Chapter 40 - Selection Ceremony (2)

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Everyone there was at a loss for words.

The implicit rule of the selection process was to distribute talent in equal numbers to each other.

However, they were shocked at the sight of Hae Ack-hun trying to gulp down 27 people with just a few words by excluding the bottom ten.

-Puahahaha! As expected of the old man.

Short Sword laughed.

‘Ha!’

Even if he wanted to take people in, I predicted it would only be four or five, but Hae Ack-chun walked up and chose 27 people. However, the problem was that while the people there were afraid to question him, there were people under the other elders and under the Seventh Blood Star behind him.

“Elder.”

Keenly aware of this, Gu Sang-woong intervened.

“The other commanders came as representatives of the Seventh Blood Star and other people. If the elder took all the top talents, it would not be fair for…”

“You are speaking about equity?”

Hae Ack-chun asked a question as if he could not understand it.

Gu Sang-woong was a bit flustered despite his apparent desire to help the other parties there.

Shh!

Some of the people who had trusted in Gu Sang-woong’s intervention came forward. They were commanders under the influence of other people of a similar stature as Hae Ack-chun.

“Elder. I am commander Hak Jeong-gyeom under Elder Lee Jun.”

The commander who served under Elder Lee Jun opened his mouth first. The reason why he mentioned his elder’s name alongside his role was clearly to emphasize its effects.

“So?”

Hae Ack-chun asked as if he didn’t really care.

The commander hesitated before trying to regain his confidence again. He then said,

“Elder, I will speak honestly. In the selection ceremony, all of us were sent to select talented people on behalf of our superiors. Until now, we have evenly organized the talents through fair consultations, but if the Elder monopolizes too many of such talented ones, my Elder as well as the other commander’s superiors might not be happy about it.”

“Right. Elder.”

“Please do consider.”

The other commanders also stepped forward. In other words, they were attending as proxies for other high-ranking officials of the cult.

It was an indirect warning that the people behind them would not take this lightly.

-Oh. Look at them coming out strong.

‘It is because their own performances are at stake.’

If they cannot secure talent, their own group will be broken. This was why they were coming out strong right now.

They were making their case using the people behind them, so how would the old man respond?

“Huh! What do you mean?”

“Uh?”

“Are you saying I should feel sorry for you all and make concessions? Ha! If you want to act like this, then go ahead and tell them. Those who feel that this was unfair can come directly to me and talk. How does that sound?”

Of course, he didn’t back down. On the contrary, as Hae Ack-chun replied in anger, everyone became more flustered.

“Do you really think I would be scared of those behind you? Funny bastards.”

“What? Uh, Elder, how can you…”

“Shut your mouths.”

“Uh?”

“Hak Jeong-gyeom, was it? If you act out one more time, I’ll rip your hair out of your head.”

‘..?!’

Hae Ack-chun pretended to pull on the hair with his hands. The commander who had been speaking until then fell silent.

-Man, the old man knows how to shock people.

I agree with Short Sword. Actually, I thought that Hae Ack-chun would take a step back, considering how many commanders were gathered here.

But no, he was pressuring them to back out instead!

If he was a rational being, he would have simply appeared strong. However, the fact that they called him the Ghastly Monster probably strengthened that perception more.

Thankfully, no one said anything.

-Only that crazy old man can do something like this.

-… right.

Instead, seeing this, I came to understand what having power felt like. How proud can one be of the strength they gained through their own effort?

“Is there anything more to say?”

“…”

No one protested. They actually thought Hae Ack-chun would rip their hair out, so they stayed silent.

“Then you lot can discuss how to divide the remaining 10.”

“Elder.”

But when everyone was forced to silence, one person came out. The person who crossed over the leaders and commanders was Han Baekha.

Observing the situation, she said.

“You are taking too many, Elder.”

The commanders who felt suffocated by the old man’s words were sighing in relief at her appearance. It was because she was the only one who could deal with this old man.

“You will come out now?”

“Elder. It seems like there are many talented people under you.”

“Many? What do you mean ‘many’?”

“Didn’t the Elder say it is cumbersome to have people during the Seven Stars Meeting? You declared that you would be independent, and if you suddenly take so many people, the distribution will not be fai…”

“You talk well.”

“What?”

“I am trying to raise a group this time.”

‘…!!’

At his words, everyone’s eyes widened. Even Han Baekha couldn’t control her expression.

Her eyes were shaking as she, too, was surprised at this unexpected news.

-Raising a group?

‘Right.’

Even before my regression, Hae Ack-chun had always moved alone. He was the only one who didn’t have his own group despite being in the position of an elder.

He, who had been alone, declared that he would raise a group in front of the commanders of other factions.

-Is it so shocking?

‘… Because the power balance of the Blood Cult will be shaken up in the future.’

Until now, except for Hae Ack-chun, the ten other high-ranking officials were in balance. But now, this could change the balance of power.

I turned my head to the front of the main hall.

Baek Ryeong-ha was visibly surprised.

Hae Ack-chun was called the Sleeping Dragon. So it must be shocking to her that this man was aiming for the position of the cult leader. In the future, she would probably try to persuade him even more.

-It will be tiring.

‘It will be.’

Instead, I saw this as an opportunity. If this made her more anxious, things would move quickly over on that side.

-That side? That fox?

‘Right.’

The powerless man decided to increase his power. This fact will become known to the heads of every faction. Once that was the case, even the red-eyed woman would move.

-You mean to come and convince the old man?

‘Yes.’

Neither Hae Ack-chun nor I know of the current balance of power.

If the red-eyed woman moves, only then will the clear picture be revealed.

-And by that… you mean?

Right, you’re a smart child, Short Sword.

-Now you realized it?

Iron Sword asked from his position at my back. It was better to weigh both sides than to stand on one side from the start. If you do it properly, you can get something from both sides. The standards and conditions for choosing a side would also become more advantageous.

-I don’t know what Wohwi and Short Sword are talking about.

-Just stay still then.

-Umm.

Well, Iron Sword still could not defeat Short Sword when it came to words. Han Baekha, in her shock, then said.

“The fact that the elder is raising a group… is quite shocking.”

“What is so surprising? In any case, it is no longer fair to call what I claimed as too many, right?”

“That….”

“Anyway, there are no members under me, so I tried to select the good ones, and I even left kids for you people too,”

He was saying that it was a kind of concession to them.

I wondered what direction they would have to this. Han Baekha, who was staring at him, then bowed.

“… I understand.”

The other people’s expressions visibly darkened when she, their only hope, stepped back.

But no one could argue it. As Hae Ack-chun declared, if he was to raise a group, he would need warriors under him.

Ultimately, they had to hide their eyes and distribute the ten given to them.

And the quality of the remaining 10 cannot be compared to the top ones on the list.

“Jwa-baek.”

“Yes,”

“Take care of the kids.”

“Yes!”

At Hae Ack-chun’s command, Song Jwa-baek became visibly excited and called for the selected trainees who were waiting.

Well, he must be glad to do something.

“Come on, everyone, line up here!’

They were assigned positions as they stood in front of Song Jwa-baek with an expression that clearly said they lacked understanding of what just happened.

The situation was quite funny. Only one person was staying behind.

When the selection was completed, Hae Ack-chun looked at Gu Sang-woong.

“Get things done quickly.”

“… Yes.”

I didn’t know why Gu Sang-woong had such a dark expression. Those who should be disappointed were the other commanders.

Maybe I didn’t see the full picture?

“Then, we will proceed with the ceremony for the upper-rank candidates. The six who passed, come to the front.”

“Yes!”

At his order, six people came up. The way the commanders looked at them visibly changed. They were forced to let go of the middle-rank candidates so they couldn’t let these ones slip away from their hands.

As the kids stood, Gu Sang-woong said,

“Then please, before the application is concluded, could the representatives give a brief speech of benefits and other things to help inform the candidates when choosing their position.”

Right, this was just like the past.

After hearing every speech, the candidates then got to choose which faction to join. It could be said that the final results depended on the individual commander’s eloquence.

[Come to the side.]

Hae Ack-chun called me. This time it was a task he had to perform, so why was he calling me?

But I went to where he called me to. As I approached, he looked down at me and said.

[You need to bring them all to me.]

‘…!’

Bring all the upper-rank warriors?

I knew he was greedy, but this was too much!

And don’t they get to choose? But the old man continued to speak.

[I will leave this to you. Try to convince them with your sassy mouth.]

[… You mean?]

I was asked to persuade all of them.

No, even so, the most experienced people were speaking out there. How could I do anything?

It felt like I would have to push myself this time too.

It’d probably be more appropriate to say that this was going to be something difficult to do.

[Teacher. How can I…]

[Huh! Is this guy saying someone in my position should go out and speak to lure them in?]

[…]

So.

You just wanted to look high and mighty?

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