That day was the first day I visited the imperial family, when I was old enough to make a contract with a spirit.

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***

 

The Altar of Spirits in the Imperial Palace.

 

Navy blue flags were hung along the white marble hallway, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

 

Marks representing each spirit were drawn on the flag.

 

‘After signing the contract, one of those marks will appear on the back of my hand, right?’

 

As I looked down at the back of my hand, which had not yet been engraved, I said to my father with a determined heart.

 

“Dad! I-I will make sure to sign a contract with a wonderful spirit!”

 

“…”

 

That day I was very excited.
My father, who was so hard to meet even though we lived under the same roof, went out with me.

 

My father’s face, which I haven’t seen in a long time was still indifferent, but I liked it even then.

 

If I succeed in signing a contract with a wonderful spirit, I expected my father to praise me for my hard work.

 

‘I’m a timid and stupid daughter, so he can’t be nice to me, but still, after signing the contract, my dad will surely give me some praise.’

 

The two older brothers who signed contracts with wonderful spirits must be Dad’s pride.

 

Unlike my brothers, I lack a lot, but if I at least have a spirit, it will be a little better… Well, that’s what I was thinking.

 

However.

 

“Dad… I-I’m sorry.”

 

I ran into an unexpected situation.

 

It is classified as one of the most dangerous spirits of the highest order, appearing only in legend, people were not even certain of its existence…

 

The spirit I chose was the ‘Spirit of Wishes’, and I learned that I shouldn’t tell the truth that I had signed a contract with him.

 

According to Wishit, the imperial family secretly seals contractors who made contracts with spirit classified as “dangerous”.
To put it simply, I might be killed without knowing.

 

“If you want to live, let them know that you have not been chosen by any spirits.”

 

I had no choice but to say what Wishit had tipped me off.

 

“I’m really sorry.
I… Uh, wasn’t chosen by any of the spirits.”

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“…”

 

The contractor’s mark that should have been engraved on the back of my hand did not appear, just as Wishit had said.

 

Dad looked down at the unmarked back of my hand for a long time, then without a word he quickly turned his back and left.

 

“D-Dad! Hold on.
Wait a minute.
L-Let’s go together! Dad!”

 

I ran breathlessly to catch my dad.
Through the wide, cold, long, empty hallway.

 

Then I remembered that I fell down.

 

Even when my knees hurt like as if they’re about to break, I raised my head while holding my voice in.

 

But even his back had already disappeared.

 

It was a really…sad and terrible memory.

 

***

 

“I know how Dad feels.
I’m saying this because I understand that I’m not good enough to be your daughter.”

 

“…I don’t remember.”

 

Dad frowned and spoke, then shook his head.

 

“I don’t know what my expression looked like back then.
I don’t remember.
But never once did I think of you as a shame for our family.
There is nothing wrong with not making a contract with the spirit.”

 

“…I suppose so.”

 

Dad ruffled his hair nervously at my sarcastic voice.

 

“You don’t believe me? You’re not to blame for the failure of the contract.”

 

“Yes, it’s not my fault.
It’s something I can’t do anything about, so I don’t think I did anything wrong.
But.”

 

“…”

 

“Couldn’t you just say it’s okay?”

 

Dad stopped and stiffened.

 

“So that I don’t think I did anything wrong.
So that I don’t feel ashamed.
I don’t need to be sorry.”

 

“…”

 

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“You could say that…you know?”

 

On the day the contract failed, in the carriage returning without any conversation, Rubette thought vaguely.

 

I probably won’t be able to become my father’s proud daughter for the rest of my life.

 

It’s not enough to be timid and stupid, and now I’m an idiot with no spirit, who’s even ruined the family’s name.

 

“Just thinking about how I’ve cried until my eyes were swollen that day, I hate you so much.”

 

Tears welled up again, so I turned my head around.

 

***

 

The first outing of the father and daughter ended in a really bad way.

 

Throughout the meal after arriving at the restaurant, Rubette was silent with a gloomy expression, and Leonard closed his mouth because he had a lot of thoughts.

 

“…”

 

As soon as she got home, Rubette got off the carriage and went in first.

 

Leonard dropped his hesitant hand weakly.

 

Adjutant Goth, who accompanied him on the outing, was following him.

 

“Goth.”

 

“Yes, my lord.”

 

“Was it half a year ago? I mean… Rubette’s birthday.
The day we went to the imperial palace for her contract.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Were you there then?”

 

“Yes, I was.”

 

Leonard took off his robe and handed it over to Goth, and threw himself weakly onto the bed and lay down.

 

Raising his arms and covering his eyes, Leonard tried to recall the fading memory.

 

“The expression on Dad’s face at that time is so engraved in my heart that I can’t forget it.”

 

“You looked like me like I was a failure, and left me alone and just walked away.”

 

Did I? Why?

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“Damn it.
I don’t remember clearly because I drank alcohol and was half-sober.
Tell me what it was like back then.”

 

“I don’t know.
There was nothing special about the princess, except that the contract with her spirit failed.
Ah.”

 

Instead of Leonard, Goth, who was groping for memory, let out a short exclamation.

 

“Didn’t my lord get a fine for assaulting the head of the altar, Mr.
Rauss?”

 

“Oh, right.
I beat that damn old man, didn’t I?”

 

Finally, he began to vaguely recall the memory of the day.

 

Six months ago, it was Rubette’s 15th birthday.

 

As a member of the chosen bloodline, Diollus, Rubette had to make a contract with the spirits without exception.

 

The place she needed to go to for the contract is the ‘Altar of Spirits’ in the Imperial Household.

 

The daughter’s expression as she was entering the altar alone, leaving behind about ten altar officials in white and her father, Leonard, was excited.

 

“Dad! I-I will make sure to sign a contract with a wonderful spirit!”

 

He thought it was very cute to see her looking forward to it with a face that looked just like her mother.

 

“Dad… I-I’m sorry.”

 

The expression on the daughter’s face was contemplative when she opened the door of the tightly closed altar and came out again.

 

“I’m really sorry.
I… Uh, wasn’t chosen by any of the spirits.”

 

Leonard, who had never been flustered, was also surprised at the time.

 

Among the owners of the golden eyes, there was not a single person who could not make a contract with the spirits.

 

However, his only daughter has become the protagonist of an unprecedented situation.
Even though she is of the chosen bloodline, she is not chosen by the spirits.

 

Leonard was a bit confused at the time, too, so he didn’t even think of trying to appease his tearful daughter.

 

“If this is true, it would be a great shame.”

 

An old man named Rauss, who oversees the Altar of Spirits, gritted his teeth with an expression of shame beside his crying daughter.

  

 

Perhaps when he heard the murmur, his complicated mind cooled down as if cold water had been poured on him.

 

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All the members of the altar were looking at Rubette with their eyes open… The situation made Leonard unbearably angry.

 

There were only about ten people watching now, but once they went outside, dozens or hundreds of mocking eyes would pour on his daughter.

 

“Give me your hand.”

 

His daughter’s hand, which he pulled hard without feelings, bore no contractor’s mark to be shown on the back of her hand.

 

What the daughter said that she was not chosen by the spirits was true.

 

“This is the worst.
I was worried because there was a rumor that she was incompetent, but sure enough.”

 

In the midst of the buzz, the sharp voice of the arrogant head of the altar, Rauss, clearly penetrated Leonard’s ear.

 

He thought he had frowned back then at the dirty feeling.

 

Unable to even think of soothing his trembling daughter, Leonard slowly looked up and looked around.

 

The eyes were the same.

 

As if judging the quality of a piece of meat placed on a chopping board, the eyes looking at Rubette.

 

“A half of Diollus.”

 

His already shocked daughter would hear them clearly.

 

With those words, the head, Rausss, left a sharp, insect-like stare, and left the altar with his tongue clicked.

 

From there, his mind went blank and his memory faded.

 

He followed him at a quick pace, thinking that the cheeky old man’s chin would have to be smeared.

 

“D-Dad! Hold on.
Wait a minute.
L-Let’s go together! Dad!”

 

Did Rubette…follow me? I don’t know because I didn’t looke back.

 

When I ran out of the long hallway of the altar building at once, I saw Rauss, who had come out first.

 

“What did you say to my daughter earlier? A half?”

 

“W-What… Look, Duke! U-Uack…!”

 

Leonard only came to his senses after he had turned the fat face of the old altar’s leader into a bloody mess.

 

The imperial family, who could not ignore the assault on the head of the altar, but could not sentence Duke Diollus to prison, imposed a light fine a month later.

 

That was the day Leonard vaguely remembered.

 

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