Episode 19. The Greatest Rider (2)

“What? Sastein?”

“Where? Where!”

At the mention of the Sastein, the riders went on alert and all jumped up. Clark sighed at the immediate response.

“Well, you should know too, so listen up. And go wake up Hansen over there.”

Hansen was showing no signs of waking up, even in this situation. When a rider hit him, the oblivious man sat up with a loud cry.

“W, what the hell? Who…”

“Silence.”

Hansen was holding his nose and ready to go on a rampage, but Clark shut him up with a single word before slowly opening his mouth while looking around.

“Three enemy regiments have been spotted near Fort Mangsk. Intelligence reports suggest that those Sastein bastards are among them.”

“Those wannabe cavalry bastards!”

“Damn it!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok could not understand why the other riders were so aggravated by the Sastein cavalry.

“We, along with two light cavalry units from the 27th Regiment, have been ordered to support Mangsk just in case.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was relieved at the words ‘just in case’. If they were lucky, it might be enough to intimidate the enemy without resorting to confrontation.

Such provocations had been commonplace between North Korea and South Korea in the other world, so Kim Seon-Hyeok thought the same could be the case here.

However, this was not the Korean Demilitarized Zone, where he had completed his service. And unfortunately for him, the powers here were not hesitant to shed blood.

“Forget that I said ‘just in case’ just now. Even if the enemy’s intention is simply to demonstrate their power, our superiors have commanded us to wipe the Sasteins from the face of this world.”

Clark’s words were full of certainty.

“It’s been a while since the higher-ups made a good decision!”

“Oh! Are we finally getting a chance to face off against those damn Sastein bastards?”

With the exception of Kim Seon-Hyeok, the riders were excited about the news. It was evident that they had a deep grudge against the Sastein cavalry.

“There will be three regiments mobilized for this operation: the Mangsk 5th Regiment, the 27th Regiment, and our 24th Regiment. Our mission is to take care of the Sastein cavalry that the light cavalry drives our way.”

After explaining for a while, Clark turned back to Kim Seon-Hyeok. The foreigner gulped, burdened by the heavy look in his eyes.

“This will be cavalry versus cavalry, and casualties will be high regardless of who wins. However, our superiors will not care about how many of our troops are killed. They’re willing to accept any loss in life as long as the Sastein bastards are eliminated. That shows how many times we’ve suffered at the hands of their cavalry.”

Collisions between densely packed cavalry units were bound to cause significant damage to both sides, regardless of whether they won or lost. Without any room to maneuver or escape, any riders that fell off their horses after colliding would be trampled by the hooves of both allied and enemy horses. The only possible victory was a Pyrrhic victory.

No commander would carelessly send out their cavalry units, as they were expensive and took a long time to train. However, this was an exception.

“It’ll probably be terrible. It could be too harsh a battlefield for new recruits with no real experience.”

Clark commented with a heavy tone as he looked at Kim Seon-Hyeok, who was standing frozen in place.

“Even so, my hope is to entrust the vanguard to you. However, it’s ultimately your decision. The leading position isn’t one that can be forced on someone.”

Clark was probably overcome with shame at having to leave the vanguard, the position with the lowest chance of survival, to an inexperienced newcomer. He had an unbecoming look on his manly face.

Kim Seon-Hyeok stared at him for a while and gritted his teeth.

“Understood. I’ll take the lead.”

His face was full of anxiety and fear, but his eyes were shining brightly.

“Those Sastein bastards. That’s how significant an enemy they are to the kingdom.”

“T, that’s right. T, the damage they’ve caused to date is almost beyond imagination. They’ve taken down at least 10 cavalry regiments, and several times that in infantry.”

Surprised at Kim Seon-Hyeok’s unexpected reaction, Clark stammered a response.

“So if we can get rid of them, it would be considered a tremendous wartime service.”

“Ah…”

Clark, finally understanding Kim Seon-Hyeok’s thoughts, was amazed.

Turning a crisis into an opportunity.

This was a mindset befitting a real man of the cavalry.

“It’s not a bad idea to pay off all my debts in one go. If we can beat them, I don’t have to worry about hiding my abilities and involving the company commander either.”

It was obvious that this was just false bravado, but Clark accepted it because he was cognizant of the foreigner’s abilities.

“And from what I can tell, we’ll all be dead if I’m not the vanguard. If I’m going to die anyways, I might as well take this chance to be in the lead and show off.”

Clark and the other riders unknowingly smirked at the sight of Kim Seon-Hyeok faking his arrogance while his body looked stiff with tension.

“Whew.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s arms and legs shook even as he made his decision. He wanted to shut his mouth, unsure whether he was making the right decision, but he was able to comfort himself.

If he had to step foot on the battlefield, his chances of survival would be greatest if he put his faith in his abilities. At least then he wouldn’t get tangled among the ranks, fall off his horse, and suffer an inglorious death.

If there was a problem, it was that he was unsure whether he was ready to spill blood. It was the same for the other foreigners. Kill or be killed - it was a terrible situation for those who had only known a peaceful life.

For Kim Seon-Hyeok, the only thing he could believe in was the mental training he had received as an active soldier in the other world. Of course, it may not have been that effective in relieving his doubts and fears, but it had to be better than the other foreigners.

“What kind of people are the Sastein cavalry?”

His heart was heavy, but he was determined in his actions. After deciding to take the lead, Kim Seon-Hyeok was called in by Clark for further training.

“Sastein cavalry are neither light cavalry nor heavy cavalry, but rather a hybrid of the two. They ride specially trained war horses and prefer to harass the enemy from a distance.”

From what he could gather, the Sastein cavalry were monsters who combined the strengths of the Mongol cavalry archers and Western knights from the other world.

“But that doesn’t mean they avoid close combat either. If you underestimate them and recklessly charge in, they’ll stand their ground and destroy you.”

Normally, it was virtually impossible to boast both speed and strength. In this world, however, there were superhuman knights who defied such limitations.

“They were prospective knights who were expelled early because they had no chance to develop into that role, but they still have that innate talent of apprentice knights. That’s what’s scary about those Sastein bastards. I hate to say it, but their abilities are more than enough to overcome any numbers disadvantage they may have.”

Clark was saying that even if the light cavalry proved successful in driving the Sastein cavalry to them, it would be difficult to eliminate them in battle. Kim Seon-Hyeok suddenly asked.

“Then what about our cavalry?”

The Sasteins weren’t the only ones who possessed both power and speed. Instead of answering, he gave a reassuring look.

“I trust you.”

Watching Clark patting his shoulder. Kim Seon-Hyeok replied.

“I think we’re going to need some practice.”

***

No matter how much he thought about it, it was reckless for him to take the lead in battle given his lack of experience. However, Kim Seon-Hyeok continued to train diligently to overcome this.

“Will you really be okay?”

“Those arrows had their tips removed, so I won’t die even if I’m hit.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was adamant despite Jonasson’s reservations.

“Even without arrowheads, these arrows could punch a hole through something at that speed.”

“Stop worrying and shoot already.”

The riders, lightly dressed in armor, shook their heads at Kim Seon-Hyeok’s unshakable determination.

“I really don’t understand the foreigners’ training methods.”

The riders couldn’t understand the ‘practice’ that Kim Seon-Hyeok had proposed. However, the foreigner insisted, saying that it was crucial to know how effective his abilities would be before taking the lead against the enemy.

Specifically, Kim Seon-Hyeok wanted to experience firsthand the primary tactic of the Sastein cavalry, which was to fire off arrows before any close-quarters combat.

“There’s nothing worse than being unlucky and dying to a random arrow before I can even reach them.”

With those words, Kim Seon-Hyeok fell back. Jonasson and the other riders backed away in the other direction and waited for his signal.

“Now!”

As the signaling flag fell, the two sides charged fiercely at one another.

Wow. I’m shaking.

They were still far apart, but Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t help but gulp nervously at the ferocity of the approaching cavalry. However, he clenched his teeth and spurred his horse forward.

“We’re firing now!”

The warning was heard over the sound of the horses’ hooves, and at that moment, a volley of arrows whistled towards him.

“Wind Piercing.”

At his words, the skill was activated, and the wind blowing from all sides wrapped around him. The rain of arrows fell on the massive air current that he created.

Ting. Ting.

It was a piercing noise, but Kim Seon-Hyeok smiled broadly and puffed out his chest the moment he heard it.

“H, how does that make any sense?”

They had done their best to imitate the Sastein cavalry’s tactics, and yet, the arrows they unleashed were deflected before they could reach Kim Seon-Hyeok. It was as though they had hit an invisible wall.

“D, dodge!”

“T, that crazy bastard!”

The riders, watching with their mouths wide open at the incredible sight, belatedly realized that the foreigner’s formidable charge was still heading towards them. They scattered and were in complete chaos.

When Kim Seon-Hyeok’s signature charge was over and they all gathered together, not a single rider could open his mouth to speak.

“Wow. I didn’t know if it would be possible, but I did it. Again.”

The riders had a dumbfounded look on their faces as they watched the bold, condescending foreigner. However, they couldn’t refute the fact that he had succeeded in a remarkable challenge.

“Now that I know I can stop arrow fire, we should test the range of this protection next. Any volunteers?”

“Ugh.”

In the end, Jonasson and the riders had no choice but to follow this efficient, but terrifying, training.

Kim Seon-Hyeok continued like this for the next several days, and when these reckless experiments finally came to an end, he and the cavalry were more confident than ever before.

“We shouldn’t lose to those Sastein bastards in battle, right?”

Clark and the riders smirked at Kim Seon-Hyeok’s question.

“Those Sastein bastards won’t be a problem. We wouldn’t lose even if their daddies showed up to battle.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok smiled brightly.

***

The date of their departure approached quickly. The cavalry left the camp first, fearing that the enemy cavalry could raid the villages near the border.

“Be careful. I’m sorry about last time.”

“Me too. Hyung, I heard that you have to fight those Sastein monsters… take care of yourself.”

Rumors had already spread that the cavalry was given the most dangerous task for this expedition, and Kang Jeong-Tae and Park Soo-Hong came to apologize.

“I’ll see you at the border.”

With a short farewell from atop his horse, Kim Seon-Hyeok followed after his comrades. With that, he and the heavy cavalry of the 24th Regiment left their garrison.

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