I thought it would be alright since I was already far away, but the explosion, or more precisely, the power of the explosion, was still too much.
The wind pressure generated by the explosion alone almost knocked Iron Sword out of my hands.
No matter how strong their resilience, could they survive an explosion like that?
-Instead of that, would True Evil Sword and Short Sword be alright? Wonwhi?
Look at him worrying about True Evil Sword.
-I-it isn’t like that.
Don’t worry about what I am saying.
Well, both of them are fine, at least. I could still see what they were seeing in my head.
The two of them had collided with force, pierced the bottom of the ship, and entered the river.
-It isn’t True Evil Sword, which was made by a famous swordsmith, but Short Sword I am worried about.
Short Sword was infused with sword qi and worked on by a skilled craftsman of the Murim Alliance before. Besides, it was made of cold steel, so it could surely handle…
And I also heard a familiar voice in my head.
She came out from the rough river.
Her sword handle was burnt, and soot covered her blade.
‘Uh… mmm… sorry.’
-Do not make me do that again!
I thought she would be fine, but her sheath looked damaged as Short Sword continued to grumble.
What excuse could I make?
I tore apart a cloth and wrapped it around her handle.
-Are you really giving me this?
Hmmm… this was at least better than nothing.
On the other hand, while True Evil Sword was slightly burnt, everything else was intact.
Gu Yaja was clearly a great swordsmith. Even the sword sheath that he made was durable.
-I love this.
True Evil Sword moved around freely.
Deep down, I wondered whether this ability would work since I had only been with her for a short time compared to Iron Sword and Short Sword. However, it ended up being easier than expected.
She spoke as if I was her slave, but it seemed she acknowledged me as her master.
-As I thought, being with you is so nice. I wanted to try out such things. Hehehe.
Blood Demon Sword grumbled as he listened to her excited voice.
-You damned things. Only you people get to enjoy the excitement.
It seemed he didn’t like how they were all flying around except for him. Well, I could understand that feeling.
However, it would be hard to explain if someone saw and recognized you.
I should be prepared for any possibilities.
‘Short Sword, True Evil, did you see the Ghost Killing Fist Demon in the water?’
Even though he was caught up in the explosion, he was one of the Four Great Evils. I wanted to confirm his death, just in case.
-I was busy running away from that heat, so I went too deep into the water. How would I be able to look?
-If I had seen him, I would have told you earlier. Honey.
Don’t use such strange words. I’m not a slave.
Well, it didn’t seem like either of them saw the man.
I was only able to escape the explosion because Iron Sword allowed me to fly. Perhaps it was luck.
I guess we’ll need to assume that he is dead now. I then turned and looked towards the cliff.
The small form of Hyuk Cheon-man was still fighting against many people.
-Will you help him?
No, it would be better to head back to the ship and help there. There was no way a monster like him could lose against them.
I flew higher and followed the path.
By now, the ship must have gone further.
True Evil Sword also returned.
–Huh. I want to go around a little more.
If I stopped the ability, then she wouldn’t be able to fly anymore, even if she wanted to. Hearing my words, she grumbled regretfully and returned to the wooden sheath.
Iron Sword carried me, and we moved further up the waterway.
From above, the river was clearly visible.
-Looks like the river over there connects to a bigger river.
As Short Sword observed, the river fed into a larger one. The water speed was accelerating there.
It was still night, so I was unable to see how far the ship had gone. No matter how fast the water flowed, it wouldn’t have been able to go that far.
-It is over there!
Looking down, I saw a fast-moving ship. I needed to head down there.
Iron Sword called out to me.
What is it?
-Can you see the small lights behind the bushes on the side where the river is flowing?
Hearing this, I focused my innate qi and enhanced my eye sight.
At the location he indicated, the river looked smaller and was connected. Just as Iron Sword said, small lights were connected behind the bushes.
Quite a few of them, actually.
Just looking at the shape, it seemed that they were boats. Judging from the distance between the lights, it seemed it was around a fleet of 20.
Was this some kind of trap?
If this was an ambush, the ship would sink.
Wait, come to think of it, one was moving faster.
-Is it not that?
Where is it?
-Look over there, around two miles away.
Just as Short Sword said, a ship was moving along the waterway.
Looking at its appearance, the third ship seemed similar to the one we were on. At this rate, it seemed like they would run into the ambush sooner than us.
-What are you going to do? Are you going to stop them?
Actually, in all honesty, it didn’t matter what happened to that ship.
I only needed to protect the ship that my people were on. I would have to go down and deal with the enemies on the ship and return to the deck.
That was the priority.
I got it.
Iron Sword quickly descended toward the ship. The battle was still ongoing.
Unlike before, the number of masked people had been reduced to the point where none were left.
As I landed on the boat, the people on deck cheered for me.
“Warrior So is back!”
“He defeated that man!”
On the other hand, only ten of the masked people were left, and their shock was clear.
They trusted their leader, and it was natural that they were surprised to see my return only mere moments after.
Well, it was a battlefield where defeat was certain for them. I could see their fighting spirit disappear.
Sima Young, who had been fighting against the enemies, pushed them aside and ran to where I was. She sighed in relief as she said,
“What happened? The explosion was clear even from here. I was worried something happened to you.”
I spoke to her using internal qi.
[As soon as we got on the boat, I blew up the gunpowder and escaped.]
Her eyes widened at this, and a smile formed on her lips.
[I was worried since you were fighting against a warrior of a similar level to my father. How did you even come up with such an idea?]
At her words, I smiled.
Wasn’t it simply because I didn’t need to risk my life.
At that moment, Elder Gu Saeng of the Beggars Union supported Elder Do Wook and approached us.
He appeared glad to see me, though his face didn’t look too good due to his injury.
“Not at all. I ended up lucky.”
“How can you call this luck? How many people can come back alive by fighting such a man? You truly are in the ranks of Eight great Warriors?’
He praised me.
“Right. Imagine reaching such a level at this young age. Truly a man of Justice.’
Even Gu Saeng was cheering for me and raising me up. They seemed happy about this considering their reactions.
It was quite embarrassing to hear this said aloud, considering I just blew up their ship without actually fighting.
-Just keep your mouth shut.
I was trying to do that. After all, the dead can’t speak.
Besides, there was something more urgent that I needed to tell them.
“It is too early to rejoice.”
“What do you mean?”
“While flying here, I saw some ships ready to ambush us in the waterway.”
They could not hide their shock at hearing this.
I wondered if they thought they would get peace after my victory but felt that things were now hopeless.
“How was it?”
“I couldn’t see much due to the darkness, but I guess around a fleet of twenty?”
This surprised them all. Everyone was already exhausted, and this number of enemies meant they could not win.
Even with me, it would be impossible.
They understood how serious this was.
“We need to dock the ship.”
Hearing me, Elder Do Wook grumbled.
This was probably because of the original mission.
The Beggars Union leader was not here, and Hyuk Cheon-man hadn’t rejoined us. Elder Do Wook was the leader now.
So I attempted to persuade him.
“Elder. There are many who are injured. And it is impossible to subdue the canal with this much power alone. You know that, right?
“The original ship was to infiltrate them by making ourselves the target. Who would look at our ship now and consider it a target?”
Due to the battle with the masked people, our ship was in bad shape. The water current was still fast, but if we gave up going further forward and turned the ship around, we might save some lives here.
Elder Do Wook looked around us.
As he saw the numerous bodies and the wounded, he nodded.
“You are right. Knowing when to retreat is the right strategy.”
I felt joy as he agreed with me and tried not to show too much of it.
“You made the right choice.”
Elder Do Wook then said to me.
“Look, Warrior So. I know you just arrived, but could I ask you a favor?”
“It is something only you can do.”
Something only I could do?
What was he asking for?
Many eyes were around us, and it would be odd to refuse now. I pretended to be brave and accepted it.
“We have gone through life and death together. You do not need to say such words.”
Hearing this, he smiled brightly and said.
“You are the new hero of this era.”
Please don’t do this. Just spit it out.
“Wasn’t there a target ship that went ahead of us? If there is an ambush, they would be in danger as well. Could you fly over and tell them to anchor?”
He was worried about the ship ahead of us?
Compared to the Beggars Union leader, who was busy satisfying his own greed, this man was truly someone of the Justice Faction.
However, I wasn’t sure about the other ship. It must have already reached the ambush spot.
“I understand. I will hurry.”
Receiving his request, I rode Iron Sword and flew up.
-We need to help, after all.
Nothing else to do about it.
I will tell them to anchor if they have not reached the ambush. If they have run into it, I will withdraw.
Iron Sword flew high into the sky.
How far was I?
We moved along the waterway as I concentrated on our surroundings. The sad reality soon became apparent.
The ambushing ships were already around us.
-It cannot be helped.
This was a situation where nothing could be salvaged.
-Then, do we just head back? Wonhwi?
We would be heading back too early if we did so. I decided to fly close and check out the situation a little bit more.
Iron Sword maintained the same altitude as we moved to a couple of places.
We managed to catch sight of the scene and looked closer.
The ships surrounding the target ship had thrown ropes to keep it from moving.
After that, numerous figures moved.
But as I got closer, I noticed something different.
I thought that they might be more of the golden-eyed man’s people, but the men I saw wore normal robes and no masks. Come to think of it, their ship also had flags.
Flags with odd names clearly identified them as pirates.
-Are they the ones?
These aren’t part of the golden-eyed man’s forces.
They’re the real 18 Families.
-Those are the ones?
If my eyes weren’t seeing things, then they were.
It seemed that most of their strength was gathered here. Seeing that each of the twenty ships in the fleet had different flags, different factions were here.
I thought that they had been killed by the golden-eyed man’s troops, but it seemed they were still alive.
-What do we do if they have hands with them? You can’t just tell from an ambush.
Short Sword pointed this out.
If they had joined hands with the golden-eyed man, the situation would not be much different.
-Isn’t it a bit odd?
What was strange about it?
-It looks like they are talking and not fighting. Look over there.
This was true.
As Short Sword said, the pirates that crossed the ropes were talking to the sailors and their leaders. Someone wearing leopard skin was just walking.
It was quite different from how the golden-eyed man’s troops would act. In the middle of this, I spotted Hong Geol-gae and his grandfather.
I thought that he died, but he simply moved to this ship?
As I pondered this.
-Uh? Are they jumping out?
Some sailors and members of the crew had jumped into the water as the pirates waved their weapons in a threatening manner.
That caused the rest to hesitate.
-They seem to be saving them?
It seemed like it.
It seems that I didn’t need to be so concerned about them.
-Then what will you do now?
‘We will talk.’
I opened the sheath behind me and took something out.
My demon mask.