“Ugh… What’s happening…?”
“My lord, you’re awake?” Muker lifted his head when he heard the groaning coming from the bed.
“Where are we?” Veron slowly rose to his feet with a frown.
“This is the recovery room in Shani Temple. We brought you here instead of the clinic because of your critical condition… My word, I was so worried.”
The cost of visiting a temple was unimaginably high compared to a general clinic. No one but the rich would dare to set foot in the temple, where the amount of healing you got was defined by your “donations.” Devotees, knights, and nobles were extorted for ludicrous sums of money across Igrant, yet they kept coming. The healing that holy magic could provide was incomparable to what a doctor could do.
“The temple? Why—?”
Veron’s eyes popped wide open, and he shot up from his seat. He ran over to the mirror in the corner of the room.
Muker quietly turned away; he’d expected Veron to act like this.
Whether it really worked or not, the holy magic had at least made the swelling go down… but that didn’t matter.
“WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?!” Veron sobbed and cursed and howled. “My teeth…”
Veron tore at his hair. His clean, bright teeth neatly complimented his handsome face—but now his beautiful, petal-like lips flapped over empty gums. Even his incisors were gone.
“MUKER!” Veron’s face flushed unbelievably red.
“Yes, Young Master,” Muker quietly responded.
“Right now—Get that bastard right now!”
“With my strength, that would be impossible.”
“Useless bastard… Knucklehead! You call yourself a knight after being defeated by that tiny bug?! When I get home, every knight that was with me is going to be severely punished—including you, you imbecile.”
“Go back and find out who the hell those Fredericks are. We’ll find them and burn their estate down to the last strand of grass—” Veron paused. “—Ah, no. It’d be better to cut their heads off one by one while I make that bastard watch. His parents, his brothers, his servants… NOW GATHER MY TROOPS AND BRING ME WHAT I WANT.”
Muker bit his lip pensively. “...Impossible.”
“We have no reason to do that—”
“‘Reason’, you say?! What are you talking about? The heir of Villas was humiliated… yet you say we have ‘no reason’?”
“No one would believe that a boy defeated an aristocrat’s knights, especially the best of the family’s knights… Even if they believed it, the honor of Villas would be deeply stained.”
“How is that important?”
“It is important, Young Master.” Muker forcefully interrupted Veron’s impending outburst. “Sometimes, the family’s honor is more important than life.”
“Wow… this useless knight wants to teach me now?”
“Even if you say that,” Muker continued, ignoring the violent light in Veron’s eyes, “the Marquis might think otherwise.” Veron shivered at the mention of his father. “If our defeat—and revenge—reaches the ears of the Marquis, he might not settle with just punishing us.”
“Damn it!” Veron punched the mirror, scattering bloody shards over the expensive marble tiles. “...Evidence. If I remember correctly, there’s no evidence that that bastard beat us, right?! Like we planned, we have to silence everyone involved.”
Muker remained silent.
“What? What does your silence mean? Do you intend to refuse my order? Are you afraid of the lowly Rebreccas?!”
“The evidence…” Muker’s face hardened. “The evidence was left there.”
“What nonsense are you spouting this time?”
“The Villas insignia.”
Veron’s head jerked.
“It’s… not here,” he mumbled. “The Deon Ring.”
Veron’s expression crumbled. The ring, lavishly carved with the sword-and-shield insignia of Villas, was more than a family heirloom: it was a masterpiece of the Magic Tower, a precious B-Class Deon Ring.”
That shit is worth more than a castle!
“He said that if you want it back, you have to return right away. He said he’ll be waiting… but besides proof, he may have noticed it was more than just a trinket. Perhaps…” Muker’s head drooped. Perhaps everything was intentional.
Muker’s skin was riddled with goosebumps. It was hard to believe a child could have that kind of mind. He couldn’t even begin to fathom what kind of person Ash would become as he grew.
I don’t know… but I do know that he isn’t someone we should anger.
“...He didn’t ask for anything difficult. But, for the time being, I recommend we bide our time.”
“What should I do, then? Should we just give him the artifact?!”
Muker just stared stolidly at him.
“No way… You’re not telling me to apologize to him, right? Never! I can’t do it! Me? Veron, apologizing to an insect?! Do you even know what you’re saying?”
“He told you to come in person, but… let’s send a proxy first.”
“What do you mean?”
“Young Master! Are you still here?” Cain approached Joshua with a flabbergasted face. He thought Joshua had left the buildings, so he swept the entire area to find him. It turned out he’d just been watching from the corner of the building.
“Were you looking for me?” Joshua grinned when he noticed the sweat glistening on Cain’s brow.
“You left first, so I thought you would be around here somewhere.”
“Did you help Count Rebrecca? It looks like you’re having a hard time tidying up the place.”
“I’m simply carrying out your directions, master,” Cain said, drawing a blank stare from Joshua.
“That’s what you call ‘over-loyalty’.” Joshua laughed.
“It’s how I roll.”
“It’s not style.”
“Even if you don’t like it, there’s nothing you can do about it. More importantly… are you going to be okay?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, the Marquis of Villas… What’s going to happen now? It doesn’t seem like things will go according to plan.”
“Of course it won’t.”
“I’m referring to this.” Joshua pointed to the ring resting on the table.
“Do you honestly believe Veron Shen Villas will come back here?”
“Then what do you mean?” Cain eyed him questioningly.
“He can’t not come because I have his treasure in my hands.” Joshua fiddled with the Villas signet. “But, perhaps, he will send a proxy… a representative trustworthy enough not to disclose sensitive information.”
“And who might that be?”
“Arcadia is rife with rumors. They say Accent rules the Emperor’s Night, but the House of Villas rules over Accent.”
“Ah, I know that!”
“If those rumors are true, he will come to me… and then, we know what happens next.” Joshua flashed a beatific smile.
“My word…” Cain’s mind raced. The Marquis of Villas, one of the twelve families, was a major power in Arcadia. They could have coexisted peacefully, so why would his master suddenly make enemies of them? It turned out it was all part of his master’s strategy to reach a particular goal…
Perhaps you will grow more powerful than even I anticipated…
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