Episode 15. Growth (2)

The heavy cavalry was a kingdom’s best weapon, but it was also one that could not be used recklessly. They were as difficult to utilize as they were powerfully destructive, and most commanders preferred to only use these expensive troops in favorable battles to maximize the margin of victory. As a result, they were dispatched far less often than the other military branches.

Kim Seon-Hyeok was a huge beneficiary of this tendency. Death could come to anyone on the battlefield, and his chances of survival would naturally increase the more he was able to develop his strength beforehand.

In this regard, Kim Seon-Hyeok received plenty of time to train and grow by himself.

- Through your hard work, you have finally succeeded in breaking through your limits.

- You have succeeded in developing your skills through repetitive training.

- Novice Horsemanship has improved to Intermediate Horsemanship

- This skill can be improved and developed through continued use.

- This increase has somewhat lifted the restrictions on movements while on horseback. Proficiency in charging and moving on horseback has increased.

- You have generated a new skill.

- While on horseback, Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (low tier) (wind) will automatically become Standard Kingdom Cavalry Spearmanship (low tier) (wind).

- While on horseback, Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (lowest tier) (wind) will automatically become Standard Kingdom Cavalry Swordsmanship (lowest tier) (wind).

- While on horseback, Heavy Armor Proficiency (30kg) will automatically become Heavy Cavalry Armor Proficiency (65kg).

- Upon dismounting, transformed skills will automatically revert to their original form.

- These skills can be improved and developed through continued use.

After being recognized by Stella, Kim Seon-Hyeok focused heavily on his horsemanship training. As a result, his novice level horsemanship rose to intermediate status, and his spearmanship and swordsmanship skills became usable while riding.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

- Level. 3

- Dragon Rider

- Unique Attribute: Wind / Attribute Control 50

o Wind Bite

- Strength 21 / Stamina 20 / Agility 23 / Magic Resistance 27

- Possessed Skills

o Dragon Taming

o Dragon Riding

o Charging (Wind)

o Attribute Weapons Mastery (Low Tier)

o Intermediate Horsemanship

§ Intermediate Horsemanship + Charging = Sharp Charging (Wind)

o Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (Low Tier) (Wind)

o Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (Lowest Tier) (Wind)

o Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (Low Tier) (Wind) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Spearmanship (Low Tier) (Wind)

o Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (Lowest Tier) (Wind) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Swordsmanship (Lowest Tier) (Wind)

o Heavy Armor Proficiency (30kg) ←→ Heavy Cavalry Armor Proficiency (65kg)

o Infantry Shield Proficiency (Lowest Tier)

o Manual Labor / Civil Engineering (High Tier)

The empty status window from when he first became a dragon rider was nowhere to be seen. It was a remarkable development.

“You finally seem like an actual rider.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok clenched his fists in victory upon seeing Clark nod and offer his short observations. He finally felt as though he was no longer deadweight.

However, this was all an illusion.

“Speed up! At this rate, you couldn’t plow through a group of grandmas, let alone enemy infantry!”

His first time participating in the heavy cavalry assault training showed that he had been blissfully ignorant.

His field of view, already narrow because of his helmet, was further restricted by the dust kicked up by the horses’ hooves. It was difficult to charge in line with the other riders in that state.

“You son of a bitch! Keep your eyes open! We’re all screwed if you mess it up!”

“Move! Keep a proper distance!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was repeatedly reprimanded and could not focus.

“Stick close together!”

In the chaos, all Kim Seon-Hyeok could see was the back of the rider in front of him, and he was distracted by the sound of hooves all around him.

“Split!”

The riders in front split away. It was likely that they had hit the training dummy and were opening the path for the following riders. However, this change was too sudden.

“Heok!”

His restricted field of view suddenly opened up once the rider in front broke away, and Kim Seon-Hyeok was immediately face to face with the training dummy. He was barely able to avoid crashing into the dummy, let alone hit it with his spear.

“Hansen, you bastard. Are you charging like a girl now just because you were kicked in the balls? Do it properly!”

“Riders in front, focus. Don’t lose your touch.”

“Bringing shame on the kingdom’s renowned heavy cavalry. Shame.”

The training grounds were in shambles after a single charge. The riders were unsatisfied and blamed one another.

“Again! Focus and do it properly this time!”

They repeated this exercise over and over again. However, Kim Seon-Hyeok did not succeed in hitting the target once.

“Heok, heok.”

The training of the heavy cavalry was so overwhelming that it could not be overcome with his abilities or stats, and Kim Seon-Hyeok grew exhausted.

“You have a long way to go, kid.”

“Even the light cavalry could do that much.”

“It’s a waste of words. A waste.”

His head was ringing because the other riders smacked his head while passing by, possibly as their means of encouragement. Kim Seon-Hyeok just flopped down on the horse and waved his hands in response.

“Are you tired?”

He raised his head slightly at Clark’s question, and then immediately buried it into the horse’s neck. It was his way of saying he was too tired to even respond.

“Generally, the commanders only expect a single successful charge from us. If we’re able to break the enemy lines, then we successfully fulfilled our role in battle. But you know what?”

Clark lifted up the collapsed training dummy.

“What if the enemy lines hold after the first charge?”

Clark’s spear hit the training dummy again.

“We charge until they break. They generally won’t work valuable soldiers like us that hard, but sometimes, there will be a commander who blindly pursues his objective, and we could end up charging until our horses collapse in exhaustion.”

Clark once again jumped on his horse.

“Endure, kid. If you can’t, you’ll be left abandoned on the battlefield and become prey for the enemy infantry. Heavy cavalry is valued in all armies, not just ours. If you fall off your horse because you’re exhausted, enemies will be scrambling over each other to kill you.”

Clark once again assumed a charging stance, as if telling him to follow. Kim Seon-Hyeok used the last ounce of his energy and prepared to charge.

***

Isn’t this guy a monster?

Clark had never been so surprised by the abilities of a foreigner. The novice was berating himself for being unable to hit the target, but he was holding his own in the heavy cavalry unit of the 24th Regiment, a veteran group considered second to none in the kingdom.

The riders pressured the new recruit with the intention of breaking him down. Their way of welcoming him had been so rough that even a high-ranking light cavalry rider couldn’t have endured it. And yet, this foreigner did. Not only that, he didn’t fall behind, even though the others held a much tighter formation than usual. He didn’t even fall off his horse after a collision.

It was something that couldn’t be expected from the average cavalryman. In fact, the other riders, not wanting to lose face in front of this newcomer who was holding his own, also trained twice as hard as usual. It was quite a sight to see – the riders staggering in exhaustion after trying to bluff the foreigner into submission.

Those idiots. They’ll probably collapse before they get back to the barracks.

Clark looked back towards Kim Seon-Hyeok with a bitter smile. The face that normally frustrated him made him feel grateful today. If it wasn’t for Clark’s helmet, the foreigner would have seen his admiration.

“Ah. I can’t go on. I’d rather die.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok felt the pressure of Clark’s gaze from atop his horse and finally gave up. However, Clark and his horse were also at their limit. He had only endured for so long because it was his duty as captain.

“Kid. You have a long way to go until you’re a real rider.”

However, Clark could not help but bluff as well after seeing Kim Seon-Hyeok’s angry expression.

***

Kim Seon-Hyeok was in shock. He was confident he had skills equal to those of a high-tier class, but he had collapsed in exhaustion trying to complete the training of low-tier cavalrymen. In fact, it would’ve been strange if he wasn’t surprised.

Kim Seon-Hyeok was the only one unaware that the other riders were training unusually hard in an attempt to break down the new recruit. Even middle- and high-tier classes would have suffered if dealt the same fate.

The training grounds were in tatters, having been trampled repeatedly by dozens of riders. It was in a similar state as when Kim Seon-Hyeok had used Wind Bite during the typhoon. For Kim Seon-Hyeok, it wasn’t unreasonable to feel a sense of shame at his earlier arrogance.

With that said, Kim Seon-Hyeok did have an excuse. The tactics of the heavy cavalry, which charged in a dense formation, were not suited to his abilities. He was unable to show off his greatest strength, the power of attributes.

But what if he could use its full power? He was skeptical that his power would be more threatening than the charge of dozens of heavy cavalry riders.

Kim Seon-Hyeok was disappointed in himself, but ironically, these emotions allowed him to see the rider class in a new light.

“They’re disregarded as low-tier, but aren’t they pretty cool?”

He had previously considered his time as a rider as just a stepping stone towards his destiny as a dragon rider, but now, he appreciated the class for what it was. That’s how impressive the heavy cavalry charge had been, and how it had resonated with his masculinity.

Kim Seon-Hyeok was no longer a rider in name only. On that day, he was truly reborn as a rider.

***

Kim Seon-Hyeok became a completely different person after his first joint training. After previously failing to adjust to the cavalry unit, he had finally begun to actively participate in their daily routine. He made a conscious effort to try and learn from his fellow riders, and he even abandoned his individual training to join in for group exercises.

“You can always get a new spear, so don’t worry about losing or breaking it. You’ll fall off your horse if you stubbornly hold onto it for no reason.”

“If you keep practicing, you’ll get a sense of when the collision will occur. Let’s just say the body will react before the eyes can process what’s going on.”

“Don’t just focus on your spear. There’s a reason we equip our horses with such expensive gear – it’s more than enough to just ram into a random infantryman.”

The riders began to sweat as Kim Seon-Hyeok persistently asked them questions during each training session. It wasn’t hard to share their expertise, but his line of questioning became sharper as time passed. The veteran riders felt pressured, feeling as though the newcomer would catch up to them at this rate.

Thanks to this, the heavy cavalry training became more and more intense as the days passed.

Kim Seon-Hyeok truly suffered during this process. However, it was not without its benefits. His lack of experience, which could not be overcome by his abilities, quickly became a non-issue, and he was now comfortable being on horseback.

“That’s it for today.”

As always, training only ended around sunset. Even the veteran riders, after bluffing about how fine they felt throughout the day, were left speechless. It was indicative of the intense focus required to complete their current training.

“I’ll stay out here a bit longer.”

“This damn guy.”

The riders clicked their tongues while looking at Kim Seon-Hyeok, who seemed determined to undergo further training by himself despite being exhausted.

“Whew.”

Left alone, Kim Seon-Hyeok went into his stance. It was important for him to take part in the cavalry training, but he also could not afford to be negligent with his class training.

As a result of his diligence, he was now able to skillfully control the attribute while on horseback.

And today, he had started to get a feel for charging, a skill he had not been able to successfully execute.

“Charging.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s quiet words activated his charging ability. A light gathered at the tip of his spear, and wind began to swirl around the light. Once the light and wind combined to form a small whirlpool, he vigorously lunged forward with the spear.

Boom.

The fabric of the world split along the trajectory of the fast-moving spear, and a roar emanated from the void that it left behind.

- You have succeeded in combining two separate abilities as a result of your diligent training.

- The attribute’s power has been combined with Sharp Charging to create a new skill.

Though it did not reach the power of the biting wind amplified by the energy of the typhoon, Kim Seon-Hyeok was able to combine that ability with his charging skill.

“I did it!”

Filled with emotions, he clenched his fists, and a welcome message was heard in his head.

- You have leveled up.

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