༺ Group Assignment (2) ༻
What exactly was a group assignment?
A way to increase the cooperation skills of students and evaluate them… Would be the model response.
However, following the Pareto Principle which states that 20% at the top does 80% of the work, a group assignment was like a game of chicken that made the diligent ones suffer the most.
Because everyone was evaluated as a ‘group’, there were sometimes people that did not even know what the topic was, as well as those who did not follow through with their words.
There were times when humans became weaker by forging a group and this was a great example.
In other words, a group assignment depended greatly on the people involved and the outcomes were heavily influenced by the team atmosphere.
In that sense, you could say that our Group 3 was a blessed one.
I looked at the reliable team members who had gathered at the 2nd floor cafe inside the Academy.
Jaeger Hinzpeter – Grade 3 Knight. His physical abilities were relatively high up there. His decision-making skills weren’t bad and was also good at listening to what he was told to do.
There was nothing to complain about Alicia either. She was a prodigy at using swords and since she was proficient at moving her body, she should be able to follow with ease.
And our last member was Hua Ran.
As for Hua Ran, even though she was a bit grumpy at times, she was still a very diligent person inside. Seeing her concentrating on the lessons these days was another source of delight.
In any case, our members were very good.
For 4 years at the physical education college and 3 years at the Academy, the only people I have had in my group assignments were guys who no idea what the topic was, guys who wanted to join in without doing anything as well as those whose grandparents were passing away everyday.
My luck with groups was not very good in the last iteration either so I had to carry them the whole time because of how frustrating it was.
But now that I was with these guys, I could do anything! I must be a blessed child to have such diligent and highly capable buddies as my group members!
“Now everyone. How much do you know about spearmanship?”
“You’re very good at it, Mr. Korin!”
“I heard that guys with a spear are highly likely to be homosexual.”
“Jaeger you crazy bastard! What kind of ludicrous nonsense is that!”
Please don’t cross the line.
“…I want bread with honey and cream.”
Unlike Alicia and Jaeger who at least replied to my question, Hua Ran gave a completely different demand while slurping her frappuccino and pointing at another student’s dessert.
It seemed that I would have become the leader of this group no matter what.
“That’s okay. It’s natural for you to not know about it. Now, here is a book for the basic postures of spearmanship including Eight Trigram, Divine Spear and Pointing Spearmanship. It might be hard just with these diagrams, but first let’s go through the theory and I will show it to you at the training rooms.”
I became well and truly used to spearmanship.
Although I started using a spear because I thought it would be easier to use than a sword, I started scavenging through all sorts of books for a better chance at survival because unlike the game, I had to use my actual body to move the spear. Mr. Park went the easy way out as a mage though… Maybe I should have listened to my Math lessons back in high school.
“First is knowledge. Know the enemy and know yourself and you will never be in peril in a hundred battles. If you know about yourself and your enemy, you’re already increasing your chance to win.”
“Korin my buddy. You know it so shouldn’t it be okay for us to not know about it?”
“Shut your trap Mr. Jaeger Hinzpeter! As a group assignment leader for 7 years, I will not allow you to get marks without doing anything!!”
“Umm… Okay boss.”
“And Hua Ran…”
She was already reading the book. As expected of someone who always read a book whenever I saw her, it seemed that she was used to reading letters in a book.
“I already reserved a training room. We have 3 hours to go so… we will go full-on with theory first.”
“So it’s not that different from our usual schedule even though it’s a group assignment!” Alicia shouted.
Here, we had a veteran spear-wielding group leader,
A sword-using lady from a family renowned for swordsmanship,
A nun lady with the world’s best physical capabilities and a knight buddy who could do at least 1-person’s worth for everything.
These members… No matter how I saw it, I could not see ourselves failing this group assignment.
… That’s what I used to think, at least.
“What is wrong, friend.”
“We’ve been coming to the training rooms for 2 months now, yes?”
“The walls and the floor here, they were all supposed to be super dense shock absorbing materials, right?”
Super expensive on top of that.
“I didn’t know you could break them.”
“You learn new things everyday, I guess.”
The ground was crushed and shattered along with a sonic boom but even that was better off in comparison.
“Uh, ugh… uhh…”
Alicia muttered in fear while touching her cheeks that were slightly swollen up. She wasn’t even hit by anything – the wind caused by a fist strike had scraped past her cheek and yet this was that outcome.
Behind the back of the fallen Alicia was a clean hole on the outer walls of the training room. The scenery outside the building was on full display.
Rather than being broken, the wall had pretty much been disintegrated into atomic molecules.
“So this is magic.”
“No, this is not magic. She just… did a punch with a fist.”
The sudden commotion gathered a large crowd. At the end of their gazes was a girl wearing a funkish costume of a chained nun who was frozen stiff with the fist out in front of her.
Even though she still had a cold look on her face, I could tell that she was thinking, ‘oops’.
‘I think they got demolished into atoms or something.’
That would cost a fortune to repair.
Alicia and Hua Ran were swinging around a practice spear when Hua Ran accidentally dropped her spear and unknowingly hurled a fist with demonic aura embedded inside.
That overwhelming punch and the gust created by it was what caused this disaster.
“What is it… Jaeger.”
“If I say any gibberish about demons one more time in the future, please stop me even if you have to smack my head.”
“I will not let my friend commit suicide.”
“Now that’s a real friend.”
Obviously, we were then chased out of the destroyed training room.
On the noon of the next day, which was a Sunday, we all gathered at a church.
“Ehem. We will now have a moment of self-reflection. Please do not hesitate to share your personal opinions.”
The group members stayed silent for a long time. Jaeger was pursing his lips in dissatisfaction so Alicia was the first to carefully raise her hand up.
“Sorry… about what happened yesterday. I couldn’t really adjust my strength.”
“No. You did great, Alicia. Both your posture and your swings were good. Watching me train everyday must have been helpful.”
“Kuhum… That’s only because your moves with the spear are close to perfect. I was just copying what you did!”
“It’s thanks to you having good eyes. What about you, Jaeger?”
“Hmm… I’m not too sure yet. Not used to swinging a long weapon and… Spinning Heaven, was it? I still have no clue how you’re supposed to spin like that. I just can’t see the path.”
Spinning Heaven was the fanciest move with a lot of changes to the trajectory of the spear. If he could use that after seeing it a few times, I would have picked him up as the successor of the Six Ways of the Spear.
“You’re doing well. As long as you acquire the basics of Eight Trigrams, you’ll be able to move your mace in a more diverse manner.”
Alicia had good eyes to begin with so she was good at imitating skills but I actually wasn’t expecting Jaeger to do so well. This guy was quite good at everything that required a physical movement.
“Hua Ran. What about you?”
Hua Ran was next to us by the time I realized it with her usual nun clothes. What was different from usual was that she was carrying a large silver plate.
On top of her silver plate were several cups of red wine that were smaller than shot glasses and portions of white rice cake.
“Is this a communion?”
“The blood and flesh of the Saintess, apparently.”
Because the developers added a mix of religions from Earth, they had similar religious events like this. The problem, however, was that they merged several into one and created a horrifying hybrid.
“Are you volunteering?”
“Sunday services are mandatory.”
Inside the Merkarva Academy campus, there was a church for the faithful students to go to. It was closer to a large hall instead of a church but they could hold over a thousand students per service.
In truth, it was a bit awkward to call it a place for faithful students, because there was a mandatory worship service every Wednesday for 1 hour in this Academy. Although it wasn’t actually mandatory, it was pretty much the same because it gave out 1 unit of credit.
It was good though because they didn’t necessarily point out any students for dozing off or fidgeting around.
Anyway, apart from the Wednesday services, the Sunday one was optional.
“Hua Ran, you’re a probationary nun of the New Faith, right?”
“…Not that I wanted to become one.”
Right. The only reason she could move freely to some point was because of the seals casted by the New Faith as well as her status as a nun.
“I know you were forced into one, but you should still read the Scripture. The stories about the Saint and the Saintess have a lot of things that are worth learning from.”
I used to be an atheist on Earth but there were still many things to learn from the virtuous people at the root of all the religions.
Love thy neighbor.
Greed is the root of all evil.
Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you.
Admit what you do not know and learn. Then you’ll know them.
They were all lines worth following even if you didn’t necessarily believe in a religion. But it was also rare to find believers that followed these principles.
Unlike my perception of religion, it seemed that my team members in the height of their youth were feeling a sense of distance from it.
“I don’t believe in religions.”
“Mhmm~ The things that the fathers and the sisters say are a bit difficult for me to understand.”
“The Old Faith is strict and has a lot of fundamentalistic gibberish but the New Faith pretty much talks about one thing.”
“What is it?”
Although it was a bit embarrassing, I replied to Alicia’s question.
Her cheeks turned red as she blinked her eyes.
“Love yourself, love the person in front of you and love your neighbors. Love and love and love.”
“Oh… Y, you mean that?”
I really liked that sentence. In fact, it was something good which everyone would agree with.
“Some might say it’s embarrassing but everyone wants to love and wants to be loved. The Saintess of the New Faith really knows how to touch people’s hearts.”
“Mhmm…! I think it’s a great sentence! Love! Hmm…! Love! It’s very important!”
Hua Ran seemed to think otherwise, and turned her back to us with a pout on her face.
“Anyway… Sister Hua Ran? Do you have any conjectures about the reason we couldn’t do all the spear moves perfectly yesterday?”
I knew the reason myself but didn’t bother voicing it out loud. Instead of other people pinpointing her mistakes, it would be better for her personal growth for her to realize her own wrong-doings.
Even though she was a Unique Grade demi-human and a living Jiangshi, she was only 3 years old. She denied both herself and her original self, but if she could one day have an objective view of herself…
“You guys are too weak.”
“It’s because you’re all too weak. Everything breaks when I add a little bit of strength.”
What an amazing conclusion that she came to!
Since we couldn’t create more construction work for the training rooms, we asked if we could use the empty plot of land behind the laboratory which we had borrowed last time.
If not for the immediate acceptance and permission of Lady Josephine, it would have been impossible for us to even practice.
“Pushing the opponent’s weapon outward is the Outer Trap [Lan], pulling the spear inward to press down on the opponent’s weapon is the Inner Trap [Na] and stabbing from that position is the Stab [Zha]. This is the basic counterattack of the spear, Lan Na Zha.”
“The movement itself looks easy.”
“Actually, it’s quite hard,” Alicia replied to Jaeger’s remark. “Because you need a delicate power control and your waist movement is also important.”
“Alicia’s right. When you’re doing a Lan Zha or Na Zha, you need to make sure the shaft of your spear is always connected to your body.”
“It’s simple but hard to complete this set of movements together, is it? Quite profound.”
“A spear is the most common weapon after the sword. You need to learn how to presume the opponent’s goal by seeing their movement and if you don’t know about their skills, you’re bound to get the short end of the stick.”
Interpersonal fights were about reading each other’s intention and could only be improved through countless practices. Reading their movement, their reach and aiming for a counter-attack was more important than a blind attack.
“Let’s just do the basic movements a thousand times today. What about you Hua Ran?”
Hua Ran didn’t say much but ever since she destroyed the training room building, she started watching our practices from the side in an insincere and lethargic manner.
Alicia and Jaeger being scared of her might be something that contributed to her lethargy, but that was unavoidable because she would hurl a fist immediately after dropping her spear.
“Is this important?” asked Hua Ran.
“No matter how much you practice like this, the weak will stay weak and the strong will stay strong.”
Those were some disrespectful words but I understood where she was coming from. Hua Ran was saying that because she had been born as a powerhouse without even having to practice.
In the end, martial art was a set of techniques that were invented for the weak to fight against the strong. It might have appeared worthless to Hua Ran, who was born strong with an Unbreakable Vajra Body.
I suddenly remembered the question I asked a long time ago.
『Master. When are you going to teach me some killing moves and secret arts? How long would it take for me to kill those monsters if I continue learning basic stuff like this?』
That was something I used to think in the past. That was when I was still very immature.
Both Alicia and Jaeger seemed frightened by Hua Ran and could not come up with an objection. Naturally, the two of them turned to me, who was the leader of the group.
Huu… If I admitted Hua Ran’s words here, then this group assignment would be completely doomed and I could not let that happen.
“In a way, you’re not wrong, Hua Ran.”
“Mr. Korin?” Alicia interjected but ignoring her, I continued.
“But that’s something only the truly strong ones can say.”
‘Someone like you has no qualification to say that’ – Hua Ran immediately reacted to that subtle condescending phrase. Right – there was no way she would ignore a provocation like this since she was very confident in her power.
“Rather than someone like you who looks down on things like this as being insignificant, don’t you think I’m better suited to be called a strong person?”
“…Are you serious?”
She must be thinking that there was something wrong with my head, but this was what I had to do as the leader of the group. If I got pushed back here, then I would have no justification to stop Hua Ran from doing nothing in this assignment.
Rebellions had to be oppressed quickly. That was what I thoroughly experienced after being a group leader for 7 years.
“M, Mr. Korin!”
“Korin… I will not let you commit suicide!”
“You’re noisy. Shuddap!”
Picking up a practice spear, I pointed it at Hua Ran.
“Do you want to bet?”
“1 minute. I will try to force you down onto your knees in 1 minute. If I win, dinner will be on you tonight.”
There was no need to even bother thinking about who the stronger one was. In terms of physical abilities, she was probably about 8 times stronger than me with her restrictions intact.
Although I had gotten a bit stronger, the difference between Hua Ran and I was still enormous, and despite the restrictions her Vajra Body was still literally ‘unbreakable’.
“Okay. If I win… I don’t need anything. You will have a fracture.”
– You’ll need money for your hospital fee.
After she said that vicious sentence, Hua Ran and I stood at the center of the plot of land with Alicia and Jaeger watching us.
I contemplated through everything I knew.
Hua Ran had the Unbreakable Vajra Body. It was the best defensive specialty of ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱ that increased the defense in relation to the Aura Rank and the Aura Capacity.
You might think she would be useless once all her aura was depleted, but even with the restriction in place, Hua Ran’s Aura Rank was at Very High and her capacity was above 20,000.
In other words, it was nigh impossible for me to create a wound on Hua Ran’s body no matter what I did.
Her defense had never been broken until now so it was obvious what Hua Ran would now choose to do.
– Clomp clomp.
She started walking. After walking, she would grab on the opponent and fling them onto the ground.
It was an arrogant way of fighting that was only possible thanks to her overwhelmingly powerful defense.
I unhesitatingly aimed the spear at Hua Ran who was walking without forming any guard.
❰Ominous Snake: Secret Arts – Distorted March❱
“M, Mr. Korin?!”
I used one of my strongest skills from the get go. Alicia and Jaeger seemed surprised by that sudden attack but Hua Ran didn’t even attempt to dodge it.
While continuing to walk, she allowed the three consecutive stabs to land on her body. Although they did land on her body, her march was not hindered in the slightest and the tip of the practice spear was the one that was crushed instead.
The durability of the spear was a lot weaker than Hua Ran’s bare skin.
‘Stabs are not going to work.’
Retrieving the broken spear, I swung it with the force of my waist. The result was a terrifying swing of the spear which was a simple yet immensely powerful strike of the spear.
❰Second Style, Horizontal Sweep of a Tiger❱
A thunderous thud echoed as my spear struck Hua Ran’s head at a ridiculous speed.
Even though it was a practice spear, it was nonetheless a very powerful attack straight to her head. It was strong enough to kill people but the one that drew its last breath was in fact my spear.
After coming into contact with the Unbreakable Vajra Body, the spear ended up shattering to pieces.
Now, all I had was my bare hands;
Empty hands and naked fists.
Hua Ran reached her hand forward with an expression assuming her victory.
❰Eight Trigrams Footwork: Fleeting Body❱
Dodging her attack, my body twisted with a mysterious footwork and reappeared behind her body. It was a short moment but I must have disappeared for a split second in her eyes.
After realizing that I was behind her back, she threw a powerful fist. It was emanating a ridiculous amount of pressure and was absurdly fast but blind attacks were hard to hit and missed attacks were meaningless.
By slightly altering my steps, I dodged her attack again.
The clothing around my chest got ripped just from the pressure of her fist but I was still alright.
Hua Ran and I were in a super close distance with less than 30 centimeters between us. We were so close that she should be able to reach me just by extending her arms but she couldn’t.
Her punches and nails all barely grazed past my body. The mystifying set of steps did not allow Hua Ran to land a hit.
It wasn’t an amazing skill or anything – it was just one of the basic evasive skills of the Eight Trigrams that aimed at taking the opponent’s back. I was using that super basic movement to constantly dodge her attacks.
She seemed annoyed as if she had a fly flying around her ears. Soon, Hua Ran started adding aura into her fists.
It was coming.
If the Unbreakable Vajra Body was the strongest defense skill… Then Hua Ran’s demonic aura was the strongest attack. Her abundant supply of aura turned into pure violence.
The Unique Grade living jiangshi’s instinctive use of aura was the most destructive form of power ever seen.
“Dodge. If you don’t want to die.”
I would be crushed into smithereens even if it was to graze past me but…
“I’ll try to block it.”
Without any hesitation, I extended my hand forward. My legs were already rooted into the ground.
A fist that was as dark as charcoal flew towards me. I would have to sit in bed for at least a month if I received a direct hit from that. The best option was to dodge as Hua Ran said but…
❰Eight Trigrams: Fleeting Body Palm Strike❱
I blocked her attack. Blocking the straight and undisguised fist that was flying towards me was not an issue after I focused all my aura into my right arm. But…
Even though it was a perfect defense, the overwhelming destructiveness was still conveyed through the palm. The muscles around my arms ripped apart as blood splattered out from my skin.
As if she wasn’t expecting me to block her attack from the front like a fool, Hua Ran widened her eyes in surprise, but this wasn’t the end of my block.
Using the palm I used for the defense, I pulled Hua Ran’s fist towards me. For a moment, Hua Ran’s body leaned towards me as I then immediately replaced myself behind her back using the Eight Trigrams Footwork.
After reaching her defenseless back, I stepped on the joint behind her knee with my foot.
❰Eight Trigrams: Prevailing Chains❱
No matter how strong and tough she was, as a living organism, the structure of her joints were no different from a human’s.
One of her knees landed on the ground.
“Look. You’re on your knees now.”
It seemed that Hua Ran wasn’t content with the result of the battle. She was on her knees due to the structure of her joints which had nothing to do with strength – this must have been different from what she was thinking of.
But in the end, Hua Ran was on her knees whereas I was still standing.
Besides, the deal was whether I could make Hua Ran kneel in one minute or not.
“Do it again…”
Discontent with the outcome, Hua Ran asked for a rematch as if she was confident that she wouldn’t lose this time.
“Nope. Not gonna.”
“I won already so why should I bother fighting you again?”
I suppressed the rebellion of the team member while showing her an annoying face.
“…One more time.”
She seemed very upset. It was rare for her to show her emotions like this and in fact, this was my first time seeing it so that made me want to tease her even more.
When would I get another chance to tease Hua Ran?
“After this is paid content.”
“Please insert coins for another match.”
Hua Ran scavenged through her pocket and realized that she didn’t have a single coin on her before gritting her teeth.
Turning her head with a flick, she kicked off the ground. The ground crumbled from a single kick and a small crater appeared underneath where she was standing.
“W, where are you going?!”
Was she going to bring real money or something? I was blankly staring into where she disappeared and after a while, Hua Ran reappeared by landing with a thud.
In her hands was a heavy bag.
“One more time.”
– Clink clink clink!
The large number of silver and gold coins fell like a waterfall.
D, did she actually bring all this money just for one more attempt? Wasn’t this more than 100 gold coins at the very least?
“Wow… it’s my first time seeing so many gold coins.”
Jaeger and Alicia had their chins dropped while blankly gazing at the fallen coins.
Was Hua Ran always so competitive?
“Freshmen? What are you guys doing here?”
That was when a female student walked into the empty plot of land. She was someone I was acquainted with.
Marie’s best friend – Senior Isabelle walked towards us after spotting us on her way somewhere.
“What is all this…”
“I will give you all of this, so do it one more time with me.”
Senior Isabelle was astonished after hearing Hua Ran’s words for some reason. What was wrong with her?
“Nope. I’m not doing it.”
“You won’t be popular if you’re too clingy.”
Seeing the gold coins tempted me to have another go, but there was a need to protect my authority as a group leader here.
Besides, now that she knew the trick, she probably wouldn’t allow it a second time. Even if it wasn’t manly, I would rather be a winner than a loser!
“Just one more time…”
“Nope. I am not doing it again~”
Hua Ran glared at me in fury.
Her face was super scary but if I accepted this challenge here, I would get shit on, my authority as a group leader would plummet and the group assignment would be over. Accepting her challenge was out of the question.
“Money… One more time… Clingy?”
For some reason, Senior Isabelle was shivering while looking at me with eyes filled with trepidation. Seriously, what in the world was wrong with her?
Hua Ran did not hide her dissatisfaction but had no choice but to give up. What was she going to do when I was saying no?
That marked a successful stop to a group member’s short rebellion. Now, all I had to do was leisurely teach some spearmanship and prepare for the presentation.
However, something completely outside my expectation happened a few days later at the regular group assignment meeting. To think Hua Ran would do such a thing…
– I’m sick. Do it without me.
She sent me an excuse for her absence in the meeting and her ridiculous excuse made everyone flabbergasted.
Y, you? Sick? Even though you can munch on steel like it’s nothing?
We had an unexpected troll in our group assignment.
You should check out the illustrations on our discord server: discord.com/invite/JnWsEfAGKc
You can rate this series here.