Jeon Pung and Han Go-wood suddenly become very afraid of the Ilyang Prefecture.
Everything here is always somewhat ridiculous, but the degree of the ridiculousness is becoming strangely frightening to them.
As Miss Son continues to say nothing, Jeon Pung walks forward to try and explain the situation to the crowd.
"He never said to kill us. I'm telling you, go upstairs and ask him."
Cha Sung-tae asks Miss Son as if he didn't believe it.
"But why did Miss Son come out?"
Miss Son replies with an indifferent expression.
"I went out to get some fresh air. Keeping my mouth shut makes me feel like dying."
"Did he order to send them off?"
Miss Son nods.
Cha Sung-tae finally opens the way and says.
"Have a safe trip."
Jeon Pung and Han Go-wook quietly walk by the terrifyingly quiet men of the Ilyang Prefecture.
Cha Sung-tae's voice emanates from the back of the crowd.
"Please come back for another drink."
Jeon Pung answers.
"That won't happen."
Cha Sung-tae asks me with worry in his voice.
"Is it okay for us to let them go?"
If things are to progress as Cha Sung-tae plans, the Black Rabbit Union will retaliate in a few days. Forces under the Twelve Generals tend to always be in chaos, competing, allying and antagonizing each other. As such, they can not devote too much energy to a village this size. The most fearsome man from the Twelve Generals in the area is Dae Na-chal (大羅剎), and there is no need to draw his attention as of yet.
Of course, I don't see a need to explain this to Cha Sung-tae.
"It will be pretty hard for the drunkards to report back because they're scared. They're too scared of being reprimanded to plot revenge. Those who go around collecting money tend to be good at calculation after all."
"Hmm, I see."
"Ilyang Prefecture will be peaceful for now. I will start training again."
"Anywhere......collect and manage all of the former owner's fortures, and temporarily take over as the manager of the Low-Down Sect. If you embezzle the public funds, keep in mind that I'll dismiss you from your position."
Having a bad feeling about this, Cha Sung-tae asks as if he was digging up information.
"What happens if I am dismissed?"
"Dismissal means the death penalty."
Cha Sung-tae looks at me with widened eyes.
"I'll face the death penalty? Was there a law like that?"
"I'm the Sect Leader, after all. The law is up to me."
I congratulate Cha Sung-tae on his promotion with a tap on his shoulder.
"In celebration of becoming the manager, have a drink."
I pour third-rate Dukuang liquor for Cha Sung-tae. Cha Sung-tae looks at the ceiling and forces himself to drink.
"Ugh, it's third-rate liquor."
"Our Manager Cha will do well because he is competent. I can trust you, right, Manager Cha?"
"Why is your answer insincere? Do you want to be fired?"
"Oh, no. I love the promotion. I'll do my best. I don't want to be left behind."
"Do well. I'll support you later on. Ilyang Prefecture's Best Swordsman Cha Sung-tae. You'll earn a nickname like that soon. Trust me."
Cha Sung-tae replies with a dejected voice.
"I use sabers."
"Oh, then Ilyang Prefecture's Best Fencer. Also, don't worry about the Black Rabbit Union."
All the surviving Twelve Generals will kneel before me to get slapped in due time. Of course, that's not happening now, so I need to buy time first.
I stand up to cure my hangover.
"Let's work hard."
"Yes, take care on your way back."
Cha Sung-tae sighs and drinks a glass of the remaining Dukuang liquor.
"I'm going to empty my drink."
Suddenly, Cha Sung-tae could feel the bitter taste of Kangho's life in his mouth. Even though he was promoted, a strange sense of grief surges instead. Maybe because his superior is a younger person.
'Life in Kangho is not easy.'
Or perhaps it's because his superior was previously an errand boy.
After leaving the pavilion, I look around the Ilyang Prefecture's panorama with little thought in my head. I look around the various shops as I walk down the street.
Those who are just living their lives look at me as I pass. Those who have heard the rumours of my killing of the Cho brothers have shocked expressions on their faces.
Not that I care about what had happened.
These ordinary people's daily lives are the same, so I keep walking on this path.
When I arrive at the Chunyang Restaurant, Geum Chul-yong of the Dragon Head Smithy is inside eating noodles alone.
Geum Chul-yong nods and gestures.
"You've already had a drink. I came here since you said you come here often. I didn't go near the pavilions. It's not because I'm scared of the people inside."
"Of course you did."
The Chunyang Restaurant owner, Jang Deuk-soo asks.
"Shall I cook up a bowl?"
Geum Chul-yong puts down a bowl of noodles and says.
"You killed them all. From Cho Il-seom, Cho Yi-gyul, to Cho Sam-pyung. Let's discuss what we promised before."
Geum Chul-yong asks with some worry.
"By the way, won't the Black Rabbit Union come after you? If that happens, many young people in this town will die. Do you have a plan?"
I fully understand Geum Chul-yong's concerns. This guy strongly opposed paying the protection fees in my past life, after all.
"They won't come right away. Even if they do and a fight breaks out, I'm the only one who started it, so the others will be fine."
Geum Chul-yong asks, tilting his head.
"Can you handle it alone?"
Geum Chul-yong shakes his head.
"It's hard to believe a bluff like that. Are you sure you don't have a master or have met a secluded eccentric hermit?"
"Think whatever you want. Anyway, you will find it difficult to believe what I plan to do in the future."
"How amusing. Still in one day, the errand boy of the Zaha Inn suddenly kills the Cho brothers. It's hard to believe already. Is there anything I can help with?"
"Yes, but I don't know if Mister Geum can do it."
Geum Chul-yong replies with a smile.
"We don't trust each other yet. But at least let me say this. The guys I used to regard as eyesores are now gone, so I can at least do this much without complaining."
Thinking about what task I should assign to Geum Chul-yong for the time being, I open my mouth.
"I think the most difficult thing to make in the world is a weapon that is both light and sharp and can be held in one hand. What do you think, Mister Geum?"
"That's usually the case for Famous Swords (名劍). It's a bit different for sabers. You need to have a certain amount of weight to complement the technique. Experts who combine physical martial arts and inner cultivation prefer a heavier saber. I did hear that if they get better, they won't even need a weapon. But that's unrealistic."
"Have you ever made such famous swords or mystical sabers in the Dragon Head Smithy?"
"Of course not."
"Is there a reason?"
Geum Chul-yong answers clearly.
"The best reason is that it doesn't make money. Who would even buy a Famous Sword if it was even made? Only a master that suits the sword will buy it. What if he's an Unorthodox Faction master? Or one of the Twelve Generals heard a rumor and stopped by? I would be doubtful about even getting paid. It's already be a good result if the martial master didn't just kill everyone in the smithy and take the weapon."
It is a reasonable thought.
"But let's say you're lucky enough to get paid. What happens after that?"
"The rival of the person who bought the sword or another Unorthodox faction master will come and threaten me to make a similar sword."
"Looks like you understand it well. Building a reputation by making good weapons is a sure path to being visited by scary people. The relationships that follow would be more bad than good. When a Famous Sword appears in Kangho, people will kill and die just to possess it."
"Is that why you're not interested in making famous swords? That sounds like a cowardly excuse."
"There are many different ways of life. Some people want fame, others value survival. Our Dragon Head Smithy is quite old, but it lasted for a long time because we made and sold solid weapons. I'm just trying to make ends meet. What's the point of fame?"
Geum Chul-yong asks Jang Deuk-soo with a smile.
"Deuk-soo, don't you think so?"
Jang Deuk-soo replies with a nod.
Tapping his finger on the clean bowl of noodles, Geum Chul-yong says.
"Look at Deuk-soo's cooking skills. The store might be shabby, but his cooking is the best in the Ilyang Prefecture. Let's say Deuk-soo comes to work as a chef in a famous Murim Clan. If the clan gets involved in a dispute and gets destroyed, Deuk-soo will also die. He'll die because of his great cooking skills. This is also the same for smithies."
I nod to Geum Chul-yong's words.
"Thank you for the explanation. Anyway, the weapon I'm looking for is..."
"As I said, Famous Swords..."
"It's not a sword. And I'm not asking you to make a Famous Sword or a luxury item. Hear me out."
I take a sip of the soup and continue.
"I don't need a sharp weapon. It doesn't have to be light."
Geum Chul-yong answers.
"Then it's not a luxury item."
"Then what do you want me to make?"
"I give up on sharpness. The weight doesn't matter. The weapon I want is something that will not break, bend, or be destroyed by anything."
Geum Chul-yong folds his arms like he is listening, and I continue.
"For example, I don't care if I have to carry a whole ingot of Thousand Years Iron around. That's why I'm going to give up sharpness and weight. This is not a request to make a luxury item. Even if it's coarse and rough, it just needs to stay solid even if a sword tries to cut it. What I want is something similar to the Monkey King's iron staff[^n1]."
Geum Chul-yong furrows his brow while listening to me.
"Like the Monkey King's iron staff?"
"That's correct, in a manner of speaking. I mean, it doesn't matter if it's a staff (棒), a rod (棍), or a spear (槍). Even the shape doesn't matter. I just want it to be solid."
"What are you going to do with it?"
"For training. Training to become a man of steel."
I can't bring up the words' Turtle of Steel' in this atmosphere.
Geum Chul-yong, Jang Deuk-soo, and I say nothing for a moment. Geum Chul-yong is immersed in his thoughts, and Jang Deuk-soo remains silent to avoid disturbing him.
After a long while, Jang Deuk-soo looks outside and says,
The three of us watch the pouring rain in silence.
The eyes of the rice soup restaurant owner, the man who used to be an errand boy, and the man who touches iron every day are staring at the rain for a long time.
At this moment, there is no need for words.
I also watch the pouring rain, forgetting about Kangho for a moment.
[^n1] : (Monkey King aka Sun Wukong. The Journey to the West (1592) describes the Monkey King's iron staff. It has the magic power to shrink and grow, control the ocean, astral project and entangle with Monkey's spirit, multiply endlessly, pick locks, and transform into various objects.
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