In a private room, in the duke’s residence.
In this room where seemingly all the most luxurious things in the kingdom have gathered, Maxim, the present Duke Unruh and Herbert’s father, was seated.
It was the day before he and Herbert were supposed to have their private talk after a long while.
Maxim’s mind was in great disarray after hearing Rodeo’s report. He wasn’t able to process much of the requests that came from all over his domain and have thus decided to postpone doing them.
“Why…why only now…”
For him who had already hardened his resolve, Rodeo’s report made his heart waver. Due to that, Maxim’s sleep had been light and he has also been anemic ever since.
It was hard for Maxim to express his feelings toward his son in a simple way. After all it was his son he had resolved to disinherit; his most adorable first child; his son who was a prodigy blessed by the gods; …and his unworthy son who has broken his and his wife Johanna’s heart more than anyone else has.
When Herbert was little, he was always the most lovely child. His eyes, which resembled Johanna’s, sparkled with curiosity at all times.
“I’m going to become a wonderful lord like father when I grow up!”
“Is that so? …ahh, that makes me so happy. I’m sure you’ll even become a much better lord than I. In that case, I suppose I’ll be able to retire early and spend my days living peacefully.”
“You can’t do that, Father! You and I will have our hands full improving the duchy!”
“My, my, Maxim. It looks like you can’t rest up just yet.”
“Haha, how harsh. But if I get the chance to make the territory rich with my son, it does seem like I’ll want to retire further down the road.”
Everyone in the kingdom knew Maxim and Johanna as a happily married coupled.
In the same token, Maxim was also famous in the kingdom for not taking a single mistress when such a practice was common among Lindner nobles, and instead lived his life happily surrounded by his wife, his 2 sons, and his 2 daughters.
Moreover, Maxim was capable, talented even, in his work.
He has contributed significantly to suppress the expansion of various nobles throughout the kingdom. People oftentimes referred to him as the king’s right-hand man. For these reasons and more, everyone paid attention to his would-be heir, Herbert. Just how great could the son of that Maxim be, they would often wonder.
As for Herbert, being exposed to such attention…he tried his best to meet the expectations of those around him. But thanks to that, they expected more and more from him. Ultimately, they expected him to grow up to be a retainer of the kingdom who surpassed even Maxim.
Such expectations were…not met.
Upon discovering that he had immense innate talent in magic—verified by becoming the champion in a fighting tournament—Herbert stopped his training with Rodeo. In turn, Rodeo had given up on him and stopped inviting him to practice.
And because of his confidence in magic, he gradually stopped making an effort at anything. After all, his overflowing talent in magic should have been enough to compensate.
The praises people had given Herbert not only failed to stop him from becoming haughty, it encouraged him.
Maxim and Johanna also noticed these changes in Herbert. However, they also thought it was only natural for a child with that much potential to be confident about himself. It was necessary even.
It could be argued that Maxim and Johanna’s overflowing love for Herbert was the greatest factor for him becoming conceited and violent.
Over time, more and more people left Herbert’s side. That included Tina, Rodeo’s daughter.
At the point where Herbert had put on some weight and started living as he pleased, all but four people refused to give up on him: his parents, Maxim and Johanna; his fiancee Nell; and last but not least, the butler Kevin.
Eventually though, even Nell was fed up with the new Herbert. Although they were still to be wed, she has stopped meeting with Herbert.
As for Maxim and Johanna, they tried different methods to correct Herbert’s attitude, but…each one has failed.
In the end, he’s like that because I spoiled him too much as my son. If only I had insisted on making him live simply, even if I had to send him off to a temple, maybe things would have turned out differently.
That was Maxim’s own conclusion.
Prepared to be branded as people who failed to raised their son properly, Maxim and Johanna…reluctantly gave up on Herbert as well. At the same time, they decided to hammer more lessons about being ruling lord to their second son, Rozea.
And now, back to the present…
“So, the one at fault…was really me, isn’t it?”
Maxim said so as he looked up at the sky through the windowpane.
According to Rodeo, Herbert has become able to use spacetime magic.
For Herbert—once known as a prodigy—to have improved that much, it might be said to be the next logical step. But if that was really the case, then that only proved once more that the one at fault was truly Maxim for failing to rein in Herbert.
“Maxim, may I enter?”
“—ah, yeah, sure.”
A gentle knock on the door tore Maxim away from his thoughts.
After Maxim granted the permission, the door immediately opened and Johanna entered into the room. She was around the same age as him, but her looks would have most people convinced she was only in her mid-twenties.
I’m so blessed to have a wife like her.
Upon the sight of Johanna, Maxim’s heart got a little bit lighter.
“Tomorrow’s finally the day, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is…”
“I’m going to be there too.”
“…It’s better for me to talk to him alone. There’s no need for you to meet—”
Maxim’s affection for Herbert had transformed into rage. However, for Johanna, hers has turned into deep sorrow.
Back when they still held onto the hope that Herbert would change, the sight of Johanna weeping on their bed at night oftentimes had made Maxim step away from the door out of the rage he felt inside.
…he had lost count how many nights that had happened. Needless to say, that took some toll on their mental health back then. It reached to the point where they needed to take medicine prepared by a court physician to fall asleep.
And now, here was a situation where Johanna might end up becoming like that again. It was precisely because of that that Maxim had no intention of letting Johanna attend the meeting with Herbert.
Him getting hurt all over again was more than enough.
The problem was, she was obstinate.
“No, I’m going, no matter what. Even if you say no, I’ll force our servants to tell me the venue and join you anyway.”
“Why go so far for Herbert? You should just direct all your affection to Rozea—”
“Because I gave birth to him; he’s still my son! Is there any mother out there who would not wish for the happiness of a child who was once connected to them through an umbilical cord!?”
Maxim gestured ‘I understand, I understand’, and gave up on persuading her.
Even from before, Johanna was an obstinate person who wouldn’t back down once she has decided on something. Even if Maxim were to meet with Herbert in secret, she would, like she warned, find out where they were and attend.
Like that, Maxim decided that both him and Johanna would go talk with Herbert the following day.
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Thank you! Herbert really is the embodiment of spoiled rotten.