Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 577

September 28, 2023 • 12 min read • 728 views

Oh Jin-Eui invited the three men into her room.

Her dwelling was exceptionally modest.

With nothing but a rough desk, bed, and wardrobe. It was a stark scene, but neither Pyo Wol nor Sal-no thought it strange.

As Pyo Wol and Sal No took their seats, Oh Jin-Eui cautiously began.

“Thank you for coming all this way. My only concern is that it may have been a journey in vain.”

“The judgment is for us to make. All you have to do is tell us exactly what you saw”

“Yes!”

At Sal-No’s words, Oh Jin-Eui closed her eyes for a moment to recall her memories.

Pyo Wol and Sal-No gave her ample time to remember.

After a while, she opened her eyes and began to tell them what she had seen and heard.

“It was not long ago. I hosted a group of guests. But from the moment I first saw them, I thought something was off. They didn’t fit in with Poyang Lake.”

“What made you think so?”

“It was just the general vibe. I don’t know if it’s the environment that shapes people, but the people around Poyang Lake have a unique atmosphere. Even if you’re from out of town, if you stay here long enough, things change in a similar way, including the vibe”.

Those who had been here for a long time, like the prostitutes, could instinctively tell the difference between the martial artists of the Golden Heavenly Hall and the Silver Lotus Hall and those who did not belong to them.

“The customers who came that day were definitely not from the Golden Heavenly Hall or the Silver Lotus Hall. They disguised themselves as ordinary merchants and spoke like them, but
there was something strange about them.”

“How was it off?”

“They talked about the Poyang Lake situation and said they were worried about transporting goods, and they talked about measures to be taken….But…their words didn’t feel urgent. They seemed rehearsed.”

“Rehearsed?”

“Yes. It felt like they were just trying to put out false information for others to hear.”

“That’s interesting! Go on.”

Sal-No’s eyes sparkled.

Pyo Wol and Soma, with arms folded, listened intently to Oh Jin-eui’s words.

“From what I saw, they looked more like sailors than merchants. Their clothes even smelled of salt. It was a scent that couldn’t be found on river-traveling merchants. Having that much of a salty smell means they must have lived at sea for a long time.”

“Is that so?”

“That much could be possible. There’s no law saying that merchants can’t live by the sea. But when you look at their bodies, you can’t possibly think of them as merchants.”

The men had come to the brothel to satisfy their desires, naturally sleeping with the courtesans. Oh Jin-Eui had also shared a bed with the leader of the merchants.

“It wasn’t the body of a merchant. The muscles, the physique, it was the body of a martial artist who has practiced martial arts, and it’s clear that it was trained to a considerable level.”

“Why do you think so?”

“It was more robust and intimidating than Deung Cheol-Woong.”

Although Deng Chul-woong was a lowly sub-human beast, he possessed quite impressive martial arts. Oh Jin-Eui, who had been ravished by him for a long time, was well aware of the extent of a trained martial artist’s body.

That’s why she realized the merchants were not ordinary people but martial artists. and kept a close eye on them, listening intently to what they were saying.

The merchants stayed in the brothel for two days and left.

“They usually talked about where they got their goods and where they should sell them to maximize their profits. It might sound plausible to the untrained ear, but I knew immediately how absurd their talk was.”

Generally, grains from the plains would be sold in the mountainous regions.

No matter how much you cultivate and plow the mountains, you can’t catch up with the quantity produced in the plains. But the merchants spoke the opposite way.

The terrain they mentioned was an area where grains could not be mass-produced. Yet the merchants claimed to have sold grains from there in the plains, making a substantial profit.

“That’s why I thought they were not merchants. They also seemed unfamiliar with the current situation in Kangho.”

Oh Jin-Eui believed they were spies sent by another group.

Sal-No asked,

“What made you think they were the people we were looking for?”

“They had tattoos.”

“Tattoos?”

“Yes! But the tattoos were not something commonly seen in Kangho or on the continent. They were exotic tattoos, the meaning of which I couldn’t decipher. The color of the dye used was also vibrant. It’s not easy to find such dyes in Kangho.”

At Oh Jin-eui’s words, Pyo Wol and Sal-no exchanged glances.

Before causing trouble in Poyang Lake, the Ghost Fleet mainly operated in the great sea or faraway exotic lands.

It was not at all strange for them to have tattoos from there.

They were convinced that Oh Jin-eui had hit the mark.

Pyo Wol asked,

“So where are they now?”

“They’ve left.”

“……”

“You need not be disappointed. I found out where they’re going.”

“Really?”

“There was a name that kept appearing in their stories.”

“What place?”

“Sea Gate City.”

“Sea Gate?”

“People have a tendency to repeatedly mention something that’s really important. Even when fabricating a story, it’s impossible to completely hide this tendency.”

Oh Jin-Eui had a talent for distinguishing truth and falsehood with Ghostly Precision.

“They said they’re going to establish a big base in the Sea Gate city soon.”

“A base?”

Pyo Wol furrowed his brow.

Sea Gate was not a small city.

It was an important gateway city where the Yangtze met the sea.

“If their base is indeed in the sea gate city, it explains why we couldn’t find them in the Yangtze.”

All this time, Pyo Wol and Sal-No had been tracking the Ghost Fleet through the assassins guild and the Hao Clan. But they had not found any trace of them anywhere on the Yangtze. If they had been hiding in Sea Gate city, it now made sense why they hadn’t been discovered.

“Sea Gate city is where the sea meets the Yangtze. There are countless harbors and docks. With so many large ships coming and going across the ocean, hiding among them would make it difficult for us to find them.”

“Like hiding a tree in the forest?”

“Exactly. And they sent martial artists disguised as merchants here to keep track of our movements.”

“They’re more cunning than a fox.”

“That’s right!”

Pyo Wol nodded.

One might think that Go Il-Won would rush forward without a care in the world, but he was actually as cunning as a fox.

“Sea Gate city huh… Fortunately, I know someone there.”

“Have you been there before?”

“I stopped by once.”

In the Sea Gate City , there were Yul Ayeon and Tarha from the Mara Law Sect.

They had once received help from Pyo Wol.

They had promised to repay his kindness, so if Pyo Wol asked them, they would surely help.
Pyo Wol asked Oh Jin-eui,

“When did they leave?”

“It’s been two days.”

“Two days is enough to catch up.”

At Pyo Wol’s words, Sal-No cautiously asked,

“Are you thinking of pursuing them right away?”

“If we give them time, they’ll hide somewhere again.”

“Understood. I’ll prepare for us to leave right away.”

“Hmm!”

With Pyo Wol’s permission, Soma and Sal-No immediately got up and went outside.

Oh Jin-Eui asked Pyo Wol,

“Did my information help you, Master?”

“Very much so.”

“I’m glad.”

Oh Jin-Eui smiled brightly.

***

A man with a dark and fierce aura was staring at his terrified subordinate.

“Say it again. What has happened?”

“Gi Han-seong and his followers have been killed.”

“By whom?”

“That is…”

The subordinate hesitated for a moment, and the grim man’s expression turned even more sinister.

“Speak!”

“I am not certain, but I think it might be Pyo Wol.”

“Pyo Wol?”

“Yes! There were numerous warriors on the ship, but no one noticed that Gi Han-seong was dead. In today’s martial world, the only one with such assassination skills would be Pyo Wol.

“Pyo Wol, Pyo Wol! Just like a snake awakening from its winter slumber, he finally crawls out.”

The man with the grim demeanor ground his teeth.

‘My lord!’

The subordinate bit his lip as he looked at the man.

His lord had changed last winter.

Though never a cheerful character, he had not been so gloomy.

The man possessing an atmosphere so eerie that it sent chills down one’s spine was Dokgo Hwang.

He was the fifth disciple of the Sea King Sword Jeon Mu-ok, and the de facto ruler of the Martial Sword Alliance.

The once jovial man had transformed, almost unbelievably, into something dark and grim.

It had all happened after his defeat at the hands of Jang Mugak.

He was brutally and unequivocally defeated by Jang Mugak, without any excuse.

Dokgo Hwang, who had been indebted to Jang Mugak and had followed him, but had always believed that he was not inferior in skill, saw his pride shattered in a single duel with Jang Mugak.

It was a perfect and incontestable defeat.

At that moment, his once steel-like mental fortitude also crumbled.

After losing to Pyo Wol, his already fragile mental state took a decisive blow from Jang Mugak.

The shock caused Dokgo Hwang to shut himself up in his dwelling.

He sent his followers when Jang Mugak requested, but he himself remained holed up in his room.

His once vibrant expression was gone, leaving only a dark and grim atmosphere.

A cold premonition flickered in the eyes of Dokgo Hwang, who had been listless until then.

The subordinate was not pleased with the change.

Though it was nice that Dokgo Hwang had snapped out of his lethargy, madness was vividly visible in his eyes.

Dokgo Hwang stood up and asked,

“When will the additional troops arrive?”

The conflict with the Silver Lotus Hall had intensified. As a result, the warriors he had brought with him were severely depleted. Whenever Jang Mugak requested, he had sent warriors, and as a result, their numbers had dwindled to half of what he originally had.

For this reason, Dokgo Hwang had sent a letter to the Martial Sword Alliance last winter, requesting additional troops.

Though called a request, it was practically a command.

His master, Jeon Mu-ok, was trapped in an underground prison, and he had perfectly seized the power of Martial Sword Alliance.

The subordinate answered,

“There was news that they passed the Zhoushan Archipelago a little while ago. They must be further north by now.”

The troops that had set out from the South Sea were naturally coming by ship, sailing north along the southern coast of the martial world.

Ships were the most efficient means of transporting large numbers of martial artists, and the Martial Sword Alliance had many huge ships capable of navigating the high seas.
Dokgo Hwang spoke in a gloomy voice,

“If they’ve passed the Zhoushan Archipelago, will they arrive at the Sea Gate City soon?”

“Yes! Timing-wise, that would be expected.”

Sea Gate City was the gateway from the sea to the Yangtze River. Once they reached Sea Gate City, they would quickly arrive at Poyang Lake.

“Good!”

Life returned to Dokgo Hwang’s face after a long time.

With the arrival of additional troops, he could command over five hundred warriors.

All five hundred were elite warriors of Martial Sword Alliance, incredible experts.

It was truly a tremendous force.

Judged simply by the quality of the troops, no group in the Golden Heavenly Hall could match them.

It might have been a different story if the martial artists of the Heavenly Martial Sect joined, but Jang Mugak had not yet brought a large force.

“Cunning bastard, you’re trying to preserve the strength of the Heavenly Martial Sect, aren’t you?

Having been shut in a small room all winter, Dokgo Hwang had become narrow-minded and more suspicious.

Numerous delusions and torments had made him so.

Previously, he had admired Jang Mugak’s manliness for not relying on the power of Heavenly Martial Sect, but now even that seemed contemptible as an attempt to preserve strength.

Moreover, Jang Mugak disapproved of Dokgo Hwang’s obsession with Pyo Wol, and had forcefully suppressed him through martial might.

Now, Dokgo Hwang was no longer an equal to Jang Mugak.

He had been reduced to someone who followed Jang Mugak’s commands.

That fact made him miserable, and it was Pyo Wol who had caused it.

“Find his whereabouts secretly.”

“Do you want to keep it a secret from the grand master?”

“……”

“I apologize. I will follow your command.”

“If he has reappeared after hiding for so long, there must be a good reason. We must find out why he has reappeared.”

“Understood. I will execute your command.”

Although the subordinate answered with a deep bow, Dokgo Hwang was no longer looking at him.

The view of Poyang Lake beyond the window caught his eye.

“Pyo Wol!”

The thought that Pyo Wol might be around here made his blood boil with rage.