Chapter 43

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Inside a dark, cramped, dim room, in the deepest parts of Locke Castle, a secret space for Viscount Vig, two men sat facing each other. The first was Viscount Vig; the second was…

"Sir Chiffon, does sister Vanessa know about this?"

"She is well aware."

Vig grimaced.

"Was it just recognizing that 'it" could jeopardize their position in the future?"

"They couldn't do anything about it; they didn't even have a chance to respond."

"Is there anything else to it? This is the first time I've even heard of him!" Vig furrowed his eyebrows. "Do you have any more information on him?"

"That's not surprising. He was a dung cleaner till not long ago."

"What?" Vig couldn't believe it.

"He wasn't allowed to set foot inside the mansion since he was born. Then he had this huge aptitude for mana before he was even ten years old, like everything else was all a lie."

"How does that make any sense?"

It's fine. I can't believe it, and I don't want to believe it—but let's say, as Lord Chiffon said, he really was born with such great skill: did he really achieve it himself?

"Young Master Babel grew up taking many elixirs, systematically managed, and personally mentored by the Duke, and he became a mana user at the age of fourteen! Today he's recognized as the Empire's finest talent… but then that horseshit bastard showed up…" Vig trailed off into a dejected sigh.

He—the child of a maid, no less—had more talent than his beloved nephew.

I wouldn't say anything if I didn't see it with my own two eyes. I simply refuse to believe it.

"Let me ask you something." Vig's eyes lit up.

"Say it."

"I heard he was recognized as a C-Class Knight by the Imperial family only a few days ago."

"That's true."

"All C-Class Knights are the same when it comes to the monsters in the Black Forest. Is there anyone else who can make the same claims as Joshua?"

Chiffon's face tightened.

Is that a skill a C-Class Knight can boast of? No. Joshua was godlike. It's simply impossible for anyone else—only a B-Class technique could have such a widespread effect.

If I think about it, he might be able to do it right now… The other knights must be saying the same thing.

A magic swordsman… should be impossible with all known conventions of mana utilizations. A swordsman creates a mana hall in his lower belly, while magicians form their mana into a ring around their heart. Having both at once would cause them to continually clash, making it entirely impossible to control your mana.

Well, it's not like it doesn't exist at all… One lord of the Nine Stars; a high-ranking magician, but also an Absolute of Master status.

Only a few people are born each generation with such an unusual constitution. That's why magical swordsmen are a rarity throughout history—but did that child have such a lucky constitution?

It was virtually impossible without divine providence.

"I've thought about it for a long time. I can tell you're serious just by the look on your face.

"I don't think he's a wizard with a sword. You'd have to be at least a 3rd-Class Wizard, according to Armand, to display that kind of power. Is it even true he did all that? The opposite would be more believable."

"…But what if he did?"

"One day, he awoke with tremendous power. Do you understand?"

"No way…" Chiffon's eyes widened.

"It's conceivable he made a contract with a demon—even a high-ranking demon in the top 100."

"That's—!" Chiffon gaped at him. The Viscount was making some dangerous claims. The affairs of demons, warlocks, and the Demon Realm were best kept to the shadows. Their reign of terror, brief as it was, swept across the continent like a savage wind.

"People were taken aback, even in Karius. I'm confident there are 'Demons of Lightning' who can wield the thunder attribute."

"This is ridiculous! All of the Imperial Knights, including the Duke, have already recognized Young Master Joshua. I was there too. The magicians—"

"It doesn't really matter if he made a deal with a demon or not."

Now, Chiffon understood what Viscount Vig was driving at.

"It's amazing what a nine-year-old bastard can do. Are you certain that Aden von Agnus will be succeeded by Young Master Babel?"

"That—" Chiffon struggled for words.

I don't want to admit it, but even I was astonished. Indeed, what he saw that day was bordered on the divine.

"Fortunately, I don't believe his mentality is as mature as his gift. Kids his age don't know how to hide their power—they just want to flaunt it. So, I just have to prove that his immature actions will put his life in jeopardy."

Vig's deeply buried eyes glittered in the dim lamplight.

"I don't know what sister Vanessa is thinking. I'll say it again: I'm not sure what she's really thinking. But even if he immediately departs for Arcadia, there's still a way to get to him."

"What?"

"My daughter will also be attending the Imperial Academy."

"Ah, yes." Chiffon nodded with understanding.

"Sir Chiffon, I'd like you to pay closer attention to this part, however you choose to approach it. If that child wants to claim succession… it's going to be a nightmare. Before that happens, we need to get our hands on him.

"I'm confident you'll be ready."

Vig stood up and walked out of the room, leaving Chiffon alone.

"A demon…"


The day the Red Knight returned from the Locke Territory, the first grand dinner in a long time was held in the Agnus Estate to congratulate them on their safe return and to pray for the safety of those who would soon be departing.

Joshua wasn't one for those kinds of things and slipped away.

"Is it okay for today's protagonist to run away, master?"

"Your choice of words is interesting. 'Master'." Joshua chuckled at Cain. "Don't you think it would raise eyebrows if someone heard?"

Until they swore the "Knight's Oath", all knights of the Agnus Duchy belonged to Duke Agnus and Duke Agnus only.

"It's not like I'm making things up." Cain shrugged. "This makes my heart ache… and so, I now appoint you as my lord."

"Don't I get a choice? You do know that I can decline the Knight's Oath?"

"I don't believe my master would deny the subordinate who will become his closest aide."

"… You're more daring than I had imagined."

"I appreciate the compliment," Cain said with a wide grin. Joshua could only shake his head.

When they arrived before Joshua's chambers, Cain looked around carefully before politely bowing his head.

"Please rest comfortably. And… I meant what I said. Beyond even your enormous abilities, I believe you have incredible potential. I hope you will grant me the privilege of serving under someone like you."

Joshua stared down at Cain's head and smiled.

"I'll think about it."

Not bad. Joshua watched Cain walk away before reaching for the doorknob. Not bad at all.

Even in his past life, a fair number of people gathered around him. Of course, Joshua had gently pushed them away—he'd promised himself he would spend the rest of his life under the one who had protected him. Joshua thought he would be on the alert for people flocking to Joshua, particularly those superior to his own ability.

That's why I got rid of them, but… Joshua chewed on his lip. Kaiser, why?

His heart shook. Broken friendship, broken trust.

Naturally, his mind went to the conversation he'd had with the Duke the night before.

Draxia Bell Grace. A man he'd once called friend.

"Damn it." His grip on the doorknob tightened. A searing headache was pressing down on his skull.

I just want to go to sleep.

"Young Master Joshua?" An old butler had come up behind him with a troubled expression. "Are you feeling unwell?"

"I'm fine," he said. He tried to push the door open.

"The table is set for Young Master Joshua," the butler ventured. "Everyone is looking forward to you—"

"If that's the case, could you please inform them that I'm not feeling well and won't be able to attend?" Joshua didn't bother to turn around.

"This isn't a dinner party," said the butler with a shake of his head. "This dinner is prepared for you by Duchess Vanessa. Your mother, Lady Lucia, is already there."

Joshua's eyes darkened.

"What?"

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