Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 17

Handling (1)

*Pant. Pant. Pant.*

The man slumped down on the wooden floor, trying to catch his breath as the derelict building slowly got enveloped in darkness. A voice echoed.

[There’s no need for a report then.]

[I knew it would be tough. A prodigal genius winning against someone worthy of being the Swordmaster’s disciple? Impossible.]

“Shut up!”

The man shouted harshly, clenched his teeth as he observed the darkness engulfing him.

“Cowards, all hiding and never stepping outside…”

[I would have appreciated some respect for the elderly.]

Mocking laughter filled the air. The man snorted. Elderly? That term hardly suited them.

“An ageless witch spouting nonsense.”

[Stay calm. It might seem obvious, but we need to verify. So, what’s the result?]

“…It’s a failure.”

The man spoke gruffly, his pride reduced to ashes and beyond gathering.

“What’s with that? How could something like the Imperial Sword Technique…”

[Didn’t I tell you? You are still immature. Although you have the talent to learn the great sword, you haven’t mentally matured. It’s rare for someone in such a state to win.]

“Why send me then…”

[Wasn’t it provoking?]

As the calm voice resonated through the abandoned building, the man paused.

[You are weak. You have potential, but that is all it is. You were too engrossed in it. Yet, what about reality? You couldn’t even defeat the mere Imperial Sword Technique. What you need is effort.]

“…Understood.”

The man nodded. That’s right. Just get stronger. I’ll crush him someday with enough strength. He bit his lip.

[We have high expectations for you. It’s not like you to fall apart over such a trivial matter. By the way… you used the Imperial Sword Technique, didn’t you?]

“Yes.”

[How did it feel?]

[Are you overreacting? The Imperial Sword Technique is a common sword skill, nothing special.]

[Remember, the Swordmaster who took a kid as a disciple had a friendly relationship with the one versed in it.]

[Well, no worries. That guy is already dead. Means anyone who knew our weaknesses is gone.]

The voices cheered gleefully. Their power was absolute, but not without its flaws; they could be countered if known.

The one who knew this was the former captain of the guards, and he was dead.

[He was just a human. Not the kind to leave something behind. You worry too much.]

[Hmm… Anyway, what was it like? Speak.]

The man remained silent. The silence persisted, and just as an entity in the darkness was about to speak, the man said,

“I don’t know.”

[What?]

“I don’t know. Was he really just a kid? It doesn’t seem like it. His swordsmanship was… perfect. Like a seasoned warrior. He exploited our psychology and maintained calm even when surrounded, laying traps.”

“And his knowledge of our abilities…”

[He knew?]

“Yes. He knew our identities and what happened in the past. How could the Swordmaster know so much?”

[Hmm…]

A rustle spread through the air.

[This is troublesome. We must prioritize killing him. We’ve manipulated information, erased traces. If he knows everything, it’s problematic. Send support. Do not spare any means to kill…]

“You think I would just let you?”

His body shook violently. Darkness crackled as it began to obscure its form.

“See you later then.”

[This guy!]

Boom!

The building collapsed. Asher got up, brushing off the wood pieces. He moved his foot aside and picked up something from beneath. A broken ring lay there.

“Is it a relic this time?”

Asher pocketed it. It might come in handy someday.

‘The voice I missed.’

Fifty years ago. The voice he heard then was the same as the one from the dark entity just now. Still alive and not dead. Annoying creatures.

“Cough! Cough!”

From afar, amid the splintering wooden panels, a man got up. The building had collapsed, but being old and rotten, it hadn’t caused serious injuries. The man turned his head around, his face blank with disbelief, and muttered.

“Our branch has…”

“You’re on your own now.”

“!!”

The man quickly gazed at Asher and gasped in fear. Asher stomped his foot. The man clenched his fist and widened his eyes.

“Why. Why!”

“Since the branch has fallen, you can no longer move. You’ve been deprived of this land.”

Crack.

Asher slammed the man’s head into the ground and sat astride him.

“Shall we talk then? Who commissioned it? I have a guess, but certainty is important.”

“…Kill him!”

The man gritted his teeth and shouted. Asher clicked his tongue.

“These days, the young think too lightly of their lives.”

“Torture is useless! Just kill me now!”

“Really think so?”

The man had undergone torture training. He had no intention of opening his mouth. Upon hearing this, Asher muttered with an ambiguous expression.

“Those who say that often end up talking the fastest.”

“Ugh!”

The man instinctively swallowed his breath. Asher grabbed his fingernails. The man writhed.

“Gaaaah…”

The man twisted in pain. He had been trained in torture, thinking he could endure having his nails pulled.

But that was easier thought than done. Asher applied force.

“Ah! Aaaah!”

A nail was pulled out. The man thrashed about.

“Even if you’re trained, enduring pain isn’t that easy.”

Asher murmured as he grabbed another fingernail. The man flinched at the sensation. He looked up at Asher with tear-filled eyes.

“Sorry. I’ve seen that look too many times.”

A scream erupted.

***

Unmoved, Asher waved his hand in front of the man’s eyes, but the man couldn’t focus.

Asher pulled out a water bottle and poured it on the man, who jumped in surprise, eyes briefly flickering back to life.

“Let’s start the talk then. Answer properly and I’ll give you peace.”

“What do you…”

The man trembled, ready to answer any question.

“It’s nothing serious. Just a light chat.”

Asher dusted off his hands. He hadn’t inflicted much pain. At most, he pulled out nails and sprinkled salt in the wounds—basic torture techniques.

Yet the trained man couldn’t even withstand that.

‘It’s expected.’

If training alone enabled everyone to endure pain, why torture at all?

Endurance mostly requires mental strength, but a young and arrogant youth would not have strong resolve, and the result was evident.

“Who commissioned you? Was it Luke?”

“Yes…”

Expected. Asher nodded. The actions fit him to a T. Now, how to deal with him. Asher sunk into deep thought, making the man shiver.

“Let’s leave that for later. You mentioned a banquet place.”

“Yes…”

Again, the man readily nodded.

People often think assassins have spells imposed on their minds to block information disclosure, but very few guilds have such high-level security.

Brain tampering to cause death upon uttering specific words? Such madness would hardly be commonplace. Moreover, high-level magic was rare.

Mortaloria, above all, was a guild venerating deities. Magic was deemed heretical.

Asher stroked his chin.

“How many are there now in your banquet place?”

“Twelve…”

“Twelve? Already?”

Asher asked, surprised. During his previous life, there were at most three. The quality might have decreased, but the quantity had quadrupled.

“You were halved fifty years ago.”

“We’ve been hiding since then… waiting for the world to dark until the light disappears… Then they vanished and we emerged… spreading across the whole world…”

“…How many branches do you have now?”

“I’m not sure… but at least ten in each country…”

“Hmm.”

That was a substantial increase. Troublesome.

Asher clicked his tongue. The leadership had seen him. They knew he was well-informed about Mortaloria.

Though the relic was destroyed preventing further entry into the domain, if he ventured outside, they’d pounce. Though anticipated, it was becoming quite irritating.

“You wouldn’t know the locations. Troublesome. Your god gave his followers too much, forsaking many things.”

“Who are you…”

The man looked at Asher with fearful eyes. To think he knew even what the deity hadn’t detailed.

“Just happened to hear it. Now for the interesting part. When did the light disappear?”

“Twenty years ago… more than half the heroes vanished…”

“What?”

Asher scowled.

Twenty years. That was when he died.



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