Heavenly Inquisition Sword (Novel) Chapter 3

C3. An Inevitable Path

Baek Miju, still feeling it wasn't enough, continued speaking.

"And since you're slow to think and talk, it's better if you don't say anything at all. Understood?"

"...Yes."

At that moment, Baek Miju's finger sank into Yeon Jeokha's collarbone.

"Ouch!"

"Didn't I tell you not to speak? Or did I?"

"Yes... you did..."

Yeon Jeokha replied, twisting his body with difficulty.

Baek Miju's face turned malicious, disliking his response.

"What? Are you mocking what I say now? And yet you keep talking?"

"Ah... Ah..."

Yeon Jeokha, with eyes full of anxiety, tightly closed his lips.

Shortly after, Baek Miju withdrew her hand.

"Now you understand. Answer respectfully when adults ask you questions."

"..."

The young Yeon Jeokha couldn't understand anything his aunt was saying.

She had told him to speak well, but also not to speak at all.

What was he supposed to do?

The more he thought about it, the dizzier he felt, as if he were about to faint. Yeon Jeokha shrank his head to avoid falling. Only then did his anxiety lessen a bit.

Yeon Seolju, the third daughter, watched him and laughed out loud.

"Ha, ha! He looks like a turtle. Little turtle, little turtle, hurry up and hide~."

"Hee hee!"

"Ha, ha!"

Yeon Mubaek, the eldest, and Yeon Seungbaek, the second, couldn't hold back their laughter either.

"Can't you stay quiet?"

Baek Miju scolded the children in a severe and formal tone.

The children's laughter faded away.

At that moment, Yeon Mudok, the chief steward, passing through the inner courtyard, showed a satisfied smile. Unlike the adult world, children from different mothers seemed to get along well. It was a good thing for the Yeon Family and the Waryong Mansion.

If the children turned against each other, who would take responsibility for the consequences?

'This is how they should grow up.'

While Yeon Mudok nodded his head, a servant came running from the distance.

Yeon Mudok noticed it was the servant he had stationed at the village entrance.

Had the guests finally arrived?

Yeon Mudok's face tensed with nervousness.

"Have they arrived?"

"Yes, I saw the carriage enter the village and ran to inform you. They'll be here soon."

"Understood. Return to your duties."

"Yes, sir."

The servant quickly departed.

Yeon Mudok checked his attire again and headed for the main gate.

Somehow, the news had already spread, and Yeon Muryong was also in the front yard.

"Leader, why have you come out?"

"I can't sit still knowing my brother is coming to visit us."

Yeon Mudok approached the leader, Yeon Muryong, and stood by his side.

"When the Sword Emperor visits us, just his presence will stir up all of Luoyang. Don't you have any desire to return to Murim, leader?"

"Mudok, it was I who prevented my brother from coming six years ago. Do you think I'll change my mind now?"

"But, wouldn't it be a shame to let this opportunity pass by?"

"Ha, ha, a shame?"

Yeon Muryong, looking at the distant sky, recited a poem with a melancholic smile.

In the empty mountain, no one is seen (空山不見人)
Only the echo of human voices is heard (但聞人語響).
The reflection of the sunset penetrates the deep forest (返景入深林)
And shines again on the green moss (復照靑苔上).

It is a poem by the Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei. Yeon Mudok, who had little knowledge of poetry, cautiously asked about the reference to seeing no one.

"Leader, are you still thinking of your late wife?"

"No, I just want you to understand that each person has their own path. Just because I've learned martial arts doesn't mean I have to live my entire life as a Martial Artist of Murim."

"But..."

Yeon Mudok left his sentence incomplete.

He felt it was a waste of his cousin and leader's talent, Yeon Muryong.

He was the most talented of the Yeon Family. Even after retiring from Murim, the Yeon Family continued to follow his movements with interest.

Everyone in the Yeon Family, including himself, wished for one thing. That Yeon Muryong would overcome his past wounds and make the Waryong Mansion one of the leading families in Murim.

But Yeon Muryong, watching the passing clouds, murmured to himself.

"Besides, my path is already decided."

Soon after, the heavy sound of the carriage and the twelve warriors echoed down the street.

Yeon Mudok hurried to the gate.

Yeon Muryong, walking behind him, stopped and looked back.

He saw the small, cozy Waryong Mansion.

At that moment, Baek Miju and the children came rushing out the courtyard gate.

A complex expression appeared on Yeon Muryong's face.

Each person has their own path.

You have to follow that path, whether you like it or not.

Suddenly, he felt a lump in his nose and his eyes filled with tears.

Yeon Muryong pinched his nose and turned around.

His heart, which had been boiling like lava, cooled rapidly.

From somewhere, noisy voices were heard.

Returning to reality, he looked up and saw Namgung Byeok and his family.

Yeon Muryong took a deep breath and walked firmly towards Namgung Byeok.

"Brother, I apologize for not visiting you sooner."

"Ha, ha! Come on, don't say such things. This is my wife and my children."

Namgung Byeok pointed to his wife and children with his hand.

"I've heard much about you. I'm Jang Haeun."

Jang Haeun greeted courteously, despite being the wife of the Namgung Family Leader. After hearing stories about Yeon Muryong in the carriage, she decided to show humility.

"Uncle, I am Namgung Cheon. And this is my younger sister, Namgung Yeon."

Namgung Cheon, the eldest, seized the opportunity to introduce his extremely quiet younger sister.

"Ha, ha, sister-in-law, it's a pleasure to meet you. And you too, children. You've grown so well."

Yeon Muryong smiled as he spoke.

Baek Miju brought the children forward.

"Honey! Don't you think you should introduce us and the children?"

Realizing his oversight, Yeon Muryong blushed.

"Oh! I got so excited I forgot. Brother, sister-in-law, this is my wife and my children."

Baek Miju stepped forward after Yeon Muryong's introduction.

"Forgive the delay, I was bringing the children. I'm Baek Miju."

Namgung Byeok and Jang Haeun courteously greeted Baek Miju.

After the adults exchanged greetings, Baek Miju gently pushed the back of Yeon Mubaek, the eldest of her children.

"What are you doing not greeting them?"

After the children from both families exchanged greetings, Yeon Muryong, with a somewhat tired face, said:

"Brother, sister-in-law, let the children play together and let's go inside."

"Agreed."

Namgung Byeok called his son Namgung Cheon and gave him a light warning.

"You are the eldest, so take good care of your siblings."

"Yes, don't worry and enjoy your conversation."

Namgung Cheon pounded his chest confidently.

"You are the one I worry about the most. Make sure no one gets hurt."

Namgung Byeok's eyes turned to a child standing in a corner. It was Yeon Jeokha, just six years old, with a face full of anxiety and hunched over. Namgung Byeok thought that Yeon Jeokha and Namgung Yeon shared a similar expression.

Is a child's personality really independent of their parents' love?

A sigh escaped his lips.

---------

Yeon Muryong's eldest son, Yeon Mubaek, was eager to go to the Namgung Family to learn martial arts. Therefore, he followed Namgung Yeon, only eight years old, trying to win her favor.

However, Yeon Mubaek's plan hit a snag from the start. Namgung Yeon did not speak at all.

Moreover, her small and adorable face showed no emotion.

Finally, Yeon Mubaek couldn't endure even half an hour before giving up.

Seeing his elder brother's failure, the second son, Yeon Seungbaek, decided to try. Yeon Seungbaek, who liked Namgung Yeon for her snow-white skin and delicate features, approached with a pure heart, unlike his elder brother who had a specific purpose. But no matter how many funny stories he told, Namgung Yeon did not laugh.

Moreover, Namgung Yeon constantly moved like an untiring young colt.

Following Namgung Yeon, who was trained in the Namgung Family's martial arts, was not an easy task for a simple child of the Waryong Mansion.

Yeon Seungbaek also grew tired of Namgung Yeon's lack of reaction. It was like talking to a wall. Yeon Seungbaek's pure affection for the pretty girl collapsed under the lack of energy.

Namgung Cheon was grateful that his two elder brothers tried to approach his younger sister. He hoped their efforts might open Namgung Yeon's heart a bit.

However, that too didn't last long.

One boy got tired of talking alone, and the other was defeated by Namgung Yeon's energy.

Namgung Yeon, left alone, showed a relieved expression as she scampered around the Waryong Mansion.

Namgung Cheon, feeling sorry for his sister, tried to accompany her, but he also failed. Yeon Seolju, nine years old, stuck to him like a shadow and didn't let go.

"Hey, is it true your nickname is 'Blue Sky Sword'? Do you face and kill your enemies in duels?"

"W-what? Who told you that?"

"They say that's what happens in hero novels."

"In the novels?"

"Yes."

"Then, I guess so. I don't know."

Namgung Cheon replied distractedly while turning his head in search of his sister. But Namgung Yeon, who had been sitting in a corner of the yard a moment ago, was no longer in sight.

Although there were guards in the Waryong Mansion, and she couldn't leave the mansion alone, he was still worried.

Moreover, the little girl named Yeon Seolju stuck to him so closely that he couldn't search for her.

"Please, tell me stories of Murim. Yes?"

'Ah... I lost.'

Finally, Namgung Cheon gave in and had to tell all his experiences in Murim to Yeon Seolju.

By the time he finished telling the stories, the sun was already setting.

---------------

The young Yeon Jeokha was afraid of the Waryong Mansion.

His father was affectionate but didn't spend much time with him. Most of the time, he spent with his aunt.

Yeon Jeokha still didn't understand the difference between his mother and his aunt. But he knew his aunt was a frightening person. She always scolded him, and it hurt every time she did.

At some point, Yeon Jeokha began to look for ways to escape the Waryong Mansion.

Then he found a dog hole in the back shed.

Long ago, one of the guests staying in the back shed had a big dog. The hole in the shed connecting to the outside was made by that dog.

The only people who knew about it were the guest, the dog, and Yeon Jeokha. That guest left with his dog last year. Since then, the hole became Yeon Jeokha's special place.

Today, Yeon Jeokha also stood in front of the hole.

The main and back gates were guarded by adults, so he couldn't leave at will.

But the hole was different.

No one guarded it, no one blocked it. That small hole was entirely his.

Yeon Jeokha let out a long sigh of relief without realizing it.

He always came here when he wanted to escape his aunt's gaze. His eyes, his legs, and his heart no longer trembled.

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