Chapter 02 – A broken contract and disinheritance
I woke up after hearing the sound of curtains being opened by our maid Eida.
She looked at me with a worried expression.
“How do you feel today”
“It’s one of the better days.”, I replied as I rubbed my eyes and looked around for Katrina.
“She’s in the courtyard with the master and Riley.”
She was probably looking at Riley’s sword practice.
With Eida’s assistance, I sat down in my wheelchair.
I looked at my own hands, so thin and frail.
I doubt I’d be able to lift a sword never mind wielding it.
After I somehow finished my breakfast, Eida took me outside.
I could hear the sounds of swords clashing.
The edges were blunted, but the swords were still made of iron and were just as heavy as a real one.
My brother Riley, who was a year younger, swung such a training sword easily and slashed at my father.
“Good! Exactly like that!”, my father praised Riley as he staved off his attacks and shifted to offence.
Riley dodged the attack by slightly shifting his weight and stepped in close to father’s chest.
“Oh!”, father immediately widened the distance by stepping backwards.
“Ah! I almost got you.”, said Riley smiling widely.
“Yeah, that was close.”, father returned the smile and patted his head.
Riley laughed happily with the praise.
I wobbled my way over to Katrina and tapped on her shoulder.
Good morning.”, said Katrina frowning.
Her thoughts were evident on her face. Why is this guy my contract holder It can’t be helped if she feels that way.
Not only is my body weak, I can’t properly use Katrina either.
Even my skill with Body Strengthening, the only magic I’m able to use, is full of holes.
If I try to focus on my legs, the strengthening applied to my arms would disappear, such occurrences were commonplace.
Moreover, the duration I could maintain the strengthening for was very short.
I would be able to ditch the wheelchair and walk on my own if I could use her power well, but it turns out that is impossible because Katrina has no interest in training.
However, I can’t break my contract with her for that.
Just by being contracted with her, she continues to use the mana inside me to maintain her human form.
On top of that, I am somehow maintaining the status quo by using Ability to expend mana.
Father and Riley noticed my presence in the courtyard.
“Ah, so you’re here Nicola.” My father made a disgruntled face seeing me.
“Dad, I’m going to take a break.” sighed Riley after glimpsing at me.
The bright smile he showed before had disappeared and was replaced by a displeased expression.
“Nadia, let’s practice using our Ability over there.” said Riley after manifesting his Servant.
Nadia looked at me sympathetically as she nodded to Riley.
Nadia and Eida are the only ones in my house who show any sympathy towards me.
My mother died when I was seven.
She was a really kind person who worried about me till the very end.
“Nicola, make sure you get along with Katrina.
I am sure your health will improve if you do so.”
Those were my mother’s last words.
Riley probably resents me because mother always attended to me due to my poor health.
He practices swordplay with father everyday almost like he wants to receive the love he never got from mother.
Riley created blades of water and fired them.
Not only was he good at swordplay, he was also talented in using Ability.
Abilities do not have an intrinsic magical attribute, they could at most increase the power of physical attacks.
However, there are rare humans who can grant magical attributes, such as fire or water, to the Ability.
Almost everyone in the lineage of the Leslie house were able to use the water attribute.
There are different grades for each magic attribute.
At the first grade, at best one could spurt some water or fire using their servant.
At the second grade, they would be able to fire water arrows or water blades.
They would also be able grant their attribute to mundane attacks and blocks.
While the existence of a third grade is known, its specifics haven’t been published in books yet.
I have the same water attribute as Riley, but I can’t use anything other than the first grade Ability of the water attribute.
I could maybe create a ball of water, but I can’t use the second grade’s flying water blades like Riley.
“Ah Riley, you’ve become quite good.” I stated nonchalantly like it didn’t bother me at all.
“Yes, he’ll become an excellent Knight.”, agreed father and spared me a disparaging glance.
The Leslie count household was originally a household of Knights.
Following that tradition, learning martial arts, especially swordplay, is a must for every member of the house.
In the past, father gained several military achievements and was raised to the peerage of Count from Viscount.
I guess my father is ashamed to have begotten someone like me as his eldest son.
A son who can’t even swing a sword, never mind learning swordplay, and he will be the one to inherit the Count title in the future.
How great would it be if Riley was my eldest son. I bet he is thinking that.
“I’ll practice using Ability with Katrina” Announcing that, I looked at Katrina, but she averted her eyes from mine.
“Ah.”, responded my father disinterestedly and beckoned Riley.
I headed towards a corner of the yard along with Katrina.
Eida worriedly followed me with the wheelchair as it wouldn’t be strange if I fell over at anytime.
Katrina transformed into a sword.
To lift her properly with my frail arms…
“Katrina, let’s use Body Strengthening.”
My whole body felt hot for an instant.
I could feel a faint strength coursing through me, but my legs were still shaking and even among my arms, my left hand was trembling under the weight of the sword.
I tried focusing on my left arm but nothing happened.
“Katrina, my left hand still feels weak.”
Suddenly, my left arm shot up, and I ended up dropping Katrina.
“It hurts.”, said Katrina having changed back into her human form.
“Sorry.” I tried to squat down near her, but she turned away from me.
“I’m fine.” Katrina sighed deeply and stood up.
Even my basics are in such a sorry state.
How could I ever work on granting an attribute to our Ability The gap between me and Riley continues to widen.
“Do you still want to continue” Even though we’d just begun, Katrina asked as if to say that there was no meaning in persisting any longer.
I shook my head despondently and said “No, that was enough.”
“Got it.” Katrina immediately began walking towards Riley.
A month had passed since that day.
In that interval, my fiancée Rose came to visit me, but I was not able to serve as her company in any way.
I was bedridden for most of this month.
If I don’t use up my mana at regular intervals, it will foul like stagnant water.
In the past week, Katrina refused to accompany me for Ability practice and I haven’t expended almost any of my mana.
I put my hand on a book nearby.
Elves and Beastfolk are really fortunate, even though they possess more mana than humans they are never afflicted with Mana Poisoning.
The reason for that has been put down in this book.
They are born with an organ that circulates mana in their body like blood, so their mana is never stagnant.
It turns out that if there is a problem with that organ even elves can be afflicted with Mana Poisoning.
I guess all my mana has pooled up in one place.
My head hurts again.
I could see the courtyard clearly through my room’s window, and I’d noticed that Riley hardly trained this month either.
I wondered what the reason could be.
That day, the reason came crashing down on me.
Riley burst into my room and shouted, “Brother, what’s the meaning of this!!”
I shut my eyes in pain as his loud voice pierced through my already aching head.
“What is it”
“I heard that you’ve been treating Katrina violently! And it’s a regular affair !!”
I tilted my hell in confusion. What the hell is he talking about
“I know that you can’t move around or use your Ability as you wish, but you shouldn’t vent that frustration on her!”
His loud voice reverberated inside my head, and I held my temple in pain.
“I heard it too Nicola.
How could you be so cruel” asked my father as he placed his hand on the Katrina’s shoulder.
She was looking down and sniffing as if she couldn’t hold her tears back any longer.
“Even the maid witnessed it.
Didn’t you hurl Katrina on the ground because your Ability training wasn’t going well”
“I did drop her, but…” I tried to explain, but my father interrupted me.
“I don’t want to listen to your excuses.
It is a fact that you treated her cruelly.
Moreover, you’ve also forced yourself on her several times!!”
My father stood up a completely fictional story and reproached me.
In the first place, Katrina and I were never together long enough for anything like that to happen.
In fact, she spent most of her time with them.
But my father never considered any of this and created a convenient tale where I was the villain.
“You besmirched Katrina’s honour, you threatened and tyrannised her.
You just wanted to use her until she broke!! She is alive and has feelings like us!! Yet you used her like a mere tool!”, screamed Riley with a face that had turned purple with rage.
I simply looked at Katrina.
I knew they were spouting pure fiction, but who was the author of this tale Was it Katrina or was it all of them together I did not know.
Riley grabbed me by my lapels and said, “You’ve proven that you really are the reincarnation of the worst sort of scum to walk this earth.
Who else would be capable of such casual cruelty I’ve always thought you were a vile bastard.”
It felt like his words pierced my heart, coursing chills and pain through my entire body.
“Hey, that’s too…” Nadia tried to say something, but my father interrupted her.
“I was always against your mother’s decision to bind Katrina to you when you were just two years old.
You are the reincarnation of a truly horrible being, even the church agrees.
Binding Katrina to such a person…the result turned out be just as I expected.”
After that, the two of them continued to say whatever they wished, advocating for Katrina while vilifying me.
I stared limply and let their words wash over me.
All of this was just a pretext to kick me out.
As long as it served that purpose any reason would have done.
I’ve wondered when this facade of a family would collapse ever since my mother, who was my only support, passed away.
My bonds with the rest of my family were made of paper and could have been blown away by a slight breeze.
If there wasn’t a need to keep up the appearance of a family, they would have abandoned me right after mother’s death.
They couldn’t throw me out for having a weak constitution or as punishment for the sins of my previous life.
Since there was a danger of being ostracised by the other noble houses for acting immorally.
The church believed that even the reincarnation of the vilest human can be saved if they lived properly in this life.
Thus, they needed a good enough reason that would be accepted by everyone.
So they used the very morals that bound them as the pretext.
If they make it appear as if I was tyrannising a Servant, whom the church believed to be the messengers of god, I would be seen to have violated the church’s sacred morals.
After that, they just have to embellish the details to fit the narrative.
My father then declared that, “Nicola, I am disinheriting you.
I cannot allow someone who has violated such sacred morals to inherit the name of the Leslie count household.” This was father’s deepest desire.
I knew it would happen one day, but I couldn’t just resign myself to it.
I wish I’d reconciled with Katrina.
I wish I’d used my mana until I was able to move well and learn swordplay from father.
Even I… Even I wanted to make my father proud.
I wanted him to love me.
I hoped and hoped for the day my father would show me the same smile he shows Riley.
Would he ever pat my head too Even though they wore displeased expressions and were unkind to me, I always went to see Riley’s training.
With my unsteady legs, I’d get up from my wheelchair and walk up to them everyday.
I wanted them to acknowledge me.
I wished for the day when there would be a place for me beside them.
But now that house of dreams has come crashing down1.
My head felt like it was splitting open.
I don’t know what was causing it, my Mana Poisoning or bereavement.
Katrina touched Riley’s shoulder, and he let go of my lapels.
“Are you alright Katrina” Riley asked her worriedly.
“Yes, I’ll tell him.” When Katrina said that, Riley nodded and backed off.
“I will break my contract with you.
I cannot endure it any longer.”
I know, it’s obvious, but…
“My body won’t be able to sustain without it.
Can’t you see that I’m bedridden even now”
By just being contracted to her, even without using Ability, she should be expending my mana to maintain her human form.
I doubt my body would be able to take it if the contract was broken.
My father sighed out loud and said, “You really don’t know when to give up.
Very well, you leave me no choice… Riley, hold Nicola down.”
Riley, walked leisurely towards me and forced me down into the bed by my head.
My head hurts even without any exertion, when jolted like that, it made me feel incredibly nauseated.
Father removed a metal box form his pocket.
The box contained a syringe which was filled with a liquid that had a metallic lustre.
As he checked the contents of the syringe, my father said,
“A long time ago, I’d enquired to someone about whether there was a way to free a Servant who was bound by a contract.
If the contract holder dies, the Servant will also die.
However, the Servant has no way to break the contract of their own accord.
The contract completely favours its holder.
What if the contractor is unconscious and destined to die, but the Servant wants to live How can the Servant be freed from such a contract and saved”
My father then looked at me.
“That person said this, All you need to do is inject Animium into the contract holder. A person with Animium in their body will not be able to hold the contract of a Servant.
Due to the interference between the Animium inside the body and the Animium in the Servant, they will repel each other like magnets.
If it is injected into a contract holder, automatically the contract will be broken.
Ever since I heard that, I’ve always carried this shot of Animium with me.
If something were to happen to me, my servant will be able to use this and break our contract immediately.”, saying that, father touched the sword, his servant, suspended on his waist.
Once I heard and understood what my father was about to do, I tried to shake Riley off, but it was impossible.
Riley was using his whole body weight to restrain me.
“But! If you do something like that he wouldn’t be able to form a contract with anyone else right” asked Nadia worriedly.
“Yes that’s right”, replied Riley while he was holding me down.
If that happened my mana will stagnate, and I will end up dying.
“I will take Katrina’s place and bind a contract with him.
That’s why, please…” begged Nadia with a trembling voice.
Riley sighed and said, “You really are kind Nadia.
However, all that will change is that this time it will be you who would be hurt.
No, my brother should never be allowed to make a contract with anyone else.”
My father thrust the needle inside my arm.
“I’ll break the contract! Stop!! STOP!!!!”
Nadia turned her face away as the metallic liquid was injected in to me.
Katrina suddenly touched the needle and forced every last drop of the liquid into me.
“Uwaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!”, I screamed as the cold metal began to rush into me.
An intense pain flooded my entire being, and my body began to convulse violently forcing Riley to get away from me.
My ears were stuffed up, and I heard faint voices as if they were coming from far away.
“Katrina! What did you do!! That was a lethal dose!!”, father’s voice retreated further.
“I just wanted to absolutely make sure that the contract was broken!! I didn’t know that it was a leathal dose!!” I could faintly hear Katrina’s voice.
Nadia was shouting something close to me, but I could no longer hear her.
My vision began to flicker.
Will I die like this All I’ve done so far was to hope that I would live to see the next day.
I’ve simply been going along with the flow, like a boat going down a river.
My hands were too weak to change the direction of the boat in these rapids.
I suppose I never had any oars to do so in the first place.
I’ve desperately tried to change my course by using my arms to push the water, but it was all for naught.
I was just helpless.
I never even had the strength to work hard.
Next time I hope I can live a happy life.
With my final strength I opened my eyes and saw Katrina’s face.
It was right after our contract was broken and when she was about to turn back into a sword, she wore a fearless smile.
Not what the author wrote, but it felt right.