In my errand boy days, I always assumed Kangho warriors only fought openly and squarely in a 1:1 duel. Swarming into a grappling match was only done by losers who didn’t master martial arts, or so I thought.
However, now that I have stepped into Kangho, the Unorthodox Factions, Orthodox Factions, and Demon Cults use all kinds of tricks, ploys, conspiracies, and tricks to win.
There are surprisingly very few manly Kangho warriors.
Meanwhile, the masters who act all proud and go around without alliances or factions die in vain from being attacked by pirates or bandits.
And that has always weighed on my mind.
1:1 is the best kind of fight.
It’s a clean-cut, accurate, basic, and original fight.
While leaving the main hall as a group and moving to a larger space, Nam Yeon-poong declares that only the officials are allowed to spectate. The people walking around the vast area disappear instantly.
Positioning himself in the larger space, Nam Garak asks me with his arms crossed.
“What would you like, Leader?”
I then say as if I am ordering snacks in a guest inn.
“Take your pick.”
I also fold my arms like Nam Garak and answer.
“You choose. I have mastered all sorts of forms. Let’s go with what you’re most confident in.”
It seems like Nam Garak is indecisive, so I help him with his choice.
“Looking at your face, I kind of want to beat you up a little. You never got beaten up since you became the head of the Nanming Society, have you? I’ll go for bare hands rather than weapons. I think hitting that annoying face is going to make your men happy. What do you think?”
Nam Garak scoffs in amusement.
“Crazy bastard, you’ve completely lost it.”
“You can use weapons if you’re scared. Use your bare hands if you’re confident.”
While Nam Garak is still contemplating, I throw the Black Hare’s Tooth on the floor. Nam Garak then loosens his arms and approaches me silently.
We are about the same height.
Nam Garak asks as he narrows the distance.
“Are you ready to get your ass beaten?”
When I smirk, Nam Garak responds by swinging his fists.
When I try to hold on to my wrist with the Qin Na Technique, Nam Garak withdraws his hand and sweeps the floor with his left foot.
I avoid the low kick with a backward step.
Nam Garak stretches his palm out to my face.
I support my legs with internal Qi to gauge Nam Garak’s palm force and strike back with my fist.
With a sound, Nam Garak’s shoulders fly backward, and this time he has both palms outstretched.
When I realize the palms are a fake-out, I quickly increase the distance between our standing positions by three zhangs (三丈, about 9m) to further observe Nam Garak’s skills.
Only then did Nam Garak’s expression turn serious.
Everyone might become upset if I take the lead and charge at Nam Garak, but now it’s different.
I will fight properly not because I acknowledge Nam Garak as a talent but because I want to have the entire Nanming Society.
Suddenly, I think.
If I don’t do my best, Nam Garak might catch on and feel displeased. Changing my mind about dealing with him moderately, I then stare at him.
At that moment, I channel the Fighting Chicken energy throughout my body and then cover my hands with Fire Chicken energy. The watching officials then realize something is wrong and utter a word.
I warn Nam Garak as I feel my whole body heating up due to the energy of the Fighting Chicken.
“Be careful, Leader Nam.”
Stomping the ground with my feet, I narrow the distance in a few seconds and stick out my palms.
With widening eyes, Nam Garak responds with his own palms.
The Fiery Fowl Great Handprint envelops both of my hands.
Nam Garak’s body is blown away like a straight-lying corpse. Meanwhile, I jump midair, raise my right hand while injecting the Fiery Fowl Fragrance and prepare to slash at him without a sword.
As soon as I slash down with my hands, a red blade flies toward Nam Garak’s head, which jumps up.
Nam Garak’s face turns into a grimace, and he crosses his hands to unleash palm force for defense.
At that moment, Nam Garak’s body bounces off three zhangs (三丈, about 9m) away with a loud bang. Nam Garak, whose body rolls on the ground, jumps up as he tears off the badly shredded jangsam with one hand.
Nam Garak’s expression has already turned feral. But in my eyes, he just looks like a grumpy inn cat.
“What a nice expression.”
I am going to deal with him after gaining the upper hand. Without wasting a breath, I narrow the distance, unfolding the Fire Chicken energy and slashing with my hands. I then throw a Wood Chicken punch, a kick, the Fiery Fowl Great Handprint, then further mix Finger Techniques and Palm Techniques and continue to attack Nam Garak one-sidedly.
Nam Garak steps back every time he blocks an attack, as his entire face trembles. He leaps here and there like a startled cat while maintaining his fighting spirit. In the meantime, I unfurl the Great Absorption Technique with my left palm and shoot a Fighting Chicken Palm to drag in Nam Garak’s entire body.
Nam Garak is dragged in with his chin raised and then holds out his palms to face the Fighting Chicken Palm.
As soon as Nam Garak blocks the Fighting Chicken Palm, he vomits a handful of blood and rolls three or four times as he hits the ground. If I had maintained my power at the Fire Chicken level, then his subordinates would’ve enjoyed the match where the two of us fight evenly, but the Fighting Chicken is different.
It’s normal to vomit blood or roll on the floor upon receiving my attacks.
The state of Fighting Chicken is higher than Nam Garak’s ability from the start.
As a means to ask him to get a grip, I rise into the air and trample my foot on Nam Garak’s face.
Nam Garak barely manages to roll on the ground to avoid it and jumps up using his right hand by punching the ground to generate recoil. In the meantime, I retreat back in midair after considering Nam Garak’s reaction time and perform a kick with both feet.
It’s dangerous to give him time to react, so I am attacking with this weird move.
Blocking the kick with crossed arms, Nam Garak frowns and steps back. I move as fast as I can to conceal my moves, swinging my right arm like a whip and cutting the neck of Nam Garak with my hands.
Perhaps thinking this is his chance, Nam Garak blocks my arm with his left hand and counters with a punch with his right hand. I forcefully force myself to change my trajectory and grab Nam Garak’s collar. I then pull his extended wrist and throw him into the air.
As I hurl Nam Garak into the air, he spins like a scarecrow.
In the meantime, I kick the ground and dash to where Nam Garak is falling down.
Nam Garak hollers in the air.
“Pull out your swords!”
After declaring war, Nam Garak first draws his sword in the air and swings it recklessly to buy time.
Landing safely on the ground, Nam Garak is shaking all over. Nam Garak then says as he holds out his trembling sword toward me.
“Leader, bring your sword over.”
Nam Garak’s breath is extremely ragged. His eyes are bloodshot, and his face is all flushed. No other emotion is dominating Nam Garak as much as his pride.
“I said bring your sword over!”
I grin as I watch Nam Garak lash out. I speak leisurely, thinking I’d give this guy time to rest.
“Let’s do that.”
I stretch out my left hand and pull the far-off Black Hare’s Tooth with the Great Absorption Technique. Black Hare’s Tooth moves slightly while shaking before suddenly surging in with lightning speed into my hands.
I pull out Black Hare’s Tooth and inject it with Fire Chicken energy without announcing the start. The sword reveals itself with a red glow. I swing the sword over my head and set it vertically as I unveil the Fiery Fowl Fragrance.
The sword’s blade begins to flutter with red heat waves.
As I switch to Fighting Chicken by pouring external Qi and attack power into my right hand, the blade calms down as the red heat waves straighten. Instead, Black Hare’s Tooth’s blade turns purple as if it is smeared with blood.
After moving the upright sword to the right, I make eye contact with Nam Garak.
“Are you ready to die, Leader?”
The spectating officials then say to Nam Garak.
Somehow it sounds like a hint to stop him.
Nam Garak is staring holes at my purple-colored sword. Nam Garak knows that if he continues, he will face more of a disaster than when we were fighting with bare hands.
To Nam Garak, the situation requires coolness rather than pride.
Nam Garak’s lips twitch as he says calmly.
“I don’t think we need to check sword techniques. I lost.”
Nam Garak, who regains his composure in a few moments, sighs heavily and sheaths his sword.
I watch Nam Garak and gradually remove the power I had injected into Black Hare’s Tooth. The blade seething in purple, slowly turns white as if its anger is subsiding. I retrieve Black Hare’s Tooth and then say to Nam Garak.
“Staying composed is also a skill. That was a good fight.”
I understand the pride of men. Nam Garak needs time. At times like this, he doesn’t even need consolation from his subordinates. Just let him be. Although he is a prideful man, he is also a man with a great sense of responsibility, so he would return to the usual Nam Garak.
I look around the Nanming Society without lingering feelings and say to Nam Garak and his men.
“See you again.”
I didn’t demand anything. I didn’t mock the Nanming Society. I just turned around.
I walk three or four steps before Nam Garak asks me in a low voice.
“Leader, at least stay for a cup of tea.”
“Let’s do it next time.”
I halt in my steps and look at the sky. It rained the day before, but the weather is very sunny today.
Maybe feeling a little bothered, Nam Garak asks from behind me.
“What are you planning to do next?”
I reply while looking at the floating clouds.
“It’ll work out somehow. The Low-Down Sect is the Low-Down Sect, and The Nanming Society is the Nanming Society. Let’s compete again if we have a chance. If the Nanming Society officials wish to have a match, tell me next time. You are always welcome if you are as confident as your leader.”
I finally turn around and look at the Nanming Society. The whole Nanming Society is looking back at me. While choosing what to say, I tell them.
“If the Bajian Society or South Horizon Sect bothers you, contact the Low-Down Sect.”
Nam Garak replies.
“And if I do that?”
I tighten my grip on Black Hare’s Tooth with my left hand and say.
“…Then it means war.”
I could have said something else, but I didn’t.
The choice is up to Nam Garak.
Will he stay in the Nanming Society and die like his past life or join the Low-Down Sect and change his fate? I don’t want to forcefully change the future of people and factions.
But if Nam Garak changes his mind, so will his fate.
‘I’m sure even the heavens will forgive his changed fate.’
After saying goodbye to the Nanming Society, I have various thoughts while returning to the Black Rabbit Union.
This is what I’m certain about.
If you want to change your fate, you must change your mindset.
Not only does this apply to Nam Garak, but to me as well.
It won’t be easy to change our minds seeing as we’re both men. How is changing fate an easy feat?
It’s difficult in the first place.
Nam Garak may be recovering after hurting his pride, but so am I. I’m somewhat confused because I’m acting like an ordinary Kangho warrior all the time without being as crazy as a madman.
But I think I handled it well.
Moyong Baek’s voice lingered in my ears throughout the fight.
‘Why don’t you induce that madness only when you meet a strong opponent??’
Whenever I thought of grabbing Nam Garak by the collar and crushing his face with my fist, Moyong Baek’s words would resonate.
From explosive to subdued madness, I need to train and calm my mind. Just as big and small fish bite and tear each other under the river, the water surface remains tranquil.
Peaceful like the river. That’s what I need right now. Walking down the street, I hum like an errand boy sweeping the floor.
“Peace to me is like the river, peace to me is like the river, madness to me is like the sea, fun to me is madness….”
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