༺ Foxier than One Might Think (2) ༻
I returned to my room after I was done with the shower, immediately, I was able to see Yung Pung in the room calmly unlike before.
From the looks of it, he seemed rather stiff but I believed that was due to the fatigue he was feeling from all the training he did.
“Master Yung Pung.”
When I called Yung Pung, his stiff face brightened instantly after hearing my voice.
How should I say this, it seemed like he was saying ‘I’m saved…!’ with the expression that he currently donned on his face.
“Young Master Gu!”
“I did say that I’ll be back quick, but did I still take too long?”
“Yes! You did…!”
I just asked him out of courtesy, but Yung Pung responded rather honestly.
Did I really make him wait that long? I thought I was rather quick though.
Sitting down next to him, Wi Seol-Ah also hopped over towards me when I returned to the room.
She looked quite happy from the smile I was seeing on her face.
“Sir, where should we have our meal?”
Surprise flashed across Yung Pung’s face once he heard my question.
What is he getting surprised for?
It wouldn’t be appropriate for an outsider like me to use the dining room that was only made for the martial artists of the clan. Meanwhile, Yung Pung was unable to leave the clan without the permission from the higher-ups of the clan like the Elders.
Hence, I believed that Yung Pung had a place in mind for us to eat since he was the one to invite me out.
“Sir… Did you not think of that?”
What do you mean by hehe you idiot…
I wanted to quite literally fold him in half since he did something that would piss me off even if a girl were to do it.
I guess we can just eat here then.
But I wanted to confirm something with Yung Pung something first.
“I heard that the students eat together, so is it okay for you to ditch them?”
Hearing my question, a bitter smile immediately formed on Yung Pung’s face.
I noticed that he would make a troubled expression every now and then for some reason.
“It’s fine. I don’t think they’ll mind that much.”
“…Then let’s eat at my place.”
“What are we eating?”
“Is there anything prepared for us?”
It was almost time for lunch, but I didn’t know if the servants were finished with preparing the food yet.
While I was in the midst of pondering if there was any food for us to eat, Wi Seol-Ah suddenly raised her hand.
“I can cook!”
“…Where is Hongwa?”
When I ignored her, Wi Seol-Ah’s face started to slowly morph into a frown.
I felt bad for her, but Wi Seol-Ah still wasn’t at the level to make food for guests yet.
So I just grabbed one of the servants that was passing by and asked her to prepare a meal for us.
Since she told us that it won’t take long for the food to get prepared, it seemed that they were already in the process of preparing it.
The servants took Wi Seol-Ah away to help out in the food preparation.
Seeing that, Yung Pung leaked out a relieved sigh.
It was one of the deepest sighs I’ve heard in my life.
“…Phew, I feel saved now.”
“Did something happen?”
“Huh…? Oh, it’s nothing.”
I don’t think that it’s just nothing, I feel like you’re hiding something from me…
Seeing that he was avoiding eye contact, he probably knew that I was suspicious of his behavior.
“Well, I was informed that the meal is getting prepared, so make yourself at home.”
His expression instantly changed into a bright one when he heard my words. And soon, both of us entered the lodge.
* * * * *
The meal was soon finished.
Most of the ingredients given by the people of the Mount Hua Sect were vegetables, so it wasn’t really the most enjoyable meal out there.
‘But as long as I get to fill my stomach, it’s fine anyways.’
To be honest, I was craving some meat since I was moving around a lot recently while also doing some pretty intense training.
However, I still restrained myself since it would be inappropriate of me to cook meat in the lands of a taoist sect.
Suddenly, Elder Shin spoke responding to that thought of mine.
｢Who cares, just eat it if you want to.｣
｢It’s not like you aren’t allowed to eat meat just because you’re in the land of us taoists, so you don’t have to restrain yourself.｣
‘I get that, but I do also have something called common sense, ok?’
｢That’s what you lack the most though, but to have the sense to know when to eat meat… how sad…｣
Was this guy really the former Lord of the Mount Hua Sect?
Right as I’m about to believe he is, he just says something like this which leaves me in utter disbelief and confusion.
‘How can I just cook meat when I’m inside a taoist sect?’
That would just be going too far no matter how many times I thought about it.
The servants came and took the dishes away after I was done eating the food.
“I enjoyed the meal. Thank you very much, Young Master Gu.”
“I’m glad that you did.”
The situation did become a little awkward though as I treated Yung Pung to a meal when it was supposed to be other way around.
“Next time… I swear that I’ll be the one to treat you to a meal.”
“You should get permission to leave the clan first…”
The more I looked, the more naive I felt he was.
I thought that he would be a stone-cold swordsman when I heard his title— The Sword Dragon.
But he was very different from my expectations.
While I was drinking water with those thoughts swirling in my head, Yung Pung started to speak, looking like he had something important to relay to me.
“Uh… Young Master.”
“Since we finished our meal, if it won’t trouble you, do you mind if we had a duel…?”
That came out of nowhere.
I was thinking that he would just ask me to train with him again, but to ask for a duel?
I had the impression that he would be down in the slumps after being crushed by me in the last duel,
But he seemed fine which was totally unexpected.
Did he already get over it?
He didn’t seem to have too many inner thoughts, nor could I spot any hesitation in his eyes.
‘A duel huh.’
I looked at my hand which was wrapped in bandages.
It wouldn’t be a problem for me to have a duel with him since my hand had more or less fully recovered by now.
But I was immediately reminded of Namgung Bi-ah when I thought about accepting his duel.
I thought that it would be problematic if Namgung Bi-ah found out that I had a duel with Yung Pung as soon as I recovered.
“Did something happen, for you to suddenly ask me for a duel like this?”
“…Uh, you know how the tournament is starting soon?”
“I… was assigned to participate along with the seniors.”
“With the second-generation students?”
Is that normal? For a third-generation student to duel against a second-generation student like that?
Or is it just because it was Yung Pung?
“What does that have to do with this?”
“…It’s restricted for any of us to duel each other before the tournament.”
There was such a rule…?
Now that I thought about it clearly, I didn’t spot any of the sect disciples sparring with each other in recent days.
“Hmm, so you want to duel with me…?”
Yung Pung quietly nodded in affirmation.
The notion that it was restricted for the students to duel with each other, but still be allowed to duel with an outsider seemed weird as hell to me.
‘…Though it’s weirder for outsiders to visit the clan around this time too.’
So I was somewhat able to understand Yung Pung’s reasoning behind this decision.
He was a third-generation student, but they couldn’t just unleash him in a field full of rabbits when he was a literal apex predator compared to the others of his generation.
Although I could also see a problem with him competing alongside the second-generation disciples as well.
I guess the Mount Hua Sect will just take care of the consequences by themselves.
“Well… I can have a duel with you, yeah.”
“However, I can’t do it today.”
Hearing my words, disappointment colored Yung Pung’s face almost immediately.
“Let us do it next time as I have to go down to the streets. So, it would not be possible for me to have a duel with you, you see.”
This wasn’t an excuse since I did have to take care of something down there.
With a disappointed face, Yung Pung just told me that he would visit me soon and left the place.
…It seems like I will have to duel with him next time.
It’ll be a real hassle.
* * * * *
After sending Yung Pung away, I brought Wi Seol-Ah along with me to the streets down the mountain.
Last time around, I came here by myself as I was given a task by the Celestial Plum Blossom, but this time I brought Muyeon and Wi Seol-Ah with me as I was here for some personal reasons.
Due to the tournament that was soon about to take place, Huayin City seemed quite a bit busier than usual.
It really felt like I was looking at the streets of the territory of the Gu Clan around the time of the Nine Dragons Day.
‘I wasn’t aware that other clans would also be like this.’
It was probably a bit different here, but I still believed that it would be pretty similar to that.
Since the enjoyment that everyone got from seeing martial artists fight each other was pretty much the same no matter where you went.
I started to navigate our way through the rowdy crowd alongside Wi Seol-Ah whose eyes were shining brightly.
Watching the sight of the crowds, all filled with smiles and laughter full of joy and festivity, Elder Shin spoke up.
｢Now that I look at it, the world has really changed.｣
He sounded a bit emotional while saying that.
‘You did live in a different generation after all.’
Elder Shin was active in a generation that was filled with endless war.
Of course, that generation was brought to an end thanks to the heroes of the world,
But the streets of that time probably didn’t look even remotely similar to this.
‘You sound happy.’
｢Of course, this is the world we strived for… so how can I not be happy.｣
I was able to understand Elder Shin’s emotions.
Since the total opposite happened to me.
I walked along the roads for a while looking for the building I was searching for and then stopped all of a sudden.
As I finally found the place I was searching for all this while.
“What did we come here for?”
Wi Seol-Ah asked with a chicken skewer in her hand.
By the way, Muyeon was the one to pay for that.
In the middle of the building, there was the word ‘Murim’ carved on it, which symbolized that this was a store that belonged to the Murim Alliance.
It was a store that sold and bought the leathers and bones of the demons.
I had a business to take care of in this store.
Inside the store, there were many kinds of leather and bones that were put on display.
Most of the items looked like they came from the green and blue demons.
Anything above that was being used by the members of the Murim Alliance themselves, so they wouldn’t be selling them to the public.
“Oh, what brings a handsome young man to our store?”
A handsome young man…?
This guy was definitely a professional.
He just blurted out a lie without even flinching for a second.
Soon, I inquired about something from the owner.
“I came here to buy something, but I wanted to ask you something first.”
“Ah, yes, please ask away. Our store is the biggest in this area! There isn’t anything we don’t have!”
“Oh, then do you have any demonic stones?”
“Huh? Demonic stones…?”
The owner became dumbfounded after hearing my question.
Unlike the bones and leathers of demons, the demonic stone didn’t hold much value.
Some tried to use them as a sort of jewelry item as they had a beautiful shine to them.
But they lost their glimmer in a very short amount of time, so they were just treated like regular stones.
“If possible, I’d like a demonic stone that is no more than a day old.”
For that reason, I needed to find a demonic stone that still hadn’t lost its color yet.
Since not having any color meant that the demonic stone had lost its power.
The owner seemed disappointed for a slight instant but then went back to his usual smiling face.
Did he think that I was a customer that couldn’t afford anything?
“Uh… Young Master.”
“Do you not have any?”
“Yeah… not only are demonic stones rarely collected because of their demand being so low, but we are running low on demonic items because of the lack of appearance in demons recently.”
“Lack of appearance in demons?”
“They appeared way less to the point of it being strange starting this year.”
I could understand them not having any demonic stones, but the appearance of demons had really declined to such an extent.
‘I never heard of anything like this back in Shanxi.’
It was actually a good thing for the region if the appearance of the demons had reduced in the surroundings. However, due to the sudden nature of their sharp decline in appearance, I was not able to take it as a positive sign.
“So, you don’t have any demonic stones then, right?”
“Well… We do have some, but if you are looking for the ones with color in them, then no, we don’t have them.”
“Young Master, what about some leathers and bones? We recently got some quality—”
“No, I’m good.”
As I had rejected his offer with a short and blunt response, I was able to hear the owner badmouthing me behind my back as I left the store.
I didn’t expect myself to find something I was looking for this easily anyways.
‘Should I just pull one out from a demon myself?’
They always appear when I don’t want them to, but don’t when I look for them…
｢Why are you looking for demonic stones anyway?｣
‘I wanted to check something.’
The two Qis that were mixed inside my body, and the mysterious beast that was holding them down.
The beast that goes on an utter rampage whenever I use large amounts of Qi.
Due to the nature of my body, I was getting treated like a ticking time bomb.
As those different sets of Qi could collide at any moment and make my body explode from the inside out.
I didn’t believe that I could get help from any doctors about this condition since even the Immortal Healer had given up on healing it.
Besides, I didn’t believe that it would be possible for my current body to withstand the collision of the two types of Qi.
To top it all off, I wasn’t even able to train my body properly since I couldn’t handle too much training either.
So I had to look for a solution to this problem.
There was one particular thing that came to mind after speaking with the Immortal Healer, although I wasn’t certain if it would work or not.
My demonic absorption ability that had followed me even after my regression.
Is this damned thing suppressing the two types of Qis inside of my body?
That did make some sense since I was still fine even though two different types of Qi that didn’t get along well with each other were swirling around inside of my body.
I couldn’t think of any other answer besides the power that was given to me by the Heavenly Demon.
‘Or… maybe it’s that thing that was eating up the Demonic Qi inside of me.’
My Destructive Flame Arts would constantly devour any Demonic Qi that was absorbed into my body,
I’ve never heard of anything like that being a trait of the martial arts of the Gu Clan.
Since if something like that really existed, there was no way I wouldn’t know about it in my previous life.
That meant… that there was another reason behind my current state.
‘Why are there so many things inside my body, as if my body is some sort of cave for monsters to live in.’
Was this just a side effect of my regression?
Or did the Heavenly Demon’s power reach all the way to my regression?
The more I thought about it, the sicker I felt in my stomach.
“Young Master, Young Master.”
While I was trapped in my gloomy trail of thoughts, Wi Seol-Ah started calling me repeatedly after grabbing a hold of my clothes.
Surprisingly, the thing that she pushed towards my mouth was a chicken skewer.
Moreover, it was a completely intact piece of chicken skewer.
Wi Seol-Ah is giving me this…?
“Young master can have the first bite!”
“Why not just eat all of it yourself?”
“Because you were making that ugly face again.”
After hearing Wi Seol-Ah speak, I was reminded of what Elder Shin had once told me, saying that my face practically gave away my thoughts.
Is it really that noticeable?
For even Wi Seol-Ah to hand me food, I must have looked like I was really down in the slumps.
Did I make her worry?
I took a big bite of the chicken skewer in one go.
Immediately after I did that, Wi Seol-Ah’s expression morphed into what could only be said to be a funny expression.
“…I… I didn’t mean for you to eat that much of it…!”
I couldn’t even speak properly because of how much I had bit off.
Wi Seol-Ah slowly ate the little bit of the chicken skewer that was left for her.
She looked like she was very disappointed at eating such a small amount.
She then spoke up with sadness brimming in her eyes.
“…It’s so good… But there’s no more.”
I thought that I was going to burst out into laughter at any moment now after watching her act like that, so I did my best to hold it in.
Since if I laughed right now then everything that was in my mouth would burst out of my mouth with my laughter.
Weirdly, something so insignificant was enough to put a rest to all of the complicated emotions in my mind and make me feel better.
I wondered if it was due to the presence of Wi Seol-Ah, or if I had just changed after my regression.
“Want me to buy you another one?”
“Yeah, let’s get one more.”
After saying that, I brought Wi Seol-Ah back to the place that was selling the skewers.
I bought two of them this time.
I wanted to eat one myself as well since they were more delicious than I expected them to be.
I asked Muyeon if he wanted to eat one too,
But he denied my offer, saying that he had to be on the lookout.
So I just walked around the streets with Wi Seol-Ah in tow while eating the chicken skewer in my hand.
Oh, by the way, Muyeon paid for these skewers as well.
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