“Truly, did gramps truly say that?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
The Empress Dowager fell deep into thought as she watched Mok Hee nod her head.
‘Mok Hyeon. The Fist King is suspected of being at least in the latter stages of the Unrestrained Realm.’
The stages of the Martial Arts world were Third Rank, Second Rank, and First Rank, with the Peak Realm and the Transcendent Realm beyond that. Above that was the Unrestrained Realm. Once someone got past the Unrestrained Realm, they would reach the Profound Realm.
Anybody who managed to get into the Peak Realm was called an expert.
‘Anybody who reaches the Transcendent Realm is treated as a great expert anywhere they go in the Martial Arts world.’
As for the Unrestrained Realm which was above that, that was something only a handful of people in the respective sects, cults, or factions reached.
‘The Imperial family believes gramps Mok Hyeon might be in the Profound Realm.’
At least in the latter stages of the Unrestrained Realm. At max at the early stages of the Profound Realm.
That was the conclusion that the Imperial family had stealthily reached about Mok Hyeon.
‘…Then does that mean that the guy from earlier is at least in the latter stages of the Unrestrained Realm and at max at the early stages of the Profound Realm as well?’
The Empress Dowager could not believe that.
However, she clenched her eyes shut, thought about what she had just experienced, and bit down on her lips.
‘Such an aura-’
The Empress Dowager had experienced all sorts of hardships.
Whether it was the Emperor from two generations ago… And even when she met the former Emperor and had a confrontation with him… The Empress Dowager had not been afraid.
However, the moment she faced that guy’s aura… It felt as if she was going to suffocate.
She probably would have plopped down on the ground if it had not been for all of the experiences she had faced in her life.
‘However, all I felt was an aura.’
All she felt was this feeling as if he controlled the air.
She had not felt any murderous intent coming from him.
He did not even have a weapon in his hand.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“…I’ve heard that in the Martial Arts world, the stronger you get the more average you look. Is that true?”
Mok Hee was silent for a moment before she responded.
“Your Majesty, it is said that once you get past a certain stage, a Martial Artist does not look very different from a regular person.”
“Yes. Just like gramps.”
The grim reaper looked even more like a regular person than gramps.
No, honestly speaking, he looked even weaker than the Empress Dowager herself. He was skinny and his face looked extremely tired. And-
“…He looked young. Someone that strong can’t truly be that young, right?”
“It is difficult to answer that question, your Majesty. However-”
Mok Hee hesitated for a moment before continuing to speak.
“There is a process called Rejuvenation where an expert who reaches a certain stage will have their body and bones go through a metamorphosis that makes them look young once again. Unfortunately, I am unable to say for sure because I have never seen it before.”
The Empress Dowager nodded her head before looking up again after hearing a noise.
She heard a court lady’s voice from outside the door.
“His Majesty requests an audience.”
The Empress Dowager looked out the window.
It was dark.
Her son wanted to see her despite it being the middle of the night.
“His Majesty must have heard the information.”
There was no way that her son, who had let her take Mok Hyeon with her, did not know about the grim reaper’s visit. A smile formed on the Empress Dowager’s face.
“His Majesty has ears even in the Moonflower Palace.”
Mok Hee’s shoulders shook a bit after hearing that comment.
The Empress Dowager was saying that her son, the current Emperor, had planted an informant in her residence. However, her voice did not sound displeased at all.
In fact, she sounded happy.
“How wonderful. There will be nowhere in the Imperial Palace that His Majesty’s ears cannot reach since he has even infiltrated my palace.”
She was truly praising her son’s abilities.
The Emperor knew that Empress Dowager would feel this way, which was why he was openly showing that he had informants in the Moonflower Palace and requesting an audience.
“It would be difficult to sleep tonight anyway, so please inform His Majesty to please come.”
The Empress Dowager gave an order to the court lady outside before commenting to Mok Hee.
“Stay here with me. You will be able to explain his strength better than I can.”
“Yes, your Majesty.”
The Empress Dowager looked out into the darkness beyond the window and mumbled to herself.
“Maybe I’ll be able to see them together with His Majesty.”
Her gaze moved to one of the guesthouses attached to the Moonflower Palace.
It currently had torches lit up.
The torches would not turn off in that guesthouse since someone was staying there starting today.
* * *
‘What is going on?’
Cale suddenly felt iffy.
Why is there no reaction?’
The old man had asked if he was strong so he had responded that he was weak.
The old man called gramps had stared at Cale before laughing and closing his mouth.
‘It feels a bit… sus?’
The old man’s reaction was weighing heavily on his mind.
However, nobody said a thing as they continued to head to the residence the Empress Dowager had provided for them.
‘They are quiet but fast.’
Cale was making sure to look around without others noticing as they walked in order to assess the situation.
The Moonflower Palace.
It was quiet because it was night time but there were torches lit up all around, making it not very dark. A lot of courtesans were walking around.
‘They are similar to Chief Eunuch Wi.’
Similar to the silently walking Chief Eunuch Wi, the courtesans of Moonflower Palace gave off the same vibes.
It was at that moment.
– Human, human!
Raon, who was behind Cale, suddenly started talking to him.
‘What is going on?’
As Cale’s eyebrows slightly rose up.
– Human! I keep getting something weird!
– Goldie gramps told me something! He said that I must figure out the flow of mana in the world whenever I go to a new world!
‘As expected, the ancient Dragon gives great advice.’
As Cale had that thought and nodded his head…
– So, I was reading the flow of mana when I discovered something weird!
– It is definitely not magic, but the humans here seemed to be secretly exchanging conversations with one another! I can read the fluctuation in the air with mana!
‘Hmm? They are secretly exchanging conversation? Isn’t that sound transmission?’
For reference, experts in the Martial Arts world could use their internal ki to use a method called sound transmission to secretly hold conversations.
‘…He can read it? With mana?’
Cale’s eyes opened wide.
He could feel his heart beating wildly. He was suddenly getting excited.
‘Basically, Raon is saying that he might be able to stealthily hear other people’s sound transmissions? This, this! If used properly!’
Cale’s eyes clouded over.
Raon continued to talk to him. He seemed quite amused by this concept of sound transmission.
– Human! This old man called Chief Eunuch Wi and this old man called gramps are currently chatting with each other!
‘Is that so?’
Chief Eunuch Wi had seemed quiet but he was currently busy chatting with gramps.
And the gramps, who had laughed before closing his mouth, was silent for that reason as well.
Cale did his best to stop the corners of his lips from curling up.
– I think I would be able to hear what they are saying if I focus! Figuring out the fluctuation is difficult because I am still unfamiliar with their methods, but I think it is possible!
Raon was like a person who had discovered an item from a new civilization.
– The texture of the fluctuation is different from mana and the power is subtly different as well! This is similar to the aura that good Choi Han uses! But it is a bit different from aura as well!
The internal ki used by martial artists was a bit different from aura.
But it would be more similar to Choi Han’s aura.
– I can hear them! It looks like I need to practice some more, but I am a Dragon who can focus very well so I can slowly hear them now!
Cale felt his heart beating wildly.
‘A wuxia world where we can hear the sound transmissions.… Dragons truly are great and mighty.’
Cale wholeheartedly believed that.
– Human! Should I tell you what they are saying?
Raon now knew what to do even without Cale telling him anything.
Raon was telling Cale things he wanted to know without being asked.
– Chief Eunuch Wi is speaking!
– ‘…You are saying that he is at minimum in the Unrestrained Realm?’
– The old man is speaking!
– ‘That’s right. However, he is calling himself weak. I guess he has no intentions of using his powers.’
The corners of Cale’s lips ended up curling up.
– Human, what is the Unrestrained Realm?
‘What is the Unrestrained Realm? It means that a person is super strong.’
Cale was flabbergasted.
‘I seem like I am in the Unrestrained Realm?’
He almost started laughing in disbelief.
‘Unrestrained Realm my ass. I would probably cough up blood and faint and cause all sorts of issues even if I just used half the strength of my powers. I’m just relieved that my regeneration and wind powers are less sealed than others.’
Although extremely destructive powers such as the water, fire, and earth were significantly sealed… The ancient powers with low destructive powers still remained at over fifty percent.
– Human! The gramps is talking again!
– ‘In addition, the others with the grim reaper seem quite strong as well. However, I do not feel any internal ki from them.’
‘Of course. Nobody here has internal ki. They all use different powers.’
“This is it.”
Chief Eunuch Wi stopped walking.
He pointed at a two-story building.
“Sir, you can stay here at one of the Moonflower Palace’s annexes.”
Chief Eunuch Wi hesitated for a moment after seeing the person standing outside the annex before continuing to speak.
“Although I am in charge during your stay… These children will be taking care of things within the annex so please feel free to ask them for anything you might need.”
Cale looked toward the five people.
There were two court ladies and three eunuchs.
Cale then focused on the three eunuchs.
“…Chief Eunuch Wi.”
“Yes, Grim reaper-nim?”
“…That child seems too young?”
There was a young boy, who seemed to be about six years old, twiddling his fingers looking scared.
Chief Eunuch Wi flinched before bowing.
“That sir, no… That child will be the one to mainly assist you, grim reaper-nim.”
Cale’s eyes clouded over. The only existence of the courtesans sticking out like a sore thumb… The child who was looking at Cale as if he knew him…
Someone that Chief Eunuch Wi was oddly being wary of…
Yet the other courtesans seemed to have no idea about and were warily looking at the child and Chief Eunuch Wi…
Cale felt as if he knew who this was.
The young boy looked scared after seeing his gaze and curled up some more, but he was trying his best to smile. He was also scratching his cheek.
It was at that moment.
“That is unacceptable.”
Cale’s shoulders flinched.
The moment Cale looked unsettled, Chief Eunuch Wi saw someone walking toward him.
This man with half-white hair seemed about his age but a bit younger.
“It is my duty to assist the young master-nim.”
Ron spoke to Chief Eunuch Wi with a benign smile on his face before looking at Cale.
“Isn’t that right, young master-nim?”
Cale slowly avoided Ron’s gaze.
Ron and Beacrox. Unlike the two of them, Cale’s appearance had changed quite a bit.
He currently looked like twenty-year-old Kim Rok Soo.
Of course, they would not be reminded of the White Star. Their hair color was different and, compared to the healthy White Star, the current Kim Rok Soo was so feeble that they looked like different people. Most importantly, they gave off completely different vibes.
However, the moment Cale noticed Ron observing him, he found it difficult to look at Ron for a long time.
‘This is complicated.’
However, Cale had no plans on explaining this ‘Kim Rok Soo’ appearance.
Yes, he had no intentions at all.
Cale quickly responded to Ron who asked again.
He had subconsciously responded excessively. Cale couldn’t help but be tense around Ron.
“That is what he is saying.”
Chief Eunuch Wi couldn’t hide the awkward look on his face despite having heard Cale and Ron’s conversation. Cale started speaking after seeing his reaction.
“However, I will keep this child with me.”
Chief Eunuch Wi had an odd look on his face before bowing.
“Yes, Grim reaper-nim.”
Cale watched him before nonchalantly commenting. The comment was for the gramps.
“Sir, I guess you don’t know?”
“Who that child is.”
The eunuch boy and Chief Eunuch Wi flinched, but Cale just shrugged his shoulders.
“I guess you are not very close to her Majesty, the Empress Dowager.”
Instead, he had a dubious smile on his face as he left the gramps with that comment and headed toward the annex without any hesitation.
“I would like to chat with Her Majesty as quickly as possible. It is urgent.”
Cale said that to Chief Eunuch Wi before entering the Annex.
“Of course, the sense of urgency is not from me, but your side who will be feeling it.”
He watched Chief Eunuch Wi flinch before approaching the annex door.
The courtesans assigned here stepped aside and bowed.
Cale placed his hand on top of the head of the child who quickly tried to follow them.
He was planning on putting the hand on the boy’s shoulder, but it ended up on the boy’s head because he was so short.
Cale was about to pet the boy’s head before he stopped.
The child’s black hair slipped right off of his head.
It was a wig.
The child made eye contact with Cale and smiled awkwardly.
The child, whose head was as smooth as a chestnut, was dressed like a eunuch but looked more like a young monk.
Cale made a comment to the awkwardly laughing child.
“Little Central Plains knows how to wear a wig I guess.”
The child awkwardly scratched his cheeks and smiled.
However, Cale’s gaze was vicious.
“…I have a lot of things I want to say.”
More of his powers had been sealed than he had expected.
It was especially true of the destructive powers that were useful for fighting.
The pupils of the boy who met his gaze were moving all around as he opened his mouth.
He just smiled while clutching his eunuch uniform.
Of course, his lips were shaking in fear.
Be scared Central Plains, be very scared.
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