Somewhere in Gwiju.
The man, who must have been in his mid-thirties now, gritted his teeth and opened the door to the stone room.
The heavy stone door was pushed open with an unpleasant noise.
The moment he entered the room, the man frowned at the fishy smell that assaulted his nose.
“…I can’t stand that bird again.”
It was a boring space.
nightstand and wardrobe.
A simple secret room with nothing else in it.
The old man, who was sitting on a wooden chair and leisurely drinking tea, turned to the man and asked.
“What’s going on?”
“Are you asking because you really don’t know?”
“If I ask because I don’t know, would you ask if I knew?”
“I told you to refrain from going out as much as possible.”
“I restrained myself. “I guess I endured it for two days.”
“Say that now.”
“It’s not easy to be quietly trapped in such a stuffy place. “I wish people would turn a blind eye to such minor deviations.”
“Hard times are the same for everyone. We are just persevering to successfully complete the operation. “Don’t put others at risk by being unable to resist temporary cravings.”
“Anyway, the residents of Gwiju won’t care about such trivial matters. Isn’t it a time like this that they recruited the Blue Blood Demon Lord? “When something big happens, small incidents tend to get buried.”
“The reason I included the Blue Blood Master was to divert the attention of the martial forces, including the Maeng branch, so that the plan could proceed more easily, not to cover up the accident caused by the Demon Lord.”
“Aren’t you being too strict?”
“Rumors are already spreading around the streets. “There’s a gangster who only kidnaps young girls.”
“It’s a false rumor. I don’t consider gender when deciding who to kidnap. “What’s important is how young and fresh the subject has a body.”
“I’m not curious about what Mr. Demon’s tastes are.”
“Even if you’re not interested, remember it. “Right now I’m giving you advice.”
“Have you seen such a frustrating friend? Would you understand if I had to spoon-feed it to you? “Aren’t you teaching me what to do if I want to prevent my deviance?”
“If you understand, just leave now. On the way, I called some people over. “I think I need to clean my room.”
The old man waved his hand and gave a congratulatory order.
The man, who was glaring at the old man with harsh eyes, quickly turned around and left the stone room.
The old man glanced sideways at the man’s back and muttered as if chewing.
“You don’t know the topic.”
The old man’s eyes turned to the young man’s body lying like trash in the corner of the room.
The condition of the body was relatively clean.
However, the neck area had a deep gash as if it had been bitten by an animal.
The blood that flowed down stained the floor red.
The old man closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
The smell of blood stimulated my sense of smell, and I felt a little better about my discomfort.
“Anyway, I don’t know what the cult leader was thinking when he sent me here. “I’d rather run wild on the battlefield than stay in this boring place…”
The old man put down the teacup on the table and licked his lips with his bright red tongue.
The teacup was filled with red blood instead of tea.
* * *
A loud laugh pierced my ears.
A group of bandits were negotiating with the leader, blocking the way of the group.
As I was watching the situation through the window of the carriage, I yawned with a bored expression.
‘This is already the third time.’
When the security of the region became unstable, it was the group of thieves and black thieves that became the cause of trouble.
As the Cheonghyeoldo clan attracted the attention of local Baekdo clans and families, the bandits who had established themselves in Gwiju naturally became active.
This was probably related to the reason why the group frequently encountered bandits.
‘Well, it’s not as bad as Zhejiang in the past.’
Of course, it does not mean that officials do not do their job, so the bandits in Gwiju also maintained the minimum line.
It seemed like the toll tax was higher than before, but there was no reason for me to care about that as I had paid a large amount of money and requested an escort.
“So you’re saying you can’t put it out?”
“No matter what, isn’t the amount too excessive?”
“It is the way of the world that prices or toll taxes fluctuate depending on the time and situation.”
“Changes should be made within the range of common sense. Isn’t ten times the normal amount too much?”
“Does that mean this body is a human being without common sense?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Of course, there were exceptions everywhere.
There definitely were people like that.
Those who are blinded by greed and cross lines that should not be crossed.
They would have paid a reasonable amount of toll and moved on, but stupid people were making things worse.
Looking at the bandit leader gently threatening Pyodu with a sly expression, I had an intuition that a fight would soon break out.
‘I’m not happy that the schedule is delayed any longer.’
I crossed my arms and clicked my tongue, saying ‘tsk’.
They probably didn’t intend to withdraw just by collecting the toll from the beginning.
‘Is the reason why the so-called boss is coming forward and negotiating with the leader to establish a siege?’
They had the numerical superiority.
The number of people was different from the bandits we encountered earlier.
I was worried about what to do.
I didn’t necessarily want to fight the bandits on behalf of the warriors.
I paid a lot of money to hire an escort, so why go through all the trouble?
If the schedule was delayed any longer, we might not be able to reach our destination before the sun went down.
After sleeping out on the street for the past few days, my back became as stiff as a turtle.
For today, I was comfortably sleeping in bed.
“I’ll go out.”
Just as he was fiddling with his sword and fighting, Bangcheoksam picked up his bow and stood up.
I looked back at him with a puzzled expression and asked.
“Are you saying you’re going to come forward yourself?”
“Because time is precious. I don’t think the situation is good enough to just watch quietly. “As we are outnumbered, there may be casualties among the delegates.”
“I won’t bother to stop you.”
“If you think about it, I don’t think I neglected my martial arts training because I was only concerned about taking care of my wife for a long time. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to relax my stiff body and regain my fighting sense.”
After finishing speaking, Bangcheoksam got off the carriage and jumped onto the roof.
I immediately stuck my head out the window and looked outside.
It was a good opportunity to check out the skills of Changmyeong Palace, which I had only heard about through rumors.
Bangcheoksam hung an arrow on his bowstring and aimed it at the bandit leader, causing a rumbling noise to spread throughout the area.
“You want to give it a try?”
“You crazy person is going to die!”
“Do you think a bow or something like that would work for a martial artist?”
A burst of ridicule and swearing.
However, Bangcheoksam calmly held his protest without any agitation.
The arrow that was fired flew in a straight line towards the chest of the bandit leader.
I let out an inward exclamation.
A thin layer of steel covering the surface of the arrowhead.
A person with a low level of skill would not even be able to recognize how powerful this attack was.
“That’s not even funny!”
The bandit leader pulled a sword from his belt and swung it.
The next moment, something amazing happened.
Following an unpleasant crash sound, the sword was cut in half.
The arrow penetrated deep into the bandit leader’s solar plexus as if there were no obstacles.
The bandit leader, who had been standing in place like a stone statue for a while, looking down at his chest, let out a suppressed groan and tore down the new figure.
The wide-open eyes showed how surprised he was.
‘Myeongbulheojeon (名不虛傳)’ is probably an expression used in times like this.
They say he is one of the best among the 100 great masters.
I have never seen anyone who has achieved this level of skill with a bow before.
In particular, his ability to freely control the shape of the river was amazing.
Even I, who had regained my previous life, did not have the confidence to perform such a skill.
In fact, Bang Cheok-sam himself did not show much emotional agitation.
Just silently preparing for the next attack.
This time, an arrow was inserted into each finger joint, and as many as three arrows were hung on the string.
The arrows flew in a parabolic arc and mercilessly pierced the skulls of the bandits.
The bandits, who were very indignant, each pulled out their weapons and shouted.
The messengers quickly formed a circle to protect the carriage.
Bangcheoksam continued to fire arrows at the protests.
Every time he let go of his protest, multiple bandits lost their lives.
The arrow did not fly in a straight line but sometimes took a curved trajectory.
There was even an arrow whose trajectory was bent at a right angle or which spun in the air like a wheel and landed in the back of the target’s head.
My eyes widened as I saw this miracle for the first time.
The bandits were blocked by the warriors and could not even approach Bangcheoksam.
There were some who couldn’t bear it anymore and threw away the weapons in their hands, but Bangcheoksam dodged them all by simply bending his head or bending his back.
It didn’t take long for the situation to be resolved.
The bandits, who judged that the situation was unfavorable, threw down their weapons and surrendered, and the soldiers captured them and took them away.
Pyodu looked back at Bangcheoksam and expressed his gratitude.
After receiving a proper greeting, Bangcheoksam entered the carriage again as if nothing had happened.
“It was amazing.”
Seo-yeon Dang spoke to Bang Cheok-sam with a surprised face.
The other party members also had expressions similar to hers.
“It wasn’t a big deal.”
Bangcheoksam’s calm reply was no different from before he left the carriage.
It was different from Nana and Tang Seo-yeon, who were covered in blood all over their bodies in the process of subduing bandits during the Kang Ho-haeng campaign in the past.
I drew a faint smile on my lips and muttered in my mind.
‘You’ve got a strong escort.’
* * *
Finally, we arrived at our destination, Guizhou.
My group and I parted ways with the ticket group and unpacked our luggage in a guesthouse nearby.
If it were just Damun and I, we would have headed straight to the Gwiju branch of the Murim Alliance, but we couldn’t because the rest of the group was not a member of the group.
After eating and resting, I decided to visit the branch early tomorrow morning.
After washing and changing my clothes, I entered the restaurant on the first floor of the guest house and ordered a large amount of food from Jeomsoy.
The restaurant was relatively quiet.
Apparently, business was not going well due to the turbulent atmosphere in the entire area.
The sight of a group of men sitting around a table in the corner, chatting among themselves, caught my eye.
“Did you hear the news?”
“I heard there are a series of disappearances happening around here these days?”
“This is my first time hearing this.”
“They say all the missing people are young women. Tell your daughter to be careful.”
As I was eavesdropping on the men’s conversation, I narrowed my eyes.
‘Serial disappearance cases?’