“Son Jeong-Tae, Kang Ho-Jung, Park Yeon-Sung. Squads 4, 5, and 6, respectively.”
When addressed, the foreigners moved to locate their respective groups. The only person left was a plain-looking woman.
Realizing her name was not called until the very end, she looked around with an anxious look in her eyes. When they met Seon-Hyeok’s gaze, she immediately looked down.
The other foreigners looked somewhat more enthusiastic after being given the objective of a 2nd class advancement. However, she was different.
Her drooping shoulders showed no hint of a fighting spirit, and her eyes were like those of a dead fish.
Seon-Hyeok empathized with her current appearance. This was exactly what he had looked like in the past, when he was first deployed to the cavalry and given a role unrelated to his class.
She had no abilities to immediately use, and her class offered nothing she could rely on. Hopeless, she would have lived each day in shame and fear, worried about when she would inevitably be sent off into battle.
This would have continued for 3, almost 4, years now. Her despair and frustration would be older and more deeply-rooted than what he had felt in the past.
Seon-Hyeok called on her in a low voice.
Min-Young answered weakly when addressed.
A long time had passed since the other foreigners were assigned to their squads. It was more than enough time for Min-Young to once again bitterly curse her situation and despair.
Ugh. Did I unintentionally dig up old wounds?
Seon-Hyeok gave the foreigner a bitter smile. He was certain she thought she was useless and being abandoned once again.
“You’re squad 7.”
Min-Young had been standing absentmindedly without any expectations, and she looked at the foreigners divided into groups of 10.
The foreigners with battle experience were all in squad 1, and the remainder had been divided into 5 additional groups.
There was no squad 7.
Feeling déjà vu, Min-Young looked discouraged as her head drooped.
“I will personally manage your training.”
She did not respond.
She viewed herself as inferior at best, or possibly even a failure at worst. For her, his decision likely felt like a form of quarantine.
However, Seon-Hyeok did not bother explaining his decision.
The frustration and despair accumulated over the years would not be small enough to alleviate with a few words. He was well aware of this, and thus, he simply did what he needed to.
“Yes, my lord.”
Seon-Hyeok looked over at the foreigners.
Having found a goal to work towards, the foreigners were full of expectations. They were particularly motivated by the idea of a 2nd class advancement as they saw a living success story right in front of their eyes.
“You know what to do, don’t you?”
Clark smirked in place of a response. His smile was neither gentle nor kind.
“Then get started.”
As soon as Seon-Hyeok gave his command, the calm expressions on the cavalry’s faces immediately changed.
“Get in line!”
“Straighten up! Who said you can lean around!”
“Stop rolling your eyes! I’m your instructor! Don’t look anywhere else!”
The cavalry had experienced countless battles, and their shouts were as fierce as the howling of wolves. The foreigners were immediately dazed.
“Work them hard.”
The kind and encouraging Seon-Hyeok who spoke of his own situation and explained their future goals no longer existed.
“Work hard. If you do, you’ll reap the fruits of your efforts.”
He had given them the carrot, and now it was time for the stick.
Led by their instructors, the other foreigners left the area. Even Instructor Gibson left after the others departed.
The only two remaining were Seon-Hyeok and Min-Young.
He called on the woman, still with her head bowed. However, she did not budge, as though she had not heard his call.
He called on her once more. This time, there was a bit of power behind his words.
Surprised, Min-Young raised her head as she responded.
The barely-raised head once again drooped. Seon-Hyeok could not tell what her expression was – he could only see her mouth as it distorted into a grimace.
He guessed the contempt she would feel, but he pressed on.
“Say it clearly. What is your class?”
Forced to answer, Min-Young raised her head in frustration.
“Summoner! I said summoner!” 
Her voice was full of injustice, sorrow, and resentment. It was understandable.
‘Choi Min-Young is a summoner. However, I cannot tell what it is she can summon. She says her class summons illusory beasts, but nobody can explain what these creatures are. It would be great if she could show her abilities… but she has never successfully summoned anything. There was no choice but to designate her as low-tier.’
When he heard Instructor Gibson’s explanation, Seon-Hyeok could not help but recall his own situation.
A dragon rider in a world without dragons. A summoner in a world without summons.
It was exactly the same.
The major difference between them was that the dragon soon revealed her existence, whereas Min-Young still had not met her other half after all these years.
“You’re a summoner incapable of summoning.”
It felt like he was beating a dead horse, and Min-Young’s expression immediately crumpled.
“But I have to tell you.”
Seon-Hyeok smiled as he saw the woman give him a fierce look.
“People said the same thing when I awakened as a dragon rider.”
There was magic, there were spirits, and there were monsters. There just weren’t any dragons.
How much frustration and despair had he felt at those words?
“Nobody believed that the dragon existed. They just laughed at me and mocked me.”
Jeong-Tae and the foreigners on the western front ridiculed him behind his back, asking what the point of being a dragon rider was in a world without dragons. They called his class trash, and that it was worse than being a swordsman.
However, the dragon did exist in this world. The many dragon subspecies he had was evidence of this, and the dragon’s voice he heard from time to time was real.
“So, do you think there is a dragon in this world? Or not?”
Hearing his question, Min-Young’s expression changed, as though she had realized something. An unknown aspiration could be seen in her eyes for the first time.
“D, does the dragon exist?”
Instead of answering, Seon-Hyeok asked back.
“Well, what do you think?”
The foreigners never wanted to think about life in the training camp again, but they were once again dragged back to the chicken coop.
And there, they gained a terrifying realization.
“Move! Don’t rest!”
“I can see your feet, you bastard!”
The training they thought to be hell before was simply basic training and little more than child’s play. They learned that there were far more terrible training methods.
The cavalry accompanying Seon-Hyeok worked them as hard as they could and refused to give them time to rest.
I’m miserable. I’m in pain. I want to run away.
All of the foreigners had the same thoughts. However, they did not act on their desires.
This was not simply because of the red monster circling above their heads, or the giant monster crouched at the entrance to the fortress.
“The only way to reach your 2nd class advancement is to level up.”
Unlike before, when they rolled around in the mud without purpose, they had a clear objective in mind.
I’ll escape from life as a low-tier. I’ll escape from the miserable life as a soldier. I’ll live well as a noble.
If these promises had just been words, they would not have endured to this point.
However, there was a living example of success with them. Seon-Hyeok had reached his goal through his efforts, and now, he was a figure even the native people of Adenburg looked up to.
“There’s no point in crying or complaining. Reality won’t change even if you run away.”
His attitude towards the others was so cold that it was hard to believe they were all foreigners.
Despite this, he was not ruthless in all aspects.
“Is it good? You can eat food like this whenever you want once you reach your 2nd class advancement.”
The food provided to the trainees was incomparably abundant and delicious compared to the rations given when they first arrived in this world. The food back then had been almost inedible, as they were used to the spices, ingredients, and variety available in the other world.
But right now, they were able to treat food as more than simple sustenance.
It was a minor consideration, but even this acted as a significant motivator. The various acts of kindness Seon-Hyeok occasionally showed all served the same purpose.
He would reward squads for their training performance, and these sporadic perks helped support the foreigners through their grueling training.
Of course, not all of the foreigners agreed with this training method.
“That damned bastard. He just got lucky with his class, and look at him all high and mighty.”
“How the hell is a dragon rider low-tier? Look at those monsters. If I had a drake or something, I would live in luxury for the rest of my life too.”
Some complained about Seon-Hyeok’s training regimen, while others blatantly insulted him.
“Anyone who thinks this struggle is unfair can leave.”
As if he perceived everything, Seon-Hyeok singled out and individually spoke with the malcontents. Once he discovered their unwillingness to accept his training, he immediately excused them from participating.
“Oh, this is so much better. Why did I put up with that for so long?”
Although they were prohibited from leaving the fort due to security reasons, these foreigners were more than happy with being excluded from the terrible training.
“Yeah, try working a hundred days. I’m sure you’ll reach your 2nd class advancement.”
They ridiculed the foreigners working diligently under the scorching sun.
However, the foreigners willing to endure did not envy these onlookers.
They, too, could easily run to Seon-Hyeok and request to be excused. That simple act would allow them to enjoy those minor comforts.
Running away was easy. This, in turn, made them realize that the current training was an opportunity that would not come again.
“I have neither the ability nor the inclination to lead those without motivation.”
Seon-Hyeok repeatedly stressed this fact.
The trainees would be the ones to improve through their suffering, and they would be the ones to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Their bodies found the training incredibly difficult. It terrified the foreigners that their fatigue disappeared each night, and their bodies returned to their normal state every morning.
This meticulous regulation of their condition through external forces made it impossible to make excuses to get out of any training.
“Why are you working so hard? Our fates were determined the moment we first awakened.”
“Can’t you see the truth? Nobody’s reached his 2nd class advancement yet, despite how much you’ve all struggled.”
These foreigners’ ridicule made the training even more mentally draining.
The trainees were forced to fight the temptation to quit training. Each and every time, this decision itself proved to be painful.
But time and time again, they gritted their teeth and resisted the temptation. They endured in spite of the increasing difficulty in their training.
It was preferable to suffer here than to live with the native people in their assigned garrisons. Those people despised and harassed them for the crimes committed by the foreigners to the northwest.
At the very least, life in the fort was peaceful.
Moreover, as time passed, the foreigners witnessed their stats increase. Each and every level up felt like a great reward.
Eventually, one of the foreigners became the first to reach his 2nd class advancement in the training fort.
“Congratulations. You’re the first to advance to the 2nd class.”
Seon-Hyeok approached the man surrounded in a brilliant light and reached out to him. The man grasped his hand in a daze.
“Swordsman Lee Soo-Hyuk. What is your 2nd class?”