And here’s the Ko-Fi’s sponsored chapter 1/22.
Winter has ended, and spring is in full bloom with colorful flowers. It was a day when Ain was getting used to his life as the Crown Prince, and many things from a year ago ─ Krone’s arrival in Ishtalika and his big speech at the party ─ were becoming good memories.
“So, what do you want to talk about?”
Ain went to Katima’s underground laboratory in the morning. He spoke to Katima, who was lying down on the couch.
“What I want to talk about is this cursed magic stone.”
In front of them was a case that contained a cursed magic stone that was purchased at Majolica’s store. It was as old as the Dullahan, and the hidden magic power was no less than that of the Dullahan.
“The identity is unclear… so I thought it would be better for you to try to absorb it for a bit…”
But even if the poison doesn’t work, what about the curse? The question remains.
“I’m sure a little bit will be fine… Let’s take it out of the case first.”
Although he was a little taken aback by Katima’s overly confident attitude… Ain nodded his head in agreement. As it was, he averted his gaze from her and turned his attention to the uncovered magic stone.
Fuh, suddenly he heard a sound like a woman’s breathing.
(What was that just now…? No, it was probably just my imagination.)
Ain couldn’t take his eyes off the magic stone. And before he could even think about why, his fingertips moved toward the stone for an instant.
“What is it about this magic stone that makes me so curious?”
“…Who are you-nya, to be cursed so quickly-nya?”
“I’m not cursed; I’m just a normal boy.”
He’s a half-Dryad, and thanks to some reincarnation perks, he can taste magic stones. An ordinary person would never be able to say that he was a normal boy, but Ain insists on it.
“…I don’t care if you’re normal or not. …Well, I guess it’s time for you to try it.”
Katima pointed her paw to the cursed magic stone.
“If it’s dangerous, I will seal this room. We’ll deal with it later by destroying the stone.”
Even so, he felt like he shouldn’t hold it, but Ain’s curiosity prevailed.
“Well then, I’m going to absorb some of it.”
He picked it up, but there was nothing strange about it. It was not long before Ain thought so, and now a voice rang out that was not only heard by Ain but echoed throughout the room.
“─I found you…”
“Nya!? Nya-nya-nya-nyaaa ─ What was that voice? Put it back-nya! Put it back into the box-nya!”
At the moment Ain tried to follow Katima’s instructions, a change occurred in Ain’s body.
“Eh… w-why? Why is the illusory hand…?”
The odd-shaped hands that appear on the back of his body gradually increase to two, three, and then four. The illusory hands that started to run amok are aimed at the magic stone.
“Ain! Don’t do anything weird, just put those hands back quickly-nya!”
“I didn’t do anything! They came out on their own…!”
He desperately tries to pull the hands away, but on the contrary, the hands move closer to Ain’s body. He resists it with cold sweat on his forehead, but his whole body trembles weakly, and he cannot resist strongly.
“Nya… put them back-nyaaaaa!”
Katima hit Ain from behind, and Ain’s hands were returned. The illusory hands disappeared, and Ain collapsed on the floor in a heap of exhaustion.
“Ka-Katima-san… my whole body is very heavy…”
“It’s natural-nya. Your illusory hands came out to that extent-nya ─ Eh, Ain!?”
Katima approached to take care of him, but when she saw Ain’s hand, she screamed in surprise. Before she realized it, Ain’s hand was covered with a jet-black cuirass that she had never seen before.
“To be honest-nya! It’s not just a little bit… but you’ve absorbed a lot of it-nya?”
“No, no, no─! I don’t feel like I’ve really absorbed any at all…!”
Katima turned over and thought.
─But, rather than thinking about the difficult things, the priority right now should be Ain’s physical condition.
“This is Heal Bird’s magic stone-nya. Heal Bird is a special magic stone that is not toxic to humans, and its power can be used directly for healing. In the meantime, absorb it and recover your strength.”
What she took out was a magic stone with an emerald-like appearance. Ain absorbs it from the palm of his hand, and a relaxed, mint-like sensation rushes through his body.
“Even so, I’m sorry about this-nya. I did something wrong-nya.”
“No, no… I was interested in it, too.”
“…We’ll have to keep what happened today a secret. I don’t even want to think about Olivia finding out about it, let alone my father.”
Olivia cares more about Ain than her own life. It can be easy to see that she will be scolded harshly. The two exchanged glances and turned their heads.
◇ ◇ ◇
Ain leaves the basement and walks down the hallway. The sun shining through the trees in the breeze colored the corridor. Someone called out to him as he was absorbed in the scene.
“Ara, Your Highness. It seems that you are not in a good mood… You look tired.”
“Oh! Isn’t it Ain-sama?”
“…Oh. Hello, Majolica-san. Lloyd-san, too. Actually──.”
Majolica is wearing a pair of magic stone suspenders that hide her nipples as usual. He wondered if it was appropriate to wear them in the castle, but Lloyd didn’t reprimand him, perhaps because Majolica was an official merchant.
Ain, on the other hand, was bewildered every time they passed each other in the castle.
“You know, the curse magic stone I bought a while ago? I was investigating that magic stone, so maybe it’s because of that.”
“Ara, ara, I guess you’re not making any progress, huh?”
As Majolica twists his body to emphasize his upper body’s muscles, Ain currently does not have the strength to interfere.
There’s a reason why Majolica exchanges word with Ain in a friendly manner. It is because Majolica, who frequently visits the castle, had many opportunities to exchange words with Ain in the castle.
It no longer mattered that Chris’s behavior had revealed him to be the Crown Prince during their first meeting. The other day, Ain was introduced through the castle window, so there was no need to worry about anything.
“Such a special magic stone… the only other things I can think of are the Demon King’s magic stone in the audience room and Dullahan’s magic stone, which Your Highness absorbed.”
I’ve never heard of it. Majolica continued to the Ain, who tilted his head, his eyes black and white.
“Both the Demon King’s magic stone and Dullahan’s magic stone were attracted to each other. When the two were near each other, visible magic power was released from the magic stones, and they moved little by little, trying to get closer.”
“─It’s as if they have a will of their own.”
Cold sweat appears on Ain’s neck. It was just like the phenomenon in Katima’s laboratory.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that they had a will. That’s why the Demon King’s magic stones are sealed so tightly.”
After that, the two magic stones were separated from each other, and the commotion stopped.
(What should I do…? Isn’t it just like deja vu?)
“Well then, I’m going to leave, but if anything happens, please call me right away.”
“Okay, thank you.”
Majolica, sensing the sincerity in Ain’s words, nodded back in satisfaction. As soon as Majolica left, Lloyd, who had been quiet, opened his mouth.
“As Majolica-dono said, don’t overdo it, okay? Since my son is still inexperienced, he may not be able to serve as Ain-sama’s guard outside the academy. Hahahaha!”
His son? A guard in the academy? Ain had no idea what he was talking about and just looked at Lloyd with a puzzled look on his face.
“What do you mean by my son?”
“I apologize. Actually, my only son will be serving as Ain-sama’s bodyguard… But it’s limited within the academy.”
This is completely new to Ain. However, there is one thing that caught his attention.
“And why is it limited to the academy?”
“If I were to speak as a Marshal, I would say that it is purely due to his lack of power. He has outstanding abilities among his age, but if asked if I could entrust you to him anywhere, I could not agree yet…”
(That means… Chris-san will continue to guard me outside of the academy.)
Although it’s limited, Ain will have two guards.
“If you have some time to spare, would you mind to come and greet him this afternoon?”
“I’m not busy right now, so if you’d like, I can come by now.”
“That would be great. He should be at the training grounds right now, so I was hoping you could come by.”
Ain followed Lloyd as he walked away.
(…I wonder what kind of person Lloyd-san’s son is)
A huge man called Lloyd and a small woman named Martha. He was a little excited to see what kind of child would be born from these parents.
(With a physique like Martha-san’s and a face like Lloyd-san’s?)
And then… Without being able to come up with a correct answer, Ain stepped into the knight training ground.
“Everyone, continue your training! Dill, wipe your sweat and get yourself ready, and hurry to the presence of His Highness!”
Lloyd’s commanding voice echoed throughout the training grounds. Many of the knights immediately resumed their training.
(It’s as powerful as ever…)
He reaffirms the reason why he is the Marshal. Ain looked at the majestic figure and wants to be like him as quickly as possible.
“There he is. This is Dill Glacier. He is my only son, an apprentice knight.”
His appearance betrayed everything Ain had imagined.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness. I am honored to be assigned to Your Highness’s personal guard. My name is Dill Glacier. I am the only son of Marshal Lloyd here.”
The first impression was of a beautiful boy. Dill’s figure was thin, a stark contrast to Lloyd’s muscular physique. His eyelashes are long, his mouth is tight, and his dark green hair is well-groomed.
But apart from all that, Ain had a hard time with Dill.
(H… hmm… it seems that he’s a stiff person…?)
His expression showed that he had a serious personality, and he looked like he couldn’t make a joke so much that Ain wondered if he ever smiled.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but…
“In fact, Dill’s escort has a little something to do with Ain-sama’s education.”
Ain nodded deeply, and Lloyd’s face became serious.
“There are certain attitudes that a person in a position of authority should have… and I want you to learn those.”
“It makes sense… I knew this day would come…”
“That’s impressive. So, His Majesty has a few words for Ain-sama. You must not use honorifics with Dill, and you must not look at him. You must observe these rules and respect others. He told me that.”
This is the first time he has ever heard the word “His Majesty” from someone since he usually called him Grandfather.
“…I understand. Dill, I look forward to working with you.”
“No, it’s my pleasure.”
Ain thought to shake hands with him as a sign of friendship, but instead of shaking his hand, Dill lowered his head.
“Ah… um, since you’re here as my bodyguard, you can call me Ain, okay?”
“I apologize; I can’t do that. I’m only a bodyguard.”
Dill, who doesn’t have a single smile on his face, replies coldly. Ain is silent. Seeing that, he bowed his head in a machine-like motion.
“Father ─ no, His Excellency the Marshal. I will now go for a run outside.”
“A-ah… I understand.”
It’s a very machine-like statement, different from being passionate about training.
Ain, who was taken aback, followed Dill’s back with his eyes as he walked away.
“My son, he’s a very stiff man, isn’t he? He’s very inflexible, and his stubbornness is all that stands out.”
Stiff is a strange word to describe him. Dill’s language and manners are very polite, and his lack of emotional ups and downs accentuates his stiffness.
“For better or worse, the only thing that has grown is his knightliness.”
“Well… I think it’s admirable, you know?”
“It’s nice to hear you say that. I am very proud of him, and I have trained him to be an excellent knight…”
Lloyd’s figure is different from that of Ain’s father, Logas. Ain swallowed the words, “If only a man like Lloyd were his father.”
“Oh! By the way, Ain-sama. Her Royal Highness said that she would have tea with you…”
Ain’s life with a new family in Ishtalika is much more fulfilling and happy than his life in the Roundheart family.
“Grandmother? I understand; I’ll ask Martha-san!”
He prayed that this happiness would continue.
Then, with light footsteps, he looked for Martha and made his way to his grandmother’s place.