Chapter 19 - Warriors Qualifications (3)

Chapter 19 - Warrior’s Qualifications (3)


Lenox looked at the two orcs in front of him.

"Now you look better.”

Ian laughed. He met Hoyt, learned what being an orc warrior meant, and grew as he fought against Derek. Grom also straightened his shoulders. He had defeated the goblins along with 10 orc warriors. He experienced what a true warrior’s battle was. He wasn’t the old Grom any longer.

Lenox asked, "Are you satisfied?”

Ian and Grom both shook their heads.

“I’m not satisfied!”

“I’m not satisfied!”

Lenox nodded.

“Yes. Don’t be satisfied.”

It had been a while, but Lenox hadn’t changed. When Ian returned to Orcrox Fortress, the first thing he saw was Lenox grabbing the neck of an orc and lifting him.

“You are tired! You fell! You are now dead! If you were in the battlefield, then your neck would be pierced right now! Your urine would be soaking the ground!”

"I would kill myself before being shamed like that!”

The orc really freaked out as Lenox raised his axe. Looking at that sight, Ian had felt like he had returned home for some reason.

"There’s something you need to know before becoming a warrior.

Lenox touched his chin. He seemed to be troubled. It was the first time they had seen him hesitate.

"It might be a little bit...”

Ian and Grom gulped.

What would make Instructor Lenox hesitate? Lenox eventually nodded.

"I'm going to believe in you."

Belief. It was Lenox, not anyone else, who said that he believed in them. His chest became hot, a serious expression appearing on Ian’s face.

Lenox turned around. Ian and Grom followed him. They entered the Hall of Fame.

The sound of their footsteps echoed off the stone walls. They passed by the statues of the great warriors. The torch lit up a dark tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a large stone room.

A single monument stood there. It was large enough that they had to look up to see the head. An ancient orc was carved on the monument. Ian couldn’t understand what it meant. Lenox stared at it for a while. The torch scattered dark shadows over his face.

“Honor.”

Lenox whispered. His voice rang through the stone chamber.

"The laws of a warrior.”

"Proof."

It was an unknown story. Lenox read the ancient orc words carved into the monument. His gaze moved from the beginning to the end of the monument.

Lenox turned around. His face was more solemn than they had ever seen it.

Then he said, "I don't like long explanations.”

“Yes.”

“Listen carefully.”

Lenox closed his eyes opened his mouth. Lenox’s voice was softer than ever, but it sounded more vivid than Ian had ever heard it. It imprinted on him like a dream in an unforgettable manner.

"...God, please acknowledge me.”

Ian never heard orcs talking about the gods. Now Lenox was whispering to God for the first time.

"...Let us always hope that our honor won’t be lonely.”

"...Let our weapons never decay.”

"Listen to our oath, for we have established seven laws for you and the warrior descendants.”

“God.”

“......”

“I.”

Lenox’s voice stopped. He opened his eyes. An intense light shone towards Ian and Grom. It felt like they couldn’t breathe, and that their bodies were paralyzed. Then Lenox’s voice rang not in their ears, but in their heads and in their spirits.

“I.”

“I am an orc, a warrior.”

"A warrior doesn’t forsake faith.”

"A warrior doesn’t persecute the weak.”

"A warrior doesn’t attack unarmed people.”

"A warrior doesn’t yield to injustice.”

"A warrior doesn’t shame the gods.”

"A warrior pays back any favors or vengeance.”

"A warrior protects the powerless.”

"I swear to the gods, I will abide by these laws as a warrior.”

Lenox lifted his axe. He looked up at it like it was a sacred object of trust and concluded his oath.

"Prove your honor.”

His voice stopped. Ian and Grom looked at Lenox blankly.

Lenox smiled. He wielded his axe. The blow was invisible, like a gust of air.

"......!"

Ian and Grom’s chests were torn apart. They couldn’t even recognize the attack, let alone react to it.

Blood flowed down. The skin he cut burned like it was on fire. The wound would become a scar. It would never go away.

Lenox laughed quietly.

"It means to remember this clearly.”

***

Ian and Grom sat facing each other in a pub.

They each had their own income from their respective missions. Ian received the quest reward from Stella, as well as from Thompson. In the case of Grom, he picked up the goblins’ equipment and sold them to the blacksmith.

The orc’s beer, which was as strong as poison, entered their mouths.

"It’s good to drink this.”

"Kuoh..."

Grom just drank quietly. He wasn’t usually like this.

“What happened?”

“Nothing, just...”

Grom chewed on the jerky.

"I’m absent-minded because of what happened. Orcs are more than what I thought them to be...what the hell... They seem to have depth.”

Ian nodded.

The laws of a warrior It was tough to imagine as he thought about the rough orcs. Rather, it resembled the chivalry of medieval knights. Even Lenox’s attitude was solemn as he recited the pledge. Ian could still hear that voice in his ears.

Ian smiled and said, “Don’t you think that orcs are great?”

Grom shrugged.

"Well, I experienced things I never would’ve done if I had picked a different species. It’s hard.”

"That doesn’t sound positive.”

"In fact, I didn’t start as an orc because I really wanted to be one...”

Grom hesitated. Ian nodded.

“It’s possible. But if you work hard, then you will succeed someday. I might’ve been quiet if it weren’t for you, Grom.”

"Hahaha. I don’t think so.”

"Don’t be sad and let’s try it out...”

"Sad...”

Grom repeated his words.

Then he drank a lot of alcohol. Ian also drank from his cup. The two of them gulped down copious amounts of beer.

"Kuoh...!"

“Okay!”

Another orc sat down at their circular table, placing himself between Grom and Ian. Grom knew this face.

“Warrior?”

“You're alive! My name is Gulda. Apprentice! Kuhahal!”

He bumped shoulders with Grom. It was one of the 10 warriors who defeated with goblins with Grom, the warrior Gulda.

Gulda looked at Ian.

“Are you also an apprentice?”

“Yes.”

“Kulkulkul! I see. I can’t help thinking of my own apprenticeship when I see you.”

"Did Gulda learn from Lenox?”

"Of course!”

"Were you scared then?”

“Of course! Anyone would be scared of Lenox! Kuhahal!”

They laughed at the same time.

“But keep this in mind apprentices! Instructor Lenox is a scary mentor, but he is also a great warrior! You should be honored to receive his teachings!”

He stood up and shouted as he raised his beer glass.

"For the great warrior, Lenox! Bul’tar──────!”

All the orcs drinking in the pub shouted after him.

“Bul’tarrr──────!”

“Bul’tar──────!”

The orcs downed their cups in one shot.

An orc at the beer tap noticed the atmosphere and drank once again. Ian and Grom were swept away by the ambience and drank their beers a few times. The orcs started to sing. Even though the lyrics were odd, Ian and Grom clumsily sang along.

“We are orcs! The mighty orcs! You’ll be in trouble if you mess with us! The great warriors have appeared, make way! Humans, get lost! Elves, get lost! Dwarves, get lost! Gnomes, get lost! Pretty women? Warriors have no need for a woman. Get lost! We are great orcs, great warriors!”

The oddest song lyrics! The female orcs changed the gender as they sang along. 

Gulda, who was drunk on the atmosphere, stretched out and placed an arm around both Ian and Grom.

“Kuhahahal! Now what was the mission that you received?”

In an instant, the pub became loud, forcing Ian to raise his voice.

"This is the mission that Instructor Lenox gave!”

Lenox had given them another mission after teaching them the laws of a warrior. That mission was the hardest one that they had received from Lenox.

"Work as a warrior!”

After telling them the warrior’s oath, Lenox had given them the task of returning after working as a warrior. It was up to each person to decide what to do. Ian and Grom didn’t know what to do.

“Ohhh...!”

Gulda had a complex expression on his face. Then he hit both of them on the back.

"Keuk!”

"Ouch!"

"Congratulations to you! Orc apprentices! Very fast! Kuhahahal!”

Gulda laughed loudly.

"What are you talking about?"

“This is the last gateway to becoming a warrior!”

Ian met Grom’s eyes.

"Really?!"

“Yes! You received this mission very quickly! It seems like Instructor Lenox appreciates you a lot!”

They couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable to Ian and Grom that Lenox appreciated them, since he never praised them and always yelled at them. But Gulda seemed sure of it.

“Apprentices, here’s to becoming warriors! Kuhahahal!”

He celebrated with another shot of beer. Grom asked him, "Then, what is the work of a warrior?”

"I don't know!"

"You don't know?!"

“Apprentice! All warriors have their own honor! You’ll need to find your own answers!”

It was like preparing for a job interview, only to find out that it was a personality interview after arriving. It wasn’t a simple quest where they followed instructions.

Grom asked him.

"What work did Gulda do to become a warrior?”

"Me?”

Gulda’s eyes became distant.

“I did a tremendous task to become a warrior!”

“Ohh! What is it?”

"I used my halberd against Lenox!”

"......!"

Ian and Grom’s mouths dropped open.

“Warriors need to be strong! I challenged Lenox to prove my strength!”

“What happened?”

"I can’t remember after swinging my halberd! Kuhahahal!”

“......”

"I was unconscious for a week! Since then, I can’t count numbers and sometimes my hands tremble, but it’s okay! Because I am a warrior!”

Ian and Grom felt more lost. The two exchanged glances.

They would forget about the mission and just enjoy the rest of the day. Yes. Ian, Grom, and Gulda. The trio swallowed their beer at the same time.

“Bul’tar!”


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