Chapter 31. Nigel Viscounty
The carriage was loaded with corpses and the wounded before they started on the road.
The remaining knights surrounded the carriage on horseback. Luke and Kurotan followed from the back on the horses that they had received from Angela.
“What is it?”
“Were you hiding your skills up to now? Or have you just become that much stronger through the tribal tradition?”
Luke had honestly been surprised at Kurotan’s prowess. The knights they had faced were all veterans of battle, and all had a minimum of ten years of training in the sword.
On top of that, they had been equipped with sturdy armor and a helmet. Kurotan, however, had taken them out like swatting flies.
Kurotan snorted at Luke’s questions.
“That’s easy. Real battle is unlike the child’s play that was the martial tournament…”
“What is child’s play if not that? You hold weapons, yet do not use them to kill your opponents. Surrender? Ha!”
“Well, I suppose that makes sense from an orc’s perspective. Either way…”
Luke smiled and patted Kurotan on the shoulder.
“I feel relieved, having seen your prowess in a true battle. You are reliable.”
“If you think that I will go easier on you during the next tribal ritual, you are mistaken.”
A vein began to pop out of Luke’s forehead.
“What are yo-, you bastard”
“You should prepare at least ten mid-level healing potions for the next tribal ritual.”
“All right. All right!”
They were able to reach enter the castle of Nigel Viscounty after two days of travel. Because they had sent a knight ahead of them, the lord of Nigel Viscounty himself was the one to greet the party.
“Father, I have returned.”
“Ah, Angela! It is good to see that you are safe.”
Viscount Nigel expressed his thanks to Luke unabashedly.
“I give you my thanks for rescuing my daughter and knights.”
“No need, my lord… We were just passing by when we decided to help.”
“I have prepared a feast, let us talk more inside.”
“Well, then. I will be in your care.”
Luke and Kurotan were able to take baths while being waited on by maidservants, before changing into brand new clothes. A blacksmith even stopped by to take their measurements for the armor.
“I will be making your armors as half plates, seeing that you are traveling and training.”
“That would be ideal, thank you.”
“The lord has told me to take special care on this.”
Luke and Kurotan finished cleaning up after themselves before heading towards to the feast hall. A feast large and sumptuous enough to bend the table’s legs awaited them. Kurotan was already sniffing wildly.
The lord and his kin were already there, smiling in welcome. Angela sat beside her father in a beautiful dress.
“Thank you for such a warm welcome, my lord.”
“It’s not much, but please enjoy the feast.”
“Gladly, my lord.”
Kurotan began throwing food into his mouth as soon as the meal began, but no one commented on the lack of manners.
It was most likely due to the strength and skill that Kurotan had displayed in dispatching two knights of Tarpan Barony and crippling one.
“He is of a common background, hence the lack of etiquette. I humbly request your understanding.”
“It’s quite all right, do not worry.”
After a while, Viscount Nigel began to start a conversation.
“I heard from Angela that you are in the midst of training, sir knight?”
“Yes, my lord. I am traveling the continent in order to polish myself further.”
“You were knighted in the Hansel Kingdom, correct?”
“Yes, my lord.”
Viscount Nigel sighed in disappointment. Going by what he had heard from Angela, Luke was more than skilled enough to represent their fiefdom in the knight’s competition. Unfortunately, a foreign country’s knights, Hansel Kingdom’s in particular, would cause trouble.
Luke carefully looked into the Viscount’s eyes before asking.
“Is there something that worries you?”
“It’s nothing worth your worry, sir knight, do not fret.”
Right then, Angela burst into the conversation. She was feeling desperate after having failed to enlist Knight Cooper from the Jabel Earldom.
“The truth is…”
Luke nodded after Angela explained the situation. He knew that the most common way to settle disputes between nobles was through a knight’s competition.
“So that was what was bothering you…”
“Would it be possible that you would represent our fiefdom in the competition? My father would knight you temporarily…”
Viscount Nigel smiled bitterly as he berated his daughter.
“Angela, do not dump our troubles on the knight who saved you and our knights’ lives.”
Luke nodded after watching the exchange between the two.
“It seems that it’s only possible for knights of the Sith Empire to enter the knight’s competition.”
Viscount Nigel flinched as Luke went straight to the heart of the matter.
“Haha, it seems that you are quite sharp. Well, it wouldn’t matter if the other fiefdom did not object, but we are on quite bad terms with Tarpan Barony.”
“I don’t think that would be the problem.”
Luke bared his teeth in a smile as he looked at Kurotan, still stuffing his face with food.
“I am a knight of the Hansel Kingdom, but my vassal was knighted in the Sith Empire after winning a martial tournament.”
Viscount Nigel and Angela lit up at Luke’s words.
“Oh, could it be true?”
“Yes, my lord. He has an official knight’s identification as well, so it shouldn’t be a problem for him to enter the knight’s competition. Also, he may be my vassal…”
Luke trailed off before smiling.
“Kurotan is even more skilled than I am. He may not be useful for many things, but he is a born fighter.”
Angela opened her mouth carefully.
“Could it be possible that you could send him to fight for our fiefdom in the knight’s competition? We were able to enlist four knights, but we have not been able to find the fifth member.”
“Well, it’s possible. But…”
Luke once again trailed off, looking reluctant.
“I would ask for ample compensation. My vassal might not look like it, but he is an aura expert capable of increasing his physical strength through aura.”
“Ohh! Is it true?”
The Viscount jumped up from his seat, unable to contain his excitement.
“You may test him if you wish, but it is true.”
“You do not have to worry about the compensation if that is true. I will spare no funds in order to win this competition.”
“Thank you for your understanding, my lord. My training has been long, and my pockets…”
Kurotan continued to stuff his face, oblivious to the conversation that centered on him.
Viscount Nigel forewent the process of testing Kurotan. He had chosen to believe his daughter’s testimony of Kurotan’s might, and how he had easily dispatched three knights.
“The knight’s competition is in ten days. Please, make sure you rest fully. You will have servants, of course.”
“Thank you for your generosity, lord.”
The rooms provided by the lord was luxurious. A very full Kurotan sank into bed.
“The cushioning on this bed is amazing. Humans sure do know how to make interesting things.”
“Kurotan, you’re a human too, now.”
“I’m still not used to it. Anyway…”
An evil smile from Kurotan.
“It’s your turn.”
Luke shuddered slightly as Kurotan slowly made a fist.
“It’s true that it’s my turn. But we can’t carry out the tribal ritual right now.”
“You stupid bastard. We have to finish the knight’s competition and receive the reward from the Viscount. We don’t have any healing potions right now.”
“Is that so?”
“We can carry out the tribal ritual in ten days, after we’ve purchased healing potions with the prize money.”
“Well, I guess that works.”
Kurotan continued to roll around in bed, when he suddenly asked Luke.
“What the hell is this knight’s competition, anyway?”
“Hm, how should I explain this to you? When you were an orc, there were conflicts between tribes, right?”
“How did you guys resolve the conflicts?”
“Simple. We’d fight until the warriors of one tribe were all dead.”
“You simpletons… Knight’s competitions happen to prevent exactly that. Each tribe is picking out five warriors to fight, and the first side to win three times is the winner of the conflict.”
“I see. I understand.”
“Our opponents will be from a small Barony, so I am not that worried. You will be able to win easily.”
“That’s a pity. I was hoping for a strong opponent.”
Luke stared blankly at Kurotan before smiling and tapping the hilt of his sword.
“Well, that was a good meal. Do you want to duel? It’ll be closer than before, since I’ve become an aura expert.”
Kurotan did not seem intrigued.
“It’s not very fun to fight a hatchling that has just learned to control his aura…”
“You stupid bastard. Won’t that change when I’ve become more fluent in my aura control? You’ll be helping yourself by training me.”
“Keung, I guess that makes sense. All right, let’s have at it.”
“I’ve already checked the location of a training field, follow me.”
A few apprentice knights were already at the training field, sweating profusely.
Luke and Kurotan walked towards an unoccupied field, wearing chain armor.
Luke frowned slightly as he raised his sword.
“It seems that I’m still not able to control my aura easily.”
“You think that’s something you can accomplish in a few days?”
“Isn’t there a quicker way, though?”
Kurotan bared his teeth in a smile.
“Yes there is. That’s to battle until you drop to the ground.”
Luke cursed, kicking the ground and shooting off towards Kurotan in a blur.