༺ Why are you here…? ༻
It had been three days since we started traveling with the crew from Mount Hua.
The mountainous roads were so rough and narrow that we’d had to get out of the carriages and proceed on foot.
“…Stranger grandpa is gone,” said Wi Seol-Ah who’d been quietly walking beside me.
In her hands was the box that held Mount Hua’s treasure.
Following Wi Seol-Ah’s disappointed words, Elder Shin popped out.
｢How interesting, she doesn’t even seem to have a special ability or anything of the sort.｣
She didn’t seem to have noticed the fact that the old man had gone into my body. However, apparently, before I absorbed the treasure’s power, the old man had talked with Wi Seol-Ah from time to time.
For some reason, Wi Seol-Ah had really sharp senses.
Even back when we were looking for the secret vault, she had shown that she was different from the average person.
Could this be another form of talent?
｢She is truly talented. To be so talented at such a young age means that she might be able to aim for the title of the world’s greatest in the future.｣
How did you come to that conclusion when you only looked at a little girl?
A fully grown Wi Seol-Ah was more than qualified enough to earn the ‘World’s Greatest’ title,
But she was still very young right now. She still even had baby fat.
…That fat will probably never leave with all the yakgwa she eats.
Of course, in my opinion, she looked better with the little bit of fat she had now than how she used to look in my past life.
Being able to tease her for it is also a plus.
“Just a little more. We should be reaching the valley soon.”
Shinhyun, who was walking in front of us, called out.
Thanks to Mount Hua’s crew, the trip was a bit more comfortable as we didn’t have to look for the correct path ourselves.
And just as Shinhyun said, we reached the valley after about 2 more hours of walking.
It would soon be nighttime again. Thus, we prepared to stop and camp for the night.
While I was sitting close to a river and eating dumplings with Wi Seol-Ah, Yung Pung came over and spoke to me.
I had only found out about it recently, the fact that the Sword Dragon was quite talkative.
It was like looking at Peng Woojin that spoke a lot.
The words Yung Pung said to me were rather unexpected.
“Once we arrive at our destination, would you like to have a meal together?”
“I rarely come across a young prodigy that is similar in age to me, so it feels sort of nice.”
What’s his motive?
Just by looking at his face, I couldn’t really see that he had any ill intentions…
But from my experience, guys with innocent-looking faces had the nastiest personalities on the inside, so I felt a bit cautious about him.
“I don’t know if it will be to your liking, but it’s the best dumpling restaurant in Shaanxi.”
“Let’s go together then.”
What a nice man he was.
“Also, you said you rarely get to see other prodigies?”
“I’ve seen them a few times, but never chatted with them much… Everyone seemed to be very hard to approach.”
Yung Pung was probably referring to the Five Dragons and Three Phoenixes.
It was understandable that they were like that considering they had been talented individuals since birth who saw each other as rivals.
｢I can feel the jealousy in you for not having what they have.｣
Can you just please stay quiet?
｢In my eyes, you have also reached a point that most kids at your age cannot, so what is the problem?｣
Honesty, Elder Shin’s words were understandable when one considered the fact that he had no idea about my regression.
…He’s not reacting to the part about regression, can he not read my thoughts about regression?
He was usually extremely quick at reading my mind whenever I talked badly about him, but he didn’t comment about my regression.
I didn’t want to tell him about it.
While I was organizing my thoughts, Yung Pung spoke again.
“And you also belong to the Senior’s family…”
Yung Pung’s words made me wonder why he kept calling my little sister ‘Senior’.
Weren’t they both third-generation students? I felt that it was a good time to ask now that we were having a conversation.
“Young Master Yung Pung.”
“Young Master, can I ask you something since we are friends now?”
My words got buried under Yung Pung’s voice.
I didn’t think we were that close yet.
Yung Pung seemed really quick to consider people as friends.
On my part, I still wanted to keep a little bit of distance from him.
“…What is it that you want to ask?”
“It’s nothing, but…”
What is he trying to ask me for him to hesitate and scratch his head like that?
It was annoying to see how his behavior weirdly matched his handsome face.
Yung Pung spoke again after hesitating for a short moment.
He inquired shyly but also bravely.
“…Would you like to have a duel with me?”
I instantly gave him the answer I always gave to others.
Then I thought,
Isn’t that too violent of a request to make considering he was asking me to have a meal with him just a moment ago?
Yung Pung’s reaction was even more problematic.
What the fuck do you mean ‘why’…
He really didn’t know why I denied his request.
That made me even more dumbfounded.
“Why are you asking for a duel all of sudden?”
“I heard that in order to become closer to one another, a duel is necessary. Is that not true?”
“…Who told you such an absurd thing?”
“The Lord of the clan.”
Elder Shin almost had a seizure because of Yung Pung’s words.
The person that told him such an absurd thing was none other than the Lord of Mount Hua? Is that true…?
Are they really a taoist clan?
｢…Ahem, I mean, he’s not completely wrong, right?｣
No matter how I look at it, he definitely is.
The old man tried to defend the idea, but it was still wrong.
Furthermore, preaching the idea that becoming friends with one another was done by having a duel made them look more like bandits than a taoist clan.
｢H-How dare you compare us to bandits!? There are no other clans in the world that have the dignity and pride that Mount Hua has.｣
At least speak without stuttering…
It was scary how Yung Pung was looking at me with a strange gaze.
At this point I felt certain of it; this guy was just another version of Peng Woojin.
“So we are not having a duel then…?”
“…Why do you sound so sad?”
Stop speaking like you’re about to cry.
It was annoying to hear a young man speaking like that.
“Just duel with other students.”
It wasn’t like Yung Pung was the only student of the third generation.
Plus there were probably many more martial artists in the Ten-Sect Alliance.
Yung Pung smiled bitterly at my words.
“Other students don’t really enjoy fighting with me.”
It wasn’t hard to understand what he meant by that.
His monstrous talent basically left the average martial artist trembling in fear.
Something like this was especially abundant in this generation.
The Sword Dragon.
Considering the title he bore, it would be hard for the other students of Mount Hua to compete against him.
If Gu Huibi didn’t exist then he would most likely have been called the greatest prodigy.
It would honestly be a sin if I compared him to someone like the Lightning Sword.
The youngest talent of Mount Hua.
He was a genius swordsman who had learned to manifest plum blossom at a very young age when most only did it at the age of 30.
The other third-generation students who trained alongside him probably felt like they were facing a giant wall.
They had probably only just learned how to concentrate Qi into their swords while this guy could already manifest plum blossom with his sword.
And no matter what they do, they won’t be able to reduce the gap between them and him.
Everyone already knew the outcome, so for one to still challenge Yung Pung to a duel meant that they harbored too much of a martial artist’s pride.
Would I be fine in the same situation as them?
Me constantly being compared to my sisters in my previous life was pretty much what they were going through, but I would assume it was honestly worse for them.
“Why do you want to duel me anyways?”
“I thought that you would be a good opponent.”
I felt his eagerness within his sword.
The reason why he asked me for a duel was probably that he knew that I was at a similar level as him.
｢The kid has good eyes.｣
Let alone me, Elder Shin who could directly observe my body felt the same way.
But even so, asking for a duel out of nowhere?
Elder Shin spoke to me after reading my hatred for duels.
｢Why not just one duel?｣
You can say that easily just because it’s not your business.
｢It’s not like you have anything to lose.｣
…Elder Shin was right.
I had no reason to deny such a light duel.
It was just a duel after all.
I had no fear for a loss either.
Because if I did, my mental state would’ve blown up already with all my losses.
I did not want to lay my hands on Mount Hua.
That was all.
｢For what reason are you feeling so guilty?｣
…I told you to stop reading my mind.
Yung Pung called me with a confused face. I hesitated to respond.
No one knew about the things I did to Mount Hua.
It was something that only I knew. And I was the only one who would ever know.
It was just that, it wasn’t something I could just up and ignore.
Elder Shin spoke while I was standing in silence.
｢I don’t know why you harbor so much guilt towards Mount Hua, but you can just duel him even if you still feel so bad about it.｣
｢You should be happy as a martial artist if you are asked for a duel, I don’t know why a young man like you is hesitating; tsk, tsk. Might as well cut off your manhood at this point.｣
The fuck, cut off what he said?
Those words may have sounded way too aggressive to come from the mouths of a hero of the past, but…
He wasn’t wrong.
I calmly stood up and spoke to Yung Pung.
“…Let’s do it, the duel.”
I guess it won’t hurt to play along once in a while.
“Young Master… You are going to fight?”
Wi Seol-Ah who’d been quietly eating dumplings next to me spoke.
She was looking at me with tears in her eyes, so I patted her head softly.
“Nah it’s not a fight. It’s just a way of becoming friends, apparently.”
Of course, it was Mount Hua’s… and Mount Hua’s way only…
Wi Seol-Ah who was embracing my head pats said cheerfully.
“Go and win!”
I managed to find a flat ground for our duel.
While I was doing that, Yung Pung said he was going to let Shinhyun know about it,
But when he returned, there was a huge lump on his head, and Shinhyun followed after him.
On reaching me, Shinhyun walked forward and bowed.
“I apologize… He’s still not very mature.”
“I don’t mind. It’s just a duel after all.”
This was, in all honestly, probably the most ‘normal’ duel that I was going to have after my regression.
I honestly couldn’t consider the duels I’d previously done duels because my opponents were all basically lunatics.
To spectate our duel, Muyeon, Shinhyun and some other people from Mount Hua came as well.
“Huh? What’s going on here?”
“Apparently Yung Pung is having a duel with Young Master Gu.”
“…Right here and now? That guy really is crazy.”
“After he’s done, we gotta make sure he can’t act on his own by tying him up.”
“Might as well cover his mouth too so he can’t breathe.”
“Won’t he die then?”
“There’s probably a way to revive him if he does.”
…I felt like I was hearing something terrifying.
“Are you fine with those comments?”
I asked Yung Pung because of the terrifying conversation I had heard, but Yung Pung didn’t seem to care.
“It’s all good. I’m used to running away.”
Oh, so it’s not his first time.
I felt a little anxious because of all the spectators that appeared, but I tried my best to stay calm.
Yung Pung got into his posture after receiving his wooden sword.
｢Hey, not bad at all. He’s well-trained.｣
A swordsman’s posture showed how long and hard they had trained for.
And Yung Pung’s posture was pretty much perfect.
It showed that he not only had monstrous talent, but he’d also put in a lot of effort.
I slowly sighed and then wrapped my body with my Qi. A red aura was slowly forming around me.
It was thanks to Elder Shin that the pink aura I used to have turned back to red.
I saw the light in Yung Pung’s eyes.
At the same time, his wooden sword was manifesting an aura as well.
It was quite slight, but that was definitely a plum blossom.
I guess he has no intention of holding back.
He was not even going to enjoy the appetizer and instead went straight into using the plum blossom technique.
I bitterly smiled as I hadn’t expected him to be this serious.
I’m going to get shit on if I don’t take this seriously, huh.
After we were both ready, Shinhyun started the duel.
Yung Pung immediately swung his sword.
I focused Qi into my feet to dodge his attacks.
And as soon as I did that, the match was over.
With the sound that echoed in the forest, dust spread out everywhere.
And with a scream, Yung Pung flew away.
However, I had to stop with a dumbfounded face.
Because I didn’t do that.
I hadn’t even gotten close to Yung Pung.
And all of a sudden I saw that he was sent flying.
…A surprise attack from someone else?
But I didn’t even feel any other Qi around.
I couldn’t see because of all the dust that’d formed around me, but I felt a presence at the spot Yung Pung used to stand in.
I said that without myself even realizing it.
It was a familiar presence.
It was a presence that should not have been here.
Why could I feel the presence of a woman that should have been swinging her sword in Anhui?
As the winds blew, the dust started to fade away.
The owner of the presence spoke shortly.
She was standing in the spot where Yung Pung was supposed to stand.
I noticed the mess in her clothing and her hair which made her look like she had just gone through a war.
But she still maintained her pale white skin and beauty even with all the mess she had on her.
After she found me, her blue eyes locked onto me.
Then she smiled.
“I found you…”
Her beautiful voice dug into my ears.
I was hoping that it was a person that I would welcome, but it was completely the opposite.
“Finally, I found you.”
The person who said that with a smile was none other than Namgung Bi-ah.
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