49 – Sword Master, Karone (1)
Devil Knight, Bernhagen.
Several days had passed since Najin defeated him. During these days, Najin had been extremely busy, a time he hadn’t expected.
“I thought it would be over once the request was completed.”
As usual, after receiving compensation from the Central Guild, he would fill his stomach with delicious food and then focus on training. There would also be progress in training since he gained insights from the battle with Bernhagen. With a light heart, Najin headed towards the Central Guild.
What he overlooked was the countless gazes and the knights of the nobles waiting at the Central Guild.
What Najin had not considered was that this request was related to the nobles. Although the request he took was commissioned by the knight of A’tanga, Najin was the one who defeated the Devil Knight.
“So, it’s you.”
“I am a knight of the Azberli family. I express my gratitude to you, Triam Jajak.”
The bounty that the nobles had placed on the Devil Knight.
Najin was the one who received it, and in the process, he naturally had to attract the attention of many nobles and adventurers.
Going here and there.
Promising future meetings with the nobles.
Receiving invitations to the ball, and so on.
Najin, who had been dragged into annoying, troublesome, and formal matters for a few days, felt a sense of relief now that the commotion was over. On this day, he could finally enjoy a leisurely morning.
A bench outside the lodging.
Leaning against the back of the bench, Najin looked up at the blue sky. In the gradually cooling weather, Najin let out a long breath.
– It’s been a while since I had a leisurely morning, hasn’t it?
“That’s right. I didn’t expect it to be this troublesome.”
-Well, at least it’s better than what you had in mind, right?
-Arthur, the knight of Atangga. It’s because of that knight that you didn’t become even more of a nuisance, wasn’t it?
Najin laughed bitterly.
Merlin’s words were true. Najin had subtly hinted to Argo about hiding his powers and not revealing his true intentions. That man, who seemed quite formidable, would surely have a rough idea of his abilities…
Argo turned a blind eye to Najin’s hidden strength. It seemed like it was not his concern.
He simply announced the incident as “Bernhagen, who was being chased by knights, was weakened due to injuries and adventurer Lee Baei finished him off…”.
“Thanks to that, it ended at this point.”
Najin murmured silently as he took out a letter from his pocket. Although the names of other nobles didn’t evoke much interest, this letter was different.
A letter from Count Edelmar.
It belonged to the family to which Gilbert, the dying knight who Najin had encountered during the pursuit of the demon knight Bernhagen, belonged. A few days ago, Najin had told the knight from that family about Gilbert’s last wishes and said:
Gilbert still wanted to be a knight until the end, and it was thanks to him that they were able to hunt down Bernhagen.
The knight from the Trevasche Family expressed his gratitude to Najin and promised to convey Gilbert’s last wishes to his master. And a few days later, this letter arrived.
The letter paper was very luxurious.
When Najin unfolded the letter with the Trevasche Family emblem imprinted on it, there was a letter from Count Edelmar. Though it was long, the content was concise.
I am indebted to you. I thank you for delivering the last wishes of my knight. Whenever you visit the Trevasche Family, I will receive you as an honored guest.
Count Edelmar did not force Najin to attend using his authority. He simply sent an invitation asking him to visit whenever he had the chance. With a faint smile, Najin carefully put the letter back into his pocket.
Although he had never met him, he couldn’t help but think of the knight as his master.
“I must definitely go there.”
Muttering to himself, Najin stood up from the bench.
It would be nice to leisurely spend the morning, but his body was starting to feel restless. Najin hadn’t had a proper training session in the past few days because he was constantly on the move.
Najin loosened his body with vigorous movements and took a deep breath. He planned to start training by lightly manipulating mana. Even the thought of screaming when Merlin had first taught him this technique was a thing of the past.
It had been enough time for the wild mana inside his body to become slightly itchy.
-Well, after experiencing the excruciating pain of twisting my energy, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Merlin muttered incredulously.
The mana technique displayed by Najin during the battle with the Demon Knight. This technique, which surpasses the limits of mana, distorts the blood and causes excruciating pain as the body is torn apart.
Najin endured this pain with a clear mind and continued the battle. Even Merlin couldn’t help but be impressed by his exceptional mental strength.
“So, have you grasped something?”
Najin’s momentum in manipulating mana was extraordinary. When Merlin noticed this fact and asked, Najin smiled.
“I think I understand now.”
Najin infused mana into his sword.
What came to mind was the knight’s sword. As a result, the platinum particles were completely eliminated, and a pure white aura enveloped Najin’s sword. It was not an incomplete aura, but a fully formed one.
Originally, when extracting the complete aura, the platinum aura would be revealed. Thus, Najin had been restraining the aura.
But not anymore. The two auras, platinum and pure white, could now be distinguished and controlled. Now, Najin could freely wield the aura without any worries. Satisfied with this fact, Najin shook his sword around.
The platinum aura was drawn while thinking of stars.
And the pure white aura was drawn while thinking of knights.
“Is this what it feels like to infuse aura into the sword?”
If he went a little further, he felt like he could even change the form of the aura. Merlin, who was observing this, let out an indeterminable sigh.
“It’s not surprising anymore… it’s quite fascinating.”
Distinguishing and using the auras.
Changing the color of the aura according to the aura’s essence.
Of course, it was not a skill that just anyone could perform. It was a feat worthy of a Sword Expert, and even they would find it difficult.
Distinguishing and controlling the auras.
Even projecting a single aura was difficult, requiring tremendous effort. It was not easy to handle two auras, let alone distinguish and control them separately.
Making a difficult task look easy.
Watching Najin’s figure, it was impossible not to burst into laughter. Merlin chuckled as he watched Najin swing the pure white aura around.
As Najin swung his sword in the air, someone landed at the training ground outside his training hall. Najin turned his head when he heard the sound, surprised by the unexpected visitor.
The person who set foot in the training ground.
When Najin turned his head to confirm the person’s identity, he tilted his head. It was someone completely unexpected.
“Oh, oh. Hello, my young friend. It’s been a while…”
The leader of the Crimson Eye Mercenary Corps.
At the pinnacle of the city, Roselin Ascalo.
She responded with a trembling voice. It wasn’t just her voice that trembled; her pupils were shaking like mad, as if gripped by fear.
Tap, tap, tap, tap.
Approaching Najin with quick steps, she grabbed his shoulders forcefully. Even Najin couldn’t help but be bewildered by the situation.
“What’s… what is it?”
“There’s a guest looking for you. We need to go quickly. They’re waiting in my mercenary corps right now…”
Shaking pupils. Trembling voice.
Roselin, still gripping Najin’s shoulders, poured out her words. It was as if she was pleading, “Please save me.”
“The guest is looking for you… let’s go together quickly.”
A pleading tone.
Najin nodded hesitantly. Only then did Roselin heave a sigh as if relieved, exhaling deeply.
Roselin grabbed Najin’s hand and led him outside the lodging. Najin, being dragged along, could only shake his head. Who is the person standing in front of him now? Roselin Ascalo, known as the pinnacle of this city.
A skilled swordsman who has ascended to the Sword Seeker.
With the title of a noble and the leader of the Crimson Eye Mercenary Corps.
Who is this person, so fearsome that even nobles dare not provoke her? Moreover, who is this person that she is being sought after by? Unable to contain his curiosity, Najin finally spoke.
“Who… who is this guest that’s looking for me?”
Roselin didn’t stop walking.
Swiftly turning her head to meet Najin’s gaze, she spoke with a distressed expression on her face.
“What? Who is that?”
“Sword Master Karone Kye…!”
A master of the Sword Sect, Karone.
A swordsman with six stars.
Roselin was telling Najin that the person who had reached the pinnacle of martial arts with the sword was looking for him.
Upon hearing the news that the main road used by the Garutchae Upper Class had been occupied by monsters, Rozelin immediately mobilized her mercenary squad and headed towards that location. Since she was receiving support from the Garutchae Upper Class, she had to take care of such matters.
Upon arriving at the scene, she was met with a road covered in rubble as if a landslide had occurred… and monsters occupying the surrounding area of the road.
“It might be a bit of a hassle to clear the road…”
Dealing with the monsters wouldn’t be difficult, but repairing the collapsed road would take some time. Rozelin estimated the situation and glanced back.
There were merchants from the Garutchae Upper Class standing in front of the blocked road, sighing as they had parked their carriages. They seemed to have gone on a journey and were now returning. It was around the time when Rozelin was about to walk towards the carriages to inform them briefly about the situation.
She suddenly noticed a peculiarly dressed individual.
Two men dressed in priest robes among the merchants. Judging by their attire, they seemed to be priests of the Blade Sect.
“Who are they?”
“They are selling supplies to the Blade Sect and accompanied the two priests who had business to attend to in Cambria.”
The merchants replied like so.
I see, Rozelin thought as she was about to pass by them. She felt a chilling gaze. A gaze that seemed to pierce through her. Rozelin swiftly turned her head.
There stood the two Blade Sect priests.
One was a middle-aged man and the other, whose face was deeply hidden under the robe, seemed to be of undeterminable age. It was the latter from whom she felt the gaze. His gaze was directed towards Rozelin’s masterpiece, Echo, hanging at her waist. Since that gaze didn’t feel right, Rozelin asked sharply.
“…Are you interested in Echo?”
The priest with the hidden face under the robe let out a short sigh.
“I apologize. It’s just that I’m intrigued by the unique form of the sword.”
He smiled gracefully.
“Are you the mercenary hired by the Upper Class? I heard that the road is blocked and carriages can’t pass.”
“For now, yes. It might take some time, so the priests could take their time and rest…”
“It will take some time. How long?”
Rozelin narrowed her eyes.
She didn’t quite like the attitude of the priest, but for now, Rozelin decided to answer.
“It will probably take half a day.”
“Well, that’s inconvenient. Ah, excuse me for intruding.”
He chuckled lightly.
“I’m a bit busy. Please excuse me.”
He passed by Rozelin’s side. It was at that moment when Rozelin was about to ask what he meant. The priest drew his sword from his waist, smoothly and perfectly.
The posture of drawing the sword was incredibly smooth and perfect.
Certainly a priest of the Order of the Blade.
His stance was quite well······?
It was around that time that Rozelin thought so.
Rozelin’s eyes shot wide open. It was because of the sensation that wasn’t felt until just a moment ago, when that priest drew his sword, pressing down on the entire area. The mercenaries all halted their steps. The noisy merchants closed their mouths.
A peculiar sensation as if time and space were entirely constrained.
Within that sensation, the priest moved alone. He stood before the halted mercenaries. The debris-laden path and the monsters standing upon it. Despite having approached sufficiently, the monsters couldn’t even blink their eyes.
Moving were all forbidden.
Amidst the frozen entities, the priest swung his sword. There was no distinction between swinging the sword and sheathing it. When one thought the sword was swung, the priest’s sword had somehow returned to its scabbard. The momentum and pressure that had been pressing down on everything disappeared in an instant.
What was heard was a silent slicing sound.
Only one single slicing sound. None of the sounds of monsters being cleaved, the ground trembling, or heaps of earth shattering··· None of those sounds could be heard.
After that one slice, only the aftermath remained.
The heaps of earth blocking the path, the debris, the monsters occupying it—all of it had vanished without a trace. As if performing magic. Wide-eyed merchants were astonished, and mercenaries exhaled their held breath, opening their eyes wide.
None of them among the crowd understood what had just happened. They only recognized the result: the priest had swung the sword once, and the debris and monsters blocking the path vanished without a trace.
“Wha, wha, what…?”
Rozelin, who had reached the threshold of the Sword Seeker, understood, albeit partially, what had just happened.
When the priest swung the sword, Rozelin saw it.
A fleeting flash in an instant.
It was more like a massive burst of light than a sword glare. An unimaginable output of light that the human body couldn’t possibly withstand. The moment the sword was swung, the light cut down whatever obstructed its path like a guillotine.
That was it.
Whatever touched the light disappeared without a trace. Only faint particles floating in the air remained as evidence that monsters and heaps of earth had existed here.
“I didn’t even get a proper look.”
Even Rozelin, with good eyesight, only registered the momentary flash that passed by. This fact sent shivers down Rozelin’s spine. Belatedly, Rozelin gazed at the priest cloaked in robes.
He was also looking at Rozelin.
The face visible through the robe.
Rozelin Ascal knew that face. Rozelin’s complexion turned rapidly pale as he realized the identity of the figure standing before him.
The Blade Sanctum’s Swordsman.
Presence that reached the pinnacle of swords.
Sword Master, Karon.