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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
“There was a battle here.”
Dam Ju-In cast his gaze upward in response to his subordinate’s words. When the spies he had placed on Jin Mu-Won’s group mysteriously vanished, he had immediately led his subordinates on a relentless pursuit, feeling like he had been slapped in the face.
With the marks his subordinates had left behind, tracking the Jin Mu-Won party was a simple task. The trail led them to a river on the way to Dehong County, however, only a few faint footprints remained on the riverbank.
Nevertheless, his subordinates detected traces of a fierce confrontation at the location.
“Hmm…” Dam Ju-In bent his knees and scrutinized the ground. For a highly trained individual like himself, these footprints contained a wealth of information.
The fact that these footprints remained visible while others had faded suggested that the one who made them possessed extraordinary internal strength or a large physique. Out of the martial artists who lived nearby, only the ones from the Tyrant Fist Sect exhibited such characteristics. Those from the Diancang Sect tended to be slender in build.
“Could Jo Cheon-Woo have followed him here?”
It was a plausible scenario. The Jo Cheon-Woo he knew bore grudges deeply and seldom let go of his pride. It was highly likely that he sought to mend the wounds inflicted on his honor during the Yuxi Massacre on this very battleground.
“Fuck!” Dam Ju-In swore as he stretched his back, his visage as stern as ever. Not long ago, he had learned of the mysterious disappearance of Jo Cheon-Woo and his elite martial artists from Heo Dong-Cheon, who was tasked with monitoring the Tyrant Fist Sect. Well, the man was in deep shit now for not doing his job, but the problem was that even he was affected by the blunder.
“We’ve found traces of the missing people from Kunming here, but there’s no sign of Jo Cheon-Woo,” one of his subordinates reported.
Dam Ju-In was no fool; he understood the implication. He barked orders to his men, “If a skirmish occurred in this vicinity, there must be corpses! Find the corpses!”
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The Scarlet Fog Association warriors dispersed in all directions to commence their search. As their efforts persisted, they found more and more evidence of the battle, including signs of intense combat and blood splattered across the ground.
Yet, the corpses remained elusive.
After nearly half a day of relentless searching, Dam Ju-In’s face contorted, betraying his frustration.
“They’ve obliterated every trace.”
His mind raced. He knew that the White Dragon Merchant Association, Jin Mu-Won, and others had passed through here. Jo Cheon-Woo’s trail led here, and signs of a fierce confrontation abounded.
“The combined might of the Iron Brigade and the White Dragon Merchant Association against Jo Cheon-Woo’s Tyrant Fist Sect? That’s a one-sided battle no matter how I look at it. The Northern Blade couldn’t have turned the tides all by himself, could he?”
Seven years ago, a young martial artist named Dam Soo-Cheon, acclaimed as the Lone Star of the Azure Sky, had entered the limelight for his Hundred Duels Trial. It was an audacious title for a mere up-and-coming martial artist, but it had caused a profound stir in the murim.
However, after Dam Soo-Cheon’s triumphant challenge, he had withdrawn from the limelight for an unknown reason, leaving many in the martial world eagerly anticipating his return. Some even prophesied that his comeback would reshape the history of the gangho.
The Northern Blade Jin Mu-Won is the most promising young martial artist since Dam Soo-Cheon. His accomplishments during the Yuxi Massacre are proof enough of his martial prowess, but is he truly capable of taking on Jo Cheon-Woo?
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Until now, Dam Ju-In had never even considered the possibility, but circumstances now forced him to reconsider. With no body discovered, the outcome of the confrontation remained unknown. Nonetheless, an ominous, unexplainable unease crept over him like thorns embedded beneath his fingernails—a dull ache that, if neglected, could fester, jeopardizing an entire limb.
His gaze hardened. “Erase all your preconceptions about the Northern Blade Jin Mu-Won and initiate a thorough investigation on him.”
“Tsk!” Tang Gi-Mun clicked his tongue as he stared at Jin Mu-Won and Ha Jin-Wol, who were sticking closely together. Five days had passed since they entered the Western Plateau of the Sichuan Province, and the two young men were nigh inseparable.
In accordance with his promise, Ha Jin-Wol was imparting his vast knowledge and profound insights that defied ordinary comprehension to Jin Mu-Won.
“The gangho has always been governed by the powerful. It obeys the law of the jungle, where the strong stand atop the food chain. But how many ascend purely through physical might? No, their ascent required immense effort in both martial arts and politics over the course of decades…”
“In the end, the murim is a system of dominance erected by the powerful, for the powerful. That’s why you must learn and understand the path that Heaven’s Summit took to reign supreme…”
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“How long can this murim endure? When the immensely powerful coexist with ordinary folks, how do these ordinary souls respond? The transition may be arduous initially, but over time, they will discover the most efficient methods of adaptation. Then, our world shall undergo transformation, and the present-day murim will be but a transitional phase to a new era…”
Ha Jin-Wol’s worldview struck Tang Gi-Mun, Tang Mi-Ryeo, and Cheong-In like thunderbolts. They marveled at his unique perspective, astonished that anyone could perceive the world this way, and even more so that his arguments were unassailable.
How could such a person have eluded the world’s notice? Cheong-In’s expression darkened as he gazed upon Ha Jin-Wol. The Black Moon thrived on information dominance, acquiring data on potential gangho influencers and peddling it to murim organizations. Yet, neither Jin Mu-Won nor Ha Jin-Wol had left a trace within the Black Moon’s vast web of information, despite being men who transcended genius.
Jin Mu-Won’s overwhelming martial strength and Ha Jin-Wol’s profound philosophy and worldview set them apart from the rank-and-file. No, when it came to who held the potential to shake up the world more, Ha Jin-Wol was the definite winner.
Add Tang Gi-Mun, the poison and medical genius who rarely left the Tang Clan, and Tang Mi-Ryeo, another outstanding young expert, and he now feared that his life was on the verge of a seismic shift.
Monitor the target and report to the Black Moon. That had always been his mission. Yet, upon encountering Jin Mu-Won, his once straightforward life had quickly turned upside down and inside out.
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“Haa…” he sighed.
Sensing that Cheong-In shared his sentiments, Tang Gi-Mun exchanged a knowing look with the spy.
I wonder if the duo’s presence heralds a shift in the gangho’s paradigm…?
As a member of the esteemed Tang Clan, Tang Gi-Mun had spent considerable time in the gangho despite his lack of martial arts training. He had witnessed the rise and fall of numerous individuals and sects, each following a distinct trajectory. Yet, Jin Mu-Won and Ha Jin-Wol defied convention.
Still, in a world unfriendly to newcomers, alien, independent, and powerful entities were not welcome.
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Will Jin Mu-Won and Ha Jin-Wol become the stakes that dig deep into this world’s roots, or will they be eliminated?
No one knew the answer.
Tang Gi-Mun contemplated the potential consequences of his association with them. He knew that like most prestigious clans of the gangho, which guarded their interests fervently, the Tang Clan would expel him as soon as his relationship with the two youngsters became a problem.
It seems that the older I get, the less willing I am to take risks.
Tang Gi-Mun sighed. This journey had turned out to be much more eventful than he had thought.
Meanwhile, Jin Mu-Won absorbed Ha Jin-Wol’s teachings like a sponge. Although he had studied Hwang Cheol’s books in addition to practicing martial arts when he lived in isolation, his education was rather fragmented.
Ha Jin-Wol was his opportunity. The scholar effortlessly answered all of his questions and encouraged him to view matters from fresh perspectives, teaching him how to think and spurring his growth.
Watching him, Tang Gi-Mun couldn’t help but wonder how far this growth would carry him.
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