There is always a lot of construction work in Kangho.
This is because there are frequent cases of sects being completely wrecked due to attacks by their enemies.
Proper crafting techniques and machine tools are also part of the construction process. The combination of both of these things in harmony is not something done by martial artists.
It is all done by the architects.
Furthermore, when fights involve large factions in Kangho, it is common for the factions and sub-faction facilities to end up being burnt down. Minor factions might face their end completely, but major sects, as well as prominent clans in Kangho, will instead invest a lot of money into magnificent rebuildings.
Through this process, skilful architects develop their own reputation, and those architects who are proficient with mechanical devices are treated as craftsmen in Kangho.
Yeon Ja-seong was one of the three most powerful architects during the years I was known as the Low-Down Sect Leader in Kangho. He was one of the craftsmen often invited to work on large-scale construction.
Of course, he’s now twenty years younger, just like me.
Other than having a tanned face, Yeon Ja-seong, who approaches and greets me, is a young man who looks one or two years younger than me.
Yeon Ja-seong looks me in the eye and says.
“I’m Yeon Ja-seong. I am working on this project through the recommendation of Mister Geum Chul-yong.”
I greet Yeon Ja-seong with a grin.
“I am the owner of the Zaha Inn.”
When I introduce myself as the owner of the Zaha Inn, Yeon Ja-seong’s reaction is different.
“Our leader is indeed young like what I’d heard.”
When Cha Sung-tae and I look at each other, Yeon Ja-seong says with a firm look.
“Mister Geum told me to call you Leader. He said if I did well, I might become the head of the Architectural Sect. He also said we wouldn’t have to pay dues to the sect. Is that true, Leader?”
I nod my head.
Yeon Ja-seong smiles.
“Great. I like the sound of that. I will make the Zaha Inn magnificent, so do let me lead the Architectural Sect. It will mean as much as architecture to me.”
And I know better than anyone how much it will mean to him.
As I smile, Yeon Ja-seong looks at the open space and says.
“A small inn used to be here, but the site is very spacious and nice. It’s a good place to build an inn. There’s a slight hill, so the evening view will be marvelous. You can leave the construction entirely up to me, Leader.”
Yeon Ja-sung looks back at me and asks.
“I heard you will protect those who work hard from now on. Is that right?”
I nod, and Yeon Ja-sung says with a refreshing smile.
“I want to clarify that this project will be done with huge discounts under the leader’s command.”
Cha Sung-tae and I laugh at this.
Yeon Ja-seong points to one side of the vacant lot and says,
“We’ll set up makeshift barracks over there for accommodation and meals. Although there are basic cooking utensils, there is a limit to prepping every time. I would really appreciate it if you could sometimes provide us food at your expense.”
Yeon Ja-seong is an eloquent man.
And he always asks for what he needs in confidence.
He is a man who knows how to survive in the gap between factions in Kangho with clear words and actions.
In fact, Kangho warriors respect eloquent people.
Those of the Unorthodox factions do not kill those of the Orthodox factions.
In some cases, those of the Orthodox factions also do not kill the Unorthodox faction members. However, this is limited to when they like the other’s words, actions and character.
Since this is Yeon Ja-seong’s character, he would have been on a roll and built extensive networks within Kangho.
He’s a smart guy.
After the conversation, I have a stronger will to not lose Yeon Ja-seong to any forces after positioning him as the Architectural Sect Leader.
I nod and look at Yeon Ja-seong.
‘You’re a part of Low-Down Sect now.’
I give an immediate order.
“Send those who work at the Plum Blossom Pavilion, Pear Blossom Pavilion, and Persimmon Blossom Pavilion here every evening. And serve them delicious food. Also where are the scumbags that burnt down Zaha Inn?”
“I’ve ordered them to do the toughest job, so don’t worry. As the Rebirth Sect Leader, I’ll take care of it.”
Yeon Ja-sung looks at Cha Sung-tae with surprise.
Cha Sung-tae nods, perhaps feeling a bit competitive.
“I forgot to mention. I’m the head of the Rebirth Sect. You can think of it as a sub-sect consisting of those that work in the pavilions.”
Yeon Ja-sung nods.
“Oh, I see. Understood. Anyway, you’re below our Sect Leader Zaha, right?”
Sect Leader Zaha? That’s a new nickname.
Cha Sung-tae admits right away.
“Of course. The Rebirth Sect, the Architectural Sect, the Blacksmith Sect… They’re all a coalition under the Low-Down Sect.”
“When did you two start talking informally to each other?”
When I point it out, Yeon Ja-sung speaks as if he had forgotten to mention it.
“Ah, Sung-tae told me to speak comfortably because he is older than me. As far as I know, Leader is older than me. Please treat me comfortably.”
I give a reply without much thought.
“All right, Ja-seong.”
When I speak informally to him immediately, Yeon Ja-sung replies, slightly flustered.
“Yes, big brother.”
“It was nice to see you, Ja-seong. See you.”
I mean it when I said it was nice to see him.
I finally scored the man who would become famous for his architecture.
I should treat Mister Geum to another bowl of rice soup at the Chunyang Restaurant. Furthermore, I am curious how he managed to recruit him. Geum Chul-young would be the guy to have more connections than pavilion manager Cha Sung-tae, but I can’t help but wonder.
“How was Ja-seong?”
“He’s a good-natured man. I like him.”
“I knew you would. That’s what I predicted.”
I ask while eating rice soup with Mister Geum.
“Where did you get a talent like him?”
I am really curious.
Geum Chul-yong is far from a household name since he’d only crafted dragon head sword heads his whole life. He’d done an excellent job running the smithy, but Yeon Ja-seong is in a different league.
Geum Chul-yong says.
“Ja-seong is a man who goes around day and night looking for work. He visited the Dragon Head Smithy the other day and asked about work. He asked if I wanted to expand the smithy. I wasn’t planning to, nor was I in a position to do it.”
“Isn’t it because you don’t want to stand out?”
“That, too. I rejected the offer, but he still came to greet me often. He knows how to survive as a merchant. Of course, I should call him a craftsman, not a merchant. I felt sorry and curious, so I arranged projects in other places a few times, and now he’s calling me big boss.”
“I see. He’s been roaming around to get a job….”
Yeon Ja-seong later became famous, and Kangho warriors would come to him for projects, but that is not how it is now. It’s a blessing for me that Yeon Ja-seong got to know Geum Chul-yong while diligently finding work.
“How’s the progress for the Crazy Blade?”
While drinking the soup, Geum Chul-yong smiles at my words.
“There’s not much progress. But it was fun to work on it and also a concern. My routine has been the same every day, but I think I’ve gained more energy thinking of the Crazy Blade. The same goes for the vice master. Can we ever produce an unbreakable weapon? We’ve been thinking over and over. It looks like the whole smithy is on a mission.”
I nod my head.
“Watch and wait. People think I’m only good at making handles. I’ll prove them wrong.”
Can Geum Chul-yong make one? That’s not something I can predict.
However, it did not feel so bad to see Geum Chul-yong be on a mission, unlike in his past life.
Jang Deuk-soo, who is cleaning the bowls while listening in, says.
“No wonder the Ilyang Prefecture seems rather lively. I passed by the construction site, and the Zaha Inn seemed to have expanded.”
I look at Mister Geum and Jang Deuk-soo because it looks like they had something to say.
Jang Deuk-soo continues.
“Why don’t we have a banquet? To celebrate the death of the Cho brothers.”
Jang Deuk-soo wipes the water off his hands and turns around.
“At the Zaha Inn, I mean. You’re building it with the Cho brother’s money anyway. The Cho brothers had caused a lot of trouble in Ilyang Prefecture. It’d be nice to gather the adults in the neighborhood to celebrate. I can discuss it with the restaurants and inn owners if you want. We’ll have to make the food anyway.”
Geum Chul-yong nods.
“That’s nice. We need to get together to see each other’s faces. There used to be a lot of banquets like this. It’s so bleak right now.”
I tilt my head and look at Jang Deuk-soo.
“Is that all you have to say?”
Jang Deuk-soo pauses and replies.
“If you don’t have the right person to take charge, I was thinking of becoming the head of the Vendor Sect (店門). There should be an organization for errand boys, inn owners, shop owners, and teahouse owners1.”
Geum Chul-yong makes a pft— sound and spits water on Jang Deuk-soo.
“Oh my, I’m sorry.”
Jang Deuk-soo answers as he wipes his face.
“The Rebirth Sect Leader Cha Sung-tae, the Blacksmith Sect Leader Geum Chul-yong, the Architectural Sect Leader Yeon Ja-seong, and the Vendor Sect Leader Jang Deuk-soo.”
It’s nothing much, but I don’t know why I find it funny.
Jang Deuk-soo looks at my expression and asks.
“Are you laughing? You think I’m a joke?”
“No, I’m sure you’ll do a good job. Let’s do that.”
Including the Kill Sect, the foundation of the Low-Down Sect (下汚門) is temporarily complete as the Low Five Sects (下五門).
I want this Low-Down Sect to last a long time.
Plus, it was about time to find the head of the Vendor Sect.
While talking to Mister Geum and Jang Deuk-soo, I reviewed my memory to find a good candidate for the head of Kill Sect.
Who would be a good fit?
I know most of the masters of my time and the incidents happening in Kangho right now.
Hence, there is a lot to think about.
After a while, Geum Chul-yong says as if he wants to end the chat.
“Well, now that we’ve eaten our fill, let’s go back to work. Thanks for the meal.”
Jang Deuk-soo asks with a smile.
“Yes, sir. Who’s paying?”
“Of course, our leader should pay. I’ve introduced you to a great guy. I should be treated to a meal for the next ten years.”
I should be paying today, but it is strange because it seems like I am the only one paying. Still, I take the money out of the purse and pay for the rice soup.
“Brother Deuk-soo, thank you for the food.”
Jang Deuk-soo answers as he takes the money.
“Don’t mention it. Please come again.”
I got up and told them.
“Then, I’ll see you soon, leaders.”
Mister Geum boasts.
“I’ll be waiting. I will give you unbreakable faith in me…”
I answer with a nod.
“I’ll look forward to it.”
While I leave the Chunyang Restaurant and return to the Plum Blossom Pavilion, men blocking my path appear before me.
An establishment that primarily serves tea and other light refreshments ↩️
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