“Yes, sect leader.”
“… look here. Was it Wei Soheng?”
“Yes, Sect leader.”
“Rather than jumping to the main point, why don’t you explain the situation first??”
“Ah. Sorry. I wasn’t thinking straight. The situation…”
Wei Soheng began to explain what happened.
Huayoung Gate1 is a sub-sect of Mount Hua.
Generally, the disciples of a large sect are divided into two categories. The first is the full-time disciples that have decided to live and dedicate their lives to Mount Hua. Those who become full-time disciples receive their names from the sect and are raised within Mount Hua to polish their swords and pursue the Tao.
However, the second category is the temporary disciples. These disciples study and learn from Mount Hua but eventually leave and head out into the world.
A sect founded by such a disciple is called a sub-sect or family sect. Although separate from Mount Hua, these sub-sects are bound to be operated under Mount Hua’s influence.
The sub-sects send a reasonable amount of money to the main sect every year, and in return, the sect leader solves various difficulties that the sub-sect faces. It was a good system as it provided an additional source of income for the main sect, while the sub-sects received more prospective disciples by using the main sect’s name. At times, the main sect would even send some disciples to assist in training the disciples in the sub-sects.
It was said that Mount Hua had hundreds of such sub-sects back in its heyday, but now there were no more than ten left.
Even the remaining sub-sects failed to properly communicate with the main sect.
On the other hand, Huayoung Gate had consistently sent money to Mount Hua.
“It’s not a sect that’s particularly accomplished in the martial arts, but Huayoung Gate has continued to recognize Mount Hua for what we are.”
“Right. That’s the kind of place Huayoung Gate is.”
“The problem started with the opening of a new martial arts training center that was set up across the street called Path’s Edge Training. As soon as the sect established itself as a sub-sect of the Wudang sect, it began to vigorously attract young potential.”
“But because of Huayoung Gate’s influence in the region of Nanyang, there was a lack of response toward the training hall. Unfortunately, this caused them to begin viciously hunting us down.”
“My father, who couldn’t stand their harassment and constant provocations, was defeated and badly injured by the master of the Path’s Edge.”
“O-Oh my god!”
Hyun Young jumped up from his seat.
“A great man like Huayoung Gate’s master was injured!? We need to catch that bastard, chew him up, and spit him out right now….”
Hyun Sang pulled Hyun Young’s sleeve.
Hyun Young, who was forced to sit down, ground his teeth as he seethed in a fit of persistent anger.
“If it ended there, then I wouldn’t have come all this way. However, the Path’s Edge training hall said that they planned to completely drive us out of Nanyang. They’ve even requested assistance from the Wudang sect. So, my father sent me here to meet with the sect leader and ask for help.”
After saying that, Wei Soheng dropped to the floor and bowed down.
“Sect leader! Please help us! If Mount Hua doesn’t help, then Huayoung Gate will have to lower its signboard and cease to be.”
Hyun Jong heard all of it and sighed.
“So, the Path’s Edge training hall is affiliated with the Wudang sect?”
“Yes, sect leader.”
“Haaa. How can they do that to a fellow sect that seeks the path of dao…?”
Hyun Young snorted at Hyun Jong’s sigh.
“What nonsense is that! What sort of place is the Wudang sect? It’s the richest sect in the world. You can’t believe that the money in their pockets came from selling incense or their own purses? They are the most poisonous group one can find when it comes to expanding their power.”
Hyun Jong nodded.
Clearly, this wasn’t something that could be overlooked.
The issue of their sub-sect being attacked by the Wudang was a secondary concern.
‘Now is the time for Mount Hua to look outside.’
The number of sub-sects one has is an indication of how strong the main sect is. A strong sect has many, while a weak sect has few.
If Mount Hua wants to regain its former glory, it can no longer work alone. Soon, there would be second-class disciples who wished to descend and leave the mountain. If they started a sub-sect, shouldn’t Mount Hua be supportive?
This wasn’t a simple task. Furthermore, this was a problem that would determine how the world viewed Mount Hua.
As Hyun Jong fell into thought, words began to flow from those around him.
“Shouldn’t we help?”
“It isn’t easy to help. After all, there’s an unwritten rule that only the main sect’s younger generations can get involved in fights between sub-sects, right?”
There have often been cases of children quarreling, escalating into fights among the adults. What began as a problem for a sub-sect quickly turned into a war between the main sects. As a result, the Kangho2 came to an implicit agreement that matters involving sub-sects should never escalate beyond the main sect sending second-class disciples to prevent any unnecessary damage.
This also served as a way to send children into the world to gain experience, rather than the older generation that has already completed their paths.
“If we send assistance, then it would be right to send the second-class disciples. How does sending the Baek disciples sound?”
It was then.
Wei Soheng, who was listening to the conversation, hesitantly opened his mouth.
“Can’t you send the third-class disciples?”
“My father made an earnest request. I need to bring Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon, Chung Myung… maybe disciple Chung Myung is the only one….”
Hyun Jong’s face turned pale.
“That… well, you want to take Chung Myung?”
“I would like to, if possible.”
“Um. Right. Well… that’s good. Uh… yeah.”
The elders said it was fine, but their faces seemed to say it was anything but fine.
“Okay. For now, I understand the situation. There’s something we need to discuss, so please wait outside for a moment.”
“Yes, sect leader.”
Un Geom took Wei Soheng outside, and Hyun Jong spoke with a seriously stiff face.
“What do we do?”
“It’s nothing to worry about!”
Hyun Young yelled.
“This is the Huayoung Gate! The same Huayoung Gate that sent us money during our darkest hour when we struggled to make a living and nearly died! No matter what the situation is, grace is grace! We need to release the children and go bite those bastards!”
“… we aren’t dogs. Why would we bite them?”
“Is there anything worse than a dog?”
That’s the problem.
That’s the very problem!
Hyun Sang spoke with a serious face.
“Sect leader sahyung. This isn’t a matter that we can casually jump into. Isn’t our opponent the Wudang sect?”
“Wudang is a tough opponent. No matter how far removed from the main sect their sub-sect’s problems may be, the Wudang sect is known to always send their best to sort the issues out. You never know how things may turn out.”
When you think about it, such an unwritten rule was established because conflicts between sub-sects often spread further and escalated.
“I feel bad for the Huayoung Gate, but there needs to be another way to help them. I want to avoid sending our disciples to collide with them.”
It was a bit harsh, but it wasn’t like Hyun Sang wanted Huayoung Gate to suffer. No sect in the world would want to clash with the Wudang sect.
Where is Wudang?
Wasn’t it the leader of the north, known for their incredible strength?
Hyun Jong looked at Un Am.
“What do you think?”
Un Am took a deep breath and began to speak.
“There are two things to think about. The first is whether now is the right time for our sect to resume external activities. Whatever our opinion is, if Mount Hua sends disciples to confront the Wudang sect, then the rest of the world will believe that we’ve resumed our foreign activities.”
“The second question is whether our children will be able to handle the disciples of Wudang.”
Hyun Sang didn’t think it was a huge issue, and Un Am said,
“Actually, there is a third.”
“Can we really release him?”
Sympathy and anxiety manifested themselves on everyone’s faces in unison.
“Sect leader. Actually, what that child said earlier is correct. If we need to send someone, we have no choice but to send Chung Myung. Right?”
“But can we let him enter the Kangho? What’s more, against Wudang?”
Hyun Jong scratched his head in disbelief. His neatly combed hair was in a mess.
Two years was not a short time.
At this point, everyone fully understood what sort of person Chung Myung is. Choosing to send him down the mountain was a great burden on all of them.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“What do you think?”
Un Geom smiled slightly.
“There is nothing to think about. Send him.”
“… send him?”
“Is there a reason not to let him go? Chung Myung will have to enter the Kangho someday. Delaying this won’t solve anything. If he could become a master and walk the path of Dao in a couple months, then I would also be opposed to it. But don’t we all know that’s an undesirable dream?”
“Then we should let him go. It’s better to set sail early.”
Hyun Jong laughed.
What a wise answer.
Hyun Jong closed his eyes for a moment and then nodded as he spoke.
“Call for Yoon Jong.”
Yoon Jong soon entered together with Wei Soheng, who was outside and paid his respects to the sect leader.
“I was called?”
“What is Chung Myung doing now?”
“He recently entered closed-door training and hasn’t come out yet.”
“How much longer will he be?”
“It may be close to being done.”
“Hmm. I see.”
Hyun Jong’s gaze alternated between Yoon Jong and Wei Soheng.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“It seems like Chung Myung is needed, so let’s call his training to an end and have him come out.”
“On the way, you will guide the guest from Huayoung Gate. Chung Myung will probably have to travel a long way with them, so make sure to introduce them appropriately.”
Yoon Jong flinched.
“… you said it was a long way?”
“So, Chung Myung will be going a long way out?”
A slightly irreverent light flickered in Yoon Jong’s eyes.
If that light could be translated into words, it would say
‘Are you all crazy?’
But no matter how shocked he was, he couldn’t speak those words out loud.
“… I understand.”
Yoon Jong, who couldn’t speak his true thoughts, made his intentions clear by speaking in a different tone.
“Then, let’s go.”
“Ah… ah, yes!”
Wei Soheng followed Yoon Jong. Hyun Jong let out a low sigh as he watched Yoon Jong leave.
‘I don’t know if this is good.’
But this was a sign.
Wei Soheng glanced at Yoon Jong walking next to him.
‘He seems to be the same age as me.’
‘Or maybe a couple years younger.’
But just because they were similar in age didn’t mean that their skills were equivalent. The atmosphere around Yoon Jong was like a lake.
Quiet and deep, like being submerged in a lake.
It made Wei Soheng realize that Mount Hua was genuinely superior. This was the difference between a disciple of the main sect and one from a sub-sect. Wei Soheng was in a state of admiration for this disciple, who was even younger than himself.
“What is it?”
“What kind of person is Mr. Chung Myung?”
Yoon Jong’s eyes slightly trembled when he heard this question.
In his excitement to know more, Wei Soheng didn’t seem to notice and continued.
“Everyone knows the name of Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon, Chung Myung. But, after the Fallen Dragon Confere—I mean, after the Mount Hua–Southern Edge Sect conference, there hasn’t been any word about him. So, everyone wonders about what kind of person Chung Myung could be… some say that he’s a great person….”
“…. A great person?”
“Is that what others think?”
“Yes. Right! What kind of person is Mr. Chung Myung?”
“I think it would be better for you to experience it yourself, rather than hear it from me.”
Yoon Jong, who was walking ahead, thought to himself.
‘Great person, my ass! He’s a bastard! If that guy is a great person, then I’m Confucius.’
Wei Soheng seemed to hear Yoon Jong mumbling to himself, but…
‘I must have misheard him just now.’
It was difficult to think that such an austere-looking disciple could say such a thing.
After leaving the sect and climbing the mountain for a long time, the two arrived at a large cliff. It seemed like a bloody cliff.
“This is Plum Blossom Peak. It’s a place we go in order to isolate ourselves from human resources, train, and seek enlightenment.”
“Disciple Chung Myung is seeking enlightenment?”
“… you can think that.”
Yoon Jong, who was about to say something else, shook his head.
‘He has to experience it to understand.’
“Wait for a moment, I will call Chung Myung.”
“Ah, of course!”
Yoon Jong left Wei Soheng and went forward. He stood in front of a huge cave that was blocked by a massive boulder, and then… let out a deep sigh.
“… Chung Myung.”
A whisper so quiet that a mosquito’s buzzing would drown it out.
If someone could hear such a tiny whisper from inside that cave, rather than a person, wouldn’t that be a ghost?
While Wei Soheng wondered what the hell Yoon Jong was doing, Yoon Jong whispered again.
Finally, Yoon Jong quickly turned around and ran back to Wei Soheng.
“It seems like Chung Myung is deeply engrossed in his training and can’t hear me, so we might not see him today.”
‘How could anyone hear your whispering from inside that cave?’
“Ah, no disciple.”
Yoon Jong put his index finger on his lips.
“This is good for both of us. Let’s just pretend we don’t know anything about this. I’m not doing this for me, I’m—.”
It was at that moment.
An explosive sound roared out as if the sky was collapsing. The boulder blocking that huge cave exploded and shattered everywhere.
Wei Soheng panicked, but Yoon Jong just covered his face with both hands.
The entire area was filled with dust.
Wei Soheng looked at the scene around him with a blank face.
A vaguely human silhouette began to emerge from the cloud of dust.
Hearing the daunting footsteps approaching, Wei Soheng had a gut feeling.
‘That man is Mount Hua’s Divine Dragon!’
One of the world’s most prominent young geniuses, who defeated ten of the Southern Edge Sect’s second-class disciples single-handedly! His reputation may be even greater than Mount Hua’s.
The silhouette in the dust became clearer and more human as the form stepped closer. Leaving the dust cloud behind, Chung Myung walked out like a hero from legends before looking at Wei Soheng.
‘It feels overwhelming.’
‘This man is the—’
It was then.
“Ah! Shit! I almost died in that place! This is why I didn’t want to do the closed door training! I cannot! I cannot eat and live off those pills! I cannot! I will not! Change the training!”
‘I guess it’s not him after all.’
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