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    As the front line was annihilated by the crossfire of the long guns, the soldiers stood frozen in place, merely observing the situation.

    “This won’t do!”

    Sensing the crisis, the head of the Sindwa family shouted at the soldiers.

    “To the first one who crosses the gate of the Ottaibis, I will give a reward of 100 gold coins! I swear it in the name of Allah!”

    “Uwaah!”

    At the leader’s words, the soldiers roared again and stepped forward. 100 gold coins was a large sum that would allow one to live idly for a lifetime.

    The leader continued to encourage the soldiers.

    “Charge! Charge! The wealth of the Ottaibis is ours! Charge!”

    “It takes time to reload the cannons! Use that gap! Charge!”

    “Uwaaaaah!”

    The soldiers shouted and suppressed the fear they had felt just moments ago.

    ‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance anyway!’

    “Charge! Charge!”

    The head of the Sindwa family waved his sword in the air and shouted like a madman.

    ***

    “That fellow over there, the one shouting on the horse, he seems quite high-ranking. Who is he?”

    At Oh Ha-seok’s question, Mansur narrowed his eyes and examined the person in question.

    After staring intently, Mansur gritted his teeth and answered.

    “He’s the head of the Sindwa family.”

    “So, the ringleader who started this mess?”

    “That’s right.”

    “In that case…”

    Oh Ha-seok picked up the armored long rifle he had set aside and aimed it.

    “Isn’t it too far?”

    “It’s enough.”

    Answering briefly, Oh Ha-seok controlled his breathing.

    ***

    “Leader! It’s dangerous!”

    “You’ve gone too far forward!”

    At the elders’ warning, the head of the Sindwa family sneered.

    He knew he had stepped forward, but he was outside the range of arrows.

    “Hmph! At this distance, even an elephant can’t…”

    Bang~.

    The head of the Sindwa family fell from his horse before he could finish his sentence. At the same time, a distant gunshot was heard.

    “Leader!”

    “Leader!”

    The elders of the Sindwa family rushed to the leader’s side. However, the leader, with a hole in his forehead, lay motionless with his eyes wide open.

    “Oh no…”

    “Oh dear…”

    As the elders were at a loss due to the unexpected tragedy, another loud explosion was heard from the direction of the square.

    Kaboom!

    In the end, the battle that day ended with the defeat of the Sindwa family.

    The Sindwa family lost nearly half of their mobilized forces—about 100 died, and a similar number were severely injured—and to make matters worse, they suffered a fatal loss with the death of their leader.

    ***

    With the battle ending in the defeat of the Sindwa family, a storm of blood swept through Aden.

    The Sindwa family was the target of that storm.

    The two families that had joined hands with the Sindwa family attacked them.

    With the leader dead without properly determining a successor and more than half of their soldiers lost, the Sindwa family was a delicious prey for them.

    In the end, the Sindwa family collapsed less than half a month after their defeat in the battle against the Ottaibis.

    The families that devoured the Sindwa family began to catch their breath for a moment to digest what they had consumed.

    In the rapidly changing situation, the Ottaibi, Azzam, and Zayed families, feeling the threat to their survival, had no choice but to unite even more firmly.

    ***

    “…So, Aden is currently split in two. The Azzam and Zayed families have even moved their base near our family, and we are in a situation where we are building defensive walls surrounding the three families.”

    “Is the situation that dangerous?”

    At Hassan’s question, Mansur and the elders nodded silently.

    Mansur, moistening his throat with a sip of tea, continued.

    “That’s why we need firearms. It would be nice to obtain large cannons, but we need to acquire a large quantity of the firearms we obtained last time. Those were the ones that played the biggest role in the previous battle.”

    Mansur was greatly impressed by the power of the long guns utilizing pellet shots.

    Mansur and the elders were completely captivated by the charm of firearms in the desperate struggle against pirates and the battle with the Sindwa family.

    Hearing the story, Hassan’s face turned troubled.

    “I understand the leader’s words and the crisis facing the family, but it’s not an easy matter. Firearms are the most important weapons in both Ming China and Joseon.”

    “I’m well aware of that. So please, let me meet with the Crown Prince.”

    “You mean His Highness the Crown Prince?”

    At Hassan’s question, Mansur nodded.

    “If we can persuade the Crown Prince, can’t we also persuade the king?”

    “Sigh~.”

    At Mansur’s words, Hassan let out a long sigh.

    After pondering silently for a while, Hassan spoke.

    “Have you already informed the Joseon military officers who accompanied you?”

    “I did. But the reaction wasn’t good.”

    “That’s to be expected. As I said before, firearms are the most crucial weapons.”

    “That’s why…”

    Hassan interrupted Mansur’s words.

    “However, the military officers will definitely submit a report on the matter. And His Majesty will either summon you immediately or provide an answer. You must wait until then.”

    At Hassan’s answer, Mansur raised his voice.

    “Isn’t that why I’m asking you to arrange a meeting with the Crown Prince, as there’s a high possibility of it being rejected!”

    “Meeting the Crown Prince directly may worsen the situation! Last autumn, there was a rebellion in Joseon.”

    “A rebellion?”

    “A rebellion, you say?”

    As Hassan mentioned “rebellion,” the faces of Mansur and the elders stiffened. Hassan lightly nodded and continued.

    “Yes. Local nobles who disregarded His Majesty’s royal authority rebelled. The rebellion was thoroughly crushed, and anything that threatens the royal authority is strictly forbidden in the current situation. But meeting the Crown Prince instead of His Majesty? This is an act of disregarding His Majesty’s authority. Doing so will turn even feasible matters unfeasible.”

    “Oh no…”

    At Hassan’s answer, Mansur and the elders couldn’t hide their regret.

    For a king, any action that disregarded his authority was an unforgivable act. And the prince who would succeed him was also the most formidable competitor.

    That was why Mansur and the elders couldn’t conceal their disappointment.

    Seeing the faces of Mansur and the elders, Hassan concluded.

    “Therefore, for now, focus only on trade while maintaining a friendly relationship. During that time, the military officer’s report will be submitted, and an opportunity will surely come.”

    “I understand.”

    ***

    As Hassan said, the report written by Oh Ha-seok was immediately delivered to Sejong through the Ministry of Military Affairs.

    It had to be delivered so quickly because of the battle that took place in Aden and the firearms requested by the Ottaibi family.

    After reading the entire report, Sejong ordered the eunuch.

    “Go and summon the Crown Prince.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    “And you, ministers, read this report thoroughly.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    By the time the ministers of the Six Ministries, except for Jo Mal-saeng, and the Chief State Councilors had finished reviewing the report, Hyang arrived.

    “Father, did you call for me?”

    “Yes. I thought I should hear your judgment as well, so I summoned you. Let’s read the report first and then discuss.”

    “Yes, Father.”

    ***

    Phew~.”

    After quickly reading the contents of the report, Hyang let out a long sigh and put down the report.

    “So, what do you think?”

    “I would like to hear the opinions of the ministers.”

    At Hyang’s words, Sejong nodded.

    “Indeed. That would be the natural course. What are your thoughts, ministers?”

    The first to answer Sejong’s question was Heo Jo.

    “I believe we should prohibit the sale of firearms. Firearms are an important weapon of Joseon. Selling them to barbarians would bring more harm than good.”

    As soon as Heo Jo finished speaking, Kim Jeom stepped forward.

    “I believe we should sell the firearms. They are important trade partners to us.”

    At Kim Jeom’s words, Heo Jo became agitated.

    “Look here, Minister of Taxation! No matter how important they are as trade partners, there are lines that should not be crossed! Firearms cross that line! Moreover, we also have Ming China and Japan as trade partners!”

    In response to Heo Jo’s words, Kim Jeom immediately countered.

    “Considering the growing production capacity of Joseon, Ming China and Japan alone have limitations! We need more and more trading countries!”

    Having refuted Heo Jo’s words, Kim Jeom directly appealed to Sejong.

    “Your Majesty! The commerce and industry of Joseon are growing in size! If we consider the future of Joseon, we must further expand that size, but Ming China and Japan have limitations!”

    “What is the reason for that?”

    At Sejong’s question, Kim Jeom promptly answered.

    “I’m not sure about Japan, but Ming China has many craftsmen with skills on par with Joseon’s craftsmen.”

    “That’s true.”

    At Kim Jeom’s point, Sejong and the ministers all nodded.

    What Joseon could make, Ming China could also make.

    That was why Hyang had to lure Emperor Xuande.

    Looking at the current situation, apart from glass products and soap, there was nothing that Ming couldn’t catch up to without the protection of the apricot flower emblem.

    Of course, there were various gunpowders developed by Hyang, but these were items that weren’t even sold in the first place.

    Seeing the reaction of Sejong and the ministers, Kim Jeom gradually put more strength into his voice.

    “Therefore, Joseon must listen to the request of the Ottaibi family. This is also essential for Joseon’s future advancement into the distant oceans! Aden, where the Ottaibi family is located, will become a place that Joseon absolutely needs!”

    “Absolutely necessary? Why?”

    “Because of the Hui people and Alexandria reported by military official Oh Ha-seok. Alexandria is where the large market where merchants from the Western world gather is located. We must secure Aden to secure the route to Alexandria!”

    “Hmm…”

    At Kim Jeom’s passionate speech, Sejong nodded.

    Watching the scene from the side, Hyang cheered for Kim Jeom in his heart.

    ‘Well done, our side! Fight, our side! Win, our side!’

    “Does the Minister of Taxation believe that Joseon has benefits in advancing that far?”

    As Heo Jo questioned again, Kim Jeom instead asked back.

    “Has the Minister of Law Enforcement not even heard the rumors? The rumors that the large ships they brought are even bigger than Joseon Navy’s panokseon?”

    At that time, the largest ship in Joseon was the panokseon that Hyang had modified.

    At Kim Jeom’s question, Heo Jo faltered.

    “I have heard, but…”

    As Heo Jo hesitated, Kim Jeom pressed again.

    “The officials of our Ministry of Taxation have personally seen and confirmed it. Minister of Law Enforcement! Think about it! Would profit-seeking merchants have built such large ships without any calculation?”

    At Kim Jeom’s point, Heo Jo had no choice but to remain silent.

    Having silenced Heo Jo, Kim Jeom bowed to Sejong again and appealed.

    “I, Kim Jeom, the Minister of Taxation, appeal to Your Majesty! Aden is a valuable port for Joseon’s ships to head to. It would be best if those friendly to us secure this valuable port! Therefore, please allow the sale of firearms to the Ottaibi family!”

    Not long after Kim Jeom finished speaking, the Minister of Rites opened his mouth.

    “The Minister of Taxation’s words are not wrong, but considering the power of firearms, they should not be given carelessly. I think it would be better to sell armored rifles instead.”

    “Armored rifles won’t do! If it must be an rifle, the long gun is the only answer!”

    As soon as the Minister of Rites finished speaking, Hyang stepped forward to express his opposition.

    “Why is that?”

    “Yes, why? Isn’t the long gun closer to a cannon than an rifle?”

    Even Sejong asked for the reason, and Hyang answered.

    “Cannons are as large as their power. Therefore, they can be seen and prepared for from afar. However, armored rifles and mounted rifles are small in size and easy to conceal, so if mishandled, they can potentially cause even greater damage than cannons.

    Secondly, cannons are difficult to manufacture. Rifles are also difficult to make, but not as much as cannons. That means armored rifles can flow even to those we don’t want, unintentionally.”

    “But the armored rifle you made is useless without fuse cord, isn’t it?”

    “Even without fuse cord, can’t they be used by inserting a wick?”

    Hyang didn’t back down from his opposition until the end.

    ‘That’s why AK and RPG are troublesome!’

    In the latter half of the 20th century, the weapons that inflicted defeats on the Soviet Union and the United States, which divided the world, and caused headaches for regular armies even in the 21st century, were not the most advanced weapons.

    They were the AK rifle and RPG-7, which were easy to conceal and easy to manufacture.

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