Hyeok Ryeon-hong introduces me to the man who is enjoying the bonfire alone.
“Lord (莊主), we brought Sect Leader Lee Zaha.”
Only Pavilion Leaders are usually called Lord here. Since his lackey is calling him this, I can see that he is an ambitious man.
Of course, this ambition ended with him being cut into five pieces.
The Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader Ban Sa-woong, wearing an outer jacket made of animal skin, puts down the bow he was trimming and says.
“Was it you? The one who pocketed all three pavilions? You look younger and more arrogant than I expected. Come closer.”
I am curious about Ban Sa-woong’s personality, so I give him a short answer to keep my own personality hidden.
“Yes, that’s me.”
After looking through the cabin for a moment, I move up slowly.
The overall atmosphere is heavy and dull, perhaps because many people have died here. It feels like the wandering souls are watching us in the dark.
Ban Sa-woong’s appearance resembles that of a boar, similar to the ones he hunts. It feels like a boar is hunting boar with a bow, so the corner of my mouth raises momentarily.
The boar, no, Ban Sa-woong, opens his smelly mouth.
“Close the door.”
As soon as he finishes speaking, bang— the iron door slams shut.
I bring a chair nearby and put it down in front of the bonfire. When I naturally sit across, Ban Sa-woong says.
“Who told you to sit? Are you crazy?”
Staring hard at Ban Sa-woong’s face, I retort.
Ban Sa-woong orders his lackey.
“Oh, yeah, he’s gone insane. A mad dog would be the answer to a madman. Bring the hungry fellow.”
A man walks up with a large dog.
The black and valiant-looking dog is surprisingly calm and waits quietly with its butt stuck to the ground.
The man who brings the dog taps it on the head with his knife, so it would look at me.
Ban Sa-woong says to me.
“You sit like that dog.”
I look at the hungry dog, the man who trained the hungry dog, and Ban Sa-woong, who is treating me like the trainer would a dog. People who wonder what I will do next look at me from some distance.
When I don’t get out of the chair, Ban Sa-woong orders.
The trainer repeats.
The black dog makes a loud growling sound and comes running at me with ferocity. When the dog gets close to me, I flick out a finger and hit it directly on the nose.
The dog is flung back from my flick and sweeps through the floor, writhing in agony as if someone is dragging him away. It must have been excruciating because it was a finger flick that I reinforced with the Fiery Chicken’s energy.
Silence falls as the people in the cabin look at the black dog struggling on the floor.
After handling the dog, I turn to Ban Sa-woong and tell him.
“What can you do for me to spare you? Let’s cool down and think calmly.”
I speak with my palms laid out like a dog.
“Perhaps if you pant like a dog?”
“Maybe if you give me all the money hidden in the manor? Or if you swear to be my spy inside the Black Rabbit Union? I’m not sure if there’s an answer here. You fucking Unorthodox Sect pest.”
While I ramble on with my nonsense, the men preparing the meat and carrying the food and everyone else begins to gather around. They became alert as if preparing for a siege.
Ban Sa-woong smiles and waves his hand.
“You’re a funny guy. We need to talk more, so you guys do your own thing.”
The men reply in a dispirited tone.
I laugh softly for a long time.
I think about how ironic fate is.
The man whose previous fate was to die by being severed into five body parts still has the fate to die brutally in this life.
I just wonder if there is anything to gain after killing this guy.
Money? Or shitty minions? Or maybe a few hounds?
Ban Sa-woong asks me as he loses himself in thought.
“You look young. How old are you?”
“You certainly didn’t call me here to ask my age. I’m younger than you. Isn’t it obvious?”
Ban Sa-woong laughs as he hits his knee.
Only then did I get up from the chair.
“I know a bit about face reading, and you’re the one who will get caught by the Black Rabbit Union while trying to steal money and have your limbs torn in a painful death. This is what a greedy boar’s face reading is like. I’ll spare you if you offer a hefty amount for the reading fee. What do you say?”
Laughing and getting up from his seat, Ban Ji-woong shakes his head.
“I wanted to spare your life, but it looks like that’ll be tough now.”
I look around and say.
“Do you want to die alone? Or do you want me to kill your subordinates first? But if you’re the leader of a group, you should think about your subordinates. Before you die…”
Ban Sa-woong replies.
“I’m not as nice as I lo-”
Before Ban Sa-woong finishes speaking, I kick his chest with my left foot. Ban Sa-woong has no time to draw his sword, so he crosses his arms to block my kick.
With a boom— Ban Sa-woong’s body flies off in an arc and is thrown back.
He is quite strong.
Ban Sa-woong curses as he pulls out the sword at his waist.
All I grab in response is a blazing tree branch from the edge of the bonfire.
There is no reason to pull the sword out of my waist right now.
The flame burns even brighter when the tree branch is infused with Fire Chicken Energy.
Ban Sa-woong’s eyes grow wide.
With my mouth shut, I swing the flaming tree branch and begin fighting with Ban Sa-woong.
Advanced tactics from a third-rate Unorthodox Faction member aren’t enough to win against me.
The lower rank they are, the cruder the technique. Whether the Black Rabbit Union or the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader, the level is inevitably inferior to the swordsmen of famous factions and clans I fought against in my other life.
In my opinion, these are the pros and cons of Unorthodox and Orthodox Factions.
Orthodox Sects may have excellent techniques but only have experience in duels, meaning they lack experience in real battle.
This is because of their isolation.
In addition, there’s bound to be competition within the faction itself. Unless they’re a famous master, they are inept in coping with various situations. In some cases, good sword technique can’t be put into practice during a real fight, an inevitable habit of young Orthodox Faction disciples.
On the other hand, Unorthodox Factions learn lower-class martial arts compared to more prominent Orthodox Factions. However, due to the nature of Unorthodox Factions, they have a lot of practical experience.
This is because they have to fight for their lives.
Even if you use ordinary swordsmanship, there are cases in which you become stronger with experience gained in fights. If you gain decent martial arts in the future, your skills will improve exponentially.
The way of living and the method of obtaining martial arts differ for the Demon Cult and the Unorthodox and Orthodox Factions.
When you add martial arts learning on top, you will become invincible.
I was a man who tried to reach that invincibility, and the Ban Sa-woong I’m dealing with right now is not.
In conclusion, he’s nothing but third-rate.
Ban Sa-woong relies on hands-on experience and manages to stop my attacks more than a dozen times.
I make a surprise attack with my left palm and strike the tree branch in my right hand diagonally down. Busy defending, Ban Sa-woong is forced to defend directly and raises his sword to block the tree branch.
At that moment, I take the strength I have injected into the tree branch and force the sword to stab into the tree branch.
The tree branch collides against the sword and goes through it, surprising my opponent. At that moment, I draw the sword on my waist and aim for the exposed sword.
Anticipating Ban Sa-woong being able to block the sword narrowly, I advance.
It didn’t matter if he could block my sword.
Like a bow caught in a bowstring, his sword bounces off from the sword I had infused with sword energy.
It is thinly curved sword energy similar to the crescent moon in the sky.
Ban Sa-woong, who had moved his head to avoid my sword, cannot dodge the energy that I release from it as it hits his face.
The moment the sword mark engraves itself on Ban Sa-woong’s face, my follow-up attacks continue. Ban Sa-woong never would’ve imagined an errand boy to be able to use sword energy like this.
It is a clear defeat for him.
When the injured Ban Sa-woong staggers without being able to control his body, I swing my sword from side to side and slash at Ban Sa-woong’s body.
With each swing, a long slashing blood mark forms. Despite his serious injury, Ban Sa-woong manages to hold out.
He’s like a boar.
In the midst of this, I hear the dog trainer trying to make a surprise attack from behind, and I swing my sword horizontally as I rotate my body.
The trainer’s head flies into the air.
I turn around, run to the critically injured Ban Sa-woong and stamp on his body with my foot.
One side of his shoulder dips with a cracking sound, and Ban Sa-woong collapses.
I keep stepping on Ban Sa-woong’s body with stomping legs (震脚).
I step on his head, torso, and lower body and ram him to the ground.
At the same time, the ground where Ban Sa-woong is beginning to be buried in cracks in a circular shape. Watching the faces of the crowd, I stomp on the ground after instilling a lot of internal energy through my foot.
Ban Sa-woong doesn’t need a tomb.
I have to imprint on the memory of his subordinates how their leader died while trying to mess with an Ilyang Prefecture errand boy.
So on purpose, I kill him brutally.
There are many reasons for that.
This guy makes money from loan sharks, private loans, and murder contracts without remaining loyal to the Black Rabbit Union.
This type of person betrays wherever he belongs, and this is the case.
I killed him brutally, so no one dared to attack me rashly.
I scratched the dirt several times with my feet and covered the pit, glaring at the paled Ban Sa-woong’s subordinates.
Everyone is looking at me with bated breath.
These scums feared the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader. Ban Sa-woong died without being able to resist properly, so the fear doubles.
I ask them.
“Who wants to die after Ban Sa-woong?”
“How are you going to deal with the Leader?”
“The Black Rabbit Union Leader?”
I look at the man who made the question and reply.
“Why do you care? You’re all going to die right here, right now. You third-rate Unorthodox Faction bastards. Your fate is determined in a split second. Get on your knees before I count to three. Anyone still standing will be sent to Ban Sa-woong. One, two, three.”
The scared ones got on their knees first.
The people who are trying to decide to move after watching the situation also quickly kneel. There is a slight delay, but eventually, all Ban Sa-woong’s men are on their knees.
I like this atmosphere.
This feeling is why I went around beating up the crazy monkeys of Kangho in my previous life.
This atmosphere is why I trained in martial arts despite going into Qi Deviation.
This is why I didn’t eat or relieve myself while sitting with crossed legs for hours on end.
I think the whole process of suffering exists for this moment.
I think this is why I exist.
Or maybe not.
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