Episode 229. The Level is the Bomb (3)

7 days.

That’s how long the hero, Park Joon-Min, needed to get used to Kim Seon-Hyeok’s training style. During that week, the hero changed beyond recognition.

Previously, he had randomly, and ineffectively, used his Divine powers but now that he was able to freely use it when he wanted, it became much more effective. And his swordsmanship skill that was barely enough to support him became better as time went on, and soon, he was able to deal with the lesser demons without needing to rely on his Divine powers. 

His formerly clumsy image was nowhere to be found.

“Not yet.”

But to Kim Seon-Hyeok, the hero was still a rookie and still had a long way to go. 

“More. Fight harder. Make it so that the demons would retreat after merely seeing the glint in your eyes.”

He pushed Park Joon-Min even harder. 

“Anyone who’s holding Balmung can do that. If you’re a hero, you need to be better and go beyond them.”

“You’re a shame to all heroes.”

“Even if you add up all the demons you’ve dealt with so far, it’ll still only be a small portion of what the Demon King can summon. If you can’t get through this, then you’ll die before you can even face the Demon King.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok never complimented him. As if he had a blade attached to his tongue, he only spat out sharp and acrimonious comments, and each time he did, spite grew in the hero's eyes.

“How intense.”

His training method was so awful that even Darun, who was watching from the side, was shocked.

But it was clearly effective.

In a short period of time, the hero's dropped levels recovered its original standing and now, Park Joon-Min was about to reach level 30. 

“There are no more demons in the vicinity to drag over. They’re all gone.”

There was a limit to how many demons the Northern cavalry could lure over. All the demons who had been wandering in the surrounding areas died at the hands of the hero.

“If you want us to bring more, we can lure them in, but it won’t be as easy as it was.”

Darun was reluctant to attract more demons from further away since it would inevitably lead to more sacrifices if they had to travel farther away. 

“That doesn’t matter. I know a place where there’s many demons.”

***

When they couldn’t find any more demons nearby, Kim Seon-Hyeok threw Park Joon-Min directly into the Demon King’s land.

There was no need to create a fuss by having the cavalry gather the demons, not when inside the Demon King’s lands, there were plenty of demons who would willingly appear in front of the hero as if they were begging to be killed without the cavalry needing to lure demons in. 

The only potential problem was if the Demon King came to deal with the hero in advance should he notice the existence of his immature adversary. 

But, Kim Seon-Hyeok had a solution for that problem.

“As long as you and I are together, the Demon King will never come here.”

The Demon King had missed the chance to get rid of the Dragon’s Companion because he didn’t want to get a scratch on his body. There was no way the Demon King would come to a place where both the hero and the dragon knight were together.

“But what if he does show up?”

“Then we’ll escape. What’s the problem?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s answer was so clear and cheerful that Park Joon-Min's worry seemed to disappear.

In the first place, this battle was just a training method. Nothing more, nothing less. Phrases like ‘no retreating from the battlefield,’ or ‘honor’ were just nice sounding words that held no meaning here. 

Sometimes, there were battles that had to be won, but this wasn’t one of them.

And just as Kim Seon-Hyeok guessed, the Demon King didn’t show himself. 

In the beginning, Park Joon-Min had been anxious, but as time went on, he focused only on dealing with the demons.

“Ahh…”

The hero was in the middle of a battle when he was surrounded by a flash of light. He finally reached level 30 and broke through another wall.

“Class upgrade!” 

Kim Seon-Hyeok clenched his fists in victory as he looked at the pillar of light soaring high into the sky.

“If it’s now…”

The hero regained his confidence after his level changed. Until a while ago, his eyes had been filled with spite, but now, they seemed more carefree and relaxed. 

“Stop fooling around. With just that, it won’t be enough.”

However,  Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t let Park Joon-Min become proud. 

“First, let’s see how strong you’ve gotten.”

He offered the hero another fight and the hero readily accepted the offer.

“It won’t be as easy as before.”

Seeing how he could still say this after being beaten into a pulp, it was clear that it was his nature to be arrogant.

“Don’t die this time.”

Before he even finished talking, Kim Seon-Hyeok brought out his war dragon’s form. 

The hero had only leveled up, but he was surprisingly stronger.

“This isn’t fair!”

However, that was it. Despite his rapid growth in a short period of time, Park Joon-Min still couldn’t beat the war dragon. 

“Hyung-nim, we both leveled up, so isn’t this too much?!”

The hero made a fuss as he refused to be satisfied with the outcome, but Kim Seon-Hyeok merely snorted.

“I told you, level’s the boss.”

There was still a difference of 9 levels between the two of them.

“At least you didn’t die this time. That’s a relief. It’d have been really unfair if you worked so hard and your level dropped again.”

Park Joon-Min became angry when it seemed like Kim Seon-Hyeok was making fun of him.

He’s definitely changed. 

Previously the naive man had calmly accepted defeat without being offended since it was his older brother who defeated him, but now, Park Joon-Min was throwing a fuss as he struggled to accept the defeat and was raising his fighting spirit again. 

This was growth.

“Let’s start again.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok resumed the hero's training without giving him a chance to shake off his defeat.

This time, the method wasn’t a scuffle between demons and an ignorant daredevil.

This time, Kim Seon-Hyeok tried to teach the hero how to use his Divine powers by getting the high-ranking Paladins and the faithful priests to show him.

“I have the skill, so what else do I have to learn?”

The hero seemed to be wondering how effective the new training method would be. 

“You might have the skills, but you still have to learn.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was determined. He had once been assigned to the wrong cavalry just because of the fact he had the word “rider” included in his class.

And after countless failures, he finally mastered the skills he needed to become a cavalry rider, and the skills he gained from that training had been a lifeline for him to survive the harsh battlefield. 

But that wasn’t all.

Even after that, he never stopped learning. He learned how to use his lance and his sword from Asha Trail, and with that, he developed his own style.

Now, the 5 meters long lance was an invaluable piece of equipment that he couldn’t be without.

Since all of this had been accomplished with pure effort and not skill, there was no reason why Park Joon-Min couldn’t do it as well. No, the hero's situation was much better than it had been for Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“You have plenty of Divinity, so what’s the point of saving it? And anything that you do learn, there will always be a use for it.” 

Unlike himself who had no foundations or any abilities that it felt like he was banging his head on hard ground as he struggled, the hero had more than enough of the most important aspect that was needed by Paladins and priests - Divinity. 

“When you learn something, it’ll eventually become a skill and it will later become your strength.”

Park Joon-Min nodded reluctantly at those words. For now, whatever the reason, he seemed determined to follow Kim Seon-Hyeok’s lead.

And that was an excellent decision. 

The hero was able to learn from the Paladins how to use his divine power efficiently and how to convert excess divine power into energy for recovery.

“Ooh.”

And with the newly learned power, the hero healed the wounded.

“Thank you, thank you.

“I’ll repay you with my life.”

When he was able to heal even the serious injuries that the priests had given up on, the soldiers shed tears as they thanked him.

“Ah, this feels strange.”

Park Joon-Min felt embarrassed but at the same time, proud to be receiving their gratitude.

Although the Holy Sword was powerful enough to revive its decapitated master, it didn’t use its powers on anyone else.

Perhaps that was why the hero felt deeply moved by the fact that his powers could be used for more than just fighting. 

“Hyung-nim, it’s a good thing I listened to you.”

But the happily smiling hero's face soon turned dark.

“I must be a real idiot. If I’d thought of this much sooner, then I could’ve saved more people.”

“That’s enough. Just because you have more divine powers than others doesn't mean that you can do everything. If you try to take on things that happen out of your reach, you’ll go insane.”

He was talking from experience. There had been a time when Kim Seon-Hyeok had tormented himself as he blamed himself for not being able to protect others due to his lack of strength.

“Hyung-nim, can we take a break from training? I want to heal all of these people.”

That’s why when Park Joon-Min asked to push back the training, he had no choice but to nod his head.

“That’s also training, you idiot. Whether you’re aggressively fighting the demons or struggling with the patients, the fact that you’re using your powers will mean that you’ll grow.”

Of course, it wasn’t known whether fighting the demons or treating the patients were more efficient.

However, to consider efficiency even in this situation would be too inhumane.

“But if you’re going to do it, do it right. As long as you’re alive, don’t let any of those here die. That’s the new task I’m giving you.

“I’ll definitely do that.”

Park Joon-Min’s face, who responded to Kim Seon-Hyeok with determination, was brighter than ever.

As the hero treated the injured with his newly acquired skills, he gained a new nickname.

‘The Saint of Astoria.’

Park Joon-Min was extremely embarrassed by the word saint, but on the other hand, he also liked the nickname Saint much better than grandiose names like the Hero or the Apostle of God. 

Healing people seem to fit his personality better than fighting. Unlike his appearance on the battlefield where he seemed reluctant to fight, the hero was much livelier as he healed the wounded. 

***

Kim Seon-Hyeok wasn’t focused only on raising Park Joon-Min’s level. While pushing the hero, he was regularly in contact with the Adenburg Kingdom to prepare for the future.

First, he asked the Iberian Alliance to allow the Qeishas, who were staying at the Panthea base, to head back to the Adenburg Kingdom. At the same time, he was hellbent on raising his level that wouldn’t go up, it was as if he was blocked by a wall. 

But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t figure out a way to overcome the wall. 

“Wonder if I have to pass the test?”

It suddenly occurred to him that the test the dragon had been talking about and the problem he was currently facing might be related. Otherwise, why else would he be stuck at level 39 without any change when it had been a long while?

“Huu, let’s not rush. I’m not in the same position as Joon-Min.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok suppressed his impatience and focused on what he could do.

Right now, sending the Qeishas to Adenburg was the priority.

However, there was a problem.

“Shouldn’t we think a bit more on the problem of migrating the Qeishas?”

The Holy Kingdom was picking at his decision to migrate them.

“The Qeishas are also victims of these harsh times. I am of the thought that we should give them a chance.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok frowned at the archbishop’s words.

“What do you mean by chance?”

“We should give them the opportunity to take revenge on the Demon King who stole their home and give them the chance to pick where they wish to migrate to themselves. Well, that’s what I mean by chance.”

“The Qeishas do not want revenge. What they want is stability.”

“If so, then it should be a matter that must be considered even further. It is extremely inhumane to have them go such a long way to Adenburg for stability.

He didn’t know what the hell was inhuman and what was humane and found all of it absurd, but he let the archbishop continue to talk.

“There is a beautiful forest in our country that they will love.”

Outwardly, the archbishop was talking about helping and benefiting the Qeishas, but Kim Seon-Hyeok wasn’t someone who didn’t understand what he was intending.

Although there weren’t many Qeishas, all of them had superpowers that were equal to that of a superior knight. What the Holy Kingdom wanted wasn’t stability and peace for the Qeishas; the Holy Kingdom wanted the power they held.

Especially since the power of more than one thousand superhumans had the ability to change the political landscape of the continent.

“And our country understands their misfortunes deeply and is willing to provide land for their families.”

The archbishop became excited when Kim Seon-Hyeok silently listened to him. 

“And should they wish to reclaim their old lands, we will be their sworn friends. After all, it is our mission to drive out the Demon King."

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s expression hardened as he coldly listened to the archbishop talking as if he was undertaking great charity work. 

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