Chapter 73

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Raksha had claimed a spacious chamber on the 4th floor of the Academy, in the far most corner. In some small way, the kids rebelled against the Imperial Family’s oppressive power by forming a sort of Court—though a gaggle of teenagers could not emulate the solemnity of a proper Court.

Besides the sons of the Five Dukes, who completed their Academy life much faster than anyone else, all the sons of the most powerful families are part of the famed Raksha. At the moment, however, only three chairs were set up in a room fit for a hundred. Their owners had already been decided; the other children stood silently behind them.

The girl in the leftmost seat finally broke the suffocating silence. Her voice was crisp and high. She had high eyebrows and vivid green hair that inevitably aroused memories of vegetables.

“I believe everything is in order; shall we start this meeting?”

“What are you making a fuss about, Natasha? Are you sure you’re okay? You’re always in a rush.” A small-eyed boy on the right shrugged his shoulders. His thin chin and broad forehead lent his head a distinct triangular shape. In Natasha’s opinion, he looked like a frightened pig, but his face always exuded smugness.

Natasha muttered “freak” under her breath and clicked her tongue.

“Gehog, you’re way too relaxed, always. Marquis Crombell must be concerned, but he’s too busy to worry about his children.”

“Well, a family business will still be a family business. I’m just enjoying the moment—what’s there to worry about for a kid like me, anyway?”

“Idiot.” Natasha shot Gehog a dirty look.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if Charles de Pontier was here? She’d be much more amusing.”

The mention of the Crombells’ ongoing feud with the Pontiers made Natasha shiver.1

“Don’t you think it’s a good idea?” Gehog grinned. “All else aside, Charles has a lovely face. It’s so much better than you and your moods.”

“What did you say? Say it again!”

“Stop being an idiot and think carefully! Do you think anyone would like a girl who runs her mouth?!”

Natasha flushed and leapt from her seat.

“You—”

“Stop this instant. This isn’t the time for your childish brawl.” The emerald-haired boy in the middle restrained them with his low voice.

Both of them turned to look at Veron shen Villas.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not backing down until that three-headed jerk apologizes for what he said!”

“Oh, really?! Coming from the puked-up vegetable head?!”

“Stop!” Veron stared at Natasha, who rolled her eyes and sighed, and then looked at Gehog.

“Gehog, that’s too much. Natasha only spoke out of concern for you and your father. Why don’t you apologize first?”

“Her concern is unnecessary.”

“The rift between your family and the Pontiers is quite concerning indeed. I’ve heard news that physical fights are happening; how can we, as comrades, not be worried about you?”

“Pfffft.” Gehog was bemused by the way Veron casually labeled them as comrades.

“I don’t know what’s going on elsewhere, but you have no need to be concerned about the Pontier family. As merchants, we can match them in every way; I’m sure that even the Mercenary King is on our side at this point.”

“Are you sure?”

Gehog nodded. “In a few more years, Marquis Crombell will control all the money in the Empire.”

“Don’t rush. Please let me know if you need help, anytime.” Veron smiled softly. “I’ll inform my father—the Marquis of Villas will be happy to assist.”

“Very good.”

“Shall we begin the meeting now that we’re reasonably organized?”

“Have you heard the rumors?” Natasha asked. “Amaru bron Sten was assaulted by a Viscount’s son—what’s worse, a fallen nobleman’s son!”

“They’re correct.” Veron nodded.

“What kind of kid is he? This is amazing!”

“Oh, it’s like that again.” Gehog was taken aback, even knowing Natasha’s masculine tendencies. “Now, how do we do that again?”

“Well… Let’s see how it turns out.”

“This is insane…”

“We can’t take this lightly, Gehog.” Veron shook his head. “Please pay attention.”

“What are you thinking, Veron? He’s a fallen nobleman’s child! He disrespected a high-ranking student—Amaru’s family has ties to the Emperor!”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. Veron is acting weird.”

“We…” Veron’s face tensed nervously. “We’ve met before.”

“Ah?!”

“What?!”

The surrounding students broke into murmurs. It must have been quite surprising to hear that two apparently-unrelated people had already met before.

“You’re kidding, right? That kid already knows the child of Marquis Villas?”

“Who is he really? It’s even rumored that he’s connected to the Fourth Prince, Kaiser von Britten.”

“Is he foreign royalty? Maybe he’s using a pseudonym?” Natasha’s eyes sparkled as she hypothesized.

“Not a chance, Natasha.” Veron’s brow wrinkled. “It’s a wild guess, but as far as my research tells me, none of the Empire’s higher nobility or royalty from other countries have dark blue hair.”

“Hair colors are genetic, which tells us a lot, but what of his skills? Were they unique and powerful?”

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Gehog said in hushed tones.

“I hate to say it, but…” Veron pressed his lips into a white line before smoothing out his expression. “His abilities are genuine. If you asked me if Amaru really got beaten into a pulp, I’d say ‘yes’ without a doubt. The son of Sten is still not even close to being a C-Class; no matter how strong his heritage is, it’s impossible for him to beat Ash. My escort knight was one of his many victims.”

“Your escort knight… Mooker?!” Gehog’s calm shattered. “Mooker is a B-Class Knight! And Ash is a first-year, right? He only recently entered the Academy—is it even possible for him to beat a B-Class Knight?!”

“My word—These… revelations are too much for me to absorb.”

The students around them looked to have similar reactions but stifled their words. None were brave enough to interrupt the children of the Twelve Families.

Gehog gently broached the stillness.

“Why not recruit him? Everything goes well whatever we do anyways.”

“What?!” Veron looked at Gehong, thinking he must have misheard. “What do you mean?”

“Amaru, well… I never enjoyed his company; none of us liked him because he was forced on us. If Ash is truly talented, he will be a great asset for us.”

“That’s what I’m thinking, as well,” Natasha said. “We had to get close to Amaru because he’s a Sten, but things have changed, haven’t they? He sullied his family’s reputation. I don’t think the Stens will be concerned about Amaru anymore.”

“Have you forgotten?” Veron shook his head.” Even with no backing from his parents, his brother will be a hindrance.”

“More importantly,” Veron continued. “Ash pen Frederick—I hate him.” The boy grit his teeth, remembering the humiliation Joshua had inflicted on him.

“Oh… It wasn’t a good relationship?”

“Idiot. What do you think made him so popular among the other students? Come on; there would be no reason for Mooker to attack him.”

Veron sulked while the other two discussed.

“In any case,” he growled. “I won’t sit here and let him do as he wishes.”

“How will you silence him if Mooker was no match for him, and his skills are as great as you claim?”

“Shimizu kun Douglas.” Veron offered them a cheeky smirk.

“Aha!”

“Right. He’s a fallen aristocrat. There’s no one around him.”

I’ll make you regret reaching above your station.


Joshua was in the top floor of the Academy, standing in front of a door.

“Dean’s Office.” Joshua sighed and muttered something inaudible. He’d suddenly been called by the Dean; Joshua had been expecting this, but it still caught him by surprise.

Does it have something to do with Amaru?

This is why he was trying to hide his identity. Too much attention will hinder his recovery—but things didn’t always go as planned.

Joshua rapped on the door with a resigned expression.

“It’s Ash pen Frederick.”

There was no response, despite his heavy knocking. Joshua tilted his head curiously and decided to open the door.

In the middle of the darkened room was a lone man. His body was draped in a black cape, disguising his body.

Joshua had never seen him before, but he was damn sure that this was not the Dean.

“Joshua von Agnus?” The voice was eerie and monotone.

You know who I am?

The man in black examined Joshua’s expression and slowly stood from his seat.

“Looks right.”

Joshua stared into the deep, deep eyes hidden inside the mask.

“Who are you?”

  1. The Crombells are the rich merchant family that the Pontiers have been competing with. See Chapter 35. ↩️

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