Return of Mount Hua Sect (Novel) Chapter 1644


Chapter 1644. Are You Happy? (3)

The silence lasted a long time.

The first to step back was none other than Jang Ilso.

Sighing, Jang Ilso sat back down and waved his hand.

"Let’s stop, Gakmyung-ah. I don’t know why I have to argue so much with you."

Ho Gakmyung looked at Jang Ilso without replying.

"You're right. It’s true that I lost my composure a bit, and it's also true that I rushed too much. But that doesn't mean I don't have plans."

There was a deep weariness on Jang Ilso's face.

"The best way to increase our chances is not to fixate on something that can't work. It would be best to trample them and grease them up as soon as possible."

"....."

"Then, don’t talk to me as if I’ve given up on everything."

"...Is that true?"

"Don’t you believe it?"

Jang Ilso asked again and looked directly at Ho Gakmyung with crescent moon eyes that curved gently.

Ho Gakmyung closed his eyes.

His attitude was calm. Jang Ilso must have regained some of his lost leisure.

But Jang Ilso's words now were nothing more than a subtle rejection. As it was impossible for Ho Gakmyung not to notice this, it was hard to resist the feeling of despair that overtook him.

"...If that's what you want, of course, I will fulfill your wishes."

Ho Gakmyung spoke slowly and, after a while, opened his mouth again.

"But, can I ask you one more thing, Ryeonju-nim?"

Jang Ilso paused.

Normally, he would respond by saying: "You don't have to ask like that. Ask whenever you want."

However, this time the words did not come out easily.

"Do you understand what I mean, Ryeonju-nim?"

As expected, Jang Ilso couldn’t answer the question.

It was a question that others might find random. They would probably laugh at it and ignore it.

However, Jang Ilso remained silent as if he had been stabbed right in the heart.

"...The reason why I ask you if you are happy is because that was our original goal... No, it's Ryeonju-nim's goal, and what you want to achieve."

Ho Gakmyung's voice gradually became calmer.

"Ryeonju-nim, do you still remember the Imperial Preceptor?"

"..... Yes. I remember."

"I always think about it even after taking my revenge thanks to Ryeonju-nim’s mercy. Because I couldn’t understand it at all. Why would someone who already has everything and doesn’t even have time to enjoy it, bother to inflict hatred by trampling on a place as simple as my family? Why would someone who was once so great do something so stupid?"

"....."

"I couldn't understand it at that time, but over time I began to understand."

"...You managed... to understand it?"

"Yes."

"Really?"

Ho Gakmyung nodded silently. A look of curiosity crossed Jang Ilso's face.

"Fine. What did you understand? Why did that pig, with all his wealth, decide to trample on your family? Is there any other reason besides being blinded by greed?"

".....There isn’t."

"Hmm?"

Ho Gakmyung sighed for a moment and shook his head.

"There was no reason for it in the first place. No, it wasn't even necessary."

Jang Ilso's expression hardened.

"At some point, wealth stops being a means to accumulate possessions and becomes an end in itself. Even if it isn't used until the end of his life, and the treasure only rots in his hands, he still wants to accumulate as much as possible."

"....."

"It doesn't matter who the opponent is, as long as he finds wealth in a place, he will kill and take the treasure. That... is what I understood."

After observing Ho Gakmyung for a long time, Jang Ilso opened his mouth.

"So what you mean is...."

The mouth that had been open closed again. But it only took a little time, and the words finally came out of Jang Ilso's lips.

"...Are you saying that now I am the same as that pig?"

The night breeze entering through the crack of the door flowed coolly between the two. Ho Gakmyung gently rubbed his cold fingertips and exhaled briefly.

"I didn't say that. I was just curious."

"What?"

"What do Ryeonju-nim's words about putting Kangho under your feet before everything loses meaning mean? Does it mean there is something to achieve, or that despite the lack of meaning, obtaining Kangho itself has meaning for Ryeonju-nim?"

"....."

"Yes. That's all. Then...."

After a moment of silence, Ho Gakmyung made a deep bow.

"I'm going to leave."

"....."

"Go to sleep immediately. No matter how indifferent you are, your mental strength has a limit."

Ho Gakmyung turned around and headed for the door. Just then, Jang Ilso called Ho Gakmyung.

"Gakmyung-ah."

Ho Gakmyung stopped walking. Unlike usual, he did not turn around completely. The silent Jang Ilso stared at Ho Gakmyung's back, struggling to open his reluctant lips.

"In that case, what will you do?"

"....."

"If I am also just a moth attracted to the flame called Kangho, if I am a stupid bastard approaching a meaningless fire and burning myself... What would you do? Will you criticize and reproach me? If not, will you spit on me and abandon me because I have changed?"

After finishing those words, Ho Gakmyung turned around. Then, with his always calm eyes, he looked at Jang Ilso. Seeing the deep dark shadows on his unadorned face, Ho Gakmyung said.

"That day."

"....."

"Since Ryeonju-nim granted my insignificant request, I never imagined that I would leave you."

"....."

"If the time comes when Ryeonju-nim is abandoned by everything in the world and struggles in the worst possible place.... I will definitely be the last person by your side."

That was enough of an answer. However, Ho Gakmyung added more words.

"Because I already decided that from the beginning."

"....."

"Now rest."

After bowing deeply, Ho Gakmyung turned around and left the room.

Tuk.

Jang Ilso stared at the door that Ho Gakmyung had closed with empty eyes, reflexively reaching for the bottle of alcohol.

However, all he touched were the shattered fragments of the bottle and the spilled alcohol running down his fingertips.

"Haha."

A mocking laugh escaped his withered lips.

"Ha..."

But even that laugh could not last forever. He picked up the broken bottle and poured out the liquor. Sharp pieces of porcelain pierced his hands and thick blood mixed with the clear alcohol.

As if completely unaware of the pain, Jang Ilso slowly turned his gaze to the side.

His face was faintly reflected in the mirror. His face, which had always shone with luxurious adornments and makeup that ranged from garish to grotesque, was no longer visible. All that could be seen was the face of a man who seemed about to break.

Cracked lips, dark shadows under his eyes, and a nervous expression.

Finally, he threw the bottle he was holding against his reflection. With a crash, the fragments of the mirror fell to the floor.

"Haha. He wasn't joking...."

Even when he met Ho Gakmyung in the past, Jang Ilso was still not satisfied with his life back then. He tried to grasp something bigger and more with his fingers.

What is the difference between Jang Ilso then and now?

Was life as a moth so bad?

Even if he ended up burning both wings and falling into the roaring flames, wasn't it much better than living as a pig busy eating dung and avoiding the fire?

That's what he believed. At least, that's what he believed.

But, joining them to survive?

Jang Ilso covered his mouth. Just thinking about it made his stomach churn. Just thinking about fighting alongside them in a row made his organs and muscles twist.

In his mind, he knew it could also be a way. However, his body rejected it. No, perhaps his soul rejected it.

Uncontrollable hostility and anger.

Shaolin was destroyed. Although with his own hands he had annihilated many of the arrogant ones from the Righteous Faction... That dark hatred, almost like a smoldering grudge, did not easily extinguish.

On the contrary, the more he faced them, the stronger the fire burned.

"Hahaha! Hahahaha. Gakmyung-ah, Gakmyung-ah."

Ho Gakmyung's words were true. However, he was wrong.

The way to survive for Jang Ilso was by any means necessary. The way to win for Jang Ilso was to throw away everything that could be thrown away.

But, what do "survival" and "victory" mean if Jang Ilso doesn't achieve them as Jang Ilso?

By being with them to survive, Jang Ilso was no different from the person he hated the most. Why didn't Ho Gakmyung realize that?

"Gakmyung-ah....."

Laughing, Jang Ilso slowly sat in his chair. He leaned his head back and looked at the ceiling, with a dark void in his eyes.

"Why?"

His eyes slowly closed. The look in Ho Gakmyung's eyes that he saw a moment ago flashed like a painting etched in his mind.

A faint disappointment,

 a strange distrust, and an anger that seemed to gradually heat up.

The eyes that seemed to be boiling with that small mixture of emotions made Jang Ilso's body fall like wet cotton.

He had a strange sense of déjà vu. Although it couldn't be, the look in those eyes that seemed as if he had seen them made Jang Ilso's fingertips tremble.

'Gakmyung-ah.....'

Nothing had changed. He hadn't changed anything.

If there was something that needed to be won, he would definitely win it. He would never do the foolishness of giving up what he could get in the present for an uncertain future.

A small lamp swayed helplessly next to Jang Ilso's faint breath.

* * *

"Gunsa." (This is Ho Gakmyung's title in the Evil Tyrant Alliance, meaning 'Commander')

When people greeted him, Ho Gakmyung merely ignored them in a manner that seemed like a cold wind.

The expressions of the people who greeted him changed slightly, but there was nothing that caught Ho Gakmyung's attention.

'Ryeonju-nim.'

Ho Gakmyung unconsciously bit his lip.

-Hahahaha. That expression was quite interesting to see. There’s no need to be sad. Dying like this also has its charm, right?

Those were Jang Ilso's words when he was in a crisis situation.

The Jang Ilso he knew was always relaxed. Even in life-threatening situations, he laughed. He was also someone who never gave up even when he felt he had no way out.

And..... And that was something that would never change.

However, if Ho Gakmyung's eyes saw that Jang Ilso was different from the past, what happened?

Is the future that Jang Ilso faces so harsh? To the point where Jang Ilso cannot defend himself?

No, that’s not possible. That's not possible.

Even if the sky falls, Jang Ilso will laugh with relief. He wouldn't crumble even in the midst of despair.

Then, why?

"Why?"

Ho Gakmyung finally murmured out loud as if in pain.

Nothing had changed.

Even if Jang Ilso did something incomprehensible, Ho Gakmyung would do everything possible to help him. Even if it meant throwing his life away.

There is not a single lie in these words.

If Jang Ilso fell into hell, Ho Gakmyung would still be by his side.

However, Ho Gakmyung hoped that Jang Ilso could laugh even in hell. It’s better to laugh in hell than to lament in heaven. Because that was the way of the Jang Ilso he knew.

Tck.

Biting his lip until it bled, Ho Gakmyung's gaze hardened.

Now it was clear. He understood it.

"This is different. Or rather, it is something different."

Even if they looked at the same place, what Ho Gakmyung wanted to achieve and what Jang Ilso wanted to achieve were different things.

Then.....

Wiping the blood from the corner of his lips with his thumb, Ho Gakmyung immediately headed to his office. Before the cold wind disappeared under the rising sun.

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