Book 3 Chapter 166

Blackjack and Taewon

Taewon had been feeling strung up for the last two days. The reason Bloodhand became the largest gang in Semralsin wasn't because of the vast amounts of territory it controlled. They also enjoyed many connections with the administrators and officials in power. Taewon had some status in Semralsin as the gang's leader. It should've been perfect; he had money, women, and power. However, the gang suffered blow after blow for half a month now.

It'd lost seven mid-order warriors in just a fortnight. Most were leaders of the town branches. The core members also died along with them. The thugs fell into disarray without their leaders. Some fought over the empty positions, some joined other factions while a third group quit entirely and started upright lives. He had to admit that, regardless of what happened in the towns, they were no longer under his control. Their loss amounted to 3 tenths of the brotherhood's income. He was struggling to keep up with his contributions to the authorities already.

And he hadn't even gotten to the worst bit yet. He just got a small note the day before. 'I am Dark Requiem. Your goons have offended me. I will wipe out your entire brotherhood in retaliation. I've already done seven of your branches in. Kent is next.' it read.

"F*cking hell... What game is this 'Dark Requiem' playing?!"

The f*cker's sudden appearance was terrible. He appeared out of nowhere just a fortnight ago and started killing the brotherhood's people. He made a mound of pulp out of the first group he killed and left a note with the words 'Dark Requiem' written on it. The first group only had a branch commander in it, so Taewon didn't really care about it at first. He thought the idiot just provoked someone he shouldn't have and paid the price. The loss of a mid-order warrior wasn't nothing, but it didn't compare to the loss of an entire branch. That said, it was at most a mild irritation. If only it had ended there.

He received news of a second branch being wiped out just as he was sending out a group to stabilize the first branch. Again a note with 'Dark Requiem' written on it was found at the scene. He nearly tore his shirt when he received the news. He sent people around asking about this Dark Requiem but they couldn't find even the shakiest rumors no matter how hard they looked. If he was of a more religious mind, he would have been convinced the figure had fallen from heaven.

Did the heavens send him to mess with me?! he thought, a chill running down his spine.

Several of the brotherhood's larger branches were wiped out in the days that followed. Some were poisoned, others were killed in their sleep -- most's throats were slit-- the most laughable death took place during a cleanup operation. A new branch nearby, made up entirely of newbies, rebelled and he left to quell it. He was found dead a few days ago. Taewon refused to believe the greenhorn rebels were the ones responsible.

It must be an experienced mid-order assassin.

Dark Requiem might have wiped out seven branches in a fortnight, but Taewon didn't think much of him. Apart from the first instance, he'd not faced any of his targets head on. His tactics were those of a weakling punching above his weight. They were effective, but showed that he wasn't a match for his targets in a fair fight. The first report might have cause him some pause, but he didn't think the report was accurate. What assassin was dumb enough to take on a whole branch in a face-to-face clash when he clearly wasn't strong enough? He might be an experienced assassin, but he wasn't very strong, mid-order at most. Taewon controlled all of the brotherhood and he was only a high-level mid-order, so this assassin had to be quite a fair bit weaker than him.

The thought that this mysterious figure might actually be able to fight and kill high-order opponents never even came close to crossing the yard, nevermind crossing Taewon's mind. In fact, he would think it completely delusional to even entertain the thought that this Dark Requiem didn't barge into the branches because he couldn't be bothered rather than not having the strength.

The brotherhood's recent losses were finally getting big enough to cause a stir among his subordinates. The province's other bandits were also now eyeing their territory and assets. Were this just a fortnight earlier, he would have slapped them across the face for their idiocy. But now? He couldn't no matter how much he wanted.

How the f*ck did I irritate this bastard?

How could he know his life's work was being wiped out over three fingers? What would he say if he did?

"Boss, tonight's the negotiation with Blackjack. He's teetering on the edge as well," Loden chimed.

Taewon trusted the man implicitly. He'd been his aide for over two years. He was responsible for managing all the tedious day-to-day stuff of the group and had a real knack for the stuff.

"I know," Taewon nodded.

"How many will you take with you?"

"This is my territory. I'll just take a few elites as a show of force. Blackjack doesn't dare actually do anything."

Blackjack was only a mid-order warrior, and the strongest in his gang. He would not dare take on Taewon, even if he were dumb enough, neither he nor his gang had the strength to face Taewon and the brotherhood even in its current weakened state.

"Dark Requiem's forced us into a corner. Blackjack must have something ready to trouble us. It'd be best to take a few more just to be safe."

"Fine. Pick the people you want to go with me."

"Alright. We can leave in half an hour." Loden nodded and left.

An hour later, the two crime bosses met. Blackjack was a tall, reedy fellow. His face was cracked by a disgusting smile and he acted like a pretentious noble. Taewon hated this about him the most. The people in their line of work were piles of shit. They might be kings of their mountains, but they were still mountains of shit. They could climb the biggest one in the area and stand tall enough to look nobles in the eyes, but they could never hide the fact that they were still covered in the shit and the nobles weren't. But Blackjack did not seem to know this.

"I'd like to thank you for the opportunity, Taewon," Blackjack spouted, greeting like a noble. His slender form covered in leather made him look like a monkey bending down to check his bananas.

"Get to the point, Blackjack. For what did you drag me over here?"

Both factions' headquarters were in Kent's inner city and both owned a number of places in the city they could have used for this meeting. There was no reason for them to be meeting outside the city. Blackjack's reasoning was beyond him. Was the idiot really going to start a fight? This might be a trap, but Taewon couldn't chicken out -- everyone was staring at him. If he didn't show, it would be taken as a sign of the brotherhood's weakness and everyone would go after them. Even a lion, if injured, could be killed and eaten by hyenas.

Taewon inspected his surroundings. Blackjack had brought quite a few men along, but, thanks to Loden's suggestion, Taewon had also brought out almost all the elites in Kent. Even if a fight broke out, he didn't have to be afraid of losing.

"I admit I was the one that wanted to meet, but you were the one that picked the spot. I wanted to meet in one of our brothers in the city, but you insisted we meet here."

"Are you f*cking messing with me? When did I mention the spot of our meeting?!"

"Hey! Your aid told me personally. Are you telling me he isn't your aid?!" Blackjack humphed coldly. He didn't think Taewon would refuse to admit something this trivial. He didn't like the man's tone at all. He had a lot of subordinates with him; his reputation would be damaged if he didn't react sternly.

"Loden!" Taewon shouted, "Were you the one who told him I wanted to meet here?!"

"I just conveyed Blackjack's request! Blackjack, did you forget what you said? You told me it wouldn't be fair to meet in either of our territories. You were the one that suggested we meet outside the city!"

"When did I say anything like that?! Taewon, we've been toyed with."

"Boss! I've followed you for years and did whatever I could without dissatisfying you! Do you still remember?!"

Loden shuffled to Taewon's side and whispered.

"Blackjack must be trying to get rid of me and weaken the brotherhood even further!"

Taewon shook his head.

"Loden has been my subordinate for years. I trust him over some rival gang's boss."

"So you don't trust me then?"

"I never trusted you. We're here to negotiate. It doesn't matter where, so just get to it!"

"Business?" Blackjack laugh, "You brought so many men here and dragged me out to the wilderness to talk business? You think I'm a fool?!"

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