Chapter 40

“What's going on?”

The warrior who was following behind the lead clansman suddenly slowed down.

“Nothing… I felt a strange feeling from someone. As if…”

Dongye, the lead Dong-Myung Clan warrior, tilted his head.

“Did you recognize someone?”

“No… no. It must have been an illusion. Anyway, who’s supposed to meet us?” the 45-year-old 1st level Awakened Warrior, Dongye, asked before continuing his steps forward.

“It’s Yekin, the second son of the Count. Oh, there he is.”

In front of them, men, women, and servants dressed in fancy clothes came out to welcome them.

Absolute Clans were a state-level force, so there wouldn’t be any nobles foolish enough to neglect properly welcoming an Absolute Clan’s representatives.

*** 

“Welcome.”

Count Essen greeted his guests. Next to him were the Countess and the Count’s sons and daughters, who were guiding the guests to their designated seats.

The guests were all supremely handsome and beautiful. However, everyone’s eyes, which were mixed with fear and curiosity, lingered on San and Biyeon.

“Thank you again for inviting us.”

San raised his arms lightly to his chest. Bending her knees and gracefully bowing her head, Biyeon conveyed her thanks.

“It’s my honor, please enjoy the festivities…”

The Count’s expression was blank while greeting San. Actually, he looked a little perplexed.

‘Is it possible to look so different so suddenly?’

Yekin and the other invited nobles were looking at the two foreigners with their eyes wide open. They received a different type of shock from the one they experienced earlier in the day.

San and Biyeon were wearing the clothing provided by the Count. Because it was a banquet hall, no cloaks were worn.

San comfortably wore a slightly reddish tunic as an outer garment and luxurious dark brown pants in the style of those who lived in the cold, rugged northern regions.

Biyeon wore a flowing dress that reached the floor with a light blue clasp on her chest.

San’s facial hair was shaved, and his hair was cleanly cut, according to the customs here. Biyeon had neatly arranged her short hair, which barely reached her ears, with a simple pin. She also had on some light makeup.

San turned to Biyeon. A smile hung around his mouth. They were also amazed at each other’s transformation.

About two hours after returning to their lodging from their stroll around the castle, they prepared for the banquet. They bathed and washed with the help of the attendants.

When they met each other again, they were speechless.

They had only seen each other in military dress or in their wild, blood and sweat-stained battlefield attire. In the mountains, on their way to this place, they had lived relatively dirty, carefree lives.

Now in civilization, their image of each other collapsed in an instant. The fact was, what they had seen from each other so far was the most ruined appearance in their lives…

‘You’re really cute and pretty dressed up like that… Was there this side of you?’ San thought.

‘He… he looks like a sophisticated nobleman!’ Biyeon thought at the same time.

The Counts dinner was to be held as a banquet centered on the invited warriors and nobles. There was an elevated oval-shaped dining table, seating about 12 people, in the front of the hall. The dining table was arranged from side to side, facing the circular banquet hall in the center.

San and Biyeon were seated right next to the Countess. A little further away in front of them was the reserved seating the Dong-Myung clansmen, who were headed by Dongye.

“Why is it empty in the middle of the hall?”

San muttered while looking around the hall.

“It’s probably a place to enjoy entertainment during our meal. See, there are musicians and entertainers over there.”

“Well… It’s a world without TV or the Internet, so I guess there’s no other form of entertainment. For the nobles, I presume this kind of banquet will be the most important entertainment of the season. As nobles, I guess they wouldn’t stoop to the level of playing courtyard games.”

Their guide took them to an open place where people were chatting freely with others. It seemed like a modern business cocktail party.

Refreshments were placed on round tables in several places. While waiting for the main banquet to start, the guests freely chatted and mingled amongst themselves. Greetings and introductions were made between strangers.

“Welcome Sir San,” someone happily called out while walking towards the two.

“Ah! Prince Yekin.”

San greeted Yekin with a smile. San’s gaze fell on the person next to Yekin.

“This is my wife, Gael.”

“Oh! May the full protection of your God dwell in your home! I hope your household always enjoys luck and fortune! To your beautiful wife!” San lightly grasped Gael’s fingertips and muttered. He stated exactly what he learned from the attendants, word for word…

“Pfft-”

“?”

“Oops- I’m sorry.”

Gael unintentionally burst into a small laugh and hastily apologized. Yekin also had a slightly reddened face while holding back his laughter.

“What's wrong?” San asked Biyeon with a confused face.

“The order of the words was correct. It was just…”

Biyeon said, covering her mouth with her hand.

“Just what?”

“It seemed like you were reading the Declaration of Independence.”

***

Yekin took the initiative to introduce San and Biyeon to the other esteemed guests. It was what the Count ordered, but it was also something he wanted to do.

It was difficult to even meet one Awakener personally, let alone two. Thus, as he wasn’t familiar with their personalities and preferences, some misunderstandings and conflicts may arise if they were to approach the other guests. So, Yekin took the initiative to introduce the two to the other guests.

He recalled what happened earlier in the day. When he thought about what kind of predicament he put himself into, his back became cool.

If he had gone any further, he would have faced a crisis that would have overturned his life and possibly the fate of his family. Just because of petty greed.

After arranging his thoughts, Yekin looked closely at the two.

‘I really can’t understand them. They’re definitely not ordinary. There’s moderation in their actions, and although they’re still a little awkward, they are well-trained in manners and following customs. Their learning ability is phenomenally fast as well. They seem familiar with social interactions, so it doesn’t make sense that they’ve lived secluded lives in the mountains! Even low-ranking aristocrats are frustrated about how they should act when they enter the banquet hall for the first time. Are they possibly royalty?’

“Uhm…”

Gael tapped the back of Yekin’s hand.

Her eyes were fixed on Biyeon.

“Huh?”

“The person named ‘Yeon’, isn’t she great?”

“Yes, she is…” he responded dryly. ‘You didn’t see her blood-thirsty look earlier today, did you?’ he thought quietly to himself.

Unfortunately, Gael didn’t see what happened earlier in the day. Instead, she was focused on a different side of Biyeon.

Without any prejudice…’ Yekin tilted his head and looked over at Biyeon. He started to understand what his wife was getting at.

Biyeon was chatting with the aristocratic men and warriors. Certainly, in this space, Biyeon was a unique existence.

Aside from her martial prowess, her novel appearance caught his eye. It may be unreasonable to say that her face and appearance were the best, but there was something about her that caught one’s mind and imagination. It was enough to say that her overall presence was charismatic and alluring.

Although this was a rural estate, nobles enjoyed many opportunities to travel, so they were relatively worldly and sensitive to social trends. Furthermore, fashion trends were fairly universal and spread quickly.

However, Biyeon’s current appearance was far from any such contemporary fashion trend. The difference in her clothing style was immensely alluring and pleasing to the eye.

If the difference was observed in another person, that person may have been seen as a ‘country-bumpkin’, butcoming from such a discerning person who carried herself in such an elegant manner, he couldn’t help but admire her sense of style. This being the case, her choice of style was closer to being ‘chic’.

In particular, she carried herself with dignity, strength, and intelligence. She passed the point of ‘acting sophisticated’ to ‘being sophisticated’.

Biyeon was attracting a following without even knowing it herself. It was very difficult for anyone to put into words, but… in their eyes, she had ‘it’, making others attracted to her.

Her laughter was bright but not vulgar. Even though her hair was cut short, it looked elegant and natural on her slim oval-shaped face. Every gesture and every step revealed a strange sense of dignity and style. In every one of her actions, a greater meaning seemed to come out.

She opened her eyes clearly, looked at the other person, and listened intently. The way she responded was calm, never crossing a socially unacceptable line. While respecting another person’s opinion, she did not hesitate to express her own. Thus, conversing with her was interesting and fun. Yekin’s heart trembled and fluttered just thinking about her…

In short,

‘She makes one’s chest knot with charm and grace.’

Yekin suddenly nodded in agreement to his wife’s comment.

“The Dong-Myung Clan warriors are entering.”

People murmured and looked at the warriors entering the banquet hall with envy. The Count greeted Dongye with the utmost courtesy. The Dong-Myung Clan was classified as a state-level organization along with the Han-Sung Clan and Ki-Jang Clan. The three clans were referred to as the Absolute Clans.

Thus, the weight of representing the clan was large. The mere presence of the Dong-Myung Clan was exerting an influence comparable to that of the Absolute Monarch in the northern territories.

Additionally, each clan member was treated as a noble wherever he went.

Their pride and self-esteem were great. Furthermore, most of them had the ability and noble spirit to support their lofty status.

However, their recognized might and the pride of being an absolute force could make one become too sentimental and complacent.

If might or status was misused, it could be an excuse to rationalize an arbitrary opinion.

It would trigger an immediate expectation when an unwanted beast entered its domain or when a potentially hostile force emerged, throwing those in power into the fire first.

Dongye, who was entering the banquet hall, suddenly stood tall. He looked around the banquet hall. No one escaped his gaze.

One person… No, his gaze stopped and fixed on two people.

Suddenly, Biyeon stopped talking.

San also slowly turned his head.

Episode 2. Book 1: Exploration – Chapter 9

Like what happened in the market square earlier in the day, the hall suddenly fell silent. All conversations stopped and no one dared to move. People were looking at what they thought was the source.

Gulp-

Someone swallowed their dry saliva with an audible gulp. The feeling of something wrapping around and squeezing one’s whole body, a pressure that overflowed like a crashing wave, and a feeling of breathlessness... such feelings were making their way throughout the hall.

And… the strange feeling of trembling in the narrow space between one’s eyes. The pressure created such fear and palpitations that it made the guests want to vomit.

In a space of about 10 meters, all of that unnerving pressure cycled around, completely under Dongye’s control.

“Hmm-”

Dongye tilted his head with his hands behind his back. It seemed that something was not working out as he had planned.

“Pretty strong.”

“Yeah, pretty strong.”

Dongye heard the two exchanging words.

But that was all. Dongye’s expression slightly distorted. Both the man and woman were staring at him with distant, bored eyes.

Their expression seemed to say, ‘mildly interesting.' No, if he were to be more honest, it was similar to them thinking ‘mildly interesting while looking at a clown.

‘There’s no reaction to my Electric Wave Skill?’

Dongye looked at the people around him. Their bodies started flinching and spasming once he laid eyes on them. Some were even starting to convulse.

They were the people on the periphery of the Electric Wave Skill. The skill sent out electromagnetic pulse waves toward the target, attacking one from within. Dongye started to feel a little bit silly.

The intensity and sensitivity of his skill were clear from the surrounding people’s reactions.

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