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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!


When the ceremony celebrating the launch of the Azure Dragon Society ended, Dam Soo-Cheon sat on his chair in silence while Shim Won-Ui happily chatted with Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung.

Eun Han-Seol whispered into Jin Mu-Won’s ear, “Hey, don’t you think they look like idiots?”

“Huh?”

“You know, all these…rituals and prayers and such.”

Eun Han-Seol could not understand why people prayed to the gods. In the world she was raised in, the winners always took all and only the strongest could live in comfort. There was no place for the gods in a world dominated by human desires.

To her, the act of desiring acknowledgement from a higher power was a sign of weakness. All it meant was that one wanted to avoid taking responsibility for their own deeds and decisions.

“Hahaha!” laughed Jin Mu-Won. He agreed with Eun Han-Seol. Although the three from Heaven’s Summit had pretended that he was the witness to this farce, in truth he was simply a tool to feed their own ego.

“Fools!”

“These people are indeed fools, but they are dangerous fools who will dictate the future of the Central Plains.”

“Do they scare you?”

“Huh?”

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“There’s no need to be afraid.”

“!?”

“As long as we are together, you don’t have to be afraid of anyone. No matter what, I will protect you.”

Jin Mu-Won’s eyes widened as he turned to look at Eun Han-Seol. Her face had turned red from embarrassment at her cheesy lines.

Jin Mu-Won grinned and said, “Thanks.”

“…I’m serious, stop laughing!”

image

Thank you, Han-Seol. If I were all alone here, the isolation and the loneliness might have driven me insane.

Suddenly, Dam Soo-Cheon stood up and approached Jin Mu-Won, saying, “Hey, can I talk to you alone?”

Jin Mu-Won nodded, then got up from his seat. Eun Han-Seol watched as the two men walked out of the Lustrous Jade Hall.

When they had left, someone sat down next to her. It was Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung.

Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung smiled graciously, “Hello, Miss Eun.”

“……”

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“How did you find the food today?”

Eun Han-Seol glared fiercely at Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung. In a grave tone, she said, “You. What were you thinking!?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sure you know how miserable that made him. How much more are you going to make him suffer before you’re satisfied?”

“……” Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung’s smile vanished in a heartbeat.

“You didn’t have to invite him here today, but you did. On purpose.”

“Like I said before, we needed a witness. If you found that offensive, please accept my apologies.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are?”

“What!?”

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“Whose idea was this?”

“Enough is enough, Miss Eun.” Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung’s face flushed with anger at Eun Han-Seol’s antagonism.

“What’s going on, Unnie?” asked Shim Soo-Ah suddenly, noticing the friction between the two women. She walked over and stood by Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung’s side.

Eun Han-Seol met Shim Soo-Ah’s gaze. There was open hostility in those eyes. For some reason, this young girl absolutely hated her, and it was making her feel uneasy.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing.”

Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung tried to brush her off, but Shim Soo-Ah could sense that she was trying to hide something and continued confronting Eun Han-Seol.

Eun Han-Seol frowned. The feelings that she had repressed till now felt like they were about to explode. These two women weren’t the only cause, but they were most certainly the trigger.

I don’t like the atmosphere in this place today, or the people in it. They toyed around with the feelings of a helpless person like it was only natural, even making up some random excuse like “we need a witness” to invite him here. They’re exactly the kind of people I despite the most; people who look down on others.

In a threatening tone, Eun Han-Seol growled, “Don’t you dare make him suffer anymore. His life is hard enough even without you messing with him.”

“Aren’t you the one making people suffer now? You’re just being mean!” interrupted Shim Soo-Ah.

“Don’t butt in when you know nothing!”

“Ohh, now I get it. You’re the one who’s making him suffer, not us. He’s not even complaining, so why are you making a fuss in his stead? What gives you the right to speak for him? You might be relatives, but there are some lines you don’t cross.”

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“Soo-Ah, please stop,” pleaded Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung, but Shim Soo-Ah only shot her a bitter look.

“This woman’s a guest, just like us. Don’t you agree that she’s being way too presumptuous? It’s just like the saying, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. She thinks she’s helping him, but she’s just hurting him instead.”

Seo-Moon Hye-Ryung said flatly, “That’s enough from you, Soo-Ah.”

Although she wanted to salvage the situation, she had already let Shim Soo-Ah say more than was necessary. The tension in the air was at its peak, and both Eun Han-Seol and Shim Soo-Ah were ready to snap at any moment.

Suddenly, Eun Han-Seol shivered. A chill ran down her spine, and her skin felt like it was being pricked by a hundred needles.

This feeling is? It can’t be!?

sep

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Outside the Lustrous Jade Hall, Jin Mu-Won asked Dam Soo-Cheon, “What did you want to say to me?”

“I wanted to apologize, as well as discuss something with you.”

“……”

“Look, I’m really sorry for not telling you about what we were planning to do beforehand, and for forcing you to become our witness. Also, my answer to the question you asked me before is: Yes, I wish to help rebuild the Northern Army.”

Now that they were alone, Dam Soo-Cheon felt that it was time he revealed his true intentions to Jin Mu-Won. Most people did not understand the true value of the Northern Army, some even to the point of being sacrilegious, but not him. He knew that these people were simply in denial over the fact that the Northern Army in its prime could easily destroy their sects and remove them from power.

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However, the opinions of the youngsters of the murim were the exact opposite. Instead of fearing the Northern Army, they craved its strength. They had all grown up while listening to the stories of glory; of war; of tragedy; of victory and defeat. It was a place where they could go from zero to hero.

The young warriors of murim are the ones who most wish to rebuild the Northern Army.

The older generation of the gangho saw these youngsters as mere chicks, but Dam Soo-Cheon did not agree with them. He felt that if he could rally all the warriors of the younger generation, he would be able to shatter the delicate balance of the current regime and pave the way to a new era.

The young warriors might not be at the peak of their strength yet, but just like how a dead Zhuge Liang scared away a living Sima Yi,1 he would use the Northern Army as a facade to make the gangho believe in his strength and accept him as the leader of a new superpower.

In order to do this, though, he had to secure Jin Mu-Won’s cooperation. The acknowledgment of the last successor to the Northern Army was essential to the legitimacy of his claims. It was for this reason that Dam Soo-Cheon and Shim Won-Ui had decided to make Jin Mu-Won their witness. That way, he would become their accomplice whether he wanted to or not.

This is fucking humiliating. What do they think the Northern Army is, a disposable tool for their ambitions? Jin Mu-Won said, “You want to help rebuild the Northern Army? Okay. However, will the Central Plains really let you do that?”

“I don’t care about what they think. I’ve already made up my mind to do this.”

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“Wow, you’re amazing,” praised Jin Mu-Won, a sarcastic smile on his face. Although he had succeeded in stopping himself from laughing out loud, he still couldn’t help but smile. Ahh, the unrealistic ambitions of one who has never experienced failure. Haha.

“I know how upsetting this must be for you. Even so, please accept my offer. I’m begging you.”

“……”

“Join the Azure Dragon Society. Together, we’ll change the world.” Dam Soo-Cheon held out a hand; a hand that was strong, steady, and covered in calluses. It was the hand of a man with the ability to change the world.

For a moment, Jin Mu-Won was tempted to grab that hand. If he chose to do that, the road ahead of him would become so much easier. He wouldn’t have to worry about his day-to-day survival anymore. It was very enticing.

However, in the end, Jin Mu-Won resisted the temptation and shook his head, saying, “I think I have contributed enough to your cause by being your witness. I would appreciate it if you did not involve me or the Northern Army in your future plans.”

Dam Soo-Cheon was stunned into silence. It seemed as though Jin Mu-Won’s refusal had come as a huge surprise to him. He stared at Jin Mu-Won with his “Eyes of Domination”, but the younger man did not look away. Unlike everyone else he had met, Jin Mu-Won was not easily intimidated.

Furthermore, not only was Jin Mu-Won unintimidated, his eyes were calm. Within that calmness, Dam Soo-Cheon could sense the powerful, unyielding spirit of the Northern Army.

In the future, this man could become the biggest obstacle to my plans…

Dam Soo-Cheon’s body shook as he was consumed by an intense sense of foreboding, like the thought that had just randomly crossed his mind would become reality for sure. He hadn’t had this kind of feeling in a very long time…so he decided to give up on making Jin Mu-Won his subordinate.

Sometimes, it’s better to have a rival instead of a friend. Most importantly, the man named Jin Mu-Won is worthy of being my rival.

“I’m sorry, that was rude of me. You and I, we’re the same. We’re not people who would willingly bow down to others.”

“We are…”

BOOM!

The sound of an explosion suddenly echoed throughout the Northern Army Fortress.

The two men exchanged a grim look.


Footnotes:

  1. A dead Zhuge Liang scared away a living Sima Yi: At the Battle of Wuzhang Plains (5th battle of the Northern Expeditions, go read/watch Romance of the Three Kingdoms), Cao Cao’s strategist Sima Yi withdrew his army out of caution when he saw Zhuge Liang leading his army to retreat, thinking it was a trap. However, he had no idea that at that time, the real Zhuge Liang was already dead. This resulted in the Shu army successfully retreating from battle. After the battle, when people questioned him about his seemingly stupid decision, he laughed and told them, “I may be able to predict the thoughts of the living, but I can’t predict those of the dead.” 

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