Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 29

Chapter 29: What Humanity Has Forgotten (2)

The goblins were resting in makeshift shelters made of grass and wood scraps. Occasionally, some were chewing on raw meat from beasts, and when a few tried to steal it from each other, the meat ended up covered in dirt, but they just shoved it into their mouths as if it were fine.

“…Those are goblins.”

Leika watched them with a hardened expression. This was her first time seeing such monsters, and involuntarily, strength flowed into her hands.

‘The memory isn’t much different.’

She wondered if anything had changed over the past fifty years, but it was all the same. The weapons they held, their appearances, and their way of life were unchanged. Which likely meant their vulnerabilities hadn’t changed either.

‘The distance from my territory must be about a day or two.’

Estimating their movement speed and group size, that seemed about right. Aisha narrowed her eyes as she considered the location of her domain.

‘…How are these creatures here?’

This area was near the capital, at the heart of the empire. Even fifty years ago, monsters had only encroached this far during the outbreaks caused by the Devil King’s instigation.

Yet here they were. Moreover, they remained undetected until an entire caravan had been destroyed. It would have been impossible to travel here purely by land.

‘I don’t understand.’

It was something Aisha had never experienced in her previous life. She shook her head and surveyed the goblins. It was an incomprehensible reality, but one she had to accept.

‘The count is about three hundred.’

As reported. What should she do? After a moment of contemplation, the answer came. She needed to buy time until the people in her domain were ready to face this threat.

“Let’s kill them slowly.”

“To kill? A frontal assault?”

“Of course not.”

The goblins were fairly well organized. No matter what, a direct confrontation with three hundred would be reckless. A hero might scoff and wipe them out, but she was no hero.

“Just wait a bit. Goblins sleep deeply though it’s brief. Once they fall asleep, you could stab them with a knife and they wouldn’t wake up. They do set guards, but there are gaps that we can exploit.”

“…You know a lot.”

The statement was laden with a strange meaning. Aisha didn’t respond, and the silence lasted for about thirty minutes. Eventually, the sounds of the goblins lessened as they began to doze off, their heads nodding to the ground.

“It’s about time.”

Aisha pulled a dagger from her wrist guard.

“Leika. What will you do? Wait, or kill?”

“I’ll wait. What choice do I have?”

Leika grumbled. She was inexperienced and staying quiet was more helpful in such situations.

“Alright. Stay quiet and remain here.”

Aisha whispered softly and stood up. She moved silently, entering the goblin’s territory. Occasionally, the guards patrolled, but their movements were clumsy due to sleepiness. Aisha used the blind spots to slip into a hut.

“Kyaaak. Kyaaak!”

“Kruk.”

Inside, several goblins were entangled and sleeping together. Aisha carelessly thrust her dagger into one’s heart. After a brief twitch, the heartbeat ceased. After repeating this several times, Aisha was the only living being left in the hut.

‘I should clear out about two more huts.’

Any more would be impractical due to the smell of blood. That should cause enough confusion to buy a few more days. She moved to another hut and eliminated the snoring goblins. Coming out, she surveyed the nearby huts and paused.

‘That one.’

In the middle of the area was a hut much larger than the others. It wasn’t just larger; it was crafted with more care than the others. It had been an eyesore from the outside.

‘Goblins shouldn’t have a hierarchy.’

Essentially, goblins lived in an egalitarian society. More precisely, they lacked the intelligence to establish a hierarchy. They simply rushed en masse to any proposition.

This was fortunate for humanity. There were more goblins than humans, and their reproductive rate could compete with pigs. If these creatures had any significant talent, goblins would be humanity’s principal enemy. But they didn’t, reducing them to mere nuisances.

Yet a hut that seemed built for a leader? Aisha pondered briefly but then moved toward it. The closer she got, the more stringent the guards became, but still, they were just goblins. She evaded them skillfully and entered the hut.

“Kruk. Kruk.”

Inside was a large bed with a single goblin sleeping on it. It wasn’t notably darker, but the size was not much different from other goblins.

Aisha paused but then drew her dagger and approached. Getting close to the goblin, she lifted her dagger. Just as she was about to strike, something tangled around her arm.

“Silk…?”

Aisha muttered unknowingly. Black threads were strung around the goblin, stretching in every direction.

“Ah.”

A goblin setting up such a trap? With a snort, a loud alarm bell sounded.

The goblin’s eyes opened, and it screamed at Aisha.

“Kyaaaak!”

***

Boom!

The hut collapsed. Aisha was thrown out and landed on the ground. It seemed the goblins had woken up as the area became noisy. The guards, who were supposed to be on watch, rushed toward her.

“Kyaaak!”

A spear was thrust, aiming to slice through the Adam’s apple and thrown to fell another approaching goblin as its neck was pierced.

‘This has gotten complicated.’

Aisha clicked her tongue and kicked the ground, not sparing any effort, pouring all her strength into the action.

It felt like an earthquake had struck, shaking the ground as her body surged through the air. Grabbing a tree branch, she steadied her flying form and landed.

“Aisha, what is this…?”

“We’ve been caught. Who would have thought that mere goblins would set a trap.”

More bewildered than embarrassed, she could only laugh. That’s how unexpected the sound was. Goblins were stupid, often crushing themselves under poorly constructed huts or freezing to death in winter because they couldn’t start a fire.

But to have laid a trap…

“They’re even capable of constructing traps against intruders?”

“Squeal!”

She grabbed the approaching goblin’s arm and stabbed it in the heart. Using her strength, she flung it, causing other goblins rushing toward her to be hit by the body of their kin and roll on the ground. However, far more were still charging at her.

“Let’s run away for now.”

“Ah, okay.”

Rayka quickly replied and took off. She pushed her way through the underbrush, advancing forward, with Asher following behind her.

“Squeal!”

But somehow, they had spread out widely, and a goblin appeared in front of them. Asher laughed incredulously, wringing its neck. Thinking ahead like it had the intelligence to ambush.

“It’s really dangerous.”

And not just for humans.

He picked up his pace again.

***

“Pant. Pant.”

Rayka’s breath quickened. As she swung her sword towards a goblin that appeared, she tore through it, creating afterimages. She killed something. Without a moment to reflect on her action, she quickly moved again. Goblin cries echoed from all sides.

“It feels like we’ve been running for two hours….”

“These guys are persistent; it’s either they die, or they exhaust us until we drop. One of the two.”

“Squeal!”

Asher dodged a swirling spear and attacked a goblin, causing its eyes to shake and soon lose their light and collapse.

“Screech! Screech!”

“Squeal!”

“The end…”

She seemed to have killed dozens already, but still, the goblins continued to chase them non-stop. Asher clicked his tongue and pulled out his great sword. Flexing his muscles, he swung it vigorously.

Crack!

Trees around snapped and wood splinters burst out like shrapnel, piercing through the goblins. Cries of pain and confusion filled the air.

“Squeal!”

“Eek!”

“Only two more left.”

Asher gripped his throbbing arm. He had already used his full strength three times. Though better than before, five times was still his limit.

“You hide here.”

“Why, why?”

“It’s my limit. At best, only one or two more goblins.”

No matter how talented, it was still her first real battle. Rather, considering that, she had held up well. Asher drew his long sword.

“But!”

“Don’t be stubborn.”

His cold voice shut Rayka up.

“You said you’d follow my orders no matter what. Are you refusing now?”

“…Alright.”

“If my guess is right, those creatures will follow me once I head out. Just conserve your energy for now. I’ll be back later.”

“Okay.”

Asher slowly walked into the forest, disappearing into the darkness, leaving Rayka alone. The presence of her companion faded away. Rayka pressed hard against her wrist.

“Damn….”

Such language was unbecoming of a noble, but she couldn’t help but utter it. She clenched the soil in frustration.

“Am I just a burden?”

She had forcibly followed to assist Asher, to walk the path he walks. But what was the result? Her presence had forced Asher onto a perilous path. She was utterly ashamed. Frustrated, she threw the soil, hitting a piece of wood.

“I want to become stronger…”

To stand beside Asher without shame, to be proud. Self-loathing and feelings of inferiority overwhelmed her as she breathed heavily.

“Squeak.”

Suddenly, a goblin’s cry was heard. She hastily grabbed her sword. A goblin slowly approached, stepping on wood splinters.

“Squeal.”

This goblin was not much different in size from the others, but it held a sharpened human-made spear, not just any crudely fashioned rock.

Moreover, its body was different. It looked as if it had been refined by repeated training, muscular and robust.

The goblin glared at Rayka with sharp eyes.

“…You wanna try?”

Rayka took her stance. Even though she was exhausted, she could handle one goblin. Instead of charging, the goblin, almost human-like, stroked its chin.

“Human, it seems.”

“!”

Rayka’s pupils dilated. A goblin speaking human language? There was no such record anywhere. The goblin, uncaring of her thoughts, spun its spear.

“Seems like a proper knight. Won’t be as boring as those last humans.”

The goblin twisted its lips in delight. Rayka swallowed. This goblin was unusual.

“Take your stance. You wouldn’t want to die doing nothing, would you?”

Unconcerned with her confusion, the goblin lowered itself into stance. Rayka quickly adjusted her stance. It was a goblin, no matter what.

The moment she thought that, the spear moved.

Screech!

“Argh!”

She was flung back with a groan. Pain shot through her wrist as she barely maintained her stance. The spear’s movement was crisp, unbelievably so. Rayka tried to counter, but she was too overwhelmed even to consider it. She felt like screaming.

What. Kind of goblin is this!

As she reached her limit, the spear halted.

“Don’t tell me that’s all.”

The goblin’s eyes filled with disappointment. Something surged inside Rayka.

“Then try blocking this!”

Her hand quivered. Her sword created afterimages as it surged towards the goblin.

Dozens of illusions. Across the continent, hardly anyone could match her proficiency in Lepenia’s swordsmanship. Even a swordmaster could be momentarily dazzled by her elaborate sword movements. However, the goblin coolly managed its spear.

Scatter!

The spear created afterimages, physical ones brought about by pure speed. It wiped away all her illusions in an instant. The view cleared.

“Oh.”

That was a movement made by someone who had reached the pinnacle of their art. A monster displayed the swordmanship she had longed to see.

Rayka watched the goblin in a daze.



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