Chung Myung climbed the Lotus peak and looked up at the sky.
There was no longer any need to hide his training, but climbing up here calmed his mind, probably because this training had become a habit.
Chung Myung, who had been looking into the sky for a long time, turned around and looked at Mount Hua.
He had overcome the first mountain.
But he wasn’t satisfied yet.
“We still have a long way to go.”
Even though he understood that impatience leads to anger, he secretly began to feel impatient.
The development of the third-class disciples wasn’t slow. If they continued at this rate, one day, they would become warriors that no one in the world dared to ignore.
However, that would be in the distant future.
Currently, Mount Hua is nothing more than a weak sect.
“This is the start.”
Chung Myung felt a tremendous weight bearing down on his shoulders. Now, the disciples would instinctively come looking for him whenever something happened. The same thing happened countless times in the past, but there was a clear difference between how his sahyungs looked at him then compared to the sahyungs now.
“Sahyungs must have had a tough time.”
It wasn’t difficult to push a leader’s back forward. However, even if they’re supported, it takes extreme courage to take the lead.
In the past, Chung Myung thought he was leading Mount Hua.
The most well-known figure from Mount Hua was the Plum Blossom Sword Saint, and it was his presence that secured Mount Hua’s dominance.
So, did Chung Myung really lead the sect?
His heart ached.
Back then, if Chung Myung had known what he understood now, perhaps Mount Hua’s fate would have been different. Not only Mount Hua’s descendants but Chung Myung’s sahyungs may have been saved as well.
Despite knowing they were walking to their deaths, they all calmly marched forward with a smile.
Chung Myung shook his head.
The past was already settled. What mattered now wasn’t lingering on past attachments but living in the present while using the past as a guide towards a better future.
To do that…
“More than anything, I need to be stronger.”
That was the only way to avoid losing everything, like in the past.
Chung Myung knew.
This world of martial arts is ruthless.
Agreement? Of course, it exists. Loyalty? That does too. However, those are simply powers that exist for the strong to bestow on the weak. Those that lack strength don’t have the opportunity to decide on the terms of any agreements, nor do they have the right to dare discuss loyalty.
Mount Hua’s disciples would likely think they’ve already experienced the world’s cruelty and heartlessness. They may mistakenly believe that Mount Hua has already suffered it all over the course of its collapse.
But it wasn’t the end.
Sooner or later, they will learn. They were protected by this rugged Mount Hua and protected by the deeds that Chung Myung and the former Mount Hua accomplished.
But that would all come to an end.
Mount Hua would enter the open world again. When that happens, they will face cruelty they have never seen before.
‘I have no intention of carrying it on my shoulders.’
Chung Myung needed to create a place for them to trust and rely on, whether it be Mount Hua or himself.
Sitting cross-legged, He closed his eyes and inspected his foundation.
He could see.
The dantian inside him had grown to the size of a small fruit. Compared to his previous dantian, this was like a small drop of blood.
But it was growing.
Slowly but surely, step by step.
Mount Hua’s martial arts were methodical.
It was an honest style that could be used to reach the peak by steadily advancing and overcoming each mountain with your own two feet.
There were no shortcuts.
‘I will get stronger.’
He would grow not as the Plum Blossom Sword Saint from the past but as Chung Myung in the present.
He would become stronger.
‘And one day, surpass ‘him,’ the Heavenly Demon.’
An endless journey towards perfection of nothingness.
Chung Myung quietly lifted his head and looked up.
- Have our plum blossoms bloomed?
“Someday, it will bloom.”
One day, when the plum blossoms truly bloomed on Chung Myung’s sword, not only Mount Hua but the entire world would be covered in their scent.
Chung Myung jumped up.
“Don’t worry, my Sahyung.”
Chung Myung laughed.
“I am Chung Myung.”
It was a subtle statement, spoken as if it was a commitment to himself.
Chung Myung slowly descended the mountain.
Chung Myung, who was heading down with a slight smile, widened his smile at the scent of plum blossoms coming from nearby.
“Has to be spring.”
Plum blossoms were blooming.
Basking in the scent that tickled his nose, Chung Myung continued his descent with lightened steps. Looking down at Chung Myung’s back reflected the figure that would silently continue to look after Mount Hua.
Time continued to flow ceaselessly as Mount Hua, which had embraced Chung Myung, began to embark on a new path.
The blossoms bloomed again, and then once more.
The plum blossoms bloomed twice and faded.
The years continued to flow like water running down a stream.
Someone carrying their own luggage entered the village that was bustling with people.
“… is this Hua-Um?”
It was a man.
No, it was a face that looked closer to a boy than a man. He looked around with a slightly flustered face.
“Is this the right place?”
What he could see with his eyes seemed so different from the memories he knew.
The Hua-Um that he had seen in the past was a small place that was something between a town and a city. It wasn’t underdeveloped and had a prosperous history, but it wasn’t anything noteworthy and even seemed quite gloomy.
However, now it was no different from a busy city.
Of course, it couldn’t be compared to the big cities in terms of scale. However, the word ‘village’ seemed meaningless when newly built buildings lined the sides of the main streets and the shops overflowed with customers.
‘Did I come to the wrong place?’
So, he asked a passerby.
“Excuse me? Is this Hua-Um?”
“No. It’s not my first time. I came here once about a decade back, I think. It seems so different from then though.”
The passerby answered back in response.
“If it’s your first time back in ten years, then it makes sense that you’re confused. Even those coming back to Hua-Um after one or two years were shocked.”
“Ah… then this is Hua-Um.”
“Yes, it’s strange since it changed so much, but this is the Hua-Um you knew.”
“Thank you. But… Why has the village changed so much?”
“Why? All thanks to Mount Hua.”
“You don’t know Mount Hua? Mount Hua? Mount Hua sect?”
“Ah-no. I know. I know about Mount Hua.”
The man. Wei Soheng nodded quickly.
If you told the people of Hua-Um that you don’t know Mount Hua, they would treat you as if you were inhuman. For the people here, Mount Hua was more than just a sect.
It was their pride and confidence, a family.
“I’m here to visit Mount Hua.”
“Oh? Is that so? You were a guest. Come on then, if you have any questions feel free to ask me, I can answer them.”
As soon as the man heard this man was here to visit Mount Hua, he smiled brightly.
“What did you mean when you said that Hua-Um changed because of Mount Hua?”
“It’s exactly as I said. These days Mount Hua’s influence is piercing the heavens! Haven’t you heard that their reputation is spreading everywhere?”
‘No, because I’m not from around here. But I don’t think he’d like me saying that.’
He couldn’t bring himself to say that to the man in front of him. If he said anything slightly ignorant about Mount Hua, it felt like this man would blow his chin off.
“So recently, more and more people come to visit Mount Hua. As more and more people visit, they end up passing through Hua-Um. As you can see, it is pretty crowded, right?”
“Where people gather, money flows. So, naturally this place changed.”
“… It’s quite a dramatic change.”
“Hahaha. All thanks to Mount Hua. You have to know, right? At the conference with the Southern Edge Sect two years back, Mount Hua smashed those bastards.”
It was a story that no one could avoid knowing even if they wanted to.
Known to have fallen… no, even the memory of the fallen Mount Hua had faded from people’s minds. That dying sect suddenly halted the Southern Edge Sect, which had been gaining momentum in recent years. With such a prestigious sect being humiliated, the news naturally traveled like lightning around the world.
Humans enjoy the misfortunes of others. It was a case of disgrace falling upon a well-known sect, so there was no reason that people wouldn’t talk about it.
Word traveled fast, and the news spread for thousands of miles as everyone discussed what happened to the Southern Edge Sect. Now, even the children playing in the neighborhood knew the story.
There were people who called it the Fallen Dragon Conference because the Southern Edge Sect that had ascended to heaven came crashing to the ground.
“The Southern Edge Sect, not any other sect, but THE Southern Edge Sect. How high has Mount Hua’s reputation soared after that incident? I can’t even fathom how many people have come to Mount Hua since then.
Wei Soheng nodded.
No one understood those words more than himself. After all, he had come here because of the change in Mount Hua’s status.
If the rumors of the conference hadn’t circulated, Wei Soheng would have never thought about coming here.
“It’s just a little unfortunate.”
The man had a slightly annoyed expression.
“It’s been two years since then. Something needs to happen now.”
“Well, a giant doesn’t move so easily. Isn’t there a legend about the Great Bird that rested for a thousand years before traveling thousands of miles in a single flap of its wings? Perhaps our Mount Hua is like that too.”
It was a statement that carried an enormous sense of pride for Mount Hua.
Wei Soheng, who saw that, thought that a lot had changed.
It wasn’t just the appearance that changed.
When he visited this place in the past, it seemed devoid of vitality. But now, the people of Hua-Um are vibrant and full of life.
“If you are planning to visit Mount Hua, find a place to stay. The sun will set soon, and if you start the climb now, you’ll be climbing through the middle of the night. It would be better to start your journey tomorrow morning.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
The elderly man waved his hand and walked away, and Wei Soheng mumbled.
‘It changed so much.’
The village had grown prosperous just because the sect gained a little fame. He started to understand why everyone, whether it be people or sects, was willing to risk their lives for fame.
Wei Soheng raised his head and looked at Mount Hua.
Looking at the transformed village, something became clear. The current Mount Hua is different from the Mount Hua that he knew of.
‘We must somehow seek to cooperate with Mount Hua.’
Wei Soheng looked at Mount Hua with determined eyes.
- Mount Hua will surely help us. Go to Mount Hua and ask for help.
‘I hope my father’s judgment isn’t wrong.’
Wei Soheng bit his lip and quickly headed into the village.
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