Episode 179. The Hopeless Warrior (1)

Seon-Hyeok descended slowly on Redvern. He wanted to get a closer look at the master of the Holy Sword.

“Ugh. I think I’m going to die.”

The warrior was groaning on the ground, not caring about Seon-Hyeok approaching. It was hard to believe he was responsible for the holy miracle not long ago.

However, Seon-Hyeok knew that the aura coming from the warrior was real. It was not as explosive as it had been during the battle, but it was clearly the antithesis of demonic energy.

The warrior he saw from closer up was more ordinary than he expected. He had an average physique and impression. His only unique feature was his black hair, uncommon in this world.

Another foreigner?

The relatively low nose and thicker eyelids were unlike the people of this world, and more typically East Asian. Seon-Hyeok grew certain of this mysterious man’s background as he continued to watch.

“Hm?”

However, the warrior’s behavior seemed strange.

“What? Dragon Rider? Ah, so that’s the famous… it’s not that strange I couldn’t recognize him, why are you…”

The warrior lying on the ground was constantly mumbling to himself. It was though he was speaking to someone.

“Don’t answer? Why? Hey, you’re the one talking to me! Ah, fine. I get it.”

The warrior lowered his voice, but for Seon-Hyeok, with his sensitive hearing after entering a contract with Atiya, it was just as clear as if he was speaking next to him.

“He can hear everything? Even though he’s so far away? Really?”

The warrior glanced in Seon-Hyeok’s direction.

“I don’t think he heard?”

Seon-Hyeok was bewildered. The warrior seemed to have some screws loose.

After muttering to himself for a while, the warrior jumped up and reached out.

“Nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to mee…”

“Will you be my comrade?”

What’s he saying now?

Seon-Hyeok looked on in confusion at the sudden remark, but the warrior simply covered his ears and frowned, unconcerned about Seon-Hyeok’s reaction.

“... isn’t that what it is?”

It was an inexplicable attitude, and anyone else would have treated the warrior as crazy and tried to distance themselves from him.

But Seon-Hyeok was different.

He, too, occasionally spoke with an invisible being. These times were when he spoke with the dragon, his companion and source of his strength.

Seon-Hyeok looked at the greatsword the warrior refused to let go of.

“Are you talking to the sword?”

The warrior’s eyes grew wide at the comment. It was as though someone had discovered a secret he was desperate to keep hidden.

“I’m not.”

The warrior’s answer as he reluctantly let go of the sword was far from convincing. Naturally, Seon-Hyeok did not believe him for an instant.

Shake.

The warrior shook his head desperately as Seon-Hyeok stared at him.

“Holy Sword.”

“It’s not a holy sword.”

Flinching at the words ‘Holy Sword’, the warrior feigned ignorance in a trembling voice.

Whoosh.

At that moment, the Holy Sword the warrior let go of suddenly trembled. The warrior’s eyes likewise shook wildly.

“Ah, guess I can’t do anything about it now. You’re correct. I’m Park Joon-Min, the owner of ‘Balmung’, the Holy Sword.”

Park Joon-Min looked ridiculous. After all of his pretending, he now openly confessed his identity and that of his greatsword like he was sharing some great secret.

“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Kim Seon-Hyeok.”

“I can call you Seon-Hyeok hyung, right?”

Joon-Min’s attitude was almost capricious as he quickly pretended to be close and friendly.

“In any case, I was able to deal with that troublesome beast thanks to you. I haven’t been able to eat or sleep properly in days trying to catch it.”

Seon-Hyeok was not too dissatisfied with the man immediately referring to him as ‘hyung’ without waiting for an answer.

“Every time I tried to finish it off, it’d escape. It was a pain to chase because it was so fast.”

Despite pretending to be tight-lipped, Joon-Min was quite talkative once he started speaking.

“Ugh.”

Seon-Hyeok’s head began to hurt.

The conversation with Joon-Min was truly chaotic. The warrior would suddenly stop talking and stare at his greatsword intermittently, and he would randomly change topics and speak only about what he wanted to say. It was genuinely difficult to follow the conversation.

Seon-Hyeok was almost worried about the man’s mental state.

But regardless, he was able to gather some information from the fragmented conversation.

“I was treated like complete trash until I found Balmung! Do you know how much I was looked down on because I couldn’t do as much as a normal swordsman?”

First and foremost, Joon-Min revealed that he was little more than a low-tier foreigner until not long ago, and that it was only recently that he gained control over the powerful holy light he used against the banshee.

In fact, his prolonged fight against the banshee was the first time using his abilities in a real battle. In that sense, it was not unusual that Joon-Min lacked self-awareness as a warrior.

“Wait.”

Seon-Hyeok suddenly had a question as he listened to the foreigner’s story.

It might not be to the same degree as the Adenburg Kingdom, but the eastern kingdoms generally treated foreigners as important. Their valuation of these assets might be different, but they all recognized the foreigners’ latent potential.

But somehow, Joon-Min seemed unusually free considering his abilities. There were no signs of his affiliation, and he did not reveal which kingdom he called home.

“Where do you belong?”

The talkative Joon-Min avoided responding for the first time. Seon-Hyeok was immediately able to grasp the situation by looking at the foreigner’s expression.

“You’re a deserter, aren’t you?”

Joon-Min did not respond, but Seon-Hyeok was certain.

The warrior was a deserter.

“You really are hopeless.”

Seon-Hyeok could tell from the moment the foreigner openly spoke about his situation without reservation. The warrior did not just seem foolish - he truly was foolish.

“But if I hadn’t done that, I’d have been stuck in the barracks just waiting for the demons to come! It’s not my home in the first place - what love should I have for the people who treated me so poorly!”

Joon-Min’s feelings were understandable. As he said, this world was not their home, and they likewise did not have any connections to the kingdoms here.

There was no reason to feel loyalty or a sense of belonging for the sake of doing so.

But at the same time, considering the high valuation of foreigners in the eastern kingdoms, it was also true that Joon-Min’s decision to desert felt shortsighted.

“Well, way to cross the border safely.”

“It’s all thanks to Balmung.”

Joon-Min’s expression was easygoing as he proudly responded.

“But should you be saying all that to me? It’s the first time we met.”

Although they fought side by side against the demonic beast, Joon-Min and Seon-Hyeok were strangers. They did not have the relationship to have such a deep conversation.

Instead of responding, Joon-Min clutched his greatsword. From his occasional nodding and mumbling, it was clear he was speaking to Balmung.

“Hm. Well since things are like this, I’d like to ask you for a favor.”

Setting Balmung down after a while, Joon-Min looked at him with a pleasant expression.

“Hyung. Please give me a ride.”

Seon-Hyeok was speechless. Joon-Min was acting like he was flagging a taxi.

“Hyung, aren’t you heading west?”

“That’s true, but…”

His thoughts began to race.

“Why are you headed west?”

“It’s because of the Dark Lord, of course.”

The answer was what he expected, but Seon-Hyeok had lingering questions.

Joon-Min had rolled on the ground groaning after dealing with a single demonic creature. Seon-Hyeok was not in a position to criticize, considering he could not defeat the banshee after an entire day of fighting, but it was clear the warrior was lacking compared to the Dark Lord.

“I know what you’re worried about.”

Joon-Min picked up the discarded Balmung and stepped towards the tainted land.

“I’m definitely weak right now. But…”

He seemed nonchalant even as he stepped on the cursed ground which would threaten any daring to traverse it.

“Just because I’m weak today…”

He raised the Holy Sword high up in the sky before driving it down into the ground.

“Doesn’t mean I’ll be weak tomorrow.”

Light exploded from Balmung.

Whoosh!

The warrior’s aura suddenly fluctuated as the brilliant, holy light began to devour the black energy covering the polluted land.

“Balmung, the Devourer of Demonic Energy.”

Joon-Min was smiling as he stood at the center of the holy light reaching up to the sky.

“And I’m Balmung’s master - the mortal enemy of the Dark Lord.”

The now more intense holy light completely covered the area.

Balmung greedily devoured the demonic energy, and it did not take long for the ominous energy to completely disappear.

The energy devoured by the greatsword became nutrients for the warrior’s growth.

“Oh! Level up!”

Joon-Min shouted excitedly as he jumped up and down.

“Hell yeah! That was fast!”

Seon-Hyeok was left speechless as he watched the benefactor of the energy making a fuss.

Joon-Min had been correct. The warrior was relatively weak when he fought against the banshee, but he could not be considered weak any longer. A single instance of absorbing demonic energy allowed this broken class to progress at a tremendous rate.

Moreover, it was not only the warrior benefitting from the situation.

Balmung, the straight and plain-looking greatsword, completely changed. A fist-sized golden bead appeared beneath the hilt, and a wave-shaped guard now extended above. The white sword, somehow made from a lump of dark metal, now looked sharper and holier than ever.

“Well, that’s completely ridicu…”

Seon-Hyeok shut his mouth as he unknowingly blurted out a half-admiring and half-disbelieving sound. 

After all, the dragon rider was no less broken a class. The difference between them was that this warrior’s class was specialized in dealing with the Dark Lord and his subordinates.

[He who accepts his own destiny is given appropriate rewards.]

The small fairy dragon approached during this time and whispered to him.

When he heard Geheimnis’ voice, all the complex emotions floating through Seon-Hyeok’s head disappeared - all except one.

The only feeling that remained was one of mistrust.

“I don’t care what it is you’re up to.”

Seon-Hyeok growled in a low voice as he glanced towards the warrior, seemingly busy checking his stats after his level-up.

“But if you’re working with me, then get your attitude straight.”

Even if his contract with Geheimnis put the fairy dragon in a different position compared to the other dragon subspecies, which were more subservient to him, the creature was acting out of line. Even ignoring the fact that she notified him of an enemy’s approach too late, her words and actions were unnecessarily insidious. It seemed as though she had an ulterior motive.

“And if you don’t like it, you can leave.”

If Geheimnis really left because of what he said, it would be impossible to locate the dragon subspecies currently in the western part of the continent. Seon-Hyeok was well aware of this fact, but he was not worried.

It was clear the fairy dragon had been promised something by the dragon in return for helping the dragon rider. As such, he was convinced that this devious creature would not leave him.

[I…]

The small dragon showed bewilderment for the first time, taken aback by the sudden ultimatum.

“I’m not telling you to submit, nor am I asking much of you.”

What Seon-Hyeok wanted was a truly reliable helper, not an insidious companion. All he hoped for was the fairy dragon to be a little more trustworthy.

[I will accept your suggestion.]

The hesitation Geheimnis showed in offering this simple answer made it clear she was up to something.

“Okay. I’ll believe you.”

However, instead of pushing the beleaguered fairy dragon even further, Seon-Hyeok decided to compromise at a reasonable point. This concession would be enough for now.

‘Master! There are people approaching from afar!’

Turning at the sound of Atiya’s voice, Seon-Hyeok was able to notice dust clouds rising up from far away.

“Park Joon-Min.”

“Yes, hyung!”

Still yet to shake off the lingering effects of the sudden level-up, Joon-Min excitedly answered.

“There are people approaching.”

Seon-Hyeok conveyed the warning that there were others closing in with little thought. However, Joon-Min’s reaction was very strange.

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