Episode 99

Okcheon Express Agency (1)
1 week ago
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Express Agency

Simply put, an express agency in the martial world of the Central Plains was akin to a courier company with martial prowess. An express courier was essentially an armed delivery person, led by a head courier.

In the perilous world of martial arts, transporting goods or people involved numerous risks, necessitating martial strength in the transportation business.

In martial arts fiction, express couriers ranged from being mere victims of robbery, crying out for the protagonist’s help, to esteemed individuals who chose the courier path over official positions, even after passing the imperial examination.

“I, too, initially wanted to become an express courier or a porter.”

As a martial arts fiction aficionado who fell into poverty, I once sought work at an express agency.

I thought that with my strength, I could at least become a porter, if not an armed express courier. However, I was rejected from the start because of my black hair, marking me as a foreigner.

After working hard, I eventually left the express agency and became a porter whom the couriers desperately wanted to recruit as their ace. Too bad for them. They missed their chance.

“It’s an honor to meet the famous express couriers of Okcheon Express Agency in such a place!”

I greeted the man who introduced himself as the head courier and the surrounding martial artists with a welcoming face.

“Ha ha. You know of the Okcheon Express Agency?”

“I’ve heard that it prioritizes the safety of its cargo above all, faces any danger head-on, and always keeps its delivery promises with utmost faithfulness.”

“You really know your stuff! Even a foreigner has heard of our agency’s reputation. Our efforts have not been in vain!”

“Indeed, it seems so, Head Courier.”

The head courier exchanged glances with the other couriers and smiled contentedly.

They had no idea.

I merely praised what a courier company was obviously supposed to do.

“It’s regrettable to have met the famous couriers of Okcheon but to have missed such an opportunity.”

I said to them with the face of a salesperson regretting a missed major sales opportunity.

“Ah, just yesterday, our porter bought some medicine that worked wonders, and we wanted to give it to our weary couriers on the road, but alas, we’ve run out.”

The head courier genuinely sighed in front of us.

It’s too early to feel sorry. We could make more medicine by visiting an herbalist, but they deliberately said they were out.

I had won the couriers’ favor, and they failed to achieve their goal.

“There’s a way if it’s not urgent.”

This allowed me to make another proposal with a good image.

“What way might that be?”

“It’s just that the local pharmacy has run out of ingredients. If we move to another village, I can make medicine for the couriers.”

“You’re offering to accompany us and make the medicine? Hmm.”

The head courier eyed me with suspicion.

It’s a natural reaction. A stranger with black hair, a foreigner, wanted to join our mission to make medicine? It’s impossible not to be suspicious.

They didn’t outright reject or draw their swords demanding the truth because I started off on a positive note, and they had an unfulfilled goal.

‘This is when I have a trump card to use.’

It’s about leveraging my innate cheat.

“Ha ha. How could a foreigner negotiator like me possibly make medicine? The medicine will be made by this young lady here.”

I met the head courier’s gaze and then silently directed his attention to Tang Hwarin, who was quietly standing there.

“This lady is…?”

Purple hair, green eyes. A mysterious woman wearing a mask and known for making medicine.

Someone of the head courier’s stature would immediately think of a certain family.

This was exactly what I needed to utilize.

“She is Miss Tang Hwarin of the Sichuan Tang Family.”

“Sichuan Tang Family! It’s a pleasure to meet you for the first time. I am Ok Da-am, the head courier of Okcheon Express Agency.”

Notice how he naturally lowered his stance upon hearing ‘Sichuan Tang Family’.

After all, it couldn’t be helped. The martial arts families were the undeniable leaders of their regions, and the Sichuan Tang Family was among the top tier.

In martial arts fiction, a martial arts family could be considered the ruler of a region. It’s not without reason that there’s usually only one such family per city.

Of course, their martial arts were considered a notch below the Nine Sects and One Union, but their wealth, power, and connections were beyond imagination.

It’s as if a chaebol heiress appeared in front of a courier company’s manager. Naturally, one must show respect.

“…….”

Tang Hwarin gave the head courier a slight bow without saying a word.

“Ha ha. Miss Tang Hwarin is quite shy.”

“I understand. However, my experience is limited, and I’ve never heard of Miss Tang Hwarin before.”

The head courier glanced beyond Tang Hwarin’s mask, showing understanding, then turned to ask me.

“It could be her first venture into the martial world. Have you heard of Tang Geoho, by any chance?”

“Ah! I have heard of Tang Geoho of the Sichuan Tang Family.”

“Miss Tang Hwarin’s master is Tang Geoho. She has been raised as the precious jewel of her family and wishes to use her studied pharmacology to do good in the world, hence her debut in the martial world.”

“Ah, so that’s why the medicine was sold at such a fair price. You are doing good work.”

The head courier, thinking Tang Hwarin was performing acts of kindness, lightly greeted her with admiration.
Tang Hwarin awkwardly returned the greeting, then sent me a glance that screamed, ‘What on earth are you talking about without making it obvious to others?’

Just stay put.

I had greased the wheels well, and using your lineage, we could take an easier path.

“Miss Tang Hwarin does not like it when those seeking her medicine leave empty-handed. Since we were planning to leave anyway, why not accompany us to the next village?”

See? Just by accompanying us, you might establish even a minor connection with the Sichuan Tang Family.

Hard to refuse, right?

“Miss Tang Hwarin, is that true?”

The head courier cautiously sought Tang Hwarin’s consent. She nodded her head like a demure and taciturn lady at the man’s words.

“Ah! If you really would do us the honor, I will host you both as guests of the Okcheon Express Agency.”

There you go. This was why one must leverage connections, whether through blood, region, or academia.

Thanks to the head courier’s approval, we were able to join the express journey as guests to a village close to Yichang.


“Is this really okay?”

Sitting in the back of the wagon carrying the cargo, Tang Hwarin asked me in a bewildered tone.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“All that you said was a lie! ……Right?”

Tang Hwarin’s voice started to rise, then she hurriedly whispered, lowering her voice so only I could hear, worried others might listen in.

“Didn’t you understand what I said yesterday?”

It felt like I was looking at a student who laughed, saying, “Hehe, I studied with a tutor the night before the exam, but then the teacher forgot and I got the question wrong,” despite explaining everything.

“What?”

“Did I lie about anything earlier?”

“Uh… didn’t you?”

“It’s true that you’re of Sichuan Tang Family lineage, that Tang Geoho is your master, and that you were raised as the treasured jewel of your ‘family.’ Maybe because it’s for a good cause? Selling Sichuan Tang Family’s fatigue recovery potion at such a cheap price could be considered a good deed.”

“But… I’m not a formal member of the Sichuan Tang Family.”

“Stop trying to sound so noble.”

“What?”

Tang Hwarin glared at me, slightly annoyed by my reprimand.

“It’s their fault you ended up like this, isn’t it? What’s wrong with using the name a bit? If it were up to me, I wouldn’t just sell the name; I’d barge into the Sichuan Tang Family and demand, ‘Bring out those who did this to Tang Hwarin!’”

“Bullshit. Don’t say things you don’t mean.”

How did you know?

“Does it sound like a lie?”

In situations like this, you need to be bold. I brazenly retorted with a serious face to Tang Hwarin.

“Uh… really? Is that how it is?”

Since I didn’t back down, Tang Hwarin’s eyes wavered, and suddenly she avoided my gaze and bowed her head.
You’re welcome. I was thankful, too, since I could ride the carriage by selling your lineage.

“Anyway, what I did just now, like the medicine yesterday, was simply promoting you. That’s not a crime, right?”

“Yep, yep.”

If you’re going to agree, at least look me in the eyes. Why won’t you meet my gaze? Well, it’s good that you understand, at least.

With Tang Hwarin’s dissatisfaction gone, the journey became comfortable.

“Stop! Stop!”

Two days into our journey with Okcheon Express Agency, a loud voice suddenly came from the front.
What’s happening? Is there a landslide blocking the way?

“Hey, Kang Yun-ho. Be careful.”

Tang Hwarin, with a wary demeanor, looked around and spoke to me.

“What’s going on?”

“Ha ha ha ha! I wondered who was carrying this cargo, and it turned out to be the Okcheon Express Agency!”

A booming voice that seemed to shake the mountains came from the procession. Then, as if on cue, armed warriors appeared from behind, blocking the path.

Bandits, huh? I stood up in the wagon to see what was happening at the front.

Huh? That hair color, could it be?

“Stay put, or I’ll throw whatever hidden weapons I have left at them.”

Tang Hwarin, clutching the few hidden weapons she had, wore a tense expression.

You didn’t need to be so nervous.

“Just put down your weapon and stay put.”

I calmed her down with a nonchalant attitude.

“They’re just bandits. Why stay put?”

“Look at the express couriers in front. See if they’ve drawn their swords.”

I pointed out the express couriers, who were holding swords, to Tang Hwarin. They were clearly on edge, hands on their waists, but their swords were not yet drawn.

“Right. Why is that?”

“Look at the bandit leader who appeared at the front. Notice the color of his hair.”

“The hair color? It’s green. Wait, green is…”

People with unkempt green hair were standing at both the front and rear.

It’s a ridiculous setup, but in this world, green-haired individuals appearing in the mountains with swords can only belong to one category.

“That’s right. It’s the Green Forest.”

Green Forest.

If the bandits I encountered before were closer to subsistence thieves, these ones were akin to a corporate martial force.

They set up forts in mountains with high traffic, maintain the paths, and spend their days waiting for caravans or express agencies to pass by.

People, despite fearing the Green Forest, had no choice but to pay the toll if they didn’t want to take a detour.

As long as the line was long, the Green Forest didn’t shed blood if there’s no resistance, merely collecting tolls and letting travelers pass.

Thus, they’ve earned nicknames like “Pay Road Gang” or “Martial World’s Tollgate.”

“Isn’t that the Chief of Black Tiger Fort! It’s been a long time. How have you been?”

The head courier at the front greeted the chief as if he was meeting a senior from the martial world after a long time.

“I’ve been well. You seem busy lately. It’s hard to see your face. Ha ha ha!”

“Are they too friendly with each other?”

Tang Hwarin commented in a disgruntled tone upon hearing the conversation between the head courier and the chief.

“It’s a hostile symbiotic relationship.”

“Hostile symbiosis?”

“The more Green Forest there is, the more people will request the express agency’s services, and the express agency gets on good terms with the Green Forest to reduce the toll fees.”

“It’s hard to accept that we’re being extorted by bandits.”

“That’s just how the world works.”

Even as I said it, there were things hard to accept.

Why did every officer in the Green Forest have green hair in this world?

The world mentioned that martial arts could sometimes change hair color, but this was too much.

It’s not like all these bandits graduated from the same academy and got a job as bandits. Did they undergo convergent evolution to avoid detection in the mountains?

“Just wait a bit, and the way will open. Let’s sit back and relax.”

I wasn’t the one paying the toll, nor did I need to prepare any coins on the side. I comfortably sat back down in the rear of the wagon.

“To raise the toll by tenfold! Do you think that’s reasonable? Okcheon Express Agency! Everyone, draw your swords!”

This was bad.


Everyone had a plausible plan until they were hit.

“Kang Yun-ho! Stay behind me!”

In a panic, Tang Hwarin positioned me behind her.

“Barbarian shield!”

I diligently blocked incoming spears and swords with my Jade Face Self-Protection Technique.

“Aaah!”

Suddenly, a spear flew from somewhere, and blood began to pour from Tang Hwarin’s thigh.

“Hehehe. What a woman.”

Then, a green-haired Green Forest officer with a sinister voice swung his sword towards Tang Hwarin.

“Barbarian punch!”

“Aargh!”

I accelerated in an instant by bursting internal energy at the Yongchun point on the sole of my foot, using the footwork I had practiced, and blew away the jaw of the unsuspecting Green Forest officer.

“Tang Hwarin! Are you okay?”

“Uh, uh-huh.”

“Save the porter!”

“The chief courier has been stabbed! Help!”

“No!”

This was bad. The decision of the head courier of Okcheon Express Agency was the worst move. As if waiting for this moment, numerous Green Forest bandits hidden in the forest appeared and began to overpower the porters and the head courier too easily.

“Hey! Climb on!”

I calmly tied a cloth around Tang Hwarin’s thigh to stop the bleeding and offered my back to her.

“Damn! What do we do?”

“We’ll run towards the area with fewer bandits. Use all the hidden weapons you have left!”

“Got it!”

Tang Hwarin climbed onto my broad back and tightly hugged my neck.

Wow. What’s this feeling? My mind momentarily paused due to the overwhelming weight I felt on my back. This wasn’t the time for this.

We needed to get up and run.

“Combination complete! Let’s go, Hwarinho!”

Since Tang Hwarin and Kang Yun-ho combined, it’s Hwarinho.

“What have you been saying all this time? Really.”

Tang Hwarin made a comment as if it was absurd, but I wasn’t one to pay attention to that.

The sturdy legs of Kang Yun-ho, adapted to the martial world!

The hands of moving artillery, Tang Hwarin!

The brain of Kang Yun-ho, calculating the optimal route!

The softness of Tang Hwarin, acting like airbags in case of accidents!

If this were an old robot anime, it would be the perfect combination form only seen at the ending!

“Let’s gooooooooo.”

We sprinted towards the area with the fewest Green Forest bandits.

“Capture those bastards!”

“Yes!”

And we were immediately captured.

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