Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 75

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༺ Cold in the Midst of Summer (1) ༻
  As I entered the hut, I immediately saw the Plum Blossom Sword, breathing faintly while sleeping. 
  In my attempt to not wake her up from her slumber, I carefully sat in an open spot. 
  The Immortal Healer searched for some medicine in bandages through the drawers to apply to my wound.
  A small wound like this would heal in no time for a martial artist with a decent amount of Qi inside of their body. 
  “You aren’t thinking anything like that, right?”
  “…O-Of course not.”
  How keen…! 
  “Just because someone is a martial artist, it doesn’t mean that they will still live if their throat has been slit, or their heart has been pulled out.”
  After speaking those words, the Immortal Healer started applying the medicine on my injured hand. 
  It stung slightly at the start, but it felt better when he wrapped the bandages over it. 
  “I think someone like you would know that more than the others.”
  “What happened outside?”
  I was stunned at the sudden unexpected words that had come out of the Immortal Healer’s mouth. 
  Did he ask me that question while already knowing everything that happened outside? He had a serious expression on his face as if assuring me that he definitely knew what happened. 
  How did he find out? I did my best not to get any blood on me though.
  I was thinking of pretending not to know at first, but it wasn’t like I could really hide it since if I informed the Celestial Plum Blossom about this, he would tell the Immortal Healer anyways.
  So I responded with a light smile.
  “I had to take care of some punks outside. I saw some guys lurking around the hut.”
  “…Did they look like they’d be a threat?”
  “Yes, I believe they belonged to the Unorthodox Faction.”
  The Immortal Healer’s expression changed drastically, it was as if he felt pity for me. 
  Why was he making that face?
  Is it because I look young?
  ‘I mean, I am young.’
  “…Is this your first time?”
  “What do you…”
  “Of killing someone.”
  I didn’t know how to respond to that question, so I remained quiet. 
  I was wondering why he was looking at me like that, but I guess it was probably due to ‘that.’ 
  My hands were still shaking a bit from the previous fight, and the expression on the Immortal Healer’s face was deadly serious as he gazed at my trembling hands. 
  There was only one thing I could say to him at that moment.
  “I’m fine.”
  My body still hadn’t fully calmed down yet, but it wasn’t like I was thinking too deeply about all this either. 
  Does he think that this is his fault?
  He’s a more considerate old man than I thought.
  I guess it made sense as to why he became a doctor.
  “It was something I would experience in my life at one point anyways.” 
  The Immortal Healer cared about the life of everyone, no matter who they were, and I wasn’t about to tell him to not treat everyone equally now. 
  All this didn’t mean much to martial artists.
  Which was exactly why the Immortal Healer was probably making that bitter expression right now. 
  “There was a group of men that were lingering around the hut, the Celestial Plum Blossom would have done something about it if I told him anyways.”
  “Thank you.”
  I couldn’t help but make a surprised expression when I heard his words of gratitude. I did not expect to hear that from him.
  The Immortal Healer frowned when he read through my thoughts. 
  “What is that face that you’re making? Do you not even see me as a man that knows how to thank people who helped me?”
  “…No, it’s not like that.”
  “Not like that my ass, don’t bother lying like that in any other place as your face just gives it all away.” 
  ‘…Does it really?’ 
  「Your face basically speaks for itself, so don’t even think about trying.」
  Is it really that bad? I thought I did a good job hiding it until now.
  I was ready to stand up as it seemed like the treatment of my wounds was done.
  “…Don’t go overboard with the training and try to lean towards vegetables when you eat.”
  I stopped in my tracks at the Immortal Healer’s sudden words.
  When I looked back at him, the Immortal Healer leaked out a fake cough and signaled me to leave the hut.
  After experiencing what seemed like being kicked outside, I stood in a daze outside of the hut while Elder Shin suddenly spoke in my mind. 
  「It seems like he said that because of the energy inside your body.」
  He said that he wouldn’t treat me or anything, but did he actually care after all?
  He really was more considerate than I gave him credit for. 
  「Now that I mention it, what are you gonna do with the thing inside you?」
  ‘What do you mean by what would I do? I was told that I would have to live on with my life praying that it doesn’t explode. So, I will do just that.’
  「You mentioned before that you might have a solution to this problem though.」
  I bit my lips after hearing his words. 
  I did have a plan, but I was still feeling hesitant about it. 
  However, I had to quickly come to a decision as I probably didn’t have much time left. 
  While I was standing still, Gu Ryunghwa suddenly spoke up. 
  “Is your treatment done?”
  “…As you can see…”
  She was cutting down some ingredients with a kitchen knife in her hands. 
  What is that… a potato?
  It’s been cut down so much that I could barely tell that it’s a potato, so I was wondering if I should ask her about it.
  Gu Ryunghwa was focusing her all into cutting that single potato though… 
  After cutting the almost nonexistent potato for a long time, she suddenly spoke again. 
  “…Um… Are… you okay?”
  I tilted my head in confusion after hearing her question, then responded as I noticed that she was looking at my wounded hand while asking that question.
  “Are you worried?”
  Hearing that, she shouted back at me, as though annoyed that I even had the galls to say that to her. 
  “Who said I was worried!? I was just gonna tell you to screw off if you are finished here.”
  “I was planning on it, so don’t worry.”
  “I said I wasn’t worried…!”
  She was being loud for no reason, so I just ignored her.
  I let Gu Ryunghwa chirp at me all she wanted and started to make my way back to Mount Hua.
* * * * 
  After arriving back at Mount Hua, I went back to the Celestial Plum Blossom’s house and told him everything that happened.
  It was just a light task of me delivering a letter, but to suddenly hear that I came back after killing a bunch of people was enough to make his expression turn serious. 
  “I’m sorry.”
  The first thing he said with that serious face was unexpectedly an apology.
  I told him that it was fine.
  Thankfully, he didn’t ask about the mess I had created in the forest.
  He just informed me that he will check it later. 
  The conversation on this bothersome topic ended after he told me that he would send some martial artists to the area to scout it, but his face still didn’t ease up.
  “…It seems like I’ll need to do a thorough scouting of the area.”
  He was concerned about how there were people near the barrier, and how one of them even got away after learning about it.
  There were only so many people that knew about the fact that the Celestial Plum Blossom was taking care of the Plum Blossom Sword at a safe place that was inside that very barrier.
  But considering how an outsider like me found out, it wouldn’t have been weird for him to suspect me for the recent incident, however, the Celestial Plum Blossom didn’t seem to have any intention of thinking like that. 
  Even though there were incidents of martial artists of the Mount Hua Sect disappearing recently.
  ‘Was that also the Black Palace’s doing?’
  I didn’t know, but I felt like that was very likely what happened in reality. 
  I wanted to know what they were doing at this time period and how they had that slight bit of Demonic Qi inside of their body,
  But I had no way to find out.
  As I wasn’t even able to fully use my own body. 
  I instantly responded to his call and looked at him.
  After organizing his thoughts for some time, his expression eased back to its usual state.
  For him to be so calm even at times like these…
  I unknowingly felt a bit of respect for him.
  “You had some difficulty in your work… So I’ll come to you some days later with a gift, since keeping you here for any longer would only make you more exhausted?” 
  “A gift?” 
  “Since an outsider got involved with the Mount Hua Sect’s conflicts, it is my responsibility to give you an adequate payment.”
  He could have blamed me for killing them so gruesomely with my flame arts, but I just shut my mouth since he said he’ll do something for me.
  ‘How can I reject a gift?’
  After thinking like that, I bowed my head and left his place. 
  He told me that the Mount Hua Sect will take care of the rest, so this problem was solved on my end. 
  And the worst thing I got out of this was just a small scratch on my hand, so I was really grateful about everything. 
  「What a lenient world, you live in brat.」
  I could more or less understand why Elder Shin spoke like that. 
  To be fair, it could’ve been just because this was the Mount Hua Sect, but the current world I was living in was much more peaceful than the world of the future I experienced in my previous life.
  ‘Though that future isn’t all that far away.’
  At most a few years. 
  Only a few more years were left until that dreaded time of the world came knocking.
  After running the errand, it had gotten a bit past lunchtime already. 
  When I went inside the lodge, the servants were working on the house chores.
  ‘Where is Wi Seol-Ah?’
  It became a habit of mine to look for her whenever I returned, but, as expected,
  Wi Seol-Ah was working hard on the house chores along with the servants.
  When she noticed me, she smiled brightly and waved her hand.
  I waved back.
  I was wondering if the Sword Emperor was here since Wi Seol-Ah was, but I wasn’t able to find him no matter where I looked. 
  I did not expect that Wi Seol-Ah would come back alone to the sect.
  But since it made no sense for me to even dare to worry about the Sword Emperor, I just took it as him having some business of his own in Shaanxi and went inside my room, ending that trail of thoughts. 
  I was wondering if Namgung Bi-ah was still sleeping, but the room was currently empty.
  “Where did she go?”
  The blankets were folded neatly, so it seemed like it had been quite some time since she left the room… 
  But did she even have any place to go in Mount Hua?
  While I was standing there and thinking to myself in confusion, the servant that was passing by spoke to me.
  “Lady Namgung went to the mountain.”
  “The mountain? What does she got to do going there?” 
  “…Um, I saw her bring a wooden sword with her, so I believe that she went there to train?”
  “…Oh, I see. Thanks.”
  The servant flinched when I conveyed my gratitude to her. 
  I thought things had gotten better between me and the servants but was it still the same? 
  「For a servant to be so scared of being thanked by you just… How… did you treat them before?」
  ‘…Umm, I was a bit harsh with them in the past.’
  I do try my best to treat them better now though.
  I was just thankful that I had not resurrected at a time when I caused a massive scene. 
  ‘If I regressed at a time that’s 1 or 2 years further into the future…’
  What would have happened?
  …I don’t even want to think about it.
  After watching Wi Seol-Ah do the laundry, I went to the mountain where Namgung Bi-ah had reportedly gone to. 
  I didn’t really have a particular reason behind going there besides being curious about why that dumbo went to the mountain out of all places.
  Even just looking at the mountain’s height made me want to puke. Due to the Qi I had used earlier in the morning, it was still pretty tiring for me to climb it even after using Qi.
– Swoosh—! 
  While I was walking past the trees, I felt a sudden sharp sensation going past my body.
  Namgung Bi-ah didn’t really show off much presence beside her heaven-defying beauty, but she had a special characteristic of her own that was just like her previous life self. 
– Woosh—! Swoosh—! 
  Namgung Bi-ah would become a completely different person altogether when she would grab hold of a sword. 
  Her usual dumb eyes would vanish instantly and it would be replaced by an eerie level of focus that would all go forth into her sword. 
  It wasn’t really hard to find Namgung Bi-ah due to that very trait. 
  When I found a small opening in the forest, I saw Namgung Bi-ah swinging her sword in the middle of that area.
  It seemed like I wasn’t the only one that had looked at her, as I noticed some guys from the Mount Hua Sect around the area.
  There’s more than I expected…
  ‘Are they observing her?’
  Some people were observing her movements.
  Even with so many people staring at her like that, Namgung Bi-ah continued to train as though there was nothing that could impede her focus. 
  A sharp sensation that pressured the entire area, 
  Namgung Bi-ah, holding a wooden sword in her hands, was moving as though she was walking on top of sharp sword tips. 
  The appearance I had seen the very first time since I met her after regression in this life, 
  The Master of Swords.
  Namgung Bi-ah’s flexible movements that couldn’t even be dared to be compared to her useless brother were being shown openly. 
  The flexible movements made by the Master of Swords were overpowering the entire area surrounding the forest opening. 
  「…How impressive.」
  Spoke Elder Shin, as he had once mentioned when seeing Yung Pung. 
  To be honest, Namgung Bi-ah looked far more impressive than Yung Pung in my eyes.
  Unlike the sharp Qi that the clansmen of the Namgung clan were renowned for showcasing in their swords, 
  Namgung Bi-ah was moving fluidly and elegantly.
  It looked like I was watching a sword dance.
  She wanted to further enhance her art on the path of swords, while simultaneously looking for enlightenment within that path.
  Hence, she spread her wings to reach that enlightenment and it looked elegant and utterly mesmerizing. 
  I honestly found it hard to believe that she was being called the ‘Master of Swords’ with such elegant movement.
  I was reminded once again of Namgung Bi-ah’s excellence. 
  Both Yung Pung and Namgung Bi-ah, and the other geniuses and prodigies of the world.
  They were already showing their own light.
  ‘Unlike me at this time.’
  「The current world is brimming with passion, huh…」
  I nodded, agreeing with Elder Shin’s words.
  I watched Namgung Bi-ah’s sword dance for a long time, but the swordplay she was showing now felt a bit different than what I was used to. 
  I couldn’t feel any violence within it unlike when I watched it being displayed by the Demonic Sword, and instead only felt the notes of purity and elegance contained within it.
  That was the only thing I had to say about her sword art.
  Her sword dance was truly that much mesmerizing to my eyes. 
– Crunch 
  Namgung Bi-ah stopped her sword dance when she heard a small noise that had been made in the distance.
  – Oh…
  The people that were watching her sounded as though they were disappointed as she had stopped.
  Which just showed how perfect her performance had been in reality. 
  Namgung Bi-ah looked in the direction of where the noise originated. 
  And at the end of that path, was me standing on the ground. 
  ‘…Shit, I really stepped on that.’
  I thought I was being careful, but I still accidentally stepped on a branch.
  Everyone was watching Namgung Bi-ah, but she was only looking towards me. 
  As she had moved about so much, there were faint traces of sweat on her forehead. 
  But she didn’t care too much about it and wiped her sweat with her clothes.
  While Namgung Bi-ah was looking at me, her eyes suddenly contorted and then widened as though she was greatly shocked by something. 
  All of a sudden, she even threw her wooden sword away and ran toward me in a fast pace. 
  Reaching where I was in a flash, Namgung Bi-ah pulled my clothes with both of her hands and started sniffing me like an anxious dog.
  “…What the! What are you doing!?”
  I tried to push her away in shock, but Namgung Bi-ah was persistent and didn’t budge.
  It looked like… she was shocked at the same time she felt despair? 
  ‘Why does she look so desperate?’
  After she was done sniffing me with her trembling eyes, she backed off, seemingly having calmed down slightly. 
  Then her legs suddenly gave out, making her collapse on the ground. 
  “Why are you acting like that, are you hurt by any chance?”
  “Thank goodness…”
  She looked relieved after sniffing me for that long.
  Was it just me or did it seem like she leaked more cold sweat due to this than the sweat she had accumulated from her training? 
  She was sweating so profusely, so I had no choice but to go closer to her and wipe her sweat away with my own clothes. 
  Suddenly, she grabbed my hand with her own trembling ones. 
  After grabbing my wrist, carefully, she pulled my hand toward her nose.
  I was wondering in my mind just why the hell she was acting like that. 
  “Do I smell?”
  Did I stink? Some cumbersome things did happen earlier, but I didn’t really move around so much that I would stink though. 
  Namgung Bi-ah shook her head quickly, responding to my question in a small voice.
  “…You don’t stink.”
  I felt relieved, for some reason, after hearing her say that.
  After sitting there for a long time, Namgung Bi-ah lifted her body up weakly.
  For like the hundredth time, I was wondering in my head if I should take back my hand from hers or keep it there. 
  In the end, I decided to leave my hand there since she seemed so serious.
  「If you chose the other option there, I swear you are not qualified to be a man any longer.」
  “Did you finish your training?”
  “You sure you don’t want to continue? I think you still got some time to train more.” 
  “…Since you are here.”
  Is she saying she’s going to stop because I’m here?
  I was wondering if she really had to do that because of me, but trying to understand Namgung Bi-ah would just make me get a massive headache so I didn’t even try. 
  Quietly picking up her wooden sword, she trotted over to me with quick steps. 
  “Your hand… it’s hurt?”
  “Yeah, just a scratch.”
  I swear every person is asking me this today.
  I could then hear a disappointed tone leaking out of her mouth. 
  “…I wanted to ask you for a duel.”
  …I now felt thankful that I had gotten hurt.
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