Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 41

Crackle, crackle.

In the darkness, the campfire blazed brightly. The chilly autumn wind seemed intent on swallowing the flames as it rushed in from all directions, but the fire only grew more vigorous.

“Brrr.”

Reyka shivered and moved closer to the fire.

“It’s quite cold…”

“It’s autumn after all. It’s bound to be cold.”

“My lady, you should cover yourself with a blanket.”

“Thank you.”

Reyka wrapped herself with the blanket handed to her by Caron. She seemed a bit relieved, muttering softly.

“Travelling is tough.”

“That’s the basics. It’s rarer these days to travel by carriage like before.”

Asher spoke while tearing into some jerky. Caron, with a calm expression, continued to stoke the fire.

“Still, it’s good.”

Reyka said cheerfully.

“I’ve always dreamed about this. Traveling, meeting new people, and facing dangers together.”

Caron smirked wryly, well aware of how naive such dreams were. He chose not to shatter those dreams by staying silent.

“Break it off.”

Asher bluntly told Reyka.

“Such gentle tales. They don’t exist in the real world.”

“What do you mean? They appear even in the sagas of heroes!”

“That’s not a saga; it’s an epic. Epics are meant to be bright and full of hope. They don’t show what happens afterward.”

“I still want them, though.”

Reyka muttered with a pout.

“As long as there are stories, it’s not entirely impossible, right? Then there’s a possibility.”

“There is a possibility.”

It was merely about as likely as getting struck by lightning twice in a row. Reyka frowned at Asher’s attitude.

“You neatly crushed a girl’s dream. How much longer do we have?”

“Three days, or maybe five.”

“Hmm. It won’t take too long then. But Caron, I never thought you’d come along. You turned down all the trips to the capital before.”

Caron had shown an obsessive aversion to the capital before. Now he smirked and spoke.

“I can’t keep running forever.”

“Running? What…”

At that moment, footsteps approached. Reyka clamped her mouth shut, and Caron gripped his sword. Asher turned his gaze.

Thump. Thump.

“Ah, a fire in such a place.”

A portly middle-aged man approached them. More footsteps and noisy chatter followed him, proving he wasn’t alone.

“Are you travelers?”

“Yes.”

Reyka nodded. The man smiled warmly and approached the fire.

“These are tough times to travel.”

Caron silently nodded. Despite his gruff attitude, which might have discouraged others, the man simply sat down with a friendly smile.

“Since we’ve met like this, could I perhaps borrow a bit of fire? In return, I’ll share some food with you.”

Caron glanced at Asher, who gave a faint nod, and Caron agreed. The man signaled the others, and they began moving logs and embers.

Soon, they settled down and started cooking meat and drinking. The atmosphere quickly turned boisterous.

“Ah, if the noise bothers you, I’ll tell them to quiet down.”

“No, it’s fine.”

Reyka shook her head. The man unpacked his things with a bright smile.

“Thank you for lending us some fire. We should repay you since it’s just about dinner time. Why don’t you join us?”

The man offered Reyka a piece of white bread. Asher took the bread and tasted a small bit.

“It’s rare to travel at this time of the year.”

It was late autumn, a time when, like hibernating animals, travelers would settle down to wait out the cold.

“We have business in the capital. We had to leave our town.”

“Oh, fresh out of the gate then. Oh wait, we haven’t properly introduced ourselves. I am Haban.”

“I’m Reyka.”

“Reyka. That’s a nice name.”

Haban smiled amicably. The affable man had a knack for brightening the atmosphere.

“You seem to be a noble’s child… am I right?”

“Yes. But it’s not a grand place. Just a rural estate.”

Reyka waved her hand dismissively. Excitement was painted all over her face.

She had only left her estate once before, and even that was for a distressing arranged marriage, so she hadn’t gotten a proper look around.

These were the first outsiders she had met other than merchants visiting their estate. It was natural for her to be curious.

“Even though you’re nobility, it’s quite daring of you to embark on a journey like this.”

Haban examined them from head to toe as he spoke. The movement was too slight for Reyka to notice as she vigorously shook her head.

“It’s not like that. I just have business in the capital.”

Asher finally spoke up, his voice low.

“And what about you all? You seem to be quite a large group. Are you part of a trading company?”

Beyond the group of noisy men enjoying their drink, several wagons were visible, covered with tarps that hid their contents, but their number suggested this was no small company.

“Yes, we too have business in the capital.”

“Is business doing well?”

“Oh, don’t even mention it.”

Haban waved his hand dismissively.

“With the times being so hard, it’s no small talk. It’s been a bad economy for years now.”

“I see.”

“Really. The world is becoming more dangerous. Monsters appearing right near the capital, those beast-like creatures showing themselves.”

Haban began to ramble by himself, hinting at something more with his tone.

Since the empire itself is so powerful, there’s rarely anything wrong inside…

“It’s not like that outside. Our caravan moves around quite a bit, so we get news fast. Have you heard of the Kingdom of Rabia?”

“Yes, it’s a famous place. Is there something wrong?”

“It has fallen.”

“Really?”

At the news, Raika was astonished, and Asher’s face slightly hardened. Unaware of this, the speaker continued.

“It’s just a rumor, but it seems quite credible. No one who has gone there has returned.”

“What happened there?”

“They say the king went mad and killed all his people. Or that a plague broke out and all the residents turned into the undead. There are many rumors. Even the great wizard has vanished without a trace. Tsk. It’s sad to hear such a once-glorious place has fallen. I thought it was just a false rumor at first.”

The speaker clicked his tongue in pity, though there was no sadness visible on his face. Asher silently tore into his bread.

“Rumors say even the imperial capital is unstable… Really, with the state of the world, even a small caravan like ours finds it hard to make a living.”

“When times are dire, there are still trades to be made, aren’t there? You could engage in those.”

“That’s true.”

Boosted by Asher’s response, the speaker grinned widely, but silence soon fell, and some men, having been drinking, staggered over.

“Leader, are you eating?”

“Yes.”

“This person here, a traveler? Nice to meet you! Traveling in such times, you really know romance!”

As the man approached, the drinking area subtly drew closer. The festive atmosphere filled the room.

Raika’s face flushed with excitement, unaccustomed to such festive situations, it was a joyful moment for her.

Meanwhile, the expressions on Caron and Asher grew increasingly somber. Asher impassively watched the group then spoke.

“What kind of caravan are you, exactly?”

The wagons moved ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly. The speaker replied casually,

“Just a caravan that sells exotic animals. I really don’t understand the hobbies of rich people. Paying so much for such things. Well, as long as it brings business, it’s good for us.”

“Really.”

“Sorry, but that won’t be possible.”

The speaker shook his head.

“They get stressed easily. That’s why we keep them completely covered under tents. Each one has a high price, so they must be handled as if dealing with nobility. It’s strange, who is the master after all?”

“The masters, huh.”

Asher muttered as if it was humorous, but made no further comment and opened his water bottle.

The drinking scene grew livelier. Emboldened by alcohol, the speaker’s face flushed red.

“Why don’t we go together?”

“Together?”

“To the capital. If our destinations align. It’s better to be noisy than alone, especially since you’re not carrying a weapon; it could be dangerous nowadays. The time is indeed perilous.”

“Is it dangerous?”

“Yes. There could be monsters, wild animals. It’s best to stick together.”

It wasn’t wrong, just laughable. Raika seemed to consider before speaking.

“Yes, that sounds good.”

“That’s great! Let’s have a drink to our journey together!”

The speaker offered a brimming glass with a hearty laugh. The murky liquid swirled.

“Earlier it was dangerous to offer you a drink, but now, with more company, it’s not a concern. If you get drunk, we can look after you.”

“I’m not good with alcohol…”

Raika crinkled her nose at the musty smell and stepped back, but the speaker persisted, clinging to her.

“Don’t be like that. It’s all part of the experience. You said you were a noble’s child, right? When you travel, you drink this kind of alcohol.”

Caron tensed up, rising to intervene. At that moment, Asher grabbed his hand and quietly shook his head. Unaware of their situation, Raika stumbled in her words.

“Is that so?”

“Yes, yes.”

Raika reluctantly couldn’t refuse the persistent offer and finally grasped the cup.

“Just a sip then?”

“Ha ha, certainly. How about you?”

Asher took the cup offered to him. A strangely sweet yet alien scent hit his nose.

“Here. Down it. Down it.”

The speaker urged with a smile.

Raika swallowed nervously and brought the cup to her lips.

Asher quietly lifted his own.

Then simultaneously, another hand held a sword.

Thunk.

“…Huh?”

The sound of flesh being penetrated was heard. The speaker dumbly looked at his chest where the sword hilt was buried.

“This, this is…”

Fumbling, he attempted to pull it out, but the pierced heart could not be helped.

He collapsed. Blood flowed, chilling in the autumn air.

In an instant, silence fell. Ignoring the men staring dumbfoundedly, Asher overturned his cup.

“Asher?”

Splash.

The liquid, with a putrid smell, seeped into the earth, mixing with the blood, slowly spreading in an odd color.

“Asher! What are you doing!”

Raika screamed. Caron snatched the cup from her hand.

“Calm down, Miss. These men are not righteous.”

“What, what?”

“The empire does not permit trafficking in exotic animals.”

Caron ground his teeth with contempt.

That was a kind of slang. Those who do not regard humans as humans. Those who trade humans as if they were mere goods.

Asher scoffed.

“Slave traders, coming all the way here. The world must indeed be grim.”



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