Episode 6. Leveling Up (1)

His body, exhausted from riding his horse for a long time, suddenly overflowed with energy. Before he could even grasp the source of this energy, messages appeared one after another.

- You have leveled up.

- Your strength, stamina, and agility have each increased by 2.

- You have acquired a new skill as a result of your diligent training.

- You have generated the new skill, Horsemanship.

- Novice horsemanship has been added to your list of skills.

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

The other foreigners who had awakened as new classes had all leveled up regardless of tier. However, it was a phenomenon that Kim Seon-Hyeok, having become a dragon rider, had not experienced. Despite his constant efforts, he could not level up, and this took a toll on his mentality.

Leveling up after being resigned to the possibility that he never would, Kim Seon-Hyeok’s initial reaction was one of bewilderment. However, that sensation was soon replaced by one of elation. He checked his status window for the first time in a long while.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

- Level. 2

- Dragon Rider

- Strength 19 / Stamina 18 / Agility 21

- Unique Attribute: Wind

- Possessed Skills

o Dragon Taming

o Dragon Riding

o Charging

o Novice Horsemanship

o Novice Horsemanship + Charging = Clumsy Charging

All of his stats, including his strength, had increased by 2. In addition, the novice horsemanship category had appeared, and in addition, there was even a skill called ‘Clumsy Charging’.

“Ah…”

He was deeply moved. The dream of leveling up, which he had given up on, had once again become a reality. Kim Seon-Hyeok looked back on the countless thoughts that came and went in a short period of time, as well as the process that had led to the current phenomenon.

Leveling up was wonderful, but the process had taken far too long. This thought sobered his mood.

In the end, was hard work the answer?

It was evident that compared to other classes, progressing as a dragon rider required far more effort. In fact, the dragon’s uncertainty regarding their eventual meeting may have had to do with this fact.

But this was still something.

He had made contact with the dragon that he had previously given up on, and he had even leveled up. There was no reason to be depressed. Kim Seon-Hyeok belatedly smiled widely.

***

“Hey, is that guy crazy? Why is he suddenly smiling like that all by himself?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok had been muttering to himself for a while while riding, and now he was laughing bizarrely. To his peers, Kim Seon-Hyeok never gave the impression of being normal.

“But don’t you think his posture changed a bit just now? It’s still awkward, but his timing and rhythm while riding is better.”

Clark had always kept a close eye on Kim Seon-Hyeok, so he noticed the change quickly. Jonasson soon also realized the difference, and his eyes grew wide.

“Is it because he’s a foreigner? Why are the changes so sudden every time?”

It was not quite a compliment, but both men had the same feelings. It was that they could not grow accustomed to the inscrutable entity that was the foreigners.

But there was still something left to admire. Kim Seon-Hyeok suddenly picked up a training spear while on horseback and entered a charging stance, which he had not even been taught.

“It can’t be?”

The spear tucked under his arm and the lowered posture was indisputably charging.

“Hey, idiot! If you’re going to do it, then at least aim properly! You’re pointed in the wrong direction!”

“You need to watch the tip of your spear while charging! You won’t be able to hit anything like that!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s stance was correct, but his aim was off. If he kept going, he would completely miss the training dummies ahead. The two shouted at him, themselves not knowing whether they were cheering or scolding him.

“Hey, two steps! Just turn two steps!”

Even as he said those words, Clark understood better than anyone how difficult it was to turn while charging at full speed. Nonetheless, without realizing it, he lamented that the suddenly improved poor student of his would miss his target. There was no way the spear would hit its mark, so long as the dummy did not move to be hit of its own accord.

“Huh?”

At that moment, something unbelievable happened.

Whoosh.

The training dummy, which was two steps off to the side, suddenly tilted towards the tip of Kim Seon-Hyeok’s spear as though hit by a gust of wind.

Crash!

Upon colliding, there was a tremendous noise that could not have been caused by a simple charge. Clark, watching from a distance, could not help but take a step back from the impact.

The dust slowly cleared, and the training grounds came into full view.

The training dummy was intact. Clark thought he had seen the dummy throw itself towards the tip of the spear, but there were no signs of damage when the dust settled.

“What…? Was I imagining things…?”

He subconsciously rubbed his eyes, but in the end, there was no way the dummy could have moved of its own accord. He must have been seeing things.

“C, captain! The foreigner!”

Hearing Jonasson’s urgent voice, Clark turned to see Kim Seon-Hyeok laying spread-eagle on the ground. Normally, Kim Seon-Hyeok would bolt up after coughing a few times after being thrown off horseback, but for some reason, he did not show any signs of getting up.

“Damn it! Priest! Call for the priest!”

Clark, seeing Kim Seon-Hyeok’s blank eyes, shouted in horror.

***

“I thought I told you to take care of that foreigner.”

The furious Frederick sounded like a growling beast, befitting a person nicknamed the wild boar of the battlefield. Clark struggled to stand tall in front of his ferocity and explain the situation as calmly as possible.

“Then are you saying that this was not a simple training accident?”

Thankfully, Frederick seemed to soften a bit upon hearing Clark’s report.

“Yes, I believe so. Even more surprising was the power that Kim Seon-Hyeok showed during his charge. It seemed more powerful than an average novice knight’s charge.

Frederick once again showed an outright disgruntled look. He himself had become a knight and reached a superhuman level through hard work, and Clark’s words hurt his pride.

“I’m sure you are aware, but the gap between ordinary soldiers and knights is as large as the difference between humans and superhuman beings.”

Offended, Frederick’s sharp gaze shot out towards Clark as if to dissect him.

“Those novices you referenced may not have reached their potential, but they are nonetheless people who have stepped into the realm of knights. I cannot believe that the foreigner could have shown the power of a novice knight. Are you willing to stand by your words?”

Frederick seemed ready to rip Clark’s arms off if it turned out that he was dirtying the status of knights by exaggerating Kim Seon-Hyeok’s accomplishments. Clark gulped and hesitated, but did not take back his words.

“I can show you proof if you would like.”

“There’s no reason to not come and see for myself.”

Frederick got up defiantly and followed Clark towards the training grounds.

“It’s here.”

A look of surprise spread across Frederick’s face as he saw the gaping pit in the ground.

“If there had been an enemy here…”

He could envision firmly-held shields exploding and spears snapping like straws.

“It’s strange. How was a person like this classified as low-tier?”

“It’s not too crazy if you consider how he was when he first arrived. And also, I don’t think that he could demonstrate this same power on a battlefield even now.”

In fact, there was the possibility that his aim would be off in combat, endangering his fellow riders who were actually charging in the right direction. Also, if he could not control his own strength and fell off his horse, he would simply be fodder for enemy spearmen.

“So the problem now is figuring out how to use him.”

Frederick, deep in thought, spoke in a low voice.

“Don’t speak carelessly about this incident for the time being.”

At Frederick’s request, Clark opened and shut his mouth. He could still recall the image of the training dummy leaning over as if sucked in by the wind, but he did not say anything, thinking it was just an illusion. There was a long mark on the side of the dummy’s head as if something had glanced by, but even this was dismissed without further thought. The scene replaying in his mind was just that unrealistic.

“Go. And let me know when the foreigner wakes up.”

“Yes, I understand.”

Clark, after looking back multiple times with complicated emotions, finally left.

Clark, that bastard. Frederick thought his earlier words had arrogantly discounted novice riders, but in reality, they were an understatement. Left alone, he once again assessed the power of the charge that left a long pit on the ground as though something massive had grazed by.

This was at least the charge of an ordained knight.

Frederick laughed. The deadweight he thought he had to look after might actually be worth something.

***

“That accident happened because you tried to run before you could even walk.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was reprimanded when he finally woke up. He could not say anything back. After all, he had fallen in his excitement over having leveled up.

“For the time being, just focus on doing what you are told. Don’t try anything.”

Clark warned him several times, and Kim Seon-Hyeok responded that he would. However, it did not look as though he was paying attention, and he was just staring at his hands.

What was that?

He could still feel the strange sensation that filled his fingertips just before the collision.

Wind blew from around him as he charged at full speed, and at a certain point, it seemed as though wind was flowing from the tip of his spear. He had given up on hitting the dummy, but the target had been sucked in towards him. The attack that glanced past the target should not have even been in the dummy’s vicinity. He had been unsuccessful nonetheless, but there was a huge difference between missing slightly and being several steps off.

And it was not just an illusion. When he went out to the training grounds to check, there was a long gash on the side of the dummy’s head.

‘It will be difficult to even control this ability right now, but I believe you will overcome a great trial with it.’

The wind that wound around the tip of his spear sucked him in the moment his attack missed. As a result, he had lost his balance, fell off his horse, and immediately lost consciousness.

It was as the dragon said. The power that he could not control ended up hurting him instead.

It was a moment where he could have broken his neck if something had gone wrong, but he felt elation rather than anxiety.

Was this what the dragon meant by getting the environment’s help?

When he was atop the charging horse, he had been one with the wind. Kim Seon-Hyeok’s face brightened further upon unexpectedly discovering how to utilize the wind attribute.

“And you said this was low-tier?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok mockingly laughed, recalling the face of the instructor who classified him as low-tier and said there were no dragons in this world.

Just wait. He would show them how ignorant they all were.

That was not the full extent of the dragon rider class’ greatness.

“Hey, don’t be surprised, but your hyung is already level 9.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok ran into Kang Jeong-Tae by chance, who boasted of his level.

“Oh, then can I ask what your stats are?”

It was a question that could not be asked carelessly, no matter how close the two were. However, Kang Jeong-Tae seemed to be pleased with his growth and disclosed all of his stats.

“I have 15 strength, 14 stamina, and 13 agility. They don’t seem to go up much even if I level up.”

The stats he revealed with such pride were lower than those of the level 2 Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“Hm…”

Kang Jeong-Tae gave a belated expression after seeing Kim Seon-Hyeok’s inscrutable expression.

“Ah, you might not be aware yet, but it’s hard to raise your stats. Only one of strength, stamina, and agility increases by one every time you level up.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok did not know what kind of expression he should have, hearing about the paltry stat gains Kang Jeong-Tae received upon leveling up.

“Hey, cheer up. You’ll be able to raise your stats too someday.”

“Ah, right. Thanks, hyung.”

Even if they had gotten closer, they were living in a world where only the fittest survived. Kim Seon-Hyeok could not help but feel a sense of victory.

“I’ll be going now, hyung.”

“Okay. Cheer up! Don’t be so depressed!”

It had not been a particularly pleasant conversation, but he did get some useful information. While he was at it, he met with other foreigners and asked them about their levels and stats. Even those who would not normally be keen on sharing their information did so, likely because they were talking to the hopeless dragon rider. No, they might have wanted to show off their own development, even if it was just to Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“I understand why the low-tier classes are looked down on…”

Analyzing the information obtained, Kim Seon-Hyeok discovered that the average ability of the foreigners dispatched at the garrison was similar to that of Kang Jeong-Tae. They only received a single stat point upon leveling up, so he was pleasantly surprised that he had received six.

“Do you remember the noona who was the first to receive a high-tier at the training center?”

“You’re talking about that female mage, right?”

“Yes, she’s the one. Hyung, I overheard some of the superiors talking about her.”

The youngest among the foreigners, Park Soo-Hong, shared an interesting story when they met.

“I heard she gains 4 stat points every time she levels up?”

Regardless of where that information came from, if it was true, then Kim Seon-Hyeok thought that he had won the lottery. The only downside was that he would have to wait a long time to receive his full winnings.

“Well, even the up-front rewards are pretty amazing.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok laughed while enjoying the breeze passing through his fingers.

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