Chapter 121

The massive influx of people into the city due to the festival meant that the inns around the waterway were already occupied, as well as the luxury inns for rich nobles. But it was not hard for Raven’s group to find accommodation.

“Excuse me, sir, I’m sorry, but the empty rooms are…”

“They want the entire floor for four days.”

“We will serve you to the best of our abilities.”

At the sight of the five gold coins Raven held out, the owner of the pub quickly cleared out the top floor which he resided in with his family for the group to stay in. The five-story pub and inn was quite neat and tidy overall.

The top floor had four bedrooms and a spacious living room equipped with a blazing fireplace. It seemed quite comfortable for the group to stay in. 

“Please enjoy your stay. If you need anything, just let us know in the pub on the first floor.”

The owner of the inn politely guided the group to the room before leaving. He had been paid five gold coins for one room, which was the amount that would normally come from renting out all the rooms in the inn for ten days.  

While the two ladies and Leon unpacked, Raven lost himself in thought while adding more wood to the fireplace.

‘Do I need to find Argos first? Or…’

Most of the demonic army’s soldiers were vicious criminals who committed various crimes, but there were always some exceptions. Argos was one of them, and he was an exceptionally unusual case, being dragged to the demonic army at the age of forty eight. There was a simple reason why he was sentenced to the demonic army instead of receiving the death penalty or a labor sentence. Even though he was old, he was one of the rare skilled fighters.

‘With Argos, I will be able to make Leon into a useful fighter. But… I don’t know if Argos will listen to me.’

Raven seemed troubled when he recalled his old friend. Argos had been one of the only close friends he made when he served in the demonic army, but the Argos he recalled had only been alive physically. He was a man who had lost everything.

Raven could not do anything about the situation, even though he was now the successor of the Pendragon Duchy. So now, Raven had to make sure that Argos was not sent to the demonic army while continuing to do what he set out to do. That was the only way he could save Argos while creating a capable fighter out of Leon.

“Brother, do you have any worries?”

“Hm, it’s not…”

Raven’s eyes grew a little larger when he turned his head at Irene’s voice.

It did feel like it was taking too long to unpack, but the two girls had changed their clothes in the meantime. Irene wasn’t able to bring her clothes because she was running away from home, so she dressed in simple clothes she bought a few days ago. A pair of pants, a white shawl, and a short red cape for women. Thanks to her beauty, she glowed brightly with even the simplest of attires. 

Lindsay was wearing a simple, modest dress, but her figure was so voluptuous that men were sure to take second glances at her. 

‘Huh?’

Raven’s gaze rested on Lindsay’s left breast. A gentle smile spread around Raven’s mouth when he saw the brooch he bought for her at the market.

“Hehe!”

Irene dragged Lindsay’s limp arm and stood in front of Raven with their arms crossed. When the two ladies stood together, two beautiful flowers with unique charms seemed to bloom simultaneously. 

“What do you think, Brother? Do you think it looks good on us?”

Irene’s dazzling eyes brought Raven back to his senses, and he answered with an awkward cough.

“Ehem! Oh, well… Both of you look pretty.”

“You see? I told you my brother would say that.”

“Ye, yes… It’s all thanks to your help.”

Lindsay shyly curled her eyebrows downward.

“By the way, I think I’ll have to go out for a while, what will you two do?”

“If you don’t mind, we would like to go out with you.”

“Hmm.”

Raven thought for a moment. It would not be very difficult to find Argos. Among the finalists of the dueling competition, the relatively poor mercenaries and commoners would stay at the accommodation provided by the High Lord.

When Raven thought back to the stories he heard from Argos, the fighter should already have been quite famous here.

‘But…’

Raven observed Irene and Lindsay who were sitting with their hands neatly folded. They appeared calm, but seeing how fast they changed their clothes, they must have been dying to go outside, stroll the streets, and enjoy the festival.  Raven nodded lightly, knowing that the last 15 days of the journey must have been quite boring and dull for the two girls.

“Then let’s go together. But both of you must cover your faces and behave yourself.”

He called for such measures because he knew they would be in the spotlight with Irene’s beauty.

“Yes!”

The ladies answered with a bright, and they left the door alongside Raven and Leon.

*** 

Raven found out the residence of the competition’s participants by asking the inn owner, then left the inn with the other three.

The streets beside the waterway were swarming with people. The stalls that sold simple food and alcohol were packed with low-class commoners. The luxurious terraces were full of nobles and merchants sitting in groups, leisurely enjoying the festival. Onlookers surrounded the cages filled with rare creatures from across the sea, and the performances of the wandering bards and acrobats’ tricks entertained the eyes and the ears of the crowd. 

“Wow!”

“Look at that, Miss!”

Irene and Lindsay looked around the sights without a break.

“That is an animal called the seal. Even though it looks like that, it’s quite smart. They can perform many tricks if they are trained.”

Leon stuck to the two girls like a shadow and conversed with them. But even when he was talking, he continued to observe the surroundings.

‘He certainly has a good sense of responsibility.’

Raven had felt it since their first meeting, but Leon was a sincere and hard-working character. Moreover, living in the imperial castle shaped him to be quick-witted, so he quickly grasped the personalities of the two girls. When he was with Raven, he spoke less, and when he dealt with the two girls, he told funny stories befitting his family background. Leon was a very different character from Killian, Isla, and Vincent. 

‘Anyways, there are quite a few figures who look dangerous.’

Raven’s eyes turned sharp as he observed the people in the streets. Most of them were ordinary, but he spotted some men who were obviously free knights or mercenaries. They seemed to have come to participate in the jousting or the dueling competition. 

“This way, my lord.”

Leon did not forget to navigate their way while escorting the two girls. Raven and the ladies followed behind Leon. They saw a spacious square after walking for two more blocks.

“That must be it.”

Raven’s eyes narrowed when he saw a building in the square that was surrounded by many people. The crowd consisted of armed men, so he deduced that the building was the accommodation for the contestants of the competitions.

“Let’s go.”

Raven looked over the building with cold eyes, then walked towards a nearby restaurant. 

“Who do you think will win the jousting competition?”

“Sir Raul, Serra’s knight, is most likely to win. They say he hasn’t lost in three years!”

“What are you talking about? It has to be Sir Romeo of the Knights of Infield. He took four people’s lives at the same time with his godly spear skill in a territorial dispute!”

“Hmph! You fools. Everyone knows that His Grace Morgan is going to win the competition again. You saw it today, didn’t you? All three matches, won in a single exchange.”

“By the way, what do you think about the dueling competition? It seems more thrilling and lively.”

“Hmm! That’s probably because a lot of mercenaries and swordsmen enter. Besides, this year’s preliminaries had more people than last year. Of course, a duel looks more intense on the surface.”

“But that old fighter who defeated His Grace Eder was really great.”

“Yeah! I couldn’t even see his hands and feet move!”

The restaurant was already packed with people who gathered to watch the competitions. Most who passed the preliminaries already retired in their quarters to prepare for tomorrow, but they knew that some of the winners would head to nearby pubs or restaurants to show off their prowess.

“Welcome!”

A young employee greeted Raven’s group. 

“Do you have a table for four?”

“Yes! We do indeed.”

The boy noticed at one glance that the group consisted of high-class nobles, and he nodded quickly. The first floor was already full with commoners, but the second floor had some empty tables for nobles and rich merchants, which were several times more expensive. 

“Right this way, sir!”

The four people moved their steps under the employee’s lead. Even though the two ladies were covering their faces with mesh, their beautiful eyes and fine hair could be seen. The men stole glimpses as they passed through the crowd of the first floor. However, no one dared to openly look or make obscene remarks. The pub did not house just commoners right now. On the second floor above, there were not only nobles who came to enjoy the festival, but also knights who came to participate or watch the competitions. 

If they accidentally messed with a noble, they would not have enough necks to spare. But this only held true for the commoners on the first floor, and the second floor was different. 

“Ho-oh?”

The gazes of the various nobles crowded towards Raven’s group as the four people came up the stairs. Those who could afford the two coins per table were extremely limited, and most of them already knew each other or had become acquainted in the past few days. So it was only natural for them to be curious when new nobles appeared as the festival neared the end. Most importantly, the group of four people were all young, elegant people.

“Very handsome.”

“I know. They look very young. Which family do you think they’re from?”

The nobles could hardly keep their eyes off the party.

Most of the men glanced at Raven and Leon before turning their eyes to Irene and Lindsay. However, the women only stared at Raven’s face while covering their faces with fans. Even though he had and dyed his hair, his beauty and elegance were still shining through.

‘Not this again… tsk.’

Raven frowned inwardly, but he did not show it. He should have been used to it by now, but it was still uncomfortable to receive the gazes of so many women. 

“What’s the best menu in this place?”

But Irene was born a lady of a duchy and lived as such. She did not care for the gazes and spoke to the waiter.

“Yes, yes. I would like to recommend the veal with mushrooms today, lady.”

The waiter answered while thinking that Irene’s voice sounded like a pearl on a silver platter.

“Then I would like that with a bottle of Mondesan wine.”

“Mo, Mondesan wine?”

The employee’s eyes became shocked.

“W, well, lady. Mondesan wine is a little expensive.”

Not a little, actually. Mondesan wine was considered one of the highest quality wines, and it boasted a price that was equivalent to 10 days’ worth of food for ordinary citizens. 

“Bring it, keep the rest.”

“I will be right back.”

Raven held out a gold coin and spoke in a cold voice. The employee immediately stiffened up before bowing deeply. Irene looked wide-eyed at her brother as the employee went away.

“Is it that expensive, brother? We have dozens of bottles in our castle. It’s the only wine that mother drinks as well.”

“It’s because your noble self was born and raised in a castle.”

“Ah…”

Irene nodded her head as if finally understanding, then hunched slightly with a sullen look.

“I’m sorry, Brother. I didn’t know the workings of the world, so I made my brother spend a lot of money.”

“No. You don’t have to worry about it.”

Raven smiled and stroked Irene’s hair.

Irene was not just a regular noble. She was the eldest daughter of the Pendragon Duchy. How could she possibly know the value of the things she was entitled to in the castle? It was rather strange for Irene to even know about the standards of the commoners since she had never experienced it before. That was also why Raven spent money without reserve - because she was so used to it. 

Irene did not complain even once during the entire trip. She enjoyed the common people’s food, and she never frowned at having to share a small room with Lindsay in the inns. No matter how elevated Lindsay’s status was now, it would be hard for Irene to share a room with someone who had been the castle’s maid until not too long ago. 

Raven was proud that Irene had such a casual, friendly relationship with Lindsay. Raven wasn’t the only one who thought that way.

‘The lord and the lady are truly extraordinary…’ Leon’s eyes trembled when he looked at Irene. 

At first, he had thought of her as a strange, unique, spoiled lady, but during the 15 days, Irene had been a box of surprises. She had a fairy-like appearance that was comparable to, no, that was superior to any noble ladies, and she always maintained a smile while caring for others. In addition, she did not hesitate to share conversations with him, even though he had revealed his identity as stemming from a family of jesters, and she was friendly with the lord’s concubine, whom he had heard served as a maid only a few months ago. To Leon, Irene was a fierce, wise lady who was unlike any other typical noble ladies.

Ehem! Would you excuse me for a moment?”

Someone coughed and initiated a conversation with the group.

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