Chapter 26 – Revenge of the Iron-Blooded Sword Hound


 

26화 그래듀에이터(graduater) (1)

The number of people being born in Baskerville was still high, and the number of people dying was still high.

The Styx River flowed, the current pushing back the tide.

Seven years had passed since the day of the duel of the two eight-year-olds.

* * *

“This instructor can be an angel or a devil, depending on what you do!”

A short-bearded spirit dog was shouting in a raspy voice.

His name is Staffordshire Baskerville.
Thirty-five years old.
He’s a seasoned knight in the middle ranks of the Gradient.

An outsider, a commoner, not even given the middle name of ‘half’, let alone ‘la’, but an upstanding man who had laundered his bloodline by taking the surname of Baskerville for his outstanding qualities and straightforward heart.

In particular, his “stabbing fang” swordsmanship is said to have reached the level of the Baskerville Four.

Four teeth, drawn to perfection.

If he’s this good, he should be able to lead and teach the younger Baskervilles right now.

“Now, for the final exercise, practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect, as I’m sure you’re all well aware!”

Staffordshire glanced at the fifteen- and sixteen-year-old Baskervilles in front of him.

All looked tired and weary.
But the chill and poison in their eyes is growing stronger and stronger.

The young Baskervilles here, all fifteen or sixteen years old, are swordsmen who have mastered the Sword Expert junior class, Baskerville 1.

Staffordshire checked the trainees’ form, then turned his head again.

In the center of the training grounds that surrounded them, a huge bear stood on two paws.

Weighing in at 800 kilograms and standing three meters tall, there was something else unusual about this giant bear.

It has two sharply curved horns on top of its head.

Danger rating: A

Size: 5 meters

Found in: Ridge 7, Red and Black Mountains

-A very large bear with two massive horns.

A carnivorous bear, the strongest terrestrial predator, and a perfect killing machine, it is considered the strongest and pinnacle of the Red and Black Mountains 7th Ridge ecosystem.

A demonic creature with few natural enemies other than its own kind.

The bear carries two massive, curved water buffalo horns on its head.

Its entire body is covered in thick muscle, fat, and bristly fur.

[grrrr……]

The beast currently on the loose in the performance hall appears to be a sub-adult, not yet fully grown.


It’s also been in a cage for a long time, so its nutrition is not very good.

But that also means it’s aggressive and nervous.

Staffordshire swung his sword to intimidate Oxbear, while encouraging the younger Baskervilles behind him.

“Now, we just need to do what we’ve been practicing on the demon’s corpse.
Last time we practiced on Oxbear’s corpse, you all know how tough his hide is, how tight his muscles are, and which parts of his body contain which entrails.”

The meek-looking Staffordshire was a different man when he stood before Oxbairn.

His eyes glowed with life, and the aura emanating from the tip of his sword was like a giant’s grip.

Staffordshire exuded such a terrifying aura that it overwhelmed Oxbair, but he never attacked.

Because it’s not his place.

Next.

[Grrrrrr!]

Oxbear charged.

He charged like a buffalo with his two horns.

The young Baskervilles fight back, each according to their own preferences.

Some scattered to the left and right to dodge, while others swung their swords in front of them.

…BANG!

Those who dodge live, and those who meet head-on fall.

Staffordshire continued.

“If someone stronger than you is coming at you head-on, it’s natural to dodge.
But don’t dodge by putting too much distance between you and them, but sneak around them to the side and get in some small attacks.”

The young hounds’ advice continues.

The young hounds’ eyes glowed, sucking them in like water.

“Don’t be greedy and go for the kill right from the start.
It’s more likely to be countered.
Instead, go for the center of gravity of the body, in this case the right hind leg, so that it can’t move or react as quickly.”

The young hounds followed their handler’s instructions and repeatedly attacked the bear’s legs as it stood on its two feet.

Continuing to attack only his hind legs, Oxbear was left with a widening wound that left him with little use of one leg.

The menacing antler lunge was sealed.

By this time, the young baskervilles had bared their teeth in earnest.

They were now hunting dogs who could take care of themselves without the guidance of the Staffordshire.

Baskerville 1 meal.
More than thirty teeth bared, tearing at Oxbear’s body.

The most aggressive were the triplets, Highbrow, Middlebrow, and Lowbrow.

Quack, quack, quack!

They hunted the bear as if they were the boss.

They were the boss of the pack, physically shoving aside any cocky siblings who tried to get ahead of them, or any dumb siblings who fell behind their peers.

And then.


…thud!

Oxbear fell to the ground.

“Well done.”

Staffordshire raised his sword and stepped toward Oxbear’s corpse.

Thwack!

The bear’s stomach split open, spilling guts and flesh.

After four periods of training, lunchtime came naturally.

Staffordshire impromptu distributed Oxbear’s guts and flesh to the young hounds.

Steaming red chunks of meat.

The young baskervilles chewed and gulped down the raw, squeamish flesh.

Staffordshire said to the trainees as they ate.

“Now, eat and listen.
As of this hour, three and a half years of basic training, three and a half years of practical training, are over.
Congratulations on your graduation.”

Seven years had transformed the snot-nosed children into young warriors.

Now everyone here was a young prodigy who could not only load a sword with mana, but also draw a single perfect tooth.

But Staffordshire said they were just getting started.

“Practicing with captured demons is really just a tutorial that I wouldn’t even call realistic, and now you have to create and build your own experience.”

The advice of an old dog who’s seen it all is always worth heeding.

“The wild beasts of the Red and Black Mountains are not only fit and strong, but also cunning and calm in nature, unlike those that have been left in cages for a long time.
Even I can’t compete with the stubborn and old individuals I sometimes see.”

That’s true of the oxbear I just killed.

Facing a full-grown wild oxbear’s horns, followed by a series of front paws and head bites, is dangerous enough for any grader.

Controlled variables, a safe environment, and set rules.

And a wild, unexplored place where you can’t survive on your training alone.

That’s where these young hounds have to go from here.

The young Baskervilles already knew that.

Staffordshire gestured to the countless scars across his face.

“You will have to go through the hell that lies ahead.
Either overcome it with the blood you were born with, or overcome it with your own experience.
I have nothing more to say to you, that’s all!”

With a brief colossus salute, he relinquished his leadership position.

The young Baskervilles put down the flesh and guts they’d been tearing up for a moment.

Then they steeled themselves for the next twenty-one months of unexplored territory.

Once Staffordshire was out of sight, they gathered in small groups and began to make small talk.

“Hey, where did you get your knighthood?”

“First degree, Doberman.
Two, a pit bull.
And a Rottweiler.”


“Oh, none of those overlap with me.
I like the Knights of the Wolfhound, then the Shepherds and the Bull Mastiffs.”

The Seven Knights of Baskerville Street.

Each order was created and operated for a different purpose: vigilance, search, protection, assassination, suppression, and all-out warfare.

But the best of the bunch was the Order of the Wolfhound, which symbolized the power of the house.

“I want to join the Wolfhounds.”

“But you can’t just go there because you want to, you have to be kicked out.”

“I’m going to be realistic and apply for the Dobermans.
That’s practically the only place you can get in, except for the Wolfhounds.”

“If I join the Doberman Knights, I’ll have to watch the castle walls for the rest of my life, and I can’t stand that.
I’d rather be a Pit Bull Knight, always on the battlefield.”

The children murmured.

And naturally, their eyes slowly began to converge on a single point.

“……But where is he going to go?

That was the common question of all the kids here.

Even the triplets, who had been the most active in this oxbear hunt, had put down their morsels of meat and were now watching.

Vikir Van Baskerville.

A child from outside the family, rumored to be Hugo’s illegitimate son.

He hadn’t joined the oxbear hunt, but sat alone in a secluded spot in the distance.

And at Vikir’s feet, a large oxbear lies dead.

A much larger one than the one that had just been killed by the combined efforts of over thirty children.

The young Baskervilles stare at Vikir, awe in their eyes.

“Is he really 15 years old like us?”

“How does he catch an oxbear by himself?”

“From what I’ve heard, he’s already a Sword Expert?”

“He’s even drawn three teeth.”

“Crazy, he can use three Baskerville formulas? That makes him almost a spirit dog!”

Worship of the powerful is common in any group, but it’s even more pronounced in the Baskerville family.

Bikir himself, however, didn’t pay much attention to the rumors.

“Sword Expert Advanced.

Sword Expert Advanced means that the aura at the tip of a sword has become so dense that it can pass between gas and liquid.

The children of Les Baskervilles usually reach this stage between the ages of twenty and twenty-five, but Vikir is rumored to have achieved it at the age of fifteen.

…… but.

Vikir’s true hidden power was beyond that of a Gradient Intermediate.

It was a full two levels above Sword Expert, and comparable to Staffordshire, who had been his spirit dog.


Moreover, considering the protection of the Styx River and the power of the demonic sword Beelzebub, his actual combat power would be even stronger than this.

If the world knew, they would be shocked.

‘……Currently, I’ve mastered five Baskerville Forms.
In terms of swordsmanship alone, he has already surpassed the level before the regression.”

He had never mastered a sword technique above the fourth level in his previous life.

Because of this, it would take him a little longer than he had originally planned to become a perfect Gradient Intermediate.

Meanwhile, Vikir closed his eyes and recalled the oxbear he had just killed.

It had been a close call, but the animal had been weakened by years in captivity, and he’d been able to kill it with his hidden skills.

Vikir’s mind raced as he tried to figure out how good he was now, and how much he’d lost in comparison to his pre-reversion skills.

He couldn’t be bothered with the chatter of the Baskervilles’ day pups, who were just getting their teeth.

Then.

A topic of conversation caught the attention of even Vikir, who was lost in thought.

A young Baskerville had casually mentioned something.

“…… So, in our line, he’s going to the Academy?”

The Academy ‘Colosseo’

An Imperial compulsory school where the Seven Houses of the Empire send their young heirs to be educated.

Due to the academy’s capacity limitations, the number of students admitted is limited to a small number from each family.

Naturally, only the most elite young people from each family are allowed to attend, which is something Bikir was interested in.

Of course, he doesn’t have the greed for fame or the desire for education that the other kids do.

“It’s a chance to get away from Hugo and improve my skills.

Of course, there’s more to it than that.
Like paying back a debt from a previous life, or gaining control of a hidden artifact.

As Vikir ponders his next move.

“Master.”

A voice called to him from behind.

An old voice, but still strong.
A warm, gentle demeanor.

Deacon John Barrymore came to stand at Vikir’s side.

He was one of the few people Vikir had ever felt sorry for in his previous life, and Vikir had come to trust him.

Then Deacon Barrymore leaned closer to Vikir and whispered.

“My lord wants to see you.”

Hugo le Baskerville?

It was always unusual for him to seek out his children.

At Vikir’s puzzled look, Barrymore smirked and continued.

“I believe he has decided on your position.”

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