The moment I spoke, a white arrow shot forth from my hand, pointed diagonally upwards. Gliding through the sky in a straight line, it struck a bird flying from a distance.
After letting out what looked like a scream, the bird lost its balance and fell straight down.
Seems like that settles tonight’s dinner. I began to walk over to where the bird fell.
Magic Arrow is a spell that shoots an arrow of mana from your held-out hand.
It’s a staple spell that even an infant would know—the basics of the basics. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that every single apprentice magician learns this spell first.
Of course, I was no exception.
It was the very first spell I learned, as well as the very last.
Those words are what I have to show for the 26 years I’ve lived so far—a mere two lines. The entirety of my life adds up to just two lines of text.
I was born into a marquis-ranked noble household as the eldest son, but I wasn’t the most capable person. I was frequently compared to my brilliant younger brother and took the full brunt of everyone’s complaints.
“What a shame Sir Albert is—he’s the very picture of stupidity. Compared to his younger brother, he’s truly pathetic! I feel terrible when I think of how his parents must feel. To think that if only he wasn’t the first-born, there would be no need to worry so!”
It was frustrating, but I couldn’t say anything back. It was true, after all. The look in my parents’ eyes told me everything I needed to know.
However, even I had a single talent—or rather, something believed to be a talent.
That talent was magic.
Without having done any particular training, I was able to use Magic Arrow.
I was only ten years old at the time.
This was all a huge surprise to everyone.
“That moronic older brother has talent in magic!”
That fleeting moment was the first time my parents had a look of pride and joy when they looked at me.
After that, I fully devoted myself to studying magic.
In the end, I was unable to use anything besides Magic Arrow, but my parents reassured me.
“Albert, only those who have received harsh training from a very young age can call themselves magicians. There’s still no need to rush.”
I still had faith in my own talent.
I believed I could make it—that I could become someone. That precisely because I had this talent, I wasn’t blessed with anything else.
To prove it, I enrolled in the Magic Academy in the royal capital when I turned 15.
It wasn’t because of the overwhelming skill-disparity that surrounded me. It went further back than that—it was because I couldn’t conquer my own weakness.
I was unable to learn anything other than Magic Arrow.
As one would expect from a Magic Academy, there were already students who could use more than ten spells all over the place.
I believed that one day, I would catch up to them.
However, I was unable to learn a single new spell. The gap between me and everyone else would only continue to grow, no matter where I looked.
Far from catching up to the best, I even started losing to students at the same level as me. While I was at a stand-still with Magic Arrow, the other students continued to learn new spells rapidly.
Only I was left behind.
A magician’s status is decided by the number of spells they can use. In the blink of an eye, I went from “Child Prodigy” to “Failure”.
I ultimately ran from the Magic Academy before a single year passed. I didn’t drop out—I literally ran away. Without telling a single soul, I took my belongings from the dormitory and fled.
The fact that there wasn’t anyone who believed in me and didn’t doubt me—the reality that I was nothing more than a fool, crushed me.
It drove me to a wall, to the point where I could do nothing but run.
I had the money my parents gave me to use as living expenses, so I used that to wander around for a while. I didn’t want to go home—I was scared of seeing my parents’ cold-hearted stare.
However, I ran out of money.
At the time, I was just a noble kid who didn’t know about the world, nor was I capable enough to live on my own.
Starving, I knocked on the gates of my parents’ home.
Waiting for me was the cold gaze of my parents and brother.
My father told me so:
“You’re a stain on our family name.”
“Plenty of noble kids go to that school. Thanks to you, our family has become a laughing stock. They call us ‘the shameless that ran from school.'”
Then, he continued like so:
“I suppose a moron will always be a moron. I should have locked you inside without expecting anything out of you. At the very least, you wouldn’t have scarred our family honor.”
That was the first time I heard my own father speak those words. I knew he’d always thought of me like that, but he had his way of being considerate as a father, so he never told me up-front like that until now.
He finally said it.
I opened my mouth. I felt like I needed to say something.
However, Father wouldn’t listen. He spoke in a way as if to block out what I would say.
“Enough. Don’t speak. Don’t do anything. Don’t make me expect anything out of you. You’d be better off gone. Do us a favor and never show your face here again.”
Then, at the very end, he said one last thing:
“You’re banished. Never call yourself by the Luminous family name ever again.”
They kicked me out of the house.
That said, it’s not like he left me with nothing. As if fulfilling his final duty as a parent, my father left me a residence and sent money for living expenses.
In short, it was consolation money.
Ten years have passed since then.
I’m currently living alone in the house he gave me. I had an elderly maid that helped me with my chores a few years back, but she ended up retiring because of her age.
While thinking about this and that, I arrived at my destination.
“Here it is.”
After exiting the woods, I found the bird lying in a meadow.
My house was a bit far from the royal capital, located in a peaceful spot surrounded by a thin forest.
My house was originally a villa owned by a senior noble. My father was an acquaintance of his, and it seems like he received it from him.
When I approached the dead bird—
I was startled by what I saw.
Next to the highway connecting to the royal capital, someone was sitting under the shade of a tree.
While this road does lead to the capital, it isn’t the main road. People seldom travel through here, so I didn’t think there’d be anyone here.
The person was wearing a pure white robe. With their face covered by a hood and their head leaning downwards, I couldn’t distinguish their gender.
They didn’t move an inch, so they didn’t seem to notice me.
I don’t really have any issues with anyone being here, but I feel a little embarrassed when I think of how my soliloquy might’ve been overheard.
Well, it doesn’t matter. I should hurry up and go on my way after collecting the bird.
When I set off back to the woods—
—I heard a strange noise. When I looked back, the traveler resting in the shade was lying down.
I was a bit surprised. Their posture was unnatural, and it didn’t seem like they fell asleep. It was as if they collapsed—
I approached the traveler.
“Hey, are you alright?”
Getting down on my knee, I shook the traveler’s shoulder. No reaction. However, I was able to see the traveler’s face.
It was a girl.
She looked to be a young lady around 15 years old. She had pure white hair resembling snow that went down to her shoulders. Her face was abnormally pale, and her breathing was rough. When I placed my hand on her nape, it was hot enough to make me worry.
“…Maybe I should nurse her at home…”
It’s true that I was a little hesitant. It’s not that I wanted to put off working—I have nothing better to do, anyway. I don’t mind doing this much.
The problem is that I’m about to drag an unfamiliar, barely-conscious young lady to my house—where I live alone—on a whim. Isn’t that a little..?
The girl let out a painful grunt.
Looks like I don’t have the time to be fussing over things. Praying that I wouldn’t give her any strange misunderstandings, I lifted her up.