Childhood Friend of the Zenith Chapter 144

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༺ Dragons and Phoenixes Tournament (3) ༻
  As soon as the Alliance Leader Jang Cheon entered the bustling banquet hall, a hush fell over the room. 
  It was out of respect, but it also came as a response to the change in the atmosphere. 
  This was happening because the Alliance Leader was purposely using his Qi to alter the atmosphere. 
  The sound of his footsteps could not be more clear and loud. 
  In the place of that benevolent middle-aged man that I saw earlier, there was now a head of his clan standing instead. 
  A master martial artist of the Orthodox Faction in his prime,at the age of around 40. 
  The Harmonic Sword, Jang Cheon. 
  His presence here was for the speech. 
  “I thank everyone for coming all the way here.”
  His voice, empowered by his Qi, echoed throughout the building. 
  Judging by the clear echo of his voice, everyone could tell how profound his Qi was. 
  “My heart feels as if it got warmer, after seeing all the stars of this year gather in the winter.”
  Everyone was careful, even with the sound of their breathing, so that they could focus on him only.
  You could say that a person was talented if they could command others’ focus with their voice and presence.
  ‘This is lame.’
  But this wasn’t really affecting me.
  Sure, the voice of the talented Murim Alliance Leader could captivate others. 
  But for someone like me, who experienced a future timeline, I couldn’t help but question the extent of his greatness. 
  I couldn’t deny his martial talents.
  However, in my eyes, he was merely an ordinary man who was good at non-actions. 
  And that was without including his natural talent for martial arts. 
  ‘I’m gonna die of boredom.’
  – Good work coming here.
  – It’s nice to see everyone’s growth.
  – Do prepare yourselves for the tournament that will start tomorrow.
  That was basically what he said.
  Though I couldn’t help but find it peculiar that he hadn’t mentioned Jang Seonyeon in his speech. 
  I had expected at least a line about him.
  ‘Maybe he’s doing it on purpose for attention?’
  Everyone already knew that the Alliance Leader’s son was participating in this meeting.
  Whether it was him trying to temper the expectations placed on his son…
  Or that he was striving to treat him as an equal among peers as the Alliance Leader…
  I didn’t know what his reason was.
  And even if I knew, nothing would change. 
  More people started to look at Jang Seonyeon when the Alliance Leader arrived. 
  There were gazes toward me as well, thanks to all the girls that were around me.
  However, since everyone attending the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament were martial artists, their focus inevitably shifted to Jang Seonyeon, who was viewed as a rising star. 
  Furthermore, this Dragons and Phoenixes tournament was missing three of the Five Dragons and Three Phoenixes. 
  Gu Clan’s Sword Phoenix.
  Mount Hua’s Sword Dragon.
  Mudang’s Water Dragon. 
  Those three were absent at this time.
  ‘How unfortunate.’
  The absence of the Water Dragon made sense, though.
  Considering his personality, such events were unlikely to pique his interest. 
  As for Gu Huibi, she was likely occupied with clan work.
  Yung Pung’s absence was an unexpected case, though. 
  I thought he would certainly come since he had entrusted me with an item. 
  ‘Does Mount Hua have something going on?’
  Shaanxi and Hanam did have quite a distance, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment. 
  Had I genuinely grown closer to him in that short amount of time?
  Even though I should know my place.
  In an attempt to quell my unwarranted hopes, I took a sip of my tea that had cooled down. 
  ‘I’m disappointed not to see the Water Dragon.’
  He was the one person I had genuinely hoped to encounter at the Dragons and Phoenixes tournament.
  There was a slight bit of chance that he came, but as expected, that lazy guy didn’t show up.
  He was one of the few I could consider a friend, too. 
  – Even if you’re angry, hold it in at least three times.
  – Hey, you crazy f*cker!
  – I told you not to take the lead. Didn’t I tell you that you’d die?
  – Hey, I’m cold, go make the fire since you look like kindling woo- …Why are you clenching your fist…? Hey, stop there. Stop right there!
  I recalled his loud voice that never seemed to stop. 
  I felt like I was getting a headache when next to him.
  But now, I often found myself missing those moments. 
  And now was one of those times. 
  “…I, Jangcheon, hope that the future of all of you stars will shine brightly. ”
  While I was trapped in my thoughts, the speech was coming to an end. 
  Judging by all the clapping sounds I heard, it seems like the speech went well.
  I only just realized that Wi Seol-Ah’s hand was still on my shoulder.
  I tried to turn my head around to look at Wi Seol-Ah, but for some reason, I found it difficult to do so.
  I wondered what kind of face Wi Seol-Ah was making right now.
  Perhaps one of boredom or amusement. 
  The Alliance Leader’s swift departure suggested that he had been solely here for the speech. 
  Even though it would’ve been nice if he had spared a glance for his son at least. 
  “He really seems like a good person.”
  Tang Soyeol’s eyes were sparkling as if she was touched by his speech. 
  But she had been chewing on something the entire time. 
  It looked like she was chewing on some type of grass.
  When Tang Soyeol noticed my gaze, she blushed and averted her eyes. 
  “…Um, I just feel a little hungry.”
  She looked like a bunny while she was chewing, but I didn’t ask what she was eating.
  After all, just by looking at it, I knew that whatever she was eating wasn’t something that normal humans could consume.
  Though, one bright side was that I wasn’t the only one who found the speech boring. 
   I pinched the hand of the person seated next to me.
  I woke up Namgung Bi-ah, who had managed to quietly doze off with a straight face. 
  Even I didn’t fall asleep. So how could this girl sleep in front of the Alliance Leader giving a speech?
  ‘She’s even in the frontmost row too.’
  Jang Cheon most likely noticed Namgung Bi-ah dozing off. 
  Though I could only hope he didn’t view her in a negative way after that.
  When the Alliance Leader left, the building once again became rowdy. 
  It was because the main event of the gathering had started.
  One would begin to engage in conversations with those seated further away. 
  Or one would quietly enjoy the meal. 
  I started to see some more familiar faces. 
  However, It was worth noting that no one had ventured to the front row yet. 
  I have to give props to the world for doing a good job at separating classes. 
  “Young Master!”
  Wi Seol-Ah hopped towards me excitedly. I reached out to touch Wi Seol-Ah’s hair out of habit. 
  While feeling the sensation of my hand, Wi Seol-Ah spoke to me.
  “There are so many people here.”
  “Yeah, since this is the meetup, after all.”
  The clamor of voices around me was a bit overwhelming, but I could still manage. 
  After getting up from my seat, I made my way to the window at the corner of the building. 
  I put a cover on Wi Seol-Ah, just in case.
  I prepared it, just in case an emergency occurred.
 I made sure to put the cover on all my servants and not just Wi Seol-Ah so that it didn’t look weird.
  Regardless of my efforts, this still resulted in some strange looks from others. 
  ‘But oh well.’
  It wasn’t like it was just once or twice that I got treated as a weird person. 
  So I was able to handle something like this easily. 
  But if I had to point out something strange…
  “I heard that this is your first time in the tournament, is that right, Young Master Jang?”
  “Yes indeed. That’s why I’m excited.”
  “Oh, that means that this gathering is also your first time, then?”
  “Embarrassingly so…”
  “Ahhh… Well, our clan has a meetup of their own, so would you like to…”
  Because of Jang Seonyeon’s smile and the unique atmosphere around him, many people were gathered around him.
  It made sense since he was the Alliance Leader’s son and a new face. 
  “…But what about me?”
  I guess it was comfortable since no one came to me.
  But was there seriously not a single person wanting to talk to me?
  Being the son of the Tiger Warrior and the younger brother of the Sword Phoenix might sound less impressive than being the son of the Alliance Leader…
  But I couldn’t help but wonder why not a single person came toward me.
  Wouldn’t some people at least be curious?
  While I was in deep contemplation, Tang Soyeol, after escaping the crowd of young prodigies surrounding her, came towards me.
  Tang Soyeol seemed exhausted as if she had dealt with her fair share of people already. 
  “…Young Master Gu. Is there a problem?”
  “It seems like you have more of a problem instead.”
  “I’m fine…! This is nothing.”
  She flexed her bicep to show that she was full of energy.
  But all I saw was a slender, pale arm. 
  I let that pass and continued to speak.
  “It’s just…I just find it strange that no one was coming to meet me.”
  Tang Soyeol’s eyes shook as if she knew the reason why that was happening.
  And I didn’t let that go.
  “What’s wrong?”
  “Um… It’s uh, it might be because… the Sword Phoenix last time…”
  Tang Soyeol was about to say something, but her sentence was cut short by a resounding slam from the center of the banquet hall. 
  Along with that sound, a gust of wind passed by me and I could feel the Qi mixed within it.
  “You piece of… What the hell are you saying!”
  The voice I heard shortly, was a voice that I had heard before. 
 The tsking sound that I heard right next to me.
  It belonged to Tang Soyeol.
  “How dare a lower class like you show fangs to me, a Hwangbo!”
  The person roaring in the building was none other than Hwangbo Cheolwi.
  That guy displayed a similar attitude back in Bacheonmaru, and now, he was also acting as such here. 
  I thought he looked a little pathetic, but when I saw the man Hwangbo Cheolwi was roaring at, I couldn’t say a word. 
  I hoped that this wouldn’t be the case…
  Hwangbo Cheolwi’s opponent was Gu Jeolyub, just like last time.
  Why was that guy doing that again?
  “I heard that Hwangbo means ‘the tiger of the world’, but how could your behavior seem more like a cat than a beast?” 
  It seemed like Gu Jeolyub had no intention of losing either, as he had his hand on his sword while roaring back. He slowly flowed his Qi around, but its spiky flow hinted that his emotions were slightly out of control. 
  Hwangbo Cheolwi then mockingly smiled back and spoke.
  “How dare you mock me, Hwangbo, when you come from the Gu clan, known as ‘fire’ itself, but in reality, that fire is smaller than a torch flame?”
  ‘Haha, this piece of shit.’
  I became a little annoyed at his reference to my clan as a mere torch flame. 
  But I didn’t have any intention of stepping forward myself. After all, I had been looked down upon many times.
  And I wasn’t about to start caring now. 
  Therefore, I planned on just staying still.
  That was until I noticed a subtle movement from Jang Seonyeon. 
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