Episode 236. Return (1)

“Are you really leaving?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok nodded at Park Joon-Min’s regret-filled question.

“I have to. My country actually ordered me back home a while ago, but I’ve been stubborn about it. I don’t have any more excuses now, so I have to go back.”

“You said you’d raise me. What am I supposed to do if you leave like this?”

Without realizing it, Kim Seon-Hyeok grinned when he saw the Warrior's expression resemble a puppy sitting in front of its owner in the morning as he’s trying to leave for work.

“Punk, you’re already at level 48. You’re 9 levels higher than me. So who’s raising who?”

“But still, I have a long way to go.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok looked sternly when the Warrior continued to insist even after he had explained the situation several times. 

“You have to take care of yourself from now on. You have to think things through and grow on your own. And…”

“Don’t trust Balmung too much, and until I’ve reached at least level 70, don’t fight the Demon King. Hyung, if you repeat it one more time, it’ll be your 30th time if you count this repetition. Whew, it’s a wonder my ears aren’t blocked.”[1]

Seeing how the Warrior already knew what he had to do, Kim Seon-Hyeok’s sternness was rendered useless.

But rather than feeling annoyed about it, he felt better. So instead of scolding the Warrior, Kim Seon-Hyeok smiled and praised him. 

“Yes. If you keep that in mind, you won’t be easily beaten.”

“I feel like I’m losing out, hyung-nim. Here I am, struggling with the Demon King, surrounded by tanned brawny men, and you’re going to be living a happy life with your pretty wife in your home country.”

The Warrior's face expressed the unfairness he felt about this. He seemed to be pressured more than Kim Seon-Hyeok had expected by the fact he had to remain on the battlefield and fight against his greatest enemy, the Demon King, alone.

“I only helped you out a bit. This fight was yours from the beginning. So stop being a whiny crybaby, you punk.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s role was like comrade A, someone briefly passing by until the Warrior grew up. From here on out, the Warrior had to handle the tasks on his own. 

On top of that, it wasn’t like Kim Seon-Hyeok’s future would be smooth either. There were plenty of superhumans who were waiting for him to quickly return to Adenburg and even if he overcame all their challenges, that wouldn’t be the end. 

The Dragon Slayer. 

Even if he didn’t see the Dragon Slayer, that didn’t mean he could relax. Just as the Warrior was increasing his strength in order to face the Demon King instead of facing him right now, the Dragon Slayer was probably doing the same thing. 

Kim Seon-Hyeok had to prepare for the day he would come. 

“Before I leave, do you want a quick spar?”

Park Joon-min pouted as he muttered.

“No, I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to be humiliated again. After you leave, I’m going to be the strength for the soldiers to put their faith in,[2] so I have to save face now.”

“Still, there’s the level difference, so would you really lose like before?”

Based only on level, it had been a while since the Warrior had surpassed him, but nonetheless, the Warrior still expressed annoyance at his suggestion. 

“Maybe if I haven’t seen you fight before, but the only people who still want to fight you after seeing you fight are crazy sons of bitches. Seriously, the more I think about it, a Dragon Rider is a cheat.”

The final battle with Stella had left a deep impression on many people in the base.

Everyone thought that the Indomitable Duke without his dragons wouldn’t be as strong as before, but the power he showed before their eyes went far beyond their expectations.

“Hyung-nim. That wasn’t even your full strength.”

Park Joon-Min knew better than anyone else that that hadn’t been Kim Seon-Hyeok’s full power.

And that was true.

Out of fear that the weakened Stella wouldn’t be able to withstand it, Kim Seon-Hyeok hadn’t brought out his Draconian strength. Considering how the Draconian was the strongest power that the dragon knight had, the Warrior's speculation that Kim Seon-Hyeok hadn’t done his best that day wasn’t wrong.

“Instead of expending so much strength before you leave, just get some rest.”

“It was just an idea. Anyway, take care of yourself. As long as you’re alive, we’ll see each other again.”

The Warrior truly was sorry to separate from Kim Seon-Hyeok, but the Warrior didn’t give him a hard time.

Now, it really was time to say goodbye.

***

“Are you leaving now?”

Yeah, I have to.”

On that day, Darun and the Northern Cavalry had shown their hidden power to many of the Holy Kingdom’s people. They had given a proper demonstration of force to the Holy Kingdom’s commanders who had secretly treated them as barbarians and had rejected them. 

Since that day, their value had been reevaluated.

For the first time, the Temple had set up a negotiation table between themselves and the Northern Cavalry that they had considered barbarians. And in that negotiation, Darun skillfully got everything he wanted from them.

The Central Kingdoms Alliance had signed an agreement to formally recognize some of the western region as the territory of the Northern nomads once the war with the Demon King was over. Using the land they won from them, Darun and the cavalry decided to create a new site for themselves. 

They didn’t know when, but the moment they won the lands would be the moment the nomads would be able to move away from the harsh weather and barren lands they had suffered from and finally establish a new kingdom somewhere in the rich southern region.

Of course, there was a lot of work to be done before that.

They had to immediately oust the Demon King who had the western region in his grip and then, they had to clean the contaminated land with the help of the Warrior.

They had a long way to go, but Kim Seon-Hyeok believed in Darun and the men of the North.

Hate only breeds hate. But Kim Seon-Hyeok believed in this broad-minded man and the warriors who chose to cultivate instead of invade would be able to achieve anything they wanted.

“I will never forget the battle I fought with you that day. And of course, I’ll never forget the insane galloping on our way here.”

“What is this ‘never forgetting’ nonsense between men? It’s embarrassing.”

Although he was speaking curtly, Kim Seon-Hyeok’s expression was also deeply regretful.

But, if there is a meeting, there is a parting. He coolly held out his hand and exchanged his final greetings with the broad-minded man.

Darun stared at his hand before gripping it and forcefully tugging on it. Then, he hugged him.

“The sons of the grasslands never forget who they once regarded as brothers. So be sure to come visit after we settle down. I’ll treat you right then.”

“I look forward to it.”

After the short hug, Darun turned and left.

It was a cleanly manly separation where he didn’t look back.

“Whew.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok left behind his lingering sadness and returned to his group.

“Have you finished all your business, sir?”

Lee Soo-Hyuk and the foreigners got up when they saw him. They had been waiting for him with their packed luggages packed. He nodded slightly and looked at the people from the expedition. 

When he had seen them last, there was a bit of clumsiness to the foreigners, but now, even if he stared at them closely,[3] he couldn’t find an ounce of clumsiness in them. 

Looking at how their fighting spirit was as sharp as a sword, it was clear that they had become veterans.

However, because he knew that the price they paid was too much, Kim Seon-Hyeok was proud of their growth, yet he couldn’t help but feel regret.

***

“There is no one amongst the dead who would blame you, sir. Afterall, we didn’t come all the way here to the central region to sightsee; we came here to fight. And it was our choice to go into the western region; we’re not so weak that we would pass the consequence[4] of our choices onto you, sir.”

When Lee Soo-Hyuk and the foreigners saw him looking bitterly at the empty spots, they consoled him, saying that it wasn’t his fault.

But looking at the half empty group, he couldn’t help but feel numb.

However, he couldn’t continue to stay sentimental and emotional about it forever. With much effort, he got rid of his sorrow and looked at his party. 

“If you’re ready, let’s go. We have a long way to go.”

At those words, they grabbed their luggage and stood behind him.

“Let’s return home.”

***

Kim Seon-Hyeok headed straight for the base’s gate.

For some reason, the base’s soldiers who had shared their sorrows and joys with him turned a blind eye towards him.

“These bastards are too much.”

Lee Soo-Hyuk frowned in a fit of anger, but Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t look upset at all. 

“I’m leaving in the middle of a war. From their standpoint, they probably have nothing to say to a traitor who’s running away from a fight instead of staying and fighting together.”

He could understand the betrayal the soldiers were feeling right now. Afterall, he had fought more intensely than anyone else for the cause.

“Still, there’s so much you’ve done until now. These ungrateful bastards.”

“That’s right. It’s all thanks to the commander that it’s quiet around the base right now.”

The foreigners complained, but Kim Seon-Hyeok had been enlightened by the refugees and could only comfort them.

“That’s just how humans are. So don’t get so worked up about it. No matter what anyone says, they’re the ones who will remain in the battlefield and fight for the future of the continent. We have to wish them luck”

Since the person concerned said it was fine, it wasn’t possible to continue to talk about it and the foreigners soon stopped talking about it.

But Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t do much about their fierce expressions.

“You’ve worked hard. The Church and the central kingdoms will never forget the dedication and sacrifice you have shown.”

When Kim Seon-Hyeok reached the entrance of the base, he was greeted by the old knight and the leaders of the base who saw him off.

The farewell was very shabby if you compared it to everything that he had done until now. 

“Huu. Hold it in. Be calm.”

From right behind him, Choi Min-Young breathed heavily as she emitted a dangerous aura. But Kim Seon-Hyeok and his party was able to leave the base relatively quietly. 

“Fucking bastards. I’ll never even piss in the central region again.”

Once they finally cleared the gate, Lee Soo-Hyuk couldn’t stand it anymore and utter abusive language. The other foreigners cursed the Holy Kingdom’s soldiers with a grim look as well. 

But they were too hasty. 

Puuuuuuuuu.

A horn trumpeted behind their backs. The party was shocked and quickly turned back to see if the demons had used this timing to appear. But they froze.

Until just a moment ago, the soldiers had ignored the Adenburg’s party as they focused on their own work. But now, they filled the eastern gate of the wall.

“Wh, what’re they doing all of a sudden?”

The Adenburg party was puzzled as they couldn’t figure out what the soldiers were doing. Seeing them like this, the old knight drew his sword and shouted.

“All men of the Panthea base! Salute the Indomitable Duke!”

“I wish you all the victories in the future!”

At the old knight’s roar, the Templar Knights, priests, and soldiers who filled the wall performed a military salute in a reverent manner.

“Indomitable Duke! Thank you for everything! I’ll repay your grace one day!”

“If it’s for you, the Panthea base’s brothers will drop everything and run to your side if you need us! Please don’t forget about us!”

“We will never forget the many lives that you’ve saved, Indomitable Duke!”

Some of the soldiers shouting at them were those that the Adenburg had seen as they passed through the base.

“Ah…”

He finally realized what happened after seeing their faces. Kim Seon-Hyeok grinned as he looked at the walls. The Warrior looked extremely satisfied with himself as he waved his arm ceaselessly as he looked at the group. Kim Seon-Hyeok knew who came up with this childish farewell.

“It’s Joon-Min’s idea.”

It was a surprise that couldn’t be more childish if it tried. But if he was being honest, it made him happy.

Although he had pretended like nothing was wrong as he tried to comfort his party, he hadn’t been happy to watch the selfish soldiers who didn’t know the meaning of gratitude.

“Hyung-nim! I definitely won’t lose the next time I see you! So wait for me!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok shouted at the Warrior's words.

“Alright! I’m looking forward to it!”

Feeling his nose a bit stuffy, he looked back at the base once more.

He took in the image of the soldiers waving enthusiastically as he listened to them shouting all the well-wishes they knew as they wished him luck in the future and the priests and Templar Knights forgetting their images and shouting blessings at him.

“Let’s go.”

The Adenburg group, looking embarrassed that they had swore at the soldiers without knowing the circumstances, gave a small wave and turned around after him. 

“Mr. Seon-Hyeok.”

Najima and the Qeisha clan, who had been waiting for them outside the base, tilted their heads down when they saw him. Then, they immediately took their positions between the Adenburg group.

“Let’s head out.”

But at that moment, the sound of horse hooves pounding the earth could be heard. It was Darun and the Northern Cavalry. 

“Seon-Hyeok!”

From far away, Darun and his cavalry raised their spears in unison.

“The winds of the grassland never stay in one place, but it always comes back in the same form. Our meeting will always be like this! In the distant future, you and I will meet again in the same way as today!”

Having shouted that Darun took out a horn from inside his clothes and raised it.

“See you again, my brother!”

Kim Seon-Hyeok and his party left the base amidst the sound of Darun’s and the tens of thousands of cavalrymen’s horns filling the entire grasslands. 


1. The original said earwax, but I expanded the meaning.

2. The direct translation of this would have been, ‘mental strength for the base,’ but that was a bit vague, so I expanded on it a bit

3. The raws used 눈(을) 씻고 보다, which is translated as wash your eyes and look. Which basically means focus and look at something extremely closely.

4. The author actually used the word 책임, which is responsibility/obligation, but the english translation didn’t quite fit

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