Chapter 75

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“Is that him?” Natasha’s expression shifted subtly as she examined Joshua. She stepped back from Icarus as if she’d lost interest. “It’s completely out of the blue, isn’t it?”

“Ash pen Frederick—You finally showed yourself, huh? Anyways, this is the first time I’ve ever remembered the name of a useless trash commoner like you.” Veron scowled, revealing his magically-implanted front teeth.

“What is this bastard saying… Are you gonna get in trouble, Veron?” Gehog asked with a calm expression.

“What is he doing?” Gehog lifted a finger and twirled it around his temple, implying that Joshua was sick in the head. The surrounding children laughed.

“Stop!” Veron glared at Joshua. “I told you to halt! Do you care what happens to this guy?” Veron stomped on Icarus’s head and grinned viciously at Joshua. Icarus was half-conscious at this point.

“I’m sure you know how this works, so don’t even think about moving. You know that I have the authority to expel you and them from the Academy; I also have the power to torment their families for the rest of their lives. You must have a reason for coming to the Academy. Don’t throw it all away now.”

Joshua finally came to a halt, much to Veron’s pleasure.

“Ah, finally. Now we can talk. The reality here is that family power is everything—so what options do you have?”

“Are you really that great? What do you want?”

“Seems pointless,” Natasha mumbled under her breath.

“Let me ask you something… Why return this?” Something on Veron’s finger glittered in the sunlight as he waved his hand. “I don’t know what it’s like for lesser or fallen aristocrats like you, but this is a bigger deal than you think. You could buy an entire castle for this thing.”

“Veron, he wouldn’t even know if you told him. It’s just a normal ring to that kid.”

“No, he wouldn’t have taken it and threatened me with it if he hadn’t known.” Veron shook his head.

Gehog shrugged. “If that’s the case, this makes me even more curious about your relationship. And I supposed you’ve insulted Veron too much.”

“Is it appropriate to talk about this in front of these kids?” Natasha looked worried. “If the rumors get around, your father’s going to hear—”

“Who would dare?! At this point, it doesn’t matter. If somebody lets slip to my father, I’ll stop at nothing to hunt them down.”

A stiff silence weighed down on the assembled students.

“Answer me,” Veron said to Joshua. “You could have scared me for a long time with this; it would have ended poorly, but you would have lived.”

“If I did, what would be the difference between you and me?”

“What?!”

“I’d be no different from scum like you, right?”

The students stirred in surprise. They couldn’t believe someone was trash-talking the Villas heir, especially where so many people could see. Was he insane?

“The Sten swordsmanship also got called trash…”

“Is he insane? What makes him so bold?”

“How can you talk like that unless you belong to the Imperial Family or the Five Dukes?”

“Three of the Twelve Families are represented here—even the Five Dukes wouldn’t challenge us. I mean, I guess Duke Agnus or Duke Dremblin could…”

Veron smirked.

“Of course you keep up the act. I would’ve been upset if you changed your tune.”

Veron then pumped mana into his Deon Ring. A faint light rose from it, growing larger and larger. Soon, Veron’s entire body was coated in the light; through the glow, a faint rustling could be heard.

The light fell away, revealing Veron completely encased in plate mail. Its magically-lightened bulk was a stunning, polished silver. Red feathers on the helmet’s crest flapped elegantly in the wind, and the sword-and-shield motif of the Villas house was embossed prominently on the chest.

“Kyaaa! Isn’t Veron’s Deon Ring always gorgeous compared to the other B-Class?”

“Should I get mine modified?”

“Who knows,” Natasha snorted at Gehog, “maybe your father will be happy to trade you for a good Deon Ring.”

“Idiot.”

Veron stepped closer, and Gehog licked his lips in anticipation.

“Wake him up.”

Icarus was doused with cold water from a barrel they’d had prepared.

“Ugh…” The water jolted Icarus awake. Even soaking wet, his sky-blue hair and immaculate white skin glowed.

“I’m going to break his limbs, one by one. Having the wrong friend is a crime, you see.”

“Fuck!” Agareth exclaimed.

“As your senior, I’d advise you to stay still unless you want to see this gentleman and his family die.”

Joshua met Icarus’s eyes.

It must be painful and frightening. Icarus’s tiny frame shook uncontrollably.

Yet, his gaze was unwavering. Something in Joshua’s heart soared and raged when Icarus solemnly shook his head.

I know what it’s like to have something you need to protect.

“You’re just like Shimizu kun Douglas, this bastard’s older brother.” Veron jerked his chin in Agareth’s direction. “An idiot who didn’t know his place and dared to cross the line and try to change this place. A complete idiot. Instead of joining hands with me and living a pleasant life in the Academy, he would rather go to the professors to snitch and beg for help. He didn’t even know we’d already bought out half the staff in the Academy. Funny, right?”

“Stop… Please stop.” Agareth desperately tried to block his ear.

“It was annoying, you know? I mean, who would take the tough road when you can live in luxury? But you know what I did with him?” Veron grinned at Agareth. “I turned him into a cripple.”

Joshua’s eyes dilated slightly.

“Of course, it got waved off as an accident. I initially planned on just murdering him, but I figured that would be too inconvenient. Making him atone as a lame didn’t seem like such a bad idea.”

“Well… No one can use their funny words when we threaten their family, right?”

Natasha raised her hand. “The Douglas family cannot threaten us without concrete evidence.” She licked her lips. “Don’t worry. Your name was Ash, right? If you pay close attention, I’ll make sure you avoid any unfortunate accidents.”

“You, Natasha—!” Gehog started to protest but noticed her give him a little wink.

Are you planning on playing with him before you crush him? Gehog stepped back. You got it right, crazy woman.

“Is that all right, Veron?” Natasha asked.

“...My business comes first. It’s time to get rid of that unfortunate eye color; it seems to be begging me to remove them.”

“Ummm… I don’t want to scratch those blue eyes because they’re so uncommon…” Natasha thought about it for a second. “Should I just give up? Hmm, no…” She suddenly clapped her hands. “We’re doing this because Veron noticed you first, right? When I think about it, having one eye is a different kind of charm too!”

“Hahaha. Right, crazy bitch.”

“...What did you say, Gehog?” Natasha gave him a frosty glare.

“I didn’t say anything.” He waved his hand dismissively.

“Huh?!”

Veron stopped paying attention to them and turned his focus back to Joshua.

“Let me pull those cheeky eyes out before I break this guy’s arm.” Veron stepped forward confidently. The fear creeping up on his heart had been washed away by the reassuring weight of the Deon Ring wrapped around him.

A C-Class Knight can barely scratch a B-Class Deon Ring. If you’re not as careless as that idiot… Veron gripped his blade and cautiously approached Joshua, watching for a surprise attack.

“You mentioned something like… ‘Family is everything here.’”

Veron paused. “Okay, so you plan to rely on your feeble strength to flee—”

“You’re kind of right.” Joshua drew something out of his sleeves.

“That’s—!” Veron, the closest person to Joshua, quickly figured out what it was. “Deon Ring?!”

No way! There’s no way a fallen noble would have a Deon Ring.

“You!” Veron backed away, recalling Mooker’s words.

“Let me show you the power you were boasting about.” Joshua shoved the Deon Ring onto his finger and injected it with mana.

A thundering resonance, far beyond what Veron displayed, shook the air around them.

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