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TL: FoodieMonster007; ED: TheGreatT20 If you see this, you are at the wrong site!
So she was from the Jaegal Clan of the Five Great Clans. No wonder she seems a little spoiled.
I clasped my hands together in greeting and said, “I am Baek Su-Ryong.”
“I know, you’re by far the most famous of this year’s new instructor applicants.”
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That killed the conversation. With no idea how to respond to Jaegal So-Yeong, I looked at the stage. The duel between Namgoong Su and Myeong Il-Oh was just about to start.
“If you two are ready, please begin,” Noh Gun-Sang announced.
Myeong Il-Oh instantly stepped forward and thrust his wooden staff at Namgoong Su’s heart.
Namgoong Su easily parried the attack with his wooden sword, ending the first exchange.
“HAAAH!” Myeong Il-Oh yelled to summon his courage and circled around Namgoong Su, attacking him with a variety of techniques.
However, Namgoong Su blocked everything without batting an eyelid.
“How do you think this duel will go?” Jaegal So-Yeong suddenly asked me, her eyes glittering.
Why are you still here…
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Jaegal So-Yeong opened her thick notebook, propped it up with one arm, and pulled out a brush as if she was ready to write down my answer.
I scratched my chin and said, “Namgoong Su will win, obviously.”
Inwardly, I hoped Myeong Il-Oh would give Namgoong Su a run for his money, but that was probably wishful thinking.
“I know the outcome too. What I wanted to ask was, how many exchanges do you think Candidate Myeong Il-Oh will last?”
“It probably depends on how much Namgoong Su cares.”
Already, Myeong Il-Oh was fighting desperately while Namgoong Su swung his sword casually and expressionlessly.
If Namgoong Su set his mind to it, he could probably win in about fifty moves…but it doesn’t seem like he wants to finish it quickly.
Namgoong Su leisurely parried, countered, and gave guidance like a teacher admonishing their student.
“Your balance is off. Pay a little more attention to your footwork.”
“Loosen your wrist a little, or you might injure yourself.”
“That was too impatient of you. Don’t stare too long at your intended target. I could tell that you were aiming for my head.”
“……” After receiving advice several times, Myeong Il-Oh’s face flushed red with embarrassment.
“As expected of Mr. Namgoong…”
“He’s completely overwhelming that new instructor candidate.”
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“Isn’t his expressionless face just so cool?”
“That candidate must be pretty weak, right?”
“He seems to be trying his best though… Hmm…”
Even as the students admired Namgoong Su’s overwhelming skill, they expressed their disappointment about Myeong Il-Oh, who couldn’t even touch Namgoong Su’s clothes.
This is bad. At this rate, the students won’t give Il-Oh a good score. Namgoong Su, you fucking bastard… I narrowed my eyes and glared daggers at Namgoong Su.
The purpose of this duel was to test the skills of new instructor applicants. Most of the time, the existing instructors were stronger than the new applicants, so it was natural to cut them some slack.
What Namgoong Su was doing was bullying, plain and simple. By treating Myeong Il-Oh as a student and not a fellow instructor, it was as if he was out to humiliate Myeong Il-Oh.
“He’s just using Il-Oh to improve his own reputation.”
“…I can’t deny that,” Jaegal So-Yeong sighed bitterly, then looked at Namgoong Su with a complicated expression. “He used to be a good and kind person…”
“You seem to know him very well?”
“I met him often when I was younger, though we weren’t very close.”
I suppose they met during one of the gatherings of the Five Great Clans. I can’t imagine that there was a time when Namgoong Su was nice and innocent, but…
“YAAAAH!” Myeong Il-Oh, who had been on the back foot all this time, roared with determination and launched an all-out attack. His clothes flapped in the raging qi and cracks were left on the stage as he sped up and created dozens of afterimages from lightning quick strikes at Namgoong Su’s vitals.
Still, Namgoong Su calmly blocked each attack.
Suddenly, Myeong Il-Oh’s eyes lit up, and he unleashed the last trick in his arsenal. But…
“You’re too damn impatient,” I muttered in frustration, but my words didn’t reach him.
The last thrust that Myeong Il-Oh had hidden in his many illusions was aimed at Namgoong Su’s side.
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Unfortunately, Namgoong Su’s eyes only widened slightly as he praised, “Not bad.”
Myeong Il-Oh’s attack was once again blocked, and the recoil sent him tumbling backwards. This time, however, Namgoong Su was forced to take a few steps back as well, but he dug his feet into the ground to prevent himself from retreating too far.
What the hell? I scratched my head at Namgoong Su’s unnatural movement. He should have taken a few more steps backward to completely deflect the force from Myeong Il-Oh’s attack, but he instead chose to force himself to a halt at the cost of an internal injury.
“It’s not like retreating a few more steps would hurt his pride, would it?”
“…I think you missed the point. Namgoong-oppa seems to have his own set of dueling rules,” Jaegal So-Yeong sighed bitterly.
“His own rules?”
“Didn’t you realize it? Namgoong-oppa created an imaginary circle around himself at the beginning of the duel, and he wants to win without stepping outside of it.”
Dumbfounded, I asked, “Why would he do such a thing?”
Jaegal So-Yeong stared at me in disbelief. “Because yesterday, a certain someone did something similar to the students.”
“…You mean me?” I pointed at myself.
Jaegal So-Yeong nodded. “Namgoong-oppa has always thought quite highly of himself, and whenever he sees someone else do something cool, he’d copy it.”
…So Namgoong Su is copying what I did to the students during my outer arts lecture yesterday? Except with new instructor applicants as his opponents?
“What a weirdo.”
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“…I think it’s that kind of competitiveness that makes him a Star Instructor.”
We turned our attention back to the stage where two men stood with contrasting expressions.
With a faint smile, Namgoong Su said, “Your last technique was excellent, but you were too quick to reveal your true intentions behind all the feints. You’ll need to gain more experience to improve your judgment in battle.”
Although Namgoong Su’s words seemed well-intentioned, to me and Myeong Il-Oh, it felt like he was gloating over his superiority. Something like “You can’t touch a hair on my head, no matter what you do.”
CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP!
As if the duel had already ended, the students applauded and the instructors nodded in recognition of Namgoong Su’s skill, even though both martial artists were still standing and neither had declared defeat.
Myeong Il-Oh gritted his teeth and lowered his head to hide his indignation.
He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. I knew how much preparation Myeong Il-Oh had done to become an instructor at the Azure Dragon Academy. He had come to this city months in advance, collected information, and researched the characteristics and personalities of many of the students and staff.
His martial arts skills may be lacking, but his qualities as an instructor were more than adequate. However, Namgoong Su had no idea how serious he was, nor did he want to know.
“Would you like to continue? If you have more to show me, I don’t mind giving you more tips,” Namgoong Su politely asked.
“I…” Myeong Il-Oh hesitated. He hadn’t shown what he was capable of yet…because his opponent hadn’t given him the chance to do so.
“I know you’re disappointed, but I don’t think there’s much point in doing more of the same.”
“I…” Myeong Il-Oh’s eyes clouded over. His shoulders slumped, and he loosened his grip on the staff.
Everyone expected him to concede defeat right then and there.
Suddenly, Namgoong Su tilted his head slightly and glanced at me. A faint sneer tugged at the corners of his mouth.
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The moment I realized the meaning of that laugh, I wanted nothing more than to wipe it off his motherfucking face.
“Hey, just now, you said that you wanted to bet how many exchanges Myeong Il-Oh could last before he lost, right?”
“Eh? Oh, yeah, I did, but it’s all over now…”
“Still wanna bet?”
“What?” Jaegal So-Yeong’s eyes went wide, baffled by my unexpected change of mind.
“Fifty exchanges from now, Myeong Il-Oh will knock Namgoong Su to the ground.”
“I’ll bet on it.”
“Whoever loses will grant the winner a wish.”
“…Okay, I’m in.” Jaegal So-Yeong agreed without thinking.
I immediately sent a telepathic message to Myeong Il-Oh.
[Il-Oh, do you want to win?]
[Hyung-nim? What are you saying all of a sudden…]
[Do you want to beat the crap out of that son of a bitch?]
[Then would you mind following my instructions from now on, no questions asked?]
Myeong Il-Oh hesitated for a moment, then tightened his grip on the wooden staff. His dead eyes burned again with the flame of determination as he replied, […Yes. I want to win. Please help me teach that arrogant bastard a lesson.]
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[Okay, then the real duel begins now.]
The moment those words came out of Myeong Il-Oh’s mouth, all the instructors and students, including Namgoong Su, were shocked speechless.
Myeong Il-Oh, who until a moment ago had been wholly dejected, glared fiercely at Namgoong Su. “I’m not done yet.”
Having already made the offer to continue, Namgoong Su couldn’t back down now even though he was convinced that the outcome had already been decided. I thought that he’d give up at this point… but he’s even dumber than I thought.
Boos rained down from the audience. Could Myeong Il-Oh not see the clear difference in strength between himself and Namgoong Su? What was the point of resuming this farce?
“Bring it on.” Myeong Il-Oh strode toward Namgoong Su, his wooden staff at the ready.
Seeing the stance, which was no different from the first time, Namgoong Su discreetly clicked his tongue. He’s not bad, but… there are plenty of other instructors like him. Whether he passes or not won’t make a difference.
So what if Myeong Il-Oh had reignited his resolve? His strength, speed, inner qi, and techniques were still the same. Namgoong Su had already figured out his opponent…or so he’d thought.
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Hmm? Why am I suddenly feeling chills at the back of my neck?
A wooden staff ripped through the air, aiming for Namgoong Su’s shoulder, and he swung his wooden sword to deflect the thrust and put himself in a position to counterattack just as he had before.
That was probably just me being paranoid. In the end, nothing has changed. I must have been affected by his tenacity…
Suddenly, Myeong Il-Oh’s staff snaked up and around the wooden sword, aiming for Namgoong Su’s wrist.
“Huh…?!” Surprised, Namgoong Su quickly knocked the wooden staff aside and took a step back.
Myeong Il-Oh immediately seized the opportunity to press forward and go on the offensive.
The wooden staff and wooden sword clashed time and time again. The instructors’ eyes widened, and the hecklers fell silent.
How dare he…!
Namgoong Su’s mask of composure slipped as he realized that he had been caught off guard. Two more steps and he would be forced out of the imaginary circle in his mind. He braced his legs to maintain his position.
Unfortunately, he could not have made a worse decision.
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As if he had anticipated Namgoong Su’s obstinacy, Myeong Il-Oh closed in on the Star Instructor.
Namgoong Su’s eyes widened. It was unprecedented for a staff wielder like Myeong Il-Oh to engage in close combat with a swordsman.
Namgoong Su hastily thrust his sword in an attempt to force his opponent to retreat, but because the movement was too abrupt, he couldn’t put his usual strength and speed into it.
For the first time since the beginning of the duel, Namgoong Su missed, while Myeong Il-Oh, who had changed his grip on the wooden staff to shorten its reach, took advantage of the crack in Namgoong Su’s defense.
“Here I go.”
The tides had turned.
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Under Myeong Il-Oh’s relentless barrage, Namgoong Su’s body shook violently, as if he were about to fall over.
Translator’s Note: This is not a triple release. I fk’d up and translated chapter 47 before 45 and 46 rofl…
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