Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 85
“It’s finally starting.”
“What a spectacle. To gather all these players to fight at once.”
“This Grand Martial Arts Tournament is going to be remembered for a long time.”
“They should just take this chance to permanently change the rules.”
“What a great idea!”
Within the stadium, in a room that only special guests were invited to, the entire arena was easily visible.
This was a place that only the Rankers of the Martial Realm who were holding the event could enter.
“You did something great, sir,” someone complimented the head of the Zhuge Clan.
“That’s right. We almost handed over the honor of the Grand Martial Arts Tournament to the Evil Cult,” someone else chimed in.
“That would have been especially bad considering how much interest there is this year’s tournament.”
“Haha! This is a great blessing for the Martial Realm!”
NamGung JinWoon wanted to cut his ears off from hearing all this bullshit, but he tried his best to hold himself back.
Zhuge Jing was the head of the Zhuge Clan and the general of the Martial Guild.
With snake-like slanted eyes and a face covered in wrinkles, he was smiling at the barrage of compliments.
“Haha. I didn’t do anything. This is all thanks to the Head of the Sapphire Sword School,” Jing said.
“That’s certainly true.”
“He did contribute greatly.”
“When the match is over, I’d love to visit the School of the Sapphire Sword.”
“You’re welcome anytime. Hahah!” SoBaek, the Head of the Sapphire Sword, said to everyone present.
Knowing SoBaek had a close relationship with the Zhuge clan, JinWoon closed his eyes and thought, ‘They’re all rotten to the core.’
He knew that the Martial Realm had been slowly festering for a while now, and every time he acknowledged that fact, he felt like he lacked greatly.
Zhuge was always at the center of the corruption, and despite being second-in-command in the Martial Guild, he had managed to amass greater influence than the NamGung Clan.
That was when it finally came to JinWoon. The Martial Realm had become a place where one’s way with words had become more important than one’s skill with the sword.
‘The reason the Martial Realm became this way is because I am lacking,’ JinWoon reprimanded himself.
JinWoon then decided to use this tournament as a turning point for the Martial Realm.
The door opened.
People were surprised, having thought that all the invited Rankers were already in attendance.
“Who is it?”
“Are we missing anyone?”
“I thought everyone was here…”
The room with a premiere view of the arena was an exclusive space for the Martial Guild, the host of the tournament. So unless you were someone related to the Martial Guild, you could not enter.
The Rankers in the room stared at the man that entered the room.
The man asked after looking around the room, “Am I too late?”
“No, you’re just in time,” one of the people in the room greeted him. It was JinWoon, who had been sitting in the corner sullenly.
He got up from his spot to greet the latecomer.
Jing stared at JinWoon thinking, ‘What is he up to?’
JinWoon was the man that had made the NamGung Clan into what it was today. He was definitely not to be underestimated. And the guest that had just arrived was someone he had invited in secret.
“Who are you?”
“You look like you’re from the Martial Realm, but…”
The Rankers of the Martial Guild inspected the man. He was clearly no ordinary fellow. He only looked 40 years old, but if he was indeed a Ranker, he couldn’t be judged purely on appearance.
If he was a somewhat well-known Ranker, at least one or two people in the room would have known his face or name. But not a single person there recognized him, which meant that he was a nobody.
‘At best he’s probably a martial arts expert from the boonies.’
‘What is he trying to do by inviting such a man?’
‘Wrong move, JinWoon.’
These were the thoughts running through the heads of the Rankers who felt unthreated. This was an inevitable reaction as the power dynamic within the Martial Guild had already shifted.
Jing smiled slyly at JinWoon as if to say, ‘We are at an age where words triumph over the sword.’
As the saying went, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” And over half of the Martial Guild had now sided with Jing.
“I’m sorry for the late introductions,” the late guest started introducing himself with a gentle smile. “I came here because I was invited by the Head of the NamGung Clan. My name is Cheon MuJin.”
“Wait a second. Could it be?”
“The Heavenly Demon…?”
Everyone’s eyes widened, and the mood suddenly died off.
A few Rankers went as far as to shift their hands towards the swords on their waists.
“You will die if you draw that,” MuJin spoke while staring at SoBaek.
SoBaek had subconsciously grabbed the hilt of his sword.
“I can promise you that,” MuJin threatened.
SoBaek felt prickles in his throat while trying to swallow spit. His spine felt chilly, and the air was so tense, he felt like he was suffocating.
SeBaek brought his hand back down.
MuJin smiled. “Smart choice.”
MuJin walked through the crowd, only speaking again after reaching the window from where the entire arena was visible.
“From what I heard, it seems that the Vice-Lord of the Heavenly Demonic Cult would have won. That would have been a real shame now,” MuJin said, taking a jab at them.
The gazes of the Rankers shifted away.
They didn’t know why JinWoon had called MuJin here, but they knew that MuJin wouldn’t let things stand now that he knew what had happened.
“What’s wrong?” MuJin asked unexpectedly. “Do I seem angry?”
“Hahah! There must have been a misunderstanding. Not at all. Why would I be angry? Because…” MuJin said while looking down at the arena, spotting YuWon, “your hard-schemed plan is going to crumble.”
* * *
The main stage of the Grand Martial Arts Tournament.
It was a battle royal where thousands of players fought on stage at once.
As time went on, the tension in the arena thickened.
YuWon glanced sideways and looked at Hargaan, who had been staying quiet with his eyes closed for a while now.
Hargaan was preparing for the real fight.
[Soon, the main stage of the Grand Martial Arts Tournament will commence.]
A message appeared midair.
A few players locked eyes with YuWon.
They had been keeping their eye on YuWon as if they had some sort of arrangement.
‘What a mess,’ YuWon thought, noticing one of the faces. ‘JinCheon. He must be the main perp.’
Zhuge JinCheon was one of the genius players of the Martial Realm, along with Hoon.
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YuWon remembered that he had become a Ranker in the future, but he also remembered him for having a rotten personality.
As the countdown started, Hargaan suddenly said to YuWon, “I’m telling you this now, but you’re the only one who’s a match for me, so don’t you dare lose to someone else.”
YuWon could immediately recognize the sentiment in Hargaan’s eyes.
With his friend and goal in front of him, Hargaan was burning with motivation more than ever.
‘I finally understand how he climbed so high so quickly,’ YuWon thought.
Hargaan’s future had changed completely, and this change came from more than just the Tutorial’s result. After having been the greatest all his life, he had been greatly stimulated by the appearance of a goal to surpass.
YuWon felt obligated to respond.
He drew a crude-looking sword on the ground and said to Hargaan, “That’ll never happen.”
And he thought that Hargaan shouldn’t lose to anyone else either.
The numbers finished counting down.
The tension that was at its peak snapped, and people started moving one by one.
“Why the fuck are you going off on me?”
“That’s just how the main stage is supposed to be, man! You need to fight ASAP to get noticed as much as possible…!”
“And that’s how you get knocked out faster!”
The first to move were the greedy players, the players that had already given up on winning and were focused on trying to appeal to the guilds within the audience.
On the other hand, most of the players aiming for victory stood aside and assessed the situation.
‘There’s nothing to gain by wasting my stamina from the get-go,’ one of them thought.
But once the fighting picked up, it was only a matter of time until things devolved into pandemonium.
Thousands of players became tangled up with one another.
And amidst them all…
A knife flew towards the back of YuWon’s head.
The knife was flung aside and scraped the floor.
YuWon turned around to see a man wielding a sword shimmering with a faint color.
[Arcane Sword,] or as they called it in the Martial Realm, [Ki Sword.]
“I know it’s not just you,” YuWon said while looking up.
YuWon’s blade drew an elegant curve and blocked the spear coming down at him from above.
The attack had quite the force behind it, but the one that was shaking wasn’t YuWon, who had blocked the attack. Rather, it was the spearman who had attacked him.
After his ambush failed, the spearman quickly jumped back to create some distance.
YuWon stood in his spot while looking around.
Even YuWon was aware of the bad blood between the Cult and the rest of the Martial Realm. Though it was now only remembered through records, it was both history and legend in the Martial Realm.
One by one, players of the Martial Guild that were spread out across the arena slowly started shifting closer to YuWon.
Because things had devolved into chaos so quickly, most wouldn’t notice how unnatural of a sight this was.
‘So this is why they changed the rules,’ YuWon thought.
He didn’t know who came up with this idea, but it was a simple and effective plan. In a fight between thousands of people, there would naturally be fights where one person faced off against multiple people. And against a skilled opponent like YuWon, it was quite natural for people to team up.
“There’s nothing to feel bad about,” YuWon said while imbuing his sword with mana. “You guys are all small fry anyway.”
YuWon’s sword was imbued with a much darker color than any of the Martial Realm players’ swords in front of him.
With an energy longer than a meter shooting out from the sword, JinCheon was shocked.
‘So he’s a bigshot for a reason, huh,’ JinCheon thought.
He wondered how high YuWon’s Arcane Power was to have such a large Arcane Sword.
‘It’s got to be at least over 60,’ JinCheon estimated.
YuWon was clearly beyond the skills of a lower floor player.
‘But… it’s not as great as rumored,’ JinCheon thought.
The YuWon in the rumors was like an insurmountable wall. It was to the point that some were going as far as to say that YuWon might already be reaching the level of a Ranker. But now that he was going face-to-face against YuWon, JinCheon realized that YuWon was great, but not that great.
‘This is doable,’ JinCheon thought with a glimmer in his eyes.
He finished calculating everything, and now that he was sure, it was time to enact his plan.
JinCheon flicked his fan to open it, signaling the attack.
The countless players that had been on standby rushed towards YuWon.
… A golden electric attack rippled through.
The players of the Martial Guild that were charging at YuWon were knocked back and scorched black.
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In an instant, an empty circle was created around YuWon with YuWon being the only one unaffected by the attack.
“Hey, weaklings!” shouted Hargaan.
He was the source of the electric attack, and he was baring his teeth at JinCheon and the other players around him.
“Do you guys have no shame?” Hargaan asked.