Episode 18. The Greatest Rider (1)

So much changed after returning from their training expedition. The riders no longer treated Kim Seon-Hyeok as an outsider – he was one of them.

“I know you consider it debt, but isn’t it basically just a government sponsorship? I don’t understand why you’re so adamantly avoiding it.”

Clark tilted his head in confusion when Kim Seon-Hyeok candidly revealed why he had been reluctant to reveal his power.

“Whether it’s sponsorship or debt, I don’t want it to increase. It’s perfect as it is.”

The kingdom’s patronage needed to be repaid with devotion, loyalty, and service. He didn’t know how long he’d be tied to this kingdom if he carelessly accepted their support.

“Well, if you feel that way.”

Clark didn’t understand, but he respected the foreigner’s decision. In addition, he went even further and offered a suggestion.

“You won’t be able to hide it forever though. You never know what could happen on a battlefield.”

“I understand.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok knew. He needed to contribute on the battlefield in order to repay his debt to the kingdom. However, the battlefield wasn’t a place where a novice like him could condescendingly hide his abilities. This dilemma gave him a headache.

“If you can’t hide it anyway, why not confide in someone who has the power to cover it up and ask for their help?”

Sharing secrets had the potential benefit of improving interpersonal relationships.

This was exactly the case now. Jonasson had been listening with a serious expression, and he treated Kim Seon-Hyeok’s dilemma as his own while offering his opinions.

“Who?”

“You know. The old man.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok listened on and quickly realized who this old man was.

“Frederick. I’m talking about Frederick. He’s incredibly career-focused. If he knew of your abilities, he’d be desperate to make the most of them. He’s in line to get a promotion as long as he’s able to find success in battle.”

Jonasson expanded on his thoughts.

“Don’t worry about having your powers revealed. If anything, he’d do everything he can to prevent that. After all, one false move, and he’d lose his secret weapon before he even gets to unleash it.”

It certainly made sense. If news spread that the dragon rider’s power was on a different level from that of an average low-tier class, someone from the royal family would be quick to visit.

It would be one thing to lose a weapon he had no idea about. It would be something else entirely for Frederick to be aware of Kim Seon-Hyeok’s power and have it taken away before he could use it.

“Let’s think about it a bit more. It’s not a problem that can be solved right away.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok felt weird listening to their conversation. It was unfamiliar to him to have the riders step up and try to resolve his problem like it was their own.

“Why are you looking at us like that? If we were being honest, having you around longer meant many more chances for us to shine in battle.”

“If it’s that ridiculous charging ability, then we can even make use of tactics we’ve been avoiding until now.”

“If there’s someone strong taking the lead, then it’s much easier for those of us in the rear.”

The rough riders clumsily expressed their thoughts, and each comment was blunt. However, they could not completely hide their newfound fondness for the newcomer, and noticing this, Kim Seon-Hyeok eventually forgot about his worries and laughed.

***

The training continued, and now, the riders were not as dumbfounded at the sight of Kim Seon-Hyeok’s formidable charging ability.

They knew better than anyone how to make the most of this powerful vanguard, and they quickly adjusted to this added strength.

“Ugh. It’s nice that both my horse and I are expending less energy this way, but I don’t feel the same satisfaction charging like this.”

When they followed Kim Seon-Hyeok, it felt as though the wind itself was opening a path in front of them. It was difficult to adapt to, but they weren’t unhappy. After all, maintaining charges while overcoming the wind pressing against them was a tremendously exhausting task.

With this, they quickly became stronger, and Kim Seon-Hyeok likewise improved.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

- Level. 4

- Dragon Rider

- Unique Attribute: Wind / Attribute Control 64

o Wind Bite

- Strength 23 / Stamina 22 / Agility 25 / Magic Resistance 33

- Possessed Skills

o Dragon Taming

o Dragon Riding

o Charging (Wind)

o Attribute Weapons Mastery (Low Tier)

o Advanced Horsemanship

§ Advanced Horsemanship + Charging = Complete Charging (Wind)

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

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

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

o Infantry Shield Proficiency (Mid Tier) ←→ Cavalry Shield Proficiency (Mid Tier)

o Manual Labor / Civil Engineering (High Tier)

His stats were beyond that of when he was first assigned to the 24th Regiment. Even more encouraging was that his power of the wind attribute, which had once only circled him and his weapon after repeated training, now surrounded the entire heavy cavalry unit.

The effects were still minimal, but as with the other dragon rider skills, he felt it would demonstrate its true, formidable power in time.

“Am I going to reach max level at this rate?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was surprised by his own development, achieved without having stepped into an actual battle. Then again, it was nothing to be disappointed about. If possible, he hoped that he could repay his debt to the kingdom without partaking in real combat.

However, he knew that was unlikely. Contributions in battle were required to write off their debts, and there didn’t seem to be any other way to distinguish himself.

“We’re heading out.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok had prepared for this moment, but his body stiffened upon hearing the command.

“Seon-Hyeok, you’re coming this time.”

Through their conversations recently, the riders came to realize how disconnected the average foreigner was from war in their world, but regardless, they didn’t offer any words of comfort. They seemed to consider battles an inevitability that needed to be overcome at least once in order to live in this world.

“We’ll receive orders with the exact date or situation of our dispatch later, but it shouldn’t be too soon. Until then, fully focus on your combat readiness.”

At Clark’s command, Kim Seon-Hyeok wordlessly began to take care of his equipment.

“What do we do now?”

It seemed as though the heavy cavalry was not the only unit to be dispatched this time around. Kang Jeong-Tae and Park Soo-Hong visited unexpectedly, their expressions pale with anxiety.

“I knew we’d have to go through this eventually, but I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“Hyung, I’m so scared. Our heavy infantry unit will be on the front lines.”

Park Soo-Hong was one of the youngest among the foreigners, and he looked like he was about to cry. It wasn’t too surprising. They had lived peaceful lives in the other world, so having to risk their lives on the battlefield was a terrifying prospect.

“You’re lucky. I heard riders generally guard the camp and don’t even join in most of the time.”

“That’s right. Riders are valuable, so they don’t send them in carelessly.”

Why were they attacking him? Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t respond to their criticisms and kept his mouth shut.

“Damn. Why did I have to come to this place!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok sighed at the sight of this anxious foreigner, who had once boasted about his plans to advance to a middle-tier class and live in luxury.

“How about the others?”

“Isn’t it obvious? They’re all depressed. Wouldn’t you be scared too? 30% of the infantry die every time we’re sent out into battle.”

The two were in no condition to have a normal conversation. Kim Seon-Hyeok rose to leave.

“Where are you going?”

“I need to manage my gear and prepare my horse. It’s my first time, so preparations will take a while.”

As Kim Seon-Hyeok gave his excuse, Park Soo-Hong interjected with a question.

“Aren’t you scared, hyung? You could die out there.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok responded, looking at the face of the young man who covered his mouth after asking his question.

“Of course I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’d run away if I could.”

“Then should we really run away? If we hide and live somewhere…”

Park Soo-Hong seemed to be out of his mind and unaware of what he was saying. Kang Jeong-Tae, shocked by his words, looked around and then shouted.

“You son of a bitch! Don’t you know that desertion is punishable by death?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok tried to get Kang Jeong-Tae, whose face was pale upon hearing Park Soo-Hong’s words, to relax.

“There’s nobody nearby. Don’t worry.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok knew ahead of time that there was nobody listening in on them, having used the power granted by the attributes.

“Go back and get ready. It’ll be much more productive than crying over our situation like this.”

Park Soo-Hong and Kang Jeong-Tae looked at him with wide eyes, as though they had expected words of consolation.

“What did you expect? Did you think that you could kill time as we could in the other world, get promoted, and live a comfortable life? Get a grip. This damn kingdom will make sure that our debts are repaid, even if they have to strangle us to do so.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok hadn’t experienced this himself, but that was how the nobility normally thought. It would be even more true in this barbaric world.

“So stop crying and go think about how to survive in this world. Nothing will change by talking about it here.”

Kang Jeong-Tae and Park Soo-Hong hurriedly left, faces red at being unexpectedly reprimanded.

“How could Seon-Hyeok say that to us…”

“That bastard. Just because he thinks he’ll be excused from the battle! Now that he’s treated like a rider…”

Kim Seon-Hyeok heard their complaints carried by the wind, but he didn’t care. He was exhausted at having to deal with them, even if it was for a moment.

“Sigh.”

With a sigh, he wandered about for a while before finally opening the door to the barracks.

Snore.

The riders, used to the battlefield already, were sleeping without a care in the world. Finding this rather annoying, Kim Seon-Hyeok walked around and found Jonasson sitting on his bed.

“It can’t be. You’re not going to ask something crude, saying that this might be the last time…?”

“Since you’re able to say nonsense like that, it doesn’t seem like you’re as terrified as the other foreigners. Then again, you’re different.”

“Ah. Were you listening?”

“No, I just happened to overhear a bit when I passed by. Don’t worry. Desertion is punishable by death, but I’ll pretend I didn’t hear anything considering they’re your colleagues.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok realized how difficult the riders’ lives had been upon hearing those harsh words said without a second thought.

“The captain is over at the company commander’s barracks now because of you.”

“Because of me?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok shook his head, ready to say that he didn’t need to be excused from this battle, but Jonasson had meant something else entirely.

“It seems like the captain’s determined to put you at the vanguard.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok thought he wouldn’t be given that responsibility until he had more experience, but it seemed he was wrong.

“I know what you’re thinking. We wanted to put you in the rear until you had some real experience too. But the situation’s changed.”

With a heavy expression, Jonasson looked around and lowered his voice.

“There are rumors that the other side is using some annoying forces this time.”

“Annoying forces?”

It wasn’t Jonasson who responded to the question.

“They aren’t just rumors. It’s the Sastein cavalry, infamous for slaughtering enemy cavalry. Those warmongers have been spotted at the border.”

Having just returned from his meeting, Clark looked at Kim Seon-Hyeok and continued.

“So we’ll need your strength.”

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