Episode 95. Royal Promise (2)

“Please allow me to select the mage and knight who will reside in my territory.”

A somewhat disappointed expression flashed across the princess’ face.

“Those were people who would stay in your territory, so it is only natural that I take your opinions into consideration. Your wish is no different from what I already promised.”

The princess wondered why he was asking for such a minor wish when she was capable of fulfilling much greater ones.

“My wish is that you will remember your promise even if I am greedy and ask for more talented individuals than expected.”

However, Seon-Hyeok showed no signs of regret and repeated his request. The princess had clicked her tongue in disapproval, but her eyes belatedly shone.

“Do you have people in mind?”

“Not yet, but I plan to decide during my stay here at the capital.”

When he showed no signs of naming the individuals on the spot, the princess responded with a bright expression.

“Then could you tell me first once you decide?”

“I promise I will.”

“Good, good.”

The princess clapped her hands in excitement.

“I will watch how you judge others.”

After laughing for a while, the princess caught herself and belatedly coughed awkwardly before gesturing to the servants in her usual, dignified manner. The maids immediately stepped forward to set glasses in front of them and pour them fragrant tea.

What followed was a casual conversation. The princess skillfully avoided talking about the war, asking mostly about Goldie or sharing personal anecdotes. Seon-Hyeok was surprised by her attitude, as he thought she would naturally ask questions about his prowess on the battlefield.

However, he welcomed this situation, as he was sick and tired of war. Thanks to this, the conversation flowed smoothly, and he enjoyed himself listening to the young princess’ trivial stories.

“Hm.”

After a while, he caught Asha Trail giving him a look. It was only then that he realized how much time had already passed, and Seon-Hyeok waited for the princess to finish her story before getting up.

“I grant you permission to travel freely in and out of the inner castle, so please do not hesitate to spend your time in the garden here during the day.”

Seon-Hyeok could not help but smile at her words. She spoke as though she was giving him a special reward, but in reality, she was simply bored and asking him to come visit.

“I also enjoy drinking tea while looking at the scenery here, so if my schedule permits, I can treat you to another cup of tea.”

The princess looked at him calmly as though nothing had happened, but her cute hands tightly holding onto the hem of her white dress showed her nervousness.

“Thank you for your consideration.”

When he suppressed his desire to give her a hard time and answered in a serious voice, the princess’s eyes turned up in a smile.

When he returned to his accommodations after sharing refreshments with the royal princess, Seon-Hyeok’s eyes grew wide at the sight of an unexpected gift.

‘As soon as I return to the capital, I plan to commission a new lance and armor. I hope you and your drake will never suffer at the swords of your enemies ever again.’

He thought it was just a remark made in passing, but the princess kept her promise.

“It seems she wanted to surprise you, my lord.”

The lance and golden armor were complete with intricate patterns, and it was clear even more effort went into forging this new gift than the one before. He grasped the lance like a man possessed.

“Ah…”

Seon-Hyeok unknowingly let out an exclamation. The subtly changed center of gravity and the slight pliability of the lance felt perfect in his hands. He immediately realized that Asha Trail had played a role in the crafting of his new weapon, as she was the only one familiar with the unusual weapon’s ideal weight and elasticity.

“Will you try it on?”

Julian approached and picked up his armor. He put down his new weapon for a moment as he let her put his armor on.

“It’s in the shape of a drake. The artisan who made this has a great artistic sense.”

The helmet resembled a drake’s head, while each part of the armor gave the impression of a drake’s claws and scales. It was truly a work of art. At the same time, however, the armor felt firm and stable on him, and its appearance did not come at the cost of any practicality.

“Here. There’s a cape as well.”

Julian voiced her admiration once Seon-Hyeok put on the cape with a golden drake on a blue background, symbolic of the Drake Cavalry.

“It’s fitting for the one known as the Drake Knight.”

As she said, the armor was as beautiful as a work of art. The only point of concern was that the appearance and golden hue could be too flashy to use on a battlefield.

“I think I might get focused down if I wear this into battle.”

The radiant glow and the splendid appearance seemed like an ideal target for enemies. However, Julian disagreed, saying there was no problem.

“You and Goldrake are visible from hundreds of meters away as is. What kind of nonsense are you saying now?”

She had a point. There was not a single enemy incapable of identifying him atop his monster, and thus, there was no reason to worry about the brilliance of his armor.

“I’ve been receiving too much. Should I give her a gift next time?”

“If you want to give her a gift on the same level as what you received, you’ll need to use most of the funds available in Rheinperle. Giving a lacking gift would be an insult to the royal family, so please think through it carefully and let me know before making a decision.”

Considering who it was that gave him this gift, Seon-Hyeok could not repay her carelessly. Seon-Hyeok agreed with Julian before stepping in front of the mirror to see for himself.

“Even so, I think it’s a bit much.”

It was not impractical, but the armor was more artistic and colorful than necessary. It seemed to have been made according to the royal princess’ girlish tastes.

The following day, messengers began to visit once again. Most of the meeting requests were rejected, but some were difficult to refuse.

Among these was a meeting with Ahn Yoo-Jung, the summoner of wind spirits.

“It’s been a while. Should I call you Earl Drachen now?”

Yoo-Jung no longer asked him to join her faction. By now, he was too powerful of an individual for her faction to control, and rather, she was now the one expected to bow her head.

“First and foremost, congratulations on your additional accomplishments.”

“Thank you.”

Seon-Hyeok felt indebted to her because he had taken Atiya from her, but their relationship was relatively shallow, and he had nothing much to say. She sighed as he awkwardly looked at her.

“The spirit’s scent is stronger now, so I’m guessing she advanced as well.”

“Somehow.”

“My spirit as well.”

Come to think of It, Yoo-Jung seemed oddly calm, when she would normally be flustered by the influence of his attribute control. Clearly, the growth of her spirit meant she was less susceptible to his influence.

“My spirit is high-tier.”

Seon-Hyeok imagined Yoo-Jung’s spirit would be mid-tier like his, but it was surprisingly even higher. He expressed his surprise for the first time since meeting her, and she gave a satisfied expression.

“I just wanted to tell you I wasn’t playing around either.”

Indeed, after a few more words, she got up to leave.

“And if you need help, please come and see me anytime. Of course, you’ll need to compensate me, but it looks like you’d be capable of paying for it now.”

Seon-Hyeok wordlessly saw her off.

“I’ll see you again.”

After looking at him for a while, Yoo-Jung said farewell and disappeared.

“Hm…”

It was likely that her visit was her way of checking if she was free of his attribute control. Seon-Hyeok was unable to tell whether she had been significantly influenced during her brief visit.

He just assumed that she was in a hurry to leave and that she had briefly hesitated before leaving because of his attribute control.

“Before, our spirits were the same tier, but now, her spirit has a higher rank than mine. Perhaps that’s the reason?”

Seon-Hyeok was evaluating the effect of his attribute control despite the differences in tiers before giving a blank look.

“Wait. There could be summoners using water or earth spirits here in the capital…”

Just as he had taken Atiya from Yoo-Jung, Seon-Hyeok felt he could form a contract with a water spirit now. As he started to plan how he would gain a second spirit, Julian returned after being away for a moment.

“Julian. Are there any summoners in the capital?”

“I can find out. Is it urgent?”

“It’s not, but the sooner the better.”

Whether or not he was successful, it was worth a try. At his words, Julian nodded and handed over the book she held.

“I got the magazine you asked for.”

“Oh? Thank you.”

Seon-Hyeok frowned as he opened the magazine.

‘The performance of the Drake Knight, Adenburg’s Spear.’

‘Who played the leading role in the 629th Adenburg-Noctein War? Adenburg’s Shield, or Adenburg’s Spear?’

‘The Drake Knight. 22 Battles. 22 Victories.’

Seon-Hyeok thought he saw provocative titles on the cover, and indeed, the first few pages of the magazine were full of articles about himself. He quickly turned the pages after reading a few sentences, unable to stomach the glorified content and rhetoric.

“The Latest Gradus!”

Coming to the list of 100 knights and mages at the end of the magazine, Seon-Hyeok hurriedly looked for his name.

‘Western Army, Lord and Earl of Rheinperle, Dragon Rider Seon-Hyeok Rheinperle Kim Drachen, Gradus 78.’

His Gradus was now 11 spots higher than when he first learned of its existence. He reflexively looked for Raiden Laylark next.

‘Central Knights, Senior Knight, Raiden Laylark, Gradus 79.’

Raiden Laylark’s name came right after his. Seon-Hyeok grinned, realizing that the Sword of Lightning was diligently raising his Gradus while he himself fought on the battlefield.

Seon-Hyeok had claimed victory in their previous trial by combat, but it was only because his opponent had been careless. If the duel had continued to the end, it would have ended in a defeat for Seon-Hyeok. However, this was all news from the past. He was confident he could now beat the Sword of Lightning using his superior skills.

Considering he wanted to test his abilities while in the royal capital, the Sword of Lightning was the perfect practice opponent.

“Julian. While you’re looking for those summoners, can you check whether Raiden Laylark is still here in the capital?”

“Yes. I will check and let you know today.”

Julian was reliable, even in the capital where she lacked any personal connections. He thanked her before turning back to the magazine.

The upper ranks of Gradus, where the likes of Marquis Reinhardt were located, were filled with Royal Knights, Central Knights, and Royal Mages, but there were no changes in their rankings. Likewise, there were minimal changes to the upper-middle ranks of Gradus, where Asha Trail was placed.

Adjustments were only visible among the lower ranks.

“Huh?”

He saw a familiar foreigner’s name at Gradus 89, where he was previously ranked.

‘Royal Mage, Senior Mage, Viscount Lee Eun-Seo, Gradus 89.’

No, she isn’t the only one. 

There were three foreigners aside from himself who now possessed Gradus.

‘Royal Mage, Wind Summoner Viscount Ahn Yoo-Jung, Gradus 85.’

‘Royal Knight, Monk, Viscount Gong Hyun-Jin, Gradus 62.’

Among them was a monk. The class sounded like that of a pacifist, but in reality, monks were powerful warriors capable of using their entire body as a weapon. The foreigner monk had a respectable rank of 62.

“If he’s ranked 62, he really is on the level of senior knights.”

His interest was briefly piqued, seeing that the monk’s rank was much higher than his, but he quickly forgot about it and continued to search through the list of Gradus.

“There should be someone usable here…”

It was not the appearance of someone looking for a dueling opponent to improve his rank. Julian watched him quietly before asking.

“By any chance, you didn’t ask me to learn more about the knight and mage promised you by the royal princess because…”

“Hm? Why would I tell you to look into that?”

Seon-Hyeok hummed as he answered Julian’s question.

“There’s a perfect list right here.”

He was looking through the magazine like a person filling an online shopping cart in the other world.

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