Chapter 9. The Beginning of Kurotan’s Training
Ch. 9 The Beginning of Kurotan’s Training
“Shit, how long was I asleep?”
Luke stretched after waking up.
His face paled the moment he saw Kurotan.
Kurotan was still running. But it seemed that Luke had been asleep for quite a while.
Kurotan’s complexion was as pale as a white piece of paper and the sound of his breathing almost sounded like moans of the dying.
His legs were spasming, likely from cramping.
Though, Kurotan did not stop running even now.
Luke hurriedly hopped off the horse.
“Hey, Kurotan. You all right?”
Kurotan glanced at Luke with pale, out of focus eyes.
“To-Too hard to keep running. C-Can I stop now?”
“Stop running and walk slowly. It’ll be better in your current state.”
Kurotan stopped running and began walking. Luke walked over to Kurotan with a flask of water, untying the rope from the reins on the horse.
White traces of salt that were formed from a massive amount of dried sweat covered Kurotan’s face.
“Drink only a bit, you’ll get sick if you chug down a lot of water at once.”
Kurotan followed Luke’s advice after refraining himself from pouring the whole flask down his throat.
Kurotan’s face showed signs of recovery after he drank a bit of water.
“Enough. You can sit and rest.”
With Luke’s permission, Kurotan collapsed his ass onto the floor.
“Keuu, the training methods of humans are pretty damn painful as well. I wasn’t aware that running could be this painful when I was an Orc.”
Luke made an apologetic expression at Kurotan’s complaint. If Luke hadn’t fallen asleep, he would have stopped Kurotan from running a long time ago. Judging by the position of the sun, Kurotan had probably been running for two hours.
‘I have to give it to him, he’s got both stubbornness and perseverance.’
Luke clucked his tongue and headed towards the supply bag on the horse’s saddle.
“It’s time for a meal, are you hungry?”
As soon as the words left Luke’s mouth, Kurotan’s stomach rumbled as if to agree.
“All right, just give me a minute.”
Luke had taken out some dried jerky and bread. Kurotan’s eyes shone as soon as he saw the jerky. However, when he reached for it, Luke didn’t give it to him that easily.
“You remember having a stomachache after the last meal?”
“If you don’t want another one, chew well.”
Kurotan took the jerky and followed Luke’s orders to chew thoroughly. After Kurotan had finished a piece of jerky, Luke held out the bread.
“You have to get used to bread from now on. Just bear it and eat.”
Kurotan looked as if he was about to cry as he took the bread. His complexion turned brighter immediately after he took a bite.
“It’s better than I thought. Tastes sweet.”
“Is that so?”
“When I tried bread as an Orc, it tasted disgusting. Why does it taste better now?”
“It’s probably because you are a human now, I guess your sense of taste has changed as well.”
Kurotan finished off the rest of the jerky and bread in the blink of an eye.
Even after he had finished, Kurotan turned to stare at the piece of bread that Luke was eating. Luke smiled and handed him another piece of bread.
“The human body will get sick if you eat too much. I will give you another piece because you trained hard today.”
Luke watched as Kurotan proceeded to take large bites out of the bread and asked.
“Do all Orcs eat as fast as you do?”
“If you don’t eat fast, others will take.”
Luke clucked his tongue in disbelief.
“I’m just warning you now, do not steal food from other people. That is not a humane behavior.”
“Yes, people will definitely swear at you. Call you an Orc-like bastard.”
Kurotan was puzzled.
“What about that is swearing?”
“I suppose that wouldn’t be that insulting from your perspective.”
After they had digested their meal, Luke grabbed his sword and stood up.
“For exercise, I will teach you swordsmanship.”
Kurotan did not seem very enthusiastic.
“I use the axe. I do not wish to hold such a weak weapon in my hand.”
“Listen well. The sword is the foundation of all weapons. With a sword, you can chop, stab, or smash. Axemanship can be considered an extension of swordsmanship.”
Luke pointed at Kurotan’s arms.
“Surely you’ve experienced that your arms can’t bear the weight of a battleaxe?”
“That is true.”
“Then stop complaining and learn the sword from me.”
Luke handed a spare sword to Kurotan, who stood up as well. Luke taught Kurotan a proper grip first.
“Grip the handle tightly. Don’t let go even when the skin of your hand gets ripped from the shock of a clash.”
Luke started teaching Kurotan basic sword skills. Using his own sword, he demonstrated vertical, horizontal, and diagonal slashes as well as stabbing stances, which Kurotan tried to follow.
“The stance is the most important. Only a solid and efficient stance that is ingrained into the body can bring out the true power of swordsmanship.
The swordsmanship Luke was teaching Kurotan was the sword art unique to his House, Esteban swordsmanship.
Although it was forbidden to teach to outsiders, Luke was teaching only the basics that would serve as a foundation of swordsmanship.
Kurotan continued to swing his sword in silence while Luke corrected his stance periodically. Kurotan’s awkward stance continued to improve bit by bit under Luke’s guidance.
“I was wondering, if Orcs passed down weapon arts amongst themselves. A way of handling the axe, for example?”
“We do not have such things.”
Kurotan’s answer surprised Luke.
If this was true, how is it possible to explain the knights who have died in the hands of an Orc? The memory of the axe using Orc warrior Mabal’s overwhelming pressure was still clear in Luke’s mind.
“That is hard to believe. Then Orcs only learn to use their weapons through life and death battles?”
“Yes. Old warriors do sometimes pass on their techniques, but it takes a long time to make the techniques your own. It is faster to find your own techniques.”
Luke felt a chill run up his spine.
If Kurotan’s words were true, an Orc’s talent and affinity for weapons truly surpassed human imagination.
“Should the knights that have died in the hands of Orcs find out about this truth? I wonder how they will react. Would they cry?”
Luke silently praised the humans that had pushed back the Orcs, a race with a genius affinity for weaponry.
Kurotan continued swinging for a long while before breaking off from training to drink some water. Judging by the small sips he was taking, he was able to remember a lesson that he had been taught once.
“Humans have such large differences in their strength. Most humans are weak and fragile, but strong humans are very, very strong.”
“Of course. A drafted farmer and a knight who has been officially trained in the sword are as different as the heaven and earth. Isn’t it the same for Orcs?”
“No. Weak Orcs die, strong Orcs live. The warriors hiding out in the mountain ranges were all similarly skilled.”
“Damn, just hearing that gives me chills. I also feel a little bit of pity for you Orcs…”
Kurotan and Luke continued to converse for a while when Kurotan suddenly lamented.
“Damn. If only I could make use of Maal’s blessing…”
“Maal’s blessing? What is that?”
“You don’t know? There are quite a few who use it even amongst humans… Of course, the blessings are probably not from Maal.”
Luke let the puzzlement show on his face.
“What does the blessing do?”
“If you fight and fight, Mother Nature’s Mana changes into Maal’s blessing. If you are blessed by Maal, you can see better, and feel better. If you pass these stages, your strength increases as well.”
Luke couldn’t help but shiver once again.
“Could it be that Maal’s blessing refers to Aura?”
Aura. Only experienced knights were able to turn mana into Aura. Aura heightened the senses, and also let the user surpass his body’s limits at high levels. Kurotan glanced at Luke.
“As I said, there are quite a few amongst humans that use the blessing. Even you, although your level is a bit basic.”
Luke couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief.
“Maal’s blessing does refer to Aura. I can’t believe it.”
The fact that the simple race of Orcs could use Aura came across as a surprising fact to Luke.
“I thought Aura was unique to the humans?”
“It seems you humans refer to Maal’s blessing as Aura. Anyways, once you can use Maal’s blessing, your strength increases explosively.”
Kurotan gripped his fists tightly.
“Even amongst the valiant Orc warriors, only a small number are blessed by Maal. I as well only gained my strength after receiving Maal’s blessing.”
“As it should be. Only the most talented of humans can awaken themselves to Aura. I understand now. It’s no wonder that High Knights can also die at the hands of Orcs. Orcs can also use Aura.”
Those that had awakened to Aura could be divided into three levels. Those in the first level could feel their Aura, albeit through a blurred sense, and use it crudely.
After passing this first step, the next level one was called Aura User, and could use Aura to sharpen their senses. This was the level that Luke was at, but he was not a particularly accomplished Aura User.
Those that could control their Aura a bit more fluently and use it to increase their physical capabilities were called Aura Experts.
Most Knights famous throughout the land had reached the level of Aura Experts. There were most likely differences in their levels, but Aura Experts could increase their explosiveness and strength by many times by controlling their Aura.
The next level involved being able to completely control Aura and sending it outside of the body, the level of a Master. Masters had completely broken past the limits of the human body and were called superhuman. Their ability to expel Aura from their bodies and control it was especially frightening. Pouring Aura into a blade created Aura blades that could cut through anything. Pouring Aura into an armor created an impenetrable defense. The soldiers and knights that had reached the level of Aura Master were treated as top secret weapons of the kingdom and were strictly veiled in secrecy. Since Aura Masters could also be thought of as a legion unto themselves, they were treated extravagantly well by their kingdoms.
Luke said with a faraway look on his face.
“I have heard that our Hansel Kingdom rewards every new Aura Master with the title of an Earl and a fitting territory. The King also marries them to a royal princess and takes them in as members of the royal family.”
“Aura Master? What is that?”
Luke snapped out of his thoughts and looked at Kurotan.
“To what level have you trained your Aura, no, Maal’s blessing?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You said you got stronger by using Maal’s blessing? Did you use it to sharpen your senses? Or amplify your physical capabilities as well?”
Kurotan puffed out his chest and answered.
“With Maal’s blessing, my strength and explosiveness increased many times over.”
Luke once again was wrapped up in shock. Kurotan had achieved the level of an Aura Expert as an Orc.
“That’s impossible! You were an Aura Expert?”
“I have met a few humans at the same level as me. They all died at my hands.”