Chapter 149: Reunion
“I wish to become a Knight. Even if I am just a wild Knight without a family coat of arms, even if I serve as a squire for others for life, even if I am unable to become an official Knight for my entire life, it will be fine as long as I can become a Knight.”
For Cohen Asta, becoming a true Knight had always been his wish.
However, it was unfortunate that he wasn’t a child of nobility, so it was impossible for him to be sent to an elite Knight to learn under him as a squire. He also wasn’t a talented warrior who would send teachers into a frenzy fighting over him. He was just an ordinary farmer’s child. Needless to say studying at a Knight Academy, he wasn’t even able to read. Thus, he was never able to take the first step in accomplishing his dream.
Thus, he decided to lower his goal and set out to become an ordinary warrior as his goal. However, the result was even more disappointing.
“Regardless of what close-combat class it is, you won’t be able to meet the standards if you don’t even have basic strength. It would be best for you to return.”
Unable to even carry the sandbags used for training; unable to carry the wooden spear; exhausted after swinging the wooden sword a few times; it was no wonder that no one was willing to accept him.
His physique still remained his fatal flaw among his fellow peers. Even though his conspicuous golden hair and exquisite features made him a popular figure among the young, his weak limbs still made him unsure of himself.
Little Cohen felt despair at the fact that even ordinary militias were unwilling to accept him. Even so, he didn’t plan to give up.
“Since I lack talent, I will make up for it with hard work.”
Thus, Cohen’s neighbors would always see him awake early in the morning, running by the river and carrying sandbags.
Every day, after he finished his daily duties, he headed to the various stores to help others move their goods. Part of the reason was to earn money, but more than that, he hoped to train himself through such a method to build up his strength.
Even though training was extremely tiring, it was effective. At the very least, his pale limbs became slightly more muscular and tanned. Going by the words of the neighbor Big Sister Lisa, he finally looked masculine.
However, his changes were more like evolving from a hamster into a squirrel, fighting prowess increasing from five to six and not panting the moment he started running. However, what he was unable to carry before, he was still unable to carry. For the time being, it was still impossible for him to swing metal swords.
Thus, even though he felt self-satisfaction at his improvement, he was still eliminated from the first round of the selection process for the divisions. After all, the East Mist wasn’t wealthy and it couldn’t afford to sustain a large army while the civilians were extremely passionate about joining the army. As such, the registration numbers far surpassed the required personnel in the divisions and this caused the standards to be heightened. Cohen had been too far from the starting line from the very start, and it was impossible for him to become a warrior at all.
Even so, he was unwilling to give up. As long as he worked hard to train himself up, the accumulation of his hard work would soon result in a qualitative change for him.
However, it was a pity that what awaited him was a series of failure.
“It is impossible for you to become a Knight, give up. No, I’m not talking about your birthright. The Mist Country has always operated by meritocracy and there are quite a few farmers who became Knights and fief lords. I am speaking about your abilities. if you’re unable to even wield a two-handed sword, how can you get on the battlefield? Since you aren’t even able to get on the battlefield, how can you be titled a Knight?”
A Lord Knight who was touched by his efforts intended to accept him as his page, but after conducting some tests, he gave up on the idea.
“Aiyo, isn’t this our future Lord Knight? Hehe, nice to meet you, Lord. Lord, have you just returned from your patrol? Did you achieve anything? Did you defeat a Demon or a Beastman? Or did you just triumph over an evil dragon? Ah, how incredible, Cohen. He is our future Dragon Slaying Hero. Hahaha!”
While his usual physical training had received the approval of a few, there were also a few youngsters who found him an eyesore and took this opportunity to mock him.
Even so, he persisted. At this point, he probably could no longer remember why he chose to embark on this thorny path from the very start.
Was it because he was saved by a group of Knights when he was attacked by wild beasts when he was younger? Or was he moved by the stories of his ancestors which he had heard since his childhood? Was it when he saw the victorious homecoming march of the Knights? Or was it when he swore to use his both hands to protect his family and friends?
There was no path of return, and he did not intend to back out either. Thus, he could only continue persisting….
“Trust yourself, you can do it. I was also extremely thin and weak when I was younger, but look at how far I came. Right, Prince Roland seems to be intending to create a division. Do you want to give it a try?”
There were a few who bore expectations from him. Every time Big Brother Cloone returned and saw how hard Cohen worked, he would try to encourage him.
Right, to Cohen and the others, Cloone, who came from the same village as them, was an impressive figure. He was the pride and hope of Darr Village. Even though he was young, he was already serving as a part of the Royal Knights. Even though he wasn’t an official Knight yet, in the eyes of the villagers, it was just a matter of time.
It was only that he had recently adopted a cute little girl called Ailee. Despite his tough life, he had somehow just become an unwedded father. This made many young girls cry.
Under Big Brother Cloone’s encouragement, Cohen was even more motivated and worked even harder. However, what came his way was just failure after failure.
Until one day when he met a black cat. A black cat that, bizarrely, was capable of speaking the human language. There, he met the turning point of his life.
“Meow, I’ve found a treasure. To think that he would be an Elemental Son! Sign a contract with me and become a magical girl… magical boy!”
Cohen was first taken aback. Initially, he thought that it was just a joke from one of the spellcasters. In the end, under the verification of Big Brother Cloone, he realized that this black cat was actually an incredible figure. She was the beloved pet of Prince Roland, a cat who was capable of casting magic.
She actually said that he had outstanding talents in magic and she wanted to groom him to become a Mage. Without a doubt, that was an occupation that held even greater potential than a Knight and logically speaking, he should have leapt at the opportunity.
“Lord, I thank you for your appreciation. However, my goal is to become a Knight. Perhaps, the route of a spellcaster just isn’t one for me.”
Alright, a bizarre expression immediately appeared on the black cat’s face. That look of incomprehension and shock made Cohen worry if he had accidentally offended her.
After a brief moment of silence, that black cat continued speaking.
“Alright, if you want to be a Knight, so be it. Let me introduce you to someone. He will hoodwink… guide you. From the perspective of a Knight, he should be an incredible figure. Yeah, even though he is a complete idiot when it comes to magic. However, I think that he should be a suitable teacher for you.”
“Roland, I found your brother.”
When I heard those words, I was taken aback. Isn’t my brother, Karwenz, still in the Chaos Abyss? How could this darned cat meet him?
“You possess incredible swordsmanship talent, and you are obviously a godsent Warrior. Yet, you chose to become a Mage. On the other hand, he, as the Elemental Son, a person born with incredible talents in magic, chose to become an iron can (Knight). Given how awkward you two are, what else can you two be other than brothers?”
Alright, that darned cat sure didn’t mince her words. Naturally, I took good care of her for that.
However, I had confidence in her choice of people. Thus, my interest toward this little friend known as Cohen was piqued and I arranged for a meeting with him.
“Pri… Prince Roland! Lord Harloys said that you can make me a Knight…”
That fellow was so agitated that he kept trembling before me. Stuttering, he accidentally bit his tongue. Through the System Interface, my interest in him deepened.
【Cohen Asta Class: NoneStrength: 5Agility: 7Stamina: 7Intelligence: 14Will: 11Charm: 10Race Talent: Elemental SonSystem Evaluation: For a person with such terrible strength and talent for magic to refuse to become a Mage and insisting on becoming a Knight instead, he is truly your brother.】
【Race Talent Elemental Son: Do you find the lengthy incantations hard to remember? The complicated magic formulas hard to comprehend? This isn’t a problem for the Elemental Son. They are born with the ability to manipulate elements and their commands can be used to replace the ineffective magic incantations. They are the favored ones of the world, the illegitimate son of Magic and Elements, destined to be a great Mage.】
Soon, after some interaction, I roughly understood what was going on.
It was no wonder that Harloys said that he was my brother. He wanted to become a melee fighter when he only possessed 5 Strength. His talent as a Mage had hindered his path as a Knight; it was truly rare to see a person with such an awkward personality.
After a short moment of interacting with him, I started to grow fond of this slightly shy boy. After all, these days, more and more youngsters were more obsessed with “making a fortune,” and the number of “idiots” who persisted for their dreams was lessening. Those who persisted despite seeing no rewards on sight was even rarer.
In a certain sense, I am the same awkward “obstinate buffalo” as he is. Thus, I accepted him in as my third page.
“Cough, since that’s the case, I’ll teach some of the necessary lessons for a Knight. First, you have to learn how to connect with the world and control your magic power…. This isn’t a necessary lesson for a Knight, but a lesson for a Mage? Young man, there’s no need to be so anxious. You have to remain humble and learn patiently. Have you never heard of Mage Knight? This is a necessary lesson for an outstanding Knight. Ordinary Knights wouldn’t even get an opportunity to learn such advanced lessons. Right, I have a few close combat classes that are suitable for you. Do you want to give them a try?”
Putting aside how I managed to guide (hoodwink) this young man afterwards, I am quite contented with the decision I made. After all, given how unqualified the other two pages of mine were, this young man was truly of great help.
Even though the help he had provided me was on another aspect...
“Big Brother Roland, I have accidentally overcooked the meat. It is a little charred, but my intuition tells me that it will be delicious. Why don’t you give it a try? Perhaps this might turn out to be a new taste that is to your liking.”
No, it was impossible for it to be delicious. After all, one side was charred while the other side was raw. It was a problem of whether it was safe for me to eat it. Besides, your intuition had never been accurate.
“That’s weird. I had strictly followed the proportions using the Alchemic recipe. Ten grams of salt, one gram of sugar, so how could it taste that bad…. Ah, I missed that decimal point and added ten times more salt (Ah, I mixed up sugar and salt as well)... Why don’t you just make do with it?”
Should I say, as expected of an Alchemist? To think that you would actually bring the entire Alchemy set for outdoor camping. The lunch you made bore the scent of chemistry with it. But how was it that the product you made would be so fearsome? What is with that oily green substance? Are you sure that I can make do with it? How about you try it for yourself before passing it to me? I finally understand how you managed to remain a third-rate Alchemist even after so many years. Can’t you just happen to get it right for once?
Typically speaking, a Knight’s page was the personal assistant of the Knight. Going by the traditions, a page was responsible for the logistics their master required. If the master was unhappy with their work, regardless of how powerful that page was, he was unlikely to ever become an official Knight.
Before becoming a Knight, they were in a teacher-apprentice relationship, as well as a master-servant relationship. Some of them even regarded it as a father-son relationship. However, it was clear that the two pages I had chosen beforehand weren’t really reliable. Most of the time, it was me, the master, who was taking care of them. Their passion toward their training was also unseemly.
As a princess, Reyne had totally no concept of outdoor survival. On the other hand, Kathleen was born from a prestigious family of Knights. Even though her family had fallen from grace, it was understandable why she was lacking practical skills.
If not for Cohen producing some edible meat stew, I, who was already tired from the long journey, would have to make some food myself. It was truly a wonder who the servant was now.
Based on the predetermined grouping, I should have been a single group with my three pages. However, Reyne said that she had already reached Gold-rank, and with the Roland Sacred Sword in her hands, she could stand on her own and deal with the enemies by herself, no longer requiring my guidance.
Fine, I’ll accept that. After all, it was impossible for one to grow without experiencing practical fights. I’ll let you try it for yourself then. In fact, afraid that you might have insufficient manpower, I sent my other two pages to follow you, so show me some results.
However, one’s power rank did not represent one’s actual fighting power. In terms of actual power, a tenacious Bronze-rank was able to frighten this Gold-rank, who had yet to see blood. On the battlefield, a moment’s hesitation could easily mean death.
In the end, it went exactly as I expected. If not for the Blood Tribe Assassin I sent interjecting at a timely moment, this East Mist princess might have to consider converting into an Undead.
“Lass, it’s still too early for you to leave my apprenticeship.”
Thus, we converged together and operated as a team afterwards. With the assistance of my pages, I felt even more fatigued. Not only did I have to hunt those roaming cavalries, I had to spend time to take care of these rookies. I felt like I was playing the role of a teacher and a parent simultaneously.
Fortunately, the farmer-born lad, Cohen, wielded a certain level of survival skills. He could build temporary shelters and settle some of the daily necessities. In a way, he was truly a great help.
Helpless, I even called out Reyne’s secret bodyguard, Susanna, and had her find a way to teach these rookies some basic outdoor survival skills. At the very least, they should know how to make the basic barbecued meat, meat stew, and such.
After all, it was impossible for one to bring sufficient dry rations for a prolonged wilderness campaign. Meat stew and barbecued meat were two of the most basic dishes, but just depending on these two would cause one to suffer from imbalanced nutrition and this would eventually lower fighting prowess.
As such, mature adventuring teams were often skilled in outdoor survival techniques. The renowned Master of Survival Bear Grylls had once said, “The wilderness is my life. The wilderness is the most natural outdoor food trove. Anything can be eaten once beheaded!”
After completing my hunt, I returned to my camp and caught the whiff of a familiar meat stew. Instantly, my appetite was whetted.
“Hm? How fragrant. There seems to be wild herbs and vegetables as well? Susanna sure did well. You all learned fast, to think that your cooking skills would reach such a level so quickly…”
I was unable to speak further. What entered my vision upon reaching the campsite was a young lady dressed in a maid costume busying about. That was a familiar figure that should have never appeared here.
【Ding! A wandering wild maid has appeared. Thank the maid from saving you from the mysterious mixture hell. Otherwise, what would have been waiting for you would be a mixture created from Reyne and Kathleen’s hard work—Green Slime Cooking! Er, as someone who was aware of the matter beforehand, I...】
Ignoring the nonsense the System came up with, that familiar figure made me feel like I was in a dream.
That familiar bow, that familiar gleam of her spectacles… and that unfamiliar passion and temperature. While I was still in a daze, that wild maid had already given me a hug.
“Welcome back, master. Do you want to bathe first, eat your breakfast first… or eat me?”
Alright, I don’t know whether I can really eat you, but that dagger-like cold glare of yours felt like it was ready to eat me.