Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 37

Chapter 37: The Captain of the Guard (2)

A monster, as colossal as Mount Tai, writhed its body. It was visible only as a silhouette due to the distance, yet the aftermath resonated all the way here.

The sky wavered and the earth shattered. The monster’s power mocking the gods themselves, changing the heaven and earth.

[Roaaarrr!]

With the roar, the air trembled. Simultaneously, an explosion obscured the creature. A loud boom followed by agonizing screams echoed as the monster fell.

“Is this the end of the Black Forest then?”

An old man murmured. His hair had turned white with age, and his face was deeply lined, yet the muscles etched across his body defied time. Someone approached from the direction the monster had fallen.

“Phew, that was tough.”

“Haivan.”

“Oh, hello. Long time no see, huh?”

The middle-aged man with black hair and eyes greeted him with a broad smile. Despite their similar age, one could easily mistake them for father and son given their appearances. The old man said drily,

“Was there a need to call this old body after being retired for ten years? You heroes should have handled it.”

“Haha, you know we’re bad at dealing with aftereffects. That’s always been your role.”

“There must be successors for that.”

“He’s not quite trustworthy. After all, you’ve spent the most time with us. It wasn’t just any incident.”

“What are you doing here?”

A melodious voice rang out. A woman with blue hair, shaking the blood off her sword, approached with a stern face. Haivan grinned and waved at her.

“Lefenia. An old friend has come. Take a look.”

“Friend? More like a servant cleaning up the mess.”

“…I was wrong to expect a kind reaction from you.”

Lefania spoke in an icy tone, but the old man didn’t respond. He just watched as the Black Forest, burning and vanishing, laid before him.

“The demise of the Black Forest.”

The mightiest forest on the continent, repelling humans and sheltering elves as an avatar of the World Tree.

For thousands of years, it had protected the elves. Now, it was completely consumed by fire.

The reason was one: tampering with evil.

Haivan shrugged.

“It couldn’t be helped, right? One of the elf elders suddenly went mad and summoned that thing. We were on the brink of continental destruction.”

One of the Black Forest’s elf elders desired the downfall of humans. Maybe it was because his child was taken as a slave, or perhaps the abuse he suffered in his own youth as a slave. The reason was unknown, but the elf harbored hatred for humans and initiated this method.

He tampered with a forbidden tome and, using the forest as a conduit, summoned an existence from beyond darkness.

A flittering monster whose mere appearance caused ordinary folks to lose their sight, and proximity incited madness.

Within two days, this monster had engulfed a quarter of the continent and truly was formidable. Some even loudly proclaimed it as the end of the world.

However, in front of the individuals present, the monster fell within a week. Lefenia massaged her shoulders.

“It’s stiff. I haven’t exerted this much power since the Demon King.”

“It was strong. Stronger than the Demon King in terms of sheer power?”

“What was troublesome about the Demon King was the number and intelligence. I’m still uneasy about the last words that thing spat out. What was that about?”

“Probably just the struggles of a loser.”

“Even so, it was strange.”

As they engaged in trivial chatter, the old man started walking away, seeming ready to leave. Haivan, surprised, asked,

“Leaving already?”

“The monster is down, and the forest has burned down. It looks like my job here is done. The successors can handle the rest.”

“Still, stay for a bit. In a few hours, there’s a celebration. There will be many faces you know. How about coming?”

“…It’s been ten years, hasn’t it? I guess I can watch a bit longer.”

Lefenia unusually looked anxious as she tried to stop the departing old man. However, he shook his head.

“That’s enough. What’s the use of a commoner among heroes? Have fun.”

“There are many waiting for you.”

“I am a coward, you see.”

Haivan didn’t hold him back further, knowing once the old man made up his mind, it was set. Lefenia bit her lip.

“Lies.”

“Then next time we meet might be after death. See you in the afterlife.”

The old man walked away, crushing ashes underfoot as he did so. In no time, he was far from his companions. A stench of burnt flesh and acrid smell filled the air. The once glorious forest was now completely obliterated.

Only corpses surrounded him—those of humans and elves, indistinguishable.

Tough times ahead, he thought of his successor.

“Cough. Cough.”

Just then, a cough sounded. The ash-covered ground trembled and soon, someone rose.

It was an elf girl. She rapidly looked around in the ashen desolation, covering her mouth suddenly as her pupils shook and tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Uh… Ah…”

Slowly the old man approached the sobbing girl. The elf’s usually proud fair skin was covered with ash, turned to a grayish hue.

“A high elf, perhaps.”

Judging by her attire, she could be the elder’s child. Perhaps a barrier was created to save his own child. Uncharacteristic of elves, or perhaps all too human.

She might be the sole survivor of the Black Forest. If it becomes known, she might not survive intact. All the blame and hatred would be directed at this small child. Could she withstand it?

“Child.”

“…”

The girl slowly turned her gaze to him. Her eyes held multiple flickers of emotion.

“Will you come with me?”

“…”

“The choice is yours. What you decide to do after following me is also your freedom. I will not interfere.”

The girl didn’t respond, only lowered her head. The old man didn’t rush, waiting instead. After several minutes, the girl reached out and grabbed the hem of his robe.

“Your name is.”

“…Arwayna.”

The girl said, her face blank as she

He murmured, “Areina Vasilis.”

***

The carriage entered the domain. The residents gazed in admiration at the guards protecting him.

“Wow…”

“Are those the guards? I envy them…”

Being a guard for the empire was quite a favorable occupation. Receiving the empire’s support meant safety, and the treatment and public perception were certainly positive.

Respected and well-compaid, there was no reason to refuse such a job. Though highly competitive, it was well worth it.

The carriage moved past the people and approached the castle. The castle gate opened, and there awaited the lord, his household, and his retainers. Then, the carriage door opened.

“Ah.”

Someone gasped involuntarily. What came out of the carriage wasn’t human, but an elf. Lerebrok swallowed at the sight.

‘Elves are known for their beauty.’

It was as if they were sculpted by gods. Unhumanly perfect features. Their brown skin reflected the sunlight.

“My lord is busy with work, so I have come in his stead.”

As the elf bowed, his ash-gray hair fluttered softly. His purple eyes met Lerebrok’s, who quickly composed himself. He nodded.

“Pleased to meet you. I am the lord of the Iryak domain, Lerebrok.”

“Areina Vasilis. I am the captain of the imperial guards.”

***

“Tsck.”

Lerebrok clicked his tongue. He had entered the meeting room with the retainers and the captain, but it seemed like the discussion wasn’t about to start anytime soon. Finally, Lerebrok waved his hand.

“Leave us.”

“My lord.”

“But…”

“What else would you have us do? Continue to make a fool of ourselves?”

As Lerebrok growled, his retainers avoided his gaze, mesmerized by the elf’s beauty and barely listening. Lerebrok banged the table.

“Get out. There will be consequences later.”

“…Understood.”

The retainers stood up. They kept glancing at the elf as they left, and Lerebrok sighed deeply as the door finally shut. Areina observed the whole scene impassively.

“Sorry you had to see that disgraceful display.”

“It’s okay.”

The elf responded indifferently.

“I’m used to it.”

“…My apologies.”

Lerebrok groaned. Despite his higher status, his power was incomparable to hers—a lord of a rural estate versus a captain overseeing all guards, capable of throwing the empire into chaos if so desired.

“Where is the goblin being held?”

“In the dungeon within the domain. It’s dedicated solely to the goblin, no other prisoners.”

“Have there been any problems?”

Areina’s brow twitched slightly.

“Based on the information you provided, it seems difficult to contain with just a dungeon.”

“I thought so too and increased the guards… but it’s surprisingly quiet. Could be a trick to lower our guard.”

That wasn’t the case. The goblin had been defeated. A loser follows the winner’s commands. That was why it was quietly complying.

However, Areina wouldn’t know this and her thought was rational.

“It’s a possibility.”

“Let’s discuss how things have been going.”

Lerebrok began explaining the situation. How it happened, how the goblin was defeated. As he finished, Areina quietly spoke.

“Accurate indeed.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. There were aspects we were unaware of. They were documented, but I had doubts about their reliability.”

Records can seem strange to those who haven’t experienced them firsthand. Hence, they were put off until results were seen. Now, the results were right before her eyes.

“Impressive, to employ such methods.”

“Hmm.”

A smile appeared on Lerebrok’s face. Compliments were always welcome.

“Truth be told, it wasn’t my idea. It was a child who had fought the goblin personally and informed me—a disciple of Lord Haiban.”

Lerebrok’s mention made Areina’s expression change momentarily, but it was so brief that Lerebrok didn’t notice.

“That child.”

Areina spoke, hesitating slightly before continuing decisively.

“…Can I meet him?”

“Hm? There’s no reason you cannot. He should be training right about now.”

While curious, Lerebrok didn’t pry further. Instead, he saw it as a favorable opportunity. If it could establish a connection between the guard captain and the child, it would be beneficial for him as well. He rose from his seat.

“Let’s go see him now.”

***

“This child I spoke of is here. Asher. Say hello.”

“…Can I know what’s going on?”

Suddenly appearing with the bronzed-skin elf, Asher pressed his forehead.

“Ah. I suppose you wouldn’t know. I thought Reika would have told you.”

“I did hear something, but I didn’t expect you to suddenly bring her here.”

On their way to the training grounds, Lerebrok had unexpectedly introduced Areina. With a stone-faced expression, she looked down at him. Asher bowed.

“Nice to meet you, Areina Vasilis, Captain of the imperial guard.”

Addressing his foster daughter with such formality felt peculiar. Asher’s gaze lingered on Areina.

‘Twenty years’ time.’

His memories differed significantly. The cheeks that were once less hollow were now fully contoured, and she had grown into a mature woman.

Undoubtedly beautiful, yet rather than being enchanted, he felt awkward.

Elves, being long-lived, developed slowly. He never thought he would see this child reach adulthood, but yet here she was. The passage of time felt all the more palpable.

‘Now,’

How should he address her? Given she was his foster daughter, reacting normally seemed difficult.

There was much he wanted to ask, but to her now, he was just an unrelated boy. She wouldn’t answer.

While he contemplated, Areina spoke up.



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