Memories Burned Deep
(…….I wonder if Francesca thinks that my skill is [switching wounds with my own body] or something like that?)
While holding down on the pain he was feeling in his abdomen, Leonardo continued to climb up the stairs.
He had a self-deprecating smile on his face. Francesca, with her clever and observant nature, must have realized that an exchange of injuries had happened between her father and Leonardo.
In truth, he wanted to keep that fact hidden but, the situation didn’t allow for that anymore.
But still, he felt miserable just thinking about how he had made Francesca think that he had this kind of a skill.
(Even if it is an [exchange], I wish I had a normal healing skill that could simply heal people from the day I was born……….but, alas, I am………)
He had continued to live in a manner where he could choose things that were not allowed to anyone else.
The day he had decided to live that way, had occurred on one fateful day, seven years ago.
Having just turned 10, Leonardo had yet to awaken to his skills and how he wished that he could have continued to live on like that forever.
He was afraid of gaining power because he hated the very idea of being dragged into a succession fight. If he somehow ended up with really powerful skills, he would only cause more problems to a certain someone.
But, without paying any heed to his thoughts, said person said something like this.
[Do you really don’t want to know your skills?]
[They’re all super strong and cool skills, truly fitting for someone like you though!]
That day, sitting on the hill where their secondary residence was located, the person who had extended a hand to him was his own older brother, 7 years elder than him.
He had the same black hair, and golden eyes like Leonardo as well.
Unlike Leonardo, who was often told that he resembled his mother, his brother had very clearly taken after his father when it came to looks. The heir to the Aldini house, his brother, would always be laughing brightly.
Faced with such a brother, Leonardo spoke out very frankly.
[I told you, I don’t want it.]
One of his older brother skills was the ability to appraise and assess other people.
The ability to discern people was an ability that was very useful in the underworld. His skill could even tell about skills that the person being appraised didn’t even know themselves.
Back then, his brother was excited like a kid opening presents, and desperately wanted to tell Leonardo about his skills.
But, Leonardo continued to avoid and dodge the topic.
[I have no interest in whatever skills I have.]
But his brother could see through Leonardo’s true thoughts.
As a proof of that, with a wry smile, his brother spoke so.
[Seriously, they’re all incredible skills that will shock everyone.]
(Then, all the more so.)
Inside his mind, Leonardo said this to her recently turned 17 brother.
(………I don’t want a power that could be a threat to your future.)
His brother shrugged his shoulders, giving up, and then spoke to Leonardo again.
[C’mon, let’s go, father’s waiting. There’s a meeting with the Selena family. We also need to pay attention and learn about how to do these deals properly as well.]
A carriage was waiting at the end of the hill, and they could see that their father had already gotten inside it.
Seeing his father who was ready to leave ahead of time, and his brother, who seemed to be looking forward to it all, Leonardo could only feel a bit astonished.
[There’s no reason for us to go into that meeting as equals. If it comes to the strength of the family, we are obviously much bigger, and depending on how we go about it, we could easily get an alliance with completely advantageous terms. If we try to unnecessarily talk too much, it’s much more likely that Dad would completely comply with everything the other family asks of us.]
[Hmm, as expected of my little brother. You have a good eye at analyzing underworld management, even at the young age of just 10.]
[……..it’s not like you or father would change their minds, no matter what kind of advice I give anyway though. Worst case, we might even get completely swindled by the Selena family. I’ve already prepared myself for that.]
When he said that, his older brother simply rubbed his head and laughed.
[Fine, I’ll believe you. Dad always says that right? After all, the creed of our Aldini family is Strength first and foremost.]
While getting his hair ruffled by his brother, Leonardo looked up to the side profile of his brother’s face.
[Strength, is not just brute strength, it’s the strength of heart.——the person that can wholeheartedly trust others is the one that is stronger than anybody in the world.]
Seeing him say that, his brother really looked just like his father in that moment.
Even to a 10 year old Leonardo, his brother and father always seemed a bit too bright, dazzling even. He even doubted if he had the same blood running through his veins. That’s how straightforward those two were.
Everytime he narrowed his eyes unable to directly look at them, Leonardo would think this way.
(………I wish I too had been born with the same kind of personality as them.)
By the time Leonardo was old enough to understand the things around him, he had already become capable of seeing the darkness within others.
People who lied, people who were planning to commit crimes, people who were planning to betray them. He could instinctively see through them all, just from the way they behaved.
And that wasn’t even through a Skill, it was simply a natural born talent Leonardo had to survive in the underworld.
He was so good that he had already heard a few whispers from others that perhaps Leonardo would make for the better heir to the household, even if he hated it. But, from Leonardo’s point of view, those kinds of opinions should have been met with scorn.
(I’m supposed to be more suited than my brother?………..these people understand nothing. As if that was possible.)
While thinking that way, he climbed down the hill with his brother.
The farmers passing by them, smiled and waved their hands at them. The woman was carrying a baby in her arms, and the man was holding a box filled to the brim with freshly harvested crops with him.
That couple had almost starved to death in the territory of a different family and had desperately run to their territory. But now they were leading very happy lives, and had even given birth to a new one.
(Everyone that lives in the territory of the Aldini family is always smiling and laughing. Even the criminals, were making the weak common folk happy.)
And this was all thanks to his father’s ability.
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And his brother had fully inherited his father’s mentality and will, hence why he too was [blindingly bright] to Leonardo.
(………I don’t care if I can never live like my father or brother.)
While thinking this way, he vividly recalled watching his brother’s back.
(I’ll use all of my power, to help these people instead. And that’s all I want.)
He didn’t want to become the next heir himself.
Leonardo simply wanted to witness the bright future he so admired that only these people could create.
(——………Dad, brother, I’ll always protect you…….)
He truly, seriously thought that way….
Until that fateful day where he was welcomed by their laughing father, and after having his hair ruffled again, they got on the carriage and headed to a certain meeting.
Everything was in flames.
While trying to suppress the pain, Leonardo stretched his hand out. With blood pouring out of his stomach, hoping to somehow reject the scene in front of him, he touched his father who lay unmoving on the floor.
The meeting hall had been completely destroyed by the gunfire and the flames.
His father who had been shot while trying to protect Leonardo, and Leonardo himself who had still got shot by the bullet that had pierced through his father’s body. The head of the Selena family that had been shot dead by his older brother’s counterattack, and the brother himself that was standing there breathing heavily.
Everyone, everything, seemed like it was going to disappear in the raging flames.
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