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On A Certain Winter
Long, long time ago, in a small, secluded eastern village…
There lived a certain human tribe with the mysterious beings they called “The Harts”.
The Harts were mythical beings that loved to play with illusion and could transform themselves to resemble something else. It was said that they never showed their real forms to anyone.
The Harts needed to “synchronize” with other living beings and lived off their energy. The human tribe needed to protect themselves from outsiders. As such, the two sides started an unlikely relationship that proved to be so harmonious.
Until one day.
A mysterious plague started to come for the said human tribe.
The Harts, who had grown attached to this certain human tribe, felt disheartened seeing that their beloved partners would soon leave this world forever. Leaving all of them alone again.
Not wanting to watch their cherished partners succumb to deaths and not wanting to return to their former lives of loneliness, the Harts decided to use their remaining power to save the human tribe, assimilating and fusing themselves with their respective partner. This way, they could save the humans they loved, and they could forever be together with their beloved partners.
Thus, the human tribe who were assimilated with the Harts shared some certain characteristics. Odd-colored eyes, abilities to create illusion and to transform. As if gaining the blessing of the mythical beings, most also possessed good affinity with magic.
The human tribe felt overwhelmed with gratitude of their beloved partners, and each time they closed their eyes to feel within themselves, they could feel the presence of the Harts inside them.
Therefore, the said human tribe decided to declare themselves as “The Hartmann”—the man of the Harts.
After I was reincarnated into the Hartmann family, I often heard such a story as a bedtime story. It was so dreamy and lovely—the legend of the Hartmann clan. In my opinion, it was a much better story than the legend of the Grabberton’s origin.
The legend of the Grabberton’s origin portrayed a heroic story where the founder of the clan was the sole survivor of the tragedy that destroyed his hometown. Vowing that he would exact revenge for his family members and friends, he departed on a journey, conquering many ferocious beasts and absorbing their power, and eventually—the fateful encounter with the hero, the founder of Riviera country.
While the tale really sounded all glorious and empowering, I preferred stories that emphasized more on “special bonds”. Therefore, the Hartmann’s tale won over my heart in an instant.
At that time, when I first heard of the story, a question popped in my mind.
“If the Hartmann was actually a tribe, why is it that the Hartmann becomes only a clan—or a family?”
And then, my question was answered in a story about the founder of Riviera and his connection with the ones who would begin the Hartmann clan.
Long time after the Hartmann tribe continued their way of living: secluded, peaceful, and closed off from the rest of the world… Finally, war began and people started to notice the Hartmann tribe’s peculiarity.
Many of them tried to win over the Hartmann tribe for they wanted to make use of the Hartmann tribe’s unique ability, yet the Hartmann tribe stood still with their initial standing: That they wanted to live peacefully, not meddling in another’s business.
Eventually, many of the parties, who at first wanted the Hartmann tribe’s cooperation, started to view the Hartmann tribe as a potential threat.
Until one day, one of the parties—if not a coallition of these parties—decided to make their move and annihilate the entire tribe.
Save for the last remaining Hartmann children. A pair of children, a pair of siblings… They were the ones who would become the founder of the Hartmann clan later on—a pair of twins.
Luchi, the older twin sister with red-green eyes and straight, long, and lustrous golden hair. Lanchi, the younger twin brother with blue-red eyes and his charming short golden hair.
The two vowed that they would end the war that caused them to lose their everything and not let anyone else go through the same sadness and pain they felt. That was when they met the hero and his allies.
It was said that the pair of twins were invincible when they were together. Together, they assisted the hero, Odis—also the founder of Riviera—and their allies in their journey to end the Great War and free the humans from their miseries, building the Riviera country.
I didn’t know what caused me to dream that tale again.
It had been long since I last heard that as my bedtime stories.
Yet, I still dreamed of it again, and the twins’ figures remained in my mind—at least, according to my imagination and the available portraits of them.
As I woke up in my bed, trying to figure out the meaning of my dream (although I’m not always this superstitious), I started to think that I might know what triggered me to dream of it.
I was reminded of how Dad kinda made suggestive remarks—or hints that I might become a real older sister in the future.
As I haven’t heard anything from Dad and Mom… yet, let alone knowing what gender would my little sibling be… yup, thus I imagined both genders—in the form of the Hartmann twins.
I never really noticed that I wanted to have my own children—I meant, my own younger sibling(s) that much!
Wow, this dream really revealed my deepest desire!
I couldn’t wait to hear a good news from Dad and Mom… soon, I believe!!
Even after I waited and waited, there didn’t seem to be any signs.
I was expecting Dad or Mom to say that my new sibling was on the way, but…
What the hell am I seeing right now?
Dad, instead of spending more time at home to nurture his relationship with Mom, for the sake of giving me and Alt-nii the new sibling we hoped for…
Instead… he seemed to get busier and spent more time going on “work trip”.
Did Dad get ton of new work when it was time for him to get pumped to give me a younger sibling?
That’s really a pity, but well…
I guess… my new sibling will come way later…
No matter, though!
I can wait!!
In my previous life, I became an older sister when I was 9.
I’m now… 8 years old… Oh well, Dad and Mom are so in love with each other and they are still young, so I’m sure I will be an older sister again when I’m 9… right? Or having a new sibling when I’m 10 is also fine.
I can pamper my younger sibling a lot and help Mom and Dad take care of them, right?
Anyway, I decided to forget about that, as I haven’t really heard more from Dad or Mom after that one time when Dad mysteriously asked me my opinion on getting new sibling.
…Not having my own younger sibling is also fine, actually. I have Leticia and Ein as my younger siblings figure.
What bothered me now was how Dad seemed to be going out more frequently and each time took longer than usual.
The other day, when I asked him while pouting…
“Dad, you asked me if I would welcome a new sibling, yet you’re getting busier. What will happen if I really have a new sibling and you can’t even spend time with them? Besides, will I really get a new sibling?”
Dad bitterly smiled, patted my head and said ambiguous thing such as…
“Well, maybe. We might welcome your new sibling once I’m done with this current investigation I’m doing, but that also depends.”
Okay, I don’t care anymore about the sibling thing. I just want him to finish his work faster and spend more time at home!
Pamper me more, Dad! Wait, no!
“Come home and rest, Dad!”
“Haha, thank you, Lyra.”
Winter arrived once more and looking at the sceneries outside painted in white, I began to think of Dad more.
Is he out there in the cold snow alone? Or is he with his other allies?
Does he miss the warm winter holidays he used to spend at home?
What the heck is he investigating, anyway?
When he last departed from this house, he said, “Don’t worry, I will be finished with my current mission soon. I might clear this mission by the time I return home this time, okay?”
Still, he didn’t say when was the exact time.
The snow started to pile up once more, and it was raining snow today as well.
Back then, I wanted to spend more time alone, enjoying winter in the warm bed while reading some books and sipping the hot chocolate Chloe made… instead of being forced to play snow outside with Dad, especially.
But now, I missed those days instead.
…Come to think of it. The dream I had this morning just made me remember something.
It was said that the Hartmann tribe was annihilated on a snowy day like this, too.
I wonder what the Hartmann twins must have felt upon seeing the red color of blood tainting the pure white snow on their homeland?
It seemed that my mind wandered off too far, but…
Yeah, the Hartmann twins were the only case of two people building an entire clan or ducal house. The other ducal houses only started with one person each. Logic stated that the Hartmann clan should be the largest clan.
So… how could we become the smallest clan instead?
Hmm… Ah right.
Just as how the Hartmann tribe was annihilated by the parties who felt like they might pose a threat, I heard that there was a certain point in the past where history repeated itself.
…All the more I had to be careful.
On my fourth winter holiday as Lyra, my family was also attacked and targeted. Dangers like that might show up again in the future, no matter what the reason might be, so I ought to train hard and be careful.
…Dad, please be careful and return safely soon. I want to train more with you!!
Just as I was thinking of Dad and wondering on when he might return home, saying that he was finally finished with his work or mission for real…
Suddenly, I saw a familiar figure from the window, where I was peeking into the all-white scenery outside. The figure was quite far away, but I could tell who it was.
Before I could even think, my body moved on its own to go down the stairs, to open the door and welcome my beloved father.
The moment I opened the door—ekh, it wasn’t just raining snow, it was almost a snow storm!! The wind was so strong—even if I said the cold never bothered me anymore now that I possessed [Ice] magic… I was still bothered by this weather, okay?!
I decided to close the door and apply more mana to the magic heater in the room.
Maybe it’s wiser for me to close the door and do this, so when Dad opens the door, he will be greeted by the warm room!
So I focused on keeping myself warm as well—with my back facing the front door.
I could always turn around when Dad opened the door. He would surely be delighted to see me first thing first!!
My prediction was right.
Before long, I could sense the door being opened.
Then, what followed after that…
…was Dad’s familiar voice.
I quickly turned around, stood up, and ran towards my father.
“Dad, welcome home!”
At that time, I noticed something was off.
No, it wasn’t Dad’s slightly messy appearance. It was almost a snow storm outside, so this was to be expected.
But what was off was…
The appearance of unfamiliar figures hiding behind Dad.
Two pair of eyes peeked from Dad’s left and right side.
The two children’s hair color was pale white, just like the snow outside.
Their stature… was short.
I guess they might be as old as Leticia…
Wait, that wasn’t the most important part here!
The-the-the-the-the… the two pair of eyes…!! There were different colors on each pair of eyes.
It was definitely the Hartmann family’s peculiarity, right?
Dad… I was certainly looking forward to new addition of the family, to new siblings…
BUT I CERTAINLY DIDN’T MEAN ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN!!!
Perhaps noticing how I was standing frozen in front of him as my eyes blankly stared at the pair of children he brought along with him, Dad finally moved his mouth.
But that wasn’t the sort of explanation I wanted to hear.
“Lyra, say hello to our new family members!”
…Yes, that was the last thing I wanted to hear!!!!!!
I am really expecting comments in this chapter >< lol