Episode 214. The Dark Lord (1)

Seon-Hyeok learned of the existence of a deeper and greater malice when he encountered the Messenger of Chaos. At that time, he was able to vaguely gauge the power of the Fragment of Chaos.

But at this moment, he could not help but admit it.

He had known nothing. The Messenger of Chaos was nothing in front of a truly great evil.

It was fundamentally different from the minor malice that provoked discomfort. The enormous energy currently approaching simply existed.

But despite this, the refugees froze in place and dropped down, submitting to the unseen force.

“Mother, please protect us…”

“Mother…”

Even the fairies, unshakable even at the prospect of the end of the world, were deathly pale as they gathered near the Eternal Flowers and prayed for their Mother’s protection.

It truly seemed as though the world was about to end.

The Dark Lord had suddenly emerged with his army of the dead and all sorts of horrific beings.

“Ah, this is even bigger than I thought.”

Only Seon-Hyeok maintained his composure in such a dire situation. He neither lost hope in the face of the great evil threatening to devour the world, nor was he intimidated.

He was the dragon’s sole companion in this world. Though he may be weaker than the demon king with his Fragment of Chaos, it was not as though he was individually lacking compared to his counterpart.

“Drakanade.”

As soon as he spoke, Seon-Hyeok abandoned his human form and transformed into a draconian.

“Grr.”

It was not a conscious growl. The draconian’s unusually strong fighting spirit identified the Dark Lord as an enemy and encouraged him.

Once his will grew strong, it became an aura that enveloped him and a light that repelled the surrounding demonic energy.

A brilliant light spread out in all directions.

And at that moment, the air, previously suppressed by an irresistible evil, suddenly changed.

The refugees, shaking while flat on their stomachs as though they were facing apocalypse, raised their heads and flocked to his side one-by-one. The Qeishas carried the inheritance given by the Mother Tree and also came to him.

“Grrrrr.”

Seon-Hyeok continued to let out a throat-scratching growl.

Growl.

The low growl soon became a howl that resonated throughout the area.

At this moment, it was neither demonic energy nor malice that dominated the space.

It was no longer a land ruled by the Dark Lord, but rather indisputably one controlled by the dragon’s will.

“Seon-Hyeok!”

Najima, after seemingly having given up on everything in the presence of the irresistible evil, spoke in an overwhelmed voice as she saw the shining, golden draconian.

Her eyes no longer showed the despair from before.

“Prepare for battle!”

The same held true for the other Qeishas. They remembered they had a powerful ally at their side and grabbed their bows.

“We’ll help!”

It did not matter the size of the demonic horde swarming the area, or the powerful energy of the Dark Lord. They were convinced that they could handle any obstacle alongside the dragon knight.

The Qeishas tightened their grips on their bows as they awaited Seon-Hyeok’s order. They were prepared to rush in without hesitation against the tens of thousands of foes when given the command.

However, Seon-Hyeok’s first words after his long howl were completely against their expectations.

“I’ll buy you some time.”

“Huh?”

The draconian’s voice was still full of fighting spirit, and thus, Najima could not understand what he was saying.

“It won’t be much. So hurry up and move east with the refugees.”

“Seon-Hyeok, what are you…”

“I can’t hold them all.”

He did not allow her to ask questions.

“I’ll try to hold as many of them back as possible, but it’ll be difficult. The Dark Lord won’t sit back and watch that happen.”

Seon-Hyeok quickly poured out instructions as though he was being pursued by something.

“It’s fine if you take a detour, or if it takes a long time. Just make sure you get as far away from here as possible.”

The eyes and movements of the draconian were full of determination, but he continued to give commands as though he was preparing for the end.

“If the worst comes to pass, you can decide what happens to them. Your tribe also has its responsibilities.”

Realizing this, Najima began to panic. She worried that her eternal companion would remain here alone and sacrifice himself for those selfish humans.

“I’ll stay.”

Najima gritted her teeth and tried to convince him, but he remained resolute.

“You have to safely transport the Mother Tree’s seedlings.”

“Then just me! My tribe can continue on their own!”

“This isn’t the time for stubbornness. You’ll only be a burden if you stay.”

Najima was forced to hold back her tears and follow his decision upon hearing that she would be nothing more than a burden.

“Don’t worry about such unnecessary things. I have no intention of dying here either.”

All she could believe in now was his promise to return.

“So go on. I can’t hold it back anymore.”

Najima turned around as she saw Seon-Hyeok grit his teeth and struggle to continue the conversation.

“Make sure you return. If you don’t, we’ll leave them behind.”

Had it not been for the refugees, they likely could have escaped the Dark Lord’s territory long ago. Najima truly blamed the selfish masses.

Instead of responding, Seon-Hyeok quickly waved his hand and raised his arm, holding the wooden spear in a reverse grip. He immediately drove the weapon into the ground.

An energy full of life spread through the blackened land and showed Najima the path forward.

“He will definitely return, so don’t worry.”

“The Mother chose him. There is no way such a person would meet his end in a place like this.”

The Qeishas, understanding Najima’s feelings as she was forced to leave behind her partner, briefly comforted her.

She nodded helplessly at their words before summoning John, now the de facto representative of the refugees.

“There will be no further consideration. Keep in mind that you are the only ones capable of preventing yourselves from falling behind.”

The quick-witted John immediately understood how precarious the current situation was, as he began to urge the refugees on.

“Drop all of your belongings and walk as quickly as possible! Any stragglers will truly be left behind!”

The other refugees likewise realized that John’s commands were not empty words, as they moved forward with grim expressions on their faces.

With that, a hellish march began.

Najima’s words were no exaggeration. The Qeishas had moved in pace with the refugees up to this point, but they now quickly outpaced them with their characteristic, light footsteps.

“Remember what I said earlier.”

Najima glanced at John, located towards the front of the refugees, and quickly spoke before following her tribe.

“Hurry up, you slackers!”

“Do you want to delay after coming all this way and end up in a monster’s stomach?”

Even before John’s urging, the refugees followed the Qeishas in a near run. They abandoned all of the belongings they stubbornly kept during the previous journey.

“T, this is too fast!”

John grew anxious as the Qeishas accelerated from a light walk into a run.

Even though he knew it was shameless, he could not help but beg.

The fairies did not even pretend to listen to him, as they continued to run forward.

“Hurry up!”

John looked back at the refugees and shouted. He worried that the Qeishas were trying to abandon them on purpose.

“But if any of you abandon the group to survive on your own, know that the Lord will not forgive you when he returns!”

However, even in such a situation, John was not sure of the consequences of leaving behind the children, women, and the elderly. Despite being out of breath, he urged the refugees to take care of the weak.

Najima did not slow down her tribe despite seeing the struggling masses.

Of course, it was not that the Qeishas were trying to abandon them. Rather, there was something they needed to take care of from the vanguard.

“Get ready!”

At the command of the old Qeisha running at the very front, the others bent their backs to the fullest. It was a truly acrobatic maneuver, getting into a firing position without slowing down.

“Fire!”

A thousand arrows rose high into the sky at the Qeisha’s command.

“Again!”

Even before the tremors of the first volley subsided, the Qeishas fired another volley of arrows.

Whoosh!

Despite running at a pace difficult for the refugees to even follow, the fairies were able to exhibit an amazing talent for firing arrows nonstop.

Shriek!

Around the time the first volley of arrows returned to the ground, countless demonic beings screamed in the distance.

That was the beginning.

Screams and groans continued to rise up from the front. They were from the demonic horde blocking the refugees’ path.

The Qeishas continued to fire their arrows, and eventually, they all saw the army of demonic beings scattered on the ground and peppered with arrows.

“Oh no…”

As the Qeishas had fired their projectiles higher than usual to extend their range, the arrows lacked the necessary penetrative force. As a result of this, despite the fairies’ excellent marksmanship, there were more enemies blocking their path than expected.

For the Qeishas themselves, it would be simple to break through enemy lines, but the problem was what would happen to the refugees trailing them.

What to do?

Volleys fired while running were not powerful enough. In order to demonstrate their usual destructive force, they would need to stop in place to attack.

In the moment they pondered about their course of action, a red flame shot out from an unexpected direction and hit the center of the enemy.

“Ah…”

Najima was immediately able to discern the owner of this sulfurous flame.

You can’t. It’d only be a burden to go back.

She was still desperate to go back and assist him. She forced herself to continue her slowing footsteps and pointed an arrow at the remaining enemies.

***

“Whew. Whew.”

Having confirmed that the Qeishas were handling the remaining enemies after he opened up a path for them, Seon-Hyeok took a deep breath and turned around.

From here on out, he needed to put his faith in them. No, even if they were forced to abandon a significant portion of the refugees due to their lacking strength, there was nothing he could personally do about the situation.

His responsibility was not in dealing with the demonic horde blocking the refugees’ path forward, but rather the great malice approaching him.

“Joon-Min has to fight a guy like this? I feel bad for him.”

The Dark Lord’s energy was so strong that he pitied the warrior destined to face him.

But that was all.

Seon-Hyeok showed neither a sense of difficulty in being left alone in the endless armies of evil, nor a feeling of crisis in the face of the great enemy before him.

Grin.

The drake-like snout instead broke out in a grin.

It was a fierce smile befitting his draconian visage, and his new form’s suppressed instincts began to bubble up to the surface.

This was the disposition he had to constantly fight after gaining the draconian transformation ability - the self-restraint he had to show up until this point as a person with a great number of responsibilities.

Roar!

With a roar fiercer than ever before, the draconian’s violent nature was completely freed from its shackles. The clear energy surrounding him changed completely.

It grew wilder and more primal in nature - it was the instinctual fighting spirit of a wild animal.

This was the reason he had to send away the Qeishas first, and this was the greatest weapon he could wield as a dragon knight facing the mighty demon king.

Crunch.

His snout became even longer, and the sharp teeth he kept hidden revealed themselves. His shoulders, already unusually broad, became even wider as his back bent violently.

It called forth images of the dragon - his draconian form, closer to human than dragon until now, became wilder in nature.

“Grrr.”

The fierce beast growled threateningly, and at that moment, the Dark Lord finally revealed himself, surrounded by his demons and lesser servants.

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