I can't get the weapon that I used in the past. Therefore, I have to find a temporary replacement until then. The key is whether Mister Geum Chul-yong can make it.
Truth is, it's alright if he can't make it.
I hope Geum Chul-yong would not stop at just making weapons with fancy handles but become known as a craftsman who will craft something more valuable.
While we watch the rain, Geum Chul-yong tells me,
"It's not easy."
"Above all, it's going to be hard to find such hard iron. As you say, using the Thousand Years Iron will solve everything. But finding Thousand Years Iron is as hard as finding Azurite[^n1] for Kangho warriors."
"But if it's difficult, we can go take a look at the Black Market (黑市)."
The Black Market is a generic term for where Unorthodox faction masters purchase their weapons. The place has both auction houses and forges where weapons are made. Geum Chul-yong's suggestion to go to the black market doesn't mean that he will look for ready-made weapons, but rather to buy steel.
And I remain silent.
It is Geum Chul-yong's responsibility, who has run a smithy for a long time, to make weapons. It is not my part to interfere.
However, if Geum Chul-yong can produce a weapon I can be satisfied with, it will be both Geum Chul-yong's fate and my boon.
Until now, masters of Kangho seem to be afraid of making their own weapons, but I will break this taboo.
I'm protecting the Dragon Head Smithy if anything happens anyway.
Geum Chul-yong asks me.
"Do you have a name in mind?"
I answer the name of the weapon immediately.
"Its name will be the Crazy Blade(狂刃)."
It is the blade(刃) of a madman(狂).
Geum Chul-yong repeats the meaning of the sword.
"A crazy blade? You said the shape won't matter. I assume you'll be using the sword to tear your opponents apart?"
"That's about right."
"Is it alright to make it into a straight blade (直刀) then? If you don't want to use specific sword techniques, straight blades are the best."
A straight blade refers to a straight knife with no curves or bends on its edge.
"It's even better if it's straight (直刀). Men always go straight (直進)."
At my random nonsense, Geum Chul-yong glares at me for a moment and says.
"I'll do that then. I'll make it into a straight blade. The name will be the Crazy Blade, and it will contain the unbreakable faith of Geum Chul-yong."
I smile softly.
Jang Deuk-soo, who is listening quietly, adds.
"Crazy Blade… that's a terrifying name."
Imagining the weapon he has to make, Geum Chul-yong asks.
"When's the deadline?"
"The deadline is set by the craftsman (匠人), not the client. Will the craftsman make a finished product faster if I whine? Time is not a problem."
In fact, Geum Chul-yong has never been a true craftsman, but I will treat him like one.
Geum Chul-yong strokes his chin.
"That's true. It's hard to predict when we can get the material. Someday I will ask you to come and just give the Crazy Blade to you. That's how it will be."
Geum Chul-yong points to an empty bowl and says.
"You should pay for the noodles today. Thanks for the meal."
"You want a broke errand boy to pay for your meal?"
Geum Chul-yong looks at me with an incredulous expression.
"You're not an errand boy. I don't know when things started becoming like this but I'm being treated to a meal by the Low-Down Sect Leader."
Jang Deuk-soo, who is cleaning bowls, asks curiously.
"Low-Down Sect? What's that? Did Zaha create it?"
"You're part of the Low-Down Sect, too."
Jang Deuk-soo replies with a look of surprise.
"Huh? Me? Since when?"
"Everyone I know is already a part of it."
"So, you should always offer free noodles to your leader. Got it?"
Jang Deuk-soo glares at me like a tiger and says with a stern face.
"But you're a customer. What are you talking about?"
Anyways, this kind of trick doesn't work with men of the Ilyang Prefecture.
I have no choice but to take money out of my pouch and place it on the table.
Suddenly, my eyes turn to the outside of the Chunyang Restaurant. Both Geum Chul-yong and Jang Deuk-soo follow my gaze and look outside.
Several men are standing in the rain.
Geum Chul-yong says worriedly.
"Well, an uninvited guest in the rain. It's your enemy, right? I've never committed a crime nor have I been in the pavilions after all."
Jang Deuk-soo's eyes become humble at once.
"I want to help, but I can't fight. I can't run my business if I hurt my hand."
At the same time, Jang Deuk-soo eyes his sharpest kitchen knife. The restaurant owner also plans to fight if they storm into the Chunyang Restaurant.
I shake my head and say.
"Is there any indication that they've come for me?"
At this time, outside, they speak into the Chunyang Restaurant.
"Lee Zaha... I know you're in there. Come out."
Jang Deuk-soo nods.
"Leader, they're calling for you."
Jang Deuk-soo upgrades me directly from customer to leader and speaks to me seriously as I look at him.
Geum Chul-yong also sincerely worries for me.
"Be careful, Leader. My back hurts when it rains… it's an old condition."
I stand up, loosening the whip from my waist.
"Leave it to me. It's raining outside, you assholes."
Geum Chul-yong says to Jang Deuk-soo when I leave the store.
"You assholes sound like he's referring to us."
Jang Deuk-soo shakes his head.
"No, it doesn't."
"I'm older than him. Zaha is not that kind of guy."
"The one stronger in martial arts is the elder in Kangho."
"Then are you also Zaha's younger brother?"
"Deuk-soo, are you going to rank me by skill when we're more than ten years apart? Let's move on."
I go out and look at the pest standing in the rain.
One person out of the group has the aura of a master. He is a bald man with a cape covering his whole body and his eyes barely visible.
Sure enough, the bald man wearing a cape opens his mouth.
"Is it this scrawny bastard?"
Another man replies.
There is savageness in the eyes of the caped man looking at me.
"They say you killed the Black Hurricane Castle's Neung Ji-seok. Is that true?"
I tilt my head.
"I think I've heard the name Neung Ji-seok before."
Of course, I know it is the guy who died in my hands near Zaha Inn.
When I look at the other dogs standing in the crowd, quite a few familiar faces are there. It is a group of warriors from the Cherry Blossom Brothel. That means they are Cho Sam-pyung's other minions.
I ask the man in a cape.
"Is our baldy standing in the rain Neung Ji-seok's senior?"
"I'm Wi Sun-woo of the Black Hurricane Castle."
As soon as I hear the name Wi Sun-woo, a nickname crosses my mind.
'If it's Wi Sun-woo, then it's the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed Blade.'
What kind of fate is this?
During my past days as the Low-Down Sect Leader, two of the guys I killed were the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed Blade.
The two martial artists, Wi Sun-woo and Gu Yang-su are known as the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed Blade. Only now do I discover they are from the Black Hurricane Castle. They might have left Black Hurricane Castle since the organization isn't united in the future.
In another time, the men who exterminated forty to fifty masters of both the Unorthodox and Orthodox factions during a dispute over a treasure map were these two.
Of course, the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed Blade died by my hands, and the treasure pointed in the treasure map also became mine.
Wi Sun-woo takes off his cape and reveals his face.
This man who once died by my hands looks distinctly younger and is staring at me.
Of course, it does not rule out the possibility that Gu Yang-su is hidden nearby.
Holding a whip in my hand, I say.
"Bastards from the Cherry Blossom Brothel, you better step back if you don't want to die."
Wi Sun-woo is preoccupied with the idea of killing me, so he doesn't even pay attention to the scum. The Cherry Blossom Brothel pests slip away from the scene and move to a far distance, though still visible as they are curious about the fight's outcome.
Wi Sun-woo asks.
"Rookie, why did you kill Neung Ji-seok?"
I answer briefly.
"He burnt down my house."
Wi Sun-woo grins.
"That's a good reason. Though you'll die for it."
"Has everything always gone your way? Nothing will go as you wish, not even your hair."
A vein rises on Wi Sun-woo's forehead.
"I better rip your mouth off first."
At this moment, the sky flashes.
As soon as Wi Sun-woo and I clearly see each other's faces, we smile simultaneously.
Wi Sun-woo gets into a fighting stance, holding two ringed blades. He is stronger when Gu Yang-su joins him than when he fights alone.
It's a pity for the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed blade, but I know their techniques well.
I have had many fights with these two and the Murim Alliance, and I am more likely to recognize martial masters the better their skills are.
Now, I have the power of the Strolling Golden Turtle Technique made from the Heavenly Pearl and the experience of a past life.
Because of that, this is just a rainy day's game.
"Wi Sun-woo, you're cutting your life short. If you didn't meet me, you could've lived out your life. What a shame."
It is a reference to his past life's fate. Wi Sun-woo snorts at my words with no understanding of what I mean.
In the meantime, it started raining heavier.
Wi Sun-woo comes running furiously, his steps bouncing off the rainwater. As my whip snaps, Wi Sun-woo avoids the whip by sliding and narrows the distance instantly as he wields the two ringed swords. It's a movement made to kill a whip-wielding opponent.
Of course, I didn't intend to make the distance wider.
On the contrary, I secure a distance that a whip could hit as I ship sideways.
For a moment, we move in circles as we continue our duel's prelude. We are soaked by the rain as we decide who will take the lead.
While moving, I step on the water puddles and deliberately splash them into Wi Sun-woo's incoming path. In reply, Wi Sun-woo swings his ringed sword and blocks the rainwater with the blade's flat surface.
My strategy in this skirmish is to maintain a sense of tension with Wi Sun-woo.
That way, there will be a high probability that Gu Yang-su, waiting nearby, will appear.
For this reason, I deliberately focus on defence.
In the meantime, the sky flashes thrice in a row, and thunder rings in the distant sky.
I hear a clapping sound from somewhere, and suddenly Cha Sung-tae arrives with a sword.
I warn Cha Sung-tae as soon as he arrives.
"Wait. He's a master."
Cha Sung-tae briefly replies and removes the eye patch he had been wearing. He couldn't see well because of the heavy rain.
I manage to give Cha Sung-tae more info as I prevent Wi Sun-woo's attack.
"There's another one nearby. Be careful."
Cha Sung-tae is startled and looks around in the pouring rain, his grasp on his sword becoming stronger.
Cha Sung-tae says a moment later.
"There are only the Cherry Blossom Brothel bastards, though?"
Before Cha Sung-tae can finish his sentence, a black object swirls from the pouring rain.
Then, as the two blades unfold from side to side, Gu Yang-su, with a dark complexion, appears and joins Wi Sun-woo.
Cha Sung-tae looks very surprised and spits out curse words.
"Shit, there really is a second one."
I laugh as soon as I see Gu Yang-su's face for the first time in a while.
There is no need to save strength since both members of the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed Blade are present. I immediately cover the whip with the Fire Chicken's energy.
The whip that is moving in the rain like a snake becomes red.
Gu Yang-su spits out a brief warning.
"Senior Brother, he is a hidden master. Be careful."
Wi Sun-woo and Gu Yang-su surge from side to side and wield their double swords to entrap me from both sides. I check my strength and move to a formation of my choosing to prolong the fight.
Since a whip returns to its master slower than other weapons, the response made by the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed blade is appropriate.
One would be planning to entangle my whip with both blades while the other launches a surprise attack from behind.
As I read the intentions of the Twin Ghosts of the Ringed Blade, a Water Fight(水中戰) breaks out.
[^n1] : A precious gemstone
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