The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 24

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 24

Chapter 24: Return (2)

“No.”

Refusal came in one resolute word simultaneous with the proposal.

It was so swift it made my somewhat meaningful comment seem embarrassing.

Perhaps angered by my immediate response, the princess’s face flushed red.

“Why, why not!?”

“Do you not know the reason better than anyone, Your Highness?”

Without needing any grand reasoning, this one line silenced the princess.

“That makes sense. I have no power of my own…”

To become someone’s person is like grasping an unstable rope.

If the rope is strong and durable, one can climb to the skies; but if it’s old and frayed, it will snap before long, plummeting one down.

Though a member of the imperial family, the orphan princess had no power or backing – a freshly twisted, fragile rope.

Besides, I had vowed to live this life for myself—I had no intention of becoming someone’s person, not even as much as the dirt under my nails.

She didn’t say any more, only bowed her head in silence.

If she truly wanted me, she should have come up with a fitting proposal instead of hastily begging for it.

Though I had jokingly told her to become the emperor, the reality of a powerless princess ascending to the throne was as likely as her four siblings dying all at once.

This is why I preferred to remain uninvolved…

Her clenched fists revealed her frustration.

However, this did not mean I had completely cast her from my mind.

Now that I knew she was under the scrutiny of that devil…

“Then, may I ask for some time?”

“Time?”

“You currently have nothing, Your Highness. No power to protect yourself, no backing, nothing. That is the biggest reason I cannot be ‘your person.’ Becoming bound to a princess in this powerless state is far too great a risk, isn’t it?”

“That’s true… You’re right.”

The princess nodded as if conceding the point.

“Yet, one of the things that should never be underestimated in this world is human potential. Who’s to say how much you might have changed in a year, three years, or ten years? Since I am not currently thinking of serving anyone, I can certainly afford to watch Your Highness grow.”

“Watching me?”

“Yes. Though the time is indefinite, if the day comes when I wish to truly serve you as my sovereign, then I will reach out my hand to you. If that is acceptable, may I ask for your patience?”

On the surface, it seemed like I was asking for time, but in reality, I was giving her time.

In other words, ‘if you want me, prove your worth by growing stronger.’

It didn’t take long for her to understand what I meant.

“So I have to grow strong enough to earn your recognition?”

I responded in silence.

“I see. I’m not sure if I can meet your expectations, but I will try. And when the day comes that I am fit to be an empress, I will speak to you again! I will ask you to become my person!”

It all depended on her, as I’ve said time and again.

Even if she someday became capable of being an empress, whether I would stand by her side was uncertain.

But for now, the orphan princess’s face held a clearer resolve than ever before.

Having finished her business, she rose to leave.

“We’ll see each other in a year at the Royal Academy, won’t we? I hope you stay well until then. You’re tenacious, as your maid described, so you’re unlikely to die easily!”

“……I’ll take it as a compliment.”

Her earlier cowed appearance was gone; now, she regained her composure.

As the princess moved towards the door, she looked back one more time.

“May I ask you one thing?”

“Speak your mind.”

After a brief pause, she asked with a soft smile.

“What do you want to live for?”

I didn’t reply immediately to the unexpected question.

“Ever since I first saw you, I felt that like me, you have a clear goal. If it’s not too much trouble, can you share it?”

It wasn’t a problem to tell her.

After all, my current life wasn’t for anyone else.

Ever since my first death and my second chance at life, I have only pursued one thing.

“I will live for myself.”

* * *

Ten months had passed since the emperor’s circuit tour.

The dry season gave way to a bitter winter with swirling snowflakes.

While the snowy veil over the stark gorge was indeed beautiful, looks can be deceiving.

After all, beneath that white blanket lay a horrific curtain of blood…

“Heave-ho!”

Somewhere on the outskirts of the rear camp.

A man wrapped in a white cloak hurried toward an unknown destination.

He soon arrived in the middle of a deserted forest.

After ensuring he was alone, he sat on the ground and took out an item.

It was a small transparent cube with the appearance slightly larger than a palm.

– Ping!

He directed a small concentration of mana at the cube, and with a short flash, a tiny dimensional gate opened.

“Not much time left…”

Pleased with what he saw inside, the man reached into the cube for its contents.

Just then,

“Freeze.”

A chilling voice cut through the air, halting all his senses.

“This… What is this?”

-Crunch, crunch.

The sound of footsteps crushing thick snow approached.

Exactly five steps behind the man, the presence of an unfamiliar entity could be felt, carrying a strange aura.

Although he wanted to see what it was, his stiff neck refused to turn.

“Dimensional box, eh… It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these artifacts. Or is it not yet mass-produced at this time?”

“……!”

“A high-grade artifact that uses a space within dimensions created by magical power to store potentially infinite items. Wasn’t it a masterpiece made by the Garam Kingdom’s Magic Society?”

The footsteps drew nearer while the owner of the voice continued to speak.

“During the past year, I kept an eye on how they stored and transported these items out of the front lines. The supply cart that comes every quarter, could someone inside be an informant?”

The unfamiliar figure finally picked up the artifact from the man’s hand.

“If valuable items were hidden not in plain sight but in a special dimensional space known only by a few, and one such person was present in this front-line region?”

A chilling mist obscured the man’s vision.

Though he couldn’t see clearly through the mist, he could sense overwhelming malice.

After the haze lifted, a figure appeared unscathed—Sian Vert.

Holding a crimson dagger, with blood dripping from below.

“A bumptious fellow like you really doesn’t burn well. I might have to deal with the insiders who helped you if things get worse.”

Alone with Sian, the man felt why he had appeared here didn’t matter anymore.

This child may be extraordinary, but after all, he is inexperienced in real combat.

The man calculated he just needed to move quickly and leave this place.

-Swish

As his frozen fingers began to move, Sian rummaged through the scattered corpses, apparently distracted by the grim spectacle.

The man secretly gathered mana under his fingertips and chanted.

“Hell’s flames shall engulf everything!”

-Whoosh

With the incantation, a surge of fiery blaze shot up.

It was ‘Inferno Flame,’ a seventh-tier fire-spell that engulfed Sian in a monstrous fiery maw.

The scorching flames made the snowy terrain irrelevant.

It seemed impossible for any human, let alone a higher demon’s corpse, to withstand such heat.

Convinced of his success, the man relaxed.

-Skrrk

That’s when the peculiar sound caught him off guard.

His eyes trembled as they shifted to his left hand.

Through the blurry heat haze, the expected sight was gone.

Instead, trails of red seeped downwards, and a strange pain registered.

Seeing his left wrist pouring blood without its hand attached, he screamed.

Wreathed in the consuming blaze, instead of smoke, a black mist rose from within.

-Whisk

The small mist expanded enough to swallow the infernal flames.

“Black mist?”

The man desperately hoped that what he saw was not the dark element he anticipated.

This was not a natural phenomenon nor a human-made magical creation.

It was the vile power worshiped by the followers of a god-like being.

In disbelief, the man watched the flames die down, revealing Sian, unharmed and gripping a blood-stained dagger.

“You shouldn’t have underestimated us. Now, it all depends on your actions. If you want to suffer less, forsake your pride and confess everything.”

The figure before the man exuded the presence of a ruthless assassin, no longer just a boy.

The man, realizing death was upon him, opened his mouth intending to bite his tongue.

“Ugh!”

But his attempt was swiftly resisted by an unfathomably strong grip.

“This is why people like you are called dogmatic, protecting worthless gods at the expense of your own life…”

Sian’s tone grew grave with displeasure.

The man, overpowered by the young hand, felt his options and time running out.

His despairing mind understood that his final moment had come.

Resolved, he mouthed to endure the agony, to bite down on his tongue anyway.

(To be continued)

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