Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 112

Uncharted

༺ Uncharted ༻

 

 

 

  The Dragon Army. 

 

  They were a group of swordsmen in the Murim Alliance, and the special forces directly under the Alliance’s leader, to be more specific. 

  

  Their task was to be the escort for the Alliance leader, and to manage the other groups of swordsmen. 

  

  They knew the truth, however. They knew their true purpose was different.

  

  The leader of the Alliance at the time, the Sword Venerable, wasn’t someone that needed an escort.

   

  He, at the time, was already a master swordman whose face was the only thing human about him. He became so strong to the point he didn’t need a sword to perform his arts. Such a powerful man did not need protection.

  

  There was also no need for management of other swordsman squads. The Dragon Army wasn’t fit for such a job in the first place. 

 

  The Dragon Army would often be assigned to battle against the Unorthodox Factions, or to slay the demons that attacked innocent people, but that still wasn’t their true purpose. What was it, then?

 

  That had already been revealed the day the Sword Venerable conscripted them. 

 

 

  The crack in the air threatened thousands of people, the Gate of Demons. And what was beyond that, the Abyss.

 

  The Dragon Army’s true purpose was to research the Abyss. 

 

  Their leader at the time was Gu Cheolun, and he had the Plum Blossom Sword under his command. 

 

  Besides the Sword Queen, there were other renowned, skilled martial artists that belonged in the Dragon Army as well. 

 

  Since it was said that the army was formed to fight against the Abyss that put innocent people in danger, the Sword Queen of Mount Hua had volunteered to join.

 

  The Celestial Plum Blossom had tried his best to stop her at the time, but the woman had already made up her mind and left Mount Hua to join the Murim Alliance. 

 

  This decision of the Sword Queen still haunted her to this day. 

 

– Blaze!

 

  Flames erupted from Gu Cheolun’s body.

 

  While glaring at the Sword Queen with his fierce eyes, he spoke.

 

  “I wanted to treat you as a guest.”

 

  “I thank you for your consideration, but that’s not what I came here for.”

 

  The flames gradually increased in size, eventually filling the whole room.

 

  The flames that erupted after Gu Cheolun’s had lost control of his emotions didn’t destroy anything in the room or even hurt the Sword Queen. Gu Cheolun still had a good grasp on his power. 

 

  It was getting harder to breathe because of the heat, but the Sword Queen still didn’t use her Qi. She knew that there was no need for it.

 

  As the flames were about to touch the Sword Queen’s hair…

 

  They disappeared instantly. Then, Gu Cheolun spoke to the Sword Queen with a calm voice.

 

  “Your stubbornness is still the same as ever.”

 

  Gu Cheolun’s way of talking to her has changed. He also sounded like he was a little tired when he spoke.

 

  Noting that fact, the Sword Queen responded, “It seems like you’ve changed a lot, Captain.”

 

  “Yes, I did. A lot.”

 

  The Gu Cheolun she had seen the last time when she was taking Gu Ryunghwa with her was a lot different from the one she was seeing now. 

 

  The Gu Cheolun in the past that the Sword Queen remembered was a dangerous man that was as wild and unpredictable as the flames he used. 

 

  He would succeed in doing anything if he needed to, and burn any obstacles that stood in his way. 

 

  But the current Tiger Warrior?

 

  Despite him being a man that had mastered flame arts, his demeanor was ice-cold.

 

  Gu Cheolun, without hiding his expression, spoke to the Sword Queen.

 

  “When you said that you’d take my daughter, I’m certain that I told you something.”

 

  “Yes.”

 

  “I told you to never ask me about my wife.”

 

  “I remember.”

 

  “What are you doing right now, then?”

 

  “I… I’m not asking about her, Captain.”

 

  “Just because you twisted your words doesn’t mean that their meaning has changed. You know it better than me that the promise we made back then isn’t something that we can treat lightly.”

 

  Gu Cheolun’s cold expression turned even more serious. Still, the Sword Queen did not intend to back down.

 

  She hadn’t come all the way there just to back down at the very beginning.

 

  “Up until the moment where you disbanded the army, there was something that we all couldn’t understand. And it’s even harder to understand now.”

 

  “What is it?”

 

  “How come you understood the Sword Venerable’s decision?”

 

  “…”

 

  “You know it, right? Since the only survivor that came out from the Abyss was you, Captain.”

 

  “What are you trying to say?”

 

  “I’m just curious. It’s too late for me to resent someone since I’ve become too insensitive by this point.”

 

  While it hadn’t been that long, the obligation she felt inside had already rusted away due to time. 

 

  It was most likely that everyone that had been in the same army as the Sword Queen felt the same. 

 

  “Do you know how many people in the Dragon Army believed and looked up to you?”

 

  The Sword Queen knew that the man knew the answer.

 

  He wouldn’t have forgotten. She was certain of it.

 

  “Cheonhee was the same. I want to know where that girl went, but I didn’t want to go as far as to find out where she had come from.”

 

  She would’ve likely gone back to where she had come from. That was something that the Sword Queen wished. However, that wasn’t the case. 

 

  She had come along with the breeze and stayed while giving them warmth. It was only right she would leave in the same manner.

 

  The Sword Queen pleaded that was the case.

 

  “So I’ll ask again. What did you see in the Abyss, Captain?”

 

  Gu Cheolun only stared at the Sword Queen in silence after she asked him that question.

 

  You could find anything in that nasty realm called the Abyss.

 

  It was a place that couldn’t be compared to the logic of the real world.

 

  A long time had passed in silence, and the Sword Queen finally started to frown a little.

 

  It wasn’t because she felt offended that Gu Cheolun had yet to respond to her.

 

  Gu Cheolun only stared at her in silence, and she realized after some time.

 

  “Captain…”

 

  It wasn’t that Gu Cheolun chose not to speak, but he was incapable of doing so. 

 

  The Sword Queen was way too familiar with this. It was something that she had experienced herself.

 

  “How-”

 

  The Sword Queen couldn’t finish her words.

 

  If Gu Cheolun also saw the same thing she did, she knew that there was no way he would be able to speak about it. 

 

  If that really was the case, if Gu Cheolun really saw that “tree”…

 

  While the Sword Queen was going deeper into her thoughts, Gu Cheolun opened his mouth.

 

  “Were you looking for Cheonhee? And if that’s not the case, then for what reason did you go beyond the gate?”

 

  “…!”

 

  “There is no need to explain if you saw it as well. It’s not like it’s something that can be explained in the first place.”

 

  She now knew Gu Cheolun had seen it as well.

 

  He had also seen that nasty, mysterious thing. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have spoken those words. 

 

  Gu Cheolun continued to speak.

 

  “You asked how I understood that old man. I never did. Nor did I ever forgive him.”

 

  “Then, why…!”

 

It was for that reason that I had to.

 

  The Sword Queen stopped talking after hearing Gu Cheolun.

 

  His stare was hollow. His eyes were deep and dark, as if you were staring into an endless abyss. 

 

  “I congratulate you on your recovery. I heard that it was thanks to my son, so I’ll ask him about this later.”

 

  “…”

 

  “I don’t know what or how far you’ve seen, but I suggest that you stop there.”

 

  The Sword Queen couldn’t help but feel curious after hearing Gu Cheolun’s words.

 

  She was affected by a forbidden formations that felt like it was choking her neck just by looking at it, and she almost lost her life because of the turbid Qi that had gone inside her body. She couldn’t do anything to resist it.

 

  If Gu Cheolun had also seen that, how come he was still fine?

 

  She remembered how Gu Yangcheon had told her that Gu Clan’s art could purify and chase away that turbid Qi.

 

  Is it because of that?

 

  ‘But for that to be the case…’

 

  Something felt off. Whether it was the words he spoke, those eyes of his, or even Gu Cheolun as a whole. The Sword Queen felt that something inside him was gone.

 

  The man’s Qi was still the same. Gu Cheolun was still in his prime as a martial artist. 

 

  The Sword Queen knew that he hadn’t neglected his training despite becoming the Lord of a clan, because she could feel an insurmountable wall from him.

 

  Just like the wall she had felt when she looked into the Sect Leader of Mount Hua, or the Sword Venerable. 

 

  ‘A man of this realm is just considered as one of the hundred masters of martial arts?”

 

  It wasn’t the sensation she felt, but her instincts that told her the man was hiding something.

 

  Gu Cheolun was hiding his true self. 

 

  A mere rumor spread throughout the world was very weak when she stood in front of the truth. 

 

  The flames he had shown in the past weren’t this weak. And the thing that hid inside the flames didn’t look that light either. 

 

  “What made you this way, Captain?”

 

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about right now.”

 

  Gu Cheolun went back to his normal self.

 

  It was him telling her that he wouldn’t delve any further into this topic. 

 

  The Sword Queen also noticed this and fixed her hair. “I’ll be visiting you again…”

 

  “Since it’s the Sword Queen herself, I’ll always welcome your visit.”

 

  He spoke with a tone that held not even a speck of a soul. 

 

  Furthermore, his sights were already on the letter that was on the table. His nasty personality seemed to have evolved in a different way. 

 

  The Sword Queen left the room, walking around the gardens that had caught her eyes. 

 

  A servant was following her to guide her back, but the Sword Queen’s attention was on something else entirely. 

 

  She felt that she hadn’t gotten much out of the conversation, but at the same time, gotten some important pieces of the puzzle.

 

  It was for that reason that I had to.

 

  She remembered what Gu Cheolun had said.

 

  She thought that even if everyone else had forgiven the Sword Venerable, Gu Cheolun wouldn’t. 

 

  Decades ago, besides a small number of people and the Sword Queen who was bed-ridden, tens of Dragon Army martial artists were sent to the Abyss on the Alliance leader’s command. 

 

  They did not hesitate for a second and embarked on their mission.

 

  The leader’s command was everything to the Dragon Army, and they believed that whatever command the leader gave to them was for the benefit of countless people. 

 

  That was why they had joined this army in the first place.

 

  After some time had passed, the Alliance leader and the Dragon Army came back from the Abyss.

 

  The Sword Queen couldn’t help but cry in despair when she saw the people that returned. 

 

  There were more than thirty members in the army, but less than ten people had returned, and the ones that did return didn’t speak at all, their expressions soulless.

 

  Furthermore, after a few days, the survivors that had barely made it out alive ended their own lives. They were all skilled martial artists that were beyond the peak realm.

 

  None of them had a weak mentality, let alone their bodies, but they still couldn’t bear it anymore and ended their own lives. 

 

  The Sword Queen begged. She begged them not to do it. She tried to get hold of them while saying that they should continue to live on since they survived.

 

  Despite her attempts, all of them ended their own lives, with the youngest of the Dragon Army—also a student of Mount Hua—being the last one to do so.

 

  After this, the Sword Venerable resigned from his position as the leader of the Murim Alliance and hid himself, and Gu Cheolun also disbanded the Dragon Army. 

 

  As for what happened while they were in there, the Sword Queen couldn’t find out till the end.

 

  But one thing she learned after some time was that the Sword Venerable’s goal was far from achieving world peace in the first place. 

 

  * * * *

 

  – Rustle, rustle.

 

  The sound of leaves being swept in the yard could be heard.

 

  “Did you enjoy your meal?”

 

  When I went outside after finishing eating, the Sword Venerable was sweeping the place.

 

  “Yes, you should also eat something.”

 

  “It’s fine for a person of my status to eat whenever…”

 

  “I heard that one needs to eat more as they age. Please don’t skip your meals.”

 

  “Being considerate to an old man like me… Thank you, Young Master.”

 

  “Yeah…”

 

  I was finally getting used to speaking with the Sword Venerable. 

 

  Or maybe I had just gotten used to seeing the Sword Venerable as a servant.

 

  “Grandpa!”

 

  Wi Seol-Ah, who was also coming outside, ran toward the Sword Venerable and hugged him.  

 

  The old man patted Wi Seol-Ah’s head, but also said in an angry voice, “Seol-Ah, did you eat with the Young Master again?”

 

  “Uh… it’s… um…”

 

  “Grandpa always tells you not to!”

 

  I quickly interrupted when I saw Wi Seol-Ah curl up as she prepared to get yelled at.

 

  “It’s all right. I was actually the one that asked her to eat with me.”

 

  “Young Master…”

 

  When I stopped him, Wi Seol-Ah quickly hid behind me. Such a thing as a servant eating with a Young Master didn’t make sense in the first place, but that didn’t matter to me. 

 

  It was even more so because it was Wi Seol-Ah, but I wouldn’t care even if it was someone like Hongwa or Muyeon. 

 

  I remembered the time when the servants were extremely shocked when I tried to eat with them back when we were camping. 

 

  Although it seemed like they just had trouble eating with me, rather than them being scared that they were eating with their master. 

 

  However, they seemed to be finally getting used to me in the recent days.

 

  「That’s probably just your imagination.」

 

  ‘Why? I think they all seem fine eating with me.’

 

  「It would be weird for them to feel comfortable eating in front of a fierce guy like you in the first place.」

 

  The old man was speaking garbage again. ‘The girls seem to eat just fine in front of me…’

 

  「You should be thankful to those girls, since they are the weird ones for being that way.」

 

  After Elder Shin’s words, I looked at Wi Seol-Ah, and the two girls that had now come outside

 

  It was Namgung Bi-ah and Tang Soyeol.

 

  ‘I didn’t expect that Tang Soyeol would come as well.’

 

  It was around the time for dinner right now.

 

  ‘It was just lunch time. I only relaxed in my room for a bit and it’s already time for dinner?’

 

  When the meals were almost done being prepared, Namgung Bi-ah, who should have been in her guesthouse, naturally joined me. I was used to it now so I didn’t react much.

 

  The problem was Tang Soyeol who came right after.

 

  I was surprised because she came out of nowhere and shouted, “Sis!” 

 

  Of course, Tang Soyeol saw that there were other people around and apologized, but it was still surprising.

 

  ‘Did they have a fight or something?’

 

  They seemed very close to each other back when I had seen them in Sichuan, but something seemed to have happened between the two.

 

  While I was telling the Sword Venerable what Wi Seol-Ah had done was fine, Tang Soyeol approached me.

 

  She started to thank me while fidgeting with her hands.

 

  “I’m sorry I appeared so suddenly, it was disrespectful.”

 

  “I was a bit surprised, but it’s all right.”

 

  “And you even offered to treat me to a meal…”

 

  “I asked because I heard that you haven’t eaten yet, were you bothered by it?”

 

  “N, No! Not at all… Actually you can call me more ofte- “

 

  “Young Master! Should I bring some yakgwa?”

 

  While Tang Soyeol was talking, Wi Seol-Ah interrupted her.

 

  “What’s yakgwa?”

 

  “A snack! We already finished our meal!”

 

  “You’re gonna eat more even after all that?”

 

  “Sister Hongwa told me that we have a separate stomach for meals and snacks.”

 

  ‘No, I think you just eat a lot.’

 

  ‘But saying that would make her sulk.’

 

  It was fun to tease her, but I still had to remember that there was a guest next to me.

 

  And since I wanted something sweet, I asked Wi Seol-Ah to bring us some yakgwas.

 

  ‘Come to think of it, I think Tang Soyeol was saying something.’

 

  “I’m sorry, what were you saying earlier?”

 

  “…N-Nothing…”

 

  Tang Soyeol seemed pretty sad, judging from the expression on her face.

 

  “Even his servant is that pretty…” she mumbled to herself while looking in the direction Wi Seol-Ah had run off to.

 

  I was honestly starting to get scared of her, wondering if there really was a ghost possessing her.

 

  Tang Soyeol, still looking a bit downcast, spoke to me.

 

  “Um… Young Master Gu.”

 

  “Yes?”

 

  “About the request I made earlier…”

 

  “Oh.”

 

  The Tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes.

 

  ‘To be honest, it’s kind of a hassle to go there.’

 

  The name sounded grand, but the tournament was basically young prodigies trying to win over others. 

 

  I could ask what I could be going there for, but since the location was Hanam, there was something I needed to go there for. 

 

  “First, I’ll have to ask the Lord, so I can’t give you an answer yet.”

 

  Of course, Father would have to approve first.

 

  I would assume that he wouldn’t let me leave the clan again, since I had been outside the clan for too long, whether it was Sichuan or Shaanxi. 

 

  ‘And if I can’t leave, I could use that as an excuse to reject her request.’

 

  On the other hand, the Tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes was also a way to spread a student or a child’s name to the world and it would be weird not to take advantage of it.

 

  But this god-damned clan was clearly weird. 

 

  “T… Then please tell me when you are certain.”

 

  “Yes.”

 

  After our conversation ended, Tang Soyeol slightly bowed and left for her building along with an escort. 

 

  “You’re going?”

 

  After Tang Soyeol left, I turned to the voice I heard next to me.

 

  It was Namgung Bi-ah, her eyes fixed on me. I felt chills run up my back for some reason…

 

  “What is it all of a sudden? Why are you opening your eyes like that?”

 

  It looked like she was glaring at me. Did I make a mistake?

 

  When she asked if I was going, she was probably referring to the Tournament of Dragons and Phoenixes. I was going to respond that I wasn’t sure yet, but Namgung Bi-ah spoke first.

 

  “If you are… then I’m going with you.”

 

  “What?”

 

  Before I could answer, Namgung Bi-ah had already left without letting me answer.

 

  ‘Elder Shi- ‘

 

  「Don’t talk to me. I want to kill you right now.」

 

  ‘…’

 

  I was thinking of asking him, but for some reason, he seemed to have gotten really mad, so I shut my mouth. 

 

  Then, Wi Seol-Ah came with some yakgwas. By the time we were finished eating them, it was already nighttime.

 

  Around the time everyone would be asleep, I got up and prepared myself. In my hand was the flower that I had brought from the Black Palace hideout.

 

  As planned, tonight I was going to consume this flower.

 

  My body finished purifying all the demonic Qi in my body, and I somewhat understood how to use the Taoist Qi after following Elder Shin’s instructions. 

 

  Therefore, it would be okay for me to eat this thing now.

 

  「Are you planning to just gulp it down in that state?」

 

  “That is the most straightforward way.”

 

  Instead of frying it or making a soup out of it, eating it completely unprocessed, in its original state, was the most effective way to get all the energy the herb held.

 

  「You don’t know what will happen to your body, so be cautious.」

 

  The old man’s words didn’t worry me.

 

  Usually, I would think for a long time, worrying about the problems it might cause, or if I should really eat this, but for some reason, I felt like there would be no problems with me eating it. 

 

  Therefore, without hesitation, I gulped down the flower, its leaves first. 

 

 Elder Shin shouted.  

 

「You crazy fucker…! Why are you suddenly…!」

 

  “…!”

 

 

 

  I gulped down the whole thing without even trying to absorb the Qi the herb held.

 

  “Why did I do that?”

 

  I also couldn’t understand it despite having eaten it.

 

  I hurriedly gulped it down as if someone forced me. It felt like it was according to my own will, but also not at the same time. 

 

  “What now?”

 

-Thud-!

 

  I felt something strange, so I tried to explain it to Elder Shin, but I quickly closed my mouth.

 

  Along with intense vibrations, something was running around inside my body.

 

  Something was coming. 

 

 

 

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Childhood Friend of the Zenith

Childhood Friend of the Zenith

천하제일인의 소꿉친구
Score 9.4
Status: Ongoing Author: Released: 2021 Native Language: Korean
Instead of struggling meaninglessly, he acknowledged his place.

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