Episode 98

Journey To Yichang (5)
1 week ago
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Bewilderment.

That was the feeling overwhelming Tang Geoho when he received the news of the Sung Family’s catastrophe. Without a moment’s delay, he made his way to the Sung Family residence upon hearing of the disaster.

“Let me ask once more. Hwarin. Where has that child gone?”

For Tang Geoho, the internal squabbles leading the Sung Family to the brink of ruin or the question of who would head the family were of no consequence.

Tang Hwarin. The child he had nurtured with care for over a decade. Information regarding her was his paramount concern.

He had arrived, fraught with worry, only to find a modicum of relief in knowing she was safe, but then to discover she was missing.

That her whereabouts were unknown to all. Inside, Tang Geoho felt an inferno of rage igniting.

“Senior. Are you threatening me by appearing so abruptly?”

From Seong Sehwi’s viewpoint, the situation was absurd. A teacher of a child with whom he had a strained relationship shows up and begins causing a stir.

For Seong Sehwi, who had been sacrificing sleep to restore the Sung Family, this situation was far from ideal.

“……I apologize. I lost control of my emotions upon learning that a child dear to me had vanished.”

Tang Geoho managed to soothe his emotions upon noticing Seong Sehwi’s disapproval.

He was, after all, within the Sung Family residence. Despite his seniority in the martial world, displaying anger towards the family’s highest authority was a clear violation of etiquette.

“I understand.”

“Could you inform me of the child’s whereabouts?”

“I’m unaware. I was preoccupied with handling the aftermath of that woman who defied heaven’s mandate, warning her not to interfere in family matters or face consequences later, but then she vanished without a trace.”

“Tsk. That woman again. Are you certain you have no idea where she might have gone?”

“My late father bequeathed a mansion in Shaanxi to my stepmother. It’s possible she sought refuge there, or perhaps she returned to her hometown.”

Seong Sehwi’s father and Tang Hwarin’s mother had no children together. Typically, when a husband passed away and the child from a previous marriage took over the household, the childless stepmother found herself in a precarious position.

To safeguard against such scenarios, Seong Sehwi’s father had arranged for a mansion in Shaanxi for Tang Hwarin’s mother.

However, Tang Hwarin’s mother was not content with merely the mansion; she aspired to claim the entire Sung Family estate.

“Either Shaanxi or Yichang.”

“That’s all I know. I wish I could offer more help, but family matters are consuming all my time. I’m afraid I can’t be of further assistance.”

Seong Sehwi courteously dismissed Tang Geoho, a discourteous elder from the martial world.

“Heh. No. You seem weary. I shall take my leave.”

How presumptuous. Tang Geoho was dissatisfied with the head of the Sung Family, yet as a guest, he couldn’t reject the host’s suggestion to depart.

Tang Geoho bid farewell to Seong Sehwi and exited his office.

‘Shaanxi or Yichang.’

Engrossed in thought, Tang Geoho made his way out of the Sung Family residence.

Both the mansion in Shaanxi and Yichang were distant, but Yichang was nearer. Nonetheless, Tang Hwarin’s mother had a strained relationship with her father, making her presence in Yichang likely as well.

If he could leverage the influence of the Sichuan Tang Family, locating Tang Hwarin would be straightforward. Yet, he was unable to use the Sichuan Tang Family’s resources for this purpose.

‘At last, I have crafted the ultimate vessel. The Sichuan Tang Family must remain oblivious to this.’

A faction within the Sichuan Tang Family was clandestinely engaged in forbidden poison experiments.
Tang Geoho was regarded as the head of this faction.

The vessel that Tang Geoho had dedicated over a decade to was something he could not forsake in his quest for Tang Hwarin.

He gingerly handled the small box he carried. Inside was a poison pill potent enough to fatally burn a master upon mere contact with their tongue.

‘Just need to administer this to her.’

Absorbing the poison pill would form a poison pill inside her body, akin to a spiritual creature. By doing so, he could prove that it was possible to artificially create a poison human in his generation.

The concern was if Tang Hwarin discovered the true nature of the poison pill and refused to swallow it.

‘I’ll become her official father and then tell her to swallow it.’

The child grew up not knowing what affection was. He could use that to his advantage.

If he became her father and officially recognized her as part of the Tang Family, the child, with nowhere else to turn, would swallow the poison pill.

She would be willing to endure the pain of her entire body melting away for that recognition.

She would become a poison human for him.

After years of effort, she was the perfect vessel.

“Master Seong Sehwi has collapsed!”

“He collapsed, foaming at the mouth!”

The people of the Sung Family rushed into Seong Sehwi’s office all at once.

It was just because the fool who couldn’t even manage his own family acted tired, so he gave him a bit of medicine, and now there’s such a fuss. Tang Geoho sneered inwardly.

The poison, which made it seem like he collapsed from overwork, meant that after teetering on the brink of death in bed for about a week, he would rise again, feeling as if he had been resurrected.

With a lightened heart and seeking a change of pace, he decided on his next destination.

“I’ll start with Yichang.”

Despite his tiger-like vigor, a man harboring a venomous snake in his heart headed towards Yichang.


“Criminal. Tang Hwarin, raise your head.”

I spoke to Tang Hwarin in the tone of an official conducting an interrogation, as if in a historical drama.

“Bullshit. What are you saying?”

“Ah! Criminal Tang Hwarin. You don’t realize the reason we can’t leave now is because of you.”

The day after I revealed my true thoughts to Tang Hwarin, even after we had finished breakfast, we still hadn’t departed for Yichang.

“Ha. Yeah. It’s my fault. Happy now? Are you?”

“Ah, Criminal Tang Hwarin. Such shamelessness. Is that why you squandered money into thin air?”

“Ugh!”

Tang Hwarin was at a loss for words, dumbfounded by my accusation, wondering if she really had done something wrong.

The reason we couldn’t depart was simple.

“Who would’ve thought you’d consider hidden weapons disposable.”

Tang Hwarin had exhausted all her hidden weapons dealing with bandits.

No. If you’re out of hidden weapons, you should think about recovering them. She walked away so confidently without looking back, so I didn’t say anything, but to be backstabbed like this.

I looked at her with incredulous laughter.

“Hidden weapons are supposed to be disposable, you know.”

Tang Hwarin defensively retorted, seemingly displeased with my laughter.

Was this the audacity of a lady? This was a woman who wouldn’t even lick the lid of a yogurt she bought.

“That’s something only the lady of the Sung Family can afford to say. In our current situation, you should’ve thought about recovering the hidden weapons.”

Just like wealthy golfers who didn’t bother looking for expensive golf balls they lose, she wouldn’t have needed to recover hidden weapons while at the Sung Family.

The problem was, once we left the Sung Family, we were like guns without infinite ammo cheats.

“Do you know how much you have to pay attention if you throw hidden weapons with the intent to recover them?”

Tang Hwarin looked at me as if asking, ‘do you even know hidden weapon techniques?’

“If it bothers you, just attach a string to the hidden weapon and throw it.”

In Joseon martial arts, there’s a famous sect that used swords with strings to control ten at the same time.

“Bullshit. Say something that makes sense.”

I know it’s nonsense, so don’t look at me with that incredulous face. Yeah, if you attached a string to a projectile, the trajectory became weird, and if the string was tangled or caught by the enemy, it’s chaos.

“Most of the remaining hidden weapons are for practice, so we need to buy new ones. The problem is, this backward place doesn’t sell them.”

I hadn’t planned to say anything until Tang Hwarin, looking rather embarrassed, suggested we go shopping for hidden weapons. After all, I had made some money from the medicine yesterday.

I was just going to buy her some hidden weapons and warn her, ‘You know, every time you throw one, it’s like selling two bottles of stamina potion, right?’

Unexpectedly, this backward town only had blacksmiths selling farm tools or crude swords.

“So, we can’t even use poison techniques.”

Tang Hwarin avoided my frustrated gaze as she spoke. True to her words, it was difficult to find materials for poison techniques here, and they were expensive.

“Don’t you know how to use swordsmanship or any tricks?”

While the Sichuan Tang Family was known for poison techniques and hidden weapon skills, they must have other martial arts. There might be minor techniques like whip arts or swordsmanship in the Sichuan Tang Family.

“I learned a bit when I was young, but I didn’t achieve much.”

“What a pity. It would have been useful now if you had diligently practiced.”

I chided her with a tinge of regret.

“It’s not that I didn’t learn because I was not diligent, but because I couldn’t.”

Tang Hwarin countered my words with a tone of injustice.

“Did Tang Geoho only teach you poison techniques?”

Since poison techniques were supposed to be her main focus. Maybe he deliberately prevented her from learning other techniques.

“Not that, it’s just that after I hit puberty…”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“After puberty, I grew in ways that…”

Tang Hwarin glanced briefly at her own body, indicating parts that would seemingly cause significant trouble in handling conventional weapons, before trailing off, embarrassed.

“Ah… Sorry.”

I apologized, turning my head to the side in embarrassment.

Right. With that chest, it seems like practicing to launch chest missiles would make her stronger than using tricks or swordsmanship.

“Ha. Damn. It’s all because of me…….”

Tang Hwarin sighed with frustration and guilt.

Did I worry her too much?

“It’s okay! It’s also my fault for not being careful. Don’t worry too much about it. What could happen?”

We simply couldn’t live here for a thousand years.

If there’s only one solution, there’s no need for me to worry too. It would help the journey more to alleviate the concerns of a worried companion.

I smiled at her as if it was nothing serious.

“Oh? Uh-uh.”

Tang Hwarin’s eyes widened slightly at my words, and I saw her mouth open slightly behind her mask.

“Don’t worry too much. Since we have money until the next village, let’s pack well and head out.”

“……You too. Even if something happens, I’ll protect you, so don’t worry.”

Tang Hwarin looked at me for a moment before speaking in a tone that seemed to make a promise.

Why was she suddenly saying something so embarrassing?

“Right. Let’s make sure to take the remaining hidden weapons and buy plenty more in the next village.”

“Yeah. If we’re short on money, I’ll help sell the medicine again.”

Tang Hwarin smiled slightly and nodded at me.

What’s this? Did revealing my inner thoughts yesterday work? Somehow, it felt a bit more harmonious.

‘Even if I’m worried, it’s not like a guard is going to drop from the sky, so we have to depart.’

I was about to get up when I felt someone’s presence next to me.

“Excuse me. Are you the one who was at the open space yesterday?”

Turning my head, I saw a few men who appeared to be martial artists standing there.

“Yes, that’s me. Excuse me, but who are you?”

Could it be they’re here because the strength didn’t increase as advertised? Then I might have to explain that after drinking just one bottle, even a black-haired barbarian would feel like a black dragon, so there could be differences due to race.

I looked at the man who had approached me, showing no sign of anxiety.

After a moment’s pause, the man said something unexpected.

“We are couriers from the Okcheon Courier Service. The stamina recovery medicine you sold yesterday, could we possibly make a purchase?”

Huh? If they’re couriers from the courier service, they’re professionals in escorting people.

A good idea flashed through my mind.

“Ah! You’ve come for an additional purchase!”

This could be an opportunity to make use of a heaven-sent escort.

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