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Cha Jin-hyuk’s face is in astonishment.
It’s a very Yoo Ji-soo style frankness.
“I can’t see how realistically, a 2nd turn examinee would have enough karma to lift his main skill to entry level 5…”
Well-mannered Lee Ji-yong too is of the notion that it’s too hard to believe.
But Kang Chun-seong merely scoffs and doesn’t look like he is going to explain, whether he’s misconstrued or not. Eventually, I stepped in and explained.
“You were that incredible of a martial artist?”
Cha Jin-hyuk’s eyes become provocative.
“I kind of want to see your skills. How about it, martial artist man? A light warming up before the exam, yeah?”
“As much as you wish.”
Kang Chun-seong gladly accepts. Even in front of 19th turn veterans, he doesn’t seem frightened at all.
“Will he be okay?”
Hye-su worries and asks me. I nod my head.
“There’s no problem as long as he doesn’t die. Since you completely recuperate when you go through the exam door. We’re wearing these battle suits and these kinds of clothes for the first time, so warming up might be a good idea.”
The two people get up from their seats and move to the empty space in the hall.
Across from Kang Chun-seong assuming his position, Cha Jin-hyuk puts both fists up in a boxing pose. Is that guy not going to use a weapon either?
“There is one thing I’m curious about.”
“What is it?”
“With Chinese martial arts, you gather that chi by dancing around right? Does that help in an actual fight?”
Cha Jin-hyuk’s provocation. Kang Chun-seong’s eyes twitch.
“I will show you.”
Kang Chun-seong shifts just his feet and slowly narrows the distance. It’s a method of slowly moving forward by using his heels and toes as an axis.
As he gets within punching distance, Cha Jin-hyuk lightly extends a jab. Then,
Counter timing the jab, Kang Chun-seong dives in.
In an instant, Kang Chun-seong shortens the distance and sends flying a flurry of punches.
A storm of punches lands above Cha Jin-hyuk’s guard.
It’s an incredible speed. Firmly blocking the serenade of punches, Cha Jin-hyuk reacts with a knee kick. At that moment.
Kang Chun-seong, with both feet stuck to the ground, moves his body 360 degrees and strikes the knee. Is that a Baguazhang move? Regardless, it’s amazing.
At the moment he does the knee kick and supplanted leg takes a hit, Cha Jin-hyuk loses his balance and falters. Kang Chun-seong strikes his leg once more and he falls down.
“Ah, damn! It’s strong, Chinese martial arts!”
Mumbles Cha Jin-hyuk as he abruptly gets up.
“Want to continue?”
“What are you jabbering about? This is just the start?”
Cha Jin-hyuk moves in.
But without being able to do a single proper attack, he gets cornered into defending again.
He attempted to attack with light jabs but Kang Chun-seong countered the jabs again with impeccable timing and struck.
Hit by a punch, Cha Jin-hyuk’s chin shifts to the side.
After that, Kang Chun-seong makes big swirls with his arms, like a windmill. The left arm pushes the chest, the right arm grabs the leg, and just like that, knocks Cha Jin-hyuk backwards.
Cha Jin-hyuk has fallen on his back again.
Kang Chun-seong does not attack any further and steps back as he speaks.
“Stop here. It is pointless.”
Cha Jin-hyuk bursts.
“Hahaha! Totally got your ass whooped!”
Cha Jin-hyuk gets angry at Yoo Ji-soo’s laughter.
Kang Chun-seong speaks.
“That is all.”
“What, you saying even if we fight more you’ll still win?”
At Cha Jin-hyuk’s question, Kang Chun-seong replies in his usual steady voice.
“Regardless of how many times, I will win. As long as you don’t pull out a sword.”
Cha Jin-hyuk for sure, and Yoo Ji-soo and Lee Ji-yong’s faces are all in shock.
‘So that’s it. I thought so, they were too weak to be 19th turn veterans.’
Even though Kang Chun-seong is strong, a 19th turn veteran would have more skills with that much more karma. With that in account, Cha Jin-hyuk now was too weak.
It’s because he wasn’t using his weapon.
“Wow, he’s a fortune teller.”
Yoo Ji-soo is in awe.
Cha Jin-hyuk scratches his head.
“Do not think yourself to be on top of my head, rookie.”
“Haha, rookie is a bit harsh. Can’t help it. I haven’t done martial arts my whole life like you.”
“He was a car mechanic~”
Cha Jin-hyuk gets upset at Yoo Ji-soo’s slight tattling.
“How did you know I use a sword?”
“Distance. You maintained a stance further than the distance for a jab. Also…”
Kang chun-seong continues to speak.
“Energy, whose concept of mental significance was discussed by Mencius (Chinese philosopher), in regards to martial arts, is one perspective of looking at the mind and body altogether, not some supernatural energy.”
“Saying swerving and dancing sounds like something you gathered from perhaps watching tai chi, but that is the same. It is a practice of learning the body’s circulation and movement together through breathing. If you are lazy in that, like you, your legs and arms will move separate from each other, your attack and defense will act separately, and your aura will act alone.”
“Ah, this lesson is a gem. Did you hear? You should write it down and learn.”
Yoo Ji-soo is chattering.
“Shut up, you bitch. Hey, what did you say? It’s the practice of learning the body’s circulation and movement together through breathing?”
Cha Jin-hyuk asks to Kang Chun-seong.
“That is so.”
“Then is hypogastric breathing type stuff in the same context?”
“It can be seen as such.”
“So you’re saying you raised your aura control level with that?”
“I have done this all my life. It can be said that I reviewed and applied that concept of Chi to aura.”
“What did you say chi was? Explain it again.”
Cha Jin-hyuk must have grown some interest, because he asks Kang Chun-seong this and that, and every time, Kang Chun-seong gives a short but clear answer. The situation has changed from a duel to a lecture.
A whole while later, Cha Jin-hyuk’s face shows a look of satisfaction.
“Hm, nice. I will consult this.”
“As you want.”
“I learned a lot of good stuff, so I’ll pay it forward. Retrieve, item bag.”
As he does so, in Cha Jin-hyuk’s hand, appears a small cross-body bag.
From the cross-body bag, Cha Jin-hyuk takes out a bottle holding a red liquid.
“Here, take this.”
Kang Chun-seong receives the bottle of red liquid.
“It’s a healing potion. It immediately heals wounds. It’s precious so use it only in an emergency. It has no effect on illness or physical decline, so use it only for wounds.”
Kang Chun-seong takes a close look at the healing potion, and hands it to Hye-su.
Hye-su too summons her item bag and puts the healing potion in it, but Hye-su’s item bag is already full the bullets for my Mosin-Nagant and first aid items, that it doesn’t go in very well.
“Ugh, give it here.”
Yoo Ji-soo can’t stand the sight and helps out. She shoves the healing potion into the item bag until it looks like it will burst. I’m worried it might rip the bag but surprisingly, it fits.
“The item bag is really sturdy. You can just shove things in and it won’t burst, so don’t worry.”
“Oh, thank you.”
As our team’s sunbae*, Yoo Ji-soo gives us a lot of tips.
(TN: a word that refers to people with more experience)
We spent time like this, and when there was 3 hours left until the exam, Cha Ji-hye appeared.
“Are you all ready?”
“Then you may all go into your individual rooms. There cannot be an instance where you take off any items of clothing before the exam begins. There was an instance when someone took off their shoes and entered the exam that way.”
We go into our rooms. Yoo Ji-soo’s team bids us as they go into their rooms.
“Let’s see each other tomorrow. Even though it’s not a tomorrow for us.”
“Let’s live and see each other again.”
I am in my room and lay still in my bed.
This is now the third exam. This time, with the help of the research center, we have really systematically prepared.
But as the time draws closer, I can’t help but be anxious. The words ‘2nd, 3rd turn jinx’ keep going around in my head and make me feel uneasy.
‘No one can die this turn.’
I do not regret Park Go-chan’s death. He had to die.
But this time is only good comrades. Joon-ho, Hye-su, Kang Chun-seong, I really hope no one dies.
And the time is close.
I summon my board to check the time and see a second left, and lose consciousness.
As soon as I come to, I check my teammates. Joon-ho, Hye-su, Kang Chun-seong, everyone is here together.
We just get our bearings and the tedious baby angel bastard, dangling his bbundegi, flaps his way towards us.
“Welcome. Glad to see me?”
“Wow, seeing your attire, it looks like you are all look fully prepared for battle.”
“We did learn of a world we didn’t know existed.”
Nations individually recruit examinees and have institutions that aid them, and who knew that they even rank the examinees based on the karma they accrue?
Not to mention, they are gathering to use the majeong that examinees bring back from Arena, to use as energy.
‘Something is strange…’
“Ack, you surprised me!”
The angel bastard shoves his face close to mine, taking me by surprise, and I take a few steps back.
“Fucker! You startled me!”
“It looked like examinee Kim Hyun-ho was once again suspicious of something.”
“Of course it’s strange!”
“The Earth and Arena are separate worlds. It’s a world that should be impossible to touch physically, am I right?”
“But the entirety of our world knows well about Arena and is participating in it. And they are taking and gathering the majeong we bring from Arena to use as a high-efficiency energy, is this all possible?”
“What’s to say it isn’t.”
This bastard fellow is picking his ear with his pinky finger and responds disrespectfully.
“Won’t it go against the laws of worldly order or anything like that?”
The baby angel dismisses with a wave of his hands.
But the more I think about it, the stranger it is.
Examinees are selected amongst the dead.
Even though you spend a week in the Arena, only the time spent sleeping passes on Earth.
That could be a consideration in order not to engulf the Earth in chaos.
But actually, examinees are restricted to secrecy. The whole world knows about Arena and examinees and have even made secret organizations and are researching it. Even though it isn’t revealed to the general public.
‘Did they intentionally induce us? Is that another purpose amongst others of the exam?’
My thoughts are to there when I’m interrupted.
“Okay, up to there.”
The baby angel taps my head.
“Examinee Kim Hyun-ho does indeed have some deep thoughts.”
“Are my speculations correct?”
“Huh? I never said that they are correct. Just that you have deep thoughts. It’s not a compliment.”
What is that, that obscure answer.
The baby angel snaps his fingers. The exam door appears.
“Now now, hurry up and start. Or do you want to spend more time with me?”
Without a second word we all headed into the door one by one.
I enter the exam door last.
When I am surrounded by a bright light, I suddenly hear behind me the dim voice of the angel.
“I never said you were wrong either. Hehe.”
What, that bastard! Can’t he just say you’re right or wrong for sure!
Finally, I lose consciousness to the strong light. And the third exam begins thus.
I’m so tired of this forest.
Where we arrive is the ravine where we last stayed in the 2nd exam.
The remains of a campfire, around it the strewn bones of fish and rabbit, the traces of our presence are just as they were.
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