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


Jin Mu-Won and Kwak Moon-Jung left the inn early in the morning, with Cheong-In trailing behind them.

When they reached the market street, Jin Mu-Won paused and looked around. Although the place was rather quiet, to the point where one could even call it deserted, some of the shops were still open for business. Still, despite the large varieties of goods displayed on the shelves, few people were buying them, and the merchants appeared gloomy.

As expected, the appearance of the madmen had badly affected Yuxi’s economy, but at least to Jin Mu-Won, knowing the reason for something did not mean that he could accept things as they were.

With a frown on his face, he resumed walking.

“Fuck! How did I, a Heaven-ranked agent of the Black Moon, end up like this…” Cheong-In grumbled under his breath as he followed Jin Mu-Won.

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Not only had he been caught red-handed on a spying mission, he now had to accompany Jin Mu-Won. If the Black Moon ever found out about this, he would never be able to bring himself to look them in the eye.

“It’s all that sword’s fault. If I hadn’t been bewitched by that sword…” Cheong-In’s eyes drifted toward Snow Flower, which was strapped to Jin Mu-Won’s waist. Even now, every time he recalled what Snow Flower had done to him, shivers would run down his spine. Never in his dreams had he thought that he would be hypnotized by a sword one day.

Suddenly, he felt an itch on one side of his face, as if someone’s eyes were focused on him. Furious, he hollered, “Do I look like a caged monkey to you? Why are you staring at me?”

Kwak Moon-Jung shrugged as he apologized, “S-Sorry, I just thought that it was amazing.”

“What?”

“Is that your real face?” Kwak Moon-Jung asked. He was genuinely curious about Cheong-In’s appearance. Just yesterday, they spy had worn the face of a teenage waiter, but today, he looked like a middle-aged man in his fifties. He had even grown a whole foot taller and gained a beer belly.

I just can’t believe what I’m seeing, it doesn’t make any sense! He can change his face by wearing a mask, but how on earth did he alter his physique that drastically?

Cheong-In snorted, “Hmph!”

In an instant, he changed his appearance again. This time, he was a healthy, striking man in his thirties.

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“Woah!” Shocked speechless, Kwak Moon-Jung could only blink his big eyes in wonder.

“I sometimes even forget what my real face looks like, so you’re better off not asking me that kind of question,” Cheong-In smugly said. His nickname wasn’t the “Ten Steps Ten Transformations (十步十變)” for nothing, as with Kwak Moon-Jung’s level of martial arts, seeing through his transformation was impossible.

The real problem is that person…! Cheong-In glanced at Jin Mu-Won, who immediately sensed his gaze and sent him a look of recognition even though his appearance was completely different from a moment ago. The worst thing is, I just can’t figure out how he’s doing it!

Damn it! Even though I’m supposed to be a spy, I’ve been caught hook, line, and sinker. What kind of fucked up situation is this!?

As they walked, Cheong-In noticed that Jin Mu-Won never, ever bothered checking on him. That pissed him off even more.

“Hmph! Hmph!” He snorted over and over again. He had been quite confident in his martial arts, right up until Jin Mu-Won trashed him one-sidedly without even drawing his sword.

He narrowed his eyes, sinking into deep thought.

As Branch Manager Mae guessed, he’s no ordinary warrior. In this entire murim, the only youngsters who can possibly match him all belong to the Seven Junior Skies.

Despite that, everything about Jin Mu-Won is a mystery. His origins, his martial arts, and his goals are all unknown. It’s as if he just fell out of the sky one day, and not even the Black Moon can dig up any information on him.

Regardless, he’s the target of our investigation now, and the way of the Black Moon is to keep going until we find out everything there is to know about Jin Mu-Won: his birthplace, family, history, personality, right down to his embarrassing moments; we’ll learn them all.

“Pfft!” Jin Mu-Won failed to stifle his laughter. Cheong-In’s cat-like face when he was lost in thought was just way too funny.

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Jerked back to his senses, Cheong-In asked in a confused voice, “By the way, what are we doing right now?”

For some unknown reason, all they had done since early morning was randomly stroll around the streets of Yuxi. Jin Mu-Won sometimes browsed the goods on display, but he never bought anything. At first, Cheong-In thought that he simply hadn’t found anything he liked, but as time passed, he realized that Jin Mu-Won was purely window shopping.

In truth, Kwak Moon-Jung was wondering the exact same thing. The Jin Mu-Won he knew was not a man who would splurge on luxury goods, and they were already well-stocked up on basic necessities. Still, he hadn’t dared bring up the question, because Jin Mu-Won always acted with a purpose in mind, even if that purpose wasn’t immediately apparent.

Suddenly, Jin Mu-Won paused and looked at a stall in a corner of the market district. There, an old merchant sold every kind of item imaginable, including goods that normally could only be found in the Central Plains.

As he stared closely at the merchant’s wares, the merchant delightedly asked, “See anything you like?”

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“This one,” Jin Mu-Won said, picking up an iron sword with antique carvings on the hilt. In his eyes, this was such a well-made sword that he couldn’t believe it was being sold at a street market stall.

He pulled out the sword and took a closer look. Unlike the fancy hilt, the blade was cracked in multiple places as if someone had fought with it before. Still, as long as it was repaired, the sword could still be used for a very long time.

The merchant grinned broadly, showing his yellowed teeth, and said, “Haha! You’ve chosen quite the amazing item indeed! You can have it for three silvers.”

“That’s too expensive.”

“Fine then, if you think it’s too expensive, go somewhere else.”

“Okay.” Jin Mu-Won put the sword back.

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However, this only made the merchant cry out in panic, “Hey hey hey? Are you just going to leave like that?”

“Weren’t you the one who told me to go somewhere else if I thought that the sword was too expensive?”

“Argh, damn it! Two silvers. I can’t go any lower than that.”

“I’ll give you three silvers if you answer my questions.”

“Questions?” The merchant’s ears perked up.

“Where did you get this sword?”

“Is that important?”

“I’m just curious.”

“That…” the merchant hesitated.

Jin Mu-Won reached into his chest pocket and took out more money, saying, “If you answer me, I’ll give you three more silvers.”

That added up to a total of six silvers, twice the original price of the sword. Not understanding why Jin Mu-Won was paying such an exorbitant price for a sword, Cheong-In and Kwak Moon-Jung simply watched him quietly.

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For a moment, the merchant stared at the money in Jin Mu-Won’s hands, but finally he caved in to his greed and answered, “Not long ago, a huge influx of goods appeared on the black market. That was where I bought this sword.”

“The black market?”

“Yeah, it only opens occasionally, but recently, a lot of quality goods started being sold there. I’m not the only one buying things from there though, more than half the merchants in Yuxi are guilty of that.”

“Do you know when the black market will open again?”

“I’m not sure. Could be tonight, could be a few months later.”

“Then, could you tell me where it is held?” Jin Mu-Won waggled the silvers in front of the merchant, whose eyes instantly sparkled with greed.

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“If you head north from here, you’ll find a road called the Black Tortoise Street (玄武路). The black market takes place at the vacant lot at the end of that street.”

“Thank you.” Jin Mu-Won tossed six silvers to the merchant and left, iron sword in hand.

Now that the deal was done, Kwak Moon-Jung couldn’t suppress his curiosity anymore, so he asked, “Hyung, how could you buy a sword like that for six whole silvers?”

Contrary to Kwak Moon-Jung’s confusion, though, Cheong-In carefully observed the sword in Jin Mu-Won’s hands, having discovered something of note. He muttered, “That sword…perhaps?”

“Swords like these are a rare sight in Yunnan.”

The warriors of different provinces tended to prefer different weapons, and this was heavily influenced by the region’s terrain and climate. For example, thick and heavy dao were a lot more common in Yunnan than elegant swords due to its extensive forests, which sometimes needed to be cut through.

Even those who used swords in Yunnan, such as the martial artists of the Diancang Sect, chose weapons that were heavier and balanced more toward the hilt than the conventional swords of the Central Plains. This made their blades a lot more suited to slashing and cutting rather than thrusting.

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However, the sword that Jin Mu-Won had just bought was clearly not a heavy sword like that.

Cheong-In borrowed the sword from Jin Mu-Won and examined it in detail, saying, “I doubt this sword was crafted in Yunnan. Swords here tend to be heavier and shorter.”

“It was made in the Central Plains, probably in a region north of Hunan,” Jin Mu-Won added. As an excellent blacksmith himself, he could tell what type of iron the blade was made from just by flicking it with his finger.

That was because every region had their own iron smelting method, resulting in slight differences in the final material composition and structure. Most people would never be able to distinguish the origins of a piece of metal, but to a professional-level blacksmith, the differences were as clear as day.

“As we explored the market district, I noticed many products originating from the Central Plains. Isn’t that odd? Not many merchant caravans have dared to enter Yunnan lately,” Jin Mu-Won explained. The discrepancy between the amount of trade goods being imported into Yunnan and the availability of items had bothered him considerably.

“You’re quite astute, aren’t you?” Cheong-In couldn’t help but exclaim. The three of them had been walking down the same streets and seeing the same sights, but only Jin Mu-Won was perceptive enough to notice the little anomalies. It was as if they were seeing the world from completely different perspectives.

Meanwhile, Kwak Moon-Jung, who was clearly out of the loop, glanced alternately at Jin Mu-Won and Cheong-In, waiting for an explanation. However, he soon lost his patience and complained, “Hey, can you two explain all that in a way that I understand?”

Cheong-In clicked his tongue in irritation, then replied, “Tsk, is that frizzy hair of yours actually hiding a small brain? Use your head. Things that are supposed to be of limited supply in Yunnan have instead appeared in large quantities. What could that mean?”

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“The stuff has to have come from somewhere, right?”

“So, where could it have come from? Next time, think before you ask such stupid questions, dumbass.”

“Wait, are you trying to say that…?” Kwak Moon-Jung froze. Only now did he realize the implications of Jin Mu-Won’s observation.

“It’s exactly what you’re thinking. The people who kidnapped the merchants sold their goods on the black market. This sword must have belonged to one of the caravan escorts.”

Although many people had been mobilized to search for the missing caravans, until now, no one had found any clues on their whereabouts, not even the Black Moon. However, all it had taken Jin Mu-Won was one morning walk in order to uncover a vital clue.

To Cheong-In, that revelation came down like a bolt from the blue. He now had no choice but to see Jin Mu-Won in a new light.

It’s not just his martial arts that are amazing, this guy’s intuition is downright scary.

While most people simply focused on tracking the missing people’s footsteps and searching for traces, Jin Mu-Won had chosen a wholly unconventional approach, and it paid off.

Such an ability wasn’t something that could be taught or trained, it was inborn.

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It seems that Jin Mu-Won is a much harder person to deal with than I originally thought…

SHUDDER!

A sudden shiver ran down Cheong-In’s spine, and a feeling of uneasiness settled in his heart. He doubted that it would go away very soon.

Jin Mu-Won turned toward Cheong-In and wordlessly locked gazes with him.

Cheong-In immediately understood what the young man wanted. “I’ll take over from now on. Give me an hour to collect all the information available on the black market,” he offered.

Now that they had a breakthrough in the investigation, the hard part was over. The rest of the information they needed could easily be obtained through the Black Moon’s network.

Jin Mu-Won’s gaze turned toward the north, where the Black Tortoise Street was.

Finally, I’ve gotten one step closer to the bottom of this.

However, unknown to him, the storm was only just beginning.

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