Episode 22. Cavalry Catching Cavalry Catching Cavalry (2)

Kim Seon-Hyeok welcomed the voice of the dragon who reached out after a long time, but he did not respond. He flopped down onto the ground, trying to suppress his increasing nausea.

[The Sasteins had the ability to eliminate you and your comrades. They were unable to do so because they were unaware of your existence.]

He was triggered by the dragon’s words, which seemed to reprimand him for worrying needlessly about his possible death. However, he once again didn’t respond, knowing that the dragon was correct.

[It is the magnanimity of the strong to have pity on the poor, but that is not a right you currently possess.]

Kim Seon-Hyeok recognized how close this victory was to a fluke.

[It is too early to sit back and calculate the value of your deeds. There are other energies nearby similar to the cavalry you faced today.]

Kim Seon-Hyeok lifted himself up from the ground.

The dragon was not wrong. He had only won a single battle and was still caught up in a war. It was too early to be burdened by guilt.

The important thing was to survive.

[Survive. Survive and reach me, even if it means you have to roll around in the mud and get your hands dirty. Only then will your compassion have meaning and not simply be a product of your arrogance and ignorance.]

His guilt did not disappear. His disgust of the spilled blood and flesh remained. However, this unforgiving world was telling him to continue on.

“This damn world…”

Once he finally accepted reality, the nausea and confusion he had felt disappeared as though it had all been a lie. In their place was a clear desire for survival.

[Grow stronger so that your mere existence is enough to prevent your enemies from drawing their spears and swords. That is the only way to achieve the peace that you seek.]

Kim Seon-Hyeok raised his head at the dragon’s words. Light had returned to his dull, faded eyes.

“I don’t know anything about that.”

His throat was parched and his tone was subdued, and so, his voice sounded deep.

“I’m just going to survive. I won’t die in vain in this shitty world.”

At that moment, his determination ceased to be vague. It became clearly engraved in his head.

[It is wise to distinguish between what you can and cannot accomplish. Your desire falls under the former.]

The voice was gentle for the first time.

[If you do not forget this determination, you will surely be able to reach me. When that time comes, you will be a worthy warrior whom I can proudly call my companion.]

Now that he thought about it, there was something bothering him about the androgynous voice. Belatedly realizing this, Kim Seon-Hyeok asked.

“You’ve been saying companion a lot. Are you a female dragon?”

[…]

The dragon did not respond.

“Seon-Hyeok.”

After exchanging a few more words, the dragon bade farewell. Kim Seon-Hyeok never received his answer, but he could not help but feel as though the dragon was female. If his intuition was wrong and the dragon turned out to be male, he would be shocked.

However, the dragon’s gender was not important at this time. The dragon had said that there were other nearby energies similar to the Sasteins’.

At that moment, Clark called for him. However, Kim Seon-Hyeok hesitated, noticing that he was being called onto the battlefield littered with corpses. He was able to get himself together, but it was not easy to return to the horrific scene he created with his own hands.

“Yes.”

However, Kim Seon-Hyeok could not avoid reality forever. He gritted his teeth and went to see his captain.

“Look at this.”

Clark looked through the pile of corpses and motioned for him to come closer.

“Uh…”

Was Clark intentionally trying to make him uncomfortable? Was Clark trying to reduce the repulsion he felt about his acts by shocking him with the visual aftermath? No, neither proved correct.

“It looks like these Sastein bastards raided a few villages before encountering us or the 27th Regiment. You remember this face, right?”

“I, it can’t be?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok forced his gaze back onto the scene, and he groaned as he saw the eyes distorted in pain.

“That’s right. He’s the village chief that we met during training.”

“H, how could they do this to a powerless commoner?”

“Did you think that they would give up their mobility out of consideration for logistics? Those bastards are accustomed to robbing and kidnapping from even their own people. They wouldn’t treat civilians from an enemy kingdom like human beings.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was enraged. The village chief was an innocent old man who had overlooked it when the foreigner destroyed his store. At that time, he even thanked  Kim Seon-Hyeok for protecting the border. What crime did he commit to deserve this fate?

“This is who the Sastein cavalry and the Noctein Kingdom are. If we retreated or were defeated in battle, more villages would have been devastated.”

Clark pointed towards the horses that had lost their riders. The horses that once ran across the plains with the fearless and ruthless Sastein riders were decorated with the countless heads of their victims.

“Do you understand? You stopped that tragedy.”

Clark was telling Kim Seon-Hyeok that killing these brutal riders was not a crime. He was desperately trying to absolve the latter of his guilt.

“So stand tall and be proud. You saved us and all those villages.”

Maybe Clark’s words were unfair or warped reality to fit his narrative. Nonetheless, they comforted Seon-Hyeok.

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s expression became slightly less dark, and Clark patted him on the shoulder.

“Go see the company commander. He’s been trying to find you for a while now.”

“Why would the company commander…?”

“What do you mean, why?”

Clark had a cheerful expression unfitting of the battlefield.

“It’s because of your class.”

Clark’s guess was correct. Company Commander Frederick called for Kim Seon-Hyeok because of his class.

“So you’ve been hiding your strength.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t expect his performance to change everything overnight, but he was wrong.

“Ah, I’m not looking to interrogate you. I’m just curious why.”

The company commander was neither forceful nor critical.

“I just wanted to avoid the trouble and the attention.”

“Trouble? What do you mean?”

“I like the 24th Regiment and my current comrades. I didn’t want to be sent anywhere else.”

Frederick seemed pleased with the response. The company commander’s typically wary expression was gentle.

“I admire your comradery.”

Each member of the heavy cavalry was qualified to lead a group of riders. However, Frederick had never treated him like a member of the heavy cavalry. That was, not until now.

“Very good. It’s a point of pride for our regiment and a great fortune for the kingdom to have a competent cavalryman like you.”

The company commander’s changed attitude made it seem like he would be willing to grant anything, but Kim Seon-Hyeok could see the greed and desire for success behind it. As such, he refused to let down his guard.

“However, that’s why it’s so unfortunate. The royal family doesn’t want valuable talents like you to rot on the border. If they discover your class, they’ll immediately call you back to the capital.”

“I have something to tell you.”

Expecting this to happen, Kim Seon-Hyeok had discussed the issue repeatedly with Clark and the other riders. He offered a deal to the company commander in order to escape the attention of the royal family, or, if possible, to repay all of his debts at once and become a free being.

After listening for a while, the company commander carefully asked, “Will that really be okay? Honor is greater and more important than you think.”

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’m pretty materialistic, so I’m okay as long as I benefit.”

The company commander guffawed at his blunt response.

“It’s not materialistic, but realistic. Your personality is far more reasonable than that of a vain person like me.”

“Then the promise…”

“It will be kept. Until this war ends, I will make sure your requests are met.”

“It’s a deal.”

At Kim Seon-Hyeok’s words, the company commander approached with a smile and reached out his hand.

“Then let’s do our best.”

“Ah, there’s something else I need to tell you.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok belatedly remembered something.

“I think there are more Sasteins that have crossed the border.”

The warm atmosphere cooled in an instant.

“And how do you know that?”

“Let’s just say it’s one of my abilities as a foreigner.”

At this moment, there was no better excuse than being a foreigner. At his response, the company commander stopped his questioning.

***

“It seems like there are still more enemies out there. If possible, take only what’s valuable and return later for the rest.”

At Frederick’s command, the riders, who had been busy gathering the riderless horses and weapons, picked up their pace. They prioritized the specially designed Sastein bows and their horses, and the remaining loot was taken according to each individual’s preferences.

Kim Seon-Hyeok had regained his composure, but he wasn’t ready to dig through the dead for the spoils of war. He stood at a distance and watched the others at work.

“We’ll set aside the best drops for you. The horses and bows will probably be taken by the higher-ups, but the rest belong to the finders.”

Clark and the other riders waved their hands, telling him not to worry.

“Ugh.”

After watching this unfamiliar scene for a moment, Kim Seon-Hyeok opened his status window.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

- Level. 5

- Dragon Rider

- Unique Attribute: Wind / Attribute Control 80

o Wind Bite

o Wind Body

o Wind Spirit

- Strength 25 / Stamina 24 / Agility 27 / Magic Resistance 34

- Possessed Skills

o Dragon Taming

o Dragon Riding

o Charging (Wind)

o Wind Piercing (Wind)

o Attribute Weapons Mastery (Mid Tier)

o Advanced Horsemanship

§ Advanced Horsemanship + Charging = Complete Charging (Wind)

o Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (High Tier) (Wind) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Spearmanship (High Tier) (Wind)

o Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (Low Tier) (Wind) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Swordsmanship (Low Tier) (Wind)

o Heavy Armor Proficiency (30kg) ←→ Heavy Cavalry Armor Proficiency (75kg)

o Infantry Shield Proficiency (High Tier) ←→ Cavalry Shield Proficiency (High Tier)

o Manual Labor / Civil Engineering (High Tier)

He thought he had heard a level up message in the chaos, and it seemed to be true.

“Level 5…”

He had jumped up a level, and a number of his skills, including his spearmanship, had improved. As expected, experience was the best teacher.

Kim Seon-Hyeok, after staring at his status window, frowned upon seeing a couple new additions to his wind attribute.

“Wind Body? What’s that…”

It didn’t sound particularly strong. However, he soon relaxed his expression and smiled in satisfaction.

“Is this it?”

The status window was unhelpful as always, but he instinctively knew what the effects of Wind Body were. It was the ability that lightened his body and those of his comrades in battle.

Now that it was clearly denoted in his status window, it would be easier to use. His gains did not end there, however.

Wind Spirit.

The newly added power of his attribute whispered to him. Just as the dragon had said, this voice constantly warned him of the enemy approaching from not too far away.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter