༺ I’ll be Coming Along as well ༻
After Gu Yangcheon left the room Tang Soyeol and Namgung Bi-ah were in, only silence remained.
If Gu Yangcheon was still here, the atmosphere would’ve been so cold that it would’ve been hard to breathe.
After staring at Tang Soyeol for a moment, Namgung Bi-ah sat across from her.
Then, the other girl took out a new teacup and poured tea for her friend.
Not a single word was spoken.
After quite a long time, Tang Soyeol was the first to talk.
“It’s been a while sis.”
“Yeah. A while…”
Despite them talking, they didn’t look each other in the eye. Namgung Bi-ah was staring at the desk counting how many lines were on the wooden table, while Tang Soyeol was staring at the leaf that was floating on the tea’s surface.
“I thought we would see each other next year at the earliest, but here we are, huh?”
“Why are you here?”
Namgung Bi-ah lost her words when Tang Soyeol asked her the question point-blank.
She wondered what to say. She wondered if she could just use the excuse of staying with her fiancé like she had always done up until now.
Namgung Bi-ah already knew that she couldn’t say something like that in her current situation.
Tang Soyeol took a sip of tea since Namgung Bi-ah didn’t say anything.
She was getting thirsty. She thought in her head, ‘This isn’t what I wanted to talk about at all…’
Tang Soyeol let out a sigh due to the conversation getting twisted, then brought up a different topic.
“I heard that sis might be marrying the son of Gu Clan.”
She put emphasis on “might”.
A promise was already made between the two clans and it was basically confirmed, but Tang Soyeol didn’t want to admit that the marriage was truly confirmed.
She was just that greedy.
Namgung Bi-ah didn’t say anything much about this, however. She only nodded in response.
“Did you have a say in this?”
Tang Soyeol asked.
Tang Soyeol clearly remembered that moment.
Namgung Bi-ah’s response when she asked her if she liked Gu Yangcheon.
‘She clearly said that she didn’t, that it wasn’t love between a male and a female.’
However, looking at Namgung Bi-ah now, she wasn’t sure if Namgung Bi-ah was feeling the same as back then.
It wasn’t just an assumption that Namgung Bi-ah’s mind had changed over time. When she heard about the marriage, the emptiness in her foggy blue eyes disappeared, and they were shining with light instead.
Her pale skin that had always made her look cold and unavailable now had a slight hint of pink to it.
She was like a flower that bloomed.
She was already beautiful before that, but now that she had bloomed, her beauty was positively striking.
‘She is beautiful.’ Tang Soyeol thought to herself that despite also being a girl. Namgung Bi-ah looked just too beautiful.
‘It’s honestly too much at this point.’
Tang Soyeol secretly clenched her fist. She was confident in her own appearance, and everyone around would agree with this assessment.
Not only was she pretty, she liked taking care of her appearance.
Even so, she was nothing compared to the woman sitting in front of her.
That was how much Namgung Bi-ah’s beauty had evolved.
Tang Soyeol wondered if maybe she felt this way because of her friend’s relationship with Gu Yangcheon.
‘That’s not the case.’
She noticed an accessory in Namgung Bi-ah’s hair.
The Namgung girl had always talked about cutting her beautiful hair because it got in her way of training. She wasn’t the type to decorate her head with anything. .
But now, she had an accessory in her hair.
Tang Soyeol called out to Namgung Bi-ah once again. The dull girl finally shook her head.
It was true that she never had a say in this engagement.
Still, she had to add, “I’m glad that it happened, though.”
Tang Soyeol lowered her head after hearing Namgung Bi-ah’s response.
Everything had been made clear now.
‘How did such a dull sis change like this?’
She had always been true to her emotions.
It wasn’t noticeable on the outside, but now, her eyes seemed like she was looking for someone.
There was a warmth in her that she had never shown before.
Tang Soyeol knew that all of those changes had been brought about by Namgung Bi-ah’s interest in someone.
If Namgung Bi-ah didn’t want this marriage to happen, Tang Soyeol was determined to help.
And she really, really wanted that to be the case. She needed that to be the case.
“Sis, you told me before that you didn’t like Young Master Gu.”
“Do you still feel the same…?” Tang Soyeol inquired.
“No,” Namgung Bi-ah replied. Back then, she had indeed told Tang Soyeol that she didn’t like Gu Yangcheon.
But her answer was different now.
Before answering, she wondered if she really loved that boy. Ultimately, she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t sure what love even was, so there was no way for her to be certain.
She just liked how he looked at her, and liked the sensation of him touching her hair while she was falling asleep.
She also liked him trying to care for her despite him trying to push her away with harsh words.
He always asked her if she had eaten, and was perceptive when it came to her bad mood or when she was tired.
If he wasn’t around, she wanted to know where he was. If he was around, she wanted to be near him.
And when she was near him, he pretended to push her away, but in the end still stayed.
Namgung Bi-ah always wondered then. Was this love or not? She still hadn’t come up with an answer.
She figured she would slowly come to know the answer anyway.
If she continued to be with him, she’d eventually know.
Namgung Bi-ah didn’t know a lot of things, but of this she was certain.
After hearing her old friend’s firm response, Tang Soyeol carefully put down the hand that was holding the teacup.
‘Sis is just mistaken because she doesn’t know much about the world yet.’
‘She won’t like it that much if she goes through with this marriage.’
‘There are so many other guys in this world. She should reconsider.’
Tang Soyeol gulped down all the words that popped up in her mind.
She felt childish and pathetic. She didn’t want to go this far.
To Tang Soyeol, Namgung Bi-ah was still more important than Gu Yangcheon. She couldn’t say much in response.
It was just…
‘Why, of all people…’
‘Why did Gu Yangcheon have to be the one that would marry Namgung Bi-ah?’
Tang Soyeol felt pathetic that she ended up in this situation just because she was charmed by the young man’s ‘handsome’ appearance, but she also felt frustrated.
She wondered if she should’ve just begged her father for an engagement with the Gu Clan before this happened.
‘Not that father would have agreed to it anyway.’
‘Even with Namgung Cheonjun’s engagement with me, Father barely approved while crying tears of blood.’
But Tang Soyeol was able to stop the marriage by throwing a tantrum, and she clearly remembered how her father was smiling when the engagement was canceled.
Tang Soyeol let out a sigh that expressed all the complicated thoughts she was feeling.
It was love at first sight just because of his appearance, and yet it was so hard to give up.
She loosened her fist that she had been clenching.
Tang Soyeol’s eyes widened after suddenly hearing an apology.
“Why are you suddenly apologizing?”
“No, you don’t need to apologize, sis.”
It had only been a few months for Namgung Bi-ah, but she had learned many things.
Most importantly, she had become better at seeing through people’s emotions.
Of course, her sense was still poor compared to the average people, but compared to her past self, it was a significant improvement.
Namgung Bi-ah was easily able to discern the emotions Tang Soyeol was feeling.
The Tang girl plastered a bright smile onto her face, a smile that also hid much frustration and disappointment.
“You may have not been the one to initiate this engagement, but since he’s so handsome, it’s understandable that you like him.”
Namgung Bi-ah put aside the hair that was covering her eyes as she thought that she had misheard. Especially the part about him being handsome.
She wasn’t in a situation where she could talk back, so Namgung Bi-ah gave up on thinking.
“I should be the one apologizing to sis…”
Tang Soyeol then put the letter that she had shown to Gu Yangcheon back into her pocket.
“I apologize because I’m not going to take back my request to Young Master Gu.”
The request to go to the Tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes with her. She didn’t know how Gu Yangcheon would respond, but she didn’t have any intentions of giving up.
It wasn’t that she was trying to take Gu Yangcheon away from Namgung Bi-ah.,
It was just that despite seeing Namgung Bi-ah’s change, and the response she gave, Tang Soyeol still couldn’t let go. She still wanted to be with him, if only a little longer.
‘I’m fucked.’ Tang Soyeol thought to herself.
‘They always said to stay away from handsome guys because they have terrible personalities.’
‘Maybe if I stay with him for a bit, I’ll get tired of his shitty personality?’
Although she thought that, she knew she could never get tired of his face, even in death.
“Young Master Gu might reject my request, but if he does go to the tournament…“
Tang Soyeol was surprised by Namgung Bi-ah’s nonchalant response.
Even her expression was calm as if she was asking why that would be a problem.
Usually, a girl would not like something like that, or at least be nervous, but Namgung Bi-ah said those words as if it was obvious.
“Because… I’ll be coming along as well.”
Namgung Bi-ah had never participated in the Tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes.
She had never really left her clan much, and it was by pure coincidence that the two had even become friends.
Furthermore, Namgung Bi-ah didn’t like places where there were crowds, or people that knew and tried to approach her.
“Sis, The tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes…”
It was a place where young prodigies of the world gathered.
It was a place for all young geniuses, male or female, to see who among them were the stars of this generation.
Tang Soyeol would be recognized by many people every time she attended, so she wondered what would happen if Namgung Bi-ah were to join too.
Tang Soyeol found it surprising that Namgung Bi-ah would choose to go there, as she really disliked being the center of attention.
She was calm, completely unaffected. Noting Tang Soyeol’s silence, she continued.
“Because he’s going.”
Gu Yangcheon was going there, so she would be there as well.
Just that small reason alone was enough.
After a few awkward sentences were exchanged, their conversation ended.
Both had many things they wanted to say to each other, but they didn’t say it out loud.
After the conversation ended, Namgung Bi-ah went outside.
Gu Yangcheon was still there, waiting for them to come out. He looked like he was trying to read the room.
His fierce eyes trying to read the atmosphere looked very funny.
Namgung Bi-ah suddenly remembered what Tang Soyeol had said.
‘She said he’s… handsome.’
Whether it was her eyes that were weird, Namgung Bi-ah couldn’t relate to Tang Soyeol’s words.
After a few seconds, Gu Yangcheon noticed how intently Namgung Bi-ah was looking at him.
He frowned, curious about what the two had discussed.
Namgung Bi-ah burst out laughing when she saw his strange expression.
“Huh? Why are you laughing at someone’s face?”
She immediately fixed her expression. It was something Namgung Bi-ah was best at.
“What about Lady Tang?”
“She said… she’d come to you later to talk.”
“Should I just leave now?”
Tang Soyeol never said any of that, but Namgung Bi-ah said it because she saw Gu Yangcheon trying to go back into the room.
She wondered to herself.
‘Why did I lie?’
She just didn’t want to send Gu Yangcheon back into the room at the moment.
The young man looked confused, but Namgung Bi-ah grabbed his clothes and pulled him.
“What? But you ate dumplings earlier.”
Gu Yangcheon couldn’t be sure if the girl really was hungry, so he believed her.
Gu Yangcheon always tried to care for people, especially when it came to food.
Other things suck too, but being hungry is the worst.
Namgung Bi-ah couldn’t understand why he said those words, especially when someone like Gu Yangcheon would never starve in his household.
Staring at Gu Yangcheon’s back while he was walking away, Namgung Bi-ah smiled to herself and strutted to his side.
“What should we eat?”
“Do you know that’s the most annoying answer?”
They chit-chatted while walking. Even something as small as this seemed more than enough for Namgung Bi-ah.
* * * *
In the room of Gu Clan Lord, Gu Cheolun was talking to the Plum Blossom Sword.
“You must be tired today, how come you came here when I said you could rest for today?”
The Sword Master had asked to stay in the same guesthouse as Gu Ryunghwa.
Knowing their relationship, Gu Cheolun accepted that request as he knew that there wouldn’t be any problem.
“I had so many things that I wanted to ask, so it’s hard for me to just rest.”
“Things to ask, huh… to me?”
Gu Cheolun observed the Sword Master with his fierce eyes. She seemed a bit different compared to a few years ago.
‘Seems like she’s been cured.’
Gu Cheolun knew that the Sword Master was slowly withering away when he saw her back then. Having noticed the change, he said, “I’m glad that you’re hea- “
When the Sword Master cut him off, Gu Cheolun frowned.
Gu Cheolun hadn’t heard that word in decades. In a growling tone, he replied, “Sword master, what are you doing right now?”
“I have something to ask of you, Captain.”
“Please call me by my rightful title. Why are you still living in the past?”
“Is there a reason I shouldn’t?”
“What’s past is past and should be forgotten.”
The Sword Master smiled hearing Gu Cheolun speaking so seriously.
“To me, I don’t think you’ve forgotten anything, Captain. The former Murim Alliance Leader staying in Gu Clan shows that.”
The Sword Master saw through the Sword Emperor’s identity right away, and the old man was bound to know it as well.
She didn’t go out of her way to show that, knowing that the Sword Emperor himself wanted this. She respected his decision.
The Sword Master continued to speak while looking at Gu Cheolun.
“You told me not to ask about Cheonhee when you let me take care of Gu Ryunghwa, and I still intend to keep that promise.
“Then what are you- “
“So how about we talk about the Abyss then?”
“Decades have passed since then, but I still remember.”
The Sword Master didn’t even flinch when Gu Cheolun roared at her. Instead, she became colder.
“I came here because I wanted to ask you, Captain.”
The Sword Master stared into Gu Cheolun’s fierce eyes and asked,
“Captain, what did you experience in the Abyss?”
When the Sword Master asked him that question, Gu Cheolun’s body erupted into flames.
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