Possessing Nothing - Chapter 82
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“You fought with Jihak?” Namgong Hee-won exclaimed.
He had been with Scarlett all this time. Namgong Hee-won listened to Lee Sung-min with his mouth wide open. Namgong Hee-won, who had been watching Lee Sung-min for a while, shook his head.
“What Grand Master of Shaolin? He’s just a dog-like old man. I told him he couldn’t ask Jihak to do that!” he said.
“Did you know who he was?” asked Lee Sung-min curiously.
“I know. Jihak is the future of Shaolin and a direct student of the Grand Master. No, that’s a bit wrong… Jihak has learned martial arts from all of Shaolin’s great “monsters” ever since he was a child. They are the elites of Shaolin.”
Namgong Hee-won sighed as he said:
“The successors of the four households are quite excellent. But they pale a bit in comparison to Shaolin’s well-established practices and masters. Shaolin’s knowledge, clarity in martial arts and versatility. The people that master these three are said to be the future of Shaolin.”
These were terms he had never heard of. In his previous life, Lee Sung-min lived as a mercenary and heard about various titles, but he had never heard of Shaolin’s knowledge, the clarity in martial arts, and versatility.
“I’ve never heard of these.”
“Jihak has mastered all the three. These three sound simple, but they form the base to any martial arts. It’s like a secret weapon of theirs. Most cultivators who aren’t even thirty years old, get stuck in a bottleneck and learn nothing..”
Namgong Hee-won muttered and shook his head.
“Every year I come to Shaolin, I’ve heard about Jihak. I really wanted to have a duel.
Who would win if Namgong Hee-won and Jihak fought? Lee Sung-min had never seen Namgong Hee-won’s true strength. Likewise, he had never seen Jihak at his best either. However, if he had to make comparisons, he assumed Jihak would have been stronger than Namgong Hee-won.
“So, what are you going to do now?”
“… I’m going to stay in Shaolin for the time being.”
Scarlett opened her eyes at Lee Sung-min’s answer and stared at him, her gaze piercing into him.
“What? You’ll stay here?”
“Yes. There’s a lot to think about, and a lot of things I want to improve. Fortunately, we met Brother and were able to enter Shaolin.”
“I really like this brother.”
Namgong Hee-won said ruefully.
“If I knew that my brother was such a good guy, I’d take him to the Namgong household,” he said suggestively.
“… If I get a chance later, I’ll go there. What happened to you?”
“Me? It’s just like last year. Show a bit of my skills to Grandmaster Bul-yeong and that’s all. We are all incapable of being a Heavenly Demon, or even close to one. On the other hand, I can’t win against my father.”
Lee Sung-min felt a little lost after hearing him..
The world was really too vast. Namgong Hee-won, who fought with Lee Sung-min, was weaker than Jihak. And Jihak was devastated by Wijihyeon. Namgong Hee-won couldn’t even beat his father, Namgong Baek.
‘I’m… too weak.’
Is it because my status is different? Or because the perspective I’m looking through is different?
Compared to his previous life, the world seemed to have grown exponentially in his eyes. So many people, such great power, endless competition. It was obvious. He had never experienced such incidents as a Class C mercenary.
What one experiences is different from what one sees and feels. It was a continuation of the enlightenment that Lee Sung-min had felt on Mush’s mountain. The world changed when he changed.
‘I have changed, so what I see is different.’
“… If you’re staying here, I guess I’ll go around a little bit more.”
Scarlett said, tilting her head.
At that, Lee Sung-min glanced at Scarlett.
“Ever since I’ve come here, I haven’t learned nor gained anything. On the way to this place, I was worried about you. But now, if you’re here, you’re not going to be in danger. I can rest assured”
“… Where are you going?”
“Everywhere. I have a lot of talent to keep myself.” She said vaguely, shrugging her shoulders.
Lee Sung-min thought about not letting her go, but then immediately exterminated that thought. Scarlett’s past life did not have him involved. Her fate was likely to change significantly if she got deeply involved with him.
“Will we meet again?”
“Of course we’ll have to meet, idiot. Forgot what I said? Whenever you’ll be in danger, I’ll help you.”
Scarlett grumbled and put her hand inside her robe. After fumbling around for a while, she pulled out a bracelet made of red thread.
“What is this?”
“It’s a bracelet that’s connected with my psychic. I gave it to Baek Sogo. I didn’t expect you’d be the next one to receive it.”
The bracelet did look extremely familiar.Thinking back… He recollected that Baek Sogo was definitely wearing such a bracelet on her wrist.
“It’s not really a convenient tool for telepathy. But wherever I am in the world, if you wish to talk to me, the bracelet would inform me.”
Lee Sung-min nodded his head and put on the bracelet without a word, feeling grateful to her.
The next day, even though she had wondered if she was leaving too soon, subsequently, she left, saying that it would be meaningless to stay any longer. The same was true for Namgong Hee-won.
“If you’re alive, you’ll be treated whenever your brother comes.”
It was a sudden meeting, but the relationship was not thin. Namgong Hee-won knocked Lee Sung-min’s shoulder a few times and went down the mountain. The lineage’s other successors, like Moya, had already left the previous day.
Shaolin’s monks offered Lee Sung-min a room to live in, but he politely declined. Lee Sung-min grabbed his spear and left through the Shaolin’s rear door. He relied on his memory to reach the Grandmaster’s residence.
He decided to postpone his journey to go to Drimoor and meet Denir, the god of time. In any case, Drimoor was not far from here, and he thought it would be a great honor to receive the guidance of the Grandmaster and Jihak.
‘Five years later… When winter starts.’
The spirit in Grandmaster Bul-yeong’s body had told him to go to a place where the snow did not melt. The northernmost region of Eria was the only place where layers of snow piled up not melting throughout.
Five years later, it said, so there was still time left. Lee Sung-min thought about what he should do in the future.
He was supposed to meet with Wijiho-yeon when he turned 24. Five years from now, the fight between Baek Sogo and Wijiho-yeon would take place. Prior to his reunion with Wijiho-yeon, Lee Sung-min had to prevent Baek Sogo’s death.
In other words, no matter what the order was, the time left for Lee Sung-min was still five years.
‘How far can I go?’
‘How much can I accomplish?’ It was still not close to Wijihyeon. Lee Sung-min looked down on his scarred hands. He handed himself an ultimatum. If he doesn’t get over this, he was going to lose everything in 10 years.
He decided to not eat the Greater Restoration Pill.
If he decided to take the pill while his body, when his Qi and body parts were all imbalanced, it could increase the chances of the backlash occuring.
‘What… should I do?’
Lee Sung-min looked down at the spear he had held in his hand. It was a spear that he was satisfied and happy with. He looked down at his armor. He had been hoping and looking forward to the day he would climb and exceed the wall he was facing.
Lee Sung-min took off his armor. As the armor was taken off, the cold air blew in the gaps making a squealing sound. Lee Sung-min placed his armor down on the ground. The same was true of the spear in his hand. Lee Sung-min threw the spear into a large rock near the cave. The spear pierced through the rock like a knife through tofu.
He took out another spear. It was an ordinary spear that he had used for a long time. Purchased and carried as a spare, the spear wasn’t wielded much since the quality of the spear was poor.
He swung the spear with his bare hands. The deep calluses in his palm, mixed with wounds from old fights and endeavours were evidence of his hard work. Lee Sung-min chortled out a laugh.
He didn’t think that a genius’s life was effort-free. Even if they started at a point ahead from them, they still have to put in efforts to run. The turbulence geniuses had to face was no lesser than theirs.
To keep up with genius’ efforts, they needed to do more, even more than usual. Surpassing their limits was the only way.
Rabbits and turtles. He was reminded of the ever-so-famous tale narrated to him as a child. The rabbit leaped and ran quickly… The turtle moved slowly, one step at a time. The rabbit fell asleep indulging in overconfidence, and the turtle continued to crawl ahead while the rabbit was sound asleep, reaching the finish line before the rabbit.
Lee Sung-min knew he was not a rabbit. Maybe he’s even worse than a turtle. Nevertheless, he was resilient. He wouldn’t only crawl to go forward, he would even sell his eyes if that would help him in reaching the heights he wanted to reach.
Lee Sung-min was determined to move ahead. He tightened his hand that was holding the spear.
‘Not enough,’ he berated himself.
Everything was lacking, he was no way near being good enough. Lee Sung-min slowly began to practice the Nine Heavenly Spears technique.
“That’s a great technique.”
A voice commented when Lee Sung-min was done practicing all of the Nine Heavenly spear techniques. He looked in the direction of the sound as he struggled to take in a breath, chest heaving. A man dressed in robes stood there, observing Lee Sung-min.
“It’s a shame though,” said the man.
It was none other than Jihak.
“Are my skills not acceptable?”
Lee Sung-min looked at Jihak’s expressionless face and asked skeptically.
In response, Jihak shook his head.
“I did not say so. What you don’t have is experience.”
Jihak seated himself at the entrance of the cave while saying so. The Grand Master was not present. What Jihak saw was a familiar spear placed near the entrance.
“Why did you take off your armor and put down a good spear?”
“It doesn’t suit me now.”
“Is this your way of showing your determination?”
“Do you think it’s hypocrisy?”
“I don’t think so. Being free from the shackles of self-ridicule will relax your mind, and ultimately, the body is commanded by the mind. It is a way of being true to your heart. Heart, Qi and body, those three are often said to be the factors that make cultivation a smooth or bumpy journey, depending on how well they’re utilised.”
He pulled out the spear with a tug from behind. It was a window of the middle garden where the red spear swelled.
“What all the martial arts practitioners require is a good link between all of them. It’s about supporting the heart inside the body, and strengthening it with Qi, almost like a protective cage.”
“… Is that a technique?”
“Oh, this is a theory of Shaolin. There are many types of techniques. Each one is different. … Shaolin has a theory of inviolability as well. The theory aims to achieve self-discipline through meditation and techniques and gain great enlightenment.”
“The way we want to express ourselves and the words we speak are different… After all, we’re still humans. The technique is mainly based on the concept of discipline. The impossible task of being an immortal like Buddha, using discipline and maturity as foundation is what we aim for. He was originally a human being as well.”
It was the first time he had heard this kind of analogy, so Lee Sung-min opened his ears and listened to Jihak carefully. As he saw Lee Sung-min listening, Jihak smiled and added to his words.
“As I said, there are many different types of martial arts. It’s not just strengthening the body and achieving the impossible. The technique, often referred to as the Praying Mantis, is more intuitive, made only to kill people. There are also many other techniques that have been picked and adjusted to depict the behaviour and characteristics of different animals and insects..”
“Do you want to be an Immortal?”
“Huhu! I am too immature to be an Immortal. I’m going to say this to you… I hope you understand. All I know are the martial arts of Shaolin, it’s not sufficient enough for me to be an immortal. I do not mean that it is impossible to become one though.. If you want me to look at your techniques and martial arts, then first you have to understand the martial arts of Shaolin.”
Jihak approached Lee Sung-nim, shifting the spear in his hand.
“There’s a technique in Shaolin called the Seventy-two arts of Shaolin based on the seventy two pedants. It’s common to use bare-handed martial arts such as the Hundred Steps Divine Fist as martial arts consisting of great powers. But I am sure that wielding the spear with this technique isn’t powerful enough to defeat many martial arts practitioners like me. No place in this world has been established so deeply as to understand the Art of the Spear as much as Shaolin.”
Jihak adjusted his posture while holding the spear with both his hands, legs slightly spread apart. Lee Sung-min performed the role of a spectator..
“Listen to the sound.”
Jihak gave a deep chuckle.
“And feel it.”
The determination that flowed from Jihak was filled with the pride he had in Shaolin, his eyes filled with alertness.
This translation belongs to Centinni.