Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 91

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༺ Treatment (4) ༻
  After morning came the Immortal Healer returned with some medicine.
  It seemed like he’d gotten them from Mount Hua.
  ‘How does he do it with such a frail body?’
  It was hard enough for normal people to climb up and down the mountain, but the Immortal Healer was doing it like it was nothing with his body.
  He must be getting them delivered to him, right? 
  I felt that it’d be too much for his body if that wasn’t the case.
  “…All of the turbid energy is gone.”

  Those were the words that the Immortal Healer said whilst he thoroughly inspected the Sword Master’s body.
  Thankfully, all of the Demonic Qi that had been inside her had been extracted successfully.
  I was told that when I’d fainted during the process, the Sword Master had fainted soon after.
  And when the Immortal Healer checked on us after, he saw that the turbid energy that had been inside the Sword Master was gone.
  And told me that my body also seemed like it had no problems.
  What I learned from this was that.
  ‘As I thought, the Immortal Healer can’t feel the Demonic Qi inside my body.’
  That seemed the most likely scenario because he had been able to notice the turbid energy inside the Sword Master, but didn’t say anything about the Demonic Qi that was inside my body.
  ‘…But how?’
  Saying that I didn’t have it would be wrong because even as I thought to myself, I could feel the Demonic Qi wriggling inside my body.
  ‘Thankfully, it seems like it’s in the process of purification.’
  The Demonic Qi inside my body was slowly getting eaten up and purified by my destructive flame arts.
  There was just so much that I could barely notice the process.
  ‘I don’t really feel the Demonic Qi going wild, or feel any pain at all.’
  That was what I was most relieved about.
  I’d been worried about what to do if the Demonic Qi I absorbed went wild.
  But at the moment, that hadn’t happened.
  The Immortal Healer, after noticing that my body was fine, told me to go back and rest.
  He said that I looked fine, but told me to call him if a problem occurred.
  I was surprised at the unexpectedly kind act from the Immortal Healer.
– He really got rid of the turbid energy, I need to see how he did it! Opening up his body would be the easiest way to find out, but I can’t do that right now. What should I…
  I felt like I shouldn’t be listening to this, so I quickly left.
  When I was about to leave, the Sword Master called out to me, telling me that she’d visit me later,
  And then thanked me.
  I responded, telling her that there was no need for her to thank me, and then returned to the lodge.
  And now at present,
  “You told me to come back before the meal… and yet you stayed out the entire night?”
  I think I’m f*cked.
  * * * * 
  Two pairs of cold, angry eyes were looking at me.
  The chills I felt as a result of the glares made me feel as if I was standing in the snow.
  ‘…I’m f*cked.’
  Wi Seol-Ah tossed her head to the side after looking at me for a while,
  But Namgung Bi-ah continued to glare at me without even blinking.
  She already had a cold expression by default so her icy glare made me feel like there was snow falling around her.
  “Uh, it’s…”

  How did I end up in this situation…?

  I paused for a moment after that thought popped up, and then actually thought the situation through.
  …Why am I getting in trouble right now?
  It felt like the situation was flowing weirdly. 
  Because of that, I almost blurted out an excuse.
  ‘…I’m the owner of this place, so why am I in trouble for staying out overnight?’
  Of course, part of it was really my fault for not coming back after telling her to come back before the meal.
  But I had things that I needed to take care of.
  What was even more absurd was,
  ‘Why can’t I just say it since I know that…!?’
  My instinct was telling me,
  That I should just stay silent.
  It was telling me that I would only get in more trouble if I spoke.
  And so I kept my mouth shut and continued to look at Namgung Bi-ah.
  After we’d stared at each other for a while, Namgung Bi-ah moved.
  Just as it seemed that she was leaving to continue her training, she spoke to me.
  “…At least, tell me next time…”

  After saying those words, she left to train.
  That evening, I experienced the quietest meal I had ever had since my regression. 
  Namgung Bi-ah didn’t speak much in the first place, but even Wi Seol-Ah didn’t say a word.
  I honestly felt like I was going to get sick.
  Then the next day came.
  Wi Seol-Ah was someone whose mood quickly changed after a day even if she had been sulking the previous day, so she came to me with a bright smile, and we talked.
  I didn’t know if Namgung Bi-ah was still angry at me for yesterday, but in my eyes, it seemed like she wasn’t thinking much about it.
  ‘…Am I saved?’
  I felt like I could finally catch my breath.
  When I checked my body, I saw that there was still Demonic Qi flowing inside, but as the purification process was still underway, it was much calmer.
  I even revolved the Qi around me, checking just in case for if the Demonic Qi inside me had become noticeable, but thankfully, the Qi I released wasn’t demonic in nature.
  It felt like the Demonic Qi was being suppressed by something. Like something was preventing it from doing anything.
  ‘…Is this related to the voice I heard?’
  The voice I’d heard while absorbing the Demonic Qi that had been inside the Sword Master.
  The suspicious, ominous voice aroused my concern.
  ‘Perhaps, the reason why Elder Shin disappeared was…’
  I couldn’t erase that thought.
  Where had the noisy voice of the elder suddenly gone off to otherwise?
  Could whatever it was that was devouring the Qi even reach Elder Shin?

  It wasn’t that I missed Elder Shin just because a few days had passed,
  I had definitely become attached to him, but before that, I had to know…
  ‘How far can this thing reach?’
  If something was inside my body, I had to find out what that thing was.
  I also had to find out what that thing wanted.
  Is this thing the monster Elder Shin was suppressing?
  I wasn’t too certain of that, but I had no answers other than that.
  ‘Is this also because of my demonic art?’
  The demonic art that had somehow followed me even into my resurrection…
  I had been able to do many things with this sickening power in my past life, but I didn’t want to repeat those same things again.
  “…How tiring.”

  For a second, I thought I heard an old man’s voice; saying that I was still complaining even after everything had ended on a good note.
  …Did Elder Shin really disappear?

  It felt wrong to say that because, for some reason, it felt like he hadn’t completely disappeared. But I didn’t know why.
  While I was meditating, I felt a presence outside.
– Young master, it’s Hongwa.
  After hearing the voice, I stopped revolving my Qi.
  My focus was already broken, so there was no point in continuing.
  “What’s up?”

– Slide.
  Hongwa carefully opened the door after my response.
  “…A guest came looking for you.”

  “A guest? Who?”
  Yung Pung immediately came to mind.
  The only guests I usually had were Yung Pung and the Celestial Plum Blossom.
  So it felt right to assume that it was Yung Pung, particularly as the Celestial Plum Blossom was most likely busy with resolving everything that had happened up until now.
  But, an unexpected name came out of Hongwa’s mouth.
  “Young Lady came to look for you.”


  Gu Ryunghwa had come to visit.
  And not just by herself, but with another person.
  * * * *
  With Hongwa’s guidance, they came into the room.
  Gu Ryunghwa, who seemed visibly uncomfortable, stepped in alongside another woman.
  “I’m sorry for visiting you so randomly.”

  “…It’s… no problem.”

  I was so shocked that I even stuttered my words.
  The person who accompanied Gu Ryunghwa… was none other than the Sword Master.
  But the problem was that it took me a while to realize that the person before me was indeed the Sword Master.
  She had changed that much.
  ‘I’d thought that she would just look a little younger…’
  But it wasn’t just ‘a little younger’. The white hair she’d had was completely gone―replaced by a deep black, and the wrinkles that had made her look older than the Celestial Plum Blossom had completely disappeared.
  She looked like she was in her thirties… at most forty.
  ‘…Is it normal to change that much just because I absorbed Demonic Qi from her…?’
  The Qi she had been using to fight against the Demonic Qi had probably been restored to its original locations after I extracted the Demonic Qi.
  I knew already how pure and clear the Sword Master’s Qi was since I’d seen it yesterday, but I hadn’t known that it was this powerful.
  “…I’m glad that you look to be in a healthier shape.”

  “You seem very surprised.”

  Yes, I really was surprised.
  Because the elderly woman you used to look like disappeared and you’ve come back looking like an elegant lady…
  She definitely looked younger than yesterday.
  The Sword Master put on a light smile after noticing my thoughts.
  “I was also surprised. I didn’t even think that I could go back to my normal appearance, but it only took a few days to change this much…”

  ‘…I guess she didn’t change her bones after all.’
  Since she’d said that this was her normal appearance, then that was probably the case.
  To be fair, it’s probably impossible for her to just change her bones like that in one day in the first place.
  “The Immortal Healer went on about how it was impossible for me to change this much in just a day, so I calmed him down when he said he was going to go find you.”

  “Oh, that I am very thankful for…”

  I remembered the expression on the face of the Immortal Healer when he’d said that he wanted to look into my body.
  I was sure that I’d seen a bit of lunacy in that face.
  ‘I should avoid him for a few days…’
  I was a bit scared.
  “I came here today because I still haven’t thanked you yet.”

  “You really don’t have to…”

  “How can I not, when I’m indebted to you for saving my life?”
  After saying those words, the Sword Master respectfully lowered her head to me.
  I tried to stop her in shock, but the Sword Master spoke faster than I could act.
  “Thank you. You saved this lacking woman’s life…”

  “Sword Master…”

  “It’s only thanks to you that I can see the light of next year that I shouldn’t have been able to see, and that I didn’t have to feel guilty about leaving my disciple behind, so how can I not thank you?”

  “I just did what I felt was right to do.”

  “I know better than anyone that that is the hardest thing to do.”

  …Is that really the case?

  The Sword Master had said that with complete honesty, but it was something that I couldn’t understand.
  I hadn’t done what I did because of whatever reason she thinks I did it for.
  I’d only did it to atone for all my sins.
  The Sword Master then spoke to me.
  “If you have something you want, do tell me. This life was saved only thanks to you, so I’m willing to give it up for you whenever you want.”

  Gu Ryunghwa called her master with shock, but the Sword Master’s eyes seemed serious.
  I smiled at her.
  “How can you offer your life when you’ve just been saved?”

  She was offering her life to me even though it had only been a few days since she was cured.
  This told me that the gratitude she felt towards me was just that genuine.
  I glanced at Gu Ryunghwa.
  And as our eyes met, Gu Ryunghwa let out a fake cough and quickly looked away.
  ‘I think I’m the one that’s indebted to you instead.’
  It was a pointless thought.
  I shook my head quickly to put it aside.
  “Instead of your life, I think I may have a request for you.”

  “Tell me what it is, I’ll do anything.”

  “Um, can you say that you’ll do anything when you don’t even know what I want to ask?”

  What if I told her to betray Mount Hua, or to kill someone, what would she do then?

  The Sword Master then spoke while lightly laughing after noticing my thoughts.
  “Whatever request you’ll make, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be something that will harm anyone.”

  What did she see in me that made her think that?

  I avoided looking at her after feeling uncomfortable by her overflowing faith in me.
  ‘I was the one that burnt down Mount Hua.’
  I told myself that I wouldn’t run away from it anymore, however, and it only made it scarier.
  Until everyone in Mount Hua had died, and everything was burnt into ashes; I had watched it till the end, so I clearly remembered everything that happened.
  “…I’ll visit you later since it’s not something I need to ask now.”

  The Sword Master smiled at my words.
  “Oh, and I have one more thing I want to ask you.”

  “Yes. I’ve been curious for a long time… But I never got to ask.”

  The Sword Master, after saying that, told Gu Ryunghwa to go outside.
  Gu Ryunghwa seemed like she wanted to stay, but the Sword Master strictly ordered her.
  “Go outside for a bit.”


  Then Gu Ryunghwa left the room, sulking,
  And as Gu Ryunghwa departed the room, the smile on the Sword Master’s face disappeared, giving way for a serious expression.
  What is she going to ask me?

  I told her that she could ask me, and the Sword Master paused for a second to release a deep sigh,
  After that, she spoke.
  “Do you know about Cheonhee’s disappearance?”
  The thing that the Sword Master was curious about…
  It was about my mother.
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