Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 351
Light Novel: Volume 15 Episode 1
The province of Jiangxi is composed of a huge basin. Within the basin expansive fields stretched as far as the eye could see and numerous rivers and waterways weaved in between the rice fields like spiderwebs.
Thanks to the abundant water supply rice cultivation always yielded bountiful harvests allowing people to live without worrying about hunger.
What made this possible was the enormous lake in the center called Poyang Lake. The nutrient-rich waters of the Yangzte River would flow downstream and fertilize the fields around Poyang Lake.
As a result there were many wealthy individuals around Poyang Lake. The fertility of the soil around Poyang Lake was well-known attracting well-to-do families to settle in the area.
Even today numerous boats sailed into Poyang Lake coming from the Yangtze River. Among them a significant number were rice transport vessels carrying grain produced in the rice fields around Poyang Lake.
Many merchants and escort groups in the Poyang Lake region mainly used rice transport vessels to transport goods. When leaving Poyang Lake the boats were loaded with rice but on their return they carried other goods.
A massive rice transport vessel docked at the Poyang Lake pier. Laborers working for merchants were waiting at the pier.
The head supervisor addressed the workers
“The ship is carrying salt brought from Rudong.1 Remember even a handful of salt is worth more than your daily wages so be careful when unloading it. After unloading the salt we need to load rice again so there is no time to rest. Stay alert everyone.”
“Don’t worry. How many days do you need?”
The workers replied without taking their eyes off the boat.
They were ready to jump on the plank as soon as it descended.
There was no fixed wage. The more they carried the more money they earned. Anyone who carried an extra bag of salt or a bag of rice would receive a higher salary.
That’s why the workers anxiously waited for the plank to be lowered from the boat with eyes like soldiers going to battle.
Finally the plank descended from the grain transport ship.
Just as the laborers were about to climb aboard the boat a crew member shouted
“Wait! Let the people off first then come on board.”
At that moment a man stepped off the boat with a horse.
“Who is he?”
When the workers saw the man’s face they all exclaimed in admiration. The man’s face was as beautiful as a painting.
The man descending from the grain transport ship was none other than Pyo-wol.
Pyo-wol got off the boat and looked around the vicinity of Poyang Lake.
Having stayed on Lake Tai until recently he didn’t feel particularly inspired despite the vastness of Poyang Lake.
Pyo-wol turned his gaze to one of the workers who was staring at his face in fascination and said
“Are there any decent inns nearby?”
“Oh if you’re looking for a place to stay you should go to the Southern Heaven Pavilion.2 It’s the largest and most splendid place around and the food is delicious–”
“Southern Heaven Pavilion?”
“You won’t regret it. Well then…”
The worker swiftly climbed aboard joining the others on the boat.
Pyo-wol watched them for a moment as they hoisted a sack of salt onto their backs before setting off.
The scenery at the docks of Poyang Lake was very similar to that of Lake Tai.
The only difference was that the breeze at Poyang Lake was cooler than the breeze at Lake Tai which was saltier due to its proximity to the sea.
Finding Southern Heaven Pavilion wasn’t too difficult. It was so large and magnificent that it could be recognized at a glance from a distance.
Due to its extensive scale it also had an independent stable master. Pyo-wol left his horse with the stable master and entered the Southern Heaven Pavilion.
An inn servant quickly greeted Pyo-wol.
“Do you have any vacant rooms?”
“Yes of course!”
“I’ll be staying for about three days so give me a room.”
“The price needed to be paid in advance.”
Pyo-wol handed over a few more coins to the inn servant after hearing the amount he mentioned. As he received the coins the inn servant smiled from ear to ear.
“Hehe! Please use the room at the end of the corridor on this floor of the annex. That room has the best view.”
“There’s an annex?”
“Yes! It was built not too long ago. It should be much quieter there than the main building here.”
“Oh by the way would you like to eat?”
“Yes. Bring me some simple snacks.”
“Then have a seat wherever you can find one. I’ll bring them to you shortly.”
Pyo-wol nodded and sat down in an empty seat.
The ride on the grain carrier had been nice but he’d run out of food so he was extremely hungry at the moment.
While waiting for the food to be served Pyo-wol looked out the window.
Luckily the food didn’t take long to arrive.
“This is cured pork seasoned with salt. It may be a bit salty when eaten alone but it goes well with rice.”
“I’ll eat it.”
“Then enjoy your meal.”
The inn servant bowed his head respectfully before retreating.
Pyo-wol tasted the cured pork first.
As the inn servant had said it was a bit salty. However when eaten with rice the combination was quite good.
Although he was starving Pyo-wol did not rush to eat. He chewed each piece of the meat slowly while thinking about his plans for the future.
‘I’ll contact the Hao clan branch first and then gather as much information as possible about So Gyeoksan’s whereabouts.”
By pursuing So Gyeoksan and the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe’s movements Pyo-wol would naturally be able to discover Hong Yushin’s whereabouts as well.
As Pyo-wol was lost in thought the speed at which he ate became even slower. It had been two hours since he had started eating but there was still a lot of food left on his plate.
Just as Pyo-wol was about to finish the remaining food
Suddenly someone forcefully opened the door to the inn and entered.
The people who entered the inn were dressed in shabby clothes.
They were dirty and smelly like they hadn’t showered in a very long time. The odor coming from them was so foul that those who were sitting near the entrance covered their noses and moved away from them.
The people sitting at the table near Pyo-wol murmured amongst themselves as they looked at new guests
“Those hideous guys from the Blood Ant Gang have come back again.”
“Who’s going to teach those guys a lesson? Every time an opportunity arises for them to make a little profit they start causing trouble. It’s hard to find a place to live peacefully.”
“I don’t know if someone would be willing to do that. It’ll only exhaust them if they get tangled with them for no reason. It’s better to just ignore them completely.”
The men who entered the inn uninvited seemed to be from a group called the Blood Ant.3
As the members of the Blood Ant Gang appeared the innkeeper hurriedly rushed out. His face was red with anger as he engaged in a heated argument with the Blood Ant Gang martial artists.
Their voices might not be inaudible to everyone else’s ears but they were clear to Pyo-wol’s ears.
“Haven’t I already paid the protection fee for this month?! How come you’re coming to collect again?”
“Forget about that. You borrowed money from us didn’t you? So you should pay the interest.”
“Interest? Didn’t I already pay the upfront interest? And now you want me to pay again?”
“Our boss clearly mentioned it didn’t he? The interest that comes from borrowing money in our Blood Ant Gang is expensive. and yet you still borrowed money to build an annex. It’s not fair for you to do this now.”
“Damn it! So you’re saying you’ll collect the upfront interest and ask for more?”
“Hehe! That’s how the world works. If you don’t like it hand over the annex to us.”
In the end the innkeeper let out a pained groan and reluctantly handed over the interest to the members of the Blood Ant Gang.
One of the members of the Blood Ant Gang holding a pouch of gold coins laughed ominously as he looked around the inn.
“Indeed the newly built one is nice. It’s clean and spacious. How great it would be if our Blood Ant Gang could operate here.”
“W What are you talking about?”
“I’m just saying. There’s no way it would actually happen right? As long as you pay the interest on time there shouldn’t be any problems. Well then have a good day.”
The Blood Ant martial artists bowed slightly to the innkeeper before leaving the establishment.
As they left the innkeeper told to the inn servant
“Quick sprinkle salt outside the door. Yikes! Ugh!”
The innkeeper shuddered as if he had a severe headache just thinking about it.
The problem was that he had gotten himself involved with the Blood Ant Gang when he decided to expand the main building. When the Blood Ant Gang lent him the money they had told him to pay whenever he can. But now that his business seemed to be doing well the Blood Ant Gang would come up with excuses such as interest and protection fees to collect money from him.
Regret filled the innkeeper’s eyes as he looked around the inn.
It was only recently when the innkeeper regretted borrowing money from the Blood Ant Gang but there was nothing he can do about it now.
“They say the fox is king where there’s no tiger. The saying suits them perfectly.”
The innkeeper shook his head and went back inside.
Pyo-wol watched the innkeeper’s retreating figure before shifting his gaze back to the street. Outside the window he caught a glimpse of the Blood Ant Gang’s martial artists stirring up trouble as they walked away.
They went from inn to inn and after a while they would come out with bags of money.
‘Someone must be manipulating the Blood Ant Gang behind the scenes.’
The name Blood Ant was unusual in itself.
It was extremely rare for an ordinary group of thugs to use the name Blood Ant.
To Pyo-wol’s ears the name Blood Ant sounded like they would gnaw on flesh until it became blood.
In the past the Snow Sword Manor had also rolled its own loaning services to expand its influence. They would lend money and collected usurious interest squeezing the lifeblood out of the common people.
The Blood Ant Gang seemed to be growing in size in the same way.
‘Are the Snow Sword Manor and the Blood Ant Gang the only ones?’
As Pyo-wol made his journey all around Jianghu he witnessed people like them in most of the cities he had passed through.
Behind the peaceful facade of Jianghu such horrific and sinister events were taking place and people’s dissatisfaction was reaching its peak. Yet none of the prominent factions in Jianghu listened to the people’s voices. That’s why even the human meat-loving couple had been able to get away with their heinous acts for so long without being noticed.
Pyo-wol sensed that the peace in Jianghu would not last much longer.
Since ancient times when people’s resentment reached its peak and the world became turbulent ambitious figures would reveal themselves.
They weren’t always called heroes for nothing.
They were naturally labeled as such because they showed their ambition in times of turmoil. They were willing to do anything as long as they could rise to the top.
Pyo-wol had seen many martial artists who were worthy of the title.
When the chaos truly erupted they would discard the masks they had been wearing all along and sprint with all their might towards their ambitions.
The winds of turbulence were blowing but no one was aware of it.
It became unnecessarily complicated.
Pyo-wol rose from his seat intending to go to the annex but a voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Oh isn’t that you Master Pyo?”
Pyo-wol sat back down and looked at the entrance of the inn.
At the entrance there stood a young man with a handsome appearance and an air of exceptional elegance.
He walked straight over to the table where Pyo-wol was sitting.
Pyo-wol instantly recognized the man’s identity.
“What brings Master Pyo to this place?”
The man was none other than Namgung Wol of the Heavenly Guardian Association.
This unexpected encounter left even Pyo-wol slightly surprised. However he quickly composed himself and calmly replied
“I’m just stopping by on my journey. You?”
“Oh didn’t you know? The Heavenly Guardian Association is located in Huangshan about three hundred li away from here.”
“Yes! That’s why I frequently come to this place. It’s truly remarkable how fate has brought us together again…”
Namgung Wol smiled brightly.
He thought of Pyo-wol as his comrade.
Pyo-wol had joined forces with him and the Jin family against the Snow Sword Manor.
Namgung Wol didn’t care what the world thought of Pyo-wol. What mattered more was how he himself viewed Pyo-wol.
To him Pyo-wol was a person he could trust a comrade he could rely on. That’s why he reacted so warmly upon meeting him.
“If I had known you were coming here I would have come sooner.”
“I just arrived. Even if you had known earlier you wouldn’t have met me any sooner than this.”
“I see. Still I’m glad we’ve met like this. I missed you after parting ways in the Jin manor.”
“Did you say you come out to Poyang Lake often?”
“Yes! I’m here today for a meeting.”
“There’s a group of people who have been making connections lately. They chose the Southern Heaven Pavilion as their meeting place but I never expected to see you here. I should thank them for this.”
Namgung Wol took a seat right next to Pyo-wol.
“Didn’t you have an appointment? Is it okay for you to spend time here?”
“It’s still a long way before they arrive. Since they’re coming from a far-off place I’ll have to wait another hour or two for them to arrive.”
“Then isn’t it too early for you to come? You’ll have to wait for quite some time.”
“Haha the liquor here in the Southern Heaven Pavilion is excellent. I was planning to spend some time drinking by myself but it’s even better now that I’ve met you.”
Namgung Wol laughed heartily.
When Namgung Wol waved his hand the inn servant quickly ran over.
“You called sir?”
“Bring me what I usually drink.”
“Yes! Even without asking I’ve already prepared it.”
Namgung Wol tossed a few coins to the inn servant.
After expressing gratitude to Namgung Wol the inn servant hurried off to the kitchen.
Namgung Wol suddenly frowned and said
“Speaking of which with Master Pyo’s arrival here it seems like the peace of this place will come to an end.”
Thank you for reading!
Rudong. Raws: ??(如東). Rudong is located in Jiangsu province. 如 rú – if supposing; as if; like as 東 dōng – east eastern eastward Southern Heaven Pavilion. Raws: ???(南天館). 南 nán – south 天 tiān – day / sky / heaven 館 guǎn – building / shop / term for certain service establishments Blood Ant. Raws: ??(血蟻). 血 xuè – blood / colloquial pr. 蟻 yǐ – ant