Chapter 16. To Lea Marquisate (3)
The following spar was completely different from any of the previous duels.
“Wh-What the fuck?”
Luke’s eyes almost popped out of his face in surprise. Kurotan’s movements had suddenly sped up by more than twice. His strength had also improved incomparably from his previous state.
Luke retreated while frowning after the swords clashed a couple of times. His hands were numb from the shock of Kurotan’s blows.
“How is this even possible? Kurotan only awakened his Aura last night, and he’s already using it to strengthen his strength and agility…”
Unlike Luke’s frowning face, Kurotan’s face shone with ecstasy.
“Good, it has been a while, this feeling.”
It did not take a long time before Luke’s movements became disorderly.
Kurotan’s attacks were simple and straightforward, because he had only learned basic sword techniques. The path of his attacks, in other words, was perfectly clear. However, it was difficult for Luke to keep up with Kurotan when he had almost doubled his physical abilities through his Aura.
Luke raised his hand in a gesture, and Kurotan backed off reluctantly.
“What is it? You’re already tired?”
“I was the one saying that, just yesterday…”
Luke sheathed his sword, and plopped himself down by the campfire, a spaced out look on his face. Kurotan squared out his shoulders with a confident look.
“I cannot yet display my full abilities because I don’t have enough Aura. Time will solve this problem.”
“Oh, great, it must be nice for you to have a genius level talent.”
Kurotan glanced curiously at Luke, who was complaining.
“You cannot yet control your Aura?”
“No, I can’t.”
Luke spat back in annoyance.
“How would I know? Every time I try to suppress it and bring it under my control, it slips away…”
“Your method is incorrect.”
“Aura, or Maal’s Blessing, cannot be moved forcibly.”
“Then how can I control it?”
“First, you must become closer with the Aura. In other words, befriend it.”
Luke rolled his eyes. How do you become friends with a non-living thing such as Aura, a form of processed mana?
“It will all become clear once you befriend Aura. The process is a little bit tricky, but once you befriend Aura, it will entrust itself to you. You must wait calmly until then.”
Luke swallowed in a sort of anticipation. He had never heard anything like this from his senior Knights. Until now, the only method he had been taught to control Aura was to forcibly suppress and then move it.
‘Is this how Orcs are able to control Aura so easily without even having a structured technique for Aura cultivation?’
Luke looked at Kurotan seriously. Humans would not walk around blabbering about the secrets to controlling Aura. Even if a human was willing to share the secret, it’d most likely be for a huge price. However, Kurotan did no such thing.
Luke listened intently to the rest of Kurotan’s explanation.
“If I just befriend Aura, I can circulate it through my body, just like you?”
“Yes. But there is a single requirement.”
“What is that?”
“The circulation path must be smooth and natural. Aura and mana are very different. Unlike mana, Aura will stop and retreat to its original place if the pathway is not natural.”
“Is that so? So that’s why you emphasized a natural pathway so much.”
“Yes. The ways that warriors earn Maal’s blessing, or awaken Aura, can differ. But one rule must absolutely be followed.”
“The flow of the mana must be natural?”
Luke tweaked his head in curiosity.
“But how do I feel whether or not the flow of mana is unnatural?”
“That is up to you. As with Aura, you must first befriend mana for everything to be clear.”
“Isn’t that too abstract?”
“I will tell you step by step, how to befriend mana.”
“Ok, I’ll give it a shot.”
Luke followed Kurotan’s instructions and tried to ‘befriend’ mana. It was a method that demanded incredible patience from Luke.
“Try to feel the flow of the mana, to become one with it.”
Kurotan bared his teeth in a savage smile.
“The flow of mana becomes fiercer and faster the more you fight. It becomes easier to feel it then.”
Unfortunately, Luke had to unsheathe his sword once more to duel Kurotan.
The Kurotan who had awakened Aura had astonishing speed. In addition to his sharpened senses and reflexes, his strength and agility were now augmented by Aura. Luke ran out of breath soon after.
Kurotan, on the other hand, had barely changed his pace of breathing. It was a scene completely different from the duels not very long ago.
“Damn… Looks like your stamina is also helped by Aura.”
“Of course. I will not get tired so easily before my Aura runs out.”
After fighting mindlessly for a while, the flow of mana throughout their bodies quickened. Luke began to sense things he had not been able to before when he tried to listen to Kurotan’s advice.
“It’s not perfectly clear, but I think I am feeling the flow of mana.”
Kurotan bared his teeth in a smile once again.
“If we fight even more, you will be able to feel it more clearly.”
“This god damned…”
Chwaaang. Chwang. Chwang.
Luke had no choice but to grit his teeth and jump at Kurotan.
“I’m going to die from the pain.”
Luke massaged his aching sides and legs while looking very battered. They were places that he’d taken pretty heavy hits from Kurotan.
“You are too weak. That’s nothing…”
“Look, I’m not an Orc. I’m not bad for a human, you know.”
Unlike his snappy comebacks, Luke’s expression was bright. He had succeeded in feeling the flow of mana by following Kurotan’s advice.
“There were a total of three places where I felt that the flow of mana was unnatural.”
“Is that so?”
“I think I have to fix the pathway in those places first.”
Luke glanced at Kurotan with a bright expression.
“Will you help me?”
Luke’s eyes shook a bit.
“Do not thank me from now on.”
“Friends do not thank each other.”
Kurotan looked at Luke straight on.
“You might be human, but I already consider you a member of my tribe. Tribal members do not need to thank each other.”
“All right. I won’t say thank you from now on.”
“Not just me, but the tribal members who will be joining us from now on.”
Luke sat down in a meditative position on the ground and took out the last mana potion. He was planning on using it to make adjustments to the Esteban House’s Aura cultivation method he had trained in.
Just yesterday, Luke would not have attempted such a thing no matter what. The Aura cultivation method of Esteban House was praised throughout the kingdom as being a stable and efficient Aura cultivation method.
However, Luke had seen Kurotan train in an ‘unstable’ Aura cultivation method, make multiple adjustments, and jump immediately to the level of an Aura Expert.
This was why he was attempting something he could not have even imagined yesterday.
Luke gulped down the mana potion and closed his eyes. Not long after, mana began to seep throughout his body.
Luke frowned at the painful throbs coming from the inside of his body.
‘I can never get used to this pain. It’s better than the first time, I guess…”
He had already located places in the pathway that felt like the flow was unnatural with Kurotan’s help. Unlike Kurotan, Luke was drinking a mana potion in a state where his mana pathway was already complete. The mana from the mana potion immediately began circulating this pathway as soon as it was released.
‘There are a total of three places where the mana flow is unnatural. I must fix them.’
Luke was aware of how to guide mana, courtesy of Kurotan. Luke smiled bitterly.
‘I am probably the only human that’s ever existed to try and adjust an Aura cultivation method using the ideas of an Orc.’
The adjustment of the Aura cultivation method went smoothly. Luke had successfully guided his mana through new paths that closed down the unnatural paths that his mana flowed through. Guiding mana was a lot easier than controlling Aura.
Luke opened his eyes and lifted his sweat covered face.
“I think it’s done. I no longer feel any unnatural spots in my mana pathway.”
“All right, now you must befriend your Aura. Don’t try to control it, and try to approach it first.”
“Just like you befriend mana. You must feel and become one with Aura.”
Luke made multiple attempts, following the advice Kurotan had given him, but none were successful. It felt as though the Aura was angry for all the times that Luke had tried to suppress it.
However, the Aura was not reacting violently or fiercely towards Luke’s advances as it had before.
“Don’t be in a rush, this will take time.”
“All right. I should be relaxed going about it.”
Luke looked up to the sky.
“Too much time has passed. We should get moving.”
“All right. I’ll prepare some food really quick.”
Luke smiled bitterly and hurried about to cook.
The distance between Esteban Earldom and Lea Marquisate took about fifteen days to travel on horseback. Luke and Kurotan trained bitterly throughout the whole travel.
They would spar fiercely every night, foregoing sleep, and traveled the whole day to make up for the time lost in their training.
Kurotan’s prowess increased daily. As he gradually cultivated his Aura, he was becoming closer and closer to the level of his past as an Orc Great Warrior.
Luke was also undergoing some changes. After he had adjusted the Aura cultivation method with Kurotan’s help, Aura had begun to circulate his body for the first time.
Of course, he had not befriended Aura yet. However, due to fixing unnatural spots in the pathway that the Aura would flow through, the Aura would no longer stop and return during its circulation as it did in the past.
“Good. The Aura has flowed through the place I made the adjustment.”
Luke examined the Aura that was coursing through his body anxiously, but the Aura safely circulated his body once. It was his first time succeeding in Aura rotation since he had awakened Aura.
Kurotan laughed and patted Luke on the shoulder.
“It will circulate continuously, now that you have succeeded. The amount of Aura will slowly increase.”
Luke looked at Kurotan, his eyes shaking with emotion.
“It’s all thanks to you.”
“No. I was able to recover Aura thanks to you as well.”
Their gazes met in the air, and Kurotan bared his teeth in a smile and lifted his axe.
“If we fight without worry, the Aura will circulate even faster throughout the body. Shall we dance?”
“Good. Let’s fight.”
The sound of weapons clashing echoed through the night, by the campfire.