Chapter 12. Bad News (2)
Kurotan was swinging his sword fiercely in the training field. Luke had taught him well, and Kurotan was repeating the basic techniques he had learned with an accurate stance.
The other apprentice knights training in the field glanced at Kurotan with curious looks from time to time.
“That’s the apprentice knight Young Master Luke took in on the Eastern frontlines?”
“What a windfall for him, he looks like he’s over thirty years old. I’ve heard he didn’t even offer a payment.”
“Yeah, my stomach would cramp up if I just stood by and watched.”
One of the apprentice knights was looking at Kurotan menacingly. Being the son of a successful merchant, he had only been taken in as an apprentice knight after offering up a large sum in payment.
“Lucky bastard. He looks like a bandit, but he has virtually no muscles.”
“Look at the scars on his body, he’s sure to have been through a lot of life and death battles.”
“You think so? No matter how I look at it, that’s not a trained body. You can tell just by how he trains only the basics repeatedly.”
The apprentice knights were talking loudly enough for Kurotan to hear. They were obviously trying to rile him up, but Kurotan only continued to swing his sword in silence.
“Is he pretending that he can’t hear us?”
“It looks like he’s more of a coward than he looks.”
It was then that someone broke in to the conversation.
“The reason he’s not responding, is because I assigned him to silent training. The bastard has no concept of fear.”
The apprentice knights turned to face the new voice and paled.
“Yo-Young Master Luke.”
“When did you arrive?”
Luke received their greetings with a smile.
“He’s tougher than he looks, so try not to piss him off… Even I can’t control him when he gets too excited.”
Luke walked over to Kurotan after patting the apprentice knights’ shoulders.
“Your stance isn’t half bad now?”
Kurotan glanced at Luke before replying in a low voice.
“I do not understand why I must repeat these basic movements for training.”
“Yeah? You’re training pretty hard for not understanding why.”
“Because you told me to.”
Luke explained after a smile.
“It’s because swinging a sword while maintaining this stance will amplify the sword’s destructive power.”
“Without a doubt, Esteban swordsmanship is acknowledged throughout the Hansel Kingdom.”
Luke patted the sword strapped to his belt.
“It seems like you have the basics down. Shall we give it a go?”
Kurotan’s eyes lit up immediately.
“You wish to fight?”
“Yes. Come at me with what you’ve been training.”
Kurotan proceeded to take a stance carefully. Having swung around his sword crazily in training for two months, the basics of the Esteban swordsmanship had been somewhat ingrained into his body.
Luke lazily unsheathed his sword.
“Come at me.”
Kurotan threw his body forward soundlessly. Luke blocked the first horizontal strike that viciously swung through the air.
The sound of metals clashing spread through the air, and Luke’s eyes narrowed.
‘Well, would you look at this?’
The power and skill behind Kurotan’s sword completely exceeded his expectations. It was only a basic sword move, yet the sword acted like it was alive and was trying to snake its way into his defenses.
Kurotan roared and continued to slash his sword at Luke. Kurotan’s sword attacks defied comparison to the first time that they had fought, and was accurate to a scary degree. Luke turned thoughtful as he noticed the difference.
‘I guess he wasn’t a Great Warrior for nothing. He can pressure me this much with just the basics.”
The techniques being used by Kurotan could only be called the basics of basics in swordsmanship. But the pressure felt by Luke was by no means ordinary. He had originally intended for this to be a light warm up exercise, but Luke had to change his mind not long after the bout began.
Luke’s hand began to go numb after the repeated clashes of swords.
‘It seems I’m creating a monster.’
The apprentice knights that had been harassing Kurotan earlier were watching on with astounded eyes.
“What the hell? The bastard, he wasn’t a pushover at all!”
“I can’t believe it. How is he pressuring Young Master Luke that much with just basic sword techniques?”
There were also apprentice knights that were trying to downplay Kurotan’s skills.
“Psh. Young Master Luke is just going easy on him”
However, the apprentice knights weren’t the only ones watching the bout. The instructors that had been training them also watched the fierce exchanges between Luke and Kurotan, exclaiming in admiration.
“Young Master Luke’s skills have increased incomparably since he has left. It seems he has built up a lot of experience on the Eastern front lines.”
“Not only that, that apprentice knight is not ordinary either. I can tell he has been through countless life and death battles by his movements.
“It looks that way to me as well. He’s combining basic techniques into continuous attacks on instinct, not something anyone can do.”
Disbelief spread over the faces of the apprentice knights that heard the instructors.
The bout between Luke and Kurotan did not go for long. Kurotan’s stamina had increased a lot with during the two months of hard training, but it was still far from complete.
Kurotan spat out deep gasps of air, and Luke sheathed his sword.
Luke seemed calm on the outside, but his mind was in disarray.
Luke had almost lost his composure on multiple occasions due to Kurotan’s unpredictable attacks. His sweaty palms gripping the leather handle of the sword proved this.
“Your pressure was intense, but you over strained yourself in the beginning. You need to be able to control the strength behind each of your attacks.”
“Even so, you are much stronger than the first time we fought.”
Kurotan seemed to be in a bit of disbelief.
He had trained mechanically under Luke’s guidance without any large expectations, but the results of the training were significant.
Kurotan had abandoned the body of an Orc for a completely different body of a human. He had lost the majority of his battle prowess from his time as an Orc Great Warrior.
By training in the basics of the sword that Luke had taught him, he was slowly regaining his senses from back then. His body and reflexes had yet to completely catch up to his senses, but continued training would close the gaps between them.
Kurotan’s face blushed with excitement.
“I will train even harder starting today. Wouldn’t I become stronger faster then?”
“You moron… Just continue to train at the intensity you have been training at. Your current training regimen is close to your body’s limits anyway. A human’s body will break down if you overdo it.”
“All right, I will listen to your words.”
Kurotan suddenly glared at Luke and smiled.
“After my training and I defeat you, I will be the Great Warrior from then on.”
Luke glared back at Kurotan in disbelief. Should that happen again, Kurotan would return to being uncooperative and giving Luke headaches.
‘You think I’ll simply let you do that?’
Luke silently tightened his hands into fists.
Luke promised himself then and there that he would put himself through intense training in order to keep Kurotan from surpassing him.
From that day, Luke began training alongside Kurotan in the training field. It also helped Luke distract himself from counting the days in agony.
“It will take the informants planted in Lea Marquisate at least ten days to return.”
Luke threw himself into his training, pushing his body to its limits in order to stave off the anxiety. The duels he held with Kurotan whenever he could always exceeded his expectations.
“How in the… How did you dodge that? I thought I had gotten past your defenses.”
Kurotan bared his teeth in a savage smile.
“I have battled countless human Knights. Compared to their techniques, dueling you is like fighting a child.”
Luke’s face scrunched up with humiliation.
“Hey, I did manage to scratch you.”
“That’s only because I can’t move my body freely yet.”
Kurotan also had a hard time getting through Luke’s defenses due to only carrying out his attacks with the basic sword skills he had learned. However, Luke’s attacks were getting through Kurotan’s defenses less and less. Kurotan had an abundance of experience in life and death battles with humans to draw from.
As the training continued, Kurotan gradually familiarized himself with Hal’s body, and recovered his reflexes and power from his time as an Orc Great Warrior.
The training only ended when Kurotan became so exhausted that he fell to the ground and could not move. Because Kurotan was improving so rapidly, Luke could no longer land that many hits on him.
‘Shit, if he’s this hard to handle with just the basic sword skills I’ve taught him, how much stronger would he become I pass on the next level of sword skills to him?’
Kurotan had become fairly skilled with the basic sword skills Luke had given him. It was completely unheard of for a person unfamiliar with the sword to have mastered basic sword skills in two months. Apprentice knights usually took at least one year to master basic sword skills.
It was a feat made possible only by the fact that the soul of a veteran Orc Great Warrior resided in Hal’s untrained body.
Luke had meant to begin training Kurotan in beginner level swordsmanship, a level higher than basic swordsmanship, but he couldn’t help but feel a little nervous at the rapid speed Kurotan’s swordsmanship improved.
‘I don’t know if this is the right choice…’
Luke was resting after the duel with Kurotan, when a maid servant approached him.
“The Lord wishes to see you.”
Reynold greeted him with a bright smile when Luke entered the Lord’s Hall.
“I’ll bet you’ve been dying to hear that our informant has returned.”
“It feels like my blood is drying out.”
“It is good that you have self-control.”
“Yes, Lord. What did you wish to see me for?”
“I have something to give you.”
Reynold took out three books from the drawer of his desk.
“It’s the mid-level sword techniques you asked for.”
Luke swallowed unconsciously. Basic and beginner level sword techniques, he could teach personally to Kurotan. However, mid-level techniques and higher usually requires written text to be mastered. Higher level techniques could not be taught simply by verbal coaching, but required self-study to be learned efficiently.
“Thank you for listening to my request.”
Reynold looked serious as he retorted.
“These mid-level sword techniques were purchased at expensive prices by our House.”
“Yes, I already know.”
“Let me ask you one thing.”
“Do you truly believe that your apprentice knight deserves to learn the mid-level sword techniques?”
Luke paused for a little bit before nodding.
“Yes, I do.”
“Equivalent exchange is a law of the universe. What has the apprentice knight promised to give to you for these mid-level sword techniques?”
Luke answered without hesitation this time.
“He will fight for me for the rest of his life.”
A smile spread over Reynold’s face.
“Not a bad exchange, then. It is good news to hear that you have already taken a vassal.”
“Pick one book from the three. They all have different strengths and weaknesses, so you will have to choose wisely.”
“Yes, big brother.”
Luke began to pore over the three books containing mid-level sword techniques. Two of them seemed to have come from fallen Noble Houses.
They balanced offense and defense well, while focusing on building a solid foundation of techniques. However, they were slightly lacking compared to the Esteban swordsmanship that Luke was training Kurotan in.
When Luke took a look at the third book, surprise came over his face.