“…And then, now here I am, living a happy and satisfactory life, surprisingly.”
Dad ended his flashback narration with those words, and for a short moment, I thought that he was boasting his achievements.
However, after knowing his back story and all, I thought he deserved to be proud of what he managed to gain this day. He earned everything, and to me, he deserved them.
“A… Ah, thank you so much for sharing me your story, U-u-uncle…!!” Iris bashfully replied as she nodded gratefully. I could tell that she was looking at Dad with eyes of admiration.
…Which reminds me that it all began with the revelation of Iris being an illegitimate child… Also, the fact that Dad was actually an illegitimate child shocked me!
No wonder that I didn’t feel any air of nobility whenever I saw Firis’ pictures. There were only a few of them, too. No wonder I didn’t feel like she was familiar… If she were a noble and the legal wife of the previous Duke Hartmann, my past self should have met her at least…
I should have noticed if only I thought things more, but I didn’t even bother.
Now that I think about it, was I too scared that I might make things get complicated?
…Nah, it was probably since it wouldn’t be natural for a little kid like me to poke my nose in these kinds of things.
I couldn’t help but glance at Firis’ one and only photograph that was displayed in the room along with our family pictures. There, she was wearing a simple dress and was smiling in a garden. Her figure looked to be thin and on a closer look, she looked a bit pale. Was this taken when her disease had already progressed?
Still, she was beautiful in that picture.
Not noble and elegant, but simple and lovely.
Perhaps noticing how I was so fixated on a picture, the others seemed to set their gazes towards the same picture, and…
“Is that her photograph?” Carbuncle approached the small photograph and took it along with its frame.
Currently, Firis’ photograph became our focus. Nobody uttered their comments, including me. Perhaps we all had the same thought in our mind after hearing Dad’s story.
This person was the one that made Dad the way he was now.
Without her, Alt-nii and I might not be here on this very day.
“…She didn’t even know her own background?” Carbuncle was the one who broke the silence.
“No… She also stated it explicitly in the letter she wrote me,” Dad answered.
Letter from Firis.
In the end, Dad discovered the things that Firis left behind for him.
He didn’t really explain the full details, but in short, everything went well after he met King Titus.
“Oh? Based on your descriptions of her, I think your dragon bloodline might have come from her, after all. Yep, it totally matches the description of that frail water dragon’s species,” Carbuncle concluded after assessing Firis’ photograph.
“Though it isn’t necessary for them to have blue hair and eyes, it still adds to my conclusion. Then… good affinity with water magic, frail body that ends up developing the incurable illness… Unknown age…”
“I don’t understand!” Alt-nii’s words cut Carbuncle’s sentence off.
“What is it, Tair?”
“If Dad’s Mom is really a dragon, why didn’t she just use her amazing power to live peacefully? To settle everything? And dragons are supposed to be strong, right? What’s with that illness?”
“Well, this frail water dragon is unique, I told ya. They require to grow up in a very pure and clean environment, or they might end up… yes, developing that illness or having shorter age than the rest of us. I heard that she didn’t grow up in a good environment, so that must be why,” Carbuncle shook her head as if to say, ‘it was so unfortunate.’
Dad bitterly smiled, but his gaze seemed to say that he finally understood why Firis caught that kind of strange illness.
“As for why she didn’t use her superior power to live freely… or peacefully, well… maybe she just didn’t know that she could do that?” Carbuncle tilted her head.
“But she knew she could use water magic, right?” Alt-nii asked.
“U-uhm…,” I timidly tried to enter into their conversation. Luckily, they noticed my small voice and quieted down to let me speak.
“I read this story before, but it might explain her situation… It was about an eagle’s egg that fell into a hen’s nest and hatched along with the hen’s children. The eagle child was raised along with the chickens, acted like them, and believed that he was also a chicken. He looked at the eagles flying so high up in the sky and only wished he could do that, too, not realizing that he actually could. His siblings all said that they were just chickens, so it was as if they were dreaming to go to the sun. …Eventually, the eagle child died without the experience of flying in the sky as an eagle he was—he believed that he was a chicken all his life.”
I finished retelling the whole story that I read… when I was Reinst, actually, but it didn’t matter as it was also a story for children.
When I closed that book, I felt somehow sad that the eagle child missed his opportunity because he didn’t know the truth.
Now that I think about it, it’s weird that nobody told him he looked different and that he looked more like an eagle than a chicken, but oh well. As long as we got the moral of the story.
“Maybe… Lyra’s story held some truth. Firis might not know how to properly use her magic to its maximum power,” Dad gently patted my head as if he was proud of me—I was only retelling a story, though.
It was nothing deserving of praise nor pat, but… hehe, I won’t reject it!
“Firis only used her water magic for survival so far… she never thought of using it to fight, and eventually, she tried to use her water magic to entertain me…,” Dad added.
“Also, perhaps her magic power also weakened as her body deteriorated within time,” Carbuncle chimed in as well.
“That’s unfortunate…,” Alt-nii was being a bit sulky.
Indeed, it was unfortunate. But… if things didn’t go the way they were, the current “present” won’t be like this, I think.
The past forged the present, and the present will decide the future.
Changing one thing will lead to greater changes in the future.
“So, anyway, please have hope, Iris. I’m sure everyone here will be willing to help you to get a happy future,” Dad encouraged Iris again.
“Eh? A-ah, thank you… very much!” Iris was dazed off after all our discussions about Firis, so she was caught off guard.
“Yes, Iris! You’re my first friend—girl friend ever, so I’ll do whatever I can so you can be happy!” I forced myself—I meant, I gave Iris a surprise hug.
“Hyaa! T-thank you, Lyra…”
“Phew, I’m so glad for you, Iris…,” Harvey quietly muttered something, but I was too focused on teasing Iris that I couldn’t hear what he said quite well.
Carbuncle was evidently dejected that she couldn’t meet with “my dragon ancestor who spent their life in Non-Draconis environment”, and I could sense a hint of anger in her eyes, perhaps due to the fact that a dragon race had to suffer like so outside their homeland. However, knowing that there was nothing we could have done, and that Dad had avenged her, Carbuncle didn’t dwell on her anger for too long.
Should I say, ‘as expected of someone whose age could be more than a century despite her youthful appearance’?
On that very same night, after a brief moment of silence that followed our “good night”s, Iris suddenly opened her mouth.
“Lyra… would you like to hear my story?”
I was caught off guard by her sudden willingness to tell her story, so I reflexively said, “Eh?!”
Carbuncle opened her eyes in excitement, her electric eyes shone in the dark room—wait, were they sparkling with thunder?!
A-anyway, I got to answer Iris…
“S-sure, if you don’t mind, Iris…”
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“Hehe… I know you must have many questions, but you’re being considerate and never asked me,” Iris giggled.
Then, Iris began to narrate her story.
She spent all her childhood living as a commoner with only her mother. The two of them lived peacefully in a small town at the outskirt of the North area. Harvey was her neighbor, so they often played together. Whenever Iris was bullied because she had no father, Harvey would chase away her bullies.
Yes, Iris’ life was so peaceful and happy, even if she had no father figure in her life.
Her mother caught an illness when she was around 4. The potion that was effective to cure her illness was quite rare and expensive that they couldn’t afford it.
Iris noted… that at that time, when she cried a lot due to not having the potion, she decided that she wanted to become an alchemist, to invent various potions to help people like her mother.
I imagined the desperate Iris and couldn’t help but feel my eyes getting warmer and moist. To her, her mother was her only family, and she couldn’t do anything as she watched her mother suffer…
Her situation was quite similar to Dad’s situation, and perhaps that was why Iris was so impressed by Dad’s story.
…speaking of which, I noted Dad’s similarity to (the past) me, when he said that he tried to do anything to get Hillde-sama’s love when he thought she was really his mother.
Is it a coincidence, or is it true that birds of the same feather tend to flock together?
Anyway, Iris continued her story… that unfortunately, her mother passed away some time when she was five. Poor Iris thought that she was an orphan, but then… Baron Sorreil appeared and introduced himself as Iris’ father.
…I didn’t know how Baron Sorreil got the information about Iris. Perhaps he got the information about Iris when he received Iris’ mother’s death notification…?
Then, Iris was taken into Sorreil household and adopted the noble status. She had to be separated from Harvey and her lovely hometown, though.
Harvey and Iris were young back then, but since they practically spent most of their time together, they felt at a loss.
“At that time, I felt a little bit cheered up. I actually have a father. I’m not all alone in this world. …But then… After we returned to… uhm, my new home, he didn’t really pay me any attention. He left my care to the maids and asked me to learn many things like etiquette…,” Iris continued.
The difference between her former commoner life and her new noble life made her feel very overwhelmed. The fact that Baron Sorreil’s legal wife shunned her also didn’t help. Baron Sorreil’s other children—Iris’ half-siblings followed their mother’s attitude towards Iris and acted cold to her.
“…I felt lonelier than when I thought that I was an orphan after Mum passed away…,” Iris noted.
…Yes, I understand, Iris. You still have blood-related family, but they don’t welcome you… then, being an orphan might be better than that, I guess.
“Even at school—at my former school, I was bullied since most of my friends knew that I was an illegitimate child…,” Iris continued.
So, this was her reason to transfer school?
“But despite all that, there was still one person who was nice to me… My half-sister. She is only a few months older than me, and she said that she was so happy to have a younger sister. She always wanted to have a younger sister, so she said… She was the only person who stood up for me.”
Iris closed her eyes and smiled.
“Really? I’m glad, Iris!” I couldn’t help but say that. Iris deserved a loving family member!
“You know the rest after that, Lyra. I decided to take the entrance exams at Harmonia Academy to escape from my former school and that cold house… Out of all schools, I heard that Harmonia Academy was really good. It also has a boarding house,” Iris said.
Oh… That was why she muttered things like, “I have to enroll here,” during the entrance exams. And that explains how she was sooo nervous like her life depended on the entrance exams…
“The only thing that held me back was my kind half-sister, but she understood the situation and pushed me to go through with my school transfer,” Iris said.
I noticed that this was the end of her story, and I found myself reflexively hugging Iris.
…Really, Iris. You’ve been through a lot.
…Wait a minute, why do I feel like there’s someone else’s arm getting in my way?
“Little Sheep, you’re strong! I really want to pay back those who dared to bully my little sheep!!” Carbuncle—the owner of the arm that got in my way, or in other words, she was also hugging Iris—declared with a menacing pose.
“Eekh?! I-it’s fine?!” Iris was surprised at Carbuncle’s words and quickly tried to calm her down.
“It’s okay, you have us now!” I didn’t want to lose to Carbuncle, so I tried to assure her with my words, as well.
“Hehehe…,” Iris laughed.
Uhh, yes! This precious daughter of mine—no, I mean, friend of mine, I will definitely protect and cherish you!!
“Thank you, Lyra, Carbuncle… Thanks for listening to me and for being my friends… U-uhm, since we have to wake up early tomorrow to go to the… Capicastle, so… can you let me go now so we can sleep? N-not that I hate your hugs, but…”
“Oops, you’re right!”
“Oh my, what time is it now?! L-let’s sleep!”
In response to Iris’ subtle reminder and request, we recalled the fact that we were going to Capicastle to play and to compare the treasure chests there, so…
For our field study tomorrow, we have to get enough rest!!