The bewildered Moyong Baek scans me, who has made a sudden visit, up and down.
He caught me rubbing the blood off my shoes in the dirt.
“Doctor, is my visit too late into the day?”
Moyong Baek shakes his head.
“Not at all. Please come in.”
“Aren’t you on your way out?”
“It’s alright. I thought I’d get some dumplings, but I’ll eat them next time. Did something happen?”
“Let’s go in.”
As soon as Moyong Baek takes his seat, he extends his hands.
“Let me check your pulse.”
I hold out my wrists meekly.
Moyong Baek observes my eyes, complexion, and the blood stains on my clothes as he weighs my pulse.
“Do you have any injuries?”
“It doesn’t seem like you have any problems, but you do look tired. You must have exerted yourself. Did you get into a fight?”
“I get into a lot of fights. It’s a daily routine.”
I nod my head.
“Let’s have a cup of warm tea.”
“Let’s do that.”
Moyong Baek requests his nurses to bring us some tea before asking me.
“Who did you fight today?”
“Have you heard the news about Dae Na-chal’s death?”
“How could I not know?”
“Now that Dae Na-chal is dead, the Unorthodox Factions around him are coalescing. So, I paid the Cloud Rain Society a visit.”
Moyong Baek nods.
“You had a round in the Cloud Rain Society then. Leader, let’s talk honestly today.”
“Let’s do that.”
Moyong Baek grins and says to me,
“It looks like your Internal Demons (心魔) are by the door. I mean this in regards to your condition, Leader.”
“I thought so. That’s why I came to see you. I’ll likely end up being your patient from time to time.”
I had killed the vice leader of the Cloud Rain Society, freed the dancers, and killed the men who pounced on me during the whole process.
I thought I might become a Crazy Demon going berserk if I continued and fought with Mister Su after his return from his trip. That is why I refrained from doing so and came here to see Doctor Hoyong.
I want to be a cool-headed Crazy Demon that tries to fix my weaknesses, not a bloodthirsty Crazy Demon.
A better Crazy Demon than my previous life; that’s my goal. In addition, it is also the way in Kangho to visit a doctor when one is sick.
Moyong Baek then says.
“What happened in the Cloud Rain Society?”
“Nothing much. I just went around killing people with an ax.”
“How did you…”
“I split their heads open.”
“Murder is the same whether it uses a sword, ax, or fists. Did you kill anyone you shouldn’t have killed by accident?”
“Then where did the uneasiness in your eyes come from?”
“I’m not sure.”
Moyong Baek smiles faintly as he looks at me. Just in time, the nurse brings us tea and places it on the table.
Pouring the teapot with his hands, Moyong Baek says.
“Leader, do you know much about poison?”
I shake my head.
“Not as well-versed as you, Doctor.”
The Poison Demon of my past life is asking me about poison. I can’t help but let out a smile.
Without becoming the Poison Demon, Moyong Baek expresses his thoughts about poison.
“Poison is technically medicine.”
“Why is that? Poison kills people. Medicine saves people.”
Moyong Baek points at the cup of tea.
“Please, have a drink.”
I take a sip of the clear tea with Moyong Baek.
Moyong Baek continues.
“Most of the world’s most powerful poisons come from insects, plants, and animals. Kangho warriors would then extract poison from them.”
“Or should I say it’s a condition that triggers this kind of poison? It’s like a defense mechanism. Poisonous insects tend to use poison when their lives are threatened. Most of the time, it’s for survival. But that’s not a Kangho warrior’s goal. They use poison so they won’t die. Hence they’re more like medicine. Some die after eating something. Some get better after eating them. So aside from the classification, they are essentially the same.”
“Is that so? I agree with some of what you said, while some other parts sounded vague.”
Moyong Baek nods.
“It’s alright, that’s just my opinion. This is the same with Internal Demons. If you try to use the poison of your mind, consequences follow. Insects often die on their own after spitting out poison. Or, in the process of being eaten, it releases poison and dies with its predators.”
“It’s similar to the No-Win Strategy.”
“So I’m hurting myself because I have poison in my mind?”
“Don’t you think so? Killing bad people weighs on your mind. And that’s only natural for humans.”
I tilt my head. This is a little different from the usual explanation of my Internal Demons. However, Moyong Baek is being very serious, so I can’t refute him.
“Then what should I do?”
Moyong Baek then laughs; a rare sight.
“You just have to do it in moderation.”
Looking at Moyong Baek’s expression, I also laugh. The man who was more bloodthirsty than I during my Crazy Demon days is telling me to control myself, so I can’t help but laugh.
I nod my head.
“My doctor tells me to do it in moderation, so I will do just that.”
Moyong Baek pours another cup and says.
“Do it moderately. Try to share the burden with your companions. The stronger you get, the more forgiving you get. If you always use the poison in your mind, it will harm you.”
That, I agree with.
Because that’s what I did in my previous life.
Moyong Baek saved me with poison in my past life, but now he’s consoling me.
Surprisingly, Moyong Baek then says.
“Killing the Demon Cult is essential, which is why the Murim Alliance established strict rules to prevent their members from going rogue. Executions are rare, and it’s usually done after sending them back to the alliance. Rather than a law protecting the offender, it’s more to protect their members.”
“That’s the first time I’ve heard of it.”
At this point, I ask him a question. I think that this question might touch on the root cause of my Internal Demons.
“There’s someone I hate the most in the world.”
“He’s a great master. His men are skilled. Let’s say I’m strong enough to beat that master. If many people under him start to resent and hate me, is killing them all the right decision?”
“You don’t have to.”
“I’m a little concerned about that.”
“Only cults will behave that way. Is the Heavenly Demon Cult your enemy, Leader?”
Instead of answering, I smile.
Moyong Baek then says with a nervous look.
“You have the Three Disasters (三災) as your enemy. I must have taken you too lightly.”
“I’ve always been quite the dreamer.”
“The stakes are quite high.”
I comfort him as I judge that he might be a bit intimidated as he is just a regular doctor.
“Don’t worry. I won’t lead you to harm’s way.”
Was Moyong Baek’s pride hurt by that? Suddenly, he says this to me.
“Word has it all the masters of the Three Disasters are immune to ten thousand poisons.”
“Well, I don’t intend to poison any masters in this world, so it’s none of my business.”
Moyong Baek shakes his head.
“It does matter.”
“I have done enough research, and I’ll make you immune to hundreds or thousands of poison. If you build immunity toward poison, it’d be far easier to go up against the Demon Cult.”
“What about immunity to ten thousand poisons?”
Moyong Baek is a realistic man.
“That would be a little difficult.”
Moyong Baek and I laugh at the same time.
“I’ve got to go. I don’t think the Unorthodox Factions joining hands with Mister Su are going to let it slide…”
“Let’s get going.”
As I am being sent off by Moyong Baek, the doctor asks me a question out of the blue.
“Have I ever treated an acquaintance of yours?”
What purpose does he have for asking this question?
I choose my words wisely at the sudden question.
“I don’t know why you are asking that question.”
Moyong Baek replies with an awkward look.
“I’m just asking because you’ve shown me great generosity.”
I nod my head.
“Hm, that’s possible.”
As we bid farewell in front of Moyong Clinic, I answer his question.
“There are times when people die as they lived, without any reason. Maybe you saved my life once in our past lives.”
As I smile, Moyong Baek shakes his head.
“That won’t be possible.”
Moyong Baek then says with a grin.
“I would’ve been a Kangho warrior in my previous life. Maybe I’d killed so many people that I was given the task of caring and treating so many patients in this life… is what I often think about.”
Chills run down my spine as I look at Moyong Baek. I then reply calmly.
“Perhaps. Let’s stay healthy.”
Moyong Baek bows his head. I can’t respond with Kangho etiquette, so I just lower my head.
The anxiety I am feeling is not clearly resolved yet. It may be a burden to think of so many Kangho masters as my enemy.
However, after talking to Moyong Baek, I feel relieved.
Anyhow, this person is someone I can confide in, and as a clever man, he could roughly tell what most of my worries were.
Only then did flowers and trees appear in my eyes again.
It feels easier to breathe.
Feeling the Internal Demons at my doorsteps receding, I head back to the Black Rabbit Union.
As soon as I reach the Black Rabbit Union quarters, an uproar occurs due to the people who arrived before me. While I head to the main hall, I imagine a few scenarios.
The people I had summoned were the Twelve Generals, Dokgo Saeng, and Cha Sung-tae.
Unfortunately, no one can surpass Cha Sung-tae. I can clearly picture the vivid image of Cha Sung-tae quietly reading the room.
I swing open the gate to the main hall and observe the atmosphere inside before stopping.
Dokgo Saeng has yet to arrive.
However, all of the Twelve Generals and Black Rabbit Union officials, including So Gun-pyeong, are present. The Twelve Generals and Black Rabbit Union officials are seated on the chairs to the side, while Cha Sung-tae sits in the podium’s center seat.
Cha Sung-tae gets up and bows to me in a fist and palm salute.
“Welcome back, Sect Leader.”
Only then did the other guys follow suit.
“Welcome, Clan Leader.”
“Welcome back, Big Brother.”
When I walk up to the top seat, Cha Sung-tae steps away from the seat and waits for me.
After I take a seat at the high chair, I look at Cha Sung-tae and then proceed to read the atmosphere with the Twelve Generals and the other officials.
“Everyone, have a seat.”
“Some of you here are seeing each other for the first time. Have you done the round of introductions?”
Cha Sung-tae, standing next to me, replies.
“Yes, we have.”
I’m a curious person. Feeling somewhat petty, I ask Cha Sung-tae to solve my curiosity.
“Why were you sitting in the high seat?”
Cha Sung-tae replies with a calm look.
“I’m the Manager of the Low-Down Sect, after all.”
“Well, that’s true.”
Hong-shin, who has a blunt personality, intervenes as if she intends to snitch.
“He claimed to be the second-in-command of the Low-Down Sect. Is that true, Big Brother?”
I whip my head and exchange glances with Cha Sung-tae.
Cha Sung-tae sends me hints with his eyes.
‘Tell her I’m right. Please.’
“Seems like I’ve raised a sly fox.’
The culprit is an Ass in Lion’s Skin (狐假虎威, a fox pretending to be a tiger) and is standing in front of me. Feeling glad I didn’t raise a tiger cub, I shake my head.
“Nope. Cha Sung-tae is just a manager of the Low-Down Sect. There’s no such thing as a second-in-command. But managers are important, so treat him as one. As you can see, a punch or two will kill him.”
Only then did the Twelve Generals brighten up.
While Cha Sung-tae is backing up to the corner, I say.
I keep belittling Cha Sung-tae.
“If you’re gonna be sarcastic, at least get stronger. Incompetent bastard, sloppy, the one who lost consecutive rounds to Sima Bi, the Ass in Lion’s Skin.”
Cha Sung-tae, who takes a seat at the very end, replies.
“No, everyone here has met a powerful master, consumed panaceas, or learned good martial arts to grow stronger. I didn’t have a powerful master, neither have I seen a panacea, and I swung a knife to survive. So, I think I may at least stand a chance in physical martial arts.”
So Gun-pyeong, who is listening quietly, stares at Cha Sung-tae.
“With that being said, should we go for a round?”
Cha Sung-tae answers as he stares at So Gun-pyeong.
“Let’s do it next time.”
It’s a passing remark, but Hong-shin suddenly bursts into laughter. Geum-hae laughs when Hong-shin laughs, and then the Four Generals smile and eventually burst out as well.
Everyone is laughing except for Cha Sung-tae.
I have no choice but to say this with a laugh.
“Make sure to do it next time.”
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