It all started after breakfast, when he was out on a tour of the Rain City.
While enjoying the morning bustle of the County and sightseeing leisurely –all the while noting down the shops he could visit later for spending his allowance; he passed by the Northern gates of the city. Of course, he was going to just dismiss that area with just a look at the intricate architecture –after all, there’s nothing interesting to see in a few guards keeping watch on the north entrance of the capital of the Henituse County.
Well, that was his initial plan.
That plan got derailed when his eyes caught sight of a scammer look-alike.
Cale did a double take when his brain processed the image he just saw with his very own eyes. He snapped his head to the side and looked out of the window of the carriage, only to find the guards inspecting someone who very much resembled a certain swindler he knew in his past life.
Black hair, black eyes, pale skin. Age- late teens. Outfit- shabby (and burnt from multiple places. Why?) Weapon- sword.
……Wait, did that weakling idiot get reborn too?!
He immediately asked for the carriage to be stopped and got off it. As he made his way towards his (former) friend’s look-alike, his heart thudded in his chest at the thought of meeting this person who could be his reborn friend.
What was this strangely heavy feeling in his chest? Anticipation? Nervousness?
He didn’t know……
Honestly, emotions can be so complicated sometimes.
As he walked closer to them, he couldn’t help but call out to his friend-
However, he stopped himself before he could speak more. As the buff guard who had been towering over the visitor moved a bit to the side , he could finally see with the lithe figure of the person he wanted to meet.
What stopped him in his tracks wasn’t the resemblance to his friend, but the look in the other person’s eyes.
Cold. Unyielding. Ruthless.
-Eyes that were devoid of any emotion.
Such were the eyes that stared back at him.
To be stared at like that by such a familiar face made him almost stumble back in shock. It was as if someone had poured cold water on him. He suddenly woke up from his daydreams, and realised his mistake.
He was wrong. This person isn’t that idiot who used to whine and hide behind Rock-for-Brains whenever the others teased him. This wasn’t the scammer who could make strangers give up their fortune with a few well placed words using his silvertongue. This wasn’t the weakling who had stuck by their sides even though he was scared as heck by their chaos seeking ways.
This was a completely different person. This was someone who wasn’t hiding his enormous strength; someone who was staring at him as if he was a predator stares at its prey. His raven eyes were filled with stone cold indifference.
He looked like a man who has lost everything, who had nothing to live for anymore.
A lonely, feral beast lost in the woods. That’s who he was.
(The look in his eyes is the same as that of Thief’s, when they had first met her. That thief might’ve been blind, but even those dull blind eyes of hers reflected her intense hatred and frigid cold indifference towards the world. It had taken a lot of effort before her stone cold heart finally melted enough to accept them as something akin to family.)
Now that he wasn’t looking at him through rose-tinted glasses, he could see that even though this person resembled that swindler so much; there were still some differences in their physical features. The shape of his nose was different, as well as thinner chin. Also, the colour of his eyes seemed slightly darker than that swindler’s.
The fact that the other person didn’t recognise him one but was also a huge clue that cleared his misconception. (Since he knew that no matter what physical form he may take, his friends would always, always recognise him.)
Cale was so stupid. He had been so blinded by his own delusions that he dared not see the truth that was right before him.
So what if this person looked like a certain weak swindler he knew in his past life? Not everyone would get a chance to be reborn with their memories intact. Besides, it has been ten thousand years since his death. There’s no way that idiot can live this long.
There’s no chance in hell that this person is that whiny idiot who used to follow Rock-for-brains like a puppy.
Maybe he’s a descendant of that person or something.
“-Like I said, since you don’t have proper identification, we cannot let you pass. Please don’t make it difficult for us anymore-”
Cale snapped out of his trance when he heard the guard’s strict words, and saw the young man turning away from the gates.
Was it because of his resemblance to his former friend? or the look in his dark eyes that reminded him of that thief? Or maybe it was because he knew how much that swindler had cherished his lost family? He didn’t know the exact reason why, but his feet moved on their own, and he quickly rushed to catch up with the departing figure.
“Wait!” He called out loudly, making the departing young man halt in his steps.
The guards turned towards him in surprise. “Young Master-nim?” The guards exchanged uneasy looks before staring back at him.
Cale walked past them without giving them a second glance, and jogged towards the person who was turned away by the guards. The raven haired man stared at him warily as he got closer to him.
Cale panted heavily to catch his breath when he finally caught up with him. To think this person crossed a few meters distance in a matter of seconds, his speed is really nothing to scoff at…..
When he finally felt like he wouldn’t die from oxygen deficiency –seriously, this body is so weak– he turned his attention back to the young man standing before him.
“You,” He pointed his finger towards the black haired man rudely, and said, “Come with me.”
The man blinked in confusion, as if he couldn’t comprehend what Cale was saying. Even two of the guards who had run after him were now staring at him with perplexed expressions.
“Young Master-nim, did this person offend you somehow?” One of the guards asked him cautiously.
Cale rolled his eyes. “No.”
“Then….?” the other guard tried to pry.
He frowned, making the two guards flinch. Instead of giving them a scolding –like they were expecting from this trashy young master, he just ignored them and kept staring at the young man staring at him warily.
“Well?” He asked. “Aren’t you coming?”
The ravenette pressed his pale lips to a thin line.
“Why…?” He finally asked. His voice sounded hoarse due to lack of recent use.
“I need a porter,” Cale bullshitted with a straight face. “You seem strong enough, so I’m asking you.”
(Thank goodness his misfits weren’t here to witness this embarrassing event, or they’d have died of laughter. He really had never been good at making excuses on the spot.)
Of course, that was just an excuse. Cale knew it, heck even the guards following him knew it.
However, the man standing before him did not suspect him even a bit. Instead, he just nodded, as if going along with his whims.
Cale almost did a spit take in disbelief.
‘…..Oh my Dragon Lord, where did this innocent lamb come from?! Is he really that weakling swindler’s descendant?’
Even the two guards were rendered speechless by him.
Cale quickly recovered and nodded. “Alright, come with me then.”
It was then the two guards finally snapped back to attention.
“Young mater-nim, you can’t!” One of them protested. “This person doesn’t even have any identification papers. He also refused to come for questioning. We cannot let a person of unknown origins into the city!”
“Please, don’t make this difficult for us, Young Master. We are just doing our jobs.” The other guard pleaded.
“You don’t have identification papers?” Cale asked the ravenette in surprise, who shook his head.
“Did you forget them at home, or did you lose them on the way while travelling?”
The other man once again shook his head. “I have never had any identification made for me” He replied seriously.
Cale resisted the urge to rub his temple to ease the oncoming headache.
‘Aigoo, this clueless bastard…’
Were all young people this troublesome these days? First there was the original Cale, whose trashy behaviour had made things difficult for him; and now there is this clueless idiot who doesn’t even have identification papers but is not afraid to prance around other cities.
‘Dammit swindler, you so owe me for this.’
The guards stared at the ravenette as if he was kidding. They weren’t wrong. Not having identification papers meant not being registered in the citizenship directory of the Roan Kingdom, all of which was kept in check by the various administrative offices under their respective territory lords. There was no way someone can’t not have registered as a citizen under any territory lord and still managed to live till his late-teen years.
Unless he either lived under a rock till now, or he dropped from the sky, that is. Which shouldn’t be possible.
People don’t just drop from the sky. That doesn’t happen.
(Unless they were either that thief, or the crazy kid.)
However, he didn’t look like he was lying.
So, even though he was sceptical, Cale still decided to believe in the ravenette. “Alright, I will believe in you for once.” Cale turned to the guards and ordered them, “Make a temporary ID for him for now.”
“I will make him apply for official papers later with father’s permission.” He cut off the guard’s argument, feeling his patience thinning by the minute.
‘I have already wasted enough time here.’
He was supposed to be enjoying his tour and splurging his allowance to his heart’s content. Not arguing with some random guard for littlest of things.
“But we cannot let anyone pass without a thorough inspection!”
“Yes you’re right.” Cale nodded. He stepped to the side and said nonchalantly. “Inspect him to your heart’s content, then.”
The two guards stared at him, dumbfounded. “Um- what…?”
“I never said I’d come in the way of your duty, did I?” He answered in a bored tone.
“Will you get on with it then? As you can see, I am in a bit of hurry.” He said impatiently, while fanning himself to relieve himself from a bit of heat. Damn, he wasted too much time here. The sun was getting brighter and hotter as it was nearing noon time.
“Ah, Y-Yes!” the two of them flinched and immediately got on to work. While they inspected the ravenette, Cale walked to a nearby tree and slumped under its shade.
‘Well, at least it’s cooler here.’
He waited for the guards to finish the inspection. When they were done with the inspection, they trudged towards him with unwilling expressions on their faces, making it obvious to him that they found nothing wrong with the ravenette.
“I take it everything went well?” He asked.
“….Yes,” They replied.
“I will be taking him with me then,” Cale said as he dusted off his pants and walked towards the ravenette.
“Young Master.” One of the guards couldn’t help but warn him, even though his fellow guard pointedly elbowed him to not speak unnecessarily. “I would still advise you to be careful,” he whispered conspiringly. “What if this person has malicious intentions?”
“Don’t cross the line.” Cale glared at him sharply. “Who gave you the courage to insult my porter?”
The guard flinched and backed off from him. “I-I just-”
“Even if this person does something bad, do you think our guards won’t be enough to deal with him? Hmm?” Cale ripped into him without mercy. “Are you doubting the strength of Henituse Family’s knights?”
“N-No, we would never-!” the guard stuttered.
The other guard immediately bowed to him. “I apologise for our blunder Young master-nim! We hope you find in your generous heart to forgive us.”
Cale clicked his tongue and remarked, “Make sure to fix your attitudes first.”
“Yes, Young master-nim!”
Ignoring the two guards, who were sweating bullets, he then gestured to the ravenette to follow him. The black haired young man spared the still bowing guards a glance, before he followed the red haired noble into the city.
Cale knew they had a valid point. This black haired man was much stronger than even the Commander of the Knights of the Henituse County. If this ravenette decided to go on a killing spree, the knights wouldn’t be able to hold him back.
Well, if this swordsman did decide to do something bad, Cale would definitely oppose him. While he couldn’t guarantee a victory against this strong opponent, he could still give his opponent a run for his money. Of course, things would’ve been different if he had access to all his powers, but for some reason, only one fourth of his power came back with him. Tch, beggars can’t be choosers after all.
But even though he knew they had a valid point, he couldn’t help but lose his temper against them. Because he knew that they didn’t oppose him out of goodwill, but because they truly thought of him as trash. They thought he was just messing around, doing whatever he liked, and causing trouble for no reason whatsoever.
“Tch, annoying bastards,” he muttered under his breath as he scowled, not knowing that the ravenette following him was sneaking glances at him every now and then.
When he thought of how original Cale was treated by everyone here, it angered him a lot. To think these people would be such dumbasses that they couldn’t even look past the facade, and see the original Cale for who he really was.
Everyone looked down on the original Cale. They actually thought he was a real trash.
The residents of the County were quite afraid of this trashy young master who violently threw empty alcohol bottles when he was drunk. He just thought they were being a wuss.
Honestly, this kid wasn’t even as bad as the crazy kid, who picked a fight with any random passersby for shits and giggles. Besides, throwing bottles was quite tame compared to the things he had done with his band of misfits –something along the lines of blowing up castles, stealing divine artifacts, causing rebellions, sparring with monsters just for fun, picking fights with Military Commanders, burning the World Tree and whatnot.
Yeah…. The original Cale Henituse was definitely a tame kid compared to the lunatics that were his friends acquaintances.
Also, the original Cale never once crossed the line. He never once hit anyone, or abused anyone. He didn’t take his status as the Eldest Young master for granted, nor did he let all that wealth and power go to his head. He didn’t torture people, or kill people for silliest things. Heck, the kid didn’t even hold grudges against anyone who talked trash about him!
To think such a kid was treated as an outcast by these ignorant fools…..
Taking a deep sigh, he shook his head to clear his thoughts. He didn’t want to think more about it. The more he thought about it, the angrier he got.
So, he turned to the side and asked casually to the person walking next to him, “So, what’s your name?”
“Choi Han.” the man answered after slight hesitation.
“….not Barrow?” He muttered.
“Excuse me?” Choi Han asked.
“It’s nothing.” He quickly glossed over it and introduced himself. “My name is Cale Henituse, the Eldest son of Count Henituse.”
“Welcome to Rain City, the capital of Henituse County, Choi Han.”