After confirming that the Black Hurricane Castle Leader is dead, Dokgo Saeng strides somewhere and stands before an official that had been throwing a harpoon at me.
The official is bleeding from his cut-off wrists and glances at Dokgo Saeng.
Dokgo Saeng kneels on one knee and stares at the official.
Then, the official slaps Dokgo Saeng with his intact hand.
Everyone expects Dokgo Saeng to kill the official, and so do I. However, Dokgo Saeng, who was slapped in the face, smiles and gets up again.
Now that the elder’s hand is cut off, Dokgo Saeng must be thinking he is not worth the trouble.
What a strange man he is.
Dokgo Saeng looks at me.
“Lee Zaha, you should be the next master of our fort.”
I wiggle my fingers, beckoning Dokgo Saeng to come forward. Dokgo Saeng trods up and receives a slap from me.
With a slap — Dokgo Saeng tumbles over.
I approach Dokgo Saeng and grip him by his hair.
“Why are you fucking with me? Shall I send you next to your leader?”
Dokgo Saeng and I glare at each other with murderous looks. No matter who stares better, Dokgo Saeng will be the one who dies.
Dokgo Saeng says.
“What am I supposed to do, now that our master is dead?”
Frankly, this is the most shocking thing Dokgo Saeng has said since I arrived at the Black Hurricane Castle.
People live their own lives.
Is it because he’d lived under a person who gave him orders since birth? He can’t get over the idea that they can’t function without a leader.
Even for the ever-rebellious and unyielding Dokgo Saeng this is something he needs.
‘What a problematic clan.’
I release my grip from Dokgo Saeng’s head and look around as I get up.
‘Ugh, this is troublesome.’
If this is a force composed of Kangho warriors like the Black Rabbit Union, I can blend in accordingly. However, regular civilians are also involved in this clan, so it is hard to differentiate who is a Kangho warrior and who isn’t.
Since we’re in a strange situation, mixing them with the Low-Down Sect members is impossible.
What should I do at times like this?
After I killed the leader to liberate the clan, they are now just slaves waiting for the next leader.
I am probably the most responsible if this is how the situation progresses.
Anyhow, I have beaten the Black Hurricane Castle Leader to his death.
After much thinking, I decided to take responsibility.
Now that I am guilty of beating someone to death, I should bear the consequences.
“Dokgo Saeng, gather everyone working directly under the officials and meet me in the hall. Treat the elders who made it out alive. After all, those who survive shall live.”
With a few hand gestures, a few chin gestures, and two or three words, Dokgo Saeng clears up the situation, shoo-ing with his hands as if to usher the chiefs into the hall.
I watched the chiefs come in from my spot at the head seat where the Black Hurricane Castle Leader had sat.
Some sit confidently, while others look around carefully before taking a seat at the rear end.
Anyway, the only thing the Black Hurricane Castle Leader did right is to spare them their lives. Maybe he had anticipated his defeat. That’s why he followed those elders to the afterlife.
Or maybe not.
By the way, are these guys sitting according to their ranks?
Dokgo Saeng is sitting on my left.
“Is everyone here?”
The youngest chief at the bottom row replies.
“Yes, all the chiefs are here.”
I exhale for a moment and clear my mind.
There is only one thing I want to tell them.
Even if it wasn’t for me, you’re still in danger of being exterminated by other masters in the future. But I can’t say this out loud since I know for sure I’d be treated like a nutjob. I might be crazy, but telling a story of things that haven’t happened yet would just result in it being ignored.
“For me, the best option is to appoint a new leader and have the entire Black Hurricane Castle come under my command.”
Though people have questions, no one dares to ask because of the messy dogfight I had committed outside.
I also ask a question.
“Is there anyone stronger than Dokgo Saeng?”
As soon as my question is over, Dokgo Saeng scowls at the other chiefs.
Wow, why is this guy so ill-tempered?
Indeed, the other chiefs can not come forward so easily since he’s the type to swear at the elders.
“Dokgo Saeng will be the next leader.”
Dokgo Saeng looks like he has a lot to say, so I point my finger at him.
“Do as I say.”
Dokgo Saeng shuts his mouth.
I give out orders to make changes in the Black Hurricane Castle.
“Your first mission as the new leader is mobilizing everyone available to break down the ramparts.”
Dokgo Saeng responds.
“Starting with the ramparts?”
Wow, how should I explain this?
It’s just how I feel… am I supposed to tell him this?
Holding my temper, I ask the other chiefs.
“Do I have to explain why?”
The chiefs answer in unison.
I clap my forehead with my hand and explain.
“The walls are too confined. You may think the walls keep you safe, but it doesn’t work against Kangho masters. Even your leader, the strongest amongst you, couldn’t save his own life. And that’s one of the normal tactics. You guys are only fixated on yourselves, binding each other with strange rules.”
“Is that a problem?”
I nod my head.
“You don’t communicate with people beyond the walls. It’s too closed off. Shouldn’t you try understanding my words for things to change? Ugh, this is exhausting.”
I take a break while trying to regain my breath.
I am distracted by the foul smell in my mouth and the unpleasant body odour from the chiefs.
After another slap to my cheek, I continue.
“Start by breaking down the ramparts. Go outside more often, too. The world is wider than the Black Hurricane Castle. If the wall disappears, we’ll have to get rid of the word castle (堡).”
The word fort also means a miniature castle.
The name likely comes from within the ramparts where the clan was founded. The word heukseon means a black fan, but it also refers to the shape of the rampart.
“If I see any of you conducting slave trades, going around collecting gambling debts during my next visit, or doing anything that annoys me, I’ll start by killing Dokgo Saeng and all the chiefs I remember. You’ll go to the afterlife and greet your former leader. ‘Have you been well?’ You’ll probably say that kind of bullshit.”
One of the chiefs asks.
“Please specify the details, sir.”
“I don’t know, you punk. Ask yourselves. Isn’t that your job to think more specifically? What is this punk’s name?”
The other chiefs inform me of his name, clan, and rank.
I point at him.
“Ask him for the details and proceed.”
Ordinary people are mixed in the bunch, so running my mouth for a bit is necessary.
“Get rid of the name ‘Black Hurricane Castle’ and report to me once you decide on a new name. And don’t use the word black (黑), assholes. You black-hearted, yellow swine.”
A slightly naive-looking fellow who is seated near the middle replies.
“Then can we use white (白)?”
I answer without breaking eye contact.
“You. Don’t ask me questions until the meeting is over.”
God damn it, he broke my flow out of nowhere.
I would let it slide, but my patience is stretched thin, causing me to lash out at him.
“Fuck, do you come from the Orthodox Faction?”
“No, that’s not it.”
“There are protocols when it comes to naming clans.”
I speak to officials as I cool my head.
“If you have any questions, ask away.”
“We only know your name, but we have no idea who you are.”
I scratch my forehead for a moment. Let’s introduce myself to an Unorthodox Faction. Starting now.
“As for me.”
“I am Lee Zaha, an errand boy from Ilyang. I’m currently the leader of the Low-Down Sect. A regular at the Chunyang Restaurant. Let’s skip the Black Rabbit Union. What else is there? I’m also not a fake brother.”
As I continue worrying about useless things, one of the chiefs intervenes.
“Is that so? By the way, how many laws do you all have?”
“A lot. We have over a hundred.”
I order Dokgo Saeng.
“Reduce the rules to three.”
“A hundred to three?”
I glare at Dokgo Saeng and say.
“Start with three. If you need to add more, discuss the pros and cons and add accordingly. Do it after you’re done tearing the walls down.”
The other chiefs reply.
This meeting is more difficult than a fight.
They and I live in different worlds.
There is a reason why past Murim Alliance Leaders often appear with white hair.
Your hair will turn white if you gather these bastards and try to gather their opinions.
If it’s this tough to have a meeting with these morons, how much harder would it be for the Murim Alliance Leader?
A meeting with an intelligent bunch of people would be even more draining.
Folks from prestigious sects engaging in a war of nerves will say, ‘Leader, that’s a little….’
Elders from murim clans will then go, ‘Please reconsider.’
The smartest soldier of the central district will also say, ‘But I’m a little concerned about this.’
Whenever I hear this crap, I feel the urge to pull out a sword.
But I’m the leader. Let’s hold it in, I need to hold back, and that’s how their hair turns white.
I murmur my train of thought out loud.
“These are all the reasons why Kangho warriors should use knives.”
That idiotic chief opens his mouth once again.
I let out a sigh.
“…I have to put up with this.”
Suppressing my desire to flee, I tell the chiefs.
“Remember. I know it’s hard for all of us to gather around here, so we can have a meal together today before I leave. Cook up a meal. Let’s eat together.”
“But the former leader never eats with us.”
I snap my finger.
“Good. Then, from now on, all chiefs have to gather up and eat three meals together. Get rid of the tolls and release the hostages. Burn all the documents related to the bounty, and don’t pocket all the valuables from the leader’s storage. Spend it on people who are having a tough time. And seriously, design proper houses. Hire outsiders and pay them rightfully to build buildings. Even wandering beggars have more hygiene than you.”
Speaking of which, this is a rather difficult task.
I naturally shift the responsibility to Dokgo Saeng.
Unexpectedly, Dokgo Saeng nods and replies.
“I’ll do that. I know what you mean.”
I ask him with a slightly perplexed look.
Dokgo Saeng answers back calmly.
“That’s right, but there’s nothing you can’t do.”
“Did this fellow suddenly gain enlightenment? You understand human language. Why don’t you summarize what I said.”
Other chiefs then stare at Dokgo Saeng in unison.
Dokgo Saeng sums up my words in his pissed voice.
“Tear down the wall.”
“Go outside more often.”
“Live with the people of the world.”
I watch Dokgo Saeng wordlessly like the other chiefs. Dokgo Saeng carries on.
“Stop kidnapping people and selling them as slaves. Don’t gamble. Don’t extort the toll from other sailors. Live with good hygiene. Tear down the old houses and build new ones. Use the necessary expenses from the former leader’s wealth. Don’t pocket the money.”
At that moment, I can’t see why the atmosphere among the chiefs is becoming so serious. Regardless, Dokgo Saeng continues.
“Give up the name Black Hurricane Castle and come up with a new one. Chiefs have meals together. Reduce the rules. Discuss and add one at a time.”
Why is the atmosphere so solemn?
“All of this starts after the walls are broken down.”
I look around and say.
“Great job. What’s with the sudden atmosphere?”
A tactless chief tells me.
“Chief Dokgo used to say this often. Though it’s not the same, he’d come close. Am I right? You’ve heard of this before, correct?”
“I’ve heard of it from time to time.”
I close my mouth and stare at Dokgo Saeng. And Dokgo Saeng is still staring at me. This guy is always angry and irritated.
And countless tales and stories are in that gaze of his.
When I make eye contact with Dokgo Saeng, we converse more in silence than when I spoke in a chatty way.
I am suddenly reminded of a conversation I had with Dokgo Saeng.
How is the Black Hurricane Castle these days?
It doesn’t matter. It’s full of idiots.
Lee Zaha, I think you should be the next leader.
What am I supposed to do now that you’ve killed the leader?
During this vague and awkward silence, the idiotic chief breaks the silence.
“Excuse me, should I prepare the meal right now?”
All of the chiefs wait for my answer.
I sigh briefly and then reply.
“Forget about the meal. Bring me some booze.”
I really need a drink today.
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