The reason why I am back at the Chunyang Restaurant is simple.
Because I haven’t eaten yet.
“How will you make rice soup if you use up all the ingredients? You said you ran out of noodles. Is this how you’re going to do business?”
Jang Deuk-soo answers.
“I haven’t run out of noodles yet.”
“You said it ran out earlier.”
“That’s because he was lying.”
“All of the chief of the Vendor Sect’s words are lies. Get me a bowl.”
I took one of Jang Deuk-soo’s pork ribs, put it in a bowl, and took one of the pork ribs So Gun-pyeong was eating and sat across from him.
Jang Deuk-soo asked as I grabbed the pork ribs with my hand and began nibbling.
“Is that all you’re having? Do you want some noodles?”
“Forget it, let’s just eat.”
When I rip off the flesh of the pork rib, Jang Deuk-soo also proceeds to dig in. As soon as the two started digging in, So Gun-pyeong is also forced to bite into his own pork ribs.
The hands of the three are soon covered in pork grease.
I ask So Gun-pyeong while eating pork ribs.
“Is it good?”
“They’re very delicious.”
“It’s only for regulars, but you’re not a regular. Why are you eating it?”
So Gun-pyeong taps his chest as if his lungs are stifled by something.
Then Jang Deuk-soo clicks his tongue and nags.
“Za-ha, you said you don’t mess with dogs when you eat, so let him eat in peace.”
Biting meat off the bone, I retort.
“This guy came all the way here to kill me. And I spared his life. But he doesn’t want to join the Low-Down Sect. He’s still getting treated like a regular when he doesn’t even dine here. Have the ways of Kangho fallen this low?”
Suddenly, I notice the Night Blade that So Gun-pyeong placed on the table. This is quite the famous sword in the Unorthodox Faction, so I want to take a look.
“Let’s take a look at your sword. Hand it over.”
So Gun-pyeong says with a startled look.
“I can’t. This is like my life.”
“I won’t take it away. So let me have a look.”
So Gun-pyeong is nervous as if his lover is being forcibly taken away. He carefully pushes the Night Blade to me. He looks nervous like he is really giving up his life.
I wipe the oil off my hands casually on my clothes. After completely removing the grease, I pull out the Night Blade and look at the sharp blade.
“This is a good sword.”
I flick the blade while slightly channeling Qi into it with my fingers.
“Firm and resilient…”
Although So Gun-pyeong lacks internal strength compared to me, the kitchen knife would have been cut like a dumpling if I hadn’t been careful.
Returning the Night Blade to So Gun-pyeong, I say.
“This is a rare legendary sword (寶刀).”
So Gun-pyeong nods at the comment.
“But this sword isn’t as good as a kitchen knife. Hahaha.”
Jang Deuk-soo, who had witnessed the fight, also laughs loudly as I break into laughter.
Then, as soon as Jang Deuk-soo meets So Gun-pyeong’s eyes, he flinches and stops laughing.
I say while glaring at So Gun-pyeong.
“Who said you can glare at the owner of my favorite restaurant?”
“I wasn’t glaring. I was just looking at him.”
“Look at him with manners.”
We continue eating the pork ribs.
I always have a habit of thinking about the relationship between a weapon and a person.
In my opinion…
If an incompetent Kangho warrior has an excellent weapon, the owner will likely suffer an untimely death.
This is because he is killed by masters who want that weapon.
On the other hand, there is a high possibility that even if you possess a weapon far below your skills, you will die after being defeated.
During a fight, they will be defeated by the relative merits of the weapon.
It’s also a problem if the weapon is way too good for them to handle.
Another problem is not being able to find a weapon that matches their skills.
Hence, life in Kangho is so problematic.
From that point of view, So Gun-pyeong and the Night Blade have good compatibility. It looked like a weapon barbarians or bandits would use.
After swiftly polishing off the pork ribs, I turn and ask So Gun-pyeong.
“You must have nowhere to go, huh?”
“…I have something on my mind, so I’m just here for a bit.”
“You’re thinking about your men who are still in the union?”
“You guys are close?”
So Gun-pyeong, who has been staring at me for a while, replies.
“That’s right, I think of many of them as my brothers.”
“I’m not sure if you’re aware, but most of the men in the Black Rabbit Union are those who surrendered to Dae Na-chal after he killed our former leader. Myself included. We had no choice. He made an example of our officials by killing them. The casualties in the Golden Dragon Pavilion were not great, so Dae Na-chal didn’t mix his goons with us.”
I reply with a grave look.
“How did you survive?”
“I wasn’t a high-ranking member back then.”
I think this guy must have been one hell of a lucky man.
Even now, I have no fear of the Twelve Generals, but Dae Na-chal is different. This is because he is an old Kangho warrior. Someone who had jumped into Kangho decades earlier and survives to this day.
It is difficult for me to accurately gauge his skills because, in my past life, Dae Na-chal was not killed by me but by the Poison Demon (毒魔).
I briefly recall the story of the Poison Demon that I know of and review my plans.
If So Gun-pyeong doesn’t return, there is a high possibility the leader of the Black Rabbit Union himself will come after me. Being attacked is not my hobby. I conclude that it would be better for me to see the Black Rabbit Union before they could come to the Ilyang Prefecture.
“What is it?”
“Take me to see the Black Rabbit Union after this.”
So Gun-pyeong’s eyes widen.
“You’re asking me to tag along?
“Listen, I’m being serious. If I go alone, I might kill not just the leader but all of the Black Rabbit Union warriors. If the fight escalates into a war, you can step in at the right moment, at least collect your men, so they don’t die. This is the best I can do.”
It was clear that if I killed all of So Gun-pyeong’s underlings, there was no way that he would join me. Even if we make an invasion, our best shot is to only take out the Black Rabbit Union Leader.
However, how can we accurately predict the outcome of the fight against the Unorthodox Faction?
So Gun-pyeong asks a question while being flustered.
“When are we leaving?”
“I’ll grab a decent weapon from the smithy to set the mood. Let’s go as soon as I come back. Wait here.”
Jang Deuk-soo asks.
“A decent weapon to set the mood? What is that?”
I stand up and answer briefly.
Jang Deuk-soo will soon find out how an axe can split someone’s head.
“Leader, what brings you here?”
When I appear in Dragon Head Smithy, Geum Chul-yong greets me.
“Are you here to ask about the Crazy Blade?”
“No, that’s not why I’m here.”
“Then there’s another fight.”
I answer Geum Chul-yong honestly.
“The Black Rabbit Union sent an assassin. So I’m thinking of returning the favor.”
I point my thumb at my chest.
“Me. How’s the progress on the Crazy Blade? I’m not pestering, just curious.”
Geum Chul-yong crosses his arms and says.
“The vice master said he’ll go down south and ask around the Yue Black Market (百越黑市). Acquiring good iron is much harder than making a sword or blade. We’ll hear news from him soon.”
The Yue Black Market is an exclusive market run by the Yue people, a minority ethnic group.
Specifically, they do not do any business with the Kangho warriors in the central district. The vice master is of the Yue, which is why he could go there.
“If you’re planning to go as an assassin, what weapons do you need?”
“Get me a good broadaxe (大斧, a large axe). The bigger and heavier, the better.”
“It’s the first time I’ve heard of an assassin using an axe.”
“The more skillful the assassins are, the less likely they are to rely on weapons. They can fight amateurs with chopsticks.”
“I see. Leader, I just thought of this, but I’ll ask for your opinion.”
“Why don’t we run a black market in the Low-Down Sect, too? I think it’ll be more profitable than a blacksmith shop. I’ve been running out of work lately.”
Geum Chul-yong gives up instantly. Still, he is curious about the reason.
“Is there a reason why we shouldn’t do it?”
“You aren’t even willing to make a blade, yet you want to run a black market to do business with Kangho warriors? A black market involving Kangho warriors. You’ll have to make money by cleaning up corpses. Can you handle it?”
“What if the Low-Down Sect expands bigger?”
“Still, you can’t.”
There is also a line you shouldn’t cross even in the Low-Down Sect. Keeping the line if we want to last a long time in this field is correct.
Geum Chul-yong says with a grin.
“I get it.”
“You should ask Yeon Ja-seong of the Architectural Sect if he needs any help. Building tools, equipment, and materials will need your skills.”
Small clans in the Low-Down Sect can help each other from the start. However, the request cost should be appropriate and transparent.
Geum Chul-yong’s face brightens.
“Why haven’t I thought of this? I see. I’ll bring over one broadaxe for our leader.”
While waiting for the axe, Geum Chul-yong asks.
“But how are you going to deal with the Black Rabbit Union? Are you going to gather Sung-tae and the other armed men? No matter how I think about it, you’re losing in terms of numbers.”
“I’m going alone. And I might return a little late.”
Geum Chul-yong stares at me and says.
“Make sure you don’t die. If anything happens to the sect leader we of the Blacksmith Sect will have to join the Black Rabbit Union.”
“I won’t, but thank you for the advice.”
Just as I don’t know how to make a weapon, Geum Chul-yong doesn’t know about martial arts.
After we glance at each other and nod a few times, an eerie-looking axe with a dragon head handle arrives. The appearance is indeed superb, but the connectors seem a little shaky.
‘I’ll have to use it moderately.’
The axe has a terrifying exterior like the weapons that Xu Huang or Li Kui of the Water Margin Bandits would have used, so I am pleased.
“So Gun-pyeong, lead the way.”
So Gun-pyeong, waiting at the Chunyang Restaurant, jumps from his seat.
“Are you two really going together?”
“Of course, you wanna join us?”
I carry the big axe on my shoulder and say goodbye to Jang Deuk-soo.
“Deuk-soo hyung, if I don’t make it back on time, tell Sung-tae.”
Jang Deuk-soo replies with a worried look.
“What do you want me to say?”
I think about it for a while and say.
“Don’t slack off and write the report meticulously. I’m not sure when I’ll be back.”
I have a rough plan for dealing with the Black Rabbit Union. However, the plan does not account for the time of my return.
I’ll have to go and fight first.
Jang Deuk-soo says.
“Aren’t you being a little rash?”
“Ambushes are supposed to be done rashly.”
The Ilyang Prefecture is only safe when I attack.
After saying goodbye to Jang Deuk-soo, So Gun-pyeong and I begin to move quickly. I point at the Zaha Inn that is under construction and says.
“This is the Zaha Inn that will become the headquarters of the Low-Down Sect in the future.”
So Gun-pyeong replies without much thought, but he checks the construction in progress and stops in his tracks.
‘Why is it so massive?’
I walk three or four steps and call out to So Gun-pyeong, who is not catching up.
“What are you doing? I told you to lead the way.”
“I’m sorry, but you’re very rich. I never knew…”
“Who else is here?”
“Gun-pyeong, do you think I’m a saint?”
“What do you mean?”
I point to the Zaha Inn, which is under construction, and tell him.
“This is built using your slush funds.”
“It’s your money. The Black Rabbit Union money, the Black Rabbit Union’s secret funds, secret funds of the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader, money extorted from others, money the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader got from threatening the weak. Ah, wealth from the pavilion owners, too. That’s how the money ends up here. Follow me and watch how I rob from the Unorthodox Faction. Let’s go.”
As I move again with urgent steps, So Gun-pyeong hurries alongside.
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