Episode 52. Proper Use of the Earth Attribute (3)

Whereas the wind attribute made the body lighter and more energetic, the earth attribute added weight and strength. As it was completely different from the power he had used until this point, it was unreasonable for Seon-Hyeok to master the attribute immediately.

He would need to think and experiment to make good use of his new power.

Starting that day, Seon-Hyeok continued to search for additional earth veins. However, he proved unsuccessful except for the first one found on the hills.

It seemed he had just been fortunate on that day.

“Ah. You’re sleeping again.”

Goldrake lay on his stomach and slept whenever they finished searching for these earth veins. Seon-Hyeok, annoyed at how happy and drowsy his drake was, woke him up, but the drake just lazily stared at his owner before falling asleep once again.

Perhaps as a result of his minimal movements, the constantly hungry Goldrake remained satiated for nearly a week.

As a result, Seon-Hyeok was finally able to enjoy his freedom without worrying about hunting.

He immediately took Stella out of the stable and rode her through the plains. It did not take long for his body, now accustomed to the drake’s waddling gait, to readjust to the elegant gallop of the warhorse, and the immediate awkwardness only lasted a moment.

“Hm. Stella is definitely a nicer ride than Goldie.”

Goldrake’s movements had resulted in him being tossed front to back and side to side, and he couldn’t even joke that it was a comfortable ride. Even as a fully-fledged rider, it was burdensome for him to try and mount a charge from the drake’s back.

Because of this, he got a completely different sensation being on horseback than he did while aboard Goldrake’s violent, straight-line sprint. His experience now felt like intensive training while fully equipped.

“Hap!”

Seon-Hyeok lunged with his cavalry spear, swung his shield, and struck with his sword. His movements while horseback were just as adept as those while on the ground, and he only dismounted after training and sweating for a long time.

“Seon-Hyeok.”

At that moment, Clark approached to talk.

“First time warming up in a while?”

“Yes. I’m much more comfortable on horseback, since it’s what I’m used to riding.”

“Well, just by looking at him, I can tell that it’s going to be difficult hitting anything with a spear while on the drake.”

After a bit of small talk, Clark got to the point.

“The regimental commander is looking for you.”

“Ah, the regimental commander, not the company commander?”

Seon-Hyeok tilted his head in confusion, as he rarely ever spoke with the regimental commander.

“Go see him. He said to come at your convenience, but earlier is always better.”

He had planned to visit him right away anyways out of curiosity. In fact, Seon-Hyeok immediately headed towards the regimental commander’s office after finishing his conversation with Clark.

“I have business at the regimental commander’s office.”

“Oh? You’re early. Come in.”

When Seon-Hyeok knocked on the door and announced that he had been summoned, the regimental commander was able to recognize his voice and welcomed him in an unusually friendly tone.

“I heard you were looking for me…”

“Yes, I called you here because I have a message to deliver. I also wanted to ask how you’ve been doing.”

The regimental commander rose from his seat and personally seated him at the prepared guest table. When Seon-Hyeok hesitated, feeling burdened by the unusual hospitality, the commander even called in a soldier to prepare drinks.

“So. I’ve let you be because I heard it’s what you prefer, but it isn’t right for a viscount to share the common barracks with everyone forever. If you would like, I can arrange for you to have your own.”

Only then did Seon-Hyeok realize why the regimental commander was being so serious. He had forgotten it himself, but he was now a noble and a valuable ally the commander wanted to keep at his side. If anything, it would have been strange if the regimental commander’s attitude towards him remained the same.

“Thank you.”

Just because he was close with his comrades, it did not mean he found it comfortable sharing a barracks with the large men. Seon-Hyeok simply hadn’t requested a separate barracks because he had told Frederick he wanted his treatment to remain the same. Since the regimental commander made the offer first, he had no reason to refuse.

“Good. Is there anything else I can do?”

“No. Thanks to you, I have been living comfortably.”

Even after this, the regimental commander kept prodding him on any potential inconveniences and additional favors he could provide.

“More than anything else, maybe just some snacks…”

“That’s true. Men can’t live just eating rice all the time.”

This would not have been possible earlier. Seon-Hyeok recalled his later days as a sergeant and skillfully requested this and that, and the regimental commander readily signed off on his demands.

“Okay. Feel free to come tell me any inconveniences you may have. Oh, and the reason I called for you.”

The regimental commander took a sip of the drink on the table and finally got to the main subject.

“The commander wants to see you. He mentioned something about an earlier promise – do you know what that might be?”

“Ah…”

Busy with other matters, he had completely forgotten about it, and he only remembered it then.

‘I, Wittenfeld Royen Mangsk, commander-in-chief of the western forces of the Adenburg Kingdom, permanently grant the foreigner, Kim Seon-Hyeok, part of my territory. This transfer of territory is guaranteed by the Mangsk and royal families, and none may dispute this in the future.’

The commander had promised him a part of his own territory on the condition that he remain with the kingdom. Instead of leaving the Adenburg Kingdom, Seon-Hyeok had even become a noble.

He was stunned by his own carelessness as he remembered this important promise.

“It seems like you have something in mind.”

“The commander once promised me a territory to call my own.”

Having nothing to hide, Seon-Hyeok answered honestly, and the regimental commander responded excitedly.

“Oh! Your own territory! You really are becoming part of the nobility.”

It seemed as though nobles were held in different regard depending on whether they held territory. The regimental commander said he also had the title of viscount, but in reality, he was closer to being a deputy of the Mangsk commander.

“Oh, oh. I’m worried I may have offended you at any point.”

The regimental commander’s attitude once again changed after hearing his answer. Seon-Hyeok noticed that after treating him cordially as equals, the regimental commander now spoke even more politely.

“If it’s something great like that, then you should go see him right away. Shouldn’t you get your land and become a proper noble as soon as possible?”

The regimental commander quickly arranged for the requisite documents to be completed, and Seon-Hyeok was granted permission to leave his post for Fort Mangsk whenever he wanted.

“What did the regimental commander say?”

“Well, I’m sure he tried to act friendly. He’s not quite as bad as the company commander, but he treats important people well.”

Seon-Hyeok’s comrades rushed at him and made guesses on the preceding events as soon as he returned to the barracks. He arrogantly boasted about the snacks and other favors they would receive in the future.

“Oh? Guess we’re in for a treat. It really is different being around someone influential.”

There was no such thing as a proud soldier in front of snacks, and the riders all flattered him while rubbing their hands together. However, this was just the beginning. Seon-Hyeok took out a piece of paper and waved it in front of them.

“Guess what this is?”

“Huh? What’s that? It even has the regimental commander’s seal.”

The men’s eyes grew wide as they followed the paper being shaken in the air.

“You, it can’t be…”

Seon-Hyeok spoke proudly as he saw their reaction.

“That’s right. A paid leave. It’s for a month, and we’re permitted to be anywhere in the western territories. I can take three others.”

“Me!”

“Me! Me! Me!”

The men clung onto Seon-Hyeok fervently, as though he was a faith healer who had just performed a miracle.

“Who should I take…”

At that signal, the men began their appeals for why they should be the ones to go on leave. Some were quick to approach and massage his shoulders, while others tried to buy his sympathy through heart-wrenching stories.

In the end, it was decided that Hansen, Jonasson, and Jackson would be the three lucky soldiers. As a captain, Clark needed to focus on training the new recruits and could not leave. Thus, Seon-Hyeok’s replacement choice was Jackson, the most well-behaved of the new recruits. Since he couldn’t take the person he was closest with, he instead chose someone who he could order around.

“Ah. I will be loyal and do my best!”

Jackson always showed excessive respect and camaraderie, and thus he was excited to leave with his respected seniors. His actions were somewhat burdensome, but not unpleasant, and Seon-Hyeok smirked as he responded.

“Loyalty’s for the royal family in the capital. Just do what you’re told.”

While Jackson made a fuss, Hansen and Jonasson finished packing and spoke up.

“Oh? Weren’t you planning to save the new uniform since we haven’t received extras yet?”

“You idiot. Why do you think the regimental commander gave you three additional leaves of absence? We’re supposed to be your retinue. In other words, we’re responsible for escorting you while you go to Fort Mangsk and take care of business there.”

“So we need to look the part. After all, you’re a noble.”

Their explanation made sense. Seon-Hyeok was no longer an ordinary rider, but a viscount, and it was a matter of honor for the regimental commander to permit him to take a retinue.

“So it’s not that you just wanted to wear the new uniform?”

However, Seon-Hyeok didn’t want to admit his shortsightedness and spoke out.

“Uh. I only have the old uniform…”

“What’s so important about a uniform? It’s the person that matters. Don’t worry about useless things.”

It wasn’t something for Hansen to say while showing off his new uniform, but the others just laughed. It wasn’t as though they could get Jackson a new uniform then and there anyways.

Seon-Hyeok was ready to head straight to Fort Mangsk, but he ran into an unexpected roadblock. He considered taking Stella but decided against it, knowing that the ravenous drake would cause problems if left alone. However, Goldrake refused to get up.

“Ugh, get up!”

Goldrake stayed put no matter how much he tried. He lazily blinked his eyes and closed them again, showing no signs of listening to Seon-Hyeok.

Seon-Hyeok wondered whether there was a problem, but the drake’s powerful snores indicated otherwise. In the end, he was forced to wait a few days until Goldrake woke up, even if it was purely out of hunger.

And four days later, Goldrake finally arose.

“Huh?”

However, the area around Goldrake was a complete mess.

“Bleh! What is this?”

“Ugh, this is gross. What is it?”

Hansen and Jonasson had been waiting to leave at a moment’s notice, and they were shocked to see a layer of film surrounding Goldrake.

“It can’t be…”

Seon-Hyeok ignored them and leaned down to pick up what felt like scales. His eyes grew wide.

“It’s skin?”

The membranes and scales scattered around Goldrake were an indicator of the monster’s growth. Realizing this, he turned to look at Goldrake, who puffed out his chest, as though boasting of his development.

Thud.

The slight movement tore the joints off the armor that the royal princess had commissioned for him. With that, Goldrake’s chest was revealed. It seemed even more majestic and solid than before.

“You grew.”

Growl.

Goldrake let out a low-pitched growl. It wasn’t just the sunlight that caused his scales to flash a brilliant gold.

Goldrake had grown bigger and a bit stronger. Now, he was large enough to look down on most horses, and his hind legs grew more powerful to the point where the force behind his footsteps was incomparable from before. Naturally, he had become faster and somewhat able to keep up with a sprinting horse.

“Good boy. How nice of you to grow up so well on your own.”

Seon-Hyeok looked proudly at his drake, whose development was likely related to the earth energy. The only problem was that his mount’s increased size resulted in a much bumpier ride.

However, this did not delay their schedule. Just as he had planned, Seon-Hyeok left the camp once Goldrake woke up, and riding alongside him were Hansen, Jonasson, and Jackson.

“Let’s take care of business at the fort before enjoying ourselves.”

Perhaps because they had heard all the details regarding their leave of absence, Hansen and Jonasson did not express their disapproval despite their love for playing around. Jackson, meanwhile, wasn’t in a position to express his opinion from the beginning. As such, the party headed straight to Fort Mangsk.

“You’re here later than I thought. I expected you’d come right away.”

“Something came up in the meantime.”

The commander welcomed Seon-Hyeok as though he had been waiting for him, then got straight to the point.

“I can give you one of these three territories. You can pick which one.”

The commander spread out a detailed map of the western territories within the Adenburg Kingdom and pointed to three different places. However, all that could be gleaned from the map were mountains, rivers, and the locations of towns, and there was no way Seon-Hyeok could make a decision from the map alone.

“Even if I can choose, I don’t know anything…”

“Seeing as you’ll be ruling over this territory in the future, you shouldn’t make a decision based on what I tell you. Go see the places for yourself. It’s not too late for you to do so. It really doesn’t matter to me which territory you choose.”

The commander encouraged Seon-Hyeok to visit the territories before making a decision, and even offered to have someone show him the way. Seon-Hyeok accepted the proposal, as he also thought it would be better to do so.

“Well, that’s that…”

Seeing as the matter was resolved, the commander pushed the map off to the side. He looked at Seon-Hyeok quietly before subtly asking.

“You’re a noble and a knight now, so don’t you think you should get a squire?”

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