Chapter was slightly, if not very, random. That’s what I think, anyway. Next five chapters are pretty dope though, in my opinion.
Chapter 70. The Pope is a Smuggler(?)
Cho Ryu Hyang’s father, Cho Mu Ryung, quickly returned home. He was returning to prepare his employees in order to deliver the massive amount of materials the church requested him to take.
If this job proceeds smoothly, Cho Mu Ryung’s company would easily become the biggest company in the mainland.
The rewards he would be receiving from Gongson Chun Gi were just that big, Cho Ryu Hyang, too, knew that.
That was why he was staring at Gongson Chun Gi. Gongson Chun Gi felt the boy’s gaze on him and opened his mouth as he touched his cup of tea.
“What, do you think we gave your father too much of a reward?”
The reward for this job was too much as compared to the job itself. Cho Ryu Hyang could easily see that there was a hidden intent within the job itself.
Gongson Chun Gi didn’t deny it. He smiled calmly as he kept talking.
“You’re right. The reward for this job is too big, but it was worth it, which was why I spent so much money on your father.”
Gongson Chun Gi looked over to the artificial lake next to him while Cho Ryu Hyang sat there in silence.
“Normally, I would’ve brought the people from your family as soon as possible. That would be the proper thing to do according to the tradition.”
Tradition. That word came to Cho Ryu Hyang quite heavily.
“What do you think would happen if an outsider became the Heir of the church? You think everyone’s going to be happy about it? Right now, they’re happy because a Heir has been chosen, but when time passes, they’ll come back to their senses and think strange things. Before that, we must take your family into the church.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded. It made sense. The power of the church was actually quite immense; It was so big, in fact, even Cho Ryu Hyang was unable to see its true size.
If that immense strength was used on an outsider like him, there was no question that it would make many of the people of the church angry. Gongson Chun Gi began to laugh loudly.
“But how can something like that be done forcefully? If it’s a stubborn person like your father as well, if I try to force him into the church, he’ll reject us even more. That’s why I used my head a little.”
Gongson Chun Gi was planning on taking them in by building their trust with various jobs first.
It would take quite a bit of time, but Gongson Chun Gi still decided to use it. That was the most kindness Gongson Chun Gi was able to show to Cho Ryu Hyang’s parents.
“Since I would be able to stick my people to them as bodyguards from time to time, it’s like catching two birds with one stone.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded. He knew how much kindness his teacher was showing to his family.
“Anyways, don’t worry about the matters regarding your family and the church, after all, I’m thinking as much as I can to integrate them here.”
Cho Ryu Hyang decided to follow his teacher’s words. But there was still one thing he was curious about.
“I have a reason for calling you out here today, actually.”
Cho Ryu Hyang became a little anxious. They were going to go into the topic now. Gongson Chun Gi looked at Cho Ryu Hyang with a playful face.
“You should know, too, but the church will go out into Sichuan in the near future. This will be a big event. Personally, I don’t really like events like this.”
Cho Ryu Hyang silently agreed. Gongson Chun Gi was uninterested in things like conquering China mainland. Actually, he was just too lazy to do it.
A person like that, trying to extend the influence of the church into Sichuan? This didn’t really fit the Pope’s personality.
Gongson Chun Gi began to complain as he brought his teacup to his mouth. It was as if he had been thinking the same thing as Cho Ryu Hyang.
“It’s because we became too big.”
“The church is at its biggest size since its creation. We became far bigger than we were in the past. That brought us problems we had never encountered before.”
“What is it?”
If it was a problem of this massive organization, it wouldn’t be a small matter. Gongson Chun Gi paused for a while under Cho Ryu Hyang’s gaze, then put his thumb and index finger together to form a circle.
Money problems? The church? When Cho Ryu Hyang stared at Gongson Chun Gi with a confused face, Gongson Chun Gi began nodding slowly as he talked.
“The Popes that came before me did all they could in order to expand their influence to the mainland. There was much sacrifice in the process of this; however, we earned a lot in return. We came back with valuable goods and earned massive amounts of money from the areas we conquered. Other than that…….”
Gongson Chun Gi stopped talking, then looked behind Cho Ryu Hyang and grinned.
“There’s the old man who’ll explain everything for you.”
When Cho Ryu Hyang turned his head, he could see a thin old man approach them. Cho Ryu Hyang remembered seeing the man at the coronation ceremony.
‘I think they called him Jeon Bak (錢搏: money-grubbing ghost)…….’
The mysterious old man was one of the eight guardians of the church and managed the financial matters of the church. He held the title of the Fighting Gold General (金鬪算將).
“You called for me, your Holiness?”
“Ah. Let me introduce you first. This old man here’s Jeon Bak. He’ll probably become the person you fear the most in the church.”
Gongson Chun Gi smiled evilly towards Cho Ryu Hyang as he introduced Guardian Jeon.
“He’s really annoying, so be careful.”
“…….Aren’t you supposed to say things like that when the person you are insulting is not around, your Holiness?”
When Guardian Jeon protested with a small pout, Gongson Chun Gi puffed up his chest and spoke loudly.
“What, am I wrong?”
“It’s not really wrong, but you’re supposed to say those kinds of things behind my back.”
“Kekeke, only weaklings do that sort of a thing.”
Guardian Jeon opened his mouth and closed it, then turned towards Cho Ryu Hyang.
“My introductions were quite late. It would be good if you could address me as Guardian Jeon.”
“My name would be Cho Ryu Hyang.”
Jeon Bak smiled when the two finished exchanging greetings with each other.
“I had heard that you were interested in mathematics.”
“That’s very good. I look forward to the future of the church.”
When Jeon Bak laughed with a proud face, Gongson Chun Gi waved his hands as if he was signalling Jeon Bak to get on with something.
“Enough small talk. Tell him about what’s going on in the church right now.”
Jeon Bak nodded. He immediately began to explain what was going on to Cho Ryu Hyang.
“Till now, the church acted as the bridge between the mainland and the western world and earned much from it. For us, who live on land that cannot even be farmed, this was the best and the only way to earn money. That method alone let us survive till now. But recently we’ve encountered a troubling problem.”
Jeon Bak took out an abacus and put it on the table.
“The church’s military force was always being used up as we fought with the organizations of the mainland. There was never a case where the number of our soldiers exceeded a certain number. But when the current Pope stepped up, the whole situation took a strange turn.”
Jeon Bak calculated something as he agily used his abacus, then stretched out his hand outstretched as he opened his mouth.
“There are too many soldiers that are doing anything. We’ll lose all of our money in five months if this keeps going.”
“Before that happens, we’ll need to go earn some money for ourselves. That’s why we are going out to Sichuan.”
Cho Ryu Hyang’s eyes sparkled only then as if he realized what was going on just now. All the organizations of the martial world operated based on martial might and financial power.
Of course, there were things such as spies and the like but these always played the support role and weren’t really necessary for an organization.
Anyway, the Heavenly Demon Church at the present moment was far too big for its own good. There was no way that their current job alone would be able to support the entire church. The balance within the church had been broken.
“Sichuan, to the church, is akin to the land of hope. As long as we manage to successfully station our soldiers there, the amount of money we would be able to earn would be twice the amount we are earning now.”
“Twice the amount…….”
Cho Ryu Hyang began thinking. He didn’t know just how much the church manages to earn every year, but it’s an amount of money that allows a massive organization like this operate.
Twice the amount of the current earnings was something that Cho Ryu Hyang couldn’t even fathom. He couldn’t imagine just how the church was managing to earn that much money. Jeon Bak realized what Cho Ryu Hyang was thinking and smiled.
“The church took the goods of the mainland with some difficult methods over to the west and sold it there. We did the same for the goods from the western world. If we manage to take control of Sichuan, we won’t need to go through difficult operations which would allow us to spend less than we are now. Other than that, we would be able to aim for something even bigger.”
Something bigger? When Cho Ryu Hyang made a confused face, Jeon Bak smiled mischievously and looked at the Pope. He was asking if it was alright to tell Cho Ryu Hyang. Gongson Chun Gi nodded and decided to tell Cho Ryu Hyang himself.
Salt? Wasn’t that something that the nation strictly forbid merchants from selling?
“Till recently, this old man here got together with other old men and worked quite a bit. Thanks to them, we were able to attain some salt from Xizhang (西藏: Tibet).”
Cho Ryu Hyang’s mouth widened. The scale of this operation was far bigger than he previously thought.
“Yeah. Well, I guess it’s a little bigger than that.”
It was something that the Heavenly Demon Church was doing. There was no question that it would be a big operation.
“It’s the way to earn the most money as possible in the current world. You must know as well, but salt is worth its weight in gold.”
Right. Salt that was regulated by the nation itself was extremely valuable. As a necessary commodity, it was far too expensive.
The imperial palace was earning most of its money from salt, in fact.
“We worked our asses off to get salt. It would be a shame if we were unable to sell it.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded. Expansion into Sichuan was something that the church needed to do. Right then, Jeon Bak opened his mouth.
“This isn’t a simple thing though. It’s not like we can sell salt right away if we bring it to Sichuan. That’s because salt isn’t something that can be sold out in broad daylight. Because of that, we must first create a market where we can sell such a thing.”
Jeon Bak began to calculate with the abacus once more as he continued talking.
“In order to do that, we must take over more than half of Sichuan. Under five months at that.”
Gongson Chun Gi scratched his neck as he opened his mouth.
“It wouldn’t be easy, but it has to be done.”
“So it’s that serious of a problem.”
“Yes. It’s mostly due to a person in the church who likes to spend too much.”
When Jeon Bak glared at Gongson Chun Gi with eyes like a snake, Gongson Chun Gi flinched and turned away. The one who had been spending as much money as he liked was him after all.
“Hum, hum. Well, with this, we’ll be able to take care of all our problems.”
Gongson Chun Gi made this all sound very easy, but Cho Ryu Hyang didn’t really think this was going to be easy.
‘There are three things I’m afraid of, disregarding all the unforeseen variables that could affect this mission.’
The first thing was that the church was trying out something entirely new, and the second thing was that the martial artists of Sichuan wouldn’t just stand there and watch their home get taken from them.
The last thing was what worried Cho Ryu Hyang the most. It was the reason why no one sold any salt despite knowing that it would make them a huge amount of money.
‘Would the imperial palace just stand there and watch?’
The imperial palace was incredibly sensitive when it came to matters regarding salt. There were always salt being traded in the mainland but only the likes of small merchants did it.
If something as big as the Heavenly Demon Church began to sell salt like this, there was no way the imperial palace wouldn’t notice. That worried Cho Ryu Hyang the most.
‘He should have a plan……’
There was no way Gongson Chun Gi failed to think of the three things that he thought of just now. There was also no way that Gongson Chun Gi failed to put up a plan to deal with these problems.
Did he sense Cho Ryu Hyang’s worries? Gongson Chun Gi grinned, and opened his mouth.
“Don’t take the church too lightly. The power of the church is much greater than you might think.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded. Like Gongson Chun Gi said, the power of the church was far greater than Cho Ryu Hyang had initially imagined it to be and that power was now moving towards Sichuan.