“The orcs have come!”
Even though they had already heard about the Ancona Orcs, the humans scattered like sheep at the sight of orc warriors looking around with their large fangs exposed.
“I, it’s okay! Everyone, please do not worry! Those orcs are His Grace’s servants!”
The village head came running hurriedly and shouted to the villagers. But his legs were shaking to the point where it looked pitiful; it seemed that the head was scared witless as well.
“Kuhem? Who are you calling servants? Ancona Orcs are the friends of the Pendragon scarecrow. We are not mere subordinates.”
The village head fell down on the spot as the large orc raised his rough voice.
“I said to not scare these people.”
Raven and Vincent, who had already guessed at the arrival of the orcs and the griffons from the deafening noise, walked out of the wooden gate.
“Kuheng! It is nothing compared to what Karuta felt riding on the bird-head.”
Karuta grumbled, and Raven responded with a smirk.
“I got it. To think such a large brat would be scared of heights…”
“Keung? Did you say something…?”
Even though Karuta’s eyes were bad, his hearing was exceptional, so Raven held back his laughter, then responded.
“It is nothing. Let’s clean this up first.”
“Keung, sure. Hey, you orcs! Hurry it up!”
The orc warriors began piling up the scattered materials in an organized matter, one after another. Large stones and boulders that would have taken four or five strong men only took one orc warrior, and the work ended in less time than it would have taken to eat a meal.
The griffons all left, except for around a dozen, and Raven entered the village with Karuta and the other orc warriors. The people, who had been watching the amazing sight of orcs and griffons working, backed away with fear. The orc warriors were humongous and even more ferocious up close.
But Alan Pendragon and Vincent casually led the orc warriors to the front of the town hall where the soldiers were already waiting.
The villagers and the merchants gulped as they watched the procession of Raven and the orc warriors.
“As you all know, these are the Ancona Orcs, Pendragon’s friends and allies! For the time being, they will be in charge of the security of York Village and the construction site along with my soldiers!”
At Raven’s words, the residents buzzed with frightened faces. They could not help themselves in front of scary things.
“Our friends from Ancona do not touch the weak. They will be living outside of the village, so you do not need to worry. As such, continue business as usual.”
The residents were still fearful and doubtful, but they were convinced by their lord’s words and scattered away.
“Karuta, start off by building a place outside of the village. Try to stay away from the poor immigrants as well. My men will help you.”
“Yeah. Hey, you orcs! Let’s dig some dirt!”
The orcs exited the village in great haste along with the Pendragon soldiers.
After that, everything was a blur.
The Ancona Orcs were both great warriors as well as skillful and diligent workers. They finished making their large cave-shaped houses using dirt, wood, and stone before sunset.
In the meantime, Raven met with Dos Giovanni and the other merchants to sign the contracts. Everyone was satisfied with their terms, and Raven ordered Vincent to throw a festival to celebrate and commemorate the day.
York Village, which had been relatively quiet for decades, became lively and noisy with the sound of orcs constructing their houses and the sound of outsiders and residents enjoying the festivities.
The elderly, who had enjoyed their lengthy calm, sighed and shook their heads, but the young people were excited.
As the duchy’s master said, the orcs did not bother the humans. They ate and drank among themselves, and the outsiders, including the poor, did not act as recklessly as before due to the presence of the orc warriors.
Naturally, there were some people who got drunk off the free alcohol and ran rampant. But Vincent ordered them to be taken aside to be punished, then thrown out of the village, stripped of their clothes.
One or two of them raised their voices in a drunken mood, asking if he knew how important they were, but Vincent pretended not to hear. No matter how great their status was, it was almost useless in front of Alan Pendragon, who would soon become duke. It was obvious that as soon as they woke up tomorrow, they would hurriedly run away from the duchy.
In this way, York Village enjoyed a noisy day of festivities, all the while maintaining discipline and order.
Unlike the night before, which was rather tense and quiet, the town hall was as busy and noisy as a market.
“Now, now. Drink it up!”
“Kuhehehe! If I had known that McKidd scarecrow was going to be here, I should have brought more orc beer.”
Ridley McKidd was the young soldier who had accompanied Raven in reclaiming the mausoleum. The kid who had stated that he would fight with his master until the end had now become a squire. In addition, he had become quite close with Karuta during a trip.
“Huh? Why are you not drinking?”
Karuta frowned at the sight of McKidd barely sipping from his mug of beer.
“Yes, I have to patrol afterward. Even if it does not seem like it, I am the captain of the soldiers here. If I become too drunk, it puts me in a tough situation, so go easy on me.”
“Kuheeng! The problem with scarecrows is that they are bad at drinking. As the Earth God said, if you are a man with balls, drink and beat your enemies to your heart’s content. Well, since you got promoted, Karuta will let you off easy.”
“Oh, haha! Of course, of course!”
Karuta slapped McKidd’s back with a cheery laugh, and McKidd also burst into a big grin. The residents who were watching the scene fold from nearby looked at each other, then finally took on relaxed expressions.
When the head of the orc warriors, named Karuta, first showed up at the town hall, everyone was flabbergasted. None of the residents of York Village had ever shared a drink with an orc before.
It was the same with the merchants. All of them were worried about what would happen if the orc warrior, who was strong as a dozen fit men, got drunk and went on a rampage.
But it was a needless worry. Even though Karuta had an appearance that seemed as if he had come through the depths of hell and could scare off even ghosts, he was fine-natured and well-spoken. Moreover, he could definitely hold his liquor, as he was completely fine even after emptying a barrel of beer by himself. Obviously, it was hard to tell with his naturally-red skin, so they could not discern if he was drunk or not.
In any case, as time went by, Karuta rang with the duchy’s soldiers, as well as the villagers. Not long after, sounds of nonstop laughter could be heard with Karuta at the center.
Nevertheless, there was another place that attracted the most attention in the town hall. A long table was set up at the head of the hall. It was decorated with silver candlesticks and flowers, unlike the other tables, and figures from the Pendragon family sat on the table, including Raven.
Raven had dressed up in plain and comfortable clothing, and Luna and Lindsay also had plain dresses. However, their beauty was enough to catch everyone’s eyes. But there was another reason people kept stealing glances.
A being sat still like a stone statue without a single word, as if they were alone in this noisy place. Her eyes were as clear and calm as a crystal, and they emitted a mysterious light. Her beauty was great, and her appearance was out of this world.
In a way, her appearance was like that of a teenager, but on the other hand, she felt mature and glamorous. No one dared to look directly at her. She had not been introduced, but people instinctively guessed her identity from who she was sitting next to.
‘White Dragon Soldrake. I cannot believe that a real dragon is taking on human form…’
He was usually calm and cautious, but even Dos Giovanni could not help but tremble at the excitement of actually seeing a legendary creature in person.
“We are very lucky today, wouldn’t you agree?”
Muland whispered from next to him, and Giovanni nodded lightly.
“The contracts have been written up successfully, and I got to see the White Dragon in person, so I can agree that we are very lucky.”
“But why do you think the White Dragon suddenly came? She was not here yesterday.”
Merchants from the same table perked their ears at Muland’s curiosity.
“To remind us that this is the Pendragon Duchy.”
As Muland showed his confusion, Giovanni turned his eyes away from Soldrake and looked straight at Muland before continuing.
“Griffons, orc warriors, and a dragon. Is there any power in the empire with this composition?”
Muland shut his mouth in bewilderment.
“You, and those who sent you here. You were all curious, were you not? About the exact situation of the Pendragon Duchy. You must have been wondering if the rumors were true, that they really did have griffons, orcs, and a dragon under complete control.”
“Oh, no, well..”
Giovanni spoke in a colder voice when Muland awkwardly tried to evade the question.
“That is what His Grace Alan Pendragon is showing. It is better to display their power in a situation like this.”
The surrounding tables were still noisy, but a silence descended on their table. Each of the merchants sank into deep thought with serious expressions. After moistening his throat with some wine, Giovanni spoke again.
“Should I tell you something more interesting, or scary?”
Their gazes headed back.
“What… is it?”
“ That lady sitting at the end of His Grace’s table is the esteemed daughter of Count Seyrod. Also, the daughter of Count Bresia is in Conrad Castle. She was sent by the High Lord of Sisak himself.”
The eyes of the merchants trembled.
“The heir to the Ramelda family, which will soon become lord over an independent territory, is staying in Conrad Castle as well. You all know what this means.”
It was obvious to everyone who wasn’t a fool. The Pendragon Duchy had already completed all preparations to expand its power beyond their territory into the midwest and central regions of the empire.
“The being in the middle of everything, that is His Grace Alan Pendragon. He is someone who will soon receive the title of Duke Pendragon from the Royal Batallium. Someone who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Prince Ian Aragon.”
At Giovanni’s last words, the merchants’ shoulders trembled as if they had been struck by lightning. At the same time, Alan Pendragon, who was chatting while lightly holding the back of Baroness Conrad’s hand, turned his head as if he had felt the merchants’ gazes.
The moment they faced the deep, blue eyes, they realized. They should not be rejoicing at the fact they had succeeded in signing their contracts. It was not a time to be satisfied at quenching their curiosities.
Eye of the storm. Alan Pendragon was someone who would shake the entire empire. And the hand he hinted at today was not an absolute one.
“They have already started the flow, His Grace and the duchy. The flow itself is one of the most powerful hands he has, along with himself, who created the flow.”
Giovanni rose from his seat after those words. But until he exited the hall, none of the merchants could utter a word.
“You could have left tomorrow morning.”
“I have already finished my business. It is better to return quickly and ready ourselves for His Grace’s next move.” Giovanni said with closed eyes inside the swaying carriage.
“His next move would be…”
“We need to prepare for when he comes to the empire’s capital.”
“Well, that might be difficult. The capital is bustling with sly beasts. Even if Prince Ian is looking after him…”
“No, it might be the opposite.”
When his subordinate asked with surprise, Giovanni slowly opened his eyes and answered.
“The imperial castle, the Royal Batallium, is at war. The wolves and the lion’s cubs are at each other’s throats for the position of the next emperor. The Pendragon’s young dragon will be going on an ambitious undertaking…”
Giovanni closed his eyes after his remark.
Ten days later, one man and woman crossed the Ronan Bridge out from the Pendragon Duchy’s territory on top of two ordinary black horses with their heads covered in hoods. And that night, some keen observers saw a giant object flying north, across the dark night sky.Previous Chapter Next Chapter