Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 11

Swordmaster (3)

In that place, a boy was wielding a sword. Haiban remained silent. Although those who followed tried to speak to him, he simply stared at the boy as if enchanted.

“Ah.”

Haiban let out a groan. The boy was wielding his sword.

The sword technique was one Haiban knew well. Imperial Sword Technique. A method that was neither special nor strong, merely meant for self-defense. However, what caught his eye was the movement of the boy.

It was perfect. Every time his arm shook and the sword traced its path, admiration burst forth.

“Ah…”

His eyes grew hazy. This was a pinnacle reached. A stage one could achieve as a human. It was beautiful. It was mesmerizing. The action he had intended to take regarding Asher had already cleanly disappeared from his mind. Then, the sword stopped.

“Ah…”

Regretful, Haiban unwittingly let out a sigh. A deep sense of loss filled his chest, but he shook it off. The boy was looking at him.

“Hmm. Hmm. Nice to meet you, kid.”

“You are.”

“Hm? I am…”

Haiban hesitated. What should he say? Call himself the Swordmaster? No. That feels too arrogant. The boy before him merely followed a different path but had reached a pinnacle. To call himself a Swordmaster to such a boy, even thinking about it made his face heat up. So what should he say?

“Haiban Eiaster.”

“Oh. You know me!”

Fortunately, the boy called him by name. Of course. An old man with black hair and a beard—there was none other than him. While he nodded his head in pleasure, the boy quietly observed him.

***

Haiban Eiaster. Owner of the sword. One of the Empire’s Swordmasters. He was someone from a previous life, and Asher knew him well.

Because they were rookies in the same guard squad.

Haiban and Asher became guards on the same day. They shared the same duties and hobbies around swordsmanship, and thus, they conversed often.

Of course, that didn’t mean they were similar. Haiban had talent, he did not. It wasn’t long before they each walked utterly different paths.

Yet, they didn’t grow distant. Haiban liked Asher, who did not envy or hate him, and Asher found no harm in staying on good terms with a Swordmaster who followed the path of the sword, even into their old age.

Confusing it was.

While he looked unemotional, Asher was quite taken aback now. To suddenly see an old friend from a past life. He glanced towards the door; Leyka and a person who seemed to be a lord were looking this way.

‘…Now that I think about it.’

This guy was supposed to be the guardian of the previous lord or something. Could it be that connection that brought him here? As his thoughts settled, so did his emotions. Asher slowly began to speak, his honorifics feeling awkward.

“…I heard you were missing for all these years.”

“Just went somewhere. It wasn’t a disappearance. But anyway, kid.”

The light returned to Haiban’s eyes. At the same time, Asher took a step back. He knew Haiban very well. To say they were close friends was an understatement. Therefore, he was familiar with Haiban’s personality and hobbies.

What would Haiban have done in such a situation? No need to think about it. Haiban slowly extended his arm.

There goes his bad habit again.

With a slight sigh, Asher waved his arm. A scream erupted.

“Oops.”

Haiban was flustered. A genuine fluster unlike the time with Leyka. Asher twisted Haiban’s wrist and tripped him, breaking his balance. The movements were natural, almost like breathing.

But it was a truly brief moment. Soon, an instinctive reaction unfolded. Haiban kicked at Asher while falling down with the posture of someone stepping on the ground, showing a mastered sense of balance.

As Asher deflected with his arm, he closed in on Haiban. His fist plummeted into Haiban’s face. Haiban, dazedly watching the approaching fist, swung his arm. Afterimages were drawn.

Bang!

Asher was flung away. Screams arose behind him, but Haiban blankly stared at his own hand. For a moment, it got serious. To think he did this to a kid not even in his twenties.

‘I’m still at this level.’

Asher wiped the blood from his lips as he got up. There was no special reason for countering Haiban’s jest. It was to see how far his frail body could hold up. The result was not bad. It wasn’t full power, but it was serious.

Glancing around, Leyka stared at him blankly. The knight who had challenged him yesterday was gaping with a jaw about to drop. Asher stared back at the lord with wide eyes.

‘You’ve grown well.’

Bits of his childhood face remained. That tiny kid has now aged to become a lord of a territory. The thought that time had passed struck him anew.

“Kid.”

Haiban, looking at Asher with complicated eyes, spoke. He asked with a subdued gaze.

“Are you that guy’s apprentice?”

“That guy.” Asher guessed who it was. He shook his head.

“I don’t know who it is, but I have no master.”

That was unchanging, in past lives and the present. At that, Haiban burst into a wide smile.

“Then you, become my disciple.”

“What?”

“Master Haiban!”

Ron screamed at the top of his lungs. “The disciple of the Swordmaster? Does the position every swordsman yearns for belong to this child before me?”

Asher responded,

“I refuse.”

“Huh?”

Hyban was momentarily flustered. He was a Swordmaster, and the child before him was a swordsman. Naturally, he thought the offer would be accepted, but the response he got was a rejection.

Asher had no intention of accepting. Becoming the disciple of a friend? It was laughable. Above all, there was nothing he could learn from anyone else, even if it was a Swordmaster.

“Asher!”

Reyka, who had been watching dumbfoundedly, screamed and ran over. Standing in front of Asher, she drew her sword toward Hyban.

“Whoever you are, what kind of outrage is this? Attacking someone who’s just standing there!”

“Um. Well… uh.”

Hyban stuttered. Strictly speaking, she wasn’t wrong, so he had no rebuttal. He awkwardly smiled and raised his sword.

“Among us, you are the only one who doesn’t know me.”

“What?”

With a roar, flames burst into life, as dark as pitch but dazzlingly spectacular. Black flames engulfed the sword, radiating intense heat.

“Ah…”

Reyka’s eyes wavered. The black flame that devoured the sword shone brilliantly, enchanting her eyes. There was no trace of magic. That left only one possibility.

“Aura…”

“Yes. A talented child you are. I am a Swordmaster.”

The lord of the sword. Every swordsman’s goal.

Hyban smiled.

“Someday, you’ll reach where I am now.”

***

Afterward, the lordship was in chaos. The lord announced the visit of the Swordmaster, and the common folk were in uproil, as facing such a being was nearly a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Youths screamed daily at the castle, begging to be taken as disciples, to the point of headache. Amidst this, a curious rumor circulated.

That the Swordmaster intends to take the trash of the lordship as his disciple.

“So, you really have no intention of becoming my disciple?”

“I’ve already told you no.”

“Hmm.”

Hyban clicked his tongue anxiously at Asher’s indifferent reply. Ignoring him, Asher swung his sword. His swordsmanship was flawless, causing Hyban to admire him once more.

“Perfect indeed. I’ve rarely seen such clean swordplay.”

“Aren’t you leaving?”

Unable to bear it any longer, Asher frowned. It had been several days of Hyban sticking around, whining about becoming his disciple, making it hard for him to focus on training.

‘Was he always like this?’

He remembered him being more composed and quieter with age. Had he changed over the last twenty years? Asher inwardly groaned.

“A Swordmaster like you should have many places to call you.”

“Who would want an old man who disappeared for twenty years? Wherever I go, I’d just be a hassle. Guess I’ll be pestering you for a while.”

“Such a joke.”

There’s nowhere that would refuse a Swordmaster. Once the news reaches the empire, it would cause a stir. Soon, a delegation would visit. Hyban grimaced.

“Still, I can’t stay long.”

“Then during that time, please look after that child instead of me. Teaching him might be more rewarding than bothering with someone like me.”

At the end of his gaze, Reyka was watching Hyban, her eyes sharply alert. His tongue clicked again at her guarded demeanor.

“I’ve already spoken to him. But he politely refused. He already has a master, so he said he could not learn from another. Such a polite child.”

“Is that so.”

Hyban did not expect that. A Swordmaster’s guidance could strengthen anyone, Reyka included. But to think he had refused it for her sake.

‘There’s no need for that.’

Reyka had talent. It would be beneficial for her to learn from someone more accomplished. Since the Swordmaster was here, it seemed right to urge her to accept his teaching.

“Besides, that child will become strong, whether I help or not. Right now, you interest me more.”

“I refuse.”

With that blunt declaration from Asher, Hyban drooped his head in dismay. It was disconcerting to see someone of his age behave this way. Asher sighed. Training had been hardly effective for the past few days.

But it wasn’t just a nuisance. Asher recalled the memory. The black burning flame, the aura. He mulled over that sensation, the power, the quality, the style.

‘It’s different after all.’

Before he died, he had awakened the aura and became a Swordmaster. However, the aura he had created was different from Hyban’s.

If he could produce it again, he would know for sure, but like a dam blocked, the aura did not manifest.

‘Am I a Swordmaster?’

He could no longer summon the aura. The aura that had once manifested was different from that of one praised as a Swordbrand. Moreover, a strange power had emerged.

Most importantly, even the Swordmaster did not realize that he was a Swordmaster. Hyban marvelled only at his swordsmanship.

Suddenly, everything felt awkward. What he had believed unquestionably now seemed doubtful. Asher bit his lip.

If the Swordmaster does not know, one who is superior might.

The Sword Sect of the capital.

The purpose had not changed. It had only become more certain.



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