Joshua Juukulius's Third Careful Encyclopedia
The view outside the window always looked like an illusion that he could not reach. House Juukulius was of ancient origin and had produced knights for the Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica for generations.
Through various events that happened in the Kingdom of Lugunica’s history, the members of House Juukulius accompanied and solemnly supported it as knights.
It was not a role like that of the Sword Saint and Sword Demon, who lived in the spotlight for their extraordinary achievements at turning points in the history of the kingdom. However, just like a king was nothing without his vassals, there were always nameless ordinary knights hiding in the shadow of heroic achievements.
House Juukulius was also no more than a family that produced that sort of ordinary knight. They were the backbone of the kingdom, as people who swore their loyalty to it.
I have never doubted the way my family is. As I mentioned before, it is a necessity. There need to be ordinary people’s stories behind the stories of heroes and other excellent people. It is just a matter of having the right people in the right place and deciding on their roles.
In other words, a main role and a supporting role. I thought there was no big difference between these two. If I had to name a problem, there is just one—
He coughed as his body creaked and ached somewhere deep inside without any reason. His urge to cough could not disappear, and he kept coughing and breathing roughly, enduring the pain.
It was not anything unusual. It was just one of the pointless seizures that happened to him ten times daily. It was not an illness. He was just weak and fragile.
And the reality of that “weakness” was his inescapable sin.
In House Juukulius with generations of knights, the fact that the “eldest son” was born too weak to hold a sword was a very deep sin that could make him regret his own birth.
—Joshua Juukulius was born into this world a sinner.
“—This is Julius. He will live with us from today. You originally are cousins, but he will be your elder brother from now on,” I was told by my father who is the head of our family.
This was how I first met my “elder brother.”
Joshua felt miraculously good on that day and could eat together with his family for the first time in a while. The introduction above was done before eating.
“Julius is my younger brother’s son. He recently lost his parents in an accident, so I decided to take him in and raise him… Do you have any questions, Joshua?”
“Yes. Julius is three years older than you… If I take him into our family, he will be in the position of your elder brother. In that case…”
I noticed how my father’s golden eyes looked away for a moment.
It was something like an expression of his guilt that was visible only for a brief second. Joshua fully understood his father’s unspoken words.
Joshua naturally caused a lot of trouble for many adults due to his weak body, especially his parents. Those kinds of kids also naturally got the ability to read adults’ faces.
Joshua was no exception. That’s why he could read his father’s thoughts—he felt sorry for Joshua but also prioritized fulfilling House Juukulius’s main mission. Joshua could guess the tension between his father and the knights, so he did not oppose.
I did not have the right to oppose from the very beginning.
My father did not need to feel all that guilt in the first place.
If I were born with a proper body from the very beginning, there would not have been a strange gap here.
Joshua chose to smile and nod as an attentive son would do in order to reassure his father.
You could see the relief in his father’s face as he lowered his eyebrows in response to Joshua’s reaction. He could not see Joshua’s true feelings, but he could not be blamed for that.
Joshua was that good at hiding his true nature.
That was why—
“—Julius, you should introduce yourself.”
“Y-Yes, Father!” said the boy as he was pushed by his father to go forward.
Julius stood in front of Joshua. He looked gentle and had the same hair color as Joshua and his father—proof of the Juukulius bloodline.
“My name is Julius Juukulius, and I will be living with the main branch of the family starting today. I know it’s weird that I will be your elder brother even though I came here later, but…I hope we get along well,” said Julius without hesitation, as if he had practiced these sentences multiple times before.
He then held his hand out.
Joshua looked at the handshake gesture and tried to play it safe. It was his first encounter with someone he was going to spend a long time together with.
“I am Joshua Juukulius. Nice to meet you too.” Joshua tried to give a neutral response, so as to not leave a strong impression.
He softly shook Julius’s hand and wanted to end the situation.
That’s what he thought—
The second they shook hands, Joshua saw something unthinkable. The second after their hands touched each other, Julius knelt down in front of him.
Then, with one knee on the floor of the dining room, Julius gently brought the back of Joshua’s hand to his lips—that was a kind of courtesy that a knight would do towards a lady.
“I hope we will be together for a very long time.” Julius’s face turned red as he said those words while kneeling down.
It was not an act he was used to doing. His voice was shaking and his gaze kept going places, but he looked like someone who achieved his first goal.
Joshua caught his breath when—
“—Hahahaha! Ahahaha! Julius, this is a greeting a knight gives a lady. You shouldn’t do it with Joshua…ah…ahahaha!”
“D-Did I make a mistake?!”
While trying to endure the humiliation and follow courtesy, Julius was stunned as his mistake was pointed out.
It was the first time Joshua saw his father laughing so loudly and smiling so broadly. There were other servants in the dining room, but his father wasn’t able to keep up appearances and hold the laugh in.
“D-Don’t laugh at me, please!” exclaimed Julius. “I thought about this a lot…”
“Ah, I know, I know,” his father responded, wiping away his tears as Julius desperately tried to resist. “It’s fine for you to learn etiquette from now on. I see that you have the desire to learn, and that is enough.”
Julius turned back to Joshua, seemingly saddened by his father’s reaction.
He then tried to apologize to Joshua for kissing his hand, saying that he had embarrassed him—
“A-Are you okay?” he asked.
“…Huh?” Joshua replied confusedly.
“You…you are crying…Are you in pain?”
Joshua’s body stiffened in surprise due to Julius’s words. Julius touched Joshua’s cheek with a “You see?” before continuing. “—These are tears.”
Joshua saw a few drops slightly shaking on Julius’s little finger.
The moment Joshua realized those were his own tears that were scooped up—
His emotions poured forth so easily that he could not believe it. It was such a muddy stream of unknown emotions that even he was unaware that he had sealed away.
Joshua burst into tears, instantly being tossed about by the flow that came pouring out all at once.
“Oh! Ah! Ohhhh, Father! What shall I do?!” Julius exclaimed.
“J-Joshua, what’s wrong?!” his father shouted. “Tell me if something is wrong! What happened?!”
The father and Julius clearly panicked at the sight of the sobbing Joshua. His son was very easy to deal with apart from his physical condition. The father’s surprise was unsurprising considering this sudden change in his son’s behavior.
The servants’ reactions were no different. They mobilized all their forces to stop Joshua’s tears.
—In the end, Joshua stopped crying after a while, and his first encounter with his elder brother was engraved in his mind as a bitter memory.
“I hadn’t studied anything to become a knight in my family.”
That was how Julius started his story after he visited Joshua in his room a few days after their bitter first encounter.
Joshua’s father, who was now Julius’s father as well, switched easily from being a father to being the head of House Juukulius. He suppressed his guilt towards Joshua, and Julius started his special education as a knight.
That being said, it was the long-awaited knight education for the father—it was originally supposed to be taught to Joshua but was left in limbo, so it was understandable why he was so enthusiastic about it.
Of course, I can only imagine how hard it will be on Julius, who will actually be going through it.
“If I had known things would turn out this way, I would have been more serious about everything…”
“—What did you do in your family, Brother?” Joshua tilted his head lying on the bed as he called Julius his brother.
Joshua had a fever this morning, so he was told to rest in bed by his worried servants. But things got better by the middle of the day after lunch.
On days when he had a fever in the morning, Joshua tended to rest for the day. —It was a routine that Joshua had been doing for a long time in order not to bother other people in the house and make them worried.
That’s why no one usually entered Joshua’s room when he was resting. No one. Except for Julius who came to complain about his special daily education.
“I often used to help my mom and dad. Apart from that, I went out with my friends nearby… I had no idea I was related to a big House like this.”
“Did your late father tell you anything about House Juukulius?” Joshua wondered.
“Nothing at all! I was very surprised when my current father came to pick me up.”
Joshua squinted his yellow eyes as Julius exaggeratedly waved his hands. He had heard about his father’s younger brother, who was also Julius’s father and an uncle of his, multiple times.
He was an odd one even within House Juukulius. When his elder brother became head, he quickly married an ordinary woman and started a life outside the family.
He was the kind of person who preferred a simple and ordinary life over a noble family life in House Juukulius. It is not like we were strangers, but I never really interacted with him.
The reason for his and his wife’s death was a flood that occurred in a town where Julius’s family lived. They were apparently swept away in a flash flood while trying to help others.
“They were great people,” said Joshua.
“───” Julius kept silent.
If they died trying to help others, it meant they lived as righteous and good people. It was ironic that that was the reason for their death, but it made Joshua truly respect his uncle and aunt.
However, Julius just shook his head with a “No” in response to Joshua’s words. “My mom and dad weren’t anything special. But everyone says they did something great, including our father. But…” Joshua sniffled. He then continued with tears in his eyes. “But I don’t care if they were ordinary, I just want them to be alive. Is it weird to think that way?”
That was a question Joshua could not find an answer to.
It was definitely a difficult thing to discuss for two young boys who had just become brothers. Julius wiped his face with his sleeve in front of the silent Joshua.
“My mom and dad died,” he continued, “and I was brought here by our father. I got you as my younger brother, and a lot has changed, but…I am still worried.”
“…Worried…about what?” Joshua asked.
He had a body that could move freely; he could be taught all the necessary things to be a knight by his father. He was Julius Juukulius, who would now be walking the path that Joshua was supposed to follow.
—What on earth could you be worrying about, my new brother?
“I wonder what I should do. I wonder whether it is fine to just do as father says. If I do that…” Will I be able to become someone who can repay my dead father and mother?
Young Julius could not find the right words, but that was what he wanted to say. Joshua took his unspoken words and pondered.
He carefully thought about Julius’s concerns. At the time Joshua didn’t understand why. He just thought about it.
If Julius was supposed to follow the path of a knight as the eldest son of House Juukulius that was originally destined for Joshua, it meant that the concerns he had were also Joshua’s concerns.
There is me who was born in a knight family, and all that I have is a body unfitting for a knight. And then there is Julius who grew up as an ordinary person but is going to be raised as a knight in a knight family.
—His path would definitely lead to the unfinished path of Joshua Juukulius.
“Huh?” Julius raised his eyebrows at Joshua’s mumbled words.
Joshua relaxed his lips as he stared at the slightly surprised Julius. “Your parents were great people. In that case, in order to be worthy of your parents, you definitely need to become a hero.”
“What…is a hero?” Julius tilted his head, but continued listening with a clear desperation in his eyes.
Joshua looked at the bookshelf in his room in response to that gaze. There were different kinds of books from all times and countries that his father had collected for him.
There was a book there that was Joshua’s favorite, and in it was the future ideal of Julius.
And so, let us hear those stories quietly and slowly. Let them be told in all sincerity for Joshua Juukulius’s wishes to be entrusted to his new ‘brother.’
—In order for them both to walk together on the path of becoming heroes as knights of House Juukulius.