After bringing Alphonse back to his room, I promised Elena I would meet her tomorrow, and then returned to the Isilia Pavillion.
I walked to the gallery of memories where the portraits of the previous wives hung. Although there was a long aisle of portraits as long as the history of this household, there was only one face I knew.
At the end of the line was my mother’s portrait, which had not been covered in a cloth yet. Due to the painter’s exemplary skills, her true self was retained in the portrait. She looked so life-like, it seemed as though she would get up from the chair any moment now.
It was only natural the painting would invoke my memories of her.
When I opened the door to the room where Alphonse had been, the familiar layout entered my sight.
Years had passed, yet this place remained the same as before. Only the blanket of the bed, which should have been neatly folded, was slightly wrinkled. Something was also sticking out from the pillow as it looked like someone had hidden it in a hurry.
I could begin to picture what Alphonse had been doing here.
When I approached the bed and lifted the pillow, I saw an old book that Alphonse must’ve read through. I recognized the handwriting; not only the handwriting, but also the contents within.
That’s because this was Arwen’s, my mother’s, diary.
I used to see my mother writing in it occasionally when she was alone. When I asked her about it, she would always say it’s a secret and did not show me the diary. I later forgot about it, but it seemed that Alphonse found what was left here.
Although the writing began around when Damian was born, the progression wasn’t consistent. I could tell she wrote down the strong emotions she felt to remember the special days, making it easy to recall the past.
The Damian in this diary was not me, but our memories were vividly depicted there. What I experienced through her writing was not the void left by my mother’s passing, rather, the happiness I felt when reflecting on the warm past.
However, just like how everyone experienced the same book differently, the same could apply to Alphonse. Arwen Kraus left this world when the boy was two years old. The cause was an epidemic, which broke out in the south. Whether it was due to fate that the young Alphonse didn’t die, many others did perish before the cure was created, including Count Kraus’ wife.
There was no way a newborn baby would have memories of his mother. When such a child saw this diary, Alphonse might have felt his mother’s absence even more, unlike me, who already held a memory of her. He might’ve felt the absence more since his older brother and father couldn’t forget about the woman he never knew.
For Alphonse, my father and I were the only family. And yet, his only family members were looking for the shadow of someone who had already left them.
There was a saying, “Do not be consumed by the shadows of one’s past.”
This was probably why our father wouldn’t allow Alphonse to visit the Isilia Pavillion. But he hadn’t done it for Alphonse’s sake.
Then what about me? Could I say I was a good brother to Alphonse?
It’s too late to call me one just because I’d noticed it now.
I was merely coming up with an excuse since I had to prepare for the approaching future.
Frankly speaking, I was indifferent towards him. Unlike a villain like me, Alphonse was someone who would play a leading role in the future.
I took my mother’s diary and left the Isilia Pavillion.
Although I had the body of a superman, my body did not have strength. My mother’s small diary felt like a heavy steel bar in my hand.
If you know something’s wrong, correct it immediately.
But this was the first time I had a family or a younger brother. I don’t know what being an ideal brother was like. Even if I did change, it didn’t occur to me that I would be able to soothe all the loss that the child had felt.
I had lifted a heavy stone known as an engagement, but then a new stone rolled over and weighed my mind. This wasn’t due to fate, it was my fault, which was why the burden felt heavier than when I dealt with Elena.
As I contemplated on what to do, I had already arrived in front of my room. Ken appeared before me as if he had been waiting for my arrival.
“Young Master, you seem to have many worries today as well.”
“Huh? Ken. What are you doing here?”
“As I am your personal butler, I was waiting for you. More importantly, why do you look gloomy as the heavens on a rainy day? Oh, you do not have to worry if it’s about Lady Edelweiss. She’s already fallen deeply in love with…”
“It’s not like that.”
This old man thinks it’s all about Elena if I’m in a bad mood.
The heavy feeling eased a little when I saw his sly smile. Come to think of it, Ken and Maria had watched over me and Alphonse for a long time. Then Ken might know the answer to this problem.
However, I didn’t ask. If the two of them had sensed something off about Alphonse, they would have informed us right away. Even if that wasn’t the case, Maria wouldn’t have let Alphonse go. Nevertheless, considering Maria’s personality, she must have worried and felt sorry for the boy.
In order to fix this problem, the family members had to step forward instead of third parties. I was convinced of that.
A man’s face came to my mind.
“Ken. Please tell my father that it’s been a while, but his son wants to spar a little.” I immediately said to Ken.
“What? So suddenly? Would you be okay in your current state? You get beaten to a slime even when you’re in normal condition. You look exhausted, why don’t you rest today and do it tomorrow?” Ken replied with a worried look.
“I’m fine. I don’t plan on going hard today.”
I was just going to have a “conversation” between father and son. Ken eventually nodded and said he understood.
“This must be difficult to clean up though.”
“We’re not going to go that far…”
“Young Master, you may say that, but do you believe things would end smoothly given his personality? Please be very careful. There’s a chance you could shock Lady Edelweiss.”
“I’ll try to make sure we don’t make a commotion.”
“No, I meant to say, please don’t get seriously injured. You can’t come out looking like a bloody rice cake out of nowhere. What would you do if the lady gets traumatized because of that?”
I had nothing to say.
After a while, Ken left to speak to my father, whereas I headed toward the drill hall behind the manor.
House Kraus had several drill halls befitting its reputation as a high-ranking martial household. This drill hall was used only by the direct members of the family. Even the knights who were sworn into the house were prohibited from entering.
After I arrived, I took one of the swords in the back.
A spar was just a spar. It wasn’t as though we were fighting to the death, so there was no reason for us to use real swords. In the past, many people had lost their lives sparring with actual swords, which was why they switched to swords without blades.
That said, if a swordsman poured aura into the sword, it’d be the same as fighting with a real one.
I didn’t have to wait long.
The still atmosphere began to shake. The mana, which should’ve been flowing naturally, gathered to a single spot as if they were being sucked in by something strong.
“Have you arrived?”
At the center of the intense flow stood a man. The Sword Master, the one, who reached his peak. He released the sheer force of his might, which he normally suppressed.
“Yeah, I’m surprised that you asked for a spar first though. Did you have some kind of awakening?”
I shook my head to my father’s amused expression.
“No, that’s not it. It’s been a while since we had a father-son talk so I needed a place for you to vent your anger.”
My father didn’t really react to my response. He simply stared at me with his usual look.
The moment I blinked, a sword was in his hand.
I also held up my sword without saying another word.
After a while, the sound of iron clashing with iron could be heard at the once still drill hall.
You can rate this series here