There is a large site called the town square in the Six Blood Valley.
This place could accommodate the largest number of people out of all the training grounds in the Six Blood Valley. The site was usually never full, but today it was crowded with warriors and trainees of the Blood Cult.
A shout with a loud voice was heard along with a sharp sound. After one year of training, the trainees were transformed into warriors of the Blood Cult.
Starting from the right, the upper-rank trainees were positioned with ‘Upper’ written on the back of their shirts. In the middle were the middle-rank trainees with the word ‘Middle’ written on their shirts.
And lastly, even the lower-ranked trainees did the same.
Standing on the podium was Gu Sang-woong, the head of Six Blood Valley, looking down at the trainees with a satisfied face. Behind him were the five major leaders under him.
Three of them were already replaced with new ones. One was missing, and the two were removed for attacking the lady.
The man then began to explain the position test to the trainees. The position test would proceed as follows.
All the trainees would participate in the Blood Demon Combat.
All of the trainees practiced it. It was the basic combat technique of the sect that was taught. Only the Sixth form, the Twelfth form, and the Thirty Sixth form could be used.
Once that was completed, they could attain the position of a regular warrior.
“Among those who pass as warriors, those verified by the respective masters will take the position test for a middle-rank warrior.”
Middle-rank warriors meant that they qualified as second-rate warriors. It required a test that utilized internal qi.
Most low-ranked trainees were called third-rate warriors, and many couldn’t master martial arts and other things because of low internal qi.
On the other hand, to be recognized as one of the second-rate warriors, the trainee should have at least 10 years’ worth of internal qi.
One of the easiest methods was by using a Cataclysm Stone. The Cataclysm Stone was a stone that was hard enough and was able to handle an infusion of internal qi.
Then the test continued with a fight against a middle-rank warrior of the Blood Cult. If a trainee can last more than 30 seconds, they will get that role.
A middle-rank warrior standing in front of the podium was warming up. They, too, went through the same process to get these roles. Unlike the low-ranked ones, those in the middle rank got to learn the martial arts of the upper-ranked warriors as well as the martial arts of the Blood Cult. All of this was done through one year of additional training.
The trainees exclaimed as he explained.
Of course, those who shouted were the ones aiming for that role.
“Finally, an upper-ranked warrior. Among the trainees this time, those taking the test for the position of an upper-ranked warrior are… um, 6 members.”
Gu Sang-woong looked at one of the leaders. He was a leader with thick eyebrows and wearing a sword on his side. The man was also in charge of the upper-ranked trainees.
That leader shrugged his shoulders. There were three more places like the Six Blood Valley where the test was happening, and having six such high-level trainees was a good thing.
‘A well-trained first-class warrior can deal with dozens of soldiers on their own.’
Cultivating such warriors wasn’t an easy task, not for Blood Cult at least. So having 6 people come out of this was a good thing.
Usually, only 3 or 4 people would qualify.
“Who is that?”
Five of the trainees jumped up from their places.
“Trainee Lee Gyu!”
“Trainee Ha Mun-chan!”
“Trainee Jo Song-won!”
Seeing them all confidently stand up, Gu Sang-woong smiled happily. Behind the trainees were people who were observing everything.
They were sent by elders and the Seventh Blood Star to select useful trainees from here.
Usually, those who have been given the rank of middle or higher were chosen.
‘This will be a fierce fight.’
Recruiting an upper-rank warrior was a war.
Each side would want to hold such a warrior under them and do anything for it. This benefits the trainee as well.
Unlike the second-rate and third-rate warriors, first-rate warriors could choose their own positions.
That way, there would be no fights between selectors.
‘Which side will we get good talent?’
He watched it every time, but this selection time was the most interesting one.
Usually, it wasn’t possible to select more than two people at most to one side, but people get greedy for talent. This was a chance to see the conflict between the factions within the cult.
“Now, let’s start the test!”
With Gu Sang-woong’s cry, the trainees’ test began. Testing of forms and basic movements was done in an hour.
Among the 106 trainees, 50 were confirmed to be third-rate warriors. All but two of them were considered to be definite third-rate warriors.
“Now we start the test of middle-rank warriors.”
A total of 59 people were taking the test. Eight people failed the test that used the stone, and those were demoted to third-rate warriors.
Seeing that, Gu Sang-woong clicked his tongue, and Hae Okseon, who was in charge of the middle-rank warriors, was already losing it.
Fortunately, the other ones succeeded in moving ahead.
Because the upper-rank trainees were already different from the others, they could move up without a problem and attracted the attention of everyone.
“Middle-rank warriors, come out.”
The next thing was the battle test involving the 41 remaining trainees. There were a total of 37 who managed to endure it for 30 seconds against a full-fledged middle-rank warrior.
The four who couldn’t endure were demoted.
“Please give me a chance!”
Begging wouldn’t help anyone.
It didn’t mean they would be given another chance just because they left a mark on the stone. The position test happened perfectly with no second chances.
“There are 37 finalists, not bad.”
It was confirmed that there were 37 second-rate warriors. After one year of training, they will be full-fledged second-rate warriors.
“Is it just one more test left for first-rate warriors?”
More than 2 hours have passed. The position test started early in the morning and was now going to noon. With this speed, the position test would be completed before lunch.
“Now then, the test for the upper rank…”
Gu Sang-woong was about to announce the start but then turned around. The other leaders also did the same.
A group of people was coming from the main hall. They were the Bloody Hand Witch, Han Baekha, and her disciple.
‘What is this?’
Gu Sang-woong was confused.
Gu Sang-wooned looked at where Hae Okseon was pointing to. Other people were coming from the other side.
There was a giant savage dressed in leopard clothes. The Ghastly Evil.
Even from a distance, the man’s force could be seen clearly. Behind him were Song Jwa-baek, Song Woo-hyun, and So Wonhwi, all of whom had larger builds than normal kids their age.
-We got the attention.
It seemed like we popped out at the right time. When we appeared like this, everyone was bound to look.
Everyone on the grounds was looking at us, from the trainees to warriors.
-He is really liking this.
Song Jwa-baek, who was next to me, was smiling at this. On the other hand, his twin had an expressionless face. Hae Ack-chun mumbled in annoyance.
“That damned wench is doing the same thing.”
Hae Ack-chun looked at the Bloody Hand Witch who was coming from the other side.
He hated it because she was doing the same thing as him.
‘Skipping the low and middle-rank tests.’
‘Well, you are my disciple. I don’t expect you to go through those lowly tests.’
That is what Hae Ack-chun told me before coming here. He was the one who suggested that we skip the basic warriors’ test.
However, Han Baekha seemed to have the same thought. When the upper-rank warrior test was about to start, I could see Dam Yehwa, her disciple, come.
“If you make me lose face, prepare yourself.”
Hae Ack-chun only made us nervous. I have been seeing him for over a year, so I was used to it.
-I don’t think he has.
Song Jwa-baek’s expression went shaky. I could understand him.
While training together, I think I saw him get beaten up at least once a month. It was an indiscriminate beating.
-Do you not remember that time?
-When he found out that he taught you that cultivation?
We only got discovered less than a month ago.
I didn’t know it, but when I began to cultivate using Hae Ack-chun’s technique, wounds began to appear on my body, and, thanks to that, we got found out. Song Jwa-baek ended up getting beaten and then hung from the cliff for almost half a day.
Maybe the memories were too engraved into his mind. The brat never disobeyed him again after that.
-What if it was done to you too?
Do you think I haven’t been through it already?
Hae Ack-chun’s training and martial arts always reminded me of hell. I thought he would give me advice on swordsmanship, but I instead spent half a day being honed alongside the twins.
He rolled people around so much that it would probably be better to die.
-Thanks to that, I have strong muscles.
I admit it.
It’s not as much as the twins, but my muscles were as hard as a stone. While I was talking with the short sword, we arrived at the podium.
“Long live the Blood Cult!”
Gu Sang-woong and the five leaders paid their respects to Hae Ack-chun and then bowed to the next in rank, the Bloody Hand Witch. The Bloody Hand Witch then greeted Hae Ack-chun.
“I greet the elder.”
Between them, Gu Sang-woong carefully spoke.
“Why did the two of you come to the site of the position test…”
“Kulkul. Why do you think we’re here?”
“To make my disciples take the test.”
Hae Ack-chun pointed to us with his large hand.
“It is the same with me. Commander Gu.”
Han Baekha put Dam Yehwa to the front.
It had been six months since I last saw her, and she looked different from then. She was mature, and her shyness had been replaced with confidence.
Hae Ack-chun clicked his tongue, looking at Han Baekha.
Han Baekha didn’t care and said to the commander.
“I was a little late, but fortunately, it seems like things are heading to the upper-rank warrior test, so can this child also participate?”
“… the upper-rank warrior test?”
Gu Sang-woong was confused. It was natural for him to react like this.
I, too, thought that taking the test from the start would be right. Seeing this, I realized that a trainee’s background was important.
“Will that do? Or not?”
Hae Ack-chun asked the commander as if threatening him and Gu Sang-woong looked shocked as he said.
“If they are disciples of mine, they can easily pass the low and middle ranks.”
“Hehe. You are saying the obvious things.”
Hae Ack-chun shrugged. Gu Sang-woong lowered his voice and said,
“But Elder. Not just the trainees but the other people and the members of the Seventh Blood Star’s group are also watching this.”
I looked at the two men the commander pointed to. They looked like other elders and people of the Seventh Blood Star. They were startled when Hae Ack-chun looked at them and bowed.
“Long live the Blood Cult!”
I could even hear their shouts.
“So what about them?”
It wasn’t a bad, nor worrisome, thing for him. Gu Sang-woong then said.
“Still, many eyes are watching us, so how about certifying the disciples first?”
When Hae Ack-chun looked like he was about to get angry, Han Baekha intervened.
“Elder. His words make sense. He is the commander and wants to do things according to the cult’s laws, so not listen to what he has to say?”
“Huh! You shouldn’t talk about laws.”
Hae Ack-chun clicked his tongue.
“So, what do you mean by certifying?”
At his question, Gu Sang-woong pointed toward the Cataclysm Stone, which was used during the middle-rank warrior test.
“If the disciples prove they are qualified to head up to the upper-rank warrior test, no one will be able to speak against them.”
In other words, it was meant to prove they had the right to go higher. At these words, Han Baekha smiled. It didn’t seem like a difficult task for her.
“To maintain the commander’s face, I will do this. Yehwa.”
Han Baekha pointed to the stone, and, realizing what she meant, the disciple walked towards it.
Her hands were dyed red.
‘The Blood Jade Hand’
She learned it for only 6 months but could still manifest it.
The color of her hands was blood dark now. I heard that the darker it was, the stronger it was. Now I understood why she was taken in as her disciple.
With a brief word, she struck the stone.
And the part she touched began to crack around a mark left by her palm.
Exclamations flowed from the mouths of the trainees. This was something they didn’t get to see during their test time. Even the leaders were shocked.
Dam Yehwa politely bowed and went back.
“I did my best, but it was embarrassing.”
Han Baekha smiled while looking at her and turned to Gu Sang-woong.
“Is this enough?”
“Yes. You have a really talented disciple. To achieve such a thing within 6 months.”
Gu Sang-woong praised Dam Yehwa with a surprised look. Han Baekha nodded with satisfaction and looked at Hae Ack-chun.
Hae Ack-chun just snorted. He then looked at me and said loudly.
[Be prepared if my name gets dragged down.]
What do I do to not let that happen? Does that mean that I need to show more than her?
“Why aren’t you going out?”
At his urging, I walked forwards. I could see her palm print on the stone.
I couldn’t even take the middle-rank warrior test in my past life, so I don’t know how much was needed to level up.
-Are you going to do it with internal qi?
After all, the innate qi is my secret weapon. I had to use just the internal qi for this.
I clenched my fist and caught my breath.
I then began to increase my qi. It was taking me a moment as I had been building up my qi through hard work.
I clenched my fist and then pushed it forward to the stone. If it was the eighth level of internal qi, it had to shake the stone at least, right?
My fist had pierced into it.
I thought that it would be hard, but this… It seemed too weak. Almost half my fist went into the stone.
I turned my head in silence.
Han Baekha’s forehead had wrinkled up, and Hae Ack-chun was smiling from the other side.
-You set the benchmark high.
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