Chapter 35 - Let's start the meeting

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After promoting myself to Black Rabbit Union Leader, I toss the Night Blade to So Gun-pyeong and take the former leader’s sword. It is a good sword, considering the blade did not get damaged after clashing with the Night Blade. Above all, it looks better than the weapons from the Dragon Head Smithy.

“Now that your former leader’s legacy has ended, mine is starting. Now keep this in mind. Nothing happened in the Black Rabbit Union.”

“…”

No one could figure out what I meant, so they wisely kept their mouths shut. I ask my subordinates with the tone of a long-standing leader.

“What’s the name of this sword? I can’t seem to recall clearly.”

So Gun-pyeong replies.

“It is called the Black Hare’s Tooth.”

The name means that it’s a black rabbit’s incisors.

“What a ridiculous name. Wait, no. I take it back. Now that it’s mine, I shouldn’t call it ridiculous.”

Everyone’s expression immediately tenses at my change of attitude, but no one refutes it. Their fearful leader just died with his mangled body still stuck on the wall, so it is only natural. Also, I must still seem like a lunatic with severe mood swings, so they must watch what they say.

I inspect the Black Hare’s Tooth and naturally give out orders.

“Get rid of the corpse of your former leader, who foolishly sought to oppose me. Clean the walls and the floor as well. If you want to succeed in the Unorthodox Faction, you need to be good at cleaning. Throw away that axe over there. All the officials must gather in the hall. To commemorate a new beginning, we shall be holding a meeting.”

So Gun-pyeong quickly steps up.

“I will take care of things here and join you, so the rest of the officials should head to the hall first.”

As I declared before, I am the Black Rabbit Union Leader from today.

Not yesterday, but today.

A person’s fate is ever-changing.

The leader’s inauguration is a hassle, so I’m thinking of skipping it, but my ruling period is decided.

At least, until Dae Na-chal catches wind about it.

As of now, it’s unknown whether my term will be short or long.

I am just someone who knows what I know and doesn’t know things I don’t know.

The officials head to the main hall, and, as So Gun-pyeong orders his subordinates around, I wield the Black Hare’s Tooth in a sword dance.

The Black Rabbit Union lackeys that have started with the cleaning peek at my movement, but I flaunt the sword technique without any care. Fully immersed in my thoughts, I resume the sword dance again.

Meanwhile, some of the more discerning among them must be in quite a state of surprise.

This is because my movements are similar to that of their dead leader. As they expect, I briefly swing my sword in a wide area and train in the dead man’s technique as quickly as possible.

Eating, shitting, manifesting internal cultivation, and training in a dead man’s sword technique.

This is what a wise Unorthodox Faction life is like.


“Let’s start with the report on the union’s current situation.”

I sit at the seat of honor as I say this out suddenly to the waiting officials.

So Gun-pyeong asks.

“Sect Leader, which one do you want to see first?”

“Chief So, it’s “union leader,” not “sect leader.” Since when have we become the Black Rabbit Sect? Don’t forget your identity.”

“Apologies. I fully understand, sir.”

So Gun-pyeong gives a reasonable opinion.

“As far as I know, many warriors of the Golden Phoenix Pavilion are alive and in the Ilyang Prefecture, thanks to you. Please advise on what we should do with them.”

I applaud So Gun-pyeong’s question.

Clap, clap, clap.

“How wise, Chief So. Just as I expected, let’s all learn from Chief So. He cares about his colleagues and subordinates, and he bravely stood out to save your asses. He is loyal, smart, and even resilient, which is rare these days. He can take a good beating.”

While I am speaking, So Gun-pyeong scratches his forehead.

“I’m saying this because I’ve dealt with both the rabbit bastard and Chief So. Chief So does lack slightly. Chief So is the brains and talent of the Black Rabbit Union. He will be the representative official of the clan forward. Continue to train hard, Chief So. I shall reward you today with a gift of money for your excellent work.”

Not like it’s my money anyway.

In any case, So Gun-pyeong replies with renewed courage.

“I will give my best to serve you.”

I applaud again and say to the officials.

“Now, let’s give up a round of applause. Before I break your wrists.”

Other officials also applaud So Gun-pyeong with awkward expressions.

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Watching the rotten Black Rabbit officials, I nag.

“That’s enough.”

“…”

“You must encourage each other, motivate each other, train together, fight together and become stronger as one. That’s what the Unorthodox Faction is all about. You may develop a brotherhood of affection, hate, and a desire to beat each other that you didn’t know existed. That’s what makes an Unorthodox Faction powerful. At least in my experience.”

Reading boredom on some of their faces, I stop talking.

“Am I boring you?”

When I stare at an official whose name I didn’t know, he shakes his head and replies.

“N-No, not at all.”

“If you’re bored, get the hell out, you asshole. Go play outside. You don’t have to be an official. Go clean the dirt off the walls with the other lackeys, or go get rid of the corpse.”

“It wasn’t boring at all, sir.”

“Can’t you see your leader is speaking? Tsk…”

Even a higher-up should know their place. That’s how deeply I practice self-introspection.

Chief So is rather skilled in martial arts and is doing a good job as the middle-man in an Unorthodox Faction. A general in the front line should listen to his staff and soldiers.

Sure enough, So Gun-pyeong cheers for his leader at the right time.

“Feel free to continue, sir.”

“Now, where was I?”

“You were saying ‘that’s what makes an Unorthodox Faction powerful’”

“Yes, Sima Bi and Hyeok Ryeon-hong are alive in Ilyang. If Chief So wants to expand the pavilion and recruit the men of the Golden Phoenix Pavilion, feel free to come by anytime. I will entrust you with creating the Dragon Phoenix Pavilion, a merger of the Golden Phoenix and the Golden Dragon.”

“I will gladly take care of it.”

I say as I look around the officials.

“Who’s our manager?”

As expected, the oldest official bows and replies.

“Please call me Manager Byuk.”

“Manager Byuk, please send some money to the Dragon Phoenix Pavilion Leader. I need to know about our financial situation, so please report to me once you’ve compiled all the necessary information. If I discover there has been any embezzlement or laundering of the union’s funds, you will die first.”

“Yes, Leader.”

I look at Manager Byuk’s grim expression and say threateningly.

“Manager Byuk, do you know why the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader died?”

“I’m not sure.”

“He died because he embezzled money.”

“I have never committed such a thing, but I’ll keep that in mind.”

“You’re right. Having a bright heart and mind is as valuable as owning a precious mirror (寶鑑).” [^n1]

Some of the officials’ faces became red upon hearing my wise saying.

I bring up the next agenda.

“I forgot about the ranking battle. When was it again?”

Everyone can’t hide their surprise when I speak as though I have been in the Black Rabbit Union for years.

So Gun-pyeong replies.

“While the date for the match is not set, the most likely challenger is one of the lower-ranking, General Hong Shin (紅申, red monkey). In case you’re thinking of increasing your rank, you would have to go up against General Baek Yu.”

Baek Yu, the man whose identity I used when I killed Cho Il-sum.

“What rank am I in right now?”

“You are fifth out of the Twelve Generals.”

I am somewhat taken aback.

“Huh, that moron is pretty high in rank after all. It’s amazing how he ranks in the top 5 with that crappy skill. Who is stronger than Baek Yu?”

“There is Baek In (白寅), Cheong Jin (靑辰), and Jeok Sa (赤巳). If we include General Baek Yu, they are called the Four Generals (四神將).”

So there is a white tiger, a blue dragon, a red snake, and a white rooster. Above all, the most important person is still Dae Na-chal.

“Where is our revered master these days?”

This time, Manager Byuk replies.

“General Jeok Sa offered him a blue-eyed beauty and presented her to Master Dae Na-chal. He’s probably with her now.”

I scoff.

“That old geezer sure has a lot of stamina if he’s laying his hands on a blue-eyed woman. I’m suddenly feeling pissed.”

When I call him ‘master’ and then ‘old geezer’, the subordinates can’t hide their expressions.

“What? Did I say something wrong?”

“No, you did not.”

I say with a click of my tongue.

“He’s still using his disciples to mess with those poor women. Why isn’t the Murim Alliance doing anything about it? They need to take him out. Jeez…”

Everyone either looks at the ceiling or lowers their heads.

“From now on, I will teach you the new code of conduct of the Black Rabbit Union.”

“Please enlighten us.”

“Dae Na-chal may be my master, but the old geezer has fallen deep into debauchery. I plan to start a rebellion. I won’t spare anyone that sides with Dae Na-chal or interfere with my plans. You and I have to apply the ways of Kangho to this scheme. Betrayal in wartime (戰時) is death. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Dae Na-chal must be a much scarier figure than I am to you. I get it, but you’ll have to follow the right person to live long in Kangho. Keep in mind that your predictions may be wrong. Whether Dae Na-chal or I will die, it’s not something you can predict. You should have realized how its nature was when your former leader died earlier. Just like how our smart Chief So had realized it way before.”

The officials all nod at my words.

“I understand.”

“We don’t have any reason to like Dae Na-chal either. We were brought here against our will.”

This meeting is childish, disoriented, and has concluded in gibberish, but I keep a close eye on the faces and tones of the officials through the mask. Wearing a mask certainly has its advantages.

“How is the Black Hurricane Castle doing these days?”

Even though I suddenly changed the subject, So Gun-pyeong calmly replies.

“From what I know, they are still busy with gambling dens and auction houses. At this rate, no one in town will be able to match them in terms of wealth.”

“Are they still auctioning people?”

“Yes. It’s not a human auction. It’s slave auction.”

Slave auctioneers, that’s who the Black Hurricane Castle is.

I nod and set a short to mid-term goal for the Black Rabbit Union.

“I beat up some of the Black Hurricane Castle folks to death just the other day. He died after watching my place burn. I was upset, but that’s good. As the leader of an Unorthodox Faction, I can’t overlook the evil conduct of selling people as slaves in this day and age. I will exterminate the Black Hurricane Castle someday, so the officials should concentrate on training. I will rectify the principles of the Unorthodox Faction.”

The officials feel the urge to ask, ‘Does the Unorthodox Faction have any principles?’ but they didn’t say it out loud.

I express my aspirations in a determined voice.

“From now on, we of the Black Rabbit Union will be the vanguard of the Kangho Slave Liberation Front.”

A senior official asks cautiously.

“I don’t understand why you’ve suddenly decided to strike at the Black Hurricane Castle…”

“Do you think it’s right to buy and sell people?”

“Of course not.”

I mockingly say as I look around at the officials of Black Rabbit Union.

“Why did you guys take up martial arts, huh? You morons. You stand up for injustice when you see one. That is the duty of those who walk in the night, empowered by their blades. From now on, those who defy me will be executed and will be stabbed to death if you even dare to retort.”

“…”

“Answer me when I talk to you. You’re leaving me hanging. Ah, suddenly my temper…”

The officials answer in unison.

“Understood.”

“We will keep that in mind.”

After constantly threatening, cursing, and assaulting the sect after holding the whole Black Rabbit Union hostage, I conclude that it is time to stabilize my image as a disorienting leader.

“Whether it’s Dae Na-chal or the Black Hurricane Castle, I’ll take them down one day. For that cause, I’ll use whatever resources in the Black Rabbit Union’s possession at my discretion. This includes a stockpile of medicine, capital, and so on. If you have a complaint, let’s settle our differences in a one-on-one duel. Would anyone like to come forward?”

The officials look at the ground.

“…”

“None of you? That’s good.”

I wave my right hand and say.

“I’m glad my hands won’t be stained with the blood of my officials.”

I don’t miss the things that I have to do.

“During the leader adjustment period, Chief So should have the Dragon Phoenix elites be on full alert inside and outside the Black Rabbit Union. Those who escaped without filing a report will be executed immediately. If someone suddenly wishes to go home, catch them and bring them to me.”

So Gun-pyeong understands what I mean and nods.

“We will maintain a strict vigilance.”

From the officials’ standpoint, the Black Rabbit Union Leader has suddenly been replaced, but there is no improvement. Come to think of it, the Golden Phoenix’s slush funds went to the Ilyang Prefecture, and now their main possessions are being robbed. All they can do is mutter curses under their breaths.

Of course, it’s none of my business.

Not in the past, and not now.

I’m not part of the Unorthodox Faction.

I’m a man who beats and robs from the Unorthodox Faction.

Anyway, my first day as the Black Rabbit Union Leader ends peacefully.

[^n1] : Lee Zaha refers to the ancient Chinese book “Mingxin baojian”, containing famous quotes.

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