For the last month, I've been practicing my aura daily, no exceptions.
With each practice, the aura in my body grows a bit.
This growth is due to the expanding aura in my energy center.
However, near the eastern forest, I take in more aura during training.
I quietly ponder this phenomenon that seems to only happen to me.
"600 meters east, about twenty."
The scout returned with his report.
Brown glanced at me, and I met his look with a smile.
"Time for a hunt."
After a quick rest, we swiftly rose from our spots.
Again, we split into two groups, all soldiers following Sir Brown's orders.
I went towards the enemy alone.
"There are twenty-four, easy peasy!"
Twenty-four goblins were clustered together.
They seemed to be resting, too, but they sprang to action at the sound of my voice.
Whoosh! Screech! Boosh!
The nearest goblin's head crashed to the ground.
Its head was shattered.
With one down, the goblins swarmed in.
I stepped back a bit and called on the fire spirit.
-What do you wish for?
"Can you burn their eyes with all your might, using the flames of a lesser spirit?"
Inferno swelled to a size of less than 50 centimeters.
His square upper body was about 40 centimeters, while his lower body, lamp-like, was hazy.
The fire spirit plunged into the goblins.
He didn't push himself too hard.
In a blink, he set the goblins' eyes ablaze.
Even if he occasionally missed, the goblins had to keep their eyes closed because of the flames.
The air filled with the screams of goblins.
They weren't dead, but being blind on a battlefield is like death.
The soldiers of Hebron stormed in.
They charged in a 'V' formation, and the blind goblins stumbled around, unable to find an escape path.
The soldiers quickly closed the distance.
Inferno took the gaps in the V-shaped encirclement.
As he moved in a straight line, a red wall of fire sprung up.
'The aura drain is too much!'
It was disappointing.
Still, the encirclement was perfectly made.
Not one goblin escaped; all were pierced and slain by our spears.
The fight was over so fast it was almost a letdown.
Because of this, the soldiers' spirits soared.
They thirsted for more goblin blood.
"When did you learn these tactics?"
Brown asked me, and I turned and smiled at him.
It wasn't the first time I had been asked that.
Brown figured it out himself.
"It's from Baron Hebron's library, isn't it?"
"You know it is. Why do you keep asking? You know I've only left Hebron three times since I was born, right, Sir Brown?"
The only times I'd left the Hebron estate were for annual tax payments since I turned sixteen.
"Have we gathered all the daggers?"
"Yes, my lord."
The iron swords of the goblins were our most valuable loot.
They were either reshaped for our use or melted down to make new weapons.
We had to buy lots of supplies once a year when we returned from paying taxes, so Hebron needed to rely on itself as much as possible.
'They're exhausted already.'
Despite their high spirits, the soldiers' breaths were heavy.
Even though it wasn't noon yet, they were soaked in sweat.
They hadn't mastered the aura training yet.
"Pull back and rest for a bit."
Their response was louder than ever. They retreated and took a break.
In the meantime, I practiced my aura amidst the soldiers.
'So, that's how it works?'
I understood the pattern of my aura training.
'The more lifeforms I kill, the more magic I can absorb during aura training.'
The reason was unclear to me.
When I pulled in all the magic through the magic channel, it seemed that the energy of those I'd killed was also absorbed.
The difference was huge. After a full day of hunting like today, I could store a large amount of aura in my body.
'I won't have to buy expensive magic crystals.'
In Duke Vreio's house, they used magic crystals to improve the efficiency of aura training.
Unless they were swimming in cash, this method was impossible to use.
"Let's get back to it."
Break time didn't last more than 20 minutes.
Longer rest only led to laziness.
We kept hunting goblins.
Eventually, dusk arrived.
"Let's head back."
The soldiers' throats were parched.
They were silent. No, they didn't have the energy to speak.
In just one day, they had come to trust me fully.
I reckoned that their trust was due to no casualties under my command.
"Long live Lord Lewis!"
When we got back to the territory, the people welcomed us.
We only brought back goblin iron swords, paralysis needles, and pots, but these filled three bags.
We had killed close to 300 goblins in one day.
Such an accomplishment would be hard for even a large mercenary group.
Mercenaries lack local knowledge and they don't put their lives on the line.
A few soldiers came back with minor injuries.
An old man who served as the village doctor met the wounded.
"This is a medicinal paste made following your instructions, my lord. I've applied it a few times, and it's remarkably effective."
The elder presented a wooden container filled with the remedy, while the village's young men helped him with the treatment.
I was ready for a quick wash and a good night's sleep, but Sir Brown was standing at my bedroom door.
"Do we march again tomorrow?"
"No, let's rest tomorrow and move out the day after. Still, keep your guard up; those goblin brutes might retaliate. Make sure nobody ventures into the fields tomorrow."
"Understood, my lord."
"Wait a moment."
I retrieved a bunch of herbs from the manor's storehouse and handed them to Brown.
"Distribute these to the injured. They should chew it slowly with warm water before swallowing."
"What kind of herb is this?"
"It's Urucho. It's effective against tetanus. Goblins don't take care of their weapons, so you find rusty swords among them."
"Ah, thank you for considering such nuances."
It was a blessing that I had studied medicine.
Tetanus was incurable unless preemptively prevented or treated with a healing potion or a priest's blessing.
In many ways, it was better for Hebron's soldiers to consume Urucho.
"Also, instruct the proficient villagers to..."
I relayed a series of commands to Brown.
While battling fatigue, he committed my words to memory.
After Brown departed, I sat up straight on the mattress.
I was weary too, but sleep wasn't an option yet. I hadn't practiced my aura since midday.
Since then, I had killed over 50 goblins.
I commenced aura practice.
'Just as I thought!'
As I expected, a tremendous surge of magical energy raced toward me.
The rush was so intense that it prickled my skin.
Still, I was capable of controlling that energy.
No, even if I couldn't, I had to make it happen.
I clenched my teeth and persevered. That was my only path to overcome myself.
After some time, I regained my calm. Exhaustion suddenly washed over me.
'Is this another facet of my talent?'
It felt as if I was siphoning the energy of a specter tethered to me.
The more lives I took, and the higher the level of those I killed, the more magical power I gathered.
Thanks to this, my mana pool had expanded since the last time.
'I might be able to attempt it sooner than expected. Maybe, I could even succeed now.'
Overwhelming fatigue prompted me to close my eyes for a moment. I didn't sleep for long. The surging magical power seemed to swiftly alleviate my fatigue.
When I reopened my eyes, dawn had broken, with moonlight filtering through the window.
'Let's give it a shot.'
I was weary of mere mental exercises. Even if failure was imminent, I yearned to try. Now that I'd sidestepped certain failure, I had to exploit the opportunity before me.
Attempts to infuse an aura with an element were rare, but not unheard of. From the past to the present, auras imbued with fire, water, and wind have been created, with successful instances documented.
'Knight of Fire Madoros, Knight of Water Annes, Knight of Wind Paroma.'
These were not extraordinarily high-level knights. They simply earned unique titles for infusing their auras with specific elements.
Books containing records of their aura practices were stored in the library of Duke Vreio.
These were classified as third-class secrets, accessible to anyone within the knighthood.
'It wasn't particularly confidential information. It didn't enhance the efficiency of the aura. And creating fire, water, or wind was more effectively accomplished with a wizard's magic.'
However, if someone who had mastered element-infused aura were termed a 'Spirit Knight,' the narrative would change.
There are no records of a Spirit Knight in the history of the Xenon Kingdom. The most renowned Spirit Knight is the protagonist of the knight novel, 'Knight of Fire Zenith.'
'I already had the theoretical knowledge.'
I had adapted a practice method from my previous life, not the current one.
I adjusted the Antaria aura practice method based on this adaptation.
Since the method wasn't deeply ingrained in me, I could readily redirect the aura flowing through me.
'It's not vastly different from magic. It's like carving a magical circle inside me, similar to the ancient wind-creating magic circle. There's no need to overdo it. If the flames become too fierce, I risk incinerating my internal organs. Just enough to form the shape of fire...'
I lost track of time.
I entered a trance-like state, manipulating my aura.
An intense heat radiated from my mana pool, permeating my body, followed by a sharp sound.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!
I snapped out of my trance. Before I could fully suppress the internal heat, I sprang from my seat and rushed toward the eastern wall.
The beacons there blazed in a row.
It signaled the arrival of intruders from the east.
Upon reaching the wall, I saw a large horde occupying the paddy fields.
May I unleash my power?
My mana pool's aura swelled.
Its quality transformed.
As the fire-infused aura heated the mana traversing the mana pool, Inferno, the intermediate fire spirit who had absorbed my aura, surged with power.
Inferno, now larger than myself, flaunted his robust upper body as he streaked across the paddy fields.
Flames exploded in his wake.
The swarm of goblins, seemingly in the hundreds, was swallowed by the inferno.
The night's silence was fractured by the piercing screams of the goblins.
It appeared few would make it to the walls.
A soldier, his face a mask of desolation, watched as the flames danced across the crops.
A spirit's fire could be extinguished at the spirit's whim.
However, reviving the scorched paddy fields and farmland was beyond possibility.
The population of Hebron was roughly 400.
Over half of them were kin, and the remainder shared a close-knit familiarity with each other's circumstances.
I voiced my resolve.
"This year's harvest is lost, there's no denying that. But from next year onwards, things will change. Once we exterminate these creatures, our lives will undoubtedly improve. Focus not on the present, but on the future. Until that time, Hebron will provide for you. Today, let's eradicate them!"
Archers ascended the wall, bows at the ready.