That's all for this arc of Lillia and Treize. I'm still working on the pdf and epub, but they'll be up by the end of the month.
Thanks, and enjoy.
Meriel and Treize
Quite a while ago, in Ikstova.
It was one winter, when Treize and Meriel were living in the valley.
They were in a warm room with a roaring fireplace. Because they were twins, they were both four years old. But—
“You’re s’pposed to listen to your big sister, stupid!”
“Stupid Meriel! I’m the big brother!”
And little Treize were embroiled in a fierce debate.
They were both still little, but upon closer inspection Meriel was very slightly taller than Treize.
“But you’re shorter than me! That’s really suspicious!”
Looks like little Meriel has quite the vocabulary.
“What did you say?”
Looks like little Treize is upset he can’t keep up with Meriel’s vocabulary.
“I’m the big sister, so you’re s’pposed to do what I say!”
“Nuh-uh, I’m the li-big brother!”
“Oh! You said it! You were gonna say ‘little brother’!” Meriel cried triumphantly, allowing no room for argument. It was a ruthless attack.
Little Treize flushed a deep red, unable to respond. His lips trembling, he desperately racked his brains—
Little Meriel snorted and replied instantly.
“Right back at you!”
“Stupid stupid stupid!”
“Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid! Times a hundred!”
Cornered, little Treize groaned unintelligibly and lashed out with both hands at little Meriel.
Little Meriel evaded and struck back, seeing through his feeble attack. She punched him.
“You started it!”
Punch. Smack. Thud. Ah, the argument’s finally turned into a fight.
Punch. Smack. Thud. Brother and sister slapped and shouted and punched.
“Hm. Excellent right hook. Expected no less from my daughter.” Said a heavily bearded man lounging on a chair at the side of the room.
Slap. Kick. Pow.
The battle to the death was reaching its climax.
That was when the queen herself rushed into the room.
“Both of you, enough! Do you want me to feed you to the snow monsters?!”
Little Treize froze, with a double-barrel nosebleed and tears welling in his eyes.
Little Meriel froze, with her right fist on Treize’s forehead and her left prepared to throw a punch.
“Hm.” Benedict nodded as he stood. “The winner is! Meriel!”
Afterwards, Benedict was badly scolded by the queen—”What were you doing just watching and letting them fight like that I don’t believe this siblings shouldn’t be hitting each other blah blah blah”—and little Meriel punched the air with a cheer.
Little Treize opened the door and ran as though escaping. He put on his jacket, his boots, and rushed out into the snow to the home of the old man, who was the best hunter in the village.
“Ah, Your Highness. What’s the matter, now? Why the tears?”
An elderly man stepped into the living room.
“Meriel’s picking on me!”
“Dear me. What shall we do?”
“I’m gonna beat her!”
“Teach me to shoot! You’re good at shooting, Grandfather!” Little Treize said between breaths. The old man nodded thoughtfully.
“Your Highness, a gun can make anyone stronger. Would you be happy to win that way?”
Waaaaaaaah! Little Treize finally burst into tears. As the old man—and his wife, bringing in tea—watched, Treize sobbed out loud for several minutes.
Little Treize hiccuped as he gasped and cried and cried. Eventually, the old woman brought a not-so-clean piece of cloth and gently wiped Treize’s face.
“I understand, Your Highness. I must follow your orders. I shall teach you to use a gun.” Said the old man, lightly tapping his knee.
When little Treize raised his head, the old man grabbed a rifle equipped with a scope from the wall and lifted it with ease. And he brought it over to Treize, who looked up at him with puffy eyes.
The old man checked to see that the rifle wasn’t loaded, and said,
“Your Highness, hold out your left hand.”
Little Treize nodded bravely and held out his left hand. The old man placed the rifle on it.
Unable to bear the weight of the rifle, little Treize fell over and hit his shoulder on the floor.
The old man sighed.
“My, my. If you can’t lift a gun with one hand, Your Highness, I’m afraid I can’t teach you to use it.”
Little Treize struggled to pull out his left hand from under the rifle and asked,
“Th-then what do I hafta do?”
The old man was quick to answer.
“You must train your body until you are able to lift a gun.”
“Surely you can lift something like this, Your Highness?”
The old man handed him a small shovel for clearing snow.
Little Treize took the shovel in his hands. It was small, but for little Treize it was almost 70% of his height.
“Clear the snow from the front porch, Your Highness. You will become stronger and more muscular that way. And you will be able to lift a rifle with ease.”
Little Treize nodded enthusiastically.
“And you know what else, Your Highness? Everyone will be so pleased when you finish shoveling. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.”
“Okay! I will! I’ll shovel! I’ll train!”
So for some time after that,
Little Treize passionately cleared snow from houses in the valley.
The local women would comment,
“Oh my. The queen’s son is growing up to be such a sweet boy.”
They heaped praises on him.
That didn’t mean, though, that Treize was immediately strong enough to beat Meriel.
Afterwards, whenever he lost to Meriel, Treize would visit the old man and ask him to teach him marksmanship.
“You must become stronger if you wish to use a gun, Your Highness. The best exercise in the springtime would be to re-pot the plants and move the soil.”
“You must have sharp eyes if you with to learn marksmanship. And summer is the perfect season—count the cattle in the distance and train your vision.”
“You must have stamina if you wish to maintain proper aim. I suggest going for a run in he mountains every day this autumn. From the forest with the orchard trees to… about here, I believe. And pick some fruits on the way back.”
“You must have fine control if you wish to pull the trigger. Here, give me a shoulder massage.”
Simple Treize was always excited for the next stage of training.
And he became the present-day Treize.
Of course, at some point he had completely forgotten about beating Meriel in a fight with a gun.
Present day. The year 3305.
“So in other words, it’s all thanks to me that you’ve gotten so strong. Where is your gratitude, little brother?”
“You’re the younger one, Meriel!”
“Is that any way to speak to the princess of this country? I should sue you for your insolence.”
“That’s fine by me! I’ve been itching to finally settle things between us!”
“Good. But I suppose mother might be sad to hear about us in court.”
“Ah. …Fine. Let’s not.”
“Then I win again.”
“Because you acknowledged defeat and backed down first.”
“It looks like you’ve still got a long way to go, little brother. Mwahahahaha.”
“Grandfather, I need your help.”
“What might be the matter, Your Highness? You’re already a strong young man. I have nothing more to teach you.”
“No, you do. Please tell me. How can I defeat Meriel in an argument?”
The prince hung his head. The old man narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice.
“Hmm… I’ve known the answer to that question for a very long time, Your Highness, but I suppose I have no other choice if it still escapes you. At my age, you never know how much time you have left.”
“…Please! How can I defeat her?”
The old man replied without missing a beat,
“I’m afraid that is impossible.”
-Meriel and Treize: End-