༺ Star ༻
I remembered the time when Peng Woojin appeared in Gu Clan a few months ago.
The man exuded an unmistakable aura that screamed his blood ties to the Peng Clan and had stubbornly insisted on participating in the Nine Dragons tournament.
Furthermore, Peng Woojin was already a Young Lord by then.
So why did he try to become a swordsman of the Gu Clan?
‘Was it because ‘He wasn’t having fun’?’
It had been something like that.
After all, Peng Woojin said it himself.
That he ran away from his home since the Peng Clan was lame for him. Then, he tried to join the Gu Clan as a swordsman, which was utterly nonsensical.
And while causing such a ruckus, he was knocked out by the Second Elder in a single blow.
Every memory I had of him left me on the brink of madness.
I asked Peng Woojin.
“…Why are you here again? Young Lord Peng.”
“Hmm? Is this a place where I shouldn’t be?”
Peng Woojin responded.
His laid-back tone of speaking was the same as ever.
“Not necessarily, but…”
“Then it’s okay!”
I barely spoke to him, but my head already started to hurt.
This always happened whenever I spoke to people of his kind.
Since the guy who always followed me around in my past life was also like him.
I started to think while looking at Peng Woojin’s bright smile.
The Heavenly Dragon.
This was a title that Peng Woojin had held before becoming the Young Lord of the Peng Clan.
He relinquished this title upon his ascension as the Young Lord.
It was a title given to the most talented young prodigy.
And it was the symbol of a star with the most dazzling radiance.
‘Didn’t he put that title down a little too early?’
Peng Woojin was still technically a young prodigy age-wise.
If I were in his shoes, I’d have hesitated to let go of such a title.
“Young Lord Peng.”
“Oh! What’s up?”
“Did you run away from home again?”
I asked, just in case. Since his track record was quite insane.
To my question, Peng Woojin made a dumbfounded look on his face, then burst into hearty laughter.
“Do you think I’m some kind of a troublemaker?”
“What kind of a person would come to the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament after running away from home?”
“There could be some people who run away from home because they find it dull and hope to come here.”
“What kind of maniac would do that…”
What is this maniac saying?
He seemed like he had forgotten all about his past actions.
Peng Woojin smiled after seeing my incredulous look.
Ah shit, I already wanted to go home after just a brief conversation with him.
“Don’t worry. After all, I am here on business with the Murim Alliance this time.”
I began to think after hearing Peng Woojin.
Did the Murim Alliance need Peng Woojin for something?
Even if that was true, was it that important of a task, for him to come all the way to Hanam for it?
I stared at Peng Woojin with a fixed gaze and Peng Woojin responded while slightly avoiding my eyes.
“…How could I not come out when I have an excuse like this one.”
Responded? Nah, it was more like he confessed.
“…I’m not breaking any rule, though.”
“No one said a thing, Young Lord Peng.”
He always seemed quite desperate to leave his clan.
What did he become the Young Lord for anyway if he was going to be like this?
‘Not that I should be talking…’
Every household definitely had their own issues to deal with.
Though no clan seemed to have as many as mine.
“By the way, did you come alone?”
After responding, he pointed towards his back.
Behind him, stood Namgung Cheonjun, who seemed to be glaring at me.
“You came with Nam… the Lightning Dragon?”
I almost said Namgung bastard just now. Why is that guy standing over there, anyway?
“Should I say it’s a coincidence? It just turned out that way.”
A coincidence that the Young Lord and the soon-to-be Young Lord of the Four Noble Clans were traveling together, huh?
For some reason, I felt that that wasn’t really the case.
Then did that mean Namgung Cheonjun arriving here earlier had something to do with Peng Woojin?
“Oh, if you are asking about my sister, she will take a few days to arrive.”
I wasn’t really asking about Peng Ah-hee…
But Peng Ah-hee was arriving later on her own?
To answer my curiosity, Peng Woojin spoke with a slightly shaky voice.
“…We originally planned to come here together at a later time, but I wanted to get here as soon as possible, so I ditched her. She might be angry at me for that, but it should be fine.”
At this point, I couldn’t help but wonder if Peng Woojin’s biggest hobby was trying to piss off Peng Ah-hee.
Last time, I saw her beat him like a dog. Was he really going to be okay? I highly doubt that.
“I don’t think you should ignore such a thing so easily…”
“Do you still have the wood I gave you last time?”
This man just ignored me like it was nothing.
‘The wood he mentioned …’
I believe Peng Woojin was talking about the black wooden insignia that he gave me last time.
He said that I’d get the same treatment as Peng Woojin if I went to the Peng Clan with it.
The insignia that felt very burdensome to possess.
Peng Woojin then continued to speak in disappointment.
“I told you that you should visit one time, man.”
“It hasn’t even been a year, Young Lord…”
But it had been almost a year since then.
I had to travel non-stop, so I had no time to go to the Peng Clan.
Even if I did have time, I doubt that I would’ve gone there.
Gu Jeolyub sneakily joined our conversation.
“Are you, perhaps, the Heavenly Dragon, Young Lord Peng Woojin?”
What was that careful voice of his? This was the first time I heard Gu Jeolyub being so hesitant.
Peng Woojin looked at Gu Jeolyub and nodded.
“Yes, though I no longer go by the name Heavenly Dragon…”
“I-I am Gu Jeolyub… Is it possible for me to shake your hand?”
After hearing Gu Jeolyub’s introduction, Peng Woojin’s gaze naturally shifted towards me.
“Is he perhaps your older brother?”
“Nope. Our clan only has one son.”
“Makes sense, you guys aren’t alike at all! This guy is handsome unlike- “
“I don’t know what words are going to come out next but please refrain from it.”
“I was kidding once again.”
While laughing, Peng Woojin grabbed Gu Jeolyub’s hand.
Then, Gu Jeolyub made a happy face as if he had just gotten a big present.
‘What’s with him, seriously?’
For me, this was a little embarrassing.
Muyeon, who’s with us, probably shared my sentiments -…
Never mind, he also seemed jealous of Gu Jeolyub. Was he insane?
Did the Heavenly Dragon mean that much to people?
I saw it in my past life too, but it always felt new each time.
[Brat, aren’t you the one who cares too little about something like this?]
‘That could be possible.’
I was too full of myself and I hated it whenever I heard about Dragons or Phoenixes.
So I tried my best not to look into any of their abilities in the past.
Though now, I was able to see them everywhere.
Peng Woojin’s physique didn’t match the typical appearance of the Peng Clan, which was known for being big and destructive.
Instead, he looked slim and had a body that looked flexible.
Yet, I could sense the incredible power he possessed.
He’s well over the Peak Realm, huh?
My instinct was telling me that.
It seemed like I wasn’t the only one sizing him up, as Peng Woojin spoke while locking eyes with me.
“I knew that you would get stronger.”
His sparkly black eyes were full of interest.
After hearing him, I gave a fake smile.
“No one ever thinks of me that way. How unique of you.”
“Indeed, I wonder why no one thought of you that way. I’m more fascinated by that actually.”
“I’m more fascinated by how certain you seem, Young Lord Peng.”
“People call me strange all the time, but my feeling wasn’t wrong, see? The proof is standing right in front of my eyes.”
Like how I observed the rank of his Martial Arts Realm, he too seemed like he saw something from me.
Even though I was doing a pretty decent job at hiding my strength.
He was able to see through me either due to extensive experience or an innate instinct.
For me, it was obviously the former and for Peng Woojin, I’d have to assume it was the latter.
To put it simply, it was the difference in natural talents.
A skill that could only be achieved after going through many experiences…
Was easily achieved from birth for those born with this unfair natural talent.
The past me died while walking in the shadows of their talent…
But I had to put aside all of those thoughts for now.
‘It’s the same this time around too.’
I burnt the jealousy that lingered in my body with flames.
I was only going to look forward.
If I wasn’t good enough, I just had to work harder.
That was the only way I could overcome and handle whatever challenges lay ahead.
[That’s a good mindset you have.]
‘You are complimenting me for once.’
[I will when I have to. Is there anyone worse than someone trying to criticize a martial artist striving for improvement? ]
‘Why are you trying to act cool all of a sudden? It’s sending shivers down my spine.’
[Haha, you rotting piece of… Do I have to show you my Plum Blossom Sword Art using only my words for you to shut up…?]
Though I responded impudently due to me feeling embarrassed, what Elder Shin said was truly touching.
Elder Shin probably noticed that too.
“Oh, I heard that you were engaged. Now you are family with my Namgung guy there, right?”
Peng Woojin spoke with a smile and pointed toward Namgung Cheonjun who was standing behind him. Namgung Cheonjun flinched slightly.
After seeing him like that, I responded.
“Not yet exactly.”
“Eh, I’d say you are family if you are engaged.”
“Then what about back when I was engaged with the Peng Cla- “
“Oh, it is fate that we met early, so how about a duel?”
Why bother speaking to me if you aren’t going to listen to me you piece of…
Seeing Peng Woojin so eager…
I let out a sigh and denied Peng Woojin’s request.
“It’s a little difficult right now.”
A duel all of a sudden? Does he think he’s Namgung Bi-ah?
When I rejected his offer, Peng Woojin’s mouth turned downward in disappointment.
I didn’t get why all the dudes I met never failed to ask for a duel.
You’d think that one would be more subdued after becoming the Young Lord.
I let out a fake cough after being reminded of what I did as a Young Lord in the past.
I wasn’t one to judge him.
“Let us do it next time. I don’t think I’m ready yet.”
After Peng Woojin realized what meaning that one word held, he started to laugh.
“This is why I like you.”
I frowned after hearing those creepy words from Peng Woojin.
This was only our second meeting, so why was he making me so uncomfortable?
“Young Lord Peng… I’m going to say it again, but I like women.”
“I told you not to worry… I like women too?”
“Why the question mark at the end!”
Is he not going to get rid of that question mark? I swear I’m going to kill him.
Peng Woojin laughed loudly as I growled at him.
Namgung Cheonjun, who had been observing, came towards us and spoke to Peng Woojin.
“Brother Peng, it’s time for us to leave.”
Peng Woojin scratched the back of his head after hearing Namgung Cheonjun. It seemed like he didn’t want to go yet.
“…I guess I can’t do anything about it, huh? Let us see each other next time Young Master Gu! We shall meet again very soon.”
“No, you really don’t have to bother.”
“Next time I’ll bring my little sibling along!”
Why bother when she and I had a rather uncomfortable relationship?
Did this guy forget that I broke the engagement between my clan and the Peng Clan?
Peng Woojin, not noticing my bothered expression, gave me a farewell and walked away in disappointment.
During that, I felt Namgung Cheonjun looking at me.
Our eyes locked, and I saw a plethora of familiar emotions in his gaze.
People with eyes like his were always bound to cause some trouble.
I was like that in the past and so were many others.
Gu Jeolyub asked after hearing me.
Compared to when he was forced to come to the training area, his eyes seemed like they were filled with curiosity now.
“Nothing. By the way, you seemed very happy earlier.”
“Did you like Young Lord Peng’s hands that much?”
“He’s… the Heavenly Dragon, though.”
He was the Heavenly Dragon, to be exact.
After hearing Gu Jeolyub, Muyeon also agreed while nodding slightly.
That stupid title! I swear, I’ll get it myself if it’s really all that.
“Let’s just train.”
My original goal was to train in the first place, so whether it was Peng, Namgung, or whatever, I was just gonna train now.
Also, bringing Gu Jeolyub here turned out to be a brilliant choice.
Since watching him roll around on the ground, pretending to train, relieved my stress.
In the carriage that went to the Murim Alliance after leaving Bacheonmaru.
In the peaceful silence, Namgung Cheonjun called Peng Woojin who was only looking outside the window.
Peng Woojin’s eyes shifted after hearing Namgung Cheonjun’s voice.
But he didn’t turn his head.
“May I ask how you got to know Young Master Gu?”
Peng Woojin’s expression changed as soon as he separated from Gu Yangcheon.
Just like back when he was heading to Hanam, his face bore an emotionless mask that made him look devoid of any feelings.
And Namgung Cheonjun couldn’t help but feel a little horrified by that hollow expression of his.
“Why are you curious about that.”
Unlike his cheerful voice when he was talking to Gu Yangcheon, only a cold voice responded to Namgung Cheonjun.
“I saw a different side of you.”
“Young Master Namgung.”
“Yes, Brother Peng.”
“Do you wish to become a star?”
Namgung Cheonjun froze after suddenly hearing such a question.
He couldn’t understand what Peng Woojin meant.
“What are you…”
“Do you think that you could make yourself shine?”
Namgung Cheonjun thought to himself after hearing Peng Woojin.
That he was already shining.
Which was why he was called the Lightning Dragon and garnered praises from so many other young prodigies.
However, he couldn’t say that out loud.
As Peng Woojin’s expression resembled a knife.
And Peng Woojin continued to speak without waiting for Namgung Cheonjun’s response.
“I admire those who shine on their own. Seeing stars shine brings an excitement that I’ve never known, so how could I not welcome such a thing?”
“Young Master Gu, that boy is exactly that. He’s just like a raging fire that shines very brightly, so how could I dislike someone like him?”
Namgung Cheonjun couldn’t understand.
He did not understand how Gu Yangcheon was the one shining.
When he was just a bastard with a nasty personality.
‘He could be talented,’
But that was it.
After what happened that day, Namgung Cheonjun was confined to his clan as punishment…
But thanks to that, Namgung Cheonjun was able to experience a huge growth.
Namgung Cheonjun knew that he’d easily beat Gu Yangcheon if he used Qi.
Which was why he was eager to participate in this Dragons and Phoenixes tournament.
‘So that I can see Gu Yangcheon defeated in a humiliated manner and that’d mean that my sister would…’
“Regarding the Lord of Heaven.”
As Namgung Cheonjun was thinking of his desires,
He snapped out of his thoughts after hearing Peng Woojin.
For some reason, Peng Woojin’s obsidian-like eyes looked terrifying to Namgung Cheonjun.
“I have no idea what exactly he expects from me, but do not get your hopes up. As I, too, do not have high hopes for you.”
After hearing Peng Woojin’s cold words, Namgung Cheonjun clenched his fist.
As he moved, the blue bracelet on Namgung Cheonjun’s wrist waved along.
Namgung Cheonjun had received this bracelet from the Lord of Heaven himself just before departing for Hanam.
Peng Woojin, who had been gazing out the window, now fixed his eyes on Namgung Cheonjun.
After locking eyes with Namgung Cheonjun, Peng Woojin spoke in a frigid tone.
“Call me by the correct title. I am not your brother.”
Peng Woojin’s tone and expressions were completely different from back when he told Gu Yangcheon to call him ‘Bro’.
After hearing Peng Woojin’s chilling words, Namgung Cheonjun sealed his lips and nodded.
Once again, silence enveloped the carriage as it journeyed toward the Murim Alliance.
You can rate/review this series here.