I guess those words are true. I can no longer deny it as I’ve experienced it countless times.
The most recent proof to that sentence would be how me and my friends quickly adapted to Riviera’s current predicament—getting involved in the skirmishes between Naraka and Cielle that sometimes the atmosphere turned gloomy.
Well, as I said before, it didn’t affect our daily lives so much, so I guess that was how we were so quick to put that in the back of our minds.
Finally, another year had passed.
Sadly for me, Luca turned a year older way faster than me.
I am definitely the more mature one, so why is the world so unfair?
As Month 2 had just passed, I thought that I’d have to wait for quite a while before I could celebrate another birthday of those close to me… I mean, Iris and Leticia’s birthdays would come soon on Month 5!
…Ah, Month 4 was my birthday… yes, ‘was’.
I had a mixed feeling about my birthday, as at some point in my life as Reinst, I stopped having any expectation for my birthday, and felt like I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday—though people used to say that a person’s birthday should be their happiest day… It was the day they were born to this world, after all.
That being said, I still unconsciously looked over the date and counted for my past birthday—for Reinst’s birthday. I even specifically requested some cakes or food on Day 13 Month 4—it was the food I loved as Reinst.
(PS: My current preference differed from my past self’s to some degree, life was so strange, huh? Here I thought I could love the same food even if I was reincarnated.)
At least, that was what I could do to celebrate my past self’s birthday. No one in this family questioned my request, as I would sometimes also ask for specific food…
Everyone even said that among all who lived in this house, I was the ‘food maniac’.
…But guys, have you realized that sometimes I don’t have any appetite and just eat for the sake of survival??
Please, realize this side of me, too?
Anyway, since I didn’t expect to celebrate the others’ birthdays before Iris and Leti’s, the sudden arrival of an unexpected invitation baffled me.
“Lyra, how’s school going? Do you have any big event at school around Day 27 Month 3?”
Dad suddenly asked me one day at the beginning of Month 3. His expression was quite complicated, so I wasn’t sure what he was getting at…
“Uh… School is fine… Dad, I can manage just fine. What’s wrong? Are we going to have any event on Day 27 Month 3? Did something happen?”
Unable to comprehend if it would be a good or a bad thing, I asked as I tilted my head.
“Dad, what about me?” Alt-nii suddenly asked in curiosity.
“Well, Altaire… You can choose not to go if you don’t want. But as for Lyra… This… This…,” Dad suddenly turned speechless, making the whole matter seem more mysterious to me.
“Eh? What’s it, Dad?”
Come on, don’t do this to me! You know that your little daughter is one curious cat, right?
At that time, Mom chuckled.
“Come on, Cyan! How can you not explain something as simple as this?” Mom jokingly slapped Dad’s shoulders, and Dad could only show a bitter smile.
Eh? What is it, what is it?
“Lyra, we’ve got an invitation. Remember the Loera family?” Mom asked.
Suddenly, something clicked in my head.
Clyde’s birthday had already passed… Ah, come to think of it, I didn’t attend to his birthday parties. Dad was usually the one who appeared, since they were fellow dukes.
Nicole’s birthday was at the second half of the year… so… that could only mean…
Right, Clyde and Nicole had a son!!
They even brought his name up in one of our conversations…
Uhm, let me browse the folders in my mind…
Come on, Lyra, you’re still a small child, aged not even 8 yet. You should have a fresh and good memory!!
“Ah, could it be the Loera family’s son—Ein’s birthday?” I asked after recalling the nickname that either Nicole or Clyde said before.
“Eh? You already know of their son, Lyra?” Dad’s expression wasn’t good…
For the sake of my overprotective Daddy, I should try to coax him!!
“Eh, well, Clyde-san or Nicole-san mentioned about him to me before, and I kinda remember his name…”
“As expected of Lyra, you can even remember the name well, though they just mentioned it briefly!” Mom suddenly said full of pride.
“…What else did they say when they mentioned their son to you?” Dad was still suspicious…
“Uh… Nothing? I don’t remember,” I tried to play safe here!
“Whoa, Loera family’s son?!” Alt-nii chimed in.
“Mmhm. He’s turning six years old this month… or on Day 27 Month 3, to be more precise. As usual, the Loera family sent us an invitation… And you see,” Mom glanced a little at Dad.
Dad remained with his bitter smile, as if he didn’t really want to break the news to me.
“In the letter, they specifically requested you to come, Lyra! They must have really liked you—”
Mom, Mom, Mom, please pick another word!! Don’t trigger Dad any more than this!!!
“Is that why I can choose not to come and you asked Lyra, Mom, Dad?” Alt-nii asked.
“Yeah, though the six birthday is quite important that most nobles should come, but they will understand if you are sick or too preoccupied with school,” Mom explained the basic rule again.
“You don’t really need to fulfill those formalities if you don’t feel like it, Alt, Lyra. You’ll just do fine, and I can just represent the whole family,” Dad suddenly said.
…Uhh, right. Dad played hokey back during his childhood, revolting against the family and always gave any kind of excuses to not attend the noble parties.
Hence, he was notorious as the [mysterious Hartmann’s second son] during his era… Many gossips were there about him—but most of the gossips arose due to the fact that he was the son of the Hartmann family.
Oh well, I knew that there were some nobles that also didn’t attend these kinds of parties so often, so much for the unsaid rule of “you must attend”!!!
“I don’t mind! I’m quite curious about the North territory, Mom, Dad!!” Alt-nii enthusiastically replied.
“Uhm… I’d like to come as well, Mom, Dad!!” I quickly added.
“Really? It won’t exhaust you that it might hinder your school?” Dad reluctantly asked.
“…You’re overthinking it, Cyan. The children want to go, so we should just go together. I’ll send a reply to the Loera family,” Mom settled everything decisively.
While it might be true that I felt awkward and nervous whenever I had to meet Clyde and Nicole—put an emphasis on Nicole—I still want to come.
After all, considering that I was Reinst… That kid—Ein, he would be my nephew.
Besides, I couldn’t imagine the child of Nicole and Clyde, so I must see him at all cost.
…Last thing! I wonder how much has the Loera family’s residence changed? I visited Nicole several times before…
Based on my memories, the North territory is one wealthy territory! The North area is like the center of trades in Riviera, although the Capitol is the capital of Riviera country, where the ruler resides. The North territory’s development is credited to the Loera family who’s so good at thinking of strategies. Strategies to develop their territory, to be more precise.
Now that I think about it, one of the Loera clan members is the current chancellor. Well, the Loera family values knowledge the most—and they are called as the clan of traders or scholars.
…How could Clyde—who originated from a swordsman family such as Grabberton—be accepted into Loera family?
……Eeh well, Clyde was a bright kid back then, though it was mostly due to the pressure of getting the “heir” title. He couldn’t be falling behind the standard that much, so he was “passable”?
Time passed so quickly as nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen. Other than some preparations like dress, accessories, and gifts, I spent my days as ordinarily as ever.
For long distance travel like this that required such a short time, we’d be using the teleportation portal service. In a ‘whoosh!’, we’d arrive at the North territory!!
Though my family wasn’t as wealthy as the other ducal families, apparently, we had a nice budgeting, so it wasn’t really a problem.
I admit that I love traveling leisurely using carriages or other transports. I can daydream while looking at different scenes, what else is more relaxing than that? I’m sure that there are some others who think the same way as I do.
And after talking with Luca, it seems like the royal family might also come—though it will just be the king… and eeh, Luca’s also coming?!
“Well, we’re of the same generation, and as he is the only child of Loera’s main family, he will most likely succeed the clan as the head. Father said that I should get to know the people I will be working with in the future.”
Such was his reasoning.
That might be true, but little Ein is still six… wait no, he is not even six years old yet at this time!
A person’s personality might change quite considerably after one turns into an adult—but I guess it won’t hurt to know someone as early as possible. We can identify the changes easier that way… I guess?
…I wonder what kind of kid my nephew is?
Therefore, right after school, Alt-nii and I quickly returned home to prepare.
As soon as we were done, we boarded the fast mana-powered carriage to the teleportation portal and teleported all the way to the North territory.
Aaaaah, I felt so dizzy when the teleportation happened!!
The sensation was so strange—and even after experiencing it quite a lot of times in my two lifetime, I still couldn’t get used to it without feeling dizzy.
We quickly traveled to Loera family’s residence.
As I observed the surrounding—ah, this is really the North territory! The atmosphere here is quite different than that of the West and East… It feels more developed here, and even the commoners or low-rank nobles seem to be wealthier.
And then there is the Loera clan’s residence!
Among the Four Dukes of Riviera, Loera clan’s definitely the biggest clan, okay? There is the main house and branch houses…
Meanwhile, the Grabberton and Fumitsuna are more or less on the same level…
With the Hartmann family as the smallest clan so far. Yup, so small that it can’t be called a clan anymore.
Dad, Mom, where are our relatives? None??
What happened in the past? Were they all dead, banished, or something? Family feuds?
Anyway, I felt like my eyes would be blinded soon if I continued to stare at how big the Loera residence was. It was as big as the one I remembered in my memories.
In the past, I didn’t feel so envious of this luxury as my previous family was more or less so wealthy too.
But now… welp, I can’t say that I don’t feel jealous at all, right? Gotta be honest sometimes…
Still, if I recalled how I found my days so dull despite the luxury I experienced as Reinst, this was certainly better. So, I still felt content with my life and with my family circumstances.
Since we rushed our ways here, we arrived quite early, although there were already other nobles gathering.
“Oh, you’ve come!! Welcome!! Thanks for coming all the way here!!” Clyde, who was greeting the guests, enthusiastically welcomed us.
“Clyde-san, thanks for the invitation!”
“Lyra, you’ve come as well! It’s nice to see you,” Clyde patted my head—but before he managed to do so, Dad walked in front of me, blocking the path of Clyde’s hand…
Aww… that’s too bad… Wait, no! Clyde was your half-brother in the past, and getting your head patted by him like how one pat a child’s head wasn’t that nice… I guess?
So… thanks, Dad?
“Congratulations, Clyde-san. Your son has finally turned six years old! You must be really happy,” Dad said while having this “business smile” plastered on his face.
“Thank you, Valkyane-san. Thanks for bringing your wife and children here. I hope our children will get along well.”
“Hoho, yes, I hope so too.”
…Dad, your last sentence… it was so monotone, okay?
It certainly didn’t seem that sincere, okay?
You sure you’re a spy?? Wasn’t that a bit too obvious, or did you intend to do so in the first place?
…Perhaps dying at the age of 13 was quite disadvantageous, as I couldn’t really tell the adults’ intention for doing something like this. I felt a bit sad as I should be at the same age as Clyde if I didn’t die…
“Speaking of which, this is your first time coming here, right? Would you like to sightsee around our residence?” Clyde suddenly offered a very… interesting offer!
“Oh, but don’t you need to greet the guests?” Mom asked in concern.
“There are the other adults from Loera’s branch families and the servants, so it’s alright. I specifically welcomed the guests before, as I was waiting for the Hartmann to arrive,” Clyde said without beating around the bush.
Eeh, are we really that special?
Strange, we just met several times, but how could I give so much impact to Clyde and Nicole?
At this point, I’m not sure if this favoritism will turn out to be disadvantageous or advantageous. On one side, it’s nice to forge a good relationship with the other nobles, especially with fellow ducal families. But on the other side, if we were to get too close and were taken advantage of—oof! I probably shouldn’t think negatively of the others like this.
I decided that I would try to take another perspective in this second life, didn’t I?
In the past, Mother used to tell me to be wary of the others, especially the other nobles as we wouldn’t be so sure if they would someday stab us behind the back or not…
[Be close to them, but make sure to put some distance. That way, you won’t get hurt.]
Those were Mother’s words of advice that I adhered to in the past. Especially since I was in a tough spot of competition—for the seat of the queen.
I was sure that Mother lived by those words as well.
But when I looked at Dad, Mom, and everyone that I know as Lyra—I think… I’d like to try it. To be close to the others, that is. Without guarding myself, without deliberately keeping a distance.
Even to this day, I’m not sure what made me think like this. Perhaps it was due to the years I experienced as Lyra, surrounded by loving people?
Ah, whatever. I don’t want to think of such a complicated matter. I concluded that it was because how different my living circumstances were. Yep, that must be it.
“Well, if you insist…,” Mom said curtly.
“I’ve been here quite a few times already, so I don’t think it’s needed—,” Dad was about to reject the offer when he noticed I was looking at him, eyes full of expectation.
Dad, look into my eyes!
I. WANT. TO. SEE. THE. LOERA. RESIDENCE!
I want to reminisce—and I want to see what has changed so far.
“…kh, okay, we’ll take your kind offer, then, if you don’t mind,” Dad seemed to grasp my wish, as he quickly changed his mind.
“Actually, if you don’t want to come along, you can remain here. Rest assured, the children will be safe with me, and Ophelia-san seems to be willing to tag along—”
“No. It’s okay. Really. I also want to see the Loera clan’s main residence. It’s been quite a long time after all.”
…Dad, Clyde’s birthday was on Month 1, so obviously it hadn’t been such a long time for you, right?
Hence, we went to take a stroll around the Loera family’s main residence!
It was a lot wider than my current house, so it felt quite nice taking a stroll around the residence—wait, I was so used to the convenience of going here and there around my current residence, so I couldn’t help but think of how inconvenient it might be to go here and there in this wide residence.
When we passed by the guest area, Clyde even went as far as to offer us a stay if we wanted to, but obviously, Dad politely and firmly rejected the idea.
Dad, sometimes I want you to decrease the “Don’t get too close to my daughter” aura you have…
I wonder what will happen if I were to have a younger sibling, especially a younger sister?
I heard the youngest would tend to be the most doted… well, I’d definitely dote on my younger sibling if I had one… Not that I would have any bitter feelings towards them in this lifetime, right? So unlike my previous one…
Geh, I felt that I was the worst human being as Reinst now—what’s with the past me, having quite a bad feeling towards my own blood brother?
Obviously, Clyde didn’t bring us to the personal or restricted areas. After taking a walk for a while, we would be returning to the party hall soon.
The party hall was like a very spacious ballroom that was connected to the garden. It seemed like we would be holding the banquet in the garden later.
It was nice that the weather seemed to be on our side, but in case if it were to rain, I heard that there should be some kind of barrier that would shield or cover the whole garden to ensure the outdoor party could sail so smoothly.
Yet an unexpected thing occurred before we went back to the party hall!
In the middle of our journey back, we encountered… today’s star!!
–To be more exact, I saw Nicole who dressed so beautifully. Her hand was holding another small hand, as a small figure was walking behind her.
I bet on my life that the small figure is Ein, my nephew!!
…Wait, I indeed said that I bet on my life, but dear mischievous specte-of-light-god, don’t you dare pull any prank at this moment or I will curse you!!
“Oh my, isn’t it the Hartmann family? It’s a pleasure to see you all here! I thank you for fulfilling our request of bringing your children,” Nicole politely greeted us.
“Nicole-san! You look so pretty!”
This is my honest and sincere praise, okay?
You wanted my praise so much back when I was Reinst, so be happy, okay?
“Aah, Lyra! You’re still as cute as ever! Thank you so much for your praise!” Nicole smiled brightly.
And yep, you’re welcome.
See, I’m different from Reinst who never really praised you so sincerely like this, right? So… have you dropped your suspiciousness by now?
I’m totally not connected to Reinst, get it?
“Ah, this might be quite a spoiler for you, but it must have been fated for us to meet like this!” Nicole suddenly clapped her hands as she gestured to the mini-human behind her to come forward.
“Eine, why don’t you introduce yourself to the Hartmann family? They are nice people, I’m sure you will like them! Look, this big sister here is close to you in age, so I’m sure you will get along well!”
…Dad, please stop spreading your cold aura here, you will scare my poor nephew…
“Ein, weren’t you curious of the Hartmann family after hearing Mum and Dad talk about them before?” Clyde stepped forward to encourage his son as well.
Eeeh, what is this? My nephew is one shy child? Hehe, looks cute!
After their coaxing and my parents’ sweet greetings, the little boy finally stepped forward.
When I first looked at him—whoa! He was really a combination of Clyde and Nicole!
He has Clyde’s soft blonde hair, Nicole’s pretty light blue eyes… and ooh, he even has a mole near his right eye, too! Just like Nicole!! …I didn’t know moles could be hereditary!
But when I peered into his eyes… They weren’t the eyes of a shy kid! They were the eyes of someone who was assessing the other party!
…This darn nephew of mine wasn’t shy, he was actually assessing us all this time?
Sure enough, he didn’t show any sign of timid cat as he stepped forward, smiled—whoa, dazzling!
But is this the Loera clan’s business smile? Or is this an angelic smile?
A-anyway, he looked good when he smiled like this… like a very cute child—a beautiful smile—eeh, boys would hate it if they were called as “beautiful” right?
Then, very surprisingly, he saluted us politely before introducing himself without even stammering.
“Hello, how do you do? Thank you for coming to my sixth birthday party… I’m Reinell Fyunez Kronychle Loera. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Though people would first focus on his polite gesture and superb performance at such a young age—I didn’t pay any attention to it at all.
I mean, look! You see…
Did you just hear his name?
No, it’s not about how long his name is.
Read again, what is his first name?
Sure, I see how Nicole addressed him as “Eine” and how Clyde addressed him as “Ein”… but…
Is it only me, or I feel like the name “Reinell”… was… in some way or another, derived from my previous self’s name, “Reinst”?
Hello? Is it only me or anyone else find the connection, the similarity?
GOD, I CAN’T HANDLE SURPRISES LIKE THIS, YOU KNOW?!