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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!


Ak Yeonho turned out to be a lightweight drinker.

An absurdly lightweight drinker.

“Heeheehee, Hyung-nim… One more cup…”

“Why did I ever agree to this?”

I helped the half-unconscious Ak Yeonho up the stairs to my room, since the bastard hadn’t reserved any accommodations for himself. However, what was more upsetting was the fact that I had to pay for the drinks as well.

Well, we only managed to have a few drinks before Ak Yeonho was completely wasted, so it wasn’t too expensive, but still…

“Ugh…”

“Ahh, for crying out loud.”

I dumped the dead drunk punk on the bed and smiled ironically, recalling the looks on the female patrons’ faces as I carried Ak Yeonho to my room.

Well, this guy was indeed handsome, but that wasn’t the thing that bothered me the most.

Why the fuck would a martial artist let himself get wasted in front of a person they’re meeting for the first time? No, never mind a martial artist, no normal person would show their vulnerabilities so easily.

Is this guy really that innocent and trusting, or is he just that confident in his strength? No, what if…he’s testing me?

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Should I do something to confirm his intentions?

I thought about it for a while, then subsequently gave up. There was no benefit in making enemies out of a rich kid.

After a while, Ak Yeonho started to regain his senses. It seemed that he was the type who got drunk fast, but also recovered fast. Well, him being a peak-level master probably gave him a better metabolism than most.

“Guhhhh…”

“You awake?”

Ak Yeonho sat up on the bed, holding his head in his hands.

“Yeah, I haven’t drunk wine in a really long time, so I went a little overboard. Sigh, this is probably the reason why Dad forbade me from touching alcohol once I entered the gangho…”

I’m not exactly in any position to say this, but you should listen to your father.

“Why did you do that if you knew that you couldn’t handle your drink? Also, why didn’t you just drive the alcohol out of your body using your qi?”

Normally, it was nigh impossible for peak-level masters to get drunk on wine, because they could simply remove it using their qi.

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Ak Yeonho beamed in a way that would make any woman’s heart pound and replied, “What’s the point of drinking if not for the alcohol? I drink to get drunk.”

“Oh, so is that why you drank yourself into oblivion?”

“No, I just didn’t think that I would get so wasted. After all, I only drink once every few years.”

“Wow, good boy, I’m so proud of you.”

Ak-Yeon Ho suddenly grinned slyly, saying, “Well, what can I say? Hyung-nim is just too handsome, and that made the wine taste all the more delicious. As expected, wine is something that should be enjoyed while admiring the best artwork…”

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Suddenly, Ak-Yeon Ho noticed me trying to sneak out of the room. He immediately waved his arms frantically and corrected himself, “Wait! I was just kidding! If you leave me behind in my current state, I’ll really be thought of as a weirdo! Ahh, you really can’t take a joke, can you? Anyway, the reason I never got to drink much wine was because my strict father forbade it. Also, I thought that with my martial arts skills, my alcohol tolerance shouldn’t be that bad…”

Seriously, this guy. He looked like a playboy who had hit on a lot of girls, so I thought that he was a lot more mature than this, but it seems that he unexpectedly has an extremely naïve and innocent side to him.

Well, Mr Fattest from earlier was also a person whose easygoing appearance belied his shrewd, recalcitrant personality. When he left, he had acted like it was nothing, but I knew that the fatass would definitely not let things go so easily.

The gangho was a place where compassion meant nothing, and vengeance was never forgotten, after all.

Instead of letting him run off, Ak Yeonho should have just killed him. Only then would the problem have been solved for good.

Perhaps it was because I belonged to the Blood Cult, but I really couldn’t understand why these orthodox folks liked showing sympathy to their enemies so often.

Well, many of them did care about their reputation, but then all they’d have to do was hire an assassin to quietly murder their enemies and bury the corpses where no one would ever find them, or at least beat the guy up till he could no longer practice martial arts for the rest of his life. That kind of industry flourished for a reason, you know.

Just then, Ak Yeonho took a bulging wallet and waved it in front of me, asking, “Hyung-nim, want to go for another round? I swear that the drinks will be on me this time.”

“Go light on the alcohol, and order more food.”

…I guess it’s none of my business whether this guy goes around randomly making enemies or not.

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We ordered room service and resumed the drinking party in private.

“Kuhaa! Now this is the stuff!”

When people drink, they often begin talking about anything and everything. We were no exception.

“Anyway, my dad is just waaaay too overprotective!”

“Hmm? My dad is like that, too.”

Somehow, the conversation eventually started going in a weird direction. Insulting our fathers turned out to be a common topic between the two of us.

“Do you know why I’m so bad at drinking? It’s because he force-fed me so many miracle medicines and pills, I gained a body that cannot handle alcohol.”

“My dad secretly stalks me even into the backyard toilet. Once, I was so shocked at seeing him that I slipped and fell into the pit while taking a shit.”

“Hyung-nim, I know you’re drunk, but that’s a bit too much information…”

“What?”

“…Anyway, when I was a kid, my dad wouldn’t let me make friends. He told me that I had to learn martial arts first.”

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“My dad wouldn’t let the past me learn martial arts, so that me tried to learn some strange martial arts in secret and ended up almost dying multiple times.”

“Huh? If you did it, then you did it? Why are you talking like it’s someone else’s story?”

“Err, yeah, that was me. Right.”

“…Hyung-nim, you’re weird. Well, I do like martial arts a lot, and I’m pretty damned good at it to boot. I also don’t really like going outdoors, so I obediently did as my dad told me and became a peak-level master…”

At some point during this drunken conversation, I had given up eating and drinking and started just listening to Ak Yeonho ramble on.

BAM!

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Suddenly, Ak Yeonho slammed his hands into the table and angrily hollered, “And then! He fucking ordered me to go get married! How am I supposed to get married alone? I need a partner, right? You know what I’m saying?”

“…What are you saying?”

Ak Yeonho ignored my half-hearted answer and continued raving, “He told me to go find a girlfriend, and then outright kicked me out of the house!”

“…So that’s the full story behind why this is your first time entering the gangho, even though you’re already this old?”

“Yes, well, yes.”

That. Is. The. Dumbest. Reason. I’ve. Ever. Heard.

As I thought, this guy’s one hell of an eccentric punk!

Suddenly, a strange thought struck me, so I asked, “Dongsaeng, with your family background, wouldn’t they have arranged a marriage for you if you wished it? You’re pretty good-looking, and it shouldn’t be hard to find you a match.”

The moment he heard me mention that he was good-looking, Ak Yeonho immediately blushed. He then shook his head and replied, “Well, there’s that, but…my dad’s really scary, and…err, I’m…”

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Ak Yeonho scratched his head in embarrassment, then giggled, “I’m pretty picky when it comes to girls, tee hee.”

“I see, good for you.” I grinned and sipped a bit of wine.

As I listened to Ak Yeonho’s story, memories of the times I shared with Dad resurfaced in my mind.

“Your situation is the exact opposite of mine. I’ve been weak and sickly ever since I was a child, so my dad was very adamant about me leaving home.”

“I guess you do look like a feeble, delicate scholar…”

“Is that supposed to be an insult?”

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“…This is just a wild guess, but you’re actually a really strong supreme master, right?”

“Think whatever you want.”

Supreme master my ass.

Though, it was only natural that Ak Yeonho would misunderstand as he couldn’t feel any qi from me.

The truth was, I still had very little qi. Although I had already reached the first stage of the Heaven Defying Divine Art a while ago and created the foundations for a contaminated qi dantian, just that alone did not allow me to freely use qi.

If I want to be able to use qi without suffering from any side effects, I will have to reach the third stage…

No, that wasn’t enough. I had to fully cure my Heavenly Yin Blocked Meridians, and the only way to do that was to keep raising my mastery of the Heaven Defying Divine Art. To do that though, I needed a lot of medicines and formations, all of which cost a lot of money.

Money that I didn’t have.

As I recalled the astronomical amount of money I needed, I couldn’t help but sigh softly.

“Why are you sighing?”

“It’s nothing. By the way, Dongsaeng, where are you headed after this?”

“I’m going to the Azure Dragon Academy.”

I stiffened up.

No way…

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Then again, the town where I was at right now was only a few days away from Nanchang,1 where the Azure Dragon Academy was located.

With a feeling of dread in my heart, I asked, “What a coincidence! I’m on my way to the Azure Dragon Academy, too. However, Dongsaeng, aren’t you a little too old to enroll into the academy?”

“The same goes for you, right, Hyung-nim? Wait…it can’t be!”

“Are you also applying for a job there?”

“Are you also going there to look for a wife?”

We shouted at the same time.

…What the fuck are you saying!?

I narrowed my eyes at Ak Yeonho, who coughed awkwardly and meekly confessed, “Ahem. I mean, I’m going there to take the instructor’s exam.”

Ah, so that was why he got so riled up by Mr Fattest’s words.

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“Oi, what exactly did you mean when you said that you were going there to look for a wife?”

“Who said that? Me? Since when?”

So you’re going to act stupid now? Too bad, it’s already too late.

I stared suspiciously at Ak Yeonho, and then the answer suddenly hit me. I immediately drew my sword and pointed it at the punk, saying, “You’re not going to lay your hands on the students, are you…? You’re crazy!”

“Cough, cough! What are you accusing me of? I didn’t mean it that way!”

“Shut up! I’m going to cut off your balls and save all the innocent young girls of the murim!”

“And I’m telling you that’s not what I meant!”

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Ak Yeonho desperately tried to explain himself, but that wasn’t enough for me to lower my suspicion of him.

“So what you’re saying is, your dad told you that you weren’t allowed to return home before finding a fiancée? And that you’re going to the academy to find a nice woman?”

“Yes!”

“Of all places, why did you choose the Azure Dragon Academy?”

“For the longest time, my ideal type of woman has always been the elegant, intelligent kind,” Ak-Yeon Ho replied, grinning from ear to ear, as if he was embarrassed.

He didn’t seem to be lying, so I decided to let him off the hook for now.

“What about you, Hyung-nim? Why are you applying to the academy as an instructor?”

Without a twinge of guilt, I confidently answered, “I’m going there to make money. My goal is to become a Star Instructor and earn tons of money.”

“That’s so pragmatic.”

“You better control that thing in your pants. If you dare touch the kids, I’m going to cut them off.”

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“For the last time, I’m telling you that is not what I meant!”

Amid the clink of wine cups, night soon fell.

Ak Yeonho and I decided to travel together until we reached Nanchang, where the Azure Dragon Academy was. It was like traveling with a competitor, but…

There’s going to be more than one applicant anyway, and compared to the benefits of freeloading food and inn fees off the rich kid, something like that is trivial. Besides, having a companion to talk to on the road makes the trip a lot less boring.

“Hahaha, as long as I hang out with Baek-hyung, I’m sure the women will be lining up for us!”

…On second thought, is this really okay?

sep

A few days later, we arrived at Nanchang.

“Uncle!”2

“Long time no see, Suryong,” A man greeted me with a big smile on his face. It was Go Juyeol, the “Flying Eagle”.

As Nanchang was the largest city in Jiangxi Province, both the Jiangxi Branch of the Murim Alliance and the Azure Dragon Academy were located here.

Also, the reason why I went to look for Go Juyeol was because there was something I needed from him.

“I heard from Muheun that you were coming here, so I wrote your recommendation letter in advance.”

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“Thank you,” I replied, taking the recommendation letter from him.

Compared to a few months ago, Go Juyeol looked a lot more worn out. Even then, he’d taken some time out of his busy schedule to meet me and help me.

Go Juyeol looked at me with satisfaction and asked, “You look a lot healthier now than you did before. Also, is the young man next to you your friend?”

“Yes, he’s a friend that I made on the way here.”

“My name is Ak Yeonho, and it’s my first time in the gangho.”

“Are you from the Shandong Ak Clan?”

Just like that, the three of us talked for a while, but because of Go Juyeol’s work, we couldn’t hang out for long.

Go Juyeol patted me on the shoulder, saying, “A letter of recommendation is just a letter of recommendation. Pretty much every applicant has one. I’m sorry, but among all the referees, I’m probably one of the least influential ones.”

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“No, don’t be, I’m already grateful that you’re even willing to write me one. I’ll take care of the rest myself.”

Being good at martial arts was not the only criteria for an instructor. One also needed to come from a good family, have a clean background, an illustrious career record, and excel at the interview.

Furthermore, Go Juyeol hinted to me that this year’s competition was going to be fierce.

“I believe in you. Well, I’d like to talk more, but I’ve really got to go. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t got any energy.”

“Are you normally this busy?”

“I’m always busy. This is the murim after all, where stuff happens every single day. Sigh… I haven’t got enough manpower, and I get paid peanuts…”

Suddenly, as if realizing that this wasn’t information that he should be telling us, Go Juyeol coughed and said, “Anyway, I at least want to treat you to a meal before you go…”

“Please don’t worry about that.”

“Then, next time, I’ll throw a party to celebrate you passing the instructor’s exam. Oh, and I hope you pass too.”

“Yes! Thank you!”

Go Juyeol rose from his seat, and we bowed our heads in respect. He took a few steps forward and was just about to leave, when suddenly, he spun around and walked back toward us.

“You know, there is one way you can earn some big bonus points for the interview… Therefore, Suryong, want to help me with something?”

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“What? Are you asking me to help you with your work?”

“About that…” Go Juyeol hesitated for a moment, then carefully continued, “Recently, there was one case in which a civilian was killed by a group of martial artists.”

“……!!”

Unlike Ak Yeonho next to me, I wasn’t particularly surprised by this news. Such things were common, especially back when I was part of the unorthodox sects.

However, as if that wasn’t all, Go Juyeol looked around to check that no one would overhear us and whispered, “We suspect that the people who did it…used demonic arts.”

“…What?”

Now this was surprising, even to me.


Translator’s Note: Epubs for the 2nd arc of Northern Blade are out, if you missed my previous post!


Footnotes:

  1. Nanchang: The capital city of Jiangxi Province, China. It is located next to Poyang Lake and is one of the many cities along the Yangtze River. The most notable landmark there would probably be the Pavilion of Prince Teng, one of the Three Great Towers of Southern China along with the Yueyang Tower (Hunan) and the Yellow Crane Tower (Wuhan). 

  2. Uncle: 백부 baekbu, meaning “older uncle on the dad’s side” (in this case, Suryong’s dad and Go Juyeol are sworn brothers). English just hasn’t got enough vocabulary for all the different types of relatives. 

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