Joshua Juukulius's Fourth Careful Encyclopedia
Joshua’s eyes were burning in the blinding sunlight as he stood by the window looking outside. He took a short breath, feeling the slight pain that was sinking in.
“I guess…I’m feeling good today?” he whispered to himself, touching his chest to check his heartbeat.
It’s important to check to what extent I can move every morning. People often make mistakes if they do not check this. In my case, any mistake can be a risk to my life. I cannot make irresponsible judgments.
His health had gotten a lot better recently. There was a period of time when he could feel Death’s cold touch just by breathing, but his condition was no longer that serious.
There are people who laugh when they hear that one’s mental state influences one’s physical body, but at least I know it to be true.
Thanks to that, he could continue living healthily for a while.
He opened his eyes after taking his time to carefully check his physical condition. His eyes were again met with dazzling sunlight and he heard a pleasant sound from outside. It was the sound of two hard objects striking against each other. It would probably sound ugly to an outsider, but not to him.
It sounds as beautiful as heavenly music to me… A view of the garden unfurled from the open window.
In that carefully organized verdant garden full of colorful flowers shimmering under the morning sun, a certain sight caught his eye. But it was not the plants, trees, or flowers that drew his attention. It was the juvenile that was struggling in the midst of all that beauty.
That juvenile was a young boy.
The boy had violet-colored hair and yellow eyes that burned with determination. His serious profile could even be described as still young, yet one could see glimpses of innocent beauty.
He had the type of face that could attract many members of the opposite sex, but it was now glowing with an unbridled sense of adventure.
The boy had his sleeves of well-tailored clothes roughly rolled up as he was holding a short wooden sword. He wiped the sweat from his chin with his other hand and stepped forward with a swing of his sword. He then boldly continued his challenge.
“…Gh.” With a short breath, the sword was knocked out from the boy’s hand.
Julius’s eyes instantly followed it. The next second, the tip of the opponent’s wooden sword was at the defenseless boy’s throat.
“You got distracted. You’ve still got a long way to go, Julius.”
”I…wa…de…defeated.” Realizing his defeat in the duel, the boy’s voice trembled in frustration.
The boy’s father—his opponent—relaxed his lips, noticing the deep sense of disappointment in the boy’s words of surrender. “You truly are a great person if being defeated by me saddens you so. I am a Kingdom Knight, after all. I have polished my swordsmanship to protect this country, so don’t think you can outdo me that easily.”
“I…I know that! But it’s still infuriating. If I lose this sense of frustration, I will not be myself anymore.”
“…I see. Well, perhaps you are right. In that case, you should treasure that feeling,” the father replied, squinting his eyes at the boy’s words for a second.
The boy raised his eyebrows at what his father said next.
“There may be times when you lose the meaning of holding a sword after admitting defeat to a rival…” The father nodded deeply at the look in his son’s eyes. “I too was once like that. I wonder when those feelings of frustration began to fade away.”
“Ah, it doesn’t matter. Pick up your sword now. Change your clothes, and let’s have breakfast,” his father said with a shake of his head, ending the morning practice.
“…Understood!” The boy nodded at those words and ran to pick up his wooden sword, which had bounced away to the corner of the garden.
As he picked up his sword, he noticed someone watching him from a window above him.
His eyes widened in surprise as he shortly exhaled. “Ah.”
He had felt a small tingle in his chest at his reaction. But before he could respond, the boy’s expression softened and he said:
“Hi, Joshua. Did you sleep well this morning?”
The boy, Julius, smiled and waved to his younger brother.
Joshua Juukulius and Julius Juukulius were not real brothers.
Joshua was originally the eldest son of the main branch of House Juukulius. His father was the head of the house, and when his younger brother—Julius’s biological father—passed away, Julius was taken into House Juukulius since he had nowhere else to go. That was the beginning of their relationship as brothers.
Julius was older, so Joshua took the position of his younger brother. Since then, Julius began receiving different forms of education as the next successor of the House.
It was the education that Joshua was originally meant to receive as the eldest child of the family.
However, his body was weak from birth. Joshua was worried about inheriting the house of knights and could not demonstrate results worthy of the title. Thus, that role naturally was relinquished over to Julius.
It was exactly that, handed over. Never stolen.
Experiencing such treatment, one wouldn’t have blamed Joshua for forming a sense of resentment towards Julius. But Joshua welcomed his newfound situation. All his life, he felt that he had been a burden and nuisance to his family.
In the end, the house that had existed for generations might even have lost its status in the kingdom due to Joshua’s failures. But it was saved from such a fate thanks to the existence of Julius, its savior.
“Brother, what I’m saying is that I want you to become a fitting person for House Juukulius.”
“Hmmm, what do you mean exactly?” Julius wondered.
“I have told you this multiple times—a hero,” said Joshua as he pushed a thick book into Julius’s chest.
The two were sitting together in Joshua’s room on top of his bed.
Julius had a lecture waiting for him after lunch so he gave the book a sour look at first, but his eyes started glowing as soon as he read the title.
“Joshua, isn’t this…?”
“Yes, I finally got hold of the sequel. This is the follow up to the great epic about the life of the first Sword Saint, Reid Astrea,” Joshua explained.
“Yay! I was wondering what happened after he beheaded the evil dragon!” Julius exclaimed as he hugged the book.
Joshua smiled at the sight of Julius trembling with excitement.
Julius had steadily been taking in the excellent education that had been planned by Joshua. Even though he was unfamiliar with what a “hero” was, he had learned a great deal in a short period of time.
Needless to say, Julius was a man of high aspirations. He just hadn’t had the opportunity to exercise such qualities. However, as soon as his brother had turned his fate towards the path of a hero, Joshua also felt overwhelmed by his newfound situation.
He was now able to write his own destiny on the white parchment that was his life.
Julius was getting closer day by day to becoming the ideal heir that Joshua had imagined. He was Joshua’s hope. Their story truly was straight from a tale of adventures.
Joshua felt like Julius’s growth was his own.
“…Hm? What’s wrong, Joshua? You have a weird expression on your face,” Julius raised his head from the book he was so passionately reading.
It seemed as though he had noticed that Joshua was looking not at the letters but at him.
“It’s nothing,” Joshua replied. “I’m just happy you’re so interested in this book.”
“That’s because the people in it have achieved great things,” Julius said, looking away while rubbing the tip of his nose, as if embarrassed.
Joshua gave a bitter smile as he watched his brother’s reaction and squinted his eyes. “Is it tough for you?” he asked.
“Tough? I mean, it is hard, but not tough. Yeah, it’s not tough. And also, not to brag, but I think I’m good at remembering things,” Julius continued proudly. “Father also praises me for that.”
“I see,” said Joshua, nodding slowly.
Julius had just learned a lot of new things, so he was absorbing knowledge and experience like dry sand did water. Nevertheless, he still had a long way to go and the road was steep.
But Joshua wasn’t one to bring down his brother with the realities of such a difficult journey.
Even though Julius was older, it was Joshua who had spent more time longing to be a knight. He wanted to help his elder brother walk that path slowly and carefully.
Heading down that long and treacherous path was something that knights of House Juukulius had to do. As brothers, it was something that Joshua and Julius had to do…
I realized that I had been taking things too lightly the moment I saw that red-haired boy.
He was walking majestically, stepping on the red carpet floor. He was a young boy less than ten years old, walking with what could only be described as grandeur.
His hair was as red as flames, his eyes were clear blue. Everyone was completely fascinated by him, and his sense of presence was so strong that no one could underestimate him, even as a child.
It happened when we went up to the royal palace and had an audience with the king.
For houses of knights and nobles that served the kingdom, there was a ceremony held for their children who had reached a certain age. There they would meet the king and swear their future loyalty to him.
Joshua and Julius went up to the palace together with their father on that day.
The opportunity to debut was meant only for Julius, but Joshua wanted to witness his brother on his big day, so he came along.
A lot of people gathered around, all paying attention to the kingdom’s future loyal subjects. Joshua was proudly waiting to see what the country’s leading figures and the king himself would think of Julius.
The boy shattered that young and sweet idea with his presence alone. Gallantly walking, he was the embodiment of perfection.
He was younger than Julius, around the same age as Joshua. However, the unimaginable strength he was hiding within completely crushed Joshua’s heart to pieces.
While Julius admired heroes as he continued his growth, Joshua always thought he had been a step ahead when it came to his feelings towards “heroes.”
But what about this? What can you say about this fierce boy?
“…Ah.” The red-haired boy’s eyes looked in Joshua’s direction for a moment.
That look was directed towards Julius, who was waiting for his turn to introduce himself to the public, and Joshua, who squeezed himself in nearby, as well.
Joshua forgot to breathe as he looked into the boy’s big blue eyes, which seemed to reflect the entire sky. He hurriedly looked at his elder brother. He was afraid that Julius would be as shocked as he was. He feared that the will that he had been polishing in Julius so hard would be overshadowed. However…
“…He…is a real one.”
Joshua could not sense any humiliation in his elder brother’s face as he mumbled those words. Humiliation. Joshua was astonished at his own thoughts.
Exactly, humiliation. What Joshua felt looking at that boy was unmistakably humiliation. Everything he had studied up till this moment was completely denied by that boy. While Julius, who should have been in the same kind of shock, had sparkles in his eyes—as if he had found a dream different from his own.
By the time he realized, it was too late.
Joshua choked and could not breathe anymore. He collapsed, clutching his chest. Julius instantly caught him, but Joshua’s consciousness started fading away while his vision darkened. One’s mental state had an influence on one’s physical body. He strongly felt that again now.
With that feeling, the day was engraved into Joshua’s mind as his worst memory.
Joshua’s physical condition got worse, although it had never been that bad after he and Julius became brothers. He could no longer get up from his bed and spent his days dealing with a high fever and the feeling of being suffocated.
He was told to rest well by his family and doctors, but he could not. As soon as he closed his eyes, images from that unfortunate event that had occurred before the court rushed to Joshua’s mind and pierced through his soul again and again.
The sound of his rough and hot breathing filled the room.
Joshua was ruminating on that nightmarish scene.
The more he recollected it, the more pain he felt around his chest. It was not because of that red-haired boy. What had torn Joshua’s heart apart in its fullest sense was not that red-haired boy…
“…Joshua, how are you feeling?”
Julius opened the door and looked over at Joshua with concern. Julius lowered his eyebrows as his worried eyes reflected Joshua as he scratched his frail arms. He did not want his brother to look like that. He wanted Julius to look more gallant, powerful, and fierce.
“Today is not that bad…How are you, my brother?”
“I…I’m fine. Father is also shocked, since he doesn’t understand what happened.” Maybe it was to calm Joshua down, or maybe it was the truth, but Julius looked at him fearlessly.
That kind of confident attitude was completely different from that vague stance towards his goals from earlier. The way Julius looked at him was a sight one had when they saw a clear road ahead of them.
Joshua saw the moment when that change happened. Joshua and Julius were supposed to walk the same path and aim for the same peak. But what about right now? he thought. Julius’s eyes were looking at a peak that Joshua could not see.
“Joshua, do you have anything you want me to do for you?”
“…to do…for me?” Joshua pondered.
He looked quickly out the window, still thinking.
There was a garden outside that window where Julius trained in swordsmanship every morning. There was an abble tree in the corner of that garden that looked out of place but stayed in Joshua’s mind because of the bright red fruit on it.
“Yes. I saw there are abbles on that tree,” Joshua said.
Julius looked outside the window. He saw the tree Joshua was talking about and gave him a quick “Got it,” before continuing. “Leave it to me. Your big brother will make you happy!” Julius dashed out of the room as soon as he said those words.
“Ah.” Joshua reached out with his hand but it was too late.
Julius did not even notice his hand.
Joshua clenched it into a fist. “I’m such a fool.”
I was mistaken to believe that we shared the same qualities. How ridiculous of me to think that I could ever be like him. What was I thinking?
Julius skillfully climbed up the tree in the garden and easily plucked an abble. Joshua struggled to look at his brother; he hid his face with his hands.
It was a harsh reminder that the figure as thin as a dead branch was none other than himself. He realized that he and his brother were aiming at different targets.
In that case, then my brother is the one who is set on the right path.
Because Joshua Juukulius was a sinner from birth.
“…Ah, why am I even alive…”
As soon as he admitted to himself that he was foolish, his chest area suddenly became calm. Joshua laughed. He laughed as the tears rolled down his cheeks.
Laughing was the only thing he could do.