The 9th Class Swordmaster: Blade of Truth-Chapter 26: One Step Ahead

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Chapter 26: One Step Ahead

"Slave King...? What kind of nonsense is this?" said Suan, his puffy face contorting in disdain.

"Well, though it may sound a bit off, that's what the barbarians call you. It's because of the rumors that you helped slaves escape from the clutches of the Imperials and find refuge in Tatur. You went against my father's Imperial Decree, The Extermination Decree of Heresy Hunters.

Karyl’s eyes narrowed at that remark. Suan Hazer was the King of Slaves? The subject of those widespread rumors?

The conflict between the Empire and the barbarians had persisted even before the decree of the heretic hunters was issued. Most of the captured barbarians were forced into slavery by the nobles.

With his incredible skill, Suan Hazer, the King of Slaves, had spirited them away to either the north or to the free city of Tatur.

And when the imperial decree came into effect, his fame skyrocketed. He became the hero of the barbarians.

But then, one day, he vanished without a trace, as if he had never existed.

Karyl's eyes widened upon connecting the dots. So, that's how it is, he thought, slowly nodding. 𝘧𝓇𝘦𝘦𝔀ℯ𝘣𝓃𝓸𝓿ℯ𝘭.𝑐𝓸𝓂

The disappearance of the one known as the King of Slaves, who had built such a formidable reputation, coincided exactly with the repeal of the Imperial decree.

Despite his fame, he hadn't sought to establish his own power. It had left many people curious, but soon he faded from their memories.

It would only make complete sense that Suan Hazer, the King of Slaves, had joined forces with Olivurn.

If he truly was the King of Slaves, it's not surprising that he knows how to navigate the currents of Fonein.

The Fonein river is known as the most treacherous river on the continent. But if he had navigated that river hundreds of times over the years to help countless escapees, his remarkable piloting skills were understandable.

After Olivurn Shutean ascended to the throne, Suan Hazer reappeared as the master of the Rabat Guild.

Karyl’s gaze remained fixed on Suan. He couldn’t help but reflect on the series of events that had unfolded in his previous life. One person vanished, and another emerged. Yet, both had left an indelible mark on the history of the Empire. In truth, those two individuals were one and the same, and the Second Prince Olivurn Shutean was behind it all.

"Father? Oh, I see, you seem to be the son of quite a remarkable man. So, which one are you? The first? Or the second? I hear the third is out of luck," Suan Hazer said cheekily to Olivurn.

"How impudent," Olivurn growled, standing beside a knight.

The white-haired old knight exuded a youthful vigor, unfitting for his age.

Jarvant... that old man came along too, huh? It could become troublesome if we get entangled. Karyl thought, furrowing his brow.

Jarvant Redak, the Count, was the Sword Arts Teacher for the third prince and the Commander of the Royal Knights.

Though he was not a duke, his influence was formidable. Even in his seventies, his swordmanship surpassed that of many renowned knights.

He was one of the most active veterans on the battlefield, even after the descent of the Oracles.

Karyl shook his head as four other names came to mind.

"My apologies for the late introduction. I thought my face was quite well-known."

At Suan's words, Olivurn responded with a calm demeanor. He nodded lightly, as if addressing a noble.

"I am the Second Prince, Olivurn Shutean."

Suan's expression remained unchanged even upon hearing the name.

"You...!!" Unable to tolerate his disrespectful demeanor any longer, Jarvant took a step closer to the bars.

"Stop," Olivurn commanded, blocking the elderly knight. He then knelt down to meet Suan’s eye level, who lay collapsed. "There's something I wish to ask of you."

"Your Highness...!"

Olivurn spoke to Suan in a calm tone. "Help me."

"Ha... Haha," Suan snickered at his words. "My lord, I truly do not understand what you mean. For someone of your noble stature to seek help from someone as lowly as me. What could I possibly do?"

His tone was clearly mocking, hostility oozing out of his voice.

"I want to save the barbarians," Olivurn declared. "As you know, many from the northern tribes are dying. They too are people of this continent. Though my opinion may be insignificant, I believe that whether they are imperial citizens or barbarians, everyone should be equal. I just wish to save them, even if it’s just a little. Please, I would like your assistance."

Suan's eyebrows twitched.

Then he raised his hand. "Five gold per person from the northern tribes. That's enough money for a citizen of the capital to live on for five months. Only those who give me that much money can cross the river."

"Do you need money? I can provide as much as you need," Olivurn said, his expression serious.

Karyl bit his lip as he stole a glance at Olivurn’s face. Integrity and purity. That's how you appeared, after all.

Even in his previous life, he had been captivated by that demeanor.

"But do you know what kind of place Tatur is? That people enter even for that much money?" Suan's voice echoed through the prison.

He spread his five fingers and then folded four, leaving only the middle finger standing upright towards Olivurn. "You have to pay 4 gold to that damned Gold Lion. And the remaining 1 gold is the price of your life. Heads, you live; tails, you die. Not everyone lives, even after paying."

Suan paused, his gaze piercing as he continued, "You think this issue can really be solved with money? How many have I had to watch die as I led them there, with my own hands... I wonder if His Royal Highness the Prince can truly comprehend that."

Suan's gaze turned icy.

"Of course, there are those who don't die even after the coin toss. Instead, they become slaves to the Gold Lion. They flee to that place in search of freedom, not wanting to die, only to become slaves again, but by their own choice."

"I've never saved them. I wanted to, but I couldn't. So..."

Karyl felt something was off. His left eye, that red eye...

He recalled his past life. Suan was always wearing an eyepatch.

Karyl had never seen his left eye from the first time they met until very the end. Could it be...

Only then did Karyl understand why Suan had such a visceral reaction to the empire. He was a survivor from the Red-eyed Tribe, which had been annihilated by the empire long before than Karyl’s own tribe.

"Do as you please, kill me or let me live. Just don't call me by that damned title of “Slave King”. Now, get lost."

"You insolent...!!!" Jarvant roared like a wild beast, as if he were ready to slit his throat right then and there.

Behind the resounding iron bars, Suan Hazer spoke in a cold voice, "If you really want to be a righteous king who saves the barbarians, then the least you can do for me is to grant me Tatur—a land where they can live."

Karyl couldn't help but smile at his audacity. How can he be so bold in front of the prince? The Suan Hazer I knew was different. It seems a lot happened over those three years.

The Suan Hazer he had first known before had a more subdued aura, unlike the wild and untamed vibe he was gave off now.

I like this. Karyl smirked as he continued to watch them.

"It may take time, but I won't give up on you. You're far too valuable to die like this," Olivurn spoke softly to Suan. "We'll meet again."


So, it has come to this, huh? Karyl thought as he looked at Suan Hazer.

I merely thought of him as a master of a merchant guild with exceptional abilities... Who knew there was such a story behind it.

A bitter taste filled his mouth.

If it hadn't been for this moment, would he have ever learned the truth? But, it changes nothing.

Karyl knew all too well how Olivurn, the emperor he would eventually become, would change. Olivurn... You want to save the barbarians? ...You?

A surge of frustration welled up within Karyl, tempting him to burst out from behind the ceiling right then and there, to scream in Olivurn’s face and tell him to cut the bullshit.

All of a sudden, a guard standing watch collapsed to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.

"Are you done? Then get up."

Startled, Suan, quickly hid his arms behind his back.

"I happened upon something interesting. Even if I waited, Olivurn would surely have you released by tomorrow."

Suan looked up at Karyl, who had suddenly appeared out of thin air.

"But I don't feel like wasting a day. Time is too precious to me."

It was a child, younger than himself. Suan's face showed utter disbelief upon seeing Karyl.

"...What are you?"

Despite Suan's bewildered reaction, Karyl remained composed and took out some gold coins. "This is the fare for crossing the Fonein."

Suan looked at the five gold coins placed before him, his expression souring.

"But from what I've heard, it seems you won't be needing this anymore. There was never any reason to give anything to the likes of the Gold Lion anyway."


Karyl's eyes gleamed with a hint of mischief. Olivurn, you had your chance first. But you failed. Then, this time, it's my turn.

Karyl smiled lightly at the perplexed Suan.

"Suan Hazer." His voice echoed throughout the prison.

"I'll give you Tatur."