I stare at Moonlight Dagger as it sits on the table.
“When I was young, there was a fun hyung who lived in my hometown. Like, you know, a cheerful, funny hyung who’s also nice to you. He was also manly.”
“This is how a duel took place in our neighbourhood. Put a dagger on the table and talk it out, and if it doesn’t work out, they can grab the dagger and stab the other party. It’s a duel, but people don’t die every time. Usually, just one or two fingers were severed. It looked quite cruel to me when I was a child. People in my hometown never backed down from a fight.”
I look at Yoo Sa-cheong.
“One day, that hyung died on the table. It wasn’t surprising. My grandfather took care of the body, and I brought a cloth over and wiped the table. But the cloth kept getting stuck on the table. When I looked closer, there were dozens of knife marks on the table. At least that hyung didn’t die from fighting poorly, I thought. I cleaned the table more than once a day, and I thought about how I should feel about this every time I did.”
“I can’t wipe the table properly because of the knife marks.”
“I can’t recall his name. He was an orphan, so it’s not like I can ask around. Anyway, it happened way back, but the guy who killed my hyung died the same way to my hands.”
I unsheathe Moonlight Dagger.
“In the end, he came back here and got killed by me.”
Yoo Sa-cheong, whose entire body is bound, starts to twitch. He’s a grown man, yet tears are running down his face.
Yoo Sa-cheong finally opens his mouth.
“P-Please spare me!”
“Oh, the pressure points finally released?”
“Save me. I’ll tell you everything I know. I will cooperate unconditionally.”
“I don’t know what you’re going to tell me, but I’m not interested.”
I reach out with Moonlight Dagger and cut off his restraints. The thick rope is easily cut off as the knife cuts through them like dumplings.
I grab Yoo Sa-cheong’s arm and put it on the table.
“You’re still not able to move. If you don’t get your act together, you’ll go into the state of Qi Deviation. Breathe in deeply.”
Grabbing his hand tightly, I say.
“Also, why would I kill you?”
I use the Great Absorption Method on him.
Yoo Sa-cheong’s pure Qi enters my body through my palm. I briefly pause the Great Absorption Method, then send out a string of righteous energy to scout into Yoo Sa-cheong’s body. Then, I resume using the Great Absorption Method. Moments later, the string of righteous energy returns to my body.
Tears, snot, and saliva run down Yoo Sa-cheong’s face.
Watching Yoo Sa-Cheong, I halt the Great Absorption Method and huff out a breath.
Now I’m the one in dire need of doing some Qi circulation.
I can feel the extreme Yang energy seethe through my Dantian and rise to the top of my head, which causes my face to flush and my sight becomes red.
I flip over Yoo Sa-cheong’s hands and plunge Moonlight Dagger through one of them.
With a stabbing sound, Moonlight Dagger penetrates through his palm and lodges itself into the table below. As Yoo Sa-cheong lets out a long shriek of pain, I say to him.
“Shut up. If you wake Dokgo Saeng up, he’ll come here and chop your head into pieces. Wouldn’t it be better to endure the pain than die?”
I glare sideways at Yoo Sa-cheong before sitting in a lotus position on the chair and begin to use the Qi breathing technique.
“Bring it on if you’re confident. That’s how the people in our neighbourhood fight.”
I abandon all thoughts of Yoo Sa-cheong and begin to suck out power from the Heavenly Pearl to use for Qi circulation. Although it’s only been a few moments, I’ve burned through a considerable amount of righteous energy and am slowly accumulating internal Qi. Nevertheless, the fact that my Strolling Golden Turtle Technique is currently stopped at the Fire Chicken stage leaves a weird taste in my mouth. While it is a martial art that becomes more difficult to achieve a breakthrough after the middle stages…
At this moment, if I exert myself, I can break through the Fire Chicken limit.
But I refuse to rush it since that goes against the overall principle of the Strolling Golden Turtle Technique.
When I wake up after calmly finishing a full Qi circulation, Yoo Sa-cheong has already stopped his hand’s bleeding in his own way.
Yoo Sa-cheong says to me with a pale face.
“……I stopped the blood for now.”
It seems Yoo Sa-cheong has finally come to his senses. Asking me to spare him and saying that he would tell me everything did not work for me.
I look at Yoo Sa-cheong and answer briefly.
As I pull out Moonlight Dagger, Yoo Sa-cheong quickly tears the hem of his shirt and uses his functional hand and mouth to hurriedly wrap up his wound.
I pour alcohol into an empty glass and serve it to Yoo Sa-cheong.
Yoo Sa-cheong can finally drink a glass of alcohol with his normal hand. He frowns with a profound expression as if he’s finally gotten a sip of water after a long walk in the desert. After downing a cup, Yoo Sa-cheong tells me with bloodshot eyes.
I then begin speaking to him as I take another drink.
“The reason why Green Mount Sect Leader and Lady Iron Toad came and bowed their heads was because they lived in the same area as us. They know I can exterminate the Green Mount Sect or set the Yuhwa Valley on fire, so they let go of their pride and came to apologize. They didn’t apologize to me because they were less proud. They just felt more responsible because they have disciples to protect and a family to feed.”
Pointing my finger at Yoo Sa-cheong, I continue.
“But I don’t really care about you. You’re a gambling house owner.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“The only way to live.”
“Please go on.”
“I have already killed Elder Hornless Dragon and Mister Su. I don’t see the point of letting you live unless you make yourself useful. Those two attacked me first, but they were bound to get in my way anyway. That’s also why I killed Dae Na-chal and the leader of the Black Hurricane Castle. Just like my hyung, who was killed by a knife, I’m an orphan and have nothing to protect. All the men gathered here? Dae Na-chal’s disciples, the Black Hurricane Castle’s scums, and a bunch of men whose leader I killed. You don’t even deserve to be my subordinate, and your chances of surviving in my hands are low. Say, how will you persuade me when your life depends solely on how you will deal with Elder Hornless Dragon and Mister Su?”
While thinking hard about how to answer, Yoo Sa-cheong bangs his head on the table as if passing out.
Why are there more and more people passing out while talking to me?
‘Should I consult Doctor Moyong on this…’
At that moment, Dokgo Saeng walks out from inside the hall and asks.
“Have you talked to him?”
“He fainted while we were chatting.”
Dokgo Saeng lays a finger on Yoo Sa-cheong’s neck.
Dokgo Saeng stares at me and says.
“Go get some sleep. Your eyes are red. It’s unusually purple.”
Only then did I rise from my seat.
“I’m off to sleep.”
When my subordinates come and tell me to eat, I wash my face and return to the main hall. Even though the servants are not around, the table is full of food my subordinates prepared.
I scratch my head and then sit down to eat.
Each and every one of them also sit in the same seats as yesterday and starts eating. So Gun-pyeong asks a question as he eats his food.
“Shall we start with Elder Hornless Dragon? Or Mister Su?”
I reply while chewing on the vegetables.
“Where is Yoo Sa-cheong?”
“Don’t know. Eat first.”
I’m a man who doesn’t know many things. While we are eating, the main hall door opens, and Dokgo Saeng and Yoo Sa-cheong come in together.
The eyes of the officials and generals are fixated on the pair.
Dokgo Saeng approaches first, pulls out a chair, and tells the stumbling Yoo Sa-cheong.
Yoo Sa-cheong greets everyone and sits down.
Everyone shakes their heads and continues to eat.
He came all freshened up after being beaten to a pulp. And Dokgo Saeng is now caressing Yoo Sa-cheong.
“Let’s eat. Eat a lot, too.”
How many times did he get beat to make him lose so much spirit? Luckily Yoo Sa-cheong did not die.
I snap at Dokgo Saeng while I eat.
“How can a person be so cruel?”
Dokgo Saeng answers.
“Don’t tell that lame joke to me. It’s not funny at all.”
Dokgo Saeng explains the state of Yoo Sa-cheong to others.
“Our leader stabbed his hand. I also heard that his internal Qi got sucked dry. He was so scared of our leader that it was hard to talk to him. I only gave him a few slaps in the face. Yoo Sa-cheong, am I wrong?”
Yoo Sa-cheong replies while eating.
“You are correct.”
Dokgo Saeng is uttering strange words to the audience.
“Leader has his hands full. I’ll take care of this guy from now on. So take note.”
Perhaps Dokgo Saeng has a nasty personality as no one answers him. Suddenly, Dokgo Saeng strokes Yoo Sa-cheong’s back.
For a moment, I got goosebumps on my back.
As Dokgo Saeng keeps talking down to me, Cha Sung-tae intervenes.
“You’ve worked hard, Dokgo Saeng.”
At that moment, the crowd’s gaze shifts between Cha Sung-tae and Dokgo Saeng.
Dokgo Saeng replies with an indifferent look.
“Manager Cha, you’re having a hard time just wasting your food, too.”
As everyone giggles at Dokgo Saeng’s words, Cha Sung-tae’s face flushes red. Everyone is eating without saying much, but Yoo Sa-cheong then says.
“If you allow it, I’ll bring my troops to the vanguard… I’ll come back quickly with Dokgo Saeng.”
I glare at Yoo Sa-cheong and reply.
“Shut up and eat your meal.”
As I finish up my meal, I tell So Gun-pyeong.
“Now that we’ve filled our stomachs let’s drink in the daylight.”
So Gun-pyeong grins and says.
I’m currently the leader of the poorest people in the world, with no plans, no direction. All I have is a grand strategy in my head and a belief in who would die at my hands.
During the drinking session, Baek-yu tells me.
“Big Brother, I will partake in a fan dance.”
Baek-yu dances a fan dance after drinking, Dokgo Saeng begins picking on Yoo Sa-cheong again, and Cha Sung-tae often stares at Dokgo Saeng with a dazed look while drinking.
Meanwhile, Hong-shin sings as Baek-yu dances.
Baek-in is drinking with his usual elegance.
Cheong-jin is also looking at these morons with distaste.
It is a real mess.
I feel increasingly intoxicated as I look at my subordinates and click my tongue.
“Jeez, pathetic bastards.”
What did Dokgo Saeng do to bully Yoo Sa-cheong? As he silently listens to the conversation, Yoo Sa-cheong is eventually drowning in his tears.
I am waiting for the enemy’s power to weaken on its own, so there’s nothing much to do now. Eventually, I sit in a lotus position on the chair and meditate in the middle of this chaotic mess.
Hong-shin’s singing voice fades.
Dokgo Saeng’s insults and Yoo Sa-cheong’s sobbing disappears.
Amid the sleepiness, drunkenness, and meditation…
Before I realize it, I am sitting in the old Zaha Inn.
“Zaha, give me one bowl of noodles.”
The neighbour hyung enters the guest inn dressed in white from head to toe and sits down. I bring a clean cloth and proceed to clean the table that hyung is sitting at. The table is cleaned well, perhaps because it is clean to begin with.
“Hyung, where are you going? You’re all dressed up.”
While hyung eats the noodles without saying anything, I sit across from him since it’s been a while since I saw him. Finishing the soup to its last drop, hyung asks me a question as he puts down the bowl.
“You don’t remember my name? I’m disappointed.”
“What was your name?”
Hyung reveals his name, but I gloss over it without even remembering.
“Ah, that’s right. Now I remember.”
“Thank you for the meal.”
As hyung is getting up after paying for his meal, I ask.
“Where are you going, all dressed up? Are you going on a date?”
Hyung shakes his head and smiles brightly.
“Woman, my foot, it’s time for a fresh start.”
“Are you going to stop fighting? You should get revenge against Cho Yi-gyul.”
“Revenge? I’m already dead. Anyway, thanks. I’m off.”
I lock eyes with hyung for some time and grin.
“A fresh start, good luck with that.”
Hyung grins in front of Zaha Guest Inn.
As soon as I open my eyes, I let out a long, trembling breath.
It was a strange dream, but it didn’t feel strange at all.
I’m just thinking that even the neighbour hyung is getting a fresh start.
The corner of my lips goes up as I look at my subordinates.
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