Episode 7. Leveling Up (2)

“Ah, why can’t I!”

The protesting Kim Seon-Hyeok had a dissatisfied expression. He had finally discovered the potential of a dragon rider and wanted to master the wind attribute, but those around him refused to help.

“Will you take responsibility if the horse gets hurt when you overdo it again?”

Clark completely stonewalled his protests on the pretext that he almost injured a precious war horse.

“You’re prohibited from horse riding until you can calm down a bit.”

The underlying message behind the measure was to be careful. Kim Seon-Hyeok could not continue to protest, knowing that his accident was a result of forcing his skill. Besides, he was in the military, where superiors commanded and subordinates obeyed. He had nothing to gain by continuing to argue.

Fortunately for him, unlike during his stint at the training center, Kim Seon-Hyeok found himself with a lot of free time. Other riders would often leave the barracks for field maneuvering and other exercises, but he was excused from all training.

With that said, there weren’t any instructors following him around to enforce training regimens, but Kim Seon-Hyeok had to continue training by himself to get stronger.

“Can I go around the training grounds for a while?”

“You’re not planning something stupid, are you?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok asked, knowing there was nothing to do in the barracks, and Clark warned him with a suspicious look not to even dream of horsemanship training.

“As long as you don’t leave the area, you’re allowed to train on your own.”

But Clark must have felt it was strange to keep him confined to the barracks, and so he gave Kim Seon-Hyeok permission to train on the condition that he did not cause trouble with the soldiers from the other units.

Leaving the barracks, Kim Seon-Hyeok stretched out his arm just in case. However, the breeze that passed by his fingertips did not show any intention of staying there, as though the sensations he felt the previous day were just a dream.

“Ugh. I wanted to feel it one more time.”

He could not train his horsemanship skills, and he could not work on his proficiency with the wind attribute. All that was left was to mindlessly work on his physical body. Dragon riders had a slow growth rate, so if he didn’t even do that, he didn’t know when he would ever level up.

He warmed up while struggling with the 25kg cavalry armor.

Leveling up undeniably had a significant effect. Each of his stats had increased by 2, and the changes he felt were enormous.

The restricted field of view and the suffocating sensation from wearing the helmet remained, but the weight of the heavy armor that previously burdened his body was significantly lessened. As a test, he swung a bastard sword, one of the weapons provided to the cavalry.

Whoosh.

The motion using the swordsmanship learned from his basic training was not anything special, but it was quick and sharp. In addition, as his basic strength and stats were comparatively high, the attack looked fairly respectable.

Kim Seon-Hyeok quickly ran out of breath as he repeated these swordsmanship movements. It was evident that wielding a sword while wearing heavy armor was much more difficult than just withstanding the weight of the armor.

Even so, he did not stop. A strong body would quickly recover from fatigue if not pushed to the limit, so it was important to train until he was exhausted. Only then would he see the benefits of his training.

“Hm?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok noticed a subtle sensation at the tip of his fingertips as he swung his sword for a while. At this familiar yet unfamiliar feeling, he began to swing even more wildly. It was a nonsensical movement that could not be found in any swordsmanship teachings.

He continued like this for a while, and eventually felt something subtly touch the tip of his sword.

“Ah…”

As if possessed, Kim Seon-Hyeok removed his iron gloves and swung his sword roughly. The subtle sensation became clearer as he continued to swing at random. It was a sensation that he knew and yet did not know. Though he had a feeling of what it was, it was still too weak and delicate to utilize right away.

No. I’m not looking for a light breeze like this.

What he wanted was the sharp, blade-like wind that wrapped around his spear the day before. However, he could not summon such a gale with his own strength. Realizing that he would have to get back on a horse to re-experience the sensations of the previous day, he just smacked his lips.

“Ugh. If only there was a giant fan somewhere…”

In his disappointment, he longed for objects from the other world.

***

Kim Seon-Hyeok could not stop training just because he was prohibited from riding a horse. No, because of this, he decided to push his body even more.

He put on his heavy armor and ran through the training grounds like crazy, randomly swinging his sword and stabbing with his spear. As a result, the training dummies were all left in tatters.

“It’s frustrating that there isn’t an experience bar like in actual games.”

If he hadn’t found enjoyment in training through leveling up recently, he probably would have already given up.

“Amazing. How amazing. Such a first class soldier. You deserve a reward.”

“Aside from the fact that it’s a rider rolling on the ground like a common dog, he looks like a model soldier.”

“That is, if he was an infantry soldier!”

The other riders snickered at and mocked him, but they did not openly interfere with his training.

There was no sense of comradeship in the first place, so it was natural that they stared at him as though he did not even belong to their unit.

“Just let him do what he wants. It won’t be long anyways. He’ll eventually get called up from above and be sent somewhere else.”

Moreover, Kim Seon-Hyeok’s status as a foreigner was another factor preventing him from fitting in with the others. He might be a member of the army like the rest of them, but he only needed to work until he repaid what was owed to the royal family. Both he and the eyes staring at him knew that he was different.

“Damn bastards. If you’re going to be like this, then why have that initiation in the first place?”

Despite his words, it wasn’t as though Kim Seon-Hyeok particularly wanted the other riders to accept him. In fact, he was pretty satisfied in his current situation, where there was nothing actively in his way.

He continued his training, watched by the riders who came by from time to time to mock him and the other soldiers who thought it was interesting. And with that, he became a member of the 24th Regiment, but at the same time, he wasn't.

“Tsk. I heard you’re training alone these days? I heard that the cavalry is particularly proud and not accepting of others.”

“Hyung, cheer up. I’m sure they’ll accept you eventually if you keep working hard.”

Kang Jeong-Tae, Park Soo-Hong, and their peers felt sorry for him and came to offer words of encouragement.

“How are you doing, hyung?”

“Don’t even ask. I need to take care of my guys as their captain, and it’s a huge pain.”

When asked about his situation, Kang Jeong-Tae explained with a proud expression. Seeing him anxious about when he would finally be elevated to middle-tier, it seemed as though he had fully adjusted to his new life. This wasn’t just applicable to Kang Jeong-Tae. The others were all the same.

“There’s no way for us to go back anyways, so I’ll need to get by here. Once my service is over, I’m thinking of leaving and starting my own business. Still, I’m a modern person with experience living in the 21st century, so I should have some expertise that I can take advantage of.”

“Really? I’m planning to just stay here. From what I heard, it’s not like soldiers are treated poorly. Plenty of people outside are starving to death.”

“That’s not a bad idea either. The treatment we get will be incomparably better even as a middle-tier.”

The foreigners talking excitedly among themselves left, and Kim Seon-Hyeok was left to his own thoughts. Kang Jeong-Tae’s words resonated in his head.

“Staking it all here…”

Coincidence was a very strange thing. In fact, before being brought to this world, he had seriously debated becoming a professional soldier as his mandatory service period came to an end.

His mother, his only living blood relative, had passed away during his service, and for Kim Seon-Hyeok, life in society seemed daunting. To some extent, he was leaning towards remaining in the military. He could not help but feel the irony at facing the prospect of being a professional soldier in this random place.

“Maybe I’m just destined to be a soldier…”

He was muttering in complaint, but then quickly laughed. At least there was a path to success here. If he was meant to live a life in the military, he might as well do it here, where there was a high chance of success.

Unlike in the other world, where there was nobody to support him, here, he was backed by the kingdom. Not only that, he had awakened as a dragon rider, a promising class that had begun to show its potential in the previous days. As long as he continued to develop, it wasn’t too far-fetched for him to become a noble and lead a successful life in this world.

If there was a problem, it was that unlike in peaceful Korea, this world was fraught with wars.

“Damn Noctein bastards. Invading and treating our country like it’s their own living room.”

“Let’s be patient. I’m sure there will be official orders from higher up sooner or later.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was not talking to anyone in the barracks, but it wasn’t as though he couldn’t overhear their conversations. Seeing the cavalry units be more on edge recently, he got the sense that actual battles may not be too far away.

‘Let’s survive at least.’

Survival, not success, needed to be his first priority. And in order to survive, he first needed to get stronger. He could worry about other matters later.

“Hup!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok firmly held the spear in his hands and lunged forward.

The weight of the heavy armor that burdened him before now actually put his mind at ease. He pulled back the extended spear, swung around, and stabbed again. His worries gradually disappeared as he felt the wind that gently wrapped around his fingertips.

“Hup! Haat!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok became completely focused on the simple movements. With that, a day passed, then a week, and then another few days.

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

- You have generated the new skill, Standard Kingdom Spearmanship.

- Standard kingdom spearmanship has been added to your list of skills.

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

- Your proficiency with the spear has increased as a result of this skill. Attack speed and power have slightly increased.

Hearing the sudden voice in his head, he belatedly snapped to attention and instinctively opened his status window.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

- Level. 2

- Dragon Rider

- Unique Attribute: Wind

- Strength 19 / Stamina 18 / Agility 21

- Possessed Skills

o Dragon Taming

o Dragon Riding

o Charging

o Novice Horsemanship

§ Novice Horsemanship + Charging = Clumsy Charging

o Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (Lowest Tier)

“Huh?”

He let out a dumbfounded sound upon seeing the standard kingdom spearmanship skill occupying a spot on his skills list.

Skills could be generated like this?

Kim Seon-Hyeok had obtained a lot of information listening to what Kang Jeong-Tae and the other foreigners said when they came to visit. Even so, no matter how hard he thought about it, he had never heard of the others gaining skills in the same manner. Their skills were class-specific skills acquired while leveling up.

Contemplating for a moment, Kim Seon-Hyeok quickly realized the difference between him and the others. Nobody else had a class constrained by slow growth rates. It was obvious that they would take advantage of their class characteristics to find the fastest route to get stronger, and they had no reason to pursue additional training. It was only he who couldn’t properly develop his class traits and was forced to undergo this abnormal training.

“Hm…”

It was nice that he discovered a new way to grow, but he wasn’t particularly thrilled about the process. Thus, he didn’t know whether he should be happy or not.

Moreover, one thing was clear. The world was forcing him to work hard.

“Damn it…”

Despite gaining a new skill, Kim Seon-Hyeok was starting to become sad.

“But at least it’s something.”

He made himself smile in spite of the difficulties. After all, he had been a sergeant in the Republic of Korea Army, and he was made for simple, repetitive labor.

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