"Duke!" The sudden appearance of Duke Agnus left Chiffon flustered.
"I asked you what you think you're doing, Chiffon."
"I—!" Chiffon struggled to swallow as he faced down Duke Agnus's deeply sunken eyes. No doubt it looked like he was bullying Joshua.
Isn't this an inexcusable situation? I'm doomed.
While Chiffon was flailing around for options, Vanessa quietly stepped forward.
"I called Lucia and the boy over. They claimed you were taking them to the capital, so I figured I'd have lunch with them before they go."
The way Vanessa emphasized the word "capital" made Duke Agnus consider his next words carefully. He carefully looked around: the Duchess's eyes smoldered with anger; Lucia was anxious and restless; the food…
Vanessa's reaction was all the explanation he needed.
"How long are you going to stand around like that?"
"Ah…" Chiffon hastily sheathed his sword. Likewise, Lugia disappeared with a shake of Joshua's hand.
"We are leaving tomorrow morning…" Duke Agnus eyed Joshua and Lucia. "Just get up…"
"All right." Joshua stood from his seat without hesitation and approached Lucia. "Mother—"
"Ah! Yes…" Lucia was gently escorted out of the dining room.
A voice came from behind Duke Agnus as he was about to leave.
"Why are you doing this now?" Aren't you even going to deny it? Why are you always keeping me in the dark?"
"...Do you hold a grudge against me?" Duke Agnus slowly turned to face Vanessa.
"I'm sorry." Vanessa's face crumpled.
"What is it that you are so upset about?"
"—Is it because I took interest in Joshua and Lucia all of a sudden?"
"Don't bring up that bitch in front of me! Is this what you married me for!? You never cared about me, your pride and honor always came first."
Duke Agnus remained stoic throughout her violent outburst.
"When you're born into the Imperial family, an arranged marriage is a given. I didn't marry you because of love, so I'm not going to get that. However—!" Vanessa bit her lip. "I will not remain silent if that child harms Babel. Babel means everything to me, just as family and honor means everything to you. As one of the Empire's highest nobility, so long as you have basic manners you will be well looked after—"
"How about some 'basic manners'?" Duke Agnus smirked. "Would a person with 'basic manners' do such a thing?"
"Did you think I wasn't aware?" The Duke's steely gaze bored down on Vanessa and Chiffon.
He knew everything.
Lucia nagged Joshua for over an hour after they left the dining room.
I'm sure you were upset. Joshua smiled bitterly. He hadn't mentioned anything in advance, despite the tremendous changes going on. From Joshua's perspective, it wasn't a big deal—he was just too busy to talk. But that was just an excuse.
Shouldn't I have time to talk to my mom? We live in the same house.
Humans constantly create excuses that are favorable to them, and those excuses are gathered and fastened to their parents' hearts.
Joshua stopped berating himself when he noticed he had a guest waiting outside his door.
Cain's footsteps echoed in the empty corridor as he approached Joshua.
"I was anticipating your arrival." The knight bowed before Joshua.
"Have you been waiting for a long time?"
"Please." Cain chuckled and shook his head. "I'm not that sluggish."
"Hmm… Is that so?" Joshua cast Cain a doubtful look.
"Did you have a good meal?" Cain sheepishly changed the subject.
"You weren't in your room, so I asked the butler."
Was the butler in on the game? Every part of this affair had to have been meticulously prepared. No doubt Vanessa had her fingers in every corner of the Duke's estate—another reason for Joshua to move to the capital as soon as possible. He wasn't bothered by the insects swarming around him, but he wouldn't let them bother his mother.
"I heard you're leaving for the capital tomorrow."
Joshua raised an eyebrow at him.
"It's just my opinion, but… I believe it's a fantastic choice. The Young Master can build up his power safely with the support of the capital, and you'll be able to learn something from the Grand Duke."
Cain hesitated for a moment, then his expression firmed.
"I have a request, Young Master."
"What I mentioned before; my heart's desire. Will you accept me as your servant?"
Joshua's expression fell. Cain's question was troubling—clearly, the more capable his followers all, the easier his life was. He was already planning on recruiting talent anyway. However, there was one thing he had to make sure of.
"Do you have any idea what path I'll take? You've come to the wrong spot if glory is what you want. People will reject the path I walk because it is paved with blood." Joshua stared Cain dead in the eyes. "Do you still wish to follow me?"
"A knight merely trusts and obeys his master." Cain slowly knelt before Joshua. "No matter how much blood lies on their path. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I, as a knight, will stake my life on Young Master Joshua.
"Would you grant me this honor?" Cain slammed his fist over his heart.
Joshua broke his grim facade with a bright peal of laughter.
The next morning, the Duchy's staff were busy as bees. No one complained, even though they'd hosted a grand dinner the night before.
Today was the day the Duke departed for the capital, after all.
"Attention!" The Duke's knights were lined up in front of the castle's main gate as Duke Agnus made his appearance.
"Salute!" As one, their swords were raised to the sky. Hundreds of knights moved in perfect unison, like clockwork.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Everything is fine."
"You may be acting as a fallen noble, but your attendants are not limited. Don't you think it would be inconvenient to be accompanied by only one knight?"
"Did you forget how I used to live?" Joshua grinned and tossed a glance over his shoulder at Cain. "One is excessive."
"All right. Well, then." Duke Agnus snapped his reins.
Joshua spared the estate one last glance before he followed the Duke through the forest of gleaming blades.
"Wait!" A thundering voice broke the solemn silence.
We're looking for editors, and Korean and Chinese translators, you will be PAID per chapter.
You can use these forms to apply: