“Wait a minute—what did the kid say?”
“Am I hearing this right? Is he talking about the Berche’s Bloody Battle we’re thinking about.”
“Hey, kid. That’s not funny. Where did you hear that?”
While the 11th and 12th Battalion’s murmuring grew, Ranger calmly stepped forwards.
“Kid, you’re sure about what you just said?”
Joshua’s lips remained sealed.
“Hngh.” Ranger stretched his hand out to Joshua. “Tell me where you live and we’ll escort you out of the Palace. You must’ve gotten lost or something—” He suddenly stopped. “A Deon Ring? Am I seeing this right? Is that really a Deon Ring?” Ranger seemed amused.
Joshua infused mana into the ring, drawing surprised mumbles from the knights. Soon, his pristine white armor bathed them in its dazzling light.
“The Knight’s Tomb!”
“Does that kid belong to Duke Agnus?”
“With an artifact like that, he must at least be a blood relative, right?”
Ranger cautiously opened his mouth. “Are you a child of Duke Agnus?”
“I am Joshua von Agnus; I’m here for the Bloody Battle.”
A deafening stillness fell over the stunned men.
“A child of Avalon, Joshua von Agnus,” Ranger whispered. “An unprecedented genius who could control mana before the age of ten. Rumors say he was born in the Agnus Duchy.” The knight eyed Joshua. “Is that right, Young Master?”
“Do you know why Berche’s Bloody Battle is practically a fairytale now?”
“If an Imperial Knight loses, their position is immediately revoked; on the other hand, the winner is promoted to Imperial Knight, regardless of their former rank. However, whatever happens during the fight is between the fighters and no one else—such is the will of His Majesty, Marcus von Britten. Disobedience is taken as treason.” Joshua stared Ranger dead in the eyes. “Isn’t that right?”
“That’s true… It seems like you’re well aware, but you still want to join?”
Joshua nodded without hesitation.
“Well…” Ranger looked around and sighed. “Is anyone willing to take part?”
The knights quickly averted their gaze, leaving the training hall quiet enough to hear a needle drop. They knew how brutal the battle would be.
If we win it’ll be a huge problem. If the Young Master is seriously injured, there’s no guarantee that he’ll let it go given the nobles’ pride. Ranger groaned to himself. Of course, we are protected by His Majesty…
Above all, Duke Aden von Agnus, the great star of Avalon, was held in the highest esteem by the knights of the 11th and 12th Battalions. Who would want to do something that would cast them in a bad light to their role model?
He just had to come when the Battalion Commanders were gone…
Ranger gave Kases, his opponent, a pained look.
“Ugh… Did you hit something weird, Sir Ranger?” Kases clutched his stomach. “Why am I suddenly in pain—”
“I’m sorry,” Ranger shook his head, “but we need a C-Class Knight at least. That’s the best we can do to stop someone from getting hurt.”
“Are you gonna fight me?” Joshua quietly asked as Ranger stepped forward.
“Exactly. But I’m not that merciful—”
“How do you see yourself, in this situation?”
“What?” Ranger frowned.
“I heard that you—the 11th Battalion—aren’t like the other battalions, but it seems like there’s quite the similarity between you and the 12th. But the problem is…” Joshua’s face reddened, but he couldn’t hold in his laughter. “People with a recommendation from the Imperial Family climb the ranks quickly, but I guess that’s not the case for you, right?”
“Young Master… Wh-what are you saying?”
“You don’t have the ability—or maybe the courage—to beat the top battalions, so you just pity yourself. As for the rest? Just look at them: they look terrified because they don’t know what to do. Aren’t you just a bunch of cowards?”
“Shut the hell up!”
Joshua’s words cut deep, and stung like salt in the wound. The fact was, they tried their hardest to ignore the truth lest it wipe out the final vestiges of the 11th and 12th Battalions’ pride.
Like Ranger, the half-curious, half-interested mood had disappeared from the knights’ faces. Right now, they were openly hostile to Joshua.
“Ranger,” Kases said with a cool, quiet voice, “I’ll take care of this.”
Unlike Ranger’s cool impression, Kases’s voice held a frightening edge.
“I can’t tolerate this kind of attitude. This kid needs to learn that a knight’s pride and honor isn’t something he can trample over.” Kases stepped towards Joshua. “Young Master, oh, my Young Master. Please don’t complain when you get hurt.”
“You?” Joshua gasped and laughed again.
He couldn’t be more insulting. Kases finally snapped.
“How dare you. This brat has no humility! Do you get it from your surname? I’ll tell you now, it’s not gonna help you in the future!”
The other knights joined in, battering Kases’s ears with their shouts.
“Kases, you better do it right! If you’re planning on holding back, then get out! I’ll do it for you!”
“That kid shouldn’t flap his gob! Make him pay by crushing those jaws!”
“Make sure he gets what he deserves for asking for Berche’s Bloody Battle!”
The knight in question slowly retrieved his blade from the corner where it had landed.
“I’ll give it my all. I’ll crush your sword and show you how big the sky is.” With that, Kases began injecting mana into his sword, tearing the air open as it coated his blade. It wasn’t the cloudy mana of a C-Class Knight; rather, his mana was dense and defined. The 11th and 12th Battalions, as expert knights, were bordering on B-Class.
“You can raise your blade at me and maybe scratch me a little when you’re a B-Class Knight—but you’re C-Class! Just look at the difference between us!”
“Well, there have been people who said the same thing as you, but…” Joshua’s smile grew as he drew Lugia from its subspace, to Kases’s astonishment. “...I don’t care about your Class.”
He began pumping mana into his spear. Bright white currents of electricity poured into the ground, scattering in all directions and driving the knights into a hasty retreat. Soon, the electricity began to accumulate into a single point—into Lugia, to be precise.
“Unbelievable…” Kases gaped at Joshua as the white light flooded from the boy’s body into Lugia.
Before, the mana was like oil meeting water. Now, the blue mana from Joshua’s hand mixed freely with a color they couldn’t comprehend, adorning Lugia in bright splendor. It was not inferior to Kases’s mana in any way—in fact, it even seemed to be clearer and better defined.
It was obvious to everyone that Joshua had the aura of a B-Class Knight.
“Who said I’m a C-Class?”
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