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


After the sixteenth group interviews ended, Kwak Cheol-Woo clicked his tongue and said, “How could such an arrogant punk exist? Him? An external arts expert? Bah!”

“……”

“Mr. Namgoong, don’t worry about it. That fool was just desperate to attract attention.”

“……”

Since the start of the interviews, Kwak Cheol-Woo had been carefully observing Namgoong Su’s expressions. Although he was much older and had a lot more experience in the murim, the Three Absolutes Sword Namgoong Su was the Star Instructor of the Azure Dragon Academy. Every semester, not only would numerous students line up to take Namgoong Su’s classes, even those from outside the academy would submit requests for private tutoring. He was so popular, the other Five Great Academies had already sent Namgoong Su several job offers over the last few years.

Although I’m glad and relieved that Mr. Namgoong choose to stay on at our Azure Dragon Academy… humans are fickle creatures. If we don’t do our best to accommodate him and lose our best teacher, then the Azure Dragon Academy will likely be kicked out of the Five Great Academies.

I think that young man’s name was Baek Su-Ryong? I wanted to let him pass as he was highly recommended by the Flying Eagle, but…that interview couldn’t have gone any worse than it did. Of all things, he went and pissed off our Star Instructor, so even if we passed him, his future will be bleak.

“There are a lot of people out there who want to destroy Mr. Namgoong’s good reputation by challenging you. It’s really unreasonable, so I hope you don’t pay it any mind…”

“……” Namgoong Su said nothing, as if he was in deep thought.

Sweating bullets at Namgoong Su’s continued silence, Kwak Cheol-Woo nervously continued, “Are you offended that I stopped the fight earlier? But if you had hurt him, I’m sure he’d be out there spreading bad rumors about you. It’s not your fault…”

“That young man didn’t seem like the kind of person who would do that, “ Noh Gun-Sang suddenly interjected.

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“Principal…” Kwak Cheol-Woo glared at him for a moment as if he wanted to argue back, but the old man’s authority was absolute, both as his superior at work and in martial arts.

Noh Gun-Sang giggled and thought about the events that had just transpired. “If the Vice-Principal hadn’t stopped him, he would have continued insisting on fighting. Was that what you were thinking, Mr. Namgoong?”

“…Yes. He was getting too ahead of himself,” Namgoong Su coldly replied.

Noh Gun-Sang grinned mischievously and shot him a knowing look, asking, “Then why didn’t you stop him first? Are you curious to find out more about his skill in the external arts?”

Despite being seen through, Namgoong Su’s aloof expression remained unchanged. “I don’t gain anything from stopping him, and it was I who provoked him first.”

“So, what you’re saying is, you turned it into a stress interview on purpose?”

Namgoong Su nodded and confidently said, “Yes, I wanted to rile him up so that when he loses to me, he won’t be too embarrassed and can blame it on his own rashness.”

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That was the natural attitude and pride of a peak-level martial master who was also the Star Instructor of the Azure Dragon Academy. Even in that situation, he didn’t want to humiliate an inferior martial artist.

Impressed by Namgoong Su’s composure, Kwak Cheol-Woo praised him again, saying, “Not only are you strong, Mr. Namgoong, you’re also very considerate. Even in the face of those horrible insults, you endured it to preserve the other person’s dignity… You’re a fine example to the other teachers!”

“No, I’m the one at fault for antagonizing the interviewee. I’ll need to work on improving my self-discipline so that such things don’t happen again.”

“No no no, didn’t you only do it out of concern for the future of our Azure Dragon Academy? Besides, in my opinion, that man isn’t fit to be an external arts instructor at all,” Kwak Cheol-Woo made another attempt to curry favor, but Namgoong Su expressionlessly shrugged off his flattery.

Meanwhile, Noh Gun-Sang folded his arms and also recalled the young man who had just left. Baek Su-Ryong, huh? His keen, sharp eyes and carefully calculated tone of voice left a strong impression on me. Although he didn’t appear particularly strong to me, for some reason, I can’t help but feel nervous in front of him…

“Do the two of you think that we should reject Baek Su-Ryong?” he asked.

“Yes,” Kwak Cheol-Woo answered immediately.

Namgoong Su briefly glanced at Noh Gun-Sang’s expression, then nodded, saying, “I agree with the Vice-Principal that we should reject his application… What about you, Principal?”

Until now, Noh Gun-Sang hadn’t intervened in their final decisions on who would pass the interview. The most he did was laugh while randomly asking questions about the applicants’ pasts. However, this time, he declared with finality, “Ak Yeon-Ho, Myeong Il-Oh, and Baek Su-Ryong pass the sixteenth round of interviews.”

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“What? Why?” Kwak Cheol-Woo exclaimed, his eyes widening with surprise. A moment later, as if he’d realized how rude he’d just been, he lowered his head and said, “Apologies for my rudeness, Principal.”

With glittering eyes like an excited child, Noh Gun-Sang laughed, “Hohoho, don’t worry about it. I’m just curious about Mr. Baek Su-Ryong, that’s all. When you get to my age, you don’t often meet someone whose strength and personality you can’t gauge after a short conversation. It’s been decades since the last time I ran into a situation like this.”

Namgoong Su sulkily blurted, “…I’ve never heard you praise someone so much before, Principal.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t call it a compliment. Not yet. Mr. Baek Su-Ryong might just be an unusually eccentric person. Anyway, I’ll need to see more of him to confirm it.”

“Is that so…” Namgoong Su fell silent for a while, then softly mumbled, “You won’t change your mind even if I don’t agree with you?”

“Nope. Why the long face? Does it bother you?”

“……” Namgoong Su locked gazes with Noh Gun-Sang. Trapped between the two, Kwak Cheol-Woo tried to say something, but Namgoong Su quickly gave in and turned away from Noh Gun-Sang.

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“I see. If the Principal thinks that he deserves a re-evaluation, then I’ll carefully observe him again, too… I hope you’re right about him being more than he seems,” he conceded with a faint smile that did not reach his eyes.

“Good. If it still irks you, just think of it as sacrificing a little of your time for the future of the Azure Dragon Academy.”

“……” Namgoong Su’s eyebrows twitched with irritation, but he remained silent.

Desperate to quell the tension between his superior and their best teacher, Kwak Cheol-Woo immediately shouted, “Group Seventeen, please enter!”

sep

“Hyung-nim, don’t you think that you went too far?” Ak Yeon-Ho nagged.

“What do you mean?” I answered in a deadpan voice.

Ak Yeon-Ho leaned in close to me and whispered, “Why did you provoke the Star Instructor of the Azure Dragon Academy? What if he takes offense at your rudeness? Fortunately, the Vice-Principal helped to defuse the flames…”

“I knew he would get in my way,” I interrupted, smirking.

“What?” Ak Yeon-Ho stared at me blankly.

“Place yourself in the Vice-Principal’s shoes. If you were him, would you have allowed the best instructor in the academy to fight a mere applicant? The school gains nothing if Namgoong Su wins, and if he loses, it would be a huge embarrassment.”

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“Wait, you did all that on purpose?”

“I had to, for the sake of leaving a strong impression on them.”

Of course, if it was just external arts, I was confident of winning against Namgoong Su. Master Maeng’s Eighteen Strikes of the Viridian Forest wasn’t the best external arts technique in the world for nothing, you know?

Winning the fight was my Plan B…but unfortunately, Plan A worked and Kwak Cheol-Woo intervened. Still, that pissed off look in Namgoong Su’s eyes was just priceless… He’s probably making excuses about holding back and not wanting to hurt and humiliate his opponent right now…

“Pfft, scaredy-cat. If we had fought, the most I would have done was dislocate your wrist.”

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Well, I had plenty of time to get back at him, and since my goal was to become the Star Instructor of the Azure Dragon Academy, I had no doubt that we’d clash time and time again.

“I’ll make your life a living hell…” I muttered, grinning evilly.

Ak Yeon-Ho looked at me like I was being absurd and asked, “I don’t get where your confidence comes from… Have you ever thought that you might actually fail the interview?”

I might fail the interview? Me? I pondered it for a moment, then replied, “I will build a new martial arts school next to the Azure Dragon Academy, and call it the White Dragon Academy.1 Within ten years, my students will wipe the floor with the Azure Dragon kids.”

Thanks to Old Man Heo’s inheritance, that was an option I could consider, and a fairly inviting one at that. The only problems were the number of students I could attract, and if I could earn enough within a short time to pay for the life-saving spiritual medicine I needed.

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One thing was for sure though, compared to working for the Azure Dragon Academy, starting out on my own would definitely be financially rough in the first few years.

“Well, if they fail me, then the interviewers must all have a bad eye for people, and I have no intention of working for blind fools.”

“At least you have a backup plan…”

“By the way, I’m willing to hire you as a founding instructor of my White Dragon Academy without an interview…”

“Hyung-nim, I’ll support you from afar instead.”

Suddenly, as we chatted nonsense and walked out of the Azure Dragon Academy, one of the other applicants approached us and said, “Hello, I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation, but…”

I turned around to see an affable-looking young man with cropped hair. He was shorter than average, but his body was as well-built as a sturdy rock. Not considering Ak Yeon-Ho, Kwak Cheol-Woo seemed to like him the most out of the Group Sixteen interviewees.

This guy, I think he said his name was Myeong Il-Oh? He’s the friendly type who can get along with anyone, and his skills are no joke either. Perhaps I should consider hiring him at my White Dragon Academy?

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“I’m Myeong Il-Oh from the Shandong Myeong Family Manor. Do you remember me, Young Master Ak? We’ve met before.”

Ak Yeon-Ho’s face flushed with panic as he stuttered, “Ah, uh… I’m sorry, but I don’t remember… When did we meet?”

“We last met at Miss Yeon-Hwa’s twentieth birthday party.”

“Oh… At that time?”

“Ha ha, don’t worry, you probably don’t remember me as there were a lot of people there, and I only saw you from afar. Also, that was years ago.”

“Yeah, it was…”

Although both the Ak Clan and the Myeong Family Manor were situated in the Shandong Province, the Myeong Family Manor was just a minor landlord while the Ak Clan ruled the entire province. Hence, it was mandatory for Myeong Il-Oh to learn the names and faces of the Ak Clan members, while the opposite was optional.

“It’s quite a rare coincidence to meet someone from the same hometown here, so do you want to grab a meal together? It’ll be my treat.”

“Er, that…” Ak Yeon-Ho peeped at me out of the corner of his eyes.

Why the fuck are you looking at me?

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“W-What do you think, Hyung-nim?” he muttered.

…Oh, is he hesitating because of me?

“I don’t care. You decide,” I replied.

“Please join us too, Master Baek! The more the merrier, hahaha! Also, the way you stood up to those bigoted interviewers was just sooo impressive!” Myeong Il-Oh exclaimed with a genuine smile that would brighten up anyone’s day.

Just like that, he tagged along with us as if he had always been a part of our group.

” By the way…” Myeong Il-Oh looked around cautiously, then whispered, “Do you guys know the contents of the practical test?”


Translator’s Note: I changed a couple names and terms after re-reading the raws for this series and catching up to the latest chapters (600+, midway through the Heavenly Martial Festival Arc, don’t expect the manhwa to get there for a few years). Shouldn’t alter the reading experience too much.


Footnotes:

  1. White Dragon Academy (白龍學館, Baek Ryong Hak Kwan): Baek Su-Ryong is written with the hanja characters 白秀龍, meaning “White Beautiful/Excellent Dragon”. He removed the middle character to form the name: White Dragon. 

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