Episode 148. The Army of the Dead (2)

The voice felt more like a huge wave of thoughts. Seon-Hyeok’s vision blurred as his head was filled with feelings of immense hatred.

It was a terrible pain he had never experienced before in his life, and Seon-Hyeok feared that his very existence was being torn apart.

“Stop! Stop!”

He desperately came to his senses and tried to communicate with the dragon, but the enraged dragon refused to listen.

[The apostle of hell, the king of destruction! The son of chaos! How did that being reappear in this world!]

“Shut up! Shut up!”

Despite being in agony, Seon-Hyeok shouted wildly and tried to resist the tsunami of thoughts flooding his head.

[He cannot exist…]

“Get lost!”

It looked like his efforts were not in vain. At a certain point, the immense presence threatening to erode his very existence disappeared.

“Ugh.”

In that moment, he felt extreme fear and pain as he fell into a state of extreme confusion. However, he managed to stay sane through superhuman force of will.

“That damned dragon…”

Seon-Hyeok barely managed to take a deep breath, but the dragon’s anger had lasting aftereffects. He felt incredibly drained, and it looked like Ahn Dong-Jin was in a similar situation.

Having faced the full power of Dragon Fear, the Nordic foreigner’s eyes had rolled back, and he foamed at the mouth.

Meanwhile, Seon-Hyeok flopped down on the floor as he caught his breath. Atiya’s summoning had been cancelled, and all he could hear in the room was his own harsh breathing.

After a while, his hazy consciousness barely returned to normal.

“Whew.”

He took another deep breath, recalling the dragon’s unusual, enraged attitude.

Disregarding the ominousness of the class “Dark Lord”, the dragon had vented like she had heard the name of her mortal enemy.

Perhaps the two of them have a history together?

There was no way for him to find out at the moment.

“Ugh. That damned dragon turned me into a complete mess.”

Shocked by the preceding events, he could not think properly, no matter how hard he tried. He was forced to sit on his bed in that condition and recover for a while longer.

“Ugh…”

And after some time had passed, the unconscious Dong-Jin regained his senses. However, his unfocused eyes and drool-covered mouth indicated he was not back to normal.

“Wake up.”

Seon-Hyeok tapped Dong-Jin on the cheek as the foreigner lay there blinking.

“Ugh, what happened? Why am I…”

Perhaps the foreigner suffered from temporary memory loss because of the excessive shock, as Dong-Jin could not recall why he had fallen to the floor. Seon-Hyeok had no intention of explaining the situation, and so he simply pressed on the intruder to resume his interrupted story.

“Ah… it’s harder work than I thought.”

Dong-Jin unhesitatingly spoke about the Nordic situation, face still blank from the impact.

According to the foreigner, the forces led by Park Sang-Jin had already broken through several knight and mage units, and were on the verge of conquering the Nordic Kingdom. Encouraged by these achievements, the foreigners situated in the northwest part of the continent had begun to slowly join the Nordic rebels. Clearly, events had progressed much further than Seon-Hyeok imagined.

Dong-Jin emphasized that this was all thanks to the power of the Dark Lord, Park Sang Jin.

“I imagined you’d be a great asset to our cause, since you singlehandedly destroyed two Noctein knight units and subdued the griffin riders. It’s why I came to visit you earlier than originally planned.”

His eyes were clearer now than before he spoke. It seemed like talking helped him gather his senses.

“Join us. After all, if you’re interested, you can immediately fly to Nordic.”

Seon-Hyeok stared at the foreigner trying to convert him as soon as he regained consciousness. After a brief moment of thought, he shook his head.

“Go back. I won’t stop you from taking others, but I have no intention of joining you.”

If he had been with them from the start, he might have stepped up to break down the inequity in this world. However, he had grown too attached to this world during his time here.

The rough but compassionate cavalry, his loyal squire, the old commander who believed in him from the start, and the young princess.

For Seon-Hyeok, they were not remnants of this world to be destroyed, but real companions.

Perhaps he felt an intrinsic rejection of the Dark Lord, or was being stubborn because he did not want to give up what he had achieved in the Adenburg Kingdom.

Regardless of the reason, the foreigner’s value proposition did not appeal to him.

“You’re a foreigner like us – an outsider in this damned world!”

Unable to understand, Dong-Jin angrily shouted when he refused.

“Do you really think the King of Adenburg will consider you his son-in-law? We’re all destined to be taken advantage of and abandoned after serving our purpose!”

“Perhaps. But would it be any different with you?”

“What the hell are you talking about? We’re all foreigners. We wouldn’t betray one another.”

Seon-Hyeok could not begin to understand what kind of life the Nordic foreigners had lived up to this point.

He sympathized with their need to rely on one another and stick together. However, this understanding had no impact on his decision.

Just as they had trusted and leaned on each other, Seon-Hyeok had done so with those in the Adenburg Kingdom. He could not betray their trust and friendship now.

Dong-Jin tried to convince him for a while longer, but Seon-Hyeok remained adamant. In the end, the Nordic foreigner departed after a day at the Rheinperle estate.

News began to trickle in after that fateful meeting. Kang Jeong-Tae and all of the low-tier foreigners remaining in the Western Army disappeared, as did 14 mid-tier foreigners from the Central Knights.

Naturally, the kingdom was turned upside down. The border was immediately closed, and the knights were dispatched from the capital to track the foreigners.

However, none of the runaways could be located.

“The foreigner bastards who don’t appreciate the kingdom’s grace are worse than animals.”

“We cannot count on those who may run away without warning.”

The public opinion of foreigners, already negative as a result of the Nordic civil war, further worsened. Even the supportive royal family could not completely block these new accusations.

“The vanished foreigners have been converted by the Nordic rebels.”

As the situation further deteriorated, the nobles somehow realized the foreigners’ destination. And at the same time, rumors about Seon-Hyeok began to circulate.

“It has been confirmed that the Nordic rebels who infiltrated Adenburg and took the foreigners also visited Earl Drachen’s territory.”

“Earl Drachen is also a foreigner, so can he be trusted?”

They could not openly and explicitly treat him as a potential traitor like the other foreigners, but their intent was clear.

“Does that damned bastard think I’m messing around?”

Seon-Hyeok grew infuriated at the rumors.

Dong-Jin was clearly well versed in stealth, as he was able to take dozens of foreigners out of the kingdom without leaving a trace. After all, if his movements had not been so discreet, the runaways would not have been able to escape the closed-off borders in the first place.

Given this, it was not difficult to figure out why such rumors had spread. That damned foreigner had leaked his own movements within Adenburg.

Privately, Dong-Jin sought to make the life of the traitor refusing to take part in their justified rebellion more difficult. Publically, he was hoping to make Seon-Hyeok’s position in Adenburg more tenuous, hoping that being ostracized would force him to join the Nordic rebels.

However, there was one factor Dong-Jin had overlooked.

“Whether or not the rebels visited Rheinperle, what is important is where Earl Drachen is now. He continues to protect his territory, and he is a proud earl of Adenburg. If anyone casts doubt on his loyalty by using these baseless rumors as a pretext, they will pay the price for their crimes.”

It was the vote of full confidence that the Adenburg royal family gave him.

Theodore Tiberius Ro Adenstein, the head of House Adenburg, proclaimed that any denigrating Seon-Hyeok’s honor would be identified and punished severely. The nobles, after jumping at the opportunity to criticize the foreigner, were forced to back down out of fear for their own safety.

Unfortunately, the seeds of distrust, once sown, did not easily fade away. This was the situation in Adenburg, where foreigners were treated compassionately, and it was much worse in the other kingdoms.

Across the continent, the foreigners’ standing quickly plummeted.

“Whether or not they chose to rebel, those damned bastards should have stayed in line! They’re trying to make our predicament worse too?”

“They should’ve just sought asylum. They could have lived a normal life in the east.”

Across the continent, foreigners recognized for their abilities criticized the Nordic rebels.

Nonetheless, an exodus began even within these eastern kingdoms. They mostly consisted of the low-tier foreigners struggling to find their place, their skills not valued by their respective kingdoms.

“The Nordic Kingdom must firmly rule over its foreigners so that they cannot rebel!”

“Quickly dispatch your forces to capture and repatriate the foreigners entering your kingdom!”

The eastern kingdoms, having been targeted by the Nordic rebels, protested strongly to the Nordic royal family, but the Daschrute royal family remained silent. The reason was soon revealed to the world.

‘The Nordic Royal Guard and Mages Have Been Defeated.’

‘Danaburg, the Capital of the Nordic Kingdom, Has Fallen.’

‘All Members of House Daschrute Have Been Executed.’

It was not that the Nordic Kingdom did not answer, but rather that they were unable to.

The surviving Nordic nobles, knights, and mages sought asylum in the neighboring kingdoms, where they revealed the seriousness of the current situation. The continent’s northwest fell into a state of complete turmoil.

After all, an entire kingdom had fallen to the foreigners.

“The knights of the Nordic Royal Guard were not afraid of death, but they could not help but fear falling to the rebels.”

Thanks to the survivors, the internal affairs within the Nordic Kingdom came into the light. A senior knight, having survived the final battle in Danaburg, revealed the greatest weapon wielded by the rebels.

“The dead did not remain dead. The fallen rose from the ground to fight for the traitors. How could the knights not fear such a fate? It is the greatest disgrace for a knight to point his sword at his allies.”

“The leader of the rebel army has proclaimed himself the king of the dead. It is possible he has inherited evil, dark magic.”

With that, it was clear why not only the powerful knights and mages, but also the viking warriors known for their bravery, were so helpless in the civil war.

The longer they fought, the more they lost their own, and the greater the enemy numbers became. There was no hope for victory.

The three kingdoms bordering the Nordic Kingdom formed an alliance to invade the fallen kingdom. They claimed that the nobles seeking asylum in their borders were the legitimate rulers of the Nordic Kingdom, and were eager at the thought of controlling Nordic affairs following their conquest. These kingdoms even dispatched their own knights and mages for this goal.

Even until this point, the kingdoms across the continent believed the Nordic rebellion would be resolved quickly.

After all, the three kingdoms had mobilized nine knight units and six mage units. This force was equal to the total military might of a small kingdom.

However, contrary to what the kingdoms anticipated, the Nordic rebels persisted.

‘Park Sang-Jin, the King of the Dead.’

‘Lee Seo-Ra, the Sorceress of Red Flame.’

‘Han Sung-Woong, the Knight of the Flash.’

‘Cho Cheol-Hyun, the Priest of Darkness.’

The high-tier foreigners, having leveled up through repeated battles, began to gain notoriety after reaching their 2nd and 3rd class advancements. The alliance of the three kingdoms faltered against their might, and for every step they advanced, they were forced to take one back. By this point, the pre-intervention calculations of swallowing up the Nordic Kingdom were completely out of their minds.

The nearby kingdoms in the north and west all entered a state of emergency, as they cracked down on their own foreigners. At the same time, they put their knights and mages on standby for any potential disturbances.

Even the geographically distant kingdoms to the south and east nervously watched these developments, sensing the impending clouds of war.

Despite all of this, the Adenburg Kingdom did not delay the engagement between Seon-Hyeok and the royal princess, and the date quickly approached.

[I have caused you much pain because I failed to control my emotions. It is entirely my fault.]

About a month before his engagement, Seon-Hyeok was able to reconnect with the dragon after forcibly ending their communications.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter