"What do you mean, Blackjack?!" Loden roared, "You intentionally led us here and blamed it all on us. Do you think Bloodhand is so weak anybody can just take advantage of us as they please?!"
"You know who is responsible for this!" Blackjack cried, before he gave Bloodhand's men a glance, "Hmph! If I'm not mistaken, you brought all the elites in your group. I'd like to ask, Taewon, why you bothered even though it's only a small negotiation about the commercial street?"
"Oh, so you're saying you're not doing the same thing?" Taewon barked, "Look how many men you brought!"
"I'm just being wary," Blackjack shrugged, "You did call me out to the wilderness. I had to bring more people just in case you were planning to pull something."
"Boss, it won't be easy to leave amicably today," Loden whispered, "It seems Blackjack brought us here on purpose. I'm afraid he's not here to negotiate."
"I can tell," Taewon answered in a low voice, "What do you think we should do?"
"Blackjack isn't stupid enough to take us with only the men we see now. He must have some hiding nearby. It'd be best to strike and deal with them before they catch us."
Taewon knew this couldn't be allowed to drag on.
"Ready our brothers and wait for my signal."
"Understood," Loden replied, his head lowered as he backed off. He secretly gestured oddly with his thumb and index finger behind his back.
Bloodhand had its secret set of signals. 'Prepare to act' was the meaning of the current one. Taewon had brought five mid-order warriors and a dozen others near mid-order. They were Bloodhand's elite and often tagged along. Naturally, they'd experienced quite a bit and didn't really react much when they saw the signal. Some, however, rubbed their shoes together while others stretched to make it seem like they were tired from standing. A few even stretched their hands into their clothes to scratch pretend itches. While it appeared to be coincidental and inconsequential, those in the know knew their hands now held weapons.
" think we have a misunderstanding," Taewon said, "Loden explained to me the one who informed me was a new face. Are you sure it wasn't you?"
"I'm sure," Blackjack answered, shaking his head.
"Then there's been a misunderstanding somewhere. It's no big deal. What do you say we start negotiating now?"
"Of course. I came here because I wanted to talk about the commercial street."
"How much of the profit do you want?" Taewon inquired, his hands behind his back as he gradually approached his opponent, "I admit Bloodhand probably can't hold on to the street now. I can let you take some of the profit, but I can only give so much. How about a tenth?"
"Are you kidding, Taewon?" Blackjack laughed, "One-tenth isn't sincere."
"Then how much do you want?"
"Half. This is the only fair share."
"Heh, a lion cub shouldn't open its mouth too wide. Half? How's that different from robbing us outright?"
"Bloodhand can at most hold on to half the street in its current state. We're taking advantage of the situation, yes, but you have to admit you're nowhere near as strong as you used to be."
"I have a counteroffer you should seriously consider."
"Come closer. We cannot let prying ears hear it."
Blackjack glanced at his subordinates and walked over.
"We are within earshot, speak." The two were in the middle of the stretch of no-man's-land between the two groups, roughly ten meters from each side.
"I can give you two tenths."
Blackjack frowned. Just as he was about to speak, Taewon stretched out his hand.
"Naturally, that's not all. I can give you something else."
"What?" Blackjack's ears perked up. Bloodhand might have something appealing other than the street.
Taewon beckoned for Blackjack to get closer.
"That is..." he whispered.
Two cold flashes intersected in the air and the sound of metal clashing rang out. In Taewon's hand was an incredibly sharp dagger. Blackjack held an oddly shaped scimitar.
Unlike Blackjack, Taewon fought in a heavy-handed style, so the dagger wasn't his best weapon. Blackjack excelled at speed and dexterity, so he was most suited to be an assassin. If the latter had been armed with a dagger, Taewon would've been heavily injured. However, the fool had chosen the odd-looking scimitar and given up on the more flexible dagger for the sake of looks. The two were wielding weapons they could not use dexterously. Though Taewon was no expert at surprise attacks, their levels differed, which evened out the clash. Neither held an advantage.
"I knew you were going to attack! How shameless!" The two cursed in unison. "Attack!"
"Go, brothers!" roared Loden as he led the charge. However, the sneaky bastard slowed down intentionally. So, though he was the first to charge, he was in the rear when the two groups clashed.
The battle was immediately intense. Impetus flew all over in waves. The two gangs had both sent their elites, but there was still some variance in each's strength. Quite a few weaker combatants were sent flying and turned into minced meat. Blood flowers bloomed immediately as life after life ended like wheat harvested by Death. But, as they watched friend and foe alike fall, Taewon and Blackjack didn't move. They observed their adversaries alertly. How could the weaklings possibly involve themselves in a fight between 13th-stratum and 14-stratum fighters?
One of the goons behind Taewon handed him an axe. He was far better at it.
"I cut your stomach half a year ago and your guts almost spilled out. Why did you come for death so quickly?" Taewon asked.
"I'm forgetful, you see," Blackjack chuckled. He clutched two scimitars now, one in each hand. The weapon's full potential could only be unleashed when he used two.
"You ignorant, death-seeking fool!" Taewon roared as he rushed at his opponent.
Blackjack gulped and thought about their last fight as he watched the berserker charge at him. His opponent only suffered some light injuries last time while he nearly lost his innards. Though he was impetuous, he wasn't an amnesiac. He could not hold his current position if he were. Blackjack felt a rush of fear when Taewon began his charge, but when he thought about the other person, a horrifying surge of fear filled his heart. The fear overcame his aversion to facing his opponent and boosted his confidence slightly. He roared and charged at his opponent.
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