༺ Plant Your Head On The Ground (2) ༻
After the meal ended and she had returned to her room, the servant asked Moyong Hi-ah.
“How did it go?”
Her mistress had earlier expressed her intention to go there as she planned, but it seemed like things didn’t go smoothly, judging by her expression.
“It seems like today wasn’t the right day.”
The outcome was just as she expected it to be.
“There was a disrupter too.”
“Yeah. There was someone too dense to realize what was going on.”
Moyong Hi-ah thought of Gu Jeolyub as she said this.
He had a decent face and his skills were also fairly good as apparent in his actions.
However, the timing just wasn’t right.
“Thankfully, it seems like it will happen a day later than I expected anyway.”
Judging by the information she had, she expected that it would certainly be today. However, it wasn’t, thus making Moyong Hi-ah wonder if something had happened.
That person still hasn’t arrived at the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament.
“Are you going to do it tomorrow as well?”
“Might as well make the most of it since I already gave them payment.”
Hwangbo Cheolwi’s acting skill was much better than Moyong Hi-ah expected, which helped a lot.
She hadn’t anticipated Tang Soyeol’s interference, though.
‘Why is that child already here?’
The Poison Bee, Tang Soyeol. She was infamous for having an innocent face, but a personality that completely contradicted such an appearance.
If the situation was a bit exaggerated, it could be said that she had managed to overpower Hwangbo Cheolwi, who seemed twice her size.
It made Moyong Hi-ah think that she had improved compared to the last time they met.
Because of that, Hwangbo Cheolwi had to go through a hard time, causing him some discomfort.
And most importantly,
In the middle of what seemed to be Tang Soyeol’s crew, there was a woman wearing the Namgung Clan’s uniform.
This woman stood out with her white-bluish hair and subdued blue eyes.
‘Was there a person like her in the Namgung Clan?’
The only thing that came into Moyong Hi-ah’s mind was the rumor that there was a female blood relative in Namgung Clan, the sister of their son.
It was said that she didn’t leave her clan much, so there was very little information about her.
‘So why would such a person be here?’
Moyong Hi-ah expected that the Namgung Clan would arrive tomorrow.
So if she really was a blood relative of the Namgung Clan, then something was strange about that group.
‘I did hear that the Namgung Clan was planning an engagement with another clan…’
Does that mean that this group was from the clan that the Namgung Clan planned an engagement with? The Gu Clan of Shanxi, where the Tiger Warrior sat as the lord?
Moyong Hi-ah remembered hearing that they agreed on an engagement with the Tiger Warrior’s son.
‘Then I wonder who it was amongst them.’
While feeling the cold breeze that came in through the window, Moyong Hi-ah fell into deep contemplation.
The person who stared, as the dense guy tried to save her from Hwangbo Cheolwi.
Quietly, in a calm way.
The only person that stayed calm in such a chaotic situation.
Moyong Hi-ah had a keen sense. And it was way better than others at that.
Having experienced such situations since childhood, she was confident in her ability of deducing and sensing certain things.
And that sense of hers was urging her to be cautious of that boy.
The boy was focused on eating the food in front of him.
However, his peripheral vision was observing all of Hwangbo Cheolwi’s movements.
Ready to interrupt if a problem erupted.
And the fact that he didn’t flow any Qi was likely due to one of two reasons.
It was either because he didn’t want to attract others’ attention, or because he didn’t even need to use his Qi.
‘…There is no way though.’
Hwangbo Cheolwi might not have been talented enough to be called a Dragon or a Phoenix, but he was still a blood relative of a well-known clan.
Even she herself, who was recognized as the Snow Phoenix, couldn’t face Hwangbo Cheolwi without using Qi.
Moreover, there was no way that he could’ve stopped Hwangbo Cheolwi from that distance.
“Sorry, I had a bunch of thoughts come into my head for a moment.”
Because so many unexpected things had occurred, Moyong Hi-ah felt a little exhausted. After hearing Moyong Hi-ah, her servant promised to bring her some tea right away.
Moyong Hi-ah, who was left alone, whispered quietly while facing the breeze.
“I hope that things go as expected tomorrow.”
A situation where things didn’t go as she expected,
That was what Moyong Hi-ah hated the most.
After around three years of living in the Abyss…
Approximately half of the people had died and everyone was overwhelmed with fatigue.
They were weary from watching that purple moon, that red sky.
They were weary of eating demon’s flesh.
They were weary of losing hope in their continued survival.
– What did you just say?
A sharp air swept through the space inside the cave. Wi Seol-Ah didn’t pull out her sword, but the Qi she emitted felt so overwhelming that it felt like she had.
– I don’t think you understood me.
Despite feeling that deadly atmosphere, Moyong Hi-ah’s expression didn’t even change one bit.
Instead, she became more serious.
– Then are you telling me to understand that damned baby?
It was rare to see Wi Seol-ah raise her voice.
And it was even rarer to see her react this fiercely.
– How am I supposed to understand, when you are telling me to forsake our comrade?
– But what alternative do you propose, if you don’t wish to accept such a fact?
– Snow Phoenix!
Even with Wi Seol-ah’s fierce shouting, Moyong Hi-ah’s cold expression remained the same.
– Young Sword Master, I understand that you find cooperation and respect important, but are you willing to risk the lives of all for the sake of one?
– Even if you say that…
– What I’m saying! Is…
Moyong Hi-ah threw the fan she was holding to the ground. Because of the long brutal time she had spent in this place, the fan was already in shambles.
– We can only consider such an option if we have a viable solution. Young Sword Master, you cannot shoulder everything alone.
– Then I shall just-
– I’m telling you to see if we could hold out by ourselves if we lose you.
– …Snow Phoenix.
Silence filled the room as no one could muster a response. She understood Wi Seol-Ah’s feelings, but it was true that Moyong Hi-ah wasn’t wrong.
She was always like that. She never said anything wrong.
And that was true in this moment as well.
– The same goes for the Water Dragon that’s outside right now and others as well.
– So you’re telling me right now, to give up on Young Master Gu?
After hearing Moyong Hi-ah’s blunt response, Wi Seol-Ah clenched her teeth. She clenched them so hard that it sounded as though they might shatter.
Moyong Hi-ah then looked towards me.
– Young Master Gu.
I responded lazily while looking at her.
Since I knew better than anyone that this was the best action to take.
– I’ll hear your resentment later.
– When? After you die?
– You crazy bitch, how could you be so quick to respond like that.
I laughed, unable to contain my amusement at her absurdity. Wi Seol-Ah then interrupted.
– I… don’t think I could go through with this after all. I will-
– I’ll do it.
Wi Seol-Ah’s expression soured upon hearing me.
– I’ll just get it over with.
– What nonsense are you talking about…! If you go there-
– I’ll die.
Wi Seol-ah shut her lips after hearing my response.
Who wouldn’t know about it? Who wouldn’t know about all the demons wreaking havoc outside? Who wouldn’t know how dire the current situation was?
Their numbers were countless.
And in such a situation, the Water Dragon and some others were barely holding their own.
This was the same for Wi Seol-Ah. She was fighting just a moment ago, but returned so that she could recover her Qi.
– Did that crazy bitch say anything wrong?
– Young Master Gu…
– Don’t let your emotions consume you, especially in times like these. If you’re going to resent, don’t direct it at that woman but at everyone else.
Since I, too, was blaming myself for my own weakness.
Wi Seol-Ah always wore an exhausted expression whenever she lost someone.
But what could we do about it?
– Everyone will die, if I’m not the one to step up.
– I, too, could play that role.
– Yes, it’s not just me that could play this role. Everyone else can as well.
But I was the one that mattered the least. If Wi Seol-Ah, the strongest of our group, were to die, then all hopes of surviving would be lost.
In a situation like this, even losing a single person was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
– We already missed the chance to escape this hell together with everyone.
– What? Do you think I want to die? It’s just that I have no choice but to do so because everyone will die if I don’t.
Could everyone truly survive if I willingly became bait for the demons? I couldn’t say for sure.
But I still had to try.
I felt Wi Seol-ah looking at me, but I averted my eyes. The others who had stayed quiet in the background avoided looking at me.
I didn’t care whether it was because of guilt or relief.
– Three years huh? I’ve held on for a long time.
Even though I didn’t deserve to.
Even in a situation where I should have died already, I clung to life.
The guilt of trampling over others’ survival instincts to ensure my own weighed heavily on me.
So I felt like I could relieve myself now.
Moyong Hi-ah was still looking at me. Her expression remained the same.
– Do you not have anything to say?
– Nope, nothing.
It wasn’t something that I should say now.
If someone asked me if I resented Moyong Hi-ah, I would be lying if I said no. However, I still empathized with her.
Humans really do change a lot. Considering even I could understand that woman now.
– I’m going now.
Wi Seol-Ah tried to reach out towards me after hearing my words, but she wasn’t able to grab me in the end. After all, she was too late.
Moyong Hi-ah didn’t say a word.
She was always like that. She was the type of person who readily threw away or accepted anyone if she felt that it was right for the situation.
But even so, no one hated her. The reason was simple.
It was because she included herself in such acts.
In a situation like this, if Moyong Hi-ah was the one that mattered the least and not me, she would’ve expressed her willingness to go without a second thought.
However, nothing like that would happen.
Whether it was the Snow Phoenix, Water Dragon, or Wi Seol-Ah…
If even one of them collapsed, it would spell out doom for everyone.
I asked Moyong Hi-ah before leaving.
– If you manage to return, are you going to go around doing that pointless thing again?
– I wonder why you are asking me such a weird question all of a sudden. How could you call it pointless?”
– Just answer my question.
– Yes, I will.
– I’m impressed. Do you know how pointless that is?
– It’s just something that I need to do.
– You crazy bitch…
That was the end of the conversation. After all, we had nothing more to say to each other.
I passed by Wi Seol-Ah, who was on the floor in despair after I was chosen to be the sacrifice.
And the next time I crossed paths with that very group was five years later in the Abyss.
Many things had changed during those times. And even though I had survived…
And so had they…
When we met again, it wasn’t a joyful and emotional reunion.
Because I had to kill them all.
Late at night, with the moon positioned at the center of the sky,
The room assigned to me felt excessively spacious for a single occupant.
Gu Jeolyub quickly fixed his posture after hearing me. Due to fatigue, I saw him losing his balance.
“I could sense that you are trying to use your Qi. Do you want to die?”
I noticed that he was slowly flowing his Qi around secretly.
Gu Jeolyub, who was being punished, was struggling on the floor with his head planted on the ground.
He at first made an annoying expression, wondering what he did wrong,
So I made sure to correct that expression.
‘Sure, he could be frustrated.’
Of course, I didn’t think that Gu Jeolyub went out there with ill intent.
Helping others, that’s nice.
Kids his age had this habit of acting without proper consideration.
And that habit could help them in the future.
‘But only if they had the talent to back it up.’
Objectively speaking, Gu Jeolyub was undeniably gifted compared to his peers. He had the talent worthy of a genius.
However, this was a huge world with many young prodigies.
The current Gu Jeolyub couldn’t even compare to Tang Soyeol, let alone Namgung Bi-ah.
“Why are you trying to help others, when you’re so weak yourself?”
“…I heard even powerless people should never hesitate to aid the weak.”
“That’s a cool saying. But if so, how come you broke my arm?”
“Right, I must have done something wrong then.”
It really was a cool saying. I couldn’t dare to say that it was completely wrong.
Because the fact that this generation still existed, and that the Heavenly Demon could be defeated…
Was thanks to such ideals.
Though it was not something I could do, since I had my hands full just trying to survive.
“If you want to help the weak, why engage in pointless endeavors?”
“What are you…”
Moyong Hi-ah wasn’t a weak person. Though it seems like Gu Jeolyub didn’t notice that.
“Why try to step forward, when a dense guy like you doesn’t even know your place?”
For some reason, a short silence lingered, and I turned to find Wi Seol-Ah and Namgung Bi-ah looking at me with peculiar expressions.
What are those weird reactions…? I then turned to look back at Gu Jeolyub.
“Did you genuinely think you would win earlier?”
“It seemed so judging by your reaction.”
Gu Jeolyub flinched. It did indeed seem like he barged in because he thought that he could win.
“…Was I wrong?”
“No, you would have indeed won.”
He would have. Since Hwangbo Cheolwi didn’t seem that strong.
But even so, he wouldn’t have won that easily.
It was good to be fired up, but deducing the situation beforehand was more important.
“You should only act when you’re certain you can handle the consequences.”
The chaos that would’ve followed if he had caused those troubles.
The mess that would come out of that situation and the burden that would have been placed on us. There was also the risk of our clan clashing with the Hwangbo Clan, the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament facing disruptions, and even more.
“Could you handle all that by yourself?”
“You should know your place. If you can’t afford to clean up the mess you make, then channel your energy elsewhere alone. Screw off if you don’t like the sound of that.”
It was a good mindset to have if they wanted to become a hero, but that was all pointless if they didn’t have the ability to back that up.
This may sound harsh and selfish, but there were many people who harmed themselves and the space around them due to high spirits.
This damn world had people like that too. And I also knew that heroes didn’t always find happy endings.
“…I’m sorry. I’ll be cautious.”
Gu Jeolyub got up while stumbling.
His expression still wasn’t bright and it didn’t seem like he understood just yet.
In truth, I didn’t say these words to make him understand.
Gu Jeolyub probably had a better mindset than someone like me.
After all, I couldn’t help but admit that I also punished Gu Jeolyub because he almost got me involved with Moyong Hi-ah.
‘I wonder what she was up to.’
It was not like Moyong Hi-ah had a soft personality, so it was rather strange to see that she didn’t retaliate against the treatment she received.
Perhaps it was due to her laziness, but that kind of response only suited my personality.
[Yeah right. I’m sure you wouldn’t do anything. What a joke. It’d be a miracle if you didn’t break anything.]
…Anyway, for someone like Moyong Hi-ah, there was no way she would do such a thing as far as I knew.
She was a woman who employed any means necessary to achieve her goals, so I wonder if she had something up her sleeve this time.
What does she want in a place like this?
I remembered the sky-blue eyes that shone in the darkness.
An unsettling feeling washed over me, so I took a sip of my tea.
While doing so, I glanced at Namgung Bi-ah.
I remember Moyong Hi-ah flinching earlier after seeing Namgung Bi-ah.
‘Judging by that, I guess she already has a goal.’
Moyong Hi-ah’s goal. And how Namgung Bi-ah was related to it.
Since it was well-known in my past life, it wouldn’t have been strange for it to be the same in this timeline.
Moyong Hi-ah had pursued a certain man. But I didn’t know why she did so.
After all, I never got to hear if it was for love or some other motive.
Even as time passed, Moyong Hi-ah’s goal had remained unchanged.
Moreover, even while spending the night with me.
‘Such pointless memories.’
Despite the saying that one never forgot their first love, I began to doubt the significance of such a sentiment, considering how few memories I had of her.
Though the absence of genuine affection between us was likely a big factor.
‘Anyways, I just have to make sure that I don’t get involved with her this time…’
That was all I had to do.
Or so I thought.
“Hello. My name is Moyong Hi-ah.”
However, after seeing a smiling Moyong Hi-ah the next morning…
I realized it was all too late.
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