Episode 158. The Conditions for Awakening

Clearly, the foreigners had not fully overcome the discrimination and sorrow they endured since arriving in this world. Lee Soo-Hyuk treated Seon-Hyeok as his benefactor and wanted to remain under his command.

The others had similar expressions on their faces.

“I think that will be difficult.”

Even after excluding the seven quitters, there were 55 foreigners currently undergoing training. If they all successfully reached their 2nd class without issue, then together, their strength would exceed that of a normal knight division consisting of 100 knights.

The royal family would not sit back and watch such an enormous power be handed off to a single individual. Even if he was the princess’ fiancé and backed by the royal family, it would not be wise to ask for such a favor.

Moreover, the current public opinion of foreigners was at its lowest because of the rebellion to the northwest. Even in the unlikely event that the royal family gave their blessings, the nobles would desperately oppose this consolidation of power.

“Ah…”

Hearing his response, Soo-Hyuk and the other foreigners looked visibly disappointed. The gratitude they felt to Seon-Hyeok for guiding them from the bottom was greater than he expected.

“It would be best if you didn’t talk about this anywhere else.”

The foreigners nodded at his comment. They were also aware of the negative public sentiment, and they immediately understood what he was concerned about.

“Even so, I hope to fight under you someday.”

Despite this, they did not give up and instead promised to work hard for the future.

“I, too, hope that day will come.”

Seon-Hyeok responded as he left the meeting.

***

One-by-one, the other foreigners successfully attained their 2nd class, but the summoner, Choi Min-Young, still showed no signs of demonstrating her abilities.

The others had experienced rapid increases in their levels through training, and they were rewarded with the 2nd class achievement upon reaching level 30. In comparison, Min-Young still had not reached level 10. Her growth was unusually slow.

But this, in turn, made Seon-Hyeok confident that her class was different from those of the other low-tier foreigners.

The dragon rider class had been similar. He recalled that Kang Jeong-Tae and the others had rapidly improved and reached level 10 by the time he gained a single level.

However, the skills he acquired after this slow development were incomparable to those used by others. Seon-Hyeok inherently understood that the rate of growth was inversely correlated with how powerful a class was.

“If there are no leads…”

In that sense, it was worth having high expectations for Min-Young. It was possible that she would get her 2nd class at level 10, just as he did.

“Then we’ll just have to work until we find one.”

Seon-Hyeok put her through hell.

If she could not be expected to use her skills in her current, 1st class, then the solution would be to force her to go through the 2nd class advancement. If there were still no improvements, then another advancement afterwards could provide hints to activating her latent abilities.

It was a simple belief, but this was how he had also improved. Her situation was better compared to his �� after all, he had grown through countless battles and close calls with death.

The issue for Seon-Hyeok was that her stats themselves were different. He, like the other classes, had stats such as strength and endurance. On the other hand, her major stat was sentience, which he had never even heard of before.

But even this was overcome with the overpowered recovery abilities granted by the water attribute.

If she collapsed, he brought her back to consciousness, and this process repeated itself.

For the others, this training looked terrifying. They almost wondered whether Seon-Hyeok had singled out Min-Young to harass her.

“Maybe he had a bad first impression of her?”

“I’m sure she did something. Otherwise, the commander wouldn’t be so cruel.”

The training was closer to punishment, but Min-Young endured. Even the various instructors could not help but comment about how she was so resilient for someone so seemingly frail.

“They’re both ridiculous. Both the person giving those orders, and the person listening to them.”

“I wonder if she’ll hold a grudge against him.”

Some even worried that Min-Young might become vindictive after the harsh training. These misunderstandings only arose because they did not share the two foreigners’ understanding of each other.

“The swordsmen in my regiment were already level 9 when I finally gained a single level. How do you think I felt? I was frustrated enough being assigned to the cavalry, and not a unit related to my class, and I felt even more like shit when I found out.”

Every day, once training ended, Seon-Hyeok took the time to share his own struggles with her. Min-Young seemed to gain much comfort from realizing they were kindred spirits.

The ferocity she demonstrated during the day disappeared during these stories, and she focused on his experiences with a peaceful expression.

“Do you think that’s the case for me too?”

“I guarantee it. Aside from my own, I’ve never seen a class with such stunted growth rates.”

Hearing Seon-Hyeok’s promise, she fell asleep with a relieved look.

After some time, all the foreigners gathered, with the exception of the seven who squandered their second chances and Min-Young, finished reaching their 2nd class. The fact that it had only been around 4 months since they met at the training fort was indicative of the rigor of their training.

“However, it’s not over yet. Starting from today, we’ll start training for real combat.”

The intensity of their prior training had been comparable to that of a battle. Despite this, Seon-Hyeok acted as though this was only the beginning.

“Many foreigners died in their first actual battle. I hope you do not suffer the same fate.”

It was true. Even from his experience, a significant portion of the foreigners did not live to tell the tale of their first encounter with the Nocteins. He himself had been dazed during the charge against the Sastein cavalry.

“And so, I hope you once again follow my methods without complaint.”

“Is there any other option?”

The foreigners seemed cheery in spite of his threats. After all, their morale was at a peak after they all reached their 2nd classes, so what could possibly get in their way?

“I hope those feelings do not change.”

Even so, they could not help but grow nervous as Seon-Hyeok continued.

That anxiety soon became reality.

Roar!

The tightly-shut gate of the fortress opened to reveal a golden monster.

“Ack! Monster!”

“W, what the hell?”

The foreigners fell into a panic when the monster, seen only occasionally and at a distance until now, was suddenly released in front of them.

It was as though the harsh training and the newly attained skills from the 2nd class advancement all immediately became old news.

There was a huge commotion as the foreigners ran in all directions to avoid the suddenly-charging monster. The dense, carefully-managed formation broke in an instant.

“Tsk. I expected this, but what a sight. What a sight.”

Seon-Hyeok clicked his tongue at the scene. Goldrake had become an incredibly terrifying beast compared to its humbler origins, but this was a bit too much.

“As expected. No matter how much training you go through, you’re still a novice until you have some actual experience under your belt.”

What did it matter that they had powerful abilities? It wasn’t as though they could use them.

He was somewhat disappointed, but he could not blame them. Even the high-tier magic swordsman, Kim Woo-Young, had been less useful than a single spearman in his first outing. In the end, no matter how rigorous their training had been, training was just training.

Moreover, the killing intent Goldrake currently emanated was no joke. The golden monster was naturally vicious and fierce, and it never went easy on an opponent.

If it was not for the command ability gained through his own class advancement, Goldrake would have devoured those foreigners already. After all, the drake had almost even killed Redvern at times.

‘In moderation’ was not a term in Goldrake’s vocabulary.

“Guardians! Forward!”

One foreigner shouted and stepped forward.

“Oh? People with experience really are a bit better.”

Jang Tae-San, one of the foreigners formerly deployed to the western front, began to motivate his comrades. At the same time, Lee Soo-Hyun jumped forward with his newly acquired zweihander.

Thud!

“Two-handed swordsmen! Keep the drake in check!”

As soon as the command was given, a number of two-handed swordsmen rushed in to hack at Goldrake.

“Get back in formation while they buy ti… huh?”

It was commendable, at least. Goldrake’s vitality, raised through countless battles, was now incredibly high. In particular, the protrusions from the drake’s chest and neck were impenetrable even for most knights, and thus, Soo-Hyuk and the two-handed swordsmen’s hasty attacks could not possibly force it back.

“Ack!”

Headbutt by the monster’s giant head, Soo-Hyuk and the others were flung in all directions. The guardians, despite belatedly returning to some semblance of a proper formation, were likewise thrown about when the drake rushed in.

Roar!

Goldrake once again roared violently and went on a rampage after scattering the foreigners.

“What a mess. If this was a real battle, you all would have died.”

The 50 or so foreigners hung their heads when they heard Seon-Hyeok.

“What were you thinking when you got into such a packed formation? Did you think you could block a charge from that kind of monster with that single shield of yours? And swordsmen, why didn’t you keep your distance as you were taught? Didn’t you stop to think that maybe it would’ve been better to surround Goldie to prevent a charge and instead attack from all directions?”

“I, it was too sudden…”

Seon-Hyeok had treated the foreigners warmly for a while after they all reached their 2nd class advancement. Today was different.

“Yeah, then what if you get ambushed during war?”

He sharply retorted before making additional observations.

“And snipers, what were you doing just standing around? I didn’t see a single arrow during that fight. If the guardians and two-handed swordsmen can’t get it together, you need to hold the drake in check!”

The snipers looked relatively unscathed compared to the other classes, but they lowered their gazes out of embarrassment at the sudden criticism.

“I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to apologize about. If this had been a real battle, you’d be dead, not me.”

Seon-Hyeok pressed on.

“What did you say before? You hope to fight alongside me someday? Not a chance. How could I trust my back to you?”

“Give us another chance!”

Some of the foreigners more active during the preceding fight asked for another opportunity.

Of course, Seon-Hyeok intended to do so.

Shriek!

The only difference this time was that their opponent would be Redvern, not Goldrake.

Shriek!

Redvern excitedly picked up the foreigners and threw them aside. Once again, the new trainees were helpless, and the only resistance they showed was the snipers occasionally firing meaningless shots.

“Just one more time!”

Seon-Hyeok obliged.

“Try to stop me.”

This time, he stepped forward with his massive lance.

“Guardians! Forward!”

“Two-handed swordsmen! Spread out!”

Perhaps they had gained some instincts from their two experiences with the terrifying beasts, or maybe they thought he would be a comparatively easy opponent. Seon-Hyeok imagined it was the latter.

“So, you’d rather face me than Goldie or Redvern.”

Seon-Hyeok used the wind to cover the tip of his lance, and he simultaneously summoned Atiya.

“Hap!”

Seon-Hyeok’s control over the wind attribute was now at its peak. As the wind spread, the swordsmen lost their balance, and the guardians were pushed back. The arrows launched by the snipers were helplessly blown away.

“If you won’t attack…”

Seon-Hyeok smirked as he watched the foreigners frozen in place after the sudden gale.

“Then I will.”

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