Episode 1 Luke’s Retirement
There was an old suit of armor hanging on the armor rack. It was a set of armor that had been weathered away by the wind, and pockmarked with scorched streaks and gouged with scratches.
“That armor accompanied me through every battlefield I fought in.”
A young man in his early twenties set his gaze on the armor, a bitter smile on his face. That suit of armor had been protecting him for the past five years, but now, it would no longer have any use.
“Looks like I’ll have to donate it to the fortress. It is tradition for the troops here after all.”
A young man with dark brown hair and brown eyes, Luke quietly reminisced about the work he had done in the last five years. Five years ago when he was just a seventeen year old rookie, Luke had been assigned to the Portlan Fortress located on the eastern end of the Hansel Kingdom. The armor hanging on the armor rack had been a sparkling and newly-crafted piece by a blacksmith at the time. But after five years, the situation had turned around. Luke had become an experienced officer who had had his fair share of the battlefield, while his armor grew older and shabbier, to the point where it could only be used for training purposes.
“This battlefield that I’m fed up with, is it over now? Once I’m discharged from the rear fortress tomorrow, I will no longer be a soldier.”
Luke recalled the enemies he had fought in the past five years. There were two tribes of orc that had dominated the area, and had been the cause of many headaches to the humans. The garrison at Fort Portlan had been defending against these orcs. In the past, the territory of Hansel Kingdom had been inhabited by large orc tribes. However, the king and the lords behind him had successfully driven off the orcs after a long campaign. The remaining few orcs were driven into a rugged mountain range in the east. But out of the numerous orc tribes, some of which had boasted thousands of members, these surviving remnants had once been the strongest and the best in their respective tribes. The remnant orcs appeared and disappeared in the east and the west, toying with the punitive forces, and eventually raiding various estates. As a result, the Hansel kingdom sent out an overwhelming amount of troops to block off the orcs’ escape routes. The remnant orcs were numbered at around five hundred, while the number of defenders from Portlan were in a defensive line numbering three thousand. Luke frowned after recalling his experiences with dealing with orcs.
“Detestable assholes, only the most tenacious out of the bunch had probably survived.”
In order to stop the orc horde from plundering, the Portlan defenders had maintained their encirclement by sustaining tremendous losses. It was not surprising when supply crews were smashed or smaller scout squads were wiped out. It was even common for orcs to appear beneath the ramparts of the fort and frighten the defenders.
“Anyways, does this mean I won’t see the ugly faces of those damn orcs anymore?”
Luke quietly raised his body. Since he had already received a written confirmation of his discharge, even if he returned to the rear fortress, he would return as a civilian.
“It’s regretful that I have to leave my armor.”
After gazing at the armor with a rueful gaze, Luke left his room. Luke went to the logistics department after leaving his room. All the discharged soldiers usually ride the supply wagon to the rear fortress. But unexpectedly, there was only one wagon in front of the depot. Luke looked at it and frowned.
“There being only one wagon gives off an uneasy feeling, doesn’t it?”
If there is one carriage, there’ll only be around four guards. If you consider the fact that they had to pass roads that were frequently camped by orcs, their manpower was severely lacking.
“Apart from me, are there no other officers or soldiers?”
He couldn’t hide his anxiety, but Luke had no choice but to show his face. Since a contingent of around three thousand soldiers had entered the fortress just yesterday, the orcs would not act rashly. Luke had a disappointed look on his face once the carriage door opened. There was only one soldier in the carriage. It was a rough looking man with broad shoulders who seemed to be about thirty years old who had a boorish look to him.
‘What shit luck, there’s only one other soldier being discharged.’
Luke shook his head and got on the carriage. Although he felt uneasy, there was nothing he could do about it since the fort was getting ready to launch a major offensive against the orc remnants tomorrow morning. With the combined forces of the three thousand strong royal regiment and the existing fort soldiers, it was planned to subjugate the remnant orc forces.
‘It’ll become much more hectic, so it’s better to just leave now.’
Luke quietly shut the wagon door. Now, once he arrives with the coachman and the guard, he’ll say goodbye to the Fort Portlan that he had dedicated his body to for the past five years. The soldier who had already been sitting in the carriage glanced over at Luke with squinted eyes. Because he was not wearing a uniform, the soldier misidentified Luke as a general soldier.
“We’re both discharged soldiers together, nice to meet you. Let’s exchange names. I’m Hal, and I was a member of the Wolf’s Fang squadron. I come from Harvest city.”
Hearing the words ‘wolf’s fang’, Luke frowned. The ‘Wolf’s Fang’ squadron is a ‘punishment’ squad, and is a unit made up of prisoners who are forced to serve. Although the mortality rate was very high because the squad was placed in the most dangerous places, the squad itself was relatively powerful because they were all essentially prisoners. Seeing as how Luke did not answer, his eyes twitched.
‘Is this kid ignoring me? His face looks clean, is he probably someone who is running away?’
As if to demonstrate, the soldier cracked his neck and unfastened his top.
“Why is it so hot? Is it that the heat of the battlefield still lingers?”
In the opening where he had unfastened his top, a terrible looking scar was visible. There were staggered stabs and cuts littering his upper body. When Luke glanced at him, a triumphant expression formed on the soldier’s face.
“He looks like an orc I met and killed on the battlefield. Most of the Wolf’s Fang soldiers sport similar wounds as a sort of decoration.”
A cold smile formed on Luke’s face.
“You must have been quite bored.”
“What, what did you say?”
“Looks like a bunch of small knife wounds. Did you do it moderately? How come there isn’t a single area intact?”
“What the fuck did you say? This little shit?”
Frowning, the soldier suddenly rose from his seat.
“I don’t know what you think you’re seeing, but this wound is from fighting an orc…….”
“Are you kidding me? Do you know what a wound from an orc’s weapon looks like?’
Luke lifted his sleeves. The scars on his forearms looked as though earthworms had crawled through his skin. Although he only had one, the appearance of the scar was completely different than the ones Hal had on his upper body. When he saw Luke’s scar, Hal winced and retreated.
“Injuries as a result of fighting an orc are usually like this. Do you know why?”
“An orc’s weapon is coated in rotten black blood. Those simple-minded buffoons don’t know how to sharpen and repair their weapons, right.”
As though he had heard that before, Hal nodded his head.
“If you get struck by an orc’s weapon, you have to immediately cauterize the wound with a heated iron. That way you won’t get infected.”
Luke lifted his forearm to Hal’s nose. The wound itself was not very deep, but it was very ugly because it had been burned by heated iron.
Luke gazed at Hal who had become like an idiot who had eaten honey, and lowered his arm. [TN: “An idiot who ate honey” is the equivalent of “Cat got your tongue” ie. speechless.]
“I’m Luke, a centurion. I’m being discharged after five years of service.” [TN: Luke says I am “백인장 Luke”, so it’s either a title or the name of his squad. The problem I have is that I don’t know what 백인장 means. It could be anything from caucasian man, white chapter, white pages, one hundred seals, and some other words. White Chapter makes the most sense, although one hundred seals sounds the coolest. I’ve changed it to centurion.]
After hearing Luke’s introduction, Hal immediately stood at attention. He was an officer in command of a hundred soldiers if he was a centurion.
“I, I was very rude sir. My apologies sir, I did not know that you were an officer.”
“It’s fine, I wasn’t wearing a uniform. But how long did you serve for?”
“On, one year and six months, sir.”
When he learned that Luke was an officer who had served for five years, Hal immediately turned his tail towards him. Although Luke had a baby face and delicate looking, he was not an opponent that Hal could surmount.
‘Damn it, my face is smooth since I always wear a helmet when I fight, so I don’t have a single injury on my face.’
The carriage was caught up in an awkward atmosphere. After a little while, four more wagons and guards arrived.
“You’ve been waiting for a long time.”
After confirming the discharge orders for the two soldiers, the coachmen immediately set out.
The gates opened, and the wagons drove through the darkness. The horses were moving very fast.
The guards say on the on the roof of the wagon, and the two inside were left in an awkward silence. Bored, Hal was picking his nose before speaking.
“Are you going back to family sir?”
“Would it bother you if I asked what kind of family, sir?”
There was nothing to hide, so Luke replied bluntly.
“Count Esteban of the kingdom’s central region.”
“Wow, you’re a prominent person who listened to a country bumpkin like me. No wonder, whether it was in speech or actions, you gave off an elegant and refined atmosphere…… As expected, a noble is different from other people.”
As Hal continued to praise him, Luke frowned. Looking at Hal’s crafty eyes, it seemed like he was scheming something.
“I’ve heard that the Esteban County is a good place to live. I’ve wanted to visit there at least once.”
Knowing Hal’s intentions, Luke coldly snorted.
“It’s difficult to go back to your hometown because of your crimes, is it not? Sorry, but the residents of Esteban County do not like outsiders. It’s a peculiarity of a historical feudal manor.”
Having hit the mark, Hal broke out into a cold sweat.
“But what crime did you commit that you received your sentence ?”
Troubled, Hal floundered through an explanation.
“Suu, I was drunk and beat a man.”
“I’m sure your crime doesn’t warrant such a degree of punishment, right?”
“Well that’s because after he got beat he died…….”
“Ah, it was murder. It’s regrettable, but the residents of Esteban County will not welcome a murderer. Even though your crime was forgiven through punishment.”
When Luke curtly denied him, Hal’s face turned stiff and shut his mouth. A chilling atmosphere once again filled the interior of the carriage. Luke, who had served on the eastern front and had met many different kinds of people, did not look too much at Hal.
‘He’s the type of guy that constantly inconveniences everyone around him. There’s not a single merit to bringing him to the manor.’
That was the reason why Luke was treating Hal so coldly.
Amidst the jostling of the carriage, the two remained in silence. But it was exactly this silence that Luke preferred. He was reminiscing about his fiancé, Isabelle, whom he hadn’t seen in five years.
‘Wait, Isabelle. In the last five years I’ve only talked to you through letters, but I can finally see you now.’
Having one’s marriage arranged out of convenience to someone whose face you haven’t seen was a widespread custom of the nobility.
However, Luke was not like that. They had met at a noble’s academy, and had fallen in love before Luke finally succeeded in proposing to her. After his hard work, Isabelle’s family finally approved of the marriage, and the two were quickly engaged. Once he returns and weds Isabelle, they will be husband and wife. But Luke’s pleasant train of thought was broken be the sound of the carriage’s horn.
“The road is block, sirs.”
Luke’s complexion abruptly changed. It was a common strategy used by orcs, they would block the road with fallen trees and attack the immobile cavalry and carriage.
“It’s an orc raid, sir. Keuaak.”
Luke’s and Hal’s face contorted at the wailing scream of the man. Of all the days to mount a raid, it had to be the day I was being discharged.
“If I knew it was going to be like this, I would have worn armor…….”
Luke grabbed a sword that had been hanging off a backpack. And of course, the panic-stricken Hal hurriedly wielded his weapon. This soldier who had served for a year and six months showed signs indicating otherwise. Luke ran out the wagon door and looked around carefully.
‘I wonder, how many will there be?’
Measuring the number of bulky silhouettes that appeared in the dark, Luke’s face paled. No matter how you looked at it, the lowest estimate would be around twenty-something orcs that had come out to attack the wagon. Luke grabbed his sword with a look of resignation on his face.
‘I’m sorry. I can’t keep my promise, Isabelle.’
Finally, after once again recalling his fiance’s face, Luke let out a cry and ran towards the orcs.