Chapter 70

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“Wait, what?”

Joshua found himself in an absurd situation: a student had walked into his classroom and dragged Joshua off to an unfamiliar location. Amaru bron Sten, with his tremendously amazingly tiny eyes, appeared shortly after and bowed his head to Joshua.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry.’” Joshua stared blankly at Amaru. “In my utter ignorance, I mocked the spear. I repent.”

Did he always have this kind of personality?

A noble’s pride was so immense as to be incomprehensible to an ordinary person. They would put their lives on the line for their pride; bowing like this was nigh impossible. It was unthinkable for the Stens, one of the most prestigious families on the continent.

“It’s done…” Joshua grinned bitterly. “I will lower myself since you are my opponent.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“It isn’t anything you should beg forgiveness for.”

“Thank you!” Amaru’s face brightened as he straightened up.

“It’s fine to express gratitude—”

“Can you teach me something?”

So that was what he wanted.

“What?”

“I have no idea what the point is with the stick you used… but before I lost consciousness, I felt a great power pushed into my gut.”

Joshua was confused enough for Amaru to see it in his expression.

“I learned that when two points are connected, the key to finishing the fight quickly is to reach the enemy as fast as possible. It’s the easiest, fastest way.

“However, when I tried it with you, I felt my entire body twist as that power struck me. It seemed simple, but I feel like it’s much more complicated than that.”

He felt the magic “revolving”? Joshua was astounded. I had high expectations because he comes from Arie bron Sten’s blood, but isn’t he better than I thought?

The boy had been struck by an unknown force and wracked by unbearable pain. He’d almost lost his mind, but he still wasn’t ashamed of his defeat; even standing in front of Joshua, an enemy just yesterday, he felt no shame in asking Joshua to teach him martial arts.

Why didn’t I know this guy in my past life? Joshua rubbed his chin and pondered for a moment, then nodded as he found an answer.

Agareth had said it: this young man had a very talented older sibling. As Joshua remembered, Arie bron Sten had one successor, and, unlike Amaru, that child didn’t look anything like his father.

The Sten family didn’t follow the Agnus family in their downfall. They remained fully neutral thanks to the heir’s remarkable ability to read the tides of war and rode it out through the end.

Their family was not originally nobility—their renaissance came after the appearance of Arie bron Sten. After he retired from the front lines, the Sten family did not produce another genius like him for decades. After his disappearance, the Sten family pursued a simpler life.

But now… Sten is still a count. If this guy succeeded him… Joshua’s eyes sparkled as he examined the boy. The Stens would enjoy prestige comparable to the Five Dukes by his estimations.

But there was no “if” in history. It was not for Joshua’s hand to turn around everyone’s life for the better—he had his own life to deal with.

“Can you teach me?”

Joshua’s mouth twitched, and a giggle spilled out when he saw Amaru’s impatiently expectant face.

“I’ll teach you.”

“Really?”

“On one condition—something taken, something given. I, too, have a few questions I’d like you to answer.”

“Then… are we friends now?”

“Friends?”

Amaru nodded eagerly. “Mutual assistance—isn’t that usually what you call friendship?”

Joshua burst out laughing. “It doesn’t matter what you think, but I doubt it will be well-received by your friends.”

“Friends?” Amaru was the one confused this time.

“I met your circle of friends at the cafeteria the other day, remember?”

“Ah, them.” Amaru scowled. “I don’t like them; it’s just stupid to be alone. They follow me everywhere and annoy me. I never thought of them as friends; they’re just a bunch of foxes lusting after power.”

“Then get rid of them.”

Joshua abruptly changed topics.

“Finding euphoria isn’t as easy as you believe.” Amaru’s ears pricked up as Joshua spoke. “...The fastest way to euphoria, while connecting the dots, to be precise. Essentially, it isn’t a straight line. Think about that on your own.”

“You’re not gonna tell me the whole story?” Amaru stared wide-eyed at him. “Does that mean we’re done?”

“You can only grow if you reach an understanding on your own—it’s like research. You’ll get stuck for the rest of your life if you get the answer right away.”

“Well…”

“Now…” Joshua’s eyes lit up. “Let me ask you something.”

Amaru nodded without hesitation. “Anything. Anything except my family’s secret techniques.”

“There’s no need for that.” Joshua was a little embarrassed that the Sten swordsmanship had come up.

“I have two inquiries: one is about the Academy’s cliques; the other…” Joshua’s voice became low and muffled.

“Tell me all about Shimizu kun Douglas.”


“An urgent letter has arrived, Your Majesty.”

Emperor Marcus, pondering on his throne, raised his head. Jakan, the chief of his personal intelligence agency, bowed at the bottom of the stairs.

“Speak.”

“A letter from Swallow has arrived.”

“Swallow… Must be from Draxia.”

“It says that the plan will be executed sooner than anticipated; therefore, I request your assistance by altering Your Majesty’s commitment to meet the time frame.”

“It seems Thran’s retaliation is stronger than expected.” Marcus laughed. “As We said, no military support is available. Draxia would be pleased if We sent the Empire’s two lords.”

“Send Geschard and Arie, and make sure to tell them to remain discreet. Is that enough?”

“All right.” Emperor Marcus nodded. “We shall order it. But if it comes to light that we’re behind it, we may be accused of war crimes. We’d be condemned across the continent. It’s not something to be concerned about, but there’s no harm in extra precautions.”

With that, Marcus settled back into his throne.

“I—there’s one more thing. I have a separate report for you, Your Majesty?”

Emperor Marcus beckoned for Jaken to continue.

“Joshua von Agnus entered the Academy under the pseudonym ‘Ash pen Frederick.’”

“Ah… what a funny guy.” Emperor Marcus could discuss the strangest things and his expression would show nothing but boredom. Now, however, his eyes sparkled with amusement.

“Yes… He and Amaru bron Sten sparred because Joshua insulted the family’s swordsmanship. It was a fight to restore the family’s honor—but Amaru lost.”

“Sten. Arie’s family?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“Amusing.” The Emperor’s lips curled into an amused grin.

It’s like art. The Stens, one of the greatest and proudest families in the Empire—yet Joshua had so much fun after just his first day of school.

Figures… Even Babel von Agnus was no match for him.

“Jaken.” Emperor Marcus folded his arms.

“Yes, Your Majesty?”

“Have We ever expressed our concern about high-ranking aristocrats’ hasty admissions?”

Jaken quickly shook his head. “I didn’t see any of what you refer to. Good things come in small packages, and His Majesty was kind to those who exhibited the smallest amount of kindness.”

“Yes.” The Emperor’s smile widened. “Jaken, We have a task for you.”

“Name it, sire.”

“Enlist that child in the Knights Templar. We will write a letter of recommendation, if necessary.”

Jaken was shocked. Entering the Imperial Knights was hard enough—but a recommendation letter from the Emperor himself?

His was the highest seat in the Empire, and his word was law. No one could refuse him.

“Of course, We have considered that he defeated Our knights. How silly of Us to suggest that he needs a letter of recommendation.”

Joshua was still a child in the Emperor’s eyes. Even as a child, he claimed to have been born with the greatest talent the world had ever seen.

“The mana test he took was ten steps behind the Imperial Admission test, however.”

The difficulty was increased because it was oriented towards real-world experience. From what the Emperor said, Joshua would be taking an informal exam rather than the official annual exam.

One must put his life on the line or else be labeled a loser and thrown from his seat. He can kiss goodbye to becoming a knight—is there a greater dishonor? The loss would be unimaginable; like unripe fruit falling from the branch, he would become no more than garbage. That was why the Emperor proposed a letter of recommendation.

However, it didn’t take him long to realize that thinking about it was a waste of time.

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