No one was able to speak.
It was because of the declaration which came out of Hyun Jong’s mouth. Those who understood what it meant couldn’t speak, and those who had yet to grasp the situation couldn’t open their mouths in such a heavy atmosphere.
“W-what are you saying? Sect leader?”
A commotion broke out.
The merchants screamed until their faces turned red, but Hyun Jong didn’t change his expression. A cold expression they had never seen from him was looking down on the merchants.
“It is as I said.”
“We don’t understand what is happening….”
It was then.
Owner Kong said in a cold voice, which froze the heated crowd where they stood.
Hyun Jong and Kong Mun-Yeon locked eyes as electricity seemed to crackle between them.
“Tell Me. Owner Kong.”
The attitude had not changed, but something more had. Hyun Jong was no longer the weak pushover pretending to remain calm; even Owner Kong felt stifled at the sect leader’s change.
“This joke has gone too far.”
“A joke, you say?”
Their eyes stayed locked together, each trying to overwhelm the other. Hyun Jong typically would have softened his gaze, but he didn’t back down at this moment.
“I am sorry, but the sect leader of the great Mount Hua doesn’t joke.”
Hearing that, owner Kong spoke.
“Certainly, according to the ledgers, most of the businesses of the Hua-Um merchants come under Mount Hua, and if it was true that the businesses were taken over, then you can surely confiscate them.”
“You’re well aware of the situation.”
Owner Kong smiled. But this was a different smile. It was as if he was trying to fake it.
“Isn’t that only if the ledger is legitimate?”
Hyun Jong kept staring without saying a word. And Owner Kong continued.
“How can you prove if these books which sprouted up out of nowhere are genuine?”
Hyun Jong narrowed his eyes.
“Are you saying that Mount Hua faked these documents?”
“Mount Hua would never do such a thing.”
Owner Kong took a step back.
“But couldn’t Mount Hua be deceived by some charlatan? We can’t trust them unless they are verified.”
“That is common sense!”
The other merchants yelled.
Hyun Jong, who watched them, nodded slowly and then looked at Hyun Yeong.
“What do you think?”
“There is truth to their words.”
Hyun Yeong answered without a change in his expression, which delighted the merchants.
“What should we do?”
“Sect leader, the focus of this discussion is wrong.”
Hyun Yeong smiled.
“It isn’t our business to determine if the ledgers are genuine or not. In such cases, isn’t it the government which makes such determinations?”
Hyun Yeong continued to speak.
“That’s why half of the books were already entrusted to the officials in Hua-Um to check their authenticity. If the books get verified, the officials will go and confiscate their businesses.”
Owner Kong’s eyes widened at that.
“Y-You already gave them?”
“Right. Why? Is something wrong?”
Hyun Yeong’s casual words made owner Kong feel like he’d fallen into a frozen lake. A cold sweat began to trickle down his back.
If he was in Hua-Um, he could have done something, but they were now on Mount Hua, and in their absence, the officials could rush in and take over their workplace. He had no way of dealing with them while away.
Owner Kong glared at Hyun Jong.
Hyun Jong had planned this from the beginning and gathered them here; showing the ledgers directly to the merchants simply delayed the time. Everything was going according to what he wanted.
“When did you leave the ledgers to the officials?”
“Around two days ago.”
Owner Kong gnashed his teeth.
Two days was more than enough to verify the ledgers. It was said that half of them were given to the officials, but they would certainly want to validate all of them. It was clear, the ledgers currently in the box must have already been validated.
In other words, at the bottom of Mount Hua, officials were checking the authenticity of the ledgers and were preparing to confiscate the businesses.
Mount Hua helped protect the world for generations. If the Sect leader himself requests something by utilizing the sect’s connections, isn’t it obvious how fast things would happen down there?
Perhaps there was already a commotion down there.
Owner Kong yelled in an angry voice.
However, Hyun Jong was no longer the generous person he was a few days ago.
“Keep your voice down.”
Hyun Jong’s whole body was giving out a strong force. Even Owner Kong, who was rarely surprised, ended up bowing to him.
The name of Mount Hua.
The energy now raging from this man showed the worth of that name.
“You have no right to speak.”
Hyun Jong stared at the merchants with cold eyes. Some, unable to overcome the pressure, lowered their heads.
“A true friend is one who reaches out when things are difficult. There is no need to show kindness to those who held a sword to our throats during trying times. Go back. By the time you return, everything will already be over….”
Hyun Jong sighed.
“It is impossible to ignore how you have treated us, yet I will give permission to each of you to take a single cartload of your wealth.”
They couldn’t understand just how things got to this point.
“I have shown you the greatest favor I could.”
At that time, Hyun Yeong spoke.
“Sect leader, these are the people who desecrated Mount Hua and siphoned off its wealth. Not just that, they tried to take our very foundation despite all we’ve done for them. To show favor to such people….”
“If we let go of an animal which was about to bite us, it will turn into a beast and devour us.”
Hyun Jong waved his hand at that.
“I’ve already made my decision, so we won’t be talking about this.”
“Yes, sect leader.”
Hyun Yeong lowered his head.
“Go down. Shouldn’t you see with your own eyes how things are going?”
Owner Kong’s face distorted. Gritting his teeth, he glared at Hyun Jong as if he wished to kill him.
“Sect leader. You’ve been hiding such a poisonous heart behind that amiable facade.”
Hyun Jong smiled.
“Sure, call it a poisoned heart. But I feel that I pale in comparison to you.”
“… I will not forget this debt.”
“Right. Un Am. Guide them out.”
“Yes. Sect leader!”
Owner Kong turned around. And without waiting for Un Am, he started walking. The merchants, who didn’t know what to do, looked at the sect leader and hurriedly began to follow owner Kong. They had to go down and check what was happening.
Hyun Jong sighed as he looked at the people moving.
“Sect leader! You worked hard!
Hyun Jeong smiled at Hyun Yeong.
“Now Mount Hua is finally free. It is good!”
“Don’t relax too much. We’ve only crossed one mountain now.”
“Will there be a greater mountain than this? Now everything is set.”
Hyun Jong smiled brightly, seeing Hyun Yeong, who wasn’t sure what to do, get lost in the excitement.
It had been ages since he had last seen the head of finance so happy. Everyone in Mount Hua was carrying a heavy load on their shoulders.
‘All thanks to that child.’
It could be said that this was a prosperous time for Mount Hua.
A reward should be given, but what kind of reward should he give to the one who made this happen? He smiled.
Hyun Jong, who thought that, turned his head to Yu Jong-San and the others.
They immediately bowed to Hyun Jong.
“Even in these difficult times, you kept our grace in your hearts.”
Hyun Jong’s attitude was different from when he dealt with the other merchants. It was soft.
“Sect leader. What will happen to us?”
“It doesn’t change that your business belongs to Mount Hua. And things of Mount Hua should be returned to us. But I will ensure that you continue to handle the business and receive payment.”
Yu Jong-San’s face calmed.
This situation was better than those who were running down the mountain now, but they were losing their businesses all the same. Wouldn’t Yu Jong-San now be an employee and not the owner?
The moment Yu Jong-San tried to protest, Hyun Yeong opened his mouth.
“Excessive greed proceeds a downfall.”
“It is also a sin to try and oppress others with a business that isn’t yours. Mount Hua is just giving you a chance to lessen the weight of your sins.”
Sighs came out.
All of this had resulted from greed.
‘Grandfather. What have you done?’
He was flustered again.
“Yes, sect leader.”
“Isn’t it true that they didn’t betray the loyalty they had to Mount Hua and helped us at the last minute?”
“It is true.”
“Let’s discuss this together. There should be a good way. Shouldn’t Mount Hua be a warm place for their close friends?”
“Yes, sect leader.”
Hyun Yeong stepped forward and told the merchants.
“Come this way. Let us head in and discuss.”
The merchants followed him with complex emotions.
As everyone moved, Hyun Jong remained in place alone.
He watched Mount Hua each day, but Mount Hua now seemed different to his eyes.
The barren and faded buildings seemed to be full of vitality.
‘Does one’s perception of life all depend on how the heart is feeling?’
No, everything doesn’t simply end like that.
Mount Hua, which was touched by tragedy, has received its first blessing in several decades. The flow of life is such a strange thing; once the direction of the flow changes, it isn’t easy to reverse it simply through your own efforts.
Now that a path for a better future was opened, Mount Hua will be different from before, which Hyun Jong believed.
Perhaps today is the trigger that will bring back the forgotten glory of Mount Hua.
Hyun Jong’s face, full of wrinkles, had a deep smile.
In the distance, a wrinkle-free face crumpled and disfigured itself.
“That fucking bastard!”
Chung Myung’s eyes went wide with indignation.
What? What do you mean by a cart!?
What was that calm-looking man doing?
“Come on! I will show you what a beast is!”
Hyun Jong sent the merchants away.
But Chung Myung would not let them go so easily.
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