Chapter 3 “My hometown Heukdo.”
On this particular night, the streets of Seoheuk-ro were quieter than usual.
This area was Heukdo’s territory, but it was also a place where even outsiders with hidden identities would come to buy illicit goods from the criminal underworld.
The nearby Heukdo gangs were rougher and more dangerous than any other place, as a tremendous amount of wealth was exchanged in one night.
Jin So-han looked around and muttered with a frustrated tone as he stood in front of a building with the sign “Wolyaru”.
The Sword Sect… they’re gone.”
It felt empty, like the twelve years he spent flowing like the wind, caught by his masters.
The Sword Sect was made up of friends he grew up with and seniors who trained with him.
“Where could they have all gone?”
The passing years felt cruel.
He felt like he had come back too late.
The people who would recognize and welcome him had all disappeared like smoke.
It was a feeling similar to when he was an orphan.
To him, the Sword Sect was like a family he had regained, but now it was gone.
And that wasn’t all.
The landscape of Seoheuk-ro had completely changed.
Buildings were denser than before, and the bustling crowds seemed to have multiplied by the hundreds.
The fact that not a single person knew where the Sword Sect had gone made Jin So-han’s heart ache.
The word that attacked Jin So-han’s heart was none other than “Heukdo,” the criminal underworld.
This was Heukdo’s territory.
Every building on the street exuded a dark energy.
“…The Sword Sect wouldn’t have disappeared so suddenly like this.”
Jin So-han instinctively raised his collar against the strong wind and looked across the street.
Fortunately, the old Gye-dugakjan was still there, just as it had always been.
Jin So-han brushed off the dirt on his shoes and went inside.
This is a place where people who sell swords often gather.
When a customer in unfamiliar clothing entered, the eyes of those who were avoiding the cold in the tavern turned to Jinsohan.
Jinsohan’s hat was pulled down deeply, so his eyes naturally drew attention.
However, the reason why the people in the tavern were surprised was because of the clothing Jinsohan was wearing.
Jinsohan was wearing a black cloak over his white clothes.
“Little brother, are you in trouble?”
“What is this all about?”
A man spoke abruptly to Jinsohan.
“Who are you to be wandering around at this time of night in such attire?”
As Jinsohan looked around, the expressions of the people in the inn were all fierce.
“Oh, these must be the sword sellers.
I forgot that black is forbidden here.”
Jinsohan thought there was no need to answer and moved to an empty seat.
There are no specific colors prohibited in the world.
Especially when it comes to commonly used black.
However, it had been a long time since anyone could wear black in a place where the black market had taken hold.
“Avoid wearing black clothes and painting your weapons black.”
These words had been circulating openly for quite some time.
Sometimes in life, there are strange and incomprehensible logics that take root in people’s minds.
For some inexplicable reason, black became the ideal color for knife fights in this area.
Of course, it was abnormal.
However, as the number of people who died from knife fights increased to an uncountable level, people began to naturally avoid black.
Of course, this was not true for everyone.
There were always exceptions in the world.
Those who had power or were strong enough not to care about the local masters in this area could freely decorate themselves in black without any problem.
There were also many challengers who deliberately wore black and appeared in the black market area to provoke conflicts.
It was a time like that.
Jin Sohan cleared his throat when he saw someone he knew approaching the checkpoint.
To make matters worse, the person, Jeomsoui, had a knife on him.
Only then did Jin Sohan realize that he was truly back in his hometown.
“Was his name Doh-gon…?”
Anyway, it was nice to meet someone he knew.
But he had no intention of pretending to know him right away.
Judging by the gloomy atmosphere, it seemed like they should first communicate with their bodies rather than words.
Jin Sohan took off his cell.
A handsome face with cool-looking features was revealed on his white skin.
The neat face that didn’t suit the blackness of Hukdo was making the people in the inn even more uncomfortable.
Since they were always people who wielded swords and saw blood, they were often dissatisfied and picked fights over trivial matters.
Sure enough, when Jin Sohan looked around again, everyone in the inn was not avoiding his gaze.
“Oh, it seems only the masters of staring contests have gathered here.”
As Jin Sohan chuckled softly, the atmosphere in the inn brightened in an instant.
Even those who were about to pick fights lost their momentum and regained their dignified expressions.
Jin So-han had groveled under the supervision of the masters called Ma-seon, but the third-class vagrants in the inn were surprised that they didn’t even care about him.
“When they were members of the Geommu-dan, they looked quite intimidating, these swordsmen.”
A man named Jo So-i, who was named Do-gon, approached Jin So-han and asked him, “What can I get you?”
Seeing that Jin So-han was speaking politely, he did not recognize him.
It was inevitable, as Jin So-han had grown in size and changed from a boy to a young man.
Jin So-han replied, “Two dumplings, two eggs, and one bowl of noodle soup.”
As he recited the most commonly ordered food in this place, Do-gon raised his head.
“…Have you been here before?”
While looking at Dugon, Jinsohan deliberately spoke in banmal (informal language).
“I’ve been here before.”
“Oh… I see.”
What caught Dugon’s eye at that moment was Jinsohan’s strange sword.
But even the sword was completely black.
Dugon’s expression shook.
“Oh, this is going to be trouble.”
Dugon asked urgently, trying to control his expression.
“Oh, um… You don’t drink, do you?”
Jinsohan shook his head, and Dugon quickly turned around.
“Okay, then I’ll prepare it.”
Dugon sighed briefly, knowing that a fight was imminent, and headed for the kitchen.
“Well, that’s the end of business today.”
As soon as Do-gon entered the kitchen, a middle-aged man from the guesthouse asked Jin-sohan.
“You’re dark overall.
Your knife sheath is black, and your gloves are also black.
Clearly, you’re from outside.”
Jin-sohan retorted while looking at the middle-aged man with a red face from drinking.
“As you can see, I’m dark.”
“Hehe… this young man’s way of speaking… It’s like the way they talk in a martial arts world.
So, which world are you from? Seomun? Dokgo?”
As laughter erupted from the surroundings, the middle-aged man continued to speak, as if teaching Jin-sohan while looking at him with a stern gaze.
“Here, we accept black as a challenge itself.
It’s a story that’s well known outside, didn’t you know?”
Jin-sohan looked into the middle-aged man’s eyes and replied.
“It’s not that I didn’t know, but I just forgot.
However, I only have one set of clothes, so I can’t help it.
I have no intention of causing trouble…”
From Jinsohan’s mouth came another falsehood, but her face was adorned with a fluttering smile.
Didn’t they say you can’t spit on a smiling face? Furthermore, as the handsome young man with a cool smile, who was rarely seen in Seoheungro, grinned, it was the customers in the tavern who became awkward.
Some even guessed that Jinsohan might be a master and kept their mouths shut.
However, the middle-aged man had no intention of stopping his argument.
“Everyone here only has one outfit.
Shouldn’t you choose your colors more carefully? Fortunately, the uniform is white.
Let’s start by taking off that jacket and see.”
Jinsohan continued to smile, ignoring the middle-aged man’s argument.
“This is the outfit my master gave me.
I can’t just take it off.”
The middle-aged man, who thought there might be something behind the word “master,” took a step back and said,
“What’s going on here? We don’t give weapons to outsiders.
It would be better to go back before daylight.
If you walk around in that brand new outfit, a knife will pop out every time you pass an alley.”
This is a common occurrence in the Black Market.
When a faction wants to blatantly crush a certain place, they hire people like this.
Jin Sohan replied calmly,
“I didn’t come here for an ambush.
Actually, this is my hometown.
I came back after a long time.”
“If it’s been a long time?”
“About 12 years…”
“That’s quite a long time.”
The middle-aged man looked at the man next to him and asked, “Back then, the Black Market was also prohibited, right?”
The middle-aged man looked back at Jin Sohan and asked,
“The entire Seoheukro is not a hometown.
Where are you talking about if you say hometown?”
Jin Sohan pointed outside the inn with his finger.
“I was born across from the Gedu Inn.”
The middle-aged man replied with a laugh, “Ah… so you’re from the Wol Ya Roo?”
At the man’s words, the people burst into laughter.
“Ha ha ha.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha.”
Being the child of a beggar meant that a fight was not an unusual situation.
However, whenever Jin Sohan looked around, the laughter subsided one after another.
Then, one quick-witted man carefully stood up, threw a few words to Dokgon, saying he had enjoyed his meal, and left with a thud as the door opened.
At that moment, the atmosphere was strangely subdued.
But Jin Sohan was still calm.
Instead, he remembered the words of the leader of the Poisonous Horse Gang.
“The tongue is the problem.
If you mix a pinch of paralysis powder made from the skin of a thick toad with a little bit of tea, it will start to harden from the tongue to the internal organs…”
Translated to English:
The words of the toxic horse sage were ringing in Jinsohan’s ears.
What could be the reason for thinking of the sage’s words even after coming all the way here?
Jinsohan spoke, trying to push thoughts of the sage out of his mind.
“The current location of Wol-ya-ru used to be the Hyun-wol Sword and Dance Troupe.”
The middle-aged man’s expression changed in surprise.
“What? Hyun-wol Sword and Dance Troupe? Oh, you mean the Hyun-wol Dance Troupe.”
Jinsohan corrected him with a stern expression.
“Hyun-wol Sword and Dance Troupe.”
The man shrugged his shoulders.
You remember the sword and dance troupe… It seems like you’re still quite young.
Oh, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard that name.
Do you all remember?”
His companions nodded their heads.
“Why can’t you remember?”
“It’s a place I miss.
I think about it from time to time.
Jin So-han didn’t miss the expressions of those who called themselves Muheedan.
It was an expression of nostalgia, or perhaps of resentment and greed.
Jin So-han looked at the forty men who had come to him and asked,
“Do you know about the Sword Dance Troupe?”
The middle-aged man nodded vigorously.
“Do I know… I miss it.
I long for it!”
The middle-aged man’s expression was full of longing.
Recognizing this, Jin So-han quietly stood up and pointed to the table opposite him, saying,
I’ll treat you to a drink.”
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