Chapter 158

Pong-

Moire felt her neck snap backward. Her body was bent like a shrimp as she bounced to the back. She smashed the fireplace and was engulfed by the fire. A distant horrendous scream resounded, as though it was coming from hell. 

Kwang-

San lifted his foot and stomped it hard on the floor. The floor cracked like it was ice, and San’s body rebounded and bounced upwards. The lubricant that was laced with poison was not very effective. At this moment, Gando bent his blade-like hands and attacked. San thrusted the back of his hand, as though he was throwing a jab in boxing, and simply slipped through the attack coming from the right. After that, he grabbed the arm that was coming in from the left and twisted it. San had a weird look on his face. 

Gando’s arm, which was as solid and firm as a sword, suddenly became as soft as rubber. Like a snake, it wrapped itself around San’s arm. Sharp bumps that were akin to needles protruded out of the man’s palm. Almost at the same time, a very small hole opened up and something entered his forearm. It was as though he was giving him an injection. San tilted his head. A faint smile appeared on Gando’s face.

San grabbed Gando by the arm and pulled. His arm stretched like an actual rubber. That was the skill that Gando specialized in, which allowed him to soften and harden his body. He could change the shape of his body and skeleton at will. It was a skill that made Gando the genius of disguise and stealthy attacks. 

San frowned. He grabbed his arm again and pulled it at the maximum speed while he was in the third stage of acceleration. As Gando was unable to keep up with the speed and soften his arm in time, his arm was torn at his shoulder. Gando gave up on one of his arms and hurriedly stepped back. He stopped bleeding, but his face was contorted. It was a speed that would have allowed him to easily escape San’s clutches even at the second stage… The damage was severe. But soon, he was going to die. However… 

“An air bomb? You’ve mastered some messy skills. Won’t you be resentful and bitter if you die of a heart attack in a place like this?” muttered San, who had already shaken off the other men and had escaped to an area close to the ceiling. 

He picked up an arrow from the floor and stabbed it into the forearm under his shoulder. When the arrow was pulled out, a ‘pop’ sound was heard, and trapped air was released together with blood. As San controlled his hand like a puppet, he had a satisfied look on his face. Gando’s torn arm that was in his hand went limp as blood continued dripping from it. 

“Are we left with two people now? I’m guessing you truly want everyone to die, huh? Is that what you really want?” 

Reform — Chapter 5

San, who was perching on the ceiling, looked down. Below him, Gando was looking up at the ceiling, holding his shoulder with a missing arm. The two other awakened warriors looked blankly at each other while they fiddled with their weapons. The four awakened warriors went on the offensive. They were not careless, but ultimately, it left them feeling dejected. In the first fight, one was engulfed by the fire and the other lost an arm. There were only two people left that could fight. On the other hand, their opponent was still unwounded. 

They knew what their opponent was like - a meticulous, bold, and surprisingly strong and flexible man; a man who was cruel enough and never hesitated. Facing a man like that with just the two of them… It seemed like their chances of winning were slim to none. At least there was room for negotiation, judging from what San said to them. 

“What do you want us to do?” said Marquis Hugot, as he groaned while getting up from the floor. 

He had survived because of his protective armor, but due to the blow and nerve gas, he looked very uncomfortable judging from the movements of his body.

“Well, I don’t want to be an enemy of a dirty group like the Black Guild either. It would be very troublesome. All you have to do is to make a few promises. The issue is - who can ensure that those promises would be kept and carried out…?”

“Do you want to meet the guild leader?” 

“Wasn’t that the reason why I came here? You people went back on your word, and that’s why I am very displeased. How can I trust the people who had promised me but proceeded to stab me in the back like this? Is this your guild leader’s idea?”

“....”

“At the very least, your guild leader must have turned a blind eye to it, right? If that’s the case, then isn’t that the end of the story?”

“Are you planning to wage an all-out war with the Black Guild? Do you think that is possible?”

“I am still thinking about it right now. I don’t think there’s any point in destroying it. What do you want me to do? Strike you in the head?”

The marquis swallowed his saliva. 

“We have always had a good relationship with the people in the imperial palace, so why are you doing this?”

“Good relationship? Do you really not know, that’s why you’re asking?”

The look in San’s eyes became colder. The marquis flinched for a moment. 

“As for the job pertaining to the second deputy...we will not do it.”

“No, proceed with it.”

“What…?”

“Because they won’t trust you. You need to take on a reasonable number of jobs in order to eliminate all of them. After digging deeper, I found out that there are a lot of members, including your guild leader, who are distinguished nobles. Am I right?”

“...”

“But to be honest, I don’t have any proof. I need solid evidence. It would be a problem if we work hard to get rid of the insignificant people, but leave the root of the problem behind, right? However…”

San paused for a moment and wiped the blood dripping from his shoulder. 

“Do you...have our name list?” The marquis’ voice was very shaky. 

“Somewhat, yes. Why? Are you doubting what I said? Do you want to check it now?”

“...”

“I will be the happiest if you’re targeting the second deputy. When the time comes, I will wipe out Sa-Myung, Jung-Ha, Young-Mu, and all the other clans under the imperial order. Furthermore, regardless of the imperial order, I will kill all the people in the Black Guild who are involved, and every living thing in their house, including their families. I give you my word.” 

The marquis held his breath. It was as though lightning flashed across San’s eyes. 

“I will convey your message to the guild leader. Can we stop here today?” 

“Well… I don’t want you to be mistaken. Do you believe that you have the power to decide anything? In this place?” San laughed out loud. 

Shortly after, he leaped down onto the floor and landed softly, before approaching the marquis with big strides. He stopped right in front of him, leaving very little space between them. The two awakened warriors got into their combat stance once again, while feeling nervous. 

“If you take out that weapon…I will crush and turn you into dust. Should I just do it?” said San.

The two awakened warriors stood there awkwardly with their legs slightly bent.

“Listen up… This is your last chance.”

San looked into the marquis’ eyes. The marquis took a step back and covered his mouth with 

his hand, holding back his screams.

“I came all the way here in vain today, and after getting stabbed in the back, it makes me so mad. There is no point negotiating with you insignificant people. Just pass on my message. Tell the first, second, and third highest ranked individuals in the Black Guild to personally look for me. I’m only giving you three days.”

“What…”

“If they do not come, I am going to use all the power of the Imperial Intelligence Unit to take you down. The Han-Sung Clan and the Dark Guild will hunt you down too, and after that, the Dark Guild will take over your organization. Don’t even dream of negotiating, because this is a notice. Ah, of course, it would be better if you do something on your own before that. I am looking forward to it.”

“Under...stood. I will pass on your message.” 

The marquis was sweating profusely. 

“I’m leaving. See you in three days.”

***

The Black Guild was thrown into chaos. This was the biggest crisis since the establishment of their organization. They had always had a symbiotic relationship with the people in the palace. A ‘good’ relationship. In a system where inheritance of power was not guaranteed, conflicts and strife among successors became the greatest concern of all the powerful individuals. That was the same for the powerful families and principalities that supported them. 

The things they needed to win were information, combat forces, and money. The palace was a place where strategic and tactical actions were carried out along with intense intelligence warfare every single day. Thus, there was a demand for organizations such as the Black Guild and Dark Guild, which worked behind the scenes. The clients were willing to provide the Black Guild with the information they had. It was the same for the Shadow Guild. In no time, the information they possessed piled up to the extent that most of the people in the important areas within the palace, from maids to high-ranking officials, were entangled in it. 

Hence, nobody had the thought of getting rid of the Black Guild. Anybody who thought about it would have to face death. In that sense, Rain was a very easy target. She herself was capable, but nobody was protecting her. They would try to negotiate with Rain, and if it did not work out, they would take the opportunity to ‘dispose’ of her. There were so many nobles who wanted Rain to die. However, the situation changed subtly when those unexpected people appeared.  They made it known to everyone that they were powerful from the get-go. However, nobody doubted the outcome, they only became more cautious and covert. 

However, the situation had developed in a completely different manner. The two people’s behavior was entirely unpredictable, and everything was happening at a scale and speed that was beyond the imagination of these ‘experts’. They had taken over the Imperial Intelligence Unit in a flash. In an instant, they were now in control of all the information.

Their unrelenting cleanup of the palace had severely dampened the activities of all the powerful people behind the intelligence unit, and they were caught off guard by the chief commander’s sudden preemptive attack yesterday. That was the worst situation they had ever been in. Their opponents were much more cunning.

“We must not give them time!”

The hardliners insisted on waging an all-out war. Regardless of how strong their opponents were, they could still be infiltrated and assassinated. If need be, they would kill the two of them by engaging the help of the Shadow Guild. 

“What should we do?”

“We won’t be able to face the consequences!” The moderates had a different opinion.

Rain was already in power, and nobody knew what the future had in store for her. Nobody dared to antagonize the emperor. If Rain became the next secretary general, things would be difficult and troublesome for them. In order to survive, they needed to strive for co-existence. The opinions were strongly divided. 

However, as an experienced intelligence organization, they looked at all the possible situations and analyzed them repeatedly. The majority of the people leaned towards the moderates’ opinion. As expected, the chief commander and the chief of staff were their biggest challenges. 

“The woman is as strong as the man. Both of them are monsters who can use the sound manipulation technique.”

“Ultimately, it’s impossible to approach them stealthily.”

“What about a remote weapon?”

“It’ll be difficult as well.”

“Why?”

“He displayed the ability to evade even the bullets that were shot point-blank.”

“Damn it…”

The guild leader closed her eyes. She looked very annoyed. With a robust body, the intelligent woman looked like she was still in her early 30s. However, she was actually in her 50s. She was from the Sa-Myung Clan. She was trained by the Dong-Myung Clan and was now a third-level awakened warrior, after awakening in her 40s. 

She was unmarried and her power and authority came from the Sa-Myung Clan. However, her identity as the guild leader of the Black Guild was a secret that was only known to a few people within the Sa-Myung Clan.

“What is the likelihood of Rain getting dismissed?” 

“She has the support of the emperor and the Han-Sung Clan. It’s not the right time to attempt political maneuvering.”

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