The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 202

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin

Chapter 202. The Essence of Mist (1)

In a monastery situated in Brenu, a southern city of the Ushif Empire, a sermon is being delivered in a dim underground square that never sees the light.

“Humans’ lives are not eternal. Likewise, there is nothing eternal in all of creation. After all, the order maintaining the current peace is no different.”

As if enchanted by the monk’s eloquent rhetoric, most of the congregation couldn’t draw their eyes away, all but one—Schultz, who is sitting rigidly, only his eyes darting about.

‘What is this? These people are like a bunch of fanatics!’

Schultz happened upon a secret signal in the streets and infiltrated this place, but that’s where things became problematic. He thought there might be some connection to the Mist, but there wasn’t. The people here were just weak-minded followers, either entranced by or inducing others to succumb to some specific entity called the mist.

Being a mercenary isn’t for nothing. One can infer a lot about a person just by their eyes. The majority here must have spent their lives buried in books. All except for one man sitting right next to him.

Humans can see much without eyes, using instead the physical senses honed through experience. The man beside him had thick hands that didn’t match his small, slim frame. A body that seemed to have muscles but no fat, and even from a distance, the clear veins on his arms were visible.

A lion doesn’t look like a herbivore just because it grazes on grass. Schultz was certain that the man beside him was, like himself, hiding his true identity and had come to this place for a reason.

As the sermon that seemed to flow without notice came to an end, Schultz quickly followed the man as he hurried out of the monastery. The man headed toward the outskirts of the city, avoiding contact with anyone else. Just when it seemed he was getting away, he abruptly stopped in his tracks. He gave a cursory glance around before suddenly slipping into an alley off the main road. Schultz hurried after him, not wanting to lose sight.

Turning corner after corner, deeper into the obscure parts of the city, Schultz pursued doggedly, not letting the man out of his sight. Then, in an instant:

“……?”

The man vanished. Surprised, Schultz turned around to find—

“……!”

The man he had been following was now right in front of him. Sensing a threat, Schultz drew his sword from his cloak.

-Clang!

A quick decision saved his life. The tip of the man’s dagger was aimed straight at Schultz’s neck. After blocking the surprise attack, Schultz wasted no time in putting some distance between them. With tension rising, his heart pounded and sweat trickled down his back.

Finding no way to explain or escape, Schultz decided to make a bet that put his life on the line.

-Clank

With a loud metallic sound, the man’s brow furrowed slightly as Schultz threw his sword to the ground in front of him.

“My name is Schultz. I have no family name.”

Then, raising his hands to show he had no intention to attack, he said,

“You are, so to speak, a true follower of the Mist, aren’t you?”

The man said nothing, staring at Schultz with an unyielding gaze.

“I certainly felt it in the monastery! That you are different from those monks reciting bizarre doctrines! I came here to find you all…!”

Without needing to hear more, the man who had put away his sword turned away indifferently. Desperate, Schultz called out, watching his retreating figure.

“I want to join the Mist!”

The words were too compelling to ignore, and the man turned back. His eyes, though relentless, did not have the same impact as those of the man he had seen in the Kingdom of Garam. Composing himself, Schultz manifested a sphere of mana in his hand.

Dark and dense with shadow attributes, the mana illustrated his suitability for the organization, an offering of proof.

The man watched in silence as Schultz presented his power.

After a moment, he turned away once more, but then, with a brief nod, he signaled for Schultz to follow. Swallowing hard, Schultz did just that.

* * *

Mercenaries often share stories with their comrades. They usually revolve around desires like money or women, but one topic that comes up from time to time was the Mist, the continent’s foremost assassination group.

They moved not for money or wealth, but to fulfill their ideology and doctrines. If ever one were to encounter them, they were advised to abandon the mission immediately, regardless of contracts or payments. It was not about whether one could defeat the assassins but rather because they were not driven by conventional desires. Their readiness to sacrifice their lives for their cause meant there was nothing to gain by confronting them.

In a hut deep in the forest outside the city, Schultz was entering a world far removed from his known reality. The hut could barely fit two people, but inside was a powerful, undeniable presence.

The man gestured for Schultz to enter.

Taking a deep breath, Schultz went inside, the man following. The room was bare, save for a small dagger resting alone on an old wooden table. It was clearly no ordinary knife; whatever it emitted was disquieting and awakened dark feelings. It was not a weapon one wanted to hold.

“Take it,” the man finally spoke.

Schultz hesitated at first, but then, firm in resolve, he grasped the handle.

-Woosh!

The black mist from the blade swirled out, filling the space.

Suddenly, Schultz found himself not in the hut but a strange place obscured by mist. A disconcerting figure emerged in front of him in this unfamiliar space—a man with jet-black hair and piercing eyes that resembled someone he knew very well. Though human in shape, he felt distinctly inhuman.

Blood-red tears fell from his eyes, and he clutched a blood-stained dagger. But the most perplexing part was the uncanny resemblance—this other man looked exactly like Schultz. It was as if he was looking at another version of himself from an unknown future.

The bloody tears were filled with rage and desire to kill, emotions Schultz had never known in his life.

“Haah…”

The doppelganger advanced ominously—not to greet, but clearly to kill. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Schultz understood this was a trial. Overcoming it would prove his worth and open the path forward. Clutching his weapon, Schultz prepared to fight.

As if on cue, the other Schultz charged.

-Clang!

An attack aimed at the face, particularly the eyes. Though the trajectory was clearly visible, allowing for a defense, the force behind it was astonishing, far exceeding anything Schultz could imagine himself capable of.

As Schultz tried to create some distance out of panic:

“Grk!”

The other Schultz wouldn’t allow it. As if to say Schultz had entered his domain with no escape, the other’s red dagger drew closer to his face, carrying the cold of impending death. The moment the bloody blade touched his neck…

-Whoosh!

The consuming mist cleared in an instant as Schultz found himself back in the small hut. The man looked down at the now-collapsed Schultz with a disdainful expression.

“What you encountered was another aspect of you — consumed by vengeance, rage, and thirst for blood. It’s a fierce force that can bring forth humanity’s frail nature in its purest form. But obsessively gained power without reason inevitably leads to self-destruction.”

It was a potent power, obtainable at the expense of blood and tears. To Schultz, who had experienced it firsthand, no further explanation was necessary.

“However, those who can’t overcome their rage-infested self…”

The man casually picked up the dagger from the table and tucked it away.

“…have no right to wield an assassin’s blade.”

With that, he left Schultz behind, stepping outside without another glance. Alone, Schultz lay down, utterly spent.

“Overcome an anger-infested me? Is that even possible?”

It was not a complaint for failing the trial but a genuine question.

“What kind of lives have you people lived?”

Schultz realized, keenly feeling with his entire being, that he was yet far from reaching the realm where these individuals existed.

* * *

“Have you no regrets?”

“Since the day I began my service to Lord Aer, I have eagerly awaited this moment. Why would there be anything to regret?”

“I’m just wondering if there’s any need to rush.”

“An assassin knows that hesitation is akin to death. Why would you, of all people, ask me this?”

“You always have a point.”

Footsteps approached quickly, someone closing in on their location. It was sooner than anticipated; could there be an issue? Aer was willing to intercede if necessary.

“There’s no need. I shall conclude this mind communion. Please, observe with interest…”

“Such harsh words.”

Aer vanished into the mist alongside his parting comment. As Silica opened her eyes, she saw Sian before her, impassive as always, though now his gaze carried a sharper edge.

“You have something to say, then speak.”

“What is it you want to say?”

“I communicated everything through the mission orders, didn’t I?”

“Do you mean the blank paper with nothing on it?”

“You understood it well then.”

Silica looked at Sian, tilting her head as if questioning any issue.

“Is there a problem? Do you think I’ll hesitate to assassinate Princess Arin?”

She could understand if that were the reason. But she knew Sian knew her well enough that wouldn’t be the case. There must be another, deeper reason for excluding her, Sian must have thought.

“To say you wouldn’t hesitate…”

Silica throws an unexpected question back at Sian.

(To be continued…)

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