“It’s been a while since we last talked, hasn’t it, Kondou-san?”
As always, Yua looked lovely and youthful with her beautifully braided hair. Now, however, she was not wearing the dress she usually did within the royal palace. That was probably because they were on this expedition. Even so, the outfit she was currently dressed in hardly seemed appropriate for someone to wear on such a dangerous journey with knights.
“You’re right,” Seiichirou replied, casually looking around. There was a knight standing guard at a distance, but when his gaze met Seiichirou’s, he quickly looked away.
He must be the same quiet knight from the dining hall. So, unless there is a problem, we won’t be at a disadvantage, Seiichirou thought to himself.
It was true that it had been a long time since they had spoken to each other, but that was partly because Yua really did not care about Seiichirou and also because he had been avoiding her too. To be honest, it was no exaggeration for Seiichirou to call her a ‘kimon’1 at this point.
He knew that she had no ill intentions towards him, but he also knew that getting involved with her would be bad for the both of them because of their respective positions in the kingdom. Seiichirou was also aware that she did not understand any of that because she was still just a child.
When Yua invited him to her quarters for some tea cakes, he informed her that he could not join since there was still work to do. All she gave him in response was a troubled look.
“I’d appreciate it if you could keep whatever you have to say short.”
“W-Well, uh,” she seemed to sputter, “I want you to switch places with me for tomorrow’s travel!”
Suddenly, Seiichirou felt himself grow dizzy from Yua’s thoughtless utterance. Saying something like that with flushed cheeks as if she had made up her mind, was she not embarrassed?
No, is this happening because we’re approaching the miasma?
Seiichirou silently glanced at the Saint’s escort. He caught himself thinking, isn’t it the role of a bodyguard to condemn such things if they might put her at risk? But the expressionless knight swiftly averted his gaze once more when Seiichirou scrutinised him. That bastard.
When Seiichirou did not answer, Yua looked up at him anxiously with upturned eyes and asked, “Umm…is that…a no?” She fidgeted as she waited.
But what should he say? Seiichirou thought about it for a while, but nothing good came to him. This was all too quickly becoming troublesome.
“Shiraishi-san, do you understand the significance of this expedition?”
“Huh? Of course I do. It’s to purify the miasma of this world, right?”
“Yes, that’s correct, and you’re the one and only precious Holy Saint who can do that.”
When Seiichirou said that, Yua blushed shyly in embarrassment, but that was not the point he had been trying to make.
“Well, that’s why you’re riding in the same carriage as the other royals, where you’re surrounded by knights ready to guard you, ready to face anything.”
That was something that had probably been said to her before departing this morning. As expected, Yua’s lips pouted in childish frustration, trying her best to appear utterly disappointed at Seiichirou’s response. However, she needed to hear the next words he spoke properly.
“And I’m the most miasma-prone person in this world,” he began.
“Um, does that mean you still have no resistance to mana?”
“That’s right,” Seiichirou told her. “To put it another way, it’s just like breathing in polluted air from our world. That’s enough to make anyone feel weak. With that in mind, if someone like me were to go to a place filled with an even more poisonous gas, one that can even make a normal person from this world sick if exposed to it, I would surely die.”
“Eh?” Her eyes widened in disbelief.
Seiichirou was certain that Kamil, the Prime Minister, and even Aresh himself had mentioned all of this to her and talked about his precarious condition at length, but Yua still had the audacity to seem shocked.
“No way… but to that extent…”
“Yes. I would absolutely die, 100% for certain. In fact, I’ve almost died twice already since we came to this world,” he finally admitted.
The first time had been due to magical poisoning from his nutritional supplement overdose. The second time was due to a vicious attack by men who had personal issues with him, one of which had been assigned to guarding the Saint in front of him.
“I know that you said that without thinking it through, but if you keep on insisting for special accomodations, you’re only adding to the workload of those around you who are trying their best to keep you safe. Right now, you’re even proposing something that could kill me.”
Yua’s one-sided love for Aresh was too apparent, but honestly, Seiichirou did not want her to allow it to disrupt the ranks or add to anyone else’s duties during this trip. Moreover, he did not want to die because of such a selfish desire to monopolise the knight commander either.
We are rapidly approaching an area covered in miasma.
Although Seiichirou felt that Aresh’s actions might have gone a bit overboard, Seiichirou’s safety would not have been possible without him.
“That’s…I didn’t mean to…”
Unfortunately for her, Seiichirou was not even the least bit moved by the pitiful sight of the poor teenage girl with tears in her eyes, shaking her head in denial at the hard truth Seiichirou had brought to light.2
“It’s time you start thinking about taking your responsibility as the Saint more seriously. This isn’t a world where you can just continue blindly doing as you’re told and living out the rest of your days in blissful ignorance.”
Seiichirou was not doing this out of malice. In fact, he cared a lot about the young girl’s future, which is why he was so set on diminishing the importance of the Saint’s position in this kingdom.
“So, I heard that you said something to the Saint?”
After the banquet dinner, Aresh had gone to relax in Seiichirou’s assigned room as if it were his own. Said royal official, who was sorting through the information he had gathered from the civil servants asking around town, looked back at him blankly.
Yua had appeared to be in low spirits at the banquet. That much was readily apparent to anyone who looked at her. Still, the fact that she had chosen to show up instead of shutting herself in her room was something Seiichirou thought worthy of praise.
After all, she was being taken care of in the governing lord’s mansion. If the Saint did not attend the banquet meant to honor her presence, it would have tarnished the poor man’s image.
The Crown Prince Julius, as expected, had expressed his gratitude to the lord while disguising Yua’s lack of energy by saying that she was merely tired from the long trip they had made. Seiichirou had originally thought the prince was a lovesick fool for the Saint, but now seeing the young man’s diplomacy in action, his opinion had changed.
“From where did you get this information?”
Slowly, Aresh stood up from the bed and extended his hand towards Seiichirou. The official turned his body in the chair without releasing the documents in his hand. Although Aresh repositioned him to sit down between the knight’s legs as they lay back on the bed, not once did a single piece of paper ever leave Seiichirou’s clutches.
“From the Saint’s guard, of course. I made sure that His Highness wouldn’t hear about it.”
Seiichirou tilted his head and blinked. That was strangely considerate. “I appreciate that.”
If that Prince were to ever find out that I made Yua cry, he would leave me in the forest for dead.
“I thought you weren’t interested in the Saint…” Aresh muttered as he wrapped his arms around Seiichirou’s waist.
“How could I not be interested in her?”
After all, she was the one who had dragged Seiichirou into this world—she was the entire reason why he was here. She was also the only person capable of dealing with the natural disaster that threatened the survival of this country and all its people. Well, the actual culprit responsible for both their presence here was this country’s magic department, who had originally summoned the Saint in the first place, so it was not as though Seiichirou bore a grudge against Yua or anything like that.
Putting thoughts of himself aside, Seiichirou felt kind of sorry for Yua. She was but an ordinary high school girl who now had to come to terms with living in a world vastly different from what she was brought up knowing. So, yes, Seiichirou did not hold a grudge against her, but he did think it was time for her to finally face the reality of her present situation.
“I see…” was all Aresh said.
“Sir Aresh? Perhaps it’s time for you to go back to your room?”
“I’ll go back when you stop working and go to bed.”
“So you’re not going back…?” Seiichirou asked.
“So you’re not going to sleep…?” Aresh asked in reply.3
Oh, what unnecessary trouble have I brought upon myself!?4
Shortly after that, Seiichirou’s papers were taken away, and he was shoved into bed and forced to sleep.
The next morning, Seiichirou stumbled upon Yua and the prince near the stables right before their departure. She still looked somewhat disheartened from their conversation the day before, so Seiichirou felt compelled to awkwardly avert his gaze in the hopes of not disturbing them. Perhaps there was no point in trying to keep their conversation a secret from the prince, Seiichirou thought as he hid sheepishly behind Diana. Just being exposed to Prince Julius’s sharp gaze would likely be enough to cause Seiichirou to crack under pressure and admit he had said something harsh enough to make the Saint cry.
They reached their accommodations for the second day around noon.
Due to the fact that the land beyond this point would become greatly infested with miasma, it was decided that they would take a rest and leave early the next morning to reach the Forest of Magic. Seiichirou, who had been working tirelessly on horseback once again, was given another layer of “protective barrier” as a precaution and slept soundly in Aresh’s embrace in the evening.
Then, on the third day of the journey, their party finally arrived at the edge of the Forest of Magic.
Hasr: Pls motivate staff, kindly donate a furry aresh and daddy kamil to our fanart contest
The departure ceremony for the expedition had finally begun. The participants were gathered in front of the royal castle, and after receiving words of gratitude from the king, they listened to a speech from Julius, the crown prince in charge of leading them. The contents of his speech were nearly identical as what had been said at the dinner party. When he was finished speaking, they departed.
The whole affair was similar to a parade-like procession from the castle to the main gates of the capital. All around them, citizens were cheering for the prince and the saint, but when they saw Seiichirou, their cries died down to a murmur. He paid them no mind and stared back into the crowd with what he knew were the eyes of a dead fish,1 a look he had been perfecting since entering the workforce as a corporate slave.
To begin with, he had looked like this right from the moment they left the royal plaza.
With most of the general pomp and circumstance of the departure ceremony done, it was now time for the expedition to actually depart.
The prince and the saint were traveling in a luxurious carriage, outfitted with all the comforts expected for someone with a royal title, while most of the court mages and middle management civil servants were riding in carriages that were less grand, their amenities somewhere in the middle. It was the ordinary servants, cooks, and medical officers who made up this group of civil officials, rather than the prince and the saint, that were traveling in these. But still, even saying that about their transport, there was a distinct difference between these well-maintained carriages they were taking and the more uncomfortable ones that the common folk rode in with wheels that were not always even and cabins that jolted passengers at every dip in the road. All the knights rode on horses of their own.
Seiichirou, too, was technically a part of middle management, but as he headed towards one of the designated carriages, someone called out to him from behind.
“Seiichirou, come here,” the voice commanded.
“Excuse me?” Seiichirou turned around to look at the person who had addressed him.
It was the handsome captain of the Third Knight Order, the very same person that had left from Seiichirou’s room earlier that morning at the exact time the royal accountant went off to work and caused an unprecedented stir in his surroundings, who was calling out to Seiichirou with an unconcerned look on his face.
As if impatient with Seiichirou’s lack of movement, Aresh kicked at the cobblestones with his boot before reaching out to grab the sleeve of Seiichirou’s brand-new outfit. It was the one that he himself had suggested Seiichirou put on when they were getting dressed in the morning. Although Seiichirou had prepared some of his own clothes for the expedition, Aresh had seen them yesterday and given the royal official a raging reprimand before he replaced them. With a solid grip on the official’s arm, he returned to his horse.
“Ah, Aresh? That civil official… Are you going to make the deputy director of the accounting department ride on a horse?” Orzif asked reservedly amidst the dumbfounded onlookers. He was the man closest to Aresh both in terms of position and acquaintance, yet Aresh did not deign to answer him, only nodded as casually and stone-faced as ever in reply.
“This man has no resistance to mana and will die if a constant eye is not kept on him. I’ll take care of him.”
“Uh, ah, but in that case, wouldn’t it be better for him to travel in the same carriage as the medical officers?”
“No, it wouldn’t,” Aresh replied flatly. “This man has many other troublesome characteristics they could barely even begin to understand. The only person who can manage his condition is me, the one who’s been doing it all along. The reason why we’re taking him on this expedition in the first place is because of the direct orders from the crown prince. I can’t let him die along the way. That’s why I’ll take care of him.”
It was a lengthy explanation that did not make much sense to Seiichirou. Had Aresh not spent time yesterday carefully reinforcing a protective magical barrier meant to last throughout the length of the expedition? I thought he did that because we couldn’t be by one another’s side most of the time,Seiichirou thought to himself.
In addition, he still had things left to discuss with the court mages, starting with East, but most importantly of all, Seiichirou had never ridden on a horse before. He had heard that riding horseback could be very hard on the body2 if one was not used to it. Traveling this way for a six day round trip would be impossible for someone like him.
“Captain Indrak, with all due respect, I’ve never ridden a horse before. And as you know, my body is too weak to withstand such a long and arduous journey that way.”
The corners of Aresh’s eyes twitched unhappily when referred to by his family name and title, but Seiichirou hoped the knight would not mind as they were very obviously in public.
“That’s not a problem… We’ll proceed only after taking the time necessary for recovery into consideration.”
In other words, the plan was to stick close enough to him and familiarise Seiichirou with mana all while applying the protective barrier and recovery magic as needed during their travels each day.
Although Seiichirou felt that Aresh’s actions had gotten a little out of hand over the past few days, he did not know if the Forest of Magic was so dangerous that it warranted constant round the clock contact.
As he was torn between preserving either his safety or his dignity, Aresh interrupted him by taking out a fistful of papers. It was almost as if he had prepared them beforehand as a distraction.
“Here are the detailed statements of the expedition costs for the Second and Third Knight Orders. You can read it as we ride,” he said matter of factly while handing them off to Seiichirou.4
“I’ll be in your care,” was all the official said before joining the knight.
Once seated, Seiichirou realised that riding on top of a horse was much higher up than he had ever imagined, and the unstable foothold from the shared saddle filled him with an alarming sense of dread. But for Aresh, who was seated behind him, it seemed like nothing. The knight kept his chest flush to Seiichirou’s back and surrounded the outside of his legs, their thighs pressed tightly together, to help fix his body in place.
“I’m sorry for asking this so late, but is it really all right for two grown men to ride a horse together?” Seiichirou questioned while looking down at the animal they were mounted on. He suddenly felt sorry for the horse, whose beautiful mane was just as black as Aresh’s uniform. Having heard him, Aresh answered in a low and enticing voice from behind.
“It’s not a problem. Even if I was kitted in armour from head to toe and had a longsword, Diana would still be faster than any other horse on the field.”
So, the horse’s name was Diana.5 That must mean it was a mare.
Despite what Aresh had said before, Seiichirou still believed that the poor animal’s fatigue would build up no matter what the knight believed, but perhaps that, too, could be solved by Mr. Aristocratic Knight’s all powerful recovery magic.
“I want to try riding on a horse, too!” a high-pitched, girlish voice rang out.
“Your Holiness, you should spend your time in the safety of your carriage,” the firm voice of her guard instructed as they ushered her up the steps and into the plush cabin.
It would appear that when Yua saw Seiichirou riding in tandem with Aresh, his arm wrapped intimately around the official’s lower waist, she had raised her voice loud enough for all those around to take notice and stare.
And just like that, Seiichirou was publicly humiliated as he passed through the main gates of the city.
After they had left the city’s gates far behind, Seiichirou was finally given permission to read the documents he had been given earlier. It did not take him long to start flipping through and reviewing all of the pages one by one.
Even the occasional jerky motions of the horse trotting along did not seem to bother him as long as he concentrated on the documents before him.
“Was this statement prepared by the clerical staff of the Knight Orders?” he asked off-handedly, without looking up.
“No, I prepared it,” was the answer he received.
“What’s with that reaction? Is it lacking in some place?”
Far from lacking, the paperwork in question had been thoughtfully arranged and was easy to follow.
Had this really been written by Aresh, the same man who never wanted anything to do with such small odd jobs?
Once again, Seiichirou was convinced of the man’s natural genius, which appeared to extend beyond just the use of magic and sword. What else could he call it if Aresh could do this, too, even after managing to save Seiichirou’s life multiple times?
“What is it? If you have something to say to me, say it,” the knight spoke closely to Seiichirou’s ear. The warm breaths ghosting along the skin there made him feel more uneasy rather than displeased. Still, Seiichirou tried to ignore it and replied,
“No, it’s very well-written and quite easy to read. But what do you mean by this supplementation equipment repair cost?”
“Ahh, that is…” the knight trailed off in another lengthy explanation.
At any rate, Seiichirou was grateful that his work had now been made even a little bit easier by someone else.
He did his best to regain composure and followed along with the knight commander’s description of the expense. As he listened, Seiichirou reminded himself that being with Aresh, someone who was able to produce such high quality documentation all while still managing his other work, was a rare chance to learn more about the accounting procedures of the Knight Orders.
The town they arrived at on the first day was much smaller than the royal capital, but it was gorgeous and mainly built from red brick.
They had arrived shortly before dusk, starting with Prince Julius, Yua, and their attendants. Aresh and all the civil officers followed shortly after. Due to his position, Seiichirou was invited into the mansion by the lord who governed the town, and the rest of the knights and civil officials went off in search of their lodgings elsewhere.
Only when he was finally alone, did Seiichirou slowly begin to stretch out his stiff limbs.
Although Aresh had kept his promise to support him and help him recover from the many long hours spent riding, the experience had still been hard on his body. To be more specific, it was his groin and pelvis that were sore.
I’m definitely going to end up feeling this tomorrow, he thought to himself as he stretched out his legs.
While he dreaded riding on Aresh’s horse the next day, what really terrified Seiichirou most was the delayed muscle pain6 that he knew would kick in sooner rather than later. Then again, Seiichirou was already at an age where he felt a certain amount of acceptance to face the anticipated pains of the next day. It felt… almost normal this way.
“Well, then…” he sighed in resignation. There was still work to do. Somehow managing to move his stiff lower body, Seiichiro wandered out of the room that he had been given.
Earlier, he had asked the civil officials with no post to ask around town and gather information about the damage caused by the miasma. Thinking they would be reluctant to accept his orders, Seiichirou had prepared a number of logical arguments to get them to do what was needed. However, it seemed that his little public display with Aresh in the morning was more than enough to get them to all agree without question.
What he did not notice was how many of the civil servants were secretly taken aback by his own behavior as they watched him work from horseback while on the move.
Regardless of all that had transpired earlier in the day, Seiichirou’s aim now was to locate a different room on the same floor with a specific purpose.
When he found it, he quietly tapped on the door. There was no response. He had seen the person he was seeking enter the room earlier, so he knew they had to be in there. He knocked again, louder this time. Finally, someone answered.
“Uh, excuse me?” a listless voice said as they opened the door.
Tiredly, Seiichirou smiled at East, the deputy director of the Court’s Magic Department.
While it was a bit more difficult than Seiichirou had expected to hold a conversation with East, his nature truly was fundamentally honest and earnest. This type of personality was common amongst those who had managed to turn their passion into a profession.
His work was done sooner than anticipated, and Seiichirou left East’s room before preparing to head to the spot where he would meet up with the civil officials he had sent out to acquire more information from the streets.
As he walked, he made note of the mansion’s interior and how it was both colourful and brilliant yet not over the top, much like the quaint little town in which it resided.
Some time ago, he had read in a book that this territory contained a profitable coal mine and was renowned for the high quality of its jewellery. Knowing that, the decorative natural beauty of this place made more sense.
Since he still had some time before the designated meetup with the other civil officials, Seiichirou decided it would be a good idea to do some exploring around town outside. If he didn’t return in time for dinner in the evening, he was certain Aresh would have a lot to say to him.
He was still lost in his thoughts when the voice called out to him, so his reflexes were a tad slow to react. When he turned around to look at the source, he saw Yua, whom he hadn’t talked to in a while, standing under the lights on the floor below. She was waving her hand at him with a bright smile on her face.
Seiichirou sighed in resignation again. Nothing was going according to plan lately.
Hasr: Here’s a thank you from Whistle to everyone who supported us through Kofi and Patreon and made sure Whistle isn’t homeless anymore! You can continue supporting us broke TLs over on Patreon and get some nice and spicy AreSei action~
In the dormitory room specifically prepared for officials working in the royal palace like Seiichirou, there was now another man with him who clearly did not belong there.
After the banquet last night, Seiichirou had gone to work in the morning as he always did. Or rather, he arrived at his workplace even earlier than usual and proceeded to bury himself in even more work than normal.
Due to the sudden and unplanned business trip—otherwise called the expedition—he would be taking part in, he thought it prudent to finish up any of his remaining work as quickly as possible with whatever available time he had left before leaving. It was also important that he prepare a guide for his colleagues to manage the accounting department during his absence. Another task he had to do was prepare the budget proposals to cover both the expenses for the expedition and post-expedition processions.
The actual journey itself would take place in three days. Altogether, it would be a six-day trip. The transport for the expedition would consist of horses and carriages. Horses were to be changed out and carriages checked for damages at a city midway to the final destination; the same would be done again on the trip back.
Looking at the paperwork now, there were even more participants than what Seiichirou had managed to glean from the banquet. That was mainly due to the increase in the number of people who wanted to support the king and his subordinates and were subsequently forced to participate as well. As it turned out, there were also more officials who had been chosen apart from just Seiichirou.
Well, as long as I’m taking part, I’ll try to make use of this opportunity as best as I can, Seiichirou thought to himself as he reviewed the list of participants. The upcoming expedition was nothing trivial, after all.
Though he had been ahead of his work before the banquet, the unanticipated changes to the expedition had now left Seiichirou with tons more tasks left to complete. There probably would not be enough time for him to finish everything before they set out.
Because of all that, Seiichirou had planned on working as soon as he got back to the dormitory following the banquet, but he ended up getting lectured by Aresh for the remainder of the night. He was not even able to strike a bargain with the magic department as he had originally planned. 1
He had even tried to work during lunch hours, but ended up getting dragged to the dining hall by the half-crying bastard child of the king. Once there, another troublesome nobleman refused to release him until the end of the lunch period.
Adding further insult to injury, the knight commander returned to pick Seiichirou up after the royal office hours were over, as he often did.
Like always, the accounting department was in an uproar when Aresh made his entrance. In order to spare his pride, Seiichirou had promised to meet Aresh outside of the department office. However, that agreement was something even Seiichirou was unable to keep as he was too heavily engrossed in his work, which resulted in Aresh standing in front of his desk again. The knight commander said nothing, choosing to snort condescendingly at him instead.
Hence, Seiichirou was once again encouraged to return home on time. Although he could have resumed his work after he entered the dormitory, it was highly likely that Aresh would be joining him to reinforce the barrier, just as he had promised he would until it was no longer necessary. Still determined to finish his work before the journey to the Forest of Magic, Seiichirou secretly drank bottles of supplement once Aresh finally left him alone in the evenings.
Two days passed this way without much consequence, and now it was the final day before the expedition. In order to better prepare for the journey, many of the participants had been granted the whole day off.
Unsurprisingly, Seiichirou was not one to waste such a golden opportunity and brought as much of his work home as he could to spend the entire day working as happily as he pleased.
Aresh, who later came to visit to administer the official’s treatment, was not amused by what he saw. He glared coldly at Seiichirou with hardened amethyst eyes.
“What are you doing, Seiichirou?”2 Aresh asked, pointing at the desk where Seiichirou was working.
Several pieces of paper were scattered all across the wooden surface, which only heightened Aresh’s suspicions that the accountant was doing something he should not be.
Despite how it looked, Seiichirou had entrusted some of the remaining work that he was not able to finish to his colleagues in the accounting department. Now though, he was in the middle of preparing a new budget proposal and reviewing the list of items that were to be used during the expedition.
“The director has allowed me to take these documents home so I can review them today.”
Of course Seiichirou knew exactly what Aresh had meant by his question, but the royal official willfully chose to play dumb on purpose. That clearly touched on the knight commander’s nerves in a way he did not appreciate.
“You little—! To think you volunteered to take part in this expedition…! You’re going to such dangerous place with a body as fragile as yours, yet you decide to spend your last day off working instead of resting!? What the hell are you thinking!?” the knight commander shouted in frustration.
Although the dormitory appeared to be made of sturdy brick from the outside, the inside was mostly made of wood. The walls were not thick enough to prevent Aresh’s booming voice from being heard by every single one of Seiichirou’s neighbours.
To make matters worse, there was nobody in the kingdom who did not know or recognize this elite knight. He had even come to visit Seiichirou by unabashedly walking through the main entrance of the dormitory, invited or not.
From the corner of Seiichirou’s eye, he thought he saw a familiar looking blonde man peeking in at them through the slight opening of the door to his room.
“Are you listening to me, Seiichirou!?”
Seeing how Seiichirou was not actually paying any attention to him, Aresh angrily slammed his fist down on the desk. The harsh impact caused the old piece of furniture to vibrate and topple over a little bottle that Seiichirou had hidden out of sight. Damningly, it fell to the ground and rolled around loudly on the stone floor before it finally came to a stop.
“Ah…” Seiichirou began, “I can explain.”
But there was no explaining because it was a glass vial that Aresh knew very well. The mere sight of it caused his temper to worsen even more violently than before.
Nothing but the sound of Aresh’s loud voice could be heard coming from Seiichirou’s dormitory. The volume of it caused even the spiders in the corner of the room to run away in fright. Shortly thereafter, everything calmed down and only the gentle sound of Aresh’s incantations could be heard within the room.
Now Seiichirou was seated on his bed, held tightly in Aresh’s arms. Both of them were shirtless for the sake of Seiichirou’s latest treatment session.
It had happened like this: Seiichirou was caught sneaking supplements → Aresh had gotten angry → Seiichirou had gotten sick → Aresh proceeded to heal him with recovery magic → Both agreed to remove their shirts for the added skin to skin contact to help acclimatize Seiichirou to the magic cast.
This repetitive cycle was slowly becoming something natural for them.
However, Seiichirou was more flustered this time than any other for some reason. Perhaps it was because the deed had been done in his bedroom on his very own bed. But beyond that, Aresh’s visit was unsolicited in the first place. Hence, Seiichirou had not prepared his body or mind for this encounter beforehand.
“Do you still feel feverish?” Aresh asked Seiichirou, who seemed to be in a daze.
He was sitting on Seiichirou’s bed with his back leaning against a pillow on the headboard. In his arms, he held the royal official seated on his lap. Whilst leaning against Aresh’s broad chest, Seiichirou was able to observe the knight’s refined features more closely. His beauty was akin to that of a model. Seiichirou did not know if it no longer affected him as much because he had finally gotten used to being in such close proximity with Aresh or not, but he thought the knight looked younger when viewed from this distance.
“No, I’m okay now… May I continue working?”
“There’s no way I’d ever allow you to.” Aresh said, brushing Seiichirou’s sweat laden bangs away from his face.
Seiichirou, as expected, had another excuse at the ready. “But since I’m going to join the expedition, I need to be fully prepared for it.”
He desperately wanted to return to his desk and resume working no matter what. In return, Aresh let out a heavy sigh. He was truly exasperated from the bottom of his heart.
“If you want to be ‘fully prepared,’ then you need to prioritize your health first. You should know better than anyone that you can’t do anything well with a body as weak as yours.”
Seiichirou had been made well aware of that fact since the beginning. After all, without Aresh by his side, Seiichirou would have died long ago just from breathing in the miasma-tainted air of this world. Even a single scratch on his skin would have been as fatal as a stab wound.
That was part of the reason why Seiichirou had to get himself acclimated to magic by maintaining an intimate connection with Aresh. This time, his fingers were intertwined with the knight’s. Such repeated intimacy was causing him to develop increasingly complicated feelings. But this was all just for the sake of his work, right?
“Besides,” Aresh blurted out of nowhere, “I’ve already had a summary of the expenses for the Second and Third Knight Orders prepared for the expedition.”
“Huh?” Seiichirou could not believe what he had just heard.
This was the first time Seiichirou had been told Aresh was actually doing his job seriously. Even more surprisingly, it was one that involved paperwork. In pure disbelief, Seiichirou stared up at Aresh with wide eyes.
“Why are you looking at me like that…? Even I do my job from time to time; I just don’t have the papers with me today. I’ll hand them to you by tomorrow morning, so you can resume your work then. I only came here today to reinforce the barrier on you before the expedition. I was waiting for you to ask for it yourself, but you’ve done nothing but hide away with your work day after day…”
Suddenly, Seiichirou was hit with a sudden guilt. “I’m sorry…” he sheepishly replied. “I apologize for the inconvenience…”
For Seiichirou, he thought it would have been more efficient if the barrier was cast during the journey since they would be together anyway. That is why he thought today should be dedicated to doing as much of his work as possible before then. However, after putting some thought into what Aresh had said, they probably were not going to be together through much of the journey due to their vast difference in rank and position.
Perhaps Seiichirou was going to be in deeper trouble than he had initially anticipated.
“I’ll leave here tomorrow morning and depart for the expedition immediately after that.”
“Eh?” Seiichirou tilted his head. “You’re really planning to spend the night here?” 3
Since Aresh seemed insistent on a sleepover at Seiichirou’s, the royal official would absolutely be unable to resume his work. Or maybe not… What they were doing now was also important to ensure that Seiichirou could continue doing his work duties4 the next day.
“Are you sure it’s okay that you don’t go back home?”
“It’s not a problem. I’ve already finished packing, and tomorrow the knights will carry my things for me. I had wanted to spend the rest of this day with you, after all.”
Since Seiichirou also considered this a form of work, he suddenly and vividly imagined himself as a host whose sole purpose was to pretend to be on a date with his customer back in modern Japan. In order to dispel that particular thought, he opted to change the topic.
“Captain Ind—” Seiichirou stopped midway. As they were situated now, he was reminded of the growing closeness between them. It would seem unnecessarily cold to address the knight so professionally. “Sir Aresh, where do you live?”
Given Aresh’s position as a leader of knights, he probably lived in the lodging specially prepared for those serving the royal palace. Unexpectedly, however, it turned out that he resided with his parents in their home.
“You live with your family, huh…”
It was then that Seiichirou recalled Aresh was the son of a marquis. Personally, he did not understand how the caste system worked in this world since there was nothing comparable to it in modern Japan, but he believed Aresh’s family was likely very esteemed among other nobles.
“Sir Aresh, do you have any siblings?”
That particular question came about because now Seiichirou was wondering if it was normal for an adult with such a high-level position to still be living with his parents. Though he would never admit it, Seiichirou might also have been curious about the knight commander’s family just a little. Upon being asked something so unexpected, Aresh blinked in bewilderment, a gesture which only served to make him look younger than his years, almost like a child.
“I have two older brothers and one older sister.”
Then that meant this handsome, high and mighty knight commander was actually the baby of his family. Something about that brought a smile to Seiichirou’s face unbidden. Aresh, fully comprehending just what it was that Seiichirou must have been feeling after learning that kind of information, started to sulk. He tugged sharply on the royal official’s ear in protest.
“Serves you right,” Aresh huffed, still brooding.
Undeterred, Seiichirou asked another question. “Do they live with your parents too?”
“No, my sister is married, and my second brother has a house of his own.”
It could then be inferred that the eldest son would be the one to succeed the family. If that was the case, then it was a mysterys how someone like Aresh, a man with his own considerable amount of prestige, did not yet have a place of his own in which to stay. As if Aresh could read Seiichirou’s mind, he resumed his previous explanation.
“I do have my own room in the knight’s lodging, but my parent’s house is closer to the royal palace, so I prefer to stay there instead.”
So it would appear that no one could object to this young master’s demands after all. That peculiar trait of his might have been another reason why Aresh had difficulty managing his knights; he was too used to others doing everything for him. The sudden realisation of that caused Seiichirou to flash a teasing smile at the other man again. This time, however, there was no hesitation from the knight commander who pulled on his other ear just as roughly in admonishment.
“Ouch…! Stop that.”
“Hmph,” Aresh snorted in something suspiciously like triumph. “What about yours then?”
Seiichirou did not understand Aresh’s question at first, but then he realised he was being asked about his own siblings, or lack thereof.
“I have no siblings. I’m an only child.”
Aresh nodded astutely. “You do seem like one.”
It seemed like too blunt of a reply from Aresh, but unlike Seiichirou who had kept on teasing him about such a revelation, the knight did not appear to have any intention of mocking Seiichirou for his honesty. Instead, it was more an expression of his honest opinion towards the royal official. Seiichirou himself could understand how being an only child might have helped shape him into the person he was now.
When he was younger, Seiichirou had often been envious of those with siblings. Thankfully, it had not taken him long to see how his lack of siblings had made him happy in other ways. He had been fortunate enough to receive the entirety of his parent’s love and attention without ever having to deal with any sort of sibling rivalry to fight for it.
Now though, for the first time in a long time, Seiichirou felt it might have been better if he really did have siblings.
“But since I’m an only child, my parents…” he trailed off sadly.
Back in the other world, Seiichirou was often too busy with work that he rarely had time to meet with his parents. He had not even gone to visit them during the previous Bon5 or New Years holidays. Although his parents did not seem to care much about how he chose to live his life and knew that he was more than capable to take care of himself, he still wondered how they felt now that their only child had disappeared from their world altogether, what they would do and how they would choose to spend the rest of their remaining lives without him.
Someday, if it was at all possible, Seiichirou wanted to go back to his old world. Maybe then he could see them just once more, tell them that he appreciated everything they had ever done for him before it was too late.
At the same time, Seiichirou also wished that the property and belongings he had left behind could somehow be transferred to his parents. It felt like the least he could do for them if he was truly going to be unable to care for them in their old age.
Never before in his whole life6 had Seiichirou ever thought so deeply about his mother and father. It was then that both of them were overtaken by the weight of their reflective silence, almost as if Aresh was giving Seiichirou the space he needed to think about the life he had left behind, the parents that he had not seen or might never see again in this lifetime. Only when Seiichirou’s eyesight began to blur did he realise that tears had been pooling in the corners of his eyes. Aresh, who had remained quiet up until that point, finally opened his mouth to chant a spell in that ever beautiful and soothing low voice of his.
As always, Aresh’s incantation sounded pleasant to Seiichirou’s ears, calming even, like a song meant to gently serenade him away from his darker thoughts.
Today, however, Aresh’s spell went on for longer than usual, not that Seiichirou minded.
It sounds like a lullaby… Seiichirou thought to himself, his eyes slowly closing as he listened to the melody.
He felt warmth spreading all throughout his body, the sensation leaving him unsure if the heat was being caused by the spell or the newly revealed raw emotions still surging through him. His drowsiness was gradually increasing, making it difficult to keep his eyes open. Something warm trailed down his cheek as he shut them for the last time. Steadily, Seiichirou was enveloped by darkness. He felt nothing else but the press of Aresh’s warm lips on his own, kissing him softly before he drifted off to sleep.
Hasr: Pls tell whistle to draw furry Aresh. Or alternatively, you could participate in our 4th Anniversary art contest and make Furry Aresh for whistle~
Once again, Seiichirou eyed the man in front of him.
His hair was an unusually light shade not often seen in Japan, where Seiichirou was from. The silken strands, glistening a soft pink wherever the light hit them just right, gave off a rather genial impression.
Such an impression was likely because the man had a young boyish face to begin with. The corners of his eyes softly drooped, and his stubby nose and small mouth further added to that image. Around his mouth though, bits and pieces of food were stuck.
Just from his appearance alone, he seemed to be in his mid-twenties. Although Aresh seemed a few years older, he wasn’t a good comparison. Well, at least this man looked older than Norbert.
As soon as Seiichirou decided that silence was his best option, the man who had been keenly observing him appeared to snap back to his senses.
“Huh? What?” The fluttering of his eyelids was childlike in nature.
Judging from Zoltan’s words and actions, Seiichirou could assume that this man’s position was as the Director of the Court’s Magic Department. That meant he was one of the central figures of any practice related to magic within the kingdom. As for the other man… it took Seiichirou a little longer to envision his role.
“East! Is that something you should say the first time you meet someone!? Introduce yourself! ”
As expected, Zoltan was a man with a strong ego and a tendency to flatter his superiors, but he was also a man of common sense and strong work ethics. Being part of the palace’s middle management himself, Seiichirou had grown quite a favourable impression of him as a responsible figurehead.
“Ah, an introduction. A self-introduction, I see… Yes.”
The man referred to as East straightened his posture and wiped his mouth with a sleeve. Just like that, he brushed aside the handkerchief Zoltan offered him from off to the side.
Finally, he turned to fully face Seiichirou and smiled amicably with his distinctive downturned eyes.
“I am the deputy director of the Court’s Magic Department, East. Uhm, and you are…?”
It would appear he did not seem to have heard Seiichirou’s greeting earlier, so without further preamble, Seiichirou gave another slight bow and repeated his introduction for the second time.
“I am Seiichirou Kondoh, deputy director of the Royal Accounting Department.”
“Kondoh. Kondoh,” the other man said again, “you’re from the Royal Accounting Department, are you? Even though the Court’s Magic Department should have lots of money, we don’t get very much from the royal budget and are always stricken with poverty. That’s why you should give us mo—ack!”
Just as East was about to request for more funds for his department, Zoltan’s fist struck him swiftly but silently in the back of the head, veins pulsing in his hand.
Unlike the Knight Orders, who were left in charge of vanquishing magical beasts and acting as royal guards, the magic department was involved in research. The results of their work were not only difficult to observe, but also cost large sums of money to even procure in the first place. With the kingdom having so few funds to spare, their research had been halted. Thus, it was not even possible for results to be shown to gain access to more. It was an incredibly vicious cycle. One that repeated over and over, and the budget for the magic department had gradually been shaved down until it reached where it was today. Seiichirou, who had made sure to gather and review all of the accounting books from the past few years as a part of his work, knew about the situation quite well.
Carried along by the crown prince’s enthusiasm for a saint summoning, along with the investment of other interested nobles, it would seem they had managed to use up most of their meagerly allotted funds.
That was why Seiichirou had decided to directly get in contact with them at the dinner party today.
Seeing East pitch forward as he reached up to hold his head, Seiichirou bent at the waist and leaned over to peer into the man’s pinched face.
“I cannot allocate more money to a budget without proper reasoning. However, I can listen to your request and consider it, how about that?” 1
Observed so closely, East’s wide, open eyes were a warm shade of jade. But before Seiichirou could marvel at how diverse the people of this world were, his throat tightened.
No, that was not quite right. Someone or something had seized him by the nape of his neck and dragged him back up into a standing position.
Just as he thought he heard the sound of his carotid artery rupturing, what Seiichirou saw in front was no longer jade, but amethyst.
The voice that escaped his constricted throat sounded feeble, but the man who was intently staring at him seemed to have heard it just fine, as indicated by how his elegantly shaped eyebrows scrunched up.
“Sir Aresh, that hurts…” Seiichirou sputtered his words, louder this time.
At last, the knight let go of his hold at the sound of his name, and Seiichirou coughed lightly as he fixed his collar.
“Sir Aresh, you suddenly rushed off! That surprised me!” came a girlish voice.
“Your Holiness,” the knight addressed her as she approached.
Before Aresh could say anything else, Yua came running to him prettied up in a fashionable white and blue dress befitting her station. With her long hair neatly braided, the outfit truly made her seem like a princess out of a fairytale.
“Your Holiness,” Kamil interrupted, “I had understood that you were to enter with His Highness.”
Kamil’s words gave those clamoring around in the background a sudden understanding as to why the Saint had appeared. Certainly, with this being a party meant to encourage all those who were setting out on the Saint’s purification expedition, the Saint’s entrance should have been a grand one. She was the belle of the ball, after all.
“Ah, I-I’m sorry, Mr. Kamil!” The Saint stutterd. “I thought Sir Aresh was supposed to enter with me, but he went ahead all by himself, so I chased after him.”
“Well,” the prime minister said with a small smile that did not quite reach his eyes, “it’s fine this time, but please return inside so as to not make such a commotion.”
The presence of Prime Minister Kamil and Captain Aresh of the Third Knight Order, managed to keep most of the crowd at bay, but there were still a number of nervous glances focused on Yua’s sudden appearance. It was as if they wanted to get closer but feared doing so.
“Yes, I’m sorry… Sir Aresh…” the Saint apologised politely. Before she did as Kamil instructed, Yua looked up at Aresh with pleading eyes, 2 as if wishing him to accompany her. But the man in question, hardened commander of the Third Knight Order in his signature black cloak and uncustomary white and blue outfit that happened to match the Saint’s, narrowed his amethyst eyes in response.
“I’ll stay here,” he told her. “The Saint and the royal family are the most important people of this event. You have no further need of me.”
Yua looked notably disheartened at his reply but reluctantly went back without another word when a member of the Second Knight Order came to retrieve her.
“What’s with that look…?” Aresh mumbled to Seiichirou under his breath as Yua was led away.
After the Saint was out of sight, both Norbert and Kamil wandered off to greet the other nobles nearby. Zoltan followed shortly after, leaving Aresh and Seiichirou with East, who soon departed too.
“I don’t think I understand the meaning of your question,” Seiichirou grumbled, reaching up to readjust his collar once more. He wondered briefly if his annoyance at being caught by the throat showed, but it did not seem so as Aresh answered him honestly without any hesitation whatsoever.
“Your look is your look, but you’ve gone and changed it. And your clothes… Where did you get those from?”
“Ahh, so that’s what you meant by my looks. I borrowed them from someone in my department.”
Aresh subtly shook his head. That was not what he had meant.
Finally, it dawned on Seiichirou that the thing Aresh was asking about was the kindness Norbert’s mother—well, foster mother—had done for him. Now thinking about Aresh’s question with this sudden awareness, Seiichirou realised that the knight had been referring to the makeup the noblewoman’s maids had painted on his face.
“The maids from the same house of the person who lent me these clothes insisted I clean up for this occasion, so now I look like this.”
Perhaps there is a fragrance that annoys him, Seiichirou wondered as Aresh seemed displeased all throughout the explanation.
Deciding that it was probably best to leave the brooding knight alone with such an attitude, Seiichirou nonchalantly tried to create some distance between them, but was swiftly and physically stopped before he could leave.
“Hm~~~?” The Deputy Director of the Court’s Magic Department hummed to himself at the exchange happening in front of him.
While East puzzled over the two oblivious men silently fooling around, the official announcement for the event began. First, the king of Romani entered and grieved over the miasma damage caused to the Forest of Magic. Then he explained the importance of the Saint summoning ceremony.
If you’re so worried about the damage caused by miasma, hurry up and send out your expedition, Seiichirou grumbled to himself, but he made sure not to let a whiff of those words be heard as he listened to the King’s speech with an impassive face.
After that, Yua entered the hall, escorted by the crown prince, and expressed how she would do her absolute best for the sake of the kingdom’s citizens, albeit somewhat unsteadily. The applause in the room that followed was thunderous.
Though Seiichirou brought his hands up to mimic a clapping position, they did not make a sound.
Lastly, the crown prince came forward and spoke of how wonderful the Saint who had magically appeared was. He even announced that he would be leading the expedition and read off the names of various court members who would be joining him on the journey.
There were many names from the Second Knight Order, those who acted as the crown prince’s personal bodyguards, and some from the Third Knight Order, starting with Aresh. After they were all announced, East and the court mages came next.
The size of the expedition party was roughly the same as the proposal that Seiichirou had given to Kamil personally, but with a few more people than he had originally accounted for. He was so engrossed in spontaneously revising the budget in his mind and devising ways to disseminate the work once he returned home that he missed the crown prince’s next words. Only upon seeing the clamouring nobles surround him and their heated gazes being directed at him did Seiichirou finally snap back to his senses.
“Those are all of the participants for this expedition. It is one of great national importance, organized specifically by the royal family. Each of you must do your part with honour.” The prince concluded his words and left the dias.
After ensuring the attendants would handle the remainder of the banquet, the royal family joined the bustling hall with Yua in tow. After all, they were still responsible for cultivating and fortifying relationships with those who might yet offer their excellent services to the kingdom, now and in the future.
“Seiichirou! For you to participate too… Are you okay with it?”
When Kamil walked over and called out to him, Seiichirou understood precisely what it was he had just missed.
“So, I am… accompanying them on the purification expedition, huh…?”
Stunned at the sudden revelation, Seiichrou stumbled back. How could this have happened? His body had no resistance to mana. To make matters worse, him being forced to go to a place filled with something even more deadly than mana, the very source of all the miasma in the kingdom itself, was essentially suicide.
“It’s impossible for you…” Aresh cut into the conversation. “I’ll be sure to tell the king you can’t join.” Just as he finished speaking, a new voice interjected to comment on Seiichirou’s would-be absence.
“A young girl as timid and fragile as Yua is going, yet an old man such as yourself wants to run away and hide?”
The person who had spoken was none other than the announcer who had named Seiichirou’s involvement in the expedition from the dias, Crown Prince Julius.
He looked just like any well-bred prince from a storybook, wearing a long white cloak with rich gold and blue ornaments accenting a luxurious white outfit that complimented his silver hair. Snidely, he turned his scathing blue eyes towards Seiichirou.
Behind Julius stood Yua, blinking innocently but with a troubled expression on her face.
“This has nothing to do with age and gender. ‘He’ is different from the Saint and has no resistance to mana. It would be foolish and dangerous for him to go to such a place so densely covered in magical energy.”
“And it would be equally cowardly and preposterous for the person who promoted such a dangerous expedition to be the only one safely cocooned inside the palace. He must go as well.”
The level of danger the forest of miasma posed to Seiichirou and others was vastly different. But despite all of Aresh’s protests, Prince Julius refused to budge an inch on his position. It seemed as though he was unhappy with how quickly Seiichirou had rushed the expedition; perhaps this was just the Prince’s way of taking that displeasure out on the one responsible.
Just before Kamil could step into the fray, saying anything to prevent Seiichirou from going on the expedition, East, who appeared as oblivious as usual to all the finer nuances of the conversation, turned to face Seiichirou with a puzzled expression.
“Is Kondoh not going with then?”
Seiichirou’s original plans had not included his own participation in the expedition. That was why he had planned on contacting East to ask for a favour. But now…
“Well,” Seiichirou sighed, “seeing the situation up close with my own eyes would probably be the fastest solution… So, yes, I’ll go…”
As he caught the commander of the Third Knight Order swivel his head back around at such an unbelievable statement, Seiichirou braced himself not only for the expedition but also the lecture he knew he was about to receive.
“This lotion made of carbell extract will make your skin so smooth!” one woman said.
“Next, we’ll give you a massage with the marison oil!” another added, moving about excitedly.
“And this serum, made of the wonderful heinefawin, should be applied directly to the area under your eyes!” the third one insisted, already dipping her fingers in the liquid and putting it on in a hurry.
After they were finished, all three maids squealed with joy. “The dark circles under your eyes are now gone, Mr. Kondoh!!!”
Seiichirou could only sit quietly and wonder at the confusing situation in which he currently found himself. It had all started when he got news from his superior, Helmuth.
“The date of the Saint’s expedition has finally been decided. It will be held six days from today.”
While Seiichirou was reviewing the documents that had been given to him, he was relieved to overhear the announcement. Five days had passed since Seiichirou had urged the Second and Third Order Knights to hasten the expedition; it was a part of the compensation he had requested for the physical assault he had been subjected to. Indeed, it seemed that they had done exactly as they had been told, but Seiichirou silently wondered if there were any objections from the crown prince about this.
Nevertheless, the exact date was now decided, which was good enough for him. Now the only things Seiichirou had to calculate were the total loss caused by the miasma and the anticipated cost of the upcoming mission.
“Ah, before I forget,” Helmuth said as he turned towards Seiichirou. “In order to honor the launch of the expedition, a royal banquet will be held three day’s time.”
Seiichirou cocked his head at that. “Pardon me…?”
They had not made any preparations yet, but it appeared that it was already decided the kingdom would hold a banquet for something as trivial as this. Maybe it was to show the royal family’s involvement as one of the main driving forces behind this expedition and obtain approval from top guests and other wealthy aristocrats to help support the purification process now and in the future, or so Seiichirou thought.
The mental abacus inside his head automatically began flicking beads1 to calculate the probable costs required for such an elaborate feast. However, his superior had not yet finished speaking, which interrupted his computing.
“Since you are also heavily involved in the expedition, Kondoh, you are also invited to the banquet. I will end up having to attend the banquet as well,” Helmuth finished.
It would appear that even Seiichirou was being dragged into the royal family’s shenanigans. Since he had no authority to defy them, there was no choice but to go along with the order.
That explained why Seiichirou was now having oil rubbed into his face. Everything happening in this moment was all thanks to his lively coworker that currently sat opposite of him.
“This is your big moment after all, Mr. Sei!! At the very least, we need to do something about those bags under your eyes!” Norbert urged. “My mother will help you,” he had chirped cheerily. “She’ll order the maids to take care of everything!”
It was so easy to forget the fact that this air-headed blonde man was the son of a noble. Despite the fact that his usual mannerisms were little like those a nobleman was expected to possess, Seiichirou could not deny that Norbert had a strangely good-natured personality. Perhaps it was that Norbert had been lucky enough to be raised by parents who were not only nobles in title, but who also possessed “noble hearts” too. It was exceptionally unprecedented.
As soon as Norbert found out about Seiichirou’s required appearance at the upcoming banquet, the young master had suddenly shown up in the dormitory with three women of various ages all dressed in similar uniforms.
Shortly after their arrival, they had ganged up on Seiichirou.2 Makeup was put on his face, and he was dressed in brand new clothing—an elegant-looking tunic that seemed to have cost a fortune. When they were finished, he was dragged inside a large grandiose hall.
Seiichirou was not left alone by himself, however. Standing beside him was his cheerful colleague with his hair neatly combed rather than in its usual messy style.
“So, you’ve been invited too, huh?” Seiichirou asked, giving Norbert the side-eye3.
Seiichirou had only been invited because he was one of the leading figures behind the expedition. He understood that Helmuth was too simply because he was Seiichirou’s superior, but what he could not understand was why a mere office worker such as Norbert had also been invited. Sure, he was the son of a viscount, but Seiichirou thought it would only be appropriate if both his parents went; they should not have to bring their son along too.
Sensing the confusion in Seiichirou’s tone, Norbert took a moment to explain. “Oh, that’s because I’m actually a part of the royal family! They often invite me to these kinds of special occasions.”
Seiichirou stared at Norbert in pure disbelief. For a second, he felt his brow furrow. As soon as the words “royal family” were spoken, he wondered if he had misheard Norbert.
“I’m not kidding! Because my birth mother was of very low status, they couldn’t keep me in the royal palace and chose to put me up for adoption instead. Even so, I still have the blood of a royal running through my veins. That’s why I get to work in the royal palace after all and why they also invite me to all the fancy meet and greets too!”
Much to Seiichirou’s bewilderment, Norbert casually explained his royal lineage as though none of the darker details of it actually bothered him. To think that Norbert was serving in a place that was supposed to be his home… Clearly, he did not see himself as someone unfortunate.
“I see…” Seiichirou nodded with a sudden awareness. “I understand, Prince—”
Norbert quickly cut Seiichirou off. “Hey, whoa, no! I don’t have those kinds of rights in the palace! You don’t have to treat me like royalty!”
“No, it’s just that there are lots of things I would like to say about the royal family, and since you are a part of them, you ought to listen to everything I’ve ever wanted to disclose to a royal family member,” Seiichirou said, narrowing his eyes with unvoiced malice.
“Huh!?” Norbert squawked. “Are you serious right now!?”
While it was true that Seiichirou was shocked to learn Norbert was a member of the royal family, it did not change the fact that Seiichirou was still Norbert’s superior. Hence, Seiichirou could continue to bully Norbert4 as much as he pleased, just as he always did.
Several minutes passed, and it would still be a while before the king’s speech. Seiichirou, who had now been left alone by himself, was watching the guests drink and chat with each other inside the hall. 5
Looking around casually, Seiichirou saw neither Aresh, Yua, nor the crown prince amidst the crowd; they could be anywhere outside his line of sight in a place as packed as this. On the other hand, it seemed that no one really wanted to talk to Seiichirou, either because his position was lower than that of the other guests or because of a certain reputation he had cultivated for himself within the palace.
Well, perhaps except for one man. As soon as he noticed Seiichirou’s presence in the hall, he called out to the royal official.
“Seiichirou? My, you look so different today. I barely recognized you.”
At his arrival, the crowd had opened a pathway for the man to gracefully make his way towards Seiichirou. It was the prime minister with rose blonde hair, whom Seiichirou was very familiar with.
Today Kamil was also dressed in a formal wear that was more befitting for ceremonies such as this. His clothing was adorned with intricate embroidery made from gold thread, brazenly showing off its luxurious quality to all those nearby. As usual, the prime minister had donned his signature blue cloak to signify his high rank, but this time it was decorated with various jewels and aiguillettes6. Like this, Kamil looked even grander in appearance than ever before.
“Greetings, Prime Minister Calvader,” Seiichirou said. He had been practicing a new manner of greeting that was more appropriate for this world. Instead of bowing his head like he used to, he knelt down on one knee and placed a hand across his stomach, lowly presenting himself before the kingdom’s powerful prime minister. In response, Kamil raised a hand, silently bidding Seiichirou stand.
“Thanks to you, we can hasten the expedition,” Kamil said with a smile. “You have my gratitude.”
Seiichirou grew flustered at the praise. “No, not all… I think it’s thanks to you and the others’ involvement that we could make this happen. I don’t think I’ve done very much at all.”
While it was true that the expedition had been hastened at Seiichirou’s request and the kingdom was forced to comply due to their oversight of his well-being, it was but a mere request, nothing more. Seiichirou knew that it still would have required the efforts of other higher-ups to advance the idea for it to be made possible.
And although Seiichirou felt that he had done nothing, it was actually the result of all his calculations made concerning the amount of damage caused by the advancing miasma. Already, the estimated cost of the damages were increasing after six days of deliberation from the higher ups and thus forced them to consider hastening the expedition.
“I meant what I said. It is thanks to you that we’ve made to this far.” Kamil reiterated with a nod. It was obvious that he was proud of Seiichirou, much to the latter’s embarrassment.
After taking a long, hard look at him, Kamil finally chose to address the elephant in the room. “Nevermind all that, your complexion looks very good this evening. Those clothes… they suit you. You look handsome, Seiichirou.”
There was a smile on Kamil’s face, one that openly showed his newfound admiration for Seiichirou’s latest appearance. The royal accountant sheepishly returned the smile. Being praised by the most powerful man in the kingdom, who was also good-looking in his own right, akin to foreign actors, was a little overwhelming.
“I’m not used to this sort of thing, so my coworker helped me dress up for tonight.” Briefly, Seiichirou looked down at the elegant tunic he was wearing.
“I even had makeup applied to my face…” Seiichirou continued. “Three women took care of me throughout the entire process. Apparently, they are much more adept when it comes to things of this nature.”
It was true that Norbert had brought some very talented maids with him. They had done their best to give Seiichirou the makeover he so desperately needed, applying any product they had on hand in order to make him look as attractive as possible.
However, what actually made Seiichirou stand out was not the makeup or the fancy clothes, but the lack of his chronic fatigue, which always made him look sickly and undesirable in the eyes of others.
But just makeup and clothing would have never been enough on their own for a case as severe as Seiichirou. First, something had to be done about the tired aura that he constantly exuded.
To solve that, the maids had given Seiichirou numerous massages to both his face and limbs. As a result, his complexion had improved and his whole body felt lighter, showcasing another talent of those extraordinary maids. They had even managed to get rid of the bags under Seiichirou’s eyes, which was his most notable feature, by applying concealer to the darkened areas beneath them. That final step in the makeover process resulted in Seiichirou’s current appearance.
But even without all that, Seiichirou was still a handsome man in his own right. He had refined facial features, most notably his nose. Even back during his university days, he had been popular.
Unfortunately for Seiichirou, after being exposed to the harsh reality of the world as a working adult, his dedication to his career had given him the appearance of a “tired old man”, which had hidden away his true beauty for a very long time.
Thanks to the work done by those three skilled maids who regularly served nobles, Seiichirou now looked like a man of his age rather than someone older. He even looked like a man of higher standing, displaying both wealth and wisdom with his clothes alone.
Ever since Seiichirou had entered the hall, he did not notice that some guests were observing him from afar, witnessing his new look. To those who knew him, this dramatic transformation was stunning. Even Prime Minister Kamil, who could not help staring at Seiichirou, was affected by it, whether he realised it or not.
Seiichirou too, had made his own comments regarding the makeover. He had enjoyed the massages most of all; they were pleasant and left him feeling good all over. However, the concealer applied to his face made the areas around his eyes feel itchy, which made him self-conscious and uncomfortable. For now, the best he could do was take extra care to avoid touching his face and staining the clothes Norbert had lent him.
But more importantly than all of that, and in spite of Seiichirou’s troubles fitting in with such a high-class crowd, he had decided to attend this banquet with a purpose.
Even if it was not something he would have chosen to participate in himself, there might still be something to gain by the end of it. As someone who valued efficiency, Seiichirou wanted to make sure that opportunity did not go to waste.
Facing Kamil, Seiichirou cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Prime Minister Calvader. I have a favour to ask of you…”
“Hmm?” Kamil, curiosity piqued, lent his attention to Seiichirou.
But as the royal official was about to ask, he suddenly found himself too nervous while facing Kamil, who was still staring intently at him. In the end, Seiichirou was interrupted by someone else nearby who could not read the air around the two of them.
“Hello there, Prime Minister Calvader! Long time no see!”
The one who barged into their conversation was a portly man with brown hair, a beard, and flashy clothes with a high collar that stood upright. He looked to be around forty or fifty years old. The most noticeable feature on this unknown man was the long, purple cloak he wore that signified his rank.
That purple… If I’m not mistaken, it represents the Court’s Magic Department.
Seiichirou also took note of the length of the man’s cloak. He could infer that this gentleman was the director of the court’s magic department then.
Seiichirou took a step back and bowed to the newest arrival in greeting.
“Good job on the summoning ceremony, Director Zoltan,” Kamil said to the man.
“No, no, it was nothing! Still, I cannot deny that it was certainly a large-scale event that would not have been possible without the Court’s Magic Department otherwise!”
Though he had started off humble, the man went to boast about his department’s achievements in a loud voice, much to Seiichirou’s bewilderment. Just as he had postulated from the man’s overall appearance, he was indeed someone who possessed a large ego.
“Recently, the Court’s Magic Department has received a request to participate in the expedition too!” Zoltan proudly declared. “Unlike those Third Order Knights who merely provide the muscle for such a campaign, we in the magic department have greater knowledge and philosophy on our side!”
Naturally, as the Third Order Knights were also adept magic users, it made sense that the Court’s Magic Department would be competitive with them.
Despite his supposed heavy involvement in the summoning, Seiichirou had a hard time remembering if this gentleman was even present during the ritual. Perhaps this man had only recently gotten his directorial position through some other shady connection, or so Seiichirou suspected.
Regardless, he doubted that Aresh would even pay an ounce of attention to this man or his boisterous claims.
“Allow me to introduce this official,” Kamil said to Zoltan. “His name is Seiichirou Kondoh, the vice director of the Royal Accounting Department. He is an excellent worker. It’s thanks to him that we can carry out the expedition sooner than expected.”
After Kamil’s brief introduction, Zoltan looked at Seiichirou as if he had only just noticed the royal official’s presence now. Nevertheless, Seiichirou bowed to Zoltan in greeting anyway.
“Oh, so you’re the Saint’s…”
Seiichirou knew exactly what Zoltan was going to say, but the stout gentleman was unable to finish his sentence since it was a well-known fact that this royal official was under the direct protection of the royal family. With Kamil present as well, he must have deemed it wise to swallow the rest of his words and leave them unsaid.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Sir. My name is Kondoh,” Seiichirou offered in an attempt to diffuse the tension. Although it was clear that Zoltan was another person who thought lowly of him, Seiichirou paid it no heed. He bowed his head to Zoltan, still treating the latter with the utmost respect.
Zoltan only snorted in response. Seiichirou noticed it, but still, he did not react.
Because this man had a huge ego, Seiichirou figured it would be easy to persuade him to do whatever Seiichirou wanted. All he would need were some well-placed comments and a little praise to make Zoltan weak. The fact that this man was also the director of the Court’s Magic Department would save Seiichirou a lot of trouble if he played his cards right.7
Suddenly, someone amidst the crowd caught Zoltan’s attention. He rushed towards them and returned to Kamil and Seiichirou with a new person by his side. It was someone that Seiichirou did not immediately recognize.
Zoltan huffed at the newcomer with little restraint, “I can’t believe you’re fooling around in a place like this! Go and greet the prime minister, you fool!”
“I’m so hungry after being stuck in the laboratory for ten days straight~ And there are so many good foods here, too~” The one who appeared to be Zoltan’s subordinate casually replied instead of doing as he had been told.
This man was also wearing a purple cloak, but it was similar to Seiichirou’s brown one in both length and adornment, as it only covered one shoulder. The colour of his hair was an unusual blend of orange and pink.
In his hand, he held a plate containing some of the dishes being served in the hall, and there were bits of food clinging to his face, giving him a childish appearance.
It was immediately apparent that this man was the vice director of the Court’s Magic Department, judging from the cloak he was wearing. Though he sported a pair of downturned eyes, they opened wide the moment he set sight on Seiichirou. Then, something peculiar happened. He began rapidly fluttering his eyelashes8 at the royal accountant in a… weirdly flirtatious way.
Seiichirou was both taken aback and confused by the man’s behavior, but despite that, Seiichirou still lowered his head in greeting.
Although the both of them were the vice directors of their respective departments, Seiichirou had imagined that his counterpart in the Court’s Magic Department would be more enchanting somehow, perhaps more showy or mystical when compared to the otherwise mundane Royal Accounting Department. Moreover, Seiichirou was still a newcomer himself, so he was aware that his position was one of the lower ranks among those in attendance at the banquet tonight. Still, he thought he ought to address the other man with some sort of respect.
“These men are Prime Minister Calvader and Vice Director Kondoh of the Royal Accounting Department. Greet them properly!” Zoltan commanded his subordinate in a booming voice.
As ordered, the other gentleman straightened his posture, but instead of facing Kamil like one would expect, he turned to speak to Seiichirou directly.
“You’re from the accounting department!?” He looked at Seiichirou with stars in his eyes. “Please give me some money!”
Seiichirou pulled back in reflex. Then, with a frown, he shook his head curtly. “I refuse.”
In response to Seiichirou’s cold answer, the other man froze in place. A look of utter despair appeared on his youthful face. “But why~!?”9
Hasr: Huge thanks to everyone for their support and messages on kofi! You folks are the best! Hopefully, we can get the funds to Whistle in the next few days and make her ACTUALLY TAKE CARE OF HERSELF smh.
It was only minutes before Seiichirou came to that suggestion. Three days had passed since Seiichirou was treated, and he was finally able to get rid of those who would otherwise keep disrupting his work. Granted, all of that had come to pass only after enduring endless lectures about his unhealthy work habits from Aresh.
After work hours, Seiichirou had dinner with Aresh in the same restaurant they frequented as usual. When they were finished eating, Seiichirou found himself in a room at a nearby inn. He was not alone, of course. Aresh was right there with him.
During their dinner, Aresh had apologized to Seiichirou again regarding the crime his subordinates had committed against the royal official.
“I’m sorry. To think, I failed to protect you from my own knights.”
As Aresh had been the one to take full responsibility over Seiichirou’s well-being, the knight commander was greatly upset that the royal accountant ended up getting hurt as soon as he took his eyes off him and by none other than his own men. While expressing disappointment towards himself, Aresh bowed his head deeply to Seiichirou in apology.
Seiichirou was caught off-guard by this act of humility. “N-No, Captain Indrak, that’s all in the past! I don’t think it was even something within your control, plus I’m indebted to you for always taking care of me! Please, raise your head…”
There were no other guests in the restaurant then, but still, it did not mean that no one was present to witness Aresh, the commander of the Third Knight Order, bow before Seiichirou, someone who was much lower in rank. Only furthering Seiichirou’s embarrassment, Aresh’s former family chef and his wife could not stop gawking at the display.
“No…” Aresh shook his head. “It’s because I wasn’t a good leader to them. I managed them poorly. It’s my own fault.”
If he were honest, Seiichirou himself had not thought Aresh a very good leader after their first meeting, but he still would not have blamed the captain even if he should. It would have been neither right nor fair since Seiichirou knew Aresh had never been the one responsible for managing his own knights in the first place!
“It’s okay, Captain Indrak. I hadn’t expected you to do that anyway.”
Seiichirou’s only intention was to reassure Aresh, but it seemed that his crass words had the opposite effect and damaged the knight commander’s pride instead. Guilt was apparent on Aresh’s face. It was because of his lack of involvement that his knights had behaved as such. Having it stated aloud appeared to trouble him even more.
“Regardless of that, the bright side of all is that every single one of the knights will now comply with the accounting department’s guidelines regarding finances!” Seiichirou said in an attempt to brighten the situation a little. It did not work.
Aresh’s head was still hung in guilt. Seiichirou sighed. “Well then, Captain Indrak, if you really want to punish yourself that much over this, then you’ll need to accept something from me in return.”
“You want to give me something?”
Aresh finally raised his head, but there was a suspicious look on his face. This time, it was Seiichirou’s turn to furrow his brows in frustration. It seemed that Aresh was still unable to take Seiichirou’s efforts to repay him for saving the official’s life seriously.
“I want to compensate you for all of my treatments, including the one from the overdose I previously suffered. You had to use all kinds of magic in the most recent treatment too; I’m sure of it.”
Upon mentioning the care Aresh had given to him, Seiichirou felt uneasy. “I know that you’ve rejected my offers in the past, but please allow me to compensate you for all of the magic you used. You need to replenish your energy afterwards, right? At least, let me cover the cost of the trouble I’ve caused you. I really ought to this time.”
When Seiichirou had suggested this before, it was not said at the most opportune time, as Aresh’s treatment back then was merely about acclimatizing Seiichirou to the magic intoxication with which he had been afflicted. Hence, it was understandable that Aresh was less than pleased with the idea; it was as if Seiichirou was asking to pay for the sexual intercourse they had engaged in like an exchange that might happen with a common prostitute off the street. In other words, he had made Aresh feel as though he too was being treated like one. This time however, Seiichirou would finally be able to pay Aresh back by putting emphasis on the magic used to heal his life-threatening injuries.
But like before, Aresh still refused, though it was for a different reason this time. “No, it was my men who are the ones responsible for that…”
“But you still saved my life, Captain. That’s twice already.” Seiichirou countered the rejection and added, “Besides, you once suggested casting a barrier on me to protect me. I don’t know much about these sorts of transactions involving magic, but if you won’t accept my payment now, then all my efforts in getting money from your knights will have been for nothing.”
“Money from my knights…” Aresh croaked in surprise. “So that was the actual purpose then…”
Clearly, Aresh did not expect the monetary compensation that Seiichirou had demanded of the guilty knights. Did they even know they were paying for Seiichirou’s treatment all along? Though Aresh understood why Seiichirou wanted to pay for it this time; the cost for healing magic was incredibly expensive, especially for as severe a case as Seiichirou’s had been. Despite that, Aresh was still willing to treat Seiichirou for free, regardless of how much magic he was forced to use in the process.
In the end, the knight commander agreed to accept Seiichirou’s offer, but only to give the royal official a small sense of satisfaction. As long as Seiichirou still had enough money for himself, there was nothing else Aresh had to worry about.
With that now settled between them, Seiichirou and Aresh had made their way to an inn.
It was not a fancy one, but its room was well equipped and held a huge bathtub. Service provided by the staff was satisfactory as well, and it appeared the place was safe enough for two high-ranked officials to engage in an after-hours affair without any interruption. 1
“I’ve told you about the barrier before, but there are more things you should know before we begin. It will not only protect you from magic and mana, but also from a certain level of physical contact as well. In other words, it can protect you from physical harm,” Aresh explained, detailing the treatment he was about to give to Seiichirou.
The royal official listened attentively, and then he nodded. “That’s really convenient.”
For a magic spell to be so beneficial for the receiver, it was obviously a powerful one, hence only a few people ever had need of it. Surely, with Aresh’s exceptional talents, the knight commander would have no problem casting it; the real issue lied in Seiichirou’s ability to withstand it.
A larger amount of magical energy would need to be used to cast such a potent spell, and both men were aware of the issue of whether or not Seiichirou’s body could tolerate it. Thankfully, there was a solution to this problem, which Aresh took time to explain to Seiichirou.
“It’s possible for me to partially cast the barrier over a long period of time. I can cast one enchantment after another and layer them gradually. That should be safer than casting a full barrier on you all at once.”
To Seiichirou, it did sound like a wise solution to their problem. However, regardless of the reduction in magic used at any given time, he still needed to be acclimated after each spell. If Aresh had to repeatedly cast this barrier on him in layers for it to work, that meant constant acclimatization would be required too. 2
Seiichirou was unsure whether or not this approach would add more of a burden on Aresh, so in order to make things easier for the commander, Seiichirou thought up a plan of his own.
Resolutely, he looked Aresh straight in the eye. There was a very serious expression on his face.
“Captain Indrak, what if I try using my mouth?”
Now they were right back where they started.
Aresh was paralyzed in shock. Without wasting any time, Seiichirou proceeded to lay out the logic for his suggestion. There were a couple of concerns that had been bugging him even before this.
“You have given me two large-scale treatments to heal and acclimatize me, and I’ve barely been conscious for either of them. Personally, I don’t think this should be such a one-sided task.”
Seiichirou had been out of it due to the overwhelming magic intoxication both times and had essentially been unable to cooperate with Aresh while the knight was treating him.
To put it bluntly, Seiichirou felt he had been nothing more than a dead fish in bed during each of their previous encounters.
“I’ve been worried that my treatment sessions were unintentionally hard on you. I can’t possibly imagine you doing all the hard work for me when I am perfectly capable this time, Captain Indrak.”
Surely, when it came to penetration, it would be difficult to insert anything if the other party involved was unresponsive. Since foreplay before the act was next to impossible for them back then, the fully conscious partner would have had to prepare both themselves and their intended single-handedly. It would also have been hard to loosen an unconscious partner up, let alone move inside them with ease. On the contrary, Seiichirou’s personal theory was that acclimatization did not necessarily need to involve penetration, that he might still be acclimatized just as well as long as intimate physical contact was involved.
In addition to that, the magic used to cast this protective barrier was going to a much smaller amount than usual, so Seiichirou should experience less severe effects from the resulting magic intoxication. Perhaps, too, less direct contact would need to be done to stabilize him afterwards, at least as far as physical intimacy was concerned.
In fact, he was sure of it; the commander had healed headaches and stomach pain for Seiichirou before this. All it had taken was a mere stroke of his hand or a kiss on the lips. Still, Seiichirou doubted that such a minute level of intimacy would be enough to combat the aftereffects of a more powerful protective barrier.
The more he thought about the knight commander having to put forth extra effort after having already expended the necessary energy to cast such a spell, the more Seiichirou felt resolved to follow through on this suggestion. It was not fair that Aresh, the one to administer such a treatment, still had to do more to complete the process even though it was Seiichirou who was the one receiving it.
Thinking about it this way, Seiichirou felt he should be the one to care for Aresh this time.
As an old man with a desk job, Seiichirou preferred sitting still for this; sucking, swallowing, and putting up with the unpleasant taste of ejaculate was a small price to pay compared to being penetrated.
After agreeing to go along with the suggestion, Aresh sat on the edge of the bed with his pants lowered. Seiichirou reached forward without hesitation and took the commander’s length in his mouth. It was not long before he built up a steady rhythm, bobbing up and down slowly, timing each of his movements with the knight’s breaths. Gradually, Aresh began to respond to the stimulation, hardening within Seiichirou’s mouth.
While Seiichirou worked, Aresh began to cast the barrier spell on him. The magic necessary for this was a combination of three natural attributes: light, wind, and wood.3 Similar to healing magic, there were only a few individuals in the kingdom who were capable enough to use it.
Like all the times Seiichirou had witnessed Aresh cast magic before, he was chanting undecipherable words under his breath. Like a melody, the spell sounded pleasant to Seiichirou’s ears. Shortly after, the official found himself engulfed by a soft breeze. Light numbness and a spike of warmth throughout his body followed after. This time, he was fully conscious of everything. Seiichirou could still move his body as he pleased, in particular his head, which he was currently using to service Aresh. It appeared that casting this magical barrier was going smoothly for both of them.
“How are you feeling…?” Aresh struggled to ask with the little restraint he had left.
“I’m fine,” Seiichirou said once his mouth was free, pulling away slowly. “Can… Can you please close your eyes?”
With a submissive look, Aresh obediently shut his eyes at Seiichirou’s request. With the beautiful amethyst color no longer in sight, Seiichirou could instead see all the long, dark lashes resting against the high cheekbones of Aresh’s handsome face.
He looked a little younger, more vulnerable, when his eyes were closed like this, Seiichirou thought. Having seemingly earned the other’s trust, Seiichirou pulled himself from the floor and pressed his lips to Aresh’s own, gently kissing the now docile knight commander.
As Seiichirou kissed the captain, one of his hands reached up under the fabric of the knight’s shirt. The muscles he found there were well-defined, as if chiseled from stone. Seiichirou traced his fingertips over them lightly, admiring the shape beneath his fingers before carefully withdrawing his hand and lowering it in between Aresh’s legs.
With more confidence than before, Seiichirou took Aresh’s length in hand and stroked it. He made sure to start with a gentle touch first so as not to shock the knight who still had his eyes closed. Much to Seiichirou’s surprise, he found himself to be all right with touching another man like this even though he was only fully conscious of his actions for the first time. Aresh was not resisting Seiichirou’s touch either, as he gasped out loud and leaned into the contact.
Seiichirou had quickly found that it was tiring only using his mouth to service the knight. Always one for efficiency, he switched to stroking Aresh with his hand instead. As they kissed, Seiichirou decided to slide his tongue into Aresh’s mouth, deepening their connection. In his mind, Seiichirou figured the acclimatization process would be more effective if he touched Aresh with his bare hands and kissed him, their mouths and flesh joined at the same time possibly heightening the potency of this transaction.
For Seiichirou, this would be his first real experience with another man. And though he was feeling a little shy going through the perfunctory motions of foreplay it required, he told himself there was justification for it; this was just another treatment session for him, albeit one he was aware of and actively participating in this time. If Seiichirou wanted to resume doing his work as usual, he had no choice but to accept this act as a necessary part of all that. This is purely for the sake of my work, he repeated like a mantra. 4
After all, Seiichirou had spoken to Aresh about his wishes beforehand and gotten the knight’s consent. They would not be doing something like this otherwise. Seeing how Aresh was growing more familiar with his touch, Seiichirou upped the pace of his hand’s movements all while he ensured their lips remained sealed together.
Seiichirou had initially asked Aresh to close his eyes because he assumed the knight was uncomfortable engaging in such acts with another man. The logical reasoning had been to ease the captain’s discomfort so that he could imagine himself doing this with a woman instead. It was hard, however, for Seiichirou to keep his own personal need for work validation out of this encounter. 5
“…mmh, aah… Captain Indrak…” Seiichirou moaned in between kisses. “Does that feel good…?”
“Don’t… even ask…!” Aresh stuttered out his own groans.
Judging from the sound of Aresh’s voice, Seiichirou felt confident that he was doing well enough. He was a man and had his own past experiences too, after all. It was not so hard to imagine what might be pleasurable for another.
“Kon… doh…” Aresh gasped while returning Seiichirou’s kisses. “Your given name… is Seiichirou, right…?”
He was surprised to hear his own name spoken aloud by Aresh for the first time. After attempting and failing to correct his colleagues’ pronunciation of it time and time again, he had thought his true name was too difficult for the people of this world to say.
Seiichirou pulled away, so he could better answer. “Hmm? Yes, it is.”
Now no longer kissing him, Seiichirou found himself transfixed by the hazy violet of Aresh’s eyes. The look Seiichirou saw there trapped him in some sort of unspoken trance. Aresh’s eyes were stunning as is, but when the knight commander gazed at him with such blatant and deliberate lust, Seiichirou could not help but shudder in response. There was no way either of them could have looked away.
Still vying for even more of Seiichirou’s attention, Aresh asked quietly, “Do you know my name?”
Prior to this moment, Seiichirou had only ever referred to Aresh by his family name and title. He understood what the commander meant in spite of that.
Slowly, Seiichirou opened his mouth. In a soft and delicate voice, he sighed out, “Aresh…”6
Upon hearing his name uttered from Seiichirou’s mouth, Aresh smirked, looking pleased with the response, like it was the very thing he had been waiting for all this time. Perhaps he was just satisfied that Seiichirou had managed to pronounce his name correctly, or so the official thought.
Aresh said nothing in reply, only narrowed his eyes and leaned in to capture Seiichirou’s lips in a kiss once more. Now it was Seiichirou’s turn to close his eyes and melt into the sensation. As their mouths met to share in the heat of this moment, Seiichirou felt a large pair of strong arms wind their way around him, pulling him closer and closer until he could not help but surrender to Aresh’s embrace.
Hasr: Whistle the TL is stuck in corporate slave purgatory! She’s stuck in office with no place to go home, and she’s having cookies for dinner. COOKIES Y’ALL, COOKIES!
Rent is too expensive where she’s from so she’s spending the night at work. I don’t wanna doxx her, but I think she could do with some help from the Corporate Slave fam.
IDK how to help her and I was planning to keep it secret, but well she’s gonna read it and know, so maybe go donate to my kofi with a message so I can pass it to her, or if you can’t help monetarily, just go and cheer her up on discord and chat up about the fresh new YOI doujin that just got delivered to her.