Episode 54. Rapid Advancement

“I’ve decided.”

After returning from the tour of the territories, Seon-Hyeok immediately went to visit the commander.

“Aren’t you being too hasty?”

The commander expressed his concern over the decision, able to tell that the foreigner had no time to further deliberate on the decision after returning from his visit. However, Seon-Hyeok remained firm.

“It might be hasty, but it’s not the wrong decision.”

In the first place, he neither wanted to live a life of splendor nor play as lord of a territory. All he sought was a bit of land and enough money to live a quiet life. If the land also helped him develop as a dragon rider, that would be a considerable bonus.

In that sense, his decision was not a bad choice.

“Okay. There’s a story behind each territory, after all. If you liked that one in particular, then there must be a good reason for it.”

The commander did not try to dissuade him.

“There will be a lot to prepare and do. It will take a lot of effort to settle down there, but having your own land is worth the trouble.”

Seon-Hyeok belatedly protested when the commander said he would send the details of the territory through Julian.

“So who the hell is she? I can’t believe you sent such a young girl as a guide…”

“So was she a burden?”

No, that wasn’t it.

Julian was clearly a talented rider and an excellent guide. On top of that, she had a profound knowledge of the land, and she was of considerable help.

“Then what’s the problem? Why does it matter if the guide is a child or an elder, as long as they do their job well?”

As expected, there was no way to outmaneuver the commander by protesting like this. Seon-Hyeok finally waved the white flag and decided to ask him directly.

“Is she the squire candidate you were going to recommend?”

The commander did not respond, but his silence was essentially an affirmation. Seon-Hyeok sighed once again and asked why he wanted to recommend her.

“Publically, I didn’t think there would be anyone more helpful to you in your duties as a knight and a new lord. Personally, I also felt sorry such a talented child had to go through such frustrations simply because she’s a woman.”

It was an overly honest answer befitting the commander.

“So I’ll ask you once again. Will you take that child as your squire?”

However, the commander’s attitude was too earnest for his actions to be solely out of consideration for Julian’s personal hardships. He couldn’t help but ask why.

“Why do you care so much? Is she such an important child that you have to get involved like this?”

“Everyone in this world cares about their blood. That’s even more true for old men like me.”

Seon-Hyeok, after looking dumbfoundedly for a moment, was able to grasp the meaning of the commander's words.

“Then Julian…”

Just as the commander said, it was complicated work being granted a new piece of territory. Some of the simpler matters included deciding on a motto to symbolize the land, while a larger-scale issue was becoming familiar with the entire territory and its relationships with the surrounding areas.

“There isn’t even a proper name for the land yet, so we call the town Rheinperle after the river that runs through the area.”

Julian was knowledgeable in her explanations, almost as if she was already a talented bureaucrat. It seemed to be too much information for a young girl to know, but there was a reason behind her erudite nature.

Seon-Hyeok recalled his conversation with the commander as he looked at Julian’s face.

‘Julian Royen Mangsk. That was the child’s name before she decided to take her mother’s surname.’

‘You mean…’

‘Julian is my granddaughter.’

‘But why do you want to send your precious granddaughter away with me, someone with no connections in this world?’

‘Six years ago, Julian’s father was killed in a battle against the Sasteins. She blames me for his death.’

In their war six years ago, Julian’s father, as the commander’s son, led an infantry unit that became surrounded by enemy troops.

Though he heard the sad news, the commander recognized that the situation in the entire western front was desperate. Knowing he could not save everyone, he dispatched his elite cavalry to the most pressing battlefield instead of rescuing his son.

Julian’s father fought desperately as he awaited reinforcements and was ultimately killed by the Sastein cavalry.

The grief and despair Julian felt at the loss of her father was redirected at her grandfather.

‘However, I’m the commander-in-chief of the western armies. I can’t change my priorities because of personal feelings – even if she curses me for being cold-hearted.’

For the first time, the giant, unshakable tree, seemingly undeterred by fierce wind and rain, expressed its agony.

‘I kept her by my side by promoting her, but I’m ashamed to continue doing so. Mangsk isn’t a good place for such a child to grow.’

Only then did Seon-Hyeok understand why the commander offered him his own territory in return for the annihilation of the Sastein cavalry. It had been the commander’s way of thanking him for taking revenge on the Sastein, which he himself had been unable to do at the time.

‘So I beg of you. It has to be you. No other noble will do. Others will value Julian’s noble background more than her ability, and they’ll only shelter her and treat her as a showpiece.’

‘I’m nothing more than a foreigner.’

‘I’m asking you precisely because you’re a foreigner. I’ve heard that your kind doesn’t discriminate against gender as long as the talent is there. You’re the only one who can help bring the most out of her abilities. So I’ll ask you once again. Please…’

“… viscount. Viscount, sir!”

Seon-Hyeok had been recalling his conversation with the commander, and he raised his head after hearing an urgent voice.

“Ah, so where were we?”

“We were talking about the number of houses and crop yield in Rheinperle. Let me explain it again.”

Seon-Hyeok shook off his wandering thoughts as he heard Julian’s sharp reply.

So what of the commander’s request? 

It wasn’t as though he had burdened him with someone incompetent, and he did not ask for help reconciling with his granddaughter. His request was clearly within reason.

‘Please, I ask of you. I promise you I’ll compensate you adequately for this whenever you wish.’

The commander-in-chief of the Western Army, the Guardian of the Kingdom, had even promised him reasonable compensation. Seon-Hyeok had no reason to care about Julian’s background or debate what to do.

He simply needed to treat Julian as a capable talent he had acquired.

The transfer of lands was carried out quickly. Seon-Hyeok was now the lord of two castles, Drachen and Rheinperle.

Seon-Hyeok Rheinperle Kim Drachen.

The combined name sounded awful, but he had to accept it given that it was a symbol of his authority and status as a noble.

“There are other foreigners who have reached the position of viscount, but you’re the first to have your own lands. I sincerely congratulate you on becoming a lord.”

The commander and other key figures at Fort Mangsk offered their congratulations.

“Then all that’s left now is your military affiliation. I assume you still want to stay with your comrades?”

“Yes.”

Seon-Hyeok quickly answered the commander’s question.

“It’s time for me to keep my final promise then.”

With a solemn expression, the commander told him to straighten up. Once Seon-Hyeok assumed proper posture, the commander continued.

“With the authority as the commander-in-chief of the Western Army granted by the Adenburg royal family, I name Viscount Drachen company commander of the Drake Cavalry. Moving forward, the Drake Cavalry will be based in the Rheinperle territory and not the 24th Regiment garrison, and I will delegate all management and personnel decisions to the new company commander. Do you accept, Viscount Drachen?”

“Yes, I accept.”

“Be faithful to the royal family as a soldier of the kingdom, and protect our lands from foreign invasion.”

“I understand.”

The solemn-faced commander quickly smiled and offered his congratulations. And with that, Seon-Hyeok became the leader of the Drake Cavalry.

“Wow. You’re really our leader now?”

“I guess we’ll really have to watch our tone in the future, seeing that Seon-Hyeok’s our superior now.”

“Is that really necessary? You’ll just have to be careful in official settings.”

Seon-Hyeok shook his head as Hansen and Jonasson offered their congratulations. However, they did not back down, and it seemed as though he would have to play the role of their superior going forward.

“Well, just until the end of this vacation. It’ll be awkward for us to fix our language immediately too.”

Hansen gave him a hard time, but Seon-Hyeok said it didn’t matter. After all, he had no intention of exercising his authority over those who helped him become a fully-fledged member of the cavalry.

“Then these guys…”

“Viscount Drachen.”

Emma had been listening to their conversation and tried to comment, but felt awkward addressing him by his new title. Jonasson noticed and helped.

“Will you be staying in Viscount Drachen’s territory then?”

The title felt awkward, but he nodded and expressed his affirmation of her words.

“When?”

“I’m sure it will take time to prepare. There are a hundred soldiers, and they aren’t even infantry. Even if we can stay in the barracks, the horses will need a proper place to stay.”

Emma seemed to reach a decision after hearing Jonasson’s response.

“You, you can’t be…”

“Why? I can’t?”

Seon-Hyeok blinked, unable to figure out what they were talking about. Emma bowed her head and asked.

“Viscount Drachen. No, Lord Drachen. Please allow me and the children here to settle in your lands.”

“Ah…”

Belatedly grasping the situation, Seon-Hyeok subconsciously looked towards Hansen and Jonasson. The two men shrugged.

***

“Congratulations, new company commander.”

The 24th Regiment commander came out to greet Seon-Hyeok. It seemed he had already heard the news.

“Will you be my successor then? Well, that’s not a bad thing. If it’s you, I’ll be able to leave this post without worrying.”

The situation was enough that Company Commander Frederick could feel as though he was being pushed aside, but he said he would follow the commander’s decision without hesitation. Frederick seemed to be satisfied with any position, so long as he held the title of senior knight.

“Huh? Why are they out?”

After a brief conversation with the two commanders, Seon-Hyeok headed straight towards the cavalry barracks. Before he even reached the barracks, he saw the riders dressed in uniform and lined up.

“Clark?”

“Cavalry!”

Noticing Clark, Seon-Hyeok smiled, and Clark shouted out.

“Salute the new company commander!”

Before he could figure out what was going on, the nearly hundred riders beat at their chests and stamped their feet.

“Forward!”

“Ah…”

Seon-Hyeok looked around, not expecting this treatment.

“Company commander. You should address them.”

Clark’s formal attitude was unlike anything in their previous relationship.

“What am I supposed to…”

“The company commander has no words to say! We should speak up instead!”

As if they had been waiting for this, the riders shouted in unison.

“Congratulations on your promotion to company commander!”

“We welcome the Drake Knight!”

“We will only follow you from now on!”

The organized shouts soon devolved into frantic cheering.

“Wow! So cool! The new commander’s the best!”

“Clark. Hansen. Jonasson…”

Seon-Hyeok laughed as he saw his colleagues join the ranks of the cavalry and cheer him on.

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