༺ Mount Hua (4) ༻
It’s been 10 days since I left my clan to go to Mount Hua.
If I had to list one thing that made this trip different from the Sichuan trip, it was that I couldn’t relax during this trip.
“Young Master, are you feeling alright?”
“Y-Yes, you do not need to worry about me.”
It was because of the person, who was acting as the coachman, one of the Heavenly Venerables, the Sword Emperor himself.
Just why, why did he have to be the one driving the carriage that I’m riding when there were other carriages available?
Thanks to that, I felt like I was going to die from the discomfort these past 10 days.
To be fair, it was probably because Wi Seol-Ah was in the carriage I was riding as well, but in the end, it made me feel uncomfortable.
I would have honestly felt better if I was the one driving the carriage instead.
For fucks sake…
“Muyeon, how long until we arrive?”
I looked outside the window and spoke to Muyeon.
It was a pointless question.
Muyeon responded to me with a stiff smile.
“Young Master… I feel as if you have asked the same question 30 times by now.”
“…Right? I had a feeling I asked that question before.”
“To say it again, we still have a long way to go.”
“…Makes me sad everytime I hear it, huh.”
This absurdly vast land of this world…
While I was heaving a sigh, Wi Seol-Ah approached me and began speaking.
“Young Master, Young Master.”
“What is it?”
“What’s your favorite dumpling?”
“What kind of nonsense are you talking about for you to ask what my favorite dumpling is, rather than asking something about my favorite food?”
“But the Young Master only eats dumplings.”
She wasn’t wrong so I couldn’t really argue with that point.
We got to the point of talking about what my favorite dumpling is, huh.
“I just like all dumplings.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s cheap while also being rich in quantity.”
It was as simple as that. They were cheap and rich in quantity.
Also, they were delicious.
There were probably many types of dumplings, but I wasn’t really picky about them.
As long as they were cheap, rich in quantity, and tastier than ration pills, I was fine with it.
I’ve had stuff worse than ration pills before, so as long as they tasted like actual food, I ate them.
Wi Seol-Ah tilts her head in confusion upon hearing my response.
“Weird, the servant sisters told me that the Young Master was picky with his food…”
I was picky before.
When I was young, I was stubborn and only looked for expensive quality food for some reason.
But later on I was able to realize that all of that was pointless as I neared my death.
｢Just eat it already, God damn it.｣
｢Fucking hell, how am I supposed to eat this. Do you really think a centipede’s tail is food?｣
｢You think I eat it because I want to? I eat it so I can live, you idiot.｣
｢I’m not going to eat it.｣
｢If you aren’t going to, then give it to me. I’m going to eat more rather than protecting my pride.｣
I’m going to admit it now, but the centipede’s tail didn’t taste too bad.
To be more specific, it was better than most things I could find there.
I had to drink beasts’ blood rather than water, and had to consume poison while fully aware of its contents, just to fill up my belly.
What a shitty memory.
“…I feel sick now.”
Thinking of this memory made me feel like vomiting.
Wi Seol-Ah, who checked on my condition, took something out in a hurry.
It was a yakgwa.
…Why did she take out a yakgwa and not something like medicine?
Then, Wi Seol-Ah spoke to me with a trembling voice.
“Do you want a bite…?”
“…You offer me not even one piece, but one bite?”
“But… This is my last one.”
After hearing Wi Seol-Ah’s words, I moved my neck to reach for the yakgwa.
I pretended to take only one bite, but ate all of it at once instead.
Wi Seol-Ah’s scream echoed in the carriage.
Basically, today summed up everything that’s happened over the past 10 days.
When it became night, we, like before, had to set up a camp.
The horses had to rest, and we too had to rest our bodies as this was a long trip.
The escorts set up a campfire and went on to look out for any danger as if they were waiting to do so.
They were keeping a night watch rather early.
Both Wi Seol-Ah and the Sword Emperor left the carriage. Moreover, excluding the nearby escorts, I was left alone in the carriage.
After positioning myself in the correct posture, I slowly released my fire Qi.
I felt my Qi begin to spread throughout my whole body from my abdomen, empowering me.
With every breath, I saw red Qi come out of my body.
It meant that I was very close to reaching the 4th rank.
When Qi is released outside the body for too long, it starts going out of control.
I felt my Qi become rougher and more awkward to control.
That was the limit of being at the 3rd realm.
If I continued doing this for any longer, my body would be damaged.
Once I break the wall to reach the next rank, I wouldn’t have this problem, but my physical body was what prevented me from breaking that wall.
Again, this physical body of mine.
I kept trying again and again because of my impatience, but I kept facing the same wall each time.
‘I feel so impatient, both in my mind and in my situation.’
I withdrew my Qi back into my body as I realized that I couldn’t rush this process no matter how greedy I felt.
It was important for me to learn how to be patient when it came to transcending to a new level.
After all, patience was the most important part when it came to reaching a new level.
However, the reason why I kept trying was not only because I wanted to reach the 4th realm, but also to enhance my Qi.
Little by little, I would strengthen my base and get rid of all the impure Qi.
With that, the improved Qi would help me gain more growth in the future.
I found it funny how I was thinking of all of this.
‘I thought I’d left all my greed for martial arts in the past.’
I told myself to only become strong enough to protect myself, and it’s only been a few months since.
Yet I’m becoming greedier after I got the power from the snake.
I guess I had to face the fact that I truly was a martial artist after all.
After all of the heat went away, I was able to notice how quiet it was at night.
The chirping sounds of bugs echoed in my ear as I leaned back in my chair.
I was out of energy after finishing my training.
Whenever I’m in a situation like this, I would only think about stuff like what to do in the future or sins I’d committed in the past which would just hurt my head.
But recently, those thoughts don’t come to mind anymore.
It was thanks to the scent of plums that permeated throughout the inside of the carriage.
I even felt a bit dizzy from the scent after withdrawing my Qi.
If you are wondering why I’m suddenly talking about some plum scent, it was because of the stone that I was carrying in my pocket.
“…Give me a break.”
I had to smile blankly at the scent that stabbed my nose.
It was the treasure I got from the Second Elder that was producing the scent of plums.
At first, it didn’t give off any smell due to it being wrapped in cloth, but ever since a few days ago, it started to give off the scent even when it was still wrapped up in cloth.
I didn’t put much thought into it since it was a treasure and all, but today was especially bad.
“How did something like this even come to exist?”
I carefully took out the wrapped up stone.
Something like a treasure was considered to be truly mysterious, even in the future.
This stone that produced the smell of plums was no exception.
Whether it was the Namgung Clan’s sword enveloped by lightning or the statue of Shaolin Sect holding a mysterious light within itself, they were all similar.
They all broke the laws of nature.
Things like those were called treasures, but it was still hard to explain why those things even came to exist in the first place.
I just knew that they did.
After observing the stone in my hand for a bit, I put it back into my pocket.
If I broke the stone accidentally while playing with it, I would’ve had to run far away from Mount Hua rather than going there in the first place.
Even after I put the stone back into my pocket, the scent still lingered in the carriage.
It’s hard to witness a plum blossom in this season…
Yet I’ve embraced the scent of it in this carriage.
I’d even begun to hallucinate the leaves of plum flowers blowing because of the scent.
‘I must be tired…’
I rubbed my eyes, but the leaves still remained.
I thought that I must have been really tired so I decided to lie down.
It would have been more comfortable for me to sleep outside since they had probably finished setting up the camp,
But I felt especially tired today.
Yeah, let’s just close my eyes for a bit and finish my training later.
With that thought, I relaxed my body.
While I was about to fall asleep,
I slightly heard a voice while feeling fuzzy.
｢Who the hell is this…?｣
Wherever it came from, it was the voice of an old man I’d never heard before.
｢I don’t think this guy is from Mount Hua?｣
Is this a dream?
Am I having a nightmare again?
｢How is a kid that’s not from Mount Hua eating up all this Qi?｣
While I was still feeling dim and fuzzy, the old man sounded like he was extremely angry.
｢…Oh my god, what am I even witnessing… What blood do you have for you to consume all of this. You’re gonna get sick at this rate!｣
It felt like someone was tapping my cheek, telling me to wake up.
But my haggard body made it too hard for me to move.
｢…For fucks sake…!｣
After hearing his angry voice for a long time, the voice seemingly disappeared after giving up.
And when I finally woke up from my sleep,
Funnily enough, my destructive flame art reached the 4th realm.
* * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * *
The Qi that surrounded my hand swayed wildly.
Even though just yesterday, my Qi had barely given off a small heat haze, it had changed this much.
This was the proof that my flame art reached the 4th realm.
I was only able to continue staring at the flame dumbfoundedly, but this was the reality.
“What? What the hell happened…”
Yesterday, my body refused to escape the 3rd realm of flame arts, but all of sudden I reached the 4th realm the next morning.
I was speechless from how nonsensical this was.
Although I was happy because I wanted this to happen, I still felt frustrated as I didn’t know how it happened.
My physique was the same as before.
While the body may have remained the same, my Qi felt strangely calmer.
The Qi that flowed throughout my body didn’t feel rough, but instead felt calm and fluid.
Thanks to that, it didn’t take a toll on my body and I was able to control the flow of Qi.
Fluid, huh… No matter how much I thought about it, that word did not fit the characteristics of destructive flame arts at all.
If I had to compare this Qi to another, I would have to say it’s most similar to Mount Hua’s Qi.
The art known for being as wild as a beast is seemed similar to Mount Hua’s Qi? This was absurd.
And the biggest problem was, the normally flame-like red Qi was instead looking strangely lighter.
…How should I say this, it feels like I’ve seen this Qi before.
After I took out the stone that was in my pocket with shaky hands, I then started to unwrap the cloth.
Please don’t tell me… God, please.
Is it because I begged for it so much?
Thankfully, there wasn’t any problem with the stone.
I would always become anxious around stones because lately, whenever I hold some weird-looking stones, I’d end up absorbing the power within them against my will.
And if I accidentally absorbed whatever was inside of this stone, I would have had to live in a corner somewhere hiding far away from Mount Hua.
So because of that, the stone not having any problem whatsoever was very significant to me.
But even after letting out a sigh of relief, I was able to notice something different about the stone.
‘…I feel like the light got a bit dimmer?’
I felt like the light that should have lit up the whole carriage was now dimmer than usual.
Nah, it’s just a mistake… It has to be.
“Just in case… Let’s just put it somewhere else rather than me carrying it around.”
I think it’s better for me to lose the stone rather than destroying the treasure with my own hand-
No, I think both would end up making my life a living hell…?
Fuck, why was I given something like this…!
I really felt vengeful towards the Second Elder who made me deliver this thing.
“…It’s fine. They wouldn’t notice as long as I give it to them while pretending to not know anything.”
My main goal of coming here wasn’t the stone anyways, but instead bringing my little sister back to the clan.
As long as that didn’t conflict with my main goal, it was fine.
And if it wasn’t fine, I would make it fine.
That’s what I had thought then.
“I came here as I was curious about something.”
But I forgot about one important thing.
“I am Yung Pung of Mount Hua.”
That I had really shitty luck.
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