Episode 222. A Splendid Return (3)

The roars grew even louder. The soldiers cheered enthusiastically for the savior rescuing them from inevitable death, and they hoped the superhuman being in front of them would say even a word.

“Huh?”

However, instead of responding to the cheers, the Indomitable Duke quietly recovered his spear and climbed onto the horse next to him.

He looked as though he would leave at any moment, and the soldiers stopped their cheering as they looked on in bewilderment.

“S, sir! Indomitable Duke!”

Likewise surprised, the regimental commander rushed forward and stood in front of Seon-Hyeok.

“Are there any other threatened areas further south from here?”

Before he could even speak, the Indomitable Duke asked first.

“There is not a secure area in the hundreds of kilometers separating here from the southernmost tip of the kingdom bordering the Holy Kingdom of Astoria.”

It was an unexpected question, but the commander, as the leader of a unit responsible for part of the front lines, was well informed about the surrounding situation and was able to immediately offer a response.

“Is that so? I guess I asked a stupid question.”

After briefly looking towards the south, the Indomitable Duke grabbed his horse’s reins.

“A, are you leaving like this?”

The commander wanted to express his gratitude even if it meant emptying the food left in their stores, but the duke did not offer him a chance to.

“I will leave it to you to clear up the battlefield.”

The regimental commander simply stared as the warrior departed without even waiting for a response.

“You really are leaving like this?”

A deputy, fortunate to survive the fierce battle, came running and asked with a blank expression.

The commander did not answer. He simply watched the Indomitable Duke join the northern riders waiting far away.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Soon after, he heard the sounds of horses’ hooves, as tens of thousands of riders disappeared south, leaving behind white dust clouds in their wake.

“It really looks like he is.”

The regimental commander never expected their savior to disappear so suddenly, and he belatedly realized he did not even have a chance to offer his gratitude.

“Where the hell is he going that he’s in such a rush?”

“Before he left, he asked if there were any other threatened areas on the front lines.”

“It can’t be that he’s going straight into battle without so much as a rest…”

The deputy marveled at the Indomitable Duke’s sudden appearance and disappearance as he appeared like the wind and left for the next battlefield without so much as a rest.

“What a shame. I wish he gave us the time to repay him for saving our lives.”

“I’m disappointed too.”

Despite coming face to face with this famed hero, he did not have the opportunity to exchange many words. The regimental commander’s eyes were full of regret.

He vowed to repay today’s grace if they ever met again, but he knew such an opportunity would not come easily.

“But the more he hurries, the more soldiers he will be able to save on the front lines. I could not dare to hold him back.”

The front lines were long, and there were many locations needing the support of heroes. An ordinary man like himself would likely never have the chance to meet the great hero again.

“Take care of the wounded, and those uninjured are tasked with repairing the fallen barricades! There won’t be a repeat miracle like today, so hurry!”

Burying his regrets deep within his heart, the regimental commander quickly gave his commands. However, the lingering feelings did not disappear easily.

He repeatedly glanced towards the vast plains, in the direction of the great superhuman being who appeared and disappeared like the wind.

“Send a messenger to the main force and send news of what happened! Over half of the regiment has fallen in battle, but the front lines have been secured with the help of the Indomitable Duke!”

“I will take care of that right away!”

The regimental commander belatedly remembered something and gave orders. The deputy spiritedly answered.

“In addition, send our fastest messenger south to those on the southern front! Let them know that the Indomitable Duke is headed towards them - and tell them not to lose hope!”

Shortly after the commander gave his order, ten horses galloped out of the crumbling wooden barricades and headed towards the south and interior, respectively.

After watching the scene quietly, he frowned as he thought of something.

“But can the messengers even catch up?”

The northern riders were known to traverse tens of kilometers for fun. The Indomitable Duke was likewise a renowned knight known for his speed and elusiveness, and it was doubtful whether the messenger could keep up with their movements.

*** 

The atmosphere in the Adenburg palace was not good.

Queen Regent Ophelia, having been given full authority as monarch by her father, Theodore Tiberius Ro Adenstein, recently started to act sensitively.

Even the nobles with the ranks of duke or marquis dared not speak up in the royal palace, and the most influential of nobles made sure their footsteps were silent as they passed through.

Even in this atmosphere like thin ice, there was one group allowed to make a commotion.

“Queen Regent!”

They were the messengers receiving and reporting on the situation in the west in real time.

“Magical communications have arrived from the Rosehog Kingdom!”

Normally, the messenger would have been repeatedly rebuked for his imprudence. However, Ophelia neither blamed nor reprimanded the messenger for his aggressiveness in throwing himself through the palace doors.

“It’s news that the Indomitable Duke has once again appeared on the front lines!”

She simply gazed at the messenger with a nervous expression before offering a short comment.

“Explain.”

The messenger took a moment to collect his voice before quickly going into detail.

“A magical message has arrived stating that the Indomitable Duke appeared on the southern-central part of the front lines in the Rosehog Kingdom, roughly 200 kilometers from Fort Pochinkey!”

Ophelia slowly straightened up on the throne and urged the messenger on with her eyes.

“It’s been said that just before the infantry regiment defending the area was defeated, the Indomitable Duke appeared with the northern riders and defeated 8,000 demonic beings.”

Her expression grew complicated. Though she seemed very happy to hear news of her spouse, she simultaneously looked displeased.

“The Indomitable Duke is safe and well, and he did not suffer any injuries in taking care of the demonic horde.”

As soon as the messenger completed the report, Ophelia responded.

“It was only three days ago that the Indomitable Duke fought against 30,000 demonic beings at Fort Pochinkey. You are saying he traveled 200 kilometers in those 3 days and fought yet another battle against thousands of enemies on the front lines?”

“T, that’s correct.”

There was anger in her voice.

“And did the Indomitable Duke depart the battlefield again without so much as a break?”

Sensing her anger, the messenger froze and stammered a response.

“A, after the battle, he asked where the most urgent place on the front lines was and headed south right away.”

“So he did not even take a day to recover.”

Ophelia quietly tapped the throne with her finger. The messenger shuddered each time he heard the tapping sound. He seemed nervous that the Queen Regent’s fury might be redirected to him.

“Queen Regent!”

But fortunately, that undesirable situation did not come to pass. At that moment, another messenger came through the palace doors.

“A message has arrived from the Rosehog southern command, saying that the Indomitable Duke has fought and defeated an army of 30,000 on the Novos Plains towards the south of the kingdom today!”

Hearing this report from the second messenger, Ophelia looked back at the first messenger.

“The Novos Plains are about 250 kilometers from the scene of his previous battle.”

“So this time, he traversed 250 kilometers in 3 days to fight against 30,000 demonic beings.”

The messenger was puzzled by her cold voice despite the news of a glorious victory against tens of thousands of enemies.

“The Rosehog command additionally sent word that the Indomitable Duke disposed of 10,000 additional creatures during his journey.”

However, the messenger did not forget his duty as he cleared his voice and proudly reported on the additional victory.

“It seems that he went through the heart of their ranks.”

The report meant that the Indomitable Duke did not just travel, but moved while fighting. Ophelia’s expression grew even colder.

The first messenger, unable to leave the palace after missing his opportunity, grew anxious as he tapped his feet.

“In addition, the Rosehog command expresses their special gratitude as a pair of greater demons responsible for causing significant trouble for the kingdom were taken care of in this most recent battle.”

This report was not from any random place, but rather the command center on the southern Rosehog front. It was an area expected to have significant numbers of knights and mages.

If the southern command leading such superhuman beings had been unable to dispose of the greater demon, it was clear to even those not at the scene just how ferocious and cunning the creature must have been.

“According to the rumors, the pair of greater demons was responsible for the deaths of a superior knight, three senior knights, and sixteen common knights.”

The messenger most likely went into detail out of pride. However, the mood in the palace became even more subdued as the tactless messenger needlessly added fuel to the flames.

In a way, it was not strange. 

The Indomitable Duke roaming the front lines and fighting in countless battles was admired by many as a hero, but he was the one and only husband to the Queen Regent at the palace. She could not possibly be in a good mood upon hearing that her spouse was fighting creatures causing trouble to even the superhuman beings of the Rosehog Kingdom.

“Do you have anything else to say?”

The clueless messenger tried to continue, but was quietly restrained by his counterpart.

And seeing that they had no further reports, Ophelia expressionlessly waved her hands to dismiss them.

Thud.

Left alone after the messengers departed, Ophelia quietly grabbed the armrests of her throne.

“You really are trying to deal with all the enemies on heaven and earth.”

The reports did not start arriving today. Her spouse had won countless victories as soon as he reappeared on the front lines, and the kingdoms receiving his assistance sent dozens of magical messages to Adenburg.

Every time a message arrived, Ophelia felt as though she was burning up inside.

What horrific demon did he fight against this time? Is he injured? What if he gets sick in foreign territory after overexerting himself?

She was forced to worry once again without having the chance to welcome the return of her seemingly dead husband.

As though he did not care about her conflicted feelings, Seon-Hyeok sent only a single, short message.

‘I have found the object to resolve the royal family’s concerns. I will return soon.’

Ophelia was not sure whether her spouse was being coldhearted or trustworthy in not even disclosing his own ordeals after enduring a danger from which everyone believed he met his unfortunate end.

Perhaps the simple man thought she would be pleased by the news of the item capable of addressing the royal plight.

This, in itself, was deeply dissatisfying for her.

He had promised to quickly take care of business and return, but that had been over a year ago. Though she did not show it as the proud and reliable Queen Regent of the kingdom, she struggled to suppress her emotions after hearing the news of his death not long ago.

And so, she instructed a royal mage to send communications to her husband, who she had no idea when, where, or what dangerous predicaments he might experience.

“Predict the Indomitable Duke’s path and send the message.”

The head of the servants took out a piece of paper and waited for her to continue.

“You have done more than enough, so return. I will not accept your refusal.”

Hearing her determined tone, the servant briefly paused writing before continuing once again as though nothing had happened.

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