Episode 186. Great Wyrm (3)

Having discovered that the west was completely tainted by demonic energy and informed the entire continent with the help of the Iberian Alliance, Seon-Hyeok immediately set out west.

At first, he imagined it would be simple to locate the dragon subspecies given that he was accompanied by the fairy dragon. However, events did not proceed as planned.

The cursed land dense with demonic energy dulled the fairy dragon’s senses, and Geheimnis was only able to give rough estimates of the creature’s direction and distance.

He scoured the skies in all directions. He flew to wherever he thought a dragon might call home. However, the creature was not easily found, and oddly, he instead came in contact with the survivors from the west.

Seeing these survivors half resigned to their fate after being suppressed by the demonic energy, Seon-Hyeok was forced to agonize over his subsequent course of action. Despite this, his answer was as good as decided.

He stopped searching for the dragon subspecies and began transporting the survivors. Fortunately, the griffins were large and strong enough to carry several people at once.

And so, his party flew to the Holy Kingdom. They instinctively felt that the priests of Astoria would be needed to treat those significantly contaminated by demonic energy.

An accident occurred during this process.

Shortly after escaping the cursed land, the survivors had started convulsing. The priests belatedly informed him that these were the withdrawal symptoms after detaching oneself from demonic energy, and they immediately volunteered to resolve the situation.

“Are there other survivors as well?”

Seon-Hyeok unknowingly bowed his head at the sudden question. He berated himself for ignoring the existence of survivors for the sake of his own exploration.

Why am I looking for these dragon subspecies?

At first, he had wanted to become stronger. He believed this to be the only way he would no longer be swayed by others or die in vain on the battlefield.

But what about now?

He was now married to the sole heir to the Adenburg throne, and he himself possessed the highest noble rank attainable. In addition, he had laid an enviable foundation upon which he could live the rest of his life without difficulty.

Social authority, individual strength, and immense wealth. Seon-Hyeok was now in possession of all three. He no wonder worried about being dragged around by others, nor was he in danger of suffering a violent death.

And yet, he was supremely focused on getting another dragon subspecies under his control.

[If you delay any longer, the remaining dragon will be corrupted as well. You need to hurry.]

Only after Geheimnis spoke did Seon-Hyeok realize why he had such a single-minded focus on this objective.

It was because of the damned time limit. Since one of these creatures had already fallen under the Dark Lord’s control, he was desperate to protect the remaining one.

The moment he understood this, Seon-Hyeok quickly set his priorities straight.

“I will rescue the rest of the survivors.”

When it came down to it, the survivors were nothing more than strangers to the priest. Despite this, the priest repeatedly thanked him and praised his bravery.

For Seon-Hyeok, this behavior almost felt like criticism. He unknowingly avoided the priest’s clear eyes, as they stared at him as though he was a savior.

It’s embarrassing. So embarrassing. I don’t want to be so embarrassed anymore.

And so, he turned down the priests’ suggestion to rest at the temple and immediately headed back west.

With that, he once again initiated his search. This time, he was not looking for the missing creature, but the western people surviving in spite of the terrible demonic energy.

This was by no means easy. It was exceedingly difficult finding individuals hiding from the demons and the undead.

Atiya and the other spirits were reluctant to act on the cursed realm, and their powers were severely restricted. As a result, Seon-Hyeok was forced to search for the survivors using only his own eyes and ears.

[You will come to regret this.]

The fairy dragon disapproved of his focus on searching for survivors. However, he ignored all of these complaints.

He continued to search, and he fortunately found a group of survivors.

His wyvern and the griffins busily traveled back and forth between Astoria and the Dark Lord’s territory, carrying with them as many people as possible.

However, his efforts were not enough.

Redvern and the two griffins were faster and fiercer than any land creature, but they were ill suited for rescue efforts. They were too limited in the number of survivors they could transport at once.

There was only one solution. Seon-Hyeok needed a means of carrying more people at any given time.

What he needed was Goldrake.

He used his Call Dragon ability, and he waited for Goldrake to arrive as soon as possible.

In the meantime, he continued to rescue the survivors. As he proceeded with these rescue efforts, he was able to find traces of the missing dragon subspecies he had half given up on locating.

[It was hard to track it because its energy was so faint. To think that it would be Red Wyrm!]

Geheimnis was delighted to find a massive hole in the ground.

The hole was so black that it even stood out in the rotting land, and this cave resembled a burning awl.

The fairy dragon explained that the pit was indicative of the Red Wyrm, which lived by feeding on the heat deep within the ground.

Seon-Hyeok momentarily wondered what to do, but he did not turn a blind eye to the gift he had been given. He figured the resident of this massive cave would be of help in rescuing the survivors.

Having found traces of the creature, Geheimnis no longer wandered aimlessly and quickly found the cave’s owner.

***

“And that’s this creature right here.”

Seon-Hyeok pointed to the giant monster rising up like a tower.

“The color’s a bit strange for a Red Wyrm…”

The group had been wordlessly listening to his story, but they could not help but interject at this moment.

“That’s because it’s been contaminated by demonic energy.”

Seon-Hyeok let out a sigh.

“Luckily, I was able to find these survivors, and I was able to use Red Wyrm’s tunnels to move underground and beyond the reach of the demonic horde.”

Red Wyrm’s burrows were everywhere. He thought that he could perhaps escape the Dark Lord’s realm without being attacked by the creatures on the surface.

Unfortunately, events did not proceed as planned.

At first, Red Wyrm’s crimson body began to grow darker, and at some point, it became pitch black. At this point, the creature suddenly went berserk.

Seon-Hyeok and his group ran like crazy to avoid dying buried alive in a cave, and they eventually found themselves on the surface once again.

When they did, what awaited them were countless demonic beings and the army of the dead.

“You saw what happened next. We fought desperately, but there were far too many foes.”

“Then what’s that light…”

Hearing the old priest’s question, Seon-Hyeok looked towards Red Wyrm’s head far up in the sky.

“I’m not responsible for that light pillar…”

He looked towards Park Joon-Min, standing motionless after driving his greatsword, Balmung, into the monster’s head.

“That was my friend.”

***

“This creature is important to you, right?”

Joon-Min asked as he watched Red Wyrm thrashing about, looking to destroy everything in the area.

“Huh?”

Busy dealing with the incoming waves of enemies, Seon-Hyeok was unable to properly answer the question. He could not even understand what the foreigner was getting at.

“Well, it brought you all the way here, hyung. I’ll pretend you answered.”

Seon-Hyeok frowned, wondering what in the hell Joon-Min was talking about.

“If you have time to say such nonsense…”

“Hyung. You owe me one.”

As soon as he spoke, Joon-Min told Lafayette.

“To that monster’s head!”

Lafayette did not move immediately, but rather looked questioningly at Seon-Hyeok.

“Well, do as he asks for now.”

The griffin immediately ascended into the air, and Joon-Min jumped down onto Red Wyrm’s head.

“What are you…”

Before Joon-Min could be stopped, Balmung was embedded into Red Wyrm’s forehead.

Whoosh!

At that moment, holy light spread in all directions, and the thrashing Red Wyrm froze like stone.

“Ah…”

Only then did Seon-Hyeok realize what was happening.

The Holy Sword, Balmung, was a predator of demonic energy. This ravenous weapon was consuming the dark energy penetrating the creature’s body.

***

“A sword that devours demonic energy? It can’t be…”

Upon hearing Seon-Hyeok’s explanation, the old archbishop and the leader of the Templar Knights turned in surprise.

“The Holy Sword, Balmung!”

At this single startled comment from the priest, the Templar Knights all drew their swords and surrounded Red Wyrm.

“To think that the stolen Balmung would be here!”

Joon-Min had said his kingdom did not recognize him as the rightful owner of Balmung, and it seemed he was being honest. The Templar Knights looked at the foreigner with eyes full of hostility, as though he was the scourge of the world.

“You said he’s helping you, so we will wait for the moment.”

Seon-Hyeok sighed as the leader of the knights generously compromised.

“Can anyone use the Holy Sword?”

The old priest shook his head.

“If someone unworthy touches the sword, his lifespan will be cut short.”

The archbishop seemed confident that Joon-Min would soon die in return for presumptuously using the sword’s power.

“Then what about the pillar of light you saw earlier? What would be the price for drawing that much power?”

“The user’s body would crumble to dust in return for using an unacceptable amount of holy energy.”

“Then he should die at any moment now.”

The priest and knight raised their eyebrows, sensing that Seon-Hyeok’s attitude was somewhat strange.

“But to me, he looks perfectly fine.”

Seon-Hyeok continued on as he watched the two men.

“This isn’t the first time he’s borrowed the Holy Sword’s power. I’ve seen it dozens of times already.”

Doubt filled the old priest’s face.

“So, why is he fine?”

His eyes grew wide as he realized what Seon-Hyeok was trying to say.

“It can’t be…”

Seon-Hyeok’s suspicions were realized as he saw the priest’s surprised expression.

Only the highest ranking individuals of the Holy Kingdom know that the warrior, Park Joon-Min, has been chosen by the Holy Sword.

If that was not the case, then the priest was putting on an act worthy of the greatest con artists. However, Seon-Hyeok thought that his eyes and spirit shone far too brightly for this to be the case.

“Can you guarantee that you saw that man repeatedly use the Holy Sword’s power?”

Seon-Hyeok nodded without hesitation when the leader of the Templar Knights, somewhat calmer, yet less trusting, than the old archbishop, sharply asked.

“Of course.”

It was clear he would pay off his debt to Joon-Min sooner than expected.

“We will vouch for him as well.”

Lafayette and Roland had been listening in on the conversation, and they interjected to add weight to Seon-Hyeok’s claims.

“I know you have a lot of questions, but please wait a bit.”

Seon-Hyeok pointed at the sky as he watched the bewildered priest wordlessly open and close his mouth.

“It seems like the person in question is about to get up.”

Joon-Min, after having his eyes shut tightly while clutching Balmung, opened his eyes wide. At the same time, Red Wyrm’s black outer layer began to crumble down onto the ground.

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