Mumu packed his belongings to join the caravan of officials heading back to the Imperial Palace.
In order to see him off, Jin-hyuk had gotten up early and exited the dorms with Mumu. When they stepped outside, they saw that Mo Il-hwa was waiting for them.
“What? Did you think I wouldn’t see you off?”
Mo Il-hwa clicked her tongue as she looked at Mumu. She had said she wasn’t coming yesterday evening, yet here she was.
She approached Mumu and said,
“Look for those aiming for that thing in the palace.”
“Things like that might hurt you, but be careful when doing everything.”
“The Imperial Palace is different from this place. It is somewhere where powerful people from around the nation are gathered. If you find someone acting favorably to you, do not easily trust them.”
Mo Il-hwa checked him again.
“Your answers are short.”
“Is that so?”
Mo Il-hwa grabbed Mumu by the collar and shook him.
“This older sister is worried about you, so answer sincerely!”
“Uh uh uh. Fine.”
Mumu replied with a wide smile.
No matter the situation, Jin-hyuk, and Mo Il-hwa treated him normally.
Mumu, who wasn’t very sociable, knew they were sincerely good people, unlike the others, and was grateful to them.
“Do not laugh. I will hit you.”
Mo Il-hwa shook her head as she let go of his collar. She then passed off a package that was next to her.
“This is nothing special, just jerky I got from the diner lady and some extra clothes.”
“Uh? For real?”
“You will have no clothes left because of those muscles, so here.”
“Il-hwa. Thank you.”
“Huh. If you are so grateful, buy me some jewelry or something from the palace.”
“Yes. I will.”
Mumu accepted the bundle that was the symbol of Mo Il-hwa’s meticulous care. Jin-hyuk then sighed and said,
“I wonder if there is someone who can really threaten you, but as Miss Mo said, be careful no matter what you do. Especially be wary of people who will try to take advantage of you.”
“You are not a child, so any more words and it will be like nagging, so have a good trip.”
“Are you saying that as a compliment?”
“What do you mean no!”
This time Mo Il-hwa grabbed Jin-hyuk by the collar, making Mumu smile.
“The more I see you two, it seems both of you get along well.”
“W-what is that supposed to mean?”
Mo Il-hwa’s angry face became flushed red. Jin-hyuk also looked shocked and unsure of what to do since he was now conscious of her.
Not caring about their reactions, Mumu said,
“I will be back soon. In the meantime, take care of Hae-ryang, who is in the infirmary. Goodbye!”
With that, Mumu ran off.
Looking at Mumu run, the two slightly shocked people sighed together.
They weren’t worried about him being hurt. What they were concerned about was what Mumu would do in the Imperial Palace.
At the spot where the guards were stationed.
More people were waiting for Mumu.
They were Deputy Headmaster Dan Pil-hoo, his men, and Kang Mui.
They waited in advance because Mumu said he needed to take Kang Mui.
Mumu raised his hand and greeted Dan Pil-hoo.
Seeing Mumu smiling brightly as if he was going off to play made Dan Pil-hoo feel odd.
‘For him to go to the Imperial Palace at such a time.’
Dan Pil-hoo clicked his tongue.
The buzz about Mumu had been something of a constant within the academy. For people like Mumu, the academy was typically meaningless.
But now things were turning strange. The conversation between the members of the academy had gone towards bringing Mumu in as a special teacher or something into the academy.
[If he is an academy student, isn’t it a loss for the academy to just send him out as any other student when he is called the youngest of the Great Warriors?]
[Yes. We need to hire Mumu as the academy’s special teacher.]
Most of the teachers were talking about this. But this was the first time such a thing happened in the academy.
All of that made this decision difficult.
It was because hiring Mumu didn’t seem like the right thing to do, especially when he was much stronger than the deputy and headmaster.
This was an issue that needed to be further discussed.
After sighing, Dan Pil-hoo approached Mumu and gave him something.
It was a flat wooden box.
At Mumu’s question, Dan Pil-hoo opened the box’s lid and said,
“I had difficulty finding it considering we were running out of time.”
“Yes, a human skin mask.”
Inside the wooden box was the face of a middle-aged man with a beard.
[Can you get me a human skin mask?]
[Human skin mask?]
[Yes. I feel like we need to hide the identity of Mumu.]
Mumu’s older brother, Jin-sung, had been the one who requested this, and the deputy had accepted it.
The rumors about Mumu were sure to spread rapidly. He knew that problems would occur once he reached the palace.
In response, the deputy urgently searched for an appropriate mask. Despite it being done hastily, the quality was quite good.
“This mask can handle anything from sweating to facial expressions. I spent quite a lot.”
Dan Pil-hoo said this casually, but this was truly a mask that he had put a lot of effort into. The mask wouldn’t allow sweat to escape, and the expressions would also align. It was not like a cheap mask that would give off an awkward expression.
“If you feel so grateful for it, pay it back to me, slowly.”
“As expected of the deputy.”
This was just a way for the deputy to strengthen their relationship by continuing to help Mumu.
Dan Pil-hoo explained in detail how to use and care for the mask. Mumu then put it on.
And now Mumu was looking like a middle-aged man with strong features.
‘I got it in a hurry.’
Dan Pil-hoo clicked his tongue at this.
Mumu was taller than most people and, with such a face, made him very distinctly unapproachable.
“Then, I will leave, deputy.”
“It would be better if you don’t speak.”
“Right. Your voice doesn’t match the face.”
The face he had on would fit a harsh voice, but Mumu’s voice was still of a 17-year-old boy.
Not to mention that Mumu’s voice was softer compared to other boys.
“If you can, just stay silent.”
Mumu, who listened to his words, stayed silent.
After all the preparations were done, Mumu took the tied-up Kang Mui and headed to the office where the officials were gathered.
The gates opened as the officials led by Yu Jin-sung exited the academy.
Someone was hiding in the castle walls and was watching the procession closely.
‘Finally, they are coming.’
This mysterious figure, who confirmed their movement, entered the forest path and headed off somewhere.
Kang Mui was walking while restrained and glared at Mumu, who was riding in front.
If he could use his power, he could escape these chains at any time.
But there was no way to get away from this monster.
‘How did this happen?’
Wasn’t he the one who was destined to become the next Lord? Yet, no matter how much he thought about it, he couldn’t understand how such a monster appeared here.
The one in the Imperial Palace, that one would laugh at him. Of course, their laughter won’t last long once Mumu comes into the picture.
‘He will be the same.’
Under Mumu’s hands, everything would be the same. It was because Mumu had defeated two of the Four Great Warriors.
Kang Mui sighed and turned to the woman. It was the princess, Hong Na-yeon.
‘… That girl is the daughter.’
This was unexpected.
He had been in the same academy for two years and didn’t even realize it.
He knew that there was a female disciple of one of the top ten warriors in the academy.
But the fact that she could hide her identity until now indicated that she was no ordinary woman.
The daughter of a king who had hidden her identity was now returning to the palace.
Kang Mui could guess what this meant. Her existence was at the center of a power struggle within the palace.
‘And they believe that such a person just needs ten guards to return safely…’
Perhaps her return to the Imperial Palace would not be happening quickly.
He could guess the larger picture behind this. However, those who planned this probably didn’t predict one variable.
Kang Mui looked at Mumu.
Mumu yawned while dozing off on his horse. Seeing this, Hong Na-yeon whispered to Yu Jin-sung.
“… That face doesn’t suit him at all.”
“It looks like they got it in a hurry.”
Hong Na-yeon was told beforehand that this middle-aged man with a threatening face was Mumu.
Maybe that was why she thought that Mumu didn’t fit the mask.
This time, Jin-sung said to Hong Na-yeon,
“But you know… no, Miss. Do you really not want to ride in the carriage?”
“Yes. I am fine here.”
“Nothing good comes from being noticed.”
If it was her true status, she would need to ride the carriage on their way back. However, in this situation where there were only so few escorts, she indicated that she would rather ride a horse.
As a result, even the palace guards wore regular clothes to avoid attention.
At first glance, they didn’t seem like a procession of officials.
Jin-sung understood what Hong Na-yeon said about the procession potentially being a target because she was with them.
“… If my lady’s words are true, then it can be said that we have been caught up in a mess.”
Jin-sung was able to infer one thing from her warning. Someone was aiming for her life and knew her identity.
However, two other things can only be guessed at.
One motive was to keep her father in check by using her safety as bait. The second was the probability of a strong external force being hidden within the palace.
‘It is hard to know who it is, though.’
Jin-sung hoped that he could guess who it was. If the enemy was hidden inside, the guards could also be suspects.
Oh Muyang, who had come with him, had said that this order was given by His Highness.
Under normal circumstances, even if her identity was thoroughly hidden from everyone, just ten guards to escort a member of the Imperial Family was incomprehensible.
Because of this, he couldn’t help but sigh in worry constantly. Thankfully Mumu had come along with him.
‘Since I asked Mumu to protect the lady, the worst-case scenario can at least be avoided.’
Mumu had defeated two of the Four Great Warriors. Who could win against him?
Of course, since his identity had also been hidden, there surely would be an attempt against them.
‘I cannot let go of my focus because I don’t know how or when they will come for us.’
Jin-sung was on edge as he didn’t know if anything would happen on their way back.
A few hours had passed, and the sun was setting before they knew it.
The procession headed down alongside a cliff face into a valley. A man wearing a leopard coat watched their movement from a high place.
The man smiled while looking down.
The man had been waiting for them for a long time. He had only been given one person to target.
[Kill everyone except the woman who is from the palace.]
It was an easy thing to do—
An ambush in a valley with such a small group of escorts.
When the man reached out his hand, a waiting subordinate brought him a large bow.
He held the bow and an arrow as he pulled back the strings.
The target was clearly visible.
‘You are sleeping so soundly.’
Despite being so far away, he could see a guard dozing off. This gave him confidence that he could handle this mission.
“The arrow will pierce his head, and things will go according to plan.”
Behind this man were forty people dressed like bandits. They looked like bandits on the outside, but each of them was clearly talented at martial arts.
He pulled the bowstring even further as he filled the arrow with energy.
‘Go strong right from the start.’
This man prided himself on being the best when it came to the bow. The arrow then left the man’s hand.
The arrow flew true towards the sleeping guard when he released the string.
Forty men waited in anticipation.
The man and his subordinates’ eyes all widened in surprise. The man whose head was supposed to have been pierced by the arrow had instead caught it without even looking.
‘… My arrow was caught without even being looked at?’
How could a sleeping man catch that?
He had even used internal energy on the arrow. The man looked confused at the situation but then turned his head to look directly at them.
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