Ah, ah, testing.
I asked him.
“Who’d win if you fought with the Fighting King (拳王)?”
When I asked this question, his arrogant face showed some interest.
“You came all the way here to ask just that?”
“It’s an important matter to me.”
He looked like he wanted to pass on my question, but he soon began to muse upon my question.
And after a long time passed, he slowly opened his mouth.
“If I’m willing to sacrifice myself a bit, I would win.”
“By sacrifice you mean…?”
“I should be willing to give up a leg or an arm at least.”
He nodded after giving it some more thought.
“I guarantee it.”
I took out my writing tools, and drew one stroke on my paper.
And then I asked another question.
“What would happen if you fought against the Sabre King (刀王)?”
He smirked and without even giving it a thought, spoke:
“Again, I’d win.”
“Without any loss?”
“He didn’t even reach the wall yet. If I were to fight him right now, I’d win without any loss.”
“What if he did reach the wall?”
“Then like before, I’d have to sacrifice a limb to win.”
“So you’re confident you’d win no matter what.”
I drew another stroke on the paper.
And I asked a new question.
“Do you think you’d win if you went up against the Sword King (劍王)?”
He started to ponder upon the question again.
But unlike before, this time he contemplated the question even longer than before.
And after a while, he carefully laid out his words.
“Probably a tie resulting in heavy injuries on both sides.”
I stopped my hand reaching for the brush, and asked:
“The Beast King (野獸王), who is said to fear none under the heavens, doesn’t know if he would win or not in this battle?”
His face wrinkled in displeasure when I provoked him.
“The Sword King reached the limits of his power. He’s like me. In that case, not even god would be able to predict the results of our battle. The results of the battle will be decided on who has more willpower, or who is at the peak condition.”
“If the Sword King was at the peak condition?”
The Beast King.
Gu Hui answered my question with a bitter expression.
“In that case, the probability of my death would be quite high.”
Unlike last time, I took the brush and made a vertical stroke on the paper.
The Beast King, who was staring at my paper with a curious expression, asked me a question.
“Is that the material you’ll be using for your work?”
“Yes. I’ll be ranking the Kings based on this.”
“It is an interesting concept. I am genuinely interested by it. Will you show me when you are finished?”
“Of course. Your status allows you to be able to acquire something like this.”
Beast King Gu Hui.
His arrogant face showed a satisfied expression for the first time.
I jabbed a question at him as I looked at his face.
“What would the results be if you fought King Shura (修羅王)?”
His face became those of bewilderment.
The fact that the man who was said to be able to take on anything in the world showed this face surprised me, and so I was staring at this face with great enthusiasm.
And after a few moments, he answered me with a reluctant face.
“I don’t know about the other guys, but I really don’t want to fight him.”
He answered me with an unclear statement, unlike with all the other questions.
So I asked him a different question to clarify.
“Then… are you saying that you’d lose to him?”
“I don’t know. I think it’s a little different than that…”
He started thinking a bit while stroking his beard, and nodded.
“Yes, it would be alright to put it like that, I suppose.”
This time, I was the one to show a bewildered face.
The Beast King, after seeing my face, showed a strange expression, and asked me a question.
“I’m wondering. You went to the other guys before coming to me, yes? What did they say about Shura?”
I closed my mouth.
It wasn’t time to disclose this information to the public yet.
“…..You’ll see when I finish my work in the future.”
“Really? What a pity.”
He backed down unexpectedly easily.
I thought he’d be more assertive about it…
I stood up and left, leaving behind the Beast King, who had a strange grin etched onto his face.
I did accomplish the goal that I came to Nanman (南蠻) for.
But there still was a very annoying problem left at hand.
‘To think that everyone in the Four Kings(四大天王) would all say the same thing…’
I looked at the name “King Shura” written on the paper, and my face contorted into that of annoyance.
The Four Kings.
The ones who strive to become the strongest all said the exact same thing.
An enemy they did not wish to fight.
An enemy they would all most likely lose to if they fought head-on.
And after their answer, each of the Four Kings would ask the same question the Beast King asked, with the same grin on their faces.
How did the other Kings answer this question?
What did this mean?
What’s the meaning hidden behind those smiles?
‘Is there something else about him that I should know about?’
I drew a vertical stroke on the paper with an irritated face.
King Shura, Cho Ryu Hyang.
Because of this one man, the completion of my work was delayed greatly.
The man that made me the most frustrated.
The man that appeared in the world rankings at the youngest age, and shook the heavens greatly.
I adjusted his rankings a little, and closed the paper.
The work I started as a joke at first, was now completed.
– The Martial World Sequence Records (江湖序列錄)’s author, Neng Ha Young (冷夏榮).
This story was found in her memoirs.
I like the phrase “Equivalent exchange”.
It means that if one gives something to another, he/she would receive something of equal value.
It really is obvious, but there is no such thing as “free” in the world.
If there’s something gained, there’s something that is also lost.
If I think about it, I gained this insight at a very young age.