Chapter 19

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Babel von Agnus bowed his head to the Duke, who sat at the head of the office where he handled his official duties. Duke Agnus, gazing expressionlessly out the window, spoke quietly.

“Lift your head. An Agnus should not look like that.”

Babel’s eyes widened, and he slowly raised his head.

“Why did you use mana?” Duke Agnus’s gaze was unflinching.

“That—” Babel stopped and bit his lip.

“Do you feel inferior?”

Babel’s expression twisted.

Inferiority complex? To that dung tosser? No way! What was his father talking about now? Babel clenched his fists, digging his nails into his palms. I don’t want to admit it—that I used mana.

And the fact that he was pushed so far by that guy.

It’s just a coincidence. I don’t know what trick you pulled, but if we meet again…

“Understanding one’s enemy is also a skill.” Duke Agnus seemed to read Babel’s innermost thoughts. “Be strong. If your opponent is strong, be stronger. Be so strong that no one can make you kneel, not even the Nine Stars.”

“—Even more than the Duke?”

“Yes.” Duke Agnus nodded firmly.

“Can I ask you one thing?”

“What?”

“Duke… No, father… who am I to you?”

Duke Agnus gazed at him with a politely expressionless face. He didn’t speak for a long while.

“You…”


“Princess?” Cox discovered Charles was in a poor mood all day. While she wasn’t a child, she was always full of energy; this was the first time anyone – even Cox, who had served her for so long – had seen her looking so dejected.

“Get out, Cox.”

Cox hesitated at Charles’s weak reply.

What happened? Charles frowned at Charles, who had buried her head into the bed. Was it Joshua? I believe she saw him today.

“Cox.”

“Oh, I see, Princess.” Cox bowed his head and carried out his orders: to “get out”.

I need to meet him at least once. If that boy really is a mana user, I must meet with him for my master.

“Then I will leave, Princess.” Cox smiled bitterly at Charles’s lack of reaction.

The door shut behind Cox with a heavy thud.

“Haaahhhh…” Charles, head still buried in the pillows, sighed deeply. The memory of her encounter was still fresh on her mind.

“Joshua von Agnus…” she murmured. Given her usual personality, when she first heard him tell her to shut up and go, it was inevitable she would react wildly.

I’m the daughter of the Pontier family, for God’s sake!

But being treated like that for the first time didn’t result in angry outbursts, raging emotions, or outrageous tantrums.

Instead, it made her afraid.

When I heard that voice, I thought my heart would stop.

This boy had something special that young Charles had never experienced.

“Joshua von Agnus…” Charles squeezed her eyes shut.

Everything became so boring. Her family’s current situation—what must she do?

I just want to laze around here and rest.

“Annoying.”


Duke Agnus was on his way out of the office, but halted. At the other end of the hallway, a woman was coming down the stairs.

She bowed her head to the Duke. Duke Agnus approached with a measured gait – neither slow nor fast – and opened his mouth.

“Is the detached house good enough?”

“...Yes, Duke,” said Lucia, Joshua’s mother.

The Duke looked at Lucia, then to Chiffon, and back to Lucia.

“Okay.” Duke Agnus quickly moved on. “Let’s go.”

“Yes, Duke.” The two men walked past Lucia, whose head remained bowed. As he was in front of the Master, Chiffon did not neglect to offer Lucia a polite nod for formality’s sake.

“If you need anything—” Duke Agnus paused and spoke quietly. “Come to me anytime.”

“Yes, Duke.” Lucia trembled.

With that, Duke Agnus walked away with Chiffon in tow.

“Chiffon, you are dismissed as well. I will train alone.”

“Oh, I see.” Chiffon saluted.

“Ah! Please bring Joshua to my room.”

“I heed and obey.”

Chiffon stared at his departing back and frowned.

“Not good.”


Joshua slowly rose from the bed.

He would take the entire Duchy.

Was this an impulsive decision?

Absolutely not.

Before his return, the Avalon Empire was wracked by a second civil war. If the first civil war was the bloody battle between the First and Second Princes, the second civil war was nothing less than a battle of the Fourth Prince against all the other princes.

The Fourth Prince, Kaiser von Britten, lurked in the shadows until the First Prince was weakened by the first civil war. In one fell swoop, the Fourth Prince stole away control of the Empire. It was only possible because he’d positioned himself as the First Prince’s trusted advisor.

Of course, there were some who believed his tricks. Some nobles claimed to be neutral, refusing to weaken the Empire by slaughtering their own kin. Other nobles were eager to invade other nations and supported the Fourth Prince from the very beginning.

Extraordinarily, Kaiser welcomed the First Prince’s forces with open arms rather than purging them—perhaps he was afraid of how his own forces would react.

“Just you wait, Kaiser.” Joshua grinned savagely.

The mighty forces of Kaiser von Britten…

In this life, I will personally crush you.

Rather than ambushing a clueless Fourth Prince, Joshua would cut him down when his power was at its peak, and he was intoxicated by the thrill of victory. Only then could Joshua show him true despair.

Knock, Knock

Joshua was dragged back to reality.

“Young Master. This is Chiffon, commander of the Red Knights.”

“Come in.”

The door swung open.

“It’s time for your appointment with the Duke.” Chiffon nodded politely.

Joshua stood and followed Chiffon. No words were exchanged.

Chiffon stopped on the third floor, in the innermost part of the mansion, and only then spoke to Joshua.

“Here we are. Only people permitted by the Duke may enter this place… I will now take my leave.” Chiffon bowed his head and quietly stepped away, leaving Joshua to stare at the door.

Finally, a place unknown to the people of the Duke of Agnus.

He knocked.

“Duke, this is Joshua von Agnus.” His full name felt awkward to say.

“Come in.”

As he opened the door and entered the room, which was decorated only with the desk the Duke sat in.

Aden von Agnus, Duke of the Avalon Empire, one of the Nine Stars, stared at him with a terribly flat expression.

“Who are you?”

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