The Novel's Villain - Chapter 63
15. Test (2)
As Jin-woo wrote down his answer, Kim Woon-jong’s eyes grew wider. All the veins in his eyes bulged, but he couldn’t close them. They were fixed and moving along with the tip of Jin-woo’s pen. The test paper looked like the surface of pure white porcelain, and on that porcelain, letters that could be called works of art were quickly engraved. The handwriting was sharp, beautiful, and soft.
The same was true of other Knights. They couldn’t close their eyes or move them away as if a spell had been cast over them. The Emperor of Gold didn’t allow distraction. Jin-woo’s posture was the same as the first time, and his pen was lightly moving as if he was just scribbling.
But that light pen stroke captivated their eyes. Only sighs resounded periodically in the silent test center. No one complained that they interfered with the test. Rather, they looked at it blankly to the point they were almost treated as cheating.
At first, Jin-woo was bothered by Kim Woon-jong and the Knights’ eyes, but he was quickly immersed in it and couldn’t feel their gazes. As he did when he wrote the reference, the information he knew was pouring out. Although there were was the same, so it seemed okay.
He came to his senses from the deep immersion when he finished filling out the answer sheet. Jin-woo exhaled and lowered his pen. The answer sheet was filled with beautiful letters. But looking at it, it didn’t feel stuffy or crowded. It was like looking at a single pattern, or if exaggerating a bit, it was like watching a crashing wave. The moderately distributed space was a white snowfield surrounded by the ocean.
When Jin-woo looked around, Kim Woon-jong was standing behind him, and the Knights were all surrounding his desk. Looking at the clock attached to the test site, two hours had passed. Exactly two hours passed when Jin-woo put his pen down.
Jin-woo stood from his seat without hesitation. All eyes were on him when he got up. This was because the written test couldn’t have been completed so quickly. However, it looked strange to say that he gave up.
“May I go now?”
Kim Woon-jong nodded. The knights didn’t have to, but they all nodded along with him. The answer sheet was already in Kim Woon-jong’s hand. Jin-woo came with nothing on his person, so he had nothing to grab. It felt very refreshing to leave alone when everyone else was working hard on solving problems.
‘It seems okay to take exams sometimes.’
When he vomited out all that information, he felt like his head was being organized. When Jin-woo came out of the test center and approached his car, Yoo-na was waiting. It was as if she knew he would come out soon.
“Did you do it well?”
“No. I screwed it up.”
“Is that so?”
Yoo-na smiled slightly. Those who did well on the exam were always like that, so it was something Jin-woo wanted to say a long time ago.
After the written test was over, Kim Woon-jong looked at the additional questions he had given Jin-woo with a serious expression. When he first saw it, he wanted to frame it. After all, it was pretty good-looking on its own. The first time he read it, he was amazed. The second time, he was astonished. And the third, he nodded.
According to one’s standard, the depth of the handwriting varied from time to time, depending on the view from which one was looking. When Kim Woon-jong was first shown the reference, he didn’t believe that Lee Jin-woo wrote it, so he came directly to the test center. But now, he was completely convinced. No, he was fascinated beyond belief.
“That’s a good basis for pursuing aesthetics.”
“Well, look at this. It’s a new point of view that I’ve never thought of.”
Even the Knights that showed an initially negative attitude were having a serious discussion. Kim Woon-jong nodded. For the A-Rank License test, all answer sheets were published after the test was over. The answer sheet that received a certain score or higher was reconstructed in the form of a paper. It was used as a reference when reviewing the Knights.
Kim Woon-jong had a gut feeling that there would be a great change.
‘The practical test is…sigh, I hate to even think about them. Why is the Association…?’
He was infuriated with anger. There had been troubles haunting him for the past ten years. It stuck to the end and obscured the essence of the test. Kim Woon-jong organized the written test but had nothing to do with the practical test. It was organized by the Association of Competent People.
‘What’s with that guy’s faction…’
He was very worried about the future of Korea. But he didn’t show it in his expression.
“It’s the practical test tomorrow, so get in there quickly.”
“Senior. Don’t you know? It’s going to be delayed anyway. Does that mean that there’s a Knight that suits their taste? Gosh…they all fail.”
One of the Knights responded that way to Kim Woon-jong’s words. He didn’t know what would happen in the future, but so far, it had been true.
* * *
The practical test was held one day after the written test as a battle royale. Although it was first mentioned in the original story that way, it was conducted as a sparring battle instead.
‘It should be a Battle Royale. Why did it become sparring?”
‘Did you forget the first setting?’
‘Let’s just move on.’
So there were polite requests for modification in the comments, and of course, they weren’t paid any mind. As always, Jin-woo remembered thinking that it must have been the original author’s mistake.
The practical test wasn’t a sparring battle, but it was a battle royale. He watched it three times in the same way. The more people eliminated and the longer they remained, the more points were added.
The Association’s explanation seemed plausible. Since the international competition was a bloody war full of scheming techniques, the A-Rank License test was made in that form even though it was also refined. It was meant to show everything since it was okay to organize into factions or conspire together.
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‘It’s a head-on conflict with the original setting.’
It wasn’t once or twice that there was a hole in the setting, but there was a huge difference between a battle royale and a sparring battle. When Jin-woo thought it was strange, Yoo-na gave him unpleasant information.
The applicants reportedly argued that it was too unfair for Jin-woo to wear JW equipment.
‘A letter of protest, huh…’
They even filed a formal protest. Of course, the content was polite. It was a way of offering thanks and praise to Jin-woo and briefly mentioning the problem little by little. The information about the applicant who raised that issue was secretly disclosed, but after investigating, it was a talented young applicant taking the test for the first time.
The intention was clear.
“Protests are customary. That’s true, but it’s very cocky.”
Yoo-na also frowned as if she was in a bad mood. Protests were customary. The practical test was in the morning the day after the written test, which was exhausting. Among the applicants, those who failed the test several times, senior applicants, came forward to write a protest and delivered it to Kim Woon-jong.
It was a means to buy time. Even a small problem shouldn’t exist, so when such a complaint came, the test had to be postponed, and a decision was made through a meeting. It was a rule set by the Association of Competent People. The Senior Academy for Competent People was affiliated with the Association of Competent People, so it had to follow the rules.
For that reason, the test was usually postponed when a protest was filed. If it was the same as before, they made excuses like weather or the international situation, but now they took issue with Jin-woo to gain more time. It was difficult to see that it was only the applicants’ opinions and other forces were not involved.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to attempt such an act without fear. At first, they hesitated to mention Lee Jin-woo’s name, but once the number of sympathizers increased, most joined the protest letter. The applicants thought they could buy themselves for at least a week.
There were no restrictions on the items to wear, as they were also included in one’s abilities. The applicants usually invested a lot of money in buying their own or were using borrowed items.
They made a mistake. A very stupid one.
‘So they took advantage of me, huh?’
It was quite bad to see them stumbling over themselves for just that reason. Jin-woo immediately contacted the Association and came up with a solution. A neat conclusion was made before the meeting began, and the test was decided for tomorrow morning.
“Are you sure you want to use this equipment?”
Jin-woo only smiled slightly at Yoo-na’s words. Yoo-na brought the Academy sportswear and an iron sword: the basic supply items provided when entering the Academy. When Jin-woo said that he would take it to the test, there was no reason for the meeting.
The quality wasn’t good, and the price was low, so there was no need to return it. Of course, it was much lower than the items the applicants had.
Jin-woo didn’t want any delay in the test, and he didn’t intend to play as they wished. Instead of going to the Sanctuary, he went to the studio next to the study. There were tables and equipment with racks on display.
Jin-woo put the sportswear, and the supply sword on the table then prepared a bunch of Enhancement and Attribute Stones. Though it was cheaply made, it was an item made of Gate material, so it seemed that it could be enhanced quite a bit. Jin-woo carefully enhanced it with all his heart. Until now, his enhancements were done as quickly as possible, so there were some rough spots, but not now. Moderate anger and irritability strengthened his concentration.
Jin-woo looked at the result.
[D+] Cursed Supply Iron Sword +10 (Limit Break!)
“Those who have offended him will taste destruction.”
A supply iron sword strengthened by the Emperor of Gold, the Incarnation of Evil with his evil heart. The primordial darkness inhabiting it gives it a strange ability.
[D+] Shiny Sportwear +10
‘The default skin is a symbol of stagnant water.’
Sportswear is provided as default. The beauty is preserved in a line that doesn’t harm the original. It doesn’t look outdated at all but rather has a natural elegance.
*Attributes: Earth, Wind
Jin-woo nodded. Come to think of it, Jin-woo had a Job as the Incarnation of Evil, even though it was hidden by the title of the Emperor of Gold. It also seemed to affect the enhancement.
It was quite satisfactory. If it were Rank D+, it would be enough to be held like the swords he currently had. There was a slight change in appearance, but it wasn’t noticeable. On the contrary, it became clearer, and it was somehow more noticeable than a supply item.
The A-Rank License test had a great meaning just by participating in it. People submitted their resumes based on the test scores to the Association of Public Officials or the Investigation Bureau of Competent People. The A-Rank License transcript gained many extra points when entering the Investigation Bureau of the Competent People. Most of them were well-known figures, and failing was never a flaw.
That is why a big wall existed between the League Guild and the semi-Knights, and an even larger one between the semi-Knights and Knights. As a result, some people weren’t satisfied with the test itself. Some considered the number of times they participated in the test as a medal as they rotted away.
The practical test was held in the arena. When Jin-woo was reported to be participating, interest began to explode more than ever. Senior officials of the Association of Competent People, Knights, and guests were present in the stadium. Even Choi Hee-yeon was present.
It was said to be the largest number of spectators in history, and all because of Jin-woo.
When he arrived at the arena, all attention was focused on Jin-woo.
“A supply sword…”
“Is that Lee Jin-woo?”
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They whispered in secret, but Jin-woo’s ears could hear everything. Everyone was hastily grooming their equipment, but Jin-woo was the only one holding a supply sword and wearing basic sportswear. It was commonly referred to as a sweatsuit or sportswear, but it was transformed and enhanced, so it felt different when Jin-woo wore it.
‘Such double standards.’
Some borrowed equipment under contract with the League Guild, and many bought equipment with the money they had collected so far. Most of it was equipment at Rank E.
It was very unpleasant.
“How are you, Mr. Lee Jin-woo? The practical test is a test in which strategy is very important.”
“It is a test that judges not only the ability but also political judgment. But we took advantage of that to create a new type of system.”
“We’ll come forward and make a good match for you. I hope you like it…”
Veteran applicants approached Jin-woo and said such words. From what they said, Jin-woo could see why the Battle Royale-style test was turned into a sparring battle. The veteran applicants made internal rules and swung them around as if they were powerful. That was why there were fewer applicants than in the written tests.
Of course, there weren’t many finalists. It would be difficult to get a high score unless one was particularly noticeable.
‘It was because of these guys.’
Although it wasn’t explained in the original novel, the protagonist must have accepted their proposal if he thought about it realistically. When Jin-woo frowned, the veteran applicants stopped talking. Suddenly, their body stiffened, and they couldn’t continue talking. It was hard to even breathe under pressure he emitted.
Jin-woo passed by them and sat down in the waiting room. He didn’t even give them a second glance. The applicants around him shivered. They felt a chill for some reason.
Before long, the time for the practical exam arrived. Everyone had to participate three times to get as many points as possible, but the applicants tried to participate only once as if they had promised it beforehand. Since they couldn’t compete all three times, they divided the numbers and put their name on the list they made themself.
“M-Mr. Lee Jin-woo. Are you planning to participate all three times?”
A veteran applicant approached him cautiously and asked, but was ignored.
“Mr. Lee Jin-woo, trust only me! I will take care of everything.”
It wasn’t worth answering.
“First now, let’s get some points by giving a lot of them.”
“Well! Then, I will sacrifice myself.”
“Choi Hee-yeon was also like that before, gosh….”
Jin-woo had good ears, catching the murmuring of the veteran applicants. Jin-woo ignored all their gazes and went up to the arena first. When he came up on stage first, the audience began to murmur, though most of it was discussing the equipment he was using.
Those who participated in the first test came up. There were fifty-seven applicants in total, including the veteran applicant who spoke to Jin-woo. The veterans followed in the footsteps of this senior applicant and held onto this test for ten years. It would have been impossible without someone’s support.
The test started from the moment they stepped into the arena. There had to be a war-like atmosphere in an international competition. However, all the applicants gently lowered their weapons and started looking for people to fight with them.
“Are you Competent Person #D21? I am #D32.”
“Yeah, then that way…”
The sparring was able to show the skills to the fullest, and some parts matched the practical test score system. This was because the longer it took for the opponent to be eliminated, the more points accumulated. Of course, Jin-woo had no intention of hanging out with them.
The gentle atmosphere ended today.
Jin-woo slowly raised his sword. It was nothing compared to the Storm Sword, but he liked the dark energy emanating from the iron sword. The moment he took a step forward…
The stage cracked, and dust soared up. Those who were about to start their sparring matches looked at Jin-woo in surprise. The same was true of the veteran applicants who oversaw the battle site.
Jin-woo’s figure grew blurry, and he appeared in front of the veteran applicant. The veteran raised his borrowed weapon in bewilderment.
He hurriedly took a defensive stance, but it didn’t work. The expensive weapon that reached Rank -E was smashed at once and fell to the floor. He could do nothing but look at his shattered weapon in astonishment.
Jin-woo’s sword reached his nose before he knew it.
A black wind blew in all directions as great energy descended upon him like a wave. All the ranked armor, bracelets, and accessories began to be torn apart.
Clang! Clink! Thud!
Hundreds of items fell to the floor as they were all torn apart, and even the applicant’s clothes were torn to shreds, leaving them only in their underwear.
Jin-woo looked at them indifferently.
“W-what is this…gaaargh!”
When Jin-woo lightly slapped him with the side of his sword, the veteran applicant’s body flew away and crashed into a wall. The applicants who were staring blankly at him met the same fate.
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As Jin-woo’s sword moved, all their equipment exploded brilliantly. The pieces of equipment became beautiful jewels to embroider Jin-woo’s surroundings. It even felt as if the equipment was deliberately committing suicide to decorate Jin-woo.
They weren’t given the time to be mesmerized, however.
As the applicants rolled on the floor, they trembled and passed out on the spot. Silence arose. Everyone looked at Jin-woo stiffly.
There was a small smile playing on Jin-woo’s lips.
The applicants felt as if a huge black air current was coming out of Jin-woo’s body. They were unable to move, left shivering in place.
Jin-woo liked the sword. The supply iron sword had become a weapon with more vicious power than expected.
He wasn’t going to give them a single point. This year, one successful applicant was enough. Of course, it would be him, Lee Jin-woo.
* * *
Kim Woon-jong’s eyes went wide once more as he clenched his fists subconsciously. It was such a refreshing moment. The moment that troublemaker smashed into the wall, it was so exhilarating that he almost screamed. But he was the test supervisor, and one of the senior officials of the Association, who was a retired senior Knight and a great senior, was also present. So he didn’t laugh out loud.
Han Choon-seop. He was once called the Mourning King, but now he was a has-been. He didn’t raise his weapon outside of fighting in factional fights.
“C-cough, is that okay? Last year…”
“Senior, that’s what the test is intended for.”
“Haah, even so….”
“Then do you want to argue with Lee Jin-woo?”
“No, who said what? Hehe, geez, our Lee Jin-woo is the greatest genius ever! Hahaha!”
Han Choon-seop laughed hard, hiding his complicated feelings. He was always on the lookout and tackled rulebreakers like hell, but this time he couldn’t.
‘Wow! That’s a great blow!”
Kim Woon-jong admired Jin-woo’s movements. His swordsmanship was so beautiful. The chain attacks and swordsmanship connection was fantastic, and the wind and energy wrapping around his blade showed perfect moderation.
‘That is amazing. He’s already at Knight-level, no, at least Lieutenant Knight-level.’
The Knight-level often referred to lower-Knights. The lower Knights were divided into Bronze, Silver, and Gold, with the Platinum rank, referred to as a Lieutenant Knight. Above the Lieutenant Knight were the high-ranking Knights.
‘It hasn’t even been two years since he held the sword…’
It wasn’t a talent that existed in the understandable realm. It was a talent that could only come out once in human history. Even he couldn’t figure out how to destroy someone’s equipment so ruthlessly and with nothing but a simple iron sword.
‘Aesthetics of the Sword.’
The theory was perfect. That perfect theory was completely dissolved in Jin-woo’s sword.
Kim Woon-jong looked to his side. Only Choi Hee-yeon was looking at Jin-woo with a gentle smile. Kim Woon-jong had been coaching her for a year but rarely saw her smiling face.
“Lady Choi Hee-yeon.”
“What do you think is his purpose?”
Kim Woon-jong knew how hard Choi Hee-yeon had worked to become a Knight; her efforts continued today. No, rather, they became more passionate. The driving force was probably Lee Jin-woo.
Choi Hee-yeon wore a serious expression.
“He said he’d change the world.”
“Yes. Honestly and beautifully…”
Choi Hee-yeon’s personal opinion was included in that last bit, but Kim Woon-jong nodded with admiration.
To honestly and beautifully change the world! Kim Woon-jong felt he could faintly see the picture Jin-woo Lee was drawing.
‘He is trying to change the Association.’
A-Rank License. The test, which involved various battling factions, was openly smashed with his overwhelming skills. The equipment that was secretly paid for by the factions was being thoroughly smashed. This event would be a huge wave that shook the rot in the Association.
“Also the revealed theory of swordsmanship…”
There were already Knights fascinated by his swordsmanship theory. If the written test answer sheet and his swordsmanship theory were made public, there was a high possibility that a new force would arise around him. It was that attractive.
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A cataclysmic change! It was the most appropriate word for that man.
Choi Hee-yeon took her smartphone out. It was the Infinity Phone that she received as a gift through G&P a while ago. After fiddling with it for a while, she switched the screen to the camera and pressed the record button. The Knights around also followed Hee-yeon and picked up their smartphones.