Chapter 5 - Noblesse Oblige

"Hurry up, Yuno!" A stern voice echoed through the air. "We must hurry, lest we'll be late!"

"Aww, come now. There's no need to rush, Klaus." A second, gentler voice added. "It's his first time exploring the capital, after all, there's nothing wrong with a little sightseeing."

Yuno's eyes drifted, turning away from the large expanse of the town that captured his attention. His gaze turned, looking ahead of him to where his two squadmates and seniors were walking at a deliberate pace where his gait was far more reserved, choosing to take in the scenery as he walked.

The holder of the four-leaf clover grimoire paid little attention to their idly bickering, his mind wrapped on more important affairs as he kept up to pace with them.

As the trio was making their way through the capital they attracted a fair bit of attention as they were making their way towards the Magic Knight Headquarters. Due in part to their brigade uniform, that of the Golden Dawn, being instantly recognizable.

For Klaus, everything about him screamed formal, matching his stiff and formal nature. From his immaculate attire, one that perfectly suited his status as a noble with his double-breasted, long-sleeved shirt with a high collar, casual light-colored pants, and a pair of high boots to complement his style, to his slender build and feature giving him a sharp impression. Such as his slanted light fuchsia eyes, his long, thin, and pointed nose, and dark glasses. It even extended to his hair, with light blue colored hair cut short and pushed to the sides and back while also having an angular fringe to his left-hand side.

Mimosa stood in almost complete contrast to her traditional partner with a more loose and comfortable attire. As a noblewoman and a Magic Knight, she was dressed befitting her station with a puffy cream-colored sweater with long sleeves, white puffy short pants, and a brown corset much like Noelle's. Long, thigh-high boots cover legs and upwards, and much like the rest of her attire, it had frilly edges below the collars. Wide and innocent yellow eyes peered out to the world, encompassing all in her sight with a warm gaze. Long wavy vermilion hair flowed freely with short bangs covering her forehead.

Lastly, there was Yuno. When compared to the others, his attire was plainer and casual even with his brigade's robe and cape. Still, even with his plain pitch-black shirt with a high collar and long sleeves, casual light brown pants, and boots, his slender build gave him an air of mystique and calmness. Especially with his focused, amber eyes, soft messy black hair, and cool countenance that made his demeanor stand out.

"That is still no excuse." Klaus chided, chopping the air. "As Magic Knights, it would behoove us to be anything but punctual!"

"If that's the case, then why did we come half-an-hour in advance?" Mimosa commented, with a finger pressed cutely against her cheek. "You're too tense all the time, Klaus."

"And you can be a bit too free-spirited, Mimosa." He muttered, eyeing his rather ditzy squadmate.

The plant mage stuck her tongue, showing what she thought while the bespectacled huffed exasperatingly as he pushed up his glasses in an attempt to one-up her. Yuno simply watched on, taking in his senior's antics as they pushed each others buttons.

This went on for several more minutes as they got closer to their destination. During this, a thought occurred to him.

"I'm assuming Asta and his squad, the Black Bulls, will be meeting us there as well in order to give our report?" Said Yuno, speaking for the first time.

"Indeed." The metal mage confirmed, pushing up his glasses. "It's been a week now, so they should've healed up in no time! It shall be good to see Asta and the others once more and in good health."

"Asta…" Yuno heard the Vermillion royal mutter demurely, a healthy pink hue coloring her cheeks.

Yuno glanced at the two Magic Knights as they were briefly lost in their own little world, watching it all with a stoic countenance. Internally, he was far more amused.

'One meeting and already they can't get their minds off of you it seems, Asta.' He thought, the faintest of smiles coming to his lips as he thought about his brother and rival. One way or another, he'd always had a way of making people himself unforgettable.

As the trio reached the Magic Knight Headquarters they found a man standing outside the doorway, seemingly waiting for them. The stranger's eyes lit up in recognition, his lone arm raised high to wave at them, welcoming them, as he walked forward to greet the Golden Dawn members.

Yuno squinted his eyes, trying to put a name to his face but nothing matched. He'd never seen the one-armed man before but the same couldn't be said for his squadmates.

Mimosa gasped cutely, her eyes sparkling with delight as she hopped and skipped ahead with her arms wide open to greet the presumed noble.

"Uncle Shirou!"


Shirou mirrored the young royal, spreading himself open his lone arm up and greeting the plant mage with easy cheer and enthusiasm as he strode forward. It was also here that Yuno noticed that he walked with a slight limp in his step, not that it hindered the man in any significant way as the two embraced. The two twirled with their arms gently wrapped around one another, almost like they were dancing at a ball, giggling all the while.

"How are you doing, my precious flower princess?"

"I'm doing great, Uncle!"

"That's amazing to hear!"

Stepping back, his hand reached out, giving her a warm head rub as Mimosa leaned into the gentle touch.

The redhead's amber eyes flickered upwards, catching the remaining two Golden Dawn members walking forward.

"Klaus, it's good to see you again. How are your parents doing? I do hope they're doing well for themselves."

"Father and Mother are doing very well for themselves, and thank you for asking, sir!" Klaus formally answered, even giving him a salute for good measure.

Shirou smiled. Then, his eyes found themselves on the final member of the trio.

"Sir, allow me to introduce you to our squadmate and newest member of the Golden Dawn, —"

"— Yuno, I believe." Shirou finished, surprising both Klaus and Mimosa.

Yuno's eyes widened before narrowing.

'How does he know…?'

"Asta spoke quite a bit about you. That, and I've heard some great things about you from William as well. It's an honor to finally meet you, Yuno. A young man from Forsaken Realm, a peasant, yet one that has been blessed with a four-leaf clover."

Again, the noble's words surprised him. By the sound of it, he and their Captain, William Vangeance, knew each other and were on good terms if the tone in his voice was anything to go by.

Shirou held out his arm to him, greeting him with a friendly and inviting smile. One that instantly reminded the wind mage of his Captain's own ever-present and amiable smile.

Responding in kind, Yuno found himself silently surprised by the firmness and strength in the redhead's grip. Even as tightly reined as it was, he could tell that the callous hand that he held could've turned his into paste if given a reason too. A warrior's hand, he realized.

'This man… he's strong!'

There was no doubt about it. A fact that made him all the more curious as to who the seemingly innocuous noble that was standing in front of him truly was.

However, no matter how kind this stranger appeared, he'd met enough nobles to know that showing weakness was an ill-gone action. Burying whatever curiosity and confusion he might've had beneath his stoicism, he met the man with hardened eyes and a straight back, uncowed. His own amber eyes stared challengingly against the noble's own, firm and defiant.

Shirou simply smiled, taking in the young Magic Knight's silent reaction, amused more than anything else.

A brief moment of solidary passed as the two shook hands, ending just as quietly.

"You know Asta, Uncle?" Mimosa asked, voicing the same question Yuno was also wondering.

"Indeed." He smiled courteously.

"We met yesterday. He even stayed the night. In fact, he and Noelle were supposed to be here with me."

He paused here, taking a moment to look around.

"Though it does appear that they might've gotten lost along the way."

"That sounds about right." Yuno chimed in. "The shrimp's always been horrible when it comes to direction."

Shirou chuckled. "I can all too easily imagine that."

The group wouldn't have to wait long for the sound of running footsteps could be heard. Ones that grew louder by the seconds and from the corner of the street, Asta and Noelle appeared.

"Ah-ha! See, I told you I knew where I was going!" Asta crowed. "And you said we were lost."

"We were lost, you buffoon! If it weren't for you, we wouldn't have been lost in the first place!" Noelle hotly rebuked.

It wouldn't take long before both groups noticed each other, the approaching Black Bulls speedily rejoined them, the faint bickerings between the peasant and the royal lingered still. Yet, even those faded as the infectious cheer that Mimosa and Shirou projected quickly led them to chat about their latest experiences since last they'd met.

"Pardon my inquiry, but will you be accompanying us, Lord Silva?" Yuno voiced aloud, finding the man sticking with them.

Yuno understood the difference in social ranks, yet he still found the thought of a royal intruding upon official Magic Knight business to be intrusive. The fact that he was family to two of their members aside, the man had little reason to remain with them, seeing as their organization wasn't beholden to nobilities' whims. After all, missions often held sensitive information not disclosable to civilians.

It was a polite question to ask, yet, it drew the immediate attention of everyone. Most noticeably Noelle, who gave him an irked look for some reason.

He half expected for the silver-haired royal to come to his defense. However, he wasn't expecting the fervent disagreement he received from his childhood friend.

"Hey now, Yuno! Don't diss Mr. Shirou! Don't you know who he is?"

Caught off guard as he was, he still couldn't help it, but to answer in a manner he fully knew would nag Asta.

"A redheaded royal, and father to your partner and uncle to one of mine?"

"Well, yea, but that's not all."

Here, Asta gained a smug look.

"Not only is he an awesome person but Mr. Shirou is best friends with the Magic Emperor! Not only that, he's super strong and awesome where he's known as the man that rivals the Magic Emperor!" He revealed, gushing excitedly.

"Now, now Asta, no need to yell it out." Shirou chuckled, patting the ashen-haired teen's shoulder to calm him down. A soft blush colored his cheek as he was sheepishly happy by the praise given by the teen.

Upon hearing this, Yuno was taken aback, his slim eyes widened as they found themselves trailing back to the man in question.

Learning that one-armed man was in actuality the Silva patriarch, Noelle's father and Mimosa's uncle, came as a pleasant but acceptable surprise to the four-clover mage. To hear that the amiable man in front of him was considered the Magic Emperor's rival, a man well recognized as the strongest in all the kingdom, was nothing short of astounding.

After the initial shock came curiosity and skepticism. Curiosity at the fact that he'd never heard of the man and his reputation before, until now. And skepticism at such a bold claim when it came to the man in front of him. Especially considering his conditions, which brought forth a wave of questions.

Yuno wondered for a moment, in the back recesses of his mind, if perhaps, the title belonged to him once upon a time when Shirou was still whole. A lingering piece of the past. That would make the most sense. Or perhaps, the reputation was merely a piece of exaggeration.

However, taking in the faces and demeanor of everyone around, including Asta, he concluded that wasn't quite the case. Furthermore, his instincts told him that this man was indeed the real deal. He couldn't put it into words but the way the Silva patriarch held himself as well as the mysterious and unmistakable aura that surrounded him proved that there was more to the amiable man than simply meets the eye. The wind mage couldn't underestimate him. The foreign royal was strong, no matter his crippled state.

Yuno found his eyes quietly drawn to him, watching the man from his vision. Where the autumn-haired man had his curiosity, now, he had his attention.

While the group was preoccupied, someone stepped out of the building and greeted the awaiting Magic Knights, surprising all but one of them with his presence. That man was none other than the Magic Emperor himself, Julius Novachono.

Despite already meeting the man, Asta's reaction was as over the top as always. He greeted his idol with boundless reverence and giddiness, bowing at the waist with his hand held out for a handshake and at what an honor it was to meet him again. For Yuno, his reaction was more reserved but not even he couldn't hold back his surprise and awe at meeting the current Magic Emperor face to face. Noelle, Mimosa, and Klaus were far more formal, befitting their station as they kneels with a hand gently clasped over their heart. As for Shirou, the longtime friends' greetings were as casual as they could be. Another mark to show the ease and friendship between the Silva patriarch and the Magic Emperor.

From there, Julius would lead them into the headquarters where they gave their report.

Following that, he invited both the Golden Dawn and Black Bulls to accompany him to a lone tower to hear their personal account regarding the dungeon mission.

Julius certainly lived up to his reputation of being a peerless magic fanatic as he quickly inquired about Yuno's new spell and wished to see it in person. He was immediately saddened upon learning that Yuno couldn't use it freely but he bounced back when Asta showed off his second Anti-Magic sword. In addition to that, he continued with a short explanation of the sword's unique properties, drawing surprise from the Golden Dawn and clear wonderment from the Magic Emperor. The short teen took particularly smug satisfaction over his rival as he one-upped him in front of their idol, not that Yuno paid it any heed.

Before they left, both Asta and Yuno had one question they wished to ask of the Magic Emperor. One that they've held within them for some time now. And that question was; how does one get to be the Magic Emperor?

The answer they received was both surprising but expected.


As detailed by the Magic Emperor himself, one could not protect the people with pride alone. Intention means little without achievements to back them up. As Julius made clear, trust can only come after one built up enough of a reputation and proved themselves worthy of earning said trust. The people of the Clover Kingdom, be they nobility, commoners, and peasants alike expect one thing from the Magic Emperor and that was results. Achievements and glory that marks them as the strongest. For that was what it meant to be the one recognized as the Magic Emperor meant. To be the strongest amongst the kingdom and have the power to prove it. For that is the duty of the Magic Emperor, to ward off any that would seek to harm the kingdom and its people. One who was unable to do that had no right to stand at the top.

For both Asta and Yuno, upon hearing this, their goal only became clearer.

The road ahead of them would be treacherous and difficult but they already knew that. But now, their objective became clear. Continue on this path and rack up enough achievements and results until they prove themselves as worthy. Until there was no choice but for others to recognize that they are strong enough to be considered worthy.

After that, Julius invited all of them to join in to partake in the Distinguish Valor Ceremony. A sneak peek of what they would see and experience in the future as they climb through the ranks.

With such a grandiose name, the two countryside teens had their own thoughts and ideas for how it would go down. Contrary to their belief, the reception was far more straightforward than they'd imagined as the Magic Emperor called upon the names of the distinguished Magic Knights and awarded them with stars and their new rank. He also gave each a small speech, highlighting their strength while also illustrating some of their weakness for them to improve upon. But besides that, it was a short affair and like that, the awarding ceremony began and ended without a hitch.

The reception that followed was quaint, hosted in one of the dining halls of the castle's tower with tables dotting the floor filled with warm, delicious food for the various Magic Knights to enjoy.

For the most part, everyone kept to their own groups. Dining on the wonderful spread of food with sparse chatter filtering between one another. The same applied to the joined their Black Bull and Golden Dawn group as Shirou remained with them, acting almost like a chaperone.

Yuno took a sip from his chalice, relishing the cool sensation as the pristine crystal water washed down his throat. If there was one thing he found himself enjoying since his induction into the Golden Dawn, it was how better they had it.

The wind mage quietly took in the venue before him, his eyes observing and taking note of everyone else around them.

Despite the pleasant atmosphere, he knew better than to let down his guard completely. He could feel eyes on him, watching him. He knew of the gazes thrown his way. They were the same as always when he first received his four-leaf clover grimoire and later when he was inaugurated into the Golden Dawn. Doubt, curiosity, intrigue, even a sense of befuddlement. Or in one particular case, vexation, as he spied the silent glower of his senior, Alecdora Sandler, from the corner of his eye.

Curiously, the raven-haired young man noted that the Silver Eagles, more specifically Solid, seemed to be keeping their distance. That of course didn't stop the frequent tepid glances that were thrown their way by the water mage. Ones that were returned by Noelle, who actively looked cautious and fidgety. Her pink eyes would flicker over to the rest of her siblings on occasion before flickering away just as quickly, as if to avoid catching their attention.

He briefly wondered why that be before dismissing it as the Silva's family was of little consequence to him.

Out of the bunch, it appeared that only Asta was actively enjoying himself. He was in the festive mood as he ate without worry or concern while the rest put up with the formal reception.

"So, Asta. How's the food?" Shirou asked, seeking to pass the time.

"It's ok, I guess." Asta shrugged as he casually ate.

Hearing this, Yuno's eyes widened as his normal stoic visage slipped to reveal the faintest of surprise.

If there was one thing he knew absolutely for certain about his brother in all but blood, it was that he loved food. No matter if it was fresh or cooked, tasty or odd tasting. He was a gourmand through and through. For him to have such a mild reaction when it came to the capital's food, which even he would admit was delicious, spoke to something very wrong.

Yuno asked if Asta was feeling a bit sick or under the weather.

"Your cooking yesterday tastes way better, Mr. Shirou." Asta explained.

"You've had Uncle's cooking? Lucky…" Mimosa pouted. The surprise didn't cease for Yuno as he easily detected a hint of genuine jealousy brewing within the Vermillion royal.

In fact, he spotted similar looks dawning on the other Magic Knights, mirroring Mimosa's own. Which only roused the question in his mind at the garnered reactions.

'Just how good is his cooking?'

"Now, now, it's alright. If you'd like, I'm sure I can make something for you as well, Mimosa." Shirou confided.

And just like that, Mimosa instantly brightened up, her yellow eyes gleaming eagerly and hungrily.

"Truly? Oh, thank you, Uncle!"

A polite chuckle followed as they were joined by a new voice.

"Generous as always, I see. Do take care not to spoil her too much or too often, sir." The voice jested.

"You say that as if it's a bad thing, Fuegoleon. What kind of uncle would I be if I don't get to spoil my adorable little nieces and nephews?" Shirou quipped back, smiling.

Joining them was none other than Fuegoleon and Leopold Vermillion, Captain of the Crimson Lion Kings and his younger brother, the newest ranked Intermediate Knight, second class.

The crimson Captain was a tall man with deep purple eyes and long, straight vermillion hair. His hair was neatly combed to the back while leaving his long fringe combed to the left in a wavy hairstyle, which parted at his forehead to reveal a diamond-shaped mark. Another notable feature of the royal mage was the red markings around his eyes. All of this combined to grant the man with a stalwart but welcoming countenance as his cordial smile greeted the group.

Like everyone else, he was dressed in his brigade uniform with a white tunic that was covered by a dark blue shirt with long sleeves and a high collar. The shirt was decorated with gold-colored fabric with vertical stripe designs on its edges, collars, and along the sleeves. In addition, he wore white trousers and black high boots with a similar design as his shirt with a long red cape on top of his shirt. His brigade's signature robe covers his torso and has a similar color as his personal robe that matched his namesake. The robe has a gold intricate design at the lower front edge and was complemented with a scarf of similar red color. Lastly, a pair of gold-colored ropes are protruding from between the scarf and the robe at the front and a purple stone is decorating each end.

Leopold looked almost exactly like his brother, from his uniform attire down to even the prominent features of the red markings around his turquoise eyes. Where Fuegoleon possessed a more tidy and formal appearance, the younger brother was far wilder with his messy, spiky hairstyle and a fanged tooth that complimented his toothy smirk.

"Oh, that reminds me. Congratulations on your new rank, Leopold! It seems just like yesterday you were just starting as a Junior Magic Knight and now you're up to Intermediate. Keep it up and you'll be a Senior Magic Knight in no time."

"Thank you very much, Uncle! I'm honored by your words!" Leopold puffed out his chest with a proud grin.

"I would also like to challenge you again, Uncle! I'll show you just how much stronger I've become since our last match!"

The young Magic Knight's sudden declaration caught a few of them off guard, with the gutsy Leopold standing in front of Shirou and his finger pointed directly at the man. A declaration that brought a number of resigned reactions from the Silva and Vermillion family members. Ranging from knowing sighs leaving their lips to the soft shakes of their head. It was a challenge, one of many that he had requested over the years.

"Calm yourself, Leo." Fuegoleon intervened, bonking his younger brother on the head with a firm chop. "You cannot just simply issue a challenge out of nowhere like that. Lord Silva is a busy man, after all."

He turned to Shirou, a hand resting on Leopold's spiky head.

"Apologies for Leo's words. He still has some ways to go before he can grow into a proper Magic Knight."

"Agh! Older brother! Stop that, you're embarrassing me in front of Uncle!"

Shirou's eyes flickered between the two brothers, familial amusement dancing within his gaze at the sight of the Vermillion sibling's antics.

"It's alright." He waved his hand. "What kind of uncle would I be if I didn't have time for my cute nephews? I'll see what I can do. Also! How many times must I remind you, Fuegoleon? There's no need to address me as sir or lord. Uncle or Shirou will do."

"Of course, sir." Fuegoleon answered seriously, were it not for the smallest tug from the corner of his lips that gave him away.

"Cheeky brat…" Shirou rolled his eyes with playful exasperation. "One of these days…"

Smug nephew aside, Shirou found himself enjoying the atmosphere as the two flame mages were welcomed into the ground. Introductions were quickly passed around as conversation drifted between them. Fuegoleon chatted away with Mimosa and Noelle, wishing to know of their recent exploits and adventures while catching up with his younger cousins. In contrast to their energetic, yet ultimately quiet discussion, the resident loud-mouths couldn't help but start a ruckus. They undoubtedly got along, like a house on fire, with Leopold proclaiming Asta to be his rival. One that sparked an equally boastful reply from the Anti-Magic teen.

Still, all of them mirthfully watch the two of them bounce off each in a rather comedic verbal manner.

"You may have a head start on me but just you wait! I'm going to pile up a bunch of awesome results, climb through the ranks, and I'll be the next Magic Emperor in no time!" Asta exclaimed loudly, a bit too loudly in fact.

His bold proclamation was heard by all within the room. One that proved too boisterous to ignore. Many turned, giving Asta a multitude of looks. Most of all was the look of quiet skepticism that was shared by all since many could sense little to no magic from the Black Bull. Which only called into question his claim in their head, though they were polite enough to keep their opinions to themselves.

One individual, however, had no such problem. A deep snigger rang out, one full of mockery. A deed that did not go unheeded.

"May I ask what is it that you find funny, Alecdora Sandler?" Shirou questioned abruptly, his sharp gaze falling on the man. "I don't recall hearing a joke. Would you care to share it?"

The senior Golden Dawn member seized up momentarily when he found himself subject to all the eyes within the room. He recovered quickly, locking eyes with the foreign Silva.

"I merely find it humorous that a low-born peasant has such lofty ideals, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, delusions, of becoming the next Magic Emperor." Alecdora answered brazenly. "Besides, it is Master Vengeance who is worthy of becoming the next Magic Emperor!"

"Well, I guess he'll just have to aim to become the Magic Emperor right after William then." Shirou returned just as quickly and easily.

An answer that earned an irked look from the Senior Magic Knight.

"With all due respect, Lord Silva…" He drawled, giving Shirou a particularly challenging look, one that bordered on disrespect. A look that did not earn him any favors from anyone else if the glares thrown his way were any indicator.

"What would people think or say if such an outrageous notion as that were to come to pass? A mere peasant, the Magic Emperor? Preposterous! In fact..."

Alecdora's eyes narrowed as he gave Asta a scathing look.

"Does he even have any magic at all?"

"So what if I don't, huh?!"

Not one to be intimidated, Asta stepped forward. The short-statured teen refused to back down as he stared defiantly against the Golden Dawn member. The green-haired noble's scowl deepened, offended by the mere notion that a magicless gnat like him would dare seek to challenge someone of his standing.

"Last time I checked," Shirou interrupted, bringing the focus back on him as he took a sip of his wine. "There was no ruling that states a commoner or peasant couldn't work up to become the Magic Emperor. For just because something hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it's impossible."

Shirou paused here, glancing at both Asta and Yuno. Amber's eyes gleamed with both warmth and pride for what the two represented for the future of the Magic Knights but also the progress of the kingdom.

"It just means that the possibility has simply never arisen, until now. And I'm quite curious to see how it all unfolds."

By this point, the sand mage was growing tired of the redheaded royal's flippant rhetoric.

"Surely you cannot be serious, my lord. The title of Magic Emperor is sacred, dating back to the time of the first Magic Emperor. A symbol of the Clover Kingdom's might and nobility. For countless generations, the title of Magic Emperor has gone to only those that were truly worthy, to those of noble and distinguished birth! For the title to fall into the hand of someone so low born and impotent… Even if one just so happens to be blessed with a four-leaf clover. There's simply no precedent!"

"Precedents?" Shirou didn't raise his voice, yet it boomed through the room, all the same, silencing all.

"Something like that is completely inconsequential when compared to the safety of the kingdom and its citizens."

Unbeknownst to them, backs that held the slightest slouch were straightened, heads that's been held high dipped the slightest bit and silence overtook them, a mixture of respect and acknowledgment leaving them dancing against a knife's edge, waiting in anticipation for the autumn-haired royal to speak. The look in his eyes changed as they drifted, meeting the eyes of every Magic Knight within the room, including those of his children.

"If you believe precedents alone are responsible, for those who'd held that mantle you consider sacred... then you are sorely mistaken."

His slow, measured steps echoed through the silent chamber as the distance between Shirou and Alecdora closed.

"Hmph! As if anyone, but a noble could—"

"What does it matter if one is a noble or not?" Shirou interrupted before Alecdora could continue with his repetitive spiel.

"Tell me, when the enemies are at our gates, will words be enough to turn them away? What of pride, hmm? Is pride capable of protecting the innocents or blocking a devastating attack? And what of status? Will the enemy care for who you are when you are at their mercy? What does it matter if you are a noble, or a commoner, or a peasant, or even magicless? It is common for strength to be a heavy factor, but strength is neither the sole requirement nor an exclusivity to those of noble birth. It is not a matter of nobility. Everyone has the potential for greatness. From the greatest of nobles to the lowliest of peasant."

"Preposterous! Only those of superb talent and sublime skill, such as Master Vengeance, could hope to do so!" Alecdora argued back fiercely.

"You're not exactly wrong." Shirou agreed, catching many quietly off guard as his words seemingly contradicted what he had to say.

"Just because the possibility exists doesn't mean that all possesses within them determination to see it through. Some do reach their full potential and so fall short of it. The people of our beautiful kingdom look up to the Magic Emperor for one thing, and that is a guiding strength. Proof that they are truly worthy. From the moment when the first Magic Emperor cemented his strength and legacy by defeating an unspeakable demon, to Julius's leadership and charisma. Those that have filled such a role weren't simply done through precedent, but exceptions. From the time of the first till now, all twenty-eight Magic Emperors that proven themselves to be worthy of their station. They were exceptional not because of their family names, or their magic, but by proving themselves. Those who've risen to the peak through the merit of all kinds. By your admission, the title of Magic Emperor is one gained through merit. You are undoubtedly correct, that those who are born to nobility have an ingrained advantage, but is it not true that all of us, those who stand head and shoulders above our peers, have done so through spilling our blood, sweat, and tears?"

To his credit, Alecdora held his gaze for a few more seconds before becoming downcast.

"If that holds true for us, then why is it any different for those peasants and commoners you'd so readily demean? Is the fact they have joined the Knights at their age despite their position not an achievement upon itself? If that does not speak for their potential, then what of the fact that my friend Julius invited them personally? What does it matter then, of one's social status or lack of prestige, some long as they can prove themselves against the crucible of battle, they are worthy of striving to the top."

"E-even then, there is no way they'd reach the heights of a Magic Emperor! It takes more than their luck and joining the Magic Knight Brigade, to claim such a feat!" The Golden Dawn mage continued to argue.

"Perhaps, but it never hurts to be ambitious. Nor does it detract from why they joined our ranks and what they've already accomplished. Respect them, for they are the same as us in the ways that matter: peers in the duty to our home and country! We are not just peasants or nobles when we fight on the battlefield! Neither do we bleed anything other than red, no matter how blue-blooded we may be! We stand and fight, for our ambitions and hopes! Whether that may be to shoulder the burden that comes with becoming Magic Emperor, whether it be for the sake of our loved ones, or even for something as simple as honor! We are Magic Knights, and as such, we don't mock our peers or juniors! We work together, to achieve our goals, or do we not, Knights of the Clover Kingdom!"

Shirou's eyes drifted once more, finding all latching onto his words, including that of Alecdora. But none more so than Asta and Yuno who watched on, enraptured, with their eyes gleaming with determination.

"To help and protect the weak, and to regulate and inspire the strong. That is what it means to be truly noble. Through not birth or chance but action do our truths shown. That is the duty that all nobles hold, and what the title of Magic Emperor represents at its purest. For the position of Magic Emperor isn't a privilege, but a duty, a burden. One that is heavy, cast upon them by their wards, who trust them to shoulder the weight of being the ultimate martial authority with and without their borders. A shield and a sword, to frighten and embolden enemies and allies respectively. That is what it means to be known as the strongest Magic Knight. However, while Julius may be the epitome of this belief, it does not mean we, ourselves, can't fight for much the same! We, from the greenest of cadets to the eldest of Captains, didn't enlist for our sakes alone! Men! Women! Tell me, what is a Knight without something to fight for! How many are willing to die for that which they love! How many have already done so, so you may stand in their place! If a single spark of devotion rests within your heart, whether it be to your loved ones, or to some other creed, fan it! For we are the Magic Knights of the Clover Kingdom, and this realm is home to that which we must protect! So, endure, grow, surpass your limits and dedicate your heart and soul to the cause!"

"Sir, yes sir!"

A single cry echoed forth, all fourteen voices resonating together into one as every single Magic Knight took the three-finger salute over their hearts. Not even Alecdora could resist the passion and fire delivered upon them as he instinctively saluted, falling in line with his fellow Golden Dawn Brigade members even as the realization hit a second later.

They all stood at attention, their backs straight and their heads held high, proud and dauntless.

Shirou's words, they invigorated them. Ignited within each of them was an ardent fire that warmed their spirits and fueled their determination.

"Having said that, let's see who among you have what it takes to reach the top and become this generation's Magic Emperor!" He said, giving them a cheeky smirk.

One that brought forth a resounding roar of challenge from all the younger Magic Knights, namely Asta and Leopold as they broke down informal clamors.

"Obviously that'll be me!"

"Nah, I'll be the Magic Emperor!"

"Back off, I said that first!"

A friendly bicker broke out, one which drew the amusement of their friends as well as the laughter and smirks from the older generation.

Fuegoleon watched on with a smirk while Nozel remained as self-confident as always. The two Magic Knight Captains found one another's gaze.

'The one who's going to be the next Magic Emperor is going to be me!' The two cousins and rivals thought, both to themselves and conveying it to one another.

Neither would back down. They weren't out of the running just yet. In fact, they were just getting started.

For a moment, none could hope to ruin the festive and high-spirited mood that infected the reception hall.

Only for Shirou's smile to drop without warning, his lips pressed into a hard line as his eyes narrowed. A change that caught the attention and alarm of all within the room at the suddenness of it.

"We're under attack."

Everyone blinked owlishly, their ears failing to register the severity of his words until a second later.

"W-wait, what?!" Asta exclaimed with wide panicked eyes. A confusion was shared amongst everyone as they looked at Shirou with a mixture of befuddlement and uncertainty.

"Shiren, give us a visual!"

"Sir!" The taciturn stone mage responded dutifully.

His grimoire opened as he activated his spell, Stone Creation Magic: Stone Model of the World.

Before them a massive slab of stone appeared, shifting and morphing until it took the appearance of a highly detailed, three-dimensional model of the entire Noble Realm, which spans the entire capital. One that was complete with sound, smoke, and markers identifying disruptions where the attacks were taking place as well as the attacker's magic strength. Disruptions that started small before growing and expanding.

Any confusion or doubt they held were banished as they looked down upon the recreation displaying the real-time attack just outside the tower's wall.

The more experienced Magic Knights recovered quickly, gathering around the model as they assessed the situation, followed quickly by the others. Most of the Junior Magic Knights marveled in both awe at the level of magic on display and also in fright at the gripping realization that such an unexpected and devastating attack was happening at their very doorsteps. Especially for one young man in particular who had a question of his own.

"Woah, woah! How'd you know, Mr. Shirou?!" Asta couldn't help but exclaim.

"Bounded Field." Shirou answered absentmindedly. An answer that he, unfortunately, didn't have time to elaborate further on for confused teen.

"Impossible…" Alecdora clicked his tongue, his grey eyes taking in the widespread destruction. "For such a force with such magic to appear in five different places simultaneously… And to go virtually unnoticed until now…!"

"A formidable Spatial magic user no doubt. Whoever they are, they were able to materialize the invaders at the selected region in an instant without raising any alarm until it was too late." Fuegoleon posited, his purple eyes flickering towards Shirou for a moment.

"Even if that's the case, the magic barrier that is maintained constantly by the guard mages of the Noble Realm would've repelled and alerted the garrison of any foreign or invasive attempts at teleporting in. Especially with a force of this size." Nozel added.

The Silva and Vermillion Magic Knight Captains exchanged glances, their thoughts and concerns mirrored the other.

'Did the enemy somehow analyze the mechanism of the barrier and manage to slip past through our defensive line?'

'Or did they have an inside mole within the kingdom that took down the guards and gave them an opening?'

The two looked back to the stone model.

Whatever the case may be, there was one thing for certain. The attackers were well prepared for their assault.

From the side, a set of double doors slammed open with a loud bang.

"Em-emergency!" A breathless hooded mage barged in. "T-the capital—"

"We already know!" Nozel snapped. "Be silent!"

The robed man gulped, doing as he was told.

For a few seconds, silence dominated the room, punctuated by only the sounds of explosions alongside the screams of terror, and cried for help from the stone model. Each of the Captains and senior Magic Knights was hesitant about what to do, divided on which action took priority. With the Magic Emperor away, their eyes flickered onto Shirou, the senior-most authority within the room. They were waiting for his call.

Asta's leg shook, bouncing up and down restlessly as the seconds ticked on while they just stood there, waiting and watching. A restlessness that only grew strained as the cries for help grew all the more explicit for every second longer they waited. He hated the feeling of doing nothing while people out there were getting hurt or worse, dying.

"Mr. Shirou—!"

A hand clamped down his shoulder. Asta turned his head to find Fuegoleon holding him back. His other hand held a finger to his lips.

The young man found his teeth grinding, hands clenched and muscles twitching with impatient energy. Yet, against his own wishes and normal self, he reigned it all in. Not for the sake of the chain of command or formality, but out of the knowledge that he was out of his depths. So, he turned to who he presumed, and hoped, would have an answer.

After a few more agonizing seconds, Shirou acted.

"You there!" He pointed to the robbed mage.

"Y-yes, my lord?!" The clover mage snapped to attention.

"Get word to all our remaining forces and mobilize all the mages stationed at the castle and garrisoned within the Noble Realm. We need to establish a main line of communication, and send word that the main priority is the safety of the citizens. Split all our available forces into two groups. One half is assigned to secure the perimeters to the attacked location and to keep the enemy forces contained while preventing the damage from spreading. The other half are tasked with the search and rescue of the civilians. Leave the main bulk of the invaders to the Magic Knights but assist wherever possible!"

"Y-es, my lord!" He saluted before running back from where he came, hurrying to fulfill the Silva's order.

"Nozel, Fuegoleon!"



The two Captains stepped forward, awaiting their order.

"The northern and central districts are heavily under siege and where the two highest concentrations of the enemy's forces are located. Nozel, I'm assigning you with Nebra and Solid to secure the central district, where their magic is strongest and presumably, their elites reside. Once the area is secured, you are on overwatch and response duty. Fuegoleon, you are in charge of the northern district, alongside Leo, Noelle, and Asta. Expect a standing force, it seems that is where their main forces took root.

"Understood." Nozel nodded alongside his siblings with Solid opening his grimoire and through Water Creation Magic, summoned a majestic eagle to carry them.

"Roger." Fuegoleon nodded, mirrored by Leo, Noelle, and a clumsy Asta as he called upon his Flame Magic to create an inferno mount in the form of a great lion to aid them.

"Charlotte, Sol, I'm assigning you two to the eastern district. Suppress any and all enemy activity."

"Very well." The Captain of the Blue Roses confirmed tactfully as Sol used her magic to create a giant made out of the earth to carry them.

"Golden Dawn members, I'm assigning you into two groups of three to the residential districts. Alecdora, Yuno, Mimosa, you three will take to the northwest district while Klaus, Shiren, and Hamon will take the western district. Protect the civilians and deal with any opposing force."

A round of affirmatives rang out from the Golden Dawn brigade, their task as clear as day.

"Wait, what about you, sir?" Asta questioned.

"I shall be staying back to oversee the operation while coordinating relief and offensive efforts as the situation continues. We have no idea if the enemy forces have any hidden reinforcements or reserves waiting in the wings. It'd be foolish to commit all our forces and be stretched thin." Shirou answered. "Leave it to Julius to go missing when we're under attack…" He clicked his tongue, muttering under his breath.

With nothing to say the squads of Magic Knights ready themselves to depart. At the last second, Shirou spoke up with one final word of warning he wanted to share.

"Everyone, one more thing."

They halted, turning to Shirou as his eyes swept through them one final time.

"Be careful. We do not know the enemy's exact number nor their capability or true strength. However, one thing is for certain. For them to attack the capital, the very heart and domain of the kingdom and Magic Knight Headquarters, it speaks to the intruder's confidence. They are either arrogant or bold, either way, it only tells us that they're prepared for our counteroffensive. Do not underestimate the enemy and watch each other's back out there. But above all else…"

The stern eyes of the weathered senior softened, the hard edges of experience smoothing over and leaving a family man in its place, who gazed at the next generations with a nurturing look. Above all else, his eyes spoke of the warmth of home.

"Come back home safely. All of you. That is an order."

He would not halt their march towards their duty, but he would not let them place the former over their lives. Even if it was hypocritical for him to ask them to do so. He was never the most reasonable of men.

"Sir!" Shirou's words were answered with a round of determined nods.

He watched as they left, swiftly, as the grand windows rattled following their departures. His eyes followed, focusing on the world outside. Plumes of black smoke sprouted across the realm as the sound of destruction raged on, intermixed with the screams of terror and death alike.

Despite holding confidence in all their abilities he couldn't shake the sense of foreboding uncertainty that weighed heavily on his shoulder. It wasn't only Julius that the magus lamented not being here but also the Golden Dawn Captain, William. As customary for the Distinguish Valor Ceremony, the Captains of the Brigades would accompany their respective members for the ceremony. Such as was the case with Fuegoleon for Leopold, Charlotte for Sol, and lastly Nozel for Solid and Nebra. Yet, William was nowhere to be found and any attempts at communication were fruitless.

Shirou shook his head, ridding himself of any superficial thoughts as his mind focused back on the task. Now wasn't the time for idle pondering.

They've all had a duty to uphold and Shirou was no exception.

Turning, he sprinted out of the room.


With the assistance of Fuegleon's mount, the squad reached their destination with ease, jumping from rooftop to rooftop with great stride. Upon reaching the northern district, what they saw awaiting them was a scene straight out of their darkest nightmare.

Absolute chaos reigned. Death and destruction on a scale unseen by the younger Magic Knights, one that left them aghast and horrified by the wanton carnage on display. Fuegoleon was far more composed, with the crimson Captain bearing a pinched but firm visage as his determination grew.

Fire raged on everywhere, crackling as they burned alongside the crumbling of buildings and charred husks of the former inhabitants. The dead and dying lay on the street while the undead stalked the street.

Their bodies were unnatural, decayed yet spry, with their flaky skin and patches of black to their listless, droning visage. They numbered in the dozens if not hundreds, with columns and pockets of what were once humans shambling about. It seemed their only purpose now was to cause destruction wherever they cross and seek out the living to add more corpses to their undead parade.

Asta wasted no time as he hit the ground running, leaving the others behind as he charged recklessly ahead, much to the dismay of a certain silverette as she called out to him.

He didn't think, only acted, calling upon his sword as he cut a swathe through the undead horde. Despite the horror of the situation he was thrust into, the magicless teen found himself surprisingly calm, focused.

Normally, he would always measure his strength whenever he used his sword against other people. He was very careful in that regard, using only the right amount necessary and never more. Such was the case when he faced off against Sekke, leaving him with a slightly bruised body despite his heavy swing. Or even against Mars, where he held nothing back, for he knew he couldn't afford to against Diamond mage.

But the circumstances he found himself in were far from normal.

While he could be stubborn and reckless, he was far from naïve. Living his life a pariah made him accept some grim facts and reality at an early age.

He could not save those that were already gone but at the very least he could put their bodies to rest.

As he ran, cutting down the undead in his way, he came upon one of the many plazas that decorated the capital. There, he encountered a lone, ragged mage standing amidst the carnage and destruction. No doubt the perpetrator of it all.

The invader had his back to him, too busy enjoying himself as he loomed over a young little girl, relishing in her fright. His manic voice crackled through the air with both mockery and twisted glee.

Asta made his presence known with a shout as he burst into the scene, dispatching the paltry number of corpses around him.

The rogue mage, Rades, appeared shocked upon facing him, giving enough time for the young girl to run away and towards safety by Asta's side. Recognition quickly dawned on him as his sneer returned. One that deepened as he realized that he would be facing off against someone considered utterly inferior to him, a magicless peon.

"Don't get cocky, brat! This is my show! Get off the stage, you no-magic nobody!" The eyepatch-wearing mage shouted.

From the shadows poured forth a pool of darkness as he called upon more of his undead slaves.

While Asta faced off against the enemy with his army of corpses, Noelle and her cousins managed to catch up with him. They had taken care of any stranglers or any undead he happened to miss along the way as they chased after him.

From there it was a matter of dealing with the remaining undead that littered the area. An issue that was dealt with rather easily for while the enemy held the advantage in terms of quantity, the Magic Knights remained unsurpassed in quality.

With Fuegoleon's and Leopold's overwhelming Flame Magic, they had little difficulties rendering the pockets of magically animated corpses to ashes. The same applied to Noelle, for none could hope to withstand her volley of swords as they penetrated and skewered scores of the undead like a hot knife through butter. In a short time, they managed to clear out most of the enemy forces from the northern district.

An impressive feat all across the board, but it was nothing compared to Asta who faced off against the enemy leader and his seemingly endless army as small mountains of corpses piled up all around him. All the while defending the little girl from harm.

It wouldn't be smooth sailing for long as the rogue mage quickly switched things up, doing away with his previous strategy of sending waves of fodder to overwhelm Asta. Summoned forth the blackened pool of ichor rose a giant corpse, tall and gangly, and was covered head to toe in blackened bandages. It wore a pair of eye-shaped ornaments, similar to the one the Rades wears over his left eye.

"No.4 - Jimmy!" He exclaimed proudly. "Jimmy, meet the Magicless moron. And Magicless moron, meet your death!"

Jimmy let out a death wail as dark, malicious orbs appeared around it. Not only was it more imposing, but it was also capable of magic as it fired magic bullets loaded with curse magic towards Asta.

He knew that he wouldn't be able to keep up with the barrage with his heavy greatsword alone, and so, he quickly brought out his second sword.

"Rargh!" Asta let out, roaring as he swung his longsword furiously.

He was able to keep up with the barrage, his sword cutting through and canceling out much of the incoming magic bullets, but not all of them. Jimmy was relentless in his attack, firing without end. Especially when Rades ordered for his corpse puppet to target the little girl, forcing Asta to intervene to shield her. Slowly, a few of the cursed bullets grazed him, leaving behind cursed wounds that bleed all over his body. With no way to lead the young girl to safety, the Magicless Knight was forced on the defensive. They were slowly chipping away at him as the Black Bull did his damndest to protect the young girl behind him.

"Asta!" Noelle yelled, seeing the predicament he was in.

The silverette prepared her wand and her attack only for a loud cry to rip through the air. Noelle jolted, tearing her eyes away from Asta towards the source of the cry for help.

There, a fair bit away, was a mother and daughter, their backs pressed against a wall as flames raged around them. Cutting off their path of escape were a few shambling corpses that slowly closed in on them. Both were terrified, yet the mother did her duty as she placed herself between the undead and her daughter. All the while desperately crying out for help.

Noelle quickly shifted targets and pointed her wands towards them, her magic flaring and her swords poised to fire, ready to save the mother and daughter only to waver at the last second.

Up until this point, Noelle had little to worry about in terms of collateral and so she fired off her swords with little concern. But faced with the situation at hand, she found herself hesitating as doubt and fear seized her body.

Her control of her swords was nearly peerless, one forged from years of intensive training, yet to this day she still could not find herself with the confidence or strength to fire them against a living being. Inanimate objects, moving constructs, animals, monsters, or even corpses, yes. But against a living, breathing person, her resolve falters.

While her swords were not pointed directly at them, that did little to mitigate her nervousness. It didn't help that she couldn't accurately judge the distance and angle between them, one which was growing smaller and smaller by the second as the undead walkers closed in on the innocent family. At the angle from where she stood and where they were, were she to fire her swords then there was a high likelihood that the mother and daughter would be caught in the cross-fire. She knew just how fast her swords were and the momentum from firing them would cut down both the undead and the pair.

One tiny slip up, one miss-timed mental command, and she'd end their lives as opposed to saving them.

It didn't help that she could still hear Asta and his fight going on.

Faced with two impending quandaries Noelle froze up, the mounting pressure weighed heavily on her as she panicked. She was pressed for time and needed to do something, and quickly!

Thankfully, however, she wasn't alone as before she could make her decision. A wave of fire safely burned the undead away, courtesy of her Vermillion cousin. Rescuing them, Fuegoleon quickly directed the mother and daughter to safety.

His regal purple eyes immediately found Noelle, locking her with his firm gaze as he marched up to the Arma mage.

Noelle trembled in place, finding herself being reminded of the hard stare given to her by the likes of her older brothers. Especially Nozel's.

"T-thank y—" She stuttered out only to be halted by a firm chop to the head.

"Focus!" He delivered, sending Noelle reeling from the small sting.

"Noelle, you had a clear shot yet you hesitated. Had I not interfered then would you have simply watched helplessly while the mother and daughter lost their life?"

Noelle flinched and looked away, unable to bear his gaze. Her mouth opened and closed yet no answer was given. However, it was all he needed to know.

"I see… You still have trouble when it comes to using your magic, Noelle." Fuegoleon stated.

The royal Captain closed his eyes for a moment with a nod of understanding only to quickly deliver a second, firmer chop to her head.

"However, that is no excuse! Everyone has a duty on the battlefield, and just because you cannot do one thing does not mean you can't do something else instead. Doubt leads to fear, fear leads to indecision, and one wrong decision can mean the difference between life and death. Whether that may be someone innocent or your comrades." Fuegoleon chided.

"I-I'm sorry…" Noelle stuttered out.

"Do not be sorry." He stated, firmly and calmly. "Be better! You are a Magic Knight, are you not, Noelle? If so, then steel yourself and do better next time! Remember this, being weak is nothing to be ashamed of. Staying weak is!"

Noelle's eyes widened as she absorbed her cousin's words. Ones that echoed within her as the image of a reckless Anti-Magic peasant came to mind.

She gulped, her fingers tightening around her wand. That was right, no matter what life throws at him, he wouldn't give up. As if she, a royal, was going to allow him to show her up!

Fuegoleon smirked a little, approving of the new, resolute change within her.

The two went their separate ways for now. Noelle rushed to help Asta while Fuegoleon sought to finish up any stranglers that may have survived.

Back with Asta, he was fighting a losing battle as his body was bleeding all over. His strength was slowly being sapped from all the curse magic. All the while Rades laughed, mocking the Magicless Knight for his pathetic morals of protecting the little noble girl. He stood comfortably at a distance, feeling safe and superior as he allowed his corpse puppet to do all the fighting for him.

As the fight dragged on, the damage started to build up and resulted in him he faltering from a split second. He wobbled as he fought to keep on his feet. It was enough of an opening as a few cursed magic bullets slipped past him and they would've hit the girl, were it not thanks to a timely intervention intercepting them.

"Huh?" Asta let out, blinking quickly as he realized what it was that stopped the attacks.

There, floating around them were Noelle swords but they were interlocked together, taking a hexagonal shape. With her immaculate control over her magic, she was using her swords as a makeshift shield. Ones that orbited them, intercepting the incoming magic bullets with ease as it protected the two of them.

"What the hell!" Rades grit his teeth at the sight before him. After all, who uses flying swords of all things for defense?

There, Noelle stood at the entrance of the plaza with her grimoire and wand at the ready. She was staying back, acting as support for the time being for her squadmate.

"Noelle!" Asta cheered, happy to see a friendly face. "Thanks!"

"Honestly, where would you be without me?" Noelle huffed, managing a small smile. "How long are you going to take with just one opponent, Bakasta?! Hurry up and beat him already!"

"Yes, ma'am!" Asta chuckled with a wry grin, feeling his spirits reinvigorated. "With you watching my back, all I've got to worry about!"

"Don't get cocky you little shits!" Rades sneered, his lone maniac eye twitched.

In addition to Jimmy, he called upon forth more of his undead horde from the pools of darkness around him. He wasn't going to play around anymore, seeking to overwhelm Asta with numbers and Jimmy.

"Leopold!" Noelle called out.

"You got it, cuz'!" Leo replied with a toothy grin. "Give that slimeball a good whacking, rival!"

Leopold launched two flame spirals from his hand, helping to destroy the horde of corpses in Asta's path and giving him an opening to charge in. At the same time, Noelle fired a volley of swords that cut down any remaining undead as her projectiles closed in on Rades.

Panicking, he ordered Jimmy to protect him. Not even the curse magic bullets were enough as her swords cut through them and sliced up the corpse that did its best to protect its master. Rades was safe at the cost of the corpse puppet faltering, allowing Asta to get in range within the blink of an eye. The lanky minion attacked, firing more cursed bullets at the Anti-Magic Knight but it proved a futile attempt as he quickly wised up to its attack.

In a surprising maneuver, Asta gripped both of his swords tightly and spun towards Jimmy. Becoming a veritable black tornado as the bullets were canceled out by the rapid spinning of his blades. With enough momentum built up, he swung with both his swords with all his strength behind them.

Both his Anti-Magic blades cut through the corpse puppet, severing it into two as Jimmy's upper body flew back. It ragdolled against the ground, flopping onto the floor in front of an infuriated Rades.

"Damn it, Jimmy! Get back up you piece of shit! Kill that brat!" He screamed in part anger and alarm but it proved pointless.

The Anti-Magic properties of his swords cut off the magic linking Rades with his control over the corpse puppet. Leaving Jimmy inanimate and dead for good.

"Quit your whining."

Rades snapped his head up to find a pair of defiant emerald eyes glaring at him. A look that infuriated him no end. One that stroked the flames of his anger and ire as his lone eyes grew bloodshot. Especially for what he would say next.

"It's your turn." Asta called him out, pointing his sword at him. "Step up and let's see what you got or are you just nothing more than a coward!?"