Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 171

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༺ Would You Like To Go With Me? (2) ༻
  Unlike the day of the tournament finals, the last day was peaceful. 
  It was a bit of a hassle for me to move my body and stand next to the Alliance Leader, but what could I do? It’s not like I could say that I wasn’t going.
  “Congratulations on becoming the new star.”
  “Thank you.”
  “The Tiger Warrior would be so pleased since his son achieved such a remarkable feat.” 
  “Haha… Ha… of course.”
  “Since a real dragon was born from Gu Clan this time, it seems it won’t be long before they soar.”
  I thought about my father after hearing Jang Cheon.
  Father would be happy, you say?
  We are talking about a man who only ever said, ‘I see.’ even after Gu Huibi came back home as the Sword Phoenix. 
  So, I doubted he’d show much excitement just because his son won some tournament. 
  ‘And furthermore, what is a True Dragon anyway?’
  I understood that they were calling me the True Dragon because I represented a real dragon, but it did feel a bit cringe. 
  ‘Still this title is far better than the one I had in my past life…’
  At least it was better than that, giving me some breathing room. 
  If I had received some horrible title in this life as well… I don’t even want to imagine that. 
  How could a title for a human be so…
  “Is something wrong?”
  “It’s nothing… I just had a slight headache.”
  After giving me a strange look, he walked over to Jang Seonyeon, who had bandages wrapped all around him due to the damage from yesterday’s fight.
  ‘And here I thought I had held back a little.’
  I felt a bit disappointed.
  I thought that it’d be fine for me to break his right arm since Jang Seonyeon was left handed.
  I felt like I had accomplished something because I noticed a difference in the way Jang Seonyeon looked at me.
  ‘Is he scared?’
  When I glanced at him, I noticed Jang Seonyeon’s shoulders flinched a little. 
  It didn’t seem like an act, but I wasn’t certain about it.
  It was fine even if what he was feeling wasn’t fear. As long as he felt something from this fight, I was satisfied.
  At least for now.
  ‘And Dok Gojun.’
  The mysterious being I encountered at the last moment of the fight.
  Just thinking about that bastard forced his energy inside me and leaving made my head hurt. 
  ‘Is that bastard still inside Jang Seonyeon’s body?’
  If that was the case, I would have to think about a lot of things.
  Such as, whether Jang Seonyeon had memories of that moment or whether he knew about Dok Gojun.
  Stuff like that.
  I really wanted to secretly capture Jang Seonyeon and force him to spill everything, but I knew that that would be impossible in my current situation. 
  Which frustrated me even more.  
  “You worked hard.”
  “…It was nothing, Alliance Leader.”
  Jang Cheon patting Jang Seonyeon’s shoulders with a smile on his face and Jang Seonyeon lowering his head after, couldn’t seem more touching to the spectators. 
  Yet, in my eyes, it only looked like an act. 
  I began to wonder about something else as I stared at Jang Seonyeon. 
  ‘Does this bastard not know that his energy disappeared?’
  Some energy did still remain inside Jang Seonyeon’s body.
  It was because Dok Gojun had broken the process of absorption midway before all of it was absorbed. 
  But even so, that meant he had far less of that energy than before.
  And he should feel the emptiness because of it, so it wasn’t possible that Jang Seonyeon didn’t notice that.
  However, his reaction was rather lackluster.
  I had expected him to come straight to me as soon as he had awoken.
  Yet, be it the Lightning Dragon or him, neither of the two had approached me. 
  Of course, it was good for me, but I couldn’t see it as a completely positive thing. 
  Because I could never easily predict what would happen in this life. 
  ‘This life has way too many differences from my past life.’
  Just the new things I had learned were already filling my head up completely. 
  ‘Where do I even start?’
  I had been cleaning the inside of my mind all day, but none of those thoughts were something I could have easily concluded.
  It wasn’t something I could just let pass as I usually did. 
  I maintained a calm expression while organizing the complicated thoughts in my head, 
  Putting some care into my expression, since I had felt that it’d be better for it to not be noticeable. 
  “With this, to all the new stars that fought hard… “
  When Jang Cheon finished his speech, cheers and applause rained upon the stage. 
  I received a bunch of items and a sword made by a master blacksmith for winning the tournament.
  Still, it wasn’t like I was a sword user and neither did I have any intention of becoming one, so I guess, I could just give it to either Muyeon or Gu Jeolyub.
  Well, they already seemed eager to claim it.
  Why are you guys excited when it’s mine?
  I did think about giving it away, but seeing them so enthusiastic, kind of made me reconsider.
  I could be rather petty at times.
  ‘Maybe she could use it?’
  Namgung Bi-ah briefly crossed my mind, but I quickly dismissed the thought.
  I already knew that she would get her own signature sword, so I didn’t want to give her this one.  
  ‘Though I don’t really have to do that.’
  She could use her sword later, after trying this one for a while, but I didn’t want her to.
  It was solely because of my stubbornness. 
  You could call it possessiveness in a way. 
  The cacophony of noise that stabbed my ears made me look around. 
  Many people around me were screaming and cheering.
  It was so loud that it felt like my ears would go numb if I didn’t cover them with my hands.
  At that moment, I felt a surge of warmth. 
  How should I put this…
  It was as if I had been the first to step on a pile of snow when no one else had.
  It felt like a new type of happiness, that I hadn’t felt before. 
  ‘What am I even saying?’
  Even I thought that came out of nowhere. 
  Which meant that my emotions were going wild.
  I forced my emotions to calm down.
  This might be the first time people were cheering for me, even though I didn’t deserve it, still I couldn’t let myself become overly excited just because I beat up some kids in the playground.
  Putting aside that embarrassing fact, I knew that if I enjoyed this feeling now, there would be no end to it in the future. So I had to make sure I controlled myself from this point on. 
  I shook my head to shake off my emotions and walked down. 
  The Alliance Leader was done with his speech and since I had done what I needed to do, I needed to go down now. 
  Also, the fight between Namgung Bi-ah and Moyong Hi-ah didn’t happen.
  It was because Namgung Bi-ah was still a patient, and Moyong Hi-ah revealed that she didn’t want to fight. 
  And it didn’t really matter too much since the official fights for the tournament already ended with a victor, and that fight was only going to be for the show. 
  But there were a lot of people that were sad because they couldn’t get to watch them fight.
  Even more than the finals for some people.
  ‘It’s because of their ludicrous beauty.’
  Namgung Bi-ah was being called with a new title and was now the top beauty of Anhui.
  And even without her status as the Snow Phoenix, Moyong Hi-ah was already famous for being beautiful, so people were probably disappointed because of that. 
  ‘But at that point, are they really trying to watch their fight?’
  Because in reality, all they wanted to see were just two beautiful women, so their lust could not be more blatant. 
  “Great job, Young Master Gu.”
  As soon as I came down, Tang Soyeol greeted me.
  Tang Soyeol, for some reason, looked like she had dressed up more than usual. 
  She had adorned herself with accessories I had never seen before, and it seemed like she had put on a little bit of makeup as well.
  Seeing Tang Soyeol like that, I asked her.
  “What’s with the makeup?”
  “Oh! You noticed? You are sharp huh…”
  “…Wouldn’t it be weirder for me to not notice?”
  How could I not notice if she had decorated herself that much?
  “It’s the last day, and isn’t it weirder for you to not dress up a little when this is your celebration?”
  “Dressing up is a hassle.”
  I didn’t even do anything impressive for me to do that…
  Ugh… Just imagining it gave me goosebumps. 
  Imagine me going up to the stage excitedly with flowers on my head. 
  Ugh… it did not fit me at all.
  Putting aside that thought, I looked around the area.
  It was to look for someone. 
  Tang Soyeol, who noticed this, gave me the answer I wanted straight away.
  “Sis Bi-ah didn’t come. She said she didn’t need to watch if it wasn’t going to be a fight.”
  “…How cold of her.”
  “She said she’s going to sleep back at the guesthouse because she’s tired.”
  “And that guesthouse is mine, right?”
  “Of course.”
  Why did she respond with ‘Of course.’, like it was some obvious fact?
  I just let it pass with a sigh since it was too late for me to argue about this. 
  I put it aside, then started to walk towards Wi Seol-Ah and the other servants that were waiting for me far away.
  I told her to just rest since she looked tired ever since the morning, but this girl desperately insisted that she should follow me. 
  I walked closer, but for some reason, Wi Seol-Ah’s expression didn’t seem the best.
  It certainly wasn’t too noticeable, but my eyes were able to notice it.
  I definitely saw her make a serious expression with slightly quivering eyes. 
  I inquired seeing her like that,
  “What’s wrong?”
  “Heh…? What?”
  But it seemed that Wi Seol-Ah was going to pretend that it was nothing.
  Her voice was the same as usual, but her reaction definitely seemed strange.
  “Did something happen?”
  “No? Nothing happened to me!”
  Wi Seol-Ah playfully shouted back when I continued to ask her. 
  Was my instinct wrong?
  I have never been wrong when it comes to things like these.
  Especially when it was about Wi Seol-Ah.
  I continued to stare at Wi Seol-Ah, but she only tilted her head in confusion.
  It definitely seemed like she had something going on, but I guess she didn’t want me to know.
  I didn’t inquire further and just patted Wi Seol-Ah’s head.
  “If something did happen, tell me. Otherwise I can’t help.”
  “But… nothing happened…”
  It seemed like she wasn’t going to tell me until the end. 
  Or was I just mistaken?
  That may also be possible.
  I put down the hand that had been patting her head, and looked towards Jang Seonyeon.
  Jang Seonyeon too, was walking away from the stage. 
  Maybe it was a coincidence, but the bastard turned his head around towards me. 
  Our eyes met. 
  Jang Seonyeon didn’t frown nor did he smile, and neither did he put on any kind of strange expression on his face like before.
  However, just by seeing his expressionless face, I could instinctively tell how the mask he had worked so hard to build had irreversibly cracked. 
  Seeing him, I thought.
  ‘Do wait for me.’
  Did he notice my intentions?
  Jang Seonyeon’s eyebrows flinched a little, as he turned around immediately and continued to walk in his original direction.
  I noticed that his shoulders seemed to point down a little when compared to the first time we had met. 
  As I watched him walk away, Tang Soyeol suddenly started to speak to me.
  “Young Master Gu, what are you going to do now?”
  “Do what?”
  “The event has ended already. Do you have any other plans?” 
  I thought for a little while after hearing Tang Soyeol. 
  Other plans, huh.
  ‘I could say I do have them.’
  The ring I got from the Second Elder. 
  I had to go see the Alliance Leader since I was already sure it was a treasure that belonged to the Murim Alliance.
  ‘But I’ll wait on this for now.’
  Of course, it wasn’t because I wanted to keep the treasure.
  In the first place, it wasn’t like there was a good reason for me to be greedy about this when this old worn-out ring had no special ability anyway. 
  It’s just that…
  ‘If I showed him this ring now…’
  Absurd rumors, such as me being some hidden disciple of the Dishonored Venerable, or that the Dishonored Venerable who had hidden himself from the world was staying in the Gu Clan, might start going around.
  ‘So I’ll just send it to them later anonymously.’
  I didn’t want to deal with such a hassle. I also had a lot of other complicated things in mind besides this. 
  One may ask why would I send a treasure in that manner, well it was a pain in the neck for me to be in possession of it, so I had no other choice. 
  I had something else to take care of.
  Though it was more of Elder Shin’s business than mine.
  One of the Ten Sect Alliance’s territories in Hanam.
  I had to go look for the Shaolin Temple in Hanam.
  Tang Soyeol asked me puzzled at my response. 
  “Why would you need to go to Shaolin…?”
  “For a tour I guess…”
  Honestly, that level of an excuse was enough.
  I didn’t need to say much besides me wanting to go on a tour to Shaolin Temple since I had come all the way to Hanam.  
  ‘But it’s a problem that the old man hasn’t woken up yet.’
  Elder Shin was the one that had told me to go to Shaolin no matter what if I came to Hanam, yet he has been asleep for the last few days.
  It should be about time that he wakes up, but for some reason it seemed like he was taking longer than before. 
  “I’m not gonna go right away, but I think I’ll go there soon.”
  “And you said your goal was to tour, right?”
  Tang Soyeol paused suddenly, and turned her head around to look at Wi Seol-Ah. 
  Every time Tang Soyeol had tried to say something about this topic, people had interrupted her. 
  So Tang Soyeol cautiously looked at her, to try to put a boundary between the two, yet for some reason, Wi Seol-Ah only continued to watch.
  ‘This is…’
  ‘Is she letting me speak? Is this some type of approval?’
  Tang Soyeol felt her pride getting bruised a little for becoming happy at getting the approval of a mere servant. But, Tang Soyeol was not in a position for her to be picky.
  “Young Master Gu…!”
  “Then, umm… perhaps when you go to Shaolin… “
  “Would you like to go with me?”
  “Yeah, that… wait what?”
  Someone took Tang Soyeol’s words out of her mouth right as she was about to speak them.
  And as it was quite an unexpected voice, even I looked at the owner of the voice with slightly shocked eyes. 
  “Well, you said you’re going to the Shaolin Temple.”
  The long black hair that swayed around, her porcelain like skin, the sharp gaze and a face that reminded me of a cat—
  A woman with an overwhelmingly charming beauty.
  “Huh, suddenly? With me?”
  It was the precious daughter of The Moyong Clan…
  The Snow Phoenix of The Five Dragons and Three Phoenixes— 
  Moyong Hi-ah. 
  “Would you like to go with me? To the Shaolin Temple.”
  Behind the scenes, Tang Soyeol let out some angry puffing sound with her nose. 
  Her eyes looked as if it was screaming,
  ‘How could you?!’
  However because Tang Soyeol was on the cuter side in appearance, she didn’t seem scary at all.
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