Chapter 3. The Academy That Turned Upside Down
When Cho Ryu Hyang had woken up, 10 days had gone by. When he first opened his eyes the first thing that entered his vision was an old, wrinkly man servant’s face.
“Ha, have you gained your senses, young master?”
Cho Ryu Hyang looked around absent-mindedly. He was very confused. His head was filled with knowledge everywhere, which was stuck in countless places in his mind. There was knowledge in his head he didn’t have before. As he was organizing the knowledge in his mind, something happened.
The old manservant ran outside all of the sudden. There were series of loud sounds outside, and a huge fellow ran into the room. It was Peng Ga Ho.
“Cho Ryu Hyang, did you just wake up now?”
As soon as he came in, he grabbed a seat, and sat down. He took a look at Cho Ryu Hyang, and opened his mouth.
“It doesn’t look like you’re going to die any time soon.”
Cho Ryu Hyang smirked.
Peng Ga Ho didn’t know this, but Cho Ryu Hyang right now was extremely healthy.
No, his body was actually suppressing an unknown power inside from bursting forth.
“How many days was I out?”
“You were out for ten days, you crazy bastard.”
“You made us really worried. You know how anxious grandpa Jang got because of you? He probably sent word to the main house. You’re going to have a lot of fun with that.”
Cho Ryu Hyang’s face was full of shame.
Grandpa Jang was someone who followed him all the way from the main house to serve him. Cho Ryu Hyang was extremely grateful towards grandpa Jang because of that. Even though they had a master-servant relationship, Cho Ryu Hyang held special feelings for grandpa. Thinking that the person was going to reprimanded by his parents because of him, he felt sorry for grandpa.
“I’ll try my best talking to them.”
“If you’re a proper human being, it should be your duty to do so. He was making a huge fuss about it, calling me and the doctor and everything, just so that he could try save you.”
“He went that far?”
Cho Ryu Hyang cautiously started to lift up his upper body. However, as soon as he tried, Peng Ga Ho stopped him and said:
“Just lie down for now. If you suddenly move after ten days, your muscles are going to get a shock.”
“…..Yeah. That might happen.”
Thinking about it, there was a need to know a bit more about what happened to his body . But it really was quite strange. He felt like he just lied down for a little bit, but ten days had already gone by?
“I was so surprised when I found you leaning against the wall, unconscious… speaking of, do you know this?”
“You’re the first person in the history of the school to faint because of overwork in the library of all things. The first!”
Cho Ryu Hyang made a bitter smile.
He had nothing to say to that.
“I made you get worried for no reason.”
“Goddammit, even if you like books that much, how did you manage to faint at that place of all things? I just don’t understand you.”
Cho Ryu Hyang didn’t faint because of overwork, but he didn’t feel like explaining.
It was because Cho Ryu Hyang himself was still confused if the events that took place in the library was real or not.
“Just rest here. I’ll go call the doctor and then I’ll leave.”
Peng Ga Ho was about to leave when he stopped by the door.
He hesitated a bit, and then he opened his mouth.
“……Stop worrying me like that. You and your weak body…”
Cho Ryu Hyang couldn’t find an appropriate response.
The reason was because Peng Ga Ho came at him at both warmly, and yet struck him heavily. Only after the doctor came in to check up on him, and prescribed him a few medicine, was he able to be truly alone.
There were immense changes going on in his body.
Could Cho Ryu Hyang truly use the mystical powers and perform miracles, just like what the book said? When he thought about that, Cho Ryu Hyang’s head got jumbled up a bit. Cho Ryu Hyang always thought that his rationality and logicalness was his strongest points. After attaining a power that he himself couldn’t explain with words, however, his mind became chaotic. But what weighed on his mind the most currently was not this.
Since awhile ago, something, or someone, in his head was unraveling the knowledge packed inside his brain in a way that Cho Ryu Hyang could understand scarily fast. It felt like some kind of an entity was teaching him about these newfound knowledge, step by step. It was a interesting experience. As soon as questions popped up in his mind, it was answered almost at the same time. It was definitely weird.
Cho Ryu Hyang closed his eyes. The moment he did so, a figure popped out in his mind.
‘The old man in the picture!’
The old man looked at Cho Ryu Hyang in an arrogant way.
It seemed that this old man was the one that was explaining everything to him.
[Have you come to your senses, greenhorn?]
It was a type of communication where words were transferred directly into his brain, instead of being transferred by sound.
Cho Ryu Hyang hesitated a little, then opened his mouth and replied.
The old man smirked at him.
“You don’t even believe that I am Zhuge Liang, and yet you lie about it with a straight face.”
Cho Ryu Hyang’s face went red with the old man’s words.
It seemed like the old man could read Cho Ryu Hyang’s mind because he was in his mind.
If it’s like this, Cho Ryu Hyang was unable to lie to him.
It’s a little troublesome.
“To be honest, it’s a hard to believe….”
Cho Ryu Hyang quickly stopped himself from shouting ‘Don’t lie!’ in his mind.
Unexpectedly, the old man’s face implied that he didn’t really care about Cho Ryu Hyang’s attitude.
[Doesn’t matter. A person’s name and status in actuality just a meaningless cloak. Anyways, the time we will be able to spend talking to each other won’t be long, at least for now.]
For now? Does that mean they would be able to talk in great lengths in the future?
When that question floated into Cho Ryu Hyang’s mind, the old man immediately answered him.
[Good question. Yes. Like you just thought, we will be able to talk in great lengths in the future. But that won’t happen any time soon.]
Even though he didn’t really ask the old man the question, the old man answered immediately.
This was actually quite convenient.
[You’re body is still developing, so there will be some problems that appear when using the powers I gave you, but that can’t really be solved right now.]
What abilities were there?
When Cho Ryu Hyang wondered this, the old man replied.
[Are you curious, child?]
Of course he was curious.
If what the book said was true, then he would be able to walk great distances, and fly, even. These powers would indeed help him out a lot in life.
Did the old man read his thoughts?
The old man’s face grew stern.
[Your greed is indeed really amazing. Child, why are you trying to just take this information from me? Based on how hard you train in the future, the abilities you acquire will differ.]
Then was there no ability at all?
Cho Ryu Hyang became a little disappointed. The old man then smiled in a mysterious way, and said this.
[For a child, you polished up your math skills quite nicely. If you go outside, you’ll be able to see a whole new world.]
What did this mean?
Cho Ryu Hyang felt sleepy all of the sudden, and started falling asleep then.
Watching this, the old man complained a little.
[So this is the limit so far. It takes far too much power for you to talk to me right now.]
The old man wasn’t really satisfied with it, but he couldn’t do anything about it.
After all, it was a blessing to even acquire a child like this. The old man resolved himself by telling himself that the boy would be quite all right once he trained him. He had high expectations for this child.
* * *
“Did you try finding it out?”
“Yes. But it became more complicated than I imagined, your holiness.”
“The person your holiness is trying to find, the number one in mathematics, is actually located at the imperial palace.”
“The imperial palace?”
“Yes, your holiness.”
A great hall.
In the middle of this hall, there was a finely dressed official, and a lean middle-aged man. The middle aged man had a playful, harmless look on his face. If a person actually knew who this man was, no one would actually dare to look down on him.
This man was the pope of the current Heavenly Demon God’s Church, and a member of the 15 guests of the land (三皇五帝七君). He was one of the 3 sovereigns, even. And this man was the Dark Emperor, Gongson Chun Gi (公孫天器) .
“Damn it, things really did get complicated.”
Gongson Chun Gi licked his lips, as if he felt inconvenienced by this whole affair.
Looking at that, the man dressed in red carefully said this.
“If this one moves, he will be able to bring the man in.”
“Really now? Are you going to jump over the palace walls or something?”
“If you wish for me to do so, I will gladly do it.”
When the man said this with absolute loyalty in his voice, Gongson Chun Gi shook his head after contemplating on the man’s statement a little.
“No, it’s fine. We shouldn’t overexert ourselves. Getting ourselves tangled with the imperial palace isn’t really good.”
It was regrettable, but Gongson Chun Gi decided to not go for it.
It wasn’t as if there weren’t any other ways to do this, anyways.
“Do we have a backup? We have one, right?”
The red man replied immediately.
“Who is it?”
“Other than the man known as the number one in math, Ju Ho Yu (周虎柳), there is the former number one, known as Jo Gi Chun, who retired recently.”
“Jo Gi Chun? Where’s that guy at?”
“He is currently teaching children at an establishment known as ‘Theoretical Maths and Martial Arts School’.”
“‘Theoretical Maths and Martial Arts School’? What’s that?”
“It’s an academy located at the Shan Xi province. It was an academy created for rich clans, and is known to be the biggest of its kind.”
“Really? Then why am I hearing it for the first time?”
“It’s in the Shan Xi province, and it doesn’t have too much to do with martial arts, it seems. It is famous for academics, but not martial arts, so the main church didn’t pay attention to it.”
“I see. Then lets use that guy. He seems alright.”
“Should this one…… bring Jo Gi Chun here?”
“Yes. He seems alright. He’s retired too, so he probably doesn’t have too much to do right now, anyways, right? Yeah, it’d be perfect to use him.”
Gongson Chun Gi had a satisfied expression on his face.
“With his level, he should be able to see through the formation, right?”
“Rather than the formation itself, there are the strange equations one must solve, which is why we need him. He should be able to figure it out by himself.”
“I didn’t know this damned main church had so little talented individuals.”
The red man had a sorry look on his face when Gongson Chun Gi complained.
“By what time can this Jo Gi Chun arrive?”
“If this one goes himself, this one will be able to accomplish feat in a month.”
“Take a few guys just as insurance. And leave your other jobs to Sam Bi (三秘) before you leave.”
“This one will do that before this one leaves.”
“As you know, you have to do this as fast as possible. It’d be bad if this information gets leaked to the public. You know what I’m talking about, right?”
When the man in red set out, Gongson Chun Gi sighed once, and spoke.
“Yo, Gyum, what do you think?”
–Excuse me, but I do not understand what you are referring to…
“What do you think about me going through all this mess just for one martial arts technique?”
–Isn’t it something that’s worth that much?
“Worth my ass. Is martial arts anything special? There a difference between heaven and earth based on who trains in it.”
The man in the darkness.
The bishop Lim Hak Gyum, who was the leader of the the pope’s personal guards, Mara’s Heavenly Wind Division, made a bitter smile. This was a man who could be said to have the world’s strongest martial art. That’s why he was unable to say anything when the pope said he didn’t care about the martial art’s value.
“Phew, who am I to try to see more glory at this age. Just because of this one technique, I have to think about this and that, and move around everywhere. I’m tired as hell. I might really just faint from stress at this rate.”
–Why not pass on the task to the elders and return the the private chamber to take a rest?
Gongson Chun Gi trembled.
“You want me to pass on this dangerous task to those narrow-minded fools? They’re just gonna pour all kinds of insults from the back if I do that. Yeah, I’ll just think of myself as a volunteer doing this for free.”
Lim Hak Gyum laughed silently in his mind.
The pope did all he could for the church, even when he was complaining about this and that.
Even though he possessed a strength greater than anyone else, he never showed off, and instead lowered himself to other’s levels and talked to them with care. He was truly the role model for a pope.
“Moon Edge Blade, was it? Why do we need it for the church, anyways? Don’t we have plenty of techniques in the church already?”
–A dangerous thing such as that, if it goes in the hands of anyone else, I’m afraid they’ll simply use it to bully others. It is better if we kept it in our hands.
Gongson Chun Gi sighed. It wasn’t one of those playful sighs he threw around everywhere. It was a serious one.
“Of course I know that. But I don’t know why I just don’t feel like doing it.”
“Is it because I’m old now? I just keep on getting more and more paranoid. Feels like something big’s going to happen in the future.”
The pope spoke while massaging his own shoulder.
–Yes, your holiness, please speak.
“As you know, I really don’t like bothersome things.”
Gongson Chun Gi laughed as he said that.
He was annoying, bothersome, and he really hated things that required a lot of things to be done. In fact, he avoided it like a plague.
He even shortened techniques in the“Shura Sector” (修羅幻經), which had several hundreds of techniques, to ten techniques, just because it was too bothersome to learn all of them.
Thanks to that, the already powerful Shura Sector had its power multiplied by 4 times.
Lim Hak Gyum believed that if Gongson Chun Gi actually sought to be the strongest, and actually tried to do it, he would’ve been able to conquer all under the heavens. This man had that much talent.
“Damn it, if you actually look at it, once you become a pope, you don’t have to do these kind of things, right? I thought that was the case and took on the role of the pope from my teacher. But recently, I’m beginning to think that my teacher just swindled me into inheriting his role.”
–……Your follower is too dull-witted to be able to be of any help. I apologize.
“No, no, I wasn’t talking about that. I mean…”
Gongson Chun Gi stretched his neck a bit, thought a bit while doing so, then spoke.
“Anyways, there’s been a lot of things that’s on my mind recently. I wish to retire to the private chamber as fast as I can.”
–It shall be as you say.
* * *
At the meeting room of the school, multitudes of scholars were debating about something.
“There’s a student who is being suspected of cheating at the recent competition.”
“Jo Gi Chun, I’m sure you know who I am talking about.”
An elder with an air of dignity about him. He was Eu Hyun Guk (遊絃局), the teacher of ancient Chinese literature. He looked Jo Gi Chun, and spoke up. But Jo Gi Chun simply responded with a quizzical face.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you know already? The boy who took first place at the competition. That boy. When are you going to punish him?”
Jo Gi Chun.
He was a man who wouldn’t even twitch if a lighting struck a boulder right next to him. His face contorted in disgust when he heard that.
It was true that Cho Ryu Hyang taking first place took Jo Gi Chun by surprise. But there was no cheating involved in any of it. Jo Gi Chun knew this better than anyone else, so he was confused about why this matter had to come up, now of all times.
“What are you going to do about this problem, Jo Gi Chun? Are you preparing something for the child?”
Eu Hyun guk.
Jo Gi Chun was able to figure out why this scholar was acting this way. He understood why the man did it, too. For people who didn’t know mathematics as well as he, Cho Ryu Hyang’s feat might indeed seem like an impossible task.
“Please say something about this. Is is not your subject? This bothers me greatly.”
Discussing all this in public, it seemed the old scholar came with great resolve. Many of the students became very sensitive to cheating recently. When talking about such things, one must refrain from talking about it in the public. When he was about to speak, the calligraphy teacher, Jo Yu Chun (調柳川), wormed his way into the conversation.
“Thinking about it, it was indeed strange. You sure the fellow didn’t do something strange? If not that, the boy might’ve gotten ahold of the answer sheets.”
“That might indeed be possible.”
Eu Hyun Guk agreed with him wholeheartedly.
The problem they were discussing at the present had to do with Cho Ryu Hyang’s answer sheet.
No, it wasn’t the perfect score the boy got that was the problem. It was the time that was the real problem.
Everyone was given two hours time to work on the test.
Most people weren’t even able to solve all the problem within this time frame, but Cho Ryu Hyang was different. He solved over a hundred problems in less than an hour’s time.
This was only possible if someone actually went and memorized the answer sheet, at least in normal people’s eyes.
At first, when the test overseers saw Cho Ryu Hyang turning in the paper first, they thought the boy gave up. Jo Gi Chun’s face turned normal again after drinking a cup of tea.
“I see no problems regarding this matter.”
“Are you serious? Even the genius Nangong Yubin is unable to solve all those problems in one hour.”
Jo Gi Chun tilted his head in curiosity.
“What does he have to do with anything?”
“No, nothing. I was just setting an example. But think about it. Is it even possible to solve all these problems in just 1 hour?”
All the other scholars nodded there head in agreements, except for Jo Gi Chun.
Since everyone else was thinking like this, the man wasn’t even mad.
These men did not know. These men did not know how deep the subject of mathematics was.
The people here only got along with Jo Gi Chun because they had to work together, but in reality, they looked down on the subject of mathematics. Jo Gi Chun already knew about this.
The art that only lowly merchants learned. They believed mathematics to just be a play with numbers. This was how the rest of the world viewed math.
That’s why Jo Gi Chun believed that these scholars had such a reaction.
“If one has talent in this area, and focuses on it, this feat is indeed possible.”
“Hoho, then do you truly believe a 11 year old boy was able to solve all these problems in that short of a timeframe?”
Jo Gi Chun’s was being very assertive about it.
In fact, he, too, could accomplish this feat by himself.
He didn’t know about anyone else, but even now, when he retired from his job, he was able to solve problems of this caliber in an instant. Of course, this was only a result of countless days of hard work.
The fact that Cho Ryu Hyang was able to do this surprised Jo Gi Chun, too. But he did believe that the boy achieved this with his own skills. If the boy did work as hard as he, would there not be results to show for it?
But no one in the room seemed to think that way. They only thought that they were right, and no one listened to Jo Gi Chun’s own opinion.
“I refuse to believe it. I demand a retest for him.”
Jo Gi Chun couldn’t figure out why they had to go to such lengths for just this.
But he decided to think about it calmly, for now.
“There really is no need to do such a thing. The results won’t change.”
Even if they held another test, the result was going to be the same.
There really was no need to take a retest then, was there?
It was just a waste of time.
Jo Gi Chun really didn’t like to waste his time.
“It’s not just me. The students are unable to accept the results, either. Quite a bit of students came to me to talk about his. That’s why I am talking to you about this.”
Jo Gi Chun finally understood why there was so much pressure from the teachers.
If even the scholars deemed this feat impossible, wouldn’t students think that way as well?
The boy who seemed to have given up on the test got first place.
And he was the youngest child in the whole school, to boot!
It was a useless sense of inferiority.
Jo Gi Chun wasn’t the type of person to expend his energy to get emotional. It just wasn’t in his nature. Getting first place in the school in a certain subject brought many benefits. One could get a scholarship, and a private room for studying.
Was it because of that? Many of the students that first came here studied as if their life depended on it. They fought each other for the top spot, which had an immense effect on the school.
But after the appearance of Nangong Yubin, it all changed.
Since the boy took first place in every single subject in the school, other students started to feel inferior compared to him.
The scholars in charge of their own subjects became very worried. How could they escape from this predicament? They tried to mentor various students at first. It was to get someone else to take first place, instead of Nangong Yubin. But it all failed.
Nangong Yubin was a genius of all geniuses.
When the scholars were just about to give up, Cho Ryu Hyang just rolled in and took first place in math.
It was a strange thing. They thought Jo Gi Chun did something behind their backs. As the man liked to stay alone, the scholars misunderstood the man’s personality. Jo Gi Chun too realized how the scholars were looking at it. They weren’t doubting Cho Ryu Hyang, the student. No, they were doubting the teacher, Jo Gi Chun.
‘This place is no different from that place.’
He saw people like this in the imperial court, too.
Was it like this wherever people lived?
The scholars were using a fairly simple strategy on him, but he just went with it.
As long as he could study math, he was willing to let some things pass. This was one of those moments.
“You say you want a retest?”
“Indeed. All the teachers oversee the test, and you will make the questions on the spot, and have the boy solve it.”
Jo Gi Chun nodded.
Eu Hyun Guk, the man who addressed this problem. Jo Gi Chun was very well aware that this man did not like him. Because Jo Gi Chun was a person who was hard to get along with, and was antisocial in general, he sometimes treated others coldly. He didn’t realize it would all come back to him in a way like this, but what’s done is done.
“Fine, do what you want.”
“Are you fine with doing it tomorrow?”
It wasn’t a hard task.
And that’s how Cho Ryu Hyang’s retest was set.