༺ Not Yours (1) ༻
The amount of time that had passed since we left the Gu Clan for Shaanxi.
We stopped by a few towns from time to time, to restock our inventory, and also ran into some demon gates along the way,
However, it was a peaceful trip without any casualties or injuries.
It would have honestly been weirder for us to stumble upon any problems or accidents with people like the escorts of the Gu Clan or the swordsmen of the Mount Hua Sect traveling with us.
As we had been traveling for a long time already, I got some time to train my body and think many things through.
I was still feeling bored since we still had quite a bit of distance to cover even after traveling for tens of days already,
However, if I had to list one thing that was different from the beginning of this trip, then it would be the fact that my biggest concern wasn’t the boredom that I had to constantly deal with while waiting to arrive in Mount Hua anymore.
Although still concerning, Namgung Bi-ah joining our crew out of the blue wasn’t really it either,
Nor was the cumbersome situation of Wi Seol-ah becoming sulky at random.
I didn’t know if I had mentioned it already or not,
But I remember stating that Yung Pung was quite a talkative fellow.
Let me rephrase that statement.
“Wouldn’t like to have a leg day today?”
This guy didn’t just like to chatter, he did on a completely abnormal scale.
* * * *
The Mount Hua Sect,
They were one of the most prestigious sects of the martial world, renowned for being proficient with swords and their quintessential sword arts.
Still, there were numerous other clans and sects that specialized in the usage of the sword,
However, the reason behind Mount Hua’s superiority over other similar clans, sects, and organizations was the inclusion of the Divine Sword of Mount Hua, and the current Lord of the clan, the Celestial Plum Blossom, in their ranks.
Elder Shin coughed in embarrassment at that statement.
I didn’t really want to admit this fact, but that was just what the undeniable reality was.
In the past, the Divine Sword proved this fact by playing a huge role in the events of the Blood Disaster.
And the same went for the Celestial Plum Blossom of the Mount Hua Sect, who fought countless people of the Unorthodox Factions in his prime.
The greatest swordsman of contemporary times was none other than the Sword Emperor himself, however, the Celestial Plum Blossom was still talked about in the same breath as him due to his skills that were comparable to the Sword Emperor.
In my honest opinion, perhaps, he was not the best fit to be the lord of the clan,
But there was undeniably the possibility for him to rival the Heavenly Venerables in might as a martial artist.
｢Finally showing some common sense, eh… How astounding.｣
I really didn’t like the voice that was rattling on in my head.
Anyway, the point is, not only did the Mount Hua Sect have a very powerful leader, but they also had something else that symbolized the core of their clan.
The Plum Blossoms Sword Art.
Out of all the sword art in the world, it is often said that the Plum Blossoms Sword Art – along with the Sword Emperor’s Moonlight Dance – was the most beautiful and mesmerizing sword art known to ever exist in the martial world.
However, the Sword Emperor’s art was created by him, so it didn’t possess the sheer amount of history the sword arts of Mount Hua had.
The sword art of the Mount Hua Sect was used by the countless people that were part of the sect throughout the long history of its existence and was, in essence, able to evolve and progress along with them.
I saw a glimpse of that phenomenon in my duel against the Sword Dragon.
The blooming plum blossoms that flew around Yung Pung, as he used his sword, weren’t moving because of the wind, but due to his Qi flow and manipulation of his sword arts.
That meant that these blossoming flowers moved according to the user’s will.
And Mount Hua’s swordplay held its beauty in the midst of those blossoming plum flowers.
The elegant movements embedded into Mount Hua’s swordplay held not only sharpness but also a sense of unrivaled focus.
It wasn’t exactly called a top-tier sword art and simultaneously a difficult martial art to learn for no reason, after all. Since, not only did the martial artist need to focus on the flow of the plum blossoms, but they also needed to pay heed to the accompanying sword dance itself.
I expected that the mastery of the art needed an immense amount of training as it was a very difficult martial art to learn.
“…I don’t know if it’s because of my lack of training, but I feel like my chest got a bit smaller.”
“Senior, please stop showing off your chest while saying that… It’s really disgusting.”
“How about you wear some clothes as well. Others are looking away from you because of how disgusting your body looks.”
“…They are just a bit embarrassed, that’s all.”
“Hey, that’s what you call bullshit.”
Every single time I looked at these madmen, they almost scared me to death.
I understood that the physique of the members of the Gu Clan wasn’t the biggest out there, but the people of the Mount Hua Sect had biceps that were at least the size of your average man’s thighs.
I thought that their clan was supposed to symbolize beauty.
But then what the hell is this…?
｢Looks good. That’s what a martial artist should look like.｣
It’s definitely because of this rotten old man.
After all, the older generation was the foundation of the newer one in the first place. So, how could the current generation be fine when the roots were flawed, to begin with…
Elder Shin, you forgot the fact that you were a Taoist, right?
｢I can’t believe I’m hearing such absurd things right now… How dare you say that to the leader of a Taoist clan…!｣
Well, you are not the Lord anymore now, are you?
I could almost hear Elder Shin say ‘…That’s true.’ in a melancholic tone.
I kinda felt sorry as what I said was nothing short of a punch to the guts for him.
Thinking back to the times I spent with Yung Pung for the past 10 days,
This guy wasn’t really normal either.
“Your physical training must differ from mine, right? I’m quite interested in that, so if it isn’t a bother to you then, how about we—”
“No, it is indeed bothersome.”
I think that this aberration started just after the day of the duel.
All of a sudden, this guy— no, this muscle-headed maniac appeared out of who knows where with a boulder, the literal size of a fucking carriage, on his back so how the hell was I not supposed to be shocked…
“…Why are you holding that, Master Yung Pung?”
“Oh, there wasn’t anything else I could use to train with, so I picked it up from somewhere nearby.”
Can you really just say ‘picked it up’ with a boulder such as that…?
“Ah, I see…”
“Oh, perhaps you are interested in it, Young Master? I think I saw another one back there, so I’ll bring—”
“No! Not interested.”
He’s really gonna train with that?
Does he train like that every single day…?
And here I thought that I had been training quite hard after my resurrection. But compared to the training Yung Pung did, I felt that mine was similar to doing nothing at all.
Not that it made me want to copy his training methods though.
“Master Yung Pung, you use your Qi in tandem with your strength to train with that boulder, right?”
“Huh? Why would I use my Qi for physical training…?”
“Ah, right… I asked a rather obvious question, didn’t I?”
So you’re telling me that he doesn’t even use his Qi when training with that humongous thing?
It was nothing short of amazing that he was able to withstand such an intense training regime.
And what was equally amazing, or rather shocking, was how these muscular people were able to display such beautiful sword art.
Yung Pung was still young, so he didn’t seem to have that disadvantage yet,
But it was a known fact that big and muscular bodies got in the way of aiming for flexible movements in the usage of a sword.
This principle also applied to other fighting styles and not just swords.
Too much training actually became poison for many.
｢Everything goes along naturally.｣
What do you mean?
｢The physique of a martial artist corresponds to the martial art styles they use.｣
Yes, I am aware of that.
A martial artist’s physique changed depending on the type of martial art they learned and trained themselves with.
For example, the reason why the martial artists of the Peng Clan have humongous physiques was because it was the prerequisite for them to delve into the arts of their clan.
This pretty much made Peng Woojin really special among the Pengs as he has the body of a prince in his youth while the other people of his clan retained their characteristic burly physique.
｢As a martial artist of the Mount Hua Sect, it is very important for them to have a vigorous self-training regimen that serves as the foundation for their future.｣
｢Right. All of it is to ensure that the tree can grow firmly and can bloom more beautiful plum blossoms.｣
Do their monstrous bodies also relate to that?
｢That’s just part of the process. The first-generation students of the Mount Hua Sect or the elders of the clan would know because they went through the same thing.｣
My past memories of the Celestial Plum Blossom were blurry at best, but I was certain that he didn’t have such a monstrous physique.
Instead, his physique was quite similar to the Sword Emperors.
So does that mean one’s body changes back to normal in the end?
The point where a martial artist’s Qi reaches the confines of their hearts in order to overcome the wall to the next stage,
I think that’s when they start to change as they go beyond the peak realm.
Was this also just the adaptation of their realm? Since their body changes when they go beyond the peak realm of being a martial artist.
While I was still wondering about that phenomenon, Elder Shin spoke up.
｢No need to think about it in such a complicated manner. Their bodies are just corresponding to their changing Qi, that’s all.｣
Is it really alright for you to tell an outsider about such a secret?
｢Not like you’re gonna do anything with it, in the end, so who cares….｣
So, long story short, after laying a foundation for the body to work around with, their physique changes accordingly once they achieve the awakening state.
I idly wondered just what kind of art this clan wielded that allowed its users to attain such drastic changes in their bodies,
However, I couldn’t really afford to think about another clan’s arts right now as I had a beast in my body that I had to worry about.
“Then let us train together next time.”
I did say yes, but I had no intention of doing that.
How am I supposed to do that anyways?
I was planning to finish my light training and then return to the carriage once Yung Pung left.
However, at that moment, I saw someone peeking at me from behind a tree.
The person had a small head, and large round eyes which were directed toward me.
It was none other than Wi Seol-Ah, secretly peeking at me in a bizarre manner.
When our eyes met, she got startled and proceeded to hide behind the tree. However, she wasn’t able to fully hide as I could clearly see her hair sticking out.
What the— Is she trying to hide or something?
｢That little girl’s shenanigans are pretty cute.｣
When I walked towards her, with the intention of seeing just what she was up to, I was met with the sight of her back facing me as she fidgeted with her hands.
“What are you doing?”
I could see her back flinch at my call.
I wasn’t able to see her face, but it was fairly obvious that she was thinking something along the lines of ‘How did he know I was here?’ in that small head of hers.
“What are you doing here?”
After calling her for the second time, slowly, Wi Seol-Ah turned towards me.
She was avoiding my gaze and I could see that her lips were still curved into a sulky pout, however, she still brought a bottle of water and a dry towel with her.
I smiled upon seeing that act of hers.
I thought that I had done something wrong to her which made her not talk to me for the past few days,
However, seeing her bringing all these items with her while she was still feeling sulky was a really cute sight indeed.
｢So even you can say the word cute, huh?｣
You think I’m apathetic or something?
｢I did think that you were like that. Just a little bit, though.｣
. . .
This old man…
“Are you not going to reply?”
She didn’t speak anything after that, probably because she was still feeling sulky,
However, she still made sure to carefully hand over the things she brought with her to me.
I drank the cold water she had brought for me.
Sweat wasn’t much of a concern for me since I could just dry it with my flame Qi, but I still pretended to wipe out the sweat with the towel, at least.
I patted Wi Seol-Ah’s head as she stole frequent glances at me.
She tried hard to retain her sulky expression, but, in the end, she wasn’t able to help herself and made a brighter face.
Every time I looked at her, doing such things, my chest felt tingly all over.
｢That’s called having a crush on someone.｣
A crush? Me?
I retracted the hand that was gently patting her small head.
Wi Seol-Ah looked at me with a disappointed face, but I chose to ignore that.
“Did you eat anything?”
I tried to have a light conversation with her.
As I couldn’t talk to her for a few days since I thought the mood wasn’t right.
Still giving me a cold answer, huh?
But I didn’t give up and continued to chat with her.
“What did you eat?”
“Fish… Meat… Vegetables… the potatoes Hongwa sis brought me…”
“Right… Seems like you are eating healthily, at least.”
Seems like her appetite doesn’t change with her emotions.
After chatting with her some more, her sulky lips went away and her sights that used to be on the trees and the grass were now aimed toward me once more.
She also had a slight smile on her face.
Of course, her expressions weren’t completely back to normal, but this much was enough… Right?
“Let’s go, we need to start on our journey again.”
I gave back the water bottle and the towel to Wi Seol-Ah and just like that we made our way back to the carriage.
While Gu Yangcheon was going through the forest to go back to the carriages, Wi Seol-Ah stopped for a bit and gazed at his advancing figure.
Now left alone on the spot, Wi Seol-Ah used her hands to pat her own head.
She felt like the sensation of Gu Yangcheon’s warm hands was still present on her head.
“Oh, Lady Wi?”
She turned around at the voice that came from behind her.
The owner of that voice was Yung Pung, who was covered in sweat after he was done with his rigorous training.
He smiled brightly as he noticed the stuff in Wi Seol-Ah’s hand.
“Oh, I was feeling thirsty, so can I drink this?”
Wi Seol-Ah silently looked at Yung Pung for a bit and then responded promptly.
“No, these are for Young Master.”
Yung Pung couldn’t help but pause for a split moment at that cold response.
“…Oh! It’s for Young Master Gu? Then I assume you waited until Young Master Gu finished his training, huh? That’s good.”
After saying those words, Yung Pung tried to pat Wi Seol-Ah’s head.
However, she dodged his hand and then backed away from him.
Due to her sudden action, Yung Pung’s hand was left awkwardly hanging in the air.
“I’ll be going now.”
After speaking those words, Wi Seol-Ah bowed her head and proceeded to hop away towards the path Gu Yangcheon went.
Yung Pung scratched his cheek after being left alone like that.
“…Was she always like that?”
She was always happy and had a bright smile on her face whenever she was around Young Master Gu.
But the Wi Seol-Ah Yung Pung just met and interacted with was so cold that it left him utterly dumbfounded.
Plus, it felt like someone was watching him, for some reason.
Probably just a mistake.
That’s what Yung Pung thought in his mind.
* * * *
It was around the time when the summer heat was at its peak.
The carriage that was slowly moving through the roads finally came to a stop.
In the middle of the rowdy crowd, Namgung Bi-ah came out from the carriage while wearing some sort of veil on her face.
I assumed that she wore something to cover herself because of all the attraction she always garnered no matter where she went.
When I looked up, the sight of a staggeringly tall mountain greeted my eyes.
｢Mount Hua is still the same as ever. I can already feel the majesty and sense of justice it naturally emanates.｣
While Elder Shin was becoming increasingly sentimental with his words, I just nodded my head and lightly responded to him.
“…Yes, it’s disgustingly huge.”
We had finally arrived at the place that held a significant place in my heart… in more than one way.
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