Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 354
Light Novel: Volume 15 Episode 4
Xielao Manor1 was located on the most scenic hill in Poyang Lake. It was considered one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Poyang Lake.
Among those who had manors or mansions in this place there was not a single person who was not a person of power. The security measures were thorough and the vigilance towards outsiders was strict.
Unauthorized individuals couldn’t even approach these mansions. And among these mansions Xielao Manor was the largest.
The martial artists guarding Xielao Manor took great pride in guarding the largest mansion in Poyang Lake. They were all warriors who had trained in nearby martial arts schools and were known for their considerable martial skills.
Even though it was late at night the martial artists did not let their guard down for a moment.
However there was something they remained unaware of.
They didn’t realize that someone was standing in their blind spot infiltrating Xielao Manor without a sound.
It was Pyo-wol who had entered the Xielao Manor without making a sound.
An official informed him that a grand banquet had recently taken place at Xielao Manor where a theater troupe had been invited to perform.
Even though they said “recently” it had been more than a month ago.
There would be no trace of that time remaining. And So Gyeoksan was not someone who would reveal his destination to anyone.
Nevertheless Pyo-wol had come to this place to consider So Gyeoksan’s perspective.
Pyo-wol stood in the center of the spacious performance area where the theater troupe had performed.
The floor covered with bluestone was suitable for practicing martial arts and hosting large events with numerous people.
It was the only place in Xieolao Manor that could hold and accommodate such a large event.
Pyo-wol stood in the middle of the performance area lost in thought.
‘So Gyeoksan must have come to Poyang Lake for a reason. The Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe is not only dear to him but is also an excellent tool for concealing his identity.’
Just like hiding a tree in the forest So Gyeoksan had concealed himself within the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe.
Naturally examining the route of the theater troupe would reveal So Gyeoksan’s intentions.
Pyo-wol quietly surveyed the dimly lit performance area.
The absence of torches gave it a gloomy atmosphere.
“They would have set up the platform over there have the distinguished guests sit over here then have the invited guests sit behind them. For the guards they would have them placed in the forest over there and stationed the workers at the entrance.”
What Pyo-wol said wasn’t just baseless speculation.
It’s a deduction of the optimal location based on the structure of the performance hall.
Pyo-wol went to the spot where the platform was likely to have been set up. Clear traces of stakes remained indicating that they had been used to secure a platform.
Standing in the center of where the platform had stood Pyo-wol looked around.
Certainly standing here gave him a better view of the surroundings.
‘Gyeoksan would have positioned himself in a location where he could have a good view yet still avoid the people’s gaze.’
While he operated the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe and had a profound knowledge of acting So Gyeoksan did not personally perform.
It was due to his nature as an assassin.
He is extremely reluctant to put himself in harm’s way. Especially because of his hunchback appearance he avoided standing in front of others whenever possible.
Pyo-wol stepped to the left.
Large trees formed a small forest intentionally planted to provide shade.
Pyo-wol stood among the trees and gazed in the direction of the performance area.
Indeed from this spot he could clearly see not only the platform but also the entire landscape of the performance area. This is the place where he could conceal his own presence while making it easy for him to observe others— a suitable vantage point.
‘What do you see here?’
He looked at the performance area from So Gyeoksan’s perspective.
The performers on stage the musicians playing instruments and even the singers—more than thirty individuals performing on the platform appeared before him like a fantastic scene conjured by his imagination.
So Gyeoksan was responsible for protecting them.
Therefore he would not let the members of the troupe get involved in his own affairs if possible.
It was then.
The clouds dispersed revealing the moon that had hidden itself.
The moonlight illuminated the world revealing the scenery that had been concealed in darkness.
Pyo-wol scanned the world revealed under the moonlight.
It was at that moment that something caught his eye.
He could see the outlines of mountains beyond the plains.
The expanse of the surrounding basin in Poyang Lake was unbelievably vast. Yet the fact that the outline was visible indicated that the mountain was of considerable size.
For some reason Pyo-wol couldn’t take his eyes off the mountain.
Perhaps So Gyeoksan felt the same way.
‘Could his destination be over there?’
It was a baseless speculation. But his hunches were rarely wrong.
Pyo-wol felt the need to investigate.
However the distance was too great for him to reach there tonight.
Considering the width of the basin it would take at least two days to reach that mountain. If he rode a horse he could reduce the time by about half.
Just as Pyo-wol was about to quietly leave Xielao Manor he suddenly felt an unfamiliar presence in the performance area.
An old woman with a hunched back was entering the performance area. The old woman stood in the middle of the stage staring blankly at the sky.
The old woman had an air of detachment about her. So Pyo-wol didn’t move from his spot and observed the old woman.
Suddenly the old woman staggered and coughed.
There was something unusual about the sound of his cough.
The old man stumbled heavily and then collapsed.
Since it would be life-threatening if her head hit the ground Pyo-wol instinctively approached the old woman and held her in his arms.
The old woman continued to cough incessantly nestled in Pyo-wol’s embrace. Drops of blood gradually stained her lips. She had coughed up blood.
The old woman’s condition was getting worse.
Pyo-wol infused his inner energy into her meridians. As a result her cough gradually subsided.
After some time passed the old woman regained composure and looked up at Pyo-wol
“Phew! Thank you! But you’re not one of the people from the manor are you?”
“You don’t have to be so tense. I can’t be rude to the savior of my life. Will you help me up?”
Pyo-wol nodded and helped the old woman to her feet.
Taking a deep breath the old woman looked at Pyo-wol.
“It seems like my days are numbered with the number of fits I’ve been having lately. I’ve lived long enough that I don’t have any regrets but I still didn’t want to die so meaninglessly in a place where no one is around.”
The old woman smiled her face covered in wrinkles that made it impossible to guess her age. Her cloudy eyes revealed a profound wisdom.
The old woman asked again
“From the looks of it it doesn’t seem like you came here to target this old woman. So why have you entered my house?”
“You didn’t know? Xielao Manor is this old woman’s house. To be precise it was built by my son for me. But seeing that you entered without knowing that fact you’re not from this place are you?”
“Then why have you come here? If you have any business in this place you could have come during the day. Why sneak in at night?”
“I’m looking for someone.”
“Then even more so– no I’m sure you have your own reasons for coming in at night. So who are you looking for?”
“The Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe.”
“Ah! Are you talking about the theater troupe that performed at my birthday celebration not long ago? Thanks to them I had a pleasant day.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. It was a performance of an extraordinary level. I’m glad to have witnessed such a wonderful sight before I die.”
Just recalling the memories made the old woman’s face light up with a joyful smile.
Regardless of So Gyeoksan’s purpose it was clear that the performances of the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe had gifted her with pleasant memories.
“They have gone missing.”
“After their performance here they disappeared without a trace.”
The old woman sighed.
She sounded genuinely sorry.
She asked again
“So you’re looking for them?”
“I sincerely hope that you find them. People with the ability to bring joy and entertainment to others are not common.”
Although his intentions weren’t as pure as the old woman thought he still needed to find the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe in order to find out about Hong Yushin.
“That’s fortunate! It’s good that someone capable like you is searching for them.”
“How can you be sure that I’m capable?”
“Hoho! I’m over a hundred years old. I can gauge a person’s abilities to a certain extent just by looking at their face. And even if that’s not always the case the fact that you managed to enter my manor freely and fearlessly is enough to prove your capability.”
It wasn’t just thanks to her son’s ability that a huge manor such as the Xielao Manor was built. The old woman also played a part given how it was through her own power that a merchant group escort agencies and other businesses that her son was currently running was built.
In Poyang Lake the old woman was called Noh Tae-tae and she commanded the respect of the people.
Noh Tae-tae became a widowed at the young age of eighteen when her husband who had gone out for business encountered bandits and was killed.
But Noh Tae-tae did not cry.
Nor did she despair.
With her only son on her back she started working in the same business her husband had done.
She struggled and she was cheated.
But instead of despair she rose with determination.
She worked even harder because she knew that if she collapsed her son would have no life.
After three years as the head of a merchant business she heard that her merchant group was the best in Poyang. To protect the business she established an escort agency and spent a large sum of money to recruit capable workers from neighboring clans and sects.
From then on there was nothing that could stop her.
She used her fearsome business methods to grow the merchant group and escort agency eventually making it the number one merchant company in Jiangxi Province.
What she accomplished in raising the escort agency was the extermination of the bandits who killed her husband. She mobilized the martial artists of the escort agency and received the cooperation of officials to track down thebandits.
During that time her son got married and had seven children who in turn grew up and got married. The seven grandchildren in turn produced dozens of great-grandchildren.
Only then did she retreat from the front lines and took up residence here. Her grown son had built this Xieolao Manor for her.
The name of the manor Xielao means to live in peace together for a long time.
As someone who single-handedly built a massive business Noh Tae-tae had a discerning eye for people.
Noh Tae-tae recognized at a glance that the young man in front of her was something out of the ordinary. Someone truly exceptional.
It wasn’t just because he managed to sneak into the Xielao Manor undetected by her workers. There was a unique atmosphere and aura about him that others did not possess.
Noh Tae-tae had never experienced such a chilling atmosphere in her life and it sent shivers down her spine.
She had met countless people before including many warriors famous in Jianghu but none of them had the same unique aura and atmosphere as Pyo-wol.
Noh Tae-tae instinctively knew that Pyo-wol was stronger than any martial artist she had encountered.
“What is your name?”
“It’s you! The Reaper–”
“Do you know me?”
“My son’s merchant group travels to Sichuan often. It was through them that I first heard of you. Honestly when I first heard about it I thought it was exaggerated. But as I learned more from the information that came afterwards I came to know that the rumors about you are true…”
Rumors about Pyo-wol had spread widely. However even before that Noh Tae-tae had been paying attention to Pyo-wol’s movements.
To run a large business in Jianghu she believed that not even a single small rumor should be taken lightly. However she never expected to see Pyo-wol in person like this.
The Pyo-wol she saw directly felt much more dangerous than what she had vaguely imagined.
She knew that people like him could unintentionally put Jianghu in danger.
There were those who brought turmoil even if they didn’t want it.
Tracing back through the history of Jianghu there were many such warriors.
The Fist Demon of Mount Hua2 in the past was a prime example.
Although his legend was fading now examining the records of that time made it clear how unreasonable of an existence he was.
People only remembered him as the one who ended the turmoil but Noh Tae-tae believed that his presence made the turmoil even more intense.
Afterward it was the founder of the Frenzied Warrior Clan who was like that.
He was the hero who ended the rebellion of the Celestial Demon Union but because of his existence the war escalated further.
Both of them had the common point of ending the war with their own hands and therefore were revered in the process. However the fact that such heroes emerged was evidence of how intense the turmoil had become.
Noh Tae-tae felt a sensation similar to those heroes in Pyo-wol.
The heavens would never send out such unreasonable beings for no reason.
“Hoo… It looks like there’s going to be another war.”
Her sighs and lament scattered in the wind.
Thank you for reading!
Xieolao Manor. Raws: ???(偕老莊). 偕 xié jiē – together; be in order 老 lǎo – old aged; experienced 莊 zhuāng – farmstead / village / manor / place of business The Fist Demon of Mount Hua. Raws: ?????. This is another manhwa and novel of the same author of Reaper of the Drifting Moon. I believe that his novels (Fist Demon of Mount Hua Martial Artist Lee Gwak and Reaper of the Drifting Moon) exist in the same universe. This character was also mentioned briefly in Chapter 188 (I didn’t translate it properly then so I’ll be making the changes now).