“Young master-nim, I, ugh, here, gaaag-”
“Yeah. You can wait here.”
Cale patted Durst’s back as Durst did his best to hold back his dry heaves and started walking.
‘Sima Pyeong’s tastes are not very good either.’
Should he phrase it as the Unorthodox faction’s people really seemed to fit the Unorthodox faction?
A beautiful pavilion surrounded by clear water. There was a path toward the highest seat surrounded by the beautiful music played by musicians.
There were feasts prepared on both sides of the path.
The people seated at the tables were all core members of the Divergent Coalition.
‘The right side has neutral and Sima Pyeong’s people.’
The left side was the opposing faction centered around the leader of the Green Forest.
Usually, the more ‘important’ people were seated closer to the top seat but everybody sat as they pleased in the Unorthodox faction.
They were looking at Cale through this odd silence.
Their gazes were quite hilarious.
– Human! That punk who looks even stupider than Toonka is glaring at you!
For reference, that punk was the leader of the Green Forest.
Why was it that all bandits looked so monotonous like a cliché?
Anybody would be able to tell that this guy was the leader of Green Forest.
– Human! This is weird, there are too many humans in the Unorthodox faction making weird expressions!
Raon’s assessment was accurate.
A person chuckling as if they were drunk while winking toward Cale.
A person wiping a rough blade and wetting his lips with his tongue while looking at Cale.
Or a bastard looking at him as if he wanted to kill Cale.
There were all sorts of bastards here.
Cale walked past them before hearing a voice for the first time.
“That person is young master Kim.”
He turned toward the voice.
A person seated on the right side.
A major figure in the neutral faction of the Divergent Coalition…
It was the Pinnacle Demon.
As one of the Five Demons, she was the third Demon Cale had met after the Carnage Demon and the Sword Demon.
‘She looks exactly as I have heard.’
The Pinnacle Demon was the oldest of the Five Demons at the age of eighty and originally held a different title.
Her original title was Poison Demon.
She was the person whose name was best known in the Unorthodox faction for her use of poison.
However, a change happened to her martial arts at some point.
She decided to reach the pinnacle in the use of poison and gathered all martial arts compatible with poison, even the third-rate ones, to research them.
However, she was unable to find a martial art suitable for her poison after over twenty years and, as a result, said that she reached her limits and called herself the Pinnacle Demon.
‘I heard that she has a terrible relationship with the Emei Sect and the Sichuan Tang Clan?’
The Emei Sect was a sect of women that had started as a gathering of nuns to discuss arts and the Dao before turning into one of the Orthodox faction’s Nine Sects One Gang.
The Sichuan Tang Clan was one of the Orthodox faction’s Five Great Clans and famous for their poison and terrible tempers.
The Emei Sect’s current Sect leader and the Pinnacle Demon had clashed against each other quite often when they were younger, turning them into bitter enemies.
As for the Tang Clan, they couldn’t help but be wary of the Pinnacle Demon as they also studied poison and hidden weapons.
‘That is why the Sichuan region is quite messy they said?’
Normally, a region is usually controlled by one group. However, the confrontation between the Orthodox faction and the Unorthodox faction was firm in Sichuan without leaning in either direction.
The Orthodox faction had the Emei Sect, the Tang Clan, and the Qingcheng Sect.
The Unorthodox faction centered around the Iron Street Market and had the Black Dao Gang and the Pinnacle Demon.
There were no major conflicts but Sichuan maintained a tight and tense atmosphere.
That was also where the Pure Silver Merchant guild, which Cale presumed to be a branch or core part of the Blood Cult, existed as well.
‘It’s going to be quite the shitshow.’
Cale sighed thinking about that chaos but a smile soon appeared on his face.
– Human! You haven’t smiled like that in a while!
It was because Cale would be the one to create that shitshow.
He planned on completely flipping things over.
That was why he went all around purifying people and acting all polite until now.
Cale looked at the sharp eyes of the Pinnacle Demon within her wrinkled eyelids and smiled.
As the Pinnacle Demon let out a short gasp of admiration…
“Coalition leader. Why did you suddenly call us together?”
Someone stopped Sima Pyeong before he could even sit down.
The owner of this peaceful-looking name was the leader of the Green Forest.
The person who led the 72 Green Forests and the 18 Yangtze Waterway Strongholds.
“Where did you leave Xia Mun?”
The man whose hair was even messier than Toonka’s held his cup of alcohol in his hand as he looked up at Sima Pyeong.
His gaze was vicious.
“Xia Mun is doing well.”
“Ha! What bullshit. We have lost contact with Xia Mun. Right after he met with your kids, Coalition leader.”
Xia Ryeong’s aura started to get more vicious.
Xia Mun was the second in command of Green Forest who chased after Cale calling him boss.
As visible in their similar names, Xia Ryeong gave his trusted subordinates the same last name and treated them not just as sworn siblings but as if they were actual siblings.
There was bound to be quite the solidarity between the two.
– Human! Didn’t Xia Mun fall asleep after drinking with Toonka?
He was currently knocked out in an inn somewhere in Guizhou after drinking his ass off.
Cale could see Sima Pyeong quietly observing Xia Ryeong.
Sima Pyeong repeated himself to Xia Ryeong, who was growling while asking about Xia Mun.
“Xia Mun is doing well.”
“No, I asked you where he was-”
“I said he was doing well.”
Xia Ryeong flinched.
It was because a gentle smile appeared on Sima Pyeong’s face.
“I have clearly said it three times now that he is doing well. Xia Ryeong, you know me. You know that I hate saying something more than two times.”
The music was still going despite the commotion.
The refreshing music that made the listeners think of Spring did not stop.
However, it was just the music.
Nobody dared to say anything.
Xia Ryeong’s snort was what broke the silence.
“You’ve been laying low until now but you are finally going to show your true colors?”
Clunk. Xia Ryeong stood up.
Cale was amazed.
He truly was about Toonka’s size. A person.
This was the first time he saw such a tall person in the Central Plains.
This was followed by the quiet sound of chairs moving back as two other people stood up.
Cale observed the two people seated on the other side of Xia Ryeong.
‘The first and the fourth.’
Sima Seok and Sima Tae. They stood up and stared at Xia Ryeong.
It started feeling as if an explosive situation might happen at any moment.
Only Sima Pyeong was still calm.
“What true colors are you saying I am showing?”
Xia Ryeong looked at Cale.
“Are you young master Kim Hae-il?”
Cale slightly nodded his head.
Xia Ryeong continued.
“I apologize to an esteemed member of the Imperial Palace, but… I do not like the Unorthodox faction cooperating with the Orthodox faction and the Demon Cult and I do not like bowing my head either!”
Xia Ryeong glared at Sima Pyeong.
His subordinates started standing up one by one as if to show that they agree with him.
Their clothes were different colors but they were all giving off vicious auras.
Most of the Orthodox faction trained and developed under strict rules or within the fences of the Sect or Clan.
The Demon Cult grew their strength through thorough training and competition following strict rules.
The Unorthodox faction was different from them.
Most of them grew up far from things like learning or protecting. They learned martial arts and trained to become stronger for their survival.
Xia Ryeong shouted.
“Does the fact that this esteemed member of the Imperial Palace has come here mean that you want us to negotiate like how the Orthodox faction and Demon Cult have negotiated with each other?”
Sima Pyeong stood silently and smiled.
Xia Ryeong shouted in anger.
“I will not sit by and watch the Divergent Coalition being a dog with its tail tucked between its legs!”
He broke the cup in his hand.
“How did we take up our spot in this place? Fighting! That was our only answer! But what? You want us to compromise? Absolutely not! We must not be bent!”
Xia Ryeong’s side started heating up in agreement.
Cale had a thought while looking at him.
‘What fucking nonsense.’
Cale had heard about the bandits and pirates letting merchant guilds through if they pay a toll. He also knew that the bandits and pirates absolutely did not mess with the administrators.
Sometimes, they even offered bribes to officials.
It was an everyday occurrence for the Unorthodox faction to be wary of the government because they took on thugs or gangsters as their subordinates.
He even heard about the Black Dao Gang that ripped merchants of money by calling it a spot fee.
And then what?
Cannot be bent?
‘He says some funny things.’
The moment Cale had that thought…
“You say some funny things.”
He flinched thinking that he said his thoughts out loud before turning toward the sound of the voice.
The Pinnacle Demon. She was laughing while tilting her cup.
“Senior Pinnacle Demon!”
Xia Ryeong showed his respects while also showing his anger at the comment from a major figure from the neutral faction.
The Pinnacle Demon nonchalantly commented.
“Surviving until the end and living on despite how dirty and unfair things are.”
Smirk. She started to smile.
Her skin was grotesque because she researched poison. That might explain why the old woman’s face looked like the scary villains in traditional fairy tales.
“That is the thought of the Unorthodox faction bastards. Why do you talk about fighting and compromise as if there is something spectacular? We just move according to what benefits us.”
The Pinnacle Demon nonchalantly asked.
“Xia Ryeong. Why are you acting like this?”
Cale heard Sima Pyeong quietly mumble something with the smile gone from his face.
“She noticed as I expected.”
Just as Cale was about to ask what he was talking about…
The Pinnacle Demon continued to speak.
“Xia Ryeong. What are you aiming for by acting like those Orthodox faction bastards?”
“Senior, how could you say that I am acting like the Orthodox faction bastards?!”
The Pinnacle Demon tilted her head to the side while looking at the angry Xia Ryeong.
His subordinates were hesitating at the weird mood.
It was the same for Sima Pyeong’s children.
The Pinnacle Demon’s relaxed demeanor truly came with a questioning heart.
“Xia Ryeong. You are talking about fighting and compromise to talk about ‘justification’ in an organization known as the Unorthodox faction. If that is not what those stuffy and frustrating Orthodox faction bastards do, then what is?”
Cale quietly gasped.
The Pinnacle Demon continued to speak as he did that.
“Also, you talked about fighting. You said that we must not be bent. Isn’t that what those Demon Cult bastards usually say?”
She started chuckling.
“Are we the Demon Cult? Who cares about something stupid like the survival of the fittest? In our Unorthodox faction, it doesn’t matter if you use dirty or unfair methods or if you continue to stab your allies in the back. All that matters is that you survive. Why are you telling us to fight and jump into a situation where we might die?”
She then looked toward Sima Pyeong.
“Coalition leader. Why are you acting weak?”
Her wine glass started melting.
The glass slowly disappeared while reacting to her poison infused internal ki.
The Pinnacle Demon looked at Cale.
“Do you know the answer, young master-nim?”
Cale was truly amazed.
‘This old woman is as I have heard.’
Chief Eunuch Wi had told Cale something.
‘Young master-nim. Sichuan may look like the Unorthodox faction might get pushed back because there are three strong Sects and Clans of the Orthodox faction there, however…’
The reality of the situation was that there was a balance.
‘The Pinnacle Demon. As long as she is in charge of confronting the Emei Sect and the Tang Clan… The Orthodox faction will not be able to defeat the Unorthodox faction.’
The Pinnacle Demon.
It looked like he would be able to communicate with this person.
He might even be able to communicate better with her than the slightly crazy Sima Pyeong.
Sima Pyeong sighed.
“As expected, it is difficult to hide things from you, Senior Pinnacle Demon.”
His eldest child, Sima Seok, started speaking.
“Coalition leader-nim, what do you mean by that-”
“What do I mean? It means that something quite entertaining is about to happen here.”
Sima Pyeong folded his fan.
The music stopped.
– Human, are we getting started?
This peaceful silence was the signal.
“They are coming in.”
The moment that the Pinnacle Demon nonchalantly commented…
The door to the pavilion opened again.
Durst rushed in and ran up to Cale’s side and pointed with his finger.
The first child, Sima Seok.
“And there, there-, ugh!”
The moment Durst quickly pointed at five people…
“Hmm. I guess this is doable?”
The Heavenly Demon calmly walked into the pavilion and spoke to Cale.
Cale nodded his head.
Durst didn’t act as if he would faint or die as he did back in the Demon Cult.
He just kept dry heaving.
“If it is this level of living jiangshis, it is easy.”
Even if there were a lot of them…
The purification should not take much time.
Especially for living jiangshis who were in shock and not in berserk states.
Cale motioned toward Choi Han, Ron, Beacrox, Sui Khan, and Choi Jung Soo.
They would take care of suppressing the five people the priest pointed out.
“I’ll take care of my son.”
Sima Pyeong was there as well.
“What is this-”
“Coalition leader-nim, what is going on right now?”
In between the shocked members of the Unorthodox faction…
Cale channeled his rose gold currents.
A person approached him at that moment.
“Did you just say living jiangshis?”
The Pinnacle Demon. She quickly walked up to him.
Her eyes were sparkling quite a bit.
“Just one living jiangshi!”
The Pinnacle Demon shouted urgently and desperately as Cale flinched.
“Give me just one! I want to research it!”
Cale simply ignored the Pinnacle Demon.
It was better to ignore crazy talk.
Where is the shut up and take my money meme when you need it?
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