A quiet dawn.
I awake to the sound of rain hitting the roof of a building.
I can see the yellowish wallpaper on the ceiling and smell the faint scent of mold permeating the room, but it feels strange that the migraine I had all my life is just gone.
Even stranger is just how familiar the sight before me is.
This is my old home, a place that radiates the atmosphere of a poor shabby house, a sight that does not change no matter how many times I blink.
I am in the small room at the back of the Zaha Inn that had been passed down to me by my grandfather.
And my name is Lee Zaha because of this inn.
"Why am I here?"
I could never be mistaken because I never lived in a decent house again after the inn burned down.
Suddenly I remember the mysterious man's words.
'This is your final chance. Don't swallow Heavenly Pearl again.'
How would I swallow Heavenly Pearl again?
Unless I was sent back to the past, it's not possible.
"Huh? Wait, the past?"
Come to think of it, my body's condition is much better.
Amazingly, my headache is gone, and the injury suffered while penetrating the Demon Cult's Heaven and Earth Net also vanished completely. However, my face stings as if someone had punched me.
When I open the door to find out what has happened, I am greeted by the pitiful, ramshackle sight of the Zaha Inn.
Considering the man's words and where I am now, he must have meant that I should not swallow the Heavenly Pearl again after returning to the past.
If that's the case, then the current 'present' is clearly my 'past.'
I was so bewildered that I didn't realize that the current situation was a blessing.
"Wow, what the hell?"
I always thought the Zaha Inn was a dull and messy place, but the current sight of the inn after so long is peaceful and quiet.
Beyond the inn entrance, dawn breaks upon the ridge as the rain stops.
I stare at the scenery until the sun that is rising begins to spread its light dimly inside the inn…
It's been a long time since I've felt this peaceful.
But it is a little disappointing.
Why did it have to be at this point in the past?
I couldn't find my grandfather anywhere in the inn.
I also think about how nice it would've been to go back further in time and see my parents.
My mood sours somewhat as I recall my grandfather telling me about how my parents died of poor health.
There is nothing I can do about the sudden rush of emotions.
While looking at the scenery outside the inn for a long time, my right eye was throbbing furiously.
It feels like it's bruised.
Since there are no mirrors, I had no choice but to leave the inn.
My old memories are either scattered in pieces or lost in oblivion, and looking around the inn isn't helping me recall them!
So, I rush to the stream and check my face.
The sight of it surprises me.
The scars had vanished from my face, giving it a shockingly soft appearance. However, my right eye is bruised and blue, and my lips are torn as if I had been punched.
'When did I get beaten up like this?'
It is the face I had in my early twenties.
During this time, I got beat up often, so I am confused as to which incident caused this. As I look at my reflection on the calm waters, memories of the past come rushing back.
This is definitely my hometown at the southern edge of the Ilyang Prefecture.
Kangho grows around where people live. No reputable sects or noble families live here, but this is a place where the Orthodox and Unorthodox factions clashed with each other.
By the time I was named Crazy Demon, this place was infested with crazy scumbags.
Ilyang Prefecture, in particular, has a large number of them.
It is because pleasure pavilions are flourishing here.
Since I was young, it has been a place where rogues would gang up together and commit crimes that not even low-class sects would do. These rogues also dream of entering Unorthodox faction sects outside the Prefecture.
I look over the tranquil countryside and shout out.
"I'm back! Motherfuckers!"
It's dawn, so I am expecting everyone to be asleep, yet a nearby man yells back in reply.
"Be quiet! You crazy punk! If you're drunk, go home. Ugh, fuck."
"You're awake? Get some fucking sleep."
A man who is barely asleep at dawn shouts from his house. The curses make me realize that I have indeed returned to the past.
Was I lucky because I fought with the Demon Cult or encountered the mysterious man?
It may have been a combination of luck and not letting the Demon Cult have their way.
I was pretending to be an errand boy during this time.
I might have gotten in trouble if it was revealed that a young man was the owner of Zaha Inn, so I often lie and say that the inn was passed down to an older relative.
Of course, the neighbors close to my grandfather know that I'm not just an errand boy but the inn's owner, so they stayed silent. People called me 'Lee Zaha,' combining the inn's name with my real name.
Memories of days when I couldn't even reveal my status as an inn owner flash through my mind.
Only then did I smile.
"It's nice to be back."
I am itching at the thought of being able to relive my life again. The previous age from when I started to learn martial arts is still a long way off. I can't even predict how much stronger I can become this time around.
I will start a full seven, eight years earlier than in my previous life.
Since errand boys are easily ignored, insulted, humiliated, and bullied, my position is at the bottom in Kangho.
But I won't be bullied again.
After all, this errand boy had once grown into a man who picked fights with the Murim Alliance and the Demon Cult.
I decided to go for a walk around the Ilyang Prefecture to refresh my memory.
Forgotten memories slowly come back whenever my eyes fall on different parts of the familiar streets.
The dirty alleyway, the fishy smell from the fish shop, the cauldron lid in front of the dumpling restaurant, the windshield covering the sign, and the unique Rice Soup (국밥) restaurant I visited often.
The ordinary sights and smells of the street keep bringing back memories.
And the forgotten emotions also came rushing back alongside.
Funnily enough, there are a lot of shops here. Still, the only place I liked to visit occasionally was the Chunyang Restaurant.
While walking around alleys and streets, I often twist my lips.
I had no choice but to cherish it because I didn't have any money.
The miserable feeling I felt when I was robbed of my salary.
As I pass through the alley, there aren't any precious memories I can recall.
I might be a young inn owner, but I had to live a life like a beggar to make ends meet. Because I had never spent money on anything, customers often teased me for being a penny pincher.
It is also the reason why I have bruises on my face now.
A customer once asked me what I would spend all my savings on.
To be honest, the question caught me by surprise.
I'm saving up desperately because I'm an orphan; how could I spend as much money as you, who works as a pavilion guard, I thought then.
At that time, I tried to joke about it…
I said I was trying to save money to listen to Chae Hyang of Plum Blossom Pavilion sing a song.
I swear to the heavens, it was just a joke.
As I expected, people had a good laugh, but the reply I made in jest started to spread.
It was then that I realized the true nature of rumors and how words can change their meanings as they pass through human mouths.
The phrase "I wanted to listen to a song" suddenly changed to "I want to sleep with Chae Hyang."
Isn't that a surprise?
These rumors spread like wildfire all around Ilyang Prefecture, but there was no mention of it being a joke anymore.
「I heard he's been saving up all his money to sleep with Chae Hyang.」
「What a psycho. No wonder he's been saving up so meticulously.」
「But that guy should know his place. Chae Hyang isn't even a prostitute; she must feel awful. She's quite prideful, yet so many guys are after her.」
The thought of it still makes me sick.
"Jeez, it was just a joke, you damned bastards. Ugh…"
Every time the rumor circulated and returned to my ears, I felt the urge to tear my hair out.
Wasn't it both a silly and interesting story?
The words I spoke in jest as the reason I was saving money spread throughout Ilyang Prefecture and suddenly became a legend. At that rate, it might have even reached the Murim Alliance.
I stop briefly at Plum Blossom Pavilion, where a blue lantern (靑燈) was hanging in front.
If there is a blue lantern, it meant prostitutes are available.
If a red light was hanging, it meant that none were available.
Of course, the meaning in each region varies, and meanings change over time, but this place is like that.
Past memories fill my mind like the light of those lanterns.
Upon hearing a rumor that an errand boy wanted to sleep with Chae Hyang, the Plum Blossom Pavilion guards came to the inn to make fun of me, but because my expression was so stiff, I was suddenly hit in the face and kicked by them.
There might have been many reasons for that.
They might have been angry that Chae Hyang was treated as a prostitute. It may have been the ugly behavior of men trying to look good to Chae Hyang.
Judging from the condition of my face, the incident was just a few days ago.
This happened so long ago, so I didn't want to dwell on it, but as I am now back in the past, I have no choice but to keep reflecting on it.
At that time, my face hardened because they brought Chae Hyang to tease me on purpose.
How can I express the frustration and shame of that time?
It didn't matter to them whether it was a joke or a truth.
They were just displeased that an errand boy was looking at the most beautiful woman in Plum Blossom Pavilion.
That was the first time I saw Chae Hyang.
She's very beautiful, but there is nothing more humiliating than looking at a woman's face filled with anger and contempt.
As I recall these emotions, a smile comes to my lips.
Since they shamed me when people were watching, I will visit Plum Blossom Pavilion in the evening when it is most crowded.
I have to turn the 'rumor' back into a 'joke.'
I look at the pavilion for a long time and turn around when the man who works at the cloth shop across the street approaches me and says.
"Are you going to start a fire out of anger? What are you staring at? What a loser."
It is the most pathetic voice in the world. Of course, the current me is also a pathetic man.
That fact is more important, I am still pathetic right now.
We're looking for editors, and Korean and Chinese translators, you will be PAID per chapter.
You can use these forms to apply:
This translation is made by fans and while the chapters on our website are free, they cost money to produce. Thus, any form of support would be much appreciated. Also, join us on discord to get release notifications and chat about our series.
Enjoying the series? Rate or review it on Novel Updates