༺ Purple Hue (2) ༻
In the foggy darkness, the sound of dribbling water could be heard, and on both sides of a passage, two lines of standing people could be noticed.
And at the end of the passage, a man’s visage was visible, seated on a chair and casually sipping from his cup of tea.
All he had done was put down the teacup after his sip, but that seemingly simple action birthed a wave of Qi that rippled through the area.
The teacup crumbled to pieces immediately after.
Some seconds later, the man quietly sighed to himself and then spoke.
“The Branch of Shaanxi was destroyed?”
Someone responded to the man’s question.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Who was the manager of that place again?”
“It was Ya Hyeoljeok, sir.”
The man slowly closed his eyes.
As far as he could remember, Ya Hyeoljeok was a competent martial artist who had reached the Peak level.
He couldn’t ascend to the Fusion level and had stayed in the Peak level for a long time, but he still had a lot of experience.
Although, due to his ignorance and behavior, he who had previously belonged to the main palace, ended up being demoted.
Usually, someone like him would have gotten their neck chopped off, but he was given the branch manager position even after the demotion because of his loyalty to the leader and his strength which couldn’t be ignored.
The point was that: he wasn’t someone who could be defeated easily.
“Was it the Celestial Plum Blossom’s doing?”
“It doesn’t seem that way.”
“True, that old man shouldn’t have noticed him that quickly.”
The Celestial Plum Blossom of the past would’ve been a different story, but right now, he was just a toothless tiger.
“Mount Hua isn’t that important… but the Immortal Healer is.”
There were many other options, so Mount Hua wasn’t particularly important to them.
And that was why he’d let an idiot like Ya Hyeoljeok take care of it.
Furthermore, he’d felt that Ya Hyeoljeok had recently improved in his work, and because of that, he decided to assign to him the mission of capturing the Immortal Healer.
That was a mistake.
It would’ve been better to just send a martial artist who belonged to the main palace.
‘Now they will be more alert, and we have no gains.’
He thought about capturing other doctors, but considering how they had all failed, the only option left was the Immortal Healer.
“…When we tried to check on the branch manager, Mount Hua’s people were already there so we couldn’t thoroughly check up on him. However, judging by his wounds…”
He had been taken care of by either a few people, or just one person; and in an instant at that.
According to the letter he got, Ya Hyeoljeok had died outside of the branch. But there should’ve been at least tens of people that were guarding the branch.
‘Yet all of those guards were killed in an instant?’
Even though the guards weren’t too strong, killing every one of them in just one night was impressive.
Furthermore, considering how there were no traces of a fight…
‘Did the Shadow King appear?’
The Lord of the Night Reapers who could kill anyone they wanted.
Unless it was someone who matched up to his skill level, it was impossible to slaughter everyone like that.
“Who was it that killed Ya Hyeoljeok?”
“We didn’t get much information because Mount Hua is currently hiding them, but I believe it is one of the young prodigies.”
A Peak level martial artist was defeated by a mere young prodigy…?
That was the most confusing piece of news he’d heard today.
Was it the Sword Dragon from Mount Hua?
The genius of Mount Hua who took the title of ‘Sword Dragon’ away from the Namgung clan.
The man had been told that he was barely around the age of twenty.
And as he remembered this, it put into perspective just how fast the current generation was growing.
‘It’s too fast.’
He wasn’t at a level where he could cause them trouble, but if given a little more time, he would become a threat.
“Get information on them as soon as possible.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“As for the Immortal Healer…”
If the Immortal Healer was truly in Mount Hua, attempting to capture him at that instant would be problematic.
But even so, it was something that had to be done.
The Lord of the main palace moving himself would have been the best move, but he couldn’t afford to leave at the moment.
“Send a message; tell them to capture him without getting caught if possible.”
“Yes my Lord, I shall pass on your command.”
After the man who received the order departed, the leader of the main palace, the man seated in the darkness, opened his eyes.
A pair of eyes that was emanating a purple hue was looking down at the Lord of the main palace.
And underneath those eyes stood two groups of people who kept their heads bowed while shaking.
‘Only a little time left until we get the last piece.’
He was only a few steps away from achieving his goal.
All for the world he desired.
And as the darkness seemingly thickened, the man closed his eyes once again.
* * * *
After sleeping for another day, I finally regained the ability to move my body.
There was still a bit of pain left, but when compared to the pain I’d felt when I woke up, it was practically nothing.
The demonic Qi that was flowing inside my body was also almost gone as well, and my body was almost fully healed.
A little after the Immortal Healer told me that I could go back to the lodge, the Celestial Plum Blossom came to me.
The Celestial Plum Blossom had many emotions visible on his face.
It wasn’t every day that you could see the leader of a clan look as gloomy as this.
That was the only thing I could say.
Because even though I’d gotten involved with Mount Hua’s problem, it wasn’t like I did it for them.
“…According to Tae, your body has gotten much better, is that right?”
“Thankfully, it does seem that way.”
“That means that I now have more options on what to give you…”
Was he talking about the medicine he mentioned back then?
If that was the case, then I would accept it with no hesitation.
Since, at the end of the day, my body wasn’t in the best condition.
“I heard you didn’t get hurt too badly. Thank goodness, it’d be too depressing for a precious child of another clan to die in this land.”
I didn’t know what to say, and it seemed like his emotions weren’t directed solely at me when he said it.
I felt that it was best not to ask about it, so I remained silent.
I’ll ask Yung Pung about it later.
“Even when an outsider got hurt in our clan, I couldn’t be there for you even though I’m the sect leader, so I apologize…”
“…It’s no problem.”
I wasn’t too hurt, he would be rewarding me, and I was treated by the world’s greatest doctor,
I didn’t think I’d made too much of a loss.
Besides that, I also had something that I needed to ask him.
But, I decided that I’d ask him about it later.
‘…Though it’s a bit of a problem that I was out for so long.’
I’d been out for too long.
I had originally planned to leave after Gu Ryunghwa was done with the tournament, but since she already told me that she wouldn’t be returning to the clan…
I’d planned to leave yesterday.
But somehow I’d ended up spending 4 more days than expected.
Come to think of it, wouldn’t the tournament be happening around now?
As far as I could remember, the tournament should have been happening around this time.
“Lord, is the tournament of Mount Hua currently going on?”
The Celestial Plum Blossom’s eyebrows shook a little on hearing my question.
“Well… originally it would be around now, but we decided to delay it a few days because of the things currently happening. Regardless, it’ll start soon.”
I hid my shocked expression after hearing the Celestial Plum Blossom’s words.
They delayed one of the few events that Mount Hua hosted?
‘It seems like it’s a bigger problem than I thought.’
At this point, I remembered the fact that the people of Mount Hua had also been disappearing.
Was it because of that?
It could be other things, but that was the only thing I could think of.
“This old man must be bothering you when you’re just trying to rest. I’ll come visit you again, so rest easy.”
“Not at all. Since I’m healed, I’ll be the one visiting you next time.”
The Celestial Plum Blossom put on a small smile after hearing me.
Even that smile looked a bit tired.
“When you feel that you are fully healed, you should go outside. I saw someone who’s been waiting for you.”
“Waiting for me?”
After saying those words, the Celestial Plum Blossom left. And following his departure, I myself began to get ready to leave.
But… who could be waiting for me?
Is it Namgung Bi-ah or Wi Seol-Ah…?
It was also possible that it wasn’t either of them since I’d told them to stop visiting me since they’d come here too many times.
Maybe it’s Yung Pung…?
“I don’t particularly like getting visits from guys, so who do you think it is Elder Sh-”
I stopped myself just as I was about to call for him.
Because Elder Shin wasn’t here right now.
After being reminded of him, I felt a bit uneasy.
“…Seriously, where did he go?”
I always treated him like an evil spirit, but now that he is gone, am I feeling sad…?
I didn’t know how to describe my feelings.
He was just an old man who had been absorbed by the energy of Mount Hua.
‘Is this also the demonic Qi’s doing?’
Since the demonic Qi that entered my body was the one that had seemingly calmed down the energies that were inside my body, then was Elder Shin’s disappearance also associated with it?
‘Even his departure is as sudden as the moment he arrived.’
…Is this just his law of nature?
Or maybe he just fell into a deep sleep…
If possible, I’d prefer the latter.
I went outside the building for the first time in 4 days after waking up.
Putting aside the fact that it was still early in the morning, where was I?
It seemed like I was still in Mount Hua, but it was the first time that I was seeing this building.
Is it a nursing room?
While looking around, I heard a sound from somewhere.
When I looked in the direction of the sound, I saw something shift behind a tree.
Is she perhaps… hiding?
“What are you doing there?”
The person who was hiding behind the tree was Gu Ryunghwa.
When Gu Ryunghwa made a face showing that she hadn’t expected to be caught, someone pushed her from behind.
It was Namgung Bi-ah who had one of her arms wrapped up.
Gu Ryunghwa, meanwhile looked hesitant, while also looking like she had something to say.
She avoided my eyes when I responded.
Namgung Bi-ah rubbed Gu Ryunghwa’s back after noticing her actions.
After feeling Namgung Bi-ah’s hand, Gu Ryunghwa let out a fake cough and spoke.
“…Uh, is it okay?”
“Is what okay?”
“Is your body okay!?”
I was surprised because she’d so suddenly shouted at me.
Why did she have to shout so suddenly?
Namgung Bi-ah was the one who was more physically injured than me.
After saying that, Gu Ryunghwa tried to run away as if she couldn’t take it here any longer, but Namgung Bi-ah caught her.
She sorrowfully called out to her, but Namgung Bi-ah remained strict.
I, meanwhile just continued to watch, as I didn’t really know what to say to the scene before me.
Eventually, after she’d managed to gather her thoughts, Gu Ryunghwa stood in front of me once again.
Her shaky shoulders were very noticeable.
It wasn’t audible.
So quiet that I considered using Qi to enhance my hearing.
Then Gu Ryunghwa suddenly shouted.
I didn’t know that she could shout like that.
And after her shout, Gu Ryunghwa immediately ran off, seemingly embarrassed.
Namgung Bi-ah didn’t bother to catch Gu Ryunghwa this time around.
“…You held her here so that she could say that?”
Namgung Bi-ah nodded to my question. And then I scratched the back of my neck awkwardly.
I was thankful…
But I felt like it wasn’t necessary.
Because, I felt that before hearing that from her, I had to say something to Gu Ryunghwa first.
But I knew that Gu Ryunghwa was being serious with her words,
And also knew why Namgung Bi-ah made her do that.
And so I was able to say that with ease.
I think it was probably the first time I’d ever said that word to her, including in my previous life.
Namgung Bi-ah turned into a rock after hearing the word she had seemingly not expected.
Is it that shocking to her?
“Why are you acting like-”
I tried talking to her, but Namgung Bi-ah suddenly ran off towards the mountain.
She looked like she was in a great hurry.
“Where are- Come back before the meal!”
I was a bit late in saying that so did she hear me?
Since she had bandage wrapping her arm, she probably wasn’t going there to train.
And, how do I put it, as she ran off, I noticed that her ears were blushing in red.
* * *
After returning to the lodge for the first time in a while, the Sword Emperor was surprisingly here.
And as I saw that, I couldn’t help but be shocked.
The Sword Emperor that had been sweeping lowered his head when he saw me.
“I apologize for missing out on work for the past few days, Young Master.”
“…Uh, it’s no problem. I heard that you got approval from the sect leader. Did you finish what you went out to do?”
“Yes… Thanks to the lord’s approval, I was able to finish the task. I heard that the Young Master got hurt, are you feeling okay?”
“Thankfully I didn’t get too hurt.”
The Sword Emperor put on a smile of relief after hearing my words.
I thanked him for his work and continued to walk.
No matter how many times I saw him, I found it hard to be around the Sword Emperor.
And it was odd as I didn’t have much trouble being near the Celestial Plum Blossom who was said to be close to the rank of the Sword Emperor.
But, since the Sword Emperor had returned, I could thankfully begin preparing to return to my clan.
‘Where did Wi Seol-Ah go?’
She usually came running at me, but she didn’t come see me this time.
‘Is Hongwa keeping her hostage or something?’
That was my thought since that was usually the case when Wi Seol-Ah didn’t come to see me.
Thinking that she was doing her job, I made my way towards my room.
I focused my thoughts on what I had to do after returning to the Gu clan.
* * *
The Sword Emperor stared at Gu Yangcheon’s back as he returned to his room.
The Gu Yangcheon that he was seeing for the first time in few days was different from before.
But he didn’t know if the change in him was positive or negative.
The conflicting energies that were inside of him were now combined into one as if they had formed a chain with each other.
And even the almighty Sword Emperor couldn’t understand how such a thing had happened.
He heard yesterday from the Celestial Plum Blossom that Gu Yangcheon had killed a member of the black palace.
Furthermore, he’d also heard that his opponent was a martial artist who had reached a high realm.
But, in the Sword Emperor’s eyes, Gu Yangcheon wasn’t a person who should have been capable of defeating such a powerful martial artist.
So he wondered if his insights were wrong again.
Even though he was the son of the Tiger Warrior, his rate of growth was too fast.
He knew that the Gu Clan held many talents, but even so…
The Sword Emperor turned around after suddenly hearing Wi Seol-Ah’s voice.
And behind the Sword Emperor, stood Wi Seol-Ah.
It was the first time that he’d seen her in a few days, and it seemed like Wi Seol-Ah was having some deep thoughts unlike before.
But she still remained his cute and beautiful granddaughter.
The Sword Emperor put on a happy smile.
“Yes, yes, what’s up?”
Wi Seol-Ah hesitated for a bit and then spoke.
“…I want to learn martial arts.”
The broom the Sword Emperor had been holding fell powerlessly from his grip the moment he heard Wi Seol-Ah’s words.
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