There it was, down on the ground. A helmet made from metal with small openings for the eyes and a somewhat wider bottom for easy fitting.

This was Roland’s spare helmet that didn’t really fit Bernir’s armor that he had made. It was also not fastened to Roland’s face as it was back down in the dungeon. During his rescue sprint, he had forgotten about this part.

He did not think that he needed to fasten his helmet tightly to his body. This was supposed to take around ten minutes before Robert and Lucille left. He had not foreseen that the runic groupie would be attracted by his wind turbines so much that she would ignore the warning signs.

“Sir. Wayland… your face.”

Lucille was the first one to speak up. She looked at Roland's face and then slowly moved her gaze towards Robert. This turned to a back and forth, it was clear that the two young men had similar facial features.

A similar jawline, a similar head shape, and hair color even their noses were somewhat the same. There were enough differences to keep them apart but also many similarities for people that were familiar with one of them to notice it. Lucille was a person like that, she knew Robert’s face quite well and could see the resemblance.

“Roland? Is that really you?”

Robert broke the silence before Lucille could ask a question. Just like Roland was able to recognize his brother at a glance, Robert was able to do the same.

“Roland? Not Wayland?”

Lucille asked while still being confused.

“Roland? Never heard of him.”

Roland after moving away from Lucille quickly turned around and grabbed the helmet that fell off from his head. Without turning around he tried to place it back on his head. Maybe if he played it off he could get Robert to think that he just resembled his long-lost brother. Before he could place the helmet on his head though, he felt a firm hand grasp his shoulder and yanking him back.

“Stop pretending, do you think I’m stupid? I can recognize my own brother!”

It seemed that it was over, the secret was out. Roland didn’t know what to say, he froze. Many thoughts went through his head, he remembered his old life back at the Arden estate. He did not want to go back, he was just about to build his life back up in this city.

This was supposed to be a new start for him with no shackles binding him. His own little life that he was fully responsible for and that he could shape in the way that he wanted to.

Would running away be the only way? Would he need to escape to a different country to be free of his noble title? His mind raced, old memories of his old life where he spent whole days slaving away at his job making money for others.

Then they were replaced by more recent memories of the fencer that had attacked him about six years ago. He still did not know who from the Arden estate had bribed that man to go kill him. The only person that he could exclude was his father, the rest even Robert here could have been the perpetrator.


Before he could utter a word Robert did something strange. Roland expected his half-brother to be mad or stunned but instead, he moved in closer. He was charged and at first, he thought that he was being attacked but that was just Robert’s way of hugging.

“By the gods, you are alive!”

Instead of any hits, he received a big hug from his brother.

“Oh my…”

Lucille moved her hand towards her mouth and was unsure what to do. She watched as two armored men embraced each other, at least one of them. Roland had his hands spread apart in an awkward fashion as he did not expect this act of affection from his half-brother that bullied him in their youthful days.

“Um, Robert?”

After a moment he gently tapped his half-brother’s shoulder which somehow brought him back to his senses. He moved away and the bear hug came to an end.

“You were alive…”

“I guess…”


Robert’s face switched from one of joy to one of rage. Before he knew it, Roland could see a large fist coming his way. This was an unexpected turn of events, so even though his class multiplier gave him higher physical stats than Robert, he was unable to dodge this punch.

“Hey, what’s the commotion about?”

Bernir stormed out of the workshop to witness his boss being punched. He flew for a few meters and even tumbled once from the force of this hit.

“Is everything okay in there? What was that explosion?”

“Ye? What’s going on in there? Let us in!”

The voices of Armand and Lobelia could also be heard. The knocks on the gate turned into loud thumps as it was clear that someone was trying to ram it open.

“Sir. Robert, please calm down!”

Lucille tried shouting but for the first time, Robert ignored her calls and charged towards Roland that was slowly getting off the ground.


Roland spit out some blood after being sucker-punched. The world was slightly spinning as he tried to recover, his half-brother wouldn’t give him a chance though. This didn’t mean that he would just let himself be beaten up.

Back on his feet, he put his guard up. Both men were wearing metal armor so even when Robert punched Roland’s arm guards he wasn’t hurting his fingers. After taking a couple more blows Roland finally caught Robert’s fist with his hand.

The second fist was also caught by Roland which turned the fistfight into a battle of strength. This competition would go to the younger brother that had a higher combined strength stat.

Robert didn’t seem to want to give up though, as his hands were trembling and being pushed back he moved in for a headbutt. A clean hit on Roland’s nose sent blood splashing everywhere.

Roland didn’t falter though, his grip was kept on Robert’s fists. His head flew back but it quickly returned as he smashed his forehead into his brother’s nose himself. Robert’s nose made a cracking sound as he rebounded from the hit.

Both of them moved a step back, their noses bleeding and brows crinkled. It didn’t seem that the fight was over but for Roland, it was time to get serious. The two moved forward, both of them going into hand-to-hand combat positions.

Before the brotherly fight could continue a large ball of snow landed between them. It exploded into chunks of ice that caused the two to jump back.

“Sir. Robert, Sir. Wayland, please get a hold of yourselves!”

It was an ice-type spell used by Lucille. It caused its targets to be covered in a thin layer of ice without causing much damage. She quickly ran between the two and it was clear that she would not allow another altercation to happen.

“Don’t worry Boss, I’ll help you!”

After Lucille’s spell Bernir appeared with his trusty runic launcher in hand. He had the weapon up and ready, pointing it at the man that attacked Roland.

“Hey, get this thing off me!”

“No, don’t hurt Agni, he is a good boy!”

In the back, at the gate where he left Agni, Armand started shouting. The Ruby Wolf followed the instructions his master gave him. He was in the process of chomping down on Armand’s ankle after the pugilist forced himself through the gate.

Lobelia on the other hand was clinging to one of Armand’s arms and trying to keep him from punching Agni. Her protests seemed to be working as Armand found himself not delivering any blows to the guard wolf.

Roland gave out a sigh before straightening himself out. He moved his hand to his nose which was dripping blood. He looked to Robert who was doing the same, the only difference was that he had managed to break Robert’s while his own was still mostly in one piece.

“We should talk.”

“I agree…”

The two brothers nodded at each other while Lucille gave out a sigh of relief.

“Put that thing away Bernir, Agni let go of that idiot's leg.”

Roland called out to his two allies that followed his order, it was time to move the conversation inside of the hose where the nosy guild members couldn’t hear them.


“Thank you.”

“I’ll be outside if you need me, Boss.”

Bernir passed some tea over to Roland and Robert while the two sat opposite each other. Lucille looked between the two and followed the half-dwarf outside. The door to the house was closed and the two half-brothers were finally left alone.



The two men looked at each other without talking. After the emotional outburst, it seemed that none of them knew how to follow it up. Their wounds had been healed by some healing potions, so talking was not a problem.

“That was a nice right hook.”

“You’ve become quite strong as well.”

“Well uh.”

“Why did you do it?”

Robert asked.

“Why did I do what?”

“Yes, why did you not come back to the estate. Everyone thinks that you are dead, father went away to look for you.”

“That old man did? Impossible, why would he care about someone like me?”

Roland replied in a mocking tone, he could believe a lot of things but not that his 'daddy' was concerned with him that much.

“What do you mean? Father...”

“That old man only cares about how he and the Arden estate look, let us not talk about him.”

Roland started becoming irritated when the theme changed to his father. He wasn’t sure why but he disliked that man. He could not see him as a proper fatherly figure but as a tyrant that was mostly interested in upholding his family name. He was also the reason that the original Roland had died.

“What do you intend to do?”

“What do you mean? You must return home with me, we must inform the family that you are alive!”

Robert smacked his palm into the table as he shouted.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea…”

“Why? Why do you reject the Arden name? Do you wish to spend your life as a commoner?”

“Yes, that is my intention. There is nothing that you or anyone from that estate can offer me.”

Robert looked a bit stupefied, it was as if he could not fathom why anyone would reject the title of a noble. For someone whose main goal in life was to prove that he was worthy of the noble title, this was a hard pill to swallow. It was as if Roland was denying the path that Robert had chosen for himself.

“It can’t offer you anything? You jest. Listen Roland, I know that I have not been kind to you when we were younger but bonds between family can not be broken this easily, return with me, I’m sure father will understand.”

Roland was a bit surprised that Robert actually apologized to him for being a little shit when they were younger. The second part where he still intended to bring him home still bothered him though. It didn’t seem that Robert would let this go and there weren’t many things that Roland could do to stop him.

Killing him was thrown out of the window, there was no way that Roland would go through with something like that. Begging and convincing him would not work either.

There was a moment of weakness in Roland’s mind in which he thought that holding Lucille hostage and making Robert sign a contract of silence would be a good idea. Making more enemies with the nobles that were from Lucille's side was a big problem. Then there was the last option, telling him the truth.

“Stop, I can’t return to the estate, at least not before I’m strong enough.”

“Can’t return? Strong enough? What do you mean?”

Roland gave out a sigh before leaning back in his chair.

“Fine, I’ll tell you the truth. It started when our father allowed me to leave the estate when I was ten years old…”

Robert was given the real reason why Roland was skeptical about returning home. There was someone trying to kill him and that someone was probably in the Arden estate. He told him about the man that he killed together with the three adventurers and how he then fled the city without disclosing their real identities.

“That’s what happened… I never knew… but who would want to do such a thing to a member of the Arden estate…”

“Your mother Francine? Reyner, Edwin… should I list out the entire family? If we weren’t talking now, I’d still consider you as well.”

“Mother? She would never!”

Robert slammed his fist into the table once more but soon started thinking.

“She would not…”

“Wouldn’t she?”

Roland asked while Robert leaned back some more, it seemed that even the son wasn’t sure if the mother wouldn’t pull a stunt like that.

“She never liked me, no one ever did, not even you. You know how they all are, being the son of a commoner is reason enough but you seem to have realized it by now.”

Roland shrugged, he could already tell that Robert had been discriminated against by the other nobles and that he knew how it worked. He would need to gain many merits before his status could be on equal footing with the pure breed nobles.

“I can’t imagine our elder brothers being behind this…”

“Can’t you?”


Robert crossed his hands over one another while lowering his head as he started thinking. Their older brothers were different, they were real full-blown nobles. They had no stigma of being born from a commoner mother behind them.

Reyner was the firstborn and Edwin was the second. Even though they came from the same mother it was known that they didn’t like each other that much.

Wentworth their father didn’t care about anything like age so it was an open contest to which one of them would be the heir. Even Roland and Robert could be seen as potential threats to their success. Thus Roland did not think it would be that strange for one of them to take a chance on eliminating him.

Roland also knew that the two were also cold towards Robert as well as him. The two were older so they were already out working as squires or trainy knights even when he was younger. Neither he nor Robert probably knew what those two were doing or thinking.

“You are correct, I can’t say that they would be above it. Brother Reyner and Edwin were always busy with their training...”

It seemed that Robert also agreed with him, he as well didn’t really know the true character between these two.

“This is why… I must implore you to not say any of this to any of our family members.”

“But I’m sure we can trust our father, if we bring it up with him, he will help us find the culprit!”

“You really do trust our father don’t you?”

Roland leaned back while replying in a mocking tone. He knew that Robert was trying to get into the good graces of their father and placed him up on a pedestal.

“What if it’s Edwin? What if it’s your mother? Would he choose them over me?”

There was a clear hierarchy between nobles and Roland was right on the bottom. Even if one of the culprits was revealed they might not even be punished. Roland expected nothing more than a slap on the wrist, maybe house arrest and Robert also knew this.

“Also why would I want to leave, I like it here.”

“You want to remain in this small town in the middle of nowhere as a simple blacksmith?”

“Simple blacksmith? Could a simple blacksmith overpower a trained knight that is older than him?”

“Overpower? If we continued I would have…”

“You would have what? Did you forget about these?”

Roland replied while moving his hand up. He was still wearing his runic gauntlets and as he injected mana into them the runic traces lit up. During the fight, he was not trying to kill his brother, which would be quite easy to do if he activated his runic attack spells.

“You changed…”

Robert quieted down after seeing the glowing magic gauntlet. From his previous experiences in the dungeon, he knew that he would not stand a chance in an all-out fight with Roland. Even less if he was wearing a full set of runic gear.

“Can I trust you to keep my secret?”

“Do you truly not wish to return home?”

“Not now… maybe in the future, I will.”

Roland replied he would have to put his trust in his older brother. Since adventuring with him down in the dungeons he could tell that he wasn’t a bad person. If he gave him his word, he would most likely follow through.

“I can make that promise but under one condition. You’ll have to stay in contact.”

“Stay in contact?”

“Yes, we can use Lady Lucille’s crystal, you can use it, correct?”

“Yes, I do have the mage skills required for it…”

Roland was a bit surprised, his older brother seemed more concerned with his well-being than he had previously thought. When he arrived here, he looked to be more of a pompous prick but he was showing clear concern for a family member.

“If it’s just that…”

Roland nodded at the request, if it was just what he wanted then it was fine.

“ and Lucille? Planning to get married?”

“Huh, what? Me and the lady? That’s preposterous!”

Robert was surprised at the quick change of theme that he almost fell down from his chair.

“Really? It seems like she likes you.”

“She does?”

Roland narrowed his eyes at his older brother. He wasn’t sure if he was just dense or the barrier in status was keeping him from committing.

“Well, I wish you both luck, you’ll probably need it…”

The two brothers continued to converse for a while longer. Which left the group of four people and one wolf in the dark.


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