༺ Nine Dragons Day (2) ༻
There was not much time left before the Nine Dragons Ceremony began, and I was being held hostage by a bear-like man.
The man spoke to me.
“You aren’t running away this time, huh.”
If someone were to have the nickname “Giant Mountain”, it would definitely be him.
He seemed to be at least 8 feet tall, and his wide shoulders only made him look bigger.
He had white hair and some wrinkles on his face, which gave an inkling as to how old he was.
However, he was a martial artist before he was an old man.
He was the second Elder of the Gu Clan, Gu Ryoon.
“You would always run away when you saw me, so what brings you here?”
“You said you’ll split me in half if I don’t come… And how can I miss the Nine Dragons Ceremony?”
“Oh? You’re talking back to me now.”
The Second Elder with his huge hands ruffled my hair.
The Second Elder was always obsessed with me, probably because of the fact that I was the only son of the Gu clan.
Him not controlling his power made it so that my head would shake along with him scrambling my hair.
‘I-I feel like throwing up…”
When I was about to pass out, Gu Yeonseo appeared. She was my saving grace.
Gu Yeonseo cringed when she looked at me, but then immediately fixed her expression and respectfully greeted the Second Elder.
“Greetings, Second Elder.”
“Oh! My Yeonseo came!”
The Second Elder let me go when he saw Gu Yeonseo and took out a yakgwa.
I feel like I’ve seen this before…
“This troublemaker never has days when he’s cute. You must be tired after coming all the way here. Grandpa didn’t bring anything as he was in a hurry… Do you want some yakgwa?”
Gu Yeonseo, with a slight smile, declined the offer.
“Sorry, I’m not feeling too well right now…”
“Oh no…! I must call the medics!”
“It’s no problem, Second Elder, I’m just nervous for the event. I’ll gladly take the yakgwa next time.”
Gu Yeonseo bowed respectfully and left to get changed.
“She’s so polite and respectful, unlike someone here.”
“May I visit the doctor as I’m about to faint from you shaking my head?”
“That’s easily cured by rubbing some spit on it, so be quiet.”
…What is this discrimination?
I felt a bit sad as it was a bit unfair, but I just let it go as he was a man with a unique personality.
“Second Elder, let me have the yakgwa if you’re not going to eat it.”
“I’ve been telling you ever since, but you need to eat less. It’s ridiculous for the son of Gu Clan to be so greedy for a yakgwa.”
“But, you were just about to give yakgwa to the daughter of the Gu Clan. And what does being a child of the Gu Clan have to do with yakgwa…”
“Yeonseo deserves it as she trains consistently. On the other hand, you just eat, poop, and sleep.”
“It won’t be me that’ll be eating the yakgwa, so it’s fine.”
With that said, I got the yakgwa from the Elder. Obviously, I was going to give it to Wi Seol-Ah.
Whenever I see yakgwa, I’m now reminded of Wi Seol-Ah. Is it because of how I saw her enjoying it so much?
I saw Wi Seol-Ah and other servants approach us as I got the yakgwa.
When the servants respectfully bowed their heads towards us, Wi Seol-Ah imitated the movement.
The Second Elder signaled with his hand that there was no need.
Wi Seol-Ah then hopped towards me.
“Young master! There are so many people outside!”
“Of course, it’s a ceremony.”
“They are selling dumplings, beef skewers, and noodles!”
“…Weren’t you just talking about how many people there are? Why is it suddenly now about food?”
“But the dumplings…”
Wi Seol-Ah suddenly stopped talking and hid behind me in shock.
I turned around, wondering what had made her do that, and saw the Second Elder staring down at her.
It was scary as hell considering that this was a 8 feet tall man with mountainous shoulders.
Plus, the Gu Clan’s bloodline were known to have scary and sharp eyes, so they never had the best facial expressions.
“…Second Elder, it’s scary for people when you just stay still and stare like that.”
“What’s the matter, sir?”
“That child is your concubine?”
“…What are you talking about? Look at her clothing, sir. She’s a servant.”
The servants who served the blood of Gu had yellow clothing. Same with Wi Seol-Ah.
“Is that so? I guess if you’re the one saying it, then it must be true.”
The Second Elder left after losing interest. I had to get ready, as the sun would set soon.
I handed over the yakgwa to Wi Seol-Ah.
“Eat this and behave well.”
“Huh? I ate some before…”
“Why? You said you like it, did you get tired of it?”
“No… My grandpa told me not to eat more than five a day.”
“…When did you eat five already?”
I thought I gave her one in the carriage? When I looked over to the servants, I felt them avoiding my gaze.
“So it was them…”
They most likely didn’t give her my share of snacks, so they probably used their own money to get her some.
I decided to just hand the yakgwa to her and leave it to her to decide whether to eat it now or tomorrow. After doing so, I hurriedly left to change my clothes.
Well, there wasn’t much preparation for me to do – I just had to wear the red clothing that symbolized the clan.
As the sun set, lights from various places began to shine in the conference hall.
In the middle of the hall was the Second Elder, and Gu Yeonseo and I were standing by his side.
All the blood relatives had to participate in Nine Dragons Day, but the youngest of the family was currently not in the clan and the eldest daughter was busy with her swordsman work, so it was just me and Gu Yeonseo.
The Lord was also supposed to be here, but it was hard for him to leave the clan because he was required to deal with True Gate of Demons.
The same went for the first swordsmen squad of the Gu Clan.
Therefore, the only ones participating in the ceremony were the second, third, and fourth swordsmen squads as the fifth squad was out on a mission.
The first ceremony of this year consisted of a rather small number of members in comparison to other times.
‘Though the hall is huge, thanks to Heaven market.’
The conference hall was indeed too big when compared to how many people were currently in it.
The huge size meant that more people were able to come in and watch, but it also meant that there was a higher chance of a disaster happening.
Of course, no one would be stupid enough to cause a disaster with swordsmen gathered here.
Hundreds of people inhabited the massive hall even after excluding myself, the Second Elder, and Gu Yeonseo – they were swordsmen of the Gu Clan.
Each one of them was a skilled martial artist and were emanating their own warrior-like aura.
“The captain of each swordsmen squad, step forward.”
The Second Elder’s playful appearance from before had disappeared, and he now displayed his dignity as an Elder of the clan.
His words echoed throughout the hall as he spoke, as he’d enhanced them with the power of his ki.
Upon hearing the Second Elder’s words, the leader of each swordsmen squad stepped forward.
“Deputy of the second team, Woo Ahn-Seon! I give my greetings to the Elder of the Gu Clan.”
“Captain of the third squad, Ma Cheol-Hyun, I give my greetings to the Second Elder.”
“Deputy of the fourth squad, Hyuk Jooyum, I give my greetings to the Second Elder.”
One Captain and two deputies of swordsmen squads stepped forward.
Only one of the leaders among the groups came out, just in case an emergency occurred.
Of course, they planned beforehand who would step forward.
The Second Elder nodded after seeing the group of swordsmen and continued to speak.
“For the civilians and the Gu Clan…”
Whatever he said after that I didn’t pay much attention.
To summarize, he was basically saying thanks for the hard work they’d done, thanks for the hard work they would do in the future, and that they would be rewarded for their hard work.
The rewards that the swordsmen got were medicine and money, at least twice the amount that they earned in a month.
However, from what I noticed, the swordsmen seemed to be affected more by the Elder’s words than the rewards,
Which was something I couldn’t understand.
During his speech, myself and Gu Yeonseo simply stood by the Elder. It was to show that the Gu Clan’s bloodline acknowledged their hard work.
It was an easy way to boost the swordsmens’ morale.
“…I thank you for your hard work.”
As the Second Elder’s speech dwindled to a halt, I stopped my thoughts from wandering and focused on what was occurring before me.
After the Elder showed his gratitude, the swordsmen and the people watching all clapped their hands.
When I looked at the sky, the sun had already set.
The first day of the Nine Dragons Ceremony was coming to an end.
‘Thankfully, nothing annoying happened.’
Even though it was unlikely for a disaster to occur, especially when the swordsmen of the Gu Clan were here, I was still cautious.
This poor head of mine didn’t remember everything.
I could remember some big events, but not every single event that had happened at this point in time.
It could be because I was young and quite unfocused at this time in the past that I couldn’t remember much.
Or, it could be because I erased most of my memories in order to only remember the happy ones.
‘I don’t think anything happens in this Nine Dragons ceremony.’
I do remember the ‘incident’ that would happen in the winter, but I don’t remember anything happening in the spring’s Nine Dragons Ceremony.
When the clapping came to a stop, I took my leave alongside the guides of Heaven.
* * * *
A festival for the Gu Clan swordsmen was hosted after nightfall.
There were tons of foods and drinks prepared by the Heaven market as this was a festival.
The leaders and the co-leaders of each swordsmen refused the drinks at first as they had to act according to their positions, but the Second Elder said it was fine for them to drink for today.
With that said, the swordsmen celebrated even louder than when they were rewarded with medicine and money.
“What a mess.”
They were humans too, so it was natural for them to strive for drinks and greasy food, it’s just that they were normally restricted.
Now that the Second Elder had removed that restriction, the atmosphere skyrocketed, and it all became messy.
As I got up, planning to step out of the market to get some fresh air, Muyeon followed as if he had been waiting for me.
“Hmm? Why are you following me and not drinking with them?”
“How can an escort drink? The festival is for the swordsmen and not me, so I’m fine.”
“Huh. Aren’t you a part of the swordsmen anyways?”
Muyeon stopped at my words.
Martial artists that acted as an escort for the Gu Clan were also a part of the swordsmen. That meant that Muyeon was also associated with the group.
“Well, whatever. Want to look around the streets?”
I changed the subject as he seemed to be struggling trying to weave an answer, not to mention, I wasn’t curious enough to pry any further, nor was it my business to do so.
“The legendary Pavillion is obviously going to be big, but, to be honest, seeing the magnitude of this place in person is still awe-inspiring.”
These streets were much livelier than the streets of the Gu Clan, with lights turning on after nightfall.
Could a street of this caliber rival the streets of Anhui or Shanxi?
I felt bad for Muyeon who followed behind me, ready to protect me in case of any danger, but I couldn’t help but enjoy the experience.
As I wandered aimlessly through the streets, watching people walk around peacefully, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of peace and calm.
It was as if the disaster that had befallen my previous life hadn’t occurred yet.
“Should I buy some dumplings?”
I was reminded of Wi Seol-Ah’s constant talk about dumplings.
“For that servant, right?”
Muyeon immediately referenced Wi Seol-Ah as I murmured about buying dumplings.
“Not just her. The others will also be happy if I buy some for them.”
Might as well buy some for the other servants too. Muyeon looked at me with a satisfied and proud expression.
“Young master is definitely different from the rumors. They say that you shouldn’t judge a person according to their rumors. I still have a lot to learn.”
“What are you on about? I’m only buying dumplings. Wait, how long have you been my escort for…?”
“A little under 15 days.”
…I guess he became my escort a little before I resurrected. Makes sense why he was saying that.
I didn’t know whether to see this as him being lucky, or me being lucky.
It would seem like my escort changed every other day along with Muyeon, as I didn’t have much to recall about Muyeon.
“Young master, I think they are selling dumplings over there.”
When I turned in the direction Muyeon was pointing to, the smell of freshly steamed dumplings wafted towards us, making my mouth water despite my lack of hunger previously.
“That place looks good, let’s go there.”
I didn’t hesitate.
As I was walking towards the dumpling store,
“Madam, it’s dangerous for you to wander around like this.”
“You worry too much, it’s Nine Dragons Day. What could possibly happen with so many swordsmen of the Gu Clan here?”
I saw a familiar face.
“That’s why I’m worried… What if you run into the young master of the Gu-”
“There’s no way that would happen. There are so many people here.”
Damn it. She shouldn’t have said that…
Right as she said that, our eyes met.
When she saw me, she stiffened like a rock.
The female escort behind her was also astonished.
The girl had hair coming down to her shoulders and eyes that were as dark as obsidian.
She also had a black ring on her finger.
It was hard to see the symbol that was on her ring, but I knew what that ring symbolized because I already knew who she was.
The Peng Clan of Hebei.
The girl who used to wield a katana, hails from one the Four Noble Clans. She is the Young Lady of Peng Clan.
And my ex-fiancée.
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