Embroidered Uniform Guard (錦衣衛)
The saber of Wei Zhong moved slowly creating a silhouette of haze. I found it hard to follow the movement with my body’s vision because it was a phantom made of Qi flowing around the wooden saber. I’ve never faced someone who used these martial arts, so I flickered my eyes.
‘What is it? Ah…’
I realized at that moment that the distance between he and I was narrowed in no time. There was really no sign, but the distance that was six meters suddenly became much narrower than three meters. This would be the principle of using the big toe to dim the other person’s sense of distance. I swung a dagger at the realization that it would be annoying if I were caught in his footwork.
His wooden saber and my dagger hit each other in the air. The energy like lightning gave rise to an invisible ripple effect. Originally, it would not be easy for a teenager to block the attacking from a First-class expert.
However, anti-elastic force was so powerful that he almost lost his saber. His saber wasn’t broken, but it slightly curved inwards, and his mouth was bursting with blood.
He managed to grab the saber, but his arm was already lifted into the air, and his position was full of loopholes. While stepping back, he kept controlling his balance and breath.
“Oh my god, what an Internal Energy..!”
“Did you attack me with full strength?
He could not answer the question with his head in sweats. He seemed to be watching only at the chance of escaping in the freezing condition. Originally, if he was a general bandit, he would make a bold attempt, but since he was an expert of martial arts, he recognized the powerful Internal Energy contained in my dagger.
“Who are you?”
“You see, it’s a little boy who was passing by.”
I said to him calmly, “Why are you looking for Nangong Huan and Murong Yan?”
“Ugh… Are you out of Gaibang..?”
“No, I am not from Gaibang.”
I protested as he mistook me for a young expert of Gaibang.
“I will not give up Murong Yan!”
He looked around in a hurry as if he would no longer speak to me, then ran away with the broken grip.
I leaped at him the moment he jumped over the fence and waved a dagger around behind him. However, Saber-ghost, Wei Zhong used his snappish tactics in the air and avoided my attack. It was shown that my Internal Energy was strong, but the power and speed were not sufficient.
As I saw him easily dodging my offense, he was a First-class expert. As soon as he landed on the roof of another house, he ran away quickly with the momentum.
I thought I could chase and catch that fellow with my own Lightness Skill. But it wasn’t a good idea to get any closer to him.
‘Would I catch and torture Saber-ghost, Wei Zhong?’
As he was not a robber but a strong martial artist in Moorim, he would come back ten times if I got entangled in a mistake. Compared to my curiosity and necessity, it wasn’t so good to intimidate a First-class expert.
‘Well, this far…’
Standing there, I considered about a brief confrontation with Saber-ghost, Wei Zhong. Overall, it seemed that I overwhelmed him, but it was because he did not know my Internal Energy and went into a casual style-contest.
In reality, his wooden saber worked in harmony with the footwork, and he was in a stage of martial arts that I could not catch up with now.
Yet I was short of martial arts’ depth. If I could have used my Internal Energy more efficiently, I could have caught him just now, but I lost him. I realized that it was time to choose.
The energy of the other experts was in motion.
The energy of four First-class experts!
‘They speed up… Are they all coming to me?’
It was by no means a coincidence that they moved at the same time as if they had promised. Probably, they felt the impact of the Qi that I just clashed with Wei Zhong. The public could not sense the impact of the energy, but they felt as vivid as a drop of cold water on the top of the head, for they were First-class experts.
Though they were not heading straight towards me, they were aware of the confrontation; however, they didn’t know where it was coming from, and they wanted to be wary of the suspicious enemy. Their senses were now as sensitive as wild animals. If I picked a fight with one more person, the rest of them would come running like the wild boar.
That’s not what I wanted …
I didn’t mean to fight Saber-ghost, Wei Zhong, from the beginning. He suddenly became aggressive, but fundamentally it was only a momentary curiosity. I decided not to provoke the other First-class experts anymore, and quietly stepped back into the alley.
Murong Yan was probably the name of Nangong Huan’s fiancée.
What did he mean by not giving up on Murong Yan?
Did Wei Zhong have a crush on Murong Yan?
So, Did he want to compete against Nangong Huan for her?
‘That’s not fair.’
But I knew by intuition that something was strange. If Wei Zhong was moving because of love, his eyes and behavior would have been filled with the desire to look after someone. However, from the first time I saw him in a back alley, he seemed to be rolling up the calculation with a cool face. On top of that, he said, “I will not give up Murong Yan.” It was like greed for “thing.”
After I came out of the alley, I walked back down the street, keeping the power of my Qi down. Originally, it had been difficult to hide my fearful Internal Energy, but now it was easy to hide the energy by the Mysterious Sky God’s Qigong. I realized that it was an excellent choice not only to have a win-win effect but also to adjust the dynamics of my Internal Energy.
I glanced back at the man in purple dress who had slipped by on the street. He was quite handsome and slender, with a woman-like energy hovering around his eyes. Moreover, he was a unique man because he smelled like Yin Qi or cosmetics. Most of all, it was obvious that he was one of the four experts I had felt earlier.
‘He’s a complete parasitic man. Is that guy going after her, too?’
I no longer looked at him but was naturally mixed in with the crowd. Regardless of what happened, my daytime wonder was now volatile. Now that I had my feet soaked in the water, all I could do was take them out.
‘Let’s find out about this later. From now on, I will only think about becoming a member of Blue Dragon Martial Club.’
‘Why did he talk about Gaibang, anyway?’
I was in a bad mood. Before I came back to my lodging, I stopped by a draper’s shop and bought a simple children’s active suit. And I started to rest a little early. I felt good when I washed myself in warm water and stayed in bed comfortably. I did not feel tired because of my massive Internal Energy, and I was mentally stable.
The next day, I woke up and headed towards Blue Dragon Martial Club.
‘How will Blue Dragon Martial Club accept me?’
As usual, there were a pair of gatekeepers standing in front of Blue Dragon Martial Club. Though they were called the gatekeepers, they were the disciples of the second-line. They were called the Bang’s brothers, and Bang Il had once played arm-wrestling with me when I had first stepped into Blue Dragon Martial Club.
I didn’t really feel very good about Bang Il. But when I saw him again after a considerable year, I was more pleased than hurt. In fact, compared to the hardships I had experienced in my previous life, the degree of jealousy against Bang Il was very weak. I spoke to Bang Il on the guard of Blue Dragon Martial Club.
“I’ve come taking the entrance exam for Blue Dragon Martial Club.”
“The entrance exam? It’s funny.”
I opened my mouth at the moment.
To my surprise, I said the same thing when I had first come to Blue Dragon Martial Club, and I got the same answer from Bang Il! Whether I was surprised or not, the words of Bang Il continued to be the same.
“Boy. Are you from Five Big Noble Clans?”
“Then, did you lay the foundation of your Internal Energy from an early age?
I couldn’t bring myself to answer, so I stood there in silence. I had never imagined such a situation would happen. I couldn’t say the same thing without making a single mistake in the past. It seemed like a novel and something significant. It was long before I came to my senses and said.
“Well, let’s just test the Internal Energy of a kid who’s going to be a junior.”
“Take it easy.”
I was not surprised now. When Bang Il was about to lead a long way, I remembered an idea.
‘Let’s do the same answers and actions as before. But I want to know if there is a similar reaction.’
Soon after a brief self-effacing of Bang Il, I developed arm-wrestling.
Of course, I won. I could win with my little finger, but I controlled my strength on purpose.
“Please talk to the master well.”
Bang Il went in and came out.
“You come with me for a moment.”
“Are we going to see the master?”
The development was slightly distorted here.
I could feel the law of my past life at the moment.
‘It’s changed. Instead of taking me to bathe, I am going directly to the master.’
When I first came to Blue Dragon Martial Club, I was led by Bang Il, who couldn’t stand my scruffy appearance here and came out with a warm bath. However, since I didn’t have to be a beggar this time, I did not have to do that.
‘Words and actions could be repeated similarly if there is no problem. But if there is a strong cause, then the future will change.’
This seemed to be somehow important information. I had a hunch that it would be an important clue to my life.
I asked the odd question again.
“Are we going to see the master?”
“Why do you keep asking?”
“I knew I would meet the teacher below …”
“Well, you must have heard about our Blue Dragon Martial Club.”
He walked along with me and said.
“It would be normal for you to see Jin So-Chung, the headteacher, but he went out to see a friend today. The two men have been always busy with the students’ instructions, but now I must take you to the master.”
“What the hell, don’t worry about useless things and just follow me straight.”
The tone of Bang Il was harsh, but it was not malicious or nasty. That’s just the way he was by nature. I knew it best as we spent three years prowling around together.
“Master. A disciple of the second-line, bang Il, brought in an applicant for the entrance examination.”
Long later, Bang and I came in front of the Waryong Hall where Lee Kwang and his family lived. It was a very private space for the master, so the ordinary student could not enter the hall. Only Jin So-Chung, who was a core disciple like a son of Lee Kwang could do that. However, Bang Il and I came in the Waryong Hall because it was a special occasion.
I’ve seen the master less than five times. The middle-aged man with an unlimited transparent gaze, looked rather a scholar. He had had little interest in me and left all the education to Jin So-Chung in the past. Even after three years of living in a close space, I knew very little about Three-Absolute, Lee Kwang. I didn’t know what he was capable of because I saw him when I was so sloppy.
Bang Il opened the door of Waryong Hall and entered. The space was a little wider, and the master was sitting on a chair. There was a library near where he sat and now he looked like he was reading.
The impression of Blue Dragon Martial Club was the same as before. The master who looked at me with a transparent look said, “Bang Il, what was the name of this child called?”
When Bang Il looked at me, I revealed my name.
“My name is Baek Woong.”
“Yeah. Bang Il, you should go away.”
As Bang Il closed the door and went out, the master watched me for a long time without saying a word. Then he said immediately.
“Did you come from White Lotus?”
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