“Is this the liquor you were talking about?”
The Provincial Lord of the Hunan region, Ju Jin-hak, looked at the alcohol in front of him with bright eyes. He too knew what the ruckus about alcohol was, having heard the rumors going around.
This product has been on sale for fifteen days at most, but it was the drink on the lips of every alcohol drinker. The liquor of the Ho Yeon family, which they once thought they could no longer taste, has resurfaced.
Ju Jin-hak’s mouth began to water.
“Right. Would you like to try it?”
When Hong Won-chang, in a fresh set of clothes, asked, Ju Jin-hak nodded.
In order to try it, hadn’t he even offered two gold coins per bottle?
And yet he couldn’t procure it, but Hong Won-chang was so talented that he managed to save two bottles.
Ju Jin-hak, quietly looking at the bottle of alcohol, raised his head with a delighted expression when he heard the maids bringing glasses and bowls.
Only then did he realize that there was someone he had never seen before beside Hong Won-chang.
“But, who is this man?”
“The Golden Ring Merchant Union Leader. He is the one in charge of distributing the Ho Yeon family’s alcohol.”
“Provincial Lord, nice to meet you. I am Geum Eun-hak.”
“Oh, are you the one who discovered this liquor?”
Ju Jin-hak asked with a bright expression that made him feel happy. Anyone who liked alcohol would feel attracted to Geum Eun-hak, who brought the drink.
It was such a precious drink.
“I was just lucky. Although the amount of liquor sold per month is limited for now, we will make sure to send it to the Lord whenever you want.”
“Hahaha! Such wonderful words to hear. That’s all good. Isn’t it true that the best liquor tastes even better when we use our own money? Next time, I will wait for the liquor to be released and buy it myself to try it.”
Hearing these words, Geum Eun-hak bowed his head deeply. Ju Jin-hak was known to be on good terms with the Emperor.
He was also famous for his honor and integrity, and didn’t allow his emotions to sway him.
Geum Eun-hak had no intention of giving away free alcohol either. He merely offered it out of courtesy, and Ju Jin-hak managed to decline.
“Woah, this really is a delicious drink! This is a drink worth paying every coin for. Now, you people, enough talk and take a sip of this. Liquor is always more enjoyable when shared among many.”
And everyone was in high spirits as they savored the delicious drink.
As someone who loved alcohol, what could be more thrilling than this?
The bright smile on Ju Jin-hak’s face did not fade easily.
“Failure? Failure! Failure!?”
Jumun Won slumped in his chair, clutching his back. Everyone he trusted was dead. Yet, this didn’t mean that Hong Won-chang or Geum Eun-hak had been dealt with.
He thought the number of men he sent would suffice, but that proved to be incorrect. The fault in judgment did not lie with his men, but with himself.
“It is said that they have already entered the Provincial Lord’s estate with the alcohol.”
“Damn it! Was there someone strong enough to handle our men?”
“Well… according to the scouts who witnessed it, they saw Namgung Sohye and Kwon Mujin there.”
“Namgung Sohye? Kwon Mujin?”
He was so dumbfounded that he burst into a chuckle.
The corners of his lips twitched.
The hand that brushed his hair was also shaking.
Why would such notable warriors try to help the Golden Ring merchants? Did they have some connection to that merchant?
All sorts of thoughts swirled in his head, threatening to make his head explode.
“Why were those two there?”
“After gathering the information they could… it is said that those two were actually staying with the Hunan Dan family in Yueyang.”
“Hunan Dan family?”
“Such a place exists?”
“It’s my first time hearing about it.”
Du Ack-chil wiped off cold sweat as he responded. It was the first time he had heard of this new Dan family. Yet, he still couldn’t believe warriors like Namgung Sohye and Kwon Mujin were among them.
“And? What now?”
“Do you recall the rumors that have recently spread around Yueyang and Changsha?”
“What rumors are those?”
“Strange old men with Murim swords wearing demon masks.”
“Is that so.”
He remembered hearing about it.
The elders who appeared in Yueyang—if there was an incident nearby, they would show up wearing masks and offer their assistance.
“This information came from the Lower District Sect, but I believe Hunan is where they reside.”
Jumun Won sighed.
Were those absurd people really trying to challenge him? Just the thought of all this information flooding his mind made him sigh.
Who ruled the land of Hunan?
Though they hadn’t shown their strength openly, it was the Jumun family that managed the workings.
Even if small and medium-sized sects settled in Hunan, they could never break free from the Jumun family’s influence.
‘But who do these people think they are to challenge us?’
The idea was so preposterous that he couldn’t help but let out a low chuckle.
“What should I do?”
“You’re certain they’re pushing the Golden Ring merchants, right?”
“Yes, it seems so.”
“Then where is the wench from the Ho Yeon family?”
“I understand that her whereabouts are currently unknown. Perhaps…”
“It has to be that family, isn’t it?”
Du Ack-chil nodded.
The merchants serving alcohol meant that the woman from the Ho Yeon family was somewhere, brewing alcohol for the merchants.
And the most likely place was that of the Hunan Dan family.
“Ho Yeon-ji, we will have to remove that wench and take down the Hunan Dan family.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Pressure the Golden Ring… no, just get rid of them.”
“I understand. Then what about that family?”
“Hire the Assassin Pavilion to kill them.”
Du Ack-chil was a bit shocked at the mention of the Assassin Pavilion.
They were rumored to have the best assassins in the Central Plains.
It was a place where people, desperate for killings that no one else would touch, would pay a handsome sum to have the deed done. Consequently, the troops had grown into a formidable group of numerous assassins.
Even the weight their name held was enormous.
“Kill all of them. Not a single one should be left behind!”
“I… I will get to it right now!”
Despite their amazing skills, their fees were no less impressive. It cost a minimum of a hundred gold coins to hire one, and the price always varied depending on the target; typically, high-ranking individuals and wealthy merchants would seek their services.
Those present now were no exception.
About ten people emerged from the Assassin Pavilion’s Hunan branch. Considering their strength, it was a significant number, but given the person who had made the request, it couldn’t be taken lightly.
-At most, it takes this number of people to take down a small to medium-sized sect… doesn’t the number seem odd?
The man who appeared to be the captain nodded at his subordinate’s question. He understood that the client had requested a certain number of people for the task.
And the fee they had been offered was substantial as well.
A hefty sum of five hundred gold coins, so it was a lucrative job for them—a relatively easy price to eliminate an insignificant family.
-But do not be careless. If they are willing to pay so much, assume that there must be more to this situation.
The man smiled as he watched his subordinates nod in agreement.
He shared the same sentiment. If they had sent only one person, that would not have been a significant challenge to eradicate a typical family sect.
-There it is.
Before they knew it, they had reached their destination.
Late into the night, a little past midnight.
The grand manor of the Hunan Dan family was so astonishing that they all stared with wide-eyed wonder.
They had been to many places and seen numerous buildings, but this was the first time they had seen anything as splendid as this, aside from the Imperial Palace.
The man smiled at this.
-This is a house worth burning down.
Each subordinate nodded, gazing at the house. Even though they didn’t show it, they seemed quite surprised.
-Do not forget our reason for coming here. If there is a woman called or assumed to be Ho Yeon-ji, capture her and kill anyone else in the manor.
The man nodded as the subordinates responded. Having been together for a long time, they knew very well not to make even the smallest mistake.
Now all that was left was:
The man grinned as he pulled out his dagger. He could feel the strong killing intent emanating from the black blade in his hand.
Since it was coated with poison, if anyone touched it, they would be met with certain death.
And his heart pounded with anticipation at the thought of blood spilling in the coming seconds.
They began to move stealthily and approached the family’s residence.
However, there was no sign of life in the manor.
The lamps were off, and they couldn’t sense any movement. It was actually amusing that such a vast manor had no guards.
But this was good since their task had just become easier.
With that thought in mind, he signaled to the subordinates.
The moment the ten assassins leaped over the fence—
The man couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. Three people were standing on the other side of the fence.
One of the men’s swords must have swung, considering how two of his subordinates lay dead, their bodies severed.
While none of the assassins could even assess the situation properly—
Slash! Slash! Slash!
Something glinted in the moonlight, flashing too many times.
Subordinates fell, their bodies sliced or heads severed.
The dozen or so assassins dwindled rapidly. Within the blink of an eye, they were even more bewildered.
“What a mess to clean up.”
Soon, one holding a sword stepped forward.
Long hair fluttered elegantly in the moonlight. Even as he nonchalantly wiped the blood from his sword and gazed at the strewn corpses, the man’s expression remained unfazed.
The moment the last assassin finally climbed over the wall, he landed with a thud.
Another flash of light severed both his legs.
Overwhelmed by pain, he yearned to scream, but no sound emerged from his clenched throat.
Blood dripped down, the agony evident in his expression.
“One shouldn’t climb over other people’s walls. Who knows what beasts they harbor, be it a tiger or a dragon?”
The shadow neared and peered at the fallen man.
His entire body tensed under the icy stare.
“I don’t expect you to talk. So don’t ask now. It’s not worth your while to speak.”
The man chuckled, reached out, grasped him by the hair, and dragged him away like a dog.
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