༺ Plant Your Head On The Ground (1) ༻
Before following Gu Yangcheon to Hanam, Gu Jeolyub recalled what he had discussed with the First Elder.
– So, what exactly is my role there…?
It had been an unexpected assignment to head to Hanam.
Furthermore, his objective was none other than participating in the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament.
He always thought that an opportunity to engage in such a tournament would eventually present itself.
However, Gu Jeolyub didn’t expect that he would be sent to the tournament with Gu Yangcheon.
– In the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament, all you have to do is show off your talent.
The First Elder responded as such to Gu Jeolyub’s question, but…
Gu Jeolyub knew that that wasn’t all that the First Elder wanted.
As expected, the First Elder continued to ask additional things from Gu Jeolyub.
– Can you outshine that child?
Gu Jeolyub knew who the First Elder was referring to when he said that.
The only son of the Gu Clan, Gu Yangcheon.
It was a name he had heard ever since Gu Jeolyub began to step foot into the martial arts world.
And he was also a figure that the First Elder talked about endlessly, implying a sense of rivalry between them.
– You have to become the lord.
This was something Gu Jeolyub heard endlessly.
– We can’t let a child like him lead the clan.
When Gu Jeolyub was young…
His duel against Gu Yangcheon was pathetic.
Gu Yangcheon was way too powerless.
And he had an obscenely dirty mouth.
At the end of the duel, Gu Jeolyub broke Gu Yangcheon’s arm. He didn’t intend to cause such harm, but his emotions got the better of him.
He had already forgotten about why he was so infuriated that day.
Despite him breaking the arm of a blood relative, the lord didn’t give any punishment to Gu Jeolyub.
The First Elder thought that no punishments were given because the lord himself had already given up on his child.
Gu Jeolyub thought the same back then, but he wondered if that was really the case now that he thought about it.
At that time, Gu Jeolyub had the same thought as the First Elder.
He wondered if it was really okay for a child like Gu Yangcheon to become the lord of the clan.
Even though he, himself, was much better.
Even though he felt that he could do better. He was already adopting the same mindset as the First Elder before he even recognized it.
But, around a year later…
Gu Jeolyub lost to Gu Yangcheon miserably.
To a boy he so contemptuously looked down upon. Moreover, in such a pathetic manner.
What happened in such a short amount of time for Gu Yangcheon to change that much?
The way he talked and behaved had changed; Even the atmosphere around him could not be recognized anymore.
And the beautiful servant who was next to Gu Yangcheon at that time.
For a fleeting moment, Gu Jeolyub was captivated by her otherworldly beauty.
As such, he intended to separate that servant from Gu Yangcheon.
After all, he didn’t know what a bastard like him would do to her.
Of course, now, he was able to realize how immature he was with his choices back then.
– You can shine much brighter than that child.
That was what the First Elder had said.
He proclaimed that Gu Jeolyub could do it and it won’t be hard.
But was that really the case?
– You can, right?
The greed in the First Elder’s eyes pressured Gu Jeolyub.
Gu Jeolyub, after staring at those eyes, finally responded after hesitating.
– …Yes. I’ll try my best.
It was a response that contradicted how he felt from the inside.
It has been some days since he had set for Hanam. Gu Jeolyub worked rather hard during this time.
He endured and followed all of Gu Yangcheon’s orders whenever they were given.
And he tried to get along with the group, who appeared somewhat distant.
Of course, he did get rejected by Tang Soyeol when he tried to get closer to her and became extremely sad for some time.
‘Why does she not like me?’
Gu Jeolyub knew that he had a pretty handsome face.
At least more than Gu Yangcheon.
But for some reason, the space near Gu Yangcheon was filled with many beautiful women.
What was the reason for that?
‘…Maybe the standard for a man’s look changed, and I didn’t notice it.’
He even had such a thought.
Gu Jeolyub looked at Hwangbo Cheolwi, who was glaring at him back with fiery eyes.
To be honest, his motives extended beyond merely rescuing the woman surrounded by that crowd.
He did indeed want to save her, but he also had a different goal.
How would he shine? Gu Jeolyub didn’t know what to do.
So he decided to try anything that he could.
“Did you really just shout at me?”
Along with a ‘Thud-!’, the giant walked through the crowd that was surrounding him, and walked towards Gu Jeolyub.
“Someone dares to shout? At me?”
Along with a growling voice, Gu Jeolyub felt pressured.
It was a dense pressure that complemented his giant physique, but it didn’t necessarily instill fear within Gu Jeolyub.
After he lost to Gu Yangcheon, Gu Jeolyub made a habit of observing his opponent meticulously.
It was so that he wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes he made that day,
And thanks to that, he succeeded in having a more perceptive sight.
That giant was weaker than himself. Hwangbo Clan was a prestigious clan that he heard of at least once in his life. And because of that, Gu Jeolyub also felt a little excited.
After all, it meant that he wasn’t falling behind other young prodigies of prestigious clans.
This was no longer an assumption, but now a certainty.
“How dare you raise your voice towards Hwangbo when I don’t even recognize you? Do you want to get in trouble?”
Hwangbo Cheolwi’s muscles started to make a horrifying sound. Gu Jeolyub’s hand automatically grabbed the hilt of his sword hanging at his waist.
He was ready to unsheathe it whenever.
‘This much is enough.’
Didn’t this look rather cool? Defeating a douchebag that harassed a woman?
‘I think it does.’ Gu Jeolyub thought to himself.
Hwangbo Cheolwi came closer aggressively and Gu Jeolyub slowly started to flow his Qi.
The tension was so taut that it could be cut with a knife.
However, contrary to Gu Jeolyub’s expectation of an explosive clash,
Hwangbo Cheolwi stopped himself with a shocked expression.
The direction he was looking at wasn’t towards Gu Jeolyub.
Gu Jeolyub looked towards the direction of Hwangbo Cheolwi’s gaze.
He then saw someone coming down to the first floor while casting a gaze in their direction.
“What are you doing?”
It was a girl with dark green hair and a vividly gleaming green eye.
She was part of Gu Yangcheon’s group, the Poison Phoenix of Sichuan’s Tang Clan, Tang Soyeol.
Hwangbo Cheolwi seemed to know her, as he called her name with a slightly shaky voice.
Tang Soyeol looked at Hwangbo Cheolwi with contempt before letting out scornful laughter.
“I wondered who it was, but it was you.”
“You seemed to have grown more, but did you still not fix that stupid brain of yours?”
Even with Tang Soyeol’s cold and harsh words, Hwangbo Cheolwi remained silent.
“I heard that the Hwangbo Clan was sending you here. So I checked just in case…”
Tang Soyeol let out a deep sigh as she finished her sentence.
Then, Hwangbo Cheolwi suddenly kneeled as he faltered.
What happened? Why did he go down on his knees all of a sudden? Gu Jeolyub’s curiosity was answered partially when Hwangbo Cheolwi fiercely shouted.
“How dare you…!”
It seemed like he didn’t intend to kneel. Then, was Tang Soyeol responsible for that?
‘…What did she do?’
Was this the infamous poison of the Tang Clan? If that was the case, it was a terrifying thing to witness.
After all, Gu Jeolyub didn’t even see what Tang Soyeol did.
‘Is this… the strength of the Five Dragons and Phoenixes?’
The geniuses of this generation, renowned as the stars among stars.
Gu Jeolyub was able to realize how talented they truly were after witnessing it for himself.
Before, he merely thought of her as a pretty girl who chased after Gu Yangcheon.
However, he now recognized that she was undoubtedly worthy of being the young prodigy known as the Poison Phoenix.
“How dare I?”
Tang Soyeol instantly began to frown after hearing Hwangbo Cheolwi’s words.
When Hwangbo Cheolwi noticed her discontent, he flinched his body.
“Hwangbo Cheolwi, do you know who you are speaking to right now?”
Hwangbo Cheolwi clenched his teeth after hearing Tang Soyeol.
Hwangbo Clan may have been a fairly prestigious clan, but they certainly didn’t compare to the Tang Clan, which was one of the Four Noble Clans.
“I don’t think such words ought to be spoken by a representative of merely the Hwangbo Clan. If you lack both the talent and background, know your place. You will die if you don’t.”
For her to say ‘merely’ to a prestigious clan such as the Hwangbo Clan.
The aura behind her sharp and thunderous criticism was terrifying.
After all, Gu Jeolyub’s heart was beating crazily even though she wasn’t even addressing him.
Tang Soyeol’s gaze shifted, settling upon Gu Jeolyub.
“You’re no different either.”
“It’s only right to respectfully maintain some distance from others for everyone’s sake. I get why that giant did it because even his brain is made out of muscles, but what about you?”
“…Uh, it’s just that,”
Gu Jeolyub felt frustrated. All he wanted to do was save that woman from Hwangbo Cheolwi.
Not caring about what Gu Jeolyub was thinking about, Tang Soyeol spoke harsh words to him.
“At least try to be smart if you are ugly.”
“Pffb… Cough cough!”
The person who had the biggest reaction to Tang Soyeol’s words was Gu Yangcheon.
Gu Jeolyub wore a bewildered expression as if he had just misheard her, while Gu Yangcheon spit out all the tea he had been drinking.
“Young Master, are you okay?”
“I’m fi- Cough!”
As Wi Seol-Ah cleaned up the mess, Tang Soyeol resumed her verbal assault on Gu Jeolyub and Hwangbo Cheolwi.
“How pathetic… Screw off, along with your group, as quickly as possible.”
“Will you listen only after I have burnt away your tongue? I’m quite adept at that, you know. ”
Unlike her innocent appearance, the atmosphere she emitted was terrifying.
Hwangbo Cheolwi’s body began to shake due to his fury.
However, he didn’t have the guts to go against the Tang Clan. As such, he quickly got up and went up the stairs, passing by Tang Soyeol.
Hwangbo Cheolwi’s crew hastened after him in a flurry,
All that remained was the dumbfounded expression on Gu Jeolyub’s face.
“…This is why I didn’t want to come here. Everyone is just so pathetic.”
After saying those words, the face of the tiger-like Tang Soyeol instantly transformed at the sight of Gu Yangcheon.
“Young Master Gu~!”
She ran towards the dining table with a bright smile. And Gu Jeolyub undoubtedly saw that…
Gu Yangcheon had a slightly terrified face as he cautiously moved back.
After watching that, Gu Jeolyub got up awkwardly.
‘…I guess everything was resolved smoothly.’
He may have been embarrassed, but Gu Jeolyub felt okay since the woman was ultimately saved in the end.
In reality, nothing went well for him, but Gu Jeolyub was trying his best to cope.
With cautious steps, he approached the woman who had previously been the target of Hwangbo Cheolwi’s bullying.
“H-Huh? That piece of-!”
He heard Gu Yangcheon say something behind him, but Gu Jeolyub had already arrived right in front of her.
“Are you okay? Lady?”
The woman concealed under a veil remained unresponsive. Was it because of how shocked she was?
“I’ll take care of everything that had just happened, so- “
The woman let out a deep sigh. Atr first, Gu Jeolyub thought that it was a sigh of relief.
However, such a thought was swiftly shattered when her next words rang out.
“I’m thankful for your kindne… Wait, is it even kindness?”
The voice that came from behind the veil was completely different from earlier.
It was much colder than the demeanor displayed by Tang Soyeol moments before,
And way more rigid.
It was as if he was talking to a chunk of ice.
“Everything that I’ve planned is all ruined now… What a hassle.”
“Lady… What are you- “
For a brief moment, Gu Jeolyub saw the sky-blue eyes hidden under the veil.
Moreover, those eyes glared at him fiercely.
“Do you remember what the Poison Phoenix said earlier?”
The woman slowly got up from her seat.
Now that he looked at her, she was way taller than he expected.
She was around the same height as Namgung Bi-ah, who never stopped sleeping.
“About how you will die if you don’t know your place. She wasn’t lying when she said that.”
“What are you talking about so suddenly… “
“From now on, I believe you should first examine the situation closely before you act. You would’ve gotten in trouble if it weren’t for that man behind you.”
Behind…? When Gu Jeolyub turned around after hearing her words, he saw Gu Yangcheon.
The woman looked around before whispering to Gu Jeolyub quietly.
“…My plans may have been ruined, but thankfully, it seems today wasn’t the day anyway. Tomorrow seems more likely.”
Soon thereafter, the woman walked away, passing by Gu Jeolyub, who still couldn’t comprehend what she was talking about.
The woman stopped for a moment when she noticed Namgung Bi-ah beside Gu Yangcheon, spectating as if she was entertained.
She flinched after she noticed Namgung Bi-ah, but didn’t say anything to her and proceeded to go upstairs.
As Gu Jeolyub tried to process the baffling encounter, he found himself covering his reddening ears, lost in his thoughts.
‘I don’t know anymore.’
He decided to give up on contemplating further.
As Gu Jeolyub returned to his seat while massaging his temples due to the headache-inducing situation, he heard a gentle voice.
Gu Yangcheon was smiling at Gu Jeolyub while looking at him.
Yes, that very same Gu Yangcheon.
“Let’s have a one-on-one talk with this Big Bro later, okay?”
For reference, Gu Yangcheon was younger than Gu Jeolyub, both in height and appearance.
However, no one in the vicinity commented on what Gu Yangcheon just said.
After finishing the remaining dumpling, Gu Yangcheon directed a question at Gu Jeolyub.
“Do you know how to drive your head into the ground?”
“I’ll teach you if you don’t. I think you need to learn.”
Realization dawned on Gu Jeolyub as he saw the grin on Gu Yangcheon’s face.
He didn’t know why, but he was positively fucked.
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