Episode 84. The Birth of a Legend (3)

The battle was over. The Noctein cavalry that attacked the camp was almost completely annihilated, and only a few survived and fled. It had been a miraculous defense of the garrison. However, the sacrifices made for victory were too great.

The 22nd Regiment had fought desperately without giving up until the end, and more than half of them had fallen in battle. Likewise, the cavalry that so bravely rode out of the garrison to shatter the enemy’s fighting spirit lost half of its forces. It was unknown how much worse the casualties would have been if the priests from the surrounding territories did not come to offer support so soon after the battle.

“Thank you. Thank you. If it weren’t for you, those guys wouldn’t have been able to see another day. I’m sure you haven’t been able to sleep at all, so please go get some rest. It would be a shame if such good people collapsed from overwork.”

The haggard-looking priest waved his hand as the senior infantry captain repeatedly thanked them in place of his fallen commanders.

“No. We’re not so frail as to collapse from this much work.”

The priest’s words weren’t simply false bravado. The healers had dark shadows under their eyes after staying up for two days, but even despite their haggard appearances, their eyes remained shining and focused. Then again, they hadn’t treated that many wounded.

“It’s unfortunate. If we had been a bit braver and had come earlier, we could have saved more lives…”

The battle had been so fierce that even the wounded had to continue contributing, and by the time the violent fighting finally came to an end, most of the wounded had fallen. By the time the priests arrived, countless dead had been laid to rest in one area of the garrison.

“More importantly, is the viscount’s situation still the same?”

However, they couldn’t just lament the dead. The priests had treated all of the wounded – all of the wounded except for the most important one.

“The beast’s loyalty to his master is admirable, but it’s frustrating that as a result of this, we can’t approach to treat him.”

They had tried every possible means, but the monster refused to leave his owner’s side. The drake stubbornly protected Seon-Hyeok, even as he himself was struggling to survive through his wounds. At the same time, those at the garrison could not dare try to overpower the drake out of concern that something could go awry in the process.

“The cavalry said they’d find a way before the end of the day, so we’ll have to wait and hope they’re successful.”

At the priest’s words, the senior captain turned to look at the plains beyond the garrison’s wooden fence.

***

The drake’s sharp claws had been broken, with few remaining intact, and its body, tough as though wrapped in iron armor, was torn and bleeding. The monster was dying, golden scales bathed in dark red blood. Nonetheless, Goldrake refused to leave its spot. The battle was over, with corpses and weapons littered everywhere, but the area directly around the monster was still heavy with the stench of blood, as though the drake was still in the midst of combat.

Rustle.

At the sound of footsteps, the monster raised its head with some difficulty from the pool of blood.

Growl.

The monster growled a warning in desperation like a wounded mother bird protecting her babies. However, even this warning was more pitiful than threatening, as the drake looked to be on the verge of death.

“The riders will come today.”

When had she approached? 

The small girl looked up at the monster as she spoke.

“I’m sure they’ll move you by any means necessary. There’s no more time.”

The drake was on edge as it glared at the girl.

“You could be harmed in the process. You might die – you’re just as wounded as the lord. No, rather, you probably will die. The lord might be sad if he ever wakes up. Maybe he’ll be angry. But there’s no other way.”

However, the girl continued to talk calmly instead of being intimidated by the giant drake.

“I haven’t even been a good squire yet, so I can’t let him go like this. There are so many people besides me awaiting his safe return. Goldie, I can’t let you mess this up.”

The Drake Knight was seriously wounded and unconscious but was unable to receive treatment because of the dumb drake. Julian’s voice now contained a hint of resentment.

“So please move, Goldie. The lord can’t die in a place like this. So Goldie. Please.”

Julian poured out her resentment and once again asked the drake earnestly. However, Goldrake continued to growl and threaten her.

After talking for a while, Julian sighed and turned around. Goldrake kept its head up until she disappeared beyond the wooden fence of the garrison. And then, it collapsed once again.

Growl.

The monster gurgled blood as it looked at its unconscious owner.

The drake’s owner had arrows protruding from his body, and he stood on the battlefield supported by the lance he had driven into the ground. He looked as powerful as he did during the battle against the Nocteins. However, his eyes did not open, and the hand holding the lance remained motionless. The only sign of life was his weakly moving chest.

Growl.

The monster gazed at the barely beating heart of its master and allowed its head to droop once again.

***

The body of a heavy cavalry rider flew through the air, torn to shreds by the brilliant sword energy. Warhorses rolled on the ground, legs slashed and throats cut off. However, the powerful sword energy was unable to stop all of the cavalry, and the sword-wielding foreigners had been trampled by the Drake Cavalry’s charge. Not a single trace of them remained.

Having lost their commanders, the Noctein cavalry quickly retreated. The Drake Cavalry, having suffered serious casualties in the brief engagement, likewise withdrew with their company commander.

“They’re coming again!”

However, the Nocteins hadn’t completely withdrawn from the battlefield. Once the scattered and broken ranks reformed, they launched another wave of attacks. The Noctein riders had suffered serious losses, but they had nearly 300 soldiers left and continued to be threatening.

The archers were the first to fall, targeted by the Noctein cavalry archers. The spearmen were next, put to death by the swords and spears of the Noctein cavalry that broke through the wooden barricades. Before they could even recover from their charge, the Drake Cavalry was forced to chase after the Nocteins and fight within the garrison.

Many died, regardless of their status or rank.

“The enemy is retreating!”

The Nocteins retreated when evening came. Once the sun rose the following day, they attacked once more. Having used up most of his energy the previous day, Seon-Hyeok fought without being able to fully recover. Both rider and drake were exhausted and injured, and they couldn’t show the same devastating power as they did the day before.

They barely managed to stop the waves of attacks.

The situation repeated itself on the third day. Seon-Hyeok stumbled and climbed onto Goldrake, barely able to hold onto his lance. His objective was to intercept the enemy cavalry, who neglected their own lives as they attacked one final time.

“We can drive them away for good if we can get through today! Just a little more!”

Countless comrades had fallen in battle. Even more infantry had lost their lives. However, Seon-Hyeok chose to fight for those still breathing rather than mourn the dead. With a shout, he charged towards the enemy alone. The Drake Cavalry had already suffered heavy casualties and were left at the garrison to face the enemy that crossed the barricades.

“Just hang in there for today, Goldie.”

Goldrake carried out his orders faithfully, as if he cared nothing about the wounds he suffered at the hands of the foreigners. However, the fact that some of the seemingly invincible scales had been torn off proved to be a serious weakness.

The enemies stabbed their spears incessantly at the wounded areas, and Goldrake’s injuries worsened as time passed.

I’m sorry. Goldie.

Seon-Hyeok gritted his teeth even as he watched the beast roaring in pain. If he and Goldrake didn’t cut off the enemy at their source, the Adenburg forces at the garrison would not be able to withstand the incoming waves of enemies.

“Huh?”

He had been dealing with the enemy cavalry by stabbing down at them with his lance, but then he opened his eyes wide at the strange sensation of an unfamiliar object digging into his shoulder. He looked down to see an arrow piercing deep into his body, only leaving the fletching visible.

“The enemy commander has been hit! Fire!”

Seon-Hyeok turned his head at the familiar voice and saw the foreigner archer, who he thought had been slain the previous day, give him a look of pure hatred.

“Fire! Fire! We need to kill that bastard!”

Dozens of cavalry archers raised their bows at his insane command.

“Fire!”

A rain of arrows fell onto the battlefield.

‘Master! I can’t hold on any longer!’

As a result of the nonstop fighting, even the power of the attributes had been exhausted. Atiya blocked one final volley of arrows and disappeared. The moment this transparent umbrella protecting him from arrows dissipated, he was exposed to a deadly shower.

Pat. Pat. Pat.

Dozens of arrows dug into the gaps in his armor created from the previous day’s violent fighting.

“Ah…”

Strangely, he couldn’t feel any pain. It was as if the body peppered with arrows was not his own. After staring quietly at the wound, he whispered.

“Let’s go, Goldie.”

At the command, the wounded drake charged forward.

“You! I’ll kill you if nothing else! You monster!”

The foreigner archer, crazed with thoughts of revenge, rapidly fired off energy-imbued arrows.

Seon-Hyeok no longer had any means of stopping arrow fire, and the projectiles continued to embed themselves in his body. However, he did not stop his charge, and he was ultimately able to put his lance through the archer’s heart. Having disposed of the final foreigner on the battlefield, his vision turned white with a sudden rush of pain. He lost his balance and rolled off of Goldrake.

The slowly retreating Noctein cavalry looked at the falling Drake Knight, and their eyes grew wide. Instead of trying to go through the ferocious drake to reach him, they threw their spears from afar. In an instant, dozens of spears rained down from the sky. Goldrake tried to block the projectiles with his body, but he was not able to stop the attacks coming from all sides.

Seon-Hyeok was barely able to pick himself up, and he swung his lance to knock aside the spears aimed at him.

“Cavalry! Advance!”

He heard the command from afar. He saw the Drake Cavalry quickly form ranks and rush towards him in desperation, seeing their leader in a crisis.

Don’t come.

He could not make a sound. He could only cough up blood.

Don’t come. You idiots.

Seon-Hyeok waved his hands as he watched the cavalry charge towards him. However, the loyal idiots continued to ride forth, refusing to go back to the safety of the garrison as they hacked at the enemies approaching from all sides.

Don’t come! No!

He saw the cavalry lose speed following their reckless charge and become surrounded by the enemy. He gathered the last of his strength.

“Go back! You fools!”

This time, instead of the completely depleted force of the wind, Seon-Hyeok somehow summoned the rough, powerful energy of the earth. Having momentarily regained his strength, he used it all to slam his lance into the ground.

Bang!

The earth split. The Noctein warhorses surrounding the Drake Cavalry were thrown into the air and down the newly formed pit.

“Go back, you f…”

Before he could finish his sentence, the energy drained from his body, and all sounds disappeared. Seon-Hyeok could no longer see or hear anything.

And at some point, a foreign sound penetrated his empty, silent world.

Roar!

It was the cry of a wounded monster, the screams of horses, and the shouts of humans.

“The drake’s out of energy! Pull him away!”

“Horses! We need more horses! Gather everyone who’s not here!”

A calm voice continued to give commands.

Ugh.

Seon-Hyeok tried to open his eyes, as though waking from a deep sleep. However, his eyelids refused to separate.

Roar! Roar!

“Ack!”

“Pull! Don’t get dragged in! Pull!”

Hearing this strange uproar, Seon-Hyeok finally opened his eyes.

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