Chapter 163

Spring was an unforgiving season. 

The famished masses of people would gather into armies. 

They would sharpen their knives, ride their horses, hold their spears up high, take the lives of their fellow neighbors and even siblings, and obtain the things they need to survive. 

There wouldn’t be anyone left to maintain your wonderful flowerbed garden.

Everyone at the table stopped moving and held their breath. San lowered his voice and continued as if whispering.

Spring is also the coldest season.

There’s no longer any firewood to heat one’s hearth.

One would be curled up in one’s room, trying to brave through the cold.

One would constantly have to lift one’s weary, cold body.

Even if the topsoil of the ground was somewhat warm, the soil underneath would be completely frozen.

The skin on one’s palms would be rubbed off, one’s hand would be scabbed and full of blisters, and one’s blood would flow out from the various cuts and bruises one would collect throughout the day.

Poets and romanticists who wax poetic wouldn’t know of these struggles.

Gulp- Someone audibly gulped. The beat became faster.

The spring might be when one sow things.

In the dead of evening, where the only light would be from a fire, some would have to sell their children, others would bury their parents, and still, others would have to send off their loved one.

Regardless, one tries everything to stay alive.

Even if ten things are harvested and nine are lost, when nine is always taken away from any set of ten…

One still needs to sow seeds.

It doesn’t matter if one wants to or not.

San’s finger beat even faster as he was about to conclude his poem.

Still, there are those who sing about the spring.

About the hope and creation of new life.

They move forward; they progress.

Even today, there’s someone who is eagerly waiting for one’s loved one, awaiting the warmth of summer, looking forward to the abundance of fall…

These people look forward to the next spring, as spring connects easily to the following spring.

That’s why I do not fault the spring.

I, too, want to approach the spring as they do.

San stopped tapping on the table. His poetic song had stopped. The quiet participants around the table looked at San’s fingertips with unfocused eyes. There were some with their mouths open… Rain had raised her hand to cover her mouth. Everything looked white in front of her eyes.

Yurisen’s lips were twisted. She felt like she had to say something, but she couldn’t think of what to say. She was usually an objective and descriptive critic. However, she couldn’t think of anything to say.

‘There’s no form and no meter. His choice of words was simplistic, and his sentence structures were basic. What… what the hell? Why was he able to convey his feelings so well with such a poem…?’

Rain chose to close her eyes. Springtime for the masses… when she first embarked on her travels throughout the emperor’s vast lands, she saw firsthand the strife and poverty that shackled the public. She also recalled the luscious, developed lands in the Essen estate. A bolt of lightning seemed to strike in her mind. A cautious warning…

‘How pathetic were you, Rain! Trying to one up each other through metered beats and colorful language! To depict such a simple scenery of spring…!’

Rain opened her eyes, secretly glancing at San, who was gently wiping his mouth.

‘Was he not able to continue the last verse? Or did he choose not to continue?’

Rain looked at the other people around the table. The people sitting around the table all had slightly stiff expressions. The people here could understand San’s poem with their heads but couldn’t feel the depths of his words with their bodies. Furthermore, the subjects of poverty and the public’s struggle were uncomfortable and disturbing for aristocrats. An awkward silence ensued for a moment.

Rain thought that she had to do something for San. However, she could not intervene. Yurisen had already gotten up from her seat. Yurisen slightly bowed her head in apology.

“It’s an unconventional idea and form. I enjoyed it. And, in case… I apologize in advance if I have caused you any inconvenience during the commencement of this event.”

It was the most accommodating words Yurisen could think of. It was a compromise not to offend the other while keeping her own sense of pride. Watching Yurisen’s response, Rain’s felt even more stifled.

Suddenly the word ‘ink’ came to her mind. How was Yurisen not able to properly read the situation!

San smiled.

“No, it was fun. Do you have anything to apologize for?”

“Originally, Mun-Ye-Rim’s atmosphere is not favorable to new people. We prefer to get used to each other while discussing, debating, and arguing.”

“I don’t care. As you have seen and felt, I am an ignorant soldier, and I know very little about literature. Please don’t concern yourself with me and proceed as usual. Isn’t this something you guys put together anyway? You didn’t expect much from me anyway, right?”

“I didn’t mean that…”

Yurisen couldn’t continue her words. The cheerful but firm voice of San came first.

“Anyway, I’m here today, so I’ll let you guys play as you please. But to be honest, this sort of entertainment is very inconvenient. Still, I believe that you didn’t call me here today to shame me. I’m pretty sure if I gave you all swords and made you have a public battle with veteran warriors, you’d feel the same way as I do now, right?”

“That’s…”

Yurisen was a little perplexed. So far, no invitee to their club had shown such a reaction. San’s direct response was not what she wanted. Rain put on a bitter smile.

Something seemed to be provoking him. Rain leaned comfortably back in her chair.

She knows San well.

‘A being who subdued the army of the gods with force, competed with the sages in terms of wisdom, and is now turning the intellectual geniuses of the empire into poor fools…’

Rain felt that San knew that someone was trying to test him right now.

The others around the table, on the other hand, sat upright in their chairs. They were not fools either, so they realized that the other person was not a simple military officer. 

San continued, “Anyway, I like discussions, so I’ll try to be accommodating to carry on a pleasant conversation.”

Reform – Chapter 8

Yurisen caught her breath for a moment. She was a little surprised. Although his poem’s form was grotesque, under her standards, his poem was able to convey a continuous meaning in a short period of time. It was an amazing talent and expression of communication. She glanced once more at San before moving on to the next activity.

“Where… where the heck does her leisurely approach come from?”

Meanwhile, San watched people talking at another table.

‘Well, it’s like a seminar for students in a college club. It’s a little sloppy and too stylish in the expression, but… they’re just students, so… I’m pretty sure everyone’s having a good time.’

This was the criticism San, who was used to the complexities of the twenty-first century, felt when he observed the others’ conversations.

Yurisen looked at the other members sitting at the table. Four women and two men were gathered, and Princess Rain was one of them. The rest were all members of powerful families.

Except for Rain, all the others gathered around the table were people she chose. Knowing that she invited a discussion partner who was a military officer with weak knowledge, she chose people who were good with arguments and with whom she had good relationships.

However, they were also very proud intellectuals. Within their own circles, they were masters of debate who could put their opponents in a corner at any time by exposing irrational or logical loopholes in another’s argument.

Yurisen brought up the next topic of discussion. It was a subject she considered befitting for someone who was stationed as a chief for imperial intelligence.

- In judging a case, we rely on knowledge and/or experience. Which approach, knowledge-based or experience-based, is more important?

For a Mun-Ye-Rim member, a verbal discussion was like a warrior’s battle. A Mun-Ye-Rim member would dig into their opponent’s logical loopholes and will thwart any shallow maneuvers through the use of logical structures.

Their battles were as fierce as those conducted by warriors. Actually, it may even be considered more cunning, tenacious, and even mind-destroying.

Yurisen stated her first prepared question.

“When judging the truth of a case, what do you value more, knowledge or experience? Why do you think so?”

“Both are important,” San replied curtly.

“?”

Yurisen stood still as she was at a loss for words. The others around the table also widened their eyes. The conversation seemed to be going off-track from the start. Only Rain was smiling.

“Then let me ask the question again. If you had to choose one of the two, which one would you choose?”

Yurisen was not planning to easily give in to San’s unconventional answers. Her face turned a little red.

“I would not choose either. There wouldn’t be a way to properly judge anything.”

Again, San answered briefly. He had on a serious expression. He wasn’t fooling around.

“Are you saying that neither knowledge nor experience is necessary?” Yurisen said with a firm voice. She seemed to be getting a little heated.

“The opposite. I need both.”

Rain was watching the two ‘duel’ while calmly looking at them from the side. She seemed to be reliving the memories of her first conversation with the two.

‘I was deceived by my own negligence and lulled by their simplistic approach… a lot of people lost their pride after arguing with these two…’ Rain thought.

“The level of importance is different for each respective area, right?” Yurisen asked.

“It’s really annoying to try and offer an answer to a question that is fundamentally illogical. What would you have me do?”

“The question is illogical?”

Yurisen’s face grew even redder. The others around the table watched their argument with interest. 

San asked again, “How about something like this? Breathing or eating, which is more important to sustain life? What if you could only choose one of the two?”

“I think you’re actively trying to blur the point of my question,” Yurisen shot back.

“I don’t think there’s any difference in the questions,” San calmly replied.

Yurisen stared at San, her face blushing and turning into a darker shade of red with every passing second. Why was he being so mean? Suddenly, she had an ominous feeling that she was losing control over the debate. It seemed that San was starting to lead the discussion.

“If one stops breathing, one will soon die, so breathing is more important.”

“Death is the same in both cases, but you’re saying there’s a difference in importance on how one dies. Would you feel a little happier if you slowly die from starvation rather than instantly die from asphyxiation?”

Yurisen’s beautiful face was getting even redder. She was also not satisfied with her given answer.

San had touched her wound, the weak point in her answer. However, the man didn’t seem to want to stop there.

“Then how about this? Are ingredients important to flavor? Or is the recipe important?”

“Ugh…”

This time, Yurisen was adamant not to answer carelessly. Recipes were dependent on ingredients. However, the other party asked for ‘taste’.

There was no answer. Both were equally important. However, if she admitted this, she was essentially saying that San won. Yurisen bit her lips. Her head spun furiously.

‘How did this happen? This is not a proper discussion!’

Others were watching their back-and-forth with their arms crossed and swallowing their laughter. They seemed to have no intention of participating in the discussion. For many of them, this was the first type of this form of discussion.

As expected, there wasn’t a single word of elegant jargon or eloquent expression in San’s words.

But they, too, were not confident enough to answer San’s simple and vulgar questions. Actually, they felt that his analogies were pretty sharp and poignant.

“Are you claiming that knowledge and experience are only equal to ingredients and recipes? Could it be an error of oversimplification?” Yurisen said, huffing and puffing.

“Is there anything different? Either way, it won’t help you if you choose either choice. Then, let me ask, under what conditions and values do you measure the quality of ‘judgment’?”

“Of course, it’s based on accuracy.”

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