Hong Yushin’s role in the Hao clan was by no means insignificant. Despite the wariness that came with the position of chief inspector, his ability to handle matters fairly and respond swiftly to changes in the world’s affairs was welcomed by everyone.
It is to Hong Yushin’s credit that many scattered branches throughout the land were able to function relatively smoothly. He would regularly visit every branch from time to time and diligently perform his primary task of gathering information.
Furthermore, he possessed excellent skills in coordinating numerous branches. Even if the branches all belonged to the same organization, conflicts of interest sometimes happen among neighboring regions.
But Hong Yushin would wisely resolve such issues every time, causing him to earn the support of many branch managers.
That was why when Hong Yushin disappeared, problems began to erupt in many branches.
The Hao clan became in a state of emergency.
Pyo-wol understood the situation of the Hao clan through the old butcher’s explanation.
Since Hong Yushin’s disappearance, the Hao clan’s Lake Tai branch had not received proper support, leading to a decline in their activities.
Furthermore, since this branch uses a slaughterhouse as a front, unlike other places which use a brothel, there was a significant difference in the quantity and quality of information.
While a courtesans’ laughter can make a person let down their guard, a butchers’ presence only makes the other person heighten their vigilance.
“Of course, it’s not that we have no information capabilities at all. It’s just that the process of gathering information takes time, which inevitably delays our handling of tasks.”
“How long will it take?”
“Two days. I will thoroughly have everything about the Cheolsan Manor investigated and provide you with all the information after two days.”
“Very well, do so.”
If the capabilities of the Hao clan’s Lake Tai branch was only to that extent, then there was no reason for Pyo-wol to push and rush them any further. It wasn’t like he was in a hurry anyway, so Pyo-wol should be satisfied with that.
“I’m staying at Lake Tai’s First Pavilion for the time being, so send the information there.”
The old butcher replied obediently.
There was a faint hint of fear in his eyes as he looked at Pyo-wol.
He had lived his whole life seeing the blood of beasts.
While others dismissed it as a lowly job, he considered it his calling and had done his best in it.
Having his life spent on slaughtering animals, he eventually reached the level of a master.
Even if he’s dealing with the large cattle, he would be able to painlessly end its life with a single cut of his knife.
And because the cattle he kills never experience the pain of death, the meat of the cattle he kills were unusually tender. This was also the reason why many of his customers wanted to be supplied with cattle that he had killed himself.n𝐎𝒱𝔢(𝑙𝒷-In
If the old butcher set his mind to it, he could kill a person just as easily.
Whenever he looked at a person, he could see the other person’s weakness.
He could pinpoint the area where he could kill the other person in an instant.
The old butcher couldn’t explain it in words, but he knew that once he sliced through that area, any living creature would inevitably meet its end.
He had seen such weakness in every creature he had come across.
There might have been slight differences in the location every time, but the point of weakness was undoubtedly there.
However, as the old butcher continued to stare at the man in front of him right now, he saw no such thing.
No matter how hard he squinted, he couldn’t see any traces of weaknesses.
Instead, he felt as if something sharp was piercing through his own forehead.
He was startled by the unfamiliar sensation he was experiencing for the first time in his life. But it didn’t take him long to realize.
That the sensation he was feeling right now was the same sensation that the cows and pigs he had killed felt.
‘Am I having my weakness pinpointed instead?’
The old master felt shivers running through his whole body.
The ‘weakness’ the old butcher was referring to that was present in every living creature, was what Pyo-wol referred to as the Acupoint of Life and Death.
The Acupoint of Life and Death changes its location at every moment, in accordance with a person’s constitution, the surrounding environment, and the changing seasons.
Even if it’s a minor strike, if a person, or any living creature for that matter, is hit in their acupoints, then they could easily have their life ended.
If Pyo-wol had not worked at the slaughterhouse, he would never have discovered such a principle.
‘People refer to him as the Reaper in Jianghu. I guess the rumors weren’t exaggerated.’
If Pyo-wol had harbored any evil intentions, then the old butcher would no longer be standing here, alive, right now. It was certain that he would have died without knowing how his breath had been cut off– just like all the other cows and pigs he had slaughtered so far.
The fact that the other party had shown leniency made him feel even more fearful.
‘He is a man I must never turn against.’
The old butcher rubbed his arms, which were filled with goosebumps, as he watched Pyo-wol’s retreating figure.
When Pyo-wol was finally out of sight, the old butcher turned to the younger butchers.
“For the next two days, close the slaughterhouse and collect all information about Cheolsan manor and their workshop.”
* * *
Pyo-wol left the slaughterhouse and strolled along the riverbank.
Lake Tai was not only connected to the Yangtze River, but also to other small streams. When combined with nameless small rivers and streams, there were dozens of branches extending like branches of a tree, interconnected.
The place where Pyo-wol was walking was one of these unnamed streams.
The scenery along the riverbank was so beautiful that not only Pyo-wol, but also many others were walking around, enjoying the view.
If Pyo-wol’s memory serves him right, then someone from Cheolsan manor was definitely the one who had hired the Hundred Wraith Union’s assassin to steal the vision and legacy of the Tang clan from Tang Sochu.
It was because of them why Tang Sochu had to move his workshop to Pyo-wol’s mansion, still living in seclusion.
Pyo-wol had promised Tang Sochu that he would solve this problem for him.
While Pyo-wol hadn’t come to Lake Tai knowing beforehand that Cheolsan manor was located here, now that he knew about the existence of Cheolsan manor and workshop, he couldn’t just ignore it and pass by.
That was why he had hired the Hao clan to gather information about Cheolsan’s manor.
He needed to confirm whether or not someone from Cheolsan’s manor was responsible for commissioning the Hundred Wraith Union to harm Tang Sochu.
Waiting for two more days will make it certain.
It wouldn’t be too late to make a move by then.
Pyo-wol could hear people laughing around him.
As Pyo-wol looked around, he could see couples walking together, excitement evident on their faces. There were also scholars busy painting and writing beneath a large tree, and people who had their feet dipped in the river, laughing and talking around. Pyo-wol could also see children running and playing along the riverbank.
It was truly a peaceful scene.
But the peace did not last long.
Suddenly, a woman’s piercing scream rang out.
“What was that?”
People in the area rushed towards the source of the scream, alarmed by the sudden commotion.
A moment later, people began to chatter,
“It’s a corpse!”
“A body has been washed up!”
“Oh my god! It’s a dead body of a young girl!”
Pyo-wol walked to the place where the people had gathered.
The group of people had gathered by the riverside, where the reeds were in full bloom.
Pyo-wol pushed his way through the crowd, and there, he saw the partially submerged body of a young girl in the water.
The sight of the girl’s corpse was extremely gruesome.
Her body was swollen from the water, making it impossible to recognize her original face, and her flesh was covered with fish-like gills.
Pyo-wol noticed that all of the girl’s fingernails and toenails had also been pulled out of her body.
It was undoubtedly marks of torture.
Not only had someone committed a heinous act against the girl, but they had also cruelly tortured her.
The brutality of the method was so gruesome that it made even a cold-blooded man like Pyo-wol frown.
At that moment, something caught Pyo-wol’s eye.
It was a necklace hanging around the girl’s neck.
The necklace itself was nothing special. It wasn’t made of precious metals like gold or silver, nor did it have special gemstones embedded in it.
What caught Pyo-wol’s eye was the pattern drawn in the center of the round necklace.
Two intersecting circles.
Pyo-wol reached into his pocket and took out the weapon he recently bought, the cow hair needle.
The same symbol was drawn on the cloth that was wrapped around the weapon.
Pyo-wol involuntarily let out a sigh.
He felt like he knew who the dead girl was.
He took the necklace off the girl’s neck.
Due to the chaotic atmosphere, no one noticed Pyo-wol taking the necklace.
Pyo-wol pushed his way through the crowd and made his way outside.
Word had already spread that a body had been found, so there were a lot more people arriving in the scene.
The reality of someone’s death being nothing more than a mere spectacle to others unfolded before Pyo-wol’s eyes.
He didn’t blame them.
After all, he wasn’t emotionally sensitive to that extent, nor did he believe that people were inherently good.
Pyo-wol’s gaze suddenly traveled up the hill.
There, he saw a young man who appeared to be wandering on the hillside, accompanied by another person who seemed to be escorting him.
It was the young man that caught Pyo-wol’s attention.
With a smile on his lips, the young man was looking at the gathering of people, seemingly enjoying the scene. Then, as if sensing Pyo-wol’s gaze, he turned his head in his direction.
The gazes of the two met in the air.
At that moment, the young man hastily lowered his head to hide his face.
The young man quickly disappeared along with his escort.
Since the young man was too far away, and he had his head lowered, Pyo-wol couldn’t properly confirm the young man’s face.
But even if Pyo-wol couldn’t see the young man’s face, there was something eerily familiar about his atmosphere.
Pyo-wol felt like he had encountered the young man recently.
With an uneasy heart, he climbed up the hill to take a closer look, but the man had already disappeared and was nowhere to be seen.
Pyo-wol immediately headed to the Cheolsan’s workshop after that.
It was the place where he had bought the cow hair needle.
Since he had already been there once, finding the Cheolsan Workshop wasn’t difficult.
“Welcome. How can I assist you?”
The shopkeeper greeted Pyo-wol as he entered the workshop.
Pyo-wol looked around, but he couldn’t see Do Yeonsan anywhere in the workshop.
“Is Do Yeonsan not here?”
The shopkeeper had a puzzled expression.
He was surprised that a customer would know the name of a mere apprentice.
“Excuse me, sir, but what is your relationship with Yeonsan?”
“I bought something from him.”
“Did that brat sell something he had made himself again? That damn bastard—”
The shopkeeper’s face contorted in disbelief.
Something like this must have probably happened before.
But it didn’t matter to Pyo-wol.
“Where is he?”
“Excuse me? Why would you want to know?”
“I want to see him.”
“He’s not here at the moment. If it’s regarding a refund, you can talk to me.”
“I want to talk to him directly.”
“He’s not available right now.”
“Well, the young master has sent him on an errand.”
“Then call him.”
The shopkeeper gave Pyo-wol an incredulous look.
He couldn’t understand why Pyo-wol, who was a stranger, was referring to his boss like a neighborhood dog.
Most people would argue with the customer and try to grab them by the collar in such a situation, but the shopkeeper responded calmly,
“The young master isn’t here either. But if you have something to tell him, please let me know.”
“So, I really can’t meet him in person?”
“How can I make someone who’s not here meet you?”
“When will Tang Ik-gi return?”
“How could a lowly shopkeeper like me know the young master’s schedule?”
“Despite what you say, you actually seem like someone who has a pretty detailed grasp of his schedule.”
“If you’re finished with your business, please leave. We have business to attend to—”
Pyo-wol looked at the shopkeeper for a moment.
As soon as he met Pyo-wol’s gaze, the shopkeeper shuddered.
Pyo-wol didn’t pose any threat, but his gaze alone was enough to instill fear in the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper felt as if he might wet himself if he kept on looking at Pyo-wol a little longer.
Luckily for the shopkeeper, Pyo-wol quickly averted his gaze and walked out.
As soon as Pyo-wol left, the shopkeeper’s legs immediately gave out, making him slump to the ground.
It was only after a long while before the shopkeeper finally got up. The corners of his mouth were tinged with vomit.
“I almost died. Fuck!”
The shopkeeper muttered as he wiped the corner of his mouth with his sleeve.
“Should I inform the young master right away, or should I ask Yeonsan about the man’s identity first? Hm, maybe I should go and ask Yeonsan first.”
Tang Ik-gi hated vague information and statements the most. If someone was to make a report to him, they would have to provide a clear cause-and-effect relationship or at least some solid information.
The shopkeeper quickly made a decision.
He rushed to a warehouse inside the Cheolsan Workshop.
Inside the warehouse, Do Yeonsan was locked up.
The shopkeeper opened a small window and called out,
But even with his call, Do Yeonsan didn’t respond.
He stood in the corner of the warehouse, staring blankly at the wall, as if he had lost all will to live.
Just as the shopkeeper was about to call Do Yeonsan again,
“There you are.”
A voice came right from behind him.