Chapter 13 - Gamble

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‘How can I deal with internal qi without a dantian?’

Hae Ack-chun’s words ran through my mind. Firstly, I had no idea this crazy old man would make this offer.

Besides, did it make sense to handle internal qi without a dantian? This was my first time hearing about it.

“Kulkul, of course. It must be hard to believe.”

And he seemed to be able to understand my thoughts. Well, it was likelier that he was just stating the obvious and not reading my mind.

-Yah. I don’t know what, but this man is up to something.

‘I think the same.’

In my messy life, I had come across too many people. But even I still had difficulty understanding this man.

Up until now, everything he made me do was beyond normal.

“I don’t think it is something bad for you. Why are you looking at me like I am up to something?”

Well, it was hard to tell if you were being honest or not?

It was impressive how well he could read my thoughts. Even though he was eccentric enough to be called the Ghastly Monster, he was someone who had been walking down a difficult path for decades.

-Wonhwi. I think you need to be careful. You know how much you have suffered because of this crazy man.

Phew.

Short Sword was right. I needed to know why this man wanted to help me. After thinking, I knelt down.

Thud!

“Sect elder. You have spoken with the intention of making me raise my head. Still, this foolish young man can’t understand your profound teachings.”

Hae Ack-chun laughed at those words.

“I didn’t know since you kept your mouth shut, but you are a sly one.”

“… I am just speaking my true feelings.”

I was speaking frankly.

If this conversation went on any further, this old man wasn’t eccentric but crazy. On Hae Ack-chun’s forehead, three lines appeared.

“Huh. Well, I made my body like that.”

‘Made his body?’

Puck!

“Kuak!”

Hae Ack-chun kicked me in the chest.

Thankfully, he didn’t use internal qi, so I wasn’t not too hurt. As I crawled in pain, the old man said.

“As I thought, speaking doesn’t work for you.”

With that, he took out the flute from his clothes.

It was the flute that would make the blood parasite inside the body go crazy. It was useless to me, but I must act like I was in pain.

Hae Ack-chun blew the flute, and it was at that moment that I began to crouch and scream.

“Ahhhh! My chest! My chest is!”

I tried to hide my face as much as possible, but then I heard him shout.

“Chest, my ass!”

Puck!

“Ugh!”

I received a kick to my back. Thanks to that, I ended up rolling on the rough ground for some distance. Hae Ack-chun shook his head.

“I hate seeing that clumsy acting of yours.”

“Uh?”

“It must take a lot of work to pretend like a blood parasite is inside you. Kulkul.”

‘…!’

It was a shocking moment that made me go dumb.

I was surprised. I was half-sure that someone like Hae Ack-chun could not figure out if the parasite inside me was making an impact or not.

Now I was worried about how this man would accept it. In my confusion, I tried to come up with an excuse.

“W-what do you mean?”

“Oh my. Do you think someone like me cannot know your condition by looking at you?”

‘Ah…’

Come to think of it, I had been hit a couple times. For example, when climbing the cliff, when trying to escape, and many other times.

‘This is bad.’

However, I couldn’t figure out why he kept silent even though he knew the truth. All the people of the Blood Cult needed to have the blood parasite inside them. As I struggled with my shock, I heard him say.

“I don’t know how you got rid of your parasite. You do know that you can be disposed of right away?”

“…”

A complicated feeling ran through me.

I couldn’t even imagine what this man is up to, but I knew one thing. Even if he knew about this parasite not working inside me, he wouldn’t just kill me.

‘… this is going to take a long time.’

This would be no different from my last life. It would be impossible to know if this old man would simply decide to use me and drag me around.

I had to take the initiative.

‘Let’s get some courage. So Wonhwi, you third-rate spy! To live a better life, you have to risk your life in this gamble.’

-Are you talking to yourself?

I ignored Small Short Sword’s words, and it stopped at only a few words. I calmed my mind and said…

“… Then dispose of me.”

“What?”

“Didn’t you say that I should be disposed of?”

“Ha!”

As I came out with a strong statement, Hae Ack-chun became dumbfounded, and I decided to continue my words.

“The absence of the blood parasite in my body isn’t intentional. After accepting it at the ceremony, I had a stomach ache, and it just… happened there.”

“…”

“And it was only after you played the flute that I realized it was gone.”

“You came to know thanks to me?”

“Right. If you ask me why I didn’t tell you that, well, it is because I am a human who deserves to live. I joined the Blood Cult by my own choice. Wouldn’t it be scary if I had that kind of thing inside me all my life?”

“Huh! it is something that you have to work hard and gain merit…”

“Initially, the blood parasite’s purpose is to control the people who aren’t loyal to the Blood Cult. Is there a reason why I, who has the blood of a cult member flowing within me, need to have it inside?”

“Ha…”

Hae Ack-chun’s expression changed with my words. Rather than looking astonished, it felt more like he was looking at a different person. Then he laughed.

“Kuahahahahaha!”

Then, he suddenly turned his face and grabbed me by my neck.

Clench!

“Kuak!”

Well, the gamble seemed unsuccessful. Hae Ack-chun spoke to me as I was suffering.

“Isn’t your life precious to you?”

“KuK!”

“Even if I get rid of you, do you think anyone would question me?”

“Kuak… ack….”

“This is the privilege that those who have power get to experience. What kind of guts do you even have to think someone would ask me about a third-rate like you?”

Speaking was difficult with my throat in his grip. But strangely, my mind felt clear.

Obviously, I was on the edge of the cliff and dangled by the hand of a huge man, but maybe because I had been through death once before, I don’t feel too scared.

I looked him in the eyes.

“Haa. I am afraid. But… if I live like this, I will die giving up my life by the orders of the elders… my whole life… I’ll stay stuck… as a third-class warrior… and dying now is better than living like that.”

“You idiot!”

Clench!

“Kuak… do it, kill me!”

My eyes were starting to roll over, but I tried my hardest to not look away. The man kept looking at me as well. Then, he let go.

“Cough! Cough!”

As I began to breathe again, I ended up coughing. Looking down at me as I struggled with pain, Hae Ack-chun said.

“I guess you aren’t a coward.”

“Cough…. Uh?”

“It would be better to not push your luck the next time. The end is obvious when a man with neither strength nor power tries to play around with courage.”

He was saying that, but he didn’t seem too angry. I’m not sure what the man was thinking inside, but on the outside, he seemed to appreciate my courage in risking my life.

“Ha…”

I sighed without realizing it.

This was a gamble, but I felt like I escaped from the chains of my former self. And this made me feel strong.

Confidence without a base was a shortcut to death.

-You really died and came back to life! Why take such detours to death again! What if you die, I…

Even the Small Short Sword couldn’t understand it.

‘Don’t worry. I won’t die.’

-You almost died!

‘No. if he planned to kill me, he would have done it when he figured out I didn’t have the blood parasite in me.’

I gambled on that.

There was something to gain here, so I decided to play my hand. I was convinced that there was something beyond just this man trying to teach me to utilize internal qi without a dantian.

After my coughing subsided, Hae Ack-chun said,

“Good. I will make you an offer which might interest you.”

“Interest me?”

“If you follow my instructions well, the thing about blood parasites will stay between us. How is it? Isn’t it a good condition? Kulkul.”

It wasn’t a bad condition. He could have told me he would put another parasite in me, but instead, he said he would turn a blind eye to this issue.

“Instead, after learning ‘it’ you can fight those twins I’m teaching martial arts to.”

“Uh?”

Now, this was unexpected. I didn’t expect this man’s reason for teaching me how to handle internal qi would be to fight with the twins.

“… but why?”

“Huh! Don’t think about questioning things just because I am giving you an option!”

He warned me with a terrifying face, and despite being curious, I decided to not ask further.

It seemed like there was something bad about this.

“You just need to fight them as and when told. Get it?”

“Can I ask a question?”

“About what?”

“Listening to what you are saying, ‘it’… is that not the skill of the elder?”

At that question, Hae Ack-chun kept silent. It looked like my question hit the mark. Then he answered.

“Yes.”

This was enough for me. I don’t know the reason, but I knew that he was trying to confirm the result of ‘it’ by making me fight the twins.

“Any more questions, and I will break your leg.”

“… I understand.”

“Then I will understand that you will follow me. Come on!”

Pat!

He picked me up suddenly and placed me on his side as he quickly moved somewhere.

He crossed over to the other side of the peak and climbed down the cliff before going into a cave.

“Here.”

The inside was visible as bright light streams in, and the cave wasn’t too deep. However, inside the cave were just broken bones and rusted iron swords.

‘Where is this?’

I couldn’t understand anything but the Small Short Sword’s voice echoes in my head.

-Wonhwi. That sword… is strong.

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