E/N: The proper name of the “Spirit Kingdom” is “Alik” (they are used interchangeably).


Little Aster couldn’t understand why he needed to wear girly clothing, and pretend to be a girl.
He couldn’t understand why he always had to wear a hood to hide the pink hair that he couldn’t even dye, or why he couldn’t bear his real name, Aster.

Most of all, he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t able to go out into the world freely.

“When can I go out?”

“When the Emperor finds you.”

“He will never find me!”

“The Emperor loved your mother.
In no instance will he feign ignorance to the fact that he has a son”.
Ritaus reassured, but Aster knew the truth, more or less.
His father had forgotten about him.
There may have been times when it crossed the Emperor’s mind, but he probably took little interest in it.

“Did the Empress kill my mother?”

“Your mother … she passed away due to her illness.” Ritaus’s hesitant response suggested that he was lying. 

‘Liar! Liar!’

The spirits were noisy today.
The face of a spirit who could not lie was completely different when they tried to say something other than the truth.
An elusive look, a whisper, and a voice were devoid of any strength when they tried to tell a lie.
This was what the spirits knew without seeing.

“Then why aren’t I allowed to show my hair?” Aster’s pink hair was inherited from his mother, Lydiana.
Lydiana inherited her pink hair from the long-dead Duchess Callie Lithi.
Duchess Lithi, the last princess of the Spiritual Kingdom, Alik, was Aster’s grandmother.

“Your hair is proof that you are a descendant of the last Spirit King.”

“But Alik was destroyed.”

“Yes, it was destroyed.
And Callie was the only surviving daughter of the Spirit King.”

“Shouldn’t she be the last descendant of the Spirit King then?”

“No …” Ritaus began to say, but quickly paused as he did not dare to tell the truth, but he also did not dare to tell a lie.

“How long will I have to wear a woman’s dress?” Aster asked curiously.
Aster would one day grow as tall and strong as Ritaus, his shoulders reaching as broad as his, and his voice reaching as deep.
Would he be able to continue pretending to be a girl by then?

“When you have a successful coming-of-age ceremony …”

“When I turn 16, I will become an adult.
Will I be able to wear men’s clothing when I turn 16, then? Will I be able to go out into the world?”

“Maybe … you can.”

‘If I survive by then.’ Ritaus thought.


Duke Lithi, Aster’s maternal grandfather, was resentful after losing his wife, Duchess Lithi, and even more so after his daughter, Lydiana, died at such an early age.
Every day, he felt immense pain in his heart, as if it was being eaten away.
He didn’t want to continue to experience this very pain.

To Duke Lithi, even seeing the face of his only grandson, Aster, was painful.
As a result, he went to seek the aid of his grandson’s father, the Emperor of the Elbach Empire.

‘This is your blood that was shed, you must take responsibility,’ was what he was going to tell the Emperor. But it wasn’t the Emperor he encountered at first.
Of all people, the first person Duke Lithi encountered was the Empress.
The Empress who considered his daughter a thorn in her side.

Duke Lithi knew that his daughter had been in a bad position.
Right, he himself was also in a bad position because he would always be viewed as a sinner in the eyes of the Empress.

“I heard about your daughter’s death.
You must be in great pain.” The Empress expressed, despite laughing in a mocking tone.
She could not hide the joyful look on her face from him.
“Miss Lydiana was a very talented financier … it’s such a waste of talent.”

Lydiana was healthy all throughout her pregnancy and during childbirth.
But suddenly, Lydiana, who was in good health, died unexpectedly. 

The cause of Lydiana’s death was exposure to an unknown poison.
Duke Lithi was clueless as to where the poison came from, what it was, or who the traitor in the mansion was.

Duke Lithi had a premonition that the Empress was behind the sudden death of his daughter.
He had this hunch, but there was no physical evidence to prove it. 

“Is the child a girl or a boy?” The Empress asked.
She was asking about the biological sex of the child, whom Lydiana had given birth to before her death.
If it was true that the Empress was behind his daughter’s death … then his grandson was also in danger.

Duke Lithi could not answer right away.
The reason was that, due to the gender of his grandson, his grandson had the right to inherit the throne, making him a threat to the empire. 

“My granddaughter … she died as soon as she was born.”

The Empress’s red lips compressed into a thin line.
“Are you sure?”

‘Why do you ask?’ Duke Lithi, afraid that the Empress would see through his lie, quickly nodded.

“You must take responsibility for the words you say.” The Empress uttered these words, of which the meaning was not entirely clear.
Duke Lithi was stunned.

A magical red seal suddenly appeared in the Empress’s hands.
It was a magic circle from the tower found in Berg city, the Imperial Capital.

“If your daughter’s child is a girl, then she will be healthy … She will live a long time.
But if the child is a boy, he will die before his coming-of-age ceremony.
However, if he is already dead, then unfortunately, my prophecy is useless.”

Duke Lithi nearly fainted on the spot upon hearing the Empress’s prophecy.

An Empress with magical powers could cast a curse or a blessing, even if she is not strong.
The curse or blessing would be especially influential if the child is weak.
Aster was blessed and cursed at the same time, but since he was still a child, and a boy at that, he would only receive the curse.

After receiving such a prophecy from the Empress, Duke Lithi wept and pleaded with the Emperor, whom he recognized in an instant upon first glance.
“Please forgive my grandson.
The Empress has cursed him.”

“Why did you lie to her? Lies do not work on the Empress …”

The old Duke’s fist wavered.
He was furious at being so helpless in front of the Emperor. ‘My daughter died for someone, and now my grandson is cursed by another.’

“I have no intention of overthrowing the throne, so please …”

“The matter of accession to the throne does not depend on the jurisdiction of the law, but the will of the Duke.”

“Please save him, Your Majesty.
He’s just a child who only has this old man left in this world.”

The Emperor’s gaze, frozen in front of the old Duke’s pleas, gradually wavered.
“The boy’s hair is also pink, like Lydiana’s?”

“Yes, from the hair color to the pupils and facial features.
He looks a lot like Lydiana.”

The Emperor’s eyes slightly reddened with what seemed to be tears.
This expression relieved the Duke’s torn heart a little.
The Emperor must have been heartbroken because he lost his mistress.
As such, it was now imperative to save Aster.
Duke Lithi would have never guessed the circumstances could be somewhat rectified after speaking to the Emperor.

The Imperial Palace was afraid of the Spirit King’s blood.
Duke Lithi’s daughter, Lydiana, would not have died had she not been associated with the Emperor.
This crime was committed before Lydiana was born, possibly beginning with Duke Lithi’s first encounter with his late wife Callie.

There was a strained relationship that lasted a very long time between the fallen Spirit Kingdom and the Elbach Empire. 

Despite this, the poor Duke Lithi turned a blind eye to this reality and turned his back on this harsh truth.
He had no choice.
In the end, he had to follow the Emperor’s words even though he felt like he was stranded in the middle of the sea.

Ultimately, the duke had decided that it was more important to protect his grandson who was cursed.

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