Chapter 516 Joo Gongs

 Chapter 516



Joo Gong-jin's nickname was Black Rat.



A black rat living in the slums.



It was a humiliating nickname, but Joo Gong-jin was proud of it.



He might be called a rat from the slums, but his survival skills were exceptional.



He had faced many near-death experiences. Yet, he managed to survive even in the direst situations.



Based on his remarkable survival skills, he boasted an impressive ability to gather information.



The high regard for Joo Gong-jin's abilities led the Golden Heavenly Hall to hire him. And Joo Gong-jin never once failed to meet their expectations, boasting outstanding achievements.



"Ah, boring!"



Joo Gong-jin yawned, leaning against a boat docked at the pier.



He had a very busy night.



He was the one who brought the intelligence about the Hundred-Man Association's meeting to the patrol unit.



Gathering information about the Hundred-Man Association was no easy task.



Joo Gong-jin had to go through a lot of trouble to get the information, as only five out of a hundred people held the meeting secretly.



Thanks to his efforts, he managed to obtain the information and handed it over to the patrol unit.



Once he confirmed that the patrol team had started to move, he took some time for himself.



His job was to gather and deliver information, not to carry out physical punishments.



After completing his mission, he sought pleasure in a brothel and enjoyed the night.


Spending a blissful time with the prostitutes until dawn was enjoyable, but it left him utterly exhausted.



"Seems like I'm getting old, feeling this worn out. Ahhh!"



Joo Gong-jin stretched out, yawning lazily.



That was when a group suddenly appeared at the dock.



The ones riding the horses and carriages were none other than Pyo Wol's party.



Joo Gong-jin attentively watched them load their horses and carriages onto the deck of the Unmado River Boat.



He still didn't know the identity of Pyo Wol's group.



No matter how exceptional Joo Gong-jin was at gathering information, he couldn't instantly find out about complete strangers.



Only by relentlessly probing and observing could he obtain useful information.



"They don't seem like ordinary people?"



Pyo Wol's group seemed to have a magical charm that drew people's attention. It was hard to take your eyes off them.



However, Joo Gong-jin soon lost interest.



Although Pyo Wol's group was intriguing, they were unrelated to him.



Instead, he became irritated.



"Why aren't they here yet?"



He gave the information to the patrol unit yesterday and agreed to meet them here.



It was well past the appointed time, and he was angry that the Patrol Unit didn't show up.



"Unbelievable, just no manners... If you set a time, you should keep it. Why make a promise if you're going to be like this?"



Joo Gong-jin's grumbling ended only after the Unmado River Boat left the dock.


He had waited too long.



The patrol might be thoughtless, but it was unlike them to keep him waiting so long.



"Is something wrong?"



Joo Gong-jin immediately set out to find the patrol unit.



Although the city was large, there weren't many large inns where the patrol unit could stay. And he remembered all such inns clearly.



After checking several inns, Joo Gong-Jin finally found the patrol unit.



"What is this?"



Joo Gong-jin's face paled.



Finding the patrol unit was a good thing, but their condition was horrifying.



The entire patrol squad lay sprawled on the floor, each member bearing injuries big and small.


Some were moaning with broken arms, while others were clutching deep cuts.



Of the hundred members of the patrol, not a single one seemed unharmed.



The most painful sights were of the three leaders.



Lee Chu-su stared blankly at the sky like a man without a soul, while the Ice-Flame twins, covered in blood, could barely breathe.



All three looked so fragile as if they might crumble at a mere touch.



Their minds seemed to have taken a heavy blow.



Joo Gong-jin approached Lee Chu-su.



“Master Lee…”



He spoke tentatively, but Lee Chu-su didn't answer, looking completely blank.



“What happened here?”



The eerie scene filled him with dread.



Suddenly, he thought of the people he’d encountered at the docks.



“Could it be them?”



There was no proof, no connection, but the fact that they came to his mind was probably more than a coincidence.



Joo Gong-jin was a man who trusted his instincts.



“I need to report this...”



He swiftly sent a carrier pigeon to the Golden Heavenly Hall.


***


There was a large fortress on a hill overlooking the Poyang Lake.



Originally it was a large mansion, but after several recent extensions it had become a fortress.



The massive fortress, with walls three zhangs high and over a stone thick, was a perfect fortification in itself.



Numerous martial artists guarded the perimeter of the walls, making it impossible for anyone to approach without permission.



Golden Heaven Fortress was the name people gave to the massive castle built on the hill overlooking Poyang Lake.



It was so called because it was the base of the Golden Heavenly Hall.



The name wasn't official, but many people referred to it as such.



Now, the Golden Heavenly Hall was more than just a gathering of experts.



Factions that supported and sponsored the Golden Heavenly Hall sent their martial artists, and there were countless volunteers who joined the group on their own accord.



The organization was not entirely streamlined yet and was somewhat chaotic, but it was full of life.



The Golden Heaven Fortress had a very unique structure.



The terrain gets higher as you go deeper into it.



Due to this, you couldn't see inside from the outside, but from the inside, you could see through to the outer structures.



The leader of the fortress resided deep within the castle.



Naturally, the place where Emperor Dokgo Hwang resided was also deep within the fortress.



From his residence, the vast Lake of Poyang stretched before his eyes.



Dokgo Hwang stood on a high pavilion overlooking the lake.



Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from various points across the lake.



The smoke came from several ships burning on the lake.



Just a while ago, the ships carrying martial artists from the Golden Heavenly Hall and the Silver Lotus Hall had clashed on Lake Poyang.



There was an invisible, imaginary border on Lake Poyang.



There was no formal agreement, but they had implicitly divided the area between themselves.



Any ship that crossed this boundary line was subject to indiscriminate attack.



Today, a ship belonging to the Silver Lotus Hall crossed the boundary and was attacked by the Golden Heavenly Hall.



When the Kangho Great War first broke out, both the Golden Heavenly Hall and the silver lotus hall salvaged and used the original ships on Lake Poyang.



Sometimes small fishing boats were mobilized, sometimes large ships were put into action.



The martial artists from both sides boarded these ships and attacked each other.



Sometimes the Golden Heavenly Hall would win, and sometimes the Silver Lotus Hall would claim victory. The advantage went back and forth.



The situation began to change dramatically with the full-scale involvement of the Martial Sword Alliance.



Emperor Dokgo Hwang deployed ships he had brought from the South Sea to the front lines.



The ships of the Martial Sword Alliance, having sailed against the currents of the Yangtze River from the sea, boasted performance incomparable to the ones found at Dongting Lake.



They were much faster, stronger, and overwhelmingly larger.



Their massive size crushed smaller fishing boats into oblivion in an instant. From then on, the


tide of the war began to favour the Golden Heavenly Hall.



"Whoever controls Poyang Lake will soon become the ruler of the world."


Dokgo Hwang’s eyes shone ominously.



In the current Kangho, there was no ship that could stand against the ones he had brought. No matter how long the Yangtze River or how vast Poyang Lake was, they couldn't compete with the sea.



Boats that merely roamed rivers and lakes could not contend with the ones that had braved ocean waves the size of houses.



There was no comparison in terms of size, strength, or height.



Although he had heard tales of clans operating on the Yangtze River possessing large ships, they couldn't compete with the vessels of the Martial Sword Alliance, who had been active in the open ocean.



Taking control of Poyang lake was only a matter of time.



Despite this, his mood was not at its best.



He felt dirty, as if he hadn't wiped his arse after going to the toilet.



Dokgo Hwang knew very well why he felt so dirty.



"Yoo Soo-hwan!"


 


It was all because of his sworn brother, Yoo Soo-hwan.



Ever since he had escaped from Eom Soso's grasp, his whereabouts had become unclear.



A search party had been set up to track him down, but there was no sign of him anywhere.



As much as he wished that Yoo Soo-hwan would stay in hiding forever, considering his character, this seemed highly unlikely.



Surely, one day, Yoo Soo-hwan would reappear in Kangho.



He had to catch him and silence him before he could reveal what he had done.



"Tsk!"



Just as Dokgo Hwang was about to turn around in displeasure, someone approached him at a brisk pace.



A woman with a curvaceous figure and a calm expression approached. It was none other than his close confidant, Eom Soso.



Dokgo Hwang's brow furrowed slightly at the sight of Eom Soso.



He had a feeling she brought some unpleasant news. And his premonition proved true.



Eom Soso cautiously opened her mouth.



"A messenger pigeon has arrived from Dongting Lake."



"Dongting Lake? From the patrol unit?"



"The letter was sent by Joo Gong-jin, whom we had assigned to the patrol unit."



"So, what's the message?"



"The entire patrol unit has been seriously injured."



Dokgo Hwang's eyes narrowed at the unexpected information.



"Wasn't the patrol unit tracking that Hundred-Man Association, or whatever they're called? Is the Hundred-Man Association so formidable that they could inflict damage on the patrol unit?"



"No, that's not it. Moreover, the people who had the meeting at Dongting Lake were only a part of the Hundred-Man Association."



"And yet, the patrol unit was decimated?"



"Yes!"



"Explain in detail."



"It seems there was a conflict with some guests staying at the inn."



"And the identity of these guests?"



"We're in the process of determining that. However..."



"Speak."



"We may need to mobilise one of our ships."



"What are you talking about?"



"It's difficult to pursue the Unmado River boat that left Xiangyin ."



"Hmm!"



Dokgo Hwang rubbed his chin with his hand.



Watching the Dokgo Hwang, Eom Soso continued her report calmly.



"The leader of the surveillance team, Lee Chu-su, is incapacitated."



"So she's completely destroyed?"



"Not only is her physical injury severe, but it seems she's suffered an even greater mental blow. Considering that she's babbling nonsense all the time..."



"Hmm!"



"Even the Ice-Flame twins couldn't be used, they're so broken. It seems some formidable


experts have arrived. It worries me."



"To that extent?"



"I'm genuinely concerned."



"Is that so?"



There was a glint in Dokgo Hwang's eyes.



Even though he had lost face due to letting Yoo Soo-hwan escape, Eom Soso was still the one he trusted the most.



Eom Soso was not one to make light talk.



If she said she was worried, it meant that she must have sensed something that ordinary people wouldn't be able to detect.



Dokgo Hwang fell into thought for a moment.



The current balance of power between the Golden Heavenly Hall and the Silver lotus hall was delicate.



Interestingly, as many martial artists joined the Golden Heavenly Hall, the same number joined Silver lotus hall.



This resulted in an almost equal balance of power.



Of course, if the elite of the Heavenly Martial Sect or the Martial Sword Alliance joined, the balance would tip. But if that happened, sects like Wudang or Shaolin, which had temporarily closed their doors, would re-enter the Kangho affairs. Then chaos would ensue, a day of unpredictable turbulence.



Neither Jang Mugak nor Dokgo Hwang desired this.



They wanted the Kangho Great War to proceed within controllable boundaries.




So they tried to limit the mobilisation of their main forces and tried to solve the problems under their control.



'If they have clashed with the patrol unit, they are likely to join the Silver Lotus Hall. Those who have incapacitated the patrol unit will join the Silver Lotus Hall?'



He involuntarily furrowed his brows.



There was a risk of losing the slight advantage they had gained.



What was most unsettling was the fact that they didn't know their identities.



If they had at least known their identities, it wouldn't have been so troubling. This uncertainty only made his worries worse.



"You should go and see for yourself."



"May I?"



"But this time, you must not fail."



"If I fail, I will take my own life."



"There's no need to go that far."



"I will surely eliminate them."



"Take the Black Whale. It will be helpful."



"Thank you."



Eom Soso bowed her head in gratitude.


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