Chapter 52 - Freed Woman, Reformed Man

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The busy footsteps of the nurses gradually die down, while the sound of Moyong Baek grinding herbs continues.

I sit in a lotus position on the bed.

I can hear the sound of Hong-shin’s snoring and Geum-hae’s occasional sighs.

Although there is some background noise, I enjoy the peace and quiet in the Moyong Infirmary.

‘This is nice.’

After returning to the past, I realized that the Poison Demon Moyong Baek sometimes laughed like that in his younger days.

Some people laugh even if they’d gone insane, like me.

There are also people who don’t laugh at all after going insane.

As if the feeling of happiness itself has been extracted from their brain.

Therefore, in my eyes, the young practitioner Moyong Baek looked much happier than when he was the Poison Demon.

With a faint smile on my lips, I start the cultivation. The energy of seven White Flame Herbs has already been absorbed into the Heavenly Pearl.

As usual, I convert the energy of the Heavenly Pearl into internal Qi.

There is no need to rush.

Having gone through Qi Deviation multiple times, I know my body.

In some cases, you can fall into a Qi Deviation state due to anxiousness and impatience, so I am thorough and calm when cultivating martial arts, like a turtle taking a leisure stroll outside.

For that reason, I don’t stay up circulating Qi all night.

After concentrating for two hours, I lie on the bed and look up at the ceiling.

Since I am lying down, I focus on the noise around me, like a person unfurling a protection technique, and fall into a trance.

Between the boundaries of memory and dream, I am looking at a flight of stairs.

---

A skinny man in a yellow chogyu (法衣, attire monks wear) is climbing up the stairs slowly with a corpse in each hand.

At the top of the stairs, a bulky man with large beads around his neck looks down alongside other monks with a blunt expression.

The faces of the people above the stairs are melancholic and sad, but the bulky man does not show any emotions on his face.

Checking the body’s condition, the bulky man says a brief farewell to the other monks and slowly descends the stairs alone.

As the man descends the stairs, his expression changes with each passing moment.

His calm expression disappears. He is abandoning all the empty formalities and breaking the Buddhist precepts. His expression changes like the Buddha statue of Acalanātha (不動明王).

The monks on the stairs are shouting for him to come back.

The bulky man, who declares his departure from the precepts, takes one final step down the stairs with an unfaltering look.

Originally, dreams don’t always make sense.

The bulky man who comes down the stairs strolls in the dark. Even in my dream, I sigh as soon as I see the man’s unusual outfit.

‘Why is he looking at me again?’

The bulky man who is wearing thick beads around his neck is a Warrior Monk (武僧) of Vajrayana Buddhism (雜部密敎), which is a branch of a type of Tibetan Buddhism.

A man of such rank is commonly known as the Grandmaster of Vajrayana (雜密).

The man walks out of the darkness while waving his hand. He looks at me and smiles with a bizarre expression.

“It’s been a long time, my student.”

I open my eyes automatically and wake up from my sleep.

‘Ugh, damn it…’

To sum up, it was a nightmare.

The White Flame Herbs seem to have an associative effect and appear in my dreams.

I had consumed the White Flame Herb while being dragged around by this crazy apostate monk. No words could describe the hardships I had suffered at the time.

In terms of past lives, he was the former Crazy Demon.

He was also my master, who was the Grandmaster of Vajrayana.

However, due to my master’s former title, attire and demeanor, he was named the Crazy Monk (狂僧) by our enemies.

There are several men that Kangho warriors actively avoid like the plague as much as possible, and the Crazy Monk is one of them.

Whenever I thought of the mentor I had shared a brief connection with, I felt nauseated.

Wishing to get a taste of the White Flame Herb. I was dragged from the central district to Tibet. Curious as to what fish lived on the coast of Zhejiang, we traveled from Tibet across Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, and Anhui, to reach Zhejiang. All the Unorthodox or demonic factions we encountered along the way were killed by Crazy Monk.

I never called him master while I was being dragged around.

He called me his student the whole time.

Later, when I looked back on my life after becoming Crazy Demon, he was definitely my master.

With that memory, I make a careful promise to myself.

I will not become his disciple this time.

Many times, I almost died from getting led around by the nose.

He was the previous generation’s Crazy Demon. Of course, he’s a maniac.

If he hadn’t returned to Tibet after gaining enlightenment one day, half of the masters in the central district would’ve died at his hands.

---

Moyong Baek, who wakes up early in the morning without making a sound, discovers that I am already awake.

“Leader, are you up already?”

When I nod, Moyong Baek says.

“I’ll bring in the tonic in a bit.”

As soon as I see Moyong Baek’s face, I can immediately tell he had stayed up all night. Moyong Baek quickly brings in a bowl of tonic.

A black potion given by the Poison Demon….

Even though I’m aware that this guy is not the Poison Demon, it still makes my knees buckle.

Moyong Baek thrusts the bowl of the unappetizing concoction that looks like poison with innocent eyes.

“Leader, please drink this.”

What is this made of, Doctor?

Suppressing the strong desire to ask, I down the bowl in one go. As it is going down my esophagus smoothly, it seems that it’s not poisonous.

“How do you feel?”

“Well, nothing else other than my chest feeling a little refreshed.”

“It feels like instant relief, right? May I check your pulse?”

When I stretch out my wrist, Moyong Baek confirms my pulse and tilts his head slightly.

“Did you face any difficulty in accumulating your Qi?”

“Not really.”

For a moment, Moyong Baek hurriedly removes his hand with a surprised look.

“I can feel a power absorbing….”

“The doctor’s internal Qi?”

“Yes.”

Moyong Baek describes what he feels while rubbing his finger that felt for my pulse.

“It feels like it’s being burned and absorbed.”

“I presume.”

“Is this what happened to General Geum-hae?”

I smile and look at Moyong Baek. The man in front of me has figured out everything.

“Did you mean General Geum-hae’s Qi went into your dantian when you said he lost his internal Qi?”

“That’s correct.”

“Did you use a traditional method, perhaps obtain an ancient martial arts technique? Or did you obtain it through the form of an opportunity?”

“I would say it’s an opportunity.”

“Then I suggest it would be ideal to refrain from absorbing others’ internal Qi until you can fathom what’s going on.”

“Actually, I’d planned to do that.”

“Where do you usually live?”

“Somewhere in the Black Rabbit Union or Ilyang…”

“Be sure to stop by even if you’re busy.”

I frankly reveal my whereabouts.

“I will return with a lighter heart once I get rid of Dae Na-chal.”

Getting rid of Dae Na-chal means reigning in almost all of the Unorthodox Factions in the southern region, including Ilyang. Accomplishing this means no sudden misfortune will happen to Moyong Baek in the future.

After treating Hong-shin and Geum-hae until the following day, I look at Moyong Baek again as I bid him farewell by the carriage.

“Have a good rest, Doctor Moyong. Thank you for the past two days.”

Moyong Baek replies with a smile.

“All the best, Leader. Feel free to come back whenever you feel unwell.”

I also give him a word of caution.

“Be careful of Kangho warriors, Doctor. Contact me if anything happens. I will drop by personally.”

“What could possibly happen to a practitioner? Thank you for your concern.”

As soon as the carriage kicks off, I sigh a little.

‘I’m at war to ensure nothing will happen, you punk…’

---

Geum-hae’s complexion looks better than yesterday.

However, next to him is Hong-shin, who has finally overcome her diarrhea, and I am sitting across from them.

Geum-hae, still extremely wary of getting slapped, speaks to me cautiously.

“Green Brother. Can I please return home?”

I nod my head.

“Home’s nice.”

“Thank you.”

“No can do.”

“…”

This time, Hong-shin clasps her hands together and says with googly eyes.

“You’ll give me the antidote, right, Brother?”

“I already did.”

“You did? When?”

“Violet Mist Poison is a laxative. And Doctor Moyong has already treated you.”

I look at Hong-shin’s dumbfounded expression and say.

“Sister, manage your facial expression, won’t you?”

Hong-shin smiles brightly. Though she is putting on a big smile, fire seems to be burning in her eyes.

“Red Sister, Gold Brother.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you find it funny that an utter stranger like me suddenly calls you Sister and Brother?”

“No, it’s not.”

“It’s not funny at all.”

“What about your real master? Nothing is more precious than the fate of a person who is alive. If you two are going to stand by Dae Na-chal and go against me, I will stop the carriage right now. Your poison has been cured, and your internal injuries have been treated to an extent. It won’t be much of a problem, so let’s get off and go our separate ways.”

“Hm.”

“I’m not getting off, though?”

“I’m not fond of both of you yet. I can easily beat you to death in front of Dae Na-chal as if we’ve never met. Live your lives as you please. Just like me.”

Hong-shin and Geum-hae stare at me.

I add.

“You’re neither my slaves nor Dae Na-chal’s, so you’re free to go.”

Geum-hae says.

“Brother, I could have my family destroyed if I go against Dae Na-chal. Can you at least tell me how skilled you are and how great your manpower is? It’s not just my life that’s on the line.”

I suddenly remembered Moyong Baek’s words.

After Dae Na-chal’s death, the disciple who abandoned his identity as part of the Twelve Generals and lived a normal life, that guy might have been Geum-hae.

This guy is a young master from a well-off family, so it’s possible.

If that’s the case, this guy was treated by someone who killed him in his past life.

The corners of my mouth tilt.

‘Seriously, life is…’

“Indeed, you’re not a merchant for nothing. You’re going to compare our powers and enumerate thoroughly?”

Geum-hae lowers his head slightly.

“I’m sorry, if only it was just me involved…”

Nothing is more futile than trying to calculate a comparison of powers in Kangho. A fight cannot be predicted with such estimations.

I explain it to them in my own words.

“Think of it this way. Let’s say I lose since Dae Na-chal has many disciples. It’s a given that I will get overpowered. Assuming that my manpower is not enough due to both Hong-shin and Geum-hae’s absence. I am defeated because both of you have joined Dae Na-chal once again. Do you think you will be satisfied when that happens?”

The two are unable to answer me for a moment.

“He’ll still ask you to steal, to bring him money. I saw earlier that Moyong Infirmary’s nurses are very pretty. If they catch Dae Na-chal’s eye, even Moyong Baek would have to offer him the nurses. That’s what he is. You’d have no choice but to plug away as his slave until he dies.”

I shake my head.

“What’s important isn’t comparing forces. Even if I’m weak, will you continue to live as slaves? Or will you not? That’s important.”

After a while, the carriage stops, and the coachman informs us.

“We’ve arrived at the Black Rabbit Union.”

I say this to Geum-hae, who has followed me all the way here.

“Geum-hae, you were born into a rich family and grew up with everything you need. You may be proud of your clan but look at you now. Do you think the money is yours? Your whole family is nothing but his money dispenser. If you’re truly rich, wouldn’t it be far more critical to figure out what to invest your money in than grub for money? I wonder.”

Geum-hae avoids giving a fast retort to my words and replies.

“I’m sorry, Brother, but can I have another meal?”

I ask Hong-shin.

“How about you, Sister?”

Hong-shin asks back with a puzzled look.

“What, me? A meal? I’m hungry, actually.”

Geum-hae elbows Hong-shin in the ribs.

“He’s asking me if you’re going to side with Dae Na-chal.”

Unlike Geum-hae, Hong-shin gives a clear-cut answer.

“I will side with Brother no matter what.”

Geum-hae asks the question for me.

“Why?”

Hong-shin answers.

“He carried me to the bathroom and even took me to the doctor. We also had pork ribs together. Though I was troubled about the poison, it turned out to be laxatives. And if it was Dae Na-chal who gave me poison? I would’ve died from a real poison. He would never take me to the bathroom either, which means I could’ve ended up shitting my pants in the woods.

Once again, I have captured a maiden’s heart with a laxative.

“Let’s go grab a meal.”

We get off the wagon with the coachman and enter the Black Rabbit Union together. I see all my subordinates training when I throw the gates wide open.

When I appear without a mask, So Gun-pyeong bows with a fist and palm salute and says.

“Greetings, Leader.”

Subsequently, the subordinates also greet me while maintaining a painful training posture.

“Greetings, Leader!”

With Hong-shin to my left and Geum-hae on my right, I nod my head and walk through the crowd.

Meanwhile, Geum-hae glances around him with a face that shows he couldn’t understand why the subordinates here called me leader and halts his steps.

“Green Brother is Brother Rabbit? B-Brother Rabbit was the servant. Or was it Green Brother? Were you the servant, Leader?”

I turn around and look at Geum-hae.

“Oh man, look at him. He’s tripping into Qi Deviation again. Red Sister.”

“Got it.”

Understanding right away, Hong-shin slaps the dubious Geum-hae on the cheek.

“Get your shit together!”

Geum-hae returns from the gates of hell, holding his cheeks with his hands. How many slaps did he suffer from in the past two days?

I say to him while clicking my tongue.

“My, my. What should I do with this rich young master?”

I speak to those freed from diarrhea and those who received a revival through slaps.

“Let’s go eat.”

Surviving in Kang-ho is no easy feat.

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