Joshua was seething. This should be a place of learning, not a stage for bragging about your family’s power. A child’s mind should have more than one kind of emotion.
Why is this place like this? Is this all they know? They said things like “murder” and “destroy their family” without batting an eye! Maybe it was just their upbringing, but these were things for adults, not children.
Joshua’s rage fueled the Deon Ring; it shook like a ticking bomb while Joshua’s searing gaze bored into Veron.
The ring itself was white with a golden disc in its center. It was beautifully crafted, with no signs of aging or damage.
It enveloped Joshua’s body in a purple glow, blinding the children with a blast of light. Unlike Veron’s quiet transformation, the clamor of Joshua’s Deon Ring rattled their senses and left them reeling.
“It’s too bright—what is this power?”
Veron cautiously opened his teary eyes as the light began to fade.
Icarus held Agareth, and then the two of them vanished from Veron’s sight. As Veron’s sight cleared, he saw that they had moved beside the source of the overpowering purple glow. Like everyone else, their gaze was captured by one thing.
The boy stood in front of them, chin up and with a perfect knight’s posture. He looked so dashing you could mistake him for a prince—blasphemy, but true. His white armor was immaculate, and the black lining and golden trim drew nothing but admiration. All of it harmonized with Joshua’s face, offering the spectators the pinnacle of beauty.
But that wasn’t the most striking detail.
Is this how the legendary Elyos descended from the sky?
On the boy’s chest was the symbol of Elyos.
There was only one place in the Avalon Empire where you could see this insignia. The “Knight’s Tomb,” a small hillside marked on the side with a sword and shield.
“That pattern—is it…?”
There was a legend in the Avalon Empire that had been passed down for generations: the noble knights of Avalon were said to return to the bosom of nature when they died. Even when the body perished, the knights’ wills remained with the Empire forever.
Eventually, the legend reached the Emperor’s ears. The 7th Emperor, Solsjaker ben Roberto, constructed a massive memorial stele and dubbed it the “Knight’s Tomb.”
The will of the knights will always be with you, even beyond death.
“This monument is dedicated to the greatest knights of the Empire of the time. Those families who climb to the apex of Knighthood will be honored by the will of Avalon for ages to come.”
Of course, you had to prove yourself; Emperor Solsjaker wouldn’t settle for just “the best.”
The issue is that the tombstone has never been moved once in over a century. Many families have produced Masters, but the “best” had never changed. Thus, one family had become deeply associated with the Knight’s Tomb.
“Agnus…” Veron gaped incredulously. He wasn’t hallucinating, but he still couldn’t believe what he saw.
Why? Why was the Agnus crest inscribed on such a piece of trash?
Babel von Agnus? No, not him. He just graduated, and I know his face better than anyone else.
Something clicked in Veron’s head: recently, there were rumors shaking Arcadia, if not the entire Empire. It was a hilarious story—a genius for all time, unprecedented in all of history, came into the Agnus house and could manipulate mana at the age of nine.
When I first heard it, I assumed it was a ruse devised by the Imperial Family and the Dukes to keep the rise of the Twelve Families under control. But it turned out the rumors were true. It was no wonder Mooker was defeated; even if he’d been ten times more careful, Mooker still would’ve lost.
“Joshua… Joshua von Agnus,” Veron mumbled.
In the stifling silence, all the children could hear Veron’s words.
His rare dark blue hair, his eyes dark like the abyss and wise beyond his year. Standing next to Veron, a reputed nobleman, he seemed to glow. Finally, the deep blue mana coating his long sword.
It could not be denied. The rumors around him were not rumors at all.
Joshua von Agnus.
“Did you say family power trumps everything? Let me ask you… What do you think my family’s standing is in this school?”
“Excuse me, there must have been a misunderstanding,” said Natasha while Veron was stammering. “If we had known in advance that the Young Master came from the Agnus family—”
“Shut up. I didn’t ask you.”
“That means don’t interrupt me while I’m talking to this bastard.”
Natasha’s face flushed with embarrassment. The dozens of students of various ranks crowding around them made it worse. Joshua spared a glance at the frozen-stiff girl before returning his attention to Veron.
“I gave you your chance, Veron shen Villas.” Joshua steadily advanced on Veron, leaving him too afraid to respond. Veron felt like a tiny, powerless critter in front of a wild beast.
Joshua had the power to topple dozens of knights at once and a fantastic background as a member of the fame Agnus Duchy. Veron’s towering pride evaporated like a puddle in the sun; all that was left was the fear he’d managed to bury deep inside his heart, erupting out and consuming his body like a flood.
“Wait a minute!” Gehog shouted, but Joshua kept walking. Gehog bit his lip angrily. “We cannot be treated like this, even if you come from the Agnus house!”
“What do you mean ‘treated like this’?”
Damn it. Gehog shivered, and he could feel his legs giving out from Joshua’s stare.
“We are the heirs of the Twelve Families! Do you really think that Agnus can just punish us however you want? That’s crossing the line!”
“Ah!” Natasha’s face regained its color—she was no longer scared stiff like she was earlier.
The other children were of like mind. It’s alright. No matter how intimidating he was, he was alone. Surely there was no one foolish enough to charge into a battle he’s clearly going to lose.
Above all else, this was the heir of Marquis Crombell speaking. They trusted him. After all, the Crombells were on par with the Pontier family, one of the Five Dukes.
The children’s faces began to relax.
Joshua gasped with laughter.
“Mistreatment… Now that I’ve cornered you, you’re telling me it’s ‘mistreatment’—and you’re even bringing up my father! Is this what you do, Young Master Crombell?”
“Let me ask it the other way around,” Joshua said sarcastically, “are you willing to play games with Duke Agnus?!”
“That… that…” Gehog took a step back, suddenly self-conscious.
Duke Pontier’s pressure was already a struggle for his family—and Duke Agnus was not the same as Duke Pontier.
I can’t lose to the Duke of Agnus in this situation! Our family wouldn’t be able to survive it! If he put the family in jeopardy, he’d be disowned in an instant.
“I only care about those who picked a fight with my friends,” Joshua said. His voice was low and quiet. “Anyone not involved can leave.”
Gehog bit his lip.
“If you don’t want to be my enemy, leave now.”
Most of the children present came looking to connect with the Twelve Families; there was no loyalty, and none of them had lofty ambitions.
“I think I have an assignment?”
“My parents will be visiting me today, so…”
Gehog could only watch and tremble as the crowd dispersed. Joshua waited patiently until only the three from the Twelve Families remained.
“Raksha’s name disappears from the Academy today.”
“Any objections?” Joshua stared at Gehog, then Veron.
“I ought to teach you a lesson about not thinking nonsense.”
Fear stained Veron’s eyes behind the slits of his helmet.
A young boy’s anguished screams filled the air.
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