At my urging, So Kun-pyeong speaks in a subdued voice.
Perhaps he’s a man who knows how to feel shame, but his face turns red.
“Why? Do you have an old mother or a cute daughter at home? Then I’ll spare you.”
“It’s not like that.”
“Otherwise, it’ll be a little difficult. If you have a cute daughter, it’s a free pass.”
So Gun-pyeong tries to say, ‘What the heck?’ but swallows it back quickly.
“She may be somewhere, but not officially.”
“You punk… it’s a joke.”
“I was going to make you a sub-sect chief if you join me, but you refuse, and yet you want me to spare your life, is that it?”
So Gun-pyeong, who is intimidated and ashamed, barely utters out.
“I’m a man of my word. If you let me live, I will never go near the Low-Down Sect again. I swear, I will not use my power on you or anyone related to you. I swear on my sword.”
I am thinking of taking this guy under my wing in the future, so I’m gonna let him go for now.
Applying what my respectable mentor Zhuge Liang said, I can make even the most strong-headed jackass my subordinate if I catch and beat them seven times.
The crucial point here is to let them go.
Because the other person has no intention of coming under me yet.
Zhuge Liang is a great man not for the act of Capture and Release Seven Times itself but because he could read people’s minds.
Honestly, I am curious how this guy could survive in my other life for so long. And I am someone who has to find answers if I have a question.
‘It’d be better if you come back stronger. You’ll be under me anyway.’
We need to work together for our fates to reach us, but the time is not now. He’ll live a long life in the Unorthodox Faction, so we’ll meet again someday.
So Gun-pyeong frowns and answers.
“Where do you want me to go?”
“Just get the hell out, fucker.”
So Gun-pyeong looks startled and asks.
“Ah, can I really leave?”
So Gun-pyeong probably thought he would be tortured or beaten to death, so he can’t help but be astounded. Unorthodox Faction members always imagine the worst, so his words and behaviour are rough.
I wave my hands again, motioning for him to get out.
So Gun-pyeong can’t help but open his mouth because he could not understand why he is being spared.
“Why… are you sparing my life?”
“Gun-pyeong, the only Kangho warrior who survived in the Ilyang Prefecture now is me. How did I get here? I killed the pimp, buried the useless bastard, and killed all the bastards that operated the pavilions. It’s common for Kangho warriors to fight like this. I’ll happily accept a rematch when you get stronger and return. However…”
I scowl at So Gun-pyeong.
“If I hear any more rumours of you killing merchants and ordinary people, I will send a million members of the Low-Down Sect to find you and tear you from limb to limb. Or bury you alive like the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader.”
“Why? You don’t think I would? All the merchants in the world, whether they know it or not, they’re part of the Low-Down Sect. That’s what I decided.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
As soon as So Gun-pyeong stands up and opens the door, Cha Sung-tae hurriedly peeks in his head and asks me.
“Are you letting him go?”
“Let him go.”
So Gun-pyeong bows slightly in front of the door.
“Thank you for letting me live despite the defeat. I will keep my promise until the day I die.”
I watch So Gun-pyeong walk out and then mutter to myself.
“That’s right. Lunatics should fight lunatics.”
While I mutter this, Cha Sung-tae, who is habitually shaking his legs by the door, stares at me.
I ask Cha Sung-tae.
“Don’t you think so?”
“What you say makes good sense. Lunatics fighting with lunatics.”
Cha Sung-tae points at me with his finger, then points at himself and nods his head once.
I am slightly offended.
“Don’t point at me, you jerk.”
“What are you sorry about?”
“Pointing my finger at you.”
I lecture Cha Sung-tae on one of the ways of Kangho.
“Sung-tae, you don’t know why pointing fingers is bad? Apart from courtesy.”
“Oh, what… Is there something else?”
I lift an index finger and aim a Finger Wind (指風) attack at Cha Sung-tae. My fingers begin to turn red as the energy of the Fire Chicken swirls. Cha Sung-tae raises his hands with a pale face.
“Oh, apologies. I’ll be careful from now on.”
“Don’t point fingers at anyone. You can be set on fire. A master can mistake you for a master of a Finger Technique (指法). Do you understand?”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Never provoke the lunatics. The only thing waiting for you on the other side is not curses or assault, but death. Also Manager Cha.”
“It’s been a while since I put you in charge of the general affairs. Aren’t you going to report to me?”
“The total amount of hidden funds, the Cho brothers’ wealth, how much investment is going into the sect, daily meal expenses, miscellaneous expenses, cleaning expenses, as well as updates on the men who joined from the Black Rabbit Union. Report everything. Arrange it nicely in a document. If you can’t handle it alone, part of your job is to find someone good at this.”
Cha Sung-tae stands in front of the door for a moment with a lost look. Cha Sung-tae then replies with unfocused eyes.
“Did you say once I’m fired, I will be executed? I can’t remember clearly.”
“You have a good memory.”
“Is there anything else besides the death penalty?”
“Yeah, what can it be?”
I point at Cha Sung-tae with my finger.
“To be fired, to be pointed at. Choose. I’m such a considerate leader… even giving his lackeys a choice.”
Cha Sung-tae punches his fist into his palm and answers me with a serious look.
“Leader, I’ll organize and report it to you. Instead…”
“Please set the highest monthly salary for managers and chiefs. I can’t work in this manner.”
There goes this brat again. I click my tongue once and approve his request, acting as if I can’t ignore it.
“Okay, go ahead.”
I won’t spend any money anyway, so it’s not a bad deal.
Arriving safely outside the Plum Blossom Pavilion, So Gun-pyeong looks around with a stern look.
The Black Rabbit Union Leader’s words appear in his mind.
[The target is an errand boy. If you fail, you must end your own life.]
So Gun-pyeong murmurs.
“I mean, I don’t intend to die. Why should I?”
His life was given by his parents, not the Black Rabbit Union.
Before he knows it, the sky is becoming dark, and So Gun-pyeong is hungry again. While walking, he incidentally makes eye contact with Jang Deuk-soo in front of the Chunyang Restaurant.
Jang Deuk-soo is surprised as if he had seen a ghost and says.
“Ah, so you’re alive.”
Jang Deuk-soo slaps a hand over his mouth as soon as the words leave his mouth.
Remembering the Low-Down Sect Leader’s words, So Gun-pyeong replies carefully.
“Our discussion is over now. By the way, can I get a bowl of noodles?”
So Gun-pyeong has nowhere to go right now. He is hungry and can feel pain throbbing in places where the Low-Down Sect Leader had beat him.
Jang Deuk-soo smiles awkwardly as he looks at So Gun-pyeong.
“I’m sorry, but we’re all out.”
So Gun-pyeong sighs while looking at Jang Deuk-soo and throws a string of silver coins to him just in case. Jang Deuk-soo, who catches the string of silver coins with both hands, stands in surprise as So Gun-pyeong says.
“I’ll pay upfront.”
Jang Deuk-soo looks around and replies to So Gun-pyeong in a low voice.
“Right this way, sir.”
Jang Deuk-soo thinks.
Business is always about risking your life.
So Gun-pyeong then says to Jang Deuk-soo while he is eating his noodles.
“…I thought I was going to die, but he spared me.”
Jang Deuk-soo watches So Gun-pyeong eat noodles with little emotion on his face. So Gun-pyeong then asks a question out of curiosity.
“Have you lived in this town for a long time? That person, he wasn’t an errand boy at first, was he?”
“He was an errand boy. Positive.”
“Hm, then where did he start learning martial arts? His skills are good…”
Jang Deuk-soo answers as he washes the dishes.
“That’s what I’m saying. We don’t know either. He suddenly acted like a different person one day. Zaha has been running his inn poorly since his grandfather died, and I’m just guessing it’s because he’s been training hard.”
“I heard the sect is called the Low-Down Sect. Did you know that?”
“Yes, I’m also part of the Low-Down Sect.”
So Gun-pyeong tilts his head.
“I thought it was an organization full of masters because it was called a sect (門).”
“That’s not the case. They are normal people like me. Most of us are working people.”
“That’s why he said he was the only Kangho master.”
After finishing the noodles, So Gun-pyeong sighs deeply without leaving his chair.
Jang Deuk-soo can’t help but feel uncomfortable.
‘Ugh, just get out of here.’
So Gun-pyeong, who read Jang Deuk-soo’s thoughts, asks for understanding first.
“I’m sorry. I need to think about something. Can I leave later?”
Jang Deuk-soo had received a silver coin for one bowl of noodles, so he couldn’t just kick him out due to his conscience.
“Is there anything else I can make for you? You overpaid…”
“Oh, can I get something else?”
“Anything is fine.”
Jang Deuk-soo tries to answer back with careful words.
“We don’t have anything here.”
As So Gun-pyeong looks at Jang Deuk-soo, Jang Deuk-soo lowers his head slightly and says,
“I’m kidding. I’ll go prepare something for you then.”
Jang Deuk-soo goes into the kitchen and boils the broth again.
Meanwhile, So Gun-pyeong ponders over his failure and thinks about the subordinates he left behind in the Black Rabbit Union.
If he returns, he’ll be killed by the leader.
He thinks it will be unbecoming if he leaves without saying goodbye to his men, so he falls into a deep state of worry.
So Gun-pyeong murmurs without realizing.
“Life isn’t easy.”
So Gun-pyeong thinks he is talking to himself, but Jang Deuk-soo in the kitchen replies.
“It’s the same for everyone. Believe me.”
“I earn a day and live a day. But I can still get by now that the punks demanding bribes are gone. Zaha- no, the Sect Leader created this sect for that sole purpose.”
“For that sole purpose…?”
Jang Deuk-soo sticks his head out of the kitchen and says,
“The guardian of the ordinary working class, that’s what the Low-Down Sect is… was what Zaha said.”
When Jang Deuk-soo heads back into the kitchen to cook, So Gun-pyeong becomes lost in thought with his arms folded.
He thinks of the whole problem and the Low-Down Sect Leader.
‘He’s not completely lost after all…’
Jang Deuk-soo boils whole pork ribs in rice soup. It is a simple dish that uses leftover rice soup broth.
A while later, Jang Deuk-soo comes out of the kitchen and gives three large pork rib bones to So Gun-pyeong with three more ribs in a bowl and says.
So Gun-pyeong says as he looks at the boiled pork ribs.
“What is this? It looks like pork bones.”
Jang Deuk-soo replies as he tears the flesh off of the pork rib.
“Why would it have a name? It’s just pork ribs. Tastes good, though.”
So Gun-pyeong grabs chopsticks as his mouth waters even though he has just eaten noodles. Then, Jang Deuk-soo says,
“Please eat this with your hands.”
“If my hands get greasy, it’ll be difficult to hold the sword.”
“The only master in this town is Lee Zaha. And you’ve already lost to Zaha. Feel free to eat it with your hands.”
“You’re right. I’ve already lost.”
Like Jang Deuk-soo, So Gun-pyeong also grabs the pork rib with his bare hands and eats it. He then folds his arms with admiration on his face as he feels something profound.
“Wow, this is… Wow.”
“What do you think?”
“This is really good. I’ve never tasted a delicacy like this before.”
Jang Deuk-soo grins.
“That’s a relief. I guess it’s worth selling noodles.”
As soon as So Gun-pyeong gulps and grabs another pork rib to deliver it to his mouth… The door of the Chunyang Restaurant opens with a chilling sound.
Holding a rib bone in his hand, So Gun-pyeong makes eye contact with the Low-Down Sect Leader.
I stare at the pork ribs So Gun-pyeong and Jang Deuk-soo are eating and growl.
“These bastards… How dare you eat pork ribs without me…”
After hearing what I said, So Gun-pyeong calmly puts down the pork rib bones that he hadn’t bitten into.
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