As I survey the Phoenix guest room with my hands on my back, a woman dressed in white approaches me from behind.
“Sir, I will be serving you today. My name is Baek So-ah (白昭峨).”
As I whip my head around, a woman I can’t complain about is standing there.
Her figure is covered in white, the headdress and accessories are all white, and she is quite beautiful.
All the accommodations here are tents, and the Phoenix guest room is one of the largest. Bedding, tables, and bathtubs are divided into blocks within the spacious tent.
I have frequented small tents, so this is not unfamiliar to me.
Baek So-ah says to me.
“Let me know if you need anything. Clothes, desired weapons, food, and alcohol, we can match them according to your taste. As long as it’s nothing too difficult.”
I ask with a calm expression.
“Is there poison in food?”
“No, there isn’t.”
I then ask another question while looking at Baek So-ah’s expression.
“Why not? You’ll make more money if Dong Bang-yeon keeps winning.”
“How is it beneficial to us if an undefeated warrior keeps winning?”
“No, an undefeated warrior attracts more gamblers. The gamblers may bring the warriors they’re nurturing, invite a master from outside, or ask an acquaintance to challenge Dong Bang-yeon. You attract all sorts of people here, and they will bet money.”
Baek So-ah then replies with a smile.
“I see. If you’re not up for a meal, should I bring you some alcohol?”
“I only drink Kaoliang liquor.”
“Of course we have them.”
“Is it for free?”
“Bring it to me.”
“Yes, I’ll be right back.”
While leaving, Baek So-ah turns around at the entrance to the tent.
“Oh, sir? How about the ladies?”
“We will have girls serving you the alcohol. But they are not necessarily girls who will spend the night here. Most of them only want to serve alcohol, but you never know. There might be a girl who may take a liking to you. Should I pick a pretty young lady and bring her here?”
I ponder for a moment and answer.
“Might as well.”
“Bring someone good at drinking.”
Baek So-ah answers with a tilted head.
Sitting in front of the drinking table, I look at the woman Baek So-ah brings in to serve me.
“Do you drink well?”
“Yes. Ah, sir, my name is Heuk So-ryeong (黑笑玲).”
This woman is dressed in black from head to toe, and even her hair accessories are black in color. This is my first time looking closely at the two women.
“Your surname is Heuk too?”
“It’s a nickname.”
Heuk So-ryeong pours the Kaoliang liquor and holds out the glass. I don’t grab the glass and instead lower my head to smell the drink.
I shift into a lotus position in front of the drinking table, close my eyes, and then use the energy I exude as a focal point. I then scan Heuk So-ryeong with my Mind’s Eye (心眼).
When I have memorized Heuk So-ryeong’s energy and expanded my range, I can sense an energy that I believe to be Baek So-ah outside. This is an internal Qi technique called the Strolling Safe (逍遙安) in the Strolling Golden Turtle Technique.
I open my eyes and look at Heuk So-ryeong.
Heuk So-ryeong asks me.
“What are you doing?”
I found out that both Baek So-ah and Heuk So-ryeong are being used as honey traps due to their own circumstances. These two were rumored to be the most beautiful in my previous life.
To be honest, I expected something special about them since they are being used as honey traps, but instead, it’s quite disappointing. While both Baek So-ah and Heuk So-ryeong are rare beauties, I hadn’t been interested in them at all in my previous life.
They are women who need to bring down the challengers no matter what, but I already know that they have thorns in them despite their glamorous appearance.
Using Strolling Safe, I identified that the two learned the same martial arts.
Baek So-ah and Heuk So-ryeong are talented people with outstanding fighting skills who have been trained enough to keep their expressions calm and even taught to drink and dance.
I pour Heuk So-ryeong a glass and hand her the glass.
When Heuk So-ryeong reaches out her hand to take it, I drop the glass on purpose.
Heuk So-ryeong looks distraught as soon as she grabs the falling glass. At the same time, I jab her face and shoulder using the Wooden Fowl Finger Technique.
Heuk So-ryeong stiffens while holding a glass.
I praise Heuk So-ryeong for her fast reaction.
“You’re very good.”
Heuk So-ryeong looks at me with calm eyes even though she has had her pressure points sealed.
I look at the frozen Heuk So-ryeong before taking off and inspecting her hair ornament. While looking at the round black pearl, I squeeze my nails in the center and pull, splitting the black pearl in half.
There is an unknown powder in it.
“What is this? It’s powder. What kind of powder is it? Will I die if I eat it? Or not? What should I do? I’m curious. I’m dying from curiosity. Bah, whatever.”
I pour the powder from the black pearl into Heuk So-ryeong’s glass and look at her.
“Miss Heuk, shall we have a drink?”
I tilt Heuk So-ryeong’s chin up and grab her jaw. After opening Heuk So-ryeong’s mouth, I slowly pour the drugged liquor inside.
The alcohol flows down with a dripping sound.
Heuk So-ryeong’s throat bobs as she swallows the drink.
I lower her head and observe her with crossed arms.
“If it’s a deadly poison, you’ll die, and if it’s not, then good for you. Let’s see.”
Heuk So-ryeong’s eyes are unbothered.
I whisper in Heuk So-ryeong’s ear.
“Wow, I guess it’s not a deadly poison. How kind. But you put the powder in the pearl because it’s important, right?”
When I look at Heuk So-ryeong again, tears are flowing down her eyes.
Looking at those tears, I think that it is fortunate that I had jabbed her acupoints.
Because crying will create a fuss.
I get up without making a sound, then walk to the entrance to the tent and stand in an appropriate position.
A moment of silence.
The silence continues until the time to call it “for a moment” has passed. Suddenly, the tent’s entrance folds open, and Baek So-ah appears.
After I jab Baek So-ah’s face and shoulders one after another, I drag her by her nape and sit her next to Heuk So-ryeong.
When I take off Baek So-ah’s white pearl hair accessory and open it, there is also powder in it.
I pour the powder into my glass and feed it equally to Baek So-ah.
They are both in tears when I check their conditions while warming up.
“What kind of powder is that? Why are you crying? I can’t stand being curious. This is bad.”
This is really bad.
Baek So-ah and Heuk So-ryeong’s eyes are gradually rolling back.
Their faces are flushed, and strangely, they have a mournful look on their faces.
Only then did I realize what the powder was.
“Ah, it’s aphrodisiac (春藥). I thought it was something else.”
After consuming the drugged alcohol that evokes sexual desire while in a state of being bound, it is no wonder, they are reduced to tears.
“Aphrodisiacs won’t kill you. It’s none of my business if you die, so I’ll be back after a drink. The two of you, get a grip.”
I have no intention of touching the rice, water, alcohol, or snacks provided by the hosts. And I already know they are using honey traps from the start, so I have no intention of touching Baek So-ah and Heuk So-ryeong.
I exit the tent and head for the guest inn where the errand boy Il-bo works.
As expected, drinking alcohol in a guest inn is best while watching drunk customers, fights, and people getting together. Il-bo gives me free drinks to celebrate a special occasion when I enter.
I asked Il-bo.
“Is there no poison?”
“If I poisoned it, I’ll be beaten to death by gamblers.”
“What are you talking about? You should check since anyone could’ve done it.”
“Is that so?”
Il-bo, who is looking at the current happenings, sits across from me with a solemn face and says seriously.
“By the way, sir.”
“Shall I bet all my fortune tomorrow?”
“Who do you think will win?”
Il-bo strokes his chin and replies with a cautious look.
“That’s the problem. I think you will win, but I don’t know why. Just an errand boy’s hunch, I guess? Ah, I shouldn’t risk my entire fortune with this hunch. It’s too dangerous.”
“Will you do it if I ask you to?”
Il-bo replies with a bright expression as if it is good news.
I say seriously to Il-bo.
“If I win this time, my life will take a 180-degree change, though?”
“How can such money change your life?”
“You’re asking me to be an errand boy for the rest of my life, is that right?”
I grin at his words.
“Isn’t it that you don’t dare to do anything else? You should’ve said it earlier.”
“I need money to do something else.”
I pour Kaoliang liquor for Il-bo and say.
“That’s not true. It’s just that you haven’t found the things you like, what you want, what you want to do. What do you really want? See, you don’t.”
“Do you know what you want, sir?”
“Don’t ask about others. Ask yourself.”
Il-bo and I glare at each other with an ever-serious expression and drink together. However, when other customers enter the inn, Il-bo stands up with a complicated look.
The group of incoming customers strides into the inn and immediately whacks Il-bo, knowing he drank. With a smack, Il-bo turns his head around. Is this a combination of a guy who hits and gets hit? The attacker’s behavior looks pretty natural.
The customers laugh and say.
“Crazy errand boy, you’re drinking again.”
Il-bo smiles bitterly and points inside.
“Please grab a seat.”
“You drank, right?”
“I had a drink today because something good happened. Apologies. Please come in.”
Il-bo, who skillfully lets the customers inside, suddenly gazes at me.
I laugh aloud as I watch Il-bo’s expression. Then, Il-bo, who has to go to get orders, smiles, and swears.
“Fuck, this sucks.”
Il-bo is seriously conflicted about whether he should endure the rising anger or explode.
One of the customers stops walking and looks back after hearing Il-bo’s curse.
“Did you curse?”
When Il-bo stays still, the customer looks at me this time.
“Was it you?”
I nod slightly.
The three people who are on their way to their seats turn back and come close as if they are planning to block me.
A guy says.
“Why did you curse? You son of a gun, hm?”
I get up from my seat, look at the three, reach out and jab their shoulders. I then grab the man in the center by the throat with my left hand.
I glare at him with a firm grip on his neck.
“Why are you hitting an errand boy so recklessly? You son of a gun, hm?”
I get ready to flick his forehead. I blow hot air on my fingers and hit the man on the forehead.
With a smack - the man tumbles backward. Holding his forehead with both hands, he rolls around the floor and screams. I then give the men with jabbed acupoints a forehead flick each.
One guy keeps screaming, and the other faint after the forehead flick.
Il-bo, who is watching, asks me.
“Sir, are finger flicks hard to master?”
“It’s very hard.”
“There’s nothing easy in the world. I can’t even learn finger flicks.”
Il-bo approaches me as if he’d given up. He then sits across from me again and pours himself a drink.
“Have we ever met before in the past?”
“Right? There’s a weird sense of closeness. If I quit here, where can I find you, sir? I don’t think you will be staying if you win tomorrow.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Because you’re too weak.”
“That’s because I didn’t learn martial arts.”
Taking a sip of Kaoliang liquor, I proceed to say calmly.
“I never thought I was weak when I hadn’t started to learn martial arts.”
“Really? Why did you think so?”
I pour the rest of the drink to Il-bo.
“Thanks for the drink.”
“Are you leaving already?”
“It’s about time for me to release the pressure points.”
When I stand up, Il-bo begs me as he grabs the crotch of my pants.
“Sir, please help me. I’m not saying I’m going to be a Kangho warrior, but I’m telling you honestly because I think life would be better if I were your servant.”
“Then, should I give you a mission?”
“Go to the Black Rabbit Union and tell them to gather here at Shin-si (申時) tomorrow. In particular, tell them to bring everything they have, such as wrapping clothes, boxes, wagons, and carts to collect the money. Can you do that?”
I leave the inn and return to the Phoenix guest room. I then check the condition of Baek So-ah and Heuk So-ryeong with my hands behind my back.
Somehow they are sweating excessively, and their long hair is sticking to their faces. The stench of make-up mixed with sweat pierces my nose.
I stab the Moonlight Dagger into the table and stare at them.
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