Episode 86. The Birth of a Legend (5)

Atiya’s facial features, originally delicate like Ahn Yoo-Jung’s, had become more mature.

Her cute nose had become sharper, and her rather hazy eyes were now more defined and shone even brighter. Her skin, before so incredibly pale, now had a slight blue-ish tint, and her pale skin made her red lips exceptionally noticeable. She seemed full of vitality.

It wasn’t just her face that changed.

The clothing on her upper body was replaced with armor. Its shape seemed oddly familiar.

“Ah…”

After staring blankly at Atiya, Seon-Hyeok belatedly realized that his spirit now resembled someone else in addition to Yoo-Jung.

Asha Trail.

The transformed Atiya gave a surprisingly similar impression as the cool and charming knight.

-          Attribute Control (Wind) has surpassed its soft limit and reached 100.

-          Your attribute control has reached its maximum value, and the corresponding wind spirit’s tier has increased.

-          Atiya, the low-tier wind spirit, has advanced to mid-tier.

-          The bond between you and your spirit has become stronger. Your spirit is now able to show more complex expressions and is better able to understand you.

-          Mid-tier spirits are much more powerful and versatile than low-tier spirits.

-          The power of the wind attribute, which can be used using Atiya as a medium, has significantly increased.

-          Unlike ethereal low-tier spirits, mid-tier spirits can materialize either through their own will or that of their masters. In their corporeal form, a spirit is able to touch, push, pull, and exert physical force in a variety of ways.

-          However, a spirit that has materialized will become visible to all, even those without affinity for spirits.

-          Having advanced to a mid-tier spirit, Atiya’s appearance now better represents her master’s ideal preferences.

Nothing else caught his attention.

‘Having advanced to a mid-tier spirit, Atiya’s appearance now better represents her master’s ideal preferences.’

‘Having advanced to a mid-tier spirit, Atiya’s appearance now better represents….’

‘Better represents her master’s ideal preferences…’

‘Ideal preferences…’

The words, ‘ideal preferences’, rang in his head.

“Master?”

Atiya no longer spoke in his mind. She spoke directly to him in a vivacious voice. She no longer felt like an illusion – she had become a completely real woman.

“Master!”

Without realizing it, Seon-Hyeok had been seriously agonizing over whether he had thought of Asha Trail in that way, and he was suddenly brought back to his senses by Atiya’s voice.

“I advanced to a mid-tier spirit!”

“Yeah, congratulations.”

His mind was full of complicated thoughts, and before he knew it, he had answered her in a dull, disinterested voice.

However, his spirit only cared about her master, even to the point of foolishness. She didn’t seem offended by his lukewarm response to her advancement.

Grab.

Atiya smiled brightly before rushing in and hugging her master.

“You’ll never be alone anymore, master. I’ll always be by your side.”

Even when she was being serious, Atiya’s voice sounded cute and refreshing.

“So just believe in me.”

Seon-Hyeok had already been worrying about his subconscious feelings, and his thoughts became even more complicated.

“My lord.”

If Julian hadn’t opened the door to the barracks and entered at that moment, Seon-Hyeok would likely have sat there, thinking indefinitely about this problem with no solution.

“Julian?”

“Hm. I didn’t know you had a guest.”

Seon-Hyeok absentmindedly greeted Julian, and it wasn’t until he saw her frozen expression that he remembered Atiya was now clearly visible.

‘However, a spirit that has materialized will become visible to all, even those without affinity for spirits.’

Since a spirit in her corporeal form was clearly visible to others, it was natural that Julian would feel awkward. Flustered, Seon-Hyeok tried to make an excuse, but she didn’t listen.

“Don’t mind me and have a good time.”

Without knowing what she was even saying, Julian spoke a few words before hurriedly opening the door of the barracks and disappearing.

“Ugh.”

Seon-Hyeok closed his mouth in resignation as he looked in the direction his squire had run off to. After all, it was not as though Julian would be going anywhere, so he could always explain to her the existence of spirits in the future. No, more importantly, he just wanted to enjoy the warmth uniquely offered by spirits right now.

“Hm. Master.”

Seeing her master’s face suddenly full of fatigue, Atiya gave him a pitying look.

Regardless, Seon-Hyeok found himself closing his eyes, comforted by the warmth radiating from the spirit. After all, he was exhausted and devastated by the hard fighting and repeated sacrifices.

Perhaps he could finally sleep soundly, safe from the terrifying nightmares.

Whenever he checked his status window, Seon-Hyeok got the feeling he was in a game and not reality. It caused him to lose his fighting spirit and his desperation for survival, and as a result, he had intentionally avoided checking it for the longest time.

However, when he finally relented once his strength had returned and the battlefield had been cleared, his stats were shockingly different from before.

[Kim Seon-Hyeok]

-          Level. 13

-          Dragon Rider Chief

-          Unique Attribute

o   Wind / Attribute Control 100

§  Wind Bite

§  Wind Body

§  Wind Spirit

o   Earth / Attribute Control 64

§  Earthquake

§  Earth Wall

§  Landslide

o   Water / Attribute Control 47

§  Water Body

-          Spirits Contracted

o   Mid-Tier Wind Spirit (Atiya)

-          Dragon Squad

o   Drake (Goldrake) (Earth) / Obedience 100

§  Condition – Sleeping for recovery, Hunger

o   Sea Serpent (Bluegon) (Water) / Obedience 54

§  Condition – ?

-          Strength 43 / Stamina 41 / Agility 43 / Leadership 47 / Magic Resistance 54

-          Possessed Skills

o   Dragon Taming

o   Dragon Riding (Mid Tier)

o   Command Squad (Mid Tier)

o   Charging (Wind)

o   Wind Piercing (Wind)

o   Attribute Weapons Mastery (Highest Tier) (Wind) (Earth) (Water)

o   Superior Horsemanship

§  Superior Horsemanship + Charging = Complete Charging (Wind)

o   Abnormal Spearmanship (Highest Tier) (Wind) (Earth) ←→ Abnormal Cavalry Spearmanship (Highest Tier) (Wind) (Earth)

o   Standard Kingdom Swordsmanship (Mid Tier) (Wind) (Earth) ←→ Standard Kingdom Cavalry Swordsmanship (Mid Tier) (Wind) (Earth)

o   Heavy Armor Proficiency (50kg) ←→ Heavy Cavalry Armor Proficiency (90kg)

o   Infantry Shield Proficiency (High Tier) (Earth) ←→ Cavalry Shield Proficiency (High Tier) (Earth)

o   Manual Labor / Civil Engineering (High Tier) (Earth) (Water)

It was almost dizzying looking at the stat window now that the information could not be taken in at a single glance. Since the last time he checked, his level had increased several times, and as a result, his base stat values, such as his leadership, had also increased. Under the water attribute control was the new ability Water Body, which he assumed had something to do with healing ability, and three skills, Earthquake, Earth Wall, and Landslide, had been generated under the earth attribute. His low-tier dragon riding skill had improved to mid-tier, and his attribute weapons mastery had reached the highest tier.

The changes, especially the rise in wind attribute control, were tremendous. It had only increased by a single point since the start of the war, but his ability to manipulate the wind became several times more skillful.

“Isn’t this amazing?”

At the slightest thought, the wind swirling around him formed a sharp edge. If the previous battle took place with him in his current state, he was confident he would have won without having to sacrifice so many lives.

However, the more he thought about it, the heavier his heart became. He could not be happy knowing that so much had been sacrificed for him to achieve this growth. His newfound ability was bought with the lives of hundreds, and he quickly scattered the blade of wind at his fingertips.

The commander came to visit a few days later. He comforted the survivors and stopped by each and every grave to express his condolences for the fallen. Afterwards, he approached Seon-Hyeok to tell him about the events following the battle.

“It has been decided that all of the cavalry slain during the battle will be posthumously granted the title of honorary knight.”

Apparently, the decision was made to honor the dead with titles and an order of merit.

“If they have surviving families, they’ll be treated well as the families of honorable heroes. The royal family will do right by the families of those who died valiantly in battle, so don’t worry about it too much.”

Perhaps he should consider it a relief? Or maybe he should vent about how posthumous considerations were of no consolation to the dead? Seon-Hyeok remained silent as he listened to the commander.

“I’m sorry.”

Surprisingly, the commander suddenly offered an apology.

“The command is clearly at fault for the losses incurred. We were unable to understand what the Nocteins were targeting in the first place, and we ended up chasing after their forces. That’s why we suffered so many casualties. I can’t bear to raise my head because of how sorry I feel for you and those who fell in battle.”

It was an unmistakable strategic failure that the Adenburg forces were led on a wild goose chase against the Nocteins within their own borders. The commander acknowledged that his tactical mind was not as sharp now in his old age, and said he planned to give up his position as the commander-in-chief of the Western Army after taking care of some final responsibilities.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for the Kingdom’s Shield to step away from the front lines. It can’t help but feel like you’re being made the scapegoat.”

“Don’t worry about that. Fortunately, thanks to your contributions, this war will be remembered as a victory. I’m ashamed to admit it, but this result will be considered the final victory lap leading up to my retirement.”

The commander said that the royal family had already agreed on this course of action, concerned about the potential negative impact of the disgraced retirement of one previously considered the spiritual pillar of the Western Army. He felt this it in itself was a disgrace, but had grudgingly agreed because he only cared about the security of the kingdom.

“The Kingdom’s Shield is old and rusted, and a new era of heroes has come.”

The Mangsk commander suddenly approached Seon-Hyeok, grabbed his shoulder, and made eye contact.

“And the hero of this new era is you.”

Seon-Hyeok tried to shake his head at the embarrassing remark, but the commander continued on.

“Adenburg’s Sword. That’s what the people will call you from now on.”

After a long silence, Seon-Hyeok managed to finally open his mouth as he stared at the eyes full of trust and expectations.

“I use a lance.”

Baffled, the Mangsk commander was rendered speechless. However, he soon realized that this comment was Seon-Hyeok’s instinctual expression of disapproval for the excessive title, so he patted the foreigner on the shoulder.

“You’re worthy. So don’t refuse it.”

After that, the Mangsk commander left some instructions and advice before departing the garrison. Before he left, Seon-Hyeok thought he saw him call on Julian to exchange some words, but he had no way of knowing what they spoke about.

Shortly after the commander left, the royal princess came to visit.

“Loyalty to the royal family of Adenstein!”

“Salute Ophelia Laurel Ro Adenstein, the royal princess of Adenburg!”

The survivors were dressed in their cleanest clothes as they greeted the royal princess. However, no matter how much they tried, there was no way the soldiers could look good after such a fierce battle. The royal princess had a somber expression as she looked at them.

“I salute you for your dedication and courage. You are truly the shields and swords of this kingdom. The civilians are able to rest easy and without fear because they believe in you.”

Seeing the royal princess visit the front lines herself to praise them, the soldiers were moved and burst into tears. Even the hardened cavalry were touched, and they excitedly praised the princess.

“Viscount Seon-Hyeok Rheinperle Kim Drachen.”

“Seon-Hyeok Rheinperle Kim Drachen, company commander of the Drake Cavalry of the Western Army, greets the princess.”

He could not open his mouth until the royal princess first recognized him, so he belatedly offered his greetings.

“The royal family will never forget your contributions in repelling the odious Noctein forces and protecting the valued people of our kingdom.”

“I just did my duty.”

Seon-Hyeok was not just saying this. He had fought so desperately because he had been caught in the crossfire, and not for some greater entity like the kingdom or the royal family. Having come to understand his nature in their few encounters, Princess Ophelia nodded at his words.

“You are truly a model soldier. However, the royal family has never failed to reward the meritorious, and I, with my authority as the royal princess, will grant Viscount Drachen a suitable reward for his actions as a valiant knight and a wise commander.”

Seon-Hyeok bent the knee at the solemn declaration.

“I confer the titles of honorary Earl and ‘Adenburg’s Spear’ to you, who bravely went into battle and won against hundreds of enemies. These rewards are granted by His Majesty, Theodore Tiberius Ro Adenstein, the sole ruler of this kingdom, and are guaranteed by Princess Ophelia Laurel Ro Adenstein, his legitimate descendent. All who cast doubt on this reward will be treated as challenging the authority of the royal family.”

It had not been long since he became a viscount, and he had now been given the title of earl, even if it was only honorary. Those watching were shocked and left staring with their mouths wide open. However, Seon-Hyeok was not ambitious when it came to noble titles, and he calmly expressed his gratitude.

“In addition, I realize that many of the men who stood by you lost their lives in this war. And so, the royal family will have a mage and knight stationed permanently in your territory so that you will never be disturbed from carrying out your duties in the future. Their stipend will be perpetually paid by the royal family, so you do not need to worry about paying for their services.”

It was an incredible reward. There were none among the high-profile knights and mages in the kingdom who would want to reside in the foreigner’s remote territory. Thanks to the royal family, he was able to gain these invaluable talents at little personal cost.

“I am thankful for your consideration.”

It was only then that Seon-Hyeok gave a satisfied expression, and the royal princess likewise expressed her approval. Smiling, she declared for all to hear.

“A new legend has been born! The royal family will open the royal granaries to spread the news to the people. But before that, we will have a ceremony with meat and alcohol for those gathered here to celebrate the birth of the hero.”

The onlookers were already looking for an excuse to cheer, and they exploded upon hearing her words. The royal princess, face flushed at the fiery response, continued to shout.

“Soldiers! Citizens! For today, forget about your hardships and come together to celebrate and rejoice! This is the will of the royal family!”

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