Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 140

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༺ Harmonic Sword Jang Cheon (2) ༻
  When it came to the Harmonic Sword, Jang Cheon…
  You could say he was the most ideal Leader of the Murim Alliance. 
  As the Alliance Leader, he was able to keep the clans and other groups of the Orthodox Factions under control.
  And the state of public order noticeably improved under his leadership after he succeeded the Sword Emperor, Wi Hyogun, who had resigned.  
  When he first assumed leadership, there were debates about whether the Alliance Leader should have been Shaolin’s Head Abbott or Mount Hua’s Celestial Plum Blossom instead… 
  But Jang Cheon’s capable leadership quickly quelled those discussions in just a few years. 
  Not only did he have a good personality, but he also was talented in martial arts, so he was known as a man of perfection. 
  At least in the eyes of the world, that is.
  “I apologize for coming here so suddenly.”
  A handsome middle-aged man with a kind look.
  His downward-pointing eyes made him seem like he was smiling even when keeping a straight face. 
  “…Greetings, Alliance Leader.”
  I carefully knelt on one knee before Jang Cheon.
  When Jang Cheon saw my actions, he quickly waved his hand. 
  “No need to show respect. I’m the one who barged in, after all.”
  “How could I not?”
  He was none other than the Alliance Leader.
  His martial arts level might be lower than the Celestial Plum Blossom or the Heavenly Venerables, but the significance of his position could not be ignored either. 
  In terms of power, he wielded more influence than the Four Noble Clans or the Ten Sect Alliance. 
  “I knew it… I should have planned this beforehand, but I made a mistake since I was in a hurry.”
  He did come here rather suddenly. 
  And the timing was quite inconvenient. 
  I guess this was where I could say the first impression really was that important. 
  “I apologize once again for coming here so suddenly, Young Master Gu.”
  “It’s no problem at all.”
  While looking at Jang Cheon, I thought to myself…
  Why was he here?
  Why did the Murim Alliance Leader come to me himself, considering that he could have summoned me instead?
  Numerous thoughts ran through my mind, but there was one that was the most likely. 
  I was half sure of this, to be more accurate.
  ‘The Dishonored Venerable.’
  That was the only reason.
  The Dishonored Venerable’s recommendation letter that the Second Elder gave me.
  That was the only reason I could fathom which made sense for the Alliance Leader’s sudden visit.  
  ‘Though I wonder if it’s really something that’d make him come to me.’
  The Heavenly Venerables’ name held prestige, but I still wondered if it was enough for the Alliance Leader to come meet me. 
  ‘Does he have a problem with the Dishonored Venerable?’
  The Alliance Leader took something out of his pocket.
  When I looked at it, it was the recommendation letter I brought, as expected. 
  By the way, the servants in the room had already been sent away before we began talking. 
  I already told Hongwa to go to the meetup with Gu Jeolyub and the others in case I was late. 
  I also told her to punish Wi Seol-Ah by having her hands raised in the air until the meetup time, so Hongwa should be fine. 
  “Young Master Gu, I rushed here so rudely as I wanted to ask you something.”
  My body tingled slightly. 
  I felt a sensation that passed by my shoulders, so I flowed my Qi around. I was able to feel that a barrier had been set up inside the room. 
  “This recommendation letter…Did the Dishonored Venerable give it to you directly?”
  As expected, the Alliance Leader came here because of that damned recommendation letter. 
  At this point, I felt like the Second Elder was trying to push me off a cliff, all in the name of my own good. 
  I couldn’t see how things always turn out like this if not for such a reason. 
  “I did not get it directly.”
  “So you got it from someone else.”
  Huh, I felt a strange feeling from the Alliance Leader’s expression and tone.
  It felt like I was being investigated.
  It wasn’t the best feeling. 
  An investigation when he barged into my room so abruptly, treating me as though I were a criminal. 
  “First, may I ask the Alliance Leader why you are asking me this?”
  I asked as respectfully as possible while concealing my feelings. 
  No matter how annoyed I was, I couldn’t just afford to show my fangs to the Alliance Leader, in the Murim Alliance. 
  [You become so quiet in front of strong people … how shameless.]
  I had to know when to bark and when to hold back. 
  Life was a precious thing, after all.
  This was one of the few things I learned in my past life. 
  The Alliance Leader let out a fake cough and fixed his tone, as he realized his earlier mistake. 
  “I apologize. I showed an ugly behavior just now because of me being in a hurry.”
  It was a quick apology.
  The Alliance Leader was lowering his head to a mere young prodigy that easily?
  ‘Is he acting?’
  Was he being genuine or just putting on a show? 
  I could not know. 
  The Alliance Leader did apologize, but I was curious about something.
  On how the situation turned out this way.
  ‘What did that old man give me again?’
  I thought he gave it to me for my own benefit, but was there more to it?
  I swear there was nothing normal with him.
  Before explaining, the Alliance Leader handed the recommendation letter back to me and spoke. 
  “The content inside this letter, did you ever get to read it?”
  “No, I did not read it, sir.”
  I didn’t bother to.
  I didn’t need to and it wasn’t respectful to do so either. 
  Moreover, I even had a slight bit of trust in the Second Elder as well.
  I believed that everything he did was for my benefit, even if things got messy. 
  “Do read it.”
  After hearing the Alliance Leader’s words, I opened the letter. 
  The words written were unsophisticated and there were only a few lines of writing, which really reflected the Dishonored Venerable’s personality. 
  The content inside was what you would expect from any recommendation letter. 
  ‘Since when did he have his eyes on me?’
  And the Second Elder claimed that he got this recommendation letter two years ago.
  During that time, I had never crossed paths with the Dishonored Venerable. 
  Furthermore, he wasn’t really in a situation where he could just appear in the world right now. 
  The real problem came from the next line. 
  Something was strange…really strange, actually.
  There were many lines written in the letter that I couldn’t understand. 
  I don’t think this recommendation letter was written for me.
  It seemed that way, no matter how much I looked at it. 
  There was no way the content inside the letter was referring to me.
  However, there was no denying that my name was written on the letter. 
  For some reason, it felt like an unknown story that I never knew about was being unfolded. 
  A feeling gradually welled up within me. 
  That uneasy, ominous, and strange feeling. 
  And the last line I read from the recommendation letter was enough to make me gasp. 
  Oh f*ck.
  I looked at the Alliance Leader with shaky eyes after reading the last line.
  I felt like I knew why this situation came to be.
  I couldn’t think of anything to say, so I had to stay silent.
  ‘You shouldn’t have included that last line, you damned old man…’
  Those words were bound to lead to a misunderstanding. 
  Since this letter didn’t even look like it was written for me.
  The Alliance Leader gazed at me before asking.
  “Are you the disciple of the Dishonored Venerable?”
  “No, Alliance Leader…”
  Disciple, my f*cking ass.
  I never even once saw his face, let alone received training from him.
  It was possible that such an arrangement might occur in the future, but as of now, it hadn’t happened. 
  That old man said it was a recommendation letter… Did he take the Dishonored Venerable’s letter which was written for someone else?
  What were these people up to? 
  I had to be the one responsible for this embarrassing incident. 
  I felt like going into a rat hole right now if I could. 
  And to list another problem, the Alliance Leader was making a concerned expression in front of me.
  “…This handwriting does indeed seem like it’s from the Dishonored Venerable, but I’m not sure how I should take this in.”
  “Could we pretend that the recommendation letter part never happened?”
  I asked just in case, since I already had an invitation letter. 
  Since it would just be better to pretend such a thing never happened, rather than involving myself with some bothersome hassles. 
  “I’m afraid not. This was written by the Dishonored Venerable and it is in your name as well.” 
  “Impersonation maybe…”
  “I doubt that anyone would dare to impersonate a Heavenly Venerable, and the stamp and aura on the letter appear genuine.” 
  He had scrutinized the letter thoroughly, leaving me with no escape.  
  How pointless. 
  “I understand what you may be worried about, but there’s no need to worry since you claimed not to be his disciple.” 
  Finally, some words from the Alliance Leader that made me feel relieved. 
  I contemplated how to deal with this situation. 
  “…It’s just that if you are really the Dishonored Venerable’s disciple, I wondered if you knew his current location.”
  Was it because of the treasure mentioned in the letter?
 “Judging by your reaction, you seemed to be clueless. Is that correct?”
  I actually knew  it.
  I knew that the Dishonored Venerable was hiding himself somewhere in the west.
  And I also knew why he chose to hide himself. 
  Though I obviously had no intention of telling him that. 
  He’ll probably end up asking the Second Elder.
  “…I see.”
  He seemed disappointed, as if he had lost his only clue.
  But he also seemed relieved, as if he had found a whole new clue from this. 
  “Is it, because of the treasure that’s mentioned in the letter?”
  The Alliance Leader stopped for a moment upon hearing my question. 
  “I am indeed concerned about the treasure that the Dishonored Venerable took, but that’s not all.”
  There was a different reason.
  That was enough. 
  I had no intention of asking any more questions. 
  He probably wouldn’t answer me anyway and if he did, it would only get me more involved in things. 
  ‘I already had a goal in mind when I came here, so I’d rather not add any more tasks.’
  If I had known that this recommendation letter would bring forth such a chaotic situation, I wouldn’t have used it.
  As our conversation came to an end, the Alliance Leader stood up and spoke.
  “I’m sorry for wasting your precious time.”
  “There is no problem, Alliance Leader. I’m glad that I got to meet you.”
  “I’m thankful that you say that.”
  It definitely wasn’t the best way to meet, but I still had to talk nicely to him.
  Because, to be honest, the Alliance Leader wasn’t in a position where he could easily believe everything I said.
  And he backed away when he could’ve easily pursued a more intrusive investigation  on me. 
  ‘It doesn’t seem like it ended on a good note, though.’
  I had a feeling that not all of his suspicions had dissipated. 
  So there was a chance that he might do something behind the scenes. 
  After all, that was the Murim Alliance’s specialty. 
  The world was split into the Orthodox and the Unorthodox Factions, but many people already knew that the line that separated those two had been blurring. 
  To list differences between the two sides…
  The Orthodox Faction pretended to be unaware of the changes, 
  While the Unorthodox Faction didn’t seem to care too much.
  Because the Alliance Leader I met just now had a kind demeanor that made him look like a good person…
  But I didn’t believe all of it.
  I didn’t know much about that man,
  But that was what made it scary to judge him solely on appearances. 
  ‘Him being the father of that bastard is the biggest reason.’ 
  Just the thought of him made me rage inside. 
  Whenever I pictured his damned face, I clenched my teeth without even realizing it. 
  “Thank you for talking with me. I shouldn’t take up any more of your time, so I shall take my leave now.”
  The Alliance Leader moved towards the door, then glanced at me and spoke.
  “I was honestly surprised when you said that you weren’t his disciple.”
  I looked back at the Alliance Leader, wondering what he was saying all of a sudden.
  “If you were the Dishonored Venerable’s disciple, I would have ranked your talent quite high, but you say you aren’t… So it’s quite surprising for me, but I also see this as the rise of a new star.” 
  “…Thank you.”
  “When I saw your elder sister, I thought that they had produced another tiger just like the Tiger Warrior from the Gu Clan…But they were hiding a bigger dragon after all.”
  As expected, the Alliance Leader had assessed my current martial level.
  It wasn’t surprising, though.
  Since he, too, was a martial artist who had reached a higher realm.
  But his words filled me with pressure, making my stomach feel tight. 
  “I’ll be expecting quite the performance from you in this tournament.”
  With those words, the Alliance Leader left the door.
  His presence immediately faded away. 
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