An Incongruous Meeting
After talking with Marquis Victaire for a little while longer, he eventually relented and I followed him towards his son’s room.
Well, to put it bluntly, I basically pressured him into doing it, but that’s not important.
The butler lead the way in front of the two of us, and as we walked deeper into the mansion the Marquis’ behaviour became slightly erratic. It’s as if he was trying to hide something, as his eyes darted this way and that even whilst we were talking, like he was desperately looking for an escape.
Or… Maybe it was just my imagination, but there was also something in the Marquis’ eyes that seemed like he was looking at the walls and doors we passed as if he hadn’t seen them in a long time, even though this was his house?
“This way, if you please.”
As those sorts of thoughts floated through my mind, the butler who was leading us through the halls stopped in front of a certain door.
“Young Master Masque is currently practicing his swordsmanship inside.”
“He’s training swordsmanship? Inside a room?”
“Yes. His current instructor made a point of having the young master practice inside. It was determined that he could be taught the basics without damaging the interior of the property.”
…Excuse me, what? What the hell is this?
As strange as it was that the boy was practicing swordsmanship inside, what was stranger still was that Marquis Victaire seemed to share my expression of surprise.
“Marquis Victaire, your son has certainly taken up swordsmanship at quite an early age, hasn’t he?”
“Y-yes… I thought it was necessary to build his character. M-moreover, it’s important for him to learn about things he may not encounter at home.”
Well, you can say that, but…
“I suppose this sort of training would be expected for a military family, but as I recall Marquis Victaire, your house has been ministers to the crown for centuries… do you intend for your son to be a knight?”
“Well, being the outsider that I am, it wouldn’t be my place to comment too much, but… at the risk of sounding rude, practicing swordsmanship at such a young age can place undue stress on a child’s body and could lead to complications for them later in life, so I really can’t recommend it.”
Of course, there are stories where the protagonist becomes powerful because they train from an early age, but… that’s only possible for someone with both innate talent as well as the intelligence to understand their body’s own limitations. If this was a military family with a lineage of being knights and commanders, then perhaps they would have a method for safely introducing their children to training with the sword when they were young, but it’s hard to imagine that a family that historically valued the pen over the sword like the House of Victaire have such a method. What’s more, if they’ve had to bring in an instructor from outside the family, then chances are they didn’t hire someone who was typically used to training noble children…
Yeah… I’ve already got a bad feeling about all this.
Marquis Victaire looked like he was trying to mumble out an answer, but… I didn’t care about that, and opened the door in front of me without hesitation.
There were two people inside the room; one was a man who at first glance looked like a mercenary, with a large and muscular build. The other was a young boy with green hair who couldn’t have been much older than Laurier, but… I opened the door just in time to see him collapsing to the ground.
Quickly rushing inside, I laid two fingers on the child’s pulse. As I felt a faint beating under my fingertips, I was relieved, but that feeling was washed away when I saw the fresh cuts and bruises all over the boy’s skin. When I saw that some of the bruises were a mix of deep purple and a sickly looking yellow, I felt my reason begin to snap as I remembered walking in on seeing something similar happen to Laurier.
“…Marquis Victaire. Would you care to explain just what is happening here?”
“T-This is… T-that’s right! I’m certain that this is just the proper way of being taught swordsmanship! Yes!”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
As the Marquis squirmed, he looked in desperation to the large man in the center of the room, who grinned as he answered.
“I don’t know who the hell you’re supposed to be, but this is how I teach swordsmanship, and I get results. You’d stop disturbing us, if you know what’s good for you.”
“Your method of teaching is to mercilessly beat a young boy?”
“An amateur like you wouldn’t understand, but this is how things are done. In fact, y’know that this is how the famous Grandmaster of the Order of Knights, Viscount Grieze, also teaches swordplay?”
“Oho…? That would be news to me. I happen to be quite good friends with Viscount Grieze, and I’ve seen how he teaches myself out on the training grounds, however…”
The man cut me off with a nasty sneer and a laugh.
“Well, this is how I’ve decided to teach, so I’ll do it any damn well way I please, what does an outside like you know?”
“And this here, this is the result of your teachings?”
As desperately as I wanted to throw an insult back in the face of that man who smirked at me… I managed to cool myself down and carried the still unconscious child to a nearby seat, before turning to look at Marquis Victaire.
“Marquis Victaire, this child is your son, is he not?”
“Y-yes… However, what…”
“I have one request to make of you. Will you leave this boy’s swordsmanship training to me?”