The Academy had a minor incident today. On the fourth day of class, the boy who’d been absent for three days showed up like nothing had happened.
“Please accept my apologies for being late.”
The cadets erupted into whispers when they saw him enter the classroom.
“Ash pen Frederick…” Kane stopped Joshua as he walked in.
“Nice of you to show up three days after the first day of school. You haven’t been here for that long and you’re already missing content.”
“Please accept my apologies.” Joshua bowed his head with a repentant look until Kane shook his head.
“There’s no need to apologize.” Kane gestured for Joshua to raise his head. “However, I expect you’re prepared to accept the consequences of your actions? For example, compensation and such.”
Kane’s voice sounded intimidating at first, but Joshua noticed a tinge of sadness in it as if he was both happy and sad that Joshua had returned. It was like he wanted to know why Joshua hadn’t fled while he had the chance… but he never put those thoughts into words.
Kane took his responsibilities seriously; all of his students were his disciples, and he didn’t want friction between them. His authority as a teacher could curb some of it, despite the students’ aristocratic rank, but he couldn’t solve it just by telling them “No.” Whether he liked it or not, these children wielded more power than you might think. One wrong move could spell his death.
It would have been fine if he just lied low, but… Kane sighed and peered towards the corner of the classroom.
Amaru had been glaring murderously at Ash the moment he stepped through the door.
Kane could only hope that everything went smoothly from now on. Soon, however, his expression firmed.
I’ll do my best to protect everyone. As always, he absolutely could not allow bad things to happen when he could stop them. Haven’t I been successful so far?
I need to delay this for as long as I can. Even if it’s only a spar, we’re talking about Amaru here. I wouldn’t know what to do if both of them lost control.
“Please take your seat immediately. Class must continue.”
“Yes, instructor.” Joshua shuffled over to his seat under Kane’s watchful gaze.
“Now that everyone’s here, I’ll continue my lecture. The theory I’ll discuss now will show up in the upcoming exam, so I need your eyes and ears on me. Pay attention.”
Agareth, seated next to Joshua, leaned over.
“Why did you come back?” he muttered.
“What do you mean?”
“You didn’t hear? Frederick’s manor is in ruins! And if you did know, does that mean you’re the last of your line?”
“Oh…” Joshua’s relaxed. “They did their research.” They must have numerous connections, as expected of the nobility’s children.
“Yeah… It’s been well-publicized among the students. When you didn’t show up for days, Amaru must’ve used his family’s connections to sniff it out. He’s definitely flexing, but he’s just that powerful.
“It’s still not too late. It told you that bending would make everything easier, right? Just take my advice! Instead of living like that, just try lowering yourself a little.”
Joshua opened his mouth to reply, but he stopped when he saw the puppy eyes Agareth was giving him—half pitying and half cute. Icarus met Joshua’s eyes from the front row and gave him a similar look.
I knew it before they said anything. No doubt there was a huge fuss when he disappeared from school.
Joshua chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’m still going to show you how to stick to your beliefs.”
“This guy really—!” Agareth was fuming next to him, but Joshua had already closed his ears. It was obvious why they were so worried, but Joshua had other things to worry about. His conversation with Lugia had given him a lot to think about.
[You must be bursting with questions for me?]
“I want to know how you found out about my revenge… and what are Bronto’s other power? And did you really come back in time with me!?”
[No, no, no. I didn’t travel back in time with you. Who are you again? I can’t seem to remember.]
[What a chump. Seriously?]
The childish voice rattling inside Joshua’s head made him purse his lips. He wanted to complain but immediately killed the thought when he remembered that Lugia could read his mind. It felt weird to get angry at a voice inside his head, considering it was a… voice inside his head.
[Consider your choices carefully. I’ve got the upper hand here, so I don’t think I’ll be the one with regrets if you turn me down. What are you gonna do if I decide to just shut my mouth and go to sleep? Aren’t you in a hurry? Hmmmmmm? Time is ticking, Joshua.]
Joshua sighed. He already knew this was a battle he would lose—he never really had a choice, to begin with.
“What are your conditions?”
[I’m glad you’re coming around.] Lugia spun cheerfully like it was swimming through the air. [It’s no biggie, just…] Lugia stopped directly in front of Joshua. [Find the connections from your past life and… take care of yourself a little more. Nothing bad will happen if you value yourself a little higher.]
“What…?” Joshua was taken aback. He’d been worried that Lugia, the self-proclaimed demonic spirit, would spout some pompous demands—but “value yourself?” Really? The first condition made some sense, but the latter was just absurd. It would’ve been easier to believe if Lugia had told him to dive into the Demon Realm and slay the Demon King.
[Are you going to do it or not? Give me an answer already, cause I’m tired! You too, right? You’re busty too, right?]
[Are you gonna answer, or do I have to send you back to sleep?]
Joshua mulled it over for a while.
“Deal.” He nodded. For the time being, there was nothing to be concerned about. Everything was going according to plan, and that was fine by him.
[Finally. It took you that long to say one word?]
Lugia’s body hummed.
[A vow made to a deity like me is a great burden to bear. Try not to forget that.]
[Do you really, truly believe that Bronto’s power is “foresight?”]
Joshua’s face lit up. Of course he did—he’d seen the dream with the burning Agnus manor. He assumed it was because of Bronto’s power.
[Sorry… but you’re obviously wrong. It wasn’t because of Bronto.]
“What do you mean?” Joshua scowled. The dream had felt so real that it was difficult to believe Lugia.
“I have good memory. The demise of the Agnus house will definitely happen. That wasn’t a dream, it was an oracle.”
[I mean… who doesn’t have a good memory when it comes to bad things? I said it wasn’t Bronto’s power; I didn’t say it wasn’t a lucid dream.]
[That isn’t the point right now. It’s said that when you think about someone or something hard enough, it finds its way into your dreams. In your case, you kept thinking about getting revenge on him*. That’s why he was there.]*
Joshua stared blankly at Lugia.
[To put it another way, the “oracle” you had came from one of the energies in your body: divine power.]
“The divine power?”
[Some idiots think that divine power only does things like healing or bringing the dead back to life. They couldn’t be more wrong.]
[Literally, the power of God. Have you ever heard of a high priest receiving divine warning of impending danger?]
[Your dream is something similar. The power of divinity can do things no human can. If you can fully absorb the energies within you…] Lugia crackled with electricity. [No human can stand in your way.]
“Ah…” Joshua let out a deep breath. “That…” He was a little put-off by Lugia’s comments, but he couldn’t linger on it now.
“Thank you for the story… Now tell me what Bronto’s real power is.”
Lugia gently drifted to the ground as if catching its breath.
[The Origin Stone, the Gem of the Gods… Bronto, imbued with the power of lightning, is the fastest and most destructive of them. Its true power is “expansion.”]
“Instructor!” A loud voice from the corner of the classroom interrupted Joshua’s memory. “Are you really going to end the class like this?”
“What?” Kane gave Amaru a perplexed look.
“Instructor, you approved our fight—and not just any fight. This is for the nobles’ dignity. My family, and… what’s left of his.” Amaru put on a despondent expression. “If you’ve changed your mind, I have no choice but to believe that you’re allowing my entire family to be mired in shame.”
This is the opposite of what I was hoping for! The hierarchy between students and teachers was only skin-deep; in Avalon, family trumped everything.
“I don’t know what you came up with, but if you think I’m just gonna stand around after the shame he brought us, you’re wrong. The stick is the best medicine for a disobedient dog, after all.”
“I think this works surprisingly well.” A soft voice sounded from the other side of the classroom. “I wasn’t planning on walking away.”
“After all…” Joshua paused for a moment and let out a hearty chuckle. “Sticks are the best medicine for mad dogs.”
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