Had to change all the Chinese Pinyin names I had before to Korean versions.
Chapter 1. Math Genius
“Cho Ryu Hyang, what’s the answer to this problem?”
“…….Correct. How about this?”
“……..How do you solve this thing just by glancing at it? You started learning math after me and you’re already better.”
The boy who answered the questions lazily while browsing through the books. Cho Ryu Hyang.
This boy adjusted his glasses, a rare tool in this day and age, and answered.
“You didn’t concentrate. That’s why.”
“Says the guy who’s answering the question while reading books.”
Cho Ryu Hyang shrugged at the boy who seemed at least twice his size.
“You’re in a family of martial artists anyways, so doing well in math shouldn’t matter, right? You just have to be good at martial arts.”
“This is a matter of pride, damn it.”
The boy with the big physique.
Peng Ga Ho, as the second son of the biggest martial clan in the south, known as the hebei Peng Clan (河北彭家), answered whilst frowning in annoyance.
“I never thought I was really dumb, but whenever I look at you, I feel like an idiot.”
“At least you’re better at martial arts than me.”
“That’s obvious, you idiot. I trained in the main family for years, you think it would make sense if you were better at martial arts than me? Plus, I’m even two years older than you….. If I didn’t even have a better physique than you, I should just go kill myself.”
Peng Ga Ho, since childhood, was trained in various martial arts, and was fed multitudes of precious medicines. Compared to that, while Cho Ryu Hyang had many achievements, he was someone who could barely understand only the basics of martial arts. Obviously it was impossible to compare these two. Cho Ryu Hyang, as if he realized this fact, nodded and calmly said:
“Well, the investments that were made on us were too different, anyways.”
“…….You’re way too calculative.”
“Thanks for the complement.”
“How’s that a complement? It’s an insult!”
Cho Ryu Hyang smirked at his friend, who was pestering him since a while back, and told him:
“Just like how your house stakes their life on swords, our house stakes our life on numbers. You being better than me at martial arts is as obvious as me being better than you at math. So don’t start getting fired up at such useless things. It’s a waste of time.”
“W-who said I was getting fired up?”
Peng Ga Ho’s face turned red in anger. Cho Ryu Hyang, whilst seeing his face, took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.
“Me taking first place at the Mathematical Theories Competition was obvious. You taking third place was what was really surprising. You should be content with this, friend.”
“Yeah, you should be satisfied with that results, Peng Ga Ho. That’s the limit of your brain, after all.”
A boy suddenly barged himself into the conversation.
This boy, who possessed a thin body with skin resembling that of silk, was Un Geuk Lin (彦極麟), the youngest child in the martial clan said to be able to rival the Hebei Peng Clan, the Zhengzhou Yan Clan (珍州彦家).
“Un Geuk Lin, why are you barging into our conversation? Us big brothers are having a serious conversation here.”
When Peng Ga Ho asked him with a pout, Un Geuk Lin responded with a big grin on his face.
“Big brother my ass. Also, this conversation didn’t seem important at all.”
“Are you here to pick a fight again?”
“I’m here to ask a favor from Cho Ryu Hyang. I don’t have any business with you, so just go calm yourself.”
“You trying to pick a fight with big brother?”
“Big brother this, big brother that…. if we’re fighting with our fists, I’ll gladly accept.”
Peng Ga Ho slowly stood up after hearing Un Geuk Lin’s challenge.
“The main house talks with our swords only. The petty fist fights the peasants have with each other doesn’t even count as a fight. This big brother will go easy on you with a wooden sword, so come to the arena with me.”
“You asshole… How are you even able to say your going to use weapons with a straight face like that? Right, Cho Ryu Hyang?”
When Un Geuk Lin asked for assistance, Cho Ryu Hyang, who put his glasses back on a while back, answered with a bored tone.
“The Zhengzhou Yan Clan is famous for their skill with their fists and poles, while the Hebei Peng Clan is famous for their sword techniques. It’s a useless to try to see who’s stronger. Also, you guys are being way too loud here. If you’re going to fight, can you do it outside? I still have some books to read…..”
“You shouldn’t hole yourself up in the corner like that all the time. Go have some exercise outside. At this rate, you’re going to have fungus all over yourself.”
When Peng Ga Ho scolded him, Cho Ryu Hyang again answered with a bored tone.
“I clean myself daily, so I have no worries like that. I actually like washing myself, you know.”
When Cho Ryu Hyang turned his attention back to his book, Peng Ga Ho said something to Un Geuk Lin.
“Un Geuk Lin, you said you had something to do with him, right?”
“Yeah. That’s why I came. You think I’m crazy enough to come to this place for any other reason?”
“I thought so. In that case, help me do this.”
Peng Ga Ho, with an evil smile on his face, grabbed one of Cho Ryu Hyang’s arms.
“You hold the other side.”
Cho Ryu Hyang tried to resist, but naturally he didn’t have the strength to even impede Peng Ga Ho. Un Geuk Lin wasn’t someone to decline this sort of thing, so he quickly grabbed Cho Ryu Hyang’s other arm, and put it over his shoulder.
“The training field, right?”
“Of course, comrade.”
Cho Ryu Hyang, knowing that when these two rivals were unmatched in strength when they combined their powers, gave up on escaping. He wrinkled his nose a little, and said,
“Don’t do this, I don’t like exercising.”
“Don’t you know that you need a healthy body for a healthy mind, friend? There’s going to be a Martial Arts Competition soon anyways, so let’s go train our bodies for that. ”
“I’m not interested in a competition like that.”
“I’m interested, friend. That’s why we should so together, Uhahaha!”
Looking at Peng Ga Ho, who was dragging him by the arms while laughing, Cho Ryu Hyang let out a small sigh.
Even though he looks big and dumb on the outside, Peng Ga Ho was unexpectedly smart. Contrary to that, Un Geuk Lin looked small and weak on the outside, but was actually extremely sly and hard working. Taking these two on as friends was indeed a very good thing, but there were parts of Cho Ryu Hyang’s life that he had to throw away as sacrifice.
There was a book that lay face up, far away from where Cho Ryu Hyang currently was. Looking at the Book on Math Theory that he found with great difficulty, Cho Ryu Hyang’s face turned into that of sadness. He was so close to finishing the book, and then a useless event turned up again. Cho Ryu Hyang felt pity for himself for being in a situation like this.
* * *
“Chi (技) isn’t something that you master the first time you practice it. In fact, you can say that everything started the moment you access Chi. You must cycle Chi through body thousands of times before mastering it. Only when you master Chi, can you break your shell and reach the wall.”
Peng Ga Ho nodded with empathy as he listened to the old scholar in the auditorium. And he whispered to Cho Ryu Hyang the moment after.
“This is just like the elders at the main house teaching us about Chi Breakthroughs.”
“The fact that martial power and math is related to each other in a way is quite interesting. I knew my father had a good reason for seething me here.”
The old scholar at the front was a famous mathematician known as Jo Gi Chun (朝紀天). Right now he was staying here in the mountains because of his old age, but when he was young, his calculation skills were said to be unfathomable. The fact that he was able to finish documents that normally needed at least 10 people alone showed how much brainpower he had.
“The one talking over there, it’s you, isn’t it, Peng Ga Ho?”
“No it’s not.”
When Peng Ga Ho got caught, he took out his usual poker face and denied it. But Jo Gi Chun wasn’t that easy to trick.
“You think you can hide that, especially with that big body of yours? Be a man and admit that you did it.”
Peng Ga Ho, who put his pride on his manliness and honor, made a concerned face. Soon after, he admitted his crime.
“Yes, I talked.”
“And the boy who’ll be sacrificed with you would of course be Cho Ryu Hyang.”
Cho Ryu Hyang frowned while fixing his glasses.
The teacher created a situation where Cho Ryu Hyang couldn’t even try to deny that he talked. Cho Ryu Hyang became clearly impressed at how the teacher set up the trap, and made a mental note to try to learn this trick.
“Go stand at the back of the class, in the horse stance for 15 minutes.”
Peng Ga Ho, who was thinking ‘This is a piece of cake’, when he stood up, had his face contorted into that of annoyance thanks to the words Jo Gi Chun uttered soon after.
“Ah, I almost forgot. Peng Ga Ho, you stand for 30 minutes. Don’t use your chi either.”
The kids were staring at him.
Peng Ga Ho couldn’t try to back out, especially when he admitted his crimes like a man in front of everyone. Because of that, Peng Ga Ho stood at the back of the auditorium with a very painful expression on his face. It would be devilishly hard, but as long as he tried, Peng Ga Ho could definitely complete it.
While Peng Ga Ho tried to force himself to endure, Cho Ryu Hyang, who was standing next to him, sighed. He felt that this punishment was a little unfair, but he knew that it would be useless to confront the teacher about it. After all, he’d been in this situation more than just several times.
He expertly took on the horse stance, and started breathing comfortably. Then he concentrated on the lecture.
The Theoretical Maths and Martial Arts School (有技算法武藝學堂).
This school, which possessed an incredibly long name, was the nation’s biggest school of mathematics. Disregarding the size of the school, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this was the only school in the continent that could actually teach math properly.
Especially the lecture that Cho Ryu Hyang was listening to with absolute concentration.
Because this was Jo Gi Chun’s lecture on math, he wanted to capture every single detail about it, no matter how tiring it was.
“The skill of teaching chi to others is easy to teach, as you do not have to break through in order to perform it. Learning it is equally easy. But in order to obtain the true power with it requires an astronomical amount of work. Teaching to others the insights you obtained would be even harder. I hope at least one of you I teach would be able to obtain the truth and reach the limit of your powers.”
“Have you reached the limit yet, master?”
Jo Gi Chun paused for a moment when one of the students asked him this question. The old man, who was unable to lie to others, answered the student with a bitter face.
“I, who is standing before you all, can’t be said to have reached the limit. I only feel that I am closer to it. ”
“If you, who studied math for all your life, was unable to reach it, isn’t it plausible to say that this ‘limit’ doesn’t even exist at all?”
It was a bold question.
Cho Ryu Hyang stared at the boy who asked the two questions just now.
The boy was from one of the 5 Great Martial Clans, specifically the Nangong Palace House (南宮世家).
He was the third child in the house, known as Nangong Yubin (南宮玉彬).
Nangong Yubin was famous amongst the students for being the smartest out of everyone in the entire school body. From martial arts to math, even calligraphy. He was unparalleled in all areas.
Many envied the young man, who was a genius who was even in a great clan, but Cho Ryu Hyang thought a bit differently.
‘Just how much did he work to get this far?’
The many talents that Nangong Yubin possessed.
He didn’t know about the other talents, but academic studies and martial arts was one of those arts that clearly displayed how much one worked to attain the current level they were in. It wasn’t something you could slack off in just because you were a genius.
Cho Ryu Hyang believed that he only won against Nangong Yubin in the math competition because he more time and effort into it than Nangong Yubin. It definitely wasn’t because he was a genius. That was what Cho Ryu Hyang was thinking.
Anyways, the teacher, Jo Gi Chun, was staring at Nangong Yubin quietly after taking the offensive question. After a while, he shook his head, saying:
“The limit is definitely there. I’ve seen someone who reached such a level.”
“So don’t get suspicious and keep moving forward. If you do that, you will be able to reach such a point. I don’t know about anything else, but when it comes to mathematics, I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to come up with a plan to instruct you. So for those of you who get confused or feel that the lecture is getting to hard, don’t be afraid to seek help.”
Everyone said this in unison, and took out a book that had the phrase “Math Overview” written on it. After opening it, everyone in the class started to use their abacus. There were countless math problems in the book, and using that, the children were polishing their skills.
“It’s a little strange.”
Peng Ga Ho suddenly whispered.
He looked at Cho Ryu Hyang, and started to explain.
“When the teacher talked about mastering the Chi, in terms of martial arts, I thought he was talking about the state of the body when the energies in the body become harmonious, therefore making the martial artist would reach his/her peak condition, right?”
Peng Ga Ho had a habit of relating everything with the world with martial arts, one way or the other. Cho Ryu Hyang knew this very well. And so he listened to Peng Ga Ho with great care, as he was able to gain some insights from the boy sometimes.
“There aren’t many people who actually managed to harmonize the energies in their body right now. I guess there would be the 3 sovereigns, the 5 emperors, and the 7 kings (三皇五帝七君) who reached such a state.”
Cho Ryu Hyang wasn’t too interested in martial arts, but he knew about those individuals because he heard so much about them. Out of all the martial artists in the world, they were the individuals who were known to be the strongest. These 15 people governed the martial community with an iron grip.
The 15 experts of the nine states (九州十五客).
The words they uttered in the martial world was the law, and the truth.
“But in history, although there were people who reached the bottleneck of the martial harmony, there were none who actually broke through and entered the realm of the gods. Well, these monks say that the founder of the Evil sect, the Tian Mo (天魔), reached the godly realm, but that’s just their usual religious bullshit, and others say that the leader of the Shaolin temple reached the godly realm too, but that was never confirmed.”
“I think Jo Gi Chun thinks that the Martial Harmony and the Godly Realm is the same thing. But he said that he said that he saw someone who reached the peak of the Martial Harmony, right? I think that’s just a joke. The godly realm’s something that can only be attained in legends.”
Cho Ryu Hyang thought a bit.
Peng Ga Ho’s statements truly made sense. But this statement was fundamentally wrong from the start.
With sweat pouring down his forehead,Cho Ryu Hyang said something to Peng Ga Ho as he fixed his glasses.
“The teacher I know does not joke.”
“Hey, but you can’t deny what he’s saying is the truth, right?”
“Peng Ga Ho, I’m not talking about that.”
“Then what are you talking about?”
Cho Ryu Hyang turned his head sideways slightly. When he did so, he could feel the sweat dripping down his chin.
“I’m trying to say that the teacher was listening to our conversation since a while back.”
Peng Ga Ho then turned his head with a stone-face.
He could see Jo Gi Chun with his typical emotionless face.
When their eyes met, Jo Gi Chun slowly spoke up.
“Like your friend said, I don’t really like jokes. Meatless stories like jokes never do help me progress anyways.”
Peng Ga Ho tried to put on a face smile, but the teacher’s face did not change a bit. It seemed that Jo Gi Chun was listening to the conversation since a while back.
‘Damn it, how can he eavesdrop on his students like that?’
When Peng Ga Ho was insulting the teacher in his mind, Jo Gi Chun opened his mouth again.
“I wasn’t trying to listen at first. You were just way too loud.”
When Peng Ga Ho realized that the teacher knew what he was thinking, he had a priceless expression on his face.
‘Clever old man!’
Was he using some kind of magic?
How did he figure out what Peng Ga Ho was thinking so accurately?
While Peng Ga Ho was trying to figure out how the teacher figured out his thoughts, Cho Ryu Hyang waited for the teacher to judge him.
After a minute of thinking, Jo Gi Chun decided what to do with the students.
“Cho Ryu Hyang can come back in, and Peng Ga Ho can stand in that position for 30 more minutes.”
“T-teacher, are you telling me to stand here for even longer?”
When Peng Ga Ho half-shouted, half-screamed at the teacher, the teacher nodded with an emotionless look.
“I do not joke. So please do continue to stand.”