Joshua flopped into his bed, tired as hell. His mental and physical exhaustion mixed together to form a weird, roiling sensation.
“Ah… I’m really tired,” he muttered, capitulating to the sleep god.
The events of earlier danced through his mind.
My own father… The Duke’s words seemed to capture his heart in a jar. It was not a pleasant feeling.
“The archmage Evergrant, yes… He will be here, along with a member of the royal family. Rest assured it won’t be the Emperor, but the identity of the royal in question won’t be revealed until just before their arrival – for security, I heard.”
But for some reason, I have an ominous feeling that the incoming royal is someone I know very well.
“If it’s really Evergrant and him—” Joshua gnawed on his lip. The worry pooled into his stomach; he worried if he could control himself if they met face to face. As of now, he couldn’t even touch a hair on Evergrant’s head.
Let’s not be hasty. The revenge he was after wasn’t inflicting harm on a young, foolish boy, even if he got Evergrant too.
Don’t let your thirst for revenge cloud your judgment, Joshua!
When you stand at the top, drunk with that pitiful euphoria you call “victory” and “happiness”, that’s when my spear will find you. Just you wait.
“Haha… Even your name tastes bitter, Kaiser von Britten.”
The Imperial Knights of the Avalon Empire, the roaring golden dragon, were hand-picked by the wise Emperor Marcus. He was very particular about their abilities; when it came to the Knights Templar, noble titles were nothing more than words on paper. From the moment you joined the Imperial Knights you were told to throw your titles out the window, because everyone was a potential master there.
The only thing you need? Your skills. If you were skilled enough, even a knight from a baron’s family could outrank the sons of dukes.
Within the Imperial Knights’ headquarters a clandestine conversation was taking place in the 1st Battalion office.
“Are the preparations going well?” The blonde, middle-aged man with a neat mustache and a noble visage was Joker, the commander of the 1st Battalion.
The young man who answered had the number 9 engraved on his shield, and the number 2 engraved on the dragon’s head, indicating he was the second strongest in the 9th Battalion.
“I got a call from him.”
The young man shivered.
“—Is this your mission?”
“Hmm… the purpose of this dispatch is ot ensure that the young master of Agnus will not be able to hold a sword again for the rest of his life—”
“—It’s because of Vanessa. None other than his—” Goosebumps ran up the younger man’s skin and he snapped his mouth shut.
“Remember where you are… Watch your tongue.”
Murderous thoughts danced wildly in Joker’s eyes.
“Rumors have already reached his ears. The rumors that, in the duchy, an undisputed genius has surfaced that can even surpass Babel von Agnus. It would be perfect if he could be made to kneel, but that’s impossible considering he’s an Agnus. He doesn’t want to leave any seeds that could grow into trouble in the future.”
“Yes. It would be better to trample such weeds before they grow.” The young man rose from his seat and saluted.
That shouldn't have happened.
It goes without saying that Joker was highly respected because he commanded the strongest battalion, but the Knights only saluted their direct superiors. That meant the Master of the Knights, Rod den Hogg, and the commanders of their own battalion. By decree of the Emperor himself, it was taboo to salute a knight from a different battalion in order to foster a fierce competitive spirit.
“I will now take my leave.”
“I trust there won’t be any mistakes.”
Pitiful as it seemed, the young man’s face bore a deep and painful scar.
The next morning, the Duke’s men assembled before the master of the house. Duke Agnus was flanked on both sides by two of his commanders, including Chiffon.
“He’s coming.” Chiffon glanced out the front door.
A troop could be seen in the distance, moving at speed; the golden dragon and the number 9 emblazoned on their gear clearly displayed their identity.
“At that size… it seems that the entire battalion really came, as the Imperial family said… That person in the pure white robe at the front is—”
“Certainly, he seems to have attracted a lot of attention from the Imperial family. After all, he wields mana at nine years old.” The middle-aged man to the Duke’s right side opened his mouth this time. He was Armstrong, commander of the Duke’s finest men: the Golden Man Corps.
“Well…” Duke Agnus chuckled. “Is that really all?”
“—Yes?” Armstrong turned to follow Duke Agnus’s gaze.
“By that, you mean… a prince?” Everyone except the Duke was agape.
“The Fourth Prince… Kaiser.”
“My God. My God.” Armstrong’s jaw twitched.
Only Chiffon maintained his composure.
“This is clearly discrimination! How is the Young Master to overcome the pressure of the entire battalion and the Chief Mage?” Armstrong was the first to come to his senses. “I am concerned he will be too nervous and he’ll make a mistake in front of the prince.”
Armstrong’s concerns were understandable. Joshua’s mistake could affect the entirety of the Agnus duchy.
“What do you think, Joshua?”
To Armstrong’s astonishment, Joshua strode out of the ranks of the knights. The shimmer of his deep blue hair and his well-oiled leather armor were a perfect match.
Joshua took in the gazes of Duke Agnus and his commanders and smirked. Contrary to his own expectations, the rage Joshua felt from seeing Kaiser had frozen solid.
I don’t have the strength to hurt them right now. My revenge will wait, Evergrant and Kaiser.
Joshua came up to Duke Agnus’s side.
“The Imperial household…” Joshua basked in the expectations of the crowd. “...will forever remember the Agnus name.”
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