After losing ten times to Sim Bi, Cha Sung-tae does not even bother to retort. Sima Bi is the stronger of the two, so it was a given.
Accept the humiliating defeat and improve. Or accept it as an inevitable result and settle.
That’s up to Cha Sung-tae.
If Cha Sung-tae accepts the humiliating defeats and works on himself, I thought of helping him.
Until then, I won’t pay attention to him.
If a person wants to change, they must take the first step on their own.
Upon arrival, I look around the Plum Blossom Pavilion from a small distance away and pass through the Dragon Head Smithy nearby. While the people of my hometown are doing their own things, I turn back to the Black Rabbit Union.
What the Low-Down Sect leader has to do now is in the Unorthodox Faction.
I have to start crushing and organizing the Unorthodox Faction forces surrounding Ilyang.
I had flaunted my footwork excessively due to Hong-shin, so at this time, I chose to walk slowly on the way back. As I enter the deserted path, a dozen Kangho warriors approach me from the opposite direction.
Everyone seems to be silently moving in the direction I came from, that is, towards Ilyang.
I look at the group of Kangho warriors, and as the group passes, they all look at me in unison.
A dozen men cross over as if they are switching places with me, and as they take three to four more steps towards me…
The group of Kangho warriors stops their steps first.
I, too, turn around.
When I turn, they look both murderous and intimidating.
While I stare at the crowd, a man takes something out of his arms and checks it.
I think he is likely looking at a bounty poster. Sure enough, the person checking the poster raises his head and scans my face again.
“Looks like Lee Zaha to me.”
Three or four people gather at the man with the poster and check as well. The leader of the group’s complexion darkens as he asks his men.
“Is it him?”
“Yep, it’s him.”
“How come we’re seeing him outside of Ilyang? What is he doing here?”
“I have no idea.”
What kind of conversation is this?
The guys looking for me are on their way to Ilyang, where I’m not present.
I ask the head of the pack.
“Aren’t you scumbags from the Black Hurricane Castle?”
The leader answers my question with a retort.
“You’re Lee Zaha, right?”
A question with a question, but there are no answers.
The atmosphere is different from that of the Twelve Generals’ subordinates. The Black Hurricane Castle has its own, more distant vibe. The Black Hurricane Castle gives off a vibe like they are leaving a gambling den with weapons after rotting inside for about a dozen days.
One of the men asks his leader.
“What should we do? I didn’t expect Zaha to be here.”
I snort without realizing it.
To interpret those words, it seems like they were on the move to cause trouble in Ilyang.
It feels weird.
Should I say my feelings are sinking in a complicated way?
After returning to the past, it felt like the madness I’d suffered had never existed.
The fact that I returned to the past itself felt like a fun game.
The head of the pack, who is watching my expression, steps forward.
“I’m Dokgo Saeng (獨孤生) of the Black Hurricane Castle. I heard you killed Neung Ji-seok, Wi Sun-woo, and Gu Yang-soo. The leader of the Black Hurricane Castle has put a bounty of 30 golds on your head. This is requested by the Roaring Tiger Clan (虎嘯幇) and Blade Trading Triad (賣劍三子). We were on our way to Ilyang to post a wanted poster (榜文), but I’ll read it to you myself instead.”
As Dokgo Saeng nods to his subordinate, a man comes to me and offers a written wanted poster.
It’s common practice not to accept anything the Unorthodox Faction tries to give you.
When I don’t take the poster, Dokgo Saeng continues.
“We’ve been searching for you since we heard you had disappeared from Ilyang. Suppose you’re brave enough to meet the Black Hurricane Castle face to face. In that case, the leader will reasonably compensate the Roaring Tiger Clan and Blade Trading Triad and remove you from his wanted list. So, what do you say?”
This is a classic tactic of the Unorthodox Faction. They torment the people around their victims, so they have nowhere to run.
These guys probably would’ve made a scene in Ilyang and then put up the poster. The more confident the Unorthodox Faction is, the more likely the parties would meet face-to-face to reach a solution. A prime example is the Golden Phoenix Pavilion Leader, who died after summoning me.
I do a head count and respond.
“There’s eleven of you. It looks like you brought a lot of men just to hang a wanted poster.”
Dokgo Saeng replies.
“We heard you were powerful, so we travel in packs.”
“That’s a pretty good excuse. It’s too much work for me to see your leader right now. But I’ll visit him soon.”
Dokgo Saeng glares.
“If you don’t come with us, we’ll head down to Ilyang.”
I scratch my chin with a calm expression.
“I told you I’d go later.”
“It would be best for you to come with us now.”
I reply while picking my nose with my pinky.
“Dokgo Saeng, why are you trying to kill your subordinates? Let’s hear your reason.”
“You killed Neung Ji-seok, Wi Sun-woo, and Gu Yang-soo. We’re not gonna tolerate that attitude. You can’t just say you’ll visit later and walk away.”
“That’s not the point right now.”
Some days I feel strange.
There are days when I don’t feel any emotions, even after killing heaps of people. There are also days when I want to avoid killing recklessly, and today is one of the latter days.
I don’t know why.
But I wouldn’t have been called Crazy Demon if my moves were predictable.
I’m the one who lives according to my mood day by day and becomes the Crazy Demon.
Maybe because I often imagine leading the Black Rabbit Union forces to war with Black Hurricane Castle.
But things in the world don’t go how you want them to.
Dokgo Saeng isn’t afraid of death.
“There is no difference, whether you kill us now and visit the Black Hurricane Castle later or go with us now. If you go later, you will have to deal with the Roaring Tiger Clan and the Blade Trading Triad. It’s troublesome regardless of your choice. Lee Zaha.”
And here, I decide.
“Fine. Let’s go to the Black Hurricane Castle.”
A headwind (逆風) blows in my heart.
Should I say that my feeling of not wanting to kill is gradually being suppressed by something else that is rising?
The one changing his mind here and there is also me.
When I wear a mask, I become the leader of the Black Rabbit Union and build up the power of the Unorthodox Faction.
If I take my mask off, I’ll become the Crazy Demon once again.
Though I became the leader of the Low-Down Sect, the further the Black Rabbit Union strays farther away from Ilyang, the less I can think rationally.
When bad thoughts and the errand boy Lee Zaha meets, the Crazy Demon is born.
What a tragic event.
My previous life’s misdeeds were considerable, but I’m not sure how I can handle this life’s transgressions.
I suddenly remember the mysterious man rumored to be confined in Heaven’s Prison. As expected, I’d probably take the room next to the man’s prison cell.
That’s how sinful I am.
The act of protecting the weak mostly involves killing people.
I understand why the Murim Alliance hated me so much in my previous life.
With the Black Hurricane Castle troops, I arrive downstream of the Hornless Dragon River (螭龍江) and ride a boat. After looking at the waves crashing for a long time, I wave at Ilyang, which is getting smaller as we sail away.
“Farewell, my hometown. I’m off to make money. I’ll be back after I find success. Welcome me with open arms when I come back. And with that, this errand boy sails off.”
As I wave my hands continuously toward my hometown and mutter bullshit, the Black Hurricane Castle troops look at me with a frown. I can hear their thoughts like clear hallucinations.
‘Is he out of his mind?’
I look at the Black Hurricane Castle’s pawns one by one with an aloof look on my face and say.
“You are all so hideous. Do you commit such ugly acts because you yourselves are so ugly? The world is such a mysterious place.”
No one responds, but I continue saying what I want to say.
“Though there is one handsome man known for his ugly, perverse behavior. Perhaps an ugly appearance has nothing to do with ugly behavior. Even considering that, it’s amusing how you all can look so ugly. Is it because you are rotting in a gambling den? Come to think of it. You wouldn’t have looked so fucking ugly when you were young. Maybe seeing disgusting things around you every day has affected how you look. You know, like the slave trade.”
One of the guys who is listening while holding back his anger says.
“Can’t you shut the hell up?”
I retort by examining his physiognomy.
“Where are your eyebrows? You have the face of a rat. Your eyes are dingy, with skin like a battlefield. When you open your mouth, the rotten smell comes up all the way here. Why are you staying in the Black Hurricane Castle? If you want to make a living, you have to work. What goes through your mind when you see slaves being bought and sold?”
“I think I should make money and buy a slave. That’s what I think.”
The Black Hurricane Castle’s pawns burst into laughter at the same time.
I suddenly look at Dokgo Saeng’s expression. Dokgo Saeng didn’t join in the laughing at all.
“Why don’t you laugh, Dokgo Saeng?”
When I ask him this, Dokgo Saeng swears at his subordinates.
“Shut up, morons, before I kill you right here. He’s the guy our leader will be dealing with, and you morons laugh? I’ll cut off your arm if you dare open your mouth before we arrive.”
The pawns all shut up at Dokgo Saeng’s threat.
Dokgo Saeng says to me.
“Keep talking. That’s a nice voice.”
I nod and asks Dokgo Saeng.
“How old are you?”
“25 years old.”
Dokgo Saeng sighs.
“Married? I live in the Unorthodox Faction.”
It is an ‘I might suddenly die one day, and you’re asking if I’m married’ kind of response.
This guy isn’t in his right mind either.
Sure enough, as if his temper has reached its limit, Dokgo Saeng looks at me and curses.
“How old are you? Why’re you asking if I’m married, you lunatic? Why did you kill those three? Why are you causing so much trouble by killing them? Are you that good at fighting? You’re crazy, aren’t you? You’re good enough to kill all the morons and me, right? I get it. But how can you kill someone without hesitation and deal with the whole Black Hurricane Castle alone? You crazy punk. Do you know how many members of the Black Hurricane Castle there are?”
I reply briefly.
“I don’t know, you little brat. Maybe over 500 people.”
The man next to Dokgo Saeng intervenes.
“It’s over 600.”
Then, Dokgo Saeng hits the head of the man who replies to him continuously without saying a word. He punches the man until his face is covered with blood and then says.
“You’ll get it if you open your mouth. I asked you to shut up, didn’t I?”
In a moment, Dokgo Saeng suddenly grabs the bloody man by the collar and throws him into the Hornless Dragon River. Splash — he cries as soon as the sound rings out.
“Leader! Help! I can’t swim…”
Dokgo Saeng shouts.
“If you can’t swim, you die. You punk.”
I watch the man floundering in the river along with the Black Hurricane Castle troops.
The river looks deep.
I look at the drowning man with pity.
“Fishes have to eat and live, too. Rest in peace, you cruel Unorthodox Faction bastard.”
I am too lazy to save him.
Dokgo Saeng asks his subordinates.
“Anyone else wants to open their mouths?”
I reply to Dokgo Saeng instead.
“What do you think?”
I sigh deeply as I look at the waves of the Hornless Dragon River.
“Ah, I should’ve barged in coolly with the Black Rabbit Union and made an entrance. Or fight Dae Na-chal and try to aim for mutual destruction. In the end, this is how things turn out. People are unpredictable.”
At this time, Dokgo Saeng takes out a small tool (什具) that is made of something like daylilies (忘憂草) or marijuana (幻覺草) and skillfully lights it up before taking a hit.
The white smoke that escapes from Dokgo Saeng’s mouth scatters over the waves of the Hornless Dragon River. Having taken a few deep puffs and breathing in the smoke, Dokgo Saeng asks me.
“So, Lee Zaha, are you planning to spare us?”
While waiting for my answer, Dokgo Saeng takes another puff. After asking a question that does not match his tone or mannerisms, he waits for my response.
It is the attitude that I expected from the first time I met him.
Dokgo Saeng asks again.
“I said, are you gonna let us live?”
I shake my head and look out over the shimmering river. I try to erase bad ideas to calm my madness.
If a person is to change, they must take the first step on their own. Determined not to live like the Crazy Demon in my past life, I reply.
“I’ll let the last man standing live. You have my word. Decide among yourselves”
It means they have to kill each other.
Did it work?
As soon as I finish speaking, everyone, including Dokgo Saeng, is holding their swords to kill each other.
This is what the Unorthodox Faction is.
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