During the time when Rena was training with Frei, in Ladylake Castle, Valia Kingdom General of Army's office...
Marquis Jaunice was busy dealing the paperwork, his body was stiff, stuck behind the desk for hours. The King had left all these paperwork for him to do while he casually walking around the city, a habit that had been going on since he was young.
Just like the King, he also didn't like dealing with paperwork, but by the curse of the devil, this mountain of paperwork always given to him. His hair that was done perfectly this morning was slightly messy. He stretched out his stiff body and yawned loudly. Just as he did that, a man came inside the room from the balcony.
"Yo, Val, those papers seem to add up compared to yesterday."
"Your Majesty!" Marquis Jaunice stood up right away when he saw the man who just sneaked into his office. "How many times do I need to remind you not to come from the window!"
"How many times do I need to remind you that I'm the King, I can enter my palace from wherever I want." He said stubbornly. He was big and tall and had a muscular built, his battle scars showing on his body.
Marquis Jaunice dropped his head so low, making a heavy sigh. He felt a small prick on his back muscle, the result of standing abruptly while he was trying to stretch himself. He rubbed his back, thinking that he was getting old. Then he looked at the man who was sitting casually on top of the desk and secretly muttered, "Time passed but this guy never changed."
"Ooh, is your back hurt? The Fearsome General Valentine Jaunice needs some exercise, hehe..." He chuckled, rubbing his stubble beard.
"These past years I got stuck behind the desk, I wonder whose fault is this..." Marquis Jaunice threw a blaming look at the man who had similar eye color as his son. The trait was a reminder that the Jaunice family historically tied with the royal family.
"Aww, don't be like that, it's thanks to you that the palace is more organized! You know I'm only good with my swords and you are always good at administrative work." The King slapped Marquis Jaunice's back trying to encourage him.
"Oww! Stop, His Majesty!" Marquis Jaunice's back got worse instead.
"Stop calling me His Majesty as well. There isn't any other person in the room except you and me." The King said.
"I'm afraid I can't do that... You are The King now."
"Stubborn old mule." The King grinned.
"Stubborn old coot." Marquis Jaunice also grinned.
"By the way, here's something good for your old bone." The King pulled a wine bottle, hidden on his mantle. He opened the cork and poured the shimmering red liquid on an empty glass on the table.
Marquis Jaunice frowned. By just a glance, he knew what was that red liquid was.
"Oh, no, not that." He complained. "I'm not drinking that."
Marquis Jaunice had enough drinking potions in his life that he never wanted to see one again. He was secretly happy when his darling son went to the Magic Academy and stopped forcing him drinking his experimental potions. Although potions generally didn't taste good as they had medical property, his son's was special. Jean, as talented as he was, his brewing skill was equal to goblin. Alas, excluding the flavor, his potions had a better effect than other potions. And so, the royal palace's inventories were full of Jean's potions.
"I swear this is nothing like your brat's. Try it." The King shoved the glass that was quarter filled by the red liquid to Marquis Jaunice.
Marquis Jaunice took it with a skeptical look. He observed the content before gulping it in one go. He froze for a few seconds...
"Owwooooooo!!! I lost all my white hair!!!" Marquis Jaunice shouted loud after feeling the effect of the potion. His messy hair became straight stiff, standing upward like Super Saiyan's. "And what is this refine flavor?!! Fruity, fresh, and mildly sweet! This is the best red potion I've ever drink in my life! It's truly magical!"
Marquis Jaunice grabbed the King's shoulders and shaking it, he had forgotten that the man in front of him was The King. Right now, he was just his childhood friend. "Hey, Beornoth, who made this potion?!"
The man with flaring red hair grinned wide, watching the reaction of Marquis Valentine Jaunice. And then his loud laughter filling up the room. "Hahahahaha! It's been a long time since I didn't see your hair standing straight like that! I knew you would be like this! This amazing potion also made me feel young again!"
"Who made this potion?!" Marquis Jaunice repeated. "You must summon the brewer and make him work in the palace!"
"Hmm... The brewer is Jean." King Beornoth said, still grinning mischievously.
"Huh...?" Marquis Jaunice made a silly expression, as if someone just told him a bird's poop fell on his head. "My Jean...?"
"No, not your Jean. It's another Jean." King Beornoth said, he closed the wine bottle and put it back on his waist pocket.
"Ah... I thought so." Marquis Jaunice made a relieved sigh. "Although I'm sad to acknowledge that it isn't my Jean, there is no way he can make a refined flavor like this. Who is this Jean you speak of?"
"I don't know either. I've never met him. I got this from his pupil named Serena."
"Huh...?" Marquis Jaunice made a silly expression again, as if someone just told him the same bird pooped on his head twice.
And right at that moment, the palace guard knocked onthe office door.
"Marquis Jaunice, your son, Jean, wants to visit you."
Marquis Jaunice still had that confused look on his face. "Eh, huh... Ah! Yes! Let him in!"
The guard opened the door and soon, the gracefully elegant young man strode inside the room, wearing his formal magician robe, a golden ring was used to tie his long silky hair.
"Speak of the devil!" Marquis Jaunice exclaimed.
Jean's steps were halted as he saw his father's hair and the other man who was in the room, then he knelt. "Your Majesty."
"Yeah, yeah. You may stand." King Beornoth waved casually, as if he was sick with all the formality.
Jean stood up after getting permission from the King and he lightly bowed to his father.
"Jean, what brings you here? Is, is it possible that you miss me?" Marquis Jaunice couldn't hide the happy tone in his voice. His strong fatherly love overwhelmed his confusion, and the moment he saw Jean walked into the room, spring flowers grew in his heart.
Jean's face twitched, but he held his emotion in front of King Beornoth. His eyes moved to the King for a second before speaking to Marquis Jaunice, "Father, did any of the Three come here?"
Marquis Jaunice understood who Jean referred to. The three who had indomitable power and influence across this continent. He didn't inform Jean about Him coming even though he knew Jean would be interested, particularly because it would just be a bad news for his son. He knew Jean didn't like him, no, Jean hated him.
"Yeah... Duke Andorra came here a few days ago to watch The Silver Blade Tournament..." Marquis Jaunice said rather awkwardly. He watched Jean's expression changed into a serious one, not a disdainful look he showed when he heard that name brought up.
Jean couldn't tell his father that Duke Andorra was interfering the tournament's contestants because he would need to explain where he got that information. Meant, he must reveal about Serena's magic power and Neel's existence.
"Then father, I'll go watch the tournament as well tomorrow," Jean replied. This was the only way for him to monitor 'that man', making sure he didn't attempt anything weird in the match.
"Oya, are you interested with the match now, Beanie?" King Beornoth said. "Curious who is going to take you home?"
Jean's face twitched again, annoyed. But this man who loved to taunt him more than anyone was The King. He even made this silly bet as soon as he heard about Jean's going to Ardia.
"Well, if thing's going smooth, that merchant friend of yours has a good chance to win the bet. The horse he brought is excellent, he defeated Zee in the last match." King Beornoth said. "How about you visited Zee after this? She was heartbroken that she failed to bring you home."
"........As you command, Your Majesty," Jean said with a dry flat tone. He was obviously reluctant, and he didn't bother to hide it. But since the King wanted him to visit that barbaric girl, he would.
"No, no, no, please don't take it as a King's will, this is merely a humble thought from this old man."
"Then I won't," Jean curtly replied. Zee was his childhood friend, more like, a forced childhood friend. Since Eleonore often came to chase Clovis, she always brought her cousin with her.
"Hahahahahaha," King Beornoth laughed, holding his stomach. He couldn't help teasing Jean because he was so painfully honest. "I wonder what she sees in you."
"I wonder that as well," Jean said without any courtesy. Since the King didn't want to be addressed as the King, he didn't bother his manner anymore.
After his laughter subdued, King Beornoth stood up from the table he sat on. He walked toward the balcony and said, "Well, this old man will go now. I have a match with my dear daughter this evening. She'll keep pestering me if I don't come."
"Your Majesty, the door is in the opposite direction!" Marquis Jaunice shouted. But King Beornoth had jumped down the balcony and gone from their sight.
King Beornoth climbed the tree in the palace's garden, carefully avoiding his retainers. He had been doing this game of hide and seek for years as his way to cope boredom in this peaceful time.
He was sitting on the big tree branch, leaning his back against the tree.
"Ahh, how regrettable, this peaceful time is going to end soon." He gazed up, looking at the golden afternoon light passing through the leaves.
"Although as Beornoth, I'm happy the brat is alive, I'm not particularly happy as a king." King Beornoth made an ironic smile. "As a king, I have obligation to protect this kingdom. Your son is gathering his pawns to challenge the dragon. I'm afraid this time the dragon's fire will burn this continent."
From the giant tree, King Beornoth looked to the far south.
"What will you do if you were me, Leon?" He said, as the wind coming in his direction, blowing his scarlet hair.
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