Episode 68. Monster Hunter (3)

“Serpent?”

The reason Seon-Hyeok went against Julian’s opposition and thought of bringing in the monster hunters was because he was unknowledgeable about monsters. Naturally, he had no idea what this serpent was.

“Sea serpent. It’s a monster also sometimes known as a sea dragon. Whenever they’re around, it’s expected that at least a ship or two out at sea will sink. In that sense, they’re also known as the disaster of the seas.”

Dixon gave a desperate explanation about sea serpents when Seon-Hyeok showed interest.

“If they’re called sea dragons, it’s the type of monster I’ve been looking for.”

At this reply, color began to return to Dixon’s deathly pale face.

“But I can’t trust the words of a scammer. How would I know if you’re trying to trick me, like when you sold that fake unicorn to the eastern lord?”

However, he needed to hear what Dixon said until the end. Seon-Hyeok wasn’t dumb enough to immediately trust the con artist’s words.

“I, it’s for real this time! Please believe me!”

No matter how desperately he shouted out, trust could not be created out of nothing.

“But why now? If you had told me earlier, I would have pretended to believe you at the very least.”

“T, that… that’s because I haven’t seen it for myself. I just overheard what some sailors said during my travels in the south, and I couldn’t remember it properly. If you don’t trust me, please send someone to check. You’ll realize that I’m telling you the truth.”

When he put it like that, Seon-Hyeok wondered whether he should go against his instincts and believe him just this once.

“Where in the south?”

“It’s a place called Rugenburg. I’m certain someone there will remember, since several ships were lost at the time because of the sea serpent.”

Since roads weren’t properly established aside from the few main routes to the capital, it was difficult to send messengers anywhere in the kingdom. They were expensive and time-consuming. Believing the scammer’s words posed a significant risk.

“If it turns out that I’m lying, you can kill me.”

Noticing the lord’s inner debate, Dixon came forward confidently. He spoke in a solemn manner, but Seon-Hyeok just snorted in derision.

“Well, it’s worth checking at least.”

It was true that he was leaning towards believing Dixon. Seon-Hyeok verified a few more things before ordering Julian to send a person to check.

“Send him back to the mines.”

“W, why?! I wasn’t lying! Please believe me.”

Seon-Hyeok turned to Dixon as he was desperately pleading with him and spoke coldly.

“Whether or not it’s true, you’re still a criminal who caused harm to countless people.”

“I didn’t do anything to harm the people of this land!”

It was useless. Seon-Hyeok had no intention of releasing Dixon in the first place.

“Pay the price of your sins by wandering those dark, narrow tunnels for the rest of your life. That’s the only consideration I can give you.”

“Please, just once! I will live a good…”

Seon-Hyeok waved his hand, and Dixon was dragged back to the mines at the hands of the tough men.

“Hm. A sea serpent.”

There was no way for him to know whether this sea serpent was a dragon subspecies. He simply held out hope because sea serpents were also known as sea dragons.

“But what will you do if you find this sea serpent?”

“Of course I’ll have to capture…”

Seon-Hyeok froze as he mindlessly answered Julian’s question.

“Disregarding whether or not you can catch this sea dragon, how will you transport it, and where will you keep it?”

He agonized for a while at the unexpected obstacle and laughed.

“We’ll worry about it when we get there. We don’t even know if he was telling us the truth.”

“That’s true, but…”

Hearing the carefree answer, Julian mumbled for a moment before shutting up. As her master said, it wasn’t necessary to worry about those matters already.

“I’ll find a messenger as soon as possible to check.”

“I believe in you, Julian.”

Julian’s face didn’t look good as she heard those words. At her young age, she was almost singlehandedly taking care of the territory’s affairs, so it was natural for her to be exhausted. However, given there weren’t other similarly talented people available, there was no alternative.

“I know you’re struggling to handle everything on your own. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.”

Julian shook her head as he expressed his regrets.

“No. Increasing your strength will lead to improved status for the territory, and once that happens, other lords won’t be able to look down on us. So, please leave trivial matters to me and focus on fulfilling your goals.”

Seon-Hyeok’s desire for managing and developing his territory had taken a hit recently. However, this was ironically replaced by a focus on personal growth and development. This was a direct result of hearing the history of the mass summonings from Einst Jeneger.

***

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

Einst Jeneger’s expression had hardened the moment Seon-Hyeok uttered those words.

“Viscount Drachen…”

“I’m not asking for much. I just want to know what people came and went, and how they lived.”

Seon-Hyeok bowed and asked for this favor.

“Sigh…”

After some hesitation, Einst Jeneger began to speak.

“You must keep this a secret.”

“Of course. I’ll take it to my grave. I will never speak of it anywhere else.”

Seon-Hyeok repeatedly stressed that he would keep the secret strictly confidential, and only then did the tight-lipped examiner finally open his mouth.

“It’s unknown how many mass summonings there were. The mass summoning before yours was the first time the kingdom was able to notice the signs of the phenomenon and set up a system to gather the foreigners in one place.”

Einst Jeneger explained that previous mass summonings looked completely different from what Seon-Hyeok experienced.

“Whereas current systems are designed to gather all foreigners in one place to encourage their awakening, previous mass summonings were chaotic. Foreigners appeared randomly across the continent, and with the exception of those who experienced an awakening and were recognized, it was impossible to know how many foreigners there were.”

As a result, there were no accurate records, and even the rare sources of information he had access to lacked details.

“In that case, when did the last mass summoning occur?”

“According to records, it took place about 200 years ago. No more than 70 foreigners appeared in Adenburg at that time. Like with you, the royal family accepted all the foreigners that appeared, and it was thanks to them that the royal family was able to limit the power of the nobility and exercise their dominance.”

“Are any of their names known? Or were there any who left significant accomplishments?”

“I do not know. Strangely enough, there were no records of individual foreigners. There was nothing more than a quick summary.”

It was evident someone had intentionally omitted or destroyed the records of the foreigners. Foreigners always had extraordinary abilities, so there was no way that records wouldn’t exist for even the higher-tier foreigners.

“I think I can understand the royal family’s benevolence towards foreigners if the previous group sided with them against the nobles.”

“There aren’t any who doubt the dignity and authority of the royal family, but there have always been those…”

Seon-Hyeok asked about even earlier mass summonings. Einst Jeneger hesitated, but decided he had nothing to hide at this point. He spoke about the rebellion started by the foreigners, how their inventions had interfered with the natural order of this world, and how the world had almost fallen into chaos.

“The records refer to those days as ‘the days when knights lost their pride and wise mages went blind.’ And if you look at the history, it’s true that there was a significant decrease in the number of skilled knights and their families, and a similar decline in the number of mages.”

He mentioned that the current policy for knights and mages to stay above conflicts, despite their traditional roles at the forefront of battles, was because people remembered those dark ages of declining swordsmanship and magic.

“It’s strange. If there were so many great beings like knights and mages, how did the foreigners’ rebellion become such a big problem? Isn’t the difference in power too significant for a few foreigners to overcome?”

It was a time when there were few foreigners and many more knights and mages. It didn’t make sense how those foreigners were responsible for the decline of the superhuman beings. When Seon-Hyeok pointed this out, Einst Jeneger carefully laid out his hypothesis.

“The records say that the armies led by the foreigners didn’t lack power compared to the knights and mages. My assumption is that the foreigners of that time were more powerful than those here today. No, it could also be that there were internal conflicts within the kingdom. Otherwise, so many great individuals would not have been lost.”

They were foreigners with the power to face the superhuman people of this kingdom, but in the end, they were defeated and had been erased from the annals of history. Seon-Hyeok once again found himself afraid of the transcendent power of the knights and mages.

He heard more stories after that, but there was little new information. As he had already been told, the records of the foreigners had been thoroughly erased, and he wasn’t able to get specific accounts of those who preceded him.

“But by the way.”

After hearing all of Einst’s stories, Seon-Hyeok was lost in thought for a while. He suddenly had a pressing thought.

“So I know a lot of time has passed and many people died from those early mass summonings, but what happened to all the foreigners from the mass summoning 200 years ago?”

This was the most pressing question. If the foreigners really had helped the royal family establish their authority, at least one or two of them should have held onto their power as meritorious retainers and passed it down.

Even if the names didn’t remain, shouldn’t there be some traces of their existence? 

It happened only 200 years ago, but there were only vague notions of the foreigners. It was almost as though they had all disappeared at once.

“There aren’t any records, so I don’t dare speculate.”

“By any chance.”

Seon-Hyeok quietly spoke, betraying his complicated inner feelings.

“Is it possible they went back to their original world?”

***

Seon-Hyeok had a lot of thoughts after his conversation with Einst Jeneger that day. He had the status of a favored foreigner whose future was highly anticipated, but even so, it didn’t mean that the royal family truly had full confidence in him.

Naturally, the royal family would not sit back and watch if his power grew beyond a certain extent. It was possible they would create an excuse to rescind his titles and demand that he return his territory.

The moment he realized this, Seon-Hyeok had decided to focus on growing his individual strength rather than develop his territory. Land could be taken away, but nobody could take away his strength as a dragon rider.

Despite this, and no matter how uncertain the future may be, he couldn’t help but concern himself about the security of his territory. His strength was already beyond that of an average knight, but it was impossible to hold back many opposing forces by himself, and he could not protect his vast territory alone.

Meanwhile, if he relied on the Drake Cavalry, there was the danger that the territory would be undefended in their absence. Therefore, he recruited around 20 soldiers from the well-behaved and strong residents. This was a trial run to raise his own soldiers.

“Nice to meet you.”

The recruits, armed with nothing but a single spear, looked at the lord and spoke among themselves. Seon-Hyeok smiled even at the sight of the ragtag bunch.

“Who said you could show your teeth?”

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