The thunderous cheers came from the audience.
The audience was shocked at what had happened as soon as the fights started. No one had thought that a clear result would happen so quickly.
They thought any highlight would likely just come from the top two candidates. No one thought such quick fights would happen.
[… I didn’t think it was like this.]
Zhuge Won-myung didn’t respond to his escort’s words.
He couldn’t take his eyes off So Wonwhi. The boy was the disciple of the South Heavenly Swordsman, so he had expected something good.
But his first victory was the fastest of all the fights.
Since they had to defeat 31 other contestants, he thought that the contestants would give each other some leeway. However, the moment the fight started, this kid had given it his all.
He thought that even if So Wonwhi won, there would have been some signs of collusion. However, there was no such thing here.
Seeing him as one of the Blood Sect’s spies was difficult after he just utterly stomped the other person.
But it was difficult to get a definite answer.
Perhaps he had changed his plans to avoid suspicion?
‘Will the second fight end the same way?’
So Wonwhi had taken down his first opponent. Now the second had come up.
Song Jwa-baek was another person he was wary of. He had disappeared and then reappeared only to join the tournament. He also had the chance to defeat So Wonwhi as well.
‘He’s a lot simpler than So Wonwhi and easy to understand.’
So Wonwhi was clever enough to be decisive in tough situations. That was why Zhuge Won-myung was being this cautious.
On the other hand, the muscle-bound boy was more simple-minded.
The shouts came again, and his head turned towards the other podium.
When he looked over, Lee Jung-gyeom had sent his opponent out.
The results were happening quickly, and that wasn’t the end of it.
Cheers came from other sides, too, as more matches were won. Two more competitors had also sent their opponents out.
[How did this happen?]
Zhuge Won-myung asked his escort in shock. To this, he replied.
[The winners had all thrown their opponents out of the podium boundary.]
Zhuge Won-myung was exasperated. This was something completely different from what he expected.
All of the top winners were stimulated by So Wonwhi.
As soon as one challenger was taken out, they all followed suit. Now it was the turn of Jang Myung, the disciple of the North Brave Blade Star.
“Haha. This is.”
In the same way, Elder Hoyang burst into laughter as he realized what was happening.
“Elder Zhuge. Did you say the kid is So Wonhwi?”
“That kid has set fire to the podium.”
Elder Hoyang said as such.
It was as if the top rankers were all competing with each other to complete their matches quickly.
However, the matches went quickly because the opponent’s skills were still relatively low. This meant that fights would inevitably drag on as time went on.
“Being young is fun.”
Elder Hoyang smiled at this, but on the other hand, Zhuge Won-myung continued to only look at So Wonhwi.
‘… isn’t this all just a plan?’
He wasn’t sure if this was intentional, but the atmosphere seemed to always be centered around So Wonwhi.
“Having fun, military commander?”
Zhuge Won-myung, who was concentrating, turned his head, and so did Elder Hoyang.
The speaker’s face was covered with a black cloth, but his voice clarified his identity.
The one who approached them was none other than Baek Hyang-muk.
Zhuge Won-myung was shocked as he didn’t think this man would come before the finals.
“… why are you here?”
“I wondered how my disciple was doing.”
The heart of a teacher.
He reacted bluntly when he was informed that Lee Jung-gyeom had passed in first place from the qualifier. Yet here he was now in disguise.
However, the man’s faintly visible eyes were on So Wonwhi.
‘Is the alliance leader interested in that child too?’
This was a rarity since he knew the man was never interested in anyone other than his own disciple.
-You poured oil.
I had to agree with Short Sword’s words.
This wasn’t something I intended to happen. Since we had to fight against 31 people, it was a strategy I had planned to hide my skills while pushing everyone else into the spotlight.
But I didn’t think the others would be so invested in it.
‘This shouldn’t have been such a good strategy.’
This was probably fine, right? However, if one couldn’t overwhelm their opponent, they would only end up exhausted.
-Maybe it is because they want to get attention?
That could be it.
In the first place, everyone ranked high would want to make other people recognize their skills.
This was the perfect place to do that. In the end, despite events taking a weird turn, I was overshadowed by many others.
‘The finals are the problem.’
Hearing the crowd’s noise, I saw that Lee Jung-gyeom and Kwan Young-had had also thrown their opponents out of their podiums. However, they simply used simple sword movements compared to my own slash and dash.
Those people are seriously strong.
If I don’t do my best, I will never be able to fight equally with them.
Before that, I had something else to do.
Song Jwa-baek with his blade and gauntlet.
If everything went according to plan, he should lose to me here. However, looking at his eyes, he desperately wanted to win and didn’t seem like he would back down.
Normally I would scold him, but this was fine since it would improve how my own performance looked.
Song Jwa-baek’s eyes widened as he looked at me.
I had been hiding my skills, but not anymore.
He might have the impression of me being weaker, but since this was the second fight, what could he do if I displayed superior strength?
I was curious to know what the result would be if he used Hae Ack-chun’s techniques, but as he is now, he wasn’t a tough opponent.
In an instant, I had made a mess of his gauntlets with my sword and smashed his forehead with my fist with as much power as I could muster.
I overlooked just how strong his bones were.
I applied a lot of strength, but he managed to survive it.
He was trained by Hae Ack-chun, so this much was expected.
“Thought that would work?”
Song Jwa-baek tried to hit me back, but I grabbed his forehead.
From that position, I then kicked him in the leg.
His form collapsed as my hit connected. I then moved close to his chest and used the fifth power level.
Song Jwa-baek’s body was hit, and he floated in the air before falling down from the podium.
A handful of blood dripped from his mouth due to internal wounds.
Song Jwa-baek stared at me with a blank expression. It showed that he didn’t fight to his full capabilities, but I still felt bad.
I took the initiative and bowed to the referee.
But then a voice entered my ear.
It was Cho Sung-won’s voice.
He seemed to be in urgent need to talk.
[Can you not hear me, sir?]
The qualifiers were still happening, so I didn’t understand what he had to say.
I wasn’t in a position to answer him, but I couldn’t help but react to his following words.
[There are explosives.]
I forgot about everything else and looked toward Cho Sung-won’s voice. I saw him at the bottom of the stairs of the audience, and he was holding someone.
As he moved him, black powder fell out.
[How did you find out?]
[We were looking for people on the side that was in contact with Baek Hye-hyang. One of them tried to secretly spray this explosive powder into the audience, and I caught it. He’s passed out now, so what should I do?]
Cho Sung-won looked a bit confused.
Normally, he should have informed those of the Alliance. However, since he was one of my men, he had informed me first, but I had no idea what was happening.
‘Baek Hye-hyang, what are you thinking?’
I tried to figure out what was happening as the referee asked.
“What are you doing?”
My mind was a mess. This was a situation where I had to worry about the match.
I looked at one of Baek Hye-hyang’s spies. He tried not to show much, but his gaze was elsewhere.
I looked towards the front seats.
Zhuge Won-myung stood in the front seat and spoke to some warriors in black uniforms. All of them were showing a similar powder that Cho Sung-won did.
‘They found it.’
If Cho Sung-won had found it, there was no way that Zhuge Won-myung wouldn’t.
Baek Hye-hyang’s spy seemed conscious of all of this.
Did the fact that they had brought explosives mean they didn’t want to win?
“Do you not want to fight?”
The referee asked me insistently. There was no more time to think, so I bowed.
“I will forfeit this match.”
I ran down the podium and said to Cho Sung-won.
[Hand it here!]
I ran to the seating area and retrieved the powder. I then told him to find Sima Young and come after me.
I looked and moved forward.
-What if they are aiming for the Blood Demon Sword in the middle of all this?
‘I don’t think so.’
‘They would be discovered if that happened.’
I moved towards Zhuge Won-myung and Elder Hoyang, who both had serious expressions. They were not the only ones there, though.
A man disguised in black cloth was also talking with the two of them.
The guards stopped me, so I told them.
“I need to see the commander right now.”
As I had spoken too loudly, everyone around me looked at me. I raised the sheath with the powder, ready to shout until Zhuge Won-myung told me.
[Do not shout!! Come right here.]
I ran up the stairs silently toward their location. All of the guards around us were highly alert.
Zhuge Won-myung looked at the sheath and asked.
“What is that?”
“It was discovered by my acquaintance who had come along with me. It seemed like someone brought explosives into this place by hiding them in sheaths.”
“As I thought!”
Zhuge Won-myung looked at the man on the side and said.
“Alliance leader. We will immediately arrest those involved.”
So the man wearing the black cloth was Baek Hyang-muk?
He had come here in disguise!
Wait a minute, did that mean that the strongest person in the Alliance was absent from where the weapons were being kept?
-What is it?
I think I knew what Baek Hye-hyang was aiming for.
She had no intention of fighting from the start.
-Then what about them? The disciple of the First Elder?
They were all scamming us and the Alliance from the start.
This was all part of their plan. I wasn’t the only one who noticed it, either.
“Alliance leader, please return to the headquarters right now. No matter how strong the security is, there is a difference when the leader is not there.”
As soon as he answered, he vanished quickly. When he left, Zhuge Won-myung then said to me,
“I am glad I wasn’t disappointed by someone as talented as you.”
I sighed in relief.
If I had reacted even slightly slower, I would have been treated the same as their enemy.
I understood what he meant, but I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“No. I don’t have time now. Can you help me?”
“If we say something about the explosives now, the tournament would stop in the middle, with chaos following soon after. If that happened, then it would be advantageous for them…”
“For them to leave.”
“Yes. I will gather the Alliance’s warriors now to prevent that from happening. Can you go with Elder Hoyang and hunt down those I have identified?”
This was a difficult situation.
They weren’t suspicious of me… but wanted me to help pursue those from Baek Hye-hyang’s side?
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