Chapter 103

“….How about it. Can you do it?”

“Kuek! No way! Orcs cannot do such things!”

Karuta jumped up as soon as Raven finished speaking. Raven frowned at the unexpected reaction.

“Why not? I gave you a quarry, a lumber mill, and an iron mill, so why? What’s so hard about using your strength for the duchy?”

“Ah, I’m thankful for that… but this is…”

Karuta mumbled his words, and Kratul interjected in the conversation.

“Karuta is scared. He does not like heights. Other orcs are fine. They will do as Pendragon wants.”

“Hmph! Orcs are born from the ground, we just have to run around well.”

Raven burst into laughter at the sight of Karuta scratching his head.

“Then all you have to do is oversee the operation. Well, that’s settled then.”

“Okay. By the way. I do not know the details, but I think you will need a lot of stones and wood for this. Are you sure you can work the bird-heads all day? It will be difficult for the orcs to do that all day as well.”

“What are you talking about? You do not have to do it all, and you do not have to do it all day. Besides, Ancona Orcs and Griffons are the most important power of our territory, not labor workers.”

“Hmph! Whatever!”

“Kukeket! Pendragon always says the right thing.”

Karuta and Kratul stretched out their thick chests. But Karuta soon tilted his head.

“But if the bird-heads and orcs do not work all day, how do you plan to move all the rocks and the wood?”

“Both the quarry and the lumber mill are located in the Ancona Forest. Orcs and griffons only have to deliver it out of the woods. The rest will be taken care of by the people I hire.”

“Really? That will be convenient for the orcs, but… Is it not better to move it all at once? Why would you do that?”

Karuta’s puzzlement was quite reasonable. Performing the same work two times could be cumbersome and unnecessary. Raven also showed the same reaction when he had first heard about it from Vincent, and Vincent responded by saying that Raven was not wrong.

But Karuta’s statement only held true when the main focus was ‘work efficiency’.

“One of the most important purposes of this plan is to provide work to those who enter my land. Carrying wood and stone is a great job. We can secure manpower while solving the problem of population and money.”

“Hm…”

Karuta stroked his chin and nodded his head, but it seemed like he had not really understood Raven’s words.

“In addition, it is important to show the Ancona Orcs contributing to the project. It is a great opportunity for us to let the world know that the Pendragon Duchy is generous to other races like the orcs and the centaurs.”

“Hmmmm….” Karuta kept on nodding fervently, but it was quite apparent he still had not understood.

“Critically, when the city is built, not only orcs, but other races will also come into the city.”

“Hmm… Hmm!?” Karuta continued to nod his head half-heartedly before his eyes suddenly tore wide open.

Holding back his laughter, Raven continued, “They will have to follow the duchy’s laws, but it is still going to be a free city, so there will be a limit to judging and taking care of the other races’ problems based on human law. Now, then who should deal with the dissidents on behalf of my territory?”

“Of course, it will be the Ancona Orcs!”

“Yes, the Ancona Orcs and the centaurs, Pendragon’s allies. That is why we need some of our strong friends to be there when the construction starts in earnest. Do you follow?”

“Of course! Kukakakaka! As expected, Pendragon scarecrow is really smart! That is the best plan!”

“….Did you even really understand all of my words?”

Raven asked with skepticism towards Karuta, who was still laughing to his heart’s content. As if questioning Raven’s concern, Karuta answered with a thud to his chest.

“Hmm? Aren’t you ignoring the Ancona Orcs too much? Of course, I know. When other orcs come, we deal with it. If other orcs cause trouble, Ancona Orcs beat them up. Right?”

“That’s right! That’s the law of blood! Kuke. Kukeueuet!”

“…I’ll take that.”

Raven could not help but shake his head at the sight of the two orcs smiling at each other with confidence.

“Then that’s settled. Get prepared. I will talk to the centaurs separately. I am going to ask you to be thoroughly prepared.”

“Okay. I’ll get going then.”

Kratul and Karuta walked towards the door while grinning, showing their fangs.

“Kukuet! Ah, right. Kratul, you go ahead.”

Karuta stopped in his place and spoke to Kratul before turning his head.

“Why? Anything else you want to say?”

Karuta poked his head out of the door where Kratul had just left and looked around to make sure no one was around. Then, he turned around and hunched up before speaking.

“Well, Karuta saw something a little earlier.” He spoke carefully as if he was telling a secret, but his voice was so loud that it did not work at all.

Raven replied with a sigh, “Everyone can still hear even if you talk like that, so don’t bother.”

But Karuta hunched up even more.

“No, the earth hears everything, day and night. Besides, it’s related to your honor. I thought I should tell you, if not anyone else. It is about your subordinates.”

“My men?”

Raven’s eyes narrowed. Looking at Karuta’s careful attitude, it seemed to be quite a serious issue.

“Yes, Karuta is quite worried. I saw it on the way here earlier… Well, you know that scarecrow without an egg and the other scarecrow who beat up the island orc? Well, they were…”

Contrary to his prior words of concern, Karuta spoke of the two knights’ indecent relationship with an excited expression.

“…so that’s what happened! Kuhaha! What a bunch of guys.”

“……”

After listening to Karuta’s story until the end, Raven’s expression changed gradually. Karuta reassured Raven who was making a weird expression with a scrunched-up forehead and tight lips.

“Hmph! Don’t be so angry. Well, it sometimes happens between guys. Apparently scarecrows sometimes…”

“Hahaha! Hahahahaha!”

“Keugh?” Karuta tilted his head in confusion at Raven’s response. “Why are you laughing? D, don’t tell me! I, I was the only one who did not…”

“Hahahaha! No, that’s not it. The truth is…”

Raven laughed so much that he had to wipe the tear from his eyes as he told Karuta why Killian and Isla were holding hands. After a while, Karuta smacked his lips with a look of regret.

“That’s what it was? Hm! Karuta thought that the two scarecrows were in a loving relationship with each other…”

“Loving relationship? Well anyways, that’s not the case… No, wait a minute.”

Raven sank into thought. Apparently, Killian had been acting quite cocky after Vincent purposefully lost to him. His old habits seemed to be flaring up again. He would reflect on his actions after today’s incident, but Raven thought it might be better to have one more precautionary measure in place to control Killian.

“Hey, Karuta. Do me one more favor.”

“What is it?”

“Well, it’s about Killian…”

Raven’s eyes glistened as he spoke in a quiet voice.

***

“Oi! One-egged scarecrow! Bird-head scarecrow!”

“Ahk, ahhhk!”

Killian was holding hands with Isla and eating in an isolated corner of the dining hall where there was less traffic. He choked and coughed at the voice.

“…...”

Isla’s eyes chilled like the northern winds as Karuta strode over to the place where the two knights were sitting.

“What is it?”

Killian looked at Karuta with troubled eyes. After sitting down beside the two men without asking, Karuta grinned and revealed his fangs.

“I’m sorry about earlier.”

“Hmm…?”

Isla frowned.

“I heard everything from Pendragon scarecrow. I heard that you two do not have that kind of relationship. I made a mistake without knowing.”

“…...”

Isla nodded in silence. He had been ready to teach the orc a lesson. Apparently, the lord had explained their situation to Karuta which was very fortunate.

“Well, a man who crushed the fishy island orcs would not have such tastes, is that not right?”

Killian burst into a sigh of relief and answered instead of Isla.

“Haha! It’s wonderful that the misunderstanding has been resolved. I almost…”

“One-sided love is hard. One-egged scarecrow, don’t work yourself too hard.”

“Huh? About… what?”

Killian expressed his confusion at Karuta’s voice which was laced with worry. After looking around, Karuta spoke very carefully.

“Sniff! Well… I heard that after your egg was broken, you changed your tastes after being dumped by a bunch of girls. Even if that is the case, how can you force yourself onto your friend like that?”

“No, wait. What the hell is this…!”

Killian jumped to his feet and raised his voice hurriedly, then realized his mistake and shut his mouth. After seeing several soldiers looking their way from afar, Killian sat back down and lowered his voice.

“W, what are you talking about? Why would I…”

“I know, I know. Don’t worry. I am not going to spread any rumors.”

“No, really. That’s not it. I…”

“Anyways, don’t be too hard on him either, bird-head scarecrow. How important is gender when one person likes another?”

“Hmm….”

Isla slowly turned his face towards Killian.

“S, Sir Isla?”

Killian’s mouth was agape.

Isla’s face remained expressionless, but suspicion could be found in Isla’s grim eyes.

“I, I swear it’s not true! What’s wrong with you? I really do like women!”

“Strong denial is affirmation…”

Despite Killian’s desperate protest, Isla’s suspicion was not easily withdrawn. Karuta did not help the case either as he nodded with a look of understanding on his face.

“No….”

He was frustrated and angry, but he could not afford to cause another incident in the presence of soldiers. In addition, Karuta was definitely not someone he wanted to confront or provoke. A dilemma. It was a situation where nothing could be done.

“Don’t worry. I will try my best to stop any rumors from spreading. I heard nothing.”

Looking at Killian with a worried and sympathetic look, Karuta stood up while reassuringly patting him on the shoulder.

Killian became frenzied.

“No, it’s absolutely not true. What do you even mean that you will try your best?”

“Well, I have been a little bored and free lately. As I told you before, I want to have some sparring but I do not have any opponents except the orcs.”

“Hmm!”

Killian’s face distorted unknowingly.

From a long time ago, Karuta was obsessed with fighting against the strong other than the orc warriors. But there were only a select few people including Isla, Killian, and Alan in the duchy that were fit to spar against the orc champion, Karuta.

However, it was not appropriate for the duchy’s master to fight Karuta in the first place, and Isla was busy training griffon riders.

In the end, the only person remaining was himself, who had some time after finishing training his knights and his own training. But even as the duchy’s head knight, he had constantly refused to confront Karuta, who was the embodiment of ignorance and violence itself.

“Hmm! If I’m kept this bored and free, I might just randomly grab a scarecrow and have a chat with them. Anyways, orcs tend to speak of whatever comes to their mind…”

“Heuk….”

Killian’s face turned yellow. The truth was not important. As soon as rumors started to spread, it was all over. He had already experienced this for himself when he lost an egg.

“Whew! The sun is already at its peak. Well, Karuta will be on my way. Keep up the good work.”

“W, wait! Hold on.”

“Why?”

Karuta, who had started to slowly wad away, turned his head at the urgent cry.

“I, I will do it. I will help you train.”

“Keuh? You have a lot of pressure with the construction, don’t you? Just keep up whatever you have to do and I will…”

“I said I will do it! I will spar with you every four days so…”

Karuta raised his index and middle fingers and cut off Killian’s words.

“Once every two days.”

“Keugh….”

“Once every two days, including a bare-handed fight.”

Killian’s face distorted as if he had eaten crap, and in contrast, Karuta’s expression became brighter. After that day, for a long time, the sound of someone’s moans and groans could be heard from the training ground of Conrad Castle.

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