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


Jin Mu-Won and Ha Jin-Wol returned to Kunming together, walking side by side. When they arrived in front of the Peace-Loving Inn, Ha Jin-Wol waved Jin Mu-Won goodbye while saying, “Don’t forget what I told you earlier.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay with me?”

“Huhuhu! I’m living a very comfortable life right now, so what reason do I have to go looking for trouble? It’s not like that muddy business has anything to do with me.”

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“Aren’t you afraid?”

Ha Jin-Wol frowned at Jin Mu-Won’s unexpected question.

“What would I be afraid of?” he asked.

“While I was following your tracks, I noticed that there were a lot of people after you, and most of them referred to you as a crazy swindler.”

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“Huh! Well, I guess I am kind of crazy. You don’t seem to think that I’m crazy, though?”

Jin Mu-Won nodded and replied, “Yes, that’s right. To me, you seem much more like a desperate man who has been driven into a corner.”

Real lunatics were incapable of acting logically, and although the things that Ha Jin-Wol did on his journey seemed random, once Jin Mu-Won thought more deeply about it, he noticed that there was a consistent pattern to the scholar’s actions.

However, most common folk would not be able to notice that pattern, as they were Ha Jin-Wol’s test subjects for his research on human psychology. By putting various pressures on people and observing how they reacted, he would hence study the relationship between natural human instinct and the wider laws of nature.

That wasn’t a feat that any lunatic could accomplish, but it also wasn’t something anyone normal would willingly do. Jin Mu-Won was sure that Ha Jin-Wol’s urgency and desperation were caused by some person or event.

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“Don’t bother trying to understand me with your common sense, you can’t do it.”

“Although I can’t possibly know what you’re thinking, I’m free to make my own guesses, right?”

“Hmph! Anyway, don’t you dare ignore my prior warning! Still, if you insist on carrying on, head to Yuxi City.1

“Yuxi?”

“That’s all I can tell you, and I’m only letting you know this much because Mu-Jin was the one who recommended me to you.”

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“Thank you.”

“Take care!”

Ha Jin-Wol quickly disappeared off in the rain, his body swaying from side to side as he walked. For a long time, Jin Mu-Won stared blankly in the direction where the scholar had vanished.

“Hyung!”

When Jin Mu-Won finally entered the inn, he was greeted by a very happy Kwak Moon-Jung.

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“Were you bored?”

“Nah, I was so engrossed in practicing my martial arts that time just flew by. Did you manage to make any progress in the investigation?”

“I didn’t manage to achieve my initial goal, but I at least got hold of some useful information.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Also, we’re heading to Yuxi first thing tomorrow morning. Be sure to finish your preparations beforehand.”

“Got it.”

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“Have you eaten yet?”

“No, I was waiting for Hyung to come back so we could eat together.”

“Okay then. I haven’t had anything to eat all day, and I’m starving!”

“Let’s eat!”

Jin Mu-Won summoned the waiter, ordered several simple dishes, and sat down at a table by the window.

Outside, the downpour which had started earlier in the evening was getting heavier, with no sign that the rain would stop anytime soon. As they waited for their food to be served, Jin Mu-Won and Kwak Moon-Jung looked at the foggy scenery of Kunming City in the thunderstorm.

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Although Jin Mu-Won said nothing, the truth was, ever since hearing about Ha Jin-Wol’s opinion on the Yunnan situation, his feelings had been in complete disarray.

“There is a huge conspiracy going on here in Yunnan, and it’s not just a fight to take control of the province. If you get involved in this, no matter who you are, you will be swallowed up by the threads of fate.”

Jin Mu-Won was certain that Ha Jin-Wol knew something, but the scholar seemed reluctant to give him the details.

Nam Goon-Wi said something of the sort, too. However, he’s just a human weapon, not the one giving orders.

The possibility that the mastermind behind the Crimson Ghost Corps was also behind all the happenings in Yunnan was extremely high.

Regretfully, I failed to capture Nam Goon-Wi back then.

“Hyung!”

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Kwak Moon-Jung’s voice jolted Jin Mu-Won back to his senses.

“Huh? Did something happen to you?”

“Hyung, you really gave me a scare just now.”

“Me?”

“Yes!” Kwak Moon-Jung replied stiffly.

Unbeknown to Jin Mu-Won, he had released his aura in the inn while lost in thought, creating a pressure that suffocated both Kwak Moon-Jung and the waiter.

The terrified waiter walked toward Jin Mu-Won’s table, carrying several plates of food.

“S-Sir, your food is ready,” the waiter stuttered, his face as pale as a sheet. He then hurriedly placed the dishes down on the table and dashed back to the kitchen as fast as his legs could carry him.

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Jin Mu-Won could only smile bitterly upon seeing this. He felt like he should apologize for what he had done by accident.

“Shall we eat?”

“Yeah.”

The two young men quietly picked up their chopsticks.

Outside, the rain continued pouring like there was no tomorrow.

sep

The Yoo Family Clinic was famous in Kunming for being home to excellent acupuncturists. However, although Doctor Yoo was usually a very confident physician, today, cold sweat continually dripped down his back.

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“Doctor-nim, please treat me first!”

“Please wait a bit. This patient comes first.”

“It’s urgent! I can’t stand the pain anymore!”

“Okay okay, I’ll be right there.”

The deafening screams of more than twenty heavily wounded patients echoed around the clinic. However, unfortunately for Doctor Yoo, these weren’t ordinary patients, but armed martial artists. Their wounds also weren’t normal injuries; they were inflicted by various vicious weapons.

He felt like his soul had been sucked dry by their arrival. He had mobilized all of his disciples to help cope with the workload, but it was still too much. Furthermore, his disciples weren’t experienced enough to treat most of these wounds.

In the end, the unending cries of pain and pleas for help turned the small clinic into a scene of pandemonium.

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Damn it! If these bastards weren’t backed by the White Dragon Merchant Association, I would definitely have chased them out. Why do I have to suffer like this in the wee hours of the morning!?

The people that he was currently treating were the injured escorts from the White Dragon caravan which had been assaulted by red-armored warriors on their way to Yunnan.

One of the escorts, whose name was Seo Jo-Kyung, had been slashed by a sword in the stomach, and pus was currently oozing out through the bandages wrapped around his wound. Unable to endure the agonizing pain, he screamed for Doctor Yoo, “Please hurry up, Doctor-nim! KUAAAAAAAK!”

Unfortunately for Seo Jo-Kyung, Doctor Yoo only paid him lip service and ignored his cries to treat people he felt needed to be prioritized.

Seo Jo-Kyung’s face paled as he shrieked, “AHHHHH!”

“Fine, fine, I’m coming,” said a doctor as he approached Seo Jo-Kyung.

Seo Jo-Kyung dimly nodded in thanks, his eyes blurry from the intense pain.

The doctor untied the escort’s bandage and examined the wound. “Hmm…your wound is infected. However, this couldn’t have been done by a normal sword; you must have been hit by a greatsword or some other large weapon.”

“Doctor-nim, c-can you f-fix me up?”

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“Don’t worry, you won’t end up crippled. I think.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry, what I meant was, you won’t die from this. Huhuhu!”

Seo Jo-Kyung raised his head to shoot a warning look at the doctor treating him, but he was so dizzy that he couldn’t focus on the man’s face.

Meanwhile, the doctor muttered to himself, “No martial art of the Central Plains is this vicious. It won’t be easy to fully recover from a wound like this. The martial art that did this was designed to cripple even if it failed to kill. Unbelievable, a group that uses martial arts like this still exists in the current gangho?”

“Doctor-nim, please treat me…”

“Ahh, don’t worry. You’re not going to die for some time.”

“That’s why you have to treat me…KUAAAAAK!

“You’ll be fine.”

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“AHHHHHH!”

The doctor wrapped up Seo Jo-Kyung’s stomach with clean bandages and stood up. Although the treatment was brief and simple, Seo Jo-Kyung’s pain had been significantly reduced and pus had stopped oozing out from the wound.

Seo Jo-Kyung wanted to thank the doctor who had treated him, but for some reason, he couldn’t find the man anywhere. He had vanished!

A long time later, Doctor Yoo finally walked toward Seo Jo-Kyung. He unwrapped the escort’s bandages, then frowned, asking, “Huh? Hey, who treated you?”

Blood had stopped flowing from Seo Jo-Kyung’s ugly wound. The work wasn’t quite professional, but the standard of treatment was not much worse than his own.

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“Just now, there was another doctor…”

“Another…doctor?” Doctor Yoo said, puzzled. He was the only doctor in the Yoo Family Clinic, and none of his disciples were this good yet!

“Who in the world did this!?”

sep

A doctor walked out from the Yoo Family Clinic and scratched his head. In that instant, his face suddenly aged another twenty years, transforming from a middle-aged man to an elderly person.

“This is labor exploitation. Damn it! Even I need some time to rest, you know?” the old man grumbled in an indistinct voice. Unlike his appearance, though, his voice was as energetic as that of a young man.

His name was Cheong-In, and he was an elite member of the Secret Moon, a squad made up of the top thousand spies in the Black Moon spy organization.2 Furthermore, within the Black Moon, he was known as “Ten Steps Ten Transformations”, a nickname given to him for his ability to transform into ten completely different people every ten steps he took. One moment, he could be an old person, and the next, a child. He could even turn into any gender he wanted.

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The only person who knew his true appearance was the leader of the Black Moon.

Not long ago, he had just finished a mission in Yueyang,3 but he had then immediately been dispatched to Yunnan for his next mission.

Suddenly, he rubbed his left leg.

“Oww, that hurts! No matter how important the mission is, people need time to rest. Not to mention, I get paid peanuts even though I’m being worked to death. This is labor exploitation I tell you…Tsk!”

The injury he had gotten in his previous mission still stung with pain, and though it did not affect his movement, it was extremely annoying.

“They want me to not only track down the mysterious bad guys hiding in Yunnan, but also keep an eye on Jin Mu-Won at the same time? Do they think that I’m capable of making clones of myself? Fucking lunatics who have never been out on the field before always give out these ridiculous orders!”

Still, although Cheong-In liked to complain a lot, he treated all of his missions with absolute seriousness.

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Over the last few days, he had traced the footsteps of the White Dragon Merchant Association from the point where they had entered Yunnan all the way to Kunming, and found that they had been ambushed by unidentified enemies not far from the Yunnan checkpost.

He had then closely examined the traces left behind at the battleground, and deduced the strength of the enemies the White Dragon caravan had faced. As it turned out, these enemies appeared far stronger than he had thought, to the point where it wasn’t normal.

Nevertheless, this conclusion was based only on circumstantial speculation. He needed solid evidence, so he returned to Kunming and disguised himself as a doctor at the clinic where the injured White Dragon escorts were being treated.

His inspection of Seo Jo-Kyung’s wounds confirmed his suspicions, and also told him the kind of martial arts that the attackers had used. He didn’t know who would take an interest in such minor information, but as a professional spy, he understood that it was often these small bits of information that added up to reveal the big picture.

As of now, he’d failed to identify the attackers, but he had at least obtained some clues about them.

“Okay, so now I have to start observing the man named Jin Mu-Won. I wonder which face I should use?” Cheong-In’s eyes lit up mischievously, a look that was completely and utterly out of place on his current old man’s face.

He glanced though a window of the Peace-Loving Inn and found his target drinking wine at a table.

“Hmm…”

The corners of his mouth turned upwards in a grin.


Footnotes:

  1. Yuxi: Yuxi (玉溪) is a prefecture-level city in the central part of Yunnan province, China. The administrative center of Yuxi is Hongta District. Yuxi is approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) south of Kunming. 

  2. Black Moon, Secret Moon: See chapter 71. 

  3. Yueyang (岳陽): A city between the eastern shores of the Dongting Lake and the Yangtze River in Hunan Province, China. 

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