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    Loves Error

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    Since I was only permitted to use the training grounds starting the day after I turned five, my birthday party had to be held before my training commenced.

    Young children in this world died just as easily as those in my previous one, so it was strictly prohibited for them to roam outside the mansion before reaching the age of five. Additionally, I had heard that grand birthday celebrations weren’t a common practice either.

    I had also heard that it was often the lady of the house who hosted these parties. So, it would be quite a concern if their health were to suffer while managing a large event shortly after giving birth to a child.

    Both of those points seemed quite reasonable to me, so I considered them to be correct.

    Even though I, Michael Ernhardt, was currently the only son, I had yet to be granted a title of nobility.

    I had heard that my paternal grandfather held the title of a count, and my maternal grandfather held the title of a duke.

    However, my father was a lord who was set to inherit the title of count, and my mother’s older brother was the heir apparent set to inherit the title of duke. Therefore, after my paternal grandfather’s passing, I would follow in my father’s footsteps and be designated a lord.

    My grandparents, whether they were from my mother’s or father’s side, all adored me, and we had already met on several occasions prior to my birthday celebration, so it wasn’t a daunting task to be around them.

    “You’re finally here.”

    “Indeed I am, my little puppy. Did you miss grandpa?”

    “Of course, I missed you. Have you been healthy and well?”

    However, it was difficult for me to turn a blind eye and smile at my paternal grandfather’s behaviour, as he always pinched my cheeks every time we met, a result of my young age.

    It was clear that expressing my dislike would have been embarrassing for both of us, so instead, I just shook my head, pretending it was causing me pain. Only then did he let go of my cheeks and place a large gift in my arms.

    I’d heard that it was customary to have the servants gather all the gifts in one place. However, it was clear that he wanted to present this gift to his grandson himself. So, I simply smiled and accepted it.

    It was much heavier than I expected, causing me to stumble greatly.

    My grandmother was next, enveloping both myself and the gift in a tight hug. I felt the coarse texture of her puffy dress brush against me, but I managed to maintain my composure, controlling any outward reaction.

    “Yes. I’ve learned how to both read and write, so after today, I’m expected to start learning etiquette.”

    “Since you’re already so smart, I have no doubt you’ll excel in everything you do. Aren’t you curious about your gift?”

    “Guessing from the size, I thought it might be a doll, but… it’s heavier than I expected. May I open it?”

    “Of course. It’s yours, after all. Hurry and open it.”

    Just what in the world could it be for them to speak so confidently?

    Since it was a birthday celebration for a young child, the surrounding atmosphere was relatively relaxed.

    As several adults ushered their kids, who were around my age, to greet me, I found myself struggling a bit to undo the tight knot of the gift.

    My mother approached and guided me to where the other gifts were piled up. After finally managing to undo all the packaging, I couldn’t help but let out a big exclamation.

    “Isn’t… isn’t this armour?”

    “Everyone knows that the eldest grandson of the Ernhardt family has been wanting to become a knight since early childhood. Your father will be the one to give you your sword, and while you may have armour tailored to your size when you’re older, it doesn’t seem like you’ll have armour fitted to you now. So, we decided to prepare you this gift.”

    I was concerned about running around with sandbags or steel plates attached to me, considering my bones weren’t fully developed yet. However, with this armour, I could evenly distribute the weight throughout my entire body without any concerns!

    I was so happy I didn’t even bother to hide my delighted expression as I hugged the armour.

    My paternal grandfather and grandmother nodded with satisfied looks on their faces, and this time, my maternal grandfather and grandmother delightedly presented the gift they prepared. I wasted no time in opening that one either.

    It was a shield large enough to cover my upper body and a steel sword perfectly sized for my hand. Though the blade was dull, its ornate decorations made it sparkle in the light.

    “This…! Isn’t this a shield from the Imperial Order of Knights?!”

    “That’s right. Since Sir Ernhardt will be joining the empire’s highest order of knights in the future, we were granted special permission to borrow their emblem. Even though this might not have been planned in advance, it certainly does look like a matching set with the armour. You’ll look like a formidable warrior.”

    “If you press the button, it’ll create the illusion that the sword is enveloped in aura. Do you like it?”

    “I love it!”

    The Imperial Order of Knights was similar to the Imperial Palace Knights, who served and protected the Emperor, Imperial Palace, and the borders within the central plains.

    In this land, masters weren’t known to be scattered across remote mountainous regions. Instead, they often came together to participate in the affairs of the state.

    From what I had gathered, there were two knights within the Imperial Order of Knights who had already attained the realm of the unrestrained. So, it seemed only natural for my interests to lie within this specific order.

    I lifted the shield and swung it around, eliciting wows and applause from my peers, who were watching in the background.

    It was obvious that their parents had instructed them to react in such a way, but I was having too much fun to care.

    In my previous life, grand celebrations were reserved solely for the head of the family. Given that I frequently had to camp outside, with the sky as my ceiling and the ground as my bed, my birthday wasn’t typically celebrated in such a manner.

    From the moment I started speaking, I’d been going on about wanting to learn the sword, so it was no surprise that all my close relatives knew about my dreams. But in that instant, a surge of emotions flooded over me, my heart ablaze.

    “Thank you so much. Grandmother, Grandfather.”

    “You’re all dressed up right now, so why don’t you wear it later, once the party is over? Would it be alright to leave the weapon and armour in a private dressing room?”

    “Of course. Mother, would it also be okay for me to bring the sword to the banquet hall later?”

    “Usually, that wouldn’t be allowed, but… Today’s a special day, so I’ll make an exception.”

    A pair of affectionate lips pressed against my forehead, accompanied by a warm tone.

    I had long since grown accustomed to the culture of this place, where displays of affection were frequent and much more intimate than in the central plains, so there was nothing to be embarrassed about now. I laughed and returned the gesture, planting a kiss on my mother’s cheek.

    Later on, dozens of distinguished figures brought forth their children to greet me, and I welcomed them all with a smile on my face.

    Though my stamina surpassed that of my peers due to my consistent training of my internal energy, laughter filled my surroundings, giving me no reason not to join in.

    But if there was one challenging task, it was memorizing the names of all the young children I had been newly introduced to.

    For about forty years, all the names I had encountered were composed of three or four characters. Unlike the old days when I could simply call people whose names I didn’t know by titles like “Sohyeob¹” or “Daehyeob²” based on their age, people’s names here were too long. Furthermore, when their first name was short, their last name was too long.

    Even if I attempted to address them with a suitable title, such as “young master” for the boys and “miss” for the girls, I had been told over and over again that proper etiquette demanded the use of their last names as well, so I was reluctant to strike up conversations with anyone first.

    Perhaps that had made me seem shy. It was cute and commendable how the boys and girls took notice of this and made intentional efforts to initiate conversations with me first.

    Fortunately, Count Cerbel’s eldest son, Logan Cerbel, who was four years my senior and frequently visited to play, already knew everyone’s name, and would drag them over one by one to suggest we play together.

    As expected, having a peer in my surroundings gave me a good idea of what games children liked to play. His initiative was truly admirable and worthy of praise.

    When the children began to assemble in the largest drawing room, dressed in all sorts of ways for the party, the servants rushed to rearrange the sofa, tables, and other furniture against the walls.

    And, as is customary for children attending a party hosted by a prominent family, they all seated themselves in their fancy clothing and put on a pretense of manners.

    The children gathered there displayed a variety of hair colours, spanning from red to blue, and with each of their movements, glimmers of light danced before my eyes.

    Children between the ages of five and fourteen gathered in clusters according to their ages, chatting with each other. Some of them brought along their dolls, while others entertained themselves with games like chess, cards, and wooden blocks provided by the servants.

    Since I was the protagonist of today’s party, I found myself constantly on the move, checking in on everyone, which proved to be quite exhausting.

    But I had to play the part of a host, so I adorned a cheerful smile and participated in everyone’s activities.

    I slipped into one of the older groups and grabbed a chess piece. Based on what my father had taught me, it wasn’t much different from the janggi³ of the central plains. Personally, I found it to be an easier game compared to go.

    “Young master Ernhardt, have you already learned how to play chess?”

    “My skills are rather unremarkable. I’ve only played a few turns with my father for fun.”

    Still, this seems to be less embarrassing than playing house with the younger kids. My immediate response was met with roars of laughter.

    Although I wasn’t quite sure what was so amusing, it was heartening to see the young children filled with laughter, so I chuckled along with them.

    In the central plains, children from esteemed clans would either engage in sword fights, clad in robes drenched in sweat, or run around in groups, tossing stones around for fun.

    The reason behind this was that the games commonly played by children in the markets, like marbles or ttangttameokgi⁴, often required crouching down, which was considered unsuitable for the lofty spirit of the Great Namgung Clan. Therefore, such activities were prohibited within the clan.

    When I won the first round, everyone seemed shocked, and when I won the second, the young master acting as my opponent seemed flustered. The third time around, I played my moves more carefully, barely managing to lose.

    As I continued playing with a few other young masters and misses, I attempted to place my moves with a bit more naivety, but I was already accustomed to playing chess with my father, so I was quickly caught when I acted like I didn’t know how to play.

    The children’s eyes were much sharper than I had expected, leaving me feeling embarrassed.

    To be fair, in my previous life, I had only observed the other children from afar, and once I turned fifteen, I never ventured any closer than three jang⁵ to them.

    It was only natural for me to be unaware of just how clever and intelligent children of this age could be.

    After having fun together, we all made our way back to the party and admired the array of food laid out on the low table, telling the servants who followed behind us what to put on our plates before all gathering together to eat.

    I liked the fact that I could eat as much food as I wanted, that there was a mountain of fancy food, and that I could fill my plate with all the food I wanted to eat without needing to reach too far.

    When I remarked that this was an excellent way of demonstrating the Ernhardt family’s affluence all in one place, the older children erupted into laughter again.

    ¹;² 소협, 대협 – Literally “young hero” and “big hero”. Terms of address referring to martial artists
    ³ 장기 – A Korean game similar to chess
    ⁴ 땅따먹기 – Korean hopscotch basically
    ⁵ 장 – One jang is about three meters

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