Chapter 7. The Orc in Human Guise
Luke sighed deeply after entering an alleyway without any signs of people.
“I wonder whether I may have made a mistake or not.”
“Are you asking because you don’t know?”
“Kurotan doesn’t know.”
Luke sighed once again when he saw Kurotan who was looking around furiously.
“Why did you ignore me like that? You said you would follow my every order!”
“I promised you my axe. I didn’t say I would become your servant.”
Kurotan puffed out his chest.
“I was a Great Warrior, and all the warriors of the Latilla Tribe were under my command. Treat me as an honorable warrior.”
“You can go freeze your ass off with your honor…”
Luke glared at Kurotan.
“Did you even listen to the orders of your Chieftain?”
Kurotan snapped at Luke’s words.
“What are you saying? The words of the Chieftain are law. All warriors must follow her words to the letter.”
“Ah, right. The Chieftain is a female. Right.”
Luke pondered for another moment before speaking to Kurotan.
“If you were the Great Warrior, were you the strongest warrior of the Latilla Tribe?”
“Yes. I beat the previous Great Warrior to the ground and proudly took his place.”
“But even you must have had a time when you were a green horn?
“Why do you ask?”
“Did you follow the orders of the Great Warrior when you were a green horn?”
Kurotan nodded without hesitation.
“I’d have died from being beaten if I hadn’t.”
This was the moment that Luke realized another trait of Orc Warriors.
‘I see. Orcs are races that follow the law of the survival of the fittest. This bastard must be looking down on me for sure. That’s why he’s ignoring me.”
He had heard during his time as an officer that an Orc at the commander level was hard to deal with, even for three or four Knights at once.
“All right. Kurotan, do you see me as a strong warrior?”
Kurotan answered without hesitation.
“I have not once thought of you as strong.”
“Why? You have never even fought me.”
“Do you remember the warrior with the axe during the ambush?”
Luke frowned at the memory.
“He was rather skilled with an axe for an Orc. I did successfully wound his arm despite being pressured. I would have won if someone hadn’t hit me in the back of the head.”
“I hit the back of your head.”
“It was you?”
Luke stared at Kurotan with wide eyes, who merely shrugged.
“It couldn’t be helped, as we had to capture you. The warrior with the axe is named Mabal, and I am much stronger than he is.”
Luke was shocked. He didn’t know that Kurotan would be as skilled as he was claiming. To be truthful, he had a high probability of losing to Mabal should they fight again.
However, Kurotan’s body had changed. And the body of an Orc and a human were different on fundamental levels.
Luke’s eyes narrowed.
‘Hal’s body is barely trained. And Kurotan hasn’t had the time to get used to his new body.’
Orcs had longer arms than humans, but shorter legs with slightly bent backs. Kurotan’s current walking posture was extremely awkward.
‘If I don’t teach him a lesson with this chance, he’ll constantly give me trouble.’
Luke made up his mind and began to poke at Kurotan’s pride.
“You say you are that skilled?”
“You’ve just swapped bodies! How would you properly show your skills?”
As expected, Kurotan grew angry.
“Even with swapped bodies, I am strong. I’ve battled countless times in order to secure the title of Great Warrior.”
“Ehh… I don’t trust you.”
Kurotan gripped his fists tightly.
“If you want, I can prove my strength to you.”
A smile spread across Luke’s face at the expected answer.
“Good. Let’s see the skills of the Great Warrior of the Latilla Tribe.”
As an Orc that liked fighting more than eating his meals, Kurotan smiled brightly.
“Don’t regret it.”
“I need a weapon.”
“I can buy you a weapon.”
Luke immediately took Kurotan to a nearby arms shop. Kurotan picked up a heavy battle axe.
“Look, you should weigh the weapon first.”
“We know nothing about such things. A weapon is good if gripping the handle feels good.”
The battleaxe seemed far too heavy for Hal’s body no matter what way one looked at it, and Luke narrowed his eyes slightly.
Perhaps because he didn’t go through physical training, Hal’s arms seemed fragile in comparison to Hal’s general stature.
‘I guess we’ll find out if we just fight?’
Luke took Kurotan to an isolated corner of the city. Kurotan kept caressing the battleaxe Luke had bought him, as though he liked it a lot.
“I have never held such a clean and undamaged axe.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s because you guys use the weapons that you loot.”
Luke took a couple of deep breaths, and unsheathed the longsword hanging from his belt.
“Good. Let’s see the strength of the Latilla Tribe’s Great Warrior.”
Kurotan let out a roar and charged once Luke took a stance. He was swinging the battleaxe wildly.
Luke tensed up, slightly nervous, when Kurotan charged at him.
The next moment, however, saw something ridiculous.
The charging Kurotan had fallen face first when his legs had gotten tangled.
“Th-That was a mistake. Let us start again.”
Kurotan charged again. The pressure he gave off, however, was far from reaching Luke’s expectations.
Luke side stepped lightly and tripped Kurotan, who ended up rolling on the ground.
“I suppose the instructors were right when they said practical battle skills came from a trained physique.”
Luke smiled a little bitterly at his memories and sheathed his sword. Kurotan’s eyes ignited at the sight.
“It’s not over yet.”
“Well, I wasn’t planning on finishing yet either.”
Luke gripped his sword again, however, this time it was sheathed and tied up securely, preventing accidental unsheathing.
“Come at me. You’ll be bruised but you won’t bleed.”
Kurotan roared in rage and jumped towards Luke once again.
Hal’s body was too weak for the Great Warrior Orc to display his skills.
The vertical axe strike was blocked by the sheathed sword in Luke’s hands. Kurotan attempted to use brute strength to push down, but the sheathed sword refused to budge even a bit.
Kurotan mustered up even the strength that he had used to suckle from his mother; Luke rotated the sheathed sword slightly and threw off the axe.
Kurotan nose planted into the ground as a result of the skilled counter.
“I don’t think there’s a need to fight anymore.”
“It’s not over yet!”
His body had changed, but the fighting will of an Orc remained.
Kurotan snorted with a bloody face (from a nosebleed), and charged. Luke effortlessly blocked Kurotan’s attacks.
Because the sheathed sword dug into every gap in his defenses, Kurotan soon became a lump of bruises.
“As expected, you can’t display your battle prowess with a changed body.”
No matter how experienced, a knight with no experience fighting an Orc was bound to lose. An Orc’s arms were much longer than a human’s.
The difference in arm length was a difficult obstacle that every knight stationed at Fort Potellan had to overcome, and it was no different for Luke.
‘The characteristic flexibility and explosiveness of Orcs are completely gone.’
Thankfully, the battle honed reflexes and a sense for danger seemed to remain. Kurotan instinctively twisted his body to avoid critical strikes whenever Luke’s sheathed sword swung past his defenses.
All in all, however, his new body was much too fragile. Kurotan eventually fell as a bloody, bruised heap of flesh.
Luke stared down at Kurotan after securing the sheath to his belt. Kurotan was heaving deeply, seemingly in disbelief.
“Th-This is impossible…”
“Looks like I have no use for your axe.”
Luke stared at Kurotan with cold eyes. Kurotan’s face turned nervous at the sight.
Orcs did not take useless prisoners. Kurotan couldn’t help but anxiously ask.
“You have no use for me. Are you going to kill me?”
“I’m thinking right now.”
Luke clicked his tongue after staring at Kurotan who was stretched out on the ground.
“You’re very lucky.”
“What do you mean?”
“Because even amongst humans, I value my promises very much…”
Luke smiled and extended his hand. Kurotan reached up to grab it and unsteadily pulled himself up.
“I have already promised to take you under my wing, and I will keep that promise. It doesn’t matter whether you are useful to me or not…”
Kurotan’s face brightened up immediately.
“But! The hierarchy of this relationship should be cleared up?”
Luke’s smile turned even wider as he looked at Kurotan.
“Do you admit that I am stronger than you now?”
Kurotan swallowed loudly. Should he once again have the body of an Orc Great Warrior, Luke would not last a second.
But he was currently in a fragile human body. The body of the Orc Great Warrior was probably rotting away by now.
“I admit it. You are much stronger than the current me.”
“Good. So according to Orc laws, you will follow my orders to the letter from now on?”
“As you wish. I shall follow your orders to the letter.”
“Then here is my first order.”
Luke once again extended his hand towards Kurotan.
“I shall take care of the divine object from now on. Give it here.”
Kurotan immediately stepped backwards, shaking his head furiously.
“I can’t do that. The divine object houses the souls of hundreds of my tribe’s warriors. It must be taken care of carefully.”
“I will take care of it carefully.”
“It will be safer for me to…”
Kurotan didn’t finish his sentence. He realized that Luke was stronger than the current him.
Even though he realized this, Kurotan continued to hesitate. It was still hard for him to trust a human with the divine object carrying the souls of his fellow warriors. Luke’s face turned serious.
“To be honest, I will not let you use the divine object as you wish anyways.”
Luke pointed to Kurotan.
“Even Hal’s body which you took over has bothered me until now. Hal has a family to go back to, but you stole his body and his soul has ascended. How resentful must he feel?”
“It is the law of Orcs to kill and take.”
“Those are the laws you followed when you were an Orc, but you are a human now. You must follow the laws of humans from now on.”
Luke made a compromising gesture.
“From now on, you can only use the divine object with my permission.”
“Yes. From my perspective, that of a human, I cannot allow you to pillage human bodies as you please.”
“Th-Then, what should I do with all the souls of the warrior?”
“I shall choose the bodies that the Latilla Tribe warriors will inherit from now on.”
“I will only allow you to take the bodies of criminals that will only harm society by living.”
Kurotan continued to hesitate despite Luke’s explanations. Luke’s eyes became fierce at Kurotan’s continued attitude.
“Did you not say that you would follow me to the end? Was it all just a lie?”
Kurotan finally seemed to come to a decision at those words, and he offered up the divine object.
“I will follow you to the end. We do not lie.”
Luke looked at the divine object in his hands. On the outside, it was an old, broken sword, but it held the sleeping souls of hundreds of Orc warriors inside.
‘No one would believe this story.’
Luke glanced at Kurotan after he tucked away the sword into his bosom.
“The word ‘divine object’ may cause problems should other people overhear us, so let’s call this ‘Spirit Sword’ from now on.”
“Since it carries souls, it makes sense.”
“Good. Let’s finish the rest of my errands in the city and then leave for my House’s Earldom. Don’t say anything until we finish, and follow me.”
“As you wish.”
“If someone tries to talk to you, do this.”
Luke rolled his hand into a fist and put it in front of his mouth. The gesture was used by vassals or apprentice knights carrying out a period of silent training. Kurotan followed the gesture and nodded.