༺ The Demon Sword (1) ༻
Early in the morning, while Gu Yangcheon was preparing for his trip to Sichuan alongside a few of his servants, Wi Seol-Ah was doing housework with the other servants.
She had started to have a little bit of fun with her chores as she got more and more used to the housework.
Although she had started getting compliments from the other servants due to the care that she put into her cleaning, which contrasted greatly with her clumsy personality.
She was still terrible at cooking.
‘…Se-Seol-Ah, you can’t hold the knife like that!”
‘Hurry up and stop her! She’s gonna cut her hands at this rate!!!’
‘Oh my god, she chopped the chopping board!!!’
‘The fire! We have to turn the fire off first!! Bring me water, water!!!”
‘Nooooo!!! The potatoes turned blaaaack!!!’
The Wi Seol-Ah, who was always complimented by the servants, had been forced to stand against a wall while holding both her hands up as a punishment, a well-known story to those who hadn’t been present that day.
After that event, the servants were ordered to ensure that Wi Seol-Ah never cooked again.
Although Wi Seol-Ah had been sad for some time because of what happened, her mood had brightened up when the servants said that they would teach her when she grew older.
“Seol-Ah, can you bring me the laundry?”
Today was supposed to be no different than any other day; the laundry was the first task that needed to be done.
As Wi Seol-Ah carried the laundry outside, she saw a carriage.
Interestingly, it was the same carriage as the one she’d gotten on when she went to the Nine Dragons Ceremony.
However, as she continued walking she noticed that there were a number of carriages behind the first one.
This either meant that there would be a number of passengers going for the trip, or that the trip itself would be a long one… or both.
Wi Seol-Ah hopped over to a nearby servant and asked,
“Hongwa, what is that carriage for?”
“Hm? Oh, the Young Master is going to Sichuan.”
“Ehh? Young Master is leaving?”
“Yes, so the Second Elder hurriedly prepared some carriages.”
At this point, a few other servants who overhead the conversation chipped in.
“You didn’t know about this, Seol-Ah? I wonder why no one told the direct servant under the Young Master…”
“Probably because Seol-Ah is too young and still has lots to learn. They’ll be gone for a month too, so maybe that plays a part?”
“Ah… that makes sense.”
A month…? An entire month?
Wi Seol-Ah’s eyes quaked.
The Young Master would be gone for an entire month…?
Then again, that was normal… right?
Wi Seol-Ah couldn’t understand why her heart felt so frustrated at what she’d just heard.
“W-When are they leaving?”
“They said the Young Master will leave after he wakes up, so they’ll probably be leaving soon.”
The servant was right, as it was currently around the time that Gu Yangcheon usually woke up.
Wi Seol-Ah, upon hearing her words, stood with a stunned stillness reminiscent of someone who’d just received a devastating piece of information.
The servant who’d been speaking to Wi Seol-Ah, upon noticing her reaction, caressed the young girl’s hair in an effort to comfort her.
She then spoke,
“Seol-Ah, after we finish the laundry, do you want to follow me and help me move food from the storage to the carriage?”
“Want a yakgwa?”
After they ran through and finished with the laundry, Wi Seol-Ah and the servants started to stock the carriage with food.
“Is this enough? It is a long trip after all.”
“Won’t they stop occasionally and buy more food anyways?”
“Uh… I’m not sure if the Young Master will be fine for a month.”
“Hey, don’t you think the Young Master’s personality changed a little after Seol-Ah came here?”
“That’s true; when I accidentally bumped into his shoulder while cleaning, he asked me if I was alright.”
“It was an actual bump? You just didn’t brush past him? And he didn’t slap you?”
“I know right! I feel so comfortable while working these days… Is it right for me to feel this comfortable?”
As the servants gossiped and worked among themselves, the carriage eventually ended up filled with a sufficient amount of food.
Wi Seol-Ah then asked the servant named Hongwa a question.
“Will this carriage go with the Young Master?”
“Yes. Now we just need to prepare their cloth-“
“Hongwa! The Second Elder is here!”
“Ah, I’m coming! Let’s go, Seol-Ah.”
The servant ran quickly to answer the call, and Wi Seol-Ah was just about to start running after her when-
However, a sudden voice stopped her and then she turned around towards the carriage.
She glanced around, looking for the owner of the voice, but no one was around her.
“Wh-Who is it?”
There was no response.
Wondering to herself about whether it could have come from the carriage, Wi Seol-Ah crammed herself inside, and–
Besides the carriage being filled with food, there was nothing else inside of it.
There was only enough space for a person to hide in, but even that space was empty.
Confused but done with her search of the carriage’s insides, she was about to leave when she felt someone push her inside.
With nothing to use to hold herself back, Wi Seol-Ah fell helplessly into the carriage and, after a small ‘oww’, struggled to her knees inside the cramped carriage space.
She quickly turned around after regaining her balance, only to see some carrots and nothing else – there were no signs of the person who’d pushed her into the carriage.
Fear gripping her heart due to the absurd set of occurrences that had happened to her in barely one minute, Wi Seol-Ah started clambering to get out of the carriage, but then-
“So, when do I set out?”
While within the carriage, she heard the voices of Gu Yangcheon and the Second Elder, and remembered that the Young Master would be leaving for a month today.
She then suddenly had the thought that if she stayed quiet, she would be able to go to Sichuan alongside him.
She was confident in her hide-and-seek skills.
Even her grandpa, who was good at the game, often struggled to find her.
‘Sh-Should I just stay here?’
She wanted to, but she felt that it would be ultimately a bad idea and shook her head.
It was scary to go somewhere without telling her grandpa.
And it was equally scary to think about spending a month in a place she knew nothing about, particularly without her grandpa next to her.
‘If I wait patiently, then the Young Master will eventually come back.’
After telling herself those words, she prepared to get up.
Wi Seol-Ah slipped and collapsed after getting surprised by another sudden voice.
It was the same voice from before.
‘Who-Who is it??’
There was no response again.
She felt like she had heard the voice before, but she couldn’t figure out whose voice it was.
“Go! This old man has already done everything. All you have to do is set off!”
“What kind of set-off is this…?”
During the short time that Wi Seol-Ah had been distracted by the voice, the carriage set off following the sound of the horse’s neighing.
Wi Seol-Ah, feeling the carriage getting further and farther away from the clan, started panicking as she didn’t know what to do.
‘W-What do I do? What do I do?!’
The panicking Wi Seol-Ah then felt the sensation of someone patting her head.
It was an extremely familiar sensation.
Wi Seol-Ah strangely felt like she was falling asleep to the sensation.
She heard a slight voice as her heavy eyelids began to force themselves shut.
｢Sorry, but take care.｣
When Wi Seol-Ah woke up, she was met with carrots in front of her and found that it was already nighttime.
Gu Yangcheon asked Wi Seol-Ah after listening to her excuses.
“You were possessed by a ghost, which is why you got on the carriage, and it’s not your fault, you say, huh?”
“Yes! That’s right!”
“What about the carrot in your mouth then.”
“…I was hungry, and there were only carrots.”
Wi Seol-Ah quietly avoided making eye contact after hearing me sigh.
Meanwhile, after I had heard all that she had to say, I slowly formed a fist.
“Do you really think that anything that you’ve just said makes any sense?!”
A sharp bonk aimed at Wi Seol-Ah’s head followed by Gu Yangcheon’s rage-filled shout.
* * * *
What could I do in this situation?
There was a troublemaker in front of me, squatting on the floor while holding her head in pain.
What can I do about this child?
How did she even manage to get into the carriage?
We’d set off in a hurry, so how was this possible?
I wasn’t exactly sure how powerful one of those people acknowledged as the world’s strongest was.
But I knew that they could easily erase a clan without breaking a sweat if they really tried.
I didn’t know exactly what the Sword Emperor was thinking, but at his level, shouldn’t he have been able to see every corner of the entire clan?
So… does that mean he knew about Wi Seol-Ah going into the carriage?
“It’s supposed to hurt.”
I was partly at fault for leaving without saying anything to her, but it had all happened too quickly.
I had no idea that the Second Elder would cram me into the carriage and see us off so suddenly.
“Why did you follow us, seriously?”
“I wasn’t trying to follow… The ghost really-“
Seeing me about to bonk her head once again as she started to recount her ghost story, Wi Seol-Ah immediately ducked and covered her head while murmuring her apology.
I sighed at her pitiful appearance and then lowered my fist.
‘What should I do? Do I need to send her back?’
I couldn’t send the carriage back. To be honest, I was already short on time and couldn’t afford to waste any more of it.
“Can I send her away with an escort…?”
If they walked back, then they would arrive in a few days.
But, the fact that it would take a few days made it hard for me to actually stomach the thought of sending them back on foot.
I felt like sending them back that way would lead to me having more than a few sleepless nights.
Wi Seol-Ah, on noticing my conflicted face, grabbed my clothes and spoke,
“C-Can I not come with you…? I can work hard! I promise that I’ll work really hard! So, please bring me with you, Young Master…”
As her words came to an end, Wi Seol-Ah gradually lowered her head, tears starting to well up at the corners of her eyes.
“We are going to be away for a while, your grandfather will be worried.”
“Grandpa said I can do anything as long as I listen to you and work hard!”
Well, the problem is that you’re not listening to me right now…
“It’ll also be troublesome to the other servants if they have to take care of y-“
Just as I was about to finish my sentence, I glanced at the servants, and what I saw caused my words to die in my throat.
‘Go, Seol-Ah! Beg harder!’
‘Thank God… at least Seol-Ah will be here with us!’
That was basically what their eyes and body language were saying.
So, I’m the bad guy here, huh? Is that it?
I massaged my temples because of the headache I could feel creeping up.
Why do I always have to deal with these sorts of problems? Is my luck actually that shitty?
“So, why did you really follow me?”
Wi Seol-Ah hesitated a little but eventually answered.
“I feel uneasy without you as if my heart aches… So could you please bring me with you?”
The tears in Wi Seol-Ah’s eyes seemed a lot more evident at this point, like she would actually start to cry at any moment.
My heart felt a little ticklish after hearing Wi Seol-Ah’s words.
But besides that, I wondered why Wi Seol-Ah was feeling that way.
I guess you could say that I had given her a lot of yakgwa in this life.
But, I had also worked hard to ensure that I wasn’t in her sights for any longer than I needed to be.
So why? I didn’t know the answer.
It definitely wasn’t love though.
Then again, even if it was love, it was most probably just a childish crush.
I told myself that it would be different as time went on.
No, it needed to be different.
Wi Seol-Ah held me while making a face eerily similar to that of a cat that had just lost its home.
I could see that she was about to cry.
But even so, I had to send her back.
How could I bring her without knowing what would happen in Sichuan? It was too risky, no matter how much I thought about it.
I had to find a way to send her away, whether it would be by sending her away along with two escorts, or by calling some people from the clan to bring her back.
I couldn’t let my actions always be affected by Wi Seol-Ah. After all, this wasn’t the reason why I returned.
I spoke to her with a decisive voice.
“…Just know that I’ll send you back if you cause any trouble.”
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