“We’ve given you time! How much longer are you planning to take!”
“A man can only be so shameless!”
“We have waited long enough!”
Hyun Jong’s face was a bit stiff.
“I know, but….”
At that moment, a man standing quietly in the back walked forward. As he stepped forward, everyone around fell silent and took a step back.
‘Is he the one in charge?’
Chung Myung’s eyes lit up as he looked at the person ahead.
The man had the typical appearance of a merchant. A slightly chubby face, dressed in fine clothes made of the most expensive silk adorned in elaborate patterns.
‘Looks like he has a lot of money.’
Chung Myung decided to listen as the man’s mouth opened to speak.
“Sect leader. Have you been well?”
“I didn’t think that pavilion owner Kong would come here in person.”
A soft smile crept onto the face of the man called Kong.
“I wish I could meet the sect leader under more favorable conditions. I truly didn’t want to climb Mount Hua, but I hope you understand there are far too many people urging me to do something.”
“And I apologize.”
Hyun Jong lowered his head slightly and bowed. Then, owner Kong opened his mouth with a different voice from before.
“But sect leader, you must also try to understand the feelings of others. The date of our contract has long since passed.”
The one called Kong tilted his shoulders back. In Chung Myung’s eyes, it was an arrogant gesture.
“We already know of Mount Hua’s difficult situation, and we’ve looked the other way on several occasions. Nevertheless, if you keep breaking your word like this, it will be difficult to overlook anymore.”
Hyun Jong couldn’t say anything.
Although he was trying to keep a peaceful face, Chung Myung noticed that the old man’s face was twitching subtly.
It was a natural reaction.
This man, the sect leader, looked after Mount Hua for years and now suffered from debtors because of what the past sect leader did.
“According to the contract, we could demand payment for breaking the contract right now.”
Owner Kong smiled and shook his head.
“We, too, have benefited from Mount Hua’s blessings for many years; therefore, we are hesitant to take such harsh actions.”
“We’ve already waited—”
The merchants around him protested, but the man silenced them with a cough.
“If we don’t know grace, we are nothing but animals. Don’t be blinded merely by the kindness you’ve shown them. It is thanks to Mount Hua’s graces and blessings that we can live so comfortably now. Don’t forget the work of your predecessors.”
As everyone understood, he smiled.
“So, we are going to give you a little more consideration. We will give you seven days from now. If you don’t repay the loan taken in seven days, then we’ll take the price as per the initial contract.”
“O-Owner Kong wait for a momen—”
Owner Kong quietly shook his head.
“No more. We need the money. We’ve already been as lenient as possible. If the money isn’t ready in seven days, we will confiscate Mount Hua as promised.”
Owner Kong turned his head at the sound that came out of nowhere and looked at Chung Myung covering his mouth.
“We’ve shown something unsightly in front of a child.”
Owner Kong said.
“This is all for today. Sect leader. I hope that we can exchange pleasantries and smile together next time we meet. Until then, farewell.”
As the man moved to leave, the other merchants followed behind him. Hyun Jong quietly raised his head to watch them pass; as if he had just survived an encounter with a fierce predator, he let loose a small sigh.
Frustrated and weak, this sigh seemed to carry an immense burden.
Chung Myung had his legs crossed and rested his chin on his hand.
“A merchant of Hua village?”
Chung Myung’s head was rattling back and forth as he kept thinking. Seeing that, the other kid moved back.
‘I don’t know if he’ll attack; it’s better to avoid it.’
The reason he was explaining this to Chung Myung was very simple.
After returning to the White Plum Blossom Boarding House with great anger, he called together all the kids from the shopping district who knew about Mount Hua’s condition. Finally, the one who answered his questions was this kid.
As a result, he explained Mount Hua’s state to Chung Myung.
“Hua village is the one right under Mount Hua, right?”
Jo Gul, who was listening in from the side, asked.
“Yes, Sahyung. I remember seeing it when I was peddling wares with my father.”
“The Mount Hua sect borrowed money from Hua village merchants?”
“I don’t think that’s….”
The kid scratched his head.
Although he was in Mount Hua, there was no way that third-class disciples would know about the sect’s finances. At best, they could guess what was happening.
“That man, Kong, is the owner of Tae Hua Pavilion in Hua village. It is the largest one in Hua village, and I heard that he is working on various businesses using it as a base. He is the most successful merchant in Hua village.”
“So, if Mount Hua needed to borrow money, he was the best person to borrow from….”
Jo Gul turned his head away as the color in his face turned a grim pale.
Chung Myung kept cracking his neck like a broken wood doll.
“Sajae! Calm down! Sajae!”
Jo Gul felt terrified as he saw Chung Myung seemingly lose himself in shock.
Of course, they couldn’t understand the reason for Chung Myung’s strange behavior.
Chung Myung, suddenly erupting with vitality, jumped from his seat and stared into the eyes of the other kid.
He rushed to the door with lightning speed, grabbed the kid by the collar, and asked.
“Is it true that he is the owner of Tae Hua?”
“So, the owner of Tae Hua loaned out money to Mount Hua and now he’s trying to confiscate this ruined place?”
“Calm down? Are you telling me to calm down?”
That bastard! Does he have any idea what Chung Myung was feeling?
Chung Myung released his grip on the kid’s collar and then scratched his head wildly.
“What’s wrong with you, Sajae?”
Chung Myung couldn’t answer that question at all. The reason was simple.
There was no way to explain it.
‘Tae Hua is supposed to belong to Mount Hua!’
Being a warrior of Mount Hua doesn’t mean that all worldly obsessions would be forgotten and neglected. Any sect without money would be unable to last regardless of their fame. Sects like Mount Hua especially needed money to sustain their massive size.
In the first place, the swordsmen of a sect focused solely on their personal growth and getting stronger. For such people, whose only focus is martial arts, it can be challenging to make money and provide for their families.
It requires a massive sum of money to feed such people. Therefore, Mount Hua employed several businesses in Hua village to work for them. One of those operations was Tae Hua.
But now, a business that belonged to Mount Hua was lending money to Mount Hua and trying to confiscate the sect for debt?
He couldn’t understand it.
Right…if what he knew didn’t match up with what they were saying, then something must have gone wrong!
“… Sahyung Jo Gul.”
Chung Myung motionlessly called, and Jo Gul approached him with curiosity and confusion in his eyes.
Chung Myung whispered something which only Jo Gul could hear, and Jo Gul’s eyes opened wide and stared back at him in shock.
“Can you get it for me?”
Jo Gul stuttered a bit.
“Ah, no, I can but—”
“Then go and bring it to me.”
“Did you think I was joking? Sahyung?”
“I–I’ll bring it.”
Jo Gul left the room with a nervous face.
‘What is he trying to do?’
Yoon Jong curiously watched the scene as he tilted his head; Jo Gul’s reaction was weird.
Before he could think too deeply, Jo Gul was already returning while carrying something.
With a subtle face, he delivered the item to Chung Myung.
‘No, clothing? But why would he need something like that out of the blue?’
Chung Myung, who took the clothes Jo Gul gave to him, quickly tossed aside the robes he was currently wearing.
He was fully dressed in black clothing, which held tightly to his body.
“W–what are you planning to do?”
“I should ask around.”
Chung Myung answered.
“If I ask the Sasuks, they wouldn’t give me a proper answer and will tell me that a kid has no business knowing such stuff.”
Obviously, because that’s the correct response!
“So, I will go and ask.”
A cold sweat gathered on Yoon Jong’s forehead as he began to understand where this situation was heading.
So far, all of Chung Myung’s antics were limited to Mount Hua. Therefore, although there were problems, it was possible to remedy any issues. If he headed down the mountain, though, what sort of problems could he cause?
‘H–he needs to be stopped.’
If he was lucky, he might find the information he wanted, but…
‘As if that would happen so smoothly!’
Considering Chung Myung’s brazen behavior, he would ask right away without considering who he is talking to. This could create an even bigger problem!
If he happens to cause an incident, then the aftermath of what he’s done would be uncontrollable.
If he couldn’t be stopped here, Yoon Jong would have failed in his duties. If the adults of the sect found out that Chung Myung caused an incident, they would hold Yoon Jong, the representative of the third-class disciples, responsible as well.
But how could he stop Chung Myung?
If he could be persuaded with words, then he would have already talked him out of it.
Yoon Jong, steeped in a cold sweat, opened his mouth.
“W–what are you going to do?”
“I am going to ask them directly.”
“And what if they don’t answer?”
“Would they not?”
Chung Myung titled his head.
“I guess that’s usually the case. Still, I am pretty sure they will give me an answer.”
As if, stop it, you crazy bastard!
Yoon Jong racked his brain trying to think of a solution as he desperately thought about things that would get him a beating if spoken aloud.
“You are a disciple, right?”
“You are a disciple of Mount Hua!”
Yoon Jong didn’t know why, but he felt like Chung Myung had a strong sense of pride in being a disciple of Mount Hua, so he planned on using that.
“A disciple shouldn’t do such things! We won’t be different from undisciplined groups if you do it!”
Chung Myung nodded deeply in agreement.
“You are right. A disciple shouldn’t do it.”
Clearly, it seemed to work. Yoon Jong’s face lit up with a ray of hope.
“But Sahyung! Listen up!”
“There is a Buddhist saying! If you meet a buddha, kill him and if you meet an ancestor, kill him!”
“So! Being a true disciple requires you to understand this!”
He draped the cloth around his face, masking his features, and then cried out proudly.
“Sometimes, you need to know when to break the law!”
What was this crazy guy even saying!
“I am going! To be a true warrior!”
Only then did Yoon Jong realize that stopping this man Chung Myung was impossible from the beginning.
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