Ch. 211 I’ve Returned (2)
Carlisle kept Kuhn as his hostage after that, and Kuhn spent his time studying the prince. The fact that Carlisle was brutal and intelligent was an understatement. He was a man of towering charisma. True to his word, Carlisle hunted down the rest of the fleeing assassins and killed each of them. He had no intention of sparing those who intended to slit his throat.
As Kuhn saw his comrades die, he too felt his time left in this world was numbered. But he didn’t feel sorry for himself. He just waited until it was his turn next.
And yet, Kuhn felt a certain pleasure at seeing Carlisle destroy the assassinations’ guild as well, the place where Kuhn was forced to train and survive in his childhood. Only later did he realize that the satisfied feeling in his gut was vengeance against those who had made him suffer. Carlisle had disposed of almost all the guild members, and there were only a few runaways left.
One day, Carlisle spoke to Kuhn in a nonchalant tone.
—Considering the brand on your back, you must have been a slave. How did you become an assassin?
There wasn’t anything for Kuhn to hide, so he briefly explained how he once served an abusive young girl, and how he had accidentally tore her dress. After that, he was sold to the assassins’ guild.
Carlisle smiled as if he found amusement in that story.
But that night…
Carlisle took Kuhn back to the mansion where he served as a slave. He never realized how much resentment he held for that place. The young girl was older now, and was in an important position at the head of the family. Kuhn had a good idea what Carlisle intended for him.
Carlisle unshackled Kuhn’s chains for the first time since he captured him, then threw a sword at him.
Kuhn looked on suspiciously, and Carlisle replied in a flat voice.
— What are you doing? Not taking your revenge.
For the first time, Kuhn did not hate spilling blood with his own hands. The world had changed a little after Carlisle captured him. Kuhn had lived as a puppet for years, but now he was beginning to understand what it was like to be alive.
On the way back from taking his childhood revenge, Kuhn asked him a question.
—Did you bring me here because of my story?
— No. The weather was nice and I wanted to go out for a night’s stroll.
At Carlisle’s vague answer, Kuhn smiled for the first time.
—What’s your name?
— Slave ninety-five.
—No, you don’t have a name other than that?
Kuhn gave no answer, so Carlisle spoke again.
— If you don’t have one, choose something you like. It’s hard for me to call out to you otherwise.
Kuhn thought for a moment, then answered without difficulty. It was a word he had heard before.
— Then call me Kuhn.
— Kuhn? That’s too unsophisticated. Why that name?
—I’ve heard it before. Somewhere it means light…
There was nothing more inappropriate for him than the word light. However, whenever he was locked in a dark room, he would look up towards the sun. Kuhn had had dreams about that warm, shining light.
—Very well, Kuhn…it sounds good. Do you have a surname?
— Isn’t that too much for a slave? Do I need a surname?
— Choose or else I will.
Kuhn swallowed a swear, and spoke the first word that came into his mind.
—Then I’ll take Kasha.
—Kasha? The surname of the family that owned you?
—Yes. It’s where my memories started anyway.
— You are an odd one ….
Carlisle didn’t say anything more about Kuhn’s decision. As they wandered through the streets at night, Carlisle spoke up once again.
— Kuhn Kasha.
— Would you like to serve me?
Kuhn, who was walking behind Carlisle, stopped. Carlisle glanced back at Kuhn and spoke in a casual voice.
— You’re not a slave. You will be an employee. I will give you titles and a salary according to your ability.
—… Are you being serious?
— Haven’t you seen me so far?
Kuhn was convinced by those words. Carlisle was a man who didn’t know how to joke.
For Kuhn, a former slave, this was an extraordinary opportunity. There was no reason to hesitate, but he found himself unable to give a prompt answer. Carlisle stared at Kuhn for another moment and then walked forward again, speaking without looking back.
— If you don’t want it, go now. There’s nothing more I have to say.
There was not a shadow of doubt of the path Kuhn had to take. There was no guild to return to. He had believed that his life would be over sooner or later, but Carlisle seemed to have no intention of taking it.
Kuhn’s internal debate did not last long, and he caught up to Carlisle’s retreating back.
— I owe you my life. I’ll pay you back.
— Very well.
It was the beginning of the two men’s journey down the same road, and Kuhn served only Carlisle since then. He hadn’t the smallest regret for living and breathing for Carlisle. Kuhn didn’t need much, other than a single phrase at the end of every mission.
— Thank you.
That was all the reward in the world.
Kuhn returned to the Crown Prince’s palace and stood in front of Carlisle’s office. Mirabelle’s tears tugged at his heart, but he forced himself to simply walked forward.
He knocked on the door, and a voice came from the room in reply.
Permission granted to him, Kuhn opened the office door and stepped inside. Carlisle looked surprised to see him, and Kuhn gave a curt bow.
Where he belonged.