Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 28

Chapter 28: What Humans Have Forgotten (1)

An emergency meeting was convened with the survivors of the trading company. The retainers and Lord Reberock sat in chairs, groaning.

“Monsters, you say? I’ve read about such entities, but I’ve never actually seen them.”

“They are described as having green skin, short stature, and long ears like elves. Are they goblins then?”

“It seems likely. What do the documents say about these beings?”

“They attack humans, steal goods to claim as their own, and apply poison to their weapons to grind their enemies down slowly…”

“…sounds rather human.”

Someone’s remark made Reberock chuckle. Stealing goods and poisoning. Was that not just like humans? He tapped the table with his fingertips and asked,

“So, what’s our plan?”

Silence fell among the retainers. Reberock sighed.

‘Is this what the Swordmaster had warned us about?’

Haiban had advised not to neglect weapon maintenance and to amass sufficient military strength. He must have anticipated such a situation.

‘It would have been better if he had elaborated more before leaving.’ A helpless complaint lodged itself in his mind. An elderly retainer with a long white beard broke the silence.

“Regrettably, while the documents do feature descriptions, there is nothing about how to counter them. There might be documents on that in the capital, but…”

“You lived through the times when these monsters were still around, did you not? Even you don’t know?”

“Well.”

At Reberock’s words, the old retainer grimaced. He was over sixty. The monsters had disappeared fifty years ago. Technically, he wasn’t wrong, but the reality was different.

“Back then, I was just a child. Fighting was left to the adults. Besides, it’s been fifty years.”

Landscapes change and mountains crumble in that time. It was enough time for human generations to change. No one remembered how to respond to those long-gone foes.

“That’s probably why the response methods aren’t documented.”

When documenting something like watermelons, one doesn’t typically note whether it’s safe to eat the seeds or the rind. What gets recorded are the nutritional benefits and characteristics, and the same goes for growth.

Back then, monsters were as commonplace as watermelons. Humans lived and fought alongside them. Killing methods were common knowledge, so most documents wouldn’t bother recording it. There might be some records, but certainly none within this domain.

The conclusion was that they were ignorant. An uncomfortable silence ensued.

“…are they definitely heading this way?”

“Yes. The reports confirm they are heading toward our domain. It seems inevitable we’ll have to fight.”

“How did they suddenly appear? This is near the capital of the empire.”

Someone clicked their tongue. The Iyrack domain was close to the heart of the empire, where external threats were virtually non-existent. And yet, monsters were approaching. Something was off, but there was no time to dwell on it. The pressing reality demanded their attention.

Reberock closed his eyes. His head throbbed as if it was about to split open. He wished to lock himself away and sleep if he could, but that was not an option. He was the lord. If he shut down, the domain would descend into chaos.

“We sent someone to the capital, did we get a reply?”

“No, not yet. They should have gotten back by now…”

“Is there no capacity…”

The Iyrack domain was near the capital. If this place fell, the threat extended directly to the capital. Yet, if responses were delayed, it meant one of two grim possibilities: either the domain was being forsaken, or the empire itself was faltering.

“Why! Why have those creatures suddenly reappeared after fifty years!”

A retainer, barely thirty, slammed his hand on the table, eyes wide with unmistakable fear.

“It’s expected.”

Today’s youth had never experienced war. Swordsmanship was for show, and armor was cumbersome. How could they withstand a battle against unknown entities?

The state of their weapons was not the issue; the real problem was their morale. Most who remembered the age of monsters were either dead or too old to fight. The younger ones had no experience in combat.

‘Above all.’

While the retainers and citizens worried about the monsters, he knew better. If monsters emerged, other things might have followed.

This was grim. Reberock covered his face.

***

“It’s noisy.”

Leyka murmured, biting into an apple. Her expression was sour. Young as she was, the lord’s daughter knew the severity of their situation.

“An ominous sign?”

“Maybe.”

Asher replied while swinging his sword. In the past, he would have scoffed at mere goblins, but not now. To them, goblins were a terrifying threat.

Unseen, monstrous entities would scare anyone. The village was engulfed in an indescribable fear. There might even be families planning to flee under cover of darkness. No one here could stand a chance in this state. Asher sheathed his sword and wiped his sweat.

“Think we can stop them?”

“Did you get a count?”

“Uh… around three hundred, I heard. About that many?”

“Three hundred.”

The domain’s fighting forces numbered around two hundred, and that was gathering everyone. The odds were, frankly, non-existent.

‘We can’t just leave it be.’

This was his home, where he had lived two lifetimes. He wouldn’t let it fall to mere goblins. He had people he cared about here.

“That’s enough for today. Get some rest. Don’t lose sleep over this.”

“…okay.”

Leyka hesitated, then nodded. After she left, only Asher remained in the training yard.

“Maybe I’ll take a look myself.”

Asher kneaded his muscles.

***

Night fell. A strange, unsettling silence enveloped the village, different from usual. It was time to sleep, but

But very few were asleep. Most likely, many lay awake, fearful of what the future held. Asher paced down the empty streets. Although the guards shivered as they stood watch by the city gates, he easily scaled the wall and slipped out. With his current physical abilities, such walls were no challenge at all.

“Where could it be?”

“Where are you going?”

Startled by a voice from the woods, Asher instinctively drew his sword as its owner slowly revealed herself. Asher frowned.

“…Reika?”

“What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”

She chuckled, waving her sword in her hand. Her attire was a tight-fitting leather armor, clearly ready for battle.

“Did you know?”

“Of course. With those fierce eyes, how could I not? You’re going to see that monster called a goblin, right? Take me with you.”

Her eyes were determined. Asher pondered for a moment then nodded.

“Alright.”

“…You agreed more easily than I thought. If you had refused, I would have followed you anyway.”

“I could tell you were prepared to do just that. There’s no time to waste here.”

Reika was strong. Though it was her first time facing a goblin, she wouldn’t lose. It occurred to Asher that it was actually good. If the young lord’s daughter faced a goblin herself, it might reduce the fear amongst the youths.

“I’m not sure why you’re following, but… Just one thing to remember: your life is your own responsibility.”

Asher’s voice was heavy. This was a real battle. Not the kind where you walk away with mere bruises—here, lives were at stake.

“Don’t worry. I’ve left my will just in case.”

***

The goblins were said to be nearby, but that was from a wartime perspective—a considerable distance by normal standards. They needed to hurry if they were to arrive by nightfall. Thus, they had run for hours without rest.

“Huff. Huff. Huff…”

As a result, Reika was entirely spent before even meeting a goblin. Sweaty all over and her leather robe tarnished from the bush, Asher tossed her a water bottle.

“Drink.”

“Thanks…”

She gulped it down hastily but caught her breath. Asher, clearing twigs along the way, advised her.

“If your body can’t handle it, just moisten your lips. Drink it like you’re just wetting your mouth.”

“Got it.”

Following Asher’s suggestion, she managed to swallow just by moistening her mouth. Her hands trembled.

“I’m exhausted…”

“You’ve done well. You have more stamina than I thought.”

It wasn’t a full sprint, but the journey across the rugged forest had been demanding. Asher had thought she wouldn’t last and had planned several breaks, yet she kept up without any complaints, proving more resilient than many soldiers.

“I’ve been training consistently… You seem fine, though.”

“This is nothing.”

It was only a few hours’ run. During the Demon King’s invasion, there had been times he ran for days without sleep. That had nearly killed him.

“We’re almost there. Just hang in there a bit longer.”

“Ugh…”

Despite looking dead tired, Reika got back up. About thirty minutes later, Asher held up his hand, and Reika stopped, drawing a breath. A strange cry, something between a beast and a human, echoed ahead.

Asher pressed himself against a tree, hiding his presence. Reika crouched down. The bushes parted, revealing green monsters.

“Kyarak. Kyarak.”

“Karuk.”

The creatures cried out as they tore through the bushes with their spears. They seemed like scouts. There were two of them. Asher pulled out two daggers and held one in each hand.

As they swung their spears, moving slowly towards Asher, who touched a hidden tree with his spear. At that moment, Asher burst out.

“Kyarak!”

The goblins yelped, swinging their spears. Asher ducked and thrust the dagger into one’s neck, then seized the other’s spear, twisting it to slam the creature to the ground. It was a success. He nearly made a call for reinforcements. He started to break its neck but paused.

“…Reika.”

“Uh, yes.”

She was dazed, staring at the goblin when Asher suddenly spoke, startling her into response. Asher firmly held the goblin down.

“You kill it.”

“…What?”

Confusion and unmistakable fear filled her eyes. But Asher continued emotionlessly.

“You said you’d live as a swordmaster. Then, killing is something you might have to face anytime. It’s better to get used to it early.”

“Kuh! Kuk!”

The goblin struggled, its actions fueled by terror. Reika’s body trembled. Taking a life chilled her to the bone. Even though she had resolved herself long ago, the reality was frightening. Yet, she drew her sword.

She slowly approached the goblin, which twisted madly as it sensed its impending death, though its restraints did not give. Reika’s pupils wavered, then her hand moved. With a grunt, the goblin’s movements ceased.

“……”

Reika withdrew her sword, green blood coating the blade. She savored the moment, her body shaking. Asher dealt with the goblin’s body.

“Don’t forget that feeling. It’s something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.”

No encouragement was necessary. The act of taking a life couldn’t be erased by mere words. If she couldn’t handle it, she’d be driven away; if she could, she would become a swordmaster.

Still, she would need time to process. Asher remained silent and cleared away the corpse.

***

Soon enough, Reika calmed down. She was recovering quickly, which was a talent in its own right. Some would reel from such experiences for a week.

Asher casually thought this as they continued forward, Reika following behind.

From ahead, a raucous noise was heard.

Asher crouched lower and slowly parted the bushes. The green creatures came into view.

“Uh…”

Reika let out a soft moan, coming to terms with their arrival. Asher scanned the creatures.



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