Episode 206. The Great Escape (2)

Despite fighting a thousand demonic beings alone, the noble somehow seemed relaxed. John imagined that he was quite the individual from the moment he was first seen riding around on a strange, winged monster, but the noble’s skills were beyond comprehension.

But the noble’s composure did not last as incomparably larger and more ferocious demonic creatures began to enter the fray.

It was a desperate struggle, but despite this, the noble on the winged monster steadily reduced the number of his enemies.

“Is that the knight we’ve only heard about?”

“Incredible.”

The men forgot their purpose in running all the way here, and they admired the battle causing craters to form in the ground and boulders to crumble to dust.

“But he could just flee through the air, so why is he going through all that trouble?”

It was strange. The winged beast he rode seemed capable of escaping at any moment. John could not understand why the noble was fighting so desperately on the ground.

While the other men tilted their heads in confusion and were raptured by the sheer power displayed in the battle, John was the first to realize why the man did escape to the skies.

“It can’t be…”

John vigorously shook his head.

He could not accept the one explanation that came to mind.

“That’s not possible. Those noble bastards only think about themselves…”

But the thought lingered in his head no matter how much he tried to shake off these delusions.

Many monsters were preoccupied with the fighting, but even more continued to surge forth. The noble, even while struggling against the large and ferocious creatures, was constantly re-positioning himself to impede their movement.

It looked as though he was blocking the monsters’ path.

“Ah…”

John let out a groan as he extrapolated the monsters’ direction.

They were relentlessly pushing forward in the direction John and the other men had just come from. He belatedly realized what was at the end of their goal.

The refugees. The tens of thousands of people leaving the mystical forest. That’s where the monsters are headed.

He could not believe it even while witnessing the scene himself. He almost laughed out in incredulity.

“Is he an idiot?”

Misunderstanding John’s laugh, the others mocked the noble exchanging blows with the monsters.

However, before long, even they realized the reason behind the battle before their eyes.

“Don’t tell me what I’m thinking right now is correct…”

“I can’t believe it myself…”

Whenever they saw him disappearing from their ranks, the men imagined he was trying to find a safe haven for himself.

“It can’t be that this whole time…”

But they had been mistaken.

The procession had never been attacked in this hell not because they were lucky.

It was because this person was taking the initiative to take care of the monsters ahead of time.

The first feeling they felt upon realizing this was not a deep appreciation and gratitude for the noble’s dedication, but rather a sense of hopelessness.

“Uh… then what do we do now?”

The safe refuge they ran away for was, in reality, a terrible battlefield full of monsters. They could not help but panic.

Having lost their goal, they were truly at a loss.

And while they dawdled, the smaller monsters pushed out of the fight by their more ferocious counterparts turned towards them.

Growl.

Seeing the disorganized men, the monsters began to drool and growl at the prospect of easier prey.

“Huh?”

Feeling a sudden, spine-chilling sensation, John turned his head and immediately froze upon seeing the monsters creeping towards them.

“What are you doing?”

“Why are you all of a sudden…”

The others, turning after seeing John’s horrified expression, likewise paled at the sight of the monsters.

“Shit… I think we’re screwed…”

“Damn it…”

Even at a first glance, these monsters seemed light-footed and difficult to shake off by running. The men despaired, belatedly realizing they had come all this way to their own deaths.

“What the hell are you doing! If you have time to stare, run!”

John was the first to come to his senses. He pressed on the men frozen by the monsters’ malice, immediately turned around, and ran.

Growl.

Seeing their prey fleeing, the monsters began to kick at the ground and jump up.

This was their signal.

The monsters, slow-moving up until now, suddenly began to run alongside the already-charging horde.

“Why all of a sudden…”

Seon-Hyeok, while dealing with three demonic creatures surrounding him, frowned as he noticed the other, more relaxed beings suddenly begin to run about.

“Refugees?”

His expression was one of bewilderment as he saw that the demonic beings were rushing towards men running away in a panic.

Why are they here...

His body reacted before he could answer the question that popped up in his head. After lunging forward and pushing the demonic creatures off, Seon-Hyeok pulled on Redvern’s reins.

Shriek.

Redvern shrieked as it flew high into the sky, passing by the demonic beings to catch up to the running refugees.

“M, my Lord…”

Perhaps it was because of their sins, but the refugees looked shocked, as though they had come face to face with the grim reaper himself.

“Talk later!”

Seon-Hyeok ignored them and jumped off of Redvern.

“Get on!”

It was impossible for these ordinary men without any special abilities to evade the monsters.

He wondered a great number of things in that brief moment, but his decision was already made.

He decided to save these foolish people.

Redvern! Take them to Najima!”

The ill-tempered wyvern cried bitterly in displeasure at the thought of allowing others on its back, but obeyed upon seeing its master’s narrowed eyes.

But it was inevitable that the monster would carry out the order in a rough and uncaring manner.

“A, ack!”

“S, save us!”

Redvern listened to Seon-Hyeok’s command by snapping the men up with its sharp jaw, or by grabbing them two or three at a time using its claws covered with the flesh and guts of the demonic beings.

Thanks to this, the men cried out in pain as they were bitten and scratched, but neither Seon-Hyeok nor Redvern paid them any mind.

“Hurry! You have to return quickly!”

Before he could even finish giving the command, Redvern flew up into the air and disappeared into the distance.

“Well, things sure turned for the worse.”

Seon-Hyeok’s expression was rigid as he sent the refugees back.

The situation was truly unfavorable.

There were still over 300 demonic beings left to take care of, as well as the three demons, each stronger than all of the lesser beings combined.

In that situation, he had lost his most reliable partner, Redvern.

“But that’s not the real problem…”

If that was all, today’s battle would simply live on in his memories as a rather arduous struggle.

He had not yet used the true power of the dragon knight, and he had enough strength to push through this challenge.

Nevertheless, his expression was dark. It was because of the ominous energy slowly growing from afar.

The great malice he sensed on the day the Mother Tree died was watching from somewhere.

Shrewd bastard.

It was clear his opponent was waiting for him to use all of his hidden cards and show signs of weakness. It was like when he fought against the sly demonic creature, the manticore, on the outskirts of the Dark Lord’s realm.

And once again, Seon-Hyeok decided to lure in his opponent like he did with the manticore.

Now that he was forced to send Redvern away to evacuate the suddenly present refugees, he would certainly look to be in a moment of crisis.

It was a plausible scene.

Though unintentional, the circumstances were now such that the enemy was likely to emerge.

All that remained for him to do was to deal the final blow to attract the timid opponent resolutely watching from the shadows.

And it would be easy to do so with a bit of acting.

Seon-Hyeok threw himself into the tsunami of demonic beings and began frantically swinging his spear.

***

The monster threw off the refugees before even landing, as though they were just a nuisance.

“Ack!”

Naturally, John and the other men were unprepared and ended up rolling on the ground.

“My arm! My arm!”

“Ahh! Save me!”

Now a bloodied mess thanks to the monster’s rough means(?) of transport, the men grabbed their bodies and screamed in pain.

John also felt the pain of his wounds, but he could not bring himself to cry out. He felt it would be too unseemly to scream in this situation.

His heart would not have felt so heavy if the noble had at least cursed at them. But instead, the man had willingly offered them his own mount instead of assigning blame for breaking away from the great procession.

And he had remained alone among the countless monsters.

That final image was still clearly visible in his mind, and thus, he did not cry out despite his pain.

“Wait.”

While the men screamed in agony, a masked fairy approached. She was the female fairy always at the noble’s side.

“Why did you come here on Redvern? Why isn’t he with you?”

Hearing the rapid-fire questions, the men holding onto their wounds and moaning quickly glanced at one another.

“A, about that. We were separated from the group and got lost, and this creature suddenly came and snapped us up.”

The man’s response was quite the spectacle.

“T, that’s correct. I stepped aside because I had to go to the bathroom, but I was dragged back before I could even finish my business.”

“I thought I dropped something…”

What was even more absurd was that not a single individual stepped up to correct the blatant lie.

The fairy’s blue eyes turned icy upon hearing the men’s explanations. She did not take any action, but the cold eyes were enough to shut up the lying men.

“And you?”

After giving the men a cold glare, she turned to John.

Instead of answering, John tightly shut his eyes.

Unlike the others, he had the decency not to unashamedly lie to the Qeisha. But that did not mean he had the courage to tell the hostile fairy the truth.

And so, John decided to keep his mouth shut.

“If.”

But he could not pretend to be oblivious until the very end.

“If anything happens to him.”

A terrible sensation, as though a knife was pointed between his eyes, made it impossible to keep his eyes shut.

Fearing that he would instantly die without warning, John reflexively opened his eyes.

“Ah…”

Fortunately, the fairy was not actually pointing a blade at him. Nonetheless, he could not be relieved.

Instead, the fairy’s sharp and icy eyes were trained on him and kept him pinned down.

“I will kill you all here before the day ends.”

He stiffened up like a frog in front of a snake as he met the fairy’s icy glare.

“And it’s not just you - don’t think that they can avoid the repercussions for your actions.”

John instinctively realized that the fairy was not bluffing.

“So tell me the truth.”

It was their final chance. John glanced at the other men.

There’s no way he’ll come back alive. You saw it too. How can he survive alone against all those monsters? As long as we keep our mouths shut, nobody will know what we did.

Not a word was exchanged between the refugees, but their desperate expressions and gazes told John more than enough.

He felt conflicted for a moment, but it was not hard to reach a decision.

“We…”

If he was destined to die one way or another, he decided to follow his small conscience, one he did not even know existed.

“We thought that he was trying to escape by himself. And so, and so…”

Once he opened his mouth, he began to explain everything in detail as though his earlier hesitation had all been a lie.

“In order to save us, he stayed alone with the monsters…”

Before he could finish his sentence, he felt a strange sensation and brought his hand to his cheeks.

Tears?

He thought his tears had all dried up on the day his homeland became hell, but without realizing it, they were now streaming down his face.

Crying? Me? For a noble?

His thoughts were in turmoil. He felt as though his beliefs, crystallized over his lifetime, had been broken.

“I, I really didn’t know things would be like… no… I really didn’t know. That he would stay there alone… I, I’m sorry!”

It was probably the first time - he thought there would be nothing to be ashamed of if it ensured his own survival, but he could not bear his shame at the moment.

“I, if it’s possible to save him... I, I’ll do anything! W, what can I do? Please tell me what to do!”

The fairy did not respond. She wordlessly judged the direction the winged beast had flown to and quickly left the ranks.

There was no hesitation in the fairy’s footsteps as she ran towards the place the terrible monsters rampaged about.

And not long after she disappeared, something roared from far away.

It was fundamentally different from the ferocious cries of the monsters. The roar was somehow more intense, majestic, and overwhelming.

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