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

Behind a group of martial artists serving as escorts, a caravan consisting of dozens of heavy wagons trekked across a vast desert. Atop the lead wagon of the procession, a large flag bearing the words “Silver Horse Merchant Association” fluttered in the breeze.

The Silver Horse Merchant Association was one of the Ten Great Companies and amassed immense wealth primarily through trade with the western regions. Such ventures usually lasted from several months to more than a year, so their caravans were always loaded with cargo and personnel.

A thick layer of white dust settled on the roofs of the wagons, while the riders atop the horses bore gray-tinged heads and shoulders, testimony to the long journey they had endured.

“Phew!” exhaled the man driving at the front, unwinding the cloth from his face. With the rush of cold air, vitality surged back into his features. Appearing to be in his mid-thirties, he boasted a thick beard covering his cheeks and jaw, yet exuded an overall handsome demeanor. welcomes you.

His name was Yoo Jang-Hwan, and he was the leader of this caravan and the heir to the Silver Horse Merchant Association. Having traveled to and from the western regions for over twenty years since the age of fifteen, he had sacrificed his youth and even missed the window for marriage, but he had no regrets about dedicating himself to shaping the association’s future.

In the distance, the blue waves of Lop Nur Lake shimmered, signaling an end to the sea of sand.

Yoo Jang-Hwan remarked, “Starting next year, let’s send Jang-Pyeong on these trips instead. I’m not as spry as I used to be.”

“Haha! I doubt the second young master will be able to withstand such a harsh expedition!” the middle-aged Head Escort beside him laughed.

Returning from the Western Regions after nearly eight months, their eyes shone with longing for home. The distance from Lop Nur Lake to the Central Plains was not far, and despite their fatigue, the prospect of setting foot on the treasured soil of the Central Plains made their expressions brighter than ever.

Yoo Jang-Hwan expressed gratitude to the weary convoy, “Everyone, you’ve all worked hard! We’ll camp at Lop Nur Lake tonight, so bear with it a little longer! Once we enter the Central Plains, I’ll reward you handsomely!”

“I miss the women of the Central Plains!”

“I’ll rent out an entire brothel! Pick any woman you fancy!”


The martial artists burst into laughter at Yoo Jang-Hwan’s response, knowing he would deliver on his promises. This journey had been especially profitable, and the rewards would be greater than usual. Just the thought of fattening their pockets made them feel secure.

The headquarters of the Silver Horse Merchant Association was located in Hubei Province. Although they had to travel for nearly a month after entering the Central Plains, the journey was nowhere near as arduous and lonely as crossing the desert.

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For rest and refreshment, the Silver Horse Merchant Association always made a pit stop at Xinjiang’s Lop Nur Lake during their annual journey. Despite the lack of proper accommodations due to the low traffic and remoteness of the region, the freedom to bathe in the lake made up for the inconvenience.

The thought of bathing freely after such a long time quickened their pace, and they soon arrived at Lop Nur Lake. One of the largest lakes in the region, Lop Nur Lake was vast, its beauty enhanced by the surrounding flat desert terrain that stretched endlessly into the horizon. Still, it was difficult to find places where more than a hundred people and dozens of wagons could rest at the same time, but since they had camped here many times before, they knew the perfect spot.

Unfortunately, someone had arrived at their camping spot before them.

“Hmm!” Yoo Jang-Hwan furrowed his brow.

Seated alone by a campfire, a girl who appeared barely sixteen tended to the flames. With strikingly pale skin, sharp black eyes, and crimson lips, she exuded an otherworldly aura, her blue-tinged hair fluttering in the wind.

"”Ahh!”” The men marveled at the girl. She wasn’t just beautiful, she emitted a mesmerizing atmosphere that stirred the hearts of those around her.

However, the girl, Eun Han-Seol, paid them no heed. Her gaze remained fixed on the blazing campfire, the flames casting shadowy patterns on her mysterious face.

“Ahem!” Some of the men involuntarily cleared their throats.

Eun Han-Seol shot them a glance, but no one dared to meet her gaze.

Yoo Jang-Hwan stepped forward. With uncharacteristic politeness and sincerity, he said, “Greetings, Miss. I am Yoo Jang-Hwan, the leader of this caravan belonging to the Silver Horse Merchant Association. This is where we usually camp, but you seem to have arrived first. If it’s not too much trouble, would you allow us to share this space?”

Eun Han-Seol scrutinized him silently.

Yoo Jang-Hwan immediately felt an inexplicable sense of inferiority and insecurity. His extraordinary insight and long experience in the gangho told him that Eun Han-Seol was anything but ordinary. Who could this girl be? She’s undoubtedly a seasoned traveler and adventurer.

Finally, Eun Han-Seol nodded.

Yoo Jang-Hwan sighed in relief. “Thank you, Miss. I will definitely repay this kindness.”

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He ordered his men to prepare for the night, and they sprang into action. Being seasoned travelers, they worked quickly, building campfires, hanging pots for cooking, and fetching water from the lake for meal preparation. As a reward, Yoo Jang-Hwan even unsealed several barrels of wine for the party. The quiet lakeside soon buzzed with activity.

Eun Han-Seol sat in silence, observing the laughter and chatter around her. The men’s faces glowed with happiness despite their unkempt appearance from days on the road. They laughed, shared food, and swapped stories to the clinking of wine cups. It all seemed so alien to her.

Why are they so happy? I don’t understand… Was I always like this? Over the last decade, she felt that she was becoming increasingly impervious to outside stimuli, as if her mind had become an isolated island, completely cut off from outside influences. That’s why, although she could intellectually understand why others were happy, she could no longer emotionally empathize.

Yoo Jang-Hwan approached Eun Han-Seol with a modest bowl of porridge that looked too crude for a dainty young lady. He felt a little guilty that this was the best he could offer, but still smiled awkwardly and asked, “Miss, would you like some? It looks like you haven’t eaten anything.”

Eun Han-Seol looked at the porridge. It certainly didn’t look like much, but it was filled with various ingredients, enough to make a balanced meal. “Thank you, I’ll eat it,” she finally said, taking the bowl from Yoo Jang-Hwan.

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Her voice surprisingly pleasant to Yoo Jang-Hwan’s ears. It wasn’t a melodious voice like the tinkling of bells, but it had a deep, moist quality to it.

Eun Han-Seol cautiously sniffed the porridge for a moment, then dug in.

Yoo Jang-Hwan grew intrigued. Where did this girl come from? There’s no sign of civilization for miles, only desolate deserts and thick forests prowled by wolves. Can a young girl really survive this terrain alone? No, is she really alone?

Guesses about Eun Han-Seol’s identity filled his mind. His years as a merchant had taught him to be wary of mysterious strangers, many of whom were dangerous people. To make matters worse, having spent eight months in the Western Regions, he was out of touch with the affairs of the Central Plains and had little knowledge of recent events.

Carefully, he inquired, “Do you have any companions?”

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Eun Han-Seol nodded.

“Then, where are you headed?”

“The Central Plains.”

Yoo Jang-Hwan’s eyes lit up. “How far into the Central Plains?”


“Well! It seems our paths align.”

Eun Han-Seol stopped eating and looked at Yoo Jang-Hwan. “Are you also heading there?”

“Yes. Our headquarters are in Wuhan, Hubei Province. We are returning there after a long trip to the Western Regions. Anyway, crossing the Central Plains alone can be quite challenging. If you don’t mind, would you consider joining us?”

“Why show me such kindness?”

“You remind me of my youngest brother, who is around your age. If he was in your situation, I would go mad with worry.”

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Eun Han-Seol stared at Yoo Jang-Hwan intently. “Your youngest brother…” she murmured under her breath. Well, there’s no need to tell him my real age.

She nodded. “Thank you, I accept.”

“Alright. We will set out tomorrow morning. Also, may I ask one thing?”

“Of course.”

“Why are you going to the Central Plains?”


“You don’t have to answer if it’s inconvenient. I’m just asking out of curiosity.”

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Eun Han-Seol’s gaze drifted to the darkened lake where the moonlight shimmered more beautifully than ever. In the dancing light, she felt as if she could see the face of the person from her memories.

“There is someone I must meet there.”

Her voice carried on the breeze across the lake.

Overwhelmed by her aura, Yoo Jang-Hwan fell silent. Someone she must meet, huh…

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