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the start

 Intermission: The Start of Everything

Her brother's existence was in the way.

No matter what he was put up to, no matter what trouble he ran in to, her brother that would pull it all off with a smile... Lyle Walt was a hindrance.

The girl who thought that was just about to greet her seventh birthday. Her brother Lyle would become nine.

A brother two years older. An eyesore.

The Weihs territory. The city at its center was one of the prominent cities of the Bahnseim Monarchy. This was a territory the feudal lords of old had poured their lifeblood into completing.

Even the Walt House once called upstarts now boasted a history of two hundred and fifty years, alongside numerous achievements. They had climbed up all the way to be the most prominent nobles in Bahnseim.

The Walt House... Celes Walt was yet another of the influential noble Walt Line.

The Walt House mansion was busy to celebrate Lyle's birthday, but that as it was, it was wrapped in a merry air.

When Celes left her room, she would stick on a smile, and spend her days with it plastered on her face. So not to show what was inside. If she went against her brother, she knew she would simply be hammered down.

A difference in ability... even as siblings, there was more than a large wall, or two, or three between Lyle and Celes.

They both carried the same blood of Septem. They had both awakened to the depths of their blood. And yet her brother Lyle didn't seem to care about that at all.

As she looked out the window from her room, a wrinkle graced Celes's brow. She looked at the people working around the mansion.

"... How repulsive. Each and everyone one of them, it's disgusting."

Placing their expectations on her brother Lyle, and praising her brother Lyle. That was something Celes couldn't forgive.

But if she let it show on the outside, she didn't know what her parents would say. If they did find out, in order protect their heir Lyle, there was a possibility Celes would be sent off elsewhere. In the worst case, perhaps she would spend her life in confinement.

And that alone Celes wanted to avoid.

So she endured her hatred and spent every day all smiles and laughs.

While both of them carried the blood of Septem, as if split into yin and yang, Celes and Lyle were opposites.

And the more Lyle shined, the darker more did Celes' shadow become.

As she let off her rage in the confines of her room, she heard a knock at the door.

"Celes-sama, the master is calling for you."

Hearing the voice of a servant of the mansion, Celes let out a cute, lovable voice. Her expression was a ghastly one, but what left her mouth was lovable beyond measure.

"I'm coming~."

Before exiting the room, she changed her expression, and with a smile, she accompanied the servant to her father Maizel.

Seeing Celes' smile, the servant seemed joyful. He believed her false smile as the genuine article.

A truly delighted smile. Celes had no doubts that everyone saw it so.

(They really do all have knotholes for eyes. Well, I couldn't care less about that. More importantly, father. I'm sure it's about my birthday. I wonder what I should ask for.)

Her beloved parents. While she treated all other humans equally as trash, Celes didn't want to be hated by her parents alone. She had a strong desire to be loved.

That was also related to Septem's blood in her veins.

The mansion corridor.

Her talks with Maizel over, Celes walked down the path in good humor. Right now she was alone, but she was so delighted she might've broken into dance.

(Lots of specially-tailored dresses for me. He looked a little troubled, but if it's father, he'll definitely grant my wish.)

When asked what she wanted for her birthday, Celes had asked for a dress. Not just a dress. The footwear and accessories to match. She had asked for multiple full sets.

Maizel did look troubled, but it seems he did intend to grant the wishes of his adorable daughter. It was that very fact that made Celes more boisterous than any present ever could.

There, from the other side of the corridor, Lyle came walking.

Celes' feelings instantly took a turn to the absolute worst, but even so she stuck on her smile and gave Lyle her greetings.

(Well, I'm in a good mood today, so I guess I'll throw in a freebie. This one's troublesome if you get him angry.)

"Dear brother, are you making for father as well?"

There, Lyle smiled and nodded.

"Yeah, I was called for. I think it's about your birthday, but... what's this, it looks like you really are happy today. You usually give me a much scarier smile, but this one definitely suits you a lot more."

At that instant, a chill raced down her spine.

Lyle continued smiling as he continued on and passed her by. He did call out to her, but to the current Celes, it was as if she hadn't heard anything at all.

"... That can't be. It should have been perfect. My smile was perfect... That one... he noticed it all."

Expressionless.

What assailed Celes was unease, jealousy, hatred, various things were pressed up against her all at once. Her everything had been seen right through.

As she thought that, Lyle became unbearably scary.

Yet at the same time that he looked upon her so lightly invited a tempestuous hatred.

(To me... you've made light of me, Lyle! You trash! Compost! I won't forgive it. I definitely won't forgive it!)

As she walked down the corridor in quick stride, Celes wanted to return to her room at once. In her room she'd cry out, and she had the urge to break something.

As she walked down the corridor with that on her mind, she found her mother Claire. Stopping in her tracks, Celes hurriedly killed down her feelings and made a smile.

(It's perfect. My smile is perfect. I'll definitely be fine.)

Growing increasingly anxious, she turned her smile to her mother. Claire gave a warm smile back.

"Celes, did you tell Maizel what you wanted?"

"Y-yes, mother. I asked for a few dresses."

There, Claire touched a hand to her face.

"If it's dresses, you already have some. And we've already properly prepared one for you, so you have to wear that one. But you're a girl after all, Celes."

Claire said it quite troubled, but she didn't find fault in buying more dresses for Celes. Hearing that, Celes was relieved. To Celes, a reprimand from her parents was akin to despair.

"I-I've said something selfish."

"It's fine. You're doing your best, Celes. By the way, have you seen Lyle around?"

She was praised. But right after came the name of Lyle.

Her mother was looking for Lyle.

"... He was headed for father."

"I see. Thank you Celes. That child is growing up too, so I want to get this and that together for him. He'll need a horse and weapon before he turns fifteen. That's right! Celes, do you want to get a present for Lyle with me?"

"A present?"

"I'm either getting a horse or armor. Maizel said he wanted to hand over a sabre with his own hands, and he won't listen to anyone on the matter. So I've decided on the horse or the armor. When that time comes, could you be with me?"

The Walt House had used a different weapon generation after generation. They were a group with strong characteristics. Perhaps it couldn't be helped. But Lyle had chosen the same sabre as his father.

And that was something most joyous for Maizel.

Celes spoke to Claire with a smile. In truth she wanted to decline, but if she denied her parents' beloved Lyle, she was scared she would be hated herself.

"Y-yes! I'll be there."

"That's good. Ah, but you have to keep it a secret. With these sorts of things, I want it to be a surprise when I hand it over. But that boy is way too sharp. I'm worried whether I can surprise him or not. Celes, let's go out together to buy Lyle's present next time."

With those words, Claire made for Maizel and Lyle. Celes saw her off with a smile, but when she was out of sight, she hung her head. There was no one around.

"... It's my birthday... but they only ever talk about... I won't forgive it. I definitely won't forgive it. I want to take everything from him. It's all... it's all mine. I won't give a single thing to him."

Celes bit her lip.

But she heard a voice.

[Those are quite the muddled emotions. But not bad. Not bad at all... Celes.]

Celes glared around. The only ones in the mansion allowed to call her without any honorifics were her parents, or so she had decided internally.

Someone else calling her so was a deed she wouldn't permit.

But there was no one around.

[Don't be so angry. I'm your ally. The feelings you direct at your brother... I understand them. That's right. In that case... I can even help you out if you want.]

"... Who? This isn't very funny for a prank."

[It's no prank. Let me show you evidence. You remember your grandmother's room? Right now it's not being used. Go over there.]

Irritated as she was Celes headed for her grandmother Zenoire's room. The voice came from a woman. Fascinating, but be that as it may, it was a voice she had never heard in the mansion before.

Perhaps it belonged to an assassin. But curiously enough, Celes feet made for the place the voice designated.

They were connected by something. Celes had noticed the connection.

And she entered the room. In that room that was cleaned at regular intervals, where the voice led her was under the floor. What's more, hidden under the bed.

Celes crawled under the bed, and groped around the floor as instructed to find one portion open up. There were various things inside.

[The other things don't matter. You see a box in there? Right, that one.]

It was what looked like a music box. It really was a music box. But perhaps it was broken, as it wouldn't make a sound.

"What about it?"

[Fufufu, there's actually a secret compartment to it. It has a trick to it. Try opening it as I tell you.]

Creeping out from under the bed, she brushed off the sweat with her hands, and tried following the voice's instruction to open the box. It was a complex mechanism and method. But the box itself did feel strangely heavy. It looked to be made of wood, but it was as if it had been strictly sealed off.

And once she had undone those complex contraptions, what she found was a yellow gem, a few centimeters across. The voice she heard was coming from there.

[It's a pleasure to meet you, Celes. I know you, but you do not know me. My name is Agrissa... You've at least heard of me before, haven't you?]

"... You jest."

Taking the Yellow Jewel in hand, Celes laughed a bit. But she felt power from the Jewel. The yellow radiance was like that of the finest gemstone, a charm that made it feel as if she was being sucked in.

[It's not a lie. Your grandmother was my descendent. She was also cute, but she was stubborn, you see. She wouldn't make any dealings with me. Originally, that box should have been entrusted to another to manage, but that Zenoire... at the end of the end, she said she couldn't trust you, and kept it hidden away. It was an object she couldn't throw away so easily. It seems she was considerably worried... and at the end of it all, her life's flame went out.]

Celes listened to the story the Jewel told.

And when she heard of what the Jewel could do, she smiled wide.

She spoke.

"You're helping me, right? Then what's the price?"

[Oh, no wonder Zenoire was wary of you. You do resemble me in my youth. That's right... you have to entertain me. And if ever comes the time that you breathe your last breath, give your body to me. I want to revive.]

There, Celes' smile extinguished.

"... That's all? That's all I must give to take everything from Lyle? That's certainly shady. I was sure you'd tell me to give you my body at once."

Hearing that, Agrissa laughed.

[You're a firm one. There's a considerable amount of courage resting in you yet. I see, so to you, it's worth is but a trifle. But if you think of what my revival would mean, it would be a major problem for the continent.]

Celes scoffed.

"If that's the measly cost I must pay to get what I want, it's a cheap buy. Very well, if I die then do what you want. That's all it takes to obtain power that exceeds his... it's cheap as can be."

As Celes held the Jewel up high, it began to let off an amber light.

[Then let it be so. I will lend my power to you. First, let us awaken your Skill.]

... On that day, Celes laid hands on an immense power. This encounter would spread death and destruction through the continent.

This was also the start of a battle that enraptured the continent as a whole.

Claire (#゜Д゜): "No matter how you look at it, the war criminal here is my mother-in-law! Manage it more strictly! And wait, at least tell me something about it!"

Zenoire (#´∀`): "Hey, I noticed Celes' abnormality. The mother who overlooked it is the war criminal. Rather, I wouldn't trust you if it was the death of me. To add to that, I hate you."

Eighth Generation Head (; ・`д・´): "F-father!? In these situations, who do I side with..."

Seventh Generation Head :(;゛゜'ω゜'): "You fool! Don't get any closer! We haven't heard a thing. We haven't seen a thing. And that is the truth!"