The fact that I want to hit Cha Sung-tae whenever I see his face ranks him up there with the Left Hand of Illuminating Light in my personal punchability list.
Following that train of thought, I briefly remember the Left Hand of Illuminating Light.
The man gained fame in the Demon Cult due to his peerless wisdom.
He was the youngest Left Hand of Illuminating Light in the history of the Demon Cult when he was promoted, being two to three years younger than I was.
Left Hand wasn't someone who was raised inside the Demon Clan but was recruited from outside of the cult.
He was from an Unorthodox Sect in the Murim. He was forced to throw his lot with the Demon Cult due to rumors of his sexual harassment of women from notable clans, making him a public enemy.
In this life, I am planning to stop the Left Hand of Illuminating Light before he joins the cult.
Although he is a pervert, he is very good at martial arts.
I'll just beat him up if he does anything perverted.
I'm improving much faster than my past self, so I am thinking of gathering manpower by meeting the talents I know of in advance. I will then make them my underlings, harass them like Cha Sung-tae, or enslave them like Left Hand.
I will also eliminate those who could not be rehabilitated in the Orthodox and Unorthodox factions or the Demon Cult.
Those who find themselves in a bind in Kangho tend to join the Demon Cult. At the same time, those who fall out of favor with the Cult Leader often surrender to the Murim Alliance.
It is pretty common for talented people to join opposite factions.
I will make it my mission to interject this process and steal these talents.
The so-called 'Divide the World into Three Plan' (天下三分之計).
Kangho, once separated between only the Demon Cult and the Murim Alliance, will become a three-way battle with me joining the foray. This kind of stuff isn't really my thing, but a man has to dream big.
Cha Sung-tae comes in after he finishes vomiting, pinches his nose, and says in a nasal voice.
"We need to close this inn. The reason for closure is the bad odor."
I try to recall how Cha Sung-tae died in his previous life. He wasn't very famous, so there's no way of knowing even if I tried to remember.
But one thing's for sure.
Cha Sung-tae was probably beaten to death because of his mouth.
"Explain the smell please."
"I was training in martial arts. I didn't shit myself. It's not something a bastard like you would understand."
"Smelling like shit due to martial arts training is unheard of. Don't lie to me. For the dignity of the Ilyang Prefecture the Zaha Inn will be closed down as of today. I'll send people who are good at cleaning, so please choose another place to stay."
"Then close it. Let's go to the Plum Blossom Pavilion first."
"I have to wash up."
"Ew, it smells. Just wash up in the stream."
I forcibly grab Cha Sung-tae, who is still covering his nose, and put my arms around his shoulders, causing his face to scrunch up.
Cha Sung-tae breaths through his mouth and says.
"Why are you putting your hands around me? We're not even close."
"Ah, I'm getting angry."
As I make a straight face, Cha Sung-tae flinches.
I glare at Cha Sung-tae and say.
"Let's switch clothes. Take it off."
Cha Sung-tae looks me in the eye and replies.
"Hey, you bastard. Just put your arms around me."
I punch Cha Sung-tae once and head to the Plum Blossom Pavilion like close brothers.
When I arrive at the Plum Blossom Pavilion, the doorkeeper who I beat up the other day covers his nose with his hand and says.
"I can accept drunk people, but I can't accept people who shit their pants."
Cha Sung-tae answers back.
"Do you want to die? Step aside."
When I look at the doorkeeper, he avoids my gaze with a bitter expression, probably still holding a grudge that I beat him up the other day.
This is what I like about my hometown.
Very few people here get intimidated by just a few punches.
Maybe that's why a guy like me suddenly appeared in Kangho.
When Cha Sung-tae and I enter the Plum Blossom Pavilion, the women who came to greet us screams and runs away due to the stench.
Cha Sung-tae is enjoying the situation, probably finding it funny.
"Get out of my way. I took a dump. I mean, I shat my pants. Hehehe."
I held my tongue in my mouth because I didn't want to laugh out loud.
As expected, I can't act carelessly around this bastard even for a moment.
I wash my body a few times with pails of water before dipping into the wooden bathtub. As I enter the steamy hot water, all the fatigue in my body disappears.
An unintelligible noise escapes my mouth. This is a celebratory gift for breaking through to the Fire Chicken stage.
Suddenly, the bathroom door slides open, and Chae-hyang appears with a large towel in her hand.
"I'm here to help you with your bath."
I look at Chae-hyang approaching me in the bathtub and wave my hand.
"Why is a music performer helping with my bath? Forget it."
"Sung-tae asked me to, so I came. I'll wipe you dry after you're done."
"It won't work."
What do you mean? Honey traps don't work on me.
"I have hands and feet. I can even wipe the water off my body with my feet, so leave the towel here. Males and females over seven don't sleep in the same bed. Even Zhu Bajie did not bathe with spider goblins."
"The errand boy of Zaha Inn and the Plum Blossom Pavilion's most popular Chae-hyang in the same bath, what kind of absurd situation is that? If you receive another order next time, just say I told you not to come. I'll tell Cha Sung-tae about this too. You should act more like the performer you are."
Some people do things they aren’t ordered to, and Cha Sung-tae is one of them.
Chae-hyang replies with a slight bow.
"Thank you. And I'm sorry about the other day."
It's only natural to accept a clean apology.
As I wonder why she was so polite, Chae-hyang reveals her true feelings.
"But you're going to get rid of Cho Sam-pyung, right? I'm curious."
"Why? Should I keep him alive?"
"Ah, no. I was dragged here by Cho Sam-pyung. I'm not originally from here."
"You should go back if you can."
"It wasn't a comfortable place. I didn't want to go back because I was so poor."
"Tell the other women here. If they want to leave, then leave. Tell them the errand boy of Zaha Inn said so."
"If you're this strong, then why did you decide to get hit back then?"
It's awkward for me if you keep asking such sharp questions.
Resting my head at the edge of the bathtub, I answer.
"I have to get beaten so I can seek revenge."
Chae-hyang smiles at my reply.
"There is a saying when it comes to a nobleman's revenge, ten years isn't too late. An errand boy's revenge begins the moment they get hit. You should read, too. Don't just practice singing. You have to read more books to sing better."
"No, I just made it up."
Chae-hyang tilts her head.
When I wave my hand for her to leave, Chae-hyang places the towel on the floor and leaves.
'What I wanted...'
Honey traps don't work on me.
Dangerous moments always come suddenly like this.
It's said that the elderly, children, and women are the three things you have to be wary of in Kangho, though my opinion is slightly different.
After all, aside from those three, there are also healthy men.
A healthy man has a high chance of becoming a warrior in Kangho.
But watch out for the rest as well?
That just means you have to be careful of everything.
This will apply to me until I complete my martial arts.
If I neglect my training due to Cha Sung-tae's honey trap now, I'll be at a disadvantage against top masters later on.
I'm sure that it was not Cha Sung-tae's intention but rather a honey trap that life threw my way.
Now's not the time anyway.
Once I wipe myself clean and change into new clothes, the way people look at me changes slightly from before.
No one thinks that I am the errand boy from the Zaha Inn.
When you become strong in martial arts at a young age, your appearance and impression change.
In the past, I wasn't aware of this because I'd only grown stronger as I got older.
I've gotten more handsome than before, but I'm still not as pretty as the Demon Cult's perverted Left Hand.
Since I'm not someone who seeks women through martial arts, desire, status, and coercion, I leave the pavilion and immediately head back to the Zaha Inn.
On my way back, I can see smoke rising ahead. People are crowding up to see the fire.
"Looks like there's a fire."
As I go up and push the spectators away, I see that the place burning down was none other than the Zaha Inn.
I am so bewildered that I could only laugh. I never thought I'd see my house burn twice.
The words flow out on their own.
"Why is my house always set on fire? The house did nothing wrong."
Did even a simple inn have a destiny?
The burning flames seem to talk to me.
As if telling me I'll never have a cozy home again in this life.
Of course, there's no way Cha Sung-tae did this.
Cho Sam-pyung, the Cherry Blossom Pavilion owner, has apparently returned and is looking at the Zaha Inn as his underlings throw burning torches at the inn.
Cho Sam-pyung is the better-looking one out of the three Cho brothers. His face is why he ended up being tasked with luring innocent women after all.
Seeing his face for the first time in a while makes me feel even unluckier.
A voice says from the crowd.
"What are you going to do if Zaha comes back? You can't just burn the place down!"
"How dare you burn people's houses like that? You will be punished!"
Cho Sam-pyung turns to the source of the voice and says.
"Bring Lee Zaha to me. Where is he?"
The Ilyang Prefecture crowd is daring. Someone in the crowd replies.
"You fucking pimp."
"Who said that? Don't hide like a rat and come out! You fucking bastards."
When Cho Sam-pyung shouts, silence falls.
I wonder why Cho Sam-pyung came out so confidently. An unfamiliar man in black robes watches from nearby with a stern look.
He certainly seems stronger than Cho Sam-pyung.
I open my mouth while watching the inn burn.
"Sam-pyung, your brother's grave is right behind the inn. Is it a good idea to burn it before retrieving the body?"
Cho Sam-pyung whips his head in my direction and glares.
"Who said that!?"
I push people aside and step forward.
"It's me, you fucker."
Scanning me up and down, Cho Sam-pyung doesn’t recognize me and asks.
"Who the fuck are you?"
Does this guy not recognize me? Or is the beautifying effect of martial arts this great?
I look at Cho Sam-pyung and say calmly.
"Why did you burn down my house? How are you going to pay for it?"
Only then did a look of surprise show on his face.
"Is it you, Lee Zaha? What's with you fucker? What happened? What's wrong with your tone?"
In the meantime, Cho Sam-pyung speaks to the man next to him, as if he was tattling to a teacher.
"Senior Neung, this is the guy."
The man named Neung tilts his head with a dissatisfied expression and says in a quiet tone.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Are you telling me to kill a mere errand boy? I came to celebrate you three brothers’ establishment of a sect, but this is a big disappointment. Don't tell me you're going to set up a sect when you can't even kill an errand boy? The whole of Kangho would laugh. I would never let my name be brought up in such a farce."
The man in the black robe looks at me and says to Cho Sam-pyung.
"Kill him. If you're so weak that you can't take care of a single errand boy, you should just join your brothers. No matter how much you admire Kangho, you should at least have a conscience."
Cho Sam-pyung replies with a look of panic.
"No, senior Neung."
"And why am I your senior? I've never had a junior like you."
What the man in the black robe said is correct, so I add.
"He's right, Cho Sam-pyung. You have to have a conscience. Let's just say the loser died in the fire. Come here."
The atmosphere turns grim at my words.
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