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I think I frugally used the 15 days of the rest period. I split it here and split it there and used it preciously. Even so, time went by so fast.
-Name: Kim Hyun-ho
-Mission: Rest until the next exam.
-Time limit: 10 hours 21 minutes
As it became the day of the exam, the Korean Arena Research Center came to pick me up. I tell my family I am going on a trip with friends and leave the house.
I take the car to the army base heliport and take a helicopter and arrive at the research center.
The research center heliport is a commotion.
It’s because there is more than one helicopter arriving.
Out of a helicopter that lands almost at the same time as me, three people get out.
It is two guys and one lady, looking to be about late 20’s to middle 30’s.
“Ugh, so annoying. I hope this exam finishes within a week.”
Complains the girl with dyed blonde hair who looks to be about my age.
“The last exam took 2 months right? It was like aging 60 days in one night…”
As the small and gentle looking guy sighs, the blonde girl covers her face with her hair and cries out.
“No, I don’t want to! I don’t want to get old! I don’t want to be in my 30’s!”
Hm, definitely. She’s the same age as me.
The guy with a bulky frame sees all this and laughs.
Aside from my teammates, this is the first time seeing other examinees. I never met one in the research center.
The three discover me.
The blonde girl shows her curiosity.
“Isn’t he a rookie?”
Says the guy with the good build.
“Can’t know that. He could be a veteran examinee scouted over from China.”
The blonde girl, without hesitation, comes towards me.
“Hi? Who are you?”
With a white shirt and short hot pants, her bare legs so openly exposed, she’s an impressionable woman. With plenty of playfulness with speech lacking etiquette, she reminds me of a high school delinquent.
Speaking informally from the get-go, if I come out too respectful, won’t it feel like I’m losing from the start?
“Ni men da jia hao.”
I greet her using all the Chinese I know.
The startled blonde girl turns around to the guys and speaks.
“It’s true! They really must have brought him from China.”
“They treat their examinees like shit so it’s easy to scout them. Public security officer surveillance is strict so if he got smuggled out, does that mean he’s really good?”
“Don’t jump to a conclusion so fast. He could be from Taiwan.”
The three people get into a debate about me.
The blonde woman looks at me with eyes full of curiosity and talks.
“Um, nice to meet you. Are, you, um… tester? Magic? Or fighter?”
English ability at an easily understood level.
“Wuh dduh ming deo shao watda pang tsu su.”
I spew out stuff to sound anything like Chinese. The blonde woman is flustered.
“Uh, do it in English, guy. You don’t know English? English! I thought Chinese people were good at English?”
She talks like she knows English.
“Wang shao ming ni dduh ling…”
It was when I was in the midst of flustering the blonde woman, playing Chinese man.
“Mr. Kim Hyun-ho, what are you doing over there?”
From behind me, I hear the short cadence of a business like woman’s voice.
It’s Cha Ji-hye.
I laugh and reply.
“I was pretending to be Chinese.”
The blonde woman goes blank at my words. The two guys too, go blank.
The guy with the good build explodes in laughter. The gentle looking guy laughs too.
“Ugh, what! You suddenly spoke in Chinese and surprised me!”
The blonde woman gets angry at me.
“Should I have spoken in English?”
“Ugh, I’m so mad! What are you? An examinee?”
If I’m honest and tell her 2nd turn, she’ll probably look down on me as a newbie.
I was going to be vague and say it’s a secret when.
“This is 2nd turn examinee, Mr. Kim Hyun-ho. Welcome him.”
Cha Ji-hye! You inconsiderate woman!
As expected, the blonde woman squints her eyes.
“Pft, 2nd turn?”
“Oh ho, this noona is 19th turn.”
I’m taken by surprise.
If she has passed the 19th turn, just how strong is she?
“Oh ho, surprised? You want to learn a lot from this noona now, huh?”
“There will be lots to learn. These people are on their 19th turn, and are veterans that have cleared 14 exams.”
At Cha Ji-hye’s explanation, this time, I squint my eyes.
“So they’ve failed 5 times?”
“So, so what? You think there’s an examinee that’s cleared all exams without failing?”
You cannot succeed in all the exams?
I’m surprised at those words.
Now that I think about it, it’s true. Our teams Hye-su failed the first exam. But she did not die and is still living. You just need to be able to handle the minus karma penalty.
“In the instance of failing, how is the penalty? Is it manageable?”
The blonde woman shrugs her shoulders.
“Just like being given karma for succeeding the exam, if you fail, it gets taken away. It depends and is evaluated on how hard we tried how much will we had.”
“So an exam failure doesn’t always mean death.”
“Yea, the thing to be fearful of is death. You guys are now going into the 3rd turn?”
“I don’t want to say anything useless to make your condition worse, but be careful. We all each lost a comrade in 2nd and 3rd turn. It’s the 2nd, 3rd jinx.”
At her words my heart chills.
For us too, one person died in the 2nd turn. I did kill him, but dead is dead.
Is this a jinx?
“There is no jinx.”
Cha Ji-hye interrupts the conversation.
“From a common sense standpoint, it is reasonable to have casualties in 2nd, 3rd turns with still new examinees. But in the case of Mr. Kim Hyun-ho’s team, in comparison to other teams, his team is qualitatively superior, and will have no problems.”
“Hey, really? If Ji-hye unni says that, you guys must have a pretty good chance.”
“Are you in your 30’s?”
“If I am?”
At my question, Cha Ji-hye’s face becomes cold. Crap, I’ve never seen her angry face before.
“You, you look young for your age. I thought you, Miss Ji-hye, were a lot younger.”
At those words, Cha Ji-hye’s face opens up but this time, the blonde woman gets angry.
“You wanna die?”
“He just told the truth.”
“If you count the time spent in Arena, aren’t you girls pretty much the same age?”
At the two men’s comments, the blonde woman is boiling almost to the point of explosion.
Cha Ji-hye quickly intercedes.
“You should all introduce yourselves to each other. You may have to meet and carry out the exam in the Arena later.”
“Humph, I’m Yoo Ji-soo. And I’m 29.”
The blonde woman is Yoo Ji-soo.
“Cha Jin-hyuk, 33.”
The guy with the good build is Cha Jin-hyuk.
“Lee Ji-yong. I’m 33 too.”
The small and kind looking man is Lee Ji-yong.
Blond woman Yoo Ji-soo adds on.
“Also, I’m the team leader. These kids are like my concubines, hahaha.”
“Don’t say things that can be misconstrued.”
The two guys quickly oppose.
This girl’s manners could not get any worse. To call her elders kids. Cha Jin-hyuk looks like he might hold a temper but seeing as how he permits it, it looks like he gave up a long time ago.
“I am Kim Hyun-ho and I am 29.”
“Huh? You’re the same age as me.”
“If you combine the time spent in Arena, I am younger.”
Yoo Ji-hye quickly gets serious.
On the research center’s 1st floor basement is a place called the examinee waiting room.
There is a wide hall, and in the hallway are bedroom accommodations for examinees all lined up, and on the other side, a cluster of cabinets.
Hye-su and Joon-ho heartily welcome me. The two look drained of their energies.
“Are you guys okay? You don’t look so good.”
“It is because of the overexertion due to highly intense training. It will make a full recovery upon passing through the exam door so do not worry.”
Cha Ji-hye answers for them.
“My arms and legs don’t move very well. I’d rather just hurry up and go to the exam.”
Joon-ho is about to cry. Hye-su must agree cause with a miserable face, she nods her head up and down.
On another note, the Yoo Ji-soo group that came in with me go to each of their cabinets as soon as they arrive. From the cabinets, they grab all kinds of garments and go into the bedrooms.
Silently doing what they need to, it seems familiar to them. Then again, they are 19th turn veterans.
A moment later, they have changed clothes and come out, and their appearance is indeed unusual.
“What? Fallen for me?”
Yoo Ji-soo jokingly asks me.
“No. What kind of look is that?”
“No choice. If you wear Earth clothes in Arena, it’s too obvious. You have to have an outfit that is common in Arena. And inside, wear the battle suit.”
The three people are wearing Renaissance period’s modern European style clothing. Leather boots, gloves, a cloak even with a hood, they look like they came out of a European folk village.
“No need to stare so interestedly. You guys have to dress like this too?”
Only then do I turn my gaze to the cabinets. Amongst the cabinets, there are those with our names on it.
“Should we change in advance too? Since we have to get used to the battle suit and clothes.”
Eventually, our team changes clothes too. In each individually labelled cabinet is a battle suit, Arena clothing and shoes, all prepared in the correct size.
I go into the bedroom to change clothes and the battle suit over my underwear reminds me of Superman’s outfit. The flexibility is surprisingly good and doesn’t make it uncomfortable at all and its temperature control is good so that I probably won’t get cold out in the open.
‘This is some incredible clothing. Didn’t they say it isn’t easily penetrated by knives either?”
As I stare at my tight fitting battle suit, I take a little time to admire my graceful body again.
On top of that I wear a cloth material shirt and pants tightened with a strong and boots. With the hooded cloak on, sure makes me look like I’m cosplaying.
‘This is a little embarrassing.’
After getting all dressed and coming out, all the teammates have changed as well. It looks like Joon-ho and Hye-su are also a little embarrassed about their outfits. Chic Kang Chun-seong doesn’t seem phased.
“Why did they provide us with a cloak? It hangs and swishes and is a bit uncomfortable.”
At Joon-ho’s question, Lee Ji-yong from Yoo Ji-soo’s team kindly offers an explanation.
“When you are out, you can use it as a blanket, and in a fight, it can work as armor. In the Arena world, it’s a necessity for a traveler so it would be good to get used to it quick.”
“Ah… thank you for the friendly explanation.”
“Don’t mention it. Oh, I assumed I was older so I spoke informally, is that okay?”
“Of course. I am Lee Joon-ho and I am still 20 years old.”
“Such struggles at a young age. I am Lee Ji-yong. This is Yoo Ji-soo and he’s Cha Jin-hyuk.”
And thus we introduced ourselves with Yoo Ji-soo’s team.
We still had 9 hours until the exam time so we spent the time conversing with one another.
Then suddenly Cha Jin-hyuk speaks.
“Over there, you said you are Kang Chun-seong?”
“I sense an extraordinary aura, you’re really a 2nd turn?”
“Ah, don’t know yet? When you get to aura control entry level 6, you can sense others’ aura. As the level increases, your detectability develops.”
“Is that so.”
“But if you’re a 2nd turn and learned your aura control, you must barely be at entry level 1, and your aura is a bit weird?”
“I am entry level 5.”
At those words, I’m surprised too.
Not too long ago, Kang Chun-seong was at level 4. In that time, he’s gone up another level?
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