The Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe’s lodgings coincidentally happened to be the same inn where Pyo-wol was staying.
They chose to stay in this particular inn because the more upscale inns such as the Celestial Origin Pavilion were already occupied by martial artists belonging to the Golden Heaven Society.
Furthermore, the inn where Pyo-wol was staying also had its own stable. The troupe could use the stable to place the horses they rode in on.
As soon as the troupe entered, the inn instantly became very lively.
They are performers who travel around the world entertaining people, so their conversations were bound to be engaging and entertaining, fitting for people used to performing in front of crowds.
The members of the troupe were diverse.
There were those who performed on stage, musicians who played instruments, and singers. More than thirty people were gathered in the restaurant on the first floor of the inn, chatting and socializing.
Their lively conversations made the inn as noisy as a market.
“I heard that the place we are performing this time is truly magnificent?”
“It’s been a long time since we’ve performed in a sect.”
“Everyone needs to keep their wits about them. We can’t afford to make a mistake and risk a disaster.”
“Don’t worry. Haven’t we done this one or two times before? Hahaha!”
The faces of the members of the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe were filled with pride.
Although they were a relatively new troupe, they had already successfully performed countless shows. In the past few years, there was no other troupe with a more successful career than them.
The musicians sat down and began playing their instruments. They wanted to make sure that none of their instruments were broken or damaged.
As the musicians played, the singer who was sitting next to them, started singing.
Their singing sparked another round of excitement.
It was a lively atmosphere.
A beautiful woman in her early thirties looked at them with a smile on her face.
The mature and charming woman was Yi Okran, the deputy leader of the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe. She was currently managing the troupe on behalf of their busy leader.
She was the embodiment of grace and refinement, having grown up in the theatrical troupe since she was a child.
Just then, one of the performers approached her.
“I haven’t seen the leader since earlier. Where did he go?”
“He went out to meet someone.”
“He knows someone here? Isn’t it our first time here?”
The performer looked puzzled.
“You know the leader, he has a wide network.”
“Don’t worry about the leader. He’s someone who can handle things on his own.”
“Well, that’s true.”
“We only need to focus on the performance that will take place in two days. We need to prepare well from now on so we don’t make any mistakes.”
“I’ll make sure not to make any mistakes.”
“You better, but for now, let’s drink and enjoy ourselves to our hearts’ content. After all, we’ll be busy again tomorrow.”
The performer replied and then retreated.
Yi Okran, who was left alone, muttered to herself.
“He really is a busy man…”
* * *
Without a sound, the window opened and a black figure entered the room. He was wearing a black robe and a hat that covered the top part of his face.1
As the black figure reached his robe, a curved dagger appeared.
He approached the bed silently, like a cat.
There was someone sleeping on the bed, under the blanket.
The person seemed to be sound asleep, with how he was breathing heavily.
The black figure raised his curved dagger and aimed it at the chest of the person under the blanket.
However, the curved dagger didn’t manage to stab the chest of the sleeping man. The man under the blanket parried the incoming dagger with his own blade he had hidden underneath.
The person had clearly been sound asleep just a moment ago. Yet, he had sensed the black figure’s surprise attack and counterattack in return.n𝕠𝚟𝑬.𝓵𝗯(In
A gleam of admiration appeared in the black figure’s eyes.
No one had ever noticed his sneak attacks before, but his opponent right now had not only sensed it, but also counterattacked.
It was surprising, but the black figure thought it was natural. He would have been disappointed if the person had simply succumbed to his attack.
The person shook off the blanket and got up, revealing a face more beautiful than a woman’s.
The moonlight shining through the window illuminated his face, making his appearance even more exquisite.
The once sleeping person was Pyo-wol.
The black figure swung his curved dagger at Pyo-wol’s face.
It was a blow with the intention of deeply scarring his face.
However, his attack was also deflected by Pyo-wol’s phantom dagger.
The black figure didn’t give up and continued to swing his curved dagger again and again.
The curved dagger and phantom dagger clashed in midair.
The black figure aimed only for Pyo-wol’s vital points. Each of his strikes was powerful enough to instantly kill.
In the blink of an eye, they moved their fight outside. Before anyone knew it, they were flying out of windows and onto the roofs of the neighboring houses.
They sprinted across the roof, swinging their weapons at each other.
It was natural to wonder about the identity of the attacker, but Pyo-wol didn’t ask any questions. The black figure naturally didn’t talk either.
Only the chilling sound of weapons clashing echoed in the area.
Their fight under the moonlight was beautiful like a performance, but the people inside the houses were oblivious to the fact that a fierce fight was happening right above their heads.
The fight quickly reached its climax.
It was Pyo-wol who brought the fight to an end.
His phantom dagger sliced the hat worn by the black figure. The hat split in two like bamboo, revealing the black figure’s face in the moonlight.
He had an appearance reminiscent of a goblin, with his dark eyes, and a slightly curved back.
It was an appearance far from ordinary in many ways.
He then spoke,
“Your skills are still the same.”
“You were alive?”
“Hehe! It’s thanks to you–!”
He grinned, revealing his yellow teeth.
“Thanks to me…?”
“Thanks to the crazy thing you did, a gap appeared in the Heaven and Earth Net. It was thanks to that that I was able to survive.”
“So that’s how you managed to escape and started your own troupe, So Gyeoksan?”
“It’s been my longtime dream.”
The black figure, So Gyeoksan, sheathed his curved dagger and approached Pyo-wol.
He was one of the children who had been raised as assassins alongside Pyo-wol in the underground cave.
He was a gloomy child who was known as the Greedy Spirit Wolf.2
It was also from him where Pyo-wol first learned the art of changing his appearance.
Despite his unexpected encounter with So Gyeoksan, Pyo-wol was not surprised, for he had always considered that he might still be alive.
He didn’t know about the others, but he knew that So Gyeoksan and So Yeowol weren’t the kind of people who would die easily. They were the type who would try to survive no matter what.
“What about So Yeowol and Song Cheonwoo?”
“Kuku! After we broke through the Heaven and Earth Net, we parted ways.”
“So they’re still alive.”
“We didn’t go through all that hardship just to die easily. After all we’ve gone through, we can’t just die without gaining any fame or wealth.”
“Did you come here looking for me?”
“Kukuku! That’s right! I was traveling and performing around Jianghu when I heard a rumor about a certain assassin. At first I didn’t think it was you, because, as you know, there’s an organisation called the Hundred Wraith Union, and they control the assassin market. But then I heard that the assassin’s face was more beautiful than a woman’s, and that his name was Pyo-wol. At that point, even a fool can figure out your identity.”
So Gyeoksan chuckled.
He hadn’t changed at all.
He still seemed to be living in his own world.
Pyo-wol looked at So Gyeoksan and said,
“There’s a strong smell of blood on your dagger. Seems like you’re not satisfied with just being the leader of a traveling troupe.”
“Kukuku! Shouldn’t you know best about our nature? I occasionally satisfy my thirst for blood on the side.”
“You should leave when you have the chance. If you keep on lingering here, you’ll end up being caught and killed.”
“Is the great Pyo-wol worried about me? The world is about to turn upside down! Kukukuku!”
So Gyeoksan laughed maniacally.
Pyo-wol only stared at him silently.
Just as So Gyeoksan didn’t know much about Pyo-wol, Pyo-wol knew very little about So Gyeoksan.
Other than the fact that they had been raised as assassins in an underground cave, they had no common ground to feel affection for each other.
They sometimes cooperated out of necessity, but in the end, they didn’t trust each other. That’s why even after meeting each other after such a long time, Pyo-wol looked at So Gyeoksan with a cold gaze.
So Gyeoksan didn’t trust Pyo-wol either.
When he attacked Pyo-wol, he didn’t hold back at all. He didn’t care nor consider the possibility that Pyo-wol might get hurt.
If Pyo-wol could avoid all of his attacks, then good for him, but if he couldn’t, then So Gyeoksan didn’t care if he ended up dying at his hands.
That’s how little he thought of Pyo-wol’s existence.
With his trademark sly smile, So Gyeoksan said,
“This isn’t the place for this, let’s have a drink.”
Without waiting for Pyo-wol’s response, he headed out.
Pyo-wol stared at So Gyeoksan’s back for a moment, before following suit.
The place where So Gyeoksan had gone was the same inn where he had attacked Pyo-wol. It was also the same accommodation where the traveling theater troupe led by So Gyeoksan stayed.
Since it was already late at night, the restaurant on the first floor was quiet. The members of the troupe had all gone to bed.
However, only one person was still awake, waiting for So Gyeoksan.
The beautiful woman who calmly greeted So Gyeoksan was Yi Okran, the deputy leader of the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe.
So Gyeoksan grinned and said,
“I met a friend. His name is Pyo-wol. He’s quite famous in Jianghu these days.”
Pyo-wol appeared behind So Gyeoksan.
Yi Okran’s eyes lit up once she saw Pyo-wol’s face.
“Your friend is handsome.”
“He’s so handsome it’s almost unpleasant. I wanted to slash his face with a knife if I could.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I tried, but I failed miserably.”
“My goodness! Your friend must be quite the skilled martial artist.”
“Kukuku! That’s right, you better watch out, because he’s not just good at martial arts.”
The red corners of Yi Okran’s lips slightly curled up.
She bowed gracefully to Pyo-wol.
“I, Yi Okran, the vice-leader of the Heavenly Flower Troupe, greet you, Master Pyo-wol. Please take care of me from now on.”
“I don’t know if we’ll have a chance to meet again.”
“Who knows what the future holds. Anyway, I have to wake up the servants for them to prepare some drinks.”
“I don’t drink.”
“Our leader loves to drink. Even when I nag him not to, he just won’t listen.”
Yi Okran immediately got up and went to wake up the servants.
When they were alone, So Gyeoksan sat down and said,
“When did you start drinking?”
“Hehe! You’re strange. Shouldn’t you enjoy life a little since you’ve found your freedom? How long are you going to live like a monk, suppressing all your desires? Life isn’t that long. Do everything you can while you still can.”
“I don’t want to hear that from you.”
“Kuku! Is that so?”
“Since when did you become the leader of a theater troupe?”
“It’s been a few years. At first, I tried to make a living as an assassin, after all, everything I’ve learned so far was how to kill. But the world isn’t easy. To be a proper assassin, I had to join the Hundred Wraith Union, but I didn’t like the idea.”
“Is it because of the Blood Shadow Group?”
So Gyeoksan nodded.
He clenched his jaw, as if the mere thought of it vexed him.
“That’s right! Why would I want to belong to another organization when I’ve just been freed from the Blood Shadow Group? So that’s why I started my own troupe. It was difficult at first, but now, we’ve managed to establish ourselves and are making a decent living. You can join us if you want.”
“Too bad. I’m sure there’s plenty of women who would love to see you because of your face. In any case, let me know if you change your mind.”
“I’m sure you didn’t come here just to talk about that. Why are you really here?”
“I told you, we’re here to perform for the Jin family.”
“If you’re going to keep talking nonsense, I’m going to leave.”
“You still have a filthy personality.”
Suddenly, So Gyeoksan’s expression changed.
“I have a request for you, Pyo-wol!”
OMG. I didn’t expect Pyo-wol would meet someone from his past here. Anyway, thank you for reading!
Hat. Raws: Bangrip, 방립. It would look similar to the man on the left.
Greedy Spirit Wolf. Raws: 탐혼랑(貪魂狼). His nickname was also mentioned in chapter 13. 貪 tān – greedy, covet; covetous 魂 hún – soul, spirit 狼 láng, làng, lǎng, hǎng – wolf