The one I faced in the mansion’s courtyard was my sister.
A perfect existence.
If someone out there were to be completely loved by god, it would probably be someone like her.
(Why did it come to this)
I hold my breath, and gripped the sabre I held in one arm with both of my hands. The tip of it was shaking.
It wasn’t just fatigue. The emotion of fear was also apparent in the blade.
The sabre in my hands was real. My sister’s rapier was real as well. For us to be seriously going at each other with weapons, I never would have thought it sane.
However, the one to propose this duel was, undoubtedly, her.
Wearing a dress, she spoke as she looked at me without any interest.
“Are you still going to continue this, onii-sama?”
While she called me onii-sama now, she usually doesn’t even call my name. ‘You,’ ‘that thing,’ and other such phrases were how she usually referred to me.
But no one in the surroundings ever found fault in that.
She wore an ivory-colored dress and red shoes. Even though we were both exchanging slashes, unlike me, she wasn’t sweating at all.
As if she was going to head off somewhere formal, her outfit was well in order. The rapier that sister held in her hands was an article made by a skilled craftsman.
It was adorned with ornaments, and the hilt was inlaid with a yellow orb. The gem that couldn’t be made anymore in in the current era was a special tool that brings forth special Skills.
The rapier it had been inserted into was a Magic Item, a weapon called a Magic Sword. It was a rare good that couldn’t be bought even with a hundred gold coins.
With the sword in hand as a mismatch with her appearance, my sister’s standing figure was in a mess.
This year, she was to turn thirteen. Flowing, golden hair waved on her head. Her figure was, unbefitting of her age, quite voluptuous.
Her blue eyes stared at me coldly.
Chills raced down my spine.
Scary. I wanted to run. But I could not.
“Not yet. We’re not done yet!”
I forcefully contained my fear and stepped forward.
I had faith in my well-trained sword skills. I was confident that I wouldn’t even lose to adults.
The Walt Family… in order to succeed our noble household, I received severe training from a young age. I was confident in my blade.
“Hah, you sure are slow.”
In the past, I was also a prodigy. A wonder child. They always showered me with praise. In order to answer to my parents and my family’s expectations, I desperately put in all my effort.
But that effort, before the sister two years younger than me, was useless.
Obviously, my sister was a girl. As swordsmanship was thought of as unnecessary for her, she didn’t pick it up over the passage of years. She was just taught the basics, and all she should know was how to hold it and swing it.
Even so, I couldn’t win against her.
We clashed for an unknown amount of times, and my body was covered in numerous shallow cuts. Even when I slashed at her, she easily dodged with minimal movements.
At the same time, her whip-like rapier blade came down on my face, arms, and stomach.
“Just then, I could have given you three fatal wounds, Lyle.”
The name of the girl who said my name with a smile on her face was Celes Walt.
If there ever was one loved by the heavens, anyone would think it was the sister before me. The only one to truly hate her was me.
Having my attack dodged, my legs buckled, and I fell over on the lawn.
My body was covered in blood. My clothes were sticking to me from my sweat.
My blue hair was also sticking to me, but I didn’t pay it any mind. When I tried to stand, I saw those red shoes coming at me.
I blocked with my arms, but I couldn’t kill the momentum. My body floated a little before I rolled across the ground once more.
“Yes, truly… to think that this was our son, it’s much too pitiful.”
Where I collapsed were my mother and father.
We were surrounded by a majority of the retainers, but not a single one directed any encouragement at me.
(Father… mother… why…)
I wanted to cry. I bore the pain to stand up, and turned to find Celes’s smile awaiting me.
“What could be the problem? Is that all you were, Lyle?”
She purposely called out my name to provoke me.
“Good grief. Even when Celes only learned the bare minimum of swordsmanship.”
“It really should be Celes succeeding the Walt House.”
My parent’s words were directed at my back.
Even when they’re ones who’ll say things like this, they were once kind to me. The Sabre I held in my hands was an item they had prepared for me long ago.
『Lyle, you’re also a man of House Welt. Only the best of weapons are fitting for your hand.』
『It suits you, Lyle. As expected of our son.』
They had continued directing a kind smile at me until around the time I turned ten.
After that, my parents came to dote on my sister Celes. It was around then that they had lost interest in someone like me.
That wasn’t something limited to this family.
The retainers, who had always treated me in a way fitting the future head of the household started treating Celes as their lord.
They spoke ill of me behind my back, and kept saying I wasn’t fit to succeed.
Until I was ten, the household, and the populace had been expectantly waiting for me to take over.
But now was different. This was the reality.
“With this, Celes is the successor.”
“Good grief, even if they didn’t do something like this, all we had to do was drive the boy out.”
“Even when there’s no way he’d ever win against Celes-sama. What a fool.”
It was so mortifying that tears began to come out.
(Just what did I ever do. Why must I be so hated!?)
Even Celes was my sister. It’s not like I had hated her. I had treated her as a brother should.
Did Celes find something to hate in that?
“Ara, you’re going to cry? You truly are unsightly.”
She began laughing to herself. She looked like she’s truly having fun.
“Why are you doing this! What did I ever do to you!?”
When I raised my voice, Celes’s expression changed from smiling to expressionless.
“… How loud. It doesn’t matter to you. It doesn’t really matter to me whether you’re there or not. But since you became an eyesore, I’ll have you out of here.”
“W-what are you saying…”
She raised her left hand at me, and pointed her finger.
(She intends to use magic!?)
Looking behind, I saw that my parents and the rest of the household had noticed her actions and moved out of the way.
They had given silent approval of her attack.
“Dammit! Ice Wall!”
A wall of ice manifested in front of me.
It’s a water attribute magic, and it’s property is ‘Shield’. In order to be praised… in order to make my parents turn my way, I had lost myself in training myself.
It wasn’t just in the sword. Magic, and horse riding, and even knowledge… but in front of the existence in front of me, it was all worthless.
Showing her superiority, Celes started chanting magic after I had finished my preparations.
In contrast to me, it was a fire-attribute spell, and its level was among the basics of the basics. It was also quite a user-friendly one that merely produced a ball of fire.
The wall of ice I had created was chipped away by the fire all too easily.
It wasn’t just a single shot.
From Celes’s fingertip, she shot several hundred repetitions of the same spell. Each and every one’s output was quite high, and while my magic was supposed to triumph over it attribute-wise, I couldn’t even win against Celes’s elementary-level spells.
“Kuh, Earth Hand!”
From the ground around me, grew four arms made of earth. Each of them obeyed my will to attack her.
Celes smiled as she used the rapier in her hand to cut them all down. A rapier is, essentially, a weapon specialized in stabbing. With it, she used magic to easily cut them.
In order to win with versatility, I activated my next magic. Rocks shot up from the ground like cannon balls and tore up the lawn.
But I have no time to think about anything like that.
Without a change in expression, she casted it with a smile. A simple wall made of pure mana completely blocked my Earth Bullet.
It wasn’t on Celes’s level, but I had shot several dozen shots. Still, not a single one got through.
(I don’t have any Mana left. I’ll have to end it here…)
Even I could understand I had no prospects of victory. But I had to fight her no matter what.
Otherwise, I would be driven out of the house without having done anything.
What started this all was, as I thought, Celes’s words.
『Hey, Father. This year, onii-sama will turn fifteen and become an adult. Is this not the time to hold a match to determine the future head of the Walt House?』
Normally, males would be the ones to succeed.
But my parents said she was correct. They acknowledged our match.
『The loser will leave the house. That’s alright with you, right oniisama?』
She hated me, or perhaps she simply found me unpleasant. Like that, my fight with Celes had started.
Originally, it wasn’t something that would ever have happened.
Having a girl succeed a household wasn’t something that never happened. But in those cases, there were certain circumstances, such as the basic principles of the family.
House Walt has had a male successor for generations. From the founding first generation head, a direct line of males have handed down the family to one another.
It’s a household with over two hundred years of history.
Even so, father and mother obeyed Celes’s words and had the match with me, the eldest son, approved.
“Celes, never, to someone like you…!”
As I stepped in, I slashed at Celes with all my might. At my sister, who had the appearance of a frail girl, I cut down at full force.
From a third party perspective, I would definitely be the one at fault here. But somewhere in my heart, I understood it. My hundreds, my thousands, my hundreds of thousands of practice swings went into this blow.
The attack with all power behind it would cleave her in two if it landed.
… If it landed, that is.
It’s good that I was able to close in. The attack was the strongest I could muster at the moment.
But my stroke never reached her.
Turning half of her body to dodge the vertical slash, she swung up the rapier to deliver an attack at me. As if to torment me, she continued to carve light cuts into my body.
At this rate, it’s never going to end.
As my dodged sword dug into the ground, I released my left hand from it and swung up with my right. With the first sword stroke, it traced a V into the air.
Seeing that, Celes’s eyes opened wide.
It was my last resort.
It’s a skill I had practiced in secret, but still, it didn’t reach her. The blade cut close to her dress.
(She could even react to that?)
It was my special trump card, but Celes’s reflexes had exceeded that. However, if you count the cut along her dress, it actually worked.
(It reached. My sword reached Celes!)
Looking from the sidelines, the sight of a brother getting pissed off against his younger sister must be repulsing. But as my opponent was Celes, there’s no meaning to that.
Just see her pretty face be twisted in pain for a brief moment, made it all worth it. We both took a step back, and while out of breath, I raised the corners of my lips.
This was the most resistance I could offer. Right now, this was all I could do.
“What’s wrong, Celes?”
She looked down on me with an expressionless face, shaking. She must be feeling humiliated. How many times have I ever seen my sister Celes truly embarrassed before?
“… Don’t call my name, filth.”
By the time I noticed it, she had disappeared from my view. Her voice came from behind me.
As I turned around, her fist entered my sight.
There wasn’t any pain. By the time I noticed it, the sabre had left my hands, and I was sent sprawling in the air. Within my vision that seemed to see everything moving in slow motion, it seemed that Celes was the only one moving normally.
She approached and kicked me with those red shoes this time.
I looked up at her as I flew through the air and saw her preparing to fire off magic.
(This is bad, I’ll die!)
I tried to muster up magic defenses immediately, but the magic Celes fired was a high-class one. It was a magic that required a considerable amount of skill as a magician.
She’s really coming at me to kill me.
As I heard her disinterested voice, I also chanted.
I wrung out my remaining power, and deployed my own magic around myself. A tempest of flames engulfed me and tried to burn me to death.
I had also activated magic, but I don’t know if this will block it.
All I understood was that the magic she just used was fired in an honest attempt to kill me.
“A-am I really that much of a hindrance to you, Celes!?”
As I called out, I flopped onto the ground. The impact rocked my body and pain raced all around it.
Coupled onto the pain I hadn’t been feeling up until now, the impact caused me to writhe on the ground. And my own Sabre fell beside me.
The tip pierced the earth, and its metal had turned a dull red from the heat.
If I grasped it I would definitely be burned, but still, I reached out my hand.
I’m not thinking of anything anymore, but I simply didn’t want to part with it. To me, the blade in front of my eyes was my final bond with my parents.
The surroundings watched me. Without even thinking about saving me, they looked upon me. Looking at me miserably crawling towards it, there were even those that laughed.
The only one to walk to me was the one with a vulgar smile on her face, Celes.
“Serves you right. Although I’m a bit surprised you still managed to cling to life.”
Saying that, she broke the sword in front of my eyes. Perhaps because of the heat, or her own skill, the sabre was cut through as if it were made of not metal, but paper.
My extended hand fell to the ground in vain.
It grabbed onto the grass; I looked up with tears in my eyes. Using her left hand to fiddle with her hair, Celes had a full smile on her face.
“Oh, that was your favorite one, right? How unfortunate.”
She looked like she was having fun as she happily looked down on me. However, hearing my parent’s words, she turned around.
“Celes, that’s enough, isn’t it? Your clothes were ruined. How about we spend the day buying you a new dress?”
“Oh, that sounds nice, dear.”
There wasn’t a single soul to look at the beaten and burnt up me. They were already treating me as if I wasn’t there.
“P-please wait! Father, mother!”
I strained my voice and reached out my hand. But they merely turned their eyes to me once. Their gaze were still one where they were looking at something filthy.
And like that, I let my head fall to the ground.
I let out my voice and cried out without regards to the surroundings.
I wonder just how much time had passed, but it shouldn’t have taken that long for me to have lost consciousness. I remember myself bawling on top of the lawn, but by the time I noticed it, I was on a bed.
Bandages were wrapped around my body, and it appeared that I had received some treatment.
“Just who… Father? No, that wouldn’t happen.”
I’m not sure if I should be saying this, but father would never save me. There’s the attitude he had when he left me, but more importantly, this place wasn’t inside the manor.
I looked up at the wood grains on the ceiling, and understood this wasn’t the inside of my own home.
I wonder who saved me. It hurt to move, so I turned just my head to look over the surroundings.
I was in a wooden house, no, more like a hut. My eyes turned back to the ceiling. I had woken up, but my body still felt like it needed some sleep.
Also, I don’t want to think of anything right now.
(So I was abandoned…)
Having been abandoned by my family, Celes’s face floated into my mind. Her vulgar smile as she ridiculed me.
At that time…
“…? Who is it?”
Around me, the sound of someone speaking… no more like the feeling that someone was making a speech. I was assaulted by a strange sensation.
“There’s no one, right?”
I feel no presences around me. Thinking that I was mistaken, I closed my eyes.
I don’t know by whom, but I had been treated. I’ll sleep for a bit, and recover my stamina. My body felt heavy, and I wanted to close my eyes.
(Right now, I don’t want to think about anything…)
It probably happened a little after I had closed my eyes. I heard a voice.
『Oy, oy, that means it came, right? It definitely came!』
Rather than cheerful, the voice sounded violent. It was loud, and it laughed hardily.
(W-who? Could it be the person that saved me?)
It didn’t looked like my voice reached him. What’s more, for some reason, I feel quite tired. It’s as if my Mana was being sucked out…
『Father, please shut up for a bit.』
This time, it was a worn out voice of a young man.
(There are multiple people? Even so, what’s with this uneasy feeling…)
I can’t let out my voice. My thoughts aren’t getting through to them.
『Try understanding what grandpa’s trying to say, dad. I mean, it’s our first conversation. And I can feel that a direct descendant is nearby. He definitely carries our blood.』
This time, it really was a cheery voice.
(Three? No, there may be more.)
More than a voice, perhaps a presence. I couldn’t think that there were only three.
『I get what grandpa’s saying~. First, let’s calm down and confirm it.』
I heard a new one. Since he said grandpa, was it a family? But all of their voices sounded young, or at the very least, they don’t seem aged.
『Well, it’s our first conversation, you see. But, you know, there are things we wont notice at this rate, I think, you see.』
(Again. With this, is that the fifth voice?)
Another one rang out.
『You’re too pessimistic, pops. More importantly, I want to know what became of him. It would be nice if he noticed, but… what’s up, Brod?』
The name Brod came out, shocking me.
I mean, Brod was the name of my own grandfather.
(This is… this might mean that I’m dead.)
Are you alright with that? My inner thoughts screamed, as I strained to hear the voices.
『It’s my grandson! It’s Lyle! There’s no doubt it’s my grandson!』
It was so reminiscent of my grandfather’s voice, it made me want to give a bitter smile. He was one who was a tad bit too soft on his grandson, but even those emotions could be felt through his voice.
Still, he sounded a little younger. It didn’t have the hoarse tones of an older man.
Just what was the meaning of this? I thought, as silence spread for a while.
What a noisy bunch. All their voices seemed shocked.
(………Just what sort of situation am I in?)
On that day, my fate began to turn.