Episode 45. Sponsor War (3)

“The thing I need most?”

“Yes, whatever it may be.”

“And the nobles will offer me that?”

“Yes.”

Ahn Yoo-Jung’s answer was full of confidence. However, Seon-Hyeok was not convinced.

“It’ll never happen.”

“Don’t take my words lightly. If you accept their gifts without knowing what you’re getting into, you’ll get caught up in their machinations before you realize it. Don’t be so confident in yourself.”

Yoo-Jung warned him in a sharp tone, as though offended that her thoughtful advice was disregarded so quickly. However, her feelings didn’t change his answer.

“Like I said, it’ll never happen.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Seon-Hyeok answered her question in a slightly subdued voice.

“Can they send me back to the other world?”

“That’s…”

“Or perhaps can they offer to undo everything that happened to me here in this world?”

“But maybe there’s something you need that you’re not aware of…”

Seon-Hyeok cut her off before she could finish responding.

“Yoo-Jung. War is a terrible thing.”

She closed her mouth and listened as he made this unexpected comment.

“You never know when you could die, or what your last moment might be like. It’s unbearably terrifying for an ordinary person like me. However.”

He had faced death, and he had killed to survive. Both were terrifying and terrible.

“Having experienced all that, I realized what I want.”

His experiences in war gave him clarity.

“And what is that?”

Yoo-Jung asked cautiously, and he answered.

“I want to eat kimchi stew. I want pork belly and soju. I want to play games in a PC bang, and I want to watch TV all day long while laying on the sofa.”

Having faced death, life in this world felt arduous and hopeless. He desperately longed for ordinary life on the other side.

“If none of that’s possible, I just want to live a peaceful life.”

A peaceful life would be great, and having his dragon would just be icing on the cake. However, the nobles could offer him neither of those.

“You really are unique.”

“I’m just a normal person.”

“That’s not true. I haven’t met a single high-tier foreigner who was dissatisfied with life in this world, since they’re able to achieve wealth they couldn’t even dream about in the other world.”

“I just want a long and quiet life. I’ve already been promised more than enough in terms of rewards, so there’s nothing else I want.”

“Then again, even before now, your goal was just to get discharged and live among the people.”

Yoo-Jung’s expression softened as she finally became convinced of his position.

“Just as you said, the nobles will never be able to give you what you want.”

She relaxed and smiled.

“But even so, try not to get caught up in unnecessary matters. Even us high-tiers are nothing more than ants to those with real power in this world, and we don’t want to get caught in the crossfire of their conflicts.”

She got up to leave, as though she was really only there to warn him about the nobility.

“Thank you for thinking about me.”

When Seon-Hyeok thanked her, she hesitated at the door. It seemed she had something else to say.

“Is there anything else?”

“I don’t know about kimchi stew, but I can treat you to pork belly. It’s not like there aren’t any pigs in this world.”

“Ah…”

Seon-Hyeok’s eyes widened at the unexpected remark.

“It’s not like we’ve forgotten about life on the other side either. So please don’t make generalizations about us.”

Yoo-Jung seemed to have overcome his attribute control when she first came to his room, but it looked as though she was once again falling under its influence as they spoke.

“Is that so? I see.”

Seon-Hyeok gave a quick response. Ahn Yoo-Jung, as though dissatisfied by the answer, disappeared into the hallway in a huff.

“I’m thankful, but it’s also burdensome.”

Seon-Hyeok was grateful that she came to him and warned him. However, he couldn’t help but sigh as he recognized that she was being influenced by his control.

After some time had passed, someone else knocked at his door.

Ugh, who was it this time.

He knew nobody in this castle, but this was his second guest within a few short hours. Seon-Hyeok opened the door with an irritated expression.

“Asha Trail, member of the Royal Knights and Royal Guard.”

“Ah. Hello.”

She had a fine face that showed no emotions and wore stunning armor. Seon-Hyeok casually greeted the unexpected visitor. Asha looked up and down at him and asked.

“May I look around the room a bit?”

“Yes. Go ahead.”

She had disturbed his rest, but he was staying in the royal castle. There was no reason for him to stop her.

“Then excuse me.”

After getting his permission, a knight named Arthur and a robed woman entered the room and began to poke around.

After watching them for a while, Seon-Hyeok looked out the door. Other knights clad in the same golden armor as Asha were standing at attention at regular intervals.

“What’s going on?”

“Oh, it’s nothing to worry about. There’s just something that needs to be checked.”

Asha answered in a professional tone when he asked, confused about the current situation. In the meantime, the robed woman waved her hand across the room and frowned.

“Are you a summoner?”

When the female mage approached him and asked, he hurriedly shook his head in surprise.

“That’s strange. There are definitely traces of a spirit here…”

It looked as though she had detected Atiya’s earlier presence in the room. Seon-Hyeok quickly turned and informed them that Ahn Yoo-Jung had visited not long ago.

“Oh, so they’re signs of her having been here. Then again, summoners specializing in wind spirits aren’t common. I just wanted to confirm.”

“But really, what are you doing here?”

Seon-Hyeok was starting to be in a bad mood, realizing that he had suddenly become the target of an inquisition.

“There’s nothing wrong here.”

“There are no traces of particularly threatening magic here either.”

After searching the room thoroughly, Asha returned to the doorway and began exchanging conversation with the mage. Seon-Hyeok, annoyed that they were talking to each other while keeping him uninformed, complained.

“Is there something missing? Are you looking for a thief? What the hell is going on?”

“Excuse us. We’ve only been fulfilling our duties, so I hope you understand.”

“What duties…”

Seon-Hyeok was about to complain even more, but he suddenly froze. He realized that Asha had introduced herself as one of the royal guards. Her title explicitly said what her responsibilities were.

She was someone who answered directly to the royal family. It was obvious that she was an important person.

As if confirming his assumptions, a girl was seen approaching past the knights from afar.

“Ah…”

Her clothing was more casual than during the welcoming ceremony, but the dress still looked elegant. It was the royal princess.

“Don’t blame them. It’s my fault for coming here without notice.”

Seon-Hyeok belatedly noticed her and dropped to one knee.

“24th Regiment heavy cavalry, 3rd platoon, Kim…”

“This isn’t an official occasion, so you can refrain from showing excessive courtesy.”

The princess passed by him with delicate steps and sat down on a chair in the room. She beckoned for him to come closer with her cute hand, which still showed signs of baby fat.

“I’m sorry to interrupt your rest. I’m sure it was difficult being on the road for so long.”

Her refined manner of speaking once again did not match her appearance. However, Seon-Hyeok was not distracted by the royal princess’ cute appearance this time. He wanted to know the purpose behind this sudden visit.

“I, I am grateful for your visit.”

Seon-Hyeok reflexively answered when the knight standing behind the princess gave him a look. His face burned in embarrassment. However, the knight seemed satisfied by his response.

“You seem much younger and kindhearted up close. It’s the appearance of someone who will bring peace and harmony to this kingdom.”

The words sounded ridiculous coming from a thirteen year old. Seon-Hyeok hurriedly bowed his head to hide the fact that he could not keep a straight face. It was truly difficult trying to hold back his laughter.

“Right. Do you like the title of Drake Knight? It’s not standard practice to give the title of knight to someone who has yet to be ordained, but I felt it appropriate considering your distinguished service and abilities.”

It was her!

Seon-Hyeok almost shouted in indignation at being given the embarrassing title. He now knew where it originated from.

Considering she was still a child, it was only natural that the name was so childish.

“I’m grateful.”

However, he outwardly expressed his gratitude. He felt immense pressure coming from the knight standing behind her, as though the knight would decapitate him the moment he said or did anything foolish.

What a monster.

The pressure he felt from this single knight was greater than what he felt against hundreds of Sastein cavalry. He broke out in a cold sweat and stiffened. This knight must have been one of the truly superhuman beings Ahn Yoo-Jung referred to earlier.

“My intent was to compensate you for your suffering, but it feels as though you are still resentful. That is why I am here.”

In fact, he was simply tired of the embarrassing titles and uncomfortable parades, but the royal princess had incorrectly attributed this to his disappointment at being initially evaluated as low-tier and being assigned to the kingdom’s periphery.

“That’s not true. If I hadn’t been assigned to the 24th Regiment, I would not have met my comrades and would not be here today.”

He wasn’t sure if his point would get across to a young child, but he nonetheless expressed his inner thoughts out of respect to the royal family. Fortunately, the princess understood his position and complimented him with a pleased expression.

“You have a rare disposition.”

The royal princess said she was relieved and stood up. With a short farewell, she left the room.

As he watched the princess leave, Asha approached him and said.

“Keep her visit confidential…”

“There’s nobody I could tell.”

Hearing his response, Asha likewise left the room.

“Ah, things are crazy.”

***

“So what did you think, Lord Reinhardt?”

Having left the room, the royal princess asked the knight who stood behind her.

“It’s been a while since someone’s been able to keep his head up in front of me.”

Surprisingly, Lord Reinhardt’s response to the princess was overly friendly and casual.

“Based on his abilities, I’d say he’s only around the level of a senior knight. However, his future is bright.”

“So you’re saying…”

“Support him, and keep him close.”

The royal princess nodded with a happy face at his response.

“It was worth the visit.”

The royal princess then asked Asha and the female mage for their opinions.

“At the very least, his eyes aren’t as dim as the other foreigners’.”

It was a bit of a stingy assessment, but it seemed as though Asha wasn’t one to readily give compliments. The princess seemed satisfied.

“I don’t trust him.”

The female mage was the only one to have a negative impression of Kim Seon-Hyeok.

“I thought you’d say that. You have no faith and question everything.”

Reinhardt smirked and teased the mage, and she answered nervously.

“That’s not it. He’s hiding something.”

“And what is he hiding?”

Seeing the princess show interest, the mage explained the situation from when she first entered the room.

“I clearly smelled a spirit. He said it was the traces left behind after a summoner came to see him, but it felt completely different from that. It seems as though he’s unaware of his own scent. Considering that, he is either in possession of something related to spirits, or he is a newly awakened summoner.”

“He’s a dragon rider, not a summoner.”

“That’s why it’s suspicious. I can smell a spirit on him even though he isn’t a summoner.”

The royal princess nodded, agreeing with her conclusion.

“So what do you want me to do about him?”

Reinhardt, Asha, and the mage exchanged glances at the royal princess’ question and answered in unison.

“Keep him close, and keep an eye on him.”

At the response, the princess seemed to think for a moment and continued after a while.

“Tomorrow’s the victory celebration, so I’ll have to see for myself.”

“What do you mean?”

“Women, wealth, and power. Those debaucherous and sweet things are never more present than at a party. I’ll be able to find out what kind of a person he is.”

The princess looked back at the hallway as she spoke. Her words did not match her childlike appearance.

“He will be my escort tomorrow.”

“As you wish! We will ensure that nothing unpleasant happens.”

The royal guards unhesitatingly responded to her command.

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