The Holy Knights paused just as they seemed ready to charge.
"This is all a misunderstanding."
"Silence, vile creature!" Modrian grit his teeth. "The foul magic radiating from your body tells us everything we need to know."
Joshua furiously wracked his brain for words.
"Listen, knights! Do not be fooled by that vile tongue! We are the blessed of Hermes!"
"Hermes' blessings be with you!"
"Whew." Joshua chuckled as the paladins roared.
"Wait a minute, Sir Modrian."
"High Priest?" Modrian's hand halted.
"Isn't there something strange about this situation?"
"What do you mean, 'strange'? High Priest, can't you sense the evil in his body?"
Herald peered at Joshua, who met him with a steady gaze that spoke of an unshakeable conviction. His eyes were clear and calm in a way that the High Priest had only ever seen in one other person.
It might just be me, but his eyes remind me of… Sir Chrysler.
Certainly, there were differences. Where the "Knight of the Gods" was gentle and respectful, this man radiated a sense of power that made people shrink back in fear.
I could've been convinced that the demon king really had descended… Herald heaved a long sigh. It was hard to believe that a man with such pure eyes was the source of the immense enchantment.
"It's faint," Herald finally said, "but I can sense Sir Christian's vitality."
Modrian blinked, seeming to come to an understanding.
"Regardless of why he is restraining Sir Christian, we should remain cautious in case he is an enemy."
"We must think and act with more caution. Do you understand what I mean?"
"Regardless of how nasty they are, would someone with that much magic hold a hostage? If I wasn't imagining all that power, he could destroy us instantly."
"Stop whispering over there." Joshua gave them a veiled, villainous grin. "If you take one step further…" Joshua gently grasped Christian's neck. "It may be a misunderstanding, but I can't help it if you keep acting like this."
"This... bastard." Modrian scowled. "If it's really a misunderstanding, show us your face!"
"Oh, this?" Joshua scratched his head awkwardly. He thought about it for a moment and then gently placed Christian on the ground and removed his hood.
"Oh…" The crowd was swept away by his beauty.
Joshua raised his fathomless eyes and smiled.
"I just want to talk. I never intended on harming him." He looked around and met their blank gazes. "I am Joshua Sanders, a nobleman of the Avalon Empire."
"The one everyone was talking about? Avalon's representative in the Master Battle?"
"I don't think the rumors do him justice. Even the elves would weep when they see that face."
Joshua's rare blue hair fluttered as they murmured.
"Stop!" Modrian grimaced. "How do you intend to prove your identity? Surely you don't expect us to believe you just based on your appearance? The continent is vast. There are many people with similar faces."
"There's no way someone can look like him—"
Modrian shot the knight a stinging glare.
"Gladly." Joshua chuckled and imbued mana into his Deon ring.
A beam of light encompassed Joshua's body, cladding him in pure white armor. It had a similar hue to the armor the holy knights wore, but the opulent gold trim gave it a much more regal appearance. If not for the superior performance of the Deon ring, it would be totally impractical ceremonial armor.
"Hmm…" Modrian examined him calmly. The rest of the knights, on the other hand, were excited about how good Joshua looked in the armor.
"Sword Grave…no." Modrian's eyes lit up. Even in the Hubalt Empire, knights knew the tale of the Sword Grave, even its connection to a certain family.
"I've heard that Baron Joshua Sanders's Deon Ring is a family heirloom given to him by his father, Duke Aden von Agnus. However, your armor does not carry that crest… Am I wrong?" Modrian was trying to keep his voice neutral, but his anger crept in.
Joshua looked down and smirked. Indeed, the black sword on his chest plate had vanished, leaving only a pristine, smooth white surface.
"The day I took the name Sanders was the day I left behind the Agnus name."
Obviously, this was not by his own volition. The Duke ordered it when he selected Babel as his heir. No, not an order—a request. He didn't want to be tied down by the Agnus name.
"That's not enough. Surely you realize that?"
"What's so funny."
"I'm going to borrow this for a while," Joshua said to the air.
"Is he moving things with his will…? Is this really happening right now? For real?"
Christian's sword slipped out of its sheath and settled neatly into Joshua's hand.
"Relax. I'm not going to hurt you," Joshua said, before injecting mana into the blade.
The atmosphere thrummed with mana as a second sword was forged over Christian's holy blade.
"...Aura blade." Modrian stared blankly at it.
"Is this good enough?"
"Well…" Modrian bit his lip. An Aura Blade was no rock on the street. There were rumors of a blue-eyed man with the skills of a Master and looks to match. And no two people could have a unique A-Grade Deon Ring like that.
"Enough, Sir Modrian."
"Seiren?" Modrian flinched.
"A demon contractor could not possibly wield a holy blade in the first place, correct?"
"And, most importantly…" The veiled lady gently stepped closer.
"What are you doing—?"
"There's no way someone with this face could be the demon king, right?" She lifted a finger and gently stroked Joshua's jawline.
Even Joshua was stunned by her boldness.
"You don't like this, do you?"
"Obviously." Joshua stepped back.
"Make a bet with me."
"A bet?" Joshua mimed dumbly.
The lady lifted her veil and licked her scarlet lips.
"If you win," she said, staring into his eyes, "I will personally guarantee your identity here."
Just before he was about to protest the way she framed him as a villain, he heard her murmur in his ear.
"No one seems to have noticed yet. I don't think you have it."
Joshua looked at the glowing crystal ball, then at the lady's revealed face, and sneered.
"Why should I do that?"
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