…This is a story about something that happened ten years ago.
I was still in training at that time.
My parents weren’t particularly strict, but instead they were very kind.
All the same, they wanted the best for me and had high expectations.
…I believe that that was more pressure than outright strictness.
If they had been cruel parents, I might have rebelled against their desires and decided to live my life however I wanted.
But because they were kind and made sure that I wanted for nothing, I wanted to do something to repay them.
I wanted to please them and make them proud, if that was possible for me.
Thankfully, I had talent at schoolwork and various other things, so I was able to secure results for them.
They knew that their hard work to provide for me had paid off, and that I appreciated them, so they thanked me for my efforts and praised me.
Still, whenever they told me that I could take a break, I ignored it in favor of working harder.
I guess I just didn’t want to slack off.
I didn’t know many other children.
The ones I met were all distant relatives or rivals within the family.
So I didn’t have any playmates, but instead associated solely with adults.
It wasn’t a painful childhood, but it certainly wasn’t a normal one.
…In the end, after my parents became sick, I was entrusted into the charge of my grandparents.
They took over my education with great strictness and fervor.
I knew that they weren’t trying to be cruel, but were just expecting a great deal from me as the heir.
“—You must represent everything of the noble house of Branthèse.”
That’s what I was always told, and I took those words seriously.
After all, in the main family, I was the only child.
The other houses descended from the great magus Valois also poured everything they had into raising a single child.
Think of it as the normal upbringing for a child of a magus, but on a much greater scale.
That was the idea.
When my parents couldn’t take care of me, I was only eleven years old, but I had already completed the transplant of the Magic Crest and was well-learned in the basics and how to use it.
So even when it was painful, I was capable of shouldering the burden my grandparents and the rest of the family wanted to place on me.
It was around that time.
I heard the adults talking about a grand ritual called the Holy Grail War.
Gradually, I learned the purpose and components of the war.
They said that someone from the lineage of Valois would probably be chosen to take part in the sixth one.
…The Holy Grail War took place in a town called Fuyuki or “winter tree” in the far-off land of Japan.
For European magi like us, that was a great distance, but for the pride of our magic, we couldn’t falter.
To be chosen for such a thing, there was no way to back out gracefully.
So I was given a tutor in Japanese and began to learn more and more.
I was prepared.
Slowly, I was made ready, and learned more and more about the system of the Einzberns’ ritual, the “Heaven’s Feel”.
If I wanted to fulfill my family’s expectations, I had to make sure that I was the one most fit to be chosen as a participant.
…But that is a long story and this is a simple memory.
“Roswell, do you understand?”
I was asked that by my father.
I couldn’t actually go into the room where he and my mother were.
They had advanced tuberculosis and it was at the point where nothing could be done anymore.
…Vaguely, I understood it.
No, at that age I still would have understood it quite well.
My memories aren’t perfect, but I remember perceiving the air of death.
I’d also gotten the disease but had recovered thanks to the healers and medicine, and I was being kept away during my recovery to make sure that I wouldn’t relapse.
“—There’s one chair and only one person can fit in it.”
Anyway, that was what my father said, and that seemed to be the case.
I had only known about the Holy Grail War for a short time.
But my parents told me that if I had the chance, I should take it.
If I won the war, I would be able to gain honor for our family.
But more importantly, I would be able to have a wish to myself.
I didn’t have any wishes.
But I thought idly that if there was ever something that I couldn’t make come true with my own two hands and my work studying magic, the Holy Grail wouldn’t be a bad thing to have.
My parents entrusted me with that charge and died not long after.
I was sad and lonely, but all the same, they had given me something to work toward.
Something to remember them by.
—Since then, Roswell Branthèse has been in the running to participate in the Holy Grail War held in Fuyuki—