Chapter 13. Bad News (3)
The third book contained sword techniques that were completely different from the first two books. Reynold explained.
“The book is by an Aura Master that started off as a Mercenary, Beloche. The House purchased it during an auction in the capital with a rather hefty sum.”
“It concentrates almost solely on offense. It contains close to no defensive techniques.”
“That’s exactly why I decided to refrain from teaching it to the House’s Knights. Some say that offense is the best defense, but that is a theory that can only be reinforced by extremely skilled people.”
Luke could not take his eyes off of the third book.
‘How coincidental. This is a sword technique completely meant for Kurotan.’
Kurotan was currently able to block or deflect Luke’s attacks with basic sword techniques, thanks to his experiences as an Orc Great Warrior.
Although the defensive aspect of the Beloche sword art was definitely lacking, the sword techniques of Beloche were a massive improvement from the techniques that Kurotan was currently training in.
Luke ceased to think and chose the third book.
“This is the one.”
“Surprising. You won’t be able to choose a second one, so choose wisely.”
“I won’t need to choose a second time.”
A slightly surprised expression came over Reynold’s face, but he silently collected the remaining books.
“I will have to consider a bit more regarding the Aura cultivation technique.”
“Of course. I will wait.”
“I know you’ve been anxious, but wait a couple more days. The informant will soon return with information on why the Lea Marquisate requested a break off of the engagement.”
“Yes, big brother.”
Luke bowed and walked out of the Lord’s Hall.
Luke and Kurotan continued to train until the informant finally returned from the Lea Marquisate. Luke couldn’t hide the anticipation in his movements as he walked once more towards the Lord’s hall.
A sharp eyed middle aged man sat on the sofa of the Lord’s Office. His expressionless face did not reveal any emotions. Reynold motioned towards the sofa at Luke.
“Yes, big brother.”
Reynold glanced at the middle aged man once Luke had seated himself.
“Garfield, report your findings.”
Garfield gave Luke a cursory glance before beginning his report.
“Our informants and I started off by gathering the rumors that had been spreading around the castle, but found nothing substantial.”
“However, we found a surprising amount of Holy Knights and Priests from the Church of Flora.”
“The Church of Flora?”
The Church of Flora was a religious order dedicated to the worship of Flora, the goddess of earth, that made their headquarters in Hansel Kingdom. Their numbers within the kingdom outstripped any other Churches, and was known to have an influence even on the Royal Family.
“After a while, we succeeded in purchasing a maidservant from the castle.”
“As expected from you. So what kind of information did she give you?”
“According to the maidservant, Lady Isabelle seems to have awakened Holy power.”
Garfield’s words startled everyone present. To awaken to Holy power was no small happening.
Every human being had differing amounts of potential that they were born with. Even if two people trained in the same sword techniques and Aura cultivation method, one would become an Aura Expert, and the other would never break through the wall.
A person with no talent in magic would never be able to become a Mage, no matter how they tried. It was the same for Holy power.
Amongst humans, there were a few with an especially strong affinity for receiving the power and authority of gods into their bodies. When these people chose to voluntarily serve and worship a single god, an enormous amount of Holy power could be wielded.
“About a month ago, Lady Isabelle was suffering from a serious flu. A Priest from the Church of Flora had been called upon to treat her with Holy power.”
The Priest had been in for a surprise. While the Priest was sending his Holy power into Isabelle who lay sick in bed, a phenomenon known as Ecstasy occurred.
Ecstasy, or a massive heat flux, only occurred when an extreme talent for Holy power awakened. Isabelle’s flu disappeared without a trace, and the Priest immediately reported it to his church.
The Church of Flora was upturned in disarray.
“She has the potential to become a Saint. We absolutely must take her in to our church.”
The Church of Flora immediately sent out a party of Holy Knights and Priests to Lea Marquisate. They moved quickly to prevent other churches from discovering Isabelle.
The party was composed of high level church officials, and began to make offers of enormous amounts of money and other rewards as soon as they arrived at Lea Marquisate. In order for custody of Isabelle, that is.
“Lea Marquisate accepted their offer.”
“IT makes sense. That’s why they sent a request to break off the engagement.”
Reynold was frowning. Should Garfield’s report be true, Lea Marquisate had played the Esteban Earldom for a fool.
“Unfortunately, we cannot officially pursue this case. If we do, we’d be making enemies out of not only Lea Marquisate but the Church of Flora.”
The Church of Flora wielded enormous power within the Hansel Kingdom, and might as well be the official church of the Kingdom. Even a House with a history as deep as Esteban could not afford to turn the Church of Flora into an enemy.
Luke had remained silent the whole time. What kind of news was this, right before his marriage?
“So, how did Lady Isabelle react to this?”
“According to the maidservant, the Lady was strongly opposed, but the leaders of the Lea House are too strict and domineering that she is unable to fight their decisions.”
Reynold shook his head with a bitter expression.
“She does not have the power to resist.”
Reynold looked at Luke with sympathy.
“I know it’s hard to accept, but there is nothing we can do.”
Luke raised his head to look at Reynold. His eyes were red from anger.
“There truly is nothing we can do, Luke.”
“I can’t do that.”
Luke spat out in denial and jumped up from his seat.
“Now that we have figured out the situation, I will go to Lea Marquisate. I need to meet her and talk to her.”
“I don’t think that this situation will be solved by your visit to the Marquisate.”
“I can’t do nothing.”
Reynold reluctantly nodded his approval.
“As you wish. I will send a messenger to Lea Marquisate informing them of your visit, and send soldiers to guard you.”
Luke returned to his room, and laid down with his head in his hands. Looking up at the ceiling, Luke pictured Isabelle, the beautiful face of his fiancée.
He remembered when he first met her at the Academy for Nobles.
Fellow students called her the ‘flower that cannot be plucked’. Isabelle did not socialize, or talk to other students. She concentrated on her studies with an unmatched elegance, and many male students could only watch from afar with longing.
However, the ‘flower that cannot be plucked’, was plucked by Luke. She had opened her heart for the first time to Luke.
Luke had grown up in a warm household, and had good people skills that made him popular amongst the students. Swordsmanship, or athletics, he excelled in every subject, was friendly and considerate.
He was of the direct line of the prestigious House Esteban, but did not use his status to lord over other students and remained humble, making many students like him. Female students were included, of course.
Surprisingly, the first to make a move was Isabelle.
It was a day of academic and sport competitions at the Academy. Luke had just finished an outstanding performance in the horse riding competition and was returning to his dormitory when Isabelle approached him.
After fidgeting for a long while, she asked Luke if he had any interest in dating her shyly.
Luke, charmed by her beauty, had immediately accepted. That was roughly how they had become a couple.
The first feeling that Luke had after starting to date Isabelle was a sort of sympathy. Isabelle had grown up in a household that was especially strict and domineering, and therefore lacked the people skills or initiative to befriend strangers.
She had not approached any other students at the Academy not on purpose, but because she did not know how to treat other people.
Luke realized this, and became even more considerate of her in their relationship, falling deeper and deeper into her hidden charisma.
However, as graduation approached, Isabelle gradually became more and more nervous.
Her sisters at the Lea Marquisate had already become sacrifices to political marriages, and it was a path she would likely have to follow.
“I am not a legitimate daughter, so I’ll most likely become married off to an old Noble.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t let that happen.”
After consideration, Luke opened up to his father about his dilemma.
“I have someone that I love. I am going to have to leave the House to marry her.”
Lea Marquisate was a House that strictly calculated its gains and losses. If Luke went under their banner as a Knight, Lea Marquisate would most likely allow Luke and Isabelle’s marriage.
Earl Esteban, Luke’s father, respected Luke’s decision.
“If that’s what you wish to do, I will not stop you. Start a new life at Lea Marquisate.”
“Thank you, father.”
Luke immediately left to Lea Marquisate, and received their blessings for marrying Isabelle.
Luke broke out of his reminiscence and smiled bitterly.
“She was so happy back then…”
The image of Isabelle jumping up and down happily with Luke in her arms after her House’s blessings was still clear in Luke’s mind. Luke gripped his fists tightly.
“I can’t just let her leave to the Church of Flora. I must find a way.”
The situation seemed hopeless. Lea Marquisate was smaller and less powerful than Esteban Earldom, but the Church of Flora could not be taken lightly. Luke’s bravery did not waver.
The next day, Luke went to Reynold with bloodshot eyes from a sleepless night.
“I don’t need any guards. I am planning on going with the apprentice knight I took in.”
“It’s too dangerous. We don’t know what they might do if you go without guards.”
“Our opponents are the Lea Marquisate and the Church of Flora. A few soldiers won’t do anything to deter them. Also…”
Luke lowered his voice.
“In the worst case scenario, they may only get in the way.”
Worry came over Reynold’s face.
“Please, keep a cool head before acting, Luke.”
“I will try, but I don’t know how the situation will change….”
Reynold accepted Luke’s decision.
“All right. Do as you wish. Thankfully Lea Marquisate is an ordered territory without chaos.”
“Thank you, big brother.”
“Wherever you go or end up, do not forget that you are the son of Esteban Earldom. And…”
Reynold took out a book from the drawer of his desk and handed it to Luke.
“What is this?”
“It’s the Aura cultivation method you asked for.”
Luke gave a start and took the book into his hands. He had requested it, but without big expectations. Aura cultivation methods were extremely valuable.
“I had originally meant to consider it a bit more. But with the situation you are in, I couldn’t put it off any longer.”
Luke felt a warmth in his heart.
“I can’t thank you enough, big brother.”
“I can give you even bigger things considering what you’ve done for the House. Anyways…”
Reynold lowered his voice.
“Don’t get your hopes too high. The Aura cultivation method has a single big flaw.”
“Its ability to circulate Aura is on par with the House’s Aura cultivation technique, but it’s an unstable technique.
According to Reynold, one of the trainers of the House had suffered from a rampaging mana and thrown up blood when he tried to train in the technique.
“We do not have any records on where we acquired it from, but the level of the Aura cultivation technique should be fairly high.”
Luke silently nodded. He understood now why Reynold would be willing to give him the Aura cultivation technique. Aura cultivation techniques could not be purchased even if you had the money, and required status and power as well.
Luke took the book and put it away into a pocket in his shirt.
“Yes, big brother. I will be leaving right away.”
“Please, be careful.”
“You don’t have to worry.”
Reynold’s eyes looked on with worry at the retreating figure of Luke.