In a scenic piece of land in Spinel, the royal capital of the Lindner kingdom, stood an especially large residence that belonged to Duke Unruh.
And in this residence was an elegant, resplendent, and flamboyant room. It was as though all of the luxuries in the world were gathered in this one spot.
“Tomorrow…we can finally kick that that commoner out of the academy tomorrow.”
There was one and only that thing that didn’t seem to fit in that entire estate.
It was a young man who snorted like a pig and a body that has grown as fat as an orc’s. His beautiful blue eyes, which resembled his mother’s, has now become glazed. Similarly, although he used to have large, double eyelid eyes, his fatness has made that second layer hidden.
The name of this man whose flabs shake whenever he moves was Herbert von Unruh. As could be guessed from his ‘von’ and the presence of a family name after it, he was a noble of the kingdom. To be more specific, he was the son and heir of Duke Unruh.
“Truly, how could a mere commoner defy me, the heir of House Unruh, of all people—tch, just the thought irritates me!”
Herbert stood up, picked up the first thing he laid his eyes on—which was a vase—and threw it against the floor as hard as he could. Along with a smashing sound, the thin and exquisite white porcelain broke.
The geometric patterns painted on it became a sorry sight, and the treasure that was worth many gold coins turned into utter junk.
Needless to be said, Herbert was in a foul mood.
The reason for that was a certain student in the magic academy he attends.
The Lindner Magic Academy had introduced a scholarship system this year. Under that program, if an individual, even a commoner, managed to attain exceptional scores in the time of their admission, not only would they be admitted into the academy, their tuition would also be waived.
Thus, in the year that Herbert started attending the academy, two people were admitted through that program.
The object of Herbert’s ire was the commoner named Marlon. Anything the man did got under Herbert’s skin.
“Damn it! Isabela-sama and you too, Nell, what do you see in him!?”
Herbert thought Marlon to be impudent simply because the latter chose to attend the academy despite being a mere commoner. Yet, for some reason, Marlon quickly became popular with everybody in the academy.
Marlon had made lots of friends, regardless of the gender and the gap in their social standings.
Even Isabela, the second princess, and Nell, Herbert’s fiancée, were in good terms with Marlon.
In contrast, Herbert still hasn’t made a single friend.
To make matters worse, people have been bashing me behind my back and calling me names like ‘swine noble’!
Herbert had some people around him, but they simply wanted to be associated with a Duke household and were not at all interested in Herbert himself.
In the simplest sense, Herbert was envious of Marlon. So much so that he threw a white glove at the latter. Among nobles, such was a gesture of issuing a challenge for a duel.
In these duels, the loser must do whatever the victor demands.
Of course, what Herbert desired from this long-standing—since the kingdom’s early days, in fact—yet almost obsolete custom was the dismissal of Marlon from the academy.
He was sure that as long as Marlon was out of the picture, everybody would instantly notice him and his greatness. That Nell, just like the old days, would smile for him once again. That Princess Isabela would no longer be indifferent to him, the next Duke Unruh.
He was so sure of it.
Of course, that wouldn’t be the case even without Marlon.
After all, the reason no one approached him was his abuse of his position as the heir of a duke household to commit acts of violence whenever he lost his temper. It was also this behavior that made Nell refrain from meeting with him even before they entered the academy.
That was just the kind of creatures that humans were: seeing only what they wanted to see.
Against all evidence that proved otherwise, Herbert has chosen to put the blame of all his miseries on Marlon. Maybe if he had someone, a friend, who could tell him such things…
“I’m going out for a walk. Be sure to clean this place before I get back, or else.”
“Y—yes! O-of course, Herbert-sama!”
Looking away from the quivering maid, Herbert exited the room.
Herbert imagined the scene that could happen the next day and smiled.
The figure of Marlon groveling on the ground.
Him looking triumphant nearby.
And all the others from the academy praising him…
Herbert had no doubt that he would win in the upcoming duel.
Although he had grown fat to the point others joked that he was an orc, his talent in magic was the real deal.
Herbert was what was known as an Element Master, someone who was able to use all of the four elements of magic, namely fire, water, wind, and earth.
He was even praised by everyone as a child prodigy back then.
However, conceit got to him and he has stopped practicing properly. In fact, he was now unable to perform some magic he used to be able to. In a similar fashion, he has been skipping out on his sword training as well.
Talent in magic was primarily reliant on one’s lineage. Being from duke household was amazing enough, but considering that House Unruh had members who were part of the royal family 3 generations ago, Herbert was highly blue-blooded indeed.
He had so much latent talent that even without training, he managed to get the highest score in the practical use of magic—but not the written exam about magic—during the admission exam of this year.
But then again, because of his horrendous scores in swordsmanship, he ranked only fourth in the overall admission exams, coming after the two people in the scholarship program and the princess…
“Phew…as always, the tea you make is delicious.”
“You flatter me, Herbert-sama.”
Herbert was out in the courtyard, sitting in a large, custom-made chair.
His chairs needed to be custom-made since he has gotten so fat, ordinary chairs break down quickly.
Standing by his side as he inelegantly slurped some black tea was an elderly man named Kevin.
He used to be House Unruh’s head butler, but after handing that role to his successor, he has been working as Herbert’s personal attendant.
He has been Herbert’s personal attendant for a long time now.
As such he had an extensive knowledge about his master.
For example, he knew that Herbert disliked bitter things, and preferred a lighter black tea.
He was the only one Herbert could really confide in.
Similarly, he was fond of Herbert as though the latter was his own grandchild. That grandchild of his might be arrogant and even unmanageable these days, but he just knew that Herbert would someday return to being who he was when everyone was still praising him to be a prodigy.
Everyone might have given up on Herbert, but Kevin continued to believe.
“Gramps, I’ll be in a duel tomorrow. Once I shatter their expectations, I’m sure everybody in the academy will have to take a better look at me.”
“I see. I fully believe it’s impossible for you to lose, Herbert-sama.”
“Hahaha! Right you are, Gramps! There’s no way I, Herbert von Unruh will lose against a mere commoner!”
Kevin was sure people in the academy would be surprised to see Herbert laugh and smile like that.
Herbert, ever since he started going in the academy, has always been a foul mood and has been lashing out at those near him.
Even Nell would probably not believe it if somebody told her that he still had a soft side like this.
If only you always smiled like this, I’m certain many others will become fond of you, Herbert-sama.
Kevin couldn’t help but think so whenever Herbert smiled at him like that. But he didn’t dare tell the boy that. After all, he knew that telling Herbert that would only result in Herbert doing the exact opposite.
“Alright, I guess I should at least practice some magic for tomorrow…huh?”
Herbert stared at the cup and saucer on the table while tilting his head sideways.
As for why, he felt a mana fluctuation at that location.
Magic was the craft of using magic power to bring about certain changes to things and phenomena.
And because something was being altered whenever magic was used, abnormalities could be detected in the point of interest. To someone of a certain level of mastery, this could be perceived as fluctuations of mana.
“Gramps, get back! Something’s coming!”
Without saying anything else, Kevin took a big leap backward.
His movements made it hard to believe he was over 50 already.
Meanwhile, Herbert stayed in front and quickly prepared to cast a magic spell.
He chose a magic of the fire element, as that was his best element, and then gathered mana so that he could activate it as soon as he need to.
He had no idea what was going to happen, but he was at least sure that magic was being used in front of him.
Is it an enemy, an ally, or…
With bated breath and a wildly beating heart, Herbert readied himself for battle, a thing he hasn’t done for a while.
Before long, something appeared before him: a letter.
As soon as the letter appeared, the mana fluctuations stopped and all traces of magic being used also disappeared; all that remained was the letter that dropped down on the table.
Basically, most mages used magic that belonged to one of the four elements.
Every now and then though, there came someone who could use magic that wasn’t of any element. That magic was dubbed unorthodox magic.
There weren’t many people who could use such magic or even people who could serve as guides, so virtually everyone that could wield it had to learn by themselves.
In turn, that meant it was even rarer for anyone to achieve mastery. Those that did often went down in history for one reason or another. Whether it was through fame or infamy, what mattered was they were known far and wide.
At any rate, Herbert, despite being wary of any potential traps, picked up the letter.
As soon as he saw what was written in the envelope, he was shocked.
“Is this my…handwriting…?”
The handwriting on the envelope definitely resembled his.
The penmanship he saw a bit better than his, but it definitely had the same idiosyncrasies as his own.
As for what was written on the envelope: to myself of 20 years ago
He shook the enveloped, but there was just paper within.
Moreover, on the other side of the envelope was the seal of his ducal household.
He showed the envelope, both the front and the back side, to Kevin and got a comment he expected.
“This is almost certainly your handwriting…and I think the seal is real too. There have been multiple attempts to fake the seal, but none has even come close to this level of detail.”
The seal was their crest: two snakes intertwined with one another.
For some reason, Herbert felt like the snakes of rebirth, which represented House Unruh, were staring right at him.
Who the hell sent this letter!?
With hope and anxiety alike in his chest, slowly read the letter.
TL note: I don’t know much about eyelids, so I’m not so confident about that part.
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