A huge manor that dwarfed the Dong family estate stood before me.
Two stone lion statues stood guard at the entrance, while the front yard, visible beyond the wide-open gate, boasted a marble path.
Furthermore, a flower garden that melded seamlessly with the bright, shining pond surrounded the area. Every inch exuded majesty.
The weapons stand, lined up on one side, confirmed that the Hahu family was indeed a martial arts household.
Perhaps because the family’s elite warriors had left to capture the Dong family members, the inside seemed quiet.
“I will finish this soon, so wait here with Seol.”
Dong-gu, holding Yu Seol’s hand, gave Yu Jinsan a somewhat worried look.
“Are you really alright with heading in alone?”
“There will be nothing but weak ones inside. I should be more than enough.”
“…That is why I…”
“Is it really necessary to go this far when everything is over?”
The best of the family, including Hahu Geuk, had died. The revenge was complete, and the safety of their family was confirmed, so Dong-gu saw no need for unnecessary killings.
Yu Jinsan clicked his tongue in frustration.
“You foolish brat. You might not need to worry about it now, but can you guarantee the same in 10 years?”
“The fire needs to be completely extinguished. When a small spark turns into a big fire, it will be too late for regrets.”
With those words, Yu Jinsan walked toward the gate of the Hahu family manor.
Just then, he heard his granddaughter’s cute voice urging him from behind.
“Grandpa, hurry up and go! We still have to eat~.”
Yu Jinsan waved his hand over his shoulder and continued forward. As he stepped through the gate, he flung the cloth in his hand onto the front yard.
The wooden boxes piled within the wrapped cloth shattered, immediately drawing the attention of those nearby.
The women watching from the yard screamed at the sight.
They were bound to be surprised. Inside was Hahu Geuk’s head.
The unexpected screams drew the attention of all the family members from every direction, swelling their number to a clean dozen of all ages and genders.
Upon seeing the head, the family members scrambled for their weapons.
Yu Jinsan, observing them, spoke with a grave expression.
“I am Dong San, the eldest son of the Dong family, whom you all tried to overthrow.”
Their rage immediately turned towards Yu Jinsan, who had brought in their family head.
A middle-aged man brandishing a scimitar marched forward with long strides and yelled.
“You bastard! What have you done to our family?”
Why was there only one head? Every warrior who had left with the family head was a family member.
Yu Jinsan drew the dagger he had prepared in advance and declared calmly.
“I killed them. Every single one.”
Each person there stood dumbstruck at his words. Those trained in martial arts charged at him without hesitation.
“For my father!”
It resembled dozens of adults swarming to kill a single child.
But Yu Jinsan didn’t even flinch. Compared to Hahu Byeok and Hahu Mu, they were mere children—individuals they wouldn’t dare confront without their combined strength.
‘This is nothing. You must have thought of everyone else as beneath you.’
As he tilted his head to the right, the scimitar’s blade whisked past his cheek from behind.
A wrist moved slowly into his line of sight.
Without a second thought, Yu Jinsan slashed at the area with his dagger’s blade.
Blood sprayed. Simultaneously, the middle-aged man’s grasp on the scimitar failed, as the tendons and veins in his wrist had been severed.
Before the scimitar hit the ground, Yu Jinsan felt his left ankle heat up again.
Before he could check what had happened, Yu Jinsan had vanished from sight.
He lowered his form and spun around like a top, mercilessly cutting the ankles of those who approached him.
Blood was everywhere.
Those who finally realized something was wrong took a step back in fear, but it was too late to turn back now.
Like a breeze passing through a dense forest, Yu Jinsan began to exploit their vulnerabilities.
The screams that echoed simultaneously showed no sign of stopping.
After a moment passed, the commotion suddenly died down, and the place fell silent except for the sound of groaning.
Did he show mercy to them? Everyone was clutching their hands and legs, yet no one seemed to be fatally injured or dead.
“Since only the connecting muscles are cut, you can still survive…”
Everyone looked at the boy with a scared expression.
Fear was gradually taking hold.
How could they oppose the will of the man who had the power to decide their life or death?
“If you cross the Dong family again, I will cut off your throats, not just your muscles. I will do everything in my power to ensure the Hahu family name is erased from this world.”
No one could respond to this.
With the most skilled and commanding members of the clan dead, there was no one left to lead them. Naturally, they felt lost.
Yu Jinsan, scanning the crowd, tossed away his bloodied dagger.
He turned his back and began to walk out of the manor.
No one spoke. Not until the boy was completely out of their sight.
‘This much should be enough,’
Yu Jinsan thought after careful consideration.
There must be family clan members outside. If he completely annihilated them, the survivors would surely seek revenge now that they had nothing left to protect.
And so, it was necessary to leave behind those who needed protection to prevent them from carelessly attacking.
“What happened? Did you kill them?”
Yu Jinsan looked at Dong-gu.
“Do I look like a murderer to you?”
“I-it isn’t that….”
“Life is precious to everyone. I have standards too.”
Dong-gu was flustered and scratched the back of his head.
“I am sorry, Elder. I didn’t mean it like that.”
Yu Jinsan shook his head with a small smile, as if telling him not to worry.
“The only times I’ve wielded the sword to kill were when the opponent had committed a sin worthy of death or when it was truly necessary.”
“Then why did you go in?”
“I didn’t come out without doing anything. Since I cut one or two of their muscles, they won’t be able to train in martial arts. So they cannot step into the Dong family.”
“Thank you for the hard work. Rather, what the elder did is…”
Yu Jinsan cut him off and called his name.
“You have too many loopholes in what you do.”
At that moment, Yu Seol, who had been listening quietly, laughed.
Dong-gu looked confused and glanced at her.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Heheh. So that’s why your name is Dong-gu?”
Dong-gu picked up Yu Seol and placed her on his left shoulder.
“Yes, you naughty child. My father named me Dong-gu because I can’t do things right.”
“But I like your name. Mister Dong-gu~.”
“Should I spank you?”
“Hehe. No~ Let’s go eat something nice!”
Her ability to change the subject was remarkable.
Dong-gu chuckled and shook his shoulder.
“Okay! Mister Loopholes will get you something nice.”
“Mister Dong-gu is the best!”
Yu Jinsan and Dong-gu burst into laughter simultaneously and quickened their pace.
To conceal their identity, it was necessary to take Dong-gu with them for a while.
Above all, his innocence for his age made his company interesting.
And his granddaughter was happy, so the journey to their destination didn’t feel tedious.
After two days of travel, they arrived at the White Flower County market.
A teahouse with a signboard that read ‘Two Ways’.
“It is quite large for a teahouse.”
Most teahouses were structured as street stalls, but this one was as grand as a pavilion.
Dong-gu took the lead and ushered the two inside.
“Right? Let’s go in.”
The interior was as roomy as its exterior suggested.
There were about 20 tables, and more than half of the guests looked quite distinctive.
Once they sat down, a server approached and took their order.
“Haha, the children are so cute. What kind of tea should I prepare for this lovely table?”
They hadn’t come here to drink tea.
When Dong-gu hesitated, the server, who appeared quite accustomed to such reactions, suggested,
“How about the hawthorn tea? Kids seem to love it these days, and it’s quite sweet since it’s made with fruit and honey.”
“Then two cups of hawthorn tea. And… and I would like the Black Mountain Tea.”
The server’s smiling face stiffened at that moment, and he glanced around before asking in a subdued tone,
“Are you sure about ordering that?”
Typically, there were no customers who requested such a tea because its price at this establishment was exorbitant.
But to make contact with the Black Night Clan, one had to order it.
“I am sure. I’m aware of the price.”
“I understand, customer. Please wait a moment.”
Yu Jinsan observed the server’s behavior, but he noticed nothing unusual.
He seemed to be someone with no ties to the Black Night Clan.
‘I’ve heard it’s an organization that operates through branches; it seems to be true.’
The profits from here would likely pass through several intermediaries before reaching the Black Night Clan.
Yu Jinsan wanted to meet the executives directly, avoiding the many stages, but there was no way to bypass them.
After a while, the server arrived with the tea and set it down gently.
He said, “You have to finish it.”
As soon as the server turned away, all three faces scrunched up in distaste.
Yu Seol, with her keen sense of smell, couldn’t hold back any longer and pinched her nose.
It was the Black Mountain Tea.
What could possibly be in the tea to make it smell so foul?
That horrible stench, reminiscent of a drain clogged with rotten food, was maddening.
They had to get through this to find the Black Night Clan. It wouldn’t be easy, but someone had to drink it.
All three hands moved towards the table as if by reflex. Among them, Yu Seol was the quickest, as she picked up a cup of the normal tea.
And then there were just two left.
Dong-gu couldn’t be faster than Yu Jinsan, who also chose the normal tea, leaving the Black Mountain tea untouched.
Yu Jinsan and Yu Seol, having already selected their teas, exchanged glances and then looked at Dong-gu.
“Okay then, let’s drink!”
“Thank you for the food~.”
Dong-gu felt like crying.
But what could he do? There was no choice left for him.
He gritted his teeth and attempted to down the foul-smelling tea in one gulp.
In that moment, his face turned ashen, as if he were drinking poison.
“Mister, are you alright?”
It was clear that he was far from okay.
Yu Jinsan had an inkling of what might be in the Black Mountain Tea.
It was possibly a concoction of various substances used for tracking, including the scent of Chasing Faint Scent, employed by assassins.
“… I-I think I will die.”
“Hehe. I was actually planning to drink that.”
“Do not lie!”
“Really. Drink this quickly now.”
Dong-gu wiped away his tears and downed the hawthorn tea Yu Seol offered him in a single gulp.
It was a sweet tea that washed down the horrid feeling, allowing him to finally calm down.
With their goal accomplished, there was no longer any reason to linger.
Yu Jinsan and his granddaughter also yearned for some fresh air, having held their breath for far too long.
Once their task was complete, the three hurried out.
The price of the Black Mountain Tea was a hefty 5 silver coins, nearly more than regular tea.
Dong-gu, now somewhat pacified, glanced back with an irritated expression. This was because Yu Seol had been trailing behind for quite some time.
“Why are you walking so far behind?”
Yu Seol merely shrugged her shoulders without replying.
How could he not understand the reason? It was the horrid smell emanating from his body. He sighed and turned to Yu Jinsan.
“I thought I was going to die for real.”
“It certainly looked that way. And that alone is like repaying the entire debt.”
Yu Jinsan replied.
“Euk, Elder, you too. You saved my family. How can this be enough for everything you’ve done?”
A calm smile appeared on Yu Jinsan’s face.
“Well, you are loyal. Your role is to accompany us until we obtain information from the Black Night Clan.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you? Just tell me. I would do it even with my own body.”
“Forget it, kid. Shouldn’t you be protecting your family? When you return, your father will pass on his skills and internal strength to you, so learn them well. If you manage that, we shall meet again.”
“Yes, Elder. I will definitely become a warrior and repay the favor I have received.”
Although Dong-gu’s current skills were not exceptional, his fundamentals were solid.
Should he inherit the skills of the family head and dedicate himself to training, he had the potential to ascend to the level of a master warrior.
“But you know, Elder, is the Black Mountain Tea the only thing you need? One would need more money to get information, right? Are five silver coins enough?”
“That was all we had. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to find another way.”
“Oh my… But will we really be able to get in contact with them?”
Yu Jinsan nodded as if he didn’t even need to think about it.
“Even if not for that, we do have this one guy who has been following you from earlier.”
The movement was so discrete that one wouldn’t even notice. There was no doubt that he was an expert at hiding and tracking. Even now, he could feel the presence disappearing constantly.
At that moment, he heard a voice from behind.
“Uh? Two people?”
“Two people are following us.”
Yu Jinsan was shocked. No matter how skilled he was, he couldn’t believe that he had missed the presence of another person.
Then, was the Black Night Clan that skilled? His doubts were beginning to grow.
“It looks like one of them is on the roof of the pavilion behind us. And the other?”
Yu Seol looked around and then pointed her index finger to the side.
“He went into that house just now. There.”
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