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Damn Reincarnation

Description

The warrior Hamel went on an adventure with his companions to defeat the Demon Kings, but after dying just before the final battle with the Demon Kings….
“Waaah.”
‘What the fuck!’
He was reincarnated as the descendant of his fellow warrior, Vermouth.
Hamel — no, Eugene Lionheart was reborn with the blood of the Great Vermouth.

‘My previous body held enough talent to be mistaken for a genius, but this one… there’s just no comparison.’

With a body that had higher specs right from the start, he showed explosive growth that far surpassed what he had achieved in his previous life.

Along with the unknown reasons for his reincarnation came the uneasy reality of having to coexist with demons.
He was faced with a world that made him question everything he had believed in.

Gifted with this extraordinary body since birth, as Eugene, he begins walking down the unfinished path from his previous life.

Damn Reincarnation

Chapter 1: Prologue

I used to think that I was a genius, but when I look back at it now, it’s so embarrassing that I might just go crazy. However, the fact remains, I truly believed that I was a genius.

At the start, I did have enough talent to allow for such a misguided belief. During my childhood, I had no trouble when it came to learning new things, and I was able to improve my skills at a faster rate than others.

However, things were only easy at the beginning. Although I improved faster than everyone else at first, when things really got going, I slowed down to match the others’ pace.

I didn’t think much of it at first since I thought that these things could happen. After all, wasn’t I still improving little by little? I can still do it. Why? Because I’m a genius.

In the end, I was forced to accept the reality that I had tried so hard to reject.

I wasn’t a genius.

It was all thanks to meeting a ‘real’ genius, one who I couldn’t even compare to, that I was finally forced out of this ridiculous and childish delusion.

The me who thought I was a genius was but a frog in a well. Inside the comfort of my little well, I had gotten drunk on a false sense of superiority. Meanwhile, the real geniuses were already flying through the wide-open sky.

I hated that genius.

I felt my killing intent rising whenever I heard him spout nonsense about how anyone could possibly be able to do what he had done if they really tried. Whether or not he really believed what he said, or he was just looking down on the efforts of someone less talented than himself, it still made me feel like shit.

‘Are you jealous?’

Fuck jealousy. You’re the one who started talking shit first. I just returned the favor, so how the fuck am I being jealous?

‘I didn’t think that you’d take it like that. I was just… feeling sorry for you.’

Feeling sorry? What?

‘If you just tried a little harder….’

Just what do you know that makes you think you’re qualified to preach about hard work?

‘You could be a lot better than you are now.’

Hey, I’m doing perfectly fine, thanks. Your standards are just too damn high. Do you really think that everyone can be like you? Since you’re a genius, don’t assume that everyone else is capable of doing what you do.

Got that?

I can’t be as great as you.

* * *

“Fuck off.”

I could barely squeeze out these words. A gaping hole was running through my chest. To try and treat my wound, they were desperately casting magic and pouring out drops of the precious elixir, but it was pointless.

“No, please no.”

She’s crying? I never expected a girl like her to make that sort of expression for me. Even though we argued about everything, and she always had a nasty look on her face whenever she talked to me, I guess she still got a little attached to our quarrels.

“That’s why… that’s why I told you. Just go back. Why did you have to be so stubborn and keep following us…?”

“Sienna. For now, just put that away.”

My voice wasn’t coming out the way I wanted it to. It was probably because of all the blood rising up my throat.

“I don’t need the elixir. You don’t have enough of them to be wasting one here. Don’t be foolish.”

“But-!”

“Enough. I’m the one who knows my own body best. There’s no way I’ll survive. I’ll be dead soon.”

I was dying.

I had resigned myself to this fact even before my chest had been pierced. In the first place, my body was so broken that it must have looked like I was embarking on a fool’s errand. They’d told me to turn back and wait for them, but I had ignored all their worries and their lectures to follow them up to this point.

“…I could have avoided it.”

His voice was as cold as ever. This son of a bitch. It looks like he’ll be a pain to deal with until the very end.

“So there was no need for you to do this.”

“Didn’t I tell you to fuck off already?”

Even though it’s so hard to talk right now, why does he keep yapping at me like this?

“You should have known that as well.”

His expression showed that he just couldn’t understand. There was a chance that he was correct. Even though it might have looked like a desperate crisis to the others, it probably hadn’t seemed all that dangerous to him.

Didn’t I know that? Of course, I did. After all, we’ve been traveling together for so long. So I knew just what kind of an unspeakable monster he was. And even among all those who called him a monster, I was especially familiar with his abilities.

“…There was no need for you to die like this.”

Then how else was I supposed to die? He should know it as well. How much of a miracle it was for me to have come this far. Without him, I would never have made it here.

“…At least like this, it’s an honorable death.” It was so hard to get my voice out, but I had to say this, “I would become nothing but a burden if I went on with you, but I didn’t want to turn back either.”

And I didn’t want to try and live an ordinary life with this crippled body of mine.

“Since you’re so talented, you really didn’t need me to cover for you, right?”

Even though I knew this, I still threw my body in the way. My body that was no longer able to move properly, just for a moment, moved exactly as I wanted it to. Thanks to that, I was able to push this detestable bastard out of the way, and I ended up with this huge hole in my chest.

“…I’m tired now, so just get going already.”

Slowly, it was becoming even harder to speak. It felt like my own voice was coming to me from a distance and, from even farther away, I could hear the sound of weeping. My body was so heavy that I couldn’t even move a finger. Everything in front of me was growing dark.

“Thanks.”

In my final moments, I heard his voice. Bastard, if you’re going to say it, why didn’t you say it sooner. Still, it made me feel good. After all, this was the first time I’d ever heard him thank me.

“Waaahhhhh.”

What the fuck.

Chapter 2: The Stupid Hamel

Demon Slayer, God of War, Master-of-All — these were some of the many titles given to the Great Vermouth. But among all these titles, there was one that best described him, that of the Hero.

[300 years ago, our Hero, the Great Vermouth, set out on an adventure along with his companions.]

It was an old fairy tale that had been read to him ever since he could walk. It was about the adventures of the Great Vermouth, the Wise Sienna, the Faithful Anise, the Brave Molon, and the Stupid Hamel.

‘All the others get called great, wise, faithful, or brave, so why am I the only one who gets called stupid?’

Whenever his nanny read him this tale as a bedtime story, a raging fire was stoked in Eugene Lionheart’s chest. If only he could speak properly instead of babbling! Or if, at the very least, he could move his body properly!

‘Even that blockhead Molon got packaged as the brave one. So why am I the stupid one? Did the two of us get switched at some point?’

No matter how much he racked his brain, he couldn’t understand how they had come up with ‘The Brave Molon.’

‘The Brave? They don’t know jackshit about him. More like, “The Foolish Molon.”’

[The Stupid Hamel was always jealous of Vermouth. Hamel called Vermouth, who was better than him at everything, his rival. Although no one else actually agreed with this.]

“The bastard who wrote this must have been someone who I beat up in the past,” Eugene spat out as he ground his teeth in anger.

Actually, it wasn’t that difficult to understand why the contents of the story were like this. These bedtime stories were aimed at children, so they needed to be easy to read as well as fun and educational.

Hamel was constantly running ahead of Vermouth. He kept this up even when they reached the crossroad leading to the Demon King’s castle. Although Vermouth said they needed to go right, Hamel was stubborn and insisted on going left.]

“Bullshit.”

[Eventually, Vermouth agreed to listen to Hamel. However, along the path they took, a devilish trap was lying in wait for them… Stupid Hamel! He shouted boastfully that the Demon King had laid a trap for them because the Demon King was afraid of him. What an idiot!]

The ten-year-old Eugene clenched his fist tightly. He might have already read this story hundreds of times, but each time he reached this point in the story, rage welled up within him.

[Hamel was a troublemaker. He had a fiery personality, so he frequently ended up fighting with his companions.]

“…They got that part right.”

[After many adventures, Vermouth and his companions entered the Demon King’s castle. Even after entering the Demon King’s castle, stupid Hamel refused to listen to Vermouth. Hamel, who kept running ahead, couldn’t avoid any of the traps, and thanks to that, Vermouth and his companions experienced many crises.]

“Like this bastard even knows what it was like,” scolded Eugene through gritted teeth.

The traps in the hellish Demon King’s castle weren’t something one could avoid just because they wanted to, so even though they had known that traps laid ahead, they still had no choice but to break through forcefully.

[…Hamel was always arguing with his companions. Stupid Hamel. Rude Hamel. However, Hamel loved his companions. Hamel, who was covered in scars, sacrificed himself for his companions instead of running away.]

“…”

[In his final moments, while cradled in the arms of his loving comrades, Hamel regretted that he had never been honest with them. Sienna, he said, I’ve always liked you.]

“I didn’t like her.”

[Anise, please pray for me.]

“I didn’t say that.”

[Molon, you’re the bravest warrior.]

“That bastard was just a blockhead.”

[Vermouth, make sure to defeat the Demon King. Vermouth swore an oath on Hamel’s tears that he would definitely defeat the Demon King. At these words, Hamel peacefully closed his eyes….]

There was nothing more to see after this. With a furrowed brow, Eugene closed the book.

‘So my character was sacrificed for the sake of a good bedtime story.’

Countless children had been taught a lesson about how even someone like Stupid Hamel could hide a righteous heart inside his chest. He had sacrificed himself for his comrades and he had even regretted being dishonest….

“Fuck, did they really have to sell my good name for such a cheap lesson?”

Even though he had read it several times, he still got angry every time. Finally, venting his rage, he threw the book across the room. He secretly desired to find the person who had written the story and beat them to a pulp, but the author of this book, which had already been around for three hundred years, was anonymous.

“Vermouth, Sienna, Anise, and Molon, you four are also to blame, you bastards. How could you allow a fairy tale like this to be written? Damn you, Sienna. Even though you cried like that when I snuffed it…! Did none of you even consider protecting your dead colleague’s honor?”

He suspected that might actually be the case, or at least he did once he had recovered from his outburst and caught his breath. After all, it wasn’t like they could have expected that Hamel would be reincarnated with a complete memory of his past life.

Damn reincarnation!

Eugene recalled all the time he had spent crying in his crib. In his opinion, his years of infancy were just as torturous as going through the Demon King’s castle. On top of his thoughts being fuzzy, he couldn’t even move or speak properly. So he was forced to spend every day of those long and terrible years chewing on a pacifier or staring up at the mobile hanging from the ceiling.

There was a reason why, as a ten-year-old, he had such a foul look in his eyes. From a young age, he had been forced to kill time by just staring into the distance….

Eugene released a heavy breath as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

‘… I’m fine with reincarnation, but why’d I have to get reborn as one of Vermouth’s descendants?’

Vermouth’s surname was Lionheart.

‘If I’m going to get reincarnated, aren’t there a lot of places that I could have gone to? So why, of all things, did I get stuck with Vermouth’s bloodline?’

Anyone else might have celebrated having such a powerful background, but there was no way that Eugene, who still had the memories of his previous life, could do that.

All his life, he had wanted to outshine Vermouth. Although he hadn’t yelled about being rivals as the story claimed he did, it was true that Hamel had tended to be conscious of the guy throughout their journey.

In the end, he hadn’t been able to escape Vermouth’s shadow. No matter how hard he practiced and strived, he still couldn’t shorten the distance between them.

‘The Great Vermouth.’

Eugene raised his head and looked at the large portrait hanging on the wall. The Vermouth depicted within it looked exactly the same as his memories from his past life.

‘The Stupid Hamel.’

He took a mirror out of his vest and looked at his reflection. The face of a ten-year-old child looked back, one who didn’t resemble Vermouth in the slightest. However, since his last name was Lionheart, he really was a descendant of Vermouth.

At first… he had thought that this was all just a long dream following his death. However, he had long since come to accept that this was his new reality.

The Stupid Hamel had reincarnated as the descendant of the Great Vermouth.

* * *

During his lifetime, Vermouth had many concubines alongside his legal wife.

‘He wasn’t someone who seemed overly interested in women, but I guess he changed with age.’

The Vermouth from Eugene’s memories wasn’t just abstinent; he was practically ascetic. To think that such a man would end up with ten concubines and a whole host of descendants.

‘In the end, he was still human after all, so I guess I get it.’

Only the descendants of the legal wife were recognized as the direct lineage of Vermouth. Although Eugene’s family was also surnamed Lionheart, they were only of a collateral line.

Even so, it wasn’t like they were left destitute. Although it might not be much compared to the main estate in the capital, Eugene’s family mansion was lavish enough to seem showy in its rural surroundings. So even though they were just collateral descendants, they were still being treated according to their station.

Within this spacious mansion, the gigantic gymnasium especially showcased its majesty. Descendants who inherited the blood of the Great Vermouth — the Hero, the God of War, the Master-of-all —- were not allowed to neglect their training. These words had been hammered into Eugene from a young age.

“Not again…”

Gerhard Lionheart looked down at his ten-year-old son with tired eyes. While he had also been diligent in training from a young age, his young son had already put all his past efforts to shame.

Although he might also be a descendant of the great Vermouth, Gerhard actually had no talent for the martial arts.

“…it really did break.”

Whenever he saw his son, he couldn’t help but feel mixed emotions. From Eugene’s behavior which wasn’t like a child’s to his sharp eyes that didn’t hold a shred of innocence, Gerhard felt there was always some distance between them. Even though Eugene had lost his mother when he was young, Gerhard had never once seen his son cry out for his dead wife.

And that wasn’t all. His son’s talent… was great, so great that it was hard to believe that they shared the same blood.

‘He’s a monster.’

Although this wasn’t an appropriate thought to have about his only son, Gerhard couldn’t help but feel fear at times. He was only ten years old, a child who had yet to even dabble with mana, but his skill when wielding a wooden sword needed to be seen to be believed.

“I was just swinging it, and it broke.”

Eugene lowered the sword with a click of his tongue. The wooden sword had been embedded with an iron core, making it too heavy to handle with just the strength of a child. Even so, Eugene had insisted on using a sword like this one ever since he was seven years old.

At first, Gerhard had thought it was just childish stubbornness. He had even thought it would be cute to see Eugene try and wield it with tears in his eyes. However, it had already been three years since then. Now, Eugene could wield this sort of heavy wooden sword with ease and had even gone on to add sandbags when the initial weight proved insufficient.

Gerhard gulped as he looked down at the floor, which was strewn with pieces of a broken wooden sword and a completely shattered practice dummy. How long had it been since the dummy was last replaced? Around three days? But this wasn’t anything to be surprised about. Every single one of the practice dummies in the gymnasium had had to be replaced at some point.

“The village blacksmith’s skills are garbage,” Eugene growled.

Although these words were too harsh to come from a child’s mouth, Gerhard didn’t bother to point this out. That was just part of Eugene’s innate character. Gerhard had struggled to correct his son’s manners throughout his childhood, but Eugene’s wild nature hadn’t changed a bit.

“Doesn’t he feel ashamed to accept money in exchange for this crap? He should be summoned and given a thrashing, but father, you are just too merciful.”

“That’s… Ahem… Don’t waste your time thinking about that. Next time, we’ll get something a little more durable.”

“Don’t bother with the practice dummy, just get me a whole block of high-purity iron. It’s just going to get smacked by a wooden sword, so there’s no need to give it a shape.”

Gerhard just stared at his son, unable to find the words. He noticed that his son now had such a hardened physique, it was hard to believe he was just ten. To be honest, if they fought barehanded, he suspected that he might even lose….

‘I’ve fathered a caveman….’

Gerhard was unable to feel pure joy regarding his son’s talent. Was it because he felt that his son was a monster? No, that wasn’t the reason. Among the many feelings that Gerhard had for his son, there was also a sense of pride. Unlike his father, Eugene had been born with brilliant talent, so how could he not feel pride?

However, along with this pride came a sense of guilt. It was an indisputable fact that, as a father, he was lacking in influence. Just because the descendants of Vermouth were all Lionhearts, it didn’t mean that the families were all treated the same. It had already been hundreds of years since Gerhard’s branch of the family was forced out into the countryside, and they mostly went ignored even among the collateral branches.

Should he tell his son about the reality of the situation? No, it would be better not to. After all, wasn’t such a topic too difficult for a young child to understand?

“Can’t I just use a real sword?”

Without even considering it, Gerhard bitterly shook his head.

“You can’t do that yet.”

“Because of the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony?”

“That’s right. If you take part in the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony three years from now, you’ll be allowed to wield a real sword.”

“Isn’t it fine if we just keep it a secret between the two of us?”

“Something like that… is not allowed. Because I am a Lionheart, I can’t just ignore family traditions.”

The Bloodline Continuation Ceremony was a Lionheart family tradition that took place once every ten years. During the ceremony, all children from the ages of ten to fifteen who bore the name Lionheart, both direct and collateral descendants, were called to the main estate.

The reason for this ceremony was simple. It was to decide who among them were best suited to carry the Lionheart name. After all, wasn’t it an embarrassment to claim to be the descendants of the hero without first proving it? So until that day, they weren’t allowed to wield a sharpened ‘true’ weapon until the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony was over.

‘What a stupid tradition.’

Eugene didn’t allow his thoughts to slip out. However, whenever he heard anything about the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony or the family’s traditions, he felt disgust and disbelief churn in the pit of his stomach.

The only purpose that the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony served was to suppress the collateral descendants.

The children of the collateral lines weren’t allowed to wield real weapons until after the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony. They also weren’t allowed to train their mana. However, the children of the direct line residing in the capital estate were free to wield any weapon they wanted, regardless of their age, and they started learning how to use mana as soon as they could walk.

‘That’s what it’s all about. They want to beat it into them from a young age that the collateral descendants can never outdo the direct descendants.’

This act of bullying was so obvious that even a child could see it. Much less Eugene, who, although young in body, had the mind of an adult.

Gerhard couldn’t see what was going on inside his son’s head. However, he got some idea of what Eugene was feeling from his sullen expression. Although he thought the sight of his frustrated son’s face was quite cute, his guilt grew even heavier.

‘If only he was born to the direct line….’

His son’s talent was brilliant, but clear limitations were placed on the Lionheart family’s collateral descendants. In the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony three years from now… although his son was so outstanding that it was hard to believe he was still a child, there was no way he could compete with the true inheritors who had grown up in the main household.

Such a reality made Gerhard feel tormented. If only he had been born without talent like his father… then Eugene wouldn’t have to feel the gap between his innate talent and the challenges posed by reality.

“Why do you have that sort of look on your face, father?”

“No… it’s nothing.”

‘As if. You can clearly tell that he’s blaming himself again for not being able to give me the best opportunities.’

Eugene clicked his tongue as he stared at Gerhard. Because of his clear memories from his previous life, it was difficult to regard Gerhard as his father. However, it was impossible to deny that he had been reborn as Gerhard’s son.

“Father. It’s been a long time, so why don’t we do some play-fighting?”

“Mm… What?!”

“I said, play-fighting.”

Eugene didn’t mention the word spar. He was trying to be considerate of his father’s feelings if his ten-year-old son were to challenge him to a spar. That’s why he used the word ‘play’ instead, but Gerhard’s expression still froze in horror.

Gerhard first felt the weight of his gut dragging him down. Then he looked at his son’s arm brandishing the iron-cored wooden sword like a toy.

“L-let’s leave that for next time.”

If his ten-year-old son were to accidentally use his full strength while playing… Gerhard quickly retreated while sweating buckets, just thinking about it.

Eugene giggled as he watched his father make his escape.

Chapter 3: The Lionheart

In the legends and pictures from the fairytales, the image of Vermouth with ‘the Holy Sword’ was always in center place, but according to Eugene’s memories, the Holy Sword wasn’t as great of a weapon as the stories made it out to be.

‘Though it did shine pretty brightly.’

It provided all sorts of help in the dimly lit Demon King’s castle, but that was it really. In the first place, as the Holy Sword was more of a ceremonial sword with an emphasis on appearance rather than function, Vermouth didn’t actually like to use it that much. It was to the extent where it was only taken out occasionally to deal with especially tough demons.

Vermouth was a master of many different weapons, which had gained him the titles of God of War and Master-of-All. That guy would pull all sorts of weapons out of his subspace whenever he needed to use something in particular.

‘And on top of all that, he was also good at magic,’ thought Eugene.

Throughout his life, Hamel had never learned any magic.

‘I’d like to think that if I had devoted some time to cracking it, I’d have been better than the average joe.’

But even if that were the case, at that time, he hadn’t spared magic a single glance. Back when he was a child and still thought he was a genius… the idea of learning magic had never even crossed his mind.

‘That would probably have continued to be the case even if I hadn’t met Vermouth.’

Hamel had gone through a lot of changes after meeting Vermouth.

In this world, there were people called geniuses who could excel at everything they tried. Young Hamel had believed himself to be such a genius, but an encounter with a true genius had shattered this childish delusion.

He learned that he wasn’t a genius.

‘But now?’

With a click of his tongue, Eugene tilted his head.

‘I have memories of my past life. If that was all I had, then I could easily become as strong as I was back then.’

He was certain of this. However, Eugene didn’t want to be satisfied with reaching just that level of strength. Since he had even reincarnated like this… what meaning would there be in staying at the same level that he had reached in his previous life. After all, he had been reincarnated as a descendant of that Vermouth.

‘Vermouth,’ thought Eugene as he massaged his thick arms, ‘it looks like there really is something to your blood.’

Even if a child worked out, they weren’t physically able to put on much muscle. However, Eugene had no choice but to admit that, apart from the size of the muscles, his new body was perfect.

Although he might not have bulked up, his whole body was wiry and flexible, and it was hard to imagine that a child’s body could have such dense musculature. His bones were equally sturdy. Even if he pushed his body to the breaking point, it didn’t cause any sequelae, and even serious injuries healed quickly.

‘Although my previous body was already good enough to be mistaken for a genius, this is just… there’s no comparison. It’s enough to make me understand how you could have gotten so strong.’

From the start, the base specs of their bodies had been different. This fact brought feelings of both joy and bitterness to Eugene. If he had had a body like this in his previous life….

‘…it’s pointless to think about it.’

Shaking his head, Eugene rid himself of the idea. His past life belonged in the past. Since he had been reincarnated like this, why bother with the regrets of his previous life?

With these thoughts in mind, Eugene attempted to shed his attachments to the past. However, he couldn’t quite let go of his regrets. After all, wasn’t the only thing that Hamel had left behind as his legacy was that fucking insulting nickname of ‘The Stupid Hamel’?

And what about the others?

After returning to his homeland in the Kiehl Empire, the Great Vermouth served as a duke before eventually returning the title. He was praised as a hero until the very end. The Kiehl Empire held a state funeral for Vermouth’s death, and, even now, the anniversary of Vermouth’s death was commemorated by the empire.

As for the Wise Sienna, that uncute girl was invited to the Magic Kingdom of Aroth, where she became the youngest person in history to rise to the position of a Magic Tower’s Head Wizard. Although there were only five Magic Towers in Aroth, two of them currently had one of Sienna’s direct disciples serving as their heads.

The Faithful Anise, that rotten woman, had actually ended up being canonized as a Saint by the Holy Empire of Yuras. Her teachings were so respected that they were even being passed down as a separate volume of scripture.

And Eugene just couldn’t believe what the Brave Molon was said to have done. It was claimed that Molon, that blockhead, had actually founded a kingdom! Did he really manage to gather all the refugees from the lands that had been ravaged by the Demon Kings’ forces and establish a kingdom in his own name?

‘And here’s the part that I’m finding the most difficult to understand.’

Eugene furrowed his brow. Whenever his thoughts turned to this matter, it was always at this point that he felt a familiar surge of rage.

‘It seems like everyone was doing just fine until they died, so why are the demons still around?’

In his past life as Hamel, he and his companions had ventured into the Devildom of Helmuth. While leading the subjugation forces sent from every country, they had killed three of the five Demon Kings.

Stupid Hamel then died at the Fourth Demon King’s castle.

He clearly remembered that, at the moment of his death, he had believed that Vermouth and his other companions would definitely slay the remaining Demon Kings.

However, how were things in reality? The world was at peace, of course. The Demon Kings no longer held any ambitions of conquering the world, and it was all due to the ‘Oath’ that the Great Vermouth had made with the Demon Kings.

‘Why did he end up making an oath like that? Weren’t we supposed to wipe them all out?’

He didn’t know the reasons behind it. But in any case, the war with the Demon Kings was over, and the world was at peace. A peace that had lasted for over three hundred years and continued to the present day.

“…Perchance, are you feeling a bit nervous?”

Eugene lifted his head as he heard a voice speaking to him. He was currently riding inside of a luxurious carriage. A middle-aged man with a stiff face was sitting in the seat across from him.

“…It’s because this is my first time in the capital,” Eugene muttered as he looked out of the window.

He had left behind his mansion in the countryside and arrived at the nearest city after a day’s travel in a horse-drawn carriage. Then, after going through several warp gates, he had finally stepped foot in the capital.

“I understand how you feel,” the man sympathized with Eugene.

The man’s name was Gordon. He was a knight who had sworn allegiance to the main house of Lionheart, and he was currently serving as Eugene’s escort.

“Master Eugene, would you mind if I give you a piece of advice?”

“Sure.”

“If you’re already feeling nervous, then every day spent at the main estate will feel extremely tortuous.”

There wasn’t a single sign of amusement on Gordon’s face. And even though these words had been offered as advice, there wasn’t a trace of concern either. Sensing this, Eugene grinned.

“Thank you for your advice, Sir Gordon.”

Eugene was well aware of his current plight. As they weren’t part of the direct bloodline, the reality was that the collateral descendants were forced to treat even the knights who had been assigned to escort them with wary respect. Much less Eugene’s household, who were beneath the notice of even the other collateral branches.

‘Even so, I’m still a Lionheart. They only sent a single knight to escort me… and my father wasn’t allowed to accompany me either.’

Without dropping his smile, Eugene turned back to stare out the window.

‘Although they aren’t being too obvious about it, they’re really trying to put us in our place. I guess they’re getting a head start by crushing our spirits? Bastards. Vermouth, this is all because you went and sowed your seeds all over the place.’

Eugene imagined how things might unfold in the near future. Seeing as how they were already trying to crush his spirit, he would probably be subjected to even more blatant oppression the moment he arrived at the main house.

‘Maybe they’ll gather all their knights to welcome us and then loudly announce exactly who is arriving and how humble their background is?’

No, they would save that sort of thing for those who were actually being treated as competition. Seeing how they had only sent one knight to escort him, they probably wouldn’t even bother to arrange a welcoming ceremony for him.

“…How many people are participating in this year’s Bloodline Continuation Ceremony?”

“Including Master Eugene, there are six people from the collateral lines. In addition, three heirs from the main house will also be participating.”

“Three from the main house?”

Although Eugene had pitched his voice in an attempt to feign surprise, he had already known in advance who was attending this year’s Bloodline Continuation Ceremony. This was all thanks to Gerhard taking special precautions.

Of the three people from the direct bloodline, one was the first wife’s son, and the other two were twins born from the second wife.

Within the five from the other collateral bloodlines, the only ones who needed to be paid any attention were the two from families who had gained quite the prestige despite being collateral bloodlines.

‘I think the oldest was only fifteen, and there are those even younger than me….’

Eugene was thirteen years old. Upon recalling his current age, he couldn’t hold back a sigh. All because of this tradition, was he really being asked to compete with ten-year-olds?

~

–Eugene. Whatever you do, don’t try to compete with the children of the main house. No matter how excellent you are, you won’t be an opponent for the children of the direct bloodline. That’s why you should….

~

Eugene recalled the gloomy expression that Gerhard had held at that time. His father couldn’t hide his fear that his son might fall into despair once he encountered the children of the main household.

‘…still, I can’t help but feel excited to see how talented Vermouth’s descendants are.’

Eugene tore his eyes away from the window. They had already passed by all the splendid scenery the capital had to offer, and now the carriage was leaving the city behind and entering a forest.

“From this point on, we have entered the Lionheart estate.”

The forest was surrounded by tall walls.

“Ah, but there’s no need to be in a hurry to get your things ready. We still have a long way to go from here.”

Even though he hadn’t been getting ready to leave the carriage at all, Gordon still smiled as he gave this teasing advice.

‘I get it, you bastard. Must be nice to have such a large estate. It’s not even your land, so why are you acting so smug?’

“Whoa, so this whole forest is the private property of the main house?”

“Yep.”

“If it’s this large, isn’t it inconvenient getting around?”

“There are warp gates installed everywhere.”

‘Is that so? Then why am I currently riding in a carriage? That’s because we couldn’t even be bothered to give Master Eugene permission to use the warp gates.’

While holding this back-and-forth conversation inside his head, Eugene continued to stare outside the window.

~

Just as Gordon had said, the carriage finally came to a stop after driving on for quite some time. After opening the door on his side and getting down from the carriage, Gordon walked over to open the door for Eugene.

“Welcome to the Lionheart family’s main estate,” Gordon said politely, with a bow of his head.

The mansion was visible through the wide-open gates. Just as expected, not a single person had come out to welcome him.

‘The Lionheart.’

Eugene slowly raised his gaze. White flags lined the path leading up from the main gate entrance, and a brave lion was embroidered in the center of each flag. This was the personal sigil of the main house.

‘Vermouth’s Lionheart.’

Eugene looked down at his own chest. His clothes were bare of any decoration. Only Vermouth Lionheart’s direct descendants were allowed to have the lion sigil sewn onto their left chest.

‘If only I had also left descendants.’

In his previous life, Hamel had neither married anyone nor had any children.

‘No. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any. If that were the case, I would have been left with some pointless regrets.’

Still, seeing the family’s flags lined up like this, he couldn’t help but feel regret for his past life.

“Have any of my other relatives arrived yet?”

“Master Eugene is the first to arrive.”

‘Hurray,’ Eugene thought with a nod of his head.

* * *

The place where Eugene was led to was an annex built off of the main hall.

On the way there, he hadn’t even caught a glimpse of a single relative who bore the lion on their chest that showed they belonged to the main family. Why were they being so aloof? Shouldn’t they at least feel some curiosity and come to take a look at the arrival of their thirteen-year-old relative?

But at least he wasn’t being received with complete rudeness. Upon arriving at the annex, he found that a single personal attendant had been attached to him.

The female servant greeted him, “Please call me Nina.”

Though from the looks of it, she was a young girl who wasn’t much older than Eugene, Eugene couldn’t muster up much dissatisfaction for this.

“If there is anything you need, please ring this bell,” Nina said as she bowed her head and handed Eugene a small bell.

She was probably in her late teens, at the very most.

“Do you mind if I speak comfortably?”

“Of course, please do so.”

“Am I the only one using this entire annex?” Eugene asked as he looked around the spacious annex.

He was only asking for the sake of confirmation. Eugene knew that this couldn’t really be the case. For one thing, Nina was far too young to oversee an entire annex by herself.

“I’m afraid that is not the case, but there shouldn’t be any discomfort during your stay.”

“So you’re saying that I’m going to be living with some other relatives,” Eugene confirmed.

“Yes.”

“Do you know when they’ll be arriving?”

“They all should arrive within four days at the very latest.”

Eugene snorted at this reply. Because this just meant that he would be stuck here for four days.

“Is there a gymnasium around the back?”

“…Huh? Um, yes…”

“Do I need permission from the main house to practice my swings with a wooden sword?”

“That’s… Um…”

“Because that’s just what I’m going to do,” Eugene declared with a smile as he headed straight to the gym.

With a helpless look on her face, Nina trailed behind Eugene.

Chapter 4: The Lionheart (2)

“Who was Gerhard again?”

“He’s that guy, the one who lives in a corner of the Gidol province.”

“And where exactly is the Gidol province?”

“It’s at the westernmost part of the empire… ah, what’s the point? It isn’t like we’ll ever need to go to such a rural area.”

Two children giggled mockingly as they gossiped about the new arrival. These two were Cyan and Ciel, fraternal twins born to the second wife of the main house.

Though their mother was the second wife, it was no secret that the Patriarch favored her over the official first wife. Such circumstances made these two thirteen-year-old children prideful enough to hold their noses so high in the air that they pointed straight at the sky.

“That bastard’s name is…?” Cyan trailed off.

“I heard it’s Eugene and that he’s the same age as us,” Ciel said.

“So what? It’s not like we’re going to be friends just because our ages are similar,” Cyan declared arrogantly while giggling.

Looking at the annex in the distance, he continued speaking, “I heard that this is his first time in the capital. Gordon told me earlier that he couldn’t take his eyes off the window the whole time he was in the carriage. Well, it’s understandable. He comes from a nowhere location like the Gidol province, after all. Does that place have anything to see other than forests and fields?” Cyan asked his sister.

“How should I know, I’ve never been there before either, but that’s probably the case since it’s out in the country. Did you hear if he got motion sickness from the warp gate?” Ciel asked in return.

“I heard that he had a nauseous expression on his face.”

“So it looks like he didn’t end up vomiting. Ah, how disappointing. If he had ended up vomiting, I was thinking of making him clean the carriage,” Ciel said with a mischievous smile.

At this prankish reply from his sister, who was younger than him by a few seconds, Cyan clicked his tongue and shook his finger at her.

“Idiot. If you want to order him to clean the carriage, he doesn’t need to have thrown up.”

“What are you saying?” Ciel asked.

“Since that brat came here from the countryside, then his body must reek of cow dung. In my opinion, he’s probably lifted more pitchforks in his entire life than wooden swords,” said Cyan scornfully.

“Aha!” Ciel exclaimed in enlightenment.

“Since he rode in the carriage for a few days, the smell of cow dung clinging to his body must have rubbed off onto the carriage as well,” Cyan elaborated.

“Ugh, how nasty,” Ciel said, her face twisting into a disgusted expression as she stuck out her tongue.

However, her disgust was isolated to her expression, as her eyes were instead filled with mischievous playfulness.

“The carriage he rode in is our family’s property. No matter what our relationship, if the carriage was dirtied because of him, then he should be held accountable, right?” Cyan asked.

“Yep, that’s right,” Ciel agreed.

“I just so happened to hear that as soon as that brat arrived at the annex, he went straight to the gym and started swinging a wooden sword,” Cyan said.

“What a show-off,” Ciel burst into laughter.

The twins, who had been born on the same day, had always gotten along well.

“Well, it is his first time in the capital, and he’s also arrived at the main estate. That’s probably why he’s putting on such a pretense,” Cyan sneered.

“Putting on a pretense? Just say it like it is, brother. He’s trying to show off.”

Ciel kept on laughing as she slapped her brother’s arm in amusement. However, in contrast, Cyan put on a stern look and straightened his back.

“Speaking of this stupid relative of ours, it seems that he must have come to the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony with high expectations of himself. It looks like he wasn’t properly educated by his father.”

“Yep, yep,” Ciel agreed with her brother.

“First, he ruins the carriage by getting his smell everywhere, and now he’s trying to show off to the adults by pretending to be training, how cheeky of him,” Cyan said.

“Looks like he needs to be punished,” said Ciel.

“Hey now, punishment is going a bit too far. Why don’t we just remind him about things he should and shouldn’t do? It’s for his own good. After all, we wouldn’t want him to get scolded by the grown-ups later.”

“You’re too nice, brother.” Ciel gave her full agreement with a grin despite knowing her brother’s true intentions. These young twins had long since learned that sneaky pranks like this were much more fun than outright bullying.

“Let’s go!” Cyan led the way with a forceful cry.

Ciel skipped along behind him before turning her head as she felt a gaze observing her from afar. The twins had been practicing mana since their childhood and could sense even intangible things like gazes.

Within the majestic and splendid mansion, a young man stood in a window on the third floor. After exchanging looks with Ciel, he leaned back and pulled the curtains shut. Ciel smiled bashfully at this sight and stuck out her tongue.

* * *

Until the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony, children of collateral lines weren’t allowed to wield sharpened weapons.

While Eugene had absolutely no respect for such a ridiculous tradition, his father Gerhard would never dare to ignore a Lionheart family tradition. There were too many eyes in their mansion to keep it a secret from the main family.

‘It’s too light.’

Eugene’s brow furrowed as he looked down at the wooden sword. He had wielded a wooden sword with an iron core ever since he was seven, and at the age of twelve, he had begun practicing his swings with an iron bar that barely resembled a wooden sword. It might be covered with a thin layer of wood, but the ‘wooden sword’ that Eugene had been wielding for over a year now was heavy enough to crush bones with a casual swing.

However, it wasn’t a sharpened weapon, so that was alright. Even if a greater amount of iron had been added to increase the weight, and it had grown to a size that few could even lift, it was still just a wooden sword.

To perfectly control his body, Eugene had been training every single day, not wasting even a day lying around.

Since he’d gotten a second chance through reincarnation, he had to make the most of his new life. But funnily, it wasn’t his reason for working this hard.

Eugene had been like this from the very beginning. Even when he’d been traveling with Vermouth and his other companions, he never missed a chance to train unless it was unavoidable.

‘Despite that, that fucker still had the nerve to say that I wasn’t working hard enough.’

Vermouth, that disgusting bastard; Eugene ground his teeth as he recalled that guy’s dreary gaze.

Eugene had come to realize that he was pushing his body far harder than he had in his previous life. Each time he pushed himself physically, it felt like his body was breaking through its previously imagined limits.

He still couldn’t be sure whether the body he had been born with as Vermouth’s descendant was superior to Vermouth’s own. However, it was clear that this body was far superior to that of ‘Stupid Hamel’s.’ He hadn’t even begun to dabble with mana. So, as a thirteen-year-old with a body that still wasn’t fully grown, did it really make sense that he was able to wield such a heavy piece of iron?

“Don’t you have any wooden swords that are heavier than this? It would be good if they were a bit bigger as well,” Eugene asked.

It felt like he had already swung it hundreds of times, but he was barely sweating. Eugene frowned and turned his head towards Nina.

“Also, I told you to stay in the shade over there. Why are you standing out here in the sunlight?”

“I-I’m fine,” Nina replied.

“As if you can be fine when you’re sweating like that. Stop being so stubborn and go sit in the shade. No, hold on. Before that, do you have any other wooden swords?”

Even as Nina was sweating profusely, she had a perplexed look on her face. The person in front of her was a thirteen-year-old child from a collateral line. Still, as a junior servant of the main family, he wasn’t someone that she could disregard. Although it might only be temporary, she had been assigned as his personal attendant, so it was impossible for her to rest in the shade while her master was training.

“The wooden swords are… the gymnasium’s storeroom should have all the ones available. Any other wooden swords would probably be in the main gymnasium….”

“Can you get some here?”

“That’s… I… I’m afraid that I can’t be the judge of that. If you wish, I could go and ask, but….”

“If that’s the case, then it’s fine. You don’t need to go.”

Eugene shook his head without any reluctance. He had heard from her earlier that Nina was only sixteen. She had only just gotten her apprenticeship qualifications, so he didn’t want to make things difficult for her by making unreasonable demands.

‘This is just too blatant.’

Eugene suppressed a grin as he put down the wooden sword. Why did they assign him a maid who was fresh out of her apprenticeship? Wasn’t it obvious? If he were to take his frustrations out on her when the clumsy attendant made a mistake or caused disrespect, he’d be setting himself up to be punished instead.

‘I don’t know whose idea this was, but they sure are underhanded.’

If he were to keep swinging this wooden sword, he wouldn’t even be able to warm up. Casually swinging his arms, Eugene headed over to the storeroom. This caused Nina to immediately try and catch up to him.

“Master Eugene, if there’s anything you need, please instruct me instead.”

“If it were anything else, then maybe, but if I’m going to use it to train, then I need to pick it myself. What would be the point if I told you to fetch something, but it didn’t suit me? Should I just waste both our time by sending you over repeatedly until you get something I can use? Instead, if I fetch it myself, then it’ll be over in a snap.”

The warehouse showed that it hadn’t seen regular use in a while because everything was covered in dust. Nina felt a cold sweat break out on her back as she saw the dust billowing in the wind. In fact, she had wanted to clean up this place for a few days now, but the maid in charge of the annex had rebuked her, saying it wasn’t necessary, so it had been left like this.

“M-my apologies,” Nina said.

“What for?” Eugene didn’t pay any attention to Nina bowing her head in apology behind him. He wandered through the dust until he found what he had been looking for — sandbags that could be worn on the body. He also found something useful on a shelf.

It was a chainmail vest that hadn’t been properly greased and left covered in dust. Although it was much bigger than Eugene’s torso, he liked the hefty weight he felt when he tried it on. After that, Eugene pulled out a large spear longer than his height.

“…Um…Is there anything I can help you with…?” Nina asked.

“Try stepping on this,” Eugene said as he gestured at the spear that he had just pulled out and placed on the floor.

Following his order, Nina stepped onto the spear. This kept it from rolling around, allowing Eugene to tie sandbags onto the spear.

Nina watched on with an overwhelmed look in her eyes. Eugene was currently wearing a large chainmail vest several sizes too big and sandbags hanging from each arm. But on top of that, even more sandbags were being hung onto the spear.

‘There’s no way.’

Just from the looks of it, the spear alone had to be double Eugene’s own weight. However, Eugene waved her off with a satisfied expression.

“You can move now.”

“Y-Yes.

Eugene bent his knees and lifted the spear with both hands. Although he clenched his teeth for a moment at its dizzying weight, the way his muscles tensed and bones trembled filled him with joy.

“Get back… No, even further… Just keep going until you reach the shade!” Eugene instructed.

“Y-yes!” Startled, Nina stepped backward.

After checking that Nina wasn’t in the way, Eugene swung the spear in a wide arc.

Whoosh!

The spear was heavier than him, but because he had placed even more weight on himself, he didn’t get dragged around by it. This was the secondary purpose of putting on the vest and hanging sandbags onto himself.

While taking heavy steps, Eugene kept swinging the spear fiercely. Each time he swung, it felt like his arms were going to be pulled out of their sockets, and his waist, which controlled the rotation, screamed in pain. At this sight, Nina covered her mouth with a gasp. She felt that this exercise might cause a catastrophe beyond the means of recovery for such a young body.

However, even as it seemed like Eugene would collapse at any moment, he stayed standing. Whenever his body seemed like it would falter, he instead swung the spear even faster. Then Eugene would force himself to arrest the increased momentum of the swing and immediately transition into a stabbing motion.

Pop!

He felt the calluses on both hands tear apart. This pain! He couldn’t help but feel grateful that he wasn’t wearing any gloves, as otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to feel this pain.

Eugene continued to swing the spear, giggling from pure joy. He compensated for his blood-soaked hands slipping on the spear shaft by holding on with even greater force. His eyes had turned red and bloodshot, and he was breathing rapidly from exerting too much strength.

“Hey.”

As Nina looked at this scene in awe, she was startled by a voice coming from beside her.

“What is that bastard doing?”

It was Cyan and Ciel. The evil twins had caused countless maids to soak their pillowcases with tears. The two had crept right next to her, and their eyes were twinkling with curiosity.

“Y-young master, young lady, what brings you here…?”

“I asked you what that bastard was doing,” Cyan spat out with furrowed brows.

He was displeased by the fact that this nameless servant hadn’t immediately answered his question. Under the usual circumstances, he would have torn into her so thoroughly that she would never dare make that mistake again. But currently, he was far more curious about what the villager was doing.

“Can’t you tell just by looking?”

This reply didn’t come from Nina. Taking a deep breath, Eugene stopped and lowered the spear onto the ground.

“Do you know what this is?” Eugene asked as he kicked the spear.

What was this bastard thinking? Cyan didn’t answer immediately and instead narrowed his eyes, but Ciel, standing beside him, grinned and answered.

“You idiot, it’s a spear, of course. Don’t you even know that?”

“That’s right, it’s a spear,” Eugene said.

“So what?” Ciel asked.

“Since you know it’s a spear, don’t you know what swinging a spear is?” said Eugene.

“I do know!”

“Then why were you asking her what I was doing?”

“I wasn’t the one who asked that. It was my brother who asked.”

“Then why don’t you try and explain to that stupid brother of yours. Tell him, ‘that bastard is swinging a spear,’” Eugene said.

Ciel’s eyes widened into circles at this insult.

In contrast, Cyan’s eyes became even thinner.

“Stupid? Me?”

“Seeing as how you didn’t know what was going on when you were looking right at it, you don’t seem all that smart.”

“Brother, that bumpkin is calling you an idiot.”

Ciel giggled and poked Cyan in the side. Rather than being enraged like her brother, she instinctively knew that she could make the situation more interesting by arousing her brother’s anger in this way.

This weak goading from his younger-by-few-seconds sibling was enough to make Cyan cry out, “You dare!”

Chapter 5: The Lionheart (3)

Cyan wasn’t a fool. Of course, he knew that Eugene had been holding a spear and swinging it as a training exercise.

However, this was his first time seeing such an unscientific method of training. Wearing a chainmail vest several sizes too big, tying sandbags onto both arms, and swinging a spear that was also laden with sandbags; could you really call that training?

At least in Cyan’s view, such a training method made no sense. It was far too barbaric and extreme. He was just recklessly swinging and stabbing a spear, without any semblance of style or technique, and he had so little control of his body that he was staggering here and there; how could something like that be called training?

‘This country bumpkin. He’s really working his ass off just for a little attention.’

While the chainmail vest might be large, seeing the state that it was in, it definitely had to have been made from the cheapest scrap iron. This meant that it couldn’t be as heavy as it appeared.

As for those sandbags, while they might seem hefty, looking at how they bounced as he moved, you could tell that, despite their thick leather casings, they were mostly empty.

‘Even if he’s hungry for attention, there should be a limit to his foolishness. Where does he get the nerve, coming here and playing this sort of trick…?’

Actually, he could understand it. This guy was a bumpkin from a place out in the countryside that no one had ever heard of, and even among the collateral lines, Eugene was the lowest of the low. He had probably decided to pull off something like this on the first day after receiving some encouragement from his parents.

Without performing a petty trick like this, there was no way he would be worthy of any attention. Though, the fact that his attempt was so transparently fake made it kind of funny.

However, unfortunately for him, this bumpkin daring to call Cyan an idiot wasn’t at all amusing, and in fact, it was enraging. Calming himself with a deep breath, Cyan pointed a finger at Eugene.

“Apologize.”

“For what?” asked Eugene.

“You dare pretend ignorance? Apologize for insulting my intelligence!”

“Sorry about that,” Eugene replied immediately.

However, Cyan wasn’t satisfied with this apology. He narrowed his eyes and raised his chin proudly.

“Lower your head and apologize more respectfully!” Cyan demanded.

“Aren’t we the same age?” Eugene asked without moving his head an inch. “You’re thirteen. I’m also thirteen. That means we’re pals of the same age, so why ask me to lower my head?”

“There’s no way that you and I can be friends!”

“We’re not friends? Then why have you been speaking to me so casually ever since you arrived?”

Eugene concealed the embarrassment he was feeling inside with a click of his tongue. He felt the urge to ask himself, ‘Just what do you think you’re doing?’

Adding on the years from his previous life to his current age, he was well over fifty years old. With that much of an age difference, wasn’t it just sad that he was getting into a fight with a thirteen-year-old brat, especially when that brat was one of his old rival’s descendants?

‘Well, so what? My past life is my past life. Right now, I’m also thirteen.’

When Cyan didn’t respond, Eugene pressed him, “As I said, what’s with the way you’ve been talking to me? So you aren’t just clueless about spears, but etiquette as well?”

“This….” Cyan’s eyes widened as words failed him.

As someone who had been constantly indulged ever since he was young, he grew up spoiled and wasn’t familiar with this kind of childish quarrel.

“This…. This cheeky….”

The biggest advantage of being a child was that you could act on your emotions without any restraint whenever you wished. So although he wasn’t familiar with this type of quarrel, Cyan relied on something that he was accustomed to — venting his emotions onto others. With large strides, he moved forwards until he was standing nose-to-nose with Eugene.

“You really don’t know your place…! Just because your last name is Lionheart, do you really think you’re one of the same Lionhearts as us?”

“No. I have a pretty good idea of the difference. I’m from a collateral line, and you’re from the direct line.” Eugene lifted his finger and pointed towards the main family’s mansion. “That’s your house over there. My house is… which direction was it in again? In any case, it’s far away from here.”

“Even knowing all that, you still dare to posture in front of me?” Cyan accused.

“I haven’t been posturing at all. I just informed you of a few facts that you seem to have missed. First, you asked what I was doing while looking at me, so I answered. Then you told me to apologize, so I did.”

“You really are impudent,” Cyan spat out as he held his nose. “Also, there’s a stench coming from your body. It’s the smell of the cow dung from the countryside mixed in with your sweat! It really, really stinks.”

“I’ve never gotten close to cow dung in my entire life, so who are you saying smells of cow dung?” Eugene asked curiously.

“If so, that just means it’s the smell of your own shit…! In any case, you just plain stink.”

“I’ll wash up in a bit.”

“No, go wash up now. Once you’re done, go and clean the carriage that you rode in as well!”

“The carriage?”

“Because the smell of shit from your body definitely must have rubbed off onto the seat! So I’m telling you to go clean it!”

“And why should I do that?”

“Because you’re the one who got your smell all over the carriage!” Cyan raised his voice and shouted shrilly.

Because of the close distance between the two, Cyan would send spit flying at Eugene with each shout. Eugene frowned and took a step back. Although Eugene had only withdrawn because he didn’t want to get spit on, Cyan still looked down on him with a smile of superiority for forcing Eugene to back off.

“Furthermore, you need to bow your head and apologize to me. I still haven’t accepted your apologies for calling me an idiot, saying that I didn’t know any etiquette, and for daring to place yourself at my level despite just being a collateral descendant. These all need—”

Without waiting for Cyan to finish, Eugene turned to Nina and said, “Nina.”

“Y-yes.”

“You’re my personal attendant, right?”

“Yes… Although I am undeserving of this role, I have temporarily been assigned as Master Eugene’s personal attendant.”

“If that’s the case, then instead of standing there, melting in the sunlight, go and clean the carriage that I rode in on.”

“…Yes?”

Nina had already decided that if Cyan and Ciel were to get bored and leave, then she would of course go ahead and clean the carriage herself. So she didn’t think that Eugene was giving her an unreasonable order, as it was only a matter of doing the task now rather than later.

However, Nina couldn’t understand why Eugene would give her such an order under the current circumstances. Didn’t he realize that one of the devilish twins was standing right in front of him? Eugene’s behavior showed an open disregard to Cyan’s orders.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Cyan burst out.

“I’m just getting the carriage cleaned,” Eugene explained.

“I told you to do it yourself!”

“Why should I when there’s someone who’ll do it for me?”

“I was ordering you to clean the carriage!”

“And who are you to give me orders?”

“I… I am Cyan Lionheart.”

“Okay, and I’m Eugene Lionheart. Nice to meet you,” with a bored look on his face, Eugene waved his hand.

Reacting to this, Ciel’s hands rose to cover a broad grin as she giggled in amusement even as Cyan’s jaw dropped open foolishly.

“And I’m Ciel Lionheart,” Ciel introduced herself, still giggling.

After glancing briefly at his cheeky little sister, Cyan took a deep breath.

“You… there is no way that I can get along with you.”

“That’s quite the disappointment,” Eugene commented with a disinterested look.

Ignoring Eugene, Cyan continued, “Because you keep ignoring my orders.”

“That’s because I’m not in a position that requires me to listen to your orders.”

“And furthermore… you have also insulted me for the last time,” Cyan finally finished.

“Wowzers,” was Eugene’s latest witty reply.

With each word out of Eugene’s mouth, a rage was stoked in Cyan’s chest.

Why was he standing here talking to this bastard? This wasn’t why they had come out here and approached this country bumpkin.

As the young master of the main family, once he gave an order, the other person was supposed to follow his command without a protest. Cyan’s head was about to burst from offended stubbornness and pride.

‘So, brother, are you just going to let that slide?’ Ciel leaned against him and fluttered her eyelashes in anticipation.

“A duel,” Cyan answered her unvoiced question.

This wasn’t an attempt to live up to his sister’s expectations for him, but because Cyan couldn’t bear to be looked down on any longer. Having received such disrespect from this country bumpkin, if he didn’t do anything in return, he just knew that he was in for several days of teasing at his sister’s hands.

“You have looked down on me and insulted me. As such, we must duel,” Cyan declared.

“What amazing logic,” Eugene said as he laughed at how ridiculous Cyan’s thought processes were.

He had never thought that something like a duel challenge would come from the mouth of this thirteen-year-old kid.

“Hey pal, something like a challenge to a duel isn’t something you should do so casually,” Eugene advised him.

“Who’s your pal?” Cyan retorted angrily.

“If you don’t want to be friends, then fine. In any case, don’t say anything that you’ll regret and just go. Stop bothering me already.”

“You’re scared, right?” Cyan said, proudly raising his chin at Eugene as if he had known that Eugene would react like that.

Although it was an obvious provocation, Eugene glared at Cyan through squinted eyes as he repeated, “Scared?”

“That’s right. It’s obvious that you’re scared. If you’re too afraid to duel me, then just quickly apologize.”

“And what should I do if I’m not afraid, but I don’t want to fight, and I don’t want to apologize?”

“Don’t you even know what honor is?”

“I do know that it isn’t a word that you should utter so lightly.”

“You… You’re insulting me again?”

For some reason, Cyan felt deeply insulted every time Eugene spoke. Finally, unable to bear it any longer, Cyan lifted a hand to a pocket on his chest.

“Don’t,” Eugene said with a frown. “A duel isn’t something you recklessly jump into.”

‘That son of a bitch. Who does he think he is to keep telling me what to do?’ Cyan thought as he scowled at Eugene and pulled out his handkerchief.

“If you’re afraid, then just admit it! Don’t try to run away from our duel by spouting all these denials! Haven’t your parents taught you what honor means?!”

“Oh,” Eugene said, tilting his head in response to these accusatory words.

While Eugene looked at him like he was stupid, Cyan rejoiced at the thought that Eugene had finally fallen for his provocation. So he held out the handkerchief and spread it wide open, inviting Eugene to take a close look.

“This is really the last time I’ll say this. Beg me for forgiveness, and then—”

“Throw it,” Eugene said as he untied the sandbags hanging off his body. “You wanted to duel, so just throw it already.”

“…huh?” Cyan responded dumbly.

“I said, throw it.”

Bang!

First, the sandbags on his left arm fell to the ground. Cyan’s expression froze and then stiffened as the impact sent a shockwave of dust rising into the air.

“…You…”

“The handkerchief, are you going to throw it or not?” Eugene prompted.

Bang!

Then the sandbags on his right arm also fell. Lastly, Eugene pulled off his chainmail vest and threw it behind him. The vest flew quite a ways before falling to the ground with a heavy racket. Cyan’s jaw dropped open at this scene.

“Uwah,” Ciel had been enjoying the show as if she was just a bystander, but now, she also let out an exclamation at this sight.

Eugene bent down and started taking off the sandbags tied to his legs.

“…You… You must have trained your mana…!” Cyan who, until this point, had been frozen with his mouth hanging yelped in outrage.

Children of the collateral lines weren’t allowed to train their mana until the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony. This was a long-standing Lionheart family tradition. Only the children of the main house could train their mana and wield real weapons from an early age.

This tradition was now being trampled right in front of his eyes. This was no longer something that he could respond to with simple irritation and a tantrum.

“I haven’t trained it though?” Eugene replied with a confused expression.

He wasn’t lying. He could have started training his mana once he reached the crawling stage of infancy, but he hadn’t.

It was because he didn’t want to land his father, Gerhard, in trouble for no reason; and also, since he had been reincarnated as a descendant of Vermouth, he wanted to use Vermouth’s own training method.

“That’s obviously a lie…! Without training your mana, how could you possibly be able to handle such weight?!

“It’s the result of the training I’ve done since I turned seven.”

“Don’t lie to me!”

“It’s not like you’ve tried it out for yourself, so why keep accusing me of lying. If you’re still suspicious of me, you can check it during our duel.”

Eugene sat down and began untying the sandbags from the spear. Cyan was watching this happen with wide eyes when he felt his sister’s eager gaze rest on him. He also felt a terrified gaze coming from Nina, who didn’t seem to know what to do. The annex’s other servants were also showing interest in the commotion from the gymnasium and had gathered around the windows into the room.

Cyan was the first to bring up the duel. He was also the one who pulled out a handkerchief, pestered Eugene despite his protests, and finally questioned Eugene’s honor. Considering all this, he couldn’t back down after coming this far. On top of that, he needed to confirm the sin of a collateral descendant training their mana before the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony.

If it was confirmed that Eugene had trained his mana, then he was in for punishment. But if Cyan were to keep his mouth shut and back down at this point, then it was clear that his sister would make fun of him not just for a few days but for eternity. So before doing anything else, Cyan picked up a wooden sword that had fallen nearby. It was the wooden sword that Eugene had been swinging earlier.

“…I challenge you to a duel!” Cyan cried out as he threw the handkerchief at Eugene.

The fluttering handkerchief fell onto Eugene’s shoulder. This happened just as Eugene was untying the last sandbag hanging from the spear.

“I accept,” Eugene said, with a nod, as he rose to his feet.

Cyan felt thrilled going into the first duel of his life. The moment he had thrown out his handkerchief, Cyan’s heart had begun pounding with excitement. This arrogant fool was a sinner who had ignored family tradition. How should Cyan go about punishing him? In what manner should he teach this fool a lesson so that his younger sister could also admire his magnificence?

His thoughts came to a screeching halt right at this point.

Just as Eugene got to his feet, he thrust out his spear.

Conscious of the fact that he was only holding a wooden sword in his right hand, Cyan had taken a few steps back to get some distance, but he still wasn’t able to properly react to the movement of the spear.

Bam!

The tip of the spear slammed into Cyan’s stomach.

“Kuargh!”

Along with this scream, Cyan was sent rolling across the ground.

Chapter 6: The Lionheart (4)

It was just a training spear, a wooden staff that didn’t even have a spearhead attached. However, its tip had still been sharpened into a point, so once it was thrust correctly…. Even if it couldn’t pierce flesh, it would definitely hurt like a bitch.

And if it was thrust cleanly into an unguarded abdomen?

“Uwaagh!”

This was how it would turn out. While rolling across the ground, Cyan sprayed vomit all over the place. The dumbstruck Ciel let out a scream and ran over to Cyan, while Nina just covered her mouth in shock.

“I’ve won,” Eugene said in a bored tone as he lowered his spear.

Had it been an actual spear, Cyan would have died from the attack just now. Of course, this wasn’t a real spear; but even so, since Cyan had been struck in a vital point and sent rolling across the ground, it was clearly Eugene’s victory.

“Nina, go get someone to drag this bastard away.”

“Y-yes…!”

Even as tears and snot were pouring down his face, Cyan couldn’t stop retching. Ciel had approached him out of concern, but couldn’t get any closer to her brother upon seeing his disgusting appearance. So instead, she turned and raised her head to glare at Eugene.

“Coward!” Ciel accused Eugene.

“Who’s a coward? From the moment that the handkerchief was thrown, the duel had already started,” said Eugene.

“That’s…. You’re right, but…! Even so, it was still a cowardly act.”

“Does everything seem like a beautiful and peaceful flower garden when seen through that head of yours? Since the duel had already started, there’s nothing cowardly about what I did. And didn’t your foolish brother end up like this because he just stood around trying to look cool after he threw the handkerchief?”

Ciel was struck speechless by this fierce rebuttal. Part of it was because she didn’t know what to say, but she was also confused by what he had said and thought he might have compared her to a beautiful and peaceful flower garden.

“…Did you just call me pretty?” Ciel asked

“Has the heat gotten to her head?” Eugene muttered to himself.

“In any case, it was obviously a cowardly move. You didn’t fight honorably in this duel,” Ciel recalled her indignation.

“Hah, it must be because you’re twins, but you really resemble each other in the amazing way you twist logic to benefit yourselves,” Eugene scoffed.

“I don’t resemble my brother.”

“Really, but I think your brains are similar? So what do you think an honorable duel should actually be like? Throw the handkerchief, count to three, and then we fight?”

“Um….”

Chewing on her bottom lip, Ciel glanced at Cyan as she tried to think of a response. Having managed to cover his own body with his vomit while rolling across the ground, Cyan was busy sobbing. While she felt sorry for her brother’s miserable appearance, dirty things were still dirty, so she refused to get any closer to him.

“…You could have lightened your blow a bit,” Ciel mumbled.

“Sorry, but that’s already as light a blow as I can manage,” Eugene replied.

“Have you really not trained your mana?” Ciel suddenly asked with shining eyes.

Eugene, who had started clearing up the sandbags littering the floor, glanced back up at Ciel with an annoyed expression on his face.

“Why aren’t you leaving already?”

“I asked you if you really haven’t trained your mana.”

“And I already told you that I haven’t!”

“Liar. How could you move while carrying such heavy weights if you haven’t trained your mana? And then there’s your attack. Even if my brother had let his guard down, it was still so fast that he couldn’t react properly,” as she said all this, her eyes that had been shining with curiosity narrowed in suspicion.

At these words, Eugene froze while still in the midst of sorting out the sandbags.

“You were actually able to see it?”

“Just the littlest bit.”

“Even so, it seems like your eyes aren’t just for decoration.”

“You really do have a nasty mouth on you.”

“It’s far from my first time hearing that.”

Everyone, except for Vermouth, had said something similar to him at one point or another.

While Eugene was piling up the sandbags in one location, Ciel stared absentmindedly at Eugene’s back. Although she couldn’t clearly see the movement of his muscles, concealed as they were by his clothes, it did seem like he wasn’t using any mana, only physical effort.

As such, Ciel was finding him even harder to understand. Both Ciel and Cyan had also undergone physical training since they were young.

‘But hasn’t he only been training since he was seven?’ Ciel thought deeply as she recalled what Eugene had said earlier.

Meanwhile, Eugene was thinking, ‘He’s quite strong for a thirteen-year-old kid.’

He had felt some resistance from the tip of his spear at the moment of impact. This was evidence that Cyan’s body had been trained to an unbelievable extent for his age. On top of that, considering the force with which Cyan had flown backward, his mana had already been trained to the extent that it was instinctively able to respond during a crisis by redirecting some of the force away from the blow.

And Cyan hadn’t just stood there and received the strike. Instead, the moment the attack landed, Cyan had instinctively tried to jump backward. This meant that he, a kid with no practical fighting experience, had instinctively responded to escape imminent danger.

‘That’s great for a kid, but as a descendant of Vermouth, it’s still garbage,’ Eugene criticized harshly.

Of course, Eugene didn’t know how strong Vermouth was when he was thirteen. Hamel and Vermouth had already been in their twenties when the two had met for the first time. Still, he could at least make a rough guess.

Cyan Lionheart, a brat who had received the teachings of the main family all throughout his childhood, was lacking in so many ways that it was hard to believe he really was Vermouth’s descendant.

‘Still, there is some potential.’

This must be because of the standard set by Vermouth’s blood. If you looked at what he might become in the future, Cyan had still shown some pretty good potential. And Ciel as well. Although they hadn’t faced each other personally, she seemed to have pretty keen eyes.

“You…. You dare…. To me…!” Cyan had finally recovered enough to speak.

While taking deep breaths, Cyan raised his head and looked up at Eugene. His eyes were still spinning, and it hurt whenever he moved, as if his abdomen really had been pierced right through. There was also a fishy and rotten taste in his mouth.

“How…. How cowardly…!” Cyan gasped.

“It might be because you’re twins, but you two really do end up saying the same things,” Eugene snickered as he looked down on Cyan. “I don’t want to repeat myself. Ask your sister what I said when she tried to accuse me of the same thing.”

“This…son of a bitch…!”

“Or else you can try and retrace your memories. You might have been spraying vomit everywhere as you were rolling in the dirt, but your ears should’ve still been working, right?”

Cyan couldn’t say anything in return. Eugene was right. Even though he’d been in intense pain and was about to lose his mind from the nausea, Cyan had heard Eugene’s words.

However, even if he had to admit that it hadn’t been a cowardly act on Eugene’s part, the thirteen-year-old Cyan absolutely refused to accept his defeat. In front of his sister and all the servants — to have been forced into such an ugly state!

“Now then, you need to start cleaning all this up,” looking at Cyan’s face, which had twisted in humiliation, Eugene continued to provoke him. “You’re the one who vomited all over the place. So if you promise to clean up this mess, I’ll also go and clean the carriage. Then everything is nice and fair, right?”

“You dare…. You dare…!”

“Also, since you’ve lost the duel, the honorable and polite thing to do would be to acknowledge your defeat by humbly admitting, ‘I have lost.’ Even though you were spouting honor this and honor that earlier…you aren’t really going to try and do something so disgraceful as to refuse to admit your defeat, are you?”

“Ugh…!”

He couldn’t say anything back. He didn’t have any way to express his anger, his whole body hurt, and he had a terrible taste in his mouth; everything seemed to have gone wrong for Cyan. If only the pain was a little less severe, he could get up and demand another fight, but currently Cyan was physically unable to do this.

The pent-up anger and sorrow building up within him poured out as tears. As his nose kept sniffling sadly, Cyan buried his head in his arms. Of course, Eugene didn’t feel any compassion toward such a sight. After all, wasn’t it this brat who had approached him with such a shitty attitude in the first place?

However…he was starting to think that screwing with this thirteen-year-old brat might not have been in his best interests.

‘I should have just held it in. This isn’t going to lead to something pointless and shitty, is it?’

Eugene was finally starting to have a few concerns about the consequences of doing this. Right from the start, he’d been blatantly harassed and disrespected, but now that he had made the child of the main family fall into such a state…. In fact, what he was most worried about was that someone might take issue with this incident and set their sights on his father out in the countryside.

‘Just let them try it and see what happens.’

While Eugene was thinking about this and that, Cyan was desperately trying to hold back his tears. Although he didn’t want to look even worse than he already was…he still didn’t want to admit defeat. He was in a fit of childish stubbornness.

“Young Master!”

The shout came from afar, but the speaker quickly closed the distance. The man who arrived at the gymnasium was of strapping height and was dressed in a uniform. From far behind him, Nina could be seen chasing after him, out of breath and holding her skirt up with both hands.

“This…what on earth is this?”

From the fact that he didn’t have the Lionheart on his breast to how he called Cyan a young master, taken all together, the man had to be a knight in service to the main family.

‘Wow,’ Eugene thought, his eyes lighting up as he observed the man’s movements.

While Eugene couldn’t tell how old the man was, he seemed much more skilled than Gordon, the knight who had been assigned to escort him here.

“Ha-Hazard,” Cyan burst into tears as he called out the man’s name.

“I…. I lost. I challenged that bastard…to a duel…but I lost….” Cyan explained in between sobs.

“A duel….”

Hazard eyed Eugene with a stiff expression. Then he lowered his body and picked up Cyan, covering his hands and uniform in Cyan’s vomit. Ciel seemed disgusted by this sight and took a few steps back.

“…Pardon me for my late introduction. My name is Hazard, and I am in charge of tutoring Young Master Cyan.”

Shifting Cyan into a more secure position, Hazard bowed his head in a nod.

“I heard part of the story from the maid, but I was in such a rush to get here that I didn’t listen until the end. So…what on earth happened here?”

“I am Eugene Lionheart, from the Gidol province,” Eugene introduced himself without bowing his head.

“Gidol, you say…. I believe that is where Lord Gerhard’s estate lies.”

“Yes, he’s my father. As for this situation, well… Cyan picked a fight with me. I tried not to argue with him, but….” Eugene continued speaking while staring directly into Cyan’s face. “Cyan insulted my father.”

“When did I do that!” Cyan protested.

Eugene calmly explained, “He said that my father had failed to teach me what honor means, and he called me a coward to my face.”

At these words, Cyan’s face went red.

“He also said that my body smells like cow dung,” Eugene added.

“…It’s the truth. Your body really does smell like cow dung…!”

“And your mouth smells like vomit, so why don’t you just shut it.”

Eugene sharpened his eyes and glared at Cyan. Cyan unconsciously trembled at his fierce gaze. The place where Eugene had hit him for critical damage, his solar plexus, was still throbbing in pain.

“…so that’s why you two dueled?” Hazard asked.

“Cyan didn’t just insult me; he insulted my father. Sir Hazard, was there any reason why I shouldn’t have accepted the duel?” Eugene posed a question in return.

Sir Hazard felt a strong sense of incongruity at this question. In front of him stood a boy who was just about the same age as Cyan and Ciel, but Eugene hadn’t allowed his emotions to color his words, as his tone was completely calm. Hazard, who had endured years of the twins’ whining, couldn’t tell if it was the boy in front of him who was abnormal or if it was the twins who were abnormal.

“…You had a good reason for it, but… it seems like you were a bit too heavy-handed,” Hazard admonished Eugene.

“Isn’t it an insult to the opponent to show mercy during a duel?” Eugene defended himself.

“….”

“Sir Hazard, if my skills were clumsy, then I would be grateful for your advice, but I don’t want to hear any advice on how I should use a lighter touch on my enemies.”

“…I apologize for my presumptuous remark,” Hazard bowed his head once more.

Cyan, who was still being carried by Hazard, shouted with his face twisting into a scowl, “Hazard! This bastard, he’s trained his mana. Even though he’s a collateral descendant! He’s trained his mana without ever attending the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony!”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut your mouth?” Eugene said as he glared at Cyan, his head tilted at a dangerous angle.

Once again, Cyan fell silent and lowered his gaze.

“…Young Master,” Hazard gave a long sigh and shook his head. “Master Eugene has not trained his mana.”

“Hazard! Even you’re lying to me?!”

“What reasons could I possibly have for lying to Master Cyan…?”

“But that doesn’t make sense…! How could he beat me without training his mana! And… and those! Those sandbags! He moved while he had those sandbags hanging from his body….”

“I cannot feel any mana coming from Master Eugene,” Hazard said as he glanced at the sandbags piled behind him.

Just from a glance, they definitely seemed heavy. So Eugene was able to move with all of that hanging from his body? Hazard was finding it difficult to imagine such a sight.

However, no matter how many times Hazard examined him, Eugene did not give off any traces of mana.

“A lie… It has to be a lie,” Cyan mumbled.

“Master Cyan. For now… we should take a look at your injuries,” while coaxing the boy, Hazard glanced over at Eugene.

“I stabbed him in the solar plexus with a spear,” Eugene explained helpfully.

“…and where else?”

“There was only a single blow.”

A single blow…? Hazard let slip a low groan as Cyan bit his lips in embarrassment.

“…If that’s the case… Master Eugene, may we meet again.”

Unable to say anything further, Hazard bowed his head politely. Nina, who had still been trying to catch up to him, arrived at the gymnasium just at that moment. She hesitated, unsure what to do, and eventually just ducked her head.

“M-my apologies,” Nina stammered.

“What do you have to apologize for?” Eugene asked as he watched Hazard leave.

He had a grin on his face as he watched Cyan, who was still being carried, flop down onto Hazard’s shoulders. While it was true that he still felt uncertain about what he had done, it had been fun helping to fix the bad habits of such a spoiled brat.

“See you later,” Ciel, who had been skipping along behind Hazard, turned to look back at Eugene with a smile.

“Bye-bye,” Eugene returned the smile as he waved goodbye to Ciel.

Author: 목마
Translator: Openbookworm & Namu
Edited and proofread by audiowuxia.

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