The warrior’s Rebirth Chapter 25

Chapter 11. I’m a Pricey Man. -02 (End of Volume 1)

Since Seok Duk-Wol had visited, Seok Jin-Ho had roughly guessed what was going on. As Seok Duk-Wol was the third in command within Seokpung Trade Guild, right after the lord and the vice-lord, making conjectures was easy. But upon hearing the details, it seemed the matter was more complicated than he thought.

“Yeah, things have gotten pretty tangled.”

With an expression filled with discomfort, Seok Duk-Wol unleashed his story like a storm, spilling out the frustrations that had built up in his chest, laying out his current plight in a clear and concise manner.

“If it’s as you said, it definitely seems like the work of Baekma Trade Guild.”

“It might even involve other trade guilds. But Baekma seems to be at the heart of it. The problem is the lack of hard evidence.”

“So, you’re saying you need Baek Daehyeop’s help, right?”

“Uh-huh. Mount Bungsan’s Iron Fist, Baek Daehyeop, is not only a top-notch expert representing the Paeng family in Northern Hebei but also among the top ten masters of the Hebei Province. Although HeukO Fortress belongs to the eighteen bandit villages, the story would be different if we face them with Baek Daehyeop. We’re not just going to sit back and watch. Just because we lack a peak master doesn’t mean the Seokpung Trade Guild’s power is weak.”

Initially, it was due to the great axe wielder known as Colossal Force in HeukO Fortress that they could extend their reach. But with Mount Bungsan’s Iron Fist, Baek Sang-Gun, stepping in, not only could they retrieve the stolen trade goods, but they could also possibly crush HeukO Fortress itself. Given the nature of bandits, even if they couldn’t be annihilated, it was possible to utterly destroy the fortress, inspiring Seok Duk-Wol to look desperately at Seok Jin-Ho.

Because of Baekma Trade Guild’s interference, Seokpung Trade Guild, which had been refused by the powerful people they were connected to, only had Seok Jin-Ho to rely on.

“Have you asked the guild master?”

“Well, that’s a bit of a problem. If I ask the guild master, it would be resolved, but it would take time and it could cause issues with the lord’s trust in him.”

“I see.”

“Moreover, Baek Daehyeop is currently here. It would cut down on time. Of course, it all depends on if we could receive his aid.”

With a dry swallow, Seok Duk-Wol replied. The best course of action would be to enlist the help of Seok Jin-Ho to gain Baek Sang-Gun’s cooperation. That was why Seok Duk-Wol looked at Seok Jin-Ho with such desperate eyes.

“But, do you think I can make that possible?”

“Don’t play dumb. I know you’re not in an ordinary relationship with Baek Daehyeop and Lady Paeng. I know they visit this place every day.”

“That means you must have already faced rejection, right?”

“That, yeah.”

Seok Duk-Wol laughed awkwardly. He quickly grabbed Seok Jin-Ho’s hand.

“I’m begging you, Jin-Ho! Could you at least mention it? I’ll never forget this debt!”

“Even if I do what you ask, the chance of success is lower than failure. It’s not a particularly significant favor, as you know.”

“But still, just mentioning it could help. So far, the only one allowed to stay in the annex and grant audience is the guild master himself. But those two visit this place every day.”

“Hmm.”

Seok Jin-Ho’s gaze shifted to Seok Duk-Wol, bowing his head. Then, his gaze fell upon the trembling hands of Seok Duk-Cheol clinging onto him. Seeing hands filled with calluses and scars, a memory flitted through his mind—it was Seok Jin-Ho’s own memory.

‘Debt.’

Seok Duk-Wol was the one who had looked after him, treated like a nephew when everyone else ignored and looked down upon him. Although Duk-Wol did not often visit Seok’s household due to his work as a courier, whenever he entered the compound, he always gave pocket money and gifts to Jin-Ho. Without expressing it in words, Duk-Wol silently supported him.

‘If a favor is received, it’s common decency to repay it.’

Moreover, Seok Jin-Ho was also intrigued by the bandit villages. More precisely, he was interested in HeukO Fortress beyond the plain scope of his curiosity.

“If you just create an opportunity or subtly bring it up, that would be enough. After that, I’ll see what I can do.”

“I understand.”

“What?”

“I’ll at least bring it up. It’s not hard to mention the subject. But don’t get your hopes up too high.”

“Thank you! I really appreciate it! I will never forget this kindness!”

Despite there being no certain decision yet, Seok Duk-Wol’s previously dark countenance immediately brightened. He was pleased, knowing that at least the conversation could start. He reiterated his thanks to Seok Jin-Ho repeatedly while holding both his hands.

“Don’t expect too much, though. The chances of it not going well are higher.”

“Even the fact that you’re stepping in is enough to be grateful for. If it goes well, I’ll be even more thankful.”

“One thing though. I’m usually not this accommodating.”

“Of course! I know that. If it goes well, I’ll speak to the lord, and if not, I’ll find a way to repay the debt myself.”

Seok Duk-Wol thumped his chest fervently. At his resolute claim, Seok Jin-Ho smirked and got up.

They say if you talk about the tiger, it will come; a familiar presence was approaching from afar.

“Let’s get up. Seems like the people we’ve been waiting for have arrived.”

“Hmm!”

A look of admiration shimmered in Seok Duk-Wol’s eyes. Surprised that Seok Jin-Ho had sensed the two individuals before a peak expert like himself, he felt the reason behind people’s remarks about a genius.

‘I’m a peak expert myself, no less.’

Internally, Seok Duk-Wol sulkingly murmured. It had only been three years since he had reached the peak stage through pure hard work. It had taken a whole decade to break through the barrier from first-class to peak mastery.

Yet Seok Jin-Ho, at the age of seventeen, appeared not far behind in comparison.

‘The difference talent makes. I know too well how significant it is, but it still leaves a bitter taste.’

Seok Duk-Wol rose to follow Seok Jin-Ho outside and immediately spotted two towering figures who stood out even from a distance.

“Good morning, Young Master Seok.”

“Did you sleep well?”

Upon seeing Seok Jin-Ho, Baek Sang-Gun and Paeng Na-Yeon greeted him with radiant smiles, quickening their pace.

Unlike Baek Sang-Gun, whose brows furrowed slightly upon noticing Seok Duk-Wol behind Jin-Ho, Paeng Na-Yeon cheerfully waved at Heuk-Hwi perched on the wall, holding something in her hand – it wasn’t empty.

Now knowing the cat’s preferences, she had prepared a special jerky, playfully waving the elongated strip under Heuk-Hwi’s nose.

‘Meow, meeoow.’

Seeing the delicious smoky fragrance waft around the jerky that swayed teasingly from side to side was enough for Heuk-Hwi’s pupils to follow suit, with its body unconsciously leaning toward the snack.

“Heehee! Want to eat it?”

‘Chomp!’

As Paeng Na-Yeon teasingly yanked the jerky away, Heuk-Hwi couldn’t resist licking its lips—in a dilemma between going or staying, between upholding or abandoning its dignity.

“Come here, and you can have it! Heuk-Hwi, I have pheasant jerky too, just the way you like.”

‘Meow!’

In the end, Heuk-Hwi leaped into Paeng Na-Yeon’s arms, succumbing to temptation.

“Heeheehee!”

Delighting in how the once shy cat now snugly nestled into her arms and nibbled the jerky, Paeng Na-Yeon carried herself like someone who had acquired the world. She joyfully stroked its head and back, content that the feline was now calmly enjoying its treat within her embrace.

‘Sniffle sniffle.’

However, Heuk-Hwi seemed oblivious to her touch, focused solely on devouring the jerky. With the snacks being an exceptional quality, the taste was incomparable to the hunts or treats from So Ha-Jeong or Tak Yun.

The number inside the room increased by two, or rather, by two and a cat. But despite the growing number, silence fell heavier than before.

‘Hmm!’

As the catalyst of the silence, Seok Duk-Wol, couldn’t even meet Baek Sang-Gun’s eyes, sweating profusely. Although a well-respected representative and peak expert in the courier world, he was no match for someone of Mount Bungsan’s Iron Fist caliber, neither in status nor in skill.

“It appears this is connected to yesterday’s events.”

“Have you been told of the circumstances?”

Directing his gaze from Seok Duk-Wol to Baek Sang-Gun who had addressed him, Seok Jin-Ho calmly asked. Baek Sang-Gun nodded slightly in response.

“I’ve heard the general explanation that HeukO Fortress has robbed Seokpung Trade Guild of their trade goods, putting them in a difficult situation.”

“You’ve heard the important parts then.”

“Are you planning to request our involvement?”

Baek Sang-Gun’s eyes met Seok Jin-Ho’s. Given the circumstance, there seemed to be no other reason for this assembly.

“A request.”

Pondering, Seok Jin-Ho let out a soft comment. Reaching inside his robe, he placed an object on the table—the identity plaque Paeng Na-Yeon had given him as a gift not long ago, symbolizing affiliation with the Paeng family of Northern Hebei.

“I have no intention of making a request. I never wanted such a thing in the first place. Helping Lady Paeng was a natural decision in a situation that called for it, not with expectations of any returns.”

Despite his hushed tone, a subtle force behind his words made not only Baek Sang-Gun but also Paeng Na-Yeon, who paused in stroking Heuk-Hwi, stiffen a bit. A vague sense of pressure weighed on them as they faced Seok Jin-Ho.

“So, I’d like to return this.”

“No need to go that far…”

“Not really necessary for me. Others may find it important, but as for me, it’s something I can do without. What’s more, the reason I’m mentioning this identity plaque isn’t to make any requests. I wanted to make it clear.”

“Ah, well!”

Baek Sang-Gun’s face betrayed confusion. Glancing at Paeng Na-Yeon, he recognized her disturbed look as expected.

“I simply wish to make a suggestion to the both of you.”

“A suggestion?”

“If you would join me to confront HeukO Fortress, there would be two benefits. One benefit is satisfying your curiosity, and the other is gaining practical experience.”

Seok Jin-Ho’s gaze glided from Baek Sang-Gun to Paeng Na-Yeon. There was no trace of desperation in his expression; it was as if success or failure made no difference to him. Baek Sang-Gun smiled, amused by the nonchalant proposal.

“Satisfying curiosity? Are you aware of who the leader of HeukO Fortress is?”

“A man called Colossal Force, renowned among the bandits as their leader.”

“And yet you feel confident? You may not know, but it has been nearly ten years since he has been called Colossal Force.”

Chapter 11. I’m a Pricey Man. -02 (End of Volume 1)



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