The entire Biho special forces were a casualty. It wasn’t simple wounds but a whole-body injury from continuous beatings and seemed like they would need to receive rehab treatment continuously to recover to their original forms.
The only reason they hadn’t ended up dying was that they were the Jong clan.
Had the black thieves wholeheartedly unleashed their vented frustrations they may have all died off, but considering the aftermath, it wasn’t wise to go that far.
Even so, the Biho special forces were now benchwarmers of the Jon clan’s military force. And it appeared it would remain that way for some time.
Excluding the Biho special forces, there were two others.
They were also a part of the main military forces, excluding these two there were still plenty of warriors.
The bigger the numbers, the higher the cost of maintaining them.
So far the cost had been covered by exploiting the black thieves, but the black thieves had caused an uprising just when it was the time to collect the taxes putting them in a tough position.
The head of the Jong clan, Jong Richun looked at his chief guard in disbelief.
“Is it really that serious?”
He reported that in ten days’ time, they would run out of food supplies.
“You must quickly put together a strategy.”
Jong Richun frowned.
“We should have devised the golden wall strategy sooner.”
Had they absorbed the golden wall can this situation would never have occurred.
No, if so they would have wiped out the black thieves already.
Since the fact of their tax exploitation was never to be publicly known.
The best solution was to kill them all.
“Do we really have no spare funds?”
“We have depleted our funds with our ongoing golden wall strategy.”
Jong Richun shook his head.
“How could the situation be so devastating.”
“I apologize, sir. I should have paid more attention….”
“No. It is not you to blame. We all knew that our financial situation wasn’t looking too good to start with.”
Jong Richun comforted the head of the guards and suggested the next step.
There were a few ways.
It was to liquidate his current assets.
But this was detrimental to the Jong clan’s reputation.
The other was to ask Cheon Geum Ryeong for help.
But this had a high likelihood of being used against him in the future.
It would most likely be unfavorable when they split up the golden wall clan’s assets.
They couldn’t possibly use their future prosperity as a mortgage just to resolve a current issue.
“The only other way is to cut off the black thieves for causing an uprising.”
“But you should look into the cause first. They seem to have an outsider supporting them.”
Had they not those scums would never have been able to have caused so much harm to his warriors.
Even if they were advantageous in numbers there was no way a dog would beat a tiger.
“First…let’s take it one step at a time. I doubt they will come together and face us now.”
“Then I will do some preparation work. So that they don’t come together. “
“Yes do that. It’s always good to be sure.”
The head of the guards bowed his head and left.
Jong Richun was left alone to calm his rage.
“These…scums dare stab my back?”
All this while he had been the one to stab others in the back, but the tables had turned.
So it aggravated him more. He owed them a favor ten times worse.
“There’s no going back now.”
Once he emptied the pockets of the black thieves, there was no going back.
The Jong clan could no longer stoop to the level of mere thieves to steal.
So it was critical to expediting the golden wall strategy while they still could.
“I have to act on it at once.”
He had to act fast and swiftly by maximizing his forces. Failure was not an option.
“My prince, since when did you have connections with the Dongho foundation?”
Tassan and Gyeongwan were currently staying in one of the central pavilions at the Dongho foundation.
The people of the Dongho treated the two with the best hospitality and services.
They emptied out this small but grand pavilion for them and provided them with plenty of servants to accommodate to their needs.
While carrying out Taesan’s orders seamlessly as well.
The owner of the Dongho foundation did not argue nor suspect the orders of Taesan.
He simply did as he was told.
Not only that. He voluntarily provided him with information he had gathered ever since he established his foundation.
With that Taesan and Gyeongwan were able to know the background on the Jong clan and what they had done since they established themselves in the city.
They were able to gauge how much power and influence had been passed down through the Jong generation and come up with a carefully planned strategy.
The first milestone was achieved.
“I guess we can head back now.”
Taesan laughed at Gyeongwan
“Why? Are you feeling too comfortable to go back?”
“No. I just thought you still had some unfinished business you needed to attend.”
“I’m sure the rest will finish things on their own.”
“But…the opponent is the Jong clan. In anticipation of the future isn’t it better to lend them your strength now?”
Taesan laughed at Gyeongwan’s suggestion.
“Are you confident you can win the owner if you take him on right now?”
“What? Well, I’m not sure? I guess I’ll only know once I try…but don’t you think we are on par?”
“Then what about the guard leads here at the foundation?”
“I am slightly better than them.”
“You may be better than the guards, but compared to the leads you’re still far off. The owner is definitely way better than you.”
Gyeongwan’s eyes enlarged. He couldn’t acknowledge what he just heard. When he met the guard leads he had tested out their skills. What he had sent to Taesan was him being humble; he was confident that he was much stronger.
“Don’t take things at face value.”
Everyone here including the owner were followers of Cheonma.
Although within the foundation there was a mixture of those who weren’t as well.
Those who had infiltrated as the black thieves on this quest were all followers of Cheonma.
Those that weren’t were eliminated from the job. Those on this quest kept it strictly confidential.
For future battles with the Jong clan, confidentiality was key.
The reason why Gyeongwan had failed to gauge their power accurately was due to their vast experience.
Their skill in hiding their powers were top-notch, enough to fool even a professional.
After all, it was suspicious for an owner of a foundation to be a possessor of immense power.
Only those considered strong were sent here in disguise as it would be difficult for those who were weak to carry out a mission.
The idea of engaging the Dongho foundation only popped up in Taesan’s head after he made up his mind to stir up the Jong clan.
While revising his knowledge of the Jong clan it naturally led him to the Dongho foundation who were located in close proximity to the Jong clan.
It was a similar feeling to when he had found the main house of the Cheonma clan in Muhan.
What mattered now was that he had recalled and met the Dongho foundation and it was all good as long as they listened to his instructions.
They were not yet fully aware of his identity, but for them suspicion was not allowed.
If their superior turned up they had to submit and follow their superior.
It may seem possible that the whole clan fell into the traps of some swindler’s scheme but the chances were extremely low.
As there were several stages of identification a Cheonma follower had to go through to prove himself.
“So all we have to do now is go back.”
They would take care of the rest. They would accomplish their given task and return to their routine life.
“My prince, must we take this route?”
“It’s the shortcut.”
“But…we’re going back to the golden wall clan, not the Yeon residence. If we go this way we are actually taking a slightly longer route.”
It wasn’t slightly longer but much much longer. It’s not as if they were on a tight schedule but it seemed unnecessary to take a longer route.
After all, the doctor and Yoo had been informed to meet them back at the golden wall territory.
“We won’t be the only ones using the shortcut.”
Gyeongwan closed his mouth at Taesan’s reply. He now understood why he insisted on taking this route.
Who else would take this route beside those that were busily traveling from the Yeon residence to the Jong residence?
“You intend to meet the Jong clan.”
“I thought it would be good to put things into practice”
Gyeongwan’s face turned dark.
He had been with Yoo when they wiped out ten of the Jong warriors.
But today he was on his own.
The new Jong warriors he had seen before they left seemed much stronger than the ones he had taken out then.
And on top of that, there were two professionals along with them.
‘Would I still be able to take them out on my own?”
“Here they come.”
At Taesan’s words, Gyeongwan looked up. But he didn’t see anything yet.
He stared ahead and focused his powers to flow to his eyes, that’s when he started to see some dots far away.
Soon these dots grew bigger and took the form of a person.
Unexpectedly it was only one person.
‘Was he not a member of the Jong clan?’
As jong was thinking to himself, Taesan mumbled.
“He’s exuding a pretty strong force don’t ya think?”
At those words, Gyeonwan could feel the tension rising through him.
If even Taesan could sense his strength, who could this person possibly be?
Eventually, the person came close enough for them to identify who it was. Gyeongwan immediately recognized the face.
“He’s one of the Professionals in the Jong clan.”
“The ones you said you didn’t dare to fight?”
He thought there were two such professionals.
Taesan nodded. He was definitely not someone to underestimate.
The two continued walking in the direction of the person who was approaching them.
Soon the two groups met up.
“Ho. So we meet here. I had thought you ran off like rats to your golden wall clan. “
Jon Risungrak smiled brightly.
To be honest he had put in some legwork to find Taesan. He had made multiple trips to and from the Yeon residence to the Golden wall clan.
And through things, he heard on his way he confirmed whether Taesan had returned to the golden wall clan.
During which he heard of the news in the Jong residence and was headed there himself.
While Moon Kwang remained at the Yeon residence. He could not stop what he was planning to do.
He had given up meeting Taesan, but to think they chanced upon an opportunity to meet like this.
“Seems like you are coming from the Dongho foundation.”
Jon Risungrak tilted his head. Why would Taesan come from the dongho foundation?
The Jong clan was in that direction.
Somehow Taesan and Gyeongwan didn’t seem like they were returning after a visit to the Jong clan.
“You’re not coming back from our residence, are you? There was no news of seeing you both there?”
“Of course not. We were only at the Dongho foundation.”
Jong Risungrak’s eyes widened at Taesan’s comments.
“Dongho foundation? What relation do you have with them?”
Taesan smiled widely.
“And why should I tell you?”
Jong Risungrak frowned.
“How rude. Well, I had been planning to meet you anyway.”
Gyeongwan stepped in front of Taesan and glared at Jong Risungrak.
“You have no business with our prince…..”
“You look like you’re in a dire need of a lesson. As an adult, I should take it upon myself to do so don’t you think?”
Jong Risungrak started to release his powers as he said so.
His powers whipped around Gyeongwan.
The violent powers were pressuring him painfully, but Gyeongwan looked at Jong Risungrak calmly.
His tolerance for pain was pretty high. He was able to yield his sword even as his own flesh was being cut off so this amount of pain was no big deal.
“Ho. Not bad. But how odd? Even so, you’re not strong enough to take out my warriors on your own.”
That’s when Taesan stepped in.
“That was because I know the weakness of the Jong clan’s power.”
Jong Risungrak’s face froze. That was not something he could simply brush past.
“You know the weakness of our power?”
“Down to every little detail. The openings you have as you attack, the flaws you have as you shield, the unavoidable blind spots that occur during certain situations.”
“Unbelievable. Is that true?”
Jong Risungrak turned his gaze towards Gyeongwan.
Gyeongwan hesitated before nodding his head. Taesan must have had a reason to say this now.
“If that is true then teaching you a lesson won’t do. It seems like you’re gonna have to come back with me.”
Taesan smiled and looked around.
“Right. But there’s nobody else but us three.”
Jong Risungrak’s face stiffened up.