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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
The atmosphere inside the Lofty Sky Manor was nice and relaxing. In contrast, tensions outside the manor were high as the Wardens patrolled the area around the manor diligently. The air that they gave off was so intimidating, no one dared to get close to them.
“Why so secretive?! Just what is going on in there?” mumbled Jang Pae-San, glancing at the manor. However, he quickly gave up on finding out as he was aware of the difference in social status between himself and the people inside. Besides, if it was something they didn’t mind him knowing, they wouldn’t have gone so far as to set guards around the perimeter of the manor.
Jang Pae-San turned around to find his subordinates eagerly reading a book titled “Blade of Blood Waves (血波刀法)”. He shouted, “I expect all of you to memorize every single character in that martial arts manual before we return to the Central Plains! Those who fail to memorize it will be left behind in this place!”
“Don’t worry, Captain. I will memorize all the contents of this book even if it makes my brain explode,” swore Noh Ji-Kwang, one of Jang Pae-San’s most loyal lackeys.
“Hahaha! I always knew that you were a blessed man, Captain. Thanks to you, I get to learn elite martial arts. If we can master this technique, reaching Transcendence might not just be an impossible dream!”
“Aye, we would never have gotten our hands on something like this without the captain. I’ll be your loyal dog forever, so please continue taking care of me even after we return to the Central Plains, okay, Captain?”
The men of the Third Company showered Jang Pae-San with praise, putting him in a good mood. He laughed, “Loyal dog? Mwahahaha! That’s right, I’m your shortcut to success, so you guys should be nicer to me!”
Shim Won-Ui had bestowed the Blade of Blood Waves upon Jang Pae-San as payment for his servitude. To Shim Won-Ui, this was a worthless martial art, but to the affiliate mercenaries, it was a priceless treasure that would pave the way to Transcendence.
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…At least, they thought it would.
Beside the Blade of Blood Waves, Jang Pae-San had actually received another martial art from Shim Won-Ui. However, he kept this a secret from his underlings.
Hee hee! The “Blade of the Vast Heavens *(廣天刀法)” belongs only to me. There’s no way I can simply hand over such a powerful martial art to mere henchmen.*
Jang Pae-San felt that a leader should be stronger than his men. Unlike the Blade of Blood Waves, which was ambiguous, the Blade of the Vast Heavens contained a section about achieving Transcendence.
I’m glad I chose to pledge my allegiance to Shim Won-Ui. He’s already this generous even though I haven’t done anything yet. If I manage to accomplish something great, just how big would the reward be? Uheheheh hahahahaha!
Suddenly, the grinning Jang Pae-San noticed Seo Mu-Sang leaning against the wall. His smile instantly vanished.
Everyone else in the Third Mercenary Company was busy memorizing the Blade of Blood Waves. Seo Mu-Sang, who was standing alone in a corner staring blankly at the sky, was the sole exception.
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What the fuck is up with that guy?
In the past, he might have been hard to deal with, but he always obeyed me without question. However, lately, he seems really distant and appears somewhat reluctant to follow my orders.
Athough Seo Mu-Sang looked exactly the same as before, strangely, Jang Pae-San now felt cowed whenever he looked into Seo Mu-Sang’s eyes. He would freeze up involuntarily and be unable to utilize his qi.
After the fight with Yeop Wol, Seo Mu-Sang’s martial arts had improved tremendously. He had overcome the barriers in his way and achieved the state of Transcendence.
Not long after reaching Transcendence, Seo Mu-Sang started distancing himself from the rest of the men. He also began naturally exuding an aura of authority through his body language and expressions. This aura was useless against those stronger than himself, but it placed the mercenaries under great pressure. Jang Pae-San was no exception.
However, Jang Pae-San simply chalked up his behavior to laziness and despair. The thought that Seo Mu-Sang’s martial arts had entered the state of Transcendence did not even occur to him.
Technically, now that Seo Mu-Sang had achieved Transcendence through the Blue Cloud Sword Style, he no longer needed to learn the Blade of Blood Waves. However, when he tried to refuse Jang Pae-San politely, the narrow-minded Jang Pae-San only took it as an expression of defiance.
All this had resulted in the current situation, with him being alienated by the rest of the mercenaries. Seo Mu-Sang could only watch silently as the other mercenaries tried their best to memorize the Blade of Blood Waves.
If I had received an opportunity like this before coming to the Northern Army Fortress, would my life be completely different from what it is now?
Although I feel that a person’s background is meaningless as long as they have talent and work hard, I can’t help but be consumed by jealousy.
Just then, the pleasant voice of a young girl rang out in the training grounds, saying, “Teehee! It seems like everyone is working hard!”
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Seo Mu-Sang turned his head and saw a cute girl of about fifteen walk into the plaza.
This girl’s name should be Shim Soo-Ah, I think?
The adorable girl with the coquettish grin was indeed Shim Soo-Ah, the younger sister of Shim Won-Ui. She was currently the most laid-back person in the whole of the Northern Army Fortress, taking a walk even when Shim Won-Ui, Seomoon Hye-Ryung and Dam Soo-Cheon were immersed in discussion at the Lofty Sky Manor. Her bodyguards desperately chased after her, worried for her safety.
“Oh, if it isn’t the Young Miss! What brings you here today?” greeted Jang Pae-San, rubbing his hands together as if he was ready to sell his soul to Shim Soo-Ah.
Shim Soo-Ah smiled in amusement. She had seen too many bootlickers like Jang Pae-San and knew exactly how to deal with these types of people. She said flirtatiously, “I came here to see you!”
“Why does everyone look so busy? Sheesh, you guys should take it easy!” exclaimed Shim Soo-Ah, pouting so cutely that for a moment, Jang Pae-San was tempted to reach out and touch her face.
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AHH! What am I doing? Just what was I thinking?
Jang Pae-San hurriedly held himself back, having realized his mistake. Seeing that she had succeeded at bullying Jang Pae-San, Shim Soo-Ah grinned with satisfaction.
“Haa… I’m getting bored,” she grumbled to herself. She stretched out her body and looked toward the Tower of Shadows. “Shall I go there and play? Would he be willing to play with me if I visited him personally?” she added.
Startled, Jang Pae-San said, “Oh no, Young Miss. You can’t do that!”
Jang Pae-San swallowed his saliva, then persuaded, “That is not a place that a noble lady like the Young Miss should go. Moreover, the person there is the son of the gangho’s number one criminal. Laying your eyes upon a person like that will only sully the Young Miss’s eyes.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“It’s best if Young Miss does not go near trash like that. If you’re feeling bored, please allow this lowly one to take you outside instead.”
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“Is there anything interesting to see outside?”
“Not really, but…”
“Then this conversation is over.” Shim Soo-Ah ended the conversation with Jang Pae-San and stormed out of the training grounds.
This girl is a total airhead!
Jang Pae-San did his best to suppress his anger and chased after Shim Soo-Ah.
“Where are you going, Young Miss?”
“Hmph! I go wherever I want to go!”
Jang Pae-San watched Shim Soo-Ah as she left. Only when he was sure that both she and her bodyguards were out of earshot did he mutter, “What a whimsical girl! I’m sure she’ll pay for her rude behavior one day.”
He had been in a good mood before talking to Shim Soo-Ah, but now he felt like he had just been dragged through the mud.
As she walked out of the training grounds, Shim Soo-Ah spotted Jin Mu-Won talking a walk nearby. She smiled at her unexpectedly good fortune.
Since her arrival at the fortress, she hadn’t had an opportunity to speak with Jin Mu-Won alone. On one hand, it was because the young man tended to coop himself up inside the Tower of Shadows. On another hand, Shim Won-Ui had prevented her from going outside the manor and meeting him at all costs.
The excuse that Orabeoni gave for grounding me was that I am ignorant and impulsive, like a babe in the woods. If my father, the Sky Lord Shim Mu-Wae, was here, would Orabeoni have dared to do this to me? Hmph, I think not!
“Hey!” Shim Soo-Ah shouted, running toward Jin Mu-Won and waving her hands like she was greeting an old friend.
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“Huh?” Jin Mu-Won stared at Shim Soo-Ah with an odd look on his face.
“Hey, do you have some time now?”
“I just want to talk. Everyone else is busy with work, but you’re free to hang out with me, right?”
Shim Soo-Ah stood next to Jin Mu-Won, not caring whether he agreed or not. Her bodyguard’s lips twitched, but she did not raise any objections. Shim Soo-Ah would make her life utterly miserable afterwards if she did so.
“I’m also busy.”
“What are you busy doing?”
“Just some random chores and such.”
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“Haha! You’re just like my brother. Are all men always so busy, even when a pretty girl is standing right in front of them? How can you be like that?”
Shim Soo-Ah chatted on and on. Jin Mu-Won felt that she was like a happy lark. She was carefree, had no worries, and said whatever she pleased.
She probably has never met anyone who wasn’t nice to her. Well, I guess that’s only natural. I doubt anyone would dare be harsh to the daughter of Shim Mu-Wae unless they were stronger than him.
Unlike me, she lives such an easy life. I have to fight a constant battle just to stay alive every single day. Even then, every night, I lie in bed wondering if I will be able to get through the next day.
Whenever I talk to anyone, I have to choose my words carefully. Before I can do anything, I have to consider every possible outcome and weigh the consequences. The only way for me to survive is to plan and calculate my every action.
This girl, Shim Soo-Ah, is the complete opposite of me. Even if she doesn’t use her brain at all, no one can harm her!
Ahh, this is so annoying. Even though I haven’t done anything, I already feel exhausted. This is all her fault. Well, at least this meeting allowed me to confirm one important fact: Shim Soo-Ah is nowhere near as crafty as her elder brother.
Jin Mu-Won abruptly turned to face the Lofty Sky Manor. There, through a half-open window, Shim Won-Ui and Dam Soo-Cheon were staring at him.
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