One of those tailing them had turned back, likely to arrange a meeting.
If they followed that man back, they might meet with a superior and not a mediator.
Yu Jinsan, anxious for that opportunity, shook his head.
‘I shouldn’t rush into this without thinking.’
Now wasn’t the time to be reckless, especially if they had no one else to rely on.
There was no reason to take such a risk. If any complications arose, they could lose trust even before the deal began.
At that moment, his granddaughter shouted excitedly.
“Grandpa, look over there!”
She pointed her finger at a spot in the crowd.
A shirtless man with a mask was at the center, surrounded by onlookers.
“Hmm. It seems like they’re putting on a performance here. Want to watch?”
Hunan province was known for its street performances, and such events were common.
How could one miss out on such an experience?
Yu Seol, brimming with curiosity, grabbed her grandfather’s hand and pleaded.
“Yes, I want to! Let’s go quickly and see!”
Seeing her so interested, he couldn’t refuse. The three of them, hand in hand, joined the group and made their way through the crowd.
“Now, who would like to challenge? Who will come next? If anyone hits me and manages to push me out of the circle, I will give them a silver coin!”
It seemed many had already challenged him, as the bowl in front of him was half full of bronze coins.
Then, a bulky man stepped forward. His slow, deliberate walk made it clear he was trained in martial arts.
“Hyung, is one hit really one coin?”
“Yes, yes! Of course! Come forward and try! There is a coin waiting for you.”
The crowd gasped at the challenger’s actions.
He took out all the bronze coins from his pouch and poured them into the bowl.
There were so many that they started to fall to the ground.
“Wouldn’t he be risking his life?”
The man continued to obliviously drop coins before he stood in front of the masked man.
Their height difference was about one foot. At a glance, one could assume the taller person could crush an opponent with a single punch.
Frightened, the man waved his hand.
“Th-this is wrong, great warrior!”
Those who had tried before him had only put in 2-3 coins at most. The sheer amount he had inserted was shocking.
“A man’s words should be worth more than a thousand gold. Let us start now.”
He clenched his massive fist.
The onlookers appeared quite anxious at the sight of his menacing posture.
Finally, the challenger assumed his stance and summoned his strength. The sound of his fist slicing through the air resonated.
The man’s fist showed no mercy as it struck the performer’s stomach.
The performer’s upper body shook violently with a loud scream.
And so it began.
Two successive fists hammered into his stomach.
His technique was stable. It seemed he was trained in martial arts.
His fist moved so swiftly that only Yu Seol and Yu Jinsan could track it.
If the onslaught continued, the man would surely die.
Yet the performer’s feet, who seemed on the brink of death, remained firmly planted.
Yu Jinsan, observing the scene, realized it immediately.
‘He has mastered the Iron Body Armor.’
Iron Body was a martial art that conditioned the upper body to be as tough as armor.
Had the man realized this?
The prolonged attack came to a halt.
“Huh! Y-you are amazing, Hyung, for enduring my fists for so long. I give up then.”
As he conceded defeat, the performer clutched his stomach.
“Oh my, I really thought I was going to die this time! Ah, my stomach!”
Was there humor in his delayed reaction?
Yu Seol, watching the performer, couldn’t help but clutch her own stomach and laugh.
“Hehehe. So fun. Grandpa, try it too.”
Yu Seol watched this with a smile, but Yu Jinsan was in a different mood.
Contrary to appearances, the performer didn’t seem normal. And he was curious about his identity.
There was nothing he couldn’t do if he set his mind to it, but why bother taking unnecessary risks?
“No, Seol. I think we should just watch for now.”
But does the wish of a child end with a simple no?
Yu Seol held Yu Jinsan’s hand with sad eyes.
“Ehh… Please, show me quickly~ Okay?”
Dong-gu, who was watching this, approached Yu Seol and then said,
“Then you do it. Why always push Grandpa into it?”
Was it because there were too many unknown people around? Yu Seol blushed.
“Because it’s embarrassing.”
“Then won’t your grandpa be embarrassed too?”
Yu Jinsan, looking at his granddaughter, thought for a moment. Above all, they were running low on travel funds, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to make easy money.
He soon made up his mind and nodded.
“Alright, I’ll do it.”
It was because he was conscious of the Black Night Clan’s pursuer, watching them from afar. In order to strengthen his position in negotiations, he had to display his strength to some extent.
Seeing his granddaughter clapping her hands and enjoying it, he thought this might be good.
“Hehe, do well. Seol will cheer for you.”
Before he knew it, the performer, feigning pain, enticed the next challenger.
“Ahhh, my stomach… I don’t feel too good, so what about just another challenger for today? Someone weak, come forward now.”
The performer looked like he might slump down at any moment.
The performer continued to act as though he were in pain and glanced at the crowd. And then a small child approached.
It wasn’t so odd; even young kids came to have fun.
“Ah, I am saved. A little warrior has arrived!”
As the performer danced at this, the onlookers burst into laughter.
Yu Jinsan ignored their response and stood in front of the man.
“Is it okay if I just send you out of the circle?”
The performer, rubbing his hands together, extended one hand to the bowl.
“Yes, yes. One hit per bronze coin!”
Yu Jinsan went through his pockets and found two coins. This was all the wealth he had managed to save after the tea had been given.
‘It cannot be helped. I cannot let my child starve.’
Breaking the Iron Body Armor wouldn’t be difficult, but to do so, he would have to deal a fatal blow to the opponent.
Then how could he do that to a performer?
If the goal was to simply push the opponent down without knocking him unconscious, there was no reason to break down the Iron Body Armor.
His hand rose into the sky like a bird with its wings open.
Next, he waved both hands, preparing for the Yu family attack.
‘No one in Hunan should be able to recognize these martial arts skills.’
Did the performer sense the flow of his qi? He began to defend himself, lowering his body and trying to move away from the attack.
Although his expression was hidden by the mask, his eyes were clearly shaking.
But Yu Jinsan couldn’t stop now.
Yu family’s First Form of Palm Technique, Break Through with No Trace.
His palm moved toward the stomach of the performer, pushing him.
A wave of qi spread around.
Those watching were surprised, and a look of admiration appeared on Yu Jinsan’s face.
‘It’s amazing how he managed to endure it all this time.’
Yu Jinsan gently pulled back his palm and rotated his wrist slightly to the side.
In a split second, his palm moved like lightning, striking the performer’s abdomen again.
It was the Fourth Form of Palm Technique, Break Through Flash Attack.
It was a hit worth putting everything on the line.
The performer had been using the Iron Body Armor, but this time he couldn’t endure it. As his feet lifted off the ground, he fell.
As he stumbled, the crowd around them erupted into cheers.
Even though they didn’t understand what had happened, they had just witnessed something shocking, and before they knew it, the performer got up and continued the act.
“I should have stopped earlier! My money!”
Yu Jinsan was handed a silver coin, and he quickly left the place because he didn’t want the attention on him.
And his granddaughter, with a bright smile showing her dimples, kept clapping her hands.
“Wasn’t it fun?”
Yu Seol whispered into his ear.
“So cool, Grandpa. You were the best!”
It had been so long since he had seen his granddaughter this happy.
Yu Jinsan clenched his fist and stood tall for the first time in a long while.
“Hmm. Well, I used to hear that kind of thing a lot when I was younger.”
“But what do we do with that?”
He must have been referring to the silver coin he had won as a prize. Suddenly, Yu Jinsan realized why his granddaughter admired him so much.
It wasn’t just because of the victory.
The most important thing now is to leave this place quickly.
“I need to buy Seol something delicious. Let’s go quickly then.”
Yu Jinsan glanced to the side, where Dong-gu took the lead.
“We’ll walk there in a moment.”
The group left the place in a hurry, completing their errands.
The moment they left the crowd behind, Yu Jinsan became alert.
This was because of a sound he heard from behind.
-I know almost all the Hunan warriors, but I have never heard of anyone like you. Who are you?
It was the voice of the performer.
Judging by the tone of his voice, it seemed like he had realized Yu Jinsan had undergone Body Reformation.
Yu Jinsan turned his head slightly and looked back at the performer, who was still surrounded by people.
-If you want to know, wouldn’t it be better to reveal your own identity first? Let’s just say I’m an old man with a story.
-If we meet again next time, may I request something?
-If you are confident, then anytime.
Now, all that remained was to wait for the Black Night Clan to approach them.
With their travel expenses in hand, they managed to stay at a nice guesthouse and have a pleasant time.
Two days passed with the same routine.
On that day, the three of them were in their room, uncertain of what to do next.
“Is anyone here?”
When Dong-gu opened the door, he was greeted by the server with a warm smile.
“What is it?”
“Someone asked me to give this to you a little while ago.”
In his hands was a folded note.
The preparations for the meeting seemed complete. After the server left, Dong-gu immediately handed the note to Yu Jinsan.
“What does it say?”
“They say we should take a carriage in front of the guesthouse tomorrow morning.”
Yu Jinsan nodded and glanced out the window.
Everything was as quiet as usual.
“They really make this difficult. Is it always this hard to meet?”
“It can’t be helped. If their location is exposed, they could be easily attacked by others.”
Yu Jinsan knew this well.
There were even rumors of hungry beggars secretly selling information to the Black Night Clan.
If the information leak was indeed true, it was natural for the officials, whose livelihoods were now threatened, to consider siding with the enemy.
“Well, I guess we’ll meet them tomorrow.”
For now, they could only wait.
The next morning,
The group finished preparing and stepped out of the guesthouse.
As expected, a carriage was waiting.
The coachman, looking naive, opened the door for them.
“Please get in; someone else has already paid.”
The coachman appeared to be someone who was unaware of the Black Night Clan; even if questioned, it seemed unlikely that he would provide any useful information.
“Let’s start now.”
“Grandpa, it’s my first time in a carriage!”
Yu Seol was visibly excited about her maiden carriage ride.
At that moment, Dong-gu offered her some beef jerky he had brought from the guesthouse.
“Snacks are essential on a carriage trip.”
“Hehe, thank you for the food!”
Fortunately, both his granddaughter and Dong-gu seemed to enjoy the journey. Meanwhile, Yu Jinsan simply sat with his hands crossed and eyes closed, awaiting their arrival.
The journey was half a day long, and as the sun began to set, the carriage door swung open.
“W-we have arrived. Please get down.”
Yu Jinsan, the first to disembark, was puzzled to find no one there to greet them.
Then he noticed something that made him frown.
Before them lay a sandy field leading to a river, where a boatman awaited someone by a ferry docked at the shore.
‘Could it be?’
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