Chapter 10. The Beginning of Kurotan’s Training (2)
Luke’s complexion paled. He did not remember exactly how many, but he had seen reports of the death of multiple Aura Experts among the knights that had been sent to fight the Orcs in the Eastern mountain ranges.
“How shocking to think of an Aura Expert among the Orcs. I wonder whether the commanders were aware of this?”
Luke frowned as if he had a headache. Up until the level of Aura Expert, it was impossible to tell a person’s achievement in Aura. Only the visible Aura being expelled by an Aura Master made it clear.
“Are there any Aura Masters among the Orcs?”
“Any Orcs that could use Maal’s blessing through weapons or armor.”
Kurotan slowly shook his head.
“I have never seen any such warriors.”
“It seems that Aura Expert is the limit for Orcs. Of course, the Orcs that don’t even have sword arts wouldn’t have any Aura cultivation techniques. And their lifespans are shorter than a human’s…”
Luke looked at Kurotan with a new light in his eyes. It was true that Luke had achieved the level of an Aura User, but that was because he was born in a prestigious House. The Esteban House had its own unique Aura cultivation technique, the most valuable heirloom of the House.
The Aura cultivation technique of the Esteban House was a high level method that had given birth to many Aura Experts. Kurotan, however, had reached the level of Aura Expert with effort and perseverance alone.
Luke looked at Kurotan with conflicting feelings.
‘What would happen If I taught this bastard an Aura cultivation technique?’
Luke smiled bitterly after pondering for a while. Not even branch families of the House would be taught the Aura cultivation technique, so it was impossible to teach it to Kurotan.
‘It’s a shame, but nothing I can do about it. I am still curious though, as to the level Kurotan could achieve if he had a proper Aura cultivation technique.’
The longer Luke thought, he couldn’t help but get a bit jealous as well. Luke had trained extremely hard in order to reach the level of Aura Expert, but had yet to reach the level of controlling his Aura.
‘My talent is inferior to an Orc’s…’
Luke suddenly stopped thinking and stood up.
“Let’s get started on our way. You’ll be running like before.”
Kurotan stopped swinging his sword and put on his chain mail.
“Then let’s start.”
Kurotan began running again after tying the rope to his waist himself.
Luke followed in a relaxed manner on horseback.
“Your posture has improved, but it’s still awkward. Your back is still hunched, straighten up.”
Luke’s guidance did not stop, and Kurotan ran and ran following Luke’s orders.
Because Kurotan continued to run without rest, they were able to arrive at a village ahead of schedule.
“This is Holden Village. I’m glad we don’t have to sleep outdoors.”
Luke glanced up at the quickly darkening sky. Kurotan was heaving heavy breaths besides the horse.
Luke untied Kurotan and rented a room in the village inn. The scale of the village was small, and there was only one inn in the village.
Luke nodded silently as he ate the dishes he had ordered.
‘Kurotan has improved a lot.’
Kurotan was dining on his meal like a human. He was using a fork and knife to cut his bread and meat, as Luke had trained him to do. It was a surprising change from the disturbance they had caused in Lactel City.
‘There’s still a lot to teach him.’
Luke frowned when he entered the room with Kurotan. It was because of the stench emanating from Kurotan’s body.
“Damn. Looks like you’ll have to wash up before we sleep.”
Kurotan’s face turned ugly.
“What do you mean wash up.”
“Listen well. The human body needs to be washed for it to not get sick.”
“No. It will feel weird if I wash up.”
Luke frowned as he recalled the stench of the Orc hideout.
Of course, Luke had a surefire way of convincing Kurotan.
“You want to wash up after I beat you up? Or just wash up.”
Kurotan’s face turned even uglier. His choice was obvious.
“I will just wash up. I do not want to get hit.”
“Let’s go together. I’ve gotten dusty after a day of riding.”
Luke grabbed Kurotan’s arm and dragged him to a nearby well.
Luke hadn’t actually sweated that much, but he didn’t want to leave Kurotan to wash by himself.
‘I have to make sure he washes up properly.’
The rest of their travel was fairly smooth. The public peace was highly maintained as they approached the center of Hansel Kingdom. They were examined at the borderlines of all territories, but Luke’s status as a retiring officer ensured quick passage.
Kurotan was also able to get by thanks to Luke’s efficient business skills.
Kurotan couldn’t stop from exclaiming in amazement.
“Humans are very strict about enforcing their borders. I would never have made it this far alone.”
“Forget ‘this far’. You wouldn’t even have made it out of the Orc hideout.”
“I agree. It’s thanks to you that I can now put up a decent front as a human.”
Kurotan looked down at his hands. Hardened flesh studded the once soft palms.
It was a change caused by the fact that he had taken to swinging around his sword every chance he got.
His stamina had also increased vigorously thanks to running everyday as well. He had barely lasted thirty minutes during the first few days, but Kurotan could keep up a decent pace without much effort now.
All of this was possible due to Luke’s guidance. Luke had accurately calculated the limits of Kurotan’s current body and had trained it right to the limits.
‘Now that I think about it, I’ve trained Kurotan in everything that I learned as an apprentice knight.’
Luke stared at Kurotan, who was taking bites out of a piece of bread while sitting down. They had gotten fairly close during their journey.
‘Never in my life would I have imagined I would become this friendly with an Orc.’
On the outside, Kurotan appeared no different from a regular human. He was definitely different from one. He retained his almost stupid simplicity and honesty, and never doubted Luke.
No matter what Luke said, Kurotan would always take it at face value and believe it fully.
‘To be honest, it’s easier to deal with him than other humans. No need for me to calculate this or that.’
The thought startled Luke out of his amusements, and he vigorously shook his head.
It was a thought that he shouldn’t have, as a human.
“Your running training has pulled us ahead of the schedule. We should be able to reach the borders of the territory by tomorrow.”
“Do you mean Esteban Earldom?”
“Yes. A convoy sent by the House will be waiting for us.”
Luke turned serious as he said to Kurotan.
“From there on, we must be especially careful of other people’s eyes.”
“When it’s just the two of us, we can talk comfortably. You must absolutely refrain from talking in such a way in front of others.”
Kurotan frowned slightly.
“It’s hard to speak politely.”
“Then don’t speak at all. You remember the gesture I taught you?”
Kurotan took his fist to his mouth.
“You mean this?”
“Yes. Use the gesture when other people try to talk to you. They will understand if I tell them you are undergoing silent training. And additionally…”
Luke continued to stare at Kurotan for a while before speaking.
“I will introduce you as an apprentice knight I have taken under my wing. I was officially knighted five years ago when I was stationed at Fort Potellan, so there should be no problems.”
Kurotan nodded without second thought, but Luke still felt conflicted. He had not known that his first apprentice knight would be an Orc in human guise.
‘I suppose it’s my fault that I took him in in the first place.’
Luke smiled bitterly and shook his head.
Just as Luke had predicted, there were many people gathered on the borders of the Earldom that had come to gret him.
Luke’s face brightened when he saw the aged knight standing in the front of the crowd.
A vassal of the Esteban Earldom, Sir Benjamin had taken care of Luke as a child. It had not been an unusual sight to see Luke clambering on to his back.
“It has been too long.”
“Young master. I almost didn’t recognize you.”
Benjamin’s wrinkled eyes trembled. Benjamin smiled brightly and wrapped up Luke in a bear hug.
“Si-Sir Benjamin, there are a lot of people around us.”
As a startled Luke squirmed in his arms, Benjamin released him with a smile.
“I’m sure it has been hard, serving for five years. You are a man now.”
“I have grown a bit. Haha.”
“We should have gone to Potellan City to greet you, but the situation in the Earldom… It is good that you have made it back safely.”
“It wasn’t a big problem… The center of the Kingdom is well maintained.”
“Yes, young master. Who is…?”
Benjamin laid his eyes on Kurotan. When he had seen the convoy of people waiting, Luke had stopped Kurotan’s training and handed him the reins.
“He’s an apprentice knight I took at Fort Potellan.”
“You took in an apprentice knight at Fort Potellan?”
Benjamin’s eyes widened. This was because apprentice knights were usually chosen from young boys of Noble Houses. Their ages were around thirteen to eighteen.
Boys of Noble Houses that wished to become knights became servants to skilled Knights. They took care of the Knights’ equipment, groomed their horses, and ran errands. They learned of chivalry and etiquette, and advanced on to official apprentice knights to begin learning swordsmanship.
Luke had also gone through this process until he had been officially knighted.
Benjamin couldn’t help but be surprised by the commoner that seemed to be older than Luke, and seemed somewhat delinquent.
“Did you receive a lot of payment?”
It was common practice for apprentice knights to pay a fee as a show of sincerity to the knights they had been apprenticed under. Luke smiled and shook his head.
“Who do you take me for?”
“I just took a liking to him. It was just a light decision, so please understand.”
“Y-Yes, young master.”
Benjamin looked away from Kurotan.