Episode 2. Awakening

One day, Earth’s inhabitants were forcibly summoned to a foreign world without warning. While they were naturally bewildered by this sudden development, the inhabitants of the foreign world, as if expecting the situation, gathered them all together and herded them into a decrepit fortress. Kim Seon-Hyeok was one of these people from Earth.

“Welcome to the Kingdom of Adenburg, foreigners.”

An inhabitant of this new world who claimed to be an administrator of the kingdom explained that the current situation was the result of a phenomenon called “mass summoning” and that it had occurred several times in the past.

“Our kingdom will be happy to support you. However, you must first prove your worth.”

After maybe three days of being trapped in this dirty fortress, a person who claimed to be the king appeared with this declaration, and the foreigners, recognizing their inability to protect themselves, decided to rely on the kingdom for support.

In return, the kingdom proposed that each individual serve the royal family for a certain period of time. The duration of servitude would be reduced in accordance with the service provided.

“For you, who came into this world through the mass summoning, it will not be difficult to prove your ability. We will help you do so.”

And with that, they were suddenly enlisted into military service, without the time to even wonder how this mindless training would help them prove their worth. The new recruits wielded blades for the first time in their lives, rolled around in the mud, and worked their bodies to the limit.

“You might be cursing us now. You may not yet understand why we are putting you through this arduous training, but soon, you will be able to reap the glorious fruits of your efforts.”

At first, the recruits had to struggle without understanding what these words meant. But then, at some point, the instructor’s words became clear.

Paa!

One of the foreigners crawling around in the mud became swallowed by a strange light.

“Congratulations on your class change.”

At that moment, even the instructor, who had worked and screamed at the recruits like a demon, offered his congratulations with a satisfied expression. It was then that Kim Seon-Hyeok understood what it meant to escape this cursed fortress.

High. Middle. Low.

The instructor classified the man as middle-tier. Having thrown off the rag-like clothes he had worn until now, the man’s new clothes might not have been stylish, but was nonetheless flashier and absent of all traces of his former impoverished appearance. It was not only his clothes that changed.

According to rumors, the man was awarded the title of a minor noble and would be working for the kingdom from that moment on. His situation in this foreign world had completely changed.

Nobles were considered to be the pinnacle of this unfair world, and the fact that a fellow foreigner was able to rise to that position became a great motivation for his former peers.

The atmosphere around these foreigners, who reluctantly trained and endured daily, changed when the news that the man was awarded the title of a knight started to spread.

“Our kingdom is generous. Those who prove their worth will receive appropriate rewards.”

The instructors encouraged them, and the foreigners became increasingly engaged in their training.

“Are you a low-tier? In any case, congratulations on your awakening.”

“Congratulations on your awakening.”

“Oh! Congratulations. You are a middle-tier as well.”

As a result, countless foreigners experienced the phenomenon known as ‘awakening’ or ‘class change’ and left the fortress. Middle-tier and low-tier, the ranks might have differed, but all who went through it escaped the hellish fortress the same.

“What is your new class?”

“M, mage, sir.”

“Oh! Finally, it’s a high-tier! What great news for the kingdom!”

And like that, the woman who became a mage was the first to be classified as ‘high’ tier. She left the fortress receiving treatment incomparable to the middle- and low-tier people who preceded her.

Ah, if only I could awaken as a high-tier…

Given that they were stuck in this world, wouldn’t it be nice to rise to as high a position as possible and live an extravagant life without having to care for their needs? Excitement began to fill the people’s eyes.

Kim Seon-Hyeok was the same. He waited patiently for his time to come while watching his peers awaken one after another. And finally, that moment arrived.

Paa!

Experiencing an exuberance and satisfaction he had never felt before in his life, Kim Seon-Hyeok was unable to focus for a while from the ecstasy reminiscent of walking on clouds.

“What’s that. Isn’t this even crazier than the time that woman became a mage?”

“Isn’t this at least high-tier?”

Witnessing the light of awakening that was more brilliant than ever before, the foreigners began whispering among themselves. They looked on at Kim Seon-Hyeok with jealousy and envy, and the instructor likewise could not hide his feeling of anticipation.

“Congratulations on your awakening. What is your new class?”

Finally regaining consciousness, Kim Seon-Hyeok opened his status window and checked like all those who awakened before him.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

- Level. 1

- Dragon Rider

- Strength 17 / Stamina 16 / Agility 19

- Possessed Skills

o Dragon Taming

o Dragon Riding

o Charging

Kim Seon-Hyeok was encouraged after seeing that his new title was not merely a rider or knight, but a dragon rider. Just from the name, it was clearly an amazing class.

“D, dragon rider, sir!”

“Dragon rider? What’s that?”

The instructor’s expression became unreadable. It bothered him, but Kim Seon-Hyeok held onto his expectations. After all, those who had obtained a unique-sounding class before him had all left the fortress being classified as high-tier.

“Just like it says, I believe it means someone who rides dragons?”

The foreigners outwardly showed their envy upon hearing his explanation. To Kim Seon-Hyeok, it certainly felt like he had hit the jackpot. However, the instructor’s expression remained inscrutable.

“Dragons? You can ride dragons?”

“Yes…”

At this point, Kim Seon-Hyeok, who had been filled with joy, also recognized that something was strange. The instructor wore a complicated expression. The emotion that the instructor conveyed the most was…

“Ugh. I thought it would be another high-tier after all this time…”

It was disappointment.

“Isn’t this good?”

At Kim Seon-Hyeok’s dazed response, the instructor replied.

“It probably would have been. That is, if there were dragons in this world.”

It came as a shock. There was magic, there were spirits, and there were monsters. There just weren’t any dragons.

“Why!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok, who had been full of expectations, cried out.

“How would I know? They never existed. How can you ride something that doesn’t exist?”

The faces of the foreigners, previously filled with jealousy and envy, began showing signs of relief. And soon, it became outright ridicule.

“He said he’s a dragon rider, hah.”

“But there are no dragons.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok could not hear the mocking voices around him. All that could be heard was the instructor’s voice.

“Sometimes, there are classes that sound amazing but lack substance. That’s unfortunately the case with you.”

Word after word from the instructor dug deeper into him.

“Dragon rider, dragon rider. In that case, I guess you should be classified as a rider. If only you were a knight – you would’ve been judged as middle-tier. Tsk.”

“T, then?”

At his trembling question, the instructor firmly replied.

“Low-tier!”

“Why! Why! How can there be fairies and all sorts of creatures but not dragons!”

“Why are you complaining to me!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok cried out in resentment, but was only rebuffed by the instructor.

“In any case, you’re exempted from training from now on. Wait for further instructions.”

***

Class tiers were divided by the presence or absence of usable skills. However, this did not mean that low-tiers did not possess any skills. It simply meant that those abilities were skills that the average individual could obtain through hard work.

Unsurprisingly, these low-tier individuals received much poorer treatment compared to those who became at least middle-tier. They received no titles or special benefits. Their only comfort came in knowing that they were treated better than ordinary soldiers. Low-tier classes were neither treated highly nor neglected, and they were in an ambiguous position where they could feel neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction.

The shoddy cart given to the low-tiers for the journey to their new posts was one of these ambiguous considerations shown by the kingdom.

“Ugh. My ass hurts.”

“They say we’ll be traveling for three weeks, so it’s nice that we at least have this. Let’s stay positive.”

Others nodded upon hearing the bold-faced man say it was fortunate to have even received the crude cart.

Sitting side by side on the narrow cart, it was impossible to avoid each other’s eyes even if they tried. One person opened his mouth to say hello.

“Ah, it’s nice to meet you. I saw you all every day at the training fortress, but this is the first time talking to each other like this.”

Upon hearing those words, the others also realized that this was their first time having a proper conversation.

“Ugh. We were too busy passing out after training.”

For modern-day people who had become accustomed to the benefits of civilization, the training they endured had been too intense. Too busy fending for themselves, they could not worry about their surroundings, and the instructors had not emphasized the importance of comradeship or bonds between peers.

“What’s your name? My name is Kang Jeong-Tae, I’m 28 years old, and I was an office worker before coming here. I was awakened as a swordsman.”

Kang Jeong-Tae, who said that it was a relief to finally be able to talk to one another, led the conversation.

“You’re older than me. I took a leave of absence from school and was working part-time when I was suddenly dragged here. I’m an archer, and I’m 25.”

“Ah, my name is Park Soo-Hong, I was a student, and now I’m a shieldbearer. I’m 21, so it seems like I’m the youngest here.”

In their excitement, they began to recall and tell stories about their former lives.

“My mom’s probably looking for me…”

But even this excitement did not last long. The pain they had forgotten because of the grueling training made them close their mouths.

Why had they come to this place? Was there a way to return? Unanswered questions came and went in the silence.

“For now, let’s stick together and try to hang in there. We can find a solution later.”

Kang Jeong-Tae, the optimistic man who first started the conversation, tried to lift the atmosphere. The others, not wanting to stay dejected pondering a problem they did not have an answer to, followed suit.

“How about you?”

This time, the question was directed towards Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“Ah, my name is Kim Seon-Hyeok. I’m 24 years old, and I was in the middle of my last leave of absence for my military service…”

At those words, the others became silent. When they resumed talking after a long silence, their faces were full of compassion.

“Aigoo, how unlucky. Having to struggle through military service and then going through this here…”

“I feel sorry…”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s face became distorted. He cursed his bad luck as the others pitied his situation.

“Ugh, well don’t give up. So what is your new class?”

Because they had been divided and grouped together depending on their class, it was naturally the topic of greatest interest. At their question, Kim Seon-Hyeok reluctantly responded with a burdensome expression.

“Dragon Rider.”

“Ah…”

Everyone in the fortress had heard about his situation. His awakening had seemed that special and impactful.

“That dragon rider was you, Seon-Hyeok…”

“Don’t give up. All of us here are low-tier anyways, so who cares whether you’re a dragon rider or a Yonggari.”[1]

Contrary to his concerns, Kim Seon-Hyeok was not ridiculed like he was at the fortress. After all, everyone here was classified as low-tier, so there was no reason for them to laugh at each other’s misfortune.

“Who knows? Maybe you have a hidden power.”

As expected, Kang Jeong-Tae overflowed with optimism. Even now, he came up with a positive comment.

“That’s true. I hope so.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok smiled. As they said, misery loves company, and he became more relaxed among others in the same situation.

“Maybe it’s a hidden class? You know?”

“It’s just like a game.”

“Exactly! There are statuses, skills, and classes…!”

Although they could not create new characters or enjoy the benefits of resurrection, their situation was oddly similar to a game. From what they heard, it was this unique ability that led the kingdom to treat foreigners differently.

“Well, it’s a world with magic and spirits, so having game-like abilities isn’t weird at all.”

“That’s right! There’s everything here.”

“Just no dragons…”

At Kim Seon-Hyeok’s words, the others coughed embarrassedly.


1. Godzilla-like creature, sounds similar to “dragon rider”

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