Chapter 102

It was awkward because there was no place for their eyes to look. Tension caused sweat to drip down his neck. He had to say something, but he could not bring himself to speak. Although the two of them could not meet gazes, he was sure that the other man felt the same way. The slight tremor that could be felt from the sweaty hand proved it. It was the same when he first held the hand of a girl he liked. He had been so nervous. Except now…

“There…”

“So….”

The two people turned their heads at the same time, and their eyes met. It was the first time for both men to have looked at another man’s face at this distance, and their faces hardened. Both faces were stained with annoyance and displeasure, far from the trembling tension of first love. It was natural, as they had battled each other and tried to knock the other out with ferocity just a few hours ago.

“Dammit…”

“Ha...”

But both men recognized that they were thinking along the same line from the other person’s expression and let out a long sigh.

“Why don’t we let go for a while? It’s getting quite sweaty. It’s not like anyone is watching.”

“Let’s do that.”

Before they knew it, Killian and Isla had started talking to each other in a casual manner. They let go of their hands.

“……”

“…...”

After they wiped off the sweat on their pants, they awkwardly turned their gazes someplace else. It felt enormously embarrassing to hold each other’s hand again. However, when a group of maids appeared from afar, they immediately grabbed onto each other’s hand.

“Hello there, Sir Killian.”

“Hello, Sir Isla.”

“Y, yes.”

Killian clumsily nodded to the maids who bowed politely. The maids whispered as they passed the two people.

“Did you see it? Did you see it?”

Giggle.

“But don’t you think it kind of suits them?”

“Oh my, what an embarrassing thing to say.”

Killian’s face distorted.

I can hear you. All of it.

Feeling the sudden tightening of the grip, Killian could imagine the look on Isla’s face even without seeing. The thought of having to spend the entire day in this state was miserable beyond description.

The worst part of it was that it was not even noon yet. They had to suffer through another round of humiliation at the dining hall.

“Ha…”

“Whew….”

The two knights started to sigh together, but then stopped themselves. Maybe it was because they were holding hands, but it seemed like they were starting to sigh together now too. Even that was irritating.

But they calmed themselves, because they knew very well that they could not start arguing with each other in this state. It was not just because of the fact that they might be forced into this state for three more days.

When they thought of what their lord had said earlier in the day, chills ran down their backs.

“If my blades bicker with each other, I will have no choice but to throw it away.”

Nothing would be more disgraceful than that for a knight who swore allegiance to their lord. They would much rather take their own lives than be discarded by their master.

“That cannot happen…”

“Never…”

They flinched again.

They seemed to have had the same thought again. At this point, they were more despondent than annoyed. After exchanging gazes, the two knights plopped down on the staircase that was right next to them.

Passersby’s gazes naturally headed to the two imposing knights that were sitting on the staircase while holding hands. Either way, the two knights disregarded the attention and stared straight ahead with dejected eyes.

But after a moment, Killian took a deep breath as if he had made up his mind and turned his head.

“Hey, well, I…”

“I apologize,” Isla spoke while maintaining his glance straight ahead.

“Huh?” Killian’s eyes grew larger after hearing Isla’s words.

“As a servant serving under the same lord, and as a fellow knight, I apologize to you. I said some things that should not have been said.”

Isla’s voice was still cold and somber as usual, but Killian was taken back.

“Uh, huh? Well, it’s not like I… Tsk, I apologize too! It’s because of my short temper, so I hope you understand.”

“……”

Isla’s face turned slowly towards Killian. And this time around, Killian turned his gaze straight ahead.

“Oh, you know, I am the head knight of our duchy. I have also been here the longest. That’s why I kind of looked down on you and Sir Ron. With the sudden increase in the number of people… You know, that’s how people are, right? Everyone wants to maintain their position.”

Isla nodded as he watched Killian scratch his head.

“I understand. I carelessly overlooked your loyalty to the lord, and how you stayed true throughout the hard times. Once again, I sincerely apologize.”

Killian sneakily turned his head. Although Isla’s face was still expressionless, his sincerity was conveyed through the eyes.

Even though Killian had not known Isla for a long time, he knew what kind of man Isla was. Thus, Killian declared in a loud voice.

“Good! As the duchy’s senior knight, I will not do anything to embarrass myself in front of you in the future! I look forward to working with you, Sir Isla.”

“Same goes for me. I will be able to learn from you and rely on you while serving under the lord. I, Elkin Isla, will work hard to be our lord’s sword and shield alongside you, Sir Killian.”

“Sir Isla…”

Killian’s eyes filled with emotion. Isla also nodded with a determined look. The two loyal knights of the Pendragon Duchy held hands with each other and shared a passionate gaze filled with determination and loyalty.

“W, what are you guys doing?”

The two knights twisted their heads at the husky voice. Then, they froze. A few orcs were staring in their direction with their mouths wide open in shock, which showed their large fangs. The most imposing orc warrior shook his head as if he were in disbelief.

“Khew…. I heard that scarecrows sometimes…. But to think it was real.”

“Handsome Kazzal knows too! They’re gay! Gay!”

A small goblin popped out amidst the group of orcs and shouted while jumping around. The two knights paled.

“Kukeke! Karuta is tactless. Kratul was being quiet deliberately.”

“They’re gay! Gay!”

“Ehem! Anyways. You guys continue. I apologize for interrupting your moment. Oh, stop looking! You senseless orcs!”

“U, uwah!”

After shouting awkwardly, the orc warriors slowly moved their steps. Everyone tried their best not to look at the two knights, but Kazzal hopped around between them and kept shouting in an excited voice.

“They’re gay! I said that they’re gay!”

“Everyone knows, so shut up! You ugly, stupid goblin!”

“Kiek!”

Kazzal quickly hid himself among the orc warriors as Karuta raised his fist and loudly scolded him.

“Kehem!”

After lowering his hand, Karuta looked back at the two knights with an apologetic look.

“No, Karuta, it’s not what you…”

“I…”

Killian waved his hand rapidly with shock and Isla’s face distorted in a weird way. But their hands were still stuck together.

Karuta gave the warmest, softest smile he could muster to the two knights.

“I know. I know. The Earth God told us to love all. So I hope you two scarecrows can… share a beautiful love.”

Then, Karuta and the orc warriors left.

Wooooosh…

The wind that blew felt colder than usual, and the two knights had complexions that were ghastly white and hardened like ice.

“…Why don’t we let go for a while.”

“Yes. I think the lord will understand.”

After they let go of their hands, a sudden shiver ran down their backs.

“Hey, you probably know this already, but I really, really like women.”

“Same for me.”

Isla nodded vigorously in response.

“So, I hope there isn’t any strange misunderstanding…”

“There is not, so stop talking. It’s putting me in a bad mood.”

“I, I will.”

“…...”

The two knights stared straight ahead in the embarrassing, awkward silence. Then Killian spoke.

“Sir Isla, we’d better not run into each other for a while, right?”

“Obviously. And I hope Sir Killian will explain the truth of the matter to the orcs we ran into earlier.”

“What? No, why me? Those ignorant orcs…. Heuk...”

Killian turned to look at Isla with a dismayed expression, then stopped himself.

“I think I might accidentally kill them if I had to explain myself.”

Unlike his cold, indifferent voice, a mixture of killing intent and hostile spirit was sprouting out like an active volcano.

“….I got it.”

“Hello there. Sir Isla, Sir Killian.”

Another group of people approached.

“Y, yes!”

“……”

A flurry of emotions containing resentment and a sense of injustice overcame the two knights, but they instinctively joined hands once again.

***

“What? Is that true?”

“Yes. Orcs and the horse-heads took care of the things that were loitering in the abandoned mine leading to the mausoleum.”

“Hm…”

Raven narrowed his forehead at Karuta’s words.

It was quite surprising to hear that ghouls were appearing near the abandoned mine by Ancona Forest, which he had passed on his way to the mausoleum a few months back.

“Any signs of the lich?”

“Kukuet! None. Kratul would have noticed. The only things were about a dozen ghouls.”

“That’s odd. I thought ghouls and zombies disappeared after their manipulator was killed?”

“That’s right.”

“Then that means…”

The lich had revived. Or maybe it had not been killed completely last time, and it was regaining its strength. Fortunately, the lich was not in Ancona Forest. There was no way Soldrake would not have noticed it if the lich were in the duchy or inside Ancona Forest.

‘I’m certain that someone from the outside placed the lich there on purpose. Perhaps they were trying to prevent the Pendragon Duchy from making contact with Soldrake. The main body is probably located elsewhere.’

Now he was almost certain that this was the case. Besides, the fact that he was not able to finish off the lich even with Widow’s Scream, which held Soldrake’s energy, meant that the lich was quite strong.

‘Or maybe a being with a strength equal to a dragon is behind the lich…’

It was the worst-case scenario, but it was not impossible. The black mage he had faced as Alan Pendragon in the final battle of Karon Valley was also an extremely powerful entity capable of controlling a legion of monsters.

Raven turned to Karuta.

“I got it for now. I think we should pay more attention to the forest surveillance for the time being. Tell that to the centaurs as well.”

“Okay.”

Raven nodded his head. It seemed to be a good idea to discuss the matter with Soldrake.

“Anyways, why did you call me? Are you going to fight somewhere? Perhaps to go another round with those fishy bunch of orcs? Island orcs and horse-heads need a good beating every four days for them to be obedient.”

Karuta spoke without hiding his expectations. His desire for battle was shown as he cracked his joints.

“We will deal with the island orcs someday, but unfortunately not this time.”

“Kie…. Then what is it? You are no fun, even after not seeing you for a long time.”

Karuta picked his nose while mumbling begrudgingly.

“Ha… Well here’s the thing.”

Raven held back his desire to smack Karuta on the nose and began to explain the role that only the Ancona Orcs could take on in the new construction project of York Town.

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