Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 72

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༺ A Bit of a Scratch (1) ༻
 
 
 
  Not long after, Yung Pung came back to my room.
 
  The situation hadn’t exactly gotten better, but I told the two girls to go and eat breakfast anyways.
 
  Wi Seol-Ah seemed like she wasn’t completely satisfied with that arrangement, but she still listened to me due to the allure of food. 
 
  I also had to eat… but I decided to wait first, thinking that whatever Yung Pung wanted to discuss with me was probably rather urgent considering how early he’d dropped by.
 
  Even after Yung Pung returned, he still looked a bit uncomfortable with everything.
 
  Who would’ve known that the genius who would be the representative of the Mount Hua Sect in the future was the type to get easily bothered by this kind of thing…?
 
  ‘Is it because he gets beaten up by his seniors?’
 
  In my eyes, they were just acts born from brotherly love, but it could be different from Yung Pung’s point of view.
 
  I spoke to Yung Pung whose gaze seemed to be moving about aimlessly.
 
  “Master Yung Pung, what brings you here so early in the morning?”

  “Oh.”

  Yung Pung smiled after being woken up by my call.
 
  Or was it because it didn’t feel awkward to him anymore? 
 
  “It’s nothing big. The sect leader was looking for you.”

  “The Lord…? This early in the morning?”
 
  Celestial Plum Blossom is looking for me?
 
  I briefly wondered why he would but then remembered the thing that was inside of me. 
 
  “Should I go to him now?”
 
  “He said that you could come whenever you are free.”
 
  So I didn’t have to go now then.
 
  Thankfully, it seemed like I would be able to eat before entangling into something troublesome.
 
  “Have you eaten yet?”
 
  I asked Yung Pung who was already running around so early in the morning. 
 
  Even though I was pretty sure I already knew the answer to that question, considering he was already neatly dressed up in his uniform. 
 
  “Oh, I was on my way to do some morning training after breakfast.”
 
  “…This early in the morning? That’s commendable.”
 
  “Huh…? Don’t most people go out to train this early in the morning?”
 
  What the hell is he on about?
 
  I couldn’t respond to Yung Pung’s innocent question.
 
  The Taoists’ mornings started earlier than the average people.
 
  It was said that Taoists had to get the energy that lingered right after daybreak, so they had to get up at around 5 to 7am in the morning.
 
  …While I usually woke up by the time the sun had completely risen.
 
  Today was an exception because I couldn’t sleep easily last night.
 
  「Just say that you couldn’t sleep last night because of the breathing you heard next to you.」
 
  ‘…’
 
  …Ahem.
 
  Namgung Bi-ah didn’t move at all after falling asleep.
 
  She just calmly laid still and breathed lightly, but that was enough to keep me up through the night.
 
  Thanks to that, I barely got any sleep.
 
  ‘…I guess I can enjoy the fresh air in the morning thanks to that.’
 
  The morning breeze always felt refreshing.
 
  But I didn’t want to experience breathing it much… getting up so early was hard, after all. 
 
  Yung Pung, for some reason, had shiny eyes after hearing me speak.
 
  Why is he making those eyes?
 
  Yung Pung spoke in response to the question in my mind. 
 
  “Young Master, I think that it is fate that we ran into each other right now.”

  “…How is it fate when you came to me because you had something to tell me?”

  “So how about we train together?”
 
  …It was like talking to a brick wall.
 
  Just like back when we’d traveled together on our way to Mount Hua, Yung Pung, for some reason, wanted to train with me.
 
  Whether it was because he was a maniac for training or that he had another intention was something I didn’t know, but he would always ask me for training each day whenever we met.
 
  “…No, I’ll pas—”
 
  I had to eat, and preferred to train alone, so I was thinking of rejecting him again.
 
  But I suddenly got curious about how the people of Mount Hua trained.
 
  He asked me every day to train, so did that mean that our method of training was different? 
 
  And I also thought that there was no way that he would do some stupidly absurd training this early in the morning.
 
  “Hmm… If you are fine with waiting for me to eat breakfast first then…”

  “Yayyy!”
 
  So I just accepted the offer to train with him.
 
  Thinking that there was no way that it would kill me.
 
  That I’d just take it as morning training that was a little heavier than usual.
 
  I realized much later,
 
  That curiosity really killed the cat.
 
  …Then again, I already knew that something like this would happen, 
 
  So why did I make myself go through this again…
 
  Fuck my life…
 
* * *
 
  When it hadn’t even been 2 hours yet since the training started,
 
  “…Ughh… Pant…”

  I was down on the ground moaning in pain.
 
  I felt dirty because of being covered in sweat,
 
  And the pain that I felt in each bone echoed even in my head.
 
  Fuck…
 
  I could barely even breathe…
 
  Yung Pung, who had started training at the same time as me was still going at it as if this sort of training was nothing to him.
 
  He’d even told me that he was planning to climb the mountain with sandbags around his wrists and ankles after this…
 
  ‘Isn’t this guy insane?’
 
  I hadn’t trained lazily after my resurrection.
 
  I trained whenever I found free time, so I thought that I was being somewhat hard on myself,
 
  And I get that it was ‘somewhat,’ but whatever I had done was simply incomparable to this. 
 
  I saw other third-generation students training alongside as well, but Yung Pung especially trained more than the others.
 
  “Young Master, are you alright?”

  Yung Pung soon approached me, feeling worried because I was down on the ground. 
 
  I saw beads of sweat on his forehead, but it was absurd because his expression seemed mostly refreshed.
 
  “Young Master…”

  “Hmm?”

  “…Are you alright?”
 
  “…Pardon?”

  From Yung Pung’s perspective, that question probably sounded absurd. 
 
  ‘Was my body really this weak?’
 
  It was probably because I hadn’t been putting all of my efforts into training. 
 
  I felt that I needed to up my training regimen. 
 
  I felt shameful that I was still living my life somewhat lazily even after regression.
 
  I was still half-fainted because of my exhausted body, but thankfully I’d gotten something from this situation.
 
  This served as a wake-up call for me.
 
  ‘…Though I won’t be training this much.’
 
  I forcefully lifted my aching body up.
 
  I couldn’t get up easily, so I had to use a bit of my Qi, but I was able to somehow get up in the end.
 
  「Will you be fine?」
 
  While I was wiping off the sweat from my face, Elder Shin asked.
 
  ‘What do you mean?’
 
  「Is it okay for you to recklessly use your body like that, with the thing inside you?」
 
  Elder Shin was referring to the potential collision of Qi that could happen inside my body which could damage my body.
 
  My destructive flame Qi, Mount Hua’s Qi, and the mysterious thing that was inside of me.
 
  I really have a bunch of shit in my body, don’t I? 
 
  The owner of the body didn’t even care when there were two things that were living in the body rent-free…
 
  Furthermore, I was told that these were things that could explode at any moment, so I could only laugh.
 
  However,
 
  ‘I’m still fine.’
 
  I knew what Elder Shin was worried about, but I was still fine.
 
  It wasn’t because of some careless mindset of ‘It would have exploded already if it was going to.’
 
  But I was able to predict that something like this could happen. 
 
  I also sort of knew the way to solve all of this as well.
 
  It was just that it wasn’t a cure.
 
  But more of a solution or prevention.
 
  ‘…I really didn’t want to do this.’
 
  Even if what I was thinking was correct, I still had to properly consider it.
 
  I needed to.
 
  I lifted my hair that was drenched in sweat and asked Yung Pung.
 
  “Will you leave after you do more training?”

  “Hmm? Oh, yes, of course, I’m still only around halfway done.”

  “What…?”

  “Shame… It seems like you are not feeling well today?”

  “…I did have a hard time falling asleep last night.”

  “Oh! Then it makes sense that you feel tired so suddenly!”

  I wasn’t tired because of that, but I was thankfully able to use that as an excuse.
 
  I shook my head at Yung Pung’s absurd words.
 
  I should be learning from him as a martial artist, but I wondered why I felt so reluctant about it.
 
  「It’s because you still don’t know the beauty of training yet. Tsk tsk… Your pain would go away if you just ran a lap… I can’t believe you are just giving up without running a lap.」
 
  …Are the people of Mount Hua abnormal one, or am I the odd one out?
 
  I honestly didn’t know at this point.
 
  I washed my sweat away with water and changed my clothing.
 
  When I looked inside my place, Namgung Bi-ah was taking a nap as it seemed like she didn’t get enough sleep.
 
  Wi Seol-Ah was sleeping next to her, and since both of them were so pretty, they looked like blood-related sisters. 
 
  I didn’t like how they were comfortably sleeping when I could barely walk right now.
 
  So I went up close to them and squeezed both of their noses. 
 
  “Mmph!”
 
  “…?”

  Wi Seol-Ah got up right away because she couldn’t breathe, while Namgung Bi-ah drowsily opened her eyes but didn’t get up.
 
  She didn’t wake up even after that…?

  When Wi Seol-Ah got up, I saw that the hair that had been neatly done by Hongwa was all messed up from her sleep. 
 
  I spoke after seeing that.
 
  “You’ll turn into a pig if you sleep right after you eat, you know?”

  “…Oomph… Hmm?”

  Wi Seol-Ah still hadn’t fully woken up yet, so I just patted her head and stood up.
 
  Namgung Bi-ah, meanwhile, was already asleep as if she had never woken up in the first place.
 
  “Young Master…”

  “Hmm?”

  “Where are you going?”

  “The sect leader is calling for me.”

  “Will it take a while?”
 
  “Hmm… I’m not sure but I don’t think it’ll take that long.”

  “Will you come back before bedtime…?”

  “I probably will, considering I do need to sleep.”
 
  I would pass on sleeping on the streets.
 
  I’d already had enough of that in my previous life.
 
  “Then it’s all good! Have a safe trip!”

  After saying that with a smile, Wi Seol-Ah laid down next to Namgung Bi-Ah again.
 
  I just let her be since she would soon be taken away by Hongwa for work anyways.
 
  I lifted my aching body up and made my way to the leader’s house.
 
  I noticed the students of the Mount Hua Sect glancing at me on my way there, but I just ignored them as they stared at me like I was some sort of rare animal.
 
  I didn’t care as long as they didn’t have any ill intent.
 
  When I arrived in front of his door, I heard Celestial Plum Blossom say, ‘Come in.’
 
  I haven’t even said anything yet… He has good hearing.
 
  When I carefully entered the building, I was able to smell the scent of green plum tea again, like the last time I came to this place. 
 
  And there were snacks this time.
 
  “You told me that you didn’t have them last time, did you buy some?”

  “Right, I went down to the market yesterday because I had nothing here. Don’t they look tasty?”

  They did look sweet and tasty…
 
  But I had already grown out of eating sweets, so I just smiled.
 
  “What was the reason behind you calling me here?”

  The Celestial Plum Blossom let out a hollow laugh when I asked him about why I had been called as soon I sat down. 
 
  “I was hoping you’d enjoy some tea first… I swear all you guys from Gu are always in a hurry…”

  “Oh.”

  I was able to picture the second elder within the Celestial Plum Blossom once again.
 
  Everything was fine about him except the fact that he was somewhat similar to that fire bear of an old man…
 
  It was insane.
 
  I was thirsty anyways, so I ate a yakgwa that was in front of me and washed it down with tea.
 
  The Celestial Plum Blossom spoke again after noticing my somewhat dissatisfied expression.
 
  “It’s not much, but do you remember the hut we visited yesterday?”

  “Yes… The place where the Plum Blossom Sword resides in, right?”

  It was a place where the Plum Blossom Sword was being treated by the Immortal Healer, so there was no way that I would forget about it.
 
  The Celestial Plum Blossom spoke after handing me a letter.
 
  “Could you go there and deliver this letter to Tae?”

  “Me?”

  It was a bit sudden.
 
  Because it was something that was hard to be discussed with outsiders.
 
  So why was I being tasked with doing this when there were so many third-generation students of Mount Hua?

  For example, someone like Yung Pung, Yung Pung, or Yung Pung.
 
  I failed to keep my expressions in check and accidentally revealed a confused face.
 
  The Celestial Plum Blossom laughed when he saw that.
 
  “It seems like you are confused as to why I’m asking you to do this.”
 
  “Honestly yes, as something like this is hard to discuss with outsiders.”

  “…Most people of the Mount Hua Sect don’t know where the Plum Blossom Sword is.”

  I felt numb after hearing Celestial Plum Blossom.
 
  They don’t know? 
 
  “And not many know that she is sick either.”

  “Then why was I the one that was allowed to learn about such an important thing…?”

  “…”

  If most people didn’t know, then that would most likely include Yung Pung and the other third-generation students, the second-generation students, and even the first-generation students. 
 
  So why am I being informed about such an important matter when I just arrived here out of the blue just to return the treasure?
 
  Did Celestial Plum Blossom think this through? 

  But the Celestial Plum Blossom struggled to give an answer to my question.
 
  He even seemed like he was avoiding eye contact, is it just my mistake…?

  I asked just in case.
 
  “Did you… perhaps forget about it?”

  “…Ahem! Of course not!”

  I was certain after seeing his reaction.
 
  …He really forgot about such a thing?

  I was more certain after hearing Celestial Plum Blossom’s fake cough.
 
  I thought that maybe he had a plan since he suddenly took me to the Immortal Healer, but he’d actually just gone there without a plan. 
 
  Mount Hua Sect… is their future really going to be okay?
 
  「…Oh God, help us all…」
 
  Even Elder Shin was seeking out God for help.
 
  “Even so, for an outsider like me to take care of this and not the leader—”
 
  “Yakgwa.”

  “Huh?”

  “You ate the yakgwa.”

  “What are you…?”

  I was wondering what the Celestial Plum Blossom was talking about, so I looked around,
 
  And I found an empty spot on the dish that had yakgwas on it.
 
  A piece from the dish was missing because I’d eaten it.
 
  ‘…Is he really going to make me do this just for a piece of yakgwa?’ 
 
  I wanted to believe that it wasn’t true, but I became speechless after looking at Celestial Plum Blossom who was avoiding eye contact as if he was embarrassed.
 
  The heroic image of the Celestial Plum Blossom that I had imagined in my head was completely crushed and crumbled.
 
  I spoke to Celestial Plum Blossom.
 
  “My Lord…”

  “…Yes.”

  “Now I get why you are friends with the Second Elder…”

  “…Ahem.”

  The Celestial Plum Blossom turned his head away after hearing my comment about him and the Second Elder.
 
  It seemed like he was also embarrassed by that fact.
 
 
 
 
 
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