Chae-hyang is on the verge of tears when she sees blood flowing down Cha Sung-tae's eye. After the pavilion owner, Cha Sung-tae is the scariest man here. Cha Sung-tae kneeling on the ground with blood dripping from his eye to the floor terrifies her.
Chae-hyang serves the liquor with trembling hands when I hold out my empty glass.
I say with an intentionally warm smile.
"Even an errand boy has pure love."
Cha Sung-tae stares at Chae-hyang as if saying she has to answer appropriately. Chae-hyang, who believes that things would resolve when the owner arrives, replies with a nod.
I wipe the smile off my face and reply.
"But that love was never directed at you. I've made myself clear, right? You're ruining the mood, so get out."
Chae-hyang looks at me with wide eyes and then looks at Cha Sung-tae, wondering if leaving was okay. Cha Sung-tae nods, signaling her to get out.
I repeated my order again when Chae-hyang didn't stand up.
Only after I said it twice did Chae-hyang get up and rush out to the hallway. Having never heard such rude orders in her life, Chae-hyang manages to hold back her tears until she leaves the room before letting her tears fall.
I look over to Cha Sung-tae and say.
"Brats who only rely on their looks are the worst. They think crying will solve everything. Don't you think so?"
Cha Sung-tae answers.
I speak to Cha Sung-tae, who senselessly uses informal language.
"Don't speak informally to me."
"Your slit eye is so annoying that I feel uncomfortable when you speak informally."
Cha Sung-tae stammers slightly.
"Ah, yes. I understand."
"Do you think the situation will be resolved when the owner comes? Or will he be kneeling there beside you?"
"Honestly, I'm not sure since you and the owner are both outstanding at martial arts. Of course, since there's an incident in Plum Blossom Pavilion, owner Cho Yi-gyul will come. Though he's been busy with the Black Rabbit Union for the past few days."
"You're good at speaking formally."
"He's dealing with the Black Rabbit Union?"
"Yes, Ilyang Prefecture will soon establish a union with the approval of Black Rabbit Union. But if such bad news is reported as soon as the union is established, there is a possibility that the Black Rabbit Union will become very unhappy, complicating the relationship."
"We can't have that. So what you're saying is even if I subdue the pavilion owner, the problem I've caused will be sorted out by the Black Rabbit Union. Is that right?"
Cha Sung-tae nods honestly.
"That's right. The Black Rabbit Union is a formidable group that even all the tough men of Ilyang Prefecture together can't deal with."
"So what, you rascal. When the owner comes, you want me to have a nice drink with the owner and leave? You think that'd solve everything?"
"Of course not. What would you like to do?"
"Have the Cho family serve as my underlings."
"Isn't that a little… impossible? There's a possibility he'll be offended."
"I'll create a sect in Ilyang Prefecture myself, and you can all come under me. Brats in the pavilion will join the Rebirth Sect (更生門), or should we shorten it to Life Sect (生門)? So all Ilyang Prefecture's crazy bastards can be reborn like me."
Cha Sung-tae also nods as if he understands.
"Great, we do need a refresh. And congratulations on your rebirth."
"Please go ahead."
"Isn't the owner a little late?"
"That's right. As I said, he's attending the masters of Black Rabbit Union at Pear Blossom Pavilion. It'll be hard for him to come right away. They're important guests."
After gulping down Dukuang liquor, I stand up and look down at Cha Sung-tae.
"Tell the owner bastard. I'll save all of you if you all come under me. Of course, there's no chance of that because it sounds like nonsense. I should give you a chance. Tell him I'll fight him whenever he comes to Zaha Inn. And…"
I am going to give Cha Sung-tae a chance, too.
"Think carefully. If you think the Black Rabbit Union will win, you can stand by your owner's side and fight against me. If you don't think he'll win, then join the Rebirth Sect. Thanks for the fine liquor. Put it on the tab."
"Would you like to wait a little longer?"
"Do you think I'm running away?"
Cha Sung-tae nods.
I kicked Cha Sung-tae in the face, sending him flying to the corner of the room.
"You sure know how to ask for a beating."
I point at Cha Sung-tae with my finger.
"A man should know how to earn a beating. I'll see you around."
Cha Sung-tae responds by touching his face.
"Please have a safe trip back. I'll put it on the tab."
"Do as you please."
The entire Ilyang Prefecture will come under me anyway, so I don't have to care whether my name is in the books or not.
As I walk down the hall, people move to the side.
Even though they'd already stepped aside, I still wanted to say this at least once.
"Make way, peasants."
When I go down the stairs to the first floor, the doorkeeper, who I had knocked out earlier, yells a curse as he sees me, clearly not having grasped the current situation.
"Hey, you damned bastard!"
I slap him across the face and walk past him. The gatekeeper crashes into the wall and collapses with a loud sound. I then tell the others.
"Why didn't you tell him what happened? He ended up getting beaten up and passed out again. What a bunch of heartless punks."
I pause at the entrance to look around the Plum Blossom workers. In an instant, the whole Plum Blossom Pavilion becomes silent.
I wave my hand and speak in a blunt tone.
"The errand boy had a good time."
Those bastards made silent curses with their mouths and rude hand gestures behind my back as I turned around.
If you swear at others, it's only natural that you get cursed at in return.
I didn't care, so I got out of Plum Blossom Pavilion and stretched my body. That wasn't so bad.
Curses are curses, jokes are jokes, and truths are truths.
Of course, mountains are mountains, and water is water.
Such things wouldn't have happened if people had clearly separated their meanings.
Of course, the three Cho brothers, who ran the Plum Blossom, Pear Blossom, and Cherry Blossom Pavilions, would not be able to believe it.
Their family weren't the original owners of the Pavillions.
Ilyang Prefecture was a chaotic place, so the three Cho brothers took over the pavilions by force sometime in the past.
To those who are wary of competitors, the reports of their subordinates will probably sound like a joke.
「There was an accident at Plum Blossom Pavilion. An errand boy came alone and caused a big mess.」
「What errand boy?」
「The errand boy from Zaha Inn.」
「Zaha Inn? Are you kidding me?」
If the report reaches the top, I think this kind of conversation will occur.
While walking down the street, I suddenly take out the sickle hanging around my waist and look at it.
Dealing with the three Cho brothers with this shabby sickle is one thing, but it'd be inefficient to go against the Black Rabbit Union with just this.
It's time to visit the Dragon Head Smithy.
Dragon Head Smithy is a blacksmith shop known for making dragon head-shaped handles. Some might even say they focused more on making dragon head handles than making good blades.
A smithy where their handles are of better quality than their blades.
Dragon Head Smithy, where their products are more style than practical substance.
Weapons made at the Dragon Head Smithy tend to have extravagant names that don't quite match their quality.
The White Dragon Sword (白龍劍), Azure Dragon Blade (靑龍刀), Black Dragon Whip (黑龍鞭), and Double Dragon Sickle (雙龍鎌).
They always add 'dragon' (龍) to their creations and sell them this way.
The names made each weapon sound like something a top ten master in Kangho would possess. Thanks to this, multiple dragons tend to appear when a fight breaks out in Ilyang Prefecture.
My hometown is the birthplace of the White Dragon Sword that cuts through the wind, the Azure Dragon Blade that falls from the moonlight, and the Black Dragon Whip that separates blood from flesh.
Looking closer, they're just a bunch of incompetents.
On the way, I take out the money hidden near the furnace of Zaha Inn and head to the Dragon Head Smithy.
Even if I'm skilled in martial arts, it's business ethics to pay for these transactions honestly.
That's how sane I am.
"Welcome… Lee Zaha?"
"Are you here to pay your tab? Or do we owe you money?"
Many eyes are questioning why an errand boy would come to a blacksmith shop. I look around the Dragon Head Smithy and say.
"I'm here to buy some weapons."
"What is it for? Oh, did you come to buy a sickle? Our sickles are a little expensive."
I fold my arms for a moment and make up a short answer to convince them.
"I'm thinking of going to war with the Cho family, so I'm here to buy a few weapons."
As the workers of Dragon Head Smithy look at each other and tilt their heads, the vice master of the Dragon Head Smithy, Kwak Yong-gae says.
"Look, young man. You're free to fight, but can you handle it? I heard you got beaten up a few days ago, so don't throw your precious life away. I used to like the chicken noodle soup your grandfather made, but you're a terrible cook."
"Now's not time to talk about how my chicken noodle soup tasted."
Kwak Yong-gae is picking a fight with the customer.
"If I don't talk about the taste of noodle soup with the errand boy, what should we talk about?"
I take out my money pouch.
"Shut up. I've got plenty of money. So show me your weapons."
"What are you going to buy?"
I answer back with a finger held out.
"A light sword, a tough whip, or a fairly sharp dagger would do. Do you have something like an Azure Dragon Sickle?"
I can't get my primary weapon right away, so I will only get temporary ones.
Vice master Kwak Yong-gae scratches his head.
"You're going to use all of them?"
"Please respect my preferences."
Vice master Kwak Yong-gae flicks his finger at his subordinates and orders.
"Go get the Black Dragon Sword, White Dragon Whip, and Sky Dragon Dagger. We don't have an Azure Dragon Sickle, so don't go looking for one."
The men of the Dragon Head Smithy promptly respond to the vice master's orders.
Kwak Yong-gae says.
"No one in this town can handle an Azure Dragon Sickle, so we didn't make one. Please understand."
It is disappointing news.
"The Azure Dragon Sickle is a really cool weapon. Do you have the Eight Inch Snake Spear then?"
"I told you that we don't have one."
"What about a Double Crescent Halberd?"
"I don't have that kind of weapon, so stop asking. Don't push too far."
Vice master Kwak Yong-gae looks me up and down as he strokes his beard.
"How old are you this year?"
"And I'm over thirty. Are you going to keep talking to me in that manner?"
I roll up my sleeves.
"Fight me if you're not happy about it."
Vice master Kwak Yong-gae waves his hand.
"Forget it. I can't beat up an innocent errand boy."
"What a gentleman."
As his men line up after returning with weapons in their hands, Kwak Yong-gae says.
"Have a look."
"I'm busy, so I'll just buy everything."
"Okay, It'll be 90 nyangs."
"Are you crazy? It's too expensive."
"I gave you a big discount since you're from here."
I continue to bargain with folded arms.
"Well, let's do this. I'll give you 50 nyangs for you to loan them to me."
"Loan? What are you talking about?"
"I mean, I'll use it and return it."
"Ho, that's no different from robbery."
"I said I'd give it back after I finish. How is that robbery?"
As the noise of our discussion spills outside, the smith master of the Dragon Head Smithy, Geum Chul-yong appears.
Geum Chul-yong is a man with sharp eyes, and his appearance and name fits as an owner and master of a smithy. The place was named after him, after all.
"What's all this fuss about?"
His entrance is quite notable, perhaps all the years of bluffing has transformed into actual gravitas over time.
Kwak Yong-gae and everyone bows slightly toward Geum Chul-yong.
"Boss, this young fella is going to start a war with the three Cho brothers."
Geum Chul-yong looks at me.
"He wants to take all these weapons for it, but he doesn't have enough money to buy them directly. What should we do?"
Geum Chul-yong seems to have finally remembered who I was.
"Come to think of it, aren't you the grandchild of the old man who owned Zaha Inn?"
"Long time no see, Mister Geum."
Geum Chul-yong sighs and says in a serious tone.
"I loved the chicken noodle soup your grandfather made for a long time, yet your cooking is terrible. What did you learn from your grandfather? You lack touch and sincerity. It's only a matter of time before Zaha Inn goes out of business."
I sigh and fold my arms.
"My grandfather's chicken noodle soup is indeed delicious. I'll admit that. But I didn't come here to talk about soup, so let's stop talking about it."
Kwak Yong-gae tells Geum Chul-yong.
"Boss, I said that to him already."
Geum Chul-yong nods.
"Good. By the way, I can smell blood from your waistband. Did your war start already?"
I have no choice but to change my evaluation of Geum Chul-yong of the Dragon Head Smithy.
This guy has the nose of a dog.
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