Chapter 106: Worth More than a Life (3)
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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
With a deafening crash, the Clear Sky Hall, the largest pavilion in the Baek Family Manor, collapsed, kicking up a huge cloud of dust.
“ARGHHH!” Cheong-In screamed, having narrowly escaped from being crushed underneath the falling rubble. The exit from the secret passage was under the Clear Sky Hall, and if the Hall itself had collapsed, that could only mean that the underground space beneath it had also crumbled.
Cheong-In’s eyes went wide with terror. If he had delayed escaping just a moment longer, he would be dead.
“Wait, what about that guy?” he mumbled, wondering if Jin Mu-Won, who was facing off against the Black-Winged Divine Spear, had survived.
That was no ordinary battle. It was a clash between the Silent Night and the Northern Army, and a signal that heralded the resurrection of both legends. Moreover, like it or not, he would now be associated with Jin Mu-Won and dragged into the mess.
Cheong-In shuddered, and his heart sank. “All of the information that I collected before is now useless. I’ll need to start over from scratch. Damn, that’s harsh. I can’t do this alone.”
Suddenly, a tremor disturbed the wreckage of the Clear Sky Hall. Cheong-In raised his arms in defense and gathered as much qi as he could.
A hand creepily popped out of the rubble, followed by a man covered in dust from head to toe. It was Jin Mu-Won.
“You’re alive!” Cheong-In exclaimed.
For the first time ever, Jin Mu-Won looked pathetic. Dust and dirt had gotten into his open wounds, and his reddish-brown martial arts outfit was torn to rags.
“Keuk!” With a groan, Jin Mu-Won fell on one knee. There was a hole the size of a coin in his side, as if a spinning drill was shoved through his body. He hurriedly applied pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding, but to no avail.
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Cheong-In immediately rushed over to him, asking, “Hey, are you okay?”
“No, I’m not,” Jin Mu-Won growled, taking out a wooden box from his chest pocket with trembling hands. Although the slight movement opened his wounds and intensified his bleeding, this was his last chance at survival. The box was the parting gift he had received from Tang Gi-Mun when they went their separate ways near the Tyrant Fist Sect, and contained the Red Silver Elixir (紅銀神丹).1
Jin Mu-Won swallowed the Red Silver Elixir and began to meditate, while Cheong-In watched him with mixed feelings.
To think that this man was the heir to the Northern Army all along… I previously wrote him off as just another wanderer or hermit who doesn’t have much influence over the gangho despite his ridiculous martial arts. But if he’s the successor to the Northern Army, that changes everything.
There are still many people in the gangho who support the Northern Army, and if they start gathering around Jin Mu-Won… No, Heaven’s Summit would never allow that. Once his existence becomes a threat to them, they’ll eliminate him.
Cheong-In’s mind swirled. He could already see Jin Mu-Won altering the status quo of the gangho. He lost himself in thought for a long time, but in the end, he came to a conclusion.
Regardless of what happens in the future, we have to first cover up the fact that this man is the last heir to the Northern Army. The resurrection of the Silent Night is already enough to spread mass confusion, and throwing Jin Mu-Won into the mix would be like adding fuel to the fire.
I’ll have to make up a fake past for him. I won’t be able to fool Heaven’s Summit forever, but it should suffice for the time being. Additionally, if I can get the Black Moon’s cooperation, altering his background would be easy, but I’ll have to think up a good excuse to convince them… No, as long as I tell them the truth about Jin Mu-Won’s existence causing more chaos in the gangho, they’ll definitely help me.
Cheong-In’s heart raced as he shot Jin Mu-Won a complicated look filled with both excitement and anxiety. The Swordsman from the North…The Northern Blade, will you be a harbinger of turbulent times or a lamp that brightens up the world?
The winds blew outwards from Yunnan, carrying an unbelievable rumor with them: The Silent Night had returned. Their last sign of activity was ten years ago, when they had made a brief appearance at the Northern Army Fortress, but it seemed that this time, they were here to stay.
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The contents of the rumor spoke of the large number of casualties caused by the fight between the Silent Night and the Tyrant Fist Sect, turning Yuxi into a city of death. This rumor, whose origin was unknown, quickly spread throughout the Central Plains like wildfire, sending the gangho into a panic.
For the first time in decades, the crippling fear that had gripped the masses in times long past was reignited, and Heaven’s Summit went on high alert.
Meanwhile, stories also spread of a young swordsman from the North who appeared in the vicinity of Kongtong Sect, near the border between Gansu and Sichuan, and overpowered the first-class disciples of Kongtong as well as their First Senior Brother Mu-Jin. After that, he traveled south to Yunnan, rescued the Tang Clan warriors from the Crimson Ghost Squad along the way, and then played an instrumental role in the Battle of Yuxi.
His sword technique was unlike anything the world had ever seen before, and his strength unrivaled, among his peers. Besides the fact that his name was Jin Mu-Won, and that he hailed from the North, everything about his past was shrouded in mystery.
Thus, people started referring to him as the “Northern Blade (北劍)”.
However, not everyone agreed that the Northern Blade surpassed, or was equal to the Seven Junior Skies, the best young warriors in the gangho. The Seven Junior Skies all had powerful sects and clans behind them, which meant that not only were they good at martial arts, they also wielded significant political influence. It was unfair to compare the Northern Blade, a lone wanderer, with privileged folks like that.
Still, most people acknowledged that the Northern Blade definitely ranked among the top young martial artists in the murim and began to talk about him more, especially since he had taken part in the fight against the resurrected Silent Night.
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Unknown to most, the origin of the rumor, a certain Black Moon spy named Cheong-In, was using the resources of the Black Moon to travel all over the Central Plains and announce Jin Mu-Won’s existence to the world, engraving the young man into the annals of murim history.
Said young man, however, was more concerned with other issues, such as his missing uncle Hwang Cheol.
A few days after the Battle of Yuxi, Jin Mu-Won inspected his wounds. After ingesting Tang Gi-Mun’s Red Silver Elixir, his internal injuries were almost completely healed. In addition, the elixir had also boosted his qi and increased his resistance to poisons. As for his external injuries, although they weren’t completely healed, they had stopped bleeding and scabbed over. In his current state, traveling should be possible.
Suddenly, Kwak Moon-Jung opened the door and entered, holding a ragged set of reddish-brown clothes. “I’m done fixing it up, Hyung,” he said, unfolding the mended clothes and showing them to Jin Mu-Won.
The needlework was shoddy, and the remains of the original cloth made up less than half of the final mended robe, the rest being made up of patches. Although Kwak Moon-Jung had tried his best to fix the badly damaged clothes, he was clearly no tailor.
It’s the thought that counts. Impressed, Jin Mu-Won took the outfit from the boy, put it on without hesitation, and said, “I’m truly blessed to call you my younger brother. Thank you.”
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“Ehehe!” Kwak Moon-Jung giggled. As Jin Mu-Won had previously told him that his clothes were a gift from Hwang Cheol, he’d taken the initiative to mend the clothes even if he had to pull an all-nighter.
Jin Mu-Won looked at Kwak Moon-Jung. Within the span of a few days, the teenager had matured remarkably. His eyes seemed more contemplative, and his face brimmed with resolve. Although the cruelty of the Tyrant Fist Sect and the Silent Night had shaken him to his core, it had also inadvertently helped him reflect on himself and his motivations.
Besides his mental growth, Kwak Moon-Jung’s martial arts had also improved noticeably. The boy’s helplessness as he witnessed the brutality in Yuxi spurred him on to train furiously for the last few days, culminating in a significant breakthrough.
Jin Mu-Won gladly accepted Kwak Moon-Jung’s change. There was no way he could fault the boy for earnestly pursuing the path that he had chosen.
He strapped Snow Flower to his waist and walked out of the Peace Inn, where he had been staying with Kwak Moon-Jung ever since they had first entered Yuxi. Many homes and structures were destroyed or burned down during the massacre, but fortunately, the inn was one of the few that were spared.
As he left the building, he turned toward a strange old man sweeping the yard and said, “Thank you.”
“H-Huh? Do I know you?”
Instead of answering, Jin Mu-Won simply smiled knowingly.
The old man’s face instantly soured. “Ahh, I’m going to go crazy. How did you find out? My disguise is perfect!”
As it turned out, the old man was actually Cheong-In in disguise.
Kwak Moon-Jung’s jaw dropped. How on earth does Hyung recognize him right away every single time? I just can’t get used to his constantly changing appearance!
Opposite him, Cheong-In was no less confused. I’ve tested my disguises on countless people, including martial masters, but I have never been discovered before! How the hell is Jin Mu-Won immediately seeing through all of my perfect disguises?
Suddenly, a large, noisy group of martial artists disembarked from five horse wagons and entered the inn. Jin Mu-Won and Kwak Moon-Jung glanced at them out of curiosity and realized that they knew these people.
Similarly, the warriors also noticed them. “What a coincidence! Are you guys staying here too? It’s good to see you again, huhu!” one of them said.
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“It’s good to see you too, Commander Yong,” Jin Mu-Won said, then greeted the rest of the group, which consisted of the Iron Brigade led by Yong Mu-Sung and the White Dragon Merchant Association led by Gong Jin-Sung and Yoon Seo-In.
Contrary to their boisterous leader, Jongri Mu-Hwan and the other members of the Iron Brigade were visibly disgruntled at running into Jin Mu-Won, though they still sullenly returned the young man’s greeting as if they had been forced into it.
“I’ve been hearing a lot about you and your accomplishments these past couple of days. You’ve gone and really made a name for yourself!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Wait, didn’t you know? Everyone’s talking about you, the new star of the gangho. They’re calling you the ‘Northern Blade (北劍)’, seriously, the Northern Blade!”
Jin Mu-Won slowly turned to stare at Cheong-In, who hurriedly avoided his gaze and pretended to be sweeping the yard.
“Why are there so many fallen leaves? There’s no end to it. Oh my!”
Seeing Cheong-In’s poor attempt to hide his culpability, Kwak Moon-Jung clapped a hand over his mouth to hide his laughter.
“Anyway, I’m glad I ran into you.”
“Did you get the information you wanted from the Tyrant Fist Sect?”
Yong Mu-Sung shook his head, replying, “Don’t even mention that shithole. Those bastards literally kicked us out of there.”
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“Just as we were about to finalize our agreement with the Tyrant Fist Sect, a bunch of warriors from Heaven’s Summit suddenly came charging in and blamed them for the Yuxi Massacre. Thanks to that, I doubt the Tyrant Fist Sect will be open to outsiders for a while…”
“Well, even if Heaven’s Summit hadn’t shown up, the public has already lost faith in the Tyrant Fist Sect. Evidence against them is being found one after another, and with the death of Yeop Pyung, the person-in-charge of the Yuxi dispatch, the Tyrant Fist Sect doesn’t have a scapegoat to shove the blame on.”
“Still, although the tensions between Heaven’s Summit and the Tyrant Fist Sect seem to have reached a climax, I don’t think they’ll actually come to blows. There’s definitely a huge divide between them that won’t be healed for a very long time though. What a headache.”
Jin Mu-Won narrowed his eyes. Judging from this, the seeds that Geum Dan-Yeop sowed are already starting to sprout. Is this worldwide chaos the thing you considered worth more than your own life?
Proofreader’s Note: First chapter of the new year! Hope you all had a great 2022 and cheers to an even better 2023 and onwards.
Red Silver Elixir (紅銀神丹): See Chapter 82. ↩
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