Arc 2, Crescent Moon
Come the next day, the weather continued to be pleasant. Ernst thought that they had been blessed with good weather, but it seemed that his assumptions had been incorrect.
“It’s probably because of Mount Ekze. There are very few snowstorms around these parts.”
So said the villager who served to guide them through the mountain.
“It’s ‘cause of that, this place is suited for raising sheep.”
So that’s how it is, Ernst nodded admiringly.
In the three villages Ernst had visited, not a single person knew how to read. Yet no matter which village they were from, they all possessed the wisdom of life, even without any formal education.
No matter many difficult books Ernst studiously read, none of them would grant Ernst the ability to survive a single winter in this village on his own.
“Has Iben Village tended to sheep in the past?”
“Not at all. Ah, here we go – once you look out from over here, you’ll understand.”
The villager stopped walking and climbed up a bit of rock which jutted out. Ernst also climbed up the same way.
He felt Ganche quickly come to stand behind him. Ernst guessed that if the rock he stood on crumbled beneath his feet, Ganche was prepared to save him.
Trusting in Ganche’s presence, Ernst stood atop the rock without any worry.
“That place over there where all of the trees are growing is around where Iben Village is. It’s small and cramped without much open space, right?”
It was certainly more compact than the other two villages Ernst had visited. It might even be smaller than the village of Kata, which was close to the estate.
“It’s said that waaay back when, it used to be more spacious, but… at some point, those trees took over and expanded so much that they were as vast as Caralime’s pastures. Though, it’s not as if Caralime has enough sheep nowadays for that much pasture, anyway.”
Saying that, the villager lightly descended from the rock.
Ernst went to follow him down, but when he saw how high up he was, his feet paused in their steps. He didn’t feel it while he was climbing, but he was at a surprisingly tall height.
As Ernst hesitated, a large hand extended out to him. Ganche’s copper eyes smiled gently at him. Ernst took Ganche’s hand, and Ganche easily lifted him from the rock and set him down.
“In that case, how did you keep yourselves fed in the past?”
Ernst continued to question the villager guide. The further they advanced on the mountain, the steeper it became.
“I heard that we kept sheep so that we could use them to pay the Lord’s taxes. The village sustained itself by selling crops and firewood, as well as selling the meat of animals we hunted. But when Caralime Village grew successful, it affected Iben greatly… we wanted to raise more sheep. We sold our farming tools so that we could buy lambs from Rintz fief and Lux Kingdom.”
“Your farming tools?”
“That’s right. If we could sustain ourselves with sheep, we wouldn’t need to cultivate our fields… it was a mistake. The few farming tools we have left aren’t enough to protect our village’s farmlands.”
The villager was accustomed to traveling on the mountain, so he walked quickly. Ernst had to give his all just to be able to keep up.
“Right now, we gather crops from the fields, pick nuts from Mount Ekze, hunt deer, and make firewood, but it’s impossible to keep the entire village fed with just this. That’s why, we have no choice but to send people out of the village to find work… next year, I’ll also be leaving the village to work.”
Ernst was told that half of Iben Village alternated between staying and going out to find work. Even so, it was difficult, and there were some people like the village head who stayed out for decades in order to establish themselves and earn some income.
The villager guiding them was a young man who looked to be the same age as Arker. At this age, he had already experienced leaving the village to work many times.
Ernst had never experienced what it meant to have to leave one’s lands in order to find work and bring back money.
But even Ernst could imagine that such an experience wasn’t an enjoyable one at all.
“If we were able to harvest just a little more from this mountain, things would be so much easier…”
The villager stopped in his tracks and looked up at the mountain’s trees. Ernst also looked up with him. This forest was different from the one around Arruca; the trees were deciduous here. But just like the ones seen around Caralime, there were very few trees that had lost their leaves.
“Do these, not… bear any, nuts?”
Ernst was out of breath.
“They do have nuts, but it takes a lot of time and work to eat them. You have to soak them in water for a long while, then grind them… but it’s still good to be able to eat them. You won’t find any edible nuts when you go up further than this.”
From the looks of it, there weren’t any fruits or things like raspberries to gather on Mount Ekze.
The villager continued on steadily. It seemed like he was going to show them how to climb up as far as they could go.
Regardless of whether the village head had ordered him to do this or not, Ernst was happy that the young man was generous enough to lead them this far; it was only his feet that voiced their complaints at being pushed to their limits.
Ganche softly called out to him from behind, then lifted up Ernst’s body. Though normally Ernst would refuse to be carried, this time, he was grateful for it.
“Ah, was I going too fast?”
Flustered, the villager slowed his steps. That wasn’t the problem at all, Ernst wanted to say, even as he smiled wryly and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“I wanted to bring you to climb up over here as well, but the village head said that we should leave this area for later…”
As he said this, the villager walked down a slope and went off the path, stepping onto a grassy area. There isn’t any snow in this direction? Ernst wondered curiously, just as the villager stopped walking and pointed ahead.
“Do you see the steam over there? That’s from the hot spring.”
Ernst had read in books that this was water which had been heated by nature, but Ernst himself had never entered a hot spring, or even seen one. So Meissen had hot springs too, huh.
Unable to contain his restless excitement, Ernst leaned forward while still held in Ganche’s arms.
“There are a couple of hot springs in the village, but this place is pretty far away and, more importantly, you have to climb up to get to it. Because of that, this is a hot spring that’s never been used by the village. The village head told me to guide you here so that you may feel welcome to enjoy it, she said.”
Ernst had arrived at the hot spring while the villager was explaining. Ernst set his feet on the ground and gingerly brought his fingertip to touch the water. It wasn’t too hot; the water was just the right temperature.
“I’ll go wait over there, so everyone, please go ahead and enjoy.”
Saying that, the villager returned down the path he had taken to bring them here.
Three people stood on the mountain, enveloped in slight, hazy clouds of steam.
Ernst was so wrapped up in his ecstasy that he didn’t even notice the intense stare Ganche directed at Targes. After Ernst had arrived in Meissen, he had keenly felt how the use of hot water was a true luxury.
The waters of the hot spring surged copiously, filling up this bathtub which seemed to have been made of the simple rocks of the surroundings. With this much hot water, he would be able to use as much as he pleased – just the thought of that made Ernst’s heart jump.
As Ernst cheerfully brought his hands to his clothes, Ganche softly placed a hand on his shoulder.
What is it? Ernst looked up at him only to find himself held against Ganche’s broad chest.
He heard Targes’ voice from far behind him.
“The two of you, please do partake in the hot water. I’ll just go ahead and join that villager in returning to the village first, so… Ganche, have lots of fun with Lord Ernst.”
Since Ernst was pressed against Ganche’s chest, he couldn’t perceive Ganche’s expression, but for some reason, he felt like Targes’ voice held laughter in it.
“Was something the matter with Targes?”
Ganche had stripped naked first, and as he undressed Ernst’s clothes, Ernst asked this question.
“He passed up on such a rare opportunity to enter a hot spring, after all. Does he, perhaps, dislike hot water?”
Ernst loved to submerge himself in hot water. He always felt like water melted away all of the tension in his body. Was there really anyone who could dislike this?
“Who knows… maybe he has something to to take care of.”
After having his coat stripped off, Ernst shivered from the cold chill licking at his skin.
“In this village?”
“Maybe he went to go supervise the 5th platoon’s training.”
“Aah, that’s right. The 5th platoon is still in the village. Targes is quite the diligent captain.”
Once Ganche mentioned them, Ernst remembered that the 5th platoon and Arker existed.
The villager had generously showed them the parts of the village they used, as well as the whole of Mount Ekze. Because of that, despite how Ernst had planned to depart the village after breakfast, the sky had now darkened from the approaching dusk.
Ernst had been so enraptured by what the villager had explained to him that he had forgotten all about the people left behind in the village.
While Ernst was talking, Ganche had stripped every piece of his clothing until he was bare. Ernst had learned to take off his own clothing once he had left the royal palace, but after he met up with Ganche again, he ended up reverting to old habits. Every morning and every night, Ganche dressed and undressed Ernst.
Ganche embraced Ernst’s small body after it began to tremble, having nothing to shield it from the cold. Even though Ganche had stripped bare before Ernst had, his large body didn’t seem like it was affected by the cold at all. The skin touching Ernst felt hot.
“You don’t, feel cold?”
Ernst’s teeth chattered, making it difficult to speak well.
“Dunbertians are strong in several ways.”
Ganche laughed, lifting Ernst into his arms before slowly sliding into the hot water. Though the heat was painful at first, once Ernst got used to it, he let out a long sigh.
“What do you mean by several ways?”
“We are able to adjust our sense of pain – or rather, our sense of touch at our own discretion.”
“Sense of touch…?”
“Yes. I can make it so that I can feel neither heat nor cold, and I can also block all forms of pain from my senses.”
Ernst looked up at Ganche’s masculine face, trailing both of his hands over the raised muscles of his chest.
“That… sounds like it’s convenient, I suppose.”
“In order to survive, it is vital to use each and every sense. To be unable to feel life-threatening heat or cold is to put yourself in extraordinary danger. It is better to feel pain if it means being able to protect yourself.”
“I see – that makes sense.”
“We are able to make ourselves feel, but on the battlefield, we can also block ourselves from feeling. I suppose since we can control this intentionally, it really is convenient.”
“The bodies of the Dunbertian people really do seem as if they were made for fighting, don’t they.”
Ernst glided his fingertips across the swell of the muscles on Ganche’s shoulder. Embracing Ganche’s thick arm, he kissed those fingertips which always moved so skillfully. Ganche’s tight and compact stomach was bumpy with firm muscle, and it didn’t have a single trace of soft or droopy flesh.
“If Dunbertian’s don’t actively train themselves, will they lose their muscle in the same way that Kleber do?”
“That is… a good question. In Grude Continent, there are people who don’t fight, and among them there are also the elderly, but all of them are toned with muscle, as far as I know. I suppose that we always have a certain amount of muscle, regardless of whether we train or not.”
Among the race which resides in Grude Continent, there are four types of people. The Grudes, the Dayers, the Gaia, and finally, the Dunbertians.
All of them are races of war, and both the men and women throw themselves into battle. Once a child turns 10 years old, they must become independent. They may be hired by a wealthy merchant as a mercenary, or they may be like Ganche and be hired as a mercenary for a noble in some country or another.
If not that, then they may sign up to become soldiers in the national army of a country. Otherwise, they might become involved in a criminal group, attacking the very same targets that others of their same race protect as mercenaries.
No matter which choice they make, there is not a single person of the Grude race who has ended their life without having fought at least once, and on that matter, there were very few of them who died of old age.
“The land of the Grude… just what kind of place is it, really?”
Warm water enveloped Ernst’s entire body, the comfortable feeling making him sleepy.
“Grude is… a place that is very harsh for children. The weight of your body when you walk on Schell land becomes ten times heavier when you walk on Grude’s. When I was little, I couldn’t even stand up. If I wanted to get anywhere, I had to move by crawling on the ground.”
When Ernst’s slender shoulders rose from the water, Ganche gently poured some hot water over them.
“At any right, just sitting was enough to exhaust me. It felt like there were ten people riding on my shoulders.”
“That’s – really incredible.”
Ernst wasn’t even able to imagine it.
“If Lord Ernst were to ever visit Grude Continent, then from the moment we arrive to the moment we leave, I wish to carry you to wherever you want to go. The land there is very strange, so it would be better if your feet never touch the ground.”
“Yes. No matter if it is your feet or your hands, if any part of your body touches the earth on Grude, a weight will press down on your body. However, this won’t happen if not a single part of you touches the ground. That is why newborn children are always carried around by someone.”
It kept getting harder and harder to understand. Just how exactly did this work?
Ernst had naturally only experienced the Schell Continent.Though he had read about other continents in books, once he started doubting whether the contents of the books were actually true, there were many things that he could only think of as strange or mysterious.
“Ganche, you were born on the Grude Continent, correct?”
“I was. For the Grude race, no matter where the child was conceived, they will always return to Grude Continent to give birth. This is because there is a belief that children who aren’t brought up on the land of Grude will be weak. I myself have never met someone born anywhere other than Grude, so I cannot say for sure whether that is true or not, but for my people, being considered weak is the most shameful thing of all.”
“Ganche is strong.”
“There are many people who are more powerful than I am… But, if I’m protecting Lord Ernst, then I’ll surely be stronger than anyone else…”
Ganche’s muscular arms hugged Ernst, and he pressed a kiss to Ernst’s lips.
After being pecked by his kiss, Ernst lifted his body to chase after Ganche’s composed lips, sucking on them. He held Ganche’s large face between his hands, pulling at Ganche’s brown curls with his fingers.
His heart greedily demanded for more, deeper – so Ernst moved to fulfill its desires. He curled both of his arms behind Ganche’s head, embracing him. Ganche’s hair brushed against the warm skin of Ernst’s arms, sending a shiver down Ernst’s spine.
Ganche pulled away, but Ernst chased after him, licking at his thick lips.
Hearing Ganche call his name in distress, Ernst looked up and met his gaze.
Lust was laced into the sound of Ernst’s voice. The thin fingertips on Ganche’s broad shoulders began to tremble.
“Don’t you want to…?”
Ganche didn’t answer Ernst’s question, but he didn’t separate himself from Ernst, either. His thick fingers strayed down to between Ernst’s legs. They twined around Ernst’s soft and limp member, stroking him up and down as if coaxing him.
Ernst’s eyes fell shut as Ganche teased him, his back arching.
“If we just do it once… would that be okay?”
Ernst stared at Ganche with watery eyes. He felt his lower half quavering wretchedly, wishing to take Ganche deep inside of it.
Bending over, Ernst gently took Ganche’s into his hands. It was a mass that was even hotter than the scalding water of the hot springs. When Ernst glided his fingertips over the sticky head, something slick spilled over his fingers.
Ernst moved his hips, guiding it to rest against his entrance.
Ernst lowered his hips onto it, looking up at Ganche. His hole twitched and mouthed against Ganche’s enormous thing, repeatedly kissing it, inviting it deep inside.
“…Ngh! …Lord Ernst… if we do, will you allow me to carry you back from here to the village?”
The animal nature mixing into Ganche’s copper eyes didn’t escape Ernst’s notice.
“Mhm, I’ll allow it.”
Ganche embraced him with backbreaking strength, his thick tongue ravaging Ernst’s mouth.
Steam billowed with each wave of splashing water. A thick and wide spear ran through Ernst’s body. He arched his back, unable to endure.
Thick arms rubbed against Ernst’s soft stomach. Ernst’s small member did its best to stand tall as Ganche gently massaged its tip, each of his movements in concert with the deep thrusts which struck all the way into Ernst’s body.
Ernst leaned his pale back onto Ganche’s taut stomach, his head resting upon Ganche’s broad chest, his golden hair disheveled.
At some point, darkness had fallen around them. Moonlight spilled over them from between the trees.
It was a quiet and beautiful night, with only the sounds of rough breathing and rippling water filling the silence.
“Ganche! Ganche… mn!”
As his body trembled, jostled by wild movements, hot water splashed on Ernst’s face. Ganche secured Ernst’s body with one of his arms, moving him up and down.
Ernst’s body was too small to take Ganche every night. But if Ernst were to tell the truth, he didn’t want to let pass a single minute of opportunity. Ernst tightened his hole, holding Ganche as if trying to keep him inside. It was as if he wanted to engrave this shape, this heat into his body.
Ganche’s voice roughened. Ernst felt Ganche grow much hotter inside of him, and he knew that Ganche was reaching his end.
“Inside of me… Ganche, I want it all… inside…!”
Ganche’s hips rammed against him, pressing tightly as if to fulfill Ernst’s wishes.
Ernst felt Ganche rumble a low moan on his nape. The insides of Ernst’s body lit up with heat. Ganche shot out inside of Ernst, filling Ernst up so much that he felt like his stomach was going to swell. The intoxicating feeling carried Ernst away, bringing him to a slow release.
Ernst’s small member now belonged to Ganche, so even if it was small, it still stood erect. By now, even just a kiss from Ganche was enough to make it hard.
Yet still, it didn’t shoot out the same way Ganche’s did. His release slowly trickled out from the tip.
It looked as if it were crying. To Ernst, it was a shameful, unseemly sight, but Ganche had told him that it looked so adorable that he couldn’t bear it.
Of course, if it pleased Ganche, then Ernst no longer had any misgivings about it.
As Ernst’s body went limp and his mind blank, the cold air felt soothing to him. Ganche quickly redressed Ernst, then put on his own clothes. Even now, Ernst’s body trembled with pleasure, and he let out a hot-breathed sigh as Ganche gently lifted him up.
Ernst rubbed his cheek against Ganche’s hard militia coat. Ganche pressed a kiss to Ernst’s hair, chuckling a little.
Ernst felt Ganche’s heat still within his body. He clenched his body, trying to keep it from flowing down his legs.
If he could keep all of Ganche’s copious release in his body, Ernst felt like he would be able to gain a little bit of the Dunbertian’s strength.
Held within these arms which were safer than anywhere in the world, Ernst dazedly shut his eyes.
They left Iben Village the next day. This village, too, had tried its utmost to host Ernst and his entourage well. It didn’t seem as if this was because Ernst was the lord; rather, he had a feeling that they would treat anyone who visited their village with a warm reception.
They soup and bread they had offered was better than that of Arruca Village’s.
But, in the face of these humble dishes and tableware, Arker had openly furrowed his brows and refused to partake no matter what. Seeing the grim expression Arker showed the villagers, the lively village head came over to appease him.
Yet Arker disregarded the amiable village head who had come to chat with him, and he sat walling himself away from the soldiers, as well as the villagers. Since Ernst had prohibited eating the food they had brought from the estate, Arker sullenly kept silent while hugging his knees.
The militia soldiers completely didn’t pay any attention at all to Arker, and they ate the food that the villagers treated them to.
For them, they had all come from poor homes. As the children of peasants they were unable to eat well, so they had to become soldiers. They might have felt that the taste of Iben Village’s food reminded them of home.
Ernst watched them quietly, observing and taking everything in without saying a word.
My face when I got to this R18 scene, man. Funnily enough, I wrote an almost identical scene in a fanfic (warning: stepbrother incest) a few months ago. It’s… very telling of my tastes. Seeing Ernst doing something similar makes me feel so conflicted… Young old man, who did you learn your seduction techniques from??
The translation is going pretty slowly, so I’ve decided that I’m going to aim to release 1 chapter a week regularly until I build up enough stock to make more frequent updates.