༺ Treatment (2) ༻
Not long after I decided to take a seat and wait, the Plum Blossom Sword woke and opened her eyes.
“I heard you were hurt… but thankfully it seems like you’re healed.”
The Plum Blossom Sword spoke in a dry tone.
And all I could do was nod my head at her worriedly spoken words.
I didn’t know what to say to her.
My thoughts had grown very complicated after I caught a glimpse of the demonic Qi flowing inside her body, and I was trying my best to hide them.
“If you’d gotten seriously hurt, I would’ve been very sad. Thank goodness…”
“…Thank you for worrying about me.”
“No… I apologize for making you come all the way here when you must be busy and haven’t fully healed yet.”
“It’s no problem. The Immortal Healer told me that I can move around freely now.”
As I spoke, I tried my best to avoid looking at her.
‘That demonic Qi is too dense.’
The energy felt so dense and deep that it was incomparable to the demonic Qi Ya Hyeoljeok had.
It was much too similar to the Qi that the Heavenly Demon had…
So similar… that it honestly wouldn’t have been far-fetched to say that they were the same.
There was no way I was mistaken.
‘Is that what is responsible for the Sword Master’s declining health?’
But… Even if the demonic Qi was what was killing her, why did the Sword Master have that inside her in the first place?
I was finding out too many new things, things that I’d never seen or heard about in my previous life.
Had the Sword Master already met the Heavenly Demon in this current period of time?
Not everyone turned into a demonic human the moment demonic Qi was put inside them.
Ya Hyeoljeok and the guys from the Black Palace were examples.
And the Sword Master before me was the most recent proof of that.
However, the key difference between Ya Hyeoljeok and the Sword Master was that Ya Hyeoljeok had been slowly accepting the demonic Qi and turning into a demonic human,
While the Sword Master was refusing to accept the demonic Qi that was going wild in her body.
‘For her to look so normal on the outside when that thing is causing a rampage inside her…’
Since the Sword Master came from a taoist clan, the Qi she had inside her was most likely pure,
But even that Qi would probably be getting devoured by demonic Qi.
Just by looking at her, I could tell.
The fact that the Sword Master had become so weak due to the rampaging demonic Qi made it possible for someone on my level to observe her.
The Sword Master didn’t have much Qi left in her.
And even when she’d almost run out of qi, I could see that the Sword Master was still putting up a fight, struggling against the demonic Qi that was going wild.
And even while going through such a painful process, the Sword Master never once frowned.
Even though she was suffering heavily.
The Sword Master who had been observing me while I observed her suddenly spoke, disappointment lacing her tone.
“It would have been really nice if I’d seen you a bit earlier in life, I’m sorry that I can’t even treat you to a meal…”
“…It’s not a problem at all.”
The Sword Master kept apologizing.
I didn’t know why she felt so apologetic towards me.
I understood that she was friends with my mother, but she and I were basically strangers to one other.
But even still, she’d accepted the responsibility for Gu Ryunghwa and taken her in.
I was satisfied enough with that.
Because that meant I just had to endure by myself.
‘…Though I wasn’t actually able to endure it.’
The Sword Master looked at me, hesitated slightly, and then spoke.
“…Can I hold your hand?”
It was sudden at first, but I reached my hand towards her because it wasn’t a hard request.
As I reached out, I saw the Sword Master’s wrinkly hand.
“I’m sorry that my hand is wrinkly.”
‘…She really doesn’t have to apologize for such little things.’
At this point, it feels like the Sword Master is just looking for reasons to apologize to me.
While thinking that to myself, I carefully held the Sword Master’s hand.
The Sword Master then spoke while smiling bitterly.
“If I was… a bit healthier, it would’ve been nice.”
It felt like she was slowly letting go of her emotions one by one because she was nearing the end of her life…
And I didn’t know what to say in the situation before me.
Should I just remain silent?
Or could I try to flatter her by saying that it was fine no matter how she looked?
After thinking for a short moment, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t just remain silent, so I decided to say something.
And at that moment, just as I’d decided to speak…
I was forced to hit the Sword Master’s hand that I had been holding away from my hand.
And following that, the Sword Master repeatedly looked between the hand that had been holding mine and my hand, surprise visible on her face.
Of course, she did, since the same demonic Qi that was inside her, flowed inside my body.
I had come to that realization after feeling the demonic Qi inside my body.
The demonic Qi I’d had inside my body back then had been similar to Ya Hyeoljeok’s,
But the Qi flowing in my body right now wasn’t just similar to his… it was his.
‘…Did I really absorb it?’
Could I actually absorb demonic Qi from people and not just demonic stones?
‘Is this also the power of the demonic absorb ability?’
Was it really that?
Considering how I had never experienced such a thing in my previous life, something must have changed.
The very small amount of demonic Qi I’d just absorbed from the Sword Master was quickly being purified by my destructive flame arts.
And it seemed that the demonic Qi I had absorbed from Ya Hyeoljeok had also been completely purified.
The shock at what she had just witnessed left the Sword Master speechless.
It seemed like she couldn’t understand what had happened.
Then I thought to myself, that if it was indeed possible to absorb demonic Qi from the Sword Master,
‘Then I might be able to…’
Save the Sword Master.
That was what I thought.
And while I was having such a thought, the door of the house burst open.
“What are you all doing?”
It was the Immortal Healer.
– Swish! Slash!
The sound of the wooden sword cutting through the air was sharp.
The sound that had once been blunt and soft had gradually morphed into a sharp sound.
Gu Ryunghwa could feel her growth, but she felt that all of it was pointless.
‘Half a step forward, keep the point of the sword in the upper body area…’
A small amount of Qi was poured into her sword.
Even when not actively trying to do so, her movements remained extremely accurate.
But, even after seeing her good result, Gu Ryunghwa’s expression didn’t change for the better.
‘…So what if I can do this?’
After that day, she had trained repeatedly, but her mind was never at ease.
The image of herself shaking in front of that enemy was a memory that she hadn’t managed to shake off from her mind.
She instinctively knew that she couldn’t win against him.
But that wasn’t even the important part.
Whether she could win or not, her master had told her to never throw away her pride and responsibility as a martial artist, but she was ashamed of herself because she had done exactly that.
Namgung Bi-ah, meanwhile, had stood in front of her, holding onto her sword to protect her.
She had known that she couldn’t win against him, she had also felt the fear of death.
But even so, she hadn’t hesitated.
‘…But I, I…’
While thinking of the person who had stood in front of her, holding a sword to protect her,
Gu Ryunghwa clenched her eyes shut as she felt her guilt rising all the way up to her neck.
‘I only know how to run away, but I dare to make my sword blossom?’
Gu Ryunghwa felt that she wasn’t worthy of becoming a martial artist, let alone making her sword blossom.
Then her thoughts went to Gu Yangcheon.
She’d heard that Gu Yangcheon was the one who had taken care of the monster whom even Namgung Bi-ah had not been able to win against.
She wondered how such a thing was possible from a person that used to be so weak and selfish.
The last time she had seen him was around this time last year.
The Gu Yangcheon she’d seen back then was the same as ever.
Gu Ryunghwa clearly remembered him doing nothing while also treating everyone horribly.
It had been around that time that she had decided to completely let go of Gu Yangcheon.
‘…So how did such a person…?’
She wondered… about whether it was doubt or jealousy she was feeling.
Gu Ryunghwa started to swing her sword once again.
She put more strength into the swings than before.
If she didn’t want to become a useless person, she had to focus.
She trained to the point when she was about to collapse from exhaustion.
To be more specific, she swung her sword until she was forced to stop.
She stopped her training only after her arms had started to shake, sweat flowing down her chin.
Gu Ryunghwa had been dedicatedly focused on strengthening herself for the past few days while also sleeping less.
“I should… go see my master now.”
She remembered that her master had come back to Mount Hua for safety.
Her master had teared up after hearing that she was able to escape from a life-threatening danger.
Saying that she was a bad teacher.
Even though Gu Ryunghwa had never once thought that she was a bad teacher.
Even though she thought that she herself was the bad one.
As she prepared to leave so that she could wash and change her clothes, she saw someone.
It was Yung Pung.
And he was someone whom Gu Ryunghwa felt uncomfortable around for numerous reasons.
Yung Pung, meanwhile, lowered his head in greeting when he saw Gu Ryunghwa.
Because Gu Ryunghwa was still a second-generation student.
“Senior, were you training until now?”
Gu Ryunghwa didn’t respond to Yung Pung’s question.
She just nodded slightly and walked past him.
“Too much training isn’t that-”
“Mind your own business.”
Gu Ryunghwa who had been thinking of just passing by, spoke rudely in the end.
Even she herself knew that she was in a sensitive mood.
“I’m sorry. It isn’t my place to ask…!”
Yung Pung immediately apologized to Gu Ryunghwa.
Gu Ryunghwa after hearing him, continued to walk again.
She didn’t want to look Yung Pung in the eyes.
She was still a brat who never got complimented despite her being a second-generation student,
While Yung Pung was the youngest swordsman of Mount Hua unlike her.
‘…If I was him, then would it have gone differently back then?’
She wondered, thinking that he – at the very least – wouldn’t have run away in fear.
Because of her wounded pride and her guilt, Gu Ryunghwa quickly upped her gait.
After reaching her destination and making sure that no one was around, she washed herself and changed into clean clothes.
She felt herself getting better when she thought about visiting her master.
Because of that, her steps felt light even with her exhausted body.
After climbing the mountain, she arrived at the hut her master was staying in.
Gu Ryunghwa calmed down her breath so that her master wouldn’t notice that she was tired, then walked towards the hut.
– …What did you just say?
But when she went up close, she heard the Immortal Healer’s voice.
Judging by how loud he was being, it seemed like her master was awake.
As she was about to knock on the door,
– I… may have a solution.
She stopped her hand after hearing Gu Yangcheon’s voice.
She didn’t want to see him because she felt embarrassed after saying those words to him in the morning.
‘Out of all the times…’
Gu Ryunghwa put on a complicated face and hesitated in front of the door, unsure of what to do.
‘I’ll just go inside and pretend I didn’t know he was here.’
Just as she was about to open the door after deciding on that…
– You should know that you shouldn’t even dare to joke around like that!
She heard the Immortal Healer shouting inside the hut and wondered what was going on.
– I’m not joking around.
– You aren’t joking around? Do you even understand what you just said?
And, even while the Immortal Healer was shouting at him, Gu Yangcheon only responded to him calmly.
When she heard Gu Yangcheon utter those words without hesitation,
– I may be able to cure the Sword Master.
Gu Ryunghwa couldn’t help but barge into the hut.
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