“Oof…I can’t believe that happened…”
“I’m, I’m really sorry. This is all my fault…”
After the duel and school was over, Marlon headed home.
Beside him as he scratched his head was his childhood friend Helene.
With tears in her eyes, she apologetically bowed her head to him. To which, Marlon replied don’t worry about it, and patted her on the head. Thanks to that, the tears that threatened to fall were no more.
The two shared the same route to school for a specific reason.
Each student under the academy’s scholarship program was provided their own residence. Those residences were quite luxurious, which just goes to show how confident the academy was in their scholars becoming elites in the future. Marlon thought of it as an investment on them.
Marlon and Helene’s residences were close to each other. Thanks to that, the two of them continued to be neighborly toward one another even after they came to the royal capital.
“But, how do I say it, this is different from what I expected. First of all, I’m just be glad that he didn’t demand anything from you, Helene”
While Helene smiled and looked at him with upturned eyes, Marlon began remembering what happened at the end of the duel.
What kind of terrible things would he ask of me? I guess I can accept if it’s my death, but…
He was prepared for a grim conclusion to their duel. Surprisingly though, the thing that Herbert demanded was for Marlon to be in charge of Herbert’s do-over. It was a position Marlon didn’t fully understand.
After being given that position, Herbert immediately dragged him somewhere and explained the details.
To put it simply, Marlon was to help Herbert in his attempt to start over.
Herbert had been causing all sorts of trouble here and there. Understandably, many people—including Herbert’s own father, the current Duke Unruh—bore varying degrees of ill-will toward Herbert.
Herbert apparently wanted to be better.
Marlon didn’t expect Herbert to think of such a commendable thing. So much so that his mouth was agape the whole time Herbert explained himself.
I want to change my present circumstances. As much as I can, I want to start over. To that end, Marlon, I want your help.
Herbert said so humbly while bowing his head.
If Herbert was asking him to do something horrible, Marlon might have refused. But since it was only to lend assistance toward a praiseworthy goal, Marlon felt like he had no other choice than to accept.
Strictly speaking, Marlon wouldn’t be bound by any law, so in extreme circumstances, if he decided not to do anything, he would be relatively alright.
“But that Herbert…he’s really different from what I expected.”
“Ye-yeah…I thought he’d be scary, but…”
When Herbert tried to make a move on Helene, Marlon had been convinced that the former was a typical sleazebag noble.
And yet, when Marlon saw Herbert apologize and bow his head, Marlon didn’t detect a trace of insincerity. Marlon also believed that Herbert’s desire to start over was genuine.
“Yeah, his attitude definitely fits the bill of an oppressive noble…but maybe I just misunderstood him.”
Now more than ever, Marlon believed in not judging a book by its cover.
Marlon had no intention of letting his guard down during the duel, yet in the end, he still lost.
Marlon had assumed Herbert to be a negligent noble who skipped out of lessons, but that tenacity to not fall no matter how many times he was hit wasn’t something most noble heirs could simply learn.
And the nail to the coffin was Herbert’s magic. Marlon didn’t understand how it could have happened, but he was completely unaware of the existence of the spells that hit him until a moment before it launched.
Marlon was quite satisfied by the duel though.
Herbert has been the source of multiple frustrations for Marlon ever since the start of school, but Marlon felt like most of those were settled at the end of the duel.
Moreover, thanks to their earnest fight, Marlon understood that Herbert’s desire to change was real. He just couldn’t hold any grudge against someone like that. If anything, he felt like he wanted to help as much as he could. Like that, Marlon’s mind had come to a decision.
“Anyway, I should go talk to Nell tomorrow.”
“…ok, I understand. You’re really a serious person, aren’t you?”
“If anyone’s a serious person, shouldn’t it be Nell? I mean, she’s got higher marks than me in school.”
“That’s, that’s not what I was talking about…”