Chapter 117

“Huh?”

“Hmm?”

Raven and Lindsay were riding their horses along the leafy forest path covered with the flavor of autumn. Both of them turned their heads at the same time. They thought they heard a familiar voice from nearby. But it was impossible for the owner of the voice to be in this place, so Raven shrugged.

“I must have heard wrong.”

“I think so.”

Lindsay replied with a smile. But then the two looked at each other. Not just one person, but both of them had heard a certain someone’s voice.

“Just now…”

“That voice…”

A momentary silence followed, then both of them turned their horses around simultaneously. Raven narrowed his eyes. He could see a horse coming towards them from a distance.

“Brotheeeerrr!”

“What…?”

Raven became shocked at the sound. He had not seen wrong. The person who was waving at him from the back of the horse, was his sister Irene Pendragon, who was supposed to be back in Conrad Castle. She was riding on top of a horse, behind an unknown man.

“Hmm?”

But the bewilderment only lasted a moment, and Raven once again narrowed his eyes. There were three horses following right behind Irene, and armed men were riding on their backs.

“Lindsay, go hide over there for a moment.”

“Yes, Your Grace!”

Lindsay also noticed the strangeness of the situation and headed into the forest. She dismounted the horse, tied it to a nearby tree, then lowered her posture.

Raven hurried back towards Irene.

***

“Stop! Stop!”

“No, what are you talking about!”

“Did you not hear me? That is my brother!”

“That is Handsome Kazzal’s master! His smell for sure!”

“Stop with the crazy talk! You don’t know what kind of situation we are in right now!”

As soon as she saw the two horses in the far distance, she had started screaming ‘brother’ over and over again. Her unusual attitude and gibberish was literally driving the young man crazy.

If the person that was heading back towards them was a mercenary, it could result in a disaster. They could hire the mercenary on the spot, but he did not have money, and the girl did not seem like she had money either.

Moreover, mercenaries had a strong sense of belonging and did not antagonize each other for no reason unless they met on the battlefield. There was a high possibility that the man would side with those who were chasing after them.

But the immature, crazy girl kept spouting nonsense and continued to be stubborn. She seemed completely clueless as to the predicament they were currently in.

“What did you say? Crazy talk? You just wait! Ah! Brother!”

“Irene!”

“Yes! It’s me, Irene!”

It wasn’t until the man was quite close that the young man noticed the two seemed to know each other.

‘Are they really siblings? Dammit! I can’t help it.”

The young man pulled on the reins.

“Brother! Brother!”

Irene and Kazzal jumped off the horse and ran towards Raven.

“Yes, it’s me. Now, calm down.”

Raven was briefly taken back at the sight of Irene’s tears as she clung to his legs, but he turned his gaze. The young man seemed to be at a loss of what to do, and the three men shortly caught up to them and stopped their horses.

“Kuhaha! You finally gave up!”

“You damned little brats… hmm?”

The three mercenaries furrowed their eyes when they saw Raven. In particular, they noticed the sword that was sticking out of the baggage on Raven’s horse, and exchanged a gaze with each other.

“Hey, buddy. We have business to take care of with those brats over there.”

“It might be better for you to go your own way instead of poking your nose into someone else’s business.”

“……”

Raven briefly glanced over the three mercenaries, then turned to the young man.

“Explain what is going on.”

“Well, Brother! I was…”

“Not you.”

“……”

Irene quickly shut up at Raven’s cold voice. She felt so dejected at her brother’s cold attitude that she almost burst out crying. She had come all this way because she wanted to see him. But the fear she felt was greater than her sadness. There was no brother in the world who would go easy on his runaway sister.

“Well, that’s…”

“As simple and as short as possible.”

The young man came to his senses when Raven spoke in an icy voice, and he hurriedly continued.

“A little while ago, we got into a quarrel in a pub. This lady defended me against those men. They tried threatening her, so I took her and ran away together.”

“Ha! You brat, you need to set things straight. Hey, friend, this little girl lied to us.”

“You were the ones who initiated it! You told blatant lies and insulted the Pendragon family!”

The young man became agitated and raised his voice. The mercenaries snorted.

“Hmph! And what proof do you have against us? What, are you going to tell us that you were in Count Sagunda’s mansion in Leus again?”

“Well, that’s…”

The young man shut his mouth and the mercenaries giggled. Raven dropped his eyes towards his sister. Irene’s face and clothes were messy and full of dust. He saw the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes as she grabbed onto his leg, and roughly grasped the situation.

They must have gotten into a quarrel at the pub, and Irene must have attempted to resolve the situation by revealing her identity. But with her current appearance, no one would have believed her.

“Did you reveal your identity?”

Irene bowed her head deeply in shame.

“Ye, yes… I’m sorry, Brother. They were insulting the Pendragon family, and I tried to defend our family’s honor…”

“……”

Raven silently stared at his sister. He could imagine how much trouble she had gone through for her to look so haggard and sordid. For nobles, honor was sometimes more important than their very lives.

He himself had fought for his life to restore honor to the Valt family. But Irene was not a grown man like himself. She was just a young girl who had run away from home. She must have known that her efforts would have been wasted if she revealed her identity, and that she might have been endangered.

Even so, Irene Pendragon stepped up to defend her family’s honor in the face of tough mercenaries.

“Well, good job.”

Raven stretched his hand and patted Irene’s tangled hair.

“W, what?’

She was ready to be punished, but then she felt her brother’s soft touch on her head. She lifted her head. She felt all the tension leaving her body at the sight of her brother’s faint smile.

“Kazzal, take Irene and go over there. Lindsay should be there, so you three stay together.”

“G, got it, Master Pendragon!”

Kazzal led Irene away in a hurry.

“B, brother.”

“Don’t worry.”

Raven reassured Irene in a calm voice, and Irene soon nodded before following Kazzal.

“Have you gone mad? How dare you!”

A mercenary tried to block Irene’s way with his horse. As he was about to pass by Raven…

Woosh! Thud!

“Argh!”

A flitting shadow struck the mercenary on the head, and he fell off the back of his horse.

“Hm?”

“You, you bastard!”

Infuriated at the sight of their comrade falling, the mercenaries hurriedly drew their weapons. The young man also stared at Raven in shock.

Then, Raven slowly took off his hood.

“…huh?”

The young man stared intently. Disheveled brown hair, and a pair of bright blue pupils. The hair style and color were different, but the man’s eyes looked oddly familiar…

“Ahhh!”

The young man slowly raised his trembling finger towards Raven in shock.

“Surely… I, it can’t be…”

But Raven ignored the young man and turned towards the two remaining mercenaries with his scabbard slung over his shoulder.

“That child is my sister.”

“W, what?”

“It would be a waste of time to try and explain, so let’s start with a beating.”

The mercenaries’ eyes filled with killing intent.

“You crazy bastard…”

Whoosh!

One of the mercenaries threw a dagger without any notice, cutting his words short. Raven leaned to the side to avoid the projectile, then pulled out his scimitar before driving his horse between the two mercenaries.

“Bastard!”

“Die!”

A battle axe and a sword drew an arc through the air, but Raven’s movements were much faster. He leaned forward to avoid the battle axe, then struck the mercenary on the left by swinging his scabbard towards the mercenary’s head. At the same time, he deflected the other blade with ease and drove the back of his weapon into the man’s shoulder.

“Gahh!”

It only took one strike each to disable both mercenaries, and both of them fell off their horses. One had his shoulder bones broken, and the other, his ribs.

“Ugh!”

Even though they were third-rate, they had quite a bit of experience under their belt. After rolling on the ground, they quickly stood back up. Raven dismounted his horse and slowly walked towards them.

“Y, you bastard. Do you think you will get away with this?”

“You stand on the side of a girl who impersonated a noble, and dare attack mercenaries without a reason? You crazy bastard!”

“I told you, didn’t I? I said I will explain the reason later. And I already have sufficient reason to give you guys a beating.”

“What…?”

“You dared to lift your weapons towards my sister.”

Woosh!

A bluish spark appeared in his eyes. Raven suddenly sprang towards the mercenaries like a tiger.

“Gaahh!”

The two mercenaries swung their weapons reflexively, attempting to resist the unavoidable as the predator jumped on the prey. But they had already suffered a fractured bone, and they could not stop Raven as he poured down a series of blows.

Thud! Bam!

“Gaaah!”

“Ah! Arghh!”

A continuous sound of heavy blows. One could feel their body and bones aching just from the sound of the dull blows. The two mercenaries had every nook and cranny of their bodies beaten by Raven’s scabbard and the dull edge of his blade. They eventually fell down, their bodies as stiff as a log.

“Phew…”

Slowly catching his breath, Raven put his scimitar back into the sheath and turned around.

“Gah!”

The young man had been watching the bloody scene unfold, and he recoiled when Raven turned his gaze on him.

It was certain.

The scimitar was a weapon commonly used by the warriors of Aslan, the desert kingdom. The young man had recently seen someone wield the scimitar proficiently, and he could never forget the face of the man, as well as the sapphire blue eyes…

“Pe… Pe….”

“What are you doing? Tie these bastards up.”

“Ye, yes!”

Raven took out some rope from his waist and threw it at the young man, and the young man hurriedly dragged the three mercenaries under a tree and tied them up.

‘I’m not wrong. He’s the real deal. He’s Alan Pendragon. Then that means the crazy girl from before…’

“Stop with the crazy talk!”

The young man recalled his own words from earlier and felt his mind go numb.

***

“Ugahh….”

Two of the mercenaries regained consciousness after a while. Their bodies were in pain from the beating and the broken bones, but they were still able to realize their current conditions. They frowned and looked around.

Raven slowly walked towards them, and their faces paled at the sight.

“P, please let us live.”

“There is no use killing us. Everyone in the pub saw us go after that girl. She committed a crime of impersonating a noble, so, so…”

“I won’t kill you.”

“Y, yes?”

“Rather, you guys are the criminals here. But such things happen in life, so I’ll let you off with a beating.”

“What do you mean?”

“I heard that my sister identified herself? I heard you did not believe her and tried to threaten her.”

“No, what the…”

The two mercenaries were confused at the situation.

“Uh….”

At that moment, the mercenary who had been the first to pass out, finally woke up.

“W, what’s going…”

The mercenary looked around with a deep frown, then met Raven’s gaze.

“….Huh?”

The mercenary stared at Raven’s face with a dazed expression, then opened his eyes in shock. The hair was different, but he had seen the same attire and face in the town of Toro, the Ramelda family’s land.

“Gaah!”

“Hm, you seem a little familiar.”

The mercenary looked as if he had seen a ghost, and Raven carefully observed him while stroking his chin. Drool started flowing down the mercenary’s chin, and he uttered a single phrase.

“Y, your Grace Pendragon!”

“W, what?”

“Huh?”

The other two mercenaries also trembled in shock.

“Hmm, yes. I saw you in the village of Toro. You fought at the request of Sir Ramelda, right?”

“Ye, ye, yes! That’s right! That… I fought in that battle!”

“Heuk…”

The eyes of the two mercenaries dimmed as they watched their colleague spitting out his words. He had taken part in the conflict between the Ramelda family and the Tylen family a few months ago, and he had personally witnessed Alan Pendragon, his knight Elkin Isla, and the White Dragon in action.

However, he was so proud that he rambled on and on about the story whenever he had a drink. The other two had gotten so annoyed, albeit a bit jealous, that they had intentionally spoken in a demeaning matter.

“T, then…”

The two turned their heads at the same time. A girl was standing in the distance while glancing towards them.

It was real. The crazy girl who had made a fuss in the pub was really a Pendragon. And when they realized the identity of the man who stood in front of them, the guilty party was…

“Do you understand the situation now?”

“……!”

The bodies of the mercenaries trembled like twigs at the words that sent a chill down their backs, a chill that was even colder than the winds that blew from the dark forest.

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