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    Soon, an Incident Occurs

    It was when Bi Ryu-yeon was checking the dormitory assignment notice posted on the bulletin board inside the pavilion with Jang-hong and Hyo-ryong, before meeting Moyong Hwee.

    While carefully reading the names written on the notice, Hyo-ryong and Jang-hong burst out with a question that was close to a scream.

    “What? You’re the top scorer of the special admission?”

    Both Hyo-ryong and Jang-hong were astonished. And they were testing the limit of their pupil dilation. It was evident from their expressions that they couldn’t believe such a shocking fact. They absolutely couldn’t accept it.

    “Oh, how did you know?”

    Bi Ryu-yeon asked back, surprised that the two of them had figured it out even though he hadn’t mentioned it. The two of them made a dumbfounded expression, resenting Bi Ryu-yeon for being so insensitive and casually stating it as a fact when they thought it was a lie. Their expressions were almost close to crying.

    “It’s obvious. Take a good look at who your roommate is!”

    “My eyes are wide open right now. Who is it?”

    All Bi Ryu-yeon knew was the three characters of his name written next to his own.

    “You really don’t know?”

    “I haven’t checked yet. I’m not a fortune teller, so how would I know someone I haven’t even met?”

    “Sigh, do you have to see with your eyes to know? There’s a way to know a person not only by seeing them with your eyes but also by hearing about them with your ears.”

    Jang-hong let out a sigh. Then he tapped his finger on the name written next to Bi Ryu-yeon’s at the very top of the notice. It was a silent protest, telling him to look again carefully. However, even if he looked again for the second or third time, the result didn’t change.

    “Moyong Hwee, the Seven Absolute Divine Swords! He’s the top scorer of this Ascension Martial Arts Festival. In other words, the champion!”

    Moyong Hwee of the Seven Absolute Divine Swords!

    The best prodigy in the martial arts world who had already earned the title of Divine Sword at the young age of twenty. He was the second son of the Moyong Clan, the foremost among the Eight Great Families of the martial arts world, and a genius who had been the focus of attention in the martial arts world since childhood for his outstanding talent and genius. Despite being able to easily pass through a special admission with the power of the Moyong Clan, the foremost among the Eight Great Families, he voluntarily participated in the Ascension Martial Arts Festival. As if to show off, he suppressed numerous masters and proudly entered the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy as the top scorer, a genius among geniuses.

    It was praiseworthy and a remarkable achievement that he entered the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy as the top scorer, relying not on his solid and powerful background but solely on his own strength and ability. Now, Bi Ryu-yeon was claiming that he didn’t know a famous figure that even three-year-old children knew about.

    “Oh, is that so?”

    Contrary to his words, he didn’t seem particularly surprised. Hyo-ryong sighed, thinking that he had quite a dull nerve. This was even worse than himself. It was tiresome.

    “Oh, it’s not. The only person who gets to share a room with the champion of the Ascension Martial Arts Festival is the highest scorer of the special admission test.”

    Jang-hong spoke again to Bi Ryu-yeon, making exaggerated gestures.

    “That’s right!”

    “What?”

    “I am indeed the highest scorer of that special admission test or whatever.”

    Jang-hong’s eyes widened twice as much as usual. His eyes were currently yearning for only one fact. Staring intently at Jang-hong’s eyes, which were filled with intense yearning, Bi Ryu-yeon accurately read his desire.

    “Are you hoping for me to deny reality right now?”

    “I’m just momentarily doubting this devastating reality where lies are spoken as truth without hesitation.”

    Bi Ryu-yeon smirked.

    “How can there be any hesitation in stating facts as facts? It’s only natural for me to win.”

    Although he hadn’t known Bi Ryu-yeon for long, having observed his behavior while being with him for a short time, Jang-hong absolutely did not want to admit the fact that Bi Ryu-yeon had won the top spot in the special admission, the most prestigious and authoritative test, surpassing countless younger generation talents. He didn’t want to despair about the future of the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy and the martial arts world just yet. However, it seemed unlikely that his wish would come true.

    “Are you really the champion of the special admission test?”

    “Yes.”

    Nevertheless, Bi Ryu-yeon just nodded his head casually as if it was no big deal. Seeing his attitude, Hyo-ryong and Jang-hong were inwardly dumbfounded. He was treating something that others would boast about in all directions with their shoulders raised and heads held high as if it were nothing. However, the incredulous and disbelieving gazes of Jang-hong and Hyo-ryong soon turned into envious gazes. Especially for Hyo-ryong, the change was noticeable, while Jang-hong showed little change.

    Not only Hyo-ryong and Jang-hong but also a few new disciples nearby looked at Bi Ryu-yeon with envious eyes, regardless of his own intentions, as if they greatly envied his position. It wasn’t a particularly good feeling. But he decided not to care because it was bothersome. Bi Ryu-yeon really wanted to do that. He couldn’t understand why they were staring at him with such gazes as if there was anything to admire about such a trivial and insignificant matter. So he tried not to pay much attention to his famous roommate, Moyong Hwee. But when a problem arose, he had no choice but to care. The problem began to appear secretly from their very first encounter.

    It was fine for Moyong Hwee, who was considered the best prodigy in the martial arts world, to immerse himself in his own world alone and maintain extreme cleanliness. Who would object to someone wanting to live in a clean place? The human desire for maintaining cleanliness was a subject of praise, not resentment. However, Moyong Hwee’s desire for maintaining cleanliness was now becoming the target of Bi Ryu-yeon’s resentment and irritation.

    The problem lay not in the essence but in the excessive degree. He could tolerate Moyong Hwee’s excessive efforts in maintaining cleanliness alone while suffering from an incurable obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, Bi Ryu-yeon’s sincere wish was for him to please not involve Bi Ryu-yeon in it. But he could feel from time to time that his roommate was constantly putting silent pressure on him regarding cleanliness, cleaning, and organization. That was intolerable. He had not the slightest desire to be forcibly infected with his roommate’s disorder.

    This gentleman named Moyong Hwee, who was so great that he was the object of others’ envy, turned out to be quite particular when actually sharing a room with him. Should it be called a kind of perfectionism? With a determined will to never tolerate even a speck of dust, he had arranged all his belongings at right angles and cleaned the room spotlessly as if it were a pure white sheet of paper. Bi Ryu-yeon was tired of that ruler-like perfect flawlessness. He had the amazing and astonishing talent of making people sick with just cleanliness. It seemed as if he couldn’t tolerate even a small speck of dust in the corners and gaps of the railings, or any misalignment or bending of a single trivial object. It was almost at a pathological level.

    He was transforming the room into a completely colorless and sterile space of his own. Within his domain, Bi Ryu-yeon was nothing more than a piece of filth. He seemed to be putting up a defensive wall, as if he greatly disliked any impurity approaching him.

    If one stayed by his side, it seemed like it would inevitably lead to one of two endings. Either being infected with his obsessive-compulsive disorder or suffocating from its influence… Whichever it was, Bi Ryu-yeon wanted to decline both outcomes. He didn’t like the fact that it was very awkward to approach him and that he alone pretended to be clean. Everything about him was disagreeable from beginning to end. Thinking that he had to continue sharing the same room with this fellow for a whole year made Bi Ryu-yeon feel inexplicably unpleasant and gloomy.

    So Bi Ryu-yeon began to think that he needed to take some action for the sake of his bright tomorrow and hopeful future. Although he hadn’t come up with a specific plan yet, being someone who didn’t like to get involved with others, Bi Ryu-yeon was determined to find a way. For now, he tentatively concluded to take his time in devising a plan and observe the situation to a certain extent. He could still endure the new stimulation for now. Anyway, once Bi Ryu-yeon had made up his mind to plot something for the sake of his future, it seemed that the days ahead for Moyong Hwee, who had been living a glamorous life on a smooth path, might not be so smooth.

    Visitors came to Bi Ryu-yeon, who was under fierce mental attack due to Moyong Hwee’s excessive cleaning. Those who had just finished organizing were Hyo-ryong, Jang-hong, and a young man in red martial arts attire whom Bi Ryu-yeon was seeing for the first time. For Bi Ryu-yeon, who was tired of Moyong Hwee’s excessive obsessive-compulsive disorder, their visit was like a refreshing tonic.

    However, what was strange was that there were three visitors, not two. One was a young man whom even Bi Ryu-yeon was seeing for the first time, a fresh-faced youth who had yet to shed his boyish appearance. The young man in red martial arts attire had followed behind Hyo-ryong and Jang-hong like an appendix. Bi Ryu-yeon pointed at the boy with his index finger and asked.

    “Who is this? I’ve never seen him before.”

    Bi Ryu-yeon’s gaze turned towards a young man standing behind the two of them. He was a neat-looking young man with a timid impression and a kind-looking face.

    “Ah, let me introduce you. This is Yoon Jun-ho, a fellow disciple who will be sharing the same room with us this time. He’s from Mt. Hua’s Nakanbong, right?”

    At the word “fellow disciple,” the young man blushed and said.

    “Calling me a fellow disciple is undeserving. I’m Yoon Jun-ho from the Huashan Sect.”

    “Ah, that Huashan Sect! I know that place too. Nice to meet you. I’m Bi Ryu-yeon.”

    Bi Ryu-yeon greeted him casually again, blurting out words that made one wonder, ‘Is there anyone in this world who doesn’t know the Huashan Sect?’ The young man’s first impression seemed to be not too bad. Even Bi Ryu-yeon, who was ignorant of the martial arts world’s situation and power dynamics, knew about the Huashan Sect. He had come to know about it through Hua Mu-yong[1], a disciple of the Huashan Sect who was among the 16 disciples of the Vermilion Bird Group. Before that, he was almost completely clueless about the famous Nine Sects and One Clan.

    This young man was a disciple who had entered this place with the recommendation of Plum Blossom Sword Emperor[2] Jong Hak-yeon, the former sect leader of the Huashan Sect, despite his delicate appearance, just like Bi Ryu-yeon, a special admission student. Judging by how he couldn’t even make proper eye contact with Bi Ryu-yeon, he seemed to have a timid and introverted personality.

    Bi Ryu-yeon’s gaze towards Yoon Jun-ho showed a slight glimmer of interest. Despite his timid appearance, he was currently sending a passionate(?) gaze of admiration towards someone, and the object of his admiration and respect was none other than the cleaning maniac Moyong Hwee. He couldn’t understand what was so great about Moyong Hwee, who was still diligently cleaning every corner of the room without fail, to the point of being looked at with eyes filled with respect and admiration.

    “What are you staring at so intently?”

    “Pardon?”

    Yoon Jun-ho, who had been staring at Moyong Hwee as if his soul had left his body, seemed to come to his senses and answered with a startled look. He must not have heard what Bi Ryu-yeon had said because his mind was too preoccupied elsewhere. Seeing him looking puzzled, Bi Ryu-yeon had to make the effort to ask the question again.

    “I’m asking what you’re looking at so intensely. Your eyes will bore a hole.”

    At his words, Yoon Jun-ho blushed and lowered his head. Hmm, does he have some suspicious hobbies? Blushing at a question that’s not even a big deal…

    “Hmm, don’t tell me you like him?”

    “Pardon? What on earth are you talking about right now? I’m a proper straight man. Please don’t misunderstand.”

    However, he made excuses with a serious face that was flushed red, perfect for misunderstanding.

    “Then why were you staring at him like that?”

    “That’s because he’s my role model.”

    Yoon Jun-ho said in a voice as small as an ant crawling. His voice was so soft that Bi Ryu-yeon might not have heard it if his hearing hadn’t been trained through martial arts. Bi Ryu-yeon tilted his head and gave him a look that said he was really strange.

    “What is there to idolize about that statue-like cleaning maniac? Well, his cleaning skills and organizing skills may be amazingly great, but still.”

    This time, Yoon Jun-ho looked at Bi Ryu-yeon as if he were looking at a strange creature.

    “Moyong Hwee of the Seven Absolute Divine Swords is a role model for us younger generation martial artists, without exception. Didn’t you know?”

    Of course, he didn’t know. What’s the point of knowing that? Bi Ryu-yeon looked at Hyo-ryong to judge the truth of his words. Surprisingly, Hyo-ryong nodded his head. Was it out of consideration to give his friend respect and surprise? If so, it was not a much-appreciated consideration.

    “That’s right. If it’s Moyong Hwee of the Seven Absolute Divine Swords, it’s no exaggeration to say that he’s the object of admiration for us younger generation martial artists. He’s an outstanding figure who is even rumored to be the top candidate for the future number one master under the heavens. There are even groups that follow him. Especially the Seven Absolutes Association, a women’s group-slash-boy-crush fan club that fanatically follows him, is unrivaled in terms of their activities and movements. It’s not just surprising, but even frightening. At one point, they even observed his daily routine from the moment he woke up in the morning until he went to sleep, without missing a single detail. If you carelessly make a remark that disregards him like you just did in front of them, you probably won’t survive. Be careful.”

    Hyo-ryong’s explanation was astonishing the more one listened to it.

    “Really?”

    “Of course. Not long ago, there was an incident where a man in his twenties made a disparaging remark about him while drunk at a tavern and had his left arm cut off by a young lady sitting next to him. That female swordsman turned out to be a member of the Seven Absolutes Association. After that, the man became known as the One-Armed Swordsman. It’s quite a famous story.”

    “Wow, that’s impressive.”

    After Hyo-ryong’s detailed information ended, Bi Ryu-yeon looked at Moyong Hwee with new eyes. However, that didn’t mean Bi Ryu-yeon’s attitude would change.

    “Well, although he may be somewhat good-looking, skilled in martial arts, and seem to be on the smart side, that alone is not enough to become a role model for others.”

    At Bi Ryu-yeon’s words, Hyo-ryong smiled faintly.

    “Of course, if described in your words, he may be somewhat lacking to be a role model. But the general evaluation of him in the world is that he is a supreme beauty with an immeasurable level of martial arts, and his wisdom is said to surpass ten thousand books, so he has sufficient qualifications to be a role model. Unlike you, who doesn’t give high scores. Moreover, with a powerful family background, isn’t he a top-tier potential husband? Someone like him has more than enough qualifications to make the hearts of numerous women flutter. Even now, he’s already doing that.”

    “Is that so? Does he really seem that great? No matter how much I look at him, he doesn’t seem that remarkable to me.”

    Bi Ryu-yeon spoke his mind. And he repeatedly tilted his head and raised objections. He kept doubting what was so great about that cleaning and organizing maniac over there.

    “That’s precisely the difference in perspective. The evaluation of a subject naturally varies depending on the viewer’s standards and level. Even an inanimate ink stone appears in various shapes just by changing the viewing direction, that is, with a mere shift in the position of the gaze. How much more so for humans, who have different personalities, characters, and levels? There’s no need to say more.”

    “Hmm…”

    Only then did Bi Ryu-yeon show an expression of agreement. Of course, he didn’t stamp a passing mark on Moyong Hwee’s qualification as a role model, but he decided to put aside further arguments about him. Suddenly, Bi Ryu-yeon asked Hyo-ryong.

    “Then, are you like that too?”

    It was a question asking if he was also possibly in the same category as those immature fellows who regarded Moyong Hwee as a role model. Hyo-ryong shook his head.

    “If you’re asking if I’m one of his many followers, you’re wrong. I’m rather his competitor.”

    Hyo-ryong said with a smile. However, his answer was a remark that ordinary people might find excessive. And if they were members of the Seven Absolutes Association, they would firmly treat him as a madman. Yoon Jun-ho and Jang-hong looked at him with unexpected gazes at his answer. Even in their short encounter, they knew well that he wasn’t someone who would move his lips lightly just with empty boasts.

    ‘If he’s a sword master who has reached a level capable of perfectly manifesting the sword curtain at that age, there’s nothing he can’t do.’

    Recalling Hyo-ryong, who had blocked the terrifying storm of sword fragments with a silver-white sword curtain during the destruction of the sword forest not long ago, Jang-hong thought. In his eyes, Hyo-ryong also seemed to be an outstanding master who wouldn’t lose even when compared to Moyong Hwee. It was just that his background was ambiguous, which was a blemish.

    Well, if we’re talking about the ambiguity of background, Bi Ryu-yeon over there was no less either. The ambiguity of their backgrounds was one of the biggest headaches currently troubling Jang-hong. No matter how much he investigated, he still couldn’t find a clue. It was something he had never forgotten before. However, he was still avoiding the worst assumptions. If the worst assumptions unfortunately turned out to be true, he would have to lose these two pleasant friends he had newly made this time forever. And it would be by his own hands… His usually boisterous head ached for the first time in a long while. Damn, it was a really unpleasant feeling.

    Bi Ryu-yeon raised his head again and looked at Yoon Jun-ho.

    “So, you’re also one of his followers, you mean.”

    Yoon Jun-ho nodded his head in agreement.

    “Yes, it’s an honor to meet like this.”

    Bi Ryu-yeon looked at Yoon Jun-ho, who had a light of joy in his eyes, as if he were pathetic.

    “What damn honor? You’re the same age, and even classmates, so how can idolization even make sense? If you’re a man, you should have the spirit to surpass him. If you just idolize him and look up at him from below, even if you’re reborn five times, it’s completely futile to try to surpass him. If you do that, you’ll always remain beneath him. Don’t let that trivial cleaning maniac restrain you. It’s just a waste of time.”

    Bi Ryu-yeon’s words were as sharp as could be.

    “Bu-but I don’t have much talent…”

    Seeing him lamenting his own talent even after properly entering the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy, which boasted the strongest competition rate and level that everyone desired, he seemed like a very pure fellow who didn’t know the ways of the world.

    “Fool, nothing is impossible as long as you have effort and tenacity. Moreover, you have talent. Believe me when I say it. So, don’t give up. Okay?”

    “Yes…”

    Yoon Jun-ho answered in a crawling voice, lowering his head deeply. There was still no self-esteem, courage, or spirit to be found in his voice. Tenacity was not felt. It was a peculiar event for Bi Ryu-yeon, who unusually didn’t crush his opponent into a state of irreparable state and comforted him instead.

    However, Moyong Hwee was still silently and indifferently continuing to clean even as a Q&A session about himself was going on. They didn’t even lower their voices out of consideration, but even though they were chatting loudly as if to show off, no, as if to make him hear, the reaction Bi Ryu-yeon had secretly hoped for was absent.

    Moyong Hwee consistently maintained an attitude that it wasn’t even worth dealing with. It was clear that he had no concern for anything other than himself and his surroundings.

    “Alright, let’s stop this boring talk. Shall we slowly go have dinner now?”

    As the day had already darkened and dinner time approached, Jang-hong suggested that they all go to the dormitory cafeteria and have a meal together. At the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy, one had to do laundry and cleaning by oneself, but meals were provided for free. Of course, there were also regular restaurants within the pavilion, but the decisive difference between the two places was that one was paid and the other was free. So, private restaurants were places that were difficult to frequent unless one was the son of a wealthy family or a disciple of a large sect.

    Disciples of Taoist or Buddhist sects and minor factions mostly used the free dormitory cafeteria. This place was also operated with a large budget invested by the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy, so the taste and quality weren’t significantly inferior. Still, it was a place that possessed carefully selected ingredients and skilled chefs befitting the name of the Heavenly Martial Arts Academy. As everyone nodded their heads in agreement to Jang-hong’s suggestion, Jang-hong looked at Moyong Hwee and spoke. Moyong Hwee was still devoted to cleaning. What a fearsome fellow!

    “Hey, would you like to come with us?”

    It was asked out of courtesy, as it was impolite to go and eat by themselves, leaving someone next to them. But an unexpected answer came back. Moyong Hwee, who seemed like he would be the only one in the world, nodded his head, sending a positive sign. The group was quite surprised that he, known as the world’s greatest genius, had accepted their proposal. Yoon Jun-ho, who was from the Huashan Sect, had a moved expression with his rabbit-like eyes wide open. There was no way he wouldn’t be moved at the thought of having a meal at the same table as his role model.

    In this way, Bi Ryu-yeon, Jang-hong, Hyo-ryong, Yoon Jun-ho, and Moyong Hwee got up from their seats and headed to the communal cafeteria located about 10 jang away from the Sword Spirit Hall to have a meal. The Sword Spirit Hall was a male-only dormitory, but the cafeteria was a place shared by all six male and female dormitories. However, as it was a place where various types of people gathered, it was also a place where unexpected incidents could occur.


    [VOLUME 2 ENDS]

    1. ? I thought its Hua Seol-ok though?[]
    2. 매화검제 (梅花劍帝)[]

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