Geum Seo-il, although he is just 30 years old, he’s called a great swordsman in Murim.
In his early days at the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy, he was the second-ranked student, and his talent was recognized by everyone.
Because of the test he devised, Geum Seo-il was appointed as the final test’s supervisor this year.
The test was called the Crossroads of Choice by Geum Seo-il.
The test taker who opened the door and then looked around couldn’t hide his confusion.
When he came in, he saw two paths.
At the first path stood Geum Seo-il, the test supervisor, and at the second stood a large man wearing a demon mask holding an iron stick.
A deep puddle was behind the large man, with a girl trapped in a cage suspended above it.
“What is this?”
To answer the curious test taker’s question, Geum Seo-il said.
“Welcome to the final test.”
The test taker politely bowed his head to the man who looked like the supervisor.
So Gem Seo-il slightly bowed back and said,
“The final test is one that respects the candidate’s choice.”
“Sorry? What do you me…”
“You just need to choose one of the two.”
“Choice in what sense?”
“It’s like this, the candidates who pass the first and second tests are qualified to attend the Academy. So all I’m doing is providing them a choice.”
After that, the candidate looked at both paths.
There was no further explanation, so he kept looking at them, and he thought that the second path looked difficult.
However, hasty judgments couldn’t be made.
“Supervisor, what about the first path?”
“It’s simple. I’ll be wearing this acceptance certificate over my head, and with my eyes covered, I will be standing in the middle of the path.”
“Yes. Take your certificate to pass. As I count to five, I’ll be standing here with my eyes covered. And after exactly five seconds, I will remove the covering from my eyes.”
“And what if I can’t take it in time?”
“You can still obtain the certificate, but only if you can endure five attack formations against me.”
At those words, the test taker looked interested.
Judging by the distance, it seemed easy to use the Light Body Method to take the certificate.
With that, it really looked like the final test was a free pass.
‘This is easy.’
There was no need to think.
He was going to choose the first path.
But since he was curious about the second path, he asked.
“And the second path, sir?”
“Simple. You need to rescue the girl who was captured by that warrior of the Forces of Evil. However, after a certain amount of time, that rope will break, so if you can’t rescue her within that time limit, you won’t be able to pass.”
It sounded simple, but compared to the past tests, the second path was difficult.
If that warrior wasn’t defeated within the set time frame, rescuing the girl would be impossible.
Did the test takers have to go on such an adventure?
After thinking that, his choice came out without hesitation.
“I choose the first path.”
“Hmm. That’s a good choice, but whether it’s the first or the second path, there’s a rule that you have to follow.”
“Sorry? What is it?”
“You must never speak.”
“Right. You will be eliminated regardless of your result if you utter even a single word before the test is over. Keep that in mind.”
It wasn’t a difficult condition.
Because no one would need to utter anything during the test.
So the candidate confidently moved towards the first path.
As he moved, supervisor Geum Seo-il covered his eyes.
‘Then, let’s start now.’
The moment the candidate was going to take the first quick step.
A sight that shocked him appeared.
The iron cage behind the large man was slowly falling into the puddle.
It seemed like there was some kind of misunderstanding.
The problem, however, was that the girl was unable to speak and couldn’t move.
At that moment, Geum Seo-il said.
The countdown began.
In an instant, the candidate became confused.
If it wasn’t for that one rule, he would have shouted and asked them to help the girl, but he would fail if he did that.
And if he ignored it and took the test, the cage would sink right into the water.
If he runs now, he has a chance of passing the test.
But if he did that, he wasn’t sure what would happen to the trapped girl.
However, he was now in the final test, and it was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.
Besides, if he didn’t defeat that warrior in the demon mask, then he wouldn’t pass the second path.
Confused, the test taker was unsure of what to do.
Because of the pressure he was feeling and the torment of being unable to choose a path, he could no longer hear the supervisor’s voice.
And then, the supervisor removed his eye covering.
Until then, the candidate was unable to choose a path.
While looking at the candidate, Geum Seo-il said.
The candidate was shocked by those words.
And while looking at him, the supervisor spoke in a cold tone.
“Seeing that iron cage falling slowly and looking at the girl unable to talk, if you stayed still, then you don’t deserve to be admitted into the academy.”
“W-What do you mean?”
The candidate saw that the iron cage, which was half-submerged in the water, rose upwards.
And the girl waved at him with a smile.
For a moment, he felt disappointed.
‘… no way.’
It wasn’t an accident.
It was the intended situation, and he was the one who couldn’t make a decision.
Confused, the candidate tried to protest.
“Is-Isn’t this too much? If you were going for this, why make it a choice?”
“Didn’t I tell you?”
“You had five seconds to take the certificate on this side, or you could take the second path and save the girl before getting your certificate.”
“No. How could you expect me to choose in such a situation where I would be eliminated if I spoke?”
Geum Seo-il looked at the candidate with a slight grin.
“You’re a funny one. The options were varied. The distance between me and you can be covered within five seconds, and once you took the certificate, you could have reported it to me, right?”
“And you’re definitely lacking something.”
“If you really were concerned about her, then you should have run there without thinking. Well, regardless, this is the outcome.”
At those words, the candidate was flustered.
The supervisor was right.
When a person was in danger, he went still, neither choosing himself or the girl.
Geum Seo-il spoke calmly, pointing to the door he should leave out of.
“I don’t even like looking at you now. Hurry up and leave.”
The candidate shrugged and then walked out.
Seeing that, Geum Seo-il clicked his tongue.
The real purpose of the test was to identify the warriors’ spirits and judgment.
At least a logical person would have done what he said, and a kind person would choose the second path despite the outcome.
“This is a difficult one. I’m glad that I didn’t have this test when I joined.”
He turned his head at the voice.
There stood Tang So-so, the assistant of the second test supervisor.
Geum Seo-il clicked his tongue.
“This isn’t difficult. The second path is practically impossible to complete, but making a choice almost guarantees a pass.”
“Uh? That’s all?”
“However, in a situation where there’s someone to save, you will experience the pressure of dealing with a Super Master.”
Geum Seo-il smiled at those words.
He was enjoying the situation.
‘… it’s not a bad one.’
Anyone who was in the middle of such a situation would fall into confusion.
Perhaps they’d be stunned.
It wasn’t easy to fight a warrior and ensure that the hostage doesn’t sink.
Tang So-so stuck her tongue out.
“… there seem to be more failures here than the second test.”
“So-so, there are successful ones here too, more than you think.”
Geum Seo-il remembered two people.
The descendant of the Southern Sword of the Emperor.
As if choosing the second path wasn’t enough, she was better than the warrior in the demon mask.1
The test was supposed to put them through despair, but she overcame it.
However, she was unable to save the girl.
Regardless, the test’s purpose was achieved, so she was accepted.
‘The Eastern River Blade Master’s disciple… was interesting too.’
Young-chun chose the first path.
By the time Geum Seo-il counted to 2, he had snatched the certificate, but then he unexpectedly ran towards the water.
He was blocked by the warrior in the demon mask, but he tried to defeat the man without the slightest bit of hesitation.
Both of them showed better results than anyone else.
‘However, the Eastern River Blade Master’s disciple is a bit behind the child of the Southern Sword, but he was great.’
He could see why the others, too, wanted to be supervisors of the tests.
They wanted to see different aspects of the candidates.
Satisfied, he smiled then asked.
“But, why are you here?”
“Now you’re asking? I was going to ask the office to help me fill the lake with water, all thanks to one test taker.”
“Fill the lake?”
“Yes. One candidate used force to move across the water, leading to it spilling out, and now, the lake is only two-thirds full.”
“What? He used Flying Above Water?”2
Geum Seo-il frowned.
This wasn’t a technique that test takers of this age could use.
The only one who could use it around there would be supervisor Ka Yu-hang.
Thinking that it was strange, Geum Seo-il asked.
“… by any chance, is that candidate the one called Mumu who ripped the first test’s gates?”
“Uh? How did you know?”
“Yeon Nam-kyung told me about it.”
Come to think of it, Yeon Nam-kyung was the assistant for the first test, and he too went to ask for the office’s help.
“Well, Supervisor Geum, I’m in a hurry, so I’ll leave first.”
After she left, Geum Seo-il stroked his chin.
He dismissed what Yeon Nam-kyung had told him.
However, the same thing happened in the second test too, and now he was curious.
‘He’s Yu Jin-sung’s brother, right?’
He heard that he was a talented person.
But this one didn’t feel the same.
It felt suspicious that one child halted two tests.
And if this was being done intentionally, then he couldn’t forgive the kid.
‘If… if you’re doing this on purpose, be prepared kid.’
This test was different from the previous ones.
It can’t be passed with brute strength alone, unlike the first two.
After an hour or so.
Geum Seo-il clicked his tongue as he saw the back of the student called Ha-ryun, who leisurely took his certificate.
This kid was different from the other test takers.
And his skill wasn’t the only different thing.
He was a little surprised that this kid took the certificate after just two counts.
It was because his speed was almost equal to Young-chun’s.
However, the kid started to leave as soon as he took the certificate.
So Geum Seo-il asked.
[Why didn’t you tell me that the cage was falling into the water?]
[Wasn’t that planned? You also told me not to talk.]
[And even if it was a real accident, it’s not my responsibility to deal with it; it’s the supervisor and the academy’s responsibility.]
Since he said that, Geum Seo-il couldn’t talk back.
Although the purpose wasn’t met, there was truth in those words.
He didn’t break the rules.
However, his thoughts were different from the others.
‘He soured my mood.’
Since the kid passed, he decided to keep an eye on him.
But he had noticed that the kid’s hand was hurt.
His palm was swollen, and it had purple cracks in it too.
And when he asked if it was fine before the test started, the kid showed strong displeasure.
Did something happen?
He was puzzled, but the next test taker came in, and the preparations for the test were done.
He didn’t like how this one walked all over while looking around.
The test taker’s face had a rare handsomeness, but their expression was simple.
Geum Seo-il asked.
“Name of the candidate?”
His eyes narrowed at that.
He’s Yu Jin-sung’s brother who messed up the first and second tests, right?
Finally, he got to meet him.
‘I’ll see what kind of person you are.’
If he really turned out to be a troublemaker, then he’d bring him in line.
And this test was different from the others.
The warrior disguised as a member of the Forces of Evil was at the Super Master Level.
And fighting him wouldn’t end too well for the kid.
“Welcome to the final test. This is the final test that respects the choice of the candidates.”
He explained everything like he did for the previous kids.
Through the test, the candidate’s nature could be found out.
He gave Mumu the choice.
“Which path will you choose?”
Mumu titled his head at the question and then walked over to the first path.
Seeing that, Geum Seo-il smiled.
He understood it.
Anyone would want an easy way in.
However, this was a psychological test.
Geum Seo-il took out the eye covering.
And when Mumu reached the first path, he put the covering on and shouted.
He covered his eyes, but he was aware of everything that was going to happen.
The iron bars were going to sink.
And then the real test would start.
But he didn’t know whether Mumu would take the first or second path…
At that moment, a great roar echoed in Geum Seo-il’s ears.
It was the sound of the ground breaking.
What was that?
That time it was the sound of something crashing into a wall.
‘What? What was that sound?’
Geum Seo-il shouted.
Before he got to three, he heard a series of sounds he couldn’t identify.
“W-Wait! What you are doing now…”
Swoosh! Rumble! Thud!
The sound of something falling to the ground, as well as the ground’s vibration.
It was difficult to know what was going on.
He was going crazy because of his curiosity, so he just counted.
And then he felt the certificate on his head come off.
Frustrated, not knowing what happened, he took the eye covering off.
Geum Seo-il was stunned by what he saw.
“Did I pass?”
In Mumu’s hand was the iron cage.
The girl who was locked in the cage was holding the bars with a pale face.
She seemed severely motion sick.
‘… what happened?’
He couldn’t understand or even guess anything.
Was the kid in such a hurry to complete the test that he brought the iron cage with him?
What a thought!
Wait, what happened to the warrior in the demon mask then?
Geum Seo-il turned towards where he heard a groan from.
The warrior in the demon mask, no Yimun, who was helping out in this test, groaned in pain since he had just smashed into a wall.
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