Episode 21. Cavalry Catching Cavalry Catching Cavalry (1)

There was no time to feel pressured by the impending battle. When Kim Seon-Hyeok came to his senses, he was already charging on his horse, and as soon as he realized this, his entire body froze. It was as if his blood had been drained from his body, and he had no strength in his arms and legs.

“Get a hold of yourself!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok might have fallen from his horse were it not for the rough hand smacking the back of his helmet.

Belatedly coming to his senses, Kim Seon-Hyeok gritted his teeth and opened his bloodshot eyes from underneath his helmet.

Through the narrow slits in his visor, he could make out the enemies in front rapidly pivoting to their left as they left a cloud of dust in their wake. The faces of the enemies, who were lightly armored and had helmets that barely covered their noses unlike his heavily armored comrades, left a huge impression. Their eyes glistened with murderous intent and fighting spirit.

Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t breathe as their eyes met.

“…ft!! To the left!!”

The allied hand once again hit the back of his helmet. Kim Seon-Hyeok focused and quickly turned his horse. However, even as he did so, he made sure to keep his eyes trained on the enemy.

At that moment, he moved solely out of his extreme fear – the fear that he would lose his head if he lost sight of the enemy for even the briefest of moments. His heart felt as though it would burst.

Fortunately, his movements, ingrained through repeated training, were natural even in this situation.

Hoo, hoo.

The rough breaths coming from under his helmet became hotter, as if they had been set on fire. Kim Seon-Hyeok was losing his consciousness, and his vision became blurry.

Ah…

The sound of horses’ hooves and the shouts from the second row gradually faded away. At some point, nothing could be heard anymore.

All that he could feel was being shaken up and down as he rode his horse.

Did I have something to drink?

Kim Seon-Hyeok wondered while he was in a daze, but he could not remember anything.

No. Why am I even here?

His mind was blank, and he couldn’t think.

“……!”

At that moment, an object suddenly appeared next to him. When Kim Seon-Hyeok turned to look, a helmed man lifted his visor and shouted something. However, he couldn’t hear anything – it was like he was watching a cheap mime wordlessly move his mouth.

“……!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok found the man shouting while gesturing between the front and the allied forces to be quite ridiculous. He laughed without realizing it.

What are you saying? I can’t hear anything.

“……! ……!”

The man, whose expression was distorted, approached and banged his helmet. The heavy hits gave Kim Seon-Hyeok goosebumps, and it was as though he was being hit from within.

“… focus!”

And at that moment, the silence, which had felt like swimming in water, was ripped apart, and sound returned to the serene world.

“Get a hold of yourself!”

“C, Clark?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok could not focus, having just been jerked back to reality. He called out to Clark, but his voice heated up the inside of his helmet like a fiery demon. Unable to withstand the sudden heat, Kim Seon-Hyeok subconsciously raised his visor.

Whoosh.

The cold wind suddenly beat at his face and made him gasp. It was only then that Kim Seon-Hyeok remembered he was in the middle of a battlefield.

“You idiot! Lower your visor! We’re about to enter their firing range!”

At the urgent shout, Kim Seon-Hyeok remembered the existence of the Sastein cavalry and turned his head reflexively.

“Ah…”

When had they gotten so close to the enemy? At this distance, he could see not only the enemies with their shortbows, but even the slightest of their movements.

“Lower your visor and raise your shield! Lower your stance!”

At Clark’s command, he quickly raised the arm holding the shield.

“Once! Maybe twice! That’s all we need to endure!”

The shout sounded muffled as he had lowered his visor, but he clearly understood Clark’s instructions.

“Endure it! Endure it no matter what! If we get in range, they’ll have to put away their bows and fight in close quarters!”

Clark, after pounding on the foreigner’s head roughly with his gauntleted hand, lowered his posture and stared at the enemy. At that moment, the enemies’ bowstrings released with a “ping”.

“Shields up!”

A rain of arrows fell even before Clark finished his words.

Please. Please. Please.

Kim Seon-Hyeok hid behind his shield and prayed that he would be spared from the incoming rain of death.

Ting. Ting.

His shoulder tensed every time an arrow grazed his shield, as it felt like it was hitting him instead. He gripped his shield even tighter and held on.

Why isn’t it ending?!

Kim Seon-Hyeok waited and waited for this terrible trial to end. For an attack from a mere hundred riders, the rain of arrows was unimaginably threatening.

“Lower your shields! Kim Seon-Hyeok, increase your speed!”

When the hellish time finally ended, Clark barked out his command.

“Seon-Hyeok!”

“Yes!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok forcefully responded to Clark, whose voice was uniquely intelligible even in the chaos of battle.

“There are no more chances if this charge fails!”

“Ah, I know!”

If the battle dragged on, the heavy cavalry would become fatigued first. At that point, they would only become fodder for the Sastein demons, who would easily be able to stay out of range. The heavy armor and magical protections they had wouldn’t last forever against the attacks of the Sasteins, as they rode in circles around them and drowned them in arrows.

“If you know, then why are you so slow? What are we supposed to do when the vanguard is slacking!”

With a vicious shout, Kim Seon-Hyeok scowled and spurred his horse forward. He felt the wind blowing all over his body and directed it to the tip of his spear.

Whoosh.

The fierce wall of wind eventually broke down, and the energy at the tip of his spear gradually increased. At the same time, his horse became faster.

Not yet.

Noticing that their first attack was not particularly successful, the enemies had retreated a bit to maintain their firing range. Using his skill in this situation would be no different from stabbing the air, and he would be wasting the power of the attribute surrounding the entire cavalry.

At this moment, numbers were more important than strength. Kim Seon-Hyeok suppressed his impatient feelings and solely focused on continuing to increase his speed.

Rumble.

It felt as though his wrists would break and his shoulders would fall off.

The power of the wind attribute, gathered to its limit, raged about as if demanding for its release. Kim Seon-Hyeok continued to increase the energy, enduring a pain similar to having all of his blood vessels burst.

More! More! More!

Kim Seon-Hyeok silently shouted and chased after the Sasteins.

The Sastein cavalry showed clear signs of bewilderment. Heavy cavalry, by definition, sacrificed speed in return for a strong defense. It was shocking that such an enemy was not falling behind.

This was probably why they overextended themselves, turning their bodies around and pulling back their bowstrings in that position. They clearly intended to weaken their enemies’ spirit with this second volley and bring the battle back into their own pace.

However, this was a fatal mistake.

When he saw the Sastein cavalry turn around in their saddles like acrobats, Kim Seon-Hyeok shouted his command.

“Charge!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok took full advantage of the unique privilege given to the vanguard. At his single command, the heavy cavalry’s spirit increased and reached its peak. And at that moment, they began their ‘real’ charge.

It was crazy, but the reality was that the riders still had strength to spare.

Roar.

His ability cried out like a living beast in response to the riders’ spirit. The raging wind represented the wrath of ‘Wind Piercing’, and the fluttering noises its roar.

“Wind Piercing.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok extended his spear despite the excruciating pain in his wrist. At that very moment, the riders, who had seemed to have reached their top speed, became even faster.

Boom!

A tremendous shockwave, enough to instantly drown out the earth-shaking sounds of hooves and the riders’ shouts, shot forward towards the enemy.

Blood spurted and flesh flew. The Sastein riders’ bodies were broken and tossed about everywhere, along with the crushed heads of their horses.

“Huh?”

His adrenaline, brought on by fear and excitement, suddenly dissipated. The madness of the battlefield, which had dominated his body, likewise ceased to exist.

Kim Seon-Hyeok belatedly realized what he had done.

Broken bodies were strewn about everywhere. They decorated the red battlefield and ceased to move.

He could see the corpses with their wide-open eyes and hear the screams of those who had not been blessed with instant death.

“Ack!”

“Ugh. S, save me!”

However, those voices were drowned out by the sounds of horses’ hooves trampling the ground.

“Ah…”

Stella was rampaging about, stimulated by the scent of blood in the air, and Kim Seon-Hyeok was likewise out of his mind.

“Chase after them! Finish them off!”

Hearing that unidentified person’s shout, Kim Seon-Hyeok looked around at the remnants of the Sastein cavalry who had narrowly evaded the earlier explosion. His face paled at the sight of their injured and bloodied backs.

“I, I did this…”

He despaired at the shock of having murdered so many people, but something smacked the back of his head.

“We’ll take care of things from here!”

Clark, whose face was visible now that he had lifted his visor, seemed more concerned about Kim Seon-Hyeok than elated at the prospect of victory.

“Get back! You’ve done more than enough as a new recruit!”

“Hey! We would’ve died if it weren’t for you. You saved our regiment!”

Whack, whack!

He was repeatedly whacked by the riders passing by.

“Thank you! I’m proud of you!”

Their faces were full of battle spirit, but beyond that was a lingering fear of death. However, at this moment, they were relieved.

They were relieved that they were not the ones laying down on the battlefield. Even these rough men weren’t free from the fear of death, and they consoled Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“We’d be dead if we didn’t kill them! It was us or them!”

These were clichéd and oft-repeated words. However, hearing them made everything simpler for Kim Seon-Hyeok.

The weak die, and the strong survive.

That is the law of this world and the rule by which he needed to live.

The moment Kim Seon-Hyeok realized this, he stopped on the battlefield alone, unable to laugh or cry.

***

“We won!”

“We crushed those Sastein bastards!”

They had won. The Sastein cavalry, who were overtaken while they fled instead of fighting head-on, were annihilated.

It was a decisive victory that would be remembered as a key moment in the conflict between the Adenburg and Noctein Kingdoms.

Kim Seon-Hyeok was the hero of this victory, but he could not celebrate. He did not rejoice at the thought of instantly repaying his debt to the kingdom, but rather remembered the lives that had been ended by his actions.

Instead, he stared dumbly at the heavy cavalry who were shouting in victory. Sliding off of his horse, he bent over and retched.

“Bleh!”

He continued to vomit, but his insides continued to torment him.

[Companion. You are still too weak.]

The dragon’s voice rang in his confused head.

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