Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 133

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༺ Don’t Touch Him (2) ༻
  Around the time we arrived at the lodge in Hanam, it had become dinner time already. 
  ‘Bacheonmaru, huh.’
  A single glance from the outside was enough for me to realize that it was a gigantic building.
  There was a good chance that this was the largest lodge in this area. 
  ‘The Murim Alliance really went out of their way.’
  They also provided me with a lodge back when I went to the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament in my past life. 
  However, they usually provided lodges based on the reputation of one’s clan, so there were some instances where people had to pay for their own place to stay. 
  Of course, Gu Clan always received good rooms to stay in, as my clan was not one to be looked down upon. 
  In front of the building, a person, who seemed to belong to the Murim Alliance, stood while checking in the young prodigies. 
  “You may enter.”
  However, the man let Tang Soyeol and Namgung Bi-ah in right away, as if they didn’t need to be checked in the first place. 
  I’d have to assume it was because of the unique appearance associated with their respective clans and the symbols embroidered onto their attire.
  After all, the four noble clans held their exalted status for a reason. 
  “Gu Yangcheon of Shanxi’s Gu Clan… You are all checked in. You may enter.”
  Despite letting me in, I felt him stare at me strangely. 
  Unlike how he stared at Tang Soyeol and Namgung Bi-ah with dirty eyes, he stared at me peculiarly. 
  「Is it because you look that weird?」
  ‘…I think it’s more likely because a son of Gu Clan came here.’
  It was probably because I was the son of the Tiger Warrior and the brother of the Sword Phoenix.
  I also showed him my recommendation letter written by the Dishonored Venerable, a document I’d acquired through the second elder, but he didn’t seem to check it.
  It was probably because I already had an invitation letter.
  ‘That’s gonna become a problem later, though.’
  It would be nice if they didn’t check it till the end, but…
  Even if Murim Alliance did a shitty job, they would check the recommendation letter later for sure. 
  This precaution was warranted, as the realm not only housed many maniacs with great strengths, but there were also those who would erupt like flames if they didn’t accomplish in spreading their names. 
  “You may use the fourth room on the Grand Silver Floor.”
  With the staff’s guidance, I headed to the room I’d be staying in.
  I was able to see that the quality of the rooms improved as I went up more floors. 
  I’d assume that the two young women who had entered before me probably went to the top floor. 
  ‘If it’s Silver, it is not bad at all.’
  I was content as long as I had a place to sleep and I would’ve honestly been happier if I got a room on a lower floor, given its proximity to the dining area.
  Gu Jeolyub, who came with me, had to show his recommendation letter, as he didn’t have an invitation letter.
  When they saw that my father was the one who wrote him the recommendation letter, it became comical to see how the man kept glancing at me and Gu Jeolyub, back and forth.
  “We’ll be unpacking now.”
  “Thanks, I’ll leave it to you.”
  Hongwa and Wi Seol-Ah began to unpack as soon as they came into the room.
  While they were doing so, I took the time to go downstairs and look around.
  Even though the tournament was a week away, it didn’t seem like I was the only one who came early, as others had also come ahead of schedule. 
  Among the people, there was a uniform that caught my eye.
  They were young men with rough-looking expressions, wearing dark yellow uniforms. 
  They seemed like they were from the Hwangbo Clan. 
  They were the first people I saw in this life who weren’t from any of the four noble clans.
  ‘Now that I think of it, how strange is that?’
  Since there were so many people from the noblest of clans around me, I couldn’t get to see anyone from other clans. 
  “Who is it?”
  Who was the young prodigy from Hwangbo Clan?
  I started to think.
  They probably did have one prodigy. After all, although the Hwangbo Clan was not among the four noble clans, they were still certainly ranked fairly high. 
  Not long after, I was able to think of someone.
  “Was the Silent Fist from that clan?” 
  The new and outstanding expert martial artist that would be called the Silent Fist in the future. This was a person who slaughtered many demonic humans with their fist and spread their name at a young age. 
  In contrast to the person’s endless hate and rage against demonic humans, their fist was quiet instead of excessive, hence why they were called the Silent Fist. 
  ‘Though he ended up becoming a demonic human.’
  I remembered that person because they were under my command. 
  Was Hwang Bosun their name?
  ‘I don’t see that person amongst those guys, though.’
  I didn’t know much about their background, but I did remember that they were from a branch clan.
  I guess I could say this was fortunate.
  Meeting the same individuals from my previous life wasn’t always advantageous for me. 
  “Young Master! We have finished unpacking!” 
  I turned around after I heard Wi Seol-Ah’s shout from the room.
  “How long do you think it’ll take for you to unpack your stuff?”
  I asked Hongwa.
  “Hmm… I don’t think it would even take 15 minutes as we don’t have that many things to unpack.”
  “Then come down after you’re done, let’s eat together.”
  “Oh… um.”
  I looked at Hongwa since she started to smile awkwardly. 
  “If we were to join you at the table, then it might attract some unwanted attention towards the Young Master. So we will just- “
  “After all this time?”
  “You are starting to care about such a thing now? It’s just having a meal together.” 
  It was a place where many noble clans gathered.
  And thanks to the staff visibly treating us as one of the noble clans, there may indeed be people staring at us. 
  It might not be perceived well by others for me, the Young Master, to dine with the servants, but…
  “I’ll take care of it, so don’t worry.”
  In the end, Honghwa nodded after hearing my words. 
  From the servants’ perspective, I guess it might make them uncomfortable. 
  And to be honest, ever since my resurrection, my behavior to the servants was closer to my own selfish stubbornness than anything. 
  「So you are admitting that your actions were somewhat self-centered.」
  ‘Yes. That would be right.’
  「It is a sin when you yourself know that you are being selfish.」
  ‘I know that as well.’
  Elder Shin didn’t continue after hearing my response. 
  His sudden silence seemed to imply that he wasn’t pleased, but I should just proceed as I saw fit. 
  After Hongwa had left, I opened all the windows in my room. 
  While letting the fresh air in, I watched the snow outside. 
  Even with all the snow covering the surroundings, the streets remained bright.
  This place prided itself on being the safest, hence the extensive street lighting everywhere. 
  “Safest place, my ass.”
  Since I was aware of its impending destruction in just a few years, I found such a title almost comical. 
  “I want some alcohol.”
  I craved it rather badly today.
  I may not have drank a lot in my past life, but I did enjoy doing so.
  「Then why refrain from drinking?」
  “I gotta hold back.”
  Recognizing that my body was not in a completely normal state, I had decided not to  bring anything into my body that could disrupt the flow inside. 
  As such, I was going to hold off on alcohol for now.
  “…Perhaps I should request some pungent tea from Tang Soyeol.”
  Wouldn’t they be somewhat similar? 
  With that delusional thought, I went downstairs.
  Like I said earlier, I still had a week before the tournament began.
  As such, not too many people had arrived here yet.
  There was no way individuals from noble clans enjoyed waiting, which was why the people that were already here were either from far-off places or had business matters to attend here.  
  Thanks to that, it wasn’t too rowdy. 
  Meanwhile, I was chewing on something with a frown on my face.
  “How is it?”
  Wi Seol-Ah asked after bringing me a dish filled with food. 
  “…It’s not bad, but the dumplings I had back in the carriage were better.”
  After serving me first, she proceeded to plate her own food before indulging herself. 
  Her face broke into a smile after her initial bite. 
  “It’s good though…”
  “It is good. I’m merely drawing a comparison.”
  “Do you want… tea?”
  “Hmm? Yeah sure, thanks.”
  Was it because Namgung Bi-ah was asleep the entire time? All she was doing was sipping tea without a single bite of food.
  “Where is Lady Tang?”
  “Sis Soyeol said that she’d take some time! Apparently, she has to redo her makeup.”
  “Um… she said… to not say that…”
  Wi Seol-Ah quickly covered her mouth in horror after hearing Namgung Bi-ah, but the damage was already done since I heard it all.
  Makeup huh…
  Does she really have to bother when all we are doing is eating?
  When I pondered as such, Elder Shin started to speak as if he was mocking me.
  「That’s what it means to be a woman.」
  ‘But these girls don’t do that though.’
  「…That’s because they’re at a level where they don’t need to, hence why I despise you so much.」
  ‘Last time you said you didn’t like me, but now you say you despise me…’
  Isn’t his hatred for me increasing a little too fast? 
  I turned my gaze to a different direction after eating another dumpling. 
  “Why aren’t you eating?”
  “…I am.”
  I asked Gu Jeolyub, who was barely eating.
  “I went out of my way to call you so you could eat, so why are you only nibbling? Are you looking down at the products of the farmers’ blood and sweat?”
  “N, No, sir. I just didn’t expect that you would call for me to such a spot.”
  “It’s not like it’s a grand spot or anything.”
  Why does everyone make such a fuss about dining with me?
  After a brief hesitation, Gu Jeolyub spoke.
  “Don’t you dislike me?”
  “But what does that have to do with this? Just eat.”
  If I had to answer whether I liked or disliked him, I would undoubtedly choose the latter. 
  I wouldn’t have cared much if he only bothered me.
  However, he just happened to pursue Wi Seol-Ah, which was a significant issue.
  To be honest, because of that, I wanted to use and abuse Gu Jeolyub even more, but… 
  I felt a little bad after remembering what the Second Elder told me.
  – Go a little easy on this child since he’s a poor one. 
  That one irksome remark had managed to occupy a space in my mind.  
  I, too, had a similar experience of being pressured by the people around me, so I did feel a little bad for Gu Jeolyub, even if I didn’t take his personality and thoughts into account. 
  ‘I’m still going to use him a lot, though.’
  I then asked Gu Jeolyub, who was carefully putting food into his mouth.
  “What did he say? Your grandfather.”
  “What do you mean, ‘Huh?’. Look at this guy acting clueless. Telling you to observe me is obvious, but besides that I genuinely can’t tell what is the true purpose of you being here.” 
  “He didn’t really tell me to do anything to me.”
  Yeah, sure he didn’t.
  You should’ve at least said that after hiding your shaky eyes. 
  How is everyone around me so bad at lying all the time?

  If someone were to ask me if Gu Jeolyub was a nuisance to me… 
  I didn’t really feel that he was. 
  After all, he wasn’t a guy that could be a nuisance in the first place. 
  But I guess I could say I felt a little bad for him. 
  He had the talent, a handsome face, and his background wasn’t too shabby either, but…
  He simply got unlucky. 
  ‘It’s not that a man of greed is scary,’
  It was just scary how everything around them rotted away. 
  That’s what I saw in Gu Jeolyub.
  “You do you. Try to be as inconspicuous as possible. If I catch you doing something fishy, I swear I’m going to break your arm for real this time.”
  “F-Fishy, of course not.”
  He was still a kid.
  He was treated like a young man, but he hadn’t even reached the age of twenty. At most, he was a boy that worked hard. 
  And it seemed like the First Elder was the only one who didn’t seem to realize that.
  While in the middle of staring at him, I was suddenly caught off guard by something brushing against my lips, so I quickly backed off. 
  When I checked what it was, I found Wi Seol-Ah trying to put food into my mouth.
  “Young Master, you need to eat your veggies too.”
  “See, you ate everything except the vegetables… Young Master, are you a baby? Grandpa told me only babies are picky with their food.”
  “…I was going to save them for last.”
  “Liar! I have almost never seen Young Master eat any vegetables!”
  As always, Wi Seol-ah treating me like a kid was something very new and uncomfortable to me.
  In the end, I received all the vegetables into my mouth, admitting defeat against her. 
  「Hehe, weren’t you the one who continued to treat her like a child?」
  ‘…Life is really exhausting.’
  Even while filling my stomach, I made sure to continue looking around. 
  If I had learned anything from the experiences of my past life, it was that something was always bound to happen in a building like this. 
  Because when people considered to be fairly strong were gathered up in one area, there would always be that one guy who couldn’t resist showing off. 
  This was especially the case for young prodigies. 
  ‘Therefore, I gotta be careful so the s*!tstorm doesn’t come my way.’
  I couldn’t afford to stir up trouble right away. If I were to, it’d have to be after a week. 
  So I had to pray that nothing happened to me till then.
  “Young Master, Young Master.”
  “Over there…”
  As expected, nothing ever went the way I wanted it to. 
  When I looked in the direction that Wi Seol-Ah was pointing at, people were gathered around a giant figure wearing a dark yellow uniform. 
  He possessed an impressive physique, though not quite as much as the Second Elder. 
  ‘Hwangbo Clan?’
  It seemed like they were a young prodigy from the Hwangbo Clan that I saw earlier. 
  Who was it? Were they a blood relative of their clan’s lord?
  I couldn’t recognize anyone standing around him.
  However, I’d assume they were from a well-known clan, considering they came to the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament. 
  Then, I saw a woman in the middle of the crowd, seemingly bearing the weight of everyone’s insults. 
  The dumpling I was about to devour came to a halt as my eyes settled on her figure.  
  I couldn’t see her face because of the veil she was wearing and nothing gave away the clan she belonged in. 
  Her uniform seemed beautiful, but it didn’t seem too high in quality. 
  And I couldn’t see her bodyline, as she had overlapped many clothes due to the cold weather. 
  However, her earrings were clearly visible. 
  And those earrings had caught my eyes.
  It wasn’t an accessory that symbolized her clan or anything remotely special.
  They were merely earrings with a unique shape, but they were the same earrings a certain woman had worn, even until the end.
  ‘…That crazy bitch is here too?’
  I swiftly threw away my brief hesitation and proceeded to eat my dumpling, as if I hadn’t seen a thing. 
  That scary woman might notice even the slightest hesitation that I make. 
  As such, I looked away. There was no need to question if she was someone different from my thoughts. 
  I was already certain.
  I didn’t know why a blood relative from one of the four noble clans came here so early.
  However, one thing was certain. I had no desire to become entangled with whatever she did.  
  ‘I did expect to see her since it is the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament.’
  But actually seeing her in person made me think about many things. 
  Most of them weren’t too positive either. 
  “What clan are you from? I am Hwangbo Cheolwi. Would you like to have a drink together?”
  The man, introducing himself as Hwangbo Cheolwi, extended her an offer to drink. However, the woman gestured towards the glass already in front of her.
  “Apologies, but I’ll have to pass for next time, as I’m drinking already.”
  “It might be more enjoyable since you are already doing so. On this chilly night, wouldn’t drinking with the company of others make it warmer?” 
  “I apologize again, but I already have someone to drink with.”
  With a beautiful voice, she declined his offer once again.
  But it seemed like Hwangbo Cheolwi had no intention of backing down, as he pulled out a chair and sat in front of her.
  “I’m Hwangbo Cheolwi.”
  “…Yes, you told me earlier.”
  “Do you not know the Hwangbo Clan?”
  “I do. They are a great clan, aren’t they? ”
  A great clan my ass. Even though they were, there was no chance that they were greater than the four noble clans. 
  And the woman under the veil was a member of those very clans. 
  ‘Does that boar-like bastard not have a brain?’
  It seemed like he already had a drink before this, but he should still be a little more cautious at a place like the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament. 
  ‘How could he just act like that without thinking first?’
  It was really shitty as it felt like I was watching myself from the past. 
  “If you know that already, aren’t your actions a bit…you know?”
  “…What do you mean?”
  “Sheesh… That cold voice of yours, so charming. If it isn’t too impolite of a request, could you please take off that veil?”
  “It is impolite.”
  I continued to dine, but my ears were attuned to their exchange. 
  Judging by what I heard, it seemed like it was the first time Hwangbo Cheolwi came to the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament. 
  Since no one would approach another so presumptuously without proper knowledge of their background. 
  Which was why I was worried. 
  Not for that bitch drinking while feigning ignorance and acting all weak, but for that boar-like bastard, Hwangbo. 
  He went for a person that he shouldn’t have touched.
  How unlucky of him.
  ‘At least I’m not tangled up in this mess.’
  Unlucky as he was, I didn’t care as long as the s*!tstorm didn’t come to me. 
  “What are you doing!”
  Fortunately, someone interrupted, as if wishing to stop this exchange.
  It wasn’t like anything good was going to happen to them if they involved themselves in that situation. 
  Perhaps it was a person who loved helping others. 
  “…What do you think you’re doing right now?”
  But that person happened to be from our party…?
  Hwangbo Cheolwi then turned his head towards the voice, which happened to be us. 
  I realized that the situation went beyond merely bad, judging by his expression that had turned to one of anger. 
  With a face of bewilderment, I looked up to see the one who shouted these words.  
  It appeared that he was utterly unconcerned with my gaze at this point. 
  A young man with eyes that was aflame with the determination to help others. 
  Gu Jeolyub was the one shouting at that boar-like bastard, Hwangbo.
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