love her?”
 Namgung Jin couldn’t figure out why his daughter was asking him that question.
 He was reminded of a woman’s face. It was a woman who looked similar to Namgung Bi-ah. She was the top beauty in Anhui.
 And despite the fact that she was on top, she was a woman with a kind personality.
 She was beautiful and kind, but Namgung Jin didn’t have a place for her in his heart.
 That was why he couldn’t answer his daughter’s question, since he hadn’t thought about her in decades.
 They weren’t affectionate to each other, nor had he ever shown her a husband’s warmth.
 Namgung Jin was always obsessed with his image as the Lord of the clan, so the only thing he felt was guilt when he thought about her.
 Namgung Jin didn’t accept any concubines.
 It wasn’t because of the guilt he felt for his dead wife. Not only did he not care about it, he also never had a reason to.
 That was about it.
 That was all that Namgung Jin could feel about her.
 Depending on the situation, silence could actually scream louder than words.
 To Namgung Bi-ah, that was exactly the case.
 “I’ll… be going now.”
 Without a response, Namgung Bi-ah bowed to Namgung Jin and got up to leave.
 Father’s expressions and breathing, and the way he stared at her, were enough to tell her the answer.
 How many years had it been since she felt like she was going to cry?
 Namgung Bi-ah was confused as to why she had finally asked him the question she had been avoiding for so long out of fear of his response.
 She knew the answer in her heart.
 It was because she had the slightest hope, which turned out to be pointless.
 The thing she thought she had let go of—she had it in her heart again.
 “How exhausting…”
 Namgung Bi-ah hated this feeling.
 After losing the chance to practice her sword, she continued walking.
 The horrendous stench in the world still remained.
 Flowers bloomed beautifully, but they seemed terrifying, and pretty birds chirped, but they sounded like screams.
 This life of hers was hell.
 That was what life was like for Namgung Bi-ah.
 As she walked more, the stench became weaker. Her urge to cry, which had come up all the way to her neck, instantly went back down.
 Namgung Bi-ah knew where she was going right now, so she tried her best to hide her expression.
 She didn’t want to make that face in front of him after all.
 She walked for a long time with slow steps.
 As expected, she started to feel warmer as she got closer, despite the cold weather.
 He may have been using fire, but for Namgung Bi-ah, it was a softening warmth.
 When she arrived in front of his place, someone quickly walked toward Namgung Bi-ah.
 “Hello, Lady Namgung!”
 She wondered if it was Wi Seol-Ah, but it was a different woman that wore the same servant uniform.
 “Who is it?”
 “Thank you for last time…!”
 She remembered.
 It was the servant who had looked like she was about to cry when Namgung Bi-ah snuck some pillows out that last time.
 Namgung Bi-ah paid the servant twice the original amount because she felt sorry for her.
 The Namgung girl remembered her saying that she would never tell anyone, even though she never asked her to do such a thing.
 Namgung Bi-ah slightly lowered her head and tried her best to greet her.
 The servant woman was shocked at the gesture.
 Was it really that surprising for a descendant of the Namgung Clan to greet someone? Namgung Bi-ah thought
 “Are you here to see the Young Master?”
 Namgung Bi-ah nodded.
 “Oh, the Young Master is likely training right now; he always trains around this time.”
The servant told Namgung Bi-ah his location happily, but the girl already knew where he was in the first place.
 After leaving the servant, she slowly moved.
 One step, then the second.
 And when she had taken her third step, all the stench around her instantly disappeared.
 ‘It’s… much vaster than before.’
 When she met him for the first time, she was able to smell the stench if she got even a little away from him, but now, she felt fine even if he was somewhat far away.
 What was it that made it that way?
 Was it because he was getting stronger?
 If that was the case, there was hope for Namgung Bi-ah.
 If she reached higher levels, maybe the stench would disappear?
 After finally escaping the stench and enjoying the scent, Namgung Bi-ah went toward the place he was at.
 The heat was getting stronger as she got closer to him.
 Has he gotten stronger than before?
 She had been walking while thinking, but she suddenly halted her steps.
 It was because the heat that surrounded the training area had disappeared.
 Then the door opened, and a sweat-covered Gu Yangcheon appeared.
 As if he knew that Namgung Bi-ah would be on the other side of the door, he didn’t seem to be surprised she was there.
 “Huh, what made you come so early in the mor-… Why do you look like that?”
Gu Yangcheon asked with a shocked expression.
 He was always like this.
 Even if other people did not pick up on it, he always seemed to notice the minute shifts in expressions.
 Namgung Bi-ah believed that his concern was distinct from those of others.
 “Did you not get enough sleep?”
 She gave a slight nod in response to his question.
 ‘Why are you here? Stop bothering me.’
 The boy who used to push her away with those words was no longer there.
 “Then you should sleep more; what brought you here so early?”
 He still did not seem completely honest with herself, but Namgung Bi-ah was fine with that.
 Because the way her father looked at her mother and the way this boy looked at her were completely different.
 She knew that better than anyone, so she unknowingly smiled.
 “…See you.”
 “…I wanted to… see you….”
 She gave him her complete honesty without any lies.
 She just wanted to see him.
 After hearing that, Gu Yangcheon chose to remain silent, as if he had become stone.
 It was similar to Namgung Jin’s earlier display of silence, but Namgung Bi-ah felt that his silence didn’t tell her the full story.
 After a short silence, Gu Yanghceon spoke.
 “Have you eaten yet?”
 “Then let’s go eat.”
 After saying that, he walked past Namgung Bi-ah.
 The girl then had a fit of uncontrollable but quiet laughter.
 “Why are you laughing?”
 Gu Yangcheon complained to her, but Namgung Bi-ah continued to giggle, as if to tell him it was nothing.
 He didn’t get any answers from her, but he still felt like he knew
 Unlike Gu Yangcheon’s bothered face, his ears were reddened up.
 Namgung Bi-ah saw him starting to walk a few steps by himself, but then saw his back waiting for her to catch up as he slowed down.
 That was enough.
 That much was enough for now.
 Having felt that all her frustrations seemed to have been washed away, Namgung Bi-ah followed Gu Yangcheon.
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