Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 43

43. The Heart of the Empire (1)

The darkness clings, a darkness that devours the minds of men and summons madness. Within this darkness stood three men.

“I am old.”

The old man wrapped in a black robe spoke with a hoarse voice.

“I can no longer perform my role. My position must not disappear. It must be passed on eternally, by someone.”

Before the old man stood two men: a man with an expressionless face and a man with a troubled but amiable face.

“I need a successor.”

The amiable-faced man spoke up.

“That’s an overwhelming burden.”

“I felt the same. You will too. The important thing is whether you are qualified, just that one thing.”

The old man’s trembling fingers moved, brushing past the expressionless man and stopping at the amiable-faced man, whose face filled with surprise.

“Me… you mean?”

“You are qualified. I am sorry, my boy.”

The old man apologized in a frail voice to the stoic man.

“You are not qualified. You might withstand great power, but you cannot embrace it.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

The expressionless man responded indifferently.

“I never wanted such power in the first place.”

***

Before entering the capital, Leika had one worry.

“How will we enter?”

All the slaves lacked identification cards. He was sure this would cause problems and prepared thoroughly. Yet, all that worry was for naught.

“Please come this way.”

“…That was simple.”

Leika looked at the guiding guard with a grim face. Asher waved a paper in his hand.

“We have a recommendation letter.”

With the recommendation letter from the captain of the guard, they could avoid most troubles unless they committed murder.

Following the guards, they entered a reception room. As they sipped tea provided by a guard, soon the door opened.

“Hello.”

A middle-aged man entered and bowed.

“My name is Kain, the head of the security team. It is nice to meet you.”

“…Isn’t the captain of the guard here?”

“No, he is currently out on the outskirts due to his duties and can’t return immediately. I apologize for not meeting your expectations.”

“That’s alright.”

It was unfortunate timing, but he could meet him anytime later, so there was no rush. Kain sat down, moistened his lips with tea, and began speaking.

“First of all, thank you. For beating up the slave traders, and for bringing those who were enslaved here. You are a righteous person.”

“No, not really.”

Leika waved his hand, and Asher quietly opened his mouth.

“Aren’t you going to verify this?”

“Considering you’re a disciple of a Swordmaster and have a recommendation letter from the captain, I don’t think you would lie.”

“That’s fortunate.”

Avoiding trouble and annoying situations, authority was indeed useful. The conversation that followed was light, about dealing with those who had been enslaved.

“Most have relatives here, so we’re not planning on doing anything special. They have their belongings too. But it’s strange. The slave traders. They said their destination was the capital?”

“Yes.”

“…That’s odd. As you know, the empire strongly prohibits slavery, especially so in the capital. Being caught means immediate execution. Why here…?”

Kain tilted his head in confusion. Thinking about it, it was indeed a foolish act, like moths to a flame. But Hanban had said the capital was their destination.

‘Maybe I should have kept one alive to learn their goal.’

He regretted it but it was too late. Personal disdain had clouded his judgment.

“It might just be a lie. Slave traders wouldn’t hold truth in their mouths.”

“That might be true, but something bothers me. Could I know the name? It’s likely a false name, but I still need to check.”

Hanban’s name was explained, and Kain expressed his thanks.

“Thank you. You may go see to your business now.”

“Yes.”

They left the building. Leika breathed a sigh of relief.

“Phew. No trouble.”

“Did you expect something to happen?”

“No, but the lack of reaction made me a bit nervous. Even though he’s a noble, he was so calm.”

“This is the capital.”

No soldier here was intimidated by nobility, especially those from rural domains.

“Ah. There you are.”

Gerran approached them.

“Weren’t you leaving?”

“Still, you’re our benefactor. At least a greeting is due. What will you do now? You said you knew that old man. If it’s alright with you, would you follow me?”

“That wouldn’t be bad.”

He thought about seeing an old friend. If it was about succession, death must be near. He should see him at least once before death.

But not now.

Asher shook his head.

“I have some business first.”

“What business?”

“The Gate of the Sword.”

“What?”

Gerran’s face showed confusion, slowly asking,

“Why there?”

“I have business there.”

“Uhmm. Now that I think about it, you were a swordsman. Then, I suppose it makes sense.”

Grudgingly understanding, Gerran fiddled with his chin. The boy waved his hand as he left.

“See you later!”

“Sure.”

Asher waved back. Leika tilted his head.

“What’s the Gate of the Sword?”

“…You really don’t knowatio

“You seem to have no interest other than history.”

“I know all the famous places too, you know? Isn’t the place you’re aiming for quite well-known? Why wouldn’t I know it?”

“It’s not that famous.”

To be precise, it was famous in the past. But not anymore. Caron was looking at Asher with a puzzled face.

“Why go there?”

“Since you’re also a knight, you must know. I have my own business to attend to.”

Just as he was about to move, Raika grabbed Asher.

“Where are you going?”

“To take care of some business.”

“We have to go to the academy first! Why are you trying to slip away alone!”

“It’s bothersome.”

“It’s an order from your employer! Come quickly!”

Raika forcibly dragged Asher away.

***

Asher did not resist. He also had some interest in seeing the academy.

The place from which he had graduated. Although not fond, memories were memories.

Upon arriving at the academy, Raika’s eyes lit up.

“This is where I will be staying.”

The academy was more enormous than any lord’s castle, hosting hundreds of nobles with its inherent grandeur.

‘Not much has changed.’

The structure was exactly as before. Caron was also looking around the academy with a nostalgic gaze.

‘This guy was the top student.’

That was similar. He was first among the back rows. Raika excitedly waved her hand.

“Let’s go!”

“Yes, miss.”

Following Raika, they approached the reception where a sullen-faced man was fiddling with a pen.

“We came to apply for a transfer.”

“A transfer?”

“Yes. You should have received the application form.”

“I’m not sure. There are supposed to be hundreds of transfer applications. What’s the name?”

“Raika Halvarc, the eldest daughter of the Iraak domain.”

“…True, wait…”

The man grimaced suddenly.

“Damn, again? Can’t we stop accepting these nobodies?”

“…Pardon?”

Raika was taken aback. The man continued to grumble, ignoring her.

“They wouldn’t last even a month, why do we keep accepting them?”

Raika’s face hardened rapidly. Caron’s face began to redden too.

‘As expected.’

Only Asher calmly observed the scene.

The academy, a place where nobles trained in swordsmanship, was proud of its staff. There wasn’t a guide who would cower before a rural noble.

Moreover, Raika was sixteen – quite a late age to enter the academy. It wasn’t an ideal time for a transfer.

The guide seemed intent on complaining.

“Is it about money? We have a dignity to maintain as an academy. Damn it.”

“That’s rude.”

Finally, Caron could not hold back and stepped forward.

“Apologize to the lady immediately. If not, I will take action.”

“Apologize for what.”

The guide gave a snort, his face filled with irritation as he started to reach for a bell to call the security but then hesitated.

“…Could it be.”

The guide looked up at Caron’s face doubtfully and spoke.

“You. Your name?”

“Sir Caron Halvarc.”

“…Caron.”

The guide’s expression changed dramatically. He quickly stood up and bowed deeply.

“My, what an honor!”

“What, what?”

“Huh? You know Caron?”

Taken aback by the sudden change, Caron flinched. The guide stammered with excitement.

“I, I belonged to the 124th batch.”

“Ah.”

Realization dawned on Caron’s face.

“…I was from the 122nd.”

“Yes. You might not remember me, but I know about you, Sir Caron.”

The guide had watched him during his time as the top student at the academy.

“Although I never became a knight… Sir Caron, you are still my idol.”

“That’s remarkable.”

Asher murmured, causing Caron’s face to turn red with a different kind of embarrassment.

“…I’m not someone of such worth.”

“What are you saying? Sir Caron, you were a legend then. You alone attacked the bandits’ lair, rescued the captured comrades, and won all thirty duels against swordsmen. Every noble, even the duke wanted to bestow knighthood upon you.”

In those days, Caron was indeed a successful knight in his own right, a model for all.

“When Sir Caron suddenly disappeared, everyone was shocked. To think that a noble knight would serve a rural lord.”

Caron gave a wry smile.

“…That’s all in the past.”

“Did you know? Some friends of yours from the academy are also here.”

“…”

Caron’s face stiffened. The guide, oblivious, continued with an excited voice.

“It’s like a miracle, all the legends coming together again.”

“…You don’t know.”

“Pardon? What do you mean?”

“Never mind.”

Caron shook his head. Raika muttered quietly, her eyes filled with confusion.

“…Caron did that?”

Raika was surprised, not knowing much about Caron beyond him being a knight of the domain.

“…A legend? Unbeaten twenty years ago? …Really?”

“Yes.”

The guide answered confidently.

“Sir Caron was a knight beyond all others. Except for heroes, no one could match him in ten bouts.”

Caron’s past was indeed extraordinary. It was mysterious why he would swear loyalty to a domain like Iraak.

“That’s strange.”

Thus Raika was perplexed.

“You lost to me, didn’t you?”



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