Chapter 41: I Am Here
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While Roel moved around the buffet table to fill his stomach, he thought about the stuff that Carter had told him about all this while.

The birthday banquet last year was extremely important, not just because it was Nora’s birthday but because it was the first time the young nobles of the current generation of the Theocracy were gathered together.

There were many occasions for adult nobles to socialize with one another, be it the tea parties held by noblewomen or ordinary banquets. However, the chances for young nobles to meet one another were rare, and for some, this birthday banquet could even be the only opportunity.

At this banquet, the socializing of the adults was surprisingly a secondary aim. The stars of the show were actually the children instead. It was a huge loss that Roel had missed the banquet last year as not only did he miss the chance to build up his own faction, he even ended up inadvertently giving an advantage to another house—the Elric Count House.

Of the Five Eminent Noble Houses, the only ones that had offspring of similar ages to Nora were the Ascart Marquess House and the Elric Count House. Since Roel was absent for the previous birthday banquet, the child that had the highest standing in the banquet other than Nora herself was the eldest son of the Elric House, Bron Elric

Since Nora was busy greeting all the guests, Bron was granted free reign amongst the young nobles, allowing him to quickly build up a following. It should have been nothing much for a small child to gain some power, but it just so happened that Bron had quite a terrible reputation himself.

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Elric Youth Faction, that was what Carter called them. Bron and his following of degenerates might have been young, but the atrocities that they committed couldn’t be easily shrugged off. They had stirred all sorts of trouble amongst the civilians, but most of them had been secretly dealt with so they hadn’t caused a huge uproar thus far.

In truth, Roel had been feeling an ominous vibe inside after hearing of the Elric House.

A hundred years ago, when the Elric House was still a marquess house, their territory extended far and wide, making them the de facto leader of the Five Eminent Noble House. Even the Lucerna Ducal House was lacking in comparison to them. At its peak, the Elric House’s power rivaled even that of the royal family.

However, what turned the fate of the Elric House around was the fight between the royal twin siblings, the renowned March Turmoil.

The Elric House had chosen to stand with Prince Wade in that conflict, and they served as the main fighting force of Wade’s faction. Against Princess Victoria, who only had the backing of the Ascart House, it should have been a sure-win battle.

Yet, all of it failed due to the interference of the Ascart House’s patriarch back then. The labyrinth had simply consumed far too many of their soldiers such that they didn’t even have the strength to stand against the returning Holy Eminence and his army.

Prince Wade’s defeat had far-reaching effects, and its mark was imprinted clearly in the history of the Theocracy. To the Elric House, it spelled a catastrophic disaster.

As Prince Wade’s fervent supporter, the patriarch of the Elric House back then killed himself in hopes that the Xeclydes would spare his house, but the results were still less than ideal. The Elrics were demoted to a count house, and a huge chunk of their territory was taken away too. They were only left with the barren borders to rule.

Most of the territory they lost was given to the Ascart House, causing the power balance of the Five Eminent Noble Houses to be utterly reversed. It took a hundred years before the Elrics finally regained their power.

Unfortunately, the Elrics didn’t think that they had erred in their support of Prince Wade, and they didn’t find anything wrong with the massacre that they had committed in the Holy Capital either. They felt that it was only natural for victors to trample on losers and rise through the ranks.

It’s all the fault of those damned Ascarts. Were it not for them, we might have even replaced the Xeclydes as the new royal family.

The Elrics were respectful to the Xeclydes on the surface, but with a grudge sitting between them, they were constantly thinking of snatching back the territory they had lost and regaining the honor that had been trampled upon. Naturally, they viewed the Ascarts as their nemesis.

“Wait a moment, father mentioned that the so-called Elric Youth Faction is here too. Children of this age tend to be fearless and act without concern of consequences. They should have come to provoke me, so why didn’t I bump into any of them?”

Roel swept a look across the banquet hall, only to find that the golden-haired boy and the group of children he led had vanished without a trace. A frown formed on Roel’s forehead as a foreboding premonition shook his heart.

Wait a moment, could it possibly be…

Bron Elric was infuriated.

Other than his usual gang, nearly all of the young nobles in this banquet had been trying their best to acquaint themselves with another person, and that was the other offspring of the Five Eminent Noble Houses here, Roel Ascart.

Bron wasn’t the type to look for faults in himself. He didn’t think that the reason behind that was due to his horrid reputation. Rather, he blamed the Ascart House for resorting to despicable ploys.

In any case, it was a fact that Roel’s arrival had broken his dominance over the younger generation of nobles, and this made him feel deeply uneasy, but he had no idea what he could do about it.

And it was at a time like this that he found the ideal target he could use to send out a stern warning to all other young nobles about siding with the Ascart House—Alicia.

“Disgusting things tend to flock together with one another. Alicia Ascart, huh? What a revolting name!”

Inside a spare room in the manor, a golden-haired boy, Bron, looked at the silver-haired girl in front of him with eyes filled with hostility.

“Alicia, don’t you remember me? I’m your good friend, Bron. Did you try to reject my invitation earlier? That hurts my feelings.”

Bron stared into the little girl’s crimson eyes as he threateningly brought a knife closer to her eyes.

Staring in the face of her fears, Alicia trembled uncontrollably as she cowered back. Tears glistened in her eyes. She bit her lips tightly as she tried her best to pull herself together.

“Y-you… What are you trying to do here?”

“I just wish to reminisce about our past together. I was planning on letting you off the hook easily this year, but I never thought that you would join the Ascart House. How convenient of you to find another father to fall back on so quickly. Ah, you also have that trash of a brother too…”

“I-I won’t allow you to insult Lord Brother!”

“Oh, what’s this? You seem to be pretty fond of him? It pleases me greatly to see the good relationship between you and your brother!”

Bron sneered coldly as he leaned forward to Alicia’s ear and whispered to her.

“Does he know that you’re a monster?”

“W-what?”

“Have you shown him how your body wriggles like there are worms inside when you heal from your injuries? Well, I guess your expression says it all. Of course, there’s no way the Ascart House would have accepted you if they knew that you’re a monster.”

“No, that’s not it. Big brother Roel wouldn’t…”

“Heh, you sure are stubborn!”

Bron looked down on Alicia as he raised his leg to kick her, only for a silhouette to suddenly appear on the scene.

“Alicia, don’t cry. I’m here.”

Amidst Alicia’s weeping, a voice suddenly sounded right behind Bron.

Bron immediately turned his head around, only to find himself faced with a pair of wintry, golden eyes.

Roel Ascart.

Translator Notes

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