Chapter 17 – A weakened Riley.
The situation at the Leslie household.
Count Leslie held his head.
Hailing from a military household, the nobles that he had a relationship with were also from a similar background.
The prevailing tendency among such nobles was to evaluate one’s Swordsmanship, Ability and other martial arts, well over all other traits.
It mattered little how smart or well-read one was.
Even in such company, Riley had distinguished himself to be among the best.
During parties, these noble families would congregate together and hold sparring matches to sharpen one’s skills through friendly competition.
At first glance, these matches were simply friendly bouts, but in reality, they were a way to assert a family’s superiority.
In this environment, Riley was capable enough to secure a position among the top three without breaking a sweat.
But now, the situation had completely overturned.
“Are you sure you don’t want to use your Ability”, asked Riley’s opponent.
He was viscount Aargeveny’s thirteen-year-old son.
He was not an especially strong opponent.
His combat proficiency could be evaluated as middle of the pack at best.
If it were the usual Riley, the match would have ended in the first few exchanges.
To test each individual’s proficiency with their preferred martial art, this match’s rules prohibited the use of any Ability that was granted an attribute.
However, regular Abilities like Body and Sense Strengthening were permitted.
Before, Nadia would cast and manage the Ability on her own, and lead Riley to victory.
But now, neither he nor Katrina could properly use even such basic Abilities.
“Shit! Katrina!!”, hissed Riley at his chosen Servant.
“Stop shouting at me!”, she shot back.
Count Leslie was seated nearby looking at their ridiculous exchange.
Other nobles were also seated around looking over the match, and several of them were doing a poor job of concealing their sniggers.
Count Leslie forgot himself and began to impatiently bite his thumbnail. What the hell is he playing at This is no time to be **ing around., he seethed internally.
Unable to hold out for any longer, Riley finally took a hard blow that put him on his back.
“Urgh…”, he groaned in pain.
His opponent sauntered back to his family, smirking all the while.
A bright red Riley returned to his place beside the Count, anger and embarrassment vying for supremacy inside him.
“Katrina, why didn’t you properly use the Ability! I got humiliated out there because of you!”, raged Riley forgetting to keep his voice down this time.
“How dare you!”, returned Katrina in kind.
“That’s enough! Both of you!”, hissed the count silencing them.
The nobles surrounding them were not even making an attempt to hide their laughter now, and viscount Aargeveny was arrogantly smirking at them from the opposite side.
His anger threatened erupt too, but Count Leslie bore the shame with white knuckles.
“What the hell was that! Why didn’t you just fight as usual Did you think it was just a game!” Having returned to their estate, the count let loose on both of them.
“That’s not the case father! Katrina didn’t cast the Ability properly! She has never used the water attribute either!”, defended Riley indignantly.
“Wha! You’re the one who is in control of the water attribute! Why are you blaming me for it!”, shouted Katrina equally indignant.
Watching them quarrel again made count Leslie’s head hurt.
“Katrina!! Riley used the water attribute well enough when he was with Nadia.
Don’t you think you share some blame too!”, asked the count raising his voice to be heard over their squabbling.
“That’s not true! I mean….”, whined Katrina.
“Enough! I don’t want to hear your excuses!”, overruled the livid count.
In the silence that followed, count Leslie sighed heavily and turned to Riley.
You’ve been skipping practice recently.
Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”, he admonished.
That….”, faltered Riley.
I don’t want your excuses either.
You will do exactly as I say from now on.
Understood” Riley hung his head and nodded in response.
After that, they were invited to more such parties, but Riley continued to lose every bout.
Unable to bear the embarrassment, Riley’s appearances began to dwindle until he stopped socialising completely.
“Why won’t you train properly! You should be able to manage somehow if you just trained like you did with Nadia.”, asked Count Leslie exasperated by his son’s lacklustre efforts.
Riley gripped his head like he meant to squeeze out an explanation.
“It’s not that I won’t, I can’t do it!! If it’s for a little while, I can use my Ability, but I run out of steam soon after.
My body would feel fatigued, and I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything else!! It’s almost like….”
“Isn’t that because you simply lack the will! You just don’t want it badly enough!”, interrupted the count angrily.
Riley glared at his father. Aren’t I the one here because I wanted it badly enough!, he fumed internally.
“Listen to me!! Those are the symptoms of Mana Deficiency!! Even though I’ve never had an issue with my mana capacity until now, I run out of mana way too quickly nowadays.”
“Mana deficiency! What bull** excuses are you spewing now! You were fine all these years, and suddenly you don’t have mana”, shouted the count, his temper rising.
Riley made a show of clicking his tongue and stormed out of the room.
“Now look here! What’s with that attitude towards your father!”, called count Leslie, but his son kept walking. Shit! Something has been off for a while now. While he was thinking that, the butler appeared at his door.
“Do you have a moment my lord”, he asked.
The count took a deep breath to compose himself, and then nodded to the butler.
He broke the seal on the letter the butler brought.
His face stiffened as he read it.
It wasn’t an official declaration, but it was clearly a letter of refusal to participate in further social interactions with his household.
It’s all because Riley acted too disgracefully.
All because he continued to lose and bore those losses poorly.
Not only did he fail to show any mastery over the water attribute, the symbol of our family, he couldn’t even use the basic Abilities well.
What will happen to our house’s honour at this rate We will become outcasts! Unable to come up with any solution,
Count Leslie held his head.