Arc 1, New Moon
This was the third night. Ernst had prepared the largest chair in the manor, but it was still too small for that man.
There was a clear difference between the physique of a Kleber and the physique of a Dunbertian. Even among the Kleber, Ernst, who suffered from a disease, had the unchanging body of a boy. No matter how you looked at it, in this man’s eyes, Ernst could only be a small child.
Or could it be that this man had a preference for children?
“You, do you like young children?”
Ernst asked the question that had risen in his mind.
“I don’t. We men of the Grude Continent have no interest in having family or children.”
“No, not like that. I meant, would you take a child as your romantic partner.”
Once the man understood Ernst’s words, his thick eyebrows knit together, and then, he frantically shook his head.
“No! No! I would never do such a thing! Until now, the majority of my partners had been Grude women. Ah… of course, they had all been mature women. I would absolutely never, with a child…!”
In other words, it seemed he didn’t love Ernst for his small body.
Ernst’s contemplation deepened.
No matter how he thought about it, it seemed impossible for someone else to come to like him when he was shut inside the royal palace.
“In the first place, why were you in the bathing chamber of the royal palace?”
For Ernst, who had never been interested in others, this was the only question he could think of.
“In the beginning, I wanted to become a gatekeeper.”
Aah, that would make sense. Just by standing there, this giant man would make other people hesitate to approach.
“However, when I went to the interview, there were already many people waiting there.”
“Was being a gatekeeper really such a desirable job?”
“Well… All you had to do was stand around and look intimidating, and that was enough.”
The man gave a wry smile.
“I waited for my turn in that room packed full of people. At that time, I heard someone talking. They said that the palace was also searching for a manservant for the crown prince’s bathing chamber.”
Just when did this story happen? Ernst couldn’t remember at all when his manservant had changed.
“…They said that to closely serve the crown prince was bleak, so there weren’t any candidates. With all due respect, I had also thought this way.”
So Ernst really had been such a bleak, depressing existence.
“I had gotten tired of waiting, so was looking at the palace garden from the window. It was a perfectly-maintained and vast garden. Unexpectedly, while I was looking out, I saw many people off in the distance. At that time, someone next to me said, ‘It’s the Crown Prince.’”
The man slowly folded his hands and gazed into the fireplace.
“The people of Rintz Kingdom around me couldn’t make them out, but as a Dunbertian, my eyes could clearly view those figures. What was strange was that… I didn’t see any of the surrounding retainers. Lord Ernst was the only person who stood out to my eyes.”
Ernst looked at the man’s face.
“In that moment, everything changed. My pride as a Dunbertian, my way of life up until now, everything in the world faded away… Only one thing remained. That was, my desire to be by that figure’s side.”
Those reddish-brown eyes captured Ernst. They held a powerful light that he couldn’t turn away from.
“My heart has not changed at all since that day. Even now, I am still bound by you.”
I felt the ML’s pain, so I drew it.