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Tower of Myriad Immortals

4

Chapter 4: The Seedling of Hope

33

Joo-won paced his tiny room like a caged animal. Currently, his mind is a whirlwind of secrets and possibilities. The Tower of Myriad Immortals... just thinking about it made his heart race. It was like something out of a dream – a hidden paradise bursting with knowledge he never knew existed.

 

But now, back in the bleak reality of the Unforgiving Gorge, that knowledge felt more like a lead weight on his shoulders.

 

How was he supposed to keep something this huge a secret? And yet, blabbing about it could bring a whole world of trouble crashing down on his clan.

 

He flopped onto his bed with a groan.

 

"Great. I finally have the power to help, and I can't even use it properly."

 

Joo-won sat up. He had to be smart about this. Maybe he could introduce some of the plants or techniques as if he'd stumbled across them in the Gorge? He snorted at the thought. Yeah, right. Like anyone would believe he found miracle plants in this toxic wasteland.

 

His father's face flashed in his mind, and Joo-won's stomach twisted.

 

Han Ji-myeong wasn't just wise; he had a built-in lie detector that put bloodhounds to shame. One whiff of dishonesty, and Joo-won's whole plan would crumble.

 

"Come on, brain," Joo-won muttered, pacing again. "There's gotta be a way to explain all this without mentioning cosmic towers or magic dokkaebi."

 

He needed a story. Something believable, but vague enough to cover his tracks. As the gears in his mind churned, a tiny spark of an idea began to form. It wasn't perfect, but it might just be crazy enough to work.

 

Joo-won took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. It was time to face his father and set his plan in motion.

 

One way or another, things in the Unforgiving Gorge were about to change.

 

...

 

Joo-won's heart pounded as he raced towards his father. He threw his arms around him in a tight embrace. For Joo-won, it felt like decades since he'd last seen him, even though for everyone else, barely a moment had passed.

 

Han Ji-myeong stiffened in surprise before returning the hug. "What's gotten into you, son?"

 

Joo-won steeled himself. "Father, I've got news. Big news."

 

Ji-myeong's eyebrows shot up. "Oh?"

 

"I know this is going to sound crazy, but... I've received a message. From our ancestors."

 

His father's expression went from curious to skeptical in record time. "A message."

 

Joo-won nodded, words tumbling out in a rush.

 

"They've seen how we've suffered. They want to help us cleanse the Gorge of its poison."

 

Ji-myeong pinched the bridge of his nose. "Joo-won, I know things have been difficult, but—"

 

"Just hear me out!" Joo-won pleaded. He reached into his pocket, pulling out a small seed. "Look at this. It's not like anything we've seen before, right?"

 

His father leaned in, eyes narrowing as he studied the strange object. "Where did you get that?"

 

Joo-won swallowed hard. The lie tasted bitter, but he pushed on. "I've been having these dreams. Vivid ones. Our ancestors, they showed me how to use this seed to purify the land."

 

"Dreams," Ji-myeong repeated, his tone flat.

 

"I know how it sounds," Joo-won said quickly. "But what do we have to lose? If there's even a chance this could work, shouldn't we try?"

 

Ji-myeong was silent for a long moment, his gaze moving from the seed to his son's face and back again. Finally, he sighed. "You truly believe this will help?"

 

Joo-won nodded, hope rising in his chest. "I do. They showed me exactly what to do. It's worth a shot, isn't it?"

 

His father's shoulders slumped slightly. "I suppose we're not exactly drowning in options," he admitted. "Alright, Joo-won. Show me what these... ancestors... taught you."

 

Ji-myeong rubbed his temples, clearly torn between skepticism and desperate hope. "Alright," he sighed. "How exactly do we grow this miracle tree of yours?"

 

Joo-won launched into the explanation, his words tumbling out in an excited rush.

 

"We need to plant it where the poison's thickest. I'll activate it with my blood – yeah, I know, sounds weird – and keep feeding it regularly. Oh, and super important: no one eats the fruit. Like, ever. I have plans for that," Although in reality, Joo-won is still at a loss on how to deal with the poisonous fruit.

 

His father's eyebrows shot up. "That's... quite a process. You sure you're up for this?"

 

"Absolutely," Joo-won nodded, his face set with determination. "But we've got to keep it under wraps. If word gets out about the Lotus Victory Tree, we could be in serious trouble."

 

Ji-myeong's expression turned skeptical. "If that's what the ancestors said."

 

They wasted no time.

 

Joo-won led his father to the heart of the Unforgiving Gorge, where the very air seemed to shimmer with toxins. Carefully, he prepared the soil, his hands moving with a certainty that surprised even himself.

 

As Joo-won poured the divine water onto the seed, both father and son held their breath. For a heartbeat, nothing happened. Then –

 

"Holy—" Ji-myeong's eyes widened as the seed erupted into life. Within seconds, a sapling stood before them, its leaves an impossible shade of green that seemed to pulse with inner light.

 

Joo-won quickly pricked his finger, letting a few drops of blood fall onto the roots. The tree shivered, and the air around it visibly cleared.

 

"It's... it's actually working," Ji-myeong breathed, wonder etched across his face.

 

...

 

Weeks flew by like leaves in the wind, and the Unforgiving Gorge was living up to its name less and less each day. Where once there was only desolation, green shoots now pushed through the soil, reaching for the sky with stubborn determination.

 

Joo-won couldn't help but grin as he surveyed their handiwork. The poison was retreating, driven back by the Lotus Victory Tree's relentless assault. It wasn't just land they were reclaiming – it was hope.

 

"We've got time," he muttered to himself. "If we play this right, we can rebuild before the empire even realizes what's happening."

 

With the worst of the toxins gone, Joo-won knew it was time for the next phase. He fished out the Skyblossom seeds, marvels from the Tower that still made his heart race with excitement.

 

Shovel in hand, he attacked the earth with more enthusiasm than skill. His muscles screamed in protest, reminding him that willpower alone couldn't make up for his average physique.

 

Joo-won paused, wiping sweat from his brow. He knew he wasn't exactly hero material – no bulging muscles or overflowing mana core here. But he had something better: knowledge from the Tower and a stubbornness that refused to quit.

 

Just as he was about to dig back in, a familiar voice cut through his labored breathing.

 

"Young master, please," Han Tae-yang, the old butler, approached with a mixture of concern and amusement. "Let these old bones be useful. You'll work yourself into the ground at this rate."

 

Joo-won flopped onto the grass, chest heaving. Even at his age, Tae-yang made the work look effortless. It was a humbling reminder of how far he had to go.

 

"Thanks, Tae-yang," Joo-won managed between gasps. "Guess I'm not as tough as I thought."

 

The old butler's eyes crinkled with warmth as he patted Joo-won's shoulder. "Don't sell yourself short, young master. You've got potential that puts this old war dog to shame. My body's failing, thanks to that blasted poison. But you? You've got your whole future ahead of you. Just give it time and keep pushing."

 

Joo-won nodded

 

He may not be the strongest, but with the Tower's knowledge and people like Tae-yang by his side, he was ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead. The Han Clan's revival was just beginning.

 

As Han Tae-yang mopped his brow, his sharp eyes caught sight of the pouch in Joo-won's hand. "What've you got there, young master?"

 

Joo-won hesitated for a split second before opening the pouch. The Skyblossom seeds glimmered in the sunlight, almost as if they were winking at the old butler.

 

"A gift," Joo-won explained, the lie tasting less bitter each time he told it. "From our ancestors. Skyblossom, to help bring the clan back to its former glory."

 

Tae-yang's weathered face lit up with recognition. "Well, I'll be," he breathed, leaning in for a closer look. "Skyblossom seeds! Is it the real thing? I've heard tales, but never thought I'd see 'em with my own eyes."

 

Joo-won's eyebrows shot up. "You know about these?"

 

The old butler nodded, a faraway look in his eyes. "They say these beauties can purify the very air we breathe. Bring peace to a troubled mind, too."

 

"That's the idea," Joo-won said, a spark of excitement in his voice. "And – they're a key ingredient in an antidote. We might even be able to flush that poison out of your system, Tae-yang."

 

The old man's eyes widened, a flicker of hope dancing across his face. Then, to Joo-won's surprise, Tae-yang burst into laughter. It was a deep, hearty sound that Joo-won realized he hadn't heard in far too long.

 

"Well, would you look at that," Tae-yang chuckled, shaking his head in wonder. "The winds of fortune are finally blowing our way."

 

Just then, Tae-yang's daughter appeared, carrying water for the thirsty workers. Tae-yang's eyes softened as he watched her approach.

 

"You know what, young master?" he said, his voice warm with newfound hope. "Between those magic seeds of yours and that stubborn determination you've got, I'd say our clan's future is looking brighter by the minute."

 

Joo-won grinned, feeling the weight of responsibility settle more comfortably on his shoulders. They had a long road ahead, but for the first time in years, it felt like they were finally on the right path.

 

 

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