TN: Hwasan means volcano. Ju Seo-Cheon is pronounced: Jew Saw-Chon. The ‘on’ in chon is pronounced like the ‘on’ in ‘Turn on the lights’.
His eyes felt as though engulfed by a flood and he couldn’t open them at all.
Gathering all his strength, he managed to open it halfway and couldn’t make it move any more than that.
His mouth was as dry as sand and he tried to speak but what came out was a sound closer to a moan.
“Elder….if you go….like this…”
His sight was already hazy and he couldn’t see anything properly.
It seemed like someone was calling out to him but he couldn’t clearly make out what they were saying.
Ju Seo-Cheon mumbled his name to himself and looked back on his life. The first memory that surfaced was of himself wandering around as an orphan and being lucky enough to enter his master’s sight, allowing him to join the Hwasan sect.
It was indeed luck.
The Hwasan sect was a prestigious ancient faction, famous for its sword styles.
From his perspective as an orphan that had lost both parents, it was something that was impossible to come across even if one were looking for it.
And so, since then, he lived, grateful to his master and as disciple of the Hwasan sect and as it was a place where nothing was normal, he was able to rise to the top of the sect as a Hwasan Elder.
‘I was lucky.’
The name ‘Hwasan’s Elder’ was never a light one. It was a position of great authority.
As the name carried sufficient weight, it was not a position one could easily climb to and he received a lot of respect from other disciples because of that.
Needless to say, to reach that place required achievements in Martial arts, intellect, also, one’s reputation in society was important.
It meant one had to have great reputation and ability. One could never climb up the ranks by just experiencing what everyone else experiences… but there were always exception to the rules.
‘I didn’t expect a man like me to become an elder.’
He was luckily inducted into the Hwasan sect but that luck wasn’t because he had remarkable talent or achievements.
He wasn’t incompetent nor could anyone say he was losing a few screws. He lived inconspicuously, being like everyone else.
Of course he had never made a desperate effort to become more or desire to have more.
He didn’t have such desire in the first place. But in order not to let down his master that allowed an orphan like him into the sect, he did not loaf around.
It was really just a life of ‘winging it’, a very ordinary one.
So, how did someone like him become an elder?
The answer lay in the era that knew no peace. For decades, there had been numerous deadly wars. There were so many that the future generation named the era, the Warring Age.
It was impossible to count how many outbreaks of wars and truces there had been in the past decade.
The Hwasan sect was also caught in the whirlpool of war and many disciples lost their lives.
The disciples of the junior elders and the senior elders, and of course his seniors in the sect, the third generation disciples also suffered damage from it.
As the Hwasan sect was embroiled in this conflict, their members had to be replaced many times and when the conflict was over, they realized they didn’t have any more talents to serve as elders.
Although he wasn’t dull-witted, he was average at best but he was able to climb up and become an elder.
The seat of a Hwasan elder was not one that could be attained just by having connections in the sect but that didn’t mean one did not need to be connected to the sect.
Even if one had great achievements in martial arts but barely had any relationships with people in the sect, it would be problematic as they would face opposition.
Therefore, the ones at the top decided to look for a trustworthy person and he was forced to serve as an elder but the lucky one here was still him. However, even after he became an elder, nothing really changed.
This was around the time when the Warring Age was coming to an end and so there wasn’t much threats to their lives.
From time to time, he helped with sect matters or helped other elders but otherwise he just stayed inside of Hwasan.
The other elders decided to train the younger generation but he didn’t. He didn’t receive any disciples.
He didn’t think he knew enough to teach someone else.
‘And I only advanced just recently…’
He began to find pleasure in Martial arts during the latter parts of his life. After he became an elder, he was able to access and read numerous Martial arts books in the sect.
And that was why he was somehow able to advance in his position but it was too late.
Perhaps it was because he instinctively felt his death and so he was able to gain enlightenment.
‘It has not been a meaningful life…’
When he looked back on it, it was really a dull life. He never fell in love like others, prominence in martial arts was beyond his ability and he had never held a woman’s hand.
He had also wanted to make a reputation for himself in the Murim world but he wasn’t capable enough. It was one of the most chaotic times in Murim history. There were many stories around of heroes and villains.
But he was neither of them.
He was slowly getting weaker. He wanted to just die like this. The people watching him die were just unrelated people that didn’t even know his name.
They were watching an elder of the sect enter his eternal sleep. Nothing more than that.
He wished he had a family. He’d lived alone for a long time. He began to remember his thoughtful master that had departed early from the world.
He could once again see the trustworthy back of the Age of War’s hero. He saw those beautiful people he could never reach.
His consciousness was sinking into a bottomless abyss.
‘I may have longed for that kind of life…’
*I’m calling it martial arts (direct translation is military arts).
* This is just a teaser, I am NOT translating this novel right now. I was interested after seeing the webtoon and wanted to make an NU page.