There was something strange about the sudden change in Crow’s demeanor, and the maid peered at him closely .
“Are you alright, Your Highness?”
But Crow’s eyes were only fixed on the maid’s neck .
Dugeun, dugeun, dugeun .
The red blood pumping underneath her skin made him feel greedy .
‘I want to drink . ’
Only one thought occupied his mind . Just as Crow’s reason faded and he was about to tackle the maid, a voice called out to him from behind .
“Crow . ”
A scolding voice spoke, and Crow turned back . There Carlisle stood with a fierce look . The maid belatedly realized the Emperor’s presence and hurriedly bowed her head .
“Greetings to His Majesty . ”
Carlisle stared at Crow as if the boy was guilty of something, and spoke in a low voice .
“How long has Crow been like this?”
“What? What do you mean…?”
“That’s enough . ”
Carlisle gave up on extracting further information from the maid, then turned to Crow . He seemed to know what Crow was hiding . The boy was terrified .
‘W-what should I do?’
But Crow’s worries were useless . Carlisle left his escorts behind him and picked up Crow’s small body .
“Son, there is something we have to talk about as men . ”
Crow looked up in Carlisle in despair, worried that he might be in trouble . Carlisle walked forward with his son in his arms, and issued an order to his escorts .
“I have something to say alone to Crow, so leave . ”
“Yes, Your Majesty . ”
And so, Carlisle took Crow somewhere .
Carlisle went inside a room . The palace was so large that there were countless unused spaces, and this was the nearest one . After confirming that no one else was here, Carlisle released Crow from his arms . He looked at his son and spoke in a serious voice .
“Tell me honestly . When did it start?”
“Father, I, uh…”
“Since when did you start feeling the thirst for human blood?”
Carlisle really did know about his condition . Crow’s eyes immediately began to fill with tears .
“I’m sorry, Father . ”
At the same time, Crow pulled off his shoes and showed his scaly feet to Carlisle .
“When I woke up from a nap my feet suddenly changed like this . And when I came out, the people smelled good, and it was hard to hold back . ”
Carlisle carefully listened to Crow speak . Fearing his father’s presence, Crow cried even more .
Carlisle rubbed Crow’s back to settle him .
“Why didn’t you tell me or your mother right away?”
“I’m sorry . I thought you would be like this . ”
Carlisle’s face hardened . It was as if Crow had hit some sensitive spot .
“…You don’t have to worry about that . ”
“Papa, why am I different from other people? I’m afraid I turned into a monster . ”
Carlisle stared at the Crow for a moment without answering . Then, he raised his right arm and struck it hard on the desk .
A crash rang out that sounded as hard and as heavy as iron . The loud noise startled the young Crow so much that he stopped crying . Carlisle rolled up his sleeve, revealing a black arm . He couldn’t control his abilities freely, so this was the only way to show Crow the scales .
“…Hic . ”
Crow stared at Carlisle’s scales with wide eyes . They were the same as the ones on his feet .
“You’re not the only one, Crow . If you’re a monster, it’s because you’re my son . ”
“Do you hate being like your father?”
“No . I like Mama and Papa the best in the world . ”
Carlisle patted his son’s small head .
“As do I . I didn’t explain this to you yet because you’re too young, but I didn’t think you’d find out all on your own . ”
“Papa…you don’t hate me for looking like this?”
“Of course not . You’re my son . ”
“…Hehe . ”
Crow smiled shyly and wiped away his tears . If Carlisle and Elena continued to love him as they did now, nothing else mattered . Carlisle smiled faintly as Crow looked up at him cutely .
“There was a time when I hated myself for this . But now I’m glad . Because I inherited this blood, I was able to meet your mother . ”
“Yes, your father saved your dead mother once . ”
Crow looked surprised to hear that his mother had died, and Carlisle hurriedly corrected himself .
“Forget what I just said . The important thing is… I would be born a hundred or a thousand times like this just to meet her . ”
Crow stared at his father with his pure, innocent eyes, as if trying to understand his words . Carlisle looked at his scaled black arm with an emotional look on his face .
“So I appreciate this now . ”
Carlisle turned to Crow with a soft gaze .
“Crow, you are the fruit of our love . I believe this power will help you one day, like it did me . ”
Crow smiled back .
“Thank you, Papa . I love you . ”
His sweet words drew a faint smile on Carlisle’s lips .
“Yes, I love you, too, son . ”
Crow and Carlisle looked at each other and smiled with the same expression . Anyone could see that they were father and son .
It was then that the door burst open . Carlisle’s and Crow’s heads jerked towards the entrance, and they saw Elena standing there, breathing hard . She looked like she had ran all the way here .
“Haa, haa . What happened to Crow?”
“How did you know?”
“I heard from the maids that you disappeared somewhere with only him . I came straight here because I worried that something had happened . ”
“News travels fast . Crow started feeling thirsty for blood, so I took him away where there were no people . ”
At those words, Elena rushed towards her son and frantically looked him over .
“Are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere?”
“Yes, Mama . I’m fine . ”
“You should have told me first when you started feeling those urges . What if your father found you too late? Well?”
Elena’s worried tone gradually turned into a scolding, and Crow glanced at Carlisle for help . However, Carlisle shrugged as if to say, I’m sorry, but your mother is the scariest person in the world for me too .
After the busy events of the day, Crow, exhausted, fell asleep next to Elena and Carlisle . Once again, he met the black dragon in his dream .
Crow tried to approach the dragon first, but the latter didn’t respond .
However, Crow could see that the dragon was observing the black scales on his feet . The boy sat down next to the dragon and talked about what happened that day . Although the dragon didn’t say anything, Crow knew he was listening .
“So my mom gave me a big scolding . ”
For the first time, the dragon answered in a rumbling voice .
『That is not the end of your potential power . Well, of course, that’s because you ate someone’s heart . 』
“What did I eat?”
Crow’s innocent expression made the dragon sigh and shake his head .
『…Very well, then let’s not speak of it . 』
“But, Mister, can I be stronger?”
『Yes . 』
『Well… . 』
The dragon was about to answer, but then he caught himself and frowned .
『You expect me to teach you?』
“Well . Not now, but maybe later . ”
『I won’t teach you . 』
“Then later . ”
In face of Crow’s optimism, the dragon’s scaly brow crinkled even further . But Crow didn’t care and went on telling stories about himself .
“Mister . I can’t actually eat carrots, but this morning at breakfast…”
As Crown regaled the dragon with his stories, his body gradually started to become transparent . He instinctively felt that it was time to part from the dragon again .
“Well, Mister, I hope your wound is healing quickly . See you later . ”
Crow waved his hand and said goodbye to the dragon . Just before the boy’s body disappeared completely, the dragon mumbled in a very small voice .
『…Alright . 』
Crow’s eyes widened at the noticeable change in the dragon’s attitude . The idea that he could be close to the dragon made him smile . At the time, Crow did not know how miraculous it was to communicate with the dragon in his blood…
And the incredible power this bond would grant .
The story of Crow Walter Ben Ruford, one of the wisest emperors in the history of the Ruford Empire, began now .
After talking for a long time to the dragon, Crow’s mind slowly began to return to reality . Elena’s and Carlisle’s were talking near him .
“I’m so glad that eating the Zamida fruit made Crow lose his thirst for blood . ”
“Since we’ve been feeding it to him as a child, we can see the effects . ”
Carlisle’s words drew a smile from Elena .
“Chief Chyanatha said he would come here in person . He must be very curious about Crow’s condition . ”
“Yes . Both the curse and power coexisted inside of me, but with the Zamida fruit, Crow will just be left with tremendous power . ”
“Come to think of it, that’s true . ”
“I’ve already experienced how unbearable the thirst for blood is . But Crow produced the Dragon’s Orb without human blood, and he’s been holding up . At this rate, the curse may indeed end . ”
“That’s great, but…it still rests heavily on me that you suffered . ”
“You’re next to me now, and that’s all that matters . ”
Crow could hear Carlisle’s body shifting around .
“You are the greatest reward of my life . All I need is you . ”
Crow lifted a heavy eyelid as he heard his father’s warm voice . Through his blurred vision, he saw Carlisle kiss Elena’s cheek .
Elena hurried over when she heard her son call . She gently rubbed his back, and it felt so pleasant to Crow that he buried his head further in his pillow . When he fully opened his eyes, he saw Elena smiling beside him, while Carlisle had a slightly grumpy expression . Crow spoke through a sleep-muffled voice .
“What were Mama and Papa talking about?”
Carlisle answered the question in a low tone .
“About you . ”
“About me? What did you say?”
Carlisle came near and ruffled his hair, and laughed at the adorable sight .
“My son may be a greater man than I thought . ”
Crow smiled happily, and Elena spoke with a gentle smileon her face .
“Does Crow want to be a great person?”
“Yes! I will become a wise emperor and receive a lot of praise from my people, and be a good son to my Mama and Papa!”
“Really? To do that, you have to listen to your teacher and study hard . ”
Elena smiled at Crow’s answer . At that moment, Crow got out of bed and began to search the pockets of his jacket . Elena looked at him questioningly .
“Crow, what are you looking for?”
“Just a minute, Mama . ”
He rummaged through his pockets for a while, before he finally found what he wanted . He handed a piece of white paper to Elena and Carlisle with a bright expression . They unfolded the paper, and saw a picture that Crow had drawn himself . He pointed to the largest person in the drawing .
“This is Papa . ”
Then he pointed at a woman who looked like a princess .
“This is Mama . ”
Finally, Crow’s short finger pointed to a small child between the two .
“And here I am . This is a picture of my family living happily together . ”
Elena looked between the drawing and her son with indescribable joy . Although Crow’s drawing skills were juvenile, the warm emotions poured into the picture moved her .
“I didn’t know that my Crow draws so well . You’re good enough to be a painter . ”
Elena’s praise made Crow smile, and he scratched his nose in embarrassment . His adorable, child-like gesture made the smile on Elena’s lips widen .
“Yes, we will live together like in this picture you drew . ”
Elena dropped a gentle kiss to Crow’s forehead .
“I love you, son . ”
Crow snuggled deeper into his mother’s arms .
“I love you, too, Mama . ”
Carlisle watched the two of them, and spoke .
“You’re leaving me out?”
“Come here, too . ”
Elena extended her other arm which was not holding Crow, and Carlisle laughed and drew the both of them into his embrace . The three of them hugged each other with identical expressions of happiness on their faces . Crow lifted his head, and saw that his parents’ faces looked the same as the one in his picture .
“Tch, I’m jealous because Mama and Papa are so happy together . ”
Crow wanted to sleep with his parents every night, but when he had grown a little bigger Carlisle set him down and spoke in a serious voice .
Parents needed time alone .
Crow wasn’t allowed to tell Elena because it was a secret between men, but Crow continued to pout his lips in resentment .
“I want a little brother or sister, too . ”
Carlisle smiled at Crow’s words, then glanced at Elena’s face .
“Son, then I don’t think you should be here tonight . ”
Elena shoved Carlisle in the ribs .
“You can’t say that in front of a child . ”
Carlisle burst out laughing at Elena’s embarrassed expression . Then he kissed her cheek lightly and whispered in her ear .
“It’s true, my wife . ”
At the sweetness of the atmosphere between the couple, Crow reached out and gave a cry .
“Me too, kiss me too . ”
Carlisle and Elena chuckled at the same time, then bowed their heads together to kiss Crow’s cheeks on each side . Crow’s red-and-blue eyes squinted in happiness .
The three of them were a happy family together, just like in his drawing .
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