༺ Treatment (3) ༻
“What do you mean by that?!”
Gu Ryunghwa suddenly opened the door and appeared.
Why did she have to come now out of all times?
I had been hoping that she wouldn’t come today.
Gu Ryunghwa asked with an excited tone the moment she saw me.
“Is it true? That you can cure master?”
“…I’m not certain.”
“How can you do such a thing? When even… the Immortal Healer gave up on it…?”
Remembering the fact that the Immortal Healer was right next to her caused Gu Ryunghwa to be careful with her words.
If I were to be honest, there was no guarantee that the Sword Master would be cured just because I absorbed the demonic Qi that was inside her.
However, even after I’d said that it might be possible for me to cure her, I kept wondering to myself…
Whether or not me involving myself in this was the right move.
If I just left the Sword Master like this, I knew that she would die.
And even if a miracle happened and she lived, she would most likely just live quietly while hiding herself from the world.
I knew all of this because that was what had happened in my past life.
The future had already changed slightly due to my selfishness,
But something like this was on a whole different scale.
The Sword Master being alive and well was just that significant.
So… I wonder… is it really right to change the future like this?
Although… there’s also the chance that she will become a helper in the future when disaster strikes…
My thoughts were all over the place.
‘Even though I might just using be this thought as an excuse to save her.’
Yeah, I was just giving myself an excuse to save her.
I was trying to convince myself no matter what.
‘I’m being selfish even at a time like this.’
I knew that I needed to act with certainty if I wanted to change the world, but I found myself hesitating again and again.
I looked at Gu Ryunghwa and saw the nervousness written all over her face, as well as her quivering eyes.
She knew that my words were absurd, but even still, the tiny bit of hope she was now holding onto due to my words was clear to see.
It really showed me once again that, at the end of the day, Gu Ryunghwa was still a young girl who was soft.
After looking at her, I spoke again.
“If you allow me, I would like to attempt to cure the Sword Master.”
The Immortal Healer shouted back at me, still clearly displeased by my words.
“You are crossing the line. How can you cure someone when you’ve never learned any medical skills? Do you know how sinful it is for you to give hope to a patient who is dying!?”
I could understand why the Immortal Healer was saying those words.
To someone like him, my words were very obviously absurd.
And if I was in his shoes, I would’ve most likely had the same reaction.
The Sword Master, in the middle of this, just continued to quietly gaze into my eyes.
Even though she was still fighting the demonic Qi that was inside her body, instead of frowning because of pain, she looked calm.
The Sword Master then asked me.
“I would like you to explain clearly what this is.”
The Immortal Healer called out to the Sword Master in shock, as it seemed like the Sword Master was willing to hear my words.
I took it as her approval to let me speak and so let out the words I had come up with in my mind.
“The Qi of the Gu Clan members allows the user to get rid of any turbid energy within their body.”
No one interrupted my words.
And as I saw that no one wanted to interrupt me, I continued.
“In my eyes… the disease that is slowly killing the Sword Master is some sort of Qi that is inside her. Isn’t that correct?”
I asked the Immortal Healer.
The Immortal Healer’s expression displayed his shock after hearing my question.
He didn’t deny my words, and his expression made it seem like he was agreeing with me.
‘He couldn’t tell that there was demonic Qi inside my body, but could see it in the Sword Master’s body…?’
I put aside that thought for now.
I had to focus on the current situation.
“When I held the Sword Master’s hand, I checked and noticed that I can purify the turbid energy that is inside her.”
To be more accurate, I was absorbing it, but I believed that saying that would only cause more harm than good.
When I mentioned what happened when I held her hand, the Sword Master fell into deep thought as she had also felt that something had happened back then.
The Qi of the Gu clan obviously didn’t have such an ability, but I had to come up with something to make myself seem more convincing.
When I turned in the direction of the sensation I felt, I saw Gu Ryunghwa firmly holding onto my clothes.
“…C-Can you really save master…?”
Gu Ryunghwa’s hands were shaking.
“Like I said before, I’m not cert-”
“My master… Please save her, brother…”
I sighed inside my mind after seeing her tearing up. There was no way I didn’t know what sort of emotions she was going through.
‘Jeez, she only calls me a brother whenever she needs something from me.’
But, thanks to Gu Ryunghwa, I felt that involving myself with this wasn’t the worst choice.
Then the Immortal Healer asked me.
“…I’d never heard that the Qi of the Gu Clan could do such a thing… And do you think you can achieve something that not even Dohwa-, the Celestial Plum Blossom couldn’t?”
The Immortal Healer was right.
The Celestial Plum Blossom who was the greatest taoist, hadn’t been able to get rid of the turbid energy inside her, and that was why he had called the Immortal Healer here.
And yet I was saying that I could cure such a thing out of nowhere.
I was about to speak, to respond to the Immortal Healer, but the Sword Master who had previously been silently ruminating spoke up at that juncture.
“Wouldn’t it be… okay to let him try?”
“It is better to do something than just sit still and do nothing. And, like the child said, I felt my body change when I held his hand.”
“Even with the chance that he can get rid of the turbid energy inside you, I can’t just leave a child to do such an important task… and the little time you have in you might disappear because of this.”
The Sword Master smiled at the Immortal Healer’s worry.
As if she was saying that she was okay with it.
“I already know that I don’t have much time left. So I want to trust my belief.”
The Immortal Healer let out a deep sigh after hearing the Sword Master.
He wanted to convince her of how dangerous this could be, but the Sword Master had already made up her mind.
The Immortal Healer, on seeing her expression, knew that he couldn’t do anything about it anymore.
“…Can you really do it?”
And so he turned to ask me.
He still had a bit of doubt in his voice.
My response was the same as before.
“I’m not certain. I’ll have to try.”
“…It may sound arrogant, but even I couldn’t do it. I’m saying this not only because I doubt you, but you also have to think about the burden and responsibility you will have on your shoulders.”
To save someone.
To feel the joy of saving someone, you also had to be prepared to feel the burden you would face if you couldn’t.
The Immortal Healer was asking me if I could endure the pain I would feel if I failed.
I smiled inside my head after hearing the Immortal Healer.
Whether it was the Celestial Plum Blossom or the Immortal Healer.
They kept reminding me of the Second Elder.
They had something in them that just reminded me of the Second Elder
“I believe that I can’t just sit here and do nothing when there is a chance that I might be able to save her.”
I was talking to myself rather than to the Immortal Healer.
Telling myself that I couldn’t turn away again, not after coming this close.
The Immortal Healer, after staring into my eyes for a bit, looked away and spoke.
“…If I see that something bad might happen, I’m barging in.”
And finally, the Immortal Healer gave me his approval.
I was finally able to convince him with half-truths and half-lies.
After that, the Sword Master asked me.
“How should I position myself for you to feel most comfortable?”
“You can just sit comfortably.”
Gu Ryunghwa helped the Sword Master sit down, and then I carefully went behind the Sword Master and sat behind her back.
I tried to clear my mind when I saw the Sword Master’s curved and skinny back.
Because as I reached my hand out, I couldn’t help but be afraid and anxious.
As I thought, it would be hard to overcome my emotions in such a short time.
But I still had to do it.
‘If I don’t, it’ll crumble.’
It was a thought I’d had even in my past life, a thought I had avoided countless times.
The hand that reached out finally touched the Sword Master’s back.
I’d been worried that I would need a special way with which I would absorb the demonic Qi flowing inside her,
But that worry quickly vanished, because I felt the demonic Qi that was inside her start to flow into me the moment my hands touched her back.
At the same time, my destructive flame arts roared to life inside me.
Because such an unexpected amount of demonic Qi was rapidly surging into me, I felt as if my body was being ripped apart.
I felt like screaming out, but I clenched my teeth to hold it in.
I’d realized it as soon as I started to absorb her demonic Qi.
If I made so much as a tiny mistake, I was fucked.
‘It’ll overflow if I let my guard down for even the slightest moment.’
The demonic Qi repeatedly flowed around my body alongside my destructive flame arts.
It felt as if there was a storm inside my body.
It made no sense to purify Qi as violent as demonic Qi in the first place.
But my destructive flame arts along with the power of Mount Hua I’d gotten from the treasure was making it possible.
The Qi of Mount Hua was making the wild demonic Qi flowing around my body move smoothly.
But even so, it was extremely painful process.
It was even worse than the pain I felt back when the Heavenly Demon had turned me into a demonic human by giving me demonic Qi in the past.
It was very likely that the Sword Master was also experiencing similar pain, but she didn’t let out a single groan.
‘Even with her body being so weak.’
She probably had a weaker body than the average person at this point.
But even with such a weak body, she was enduring such pain.
Knowing that gave me the strength to endure my own pain.
* * * *
How much have I absorbed…?
It felt like an eternity had gone by, but it realistically hadn’t been that long.
I felt the demonic Qi I was absorbing slowly being purified inside my body, but the purification process was gradually falling behind the rate at which the demonic Qi entered my body.
It was too much. It was way too much.
‘She’d been holding on with this amount of qi…?’
It really made me realize how powerful the Sword Master was as a martial artist and how pure her Qi was.
I felt like I was going to lose consciousness because of the Qi surging into my body like ocean waves.
‘But I have to endure it.’
I couldn’t give up now.
Not only was the Sword Master’s life at stake, but there was also the fact that I wasn’t confident enough to deal with the demonic Qi that would overflow and explode.
‘Why do I always come across situations where Qi had to enter my body!?’
It wasn’t easy to so much as come across such a thing even if one tried.
But wherever I went, I was always met with such a situation and the impact of it was extremely hard to endure.
‘I guess this is just my luck, for fucks sake.’
When I was about to reach my limit due to the endless demonic Qi flowing into my body,
I heard a sound from somewhere.
｢Oof… Ough… Ugh.｣
And suddenly, the pain I’d been going through disappeared.
I’ve definitely heard this voice before.
The unknown voice I’d heard back when I was fighting Ya Hyeoljeok.
The voice I had forgotten about suddenly resurfaced in my head clearly.
｢…I’m… Full… but… but…｣
The unknown voice that sounded decrepit and robotic sounded livelier the more time passed by.
I had a bad feeling about that change.
‘…What are you?’
｢But this time, it’s… delicious?｣
The voice didn’t respond to my question.
｢This… is very delicious.｣
Alongside a voice that sounded like it was giggling.
Demonic Qi suddenly started surging into my body all at once.
The demonic Qi that was explosively entering my body instantly filled up my body and even started to reach my abdomen area.
The pain wasn’t even the problem anymore.
I’m going to die.
This was a problem of death.
I started to bleed from my mouth.
I retained consciousness even though I felt like I would black out at any moment, and the arms that I wanted to retrieve, I found were stuck on the Sword Master’s back.
Both my consciousness and body were out of my control.
‘What… is… this shit!?’
The demonic Qi that was flowing into my body as if it was destroying my body,
Stopped after that one word.
｢That was tasty.｣
Following the voice that sounded satisfied.
My body became weak, and I lost consciousness.
* * * *
When I opened my eyes, it was already morning.
When I lifted my body up in shock, I saw that I was still inside the hut where the Sword Master was being treated.
Thankfully, I hadn’t become disabled due to Qi overflowing and exploding.
‘…Was it perhaps a dream?’
I thought that it was possible that it had been a dream, but when I checked my body, I immediately realized that…
‘…There is a fuck-ton.’
I felt the demonic Qi flowing around inside my body.
It felt like there was more demonic Qi than my own Qi.
When I looked around, I noticed that the Immortal Healer and Zhuge Hyuk weren’t here, and Gu Ryunghwa was wriggling around underneath a blanket.
‘Is it morning…?’
Had I been out for two whole days again? It didn’t feel that way.
I couldn’t find the Sword Master and the Immortal Healer, so I started feeling nervous.
Wondering if something bad may have happened.
I first went out of the hut.
– Swish-! Swish~Swoosh!
When I went out the door, I saw someone swinging a sword underneath the sunlight.
And as soon as I saw that, I let out a sigh of relief.
There was a scent of plum flowers following even the light swings of the sword.
The sword movements seemed weak, but I knew it wasn’t weak because of the sword trails that flowed through the air after every swing.
From the outside, the movements seemed weak, but I felt chills run down my spine as I continued to watch the movements.
Then, the sword art stopped.
I couldn’t see it clearly due to the sunlight, but it seemed like the person was looking at me.
“You woke up.”
The white hair that used to make her look old was gone, and her hair that was being blown by the wind was now a lustrous black.
“It feels different now, seeing you like this.”
I felt like I should’ve been the one saying that.
It was almost absurd how different she looked now when compared to the appearance she’d had before I passed out.
I couldn’t clearly see her face because of the sunlight, but I already knew.
‘…Did she change her bones or something? Though I don’t think that’s the case.’
I guessed that her bones had somehow gone back to how they had originally been.
But, had all that happened really just because I absorbed some demonic Qi…?
Someone opened the door and came outside.
It was Gu Ryunghwa, as I’d expected.
As Gu Ryunghwa caught sight of her master, I saw her eyes grow shaky.
And immediately after, she burst into tears.
The Sword Master laughed after seeing her.
“If you keep crying like that, your pretty face will rot away.”
Gu Ryunghwa, after hearing her, ran towards the Sword Master and hugged her.
I looked away when I saw her crying inside the Sword Master’s arms.
‘Ugh, I hate awkward moments like this.’
I awkwardly scratched my head.
I wasn’t used to things like this.
I felt that I still needed a thorough explanation from her, but at the moment, it seemed like I had at least successfully achieved my goal.
Though I would probably have to carefully observe my body later, and then there was the fact that I would also have to explain all that had happened to the Celestial Plum Blossom.
‘…I feel like I’m forgetting something important.’
I felt uncomfortable because it felt like I had forgotten about something.
* * * *
When I got back to the lodge, I realized what it was that I had forgotten about.
I saw Wi Seol-Ah and Namgung Bi-ah glaring at me with their arms crossed.
Namgung Bi-ah spoke the moment she saw me.
“You told me to come back before the meal… and yet you stayed out the entire night?”
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