Thumbs Up, Level Up
The mercenary looked more and more surprised.
How was Mu-Cheok, an ordinary law student that had just started training, fighting as well as him? The mercenary had much more experience — he was a professional Hunter and had faced countless battles, which had led him to be scouted by the Jungha Group.
It was humiliating for him to be losing to someone so inexperienced.
He couldn’t stand it.
Suddenly, a blue light glowed for an instant around the mercenary’s fist.
He had activated his skills.
With the force and speed of a bullet, the mercenary threw his fist at Mu-Cheok, before Ji-Cheok could rush inside the sparring arena.
Mu-Cheok tried to slide gracefully, as he had done just moments before when he had shown that being nimble was better than being just strong.
However, in spite of Mu-Cheok’s swift dodge, the fist still struck his shoulder.
Mu-Cheok flew across the arena and slammed into the glass wall.
As he tried to stand up, he coughed up blood.
“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” Ji-Cheok furiously yelled at the mercenary.
Mu-Cheok could have easily gotten a concussion, a bone fracture, or a ruptured intestine.
‘This crazy motherfucker activated his skills in a no-skill fight! Not to mention, he used his abilities on a non-Awakened civilian!’
People were stunned at the sight of the mercenary using a skill to attack Mu-Cheok.
Then, they saw Ji-Cheok for the first time, running towards Mu-Cheok, and they lost their minds.
‘Oh my god! Isn’t that the older brother?’ some of the Hunters thought.
Ji-Cheok’s mind and body went into full crisis mode, and everything became a blur.
When he finally came to his senses, he found himself screaming at the mercenary while holding Mu-Cheok.
The mercenary walked closer to and responded in his language.
A trainer next to him translated the words.
“He says he used the skill by accident because of how intense the battle got.
He would like to apologize for hurting your brother.”
‘What the fuck? Bullshit, that was no mistake.’
It pissed Ji-Cheok even more than the mercenary tried to apologize when Ji-Cheok clearly caught him smirking before he activated his skill.
The mercenary knew perfectly well what he was doing.
“Hyung… keuk…Don’t… Worry… I’m… fine….”
Ji-Cheok hurriedly activated his Massage skill.
[You have activated your Massage skill.]
[You have greatly improved the condition of a wounded patient!]
[Skill experience bonus!]
At a frantic time like this, it seemed ridiculous for a skill experience bonus message to pop up.
In any case, Ji-Cheok’s first aid was obviously not enough to completely treat Mu-Cheok, and he still needed professional medical attention.
“Save your words for later, Mu-Cheok.
Help! Somebody, please help him! My brother got hit by an Awakened skill!” Ji-Cheok shouted.
“The mercenary also says that it was his first time sparring with a non-Awakened person, and he was just not accustomed to fighting without using his abilities.”
‘Is this guy dumb or something? You gotta be kidding me.’
“What a load of bullshit,” Ji-Cheok stared at the trainer.
The trainer anxiously went back and forth, facing Ji-Cheok, Mu-Cheok and Ji-Han.
After thinking for a while, Ji-Han spoke to the mercenary in the same foreign language.
Ji-Han seemed to ask something.
While they were having a conversation, a professional medical team ran toward Mu-Cheok.
The whole situation made Ji-Cheok seethe with anger.
Although he didn’t understand what was being said, it seemed like the mercenary persisted he used the skill by accident.
‘If he was actually sorry about hurting Mu-Cheok, he’d be on his knees begging for me to accept his apology.’
Ji-Han finally spoke to Ji-Cheok after talking to the mercenary.
“He keeps saying that it was an accident.
If we keep insisting it was his fault, this matter will have to be handled the Hunter way.
I didn’t expect him to keep denying that it was his fault.’’
“The Hunter way?” Ji-Cheok asked.
“In a way, you get to restore the balance.”
Hunters had a far more ruthless nature compared to the rest of the society.
Newly-awakened people were often teenagers thrust into a life of violence; hence, they normally wouldn’t turn out to be good-natured adults.
Even worse, nothing in this crazy world could scare the Awakened, as the defense-energy-entertainment trinity protected them.
“Ji-Cheok, if you defeat Shelton, he agrees to admit guilt and do whatever you want.
Your win would balance out Shelton’s attack on Mu-Cheok.
But if you lose, he wants both you and Mu-Cheok to apologize to him the Korean way, by burying your head into sand like ostriches,” Ji-Han explained.
‘Uhhh… this whole ‘regaining your honor’ and ‘bowing to the ground’ thing seems more of a Japanese way, dumbass.’
“Since you’re a rookie, Shelton will give you a handicap,” Ji-Han said.
“What’s the handicap?” Ji-Cheok asked.
“Shelton will concede from attacking until you get three moves in.
It was my uncle who recruited this guy to work for us, and it seems he has a big ego,” Ji-Han said.
Ji-Cheok felt that this battle was only the beginning of the many internal conflicts he would see from now on.
The Jungha Group had hidden it all too well.
Mu-Cheok grabbed Ji-Cheok by the wrist.
“Don’t… do it… Hyung… Keuk…”
Each breath Mu-Cheok took looked painful, and yet he was worried more about his older brother than about the injuries he had sustained.
It only strengthened the urge that Ji-Cheok had, as the older brother, to seek revenge.
And so, Ji-Cheok threw off his jacket.
“Alright, let’s do this!” he yelled.
* * *
Before the fight, Mu-Cheok needed to be carried off on a stretcher to the infirmary.
As the stretcher passed Shelton, Mu-Cheok spoke to the mercenary in what seemed to be his language.
Ji-Cheok couldn’t understand what was being said, but it didn’t appear that Mu-Cheok was swearing at him.
When Ji-Cheok asked Ji-Han, he translated.
“Mu-Cheok said that he’ll slice Shelton into tiny pieces of sashimi if he injures you too.”
‘Ahh, don’t you worry, Mu-Cheok.
I’ll filet him like a raw fish,’ Ji-Cheok thought.
“Did the medical team tell you if Mu-Cheok has any long-term injuries?” Ji-Cheok asked.
“The medic said he’s fine.
He luckily turned his body the moment the punch struck and took it with his shoulder, which lessened the impact.
He’s surprised that an ordinary person was able to protect their vital organs from an Awakened skill attack.
Your first-aid treatment also helped too,” Ji-Han said.
“That’s a relief.” Ji-Cheok sighed.
“Yes, people are looking forward to seeing his true potential unlocked after using the Awakening Stone,” Ji-Han replied.
“I guess my words didn’t comfort you at all.” Ji-Han seemed to have read Ji-Cheok’s mind when he didn’t respond.
“Did your uncle send the mercenary on purpose to hurt Mu-Cheok? Getting rid of talented and pre-Awakened competition seems to be mentioned in a lot of sports magazines,” Ji-Cheok asked..
“…If that rumor is true, then he would’ve gotten rid of you first,” Ji-Han answered.
He was carefully making sure that he didn’t agree or disagree with what Ji-Cheok said.
He then added another thing.
“Even though it may seem like he’s doing you a favor by letting you have the first three hits, he’s not.
You have defeated monsters, but you’ve never fought against people.
They are completely different,” Ji-Han said.
Ji-Cheok felt that Ji-Han was testing him.
It was odd; since Ji-Han had worked so hard to recruit him, he probably wouldn’t want Ji-Cheok to get hurt before he even started his Hunter position at the company.
Any normal employer would have stopped their hunters from doing this, no matter what.
Well, Ji-Cheok wouldn’t have listened to Ji-Han anyway, even if the latter had tried to discourage him from sparring.
Right now, Ji-Han seemed to observe how Ji-Cheok reacted as he gave him several warnings about the spar.
“I have a question, since I don’t know how Hunters fight one another,” Ji-Cheok hesitated.
“What is it?”
“What does ‘three moves’ mean? I’ve seen it mentioned in Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” Ji-Cheok asked.
“A weapon coming into contact with another weapon is considered a basic move.”
“If the weapons don’t come into contact, then it doesn’t count?” Ji-Cheok questioned.
“Something like that,” Ji-Han nodded.
That sounded easy.
“Don’t take this lightly.
Shelton has a defensive ability that makes his body as tough as steel.
Even though he said he would refrain from attacking until you get your three moves, that doesn’t mean he won’t be defending himself,” Ji-Han said.
“Ah, that’s low,” Ji-Cheok replied.
“Hahaha, I guarantee you that there’ll be more times where people use cheap tactics.
Anyway, this is the last time I ask.
Are you still willing to fight?” Ji-Han asked.
[Hunter Jung Ji-Han is impressed with your recklessness and courage.]
[You have received 3 Likes.]
[Hunter Jung Ji-Han’s overall impression of you has changed.]
[You have received 1 Like.]
‘Wha…?What was his impression of me before?’ Ji-Cheok thought.
“Shelton’s asking if you’re ready.” a trainer said.
He seemed to be the referee for the spar, and Ji-Cheok gave another nod.
There’s also one thing I’d like to suggest.” Ji-Cheok said, and Ji-Han listened carefully.
* * *
Ji-Cheok stood facing Shelton, near a corner of the training room.
Shelton wore gloves, which made sense as he was part of the hand-to-hand combat squadron.
Meanwhile, Ji-Cheok brandished two wooden training swords and moved toward his opponent.
Ji-Cheok was still impressed that his younger brother had thrown the first punch and hadn’t gotten any vital organs injured fighting against this professional Hunter.
All Mu-Cheok had done until not too long ago was study.
‘Could this jackass not handle how talented Mu-Cheok is? Jealousy, much? Yeah, screw this guy.
He keeps glaring at me, as if that’s going to throw me off.
It’s not working, dude.
Just stop,’ Ji-Cheok thought.
Come to think of it, Ji-Cheok’s vengeful thoughts were like what villains usually said in movies.
But he didn’t have the time to think up something clever like, ‘Hahaha! I can’t believe you beat my brother up! You truly are something! Bring it on, fight me!’
Ji-Cheok was just a typical Korean older brother and eldest son of the family.
He felt responsible and put it upon himself to get revenge for his injured brother.
“The rules are simple.
Fight until one of you gives up or can no longer fight.
Leaving the ring will also be considered as defeat,” the trainer laid out.
“I lose if my body crosses the arena boundaries?” Ji-Cheok asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” the trainer replied.
‘The fuck? You’re telling me this guy could’ve just pushed Mu-Cheok out of the ring, but he chose to use his skill instead? That’s fucked up, and even worse since it was a no-skills fight.
He could have won without using his abilities at all.’
This thought enraged Ji-Cheok, and he was now even more determined to take this mercenary down.
“Since both sides have agreed to the three-move handicap, Um Ji-Cheok will attack first,” the trainer said.
As the trainer blew the whistle, the mercenary’s skin glowed with blue light and became as hard as a rock.
He had used the Impenetrable Defense skill!
‘You said you would give me a handicap.How cheap is that?’ Ji-Cheok groaned.
The mercenary got into a defensive posture and poised himself to take on Ji-Cheok’s attack.
However, Ji-Cheok didn’t have the slightest intention to move the way Shelton expected.
“Activate the Silph’s Blessing and the Wind and Cloud Steps,” Ji-Cheok said.
[The spirits have blessed you.
Your Agility and attack power have been slightly increased.]
[Your steps will imitate the movement of the wind and clouds.]
Ji-Cheok could suddenly feel his every move effortlessly supported by the air flowing around him.
A cluster of blue lights surrounded Ji-Cheok’s body, ruffling through his hair.
“He’s summoning spirits?” One Hunter watching their spar muttered.
He wasn’t exactly correct, but that didn’t matter.
Ji-Cheok took large and fast strides toward the mercenary with the Wind and Cloud Steps, which made Shelton flinch.
At that moment, Ji-Cheok took the opportunity to step on Shelton’s shadow.
[You have stolen a portion of your opponent’s defense and speed by stepping on their shadow.]
It was as if Ji-Cheok’s foot was glued to his opponent’s shadow; as he moved away, a part of Shelton’s shadow was ripped away and merged with Ji-Cheok’s own.
Shelton’s movements drastically slowed down, while Ji-Cheok’s became faster.
‘You’re a Hunter that specializes in defense, right? Even though I only took ten percent of your defensive power, it’s still a massive boon!’
Ji-Cheok’s shadow grew bigger as soon as he absorbed Shelton’s.
[Spectator No.1 has been impressed with your stylish movement skill.]
[You have received 2 Likes.]
“Fuck…” Shelton said out loud in English.
It must have occurred to Shelton that battling Ji-Cheok would not be as easy as a normal Hunter-versus-rookie duel.
Still, it was too early to decide the match, as Shelton hadn’t even done anything yet and Ji-Cheok hadn’t made his first move either.
‘Should’ve followed the rules when you sparred with my brother! I’ll finish you off in one go! Telekinetic Arrows!!’
Ji-Cheok, from a mere arm’s length away, decided to unleash his arrows onto Shelton.
Unfortunately, the arrows bounced off and disappeared after failing to pierce Shelton’s hardened skin.
They cracked the steel shell around his body, but that was it.
I’ve got the next move lined up.’
Shelton raised his fist, considering that Ji-Cheok had used up his handicap, since he had shot five arrows.
‘Ah, this’ll be interesting with how slow you are!’
Shelton’s first move was to hurl his fist toward Ji-Cheok’s face, but Ji-Cheok saw the slow punch from a mile away.
Ji-Cheok immediately used his next skill.
The evasion skill, created by the legendary Divine Thief, allowed Ji-Cheok to dodge and avoid Shelton’s attack so fast that all everyone could see was an afterimage.
Shelton frowned as he missed completely.
[Lee Se-Chan and Kim Jin-Ah are amazed at your superb evasion skills.]
[You have received 6 Likes.]
Ji-Cheok rushed towards Shelton, who had lost his balance after throwing the punch.
He activated the Mysterious Swords: White Night, Dark Night; the skill’s power instantly seeped into both of his wooden swords.
He had noticed the areas of Shelton’s body that the Telekinetic Arrows had been able to penetrate slightly, and he swung the swords towards them.
Shelton’s hardened shell shattered into pieces, with the clattering sound of steel armor falling apart.
At the same time, Shelton fell again.
‘Oh my, is this the best sound in the world or what?’ Ji-Cheok thought.
He liked it so much that he wanted it to be the sound he woke up to.
Ji-Cheok then took another swing at Shelton.
This time, the swords struck flesh, which didn’t make much of a satisfying sound.
Shelton bent over and stumbled forward.
‘Ah, my friend.
Did it hurt? Of course it did.
It must have been pretty painful.
Well, you’ve never experienced pain like this before, am I right?’ Ji-Cheok’s mind was filled with sarcastic musings.
It only pissed Ji-Cheok more when he thought about how Mu-Cheok could have gotten a concussion, a bone fracture, or a ruptured intestine.
‘It’s time you die!’
Ji-Cheok struck Shelton’s arm with the White Night blade.
He felt Shelton’s arm fracture from the impact of the sword, but he did not care at all.
‘There goes an arm, I guess.
Ji-Cheok swung the other sword, and the blade of the Dark Night smashed into Shelton’s ribs.
Ji-Cheok heard the bones cracking, but he kept going.
‘Oh no, did I hurt your ribs? Sorry, dude.’
Then, using both swords, he started whacking Shelton’s body, which was no longer protected by the Impenetrable Defense.
“Stop, stop, stoooop!!!”
The trainer shouted.
[Trainer No.1’s heart is pounding after watching your violent attacks.]
[You have received 2 Likes.]
‘Umm… Ji-Han, you should start looking for a new trainer.’
Ji-Cheok enjoyed obtaining Likes, but that also exposed what people were truly thinking.
“Wait, wait!” Shelton yelled in English.
“Huuuh? What the hell are you saying? I don’t understand!”
The trainer tried to stop Ji-Cheok, but he continued hitting Shelton’s face, pretending that he didn’t understand them.
Putting your head on the ground with your hands behind your back like an ostrich burying its head in the sand is a form of punishment that Koreans like to joke about.
In the Japanese traditional etiquette, dogeza (pronounced ‘dow-gay-zah’) involves kneeling on the ground and prostrating oneself to express a deep apology, ask for an enormous favour, or show deference to a person of extremely high status.
A famous Chinese literature classic
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