Episode 66. Monster Hunter (1)

Julian answered Seon-Hyeok’s question with a somewhat reluctant expression.

“There are people known as monster hunters.”

“Monster hunters?”

Just thinking about the existence of a group that professionally hunted powerful monsters made his heart race. It weirdly appealed to his masculinity.

“Yes. Some are commissioned to dispose of monsters, and others find and hunt rare monsters on their own. There are none who know more about them.”

“Where can I find them? No, actually, are there people like that in our territory?”

Julian expressed her deep concerns when her master showed an inclination to call in monster hunters at a moment’s notice.

“Their job is to hunt monsters, so their knowledge and experience might be of help to you. However, I would like to dissuade you from bringing such scoundrels into our land.”

Julian’s acrimonious comments piqued his interest.

“They’re wicked people who don’t recognize a lord’s authority and commit illegal acts like they are nothing. Murder, arson, and rape always happen in the villages they visit, and there have even been severe cases where the village itself disappeared. Bringing such criminals into this territory could have a serious impact on your reputation.”

From the looks of it, monster hunters were little more than bandits when they had nothing else to do. Seon-Hyeok found himself worrying as Julian repeatedly expressed her concerns.

“But what information could you be looking for that you’re considering bringing such unrighteous people into this land?”

“Ah, there’s something I need to find.”

“Is it important?”

“It is to me.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Seon-Hyeok explained that he was looking for a fairy dragon. He couldn’t tell her of the dragon’s existence or the abilities of a dragon rider chief, but felt it wouldn’t be a problem if Julian knew part of the truth.

“A fairy dragon? I’ve heard of them.”

Surprisingly, Julian knew of the existence of fairy dragons. Seon-Hyeok jumped out of his seat and urged her to explain.

“I just meant I heard about them in a fairy tale a caregiver told me when I was young.”

“Ah…”

Feeling let down, Seon-Hyeok sat back down. Julian looked at him with an apologetic expression.

“Should I tell you about it?”

“Ugh. I’m sure it’s better than nothing.”

He didn’t even know what a fairy dragon looked like, so he waited to hear Julian’s story just in case he could gain useful information.

“Once upon a time, there lived a fairy dragon.”

“Huh?”

To his surprise, Julian seemed like she would tell him the fairy tale word-for-word. Seon-Hyeok’s expression conveyed his shock at the start of Julian’s story, and seeing this, Julian stammered an excuse.

“My lord, you asked me to…”

“Right, right. Go on.”

His face distorted as he attempted to hold back his laughter. Feeling as though she was being made fun of, Julian’s expression grew cold.

“The fairy dragon, who lived in the eastern forest, was suddenly left alone one day, and unable to endure its loneliness, it went down to a human village. Though it made a friend, this friend only knew how to use the fairy dragon and didn’t truly care for it. In the end, the fairy dragon was abandoned after being exploited. Angry, it ate the human alive and made his friends, parents, and neighbors all fall into an eternal sleep. After getting its revenge, the fairy dragon returned to its forest.”

Already upset, Julian’s tone as she told the story was horribly businesslike and matter-of-fact, rather than that of a storyteller. Seon-Hyeok had a disappointed look, having missed out on the chance to see her in a different light.

“Why’s a fairy tale so violent?”

“I believe most fairy tales are. Are there different kinds?”

Come to think of it, the fairy tales from the other worlds could all be interpreted as cruel and scary. Speechless, he quickly changed the subject.

“What did the fairy dragon from the story look like?”

“I was told it was very small and beautiful. The fairy dragon from the tale had sparkling purple scales, butterfly-like wings, and a magical horn.”

Seon-Hyeok listened to the story hoping to get useful information, but he now realized he lacked the information to judge whether the story was helpful. In the end, he had to be content with getting a rare peek into Julian’s childhood and ended the conversation.

“Try to find those monster hunters. I’ll think about whether or not to bring them here once you find them.”

“Ugh. I will do so if you wish. Please understand that it may take some time to track them down, since monster hunters never stay in one place.”

Julian’s actions as she lowered her head and turned around felt rough. It was obvious she was sulking at being treated like a child. However, Seon-Hyeok laughed – even this reaction felt like a child’s foolishness.

“Children should act like children.”

It wasn’t something for him to say, considering he passed on most of the territory’s administrative duties to that very child.

***

The water wheel was finished without issue. Einst Jeneger even completed the development of a power transfer device that Seon-Hyeok hadn’t brought up, and he showed the lord a complete watermill.

“Wow! I heard mages were the geniuses of this world, and it was true!”

“To be honest, I received some information from the capital. It seems as though there was a similar idea in the past, considering that there was a design that was fairly close to this finished product. Thanks to that, I was able to reduce the amount of trial and error necessary to complete its development.”

Seon-Hyeok admired the watermill installed in a shoddy cabin alongside the river. On the other hand, however, Einst Jeneger showed none of the enthusiasm he first expressed. When asked why, Einst Jeneger responded with a sigh.

“An order came down from the royal family. They permitted the development and testing of the water wheels, but prohibited its installation outside the Rheinperle territory. In addition, they ordered that you, as the lord, manage the waterwheels and prevent normal people from using it freely.

Even a simple watermill using the water wheel could reduce the amount of time spent milling and improve the quality of life for his people, but the royal family unexpectedly stepped in to take issue with his actions. Feeling betrayed, he asked Einst Jeneger why.

“They also had a separate message for you.”

Instead of explaining their rationale, Einst showed him the additional message sent by the royal family.

“Why in the world…”

Seon-Hyeok had a frustrated expression as he read the official document. As always, the royal letter containing all sorts of rhetoric could be summed up in a single sentence.

‘Creating new inventions is permitted, but sharing their benefits with the people is prohibited.’

Ultimately, they were telling him to use his inventions for his own use only. It was a surprisingly irrational position for the royal family, which had until now been reasonable in their actions.

“Perhaps…”

Einst Jeneger looked around for a moment, and confirming there was nobody around, he continued his explanation.

“You’re aware that there have been mass summonings before you, right? It seems like the kingdoms affected suffered serious headaches as a result of them. The foreigners made absurd claims throughout the country, causing a disturbance among those who listened.”

“Ah…”

The moment he heard this, Seon-Hyeok had a hunch. He realized what kinds of claims were made by the foreigners, and why the inventions developed in the royal capital were all luxurious and intended for the nobility.

“I know there were quite a few useful inventions developed at that time, but now there are only traces of them left in the Royal Mages’ library. The rest must have been destroyed by the royal family and the nobles.”

“In the end, they’re saying that the elites suffer if commoners are allowed to live a more prosperous life.”

His tone turned sour as his excitement at the thought of feeding his people faded away.

“V, viscount!”

Einst Jeneger panicked as he heard the words that might get him into serious trouble.

“I understand. I will do as the royal family commands. I will manage this water wheel myself.”

“That’s a wise decision. There’s no reason to ignore the royal family’s wishes and be overzealous with new inventions.”

Einst Jeneger only breathed a sigh of relief once Seon-Hyeok quickly clarified that he would obey the royal command.

“But by the way, it looks like you’re quite familiar with these events even though they happened a long time ago.”

“As you know, I learned from a young age that I didn’t have much magical talent, so I focused on reading and expanding my knowledge instead.”

Seon-Hyeok praised Einst a few more times for his humility before asking something in passing.

“So what happened to those foreigners from then?”

“Those with discordant thoughts were all ex…”

Caught up in the atmosphere, Einst Jeneger was responding before he quickly shut his mouth.

“So they were executed.”

Was this what he had been aiming for from the beginning? 

Seeing the foreigner’s cold expression, the old examiner’s face darkened as well.

“Please pretend you didn’t hear what I just said. If this story gets out, my position…”

“Don’t worry. I will never speak of this to anyone else.”

Only then did color return to the examiner’s face.

“But in turn, will you do me a favor?”

However, Seon-Hyeok wasn’t finished.

“I’ll keep your secret; so can you tell me a bit more about the previous mass summoning?”

***

“Hello, lord. It’s an honor to meet you.”

The man's armor was mismatched and disorderly, his loose hair was matted, as though it hadn’t been washed in days, and the words coming through his yellowed teeth were those of a delinquent.

The monster hunter Julian called in after asking around looked far different from what he expected. Seon-Hyeok had imagined they would be brave and extraordinary warriors who fought against indomitable bests.

“Impertinent! Do you know who you’re in front of, daring to raise your head so disrespectfully?”

The man was on one knee, but had his head held high. Irritated, Julian reprimanded the man for his rudeness.

“I’m uneducated and do not know how to properly show my respects. Will this be better?”

Even when he prostrated himself before the lord, his posture seemed like that of a thug. It was a truly bizarre talent.

“You…”

Seon-Hyeok raised his hand to stop Julian as she was about to step forward. It was evident that the monster hunter’s attitude would not change much, no matter how much he was reprimanded. In addition, he didn’t pay much attention to his own authority as lord in the first place, so he had no intention of dwelling on this situation.

“I’ve been told you know the most about monsters?”

“My job is to track and hunt monsters, so I do know a bit more than most.”

What mattered to him now was not correcting the monster hunter’s reprehensible manners, but rather getting information about the dragon subspecies.

“That’s good. I have something to ask.”

Seon-Hyeok got straight to the point.

“Have you heard anything about fairy dragons?”

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