Chronicles of the Heavenly Demon
Chapter 94 – Heading to Zhongyuan (2)
Translated by : moonchildkhz
And so Un Gwang-gook started to talk about imperial affairs and current events.
“The first rumor was that the court ladies and eunuchs started disappearing. Next was the stories of increasing corrupt officials and trafficking of government positions. Alongside His Majesty’s changes, the high officials have also started changing. The changes, which once seemed trivial, have become serious. Even Prime Minister Hong Bin, who was once respected by everyone, has clearly become strange.”
Hong Bin… I should remember that name. Maybe he has also been body-snatched by someone else.
Of course, considering these are all from the mouth of a quite loose-lipped man, I should verify them when I get to Zhongyuan.
But rumors start for a reason. And merchants are especially sensitive when it comes to rumors.
Woon-seong continued to pay attention to the man’s narrative. He did not forget to ask about specific names and policies.
Since his previously quiet companion was taking the initiative to talk, Un Gwang-gook became more excited and spoke more freely.
Un Gwang-gook’s words could be regarded as treason, since they were practically insults and denouncements of the emperor’s reign.
However, the representative did not hesitate to speak of them. And to a complete stranger, at that.
Even considering the man’s talkative nature, his ease meant that such rumors were widespread in the public.
I assume others are also thinking similar things.
Perhaps no one would say it out loud like Un Gwang-gook, but everyone was thinking it.
Woon-seong could not help but be derisive.
Zhongyuan is in quite a pathetic situation.
While Woon-seong was speaking with the Head Representative, the members of the merchant-courier group muttered amongst themselves.
One of them suddenly spoke up.
“I don’t get it. Why is Boss even talking with such a young guy like him?”
The one who asked was much younger than the rest, though his weathered skin made it hard to tell.
The one who answered was middle-aged, but looked older than his years.
“Maybe he would rather talk with a stranger, since we don’t play along with his chatter.”
The others burst into laughter.
That middle-aged man’s reasoning was quite plausible.
However, the younger man was not satisfied with that answer. He chugged the alcohol in front of him before muttering, “But does he really have to act that friendly? Maybe he thought it’s a good idea to befriend a martial artist because of the bandits, but it’s just one guy.”
The others nodded as well.
That wasn’t wrong either.
Again, the one who responded was the middle-aged man.
“Even a single martial artist is quite a significant force. Even a second-rate martial artist should be better than someone who learned some half-assed martial skill.”
Besides, this was Xinjiang.
This was the realm of the Cult of the Heavenly Demon.
It was rare to meet a martial artist who wasn’t a demonic practitioner or a criminal.
There was no harm getting close with a martial artist, just in case.
In addition, the youth was by himself. Even if he did end up being some criminal or demonic practitioner, the Four Sea Courier Group could subdue him.
“Oh? So our courier captain, who’s just on the verge of becoming a first-rate, actually thinks that young man is a second-rate martial artist?” the younger man asked again.
Through interacting with the middle-aged captain of the courier group, he had some experience distinguishing martial artists by level.
As a young man himself, it was difficult to believe that the youth who looked even younger than himself was a second-rate master.
The middle-aged man looked at Woon-seong.
Flat temples and such ordinary eyes.
My bet would be a third-rate who’s better than other third-rates, at best.
But that’s still a third-rate.
“He seems somewhat hardened, but it doesn’t look like it was through martial arts… Well, we’ll find out about that when we actually encounter bandits.”
That was the middle-aged man’s basic idea.
Of course, he did not have high expectations.
As he said, the group soon had a chance to see Woon-seong’s talents.
“Stop. Hehe. Don’t tell me you’re planning to go through this mountain for free.”
Like Un Gwang-gook had foretold, a group of bandits appeared and surrounded the group, not far from the Jade Gate.
There were about fifty of them, each holding a weapon in hand. Obviously, it was not a rag-tag bunch but a well-managed group.
“Where are your manners to the master of this mountain?”
Looking at them, Woon-seong could vaguely guess their identity. Since when did the Green Forest Stronghold have influence in Xinjiang…?
While Woon-seong was thinking that way, the courier group was looking nervous.
The Head Representative stepped forward. “We do not wish to fight. If we have to pay a fee to pass by, we are more than willing to do so.”
Although he was a chatty person, Un Gwang-gook clearly recognized his role and responsibilities.
The word ‘fee’ made the bandits hesitate.
They also did not want unnecessary fighting.
They glanced back at their leader.
“A fee, eh? And how much are you willing to pay?”
“If you let us pass unharmed, we will pay half a silver coin per person. The courier’s captain will pay two. I, the Head Representative, will pay five. Of course, this is an official payment made under the name of the Four Sea Courier Group.”
The leader of the bandits who blocked the way slowly tapped his chin. He rolled his eyes to the side, as if he were in deep thought.
The air around the bandit leader suddenly seemed to become heavier and trembled.
Off to the side, Woon-seong suddenly smirked.
Still pretending to be in deep thought, the bandit leader said, “I’ll let you pass if you pay fivefold of that.”
“If we pay that much…”
The bandit’s words caused a commotion among the merchant guild members. They were immediately met by some brandished weapons shoved in their faces.
Even in front of Woon-seong, one of the bandits wielded a sword.
What a joke. Woon-seong honestly found it quite unpleasant.
The Head Representative shook his head, “We will.”
“Boss!” some of the members shouted, but Un Gwang-gook shook his head to silence them.
“If we can avoid a fight, it’s well worth it.”
Even if he had to pay five times as much, it was still okay as long as his people did not get hurt.
Other than talking too much, Representative Un was a good leader who thought about his subordinates.
The bandit leader smiled, trampling upon the heart of such a head representative. “Oh, oh… It looks like I made a mistake with my words. Did I say fivefold? Actually, I think I meant tenfold, no, twentyfold now.”
Naturally, the Head Representative’s face had gone stiff.
The negotiations couldn’t have possibly gone this way unless the bandit had planned to just rob them in the first place.
It looks like this is where I die. The Head Representative was a swordsman, so he reached for his sword. Of course, I’m not going down alone. I’ll take at least five of these bandits down with me.
At that time, a young man walked past him.
It was Woon-seong.
“So you were never planning to take the fee in the first place.”
Woon-seong’s steps were so natural that no one saw him walk up there.
As if he had been there all along, Woon-seong stood next to the Head Representative.
Un Gwang-gook was surprised and shouted, “Young sir!”
Woon-seong ignored him and spoke to the bandit instead.
“Then why didn’t you say so in the first place? You could have just said that you were going to rob us.”
The bandit leader frowned at Woon-seong’s sudden appearance. Not only had he randomly butted in, he was speaking like an old man lecturing his juniors!
“You little brat… Do you have a death wish?!”
The bandit leader swung his blade towards Woon-seong.
With that one move, it looked like Woon-seong’s neck would be snapped in half.
Ugh. There goes a young, innocent soul, the merchant-courier group turned and sighed.
Obviously, everyone thought that Woon-seong was done for!
The bandit leader’s body flew into the air and crashed into the tree. The tree trunk then broke in half and smashed the bandit leader.
The bandit leader’s jaw dislocated and he seemed to be foaming at the mouth.
No one knew if the man was dead or just unconscious.
Everyone sharply inhaled.
“What just happened…?”
“Why is the young man still standing while the other flew like that?”
No one had seen what just happened.
Except for one person.
Clapping sounds echoed through the area. It originated from the grove Woon-seong had just thrown the bandit leader towards.
Soon, an old man walked out from the bushes.
“You’re pretty good for your age! He may be a bandit, but he’s better than some ordinary second-rate martial artist. Yet you just flung him like nothing!”
The man spoke as if he truly admired Woon-seong. It was quite impressive to fling a grown man.
“I don’t know who you are, but I get that you have quite some skill.”
Then he slowly walked to stand before the old man.
As Woon-seong walked forward, the bandits opened the way for him. It was because the shock of what just happened caused them to be subconsciously fearful.
Soon, the old man and Woon-seong were face to face.
“Are you the leader of these bandits?”
“Hmm… I’m just a guest.”
“That’s right. A guest who came to earn some money.”
Woon-seong snorted. Those are some thick lies for someone who is probably close friends with the man stuck in the tree.
Others might not know, but Woon-seong had overheard the conversation between this old man and the bandit leader.
It wasn’t the bandit leader who wanted the money, but this old man.
Naturally, this old man was the big boss behind everything.
Obviously though, Woon-seong was just a young man in the eyes of this old man.
Whether the old man knew of Woon-seong’s thoughts or not, he kept talking.
“Hmm. By the way, that was quite an impressive move. Which leads me to an offer. How about you become my apprentice?”
The old man said that and smiled sincerely.
How ridiculous. Woon-seong could not help but ask a quick question. Turning his head, he pointed towards the squashed bandit leader, “You did see me throw that man, right?”
“I did. And it was quite impressive. But it wasn’t enough to deceive my eyes.”
The old man grinned at the question. It was a nasty smile full of yellowed teeth.
Woon-seong smiled in return.
“Let me ask one thing.”
Waving his head, he mockingly asked,
“Were you able to see it, or did I just let you do so?”