Episode 11. Role Model for Success (1)

The news of the camp was obviously the visit of the foreigner mage. The soldiers were excited about this unusual event, as mages generally stayed inside and to themselves. The fact that the mage was also a foreigner added to their curiosity.

The foreigners already at the camp were likewise intrigued by the upcoming visit. After all, though they may not have exchanged words with the mage before, they had suffered through the same training at the same camp. They awaited the mage’s arrival, hoping to witness one of their kind return with great honors.

“Who knows? Maybe she’ll look after us because we’re from the same world.”

“I don’t know about that, but I hope there’s an opportunity to get on her good side.”

“That’s true. It’s not often that we get to meet with nobility here. Even being able to put a name to a face would be a huge benefit.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok sighed as he watched Kang Jeong-Tae and Park Soo-Hong talking excitedly. During their initial training, the foreigners had never spoken to each other once, let alone learn each other’s names. He didn’t understand why their expectations were so high now. If the mage woman was half as adjusted to this new world as they were, then none of their hopes would come true.

She was a foreigner who had reached her status through her innate abilities, a promising mage of the kingdom, and someone who could not be compared to riff raff like them, who had been cast away to the frontier. Kim Seon-Hyeok did not share these thoughts, however. He just quietly stood up to leave as he listened to them speak.

“Oh, are you leaving?”

“Yes, I still haven’t fully recovered.”

“Right. Why you were even out and about in that typhoon…  Anyways, go get some rest.”

His tone was nuanced, as though he had heard the rumors that the incident was caused by internal harassment. As Kim Seon-Hyeok said goodbye and was leaving, he heard Kang Jeong-Tae’s lowered voice in the distance.

“Tsk. I feel sorry for him. He wouldn’t have to suffer so much if he received a normal class like us. Just because he got a garbage class like that…”

“You said before it could be a hidden class or something. I like Seon-Hyeok hyung – he’s been working really hard since he heard that.”

The voices carried by the wind sounded as though they were coming from right beside him. His hearing was incomparable to before, but Kim Seon-Hyeok was not surprised by this development. He knew that it was one of the side effects of improving his attribute control.

“I only said that to comfort him. Didn’t you hear what the instructor said? It’s been over a thousand years since the last dragon was around. And even that account is just from an unreliable hero’s epic.”

“But maybe… he could express his abilities in a different way, not just by riding a dragon…”

“Stop, stop. Don’t say that in front of him. Those aren’t words of comfort – you’d just be kicking him while he’s down. There’s nothing worse than hanging onto an impossible hope.”

His improved hearing wasn’t always beneficial. His emotions became complicated as he heard these whispers around him whether or not he wanted to.

“Swordsmen can only use their skills while wielding a sword, and shieldbearers are only useful while using a shield. Then what about dragon riders? Don’t you think a dragon is required for them to do anything? Now that I think back to him asking us about this and that, it seems like he hasn’t even leveled up yet. I really pity him.”

On the surface, the words sounded considerate, but he could not completely mask his feelings of relative superiority and victory behind them. Park Soo-Hong probably noticed this as well, as he tried to hurriedly end the conversation and leave with an awkward expression.

Kim Seon-Hyeok looked back for a moment. He could see the backs of the foreigners who got up from their seats and dispersed.

What? Garbage? So you had said all those things while thinking that to yourself.

In any case, it wasn’t an isolated incident. It was true the infantry had been rooting for him lately, but most were still mocking his unfortunate situation. All sorts of negative monikers, such as “foreigner assigned a useless class”, “rider who can’t ride horses”, and “outcast of the 24th Regiment”, always followed him.

But so what?

Kim Seon-Hyeok, who had been staring at the place the foreigners had been sitting with a stiff expression, relaxed and smirked.

Kang Jeong-Tae had said that swordsmen could only use their skills while wielding a sword, and other classes were the same.

Those stereotypes were nothing more than the beliefs of the ignorant. Other foreigners probably thought the same as Kang Jeong-Tae. It was only he who knew that those beliefs were wrong.

He was in a situation without anyone to ask for advice and without a single role model for success, but Kim Seon-Hyeok was not dejected at all. The rewards provided at the end of his challenging road would be his, and his alone.

For that, he first needed to start with his attribute control.

Kim Seon-Hyeok resumed his training, eagerly anticipating the faces of the others on the day his true abilities as a dragon rider would be revealed to the world.

***

A week passed, and it was finally the day the regimental commander was scheduled to arrive. Normally, his return would be a quiet affair, but it was different because of the accompanying guest.

“Mages really are amazing.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was part of the welcome party that gathered at the entrance to the garrison.

Recently, it seemed as though he had hit a wall. His attribute control was stuck at 29 and refused to increase any further.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

-          Level. 3

-          Dragon Rider

-          Unique Attribute: Wind / Attribute Control 29

o   Wind Bite

-          Strength 21 / Stamina 20 / Agility 23

-          Possessed Skills

o   Dragon Taming

o   Dragon Riding

o   Charging

o   Novice Horsemanship

§  Novice Horsemanship + Charging = Clumsy Charging

o   Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (Low Tier)

o   Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (Lowest Tier)

o   Heavy Armor Proficiency (30kg)

o   Infantry Shield Proficiency (Lowest Tier)

o   Manual Labor / Civil Engineering (High Tier)

He had the feeling that a new world would open in front of him if he could take that next step forward, but for some reason, his attribute control would not increase. Even so, a lot had changed. His hearing had improved, and the wind attribute, which had once lingered in his hands only to eventually dissipate, now circled around him all the time.

As a result, his body felt lighter and more energetic, and injuries that would normally take months to recover from healed quickly. Now, he had no lingering problems aside from a broken arm.

It was thanks to this that he was able to take part in the welcoming ceremony.

Just like the other foreigners, he wanted to see this high-tier class as soon as possible. They all scrambled to be in front and waited for the mage to arrive. If they could, they would have made welcoming placards for her as well.

“They will be here soon!”

“Get in position!”

When a soldier waiting for the regimental commander outside the camp rushed in with these words, the infantry in front stood straight, spears tucked under their arms as if taking part in a military parade.

“To the regimental commander!”

At that moment, the regimental commander appeared alongside a heavy cavalry rider that had gone out to escort him. At Frederick’s shout, the soldiers stood tall and tensed their bodies.

“Salute!”

The infantry stabbed their spears diagonally upwards, and those in the rear beat their chests while shouting, “Forward!”

“You’ve worked hard. I’ll receive your report once we’re inside.”

With a plain expression, the regimental commander patted Frederick lightly on the shoulder and turned to enter the camp. At his side was the mage in a blue robe.

The woman, who looked plain but had sparking eyes, seemed completely different from the last time he saw her. There was no awkwardness as she received the welcoming ceremony from the countless soldiers, and if anything, she acted like it was natural.

“Wow, damn. High-tiers really are something else. Even getting a ceremony with the commander…”

Kim Seon-Hyeok nodded in agreement at the foreigner’s comment. To him, the mage seemed dignified and confident as she stood next to the regimental commander. Even Company Commander Frederick, notorious for looking down on the foreigners, managed his expression as though trying to win her favor.

He could not believe that she had been rolling around in the training camp with them not too long ago.

“Over here! Over here!”

The foreigners couldn’t raise their voices, but they nonetheless tapped their feet in an attempt to draw her attention. Perhaps sending their desperation, the mage looked towards them.

However, the gaze did not linger. She soon turned her head and followed after the regimental commander.”

“Disperse!”

After waiting for the regimental commander and the mage for hours, the group dispersed within a few minutes of their arrival.

“Ah, I’m sure she saw us. I even took off my helmet on purpose so that she could recognize me.”

The foreigner had shown off his dark hair in an attempt to distinguish himself from the natives, but the woman had not even given him a single look.

To Kim Seon-Hyeok, the situation was exactly as he expected. Nonetheless, he could not help but feel uneasy after briefly seeing the brilliance of her eyes. Their gazes met for only a brief moment, however, so he shook his head and headed towards the barracks.

*** 

“Is there a mage or summoner in this garrison by any chance?”

The regimental commander shook his head when the mage asked this just before entering the barracks.

“If there was, we couldn’t have asked you to come all the way to this remote place. Unfortunately, we don’t have such talented individuals in the 24th Regiment.”

The woman tilted her head. She seemed like she had something to say but kept her mouth closed.

“It might be lacking, considering we’re in such a remote place, but we prepared a ceremony to welcome you here. Please do not refuse, and join us so that we can help ease the fatigue of your travels.”

At Frederick’s words, the regimental commander stepped up to add a comment.

“Our company commander here is a capable man.”

“It wouldn’t be polite of me to refuse when you’ve gone out of your way to prepare.”

Frederick had an unusually pleasant expression upon hearing the woman agree without complaint. It wasn’t surprising – after all, she was a central figure in the kingdom, and he was looking up at a potential promotion to senior knight.

In addition, the foreigner woman, whose strange-sounding name was Lee Eun-Seo, was said to be a woman of great promise and had already become a senior member of the royal mages. She was a person who received special treatment from the royal family and full support from the kingdom’s mages, and therefore, she was a force that could not be ignored.

“Ah, and by any chance…”

Thinking this, Frederick cautiously made a suggestion.

“There are foreigners in the 24th Regiment who are from the same place as you. If you want, we could include them in the upcoming ceremony?”

It was a suggestion made in consideration of her past as a foreigner, but Lee Eun-Seo refused without a second thought.

“There’s no need. Even though we’re from the same place, they’re still complete strangers to me.”

“If you say so…”

Frederick was about to step back with an expression saying “it is what it is”, but Lee Eun-Seo made a sudden comment.

“By the way, if there’s a stranger whose arm is bandaged like this…”

“Ah, he’s one of the heavy cavalry. He’s still lacking, but I’m looking forward to how he improves in the future.”

It was quite a sight to see. This attitude was nothing like Frederick’s usual disparagement towards strangers.

“But why him… do you happen to know each other?”

When Frederick asked excitedly, hoping they had a preexisting relationship, Lee Eun-Seo shook her head.

“No. There’s just something bothering me.”

Frederick could not understand how that underachiever had this promising elite’s attention. However, regardless of what he was thinking, Lee Eun-Seo was deep in thought.

The energy she felt upon entering the camp was so weak that it would have gone undetected if she hadn’t been on alert, but it had clearly been magical in nature. When she focused on the source, she had seen a black-haired man with a bandaged arm.

Could he be a high-tier summoner or mage?

She knew that such an individual would not be in this remote location, but she asked just in case. After agonizing over her thoughts, she asked Frederick.

“Could you please invite him to the ceremony?”

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