Chapter 4. Kidnapped (3)
“You will be swapping the souls?”
“Yes. Maal explained to me that the soul of the human, whose heart I stab, will ascend to the heavens. The soul of the Orc in the divine object will be able to take control of the body of the human.”
A cold drop of sweat dripped down from Luke’s brow.
“Truly… How does a god gift an Orc with such a cursed sword?”
Luke’s face turned cold.
“I don’t know why you have told me this secret, but you will suffer for it. If I escape, and I’ll try by all means, I will tell the world of your secrets.”
“Even if you take over a human body, you think you could fit into the world of humans? Impossible.”
Surprisingly, Kurotan seemed to agree with Luke.
“Your words ring true. We, who have lived as Orcs, will not be able to live as humans just because we are in a human body.”
“Then give up. It is a useless effort.”
Luke tried to continue talking, but Kurotan’s next words shut him up.
“That is why we kidnapped you.”
“Th-that’s why I was kidnapped?!”
“Kueeek, correct. After long deliberation, we decided that to live as humans, we would need the help of a human.”
Luke smiled condescendingly at Kurotan.
“The help of a human… You think a human exists that would help you?”
“If you kidnapped me for such a reason, you have made a big error.”
Luke steeled himself and opened up his chest.
“I will not help you. Even if you kill me.”
Kurotan stared hard at Luke and asked.
“Why do you hate us so much?”
“Why, you ask? How many soldiers under my direct command died to your hands? Even the guards that you massacred when you kidnapped me all had lives.”
“Kueeek, our warriors have also died at the hands of humans.”
A single human and a single orc stared each other down.
Luke was the first to turn away.
Truthfully, it was the Hansel Kingdom that had first started pushing out the Latilla Tribe, who were originally peaceful towards the Kingdom.
“Ok, Kurotan. It is of no help to anyone to play the blame game at this moment. But why me?”
“What do you mean? Kueeek.”
“There are many humans out there. What made you sure that I would help you?”
“We were not.”
“Then why did you choose me? From the look of things, it seemed you first confirmed that it was me who left the fort before setting up the ambush?”
“You are correct. We had elite scouts watching your movements.”
Kurotan took a deep breath before explaining.
“To tell you the truth, we have been watching you for a long time.”
Luke’s face contorted in confusion. Even as a commander, he was not that special.
“From our perspective, you were truly a magnificent commander.”
Kurotan’s words left him even more puzzled. At one point, Luke had even thought that he was not cut out for the position of a commander.
“Me, a magnificent commander? Are you sure you have the right person?”
Kurotan pointed his finger at Luke’s eyes and hair.
“We remember your face. Not just me, but most of the warriors of our tribe admit the superiority of your prowess.”
“Kurotan, I don’t know what you’re thinking but you have the wrong person.”
Luke calmed himself down and stared Kurotan in the eyes.
“If you are a commander, you are not supposed to blink at the mere death of your subordinate. Charge, break and annihilate the enemy. That is what makes you a good commander. From that perspective, I am not a good commander.”
Luke strongly rebuked Kurotan’s view of him.
For Luke, who had been forced upon the position of commander unwillingly, his biggest priority was to return safely without any injuries.
Whether by coincidence or not, all the soldiers under his command had been drafted unwillingly as well. Unlike the elite troops that received wages or the mercenaries to whom pillaging was allowed, drafted soldiers only wished to return home safely.
Because they understood each other, Luke and his troops had set survival as their top priority.
If possible, they would not undertake any dangerous missions, and Luke, rather than looking to perform merits, would pour all his efforts into ensuring the survival of his soldiers. Luke did not care whether or not his superiors viewed him with favor.
Luke’s hundred man army had the least casualty rates out of all the defending troops of Fort Potellan. Not that it was honorable.
“In other words, you guys messed up.”
“The capacity of a commander is most well judged by the enemy. The area defended by your troops were truly impenetrable.”
“Your troops never once fell for our battle tactics of ‘retreat and surround’.”
“Those were battle tactics?”
Luke clicked his tongue in disbelief.
Chasing down and exterminating the small groups of Orcs that would assault the wooden defense lines could render merits. Other commanders salivated at such a thought, but Luke had never once participated. Rather than merits, the lives of his soldiers were more valuable to him.
“That’s because… Merits hold no value to…”
“Kueeek, the commanders you describe as ‘good’… Those kinds of commanders are too common amongst Orcs. In fact, those are the only kind we have.”
The ‘valiant’ nature of Orcs was already well known amongst the defensive troops of Potellan. The heroic deaths of Orcs that charged in the face of overwhelming enemy numbers had given Luke many chills.
The images of valiant Orcs charging without hesitation into impenetrable defense lines was still clear in Luke’s mind.”
“Ok, I do see where you are coming from. I still think it is a bit of a stretch to call me a magnificent commander though.”
Kurotan swallowed, and looked pitifully at Luke before replying.
“Take us in.”
“Help us adjust as humans.”
“I have already refused! Why would I help you when I don’t know what you’re plotting for after you become ‘humans’?”
“Orcs do not plot. We merely wish to follow Maal’s will, and carry on our worship after we become humans.”
“How the hell could I possibly believe you? You could be lying just to maintain your lives!”
“We are not afraid of death. Kueeek.”
Kurotan snorted with derision.
“Kueeek, it is an honor to return to the arms of the great Maal.”
Luke nodded his head slowly. That mindset would explain the valiant nature of Orcs.
“You Orcs really live your lives without planning.”
“Out of nowhere, you kidnap an enemy commander and ask him to help Orcs to adjust to human life? You thought he would agree, just like that?”
“We will pay a price for your help.”
Luke snorted coldly.
“What price? The food supplies you guys have pillaged until now? Treasures?”
“We do not have food supplies. The last of it was sent to the Pushan Tribe before we found out about the massacre.”
“Then what price will you pay for my help?”
“For the rest of our lives, our axes will be yours.”
Luke’s eyes opened wide with disbelief.
“Yo-you will pledge fealty to me?”
“Yes. Our lives will be yours should you help us become humans. Your orders shall be followed.”
Luke remained silent for a long time, before snapping to and glaring at Kurotan.
“So that’s why you chose me. Why you guys think of me as a ‘magnificent’ commander.”
Luke continued to stare Kurotan down.
“You guys do not trust humans. How will you swear fealty to me when you do not trust me?”
“Humans are too familiar with lying. It is hard for us to trust such beings.”
“I cannot deny that. Although humans that do not lie exist.”
“Kueeek. We simply have no other choice. We have decided to choose a single human, and follow him until the end.”
“And that chosen human is me?”
Luke stared at Kurotan with almost pity. He had known that Orcs were simple and slow, but not that they would be simple to the extent of creating such a situation.
“I almost have no words to respond with…”
It was also true, however, that Luke couldn’t help but be attracted to the option.
Orcs were a race that followed a commander’s order to the letter, even if it was to charge into the enemy lines alone. Born warriors that did not even have the concept of disobeying an order.
‘I did wish for at least a couple of soldiers that took after the Orcs during my time as a Centurion…’
Kurotan fidgeted nervously while waiting for Luke’s answer.
“Why not Hal, whom you captured as well? He seemed to be a part of a crime syndicate. He would have accepted your offer without a second thought.”
“We cannot trust him.”
“And you can trust me?”
Kurotan stared Luke dead in the eyes.
“One thing is for certain. Should we follow you, we will not die a dog’s death in meaningless battles.”
“That is the reason why we have chosen to trust and swear fealty to you.”
Kurotan’s eyes turned even more sincere.
“We have no other plots. Please, trust us.”
“Ha… It is unlikely for your simple brains to come up with multiple plots… but isn’t there anything else you wish for? Like enacting vengeance upon the Pushan Tribe that drove the Latillas into extermination?”
“Of course we wish for vengeance! If possible, we hope you will give us the chance to enact it.”
Luke pondered furiously for a while before looking back at Kurotan.
“It is not a problem I can answer easily. Can I have some time to think?”
“Kueeek, how much time?”
“I will give you my answer tomorrow morning.”
“Tomorrow afternoon is the time when the humans launch their final push.”
“You will have your answer before then.”
Kurotan nodded silently.
“As you wish. I will wait until tomorrow.”
“Good. I will see you tomorrow, Kurotan.”