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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
Most religious institutions were located deep in the mountains or far away from populated cities and towns, as this made it easier for the ascetics to abstain from worldly temptations. However, the Nine Dragons Temple (九龍寺) was located in the Yuxi city center, and was famous for their grand thirteen-story stone pagoda, known as the Nine Dragons Pagoda.
If one climbed to the top of the Nine Dragons Pagoda, one would be able to take in the sights of the whole of Yuxi. For that reason, it was a must-visit tourist attraction for any new visitor to the city.
Normally, the Nine Dragons Pagoda would be crammed with traveling pilgrims and curious tourists, but right now, the usual crowds had been replaced by a large band of martial artists.
One of those martial artists stood on the roof, looking down at Yuxi. He was a short, slightly hunchbacked man with a common, unremarkable face. However, anyone who knew who he truly was would never describe him as ordinary.
He was Yeop Pyung, the commander of the Eye of Heaven and closest aide of Jo Cheon-Woo, the Sect Leader of the Tyrant Fist Sect.
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The cacophony in the city constantly assaulted his ears, interspersed with the shrill shrieks of people ripping through the deathly silence of the night. The street lamps had been lit up even though it was long past bedtime, and the hunt for the people behind the black market was in full swing.
It had all begun when the Blizzard Squad tracked down Yoon Moon-Cheon. That ruthless group had then spared no effort in going after him, destroying everything that stood in their way. Unfortunately, their enemy was also not to be underestimated.
Random assassins dressed as civilians started to appear all over the city. One moment, an old lady would throw a hidden weapon, and the next, a housewife would launch a surprise attack with a kitchen knife. Unable to distinguish between normal people and assassins, the Blizzard Squad’s actions became greatly hampered, and several of their members had even fallen prey to the assassins.
However, this did not stop the Blizzard Squad. They simply deemed anyone they saw as an enemy, slaughtering even innocent civilians in their heated pursuit. They smashed any building in their path, and murdered the people in their beds.
As a result, it wasn’t long before the whole of Yuxi had descended into chaos.
Yeop Pyung emotionlessly watched all of that happen from the roof of the Nine Dragons Pagoda. Innocents were dying by the hundreds, but he didn’t give a crap about them. Punishing the ones who had dared to scheme against the Tyrant Fist Sect was much more important.
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After all, the Tyrant Fist Sect was the party that had suffered the most with the disappearance of the merchant caravans, and it wasn’t simply limited to economic damage. The loss of trust and reputation among their clients were going to affect them for many years to come.
To make things worse, the ongoing situation had given Heaven’s Summit an excuse to intervene in the affairs of Yunnan, the land they had received in exchange for betraying the Northern Army. Although they had indeed worked with Heaven’s Summit before, the truth remained that every faction only ever operated according to its own interests, and a conflict would inevitably arise someday.
That was why thus far, Jo Cheon-Woo had done his best to prevent Heaven’s Summit’s interference. However, as more and more merchant caravans disappeared and he failed to produce any results on the investigation, all of his hard work turned out to be for naught.
Therefore, when he heard that Heaven’s Summit was sending an investigation team to Yunnan, he immediately ordered Yeop Pyung, “Track down the culprits and eliminate them at any cost. We need to resolve this whole problem before Heaven’s Summit shows up.”
As Jo Cheon-Woo emphasized, he wanted the culprits caught “at any cost”. In other words, as long as the deed was done, he did not care how many innocents died in the process.
Yeop Pyung immediately intensified his efforts, but searching for a hidden enemy was hardly a straightforward task, and this enemy, in particular, seemed very experienced at erasing their traces. As a result, even though he had easily identified Yuxi as the enemy’s base of operations, from that point on, his investigation progress had come to a complete standstill.
To him, that could only mean one thing.
They’ve got a lot of accomplices in Yuxi helping them cover up their movements.
Unfortunately, not even Yeop Pyung could estimate just how many accomplices there were. It could be only a few people, or it could be hundreds. In the end, he settled on reporting his findings and conjectures to Jo Cheon-Woo and letting his master make the final decisions.
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Not surprisingly, Jo Cheon-Woo was infuriated.
“Eradicate everyone involved in shady activities and their accomplices, even if you have to wipe Yuxi off the map,” he said.
As ordered, Yeop Pyung began looking into all shady activities taking place within Yuxi, and like Jin Mu-Won, he soon noticed the unusually frequent black market activity. Further investigation revealed that the goods sold at the black market matched up with the ones the missing merchants were transporting.
Now that he had a lead, the hunt could finally commence. All he had left to do was punish the ones who dared challenge the authority of the Tyrant Fist Sect.
Yeop Pyung turned around to face a group of warriors dressed all in black. They were the undercover warriors that the Tyrant Fist Sect had secretly brought into Yuxi and gathered at the Nine Dragons Temple. In order to keep their existence under wraps, not even Jo Un-Kyung, the Young Master of the Tyrant Fist Sect, was informed about them.
“Let’s get started.”
The warriors split up into small teams and quickly scattered all over Yuxi.
Yeop Pyung watched them go, mumbling to himself, “All will be as my Liege wishes.”
That day, a rain of blood fell over Yuxi.
Im Soo-Kwang sat cross-legged, working on his favored weapon, the Silver-Scaled Gauntlet’s regular maintenance. Like its name suggested, the Silver-Scaled Gauntlets (銀鱗殺匣) was made by forging Tempered Darksteel (百鍊墨鋼) into chainmail, resulting in durability comparable to a renowned sword while at the same time enhancing the power of his fist techniques.
Once Im Soo-Kwang had his gauntlets on, he was confident that except for Jo Cheon-Woo, few people in the Tyrant Fist Sect could defeat him. However, he also rarely wore his gauntlets, because even without them, most people were no match for him.
Normally, he was most relaxed when maintaining the Silver-Scaled Gauntlets. The work was like meditation to him; a means of communicating and improving his synergy with his weapon. Right now, though, he couldn’t shake off the feeling that he’d missed something really important.
“Sigh! I just can’t calm down.”
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When did this restlessness start? Was it when I entered Yuxi? No…it started right after I met the man named Jin Mu-Won!
That was a name deeply associated with his inner demons.
At first, Im Soo-Kwang had tried not to think too hard as “Jin Mu-Won” wasn’t exactly an uncommon name. However, the harder he tried to ignore it, the more it bothered him.
“It can’t be. He’s dead. Even Heaven’s Summit concluded that he’s dead. So why…”
Why do I keep feeling this tightness in my chest?
Im Soo-Kwang recalled Jin Mu-Won’s face. The young man’s deep-seated eyes, pursed lips, and chiseled facial features were nothing like the boy in his memories.
Still, he wavered. The Northern Army had disbanded more than a decade ago, and his memories of the people back then had faded with the passing of time.
That made him all the more frustrated.
“Hoo…” he sighed again.
When he had first left the Northern Army for the Central Plains, he hadn’t regretted his decision at all. Rather, he’d felt like he had been freed from his chains and could now chase his heroic ambitions.
However, ten years from then, that sense of freedom was long gone, replaced by a heavy weight on his conscience. Jo Cheon-Woo, the liege lord he followed, had changed a lot since then. Where once his liege had possessed a sense of justice and spirit of brotherhood, now all he wished for was authority and strength.
Im Soo-Kwang was increasingly disgusted by Jo Cheon-Woo’s behavior, and that did not escape Jo Cheon-Woo’s notice. As a result, Jo Cheon-Woo assigned him to an insignificant post to keep him at arm’s length.
That suited Im Soo-Kwang perfectly. He’d even volunteered himself to escort Tang Gi-Mun just so he could get away from Jo Cheon-Woo for a short time.
Im Soo-Kwang mulled over his meeting with Jin Mu-Won again, but as far as he could tell, the young man’s eyes betrayed no emotion whatsoever, neither resentment nor the curiosity of a stranger. That made him all the more confused.
“Is it really him? At least, I hope it’s him.”
He closed his eyes in contemplation. He wanted to know the truth. The guilt and anxiety were tearing him apart and making his head hurt.
Suddenly, a familiar voice cried out from outside the room, “Elder!”
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“Who is it?”
“I’m Song Kyung.”
Song Kyung was a young warrior of the Tyrant Fist Sect who had been dispatched together with him.
“Did something happen?”
“Yes. Please come out now and take a look.”
Sensing the urgency in Song Kyung’s voice, Im Soo-Kwang rose from his seat and left his room. The moment he opened the door, he was greeted by the young warrior’s panicked face.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“A big incident!”
“What kind of incident?” Im Soo-Kwang raised an eyebrow.
“Many unidentified warriors have engaged in a chase fight in the middle of the city, and they’ve already killed many innocent civilians.”
“What do you mean, ‘unidentified warriors’?”
As far as Im Soo-Kwang knew, there were no murim factions or sects that the Tyrant Fist Sect wasn’t aware of in Yuxi, which was part of their territory.
“Could it be related to the madmen? If so, we need to go take a look.”
The two men quickly rushed out of the Clear Moon Villa1 and onto the streets of Yuxi.
“Eh?!” Im Soo-Kwang gasped in shock and horror.
The street, which had been in pristine condition just the day before, now lay in ruins. Buildings everywhere had collapsed, and the ground was littered with dead bodies. On closer inspection, he could see that blood was still flowing from the slash wounds on the corpses, proof that they had only been killed moments before.
“Just who would do this…?”
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Im Soo-Kwang’s face flushed with murderous rage. He put on his Silver-Scaled Gauntlets, turned to Song Kyung, and commanded, “Protect Master Tang for me.”
“What about you, Elder?”
“I’m going after the murderers. Remember, Master Tang must not meet any harm even at the cost of your own life.”
“Yes Sir!” Song Kyung replied determinedly.
Im Soo-Kwang activated his foot technique and dashed after the murderers, following the traces they had left behind. As he flew past the streets, his face hardened at the sheer inhumanity and brutality of it all.
Everywhere he went, the streets were a painting of hell. Countless people lay on the ground, dead or severely injured. Although there were several armed warriors among the victims, most appeared to be innocent civilians.
“WAAAH! Mama, mama, please wake up!” screamed a child clinging onto his fallen mother.
The heart-wrenching cry pierced Im Soo-Kwang’s ears like a dagger being stabbed into his heart. He immediately picked up the pace, growling, “Unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable!”
Suddenly, he saw a warrior in black cut down another man.
“STOP!” he yelled, launching himself at the warrior in black.
Surprised, the warrior in black tried to take a step back, but he was too slow.
Im Soo-Kwang closed in on the warrior in black and unleashed the Unseen Palm of the Silver Dragon (銀龍無影掌), one of the techniques that had earned him the alias, “Eight-Armed Divine General (八臂神將)”.
The warrior in black swung his blade in an attempt to block Im Soo-Kwang’s palm technique, but it wasn’t enough.
Im Soo-Kwang shattered the warrior’s sword, struck him in the abdomen, and sent him flying.
“Who are you people?” Im Soo-Kwang shouted, grabbing the still-struggling warrior by the collar.
“Keuk!” The warrior coughed up blood.
Im Soo-Kwang stared hard at the warrior’s face. It was covered in blood, but the facial features were still discernable. Im Soo-Kwang’s eyes slowly widened in recognition.
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The warrior moaned, “Elder Im…”
“You’re…Jang Oh of the Iron Spirit Squad (鐵靈隊)? What are you doing here?”
Jang Oh’s face paled. “I was just obeying the Sect Leader’s orders,” he replied.
“The Sect Leader? Are you telling me that the Sect Leader ordered the Iron Spirit Squad to conduct a massacre?”
“Not only us. The Blizzard and Imperious Squads have also been mobilized.”
Those are the three squads directly under Jo Cheon-Woo. I know several of their members, but even I am not privy to their activities, thought Im Soo-Kwang, before asking, “Why is he doing this?”
“We’ve confirmed that our enemies are hiding in this city, posing as civilians, so he dispatched us here to kill them all.”
“Then, why are you killing innocent people as well?”
“Our top priority is killing all the enemies. To ensure that we get all of them and send them a stern warning not to mess with the Tyrant Fist Sect, the Sect Leader ordered us to slaughter everything that moves in Yuxi.”
“HE’S OUT OF HIS FUCKING MIND!”
Im Soo-Kwang stiffened. More than anyone else, he understood Jo Cheon-Woo’s barbaric, uncouth behavior. However, he never once thought that the man would stoop so low.
Even though he was still bleeding profusely, Jang Oh suddenly pleaded, “Elder, please don’t involve yourself in this. Our Sect is risking our future for the success of this operation.”
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“Innocent people are dying! By your hands!”
“Everything I do is for the sake of our Sect.”
“ENOUGH, YOU DAMN PUNK!” Im Soo-Kwang’s deafening roar echoed through the city, causing Jang Oh’s face to turn even paler.
He then looked up at the sky, lamenting, “Sect Leader, just what are you thinking? Is this really what you want?”
Clear Moon Villa: The Clear Moon Villa is the building name of the Tyrant Fist Sect Yuxi Branch, see chapter 92. ↩
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