Chapter 12

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“What the hell is this?” Joshua spat. Right in the middle, there should have been a temple built in the unique style of the ancient empire. His spear, Lugia, was nowhere to be seen, to say nothing of the mana technique that should have been right next to it. Instead, he could only see the faint traces of a temple.

“What happened?” Joshua couldn’t suppress his disappointment.

I wonder if anything will change in six years? Joshua was fifteen when he found this place in his past life; based on what people were saying, he knew he was nine years old now. Would it be better if he came back when he’d originally found it? Would someone rebuild the temple over the next six years?

That’s nonsense. Joshua pondered for a moment, then shook his head. Only I know about this place.

“Perhaps…” He looked around. Although ruined and fragmented, it was clearly the temple he remembered. Joshua paced towards the altar in the center.

His eyes widened. At first glance, it looked as dilapidated as the rest of the temple; but when he approached, he could see a rod of iron where Lugia should have been chained to the altar.

“This stick—” His hand touching the cold iron triggered something unexpected.

“Wha—” A bright light enveloped young Joshua. He couldn’t move – all he could do was wait…

Duke Agnus’s personal study

When the Duke was at his estate rather than the Capital, he spent most of his day in his study.

There was a knock on the door.

“Duke, the guest has arrived.”

“Hmm…” Duke Agnus swallowed. He always received visitors when he came to the estate, but he wasn’t enthusiastic about this one. This guest, however, while lower-ranked than the Duke, wielded an undeniable influence.

Duke Agnus stood and quickly walked out the door.

“I greet the Duke.” The old butler, Chiffon, and his soldiers bowed in respect.

“Where are they?” The greatest master of knights in the Empire mustered a proud facade.

“I was told they were in the first-floor reception room.”

“Let’s go.” Duke Agnus moved, and Chiffon quickly fell in behind him.

“However… Count Rebrecca was not alone,” Chiffon ventured.


“Lady Iceline accompanied him.”

“I wonder what he’s up to.” Duke Agnus heaved a sigh as he walked.

Iceline Jean Rebrecca, daughter of Count Poncel Jean Rebrecca, was also a treasure of the Duchy. Like Babel, she was one of the Empire’s renowned talents: a magical genius who achieved the Second Class at the precocious age of nine.

Innate mana sensitivity. Some people were born with the congenital mana disorder, but some people overflowed with it. Iceline was blessed to be able to feel and wield mana by instinct alone. Among wizards, it was considered a God-given blessing.

Avalon was an empire of knights, unlike Terra, the Kingdom of Magic, so Iceline was even more of a rarity.

The reason Count Rebrecca came here with his precious daughter must be… Duke Agnus laughed bitterly.

“Poncel is going to make me suffer all day. Young Master Babel will turn fifteen next year. Only three years before his coming-of-age… Everyone must be anxious. But Babel…” Duke Agnus frowned. “I have Princess Charles for Babel.... How can I—” Duke Agnus let out another deep sigh.

The five Dukes of the great Avalon Empire wielded influence beyond imagination. Princess Charles is a daughter of the Pontier family, a Ducal house that rose to power with wealth alone.

“As the Duke said, considering the Pontier family, it is correct to choose Princess Charles.”

“I always feel it, but what a pity.”

“You are greedy.” Chiffon chuckled. Duke Agnus’s lust for talent was insatiable, such that it was difficult to just call it mere “greed”. Chiffon was proud to serve under this master.

So long as they have the ability, no one will be discriminated against – regardless of rank. My master judges people only by their skills. Even his own blood.

“...What about Joshua?”

“Yes?” Chiffon was dragged out of his musings by his master’s voice. “What did you say?”

“I said, ‘How about we place Iceline by Joshua’s side?’”

Chiffon couldn’t believe what he heard, and it showed. He had to look twice at the Duke to realize he wasn’t joking.

“Duke? But Master Joshua—!”

“Yes: he is Lucia’s child, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s also my son.”

Chiffon’s face hardened, and he chose his next words with great care.

“...Duke. Unlike Master Babel, Master Joshua has no talent. I apologize for saying this, but until recently everyone called him ‘dumb’. You saw Joshua for yourself, didn’t you? With his physical condition, even though he’s still young...” Chiffon shook his head. He was convinced that Joshua was born with a mana disability—there was simply no other explanation for his utter lack of mana. “We need to wait a little longer to be certain, yes. But if it really is a mana disorder… Introducing such a person to Lady Iceline is a bit—”

“Let’s go. They’re probably waiting.” Duke Agnus gave Chiffon a sideways look and then burst into laughter. He had stopped moving for a while, but set off again with a grin.

“Duke, don’t leave me behind!”

Somehow, the Duke looked both amused and excited.

“Ouch…” Joshua let out a groan and cracked open his eyelids. At once, a crushing headache hammered into his skull.

“Ugh—!” Joshua cussed. The pain felt like it would knock him out at any moment, but somehow he felt like he absolutely could not afford to pass out here. He desperately clung to his thread of consciousness and slowly exercised the only mana technique he knew. One slow breath at a time, the ringing in his head faded away.

Some time later, a flash of light snapped his eyes open.

“Where am I…?” He was surrounded by sterile white space. Not even the smallest insect would crawl in here.

“Are you here?”

Joshua’s eyes widened at the echoing voice.

“Who are you?” Joshua shouted and whirled around. But he saw nothing… Just endless bright whiteness.

“Right here.” Joshua’s eyes filled with astonishment. Something floated in the pure white space above him.

“The iron rod from before?”

“I am not an ‘iron rod’.” Joshua’s mouth fell open. He’d heard of swords with a will, but never in his two lives had Joshua seen such a monstrous object.

“You… Who are you?”

“I am…” The object spoke slowly. “...the Demonic Spirit, Lugia.” 1 Joshua fell to the ground in shock.

  1. 魔神器 - literally “Demonic artifact” ↩️

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