The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 51

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 51

Chapter 51. My Person(1)

“Haah…”

The sun filtered through the window on a bright morning.

For me, a stifling yawn was turning into a deep sigh that seemed to carry my weary soul.

“As I mentioned earlier, magic is the utilization of the divine power that created this world. Hence, it depends on how we use the mana that resides within our bodies…”

After nearly 30 years, I was sitting in a lecture.

I might have struck a bad deal with the chancellor.

I had said I would attend classes from time to time, out of a sliver of conscience, but it seemed I would have to recalibrate what “from time to time” actually meant.

Even sitting still for two hours felt unbearably boring.

-Swish-

The moment the first class ended, I immediately stood up.

Today’s lessons were over for me.

If I listened any further, my mind would become muddled.

Just as I was about to leave the classroom without a textbook to my name, an unexpected voice stopped me in my tracks.

“Where are you going, Sian?”

My eyes immediately met with the proof of royalty, a red brooch representative of the imperial family.

In this classroom, there was only one person who would wear such an emblem.

Princess Arin.

She was glaring at me with apparent displeasure.

“I’m going to the bathroom.”

I responded with a flat expression.

“The bathroom is not that way. Don’t tell me you’re planning to skip out after attending only the first lesson in a month?”

Why is she, who isn’t even an instructor, concerned about my business?

“The bathroom on this floor will be crowded, so I was heading to the one downstairs.”

Princess Arin’s gaze sharpened with doubt as she observed my unchanged expression.

Beside her stood Resmus, wearing a look of mild embarrassment.

“Are you really just going to the bathroom?”

“Of course. I will return to the classroom after that.”

Though probably not for another two weeks or so.

“Alright. Then come with me. I need to use the downstairs bathroom, too!”

For a moment, I thought I might have misheard her.

When I had rescued Resmus, I thought she had changed a bit, but her childish behavior seemed to remain unchanged.

“Ah, Princess Arin, no matter the situation, please mind the dignity befitting a princess…!”

Even Resmus seemed compelled to intervene.

Something about the form of address felt off.

“Have you been granted permission to address her by name?”

“Hm? Oh right! I told Resmus to call me by name in private settings! We’re all just students here!”

All just students…

I doubted that anyone else in this academy held that view except for her.

“Regardless of what you desire, Your Highness, you should be cautious in front of others. As I’m sure you are aware, this place isn’t exactly hospitable.”

Despite my advice, her annoyed expression did not clear up.

“And you are?”

“Pardon?”

“Why do you still refer to me as ‘Your Highness’? I’ve heard you’ve even spoken terms with Prince Set. So why can’t you do the same with me?”

“Isn’t the situation different? I’m a subject of the empire, and you are imperial royalty. How could I dare address Your Highness so casually?”

Resmus flinched, surely surprised.

“I bet at first, she also firmly opposed the idea of dispensing with formality.”

Princess Arin exhaled a small sigh.

“You’re just the same as you were a year ago, aren’t you? Still so blunt and stubbornly upright.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

As this pointless conversation continued, I heard footsteps descending the stairs.

“!”

The princess’s body stiffened as she saw their faces.

“Arin?”

Those who now faced her seemed to recognize her and immediately furrowed their brows.

It was easy to infer they were brothers by looking at their identical faces.

The unique trait of the Nephris family, a dark spot beneath the eyes.

They wore the same royal red brooches as Princess Arin.

I too recognized their faces.

The empire’s third prince, Fabian Severus, and the fourth prince, Nerobian Severus—Arin’s older half-brothers and sons of the current empress.

If I remember correctly, they are about four years older than me, so they would now be around 15.

As adolescents in puberty, their prominent adam’s apples and grown figures stood out.

To them, 11-year-old Princess Arin was nothing but a fledgling chick.

The brothers looked past her, their sleepy eyes observing from above.

“Good to see you after so long. Brother Fabian, brother Nerobian…”

Princess Arin touched the brooch and slightly nodded her head.

Naturally, they weren’t on cordial terms to begin with.

After all, they are princes backed by Count Nephris, the emperor’s relative by marriage. They had little reason to take kindly to Arin, who had dubious pedigree.

“…”

Her brother, Prince Fabian, scoffed indifferently at her greeting without even looking at her and continued on his way.

On the other hand, Prince Nerobian smirked unpleasantly as if he found the situation amusing.

“At least you’ve grown a bit now, not shaking while greeting, Arin…?”

“…”

She remained silent, merely tilting her head down.

Though she didn’t show it, I could sense her trembling.

“Even going to the trouble of keeping company, as fits a princess. Not that you’re one to have anyone worthy by your side…”

His scornful eyes glanced at her only briefly before they hardened upon locking with mine.

“Sian… Vert?”

Had I become such a public figure already?

It felt like everyone I encountered knew who I was.

“Do you know me?”

“Of course! How could I not know the son of the Duke Vert, an old friend of His Imperial Majesty? I saw your duel a few days ago. Despite having an unremarkable affinity, you beat the Sand Prince quite spectacularly, didn’t you?”

Not really feeling like a compliment—is it just me?

For now, I didn’t let it show and replied.

“Thank you for the kind words.”

“I’ll definitely invite you the next time I host a social gathering. Let’s talk more then!”

He patted my shoulder ambiguously, whether in encouragement or provocation, and smiled.

“…”

Then, he approached Princess Arin and whispered something into her ear.

Balled fists and quivering pupils.

The whisper meant for her alone, unfortunately, also reached my ears.

Isn’t having overly good hearing just a problem sometimes?

After casting a warning that wasn’t really advice, Prince Nerobian promptly followed Prince Fabian down the stairs.

The aftermath of the storm left a deafening silence.

“…”

Attempting to regain composure, Princess Arin took a deep breath.

“Sorry. That was embarrassing, wasn’t it?”

“Those people just now… were they the princes?”

Resmus asked.

“Yes, they’re my brothers. We don’t get along too well, but they seemed particularly harsh today.”

“What did they say to you?”

“It’s nothing. Just a misunderstanding.”

Misunderstanding…

Well, it wasn’t exactly incorrect, considering that a “warning often carries a hidden threat.”

Strictly speaking, Prince Nerobian had just put Princess Arin on alert in that situation.

Why?

Obviously, because of me.

His offer to invite me to a social gathering wasn’t made carelessly.

Just now, in this instance, he had treated me as a noble in my own right.

As funny as it is to say it myself, my status at the moment was far from trivial.

There were already rumors inside the academy that I was receiving special treatment and that I was using the royal quarters by order of the emperor himself—essentially, my position was made clear.

(I only came to know of this relatively recently.)

Anyhow, there I was, quite conspicuously beside Princess Arin, no matter the reason.

So, naturally, he couldn’t help but be wary.

If there was a misunderstanding to be had, it was only that I’m no one’s man at this point.

I was merely caught by her while trying to escape class and got into a bit of a scuffle.

“Uh… Sian?”

With her small lips trembling slightly, it seemed Princess Arin had something to say.

“Go ahead.”

“Is it true what they say about blood being thicker than water?”

Her question came out of the blue, but I had a rough idea of what she meant.

I answered casually.

“Typically, that would be the case. After all, blood relations represent the most fundamental connection in human society.”

“That’s true. Family is always supposed to be there, right…?”

Disappointment crept into her voice at my perfunctory reply.

“However, if you add power to these blood ties…”

“?”

“Then even the dearest of relations can become worse than strangers.”

It was somewhat of a personal testimony.

“Because power can be so much more cruel than blood…”

What she made of that was up to her now.

“…”

I don’t know what she was thinking, but she clenched her fist with resolve.

* * *

As the sun settled in the western sky, Brian passed through the center of Rowen’s streets, his hands full of snacks like candy, bread, and chocolate.

“…”

Though it was still crowded with people, Brian’s heart wouldn’t settle down.

He sensed a strange, unfamiliar presence tailing him amidst the throng.

This wasn’t the first time he’d had this feeling.

Since the day after he arrived in Rowen with Sian, he had felt the watchful gaze of some unknown party everywhere.

Was it attributable to his unique animalistic senses?

Once or twice he might have ignored it, but when it persisted, even someone as insignificant as him had to take notice.

Especially when walking around outside the academy or buying groceries, he always felt a persistent shadow.

Was it a tracker sent from Belias?

If that were the case, then they would certainly not be trailing him alone.

After all, he was just a lowly servant.

The natural target would be his master.

Despite his worries, these presences would usually disappear without a trace within a day or two.

Specifically, after Sian left the dormitory every night saying he was going out for exercise.

Without saying a word, Brian knew his master was handling it on his own.

This had happened about three times up until now with watchers disappearing and new ones appearing.

But something felt off today.

Like other times, a group was following him stealthily, but now there was an additional group from the opposite side doing the same.

They clearly weren’t from the same faction.

One simply maintained a distance to observe, while the other emitted a killing intent that suggested they might attack at any moment.

Perhaps because of a previous traumatic experience, he had grown accustomed to these vile intensions.

He couldn’t just ignore them as usual.

Swiftly picking up the pace, Brian turned toward a dark alley instead of the dormitory.

His pursuers followed suit.

He had become the servant of an 11-year-old in what felt like both a short and long month.

In that time, he had encountered a slew of bizarre events: an odd instructor popping in and out, a woman materializing from a sword, and even a hybrid child of dragon and human lineage.

Even for a child of an esteemed duke, Sian’s level of extraordinariness was hard to match.

Sian’s age was merely a number for Brian.

Occasionally, he wondered about his master’s true identity and made some guesses, but he never asked directly.

Sian, for his part, never told him to keep secrets or tried to hide anything.

Brian believed that his master trusted him and would tell him in his own time.

After all, he was not the sharpest of people.

As long as he remained loyal and served his master well, that was enough for him as a servant.

However, because matters of the world don’t always follow one’s wishes, being a servant ultimately meant having to be useful to their master.

A strong determination filled Brian’s eyes.

Then, in the dead-end alley, he placed the snacks on the ground and, looking at the corner, he softly spoke.

“Come out now, please.”

(To be continued)

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