Joshua couldn’t help but let out his mischievousness when he saw Aisha’s look of despondent humiliation. She was known as a cold-blooded assassin, but Joshua knew better.
Joshua burst out laughing, making Aisha tremble. She nervously swallowed but her throat was bone-dry.
“I’m having such a good time… but how dare you raise your sword at me twice?”
Aisha’s eyes swam, overwhelmed by the apparent lack of effort Joshua needed to deal with her.
“So… Should I take your hostility as a challenge from the entire Dark Elf clan?”
Aisha pored over every detail of the man in front of her.
A face as beautiful as an elf, with dark blue hair and eyes, though Aisha was too afraid to appreciate this. Handling abilities only her clan knows of.
Aisha moaned and collapsed to her knees.
“A-Aisha Steropi greets the Master of mana!”
Joshua smiled down at her as she prostrated herself. Aisha, however, couldn’t imagine what he was thinking and mistook his silence for unquenched rage.
“Everything was my mistake! I never wanted to offend you, so please spare my clan!”
“Raise your head.” Joshua’s smile widened, as did Aisha when she heard his stately voice.
However, she didn’t raise her head.
“Are you ignoring me?”
“Oh, no!” Aisha shook her head.
“If I wanted, I could destroy everything your clan owns.”
Aisha’s breath caught in her throat and she slammed her head onto the ground again.
“That was a joke… because I’m having fun.”
“T-Thank you!” Aisha bowed again, this time much, much lower than before.
“But I meant what I said about not assassinating the Prince.”
“Ah!” Aisha was hardly in the mood to question him. Besides which, Dark Elves were the most fickle race in the world—there was no need for her to go back to her old ways.
“Are you sure you understand!”
“Yes! I understand!”
“As soon as the mission is confirmed to have failed, the Black Wind will be hunted down. This is the best chance to leave Arcadia.”
“I have a question—”
“Don’t speak again.” Joshua laid his hand on her head, making her go stiff. “It’s been a long time. Finally, I’m happy…”
“Yes?” Aisha was obviously perplexed.
“Now go. Get as far away from Arcadia as quickly as you can.”
Aisha leapt to her feet and vanished, leaving Joshua peering into the night sky.
“That’s it.” That’s how it came to be, yes.
Why did he bother coming to the banquet in the first place? In his previous life, the year Joshua turned 15, the Empire was swept by shocking news: the attempted assassination of Kiser von Britten, the First Prince, using an Imperial Knight. Though it failed—or rather because it failed—this incident became famous. It was the only blemish on the Assassin King’s illustrious career.
Indeed, Aisha Steropi was Joshua's old friend and the soon-to-be Assassin King.
“She’d be seriously injured and then the Imperial Family would hunt her for years and years. She’s going to be chased either way, but at least she’s not injured.”
He had no idea who issued such an order to her. She was a member of Black Wind, the Emperor’s own intelligence organization, after all. Aisha just never talked about these things.
But that aside, Joshua tried to help wherever he could. He owed her a lot from his old life.
“If fate wills it, we will meet again.”
Aisha leapt wildy through the frigid night wind, scaling a three-story building in a single bound. For a Dark Elf, it was a trivial effort.
“Black Dragon…” Aisha cast a tired gaze back towards the Palace. “The mission failed on purpose, but it turned out for the better.” Her troubled expression brightened.
The strength of such power, quietly residing in the Avalon Empire—or just the Igrant continent in general—was unfathomable.
Avalon has the Imperial Knights—the Shield of the Empire—and the Black Wind.
“...But they never could have guessed this. Their plans will be in chaos after this. I hope that the Master of mana is having fun over there.”
I accepted their request for various reasons, but it doesn’t matter anymore.
Aisha tensed her legs and leapt, higher and higher.
She still thought Joshua was a dragon.
“Oh, what made you angry, Young Master-to-be of the Duke?” Natasha cocked her head at Gehog.
Gehog walked straight past her. “Get out of here. I’m not in the mood to deal with you.”
“Huh?” She snorted, then noticed the atmosphere was suddenly abuzz and smiled slyly. “It’s because of her, isn’t it?”
Charles was reentering the banquet hall; unlike before, she was alone. That made Natasha simultaneously uneasy and satisfied.
What happened before was a childish joke. A smile danced on Natasha’s lips. I will make you mine, Joshua Sanders.
“What…?” Anne, a Viscount’s daughter, cocked her head. “Young Lady Charles came back alone, after she left with Baron Joshua?”
“Why not? He helped her out of a difficult situation, and, now that it’s done, he gives the lady some privacy…” Senna’s face flushed with joy. “What a gentleman.”
The other girls nodded in agreement.
“Do you think it’s true?”
“I suppose so? Senna’s babbling made my ears fall off a long time ago.”
“He looks like Duke Agnus, but isn’t his vibe totally different?”
“Right—If Duke Agnus is like a sharp blade, Baron Joshua has a softer, sexier, decadent beauty—”
“Eeeeeeek!” The women shrieked and gasped, their cheeks flushing with a passionate heat. They lost something of their dignity, but for some reason they felt more and more proud of themselves even as their shame increased. The joy of sharing their interests with friends had them lost in the moment.
“So what’s Baron Joshua to gain from the daughter of a dying family?”
“For Baron Joshua? That doesn’t make sense.”
“You’re right. It’s fantastic, though: a prince rushing in to save the damsel in distress from the wicked…”
Pig had been villainized in an instant, while Joshua was lavished with praise.
“Kiser von Britten, First Prince of the Avalon Empire, and Princess Sersiarin von Britten have arrived!”
A calm silence fell over the banquet hall. The sons and daughters of the nobility—Natasha, Gehog, Senna, and all the others—paid their respects to the young man observing quietly from above with his distinctive golden eyes.
“Ah. Young Lady Charles.” The Prince slowly descended the stairs, a definite twist to his lips.
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