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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
A change was occurring on the battlefield. The martial artists of the Iron Brigade, who had been pushed back since the beginning of the battle, began to recollect themselves.
[Seo Jin-hyung, step back and let Jin Yeop-hyung take your place. Jin Hong-hyung, shoot an arrow at the one on the right and hold him back.]
Jongri Mu-Hwan’s used voice transmission to send orders to the Iron Brigade Warriors, moving them into formation. However, there was no joy on his face. Ha Jin-Wol, who stood beside him, was the mastermind who had given all the instructions.
On the surface, nothing much seemed to be happening, but as time went by, the cooperation among the martial artists of the Tyrant Fist Sect began to break down. This resulted in their movements slowing down, giving the Iron Brigade a chance to solidify their defenses.
“The left flank is collapsing; send Vice-Commander Chae over there. That swordsman seems to be exhausted, so ask him to retreat for a bit and replace him with the hidden weapons wielder to balance things back out,” Ha Jin-Wol said.
Jongri Mu-Hwan immediately communicated his orders to the Iron Brigade warriors. The line of defense strengthened yet again, giving the tired martial artists some breathing room.
However, Ha Jin-wol’s orders just kept coming.
“Ask the wounded escorts to pull out from battle and move those wagons toward the large boulder on the right. I’ll tell you how to line up the wagons there.”
“Alright,” Jongri Mu-Hwan replied helplessly. The overwhelming difference in ability between himself and Ha Jin-Wol had unknowingly manifested itself in his passive demeanor.
Instead of being controlled by the situation, the scholar took charge of everything and adjusted it to his liking.
Damn it, just what does he see in this mess? Goosebumps rose all over Jongri Mu-Hwan’s body. He could tell that Ha Jin-Wol saw something beyond mere survival. Even in the midst of a chaotic battle where many people were dying, the scholar calmly grasped the situation and brought order to it.
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Suddenly, Ha Jin-Wol asked Tang Gi-Mun, “Do you have any Qi Dispersing Poison?”
Qi Dispersing Poison made it impossible for a martial artist to gather qi for a short period of time. It had little effect on peak experts, but was very useful against ordinary martial artists.
“I do, but I don’t think it will be of much use. Unless we can segregate our own warriors from the enemy, the Qi Dispersing Poison will become a double-edged sword.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that. Please give me the poison.”
“Okay…” Tang Gi-Mun took out a porcelain bottle from his chest pocket and handed it to Ha Jin-Wol, who calmly held it as he watched the battlefield unfold.
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The Iron Brigade warriors gradually retreated backwards, forming a circular defensive line like a spiny hedgehog. Although this made things harder for the Tyrant Fist Sect elites, however, time was on their side and the difference in power was overwhelming. The moment the Iron Brigade warriors began to tire, their defenses would crumble and the battle would turn into a one-sided slaughter.
It was a battle that absolutely could not be won… at least not by conventional means.
The problem is perspective. What I have to do is stall for time, not plan to win.
With Jin Mu-Won gone, they were at an absolute disadvantage. No strategy that Ha Jin-Wol could come up with would make up for the fact that they could not deal with the one martial master named Jo Cheon-Woo.
For now, Yong Mu-Sung was holding up against Jo Cheon-Woo, but the balance was precarious, like a flickering candle that could go out at any moment. Time was of the essence.
Going by the sun’s position, we have about half an hour left until noon, when the Yang energy is strongest. I can only pray he manages to last at least that long…
Ha Jin-Wol’s gaze shifted toward Kwak Moon-Jung, who was diligently planting flags on the outskirts of the battlefield. There were many moments when his life was at stake, but he overcame them all and planted the flag exactly where he was told to.
That boy seems dull at first glance, but to be able to have that kind of focus, especially in a crisis, is really something. He’s much more talented than I gave him credit for. Ha Jin-Wol raised his initial appraisal of Kwak Moon-Jung, unaware that he was one of only a small handful of people who saw anything in the boy.
After planting the seventh flag, Kwak Moon-Jung swiftly headed toward the next point, but found himself obstructed by a heavily muscled, six-foot tall Tyrant Fist Sect warrior. Seeing the powerful Fist Qi around the man’s hands, he instantly judged that his opponent was a peak-level martial artist and one of the strongest fighters among the enemies.
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He was correct. The man was Yang Moon-So, a famous barehanded warrior recognized by the Tyrant Fist Sect. For a while now, Yang Moon-So had watched curiously as Kwak Moon-Jung planted flags all around the battlefield.
“Kid, what are you doing?” he asked.
Instead of answering him, Kwak Moon-Jung raised his greatsword.
Yang Moon-So chuckled in amusement. “Heh, I guess it doesn’t matter whether you answer me or not. You’re going to die either way.”
Although Kwak Moon-Jung exuded quite a bit of strength, he was only a boy of twelve or thirteen. There was no way he could lose to a teenager who wasn’t even fully grown yet.
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“Take this!” Yang Moon-So shouted, throwing a punch at Kwak Moon-Jung.
Kwak Moon-Jung gritted his teeth. The punch hadn’t even reached him, and he could already feel the wind from the attack. His arms trembled and his heart beat wildly. His breathing quickened and the blood in his body rushed through his veins at many times its normal speed. Yang Moon-So’s killing intent pricked his skin.
It was as if he was facing the God of Death. He had felt something similar during the confrontation with the Kongtong Sect some time ago, but that was nothing compared to this. Moreover, there was no Jin Mu-Won by his side now.
He had to overcome this crisis alone.
If I fail to plant this flag, a lot of people will die.
He swung his greatsword.
Across from him, Yang Moon-So suddenly found himself unable to close the distance to the boy. The difference in their reach was too great. That left him no choice but to charge up his attacks with qi and strike from a distance.
With each blow, Kwak Moon-Jung felt like he was being hit by a tidal wave of sheer power, but he steadied himself and calmly deflected each attack with his greatsword.
BAM! BOOM! BANG!
Every time his greatsword clashed with his opponent’s fist qi, a loud explosion resulted, piercing his eardrums. With every new exchange, the impact increased, making his body tremble, and yet, he did not back down.
“Damned punk…!” Yang Moon-So cussed, enraged by the sight of Kwak Moon-Jung determinedly fending him off. He intensified his attacks, overwhelming the boy.
Soon, Kwak Moon-Jung’s clothes were torn to shreds and his body covered in wounds. Still, he remained on his feet.
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I won’t lose! I can endure this! I have to keep defending until the enemy tires and lets his guard down.
After following Jin Mu-Won for the last few months, he realized that in order to protect what he loved, he had to fight with everything he had, even if the difference in strength between himself and his enemy was absolute. As long as he did not give up, his chances of success, no matter how low, would never be zero.
Fortunately, his greatsword was very well-made and able to withstand Yang Moon-So’s qi. Moreover, the wide sword doubled as a shield and protected his entire body.
Conversely, compared to Kwak Moon-Jung’s composure, the more defiance the boy showed, the angrier Yang Moon-So became.
“How dare this little bastard…!”
The sight of Kwak Moon-Jung hanging on despite going to collapse at any moment irritated him to no end. At first, he’d wanted to save his energy, but now all he wanted was to kill the boy once and for all.
“Huff, huff!” Kwak Moon-Jung panted. Although he was still able to move and use his techniques with precision, his physical strength was almost at its limit. The only thing that kept him going was his superhuman will and his sense of responsibility to the flag planting mission that Ha Jin-Wol had given him.
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He blocked Yang Moon-So’s relentless attacks over and over again.
“Fuha!” Suddenly, Yang Moon-So gasped loudly as he ended one wave of attacks and gathered his qi for the next.
Kwak Moon-Jung didn’t miss the opportunity.
For the first time in his life, he felt the draining sensation of all the energy in his body being sucked into his sword.
“Hmph!” Yang Moon-So snorted as he raised his arms to parry the greatsword and crush Kwak Moon-Jung’s heart in one fell swoop. Having mastered the Iron Sun Technique (鐵陽氣功), he was confident that his skin was so tough it could withstand being hit by the greatsword without even a scratch.
His forearm clashed with Kwak Moon-Jung’s greatsword.
“Huh?” Yang Moon-So stared in disbelief as the greatsword sliced through his forearm and stabbed into his chest, spurting blood everywhere.
“Kuheok!” he coughed, his face contorting in pain. Kwak Moon-Jung’s sword had smashed through his sternum and destroyed his lungs and heart.
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Yang Moon-So’s corpse toppled over backwards like a log.
“Huff! Haah!” Kwak Moon-Jung gasped as he fell on his butt. Sweat and tears mixed on his face as the relief of being alive and the guilt of killing a human for the first time swirled in his tiny chest.
However, he knew that he could not rest right now. He still had an important mission to complete.
“Uggh!” he groaned, clambering to his feet even as tears streamed down his face.
This day, the young boy Kwak Moon-Jung finally became a warrior who lived by his sword.
Having finished exploring the ruins of the massacred Yunnan tribe’s village, Jin Mu-Won and Hwang Cheol were returning to the caravan when suddenly, Jin Mu-Won stopped in his tracks.
“What’s wrong, Young Master?” Hwang Cheol asked, puzzled.
“Look here,” Jin Mu-Won said grimly, pointing at the ground. There were numerous footprints in the dirt.
“What on earth!?”
Jin Mu-Won knelt down on one knee and examined the footprints closely. “These were made by close to a hundred martial arts masters,” he deduced. No ordinary person walked with such light footsteps.
“Do you think they’re aiming for the White Dragon Merchant Association?”
Jin Mu-Won nodded. They weren’t far from the White Dragon Merchant Association’s camp. The only reason a large group of elite martial artists would gather in such a remote location was either to target the White Dragon Merchant Association or Jin Mu-Won.
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The question is, who is the enemy? Jin Mu-Won considered several possibilities, but in the end, he decided that there was only one possibility.
“It’s the Tyrant Fist Sect.”
It was evident that Jo Cheon-Woo, the man whom he had once called his uncle, had made a move.
“He must be holding a grudge against us over the Yuxi Massacre.”
Jin Mu-Won’s expression darkened.
“W-We have to hurry up and catch up with them!” Hwang Cheol stammered. As a former member of the Northern Army, he knew that Jo Cheon-Woo was a vengeful man who would return even the smallest of grudges several times over.
Jin Mu-Won nodded and stood up. The situation was bad, but it wasn’t hopeless. At least, there was one person he could trust to protect the White Dragon caravan while he wasn’t there.
Ha Jin-Wol, the Triune Scholar.
Translator’s Note: Sorry for the delays, I’ve been busy with new home renovation stuff lately…
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