I Became the Youngest Disciple of the Martial God
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
—Getting rolled around like a dog for a year is better than isolating oneself and training for ten years.
That was one of the phrases that my master, the Strongest Under the Heavens, Baek Nogwang, often said.
It simply meant that there could be no growth without hardship.
Of course, Master also said that hardship wasn’t a simple obstacle in one’s life but rather a “situation that could be used to motivate oneself.”
—What do you mean?
—Of course, the attitude of the one listening is much more important than the one who is teaching. Even if you receive the greatest advice in the world, what’s the point if you let it go in one ear and out the other?
—You’re off topic again...
Master, who would’ve normally struck me over the head at this point, instead gave a slight smile.
—People can become whatever they want to be if they put their mind to it. Talent is secondary.
—A clear goal. Unshaking determination. Just because one wants something doesn’t mean they can obtain it. In the same way that someone who loses their family doesn’t instantly become a spirit of vengeance, failure and despair do not always become stepping stones for success. I have seen the highs and lows of humanity during my stay here, but a person’s fate is not the place for calculations.
Although I didn’t fully understand my master’s words, I still accepted a few points. I was living proof, after all.
—I am sometimes envious of the weak, for they do not have to seek out hardship.
—However, youngest, do not hurry. Enjoy the time you are weak.
Master seemed to want to end the conversation here, but I had more questions I wanted to ask.
The words Master had just said clearly came from his own experiences. It was advice one couldn’t give unless they had experienced and realized it themself.
—Then, has Master also suffered through such hardships?
At my question, Master smiled and began to talk about his past.
And I was surprised. The Strongest Under the Heavens, Baek Nogwang, my master...
He had started as a slave.
The Gem Mountains.
One of the Four Forbidden Areas of The Empire.
As they stepped into this danger-ridden area, Arzan Winter suddenly had a thought.
Why am I here? Is it because of my master’s orders?
That was probably the most significant reason. The master of the mansion, Lucia Bednicker, had told her to keep Luan Bednicker safe.
Lucia was someone worthy of her respect.
Of course, Lucia’s public perception wasn’t good.
Although she was one of the Lord of Blood and Iron’s many wives, she practically held no influence within House Bednicker...
And although she was of a royal bloodline from a fallen nation, she was treated like a fallen noble from the outskirts. Unlike the other wives, she couldn’t receive any support from her own family.
As a baseline, one needed great offspring to exercise influence within House Bednicker, but Lucia’s one and only son was talentless and was looked down upon by not just House Bednicker but by the Great Houses as a whole.
House Bednicker, called the Two Wings of The Empire, was the house with the best reputation among the Great Houses.
Arzan couldn’t dare to imagine the mockery Lucia had surely endured.
But even so, Lucia had never faltered.
Even while wearing worn-out clothes like a servant girl, her actions still held class, and she always minded her manners even while filling her plate with bread and soup.
In some sense, Arzan might have felt a sense of kinship with her.
Even though they were in similar situations, Lucia hadn’t given up. For this reason, she had held a sense of interest and expectation for Lucia’s one and only son.
But that all came crashing down the moment she met him.
Arzan stopped moving.
The knights walking a little ways ahead looked back with an expression that said, Again?
Luan Bednicker was sweating profusely from head to toe.
“Let’s, huak, take a rest...”
“Understood,” Osel said in a displeased tone.
A moment later, Luan fell to the dirt floor.
He was still of the Bednicker blood, but why was it? Why, from this boy, could neither his father’s dignity nor his mother’s class be seen? At least he looked like them.
...Well, even that couldn’t be seen in a good light as he dropped to the floor and spread his limbs.
The knights all said a few words as they looked at Luan struggling like an old man.
“We’re going slower than expected.”
“At this rate, we might not get there within the given time.”
“It’s truly infuriating. Is that thing really the family head’s...”
Although it could be said that they were mumbling, they weren’t really that quiet.
Arzan looked at Luan, but it seemed he didn’t hear them, given his expression didn’t change.
“Young master, are you okay?”
“Yeah. I think I’ll be fine after I rest for a bit.”
Although it sounded like he was lying, it had proven true.
Oddly enough, even though he would pant like he was about to die, he always recovered very quickly and then hastened his steps.
Maybe because he didn’t want to cause trouble for others, or maybe because he had his own sense of pride... only Luan could say.
But Arzan was quite proud of Luan because she knew just how terrible this foolish young master’s stamina was.
His body had been dulled after living a lazy and useless life for the last year. Just running had to be difficult, but he was climbing a mountain at the speed of the knights.
Although he had to take the occasional break like this, Luan was acting much more tenaciously than she had expected.
Of course, not knowing these facts, the knights only looked at Luan with disgust.
Why did he suddenly change?
As the butler of the mansion and Luan’s teacher, Arzan had tried everything she could to fix this immature young master.
Most of that effort had produced no results, and she had even ended up committing a crime that a servant must never commit.
That had been two weeks ago.
From what she’d heard, Luan had changed about a week ago, meaning it was right after he woke up after falling unconscious.
...Maybe my education finally showed results.
Arzan thought that might be the case, but she also felt a little uneasy.
Though she was making a fuss about it, as an educator, she felt a sense of accomplishment at seeing tangible results.
“Fuu... Done. Shall we go?”
While she’d been thinking that, Luan had gotten up.
Although his sweat hadn’t even dried, it looked like he had recovered a bit of strength.
Or maybe he was just acting tough.
As a servant of the mansion, Arzan couldn’t ignore that possibility.
“Young master, you can rest for a little longer.”
“Hmm? That won’t do. What if we don’t arrive in time?”
So he had heard them...
“It’s fine. If it really comes to that, I will take you myself.”
“I will carry you on my back.”
“That’s a bit...”
Luan hesitated. He seemed to hate the proposition.
“Let’s just keep going for now. I don’t think I’ll need to rest before lunch now.”
Surprisingly, it was Osel who said this, not Arzan.
“Of course. I’m getting used to walking through the mountains now.”
Osel smirked, and the rest of the knights also showed varying reactions of ridicule.
Arzan didn’t need to worry if he could hear them or not this time. They were all but laughing directly in his face.
Even so, Luan showed no change in his emotions, and Arzan felt a sense of incongruity at this. The Luan she knew had no such resistance to mockery.
“Then we’ll go to the next destination without rest, so if he can’t move anymore, you’ll have to pick up his slack, butler.”
* * * * *
[Translator – Jreaming]
[Proofreader – Gorm]
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* * * * *
How much time remained before lunch?
Pulling out her watch from her pocket, she checked and found that lunch was approximately two hours away.
This will be difficult.
Even if Luan pushed himself, an hour would be his limit. His body wouldn’t be able to handle anything more than that.
Arzan contemplated this issue deeply.
She thought about how she could execute this order without damaging Luan’s feelings.
Since he didn’t like getting carried, what if she supported him from the side? What if she spoke more forcefully to him? She wished she had learned a bit of magic, for situations like this...
However, in the end, these worries proved unnecessary.
The first to realize this was Arzan.
It was natural since she was the one who continued to look at her weak young master who might fall over at any moment.
Luan was panting just like before.
An unnatural amount of steam was coming off his body, and his face looked like he might just collapse.
Just a little longer.
Arzan had planned to intervene when Luan reached his limit and stumbled or fell over. Even he wouldn’t mind her helping him right before his face hit the dirt.
Oddly, though... Luan didn’t fall over. In this dangerous state where it wouldn’t be strange for him to collapse, Luan continued to walk.
He might fall over at any moment. He should be at his limit.
...An hour had already passed since she had first thought that.
As if her preparing to reach out with her hand to help him had been unneeded, Luan didn’t stop.
The knights also began to feel that something was off.
They had expected him to have already started to rely on Arzan, and so they looked at each other with surprise when they saw him still walking on his own.
“Young master, are you okay?” Arzan asked again.
Luan didn’t seem to have the strength to answer because he just lightly nodded.
Arzan nearly said, Please tell me if you are tired, but she closed her mouth instead.
She felt that he would take it as an insult if she did say that.
In any case, since Luan was no longer baggage, the group continued swiftly.
For the first time in a while, they were able to pick up their pace.
Despite maintaining a steady pace in their travels, they stopped before the lunch break, before the two hours had passed.
The terrain had changed.
Looking at the surroundings, Arzan said, a little flustered, “Is this the only path?”
It was a cliff face. The path was exceedingly narrow, and below them was a direct fall to their deaths.
Arzan instinctively turned back and met Luan’s eyes.
Luan was still panting, but he gave a quick gesture with his chin.
“What are you doing? Let’s go.”
“Will you be all right?”
“Of course. I’ve run down this path a thousand times.”
That was a refreshingly typical lie. He hadn’t told one in a while.
Arzan didn’t say anything. There was nothing she could do here.
Only the knights knew this path.
Their formation changed. Rather than Luan being at the very end, two knights were stationed behind him. Just in case the worst-case scenario occurred.
The moment the knights took their first step onto the path, bits of rubble fell down.
“This is pretty high.”
The knights turned to look at Luan.
“Please be careful, young master. A misstep won’t end with one or two broken bones.”
Arzan couldn’t tell if they were really worried about him or just making fun of him again. She hadn’t had an eye for these things since long ago.
Regardless, Luan’s expression didn’t suggest he took it as mockery.
Arzan let out a sigh as she continued to walk.
...At that moment, she heard the sound of something crumbling.
She quickly turned around to look, but all she saw was Luan falling down the cliff. It happened before she could even react.
She was a step too late. That was all Arzan could think even as she reached out with her hand.
At that moment, Luan’s hand unexpectedly reached out at lightning speed.
His hand grabbed a boulder that was jutting out of the cliff face. He was holding on.
“Are you okay? I will—”
“Stop! It’ll collapse!”
At Osel’s words, Arzan pulled her hand back.
She could see that there was a crack in the stone. If she tried to help and made a mistake, they would both fall.
Although the cliff was very high, if she could cover Luan as they fell, they wouldn’t die.
Injury would be unavoidable, though.
“I told you to stop,” Osel warned her again, his voice low. “Do you wish to kill us all?”
“You say too much. It is very high, but it’s not high enough that we will die if we fall.”
“Of course, but we won’t be able to avoid injury. I don’t know about you, but the area below this is dangerous. We don’t know if there is a path back up here either.”
“Then are you supposing we leave young master here to die?”
“It’s fine, butler.”
That was Luan’s voice.
His sweat-drenched body was shaking as he held on to the rock. He looked like he would fall below the cliff at any moment.
“I’ll get up by myself, so get ready to run.”
A moment later, Luan’s body shot upward.
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