Reincarnation of the Swordmaster Chapter 53

They walked in silence, no demons appeared as before. They simply walked through the pitch-black darkness, unable to see even an inch ahead.

At the end of the corridor, they arrived at a wide plaza. In the middle of the plaza, there was a high throne, and someone was sitting on it.

“Master!”

“……”

At Ge’ren’s shout, the person on the throne slowly lifted their face, obscured by darkness, making their expression invisible.

“…My disciple. It has been a long time.”

Ge’ren staggered at the strangely twisted voice. He grimaced, clenched his fists, and spoke.

“How could this be! Why Master!”

“I am perfectly fine. In fact, I have never felt more at peace.”

“…You were here, Lord Crocus.”

Ar’eina stepped forward with a stiff face, feeling as if the face beyond the darkness was smiling faintly.

“Ah, yes. Ar’eina. I was here. Before and even now, in this place.”

“…but it was known you had disappeared.”

“It wasn’t disappearance. I merely hid myself to see how things would unfold without me. It was quite interesting to watch.”

Ar’eina bit her lip, instinctively feeling something was amiss. The Crocus she knew, the master of the underworld she was seeing after so long, was very different from her memories.

“…Anyhow, it’s good you are here. Lord Crocus. Please, take care of Mara. It’s spreading, and if not checked, it could influence the empire itself.”

Yet, she ignored these points, holding onto hope as she always did when speaking to Crocus. The man shadowed in darkness slowly opened his mouth.

“Why should I?”

“…What?”

Ar’eina’s eyes wavered, her false hopes beginning to shatter. Crocus continued calmly.

“Why should I harbor these beings?”

“…But you are the master of the underworld!”

Ar’eina screamed, like a child denying the death of a family member.

“Lord Crocus, aren’t you the one who swallows the darkness of the world! What are you doing denying your own role!”

“To swallow the darkness, that’s not incorrect. Yes. My role has been to consume the things of this world and to widen the boundary between the demon world and this world.”

Crocus murmured, but his tone was anything but affirmative—rather, it sounded like he was mocking his own stupidity.

“A damnable hero defeated Mara long ago. That’s why my role disappeared.”

At Crocus’s words, Ar’eina flinched. His words rang with truth. As soon as the hero defeated the Demon King, all Mara in existence was eradicated.

“At first, it was fine. I contained the darkness within me and prevented it from escaping. But doubts grew over time.”

Crocus laughed, and in response, the pervasive darkness around them began to stir. The guards gripped their weapons tighter, their hands shaking.

“I am a bearer of Mara, but there is no darkness in this world. Then why should I exist? Why must I be bound to this cursed confinement? Why must I be trapped here forever in this narrow underground?”

This was a denial of self, the fury of one who has lost his worth. Ar’eina stepped back amidst these emotional outbursts. Crocus snarled.

“This is the end.”

Whoosh.

The darkness spread. The darkness engulfing Crocus moved along the ground.

“I will lay down everything. I will cut off the chains that suffocate myself and reclaim my freedom.”

“Ugh…”

“Oh!”

The darkness deepened, gripping the ankles of the guards, hindering their movement. Crocus spoke to Ge’ren, who was staring blankly at him.

“So, my disciple. Let’s talk.”

At that moment, darkness enveloped them both.

He ignored it. Geleon grimaced.

“I don’t want to!”

“You have no right to refuse. If you don’t like it, I’ll have to force you.”

“Eeek!”

Geleon tried to run away, but a streak of darkness stretched out and grabbed him.

Crocus slowly descended from his throne and approached Geleon. As the darkness that enveloped him receded, Crocus’s form was revealed — an old man, so aged he could barely support himself. Geleon shouted angrily.

“Why! Why! The master was kind! Why are you doing this!”

Though Geleon grumbled about the old man, he liked Crocus – his thoughts, values, and his heart. He had never wanted an outcome like this.

At Geleon’s words, Crocus’s eyes wavered. After hesitating, he sighed as if spilling out all his emotions.

“I am tired.”

“Tired…?”

“Yes. How long do you think I have been here? I’ve been trapped here for sixty years since I first received the succession of power.”

At Crocus’s words, Geleon faltered. Crocus gave a bitter smile.

“They say the world darkens just by me walking around, so I couldn’t even go outside. It’s packaged as a space just for me, but this is essentially a prison. A prison solely for me.”

“So, you’re trying to pass that responsibility onto me?”

“Hardly.”

Crocus shook his head.

“I am not so villainous. The power I am giving you is solely for surviving in this perilous world. You don’t have to be trapped in a prison like me.”

Crocus cornered his mouth as he spoke.

“Well, my apprentice, do you know what you must do to avoid being trapped in prison?”

A twisted laugh burst from him.

“Just turn the world into a prison!”

Darkness erupted, filling the space, creaking as it surged around. A massive darkness that could envelop the entire world began to swell.

“Spread, darkness! Stain everything so my apprentice is not shunned by the world!”

“Ah, ahhh!”

Geleon screamed. As someone familiar with magic, he immediately understood what Crocus was attempting.

Crocus was trying to dissolve the boundary between the demonic realm and the earthly realm.

Geleon shouted angrily.

“Stop this!”

“I cannot! If I do not do this, you too will be trapped here, living in suffering. It’s better this way.”

Crocus twisted his lips.

“[Cackle…]”

The space shook. Cracks of darkness spread, gradually revealing the horrific entities beyond. The world suddenly darkened, and those sensitive to such changes trembled in fear.

The demonic realm and the world began to converge.

Crocus burst into a mad laugh.

“In the past, those who tried to destroy the world were vanquished by heroes. But now, there are none left to stop me.”

“Nonsense.”

Crack.

“What?”

From somewhere, a voice broke through the darkness, which slowly began to recede. The rift closed, and the entities screaming as they were crushed. Crocus’s wrinkled face grew even more wrinkled.

“Who are you?”

“An intruder.”

Asher walked out of the darkness.

***

“[That was a close call.]”

The balance was disrupted because the darkness was broken, delaying its spread. Had it been delayed a little longer, the entities beyond the darkness might have emerged.

Crocus managed his expression and spoke.

“To break the darkness, you must be quite skilled.”

“Skilled, huh.”

That wasn’t it. He just smashed it with force.

Crocus waved his arm.

“So, are you the one who will stop me?”

The darkness spread. Like a tidal wave, it engulfed the guards and others.

“Someone like you! You think you can stop me!”

Emotion filled the darkness. The power exuded by a once-hero was enough to bring the weak to their knees and force their submission.

But to Asher, it was merely amusing.

“Abandoning your qualifications, rights, duties. A coward trying to run away spews nonsense.”

“You…”

As Asher calmly accepted the darkness, Crocus’s face contorted. Then, at Asher’s unexpected words, he stiffened like a puppet.

“I do not regret. This is the path I chose, the deed I wanted to do. So, my resolve will not change.”

“…….”

Crocus opened his mouth, but no words came out. Just staring blankly, incredulously at Asher.

“How…”

“This was the saying when you received the power, wasn’t it? Don’t you find it ridiculous? Decades of iron-willed resolve changing in just three years.”

“How dare you say that!”

Like a dragon prickled at its reverse scales, Crocus shook violently. Asher did not reply, simply raising his sword at Crocus.

“Here’s the thing. You’ve become evil. You are no longer a hero.”

And such beings were invariably defeated by heroes.

“I may not be a hero, but I can’t just watch you try to open the demonic realm.”

“…Someone like you.”

Crocus growled like a beast, glaring at Asher with hurt eyes.

“To defeat me? A being that’s neither hero nor villain! Nonsense! Be swallowed up, lose your self and fall into oblivion!”

The darkness moved. Power that made one lose their self and go mad. Unlike the power of lowly demons, it was an emotional torrent that could turn even a hero into a madman if completely absorbed.

“Hahahaha!”

“Aaaaah!”

It engulfed Asher. The darkness hid his form. Crocus burst into maniacal laughter as Geleon screamed.

“Now. Let’s talk again, my apprentice….”

Szzzik!

As Crocus turned, the air split. Instinctively realizing the danger, he ducked just as a spear brushed past, narrowly missing him.

“How, how!”

Surprised, Crocus turned around. From within the darkness, Asher walked out with an expressionless face.



Want to keep in touch ? Join our Discord : https://discord.gg/wMvrbbTzrG

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *