Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 160

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༺ The Thing I Wished To Show You (4) ༻
  After finally managing to fix her posture, Namgung Bi-ah thought as such in utter bewilderment. What was going on?
  Blood trickled down her mouth once more.
  Namgung Bi-ah wore a rare frown on her face. 
  It seemed like she lost control of her Qi due to the overwhelming impact on her body. 
  ‘…I couldn’t see it…’
  Whatever the attack was, Namgung Bi-ah couldn’t comprehend how Jang Seonyeon had managed to land a blow on her. 
  Her first priority was to regain control of her Qi before pondering any further.
  Namgung Bi-ah covered her nose before she could wipe the blood off her face.
  It was because she smelled a horrible stench.
  She couldn’t understand.
  Even just earlier, she was barely able to smell any stench.
  Like always, she looked around.
  To see if he was near her.
  Among the spectators, Namgung Bi-ah quickly spotted Tang Soyeol, Wi Seol-Ah, and the person she had been thinking about. 
  And he was staring at Jang Seonyeon with wide eyes. 
  As if he was very shocked.
  ‘…He’s here… but then why?’
  He was near her…
  And at this distance, the stench should not have been so potent…
  ‘But then why…? Why can I smell the stench?’
  “Where are you looking?”
  Namgung Bi-ah moved her body instinctively. 
  Along with the sensation of something slashing her cheek, blood spattered. 
  ‘The sword…!’
  Namgung Bi-ah immediately tried to regain control of her Qi to prepare the Master of Swords again…
  But Jang Seonyeon was faster. 
  Namgung Bi-ah, who was in close proximity to the sword resonance, began to experience pain coursing through her body. 
  Her Master of Swords then collapsed and the Qi she had been charging dispersed. 
  And in that moment, when she became vulnerable…
  Jang Seonyeon seized the opportunity. 
  Along with the impact she felt around her abdomen, Namgung Bi-ah’s body was sent flying. 
  Although she had successfully defended against the attack by barely managing to channel her Qi, it still had an impact on her. 
  She barely managed to get back to her feet after faltering. 
  And blood continued to trickle from her mouth. 
  After gaining some distance, Namgung Bi-ah had to calm her Qi. 
  ‘…It’s strange…’
  He was much faster than at the beginning of the fight and his blows were heavier. 
  Almost as if he had just become a different person. 
  The Jang Seonyeon she had faced earlier definitely had threatening attacks, but he didn’t seem talented enough to use his attack to its fullest potential. 
  This meant that he still lacked experience. 
  Compared to other people Namgung Bi-ah faced, he was definitely talented, but when compared to other talented people she faced, he didn’t really stand out either. 
  ‘But what about now?’
  He felt completely different.
  His martial strength felt like it had ascended to a whole new realm compared to before. 
  “I do feel sorry for you.”
  Jang Seonyeon stared at Namgung Bi-ah as he spoke.
  Perplexed, Namgung Bi-ah furrowed her brow, prompting Jang Seonyeon to explain further. 
  “I’m not used to it yet, so I didn’t want to use it if possible.”
  His sword continued to resonate.
  To Namgung Bi-ah, it sounded like a roar.
  What did he mean by not being used to it?
  His attack?
  Or was there something else he was referring to?
  Jang Seonyeon smiled as he stared at the confused Namgung Bi-ah.
  “I never imagined I would use it in this fight, but it happened.”
  When Jang Seonyeon took a step forward, Namgung Bi-ah quickly called forth the Master of Swords. 
  Jang Seonyeon’s expression shifted to surprise. 
  “…Your body must be in excruciating pain. That is very respectable, Lady Namgung.”
  Namgung Bi-ah couldn’t shake off a chilling feeling as Jang Seonyeon addressed her. 
  However, her body wasn’t in a good condition as Jang Seonyeon said.
  Even now, she was shaking while her Master of Swords barely managed to maintain itself. 
  This was also probably because of the stench she was now smelling. 
  ‘…I feel like I’m going to puke.’
  It dawned on her. 
  That the stench wasn’t coming from Jang Seonyeon.
  Instead, it felt like the same stench that had dissipated after Gu Yangcheon’s appearance was all coming back to her once again. 
  She couldn’t explain why she felt this way. 
  It made her world feel sick and dark.
  She was stepping back into the hell she had once lived whole life in.
  She covered her nose, but the stench didn’t go away.
  The pain was excruciating. 
  Why was this so painful?
  She lived with it her whole life, but it now felt more challenging than she remembered. 
  ‘…I want to run away.’
  She wanted to flee right this instant.
  She wondered if the stench would go away if she ran into his arms since he wasn’t too far away.
  The pain had driven her to consider such desperate measures. 
  But even so…
  Namgung Bi-ah summoned her resolve. 
  She hadn’t said those words to him just to show him a lacking performance. 
  – Believe in me.
  She didn’t say that to him for no reason. 
  She didn’t like his eyes looking at her with worry.
  Since the incident at Mount Hua, this had been a recurring thought in Namgung Bi-ah’s mind. 
  ‘I hate my incompetence.’
  It was a thought she had never entertained before in her life, but it had started to creep in lately. 
  She remembered back then when she had been utterly useless.
  She could only watch his back with a broken arm while unable to do anything herself. 
  She hated herself for making him worry about her. 
  His worry and care were a source of happiness for her. 
  That was the first emotion Namgung Bi-ah understood fully. 
  She was happy when next to him.
  She was able to sleep well and breathe easily near him.
  She liked going on a slow walk while enjoying the view. 
  She only learned this later, but she learned that she liked such a thing only thanks to him. 
  Because when she closed her eyes, she no longer envisioned nightmares but warm, comforting thoughts. 
  Namgung Bi-ah decided that this was happiness.
  Which was why she couldn’t give it up.
  She didn’t want to be next to him while remaining so incompetent. 
  ‘Can I really become a helpful person to him, if I can’t even live without him?’
  Namgung Bi-ah didn’t think so.
  He wouldn’t want such a useless person next to him.
  Which was even more of a reason why she couldn’t become such a person. 
  Namgung Bi-ah had to show that she was a person capable of standing up for herself.
  Jang Seonyeon uttered.
  It was because Namgung Bi-ah’s sword was pointing at him once again.
  “Do you not have any intention of forfeiting?”
  He would’ve preferred for her to forfeit. 
  He didn’t want to use his power any further.
  Moreover, he didn’t even expect that he would use it in such a pathetic tournament like this one. 
  ‘I didn’t even think I would use it against the Lightning Dragon.’
  ‘But I can’t believe there are two people who broke my expectations.’
  Jang Seonyeon felt a little annoyed as it felt like Peng Woojin’s sarcastic remarks were becoming true. 
  He clenched his hand tighter around his sword. 
  Inside his hardened body, his Qi and the newfound energy combined to create an explosive force.
  Jang Seonyeon took a look at Namgung Bi-ah.
  Her face was stained with blood and her hair was messed up.
  Moreover, after rolling on the ground a few times, there was dust on her skin.
  Despite her disarray, Namgung Bi-ah’s eyes seemed calm and determined.
  It was as if he was looking at the Poison Phoenix once again.
  The green haired girl was like that too. Jang Seonyeon couldn’t understand why.
  Why wouldn’t they fall in despair?
  Why wouldn’t they just run away?
  Why did they refuse to feel fear while standing in front of an unscalable wall?
  ‘It’s annoying.’
  Jang Seonyeon became annoyed every time he faced an opponent who clung to their martial artist’s pride. 
  Trying to maintain their dignity as the Orthodox Faction when the faction had already been rotting away couldn’t seem more sickening than it already was to Jang Seonyeon. 
  ‘You still dream of something without realizing the reality?’
  ‘What will you achieve by doing that?’
  ‘How disgusting.’
  He wasn’t saying that to them, but himself.
  He longed to stand above thousands, so he couldn’t afford to delude himself.
  He just felt jealous. 
  Because they looked more impressive than him, who chose a different path after being crushed by the wall that stood in front of him.
  ‘Don’t rot away.’
  He put aside his futile thoughts.
  He needed to remember that he was the chosen one.
  Jang Seonyeon approached Namgung Bi-ah.
  ‘If she won’t give up, then I’ll just make her.’
  He wasn’t used to his own increased speed.
  Nevertheless, he swung his sword. Lightning Qi formed a barrier to defend his attack, but Jang Seonyeon’s sword broke through the Qi barrier as if it was cutting paper. 
  A loud clashing sound echoed when the two swords met.
  It was a clean sound, but the resulting Qi explosion was anything but. 
  The shock wave radiated everywhere. 
  Namgung Bi-ah couldn’t withstand the impact and began to tremble.  
  Jang Seonyeon, who had no intention of relenting, didn’t stop his attacks. 
  Clang! Clang!
  His body, now fueled by the energy, moved faster and became more destructive, and his sword resonance ensnared his opponent. 
  ‘A little faster.’
  As he got more used to the energy, Jang Seonyeon became faster. 
  The same would apply to his power as well. The sound of his sword clashing through the wind getting rougher was proof of that. 
  ‘Why won’t it reach her?’
  When he stomped the ground, a Qi wave pushed out forward. 
  His sword resonated along with it.
  And his sword, which was clashing with hers, showed its fierce fangs. 
  But even so…
  Jang Seonyeon’s sword still couldn’t reach Namgung Bi-ah.
  He said this out loud without realizing it himself.
  Jang Seonyeon couldn’t understand this strange situation unfolding before him. 
  He possessed not just speed over her, but power as well. 
  ‘There is no way that I’d be pushed back with me using the energy, but then why can’t I break through?’
  Despite his attempts to break through with swift strikes, Namgung Bi-ah managed to block each one. 
  Jang Seonyeon widened his eyes after hearing a sudden sound. It was a clear sword resonance.
  He quickly checked his sword, but the sound wasn’t coming from his weapon. 
  It was a faint yet clear and precise sound.
  There was no mistake. This was coming from Namgung Bi-ah’s sword.
  ‘…Sword Resonance?’
  The sound that pierced his ears differed from the artificial sword resonance that Jang Seonyeon made himself.
  Rather, it was true sword resonance, achievable only when a swordsman reached a certain realm and became one with their weapon. 
  ‘But why did she wait until now to display sword resonance?’
  ‘Did she have something hidden?’ 
  ‘But isn’t it way too late for her to use it now?’
  The current Namgung Bi-ah looked like a mess after blocking numerous of his attacks. 
  She was bleeding from her nose and her hand since she couldn’t block all the impact. 
  However, flames of determination still burned in her eyes. 
  Namgung Bi-ah actually looked calmer than before. 
  And Jang Seonyeon couldn’t tolerate that.
  “Why are you still standing?”
  “Give up. There is nothing good for you to keep on fighting.”
  No response came back from her. Instead, Namgung Bi-ah raised her sword once again after hearing Jang Seonyeon. 
  Her sword resonated even clearer than before. 
  It sounded as if she was telling him that the fight was far from over. 
  Seeing her determined stance, Jang Seonyeon clenched his teeth and mustered all his energy. 
  Jang Seonyeon’s sword echoed along with hers, but the quality of the sound was different compared to Namgung Bi-ah’s.
  He didn’t like this one bit.
  ‘Why won’t my sword make that sound? I should be far superior.’
  ‘I am the chosen one, but then why?’ 
  “…No miscellaneous thoughts.”
  A sudden voice startled Jang Seonyeon out of his thoughts. 
  It was Namgung Bi-ah, speaking after a long silence. 
  Jang Seonyeon initially thought that she was addressing him…
  But Namgung Bi-ah was talking to herself.
  Namgung Bi-ah’s sword echo gradually grew louder.
  “…I can do it.”
  She spoke.
  As if she was focusing on something.
  Then, Jang Seonyeon finally noticed something about Namgung Bi-ah.
  Her eyes seemed determined…
  But it wasn’t him that Namgung Bi-ah was looking at.
  Instead, it looked like she was focusing on something else entirely. 
  Namgung Bi-ah was in the process of enlightenment. 
  “…You dare…”
  ‘Is she using me to obtain enlightenment?’
  ‘And in the middle of a duel, no less?’ 
  A haze started to form on Jang Seonyeon’s shoulders.
  The light blue haze looked beautiful. 
  “I didn’t expect that I’d have to go this far.”
  The Meteor decided to call this Divine Qi. 
  This power was bestowed only upon those chosen by heaven, making the name fitting. 
  A blue haze began to envelop Jang Seonyeon’s sword.
  The haze looked beautiful, but the power inside was dense and destructive. 
  “Do not regret it…”
  ‘You caused all of this to happen.’
  Jang Seonyeon raised his sword and charged toward Namgung Bi-ah.
  Namgung Bi-ah, too, slowly began to move.
  With her light steps, her sword followed the flow of her Lightning Qi.
  There wasn’t much Qi put into her sword, nor was the Master of Swords active…
  But Namgung Bi-ah fearlessly charged at Jang Seonyeon. 
  Then the two swords clashed with each other.
  Light formed in an instant inside the arena. Only light, without any noise.  
  When the light that filled the whole arena disappeared…
  Only silence remained on top of the arena stage. 
  Their clash happened in an instant and the result was already evident. 
  The judge, after ensuring that the battle had reached its conclusion, raised the hand of the victor and shouted.
  “…Victory goes to Jang Seonyeon.”
  Jang Seonyeon stood triumphant…
  While Namgung Bi-ah lay unconscious on the ground. 
  – Woaaahhhh!
  The spectators erupted in loud cheers, breaking the silence. 
  But Jang Seonyeon remained motionless, lost in his thoughts. 
  Jang Seonyeon suddenly felt a presence behind him and slowly turned around. 
  Then he saw someone carrying Namgung Bi-ah who lost consciousness. 
  It was a boy with black hair wearing a red uniform.
  Gu Yangcheon appeared out of nowhere, catching Jang Seonyeon by surprise as he carried Namgung Bi-ah. 
  Their eyes met briefly. 
  When Jang Seonyeon saw Gu Yangcheon’s fierce eyes, he didn’t say anything.
  It was Gu Yangcheon who broke the silence first. 
  “What’s with the sad face?” 
  His voice held no emotion.
  Jang Seonyeon couldn’t grasp the meaning behind his words. 
  Sad face?
  What face was he making for him to say that?
  “You seem to know that you did a shitty thing yourself, judging by that f*cked up expression on your face right now.”
  He spoke harshly without any intention of showing respect. 
  Normally, such words would provoke a response, but Jang Seonyeon found himself unable to speak. 
  Because his mouth didn’t move for some reason.
  Gu Yangcheon, who stared at him, didn’t say anything further and proceeded to go down the arena stage while carrying Namgung Bi-ah.
  When the judge also left, Jang Seonyeon covered his face with his two hands, alone, in the middle of the cheering spectators. 
  For some reason, he felt like he needed to.
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