Heavenly Inquisition Sword (Novel) Chapter 18

Chapter 18: We Only Need to Know Who the Leader Is

Early March.

Namyang County.

Central Headquarters of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce.

Sitting across from each other with cups of ochre-colored tea, Im Wonyeong, the Bangju (leader) of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce, and Jeon Jiwon, the Daehengsu (manager), looked at each other.

It was unclear how much time had passed, but both of their tea cups had grown cold.

Suddenly, Im Wonyeong turned his gaze towards the window.

"Hehe. It seems winter is already gone. It's time to finish the matters we've been postponing. What do you think, Daehengsu?"

Jeon Jiwon, after a moment of silence, nodded reluctantly.

"If that is the will of the Bangju, so be it."

"You don't look very convinced."

"I'm a bit concerned about the reputation of the bandits of Five Peaks Mountain."

"It's just an illusion created by the greed of the Heaven Destroyer Demon Lord. Didn't he forcibly increase the number of Nokrim bases from 36 to more than double? How long do you think the bandits of Five Peaks Mountain can hold out in Nokrim?"

The Heaven Destroyer Demon Lord, leader of Nokrim, was not content with just 36 bases and expanded the territory. This caused new bandits to appear in mountains and rivers, creating turmoil. But what is hastily built tends to collapse quickly. Im Wonyeong believed that the lifespan of Five Peaks Mountain wouldn't last long.

"That's true, but there are seven chambers of commerce, besides us, that have been defeated by Five Peaks Mountain, including Mansu, Tapha, and Hwayang. With that number, it's not mere luck."

"Who said it was luck? But you're forgetting something important. So far, no chamber of commerce has gone to attack Five Peaks Mountain. They were all caught while conducting their usual business. So, even though they've won several times, it doesn't hold much significance. It doesn't show the true strength of the chambers of commerce. Isn't that right?"

"Yes, that's true."

Jeon Jiwon nodded reluctantly.

"We're not official rank merchants or military merchants, but common merchants. What has allowed us to grow so much is that we don't give up easily. Are we going to let some small-time bandits charge us a toll without doing anything? That can't be."

"Bangju, what if we ally with other chambers of commerce that pass through Five Peaks Mountain?"

"Haha! We have our pride. Are we going to ally with others to face some small-time thieves? What will others think of us?"

For the confident Im Wonyeong, that was unthinkable.

Jeon Jiwon also thought it wasn't the best idea, so he didn't respond.

According to what is known, Five Peaks Mountain is an organization formed by minor bandits from Bohyeon. Although the Immortal Sword Demon and the Phantom Fist recently joined, compared to other Nokrim bases, they were still relatively weak.

In reality, the strength of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce is greater than that of three or four combined military units. Their warriors number more than a hundred. Saying they can't handle the bandits of Five Peaks Mountain is absurd.

"You're too cautious. Have a little more faith in our Namyang Chamber of Commerce."

"Understood. By the way, Cheongungwan has shown interest in joining this expedition. What do we do about them?"

Im Wonyeong stroked his beard for a moment.

Cheongungwan is a famous martial arts school in Luoyang, which produced the leader of Pungundae, Wang Ingeol. Since his disciple suffered humiliation at Five Peaks Mountain, they probably want revenge.

"How many will come?"

"A martial arts master and ten experts."

"Tell them to come. Technically, they're not outsiders. There will be no problem if it's known later."

"Understood."

When the conversation ended, Im Wonyeong and Jeon Jiwon drank their cold tea in one gulp.

----------------

Mid-March.

Central Headquarters of the Mansu Chamber of Commerce in Suju County.

The Bangju, Gwak Jayi, and the Daehengsu, Gwak Wonho, were sitting together with serious expressions.

The Daehengsu Gwak Wonho, with a tense face, spoke.

"Bangju, the Namyang Chamber of Commerce has finally taken the initiative. They will go out to attack Five Peaks Mountain."

The Bangju Gwak Jayi remained silent, stroking his eight-shaped mustache, a habit he had when deep in thought. The Daehengsu Gwak Wonho, who was watching him, continued speaking cautiously.

"The Great Daeju (Great Leader) of Namyang, the Sky Shaker Swordsman, Lee Muryang, will personally move."

"Lee Muryang?"

Gwak Jayi's eyes sparkled with interest.

The Sky Shaker Swordsman Lee Muryang is an expert symbol of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce. This indicated that the Namyang Chamber of Commerce was taking the expedition against Five Peaks Mountain very seriously.

"They plan to mobilize 70% of their force."

"Wow! That means they will deploy everyone except those in business."

"That's right. Additionally, eleven experts from Cheongungwan in Luoyang will join."

"Probably to restore the reputation of the leader of Pungundae, Wang Ingeol."

"It could also be to counter Hong Bang, since the leader of Gyeongcheondae, So Gunpyeong, is from there. The rivalry between Cheongungwan and Hong Bang is well known in Namyang."

"If the Namyang Chamber of Commerce is so involved, it won't reach our turn."

"But it's not certain."

"Huh? What do you mean by that?"

"A merchant who passed through Haga Village heard a curious rumor."

"A rumor?"

"It's said that the Immortal Sword Demon and the Phantom Fist have been displaced in the hierarchy."

"Wow! Is there someone stronger than the Immortal Sword Demon and the Phantom Fist in Five Peaks Mountain?"

The Immortal Sword Demon and the Phantom Fist are well-known martial demons in Henan Province. Especially, the name of the Immortal Sword Demon is so feared that it silences crying children. That there is someone stronger than them in Five Peaks Mountain is not a good sign.

"It's said they were defeated by a young expert. The rumor comes from a tavern, so its veracity is low."

"A young expert? Isn't he the one who cut the sword of the leader of Baekrangdae?"

"It seems to be him."

"Hmm."

A sigh escaped from Gwak Jayi's lips.

The Sky Shaker Swordsman Lee Muryang is a well-known expert in Henan Province, just like the Immortal Sword Demon and the Phantom Fist. Although it can't be known who is better without facing each other, most believe in the superiority of Lee Muryang. That's why the Namyang Chamber of Commerce has bet on him.

But if there is someone in Five Peaks Mountain stronger than the Immortal Sword Demon and the Phantom Fist...

The situation becomes much more complicated.

This means that Lee Muryang could be defeated, which in turn means...

"Is it possible that the expedition of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce ends in failure...?"

While Gwak Jayi was deep in thought, Gwak Wonho's voice reached his ears.

"Bangju, should we prepare as well?"

Gwak Jayi looked at Gwak Wonho with a curious expression.

"What do you think would happen if Lee Muryang and our Great Daeju faced each other?"

The Great Daeju of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce, the Sky Shaker Swordsman, Lee Muryang, is a disciple of the Mount Hua Sect, while the Great Daeju of the Mansu Chamber of Commerce, the Roaring Wind Swordsman, Sang Mucheon, is a disciple of the Wudang Sect.

It is said that they are evenly matched in skills.

Gwak Wonho thought about the intention behind the Bangju's question.

It seemed to be an indirect question about whether the young and still unknown master of Five Peaks Mountain could defeat their Great Daeju.

A bitter smile appeared on Gwak Wonho's face.

It is known that the skill levels of the Great Daejus, Lee Muryang and Sang Mucheon, are similar. That means if Lee Muryang fails, Sang Mucheon wouldn't have much hope either.

"The skills of both Great Daejus are so similar that it would be difficult to determine a winner."

"Right? So, what do you think we should prepare?"

Gwak Wonho pondered for a moment.

If Sang Mucheon isn't enough, they would have to seek external help.

"What if we ask our Great Daeju to invite his master, the Sage of Heaven and Earth?"

"Hmm. The Sage of Heaven and Earth is an Elder of the Wudang Sect; it won't be easy to move him."

Although Sang Mucheon is a disciple of the Sage of Heaven and Earth, he is only a secular disciple. Honestly, it is rare for an Elder of the monastery to descend from the mountain for a secular disciple.

"What if we send a donation to the Leader of the Wudang Sect and ask for his help? Since the Wudang Sect is also a member of the Righteous Alliance, they might come for the sake of the cause."

"That sounds good. Would 500 taels of silver be enough?"

"Sure. With that amount, the master would probably help us."

"Wow! Even so, it is the Leader of the Wudang Sect."

"There is nothing that money can't buy, right? They even say he can control ghosts."

Gwak Jayi, smiling slightly, said:

"First, send some people to Haga Village. We need to quickly know the result of the expedition."

"Yes."

"And gather our Great Daeju to inform him of our plans, making sure not to hurt his feelings."

"Understood. I will meet with him for a drink tonight."

The conversation between the two ended.

How much time passed?

Gwak Jayi, who had been gently tapping the table with his fingers, murmured:

"I hope the expedition of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce is successful."

"Ah! I also hope we can achieve this without lifting a finger."

Gwak Jayi looked at Gwak Wonho with a complex expression.

Both thought the same thing.

It wasn't that they regretted the 500 taels of silver, but facing Nokrim made them uncomfortable.

-------------------

From Namyang County to Bohyeon County, it's a two-day walk.

The massive movement of the warriors of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce, armed with swords, was known in Bohyeon before noon.

The Namyang Chamber of Commerce is going to attack Five Peaks Mountain!

The rumor, which shocked Bohyeon, soon reached Haga Village.

Some Haga thugs, who were friends with the bandits, immediately took the news to Five Peaks Mountain.

Surprised, Pung Yeoncho quickly summoned the bandits who were resting in the yard.

"The Namyang Chamber of Commerce is coming to attack us. What do we do?"

With little experience in the world of Murim, Pung Yeoncho looked at Shim Yanggak and Baek Kyo.

However, Shim Yanggak and Baek Kyo, with their pride as martial demons, didn't step forward.

Although not as well-known as them, Hwang Yomyeong, who had made a name for himself in the province, cautiously asked:

"How many are the men of the Namyang Chamber of Commerce?"

As he spoke, he constantly sought the gaze of Yeon Jeokha.

"It's said there are around eighty or ninety."

"Wow!"

Hwang Yomyeong was left speechless at the number of eighty or ninety.

Five Peaks Mountain, which had grown a bit in a month, had around thirty men. But that was still insufficient compared to eighty or ninety.

The atmosphere turned gloomy.

At that moment, Shim Yanggak kicked Hwang Yomyeong's shin, who was paralyzed with fear.

"Idiot! Why are you so scared? In Murim, the number of bastards doesn't matter. We only need to know who the leader is."

He wasn't just saying this to Hwang Yomyeong but also to Pung Yeoncho.

Pung Yeoncho quickly responded:

"Their leader is the Great Daeju, the Sky Shaker Swordsman, Lee Muryang."

Knowing Lee Muryang to some extent, Shim Yanggak immediately sneered.

"Ha! Lee Muryang is seeking his grave."

Pung Yeoncho's pale face brightened.

"Old Shim, do you have a good idea?"

Knowing his limitations, Pung Yeoncho humbly requested Shim Yanggak.

However, the proud Shim Yanggak pretended not to hear and turned his gaze away. He didn't want to follow the orders of an amateur like Pung Yeoncho.

Yeon Jeokha's gaze turned severe as he watched from behind.

Surprised, Hwang Yomyeong quickly intervened.

"Yes, Brother Shim, but eighty or ninety men are coming. What do we do?"

Finally, Shim Yanggak, pretending he couldn't avoid it, began to speak.

"Twenty years ago, four Chambers of Commerce joined forces to attack Daebyeol Mountain. At that time, the leader of Daebyeol closed the gates and resisted."

"Oh! What happened then?"

Hwang Yomyeong asked an appropriate question.

"After three days, when the vigilance of the Chambers of Commerce relaxed, the leader of Daebyeol opened the gates with a bang. When the leaders of the Chambers of Commerce came out to control the situation, he killed two of them. Curiously, the fight ended there. The other two fled, pressured by the force, and the warriors of the Chambers of Commerce also retreated."

The faces of the bandits brightened at the last phrase, "the warriors of the Chambers of Commerce also retreated." They finally understood what Shim Yanggak was saying. Indeed, in a war between countries, the battle ends when the commander dies. Wouldn't it be the same in a fight between organizations?

In short, they only had to attack the leader.

The faces of the bandits, who had been discouraged by the overwhelming numbers, finally regained their vitality.

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