“Demonic Spirit, Lugia?” Joshua muttered blankly.
As in… literally a demon’s spirit? If this iron rod really was his favorite spear, then this would be the first time he’d ever heard it speak.
The original Lugia had a two-bladed prong. Although it looked quite odd at first glance, no one would dare mock Lugia. When Joshua wielded Lugia, their overflowing mana made them unchallenged on the battlefield.
Which made it difficult to believe that Lugia had transformed into a talking iron rod.
“There is no time.” Joshua was roused by Lugia’s voice humming in his head.
“What do you mean?”
“The curse within your body will suppress your strength and consume your life as time passes.”
“Maybe… You also came back to the past with me?” His eyes widened. It seemed natural since they were together for decades, but it was still strange.
“The only way to break the curse is using your body’s latent power.” Lugia couldn’t hear Joshua. “In order to restore that strength, you must be at least at the 4th level of spear mastery.”
“4th level!” Perhaps Lugia was talking about the ancient technique he found alongside the spear.
The majority of Knights in Igrant viewed the sword as the ultimate weapon. The spear was viewed as a crude toy used by poorly trained conscripts.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. 1
Among the knights, few understood the spear. There were only a handful of people who could compete with Joshua in his past life.
Joshua had reached the 5th level of mastery. Even after decades of hard work, the 6th level remained out of reach. In terms of knights’ classes, an A-Class Knight can manifest their mana in the form of a sword. These knights are known as the “Absolute One”. At the 5th level of his 8-stage spear technique, Joshua was the best knight in the empire. The 4th level, just below it, was equivalent to a B-Class Knight.
Joshua’s experience made him confident that he could reach that level, but he was only nine years old. Even before his return, it took him some time.
Of course we have to gather our strength. In order to approach Prince Kaiser, I need to show some skill. Joshua made a gloomy face.
But in my present state... Joshua bit his lip. Well, don’t I already have experience using it in this state? He’d already used a modicum of mana, although the consequences were painful. But even with this sliver of hope it would be difficult to become a C-Class Knight, let alone a master.
Lugia began to dissipate into the air with a sigh.
“It’s a temporary measure but, as long as I’m by your side, you’ll be able to use some of my power without side effects.”
Joshua’s eyes widened.
“Constantly refine yourself. When you reach the supreme state and regain your lost strength…” Lugia’s voice began to fade. “To achieve what you desire…”
Joshua rushed closer to catch Lugia’s last whispers.
“Self… certain steps… next time…”
“Hey!” Joshua’s hand shot towards Lugia, who had completely fallen.
The volatile amalgamation of energies in his body exploded all at once.
Joshua screamed like his body was being torn apart.
First floor reception room, Duke Agnus’s mansion
“Duke Agnus has arrived.” Following Imperial etiquette, the servant opened the door after a short delay. The well-oiled hinges swung open almost silently. Inside, two men and two women waited patiently.
“Oh?” Duke Agnus tilted his head. There were more people than expected.
Knights? No, it would be rude for a guest to be accompanied by a knight in the Avalon Empire. It was like saying they didn’t trust their host. Usually, their knights would wait in a different room.
Above all else, the atmosphere inside the room was… off.
“Charles?” Duke Agnus saw a familiar face and his eyes widened.
“I greet the Duke.” A girl with flaming red hair gracefully greeted Duke Agnus. She was a pretty girl in her early teens with slightly raised brows. She seemed sharp at first glance, but it only enhanced her charm.
She was Charles de Pontier, daughter of the Grand Duke Pontier.
“I came here on a whim, so I asked them not to inform you, Duke.”
“Cox!” Duke Agnus stepped forward with a smile. The short-haired, middle-aged man, Cox von Wagen, was a vassal of the Pontier family. He was born a merchant and rose to nobility, but he was more famous for his nickname: “Gold Ingot”; as the name suggested, he had a monstrous appetite for gold. Hardly any money came into the Pontier family without passing through his hands—truly, he was a key figure in the Pontier Duchy.
“The princess insisted we visit, so I accompanied her. My apologies, Duke.” Cox bowed his head with regret.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about! Even when we’re both in the capital, it’s hard to see each other… When else will I get the chance to see you like this?” Duke Agnus took it in stride with a cheerful smile.
“Thank you for kind words.” At that, Duke Agnus smiled mischievously.
“If you’re really sorry, how about you work for me now?”
“Uncle, it’s been too long since I’ve seen you. You didn’t even greet me and you’re already trying to poach our people?”
“Princess!” Cox’s face flushed pale blue.
I’ve known the Princess since she was very young and she always treated me as a thing, so it doesn’t matter if I treat myself like an object… But Duke Agnus was an entirely different story. Just as Cox was about to apologize, Duke Agnus burst into pleasant laughter.
“Hahaha! Yes, Charles, it was a very poor greeting indeed. You’re the same Charles I remember.”
“Really…” Charles pursed her lips. “But, Sir Chiffon, where is Babel?”
“Ah, the master....” Looking between them, Duke Agnus smiled strangely.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong.” Charles noted his smile. “I am of the same mind as you. As you know, our family has great wealth, and no one can challenge your strength.”
“By the time I heard Babel was promoted to a C-Class Knight, the rumors had already spread all over the capital. So I thought I might try recruiting a talent.”
“Princess, you say too much!” Cox couldn’t stand it anymore. He shook his head tearfully. “I’m sorry, Duke. The Princess is still immature—”
“What did you say?” Charles’s voice was shrill.
“It’s okay. You’re just at that age.” Duke Agnus waved it off, but quickly shifted to an embarrassed expression.
“I’m sorry, Ponsel. I forgot about you.”
“No, Duke.” The scholarly man in his mid-thirties bowed his head. This blue-haired, sad-eyed man with a soft impression was Ponsel Jean Rebrecca, famed for his sorcery.
Beside him was a girl with a rather similar atmosphere. She had wavy blue hair which flowed down like a waterfall and big droopy eyes. If Charles were “pretty”, this girl was “beautiful”. She was Rebrecca’s last hope, the only remaining child of the Countess, and magical genius, Iceline Jean Rebrecca.
“You came, Lady Iceline.” Duke Agnus greeted her with a small smile.
“I greet the Duke.”
“I came all the way here to get something to eat—” Charles made a dissatisfied expression.
“Princess, why are you like this?” Cox grumbled.
“Oh! I heard something!” Ignoring Cox, Charles clapped her hands as if she’d remembered something. “I heard you have another son, but he’s sick so he doesn’t stay in the mansion or something—”
“Princess, that story!” Cox shouted in terror and embarassment.
“It’s a nice place… I don’t think the stable is a good place, but—” Duke Agnus smiled bitterly.
“Oh, a stable?” Charles looked surprised. “So it’s true he’s your son?”
“I won’t deny it.”
I haven’t said anything yet, Charles frowned.
Please, please! Cox couldn’t hide his anxious expression. I pray the Princess doesn’t go any further. I pray that I live to greet the sunrise...
But fate was not on Cox’s side.
“—He would go perfectly with Iceline.”
Quote from The Art of War ↩️
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