Arc 1, New Moon
After arriving safely at the hut, Ernst rested there for one day. The hunters living at the hut welcomed him with some warm soup. Though they noticed the horse was missing, they didn’t mention it.
The day passed slowly.
Ernst laid down so that he could recover the energy it would take to safely cross the valley. Though his body felt very tired, his mind didn’t feel any better, either.
Even so, he wasn’t able to fall sleep.
What they did was the right thing to do. If they hadn’t sacrificed the horse, someone might have died. No, maybe all of them might have died. One horse was enough to satisfy a pack of wolves. If that hadn’t been the case, Ernst wouldn’t have been able to escape on foot.
He couldn’t stop thinking about those days he spent swaying on the back of the horse. He had been told that as king, he shouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice one or two people for the greater good. He should always unhesitatingly choose the good of the country over the lives of a thousand citizens.
Ernst, also, had believed that this was the way of an admirable politician.
But now, faced with the sacrifice of just one horse, he knew he would never be able to do such a thing.
He had really… become so weak.
No, that wasn’t right. In that cage called the royal palace, he had just lived without knowing anything. Something like ‘living’, and something like ‘dying’, he didn’t understand either of them. For that reason, as life held no meaning to him, it was simple to throw away the lives of his people whilst debating what should be done.
The valley was more difficult to cross than the forest.
It didn’t have any wolves. It didn’t have any other dangerous animals to replace the wolves, either. It was the terrain itself that was dangerous.
In the summer, it was said that this place was rocky. But the scenery laid out before Ernst’s eyes was one vast, white surface. Below the white snow covering the area were countless unstable rocks.
The hunters carefully searched for footholds to move forward. Now that they had exited the forest, there weren’t any trees to block the wind from blowing directly on them. Ernst’s small body was about to be blown away, so one of the hunters tied Ernst to himself with a rope.
As they went forward, the amount of ground they could walk on lessened. The path narrowed, making the cliff seem like it was getting closer.
Three days after they started walking, they approached the most treacherous part of the valley. Will we be able to get through this place safely? Ernst wondered, his body shrinking in fear.
The hunters took one day of rest before heading to that area. They used cloth, branches, and snow to ward off the wind. Using the lumber they’d brought from the hut, they stoked a fire. They melted some snow, and for the first time in three days, they were able to have a hot drink. They added tea leaves and ate some of their treasured butter in order prepare for tomorrow and build up strength in their bodies.
The next morning had fine weather. The wind also wasn’t very strong. Ernst felt relieved; he thought that it would be easy to cross from here on, but in contrast to his thoughts, the hunters had gloomy expressions. When the weather was good, the temperature would rise, and it would be easier for the snow to melt.
But of course, it would still be easier to walk than if the wind were blowing. Winter still hadn’t passed over the entryway to Meissen. They had no choice but to hurry and get out of here while they still could.
The youngest hunter proceeded first. He carefully searched for footholds. He grasped at the rocks with both of his hands. Ernst watched him with intense concentration.
He couldn’t afford not to do so. If Ernst missed his footing, he would fall into the cliff on the other side. You couldn’t see the bottom even if you peered down. With the depths of hell at his back, Ernst had to be able to walk on his own because no one would be able to save him if he fell.
Ernst was the second to go. The eldest hunter had fastened a rope around Ernst’s stomach, then tossed the rope toward the crossing hunter. After confirming that the other person had tightly grasped the rope, the hunter urged Ernst forward. With a nervous expression on his face, Ernst nodded and began to walk.
He believed in the three hunters.
He followed the footsteps of the hunter who had crossed before him. His fingers gripped the cliffside. He felt like his bulky gloves didn’t have much use when it came to this.
As best as he could, Ernst put all of his strength into sticking his fingers to the rock. Slowly, carefully, he inched his feet forward. Because he wore the winter clothing, he couldn’t see his feet.
When Ernst leaned slightly back to get a better look, the voice of the senior hunter rang out. Move forward by searching out the next spot with the tip of your foot, he said.
Ernst hastily pulled back his neck. He was right; even though Ernst had only leaned back a little, the gust of wind coming from below had destabilized his body.
He couldn’t just rely on his eyes. He concentrated all of his senses on his feet, and as if fiercely trying to get his shaking fingertips to settle, he applied more strength to them. He let the vast scenery behind his back fade from his consciousness.
His eyebrows were frozen because of the cold. Ernst slowly advanced, and as he glanced up, his gaze collided with the serious expression of the hunter carrying the rope.
Regardless of whether they had been hired by Ernst, regardless of his status as the former Crown Prince, they all felt that they wanted to safely get out of here together. Ernst boiled with energy that bubbled up from the depths of his body.
Ernst took twice as long to cross as the hunter leading the way. On Ernst’s last step, the hunter who had watched over him gripped him with his powerful hand.
As Ernst fell over, the hunter firmly hugged his small body. He patted his back as if praising him, Well done. Ernst felt more proud than when he had solved a difficult formula in the royal palace.
The two remaining hunters also safely passed through.
Once again, they walked in a group of four. Just because they had crossed the hardest spot didn’t mean that the rest of the path in front of them would be easy. They had to climb both crumbling rocks and frozen stone surfaces. It was hollow beneath the snow, putting them in danger of falling in.
But because the three hunters accompanied him, Ernst wasn’t afraid. Day by day, step by step, Ernst felt like he was growing stronger.
He felt like he was learning, for the first time, how to trust in other people.
It had been inevitable that of all the people in the royal palace, no one had felt sadness or regret over his leaving.
Ernst didn’t know the name of a single person living in the royal palace. He didn’t even know the name of the head butler who had accompanied him since birth.
Even if he didn’t know, it didn’t matter. Though he didn’t know their names, the only things they spoke were instructions. There wasn’t any trace of affection in them.
So that’s how it was, Ernst realized.
Ernst didn’t even know the names of the people who’d lived in the royal palace.
When he thought about it, that giant man had been the only person whose name he had wanted to ask.
Hello! Thank you for reading the latest update to the MotS translation!!
The story continues a bit slowly for the next few chapters until Ernst settles into Meissen, so I’m going to wait and release them as a batch update.
Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, my friend Cael is also translating a new BL story on this website! It’s called Your Kingdom. Please check it out~! It’s about an innocent and sickly prince who is attended to by a mysterious angelic(?) man.
Finally, for one last shameless promo, I’ve been writing an original story of my own too! It’s called Klue & Berry, and it’s about a shameless trader who accidentally falls in love with the monster of a forest. It’s still WIP, but please try it out if you have free time~
I’ll try to keep working steadily. Thank you for enjoying the stories that these authors have lovingly crafted!!