The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin (Novel) Chapter 35 - 36

C35 - 36

The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 35

Chapter 35: Royal Academy (3)

92%.

It was an inconceivable number he had never seen or heard of in his life.

At this rate, it wasn’t so much a divine selection, but as if a deity from the divine realm had directly descended into a human body.

I dare say that since the attribute examination began, no human has ever possessed such high numbers as this student.

“Is this magic circle broken?”

“Impossible, it worked just fine until recently…”

The two instructors double and triple-checked the numbers written on the parchment.

It remained unbelievable, even after checking it a thousand times.

“Are we done?”

Sian calmly stepped down from the magic circle and checked his parchment.

His gaze was indifferent, not even a flicker in his brow at the 92% figure, and he left the room without a reaction.

The two instructors could only stare in bewildered silence.

“A 92% attribute score and an S-rank physique… At least he’s got some conscience with a 1-star magic rank.”

But even that seemed meaningless.

Magic rank was something that was expected to improve over time.

“Certainly it’s a historic number without precedent…”

Rodin, one of the instructors, was nonetheless feeling a bit regretful.

“Why did it have to be the darkness attribute… It’s a shame when you think of it the other way around.”

Darkness attribute.

Though a rare attribute, in this land, it was not well-received.

Its scarcity was one thing, but fundamentally, the Ushif Empire revered light.

In a nation that favored light, the opposite attribute of darkness wasn’t welcomed.

Not only in neighboring countries but in other regions as well, this had led to a near complete lack of research in darkness-based magic.

In other words, it was an attribute with good looks but no substance.

“Exactly. With a maximum of 92%, that leaves only 8% for other attributes. Magic development doesn’t seem promising for him.”

“You never know. With that level of compatibility, if he has any genius, he could create new magic.”

“Big spells of darkness, huh… I honestly can’t imagine. At best, maybe spells for hiding or illusions… How can an attribute so scorned be developed?”

Silica shook her head in disbelief.

Rodin, on the other hand, appeared deep in thought, his face imbued with significance.

“Rodin, do you have any ideas?”

“Not really. It’s just… there’s an organization I think might welcome a student like Sian.”

“Which one?”

Rodin hesitated for a moment before scratching his head and speaking.

“The Mist…”

“…”

“If you say his magic might be limited to stealth and illusions… well, such specialties might not be unwelcome among assassins.”

Her gaze at Rodin held what appeared to be genuine contempt.

* * *

92%?

In his previous life, it seemed like it was in the 80% range; the number must have increased since then.

Well, considering how much mana he’s used hunting demonic beasts, it would be strange if it didn’t increase.

Naturally, the attribute scores identified now didn’t stay the same for life.

Like any strength, it would grow with use and dull with neglect,

and attributes were the same—they could increase or decrease depending on how mana was used and applied.

People varied, but a typical change was around 10%.

Of course, there were cases of greater changes.

In his past life, he had received considerable attention because of this outrageously high number.

Although he was mostly taunted with claims of being as incapable as his attribute…

Ah, he didn’t feel like thinking about the past anymore.

Back then, he just let it go, but this time, it didn’t seem like it would pass so easily.

Perhaps they’d make an example out of someone, plunging them into the abyss of darkness, to show them despair and pain…

Well, that would undoubtedly spell the end of his quiet and peaceful academy life.

As he drank the muscle enhancement potion he had brought from the dormitory, he tried to shake the unsettling feelings.

Hmm, this is actually quite good?

Sweet and slightly bitter, it almost reminded him of troll’s blood.

Not that the effectiveness could compare, but as far as reminding him of the past…

“…!”

Turning a corner, he came face-to-face with a familiar figure.

“Si, Si…”

Eyes and mouth trembling as if struck with an acute disease.

Looking as though he had seen a ghost, it was Kranz.

You little… perfect timing.

“Know this guy, Kranz?”

Beside him stood a chubby blond kid, so fat it looked as if his head was placed directly atop his chest.

Oh, I remember you too.

The son of the Penéron Marquess of Garam Kingdom, Popper Penéron.

Along with Kranz, he was one of the ones who made his early academy life a complete mess.

“Uh, well, you see…”

Despite the pig-like boy’s question, Kranz continued to stammer away. Oh, can’t speak all of a sudden, can you?

Have you forgotten your dear brother’s name already?

Surely, our Kranz, who complained to our mother wishing I’d vanish from this earth, couldn’t have forgotten his brother!

“Tha, That’s my brother! Sian Vert, he came to the academy with me this year! You made it safely, didn’t you, Sian?!”

Look at this shameless guy.

Still trying to play it cool in front of his friend?

Let’s just watch silently and see how long he can hold out.

“Ah, you’re the brother he used like a slave while living at the mansion?”

“…!”

Whatever spirit Kranz had managed to recover with his act abruptly drained from his face.

Unable to look at me, his eyes wandered in panic.

Well, yeah, it’s true.

He had treated me like a slave up until the swordsmanship duel.

Since I’m a merciful person, I could easily overlook such minor slips of the tongue.

“Moreover, he said you’re a bastard child whose mother is unknown, right? Wow! Just like he said, you do look quite ill-bred!”

– Thud

A heavy sound echoed as if something solid had dropped.

Presumably, that would be the sound of Kranz’s heart sinking.

“Ah, ah no, what I meant was…!”

I didn’t wait to hear his excuse and immediately grabbed the back of his head.

His hair was so damp with sweat, but that didn’t mean I was going to let go.

After all, it seemed a beast like him only learns after a beating, so a re-education seemed in order.

After momentarily lowering my head, I raised it again with a bright smile.

“Shall we talk for a moment, Kranz?”

* * *

“Attribute score 92%?”

As the white-haired old man read the report and stroked his chin, he muttered.

“Yes. However, unfortunately, the primary attribute in question is darkness…”

“No real value to it then.”

The old man continued to scrutinize the report of Sian Vert with refined gaze.

“It’s true that it’s an unprecedented figure. Even that ‘Child of God’, Ellis Vert, was at 81%, if I recall correctly?”

“Yes. At the time of graduation, it had risen to 88% in the water attribute.”

“Interesting. The figure that we praised as an extraordinary talent was surpassed by a newcomer, something Ellis herself could not achieve.”

The dean’s face bore a smile of amusement that was rare for him to show.

Noting the unusual situation, Silica felt out of place.

She was in the dean’s office on the highest floor of the academy’s main building, there to report on the day’s attribute tests.

It made sense that the old man engrossed in the report was indeed the person in charge of this room.

Condor Quizzel, the dean of the Royal Academy, the head of the illustrious Quizzel family of the Ushif Empire, father to the emperor’s first empress, Diana Quizzel—in other words, the emperor’s former father-in-law.

Furthermore, he was the only one amongst the current members of the academy to have reached the 9-star level.

“Do you know, that this lad Sian has been assigned to the Royal Dormitory?”

“Yes, I’ve heard from other instructors.”

“What do you think allowed someone who is not a part of the imperial family to get assigned there?”

Silica broke out into a cold sweat as the quiz took an unexpected turn.

The answer seemed obvious.

A common noble, not of the imperial bloodline, getting assigned to the Royal Dormitory?

Without overthinking, it indicated someone had used their influence—and whoever approved it must hold power at least equal to the dean.

That person could only be Dean Condor.

In other words, Dean Condor must have been persuaded by someone, and hence Sian Vert was assigned to the Royal Dormitory.

“…Perhaps the Duke Vert had something to do with this?”

“Ha, that’s not it. How upstanding is the Duke of Vert? He is not one to seek personal favors for his child.”

“Then who could it be…?”

“The Emperor, His Majesty Dionne…”

Silica thought she must be misunderstanding her own ears.

“The emperor Dionne, His Majesty?”

Without a word, Condor simply lifted an eyebrow in confirmation.

“Why would the emperor take interest in that child?”

“What is your current magic rank, my dear?”

Suddenly, Condor inquired about her magic rank.

“7-star…”

A mundane rank among the academy’s instructors.

“A 7-star can wipe out an entire village with a single lethal spell. So what would you do if a dragon appeared before you now?”

“A dr, dragon?”

What would one do if faced with an heir of divine blood lineage?

Though she didn’t see why he was asking this, Silica decided to answer honestly.

“I would fight it with all my might… Well, I would try to escape, but I believe I’d soon be begging the gods for mercy.”

“Quite honest of you. If a 7-star like you says that, then what about the others? Most will likely accept their death and give up on life. But…”

Condor’s eyes sharpened for a moment.

“That boy came back alive. From a dragon, no less…”

“…?”

It wasn’t just her ears in doubt anymore, but her reality as to whether she was dreaming.

“Unbelievable, isn’t it? His Majesty told me so himself. The boy was kidnapped by a Devil Dragon and then fell into a river, missing for two days before being found unharmed…”

“I heard he lived on the front lines, but to think something like that happened…”

Condor continued to speak.

“It seems His Majesty was deeply impressed by the boy’s act of safely evacuating Princess Arin from the beasts during their tour. And then seeing him return alive from the dragon… there’s not much more to say. Who knows, maybe we’ll hear wedding bells in a few years.”

His joke didn’t sound so far-fetched, considering the emperor’s involvement, it could be a real possibility.

Having understood the situation, Silica asked with mixed feelings.

“…Was he really chosen by the gods?”

Without much concern, Condor replied.

“No need to overthink it. All we have to do is watch. Even with a seemingly useless attribute, who can say? He might reach a unique pinnacle that no one else can…”

With a satisfied smile, Condor looked at Sian’s report as if watching a flower bloom.

(To be continued)

-------------------------

The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 36

Chapter 36: The Royal Academy (4)

After concluding her meeting with the dean, Silica exited the main building and headed toward her research lab located in the annex.

“Ah, right! How could I forget to check on this?”

It suddenly occurred to her that she might have left something behind, so she turned around and re-entered the main building, making her way to the research data room accessible only to staff members.

“It should be around here somewhere…”

As they say, when you’re looking for something, it becomes invisible. Today, for whatever reason, the location eluded her.

Fumbling through books to guess at its position, she soon stopped at a particular spot.

“…?”

A space uniquely vacant amidst the densely-packed bookshelves.

Instead of the something that should certainly have been there, only a cloud of dust fluttered through the air.

“Looking for this?”

An unexpected voice sounded from behind her.

Silica quickly turned her head.

“Uh, well… you’re Sian, the student, right?”

The owner of the voice was Sian Vert, whom she had seen engaged in a lengthy discussion with the dean just a while ago.

In his hand was a red hardcover book.

“This is a restricted area for students. How did you get in here? These materials are all critical research documents… You can’t just touch them recklessly…”

Sian simply smiled enigmatically in silence.

“Could you… give it back to me? It’s critical for the research work I have to do today…”

“Ah, yes, of course. I’ll return it to you, naturally.”

Sian extended the book to her without any hesitance.

“Thank you, student Sian…”

As she touched it, her eyes flared with surprise at the thin texture she felt.

What she was holding was not the thick, red hardcover but a thin piece of black paper.

“Wasn’t this what you were searching for, Professor Silica? Or should I say… Lady Silica?”

“…”

The silence that followed churned like a stormy sea at rest.

Soon, the warm look that had been in her eyes disappeared, replaced by a gaze filled with bloodthirstiness.

“What are you?”

* * *

Silica Nigrity.

An academic instructor at the Royal Academy.

With a bright personality and outstanding teaching skills, she was one of the educators widely recognized by students and instructors alike within the academy.

However, this was merely a disguise.

Should her true identity ever become known to the world, the Royal Academy might very well be shut down the next day.

Who could possibly predict?

At an academy where the titled nobility of the continent gather, that the leader of an assassin organization, hunting nobles, would be operating as an instructor…

Her formerly unassuming self had vanished without a trace.

Now, before me, stood not a teacher or a colleague, but an assassin.

“Claiming to have seen the secret letter, your evidence seems quite lacking. How much do you really know?”

The black paper hidden within the hardcover book was a type of clandestine message used by the organization to exchange information secretly.

The other members within the academy would gather the information they had collected from various territories and hide it here for her, the leader, to collect.

Of course, written in code, it would not be a problem should others see it.

But even if the contents of the letter were understood, I had just inadvertently revealed an undeniable truth with my own mouth—that I know of Silica ‘the instructor’ and Silica ‘the member’… as well as Silica ‘the leader’.

“I won’t meander with my words. Please judge based on what you see.”

Actions speak louder than words. To answer her question, I released the energy of the mist that I had sealed away.

“…!”

The black mist that seeped out from between the folds of my clothes began to spread, gradually filling the entire research room.

The change in Silica’s expression was fleeting,

as her quick hands grabbed hold of my collar.

The spreading mist dissipated in an instant.

“That’s enough. We can’t have it spreading any further. The academy is home to many sensitive individuals.”

Dutifully re-buttoning my clothes, she then offered a radiant smile.

“Shall we move to another location?”

* * *

In Silica’s private research lab located in the annex of the academy.

Amongst various magical tools, swords, and tomes were numerous traces of research, but they were all mere facades.

The art of disguise was truly unparalleled.

Silica was cornered, brewing tea for me.

“You seem calmer than expected?”

“Only pretending. There’s no point in showing how shocked I feel.”

“You truly are different on the inside than you appear on the outside.”

“Take it as a compliment.”

With a smile, she passed me a cup of tea.

The deep, ruddy color seemed no different from ordinary black tea, but something about it seemed off.

“Why the poison?”

“Don’t worry, it’s not a lethal toxin. At most, it’ll make your internal organs leak a bit.”

Her unabashed boldness elicited an involuntary exclamation from me.

I knew she was capable, but this was truly a remarkable level of gall.

“Well then, since it seems unlikely you’ll drink the tea, shall we begin our discussion?”

With her arms resting on the desk, Silica faced me with a beaming smile.

“Need we even speak? Haven’t I already shown you who I am through my actions?”

“Ha-ha. I had my suspicions, but you’re quite audacious. You want to say, ‘I am also a Mist, right here in front of me,’ do you?”

“Do I need to prove it further?”

She suddenly let out a raucous laugh.

“That sort of black mist can be easily created with magic. Besides, we both participated in the attribute tests today, right? With a darkness attribute of 92%… you could turn a bright day into night.”

“Didn’t you see my magic grade? It’s only 1-star.”

“Don’t underestimate a teacher at the academy. Did you think I wouldn’t know that the specialty of the darkness attribute is concealment?”

Indeed, she’s not one to be easily taken in.

I took a sip of the tea she had offered without hesitation.

“…!”

“It seems the tea leaves were steeped a bit too long. Please make it lighter next time.”

To someone like me who has fed on the blood of demonic beasts, this level of poison is like slightly bitter water.

She maintained her poker face to the end.

“The empire has gotten quite noisy while I was on the front for a year. Wherever I went, the guards kept pestering me, asking if I needed escorts, it was quite a hassle.”

“Considering that, it looks like you haven’t hired any. I’ve heard you only had one accompanying knight, right?”

“To be precise, even he was merely a coachman.”

Though now a different story.

“Hmm, that’s a lot of confidence, isn’t it? There’s a coachman, but no knight… Does it mean that you needed no protection?”

“There was no reason to hold a shield when spears weren’t pointed at me.”

I replied with an easy smile.

At first glance, our exchange might have resembled a cordial conversation filled with laughter, but it was nothing more than a deceptive charade.

I could see it.

The savage smile that concealed the barbed-wire-like caution.

Now was the time to provoke her further.

“The Mist has really begun to operate again, haven’t they?”

“What operation~?”

Silica feigned ignorance.

“The purification work. There hasn’t been a successor yet, has there?”

Between the moments of zero and 0.2 seconds, her face registered two reactions.

Her brow pinched at the mention of purification work,

her eyes fluttered at the word successor.

These were moments imperceptible to the ordinary eye, but not to mine.

“….”

Had I struck a nerve a bit too hard?

The barbed wire of caution that had been intact now gave way, revealing the sharp lethal intent that had been hiding.

Moreover, an ominous aura of mana began to rise from her body.

“Do you intend to kill me here in the academy? You said there are many sensitive people around, did you not?”

“Do you feel the spears pointed at you now?”

“I see no reason to lift a shield, even so.”

If spears are aimed at me, it’s simple—I’ll just have to take up a spear in response.

Two auras of killing intent blossomed within the small cubic space of a mere ten pyeong.

It didn’t take long for these forces to clash head-on.

-Thump

The desk overturned, and her concealed black dagger flew towards me.

-Clang!

With a swift motion, I drew the Ceyram I’d carried inside my cloak and countered her attack.

Still bearing a deadly smile, Silica spoke.

“May I ask… what you meant by ‘purification work?’”

Strike first, ask later—is that it?

“The order seems a bit off, doesn’t it?”

Purification work.

Although it’s known as the continent’s preeminent assassination group, within Mist, they don’t refer to their activities as assassinations.

They consider it merely a purification process—polishing away the dirty and despicable aspects of human society to create something more affluent.

It certainly is not a deed that transcends the ethical boundaries of human behavior…

…or so they say, but really, it’s just a euphemism.

Apart from religious zealots, who would call killing by such a grandiose term as ‘purification work?’ It seems even the members cringe at the expression, freely using the word assassination when they’re among themselves.

I relayed everything I just explained to her.

Silica burst into laughter as if she’d gone mad, then eased her sword.

“You really are something else. You don’t exist at all in my memory, yet I can feel His power and traces of our organization in you.”

“It’s fortunate that you’ve recognized me now.”

I relaxed and lowered my sword, thinking the storm had passed.

“That means I have all the more reason to kill you…”

“…?”

I quickly raised my sword again.

Her newfound kinetic energy, filled with murderous intent, came at me once more.

-Clang! Clang! Clang!

These blows were more forceful than before.

“Is this proof still insufficient?”

“No, it’s enough! You are indeed a child whose traces I can feel…”

Amidst a smile of deadly intent, black mist began to rise from between the folds of her clothes.

“But I don’t know you. A member of Mist I don’t know isn’t possible. Therefore, you’re an existence that shouldn’t be.”

Well, I seem to have been too complacent.

Our leader is more stubborn than I thought.

“Wouldn’t it be wiser to reconsider? If you make a mistake, you could end your life as an instructor.”

“Why don’t you worry about yourself? You’re in a situation where your life could end now.”

She wasn’t the type to settle for shaky negotiations.

To be honest, my body is tingling with anticipation.

After such a long time, I felt the tingling excitement of meeting a worthy opponent’s murderous intent.

Not the mediocre demonic beasts or frail humans, but the true killing intent of an assassin.

With such a perfect killing intent before me, how could my body not respond?

However, I am not a fool who would abandon future plans for immediate desires.

“Do we not yet have a second question to resolve?”

“Second question?”

Silica’s pupils wavered once again.

The second word to which she had previously reacted following ‘purification work.’

“Are you trying to scrape by with even a second more to live, or trying to save time?”

“If you’re worried, I’ll clarify: Right now, only the two of us know I’m here with you. Needless to say, there won’t be anyone coming to my rescue.”

“I’ll also clarify: No matter what you say here, you won’t leave alive. Even if you were the successor…!”

“I am the successor.”

“…?”

Silica’s lips froze in a straight line.

“Would you even kill the successor?”

As the leader of a group dedicated to Aer, she couldn’t possibly ignore that word, ‘successor.’

Whether my words were true or false, the mere mention of ‘successor’ meant she could not kill me in this place.

“Do you think I’ll believe that?”

“Why not verify it for yourself?”

I showed her the black jewel set in the hilt of my Ceyram.

The power of the magic sword, and the energy of Aer within the magic gem.

A leader of Mist couldn’t possibly fail to recognize it.

Upon seeing the gemstone, Silica’s face took on a grave expression.

I smiled and said,

“Take me to the hideout.”

(To be continued)

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