Avalon, a powerful Empire with military prowess unmatched in the vast Igrant continent.
One of the five great dukes of Avalon was Duke Agnus, and his territories were second only to the throne. In the center of an expansive, almost forest-like garden, you would find the great mansion of the Agnus family, which would not lose to any other palace in the Empire.
This place was one of the nine stars of the continent.
And the residence of Duke Aden von Agnus.
Duke Agnus's mansion.
Even in the early morning, the whole mansion was rowdy. Bizarre rumors had begun to spread among the Duke’s soldiers.
In a corner by the door, three servants chattered as they worked.
“Did you hear what I said? How the dumb asshole in the stable pounded three centurions into rice cakes?” (TL Note - The process of making rice cakes has created some interesting (and racy) idioms. A hammer was traditionally used to beat the rice into a chewy consistency. So if a team gets beaten badly in a sports game or if someone gets very drunk they are said to 'become rice cake'.)
Brown was taken aback by the words of Paul, his colleague in the kitchen.
"Shh! Watch your mouth!”
Paul tilted his head at Brown's intense reaction. Brown peered pensively at their surroundings and lowered his voice as much as he could.
“I heard… rumors... that he’s not dumb."
This time, Paul was astonished. Although that dumbass was ignored even by mere servants, he was still a son of the Duke. If, one day, the child decided to out them to the Duke...
Paul gulped, but his throat was bone-dry.
“I couldn’t believe it either.”
Paul patted his chest. The atmosphere became tense.
“By the way, does the Duke know about these rumors?”
Brown and Paul eye each other apprehensively.
“If the rumors are true, then that dumb—er, the young master made three of the Duke's centurion bit the dust!" Bob exclaimed with a slight tremble in his voice. The other two stared blankly at him.
“Yes, what of it?”
“Isn’t it strange?”
Looking at the two people who still looked at him like he was speaking gibberish, Bob continued.
“I’m not really sure, but I heard that the Young Master is only ten years old!”
"What?" The two men widened their eyes when they understood Bob’s point.
“Really? Then he’s four years younger than Master Babel, and he’s not that much older than Miss Arsha,” said Paul, with a bewildered expression.
Arsha von Agnus was the young daughter of the Agnus family. She just recently turned six and dominated the entire Dukedom with her cuteness. The Young Lady was just beginning to read textbooks, yet her similarly-aged brother is already beating people up.
The two guys looked at Paul. It was all coming together, but it wasn’t looking good for the people who mistreated Joshua.
“Then… you mean a ten year old child beat up the Duke’s centurions, alone?”
“That’s right, if the rumors are indeed true.” Bob nodded softly at Brown's words.
"My God…” Seeing Brown's wide open mouth, Paul burst out laughing.
“Brown, that’s why you can’t get married. Because you’re so naive.”
“What did you just say?”
Paul waved flippantly at the furious Brown and continued.
“Rumors get exaggerated. Would it make any sense for a dumbass child to beat down three centurions with his bare hands?”
“I guess you’re right.” It was strange, now that he thought about it.
“Hah, rumors are just rumors. The boy must’ve done something; you know, maybe he’s tired of getting bullied and asked the centurions to spread the rumor around.”
“But why would the centurions agree to such a request?”
“Probably because they want his mother… You know, that Lucia girl has a pretty face and a great body.”
Brown nodded in agreement. It was well known that the maid Lucia was strikingly beautiful, even more so than the Duchess of Agnus.
“I would die satisfied if I ever slept with that Lucia… Such a pity that even men like the centurions can only look. How am I to compete?”
“You’re a man with children…! Go sleep with your wife!” Brown spat. The other men were startled but immediately regained their composure.
“What is it, Brown? Did you also have feelings for Lucia?”
Paul couldn't help but burst out laughing.
“You can’t eat the same thing every day. Sometimes, a man needs to try something different to reset his platter. Not to mention, this dish is more appetizing.” Paul stopped laughing and licked his lips lustfully.
Brown couldn’t help but worry.
Then Bob, who had been silent until now, opened his mouth.
"However… What if the rumors are true…? I wonder if the Duke would even bring that asshole into the mansion?”
“He probably won’t. Since the family succession will be ruined if a competitor suddenly showed up,” Brown answered honestly.
“Puhahahaha! Hey, Bob, are you thinking like Brown too? Why are you like this?”
But Bob looked at him with a closed mouth and solemn eyes. Paul’s laughter tapered off and he shrugged at his own unanswered question.
“Even if the rumors were true, he could never defeat Master Babel. You get that, right?"
“Right, since Master Babel can wield mana.”
Brown turned to Paul.
“Master Babel is fourteen this year… I heard that the Grand Duke only became a “Master” at the age of sixteen… In other words, Master Babel is a genius surpassing even the Grand Duke. Do you think the other Young Master could defeat Master Babel?”
Paul shook his head.
“That sounds crazy.” And then Paul turned away.
“Let’s stop talking about useless assholes and discuss something useful – like all the ways we could enjoy Lucia’s sweet body 一”
They carelessly chattered away instead of working and giggled like little girls while they unveiled their wildest fantasies.
Before Paul could boast about his plans to violate Lucia, he spotted a certain someone. Brown and Bob followed Paul’s gaze and stiffened in shock.
The main topic of the rumors was there. The boy with deep blue hair and eyes like an abyss. Gone was the scruffy, hunched figure he was known for. The dignity he exuded with his upright posture was reminiscent of a proud Knight striding into battle.
“Uh, since when 一” Paul stuttered.
“I need you to tell the Duke something.” Joshua stared straight at Paul and spoke calmly.
Their eyes popped wide open at the sound of his voice. It confirmed the rumors and showed them so much more.
Joshua returned their stares with a steely gaze.
It’s advantageous to hide your abilities as much as possible, because I know the consequences of indiscretion from my previous life...
When you show it, you go big or go home. His power is meaningless if he doesn’t use it to protect the person he loves most.
And so he spoke with utmost confidence:
“Tell the Duke that Joshua von Agnus is here.”
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