Episode 49

The Reappearance Of The Black-Haired Storyteller (2)
3 weeks ago
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How did a martial artist earn money?

By offering their sword skills for a fee. It was the simplest way.

In martial arts fiction, these individuals were known as ‘sword mercenaries’ or ‘ruffians’. In a fantasy setting, they’re considered mercenaries. Most of these people lived lower-class lives and faced short life spans due to the dangerous nature of their work.

If such martial artists chanced upon a lucky break or possessed innate talent that allowed them to reach a higher realm, they would become guests of other sects. They gained affiliation, convenience, and, in critical times, lent their strength as guests of the sect.

So, how did sects in martial arts fiction make money?

The well-known righteous sects, often called the ‘Nine Sects and One Union’, had considerable means of generating income. These sects typically embraced a religious aspect and received substantial donations from the affluent, officials, and followers.

They owned vast expanses of fields and land, the rents and agricultural yields from which bolstered the sects’ coffers. They also charged for imparting martial arts skills to non-sect disciples and sometimes engaged in business, depending on the circumstances.

For entities like the ‘Nine Sects and One Union’, monetary concerns were minimal. However, this was true only for the renowned righteous sects and the larger ones.

But what about the smaller sects, such as Changgeommun in Chilgok County, which could barely assert their presence within the county?

They might accept disciples in exchange for money or delve into business ventures, but what if these efforts fell short?

The most effective strategy was to demand protection fees from local shops.

From handling troublesome customers, drunkards, and hooligans, to dealing with sword-wielding followers of the black path, smaller sects patrolled the streets in the tumultuous world of martial arts. They resolved issues for merchants, safeguarded their interests, and collected fees regularly.

However, withdrawing protection due to non-payment was a line they must never cross.

Yoon something-or-other.

What’s the point of claiming to be a righteous sect then?

‘We lend our swords for a rightful price. Since we don’t swing our swords at commoners, we’re called a righteous sect.’

Those were the words Yoon something-or-other had spoken that day.

No, swinging a sword at just anyone made you a madman. Was it right to draw your sword simply because oppressed commoners were delivered to your doorstep like a courier service?

Was that your idea of justice?

Then, I shall serve justice in my own way.


“To be, or not to be, that is the question!”

With a resonant voice, I began with the famous quote, instantly captivating the large audience.

Yoon something-or-other was startled by my booming voice, his eyes widened, and his mouth agape.

“My father has passed away. Assassinated by a stranger! The family headship didn’t pass to me but to my uncle.”

Although my attention was on Yoon something-or-other, my lines flowed smoothly. The muscle memory in my mouth was real.

“The storyteller’s voice is so clear.”

“Who could the stranger be?”

“I heard the last time I was here…”

“Hey! Don’t spoil it for those hearing it for the first time!”

“Sorry! Everyone, ignore me. Scary. I won’t talk!”

Like the others, Yoon something-or-other was engrossed in my story, unaware of the impending calamity.

I moved to the part where Prince Hamurin, angered by his uncle’s and stepmother’s conversation, took the stage.

“Oh, heavens!! Have you seen this sight!!”

Instead of the heavens, I pointed at the audience with my fan, wailing as Prince Hamurin.

“I want to kill those damn villains right now!! What do you say?!!!”

Usually, I merely pretended to be angry, but with my real target before me, my lines were charged with genuine rage.

“Kill them!!!”

“Tear them limb from limb!!!”

“My father is wailing in his grave!! Kill them quickly!!”

“Sleep with the stepmother, but just kill the uncle!!”

“Huh? That’s a good idea.”

“The stepmother must be pretty, right? Just kill the uncle!!! Hehehe!”

“What are these idiots saying! Just kill them all!”

“Aww, the way this storyteller talks about his father’s death feels so real.”

“It’s gripping, isn’t it?”

The audience, fueled by my rage, was highly responsive. Yes, they should be killed, definitely and decisively.

“But, oh heavens, even if I kill those villains, without evidence, I too will be executed. I’ll be branded a patricide for killing my mother and uncle. However, if I go to the scene of my father’s death and gather evidence, I can kill those villains!”

Now was the time to use the crucial tactic for a storyteller’s daily earnings.

“The wealth of the family headship is now in the hands of those filthy villains. I can’t use such tainted money to avenge my father. Oh, heavens! Grant me travel expenses!”

As usual, I quickly descended from the stage and took out a bowl. Normally, I would walk in front of people who seemed likely to donate.

But today was different.

I only needed to focus on one person.

“Oh, heavens!”

I walked straight towards Yoon something-or-other without looking at anyone else.

Normally, I wouldn’t go this close. It was better to keep a distance so multiple people could reach out to donate.

“Huh?”

Yoon something-or-other seemed slightly taken aback as I extended the bowl right in front of his chest.

“Oh, heavens! If I don’t have travel expenses, I can’t go to the scene of my father’s murder!”

Today, you’re my heaven, or rather, my easy mark. Hand over the money!

“Here you go.”

Yoon something-or-other surprisingly handed over the money quickly. He was quicker to react than I thought. Being a martial artist, his judgment was swift.

But he was stingy. Why were all the coins he put in the bowl so dark and worn?

That wasn’t nearly enough for the beating I took that day, plus I was deeply wounded in my heart.

I took the money and, pretending as if it were an accident, used the same tactic on other people to make it seem like I was naturally continuing.

The first step was successful. I wanted to clean out Yoon’s pockets, but I couldn’t let him realize he was my target yet. If he ran before I could catch him, it would have been a disaster.

After collecting the money, I returned to the stage and resumed my performance.

Yoon something-or-other watched again, this time with a mixed expression.

Think this was the end?

It was just the beginning.

“Oh, my heavens!!”

When it was time to use the tactic again, I inevitably approached Yoon something-or-other.

“No! Why are you here again? I already gave you money!”

“I’ve run out of travel expenses! I came to the nearest person!!! I can’t go any further!!”

I pretended to stagger, too weak to walk any further.

“Here you go!!”

Yoon something-or-other again pulled out money from his pouch and tossed it into the bowl.

The money he threw was again in coins. He’s clueless. Did he think if he kept giving small change, I’d give up?

“Ugh! With the help of the heavens, I’ve gained the strength to stand! I’ll advance a little more!”

I walked around the crowd, collecting more money, as if nothing was amiss.

“Oh, my heavens!!!”

My easy mark!!

“Why do you keep coming to me!! I won’t give any more!”

“Oh, heavens! Are you refusing to help now!”

“I said no!”

“Aaaah! Are you truly refusing to help me!!”

“Fine. Get money from other people!”

Yoon something-or-other pointed to the other audience members. Of course, getting money from them was easy. But that wasn’t the goal right now.

I was going to clean you out.

“Ah… I see.”

I slumped my shoulders and sat down on the few steps leading up to the stage, silently gazing up at the sky without continuing the story.

“What’s going on! Why are you sitting? Aren’t you going to continue the story?”

“What’s the storyteller doing!”

“Are you angry at that guy who just refused to give money?”

As I stopped the story, the crowd began to grow angry. If this continued, their anger would turn towards me.

I needed to redirect their anger towards Yoon something-or-other.

“Even the heavens have forsaken me! I am a person unworthy of living! Even a small help is denied! I feel like giving up.”

I shouted loudly towards the sky.

People of the town, if that guy doesn’t give money, I won’t perform.

“That jerk! Why isn’t he giving money for just some coins?”

“If you’ve listened to the story, you should pay!”

“Why isn’t the person in the front row, who’s hearing the best, paying!”

The crowd began to direct their anger at Yoon Daehyeop without hesitation.

“Alright, alright! Stop the insults! Here are some coins. Take them.”

Unable to withstand the barrage of criticism, Yoon something-or-other handed me the coins.

“Oh, heavens! I’ve gained the strength to live! Now I can move forward!”

After receiving the money from Yoon something-or-other, I casually collected money from the side I hadn’t approached earlier and climbed back on stage.


“I’ve defeated the assassin sent by my uncle! But! I’m wounded and need treatment!”

Look at that guy. He’s using his brain.

Checking the spot before descending again, I noticed Yoon something-or-other had moved from the front to the middle row. He probably thought staying in the front would lead to more money being taken.

Did you think I couldn’t get money from you if you moved?

“Oh, heavens!”

I pushed through the crowd and stood in front of Yoon something-or-other again.

“No! Why are you coming to me again when I moved back! Are you deliberately targeting me?”

“I’m just seeking the grace of the heavens!”

“I can’t give anymore! I’ve given three times already!”

“Without the help of the heavens, I cannot return!”

“Hurry up and give the money! The story isn’t progressing!”

“If you wear a sword, do you get to avoid paying?”

“Even someone who earns well is so stingy.”

“Ugh.”

Fearing the same situation as before, Yoon something-or-other’s face turned red, and he quickly pulled out money from his pouch and threw it.

Huh?

What?

The coins he tossed into the bowl weren’t of the usual color.

“Wow! Yoon Daehyeop of Changgeommun has given silver!”

“Today’s storytelling is going so well! I’m so envious!”

“If the story is interesting, some audience members even give silver!”

Was he really giving silver?

And not just one or two pieces. I had planned to fleece him, but I never expected him to give so generously.

Usually, I only received small coins for my storytelling, not silver.

Yoon something-or-other’s action was like throwing a 50,000-won note at a homeless person begging in the subway.

I should at least show some gratitude.

Was he actually giving silver because he found my story that captivating? I looked at Yoon Daehyeop with a smile brimming with joy.

“Ah, no. I didn’t mean to give that.”

Yoon something-or-other was clearly in a panic. His eyes widened and his mouth hung open as he reached for the bowl, but the silver coins had already vanished.

“Oops.”

I quickly hugged the bowl to my chest.

“No! That was a mistake! Give it back!”

Didn’t this man understand the principle of ‘once given, it could not be taken back’?

Yoon something-or-other, in his desperation, looked as though he might grab my collar to retrieve the money.

A real mistake?

Then I ought to return it.

I was that decent.

“Oh, heavens!! Ah! Oh, heavens! Are you trying to rob a young man who lost his father and is living in hardship!! Ahhh! Oh, heavens! Fine!! Take it!!!”

I yelled loud enough for the entire crowd around us to hear.

“Ah, no. Just keep what I gave you and give me the change.”

Despite my outburst, Yoon something-or-other reached for the bowl in my arms.

Wow. Such shamelessness.

Unlike someone like me, who couldn’t even complain when the hairdresser gives me a bad haircut.

Then I’ll make him feel even more ashamed.

“Oh, heavens!! If you intend to strip me of my livelihood!! Then take this travel money too!! I might as well die right here!!!”

I lay flat on the dirty ground, not caring that my clothes were getting dirty, and placed the bowl of money on my chest.

“Take it if you dare.”

“People, don’t you know ‘once dropped, it can’t be taken back’?”

“If you’ve given, it’s given! Why are you trying to take it back?!”

“Why stop the interesting story?!”

“If the story ends like this, will Yoon Daehyeop be responsible?”

As I lay there refusing to get up, people began insulting Yoon something-or-other again. As the criticism grew, Yoon something-or-other clenched his teeth, trying to contain his anger.

“Can you take it?”

“If you do, I’ll just go back to the inn.”

“The backlash is your responsibility.”

“Fine! Take it! But if you come near me again, I won’t give you a thing!”

Eventually, Yoon something-or-other conceded.

“Oh, heavens! I will spread the help of the heavens across three or four generations! Thank you!”

I stood up, dusting off my clothes.

“Hey, storyteller, take this money too!”

“I’ll give a bit as well!”

Some audience members, who had not yet given me any money, began to pull out money from their pockets to throw at me.

I gestured with my hands for them to stop.

“Keep it! The help of the heavens is overflowing! I will rush to the scene now!”

“A storyteller who even refuses the offered money! Such upright character!”

“Wow! The story was interesting, and he even has a conscience!”

“Urgh!”

Watching this, Yoon something-or-other spat out his words in frustration, but no one paid him any attention.

“Keep it! The grace is overflowing!”

I deliberately held the bowl high to prevent the audience from throwing in more money and made my way back to the stage.

Wow. This amount of money was already well over my daily earnings.

Yoon something-or-other. With such a donation, I shall now refer to you as Yoon Daehyeop.

I looked at Yoon Daehyeop with a radiant smile. He was glaring at me with fury, his teeth still clenched.

“Are you angry?”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“Hey, Yoon Daehyeop.”

I didn’t plan on forgiving the one who tore out my heart just like that.

Onto the next plan.

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