The Novel's Villain - Chapter 137
39. Your Head is Stiff(3)
As Lee Min-woo regained his confidence, the Frontline Group regained its vitality. Lee Min-woo, now a Phoenix, was no longer the weak person he used to be. He was a tyrant.
Lee Min-woo ran the organization stronger than Chairman Lee Hee-jin, and the executives started to feel like they were dying. As his vitality and passion were always unrelenting, the executives of the Frontline Group had no choice but to suffer silently. Lee Min-woo was also a hot topic in Elonti. The elves even gave him the glorious title of Rebirth Flame. Thanks to Lee Min-woo, there were more and more elves who had growing crushes on Earthlings.
Jin-woo spent a little more time on Earth; then he went straight back to the East World. Arcana went back and forth between the Sanctuary and the East World, while the General Manager, Lilith, and the Succubae stayed in Jin-hu. Since Jin-woo gave the General Manager a reward and some extra vacation time, he enjoyed East World to his heart’s content. Thanks to this, rumors spread that Jin-hu had many beauties.
Jin-woo also heard the occasional bit of news about Nangong Hui and Nangong Xiao-yan.
‘I thought they were going home because of that incident…’
The Nangong siblings hadn’t been seen for several days, but from what he heard, they were still staying in Jin-hu. He heard their faces were a little emaciated, but he thought it was from the shock of almost being beaten by sex maniacs. The original work didn’t mention what happened to her, but the author did mention her lifespan was shortened, and she had a trauma that was difficult to heal even with the protagonist’s help.
The General Manager reported to Jin-woo.
“It seems that the Èyun Imperial Clan has started moving.”
“They can’t let it easily slide. It’s getting interesting.”
“We have given sufficient compensation to those who have been damaged by the Xiawu Sect so far.”
The Xiawu Sect was much more tenacious and vicious than expected. They took control of the commercial district by running a loan shark business, and they even assassinated people who slandered them. All the Xiawu Sect’s warehouses were opened to provide sufficient compensation to the victims and their families.
‘The original commercial district itself has died.’
Thanks to the Xiawu Sect’s vicious management, only flies could be found there. Fortunately, some business started flowing again thanks to the guesthouses and restaurants with the General Manager’s secret recipes.
“What would you like to do?”
“It’s something I started, so I want to take responsibility until the end.”
There were quite a few empty buildings.
“Since you’re doing it, shouldn’t you do it properly?”
The General Manager quietly bowed his head in response to Jin-woo. The East World in the original story was a tragic world filled with only sorrowful stories. Fathers and daughters misunderstood and blamed each other, and teachers and their disciples disagreed with each other. It was a mixture of all sorts of tragic stories.
Nangong So-yeon and the other good supporting characters rolled around, but they died for nothing thanks to the protagonist. It felt like it would be okay to breathe a little vitality into such a world.
‘Let’s do whatever I want.’
It was the greatest rebellion against the author, and Jin-woo was a Great Emperor who could do just that. Jin-woo proceeded quickly and calmly through the General Manager. When he expressed his opinion, the General Manager and Lilith acted immediately. Rather, the problem was that their motivation and passion were ahead by about 500%, but Jin-hu was changing very quickly already.
Occasionally, members of the Golden Women’s Association also visited the East World. After their secret discussion, the attitude of the Women’s Association members had actively changed. Choi Hee-yeon was particularly mesmerized as soon as she arrived in the East World. How could she not know this martial arts fantasy as a sword-wielder?
Among the stories that the Sword Master often told her, there were many stories about the martial arts world. So this place was special, and she liked it. She was kept quite busy as she was the youngest member of the Golden Women’s Association. She organized discussion sessions, coordinated schedules, and cleaned up. She was even in charge of preparing for the next meeting.
Yet, in the midst of that, she often came to the East World. She had no choice but to come more often because Jin-woo was there.
“Thank you for preparing clothes.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Choi Hee-yeon changed her clothes after hearing from the General Manager that she should pay attention to her appearance.
“General Manager, where is Sir Jin-woo?”
The General Manager was smiling while looking at Hua-ran, who looked happy wearing her new clothes. He was teaching Hua-ran many things, taking a much different approach from when he taught Arcana.
“Hmm, he went to the shopping district. Do you have any business with him, Lady Choi?”
“Well, it’s not like that…”
As Choi Hee-yeon hesitated, the General Manager nodded.
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“Ah… right. Well… General Manager, I heard that you could tell me about his favorability.”
The General Manager knew Jin-woo’s favorability toward the Golden Women’s Association through his power of loyalty. He closed his eyes and focused his mind. The moment he opened them again, a light flashed from him.
“Is it high?”
67% was about the level of a colleague whom he wanted to take good care of. It was okay as a friend, but it was far from the level of a lover. The General Manager looked at Choi Hee-yeon, who staggered backward.
“Keep it in mind. Master is very affectionate, so he is weak against a pushy style. Make sure you hit that point well. Everything is difficult at first, but once you get used to it, it’s nothing. You must build your own identity.”
The General Manager’s strategy to attack Jin-woo was very valuable. Choi Hee-yeon engraved his teachings in her heart. When Choi Hee-yeon went outside wearing her determination openly, Hua-ran glanced at her before turning to the General Manager.
“She is someone with a fresh energy.”
“My, you saw it well. You have a great eye.”
Hua-ran smiled lightly at the General Manager’s praise.
The General Manager wished Choi Hee-yeon good luck.
By the time Choi Hee-yeon made her decision, Nangong Xiao-yan and Nangong Hui also left their room. They had stayed in Jin-hu for much longer than they originally planned. Èyun Qi and Gan Ji-chuan were being monitored by the warriors of the Martial Arts League upon hearing the news. The Blue Dragon Association was the rising star of the prestigious political faction and the Five Great Families, and Nangong Hui was one of their members.
As they left, their faces were emaciated from their mental hardships. The two siblings went out into the street, ready to look for Jin-woo and write the Gourmet Guide in earnest. The only thing that the Leader of the Martial Arts League looked forward to in his later years was the Gourmet Guide. The leaders of the Nine Schools and One Sect also enjoyed it, but these days, some said it was boring.
Nangong Hui understood that feeling.
‘For Xiao-yan to write an opinion on the leader’s level…’
The Nangong Imperial Clan was a prestigious family that produced many masters from generation to generation. The head of the family, Nangong Min, was called the Sword Emperor and held a huge influence on the White Path. Even Nangong Hui was called the Heavenly Sword and was set to become the next leader of the Blue Dragon Association.
Nangong Xiao-yan couldn’t master martial arts because of the Nine Yin Severed Meridians disease, but her understanding was very good. She was a master of taste, said to be the best in her field.
‘The world of flavor is as wide as the world of martial arts. A place where even the Leader of the Martial Arts League is treated as a beginner…!’
Nangong Hui clenched his fist. He only ate energy bars for training, so he was still a beginner. How could the Leader of the Martial Arts League try to enter the world of flavor in earnest after retirement? Nangong Xiao-yan was a master who was recognized by everyone.
The story of the Heavenly Man of Hundred Kinds made Xiao-yan’s heart warm. He was part of the reason she came to Jin-hu. If the rumors that the heavenly taste wasn’t true, she would destroy it mercilessly! Nangong Xiao-yan’s body was weak, but she was second to none in determination.
“This guest house is full. If we make a reservation, I guess we’ll have to wait two days…”
“Brother, over there…!”
“I can smell it.”
Nangong Xiao-yan’s head turned in the other direction. Nangong Hui followed her as she rushed ahead.
‘It’s coming from over there. Is it a good place?’
It had been a long time since Nangong Xiao-yan experienced such a violent reaction. It was even greater than the time she visited the guesthouse on the Yangtze River.
Nangong Xiao-yan headed to a street that had been empty until recently. She thought it would be a bit dangerous because it was under the Xiawu Sect’s influence, but luckily there were quite a few people around. The warriors of the Martial Arts League were also wandering Jin-hu, so there seemed to be no major problems.
Something strangely fogged around her and disappeared, but Nangong Xiao-yan’s pursuit was unstoppable.
[Nangong Xiao-yan passes through the barrier with her excellent sense of smell.]
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As she closed her eyes and walked onward, relying on her sense of smell, the fog disappeared. If Nangong Hui had come alone, he might have been lost in it.
Nangong Xiao-yan’s voice rang out loudly. A sign with a unique font reading, ‘Heavenly Golden Tea,’ where she pointed. Nangong Hui was overwhelmed when he saw the signboard. How could it be written so accurately and neatly? There was no sense of humanity or emotion at all.
‘It must have been written by a master who threw away the Five Desires and Seven Emotions!’
Nangong Hui was shocked, staring at the sign blankly. Nangong Xiao-yan hesitated as if she felt something unusual.
‘It’s a style I’ve never seen before. Is it a tea house?’
The exterior was of a familiar style, but a brief glimpse of the interior revealed it to be full of things she had never seen before. As she was evaluating the exterior of the tea house, someone walked out proudly. She was a beautiful woman that exuded a cold impression. She was Choi Hee-yeon, who came to visit Jin-woo.
Of course, Nangong Xiao-yan didn’t know her.
‘Tsk, I can tell she is a beginner.’
Nangong Xiao-yan evaluated Choi Hee-yeon like that. It was obvious that she was a beginner as she looked around outside for a while. Nangong Xiao-yan smiled and followed her inside. No one could respond flexibly in such an unfamiliar store. A master could order like a regular guest immediately after noting the smell and ambiance. As the author of the Gourmet Guide, she was a master like no other.
She had already mastered tea, of course.
‘I have to take the lead.’
Nangong Xiao-yan thought so and followed her inside. She stepped in with such determination but soon felt embarrassed.
‘H-how can this be!? H-how can’t… I know none of it at all!’
She knew everything about tea, but she couldn’t get a sense of this place, growing increasingly embarrassed by these new scents. If even she were embarrassed, how poorly would the woman who entered first be doing?
“Can I have a café mocha?”
“Yes, I made a lot of desserts before opening too. Do you want some?”
“Thank you. Then, I’ll have the cheesecake, please.”
Nangong Xiao-yan’s mouth opened. She casually threw out a lot of incomprehensible words. She was the one who traveled everywhere and visited countless restaurants and tea houses. She had always been a trendsetter, and many new attractions had been born at her hands. But for the first time in her life, she was lagging miserably behind!
Nangong Xiao-yan felt afraid as the training she had built up so far collapsed before her eyes. Anger and sorrow filled her.
“May I help you?”
After completing her order, Choi Hee-yeon looked at Nangong Xiao-yan, standing still, then she approached. It was her first time seeing Nangong Xiao-yan, but seeing that she was standing here, it appeared clear that she had something to do with Jin-woo.
Nangong Xiao-yan was angry, but she had no choice but to nod. Choi Hee-yeon took her to the order counter.
“How about something sweet?”
“Yes. I-I’d love that.”
“Ah, then how about this…”
Nangong Xiao-yan was greatly shocked. She chose according to her taste. The teahouses she visited usually had custom recipes, but not to this extent. Unknown terms scratched at Nangong Xiao-yan in passing. She desperately tried to memorize and understand them all. However, she couldn’t keep up with even a bit of it.
‘B-but it’s useless if it doesn’t suit my taste!’
There was a chance to counterattack. Nangong Xiao-yan calmly aimed for that opportunity. Choi Hee-yeon smiled and sat down at her seat, and Xiao-yan leisurely and deliberately sat opposite her. Choi Hee-yeon’s order came out first, and she looked so familiar with it. Nangong Xiao-yan felt overwhelmed by her relaxed atmosphere. Her fingertips trembled as if she had a tiger crouched in front of her.
‘This humiliation… I will judge cruelly!’
Nangong Xiao-yan licked her lips, a harsh light in her eyes. The tea and dishes she ordered came out soon. It was the first time she had seen anything like it. First of all, the teacup was beautiful, the surface impossibly glossy and smooth.
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She shook her head hard and raised the cup, letting the steam waft over her. The sweet scent captivated her, intoxicating her with its scent until she almost collapsed.
It was sweet! She had tried quite a few sweets, but this was on a different level. It was warm and sweet, as if melting her whole body. She felt like she was playing in the sky like a fairy. She couldn’t hide her excitement as her eyes turned to the mysterious dish that came out alongside it.
Mimicking Choi Hee-yeon, she picked up the small spoon, took a little bit of it, and gently bit into it.
She dropped the spoon.
Nangong Xiao-yan shouted, unable to control it. A slightly bitter yet savory flavor captured the sweetness in her mouth in a nearly perfect combination. She barely suppressed her pounding heart.
It was a complete defeat. She, who had always been a winner since entering the world of flavor and food, had been defeated. Moreover, she lost overwhelmingly without even having time to respond.
Nangong Xiao-yan looked at Choi Hee-yeon. She nodded slightly and smiled as they made eye contact. She was a generous woman, but Nangong Xiao-yan felt shy. She wanted to bury herself in a hole.
‘Let’s get to the basics…’
It was said that most masters appeared rather ordinary. This was a chance that would never come again!
Nangong Xiao-yan stood and moved to be beside Choi Hee-yeon. When Choi Hee-yeon looked up with puzzlement, Nangong Xiao-yan knelt.
“Thank you for giving me enlightenment. I am Nangong Xiao-yan of the Nangong Imperial Clan.”
“I hope you can teach me this junior who is still lacking.”
Nangong Xiao-yan was about to bow to Choi Hee-yeon.
“Please let me serve you as my teacher!”
“I will not move a single step until you accept me as your disciple! There’s not much time left… but I’ll give all my life to learning.”
Choi Hee-yeon was confused.
“P-please stand first.”
“Does that mean you are accepting me?”
Nangong Xiao-yan was on the verge of tears. Choi Hee-yeon nodded without realizing it. Then, Nangong Xiao-yan immediately brightened.
“Teacher! I’m bowing to you!”
Nangong Xiao-yan bowed with the utmost courtesy. Nangong Hui, who came to his senses shortly after, arrived inside. He was surprised to see Nangong Xiao-yan bowing, so he tried to approach her, but he had no choice but to stop again. This was because he saw Lilith standing behind the counter.
His heart wouldn’t listen as it was thrown out of order. He barely controlled his expression as he approached.
“I am Nangong Hui of the Nangong Imperial Clan.”
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Lilith looked at Nangong Hui.
‘Is he Master’s guest? He’s cute.’
She thought he was a cute human. However, he looked so fragile.