Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 131

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༺ Why Are You Here Again? (2) ༻
  So why is he here again?
  It wasn’t really hard to figure that out if I looked back at where it started. 
  The day before I leave for Dragons and Phoenixes tournament, 
  It was the time when I last looked over Namgung Jin’s movement. 
  Namgung Jin couldn’t afford to stay in Gu Clan any longer, and I also had plans of my own, so there wasn’t much I could do about it.
  He said that he was fine, but the disappointment in Namgung Jin’s face was clear as day. 
  I understood his disappointment, but for me, all I was doing was just say what Elder Shin told me to say to him… so I felt more relieved since I was done with this hassle. 
  But the problem came afterwards. 
  “It’s been a while, Yangcheon.”
  “How have you been?”
  After meeting up with Namgung Jin, I went to see the First Elder. 
  The Second Elder said he has to come with me when I told him about it, 
  But I aggressively denied him and told him that I was going by myself.
  The Second Elder couldn’t understand why I was doing this, but him going with me didn’t really help me much.
  It’d actually be worse since that would mean that I’ve brought someone on completely opposing side.
  I stared at the skinny but fierce old man that sat in front of me. 
  It was a small and skinny body, but I was still able to feel the sharpness within his body.
  He was still a skilled swordsman despite his age. 
  However, that also meant that I was now at a level where I could read martial artists at the level of the First Elder. 
  The First Elder asked me with a smile.
  “So, what brought you to this old man?”
  “I just thought that I should check on you, to see if you were doing fine.” 
  “Oh… Thank you for your consideration.”
  I smiled back at the First Elder.
  Gu Sunmoon. 
  It was a branch clan of Gu Clan, and it was also called the Sword of Gu Clan.
  Location wise, it wasn’t too far from Gu Clan, but instead of it looking like it’s associated with Gu Clan,
  It rather feels like they are separated from them. 
  I didn’t know whether it was supposed to be like that, or whether it’s been passed down by ancestors of the clan. 
  “So yes, I heard that you were doing well recently.”
  “Of course, I am always well.”
  The start of the conversation was simple.
  I couldn’t afford to ask him questions right away after all. 
  “I heard that you even had an engagement with a pretty girl, I’m glad to hear.”
  “Thankfully, her clan also saw me in a good light.”
  “Yes yes.”
  The First Elder smiled after hearing me. Contradicting his smile, the atmosphere felt heavy. 
  I felt that he was slowly changing the atmosphere in the room. 
  ‘This old man.’
  He was ever so slightly putting his Qi out into the room, just enough to be not noticeable. 
  Since he started doing a nasty thing first, I too also flowed my Qi around and scattered it to air in the room. 
– Whoosh-!
  I didn’t use any heat though, as I didn’t even need to do that.
  It seemed like he didn’t expect this to happen, as the First Elder’s expression slowly began to change.
  I then spoke while looking at him.
  “I’m not really a fan of this heavy atmosphere you know.”
  “Ah, I see…”
  The First Elder erased the smile on his face. 
  Yeah, I prefer this anyway. 
  “It seems like you’ve changed quite a bit.”
  “I am still growing after all.”
  “Hehe… You were a child that couldn’t even look into my eyes, but now…”
  Was I? I guess I probably wouldn’t have been able to endure that nasty atmosphere he made back then. 
  If I was still the old me, I wouldn’t even have decided to go see the First Elder. 
  I, while half-listening to the First Elder, took a sip of the tea in front of me.
  He didn’t put poison in this, right? 
  ‘…I’m worrying about such a thing because of the number of times I’ve been tricked.’
  The First Elder wouldn’t have done such a thing in this situation, but he always had assassination and of course, poison on his mind back in my past life, so it made sense why I was worried a little. 
  Even now, he had a bad habit of using his Qi to alter the air around him. 
  “It seems like you did indeed change a lot compared to yourself back then, it’s nice to see.”
  “Is it really nice to see?”
  “Of course, how could it not be when the key figure of our clan has changed this much for the better?”
  “That’s nice of you to say.”
  Key figure of the clan huh?
  I wonder how he’s able to say that like it’s nothing when he doesn’t think that for a second. 
  For some time back in the past, I thought that maybe he did think that way, 
  But I learned that all his words were lies as time passed. 
  “The reason why I came here to see you today, First Elder,”
– Woosh-
  A red aura crept up my shoulders and danced around it.
  The aura held the Qi of a peak realm martial artist, and when the First Elder saw it, he began to frown slightly. 
  “I just had something to say to you.”
  “…And what could that be?”
  The reason why the First Elder didn’t seem very surprised when he saw that I became a martial artist that had reached the peak realm, was because he probably already knew about it. 
  I only had one reason to show that I was at this level. 
  It wasn’t because I wanted to hint him that I’d screw him over if he kept bothering me, because I wasn’t strong enough to do so anyways. 
  I may be at an impressive level at my age, but it was still just a peak realm. 
  It was high compared to ordinary martial artists, but it still wasn’t a level where I could go brag about it to people. 
  I was still only at a level where I would die if the Sword Emperor or the Sword Master pulled their sword out against me, let alone the Heavenly Demon. 
  It meant that I still wasn’t strong enough for me to be nasty to whoever I wanted. 
  「How about you calm down your personality then.」
  ‘…It really isn’t that easy.’
  I already had calmed down quite a lot. 
  The world doesn’t acknowledge that though.
  I am aware of that.
  Considering that I’ve already reached this stage, don’t you know that it’s too late? So stop bothering me.
  Something like that, was what I wanted to hint at by showing him my Qi. 
  Did the First Elder not take that hint?
  I doubt that.
  After my serious stare, he finally took off his last mask.
  Not that it seemed like he had any intention to hide it in the first place. 
  “You changed so much that I can’t even tell if it’s you. It’s as if you became a whole different person.”
  “I hear that a lot. They do say that all it takes is just one moment for a person to mature.” 
  “Yes, indeed. I hoped that you never did.”
  “Whatever you are doing, or are dreaming, are none of my concern.”

  A dream of an old man like him was pointless. 
  I didn’t care about what he dreamt of.
  “But for some reason, I get the feeling that I’m always involved in that dream of yours.”

  The problem lies where I seem to be the problem for his dream.
  “How could you not be?”
  “Right? It’s quite an annoying hassle.”
  “What was it?”
  The First Elder asked.
  “What was it that changed you, who used to live with your head kept down? Was it some petty hope, or was it some poor belief?”
  “It’s been forever ever since my hope burnt to a crisp, and it’s not like my household is clean enough for me to have belief in anything.”
  The fact that father still keeps a person like the First Elder, proved that. 
  It really is a shitty household.
  How can there not be a single thing that I liked about it? 
  “Your father is filled with arrogance.”
  I made a strange expression after hearing his sudden remark. 
  What a random parent shit talk. 
  “Isn’t that true?”
  “Are you telling me to join you in insulting my own father?”
  I get that I had a hard time understanding my father,
  But what was he trying to get me to do?
  “It seems like you don’t understand how arrogant it is, for your father to think that only you and him can afford to manage this land.”
  I put down the teacup that I was holding.
  It was because I didn’t expect to hear that from the First Elder.
  “How did you know?”
  “Is it strange? For me to know that?”
  Only a few people knew about this in the whole clan.
  I didn’t know if anyone outside the clan knew, but that was the case at least for people of the clan. 
  It had to be.
  ‘But somehow the First Elder knows huh.’
  I wonder since when he knew about it, or does he even know it to the fullest? 
  I didn’t know much about the First Elder.
  Back then, I was just a pathetic existence that didn’t even concern him, 
  And the First Elder truly began to show his true colors, only after I was given the spot of the Young Lord. 
  “Even with you knowing, you are trying to climb a wall that you don’t even know you could climb?”
  “Can’t climb? Me, or any of my siblings?”
  “Any of you.”
  “It’s not just your father that’s arrogant, but you as well.”
  The story might have been different if the First Elder felt bad about the fact that father and I had the job of taking care of the basement, 
  But the First Elder had something different in mind. 
  “You wouldn’t know. Of how much power possessing them in your hands will give you.”

  It felt like my heat was cooling down. 
  “I don’t want to know. No matter what it meant.”
  The First Elder wasn’t allowed to step foot in there.
  If he did go see it,
  Then he wouldn’t be at a state where he could walk around normally. 
  I didn’t know what kind of delusional dream he was holding, 
  “But if you are dreaming about it, I hope that it stays as a dream.”
  He had the freedom to dream of whatever he wanted. Which was probably why my father was still keeping him.
  The First Elder then spoke as if he was mocking my words. 
  “And what will you do if I choose to not keep it as just a dream?”
  “I wonder.”
  Even if the First Elder was blinded by his delusion, could he afford to do such a thing?

  Gu Sumoon’s value and role of the clan may have been high,
  But father wouldn’t let him do whatever he wanted forever. 
  And there was no way that the First Elder did not know that. 
  Which was why the First Elder didn’t do anything severe.
  “Do you know?”
  I spoke while staring into the First Elder’s eyes.
  “An old dog that used to guard the house, seemed to have a brain problem, as the dog kept on baring its fangs to its owner.”
  I mixed some of the stories from my past life.
  It was more interesting that way after all.
  “A dog huh…”
  “Yes, a dog.”
  I then smiled slightly while continuing to talk.
  “The owner let the dog be after thinking about all the time spent with the dog, but one day, the dog bit its own owner.” 
  “Then what.”
  “Then do you know what happened?”
  “It seems that I do not.”
  The last moments of the First Elder was around this season, a few years later. 
  I remembered because the fall season back then was rather hot. 
  The Lord of Gu Clan raged.
  And the flames he summoned filled the whole sky. 
  “He was burnt alive with all of its fangs pulled out.”
  If it was just a small bite, the owner would’ve let himself get bitten, but the dog had crossed the line a little too much. 
  Didn’t it?
  Since he laid hands on his children. 
  Father may have acted back then,
  But it might be me that does that in this timeline a bit earlier than father did. 
  Coincidentally enough, that day back in my past life, was a day where I could have thrived. 
  If I was given a reason that is.
  And it seemed like it won’t be long until I get that reason. 
  Which was why I was still able to respond to him with a smile.
  “I just wanted to tell you this story.”
  “…An interesting tale. Very much so.”
  “Right? And I hope it remains just a tale.”
  The First Elder may have not hidden his greed in his eyes, but it seemed like he was doing a good job hiding his emotion.
  I wonder if he raged inside.
  It would make sense since a young kid like me disrespectfully talked to him like that. 
  “It was a fun tale. I thank you for that.”
  The First Elder smiled.
  I was able to know a little more after seeing his smile.
  That my relationship with him won’t change. 
* * * *
  And seeing Gu Jeolyub now like this, many thoughts came in mind. 
  Was it because I went to father after I had that conversation with the First Elder? 
  I remember father just replying ‘Okay.’. 
  I only went there to ask him about what he’ll do about that. 
  “Why are you here?”
  “…I was ordered to escort the Young Master of the clan.”
  “You? Me?”
  Did the First Elder play a part in this? But that’d mean father would have had to approve of him.
  It seemed like father also had a say in this.
  “A pawn.”
  Gu Jeolyub avoided my eyes after hearing me.
  Even he seemed to know what his role was.
  “It’s been a while though, hasn’t it?”
  I stared at him, but Gu Jeolyub didn’t try to hold eye contact with me.
  Was it because of last time?
  ‘I didn’t beat him up that badly.’
  I let him leave peacefully without breaking any of his bones. 
  I thought I was being rather kind to Gu Jeolyub, but it seemed like he didn’t see it as the same way as I.
  “Sir Gu…”
  Tang Soyeol then popped up.
  Then she was glaring sharply at Gu Jeolyub. 
  ‘Now that I think about it, they must have met already.’
  It seemed like they’ve met already because of the thing I did last time.
  Because of that, Tang Soyeol complained about it to me too.
  When Gu Jeolyub saw Tang Soyeol, he slightly lowered his head and greeted her.
  “Hello again, Lady Tang.”
  Even when that handsome Gu Jeolyub greeted her, Tang Soyeol only replied with a slight frown. 
  “Young Master!”
  Then Wi Seol-Ah ran towards me in the middle of this situation.
  It was nice to see her, as she seemed to have kept her cheerful-self that I saw from back when I took her out to the streets. 
  “Sis Bi-ah is sleeping!”
  “I figured.”
  As she said last time, Namgung Bi-ah chose to join me on this trip. 
  I heard that she was already in the carriage, and it seemed like she was already asleep in there. 
  “Huh? Hello.”
  Wi Seol-Ah greeted Gu Jeolyub when she noticed him.
  Then Gu Jeolyub flinched after seeing her.
  Was it because he remembered the time where he was beat up after he tried to take her away from me? 
  I then spoke to Gu Jeolyub.
  “What are you going for?”
  “What’s your role in this?”
  Putting aside the fact that he was coming with me as an escort, there had to be another reason of him coming with me. 
  Gu Jeolyub then showed me a letter after he understood my question.
  It was a recommendation letter for the Dragons and Phoenixes Tournament. 
  The one recommending him was none other than Gu Cheolun, which was my father’s name. 
  After seeing that, I lost myself for a moment.
  It was father and not the First Elder? When I stared at Gu Jeolyub with an absurd expression, it seemed like Gu Jeolyub felt the same way. 
  He seemed like he didn’t know why he was here and why he had to be.
  “…That’s funny.”
  “What is?”
  When I turned around to the sudden voice I heard, Gu Ryunghwa was looking towards us with her round eyes. 
  “When did you come?”
  “Just now…”
  “Are you here to send us off?”
  “I just happened to pass by.”
  By the way, the entrance to the clan and the guesthouse Gu Ryunghwa was staying in was extreme in distance. 
  “Are you leaving now?”
  “Seems so.”
  “Then when will you come back…?”
  I looked at Gu Ryunghwa with strange expression when she spoke in a slightly sad voice. 
  Gu Ryunghwa also seemed to realize what she said was strange, as she continued to stare at the ground with her face turned red. 
  I held in my laughter and spoke.
  “I wonder. I doubt it’ll take that long.”
  It’ll at least be a shorter trip than when I went to Mount Hua. 
  But would Gu Ryunghwa still be in the clan by then?
  ‘I feel like she would still be in the clan by the time I’d return.’
  Since I believe she was staying here for half a year. 
  While I was trapped in my thoughts, Gu Ryunghwa spoke.
  “…Hyuk will look for you a lot.”
  What did she say?
  “What’s with the Hyuk?”
  “Hmm? Why?”
  “Like, what’s with that friendly way of calling him.”
  “What’s with you all of sudden?”
  Hyuk huh… she’s not talking about the Hyuk I’m thinking about, right?
  “Are… you close to him?”
  “Not really, but we did see each other yesterday.”
  “Master and the Immortal Healer had a meal together.”
  “What do you mean and. We just ate together that’s all…”
  You ate together when you’re not close? I stared at Gu Ryunghwa with suspecting eyes, but Gu Ryunghwa stared back, wondering why I was acting this way.
  “I gotta go see that Hyuk in the future.”
  “I decided that I’ll get closer to him.”
  “Hyuk said that he’s already close to you.”
  “Yes, so I’ll be even closer.”
  My little Hyuk.
  How disappointed I am that I can’t see you right now!
  As something was about to emerge out of my chest, Muyeon came to me.
  “Young Master, we’ll load rest of the baggage now.”
  “Is there still a lot more?”
  “All we have left is the food.”
  So the heavy part of the baggage is left. 
  I then spoke to Gu Jeolyub who continued to stand still while staring into nothing. 
  “What are you doing?”
  “Pardon? What do you mean…?”
  “What are you standing around for, go help them.”
  I didn’t care what the First Elder or father wanted to do with him. 
  I was planning to use him if they gave him to me.
  Now that it had turned out like this, I planned to make extremely good use of Gu Jeolyub for this trip. 
  I then thought while patting Wi Seol-Ah’s head while she stood next to me like a puppy.
  I wonder if Gu Jeolyub knew.
  That I don’t let things in the past go so easily.

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