Hello! Welcome to the story Setsugen no Tsukikage (雪原の月影) by Tsukiya (月夜). This is the web novel version of the story, which has also been published as a light novel. I saw hasr11’s post on this story and wanted to try reading it for myself. This is a liberal translation that focuses on ease of understanding; the story is originally written in a mix of first and third person, but you will find that I have edited the English translation to read mostly in third person. Thank you!
Arc 1, New Moon
The servant assigned to the bathing chambers was a large man.
In the swaying lamplight, the man being washed saw that compared to the point of the manservant’s elbow, the width of his own thigh wasn’t even worth mentioning.
With large and thick hands covered in a plentiful amount of soap bubbles, the manservant personally washed the body of the man before him.
This man, Ernst, let out a sigh so softly that the manservant didn’t even notice.
If he wasn’t mistaken, this manservant was probably someone from Dunbert. Though he’d never seen anyone of that kind, Ernst had heard about their appearance. Their height surpassed two meters, and their sturdy-as-steel bodies were covered in warm copper-colored skin. They had brown, curly hair, along with reddish-brown eyes. The way that this man carried his body, as if there wasn’t a single opportunity to slip past him, might also be another piece of evidence proving he was Dunbertian.
The people of Dunbert had no country. They were a race of people with exceptional fighting power, and their culture was completely individualistic. They weren’t the kind of people who would gather together to govern a country. When the children of this people reached ten years of age, they left home to work in what one might call the Dunbertian family business: they became mercenaries. They were the kind of people who were unwilling to tie themselves to things like property and homes, or even families.
This knowledge, which Ernst had read about in books, floated through his head.
This guy should have chosen a life full of tension, so why exactly was he in this sort of place? Ernst looked down upon the giant man who wore only a thin bathrobe.
The manservant crouched and carefully washed Ernst’s toes. His boorish fingers moved with surprising skill. The skin that touched Ernst was tough; as Ernst had thought, this man was also one who handled swords, wielded spears, and pulled on sturdy bows as he fought. The damp bathrobe did nothing to hide the sight of the man’s large muscles swelling beneath the cloth. The man’s large body seemed to be made entirely of muscle.
When Ernst’s knee was touched, Ernst stood. Even when the manservant was on one knee with his head lowered, the height of his head reached Ernst’s stomach. It made Ernst feel like a child – he was sick of it. This manservant probably hadn’t lived even half as long as Ernst had.
Ernst Gille Farson Rintz Kleber. He, who was named with both the names of his country and race, was the Crown Prince of the country of Rintz. Or rather, was once the Crown Prince. He had prepared himself for this day for more than a decade. And today, it had finally happened.
This morning, after breakfast had ended, the head butler of the Crown Prince had arrived. Seeing the unusual tension in his face, Ernst had instantly known what he was going to say.
I will be demoted from the rank of Crown Prince, thus I should prepare myself and wait. No matter how many times Ernst repeated that he was prepared, he understood – the head butler still informed him of the same thing.
When that time came, he was likely to become distraught and behave disgracefully. Ernst was afraid of that. Preparing yourself for something to happen, and having it actually happen in reality, were two different things. No matter how much he’d mentally steeled himself, no matter how many preparations he’d made, wouldn’t it still affect his heart? Yet, disappointing even Ernst himself, it turned out that he had actually accepted it so easily. In fact, he might even have let out a sigh of relief.
The Kingdom of Rintz abided by strict rules.
What that meant was, the Crown Prince was the firstborn child. It didn’t matter from whose stomach they had been birthed from, and it didn’t matter whether the child was a boy or a girl. The only significance was whether the child was the firstborn. From there, if by any chance there was a situation involving the current Crown Prince, it was decided that the youngest child of the King would be chosen as the next Crown Prince. That was because only the King and Crown Prince were considered royalty, and even if one was the child of the King, there were still certain differences – in treatment, and in upbringing. The moment the crown prince was born, he or she was taught to become the next generation’s king. Even if the current Crown Prince were to pass away, it was considered that unless the second child were an infant, they would not be able to inherit the throne.
In Rintz, it was unthinkable that the Crown Prince would lose his position while still being alive.
Let’s say, for example, he suffered from a problem in body or spirit. He would be surrounded by people of magnificent talent, and be allowed to spend time in ease. And even if there were a problem with the crown prince himself, if he became king and still didn’t quite understand what was expected of him, he would politely be taught his duties.
Even in a country such as this, Ernst still lost his place.
There was one important duty the King had to fulfill. For Ernst, fulfilling this duty was deemed impossible.
That duty, was to sire the King of the next generation.
Among the people of Kleber existed a unique disease called Kleber’s Disease, which only affected the Kleber. It developed around the age of puberty. It was not a life-threatening disease, but because it was incurable, one spent their entire life suffering from it.
Ernst was afflicted by Kleber’s disease.
The Kleber counted their age based on the passing of the first day of the new year. Of the 200-year Kleber lifespan, Ernst had already lived 60 of those years. However, his outer appearance remained that of just a boy’s. Even though he was a fully healthy Kleber, and his age had already passed to the stage of being an excellent young man, he still appeared only to be a child.
As one could guess, the condition of the illness known as Kleber’s disease was that after its onset, the body would no longer grow. Even after becoming a 200-year old elder, and even after dying, the appearance of someone afflicted by this disease would remain that of a young boy or a young girl.
Up until he was thirty, Ernst had grown steadily. Compared to others of his age, he might have appeared somewhat delicate. However, after his fortieth year passed, he still looked like a young boy; when his fiftieth birthday came, the royal palace called for doctors from all over the country. Yet in the end, every doctor who saw him diagnosed the same thing. Without a doubt, this was Kleber’s disease.
Afterwards, the doctors were summoned for another purpose. Was it possible for Ernst to have any descendants, was what they were asked; yet every doctor who saw him made the same diagnosis. The Crown Prince was unable to sire a child.
After a decade of repeated examination and diagnoses, the King finally made his decision. His firstborn child, Ernst, was to be demoted from the rank of Crown Prince.
Ernst’s gaze fell upon the crouching manservant who first washed Ernst’s thighs, then thoroughly cleansed between his legs. With those large hands, he washed Ernst’s tiny manhood. An ironic laugh drifted from Ernst’s mouth. If he were to say that this thing existed only for mere decoration, what sort of face would this giant man make?
No, he shouldn’t even think of it – Ernst shook off his thoughts. Ernst and this manservant held such vastly different social statuses that words couldn’t be shared between them. Even if they spoke the same language, the manservant of the bathing room was not to “understand” the words spoken by a royal personage.
The lifespan of a Dunbertian was a hundred years. This manservant seemed to be around thirty or so? Ernst was first made aware of him when he found the manservant there in the Crown Prince’s bathing chamber. Before him, the previous servant was a man of Kleber. At least, that was how it had been for the past years, as far as Ernst could remember.
For what reason was this giant man placed here in this bathing chamber? Wasn’t he a mercenary? When Ernst looked into his bathing robe, he saw countless scars crossing the man’s body. Maybe he had suffered from a serious injury which made him unable to fight. Even so, such a huge and brawny man like him really wasn’t fitting for the bathing chamber. For this manservant to have chosen to serve the Crown Prince who looked like a child – wasn’t his real purpose to mock him?
Ernst instantly fell into depression. All his life as the Crown Prince, he’d always had people waiting upon him. He never thought anything about being nude in front of other people. Even after his illness, this hadn’t changed.
But now, the feeling of it was unbearable. He didn’t want to be seen by this Dunbertian. He, who had the kind of body Ernst would never be able to have. Even if Ernst had been a perfectly healthy man, such a robust body was still impossible to obtain as a Kleber.
After washing everything, the manservant poured warm water over Ernst’s delicate shoulders, rinsing away the bubbles. Ernst gazed down at the curly hair of the manservant’s lowered head. Swelling back muscles. A thick neck. He wondered how valiant this giant man’s cock would be. It wouldn’t be anything like his own, so thin and small. It would be something that matched his huge body, thick in size. The urge to strip the man’s thin bathrobe and peel off his white undergarments rose up within Ernst. Right now, this manservant still thought that Ernst was the crown prince. All that would happen was that he would push away Ernst’s thin body, and he would only need one of his fingers to do it.
With such harsh thoughts in his mind, Ernst smiled bitterly and headed for the bathtub. The manservant quietly followed him from behind. If by chance Ernst were to slip, the manservant was to protect him.
Ernst soaked himself in the bathtub full of hot water. Though this bathtub was enormous, it was normal for it to be used only by the crown prince. But everything that Ernst had thought was normal and natural was soon to no longer be the case.
In only three more days, he would have to leave the Royal Palace.
In the Kingdom of Rintz, only the King and the Crown Prince were considered royalty. For the other relations of the King, whether they were the King’s children or his consorts, they were called nobles. Among the nobles, having a blood relation to the King made no difference.
Only the King and Crown Prince could live in the royal palace. The consort lived in a villa an hour away by carriage, and only if the King called upon her did she travel to the palace to serve the King for a night or two.
This morning, the head butler had given Ernst the news. He had lost his rank as Crown Prince, so starting tomorrow he would have three days before he must leave the palace and travel to live in one of the villas.
Whether ‘three days’ was too long or too short, Ernst didn’t know. In the first place, Ernst didn’t know of any crown prince who had been discarded in this way. Kleber’s disease wasn’t particularly rare among the Kleber people. It occurred in 1 out of every 100 people. However, it had never before occurred in one of the royal family. In the past, there had been a consort who looked as if she had been afflicted with Kleber’s disease, but there were no records of any children resulting from her. The disease was less prominent among the nobles, and so people snidely whispered that this was a disease of the common folk.
It was for that reason, Ernst thought. That was why it took such a long time to diagnose him with Kleber’s disease. No one wanted to think that it would afflict a member of the royal family.
Considering it all, he couldn’t help but think that the time of three days was truly too short. As soon as possible, Ernst would be expelled from the royal palace, and the fact that he had once been the Crown Prince would be buried in darkness.
Over these three days, he was told to tell the maids of anything he needed. But what Ernst was accustomed to was that which belonged to the Crown Prince; they didn’t belong to ‘Ernst’. Asking the maids who had been with him for the sixty years since his birth to accompany him now would be too much, and Ernst would be refused. Whether it was things or people, none of it was Ernst’s.
Suddenly, he thought of the man behind him. Wasn’t this giant man a new servant who had come here to wash the crown prince? Just like he did with Ernst, was he going to wash the next crown prince with those large hands and brutish fingers? The next crown prince was also a boy. So the question was, whether he was going to considerately wash the tiny manhood of a ten-year-old or a seven-year-old child.