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


Namgoong Su was having trouble blocking Myeong Il-Oh’s flurry of attacks.

What’s going on? All of a sudden he…!

It was shocking and confusing. In the blink of an eye, the new instructor candidate who couldn’t even touch the hem of his sleeves transformed into a master martial artist capable of pushing him to his limits.

CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK!

Wooden sword and wooden stick clashed. The instant Namgoong Su lost a bit of his balance, Myeong Il-Oh unleashed a fierce wave of blows.

Damn it…!

He hadn’t broken a sweat in over a hundred exchanges, but barely a dozen exchanges after Myeong Il-Oh’s change in tactics, his back was drenched.

I can’t let things continue like this!

Namgoong Su rooted his feet to the ground and brandished his sword, even though he knew that as long as he took a few steps back, he would be able to catch his breath and counterattack.

His pride just wouldn’t let him show even the tiniest hint of weakness or break the handicap he had put on himself: The imaginary circle. He hadn’t declared the handicap out loud, but before the duels had started, he’d already decided that the moment he left this circle, he would consider himself defeated.

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“HAAA!” For the first time, he shouted out loud to reinforce his conviction.

SWISH!

He drew a large, smooth circle with his wooden sword and perfectly deflected all of Myeong Il-Oh’s attacks, which had been pouring down like rain.

Myeong Il-Oh hurriedly stepped backward.

“WOAAAH! As expected of Mr. Namgoong!”

“Yeah, you can’t let it end like this!”

The instructors and students exclaimed in admiration at Namgoong Su’s skill.

However, Namgoong Su was not the least bit satisfied with the result. He predicted what I would do and retreated out of my range…

Originally, he had planned to counterattack immediately after blocking Myeong Il-Oh’s flurry, but Myeong Il-Oh’s retreat widened the distance between them, forcing him to abandon this strategy.

“Huff… Huff…” Myeong Il-Oh coolly steadied his breath for the next round of exchanges.

Seeing this, Namgoong Su finally realized that he was trapped by the imaginary circle of his own making.

“One more time!” Myeong Il-Oh shouted before lunging forward once again.

“……” Unfortunately, Namgoong Su hadn’t yet caught his breath and couldn’t reply.

TAKTAKTAKTAKTAK!

Myeong Il-Oh’s offensive was daring and relentless. Taking advantage of Namgoong Su’s inability to move out of the imaginary circle, he darted in and out of his opponent’s reach.

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SWOOSH! WHOOSH!

At first, Myeong Il-Oh’s distancing wasn’t very precise, but as time went on, his attacks became more and more measured, as if he had Namgoong Su completely outmaneuvered.

Contrary to Myeong Il-Oh’s growing confidence, Namgoong Su felt as if he was being toyed around with. To make things worse, Myeong Il-Oh’s weapon of choice was a staff, which had a much longer reach than Namgoong Su’s sword.

Is this guy really the same person as before? Even if he had a hidden trump card, this is too much! It’s as if someone else is controlling his body… Wait, that’s it. Someone is helping him!

The more Namgoong Su thought about it, the more convinced he became. Unlike before when he hesitated at every step, Myeong Il-Oh was now too confident, like he had stopped thinking and was just focusing on his footwork and attacks.

Even though his base strength and skill hasn’t changed, he no longer has any wasted movements. That alone is enough to make a huge difference! But who the hell…

WHOOSH!

Without even looking, Myeong Il-Oh deftly turned his head to avoid Namgoong Su’s sword. At that moment, Namgoong Su saw a young man about his age in the audience stand.

Baek Su-Ryong?

HEH.

The moment their eyes met, Baek Su-Ryong grinned… and Namgoong Su realized what was going on.

CRACKLE CRACKLE!

SO IT’S YOU!!! Namgoong Su’s body shook with rage and his eyes burned with unbridled fury, but unfortunately for him, that moment of inattention was a costly one.

“Where are you looking in the middle of a duel?”

”!!”

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Neither Baek Su-Ryong nor Myeong Il-Oh missed the opportunity.

WHIZ!

In an instant, Myeong Il-Oh stepped into the imaginary circle, blocked Namgoong Su’s wooden sword with his staff and kicked his calf, sending him tumbling backward. Facing the panicked Star Instructor, Myeong Il-Oh smirked. “This is the end!”

He swung the wooden stick with all his strength and inner qi, even as Namgoong Su frantically raised his sword to defend.

SMAAAASH!

Namgoong Su fell on his back… or so everyone thought.

Myeong Il-Oh’s only mistake that day was being too confident in his victory.

“What do you mean, ‘the end’?”

Namgoong Su was bent over backwards by the force of Myeong Il-Oh’s final strike, but his back was still several inches off the ground. It was a position that required incredible balance as well as ridiculous lower body and abdominal strength.1

“I’m the one who decides…” Namgoong Su muttered as he stumbled back two or three steps, then rolled over and scrambled back to his feet.

“S-Shit!”

Myeong Il-Oh hurriedly retreated, but Namgoong Su had already filled his sword with inner qi.

“…When this duel ends!”

BZZZZT!

A dazzling white sword qi gathered around Namgoong Su’s sword.

sep

Not long after we made the wager, a stunned Jaegal So-Yeong turned toward me. “…What on earth did you do?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” I answered innocently.

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Jaegal So-Yeong pointed at the two people fighting on stage. “How on earth is Candidate Myeong Il-Oh pressuring Namgoong-hyung like that?”

“He must have been hiding his skills.” I shrugged and replied nonchalantly even as I gave Myeong Il-Oh his next instruction telepathically.

[Take one step left and block the slash coming from the right.]

[Step backward, upper left block. Now, aim for the opponent’s thigh.]

[Three steps to the right, then one forward. Thrust!]

[Go all out! He can’t reach you from there anyway.]

Although he was sometimes slow to react, Myeong Il-Oh dutifully followed my instructions. Namgoong Su, on the other hand, was fighting at a huge disadvantage.

I think I’ve figured out the limits of his imaginary circle. Dumbass, as long as he stays within that circle, he won’t be able to unleash even half of his strength.

The reason I was able to fight the academy brats with such a handicap was not only because I had done the same training countless times in the past, but also because I knew that such a stunt was only possible because everyone was restricted to using only external arts.

It was a whole different story when inner arts were involved.

Too bad, you went and dug your own grave, haha.

I could see the panicked Namgoong Su getting increasingly desperate and agitated.

WHIZ!

The moment Myeong Il-Oh tilted his head to avoid Namgoong Su’s sword, our gazes met, and I smirked with the intention of dealing him some mental damage.

”!!”

As expected, his face contorted into a grimace.

I immediately sent a message to Myeong Il-Oh. It was time to quit playing around and finish this. A few more exchanges, and I would lose the fifty-round bet with Jaegal So-Yeong.

[Let’s end it with this attack.]

SWOOSH!

In one smooth movement, Myeong Il-Oh charged in, knocked Namgoong Su off his feet, and unleashed his most powerful downward slam containing all of his remaining qi.

SMAAAASH!

I grinned and concluded, “It’s over.”

However, just as monkeys sometimes fell from trees, in life, unexpected things often happened.

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BOOM!

Namgoong Su somehow blocked the staff while bent over backward and bounced back to his feet. Meanwhile, Myeong Il-Oh stepped backward in surprise.

Fuck, you should have kept charging at him with the intention of killing him, not back off!

So far, Myeong Il-Oh had done much better than I expected with my limited instructions. I would be satisfied even if he lost now, but… what Namgoong Su did next was completely unexpected even for me.

ROOOOOOAR!

A pure white sword qi coated Namgoong Su’s blade even as one of the instructors or students yelled, “The Lightning Sword!”

The Lightning Sword was one of the famed techniques of the Namgoong Clan, the strongest among the Five Great Clans.

I immediately jumped on the stage, shouting, “Stop, you crazy bastard!”

However, I was one step too late. Namgoong Su’s sword qi exploded, dyeing the stage in a blinding white flash.

“AHHHHHHH!” Myeong Il-Oh screamed as he was sent flying.

I leapt into the air and gently caught him, then landed as lightly as I could.

“H-Hyung-nim… Keuk!” he coughed, spitting out blood.

“Don’t talk.”

Myeong Il-Oh’s injuries were severe. Splinters from his shattered wooden staff were embedded in various parts of his body, and his blood was flowing like a river.

TAP! TAP! TAP!

I quickly sealed his acupoints to stop further blood loss, but this was not an injury that could be cured with a day or two of rest.

“I-Is he okay?” Jaegal So-Yeong asked, rushing to my side.

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I handed the now unconscious Myeong Il-Oh to her, saying, “His life isn’t in danger. Can you help me look after him until the physician gets here? I need to have a word with the guy who did this.”

Leaving Myeong Il-Oh in Jaegal So-Yeong’s care, I stood up and glared at Namgoong Su. He was looking at me, too.

“Were you trying to kill him?”

“…I’m sorry. In the heat of the moment, I unintentionally used Sword Qi,” Namgoong Su gave me an apologetic look, but I knew it was an act.

“You’re sorry?” I laughed as I swaggered onto the stage. Without realizing it, I was slipping back into my old Blood Cult habits. “Do you think a simple ‘sorry’ is enough? What if Il-Oh actually died? Are you still going to say sorry in front of his grave and call it a day? It must be nice, being from a good family.”

“…What more do you want from me?”

I stopped a few steps away from Namgoong Su. He met my gaze and didn’t back down. With the unexpected casualty, the tension between us had reached a maximum.

The eyes of the entire audience were on us.

You wanna go at it now?

I sized up Namgoong Su. Certainly, he was stronger than I had predicted, and perhaps he had even more tricks up his sleeve. However, the difference between us wasn’t so great that I couldn’t overcome it…

“ENOUGH!” A gravelly voice rang out, sending vibrations throughout the entire arena.

It was Noh Gun-Sang.

“Candidate Baek Su-Ryong and Mr. Namgoong Su, please return to your seats. I will not tolerate any more disturbances.”

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“……”

“……”

Neither of us moved, to the annoyance of the Thousand-Armed Bodhisattva.

“Have the two of you gone deaf?” Noh Gun-Sang scolded, then released his aura.

ROOOOOOAR!

“Kkh…”

“Ugh…”

Both I and Namgoong Su groaned from the overwhelming pressure, and even those in the audience were not spared from Noh Gun-Sang’s wrath as many faces turned pale.

“This is my last warning. Both of you, please return to your seats,” Noh Gun-Sang said sternly.

Namgoong Su spun around, muttering under his breath, “…You got lucky today.”

I gave one final glance at the departing Namgoong Su, then slowly turned around.

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Somehow, I had a feeling that this was the start of a very, very long rivalry.


Footnotes:

  1. In other words, the limbo dance position. 

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