Chapter 108

“Anyway, do you need anything else? If we leave the troops behind and call in a dozen Ancona Orcs, we should be good for security. Do you want some more manpower?”

“That is alright. If it is regarding the currency manufacturing and the overall operation of the duchy, I can make use of those fellows.”

Raven’s expression brightened at Vincent’s words.

“You mean the Jody gang. What do you think, aren’t they quite useful?”

“They are not bad at all.”

Vincent replied with a grin.

Although they used to be a simple group of mercenaries, they were now serving as squires for the Pendragon Duchy, a stage before knighthood, and Vincent knew them to have good loyalty towards their lord.

“They are good people. They are useful in collecting information and for communication purposes. They do not seem to have any difficulties in carrying out their missions, even if they are sent away outside of Bellint Gate.”

“They have been through a territorial war, and they have been commissioned to help explore uncharted territories. Most importantly, they are loyal, considering their previous identities as mercenaries. I thought they might be some help to you, and it seems it was worth it.”

“When we have more people, I think we can put them in charge of their own organization.”

“I see. I will leave it to your discretion regarding those fellows.”

“Yes.”

Vincent bowed his head before asking rather carefully, “I apologize for asking, but what are you planning to do about Lady Seyrod?”

“Well.”

Raven licked his lips and responded with a rather bitter look.

“What can I do? She insists that she has her own business here. The Seyrod family is our kinship, and our relationship is still a little rocky. There is nothing I can do.”

“With all due respect… Lord, I think you should make sure you clarify your relationship with Lady Seyrod. Baroness Conrad is fine, but you should leave the place of the next duchess vacant for the time being. The Pendragon Duchy will be able to develop much more even without the help of another family.”

“I know. You can rest assured that I have no intentions of furthering my relationship with Lady Seyrod.”

“I apologize for stepping over my boundaries.”

But Raven responded with a smirk.

“That is all right. Miss Seyrod will be staying here, so try to look after her. If there is anything you can do to help her, make sure you do.”

“Yes.”

Vincent left the residence. Raven was left alone, and he muttered to himself while enjoying the chilly night air.

“Luna Seyrod…”

Luna had changed enormously since the first time he had met her as Alan Pendragon, but he still felt burdened and awkward with her. He felt bothered by the way she looked at him, and the strange emotion contained in her eyes was uncomfortable.

He could not act as he wanted because they were his relatives.

Duchess Elena had asked him to take good care of Luna, and even Irene got along with Luna. There were no feasible solutions. He would have to retain his current attitude and let things flow.

“Whew, what a headache…”

With a light sigh, Raven opened the windows and returned to his chair. There was only one being who could help him in this situation - Soldrake, the only being in the world who knew everything about himself.

When he thought of her, a smile appeared on Raven’s mouth.

[Does Ray like me that much?]

“Gah!”

Raven jolted at the sudden voice and turned around. His eyes opened wide. The silver hair fluttered as it caught the moonlight. The moment he saw the jewel-crested forehead and the cool eyes, Raven felt joy and relief.

“You are here, Sol.”

[Yes. I felt Ray’s earnest feelings on the way, so I hurried.]

“……”

Raven was at a brief loss for words when Soldrake sat right next to him, then brought her hands to his cheeks. It seemed that she was still shameless with her words. But the warmth in her hand quickly dispelled the embarrassment.

“Thank you, Sol. Anyways, how is your condition?”

[It’s all right now. I took a rest in my nest, and now I feel completely fine.]

“Yes, I am glad.”

Raven tightly clasped Soldrake’s hand, disregarding the unique texture it delivered. He could not be happier at seeing Soldrake’s familiar expression of indifference.

Soldrake had replenished her magic and checked on the guardians that protected her lair and the duchy. It was because she had consumed quite a lot of mana taking on a human form while journeying through Leus and Sisak.

Naturally, there were no problems within the Pendragon territory.

Every dragon had its own territory, and their mana was constantly replenished within their territory. But if they left their territory, their supply of mana would be cut off. A short period of time would not cause any harm, but they could be placed in a difficult situation if they left for a prolonged period of time.

Soldrake had accompanied Raven for a couple of months while traveling to Leus and Sisak. Even though she was called Queen, the dragon of all dragons, she had no choice but to rest in her lair to make up for the mana she had expended during the period of travel. And Raven knew too well that she had gone through the trouble for him.

“Thank you always, Sol. You can rest in the duchy for the time being.”

But Soldrake shook her head at Raven’s words of concern.

[Ray and I are companions of the soul. I feel most comfortable when I am by Ray’s side.]

“Sol…”

Soldrake continued while staring deep into Ray’s eyes with deep, dim eyes.

[Magic is just a tool that keeps my vessel. But Ray brings rest to my soul. You are special even among Pendragons, so I will remain by your side.]

She spoke in a voice that was neither too high, nor low; a calm voice. However, her deep and full emotions were conveyed through her words.

[Until the day Ray takes his last breath in this life, I will be with Ray.]

Raven’s body trembled at the communion of the soul that surpassed all other boundaries.

“…...”

Lindsay could not hear what they were talking about. But, she could feel a special energy coming from inside the door. It was a phenomenon that appeared every time her beloved husband communicated with the guardian of the Pendragon Duchy.

“Like a fool…”

Her heart pounded rapidly, and her hands shook holding a tray full of refreshments that were prepared for her spouse. She felt so anxious and it was as if a wall was blocking her way.

The way to relieve this anxiety and frustration was simple. All she had to do was knock on the door and enter, looking at the face of her loved one. He would become flustered for a moment, but would soon return her gaze with a warm, gentle expression.

“Yes. That’s all I have to do…”

Lindsay stretched out her hand with a firm determination. But the moment she saw her own hand, her eyes quivered rapidly.

As her status changed, she had been living a comfortable lifestyle, but her rough, cracked hands still showed signs of a hard life. The trembling hands whispered to her in the dim light. That she should know her own place.

Someone noble, someone better than you should be standing beside him. Eventually, Lindsay’s hand and head fell helplessly.

“Ha…”

With a weak sigh, Lindsay slowly turned around. The thin shadow elongated with the sound of lonely footsteps, then disappeared.

First love was as cruel as ever.

***

The next day, the merchants headed to the town hall once more after breakfast.

However, this time around, it was Vincent Ron, the duchy’s advisor, who greeted them. He brought them aside individually and conducted private interviews with the merchants.

The merchants knew that today was the day when talks regarding the details of the contracts would be discussed in earnest.

After a couple of hours, the merchants left the hall with faces full of defeated expressions.

“Huh… I have never seen a knight who is so meticulous with contracts before.”

“I mean, how does he even know the inner workings of Leus, even situations all the in El Pasa? Is he even a real knight…?”

“I said I wanted to open some bars targeting the workers, but then he assigned me a brewery to source the alcohol. He said I should not even think about doing business if I was not supplied by the duchy for the beer and the cheapest wines.”

“Well, that makes sense. There will be thousands of workers.”

Merchants left the hall while grumbling to each other. But they did not speak a word about what kind of contract they had signed, or how they would run their businesses. No one was stupid enough to spill the beans in front of their rivals.

“Whew, this looks like a good opportunity, but we should be careful. We might go bankrupt.”

“Exactly what I was thinking.”

The merchants grumbled pretentiously, but their eyes soon headed to one person in particular. It was Dos Giovanni, who was quietly walking with a pondering face.

“Was the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce also told to bring in a contract in the afternoon as well?”

Muland, the friendly man, asked quietly while stroking his moustache.

Giovanni glanced at Muland and nodded in silence.

His action could be considered rude, but Muland knew the gap that existed between the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce and himself very well, so he smiled and crept closer to Giovanni’s side.

“And you must be dealing with more than just one or two items, right? If you exclude the main business of the people here, then it must be…”

But Giovanni turned his face towards someone else.

“Jonathan Brothers’ main business is with linen and cotton, right? From production to importing and exporting.”

“Huh? Well, yes, that’s correct…”

With his family being randomly brought onto the table, Reid Jonathan’s expression turned a bit sour. Giovanni stroked his chin and observed Reid Jonathan for a moment before muttering in a low voice.

“Do not be offended. I am giving you advice because it does not overlap with our association’s business.”

“Huh? What are you talking about…”

Reid Jonathan’s expression changed for the worse. But Giovanni paid no heed and approached Reid Jonathan and whispered in his ear.

“…Then, I will take my leave.”

He trudged along after speaking one-sidedly.

Reid Jonathan, who stared at Giovanni’s back with a blank expression, suddenly uttered words with an enraged expression.

“That son of a…!”

“Why? What did he say?

Muland and the other merchants approached him hurriedly.

“Ptooey!”

Reid Jonathan spat on the ground and continued in an infuriated voice.

“Well, listen. He said that if we keep focusing on our current business, we might go bankrupt. He said we should look into other business. Who does he think he is? Just because he is part of the Giovanni Merchants, he thinks he can straddle around and poke his nose into other people’s business? What the hell!”

Feeling extremely angry, Reid Jonathan stomped away without looking back.

“Huh? Is he serious?”

“Right? How can he just interfere with other people’s business and tell them what to do? He’s way out of his mind.”

“Tsk, well it seems even the Great Giovanni Chamber of Commerce failed in their business of rearing an heir. Now, now. Let us go.”

After retorting, the merchants all headed to the only pub in York Town.

‘He wants them to move away from the linen and cotton business? Why would he suddenly say such a thing…?”

Muland trailed behind the other merchants while shaking his head.

One of the four great associations that had sent him here had already informed him about Dos Giovanni. Dos Giovanni was not an arrogant man, and he was not a person who would sprout nonsense. In addition, the other associations seemed to be wary of him.

Muland thought that it was worth paying attention to Giovanni’s words.

‘Still, to ask them to close the business they have been working on for more than a decade… Well, I guess it’s none of my business.’

Muland shrugged, then trudged along.

But Muland did not know. That three years later, the Jonathan Brothers’ Association would be forced to resign after a crushing defeat in its main business. And that the one who would occupy the spot would not be one of the four great associations, nor any of the merchants that were currently present in York Village.

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