Episode 33. Vacation (1)

The 24th Regiment heavy cavalry had lost more than half of their forces in the battles against the Sastein cavalry. Those in command judged that the 24th would be unable to carry out additional operations in its current state, and some even considered disbanding the unit altogether. However, this wasn’t an option.

The reason they had lost so many men was because they defeated the Sastein cavalry. The command could not throw away that reputation so easily.

Therefore, it was decided that new members would be added to the cavalry instead.

“The royal family has already delivered official orders to all regiments across the kingdom. Each unit will provide one or more veteran cavalrymen, and until the troops are reorganized, there won’t be anything for us to do. The commander was being considerate in letting us rest in that time.”

This was the real reason behind the heavy cavalry being granted a month-long vacation.

“But it’s obvious what kind of people will come. Each unit will send the troublesome riders who they couldn’t get rid of in other ways. If we just relax without planning for the upcoming reorganization of forces, we’ll have a hard time later.”

Clark was concerned about the quality and nature of the incoming personnel, as befitting of the de facto leader of the riders.

“Is that a problem?”

“Of course not. Excessively obedient cavalry is useless in the first place – we’re not soldiers to parade around at the capital. Oh, unless you’re saying that there’s someone to keep an extra eye on?”

Frederick shook his head.

“Then there’s no problem. We have that crazy person who can keep those new recruits in line.”

The heavy cavalry had the monster who beat up the entire unit while drunk, so there was no need to worry about the rowdy and disobedient newcomers. They just needed to have a welcoming party, complete with alcohol, and leave at the right time. Seon-Hyeok would put them all in their place.

“I’ll leave the matter to you then.”

Frederick got up to leave after informing them of the upcoming ceremonies and plans to improve the unit.

“Ah, I almost forgot. Once our unit is reorganized, we’ll likely get a new name. Think about it while you’re on leave.”

It was a great honor for any unit to get an official name – let alone a simple cavalry unit. Naturally, Clark had a pleased expression when he heard the news. However, it immediately darkened as he realized they would be responsible for naming themselves.

“I wonder if we’ll be able to come up with a good name. The only time these guys use their heads is while putting on their helmets.”

“It’s an honorable matter to worry about, so enjoy it.”

Watching Frederick crack a rare joke, perhaps because of his impending promotion to senior knight, Clark smiled again.

“Then I’ll see you in a month.”

“Enjoy your break as well, company commander.”

“… that’s what the company commander said, but expectations are pretty low. Just enjoy your rest.”

The cavalry looked motivated upon hearing Clark’s words. It was an honor for the unit to receive a proper name, and everyone seemed to hope that they would come up with the name that was ultimately chosen.

“Is there anything to think about? How about Hansen’s Cavalry?”

“Oh that’s some bullshit. How about the Rose Thorn Cavalry? It sounds beautiful and deadly.”

Hansen and Jonasson already started to push their ideas.

“What do you think?”

Seon-Hyeok had been deep in thought about other matters when he was suddenly asked about his own opinions and clumsily responded.

“Silver Arrow?”

“Ah, never mind. I forgot that guy couldn’t even name his own horse.”

“Tsk.”

Was there that big of a difference between ‘Rose Thorn’ and ‘Silver Arrow’? Jonasson’s attitude seemed unreasonably confident as he derided the foreigner.

“But anyways, what have you been so busy thinking about since yesterday? Is there a problem?”

Seon-Hyeok was just about to angrily respond to Jonasson, but shut his mouth at Clark’s sudden question.

“If you’re worried about where to go during the vacation, just choose anyone. No matter what they might look like, they’re all from fairly affluent families. None of their families will treat a guest like a soldier.”

“No, it’s not that. There’s just something I need to think about.”

Taking this opportunity, Seon-Hyeok continued on.

“Do you know where the Frost Peak is? I heard it’s up north somewhere, but nobody seems to know.”

“Frost Peak? Never heard of it.”

Clark’s response was immediate, as if there was nothing to even think about. However, it was too early for Seon-Hyeok to be disappointed.

“I think that’s a mountain near my hometown?”

Hansen seemed to know about the Frost Peak.

“It’s called Mount Kaldez now, but it used to be Frost Mountain or Frost Peak or something. But why?”

Instead of answering, Seon-Hyeok hugged Hansen.

“Thanks, Hansen. You’re my savior. Really.”

As Hansen stood there, unsure of what was going on, Seon-Hyeok recalled the conversation with the dragon from the previous day.

[Head north.]

“What are you saying all of a sudden? What do you mean, head north?”

[Frost Peak to the north. That’s where you need to go.]

“Where’s this Frost Peak, and what’s there?”

As usual, the dragon’s answers were ambiguous. When Seon-Hyeok angrily questioned the dragon, the dragon responded.

[Drake.]

He wondered what a drake was, but thankfully, the dragon explained.

[Drakes are a subspecies of dragon that has lost its wings and can no longer fly in the skies.]

“Are you a drake?”

Seon-Hyeok celebrated, thinking it was finally time to meet the dragon, but the dragon responded in anger. It seemed it was a huge affront to compare a pure-blooded dragon to a drake.

[You need to learn to crawl before you can fly. Start from the beginning.]

The words were harsh, as if there were negative feelings behind them, but the dragon had a point. Seon-Hyeok was being told to get a new mount.

That was all fine, but nobody knew about the Frost Peak where the drake supposedly lived. He was frustrated, knowing only that it was north somewhere.

Despite asking around, nobody had given him a positive response. Surprisingly, it was Hansen who had the answer.

“I’m sorry. I won’t disregard you anymore.”

“You’ve been disregarding me?”

Hansen belatedly grew angry, but Seon-Hyeok didn’t care. He was simply happy to get a hint about the drake’s whereabouts.

And so, his vacation itinerary was decided.

***

“I heard the vacation’s for a month.”

Once the news had spread, Ahn Yoo-Jung came to see Seon-Hyeok. She had a complicated expression, just like the time they had said their farewells, but he didn’t mind. He was used to it now.

“Yes. It seems like it’s a special reward given to us until our unit’s reorganized.”

“Will you be discharged following your vacation?”

He carefully answered that he hadn’t made a final decision, and she sighed and responded.

“I didn’t come here to push you again, so don’t look so troubled.”

“Hm. Is that so?”

“By any chance, have you heard anything about the Noctein knight and mage that were captured this time?”

Senior knight and mage? They must have been those captured by the commander when the Sastein remnants were wiped out.

“No, I haven’t. Whether they’re handed over for a ransom or dealt with otherwise, it’ll all be taken care of by the royal family and the commander. I don’t really care one way or the other.”

“You’re wrong. Everyone else might not care, but you should know about them, Seon-Hyeok.”

Seon-Hyeok frowned, wondering what she was talking about.

“I don’t understand why.”

“Even if they’re like us?”

He froze at those unexpected words.

“What are you talking about…”

“Isn’t it strange? This world is so large, and all the foreigners have been summoned in Adenburg?”

Ahn Yoo-Jung continued in a frustratingly slow manner.

“It should feel strange. The fact is, foreigners like us have been summoned all over the continent, and not just here.”

“Why haven’t we heard anything about that? Why is the royal family hiding it?”

“The royal family didn’t hide it. It’s just that they haven’t explicitly told us. If we cared to find out, we could have at any point.”

She said that the royal family had omitted the information, fearing that the foreigners on the front lines, already weak mentally, might be shaken by the information.

“It can’t be…”

Seon-Hyeok paled, recalling the many soldiers who had fallen at his hands.

“I can’t tell you whether it’s fortunate or not, but you haven’t killed any foreigners yet.”

Seon-Hyeok unknowingly breathed a sigh of relief, then made a bitter expression. He was shocked, realizing he had inadvertently tried to distinguish between the lives of foreigners and those native to this world.

“There’s still so much you don’t know about this world, Seon-Hyeok. Come to the capital if you want to know the truth. Only the royal family knows all the secrets concerning the foreigners.”

His conversation with Yoo-Jung left him more confused and with additional questions. She seemed certain that they would meet again before long, confident that their conversation would drive him to learn more.

“That’s correct. The captured enemies are foreigners.”

When he visited the commander to ask about the situation, he was somewhat unexpectedly told the honest truth.

“I was actually going to tell you this anyways, but it seems like that woman from the capital managed to first.”

The commander explained everything, saying there wasn’t anything to hide.

“There have been about 200 foreigners summoned within our borders. Noctein received a little less, just around 150 or so. In addition to that, foreigners have appeared in most kingdoms in this world, and there should be thousands in total.”

The numbers were much greater than he expected. Seon-Hyeok continued to ask the commander questions, but he shook his head and put off additional conversation for another time.

“If you really want, you can probably ask the captives yourself. They couldn’t stand the harsh treatment under the Nocteins and have decided to defect to our kingdom. I promise I’ll give you the chance to speak with them in person once everything has been verified.”

“You don’t have to… no. I understand.”

Unsure about what he would actually ask them, Seon-Hyeok was about to decline the commander’s offer, but caught himself and nodded instead. No matter what, he felt it would be important to speak with them at the very least.

“I know things are complicated, but enjoy your vacation for now. After all, is it really so important which kingdom you landed in?”

Seon-Hyeok left the commander’s office after receiving this final piece of encouragement. And with that, his vacation began.

The riders were not in good shape, as though they had spent the previous day drinking at Emma’s bar. Apparently, however, they had been up all night trying to soothe Emma, who grieved for their fallen comrades.

“Don’t cause any trouble, and return safely and on time.”

“We’re not kids. Don’t worry!”

The riders laughed as they responded to Clark’s advice, and he retorted with a sour expression.

“Men are children or dogs. You guys are both, you sons of bitches. How could I not be worried?”

Excited about their impending vacation, the riders ignored the insults as they laughed and jumped on their horses.

“We’ll see you when we get back!”

“You be careful too, Seon-Hyeok. Watch out for Hansen’s sister!”

“Hey, you jerks. I’ll take care of it.”

Hansen, after responding to their comrades’ ominous farewells, got on his horse and looked towards Seon-Hyeok.

“Let’s get going, too.”

Seon-Hyeok, who had been looking back towards the fortress for a moment, turned his head and got on his horse as well. And with that, they urged their horses on and left.

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