Chapter 123 - We Are Manly Men

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Elder Heo Gyeom replies to my rudeness.

“…certainly in my youth, I was a manly man. It’s been over half a century.”

I nod.

“I don’t know what you expect from me, but I can’t help if the Blood Night Palace remains a demonic cult.”

Elder Heo Gyeom nods.

“As I said, the Blood Night Palace will turn into a force that does not bother, kill, or extort the weak. We will need your help to transform. I’m going to nag until my last breath. Fortunately, the Palace Leader listens to me well, so my efforts won’t go in vain.”

I naturally talk a lot of rubbish, but I feel heavy when making a promise.

Yet somehow, I can’t avoid the old man’s blaring gaze.

“Let’s do that, Elder.”

“Do I have your word, Leader?”

I look into the Elder’s eyes and promise.

“I take the pledge of this brilliantly aged real man and a real young man. The Low Down sect shall help the Blood Night Palace when the Blood Night Palace leaves the demonic path.”

With just a few words, I am now on the side of the Blood Night Palace.

Is this the right choice? When I see the Elder’s widening smile, I feel like I’ve been checkmated.

Elder Heo Gyeom is not just an ordinary old man.

“I don’t care who the Blood Night Palace fights. As long as you don’t persecute those who don’t cultivate martial arts, the Low Down Sect Leader will help you.”

Elder Heo Gyeom replies.

“I’ll remember that.”

Anyway, Elder Heo is the one who’s in charge of this situation.

Suddenly, Elder Heo Gyeom flicks his finger, and a young man, who is waiting nearby, approaches.

“Yong-myeong.”

“Yes.”

Everyone looks at Elder Heo.

“Do you know what I’m going to order?”

The young man named Yong-myeong then says.

“I have a rough idea. Please go ahead.”

“The third bookcase, 6th row, the 13th book. Bring it to me.”

“Yes.”

Elder Heo Gyeom looks at me as Yong-myeong, who obeys the order, hurries out of the hall.

“Leader.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not many martial arts in the world use both extreme Yin and Yang. Only a few have researched it. Although I lost my inner cultivation, I did not neglect to research and studying martial arts. I have a book that summarizes the combination of the polar opposite Qi.”

I look at the Elder with my arms crossed.

“Hm.”

“Remember, it’s only for reference. Martial arts are not a study that distinguishes between black and white. Everyone has a different physical condition, environment, and type of Qi. Do you understand me?”

“Yes.”

“Let me briefly explain the combination. What happens when the water in your right hand and water in your left hand are put together?”

“It will overflow.”

“How about holding snowballs in both hands and putting them together?”

“The snowball will get bigger.”

“What about a stone in one hand and a snowball in the other.”

“It becomes more powerful.”

“It is a book that explains the expression and harmony of Qi using such simple analogies. How to trigger and handle the energy. How to actually combine them to create power. It is divided between how it is handled within or outside the body. My experience, my fights, and the beatings that my withered body went through and endured are all recorded in the book. In fact, I never thought I would deliver this directly to someone, so it only has a temporary title. It’s called the Observations of Yin and Yang.”

Instantly, Heo Gyeom is giving out all of his martial art theories like a rain shower, yet I can still understand everything without missing a word.

This is because it is a theory that exactly matches my worries.

Elder Heo explains further.

“The same goes for the principle of Taegeuk, which is mentioned in Taoist philosophy. The most efficient moment when yin and yang meet is as a Taegeuk. The moment the two forces collide, they explode. To counter this, I studied reverse Taegeuk for a long time in the cult, but in the end, when you try to reach the top, I realized that you think about the same thing. Whether it’s reaching the peak or straying off the demonic path, it’s just a road sign on the road to completion.”

Elder Heo’s words are not directed only to me but also to the Sword Demon, Pervert Demon, Blood Night Palace Leader, and Gyo Young, all here who trained in martial arts.

Soon after, Yong-myeong returns and presents the book to Elder Heo. Elder Heo tales it and gives it to me without expressing any conditions or feelings.

“Please take a look and refer to it.”

Since I have agreed to help Blood Night Palace, I take the book.

“I’ll take a good look.”

“Yong-myeong, it’s time for us to go.”

When Elder Heo looks at Yong-myeong, Yong-myeong helps Elder Heo up.

Elder Heo then looks around the audience and says.

“You guys can continue. And it would be great to take Yong-myeong with you when you attack the Four Flow Valley. I will at least ask him not to cause you any trouble.”

Everyone looks at the young man named Yong-myeong.

Judging from the flow of the conversation, he must be Elder Heo’s young disciple to who he has been teaching his collective martial arts.

The Blood Night Palace Leader rises from her seat and says to Elder Heo.

“Elder, please have a safe trip back.”

Elder Heo meets her eyes and says,

“You have to sleep early to live long. I’ll be off first.”

His words no longer sound normal, so everyone also stands up from their seats.

“Have a good rest, Elder.”

“See you again, Elder Governor.”

“Goodbye, sir.”

I briefly stop the Elder and Yong-myeong.

“Wait a minute.”

I place the book from the Elder on the table and say.

“Elder, I will help you to your chamber.”

Yong-myeong, who is supporting the Elder, looks at Elder Heo and me in astonishment. Elder Heo Gyeom nods, and Yong-myeong steps aside.

I approach Elder Heo and say.

“Two real men will be on their way, so don’t come disturbing us.”

I hold on to Heo Gyeom’s side and help him with his frail body. His body is so light that I feel like I can lift him with my finger.

Heo Gyeom pats the back of my hand, which is assisting him.

“Let’s go, Leader.”

I walk very slowly with the old man. It will be a short but long journey, so I slowly wet my lips.

“Elder.”

“Go ahead.”

“You are still half a century older than my late grandfather. My grandfather spent his life working in a guest inn, and you must have had a really great journey since he survived the demonic path. You must’ve seen a lot of crazy people.”

Elder Heo grins.

“Don’t even start. So many disputes happen within the cult, so I met a lot of demons.”

Only then do we finally arrive at the main hall and look outside. The clean path to the inner courtyard feels really far away.

If I carry the elderly man on my back, we can walk past in seconds, but we are manly men, so we keep walking.

“If my grandfather in heaven sees me now, he will be very surprised.”

“Why is that?”

“How surprised will he be to see a guy who couldn’t even make noodles and mop properly suddenly going around beating up Kangho warriors? He was probably concerned if I’d taken over the inn and worked every day. He must be worried to see me wandering around Kangho.”

“Do you regret coming to Kangho?”

I shake my head.

“I like it now.”

“So do I. There is something called the afterlife, so if there is Kangho, I will live there without hesitation.”

I nod in agreement.

“I would too.”

While walking along the street with the Elder, unknown petals are flying in front of us, so we stop walking for a while.

It is only when the fluttering petals pass that we resume walking again.

“It took more than half a century for me to understand the world and realize the foolishness of people, including myself. I have seen many people get more twisted as they were pressed, criticized, and scolded. That’s why you shouldn’t do that. At times, I was in despair over the fact that there was no end to killing and being killed.”

“I’m a foolish man, too, so if I had met you earlier, I would have been scolded a lot.”

“Since when have you been so crooked?”

I grin and recall my old memories.

“Well, I guess I’ve heard drunk people’s nonsense too often ever since I could understand words, but it’s been too long for me, even for my age. I’ve been crooked since I was very young. I thought I’d beat up those stupid drunkards first when I grew up.…. How about you?”

“I spent my whole life training and fighting. I couldn’t afford to look back. It was not until one day when I lost all the martial arts that supported me, that I looked at the world differently. There was a time when I thought martial arts were everything, but it wasn’t until I lost it did I realize that it isn’t everything. I realized it too late because I’m slow. Fortunately, perhaps of good karma, no one in the cult tried to kill me.”

“I assume so. No matter how evil they are, manly men should be respected.”

“One day, when I firmly made the decision to kill the cult leader, it was after I had already lost my martial arts. I was so old that I had forgotten I had lost my martial arts.”

I smile and reply.

“How nice would it be if you fought the leader in your prime days.”

“It wasn’t easy to deny where you were and think otherwise.”

“Indeed.”

I follow the gaze of the Elder and spot his residence. It isn’t a fancy house but a cozy wooden house with a front yard for training. I take a slow look around the modest place of this old former demonic master.

The Elder says.

“Let’s sit at the bench.”

I guide the old man to the bench, and we sit down together.

As I sit and look to the front, the main building where the Palace Leader stays and the scenery of the inn are also easily visible.

“Leader, your cultivation is fast, but don’t let your guard down.”

“I will.”

“I taught this to my disciple, Yong-myeong. Please use it as a reference.

“I’m listening.”

“When you meet someone with a bigger dream than you, serve them as your master. If you meet someone with a smaller bowl, leave without regrets. However, if you find an outstanding human being that you can’t tolerate, be their friend and stick to it with all your loyalty. It is difficult for any master to prevent backstabbing after sharing a deep conversation with a friend. Do you know what logic this is?”

I make eye contact with Elder Heo Gyeom and nod.

“It will be the logic of a persistent killer.”

Elder Huh Gyeom says.

“That’s right. Yong-myeong is the last assassin I’m nurturing. Bet and devote your life to your target; only think of the mission at the most appropriate timing. It’s a method to use when you have to assassinate a target that’s hard to kill. He’s a disciple I taught with the cult leader in mind. My fight with the leader is not over yet.”

I touch Elder Heo Gyeom’s hand. He has lost his cultivation, but the calluses thickly attached to each knuckle remain the same.

“Were you the First instructor who eliminated the Four Flow Valley?”

“I often think about how I couldn’t catch the 7th Instructor then, but I didn’t know he would resurface. Be careful. This means that the 7th Instructor raised another assassin in the time since, just as I raised Yong-myeong.”

I nod and look at the distant sky.

“There are enemies everywhere. I have trouble sleeping because of the assassin. How can I overcome this? Recently, I have been dozing off while eating….”

The Elder becomes lost in thought and then replies.

“There is no method. Assassins also have a tough time reducing sleep. It’s bearable to endure for three or four days, but it’s hard for even top assassins to endure for more than a dozen days. You have no choice but to stay patient, knowing that you’re in a more comfortable position than the assassins. Make good use of your men, too. The best thing is to keep your assassins, but you will never gain peace if you’re paranoid.”

I sigh at the old man’s response.

“It’s not easy to survive.”

“It’s also a joy of life to live so fiercely.”

“That’s right. That’s the life of a real man.”

Elder Heo looks up at me when I stand up from the bench.

“Come and see this old man one more time before he dies, Leader.”

I hold Elder Heo’s wrinkly hand.

“Our old real man sunbae, please live for a long time. I’ll come to see you again.”

Elder Heo nods and smiles.

“I’ll be waiting.”

We are both real men, so we part ways after a few nods.

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