“Don’t look at me with that face. I know that what I’m doing is foolish.”
Yu Jong-San waved his hands as if he was annoyed.
“Look here, owner Kong.”
“You aren’t from Hua-Um.”
Owner Kong’s face went blank.
“You arrived later and are the son-in-law of the man who owned the pavilion previously. You don’t understand what Mount Hua means to those who were raised in Hua-Um.”
Owner Kong yelled.
What is this new shit? Why does it matter if he wasn’t born in Hua-Um?
“Look here, owner Yu.”
“Ahh. Enough. I already know what you will say.”
Yu Jong-San took a deep breath.
“I know that in a world where everything is money, even Hua-Um is for sale.”
Owner Kong looked at the man with a puzzled face. He wondered what would be said next.
“But I am a person of Hua-Um.”
“… and what does that have to do with this?”
“Those who are born and raised here grow up listening to the legends and tales of Mount Hua. We are raised being told that we must enter Mount Hua and become great martial arts masters, our names echoing across the world. It is still revered even for those of us who lack talent and can never enter. That’s how great Mount Hua was, and we grew up listening to those legends and how they protected not just the world but us as well.”
Owner Kong tilted his head. Where did this nonsense suddenly come from?
“It isn’t just me. My father and my grandfather also grew up like that. Mount Hua is the pride of Shaanxi and of Hua-Um. And…”
Yu Jong-San scratched his head and spoke.
“Not for me, but it was a source of pride for my father and grandfather.”
“… so, what do you mean?”
“But what does it make me if I am willing to destroy Mount Hua for the simple sake of money? When I enter the afterlife, will my father leave me in peace? I will be beaten for days and days like when I was a child.”
A low laugh broke out.
When Owner Kong turned his face, the laughter died down, and the others lowered their heads.
“So? For these sentiments, you are giving up a fortune?”
“Giving up what? Didn’t you hear the sect leader say he would give it back later?”
“And you believe that?”
“There is no reason not to believe. What are we going to do with that money anyway?”
Yu Jong-San spat on the floor.
“A person like you will take the money and move away. There will be plenty of ways to spend that money; if you go to places like Hangzhou, then you’ll be able to play around without any worries. But I’ve spent my whole life in Hua-Um, where will I go with the money I earn? Should I spend it all on alcohol? That’s not very fun for me.”
Yu Jong-San smiled.
It wasn’t a funny situation. He climbed the mountain enamored at the thought of receiving a large fortune. He was exhausted and wanted his money, but what was he saying now?
‘Maybe I’ve gone mad.’
He would never do this in his right mind. Yu Jong-San knew that.
“You will regret it.”
“Of course, I’ll regret it. Damn it! Do you think I am saying this because I don’t know I will regret it? I know better than you! Of course, I’ll regret it!”
Yu Jong-San shouted.
“But it would be far more unpleasant to ruin Mount Hua with my own hands!”
Owner Kong looked at Yu Jong-San, confused.
The man was taking deep breaths as he got too excited.
“Look here, owner Kong. I can make enough money to provide for myself. If I protect Mount Hua now, I may get my money back later. Then I can take it and live a decent life as always. But if Mount Hua is destroyed, I will have to live in regret each day, and every time I see my money, I will be reminded of what I had done. I don’t want to live like that.”
Owner Kong clenched his teeth.
‘Has he lost his mind?’
He couldn’t understand what this man was talking about. But…
‘There is no need to understand.’
Why should he stop a man who was walking down a pit of fire with his own feet? Just one person changing his mind wouldn’t change the situation.
“Do whatever you want to. It won’t change anything if you do it alone.”
“Who said he was alone?”
Owner Kong turned his head at it.
Seo Mun-Jong walked up and stood next to Yu Jong-San.
“What are you doing?”
“Can’t you see?”
Owner Kong frowned.
But it wasn’t just that one man. Perhaps the words of Yu Jong-San were the trigger; five of the twenty people stood next to him.
“Oh, my god.”
Owner Kong shook his head.
‘When have I ever seen such pathetic people?’
How could people who claim to be merchants make such stupid choices?
Owner Kong controlled his expression.
‘If it wasn’t for Mount Hua, they would have never made such a choice. I suppose that’s how truly absolute their influence is here.“
If you’re swayed so easily by your emotions, you won’t be able to make the right judgments. Disrespecting the opponent was something a merchant should never do. It was the right time to think about the potential of Mount Hua, which was being displayed right now.
Owner Kong looked at the people who went to the other side. Everyone was showing signs of regret, yet they looked oddly refreshed.
Are they proud of not abandoning the sect till the very end?
This is only meaningful while Mount Hua exists. Even if the payment is postponed, Mount Hua won’t be able to afford to pay the rest of the merchants. They’ve lost out on a fortune due to a moment’s misjudgment.
Owner Kong decided that and asked.
“Is there anyone else who thinks otherwise?”
The others looked at Hyun Jong and then shook their heads.
Owner Kong smiled.
“I didn’t realize that the name of Mount Hua was still so great. But that is all. The rest of us have no intention of delaying the payment date, so return to us the money we lent you.”
Hyun Jong smiled. His eyes weren’t looking at Owner Kong but the ones behind him.
“Is there really no one else here willing to help us?”
When there was no answer, Hyun Jong nodded.
“Then, it is unavoidable.”
“Don’t rush. Owner Kong.”
Kong Mun-Yeong flinched.
Hyun Jong’s voice was soft, but there was a force he couldn’t resist.
Hyun Jong looked around at the merchants with Yu Jong-San, who smiled brightly.
“Still, it is enough that there are a few people who would side with Mount Hua. Doesn’t that mean that the world hasn’t yet abandoned Mount Hua?”
Owner Kong couldn’t say anything, and Hyun Jong loudly called.
“Yes. Sect leader!”
Un Am bowed his head and walked off quickly. Seeing that, owner Kong frowned.
‘Does he really have it?’
It couldn’t be.
Just because owner Kong had tricks up his sleeve, that didn’t mean the sect leader could do the same and receive a strong backing. If there was, the information would have certainly entered his ears.
Was it a bluff?
No, that didn’t make sense either. You can only bluff when something is in the background to fall back on; the current Mount Hua couldn’t afford such a dangerous bluff.
Un Am returned before owner Kong could finish organizing his thoughts. He went alone but now came back with three people.
The people seemed to be of the same age as Un Am, which meant they were elders. One of them was bringing a large box.
“Sect leader. We brought it.”
Hyun Jong pointed ahead.
“Put it down
The box was placed on the floor.
Owner Kong looked down at the chest, then back up and asked.
“There is a fortune in that box, check for yourself.”
Owner Kong looked at the box with suspicious eyes.
‘I don’t think he is playing with me.’
The Hyun Jong that he knew wasn’t a sly man who would joke in this situation. So, was there money in this box?
Various thoughts came to his mind, but now wasn’t the time to think. A box of money was right in front of him, so why bother thinking about it?
Owner Kong approached the box as if possessed. And slowly opened the lid.
He narrowed his eyes and checked what was inside.
Were the riches these books?
“Sect leader? Are you messing with us right now?”
“Would I do such a thing? I am sure I have what you wanted.”
“What we wanted?”
“You will know once you read it.”
Owner Kong calmed his emotions and pulled out one of the books. He then began to read the contents in it.
The sound of pages being turned at a rapid pace. His face gradually crumpled and changed various shades of color as each page was turned.
Owner Kong’s face completely changed, so the merchants behind him slowly approached.
“What is that?”
“Let us see it too.”
When he didn’t answer, they glanced at the box. After confirming that several books were inside, they too reached out for them.
“What is this…?”
Each one who checked the contents grew nervous and soon became suspicious.
“Aren’t these ledgers?”
Hyun Jong nodded his head.
“It looks like old ledgers, so why are you bringing it out now…?”
Hyun Jong smiled.
“The ledgers you are looking at now were created by Mount Hua for the management of our businesses.”
“… huh? What?”
Hyun Jong narrowed his eyes.
“Owner Kong. Did you check it?”
Hyun Jong’s voice resounded clearly.
“These ledgers contain information proving that the ownership of the Hua-Um businesses which you are running belongs to Mount Hua.”
“Ah, no. What do you mean? Sect leader?”
Hyun Jong firmly cut off their words. And he opened his mouth to those who hadn’t come to their senses.
“Mount Hua has been so kind to you. But to think that you would repay our kindness like this. No matter how good Mount Hua is, we aren’t the kind to show kindness to rats who bite their own masters.”
Hyun Jong spoke out sharply.
“Therefore, based on these ledgers, Mount Hua will confiscate not only the businesses you have but also the property that you have accumulated under the name of the business.”
A bolt of lightning cracked through the dry sky, quickly crushing down their dreams.
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