Reaper of the Drifting Moon Chapter 616

October 27, 2023 • 11 min read • 1253 views

Jang Mugak stared into the darkness of Lake Poyang.

The moonlight stretched a long way across the water, so dark that it could not be distinguished from the sky.

‘Lee Geom-han.’

Beyond the expansive lake was his arch-nemesis.

Perhaps his opponent was also pondering like him, staring at the same lake.

The war had lasted longer than he had expected.

And with the prolonged conflict, a myriad of issues had arisen.

One of them was the shift in public sentiment.

In the past, people looked upon the Golden Heavenly Hall with favor. Now their perception has changed.

Especially after a series of mistakes by figures like Deung Cheol-woong and Dokgo Hwang, people began to see the Golden Heavenly Hall as the embodiment of evil.

Though some might dismiss the shift in public opinion as insignificant, from the perspective of the war, there was nothing more burdensome.

In the past, people had willingly cooperated with them, but now they not only looked at them with a cold eye, they secretly tried to sabotage them.

This change in mood had a demoralizing effect on the warriors of the Golden Heavenly Hall.

Both the Golden Heavenly Hall and the Silver Lotus Hall primarily consisted of young martial artists.

Their reason for facing each other and drawing their swords was simple.

To achieve fame and rise in stature; to become a hero.

No matter how they romanticized and glamorized it, the essence remained unchanged.

Their morale would plummet if they joined the Golden Heavenly Hall to become heroes of Kangho and were treated as villains.

If this decline continued, the Golden Heavenly Hall might self-destruct.

If the opponent was easy to deal with, they would be able to hold out and give them some respite, but unfortunately Lee Geom-han was not one of those people.

At his side was Namgung Seol, a fiercely determined female warrior.

She knew precisely how to exploit the current situation in favor of the Silver Lotus Hall.

Namgung Seol secretly spread rumors throughout Jianghu.

The rumors were various.

That the Golden Heavenly Hall was a demonic cult, that they practiced dark arts in underground chambers, or that they were possibly the successors of the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Whether these rumors were true or false didn’t matter.

She knew that people didn’t care about the truth. All she had to do was throw out a tantalizing piece of gossip and it would spread like wildfire.

When the Golden Heavenly Hall had the trust of the people, such tactics were ineffective. But now that the public sentiment was against them, the rumors would spread on their own.

Namgung Seol knew human nature all too well.

So she recklessly spread rumors and accelerated the change of public opinion against the Golden Heavenly Hall.

Jang Mugak was in a precarious state of mind.

With a heavy sigh, Jang Mugak lamented,

“Hoo.”

It would have been nice to have a friend to confide in at a time like this. But that friend was no longer of this world.

“Dokgo Hwang! Why on earth did you commit such an act?”

No matter how blinded by revenge one may be, there is a line that must not be crossed.

Dokgo Hwang had crossed that line and bore the condemnation of Kangho.

If it weren’t for his death, he would likely have been deemed the public enemy of Kangho.

Had he been branded as such, the Golden Heavenly Hall would have faced an unprecedented loss of public support, far worse than ever before.

The more he thought about it, the more convoluted his feelings became.

“Sigh! Perhaps it’s better to simply pick up the sword and fight without thought.”

It was unfortunate that he couldn’t.

Jang Mugak raised his head to look at the sky.

The bright moon filled his vision.

“Should I seek help from the Heavenly Martial Sect?”

He bit his lip slightly.

It was an option he never wanted to consider.

He had chosen his path, hoping to become the ruler of the world without the help of the Heavenly Martial Sect. Now, reaching out to them would hurt his pride.

“Tsk!”

Just as Jang Mugak was about to turn away, his eyes sharpened.

“How audacious. To sneak up all the way here.”

His gaze turned towards a large tree.

Rustle!

The leaves were scattered by the wind blowing from Poyang Lake.

Jang Mugak spoke again.

“Shall I force you out?”

“I’ll come out on my own accord.”

At that moment, someone emerged from the shadow of the tree.

He was dressed in a black robe, his face hidden by a hat attached to it.

Jang Mugak warned,

“You’d better give me a straight answer, if you don’t want to die…….”

It was no idle threat.

The man flinched; he felt Jang Mugak’s killing intent directed at him. It had been a long time since he’d felt such a chilling aura.

It felt as if his skin was being sliced by a blade.

The man raised his arms to show he had no intention of fighting.

“I am an emissary. I came to negotiate.”

“Negotiate?”

“I know you’re troubled by the worsening public sentiment. We can help resolve that issue.”

“We?”

“Yes, we.”

“Under whose orders did you come?”

“I am Song Cheonwoo, from Guryongsalmak.”

“Guryongsalmak? Song Cheonwoo?”

Jang Mugak furrowed his brow in thought.

These were names he had never heard before.

Both were terms he’d never heard before.

If anyone else had said that, they would have been slaughtered in an instant. The only reason he hadn’t attacked yet was because the stranger’s energy was extraordinary.

A martial artist of Jang Mugak’s caliber could sense this man’s presence, but most others wouldn’t even realize he was nearby.

The man’s stealth was exceptional.

Blending in with the natural landscape, his concealment had reached the peak.

It was unlikely for a martial artist of this caliber to speak frivolously.

“Is the Guryongsalmak an assassins sect?”

“Why would you assume so?”

“Your stealth techniques remind me of a certain assassin.”

“Are you referring to Pyo Wol by any chance?”

“You know of him?”

“Indeed. To put it plainly, he and I are like brothers from the same school.”

“So, Pyo Wol is from the Guryongsalmak as well?”

“Not exactly. It’s a complex matter, not easily explained here.”

“I have all the time in the world. Speak, or how should I trust you?”

“Very well. He and I trained under the same assassin group, but later went our separate ways.”

Song Cheonwoo kept his explanations succinct.

Inside, he was on high alert.

Jang Mugak was even more formidable than he had anticipated.

A superhuman perception that could instantly detect his stealth, and an aura that was almost
otherworldly.

To use such a man, he would have to risk his own life.

If So Yeowol hadn’t done him a favor, he would never have appeared in front of Jang Mugak.
Jang Mugak queried further,

“So, after parting ways, you aligned yourself with this Guryongsalmak?”

“Exactly.”

“Simply knowing that isn’t enough to trust you. I’ve never even heard of this ‘Guryongsalmak’ before.”

“You may have heard of the Unreturnable Prison.”

“And?”

“If I told you that Unreturnable Prison was a part of Guryongsalmak, would you believe me?

“Ho!”

For the first time, a spark of interest lit up Jang Mugak’s eyes.

He was familiar with Unreturnable Prison.

A secret prison known to elite martial artists, used to secretly eliminate rivals.

His close friend Dokgo Hwang had imprisoned his sworn brother Yoo Soo-hwan there, so he knew it well.

Song Cheonwoo smirked,

“Seems like you are aware. Unreturnable Prison was just one of the enterprises run by the Guryongsalmak.”

“So you’re saying that there are more of them? So the ‘Guryongsalmak’ represents a conglomerate of such companies?”

“Something like that.”

“Fine! I get it. But why has Guryongsalmak approached me? We seemingly have no connection.”

“Don’t you have Pyo Wol?”

“Pyo Wol? Does Guryongsalmak hold a grudge against him too?”

“He’s the reason our main base was decimated.”

“Ho!”

For the first time, Jang Mugak looked intrigued.

‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’, as the saying goes.

If Guryongsalmak was truly an enemy of Pyo Wol, then they could be of use.

“Go on.”

“The reason why the people turned against the Golden Heavenly Hall is simple. They considered the Golden Heavenly Hall to be evil. In order to win back their favor, you have to divert their attention to a greater evil.”

“Evil? Are you talking about Pyo Wol?”

“Yes.”

Song Cheonwoo responded politely.

On the other hand, Jang Mugak’s gaze deepened.

Resorting to conspiracies to claim victory was not his style. But now he and Golden Heavenly Hall were backed into a corner.

They needed a trump card to turn the tide.

“Designate Pyo Wol as a public enemy?”

“Isn’t that an enticing idea?”

Song Cheonwoo’s words were as tempting as a devil’s whisper.

After a brief hesitation, Jang Mugak finally spoke.

“Agreed.”
***
In the midst of the Poyang Lake, bathed in moonlight, a small boat floated majestically.

A beautiful woman sat inside, taking in the serene view. All that surrounded her was deep darkness and moonlight, an eerily calm and peaceful sight. Yet she gazed out into the distance, unflinching.

The wind made her hair flutter gracefully.

Just as she was adjusting her hair,

Thud!

A distant sound, as if something had hit the water’s surface, echoed.

Without showing any signs of surprise, she turned her attention to the source of the sound.

Suddenly, cutting through the darkness, something approached the boat.

Splash!

Again, the sound of something striking the water resounded.

The approaching figure made splashing sounds, as if gliding over water.

Someone was using the Water Flying Technique, rushing towards the boat she was on.

Splash!

Each time the figure skimmed the water, it moved almost ten meters further.

Leaving a mere ten meters or so, the figure soared high and then descended towards the boat.

Thump!

Despite the figure landing from a great height, the boat merely rocked slightly without capsizing.

The woman smiled at the uninvited guest.

“Cheonwoo!”

The intruder was none other than Song Cheonwoo, who had gone to negotiate with Jang Mugak.

The beautiful woman welcoming Song Cheonwoo was So Yeowol.

“I’ve returned.”

“You’ve done well.”

Under the soft moonlight, So Yeowol’s smile seemed even more enchanting.

She reached out with her fair hand, and Song Cheonwoo grasped it, moving closer.

So Yeowol inquired,

“How did the negotiations go?”

“He accepted our proposal.”

“That’s good to hear.”

So Yeowol’s smile deepened.

Song Cheonwoo asked her,

“How did you know he would accept our proposal?”

“Because he’s as cornered as we are.”

“Hmm!”

“When people are desperate, their rationality often falters. I assumed Jang Mugak would be the same.”

“You truly are remarkable.”

“Thank you. Even if my speculations were correct, we wouldn’t have been able to successfully negotiate with him without you.”

Song Cheonwoo was the only one that So Yeowol trusted.

Even with her confidence, if the negotiator was not competent, the plans she laid could easily fail.

That’s why she sent Song Cheonwoo as her envoy.

Thankfully, he brilliantly accomplished what she wanted and returned.

Looking at the moon’s reflection in the water, So Yeowol murmured,

“If only the Ghost Fleet could have held out a bit longer, we wouldn’t be in such a hurry.”

The fall of the Ghost Fleet brought a deep sense of crisis upon her.

She knew the capabilities of Go Il-won, her stepbrother, better than anyone else.

His death had deeply shaken her.

With the downfall of the Ghost Fleet, it was clear that Pyo Wol’s next target would be Guryongsalmak.

Even though she controlled Guryongsalmak, her power had diminished to less than half of its peak. It was obvious what would happen if they clashed with Pyo Wol, the ruler of the assassins.

Hence, she broke the unwritten rules of Guryongsalmak and made contact with Jang Mugak.

All of this was to eliminate the thorn in her side known as Pyo Wol.

“Pyo Wol! Let’s put an end to our fateful ties.”

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