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


Seo Mu-Sang stepped out of the Spotless Inn after a long stay and looked at the imposing silhouette of Heaven’s Summit in the distance. As the leader of the Inquisition, he usually acted independently, but today was one of the rare occasions when he had to report directly to headquarters.

He strode through Heaven’s Village, his mind buzzing with information. The crowds he passed included a mix of ordinary folk and skilled martial artists, but he’d memorized most of their profiles.

The ‘Green River Bladesman’ Yoo Ka-Ryang, primarily active in Henan Province. The rising star, ‘September Sword Devil’ Kang Yoo from Fujian Province.

Their presence, along with that of numerous other martial artists, cast an undeniable tension over Heaven’s Village. Desperate for any information regarding the Demon Hunters’ selection, they ended up disrupting the lives of many commoners.

“Tsk!” Seo Mu-Sang clicked his tongue. Naive fools. They don’t seem to realize how unjust the world is. Everyone who has a chance to join the Demon Hunters has already been informed about the selection test.

“Halt!” a young guard posted at the majestic Heavenly Bridge, the entrance to Heaven’s Summit, shouted as Seo Mu-Sang approached.

In response, Seo Mu-Sang pulled out the simple bronze badge of an external affiliate and presented it as proof of his identity.

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“You may proceed.” The guard motioned for Seo Mu-Sang to pass.

Crossing the bridge, Seo Mu-Sang felt like he was entering another world. The grandeur of Heaven’s Summit was unimaginable, with luxurious pavilions, soaring towers, and streets thronging with the world’s most powerful martial artists.

However, this air of freedom reminiscent of the wealthy city of Chengdu was nothing more than an illusion. The segregation of people by status was absolute, and trespassing outside one’s designated zones was a crime punishable by death. Even visitors from the major sects were not exempt from this rule, prompting sect leaders to select their representatives with care.

Taking in his surroundings, Seo Mu-Sang quickened his pace and entered the western street. Save for his stint in the Northern Army Fortress, he had spent a significant portion of his youth here, so he knew the route to his destination well.

As he approached a restricted area, he pulled out a different, much more ornate badge than the one he had used to cross the Heavenly Bridge.

“Hey, you!” a gruff voice suddenly called out to him.

Seo Mu-Sang let out a sigh. This voice was one he knew all too well, yet it brought him no joy. Turning around, he confirmed his suspicion. In front of him stood a grizzled man a few years older than him, dressed in crimson martial attire and armed with an impressive blade, exuding power and authority.

Jang Pae-San. Seo Mu-Sang’s eyes hardened at the sight of his former superior.

However, Jang Pae-San took no notice of Seo Mu-Sang’s cold and resentful expression. “Hahaha! Long time no see, Vice-Captain,” he laughed boisterously.

“……”

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“How have you been all these years?”

“……” Seo Mu-Sang couldn’t bring himself to answer. This was the traitor who had deserted his comrades and run away alone seven years ago. Moreover, even though they often passed each other after his return to Heaven’s Summit, Jang Pae-San had always pretended he was invisible and ignored him.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, after sucking up to Shim Won-Yi, Jang Pae-San had steadily risen through the ranks of Heaven’s Summit and currently held the esteemed position of Captain of the Enforcement Squad, an elite force that was given autonomy to oversee various crucial missions.

It disgusted him. This was the one man he could never forgive.

“Hey, when someone asks about your well-being, you should respond.”

“Thanks to you, I’ve been doing well.”

“Is that so? Glad to hear it.”

“So? What’s the matter?”

“Someone is looking for you.”

“Me?”

“Yes. It’s fortunate that our paths crossed, because I was about to send someone to look for you. Come with me.”

“I’m afraid I can’t at the moment.”

Jang Pae-San raised an eyebrow. “Why not?”

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“I’m here on official business. I need to submit my report to the higher-ups before doing anything else.”

“Hmph! It’s just a silly report. Stop making excuses and follow me. The person who summoned you will handle the repercussions,” Jang Pae-San snorted, then started walking away, fully expecting Seo Mu-Sang to follow him.

Seo Mu-Sang hesitated for a moment before trailing after Jang Pae-San. Someone wants to see me? Who could it be? Until now, I’ve mostly kept to myself as I slowly crawled my way up the ranks.

Jang Pae-San led Seo Mu-Sang through multiple layers of security to a secluded area of Heaven’s Summit.

Was there such a place? Seo Mu-Sang thought himself familiar with the layout of Heaven’s Summit, but even he had never been here before.

“We’re here,” Jang Pae-San finally said, entering a building.

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Seo Mu-Sang narrowed his eyes. His senses warned him about a number of concealed figures nearby. He surveyed the surroundings instinctively, preparing for any eventuality. One, two… twelve? No, fourteen. They’re good. If I didn’t have my guard up, I wouldn’t have noticed them.

For the last seven years, he had lived on the edge, where the smallest slip-up would have cost him his life. Every breath he took, anxiety and worry threatened to overcome him. The only reason he could keep going until now was because he had an example to look up to, his liege, Jin Mu-Won. Taking a leaf out of Jin Mu-Won’s book, he’d learned to grit his teeth and soldier on even while maintaining constant vigilance.

Halting in front of a large room door, Jang Pae-San announced, “Miss, it’s Jang Pae-San. I’ve brought the Head Inquisitor as instructed.”

“Enter,” a woman replied. As if in response to her verbal command, the door automatically swung open.

Jang Pae-San and Seo Mu-Sang stepped into the room. The interior was lavishly furnished, with ancient vases, intricately carved furniture, and a tiger skin rug adorning the space. A massive desk of red sandalwood dominated the room, and a young woman sat behind it, perusing a book.

“Long time no see. Has it truly been seven years?” the woman said, standing up.

“Yes, it has,” Seo Mu-Sang said, recognizing her immediately. She looks older and more mature than when I last saw her… but there’s no way I can mistake her for someone else. Not Seomoon Hye-Ryung.

“I had every intention to meet you earlier, but time eluded me. My apologies.”

“No need for apologies. Why did you summon me?”

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“Hmm, were you always so impatient?”

“Well, much time has passed. Seven years can change a person considerably.”

“I understand. Seven years is indeed substantial.”

Seomoon Hye-Ryung smiled, a dagger-like sharpness flashing in her eyes as she tried to dissect Seo Mu-Sang’s intentions from his every word and action. Once, such a feat would have been a challenge for her, but now it seemed almost effortless.

“……” Seo Mu-Sang remained silent, feigning ignorance. If it was the past me, I would have fallen right into her trap and given her all the information she desired.

“I called upon you, Head Inquisitor, to ask you about something,” Seomoon Hye-Ryung continued.

“What might that be…?”

“Jin Mu-Won.”

I knew it. Good thing I anticipated this in advance, or I might have inadvertently let something slip. Seo Mu-Sang sighed inwardly with relief, even as he outwardly maintained his composure.

A flicker of surprise briefly crossed Seomoon Hye-Ryung’s face. She had anticipated some reaction from Seo Mu-Sang upon hearing Jin Mu-Won’s name, but the man didn’t reveal even the subtlest muscle twitch or a change in expression. “Have you heard this name recently?” she pressed.

“Of course I have. The Northern Blade Jin Mu-Won is quite the hot topic in the gangho nowadays.”

“Do you think he could he be the same Jin Mu-Won from the Northern Army?”

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“How is that possible? That child perished seven years ago.”

“But you didn’t see his corpse, did you?”

“No, I’m just assuming that he died since I didn’t see him escaping from the burning fortress.”

“So you think the Northern Blade is just someone with the same name?”

“Yes.”

Seomoon Hye-Ryung furrowed her brow in disappointment. This was not the answer she wanted to hear.

“Do you have any other questions for me?” Seo Mu-Sang asked.

“Are you that busy? You give me the impression that you just want to quickly end this conversation and leave.”

“That’s not it…”

“I’m sorry for taking up your valuable time, Head Inquisitor,” Seomoon Hye-Ryung stated firmly, her voice now tinged with frost.

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At the same time, in a corner of the room, Jang Pae-San started exuding a faint but unmistakable hostility.

Seo Mu-Sang, however, remained composed. “I apologize if I’ve offended you. I truly thought it was nothing significant, but if you…”

“No, don’t bother. I’ve asked everything I wanted to ask,” Seomoon Hye-Ryung declared, waving her hand in dismissal.

Seo Mu-Sang bid her farewell with a slight bow, then left the room.

When the door slammed shut once more, Jang Pae-San broke the silence. “Miss, shall I take care of him for you?”

Although he was committed to Shim Won-Yi, it was never his style to put all his eggs in one basket, and Seomoon Hye-Ryung was a promising candidate with whom he could establish good relations.

However, Seomoon Hye-Ryung shook her head. “No, instead, assign him an assistant.”

“You mean to monitor him?”

“Yes. He doesn’t seem to be lying, but he’s also not telling the whole truth. For now, he remains our primary surveillance target.”

“Understood,” Jang Pae-San acknowledged, bowing deeply.

Seomoon Hye-Ryung’s gaze drifted outside the window. My analysis clearly showed that Seo Mu-Sang is the one who is constantly obstructing the investigation of Jin Mu Won and dismissing the importance of it. Something is definitely fishy about him! In particular, his calmness is too unnatural, and his unwillingness to engage in small talk or spend too much time conversing with me is suspicious…

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