“You are the disciple of the South Heavenly Swordsman?”
An old man with an angry face, quite the unknown variable.
This was such an unexpected situation, so I distanced myself from the table and carefully glanced around. The moment the old man grabbed me, the men in black standing guard at the stairs and in the private rooms, all drew their weapons and narrowed the distance between us.
There were twelve of them, and they began to encircle me little by little. All of them appeared to be quite skilled.
‘Iron sword. Do you know him?’
At the sudden hostile attitude, I immediately asked him.
-I don’t know. I have been with my master for a long time but this is the first time seeing this face
With that said, I look at close look at the clear face with no wound,
I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that I had just created a mess.
Apparently, looking at the reaction of this old man, it seemed like he had some connection with the South Heavenly Swordsman.
But I couldn’t figure out why such hostility was being directed at me.
“Is it alright to threaten your clients in a place that sells information?”
At my words, the man shook his head.
“It has been more than fifteen to sixteen years since he went missing. And you say you are the disciple of a disappeared man?”
A strong sense of anger in his voice.
I couldn’t tell if it was because he thought I was fake and liked the Southern Heavenly Swordsman, or if he was hostile because he hated the man.
Meanwhile, the siege began to narrow.
Iron Sword also seemed quite puzzled too.
-The Lower District sect is close to being a neutral intelligence group, even if it is normally grouped with the Forces of Evil or the unorthodox sects. This is the first time I am seeing such outright hostility.
As far as I knew, one wouldn’t act hostile unless the other person acted out aggressively.
That was why I revealed who my teacher was. But what do I do now? No matter how strong I was, I could not rationalize a way to escape this place filled with skilled warriors.
Not to mention, I had just felt a strong presence from somewhere nearby. From the entrance of a private room, which was covered by bamboo mesh, on the other side of this floor. A man was looking through the mesh, looking at me. It felt like a snake closing in.
‘What is this?’
I almost felt a chime go off in my head, telling me to be alert–
[Pretend not to hear this old man’s voice]
The voice of the old man.
I was puzzled at this warning, but I deliberately pretended not to hear and remained wary of those around me. I still couldn’t figure out why I was being warned like this.
And then the old man continued to speak,
[Have you heard of the title, Joho Strong Hand?]
‘Joho Strong Hand?’
It was a title I had never heard of, so I asked Iron Sword.
-Joho Strong Hand? Kwak Gyung?
‘You know him?’
-I do. He is a warrior of Fuhu County, in Yunnan.
If it was Yunnan, then it was from the same area as Iron Sword and his former master.
Was this man simply trying to discover if I was truly his disciple? If I didn’t have the ability to listen to the whispers of the swords, I would have never been able to pretend as if I was his disciple.
There were so many connections, and with fame came many troubles. Thinking this, I passed on the words of Iron Sword.
[Are you talking about Warrior Kwak Gyung, of the Fuhu County in the Yunnan province?]
The eyes of the old man changed at this. Did this solve the problem?
[As I had thought]
[Why are you asking?]
[You have the guts a disciple of the South Heavenly Swordsman should have]
Contrary to his words, the old man still looked angry.
Was he acting right now? And then he sent another message,
[There is one way to get out of this]
[… what is it?]
[There is Na Yuk-hyun of the Pang family.]
Na Yuk-hyung? He was the one behind that bamboo? I couldn’t hide my shock.
-Why are you so shocked?
‘… it is Na Yuk-hyung.’
-Who is that?
If we were to refer to anyone as the best warriors then it would be the Eight great Warriors and the Four Great Evils.
But doesn’t this wide land have many more strong people? In addition to those who have been deemed to be stronger than humans, there were those who were exactly a step or two lower than those previously mentioned. If the Martial Twin Swords were on the side of justice, then Na Yuk-hyung was on the side of evil.
-Then he has to be a strong one?
Not strong but dangerous. From what I knew, this man had to be as dangerous as one of the Four Great Evils.
Even if martial arts were one thing, he was notorious for his vicious and cunning attitude, and for those who pursued after him, those people would rarely return.
-Wonhui. You need to be careful
-That man he… lost an eye to my former master
One problem after another. Apparently, he had a grudge against the South Heavenly Swordsman.
Somehow, he was already standing behind the bamboo mesh with ominous, foreboding energy. It was dangerous to be here.
At that time, the old man brought up,
“You are the disciple of the South Heavenly Swordsman? For quite some time, you looked down on us, child.”
And then he said,
[I am not sure if you really are a disciple of his, but I will help you out this time.]
There was something strange about all this, and this man was clearly acting. He thought that Na Yuk-hyung might come and do something to me, so he was saying out loud that he didn’t believe me.
[Try matching my flow]
[Thank you so much]
Was there any reason to refuse help? Well, no, and then the man said,
“Do not underestimate our intelligence network. If you tell the truth now, I will put an end to this, and the cost of deceiving us will remain reasonable.”
Recognizing the old man’s intentions I spoke a bit shocked,
“Your intelligence is quite scary.”
I raised my hands trying to declare my surrender. Since we decided to match each other’s flow, there was no need to care about honor.
The two men in black came up like they were going to restrain my hands, and as they were about to touch my swords, I warned them,
[If you touch my sword I will think you have different intentions.]
So they took me downstairs without touching my swords.
When I went down, Sima Young and Cho Sung-won, who found me, called out a bit shocked at how I was brought out, but I immediately sent a message to explain the situation and asked them to follow us.
Thanks to this, I had unintentionally gotten the attention of people on the first floor. We were then taken down to the basement,
‘Was there such a place?’
I remember coming to this place three times before returning to my new life, but not once did I know about this basement.
‘Smell of blood.’
As I descended into the basement, the smell of blood touched my nose. Even though it was for intelligence gathering, the basement felt too explicit.
Blood stained the walls, ground, and much more. Perhaps because of this, Cho Sung-won was very nervous and was prepared to attack at any time.
[Lord, what the hell is this?]
[… I am nervous.]
I, too, was working hard to improve my skills.
As we further entered the basement hallway, a large space the size of the meeting hall above us was revealed.
An old man in black was waiting for me. The same person from the 2nd floor, so there had to be another way down.
“Let him go.”
At his command, the men let go of my hands and retreated.
Staring at the old man, I said,
“Thank you again for this”
At that, the old man shook his head,
“This is just a temporary measure. Don’t think that cunning people can be deceived by such a small act.”
Just as I had thought.
Na Yuk-hyung was not someone who could be dismissed so easily. The old man warmed us first and then pointed his hand to the northeast.
There was a passage, and a fine wind was coming through the vent.
“If you go through that path, you can get around 200 meters from here.”
There was a secret passage. In fact, the more information one dealt with, the more careful one had to be with everything.
Even if one could escape their cells, they might be able to get out of this place, but the entrance of the to the passage would be blocked by the men in black.
Suddenly, the men behind us drew their swords and separated me from the two.
As if to prevent any interruptions to me walking down the path.
“This is different.”
Sima Young was glaring, and she tried to pull her sword out but I stopped her and asked,
“Weren’t you helping us? What is the purpose of this?’
“The situation wasn’t favorable, so we brought you in a hurry, but there needs to be a verification process.”
“Didn’t I tell you? I am not sure if you are a disciple of the South Heavenly Swords?”
The old man took something from his sleeve and put it on. Judging from the material of the shiny silver glove, it didn’t look normal.
-Wonhui, it feels like this man is the Joho Strong Hand, Kwak Gyung
-The glove he put on is Silver Hand. Gloves that were made of a mixture of black iron and silver, that can block any weapon. And its master has to be Kwak Gyung.
‘You said that it had to be the other man.’
-Well, that man was connected with my former master. However, my former master felt a bit horrible after the man disappeared twenty years ago after their family was annihilated.
Their family was annihilated?
Isn’t that the plot of a story where a man was forced to turn to the Forces of Evil? The fact that Iron Sword couldn’t recognize him right away meant that his skin mask and voice were extremely mimicked to match that of an old man.
This old man was Kwak Gyung in disguise and he said,
“Ten years have passed since the South Heavenly Swordsman disappeared and while I was working here as a rogue, I met customers who claimed to have a relationship with him about 6 times.”
It seems like quite a lot of people did this.
“All of them were idiots who were looking for his trial to get his legacy and martial arts that he had left behind.”
“You think the same of me too?”
“So far you seem different from them.”
“Then why do you have the Silver Gloves in hand?”
At my words, the old man’s eyes shone. It seemed like he was surprised.
Of course, it was Iron Sword who recognized them and not me.
“You keep making me look forward to this.”
With that, he took the stance of a tiger who was ready to rush and pounce on its prey.
“If you truly are that man’s disciple, you will not say that you do not know this sword technique.”
As soon as he said it, the man rushed at me. His movement was close to basic close combat.
The old man’s hand was aiming for my head with the force of a tiger’s fangs barring out.
I pulled Iron Sword out and stabbed him in the head, but he tilted his head and deflected the sword with his glove.
When Iron Sword hit the glove, a metallic ringing sound could be heard.
It was said that it was a mixture of black iron and silver. And this glove was a single, devastating weapon. The old man’s left hand tried to slam into my chin.
I leaned back to avoid it. In such a state, I relaxed my wrist and tried to cut his left wrist.
But he withdrew his hand and went into a defensive stance with the face looking like a tiger that had found its prey.
My feet moved back gently like I was walking on clouds. I evaded his attacks by stepping backward and unfolded my sword.
‘Tiger Tooth Sword!’
It was the tiger tooth sword. A sword to subdue the opponent with the fierce force of a tiger. The moment he saw my sword technique he exclaimed,
“Xing Ming Sword!”
He knew the sword technique. His whole body trembled like he had felt a thrill.
Recognizing the technique, he looked desperate with eyes of determination.
It is as if dozens of tigers were coming at me. As the fierce sword technique and hands clashed, blue sparks flew about.
This man had good eyes. He was accurately blocking my attacks and was able to counterattack.
The old man looked shocked. And I didn’t miss it. I used the last movement of my attack to take advantage of a gap.
He pulled back after being stabbed in the shoulder. His experience was limited to the incomplete Xing Ming technique.
“… you took matters into your own hands,” said the old man. As he said this, I stabbed the point of his meridian to make him lose his strength.
“Isn’t this a battle to prove my identity?”
At those words, he smiled,
“Leader of Heuk Hyun-jong, no, Joho Strong Hand, Kwak Gyung formally greets the descendant of the South Heavenly Swordsman.”
The old man revealed his identity and recognized me this time, and I returned his bow.
“Please forgive my rudeness.”
“I also apologize for any rudeness committed due to my misunderstanding.”
The old man’s expression went stiff as he turned his head. The men in black who were blocking the entrance were on the floor with my sajaes standing over them.
The old man couldn’t help but laugh.
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