“Do you think Baron Provalum can truly get the elves in a week, Young Master Veron?” One of Villas’s knights asked.
“Well… It’s gonna be difficult.”
“Yes… but may I inquire as to why you gave him a strict deadline?”
“I wanna try something fresh… There’s a lotta bitches around, but this is a good main course… And a little grip on the Baron isn’t a bad idea.”
“Wouldn’t it be wiser to extend the deadline a little? Considering the product’s quality—”
“There’s a reason I gave Provalum a week.” Veron looked around calmly.
“Yes, Young Master.”
“What do you believe is the most essential issue for a monarch to address?”
“That’s…” Muker’s face contorted anxiously. “...Is it the carrot and the stick?”
“Sure, carrots are important.” Veron chuckled. “But, it depends on the situation, too. Would a pony eat the carrot if he’s already full?”
“That’s Provalum. Only low-ranking nobles can become the ‘Emperor’s Night’ and acquire as much wealth and reputation as a higher-ranked noble. So, what does a fat pony like this need?”
“Yeah,” Veron nodded. “When dealing with his underlings, the king should prioritize the whip; it turns hungry animals, venomous bastards, and fat pigs into tamed dogs instantly, like magic.” Veron flashed a toothy grin. “I’m going to crush him. And then, when he’s most afraid, I’ll offer him my hand, and he’ll never think about disobeying again.”
“That’s brilliant…” Muker was in awe of the way his master deftly manipulated his minions. And only fourteen years old, at that! Muker couldn’t even imagine how much Veron would grow in the future, given how far he’d come in his short life so far.
“More importantly, I thought he’d find out today given his abilities.” Veron chewed his lip like he really felt sorry for Provalum.
“I’ll inform a receptionist to be prepared to serve you.”
“No… Today I want to eat out. That commoner’s service was remarkable last time.” Veron paused and gestured towards a nearby restaurant. “I’ve been out for a while; I’m tired and starving… I’ll think about it while I eat.”
“Very good, Young Master.”
Veron’s entourage moved towards a restaurant with the bold slogan, “Experience the cooking of the Imperial Palace’s chef!”
“Young Master Joshua?”
Joshua and Cain’s heads snapped up at the same time at the startling sound of a woman’s voice.
“What is it, Miss Iceline?”
Iceline Jean Rebrecca, a girl with blue, flowing hair and a cold expression.
In a place like this, I knew we had a high chance of running into the Rebreccas, Cain thought. They left the Duchy early because they said they had an urgent matter to attend to.
“So—” Cain jumped out of his seat and looked around. No way. He discovered a young man eating in an inconspicuous corner with only a handful of escorts. In front of him was a man with huge, sad eyes and an unmistakable resemblance to Iceline. The Rebrecca family head was gesturing in Joshua’s direction with a smile.
“Count Rebrecca,” Cain walked up to the Count and bowed, “it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.”
“I was hoping to have a peaceful meal—I hope I’m not bothering Sir Cain and Young Master Joshua.”
“You’re too kind.” Cain waved it off.
In Cain’s opinion, Poncel Jean Rebrecca didn’t act like a noble—but not in a negative way. He was born with a weak body but a humble personality. Even when he was hurt, he never said anything negative about others. He always spoke up for people, even commoners. Nobles, even a high-ranking one such as a count, would be despised and ridiculed by the other nobility if they dared to speak with a commoner. Count Rebrecca, however, could not be swayed: he remained ever kind and humble. Unknown to most nobles, Count Poncel Jean Rebrecca was greatly respected by the commoners.
Cain couldn’t wrap his head around the way the Count greeted them, but the Rebrecca knights didn’t seem to think anything of it.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you, Young Master,” Iceline said to Joshua as she straightened from her curtsey.
“Indeed, Lady Iceline.”
“I thought it might be you. Young Master Joshua’s hair would be unusual anywhere on the continent…” Iceline fluttered her fingers as if grasping for words. “I—”
“What is this? Why are there so many people hanging around at this time of day?” A group of people came up the stairs just as Iceline was about to speak.
“I’ll take care of this so you can relax,” one of the newly-appeared knights said.
“Wait a moment…” Veron Shen Villas’s eyes lit up. Did Arcadia always have a beauty like that? Veron licked his lips as he groped Iceline with his rude gaze.
Her porcelain white skins, her aura of purity that conjures a man’s beastly instinct… Veron could already feel his lower half stiffening.
How would she act when she’s pinned underneath me?
“This is the first time I’ve met such a lovely woman in Arcadia,” Veron said, managing to suppress his desire beneath a pleasant smile. “May I inquire as to which family you come from?”
Iceline remained frostily silent; this boy’s hungry gaze made her skin crawl like she was being drowned in maggots.
“This is Veron Shen Villas.” Muker stepped forward when he saw Iceline’s stiff reaction. “Marquis Villas’s eldest son.”
“The Marquis of Villas!” Cain groaned under his breath.
Even in a place as dense with aristocrats as Arcadia, Marquis Villas stood firmly at the top of the food chain. No one could compete with the twelve marquis—known as the “twelve families”—except for the five mighty dukes. Furthermore, as one of the Emperor’s trust confidants, Villas’s military power was considerable even amongst the twelve families.
And Veron Shen Villas was his only son…
“From my memory—which, by the way, is excellent—I don’t recall you being a member of the Imperial family, nor a duke… because, you see, we only have five of them.”
Iceline was startled and stepped back.
“So, if you’re a lower rank than me or even a noble without a title, how dare you…”
“Why aren’t you showing the Young Master the respect he deserves?” Muker’s hand dropped to the hilt of his blade threateningly.
Cain was about to step forwards, but someone beat him there.
“Please accept my apologies for my daughter’s coldness, Veron… It is, however, a privilege to encounter the kin of the renowned Marquis of Villas.”
“And who are you?” Veron tilted his head at Poncel.
“I am Poncel Jean Rebrecca, the patriarch of the Rebrecca family.”
Contempt flickered through Veron’s eyes as he gazed at Poncel’s lowered head.
“I’m not asking you to apologize, Count Poncel Jean Rebrecca.” Veron turned his head to Iceline. “I’m asking you, aren’t I? Now, I can’t stand the insult.”
Veron was being blatantly provocative. Naturally, nobles would be offended if lower-ranking nobles didn’t pay their respects… but that was for public occasions. Who would be prepared to show their respect in such an informal environment? Obviously, Veron intended to embarrass Iceline.
“You should apologize.”
He was utterly trampling on the Rebrecca family’s dignity.
What a burden… Isn’t he just a jerk who uses his family name to stir up trouble? This is only because he knows he can get away with it. Tsk.
The son—not even the Marquis himself—was ignoring the head of a noble family.
Ah, this, really… Veron licked his lips lasciviously, oblivious to the burning stares of the people around him. I’m looking forward to it.
“You don’t seem to understand your fault.” Veron stepped closer to Iceline.
“This insult will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
“This is not even remotely amusing.”
“—What?” Veron’s head snapped around towards the unexpected interruption.
“Marquis Villas must be anxious because his one and only heir is a fucked up bastard.”
“You! What did that brat just say?!”
“How dare you!” Muker drew his blade and grinned viciously. “With a wagging tongue like that, you must have a death wish! Make yourself known!”
“Did you just draw your sword?”
Muker flinched. “—What are you talking about?”
“If you live and die by the blade, I assume you understand the significance of your actions.”
“What kind of nonsense—”
“You have to be held accountable for your actions.”
What is this energy?! Muker’s eyes spun as the air seemed to strain, making his entire body tense.
The epicenter of this storm was, of course…
What is this energy oozing from that little boy?
Joshua’s energy was narrowly focused on Muker, because everyone around them remained oblivious of his terrible presence. He took a slow step forward, and Muker swallowed nervously.
“You asked who I am?” Joshua’s eyes bore down on Muker. “My name is… Ash den Frederick.”
“Ash… den Frederick?”
“You don’t have to think about it that hard. I’ll sear it into your mind right now.”
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