Chapter 23: They Pass!
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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
“Students pick their own instructors? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
The Azure Dragon Academy recruitment notice for new instructors left me baffled. These were the new regulations they had come up with this year:
- Applicants who pass the background screening, interviews, and practical tests will be hired as temporary instructors for three months.
- Temporary instructors are evaluated by existing instructors and students every month, and the final successful applicants will be decided after tallying the final instructor evaluation score with students’ voting results.
- Successful candidates will then be entitled to a three-year contract with the school as a full-time instructor.
…Is this the so-called vicious cycle of corporate slavery? Using the carrot and stick approach to make people work extra hard just to continue their contract?
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“…Even if we pass the first test, we’ll only be hired as temporary instructors for three months. We’ll receive a proper monthly salary during that period, right?”
“Surprisingly, everything else is written in detail, but the answer to your question is blatantly missing.”
“Those cheap bastards…”
…Good. Verrrrry good. So what if you’re the Azure Dragon Academy, one of the murim’s Five Great Academies? Does that mean you can treat people however you want? …Actually, yeah, you can. Fuck.
Still, letting students evaluate and grade instructors every month? Shouldn’t it be the other way round?
“Are they trying to tell me to curry my own students’ favor?”
“What’s wrong with that? I think it’ll be fun.” Ak Yeon-Ho grinned like a clueless idiot.
I shot him an incredulous look and asked, “Fun? No, it’s not fun. How do you expect to teach kids martial arts without making them hate us…? Are the guys at the academy looking down on serious martial arts training or what?”
“Hyung-nim, you’re really passionate about teaching, aren’t you?”
“…How did you know that?”
“You’re acting just like my father did when he taught me martial arts.”
“And thanks to him, you became a peak expert at your age, right?”
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“Thanks to him, I’ve never had a girlfriend before even at this age.”
“Hey, what’s with that condescending look!”
Anyway, I’m in deep shit. As a former Blood Cult martial arts instructor, I have a habit of teaching martial arts quite harshly. Although it’s not to the extent where I physically or mentally abuse the kids, a mild amount of coercion and fear helps a lot in bringing out their latent talents.
Besides, isn’t the whole point of martial arts to beat up someone else? Fantasizing about becoming strong without suffering for it is just wishful thinking. Only those who are good at getting beaten can get good at beating up others. That’s my theory, at least.
“Wow, your thoughts are so old-fashioned!” Ak Yeon-Ho commented after hearing my opinion on teaching.
Yeah, whatever… I glared at the job posting disapprovingly.
Suddenly, a thought struck me. “Isn’t it school vacation right now? From what I understand, the Azure Dragon Academy is hiring new instructors before the start of the new semester. If there are no students, who’s doing the voting?” I asked.
“Oh, that. Although the Azure Dragon Academy has two school vacations a year, about half of the students remain in the dorms instead of going home.”
“I see. Anyway, before we can even talk about the voting, we need to first pass the background check, the interview, and the first round of tests.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
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“Moreover, the students who will be observing us from the moment we step into the Academy, so we have to be wary of the image we’re portraying all the time. “
I placed a hand on my chin, lost in thought. Since the Azure Dragon Academy belongs to the orthodox sects, I initially thought that it would be enough if I just acted all uppity and scholarly like Confucius or Mencius, and quoted lines from them while teaching martial arts, but it seems like the competition will be much fiercer than I predicted.
Damn, I’m getting fired up. As someone who not only survived the harsh competition within the Blood Cult, but came out on top, my desire to win has been lit.
Compared to all that bullshit I went through, the so-called harsh training of the orthodox sect softies is nothing. Even so, this is a new challenge that I’ve never experienced before! Bring it on!
“How many new instructors are they hiring?”
“Five out of more than a hundred applicants.”
“Five out of a hundred… Since the interview is still three days away, should I just go ahead and kill ninety-five of them to reduce the competition?”
“…Uhm, you’re joking, right?”
Of course, I’m joking, dumbass. I’m not part of the Blood Cult anymore, I’m an upright person who follows the Murim Alliance’s rules… I’ll exploit every loophole I can find, though.
“Hyung-nim, you’re not going to give up because it’s hard, are you?” Ak Yeon-Ho anxiously asked after I fell silent for a while.
“…Give up? Me? What are you talking about? I don’t know the meaning of giving up.” The corners of my mouth twitched.
If you′re seeing this, you are at the wrong place.
I, the best martial arts instructor in the entire Blood Cult, give up in the face of a miniscule challenge? No. Fucking. Way. The moment that I give up is the moment I die. Whether it’s in the unorthodox or orthodox sects, I know that I’m the absolute best at what I do.
I’m going to ace every test those people at the Azure Dragon Academy come up with, and show them how unworthy they are of judging my abilities.
“I was just thinking how I should celebrate after getting first place in the exam.”
“…You sound kind of cringey, but I suppose that’s still better than chickening out.”
The interview was in three days, and the practical test would be held a week after the announcement of the interview results. I needed to prepare as best as I could within that limited timeframe.
I’ve been practicing the Eighteen Strikes of the Viridian Forest regularly, so I should be fine with regards to outer arts, but if I could raise my Heaven Defying Divine Art to two stars before the test, that would be even better… There’s no guarantee that Bok Man-Chun would be able to get the spiritual herbs I need within ten days though, so I should prepare for the test assuming that I won’t be able to increase my inner qi.
Ak Yeon-Ho gave me a sincere look of concern and said, “Whether it’s martial arts or the interview, one or two days more practice won’t change much. We should focus our winning strategy on other areas.”
“Oh my god, you’re actually saying something intelligent!?”
“…How do you usually see me?”
“A young man with strong martial arts but no common sense?”
…Anyway, as Ak Yeon-Ho was born and raised in a prestigious family, he naturally had more information on the Azure Dragon Academy than I did. It would be prudent to at least listen to what he had to say.
“You must first finish the pre-battle preparations. You know, Hyung-nim, ever since the first time I saw you, I’ve been thinking… Tsk tsk.” Ak Yeon-Ho observed me keenly and clicked his tongue.
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“Why, oh why aren’t you making good use of your strongest weapon…?”
“My strongest weapon?” What weapon? I’m unarmed! I stared at Ak Yeon-Ho absurdly.
However, Ak Yeon-Ho suddenly reached out and grabbed me by the wrist, saying, “Nope, we can’t delay this any longer. Let’s go!”
“Delay what? Go where?” I opened my eyes wide in shock at Ak Yeon-Ho’s unexpected act of familiarity.
Ak Yeon-Ho thumped his chest in frustration and replied, “Where else? The clothing store, of course!”
“The clothing store? Why…?”
“Please don’t tell me you were planning on going for the interview dressed in that shabby black rag?”
I turned around and looked at myself in the mirror, only to see a younger version of the (in)famous Handsome Prince wearing a black coat over a similarly black martial arts uniform.
I’ve never been interested in fashion, so…
“…What’s wrong with black?” I asked.
Ak Yeon-Ho shook his head, tugged at my wrist, and groaned, “Shut up and just come with me!”
“Eh? Uh…” For the first time, I was overwhelmed by Ak Yeon-Ho’s sheer conviction and blindly let him lead me along.
“We’ll tidy up your hair while we’re at it! Oh, and your eyebrows need trimming, too! Don’t you know that these days, even men have to work hard on their appearances? No matter how handsome you are, if you don’t take good care of your face, you’ll look old and wrinkly in just a few years!”
“…You’re too loud, my eardrums are going to burst.”
In the end, I was dragged around by Ak Yeon-Ho all day long, only stopping to buy new clothes, shoes, and belts. I even ended up going to several shops frequented by women to cut my hair, trim my eyebrows, and buy cosmetics…
If you′re seeing this, you are at the wrong place.
Three days later, at the Azure Dragon Academy.
The twin Azure Dragons engraved on the Academy front doors seemed to fly apart as the heavy doors opened, revealing a spacious training ground surrounded by buildings. A stern old man standing in the middle of the training ground shouted, “New instructor interviewees, please enter!”
It was finally time for the applicant interviews. For this day, many hopefuls had traveled to the Azure Dragon Academy, including village academy instructors and freelance martial artists who were confident in their teaching and fighting skills. However, when they saw the sheer size and majesty of the Academy, many of them were hit with a sense of intimidation.
Although the Azure Dragon Academy was ranked at the very bottom of the murim’s Five Great Academies, it still stood far above the schools in the boonies.
“Stand by and wait for your turn!” The old man shouted again as he distributed wooden placards with numbers written on them to the applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Only a few people would be allowed to enter the academy ground at a time.
“We will interview five people at a time. Please remain quiet while you are inside the academy.”
As the old man expected, the applicants who had been excitedly chatting with each other immediately shut their mouths, including those who were waiting outside.
“Tsk.” A muscly young man with thick eyebrows stood on the roof of the Azure Dragon Academy’s First Dormitory, frowning and clicking his tongue in irritation as he looked down at the instructor applicants from above. “There are a lot of applicants this time.”
His name was Dokgo Jun1, and he was the current President of the Azure Dragon Academy Student Council, as well as one of the Academy’s most talented students within the last ten years.
“We already rejected half of them from the background screening, but most of the remaining ones are still trash,” Tang So-So, a young woman with sharp eyes and the Vice-President of the Student Council, added.
“It’s probably a result of the Azure Dragon Academy’s poor reputation, but how dare these people apply when they’re not even first-rate?”
northbladetl.com welcomes you. “If they’re weaker than us students, they should be immediately eliminated.”
Both Dokgo Jun and Tang So-So ranked among the few first-rate martial artists studying in the Azure Dragon Academy, and they were very proud of their skills. As such, the instructors they were searching for were those who could help them improve enough to defeat the students at the other Five Great Academies.
“This year’s Heavenly Martial Tournament won’t end the same way it did before.”
For the past few years, the Azure Dragon Academy had been humiliated at every Heavenly Martial Tournament, and just last year, Dokgo Jun could only clench his teeth as he watched his seniors get utterly crushed by the other academies.
It was then that he made up his mind. He would change the Azure Dragon Academy.
To do that, he first created the Student Council and persuaded the academy director to change the regulations for hiring new instructors.
This year will be different!
For the first time, new instructors would be evaluated and chosen by the students.
No more behind-the-scenes recommendations, bribes, and pulling strings. Only truly qualified people will be hired!
Right here, right now, he would judge the applicants and filter out the strong ones.
Unfortunately, the situation was much bleaker than he’d predicted. As time passed, the disappointment on the two’s faces became more and more evident.
“…There aren’t many masters.”
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“Yeah, and more than half of them have already entered… KYAAH!” Suddenly, Tang So-So’s eyes sparkled.
“So-So? What’s wrong?”
“Ahhn…” Tang So-So dreamily raised a finger and pointed in a certain direction, drool flowing out from her mouth. “Th-There…” she stuttered like an infatuated little girl, even though she was commonly known as the Cold-Blooded Poisoner.
Her heart was thumping so loudly that Dokgo Jun could hear it, her face was as red as a beetroot, and her breathing was getting more ragged by the second. “So-So! Are you okay?” he asked, concerned.
“What? What the hell are you talking about?”
Dokgo Jun looked where Tang So-So was pointing, only to see two young men entering the Azure Dragon Academy together. One of them was tall and dressed in blue, while the other was of ordinary height and wearing red.
They looked like they had walked out of a painting. The sunlight seemed to focus on them, and the wind blew their hair in just the right way while creating a swirl of flower petals around them.
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As all eyes fell upon the two young men, Tang So-So finally managed to say what she couldn’t a moment ago, “Pass…”
“Huh? What do you mean, pass?”
The Cold-Blooded Poisoner Tang So-So blushed and shouted, “THEY PASS! I’m going to learn martial arts from them!”
Regardless of her reputation, Tang So-So was still a seventeen-year-old teenage girl.
Translator’s Note: HAPPY NEW YEAR! To a great 2023!
Dokgo Jun: Two-word last name, Dokgo. “Jun” means handsome. ↩
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