“Yes. It’s certainly rare to have such terrain in the duchy, which is filled with mountains. But at the same time, it’s the best environment to be building a large city.”
Vincent sympathized with Raven while steering his horse closer.
Raven nodded his head, then continued to look around. It was impressive that the Pendragon Duchy, which was filled with jagged mountains, also had such a flat terrain. One could see far in all directions.
“Hmm… Let’s see…”
Raven bent down and grasped a handful of dirt.
Several soldiers’ expressions changed when they saw their lord bend down to pick up dirt, smell it, and even taste it. But Vincent gave it no thought and copied Raven’s actions as well.
“It is not very good for farming.”
“Yes. There is a lot of sand mixed in. Southern farmers know the secret of wheat farming in these types of land, but I think it will be difficult for us. I have also heard that the duchy is quite humid and warm. Even though we have a lot of land, it will be difficult to farm for wheat.”
“Your face seems rather bright. What do you have in mind?”
Vincent grinned in response to Raven’s words.
“I do have something in mind, but it will not be easy with our current population. We might be able to barely get it started once we have more than 10,000 residents in this area.”
“Stop playing so hard to get.”
After returning the smile, Raven climbed back onto the saddle and turned his head, making eye contact with Lindsay.
The girl had been staring at Raven’s back the entire while, but as soon as he made eye contact, she hurriedly lowered her long eyelashes. Lindsay was sitting on a saddle wearing a fox-pelt shawl over her outdoor dress. She embarrassingly stole a few glances at Raven.
A light smile hung on Raven’s mouth at the sight.
“Why, is there anything you want to talk about? There is a town a little further ahead, so bear with me even if it is a little difficult.”
“Ah, it’s not that. It’s just…. This reminds me of the time I set off with Your Grace.”
After giving a slight affirmative nod, Raven stared at Lindsay while sinking deep into his thoughts. It felt refreshing to see Lindsay be completely different from when he had set off to reopen his family’s tomb and meet Soldrake.
The girl, who had silently followed him on a pony while performing all sorts of chores and duties as a maid, was now a baroness and his wife. Instead of a shoddy pony, she was now riding on the back of a noble stallion.
However, although her status and clothes changed, her behavior over the past four days had not been much different from the past. When it was mealtime, she worked diligently to help soldiers prepare meals, and when they set up camp outdoors, she prepared his bed and washing basin. Moreover, the clumsy and shy expression she had now was the same as before. She was the same Lindsay as she always had been.
“And it will be so in the future as well…”
“Did you say something?”
“Oh, no. Nothing.”
Raven was muttering in a pleased voice and shook his head hurriedly at Vincent’s words. Then, Raven’s gaze moved on to another person. The beautiful girl had calm, collected eyes, but she flinched when Raven met her eyes.
But unlike Lindsay, she did not avert his gaze and calmly faced Raven’s gaze.
Unlike Lindsay, who was always the same, Luna had changed a lot.
Lindsay was used to the hard life and working chores because she used to work as a maid of Conrad Castle, while Luna was born into nobility. But she had followed along all this way without a single maid and took care of her own matters. Even when Lindsay offered help, unable to stand and watch as Luna suffered, Luna refused.
In addition, she helped the soldiers prepare the meals without showing any discomfort. No one had told her to. Rather, it was per her request that she was brought along to York Village.
Her reasoning was that she would be able to participate and contribute to the construction of York Town as a representative of the Seyrod territory. There was no reason to refuse, and Vincent also stated that cooperation with the neighboring territory was crucial, hence, Luna tagged along.
The count’s daughter endured through four days of cold wind and dusty environments without complaining. Raven had not expected her to have changed this much, so he felt quite amazed, but also uncomfortable. When he recalled the conversation he held with her in Leus, he felt a little restless.
‘I cannot understand. I better keep my distance for now.’
Leaving his thoughts about Luna behind, Raven turned his head back.
“It is getting windy. We better hurry.”
With Raven at the front, more than fifty troops moved along at a quicker pace towards York Village, which was becoming visible in the far distance.
York Village was no different from any other village in the duchy. Along the tributary of a small river, small plots of farmland and old barns were visible. And York Village stood in the middle of it all, with around 20 houses surrounded by a line of wooden fence as tall as a child.
Having already been notified of the visit, York Village had already opened their fence doors wide open and residents, regardless of age or sex, stood outside, waiting for the arrival. It was the first time in almost a hundred years that the master of the duchy was personally visiting them. Knights or officials from the castle held the highest status of any people they had accommodated until now. Thus, the residents of York Village looked towards Raven’s group with expressions of excitement, concern, and curiosity.
However, Vincent noticed that there were quite a few people mixed in the crowd who did not seem to be residents of York Village. Taking a quick scan through the crowd with sharp eyes, Vincent spoke in a quiet voice.
“It seems that they have already come. Merchants, nobles, and there seems to be some poor people from outside our duchy watching us while hiding.”
Raven also narrowed his eyes and nodded. The report had stated that York Village had a population of about one hundred. But the number of people who had come out to greet him seemed to be well over a hundred.
“The kinship of the great emperor! The exalted master of the glorious territory of…”
“I am Alan Pendragon.”
Raven stepped forward while cutting off the soldier who shouted grandly while holding the flag of the Pendragon family.
“We greet the master of the duchy.”
The residents all shouted nervously with a united voice and bowed deeply. Originally, they would have had to bow down onto the ground, but Raven had forbidden it, so the residents only bowed their waist.
“It’s fine, let us go in.”
Even though he had lived as Alan Pendragon for a while now, he was still unaccustomed to such situations. He spoke quietly then rode his horse inside the gate.
The church of Illeyna doubled as the village hall of York Village. It was old and worn out, but fairly large in size. In addition, the villagers had wiped down the place so hard that the floor was almost shining, and it was hard to spot even a single speck of dust.
“I apologize for greeting you in such a shabby place, Your Grace,” greeted the village head, who was in his fifties.
Raven responded to the village head, who kept bowing his head repeatedly without daring to meet Raven’s eyes.
“The children and the women may leave. Those who have work to do can also continue their work.”
“Oh, no, how could we…”
“It’s for my sake and the duchy’s sake. Everyone can leave except those that have something to say to the village head. Get some food for the soldiers as well.”
“Ah, yes, yes.”
The village head quickly bowed in concordance with the words of the land’s absolute ruler. Soon, the church only contained a dozen men with the exception of the soldiers, and Vincent slowly glanced through those that did not seem to be villagers.
One man dressed in a modest brown robe and had a clean appearance, who seemed to be in his early 30’s, stood out in Vincent’s eyes.
‘A merchant. From a noble background as well…’
“Why don’t you all sit down.”
Raven said as he looked around. Lindsay awkwardly sat down beside Raven, and Luna took her place beside Lindsay.
The rest of the people huddled down in the front of the church as well.
Everyone looked towards him, and an awkward silence followed. Raven glanced at Vincent.
“I am Vincent Ron, a knight of the Pendragon Duchy, and an advisor to His Grace Alan Pendragon.”
Most people bowed their heads at Vincent’s words. But some of them also carefully observed Vincent’s face while showing courtesy, and Vincent’s sharp eyes took notice of them. One of them was the brown-robbed man whom Vincent had noticed before.
“I believe all of you are aware of the reason His Grace has come here today. I also know that the residents of York Village are confused by the sudden decision. His Grace would like to talk more about the plan.”
At Vincent’s calm words, the people tilted their heads in confusion and looked around. It was because they could not easily understand why a knight, who held the position of the lord’s advisor, was being so kind with his words.
The beautiful young man who was sitting in front of them with an indifferent expression was the master of the Pendragon Duchy. His words were the law. If he commanded one to die, they had to die. That was the law of this land, and the absolute boundary.
But the right arm of the ruler was talking in such a manner, as if he was trying to convince them. The residents and the village head could not understand.
Raven, who had been sitting quietly until now, slowly opened his mouth.
“As Sir Ron said, there are many reasons I am here today. One of them is to explain to the people of York Village a detailed plan for the construction of York Town.”
The residents were so confused, that they forgot their manners and stared directly at Raven with wide eyes. Even those who were not residents also looked quite shocked.
What reason did the duchy’s master, who was on equal standing with the royal family, have to explain his plans to the people of the land? It might have made more sense if the crowd was composed of nobles, but it was hard to understand what he had to gain from explaining his plans to mere peasants.
Something unbelievable was happening.
But disregarding their reactions, Raven remained calm and continued his words.
“York Village is my land. But it is also your land.”
The residents opened their mouths in shock. They could not believe the words they were hearing.
“You have lived in this land and worked hard on my behalf and the former dukes. The construction of York Town is for you.”
Words had power. Depending on who the speaker was, the same words could carry different weights. At this moment, however, the man who was talking in the church of York Village was none other than the master over the entire Pendragon Duchy.
Such a man said he was working for the people. Regardless of the situation, such words increased his credibility and more residents would praise him.
“As proof, we will first construct the city walls to fortify defense. If any existing residents desire, we will expand their houses or build new houses for them. Moreover, if the construction causes any disruption to your livelihood, you will be compensated fairly. I promise in the name of the Pendragon family…”
As Raven’s words continued, the shock on the people’s faces grew even more apparent. The residents and the village head puffed out their mouths and drool started to fall down their open mouths.
The merchants and the nobles from other regions also had minor convulsions. The residents were shocked at the great rewards and treatment they were receiving, but the nobles and the merchants were astonished for different reasons.
They had heard certain stories, and they had held certain expectations when they headed for the Pendragon Duchy. However, the Pendragon Duchy’s plans were grander and more precise than they thought.
The words that flowed out of the young master’s mouth referred to not only the construction of the city, but also the flow of money and economy, discussed in a depth that was unbelievable for a young man who was barely twenty, even taking his identity into account. They could not come to their senses.
The most shocking fact came at the end of the rather long monologue.
“…so, all the payment and compensation regarding the construction of York Town will be made in a new form of gold currency which will be manufactured by the Pendragon Duchy. The gold content in the coin will be seventy percent of the imperial gold coins. The exchange fee with the imperial gold will be…. announced after I negotiate with the royal family.”
While everyone was murmuring, one person drew in a sharp breath. Vincent’s eyes headed towards the person
It was the brown-robed man. He had maintained his calm when others were displaying their shock, and now, he looked like he had seen a ghost.
‘He is the only one who realized the truth of the matter. That bad money drives out good money.’
A faint smile appeared on Vincent Ron’s face, the man who would later be called the ‘raccoon mask’ of Pendragon.Previous Chapter Next Chapter