Chapter 36 - Leader (2)

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“H-his fist pierced the stone.”

“It wasn’t just a mark that was left.”

I could hear the sound of whispers from the trainees all around me. Even the leaders have changed the way they look at me.

Did those eyes, which looked at Dam Yehwa in a positive light, change as well?

Well, those eyes at least looked more vigilant after what I did.

-That’s obvious. What you did was like showing off a part of your internal qi.

The South Heavenly Iron Sword said that to me.

As he said, I was showing just a part of my power. In just six months, my internal qi had progressed at a shockingly fast rate.

There were several factors for this growth. One major factor, by far, was the yang energy and ice qi, which had been piled up in the body.

-The old man was a big help too.

Hae Ack-chun taught me how to do the Ming Wheel Cultivation.

This method differed from the Xing Ming Cultivation technique, which was based on the invincible theory emphasizing balance in the body to complement cultivation. This other cultivation method was more about being appropriate for my body type.

Shh!

In any case, after the task was done, I bowed.

“Huhu, still far away.”

Hae Ack-chun looked at me and shouted. Those words and his face said different things.

Even though he said that his face kept looking at Han Baekha’s pale face.

“… the disciples’ results aren’t normal. As expected of the elder.”

The Bloody Hand Witch, Han Baekha, who had been frowning, shortly returned to her expressionless face again. She was incredibly good at controlling her emotions. Dam Yehwam, however, bit her lip and looked at her master.

-She seems like she’s taken notice.

‘Right.’

Actually, even Hae Ack-chun was a man who didn’t know how to make a wise bet and did it only for the sake of his pride. Then what about her? The student who got caught in the middle due to my teacher and her master?

She couldn’t handle this.

“What are you doing? Show your skills too.”

At Hae Ack-chun’s words, Song Jwa-baek moved to the stone. I could hear his voice in my head.

[Look. How great I will do!]

This guy was stupid. It seemed like defeating me was his life goal.

“Phew.”

Song Jwa-baek adjusted his breathing and began using his internal qi. His skin began to turn a little brown as he did.

The reason for the change in his skin color was due to the cultivation method he used.

-This was expected.

As Small Short Sword said, the result of their own cultivation was greater compared to my results when I used the same method. I note that Hae Ack-chun kept looking at Song Jwa-baek. Perhaps he was figuring out how much this method worked for his other student.

“Haaah!”

With that shout, Song Jwa-baek clenched his fist and punched at the stone.

Papak!

The moment his fist touched it, small pieces of the stone bounced off. And when the fist collided, parts of the rock shattered and fell all around.

“Kuak!”

“It broke!”

The trainees were full of admiration again.

“Isn’t he stronger?”

“It almost seemed like the whole thing would break into pieces.”

Hearing the voices of the trainees, Song Jwa-baek looked proud as he turned toward Hae Ack-chun.

His expression was asking, ‘I did well, right?’. He longed for a compliment, but the teacher’s expression differed from what he expected.

“Tch.”

He was clicking his tongue! The stone wasn’t just pierced, but it even broke! Yet the reason he had this expression was simple.

It was because Song Jwa-baek’s internal qi wasn’t concentrated in one place when he punched. That was why the stone’s surface was damaged but not broken altogether.

“The elder’s disciple is expected to do this much.”

At Han Baekha’s words, Hae Ack-chun shouted at my fellow disciple.

“If you are done, come back!”

Even I could feel that Han Baekha’s words couldn’t be taken as a compliment. Hae Ack-chun was clearly annoyed.

-Look at that face, man. I feel bad.

Song Jwa-baek came in with a gloomy expression as things didn’t happen the way he wanted. Although he didn’t meet the teacher’s expectations, everyone else on the ground was looking at him in awe.

“Go.”

At the command of Hae Ack-chun, Song Jwa-baek’s younger twin, Song Woo-hyun, nodded. His body had changed so much in just 6 months.

Normally, he would speak clumsily or imitate his older brother, but he no longer did that now.

“I know the results without even looking at it anymore.”

Gu Sang-woong, the commander, now understood what Hae Ack-chun meant at the start. Three people who came in the middle of the examination showed results that regular trainees could not.

It was then…

Bang!

‘Bang?’

Everyone’s eyes changed. They were all looking at one place because the sound was close to a roar, and they were all looking at Song Woo-hyun.

They didn’t think that he would use his head to hit the stone. The part where his head had impacted the stone was caved in, and that wasn’t even the end.

Crack!

‘…!!’

The stone split in half from the point of impact. No, was his head made of diamond or something? Short Sword clicked her tongue.

-… Wonhwi. He is a boulder.

The crowd went silent. The trainees opened their mouths one by one, but they were all at a loss for words. It was the same for the other observers too.

Not all of them were flapping their mouths, but none could take their eyes off the stone.

“Kuahahahah! Right. Right. That is the level that has to be shown!”

Hae Ack-chun laughed wildly this time. I also spotted Dam Yehwa looking relieved?

-Is she feeling relieved for not going against him?

Um… it seemed like it. It looked like she would be sulky if she was asked to deal with a guy who breaks stones with his head.

‘Oh, seriously.’

The achievement of handing over the crown to one another was displayed here. I had nothing more to say.

Did he lose his hair to gain a superpower? I was curious how Song Jwa-baek would react.

“Haa.”

He kept sighing too many times, being frustrated at the performance of his younger twin. This was expected.

In this way, the show that proved the skills of the twins, myself and Dam Yehwa were done. No one objected anymore. Instead, they now realized how strong the teachers were.

Our intrusion into the test was now done, and we were automatically pushed into the upper-rank warrior tests.

Gu Sang-woong, the commander, then said aloud.

“Who will take the upper-rank position test?”

A warrior with a blue belt around his waist walked to the front. A blue belt signified his status as an upper-rank warrior. The biggest benefit of achieving this rank was being able to remove the Blood Parasite from within the body.

This was why the trainees all looked at the blue belt. Song Jwa-baek then spoke to Hae- Ack-chun.

“Teacher. I will…”

“Quiet.”

“Uh?”

Hae Ack-chun prevented him from going first. Thinking back on it, it looked like he wanted Dan Yehwa to head out first.

But it wasn’t just him. Even Han Baekha was preventing her disciple from going out first.

“Look carefully. This is about the level of upper-rank warriors, a first-rate warrior of our sect.”

Although knowing he would have the upper hand in any fight, Song Jwa-baek could understand Hae Ack-chun’s meaning. Despite his eccentric personality, this man was a dedicated teacher, though he did suck at actually teaching.

“Long live the Blood Cult!”

Some of the upper-rank trainees jumped up from their places and bowed. Then one walked to the front, looked at the podium, and said.

“Trainee Ha Mun-chan.”

Tak!

“Bu Seo-jung.”

The warrior, too, replied with his name and Gu Sang-woong on the podium said.

“If you can last 12 attacks against him, you pass.”

-Just 12?

‘It cannot be just that.’

A trained warrior means that he was a first-rate warrior.

He was different from others because the level of martial arts was also different. It would be no easy task to defend the body from any 12 attacks or techniques he might use.

I could tell from the trainee’s tense face.

“Start.”

Both the trainee and the warrior made some distance between each other at the commander’s words. As if conceding to the young one, the warrior gestured for the trainee to make the first move.

After some hesitation, Ha Mun-chun ran toward him.

Tat!

The trainee ran quickly and threw a kick at the warrior’s head. Looking at his body shape and how he deployed the kick, I could tell he was well trained.

But it was easily evaded

Pak!

The warrior avoided it by moving to the side before aiming a counter at the trainee’s leg. This was all done in one movement.

However, Ha Mun-chun didn’t dodge it. Instead, he threw his upper body at the warrior to elbow him in the face.

Tatak!

The trainee was pushed to take three steps back, which made him lose his balance. Yet, I noted that he used the loss of balance to stabilize his core strength.

“Pretty good.”

Hae Ack-chun mumbled.

As he said, this trainee, Ha Mun-chun, was a fighter. The ability to judge, respond and understand instantly was important in battles, fights, and confrontations. If those skills were taught to this trainee, he would be an excellent, first-rate warrior.

-I think he is being dragged around.

Short Sword said, puzzled.

‘It is fine to do that.’

-Why?

This was a test that was supposed to select the future of the cult.

In other words, it was to select those who had the potential to become first-rate warriors. If a warrior like the one in front of the podium wanted to defeat the trainee, he could do it in three attacks instead of twelve.

The two collided again in earnest.

The warrior didn’t use any other martial arts other than close combat attacks. Despite the fight being difficult for him, the trainee managed to persevere until the time of the 14th attack.

“Enough!”

The two stopped at the sound of Gu Sang-wong’s voice. The commander had a satisfied expression on his face.

“This is sufficient! Trainee Ha Mun-chun, you pass.”

“Wahhhh!”

The trainees all cheered as if they all had passed. The first person who passed the test went to the podium and returned with a blue belt in hand.

“Do you have a sense of what this is?”

Hae Ack-chun asked us a question, to which Song Jwa-baek replied confidently.

“I think it is good. I will not bring shame to our teacher’s name.”

Hae Ack-chun clicked his tongue at the boy’s words.

“Do you think I asked for that?”

“Uh?”

“Tch. Tch.”

Hae Ack-chun looked at him with pity on his face. I answered while recalling the movement of the warrior in my head.

“During the battle, the warrior there seemed to use about three to four percent of his strength.”

Strength referred to how much internal qi was used.

That’s what I meant when I noted how much strength was used by the warrior.

It was hard to be sure, but at most, I can be certain that he didn’t use a lot of internal qi. The trainee was already sweating profusely, but the warrior clearly didn’t shed a single sweat. My observation prompted Hae Ack-chun to push further.

“And?”

“His movement was also different from that of trainees, and when they came together, it didn’t seem like he took more than three steps away from his original position. It’s limited footwork.”

“Hehe. Your eyes work well.”

With those words, Hae Ack-chun looked at Song Jwa-baek, who seemed embarrassed for not understanding the true intentions of the question.

“You… enough.”

Hae Ack-chun was trying to say something to the other twin but quickly gave up. Song Woo-hyun didn’t even look at the man and kept observing the fight in front of us.

-To make that old man shut up.

‘… so envious.’

Meanwhile, the second trainee appeared. This time a different warrior came out too. The match was the same as before.

The upper-rank warrior moved minimally and made the trainee struggle till the end before giving them a blue belt.

I didn’t know because I had never gotten this far in my previous life, but the five who qualified all passed. The smile didn’t leave the face of Gu Sang-woong the whole time.

“Lastly… hm.”

Gu Sang-woong realized he had made a mistake and corrected it.

“Who will come as number 6?”

Dam Yehwa hadn’t gone ahead until this time and had only kept watching. It was the same with us. Hae Ack-chun told us to keep watching.

“Trainee Cho Sung-won.”

Among the trainees, the last person came out and bowed.

‘Cho Sung-won?’

Where have I heard this name?

-Someone you know?

‘I remember hearing it.’

It wasn’t me in this life but me in the past who heard it. I remembered things or people who were memorable. But this name felt so familiar.

Who was it?

“Start.”

With the commander’s shout, the trainee named Cho Sung-won began to move. I privately thought that I had to take a closer look at this.

In my memory, I remember fights being different.

Tatatak!

The warrior called Go Jin-chang, and the trainee collided.

As the two collided, all the other trainees exclaimed loudly. It seemed like the warrior was moving for the first time to avoid getting hit by a trainee’s successive attacks.

“Ohh. That guy has learned martial arts before.”

Hae Ack-chun mumbled. After learning martial arts in this life, I think I understood his meaning.

In addition to the basic footwork, the trainee was moving around to confuse and make the warrior take more than three steps for the first time.

“You!”

Go Jin-chang, a warrior whose pride was injured, lifted up the restrictions he had to follow when fighting a trainee and pushed the trainee even further.

Tatatak!

Still, Cho Sung-won managed to block the attack and countered.

“Ohh!”

The trainees who were watching seemed to like this. I knew this. This guy was different from the other trainees. Not only did he have qualities for it, but he was close to beating a first-rate warrior.

‘Ah!’

I remembered.

I figured out why I couldn’t remember his name.

This guy was doomed to die in half a year.

-Doomed to die? Why?

In response to the small sword’s question, I gave a reply while I looked at the fight.

‘He is a spy for the Beggar Union.’

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