Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 148

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༺ Friendly Martial Arts Competition (1) ༻
 
 
  Within the Orthodox Faction, there were three well-known tournaments that stood out the most. 
 
  The first one, hosted by Murim Alliance, was called the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament and it’s aim was to pick out the star that shined the brightest, 
 
  The second tournament, once again organized by the Murim Alliance, was the Heavenly Dragon tournament.
 
  This was pretty much the biggest tournament the Orthodox Faction had.
 
  It was also a tournament that many martial artists eagerly anticipated since it didn’t follow a fixed schedule for its occurrence, unlike the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament. 
 
  And the third…
 
  ‘I’ll ignore this one as this won’t ever happen.’
 
  Around the time of this tournament, the world would turn into a mess anyway due to the appearance of the Heavenly Demon. 
 
  Though the Heavenly Dragon tournament was scheduled to take place in a few years…
 
  ‘The timing of this tournament wasn’t ideal either.’
 
  But both tournaments weren’t really that important in the end.
 
  What mattered was that I had to step forward in the arena for this tournament. 
 
  A tournament that was made for the young prodigies. 
 
  To see which stars shined the brightest. 
 
  And a tournament that could introduce the world to newly emerging talents. 
 
  That was what this tournament was for.
 
  It honestly wasn’t without its flaws. 
 
  The era of the Orthodox Faction’s pure and honorable generation had already passed.
 
  “Gu Clan’s Gu Yangcheon of Shanxi, third group.”
 
  After checking the paper I picked from the box, I slipped it into my pocket.
 
  ‘Third group huh… It’s gonna take a while.’
 
  I got unlucky and was put in the third group. 
 
  Any hopes of finishing my match quickly and taking a break faded away. 
 
  Ugh-
 
  When I went outside, it seemed like the others had already picked from the box as well. 
 
  Tang Soyeol approached me immediately. 
 
  “Young Master Gu, did you get to see your group yet?”
 
  “Yes.”
 
  “What group are you in? I got in the second group!”
 
  Thankfully, it seemed like I wouldn’t have to face her too quickly as she was in the second group.
 
  “I am in the third… Why is she acting like that?”
 
  In the middle of my conversation with Tang Soyeol, I saw someone sitting forlornly in a corner against the wall.  
 
  Others were looking at her too, but without a care in the world, Namgung Bi-ah continued to repeatedly bang her head against the wall. 
 
  What was up with her now?
 
  Tang Soyeol responded with an awkward smile.
 
  “Sis said she got in the first group…”
 
  “What’s wrong with that?”
 
  Wasn’t it good that we were all in different groups?
 
  “She said that it won’t be fun since she has to fight us much later…”
 
  “…”
 
  That crazy… No, I need to hold myself back from saying bad words.
 
  She had appeared calm for a while now, but did she suddenly get possessed by a ghost obsessed with fighting?
 
  Why was she depressed about such a thing?
 
  It was so absurd that I let out a smile, and went toward Namgung Bi-ah.
 
  “…What group…?”
 
  After noticing my presence, Namgung Bi-ah asked me without turning around.
 
  Because of that, I had to respond while looking at the back of her head.
 
  “Third.”
 
  “…Ughhhh…”
 
  “Do you hate it that much?”
 
  She groaned as if she was sick, so I went closer to her and placed my hand on her head.
 
  She flinched at my touch. 
 
  Namgung Bi-ah who sat still, nodded her head eventually. 
 
  While looking at her, I asked Gu Jeolyub who was watching this next to me.
 
  “You.”
 
  “Yes?”
 
  “What group are you in.”
 
  “I-I’m in the first group.”
 
  “Hey, he said he’s also in the first group.”
 
  “…Lame.”
 
  I told her this so that I could hopefully make her feel better…
 
  But Gu Jeolyub faltered in shock after hearing Namgung Bi-ah’s cold words.
 
  “…Sorry.”
 
  Gu Jeolyub’s face looked so pathetic that I had to apologize to him.
 
  Namgung Bi-ah, with her gloomy aura, started to lift herself up from her distressed position. 
 
  ‘Does she feel better already?’
 
  But wasn’t that way too fast?
 
  “Are you okay?”
 
  Namgung Bi-ah nodded in response.
 
  “…I thought about it.”
 
  I was genuinely taken aback. 
 
   She actually experienced this phenomenon called thinking? 
 
  Namgung Bi-ah frowned a little after noticing what I was thinking.
 
  ‘She’s way too keen…’
 
  She always looked numb, but she possessed a sharp sense when it came to things like this.
 
  “Continue. You said you thought about something?”
  
  “…Isn’t it okay as long as I win?”
 
  “What?”
 
  “…If I win all my battles, then I could see you, right?”

 
  Namgung Bi-ah was saying that winning all her fights would eventually lead her to cross paths with us in battle.
 
  That’d obviously be the case, but…
 
  “Have you never even considered the possibility of losing?” 
 
  “…Who?”
 
  Whether that’s you, me, or whoever. 
 
  Namgung Bi-ah didn’t seem to have the slightest thought of any one of us losing.
 
  ‘Also, I thought she was only fixated on martial artists who wields swords?’
 
  I could’ve sworn she was only obsessed with swordsmen. 
 
  However, it now appeared that her obsession had shifted to any martial artist as long as they were strong. 
 
  Did she change without me noticing?
 
  I responded to Namgung Bi-ah.
 
  “You could always lose before I get to see you, you know.”
 
  There was always a chance for a plot twist in every story.
 
  Though I doubted anything like that would happen in this tournament. 
 
  Namgung Bi-ah locked her gaze onto my eyes before responding.
 
  “It’s obvious… that I won’t lose.”
 
  She spoke with confidence. 
 
  And she sounded so certain as well.
  
  “Or, are you going to lose?”
  
  Her eyes were quite overwhelming.
 
  I couldn’t fathom what I had done, for her to have so much belief in me.
 
  I had to avoid her burdensome eyes to respond to her. 
 
  It was hard to make eye contact with her for some reason.
 
  “Nope.”
 
  Namgung Bi-ah smiled, her eyes expressing satisfaction with my answer. 
 
******************
 
  I came back to my barrack for the time being. 
 
  The process of preparing the full tournament bracket would take a while and I had to save strength for the tournament, so I couldn’t train.
 
  Well, not me, but the others.
 
  My body itched for training as I had skipped training both yesterday and today.
 
  I endlessly flowed my Qi within my body to strengthen it.
 
  However, I wasn’t putting all my focus into it, so the results were less than impressive. 
 
  It felt weird that I was going crazy because I couldn’t train, even though back in my past life, the thing I detested the most was training. 
 
  “Should I go train?

 
  “Where are you thinking of doing it?”
 
  It was Muyeon’s voice who was waiting outside the barrack.
 
  “Surely there is a training area somewhere, right?”
 
  “Young Master, don’t you have a fight today?”
 
  “I think so.”
 
  I hadn’t bothered to learn specific details as I didn’t really care about the fight too much.
 
  All I had to do was show up when I got called.
 
  I wasn’t sure if I would mess up because I let my guard down.
 
  But that didn’t mean I had to be overly nervous for the fight either.
 
  “Do you want to go up on the stage in my place, Muyeon?”
 
  “Haha… Thank you for your words.”
 
  Huh, I didn’t say that to get a thank you out of him.
 
  I was genuinely considering if he might be interested in fighting in my stead since I was too lazy, but it seemed like Muyeon took it the wrong way.
 
  ‘Or maybe, he wants to participate in the tournament too?’
 
  Muyeon was still young and some young prodigies participating in the tournament were older than him. 
 
  So it made sense that he might have some ambition to join the tournament as he was a martial artist.
 
  ‘I’ll ask him about it later.’
 
  Instead of asking Muyeon, this was something I had to discuss with the clan. 
 
  I doubt there would be any problem with Muyeon participating since they sent Gu Jeolyub as well.
 
  ‘He isn’t a blood relative, so it may not be allowed, though.’
 
  I knew that the Gu Clan had high hopes for Muyeon.
 
  I had been discreetly preventing the swordsmen from taking Muyeon again. 
 
  ‘You’re not taking him from me.’
 
  It felt like he became an escort for only a temporary period, but it was hard to let such a person go. 
 
  A good mind along with remarkable talent.
 
  And the biggest thing was that he was someone that I didn’t know in the future.
 
  Muyeon seemed like he wanted to go back to his team of swordsmen.
 
  But not yet.
 
  In my eyes, his desire to rejoin the swordsmen stemmed from something he left behind. 
 
  I needed to create an incentive for him to return to my side once he had resolved his issues with the swordsmen. 
 
  ‘Maybe I have to dig around the house storage.’
 
  I was half-joking.
 
  There were definitely some items in my house that would help Muyeon,
 
  But it wasn’t enough to keep him with me.
 
  At least, that was what I thought of Muyeon.
 
  “Muyeon.”
 
  “Yes, Young Master.”
 
  “Is there anything you want?”
 
  “Pardon…?”
 
  Muyeon appeared bewildered by the unexpected question and turned around from where he was gazing outside of the barrack. 
 
  “You know, I just thought that you might need something.”
 
  “Young Master.”
 
  “Hmm?”
 
  “I don’t think that’s something you say to the same sex… Are you perhaps- “
 
  “You piece of…?”
 
  Muyeon’s eyes held a little bit of playfulness.
 
  When had he become so at ease with me that he felt comfortable joking around? 
 
  I also felt like I could relate to him because of what Peng Woojin said to me the last time I saw him.
 
  Though Peng Woojin was truly a maniac.
 
  “I’m not sure why you’re asking me this, but I’m fine.”
 
  “Really?”
 
  “Yes. What I have right now is already more than enough for me.”
 
  I nodded to Muyeon.
 
  As expected, I couldn’t charm him with things like these. 
 
  “Young Master, Young Master!”
 
  “Hmm?”
 
  “Do you want to eat dumplings?”
 
  “…When did you bring that?”
 
  I was starting to feel hungry as well.
 
  Wi Seol-Ah brought food for me precisely at the right time, as if she was waiting for that to happen. 
 
  “I went to the streets with Sis Hongwa in the morning.”
 
  “Oh… For the clothes that she mentioned last time?”
 
  “Yeah! We bought dumplings along the way!”
 
  I took the dumpling from her, split it in half, and offered the other half to Wi Seol-Ah.
 
  Wi Seol-Ah hesitated for a moment but took it in the end.
 
  Perhaps because of what I said to her last time, she looked hesitant to accept any of my food. 
 
  “Young Master!”
 
  “Hmm?”
 
  “Can I go outside later?”
 
  “Where are you going?”
 
  “Errand with Sis Hongwa!”
 
  Errand huh, I didn’t assign anything to her. 
 
  ‘Did something run out or something?”
 
  Food could’ve been running low, but did they really need to restock when we still had some days to spend here?
 
  I stared into Wi Seol-Ah’s eyes.
 
  But they seemed as round and innocent as ever. 
 
  “Go ahead. And make sure you do what I told you last time.”
 
  “Kay! Wear a cover! Listen to Sis Hongwa words!”
 
  “And the last one?”
 
  “If there are no escorts, then take Bro Muyeon!”
 
  “Pardon…!?”
 
  “Yes, you remembered it all.”
 
  Muyeon interrupted in the middle, clueless of what was going on, but I ignored him.
 
  “Have a safe trip.”
 
  When I patted her head out of habit, Wi Seol-Ah shouted while smiling.
 
  “Yup! I’ll do my best! Young Master needs to win too, okay? I’ll be cheering you on!”
 
  What did she mean by doing her best?
 
  I felt like she was doing enough for me already.
 
  ‘Just this much is enough.’
 
  Wi Seol-Ah probably wouldn’t have a normal growth anyway.
 
  Even when considering the best-case scenario, her current lifestyle might only last a few more years.
 
  Moreover, rather than for Wi Seol-Ah’s… 
 
  I created this situation selfishly for my own sake. 
 
  ‘Would you resent me later in the future?’
 
  Unlike my worries, Wi Seol-Ah would probably not resent me.
 
  Because the only one who had memories of my past life was me.
 
  Besides, even if she were to resent me in the future, it wouldn’t change anything, 
 
  “Right, I’ll do my best too .”
 
  I stood up too after our conversation ended.
 
  I heard people talking outside my barracks.
 
  It seemed like the moment I had been waiting for had arrived. 
 
  I then pinched Namgung Bi-ah’s cheek to wake her from her slumber, then took her with me outside.
 
  When I went outside and approached where a lot of people were gathering, I saw a large wooden board with many people’s names on it.
 
  “Young Master Gu.”
 
  Just like before, Tang Soyeol approached after spotting me. It seemed like she had been waiting for me outside.
 
  “The bracket came out faster than expected.”
 
  I nodded to Tang Soyeol, but I had my eyes on somewhere else. 
 
  ‘Third group… Bi Clan’s Bi Yeonsum.’
 
  It seemed like that was my opponent, but the name didn’t ring a bell. 
 
  Given that I couldn’t recall either the name or the clan, it was unlikely that this person held significant influence. 
 
  ‘…Hmm.’
 
  But this wasn’t the important thing.
 
  I moved my eyes and checked the brackets for others as well.
 
  It seemed like I didn’t have to worry about others.
 
  Judging by the opponents assigned to them, it seemed like we would meet in the later rounds of the tournament. 
 
  ‘It’s statistically quite difficult for all of us to end up in different groups. Did the Murim Alliance do this on purpose?’
 
  All the blood relatives from the four noble clans were put in different groups,
 
  And other well-known names had also been separated. 
 
  ‘Though the participants themselves don’t seem to care that much.’
 
  It wasn’t too shocking for this to happen as this wasn’t the first or second time that Murim Alliance did something like this.
 
  All my hopes for the Orthodox Faction had long been burnt away, so from my perspective, they didn’t even have the slightest bit of credibility. 
 
  However…
 
  There was one thing that made me frown a little.
 
  The second group.
 
 
  As soon as those words caught my eye…
 
  My expression turned serious. 
 
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