Princess’ Knight

“Yes. The next segment of our program is about the famous player in Tor Kingdom who’s all a buzz amongst users these days. Mr. Oh, I hear there’s now a blacksmith who can enhance the defense of your equipment?”

“Yes, that’s right. A fighter will always have some regrets and aspirations. Equipping gear with high defense will increase your chance of survival and the Blacksmith of Tor can increase this defense by smelting it with enhancing minerals.”

There were many television programs related to Royal Road, drawing on the many wonders and legends of the Versailles Continent. Viewership increased in parallel with the influx of players, leading to enormous advertising revenues.

“Hmm, a Blacksmith?”

Lee Hyun was sitting in his room, watching a TV show on Royal Road. A female host and a male host were talking to each other in turns, and Lee Hyun hoped to hear new information about the game. Although he could not be certain, many other viewers likely shared his objective.

The Versailles continent had no distinction between night and day; every hour was training hour. But when programs related to Royal Road aired, training grounds were less busy.

“Yes, that is amazing. Perhaps I should request an enhancement too. But wouldn’t the price be extremely high?”

“Yes. He charges anywhere from 10 to 100 gold depending on the effect or function. Isn’t that unbelievable?”

Shin Hye Min frowned. “100 gold? I wouldn’t be able to afford that even after gathering all of the money I have collected so far.”

“Haha, but that price is only for very, very good items, so he would probably enhance your items for around 10 gold.”

“That Blacksmith user will be filthy rich really soon.”

“That’s not exactly true. The prices of the materials needed for enhancing are pretty expensive, so he wouldn’t be able to get 20% profit for each enhancement. The reason for Tor’s Blacksmith becoming a hot topic is probably due to him being the first player ever to achieve intermediate level in the blacksmithing.”

“The achievement makes me jealous. A skilled sculptor appeared in Rosenheim Kingdom before, right?”

“Yes. Sculptors are very rare. It’s a rare job simply for what they do. The sculptures he made are said to be very beautiful.”

Rosenheim Kingdom’s sculptor was, of course, Lee Hyun’s game character, Weed.

“After I heard the rumor, I visited Rosenheim Kingdom to interview and purchase a sculpture to give it as a gift to you, Hye Min, but he had already left. I’m worried that he deleted his character after going through the difficult path of a sculptor.”

“Wow, that’s too bad. I lost my chance to receive a nice gift. I think artisans are starting to take their places.”

“Yes. The next news item is the one you’ve all been waiting for – the British Confederacy’s civil war! Finally, Fort Odein, widely known to have been unconquerable, was invaded! Balkan guild is now in big, big trouble.”

The feed cut to an in-game video of Royal Road, showing a bird’s eye view of a grand brown castle, surrounded by 35 towers that could hold archers and mages in the case of war. The moat was filled with water and spanned multiple drawbridges. The castle walls, built with 3 layers of bricks, seemed impenetrable.

“Wow, amazing. It’s as if I am looking at a medieval castle.”

“Yes, this is Fort Odein which was owned by the Balkan guild. A fierce battle took place here last night.”

Fort Odein, drenched in the blood of countless users, has a very dark reputation. It levied exorbitant taxes and entrance fees! Nearby villages paid 60% tax on every sale, which is more than twice the rate in other municipalities. This applied to all items including medicine, potions, and herbs.

The anger of the users had reached its limit. To make matters worse, merchants traveling through the fort were charged 40% of their profits as customs tax. Fort Odein exploited its strategic location between the British Confederacy and Iedern Kingdom to monopolize the international trade.

The money all went to Balkan guild, the owner of the castle. It was obvious why they were hated by others!

“But Fort Odein has never been taken over before, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. But this battle was just splendid. Watch this.”

The TV showed Fort Odein on a night with the moon hanging silently in the sky. In the field nearby, a horde of players were gathering. Standing next to their respective guild flags, they were waiting for the morning to come.

‘Just how many people were there?’ Lee Hyun was too astonished to speak.

He’d heard that the number of users playing Royal Road was increasing greatly, but this was just too much. Rivers of people covered the field in front of Fort Odein.

“The number of users gathered to conquer Fort Odein was over 30,000.” The male MC, Oh Joo Wan continued on as if he had read the viewers’ thoughts.

“30,000? That is the greatest number of people that has participated in a siege so far!”

“That’s correct. The desire to conquer Fort Odein was widespread. About 150 guilds united, and around 5,000 mercenaries had participated in this battle. We’ll view the scene now.”

Finally, the sun rose above Fort Odein. Some of the attackers gave long speeches about how they were righteous, and how they would deal with Fort Odein after they conquered it. With courage filling the air, the battle began.

It was a wondrous sight to behold: 30,000 soldiers attacking Fort Odein simultaneously. Arrows flew everywhere, and magic struck the fortress. Catapults constantly spewed boulders, and summoned golems attacked the stronghold. But the opposition still fought back, relying on the castle wall’s defensive capabilities.

Balkan guild had pulled their allied guilds into the war. There were also NPC soldiers in Fort Odein, further bolstering their defenses.

But the tide turned when the Special Forces, prepared for the worst, snuck in through the back. Each guild’s master and elites provided a diversion by assaulting the front, while the Special Forces infiltrated the castle through the sewers.

Grand sword auras rose and magic exploded everywhere.

“About half of the British Confederacy’s Top 100 players are known to have participated in this battle. In the end, Fort Odein couldn’t resist any longer, and fell into the hands of the invaders.”

Balkan’s guild members, who resisted to the end, were all killed. Their allied guilds had surrendered when the situation turned against them, ending the fierce battle. The invading guilds exulted in the overwhelming joy of victory.

“Mr. Oh, will peace come to Fort Odein now?”

“I don’t think so. First of all, Balkan, who owned the fort, is unlikely to simply back off. They will be gathering their strength to take back what was theirs.”

“Another war will commence.”

“Yes, but even if Balkan’s attacks fail, Fort Odein seems like it won’t settle down for a while. Division of profits between the victorious guilds will not be settled easily. And considering the other advantages that Fort Odein grants, they’ll all be hungry for it. That’s how much value the land has. Balkan had invested a lot of money to stabilize the economy and the land. But they had to collect a lot of taxes for soldiers and fortifications, since other forces wanted the place.

“That’s a bad cycle to be stuck in.”

“Yes. Fort Odein, which stands in the middle of the two empires and functions as a relaying station, will continue to be in chaos.”

Lee Hyun smirked; a smirk that could make the most heinous villain envious.

‘The attackers had 30,000… At least 15,000 should have died. And about 10,000 from the defenders…’ Imagining the skills and levels that decreased was simply exhilarating to
Hyun. While others’ stats dropped, Lee Hyun was growing stronger.

Suddenly the phone rang, and he hurried to answer.

“Hello?”
“You ready?”

The person asking the question without any greeting was his sister, Lee Hye Yeon.

“Yeah. I’m all dressed, and I washed my face.”
“Hair?”
“Of course I washed it.”
“It’s starting soon so you have to hurry.”
“Alright Hye Yeon, I’m coming.” Lee Hyun turned off the television and rose from his seat.

He sighed. Lee Hyun was discontent. ‘What the hell am I doing…’

Dein High school. Even though he swore to himself that he would never return when he quit the school…

“Brother, you have to come!”

If Hye Yeon hadn’t nagged in the morning, he never would’ve gone. He was threatened that if he didn’t go today, he shouldn’t dare to even think about going into the capsule for a while.

‘Does she even realize who I am trying to make money for…’

A high school festival. Others went with their parents, but Lee Hye Yeon called her older brother.

“Ugh. Just what am I doing” Lee Hyun complained constantly. Even though he really didn’t want to go, when he thought of his disappointed sister, he had no choice. He felt like a cow being dragged to the butchers. Lee Hyun carelessly sat at the festival’s stands when he arrived. Students were divided into clubs or grades, and were selling goods at shops but Lee Hyun ignored them.

“Hey, are you Lee Hyun by any chance?”

Lee Hyun turned to look towards the voice. A slim and pretty female university student wearing a purple skirt was standing there.

“Who are you?”

Her face showed disappointment at Lee Hyun’s words.

“Ah, I was right. It’s me, Junghee.”
“Oh.”

Her name and face were all that Hyun could remember.

Her pretty face had made her the object of many boys’ affections in high school.

‘She became more stylish, and her intelligent appearance probably makes her popular even now. University must be treating her well.’

That was all Hyun could remember. There weren’t any special memories remaining.

“Was it Yoon Junghee? Long time no see. Why are you here when you’ve already graduated from this school?”

“Mmhm. My little sister goes to this school so I came. You?”
“Same.”

“You have a little sister. Can I sit beside you?”

“It’s an empty seat so do whatever you want,” Lee Hyun said grumpily and continued to watch the festival. A parody of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was being performed.

An apple seller came out, danced, sung foolishly, and then spoke. “Oh!! Dear most beautiful queen. Here are some delicious apples. They are freshly picked from the apple farm so it is cheap and fresh! Only 2 thousand won for 5 apples!

The scrawny queen yawned and replied,

“Why is it so expensive!”
“Because they’re ripe apples, my Queen!”
“Really? Then we can use these to kill Snow White, right?”
“I believe I didn’t say such a thing yet?”
“CAN THEY KILL, OR NOT?”

“If one tastes it, one won’t be able to escape its deliciousness, my queen.”

Nevertheless, the queen bought the apples. She walked up to Snow White, did some more useless dancing, and handed over the apple.

“Why didn’t you come to the Alumni celebration?” Yoon Junghee asked Lee Hyun, who was watching the musical with a cold expression.

Lee Hyun tersely replied without turning his head. “I didn’t feel like going.”

“Really? We hoped that we’d be able to see you there… After you quit school, we couldn’t contact you. Sanghoon said he would call you so we thought you’d be there.”

“Thanks for the kind lies.”

“No, really, I wanted to meet you again. Remember when you saved me before?”

“I saved you? Ah… right.”

When Lee Hyun was in grade 10, he delivered newspapers in the morning. Once he saw a girl being picked on by a few thugs at the park. Lee Hyun tried to just pass by. It wasn’t any of his business, so he decided to ignore it. But hearing the girl’s terrified screams, Lee Hyun ran back.

He beat up the thugs and saved the girl. Later on, he found out that she was Yoon Junghee that went to the same school as he did. He didn’t know about her because she wasn’t in his class, but they had ended up in the same class in 11th grade.

While they conversed, the musical had gone into a crazy direction. There was a bug in the apple that the merchant sold to the queen, so Snow White was beating him mercilessly. After she accidentally took a bite of the apple which had the bug inside, she fell to the ground. The dwarves discovered her, kidnapped her, and brought her to their house.

They were plotting to make Snow White cook their meals, wash their clothes, and clean the house! Snow White who soon woke up was at a loss. Why would a princess know how to do housework? When they told her to do the dishes she shattered them into pieces, and when they told her to clean, she broke apart the furniture and decorations.

Finally, when a prince came to take the princess, the seven dwarves cried in happiness, finally rid of the incompetent maid. It was a boring musical.

“… How disappointing” Lee Hyun thought that he had wasted his time. But Yoon Junghee who sat beside him was laughing endlessly.

“Hehehe. Look at that, Hyun. It’s really funny.”

He had no clue why she was calling him in such a friendly manner when he rarely saw her. As they spent their time like that, Hyun’s sister came. Lee Hye Yeon was dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt instead of the school uniform. At that moment, Lee Hyun felt sparks of rivalry igniting between Hye Yeon and Junghee.

“Why are you sitting beside my brother, old lady?” Hye Yeon’s pre-emptive strike was sharp and filled with envy. A killer aura emanated from her.

At that moment, Lee Hyun felt that his sister was scarier than a death knight. But, a Dullahan was sitting right next to him.

“Old lady? Such a foul mouth you have for a child.”

“I’m not that much younger than you!”

“I am your brother’s classmate. I’d watch my mouth if I were you.” Junghee slowly put her hand on Lee Hyun’s shoulder.

“Hmph!”

Hye Yeon walked over to Hyun, ignoring Junghee. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean what am I doing here? I am watching the festival.”

“Ug