Chapter 45 – A Gambler's Wrist
The men in the front advance, the men in the middle, make way to the side, and the men in the back crack their necks and prepare hidden weapons.
I differentiate these guys as I would weapons.
I do not fight with people but classify and respond accordingly to the incoming Three Spike Swords, Straight Swords, Long Swords, and Judge’s Pen flying to kill me.
I have no choice but to wield my sword and step back naturally.
Long harpoons, dagger-axes, and spiked bats rush to me as they cut through the wind, and the hidden weapons that fail to clash into my body are stuck to the ground and walls.
I am cornered towards the hall door, then I hit the door with my back foot and retreat outside.
Thinking the air outside is fresh, I take a deep breath.
In the main hall, the foul smell from the greedy old men and Dokgo Saeng is mixing, making breathing unpleasant.
I look around with a sword in my hand.
The strange civilians of the fortress are starting to crowd, but they don’t look all too excited.
‘It’s been a while since a fight broke out.’
Should I say everyone has that kind of expression?
However, when the Black Hurricane Castle’s executives appear holding weapons together, only then did everyone’s eyes grow wide.
The officials instantly surround me in a square formation.
The Black Hurricane Castle Leader says as he walks out.
“My officials, he’s a master, so don’t let your guard down.
Don’t rush in, chiefs.
Those who die or are injured will end here now.”
I look at the hands of the officials holding their weapons.
Most of them have missing fingers.
Suddenly, I remember what my grandfather sometimes murmured.
‘A gambler’s wrists should be cut off.’
He didn’t explain why it needed to be cut or what led him to say this.
He would seldom bring it up when gambling was mentioned in the guest inn.
Suddenly, my grandfather’s words linger in my ears.
As the fight continues, I deal with it using the mentality of the Fighting Chicken.
Stab when an opening is visible.
Ignore the bait when it is an obvious trick.
Direct attacks are warded off, and irregular attacks are dealt with selectively.
The officials’ offensive attacks also grow more and more intense.
All of a sudden, powder scatters in front of my face.
The number of hidden weapons also increases.
Screams are growing louder and longer too.
Hidden weapons that didn’t hit me fly past and strike a bystander in the throat.
As soon as one guy is covered in the powder, he screams and runs off somewhere.
I intentionally shift my body often to evaluate the condition from all sides.
As I firmly block 20 people’s worth of ferocious attacks, the officials’ eyes start to grow anxious.
As soon as I sense a change in their mental state, I reduce my defensive plays and switch to offense.
As soon as I switch to offense, I open my mouth like a reflex.
“The gamblers’ wrists should be cut off.”
I move lighter and faster than when I played defense.
I then grab the middle of a harpoon surging past me with my left hand and swing my sword to cut off the official’s wrist.
I can’t afford to watch the expression of pain on the guy’s face.
While avoiding the long swords and spiked bats, I see a guy extending his Three Spike Sword using Finger Wind with my eyes.
As soon as his head tilts back, I quickly cut off the wrist of his hand holding the Three Spike Sword and shift again.
A Judge’s Pen draws a 乙 stroke, and the other brush draws one dot (一點) and pushes it toward me.
The 乙 stroke indicates trickery, and one dot is a lethal move.
I spring upwards, escaping from the trajectory of the trick and deadly tactics’ trajectory, and jab his pressure points from an upside-down position.
The man with two Judge’s Pens stiffens and involuntarily protects my back for a while.
A short moment later, hidden weapons that look like hooks fly through the hair.
It is a hidden weapon that spreads on the ground and can stab through my feet even if I avoid it.
I grab the stiffened man by his nape, turn him around, and hold him forward like a shield.
Babababababak – the sound of hooks as it pierces flesh, though others fall off and rolls on the floor.
In the meantime, a weapon falls from behind to my shoulder.
I squeeze the sword I am holding in my right hand between my left armpit and fire off a blast of energy.
With a wet sound, a man rushing in with a sword has his neck butchered by the sword’s energy.
Once again, I look around to grasp the situation.
Five or six people have been killed or injured while the Black Hurricane Castle Leader stays still like the king on the Korean chess board, and the rest of the people continue to spectate.
When will the king start to move?
I have no idea.
Maybe he is just waiting until the end to maintain his demeanor as king.
I shake the blood off my sword and look at the man standing behind me.
He tries to stop blood from flowing from his neck with his hand after dropping his weapon.
I kick him in the stomach to stop any incoming hidden weapons, then spin back and shoot out a long sword energy.
Three men who are approaching with harpoons block the attack and fall back at the same time.
Gradually, the officials lose stamina and can’t fend off the sword energy properly as they start running out of internal Qi.
Beyond that, I briefly make eye contact with Dokgo Saeng, who has his arms crossed.
In the meantime, Dokgo Saeng turns his eyes toward the Black Hurricane Castle Leader, who still stands in place.
Even though his officials are dying, the Black Hurricane Castle Leader doesn’t give any orders to the other chiefs.
‘Is he going to kill me after we’re done fighting?’
I predict the Black Hurricane Castle Leader’s thoughts and cut off the wrists of the rest of the officials without much difficulty.
When 20 people come at me all at once, I focus on defense, and when half of them are seriously injured or dead, the tables turn.
I usually chase after them, clashing swords once or twice before cutting off their wrists.
After decapitating the remaining officials’ wrists, I look at Black Hurricane Castle Leader.
The painful moans and cries of the elders of the Black Hurricane Castle blend in the air.
The Black Hurricane Castle Leader, watching his officials being defeated, finally speaks.
I don’t know if he is saying that to the officials or me.
But as soon as I see the expression of the Black Hurricane Castle Leader, I realize he is referring to everyone.
The Black Hurricane Castle Leader, who holds a podao in both hands, runs toward me and shoots a Wu-shaped (乄) Blade Wind.
After offsetting the surging Blade Wind with my own Blade Wind, I then avert the leader’s podao that is hurling a blast of wind.
The attack is ferocious and vigorous enough to make me disregard the officials as punching bags.
As I deflect the podao, I think.
This geezer must have been as much of a scumbag as Dokgo Saeng when he was younger.
As I use the sword more than 20 times, the blade of Dokgo Saeng’s sword that I am wielding gradually becomes duller.
In terms of lifespan, it is more decrepit than the Black Hurricane Castle Leader.
Unlike its rugged appearance, the Black Hurricane Castle Leader’s podao is as solid as a young man’s muscle.
In the end, my blunt sword finally breaks first during the fight.
At that moment, I push off the ground with my right foot in the air and slide back.
Black Hurricane Castle Leader then warns his surroundings.
“The one who gives Lee Zaha another weapon…”
I stretch my hands to my sides and use The Great Absorption Technique.
Two weapons are sucked into my hands with the whooshing sound of a small whirlwind.
A spiked bat in my right hand.
A Judge’s Pen is in my left.
I shake my head slightly.
‘This is a bit…’
I should’ve pulled only after seeing what was there.
I’ve never heard of a Kangho warrior who wields both a spiked bat and a Judge’s Pen simultaneously.
Not classy, not cool, and I’m just repeating mistakes, shit.
Without giving me a chance to change my weapons, the Black Hurricane Castle Leader rushes back in again.
Even with plenty of experience, I am growing anxious without having previously fought using a spiked bat and a Judge’s Pen.
The opponent is a veteran of Kangho in his sixties.
Ordinary people who live that long will suffer from joint pain, chronic disease, ouch my back, farsightedness, energy loss, etc., but a warrior of Kangho in his 60s, who spent his life in Kangho, has accumulated internal Qi to offset old age’s suffering and pain.
Sparks fly every time the spiked bat and podao collide.
The judge’s pen that stretches out like a kitchen knife also blocks the podao every time.
In a word, the Black Hurricane Castle Leader is skilled.
It is as if Dokgo Saeng had trained in blade techniques for 40 years.
He is incredibly good at wielding the double sword, and his footwork is natural.
His attack and defense are in good balance.
Not a single childish cheap trick is used.
He is wielding his sword ever so dauntlessly without losing dignity.
Whether this guy is crazy or not, he is the king of the Black Hurricane Castle.
Yet, panic flashes on the Black Hurricane Castle Leader’s face when I use various techniques that I did not show when fighting the officials.
I reduce my jumbled thoughts as I engage in an intense fight with him.
As I focus all my attention on the fight, unnecessary sounds around me fade out.
I can clearly hear the footsteps of the Black Hurricane Castle Leader, the flutter of his robes, the clinks of his weapon, and the sound of our breaths.
As soon as I hear his breath, I remember the daylilies that Dokgo Saeng smoked and notice that he suffers from lung disease.
Phlegm has risen to his throat during the fight.
After exchanging three or four clashes leisurely, I step back deliberately.
At that moment, the Black Hurricane Castle Leader spits habitually.
Before the yellow sputum can reach the ground, I throw the Judge’s Pen.
When I hear the clashing of podao and Judge’s Pen…
I jump into the air and narrow the distance.
I then inject internal Qi into the spiked bat and slash viciously.
Realizing my attack is unusual, the Black Hurricane Castle Leader counters the falling spiked bat with his podao.
An explosive sound rings out…
I pull the nearby Judge’s Pen back using The Great Absorption Technique, and when it comes close, I turn my wrist and push it with a palm technique.
The direction has changed, and the palm force makes its speed greater.
Where did the Judge’s Pen hit?
After I swing the spiked bat again, I confirm that the Judge’s Pen is now lodged in the chest of the Black Hurricane Castle Leader.
I strike the spiked bat vertically as I press the Black Hurricane Castle Leader, causing him to step back.
I keep his hands and feet busy, so he can’t pull out the Judge’s Pen stuck in his chest.
After averting my attack three times, he eventually lets go of both podao and falls on his butt.
His blood and energy seem tangled from trying to gather Qi after being injured.
Then, blood spurts from Black Hurricane Castle Leader’s mouth.
Holding my spiked bat on my back, I approach and look down at the leader.
“Leader, can’t you get up?”
Black Hurricane Castle Leader nods with a tired look and orders.
How long has he played at being king for him to order me in this state?
“I am not your slave.
Watch your tone.”
Yet, the person who points out the tone of speech of a dying man is me.
The Black Hurricane Castle Leader smiles as he reveals his bloody teeth.
“If you let my men heal me, I’ll appoint you as the next leader.
You have nothing to lose.
And you’ll soon have everything in the Black Hurricane Castle.”
I can’t hear him well because his voice is small, but that is roughly what he meant.
I do not accept his offer.
“No thanks? They’re all imbeciles.
Imbeciles that can’t move forward without me giving orders.
Is this the perspective of the person who auctions slaves? The Black Hurricane Castle Leader is dying, so I ask for his will.
“Leader, say something before you die.”
The Black Hurricane Castle Leader barely raises his head and leaves this message to the people of the Black Hurricane Castle.
“You imbeciles, you’ve done well.”
As he laughs, a peculiar laugh that sounds like the screeching of metal, I smash the leader’s brains with the bat.
“He sure spews nonsense until the end.”
I smack the same place again on behalf of the slaves sold for money.
Thinking about these imbeciles who waste money on gambling by stealing daily expenses, debt money, family money, friends’ money, and the money of a granny next door to her in-laws, I swing the bat again.
Still, thinking about how he’d spent his days eating delicious food, sleeping comfortably at night, and being cooped up cozily has me swinging the bat over and over again.
Blood and pieces of flesh splatter on my face.
Since he’s dead, I think hitting the spiked bat once more won’t deepen my sins, so I hit him again with anger.
This time, the sound of the spiked bat crashing into the ground is even louder.
I look around the Black Hurricane Castle with a bloody face.
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