In the year 1003 of the Holy Calendar, in the month of the Northern Winds (November).
Emerald Kingdom, Black Mountain Province, Lake County, Blackwater Valley
The river valley plain was covered in silver, and smoke curled up the air amidst the plains. Some small wooden houses were scattered here and there.
On higher ground, a not-so-majestic castle was built against the mountain. The collapsed towers and battlements tell you a tale of the downfall of the castle’s owner.
On the hillside outside the castle, in the haystack covered with ice and snow, a rabbit sought food while keeping on guard against its predators.
Seventy meters away, a young man in a white leather jacket and velvet cap hid behind a tree. His brown boots dug into the snow, but he was well camouflaged with his clothes.
He drew out his bow—it was clear that it was no ordinary hunting bow but a bow used in military battles.
Accompanied by the sound of the arrow piercing the air, the rabbit fell to the ground instantly, the arrow piercing through its head, dyeing the snow a scarlet red.
[Archery Proficiency +1]
[Archery: Level 1 (9999/10000) → Level 1 (Max)]
Levi licked his lips as he opened his proficiency panel.
Archery: Level 1 (Max)
Riding: Level 1 (Max)
Aristocratic Dance: Level 1 (Max)
Hand-to-hand Combat: Level 1 (Max)
Basic Swordsmanship: Level 1 (Max)
Looking at the proficiency panel in his mind, the corner of Levi’s mouth raised.
“Finally, my archery has reached its limit. Any prey that I target might as well be dead as soon as I lay my eyes on them. I could have been considered a Proficient Archer back then. To think that I was just a knight back then.”
“In two and a half years, I have mastered the five basic skills that knights need to master: riding, archery, dancing, fighting, and swordsmanship. This should be enough for me to begin my breathing method.”
“Only by learning the breathing method can one become a real knight. In this world, where natural disasters and man-made disasters continue to erupt, even the strong get preyed on by supernatural powers.”
“After all, the original owner of this body was killed by an [Evil Spirit].”
Levi is not a native of this world.
Three years ago, in the first millennium of the Holy Calendar, the time traveller awoke to find himself in a noble’s body, and the proficiency panel was his saving grace.
Judging from his old memories, when the body’s original owner was fishing in the Blackwater River, he caught a female corpse in white with empty holes for eyes and dishevelled hair. Her skin was bloated with water, and she could only be an evil spirit that was described in legends—the Water Fairy.
Then, his original owner fell into darkness, and Levi overtook this body.
Knight Fred soon found him by the river bank, wet and unconscious. He was surrounded by a mass of foul-smelling plants and rotten fish, chanting, “I… I’m not in the air force…” and other inexplicable words that he spoke in his dream.
Knight Fred thought he was angry that he couldn’t catch any fish.
Naturally, Levi didn’t mention this to anyone. It would be difficult to explain how he was still alive despite that encounter with the evil spirit.
But that evil spirit left a shadow on him, and now he doesn’t dare to even step foot near Blackwater River.
In fact, evil spirits are regarded as legends, and most people have never seen them.
Just like the legends that speak of wizards who could control the four elements—wind, lightning, earth, and fire—but, of course, no one has ever seen them.
Even the well-informed Knight Fred assured that wizards were just things of legend.
“Wizardry—what a noble and mysterious profession. No matter how strong a knight is, they are no match for a wizard.”
Levi yearned for it, knowing that most legends are not without reason. After seeing an evil spirit, he was sure that there were wizards in this world and that they weren’t just a subject for bards to sing about.
However, with his abilities, he knows it’s useless to pursue becoming a wizard. He had to keep his feet on the ground.
Since he was ten years old, he has been training on his five knightly skills. Now, with the help of his panel, in less than three years, he has practised all five skills to the maximum.
Levi was confident that most of the knights, even Knight Fred, were no match for him, especially in terms of archery.
Levi was now 12 and stood 1.75 meters tall. His back hulked with muscle, which contrasted with his childish face.
In this world, most men could never hope to become as strong as Levi.
Traditional weapons are king—a strong body is required to carry heavy weapons and armour into battle.
Now, he was ready to begin the breathing method.
This breathing method is dangerous; you will damage your body if you aren’t strong enough. You might even damage your mind.
This is why knights were required to complete all five knightly skills before they could begin the breathing method.
Levi smiled as he picked up the rabbit and turned around to go home.
Below the hillside, a middle-aged knight with silver hair looked at Levi with a smile on his face and said, in a very gratified tone, “If the master was still here, he would be elated to see how far you came with your archery.”
This was Knight Fred, who was called the Snake Knight by his enemies as well as followers alike. The Baron told Levi that he was someone he could absolutely trust.
This was true. Levi remembered that the Baron spent more time with him than himself.
To a certain extent, the master-servant relationship that they had was closer than the blood relationship that the Baron and Levi had.
“Your Excellency, you praise me too much. I have yet to do anything great; I wish to begin my breathing method as soon as possible so that I can become a real knight. The winter is coming, and long nights await us. Other knights of thieves may soon invade our territory and threaten us. I simply cannot live under your protection for the rest of my life. After my father died, we lost the Land of Tulips in the South, which was like spring all year round, and the Land of Storms in the East, which was rich in minerals. This is our last home—as the remaining bloodline of the family and for the sake of the Snyder family, I must become stronger!”
Despite this, he looked unwilling, clenching his hands into fists.
A black snake holding a candle was the family emblem of the Snyder family. Hence, they were also known as the Family of Black Snakes.
His father, Baron Thord Snyder, was known as one of the Seven Hussars of the North. He was also known as the Earl of the Land of Tulips and the Lord of the Land of Storms.
Compared to the sullen Blackwater Valley, the Land of Tulips and the Land of Storms were much more prosperous.
Levi was born in the Flowering City of the Land of Tulips—the climate was humid, and the plains were open and fertile.
Although the Land of Storms was, as its name suggests, stormy, it was extremely rich in minerals.
This was the peak of the Black Snakes—having five thousand soldiers under his command was no easy feat.
The Baron himself was a Great Knight, so he had power over all the regular knights.
Only the rare Legendary Knights, like [Lionheart Knight Ryan], [Golden Knight Greck], [Blood Knight Brad], [Winter Knight Fryer], and other legendary figures, surpass the Great Knights.
Holding this peak position, they were at the top of the pyramid.
Until three years ago, the Baron was recruited by the Emerald Kingdom and the Holy Church for the Millennium War against the Tuva Empire by the sea.
He never returned.
All Levi got was news that his father had perished in battle.
By law, titles are hereditary, and all three territories of the Baron were inherited by Levi. However, it needs to be formalized by a special envoy sent by the King.
Soon, at least in name, Levi became the new Baron.
Considering the situation at the time, Levi took the initiative to return to Blackwater Valley, where Baron Thord made his fortune. This was managed by Knight Fred.
The Bloody Earl and the Silver Earl, who had coveted their father’s territory, took over the Land of Tulips and the Land of Storms with the help of their master behind the scenes, the Duke of Montenegro, and the Kingdom turned a blind eye to this.
Levi voluntarily gave up the two lands and dedicated them to the Duke of Montenegro to avoid any conflict. This made the Duke very satisfied. However, in Levi’s view, this wasn’t a surrender but a strategic move; if he were to stay in the Land of Tulips or move to the Land of Storms, it would be tantamount to suicide, knowing that he lacked the status of a Great Knight to guide his army to victory.
‘I have a proficiency panel, so I may as well return to safety and become a fallen noble.’
Besides, he didn’t enjoy being king anyways. All he wanted to do was cultivate himself—perhaps become a Great Knight or even a Legendary Knight. One day, he could become a Wizard.
After all, from what he had discovered, Wizards are capable of achieving immortality, and only Wizards can fearlessly venture through the lands without worrying about demons and ghosts.
However, he still had to act for his father’s sake.
Therefore, his plans were clear: learn the breathing method, become an official knight, earn some money in his own practice, and, after becoming strong enough, travel to the Seven Kingdoms and embark on a journey to look for wizards.
Meanwhile, Knight Fred listened to Levi’s bold announcement and smiled, “Baron Levi, my master, you are indeed ready. Come with me.”