Chapter 118

“We deserve to die!”

“Please, please forgive us just this once.”

The mercenaries bowed their heads and spoke in a trembling voice. Raven looked down at them and spoke.

“I heard that you said I used underhanded methods in cutting off the arm of Toleo Arangis in Leus.”

“That’s…”

“And that the battle in Sisak was exaggerated.”

“……”

The two mercenaries looked down miserably.

“Now that you’ve experienced it for yourself, what do you think? Is it exaggerated?”

“Oh, no! Absolutely not!”

They jerked their heads back up and responded.

“As long as you know. Hey.”

Raven let off a smirk while calling out. The young man hurried over from a distance.

“Let them go.”

“What?”

“Did you not hear me? Release them.”

“Yes, sir.”

The young man felt a chill as Raven’s blue eyes pierced into him. Wordlessly, he took out his dagger and cut the rope that was binding the mercenaries. After finally being freed, the mercenaries stood up while groaning in pain from the beatings. They were hesitant to take any action, so they stood in their spots while stealing small glances at Raven.

Raven glanced at Irene, then spoke to the mercenaries. 

“Originally, your crimes would have called for the death penalty, but I would not have believed her either in her current state. So your sins of insulting the Pendragon family and being rude to my sister, let’s call it even with the beating. Any objections?”

“None at all!”

The mercenaries were covered with bruises and felt the pain from cracks in their bones. They almost uttered some complaints but managed to hold it in and shook their heads. They were thankful that they got to avoid death, as they had shown disrespect for a direct descendant of a duchy. 

“Well, I’m glad to hear that there are no objections. You are all free to go.”

“Yes, yes!”

“Thank you! Thank you!”

The mercenaries nodded their heads frantically, then climbed on the backs of their horses. Soon, they were riding off into the distance as fast as they could, not daring to look back. 

Now that the situation had been resolved, Raven turned his head and met Irene’s eyes. She flinched and slowly moved behind Lindsay’s back as if she were trying to hide. However, Raven ignored Irene, who was twirling her fingers while hiding behind his wife.

Kazzal.”

“Yes! Master Pendragon!”

“You know what you would have become, right?”

“Kieee.. Dragon f, food.”

“Yes, but since you came all this way safely with Irene, I’ll let you off.”

Kazzal quickly raised his head at Raven’s words.

“Really? Handsome Kazzal is not going to be dragon food?”

“No, so go back to the castle and let them know Irene met up with me. You know what’s going to happen if you leak somewhere else on the way, right?”

“I know! I go straight to the castle! I’m going to get snacks from little Pendragon.”

“Okay. Take this with you.”

Raven took out some jerky from his bag and threw it at Kazzal.

“Got it! Handsome Kazzal will run without resting! While eating the delicious jerky!”

After receiving the food, Kazzal ran back the way he had come from, his legs moving so fast that they were just a blur. The chaotic atmosphere calmed down somewhat after Kazzal disappeared, and Raven moved his gaze to the last issue that needed to be taken care of.

“You. Where is your destination?”

“Ah, well… nowhere in particular.”

The young man raised his answer and answered in a rather awkward voice.

“Then you can come with us to a nearby village. We can talk while taking a rest.”

“What? Oh, yes, sir.”

The young man’s heart started to beat faster for some reason, and he quickly nodded his head. The four people started moving again, leaving behind the increasingly cold autumn breeze.

*** 

Just before sunset, a group of people entered a small village, then headed into a pub to take two moderately large rooms. Irene got to share a room with Lindsay, and she was able to take a nice, warm bath after a long time. But her heart was heavy due to her brother’s solemn silence the entire trip here. After a short rest, the four gathered in one room to have dinner.

There was a steaming meat stew served with fresh bread and glasses of sweet wine. The food was very good. But Irene felt as if she was sitting on thorns, and she barely ate as she kept glancing at her brother. Regardless of her constant gaze, Raven did not speak a word during the entire meal. Lindsay and the young man also ate in silence as they felt the tense atmosphere. As the awkward, uncomfortable dinner neared the end, Raven finally opened his mouth.

“Irene.”

“Ye, yes…”

“Do you know what you did wrong?”

“….I’m sorry, Brother. It’s all my fault.” Irene managed to respond. Even though she had prepared herself, she barely kept herself from crying at the coldness of her brother’s voice. 

“You are a lady of the Pendragon family. When I am not at the castle, it is your responsibility to look after Conrad Castle and the duchy. You, Irene Pendragon, have that duty as the eldest daughter of the Pendragon family.”

“……”

She could not find any words to say, so she bowed her head while tears formed in her eyes.

“But, you, who has such a responsibility, dares to leave the castle without any notice or permission? And with just one little goblin? What if something happened? Ultimately, you threw away the responsibilities and duties that you had as a Pendragon.”

“I… I….”

Tears finally started to flow down Irene’s fair face from the continuous reprimands. She was in the wrong, but she could not help feel dejected at her brother’s heartless words. 

A heavy silence followed. Tears kept flowing from Irene’s eyes, but she kept staring at the ground without moving, not daring to wipe her tears away. Raven stared at Irene for a while, then gave Lindsay a subtle look.

“Lady, here…”

“Thank you.”

Lindsay quickly took out her handkerchief and carefully held it out, and Irene wiped her tears and even her nose. 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Brother…”

Raven felt a little sorry to see that his sister’s face had turned so haggard in a few days, even though it had always been like a bright summer flower. He thought it would only be fair to hear her out and figure out why she left the castle.

“But you are not a child so you must have a reason why you ran away. Tell me why.”

Irene barely spoke while wiping away her tears.

“I wanted to go to the imperial castle with you.”

“Is that all?”

“……”

Irene hesitated for a moment. Her face turned red, and she lifted her head to look directly at Raven. Even though she was teary and haggard, she shook her head with a determined expression befitting the Pendragon family.

“No, there is another reason. I… I wanted to know the world. Not from reading books and hearing stories, I wanted to see and experience the world. With you, Brother.”

“Hmm…”

The unexpected answer surprised Raven. He knew that his sister was pretty and smart, and had a unique way of thinking, but he didn’t realize she would have these sorts of thoughts.

“As you said, I made a huge mistake as a Pendragon. I know I cannot make any excuses for my behavior. But… I don’t want a sheltered life where I live in the castle until I’m married off to some other noble family. Of course, I would do anything to help the family, but I wanted to know more about the world before that.”

“…...”

Her eyes were still moist, but she spoke her mind clearly. Raven looked at her with a fresh outlook. Irene Pendragon was certainly different from any other noble ladies. 

‘Now that I think about it…’

Even though she ran away from home, it would not be too difficult to find her from Conrad Castle. Even so, she passed through Bellint Gate and crossed Ronan bridge without any trouble or interception. It was clear that Elena condoned Irene’s decision and supported her from the shadows.

‘The duchess knows why this child left the castle.’

Elena was wise. There was no way she did not grasp the thoughts of her own daughter. She must have guessed everything and left the decision up to him, whether to take her along to the imperial castle or to send her back to the castle. It was his decision to make.

‘Truly…’

Like mother, like daughter. Raven gave a bitter smile. Now that it had come to this, he had no other choice.

“I understand your thoughts. But that does not correct your mistakes. So as your brother, and as the family head…”

Irene anxiously waited for Raven’s next words in a dispirited mood. She would be sent back to the castle. The hardships she had suffered over the past few days and the details of her first adventure seemed to flash before her eyes.

“I have decided to take you along to the imperial castle.”

Irene widened her eyes.

“Ah….!”

“As you wanted, see the world outside the duchy and experience it with your own eyes. I will watch over you as your guardian.”

“B, brother…”

Irene’s eyes started to fill with tears once more, but Raven continued his next words with a grim expression.

“However, from now on, you must follow my words under every circumstance. If something similar to today happens, I will send you back to the castle immediately.”

“Of course! Irene will obey Brother’s words! I will take care of you, Brother! I’m even good at living in the wild now!”

She clenched her small fist, and Raven barely managed to suppress a laugh.

“We have two ladies, do you think we would sleep outside? You do not need to worry about that. By the way, do you know why I forgave you?”

“Well, I’m not sure…”

In her heart, she screamed, ‘Because I’m the prettiest and nicest sister in the world!’, but she shook her head while feigning ignorance.

“The men from before. If you had not revealed your identity, and if they chased after you for other reasons, I would have punished you and immediately sent you back to the castle.”

“Ah…”

“It was obviously wrong to leave the castle without permission. But you fulfilled your duty to the honor of the Pendragon family. That is why I am forgiving you.”

“What? Of course. It was the right thing to do.”

She twisted her body in embarrassment, and Raven had to stop himself from laughing once more. He reminded her solemnly.

“Once again, such things should never happen in the future. Do you understand?”

“Yes! Hehe!”

Irene grinned brightly as if she had never cried. The atmosphere brightened instantly, and Raven also smiled faintly.

“That’s great, my lady!”

“I’m sorry, Baroness. I know you were having a very cozy time traveling with Brother, but I just stepped in and ruined everything.”

“Oh, no, my lady. I am fine. Now, I can take care of you from now on.”

“You really don’t have to worry about that. I will not bother you two.”

“N, no, it’s nothing like that…”

“Ah, yeah! Do you want a separate room?”

“Lady Irene…”

‘What a troublesome child. Anyways…’

Raven looked over the two ladies with a content expression. As he looked around, a frown appeared when he noticed something.

“Hey.”

“…yeah? Yes!”

The young man was staring at Irene with a dazed expression, and when Raven called out, he became surprised and straightened up before answering. Lindsay and Irene’s gazes also naturally turned to the young man.

“Thank you for helping my sister, but who are you?”

“I, I am…”

The young man’s body became more rigid.

“When those mercenaries insulted our family and you, Brother, he stood up for us.”

“Really? Hmm…”

Raven took a closer look at the young man at Irene’s words. He seemed to be around twenty years old, and he was quite handsome. He had a short moustache, obviously grown to appear older, a straight nose, and thick lips. He looked quite manly and upright. But Raven never judged anyone based on their appearance. 

“When we first met, you seemed to recognize me from somewhere. Who are you, and where are you from?”

“I…”

Raven’s low, cold voice seemed to pierce straight through, and the young man’s eyes started trembling even more.

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