The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 203

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin

Chapter 203: The Essence of Fog (2)

Humans are frail creatures, yet they adapt remarkably quickly. The beginning is always the hardest, but once adaptation kicks in, it becomes natural, as if it was always a part of routine. I was no different. Initially, when I first grasped the assassin’s sword after overcoming trials, hesitation filled me pointlessly. Do you know who was the first target of my sword’s stabbing? It was myself. Not the me I faced through the trials, but the very me holding the sword. Only after piercing and bleeding out the weak nature within me could I properly wield the assassin’s blade. After that, I naturally grew accustomed to it. Whether related by blood or acquaintance, hesitation ceased as I took the lives of those I had to kill. Not because I was me, but because an assassin must do so.

What is this situation, then? Can you say I wouldn’t hesitate? Did the clan leader truly think I would falter, even slightly, in assassinating the delicate princess? Anyone else might, but me?

“Are you being serious? Do you honestly believe I cannot kill that hollow shell of a princess?” I asked.

“There’s a 99% chance you could,” they admitted.

The distinction between 100 and 99 is stark. It implies she believes there’s a 1% chance I wouldn’t follow through. I acknowledge it; my relationship with the delicate princess isn’t merely ordinary. I was the one who first suggested she become empress and saved her from near assassination by a marionette in the imperial palace. More than that, when Princes Fabian and Nerobian sent assassins after me, I informed her and helped her build defenses, a sword, and shield. Lastly, I urged her to carry on, ensuring that one like me would never appear in this world again.

I admit it! All these unusual involvements were because of her, and it is she who unsettles me by appearing in my dreams begging for just one word. So what if that’s the case? The moment I recognize her as a target, I will kill her without hesitation as I’ve always done.

“On what grounds do you doubt me? Have I shown any hesitation or reluctance in my purification work for the clan leader?” I demanded.

“No, you haven’t. You have fulfilled your duties as an assassin better than anyone else,” they conceded.

Suppressing a surge of resentment, I wondered why they doubted me, they, who understood better than anyone.

“Lemme ask then,” the clan leader spoke up, squinting at me sharply. “Why didn’t you kill your brother in Brenu seven years ago?”

I was momentarily speechless, not because I couldn’t answer, but because I didn’t expect those words from the clan leader at that moment.

“You said it was to inflict the greatest pain on your vengeance target, to let him feel the frustration of being unable to bring you down despite everything.”

No explanation was necessary; they already knew the answer.

“Back then, you thought you could handle everything. No matter what others planned or what terrible deeds they did, you believed you could manage it all. The same holds true now.”

Indeed. Whether then or now, I am prepared to bear responsibility for all my actions, for myself, and for all within my sphere.

“How selfish that thought is… you need to realize that now.”

It felt like being hit on the back of the head with a massive hammer. Selfish? Is that what this is?

The words rang hollow. A powerless person’s grand principles are nothing more than futile stubbornness. But that’s not me. I have the power to protect myself and others. If even a god stands in my way, I am determined to kill him.

To be called selfish, after everything I’ve done and withstood, seemed ludicrous.

“You might think your present life, forged not to repeat past mistakes, has been built solely by your own efforts. But that’s a grave misconception, Sian. You are the product of many hands shaping you into who you are now.”

For some reason, their words resonated in my head like an echo.

“Isn’t that right, Sian? Humans are foolish creatures capable of compromising great causes for the sake of a small kindness. By choosing to be human yourself, you are also bound to make the same mistakes unless you cease to be human altogether…”

I felt sick. Amid this severe situation, the image of the weeping delicate princess flashed before my eyes, as if echoing the clan leader’s prediction.

“Just as you’ve overlooked many for the sake of your own and for those close to you in the past, this time we shall overlook you for your sake.”

With these turbulent emotions, my sealed lips refused to open. They seemed to say that any word from me would only diminish me more in this predicament.

“If you’re really itching to do something, why don’t you go walk around with Nana, who has been rather bored lately, preferably far from the imperial palace.”

With that, the clan leader rose and left her seat. I remained motionless as her steps receded into the distance.

Normally, Ceyram would have jumped out by now, mocking my pitiful state, but now, even she didn’t appear.

“Keek!”

A laugh escaped my lips unexpectedly. Despite the situation not being remotely amusing, I just started laughing. Perhaps it’s an indication that I am not in my usual state of mind.

* * *

“…Hence, the imperial family has decided to disband and reorganize the Knights of the Light. Further decisions will be communicated to each territory via official correspondence.”

]Sender: Arin Severus.];

The imperial edict received was just shy of reaching the imperial palace.

While others were unable to hide their shock, Jereon’s expression was remarkably indifferent. It was as if he’d expected this all along.

“Why do you all look so startled? We’re not even part of the Knights of the Light anymore, so why worry about its disbandment?”

“Are you truly unperturbed, Lord Jereon?”

“If something becomes unnecessary, it’s natural for it to be discarded. Isn’t that the way of the world? Should I even need to explain such things? You all act younger than your years.”

Though not as old as Jereon, they were men in the twilight of their lives, their hair white and faces wrinkled.

“The document states a reorganization, not a total disbandment. Roles naturally change with the times. The Knights of the Light are merely undergoing such a process.”

His subordinates struggled to respond, their eyes shifting elsewhere uncomfortably.

“You who stood unshaken before superior demons are now comically distressed by mere words.”

Jereon scanned his men with a hint of contempt.

“Are you still planning to go to the imperial palace?”

“I must. I am aware that the reception will not be as cordial as in the past…”

A reception quite the opposite was a real possibility.

“You typically ask such questions to deter someone, suspecting they’ll only see trouble upon arrival…”

As Jereon read their eyes, a smile formed on his lips.

“It seems you all desire to go to the imperial palace, eager to confront whatever awaits. If we’ve done nothing wrong, they surely won’t toss us into prison upon arrival.”

Their somber expressions began to ease.

“Let’s go and see for ourselves if the path we’ve taken was indeed the correct one.”

“We shall follow your command, Captain!”

The title ‘Captain’ might have felt awkward considering how long it had been, but Jereon’s men’s eyes shone with a fervor reminiscent of decades past when they proudly wore pure white armor on the battlefield.

Though their bond seemed everlasting at that moment, their resolve dissolved mere eight hours later.

When morning came and Jereon was nowhere to be found, Mark, sensing something amiss, entered his room.

“Lord Jereon?”

Mark’s eyes widened in disbelief. Jereon, who had promised to go to the imperial palace with his men, had vanished without a trace, leaving behind a casually written note.

]I’ll be back.];

* * *

“I was about to retrieve you myself, but I’m grateful that you came directly,” said Violet, brimming with smile as she poured tea for him.

Jereon glanced at the cup offered by the princess before taking a sip.

“I never imagined Violet, the princess, would personally receive me.”

“Is my presence inconvenient for you?”

“Of course not. I simply assumed it would be Princess Arin visiting me, hence my comment.”

Violet covered her mouth, laughing with poise.

“That child is quite busy nowadays, striving every day to be a worthy member of the imperial family. As her sister, I’m truly grateful for her efforts.”

A brief silence fell between them.

“Such an unforeseen event.”

“The disbandment of the Knights of the Light?” she inquired.

“It’s Princess Arin handling imperial duties that surprises me. When I retired, the imperial family was on the precipice of a storm. I never imagined she would mature so rapidly into her role.”

“What does lineage matter? With the right ability, anyone is deserving of their place. Much like you once were, Captain Jereon…”

Despite the significance of her words, Jereon dismissed them with a sip of tea.

“Until I passed through the city gate, I considered two possible scenarios.”

“What scenarios?”

“The first was being apprehended by knights upon entry. The second is the current situation.”

“Apprehended? Why would you entertain such a dreadful possibility?”

Violet appeared genuinely concerned.

“I would have preferred the former. It would reveal the imperial family’s intentions in this matter. But this situation is different.”

“How so?”

“As the former leader of the Knights of the Light, I simply show up at the imperial palace while they are being disbanded. What good does that do the imperial family? Yet, they welcome me with such kindness…”

Jereon’s gaze sharpened momentarily.

“They must want something from me. Isn’t that right, Princess Violet?”

Despite his probing, Violet maintained a tranquil demeanor, her lips curled into a satisfied smile.

“Always so astute, Captain Jereon! Then, without any further ado, I shall speak plainly.”

Rising, Violet took Jereon’s hands in hers and implored,

“Will you become our savior?”

(To be continued)

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