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0012 ———————————————-
Millennium Snow Ginseng (千年雪蔘)

When I came to my senses, I was lying at the owner’s house. The shop-owner seemed to have moved me out of the way where I fainted. I was grateful because he was a rare person.

“Thank you very much.”

“What makes you want to become a guard at a courier company?”

“I think it’s the easiest way to make a living.”



“Now, you do know that a guard is generally very poor and their job is often dangerous.”

He clicked his tongue and I agreed with him.

A guard of a courier company could be considered as a half-martial-artist, but essentially they are hired to act as servants in the transportation business. Few of the guards learn First Class (一流 Yīliú) or Peak Class (絕頂 Juédǐng) martial arts, and most die rolling through their lives in humble bravery.

The shop-owner continued.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t take care of you because I’m busy managing the affairs of daily living. Drink some water and please leave once you regain your strength.”

“I understand. Thank you very much, you've been a great help already.”

“As I said before, there is no courier company around here. You have to travel over several mountains to reach Sagong courier company in Wangha."

He handed me clean decent clothes, but it appeared to me that the original clothes I wore had been left in tatters by my body shape.

“I do not have any money…”

“Just take it. If you looked like a beggar nowadays in such a world these days, there would be a lot worse than the first appearance getting in the way.”

“…Thank you. What’s your name?”

“Hahaha, everybody calls me Mr. Song of the Dry Goods shop.”

“Yes, goodbye.”

I thankfully changed my clothes and stepped out of the store, and I pledged within my heart.

‘Jang Chul of Samsong courier company… Mr. Song of a Dry Goods shop… I will pay it back to the two people somehow, the kindness you both have shown me.’

I am well aware of it.
How hard and difficult it is to give something to others for nothing in this harsh world. I've never helped anyone out for nothing. It is because I was also busy squeezing out a meagre living. Jang Chul and Mr. Song are people who can help others despite their humble livelihood. If I don’t repay their kindness, I’ll be a son of a bitch.

I took another step towards my goal and started for Wangha. On the way to Wangha, tricks and traps were carefully lined up to catch wild animals, so I ate more meat. There were many small organized groups including Huangshan Faction in the area, so bandits were visibly absent.

The sounds of a waterfall.

As the cold water fell, I pulled my Neigong (內功 Nèigōng – internal energy) out to protect myself and cleanse my dirty body. Usually I would catch a cold but it wasn’t too cold, because I took in enough nutrients and I further practiced Neigong. I felt much better after I dried out my clothes.

When I arrived at Wangha, it was not difficult to find the Sagong courier company. I had never been here, so I did not know much about it. However, as soon as I entered inside the town, it was an easy matter in asking for the whereabouts of the signpost for the company.

Standing in front of the signboard of the courier company, I thought for a moment.

'It is said that Sagong courier company was set up by Mr. Sagong, but I didn't hear much about it. Is it okay for me to depend on the Sagong courier company here? Well, I can't help it now because I don't have any other choice.'

After a while, I walked into Sagong courier company.

Crowded sounds.

“Hey, move that baggage over here!”

“This merchandise has no company trademark. Call the youngest! Take it back and obtain the trademark for it."

“Yes. Big Brother!”

Inside, several people were hastily bustling about, ready to transport their goods. Everyone was so occupied that I hardly recognized who to speak with, then it dawned on me – it would only be necessary to find the head guard.

“Excuse me, I wish to become a guard. Could you accept me?”

“You, little kid! I’m busy! Get away from me!”

I grabbed a guard and asked him for a test, but he just grimaced and fizzled.

In fact, there is needed a physical strength and significant power requirement for the job of a guardsman because it is hard work. Then if a young boy, barely a teenager applies for the job, it looks extremely ludicrous.

Even if I were a guard, I would also answer the question like that, so then I rephrased the question correctly.

“I’d like to see the head guard of the Sagong courier company. Where is he?”

"Uh…? The head guard is over there, in a white suit!"

I saw where the fingertip pointed towards. Certainly, there was a person dressed in a high-cut white suit, who seemed to be unlike the other people here. I could see that this person was also from the Sagong Family, not employed from within the ranks of the guards.

But, I was pleasantly surprised at the difference.

‘A woman?’

It was indeed… The woman, who had been pointed out was absolutely beautiful in a white outfit. She was so breathtakingly prettier than Ms. Seo, the concubine of the village chief whom I saw in my second life. Perhaps she was in her mid-twenties, gracefully slim and tightly-skinned. In particular, her crystal clear eyes which seem to draw in the eyes of the beholders, clearly displaying how she was a rare beauty amongst women.

But it was the very first time stumbling across a female head guard since I was born.

Although a head guard works harder and makes more money than an average guard, he and now she, is basically a hard worker.

But I could now understand why she was the head guard, soon after observing her walking around here and there.

‘She learnt martial arts!’

Her light movements were not at all too wasteful and careless.
That is a phenomenon which occurs only when a high class Haste Skill (經身術Jīngshēnshù) is learned, and each step is a condensed essence of martial arts.

She would be a Second Class (二流 Èrliú) martial artist or perhaps above that, so she would be more suited for position as the head guard.

I approached the woman carefully and said.

“I’m here to become a guard!”

“Huh?”

She turned to look at me, a little surprised.

When I saw her face in front of me, I felt like my hair became white, translucent light.
When I saw her side appearance, I thought it looked like a clear picture captured in time.
But when I saw her up close, I knew that she unequivocally is the most beautiful woman who cannot be compared within a century or two.

A woman who is so breathtakingly beautiful enough to cause the downfall of a country!

‘Wow! I’ve never seen such a beautiful woman since my eyes first opened at birth…’

She was so beautiful that I could barely garner an exclamation from her, rather than having a sexual desire for her. It was just the first time in my life, that such a beautiful woman had been found within a single courier company.

She smiled softly and patted me on the cheek.

“What’s your name, boy?”

“I am Baek Woong.”

“I’m sorry, but your age kinda looks like a little bit too young, so it’s hard to accept you as a guard. Why don't you start as a worker?”

She seemed considerate of a young child, but I couldn’t accept it.

'If I start as a worker, I’ll end up doing all kinds of chores.'

I shook my head firmly, because I knew it would be a heck of a lot easier just to work as a guard in charge of freight transports and escort services.

“I can do enough work!”

"Hmm…"

Sagong Lin smiled awkwardly. The gentle laughter held the power to rattle men’s hearts. In reality, workers carrying luggage around were also paying close attention to her.

“Then do you know what a guard does?”

“I know as well as anyone.”

“A guard of a courier company is to have at least martial arts and physical strength. You are so young…"

“Take a good look.”

Shuuk!

Even before Sagong Lin’s speech was finished, I operated Thunder Speed Footwork (雷靈步法Léilíng Bùfǎ), and approached the goods nearby. It was like a huge wooden decoration three meters wide. The weight would probably take three to four people together to move it sweating out in effort.

Haaat!

But I lifted the heavy wooden decoration lightly with both hands above my head. It would have been possible with only one hand, but I wanted to avoid looking too much, so I deliberately lifted it steadily.

“Great!”

“No, what power…”

“Is that his strength?”

The guards and workers around were buzzing out in disbelief.

In fact, it is such a weight that cannot be lifted even after a male adult wakes up from the dead. Three or four skilled workers would focus on adjusting the balance of the force before being able move it.

So, it’s a shocking surprise when a child like me lifted it.

Sagong Lin also looked surprised and said.
“Ah… considerable Neigong. You are the child of a prominent martial arts family!”

Since she had also learned a great deal of martial arts, and she seemed to realize that I had lifted a wooden ornament with the power of Neigong. It was pointless to hide it, so I made up an excuse prepped for it as a side story.

“I lost my parents early in my life and wanted to use martial arts which I had learned. I really wish to work as a guard.”

“Wait here a minute.”

She disappeared from the scene with her dreamy footwork as if the clouds were soggy. She seemed to have entered the building inside, but she could not tell where she was going. I was surprised to realize that her level of footwork far surpassed me.

‘That’s not something she learnt as a head guard, is it? She may be stronger than I am in my second life – before I died.’

At least a First Class (一流Yīliú) martial artist!

The martial arts displayed by Sagong Lin is not one which the guards would know of, mainly since their one was developed over the years by guards through guts and sheer determination. What Sagong Lin just used was undoubtedly from a first class martial artists, handed down by eminent martial artists of well-known families or factions with a great name. Furthermore, with her martial arts, she can beat three or four head guards in an instant.

I waited with the observation of the guards awkwardly standing there. I found that the Sagong courier company is quite unusual.

'Sagong courier company… Sagong Lin… Is it a courier company run by immediate blood relatives of Sagong? If so, the achievements of these leaders above the head guards of this company will be comparable to those of most great factions.’

It is a wonder that such a place has not been famous in the central continent.

As I recalled my previous life, I was thrilled at learning many things I had never known before.

'If I travel in the central continent, I will have an encyclopedic knowledge someday.'
After a while, Sagong Lin returned with three martial artists also in a white outfit. They were all sharp looking men unlike Sagong Lin, and they all looked rather handsome.

I was a little boy, but since I knew my ugly figure, I was slightly discouraged.

A tallest martial artist in the front stared at me.

“Come with us!”

Then he turned his back while making a noise and the four all walked to somewhere. I followed them and soon came to a secluded vacant lot. As I looked around, the martial artist in white said.

“I heard from Lina that you are incomparably good for your age. You must be a child of a famous family, please state your background and the origin of your martial arts.”

When I heard him call Lina as a nickname, he seemed to be the eldest son of Sagong Family. Apparently, there were many similarities in appearance, and he was also a very handsome person. I replied bluntly.

“Is it necessary? I have given my name and my circumstances."

"We are sorry, but we don't have time to be careless enough to become involved in the situation of other great families in Wulin (武林 Wǔlín - literally "Martial Forest", figuratively refers to the community of martial artists). If you can’t reveal it, then we’ll have to drive you away, no matter how strong your martial arts is."

They seemed to think I was a child of a distinguished family, who ran away without permission. It would be even more objectionable since Sagong courier company is made up of blood relatives, even if other courier companies would reject me.

But I was left hard-pressed without an excuse.

The martial arts I had learned are the secret forms of Blue Dragon Martial Hall. But if any of them has an astute eye, it leaves nothing to be desired. It is also doubtful how much my excuse would hold up, even if I would say that I am the son of Lee Kwang who is called (三絶 Sānjué).

I was worried about what to do and decided to take a gamble.

“What I really learned is the core martial arts of my family. I am applying to become a guard because I cannot survive on what little expenses I have, after my beloved parents died."

Then the handsome man who had been questioning me for some time chuckled joyfully, still giving me a discerning look.

“We’ll find out. Hyun!”

One of the martial artists standing next to the handsome came forward. He also looked to be a member of the Sagong Family, but his main weapon was a sword. The handsome man with the many questions threw out wooden swords at both sides.

"Have a duel with Sagong Hyun for fifty seconds. We’ll find out where you come from this evaluation.”

I said, grabbing a wooden sword in the air.

“… You’re being rude, what’s your name?”

“Hmm? What an ambitious young fellow…”

The handsome man said indignantly and replied.

“I am Sagong Pae, the elder brother of Sagong Lin.”

Oh, that's why..

I grimaced my head as I chanced a rough guess.

‘Let’s do it.’

Although I have the body of a child whose bones are not fully developed yet, my memory of the martial arts training is still intact. In addition, the body is fully loose while coming through the mountains and forests. Except for the fact that I’m a little bit small, I thought I wouldn’t have had much difference in my skills.

I maintained a distance of one meter with Sagong Hyun.

We stared each other firmly and both of us started to attack.

The first offensive moves was lightly pursued by each other, and the next attack was greeted with a deadly blow. The flame popped like a ghost and it repeatedly plunged like a lightning bolt.

Kaaaang!

“Huh? Oh, no.”

It took only seven seconds to reach a quick conclusion. Thunder Speed Swordsmanship (雷靈劍法 Léilíng Jiànfǎ) I developed was as smooth as a snake, and it pierced through the gap and broke the wooden sword of Sagong Hyun. Soon after, I placed my sword on his adam’s apple, and an inexcusable victory was confirmed.

"Wow…”

“No way.”

There was a subtle voice of admiration from Sagong Lin. I felt a little flattered and then a little embarrassed from Sagong Pae'd exclamation.

'I think I have increased the absolute value of my Neigong further than before I died. Did I take it one step higher within the barn?'

“It ended so fast that I didn’t have a chance to display what my martial arts were.”

“Hmm… Yeah. I bet you have no rivals among your peers.”

'Uh, is he really saying that?'

I have lost a little steam in response to Sagong Pae's praise. I was expecting the development of an emotional flare up to be followed with an explosion of an inferiority complex, but he was surprisingly calm.

I thought I would play out a skillful duel with Sagong Pae next, but that assumption was way off the top of my head compared to the reality.

“Lina, you deal with him.”

“Yes, brother.”

“….”

I felt awkward, when I perceived Sagong Lin walking out holding a wooden sword.

'Why did you come out here?'

Embarrassed.

Of course, I thought Sagong Pae was intending to show off some of his exceptional skills.
It was hard to fight a woman, and when I entered the duel with Sagong Lin, I felt like something was about to happen.

“Doesn’t it make sense for her brother Sagong Pae to come out?”

Sagong Pae shook his head.

“No way. Lina is much stronger than me, so to measure your skills Lina must examine you herself of course.”

“….”

Sagong Pae calmly admitted that he was weaker than a woman, but none of the men standing next to him refuted his words. All of them were a testament that there was no hesitation in recognizing Sagong Lin as the best.

When I glanced at her, she was already in position. It was like a painting of beauty itself personified, in that elegant, solitary dark haired woman holding a wooden sword… warming up at her position. She told me with a hint of humour in her eyes.

“I look forward to working well with you.”

Her tone and attitude was full of half courteous words. So, I in turn, also returned the courtesy too.

“Yes, as do I.”

I felt a little nervous. I thought that I should do my best not to demean a woman.

Piing…

As the duel (對鍊 Duìliàn) began, each side’s swords clashed, and a dozen seconds whirled passed in an instant. While I tried to look for a gap within the raging fire, the power of Sagong Lin's sword was far more rigid and accurate than Sagong Hyun. Moreover, it was not easy to react recklessly as it contained heavy power in single strikes.

Kuung!

Ugh…

I felt my hands split and burst from the sword vibration when I tested out her powerful sword stroke head on once. Neigong which was infused within the sword of Sagong Lin was so strong that it caused a slight internal injury within me. It was surprising, but her Neigong was much higher than my current level of today.

Whilirick…

Suddenly, Sagong Lin’s body spun like a fluid vortex, and she pierced into dozen different directions like a phantom. I quickly used my body’s intuition to counter her attack, but it wasn’t perfect, so I was forced to stab out towards the lower part of her rib and the thighs.

When she placed her sword at my temple (太陽穴 Tàiyángxué – the dented spot of between ears and eyes), I could not help acknowledging my defeat.

“I lost.”

I felt ashamed.

By the third life, I felt strong enough not to be ignored, but I was still weak enough to lose to a woman. I knew there were more people in the world who were stronger than me, but it felt unfair.

However, the reaction of the martial artists in white was completely different. Especially, her brother, Sagong Pae, who was really shocked, and he cleared his throat.

“Hum, Hum … a hundred and fifty seconds against Lina. What a frightening little boy.”

“It’s amazing. How could you move like that at such a young age?”

“Excellent…”

What?

They seemed genuinely surprised to find that I withstood a hundred fifty seconds of Sagong Lin's attacks rather than the fact that I had just lost. In other words, her ability was much higher than I originally presumed.

Sagong Pae asked her.

"Lina. Do you know where that kid’s martial arts originates from?”

She stared at me with those gorgeous eyes when she heard the question.
Her eyes were so clear that I couldn’t breathe for a moment. At the same time, I felt a sense of ownership, that I wanted to make her some point mine, rather than a sense of embarrassment for her.

Soon she smiled a clear, curly smile.

“I don’t know. I think that what Baek Woong said is the truth.”

“Well, if you say so, then that's what it is.”

Sagong Pae said after a moment, patting my hair in a satisfied tone.

“Good! I accept you as a new guard of our Sagong courier company.”

Afterwards, I went to see Sagong Hwan, the owner of the company. He appeared to be in his fifties, a very grave figure. While listening to the explanations of Sagong Pae, Sagong Hwan was conspicuous in his eyes.

“What a great boy. Please work hard for our company from now on.”

“Yes, sir.”

Now, I have become an official guard.

I was given the emblem, clothing, along with weapons of a new guard, after the permission of Sagong Hwan. When I came out with my clothes, it seemed to be a little short in some places. But I had to thank him for the job since I knew it was a great way to making a living.

I met Sagong Lin again while I was walking to my room. She stared towards me as if she would have been waiting for me.

After a while I was startled.

[What do you have to do with Blue Dragon Martial Hall?]

“…!”

Sound Transmission (傳音 Chuányīn)!

I was once told that a person of above First Class (一流Yīliú) or Peak Class (絕頂 Juédǐng)
levels only could use Sound Transmission. It is used mainly by high class martial artists to transmit sound through the ears to someone who is in a faraway place without opening their mouth.

The advanced stage of martial arts, which I had only heard from the head teacher, Jin So Chung, was a level Sagong Lin appears to have surpassed. It was also proof that she fought looking down on me.

Moreover, she seemed to have noticed earlier that my Neigong was similar to what Blue Dragon Martial Hall practises. I replied calmly with desperate look on my face.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Is it …?”

She smiled like a clear ray of light reflecting of a flower, and then continued.

“I am not proud of the fact, but I was taught by Taishan Old Man, and he is a close friend of the teacher of Lee Kwang. When I had studied under Taishan, I had a chance to discern the martial arts of Lee Kwang.

“…!”

Taishan Old Man!

The name remains as the most mysterious one at present, and also in next thirty years. He is also famous for being the oldest member of Righteous Factions (正派 Zhèngpài), and for being considered one of the top ten martial artists. He is a great elder revered by all forces within Righteous Factions.

That’s why!
Sagong Lin is a masterpiece of relative uncommonness in a century!
It is no wonder that her brother, Sagong Pae and the rest of the Sagong Family are forced to defer to her.

Perhaps she was so talented as a woman that she had little to learn from within the Sagong Family, and she was perhaps recommended to become a disciple of Taishan Old Man.

In fact, Sagong Lin is one of the five most popular young successors in Wulin (武林 Wǔlín - literally "Martial Forest", figuratively refers to the community of martial artists) today!

I was in a duel with such an outstanding individual, but suddenly choked up with having dueled a gigantic figure. When I couldn’t say anything, she patted me gently on the cheek.

“I think that you have some reasons. When I had a duel, I realized that your character was not evil.”

“…Thank you.”

I realized that she had waited here with the full knowledge of my martial arts and had deliberately withheld it from her family.
If she had revealed the facts, she would have been immediately summoned by the master of Blue Dragon Martial Hall for an interrogation, and things would have started to twist like crazy for me.

However, I could become a guard because she took care of me and concealed the truth deliberately. She smiled brightly.

“I hope you can achieve what you want in the future.”

I saw her disappearing quickly at a fair distance. Suddenly it dawned on me…

Can I gain her affections?
Though the age difference is secondary, will the day come when I can talk to her properly?

…It would be impossible.
I remembered one more fatal flaw I had tried not to recall.

I am ugly.

Now that I am a child, I look less ugly because I still have my babyface.
But basically I am ugly.

Even though I would eventually grow up, my appearance would be below average at best.

“…If I build up a great deal of martial arts, what can I do about my appearance?"

I don’t have to date or marry Sagong Lin.
But as I thought of her whom I liked, I was reminded of my circumstances, I felt a sense of disenchantment over my life. I could do nothing about my ugly appearance, even though I would have the best martial arts in the world.

‘Let’s maintain the spirit.’

I shook my head and went into the room, while muttering the proverb that Jin So Chung said.

“It is not too late to think about it, after we become stronger.”

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Translator: Khan
Editors: T0ngan, Calvis

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