“The Fourth Prince knows that bastard?”
“Heup! I mean… Yes, the Prince went out of his way to approach Ash first.”
When Veron shen Villas heard what had happened, he threw a tantrum.
“What are you waiting for?” Veron yelled and shook. “Tell me every detail!”
“Regarding that…” Muker recounted what he’d heard. Ash pen Frederick was roommates with the two failed students from Veron’s class when Veron wore a yellow tie instead of a red tie. He couldn’t believe that Ash was accepted into the prestigious Academy to begin with. And then Ash and Prince Kaiser met up…?
Veron’s face twisted and turned as Muker spoke, ultimately settling into a savage grin.
“What… is that it?” he asked.
“From what I’ve heard, yes.”
“Are you deaf? Didn’t you just say he knows the Fourth Prince? What happened after that? Did they talk?”
Muker smiled sardonically. His master had been jittery ever since that incident.
It’s a good thing you didn’t toss me away. Nothing was more disgraceful for a knight than to be abandoned by his master.
Once chosen, it was a knight’s duty to protect their master with his life. In Avalon, backtracking on your beliefs was unthinkable, but Muker had to consider what would happen if his Master threw him away in the middle of this chaos.
“Yes. The Prince supposedly whispered something in his ear, although it was only a brief moment—”
“That’s it? Useless bastard.”
“My sincerest apologies.” Muker bowed his head, despite being entirely faultless. Veron gave him a disgruntled glance and then spun around.
“That bug got the chance to meet the Fourth Prince? There’s something else…” Veron smirked. “No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find anyone named Viscount Frederick. Now I’m assuming he’s either a fallen aristocrat or a foreigner…”
The plot thickened the more Veron thought about it. It was clear that Ash was not a fallen noble—no mere fallen nobleman’s child would be able to meet the noblest blood in the Empire. So the only possibility left was…
A nobleman from another country. In addition, a family with close ties to the prince. Veron was dumbfounded.
The sons of many noble houses, including the 5 Dukes and the Twelve Families, spun through Veron’s mind. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never heard of a nobleman in my own country with such remarkable skills as that age.
“Ash pen Frederick…” Veron grit his teeth.
I was over the moon when I heard he’d been accepted into the Academy. At the very least, there were endless ways Veron would be able to bully him.
However, there was an unexpected variable: the biggest variable you could possibly think of, the Prince.
“Damn it!” Veron stared down at his hands. It was Ash’s fault that the family Deon Ring hurt to wear on his finger.
Veron made a quick decision. “Muker!”
“Yes, my lord,” he replied.
“For the time being, send a request to the Moon Gate.”
“What kind of request…?”
“Ask them to find out where that damnable Frederick family crawled out of, even if they have to comb the entire continent.” Veron’s eyes shone. “And, in case you didn’t realize, I also want them to tell me everything there is to know about Ash pen Frederick himself, the bastard.”
“That’s…” Muker bit his lip. “Master, it may be a foolish suggestion, but if you break your pledge now, the entire Villas Estate will lay the blame on you.”
Veron glared murderously at Muker, but the knight didn’t avert his gaze. He knew the gravity of the vow he’d made for his family. Ash had imposed a request on Veron via Muker, who’d come in place of Baron Provalum, who’d come in place of Veron himself.
“The ring will be returned… But, on behalf of your master, apologize and pledge to the Rebrecca family to never stoop to such low behavior again.”
That Ash pen Frederick… Muker scowled. He couldn’t get the boy’s name out of his head.
Regardless, Count Rebrecca had been there as a notary to ensure that Veron kept his promise.
“My pledge?” Veron shot a fishy smile at Muker. “What’s that supposed to mean? What does a promise you made with them have to do with me?”
Muker’s eyes widened. “My lord—!”
“Such flimsy pledges are made to be broken,” Veron spat. “Shut your mouth and get to the Moon Gate. Incompetent fools like you should just listen like an obedient dog.”
“I understand.” Muker’s nails dug into his palm.
“What? Why are you still here? Shoo. Useless scum.”
It’d been a few days since the welcoming ceremony. Unlike Agareth, who’d been sleeping on his stomach since morning, or Icarus, who focused on class with glittering eyes, Joshua was occupied with thoughts totally unrelated to class.
“I received your response… But, Young Master, I couldn’t give up on you. Do you know why?”
The memory of Kaiser’s face brought a sharp smile to his face. Now I know every bit of his personality.
How many teeth did he hide behind that pretentious mask?
He requested I visit the Imperial Palace at least once before I graduated, but I was planning on it even if he hadn’t asked. The Imperial Knights… That place held a lot of memories. Joshua needed something from there.
“Agareth kun Douglas!” Joshua’s thoughts were interrupted by the middle-aged instructor’s irate voice. Even though he was over fifty years old and had a powerful figure, he frowned like a kid.
Since Joshua, Agareth, and Icarus were roommates, they were in the same class. The Academy’s primary curriculum was discovering the cadets’ aptitude, but that wouldn’t happen until their third year. Right now, all the first years took the same classes, regardless of their chosen department. Naturally, as the Empire of Knights, that meant everyone took swordsmanship classes.
Time for some swordplay.
The first, second, and third grades—the underclassmen—took their swordsmanship class together. The Academy was worried that only fighting opponents of a similar level would twist their perception of real war.
Icarus was so focused on the course that he hadn’t noticed Agareth falling asleep. Now, he urgently shook the other boy awake.
“Agareth! Young Master Agareth!”
“Uh? Is it already time for dinner?”
“Pfft.” A few students giggled as they watched Agareth stagger to his feet and wipe the drool off his chin. Their surroundings grew noisy with chatter.
“What a turd.”
“What is he doing? Idiot.”
“How did the Douglas family produce such a moron?”
“He’s a bastard.”
“Agareth kun Douglas, concentrate on your class,” the swordsmanship instructor chastised. “Unless you want to be sent home.”
“Oh, yes! I’m going to concentrate!” Agareth stared forward with his eyes wide open.
The instructor shook his head. “Now, let us continue. The sword is frequently referred to as the king of weapons and the master of death. It is the most powerful weapon in the world. That is why most knights prefer it in battle.”
The commotion faded as the instructor resumed his lecture.
“The present emperor, who attained the highest level of mastery while also governing the entire Empire, and one of the Nine Stars, the Empire’s pride, Duke Aden von Agnus, both wield swords. The five Masters of Avalon are the same.
“So, why is the sword said to be the best weapon?”
One of the students quietly raised their hand.
“Ah, yes.” The instructor nodded and pointed at him to speak. “Amaru bron Sten. I’m looking forward to your answer.”
Amaru stood up. My father is one of the Empire’s most powerful swordsmen—of course he expected me to speak.
“It’s simple. Every weapon except the sword is junk.”
Joshua had lost interest in the class, but Amaru’s response made his eyebrows twitch.
“All weapons except swords are worthless—”
“Yes, no weapon can beat the sword at the same level of skill. I don’t deny that, but your remarks are obviously flawed, Amaru bron Sten.” The instructor shook his head. “Most soldiers are equipped with spears, not swords; this is true in any country. Avalon outfits its soldiers with spears, as well—are you suggesting we teach them swordsmanship instead?”
Amaru shook his head and continued without hesitation. “What I said pertains to people with similar abilities. Disposable soldiers are not included,” Amaru said with pride.
Amaru, a noble to the bone, had been raised to think of spearmen as disposable assets. Most of the cadets nodded along. The common soldier meant as little to Avalon’s aristocrats as sheep.
“The ignorant will overlook the terrain… Those sorts of people are too blind to dodge a weapon, nor do they have the ability to do so. However, trained knights are different. Distance? It’s not an issue with a sword, but a spear? Its length is difficult to move. So long as you attack quickly, it’s an effortless victory.
“Wars aren’t limited to the plains, either. A sword isn’t affected by its surroundings, such as mountainous terrain or cramped environments.” Amaru vigorously powered forwards, taking the instructor’s continued silence as a license to continue.
“I may have been exaggerating a little, but I believe the swords is the finest—”
“That’s hilarious.” A voice from the corner stopped Amaru in his tracks. It took him a moment to find the source of the voice, and it confused him.
Wasn’t that the boy who hung out with those two louts?
“Are all weapons useless except the sword?”
“That’s right, the sword is”
Joshua cut him off. “The sword is, in my opinion, the greatest piece of rubbish ever made...
“Especially those rapiers the girls use.”
What did he say? Amaru was stunned. I misheard, right? Amaru’s mouth flapped wordlessly.
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