Chapter 115

“Hmm..”

Raven had a troubled look on his face for a moment, then answered the question with a light sigh.

“Well, originally, it would be appropriate for me to take Irene along. Sir Ron recommended that. But the duchess told me to take you with me.”

“The… duchess?”

“Yes, she... well, she had a valid reason. Besides, Irene is so conspicuous so it would have been troubling to take her.”

Regardless of anything else, his primary goal was to quickly and quietly reach the imperial castle. That was the reason he was not accompanied by any knights or attendants, even though he was on his way to the imperial castle in order to meet the emperor.

There was a suitable reason and purpose behind his actions.

But such reason and purpose belonged to Raven and Vincent, while Elena had another agenda.

That was…

‘To come back with a child… No matter how hard I try, I can’t say that with my own mouth.’

Raven glanced at Lindsay with awkwardness. Her innocent face was full of curiosity and concern, and a bittersweet laugh escaped Raven’s mouth as he saw such expression.

‘Me? Start a family…?’

The mere thought of it made him feel bitter.

Aside from the fact that the other person was Lindsay, the very notion of making love was a strange topic for him. Although he now lived as Alan Pendragon, it was something that was forbidden for the illegitimate son of an extinct family who walked the path of blood and war.

Most of all, it was difficult to imagine what kind of expressions Lindsay and the other members of his family would make if they found out who he really was - a member of a dark, murderous organization who did everything to survive.

He felt as if a cold dagger was held against his throat.

“Your Grace, Are you… all right?”

Raven lifted his head at Lindsay’s worried voice. Looking at her large eyes filled with genuine concern somehow made him feel a little bit at ease.

‘Yes, just for now, this…’

“No, nothing.”

“Yes.”

Raven smiled at the change in Lindsay’s expression. She was just like a puppy whose reaction changed depending on its owner’s mood.

“But, Your Grace.”

“Hmm?”

“Well… you said that you would call Lady Irene to the imperial castle later, right? But the year will have ended by then, would that not be too late?”

“You don’t have to worry about that. Perhaps a few days after we arrive at the imperial castle, Irene will arrive with the duchess and Mia.”

“Huh…?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Lindsay showed confusion, but Raven responded with a grin.

The empire would be shocked greatly when all the members of the Pendragon family gathered together.

‘Anyways, I hope that brave brat stays calm until winter comes…’

Even though she was not his real family, Raven knew how much Irene cared for him, and he knew what kind of person she was, so he licked his lips with concern. However, he did not know that the brave brat had already run away from home to chase after him, and that she had just arrived at the village he just left.

***

“Kieeing?”

“What’s wrong?”

After entering the rather large Hoffman Village, Irene lowered her head as Kazzal pricked up his ears.

“Master Pendragon went over there. And over there. But the smell is the strongest here.”

Kazzal pointed at the village’s roads, then to a small pub and inn.

“Did brother Alan stay there for the night? Maybe he is still in town? Right, let’s go into the pub and find out. If he is not here, then we can continue to follow the road.”

“That sounds good.”

Kazzal nodded his head, then immediately jumped down the saddle.

“Make sure the hood is fully covering your face. There will be trouble if they figure out that you are a goblin. And don’t say a word.”

“Do not worry, Kehe! Handsome Kazzal is quick-witted!”

While Kazzal tightened his hood, an errand boy came running towards them.

“Welcome, he looks quite healthy. Would you like for me to take care of him?”

“W, we came to find someone. Y, you just need to give him some water.”

The person’s face was not visible under the hood, but the awkward voice definitely belonged to a woman.

“What? Ah, yes. Then you can tie the reins just over there.”

“Here, take this.”

She searched for a coin then handed it over, before dismounting the horse and entering the pub alongside Kazzal.

“Thank you, customer!”

“Yeah.”

Irene inwardly called for joy at the sight of the boy lowering his head.

‘I did it. Wasn’t I quite natural?’

She was entering a pub by herself for the first time in her life, and she was proud of herself for remaining cool and handling it well.

As expected, frequently reading adventure novels came in handy. But the real adventure was only just beginning.

In the novels she read, pubs were filled with all sorts of humans. Swindlers who could even steal your liver in a blink of the eye, women dressed in revealing clothes who seduced men, as well as others.

But Irene shook her head hard. She had experienced homelessness for the past several days. She would surely be able to get through this trial as well.

Dangle!

She pressed down on her beating chest and opened the doors to the pub. A musky scent invaded her nostrils.

Was this finally the beginning?

“Huh?”

Lifting her hood slightly, Irene became wide-eyed at the sight that unfolded in front of her. The pub was far from what she had read in novels. It was quite plain and neat, although not splendid, and brightly lit.

In addition, ordinary men were drinking beers with sticky, steaming dishes in front of them, while female employees wearing aprons moved busily about, taking orders or delivering dishes.

There was only one table that seemed to consist of mercenaries, and they did not seem drunk nor fierce.

“It’s just a restaurant…”

Feeling relief and regret simultaneously, Irene moved to an empty table by the window.

“Welcome! Is it just the two of you? What can I get you?”

The employee, who was not so different from the maids of Conrad Castle, asked in a cheerful voice, and Irene responded with a stutter.

“Ah, we, well... W, what do you… have?”

“Hmm?”

The employee was a little surprised because it was unusual for a woman to come to a pub alone, but she replied with a smile after picking up on the cues.

“It must be your first time here. Here, please take your time.”

The employee held out the menu towards Irene. She recognized that Irene was a lady of a noble family, as she was accompanied by a small boy who appeared to be his attendant. She was also wearing a robe and boots that were very luxurious, although they were dusty.

Around half of the commoners that visited the pub did not know how to read, so they had to recite the menu for them, but it was okay to hand the menu to nobles.

“Well… I will have two warm glasses of milk…please. And I also need to ask you something…”

“Yes, of course. But I am a little busy right now, so please ask me when I bring the milk you ordered.”

Even though the customer was exceedingly awkward, the waitress could see she was trying to be considerate. She turned around after a wink.

“Phew…”

“Elf Pendragon, just now, it was so awkward….”

“One more word, dragon food.”

“Keuap.”

Kazzal started to whisper in a low voice, then quickly closed his mouth. Irene regained her composure while waiting for the milk, and she took a careful look around the pub.

The first floor alone had around 30 customers, and the atmosphere was quite lively.

“Hmm?”

Someone caught her eye.

While all the guests were sitting in groups of two or three, one person was sitting alone. It was a young man with bright blond hair, and a rather stubborn-looking set of eyes.

‘Is he around the same age as my brother? Hmm, he has a pretty good sword.’

The young man, who appeared to be around twenty years old, had a blade covered with a dark, leather sheath on the table.

‘He must have been using it for quite a while. I guess he has some skills.’

The Pendragon family was a family that represented the empire’s knights and valued the art of battle. Even though Irene was a girl, she had an eye for armor and weapons, unlike other aristocratic ladies.

The black grip of the young man’s sword was smooth and had jewels embedded between the pommel and the guard. It seemed to be an antique weapon that had quite a history.

“Here are your two glasses of milk.”

“Ah…. Thank you.”

“You are welcome. By the way, you said you wanted to ask about something?”

The employee spoke with a gentle smile. Irene became startled and quickly nodded.

“Yes. Did a young couple, around 20 years of age, stay in this inn in the past two days? The man is the coolest and most reliable man in the world, and the woman is very cute and nice and… uh… has big boobs.”

“Hoho! I do not know if they were the coolest and most reliable in the world, but there certainly was a young couple who stayed here that fits your description…”

“I’m telling you the truth!”

Suddenly, the table that sat three mercenaries became rowdy, and Irene and the employee turned their heads towards the commotion.

The group was sitting about three tables away, and talking loudly with a slight flush on their faces from drinking alcohol.

“Ah, I’m telling you! I saw it in Sisak!”

“Even so, how can one person deal with dozens of…”

“Ha! I told you several times that I saw it with my own two eyes. And that knight named Isla, he was so skilled with the spear. His spearmanship was so beautiful, it was like watching the autumn leaves fall.”

“Isla?”

Irene narrowed her eyes upon hearing the familiar name.

“I hear he’s a Cavalier from Valvas. His spear was so fast, one could not even see its movements.”

“My friend, only your bluffing skills have increased since I last saw you.”

“I’m telling you, it’s not a bluff. Don’t you know? The knight named Isla knocked down an orc warrior in Leus, and Lord Pendragon cut off the arm of Toleo Arangis, the demon of the islands.”

“Hmph! I heard that His Grace Pendragon drugged Toleo Arangis’ drink. Honestly, do you really believe he beat him in a fair fight? Even if he contracted with a dragon, how could a brat, who is not even twenty, cut off the arm of Toleo Arangis in an official duel?”

“Well, that’s true, but…”

“Everything that happened in Sisak was taken care of by the dragon. It’s no different from fraud. I mean, he poked his nose into a local dispute, which wasn’t even at the level of a war. Besides, then, he kidnapped someone’s daughter using the dragon.”

“I guess…. That probably is true.”

The mercenary, who had brought up the topic, became a little sullen. But someone was listening on in their conversation. Someone who respected and loved their brother to the ends of the earth. She was furious.

“Hey…”

“How disrespectful!”

Irene was about to get up from her chair, but someone beat her to the punch. Someone had jumped out of his seat and shouted at the group of mercenaries.

“Huh?”

The mercenaries, Irene, and even the other guests all turned their gazes to the source of the voice. The voice belonged to none other than the young man who had been sitting alone. He had his fists clasped tightly and glared at the mercenaries with furious eyes.

“Hey, young man, are you talking to us right now?”

A mercenary asked as if he was dumbfounded, and the young man responded, sharpening his gaze like a blade.

“That is right. You are criticizing the man who heeded the imperial order to discover the full extent of the rebellion and identified the true, evil traitor! Moreover, the duel between His Grace Alan Pendragon and Toleo Arangis in Leus was perfectly fair. His swordsmanship was rather anomalous, but he was strong beyond belief. There were no schemes or…”

“Ha! What the hell are you talking about? Hey, did you see it personally? Hmm? You talk as if you were there! I’m asking you, did you see it personally?”

“Well, of cours…”

The young man was about to shout again, then suddenly hesitated and closed his mouth. The mercenaries slowly stood up and snorted at the sight.

“Hmph! A little brat dares to make such fraudulent claims?”

“Kehaha! I know, right. Hey, baby. The duel in Leus happened in Governor Sagunda’s mansion. Any nobles who did not have the invitation were driven out at the entrance. And you think you could possibly….? Kuhaha!”

The mercenaries were not wrong.

As they said, the duel in Leus had taken place at a banquet hosted by Count Sagunda, and only high-ranking nobles were invited. However, the young man in front of them was dressed like a commoner that could be found anywhere.

“It seems you read quite a few novels for you to be acting this cocky. Hey brat, you should watch your attitude.”

“Whew~ look, his sword is pretty nice. Where did you find this? Did you sell everything you had and picked it up in the marketplace?”

One of the mercenaries strode to the table and reached out for the sword that was lying on the table. The young man’s eyebrows distorted, and he picked up his sword like lightning.

Then…

Wooong!

“Kiyaah!”

A brilliant blade was revealed in the sun, and it emitted a cold glow. A startled waitress let out a scream. In addition, the atmosphere surrounding the mercenaries changed instantaneously.

“You little bastard, you drew your sword first!”

They were third-rate mercenaries, but it wasn’t like they had never killed a man before.

Shing.

The mercenaries slowly pulled out daggers and axes from their waists.

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