The smell of food makes me open my eyes.
I rub my eyes, thinking that it is nice that I am not smelling poison. I look at the sunlight coming through the window and head to where the smell is coming from.
As I arrive at the table, I see people from yesterday already sitting and eating. The sight of me makes them go stiff.
I sit down in an empty chair.
“Give me food.”
As the person next to me hands me chopsticks, a servant begins to place side dishes in front of me. While I am eating, the head of the service agency speaks.
“The service group left last night.”
I nod as I begin rummaging through the bland green vegetables and eat some unknown fried food.
As I continue to eat silently, he asks again.
“Will the Baijian Society and the South Horizon Sect fight?”
“We are worried even if the South Horizon Sect wins.”
“We have heard the rumors of Situ Kang. And if he asks us to raise our dues, what power do we hold to disobey him? Rumors say that he kills those he doesn’t like.”
“Look here, head of services.”
“Is the Baijian Society any different? They are the same. And I am eating here, so should we talk about the money in the morning? The rice is nice, and so are the side dishes, but you speak about the payment, the change in power and whatnot, when you haven’t lived poorly. What are you trying to do?”
Gong Doo-chan, the head of services, goes silent. I then take a drink of water and say.
“Since you are stuck with the Unorthodox side, shut your mouth if you have been able to eat well and live well all this time. You don’t have thoughts about losing money. I have my men attached to the Baijian Society for the sake of the future, and if it gets reported to me that you have been treating people like slaves, then it will not end with a meal like this. Today isn’t the time for you to worry about Situ Kang. You need to worry about me coming back.”
“If the Baijian Society wins. I will deal with their remnants. If the South Horizon Sect wins, I will either kill or defeat Situ Kang. There is nothing more to do. However, I am different from those two. I do not care about money. But if you cross the line, then I don’t mind walking into the other world to get paid properly.”
I look at each one of them.
“You have to do your tasks properly. Don’t do anything strange.”
I have been craving food since morning, so I ended the conversation.
“But who is your cook? The food tastes so good.”
As the flow of the conversation takes a turn, the atmosphere becomes colder.
A man I don’t know, who seems like he’s in his 30s, asks me.
“But where did you come from? You seem like you’re from the Murim Alliance.”
“Why? Do I seem weak if I’m not from there?”
“Then you are from the alliance?”
“No. I am not from such a pathetic place.”
“I came from the side of Namhwa.”
“From Namhwa means you came from the south. I hear a warrior named Dae Na-chal is famous there.”
I nod my head and drink the soup.
“He is famous. His disciples are also famous.”
That same man tilts his head.
“So you’re from his faction?”
“From his faction? No. That man died at my hands. I also killed his 12 subordinates. I’m eating right now, and this topic is quite weird. Are you curious about how I killed him?”
Once I clean up the rice bowl, I put the chopsticks down.
“I had a nice meal. How much did it all cost?”
As I take out a pouch from my sleeves, the head of services says.
“How can we take your money? You have saved our lives by telling us of the situation immediately.”
“Life is life. You need to get paid money, though. How much?”
The man then says.
“Then I want two common coins.”
I glare at the guy.
“Why is it so expensive? Do I look like some country boy?”
“Then I will take just one.”
I take out two coins and set them down next to the rice bowl.
“You did a lot, from letting me use a guest room to not poisoning the meals.”
As I get up from the table, I look at the man.
“Head of services.”
“You should tell all of the Baijian Society merchants clinging to it that the society will collapse soon. Tell them to return to their old ways. Their cash cow will vanish, so tell them to work like proper merchants for once.”
“If they want to play around to be heroes, then I will have to kill them.”
“If they make strange trades that end up hurting the common people, then I will send my subordinates to take care of them.”
“Yes. I will. But who should I say is telling them this?”
“The person who killed their leader, the one who stayed back and then came to reap the benefits.”
“And, listen carefully.”
“Tell them as well that I will find anyone from the assassin group that tried to kill me. Before that, I will forgive the one who gives me information about the assassins to any of my subordinates. There are no other options.”
“I will relay those words.”
“Before that, I have one request. The ones who contacted those assassins…”
“Actually, we only…”
“No, just imagine it in your head. Who is it? We can sit here until you remember something if you don’t speak. At this point, I should also do my role properly.”
I look up at the clear sky from the room’s entrance. It is a clear and sunny day, so my black clothes are ill-fitting.
I look at the sky and continue.
“Give me clothes that the chief wears. These are too dark.”
“Prepare those which fit my body perfectly.”
For a moment, I think about paying only two coins for a room, food, and clothing. Still, the coins are of high value. I then take my dagger from my waist and ask him.
“You cannot remember anything?”
After a long moment of thinking, he finally comes up with some information.
“It wasn’t a merchant. I heard a rumor that a member of the Unorthodox side had hired assassins to kill any and all competing sects. It is a place that frequently makes requests…”
“Where are they?”
“They are the group that has taken over the commercial side of Jong Pyeong lake.”
I exit the place after I change my clothes.
Nam Garak decides to look into the movement of the South Horizon Sect and the Baijian Society.
Now that the plan has been set, all we have to do is watch the fight unfold. We are not in a hurry to leave before seeing this.
I changed my role from a man in black to an affluent young man. I still have a weapon strapped to a belt around my shoulder. The outfit is perfect, and I look handsome.
Okay, maybe not.
Well, I am doing at least two roles in two days.
As an aspiring blade user, I don’t dare to practice anything in this lovely weather from my previous life as a sword user inthis present life.
Like a proper young man, I continue to move along at a slow pace.
The client is the Low Down Sect, with Lee Zaha as an attendant. The weapon is a dagger, and the destination is Jong Pyong Lake.
As I move south like a delivery man, I decide to take a nap at the lake’s shore and then play around with some stones.
I descend along the southeast side of the lake and notice the number of street vendors and shops increasing.
There are many stores with names I’ve never seen.
The most unusual one is a place called the Service Men Restaurant. I am curious as it looks like a place where people dressed like me would eat, but I choose not to enter.
As I look inside, I realize that the place is quiet, with only a few people inside. I then feel someone touch my leather belt from behind.
I pull the man responsible and slap him across the face.
The loud sound from the slap makes the thief, and everyone around, stare at me. I don’t like his arrogant look, so I slap him again.
This thief must have seen my clothing and assumed I was an easy mark.
I slap him three, four, and five times in a row to make him change his gaze. Since no apology is coming, I make sure that at least four teeth are knocked out with my next slap.
His eyes are still full of rage despite not knowing if he might die or not. We have a short staring contest before I give him a smile.
‘Nice. See you later, boy.’
After some messing around, I go into the restaurant, sit at the entrance, and order some food while facing the door.
Men with fierce eyes are looking at me, probably colleagues of the thief I slapped. Once my stomach is filled with some tasteless noodles, I drink a cup of bitter tea and look at the entrance as I call a server over.
“Are there Unorthodox people here?”
“What do they do?”
“There is an alliance here. I think they’re called the Yunhae Brotherhood. They collect taxes and protection money from the shops near the lake.”
“Their name is the Yunhae Brotherhood?”
“It sounds like a fruit shop.”
The server becomes silent and hurriedly disappears into the kitchen.
The colleagues of the one I slapped are gathering at the entrance. Soon, a man that looks like their representative comes in.
“Brother, when you are done eating, come out.”
I beckon him to get closer as I have something to say and then slap him. The slap is so hard that he falls over on his ass.
“Don’t forget honorifics.”
The location that I am in now is between the South Horizon Sect and the Baijian Society. That means this is the most commercial area possible in the region, and the local Unorthodox Faction people are acting as if they don’t know this. There is a chance that they might participate in the war.
Although this is a detour, I am wasting time because I could have been waiting for the South Horizon Sect to move.
Moreover, if an Unorthodox Sect hires assassins, meeting them is the duty of any warrior in Kangho.
As I hand the server the payment for the meal, he looks worried.
“Sir, be careful.”
“I don’t need to be.”
As I walk outside, I see the two I slapped waiting for me alongside some other men.
Too many of them are there for them to be thieves.
I would be unsure if someone asked me if they looked like bandits. They probably do bad things, so they might be pickpockets or something more serious.
Naturally, the people surrounding me speak in a calm tone.
“Little brother. Let’s move somewhere else instead of here.”
“Let’s do that.”
Them calling me little brother feels a bit weird. I then ask them a question as we walk down the street.
“If you are from the Yunhae Brotherhood, please inform your leader.”
“You are quite the cheeky one.”
The guy next to me frowns and looks at me, resulting in him getting a slap.
“Guide me, you bastards. Stop staring now.”
In an instant, a knife suddenly comes at me from the left. I grab it with my bare hands and break it easily. A moment of silence passes as I break the knife’s blade in two.
One of them shouts as his hand is still stretched out.
I hold the broken part of the knife and immediately shove it into his throat.
As the man with his throat pierced falls without much fuss, I step to the side.
Another one then says.
“We are not of that brotherhood.”
“We are a sub-group that helps them.”
“Ah, is that so? What is the difference, then? Guide me.”
To be honest, these people are probably aspiring wannabes who want to join that brotherhood.
They snatch things in broad daylight and act like they are given free rein around this place. Yet they decide to bring their whole group over for a slap? Well, those who saw what I just did are now silent.
“My little brothers, if you point a sword at such service-oriented people, you will die. Did you think I would spare you?”
I continue after checking the surroundings.
“I will kill all those who try to run. Guide me to the Yunhae Brotherhood right now.”
I take the dagger from my belt and hold it to my waist.
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