[First grade – D Class]
Ju HaJin was fine on the outside thanks to the nanomachine treatment, but the same could not be said about the inside.
‘…His skill was definitely on the level of the Fist King’s disciple.’
Ju HaJin could never forget Shin YuSung’s movements. He especially couldn’t believe that the boy was also a student like he was.
‘I can’t believe that he can display such skill with an F-rank Trait, not even an S-rank one……’
While Ju HaJin was shaking in fear, the D Class students were cheering while looking at the screen.
[Intramural Competition Matchups]
[D Class VS F Class]
[Winning team gets 30SP]
“Okay, nice! We got F Class!”
“Where should we spend the 30SP? An outing pass?”
“Victory is in the bag! Okay! Just gotta do well on the exam!”
The students seemed ecstatic to be facing off against F Class, called the absolute weakest class. The F Class students with F-rank Traits were widely regarded to be the weakest class.
But Ju HaJin, who had been completely curb stomped by Shin YuSung, started sweating.
‘F Class? Our opponent is F Class?’
He still hadn’t forgotten the terror of being beaten up by Shin YuSung. Even if his mind somehow forgot it, his body definitely had not. As proof of that, Ju HaJin’s legs were wobbling like jelly.
‘T-that guy is in that class!’
As if someone had read his mind, another classmate raised their voice and said:
“Hey wait, the new student is in F Class. Are we gonna be okay?”
“The Fist King’s disciple? Ehhh, no matter how strong he is, he’s just one person! What can he do by himself?”
The female student next to them giggled while covering her mouth with her hand.
“That’s true~ can he even do anything when all of those F Class trash are bogging him down?”
As talk of Shin YuSung was brought up, everyone’s attention naturally started to focus on Ju HaJin. The female student who had spoken up earlier approached him to ask:
“HaJin-ah~ what do you think?”
“M-me? Of course D Class will win! What kind of question is that?”
He boasted because of his pride, but his heart was shaking like a reed.
‘E-even that guy… can’t win against numbers, right? No, with that level of skill, couldn’t he just destroy everyone?’
The proud Ju HaJin, of course, continued to put on airs.
“Ugh, the more I think about it, the more I regret it! If I didn’t underestimate him, I could’ve at least tied against him…”
Even as he was saying all that, Shin YuSung was constantly on Ju HaJin’s mind.
‘I wonder what that guy’s doing?’
Dorm assignment? Exam preparation?
No matter what it was, Ju HaJin prayed wholeheartedly that Shin YuSung would not participate in the intramural competition.
* * *
Gaon Academy grounds.
The boy in charge of giving Shin YuSung a tour was named Lee SiWoo. Even when he was a span* shorter than Shin YuSung, Lee SiWoo was energetically dragging the taller boy around.
“This is the training room! Gaon Academy has some incredible facilities, so you can do a good variety of practices here!”
“Thank you. How do I use it?”
“There should be a manual about the facilities in your dorm.”
Shin YuSung gave a hollow laugh as Lee SiWoo looked at him with shining, expectant eyes. He took a step closer towards Shin YuSung and asked a question.
“Is there anything else you’re curious about?”
“Not the training room, I’m fine with it.”
“Is that so? Then!”
Brown hair whipping in the air, Lee SiWoo again dragged Shin YuSung somewhere else.
Next, he led them to seven buildings arranged in order and started to explain.
“Our academy has a different building for each class. S Class is at the end there~ and F Class is right in front of us.”
Shin YuSung stared at the building without a word for some time. Lee SiWoo sneakily walked up beside Shin YuSung and pointed to the F Class building.
“Actually, everyone is really excited for your arrival here. We have to participate in the intramural competition after our next exam…”
“An intramural competition, meaning…”
“Like it implies, a fight between classes. It’s why the mood in F Class is so gloomy, like a mourner’s home.”
Shin YuSung asked no further questions at Lee SiWoo’s words. All of the F Class students were F-rank tier. Without someone outside the norm like Shin YuSung, they had a hard time winning against any other class.
Shin YuSung, who was entering F Class in the middle of those circumstances, was their hope.
“There’s no need to be too nervous. Everyone here… has pretty much given up on winning the intramurals.”
As Lee SiWoo explained with a bitter expression, Shin YuSung, in lieu of comforting words, gave a curt reply.
“Don’t worry, I’ll do my best.”
Shin YuSung, who got enrolled in F Class, was the disciple of the Fist King—and no less. It was unknown what sort of skill that Shin YuSung could display if he tried his best.
Lee SiWoo was very much looking forward to it. But, instead of showing his anticipation, he looked at Shin YuSung and gave a gentle smile.
“Okay~ let’s do well!”
Finished with his speech, Lee SiWoo held out his hand.
Shin YuSung stared at it for a long while.
Shin YuSung shook hands with Lee SiWoo.
12 years of continuous training after leaving the orphanage at five. The only human connection he had during that time was his master-student relationship with the Fist King. To that Shin YuSung, Lee SiWoo was the first person he had ever befriended.
Shin YuSung, after finishing the handshake, walked with Lee SiWoo to the dorms and fell deep in thought.
‘…An intramural competition, huh.’
The intramurals didn’t have any strong ties to the student rankings. It wasn’t an important event to Shin YuSung, who was aiming to be the strongest.
He remembered the talk he had with the Fist King a month before enrolling at the Academy.
[YuSung-ah! When you enroll at the Academy, you have to hit the ground running!]
[Are you saying that I have to run away?]
[No, I mean you have to stand out! Draw people’s attention towards you!]
[Is there a reason I should do that?]
[Of course! Use your brain and think about it!]
As Shin YuSung cocked his head, Fist King Yu WonHak had pinched his forehead and followed up with an explanation.
[There’s a whole gaggle of people at the Academy wearing the same uniform! Do you think any of the active hunters will take notice of you if you sit there all meek-like? You gotta at least get one person! Make sure your face is known!]
[So you’re saying that it’s important that they’re aware of me?]
[Yes! If you want to earn a lot of money, pick up a bunch of elixirs, and win some artifacts~ prominence is key!]
Like the Fist King had said, even students—as long as they build up recognition—could have their hands on money in the six-digit figures; it was also possible for them to take part in events to win artifacts or elixirs.
After reminiscing, Shin YuSung started to analyze his thoughts.
The strongest hunter was a title his master, the Fist King, repeated until they wore his lips down. Even though the thought of it constantly scared him, Shin YuSung’s goal was to become the strongest, the same as his master.
‘…If I want to be acknowledged as the strongest in the world, I have to—at the very least—be chosen to be the representative of the International Competition.’
To do that, it wasn’t enough to simply be strong. The representative for the International Competition was decided by a citizen’s election. To get votes, prominence was key.
‘Master said that it’s a day and age where it’s important for a hunter to have prominence.’
The world was in an era dominated by entertainment.
Even a minor event like the intramurals wasn’t something to gloss over. After his analysis, Shin YuSung opened the door to his dorm room.
Worn wooden furniture and appliances that you could not gauge the age of. The facilities of the lowest-grade dorms were worse than one could imagine.
Lee SiWoo, who was next to him, laughed as if embarrassed.
“…O-our school discriminates pretty harshly, huh?”
But Shin YuSung responded with a carefree smile.
“It’s not bad.”
To someone like him, who had trained hellishly for 12 years, these amenities were good enough. After seeing Ju HaJin’s strength, he didn’t think it would take a long time to raise his student ranking, anyways.
‘Until then, this standard of living is fine.’
* * * *
The day after Shin YuSung’s enrollment.
The first grade F Class students were all gathered in the training room.
“Isn’t today sparring day?”
“What are you talking about? Today is Image Room day. Idiot.”
The students were talking with each other, as no one had given them any instructions. Then, a man wearing a golden qipao slowly walked into the room.
“Hello, nice to meet you. I haven’t met any of you before, right? I’m Lin Xiao.”
Instead of the instructor, a man they had never met before had walked into the room. The students were bewildered. As today was his first class, Shin YuSung had no idea what the students’ murmurings were about.
Right then, a student raised a hand.
“Er, isn’t it Mr. MyungOh’s class today?”
Lin Xiao closed his eyes and laughed at the question, shaking his head.
“Not anymore. He was scouted by China and left the Academy.”
At his response, the murmurings of the students grew louder. Lin Xiao drew attention back to himself.
“Enough! That’s just how life is. Money is everything. The only thing I want to point out is that I was scouted from China’s Skyscraper by Gaon Academy, and he left Korea to go to China. How ironic.”
Even with such fluency in Korean, Lin Xiao was Chinese. It wasn’t anything surprising, of course. As South Korea became known for its strong hunters, many countries chose Korean as their second language.
Lin Xiao crinkled his forehead as he looked at the students, highlighting his thick eyebrows.
“Everyone here looks like they’re missing a few brain cells. I can smell your mother’s milk from you all. There isn’t a single person here who looks like a hunter…”
While speaking, Lin Xiao’s eyes landed and were stuck on Shin YuSung.
“What’s your name?”
“It’s Shin YuSung.”
“Your body is pretty well developed.”
Lin Xiao approached Shin YuSung, examined his body here and there, and was genuinely impressed.
“I like it even more now that I’ve had a close look at it! You haven’t skimped on your training!”
Lin Xiao didn’t know that Shin YuSung was the disciple of the Fist King, but still seemed like he was in approval of his physique that he had trained up.
“You said your name was Shin YuSung, right? You first, then! What level of the Image Room have you beaten up to?”
At Lin Xiao’s question, Lee SiWoo, who was next to Shin YuSung, raised his hand to assist him.
“YuSung was just enrolled yesterday, so he’s never gotten to try the Image Room!”
Lin Xiao narrowed his eyes at Lee SiWoo’s explanation.
“…Is he telling the truth?”
“Yes, that’s the truth.”
Shin YuSung replied calmly. Lin Xiao clasped his hands behind his back and paced, throwing another question at him.
“Even still, you should have an idea of what level you are, right? Can you at least kill two rank 2 monsters?”
After thinking about it briefly, Shin YuSung lifted three fingers. Lin Xiao snorted before he could control himself.
“You ‘re saying an F Class student can kill a rank 3 monster?”
“Yes, I should be able to kill up to five of them at once.”
At his answer, Lin Xiao crinkled his forehead again.
“Talk about bravado. An F Class student is going to kill five rank 3 monsters?”
Students with F-rank Traits were gathered in F Class. Lin Xiao didn’t think a student from that class could clear such a high level of the Room.
Shin YuSung tied his long hair up with a carefree smile. At the entrance to the Image Room, he declared while looking at Lin Xiao:
“I will prove it on my own.”
Shin YuSung was the type to let his actions speak louder than his words.
*One span is around the distance between your thumb and pinky finger when you spread open your hand.