The Pendragon Duchy.
The road heading towards Bellint Gate was quite well maintained. Travelers pulled up their collars in the chilly wind and the occasional carriage could be spotted. A pony with a small bundle on its side could be seen trudging along.
The rider of the pony, as well as the person walking alongside the creature, were both dressed in a thick robe, and had their hoods pressed down deeply. However, given that one person was walking and the other was riding, their identity could be assumed to be that of a noble and a servant.
“Oh! Why is it so slow? Hey, we are on the right track, right?”
The rider snarled, and the walker raised his head.
“T, that is right. Handsome Kazzal knows the smell of Master Pendragon.”
The identity of the walker, who nodded his head several times, was none other than Kazzal.
“It has already been four days. Brother must have already passed Bellint Gate… When are we going to catch up with him?”
“That is why handsome Kazzal said we should buy a big horse.”
“How many times do I have to tell you? I did not bring enough money because I was in a hurry. And I am a noble lady! I don’t have to spend any money in the castle! Ah!”
A gust of wind blew off the rider’s hood and revealed her identity. It was a slim, white face with a slight blush. Her sparkling, large eyes were like sapphire, and her face was perfectly symmetrical. The identity of the beautiful girl was Irene Pendragon, the eldest daughter of the Pendragon family.
They had to be grateful that no one was around, or else she would have drawn attention to her beauty from both men and women alike. Kazzal laughed as he stared at Irene’s beautiful face.
“Elf Pendragon is so ugly. Little Pendragon is ugly, but elf Pendragon is even uglier. You should cover yourself, I would be embarrassed to show my face if I was you.”
Kazzal was a goblin, and for goblins, the most hideous race was the elf. And in Kazzal’s eyes, Irene Pendragon’s beauty was comparable to the legendary elves.
“Yes, yes, all right.”
Irene was well aware of the fact that goblin’s aesthetic standards were the complete opposite of humans, so she smiled and pulled up her hood after raising her silk-made face cover.
“This won’t do. You get on as well. If we keep our current speed, we are sure to be caught by the people from the castle. We should cross the gate today just to be safe.”
“Kehet! Good idea. Elf Pendragon, so ugly, but you have a good head.”
Irene knew that being called ugly by a goblin was a compliment, but it felt quite uncomfortable being called ugly over, and over again. She felt the desire to give a good knock on the goblin’s head, then remembered how her brother dealt with Kazzal.
“You, if you say I’m ugly one more time, I will throw you as the dragon’s food.”
The effect was immediate.
“Elf Pendragon is the prettiest in the world! So beautiful, and so generous!”
“Good, now, let’s go. Giddy up!”
The pony busily moved its short legs when the reins were snapped. But in the end, it was only a pony, and it could only run as fast as an average human.
Perhaps due to the pony’s movement, but Irene’s heart started beating rapidly. It was the first time she left the castle alone, even though she had threatened Kazzal into accompanying her.
‘What if brother Alan becomes angry at me? Ah! His angry face is so handsome too, but… it still might be a little scary.’
She could imagine her brother’s chilly eyes, staring at her with coldness and intensity like that of the northern countries’ cold winds. Nevertheless, Irene bit her small lips and shook her head.
‘No, I made the right choice. You cannot leave me behind when you are heading to the imperial castle. Both brother and sister Lindsay would have been gone, so what would I do in the castle for fun?”
At best, she would play Reversi with Sophia while exchanging a very polite conversation. She would be stuck with nothing to do for the entire fall and winter. Like the years after her brother collapsed, she would become lonely again.
‘I… don’t want to be lonely anymore.’
Irene pressed her hand to her teary eyes.
After her brother woke up, each and every day was pleasant. It was not entirely due to the fact that she was having fun, but it was also nice to see the atmosphere of the castle and the duchy change.
Before, Conrad Castle was dead. Everyone smiled every time they saw her, but it was empty and devoid of any real emotions. But now, the castle and the duchy were alive.
Everyone liked the new knights and the members of the other races. They breathed life into and changed the duchy for the better. Even Mia, who had not laughed or cried for many years, had been changing recently. Frequent laughter could be heard.
And… it was her brother Alan, who had made all of it possible and drove away her loneliness.
‘Me too... I am going to change too, brother.’
She did not want to live a stale life where she would be married off to some random nobility and grow up old as a decorative flower. Everyone was working hard, doing something for the family and the duchy, so she could not stop where she was. But she did not know her purpose yet, and she did not know if what she was doing was the right thing.
Even so, she had to leave the castle. She firmly believed that only Alan Pendragon, the man who led the duchy’s change, could change her and guide her towards her own path.
“Help me lead your weak, ugly sister, Brother Alan…”
“Oh? You called yourself ugly, so..”
“Human, goblins. Humility is our best quality. Elf Pendragon is more beautiful because she is so humble.”
“It’s good that you know.”
After giving a light, playful bump on Kazzal’s head, Irene Pendragon, who would soon become a proud lady of the Pendragon family, snapped the reins of her pony with renewed vigor.
Jody watched as the pony moved further away, and turned his head.
“Did you send the harpy?”
“Yeah, I gave it a letter and sent it to Bellint Gate. It said that the duchess gave permission, and that they should let her through and feign ignorance.”
“Good. The lord should be going slowly since there is no rush. The lady should be able to catch up in five days. We have to get to Ronan Bridge anyways, so we can keep following her while we do our jobs.”
“Yes, by the way, she is truly unbelievable. To take a goblin, and not even a single maid with her to run away from home. I really can’t believe it.”
Scylla grinned while looking at Irene, riding a pony in the far distance.
“Haha! She also carries the blood of Pendragon in her, that’s for sure. Anyways, Gus will take care of the front, so we need to take care of the lady from the back.”
“I think we have an easy job. I found out that they bought everything they need at the market. Dried raisins, salt, wine. Whew, I wonder where a prestigious lady learned such things.”
“The Pendragon family goes hunting quite often. I also heard that the lady is skilled with the bow. When she was young, she lost her way in the castle and everyone went crazy looking for her. Apparently, she survived two days while only drinking water and came back just fine.”
“Really? Both the brother and the sister are going to make it big.” Scylla spoke with awe with a shocked expression.
Certainly, the Pendragon family’s descendants were vastly different from the descendants of any other noble family.
“But you know what they say, as hard as one may try, one cannot beat their older brother. It would have been quite fun if we could have followed him to the capital.”
“I know. It would have been even better with Baroness Conrad coming along. Anyways, I would love to go on a trip with my own lover too. They must be crossing rainbows by now, right? I’m jealous, really, really, jealous.” Scylla sighed heavily.
“There is no need to be jealous. Who knows whether they are crossing rainbows or sitting on prickly thorns, hmm?”
“What? What do you mean?”
“There’s no need to fret it. Let’s just say even if the food is served on a silver platter... what use is it if one cannot eat it? Hehe…hehe" The laughter of the insidious middle-aged man scattered in the autumn breeze.
Raven scratched his ear with a slight frown. Strangely, his ears had been itching since earlier in the morning.
“Y, your Grace, please try some of this.”
A wooden bowl full of large chunks of seasoned meat with steam coming off of it. At first glance, it was obvious that one person could not finish all of it.
“Y, yes, thank you. Why don’t you have some as well?”
“I feel full just by watching Your Grace eat…”
“Uh… I see.”
Raven was at a loss for words. He looked at Lindsay, who was shyly batting her long eyelashes. She seemed to be making embarrassing remarks more frequently nowadays, reminding him of a certain someone. But Raven somehow preferred the other person, rather than Lindsay. Lindsay was still shy but still said everything she wanted.
“Ehem! The sun is about to set, and the weather is quite cold, so let’s stay here tonight.”
They had crossed Ronan Bridge just a while ago, and now they were in a pub and inn located in a village of the Seyrod territory. If he was traveling alone, Raven would have slept in the wilderness, but he was accompanied by Lindsay, and they were not in a hurry. It was better to have a normal trip for her sake, who always stood by his side without a word of complaint. Even though it was not lavish, Raven was being considerate of Lindsay.
“Yes… that sounds good to me.”
Noticing Raven’s small consideration, Lindsay nodded slightly. But Raven still felt bothered by the sight of her red-hot face, so he scratched his cheek helplessly and stabbed his fork into a piece of the meat.
A plate of three well-done eggs was placed on the table. Raven lifted his head and met the eyes of a smiling middle-aged woman.
“Oh my, the groom is quite pretty and handsome. The bride is also very timid and cute. Newlyweds?”
Raven was about to make an excuse, but Lindsay answered swiftly as if she had been waiting.
“That’s why the bride told me not to break the egg yolk! Hahaha! Now, eat this and save up some vigor for tonight! I’ll only charge for one egg, it’s on the house. Now, enjoy your food.”
“Ah! Thank you, thank you.”
Lindsay smiled brightly and bowed several times before turning to Raven.
“Two eggs, so we saved 20 coins! Tomorrow, we can use this for some meat… ah!”
Lindsay started to chatter excitedly, then closed her mouth with a blush. She was overjoyed with saving money, that she forgot who the man in front of her was. More so, what the pub hostess had just said…
“D, did you really… tell her not to pop the yolk?”
“Oh, he, uh, it’s… not what you are thinking of. Y, your Grace likes to have the yolk. Well, I, I only had a teensy thought about...”
“Well, I do like it like this. Delicious… It’s delicious…”
Raven attempted to tease Lindsay, but had the tables turned on him with the way she reacted. He shoved the egg in his mouth and made an awkward smile. Seeing Raven like that, Lindsay smiled brightly and played with her fingers with a shy expression.
‘I’m going to go insane.’
It had been so many days already, so why could he not get used to it?
Raven could not understand why he, who was once called the reaper of the battlefield, felt so embarrassed and shy in front of this innocent young lady. For god’s sake, he now had the identity of being master over the highly reputed Pendragon Duchy as well.
‘I would much rather if someone started a fight. Then I could just beat them up…’
But one thing was sure. He did not mind being here with Lindsay. Rather, he quite liked it.
Rather than eating all kinds of precious and delicious foods in Conrad Castle, he enjoyed eating the cheap and greasy food in a shabby restaurant. Moreover, the person sitting in front of him was a pretty girl who cared for him and liked him, and in any case, they were married.
For Raven, who spent nearly half of his life on the battlefield, his journey with Lindsay was more luxurious and precious than reveling in all the glory and honor as the Pendragon family’s heir.
“Um… what’s wrong? Is it not to your taste?”
Lindsay asked anxiously as Raven stayed silent. He felt touched. She cared for him even in these tiny details.
“No, it’s nothing. By the way, I think it is a market day in this town today. What do you think? Do you want to go out with me? We can buy some things we need as well.”
“Ah… yes, yes.”
Lindsay nodded wildly with her eyes widened like a rabbit.
The happiness that Raven Valt, the illegitimate child of a common noble family wished for, and the happiness that Lindsay Conrad, a commoner, wished for, were not so different after all.Previous Chapter Next Chapter