A squirming boy had been decked out flat across the cold floor. His silver armor, which used to gleam brilliantly in the sunlight, was battered and dented; the sumptuous crest of feathers were dusty and broken, like the loser of a cock fight.
“Take it away,” Joshua said, staring down at the unconscious body with cold, half-open eyes.
“You—!” Gehog bared his razor-sharp teeth at Joshua as he ran over to Veron. “Help me right now!”
“Ah. Yes, I…” Gehog’s scream snapped Natasha out of her daze. She rushed over to Gehog and grabbed Veron’s other arm.
Gehog glared at Joshua.
“The heir of Agnus is Babel von Agnus. It won’t change no matter what you do! No matter how talented you are, you’re nothing unless you do something incredible. Today went your way, but the day will come when you’ll regret it.”
“Yeah…” Joshua burst out laughing. “I’ll be looking forward to it. Eventually.”
“Damn it…” Gehog staggered away. Their confidence and smug posture was gone—not it looked like they struggled with each step forward.
“What…” Agareth stared blankly into space. “...Who are you again?”
“Everyone has secrets, just like you.”
“That’s—” Agareth swallowed his words. “You’re right.”
Joshua approached Icarus, who was still on the ground.
“Are you all right?”
“I’m all right.”
“Were you surprised? I’m not the person you thought I was.”
“As far as that goes, I was expecting it.” Icarus’s response made Joshua’s brow furrow. “I thought it was unusual from the very beginning—why would the son of a fallen aristocrat take the risk of enrolling in the Academy? Everyone knows the Imperial Family doesn’t bother with people that poor. Maybe you came here to find ways to rebuild your family, but it’s unreliable; besides, then you’d be leaving your family to suffer while you live in luxury.”
Joshua grinned. Icarus had certainly thought this through.
“Did you come here to make connections, like Raksha? That doesn’t make any sense! No one here would pay attention to a fallen noble—I mean, just look at me!
“But all else aside, Young Master Ash is the only—out of a thousand students—sole heir of a fallen nobleman. There’s exceptions to everything. Very few need to conceal their identities.”
“I never considered that.”
“But the Young Master seems to overthink things. It appears there are others who are already aware of the Young Master’s identity.” Icarus recalled the brown-haired girl he’d met1.
I was expecting this. Joshua grinned. Even knowing Joshua’s true identity, Icarus spoke his mind without hesitation. This was the sort of courage Joshua expected from the finest soldiers. It’s no wonder he considered fighting a million troops with only ten thousand men.
Joshua looked into Icarus’s eyes as he thought. Those signature charming blue eyes, overflowing with courage; despite his severe beating, those eyes never lost their shine. Joshua had a sudden urge to complement Icarus for his lovely, gem-like eyes.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” Icarus flushed.
“Your eyes… are lovely.”
“Huh?!” The boy’s cheeks went red as a tomato.
“By the way, are you going to keep calling me ‘Young Master’?”
“Was I the only one who thought we were friends?”
Icarus and Agareth offered him a wide-eyed stare.
“It’s not funny for friends to call me ‘Young Master’.”
The three of them shared a warm smile.
The Principality of Thran was a minor kingdom, ruled by a prince rather than a monarch, and had long been a part of the Swallow Empire. Thran was a self-contained state and could fend for themselves without the help of an empire, but the rest of the continent disagreed; Thran’s long association with the Swallow Empire had led to it being regarded as a vassal state.
The Prince of Thran had worked for decades to prove that Thran was capable of thriving on its own. He wanted to create a fully independent Thran Kingdom. The Swallow Empire regarded Prince Anthony as a troublemaker, despite its pride; yet, the Prince was known as the “Eloquent Magician” for his charm that captured the hearts of the neighboring countries.
It got to the point where the Empire couldn’t do anything about it anymore. The charming Prince was free to plot the independence of Thran.
But heaven was not always on his side. The Principality of Thran soon encountered a major challenge: Prince Anthony, the icon of chance, suddenly became ill and bedridden.
In a bed large enough for ten full-grown men, only a single elderly, ailing man slept peacefully. Several people sat around the bed, wearing solemn expressions. Even as he slept, silent and still as the dead, he was carefully watched over by his subjects.
He was the Prince of Thran, Anthony de Val Agretta III.
“Can we ease his pain? Is there anything you can do?” A man in his thirties was the first to speak. His eyes flashed with a glowing crimson hue.
“I’m sorry… We all need to prepare ourselves now. His Majesty is over seventy years of age; it’s a miracle he survived this long without mana.”
“Father…” A young woman wept.
“How could there be no way, Priest? If I need to, I’ll bring you a dragon’s heart right now—”
The priest just shook his head.
“Your Majesty…” The man trudged towards the bed with a pained expression.
“Yes, yes!” The man’s head snapped up. “Your Majesty, Ulabis is here.”
“Come closer…” The Prince’s eyes opened weakly and he gingerly beckoned to the man. “Hello… I’m sorry… I have a lot of things to do, but… I feel so weak… I just want to rest now.”
The Prince held the man’s hand, and both of them wept. Ulabis struggled to maintain his composure.
“Thran… my daughter… I don’t know what to do… but as an old man’s dying wish… please take care of them.”
Ulabis bit his lip.
“Thran… my dear Thran… I give it to you.”
“You mean… me, Your Majesty?”
Prince Anthony’s head sank weakly back down.
Dark clouds hung over the afternoon sky.
Year 721. The saint of Thran’s freedom, its ruler, Prince Anthony de Val Agretta III, passed away at the age of 78.
I need to prepare to leave as soon as possible. Joshua looked back at the Academy building, silhouetted against the sky.
I never thought I’d be leaving so soon. Joshua chuckled. Cain’s going to be surprised. The thought of Cain’s confused expression sent Joshua into full-blown laughter.
Then he turned and kept walking. There was no point in waiting any longer—he’d completed all of his objectives, and he’d made up his mind to leave.
I’ll pack my things and say my goodbyes, and then I’ll go straight to the Imperial Palace.
It was obvious after his interaction with Amaru the day before. The reality was, working with a large group of skilled people was far more beneficial than recovering his strength by muddling in the past.
Who would’ve guessed that Joshua would achieve far more in this life than in his past life?
More importantly, there might be some hidden treasures buried in the Imperial Palace.
Joshua halted. While he was walking in a daze, he’d managed to arrive at his destination: his private training area on the outskirts of Arcadia.
He couldn’t afford to put it off anymore. Joshua needed to shake the feeling that he’d acquired his new skills by pure chance.
But I don’t know how far I can go with a body that just learned the third stage of the Magic Spear Arts.
Joshua pushed open the door and his face immediately tensed. Someone he didn’t recognize was laying on the sofa.
Is it Cain? No. Joshua backed up warily. For the first time since resurrecting, Joshua was nervous. Alarms ran constantly in his head. Even without getting close, he knew that the dirty man on the sofa was dangerous—his colossal presence quietly filled the air.
He’s strong. Joshua’s anxiety was peaking, and he had to choke down a dry lump.
“Ah! You’re finally here! I’ve been looking forward to seeing you for a long time.” The man sluggishly pulled himself up and smiled like he was pleased with himself.
“Ah, you look nice—” He offered Joshua a smile and stood up, stretched, and grinned manically once more. “—Joshua von Agnus.”
During Joshua’s duel with Amaru. See chapter 68. ↩️
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