In response, Erhart barely suppressed the smile that was about to escape his lips.

‘By the way, Your Highness.
There’s a summer festival this year.
Would you like to come with us?’

That day, while riding on horseback with Niels Canavan and chatting frivolously, the summer festival in Argen became a hot topic.


it will be held for four days starting from the 10th.’

‘Tell me in detail, Count.’

Niels explained a little more enthusiastically when Erhart, who had been looking indifferent, suddenly showed interest once the summer festival was brought up.
To summarize the lengthy explanation, it was held once every two years, and this year was the year of the festival.

He himself wasn’t interested in the festival, but there was someone around him who might be.
Right now, there was a very beautiful mermaid with his green eyes twinkling, right before his eyes.

“Apparently, there’s coincidentally a festival going on the day of the full moon.”

“Let’s go!”

“Do you know what a festival is?”

“Then do you know, Erich?”

Erich was momentarily speechless at the innocently retorted question.
He knew what it was in theory, but he had never been to one, so it was impossible for him to explain in detail.
Besides, Neils eagerly explained what he was going to see at the festival earlier, but he couldn’t remember it well because he had been immersed in the thought of telling Rayan quickly.

“Well, there are a lot of interesting things.”

“A lot?”

“There are many things to see.
They will sell a lot of delicious things you like.”


Even though the explanation was rather poor, let alone detailed, Rayan liked it so much he laughed.
His tail wiggled and slammed the surface of the water, as if to prove he was in a good mood now.

“I want to go.
I want to go… Ah.”

Rayan’s expression, as he sang excitedly that he wanted to go, became overcast for a moment.

“I can’t go if Alle is around.”

Erhart swallowed a sigh.
He hadn’t thought of that.
Even Rayan’s guardian, the heir to the Killer Whales Clan, didn’t know that Rayan would transform his legs when he came up from the water on a full moon day.
Only Rayan and Erhart knew about it.

Once a month, only for three hours.
There were times when they couldn’t meet on the day of the Full Moon, so he had seen Rayan walking on two legs less than ten times.
However, Erhart looked forward to that day every time, because he could show Rayan a world wider than the one which could only be shown through the crystal ball.

Just as he showed him the world he lived in, Erhart wanted to reciprocate.

“He gets called away often these days, so he might not be there.”


“If it’s not this time, there will be another time.”

“Then why don’t you learn a little bit more of our language until then? It would be nice if you could read by yourself.
Oh, yes.
Should I tell you the value of the currency? It wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to be able to buy things yourself.”

“I don’t want to.”

Erhart could barely hold back the burst of laughter.
There were times when Rayan, who was soft-spoken about anything, firmly refused.
His reaction was different, so he felt a desire to tease him often, and this time he did not disappoint.

Considering what he had been trying to do recently, talking with Rayan was not productive, but just spending time with him washed away today and all of the previous days’ fatigue.

“Anyway, it’s okay if I just know a little bit, because I’ll only be going around with Erich.”

Erhart was surprised by Rayan.
So he could say such an abashed thing well.
Were you raised among generous and gentle people so that saying kind words became a habit? Well.
He was sure he must have been loved much.
He had a good personality, and it was enough to tell just by looking at the killer whale around Rayan.

It should be like that, but I might not tell you properly.”

“… ”

“It could be spicy food, but I might trick you into thinking it’s sweet.”

Rayan furrowed one of his eyebrows downwards when he heard that strange insincere remark.

After getting to know each other for quite a while, just looking at the way Rayan twisted his eyebrows, was enough to guess what he was feeling and what he was going to do.

As expected, Rayan’s hand reached for the end of his sleeve.
He just grabbed Erhart and threw him into the sea.
The lukewarm water from the hot weather soaked his clothes and sag.
His tongue tasted the salty flavor of the water.

Erhart had now mastered simple swimming skills, but he still struggled as if he couldn’t.
His body continued to sink under the water.
Rayan grabbed him, who was scrambling, and put his lips onto the other’s, breathing in.

As he was struggling on purpose, he drank water to calm his fast breathing without realizing it.
This process of breathing, no different from breathing on the surface, was always a surprise every time he went through it.


Rayan looked at Erich, who was no longer panting, and threw out a single word.

“It’s been a while since you were able to swim.”

“Not really.”

How did Rayan know? Was his acting so mediocre? But he had pretended to be a drowning man with such enthusiasm he he drank water in the process of floundering.

“You think I’m an idiot? That I didn’t even know.”



“I was pretending not to know.”

“Uh,” Erich said, making a foolish sound.

Rayan snorted.
He had been tricked once or twice.
He was startled at first, but he wasn’t ignorant enough to keep being fooled.
Besides, he lived a life where cleaving through the water was easier than breathing.
How could he not know? Even so, he pretended not to know simply because it was Erich.

“So, don’t surprise me with that.


Erich naturally held out his pinky.
At first he didn’t know what it was, but Rayan, who had now masterfully understood the pinky, led him into the sea.

He had thought of taking him to a beautiful place Alle had come and seen before he found it, and let him have a look.
The red and blue corals looked very beautiful to him, so it was clear that Erich would be satisfied with them.
The opaque tail fin swayed softly as if to represent his mood.


Djerba, the capital of Hesseles.

The huge castle carved out of white marble was dazzling white even from afar.
The Imperial Castle, which had a large frame made of marble and a built-in white wooden pedestal covered with incense as a pillar, was by far the most famous of Hesseles.
Envoys from other countries often admired the beauty of the Hesseles Imperial Castle.

Even in the Imperial Castle, where no place was lacking, there was a palace which had been built with utmost care and dedication, and that was Renée Palace.
Renée Palace was usually used as the Empress’ annex, but this time with an exception, the Emperor’s most beloved woman became the owner of the palace.

Olivia Winston, who had firmly established her position as the owner of Renée Palace for ten years, looked at her face in the mirror while wearing an opaque silk gown.
These days, in order to hide her pale complexion, her face was covered with a red tint on her cheeks, turning rosy, looking quite dazzling.

“His Majesty is here.”

“Lead him in.”

Olivia rose from her seat and greeted the Emperor.
When his sensitive temperament saw Olivia, he relaxed a little.

“Your Majesty.”

Don’t be so polite.”

The Emperor stepped forward towards her and took Olivia’s hand to help her straighten her body.

“How can I do that to Your Majesty?”

“I authorize it.”

Olivia laughed openly.
Then the Emperor, with an expression of helplessness, grabbed Olivia and pulled her away.
The maids quickly set the table.

“You look tired.”

“It’s always a matter of looking at the state affairs.”

“I see.
We need to settle the burden on Your Majesty as soon as possible.”

Pouring the wine, Olivia selected and honed what he would be happy to hear and whispered.
The Emperor was dead set on being at her son’s throat.
So Olivia couldn’t get on his nerves.
She once seemed to have loved him, but now those feelings had long since faded.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s always piling up.”

Olivia couldn’t control her expression for a moment, her gaze dropped.
Because it was obvious that one of the many things he talks about is Erhart.
Although not openly exposing it in front of Olivia, he always disliked Erhart.

‘If you kill my child, I will die with him.
Even if Your Majesty does make me immortal, I will follow the boy by any means possible.
Do you think I can’t?’

The day Erhart was born, had suddenly sprung to her mind just five days ago.
Embracing her young son, Olivia risked her life to establish a relationship with the Emperor.
It was a gamble.
If the Emperor had double-guessed the importance of his most beloved concubine’s life that day, he would have ended Erhart’s young life then.

However, the gamble that risked her life succeeded, and it wouldn’t be long before Erhart reached the age of 20.
She only had to hold her breath a little longer, but her plans kept going wrong and awry.

“Just take care of your health.
Have you been ill again? You seem to be getting sick more and more these days, so I’m worried about that.”

“It’s a mild cold.”

“Even if I tell you to see the physician, you are stubborn.”

“It’s not that serious of an illness, it’s just shameful.
Rumors that His Majesty’s concubine is making a fuss will spread around the Imperial Palace, how will I be able to lift my head?”

“Who can talk about you behind your back?”

“It seems I must have been tired from pampering Marie these days.
I’ll pay a little more attention, so stop worrying.
I don’t want to put myself within Your Majesty’s concerns.”

Olivia beamed and brightened her voice.
The Emperor looked closely at her, then nodded, tilting the wine glass.
It was only then that Olivia felt a sense of relief.

“By the way, I heard you’re preparing for a tea party.”

“The rumors are so fast.
See, Your Majesty.
If I hadn’t been feeling unwell, I would have had a tea party and invited the ladies.”

She babbled more about Marielle soon turning seven years old, making her having a lot to take care of.

The princess also needs close friends her age.
If there are people who don’t respond to the invitation, you should tell me right away.”

“Are you going to punish them?”

“There’s nothing I can’t do.”

“Then what if there starts a rumor about a mysterious, evil woman, never seen before in history, deceiving Your Majesty?”

“It’s only because I’m afraid of that, Liv.
Your heart is so soft, I can’t let go of my worries all day.”

The Emperor smiled and lightly stroked Olivia’s cheek.
His dry hand touched her soft cheek.

“Speaking of Marie.”

The Emperor tapped the armrest.

“Isn’t that kid’s birthday soon?”

Olivia forgot how to breathe for a moment.
Marielle’s birthday had already passed.
‘That kid’ he was talking about was Erhart.

Olivia became nervous again.
The Emperor did not reveal anything in front of her, but there was an implication.
As if he was dissatisfied with Erhart’s presence in Argen, he threw the bottle he was drinking, breaking it.

“So, I’m worried about what kind of gift would be good for him.”

“It will be his birthday, so how about going to Argen for a break this summer? Meeting his mother after a while must be a very meaningful gift.”

“… Argen?”

It’s been two years since you last saw him so you must miss him a lot.
I can’t just pretend that my son is recovering at the nursing home.”

Olivia didn’t know his intentions.
Did he want to go see him in person? Or did that mean he was going to nip in the bud there? Olivia, however, could only restrain her reaction.

“I thank Your Majesty’s generosity.”

“No need, because he’s also my son.”

Olivia’s breathing choked.

Suddenly, Olivia recalled the prophecy, no, the curse that shackled her life.
It was kept as a top secret, apart from the emperor, only a few knew about the matter: the reason why the Emperor tried to kill Erhart.

He, who was born under the crimson star, will drench the throne with blood.

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