༺ Way Back (1) ༻
It’s an unfamiliar ceiling.
Oh, how original of me to say that.
I couldn’t believe that the day had come when I would say such a thing.
My head hurts.
My head was spinning and I felt sick inside.
My abdomen especially ached a lot.
I barely managed to sit-up after struggling.
…Where am I?
…I swear I fainted in the secret vault room.
The demonic absorption ability had activated without my consent and absorbed everything within the marble that the snake gave me.
It seemed like what I’d absorbed was too much for me to handle, which caused me to faint.
On thinking up to that point, I suddenly felt nervous, and mustered up my Qi.
For the fact that it knocked me unconscious, it was obvious that the qi that I’d absorbed was no small amount.
It would be bad if my body had been permanently damaged because of it.
I mustered up my Qi, and the results left me baffled.
I was shocked by the amount of heat that I had just produced.
It was much faster and blistering than what I was used to.
I could’ve sworn that I used up the same amount of Qi as always, but the Qi that I had produced was much more than I expected.
My destructive flame martial art that had been stuck in the 2nd realm for the longest time, had surged into the 3rd rank.
No, and from what I felt, it had surged to settle at the peak of the 3rd realm.
The Qi that I had absorbed from that marble had given me the amount of Qi one would usually get after training constantly for 30 years.
I didn’t expect it to be this much…
When I thought back to the Qi I had just absorbed, it honestly didn’t feel like it was that much.
One thing that I did feel, however, was that it felt extremely pure.
Were there still such Qi as this that felt so subtle and powerful?
When I considered the fact that even after absorbing so much Qi, I still didn’t feel any demonic qi within me, I felt like I had to reconsider my assumptions…
Perhaps it wasn’t a demonic stone at all?
I had thought that there was a possibility that my fire qi had absorbed demonic qi once again, but, this time around, it felt different.
The Qi I now possessed was shockingly powerful.
The only reason why I hadn’t directly reached the 4th rank was due to the constraints of my current physical body; I felt like if I just trained my body properly, I would reach the 4th rank in no time.
Thinking up to that point, I started considering the people I could face with my new power levels.
That Namgung fucker might be a bit much, but someone like Gu Jeolyub can be easily dealt with.
To be honest, I felt like I could probably take on people at Gu Jeolyub’s power level or above without Qi.
But the Lightning Dragon was still a level above.
Even if I was used to the Namgung Clan’s sword art, if it was a real battle involving Qi, I probably still wouldn’t stand a chance against him.
But seriously… Where am I?
I looked around after I finished assessing my body.
There were shabby furnitures and I could smell some sort of medicine.
While I looked around in confusion, something popped and tackled me.
It was Wi Seol-Ah.
“Young Master, you’re okay now?”
“…Get off of me first.”
What kind of person tackles a patient who’s in pain while also asking if they are okay?
I quickly disentangled Wi Seol-Ah from myself.
I was thankful for the fact that she didn’t seem hurt, however, considering how she still seemed full of strength.
Then I asked her the next important question.
“Where’s the snake? And what happened to the secret vault?”
Wi Seol-Ah looked at me, seemingly confused.
Huh? What sort of reaction is she giving me right now?
I asked Wi Seol-Ah again, a strange feeling creeping up my spine.
“The giant snake we saw in the secret vault.”
“…You don’t remember?”
“Then how much do you remem- no, up till what point do you remember?”
I decided to rephrase my question.
Wi Seol-Ah rolled her eyes before responding.
It was easy for me to notice because of her big eyes.
“Till I started following you!”
Then she forgot everything…?
Maybe the secret vault along with the snake was just all a hallucination?
There’s no way…
That wouldn’t explain the Qi I now possessed, alongside my overall increase in the strength of my martial art.
Then… Did the snake wipe Wi Seol-Ah’s memories?
I couldn’t understand.
“You really don’t remember anything?”
“Yeah… When I woke up, I was sleeping with the Young Master in the middle of a mountain!”
Someone stepped in after opening the nearby door.
It was an old man; he had white hair and his back seemed to be noticeably deformed.
“Why is it so hot in here?”
The old man sounded irritated. The heat was probably a result of me testing my Qi…
The old man then spoke to us.
“So you woke up.”
“…Who might you be?”
“You finally woke up after sleeping for two whole days.”
…Huh? Two days?
“I slept for two days you said?”
Sleeping for that long meant that I had used up all the time I was given to look for the secret vault.
“Yes, you didn’t seem injured, but you kept sleeping so I thought you were dead.”
“…May I ask where I am right now?”
“You still haven’t noticed? I’m a doctor, so this is obviously a medic room.”
…How the hell am I supposed to know that you’re a doctor?
He was wearing rather poor clothes and seemed to be a hunchback.
I guess the evidence could be the fact that the room smelled like medicine…?
“Do you feel fine now?”
The old man asked.
“Yes… I feel better now.”
The old man said that this was a medic room located at the bottom of the mountains, so how did I end up all the way here?
Wi Seol-Ah said that when she woke up, we were in the middle of a mountain and not the secret vault.
So does that mean that the old man found us and carried us all the way here?
The old man quietly asked while preparing medicines.
“What made you so courageous that you decided to sleep at the edge of a cliff?”
A cliff huh…
I could’ve sworn that cliff turned into a flat land that held the white maple tree.
So it turned back into the cliff?
I couldn’t piece my thoughts together, so I decided to first show my gratitude to the old man.
“…Thank you, Sir. I presume that you saved us?”
“Saved you my ass, be thankful to the girl next to you. She has such a beautiful face, but has the strength of a big man. She carried you all the way down here.”
When I looked at Wi Seol-Ah at following the old man’s words, she was standing up proudly.
She carried me all the way here from the top of the mountains?
I guess her bones truly were one of a kind, considering she had also followed me all the way from the Tang Clan.
I would always make fun of her being circular, but in truth, she was on the slender side.
She only looked round because she always had something in her mouth.
But how could she be so strong with those fragile looking arms…?
The old man observed and touched my arm while I stared in confusion, and then spoke.
“Since you look fine, I would prefer you now leave, since the room is small, I don’t think I can keep you guys here any longer.”
“…Oh, right. Thank you, sir. Thanks to you, I was able to wake up safe and sound.”
“Haha, a young kid speaking in such a respectful manner is something you don’t see every day.”
Well, it wasn’t easy to take in some random person into one’s own room and let them sleep in it for two whole days, even if they looked young.
Wi Seol-Ah was chewing some unknown thing in her mouth, and I had to assume that it came from the old man as well.
“…What are you eating?”
“Hmm? Cheon grandpa gave it to me as a snack!”
I guess Wi Seol-Ah and the old man introduced themselves to one another.
The old man spoke after her.
“It’s nothing, I just gave her some ginseng that I found wasn’t so effective, since I didn’t really have anything else, considering this is a medical room after all.”
…Ginseng? There are ginsengs that aren’t effective?
That was already surprising, but the fact that Wi Seol-Ah was chewing that bitter stuff up like it was nothing was even more surprising.
I thought she only liked sweet things, but I guess she liked everything.
“It’s fine, so just get outta here already. Your parents must be worried sick about you.”
I was reminded of my father.
There was no way that would be worried about me.
Funnily enough, it would probably be Muyeon who would be worried about me the most.
I searched my pockets and spoke to the old man.
“I don’t really have much, since I left in a hurry…”
“What kind of kid would have money? Don’t worry about it, I just did it because I was just bored-”
After searching my pockets, I found some silver coins.
Thankfully, I had at least brought this much.
As I hurried to take them out, the coins fell to the floor, and the old man who looked at the coins turned speechless.
Two silver coins had fallen to the floor.
“I didn’t bring much, so I don’t have much to offer-”
The old man interrupted me and grabbed my hand.
His expression had suddenly turned serious.
What was he going to say?
After a while of us staring at each other in silence, the old man spoke.
“…My Lord, if you want, you may stay for longer. Oh, how rude of me to not even offer tea to such precious guests!? Please wait here, this old man is a professional when it comes to tea brewing!”
Thankfully, he seemed to be satisfied with the coins.
* * * *
I left the room after declining the tea that the old man almost forcefully offered.
He had kept trying to give me things, so I quickly left.
Fortunately, it was still early morning a good time to set out.
My body felt lighter because of the increase in Qi.
If I use my current Qi to run to the town I left the letter in, will I be able to make it there right away?
“…Maybe that’s too much?”
It would probably be possible if I took breaks in between, but since I had to also care about Wi Seol-Ah who would be following me, I held myself back.
‘Wait no, maybe Wi Seol-ah can also follow me?’
I had thought that since Wi Seol-Ah had been able to follow me back when I initially left the Tang Clan, she would be able to keep up with my new pace. But then I recalled that she didn’t possess any Qi, so that it would probably be impossible.
Now that I was reminded of her, I checked within her body again to see if she possessed any Qi.
The result was the same.
She didn’t have any sort of Qi within her.
But then how?
Because she forgot everything, I didn’t even know what had transpired after I had lost consciousness.
I couldn’t tell what exactly the snake was, or how the flat land had turned into a cliff once again, what that strange spatial magic was, or…
I came to a stop after recalling one important piece of information.
“The- the- the marbles!”
I was shaking.
All those moonlight marbles… I didn’t even get to take a single one.
After recalling the marbles, I felt like falling to my knees and pummel the ground.
“…Wait no, maybe all those didn’t exist in the first place… Now that the secret vault has disappeared anyways…”
I was trying to think positively, but,
What about the marble I got from the snake…?
“…I’m fine, I’m just a bit dizzy.”
‘It wasn’t even mine in the first place…’ was the thought I should have been having, but it was hard to think that way because of my natural, human greed…
Wi Seol-Ah smiled at my appearance.
“Young Master, you look really ugly right now.”
“How could you be so cruel all of sudden!?”
“But you really do look ugly…”
How can she be so cruel to a person that just went through all that…
Wi Seol-Ah was, at times, unexpectedly evil.
Then Wi Seol-Ah grabbed the end of my clothes.
I wondered what was up, and noticed that she was pointing to a restaurant we had just passed by.
I then asked Wi Seol-Ah.
“…I am, but eating some dumplings will also fix Young Master’s face!”
“Oh, you want me to eat…?”
You’re actually the one who’s hungry though…
I wasn’t opposed to the idea of stopping by to eat, but I didn’t have much time.
I felt like it would be wiser to first arrive at our destination first.
What do I do, should I really just run there?
I felt like I could do it with my current body.
I thought for some time while looking at Wi Seol-Ah who was grabbing my clothes.
“…I think we should run starting now, but what do I do with you?”
“Huh…? Ooh, ooh! I’m really good at runn-”
“Maybe I should just carry you?”
“What did you say just now?”
I thought I heard her say something.
I was going to ask her what she said, but she suddenly sat on the ground.
Because she suddenly sat down while grabbing my clothes, I was also shaken by it.
Then she let out an awkward scream.
“What, what just happened?”
“M-My legs! It hurts! I think I’m injured!”
“What…? That’s bad then. Should we go back to the medic room?”
“We are in a hurry! I-I don’t think I’m that hurt.”
“So you can walk then?”
What does she want?
It was the first time I’d seen Wi Seol-Ah so conflicted with her thoughts.
After hesitating for so long, Wi Seol-Ah finally spoke with a small voice.
After saying that, her ears turned slightly red.
I was shocked at what I just saw.
‘…So she gets embarrassed too, huh?’
I thought she couldn’t feel embarrassment…
I let out a laugh and Wi Seol-Ah sulked at my reaction.
I slowly lowered my body, and turned my back to her.
Wi Seol-Ah carefully wrapped her hands around my neck and made herself comfortable.
After feeling the heat on my back, I got up.
I suddenly felt the urge to be mean, so I teased Wi Seol-Ah.
Wi Seol-Ah shouted after being surprised.
“You are… it feels like I’m carrying a boulder.”
“You’re so cruel…! L-let me down!”
“Nah, too late.”
…When was it?
I felt like something like this had happened before.
But it didn’t have the happy atmosphere like we were in right now, not that Wi Seol-Ah would remember anyways.
I was the only one who remembered what had happened back there.
And I will be the only one to remember in the future as well.
It wouldn’t be good anyways if something like this was to happen again.
I used my qi to burst into a run while carrying Wi Seol-Ah.
I was shocked for a second because of how fast and high I jumped.
I thought that Wi Seol-Ah would be having fun with the winds that were hitting her, but instead she buried her face in my back.
I thought that running at this rate, I would make it to the destination without any problems.
Chdildhood Friend of the Zenith
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