How must Julian have felt when the grandfather she’s resented her entire life left everything to her? Will she be regretting that her grandfather died without her being able to resolve her resentment? Or would she be cynical until the end?
Kim Seon-Hyeok had no idea.
He could only hope that the regrets she had in her heart hadn’t burrowed in too deeply.
That was why he had agonized over it countless times on his trip over here. He continuously thought about how he could comfort the confusion she felt.
But when he saw her approaching him from afar, Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t say a single word of consolation.
She stopped. Her small body was shrouded in black.
His eyes slowly changed from happiness to confusion. That confusion changed to a foreboding that tightened his chest.
His arms and legs began to tremble as his eyes slowly grew hot as if there was a fire behind them. Before he could even realize the sudden change, he felt rage and hatred.
He began to feel dizzy from the crisis that threatened his very existence.
His heart began to beat like crazy. If he was careless even just a little bit, it seemed like his murderous desire would overwhelm him and he would break that small and slender neck.
He suppressed his anger and hatred, and desperately pushed down his desire to kill.
It was painful.
The anger and murderous intent that had been forcibly pushed down burned as hot as an inferno and wreaked havoc inside his body. He groaned unconsciously in the terrible pain that seemed to burn through every fiber of his being.
He wanted to release the flames that broke out inside his body and relieve the pain immediately.
But he couldn’t do that.
He knew very well that all this anger and hatred were directed at Julian, a youngster that he had felt affection for.
Even if she stared at him with eyes filled with hatred and murderous intent, he had to suppress his wrath.
At that moment, a white line suddenly flashed in front of Kim Seon-Hyeok. And the murderous intent that had dominated his body without reason or rhyme subsided in an instant.
Since when was he there? The Sword Star who had brought down his sword diagonally clicked his tongue as he looked at Seon-Hyeok.
“Seems like fate has played another trick.”
Even before the old knight finished lamenting, a scream erupted from the Mangsk crowd that had been approaching from a distance.
As if in slow motion, Julian began tilting to the side.
Kim Seon-Hyeok was startled when he finally saw the small girl collapsing onto the snow-covered ground. He turned to stare at the Sword Star.
“My Lady has fainted!”
“Call the priest!”
Before he could open his mouth, a series of shouts were heard from the group. Seon-Hyeok let out a sigh of relief when he found out that Julian had simply lost consciousness.
He saw the back of the Sword Star walking peacefully.
The Sword Star shoved the sword back into the scabbard tied to the saddle of an Imperial knight. He was returning the sword to its original position as if nothing had happened.
The knight exhaled. He sat on his horse and stared blankly at the Sword Star. He hadn’t realized until then that the sword the Sword Star had used was his own.
At the senior knight’s command, the Imperial knights narrowed their formation and the Imperial cavalry encircled the Sword Star.
“Take the Lady to the castle!”
The Mangsk people’s shouts could be heard over the sounds of iron clinking against each other.
But at this moment, the loud noises were great.
Kim Seon-Hyeok watched blankly as Julian was carried back to the castle on the back of a servant.
“Why did Julian…”
His eyes filled with confusion.
“I apologize for the sudden disturbance when the Grand Duke has traveled a long way to visit us.”
Due to the ruckus over Julian fainting, the guests had been greeted poorly and the Mangsk family retainer repeatedly apologized over the poor reception.
“Our Lady has gone through some unpleasantness recently, so please understand, Grand Duke.”
“Please convey my condolences when Countess Mangsk wakes up.”
The retainer was relieved when Kim Seon-Hyeok responded mildly. He didn’t seem angry.
“Who is that, sir?”
Asha Trail had approached Kim Seon-Hyeok and asked him on their way to the castle under the guidance of the Mangsk servants. When he had followed her gaze, he saw the Sword Star walking with a calm face.
Since she was a considerable force herself, she had noticed the presence of the Sword Star instantly when he had stepped forward earlier.
“Later. I’ll tell you everything later.”
But at that moment, Kim Seon-Hyeok hadn’t any intention of telling her the identity of the Sword Star. Just thinking about Julian had made his head ache.
Fortunately, Asha Trail didn’t pry into this matter or press him for an answer. She just gave him a small nod before settling next to the Imperial Guards.
“Then, please rest comfortably.”
The retainer left after telling Seon-Hyeok he would inform him the moment Countess Mangsk regained consciousness.
Kim Seon-Hyeok sighed deeply as he began to settle in his room.
“Grand Duke, Duke Roachim has come to see you.”
But before he could take off his coat and sit down, the Sword Star came. As he had been waiting for the Sword Star, Kim Seon-Hyeok greeted him without delay.
“What exactly did you do?”
The Sword Star took a bottle of alcohol out of the display case on one side of the room instead of answering his question.
“Would you like a drink?”
Kim Seon-Hyeok had been feeling thirsty so he didn’t refuse the bottle the Sword Star was offering him.
One sip. Two sip.
He continued to drink without bothering to wipe off the alcohol dripping down his chin.
He finished half the bottle instantly and removed it from his lips with his facial features all scrunched together.
“Are you calm now?”
Perhaps it was because he drank such strong liquor all at once, but Kim Seon-Hyeok felt himself becoming drunk. It felt like both his thoughts and idle thoughts were farther away from him.
“Thanks. I feel better now.”
When he responded slightly dazed, the Sword Star took the bottle from him and gulped it down himself.
“What did you do back there?”
It seemed like the Sword Star had cut something down after suddenly stepping forward. In fact, Seon-Hyeok had seen a white line flashing through the air.
However, he couldn’t figure out what the Sword Star was doing and what he had cut down.
The only thing he knew was that after the Sword Star had swung the sword, his murderous intent and anger had disappeared as if it had been washed away.
“It was a small trick that you don’t have to worry about.”
The Sword Star grabbed another bottle of alcohol after finishing the first one. This time, instead of drinking it all at once like he did before, he poured it into a cup and drank it slowly, moistening his throat.
Just as Kim Seon-Hyeok was going to ask something, the Sword Star put down his glass and spoke first.
“But before that, isn’t there something you should be sharing first, Grand Duke?”
The Sword Star’s eyes were still clear even after emptying a bottle of hard liquor.
“Just what is your relationship with the new Countess of Mangsk that you’re exchanging such animosity?”
It was like the Sword Star had seen the murderous intent that flowed between himself and Julian with his own eyes.
“I may not be knowledgeable about the world, but even I have heard about the special affectionate relationship between the Grand Duke and the new Countess of Mangsk. Or is it that I’ve become old and misheard it?”
Kim Seon-Hyeok stole the Sword Star’s glass and gulped down the contents.
“A special affectionate relationship.”
The youngster who had been forced upon him by the previous Count had been a burden for Kim Seon-Hyeok when he wasn’t able to promise that she would live to see another day on the battlefield.
But even when she was a child, she had been foremost a confident soldier and had become an impressive adult who worked hard to achieve her dream.
He had been willing to watch over her until she could stand on her own feet.
However, in the end, the one who needed help wasn’t the youngster but himself. Before Antoine Montaigne arrived, she had taken over the land’s administrative works and filled in Seon-Hyeok’s inadequacies dealing with local affairs.
Even when he thought about it now, he couldn’t help but be grateful for her honesty and loyalty.
But instead of repaying her, his recklessness had caused her to be poisoned by the water serpent’s venom. As a result, time had stopped for her since then, and even if he repaid her for a lifetime, it wouldn’t be enough.
That was why when the previous count died, he had been willing to become her guardian. He intended to help her with anything she might need as the master of Mangsk.
But he couldn’t even comfort her over the tragic event.
“‘A special relationship’ seems about right.’
She was no longer the Julian he knew.
The hatred and murderous intent burned in her eyes; the absolute anger was like a cursed flame that would only disappear after destroying the other’s existence.
In this damned world, Julian was the deadliest dagger aimed at his neck.
She was the dragon slayer.
“But now, I don’t know what’s what.”
He had believed that eventually, he would meet a foreigner who would be the dragon slayer. However, reality was much crueler and colder.
After that, Kim Seon-Hyeok continued to gulp down alcohol without any further conversation and the Sword Star didn’t ask him anything else.
Even if the old knight was tactless, he could see the pain and anguish on Kim Seon-Hyeok’s face.
“It didn’t seem like such animosity should be exchanged between master and vassal, so I played a small trick and broke it off, but it’s only temporary. The ill-fated destiny between you and the master of this territory isn’t easy to break off just by cutting through it once.”
The Sword Star recommended that if Kim Seon-Hyeok didn’t want to shed blood with his opponent, then he should quickly leave this place.
However, just because Seon-Hyeok quickly left Mangsk didn’t mean that Julian wouldn’t be the dragon slayer. Just like the Sword Star cutting through their animosity was only temporary, Seon-Hyeok leaving would be a stopgap measure.
Kim Seon-Hyeok cursed as he leaned back in his seat with a contorted face.
Seon-Hyeok didn’t seem surprised to suddenly hear the dragon’s voice. It was as if he had been expecting the dragon to talk to him.
It was only natural. After all, there was no way that the dragon, who had become so furious when she found out the existence of the Demon King, would ignore the existence of her greatest enemy.
[Fate always hides daggers in unexpected places, so this too is a terrible nature of fate.]
The dragon answered his question with a heavy truth. For once, she was understanding of his confused state of mind.
“Stop speaking nonsense. Why did it have to be Julian?”
Although the dragon was speaking like normal, Seon-Hyeok didn’t feel like entertaining her riddles. That was why he unknowingly responded to her in a sharp voice.
[She is someone who has endured the poison given by the king of the sea, she is someone capable of becoming the usurper.]
Kim Seon-Hyeok was slowly becoming muddled due to the alcohol, when his eyes suddenly grew brighter.
“What do you mean…”
[As she has lived even after being covered in the dragon’s poison, she will eventually have the poison to kill the dragon.’
It seemed like the dragon had known about it from the beginning. Just as he was about to speak, the dragon continued.
[This adversary is inevitable to bring balance back to the tilted scale. Only then will you be finally complete. If you can overcome this, you will be qualified.]Previous Chapter Next Chapter