I was at fault for not being able to support my spirit with enough aura.

Knight Brown looked somewhat disappointed.

Despite being of the lowest class, the spirit had proven useful.

Its lower rank meant less power and required less spiritual energy from the mage, making it difficult to maintain for long periods.

"I'm sorry. Spirit tests aren't ordinary, but with training, you can raise Hebron's reputation."

"I'm not concerned with reputation. Don't worry about what others think. Live for yourself. Be happy. That's all that matters. That's what my father and grandfather always said."

"That's true."

Brown looked upset.

This was because Hebron's current state was a result of the individual lord's pursuit of personal happiness.

Hebron's poverty was due to the lord's lack of abilities.

I responded with a sly smile.

"I don't have the power to summon and control a spirit anyway. My aura reserves are low."

"Nevertheless, it's an achievement. Your swordsmanship against the wolf was different from what I taught you."

"As you know, I'm not particularly skilled in swordsmanship. I thought, perhaps I've been learning a style that doesn't suit me."

"I apologize."

Knight Brown was my swordsmanship teacher.

He had taught Lewis de Hebron with great sincerity, but my average talent wasn't able to grasp all the lessons.

"Why should you apologize, Knight Brown? My lack of talent is the issue. Anyway, I've thought it over and created a style that suits me."


"It worked when I tried it."

That was pure nonsense.

No one could create a sword technique instantly, no matter their skill level.

Because aura and swordsmanship were interconnected, it usually took a lifetime to master just one style.

Famous techniques were often developed over generations.

"Well, if you're okay with it, could we spar?"

Knight Brown couldn't deny my sword skills.

After all, I had single-handedly hunted more than twenty ash wolves.

That was a feat even Knight Brown couldn't accomplish.

"Can we do it tomorrow? I'm a bit worn out today."

"I heard you were just doing physical training."

"Yes, so I'm tired. I've exhausted my energy. Why? Do you doubt me?"

"Not at all. I'll see you tomorrow."

Knight Brown quickly stood up from his seat.

He was about to leave, but turned back to bow to me.

"Thank you for today."

"For what?"

"Thanks for saving Tom."

"Is this kid Tom related to you?"

"No, but I've seen him grow since he was young. I would've been saddened if he died."

Such sentiment would be unthinkable in the Duchy of Vreio.

In a place teeming with people, mourning a single child was impossible.

Why was that so?

Brown's gaze at me was more intense than before.

Before I could analyze his look, another visitor came to see me.


"Mother, has father arrived too?"

My parents had come to visit.

They had been inspecting the western wall with Knight Brown, and rushed back to the mansion when they heard about the ash wolf invasion.

The expressions on Viscount Hebron and his wife were warm.

A stark contrast to the Duke and Duchess of Vreio, whose presence felt like sharp blades.

My parents might have been incompetent, but they were equally warm.

Their warmth felt alien to me.

So, it sparked my suspicion.

'There must be a catch.'

The memories of Lewis de Hebron were fresh in my mind.

From that, I knew that Viscount and his wife meant no harm to me. On the contrary, they cared for me deeply.

They loved me.

'Is this what a normal parent-child relationship is?'

Their love felt foreign to me.

"Now that you've grown up, you call your mom 'Mother', and dad 'Viscount'."

My mother gently touched my arm.

Such a touch was non-existent in the Duke's family.

Whenever I got hurt, a healing potion was immediately administered.

In the end, I was even killed by an unknown assassin. I was always on the edge.

"He's just being polite. Don't be upset."

Despite his words, my father seemed slightly bothered by being addressed as Viscount.

My father glanced at me over my mother's shoulder, scanning my wounds.

I found the stare from my so-called father and the touch of my mother to be unsettling.

Even without any ulterior motives, my past experiences in Vreio led me to be cautious of them.

My mother asked me.

"Aren't you hurt anywhere? Are you truly okay?"

"I'm fine. It doesn't hurt."

My mother handed me a leather pouch.

Inside, it was filled with strong-smelling herbs.

'Using too much of a good healing herb can cause side effects. It's a basic fact Hebron doesn't seem to grasp.'

"Herbology was my specialty.

In the Barony of Hebron, there was no proper doctor.

Treatments were handed down by elders versed in home remedies, and even in the baron's house, diseases were addressed in this manner.

'It's impressive. Had our financial situation been better, I would have sent you to the Royal Academy...'

My father sighed heavily.

Interestingly, my father was an alumnus of the Royal Academy.

Despite dropping out after a semester due to our constrained finances, he still held onto the certificate he received at the academy's entrance ceremony.

'No, Sir Brown is an exceptional teacher. A hired swordsmanship tutor couldn't match his dedication.'

From an objective viewpoint, Sir Brown was a remarkable mentor to the previous Lewis de Hebron.

I still remember his teachings vividly.

His level of swordsmanship might have been modest, but no knight in the duke's family cared for their young charges as diligently as Sir Brown did.

He didn't just impart skills, he gave his heart. He cared as if he was nurturing his own children, even though such attentiveness could feel harsh at times.

My mother examined every inch of my body for wounds.

It was a warm feeling that had been absent in my previous life, and it resonated deep within me.

Because it was so alien, my muscles tensed involuntarily.

'We should let him rest now, dear.'

Had my father not intervened, I would have had to feign sleep to escape my mother's loving inspection.

My mother reluctantly let go of me, reminding me over and over,

'If you feel any discomfort, be sure to call Mariam. And you must call me too, regardless of the hour. Understood?'

'Yes, mother. But there's no need for Mariam or you to worry. A good night's sleep will have me back to normal.'

As I reassured her, my mother turned to my father and said,

'See how grown-up our boy is, speaking so formally to his own mother.'

'Indeed, when did he mature so much, haha!'

The customs at the baron's house weren't as stringent as those learned at the ducal house.

Even though I tried to relax as much as possible, my parents saw it as formality.

After they left, I sat on the sturdy mattress.

'Improving the efficiency of my aura is the top priority.'

There was truth in the deceit I spun for Sir Brown.

There was a swordsmanship technique that suited my body.

More accurately, the swordsmanship and aura training methods needed to be tailored specifically to me for optimal performance.

This fact was known to every knight.

Naturally, they came to understand it while honing their skills.

They chose to feign ignorance even when they knew better.

They had made peace with this reality.

The individuals who fine-tune and master their own swordsmanship and aura cultivation techniques are rare in this world, perhaps only a few per century.

Even when they achieved such a state, acclimating to a new cultivation method after ingraining others was virtually impossible.

The extent of adaptation was to adjust their bodies to the previously learned swordsmanship, or minimally modify it. That was the boundary.

'But now, I can surpass that.'

Swordsmanship techniques resided within my mind.

I was even versed in royal swordsmanship.

Since the king seldom engaged in combat, the royal swordsmanship and cultivation technique were primarily focused on stability and health.

'Unfortunately, the Vreio swordsmanship doesn't suit me.'

The technique I employed to hunt the ash-grey wolf was Vreio swordsmanship. Its hallmark lay in its simple movements, each carrying a deadly force.

'The swordsmanship that suits me now is....'

With the experience of two lifetimes, the previous Lewis acted as a swordsmanship tutor for the current me.

He was the most informed and meticulous mentor one could hope for.

I scoured my memory, sifting through numerous techniques to identify the ideal one.

'The cornerstone is the aura cultivation technique. Considering solely the cultivation method...'

If the cultivation technique wasn't in sync with me, wielding the true power of the technique was a challenge.

'Antaria swordsmanship.'

This was the technique of the fallen Antaria Kingdom from a century ago.

Despite being the kingdom's representative technique, interest in Antaria swordsmanship waned once the method of its destruction was exposed.

'No need to overthink. Only knights are aware of the method of destruction. Against monsters and soldiers, there's no superior swordsmanship. Moreover, once Antaria swordsmanship surpasses a certain level, such destructive methods become irrelevant. Vreio swordsmanship can't compete. Plus, I have a means to augment Antaria swordsmanship.'

The Antaria Kingdom was a divine realm.

They revered priests over mages or knights.

In a unique circumstance, knights stood on par with the priests.

The Holy Knights.

Only the Holy Knights could study Antaria swordsmanship, and the only knight who transcended a particular level during the kingdom's downfall was the Knight Commander.

When he defeated Vreio swordsmanship, the infuriated Vreio family researched and unveiled the destruction method of Antaria swordsmanship.


Breathing was the cornerstone of aura cultivation.

The conventional practice was to absorb the dispersed energy in the atmosphere and amass it in the Danjeon (a term in martial arts, referring to the lower abdomen area where energy is consolidated).

The Vreio Dukes attempted to overcome limitations through a more advanced method than typical nostril and mouth respiration.

Cutaneous respiration.

'For a decade, the House of Vreio didn't merely exploit me. They couldn't even decipher half of my studies.'

The Vreio method was volatile.

During aura cultivation via cutaneous respiration, even a mild shock could debilitate you. Furthermore, if the surrounding magic was profuse, it could backlash.

Such a circumstance could trigger a rampant surge in power storage if you endeavored to absorb excessive magic power.

'My theory was superior to Vreio's. What I lacked was merely the innate ability to store magic power in my body. Now, I possess that aptitude too.'

My pores expanded across my entire body.

The atmospheric aura was absorbed, and the power I presently couldn't control was channeled towards the power storage.

I perceived the atmospheric aura as magical power.

Upon absorption into the body, its transformation dictated its categorization into aura, mana, divine power, spirit power, and so on.

Magical power was the crux of all these energies.


It felt as though a waterfall was cascading over me.

A fervent heat engulfed me.

'This is aura...!'

It was a starkly different sensation from cultivating with the Hebron aura technique.

I was absorbing the world's energy with my entire being.

It felt as if the world, nay, the entire universe, resided within me.

I trembled.

I felt invigorated.

A realm previously unexperienced in my past life was now at my feet.

I stood upon it, gazing up at the subsequent realm.

I was stirred merely by the prospect of a plausible future within my grasp.

'The Duke of Vreio's assessment was accurate.'

Regrettably, I had to admit it.