Episode 41. Initiation (2)

Episode 41. Initiation (2)

The well-trained war horses panicked at the sight of the ferocious drake and his stench. Those belonging to the 24th Regiment, hardened through fierce battles, were able to hold their ground, but the reinforcements’ horses had no chance.

“Ugh!”

Chaos erupted as men fell from their horses while others tried to calm down their frantic mounts.

“Hey, be quiet. They’re going crazy because of you.”

Seon-Hyeok smacked the smug drake on his head.

Grr.

His drake immediately drooped his head, as though he was a puppy being scolded. Even so, the frightened horses showed no signs of calming down.

“I fed the drake already, so I’ll go get Stella instead. Don’t start until I get back.”

“You really go through so much trouble feeding him. And don’t worry - you’re the first.”

“Oh, really? Great! I’ll be right back!”

Seon-Hyeok disappeared like the wind, excited by the response. He soon returned on the back of a brilliant white horse.

“Then should we get started? It’ll get dark soon, and we can’t let this drag on until tomorrow now, can we?”

With that, Clark got the men to step back.

“Further back. Don’t get caught up in the fight.”

The reserve units felt it was strange, being asked to step back much further than what they imagined would be necessary, but nobody stepped forward to ask why.

“Seon-Hyeok.”

“Yes.”

Having secured plenty of space, Clark whispered to Seon-Hyeok.

“That bastard’s notorious in the south. He’s a piece of work who backstabbed his superiors and beat down on his comrades, so teach him a lesson. You can even kill him if necessary.”

“T, that’s a bit…”

“Use your abilities or something. I asked them to send reinforcements, but they just sent us their trash. We should get rid of anyone that’s irredeemable.”

However, it was too much to ask of Seon-Hyeok, who was reluctant to kill.

“What are you two whispering about? Does he need someone to babysit him?”

The newcomer shouted furiously, as if trying to hype himself up after being subdued in front of the drake.

“Ugh. I’ll give him a scare at least.”

Seon-Hyeok ignored him and wondered how to best complete the mission Clark had given him.

“Then begin!”

After a short pause, the pre-prepared flag was raised. He and the giant stared at each other from afar and spurred their horses on at the same time.

“Huh? Huh?”

The distance between the two closed in an instant, and the onlookers watched in anticipation. However, though they started moving at the same time, Seon-Hyeok accelerated much faster. At this rate, the newcomer would meet his opponent before even reaching his top speed, and the end result seemed inevitable.

Unlike the surprised reinforcement units, the 24th Regiment riders watched the scene as if it was all too obvious. They knew better than anyone how talented the Widowmaker was. This was Stella, the monster of a warhorse that showed no fear even in front of the terrifying drake.

“Hup!”

The giant lunged forward using his cavalry spear with its tip padded in thick cotton for training use. Despite not being at top speed, it was a formidable attack, worthy of someone who declared himself to be the greatest rider.

However, he was facing the wrong opponent.

Having already fought in two battles, Seon-Hyeok was no longer a novice, and he was more than skilled enough to easily dispatch someone who had never fought in a proper battle.

Do I have to go this far…?

Just before they collided, Seon-Hyeok sighed and whispered.

“Wind Piercing.”

He didn’t gather the full extent of his attribute’s powers, as he had done in the fight against the Sasteins, but the force of his ability was on a different level compared to an average rider’s charge.

Boom!

A roaring sound cut through the air, and the challenger was toppled from his horse.

“Ugh…”

Fortunately for him, because he hadn’t been at full speed, he was able to avoid death from falling. The giant man looked around with a dazed expression before collapsing.

“Good job.”

The 24th Regiment riders didn’t even cheer. They simply nodded a few times, having expected this outcome.

On the other hand, the incoming reinforcements were dumbfounded. They had been impressed by the giant, who had attacked with impeccable timing. However, his opponent easily overcame the attack, and they were unsure how he had managed to do so.

All they heard was an explosion following the foreigner’s whispered command, and immediately after, the giant had lost his composure. His shield had been pushed back by the counterattack, and he was thrown off his horse.

It was a defeat resulting from an overwhelming difference in skill. The reinforcements’ expressions immediately darkened.

“That’s the newest recruit? Then what kind of monsters are the others?”

“Maybe the others also ride monsters like the one we just saw?”

Seon-Hyeok smirked as he heard the voices of the reserves carried to him by the wind.

Was it finally time for me to shed the title of newcomer?

He looked at the new riders in anticipation, like a predator eyeing its prey. They shrunk back even more at the sight.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, none of the others chose Seon-Hyeok. Even so, avoiding him didn’t mean that the reinforcement riders were victorious. The 24th Regiment cavalry, having endured battles against other cavalry forces, including the Sasteins, were far too strong for those who lived a more comfortable life.

“Is that it? Even if you’ve already lost, I’ll give you another chance. Anyone who wants to keep going should speak up now.”

The reserve forces lowered their heads. Despite fighting round after round, Clark showed no signs of exhaustion.

There was no victory they could gain from this situation, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. It was a complete defeat, and they didn’t dare challenge them again.

“I’ll take that as a no?”

The reinforcements hung their heads without responding to Clark’s question. Having demonstrated their superiority, the 24th Regiment riders once again welcomed the newcomers.

“Welcome to our cavalry, newcomers.”

“Be prepared to hit the ground running tomorrow. We’ll turn you into real men.”

“I’ll make sure you cry out during training.”

Their welcoming words were just as terrifying, and the soldiers paled.

***

“I heard you made quite a scene.”

“Well, aren’t all cavalry the same? Nobody wants to be subordinate to a weaker soldier or follow a slower rider. They’re all like that, so we had to put them in their place.”

Clark lightly responded to the company commander.

“So will there be a problem?”

“Of course not. And anyways, they’re all troublemakers, so nobody would complain even if a few of them died. Actually, I’m sure some of their superiors sent them here hoping for that exact outcome.”

“Ah, is there a political problem, by any chance?”

Clark asked with a troubled expression, and the company commander nodded.

“I heard Earl Paslin’s bastard’s among the newcomers.”

“By Earl Paslin, do you mean the noble who was troubled because his eldest son was so frail…”

“That’s right. Rumor has it that he’d be lucky to live past thirty. He has three sons, but the word is that they might not even be his. I heard that there are quite a few people who want to elevate his bastard son instead.

Clark immediately grasped the situation and frowned.

“I think he must have understood his position as well, since he decided to accept the transfer order without complaint.”

“So one side hopes for him to die in battle, and the other thinks that an enemy’s spear is less dangerous than the sword aimed at his back.”

Frederick did not answer. However, he did not need to.

“So who is it? That bastard son?”

“Jackson Hamilton.”

***

The replacement soldiers had lost their rebellious spirit, but their anger remained. Among them, there was one who directed his frustration at the wrong place.

“You little bastard. You don’t think about your comrades at all, do you? Sucking up to survive on your own?”

The rider who had been beaten up by Clark started a fight with Jackson.

“What’s strange about a soldier following orders?”

However, Jackson, despite appearing timid, responded more forcefully than expected.

“You’re a bastard who doesn’t know the meaning of comradeship…”

“Enough.”

At that moment, Clark entered the barracks.

“Comradeship isn’t something gained through causing trouble together, but rather by enduring challenges together. You dumb bastard.”

Clark seemed like a wolf agitating a group of rabbits as he walked around the barracks.

“Anyone die during the initiation earlier? Speak up if you did.”

The dead obviously couldn’t answer. Thankfully, there weren’t any.

“How about anyone who’s too injured to speak. Speak up.”

The reserves once again did not answer.

“That’s good. Everyone out.”

After asking questions that nobody could reasonably answer, Clark ordered everyone to get out without exception. Unlike when they first arrived at the garrison, the reserve forces followed his command without a word.

“Is the initiation still going on?”

As if liking the attitude of the man fearlessly asking questions despite the earlier scene, Clark answered cordially.

“No. After a fight, everyone should move on nicely.”

With that, Clark took them to the barracks occupied by the 24th Regiment riders.

“Oh? The new recruits are here? Sit, sit.”

“Hey, be on the lookout. The captain might’ve allowed it, but that won’t mean anything if the commander sees us.”

The reserves had bewildered expressions as they smelled the burning scent of alcohol.

“You all belonged to different units until yesterday. I don’t care how great you did there, or how accomplished you were.”

Clark made them sit.

“Once you drink here today, you’ll all be members of the 24th Regiment heavy cavalry.”

The reinforcements all raised their glass at Clark’s manly words.

“Good. For the glory of the Drake Cavalry!”

“Drake Cavalry?”

Someone raised a question, confused about the name he was hearing for the first time. Jonasson stepped up to explain.

“Our unit will no longer be referred to by a number, but instead be given an official name. It hasn’t been announced yet, but there’s a good chance we’ll become the Drake Cavalry.”

The new recruits seemed excited. It was rare for a knight division to get its own name, let alone a regular cavalry unit, and they realized their new position was in this glorious cavalry. It looked as though they had forgotten the complaints and unsavory events from earlier.

“For the Drake Cavalry!”

“For the Drake Cavalry!”

Clark shouted out, and the newcomers responded in kind.

“I’ll be in your care.”

“Let’s be friends.”

“Well… I’ll follow you.”

They might have been troublemakers in their previous positions, but the sight of them all raising a glass and acting friendly with one another was nice to see.

“Yes. Welcome to our cavalry.”

They didn’t speak or act like newcomers, but Seon-Hyeok nonetheless smiled and welcomed them.

“Huh?”

There was so much alcohol available that a passerby might wonder if it was even acceptable for a military garrison. The atmosphere quickly heated up.

“But where did everyone go?”

“Did they all go to the bathroom?”

After drinking for a while, the newcomers realized that there wasn’t anyone from the original Drake Cavalry. No, rather, there was just one.

“Hm.”

The one remaining was Kim Seon-Hyeok, red faced and drunk.

“Where did everyone…”

“Hey.”

Instead of an answer, all they got was a single word.

“Huh? Yes?”

They had first seen Seon-Hyeok approach on the back of a drake, and he had naturally left quite an impression. He was a senior member of the unit who they had to acknowledge, so they shut their mouths and waited for him to continue.

“Do you know how difficult it is?”

What he said was completely different from what they expected.

The reserve forces that assembled early the following day showed great spirit, as though they were new recruits being assigned to their first post.

“Seems like you took care of them well. Good job.”

Their faces were a mess, but the company commander took it in stride. In fact, he even looked pleased.

“Well, Seon-Hyeok worked hard.”

Clark grinned and patted Seon-Hyeok on the shoulder. Having forgotten the events of the previous night after his excessive drinking, he just opened his eyes wide in confusion.

“We’ll be heading straight to the capital when the Mangsk forces arrive, so get ready.”

“Yes! It’s time to get our reward!”

The troops cheered at the company commander’s words.

Significant financial rewards, special promotions, and medals were awaiting them. And even among them, it was Kim Seon-Hyeok who was in line for the greatest rewards.

The title of viscount, huge rewards, and most importantly, the opportunity to proudly face those who disregarded my dragon rider class as a useless one.

“That person in charge then…”

He was looking forward to seeing a royal rating officer, after having his expectations crushed in his first assessment.

I’ll be able to see one soon.

His wait was not long. The rating officer arrived at the garrison to adjust his rank before they even headed to the capital.

“It’s been a while.”

The official seemed familiar.

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