We spread the ghost bullets and quickly narrowed the distance between us and the distant participants.
Although the start was late, there was plenty of time to spare as the Gyeongju route was long.
Soon, the ranks of late exponents who had fallen behind were visible.
Did they despair because the gap with the leaders had widened too much?
The majority gave up running and walked or stopped.
I took a big leap and jumped over their heads.
Later Jisoo raised his head in response to the shadow cast over his head and let out an expression of astonishment.
As I landed on the ground in a parabola, a thought suddenly occurred to me and I stopped in place.
‘Now that I think about it, Gyeongju-ro was formed by joining two characters for galji (之).’
From my own experience, the rules of the preliminaries were quite lax.
What more can I say since there are people who are blatantly disturbing other participants.
‘There’s no need to just go down a certain path, right?’
I raised my head and looked up at the sheer cliff.
Wouldn’t it be better to go straight through to the finish line rather than going in circles?
As soon as I made the decision, I moved my body.
I jumped towards the wall on the left, climbed over the cliff, leaped again, and landed on the opposite wall.
It kicked the cliffs on both sides alternately and continued to soar upward.
The left-behind testers looked shocked when they saw me like that.
The rumbling noise spread.
“It’s easily ten feet wide!”
“That kind of monster is the late index?”
“I don’t think even Master Moon can do something like that…?”
When I finally reached the top of the cliff, I let out the breath I had been holding and looked down.
As I climbed to a high place, I was able to see the progress of the first preliminary round at a glance.
The front line had a wide gap with the other participants.
As long as there were no other variables, it seemed like he would easily pass the exam.
The fiercest competition was in the ranks of lieutenants who followed behind.
One by one, there were people who fell behind because they had used up all their strength or because their stamina had run out.
The rankings changed in real time.
Perhaps some of them would pass the exam and others would fail.
Even in the front line, the figure of the man at the very front stood out.
As a future Kwon Ryong, he was showing outstanding skills that were clearly different from other late-stage exponents.
Even with such skills, he was only concerned about protecting himself during times of war.
The martial arts and elixirs that the family would have provided for his growth were a waste.
‘Let’s catch up first.’
A jump followed by a five-step approach.
The ground was deeply hollowed out and stone dust flew in all directions.
The new model that floated down fell to the cliff on the other side, following a long curved trajectory.
A quarter of the way through the entire race was completed with just one jump and landing.
I wondered what the other participants, sweating profusely below, would make when they found out about this.
At this point, I had passed the lead and was in first place.
The sight of Hwang Bo-jin in the front row, unfolding the Cheonwangbo (天王步) and making a triumphant expression, could not have looked so funny.
As I continued to jump and land, I soon found myself nearing the finish line.
At this rate, it seemed like I would be able to pass the exam smoothly.
I had a puzzled look on my face as I took the final leap.
On the opposite side of the cliff, an old man was standing with his back to me.
When I recognized the old man’s identity, I swallowed my frustration.
In life, unexpected things often happen.
The current situation was exactly like that.
‘Why is that person here?’
There was surprise in the old man’s eyes.
It seemed like they didn’t expect that there would be a participant jumping over the cliff.
I screamed in my heart.
It wasn’t because of the old man’s terrifying appearance that would make even ghosts run away in fright.
It wasn’t because I felt a heavy sinking energy that gave me goosebumps.
What really scared me was the identity and status of the old man, which I figured out through memories of my past life.
The two people who are evaluated as the best among the absolute masters, commonly called the Ten Heavenly Emperors, are referred to as the Two Emperors.
Shaolin’s Buddhahood and Meng’s Buddhahood.
The old man in front of me was the master of Cheonoecheon (天外天), who occupied the first place in the world.
The contemporary Murim lord’s main artist.
His grizzled hair was neatly tied up, and his beard was trimmed short.
He was wearing a wide white long robe, and because he was dressed plainly without any patterns or decorations, he looked like a village rich man at first glance.
Two long swords held at the waist with a rugged appearance reminiscent of wild beasts rather than humans.
‘I’m going crazy.’
I never would have thought that someone as powerful as a leader would come out to the test site and watch the preliminaries in person.
I had no idea that we would meet like this.
All kinds of random thoughts passed through my mind as I couldn’t overcome my momentum and jumped forward.
What should I do?
Should I run away?
I don’t want to have to deal with that scary monster one-on-one.
But wouldn’t it be a waste if I forced myself to avoid it and the Mujon felt uncomfortable?
Surely you won’t be eliminated for cheating?
“after… … .”
As I landed lightly and let out the breath I had been holding, the old man approached me at a quick pace.
I flinched, my shoulders shaking, and I took a step back.
“Be careful. Then it might fall.”
I swallowed my saliva and bowed politely.
“I send my greetings to Master Yeon-woon, a scholar of martial arts.”
“I’m just asking to confirm, but is it a Review Jisoo who participated in this contest?”
“Looking at you, it looks like you know who I am.”
“Aren’t you the leader of your time?”
“It feels good to be recognized by a young friend I’ve never met before. “How old are you?”
“This year, it’s just a matter of terms and conditions.”
“It’s a transcendental state at a certain age. Even when I was young, it wasn’t at that level.
“Where is the recluse?”
“It’s the Thunder Gate.”
“Thunder Gate? It’s a sect I’ve never heard of. “Are you a secular school with roots in the old school?”
“no. “It is a one-person sect that has no connection whatsoever with the Old Daemun sect.”
A deep smile appeared on the corner of Hwabaek Joo’s mouth.
I don’t know why, but I could tell that he was very satisfied with my answer.
“I think we have to deal with work anyway, but would you like to talk to me for a moment?”
Artist Joo sat down on a nearby rock and offered to sit next to him.
The words of dislike rose up in my throat because I felt burdened, but I couldn’t muster the courage to say them out loud.
I sat with my butt against the rock with a very nervous expression.
“I never thought there would be a participant who would pass the preliminaries in that way.”
“I’m asking just in case, but will I be disqualified for taking the test in a fraudulent manner?”
“Disqualification? What are you talking about? “You did something wrong.”
“I used expedient methods instead of following the established path….”
“It doesn’t matter. “I don’t remember making a rule about not jumping over cliffs.”
“Then that’s a good thing.”
I sighed in relief and looked to the side.
Juhwabaek, who looked back like a ghost, narrowed his eyes and asked.
“Do you have any intention of joining?”
“That’s a happy thing. “I can’t believe such a promising young man wants to join the team.”
“I have heard of your reputation and admired you for a long time.”
“You’re so good at making such sarcastic comments.”
“It is done. Let me give you one piece of advice to young talent who will become future leaders. I like advice rather than flattering words, and I like people who bring results rather than people who make idle talk. Do you understand what I mean?”
Miscellaneous conversation continued.
Who is your teacher? What was your purpose in participating in the competition? What do you want to do after you join?
Nutrient questions continued to pour out.
I answered the questions as sincerely as possible, being careful not to show any flaws.
How much time has passed like that?
The front line of participants taking the test was approaching.
Hwabaek Joo said, pushing my back with a regretful expression.
“This old man has been holding on to his young friend for too long. Let’s go and have a look. “If you miss work or something because of me, you won’t be able to sleep at night because you’ll feel unfair.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s not really about work, etc., but…”
“You don’t have to worry about what I think.”
“Go and take the test again. “It would be nice to see you on the podium later.”
The winner of the Yongbong Branch will have the honor of going up to the podium at the closing ceremony and meeting the leader face to face.
In other words, what Artist Joo said contained the true meaning of ‘win and receive the prize I give you.’
I bowed to him with a shocked expression and jumped down the cliff.
‘I appreciate the support, but…’
I scratched the back of my head, feeling complicated.
I don’t know why, but the Murim Lord took a liking to me.
Aren’t you glad you’ve been liked by your future boss?
It wasn’t like that at all.
My goal is to join the Senate.
The Murim lord could, so to speak, be a being located at the opposite point.
My honest feeling was that I didn’t want to get involved with him if possible.
‘……I have to finish the exam first.’
I sighed heavily and slid down the steep wall.
As soon as I set foot on the ground, the finish line was right in front of me.
I picked up one of the dozens of flags planted on the ground and handed it to a nearby member of the Hyeonmu unit.
The member of the Hyunmudae who received the flag had a puzzled expression.
It seemed like they had never thought that the unknown late Jisoo, who was not from the old school or the five generations, would pass the test with first place.
In this way, the first preliminary exam was completed successfully.
* * *
When I returned to my dorm after finishing the exam, an unexpected guest came to visit.
“long time no see. “Yeon Sohyeop.”
A woman with her face covered with cotton thread walked towards me and spoke to me.
Although the face was not visible, the identity of the person could be known just by the voice.
I bowed politely and greeted the woman.
“Long time no see. “Jegal Soje.”
“Do you remember what I said before at Hwayang Sangdan?”
I recalled a conversation I had with Zhuge Hye in the past.
[Yongbong branch (龍鳳之會). Are you planning to participate?]
[When I see you in Honam, I will greet you formally. At that time, I will also take off this stuffy cotton cloth.]
[I look forward to it.]
“Didn’t you say that if we meet again, you will take off the cotton cloth and greet you?”
“I was planning on doing that, but I was a bit reluctant to show my bare face in a crowded place. So, I’m thinking of inviting Sohyeop to the villa I’m staying at. How do you think?”
“If I accept, will I be able to see Sojeo’s face?”
“Then I will go.”