Chapter 20

Light Novel: Volume 1 Episode 20
Manhwa: Chapter 14-15

Pyo-wol never imagined that the warm sunlight he used to enjoy to his heart’s content in the past could be fatal.

It felt like his whole body was burning. 

If just a little more time passed this way, it seemed like his entire body would turn to ash.

While the other children were unable to compose themselves due to the excruciating pain, Pyo-wol managed to retain his sanity. 

With closed eyes, he endured the pain, focusing and listening to the sounds around him. 

At that moment, a voice pierced through his ears.

“We seem to have created some useful ones. I’m sure the client will be satisfied.”

The moment he heard the voice devoid of any human emotion, Pyo-wol realized that the man was the master of the Blood Shadow Group.

It was because he sensed extraordinary confidence in the person’s voice.

Those who only take orders from others could never emit such a voice. Furthermore, everyone else remained silent while the man spoke.

It meant that only he had the authority to speak in this situation.

Pyo-wol made sure to remember the man’s voice.

Another voice was heard.

“Load them all onto the carriage. Move them to Clear Wind Manor first to acclimate them to the outside world.”

“By your order!”

The assassins of the Blood Shadow Group answered as they approached the children. 

They formed two-person teams, and approached the children at each side. Then, they grab both arms of the children and dragged them to the previously prepared carriage.

The inside of the carriage was completely blocked from outside light using a blackout curtain. The assassins unceremoniously shoved the children inside.

“Heup!”

“Eek!”

When the door closed and the light from outside was completely blocked, the children took off the cloth that covered their eyes. They all each have an expression that shows that they can finally live.

Pyo-wol also unwrapped the cloth that covered his eyes and leaned his back against the wall of the carriage.

The carriage was like a cage for animals with how cramped it was. Dozens of people were crammed into a tight space that would already feel crowded even if only three or four people fit in.

As a result, the children could only breathe heavily, unable to move.

‘We’re being treated like animals until the end.’

The children’s eyes blazed with anger in the darkness. 

Although they were used to being treated like sub-human, they didn’t expect that they would continue to be treated like this even when they went out of the underground. 

They thought the treatment would be a little better when they came out, but the fact that nothing had changed made them despair.

Pyo-wol closed his eyes, leaning against the wall.

There was nothing he could do here anyway. It would be better for him to take a little rest and conserve his stamina.

The carriage was so cramped that it was difficult to even breathe, but Pyo-wol tried to relax by loosening the muscles of his body as much as possible.

The carriage moved non-stop.

With his intuition, Pyo-wol noticed that more than a day and a half had passed.

Throughout that long time, the assassins of the Blood Shadow Group neither once opened the door of the carriage or gave them food. As a result, the children had to spend the whole day starving.

Creak!

The carriage finally stopped when the children’s hunger had reached its peak.

Pyo-wol sensed that they had finally arrived at their destination.

Shortly after, the door of the carriage opened.

“Everyone get out.”

The assassins of the Blood Shadow Group dragged the children out of the carriage. 

The children were afraid to see the sun again, but luckily they arrived at night. So they were able to get out of the carriage without fear of the sun.

The place the carriage had arrived at was a small courtyard enclosed by high walls.

As the children all stepped out of the wagon, Gu Juyang spoke,

“This is where you all will rest from now on. Here, you will adapt to life outside. Don’t feel relieved just because you’re out. If anyone slacks off, I will kill them off personally.”

“……”

At the murderous tone of Gu Juyang’s voice, the children couldn’t even breathe deeply. That’s how intense Gu Juyang’s killing intent was.

To the extent that even these children trained in harsh conditions were terrified.

With a gesture, Gu Juyang beckoned the assassins to put the children into their respective rooms. Still, the room was better than the carriage. It was because four people were assigned to one room.

Pyo-wol was assigned a room with So Gyeoksan and Go Shin-ok.

They had been together in an underground cave for as many as seven years, but this was the first time they would share a room.

There was no awkwardness in between So Gyeoksan and Go Shinok, but since Pyo-wol was a complete stranger, having him join was inevitably uncomfortable in many ways.

Pyo-wol seemed to notice this and said,

“Don’t mind me. Treat me as if I’m not here.”

“Kikik! Who cares?”

So Gyeoksan replied with his characteristic bizarre smile.

The room only had four shabby wooden beds and a desk. There were some clothes laid out on the wooden beds.

At a glance, they were cheap clothes of poor quality, but at least they were better than the current clothes the children were wearing now.

The clothes that the children hadn’t changed for so long were worse than rags. They hadn’t been washed properly, so they even smelled terrible.

“I need to go and wash up.”

“Where?”

Pyo-wol silently pointed his finger at the window.

A well could be seen through the window.

“Ah!”

“A well?”

So Gyeoksan and Go Shin-ok exclaimed.

In the past seven years, they weren’t able to properly wash themselves. There was not even enough water to drink, so there was no way they would waste water on washing.

While they were exclaiming, Pyo-wol had already reached the well.

Under the faint moonlight, Pyo-wol took off his clothes and poured water from the well on his body.

The cold sensation on his body made him realize he was back in the real world.

‘I’m finally out.’

Pyo-wol poured water over himself again.

“Let’s wash together.”

So Gyeoksan took off his clothes and ran to the well, followed by Go Shin-ok and another child.

For the first time in seven years, they washed, ate to their fullest and rested freely.

Over the next seven days, Pyo-wol gradually increased the amount of his time in the sun.

At first, standing even for half an hour felt unbearable, but after seven days, he could stand for several hours without any problem.

It was the same with his eyes.

Initially, he moved around with his eyes mostly closed, relying on his hearing. But as time passed, he was able to move around in broad daylight with both eyes open. However, they didn’t have much space to move freely.

At most, they could roam around the courtyard. Still, the children looked happy.

The blue sky visible over the high walls, the fresh scent of air, the sound of insects, and the flowers blooming under the wall made them happy.

It was a scenery they thought they would never see again.

They capture all the scenery that the children who died in the underground cave wanted to see at least once.

‘I wouldn’t mind dying now.’

Some children even shed tears due to intense emotion. 

Pyo-wol wasn’t quite to that extent, but he was quite moved. He realized how precious the scenery that he took for granted in his childhood was. 

However, Pyo-wol knew.

The happiness he was feeling now wouldn’t last for long.

The Blood Shadow Group had raised them for a clear purpose.

Pulling them out from the darkness meant it was time to use them.

Now that they had fully adapted to the sunlight, there was no reason to wait any longer.

Pyo-wol’s speculation soon became a reality.

“I’ll hand out the weapons. Keep them safe from now on. You’ll use them soon.”

The Blood Shadow Group provided the children with swords, wires, and tools for disguise.

The smiles disappeared from the children’s faces.

They also felt that the time to be deployed for the mission was approaching.

* * *

Gu Juyang’s residence was located in Great Moon Hall, the largest hall in Clear Wind Manor.2

The Clear Wind Manor was originally a place prepared by a certain rich merchant where he could spend his later years. He had hoped to live comfortably there with his lover and die in peace, but his wish was not fulfilled.

While sleeping in the arms of his lover, he was attacked by an assassin and died screaming.

All the servants working for him left, and the Clear Wind Manor naturally fell into ruin. The abandoned Clear Wind Manor then became the base for the Blood Shadow Group. 

The young assassin who assassinated the old owner of the Clear Wind Manor was now a middle-aged man occupying the main hall.

Seated opposite Gu Juyang was Lim Sayeol, who had removed his mask.

Just like Pyo-wol and the children, Lim Sayeol and his comrades also struggled to adjust to the sunlight after seven years.

While the younger people adapted a bit more easily, older ones like Lim Sayeol had to struggle for quite some time.

As he endured, Lim Sayeol was once again painfully aware of his aging. Indeed, his face had aged noticeably over the seven years.

Gu Juyang carefully looked at Lim Sayeol’s face and opened his mouth,

“You’ve worked hard during this time.”

“I merely did what I had to do.”

“Our group became more prosperous thanks to the sacrifices of you and the others, Uncle. I don’t know how to repay this favor.”

“There is no favor to repay. If it weren’t for the previous head, I would already be dead.”

Lim Sayeol answered with a nonchalant expression.

The one who had led him, with no way to make a living, onto the path of an assassin was Gu Juyang’s father, Gu Jang-pyeong.

If it weren’t for him, Lim Sayeol would have died somewhere a long time ago. To repay that favor, Lim Sayeol had been loyal to Gu Juyang in turn.

Clink!

Gu Juyang poured liquor into the cup in front of Lim Sayeol.

“You’ve done all you could, Uncle. You can rest now.”

“Are you finally allowing me to retire?”

“Of course. Not just you, but the Second Sword and the Third Sword will also be allowed to retire and rest comfortably.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. You have dedicated your life to the Blood Shadow Group so I should give you at least this much favor.”

Gu Juyang poured alcohol into his glass as well.

Lim Sayeol looked at him with eyes filled with mixed emotions. 

He had devoted his life to the Blood Shadow Group just to hear that he could finally retire. 

He didn’t know how much of his life was left, but he was fully satisfied knowing that he could live the remainder without any ties to the Blood Shadow Group.

Lim Sayeol lifted the cup that Gu Juyang had poured.

The cheap, strong liquor he was currently drinking felt more delicious than any other drink he had ever drank.

Gu Juyang also smiled slightly and lifted his cup.

Unlike Lim Sayeol, he only drank a little.

While Lim Sayeol could now fully retire, he was different.

Drinking too much alcohol dulls the senses and affects judgment. For an assassin, where life and death hinge on a single moment’s decision, alcohol was as good as poison. That’s why he never had more than one drink before in his life.

Suddenly, Lim Sayeol spoke,

“What a waste of talent.”

“……”

“Their abilities are just too outstanding to be used once and thrown away.”

“……”

“I know.”

Gu Juyang slightly nodded his head.

Through correspondence sent by Lim Sayeol on a regular basis, he knew well about the terrifying development of children trapped in an underground cavity.

If they could fully absorb those children, the Blood Shadow Group could easily rise to be the number one assassin organization in Jianghu. But such a thing was not possible.

Their contract with the client specified that.

The client wanted assassins who are completely new faces, not existing ones. 

Gu Juyang thought it was to thoroughly hide the client’s identity.

In truth, even though he received and accepted a huge request worth 500,000 gold, Gu Juyang didn’t even know the client’s identity.

If the Blood Shadow Group had not discovered the underground cave by chance, they would not have accepted this quest.

Raising a new army of assassins away from public’s eyes was close to impossible.

The one who first discovered the underground cave was the former leader of the Blood Shadow Group, Gu Jangpyeong. 

He stumbled upon the underground chamber by chance. It was an underground chamber that someone had artificially smoothed out.

After years of investigation, Gu Jang-pyeong concluded that this underground chamber must be a secret facility once run by one of the thirteen demon sects. However, he couldn’t figure out which sect specifically.

Nevertheless, it didn’t matter who the original owner was.

What mattered was that the underground chamber was an abandoned facility, and it provided the perfect environment for training new assassins away from the eyes of the world.

In the beginning, Gu Juyang could have chosen to have the children taught martial arts before putting them into the underground cave, but he didn’t. 

Instead, he threw children who hadn’t learned anything into extreme environments, taught martial arts only to those who survived, and trained them as assassins.

This was because he judged that this method was far more efficient.

In fact, the amount they spent to raise the children as assassins was only 100,000 gold. 

With just an investment of 100,000 gold, they reaped a profit of over 400,000 gold.

While more than ten times the number of surviving children had lost their lives, Gu Juyang didn’t care. 

After all, they were children who were randomly abducted from all over Jianghu. Most of them were orphans who roamed Jianghu without any connections, so no one would care about their disappearance or death.

They perfectly meet the requirements of the client.

“Their abilities might be a waste, but there is nothing we can do about it. Our relationship with them ends here.”

“Hmm…”

“Don’t worry about them, and just enjoy your retirement, Uncle. Perhaps take a pretty woman as your concubine. That would be nice.” 

“Have you figured out who the client is?”

“I don’t know. If we want to do this for a long time, we shouldn’t cross the line.”

The corner of his mouth twisted upwards. 

Finding out who the client was wouldn’t be difficult if he tried. 

But, this was a request worth 500,000 gold.

If they’re willing to invest such a large sum and seven years, they they were not going to be just anybody. There was no point in antagonizing such a big shot for nothing.

No matter how powerful the Blood Shadow Group was among the assassin organizations of Jianghu, it was still an assassin organization.

No matter how great and remarkably powerful they were, they could not compare to the prestigious sects of Jianghu.

Even if only one of the powerful and prestigious sects come forward, a group of assassins the size of the Blood Shadow Group will be annihilated in an instant.

The only exception was Hundred Wraith Union,2 the number one assassin organization in Jianghu.

The Ten Blood Assassins,3 who are the strongest assassins of the Hundred Wraith Union, were already considered as legends in Jianghu. 

Even the Two Strongholds, Three Schools, Three Supremes, and Three Manors, which could be said to be the backbone of the current Jianghu, were hesitant to deal with the Hundred Wraith Union.4,5,6,7

Gu Juyang’s goal was precisely to grow the Blood Shadow Group into an organization that could rival the Hundred Wraith Union.

Until then, even if they were being cautious, it would still not be enough. 

“Once this commission is completed, the Blood Shadow Group will take a massive leap forward. Catching up to the Hundred Wraith Union by then will not be impossible.”

“Hmm!”

Gu Juyang’s  eyes were full of ambition. 

But Lim Sayeol’s eyes, who was looking at him, were slightly shaking with unease.


Edited: September 5, 2023

SoundlessWind21’s Notes: 

  1. Great Moon Hall. Raws: 대월전(大月殿).
    • 大 dà, dài, tài – big, great, vast, large, high
    • 月 yuè – moon; month;
    • 殿 diàn – palace hall
  2. Hundred Wraith Union. Raws: 백귀련(百鬼職).
    • 百 bǎi – hundred / numerous / all kinds of
    • 鬼 guǐ – disembodied spirit; ghost; devil / (suffix) person with a certain vice or addiction etc / sly; crafty
    • 職 zhí, zhì – duty, profession; office, post
  3. Two Strongholds. Raws: 이강(二强).
    • 二 èr – two / 2 
    • 强 qiáng – strong / powerful / better / slightly more than / vigorous
  4. Three Schools. Raws: 삼문(三門).
    • 三 sān, sàn – three / 3
    • 門 mén – gate, door, entrance, opening
  1. Three Supremes. Raws: 삼패(三覇).
    • 三 sān, sàn – three / 3
    • 覇 bà – hegemon / tyrant / lord / feudal chief / to rule by force / to usurp / (in modern advertising) master
  2. Three Manor. Raws: 삼장(三荘).
    • 三 sān, sàn – three / 3
    • 荘 farmstead / village / manor / place of business / banker (in a gambling game) / grave or solemn / holdings of a landlord (in imperial China)

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Sdl

Thank you

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

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Chapter 20
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