Episode 131. Conversion (2)

“I longed to be a griffin rider my entire life. I can’t imagine not being one going forward.”

After some thought, Lafayette chose his status as a rider over loyalty to his kingdom. Roland’s answer was no different.

“Okay. I see.”

Having received their answer, Seon-Hyeok immediately got up from his seat. The knights did not say anything, not thinking much of the question or their responses.

“What would the Griffindor Kingdom do if the Knights of the Azure Sky do not return?”

Seon-Hyeok found Commander Mangsk and hurriedly asked about the potential aftermath of the knights’ defection.

“I don’t know how to answer that – what are you getting at?”

“If Sir Lafayette and Sir Roland wish to remain in Adenburg, what should we do?”

Even average knights are highly valued by the kingdoms. What, then, about Lafayette and Roland, who aren’t just senior knights, but griffin riders as well?

Seon-Hyeok needed to confirm that there would not be a massive fallout from his proposed plan.

“Then we’ll have to hold onto them. What is there to think about?”

Commander Mangsk unhesitatingly responded, almost to the point of rejecting his concerns.

“There won’t be any retribution?”

“It was the Griffindor Kingdom that first betrayed us, not the other way around. Why do you think they were able to do so in the first place?”

Only then did Seon-Hyeok realize what he had forgotten.

“It’s because of the distance.”

There was a massive barrier between the Adenburg and Griffindor Kingdoms, otherwise known as the Noctein Kingdom. So long as the Nocteins did not face complete destruction, there was no situation in which the Griffindors could directly attack the Adenburg Kingdom.

“Of course, they could try to entice the neighboring kingdoms to act and cause minor disturbances, but that’s a price worth paying for two senior knights, let alone griffin riders.”

Realizing that his fears of another potential war were unfounded, Seon-Hyeok decided to explain his plan to the commander.

“Oh? So the Knights of the Azure Sky referred to the unit as a whole, not the individual knights?”

Commander Mangsk showed great surprise at this new information. His eyes shone upon hearing of the impending punishment of the captured griffin riders.

“So it wouldn’t be difficult to sway them if we can obtain the griffins.”

“I think so.”

To be honest, what Seon-Hyeok wanted were the griffins, not their riders. Of course they were skilled, but the knights lacking in honor were little more than accessories to their mounts.

“Even so, it would be good to get approval first. You should ask His Majesty yourself. He may have a different view on the situation, so you shouldn’t put him in an unenviable position.”

Commander Mangsk set up lines of communication with the Adenstein royal family, and they soon heard King Theodore’s voice.

[There is nothing to consider. Do so if you can. I will take full responsibility for any resulting fallout.]

The answer was refreshing as always, and Seon-Hyeok had been given final approval.

“But how do you plan to sway those griffins, considering they already have a master?”

Seon-Hyeok smiled upon hearing Commander Mangsk’s question.

“I’ll have to persuade them with words.”

Even with this ridiculous answer, the commander did not question him. He was certain the foreigner had a real plan.

However, Seon-Hyeok truly did plan to talk the griffins into switching allegiances.

‘Say it. Declare it. If it is insufficient, repeat yourself again and again. If you do so, your words will become a promise and reality.’

Of course, he would not be just speaking to the griffins. He would be using the ability granted by the dragon.

The griffins were isolated from the Knights of the Azure Sky and tied down near Redvern.

Clack.

Seeing Seon-Hyeok, the griffins snapped their beaks and tried to threaten him. However, to him, the griffins looked more pitiful than frightening. After all, they were in a truly sorry state.

Their manes were half-melted and matted, and the normally glorious, golden fur was now patchy. Even the white wings looked bare, with their feathers missing.

There was no need to ask who was responsible for the griffins’ condition.

“Hey, I told you to go easy on the bullying. You really did a number on them.”

The culprit was Redvern, the only one not tied up among the three monsters.

Chirp.

At his scolding, Redvern chirped and pretended not to notice.

After the Battle of the Istein Plains, Redvern had undergone another period of growth. It was all thanks to Aria Eisen, as she had taken up the hobby of manufacturing new and deadlier poisons. Now, Redvern was as large as Lafayette’s giant griffin, Mionte, and much stronger.

Redvern used this newfound strength to bully the griffins. Shackled with chains, the griffins were unable to resist the tyranny of the ill-tempered wyvern.

The end result was the sorry sight that unfolded in front of Seon-Hyeok.

“You really are a pain.”

He shook his head and approached the griffins.

Roar!

The two griffins threateningly showed their manes and stood on guard.

“Tsk. I’m not here to bother you.”

He clicked his tongue as he looked at the griffins’ wounds. Remembering why he came here, he immediately got to work.

“I am your master. I am your master. I am your master.”

Just as he had tamed Stella in the past, he constantly repeated himself as he desperately hoped for his words to reach the griffins.

Seon-Hyeok’s efforts that first day ended without him knowing whether he made any progress. However, he was not disappointed.

He had to work tremendously hard to tame the Widowmaker, so it could not possibly be easy to tame the much fiercer and stronger griffins.

Afterwards, he visited the griffins whenever he could to continue imprinting onto them.

“Ugh, what’s wrong with you?”

Jealous that its owner’s attention was solely on the griffins, Redvern bullied the griffins even more when he was away.

“I’ll tie you up too if you keep acting like that.”

Redvern showed no signs of reflecting over its actions as it chirped in response. On the contrary, its status demonstrated feelings of injustice and frustration.

“You can’t even stand up to Goldie.”

The wyvern raised its snout in defiance. It seemed to be suggesting that it would not lose so easily to Goldrake this time around.

“Are you going to fight over hierarchy when we return to Rheinperle?”

Whenever he saw Redvern, Seon-Hyeok wondered whether he was raising dragon subspecies or dogs. It was no different now.

Beep. Beep.

Seeing its master’s annoyance, Redvern poked at him with its snout to try and lighten the mood.

“Ugh, whatever. Whatever.”

Seon-Hyeok smirked, unable to stay upset with Redvern no matter how much of a nuisance the wyvern could be.

After being hopeless following their capture, the Knights of the Azure Sky recently became more and more lively.

“Has there been any progress?”

Lafayette’s rugged face had a timid expression as he spoke, perhaps worried that his words might come across as pestering. At a certain point, he had begun to speak respectfully towards the foreigner, as though he was speaking to his superior.

“If the kingdom accepts the demands for our return…”

Seon-Hyeok wondered if this truly was the second of the proud Knights of the Azure Sky.

They really were unbelievable in many ways.

But what else could I do? 

Despite the knight’s attitude, his abilities were commendable, and Seon-Hyeok had no choice but to reassure him.

“It’s not something that happens overnight. Let’s be a bit more patient.”

After all, Seon-Hyeok was intent on receiving a huge price for the two knights, and the purchaser would be the Adenstein royal family. He had already reached an agreement with King Theodore.

All that remained was to have the griffins bend the knee so that their knights would officially defect to the Adenburg Kingdom.

“Has there been any news from the Griffindor Kingdom?”

This time, it was Roland.

“There was, but His Majesty has been taking care of it.”

By now, after two decisive duels, it was clear who dominated this relationship.

“Maybe I shouldn’t ask, but why are you so intent on remaining here? I’m sure you can get good enough treatment even if you’re not active griffin riders.”

Despite being less prestigious than griffin riders, senior knights were powerful individuals deserving of special treatment in any kingdom. Seon-Hyeok could not understand why they wanted to remain in Adenburg at the cost of being branded as traitors.

“We need to remain as griffin riders.”

Was it because they were so used to roaming the skies that they now considered themselves above any earthbound knight? Or perhaps they were being stubborn after devoting themselves to their lives as griffin riders?

There was no way to know, and it was not important.

In the first place, Seon-Hyeok had no interest in why they wanted to remain. He figured that regardless of what they thought, King Theodore would take proper care of the griffin riders.

“In any case, just wait. It’s not something that can be rushed.”

He urged the riders to remain patient and returned to his task of subduing the griffins.

***

While Seon-Hyeok worked hard to bring the griffins under his control at Fort Kalstein, there were daily meetings at the royal capital of Adenstein.

“Your Majesty, please reconsider.”

However, the atmosphere at the meeting was somewhat strange. The nobles, typically always subdued in front King Theodore, repeatedly asked him to reevaluate his position.

“I have no intention of reconsidering. I have pondered the issue for several days and nights – I cannot think of any other reward that fits Earl Drachen’s accomplishments.”

King Theodore was just as stubborn as the nobles.

“Then speak.”

Rather, he scolded them.

“Earl Drachen has defeated his enemies in 66 battles. He has defeated countless infantry units, and his influence on the front lines cannot be overstated. And beyond that, he singlehandedly defeated 14 knights and 42 mages. What kind of reward do you think I should give to such a man?”

The achievements were jaw-dropping in their magnitude, but the nobles did not yield.

“It is true that Earl Drachen’s contributions are great, but it is also true that the proposed reward is excessive. It would be better to give him part of the newly occupied territories so that he can further establish his roots in our kingdom.”

“Are you seriously suggesting that tasking him with reconstructing newly occupied lands is a suitable reward for his victories?”

This time, the nobles could not respond. They sensed the king’s rising temper.

“I have already promised him the greatest honor possible for a knight. Are you telling me to forego my promises and honor?”

If they answered incorrectly here, the nobles could be branded as traitors unconcerned with the state of the royal family. They could not carelessly open their mouths.

“I cannot give him a greater title, and giving him all of the newly occupied territories would still be lacking as a reward. Our financial situation is fine, but we lack the resources to pay for all of his wartime achievements.”

The rank of marquis and duke could only be held by those with royal blood – Earl Drachen could not go any higher in that regard. His accomplishments were too great to pay with money or territory.

“And so I will give him the greatest treasure I can to acknowledge his contributions for our kingdom.”

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