Reincarnation of the Swordmaster
Chapter 41 – To the Capital (2)
Translated by : betterdays
Proofread and Edited by : Hogu
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The bonfire burned brightly in the night sky. The chilly autumn wind rushed around the fire and swayed the flames violently as if to devour them whole.
Reika shuddered and glued herself to the bonfire.
“It’s quite cold…”
“It’s autumn. No wonder it’s getting cold.”
“Madam, cover yourself with a blanket.”
Reika, who received a blanket from Charon, wrapped it around her body. She murmured with a slightly less tense face, perhaps feeling a little better.
“It’s hard to travel.”
“This much is basic. It’s even rarer to ride in a carriage like before in these times.”
Asher opened the bag of jerky and spoke. Charon was adding more firewood to the campfire with a calm expression.
“It’s still good, though.”
Reika spoke with a bright face.
“I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time. Traveling, meeting new people, and taking risks with them.”
Asher smiled bitterly at Reika’s completely ladylike innocence. Charon was well aware of how far fetched the very idea that Reika had spoken about, was. Charon didn’t say anything to shatter that dream of Reika’s for her.
Asher spoke starkly to Reika.
“Such a gentle story won’t be found anywhere in the world as it is right now.”
“What? It’s in the heroes’ stories though!”
“That’s not their true lives, it’s a written epic. An Epic is just the beautiful poetry and storytelling of the heroes’ greatness. They hide the true plight and misery they went through to get there.”
“But I still want that.”
Reika murmured with a sullen face.
“You mean it’s not impossible because it’s just a story, right? Then there’s still a possibility.”
Asher’s curt tone and response made Reika make a rotten face.
“Well it’s still my dream since I’m still growing up! How much longer till we reach the Capital anyways?”
“Three or five days.”
“Well, it won’t take that long. By the way, Charon. I didn’t expect you to follow us. You refused to go to the capital initially, didn’t you?”
Charon made a very firm attitude in rejection about returning to the capital for some reason. Yet, this time, he smiled bitterly as he spoke about his decision to go with the children.
“I can’t run away forever either.”
“Run away? From what….”
At that moment, twigs cracked in the distance and slight footsteps could be heard. Reika shut up, and Charon grabbed the sword. Asher turned away.
Tat- Tat- Tat-
“What a place for a bonfire like this.”
A middle-aged man with an amicable expression approached. Following his appearance, there were more footsteps that could be heard behind him as if to explain that he was not alone.
“Are you all a group of travelers?”
Reika nodded her head. The man approached the campfire with a warm smile.
“How unique… traveling in these tough times.”
Charon nodded silently. The blunt and wary countenances of Asher and Charon were discouraging, but the man just smiled and sat down.
“It seems that it’s meant to be like this… can I borrow some of your embers? I’ll give you some food in return.”
Charon glanced away at Asher. Asher winked lightly, and Charon nodded. When the man beckoned behind him, the people waiting took out some firewood and borrowed some embers from their campfire.
Soon they settled in the area, grilled meat, and started drinking. In an instant, there was a lot of noise around the once silent and cozy campfire.
“Oh, you don’t like being noisy? Let me get them to quiet down.”
“No, it’s not like that.”
Reika shook her head. The man smiled brightly and unpacked his belongings.
“Thank you. It’s been a bit of time since you first lent me your embers and it’s time I pay you back. It’s time to eat, so let’s go ahead and eat together.”
The man held out a piece of white bread to Reika. Asher, who was rummaging through the firewood, accepted a piece of bread as well. The old man put a small portion of his bread in his mouth and mumbled.
“By the way, it’s quite rare to be traveling at this time of year.”
It was already late autumn now. It was a time where most travelers had already finished their travels during the easier seasons and the animals started their hibernation.
Reika opened her mouth.
“I have business in the Capital. So I left town.”
“Oh, you must be a first-timer to the Capital; come to think of it, I didn’t get your name. My name is Haban.”
“Mine is Reika Halvark.”
“Reika, that’s a good name.”
Haban smiled in a likable way. He was a kind of man that seemed to always be able to lighten up the mood.
“It appears to be a name that holds noble lineage… Is that right?”
“Yes, it’s not that great of a place. It’s still just a countryside estate.”
Reika waved her hands in protest. Her face was full of interest.
She’d only been out of the territory once. She wasn’t even able to properly get a grasp of the surroundings since she had been so confused about the political marriage she was getting forced into.
These were the first people she had ever met outside of the Halvark territory that were common folk and travelers, unlike the nobility of the Belturia Territory.
“Still, nobility is nobility. I can’t believe a noble is traveling like this at this time of year. You’re quite pretty, is there someone out in the capital for you?”
Haban spoke and looked her up and down with his eyes briefly. It was too subtle for her to pick up, so Reika didn’t notice and just shook her head.
“It’s not like that. We just need to see something in the Capital.”
Asher, who had been quiet, answered this time.
“And you, It looks like there are quite a few wagons and peddlers with you, are you going to the Capital for sales?”
There were several wagons behind the men who were drinking and talking at the other campfires. Their number was hidden due to the dark surroundings, but there was certainly a fair number of them.
“Yes, we have business in the Capital as well.”
“How’s your business?”
“Oh, you don’t even want to know about that.”
Haban shook his hands in disgust.
“It’s been so horrendous lately. In fact, it’s been this way ever since the recession?”
“I’m telling you, the world is becoming increasingly dangerous. I think monsters are being reported to be appearing right near the outskirts of the Capital. I’ve seen a lot of similar things myself.”
Haban began to talk to himself. He continued with a smug look.
“The Empire is incredibly powerful and well-manned on the interior but, it doesn’t matter, since outside of the important areas, they are treated like dirt without any support. There are a lot of places like that actually, including the place we are coming from. Have you heard of the Kingdom of Rabia?”
“Yes, it’s a famous place. What’s the matter?”
“That place is… completely destroyed.”
Reika blurted out in wonder at Haban’s words and Asher’s face hardened slightly. Unaware of Asher’s expression, Haban continued.
“It’s a rumor, but it’s quite credible. No one who went into the kingdom was able to come back.”
“…What happened to them?”
“The King went mad and killed all his people. A plague broke out, leaving all the residents dead. There are a lot of rumors about it, but I still don’t want to believe that such a glorious place has been destroyed and razed to the ground like that.”
Haban clicked his tongue as if he were sorry, but there was no expression of sadness on his face. Asher tore off another piece of his bread without saying a word.
“Rumor has it that the Empire’s Capital is… unstable. I don’t know what the world will be like in the future. It’s already hard as it is to make ends meet for a small merchant group like ourselves. “
“When the world is in a bad place, there’s always a kind of business that will always thrive in the places that need it most. I’m sure it’ll work out for you in one way or another.”
Haban grinned at Asher’s words. As silence hung for a moment, the men who were drinking came reeling in towards their campfire.
“Leader, are you still eating?”
“Are these the other travelers? Nice to meet You! Wow. Travelers at a time like this. You’re quite a man of good taste to be living on the edge… Hahah!”
Starting with the approaching man, the rest of the men that were drinking got closer. A tumultuous atmosphere filled the atmosphere.
Reika’s face gradually became more excited by the second. It was pleasant for her, who had never experienced this kind of festive atmosphere before.
And apart from her, Charon and Asher’s faces of suspicion gradually subsided. Asher opened his mouth as he looked at them with his ever-stoic face.
“By the way….”
“What is the matter?”
“What exactly are you selling in the Capital?”
It was hard to notice, but surely the wagons were moving a little. Haban spoke in a distracting manner, as if it were not important.
“We’re just a merchant trope that sells unusual animals. You have no idea about some of the rich people’s hobbies. I don’t know what’s so good about buying such weird things for expensive money. But it’s always nice to have some kind of business.”
Reika’s eyes widened in interest. The term “unusual animal” intrigued her.
“May I take a look?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t allow that.”
Haban shook his head.
“They’re very stressful to manage. That’s why I covered them up with tarps and tents. Each one of them fetches quite the price, so you have to treat them very carefully. Hence why I cannot allow them to be seen anywhere by anybody other than the caretakers and the buyers.”
Asher muttered sarcastically under his breath as he took a sip of water.
The other men and Haban, were getting quite drunk as their faces reddened.
“Why don’t you come with us, Miss Reika?”
“Together to the Capital?”
“Yes,the Capital. We have the same destination. Wouldn’t it be better to be together rather than alone? Besides, it must be dangerous because you don’t have a man to protect you. It’s especially brutal these days with all these monsters and what not moving around.”
“Is it really so dangerous?”
“Yes, monsters can come out these days. They are very dangerous and completely different from animals.”
It wasn’t as if Haban was wrong, but something about his words irked Reika.
“I see…. I think it will be fine.”
“That’s great! Then let’s have a drink together to celebrate!”
Haban smiled broadly and pushed a glass towards Reika. The murky color of liquor was shiny.
“It must have been dangerous before for a pretty lady like you, but with us reliable men, I’m sure you’ll be completely safe with us hehe! Why don’t you take a sip?”
“I can’t drink….”
The murky smell left a bitter aftertaste and Reika frowned subtly as she put the liquor up to her nose. But Haban persistently clung to her.
“Don’t be so stingy. This is all experience! Yes, an experience! You said you were a child of nobility, yes? Well when people travel like this, everyone is allowed to drink!”
Charon tried to raise himself up with a stiff face. At that moment Asher grabbed his hand, shaking his head quietly, signaling Charon to step down. Reika stuttered, unaware of the situation going on between the two in the background.
“Well, is that so?”
“Yes, come on, come on.”
Reika couldn’t say no to the persistence of Haban. She eventually grabbed the glass.
“Then… are you sure I can have a sip?”
“Haha, yes of course! How about your other people with you? Would you all like some drinks as well?”
Asher accepted the glass. Along with the sweet smell of meat in the air, the bitter scent of liquor hit Asher’s nose.
“Come on, come on, it’s okay!”
Haban smiled and beckoned.
Reika swallowed and put the glass to her mouth.
Asher quietly raised his glass as well.
And at the same time, there was a sword in his other hand.
The sound of flesh getting pierced, rang out in the festive atmosphere. Haban stuttered and looked down at his chest. There was a sword sticking out of it along with blood that started to dye his clothes red.
“Hey, this is…”
He tried to pull it out with his hands but his heart was already stopped the moment it was pierced with the sword, and he faltered.
Haban’s body sunk to the floor with a thud, as the cold autumn breeze was dyed with a scent of blood.
In an instant, silence descended across the campfires. Asher turned the glass upside down and drank his liquor as if it was nobody’s business.
The liquor was slurped up by Asher as he licked his lips. Some of the liquor fell down the corners of his mouth and fell into the pool of blood around him.
“Asher, what are you doing?”
Reika screamed and Charon took the glass from her hand as he stood in front of her.
“Calm down, Young Miss. These… these people are not the right kinds of people that you think they are.”
“The Empire does not allow for ‘unusual animals’.”
Charon gritted his teeth with a scornful look.
It was a slang term used in the depths of underworld-type businesses. ‘Unusual animals’ were terms used by human beings who treated other humans… less than another.
Asher laughed as he stared coldly at the other men.
“I can’t believe a slave merchant came all the way here. The world seems to be in a state of disarray that even these kinds of idiots come crawling up the door.”
Chapter 41 – Fin