Episode 122. The Knight of the Azure Sky (3)

“I’ll remain.”

After a full day of internal debate, Seon-Hyeok finally reached his decision. He expected Commander Mangsk to welcome his extended stay, but the commander’s attitude was surprisingly different from what he expected.

“I don’t want you to carry such a big burden alone anymore.”

The commander tried to persuade him otherwise, saying that the mages and knights on the front lines had found a way of dealing with the enemy griffin riders.

“The advantage of flying in the sky isn’t just being able to attack an opponent from out of reach.”

The real benefit of flight was the accompanying mobility. No matter how high a kingdom built its walls or patrolled the borders, it could not do anything to restrict travel through the sky. Like Seon-Hyeok did himself, the griffin riders would most certainly move exclusively by air and harass the Adenburg Kingdom without restraint.

And in this process, it would not be the superhuman beings suffering from their attacks, but the ordinary soldiers unable to receive the kingdom’s protection.

“I won’t focus on anything else. My goal is to simply stop those knights in the sky.”

The commander looked at him suspiciously after noticing his firm attitude.

“Why did you suddenly change your mind? Just yesterday, you were adamant about returning home.”

“I was truly exhausted then, and I didn’t have the confidence to remain on the front lines. But now…”

Seon-Hyeok smiled. It was not the weak smile borne out of trying to maintain one’s façade, but was rather truly lively.

“I think I could last another year, if need be.”

“What…”

Commander Mangsk looked bewildered, unable to understand until the very end. It made sense – it was shocking to see someone change so drastically over the course of a single day.

Seon-Hyeok did not bother responding to the commander’s questioning look. The most important factor now was that the accumulated stress on his mind and body had all but disappeared.

“I’ll take care of those Knights of the Azure Sky.”

His entire body overflowed with newfound vitality and confidence. It was all thanks to the effects of leveling up and reaching his next class advancement.

***

-          You may advance from the 2nd class Dragon Rider Chief to the 3rd class Dragon Rider Master Chief.

-          Would you like to advance to the 3rd class?

Upon leveling up after his intense training, Seon-Hyeok accepted the class advancement without hesitation.

-          You have advanced from Dragon Rider Chief to Dragon Rider Master Chief.

-          Status elements have been added and changed while advancing to Dragon Rider Master Chief.

-          All stat values have increased slightly as a result of your advancement.

-          The skill “Command Squad” has changed to “Command Platoon” as a result of your advancement.

-          As a result of Command Platoon, the rate at which the dragon subspecies’ obedience decreases has decreased.

-          As a result of Command Platoon, your leadership level is reflected in the abilities of your dragon subspecies.

-          When in close proximity, members of the Dragon Platoon will be affected by each other’s attributes.

-          The skill “Weak Fear” has been generated. You are now slightly able to draw on the dragon’s fighting spirit.

-          The skill “Call Dragon” has been generated. You are now able to summon dragon species from far away.

Messages about the changes caused by the class advancement flooded his head.

-          As a result of your advancement, you are now able to better understand the abilities of the dragon species in your Dragon Platoon.

This rapid growth gave him a reason to remain on the battlefield.

***

When he accessed Redvern’s stats for the first time in a while, he was able to verify the new information he could not see before.

-          Wyvern (Redvern) (Poison) (Lv. 06)

o   Strength 54 / Agility 147 / Vitality 34 / Intelligence 06 / Magic Resistance 49 / Obedience 42

o   Condition - Content

It was the ability he gained from advancing to the class of Dragon Rider Master Chief.

Previously, he had only been vaguely aware of his dragon subspecies’ characteristics, but now, he had a deeper insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

As a creature capable of speeding through the skies, Redvern had high agility, and…

“You really are dumb.”

Its intelligence was incredibly low.

“To think that you’re stupider than Goldie…”

He was able to check on Goldrake’s stats despite being far away. The drake’s stats was incomparable to Redvern’s.

-          Drake (Goldrake) (Earth) (Lv. 17)

o   Strength 96 / Agility 42 / Vitality 153 / Intelligence 17 / Magic Resistance 142 / Obedience 100

o   Condition - ?

Among them, the biggest differences were in vitality and magic resistance. Goldrake had a tank-like body, and its magic resistance was equally incredible.

He was not sure whether the high vitality levels were innate or a result of being beaten around on the battlefield, but it was evident that Goldrake would be a good choice to use against enemy mages in the future.

The drake’s high magic resistance and vitality seemed to be more than enough to withstand their fearsome firepower.

“Ugh. I would’ve brought Goldie as well if this guy wasn’t so scared of it…”

Perhaps it was because of how badly Redvern had been beaten in the taming process, but the wyvern became terrified at even the briefest glance of Goldrake’s golden scales. If Seon-Hyeok did not have these constraints to work with, he probably would have had an easier time dispatching of the Noctein mages.

But there was nothing he could do about that now. The two he had with him in this war were Redvern and Bluegon.

-          Sea Serpent (Bluegon) (Water) (Lv. 03)

o   Strength 107 / Agility 61 / Vitality 87 / Intelligence 33 / Magic Resistance 67 / Obedience 57

o   Condition - Sleeping

Bluegon, the sea dragon currently preying on the ships coming and going across the river, had overwhelmingly high stats despite its low level. Seon-Hyeok found it regrettable that the sea serpent was restricted to water.

After quietly checking all of their stats, Seon-Hyeok returned his attention to Redvern and pet the creature. Pleased, Redvern chirped like a baby bird that had just found its mother.

“Well, stats aren’t why you’re so great.”

Redvern’s true strength and greatest weapon was in its massive wings that could unfold at a moment’s notice.

Chirp.

Hearing his words, the usually dim-witted Redvern chirped and puffed up.

“Sorry I’m late.”

Aria Eisen appeared, the hem of her robes fluttering in the air. As she had also enjoyed her rest while Seon-Hyeok remained at the garrison, the mage looked fully revitalized.

“I’m ready.”

She spoke as she climbed on top of Redvern with the help of the soldiers standing by.

“Let’s go.”

At Seon-Hyeok’s command, Redvern flapped its wings a few times before forcefully rising into the air.

***

The quiet Noctein garrison went into a frenzy. After being absent for a while, the Red Devil had once again shown his face on the front lines.

“Emergency! Emergency! It’s Drachen!”

The sentry screamed as he desperately hit the emergency bell, and the archers pressed against the barricades moved to notch arrows to their bows. However, it was anything but threatening. Their shaky hands kept dropping their arrows, and even those who were successful dared not look up into the sky.

Seon-Hyeok shook his head as he saw the soldiers busily moving around. He almost felt sorry as he saw them overreact.

“Tsk.”

After clicking his tongue, he guided Redvern in a different direction. Of course, this was not out of mercy for the Nocteins.

His objective simply was not these garrisons manned by common soldiers.

***

On that day, Seon-Hyeok went on a rampage at the various Noctein facilities. Aria Eisen enthusiastically made up for her recent lack of activity by raining down spells from above, and the enemy food warehouses and logistics bases were completely wiped out.

Noctein mages belatedly arrived to cast their defensive magic in an attempt to protect their warehouses, it was already after everything had burned down.

“Damned Drachen!”

“That damned Adenburg!”

The knights and mages had suffered at Earl Drachen’s hands since they arrived on the front lines, and mentally battered, they cursed his very existence.

“When are those damned knights coming!”

A soldier shouted at that very moment, as if to respond to these desperate pleas.

“T, the Knights of the Azure Sky have arrived!”

Commander Halo and his knights were delighted at the arrival of the long-awaited griffin riders.

“So, they’re finally here?”

Halo tried to remain calm. No matter how urgently they needed to deal with Drachen, it was not appropriate to so excitedly welcome an enemy of the kingdom.

“They’re here, but there’s a problem…”

When the soldier hesitated, a knight narrowed his eyes and immediately retorted.

“What problem!”

“W, well, there’s been an argument with our cavalry.”

When they followed the soldier to the stables, Halo and the knights grimaced at the sudden stench.

It was true that places that housed animals never smelled great. However, this was just too severe. The stench permeated the entire place, as though they were standing inside of a sewer.

“What the hell…”

The roof of the stable had collapsed, as though it had been bombed, and two giant monsters could be seen underneath, pinning down the horses inside and pecking at them.

Their yellow beaks, stained red with blood, the white heads, and the sharp front talons resembled those of an eagle, while their muscular bodies and hind legs, with the exception of the white wings, were reminiscent of lions. The griffins were twice as large as an average bull.

Rip. Rip.

The powerful war horse’s muscles were torn apart, with blood splattering everywhere each time the griffin pecked with its beak.

“Ah…”

It was only then that the knights realized what was causing the foul odor. Thrown into a panic by the two monsters storming the stable, the war horses inside had defecated and urinated everywhere. It would have been strange if there had not been a stench.

“I’m sorry. The griffins go crazy whenever they see horses, and I couldn’t stop them.”

Because their gazes were fixated on the horrific scene unfolding in front of them, Halo and the knights only belatedly noticed the Knights of the Azure Sky. The griffin riders did not actually seem at all sorry for what was happening.

The knight dressed in a red cape and colorfully decorated armor nodded arrogantly. He had blazing red hair and a manly first impression.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Gilbert Sylvain Lafayette, and this is Sir Jean-Marie de Roland.”

The two wore the same, matching uniforms, but unlike Knight Lafayette, Knight Roland possessed a much leaner build. His face was fairer, unlike that expected of a knight, but his arrogant gaze made his lofty status clear.

“Second of the Knights of the Azure Sky, Lafayette of the Burning Flame. Third of the Knights, Roland of the Gale…”

Though Halo knew the griffin riders would be arriving, he had not been briefed on which among them would come. He naturally expected the two lowest-ranked knights to be present, but surprisingly, they were the second and third.

Taken aback, Halo nervously accepted their greetings.

“We came in a rush, but it looks like you’ve already been in a fight? The garrison’s a mess.”

Halo frowned. He could not gather whether these were words of mockery or consolation.

“More importantly, what the hell is this? The war horses of our kingdom are widely known for their excellence, and I can’t let them be slain like cattle.”

“As I said, these guys go crazy when they see horses. They couldn’t eat on the way here, so they refused to listen to us. I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to reimburse the owners.”

A few cavalrymen standing outside the stables gritted their teeth. After all, these men valued their horses above all else, so how frustrating must it have been to see their mounts be devoured alive in front of them? If their opponent had been anyone other than these Knights of the Azure Sky, they would have already attacked in anger.

“Let’s leave this place and talk. This isn’t a great place for a meeting.”

“Can you wait a moment? Since the situation is already at this point, let’s let these guys have their fill.”

Regardless of the current cooperative agreement, the two kingdoms had recently been at war. Despite this, Knights Lafayette and Roland were almost excessively relaxed as they stared at the Noctein knights and mages.

“Ugh. I will wait.”

Halo shook his head at Lafayette’s brazen words.

The griffins’ meal did not last long. After finishing the horse in an instant, the griffin acted as though nothing had happened. Halo looked on in dissatisfaction – the griffins’ brazen attitude resembled their owners’.

Knight Lafayette paid no attention to the Noctein knight as he spoke as he pleased.

“Let’s see. Considering the amount of time this took, I think we can catch up to him if we leave now.”

Lafayette and Roland got back on their griffins.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Well, I thought we’d go say hello to the wyvern rider.”

Before Halo could try and dissuade them, the griffins spread their powerful wings.

“Then we’ll be back.”

As soon as the knight spoke, the griffins flew up and disappeared into the heavens.

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