Light Novel: Volume 13 Episode 23
Two men ascended to the second floor, engaged in conversation.
One of them was a young man of noble appearance, dressed in a blue robe. His sharp gaze and well-defined jawline seemed to involuntarily cause those who looked at him to be intimidated.
The other was a spirited and fierce-looking young man wearing a sleeveless martial attire that exposed his shoulders. His muscular physique and his tanned skin similarly gave him an imposing appearance.
At their arrival, the people around Pyo-wol began to murmur amongst themselves.
“Isn’t that young master Zhao Yiguang of the Nanjing sect? He looks as extraordinary as the rumors say him to be.”
“Then the person he is with must be young master Bok Hojin of the Changjiang Fortress, right?”
“I heard that young master Zhao and young master Bok are close friends. It seems like it was true.”
The man wearing a blue robe was none other than Zhao Yiguang, while the one in sleeveless attire was Bok Hojin.
Zhao Yiguang had a reputation for being the successor of the Nanjing sect.
The Nanjing sect, which is also often referred to as the Zhao clan, is based in Nanjing, a city near Lake Tai. The Zhao clan is a prestigious family that wielded significant power and influence in Nanjing for generations.
With such a long-standing history, they managed to forge extensive connections and became powerful enough to be secretly recognized as the rulers of Jiangsu Province.
Zhao Yiguang, as the successor of the Nanjing sect, inherited his father’s influence and connections. Known for his admirable character and outstanding personality, many sought to establish ties with him.
On the other hand, Bok Hojin, who stood shoulder to shoulder with Zhao Yiguang, belonged to the Nokrim faction.1
The Nokrim faction was originally united under the Heavenly Heights Stronghold.2 However, as the years passed, the Heavenly Heights Stronghold was divided into two valleys and four fortresses.
The two valleys were Ziying Valley and Shaoyun Valley; while the four fortresses were Huaying Fortress, Gosan Fortress, Baekho Fortress, and Changjiang Fortress.
Although the Changjiang Fortress was considered the last of the four, it was the most influential. This was because it made use of the tributaries along Yangtze River.
They collected tolls at various locations along the said river, thus making them wealthier than most top factions.
Although prestigious families and factions belonging to the Nokrim are usually polar opposites, the Nanjing sect and Changjiang Fortress have been inseparable for decades, resulting in a close relationship between their respective heirs, Zhao Yiguang and Bok Hojin.
As if to prove this fact, the two walked up and took their seats amicably, paying no attention to the gazes of others.
The inn servant, who had recommended this floor to Pyo-wol earlier, quickly came up to them and bowed.
“Have the young masters arrived?”
“Are we the first ones here?”
“Bring us some drinks and food first.”
The inn servant replied before swiftly running downstairs.
When he finished ordering, Zhao Yiguang fanned himself and looked around the room. He could see many people’s eyes on him.
A cold smile crept upon Zhao Yiguang’s lips.
The way they watched him was reminiscent of rats in the slums. However, he couldn’t reveal his true feelings.
Disguising his true feelings with a smile, Zhao Yiguang looked at each and every person on the same floor.
At that moment, there was one man who caught his eye.
A man with a face as white as snow and a face more beautiful than a woman’s.
Pyo-wol’s appearance was so stunning that anyone could mistake him for a woman. Although Zhao Yiguang was confident in his appearance, compared to Pyo-wol, he felt as insignificant as a firefly before a full moon.
‘Was there such a person in Lake Tai?’
A vicious glint flashed through Zhao Yiguang’s eyes.
Whenever he encounter someone more handsome than himself, he would always feel the urge to punch them in the face. But he had no choice but to hold back for now. There were too many eyes watching him.
Bok Hojin studied Zhao Yiguang’s face carefully.
After knowing him for so many years, Bok Hojin could tell what Zhao Yiguang was thinking just by looking at his expression.
‘That bad habit of his still hasn’t changed.’
Bok Hojin smirked.
He was the only one who knew about Zhao Yiguang’s true personality. And as long as he kept his mouth shut, Zhao Yiguang could keep up his impeccable appearance, and no rumors about him would end up spreading.
Thud, thud, thud!
Just then, the sound of footsteps echoed through the stairs again.
The gaze of the two turned toward the stairs.
This time, the person who climbed the stairs was an incredibly beautiful woman. She possessed a dazzling appearance like a rose in full bloom.
The two men greeted her with delight.
“Ah, Lady Eum!”
“I apologize for being a little late.”
The woman made an apologetic expression. Upon seeing that, both men clapped their hands and spoke simultaneously,
“Oh, that’s not true! We also only arrived just now, so Lady Eum came right on time.”
“Lady Eum seems to have become even more beautiful.”
“Hoho! Both of you gentlemen seem to have become more handsome, too.”
The woman giggled as she teased them playfully.
Her name was Eum Yujeong.
Eum Yujeong was known for her reputation in the Sword Blossom Pavilion.3
The Sword Blossom Pavilion is a faction consisting of only women, located in the neighboring city of Taixing.
And its leader, Go Yeonsu, was a rising force to be reckoned with.
For some unknown reason, Go Yeonsu harbored extreme hatred towards men to the point that she refuses to accept a single male disciple, thus creating a faction consisting solely of women.
With only women present in their ranks, some men driven by desire and lust attempted to approach like flies. But, none of them survived.
Go Yeonsu’s hands were exceedingly cruel. She was especially more brutal towards the men, making her an object of terror.
Eum Yujeong was a disciple who inherited Go Yeonsu’s martial arts, but her temperament was quite different from Go Yeonsu’s.
With Eum Yujeong’s beautiful appearance and affectionate personality, many men liked her. Zhao Yiguang and Bok Hojin were no exception.
Eum Yujeong seemed to be aware of the men’s attention and interest in her, so she led the conversation with a constant twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her lips.
Their conversation continued until others joined them.
Four more martial artists followed.
When all seven of them gathered, they exchanged drinks with each other and chatted.
They did not gather with a specific purpose in mind. It was merely an informal get-together aimed at fostering camaraderie among the members of the Golden Heaven Society.
Nonetheless, the other people on the second floor looked at them with envy.
They knew that those seven people gathered here today would be the ones who would lead the future of Jiangsu Province. In their eyes, success was already within those seven indidivual’s grasp.
That was why the rest of the people on the floor eagerly sought an opportunity to intervene in their conversations.
Pyo-wol could clearly see the intentions of those people.
In fact, their intentions were so obvious that it would be strange not to notice.
There was only one reason why those people hadn’t bothered to rent out an entire floor, and instead held their gathering in such an accessible location, in full view of everyone else.
It was none other than to show off their power.
Pyo-wol had witnessed a similar scene before.
People seemed to have mostly the same mindset and thinking, given that a similar thing was happening even here.
Upon observing such recurring events, Pyo-wol found the ways of the world quite amusing.
His appetite suddenly dropped.
Just as Pyo-wol was about to stand up, leaving his food untouched, another person came up the stairs.
It was a man who had a tense expression on his face as he gazed at the members of the Golden Heaven Society.
It was also a face Pyo-wol had seen a few hours earlier.
‘Was his name Tang Ik-gi?’
The man with a rooster-like appearance was none other than Tang Ik-gi, whom Pyo-wol had seen at Cheolsan Workshop.
Tang Ik-gi walked straight to where Zhao Yiguang was.
“Young master Zhao! It’s me, Tang Ik-gi.”
“Oh, what brings you here, brother Tang?”
Zhao Yiguang smiled, pretending to know him. Seeing his reaction, Tang Ik-gi slightly lowered his head, and spoke with a somewhat defeated expression,
“I, I heard that young master Zhao was in this area, so I came by to pay my respects.”
“Oh! Is that so?”
Zhao Yiguang widened his eyes in surprise.
Tang Ik-gi inwardly cursed at Zhao Yiguang’s reaction.
‘What a cunning snake-like bastard! How much more do you want?’
Tang Ik-gi visit to this place was by no means a coincidence.
He had heard in advance that a meeting of the Golden Heaven Society would be taking place here so he came prepared.
Tang Ik-gi had not yet been accepted as a member of the Golden Heaven Society.
To join the said organization, the consent of existing members was required, and in Jiangsu Province, Zhao Yiguang had the greatest influence. Only when he manages to gain Zhao Yiguang’s approval would other members of the Golden Heaven Society also agree to let him join.
In the meantime, Tang Ik-gi had done everything possible to impress Zhao Yiguang. He even pretended to be on the verge of death, just to gain Zhao Yiguang’s attention.
At this point, Tang Ik-gi had done everything he could to deserve being accepted as a member, but Zhang Yiguang still maintained an ambiguous attitude, neither approving nor rejecting him.
Tang Ik-gi was driven even more crazy by Zhang Yiguang’s indecisiveness.
If Zhang Yiguang had outright rejected his application, Tang Ik-gi would not have had his hopes high up, but Zhang Yiguang continue giving him a vague answer, which drove him mad.
Tang Ik-gi had come to the meeting of the Golden Heaven Society today precisely because he no longer trusted Zhao Yiguang.
Tang Ik-gi believed that he could only enter mainstream society by joining the Golden Heaven Society.
If he could be a member of the Golden Heaven Society, he wouldn’t care about any humiliation he might face today.
Tang Ik-gi cautiously spoke, watching Zhao Yiguang’s reactions.
“Since we’ve already met, would it possible for me to join all of you here?”
“Well, I think we need to hear what the other members have to say about that. It is our unwritten rule not to include anyone if even one member feels uncomfortable. Do you understand, brother Tang?”
“Of, Of course, I do. If even one person feels uncomfortable, how could I possibly stay here?”
“Haha! I knew you would understand. All right then! I’ll now ask for the other members’ opinions.”
Zhao Yiguang laughed heartily as he looked at the rest of the members.
Although Tang Ik-gi was right in front of them, the other members didn’t even spare a glance at him. They were all busy chatting among themselves.
Zhao Yiguang turned to them and said,
“Now, pay attention, everyone. I have a new friend here who wants to join us today. I ask all of you to freely express your opinions on this matter.”
Only when Zhao Yiguan spoke did everyone’s eyes turned to Tang Ik-gi.
Tang Ik-gi’s face flushed red with embarassment
He was the successor to the Cheolsan family, a well-recognized and influential family in the region, yet here he was being treated like this. It was truly shameful. But, he had no choice.
If he couldn’t receive the approval of all these individuals then he wouldn’t be able to enter the Golden Heaven Society.
After Jang Mugeuk became the leader of the Golden Heaven Society, the status and prestige of the organization became even more remarkable.
It had already been difficult to become a member in the past, but after Jang Mugeuk became its head, the process became even more stringent, to the point where some people didn’t even dare to apply for membership.
If a person is affiliated with a sect in Jianghu, being a member of the Golden Heaven Society is necessary to receive favorable treatment.n-/O𝔳𝐄𝑙𝚋In
Tang Ik-gi regretted not joining the Golden Heaven Society earlier. If he had joined earlier, he wouldn’t have had to go through this rigorous process right now.
“How could we accept a new member when we already have so many? Having another one join doesn’t sit well with me.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to stabilize our current members first before accepting new ones?”
Negative sentiments immediately spread amongst the group.
Just as Tang Ik-gi’s face was turning dark, Eum Yujeong unexpectedly spoke up,
“Hoho! Rejecting someone who has come this far so openly would be too harsh, wouldn’t it? How about this? Let’s accept him as a temporary member for now, and see how he behaves. Depending on his behavior, we can decide whether or not we should accept him as a full member. Of course, if we deem him unsuitable, we can simply reject him, right?”
“Oh! Lady Eum has a point.”
“Lady Eum’s thoughts are indeed profound. I agree with Lady Eum’s idea.”
“I also think it’s best to follow Lady Eum’s suggestion.”
The other members echoed their agreement with Eum Yujeong’s opinion. Only Zhao Yiguang furrowed his brow, showing his displeasure.
Tang Ik-gi couldn’t help but feel uneasy as he noticed Zhao Yiguang’s reaction.
No matter how favorable Eum Yujeong was towards him, he knew that if Zhao Yiguang refused, it would still be the end.
Eum Yujeong was well aware of that fact as well. So as if she had a good idea, Eum Yujeong whispered to Zhao Yiguang,
As he listened to her, a faint smile appeared on Zhao Yiguang’s lips.
“Well, what if we do it this way?”
Everyone’s attention then focused on Zhao Yiguang.
Enjoying the attention, Zhao Yiguang continued,
“Let’s indeed accept brother Tang as a temporary member for now. However, to become a full member, brother Tang needs to make a significant contribution.”
“It literally means that brother Tang must make a significant contribution to Jianghu. If brother Tang manages to accomplish something that everyone recognizes, we will accept him as a member without any objections.”
“Haha, it’s quite a strategy. After all, there have been rumors going around that we form cliques and play favorites. But, of course, those rumors will surely disappear if we accept someone who has made a contribution to Jianghu, since the new member is more than suitable.”
“I agree as well. Indeed, Lady Eum’s thoughts are profound. I’m truly impressed.”
The members expressed their agreement with expressions of admiration.
On the other hand, Tang Ik-gi’s expression contorted in an unpleasant manner.
It was all well and good to tell him to make a significant contribution, but at this point, there was nothing he could do that would qualify as a significant contribution.
Above all, Tang Ik-gi had no desire to throw himself into dangerous situations. If he had that kind of personality, he wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to join the Golden Heaven Society.
“If everyone agrees, we will accept brother Tang as a temporary member.”
“Congratulations on becoming a temporary member.”
In response to Zhao Yiguang’s declaration, each member offered a word of congratulations to Tang Ik-gi. Tang Ik-gi only forcibly smiled at them in return.
He had no choice but to keep a smile on his face because if he lost his temper here, he would undoubtedly lose even his temporary membership.
At that moment, a man dining alone entered his field of vision.
It was the same man he had seen in the workshop during the day.
Tha man was so handsome that it got on Tang Ik-gi’s nerves, so even if he had only seen him once, the image of the man was deeply engraved in his mind.
He could even see that dastardly Eum Yujeong sneaking sideways glances at him.
Right now, Tang Ik-gi needed something to vent out his anger on.
Pyo-wol be minding his own business in a corner yet still manages to attract unwanted trouble T-T. Anyway, thank you for reading!
Nokrim. In Chinese martial arts, the name, Nokrim usually refers to a group of bandits, thieves, or organized gangsters. Heavenly Heights Stronghold. Raws: 천고성 (天高城). 天 tiān – day / sky / heaven 高 gāo – high / tall / above average / loud / your (honorific) 城 chéng – city walls / city / town Sword Blossom Pavilion. Raws: 검화각(劍花閣). 劍 jiàn – double-edged sword 花 huā – flower / blossom 閣 gé – pavilion