Chapter 1 – Grace’s Chain
“–That was a child’s quarrel, wasn’t it?”
The following day I was called out by my dad, Henri, who found me as I was practicing magic in a corner of the garden. He took me to his study. Apparently, Daryl had been clinging to his mother, Catherine, in tears and Catherine had been clinging to Dad, while in tears, as well.
“I heard that you arbitrarily used magic to attack him?”
It seemed that Catherine hadn’t said anything detailed when Dad was listening to her. Maybe he planned to ascertain the facts by having a direct conversation with me. Catherine was probably exaggerating too much. Even if Daryl told Catherine at one point, there is no doubt that the story was being exaggerated. It was likely that he would only believe their excuses, even if I explained it.
“It wasn’t much more than if I had pushed him into the waterway instead. I fired a warning shot at his feet earlier, and even though I threw a stone with the intention of hitting Daryl, it was only in self-defense. Was I supposed to just put up with it instead of retaliating back?”
I didn’t feel like I was in the wrong. Although he thought it was merely a children’s quarrel, in reality he should be cautious of me right now. Since I had a suspicion that Daryl would die if I went all out, I only cast a novice spell. Even if I am still practicing magic right now, memories of the activation process of magic and magical knowledge still remain inside me. I also know how to strengthen it, even though I most likely can’t practice most of the magic.
“Is it fine if I show you proof?”
“Do you have any?”
I removed my outer garments with a shrug of my shoulder and showed him my back.
I understood why Dad’s voice was harsh. There should be several bruises on my back. While there wasn’t a large amount of them, there was still an unnatural amount that implied that I was beaten.
“It’s not wise to oppose me by using force or violence. Please don’t ask me why I did it. I only wanted to defend myself. If you think about what has happened to me before, you would realize that this would be necessary at some point. As for myself, I was careful not to over do it. Since it only reached the level of a children’s quarrel, I want to be praised for holding back.”
I emphasized the part about it only being to the extent of a children’s quarrel.
“…Understood. I’ll listen to what Byron and Daryl say.”
“If that’s the case, listen to your wife instead.”
Father’s complexion changed
“Please do so. If Dad doesn’t remember teaching those two to behave in such a way, there was obviously someone else who fueled their hatred towards me.”
“That…did Catherine directly raise her hand against you…?”
“Rather than her hand, it was her whip. I think there are still traces from yesterday left on my back? I learned afterwards that it seemed to have been tied to Grace’s actions. Apparently, she used Grace’s ring. I was also slightly amazed when I heard it from Grace.”
Dad’s eyes widened more. He had recognized that there were several marks on my back from some time ago so he didn’t have to check it again. Was he shocked because I said it was tied to Grace’s actions? He put his hand on his forehead, as if he had a headache.
For example, she couldn’t try to save me or report to Dad about what happened to me. If the owner of the ring was malicious, they could order Grace to wear or carry the ring with her. To be more accurate, it was a magical artifact in the shape of a ring. Catherine had originally intended to use it to eliminate her weaknesses, rather than just using it to her advantage. In the case of a servant’s contract, it was essentially a system derived from magic that was used to prevent things like ignoring orders, escapes, and rebellions. The woman who received the contract entrusted herself to another person and was allowed to blend in and live an ordinary life.
A dhampir…in other words, the 「Owners」who held the ring of the half-human and half-vampire woman were three people. Dad, my deceased mother, and, lastly, Catherine. Just those three. Byron and Daryl weren’t allowed to have it, no discussion. Catherine wasn’t stupid enough to give her children too much freedom.
“I’m sorry for not realizing it, Theo.”
“It’s fine, since Dad is also busy with work.”
I made an effort of speaking apathetically before giving him an awkward smile.
“What is it?–Don’t you have something you want me to do?”
“I’ll think about it after you let me live alone. It’s an improvement to walking a tightrope while living under the same roof with people who hate me. Wouldn’t Dad also be relieved of me, who can use magic? The majority of the servants favour your wife, although Grace is one of my few allies. Honestly, it’s been a bed of thorns ever since I came here.”
“…Let me think about it.”
I was a bit worried about whether or not it had gotten through to him. However, this was the time to say all the things I’ve wanted to say, but had endured until now, to prevent seeming selfish.
“Ah, by the way, my personal wish is to live at Termuilles.”
“I think that there is a limit to teaching myself magic by reading the various books in the study. If it were that place, it would definitely go more smoothly. It’s a reasonably dangerous place so I think your wife and two sons would also agree.”
Dad let out a very long sigh.
“…I had completely forgotten that you are related to me. Theo, that talk about magic…I didn’t think you were so eloquent with words.”
“I’ve been prudent. Those guys as well. I didn’t want to be hated by Dad, afterall.”
In my case, the part about being prudent wasn’t quite true. Even for magic, it wasn’t like I could practice things like chants with just a small study. The memories from my past life was, at most, beginner magic. Well, let’s go with that. Speaking of children, an adult would think that it was natural for children to be delinquents and fight each other.
In conclusion, my frank wish got through to him. I’m in the middle of moving towards the Boundary City Termuilles, which is also called the Labyrinth City Termuilles, in a carriage. Dad used a large amount of his funds to arrange an escort, that would normally be beyond his connections, for me. I didn’t want to be in his care, since I don’t want to be with a close-knit family with him, so I decided to just think of it as consolation money. There was a Gartner House villa inside Termuilles City…but since I would have to butt heads with the family occasionally, I refused to use it. Besides, the price for using the villa touched my nerve.
Dad’s acquaintance was there so I couldn’t be completely independent. It was better to not be restrained.
Well then. The labyrinth that existed in Termuilles was connected to another world. The connecting path changed its structure with the waxing and waning of the moon…it was a living labyrinth. This was the Great Labyrinth of Termuilles. You could also find valuable treasure that drifted over from the other world if you dove deep into its depths. However, the deepest parts had not yet been investigated. Until now, there was no records of humans ever reaching that far.
It was the same situation as in BFO. Those depths had been implemented in an update, so even I didn’t know what was in the deepest parts of that labyrinth. However, there was less risk on shallow floors, so I think it’s a great place to perform experiments or hone your skills. On the other hand, it hadn’t been a suitable place for me before the update. Well, it was only a matter of time until I decided to go there. It was, after all, better than living in the Gartner House.
Although there were several reasons that I chose Termuiles as my destination…one of them was that, even if I was a child who could use magic, it would not be comparatively noticeable. Termuilles was a place where various races gathered, in order to explore its labyrinth. Disciple Magicians weren’t that rare either, and their war-like spirit was naturally recognized if they were strong. Well, they were fairly good.
“Are you fine with this, Grace? It’s a good chance to leave that House and be free.”
“I’m assigned to Theodore-sama. After Risa-sama threw me away, I decided to dedicate my life to Theodore-sama. Am I a hindrance?”
Grace, who sat across from me, asked with downcast eyes. Risa, my biological mother, passed away from natural causes. It seemed when Grace had been troubled, my mom had taken her in. Thanks to that, I felt extremely obligated to mom. When I had talked about going to Termuilles, Grace had strongly wished to accompany me.
“No, I don’t have such thoughts. I’m relying on you. I regret that I couldn’t talk about my magic.”
“No, I am terribly sorry for being unable to protect Theodore-sama from those two. I’m grateful that you allowed me to accompany you like this, even with that.”
Well put. This was difficult considering Grace’s personality. She wasn’t suitable for delicate actions like stopping someone, since she was either too powerful or too weak. This was even more the case when I, a child, became an enemy of the owner who hired her. Perhaps the only way for her to continue trying to cover for me was to become a tank. I don’t want her to have such a role.
I think it was good that Catherine’s group had directed their torment solely onto me and didn’t aim at Grace. I wanted to keep her out of harm’s way at all costs. Rather than the bullying, it was related to how I was a self-conceited brat who didn’t want to let Grace know that I thought of her as an older sister…Somehow, I felt that such feelings had long been established.
“This time, I’ll show you my role. Please allow me to be beside you.”
The only one who used Grace’s magical artifact was me. The only one who could issue a command to Grace was me. Grace seemed to be enthusiastic about magical artifacts, but only if their restraints were removed. It doesn’t mean that I had actually known about that setting, though. For now, shall I ask her what her weapon is?
“What weapon does Grace use?”
“I use an Axe.”
“Yes. Something like this.”
The heavy-looking thing that was dragged out from under the carriage’s seat was a double-edged axe called Lábrys. Most of the blade was thick, but it’s hilt was rather unbalancedly short. A thick chain extended from its pommel. I felt that it was a weapon that is thrown from a long range by using its chain, rather than swinging it around in close combat.
There were unique weapons like that in Japan, too. Is it a two-handed weapon? What I’m trying to say is…it’s crazy. Even though she looked like a beautiful and graceful woman, if you removed her limit, she would exert a ridiculous amount of power. That was why she had no choice in it. She looked like an adequately good-looking girl who was bound by a magical artifact, but if she were released, her powerful body would exert the same physical strength of a vampire.
It’s unlikely that I will mention something like diving down into the labyrinth…I don’t understand her skills well and she doesn’t really know my ability in magic, so I can’t decide on what to do right now. Since she had brought such a weapon, if push came to shove, she would be brimming with the will to fight.
I was indirectly within the coverage of the restraints. Considering the labyrinth and all, it would probably have been precarious for me to head towards Termuilles alone. It wasn’t just Grace, but also Dad who thought this.
Their impressions of me had immediately changed to thinking that it would be a problem to be overprotective of me, so I couldn’t do anything about it for now. To be frank, it was the reason I had given Dad the impression that I had shown a sudden change into becoming a delinquent and losing my temper. It would be nice if the evaluation of me until now was gradually repainted.