Episode 14. Growth (1)

The magic was out of control.

Lee Eun-Seo had intended for the magic to lift up and secure the fallen fence. However, it was ruined by the interference caused by the sudden burst of mysterious energy. She clenched her teeth upon seeing the magic running wild, not knowing where and how things had gone wrong.

“Oh! I don’t know what’s happening, but it’s amazing!”

The soldiers in the audience cheered when they saw the whirlpool of energy, unaware of the seriousness of the situation.

You idiots. You’re all going to die.

Her desire to show off the power of the royal mages had backfired. She had extended the range of the magic to its maximum, and as a result, it contained that much more magic energy. It was more than enough to sweep away the packed onlookers.

Her hands trembled in fear. She wasn’t afraid of getting a black mark on her otherwise spotless career or the ridicule of her jealous colleagues if she failed her magic. No, she was terrified by the potential loss of life caused by exposing the defenseless soldiers to the raging magic.

Lee Eun-Seo had far too little experience to remain calm in this situation, faced with a disaster of her own doing. She had been an ordinary person with an ordinary life before being transported to this world.

For her, the current ordeal felt too sudden and unfair. Nothing could help in this situation – not her determination to eventually stand tall on the battlefield, and not the pride of becoming the next head of the royal mages.

In that moment, she returned to her ordinary past and shrank back, terrified of the impending disaster. The magic she had desperately struggled to suppress was completely freed. Now, all that was left was the massacre of the watching soldiers.

Just then, a miracle happened.

The magic energy, which had spread out and roared as if to bare its fangs at any moment, suddenly gathered together and shot in a different direction.

Boom!

The magic was full of power even after breaking through the wooden barricade, and it exploded as it flew across the distant plains.

“Ah…”

Lee Eun-Seo breathed a sigh of relief and stumbled as she lost the strength in her legs. If the commander of the 24th Regiment had not approached to support her, she would have shown an unsightly display in front of the soldiers.

“T, the magic…”

“For the soldiers on the battlefield, mages are the final bastions and saviors to be trusted until the bitter end. If you show weakness here, it will lead to distrust of your kind in the future.”

The regimental commander was telling her to save her explanation for later. He gave Frederick a look, and the company commander tactfully handled the situation.

“The mage kindly demonstrated the power of her magic for us! That invincible power is the strength of our allies!”

The soldiers, who had been wondering why the wooden barricade had been repaired only to be destroyed once again, belatedly cheered.

***

“Wow! Long live the mage!”

“Long live Adenburg’s royal mages!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok could not smile while the others cheered. No matter what Company Commander Frederick said, he knew full well that the current situation was an unintended accident.

Then again, of course he knew. After all, he was the cause of this incident. It had been dizzying when the properly activating magic became entangled with his own energy and went out of control.

If left alone, hundreds of lives would have been lost. Kim Seon-Hyeok came to his senses and aimed the energy, just like when he used ‘Wind Bite’ during the typhoon. It was only possible because Lee Eun-Seo had released her control over the magic energy.

- You have gained experience in the face of life-threatening events. This realization has resulted in increased attribute control.

- Your attribute control has increased from 40 to 50.

- Special effects of existing attributes have slightly increased. You have gained a strong resistance to magic.

Kim Seon-Hyeok heard these messages as he plopped down in exhaustion and with a massive migraine.

“Damn it. Being a dragon rider is too stressful.”

He wasn’t just saying that. His face was pale, and he truly seemed tired of everything.

***

A few days later, Lee Eun-Seo finally repaired the wooden barricade. It seemed as though she was shocked by the incident, as she remained inside the barracks for the remainder of her stay at the camp. Kim Seon-Hyeok had worried that she would search for the cause of the magical explosion, but she just quietly left once her task was complete.

“Hell yeah!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok felt sorry for her, but more than that, he was relieved. He had the sense that they would meet again, but for now, he was just happy to hear that she had left.

“Crazy bastard.”

The riders twirled their fingers around their temples upon seeing him suddenly cheering, but he didn’t pay them any mind. He was only focused on finally testing out the new attribute effects, now that Lee Eun-Seo was gone.

Kim Seon-Hyeok immediately ran to the training grounds. The wooden barricade had been completely restored with magic, but there was still work to do for the soldiers. And so, the training ground was quiet.

There, Kim Seon-Hyeok grabbed a weapon and swung it at random. As a result of his training, the spear he held now moved naturally even without him paying special attention to his motions. However, he heard strange noises coming from the spear’s trajectory.

Grrrr.

At first listen, it sounded like somewhere between the groans of a shackled beast and the roars of an angry one.

Stab.

Just in case, he stabbed at the training dummy. To his surprise, the dummy, which had resisted his attacks before, was easily penetrated.

‘You are able to imbue weapons with the power of attributes. The cutting power of all blade-based weapons has increased slightly.’

He recalled the message from the previous day and smiled brightly.

“This is a slight increase?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was excited, having pierced the tough training dummy in a single strike, and began to swing his spear and sword like crazy.

Swish.

It really felt as though his motions were imbued with the power of the blowing wind, as he shone brightly while wielding these weapons. The price for this power was tremendous energy consumption. He was able to endure an entire day’s training easily, but a few brief movements just now left him exhausted.

“Heok, heok.”

Losing the strength in his legs, Kim Seon-Hyeok flopped down on the training ground. He couldn’t lift a finger, but he managed to smile.

“Were magic swordsmen high-tier?”

Magic swordsmen were able to surround their swords with special energies, and would obviously be treated as high-tier. Kim Seon-Hyeok felt as though those skills weren’t too different from his own ability to imbue weapons with attributes.

It was ridiculous to compare his own strength to a class he had never seen properly, but his abilities felt that sharp and threatening, even in their incomplete state.

“Tell them to step aside.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok staggered to his feet, picked up his spear, and aimed at the training dummy.

Bang!

The power he displayed today paled in comparison to the true power of ‘Wind Bite’ he showed during the typhoon, but even so, the dummy was disintegrated without a trace.

***

“Do your best, rookie!”

“If you succeed this time, I’ll never look down on you again!”

The atmosphere was loud as though the area had suddenly become a market, and Kim Seon-Hyeok grumbled upon seeing the dozens of eyes fixed on him.

“Ah, go away! Please! She’s getting agitated!”

As the people gathered, Stella’s breathing grew increasingly rough, as if the fierce war horse had already been tamed.

“But what should we do? She’s getting agitated, but the rider’s about to break his back soon.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t like the look of Hansen, who was snickering in satisfaction at his own joke. No, he didn’t like any of the riders.

Somehow, they had found out that he would be trying to ride Stella today and gathered to watch. Now, they were even betting money on the outcome. There were few who wished him success.

The 9x return if he succeeded indicated that most people were counting on him to fail. The widowmaker was simply that infamous, and the clumsiness of the new rider who couldn’t ride horses was widely known.

“Ah, I can’t focus.”

The others wouldn’t leave no matter how much he waved his hands, so Kim Seon-Hyeok gave up and stood in front of Stella. He glared at her and muttered.

“I am your master. I am your master.”

“He’s supposed to be taming the horse, not hypnotizing her.”

The riders mocked him, but Kim Seon-Hyeok only stared at Stella.

Compared to when they first met, the white war horse seemed much calmer. However, he had already fallen for this six times before.

He had been kicked at while trying to climb on in three separate instances. Twice, he was bitten in the forearm. And once, he was body slammed by the horse and almost died.

Given these experiences, Kim Seon-Hyeok remained cautious. He stared at Stella, hoping that his words would carry his will and reach her.

The defiance in her black eyes gradually faded. However, even when he continued for longer, the changes that occurred were minimal. Unlike other horses, Stella showed no signs of kneeling down or obeying.

Then again, this was why he picked her.

Didn’t he want a horse that would be rough to others but obey him? Kim Seon-Hyeok refused to give up and persistently continued to send his thoughts.

Neigh.

How long had it been? Stella moved first.

“Dodge!”

“R, run away!”

The riders panicked as Stella breathed out and raised her front legs in a violent gesture. Hansen and Jonasson, feeling some sense of responsibility for Kim Seon-Hyeok picking the widowmaker, rushed forward despite the danger. But then, they froze in place. Stella, who had raised her front legs, slowly turned her body and showed her back.

“It can’t be?”

They had never seen this before when other riders tried to tame Stella. The riders held their breath and gulped as they watched Kim Seon-Hyeok move slowly.

He gently placed the saddle on the white war horse, just as he had practiced for days on end. Stella tossed around, showing displeasure at the sensation of the unfamiliar saddle, but she didn’t go on a rampage like usual.

“Heok!”

At that moment, Kim Seon-Hyeok leapt onto the saddle.

The riders gasped with their mouths opened wide. Nobody had expected him to succeed, and even those who had bet on his success looked shocked.

“Why would someone nickname such a pretty beast ‘Widowmaker’?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s confidence soared as he sat on Stella in front of the cavalry.

“Your name is ‘Snow White’ from now on. Okay?”

Hearing Kim Seon-Hyeok’s words, one of the riders, belatedly coming to his senses, spoke out.

“What a shitty name…”

The new recruit might have the guts to tame and ride the stubborn horse, but he had zero naming sense.

“Yeah. It really sucks.”

“Really? Snow White? Why take away a perfectly fine name?”

“Wow. My face is burning in embarrassment.”

The riders offered him their congratulations with bitter expressions. Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t sense sincerity in their rough comments, but he chose to believe otherwise.

“Hell yeah! What a profit! Thanks, rookie!”

The atmosphere was heating up, and the rough riders were making a lot of noise when they heard a pained scream.

“That idiot Hansen got kicked by the horse!”

“Ouch. He got kicked there of all places!”

Aside from the fact that the rider had recklessly approached Kim Seon-Hyeok and had become the widowmaker’s last victim, it was a perfectly peaceful day.

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