Episode 44. Sponsor War (2)

With a small face, dainty nose, warm brown eyes and a soft smile, the royal princess gave a gentle impression. Her plain white dress, carefully designed not to expose her skin, and her tied-up hair made her seem elegant rather than extravagant.

She seemed as regal as Seon-Hyeok had expected, if not even more so. His only misconception was that she was younger than he had imagined.

“Welcome, Drake Knight.”

She couldn’t have been more than thirteen years old. Her round forehead gave her a youthful appearance, but she spoke in a solemn manner.

“Ahem.”

If the commander hadn’t given him the subtle hint, Seon-Hyeok might have forgotten to introduce himself and inadvertently show disrespect.

“Kim Seon-Hyeok, heavy cavalry of the 3rd platoon of the 24th Regiment, greets the royal princess!”

He hurriedly dismounted from the drake, knelt on his left knee, and placed his hands on the other. Fortunately, the etiquette he had learned on his journey to the capital was displayed appropriately, and Seon-Hyeok did not embarrass himself in front of the royal princess.

Let’s see. She would then tell me to raise my head, and then…

Seon-Hyeok tried to remember the standard procedure for introducing oneself, and she told him to lift his head.

“Raise your head and lift up your visor. You may remove your helmet if you wish.”

He reflexively raised his head and realized his mistake. He had neglected to raise his visor, and thus was unseen in front of the royal princess.

“Thank you for your consideration!”

Fortunately, she seemed to have no intention of pointing out his mistake, and cavalrymen surrounding her likewise did not reprimand him for his rudeness. Seon-Hyeok inwardly breathed a sigh of relief, removed his helmet, and placed it on his knee.

Oh, she seems young, and she really is just a kid…

His field of view widened after removing the helmet, and he looked at the princess. She was cute and lovable rather than beautiful, and he couldn’t help but want to smile. He desperately maintained a straight face and waited for her next words.

“Perhaps it is inconsiderate of me to ask you to come here immediately following your tiring journey, but I could not just ignore your significant accomplishments.”

The fact that the little girl spoke so solemnly made her seem even more lovable. She seemed fascinated by the drake, and she kept glancing sideways at the monster as she spoke.

“I will never forget your courage in defeating the Sastein devils and the devotion you showed the royal family. Your actions will be rewarded.”

The royal princess maintained her elegance and neatness as she spoke, but her eyes continued to wander. The image was so cute and funny that Seon-Hyeok almost burst into laughter. Fortunately, however, the reception ended before he did.

“I will see you again once you have recovered from your travels.”

It seemed as though she was being genuine when she said she had no intention of being inconsiderate and keeping him there for a long time. With the brief welcoming words, she turned and left.

“Remain in formation!”

However, because so many troops had entered the royal capital, they were forced to wait for a long time before they could leave.

As he watched the infantry be led away to the pre-prepared garrison outside the capital, Seon-Hyeok leaned over and whispered to Clark.

“Um, so. The royal princess…”

He carefully mentioned that he was surprised to find out that she was so young, and Clark replied with a grin.

“Even so, she’s in charge of almost all of the royal family’s external affairs. A tiger cub’s still a tiger. You shouldn’t underestimate her just because she’s young.”

Clark, who treated even the commander and company commander as old geezers in private conversations, remained cautious as he spoke of the royal princess. Seon-Hyeok made an awkward face for having asked his question, as he could feel Clark’s sincere respect and loyalty, rather than fear, towards the royal family.

Even so, she’s just a cute little girl.

Seon-Hyeok was unable to understand the people of this world who treated the royal family like heavenly beings, and he only remembered the cuteness of the royal princess.

***

“Did you see that?”

A nobleman, who insolently sat at a high place to watch the meeting between the royal princess and the foreigner, shouted in excitement.

“To think that he didn’t even raise his visor while greeting her. It’s clear that his disappointment with the royal family is much greater than we expected.”

“He even looked down at her for a while as he sat on the drake’s back. It’s clear that he has negative feelings towards the royal family. Otherwise, there’s no way he would be so disrespectful in front of them.”

In reality, Seon-Hyeok had simply forgotten to lift his visor, and his hesitation was because he was surprised by the royal princess’ young age. The nobles, misunderstanding the situation, chattered excitedly.

“And did you see his expression? He stood there tight-lipped, as though he was uncomfortable to be there.”

They didn’t understand that this was his way of suppressing his desire to smile at the princess’ cute appearance.

The nobles kept incorrectly imagining his internal thoughts.

“We’ll have to step in and assuage his feelings as soon as possible. Despite his insolence, that foreigner is a talented individual, and it’s our mission as nobles to influence him for the good of the kingdom.”

“I heard there’s a victory ceremony tomorrow evening, so let’s try to do so then.”

“I will help as well.”

The nobles, after chattering excitedly, began to ponder their best course of action. Some suggested enticing him with beautiful women, while others offered money.

“Someone who’s been rotting away at the border would lose his mind at the sight of the beautiful women here. I can imagine it already.”

“More than that, don’t you think he’d get along with others around his age? If he falls for someone in the process, that’s even better for us.”

The nobles were excited, as though they had already won the foreigner over. At the same time, Seon-Hyeok was in the room assigned to him by the royal family and staring blankly at Atiya.

Time flew by when he watched the spirit fly through the air like an acrobat giving a performance.

“Oh, she’s looking more and more humanlike. Is that because my attribute control went up?”

Atiya still looked like Ahn Yoo-Jung, but her appearance gradually became livelier as his attribute control increased. All of this was surprising to Seon-Hyeok.

“My standards keep going up because of you.”

‘I did nothing wrong, Master.’

Atiya pouted in feigned anger, and her appearance was both innocent and lovely.

As he watched, he wondered about Atiya’s future growth. She had once looked like she would undergo her spirit advancement, but nothing had changed afterwards. Once his attribute control reached 99, it remained unchanged as well.

Attribute control was not his only stat that stagnated at 99. Seon-Hyeok had managed to raise the drake’s obedience to 99 through continued coaxing and feeding, and it, too, remained at that value.

He wondered whether 99 was the maximum value for obedience, but it did not seem to be the case, as the drake occasionally showed signs of rebelliousness. Like with attribute control, there seemed to be an external factor that must be overcome to surpass this soft limit.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

-          Level. 7

-          Dragon Rider

-          Unique Attribute: Wind / Attribute Control 99

o   Wind Bite

o   Wind Body

o   Wind Spirit

-          Spirits Contracted

o   Low-tier Wind Spirit (Atiya)

-          Dragons Tamed

o   Drake(?) / Obedience 99

§  Condition – Hunger, Vigilant, Discomfort

-          Strength 29 / Stamina 28 / Agility 31 / Magic Resistance 37

-          Possessed Skills

o   Dragon Taming

o   Dragon Riding (Low Tier)

o   Charging (Wind)

o   Wind Piercing (Wind)

o   Attribute Weapons Mastery (Mid Tier)

o   Advanced Horsemanship

§  Advanced Horsemanship + Charging = Complete Charging (Wind)

o   Standard Kingdom Spearmanship (High Tier) (Wind) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Spearmanship (High Tier) (Wind)

o   Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (Low Tier) (Wind) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Swordsmanship (Low Tier) (Wind)

o   Heavy Armor Proficiency (30kg) ←→ Heavy Cavalry Armor Proficiency (75kg)

o   Infantry Shield Proficiency (High Tier) ←→ Cavalry Shield Proficiency (High Tier)

o   Manual Labor / Civil Engineering (High Tier)

The question mark next to the drake under ‘Dragons Tamed’ bothered him when he opened his status window. However, he had no way of knowing what it meant.

Unable to come up with an answer, Seon-Hyeok just closed his eyes. After a short time, his tired body finally gave way to sleep.

Knock knock.

Just as he was falling asleep, he heard a knock at the door. There was nobody who should be visiting him at the capital, so he asked who it was with a curious expression.

“It’s Ahn Yoo-Jung.”

Only then did he remember her saying to come visit her before doing anything else if he ever came to the capital.

“It’s been a while…”

Yoo-Jung began to greet him with a welcoming expression, but then looked over his shoulder and closed her mouth.

“Atiya, go back.”

‘I don’t like her!’

Atiya pouted as she flew around. However, her appearance would prove to be a distraction as long as she was around, and conversation with Yoo-Jung would be impossible. Seon-Hyeok had an awkward expression as he sent her away.

“You’re still the same. Both you and that spirit.”

He didn’t have a response and just stared at her as she strode into the room.

“I heard the news. Your class is high-tier now?”

“Yes. It’s true.”

Yoo-Jung offered her congratulations, having already heard the rumors.

“Are you uncomfortable that I’m here?”

Yoo-Jung asked, as Seon-Hyeok remained motionless at the doorway.

Honestly, of course it was uncomfortable. He felt awkward that she asked him to join her faction, and it was unsettling that she had the same appearance as his spirit.

However, he equivocated, knowing that an honest answer would make the atmosphere even less comfortable for both of them.

“Close the door and come sit down.”

Yoo-Jung got to the point when he acquiesced.

“There’s no need for you to join my faction. You’ve already rejected my offer several times, and it’s not as though I’m desperate.”

Was it because they had been apart for a while? 

Compared to before, Yoo-Jung seemed somewhat free from his attribute control. It reminded him of the time they first met.

“However, even if you don’t join us, don’t be so quick to turn down other people’s offers.”

It wasn’t the comment he expected. He had thought she would advise him not to join any groups outside her own.

“Are you a fool? Do you know what the situation in the capital is like?”

“Of course not. I just got here.”

Seon-Hyeok answered with a bitter smile, and she continued on.

“The nobles will try to get a hold of you.”

“I have no intention of joining them.”

“Of course you feel that way now, but don’t underestimate them. I’m sure the nobles will try to make an offer you can’t resist.”

Seon-Hyeok was already promised significant rewards, so there wasn’t much else he needed. He remained silent with a dull look, and Yoo-Jung spoke with a frustrated expression.

“The nobles are skilled at finding people’s weaknesses – even ones that you might not be aware of yourself.”

Though wary of the nobility, she seemed to hold their talents in high regard. Seon-Hyeok decided to listen closely, given her serious tone.

“By now, they’ll have found the thing you need most.”

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