Chapter 6

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“Huh?”

A boy with curly blond locks and light armor was walking through the mansion when he noticed something that stopped him dead in his tracks.

This boy was Babel von Agnus, a tanned fourteen year old boy with handsome looks many said he inherited from the Duke. He was also the only legitimate son of the Duke.

His reputation made him seem even more attractive, considering he became a C-Class Knight at the young age of 14.

“Why is that garbage here?” Babel rubbed his eyes, wondering if he was hallucinating. On the first floor of the mansion stood a small boy that resembled his father.

“Joshua—!” he grunted. Ignoring his growing irritation, he slowly approached Joshua. As the distance closed, his sharp eyes shone and his lips curled into a smirk.

“Hey!”

Joshua stared blankly at the wall, making the blond boy seethe in anger.

“How dare you ignore me!” Babel raised his fist at Joshua’s back like a madman. Joshua, however, was oblivious to the incoming danger.

From the moment Joshua was born, Babel despised him. At best, he considered Joshua the byproduct of his father’s idle lust. It infuriated him that Joshua resembled his idol, the Duke.

“Let’s see how long you can keep that act up.”

Whik!

Babel’s fists snapped forward with an audible boom. His speed was unbelievable for a child of his age—the sound alone was proof enough of his prowess.

However…

Whoosh!

What happened next was even harder to believe.


As soon as Joshua entered the mansion, his eyes were glued to the wall. Above the stairs was a wall of portraits. On it was a portrait of someone Joshua could never forget: a middle-aged man with dazzling blond hair, rare golden eyes, and a smile as bright as his hair, rendered on luxurious canvas.

Kaiser von Britten.

Joshua spat the words like rotten food.

They looked exactly the same, but he knew this portrait was not of Kaiser. This was the current emperor of Avalon.

Rationale, however, could not suppress the anger swelling in Joshua’s stomach.

I feel like I’ll go crazy if I don’t release this anger right now. If only I hadn’t seen that face…

Whik!

Just then, he felt a presence approaching from behind. Instinct kicked in and he sharply avoided the strike.

Thwack!

“...!”

A small fist was caught in his hand. The other boy stared wide-eyed at the unexpected sight.

“Ugh…!” Babel’s fist was crushed in Joshua’s hand, drawing a pained groan. Joshua looked at the fist in front of him and squeezed it tighter. The boy made a sound like a dying cat.

Who was this boy? Joshua couldn’t be bothered to recall. He was just grateful to have someone to vent his anger on.

Crack.

Babel broke into a cold sweat.

“Are you crazy?” Babel swore. Joshua’s grip on his fist was nowhere near weak or pleasant.

Of course, he had heard the rumors.

Of course, he had not believed it at the time.

A kid who only shovels horse dung knocked down three of the Duke’s elite centurions? It would be more plausible for a dragon to mate with an orc.

And yet…

Could it really be true? Babel clenched his teeth. His instincts told him to draw mana from his hall into his fist.

“Stop!” From the top of the stairs, a shout resounded across the house.

“Ah! Father!” Startled, Babel turned towards the speaker. It was his father and the lord of the Dukedom, Aden von Agnus.

“What are you doing?” Duke Agnus asked, eyes cold as he slowly descended the stairs. Babel, realizing his fists were already free from Joshua’s death grip, quickly collected himself.

“I greet the Duke.”

Place your right fist over your left breast, and, keeping your right leg straight, kneel with your left leg.

Babel recited a knight’s standard greeting for the umpteenth time in his head. The Duke only nodded slightly without replying.

Ah. Chiffon, at the Duke’s heels, admired the young master. It was a knight’s pride and honor to maintain a dignified appearance regardless of the circumstances.

“I asked what you were doing.” Duke Agnus glanced at Joshua, who did not move, before addressing Babel again.

“We were just greeting each other.”

“Greeting?” Duke Agnus frowned.

“It’s been a long time since I saw him, so I went to greet him, Your Grace.”

“...”

“One handshake is all I needed.”

Duke Agnus looked at Joshua.

“...” Joshua nodded silently.

Chiffon glared scornfully at him.

He dares respond with just a nod to the Grand Duke? Is he insane? Chiffon’s hand reached for the hilt of his sword, awaiting the order to punish the insolent child. However, the order never came.

Instead, the Duke gestured for him to hold.

“Your eyes… are full of poison,” Duke Agnus murmured in a low voice.

To the Duke, seeing Joshua’s face was like looking into a mirror. However, Joshua’s face was awash with a frightening mixture of anger, resentment, and suffering.

Damn it… Joshua muttered inwardly and chewed his lip. This should not be happening. Joshua had a cold personality and an iron-fisted mentality, yet the portrait broke his composure.

And the Duke of Agnus he remembered would never suffer a display of hostility.

Even his own kin…

Then Duke Agnus broke the silence.

“Come closer.”

Joshua’s eyes widened.

“I must verify it myself. Is it true that you used mana?”

“What—!” Babel’s eyes widened.

Mana? This lowly bastard? That’s impossible! He’s just the son of a servant and he’s much younger than me!

“Come closer.”

If the Duke hadn’t spoken again, Babel would have punched Joshua in the face.

“Duke, what are you—?”

Duke Agnus’s heavy gaze shut Chiffon’s mouth immediately.

“Come.”

Joshua chewed his lip. Duke Agnus was one of the few Masters in the entirety of the Empire. Even more, he was one of the Nine Stars, the strongest people in the continent.

If he were to discover an abnormality in my body…

Sussuk!

While Joshua was drowning in his doubts, Duke Agnus appeared before Joshua in the blink of an eye. His movement was eerily silent.

Bump!

When the Duke approached and snatched his wrist, Joshua could do nothing but sweat.

“This—!” The Duke’s normally emotionless face twisted. A moment, a second, a minute passed and his face remained colored with astonishment.

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