Chapter 179 – Misanthropy(1)
The person who won the masturbation contest was none other than our mercenary captain, Jacquerie. He managed to finish within 15 seconds. No one could possibly beat his vigor. The title of <Fastest Male in the World> was bestowed upon Jacquerie. What an honor.
The next day, the Baronet’s face remained serious even as we left the village. Once his people noticed their lord was quiet, they did their best to lighten up the mood. They came all the way to their village entrance in order to give us a grand farewell.
Four days had passed since we resumed our nights on the Empire Road again.
“Your Highness, he isn’t like your average boy.”
Jacquerie’s voice was filled with excitement and his face was red.
“Who are you referring to?”
“I am talking about the boy Your Highness left in my care. I swear on the Goddess that I have never met such a talented individual. You teach him one thing, and he learns ten. Teach him ten things, and he learns a hundred. That boy was undoubtedly born to become a fighter!”
For someone who would always act stern, Jacquerie was getting all worked up.
I gave him a small smile.
“Hm. Is he that impressive?”
“Yes. It would not be enough to simply call him a genius. He is like a mercenary who had once mastered swordsmanship learning to hold a sword again after not doing so for a long time……. It is like he is remembering the things he once knew how to do in the past. In any case, his skills are astounding.”
I handed the task of educating Luke to the mercenaries.
The mercenaries reacted halfheartedly at first. I had basically brought a boy who looked like a beggar and was supposedly the survivor of a slash-and-burn village and told them to teach him swordsmanship. They didn’t understand why I would give them such a task nor did they feel the motivation to carry it out.
“Swordsmanship isn’t something you become accustomed to after a single night.”
“I am not sure what Your Highness’ intentions are, but we will do it since you are telling us to.”
That was their general mood back then.
They were already feeling tired since the mercenaries would stand at guard at the front. There was no way to know when or where bandits might attack us. They were suddenly also given the task to teach a child, so even if they didn’t complain to me openly, this must’ve felt incredibly bothersome to them.
The first day.
Luke was left with the youngest member of the mercenary brigade. They had basically handed the bothersome luggage to their newest member. They were ordered to do it, so they intended to carry it out, but they didn’t understand the reason. This was their way of complaining to me.
“Hey, kid. Try giving this a swing.”
The youngest dwarf tossed Luke a sword. It was a cheap wooden sword.
Luke tilted his head.
“If you’re a man, then you should know how to protect yourself.”
“Eh, that’s bothersome.”
The dwarf glanced at me. I was watching them out of the corner of my eyes from a fair distance away. The dwarf was really giving off a ‘this is seriously bothersome’ mood.
I drank some grape vinegar diluted in water and gave him a bright smile. Do what I say.
The dwarf let out a sigh.
“It’s more bothersome for me, you brat.”
“Why do we have to do it when it’s bothersome for both me and you? If someone who doesn’t feel like doing something does a bothersome task, then it would just feel even more bothersome.”
“You’ll probably learn this when you grow up, but there’s nothing that isn’t bothersome in the world. Waking up every morning is bothersome as well.”
The dwarf lightly hit Luke’s forehead.
“Let’s say, for example, a wolf or a bandit suddenly attacked you. What would you do?”
There was clear fear in the boy’s face.
“Y-You guys can protect me!”
“Of course we will, but this is a hypothetical. There’s no guarantee that you will truly be safe at all times if we protect you. What if we miss a single wolf? And what if that wolf goes after you of all people? Hm? Are you going to show sympathy for the wolf since he managed to survive the cold winter and offer him a bite of your chest?”
Just thinking about it seemed to terrify him as Luke blocked both his ears. The boy was very expressive with his body gestures. Watching the way he behaved was enough to keep me entertained.
“Brat, you should learn while I’m still in a good mood. Your little sister is bedridden right now, so you should also learn how to protect her while you’re at it.”
“Ugh……you’re right. I have to protect Daisy.”
Luke seemed to finally gain the motivation to learn as he picked up the wooden sword.
Referentially, Luke believes that we are a part of the Emperor’s army. We were patrolling the area and we coincidentally came upon Luke’s village being attacked, so we helped them. Another unit was taking the slash-and-burn villagers to a new village, while our group was put in charge of taking care of Luke since we discovered him late……this was the scenario.
Why would a unit under the Emperor’s direct command wander around these sticks? It was a ridiculous lie.
The 11-year-old Luke seemed happy just to be able to travel together with soldiers.
Should I say that he had an incredibly natural demeanor as a kid? Was it because his little sister, who was younger than him by a year, acted in a mature way that far surpassed her actual age? Luke’s reaction was natural, but it felt weird…….
‘Well, it’d be terrifying in its own way if there were two Daisys.’
Daisy grit her teeth and glared at me even as her flesh was torn open and her heart was engraved on. One child like this was more than enough in the world.
Luke swung the wooden sword sloppily. He was clearly swinging a sword for the first time in his life.
“I-Is it like this?”
“Yeah. From top to bottom. That’s right, like that. Spread your feet apart. Good.”
“Yeah. You’re doing good. Now try doing a hundred swings like that.”
The dwarf’s tone was overflowing with laziness.
He would make Luke practice his swings every time we stopped to take a break. It was a simple movement that only made him move his sword up and down, and even a layman would know that this was the most fundamental of fundamentals.
Well, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. It should be fine to let them proceed at this pace.
I stopped paying attention to them and discussed with Jacquerie about our destination.
* * *
The sun was bright on the second day.
I had the privilege of sleeping in the carriage. The carriage had a powerful enchantment on it, so it should be more than enough to defend against attackers in the rare chance they were to appear. I wanted to rest with the soldiers, but both Jacquerie and Jeremi asked for my consideration since this was a matter of escorting me.
I wasn’t the only one in the carriage as Daisy was also with me. However, she had yet to open her eyes even once ever since the surgery ended. Even now, she was laying in a corner of the carriage like a corpse. According to Jeremi, she was going to require at least two more days before waking up.
My traveling companions had already finished making breakfast by the time I came out of the carriage. They had made soup on top of a campfire. They had cooked a proper meal with flour and butter. This would be considered a luxury for beggars.
“You’re cooking tomorrow, understood?”
“Fine, fine. You’re taking quite the stance after creating a simple soup.”
Jacquerie and Jeremi ate their meals while growling at each other. The two leading members of our group were even bickering about something like who was going to make the meals. It seems that the mercenaries were in charge of today’s breakfast.
“Sheesh. You nitwits, why are you trying to bite each other over something as simple as putting water into a pot and boiling it?”
Both Jacquerie and Jeremi turned to look at me at the same time once I reprimanded them. They both had serious looks on their faces. Both Jacquerie who naturally has a crude-looking face, and Jeremi whose face was half-burned, so they were a bit scary.
“My apologies, Your Highness, but this is a matter between dwarves and elves.”
“That is correct. The history of the division 3,000 years ago is at stake here.”
History of the division 3,000 years ago my ass. Have they gone insane?
I partially gave up on trying to reconcile the mercenary brigade and the assassins. I can only hope that they won’t be hostile to one another when a battle does occur.
Someone approached us while we were eating out soup in one place.
“Uhm, Your Highness. My apologies…….”
It was the youngest dwarf.
He was fairly withdrawn as if he felt genuinely sorry to disturb us. It was understandable since he was interrupting a Demon Lord’s breakfast. Jacquerie glared at the youngest dwarf with a ‘is this guy crazy?’ kind of look.
“Rekan, are you deranged? Since when has my unit lost all their sense of courtesy?”
“I-I’m sorry, Captain. But I believed that I should report this as soon as possible…….”
I raised a hand and stopped Jacquerie.
“Let us hear what he has to say first. What is the matter?”
“It is about the human child you left in our care, Your Highness…….”
The young man spoke hesitantly.
“Uhm, this humble one can no longer take care of him.”
“Are you serious?”
Jacquerie’s voice grew louder instantly.
“Even if they are private lessons, His Highness is the one who gave this order. Are you not afraid of death, Rekan?”
“Captain, that is not what I mean…….”
“This is a dance of questions and answers. It seems you have become placid after His Highness treated you kindly all this time. For the crime of being discourteous to the king despite being born a demon and going against military discipline as a soldier, I will take your neck as repentance for your crimes.”
Jacquerie grabbed his axe and stood up. What a pain.
“Ah, ah. Wait a moment, Captain Jacquerie. Crimes are everlasting, so you can bring down punishment upon him at any time. Let us listen to why Rekan believes this.”
“……If Your Highness says so.”
Jacquerie frowned as he took a step back.
Jacquerie, the young dwarf, and I know that this was all an act. All of the mercenaries here were professionals. If it weren’t for something important, then he wouldn’t have tried to give a report while also interfering with our meals. Jacquerie was simply making a scene as a way to maintain strict regulations.
“Now then, Rekan, speak. Why are you saying that you cannot take care of Luke?”
“Thank you for generosity, Your Highness. I will keep it short and simple. That child is far beyond me.”
“Far beyond you?”
The young dwarf nodded.
“Yes. At first, I thought he had a lot of stamina because he was raised on a mountainside. I also figured he had a good head on his shoulders despite being a kid. However, I gradually became more and more certain and came to a conclusion after watching over him late into the night.”
“What did you conclude?”
“Your Highness, that boy is a genius.”
The young dwarf looked awkward as he said that.
“These sort of people appear very rarely. People who were born for the sole sake of holding a sword. This boy is a prime example of this. I only taught him how to swing down and swing down at an angle, but he has already figured out how to balance his legs, chest, head, and arms.”
Jacquerie frowned. This wasn’t an act this time. He was genuinely taken aback by the young dwarf’s statement.
“What are you saying, Rekan? You aren’t lying because you don’t want to do something bothersome, right?”
“Jeez, Sir Jacquerie. Even if I did go insane, why would I do something like that?”
The young dwarf got frustrated and changed his tone.
“If you want, then you can try teaching him yourself. I was also uncertain about it before, so I tried testing things out all night.”
“Balancing oneself is not something that can be done with talent alone. It is something you gain naturally by practicing and training numerous times. How could a mere human child…….”
“Ah, that’s why I pretended to be insane to report this to His Highness. Even I don’t want to interfere with His Highness’ breakfast. The others are already glaring daggers at me over there.”
I glanced behind the young dwarf and the other mercenaries gathered at the clearing were all looking this way. The fact that none of them was uttering a word made it seem like they intended to beat up the youngest once he returned.
The young dwarf shook his head and let out a sigh.
“Honestly, this was a downplayed report as well. From what I can tell, that brat……I think he’s circulating mana throughout his body through his breathing.”
Jacquerie’s voice went a note higher.
TL Note: Thanks for reading the chapter. Luke seems like quite the generic MC of a story. Thank God he isn’t the main character of this story :^). There really isn’t much else to comment about in this chapter. I just want to see more of Jeremi and Daisy at this point. Let’s hope we get to see more interactions with them soon.