༺ Hao Clan (2) ༻
Multiple swords were directed at me from several directions right as I finished my sentence.
Even though the combat power of the Hao Clan was known to be low, they seemed quite quick to draw their swords.
Of course, said swords couldn’t reach me.
Muyeon, who’d drawn his sword much later than the guards, was still able to parry all their swords away.
“Didn’t you say you were sorry for the aggressive behavior earlier?”
Amusement laced my tone.
Dowoon-Chu, meanwhile, stared at me in silence.
“I think that the information about the Lord of Hao Clan should be more than enough to pay for this request, might I be right?”
“Young Master has turned out to be a completely different person than I thought. I must put aside all the opinions I had about you.”
“I don’t know what opinions you had about me, but yes, it would be wise for you to do that.”
“…How did you know?”
The disappearance of the Lord of Hao Clan was a top secret even among the Hao Clan.
Most places, let alone Beggar’s Sect, weren’t even aware of this situation.
It was weird for anyone to know about the disappearance of the Lord of Hao Clan since his existence itself is a secret in the first place.
‘Would he believe me if I said that I learned it in the future?’
I don’t think it’ll do me any good besides getting treated like an idiot and having more swords swung at me.
“You keep asking me weird questions, why bother asking when you know that I won’t answer?”
“Then why bother coming to us for information when the Gu Clan has information of that caliber?”
“Branch manager, I didn’t come here to trade questions and answers.”
I didn’t care how Dowoon-Chu would interpret this situation.
– Tap, Tap.
Only the sound of me tapping the desk with my fingers resounded in the room engulfed in absolute silence.
“I have information about what you desire, and you also have the ability to bring me the information I need, isn’t that enough?”
“Young Master, how can I trust that the information you have is even real in the first place?”
“That’s for you to figure out. Why must you ask so many questions?”
I stopped tapping the desk.
Dowoon-Chu went back to his poker face, but his mask had already cracked.
“I don’t think you are in a position to be picky, branch manager. If you don’t need my information then say so, I’ll just go to Beggar’s Sect.”
Oh, and I might mistakenly spill a little about Hao Clan to Beggar’s Sect.
The conversation ended with that small whisper at the end.
The ball was now in their court, Hao Clan’s decision would decide how things would progress from now on… But, the correct response was already obvious.
* * * *
“Why did you let them leave?”
After Gu Yangcheon left, only a few guards and Dowoon-Chu remained in the room of Hao Clan.
Dowoon-Chu revealed a bitter smile at the question of the guard.
“I got it all wrong from the beginning, I failed to be consistent in my beliefs.”
– Pretend not to know if you know.
– Pretend to know if you do not know.
These were the ironclad rules of the Hao Clan.
Dowoon-Chu had lived his whole life based on these rules. Even when close to death, he had acted upon these beliefs.
But because of that one boy that had found out about the secret of Hao Clan, the whole of Hao Clan was shaken.
“…I don’t think we should have let them go.”
“What would you have done, then? Capture them and force them to satiate our curiosity?”
“If it’s necessary to do so, then we must-”
“Don’t be stupid, Yacheol, do you think that the Gu Clan is like other households?”
The Gu Clan was a household of considerable status.
If one needed an explanation on why they were classified as a prestigious household.
Then the reason the Gu Clan was initially given a high status was because of all the achievements they had accumulated at the start of the war against demons.
As the centuries passed by, said achievements continued to accumulate. And they’d never stopped progressing since then.
They never fell behind and, instead, continued to progress, which is why they had remained a prestigious clan to this day.
And if one dared to attack the Gu Clan who were widely recognized as the Guardians of Shanxi then,
It wouldn’t just be the branch of Hao Clan in Shanxi, no, the entirety of Hao Clan would be in trouble.
“The Gu Clan is already one thing on their own, but more orthodox factions will come naturally to support the Gu Clan, and many who have been biding their time will finally have reason to attack the Hao Clan. We need to be extremely careful in situations like these.”
“…Apologies, Sir branch manager.”
“Regardless of any of that, the reason why things deteriorated to such a degree was due to me messing up from the beginning. Thankfully though, the Young Master didn’t do anything about your reckless swordplay.”
There was another thing that Dowoon-Chu didn’t tell Yacheol, which was about the young man who was serving as the escort of Gu Yangcheon.
He may have seemed like an average, blade-wielding escort, but with the way he’d struck all the swords away that were directed at Gu Yangche,
Had the guards of Hao Clan taken it one step further…
‘He would have slain them all.’
The reason why he didn’t swing his sword more than the initial action was because the swords that were directed at Gu Yangcheon had no intention of hurting him,
No, perhaps he’d seen from the beginning that the swords were drawn more as a threat than anything else, and so, he’d struck at the swords themselves, not their wielders, what he judged to be the appropriate call.
Dowoon-Chu’s fear, however, came from the fact that he’d failed to see the escort swing his sword.
This meant that the escort was at least a First Rate martial artist. He, in fact, might have been a martial artist that had already reached the top among First Rates.
To bring a man like that as an escort meant that the Young Master predicted that all of this would happen.
‘I still can’t get my thoughts organized…’
What was the reason for the Young Master of the Gu Clan to come to Hao Clan, was it really for business?
There was no way that the boy had gotten that information by himself. The whole of the Gu Clan along with the Lord of Gu Clan could have been involved.
‘…What are their intentions?’
Dowoon-Chu felt a web that he weaved on his own slowly constricting him in…
He couldn’t think of an answer; it was already hard enough to deal with what was currently happening, having to think about who and who could have been involved as well as what their goals were – Dowoon-Chu could feel a headache creeping in.
Lifting up a palm, Dowoon-Chu reached for and pulled on the skin of his chin.
As the skin stretched in response to his sheer pull, it came off with ripping sounds.
Just like Gu Yangcheon had predicted, it was a mask.
Behind the mask known as Dowoon-Chu, was the face of a lady.
It was a beautiful woman with cold eyes, thin eyelashes, and pale skin that seemed like it had never come in contact with the sun.
Yacheol spoke to Dowoon-Chu as she took off her mask.
“Is it alright to take it off?”
“I was feeling uncomfortable, please understand. There isn’t anyone watching right now anyway.”
Even the voice that used to be that of a man’s, had changed to the voice of a woman.
“…I don’t understand it no matter how much I think about it. There should only be so many people that know about the disappearance of the Lord, so how did he find out?”
The people of Hao Clan may treat the head of Hao Clan like a Lord, but they didn’t show any respect for him.
Instead, most would backstab him as they wanted to become the Lord themselves.
This, therefore, was the reason why the Lord of Hao Clan kept himself hidden.
But the disappearance of the Lord didn’t mean that someone else could become the Lord.
You would only be accepted as the Lord of Hao Clan when you had inherited the certificate that allowed one to do so from the Lord himself.
The people who knew about the disappearance of the lord were all desperate to find him so that they could get their hands on the certificate.
Dowoon-Chu didn’t know how much Gu Yangcheon knew about the lord when he came to her, but she came to the conclusion that he came to her while knowing a decent bit.
Furthermore, the reason why he had come to her specifically…
‘I don’t think you are in a position to be picky.’
What Gu Yangcheon had said continued to echo in her head.
Dowoon-Chu thought about the Lord that had disappeared,
And realized that, as Gu Yangcheon had said, she really wasn’t in a position to be picky.
* * * *
‘I thought I was screwed.’
After finishing my business with Hao Clan, I went back to the streets.
“They actually drew their swords, those fuckers.”
I knew that they had no intention of killing me, but I didn’t expect them to actually draw their swords.
I was scared for a moment there.
Maybe I was too arrogant with my approach.
The reason why I was able to keep my calm composure was thanks to Muyeon.
When I glanced at Muyeon, I noticed that his eyes were scavenging around the place in case of any danger.
‘I always thought of him as a clumsy escort, but his movements as a martial artist are undeniable.’
I knew I was going to be able to come out alive in the end, so that also helped me keep my composure.
I felt Muyeon glancing at me while I was immersed in such thoughts.
“If you are curious about something, just ask me”
“I figured that you wouldn’t tell me even if I ask.”
“…Oh, how did you know?”
“I’m joking, I may be a little boy, but I’m still a child of the Gu Clan. It’s not too weird for me to have my own affairs, right?”
No, it was definitely weird.
Well, I would just say that I accidentally found out about the Hao Clan, so I wanted to visit them out of curiosity.
Visiting the Unorthodox Faction meant that I wouldn’t be let off just by scolding, but it was necessary.
‘It would have been easier for me to go by myself if possible.’
I couldn’t do anything about Muyeon following me.
Though everything turned out nicely thanks to him.
Thankfully, Muyeon didn’t suspect me of anything.
“…So there was a reason why you insisted on going out to the streets last time.”
Is he talking about the first day?
“The day when the elder tried to bring out your potential, but you ran away because you didn’t want to. Rather, I thought you ran away because you didn’t want to.”
“When the elder found out you had run away, he’d said that he would cut you in half the next time he saw you, but, looking back on it now, all of that was an act between you two, wasn’t it? All this time I didn’t realize… Even small actions made by the blood of Gu have such deep meaning to them…!”
Perhaps ‘I thought I was fucked’ wasn’t correct after all, I might already be fucked…
‘Why the fuck would I run away from that?!’
The elder looking into my potential was probably the next best thing compared to Gu Cheolun himself looking into my potential.
But I’d run away simply because it was annoying.
You fucking idiot… How could I have been so retarded?
“Let’s just buy some yakgwas…”
I bought some yakgwas as I was reminded of Wi Seol-Ah enjoying them.
But I forgot that I didn’t bring any money, so Muyeon had to pay.
I’ll pay you back later so stop looking so dejected? Geez.
Anyway, the Hao Clan incident will come to an end for now.
‘Please give me some time to think about it.’
So Dowoon-Chu had said, but I knew that he would take the bait not long after.
Just like the event, “Reclamation of Hao Clan’s Lord” that will transpire in a few years.
A few years later, the people of Hao Clan will invade the Black Palace in order to save their Lord who is currently in the cellar of the Black Palace.
In the end, they failed to save the Lord and as a result, he would eventually fall into death’s embrace.
But, the one who had initiated the plan to save the Lord, inherited his title, and then led the Hao Clan to reach above the surface.
‘One thing I know for sure is that the Lord of Hao Clan was captured and was held in the cellar of the Black Palace for more than five years, and the person that initiated the plan to save the Lord was from Shanxi.’
When he replaced the old Lord and became the new Lord, just like the previous head of the Clan, hid himself.
But he failed to hide some things.
The quest might have been called “Reclamation of the Hao Clan’s Lord”, but it was basically just a war between the Black Palace and Hao Clan who were both large existences in the Unorthodox Faction. After this incident, the Black Palace was completely destroyed while Hao Clan was half destroyed.
The one who took down the Black Palace was none other than the Murim Alliance.
It was such a big event in the world, that even I, who didn’t care about anything at the time, remembered it well.
‘I was fortunate. If it was anywhere other than Shanxi, I probably wouldn’t even attempt this due to the distance.’
It was a half gamble.
I didn’t know whether the branch manager was even there in the first place, or if he was even the real branch manager.
But his reactions gave me a few answers.
I had to have many thoughts and plans ready, considering that I was against the Hao Clan.
It was a necessary path for me to take, even if it was a dangerous one, in order to find the person I was looking for.
Whether by asking Beggar’s Sect for help, or finding him myself, – I had to find this man no matter what.
The man who became the Chief of Military of the Demonic Cult at a young age.
The man who acted as the brain of the Demonic Cult.
I must find him and kill him.
* * * *
I ate some of the yakgwas I bought from the streets and gave the rest to Wi Seol-Ah.
I don’t know what happened while I was gone, but she was covered in spices. I knew that she was learning how to cook, but, how does one end up in such a situation?
However, when she started jumping up and down from joy after receiving the yakgwas I thought to myself, ‘Do I need to buy her more next time?’.
Muyeon had told me that he would make a report on our return and had already left.
I, of course, had told Muyeon to keep everything that happened today as a secret.
His response was an affirmative one, but I couldn’t help but be worried that something might happen.
The next day,
When I went outside at sunrise, I saw Muyeon and the Sword Emperor talking to each other.
“…What is this weird scenario?”
The Sword Emperor, like yesterday, was sweeping the place with a broom.
And next to him was Muyeon, following and talking to him.
“So as a swordsman, the important thing to note is ‘To become one with the sword’.”
“Is that so? Haha”
“For example… Oh, do you know about the Heavenly Venerables? There is a story about a time that the Sword Emperor slept under the moonlight next to his sword and reached a new stage of enlightenment. He synchronized himself with his sword by sleeping with it.”
…What is this?
Is this what they call ‘teaching a fish how to swim’?
“I sometimes feel that when I train at night. It’s like the sword is talking to me. When that happens, I swing my sword and my body…. Oh, I don’t think you would understand even if I explained. I apologize…”
“No problem, it’s an amusing story to an old man like myself.”
It was more embarrassing for me to watch a man brag about his sword ability to the Sword Emperor himself.
I interfered because I couldn’t bear to watch anymore.
“What are you doing?”
Muyeon and the Sword Emperor greet me with respect. I was still not used to the fact that the Sword Emperor was treating me with so much respect.
“…I had a small enlightenment yesterday, and I started talking to him about it without myself realizing.”
I understood his feelings, but this was the Sword Emperor.
The Sword Emperor smiles at Muyeon’s embarrassment.
“I’m fine, young master. This embarrassing old man who has never wielded a sword before had his heart pounding listening to the story of a young man who just gleaned a new enlightenment.”
The almighty Sword Emperor really just said that while pretending to know nothing.
In the midst of this, it was kind of annoying to see Muyeon lifting his shoulders after hearing his words.
“Anyways, what brings you here in the morning?”
Muyeon realizes what he came here for and quickly hands me a piece of paper. He’d forgotten what he came here to do when he was bragging.
The paper I received had “Nine Dragons” written in red.
As soon as I saw this, I had a frown on my face, to which Muyeon responded,
“Young master, you must attend Nine Dragons Day today.”
Another annoying thing had popped up.
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