The training ground went quiet after Chun Kungwun’s embarrassing moment. Left Guardian Lee Hameng continued, “I know what your question is. You think just one chance is too harsh? There will be special privileges given to those who move forward into the next stage.”
Everyone became intrigued. Those who stayed in the academy longer came out with more powerful prowess and higher titles.
“The first privilege is medicine. You will be given a medicine ball called the Black Dragon Ball. This is given each time you overcome the challenge.”
This ball was created within the Demonic Cult. It wasn’t as good as the one created in Sorim, but it was still good enough that made the person who consumed it would gain twenty years worth of internal energy. In simple math, passing the six tests would give the person one hundred and twenty years worth of internal energy. Of course, this was also the kind of medicine that would build immunity after continued use, but it was still a good privilege.
‘Six stages, huh…?’
Chun Yeowun also seemed interested. He had no internal energy right now, but if he were to pass all six tests, he would be given the chance to increase his internal energy instantly.
“The second will be the books to the martial arts secrets. If you are martial artists, you all should know the importance of such books.”
This was one of the most important privileges in the academy. There were many books within the academy, and even the books from the six clans’ martial arts were stored within the academy.
This was what Yeowun needed the most. With the Nano Machine’s power, he was able to learn the dagger skill, but he needed to get stronger.
“The library has five floors. The higher the floor, the stronger the books. You will be given access to a higher floor once you go up the stages.”
The fifth floor, which was the last floor, was full of secrets to various martial arts manuals of Wulin itself.
“However, you all won’t even go near the fifth floor, so give up.”
Hameng spoke discouragingly, but the second privilege was still astounding. Not to mention, all of this also meant that whoever the students were, or wherever they came from, they all had equal chances to obtain greater power if they could take it. It meant that stronger the person was, the more powerful they would get.
‘So, this was why…’
Yeowun realized why everyone said it would be different once they were in the academy. In the academy, no one who would be protected by privilege or their family bloodline. Everyone was under the same food chain.
“If you pass the first stage, you are low-ranked warrior. Second, middle-ranked. Third, high-ranked. I hope none of you from military clan backgrounds stay only at the second to third ranks like losers.”
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Hameng spoke to students with a smirk.
“Oh, but even those of you who only want to be mid to high-ranked warriors will still be given medicine balls. Don’t worry.”
As Hameng said, the academy gave privileges to even the low-ranked warriors, which was a good opportunity to warrior prospects who want to become more powerful. These ranked warriors had a huge difference in power, with the high-ranked warriors being the most powerful and fewer in numbers.
“If you pass the fourth stage, you will be given the title of Squad Leader, and you will be given the title of Clan Leader upon your fifth stage test. For the sixth stage, it won’t matter with you all so I’ll just skip it.”
Hameng said that because he had his reasons. The sixth stage test was almost impossible and less than ten people would manage to pass the test. That’s why Hameng didn’t anticipate such an event.
“And although you all start out with the same cadet rank, you will all come to have different ranks per the progress through your stages. You will then need to obey your superior.”
That was the core element of the academy. One who does not strive higher will be left to rot. Chun Yeowun looked on eagerly. If he had survived until now, it was time for him to go up in the food chain.
“Don’t be too happy. Most of you will not even go further than the third stage.”
Hameng cracked a smile as he gave his closing statement.
“I’m done explaining. Begin forming groups for assigned dorms, and I will proceed with the first test on the stage.”
The students became shocked to hear sudden progress. They didn’t think they would be tested on the first day.
“As I said before, if you fail this test, you are expelled. If you can’t pass this test, you don’t even deserve to be a low-ranked warrior.”
More than half of the students became pale. They thought they would at least learn something before the test, but this meant that anyone with no training had no chance. Chun Yeowun was also shocked.
‘What? First test already?’
He had no internal energy and it was likely for him to fail the test. He had to hope that the test was either easy or did not require internal energy. Hameng declared what the test was.
“The first test will assess your basic skills. You will need at least basic internal energy if you are going to be a warrior of our cult.”
Chun Yeowun frowned. This meant that if there was one without any internal energy, he was going to fail.
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“If you fail this test, you will be sent down to the farms or mines for hard labor. Try your best to… no, we do need people to do the dirty work, so don’t try too hard.”
Hameng was joking around, but Chun Yeowun felt uncomfortable after hearing it.
‘Ugh… this is problematic.’
He was furious as he thought that at least the academy did not have traps set up for him. However, the internal energy test on the first day seemed to be too coincidental to think that it wasn’t made for him.
‘Was this why they didn’t want me to train?’
Yeowun now realized why the ladies of six clans did not allow him to train. If he were to be expelled here, he would be cast out and he’d stay within the lowest caste of the cult. This would allow those people to kill him whenever they wanted to.
Chun Mukeum, the prince of Loyal Clan, seemed to be satisfied.
‘I was going to kill him myself, but this will get rid of him. Whoever thought of this is a genius.’
The Loyal Clan did not have a part in not allowing Yeowun to train. Mukeum knew it was one of the six clans who led the plan, but he didn’t realize it was to expel Yeowun from the first stage test. That’s when a beautiful, alluring middle-aged woman came up onto the stage. Hameng pointed at her and said, “She is the Clan Leader of the Lust Clan, and the proctor who will watch over this test. Our fifth elder, Hang Soyu.”
A girl standing in the front row with lavish red silk clothes smiled. She was Chun Wonryou, and she was the sixth rank to the throne from the Lust Clan. The six clans were not involved with any of the tests in the academy except for the first one.
‘What test calls for the fifth elder to come?’
The students were filled with questions and Hameng explained, “This test is a piece of cake. If you fail here, you will never get a chance to even become a low-ranked warrior.”
After she finished, Hang Soyu sat down and readied to play the string instrument that she brought with her. It seemed like people realized what she was going to do and they began plugging their ears while crouching down.
“Well, you kids will not withstand her Musical Energy Wave, but she will control it for you weaklings. With luck, you might even endure it without any internal energy. Haha.”
His last set of words felt like he was talking to Yeowun. The Musical Energy Wave was not something that one could tolerate with just endurance. Chun Yeowun bit his lips.
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The first test was to endure the energy wave attack. This was also the simplest way to easily weed out the unworthy students.
“If they have even the slighted amount of internal energy, they will be able to endure a minute.”
Fitting her clan name, Hang Soyu spoke with a beautiful voice, but none of the students were able to hear it as they were already plugging their ears.
“Those who endure the energy wave for a minute will pass the test! Begin!”
And with the signal, the fifth elder began to play the instrument.
The beautiful sound of the instrument spread through the training ground. However, it wasn’t only beautiful. She didn’t hadn’t even played a measure yet, but tens of boys fell to the ground with bubbles coming out of their mouths.
“I-I still hear it!”
It was only the beginning. As she plucked the strings, the sound thundered their eardrums and shocked their hearts; some students dropped while grabbed onto their hearts. Enduring such a wave required at least twenty years of internal energy. If it wasn’t for the heirs of the six clans or the children from high-ranking clans, there wasn’t anyone who had such internal energy.
‘This stings in the ear. You will be down on the ground already, hehe..’
Chun Mukeum was filled with joy, but things weren’t going as expected.
‘Huh? What’s going on?”
Hang Soyu’s fingers that plucked strings began moving faster. Based on the look on her face, it was apparent that she didn’t look too happy. It was because she was only looking at Chun Yeowun.
‘Why? Why is he not falling down?’
Chun Yeowun, who should not have any internal energy, was not falling. When the fifth elder began playing the instrument, Nano activated the emergency defense mode.
[Sensing strong high and low frequencies from the instrument. They can damage the user’s eardrums and body. Activating automatic defense system. Muting all incoming soundwaves to the user.]
Nano usually activated programs per the orders of the user, but when an incoming attack threatened the user’s life, it was automatically enabled. It blocked out every soundwave coming into his ears right now.
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He only heard Nano’s voice in his head the moment Hang Soyu plucked her instrument and he couldn’t hear anything else. Yet, countless students were falling down in front of him.