Chapter 88: Unsought Attention (3)

Jun 15, 2022

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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!

 

Night in Kunming was as silent as the dead.
All of the lights were extinguished, and all of the people had long since gone to bed.
For the last six months, the city nightlife had been non-existent.

Even the Peace-Loving Inn where Jin Mu-Won was staying at was like that.
There were no lit lamps in the kitchen, and the rest of the guests were already asleep.

Jin Mu-Won and Kwak Moon-Jung had also retired early.
Perhaps because he was exhausted from his training, Kwak Moon-Jung quickly fell into a deep sleep.

In the darkness, Jin Mu-Won lay on his bed, listening to the even breathing sounds of the sleeping Kwak Moon-Jung.
Unable to fall asleep, he finally gave up trying and sat up straight on his bed.
Missing one night’s sleep would not affect him much, and he didn’t like wasting his time lying down doing nothing.

He opened the window to get some fresh air.

TANG TANG TING!

An exquisite tune rang out from far away, so beautiful that it tugged at one’s heartstrings.
Someone was playing the qin.1

At first, Jin Mu-Won thought that it was just good music, but his expression suddenly stiffened.
The tune rocked his mind back and forth like a boat on stormy seas, and every note transformed into a dagger which stabbed repeatedly into his heart.

What the!?

Jin Mu-Won quickly turned to check on Kwak Moon-Jung, only to find that the boy was still sleeping comfortably, as if he hadn’t heard or felt anything.

Is that musician taunting me on purpose? I’m the only person their music is affecting!

Jin Mu-Won picked up Snow Flower and leapt out of the window.
If someone was going so far to incite him…then he wouldn’t simply let them succeed.

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The instant he stepped outdoors, the sound of the qin became clearer, building up like the giant wave of a raging tsunami while pounding his chest with the thunder of a beating drum.
Oddly enough, no one else seemed to hear the music, seeing as they had neither opened their doors nor lit up their lamps.

Jin Mu-Won activated the Art of Ten Thousand Shadows to protect his heart and arteries, and almost immediately felt a lot better.

To think that such a skilled master of the Sound Arts (音功) existed…!

It was a well-known fact that becoming a master of the sound arts was a lot harder than mastering the sword or any other weapon.
People who possessed the aptitude for such arts were uncommon, resulting in very few masters to begin with, and these masters in turn could not raise many disciples.
Furthermore, even if one was lucky enough to find a master, that did not mean that they would ultimately be able to reach the same level.

Thus, although Jin Mu-Won had only entered the gangho a few months ago, it was odd that he had never heard of such a rare master of the sound arts within the murim.

Jin Mu-Won traced the source of the music to a pavilion next to a small lake in the outskirts of Kunming.
The qin player was dressed in pure white robes, and his hair that was tied in a bun was covered with a silk cloth.
His chiseled facial features were handsome, and his half-closed black eyes gave him a mysterious atmosphere.

He was also still playing the qin as if he hadn’t noticed Jin Mu-Won’s arrival.

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TRALALANG!

Perhaps it was because the piece he was playing was reaching its climax, but the sound of the qin created powerful ripples on the lake surface, which quickly spread throughout the lake.

TWANG!

When the last note of the man’s performance was plucked, the ripples finally subsided, as if they had never appeared to begin with.
Only then did he raise his head to look at Jin Mu-Won.

A smile slowly spread out on the man’s face until he was beaming with happiness, like Jin Mu-Won coming to meet him was the greatest thing in the world.

“As expected, you came to look for me,” he said.

“Aren’t you the one who summoned me?”

The man stood up, holding his qin.
The faint moonlight seemed to flow down his loose robes, highlighting his silhouette.

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Jin Mu-Won continued, “You seem to know who I am, but I don’t know who you are.”

“Oh my, I apologize for my rudeness.
Greetings, Master Jin, my name is Geum Dan-Yeop,”2 the man replied in a voice that was soft and low, but at the same time as clear and beautiful as the sound of his qin.
He then descended from the pavilion and walked toward Jin Mu-Won.

“You are indeed as amazing as he described you to be.
After all, you managed to hear and respond to my Thousand Mile Soul Music (千里靈音).”

“He? Who?”

“I’m pretty sure you two have already met, though? His name is Nam-Goong Wi…”

Jin Mu-Won narrowed his eyes.
“Are you with him?” he asked.

“Yes, we are quite close.”

Jin Mu-Won could feel his heart pounding. My instincts tell me that this is the mastermind that Nam-Goong Wi talked about.

“So it was you.
You’re the one behind all the happenings in Yunnan.”

“Nam-Goong Wi told you that much, huh?”

Geum Dan-Yeop looked surprised for a moment, but he quickly smiled and nodded, saying, “Well, if it’s you though, I guess I don’t mind telling you even more.
I admit I’m a little curious about the man who left Nam-Goong Wi in the sorriest state I’ve ever seen him.”

Geum Dan-Yeop was all too familiar with Nam-Goong Wi’s strength and competitiveness.
The man could definitely live up to his arrogance, as the number of people in all of Yunnan Province who were even capable of just injuring him could be counted on one hand.
That strength was the reason why Geum Dan-Yeop had entrusted the mission to him without worries.

However, when Nam-Goong Wi had returned after being heavily wounded by Jin Mu-Won, his master plan, which had been moving along as smoothly as oiled gears, was suddenly disrupted.

It was the advent of an unpredictable variable.
He initially felt that he had already considered every possibility, and Jin Mu-Won’s appearance was not part of those possibilities.
He had been left with no choice but to confirm why such a person had come to Yunnan now, of all times.

If you′re seeing this, you are at the wrong place.

“If you don’t mind, could you tell me which sect you belong to?”

“I’m not a part of any sect, and the only martial arts I know are the ones that have been passed down my family.”

“Your family must be quite the great martial clan, then.”

“It’s not that amazing.
Also, it’s already ruined, and no one even remembers it anymore.”

“Is that so?”

Geum Dan-Yeop stared intensely at Jin Mu-Won with eyes that seemed to see right through him.
It was impossible to tell lies in front of eyes like that.
However, Jin Mu-Won only glared right back at him confidently, with no hesitation or anxiety.

Geum Dan-Yeop couldn’t help but be impressed.
Although Jin Mu-Won appeared ordinary on the surface, his eyes contained the steadfastness of a mountain that has stood for thousands of years.

The eyes are windows into the soul, and the firmness of one’s gaze represents the strength of their determination.
I can definitely see Jin Mu-Won’s unshakable resolution within his eyes.
Men like him are basically impossible to sway or tempt.

“Since you seem unwilling to tell me which clan you come from, is it okay if I ask you why you came here instead? Are you following orders from Heaven’s Summit?”

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“The reason I’m here has nothing to do with Heaven’s Summit.”

“Then?”

“I’m looking for someone.”

Geum Dan-Yeop furrowed his brows slightly, asking, “And who is that?”

“Six months ago, a caravan belonging to the White Dragon Merchant Association vanished here in Kunming.
Unfortunately, one of my acquaintances was among them.”

“……”

“Now it’s my turn to ask questions.
Are the people who went missing at that time still alive?”

“Hoo…” Geum Dan-Yeop sighed, then continued, “You were here for personal reasons?”

“You haven’t answered me yet.”

“They’re still alive, but…”

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“Please return them to me.
I’ll leave Yunnan right after that.”

“I wish I could, but it’s not as easy as it sounds…” Geum Dan-Yeop hesitated, troubled.

A blizzard seemed to cloud over Jin Mu-Won’s face, and the atmosphere immediately froze like it was the dead of winter.

“So you’re not going to return them to me?”

“Not right now at the very least, because then I’ll be the one in deep shit instead.”

“……”

“What about this? When I’m finished with my plans for Yunnan, I’ll return them safely to you.
I swear that on my name,” Geum Dan-Yeop proposed a compromise, but Jin Mu-Won did not answer him.

He could only sigh again, saying, “Hoo…I guess giving you my word is not quite enough for you.
What a dilemma.”

Geum Dan-Yeop folded his arms and frowned. Is there room for negotiation? No, there isn’t.
This guy absolutely won’t take “no” for an answer.
Even if he doesn’t say anything, somehow I just know he won’t agree to anything I propose.

Well, I only came here today to observe him and confirm the presence of this variable with my own eyes.

Geum Dan-Yeop seemed to be distressed, but Jin Mu-Won did not believe his act for an instant.
Although at first glance, the man appeared to have a very soft and reasonable personality, however, Jin Mu-Won knew from experience that people like him were the scariest ones of them all.

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“Haa…This isn’t okay, and that also isn’t okay… In the end, it seems like we’re destined to fight.
How sad.
I haven’t met someone I liked so much for quite a while.”

Geum Dan-Yeop’s last sentence was sincere.
He didn’t have many close friends, as there weren’t many people around him at his level.
Besides, although he hadn’t known Jin Mu-Won for a long time, he liked the guy.
They were even around the same age.
Unfortunately, they were on opposing sides, and couldn’t possibly become friends.

Jin Mu-Won tightened his grip on Snow Flower.
The surrounding temperature, which had already been freezing, fell even lower.
That was his way of conveying his intention to Geum Dan-Yeop.

It seems that Jin Mu-Won is a man who will never give up without getting his way.
It’s just too bad that I am the same kind of person. Geum Dan-Yeop smiled sadly.
There was something he had to do no matter what.
A mission that couldn’t be accomplished by anyone else.
He had been planning for this for a very long time, and him liking Jin Mu-Won wasn’t enough of a reason for him to back down now.

Jin Mu-Won walked toward Geum Dan-Yeop, but Geum Dan-Yeop retreated away from him.

“Are you going to run away?”

“This is not where you and I will fight.
Don’t you agree that it would be a pity if we dueled in a shabby place like this, with no audience to watch us?”

Geum Dan-Yeop shrugged nonchalantly, but Jin Mu-Won only leapt toward him in response.
Regardless of what Geum Dan-Yeop’s plans were, Jin Mu-Won wasn’t about to let the man go.

SWOOSH!

Suddenly, a hail of arrows came zooming out from the woods nearby.
Just like when he had fought Nam-Goong Wi, archers once again obstructed Jin Mu-Won’s movement.

Fortunately, he had already predicted that something like this would happen.
Jin Mu-Won easily knocked the arrows aside with Snow Flower and accelerated, instantly narrowing the distance between him and Geum Dan-Yeop until they were basically face-to-face with each other.

However, Geum Dan-Yeop then started playing his qin again.

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TRALANG!

“Kuh!” Jin Mu-Won shuddered involuntarily as the sound assaulted him like waves crashing against a cliff.
He pushed his way through the wall of sound, but when he finally got out of its range, Geum Dan-Yeop had vanished.

From far in the distance, he could hear the sound of the man singing.

♫♪♫♫♪

Men and women, old and young, yin and yang.

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The two worlds that I know of, fantasy and reality

At long last merge into one, revealing one’s true desires.

The heavens dream of a silent night,

While the silent night dreams of breaking out of its shell.

You, the people who have risen from the wasteland,

Hurry up, because you don’t have much time left.

♫♪♫♫♪

When the song came to an end, even the surrounding archers were gone, leaving only Jin Mu-Won at the scene.

Translator’s Note: Sorry, I’ve been super busy lately, going to propose to my gf and also preparing to immigrate to another country in a month to start a new job.
My current job has too much overtime and 24h shifts and I can’t physically take this shit anymore at my age, even if my suffering contributes just a little bit to saving the world (welcome to environmental science).

Footnotes:

Qin (琴): A plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument, also known as the Guqin.
It has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favored by scholars, nobles, and even royalty as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement.
It is similar to the guzheng/Japanese koto/Korean geomungo, but doesn’t have movable bridges under each string. Listen to it here. ↩

Geum Dan-Yeop (金單葉/燁): Dan-Yeop meaning “Lone Leaf” or “Lone Shining Flame”.
Random interesting fact, in the modern day, Geum Dan-Yeop would actually be pronounced Kim Dan-Yeop, as the hangul for 金 was changed from 금 (Geum) to 김 (Kim) sometime in the 1400s, but for some reason, only when used as a last name.
The hanja 金 is still pronounced as Geum when referring to “Gold”, it’s literal meaning.
Author-nim sure did his research even for something this trivial… ↩

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