Chapter 40: Dragons and Tigers Gather (3)

Light Novel: Volume 2 Chapter 15
Manhwa: Chapters 42

Episode 5. Dragons and Tigers Gather (3)

Lee Gwak and Nam Woo-gyeong sat facing each other in a shabby thatched house.

Nam Woo-gyeong spoke to Lee Gwak, who remained tense.

“Relax, I’m not going to eat you.”

“……”

“Tea or alcohol, which do you prefer?”

“I’m fine, thank you.”

“Tea it is, then.”

Nam Woo-gyeong, deciding unilaterally, began to prepare tea. Lee Gwak watched him wordlessly.

The way he brewed tea was filled with grace, unexpected for someone living in a humble house. He carefully checked the temperature of the water before brewing the tea.

The refreshing aroma of tea filled the small house, but Lee Gwak couldn’t relax.

He still didn’t know Nam Woo-gyeong’s true identity, and he was not foolish and naive enough to accept kindness from someone he didn’t know. 

Lee Gwak looked at Nam Woo-gyeong with a heavy gaze.

Clink!

Nam Woo-gyeong poured the brewed tea into a cup, smirking slightly.

“You’ll bore holes through me with that stare. Relax your eyes a bit.”

“……”

“Have a drink first. It’ll help you relax.”

He held out a cup of tea to Lee Gwak. 

Lee Gwak didn’t refuse and accepted the cup. As he took a sip of the warm tea, his tension eased slightly.

Nam Woo-gyeong also sipped his tea before speaking.

“You’re quite an interesting fellow.”

“What do you mean?”

“You hid your martial arts skill so perfectly. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have known you were that strong.”

“I wasn’t exactly trying to hide it.”

“Well, I’m not criticizing you. I’m just frustrated with my own judgment.”

“……”

“I pride myself on having the best observational skills and eyes in the world, so I’m angry at myself for not noticing that you’ve mastered martial arts to such a level.”

“I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing for you to say sorry for. I’m not scolding you.”

Thud!

Nam Woo-gyeong placed his tea cup down.

Then he looked straight at Lee Gwak. His eyes seemed to pierce through everything.

“Lee Gwak!”

“Yes?”

“Let’s be honest with each other. It’ll be easier for both of us.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll lay everything out on the table, and you will do the same. It’s only right that I start.”

“……”

“Let me introduce myself properly. I am Nam Woo-gyeong, the young leader of the Hao clan.”

The corners of Lee Gwak’s eyes trembled for a moment. 

He had suspected the man in front of him to be someone out of the ordinary, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine him to be the young leader of the Hao clan.

The Hao clan was an organization created by the lowest people in society to protect themselves.

In the beginning, it started as an intelligence-gathering organization for survival, but over the years, it has steadily built up its power. Now, it possessed a level of strength that no other faction dared to confront. 

There were even rumors that said that the Ten Supremes of Jianghu would not be able to overlook the Hao clan because of their unparalleled intelligence network.

And Nam Woo-gyeong was the young leader of such a remarkable clan.

The gap in status between the current Lee Gwak and him was incomparable, but Lee Gwak didn’t cower and looked directly at Nam Woo-gyeong.

“Why is the young leader of the Hao clan in a place like this?”

“In a place like this?”

“It just doesn’t seem to fit you.”

“The Hao clan originated in places like these. It started with the lower-class people of the slums banding together to defend themselves. So, places like these suit me best.”

“But why specifically under the shadow of the Jade Heaven Alliance? Aren’t there plenty of slums in other places too?”

“Are you asking because you’re unaware, or are you testing me? Of course, it’s because the Jade Heaven Alliance is the center of the martial world. All information flows through here, unrivaled in both quality and quantity. Given that, it’s only natural for me to come. Moreover, it’s a tradition for the prospective leader of the Hao clan to spend a significant amount of time here.”

“Tradition?”

“Yes! Ever since the Jade Heaven Alliance was established a hundred years ago, every prospective leader of the Hao clan has passed through here at one time or another, it’s just that it’s never been publicized.”

“Hmm!”

Lee Gwak hummed thoughtfully. Nam Woo-gyeong watched him calmly.

“I’ve revealed everything. Now it’s your turn, Lee Gwak.”

“What do you want to know?”

“That martial art, how did you learn it?”

Lee Gwak closed his eyes for a moment at Nam Woo-gyeong’s question. 

He had anticipated such a moment would come, it was just that it came much sooner than he expected. 

Lee Gwak opened his eyes and looked straight at Nam Woo-gyeong. Nam Woo-gyeong did not avert his gaze.

Suddenly, Lee Gwak thought he could trust this man. 

After merging five snakes, his intuition had developed remarkably, especially in discerning the true nature of people.

To Lee Gwak, Nam Woo-gyeong appeared like someone he could trust. Revealing his identity to Lee Gwak was a risk for Nam Woo-gyeong too, so perhaps it was Lee Gwak’s turn to take a risk.

“I am…”

Lee Gwak calmly recounted how he had learned the Eight Sects Sword Art and the Invisible Spider Puncture Art. However, he had somewhat glossed over the fact about his mastery of the Yoga Secret Manual, which was the foundation of the Eight Snakes Art.

Even though he decided to share his secrets, he felt uncomfortable revealing everything. Fortunately, Nam Woo-gyeong didn’t press him further.

Instead, he asked about something else.

“Then what about Mount Shaohua?”

“You knew about that too?”

Don’t underestimate the information gathering ability of the Hao clan. I even knew about your visit to the Red Flower Pavilion the previous day too–”

“That pavilion must be a branch of the Hao clan.”

“How did you know that?”

“The liquor you served me before was the same as the one I drank at the Red Flower Pavilion.”

“You’re quite perceptive, aren’t you?”

“I have to be, in order to survive.”

“That’s right. The Red Flower Pavilion is a branch of the Hao clan. That girl, Choha, you shared a night with is also someone from the Hao clan.” 

“About her, nothing happened–”

“I know that you didn’t sleep with her. Anyway, that’s not what’s important right now. So, what happened at Mount Shaohua?”

“Why do you think something happened?”

“Because it doesn’t make sense otherwise. I mean, I know that the Eight Sects Sword Art and the Invisible Spider Puncture Art are decent martial arts, but you couldn’t have reached your current level by practicing them alone.”

“You’re right. That’s why I used the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.”

“What?”

“I frequented it under the pretext of repairs to use it for my training.”

“Hahaha!”

At that moment, Nam Woo-gyeong couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

He hadn’t anticipated that Lee Gwak would secretly use the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.

Nam Woo-gyeong laughed heartily for the first time in a while. Tears had already formed in the corners of his eyes.

“You’re truly a gem. Truly impressive. To think you used the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground like that.”

“……”

“Well done. You should take advantage of anything that can be utilized like that.”

“Aren’t you going to reprimand me for doing that?”

“Why would I? Just because you used the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground?”

“Since it’s supposed to be a place that only the chosen ones are supposed to enter.”

“Chosen ones? Ha!”

Suddenly, Nam Woo-gyeong snorted. When Lee Gwak looked at him with a puzzled expression, Nam Woo-gyeong explained, 

“The Steel Blood Hell Training Ground was never meant to be a place for the chosen ones. It was originally meant to be a place where anyone could freely challenge themselves to their heart’s content as long as they have enough determination. At least that’s how it started in the beginning.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Of course, you wouldn’t. The current Jianghu is trying to erase its history as much as they can.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll explain later. That’s not what’s important now.”

“……”

Nam Woo-gyeong gazed at Lee Gwak with deep eyes.

“You’ve been through a lot. I’m proud of you.”

Lee Gwak didn’t know how to respond.

It was his first time revealing his secrets to someone, and the first time he’d ever received such praise. 

“I am–”

“You’re worthy of respect. I mean it sincerely. And I promise to keep this secret until the day I die, regardless of the Hao clan. I promise you in my name, Nam Woo-gyeong.”

“Thank you.”

“One last piece of advice. As I said earlier, recognition is essential in the martial world, but it should be given with caution, considering the recipient. The Tempest Three Demons are not the kind of people to keep their word. They may stay silent at first because they are afraid of you, but in time, they will surely forget that fear and tell everyone about you. It is indeed remarkable that you’ve cultivated your martial arts to such an extent on your own, but because you have cut yourself off from the world and immersed yourself in your own world, you have missed out on many things.”

“That’s–”

“A man must be clear about when to extend or withhold kindness. Know when to show mercy and when not to. Your kindness could turn into a disaster in the future.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“Just…”

“Just?”

“Just because. You don’t seem like just anybody. And I admire you.”

“……”

“And if I add one more reason, it’s because I know how much of an impact and influence someone who’s grown up right can have on the world.”

“I’m not that remarkable of a person.”

“I’m not just referring to you.”

Nam Woo-gyeong walked over to the window and opened it. 

The night sky, filled with stars, came into view.

“My great-grandmother was the one who laid the foundation of the Hao clan that we see today. She wasn’t always so great, but she met a person who changed her life dramatically.”

There was one thing his great-grandmother always told young Nam Woo-gyeong.

Always pay attention to those who rise alone from the shadows.

For it is such individuals who can bring great change to the world.

Even the person who shaped the current martial world today was such a person. 

“Fist… demon.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing.”

Nam Woo-gyeong shook his head and turned around.

He didn’t know whether Lee Gwak was the kind of person his great-grandmother described. However, he was undoubtedly a talent worth looking forward to. 

“Lee Gwak! If you ever need anything, let me know. I’ll help if I can.”

“……”

“Don’t feel burdened. I’m doing this because I want to.”

“Thank you…”

Lee Gwak bowed in gratitude.

Nam Woo-gyeong smiled broadly.

“Now that we’re done talking, how about a drink?”

“That sounds good.”

Lee Gwak nodded.

The two men sat across from each other, sipping their drinks.

The sound of their conversation drifted out the window into the night.

* * *

Geum Guho furrowed his brow.

“So, you’re telling me that the Tempest Three Demons disappeared overnight?”

“That’s right.”

“Have you figured out what happened?”

“We’ve confirmed that they clashed with Lady Muk Seon-wol of the Dragon Sky Valley, but after that, there’s no trace of their whereabouts.”

His trusted aide, Jang Hwak, responded.

“Hmm!”

Geum Guho was used to hiding his emotions like the Hundred-Faced Fox, so for him to show a troubled expression was an uncommon sight. 

The Tempest Three Demons were powerful figures he had been trying to recruit to expand his influence in the Outer Court. Their disappearance following a clash with Muk Seon-wol was causing him a headache.

“Keep on looking for their whereabouts. If they’re still around here, we must bring them in.”

“We’ve already assigned the task to the Heavenly Intelligence Hall.”

“Heavenly Intelligence Hall?”

“Yes! There’s a promising new recruit who just joined. I think he’ll prove to be a useful hound.”

“Who is it?”

“Go Jeon-ok. Ambitious and skilled. If nurtured well, he could become a valuable hunting dog.”

“Really?”

Interest sparkled in Geum Guho’s eyes.

It was rare for Jang Hwak to speak with such confidence. When he did, it usually meant there was a good reason for it.

“Train him well. We might find him useful in the future.”

“Yes! I will raise him into a loyal hound who will only listen to its master’s commands.”

“Good!”

A cold smile tugged at the corners of Geum Guho’s mouth.


SoundlessWind21’s Notes:
Damn. The part about the similarity between the Fist Demon of Mount Hua and Lee Gwak… The part about Nam Woo-gyeong’s great-grandmother’s advice wasn’t mentioned in the manhwa. 

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Mokhtar

That’s why I see this novel superior to the manhwa

Let's Go

Keep up the good work. I appreciate your work. I was trying to find this novel’s translation & finally came across your website. Thanks for this amazing translation.

Leo

when this novel touch chapter 120 (lee gwak rescue sobo), please accept my money..

Reaper of the Drifting Moon
Manhwa = Novel
Chapter 78 = Chapter 125

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Chapter 40: Dragons and Tigers Gather (3)
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