Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 355
Light Novel: Volume 15 Episode 5
“Have a drink. My son only sends me the best tea.”
Noh Tae-tae said pouring tea into Pyo-wol’s teacup.
The strong aroma of the tea tickled his nose.
Just by smelling it he could feel his mind becoming clear.
Pyo-wol nodded and took the teacup.
Noh Tae-tae smiled as she watched Pyo-wol drink the tea. Her eyes were warm as if she was looking at her own grandchildren.
It was then.
A knocking sound came from outside the door.
Then a young man cautiously spoke
“Great-grandmother! It’s me Seolpung. I heard you called for me.”
With Noh Tae-tae’s permission a young man who appeared to be of the same age as Pyo-wol entered.
The young man was Ju Seolpung Noh Tae-tae’s great-grandson.
Ju Seolpung was surprised to see a stranger in Noh Tae-tae’s room. However instead of showing his surprise he maintained a calm expression and looked at Noh Tae-tae.
Just by looking at him anyone could tell how well-educated and cultured he was.
Noh Tae-tae smiled proudly.
Among her great-grandchildren Ju Seolpung possessed the most outstanding abilities and character. That’s why Noh Tae-tae trusted him the most.
Noh Tae-tae introduced Pyo-wol to Ju Seolpung.
“This person is Master Pyo-wol. You must have heard of him at least once.”
Ju Seolpung’s pupils flickered for a moment.
He had heard of the name Pyo-wol before.
Ju Seolpung turned to Pyo-wol and greeted
“So you’re Master Pyo. I am Ju Seolpung of the Imperial Yuan Merchant Group.1 It’s an honor to meet you Master Pyo.”
“Imperial Yuan Merchant Group?”
“Oh you didn’t you know? I believe it is a recognized name in Jiangxi.”
“It’s my first time hearing that name.”
“Then how did you end up here–?”
Ju Seolpung spoke in a low voice.
He looked at Noh Tae-tae with a skeptical expression. Then Noh Tae-tae nodded.
Noh Tae-tae was not the kind of person who would spout nonsense.
‘So he accidentally ended up here at Xielao Manor?’
Rumors had spread that Noh Tae-tae who raised the Imperial Yuan Merchant Group to the top in Jiangxi Province had taken shelter in Xielao Manor. This caused many people to flock to the manor seeking her out.
Ju Seolpung thought that Pyo-wol had also come here for the same reason. However since Pyo-wol’s response was different from his expectations Ju Seolpung became confused.
Noh Tae-tae soon cleared up his confusion.
“Master Pyo here is tracking the whereabouts of the troupe that performed on my birthday. He has been chasing them and ended up here.”
Ju Seolpung finally understood.
Ju Seolpung asked Pyo-wol
“May I know the reason why you are looking for the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe?”
Pyo-wol looked into Ju Seolpung’s eyes.
They were clear and unblemished without a speck of dust.
Pyo-wol couldn’t tell exactly what Ju Seolpung was thinking but he could at least tell that he wasn’t someone with an ulterior motive.
Ju Seolpung met Pyo-wol’s gaze without avoiding it. Such a feat would have been impossible if he had a weak heart.
“They went missing after their performance here.”
“Hmm I see…”
Ju Seolpung murmured in a low voice.
His mind was spinning rapidly.
Ju Seolpung knew Pyo-wol as well as Noh Tae-tae. All the information that reached Noh Tae-tae had also passed through his hands.
He didn’t think Pyo-wol would track down the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe for no reason. Pyo-wol was too much of a big shot to engage in such trivial matters.
Ju Seolpung asked cautiously
“Can you tell me why you’re looking for the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe? Is it for a personal reason? Or did you receive a commission?”
“It’s not for a personal reason.”
“Then you must have been commissioned by someone or you have a public reason for doing so. Since someone as great as Master Pyo is mobilized then the person who commissioned you must be a formidable figure and if such a person is involved then there is no doubt that it a serious matter. If this issue is mishandled then we might unknowingly unleash a calamity in Jiangxi Province.”
Ju Seolpung was both a warrior and a merchant.
He possessed the intuition of a warrior and the sensibility of a merchant.
Alarm bells were constantly ringing in his head.
Just by exchanging a few words with Pyo-wol he sensed an impending crisis.
Pyo-wol admired Ju Seolpung’s shrewdness.
Ju Seokpung possessed a superior intellect compared to anyone he had ever met before.
While Pyo-wol’s encounters with Noh Tae-tae and Ju Seolpung were nothing more than coincidences their reactions and resourcefulness moved him.
Pyo-wol decided to show them a bit of favor.
“The Hao clan’s chief inspector has gone missing.”
“The Hao clan?”
Noh Tae-tae and Ju Seolpung were stunned by the unexpected news.
As merchants they knew the Hao clan’s influence better than anyone else and as they run their merchant guild they frequently utilized the services of the Hao clan.
Although they now had some intelligence and information network of their own in the early days they had bought information from the Hao clan and used it to their advantage.
Therefore they knew how great the Hao clan’s chief inspector was. The chief inspector of the Hao clan possessed power and authority surpassing that of most factions’ leaders.
The fact that such a person disappeared was no small matter.
“Then there must be some kind of contact between the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe and the Hao clan’s chief inspector and Master Pyo is trying to trace that connection.”
Pyo-wol’s words were few and far between but Ju Seolpung was able to accurately deduce from them exactly what he wanted to know.
Once again Pyo-wol became impressed.
He had never encountered anyone with such exceptional intellect besides himself.
Ju Seolpung was the kind of person who would be quite troublesome to have as an enemy.
If they had met as enemies Pyo-wol would have eliminated Ju Seolpung first.
Ju Seolpung said to Pyo-wol
“I together with the Imperial Yuan Merchant Group will help you in tracking down the Heavenly Flower Variety Theater Troupe. Among the people who attended the birthday celebration of my great-grandmother there must be those who had contact with the troupe. If we talk to them we might obtain some small clues.”
“But wouldn’t they have scattered by now?”
“While it may be true elsewhere it’s possible here in Poyang Lake and Jiangxi Province. I will inform you soon of any good news.”
“One more thing.”
“I want you to investigate if there is a group of people around ten or more who had stayed in the inns around Poyang Lake recently.”
“The Poyang Lake branch of the Hao clan was burned to the ground a few days ago.”
Ju Seolpung’s eyes widened.
Although there had been a recent decline in their interactions the fact that he had been completely unaware that the Hao clan’s branch had been annihilated sent shivers down his spine.
“Their base is not even a place publicly known. It’s like a secret branch.”
“The fact that such a place was annihilated makes it a bigger problem. That means that someone else knew about it and ambushed it when we didn’t. Okay I will mobilize the Imperial Yuan Merchant Group and Escort Agency to investigate this matter.”
Ju Seolpung gritted his teeth.
To him the most important things were the Imperial Yuan Merchant Group and Escort Agency.
They were the hard-earned results of the blood sweat and tears shed by her great-grandmother Noh Tae-tae her grandfather father and countless relatives.
He couldn’t tolerate anything that threatened Imperial Yuan Merchant Group and Escort Agency which were everything to her family.
“Give me one day. I will definitely find those responsible for the destruction of the Poyang Lake branch.”
“Then please do so.”
Pyo-wol stood up from his seat.
With a regretful expression Noh Tae-tae said
“It’s already this late why don’t you rest here for tonight?”
“I’ve already received great hospitality for someone who is uninvited. Anything more would be a burden.”
“Well then there’s nothing we can do.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you today. I wish you well in the future.”
“Thank you for your kind words. Having received gratitude from the Reaper I should be fine for several more years.”
Noh Tae-tae smiled brightly.
Pyo-wol glanced at her for a moment before leaping outside.
The moment he disappeared Noh Tae-tae’s expression turned serious.
She turned to Ju Seolpung
“You felt it too didn’t you? There’s an unusual current flowing in the Jianghu.”
“Yes! Even the atmosphere in Lake Poyang is also unusual which is why I’m keeping an eye on it.”
“If we handle this matter carelessly our entire family might be swept away by a storm.”
“From now on I will elevate the Imperial Yuan Merchant Group and Escort Agency to state of emergency and closely monitor Master Pyo’s movements. It seems that the direction of the storm will change depending on his actions.”
“I will leave this matter to you. Your grandfather is already too old and your father is too impetuous to react well to these sudden changes. Only you can react quickly enough.”
“Leave it to me great-grandmother!”
“And don’t hesitate to lend your support to Master Pyo. You should grant him whatever he wants.”
“I will do so.”
“Hah! No wonder it felt too peaceful. The higher the mountains rise the deeper the valleys become. So as peace prolongs people’s desires accumulate in equal measure. It’s time to unleash those desires.”
Ju Seolpung clenched his fist at Noh Tae-tae’s lament.
‘I would never let these times of chaos threaten our Imperial Yuan Merchant Group. I will make sure of that.’
* * *
Pyo-wol walked out of the Xielao Manor.
It was late at night so the manor was quiet. There were occasional patrols but they couldn’t even detect Pyo-wol’s presence let alone his shadow.
The meeting with Noh Tae-tae and Ju Seolpung was fruitful. It enabled him to gather information effectively in Lake Pyoang.
Pyo-wol knew better than anyone how important information gathering was. He was well aware of the significant power that came with preemptively seizing information ahead of others.
He headed towards an inn on the shore of Lake Poyang.
The wind blew through the reed field where moonlight poured.
The reeds swayed in the wind creating a spectacular scene.
Pyo-wol stopped in the middle of the reed field and watched them ripple in the moonlight.
The reed leaves that got swept up in the wind scattered in the air.
In the next moment Pyo-wol’s figure disappeared among the reeds.
A moment later someone appeared in the spot where Pyo-wol had been standing wearing a puzzled expression.
It was a man whose face was covered by a mask.
He quickly looked around but he couldn’t see any sign of Pyo-wol anywhere.
“What the hell?”
He inadvertently muttered under his breath.
The man heightened his senses as he tried to search for Pyo-wol’s whereabouts. However the sound of the wind blowing and the rustling of the reed leaves colliding disrupted his senses.
The man cursed.
The man was none other than Yeom Hee-soo’s henchman Wol Gwi.
He was a skilled assassin carefully trained by the Huaying Fortress usually serving as Yeom Hee-soo’s guard.
Although he was not as widely known in the Jianghu like the Hundred Wraith Union or the Ten Thousand Man Slayer he took great pride in his assassination skills.
Even for him Pyo-wol was a burden.
His opponent was a man who had earned the title of Reaper.
Someone who is regarded as the pinnacle of assassins.
He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t burdened by the thought of secretly tracking such a man. However as he pursued Pyo-wol throughout the day he gradually regained his confidence because Pyo-wol hadn’t noticed his pursuit at all.
‘So the Reaper is nothing special.’
He inwardly ridiculed Pyo-wol judging his reputation as overblown and overrated. As a result he decided not to continue tracking Pyo-wol and instead return to report to Yeom Hee-soo.
But at that moment Pyo-wol disappeared into thin air.
‘Did he just quickly return to the inn?’
It was then.
Suddenly a chill ran down his spine.
At the same time he felt an intense sense of crisis.
Wol Gwi exhaled sharply and looked around. However all he could see was the reed field rippling like waves under the moonlight.
‘No way! Have I been spotted?’
The worst-case scenario flashed through his mind.
He chewed his lip hard.
There was only one person who could make him feel this close to death. Only he could put pressure on him while concealing his presence so skillfully.
It was then that Wol Gwi realized that Pyo-wol hadn’t spared him because he couldn’t detect his presence.
It was evident that Pyo-wol had been aware of his pursuit all along. Yet he had let him go judging that he didn’t pose a significant threat.
Although it wounded his pride Wol Gwi understood that his opponent was someone who possessed the ability and qualifications to warrant such treatment.
At that moment a strong gust of wind blew.
Reed leaves scattered in the wind disturbing his vision.
Wol Gwi’s face contorted.
He felt a sharp pain in his shoulder.
A single reed leaf was lodged in his shoulder like a dagger.
Only then did Wol Gwi realize that the wind had been caused by Pyo-wol.
A look of terror appeared on Wol Gwi’s face.
He had a vision. He saw that within this vast reed field every reed leaf seemed to have become Pyo-wol’s weapon.
Thank you for reading!
Imperial Yuan Merchant Group. Raws: ????(帝元商團). 帝 dì – emperor 元 yuán – currency unit (esp. Chinese yuan) / first / original / primary / fundamental / constituent / part / era 商 shāng – commerce / merchant / dealer / to consult / 2nd note in pentatonic scale 團 tuán – round / lump / ball / to roll into a ball / to gather / regiment / group / society