Return of Mount Hua Sect (Novel) Chapter 1643


Chapter 1643. So, Are You Happy? (2)

“... Am I happy?”

His blood froze.

Despite promising himself not to retreat regardless of Jang Ilso's reaction, and despite being sure that Jang Ilso would never show any real hostility towards him, those few words made his blood freeze and his heart pound.

"Gakmyung-ah."

It was something he had heard countless times. It was a voice he had heard for a long time. Jang Ilso had been calling the name Ho Gakmyung for a long time.

But that voice was now clearly different from what he had heard before. At least Ho Gakmyung could perceive it more clearly than anyone else.

“What do you mean by that?”

Jang Ilso's eyes began to stare intently at Ho Gakmyung.

However, Ho Gakmyung did not back down easily.

“That’s all it means. I’m asking if you are happy.”

“Ho Gakmyung!”

Jang Ilso's voice rose a little.

Of course, it was just a little louder, but the meaning was not small. The atmosphere tensed with sudden tension.

Jang Ilso, who was staring at Ho Gakmyung, covered his face with one hand. His long fingers gripped his own face nervously.

“Did you come to see me so early just to tell me something that means nothing?”

“Means nothing?”

As Ho Gakmyung asked calmly, Jang Ilso's eyes visible between his fingers shone like a fierce wolf.

“Gakmyung-ah...”

“I don’t know if those things are not important to you, but at least to me, they are very important.”

“Hahaha…”

Jang Ilso laughed as if it was meaningless.

“You mean it’s more important to you if I’m happy than how things are and the urgency of the situation?”

“Yes.”

It was a resolute answer that left no room even for threading a needle, let alone for discussion. Jang Ilso’s eyes naturally narrowed.

“Well... Is that the conclusion you’ve come to with that head of yours?”

“...”

“Eh? Gakmyung-ah? Answer me. Is that the conclusion you’ve reached with a cool head? I’m asking if your conclusion is that I should stop enduring this pressure and become a pig chasing solitary happiness. Is that it?”

The faint emotion in Jang Ilso's eyes now was not contempt.

But there was clearly a hint of disappointment.

Disappointment...

The eyes that were once full of unwavering confidence were now filled with disappointment. This whole situation was probably caused by Ho Gakmyung himself.

But Ho Gakmyung did not want to give up.

“You mentioned pressure?”

“...”

“When I met you, Ryeonju-nim told me he was going through hell.”

Jang Ilso nodded slightly.

“It’s true. It was a very difficult path, comparable to hell. But I decided to serve Ryeonju-nim even knowing it would be like that. However... Do you remember what I said back then?”

“About me needing to relax?”

“Yes and no. I knew that being with Ryeonju-nim would probably be hell, but at least you would be having fun.”

Jang Ilso remained silent. Ho Gakmyung nervously bit his lower lip.

“The reason I told that to Ryeonju-nim back then wasn’t because I was the one thinking about having fun. It was because Ryeonju-nim was enjoying this. Back then, Ryeonju-nim was the one who could laugh and mock the enemy even in the middle of hell. But is that really the current Ryeonju-nim?”

Jang Ilso looked at Ho Gakmyung without answering. No, maybe it wasn't that he didn’t answer, but that he couldn’t. He probably already knew.

He probably already knew.

It was impossible for someone of Jang Ilso’s caliber not to understand what Ho Gakmyung was implying. If he hadn’t realized what it meant from the beginning, he wouldn’t have reacted so strongly.

“So?”

The white teeth were visible between Jang Ilso's twisted lips. Sharp and ruthless, as if they were about to grab someone’s nape and bite.

“What if I don’t find this fun? What do you want me to do? Are you saying I should at least enjoy this situation? Or should I just let things go here and have a drink? Eh?”

A small sigh escaped Ho Gakmyung’s mouth.

He finally understood clearly from this conversation.

That scene. The scene from that day.

Jang Ilso couldn’t escape from the scene that even Ho Gakmyung feared to see again in his dreams.

“If there’s an enemy, we fight.”

“...”

“If you can’t win with skills, you use a plan. Even if the plan doesn’t work, you use poison, set terrible traps, take hostages, and lick the enemy's toes to make them drop their guard.”

Jang Ilso’s face grew stiff and cold.

“That’s the Paegun way I know.”

“...”

“One who doesn’t look for ways to escape just because they can’t win, but one who will do anything to win even if it’s by stealthy means, and if that doesn’t work either, you just laugh and admit defeat. That’s Paegun!”

“Ho Gakmyung!”

A scream finally came out of Jang Ilso’s mouth. Ho Gakmyung shouted back clearly but desperately.

“What exactly did you see that made you give up the fight? Paegun! Are you telling me that Jang Ilso lost the will to fight and ran away?”

Crack!

The liquor bottle in Jang Ilso's hand shattered and fell to the ground in pieces. Alcohol flowed over his hands. The aroma spread, incompatible with the situation.

There was a brief silence.

The silence seemed to separate the two. Jang Ilso let out a loud voice, and it was so cruel it seemed cold.

“... You talk too much.”

Jang Ilso sighed briefly as he wiped the alcohol from his hands.

“What you see with your eyes and what I see with my eyes are different.”

“Ryeonju-nim.”

“If you could feel what I feel, you wouldn’t be able to tell me this so easily right now. Do you understand what I mean?”

“Is that so?”

There was a faint light in Ho Gakmyung’s eyes.

Jang Ilso knew. What was the faint emotion in those eyes? A feeling not very different from how he felt when he was young.

“In that case, it means that until now, Ryeonju-nim has only antagonized people he can face.”

Jang Ilso, who was wiping his hands, suddenly stopped moving.

Those snake-like venomous eyes stared at Ho Gakmyung.

“What did you just say?”

“Did I say something wrong?”

“Gakmyung-ah.”

Jang Ilso’s expression changed.

“There are limits that must be kept between people. There is a line that cannot be crossed no matter how close one is to another.”

“No. It wasn’t me who crossed that line. It was you who crossed it, Ryeonju-nim.”

The corners of Jang Ilso’s mouth curved. That genuine smile was frightening.

“Okay. Go ahead. Let’s see how far you can go.”

“Is this the Paegun way of surrendering to an enemy you can’t defeat?”

“No, it’s not. Finding the way is my way. But what is the right thing to do if I can’t find the way? Should I insist on using a path that clearly won’t work and end up doomed? I’m going to die anyway, so should I die sooner?”

“Is there really no other way?”

“...”

“The Paegun way I know isn’t like that. If the chance of winning is only 1 in 100, you have to find a way to make that 1 in 100 chance work for you. That is the way of Myriad Man Manor, the Paegun way, and also the Jang Ilso way.”

“You who are...!”

“Join those bastards from the Righteous Faction.”

Jang Ilso, who tried to protest, trembled and froze.

Silence fell between the two again. After a long silence, Jang Ilso opened his mouth.

“A moment ago... what did you say?”

“To join those bastards from the Righteous Faction.”

“... Hah... Hahaha.”

A hollow laugh escaped Jang Ilso’s mouth.

“Do you think what you’re saying makes sense?”

“Of course, it’s impossible to join them if there’s no common enemy. However, if there is a common enemy, it’s possible. If they also understand the existence of 'HIM,' they will take Ryeonju-nim’s hand. That’s a fact proven by history.”

Jang Ilso closed his mouth.

“If the chance of winning in a fight is low, increase the chance of winning. If that is Jang Ilso’s method, then joining forces with them is the safest way to increase the odds of winning. So is there any reason not to consider it?”

As Ho Gakmyung’s words continued, Jang Ilso’s eyes narrowed.

Ho Gakmyung’s eyes seemed to narrow.

It wasn’t unusual for Jang Ilso to show disapproval. After all, he was a person who mocked everything.

But the disapproval shown by Jang Ilso now was more like disgust than hatred.

A feeling of physiological aversion, like people’s fear of snakes or disgust at insects. That was the kind of aversion Jang Ilso was showing now.

After a while, Jang Ilso pressed his temples and shook his head.

“This doesn’t make sense.”

“Ryeonju-nim.”

“Gakmyung-ah. Gakmyung-ah. You said you had a dream out of nowhere, and I wondered what you would say.”

Jang Ilso laughed.

“Okay. You’re probably right. That could be a way. But Gakmyung-ah. Even after seeing them like this, don’t you know them? Do you think those pigs would trust me in a situation like this?”

“...”

“No, let’s say they believe it. Let’s say they trust me. Then, do you think they will join me?”

This time it was Ho Gakmyung’s turn to remain silent.

“Don’t you know very well that it’s impossible?”

Jang Ilso laughed sarcastically.

“Sometimes hatred overcomes common sense. The world is full of people who will kill others even if it means getting themselves killed. However... are they really willing to join me to survive?”

“They aren’t fools either.”

“The military strategy is in the books. But humans don’t live in books.”

“...”

“There are many people there who lost their families and sect members by my hand. But will they support me for a foolish word like ‘truth’?”

Jang Ilso’s face turned cruel.

“That’s not even funny. Colleagues to be wary of because you never know when they’ll stab you in the back are worse than a determined enemy. If an equal partner isn’t trustworthy, it’s all in vain. Why don’t you understand?”

“It sounds strange.”

“... What is strange?”

“From what Ryeonju-nim just said, it seems like you would never ally with a Righteous Sect, but you already did, didn’t you?”

“...”

“Back then, you fought shoulder to shoulder with them in Hangzhou, so why can’t you adopt the same approach now? Is it because the circumstances have changed since then? Or...”

Jang Ilso’s face grew rigid.

Unconsciously, Ho Gakmyung was smiling coldly at that moment.

“Have you become a different person than you used to be?”

Jang Ilso stood up as if he had heard something intolerable. But Ho Gakmyung did not back down either.

“Try saying it again.”

“I’m asking if Ryeonju-nim has changed.”

“You...”

The bright blue eyes of Jang Ilso and the sharp eyes of Ho Gakmyung clashed.

This was an unprecedented spectacle. A "confrontation" like never before.

The steps of the two men who had always headed in the same direction before were now slightly, steadily, moving in the opposite direction.

---

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