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    Upon hearing my words, Officer A-seung spoke.

    “Ah, no! If I betray them…”

    “Officer, you have already betrayed Eunhae Merchant Group. What’s wrong with betraying them one more time?”

    “…”

    “And betraying them now would be atoning for the betrayal of Eunhae Merchant Group, wouldn’t it?”

    I looked at him squarely and asked.

    “And do you really think they will keep their promise?”

    “…”

    At my words, Officer A-seung’s pupils shook violently.

    He was guessing the fate of himself and his family.

    But this is what he clings to, because it’s all he has now.

    “Officer A-seung, you know what the two most important things are to Eunhae Merchant Group, right?”

    At my question, he nodded and answered with a trembling voice.

    People, and trust.”

    “Yes, that’s right. So, you don’t trust us?”

    “…”

    “Then, this is serious. A member of Eunhae Merchant Group doesn’t trust the Eunhae Merchant Group.”

    I asked again.

    “Has there ever been a time when your monthly salary was delayed?”

    “…No, never.”

    “Have we ever refused to give you a vacation?”

    “Never.”

    “And you still don’t trust us?”

    A moment of silence followed.

    Officer A-seung asked cautiously.

    “Really, can you protect my family?”

    The conversation went on.

    It meant he was starting to be persuaded.

    I felt grateful to my father and ancestors who had built up this trust.

    Because of that trust, my words had an impact.

    “Yes, I promise. I will protect your family.”

    Officer A-seung’s family was innocent.

    But not Officer A-seung.

    Regardless of the reason, he was an arsonist in the making.

    However, since he did not actually commit arson, there was room for leniency.

    “Give me that, the incense burner.”

    “…”

    “Hurry.”

    With repeated urging, Officer A-seung extended the incense burner with trembling hands, and I received it.

    Then, I sighed a breath of relief internally and brushed my chest.

    Just then, the members of Silver Wind (Eunpung) Group entered the document storage room, as if on cue.

    [TL/N: I will be translating other organizations related to Eunhae Merchant Group according to their terms meaning from here onwards.]

    “Are you alright, young master?”

    A man standing in front of the Silver Wind Squad members asked me. He was someone I recognized.

    His name was Jeong Chung[1].

    One of the leaders of Silver Wind Squad.

    He would eventually become the vice-leader of the unit.

    Although I was somewhat pleased to see him, I nodded without showing much emotion.

    “Yes, I’m fine.”

    I then spoke to one of the members of Silver Wind Squad.

    “But, you arrived much faster than I expected.”

    “When you called for Silver Wind Squad, your face looked serious, young master. So, we requested support as quickly as possible. But why is Officer A-seung here…?”

    I glanced at Officer A-seung, who was trembling beside me, and said.

    “He is an attempted arsonist.”

    “What?”

    Everyone looked surprised at my words.

    Leader Jeong Chung quickly regained his composure and shouted to his members.

    “He’s an arsonist! Tie him up!”

    “Yes!”

    I then said to Leader Jeong Chung.

    “He is an important witness. Please, do not treat him roughly. And send Silver Wind Squad to protect Officer A-seung’s family.”

    “What?”

    Leader Jeong Chung looked puzzled at my request, and I continued.

    “I’ve promised him.”

    At my words, Officer A-seung’s eyes reddened, and he began to sob.

    “Where is your family now? Please tell us.”

    * * *

    In the small meeting room of the Eunhae Merchant Group.

    There, members of the Eunhae Merchant Group’s Silver Moon Council were seated.

    The head of the merchant group, Eun Gil-sang, the Chief of Internal Affairs and also the Chamber of Wealth Management’s head, Yu So-ak, the head of Silver Wind Squad and Chief of External Affairs, Go Il-pyeong, as well as the heads of Chamber of Generational Prosperity and Chamber of Commerce Circulation.

    These five were the members of the Eunwol Association.

    Eun Gil-sang sighed and said,

    “How did this come to be…”

    At his words, the Chief of Internal Affairs, Yu So-ak, spoke,

    “It’s a great relief, nonetheless. Had that place burned down… I don’t even want to imagine it.”

    Anger was evident on Yu So-ak’s face as he spoke.

    The others shivered involuntarily at his expression.

    One of Yu So-ak’s biggest pet peeves was being disturbed during his rest.

    While it was unavoidable if there was a valid reason, whoever caused that reason had to face Yu So-ak’s wrath.

    “Hmm, hmm, still, Young Master Seo-ho has done a great deed.”

    Go Il-pyeong quickly brought up a new topic, trying to change the subject.

    The Chief of External Affairs of the Eunhae Merchant Group, who also served as the head of Silver Wind Squad, was responsible for dealing with external issues.

    Known as “One Sword Shakes the Heavens[2]” for his incredible martial prowess, his swordsmanship was said to make the heavens tremble.

    He was also the martial arts teacher of his brothers, Eun Jung-ho and Eun Jin-ho.

    At Go Il-pyeong’s words, Eun Gil-sang cleared his throat,

    “Hmm, hmm, though he is my son, he deserves praise.”

    “But how did the young master know to prevent this incident?”

    Chamber of Generational Prosperity’s head, Jeok Byeongcheol, asked.

    He was a quiet, middle-aged man who preferred not to stand out.

    His meticulous management of the merchant group’s affairs was crucial, and without him, the group wouldn’t function properly, so his opinions held significant weight.

    At his question, the Chamber of Commerce Circulation’s head responded.

    “I’ve heard about the general situation, but not the details…”

    The Chamber of Commerce Circulation is responsible for everything related to commerce, including the selection and distribution of goods.

    It can be considered the flower of the Eunhae Merchant Group.

    The head of Chamber of Commerce Circulation, a middle-aged woman named Yeon Dami[3], has overcome numerous challenges to bring the Eunhae Merchant Group to its current stature, a true heroine despite her gender.

    At their words, Eun Gil-sang spoke,

    “We will soon have the parties involved here, so we can ask them directly.”

    Just then, it was announced that Eun Seo-ho and Yeo Chang-ui had arrived, and the door opened.

    The two paid their respects to the five members.

    Eun Gil-sang acknowledged their greetings and offered them seats, where they sat down in front of the members.

    “First, I want to express my gratitude for this incident. Thanks to you, we were able to avoid a disaster.”

    At Eun Gil-sang’s words, Yeo Chang-ui waved his hands dismissively.

    “All I did was call Silver Wind Squad.”

    “That in itself is a big deal. But I am curious. How did you notice the sleeping drug in the tea and avoid drinking it?”

    At that question, Yeo Chang-ui answered,

    “It was thanks to Young Master Eun Seo-ho’s discerning eye.”

    At that answer, Eun Gil-sang turned to Eun Seo-ho beside him and said,

    “Yes, I heard that you, Seo-ho, prevented the incident. What happened?”

    “Yes, Father. I will explain.”

    After taking a brief moment to collect his thoughts, Eun Seo-ho began,

    “Today, I was on duty in place of Officer In Dae-su. So, I went to Three Flavors Restaurant for dinner with Officer Yeo Chang-ui and then returned to the duty room. But something felt off.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Firstly, the lamp in the duty room was lit. As Father and Chief of Internal Affairs know, the Chamber of Wealth Management has many valuables around, so we are trained to always turn off the lights when the room is unoccupied.”

    Eun Gil-sang and Yu So-ak nodded at Eun Seo-ho’s words.

    Eun Gil-sang had experience in the practical workings of Chamber of Wealth Management, and Yu So-ak, as the Chief of Internal Affairs in charge, knew this as well.

    However,

    ‘Does one usually find it suspicious just because they see that?’

    ‘It’s true that it’s a habit of the Chamber of Wealth Management staff, but to notice that in just ten days?’

    The people in the room glanced at each other, realizing they all had the same thought.

    Eun Seo-ho continued his explanation.

    “Additionally, there were unusual marks on the knob of the teapot lid. Upon closer inspection, they were fingerprints stained with ink.”

    “What’s so strange about that? If someone else was going to drink the tea, they might have touched it.”

    “If that were the case, only the handle and the top part of the knob would have ink stains.”

    Eun Seo-ho mimicked the action of pouring tea.

    “When pouring tea, you press the lid with your hand to prevent it from falling off; you don’t grasp it.”

    “Ah!”

    “That means the lid was opened… but that’s only done when there’s no tea, right?”

    “Exactly.”

    “But there wouldn’t be a situation where the tea, which is brought just before starting the duty, runs out, right? Meaning, someone must have opened the lid.”

    “It’s unlikely that the servants and maids in charge of the tea room would have ink on their hands…”

    Eun Seo-ho’s grandfather, Eun Ji-bong, was very particular about tea.

    Thanks to that, the tea business flourished.

    Not stopping there, he established a tea parlor within the merchant group, hiring professionals dedicated solely to managing and researching tea.

    This is still the case, and those working there are always required to maintain cleanliness.

    Eun Ji-bong’s principle was that if the person handling the tea is not clean, the taste of the tea changes.

    Thus, anyone who failed Eun Ji-bong’s surprise inspections would be severely reprimanded.

    As a result, the employees of the tea room were almost obsessive about washing their hands.

    It was inconceivable that they would open a tea lid with ink-stained hands.

    “So, you noticed because of that?”

    “Yes. So, when I poured the tea into the cup, I noticed something strange, like a white powder mixed in. I warned Officer Yeo Chang-ui not to drink it by writing a note and pretended to fall asleep.”

    “Hmm…”

    “Then, I saw someone sneak into the document storage room. That’s when I asked Officer Yeo Chang-ui to call the Silver Wind Squad members.”

    “I see.”

    Eun Gil-sang and the others nodded in understanding.

    However, their inner thoughts varied.

    ‘My son, indeed, how remarkable!’

    ‘Truly astute.’

    ‘The future of the merchant group seems bright.’

    ‘The young master shows great promise.’

    ‘Such a person should learn martial arts…’

    Eun Gil-sang continued,

    “But why did you go after the criminal yourself?”

    Eun Seo-ho looked somewhat puzzled by the question.

    “Isn’t it natural that I should go? I am the son of the head of the merchant group and the heir to Eunhae Merchant Group.”

    This response left the five seasoned members speechless.

    It was an answer none of them had expected.

    Regaining his composure, Eun Gil-sang cleared his throat and said,

    “Hmm, hmm, I understand your sentiment, but it was too reckless. What if the culprit had been armed?”

    “Still, as the heir to the merchant group, how could I just stand by and watch when something untoward was happening within the group?”

    Eun Seo-ho added cautiously,

    “However, it’s true that my actions caused Father worry. I apologize.”

    “Well, be more careful next time.”

    “Yes. And unexpectedly, the culprit had another fire tool, so I had to promise to protect his family in order to placate him. Honestly, it’s his fault for accruing gambling debts and attempting arson, but his family is innocent.”

    Eun Seo-ho bowed his head again in apology.

    “I apologize for making a decision without Father’s permission.”

    “No, you did well,” Eun Gil-sang said.

    “As you said, that family is innocent. And it’s fortunate that you negotiated to prevent the fire, especially since there was oil poured there. Just thinking about what could have happened if a fire had started makes my heart drop.”

    Everyone nodded in agreement at his words.

    The place where Officer A-seung had attempted to start the fire was known as the ‘Red Bookshelf’ within the document storage room.

    This area contained extremely important documents.

    This meant that the documents stored there were irreplaceable.

    The most crucial documents in any merchant group’s transactions are the contracts and delivery confirmations, which bear the seals of both parties involved.

    These sealed documents were used to verify authenticity and prove transactions.

    Eun Gil-sang picked up a document from in front of him.

    “Lotus Flower Pavilion…”

    Lotus Flower Pavilion, originally one of the smaller courtesan houses, had grown rapidly following advice from Eun Gil-sang’s grandfather. Later, it was converted into a high-class courtesan house, employing many talented courtesans.

    Due to this connection, Eunhae Merchant Group and Lotus Flower Pavilion had maintained a supply relationship for decades.

    However, it seemed that this relationship was nearing its end.

    “It seems the owner of Lotus Flower Pavilion was desperate. To resort to such measures…”

    At the words of the Chief of Internal Affairs, Yu So-ak, the Chief of External Affairs, Go Il-pyeong, also exploded in anger.

    “If they had time for this, they should have arranged the payment for their transactions instead of engaging in such nonsense!”

    At that moment, Eun Seo-ho cautiously stepped forward.

    “Excuse me, Father. I have a question.”

    “What is it?”

    “The payment for transactions you mentioned… Is it being delayed?”

    1. 丁忠, robust and loyalty[]
    2. 一劍震天[]
    3. 蓮茶美 = Lian: Lotus, Cha: Tea, Mei: Beautiful[]
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