Chapter 53

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“You know what? You can go ahead and fuck off.”

“What is this? What’s happening?” Veron couldn’t believe his eyes: the elite Knights of Villas were scattered across the floor, moaning in pain.

They were all defeated? Funnily enough, everything was done by one boy, whose underdeveloped body was half the size of an adult knight’s.

“Keugh!” Muker was the first to collapse. The bloody phlegm coming out of his mouth made it clear that he had severe internal injuries. Clearly, even a certified B-Class Knight was no match for the Young Master.

Veron and Muker gaped at Joshua, trembling with shock and fear. How is it possible for a child to defeat a man-wielding knight with his bare fists? One hit straight to Muker’s lower abdomen had put him on his back. Joshua didn’t even draw a weapon—although that assumed he had one, to begin with. He just looked like a cute kid running at Muker with his little hands.

A knight stepped in front of Muker to try to protect him from Joshua’s advance. The knight was decked out across the floor by Joshua’s punch in no time at all.

Damn it. Muker cursed Joshua. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t afraid of the boy. Death was too good for the brat; Muker decided he’d cut up Joshua all day long.

“Heup!” Muker dashed towards Joshua, enveloping his sword in mana as he ran. The clear, flowing mana of a B-Class Knight was an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Joshua chuckled and casually punched at Muker.

The result?

Well, it’s safe to say it worked out just fine for Joshua.

Muker’s sword stopped neatly against Joshua’s hand, sending Muker staggering back. No ordinary person would have been able to predict the blade’s trajectory even if they somehow knew the exact distance between them. It was perfect—perhaps even godlike.

Muker, however, was more concerned with Joshua’s other fist, which was headed straight for his stomach.

“Ugh.” Muker bent 90 degrees and dropped to the floor. The brutal impact rattled his body and left him reeling as he desperately fought to drag his battered frame back into action.

I have no choice but to accept it now. Muker was dead certain he couldn’t deal with Joshua.

Muker groaned as he forced his jaw open. “Who are you?”

“Does it matter?”

“It matters to me.” Muker put up a strong front, but his heart was ready to burst with surprise. It wasn’t fair—how could he, a B-Class Knight, be beaten down with a single punch?

But he’d felt it rippling through his body as those tiny fists slammed into his stomach, that razor-sharp energy.

Mana. Only a ‘master’—an A-Class Knight at a minimum—could infuse mana into his bare fist. Muker couldn’t believe such a child could have obtained that level of perfection, but…

It was unlikely that the boy was known to the rest of the world. His existence was probably a long-kept family secret—and that family could not possibly be ordinary.

“Tell me, Young Master,” Muker said, managing to straighten his back, “what’s your real identity?”

“Do you think knowing will help you feel more at ease?” Joshua laughed at him.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Don’t make excuses for losing. Don’t chase others’ strength; instead, acknowledge your own flaws. Then you can seek loftier heights.”

Muker was stunned. The boy was right: Muker lost to himself more than he lost to Joshua. It made him understand that sometimes losing is actually winning. When you win, your shortcomings are hidden by the bright light of victory; when you lose, you can find the enlightenment to move forward. Should I have been more aggressive, or, If I’d understood my opponent’s abilities better.

What mattered was that he couldn’t just make up excuses. Was he going to give up and sulk, or, on the other hand, would he use his defeat as a springboard to take the next step?

“Muker! What are you doing?!” Veron screamed at Muker when the knight stiffened like he’d been struck like lightning. He knew he was on the edge of losing his fortune if his knight couldn’t shape up.

Veron whirled to face Joshua. “Who the hell are you?”

“Were you not listening? I already introduced myself: Ash pen Frederick!”

“Don’t make me laugh,” Veron shouted back. “I’ve never even heard of the Frederick family! Do you have any idea how serious of a crime it is to pretend to be a noble?”

Joshua paused. It seemed like Veron resorted to terrible jokes when he was backed into a corner.

“You have no idea who I am, you idiot! I am Veron Shen Villas! The sole heir of the Marquis of Villas, one of the twelve families! I can crush you like a bug with a single word!”

“So noisy.” Joshua’s mild expression disappeared like a ghost.

“Wha—” Muker finally came to his senses, only to see Joshua vanish from his sight.

“First and foremost, I have to crush that nasty mouth of yours.” Joshua swung his fist.

“Ugh!” Veron flopped over like a sleepy baby. “Shut—”

Veron groaned in pain, and his hand shot up to cover his mouth. Something fell from between his fingers and dropped to the ground with a quiet clatter.

It was Veron’s tooth.

“Stop!” Muker dashed between Veron and Joshua’s fist, even though his legs trembled from the exertion.

“Be quiet. There’s nothing left for you to do.” Joshua’s icy gaze pinned Muker in place. “I’m not soft enough to be merciful to my enemies—don’t try to interfere, or I’ll crush you too. Are you willing to die?”

I’m going to die… Muker’s body was wracked with fear. The boy was dead serious about killing Muker and his master, Marquis of Villas or not.

Muker dropped to his knees, and anyone could see it wasn’t the same as when Joshua knocked him over earlier. Consciously or not, Muker was kneeling before Joshua to beg for forgiveness.

“Please have mercy on us, just this once,” Muker exclaimed, beating his head against the ground.

Joshua was intimately familiar with a knight’s pride. He knew it was more dear to a knight than their life and that Muker was willing to cast it away to keep his master safe.

…I remember him. In his past life, this man accomplished nothing. He’d bumbled about gaining nothing and losing everything for Joshua’s sake. Joshua smiled sourly. He couldn’t hold on to his wrath like this.

“I already told you, I’m not charitable enough for mercy.” Joshua gave Veron a hefty kick to the face, sending him rolling away. “What a nuisance.”

Every instinct Muker had screamed that the boy was about to kill them both.

Joshua approached the unconscious aristocrat and snatched Veron’s ring from his hand. It was embossed with swords and shields, marking Veron as the successor of Marquis Villas.

“I’ll be here for a while,” Joshua said in a low voice. “Tell him to come back right away if he wants this back. If he doesn’t… I’ll sell it on the black market.”

The audience could only watch blankly as Joshua’s back disappeared down the stairs.

“...Are you crazy?” Cain’s gaze flicked between Muker and Veron. He took off after Joshua, and, for some reason, Iceline was quick to follow.

That left the teary-eyed Count Rebrecca to clean up the mess.

“...Please take them to the nearest hospital.”

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