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    [Goat’s POV]

    From an early age, I have always gotten what I wanted. You might think me greedy, but it’s rare for me to actually want something. Though I have my likes and dislikes in food, I’ll eat whatever is in front of me, and I’ve never been particular about my clothes. I don’t indulge in jewelry or have a habit of collecting antiques. I have no preference for the looks of men or women and have always partaken in what was offered without exception.

    My parents would sometimes say in exasperation, “You should be more selective,” but they seemed to realize it was different when they saw me go out of my way to pick a flower blooming on a cliff (which I still keep pressed in a book) or when I snatched a beautiful book covered in blue velvet from my cousin, which I would typically leave for my brother. After I practically seized my wife from the people of Kuchiba, they never told me to be choosy again.

    It wasn’t that I wasn’t selective. My scope of interest was so narrow that I didn’t care about other inconsequential things. And because I found so few things desirable, once I wanted something, I wouldn’t give up on it no matter what. Seeing my obsessive attachment to stuff I liked, my parents feared I might end up doing something drastic with such intense passion. In fact, their fears were realized.

    But my beloved wife, the son that was supposed to be born, and even my parents—all were burned to ashes equally because of my foolish brother’s betrayal. From that moment, my purpose in life became revenge. No matter who I embraced or what I saw, I couldn’t feel love or the desire to cherish anything. My only reason to live was supposed to be to kill my brother.

    Yet, after meeting the Goddess of overwhelming strength, strange emotions stirred in a heart that had known only revenge. It was a complex impulse that I couldn’t put into words—exhilarating and comforting, wanting to tear his flesh in one bite and wishing to hold him in my arms and cherish him forever. Each time this impulse surged, I was overcome with self-loathing.

    I should be focused on killing my brother, yet why do I yearn for the Goddess, the king’s consort, the one meant to bear his child? No matter how much I hope or pray, he is out of reach, someone I shouldn’t lay my hands on. If I can’t have him, I’d instead disappear—though I betrayed him with that thought, he casually declared he had never doubted me once, and at that moment, I was utterly defeated. “I can never win against this person,” I surrendered completely.

    I can’t give up. I don’t want to give up. I’d rather die than give up.

    I became so infatuated with him that I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to him.

    Once that happened, there was only one path left for me to take.

    I must have what I want, no matter how many decades or centuries it takes.

    * * *

    Three years after returning from the frontier army to the capital, I was summoned by the husbands. Expecting to be executed for my affair of coveting their wife, I was surprised by the first words spoken in the meeting room.

    “I suppose there’s no need to ask, but you haven’t given up on Yuichiro, have you?”

    Noah, now wholly grown up and recognized as a distinguished Sage King both domestically and internationally, asked from across the bench seat. Once a timid crybaby, he now bore the countenance of a resolute man, with not a trace of youthful naivety left in his face. The thought that I had a hand in raising him to be such a man filled me with a sense of pride beyond surprise.

    I responded to Noah’s probing gaze with a weary smile.

    “Ha, whatever do you mean?”

    “Don’t play dumb. I’ve long since realized that you’re a deliberate offender.”

    Temeraire, sitting next to Noah, snapped sharply. No matter how old he gets, his androgynous beauty remains unchanged.

    He has never said it, but he probably prefers Temeraire’s face the most. That’s why he has always been unusually deferential to Temeraire. He may not realize it himself, but he has quite the eye for looks.

    While staring at Temeraire’s face, I casually tilted my head.

    “A deliberate offender?”

    “It’s about how over ten years ago, you pretended to be drunk and r@ped my wife, resulting in his pregnancy, and left him filled with guilt,” Temeraire said with a biting tone, the rage still palpable even after more than a decade. I never expected forgiveness. The two men in front of me loved and were as obsessed with him as I was and had won the husband’s position.

    However, the fact that Temeraire accused me of pretending to be drunk shows he understands me quite well. Indeed, there’s no excuse for that truth.

    I was well aware that it was a vile act, but it was also the biggest gamble of my life. Of course, I had no intention of losing, but there was a high chance that my neck would have said goodbye to my body. It was his deep affection that prevented such an outcome.

    For the eight years I’ve been in the remote lands, I’ve repeatedly recalled the sensation of his lips when I asked for a kiss. I continued to achieve martial feats in the frontier army, desperate to touch those lips again.

    The jealousy for the man before me, who could kiss his lips without hesitation, burned my heart. To be frank, it’s not that I don’t have hatred. Why can’t I, despite my feelings, become his spouse, nor claim to be the father of my child? I love him no less than these men. Why should I give up because I’m just a subordinate, not a king, not someone to be devoted to? Just because our positions differ, what is different between you and me?

    As dark emotions welled up, a smirk spread across my lips. Seeing this, Noah frowned unpleasantly. With a mocking voice, I asked while still looking at his expression.

    “What will you do if I say I haven’t given up? Will you take off my head?”

    Strangely, I haven’t been executed yet. For Noah and Temeraire, I must be the most wanted man to kill. I would think the same if our positions were reversed.

    My provocative words were met with a chilling gaze from Temeraire.

    “Do you want your head to be cut off that badly?”

    “No, of course not. I was just wondering why you two haven’t killed me yet.”

    Noah glared at me openly, his voice full of irritation.

    “Don’t get cocky, Goat. Even at this very moment, you live by our grace. Remember that your life is always in our hands.” Noah lifted his hand slightly. It was different from when he was a child; it was more prominent now. The thought of that hand touching him, the jealousy flared up even more. That hand would touch that man’s cheek, close his shoulder, and seize his waist.

    I pulled my chin in slightly and looked at Noah with an exaggeratedly upward gaze.

    “Of course, I appreciate it. You’ve kept me, the persistent, stubborn convict alive.”

    “It’s not for your sake. It’s for Yuichiro’s sake,” Noah declared in a clear voice. He then lightly shook his head from side to side and sighed.

    “Besides, it’s for Nanashi’s sake.”

    Upon hearing the name from Noah’s lips, my shoulders tensed slightly.

    Nanashi, my son, whom I cannot claim as a father. The precious child born from the person I love is more important than life itself.

    When I heard that name, I felt the hatred that had been swirling deep within me until a moment ago dissipated with a soft sound. Regarding matters concerning the child, I couldn’t help but hold the men in front of me in the highest regard. They had raised the child of an affair with the same affection as their own child without distinguishing between the illegitimate and the legitimate. Their generosity was so profound that I could only bow my head in gratitude.

    “…I’m grateful for Nanashi, from the bottom of my heart.”

    As I spoke those words, the expressions of Noah and Temeraire softened slightly. Temeraire spoke up.

    “Nanashi is a very clever child.”

    “It seems he didn’t take after his father,” I said, and Temeraire’s gaze sharpened again.

    “That child is ours.”

    As if warning not to misunderstand, Temeraire declared firmly. I met Temeraire’s unyielding gaze and responded.

    “He’s my child as well.”

    “Are you planning to play the role of a father to your child after forcibly violating that person? Please don’t forget the despicable act you committed as a r@pist,” Temeraire’s words were indeed valid. I clenched my back teeth and spoke with a growl.

    “I appreciate it. I understand that bringing me back to the capital and allowing me to become that child’s swordsmanship instructor is an unparalleled kindness. But can I never embrace that child as a father in my life?”

    To my words, Temeraire replied with an expressionless and indifferent voice.

    “That is your punishment.”

    His cold words made my clenched back teeth feel like they were about to shatter. But I knew it was my own doing. I should have been prepared for this from the beginning. Yet, now that I had a son who shared my blood in front of me, I trembled with frustration that I couldn’t even embrace him.

    Noah, who had been silently observing our exchange, spoke quietly.

    “But perhaps Nanashi has already realized that he has a different father and siblings.”

    Noah’s words left me wide-eyed. Temeraire pressed her forehead as if he remembered a headache and said in a very distressed voice,

    “As he grew up, he started to resemble you in appearance. It would be strange if he didn’t notice.”

    Your blood is too strong, Temeraire said with irritation. I almost laughed at his words, which were out of place. To suppress my laughter, I covered my mouth with my palm, and Temeraire glared at me from the corner of his eye.

    Noah spoke again.

    “And it’s not just Nanashi. Ichiya and Futaba have clearly noticed, and the other children… probably everyone except Mitsuki.”

    At the mention of “everyone except Mitsuki,” I unintentionally murmured, “Ah…”

    Mitsuki, who claimed to be my top disciple, was a boy—or now, perhaps a young man—like a model of recklessness, a one-track mind, and a battle maniac. He had followed me with a beaming smile even while vomiting during my training.

    Frankly speaking, Mitsuki needed a head for thinking deeply about things. Also, ever since he brought back the head of the bandit leader along with his twin brother Shion, his latent abilities are even higher than mine or the Goddess’s. Watching him continue to achieve military exploits without fearing death reminds me of the Goddess from back then, as if he’s his spitting image. But to speak ill of it, Mitsuki thinks of nothing but fighting.

    “Mitsuki probably won’t notice for the rest of his life.”

    When I said that, both Noah and Temeraire pressed their foreheads simultaneously. They looked like parents worried about their child, who would always rampage on the battlefield and seemed to be at a loss.

    “Anyway, let’s forget about Mitsuki for now. What I ultimately want to say is that we don’t wish for Nanashi to continue suffering or feeling indebted about his origin.”

    Saying that, Noah looked straight at me. His gaze was solemn as if trying to ascertain my true intentions.

    “Have you given up on Yuichiro?”

    It seemed less like a question and more like a confirmation. His tone was demanding truth, not allowing any deceit.

    As I met Noah’s unyielding gaze, I parted my lips.

    “If I could give up, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

    I absolutely can’t give up; that’s why I’m here.

    At my response, Noah and Temeraire exchanged glances momentarily and simultaneously sighed heavily.

    “Well, that figures.”

    “There was no need to ask, was there?”

    They said terribly resignedly and leaned back deeply into their chairs. Looking up at the ceiling, Noah said, “You really don’t know when to give up.”

    “That’s my charm point.”

    I joked in response, and Noah’s face momentarily tightened. But then his expression softened. With a look that seemed to consider me an accomplice, Noah gazed at me.

    “A lover.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “You will not be named a husband. Be content with being a lover.”

    For a moment, I couldn’t comprehend what was being said. Seeing my eyes widen, Noah casually waved one hand as if to say this was the end of the conversation. As Noah stood up from his chair, I hastily spoke up.

    “Wait, what do you mean by that?”

    “Exactly what it means. But let me repeat, this is not for you. It’s for Yuichiro-sama and Nanashi.”

    Temeraire said coldly as if driving in a nail. His words only deepened my confusion. If taken literally, it was all too convenient for me.

    “Are you promoting me, a paramour to a lover?”

    As I asked, Temeraire returned in a matter-of-fact tone.

    “It is with great reluctance, but it can’t be helped.”

    “Can’t be helped?”

    I repeated, puzzled, and Temeraire’s eyes sharply narrowed. Glaring at me, he spat out his words.

    “We are well aware, you know. That Yuichiro-sama has some fondness for you.”

    His tone was filled with bitterness. Following Temeraire’s words, Noah quietly narrowed his eyes.

    “Don’t misunderstand. This isn’t me forgiving you. However, considering that you have had feelings for Yuichiro for over twenty years, I will acknowledge just that sentiment. But don’t ever take such foolish actions again.”

    Having said only that much, Noah left the room, and as I watched him go in astonishment, Temeraire, with arms crossed and a frown on his face, opened his lips.

    “The fact that you are the father will only be revealed after Nanashi comes of age. Until then, do not engage in affectionate displays with Yuichiro in front of the other children. If I see such a scene, I will strip you of your status as a lover and expel you from this country.”

    Then Temeraire continued in a stern tone.

    “Do not have children, absolutely not! If a child is conceived, I will not forgive you, no matter what happens!”

    With that, Temeraire’s palm slammed down on the desk. I was left dumbfounded, letting out an ambiguous “huh.”

    * * *

    After that, a long sermon under the guise of advice from Temeraire unfolded. It was completely dark when I was finally released, and night had fallen. Still feeling dazed, as if Temeraire’s voice was echoing in my ears, I returned to my private residence. I was left wondering if this was reality or just a convenient dream I was having. Unable to digest the earlier conversations with Noah and Temeraire, I fell into a restless sleep. Despite the gravity of my worries, the sleep that came was surprisingly peaceful.

    However, the peaceful sleep was shattered in an instant the following day.

    “Hey, hey, wake up.”

    “It’s past noon,” I was shaken awake. Opening my bleary eyes, I saw the face of my beloved in front of me. Sitting on the edge of the bed, peering down at me, I almost let out a weird yelp.

    “Huh!? Yes!?”

    In a moment of absurdity, I reflexively sat up. The moment I did, he, covered from head to toe in a pure white robe, reeled back in surprise. I stared at him as he blinked.

    “Captain Ogami.”

    Still in a daze, I called out his name, and he frowned ambiguously. He looked at me with a complex expression that was hard to read.

    “The door was unlocked. The vice-captain is quite careless, isn’t he?”

    “I’m just a humble instructor now.”

    I replied instinctively, and he slightly raised the corners of his mouth. Still, a slight bitterness lingered around his eyes.

    I now lived alone in a house on the outskirts of town, not in the vast mansion where my family used to live. It was such an ordinary and small house that one would not think a noble lived there. Disliking the hassle of living with others, I employed no servants.

    Except when going out, I never bothered to lock the door. Part of me was always hoping for this. That one day, he would come to my house like this.

    But now that he had, I felt embarrassed about exposing my unflattering, just-woken-up appearance. The thought made shame bubble up inside me.

    “Why, why are you here?”

    I asked with a nearly cracking voice, and he frowned again. After mumbling with his lips moving up and down, he said resignedly.

    “Go wash your face first, then get dressed.”

    At his command, I jumped out of bed like a child who had overslept. I rushed to the washbasin and heard a faint laugh from behind.

    After washing my face and roughly fixing my hair, which had exploded due to bedhead, I changed clothes and went to the living room. He was seated at the table by the window. To my surprise, a simple breakfast had been prepared on the table.

    As I stood there dumbfounded, he, who had been gazing out the window, suddenly turned his gaze towards me.

    “Sorry, I went ahead and prepared something without asking.”

    “No, I’m grateful, but…”

    “Sit down for now, and eat your breakfast.”

    He indicated the chair across from him. I sat down, still dazed, and picked up the passo that had been served on the plate. As I ate the Passo with jam quietly, he, who had been drinking white water, winced.

    “Did you hear from Noah and Temeraire?”

    His sudden start nearly caused me to choke on the passo I was biting. I looked at him after a slight cough. He returned my stare with an unreadable expression.

    “I heard, but is that true? It’s not some elaborate prank on me?”

    “There’s no point in pranking you.”

    He exasperatedly stated, leaning his elbow on the table and supporting his chin with his palm.

    “What do you think?”

    My throat moved slightly in response to the question.

    “If I can be by your side and be touched by you, any pretext is fine with me.”

    It wouldn’t matter if I could be touched by him without reservation, whether as a lover or a paramour. He had an indescribable expression on his face as I responded. I placed my palm on the back of his hand on the table, anxious at seeing him biting his lip. His fingertips twitched all at once.

    “Do you dislike it?”

    His eyes trembled with mixed emotions. With the ends of his brows lowered, he appeared troubled for an answer.

    “It’s not that I dislike it.”

    “Then, what do you think?”


    His voice ended ambiguously. He continued in a confused tone as we stared at each other without looking away.

    “We’ve done nothing but foolish things together up till now… and yet, to suddenly be lovers…”

    He murmured in a soft, difficult-to-hear voice. His tone was shallow for him.

    “I’m asking what you think of me, not that.”

    I could see his ears turning red as I gently squeezed the back of his hand. He clenched his back teeth, clearly frustrated.

    “Can I suddenly see the guy who was my subordinate until yesterday in that way?”

    “Do you only see me as a subordinate?”

    “That’s not what I…”

    He abruptly leaned forward, cutting off his words. I kissed his lips as I looked into his surprised eyes. Lips I hadn’t felt in eleven years were slightly dry but soft.

    I backed away after a clumsy kiss that was barely there. Looking at him closely, he appeared to be on the verge of tears.


    I cried his name from the bottom of my heart. He scrunched up his face as if in pain. He squinted as if groaning, one hand covering his flushed face.

    “Are you… really okay with me?”

    When he asked, I tilted my head slightly. He continued in a guilt-ridden tone.

    “I have Noah, Temeraire, and the children. No matter what, I cannot put you first. It would be better for you to find someone who thinks only of you than to become the lover of a man who is unfaithful and cowardly. That would surely make you happier—”

    “Ah, please spare me.”

    I interrupted him reflexively, unable to let such words pass unchallenged. I retorted with a biting tone, looking down at his face.

    “Don’t decide my happiness for me. My happiness was determined over twenty years ago, inside a prison. I decided then that I would follow you until death, living only with thoughts of you.”

    I remembered the hand extended numerous times in that dimly lit jail. The voice that pleaded with me to leave that dark place. I was genuinely saved at that moment by the Goddess of a 37-year-old man.

    “So, Captain Ogami, command me. Order me to devote everything I have to you.”

    When I called him Captain Ogami, his face twisted with sadness again. He realized I was asking him to do something terrible. He will almost certainly spend the rest of his life wondering if he made the right decision.

    He let his shoulders slump after clenching his back teeth tightly. He looked at me with a sigh and a dazzling intensity.

    “You are so… unfair.”

    I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard those words. I chuckled and whispered softly in Yuichiro’s ear.

    “Yes, that’s right. I am a persistent and unfair person.”

    He looked at me with resentment as I declared this defiantly. But his expression abruptly changed. He raised his voice all at once, recalling the harshness of the battlefield.

    “Rastilforg Goat.”


    “Devote your entire life to me.”

    His command, delivered with icy coolness, sent chills up my spine. I knelt on one knee and took both of his hands in mine. I kissed his fingertips and whispered softly to him.

    “I dedicate everything to you.”

    When I looked up, I noticed a faint smile on his face. A smile that is both compassionate and cruel. My lips moved silently at that moment.

    Ah, my Goddess…


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