Chapter 69

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The day after, Joshua had assumed his roommates would be bombarding him with questions; but, to his surprise, the two of them were quiet. You might even call it peaceful.

Icarus was deep in his thoughts yesterday and only returned around midnight. Agareth, too, walked out with a shocked expression and didn’t show his face until the next morning. Joshua didn’t get a chance to bring up the bet, even as a joke.

However, I have no intention of continuing this charade. Joshua sneered.

Right now, Joshua was in a rather spartan room: it contained a desk, a chair, a bookcase, and nothing else. Instructor Kane had called Joshua into his study before classes.

“Ash pen Frederick. What is your true identity?” Seeing Joshua stay silent, Kane continued. “It’s best to look through the student roster and other records. The Frederick estate, in the countryside, is now owned by Viscount Hook—it’s the “Hook estate” now. It says here that Viscount Frederick suffered financial troubles and barely kept his noble status. Five years ago, he sold his entire estate to Viscount Hook.”

Kane had probably pulled this information from the “Imperial Nobility List”. In certain libraries, a list of Imperial aristocrats were available to everyone who needed them—especially members of the Imperial family. Naturally, it took note of where a family lived.

That said, it didn’t go into detail; the risk of the information being exploited by an enemy was too great. Despite the scarce information, Kane had managed to deduce quite a lot.

“The son of the illustrious Sten family was felled in a single strike, by the son of a fallen noble nobody even knew the name of. Even I couldn’t see what you did, or how you did it.” Kane’s experience with swordsmanship extended far beyond the sphere of a B-Class Knight. His sword was known for forcing his peers to fold beneath its crushing weight.

“Your identity makes less sense the more I think about it. Viscount Frederick, the head of your family, vanished ages ago; regardless, he was not a well-known Martial Artist. He doesn’t have any reputation for swordsmanship or spearmanship anywhere on the continent.”

Kane stared at Joshua with narrowed eyes.

“I’ll ask you once again. Who are you?”

“I am… Ash pen Frederick.”

Kane bit back a retort and the two spent a long moment in silence.

“Sometimes, high-ranking nobles or royals from neighboring countries enroll in the Academy with hidden identities.” Kane’s eyes probed Joshua for a reaction, but Joshua’s expression was unchanging.

“Ash pen Frederick.”

“Yes.”

“To be honest, I don’t give a damn what you think. This situation doesn’t sit well with me. Even as a sparring session between students, it still involves the Sten family. This could have ended much worse. Belittling the Sten swordsmanship in front of the noble children is an entirely separate issue.”

“I take full responsibility.”

Kane gave him a questioning look.

“I’ll carry it all.”

“You say you’re gonna take full responsibility…” Kane smiled bitterly. “There was a guy who felt the same as you, last year. Shimizu kun Douglas was his name.”

“Douglas…” The familiar name made Joshua tilt his head.

“The most important thing to remember is that this isn’t a problem you can address on your own. Even among students of the same rank, there’s hierarchy and cliques. You shouldn’t be surprised—family is everything here.

“Amaru comes from the Sten family, and that placed him in certain circles before he even arrived at the Academy. They will see this as a challenge.” Kane looked Joshua straight in the eyes. “Do you understand what I’m saying?

“From now on, those children will bully children from humble households. That means you. They’re afraid of what you did to Amaru and they’ll worry that they’re next—”

“I only have one question,” Joshua interrupted. “Splitting the students into ‘social classes’, disregarding the abuse and intimidation taking place behind closed doors—is this what a teacher, an adult, does?

“I don’t think there’s anything left to learn from a teacher like you.” Joshua got to his feet. “If you leave it alone because you’re afraid of the immediate consequences, their behavior never stops. Ever.”

“Ash pen Frederick.” Kane addressed Joshua’s departing back. “You know, there’s a lot of things that are impossible to change, no matter how hard you try.”

“There’s no such thing as ‘impossible.’ Not trying is for cowards—and I assure you, I am not one.” Joshua seized the doorknob.

“Unless you intend to do something at the Academy…” Joshua halted in the doorframe as Kane spoke. “If all you want is to complete the compulsory education, then I would advise you to take an easier route. You can join the Imperial Knights, it’s the same as mandatory education. With your strength, the admission test will be easy.”

Then I won’t have to waste six years here once I’ve figured out Bronto’s new power. Even if he skipped grades, his stay at the Academy would be four years at minimum. On the other hand, the Imperial Knights were bound to serve for ten years. Kaiser’s proposal was long gone—Joshua’s pride would not allow anything else.

Of course, it’s not like that’s the only method. Joshua recalled the letter he’d sent Kaiser the day before he left the Duchy and chuckled to himself.

He often sneered when he thought about Kaiser.

“What do you think?” Kane pressed on, assuming that Joshua was thinking it over. “Even if you’re already enrolled in the Academy, you should be able to pass the exam with just a little effort.”

“I have no desire to squander my time in a place like this.”

Kane’s face brightened. “Then—”

“But. I have no wish to flee like that. I’m not afraid of anything. Excuse me.” Joshua bowed his head slightly and walked out the door.

Kane stared at the empty doorway.

“I’m a coward…” Kane stared at the warm sunlight streaming through the window. “Would you agree, Shimizu?”


“The warp gate is so useful.” The man who just exited the warp gate took a look around. “It’s been a long time, Arcadia! Ah… Actually, it’s been a couple of years.”

“Hic!” A young man dressed in a brown wizard’s robe hiccuped, drawing the man’s attention.

This is insane. Shawn, the young wizard in charge of the warp gate, snorted to himself and looked away. He was amazed by what he was seeing.

The Magic Tower controls all the warp gates on the continent. It was one of the Tower’s most important assets, and it certainly enforced the Magic Tower’s influence on the continent. Avalon’s knights were just as cautious of the wizards as the wizards were cautious about them.

Shawn was struck by a wave of dizziness and had to clamp his mouth shut to stop himself from swearing. In the deep shadows of the traveler’s blue robe, a little lightning-bolt pattern shone through.

That’s Steropes’s pattern. Who is this man…? Could it be the one he’d heard so many stories about? The idea was enough to make his body tremble.

“Hic!”

“Hey.”

“Y-yes—hic!”

“I’d like to ask you a question.”

“S-say it—hic!”

The man peered at Shawn for a while.

“Can you tell me where the Academy is?”

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