I look at the gamblers while drinking Kaoliang liquor.
This guy hasn’t even placed a bet yet and still has the nerve to ask me where I came from. These factors can predict victory or defeat, so it’s only natural to ask after making a bet.
Ignoring the question, I down the liquor, and the new customers ask the errand boy something and come straight to me.
“You need to come outside.”
“I’ll go after I finish this.”
“Drink and get up quickly.”
I lift up the bottle and pour the rest down my throat. The liquor splashes here and there as I pour it down. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the sparring gamble den and drank, so I feel refreshed.
I wipe the alcohol from my mouth with the back of my hand.
I follow the guy who urged me to come out and smack him in the back with a bottle.
Thud - the guy faints.
The people who bet on me applaud in unison and cheer.
After knocking down one quickly, I walk out of the inn. Many spectators have gathered since the brothel owner of Heuk Gyeong brought quite a number of back-ups.
I ask Heuk Gyeong, whose face is still a total mess.
“Are you coming in bare-handed?”
As Heuk Gyeong turns his head left and right, the dozens of people he brought put their weapons on the floor.
Heuk Gyeong then says.
He whips his body around and tells his lackeys.
“Make him half-dead.”
As I walk to the center with a grin, dozens of people rush in without even making a declaration of war.
I run forward and kick the first guy in the lead in the chest.
With a thud, the guy flies off in a straight line, crashes into the onlookers, and can no longer get up.
I resist the attacks without using any internal Qi.
I strike someone on the top of his head with a chop of my hand, grab and twist an arm in front of me, and stab an opponent’s eyeball on the right with my index and middle finger.
Without knowing who is who, I just attack everyone within my sight. I break a guy’s nose with a punch and whirl around to kick a fast-approaching guy in the face.
I grab a knife from the guy I kicked and then rush in.
This is how it eventually turns out after asking if I would fight barehanded.
I dodge the extended knife slightly and twist his arm in the opposite direction.
As he steps back and cradles his flabby broken arm, the other guys rush in and come together in a circular formation.
This is not a fight that these scoundrels can win by using tricks.
Because I’m not who I used to be.
After easily avoiding the fists and kicks that are inferior to what the Black Rabbit Union members could do, I break one hand from each of them to end the fight.
Nothing is staining my hands, but I shake them off once anyway.
“Is this the end?”
The errand boy looks at Heuk Gyeong’s group and nods.
“Yes, that’s it.”
The errand boy, Il-bo, brings out a table and a basket and starts splitting the dividends.
The errand boy is risking his life to distribute the money because joking about the dividends would ruin the inn.
The gamblers also line up in a very orderly fashion and receive their dividends. Most of them are appropriately distributed along with the 500 nyang that was invested and the funds of those who lost their bet, but everyone is enjoying it because it is enough to cover today’s drinks.
“I earned your allowance.”
“Let’s grab another drink.”
Listening to the gamblers, I look at my share in the basket.
Hitting the corners with my hand, I say.
“Give it to Heuk Gyeong.”
I take out two silver coins and hand them to Il-bo.
“Great work to you too.”
Il-bo’s face brightens up.
“Put the rest in.”
Il-bo takes a wrapping cloth from his waist and pours in the prize money. The cloth instantly becomes heavy. Gambling here is set in a way where the winner takes most of it. Most of them bet at least one silver coin, which is quite a good sum.
Il-bo asks me with a smile.
“You must be here to make some cash. Sometimes there are masters like that. Where are you from?”
“Pay me and ask. One silver coin.”
Smiling awkwardly, Il-bo replies.
“I was just asking. Thank you.”
Il-bo then continues to meddle.
“If you’re that good, you can participate in a battle (鬪戰).”
“Who holds the biggest prize money right now?”
“That would be Undefeatable Dong Bang-yeon (東方燃). But you must carry at least 10,000 nyangs to fight for him.”
Dong Bang-yeon is the opponent that I would never dare to dream of even touching in the past.
He also has the nickname of the King of Sparring Gambles. A portion of funds given by the Green Mount Sect Leader and the money I just earned from the inn’s sparring bet doesn’t even total close to 10,000 nyangs.
I’m here to clean up my past, but I’m not here to waste time like the other gamblers.
My schedule ends once I meet the King of Sparring Gambles after earning 10,000 nyangs.
Carrying the bag of money over my shoulder, I head for the next gambling den.
By the wall, there is a line of people who are engaged in weapon gambling (兵器賭博). Everyone is sharpening their weapons on a whetstone like a madman.
The world is full of crazy people.
This is where the victorious gamblers stand by and wait if they hit and break their weapon.
At the entrance, there are scoundrels, and the guy with the sharpest weapon stands at the center of the arched wall.
I look across the center at the white-haired gambler with a bag full of money. In my previous life, his eyebrows were white, but now they are not entirely white yet. As in the past, he is wearing an ivory (象牙) necklace on his chest, which is said to be difficult to obtain.
Koo Jong-ak (丘宗岳), the top dog of the weapon gamblers, then says as he looks at me.
“Are you taking up the challenge?”
I give Koo Jong-ak, who I haven’t seen in a long time, a simple answer.
“I’m a little expensive. How much did you bring? Show me.”
I put the wrapped cloth on the board. Koo Jong-ak then looks inside the cloth and lifts it with his hand.
Still, Koo Jong-ak doesn’t have an expression on his face.
“Do you want me to make an exact one-on-one deal?”
I take out my money pouch and put additional gold and silver in the cloth. Then Koo Jong-ak’s eyes shake slightly.
“Aren’t you overdoing it?”
When I bring in a large sum of money, rare to see here recently, the other weapon gamblers turn their attention to us.
I simply reply.
“If you’re scared, step aside. Let me sit in the best spot. Who knew the King of Weapon Gambles would be this scared.”
Koo Jong-ak raises his head and stares at me.
“I don’t know where you’re from. I don’t think you’re from the Orthodox Factions or family clans.”
Koo Jong-ak then says as he looks around.
“I’ll give you a gold coin if you know of him.”
Everyone answers in unison.
“I don’t know.”
I then speak to Koo Jong-ak.
“No one knows me here.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s my first time here.”
Koo Jong-ak crosses his arms and stares at me.
“Do you know how this works?”
“Please explain to me.”
“One attack, one defends. Whoever breaks it first is the winner. If it’s a tie, we go for another round. We can raise more money in the middle. If you hurt your opponent, the gathered gamblers here will stab you. Agree?”
Koo Jong-ak points to the place to store our weapons.
“Put your weapon down first.”
“I can’t do that. Let’s compete with each other. It’s true that I’ve never been here, but are you sure I didn’t do any information research? How dare you deceive me? Old man, do I look like a moron just because I talk nicely?”
Koo Jong-ak smiles.
When a gambler laughs, their composure often breaks down.
Koo Jong-ak says.
“Young man, you’re bound to suffer internal injuries if you hold a weapon during a fight. I was trying to protect you. Isn’t your life more important than money?”
I unsheath Black Hare’s Tooth and hold it out to the middle.
“Old man, let’s cut the crap and decide the winner. I’ll let you have the first hand.”
The defending party stops with their weapon out, and the attacking party wields the weapon. If it’s a tie, it will proceed again the other way around.
It looks like a battle of weapons, but in fact, this also involves internal Qi.
Koo Jong-ak has long continued to stay as the King of Weapon Gambles. Although his sword is solid and sharp, his real secret to staying in power for a long time is due to his strong internal Qi. In other words, until the day I left the sparring gamble den, the only person who never lost in weapon gambling was this old geezer, Koo Jong-ak.
Koo Jong-ak sighs slightly, walks towards the wall, and looks at his collected weapons. Of course, he used to pick a weapon according to his opponent to protect the blade, but this time he did not hesitate to choose a sword on the right side of the wall.
Koo Jong-ak says.
“I’ll deal with you with the Mysterious Heavenly Sword (玄天劍). If the sword flies, innocent people can get hurt, so hold on tight. Are you ready?”
I glare at Koo Jong-ak while I hold Black Hare’s Tooth in one hand.
Koo Jong-ak clicks his tongue.
“Talking informally… imbecile.”
I smirk. A single moment is essential to weapon gambling. In many cases, the swords clash the moment one person’s breathing shakes. I know all the rules here, so there’s no way I will be tricked.
While he holds the Mysterious Heavenly Sword, Koo Jong-ak looks at Black Hare’s Tooth.
I’ve injected Wooden Chicken energy into Black Hare’s Tooth. Naturally, the energy does not cause the sword to glow.
Koo Jong-ak glances at me once and swings the Mysterious Heavenly Sword to hit the center part of Black Hare’s Tooth. I twist my wrist when I see Koo Jong-ak cleverly trying to hit the back of the sword.
With a blunt sound, Koo Jong-ak’s Mysterious Heavenly Sword is deflected.
Koo Jong-ak then tells me with a mixed expression.
“Well, now it’s your turn.”
This time, Koo Jong-ak holds out the Mysterious Heavenly Sword to the middle and fiddles with the ivory on his necklace like an old habit.
Out of kindness, I once again make Koo Jong-ak aware of the rules of this gamble.
“Old man, if you hurt your opponent, you’ll be stabbed by everyone here.”
“I’m telling you, be careful.”
“What are you…”
As Koo Jong-ak answers in astonishment, I swing Black Hare’s Tooth. The injected force has been converted from Wood Chicken to Fire Chicken. When Koo Jong-ak bends his wrist, I follow suit.
At that moment, the blade of the Mysterious Heavenly Sword breaks…!
Koo Jong-ak flicks the ivory he had been fiddling with in his left hand with a finger technique. The ivory breaks off the necklace and flies towards my neck.
I send the ivory flying away with a similar technique, the Wooden Fowl Finger Technique and then throw Black Hare’s Tooth straight into Koo Jong-ak’s chest.
With a wet sound, Black Hare’s Tooth is pulled out again. I didn’t plunge the blade deep into him on purpose.
I look at Koo Jong-ak, who is holding his injured chest with a gaunt expression.
“How dare you ambush me, you goddamn geezer.”
Koo Jong-ak opens his mouth.
I grab Koo Jong-ak’s face with my hand and throw him to the center floor. With a thud, Koo Jong-ak rolls to the floor.
I pull the gold bar from the gambling money box that Koo Jong-ak was keeping and then say.
“What are you doing, you sons of bitches? It’s a rule to stab the injured opponent. Who was ambushed first? If you have eyes, you would have seen it.”
I look at the weapons gamblers who are watching while throwing the gold bars into my wrapping cloth one by one. Everyone is monitoring the situation quietly because they are afraid of Koo Jong-ak.
I continue to pick out the gold bar with a chuckle.
“Whatever, you morons…”
Koo Jong-ak, who is still breathing, asks for help from those around him. He would repeatedly call someone’s name, try to bargain, and offer to share his fortune. I hum as I fill the cloth with gold bars.
“How nice would it be if we just played fair?”
At this time, a weapon gambler at the end of the table stands up with his knife and stabs the struggling Koo Jong-ak in the leg. Screams and curses fill the air at the same time.
I remind them of the rules of weapon gamblers as I continue moving the money.
“Aren’t rules meant to be obeyed?”
The weapon gamblers stand up with their respective weapons and stab them into the body of a man who has reigned as the king of weapon gambling for a long time.
Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, stab…
Now Koo Jong-ak’s screams become silent.
I stand up after shoving all of Koo Jong-ak’s gold bars into the cloth. After clapping my hands a few times, I say farewell to the scumbags.
“That was fun. You gambling addicts.”
As I maneuver over Koo Jong-ak’s body, several people stare at me in a silent rage. I immediately respond to the threats, turn around and let my mouth loose.
“Do you want to die?”
In an instant, the rage in their eyes disappears, and everyone returns to their place. I also resume my steps out of this place.
“That’s right. That’s how you become good gamblers. You fucking imbeciles…”
Anyway, this is how I am preparing the necessary gambling funds to challenge the king of sparring gambles.
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