Arc 1, New Moon
Three months had passed since Ernst began life in the villa.
Most nobles lived their lives ruling over large territories. Ernst, who had just been demoted to the rank of noble, should have had land to rule as well.
People who belonged to the races originating from Schell continent were generally unwilling to bequeath land to their children, perhaps due to these races’ long lifespans. Besides, it was difficult for them to conceive children, so it was possible for a noble to reach the end of their life without having a child. Rintz Kingdom was like this; land was bequeathed by the King, and naturally, people weren’t overly attached to their place of residence. If a noble has died, or if they have been accused of a crime and parted with their territory, and the next lord of the land hasn’t yet been decided, then the lord of the neighboring territory would temporarily reign. At the moment, there should be several territories without lords.
Would Ernst receive a territory befitting his former rank? Or would he receive a territory which dissolved the prestige of his former status? It could go either way. The two options were so contentious that even up until now, this matter hadn’t been decided.
Ernst would be fine with either result. Whether it was an incredible one, or a disappointing one.
Now that Ernst was no longer a crown prince, the servants learned to look at his face and speak to him. After a long while, their hearts eventually understood that it was no longer improper to do so. Ernst was fine with ruling whatever territory he received. He only just felt regretful if he were to have to part with the servants of this villa, with whom he had only recently began to reach some semblance of familiarity. That was why he never asked if a decision had arrived. He felt that if they were to treat him like the servants of the royal palace did, as if he was some awe-inspiring and untouchable figure, then it would wound him greatly inside. It disgusted Ernst how, ever since he had ceased to be the crown prince, he gradually became a more cowardly person.
The villa was on the other side of the country from the royal palace. There weren’t any visitors, and there weren’t any travelers passing by, either. There weren’t any tall walls or low fences, and beyond the backyard, a forest spread out. Even after a long time, Ernst wasn’t able to get any closer to the forest.
When he had first started living in the villa, Ernst had been greatly interested by the forest. One could see its expansive size and depth just by looking in the general vicinity of its entrance. Every now and then, he could hear an indistinct and light voice coming from it. He had asked a passing-by butler, “What is that?” The butler had stared at the forest, then turned his face away and replied respectfully, “That is a wolf, sire.”
A wolf. That was something he had seen among the illustrations in his books.
There was a book in the royal palace which detailed all sorts of animals and plants. Whenever he needed a break from studying, Ernst always looked through this book. Not only the Schell continent’s flora and fauna, it also listed the Grude continent’s, the Sout continent’s, Hel continent’s, and Sistica continent’s. All of the animals and plants of the world were listed in that book. It was incredibly interesting. Within the forest before his very eyes lived the wolf which he had seen in the book. Ernst wanted to find it no matter what, and see a wolf with his own eyes.
But when Ernst expressed his interest in doing so, the butler intervened, “Sir, with all due respect…” and talked about his own experience. With a pale face and a shaking voice, he described the appearance of the wolf, and upon hearing of what the wolf did, Ernst blanched and his face froze.
Even the maid who had just been passing by began to tremble and cry, her grief palpable as she and Ernst listened to the story of how the life of the butler’s acquaintance had been brutally snuffed out by the wolf. The story was so gruesome that it haunted Ernst’s dreams for the next few days, giving him nightmares.
However, it took him about a month to realize that the story they’d fed him had been completely made up.