༺ Someone Who Will Tell You Better than Anyone Else (2) ༻
The “Honorary Martial Artist” title was given to an outsider as a way to express gratitude when a clan was indebted to that person.
It was basically a title that expressed “This person is the savior of our clan!”
I was basically asking the Celestial Plum Blossom to approve me as Mount Hua’s official savior.
It may have been somewhat arrogant and shameless of me, but it was too late to take those words back.
The Celestial Plum Blossom was shocked after hearing my request.
It seemed like he hadn’t expected me to ask him such a thing.
“…Well, that’s a surprise.”
“I’m sorry for my grand request being so sudden.”
I was originally going to make a different request, but I now had a reason for the title of the honorary martial artist of Mount Hua.
The Celestial Plum Blossom was probably thinking hard about it right now as it was not a very easy thing to give me.
“I’m asking this just in case, but is it because of the Taoist Qi inside you?”
I nodded at the man’s words.
“That would be one of the biggest reasons.”
If I were given the Honorary Martial Artist Title, I would be entitled to learn Mount Hua’s clan art. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to use specific skills like Mount Hua’s sword art, but just the clan art was already an honor.
And this honor was significant to a person of the Orthodox Faction.
I could choose to learn it in secret, but I wouldn’t want to get caught in a storm of consequences if my deeds were to be discovered.
‘It’ll be a problem if I can’t freely use the Taoist Qi that’s inside my body.’
The Qi that I had gotten from Mount Hua’s treasure had been in my abdomen the whole time without me being able to use it.
I was able to reach the fourth rank of Destructive Flame Martial Arts thanks to it and reach the peak realm with Elder Shin’s help, but I still didn’t feel that it would be right for me to use it without approval.
｢Just use it secretly, why are you so careful when it comes to these kinds of things?｣
‘It’s not like I’m from the Unorthodox Faction, so why shouldn’t I follow the rules?’
｢That’s rich coming from a demonic human that burnt down and destroyed another person’s home.｣
Elder Shin’s words punched me in the gut. I had really done that in my past life, so I couldn’t argue with him.
But even so, me saying that starting now I would live as a good person was true.
At least in this life, I wanted and planned to.
Seeing Celestial Plum Blossom that had fallen silent, I spoke up first.
“I assume it’s too hard for you to give me that title after all.”
“No, it’s not that. In fact, I actually wanted to offer you that title, to begin with.”
“I know more than anyone how much you’ve helped Mount Hua, so how could I not even consider that?”
He was planning on giving me that title? I was confused after hearing the Celestial Plum Blossom’s response. The man continued to speak, seeing my confused expression.
“The reason I didn’t mention that was because you are from the Gu Clan. I don’t think the Gu Clan would like it all that much if you were given the Honorary Martial Artist Title of a Taoist sect…”
I felt like I could understand what the Celestial Plum Blossom was getting at.
It made sense. Gu Ryunghwa was an exception because she had essentially left Gu Clan and become part of Mount Hua.
And in her particular case, it was not of great importance as she didn’t know much about the Gu Clan anyway.
Still, I was able to give Celestial Plum Blossom a firm response.
“I’ll be fine. The clan won’t say much either.”
It wasn’t just some wild guess of mine. I was certain of it. If my father heard the news of me being deemed the honorary martial artist of Mount Hua, the most he would say would be two words: “I see.”
The Sword Master who was next to me, also spoke up.
“Leader, not only did this child save my life, but he also prevented potential danger from reaching the Immortal Healer. There’s more than enough reason for him to be given that title.”
I benefited from saving her by getting some demonic Qi, and the second reason was just a coincidence. I felt a little bad, but nonetheless, her words were true.
The Celestial Plum Blossom brushed his beard for a moment and nodded.
Is he giving the approval?
“It wouldn’t be that hard to give you that title. I’ll have to speak with the elders about it, but the result is pretty obvious.”
He looked at me intently. “I understand that you are worried about the Qi that’s inside you. Unfortunately, I can’t teach you how to use that Qi.”
He was talking about how busy he was because of all the things that had happened prior to the tournament. Furthermore, today was the day I was leaving to go back to the clan, so even if I was given that title, I wouldn’t have anyone to teach me.
“There is no need for you to worry about that, Sect Leader.”
The Sword Master who was coming with me to the clan might not be able to help me as well since she was still in the process of recovering, but there was someone right beside me who could teach me better than anyone.
* * * *
After getting the Celestial Plum Blossom’s approval, the Sword Master and I moved to the area where the carriages were being prepared.
‘I’m honestly surprised that he approved it this easily.’
I had even asked the Sword Master to help me with this matter, but the Celestial Plum Blossom’s approval was easier to get than expected.
He even told me that this request of mine didn’t count as a request and that I could still ask something of him in the future.
‘Was this title always this easy to get?’
｢I don’t know myself. Such a title didn’t exist back in my generation.｣
I asked Elder Shin about it, but it seemed that he didn’t know. Whatever it was, though, things went well.
Then, the Sword Master who was next to me, spoke.
“I wonder if this much is enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“The title may sound grand, but it’s still just a name in the end. Plus, if you are interested in Mount Hua sect’s martial art…”
“No, it’s nothing like that. There’s no need for you to worry.”
Mount Hua specialized in sword arts. I never planned to learn their art, let alone their techniques. They leaned too far into swords.
｢So you just want to pick out the good parts and learn how to circulate that Qi?｣
‘It’s not like I could use plum blossom sword art in just a matter of days…’
It might be possible with the help of Elder Shin, but I didn’t think I would have that much time to learn their art’s intricacies.
‘This much is enough for now.’
Combining the destructive Qi of Gu Clan’s flame arts with Taoist Qi to reduce its wildness. I saw firsthand how big the difference was.
The Celestial Plum Blossom said that he would send the letter of approval to Gu Clan after he talked with the elders, but I was basically already approved by this point.
When I arrived at the entrance after reaching the bottom of Mount Hua, it seemed like all the carriages were ready to go, covered with a wide variety of things. Upon closer inspection, I saw a bunch of muscular men.
“…What in the world?”
They were obviously the second-generation disciples of Mount Hua, as there wasn’t anyone else in Mount Hua that would wear their uniform and sport such monstrous physiques.
The Sword Master also turned her head away when she noticed them.
Is she… embarrassed?
Although I didn’t want to go closer, I had to, so I approached the carriages.
“Make sure you stay healthy! Ryunghwa…”
“Don’t skip your meals, and don’t forget about us, okay?”
“You seem too skinny Ryunghwa. We should have helped you more with leg workouts.”
“Her arms are the size of my fingers… How does that even make sense?”
“…Guys, can you please leave already?”
Gu Ryunghwa said, pleading with the muscular men that were surrounding her. Despite them worrying about her so much, they still gave her some distance, understanding her feelings.
But when they moved further back, their huge group was even more eye-catching than before.
Gu Ryunghwa shouted at the men.
“People are scared of you guys…!”
“Huh? What do you mean scared, they all seem touched.”
“Indeed, who could be scared when we have backs the size of mountains?”
｢That is true.｣
Elder Shin snuck in a comment.
At this point, I felt like I would lose my mind. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one that felt that way, since Shinhyun, who had been far away, suddenly hit the disciples’ heads with his fist.
– Pow! Pow! Slam!
I flinched when I heard the sound of them getting hit.
‘…Just now, I think I heard some sounds that shouldn’t be able to come from a person’s head?”
It sounded like he was breaking rocks. Along with the sound, the second-generation disciples started to roll on the floor.
“The big senior is beating up innocent people!”
“…Just shut your mouths you idiots, it’s embarrassing.”
Passing by the disciples that were suffering on the ground, Shinhyun walked toward Gu Ryunghwa.
“Yes, big senior?”
I noticed Shinhyun flinch when Gu Ryunghwa responded firmly without any fear.
“…Right, I feel at ease seeing you confident.”
“Thank you for worrying about me…”
“No, I didn’t do anything. You overcame it all by yourself.”
Shinhyun’s hand fidgeted while looking at Gu Ryunghwa. It seemed like he was wondering whether he could give her a head pat or not.
Gu Ryunghwa asked, wondering what he was doing, but the man put his hand down. It seemed like he decided that now was still not the time.
Instead, with an awkward smile, he said, “It’s nothing, have a safe trip.”
After their conversation ended, he forced the disciples that were still on the ground to get up and prepared to return to Mount Hua. At that moment, our eyes met for a second.
– Please take good care of her.
He sent me a message telepathically.
– I will.
I responded in kind. Getting my message, Shinhyun looked at me in shock. It seemed like he hadn’t expected that I could also speak telepathically.
After that, he fixed his expression, nodded, and started to walk up the stairs slowly.
After everything seemed to be finished, I barely stepped toward the carriages when someone called out and stopped me.
“Young Master Gu…!”
Upon looking back I found Yung Pung.
“Master Yung! How did you come down here?”
‘I thought the third-generation disciples couldn’t come down here without permission?’
Yung Pung responded to my question as if it was nothing, “I just came here in secret!”
‘This guy really is a lunatic…’
How could he be so nonchalant about breaking his sect’s rules?
｢This warms my heart. He reminds me of my younger self.｣
‘I think all problems started with you, Elder Shin.’
I couldn’t help but shake my head.
“I hurriedly came down here because I heard that you were leaving today.”
‘Oh, I didn’t tell him anything about my departure? I guess I forgot to tell him because I was so busy.’
“Are you feeling okay? I heard that you got some beating yesterday.”
I heard that not only did he lose, but he also fainted after getting beaten up since his opponent was none other than Shinhyun. Now that I looked at him, however, he seemed to look fine.
“Oh! Thanks to him being lenient, his hits were only painful, but weren’t deep enough to leave any injuries on my body.”
“…Oh, I see.”
How could he say such a scary thing so brightly? He was basically saying that he had been tortured, and he had no traces of it anywhere on his body.
‘This clan really isn’t normal.’
No matter how I looked at it, they were just maniacs. With a smile, Yung Pung took something out of his pocket and handed it to me.
It was an object that had the symbol of a plum flower. When I was inspecting my new gift, he said,
“This is my symbol.”
“Why are you giving me this?”
“I never got to use it myself… but I would like to ask you to give it back to me when we meet again.”
I couldn’t help but frown at his words.
‘Why is he doing something that only makes sense for lovers to do?’
I glanced at Yung Pung wondering if he belonged to a particular kind of group, but the young man continued to speak without a care.
“And I hope that you would accept my challenge then as well.”
I looked at him with a strange face, trying to understand what he meant by that.
I saw the light competitive spirit coming from his eyes.
After realizing what he meant, I smirked.
He was asking me to be his rival.
‘I can’t believe I’m getting such treatment from the Sword Dragon himself.’
I couldn’t explain the emotion I was feeling.
I smiled slightly, putting away the symbol Yung Pung had given me.
“Yes, I look forward to our next meeting.”
Yung Pung put on a bright smile, clearly satisfied with my response.
“Thank you. I was able to learn many things from you.”
Leaving me behind with those words, Yung Pung went back to Mount Hua without the slightest hesitation.
‘I feel like a lot of people are thanking me lately. Still, I feel like I didn’t do much to deserve all that.’
‘Are you sure you are okay? I don’t know when I’ll come back to Mount Hua once I leave.’
Elder Shin had told me he was okay when I had spoken to him the night before, but I felt like I should make sure one more time…
｢It’s not like there is a way for me to stay here.｣
‘That may be true…’
He paused to take a deep breath.
｢I feel like I now know what I need to do for the world, so there’s no point in me staying here. That’s why I’m okay. Don’t worry about it.｣
Even when I asked him what he meant by that, the old man just responded saying that he couldn’t tell me yet.
It was frustrating, but it wouldn’t do me much good to pester him; he clearly didn’t want me to press.
Gu Ryunghwa, who was about to get on the carriage, found me and the Sword Master and immediately ran toward us.
“Did you just come?”
Gu Ryunghwa hugged the Sword Master, to which the woman responded by patting the girl’s hair. Seeing the blissful scene, I asked Gu Ryunghwa, still in the arms of the Sword Master, “Is everyone on board already?”
“What about the Immortal Healer?”
“I heard that he was inside the carriage since morning.”
According to Gu Ryunghwa, the Immortal Healer was in a carriage that had been prepared by Mount Hua, and not Gu Clan’s carriage.
I then asked Gu Ryunghwa,
“Did you bring all your clothes?”
“The other guys already asked me that dozens of times and now even you are asking me that, brother?”
“All good, as long as you have them.”
After some small talk, I went inside the carriage, where Wi Seol-Ah welcomed me with a bright smile. Namgung Bi-ah was already asleep on the girl’s knees.
“This girl is sleeping again?”
“She said that she’s tired because she didn’t get enough sleep yesterday!”
“It seems like she’s always tired…”
Nonetheless, I tried to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake her up. After looking at the outside view for a bit, I heard the Sword Emperor’s voice.
“We’ll be departing now.”
I forgot that the Sword Emperor was on the horse leading the carriage. I immediately became modest after realizing that. The carriage led by one of the mighty Heavenly Venerables was really effective at making me clean up my act.
When he saw what was going on, he couldn’t help but ask.
｢Why the hell is that man driving the carriage…?｣
‘I don’t know that myself.’
And I was even more curious than Elder Shin about the reason.
Along with an energetic “neigh,” the carriage started to move. I finally finished my business here at Shaanxi and was on my way back to the clan.
“Once I’m back… I shouldn’t travel for a while.”
Just this year alone, I had gone to Shaanxi and Sichuan, so I didn’t want any more of those long, long trips. As I was pondering that, Elder Shin piped up.
｢Judging by how you speak, it doesn’t seem things will go your way.｣
I forced myself to ignore his ominous words.
* * * *
When I finally arrived back at the clan,
I was faced with a situation that I did not expect.
“…Why are you here?”
I asked, stupefied.
The girl responded with a blushed face,
She had dark green hair and eyes that gleamed with a similar shade of green.
The Poison Queen from the Tang Clan of Sichuan, Tang Soyeol, was waiting for me at my clan.
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