The warrior’s Rebirth Chapter 29

Chapter 13: I Still Don’t Like It – 01

Having concluded the matter of the Black Crow Bandits, Seok Jin-ho returned to his normal life. His task was complete with the capture of the Mighty Arm Duke and the Black Masked Man.

The aftermath was managed by Seokpung Merchants’ Association, so Seok Jin-ho returned to his house without any lingering regrets.

Yawning, the heat of the sun now felt warm, and the Black Whirl lay half in the shade and half in the sunlight, a perfect spot to lie down and relax.

That was Seok Jin-ho’s usual leisurely self.

“Take this.”

Having finished most of the cleanup, Seok Deok-wol, looking quite different from a few days ago, sought out Seok Jin-ho. But Seok Jin-ho squinted at him, presenting an envelope.

“What’s this?”

“The bounty. The one that was on the Mighty Arm Duke’s head.”

“Ah.”

“It was too heavy to bring in cash, so I brought it in promissory notes. The amount is quite substantial, just like his notoriety.”

“Ho.”

Seok Jin-ho wasn’t materialistic, but he wasn’t ignorant of the usefulness of money. As the saying goes, having more can’t be a bad thing; if anything, lack of it caused many issues.

“Including not just the Black Crow Bandit Chief, but also those you caught. They are small fry, so the bounty isn’t huge, but it’s better than nothing.”

“Did you find out anything about that man?”

“The Black Masked Man kept silent, but the Black Crow Bandit Chief had gathered some evidence separately. Contrary to his appearance, he’s a cunning one. Evidence is piling up, so we should have results soon.”

“The Baekma Merchants’ Association?”

Seok Jin-ho inquired while sipping his tea. He wasn’t overly interested, but was somewhat curious. He knew too well the feelings of inferiority and unworthiness a second in command had towards the leader, and this was not just a personal issue; if not addressed now, it could spiral into a larger problem.

“It seems like they had a hand in assisting behind the scenes, but it’s hard to uncover to that extent. Confrontations like this are common in this industry. Erasing them completely will be tough.”

Seok Deok-wol frowned with frustration. He would love to smash everything right away, but reality was far more challenging. Going for a mutual destruction could spoil everything, so they’d likely have to settle things at an appropriate level.

“If the first and second are busy fighting, the third and the rest get to benefit.”

“That too. But, Jin-ho.”

“Yes.”

“How did you become so strong?”

Seok Deok-wol’s voice was filled with envy, but there was no hint of jealousy or ill will. Rather, he seemed to take pride in how well Seok Jin-ho had done.

“Talent, effort, and luck—a trinity of those made it possible.”

“I’m missing two of those.”

“Life is unpredictable. You only know at the end.”

“That’s some wisdom from a mere seventeen-year-old.”

Seok Deok-wol chuckled. The words belied their age, Seok Jin-ho’s mature talk amused Seok Deok-wol.

“It’s said in books.”

“I know. But life doesn’t always go as planned.”

“Right. If my powers had erupted sooner, I wouldn’t be in this shape.”

“It’s still not too late. You know our manor is in an uproar because of you?”

“I’ve heard about it. We have a chatterbox among us.”

Seok Jin-ho shrugged as he replied. At his words, Seok Deok-wol also laughed. It was clear he knew exactly who Seok Jin-ho meant—the supposed networking man who Seok Jin-ho viewed as just someone who enjoyed wandering around.

“Good natured, yes.”

“Too talkative. Needless to say.”

“I agree. But he’s not vile or despicable. He’s kindhearted.”

“That’s why I took him in.”

This time, Seok Jin-ho also admitted freely. The boy talked a lot, but at heart, he was kind. With quick wits, unlike Takyoon, he grasped and handled what Seok Jin-ho needed quickly and accurately, which did make it convenient to keep him around.

“That might need more observation. But are you really leaving?”

“Yes. There’s no place for me here.”

“It seems the situation has changed a lot. Do you need to leave?”

“Are you testing me?”

Seok Jin-ho counter-asked as if seeing through Seok Deok-wol’s intentions. Seok Deok-wol then gave a small cough. Clearly, Seok Jin-ho’s perceptiveness was as sharp as his martial skills.

“Those aren’t my words. The Merchants’ Association leader told me to ask you directly: what about joining us? A title of Carrier Chief is tough right away, but first-class agent is doable right now. You’d gain experience for three or four years, then move up. In our association, the Seok family lineage is valuable. There’s no distinction between direct and collateral; only skill matters.”

“But the position of association leader is tough, isn’t it? The Seokpung Merchants’ Association only appoints a leader from the Seok main family.”

“Well, I think you could manage if it were you.”

Seok Deok-wol spoke with sincerity. Even now, the mighty Seok Jin-ho was the one who had defeated the Mighty Arm Duke, a supreme martial artist. If he gained some experience, he could certainly become the head of the Seokpung Merchants’ Association. Moreover, Seok Jin-ho, though a branch family member, was of the same generation as the Seok family head, which was qualification enough.

“Thank you for the offer, but I apologize. My ambitions do not lie in the Merchants’ Association.”

“Hmm! Not interested, or just not enough?”

“Not lacking, but no ambition for it.”

“What will you do after leaving?”

“I’m planning to prepare slowly. I’ll think about it more too. No need to rush, right?”

Seok Jin-ho spoke with a relaxed tone, reaching for the teapot. It was time to refill Seok Deok-wol’s teacup, which had emptied at some point.

“True. At your age, there’s no need to hurry. And life doesn’t always go as planned anyway.”

“I’m also planning to study the forbidden books and gain various experiences.”

“Travel is good. Touring Zhongyuan can be enriching, which is one reason why I agreed with the leader. A courier’s strength and flaw is being able to travel all over Zhongyuan.”

“If you don’t have the itch for travel, it’ll be difficult. But you should also get going soon, right? Perhaps it’s time for marriage.”

“Cough!”

Seok Deok-wol coughed violently as if something went down the wrong pipe. The unexpected topic had taken him by surprise.

“Isn’t it about time you started a family? They say forty is the year of no regrets; it’s a good time to focus on family.”

“Haha! Hahaha!”

“Even the representative of Seokpung, the best merchant’s association, must have matchmaking offers.”

“Stop teasing.”

Seok Deok-wol forced a laugh. Somehow, he felt schooled by the much younger Seok Jin-ho, but it wasn’t an unpleasant sensation.

“I’m being serious.”

“Then let me ask you one. What do you think of Lady Peng?”

“Like the saying goes, ‘Don’t even look up to a tree you can’t climb.’”

“There’s no need to think that way necessarily. In the end, ability matters to a man.”

Seok Jin-ho shrugged.

Truth be told, contrary to what others were buzzing about, Seok Jin-ho hadn’t thought deeply about Peng Na-yeon.

Their destinies had simply intersected by chance.

Things like dating or having a lover were outside of his interests.

“I think I’m still lacking.”

“You? Don’t you think that way? Or you’d underestimate my and the association leader’s judgment. We don’t just recruit anyone. We’re thorough in our selection process.”

“Then, I’m unqualified.”

Seok Deok-wol couldn’t help but laugh. He hadn’t expected such a straightforward rejection. But he wasn’t ready to give up.

“Even occasionally, like this, couldn’t you lend us a hand? We’re ready to pay a sufficient reward for it.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Don’t you respond too casually without thinking?”

“I do have things I’m working on, you know. In fact, I’m quite busy now.”

“Ugh!”

Seok Deok-wol grunted in frustration, realizing there was nothing he could do. Since he was the one seeking a favor, he had no choice but to accept Seok Jin-ho’s terms.

“I do carry quite a hefty price tag, after all.”

“Right, you’re great.”

“I plan to become even greater.”

“Even though I got turned down, honestly, it feels good. It seems like you’re doing well.”

Seok Deok-wol smiled genuinely. Although he hadn’t completed his mission, he could still smile. Seok Jin-ho had spectacularly bounced back after being abandoned and neglected, and Seok Deok-wol felt proud as he patted him on the shoulder.

“It’s thanks to you, uncle. Not all of it, but a fair share.”

“Not a word of concession.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Don’t forget me when you succeed later, okay?”

To the joking Seok Deok-wol, Seok Jin-ho grinned a mischievous smile back.

“Let’s see when the time comes.”

“What’s that?”

“Don’t worry. I don’t forget favors. And don’t forget the debt you owe me this time.”

“Of course. We don’t forget favors either. So, you don’t need to worry.”

After finishing their business discussion, the two continued a friendly conversation, sharing lots of topics, partly due to the incident with the Black Crow Bandits.

In the spacious room filled with various items and furniture, a giant of a man scowled while reading a letter.

It was obviously some displeasing news.

As he read, the total manager who brought the document swallowed his saliva and stood respectfully to the side.

“Tell me about the matter concerning Seok Clan’s first son.”

“His name is Seok Jin-ryong, twenty-five years old. He’s not the primary heir, but he’s contending for succession with his younger siblings. He’s not without talent, but he’s a bit prejudiced. It’s estimated that he will reasonably carry on the Seok Clan’s business if he becomes the heir.”

“In other words, he doesn’t outshine the second or third child.”

“While their fields are different, both are said to be as talented as the first son. However, since the third child is a girl, her support base is inherently weaker. So, the current situation seems to be a rivalry between the first and second sons.”

The response flowed like mountain water, and Peng Jin-geuk of the Northern Peng family flashed his tiger-like eyes. Just hearing about it, he knew this Seok Jin-ryong was nothing extraordinary.

Moreover, coming from a commercial family instead of a martial one, he was even less appealing to Peng Jin-geuk.

“His martial arts?”

“It’s believed he hasn’t trained in martial arts.”

“Not at all?”

“Yes.”

The manager answered with certainty. It was a verified fact, and there was no hesitation.

“Huh! That punk dared to ask for my daughter’s hand.”

Peng Jin-geuk looked incredulous. Of course, he knew the stature of the Seok Clan to some extent. They wielded absolute influence in Zhongyuan’s commercial realms. But that didn’t mean he approved of Seok Jin-ryong.

“Engaging in succession disputes, and he sends a marriage proposal? To my Na-yeon?”

He tapped on the desk loudly, his fingers as thick as pot lids.

Even the sound indicated his anger.

“Even if the Six Dragons sent a proposal, it would be touch and go, but such a lowly man dares to want my Na-yeon?”

Rumble!

From the seated Peng Jin-geuk, a terrifying surge of energy exploded.

Unable to manage his rage, he became impassioned.

“S-Sect Master.”

“Phew! I got too worked up. Sorry about that.”

“No, I would have felt the same, Sect Master.”

“Hmm, right? Considering who my Na-yeon is.”

Peng Jin-geuk wore a foolish smile as if he had never been agitated. The mere thought of his daughter had improved his mood. But then he remembered Seok Jin-ryong and exuded a fearsome gleam in his eyes.

End of Chapter 13: I Still Don’t Like It – 01



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