The Legendary Spearman Returns

Side Story Chapter 77
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Side Story Chapter 77

Kireua dreamed of his barely-remembered childhood.

“Argh!” Kireua fell down.

A child with deep blue hair and of similar age to Kireua, stood proudly, pointing the long wooden staff he held with both hands at Kireua.

“…I lost.” Kireua bit his lower lip in frustration.

The other child received a round of applause from everyone.

“His Highness Selim is indeed great.”

“He takes after His Majesty’s talent.”𝘭𝑖𝘣𝓇ℯ𝘢𝒹.𝘤ℴ𝘮

“He’ll be able to use his mana in no time at this rate.”

Kireua couldn’t help but notice the compliments lavished on Selim.

“Compared to him, His Highness Kireua is…”

“He moved well, but he keeps having problems when it comes to spears. It’s like he’s wearing clothes that don’t fit.”

“Maybe he’s not His Majesty’s son?”

“Watch it! Someone might hear you!”

Maybe Kireua’s only gift was his hearing ability—everyone talked in a hushed voice, but Kireua could hear them as clear as day.

However, the voices abruptly ceased, and the knights hurriedly bowed. Charles entered and sent everyone away.

“Kireua,” she quietly said.

“Y-Your Majesty,” Kireua stammered.

“Raise your head.” Charles turned to look at Selim. “Selim, you got better, didn’t you?”

Selim was as taciturn as he was quick witted. He bowed politely and saw himself out.

Charles immediately leaned toward Kireua. “Your brother is leaving, so why don’t you say goodbye?”

Kireua just bit his lip angrily.

“Are you angry about losing the spar?” Charles gently asked. “I’m a little worried. Having a good rival will help you grow, but I don’t want you to hate your only brother.”

Kireua still didn’t answer because he was so angry about his defeat that he couldn’t stand it.

“I’m not just saying this to console you. His Majesty also always regrets it.”

“…His Majesty does?” Kireua finally responded.

The Emperor of Avalon was Kireua’s idol, so he always listened carefully to stories about the Emperor of Avalon with sparkling eyes.

Charles nodded. “Yes, he has a brother too.”

“This is the first time I’ve heard this…”

“It must be. Everyone tries not to mention it, and His Majesty himself doesn’t try to meet his brother.”

“Who is his brother?”𝙡𝓲𝒃𝓻𝓮𝙖𝒅.𝙘𝓸𝒎

“He’s the current Duke Agnus.”

Kireua’s eyes widened. “What? Are you talking about the Agnus family? The one that’s collapsing?”

“Yes, Babel von Agnus is His Majesty’s only brother, but that isn’t the important part… His Majesty still regrets how he left things with Duke Agnus.”

“Why?”

“Well, they had plenty of chances to repair their relationship, but they didn’t. Although the rest of the family did mean things to His Majesty, Duke Agnus wasn’t exactly at fault. In fact, he turned over a new leaf and helped His Majesty in secret,” Charles explained.

“Huh? Then why did they drift apart?” Kireua asked.

Charles smiled. “That is how life is. Brothers drift apart as they get older. They’re close yet distant from each other.”

“…I think I understand what you’re saying.” Kireua looked at Selim’s retreating back and clenched his fists. Kireua thought that he could never become close to Selim. Getting constantly compared to him by other people was one of the reasons, but Kireua and Selim were as different as fire and ice.

“…But it’ll definitely be hard to be close with him,” Kireua murmured.

“Why do you think that?”

“Selim and I have different mothers. Why in the world did His Majesty have to get married several times…”

Charles’s expression darkened for the first time. “Kireua, you shouldn’t say such things.”

“A-Are you angry?” Kireua asked, startled by his mother’s serious tone.

Before long, the smile returned to Charles’s face, dissipating the tension as quickly as it appeared.

“He’s not lascivious. That is not why His Majesty has three queen consorts,” Charles said.

“Then why?”

“I had a problem in my family, and Selim’s mom had a problem with the organization she was in.”

“Then what about Her Majesty Icarus?” Kireua tilted his head.

“For her case, it’s the results of her sheer effort. She followed His Majesty around like a fanatic, and a while later, she shouted at the top of her lungs in the Palace, ‘Because of you, I was too busy tending to the state’s affairs and became an old bachelorette. It’s all your fault!’” The memory made Charles burst into laughter.

“People say that they thought Her Majesty Icarus and Sir Cain were going to get married.”

“No, no, their age difference is too big. If they did, Sir Cain would have been treated as a thief.[1]”

Kireua scratched the back of his head. “Why has Sir Cain still not gotten married?”

“He lost someone whom he was deeply in love with when he was young.”

“R-Really?”

“Yes,” Charles said, nodding. “He still hasn’t gotten over her. You may find this hard to believe, but there are still a number of women who have a crush on Sir Cain.”

“Losing the woman he loved…? How could that have happened?”

“Well, I think the right thing to do is ask Sir Cain himself,” Charles said.

Her eyes suddenly widened just as a shadow loomed over Kireua.

“Greetings, Your Majesty.” Charles bowed elegantly.

It was Joshua; thus, Kireua quickly stood up from the ground and shouted, “G-Greetings, Your Majesty!”

“Have you lost again, Kireua?” Joshua asked.

Kireua’s expression rapidly soured.

“Your Majesty?” Charles poked Joshua’s waist with a smile plastered on her face.

“No, I’m asking out of genuine curiosity.”

“What are you saying?”

“This must be why it’s said that parents can learn from their children too.” Joshua nodded.

Charles tilted her head in confusion.

“Kireua.” Joshua looked down at his child.

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“What does that feel like to lose?”

Kireua blankly gaped at him.

Charles jammed her finger into Joshua’s waist.

“…Urgh! This is to motivate the kid!” Joshua grumbled.

“I’ll be in charge of his education, so why don’t you tend to state affairs, Your Majesty? You must be busy as a bee right now.”

“Cough, cough…” Joshua quietly cleared his throat and turned back to Kireua. “You must be frustrated. You lost, so you must be. Obviously, I don’t know what that feels like. That might sound cocky, but I never had any rivals even when I was a boy like you.

“That is why I stopped getting better at some point,” he quickly continued before Charles’s scowl could return. “If I hadn’t tried to overcome my curse, my skills would have been the same as they were decades ago.”

“…You’re strong even if you don’t try.”

“No matter how strong someone is, they may as well be dead if they don’t improve. That is the biggest difference between you and me.”

“Difference?” Kireua repeated.

“Yes, your drive to become better. You have the will to more than surpass Selim, whatever it takes. I once had someone who made me feel that way.”

The conversation impacted Kireua greatly, especially the part where Joshua told him he had a Selim of his own.

“Watch Selim and continue to cultivate yourself. You’ll catch up with him in no time.” Joshua patted Kireua’s head and then stood up.

Ever since that conversation, Kireua had shed blood, sweat, and tears to improve himself.

* * *

Kireua's eyes widened. The world around him suddenly changed, depositing him in an empty white space except for something black, like a ink blot on a piece of paper, wriggling around on the ground.

“…Coal.”

Kireua got no answer back.

“Coal!”

Coal finally stood up, only half conscious.

-Hmm…?

“Are you okay?” Kireua asked.

- What? Is it mealtime?

Kireua let out a long sigh. Although he knew that he was in his subconscious realm, he couldn’t help his feelings of shame. He should have woken up, but he didn’t–or rather, couldn’t. He had confidently challenged his enemy, but he had suffered a devastating loss and remained unconscious even now.

Kireua recalled his last memory. After returning to the rebel castle on top of the mountain, he had seen Marquess Turtler’s corpse and many others. The demon that had introduced himself as Beelzebub was responsible. Faster than Kireua could react, the demon’s dark energy had blown against Kireua’s face and he had lost consciousness before he could fight back. He didn’t want to use his lack of experience with mental attacks as an excuse.

After all his boasting, Kireua hadn’t even had a chance to swing his sword, much less to demonstrate his decades of effort.

“...Should I just die?” Kireua murmured. Although he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes yet, he instinctively knew that he and Coal had been eaten by the demon with the Evil Sin’s power, stealing control of his body. Maybe it was better to die than to see himself hurting the people dear to him.

“What do you mean, ‘die’?”

Kireua’s eyes widened as the world around him suddenly brightened. Cracks spread all over the white bounds of his subconscious realm until it shattered into a million pieces.

* * *

“…Your Majesty?” Kireua blankly asked. Beyond his subconscious realm he found himself inside of a half-destroyed castle, with the man who Kireua had missed so much standing in front of him.

Joshua chuckled. “Just call me ‘dad’. There’s no one else here other than Cain.”

Kireua trembled like he was having a seizure. Joshua’s voice alone assured Kireua that he wasn’t dreaming. He was back in the real world.

“You’re doing a good job.”

Joshua’s short compliment brought tears to Kireua’s eyes.

“You become a better man than I expected. Keep up the good work.” Joshua stroked Kireua’s head, just like that day when Kireua was still a boy. “It looks like you’re already neck to neck with Selim, so at this rate, you’ll be as good as me someday.”

“Dad…” Kireua choked up.

Joshua smiled.

“Although surpassing me is a different story,” he confidently proclaimed.

1. It’s an expression in Korea. The origin is unclear, but it’s often used for someone whose significant other is much younger than them. ☜

Updated from 𝓁𝑖𝒷𝑟𝘦𝒶𝑑.𝒸𝘰𝘮

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