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    Abel was the one who wanted to turn his back on reality the most. He wanted to run away with the prince. He wanted to hide somewhere, live in the forest, eat what he could find, and be poor but live in nature. Then he thought he might be able to hear the prince’s laughter that he had never heard before.

    However, Abel suppressed all these desires and turned his gaze to the sky. Faintly, a horn-like sound could be heard from afar. As if changing the mood, he turned his brightened face to the sky and listened carefully. The sound was clearly the cry of a hawk. Abel’s wandering eyes soon spotted the hawk swiftly descending from the distant sky, and he exclaimed with excitement.

    “Wow! Prince, it’s a hawk, a hawk!”

    When the prince raised his head, Abel pointed to the sky with his hand, afraid that he might not be able to find it.

    “Over there, over there. Look, it seems like it came out to hunt. Look at those big wings.”

    It quickly descended, spreading its wings wide and soaring back up again. Watching the flight of the bird with large wings, Abel opened his mouth as if reminded of something.

    “By the way, did you know? If humans eat uncooked meat, they are prone to stomachaches. But strangely, hawks don’t get sick even when they eat raw meat. Amazing, isn’t it?”

    After watching the hawk’s flight a little more, Abel smiled and explained.

    “Hehe, the secret is in the hawk’s nest.”

    As Abel’s voice lowered as if telling a secret, the prince raised his head a little more, showing more interest. Perhaps pleased with his reaction, Abel opened his mouth wide and whispered so that only the prince could hear.

    “When the hawk brings a special herb to its nest. That fragrant grass is an herb that prevents the hawk from getting sick even when it eats raw meat. Isn’t it amazing? Even though it’s not a creature that lives on the ground, it manages to find that precious grass. Sometimes animals can be wiser than humans. Sometimes, when humans mishandle the meat they eat, it can go bad. In those cases, it’s said that if you find the hawk’s nest and eat that herb together, it will be fine.”

    The hawk had disappeared into the distance at a fast speed, but the two couldn’t take their eyes off the sky. The prince was the first to turn his head in the calm sky. Since meeting in the morning, he had tried not to leave Abel’s side, but surprisingly, he stood up and showed his back to Abel first. What’s going on? Abel was surprised and tried to stand up, but his ears and eyes reacted before he did.

    “So, what’s the secret in the hawk’s nest?”

    It was a hoarse voice. The person’s face who spoke didn’t feel like someone who had been in the mountains, even though he was pale. He was tall, but his thin body seemed like it could collapse in the field’s wind. And his vacant eyes. He didn’t know when it started, but a tall man was standing nearby.

    However, he wasn’t alone. On his arm was a small, beautiful man who clung to him like a woman. And not only that, the tall man’s wrist and the beautiful man’s wrist were also connected by a string. Abel had never seen him before, but he could instantly tell who the tall man was. He felt familiarity deep in those vacant eyes. It was similar to the prince’s eyes.

    “Your Majesty.”

    Abel quickly bowed his head and stood up. And just as he was about to step forward next to the prince, he realized that it was the small hand that was blocking his way. Only then did Abel realize why the prince had shown his back to him.

    The child was protecting Abel from the king. For whatever reason, the prince harbored hostility towards the king. What was interesting was the king’s reaction. Despite his son’s guarded expression, he smiled instead. In Abel’s eyes, it was a twisted smile.

    “Pathetic. To have such confidence in oneself when one cannot even protect it.”

    The king, who sneered at the prince, looked up and stared at Abel.

    “Ah, you who caused such unnecessary thoughts in the prince, is even more pathetic. Moreover….”

    The king turned his head and slowly looked around.

    “Of all places, it had to be here. Are you pleased to capture the prince’s heart without any interference?”

    In response to the sarcastic question, Abel calmly looked back at the king and asked.

    “Your Majesty, didn’t you want to be with someone who captivated your heart without any interference?”

    If there were soldiers around, it could have been a rude question that would have prompted them to draw their swords. That’s why the Regas, who stood next to the king with a frightened face, glanced at him as if scolding him. Instead of getting angry, the king only spoke in a cold voice.

    “No, I didn’t want to. What do you know? I knew I wouldn’t be able to be with that person for long.”

    Suddenly, the king chuckled and stared straight at Abel.

    “You won’t last long either.”

    The king tried to find surprise or fear in the other’s eyes with delight. However, the green eyes he met were calm as if they knew everything. Instead, a warm gaze filled with pity returned. The king was surprised and his eyes narrowed.

    “You seem to know something.”

    However, instead of an answer, Abel placed his hand on the small child’s head who was still blocking his way. As if it were a habit, he gently stroked it and gave an answer that the king did not want.

    “I only know one thing. I truly know how strong the prince is. The fact that he fought alone until we met, and now he’s trying to protect me, it’s all because the prince is strong. So…”

    He raised his head and slowly spoke to the king. As if engraving it into himself.

    “Even if it’s not for long, it’s okay. I will do what I can right now, Your Majesty. I believe that even the smallest thing will surely be of help of the prince.”


    There was a moment of silence. In response to Abel’s words that he won’t last long, the prince turned his head and held his hand. Abel tightly held the prince’s hand and smiled, saying it’s okay. The king’s dull eyes, which had briefly brightened, seemed to return to normal, and he casually threw his words.


    However, contrary to what he had said, the king suddenly spoke to the Regas, who was hanging on his arm.

    “Do you see that over there?”

    “Yes? What are you referring to, Your Majesty?”

    Then the king stretched out his hand and pointed to a spot in the forest.

    “That over there. It’s sparkling like a jewel.”

    “A, a jewel?!”

    The Regas took a step forward, his face bright with excitement, trying to see where the king was pointing. Then the king, with an expressionless face, untied the connected string and placed his hand on the Regas’ shoulder.

    “Yes. A jewel. It’s the jewel you like the most, and it’s visible over there.”

    “Your Majesty. I don’t see it. Please explain in more detail.”

    “If you move further to the side, you’ll see it.”

    As Regas followed his words and took one more step to the side, the king forcefully pushed his shoulder. The Regas immediately screamed and rolled on the ground. His behavior was strange. Despite the clear view and the bright sunlight shining down, he trembled in fear as if he had become blind and was feeling the ground.

    “Oh! Your, Your Majesty! Wh, where are you? Yes? Please don’t leave me behind, Your Majesty. Your Majesty!”

    He called out to the king, who was just a few steps away, until his throat was sore. It was a bewildering sight for Abel. However, the king, who left his Regas behind in the fog without caring, approached Abel and the prince. The prince, who noticed him first, raised his yellow eyes and stared at the king menacingly. The king, who met the child’s gaze, stopped walking and sneered.

    “I told you. You can’t protect anything right now. You can’t even protect yourself.”

    He moved his halted steps and stood between the prince and Abel, then looked at Abel with his head lowered as if whispering a secret. A voice that only Abel could hear flowed. In the background, the Regas was still screaming, making it noisy, but Abel could clearly hear the words the king whispered to him.

    “Spring of Prayer. That’s the best you can do.”

    The king turned his back without leaving any clear explanation. However, when he had taken a few steps, Abel’s voice was heard.

    “Your Majesty.”

    ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖

    Ashler couldn’t help but be puzzled by Abel’s request. It was not an exaggeration to say that everything in the prince’s palace had changed. The king’s personal attendants flocked and meticulously recorded every person who came into contact with the prince.

    Especially the emotionless record keeper was not in a good mood. Ashler could see that his eyes were always focused on Abel, not the prince. Why would he meticulously record everything about Abel instead of the prince, who was the supposed subject of the records?

    Although there were doubts, Abel, the person in question, was behaving as usual without any concern. He knew better than anyone else the attention focused on him. Moreover, what was even stranger was that Abel was doing as he pleased on the king’s behalf.

    The prince remained silent again, but he was convinced that he had to receive education diligently by his side. The King’s Heart, as if rewarding the prince, allowed them to enter the forest for half a day after just a few days of attending classes together.

    It was evident that the prince felt better, even though his expression remained blank. And as this continued to happen, the prince began to show signs of adaptation, whether it was because he had gotten used to it or because Abel was by his side.

    He did what the teachers wanted without uttering a word. The prince’s days became busier than before. That’s why Ashler couldn’t understand Abel’s request when he secretly visited his room at midnight.

    “Are you asking the prince to learn swordsmanship from me?”

    Abel nodded. He lowered his voice as if someone might be eavesdropping.

    “I already mentioned it to the prince in the forest. The prince will say that he wants to learn swordsmanship first.”

    To come in secretly at night and whisper like this. Ashler, who had noticed something, stared outside with sharp eyes.

    “Does he follow you even at night?”

    He was referring to the record keeper, and Abel responded with a bitter smile. It’s as if he’s being watched. As Ashler frowned, Abel quickly brought up the matter as if he didn’t have time.

    “But the prince won’t intentionally choose you, Sir Ashler. So you have to do something after that. Please put a word in above so that you can become the prince’s swordsmanship teacher.”

    Ashler tilted his head, not understanding Abel’s words.

    “Wouldn’t it be easier if the prince just appointed me?”

    “Yes, it would be easier. That’s why it can’t be done. Because it would mean that you can be easily replaced.”


    “It may be difficult, but please make Sir Ashler be appointed through proper means. That way, you can stay by the prince’s side for a longer time.”

    Ashler doubted his eyes. The person in front of him was clearly Abel, but his expression, tone, and words were not what he knew of him. The fool who used to just make jokes was now looking at him seriously and speaking with insight.

    “The prince has not completely abandoned the habit of killing yet. It would be better if there was more time, but the situation is not favorable. Therefore, I think he should channel that habit into something else. Fortunately, it seems that the prince is interested in swordsmanship. I remember seeing him take an interest in hunting bears or wild boars before.”

    At the last words, Ashler also agreed. It’s natural for the prince, who hasn’t been able to abandon the habit of killing, to be interested in swords. And if he focuses on swordsmanship, he might be able to reduce unnecessary killing. Ashler understood everything, but still found it puzzling.

    “Is it really necessary for you to do this? Even if the time to go to the forest is reduced, if Abel continues to assist His Highness…”

    Ashler stopped speaking and realized the reason. Huh? Could it be?

    “Do you think you won’t be able to stay by the prince’s side for long?”

    Abel responded with a bitter smile. Ashler guessed that the King’s Heart was trying to push Abel away and nodded for now.

    “I will ask the Captain of the Royal Guards who sent me here. I’m sure he will also approve of me teaching swordsmanship to the prince, so if a formal request comes in, he will recommend me. So you don’t have to worry about this matter.”

    Finally, Abel, who had a relieved expression, stood up from his seat. But as he stood up, he staggered and couldn’t control his body, so he grabbed the table with his hand.

    “Are you alright?”

    Ashler hurriedly grabbed his arm, but Abel, who looked tired, smiled and brushed it off, saying he was fine. Ashler recalled that Abel also fell asleep during the day. When he first heard it from a soldier, he thought it was just a trivial matter.

    “I heard that you fell asleep while listening to the lessons with the prince. Are you feeling unwell somewhere?

    But Abel, who thought it was nothing, momentarily gazed into the air. Ashler immediately noticed that this was Abel’s habit. He had seen it a few times before. When he was at a loss for an answer, he would pause and come up with a different response. Sure enough, an unexpected word came out of Abel’s mouth.

    “Because there’s only one pillow.”

    “Excuse me? A pillow?”

    “What are you talking about?” Ashler frowned, and Abel scratched his head.

    “The record keeper sleeps in my room. I gave him one of my spare pillows, but he couldn’t sleep properly because of his usual sleeping habit.”

    It wasn’t a completely understandable statement, but there was something that bothered Ashler’s ears.

    “The record keeper… sleeps in Abel’s room?”

    “Yes. Even he records everything from the moment I wake up. Haha, sometimes it feels a little bit scary.”

    Abel laughed, but Ashler’s expression turned cold. This is definitely strange.

    “The record keeper’s behavior has gone too far. I will file a complaint to the higher-ups…”

    “It’s okay.”

    Abel cut off Ashler’s words firmly and shook his head unexpectedly. Then he laughed again, but Ashler’s expression could only grow colder. Abel’s smiling face no longer looked like a smile.

    “I just want to be by the prince’s side no matter what. So, Ashler.”

    Upon hearing his name spoken softly, Ashler unknowingly became tense. Abel was making this request with a serious expression he had never seen before.

    “Please stay by the prince’s side no matter what happens.”

    T/N: The foreshadowing, I really feel the angst is soon coming T-T

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