Chapter 43 - Cho Sung-won (2)

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Unlike other warriors, I could utilize not only the dantian in my lower abdomen but also the one in the middle of my body.

In terms of quantity, it would only be slightly above a first-rate warrior’s internal qi, but since it was innate qi, there was a clear difference in quality.

I only managed to fully understand the South Heavenly Swordsman’s cultivation method just a month ago.

Now I had managed to overcome the limits of an average first-rate warrior.

Shh!

Cho Sung-won was shocked and jumped back. His staggering and wildly moving gait displayed the skills of the Beggars Union, but I still quickly caught him.

“Kuak!”

It must have been embarrassing.

Even if he was a skilled warrior, it still wasn’t easy to fight someone who used a sword. Besides, the difference between him and me was glaringly obvious.

Shhh!

My swordsmanship, the Loach-shaped Sword, moved fluidly. Cho Sung-won countered using his sword technique which moved gently like a willow branch.

Papapak!

In order for his counter to change the battle, he needed to block my sword using a new technique, but his movement didn’t have the same fierceness he showed at the start.

He was clever enough to move his sword and strike the isolated areas of my sword to block it. He definitely was skilled.

However, my sword was a lot faster than his sword and hands.

“Kuak!”

His palm must already be tingling with the sword energy that had entered it. Cho Sung-won’s face was turning red as he gradually attempted to prevent the energy from further entering the body.

‘A gap.’

As it became harder for him to withstand the pain, I spotted a small gap and pierced my sword through it. As the tip of my sword was about to dig into his right shoulder, he panicked and tried to use his sword.

“I thought you would do that.”

“What?”

At that moment, I made a change. I turned the direction of my sword upwards with the intent of splitting his head.

‘…!!’

Cho Sung-won, who sensed his death nearing, flinched and closed his eyes. Instead of cutting him, I instead slammed the side of my sword to his head.

“Ouch!”

The guy screamed in pain, but his head wasn’t split. If I didn’t hit him with the flat side of my sword, he would have died instead of just screaming in pain.

“Kuak!”

With all that pain, he must have thought his head had been wounded and covered it with his hand. Cho Sung-won, who confirmed that his head was fine, looked puzzled instead.

“… Why?”

“I wasn’t aiming for it.”

Puck!

“Kuak!”

I kicked him in the stomach. It doesn’t matter if you’re a warrior or an average person. Being hit in the stomach without expecting it was painful.

It would be a pain that you would never forget all your life. His face became red as if it would explode, and his body was crouched in pain. I then sealed his blood points.

Tatatak!

Now he would not be able to use internal qi. He was in shock but still tried to speak.

“W-wait… let’s talk…”

“I was trying to talk, but who was the one who attacked first?”

“T-that…”

I grabbed Cho Sung-won’s hair as he tried to make an excuse.

Clench!

“W-what are you going to do?”

“I accumulated a lot of things over the past year because of the old man. You can thank him for this, I guess.”

I’m giving him such a great chance. I could see a reflection of myself with clenched fists reflected in his shining eyes. I immediately slammed my fist into his face without mercy.

“Kuak!”

A sound similar to the snort of a pig could be heard. I gained a bit of understanding as to why Hae Ack-chun enjoyed beating others so much.

When I released all my anger onto him, it felt like pent-up indigestion was going down. I felt very cooled down.

-You made porridge out of a human.

Short Sword clicked her tongue. Cho Sung-won, who was beaten pretty severely, collapsed. Still, I looked at him.

I didn’t use any internal qi and only struck with pure strength.

‘Hmm.’

I looked at the crumpled-up person. There were only a couple things I needed to ask.

A person trained as a spy had something in common with me, who also did the same. That was the self-determination to kill themselves to prevent information from being leaked. However, it was unknown how often those threats were used to try to escape being beaten.

-It might be because he doesn’t want to die.

Well, it had to be that.

If there was anything I regretted in life, it was the spies who begged for their life after leaking information. Even so, it was too easy.

At least such things tended to only happen when they were tortured, such as pulling their nails out. Moreover, it was pretty clumsy for a spy to threaten me just because their identity was discovered.

‘Strange.’

-What is strange?

‘The Ascending Dragon Eighteen Palms.’

It was a widely known martial art that was known throughout all of Murim. Only those in the immediate family of the sect leader of the Beggars Union could learn it.

-So, is this guy the next heir?

That was a possibility that couldn’t be ruled out. But is there any reason to use the heir as a spy? Common sense was that spies were humans who could be disposed of at any time.

So to send the heir as a spy? Made no sense.

-Yah. But if you know the future. Don’t you know who the heir is?

I knew.

Which is why it was even stranger. Before my return to the past, the successor to the Beggars Union was Hong Geol-gae. I’ve even seen that man’s face.

‘Hmm.’

What was the true identity of this man?

-What are you so worried about? Just ask him.

‘I will.’

I wasn’t sure he would speak the truth if he had so many regrets about his life that he was begging for it.

And if he didn’t speak, there was another way.

“Yah, Beggar.”

“Eik!”

Since what I said was true, he flinched back.

“I am not going to hit you.”

He still seemed suspicious of me. I leaned over to make eye contact and tapped on his head to make him nervous.

The boy spoke with a trembling voice.

“Wha… What is your true identity? How can you know me…”

He couldn’t speak up, but I knew it already.

His true identity was out, so it was natural to ask such questions. The information he had about me, on the other hand, was just my family name and other common stuff.

I snorted.

“You don’t need to know.”

Hearing my words, he clenched his teeth. I was in control of the situation, so why did I have to explain things to him?

“I ask the questions here. You only answer what I ask.”

The boy shut his mouth.

Keeping his mouth closed would do him no good. I had already thought about what I wanted to ask, so I asked anyway.

“The Ascending Dragon technique, that should only be taught to the direct descendant of the head… what is your identity?”

As long as I knew the name of the martial arts he used, he was bound to feel some fear.

But that wasn’t much for me. Even if not for Iron Sword, I could have easily recognized the technique.

“If you don’t want to die, you should start telling me.”

He bit his lips at my words. The fact that information shouldn’t be leaked must be ingrained in his mind.

“Phew.”

Thud!

I grabbed his hair and hit his head on the ground, making him groan in pain.

“Kuaaak”

“The heavier your mouth, the more pain your body will feel.”

He grunted as he clenched his teeth. He was actually bearing this?

Then, I just have to change the question.

“Nice. So, what do you have to do with Hong Geol-gae?”

If he had learned the technique only the sect leader’s family could learn, then the relationship had to be like a sahyung, a sajae, or something like that.

But my words changed his expression. Until a second ago, he seemed determined to hold on to his secrets, but now it felt like he wouldn’t, so he asked.

“What is your relationship with Hong Geol-gae, the successor…”

‘Uh?’

His eyes were slowly turning red. Rather than being sad, it looked like the emotions he was trying to hold back had broken through.

-What is with this kid?

How should I know?

“What are you doing now?”

At my question, the guy asked with a trembling mouth.

“Are you sure?”

“What…”

“For real… is he the successor?”

I frowned at his words. There was anger in his voice.

I thought it was a simple sahyung to sajae relationship, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

-Then?

‘Somehow, he…’

-A competition?

‘Has to be.’

It felt like I unintentionally hit the wrong spot, which had made him open his mouth. But I wasn’t that sure yet.

-But, is that man really the successor?

‘I don’t know.’

-Uh? Then you are lying?

Could this be called a lie?

I wasn’t sure when it would happen, but Hong Geol-gae would be around 30, so I just said it because that was someone whose future I was sure of. I just thought that the position would have been officially declared 10 years in the past, but I guess it wasn’t.

“What is wrong with Hong Geol-gae being the successor?”

“That fucking old man!”

Cho Sung-won cursed out loud. The way he spoke sounded so natural that it felt like his actual way of speaking.

Well, the way beggars talk was always known to be vulgar to the ear.

“They couldn’t fucking stand it for a year…”

Tears were welling up in the eyes of Cho Sung-won. It looked like he was angry.

Tuk!

I loosened my grip on his hair, patted him on the back, and tried to comfort him with a soft voice.

“Looks like you didn’t know. Who the next leader would be.”

“Fuck.”

The boy burst into tears and cursed. With this kind of emotion, I thought touching him would be fine.

“You were fighting for succession with him?”

He got angry at my question.

“Who is fighting with whom? It makes no fucking sense to take the damned bastard as the successor who doesn’t even know to do martial arts just because of the grandchild…”

Slap!

Before he could finish, I slapped him and put a finger on his lips.

“Speak slowly and quietly. You are being loud.”

I took a deep breath, and so did he to calm his nerves. Then he spoke in a quiet voice.

“He… he is a successor with nothing. What kind of person is he who studied for over 5 years but could barely master the sect’s martial arts!”

“And you learned all of it?”

Hearing my words, he went silent. Seeing his expression, he didn’t learn it all either.

“… that damned old man, for the sake of his own grandchildren, didn’t teach me, so I didn’t get to learn. If only I was given the attention, I would have long since completed learning it.”

I scratched my head at his words. He really wanted to be the next successor.

-He does look like it, right?

-It is human nature to want to be above all.

Iron Sword said the right words.

Even if there were just three people, they would want to decide on a leader. Since he was being taught martial arts by the leader, this guy, too, aimed to be the leader.

After listening to this, I could understand the whole picture. And to him, I said.

“And you said you would do a good job as a spy?”

‘..!!’

His expression went stiff right away. It looked like I touched the right nerve.

I brought out what I guessed, and he was already biting the bait.

“Unable to bear being pushed away by the blood, you must have thought of infiltrating the Blood Cult and exposing their base or to dig out some huge information, right?”

“…”

“The Murim Alliance, too, is wary about the revival of the Blood Cult. This is the only way you would get recognition.”

The guy kept becoming stiffer with each word. What would change if you kept staring at me? Huh?

“But what do we do? A successor is already appointed. How will you be recognized for your work and be in line for the next leader position?”

“…”

“And would the sect leader or the successor leave you alone?”

“… what do you mean?”

The boy, who didn’t speak till then, asked me with wide eyes, and I just replied with a timid smile.

“The sect leader said he was anxious to hand over the sect to his grandchild, right? So if you build up merit and become recognized by the other people, what if they don’t like it?”

“What do you mean?”

The boy’s eyes were trembling. He understood where I was going with this.

“What if, for example, the successor didn’t like the idea of you doing this and leaked the information of you being a spy here?”

With those words, I pretended to cut my neck with a thumb, making his face turn dark.

“They can get rid of you without even getting the blood on their hands, right? If that happens, everything you came to do will be in vain? Ah, no, not in vain. You would be remembered as a spy that spied on other sect leaders. And that will be the end of merit you get from people.”

His eyes widened at my words. It must have been confusing for him.

-Wow… you are amazing. Like the old man but with a finer brain!

Short Sword clicked her tongue.

-How did you think of this? Look at his eyes shake!

‘No. It could happen in the future.’

-What could happen?

Thinking about it, in the past, this child was killed too easily.

And considering that Beggars Union had influence all over the world, did it make sense for them to leave their spy to die?

Besides, he was someone who learned the martial arts of the sect leader’s family.

-They deliberately left him to die?

‘If my guess is right, yes.’

This guy was abandoned. If a definite successor was decided, the others in line would be a hindrance.

Cruel, but that was the world we lived in, thin as ice.

Thud!

“Kuak!”

The guy slammed his fist to the ground. It felt like he realized the words I said were reality.

-So what do we do? Are you going to get some good information from him and give him to the old man and get merit?

‘No.’

-Uh?

Did I have to do that?

I did want to do it before knowing his story. If he was a card discarded by the Beggars Union, it would be a waste to just leave him here.

Did they have to let him come into the Blood Cult?

-Then?

Cho Sung-won was in disbelief as he thought of many things.

“Isn’t it a shame to end like this?”

At my words, he looked at me with a puzzled expression.

“For that guy Hong Geol-gae to become the next leader and you to die here.”

Cho Sung-won’s face was turning darker. He looked like he was giving into despair, and I said,

“I will give you a chance.”

“… what do you mean?”

“A chance. A tip. A cleanup. Make up your mind.”

“Clean up? That…”

“If you swear to follow me, we will no longer have to continue with these talks.”

‘…?!’

Cho Sung-won’s eyes widened. I was giving him a choice.

And to shake him down further, I said.

“Are you going to die as a nameless spy of the Beggars Union? Or will you take revenge alongside me?”

A ripple of life could be seen in his eyes.

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