Chapter 117. A Purposeless Meeting
Now that I think of it, I seemed to have been enjoying that time back in the day.
Having thousands of people move under my command.
Having thousands of enemies move according to my will.
Walking along the fine lines of both as I adjusted the balance of power accordingly.
Because I was young and inexperienced at the time, I seemed to have regarded a battle where thousands were at stake as a sort of a ‘play’.
The time when I stopped regarding this as a ‘play’ was when Un Hui got injured.
Thanks to this, I came back to reality, and killed someone for the first time.
You might say that this was my very first murder.
– Neng Ha Young. Found in the letters of King Shura, Cho Ryu Hyang.
* * *
The Sichuan branch of the church.
In the gardens located here, a boy and a middle-aged man were sitting together comfortably.
The middle-aged man was leaning back on a tree as he looked amusedly at a boy, and the boy was looking at the man with a troubled expression.
It was Cho Ryu Hyang, and Gongson Chun Gi
The two didn’t speak for a bit.
In the end, the one who opened his mouth first was Gongson Chun Gi.
“You made quite a scene, didn’t you.”
“Somehow it all ended up that way.”
It really did end up that way.
There was no other way of putting it.
When Cho Ryu Hyang closed his mouth, Gongson Chun Gi asked a question.
“Did you learn anything?”
After thinking a bit, Cho Ryu Hyang nodded.
“Yes. I learned much.”
When one needs to be cruel, he must be cruel.
Was there anything more important than that?
Gongson Chun Gi, after looking at Cho Ryu Hyang’s face, grinned.
“That’s good. You can leave the rest to me, now.”
Cho Ryu Hyang attempted to say something, stopped, and turned to his teacher.
He smiled, and spoke.
“You seem to be an amazing person.”
“Hm? How did you reach such an obvious conclusion?”
“You just keep saying all the words I needed to hear.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, that is so.”
Gongson Chun Gi put his hand on his young disciple’s head, and grinned.
“I too had to go through what you went through. After it all passes, it feels like nothing significant, but while it happens, it feels complicated and harsh. I know you well. And you’re doing much, much better than I expected you to. So don’t worry about what others think of you.”
Cho Ryu Hyang’s eyes trembled.
Despite looking a bit too relaxed at times, Gongson Chun Gi was an amazingly wise man.
This strangeness was only one of his many charms.
“You did well to leave your enemies alive. Keeping alive your enemies is harder than killing them, after all. You don’t have to worry about what others say about you behind your back.”
Cho Ryu Hyang paused for a moment, and nodded.
The thing he had been worried about.
His teacher already knew what it was.
“I heard something like this had never happened before.”
Gongson Chun Gi stroked his chin, and nodded.
“Well, that is true. We never left our enemies alive. We killed both our allies and enemies.”
“Frightening… I suppose you can look at it that way.”
After thinking for a moment, Gongson Chun Gi slowly opened his mouth.
“We had to do this back in the day. Our enemies multiplied if we left them alive. Sometimes, we need to be cruel for the sake of survival.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded.
He, too, knew of the church’s history.
He could only bitterly smile.
‘The church is constantly surrounded by enemies.’
The church never held hands with anyone, and constantly fought all those who were different from them.
They needed to become strong in order to survive in such an environment, and had to become cruel as well.
After surviving for so long, the church had finally gained enough power.
And in this church, weaklings were not accepted.
They simply killed all those in their way.
Because of this, the event of Cho Ryu Hyang letting his enemies live sparked much controversy within the church.
After all, this was not what they did.
“No matter what anyone says, I’ll support you. I don’t like seeing death either.”
Cho Ryu Hyang scratched his head.
“That’s what I thought as well, but I didn’t think things would become so troublesome.”
“Tsk, so you’ve misunderstood. This wasn’t supposed to bring trouble in the first place.”
So why was there a meeting about it right now?
Gongson Chun Gi smiled playfully.
“You’ve been doing so well that some old men got very annoyed. This is something that they’ve started, so you don’t need to worry about it. Just watch.”
He couldn’t understand.
And that emotion reflected directly into his face.
Gongson Chun Gi smiled, and kneeled down to Cho Ryu Hyang’s eye level.
“And if you think about it, aren’t all these people basically money? You’ve done something great. Being criticized for doing something good is kind of comical, but you’ll see why this is happening soon enough. You get what I’m saying?”
When Cho Ryu Hyang nodded energetically, Gongson Chun Gi smiled yet again.
“Right. Plus, wasn’t the reason why we came out to Sichuan to get money in the first place? We got a bunch from this battle. These old men are the strange ones here. The fact that they’re doing strange things for their own greed annoys me quite a bit. But they’re needed occasionally, so I’ll let them off.”
Gongson Chun Gi lightly tapped Cho Ryu Hyang’s back and stood up.
“I prepared everything in advance, so don’t worry about it.”
As Cho Ryu Hyang scratched his cheek, Gongson Chun Gi asked a question.
“So I heard you caught an assassin?”
“You want to know about the people who wants to kill you?”
Cho Ryu Hyang looked at Gongson Chun Gi silently.
What was that question supposed to mean?
Of course he’d want to know.
But there must be a reason why he’s asking this question.
“The people who are trying to kill you are people who you will have to take care of. They’re quite annoying at times, but you can’t go without them.”
Cho Ryu Hyang finally understood what Gongson Chun Gi was trying to do.
“You might not like it, but that’s what you have to do. So just ignore them. If you try to find out who they are, I won’t stop you.”
Cho Ryu Hyang thought.
At first, he was just curious.
He was curious about the ones who wanted to kill him.
But it was obvious, wasn’t it?
‘A member of the four families.’
The families known as the pillars of the church.
One of them had to have sent an assassin.
So if he wanted to find out who did it, he could easily do it.
He could torture, or resort to other methods.
He could think of many ways to do it, but in the end, he shook his head.
“I won’t try to find out who they are.”
“Good. That’s what your enemies would want as well. They probably can’t even sleep right now.”
Gongson Chun Gi smiled, and rustled Cho Ryu Hyang’s hair.
“You’ll experience similar things in the future. Your position as an heir will challenge you greatly. If you respond to all your challenges emotionally, you will feel good, but you’ll end up worse than you were before.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded.
He could understand.
Plus, this was something that came from Gongson Chun Gi’s wealth of experience.
After taking all of that in, Cho Ryu Hyang looked at Gongson Chun Gi with amazement.
The more he knew of his teacher, the more amazing he seemed.
“Now then, let’s go meet the old men, shall we?”
The two walked into the meeting room inside the Sichuan branch.
Once Gongson Chun Gi entered the room, every one of the guardians in the room stood up and bowed.
They were showing him their respect.
To them, he was the greatest being under the heavens.
He was the pope.
Gongson Chun Gi scanned the guardians, and smiled.
“Thank you for coming all the way out here.”
“It’s nothing. Please, make use of us as much as you see fit.”
When Guardian Wu said this excitedly, Gongson Chun Gi smiled once again.
“Still energetic as ever, eh?”
“Doesn’t even get old.”
When Guardian Ju said this with a pointy lip, Guardian Wu glared at him.
As the two both glared at each other furiously,
Gongson Chun Gi sat down on his seat, and clapped his hands.
“Now now, we can get to all that later… let’s get talking about what we came here for in the first place. We’re all busy people, now.”
“I’m free, your holiness.”
Gongson Chun Gi couldn’t resist smiling.
“……That’s nice. I can’t help but be jealous of you sometimes, Guardian Wu.”
Guardian Wu just stared at the pope confusedly.
Gongson Chun Gi moved Guardian Wu to the side, and called Cho Ryu Hyang over.
“As you may all know, this is my disciple. From now on, he’ll be with me during our meetings. You understand what this means, don’t you?”
“Of course we do.”
“You should’ve done so from the start.”
Sunwu Jo Duk and Jeon Bak both said this, which caused Gongson Chun Gi to put on a faint smile on his face.
“Right. No objections?”
All the guardians in the room nodded.
This meant quite a lot of things.
Cho Ryu Hyang, the heir, was now able to observe the inner workings of the church personally.
He could now use his power to its full potential.
“Good. Sit here.”
A seat right next to Gongson Chun Gi.
When Cho Ryu Hyang sat down, the pope opened his mouth.
“Now, let’s get on with the meeting. You all know why we’re here, yes?”
“I originally called you here to punish the buddhist fools in mainland, but…”
Gongson Chun Gi looked at his disciple strangely for a second, and opened his mouth.
“The thing is, this kid here did his job a little too well. We need to see how we can clean up the mess.”
Cho Ryu Hyang nodded apologetically.
That was exactly what it was.
After all, he did something that was never done before.
“You probably heard of it, too. The kid beat the enemy with no casualties whatsoever. Amazing, isn’t it? Anyone disagree?”
Everyone was staying quiet.
Then, suddenly, an old man in the center decided to open his mouth.
“We’re not denying his achievements. Certainly, he did an amazing thing. The problem lays in the fact that there are hostages.”
A seemingly quiet old man.
His hair had all been brushed backwards.
About half of the guardians nodded at his words.
Gongson Chun Gi, too, nodded.
“Haven’t heard a good point from you in a long time, Guardian Tian. Good job.”
The guardian from the Tian family.
When the man nodded with a slight smile, Gongson Chun Gi took a look around.
“Yes, this is something that had never happened before. After all, the church always killed all its enemies.”
New things always get compared to old things.
Because the guardians here were used to murder, they were foreign to the concept of mercy.
This didn’t seem like something the church would do.
“Hostages take up a huge amount of food, they have injuries… you have to do a ton of things to maintain them. It’s quite annoying.”
About the time when Cho Ryu Hyang’s face reddened from embarrassment, Gongson Chun Gi smiled.
“But here’s the thing that’s nice about this.”
“……What would that be?”
When guardian Tian asked this seriously, Gongson Chun Gi whispered out his answer.
“This should be done by an expert, I think.”
Jeon Bak immediately stood up with an abacus.
This was his specialty.
Jeon Bak was the backup plan that Gongson Chun Gi had.
This meeting would eventually change the church slowly.