Episode 92

Two Out Of Four, One Out Of Two.
1 week ago
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Authority figures often have arrogant natures to prove their own authority.

In this context, among the heroes present, Ga-ram and Im Tae-yang were suitable targets for the malevolence of the other heroes.

Ga-ram still bore the stigma of being a fallen hero, while Im Tae-yang, despite his title as the Big Game Hunter, looked anything but the part.

To be called the strongest while clad in nothing but a paper bag and an old rag…

Anyone would think the rumors about him were either false or exaggerated, right?

‘Thus, if I defeat that guy, the title of the strongest hero will be mine.’

One of the heroes, feeling superior and about to charge at him…

Bang!!

Got his face smashed by Im Tae-yang’s fist, swung before he could even move.

Unable to withstand the force, he fell to the ground.

“Wh-what?”

A moment of shock was painted on everyone’s face at the scene.

The struck hero was equally unable to grasp the situation.

Im Tae-yang, who had been sitting idly, had rushed at him and struck his face first.

“You son of a…”

Whatever the case, it was that guy who attacked first.

Thump!

As he was angrily reaching for a weapon in his cloak…

Im Tae-yang’s foot stepped on his hand, blocking the action beforehand.

“This damn…!”

Thud!

Even his attempt to swing his leg and knock down his opponent was repelled by a kick.

Then, as he approached to seize his upper body, he swung his hand, but even that was nonchalantly brushed off by a mana-filled hand.

“Hey, wait…”

Im Tae-yang blocked both the initial malice and the subsequent resistance as if anticipating them.

As the clenched fist was aimed at his face, the hero finally realized the situation and shouted desperately.

“Ah, okay! I don’t know what’s going on, but sorry, just stop now!”

Though he hadn’t acted yet, the fact that he had raised hostility meant he felt quite guilty.

Im Tae-yang, silently observing the sincere plea, then withdrew his hand and quietly stood up.

Then he quietly turned his back, intending to return to his original spot.

The hero, who was watching from behind, unable to contain the anger rising within him, prepared to draw his weapon once again.

‘This damn…’

How dare a ragged wretch lay hands on his majestic self?!

Bam!!

Before his anger could fully release, the hero was slammed into the wall by a kick, swift as an afterimage.

As his body hung limp, the shock twisting his insides, gasps of shock began to burst from the onlookers.

“Wh-what is that guy doing? Attacking someone who did nothing so one-sidedly…?”

“Is that important? A fully armed guy just got beaten by someone who’s practically naked!”

“Isn’t that guy weak?”

“Then why don’t you try charging at him and find out?”

Indeed, the current scuffle was enough to squash any such judgments.

The rumors were true, and the person before them was stronger than any hero present.

Such an assessment was all the more indisputable precisely because he was ‘unarmed’.

Rustle.

As Im Tae-yang turned his head, the eye holes in his paper bag focusing on something, the heroes’ bodies stiffened, avoiding his gaze.

He said nothing.

Without any emotional expression, he just silently stared at them.

“W-we were just watching.”

“Yeah! We didn’t do anything!”

They were initially tempted by such thoughts, but after witnessing the one-sided fight, any hostility had dissipated.

Im Tae-yang withdrew his attention from them and returned to his original spot, staring blankly out the window, when it seemed apparent that it was true.

Indeed, that person could sense the hostility of those in front of him.

Ga-ram, who had been watching the situation from the start, was confident in this realization.

‘He knows everything.’

He seals the opponent’s actions the moment he senses even a hint of hostility.

Even the subsequent counterattacks—when and where they would come—he predicted and neutralized them all. This was a realm beyond mere combat experience.

‘Could it be an ability to read minds? Or does it just seem that way…?’

“What’s going on here? Why is it so noisy?”

Startled by the sudden noise, Ga-ram halted her thoughts.

Turning her gaze, she noticed a man with a shovel and helmet entering the assembly area.

With a unique appearance that attracted as much attention as Im Tae-yang, the man exuded a cheerful and bold aura.

“What’s that? Why is he lying there? Was there a fight?”

“Hey, you bastard!!!”

Seeing him, a hero started to rush towards him, grinding her teeth in anger.

Ga-ram recognized the name mentioned by the woman dressed in the attire symbolizing the Friga Order.

The man before her was none other than the perpetrator of the recent notorious ‘Archbishop Murder Case.’

“You, what nerve you have to show your face here!”

“Why am I here? If there’s digging to be done at the excavation, I can’t be missing, can I?”

“Is that what you think I’m asking?! You dare show your face after killing the Archbishop…”

“Ha, so you’re angry because you were sponsored by that damned sex offender.”

The hero flinched and recoiled.

Her reaction, more of embarrassment than insult, indicated that she was somewhat aware of the corruption he had committed.

And that was something known by other power players in the Order and the Empire.

“If they wanted to hide it, they could have, but the empire making it public probably meant they saw no need to protect him. I heard that since the Archbishop’s position is vacant, those eager to fill it are busily making additional accusations…”

“You, you bastard…”

“Ha, why? Are you planning to start a big fight here, knowing as much as you do?”

If a real fight broke out here, it would be troublesome for the other party.

Even the highest authorities couldn’t speak from the grave, and if a deceased person was involved in various corruptions, it was inevitable that others would use it as a pretext to tarnish their reputation.

Thanks to that, the punishment he received was not execution or imprisonment, but merely a stern warning.

While he couldn’t expect any medals without proper procedures, conversely, the empire seemed eager to give him an opportunity to redeem his current mistake by actively recommending him for this mission.

“…Damn barbarian. It would be best not to think that you can keep your head held high forever.”

The hero reluctantly retreated, realizing the situation.

Nam Ja-seong, who was watching her leave, casually turned his back and then, noticing Im Tae-yang sitting nearby, began to show interest.

“And what about you? Why do you look like that? Are you so poor you can’t afford clothes?”

Startled.

At that moment, all the heroes who had witnessed the previous incident tensed up simultaneously.

Despite their apprehensive gazes, Nam Ja-seong continued to scrutinize Im Tae-yang, who was gazing back at him impassively.

“Why do you look so emaciated…? Hey! Are you eating properly these days?”

“……”

Im Tae-yang continued to look at Nam Ja-seong silently.

Seemingly irked by his reticence, Nam Ja-seong clicked his tongue and reached out toward Im Tae-yang’s drooping arm.

“There’s plenty of food here; it’s pointless if you don’t eat any. If it’s because you don’t have anyone to eat with, I can join you.”

He was the man who, even before an attack could be launched, immediately retaliated and overpowered the opponent at the slightest hint of hostility.

It was unlikely that such a person would passively allow a touch on his body.

Rustle.

However, instead of attacking Nam Ja-seong as before, he just impassively watched his hand grab him through the holes in his bag.

As if he sensed that, unlike the previous hero, Nam Ja-seong was approaching him with genuine goodwill.

If that was truly the case, it made sense for him not to attack but to follow Nam Ja-seong instead.

“Is it okay for those two to be so close together?”

Yet Ga-ram watched the situation with concern.

Though it was a natural outcome for the two troublemakers to bond, Nam Ja-seong was even extending unbiased goodwill toward Ga-ram.

“Hey, kid. Come over here, too.”

“Huh, me?”

“You need to eat a lot at your age to grow big and strong.”

A sense of distance that seemed almost non-existent from the first meeting.

For Ga-ram, this felt very sudden, but even that choice was made reluctantly under the scrutiny of the surrounding heroes.

Indeed, except for Im Tae-yang and Nam Ja-seong, the other heroes were not too fond of her presence.

“Ha, a criminal, a beggar, and a fallen hero.”

“It seems similar people attract each other.”

It was a natural outcome. Heroes had their own culture, and in such an environment, the three of them could never fit in.

And this atmosphere was likely to continue in future missions.

‘…I miss Hyo-sung Oppa.’

Feeling suffocated by this realization, Ga-ram soon turned away from them and silently continued eating.

She longed for the only person in this world she could rely on, who had declared solo activities for a while for training.

“…Everyone seems to be eating well.”

At that moment, an unexpected figure intruded into the assembly place.

The whispering heroes’ attention soon turned to the entrance, where someone emerged from between a number of knights.

A sharp and cold gaze was revealed as he lifted the visor of his helmet.

His face was full of wrinkles, proving the passage of time, but his gaze was even sharper than the scars on his face.

A figure who could be called a veteran in his own right.

“Are you… from the Imperial Army?”

“Yes, I am Marcus Cradle, an officer of the Imperial Army. I have been appointed as the legion commander to lead the legion you will be part of in preparation for the upcoming war.”

Legion Commander Marcus.

As the veteran introduced himself as such, questions began to rise on the faces of the heroes gathered at the assembly place.

“War, what do you mean? Weren’t we headed to the excavation site where the dragon’s bones are buried?”

“The situation has changed. Currently, it has been confirmed that a number of undead are roaming the excavation site.”

The Undead Legion.

An army that knows no fear and part of the forces threatening humanity.

“…Has the Undead Legion occupied the place?”

“Seeing that they are not forming groups and are scattered, it’s likely they are naturally occurring undead, but it’s not bad to be prepared for the worst.”

It hadn’t been revealed yet whether they were under the command of the Undead Legion, but the current excavation of the dragon’s bones was an operation significant enough to be led directly by the Imperial Army.

Considering that not even a slight risk was permitted, the possibility of interference must definitely be taken into account.

“Therefore, the heroes who will head to the excavation site from now on, I hope you will join the legion led by me, Marcus, to prepare for battle. As this is an order accompanied by an imperial command, I will not tolerate any change of mind once you decide to participate.”

“If you will not heed these words, then leave this place immediately.”

Essentially a declaration of such, tension began to swirl among all the heroes gathered at the scene.

However…


“…So they are indeed intervening.”

“Has it begun?”

“Yes, unfortunately.”

The old temple of a ruined kingdom.

Gwen Hwibar, who was praying and sensing the aura of messengers in that place, answered her loyal blue knight and quietly rose to her feet.

“Indeed, a war with humanity seems unavoidable.”

Her cold and dried-up body. Weakness that made even standing difficult.

Yet, there was no sign of suffering in her as she looked back at her vassals.

For in her empty eyes, there was only the persistence that had helped raise the bodies of the dead.

“…Everyone.”

She, who wished to close her eyes and forget everything else, said.

Facing the four loyal retainers before her, she spoke.

“From now on, we shall unleash the forces we have kept dormant and start a war to prepare for the future.”

To preserve the glory, beauty, and someone’s life that once existed in a world destined for destruction.

The legion that rose from death for this sole purpose was preparing to confront their enemies fearlessly, even at this moment.

“The Demon King’s army’s control has noticeably weakened over the past few months, which is an opportunity for us… And humanity, realizing this, is also preparing to confront our army, wanting to create the power that we must obtain for themselves.”

Though the opportunity was now or never for either side, the Corpse Lord had decided not to give up either one.

As this world gradually moves towards ruin, their power grows stronger, but if they do not act now, the number of those they can’t save will only increase.

“So we will also now split into two groups and go to war. Two knights will join me in a frontal battle with the Demon King’s army, and the other two will go to the place where the dragon’s remains are…”

So it was time to act now.

Having conveyed this intent, Gwen opened her parched lips, ready to pronounce a cruel verdict upon humanity.

“…Two of the four.”

“Who among you will leave my side and head to the ‘Dragon’s Tomb’?”

Just two knights.

“The force there should be sufficient to annihilate humanity.”


And so, a journey for the training that began for that reason.

Following Jang to the training site, I decided to take a moment to solemnly compose myself, keeping the upcoming training in mind.

I did not know what kind of training I would undergo, but I must be prepared to endure whatever it takes to change Pheloi’s mind.

Yes, initially, that was the only thing on my mind…

“Hey, you two. Just calm down first…”

“No, we need to make a clear decision on this.”

“Yes, please tell us clearly from your own mouth, Hyo-sung.”

Upon arriving at the camping site, Airi and Merilyn were glaring at each other with fierce eyes.

They had certainly come together to help with my training, but what was evident on the journey was nothing but their confrontation.

“Hyo-sung.”

And at this moment, their heightened emotions reached their peak.

As if to signify this, they both turned their gazes towards me and said simultaneously.

“Tonight, with whom will you share a tent?”

“……”

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