“Take a look at this.”
“What is it?”
Do Yeonsan responded to his colleague’s call, without turning his head.
“Look at this. It’s really fascinating.”
“What’s so special about it?”
“Just take a look.”
As Do Yeonsan’s reaction was indifferent, his colleague grabbed his hand and pulled him towards his own workbench. Do Yeonsan finally let go of the hammer he was holding and went to his colleague’s workstation.
On the colleague’s workbench, there was a large mineral of unknown identity.
“What’s so fascinating about it? It’s just a rock, isn’t it?”
“It’s not an ordinary rock.”
“What’s so special about it?”
Using a hammer and chisel, his coworker gently chipped off a small piece of the mineral. He then placed the extracted mineral fragment, which was about the size of a child’s fingernail, into a transparent container filled with water.
As the mineral got in touch with the liquid, something amazing happened.
Suddenly, the mineral began to dissolve, emitting a cloud of smoke in turn.
In that moment, his colleague grabbed his hand and exclaimed,
“Stay back! It’s poisonous.”
Do Yeonsan’s eyes widened in surprise.
His coworker threw a prepared rat into the transparent container and quickly closed the lid.
The initially cloudy smoke soon turned transparent.
The truly astonishing event occurred at that moment.
The seemingly perfectly healthy rat suddenly vomited blood and died.
“Is it dead?”
“What? What happened?”
“I don’t know either!”
“If you don’t know, then who would?”
Do Yeonsan asked with an incredulous look on his face, but his colleague only shrugged his shoulders and said,
“This material was probably mixed in with the iron brought in from Nanman this time. I think someone thought it was iron ore and placed it together.”
Tang Cheolsan, the owner of the Cheolsan Workshop, was an extremely ambitious man.
He wanted to establish a workshop that surpassed the old Tang clan. That’s why he imported rare minerals not only from the Central Plains but also from outside, such as the Western Region, to use in weapon-making.
Among the minerals brought from outside the Central Plains, there were some that had the ability to increase the strength of weapons.
The mineral that Do Yeonsan’s colleague was testing right now was one of those imported minerals.
“It looked different from regular iron ore, so I decided to test it by chipping off a small piece. But then I forgot and left it by the water while I attended to other tasks.”
“Well, the dog we keep in the workshop was playing around and accidentally dropped some mineral fragments into the water.”
“Dog? Do you mean Gu Deokryong’s dog?”
“Yes, Gu Deokryong’s dog.”
Gu Deokryong was one of the skilled craftsmen at the Cheolsan Workshop.
He was an arrogant man who claimed to have some skill and handled apprentices like catching mice. That’s why all the apprentices disliked him.
Perhaps because he resembled his master, Gu Deokryong’s dog also had an unpleasant temperament and caused many accidents.
Because of that, all the apprentices wanted to kill the dog. But they couldn’t dare to touch it because they were all wary and afraid of Gu Deokryong.
“When the mineral fragment fell into the water, the dog sniffed around and growled. Then smoke suddenly started rising.”
“Well, after the dog sniffed the smoke, it died just as quickly as that rat. So, I decided to test it.”
“Oh my god!”
“Isn’t it amazing? A mineral that becomes extremely poisonous when it comes into contact with water. I’ve never heard of such a thing before, and I’m sure no other craftsmen in this workshop knows that such a thing exists!”
His colleague exclaimed with excitement.
He was extremely thrilled due to the emergence of a new mineral he had never encountered before. But to Do Yeonsan, his colleague’s behavior seemed very dangerous.
“If we study this thing well, we might be able to discover and come up with something truly extraordinary. Just like the hidden weapons from the true Tang clan in Sichuan, we might even be able to create a legacy or vision unique to Cheolsan Workshop, and not just a fake version of the Tang clan as we have now.”
“I think it’s better to leave it alone.”
“It’s dangerous. If you handle the material wrong, you might get poisoned and die even before you have a chance to create something.”
“Oh, come on! Seriously?”
Despite Do Yeonsan’s concerns, his colleague didn’t seem to pay much attention.
He had an excited expression, thinking about how he could create interesting things with this mineral.
Several ideas for items made using the mineral also came to Do Yeonsan’s mind, but he deliberately ignored them.
There was a high probability that he would get hurt if he tried to create something with such dangerous material.
It was then.
“What’s wrong with Dabok? Why is it dead?”
Gu Deokryong’s pitiful voice could be heard from outside.
Do Yeonsan told his colleague,
“Hide that thing first. If we make a mistake, we might get beaten to death by that asshole.”
His colleague hurriedly hid the mineral under the workbench.
Gu Deokryong gathered all the apprentices together.
He interrogated the apprentices, trying to find the culprit behind his dog’s death. However, no one opened their mouths.
In the end, the apprentices received harsh punishment from Gu Deokryong throughout the night.
“Ha! Damn it!”
Do Yeonsan sighed as he looked at himself in the mirror.
He couldn’t sleep properly the previous night because of Gu Deokryong, so his eyes were completely bloodshot. The fact that he had to go home in this state saddened him.n.(0𝑽𝖊1𝐛1n
Today was the day he finally got to go home after a long time.
Life as an apprentice in the Cheolsan Workshop was very strict. Apprentices are not allowed to wander and roam around outside casually. Their travels have to be strictly controlled and monitored because the Cheolsan Workshop wanted to prevent their secrets from being leaked.
This is also the reason why apprentices have to live inside the workshop and could only go home on certain days.
Finally, the one day in a month when he was allowed to go out arrived, but unfortunately the day before today, Gu Deokryong’s dog died, causing them great distress. It was truly a terrible situation with bad timing.
Still, Do Yeonsan tried hard to smile.
He couldn’t show a sad face when he finally got to go home and see his family after a long time.
He changed into his cleanest clothes and left the Cheolsan Workshop.
In his arms, he carried three silver coins.
This was the money he’d earned secretly after selling his item to Pyo-wol.
He wanted to see the happy faces of his parents and younger sibling, so he walked quickly.
His house was located in the outskirts, in a poor neighborhood, and since the Cheolsan Workshop was also in the outskirts, it didn’t take him long to reach home.
“Mom! Dad! Suyin!”
Do Yeonsan called out to his family loudly as he rushed into the house. However, he felt something was off about the atmosphere inside the house.
There was a chilling coldness, and there was no warmth at all.
Do Yeonsan called out as he cautiously walked around.
It was strange that the people who would normally run out at the sound of his footsteps didn’t rush out to greet him.
He had a foreboding feeling, and his intuition soon turned to be right.
The moment he opened his parent’s room, his eyes widened,
“M, Mom! Dad! What happened?!”
His parents were lying on the floor, covered in blood.
Do Yeonsan hurriedly embraced their bodies and shouted,
But there was no response. They did not even a twitch.
They had already stopped breathing.
The coldness of their bodies indicated that they had been dead for quite some time.
Do Yeonsan held their bodies tightly and cried his eyes out.
It was only after a long time did Do Yeonsan regained back his senses.
He frantically searched the house for his one and only younger sibling. However, there was no sign of his sibling anywhere in the house.
* * *
Pyo-wol went to the restaurant on the first floor of the inn for breakfast.
“That guy is Pyo-wol, right?”
As he appeared, whispers started going all around the room.
The events that took place on the second floor last night had already spread like wildfire.
Until now, very few people in the general public knew of Pyo-wol’s name and title. However, those who had witnessed the encounter between Pyo-wol and the Golden Heaven Society yesterday eagerly spread the word about him.
They described Pyo-wol as someone more beautiful than a woman, possessing martial art skills that are not inferior to the young talents of Jiangsu Province. Above all, his martial arts prowess was so great that he defeat Tang Ik-gi in one fell swoop.
All of these things were enough to attract the attention of the masses.
That was why after the Golden Heaven Society finished their gathering on this floor, the guests hurriedly went to other inns and gossiped about what they had witnessed.
Word spread quickly, and in just one night, there were hardly any people in Lake Tai who didn’t know Pyo-wol.
Among them, some people even came to see Pyo-wol this early in the morning.
They admired Pyo-wol’s beautiful appearance.
“They say he is more beautiful than a woman–”
“He really is mesmerizing to look at.”
The customers shook their heads with an expression of disbelief.
Since Lake Tai is known for its red-light district, there were plenty of beautiful ladies, as well as handsome individuals. Thanks to that, the standards of the people living in Lake Tai were quite high. They had quite discerning eyes that to the point that they normally don’t pay much attention to ordinary beauties and handsome individuals.
However, Pyo-wol’s appearance was on a completely different level.
There was nothing ordinary about him, from his facial features to the look in his eyes.
Just by taking a glance at his face, their minds would become hazy.
All the beautiful women and handsome individuals they had seen so far paled in comparison.
“This is madness! Truly insane!”
As someone casually uttered those words, everyone in the room nodded their heads as if in agreement with the offhand remark.
As Pyo-wol sat down, the inn servant quickly came over to his side.
“Were you able to sleep comfortably last night?”
“It was fine.”
“I’m glad to hear that, hehe!”
The inn servant smiled brightly.
He was already friendly and kind yesterday, but he seemed even more so today.
This was because he had witnessed how Pyo-wol defeated Tang Ik-gi yesterday.
For Tang Ik-gi, it might have been an unforgettable humiliation, but for the inn servant, it was a sight that would remain as a lifelong pride.
The way Pyo-wol subdued and defeated Tang Ik-gi within a few moves, even exuding a presence that surpassed even the most powerful masters of the Golden Heaven Society, was still deeply imprinted in his mind.
Just looking at Pyo-wol seemed to make his heart bloom with grandeur.
“You need to eat, right?”
“Hehe, wait here for a bit. The chef has prepared a special dish for you.”
“A special dish?”
“Yes! It’s a dish that the chef only serves to esteemed guests, and everyone who tasted it said that the dish has heavenly taste.”
The inn servant’s face was filled with pride.
He didn’t have any particular preference for food nor did he have a gourmet nature, but he saw no reason to refuse someone else’s hospitality.
The inn servant quickly poured warm tea into the cup in front of Pyo-wol.
“For the meantime, enjoy this tea while you wait. I’ll be right back.”
After placing the tea kettle on the table, Jum Soi swiftly dashed into the kitchen.
Left alone, Pyo-wol looked out the window.
He was aware that the guests inside the restaurant were stealing glances at him, but he didn’t pay much attention to it.
He knew well how his splendid appearance captivated people’s gazes, and he had become accustomed to such situations.
Now, the fleeting glances from people didn’t bother him, nor did they feel burdensome.
People only glanced at Pyo-wol secretly, like sneaky cats. No one actually approached him to speak.
Thanks to that, Pyo-wol can peacefully stare out the window, enjoying the panoramic view of Lake Tai while he waits for his food to be served.
The surface of Lake Tai, bathed in the morning sunlight, sparkled like jewels, and above it were fishermen who had set out their nets since dawn, busy pulling it in.
The scene was beautiful, like a painting.
To those who were accustomed to such landscapes, it would be just another part of their daily routine, but to Pyo-wol, it evoked a strange feeling.
Being raised as an assassin had robbed him of his basic human emotions, leaving him devoid of any empathy and unresponsive to external stimuli.
Pyo-wol himself knew that fact well. However, the four months he had spent on Tianzhongshan brought about a great change in him.
The change wasn’t limited to mere martial accomplishments or deepening of his skills. Something had changed within his mind as well.
Now, he was able to look at these landscapes not with an indifferent gaze, but with eyes filled with inspiration.
The beautiful landscape led him into a world of contemplation.
For a martial artist who had reached a high level of cultivation like Pyo-wol, moments of contemplation like this were extremely precious.
After all, it could become a catalyst for unexpected insights.
However, at that moment, there was a voice that disturbed his contemplation.
“Isn’t it beautiful?”
Although the voice was soft and considerate, it shattered Pyo-wol’s thoughts like glass falling on the ground.
Pyo-wol’s brows furrowed slightly as he looked at the owner of the voice.
A woman, dressed extravagantly, was smiling at him.
There were over a dozen pieces of accessories pinned to her elaborately styled hair. The accessories, painstakingly crafted by artisans, were so beautiful that their value could not be measured. But, what was truly beautiful more than anything was the woman’s face itself.
The presence before his eyes proved how beautiful a woman could become as long as she put her heart into adorning herself.
The woman, who had a seductive smile on her face as she looked at Pyo-wol was Eum Yujeong.