By the time Shirone and Rian returned to the room, it was nearing noon.
“Haha! Did you see their faces?! That felt sooooo good!”
“But are you really okay? That knight’s oath… I think you overdid it because of me.”
Rian’s expression became serious. Despite how immature he was, he understood the weight of the knight’s oath.
“Shirone, I did not take the oath because you are my friend. You’re different from my brother. You have the power to attract people.”
Shirone felt the sincerity.
But listening to such praise made him feel awkward, so to lift the mood a bit, he tried to joke around.
“Haha! I feel too much pressure. But if you want to protect me, you’ll have to improve by several folds.”
“Hey, don’t poke where it hurts. I already know that. By the way, you surprised me there. Saying what you wanted to say in front of my whole family. Weren’t you scared?”
“Hehe, there’s a secret to that.”
Shirone explained how he imagined jumping off a cliff, which he realized before his sword battle with Rian.
Thinking it would be of some help towards improving his swordsmanship, Rian was puzzled once he heard the story.
“Jumping off a cliff? Why would you do that? Are you perhaps… An idiot?”
He couldn’t believe Rian called him an idiot.
“No, just listen carefully. I don’t mean you should actually jump off a cliff. Simply imagine it. You aren’t dead until you fall flat on the ground. It means that you need to focus on the present instead of needlessly imagining the future.”
“But if you jump off, you’re dead. It’s you who needs to think it over. If you jump, you’re as good as dead.”
“Argh, seriously! If you don’t even jump off the cliff, ultimately, you’ll end up not being able to do anything!”
“Aha, then I can do it. For example, I would jump without any hesitation to save you. Because that’s what a knight does.”
It was completely different from what he wanted to convey, but he thought that was who Rian was.
‘You really are the polar opposite of me.’
At that moment, someone came in. Someone who he thought he would never meet again.
As Reina peeked her head inside the room, she let out a small sigh. Shirone’s face flushed at the sight of her.
“Hi. The atmosphere on the opponent’s side was too fierce, so I came to my ally’s base to evacuate.”
“Get out. We were having a man-to-man talk.”
Shirone waved his hands around hurriedly as Rian was sending Reina away.
“What’s wrong with you, Rian? Your sister helped out a lot. You’re welcome to come in, Reina.”
“Hey, you just don’t understand. That witch must be…”
Rian, who was spitting out slander, thought for a while and closed his mouth.
Shirone and Reina. Reina and Shirone. Those two names were coming and going in his head.
Reina came closer, walking briskly like a cat, and sat between the two.
“Anyways. Rian, you were pretty cool back there. I can’t believe you took out the knight’s oath card. I really can’t beat you.”
“How come you sound like you’re teasing me?”
“Heheh, did I get caught?”
“Are you serious?! Why the hell are you even here?! Did you just come here to annoy me?!”
“What do you take me for? I just accomplished my job as the spy of the team. There’s a pretty serious conversation going on over there on the opponent’s side.”
“What can be worse than what just happened?”
“Actually, dad was thinking of sending you, along with Rai, to the palace.”
It was Rian’s first time hearing this.
Besides, despite the fact he was a genius, nobody knew whether Rai would get the approval, so why would he tag along?
“What are you talking about? They want me to go on a field trip or something?”
“No, they want to enroll you into the Kaizen Swordsmanship Academy. You know, the largest one in the Kingdom of Thormia? The academy that produced 10 certified Grade 1 swordsmen in 200 years?”
“What? Why did you guys decide that without discussing it with me? I thought I could play around with Shirone as much as I liked, but now I have to go to an academy? What about my Master?”
“Your instructor already knows. That’s why he ended his contract yesterday and went back to his hometown this morning. I heard you guys even said your goodbyes. You didn’t know about this?”
Rian looked at Kite’s sword. It was thanks to this sword that he was able to carry out his will.
He was someone who cared about Rian more than anybody else.
The reason why he ended the contract with no opposition was because he wanted his student to grow a bit more.
“But this is too sudden. What about Shirone?”
“That’s why the family is talking. They are thinking about sending you and Shirone to the academy together. You said yesterday that Shirone is better at wielding a sword than you.”
Shirone was startled.
Due to Rian’s personality, he wouldn’t have spoken about it first, and Reina seemed to be puzzled by this too.
While delusional ideas and thoughts flashed through Shirone’s head, Rian was thinking more realistically.
“Well, that’s true. But Shirone’s not going to the swordsmanship academy. There’s something else he wants to do. Actually, I was thinking about something… But since it has come to this, you should ask our grandfather for something.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Reina turned her head to face Shirone, but Shirone didn’t open his mouth. It was not something he could openly talk about.
In the first place, it was unrealistic to even try and enroll a commoner in a swordsmanship academy.
However, no one in the Ogent family was currently opposed to supporting Shirone.
Since Rian had made his knight’s oath, even if it was only for the honor of the Ogent family, Shirone had to succeed. He had to become someone special.
When Rian saw Shirone’s hesitation, Rian spoke up in his stead.
“Because Shirone is going to become a mage. He’s not interested in swordsmanship.”
Reina’s eyes widened.
“What? A mage? So you actually lost to an aspirant mage in a sword fight? Rian… That’s pathetic.”
“Shut up! I know! But Shirone is really a genius! I’m positive he’d be a lot better than Rai if he were a swordsman.”
“Oho, he’s that strong?”
Rian was not the type to disparage even his enemies, so to him, Shirone looked different. Special.
“N-No. How could I…”
Sensing Reina’s gaze, Shirone didn’t know where to look, so he ended up lowering his eyes.
“Alright. I’ll propose that to the other side. But you might still be enrolled in the swordsmanship academy, Rian. Dad is someone who uses his opponents’ weaknesses thoroughly.”
“Tsk! Whatever. I’ll think about it.”
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After all, for the sake of his master, he would not only take on the academy, but an army if need be.
‘Actually, this is important to me, too!’
He won’t be able to protect Shirone with his current sword skills.
Following a knock, a butler entered.
“Young master Shirone’s family has just arrived. They are supposed to be escorted to the mansion, but if the young master would like to greet them, I was ordered by the Lord to guide you to them.”
Rian slapped his knee.
“Oh! Shirone’s parents? What do you want to do, Shirone?”
The answer was obvious.
Shirone was bouncing up and down in excitement, his eyes were already stuck in the direction of the front gate of the mansion.
Chuckling, Reina told him.
“Bring them here, Shirone. My family will be waiting in the living room. Please, lead Shirone to his family.”
“Right away, miss.”
Shirone followed the butler out of the mansion.
“This way. The stairs are high, so please be careful.”
The butler’s attitude made him uncomfortable. Just a day ago, they didn’t even bother with him, but now? They were treating him like a noble.
“Excuse me, you can just act the usual way you do. It’s not like I became a nobleman or something.”
“No! Please don’t say that. My head may fall off.”
Shirone, who once risked his life for mere books, knew the stress servants experienced better than anyone else.
“Even if you make a mistake, I won’t tell anyone, so don’t be like that.”
The butler’s eyes showed a bit of relief, but he was still on his toes.
Shirone didn’t care anymore. No he couldn’t care less.
This was because a carriage arrived at the end of the Broad Way.
When he saw his parents’ faces, his vision got blurry. The tears he suppressed while living in such an uncomfortable environment poured out.
Not even hearing the butler’s shout, Shirone ran towards the front gate.
[Translator – Anwen]
[Proofreader – Enigami]
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Shirone took his parents to the reception room. Their eyes were swollen. They could not hold in their emotions.
It took them some time to get their emotions together.
The meeting was pushed back, perhaps due to Klumph’s consideration, and due to this, Shirone was able to release the emotions that he had bottled up inside.
“Let me take a look at you, son. Your face is all pinched and worn out. I can tell you’ve been through much, my son. You did a good job. Such a good job.”
Tears formed in Vincent’s eyes once again.
Shirone’s complexion had actually improved, but from his parents’ perspective, it looked like he didn’t eat or sleep enough during his stay here.
“It wasn’t bad, I was able to read a lot of books. I had a lot of fun. How have you been, father? Everything has been good, I hope?”
“Of course! We’ve both been doing well. Well, maybe a bit too well, perhaps? Look at your mom. She ended up becoming so pretty that you almost ended up having a younger brother.”
“Honey, what are you blabbering on about in front of our son?”
Shirone smiled ruefully.
His parents were much thinner compared to when he left.
How would they be able to eat properly when they were busy worrying about their child everyday?
When he considered those thoughts, he choked up again.
Suddenly, Vincent became curious.
At first, he was very nervous thinking something had happened to his son. But after seeing Shirone’s relaxed form, he felt like nothing bad had occurred.
“So, why were we brought here? If you finished your work, you should have been allowed to come home right away. Surely they aren’t stopping you from going back, right?”
“No, no. It’s nothing like that. It’s just that I managed to take advantage of a nice opportunity.”
“Hm? A nice opportunity?”
Shirone told them the story of what had happened this morning.
He was able to tell them the story without any trouble because he had already put together an outline of how he should tell the story in his head.
But from the listener’s standpoint, the story was so mind-blowing that it left them speechless.
As Vincent continued to listen, he became more and more astonished.
To be honest, he stopped listening to Shirone past a certain point.
He couldn’t comprehend what his son was talking about.
He became friends with the youngest young master of the Ogent family? And that same person promised a knight’s oath to him? Furthermore, the family accepted it and allowed them to carry on being friends?
The story continued to break apart his common sense, it felt like thunder was reverberating inside his head.
When the story came to an end, Vincent scratched his head in silence.
He knew he was a smart and bright kid. But even so, this story made no sense.
Maybe something went wrong inside his brain? Did he go delusional after being tormented here for a long time?
“Shirone, be honest with me. This dad can, and will, do anything for you. What in the world happened to you? Who the heck made you like this?”
“It’s all true, dad. Why would I lie about something this?”
“Okay! You are not a liar. So tell me, who bullied you?! Who treated you harshly?!”
Vincent was genuinely angry.
He’s heard of numerous cases where commoners were wrongly entangled with nobles and became forever handicapped.
Even Shirone thought the story was ridiculous, but he couldn’t think of a better way to explain it to them.
While he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to think of a way to answer, the Ogent family entered the reception room.