Act 03: Second Older Brother, Isma’s Monologue
For the longest time since I was born I was the youngest child, but eight years ago, my younger sister, named Cordelia, was born and I became an older brother. I was 12 at that time…… But to be honest, I pitied Cordelia.
I’d never imagined that my sister could be conceived, what with my parent’s relationship being heavily strained, but I could easily figure out the reason behind it.
The child was to become the companion of the Prince, who was born half a year earlier than her.
If the child had been born a male, he could possibly become the Prince’s friend, but if the child was female, then she had the possibility of becoming the Queen. I thought that there were no other possible reasons for her being born. Although I was only 12 at that time, I was educated enough to understand that.
I sympathised with my sister, who was born into that, and thought, it would have been better if she was at least born a male. If she had been born a male, then she could somewhat decide her own future, but her fate was already chosen for her the moment she was born female.
『Aim to become Queen in the future. It’s impossible for you not to be Queen.』
She was probably raised with only those words. I pitied her just when I thought about what would happen if things didn’t work out. Well, the me who thought that, had severe feelings of inferiority at that time, so I wonder if my circumstances were still luckier than Cordelia’s. That also was nothing but trifling.
I was the second son but my elder brother, who was cut from the same cloth as father, was clearly treated differently.
On the surface, we received the same education, but I instinctively realised that I was a 『spare』from the environment we were in. I was never expected to achieve results above a certain level, and even though I did well in rare cases, I was never praised. Also if I were complimented, I would be compared to my brother; 『But it doesn’t seem like you can beat your eldest brother』. If not, then I would be compared with father; 『Elvis-sama was even more amazing when he was younger』.
I have been called a prodigy, but it was always followed by those same words. So, I’m not a prodigy after all. The feelings I had when I thought that were a little depressing, and there were times when I resented my brother. When I was younger, I was enthusiastic about winning against my brother someday. Well, but that was only when I was younger. I gradually became jealous of him, then acted stupidly, and finally gave up. Now, I’ve already settled with 『as expected of elder brother』.
But even so, when Cordelia, who strongly inherited the blood of the Pameradia House, was born, on the one hand, I felt sorry for her; and on the other, I was glad that she was born as my sister.
If Cordelia had been born male, then my inferiority complex would have definitely solidified. My feelings had sublimated now, but if I were to be caught up between older and younger brothers, then I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold it in. I was really impatient, and I might have become an atrocious brother.
Well, that’s enough about me.
Father hired a live-in tutor for Cordelia to educate her as a future consort of the royal family almost as soon as she was born. Thus, my sister received education as a lady before she could even speak. Aren’t you too hasty, father?
Because of those circumstances, Cordelia had more restrictions than me; they were perhaps on the same level as elder brother’s. Although, that was the only thing she knew, so I didn’t feel like she’d suffered from those restrictions. My sister was a fast-learner, and the maids and tutor always raved about her as if she’d overwhelm everything in the world.
When I saw that, I honestly thought that it couldn’t possibly be good.
I could understand if someone praised a child for being cute or smart, but they shouldn’t compliment them more than necessary since the child could grow up to be spoiled, you know? Cordelia also looked somewhat smug whenever she was praised, so I was concerned that she would grow up to be spoiled.
However, my parents, who were supposed to have stopped that, ignored her and left her be, so no one cautioned her. So no matter what happened to her in the future, my parents were to blame. I wondered if it would be okay for her to aim for the Queen’s seat with how she acted, but that didn’t bother me as long as I stayed away from her. I thought it would be fine as long as I didn’t spark the flame.
After two years of being a trainee and a year on duty in the north, when I enlisted in the Imperial Guards and came home…… I never imagined that father would dote on Cordelia.
Father seemed to be trying to hide the fact that he doted on her, but unfortunately, Cordelia messed it all up. No offence to Cordelia, father probably wouldn’t say this strongly because he favoured her 100 per cent, so I want to say it on his behalf.
Cordelia, father isn’t the type of person who buys gifts for his children. So don’t go thanking him with a big grin in front of me. Father replied with a curt, “Yeah,” but I’ve never received something like that from him, you know? No, it’s not like I want something like that now.
For the time being, I understood that something had happened, so I immediately asked the butler about it. It seemed that the start of all this was that Cordelia had made a very cute remark to father just after I’d left home.
I was worried.
Isn’t she going to be a little devil in the future?
If she did that unconsciously, then she would definitely be one, but if she did it intentionally, then she had an evil disposition. I wanted to question whether she was really a child.
But despite my worries, the butler told me about Cordelia, “She’s brimming with curiosity. She really likes books and would often confine herself to the library.” He also said to me about how flustered the tutor would get because Cordelia would ask him questions outside of the tutor’s expertise.
Incidentally, the tutor she had now was different from the tutor she had before. The previous tutor couldn’t respond to the knowledge that Cordelia sought.
Cordelia, who I hadn’t met in a long time, acquired the etiquettes of a young lady. Although her childish way of speaking was still there, she was raised into an intelligent child that spoke almost as eloquently as me. A visitor had said, “Your daughter really resembles you, Earl.” But did being like that mean that she resembled father? It was ominous.
There probably weren’t many children who joined in talks about the tax system. Was elder brother like that when he was younger? At least, I was different.
In any case, Cordelia was no longer a regular lady.
Then she grew up, still smart, and before I’d noticed, she’d turned eight.
However, she was still a child even though she was smart.
Cordelia liked to read books and would also observe the plants in the garden if she received permission to do so, and her appearance while doing so were quite impressive.
She would observe the butterflies in amazement, or glance restlessly at her surroundings to make sure no one was around before pulling petals off flowers. She showed behaviour that wasn’t appropriate for her age.
Our garden was quite big so she wouldn’t get bored. When I observed her from the second floor, I felt as if I was gazing at a small animal.
Also, whenever I decided to go for a ride, she would look at me enviously; although she tried not to show it. So I couldn’t help but ask, “Do you want to come along too?” ―――; but I regretted it as soon as I’d said it. Even if I asked her on the day I was going, it wasn’t something that Cordelia could decide on her own. In the first place, even if I’d asked beforehand, there was no way father would merely give her permission. I reflected on asking a question that couldn’t be answered ―――; but I never thought that I would really take Cordelia with me, yes.
Furthermore, father sent me a letter saying, 『If something happens to Cordelia, remember that you won’t get away with it (translated) 』and there was an underlying tone that stated; if I had time, I would actually like to take her there myself.
Scary, it’s really terrifying.
Father was busy because he’s too talented and a constant stream of work came to him. It wasn’t my fault at all.
When father was younger…… he injured his right arm protecting His Majesty the King, before he got married. Thereupon, he quit as a knight and became a civil official; but even now, he still maintained a level that was difficult for ordinary people to attain. His skills were still at the point where it would probably be impossible for knights to even scratch my left-handed father. Father, you’re right-handed, you know? It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? But his strength was staggering. Also, only his martial arts received a handicap, his magic hadn’t waned at all. He was so strong that even I, who people called a promising man, only had a 30% chance of winning against him. But I think that my environment was extravagant since I could spar with that kind of father. However, a lot of courage was necessary to ask him to spar with me.
Well…… I didn’t want father to know I thought like that. If he found out, he’d hit me more. He was really serious. However, I did want to see father’s golden days.
And yeah, I also received a letter from such a scary father and went home while having little hope that Cordelia would change her mind.
However, I slipped up again there.
I should have known that mother hadn’t met with Cordelia if I’d used my brain a little.
Unlike Cordelia, I have met mother. When she saw me, she said, “I’m delighted you don’t resemble that person.” Mother met with my sister, who also resembled her, and me, but she didn’t meet my brother who resembled father.
I didn’t think… Mother hates father. She seemed somewhat obsessed with him. Therefore, she kept her distance from brother, who resembled father, probably because he associated with father. Thus the same thing could be said about Cordelia. It was also highly likely that, unlike brother, mother couldn’t stomach Cordelia because father doted on her. If mother wanted father’s attention, then she could just approach him herself. I wonder what her intentions are. Well, mother forced grandfather to enact the marriage so her personality, and the fact that father accepted even though he wasn’t interested in romance, were both problematic. I wonder what they’re both thinking.
I had that kind of background knowledge so I could see mother not wanting to meet Cordelia if I used my brain, but I was unable to think since Cordelia looked so cute trying to tiptoe up to me. I could also imagine mother acting like that to Cordelia since father had opened up his heart to her.
I quickly bluffed and left, but I thought about what I would do if she said that she wanted to meet mother. Of course, I can get them to meet each other, but mother’s response would be scary at that time.
If possible, I didn’t want Cordelia to get hurt. So I had to somehow get her to not be interested in me having contact with mother ―――.
That was what I thought, but when I met Cordelia the next morning, she made no mentions of it at all.
The only things she said were, ‘I’m looking forward to the ride’ and ‘I want to go to the forest to harvest plants so I would like to ask the family carriage to follow behind us’―――; It appeared that she was pretending that the conversation about mother yesterday didn’t happen. It was very convenient for me, but on the other hand, it made me feel uncomfortable.
Since Cordelia could talk about economics, there’s no way she forgot about the conversation we had in just one night, right? Her memory isn’t bad. It was okay if she really didn’t care, but on the contrary, I felt like I’ve caused her to worry.
What are you doing, making a child worry, you?
But well, it was convenient for me, and I called out to my sister so that we could depart.
Cordelia was really excited at seeing my favourite horse, with his dark bay, white nose and socks. “He’s beautiful, he seems smart,” she said. He was indeed ‘beautiful’, but my favourite horse didn’t seem smart. He was smart. Of course, I didn’t say that out loud.
She was surprised at how high the horse was, but she was quite brave and didn’t say that it was scary at all; she seemed rather impressed by it. I thought that was favourable and tried to raise the speed of the horse to a certain extent. I loved the feeling of wind on my skin, so I wanted Cordelia to experience it too if she wasn’t scared. My favourite horse also loved galloping like that.
She seemed surprised at first, but then she started to enjoy it straight away. I’m glad.
Also, this child’s sense of balance was good. She didn’t get in my way at all when I lifted her onto the horse. She probably wouldn’t ever hold one, but I thought she would act the same if I gave her a sword.
The forest which Cordelia said she wanted to go to was a slopey mountain relatively close to the Royal Capital and monsters rarely appeared there.
I removed my favourite horse’s saddle and bridle and gently patted his back; then he went off to play. My beloved horse, who would come back at a single whistle, really liked to play around. I usually enjoyed observing him, but today I was Cordelia’s escort. I couldn’t just leave her alone and watching her was also fun, so I didn’t mind. Also, I would become an unreliable brother if I didn’t listen to my sister’s first request.
Cordelia picked up some weeds, inhaled their scent, tilted her head in confusion and then tried restlessly to activate some magic that she’d memorised. The person in question didn’t seem to realise this, but she seemed more carefree since there no one from the house was around except for me. She seemed to be having lots of fun.
So I playfully asked her, “Did you find something good?”
“There is lavender blooming here. Over there is peppermint. They’re more lustrous than the ones delivered to the house. They’re definitely more vibrant in the mornings, aren’t they?”
Cordelia said and happily informed me, “This is lemon balm…… It’s Melissa officinalis. If you tread on it…… See, Onii-sama! The scent drifts about!”
If she was this happy about it, then it was worth bringing her here.
“In the early mornings, the magic power stored in plants is at its peak. At any rate, you’re very knowledgeable with plants, aren’t you? Do you want to be a scholar?”
Cordelia’s eyes popped out with astonishment at that question.
“A scholar? They’re amazing; scholars are those who are smart.”
Yes, Cordelia. You’re smart enough.
I thought that, but I didn’t dare say it out loud. If she was just embarrassed, then I might have been able to say more, but she was waving her hands around as if it was a preposterous thing, so it would be boorish of me to say any more than that…… Also, my sister looked very cute when she was panicking. Well, she was usually cute anyway.
Then as I continued to gaze at her, she moved further away and told me the name of a new grass, “Onii-sama, it’s amazing! There’s sage here!”
Initially, the Pameradia House’s magic was compatible with flowers, so it wasn’t surprising for her to be interested in plants.
However, that was for showy flowers…… For example, it was still normal if she were interested in Casa Blanca, or flowers like orchids; but she was interested in mere weeds, which was a bit strange.
She was interested in plants that looked like grass, such as peppermint and lemon palm. If it were poisonous plants, then I could understand why she was interested in them, but I couldn’t understand why she was interested in these types of grass. I pretended to know what it was, but this was the first time I’ve heard of lemon balm.
Incidentally, I was extremely knowledgeable about poisonous plants. Although I couldn’t compare to father and elder brother, I could also use the Pameradia House’s manipulation magic. My field of expertise, which made the best use of my magic, was distilling poisons. Refining unproblematic weeds into powerful medicines were possible. I didn’t intend to exploit my power, but it was essential to know how to detoxify similar poisons.
But it was a fact that we couldn’t say anything about this magic to people outside of the family ―――; no, it didn’t mean that the patriarch would tell the truth to a family member just because they’d noticed it. He also never told me this orally. One would typically notice this if they used magic frequently, but it seemed that Cordelia hadn’t realised it yet.
However, I had the desire to show Cordelia, who knew so much about plants, my older brother side, and I also wanted to show her my seniority. It wasn’t like I only knew about poisonous plants, and I knew this forest way better than Cordelia did.
“Come, Cordelia. I’ll show you a rare flower in this mountain.”
Cordelia came closer to me, and I lifted her up. I walked a little away from our spot to a spring. The water sparkled under the sun’s rays, and my favourite horse also came to play.
And then around the spring was ―――
“Marigold?! Onii-sama, they’re marigold, aren’t they!?!”
Yes, Cordelia very excited about the blooming marigold surrounding the spring.
Marigold, which was called ‘Flower of the Sun’ in this kingdom, only bloomed during certain seasons when brought into the city, but it bloomed all year round in this mountain. It was probably related to the magic waves, so it was possible for it to bloom all year round if the Pameradia House tried to cultivate it.
More importantly, I was a little discouraged when I showed her this hidden treasure, and she’d guessed the name so quickly. “Onii-sama is amazing!” She’d said, but if possible, I wanted to teach her the name of this flower.
Well, if she was pleased about it, then there was nothing better.
“Onii-sama, you’re amazing! You’re like a doctor She’s talking about him being an expert, like someone with a PhD!”
To begin with, it was impossible to be offended because she knew the name when she said something like that. I wasn’t blessed with the chance to tell her the name of the flower, but my dignity as an older brother seems to be intact, which meant that the result was alright.
Why are you trying to stack such a large amount of it onto our family carriage which had just arrived? You even put the surrounding soil and roots into there.
“It’s still not enough, so I’ll probably ask them to make a lot of round-trips here.” She said.
What the heck are you planning to do with it?
The magic in this mountain would immediately regrow the marigold even if she pulled out enough to fill the carriage multiple times. At any rate, they’re just weeds. They had a lot of willpower. Therefore, I don’t think it would be a problem in the mountain, but I don’t think it would flourish on their own if she brought it back to the Royal Capital, which held very little magic.
But when I tried to ask her, she said, “Is that Chamomile……?” She’d found a new grass and was walking towards it, so I didn’t get the chance to ask my question.
But well, it was fine. She’d probably do something interesting, and the grass didn’t look dangerous. Children had active imaginations so she might come up with something.
Besides, “I will definitely give Onii-sama something as thanks for today, so please look forward to it!”
She exclaimed something so cute. I smiled and nodded while patting her head because I couldn’t think of an adult-like response.
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