Millennium Snow Ginseng (千年雪参)
Now the fat gatekeeper hurried in, as if he was embarrassed, and the fellow standing next to him stood awkwardly. They didn't seem to know what to do about this unexpected turn of events. The good thing was that he didn't throw himself into a fit of anger.
A little later, the fat gatekeeper came out and stated.
“You come with me for a moment.”
“Are we going to the head teacher?”
“No, I'll have to fix those dirty clothes before I allow you to meet the head teacher."
At first, I thought he'd take me to a dark secluded place and beat me up. But a little while later he and I walked out to an inn downtown, and I was soon bathed in warm water. Confused, the fat gatekeeper took out clothes from somewhere and threw it at me.
“Wash yourself clean. If not, I am under fire as soon as possible."
The clothes suited me moderately. It was thin and flirty, but clean enough to wear. When I followed the fat gatekeeper to the Blue Dragon Martial Academy, I found disciples everywhere.
Curiosity could not be hidden from the many disciples. Some people not only looked at me askance, but also giggled towards me. The fat gatekeeper glanced at me.
“From now on, you will have a meeting with a teacher. Be careful what you say and do, because if you do something disrespectful, your hand will be cut off."
“What? Don't I meet the master, Lee Kwang?”
“The master is busy, and a head teacher will judge whether or not you will be accepted as a disciple."
It was likely to happen, so now I understood. In fact, as a master of a Martial Academy, it would be very hard to judge each new member. Perhaps it is a structure that a teacher decides whether a student has talent and quality, then the master will judge later on whether or not to admit the student as an official disciple.
“Sir, I am here.”
“Come on in.”
He opened the door of the wooden building, which had a peaceful aroma. Inside, a young man sat in a comfortable position and he was drinking tea. He was not a thoroughly green-colored young man, but a man in his mid-twenties. I was a little surprised to learn that the head teacher was so young.
He watched me and laughed.
“Did you put Bang Il down in an arm wrestling test? That's quite a surprise."
“Come and sit down. Let’s just make ourselves at home for now.”
A rattling sound.
As the fat gatekeeper closed the door behind him walking out, I approached without hesitation and sat down before the teacher. The teacher's eyes flashed back a little. Perhaps it was considered unusual to behave without any hesitation.
Soon after the teacher said.
“I am Jin So Chung, a head teacher of the Blue Dragon Martial Academy, and what's your name, kid?”
Like a lie, I stiffened at that moment I heard his name. I was taken aback by the unexpected name.
'Uh? What? Jin So Chung? Why do I recognise that name from somewhere?'
I stuttered back and replied.
“Well, my name is Baek Woong and I live in a village near Plum Blossom courier company. Do you perhaps have a specialty in the spear?”
He nodded in surprise at my question.
“Yes, my master learned three kinds of weapons and has been called the 'Outstanding Trinity Master' but I did not have such talents, so I could only learn the arts of the spear.”
I knew that the Jin So Chung was excessively modest.
Since he was already at peak-grade, he would not be ashamed, even if he took a very active part in Murim. The reason I was embarrassed was of another matter.
Jin So Chung…
This is because he was an absolute master with spearmanship thirty years later, being one of the top ten masters within the of whole Murim. He was often referred to as the number-one spearman in the central continent, and he was a fine righteousness knight of justice who slaughtered over one hundred evil guys. He was a master of the highest rank even among the top ten masters.
Such a great person was sitting before me now.
He said with curiosity.
"But, Baek Woong, why do you think my preferred weapon is a spear? As you can see, there are various weapons as well as spears within this training room."
What do I say?
I thought for a while and made up my mind in time.
“It is because of the strong firmness of your hands.”
He glanced at his hands, listening to my words. Then he laughed his head off.
“Hahaha… You are a genius. Bang Il caught a big fish today."
I guess I hit the nail on the head. In fact, I can tell the extent of one's training by looking at the strong flesh in one's hand, but I have no idea whether it is due to swordsmanship or spearmanship.
It was just from the common sense I accumulated for a long time, and it worked out well.
I breathed a sigh of relief in my mind, and Jin So Chung said.
"Let's find out what it looks like. How did you come by martial arts when you seem to have a good Heart Mantra? And why would you want to join us?"
That's the question that was expected. I took a deep breath and answered calmly.
"I lost my beloved parents when I was young, and I have been living at the house of the village chief. One day, a third-grade bodyguard of a courier company happened to drop by there and he taught me Six Harmonies Swordsmanship and Three Talents Heart Mantra. I trained at my best for several years. However, I wanted to explore the deeper ways of martial arts, so I came here to be taught at the largest and most famous Blue Dragon Martial Academy.”
This was the answer I’ve been thinking about over and over again during my trip here. There was nothing wrong or to find fault with. Hearing my words, he thought deeply and said.
"Stretch out your arm."
As I stretched out my arm, Jin So Chung fiddled with his fingers on my forearm. For a while he paid close attention and then eventually said.
“It’s a lot of Neigong. How long have you been training?”
“It’s been about four years.”
“Four years!! Well, you've been a valiant worker day and night. It is admirable."
At the moment, I felt a little despondent.
Deep down, I was worried that I would be suspected of being too much of a Heart Mantra for my age. I became tested already with such sentiments I could not help it now. However, it seemed bitter to see that a four-year excuse was easily accepted.
The tireless work I had built up for forty-five years was really nothing. He believed that this was the best way to build up Neigong with four years worth of hard training.
Jin So Chung said again.
“Fortunately, Three Talents Heart Mantra is a basic one, so there is no possibility of you falling into a state of deadly coma, even if you practise the other Heart Mantra. From today you will be a disciple of 'first line.'
“What is first line?”
“Under a master, I am a head teacher who takes charge of all the disciples, and there are two other teachers under me. The oldest disciples are 'third line,' followed by 'second line.' Do you understand?"
His explanation for the request was briefly summarizing a ranking system of the Blue Dragon Martial Academy.
There are two teachers with excellent skills under a head teacher and a master. The higher line, third line, is for the oldest disciples, and their abilities are better than the lower lines. Since the Blue Dragon Martial Academy is almost as big as the Five Powerful Families or the Nine Great Factions, I could not help but recognize its influence and prosperity..
“Finally, let’s find out your level of accomplishment within the Six Harmonies Swordsmanship, then conclude this interview.”
“Come, stand here facing each other with that wooden sword over there.”
After a while, I took out a large wooden sword which had been kept hanging on the wall of the training room, and stood in my stance.
Jin So Chung smiled interestingly at my attitude.
“Haha … Where did you learn your posture?”
“That bodyguard taught me.”
“That's interesting. It’s a posture of Blademanship (刀法)."
I never knew that.
Some bodyguards are taught by the company owner, and others are taught by the different head bodyguards or other invited martial artists. Therefore, various sword methods might be taught to each bodyguard.
In my case, I learned Blademanship from the company owner, since he thought that Blademanship is rather more realistic than Swordsmanship.
“Now, do your best to attack me.”
I ran into him with my best attack, using my own tactics. The first form was Taishan Pressing (泰山壓丁), and I pressed my sword down with the power of a huge mountain. I felt the muscles in my forearm quiver. I kicked hard with my feet and attacked him by unfolding all other forms that I knew of in order.
However, he avoided all my attacks with ease, and suddenly grabbed my wooden sword with his two fingers. The power of his sword was so strong that even if I hit a wide tree three times, it would collapse, but he still easily seized it anyway!
While he muttered, as he released my sword.
“It's weird. It feels like you are highly skilled in actual combat. Have you ever injured people?"
My chest pricked up.
'How could he find out everything, just by merely discerning all the forms I unleashed, even though he was a high-grade martial artist?'
I quickly calmed down and said.
"Yes, I did it to protect myself from bandits and thieves."
I was not lying.
It is true that when living as a bodyguard, I fought with myriads of bandits numerous times.
He thought about something for a while and said.
After a while, he made a sound like a thunderbolt.
“I will cancel my offer that I just accept you as a first-line disciple, but I will direct you for a month from now on.”
“But… if you do not fix it properly, I will kick you out.”
What do you mean?
However, he said nothing more.
“Bang Il, are you there?”
The fat gatekeeper opened the door with a gurgle, and came in. His uniform bore two watercolor lines horizontally, which indicates that he is a second-line disciple.
“I will direct this child myself for a month. Be responsible and make sure an atmosphere of avoidance for the other disciples so that they will not quarrel."
Bang Il looked astonished. Something was unfair in his eyes. However, he answered politely.
“You'll be tired from today's events, so take a rest in your room and come see me at the martial arts training center tomorrow.”
I went to my room according to the guidance of Bang Il. It looked so neat and comfortable that it couldn't even be compared with the stables I used to eat and sleep in. As I looked around the neat room and continued to wonder, he said.
“A direct lesson from the head teacher! What have you done to him?"
When I looked back, I perceived the jealousy that could not be hidden. I was able to notice it with my past forty-five years of experience.
But I was equally puzzled. I was planning to train myself calmly, but suddenly there was a rapid development. Moreover, it was not desirable because it is hard to live along with others' jealousy within Blue Dragon Martial Academy.
“I do not know.”
“Huh… never mind!”
He spat on the ground, and said like a warning.
“Listen carefully. There is an established order here. You'll never let me go like a back door! You owe me."
I was dumbfounded.
There is one of these meagre existences everywhere.
Originally, I would grovel to such a fellow, but it is different now.
If I were to die and come back to life, I wouldn't want to live a life filled with cold feet.
So I laughed my head off.
“Haha. If you’re a senior disciple, I’ll honor you!”
“You must be tired of sleeping here."
He spat on the ground again and left.
I lay down in bed smiling. I felt good because it was a proper bed and blanket. I even thought that if I could live in this place a thousand years, nothing could even be better.
'By the way, I've never seen the Outstanding Trinity Master; Lee Kwang. There must be a lot of busy things happening, as this event seems like a small cog of a big wheel.'
After a while, a first-line disciple visited to inform me that it was dinnertime. I followed him to a big restaurant, in which I felt many people were staring at me from all over the place, whether the visit was already made public.
'Oh, things are becoming a little bit worse for me.'
The meal was delicious, but I a little apprehensive.
I already knew how cruel human beings are if they try to harass people.
But I made up my mind.
'My life as a student of Blue Dragon Martial Academy begins now. Let's bare my teeth and endure before I learn to play a leading role in the war!'
Editors: T0ngan, Calvis