“Attention!” The guards saluted Joshua as he emerged from the castle gates.
Suddenly, he stopped, pausing to look at the castle. His eyes lingered on the Imperial Palace, the place where he’d spend most of the last five years.
“I don’t want to get attached, but…” He’d met all the goals he came here for—except for one—but his face tensed for just a moment. He was promoted to captain, entered the Archives, reclaimed the obsidian earrings, and, as a bonus, took up the name “Sanders” in place of “Agnus.” He met the Assassin King and changed her life, and gathered a cadre he could proudly claim as his people within the Imperial court. But most importantly…
“Kaiser von Britten.” His brow furrowed.
Joshua’s first plan was to demolish all the foundations Kaiser built, particularly those who had followed Kaiser since he was a child. Joshua wanted to prevent him from meeting his “real” people, as opposed to the “fakes” who would arrive soon, when he’d safely established his place in the Palace.
I didn’t even bother making a list because I already memorized all of their faces. However, Joshua’s plan had failed.
“...They were Kaiser’s people even before I approached them.” He grimaced; this was not something he’d anticipated. It didn’t make any sense to begin with—the Fourth Prince’s support base was so poor there was no point in comparing it to the First and Second Princes.
Was he supposed to take the throne with less than 5% of the overall power and his “life skills?” That made about as much sense as a priest marrying a warlock. The issue had been gnawing at his mind until a few days ago.
“That day… The Emperor’s sudden disappearance must be related to this. A power that can make even Aisha tremble in fear… the third power.”
The new information was unsettling; even the mighty Emperor Marcus was unaware of this army. The most plausible explanation was that there was a third faction supporting Kaiser, whose very name, to say nothing of its strength, remained unknown.
The problem was, Joshua found out too late. He was hoping to draw in Kaiser’s followers with his talent, but if they were Kaiser’s since birth…
No, maybe it’s Kaiser who belongs to them… Joshua felt pitiful—he went around flaunting himself without realizing he was right in the middle of the enemy.
As soon as I realized it existed, I had to flee the Imperial Palace as quickly as possible. The Master Battle made for a convenient excuse. Reinhardt, the venue of the Master Battle, is an independent, extranational metropolis. Its central location makes it a trade hub and an excellent place to gather information. It houses the Moon Gate’s headquarters… Information was a matter of life and death in these circumstances.
Joshua realized there was someone in his path and stopped.
“Joshua. Five years have passed and not once have you visited me. And now you’re just going to leave.” Duke Agnus quietly approached. “Are you… angry? Do you despise me for choosing Babel as my successor instead of you? He was the most logical choice.”
“Honestly, I’m…” A glimmer formed in Joshua’s eyes and he struggled to get his words out. “I’m… sorry.”
Duke Agnus’s lips curved into a sour grin.
“However, I never faulted you for that decision. In fact, it was a great choice. I have no regrets about my family anyways; you didn’t choose me because I had no interest in the family name. You did what was best for the Agnus name.”
“Yes, that’s right… if…”
“I loathe my father for one reason.” Joshua met Duke Agnus’s gaze. “You have more than enough power, but you left my mother to the family.”
“That’s…” Duke Agnus sighed. “That’s right.”
“But it’s all in the past now. I’ve never seen my mother as cheerful as she has been recently.”
“You—?” Duke Agnus realized that Joshua had been visiting his mother but not the Duke and smiled sadly.
“Thank you very much for teaching my knight and caring for my mother.” Joshua bowed his head, to the Duke’s surprise. “And… I wish you all the best in the future.”
Duke Agnus smiled at his son, accompanied by the chirping birds.
“Can you… do me a favor, please?”
A knight knelt in worship in the center of the enormous temple of Hermes in the capital of Hubalt. He was young, with long, waist-length lustrous blonde hair and wore pristine white armor. His green eyes sparkled with life, like carefully set emeralds, and his very body radiated divine power. Every inch of him screamed “I am a Holy Knight!”
“Ah!” The knight sprang up from his prayer. “Master!”
The other man was only about 30 years old. A young man with unusual silver hair and a neat white coat. His face overflowed with compassion, despite its gorgeous features that held up even in comparison with the praying knight. Above all, he had an aura—a heavenly halo just behind his back yet unreachable.
He was one of the continent’s Nine Great Stars, ruler of the Hubalt Empire: God’s Knight, Chrysler John1 Sebastian.
“You’re preparing to leave?”
“Yes, Master.” Christian nodded eagerly. “I will return in perfect health.”
“You have talent; you’ll have no trouble getting their attention.” Chrysler smiled warmly back at Christian. “No one short of the Nine Stars or Twelve Superhumans could challenge you, not even another A-Class.”
“Of course! All thanks to the Master’s teachings!”
“Yes?” Christian cocked his head.
“Ulabis, the Crimson Knight. Be very careful if you come face-to-face with him.”
“Ulabis… The current ruler of Thran, Master?” He received a nod.
“That man is endowed with extraordinary, inexplicable abilities, and he’s wary of the Tower. Most importantly, there’s no need for us to get involved in someone else’s quarrels is there?”
“Ah… Duke Altsma.”
Chrysler paused for a moment, grinning to himself. Did he say he was going to be in the Master Battle as well? He shook his head, his smile wiped away by sadness as he recalled the Reinhardt Tournament years ago. You’re still a kid. No matter how brilliant you are… He swept aside those concerns and returned the grin to his face.
“Have you made up your mind?” he asked Christian. “If you haven’t, I’ll arrange a separate carriage for you.”
“No, Master. I still have some free time before traveling to Reinhardt, so I’d like to make a detour at the border.”
“The border?” Chrysler’s expression stiffened.
“Yes, Master. Within the Avalon Empire, beyond the western boundary.”
“Are you saying you’ll go willingly into enemy territory?” Chrysler shook his head.
“I know it’s risky, but… there were rumors that a lich appeared there. As a Knight of God, I believe it is my duty to verify the rumors.”
“A lich!” Lich were high-ranking wizards with decaying bodies. They sacrificed their souls to cheat death because they could not give up their passion for magic. Many liches employed black magic with devastating prowess beyond anything they could have done while they were alive, making them difficult opponents to deal with.
Of course, there were so few high-ranking wizards that finding such a lich was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
“Is it possible it’s a trap?”
“I believe it’s reliable, because it came directly from High Priest Harald.”
“Is it a divine revelation…?” Chrysler sighed and pressed his hand onto his student’s shoulder. “Take care. In the worst case, your life may be in danger…”
“Of course, Master! If that happens, we’ll seek help from a local temple.”
“That’s it.” He smiled, then paused as he recalled something. “Now that I think about it, where was it?”
“Tripia, the easternmost province of Avalon.”
Not Jean T^T ↩️
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