Chapter 75. Who’s Cho Ryu Hyang’s Right Arm?
“Are you nervous?”
“Of course I am. I can’t even sleep nowadays because I’m so nervous. I never knew the Pope would choose the Heir to lead the entire operation. This is too early for that.”
“This is the choice the Pope himself made. Trust him.”
Um Seung Do scratched his head at his friend’s confident voice.
“I wish. But you know my job doesn’t allow me to.”
“So it’s an occupational hazard.”
“That’s right. An occupational hazard. It’s a hazard where I have to be suspicious of anything and everything no matter how much I want to believe it.”
The man on the other site of Um Seung Do smiled faintly.
“You’re working hard, I see. That’s good.”
“Haa.. I have no choice. The person I serve just makes me work hard.”
“It looks like Guardian Ok Gwan Ho is using you well.”
Guardian Ok Gwan Ho, one of the eight Guardians of the church, had no match under the heavens when it came to Qinggong Technique (輕功術: A technique that makes your body light, and make you be able to jump with ease).
As the Guardian with the title of Thousand Li Flying Demon (千里飛魔), he took care of the information department of the church as the administrator of the Hidden Demon Corps (秘魔隊).
“You think this counts as ‘using me well’? He’s just enslaving me. He just works me to the bone. Have you noticed that I lost weight recently? Seriously, if you just see how old man Ok handles his subordinates, you’ll just sigh in admiration. He just works people right up to their limits and stops there. Every single time. The problem is, I’m the one he’s working to the bone here. Anyways, he’s an amazing fellow.”
“The Pope put you under Guardian Ok Gwan Ho’s care because he trusted that personality of the Guardian’s. Study well under him. For the church.”
“For the church…….right. I wouldn’t even be able to do this if it wasn’t for that, damn it. But honestly, nowadays it feels like living in the battlefield might be good for me. I chose that desk job back then for nothing. Why can’t the Pope just change my job?”
The man who had been listening to Um Seung Do’s rant looked at Um Seung Do silently for a while, then opened his mouth.
“Is it that hard?”
“Yeah. I feel like my head’s about to burst nowadays. I have more things to do now that the Royal Palace is making its move. I’m about to go crazy because of those guys.”
A friend of Um Seung Do, and the leader of the greatest force in the church, Mara’s Heavenly Wind Division, Lim Hak Gyum. He nodded as he filled Um Seung Do’s glass with alcohol.
“My chances of surviving increases the harder you work.”
“I’m thankful for that.”
“You bastard, saying so awkward things like that all of the sudden……. I’m almost ready, though. We should be able to head out to Sichuan soon enough. You’ll be going too, right?”
“Yes. I have to protect the Heir.”
The Mara’s Heavenly Wind Division, the division that works under the Pope himself. Half of them were going out in order to protect Cho Ryu Hyang.
“This one……. will be dangerous. The Heir isn’t like the Pope. His martial arts isn’t completed yet.”
“You must know this, but the enemies aren’t just outside the church.”
“I know this too.”
The Pope, Gongson Chun Gi, wasn’t someone who needed bodyguards. Thanks to this, the Mara’s Heavenly Wind Division usually just took care of petty tasks.
But it was different with the Heir, Cho Ryu Hyang. They had to protect the Heir with their lives. The position of the Heir was already enough to make themselves risk their lives for, after all.
No one would know just when and where an attack would come from.
‘I can’t understand it.’
Um Seung Do never said this, but he was always curious about it.
Why would the Pope send out Cho Ryu Hyang, who was already in danger, outside?
Lim Hak Gyum looked out at the moon in the window, and opened his mouth.
“I still haven’t forgotten the Pope I saw eight years ago at the Island of Hell.”
“………Eight years ago……..”
Um Seung Do’s smiling eyes calmed down slowly.
Eight years. That was when Lim Hak Gyum and Um Seung Do had passed the hardest testing ground ever created in the church, the Island of Hell (地獄島).
It was a competition of survival that got closed after one round because of its difficulty and death rate.
Hundreds of comrades who went in with them had died or had gotten injured to the point of no recovery, but Um Seung Do and Lim Hak Gyum managed to crawl out of that hellhole somehow.
And next to them was the Pope, who was dressed extremely lightly.
“You’re here? Congrats.”
Gongson Chun Gi handed them both a bowl of alcohol, and grinned.
He was waiting for them on his own, without any servants or bodyguards.
A person who broke all sorts of rules by himself. This was who Gongson Chun Gi was.
“At the time, we were both deeply moved by the Pope. But when I think about it now, it was really a simple tactic. A carrot after the whip……..”
Lim Hak Gyum faintly smiled, and chipped in.
“But it was the tastiest carrot in the world.”
The alcohol they drank and the meat they ate at the time couldn’t be compared to any kind of food they ate afterwards. Um Seung Do looked at Lim Hak Gyum and spoke.
“You can die out there if you need to, but don’t you ever die a useless death. I’d get embarrassed.”
“…….but don’t die if you can. I would like that more.”
Um Seung Do put down his glass, took up the bottle of alcohol, drank from it, then opened his mouth.
“Shouldn’t we live a good life like one of the eight Guardians? I’d be mad if I died after working this hard. I wouldn’t even be able to die because of how angry I’d be. Don’t you think?”
“Fine. I won’t die.”
Um Seung Do smiled faintly. He had heard what he wanted to hear.
Lim Hak Gyum looked at Um Seung Do quietly. Um Seung Do did the same.
After a long period of silence, Lim Hak Gyum opened his mouth.
“What do you know about the Heir?”
It was a sudden question. Um Seung Do thought for a bit, then shook his head.
“I don’t know. That would be the most accurate answer that I have right now.”
Um Seung Do was confused.
“Weren’t you here so that you could ask me about that? How’s this supposed to be good?”
“The fact that even you cannot judge the Heir is just good news to me.”
Um Seung Do drank from his cup with a bitter face.
“I actually researched quite a lot about the Heir after I met him. I was curious, too. I got quite a bit of info about him, starting from his past habits, all the way to hobbies and eating habits and such……. but I still don’t get it. It’s all kind of blurry to me. This is a first for me.”
“This just makes me feel even better.”
When Lim Hak Gyum smiled, Um Seung Do responded with a troubled face.
“I know one thing for sure, though.”
Um Seung Do looked straight at Lim Hak Gyum.
“The Pope chose the Heir because he saw something that I didn’t. It probably had something to do with the future of this church.”
Lim Hak Gyum nodded. The Pope was able to see things others could see. And his judgement was never wrong.
“I hope the Pope’s decision this time isn’t wrong…….”
Um Seung Do said this as he took another swig from the bottle. This mission had too many variables this time. It made Um Seung Do nervous.
* * *
Cho Ryu Hyang stared at No Jin Nyung, who was sprawled out on the floor like a corpse. Him getting curious about the power of the formation really had almost killed the man.
‘It was close.’
No Jin Nyung’s red skin, and his burnt clothing made him look like he was just rescued from a pit of fire.
If Cho Ryu Hyang had deactivated the formation a little slower, No Jin Nyung would’ve surely died.
“What shall we do?”
When Un Hui asked this as he appeared next to Cho Ryu Hyang, Cho Ryu Hyang began to think. It would be troublesome if No Jin Nyung woke up and started to cause a scene.
No Jin Nyung was a harmonious expert. He could not be contained with just strength.
‘Why did teacher send me someone like this?’
Cho Ryu Hyang tried to think about what his teacher was thinking, then shook his head.
He thought there was no use in thinking about such things. He could always ask later.
“Let’s wait until he wakes up. Will you help me move him?”
Un Hui easily lifted No Jin Nyung, and put the man on a wooden bench next to Cho Ryu Hyang’s living quarters. He then looked at Cho Ryu Hyang and spoke.
“You should rest. I’ll take care of him.”
Cho Ryu Hyang looked at Un Hui with a tired face for a second, and nodded. Come to think of it, an expert of Un Hui’s strength should easily be able to take care of No Jin Nyung.
“Then I’ll come back after washing myself.”
When Un Hui said this with a confident voice, Cho Ryu Hyang went in. He was trying to take care of the situation after washing himself, so that he could handle this matter with a clear mind.
How much time had passed since Cho Ryu Hyang walked in tiredly?
Un Hui extended his senses, confirmed his distance from the Heir, and opened his mouth with cold eyes.
“I know you’re awake.”
No Jin Nyung’s eyebrows twitched a little at that moment. After thinking whether he should stand up or not, No Jin Nyung just decided to keep pretending to be dead.
Un Hui, who saw this, opened his mouth.
“Are you pretending to have fainted because you need to recover? It’s useless.”
Un Hui slowly moved towards No Jin Nyung. Very slowly. But even that slow movement seemed very significant to No Jin Nyung.
At the same time, an immense pressure enveloped No Jin Nyung’s body. It was a creepy feeling, as if a giant snake was wrapping around his body.
“I’m not as kind as the Heir. Also, I’m not even in a good mood right now.”
A low voice. The cold energy contained in that voice made No Jin Nyung stand up and begin complaining.
“…….Bastard. I was going to stand back up, anyway.”
He just needed time to think. Right, that was it. The bet with Gongson Chun Gi. He lost in that bet.
He felt sad. A kid’s minion? Wasn’t this too awkward?
Un Hui looked at No Jin Nyung, who had a depressed expression on his face, then spoke quietly.
“I don’t care about how you treat me, but you should act properly in front of the Heir. I don’t even need to work hard to kill you, anyway.”
No Jin Nyung’s lips trembled lightly. He was slightly pissed at Un Hui’s threat.
“Don’t be so confident. If it wasn’t for my wound, I would’ve been able to take care of you in one hit.”
Un Hui smiled.
“You’re quite confident. Do you trust in your incomplete martial art that much?”
Un Hui and No Jin Nyung glared at each other. Was it because both of them were about the same age, and were both Harmonious experts?
There was a strange feeling that the two shared at that moment. It was rivalry, and it was the type that only men got at times.
The feeling of having their blood boil. The one who looked away first, unexpectedly enough, was Un Hui.
“You should recover first.”
No Jin Nyung’s eye twitched. He knew that Un Hui was being considerate for him.
But wasn’t this just that? Sympathy? It was shitty sympathy. When he realized this, he was angered.
No Jin Nyung felt something come up his throat at the same time, and frowned.
The metallic taste that filled his mouth. To experts like he, emotional wounds hurt more than physical wounds.
His weakened body was unable to contain his anger, which led to an internal injury.
But he couldn’t bring himself to show his injury on the outside. No Jin Nyung forcefully swallowed the blood that was coming up his throat.
This sort of behavior just made his injury worse, but he didn’t really care about that right now.
His intestines boiled, as if he had swallowed a ball of fire. He was about to faint from the pain, but he desperately managed to hold on.
His rage enabled him to be like this. Right then, Un Hui, who was turned away from him, spoke softly.
“The Heir is much greater than you think. He is worthy of your services.”
Un Hui kept talking, while No Jin Nyung was desperately trying to control his insides.
“No Jin Nyung, was it? We’ll have to sort out who’s stronger later on for the future.”
Un Hui had accepted a bet from the Heir, and became the Heir’s subordinate. Wasn’t this guy also in a similar situation?
As No Jin Nyung was now Cho Ryu Hyang’s subordinate, there was a need to see who was stronger of the two.
“I’ll be waiting for your recovery.”
This was an official challenge. If No Jin Nyung refused this, he wouldn’t be a man.
“…….You can look forward to it.”
No Jin Nyung opened his mouth tiredly, and grinned. He can take care of his anger at the fight. He won’t lost. In a normal fight, in a normal martial arts fight, there was no way he’d lose.
“I’ll do that, then.”
The two thus made a promise, and waited for Cho Ryu Hyang to return.