The Etiquette teacher was furious enough to throw a punch—if he could get away with it. If it weren’t for these meddling kids, that Agnus brat would’ve been kicked out of the premises before the teacher could even blink. Those children from the poor households should’ve been too scared to speak up, but instead circumstances had pushed the Etiquette teacher onto the stage.
God dammit. He bit his lips. I finally learned something about this Joshua boy.
In his rather late introduction, he’d been revealed as the second son of Duke Aden von Agnus. Crucially he was not the legal child of Duchess Vanessa; the fact the Duke Agnus, who shared his father’s demeanor, had taken a concubine—a maid, no less—had already spread across Arcadia.
I only have one choice now—the most dependable, straightforward method. Chwisegi, the Etiquette teacher, raised his head and scowled at Joshua. I did my part, even though it went downhill very quickly. Now the rest is up to the Twelve Families.
Just as he was about to speak up, a group emerged from behind him.
“Joshua von Agnus!”
The Etiquette teacher whipped around, and found a boy and a girl leading hundreds of children—the members of Raksha, without a doubt.
“You’re not satisfied with merciless violence against your classmates—now you besmirch academics in the name of your family?”
Joshua peered at the boy—it was Gehog, the heir of Crombell. Joshua sighed and bemoaned the boy’s idiocy.
“Violence? Ah, like persecution.”
“How are you going to take responsibility for the fact that Veron, our close friend and the heir to Villas, is still blind because of your assault?”
“I’d like to hear what you have to say about the claim that you’re a bastard,” Natasha added. “And—oh my gosh—is your mother a maid?” She clapped her hand over her mouth.
“His mother is a concubine, and a maid?”
“A lowly maid?”
“Then—he’s not a child of Agnus?”
“Is it true?”
Joshua took in Raksha’s stolid gazes and burst out laughing.
Now I understand. No wonder they were suddenly brave enough to challenge him: they thought he didn’t really have the support of the Duke.
“I never believed that the fair and just Duke Agnus would condone such childish, immature behavior!”
“Why would he care about a kid with no roots?” Natasha muttered, but her voice was loud enough that even Joshua’ group could hear.
“This vegetable head—”
“Icarus, no!” Agareth grabbed Icarus by the arm before he could punch Natasha.
“Let me go, Agareth! I swear I’m gonna sew her mouth shut. Damned broccoli girl.”
“That’s unnecessary—Hey!” Agareth broke into a cold sweat. Icarus’s slender body was exerting an astonishing amount of strength, and it took everything he had to keep the boy back.
Were you always so hot-blooded, Icarus?
“What I’m doing now has nothing to do with my family,” Joshua said.
“Or are you just saying that because you don’t want to upset your family now?” Gehog flashed a shifty smile. “Are you afraid of what the Duke will do to you? So sad, it’s too late now—”
“No.” Joshua scowled. “I’m being literal. Agnus or not, I will personally punish everyone implicated in this.”
Joshua’s mana-infused voice blanketed the area in a frigid, nervous silence.
“Ha! What a load of shit—” Why… Why am I shivering? Gehog unconsciously clenched his trembling legs. Like him, the rest of the children were backing away.
“Gehog of Crombell, Natasha of Brolly, and Veron of Villas.” Gehog and Natasha shuddered as their names left Joshua’s lips. “I will make sure the three of you are held accountable for your actions.”
“Don’t make me laugh. Those threats aren’t even funny—”
“On top of everything else, you belong to that filthy Raksha!” Joshua’s booming voice sent more and more children fleeing.
Joshua took one step forward, and Raksha took one step back.
“I’m going to give you one more chance. Get out of my sight, now. The people here will pay for your sins.”
“You! If you keep acting like this—” Gehog choked. Joshua’s eyes sucked him in like a bottomless abyss, inviting Gehog to his death.
“If I hear… stuff… rumors that I’m doing something you don’t like after you’re out of here—”
“I… I gotta go!”
“I’m coming with you!”
“All I want to do is graduate!”
Raksha was fleeing before Joshua finished his sentence. Something in his voice tapped deep into their psyche.
“President! Are you just going to sit here and watch?” Chwisegi demanded. “President?”
“Unfortunately, you must also accept responsibility for your acts.” The President’s face was stony.
“Wha-What do you mean?”
“I’m familiar with your relationship with the Twelve Families. We couldn’t take action because there was no substantial evidence.”
“Wait a minute—What are you talking about?”
“Didn’t you say it yourself?” The President grimaced. “They’re offering their support to fix the mess they created.”
“Please wait, President. It’s the Prime Minister’s seat, but that’s such a silly idea—”
“Is the position important?” The other man shook his head. “I believe that whatever position you’re in, being content is good enough.” The President eyed the terrified teacher. “I’m going to request disciplinary action from the Imperial Family, in addition to termination of your employment.”
“Who—On what grounds?!”
Shutein ignored him. “With that, I, President of the Academy, resign from my position and submit myself to judgment. It was most certainly necessary after all that happened…”
“This… This is not how it was supposed to go…” Chwisegi fell to his knees, bewildered.
While the Etiquette teacher was going mad, Gehog had finally come to his senses.
“Do you think our family will leave it like this? Surely you don’t think dear old Papa Agnus will come rushing in to save you after this, do you? His successor is still Babel von Agnus! It doesn’t matter if you’re more talented than him—he’s not going to play against our families for you!”
“Heirs… You know, it can change at any time, so I’ll leave it alone for now. I’m not in a rush, after all.”
All three of them jerked around.
“What is this…”
Two men came into view. One was a middle-aged man with deep blue hair, the other was a thin-eyed man with an atmosphere not unlike Joshua.
“Why… Even Count Arie bron Sten?”
“You take care of your problems between yourselves, children.” Duke Agnus stared down at the trembling children. “That’s Academy rules—unless you want to provoke the Agnus family?” The Duke grinned wickedly.
Oh my God, he was listening! Natasha was dumbstruck.
“You are smart kids,” Duke Agnus looked at Icarus, who withered under his gaze. “I’m sure you’ll never do anything that will upset the higher families. That is, if you love—no, at the very least, if you care about your family.” With that, the Duke walked away.
Count Sten did not. He looked Gehog and Natasha dead in the eyes and ran his thumb across his neck.
The two kids collapsed like broken trees.
“Joshua, follow me.”
“Yes.” Joshua padded after Duke Agnus.
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