Episode 102. A Patron’s Responsibilities (1)

After checking his status window, Seon-Hyeok dropped everything and immediately headed to the river to find Bluegon.

Just as Antoine Montaigne said, the river looked ominous. The water level had dropped so low that typically underwater plants were badly exposed along the riverbank. The water wheel was suspended in midair, and was in the process of collapsing, unable to overcome its weight.

He was taken aback, knowing that this was all the work of his unhappy sea dragon.

“Bluegon.”

Seon-Hyeok pulled himself together and called on Bluegon. However, despite knowing that its master had reached the riverbank, Bluegon refused to show itself.

It was as he expected.

He had been unable to check on his monster’s state for a while given that he was away. When he finally did, Bluegon’s obedience had fallen sharply, and the sea dragon was full of complaints. Seon-Hyeok could not have complained even if his sea serpent had attacked him on sight, considering that its obedience level was now at  single digits.

“Bluegon!”

He raised his voice and called for Bluegon once again. However, the sea dragon did not budge. Seeing this, Seon-Hyeok took out the pork and beef he had Antoine Montaigne prepare in advance and threw it in the river. Freshly slaughtered and oozing blood, the meat quickly turned the river red.

Far away, a dark blue shadow Seon-Hyeok imagined to be Bluegon could be seen just under the surface.

He again called out the sea serpent’s name, and Bluegon finally approached, whether it was because of his voice or the smell of blood.

Splash.

Water sprayed in the air, and the river’s surface moved violently. After a moment, the river became still once again.

Once more, Seon-Hyeok threw meat into the river. The shadow devoured the large piece of meat before it even had the chance to leak blood into the water. This process repeated itself several times.

-          Concern, conflict

How many times had he thrown meat into the river? 

After a while, the word ‘discontent’ finally disappeared from Bluegon’s status window.

“Bluegon.”

The water bubbled up.

Bluegon still refused to show itself. The only indicator of its presence was the white bubbles on the water’s surface.

“I was late because I had a lot of work. So please don’t be too upset. I’ll come visit often in the future.”

Even as he spoke, Seon-Hyeok found the situation ridiculous. He was not speaking to a sulky child, but rather a giant monster. The fact that he was saying such things made him speechless, but he could think of no other way out of the situation.

“Cows, pigs. I’ll feed you as much and as often as you want.”

He threw the last piece of meat into the river. He recalled that Goldrake had been won over with food, and hoped Bluegon would be the same.

Snap.

A head slowly rose from the surface of the water, snatched the morsel whole, and sank back into the depths.

“Huh?”

However, Bluegon’s head was far too large. It was not quite as big as when Seon-Hyeok first encountered the sea dragon in the vast ocean, but was much larger than after it shrank itself during their travels.

Seon-Hyeok quickly realized why.

‘The huge size was a desperate measure in case I lost my sense of self and became a monster.’

This was what Bluegon had said when they had first formed their contract.

‘Take me with you. Our relationship has not been solidified yet, so it could revert at any moment.’

Bluegon had added that because they had not fully established their relationship, it could become unstable at a moment’s notice.

In essence, leaving Bluegon alone had forced it into gigantification.

Because he had gone on a long trip and left Bluegon unattended after dragging it to Rheinperle, the monster had grown unstable. As the days dragged on, the sea dragon, in its anxiety, had allowed itself to become large once again.

“Ugh. You really were nervous.”

Belatedly feeling sorry for his actions, Seon-Hyeok stayed by the river for a while before departing. The following day, he came right back to see Bluegon once again.

Squeal!

Moooo. Moooo.

A live cow and pig were dragged to the riverbank, where they screamed. Bluegon quickly appeared to swallow its prey.

-          Bluegon’s obedience has increased by 1.

Bluegon’s obedience had fallen so far, that even after this most recent increase, it still remained in single digits. However, Seon-Hyeok was satisfied after confirming that his approach was working.

Since then, Seon-Hyeok visited Bluegon whenever he could, bringing cows and pigs along with him. After a while, Bluegon’s obedience finally reached 30, and it was at this time that the sea serpent rose above the surface to show itself.

“Let’s do our best.”

Seon-Hyeok smiled and approached, thinking Bluegon had finally stopped sulking, but the sea dragon disappeared under the surface once again.

It seemed that Bluegon was one to hold grudges.

Even so, the nearly devastated Rheinperle River had recovered to some extent, indicating that Bluegon’s dissatisfaction had abated. Likewise, Bluegon’s status subtly shifted, showing anticipation and excitement rather than discontent.

Bluegon, not knowing that its emotions were clearly visible in its master’s status, continued to feign anger for a long time.

“Are you playing hard to get?”

Seon-Hyeok vowed never to leave Bluegon alone for so long ever again, realizing that doing so might mean the river drying up completely. At this point, even if he went to war, he would practically have to choose battlefields near bodies of water.

“Play with your friends today.”

As usual, Seon-Hyeok visited the Rheinperle River this day. After looking around, he called on his water spirits.

‘Call on us more often.’

‘It’s been a while, master.’

The mid-tier Ikram and the low-tier Izdihar complained that they had not been summoned for a while. Ikram looked to be around 13 years old and was the splitting image of the royal princess aside from her transparent, watery body. Izdihar looked slightly smaller and younger, as though she was her sister. Aside from this slight difference, the two could have been mistaken as twins.

“Oh. Sorry.”

Seon-Hyeok got the feeling that water attribute beings were particularly sulky in nature, and he tried to soothe them. It felt strange seeing the spirits resembling the princess laughing and reacting to his every word, but after being around Atiya, he was accustomed to having spirits look like someone he knew.

‘Water dragon?’

The spirits’ eyes grew wide when they noticed Bluegon sticking its head out of the water and staring at them.

“Water dragon? You know what sea serpents are?”

Seon-Hyeok was taken aback that the spirits, otherwise ignorant about this world, recognized Bluegon. Instead of responding, the two water spirits showed their strong distaste for the monster.

It was not what he expected. Given that they were attuned to the same attribute, Seon-Hyeok imagined that they would get along well. However, the spirits unexpectedly showed extreme vigilance around Bluegon.

‘Master, we want to go back!’

Izdihar disappeared without being ordered, and Ikram made an unsightly expression as she stared at the sea dragon.

“What’s wrong? What did Bluegon do?”

‘Tyrant. Plunderer.’

Seon-Hyeok could not understand what Ikram was saying. Realizing this, Ikram added a brief explanation.

‘They’re terrible creatures that break the order of the world. They’re demons that feed on spirits to grow.’

“What are you…”

Before Seon-Hyeok could even finish speaking, Bluegon suddenly changed.

Growl.

The sea serpent bared its teeth and slowly started to approach Ikram.

-          Hunger, hunger, hunger, hunger, hunger, hunger, hunger

Bluegon’s status window was suddenly flooded with the word ‘hunger’.

‘You devil!’

Despite shuddering, Ikram refused to back down. She gathered some water from the surface of the river to create a water spear.

“Stop!”

Bewildered, Seon-Hyeok stepped in between Ikram and Bluegon. His simpleminded idea that the two would get along because of their affinity to the same attribute could have ended in disaster.

“Ikram! Go back!”

At his frantic shout, Ikram, having just thrown her spear at Bluegon, scattered into the air.

Roar!”

Bluegon growled for a while in disappointment even after Ikram disappeared. With a final roar, the sea dragon disappeared back under the surface. Seon-Hyeok tried to call it back, but Bluegon refused to appear.

-          Disappointment, rage.

Seon-Hyeok grew increasingly confused as he checked his status window and saw Bluegon’s disappointment and anger over failing to get Ikram.

What could have happened between the water spirits and the monster?

Once he returned to his estate, Seon-Hyeok locked his door and immediately summoned Ikram.

“Tell me about the sea dragon.”

‘We’ve been fighting with the water dragons for many years.’

Ikram’s usual soft smile was replaced by a ferocious expression, as though she was filled with hatred just thinking about the monster.

“Because the sea dragons feed on you to grow?”

Ikram nodded when Seon-Hyeok asked about the reason behind their conflict.

‘Sea dragons are devils with terrible appetites, and they even devour the source of their existence. If you keep it around for a long time, even that beautiful river will dry up.’

“Ah…”

As soon as she said this, Seon-Hyeok recalled what Bluegon had told him long ago.

‘In addition, maintaining that form requires significant water energy, so it’s only a burden for the time being.’

Bluegon had said it needed water energy, and seeing Ikram’s reaction now, there was no doubt that this water energy was connected to the spirits.

“Ah…”

It was not just Bluegon. Goldrake likewise grew after ingesting the energy of earth veins, and the land afterwards had become so dry that nothing could grow on it. In essence, any areas where these dragon subspecies called home would be damaged in one form or another.

However, compared to Ikram’s serious expression, Seon-Hyeok’s was not particularly dark.

After all, he knew full well that the world was large, and that it was not just the dragon subspecies that destroyed their surroundings.

Humans were the greediest of beings, and the ones responsible for destroying their surroundings faster than any beast.

He had seen and experienced how quickly humans destroyed and ruined their lands in the other world, so he was not particularly impressed by the spirit’s words.

Humans likewise existed in this world. Bluegon and the other dragon subspecies were not particularly special in that regard.

“So the question is where they’ll do damage.”

And in the end, Seon-Hyeok was one of those humans.

Seon-Hyeok was able to learn from the spirit that Bluegon was a monster that exhausted water energy at terrifying rates, but his daily routine did not change much. He continued to provide Bluegon with cows and pigs, and he made frequent visits to raise its obedience.

As such, he devoted himself to the duties of a dragon rider, and at the same time, he fulfilled his responsibilities as a lord by asking Asha Trail to teach swordsmanship to the infantry and cavalry of his territory.

“Jackson Hamilton and Julian Vanquish. Those two should be qualified to become apprentice knights at the very least.”

In a few short days, Asha Trail was able to pick out the talented soldiers from the Rheinperle territory, and notably among them were Jackson and Julian. She promised to train them well to help them realize their potential in drawing out sword energy, and they saw the first fruits of their labor before long.

“Oh! Congratulations.”

“It’s all thanks to your, and Sir Trail’s, support.”

By bringing out sword energy, Jackson established the foundations to become an apprentice knight. He had previously shown a greater talent for combat than horsemanship, and now, he was fully on the path to becoming a knight. Having risen to the position of an earl, Seon-Hyeok now had the authority and ability to support Jackson in this endeavor, and Jackson quickly strengthened his basic skills.

The same was true of Julian. Her swordsmanship had stalled given the absence of a suitable teacher, but she now improved rapidly. She reached the point where it would not be strange to see her summoning sword energy herself.

In this manner, Asha Trail proved her worth as soon as she arrived at Rheinperle. Aria Eisen was the only one continuing to be deadweight. Despite this, Aria Eisen seemed to have a few screws loose, as she remained oblivious to the situation and simply focused on her personal development.

As someone placing a high value on efficiency, Antoine Montaigne was naturally displeased with the selfish mage. It was not strange – after all, he was the one in charge of managing and developing the territory. Aria Eisen was more expensive to support than any other person in Rheinperle, and yet, she offered nothing to its development.

“Shouldn’t you give her something to do?”

Seon-Hyeok had been unable to worry about Aria Eisen given his focus on different matters, but even he did not want the mage he brought to his land to continue draining their resources.

“I have something in mind.”

And so, he summoned Aria Eisen to give her a task. However, she was so engrossed in her study of magic that she ignored her lord’s call, and Seon-Hyeok ultimately had to go see her himself.

“Sir Eisen.”

Seon-Hyeok wrinkled his nose at the unidentifiable stench emanating from the door, and after a few knocks, he opened the door.

“Sir Eisen.”

He could see Aria Eisen squatting on the floor and touching something on the ground. She continued to mutter under her breath, and she did not seem to recognize that her lord was in her laboratory.

“Hm.”

Wondering what she was so focused on, Seon-Hyeok approached silently in an effort not to distract her.

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