Episode 250. Dragon Slayer (2)

Kim Seon-Hyeok looked like he would scream out the anger that he couldn’t hold back, but instead he collapsed into a chair. His head was bowed and his face was as contorted as never before.

“You knew it.”

Panting like a wounded beast, he barely managed to push the words out of his mouth due to his extreme exhaustion.

“You knew what kind of kid Julian was to me.”

But with time, his breathing stabilized and he became calm. 

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

[Even if I told you beforehand, what would be different now?]

The dragon’s voice was lamentful as she continued. 

[It was her decision to reject the antitoxin you found for the poison. As it was her decision not to give up her potential and future, there was no room for you to intervene.]

The dragon disagreed with his words and Seon-Hyeok couldn’t refute it. 

At that time, he had tried several times to persuade Julian to get treated. However, she hadn’t accepted it; she didn’t want to give up her life’s dream of becoming a knight.

[Even knowing all this, you want the past Julian to change her decision?]

The dragon was questioning him.

She was asking which was the better decision: whether Julian should have given up her future as a knight or whether Julian should have broken the relationship she had with him. 

There was no way Seon-Hyeok could answer. No, from the start, the only one who could answer this question was Julian and she had already made her decision.

[I understand your anger and regret. However, you need to see that your anger and hatred are aimed in the wrong direction.]

The dragon that always appeared whenever she wanted and only talked about business was unusually appealing to him to understand her. It also meant that the dragon wasn’t treating the mental burden and regret he was feeling lightly.

“Haa.”

Since the proud dragon was acting like this, Kim Seon-Hyeok couldn’t continue to be angry.

“So all of this happened because I was ignorant.”

Perhaps he had realized that the biggest reason behind their current situation was himself.

“If only I hadn’t acted so recklessly at that time, then…”

He had gotten prideful after easily taming Goldrake. And because of that, he thought he could tame Bluegon just as easily as Goldrake, and that complacency had gotten Julian poisoned. 

He couldn’t be more regretful and had vowed to never make the same mistake again. 

However, no matter his efforts, he couldn’t change the current situation. 

Julian had already awakened as a dragon slayer, and once awakened, it was impossible to reverse it. And he could only become a dragon knight after destroying the dragon slayer.

“Huu.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok inhaled and exhaled heavily several times to calm himself down. He finally regained his composure.

His eyes were no longer hazy from the alcohol. While they weren’t bright, they also weren’t dead.

“Well, I understand for now.”

[If it was the you in the past, you would never have acted as you are now. I sincerely respect the fact that the growth you’ve achieved in the short period of time was not limited to just your physical body.]

Perhaps the dragon thought he had decided to eliminate Julian, but her voice was full of relief as she praised him. She seemed to have been worried that he would repeat the decision he had made with the Demon King in the past. 

But it was too early for her to be relieved.

“I never said that I would eliminate Julian.”

[Have you already forgotten the result of you trusting the humans in the past?!]

The dragon shouted in alarm as she told him to look at the west that had turned into hell on earth.

Kim Seon-Hyeok’s expression hardened.

Turning a blind eye to the awakening of the Demon King was no different from allowing the latter's wrath to build up.

Even now, he felt he should be responsible for his decision to leave the Demon King alone at that time. And perhaps it was because of what had happened then that he made such efforts to deal with the disaster that happened in the west. 

But at that time, he did not have a choice.

At that time, the Demon King was a victim, and the persecuted foreigners had justification. Not to mention, back then, his powers and connections were incomparably insufficient to attack and block the Demon King first. 

[I am not trying to use the past as an excuse to rebuke you. I am merely hoping that you will not repeat the same mistake.]

He forced himself to relax his face when the dragon spoke softly as if to persuade him. 

“Even so, I haven’t said that I would leave Julian as she is.”

[What on earth are you thinking? As you have experienced, the fate of your opponent isn’t something that humans can do anything about. Your instincts will tell you that her mere existence is threatening, and in the end, you will annihilate each other. If you have even the slightest expectations from your bond with her, you’ll have to change your mind.]

It was just as the dragon said.

Although he didn’t see her for long, it was enough for him to realize that the deep bond they had once shared wasn’t enough to overcome his instincts against his enemy.

“If everything you said is true, then I should have killed Julian already.”

However, there was something the dragon was wrong about.

[You were merely lucky today. You mustn’t believe that you will be lucky like you were today…]

“You’re forgetting why I was ‘lucky’ today.”

He hadn’t twisted Julian’s slender neck today because of his own self-control and the bond he shared with her.

“I admit that it’s a problem I can’t handle on my own, but isn’t there someone who can help me?”

The Sword Star, the old knight who was full of secrets, had intervened.

[Hm…]

When he mentioned the Sword Star, the dragon became quiet.

“You know something about him.”

The dragon seemed to know something about the Sword Star. Otherwise, there was no way she would shut her mouth like that.

“Tell me. Just what kind of person is he?”

Kim Seon-Hyeok asked again and again why such a powerful man, someone comparable to the Demon King, wouldn’t involve himself in the disaster that occurred on the continent and what his true identity was.

***

“I can only apologize, sir.”

The next day, the retainer of the Mangsk family asked for his understanding as he told Seon-Hyeok that while Julian had woken up, her condition hadn’t improved enough for her to meet people yet. 

For Kim Seon-Hyeok, there was no reason for him to be angry. Instead, he was happy that he could push off the meeting while also saving face.

“Please tell her that I wish her a speedy recovery.”

After sending the retainer off with an appropriately spoken response, he called Asha Trail over. 

“I really only have to deliver this, sir? Countess Mangsk wouldn’t dare reject you, if it’s what you want, Grand Duke.”

Asha Trail questioned him when she found out he would not be reaching out to Julian himself. 

“Mm.”

While the fact they were mortal enemies wasn’t something that he could tell anyone, Asha Trail wasn’t just anyone.

In the end, he only hesitated for a moment. Kim Seon-Hyeok briefly explained what had happened between him and Julian. 

“I had been wondering about the look in Countess Mangsk’s eyes the other day, sir.”

Although it was impossible for Asha Trail to understand everything about the dragon knight and the dragon slayer, it was enough for her to understand the disturbance that occurred the previous day and what she was seeing right now.

“I had thought the Imperial Guards were overly alert, like they were in enemy territory, but I see now that there was a reason for everything.”

Asha Trail had missed the Sword Star’s action, so she misunderstood the extreme alertness of the Imperial Guard as a reaction to the tension between Seon-Hyeok and the House of Mangsk.

Instead of correcting her misunderstanding, he focused on the immediate business. 

“Julian is probably very confused right now. She must be very puzzled by her emotions.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok was worried about how Julian, who was completely unaware of her fate as the dragon slayer, would be feeling, so he wrote her a letter. Perhaps by the time she read the letter, she would be able to realize a little clearer about the changes that happened to her.

“Understood, sir. I will put my life on the line to deliver this letter.”

She carefully placed the letter in her breast pocket as if it was a royal declaration.

“Thank you, Sir Trail.”

She waved her hand at his thanks. Then, as if she suddenly remembered, she asked him a question.

“Is the old knight that I saw yesterday also related to this, sir?”

Unlike the previous day when he was preoccupied with Julian and had no time for anything else, he was now able to answer Asha Trail’s questions.

“He has nothing to do with this. He just followed me all the way here because I promised to duel with him.”

“Who on earth is he that the Grand Duke is dueling with…”

Whether it was his status as the Grand Duke or his reputation as the best knight in the Empire, Asha Trail respected his skills and status more than anyone else. That was why she was even more curious.

“He’s the Reclusive Duke Marek Schnail Roachim. The world calls him the Sword Star.”

The Lady Knight was usually expressionless, but her eyes grew wide. She had never imagined that the old knight she saw the previous day would be someone called the swordsman, the Sword Star. 

“I see. I did think that he seemed extraordinary, sir.”

As expected, she quickly got her emotions under control and asked him a question with an expressionless face.

“So, will you accept the duel, sir?”

But seeing how her fighting spirit and enthusiasm was peeking through her, seemingly, uninterested expression, she was definitely a natural-born knight

“Someday, I will become a confident knight just like Sir Trail.”

For a moment, the voice of a young child pretending to be an adult passed through his mind. That was why he became even more determined.

“I must accept it. I now have a reason to fight.”

Since this was a tragedy caused by his recklessness, it was his job to deal with it. If it was for that, then no matter how strong the Sword Star was, he was willing to endure a duel against him.

Asha Trail, who didn’t know what he was thinking, saw his resolution and looked admiringly at him.

“Anyway, do me the favor.”

At his subtle urging, Asha Trail promptly left his room.

“Duke Roachim.”

As soon as she left, Kim Seon-Hyeok immediately sought the Sword Star out.

“As you wish, I accept your challenge.”

He had already promised to duel him, but he had never brought it up first with the kind of determination on his face.

“What wonderful news!”

The Sword Star chuckled as he looked like he would beg Seon-Hyeok to have the duel right away.

“But before that, I need you to promise me something.”

“If the Grand Duke can break my sword, I will tell you everything without hiding anything. So don’t worry.”

Kim Seon-Hyeok shook his head.

“Is there something else you want?”

The Sword Star didn’t seem to have a clue as to what else Seon-Hyeok could want.

“If your sword breaks, Duke.”

Seon-Hyeok spoke his request solemnly.

“Then please take the Countess Mangsk as your successor.”

“That small title, if that’s what you want, then I’ll hand it over.”

Seon-Hyeok shook his head again.

“That’s not the successor I’m talking about.”

The Sword Star cocked his head. He looked at Seon-Hyeok with doubtful eyes. When he saw Seon-Hyeok’s unwavering gaze, the Sword Star’s face hardened.

“You can’t be…”

Even though he still looked stone-faced, the Sword Star’s still wasn’t sure and continued to look at Seon-Hyeok with doubt in his eyes.

“You’re right. What I want isn’t the Imperial nobility Roachim’s title…”

Looking at the Sword Star, Kim Seon-Hyeok continued.

“I’m talking about the destiny that the world has bestowed onto the superhuman called Marek.”

Even before he finished talking, a sword rose into the air and aimed for his neck. However, Seon-Hyeok looked the Sword Star straight in the eye without blinking.

“Adjuster Marek, if I win, make Julian your successor.”

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