“Hmm, ah, you are so similar to your big brother, huh,” Dahlia-san said with her usual signature fan covering her mouth.
Wait, this fan she’s using seems fancier than the one she used in the past. Time really has changed everything.
Anyway, I have snapped from the conflicting thoughts inside my head.
Though… I feel like the atmosphere here has changed, but I wonder if it’s just my imagination?
Could it be my mental condition, as I’m feeling quite stressed here?
“T, thank you for coming to my sixth birthday party,” I politely curtseyed.
“Right, congrats on your debut to noble society, little girl,” she set aside her fan and smiled. That was the kind of smile I was used to seeing in the past.
As of now, I’m looking at the lady in front of me. Her perfume scent has changed for a bit, and I can see the signs of aging affecting her figure, her skin, and her hair.
“Hmm, right. The way you conduct yourself is indeed worthy of praise. At such a young age, too. Obviously, my late daughter was better at it, but considering your age, it’s not that bad,” she commented.
‘My late daughter was better at it…’
Do you know… I was your late daughter.
I am the same person as your late daughter, although right now I am assuming different identity.
My soul—our souls are one and the same.
However, there is no way I can say that.
…Mother, I have so many things I want to ask you.
Have you ever loved me for I am, not for my achievements?
Were you really glad for having given birth to me?
Did you feel sad when you knew I was dead?
Did you regret not pampering me more when I was alive?
Or were you only regretful because you won’t have your daughter becoming the queen?
…this is not good, I can feel that stingy sensation in my eyes—I can’t become teary in front of her.
“Thanks for the compliment, Dahlia-sama…,” I can only say that.
Despite having so many things I actually want to say.
…right, perhaps God indeed made me reincarnate in order to learn all those things—not only the fate of my cell donor. However, with how everything is, how will I be able to get the answers?
There is no way I can ask her… not like this. No. I don’t want everyone to know who I was.
But I want to know… how she really felt about me—about Reinst.
“Your late daughter must have been very good at conducting herself in noble lady’s manners, then?”
…I said it.
I managed to say it.
My former mother who was about to step aside to let my former little brother stand in front of me, quickly halted her movement and looked back at me with her stern gaze.
“Yes. She was truly talented, and obedient. It was such a pitiful fate that she had to die just right after she turned thirteen… Oh, Reinst, you had so many wonderful things waiting for you in the future…”
She closed her eyes and covered almost her entire face with her fan, so I wasn’t sure what kind of expression she was making.
From the way her voice wavered, I could tell that she felt sad or remorseful—at least I know she felt sad and remorseful of my death, but…
Was it because for who I was, or because of my achievements?
I know for one that mother was really, really good at putting a pretense. So…
At that time, Domi quickly supported Mother and put his hand on her shoulders.
“Sorry, Mother was reminded of my late sister,” He curtly said—my, he’s also a short talker, like Father?
“No… I’m sorry for… touching a sensitive topic,” I quickly apologized back.
“No, it’s alright. Sorry for causing you to be uneasy,” Mother quickly reorganized her posture and restored to her usual self.
“Domi, now you should greet today’s princess, too,” she then stepped aside, and Domi sighed a bit as he positioned himself in front of me.
“Greetings, my name is Dominick Robin Grabberton, the next heir to Grabberton. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He took my hand and lightly kissed its back.
…………………while it was a … perfectly gentleman thing to do… you were… you were… my little brother, after all……….. I felt so awkward.
I mean, sure, some of the young men his age would give this kind of salutation to a young lady, but…
If it were a normal little girl—upon seeing a handsome boy older than her doing this kind of gesture, I think she would be swooned—yeah, I’m sure. Ahh, I can’t, I can’t.
In the first place, where did you learn that kind of gesture, Domi? When I was your sister, I can’t picture you being like this at all…
“Congratulations on your sixth birthday, Lyra-ojousama. May you grow up to be a great noble lady,” he said.
Uh, right. His voice—the timid little boy’s voice is replaced with a low, deep voice that could make any lady swoon.
His face—ah, right. He has grown up to be quite handsome. What is it? He is similar to Mother—but there are some similarities to Father, too.
He still keeps his bangs long enough that some part of it may cover his amber eyes—but I think this kind of hairstyle made him look cooler.
Oh, right. Compared to my past self, he took after Mother a lot. Same curly brown hair, huh. If he were a female, I bet he would be the splitting image of her.
How he has grown up to do such a daring salutation that’s quite famous among noble ladies. His hand that held mine—it was strong, yet gentle. I can sense that his hand was used to gripping swords—I mean, this kind of callus…
Aah, why do I keep being reminded of my past self today?
“Thank you, Domi-san,” I replied.
When I look at my little brother who’s developed a sturdy body build, I can’t help but think…
Yeah, our role has been completely reversed. I am now the “little kid” and he is now “the adult”.
I wonder if his swordsmanship skill has far surpassed mine?
Ah!! Speaking of which…
“Domi-san, Grabberton family is a swordsman’s family, right?”
Ah—as expected, short answer, but at least he added why in it, so I can continue the conversation.
“Uhm, so… Dad is giving me the option to learn melee weapons and I am interested in swords… ah, do you bring your sword along?”
It’s actually a question that I know the answer.
Yup, we may not bring our weapons inside such parties like this, however, we are accustomed to bringing it and leaving it in carriages or other storage places to use just in case the needs arise.
Obviously, he should be bringing his cherished sword.
Which is… right, the Grabberton family’s heirloom—the Orgueil, the powerful sword that’s said to be sacred—bestowed by the gods to the first founder of Grabberton clan… or so I was told. The sword that Father used to carry around—I wonder if it’s already given to Domi, or if Domi has been given the privilege of using it?
I saw a glimpse of surprise flashing before his eyes, but he quickly regained his composure.
“Yes… I do bring my sword along with me.”
“Can you… show me how swordsmanship look like?”
He was surprised—of course.
Yes, this is my idea—I will have a look at his display of Grabberton swordsmanship skill, then whenever someone gets suspicious of my swordsmanship having some similarities to them, I will just say that I have witnessed their technique in the past and I loved it, so I tried to imitate them—yup, I still have to change my style so it won’t be that similar!
Otherwise, it would be very suspicious regardless of my reasoning.
“But how can I show it to you here?” He asked.
“Oh… you’re right…,” I hung my head dejectedly—but then I remember!
At times like this, there is one weapon I can use to make sure I can get what I want!
…This is not how I was used to be like—could it be due to child hormone?
But yeah, at times like this… I can use a child’s method!
“Wait a second, let me ask my dad first about this!!” I quickly excused myself in front of him and turned to nag my dad who was talking with the other nobles. Luckily, he was just next to me. Enough so he could activate his “Lyra Anti-Marriage Talks Radar”.
“Dad, dad!” I said as I pulled the edge of his hem.
“Wait a second–,” he said so to the nobles he was talking to, as he quickly turned to look at me.
Bravo, Dad! You are too kind, to halt your adult talks just for me!!
Sometimes, I love having an oyabaka dad.
“What is it, Lyra?”
“Dad, I want to see how swordsmans use their swords as I am interested in using swords as my weapon! Can I take a look, please?”
“Huh, and how are you going to take a look?”
“Over there—there is the next head of Grabberton! He said he brought his sword along!” I acted as childish as I could.
“But Lyra, it won’t be good if you force our guests—”
Looks like Domi overheard our bickering as he quickly approached us and said—
“Valkyane-san, I’m fine with displaying my swordsmanship skill as long as you permit. And as long as there is the suitable venue, and… target or opponent,” he gently said.
…Domi, you… I don’t know if you’re being kind or if you want to show off—just like how Grabberton clan members like to boast their power and pride and everything—but for me, right now… you are kind!!
It doesn’t matter which one motivated you, as long as I can get what I want—no good, I’m becoming more and more spoiled as time passes by. And I should be mature with my mental age, too.
“For the venue, we can use the open space near the garden—it was formerly Hartmann clan’s training grounds. As for target or opponent…,” Dad seems to be thinking.
“Wait, before that, are you sure it’s okay?” He suddenly turned around to look at Domi.
Unexpectedly, the corner of his mouth was raised as he answered Dad—Domi’s smiling, and this one looks like a genuine smile!
“It would be a nice gift from the Grabberton clan, for your daughter’s special birthday,” he continued to explain.
“Thank you for your kind thoughts, Domi-kun. Let’s see… It would be best if you’re fighting another swordsman so you two can display your skills to full extent rather than other weapon wielders, right? But I wonder…”
“An opponent in a swordsmanship match, huh…,” I also joined them—imitating their thoughtful expression as we had our hands on our chins, thinking.
I have come so far as to let Dad and Domi both agreeing to my idea—but I can’t provide this one here.
Should I go and ask Father? Will he agree?
No, hmm, Clyde? Clyde will surely agree…
They are all from the same family, so they would be very familiar with one another…
But it’s alright, no problem… right?
“Uhm what about asking another person from Grabberto—”
Before I managed to finish my sentence, suddenly—
A bold and daring voice of a young girl could be heard.
Exasperated, all three of us looked at the direction of the voice.
Just right behind us, a girl around 12-13 years old of age is raising her hand.
Her long soft-black hair reaches her waist—no, it isn’t black, but a very deep purple, as the thin end of her hair is glowing light purple. She is wearing a good combination of dress with the outer garment that has Naraka or “Oni” style—a type of kimono as the outer garment… if I’m not wrong, that’s how it’s called. Yes, kimono.
Her violet eyes are looking back at us enthusiastically. Two small curly horns are protruding from around her temporal lobes.
Could she be…?!
“Ah, where are my manners? Pleased to meet you, my name is Fumitsuna Yuzuru. Ah, Yuzuru is my given name and Fumitsuna is my family name, in case you aren’t used to how Naracian names work.”
Naracian names—the phrase we used for names like Yuzuru’s—the typical naming sense that Naraka residents are using. Aside from the “flavor” of the name, the order is different, as it’s [Surname] [Given name] for them.
No problem, I’m actually quite familiar with other naming systems.
I learned it in school—right, obviously nobody knows.
She approached the three of us and curtseyed.
“I would like to volunteer as Domi-san’s opponent in this match to show Lyra-san how swordsmen fight. After all, I’ve been interested in sparring with a member of Grabberton clan,” she confidently said.
“With this, I believe everything is complete, Valkyane-san?”
Stunned by this kind of development, Dad stuttered.
“Ah, y, yeah. If that’s the case, let me arrange everything first.”
“Then, we shall be preparing our weapons, as well.”
Shortly after this exchange, Dad asked the helpers to prepare the training grounds and informed Mom about it. I could see Mom’s stunned face.
Dad then proceeded to make an announcement.
“Due to sudden development of events, the next heir of Grabberton clan and Fumitsuna clan will be bestowing us today with their irreplaceable gifts—a display of their treasured clan’s swordsmanship. For those who are interested to witness this rare spectacle, please follow the personnels on stand-by near the back doors. For those who want to continue their activities in this hall, then please feel free to do so.”
Of course, this was proceeded by an uproar.
Two factions quickly formed—those who are eager to watch the match, and those who are uninterested.
The royal family, including Luca and Kiri belong to the former faction.
“This is nice, I can learn what their style looks like and study from them! Kiri, you should take a look, too!” Luca said to me as we assumed the best position to view the match.
Mom and other volunteering magicians formed a barrier to protect the audience should anything go awry.
They also cast protective spells to both Domi and Yuzuru, so they won’t be fatally injured.
“Thank you for granting my daughter’s request. In case of injuries, I will be healing them afterwards, so please feel free to enjoy your match,” Mom said as she finished casting the protective spells on both of them.
Domi has taken off his outer coat, as I can see how Yuzuru has changed her dress into what I think is her combat kimono. She also tied her long hair in a high ponytail, not wanting to risk it being accidentally cut off, I think.
I can see that she has scabbards—each on her left and right waist—one is shorter than the other, though. As expected of Fumitsuna family—dual-sword wielder, huh?
Meanwhile, Domi is only using one sword—one broadsword, I assume. But when he showed his sword—I was exasperated. It was the Orgueil?!
Yuzuru did the same thing—she also unsheathed the two swords and wielded them.
“Is that Grabberton family’s sword, Orgueil?” Yuzuru asked.
“And aren’t you wielding Fumitsuna family’s swords—no, katana and wakizashi… if I’m not wrong?” Domi replied.
“Yes, you’re right. These are my treasured girls—Muramasa and Koakuma. They still belong to my father, but soon, I will inherit them.”
With her confirmation, the audience got very noisy.
“Wha, what?! Not only are we going to witness their battle, but they will be using their family’s signature weapons, as well?!”
“Wow, I’m glad I’m here!!”
“This is a rare experience, I’m telling ya!”
“Goodness, to think that we are witnessing the match between the sword-wielding ducal houses in a magician ducal house’s birthday party!”
…yes, it’s a weird situation, indeed.
Domi launched a prideful smile.
“For this has turned into a match between two ducal families, our Grabberton house has decided that I must use this Orgueil.”
Yuzuru replied with a boastful smile, too.
“The same goes for me, I need to show everyone the beauty of our Fumitsuna house’s beloved Muramasa and Koakuma.”
The two people locked eyes as they positioned themselves in their respective fighting stance.
The referee—that would be Dad.
“Wow, Lyra, you managed to pull all this?” Alt-nii is standing besides me along with Clavis, his eyes are sparkling in anticipation.
“I, I didn’t expect things would turn this way…,” I timidly replied him.
Yes, who would have expected that things would turn out this way??
But in any case…
“Are you two ready?”
Since it has come to this…
I guess I can only enjoy the spectacle.
“Well then, the match shall start… now!!”
Thanks for the meal!