Chapter 131

“One, two! One, two!”

Kieeeeek! Boom!

Dozens of men turned a huge pulley along with the commands, and a huge pile of boulders started to move one by one. Hundreds of workers were busy shoveling the ground and working on new sites of construction along the newly-erected wall, and various carriages were lining up outside of the completed wall to enter through the gate.

“What’s the progress on the north watchtower project?” A man asked while walking rapidly along the passage of the finished wall.

One of the men who was following behind him answered urgently, “It’s going as scheduled. But they need more asbestos…”

“I’ll turn yesterday’s shipment over as soon as possible, and I’ll also assign more labor force to the site. What about the food supply?”

“Yes, the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce sent 500 sheep and 1,000 chickens to the port. Seven hundred of the chickens are hens. We still have plenty of rye bread. Even if we get an influx of people, we should be able to distribute for more than 20 days. We are also supposed to receive more bread from Lowpool in five days.”

“Okay, let’s slaughter a hundred sheep and put the meat in the storage. If you can, recruit some women to pickle some cabbage. When winter comes, it will be difficult to supply vegetables.”

“Yes, Sir Ron!”

The men were following closely behind Vincent Ron in order to catch his every word. It was then.

Huge figures appeared on the other side of the sky, and they passed over the walls before arriving inside the castle.

Kieeeeek!

The creatures let out a screeching cry as they landed one by one. They were Griffons, high-level predatory monsters of the Pendragon Duchy. More than ten griffons flew into the castle, but no one showed any agitation at the sight. Rather, the children ran towards the griffons with an excited cry, and the young men looked towards the creatures with expressions of envy.

“Sir Isla is here. I will get going. If anything happens at the construction sites, call me anytime. Then get to work, everybody.”

“Yes! Sir Ron!” The men answered in one voice and scattered to their respective workplaces.

Vincent Ron, the man who was in charge of York Town’s construction, headed towards the center of the site where dozens of buildings had already been erected. The city was gradually taking its shape.

“The fish is cheap! They are fresh, coming from the port just this morning!”

“Ah, he is descended from one of Lowpool’s greatest stallions! Even the Pendragon ladies would fall in love at first sight!”

The small town that had been barely self-sufficient only a few months ago had grown into a small city, where countless people interacted every day. The marketplace had also grown alongside the town into a huge, bustling attraction. People from nearby villages flooded towards York Town, and even outsiders came through the harbor and across Ronan Bridge in order to visit York Town. 

In addition, there were many foreigners with exotic appearances, with unique skin color and clothing. Vincent observed the crowd with piercing eyes and picked out the foreigners. 

‘Are they from Gapusa and Ornn? They must have been sent by the southern lords.’

Vincent was knowledgeable due to his background stemming from the Twilight Tower. He recognized that most of the foreigners were from the south, across the inland sea. 

The Pendragon Duchy’s fame seemed to already have reached the far south as well.

Vincent walked straight past the market and across the center of the village, where construction was still prominent, and headed towards a building that was guarded by soldiers. 

“You’re here, Sir Ron.”

One of the soldiers was wearing an epaulet, and he hurriedly approached Vincent.

“Is everything all right, McKidd?”

“Yes, Sir Isla is waiting inside.”

“I see. I noticed that there were more foreigners in the market compared to just a few days ago. Lots of mercenaries as well. Try to tighten up the security.”

“Yes. We just received more men, so I’ll add another group for patrolling.”

“Good. Then, keep up the good work.”

Ridley Mckidd had recently become a squire of the Pendragon Duchy. Vincent gave Ridley McKidd a pat on the soldier and entered the temporary command center. 

Afterwards, some of the soldiers hesitantly approached McKidd.

“Excuse me, captain. Was that Sir Vincent Ron just now?”

“Yes.”

“Wow… he does not look as scary as the rumors.”

“Exactly, I thought he would have flames instead of eyeballs and a tail coming out of his back.”

“What are you talking about?”

The soldiers who had expressed their curiosity were fresh recruits who had been sent to York Town just a day ago after finishing their training. 

“We heard from Sir Killian during our training in Lowpool that there are two demons among our duchy’s knights. One of them is Sir Vincent and the other one is the captain of the orcs, Karuta.”

“That’s right. He told us to stay away from them because they’re always looking to bully people in all kinds of evil ways. If you so much as to look at them the wrong way, they’ll curse you so you won’t even be able to sleep.”

“What? What kind of nonsense is that?”

McKidd chortled and responded, but the soldiers tilted their heads even further in confusion.

“No, but the people here seemed to say the same things as well. In the pub yesterday, I think they were merchants. They were cursing at Sir Vincent throughout the whole night.”

“Right, right. I think they were calling him the raccoon devil, right? That he turns into a raccoon at night and preys on human liver.”

“Hahaha!” Mckidd burst out into loud laughter. 

The soldiers stared at him with strange expressions. 

“Sir Ron must be really good at his job if he’s being insulted so much.”

“What? What do you mean?”

Mckidd replied with a grin towards the confused soldiers.

“Do you know who is responsible for distributing our duchy’s troops? It’s Sir Ron. Of course, His Grace Pendragon still takes care of the big picture, but Sir Ron is responsible for the specifics. The reason you guys are here isn’t because Sir Killian sent you. It’s because Sir Ron requested additional forces.”

“Ah, is that so?”

“That’s right. How do you think Sir Killian would feel, having to send you guys away right after training you? After going through the effort of making men out of sniffling brats, finally capable of swinging the sword and using the shield. Don’t you think he would be a little upset?”

“Ah…”

The soldiers finally nodded their heads in realization. 

“Same with the merchants. They are desperate to land a huge profit in any way possible. Our duchy is located near the border, and we were in a bad position even until the beginning of this year, right? It was the perfect opportunity for the merchants to take advantage of. But now they’re getting their shells peeled off by Sir Ron, so obviously they would be furious.”

“I see. So can’t they just go back? Why are they staying behind, speaking words behind his back? I’ll have to scold them the next time I see them.”

“Haha! That’s because they can make money by staying in York Town and dealing with the Pendragon Duchy. You see hundreds of people coming into York Town every day, right? It’s a golden fishing ground for merchants. Besides, as the number of merchants increases, it helps our duchy’s finances as well.”

“Ah…”

The soldiers nodded their heads with sparkling eyes, completely captivated by McKidd’s words. 

“In addition, York Town is a free economic city. Remember that we, the soldiers here, are the face of the Pendragon Duchy, and that we have to pay attention to what we say or do, anytime, anywhere, all right? Now that we are on the subject, let’s go circle around the marketplace once.”

“Yes sir!”

The eyes of the new recruits were filled with respect. They answered McKidd in a boisterous voice and followed behind him. 

Although there wasn’t a large age gap between them, McKidd was an idol for the new recruits. Just the fact that he was a senior soldier who accompanied His Grace Pendragon on the previous expedition was enough for them to set him as their target and as their hero. McKidd had risked his life in battling against evil monsters and reopening the Pendragon family’s mausoleum. But whether McKidd knew this or not, he was never condescending. He was consistently responsible and good-natured.

McKidd walked with strong steps to fulfill his duties.

*** 

“How about the port?”

“Nothing. The downriver is quiet as well. There did seem to be a few more ships coming in compared to yesterday.”

“It must be because it’s much faster to travel to the Pendragon territory on boats from places like Leus and Sodin. They can carry much more shipment compared to wagons as well. Anyways, thank you for your hard work, Sir Isla.”

Even though they were fellow knights of the duchy, Vincent was always polite towards Isla. Regardless of his status as the captain of the griffon unit, Isla had a strong sense of duty. He never hesitated to step forward to personally complete reconnaissance and fight on the front lines.

Vincent, as a Master of the Twilight Tower, wanted to head down a righteous path, and in his eyes, Isla was the perfect example of a knight, a highly respected figure.

Isla was also quite fond of Vincent, who was always very polite. As such, he found himself speaking a little more than usual in front of Vincent.

“It’s my duty. By the way, I’ve been seeing quite a few strange figures lately. I even saw some at the port today.”

Vincent’s eyes sank at Isla’s words.

“Perhaps…. Are you talking about the wizards?”

“Yes. The griffons responded.”

All of the griffons of the Pendragon family were a sort of guardian serving under Soldrake. That’s why they were able to notice the flow of mana, the presence of magic. 

“The rumors of Soldrake being not present in the duchy seemed to have spread. Well, a dragon’s whereabouts are always a matter of great concern in the world of wizards.”

The White Dragon Soldrake was the most powerful weapon of the Pendragon Duchy. At the same time, she was the strongest barrier. And now that the barrier had gone off elsewhere for some reason, it was the perfect time for those who feared her to sneak into the duchy.

“In addition, I saw a large number of armed groups near the foot of Ronan Bridge. They rushed into the forest as soon as they saw the griffons.”

“Hmm, I think you can leave that side to the Ancona Orcs and the centaurs.”

“Why don’t we recruit more troops? Even including Bellint Gate, we only have around a thousand troops.”

“We cannot.”

Isla narrowed his eyes at Vincent’s answer. Vincent rarely acted stern towards him.

“The number of troops that are fed and trained directly by the duchy should never exceed three percent of our total population. In reality, we are stretching our limits right now as well. We should try to keep their numbers from exceeding two percent of our population.”

“Why?”

“If we continue to increase the number of troops like we are doing now, the duchy could be decimated in five years. If we focus on filling the number of troops because of the sudden influx of capital, it will come back to bite us later.”

“Hmm…”

Isla stroked his chin as the conversation progressed into a topic he wasn’t familiar with. 

Vincent smiled at the valiant, loyal knight and continued his words.

“Looking at the tax revenue collected directly from the villages over the past few months, the number of residents that pay taxes in the duchy is about 40,000. It will be better to maintain the number of troops until the end of this year and focus on maintaining security over the land.  That’s why I’ve placed a post on the road outside of Bellint Gate.”

Isla’s eyes relaxed somewhat, and he nodded his head.

“Rangers… they are certainly useful. Whether it be monsters or bandits, they’ve disappeared from the roads.”

“It is because the centaurs accompany the soldiers. There’s no place to run in front of centaurs, whether it be mountains or forests. Ultimately, there’s no problem with keeping the security of the land with the number of troops we currently possess.”

“What if a large force attacks?”

“They would not unless they were crazy. Everyone knows that our duchy has hundreds of griffons. You should know that the best, Sir Isla.”

“Hm.”

Even though Isla maintained a blunt expression, his face twitched for a short moment. It was for a very short moment and a very slight twitch that no one could possibly recognize. But Vincent’s signature raccoon-like smile appeared on his face as he noticed the change. It seemed that Isla wanted to test Vincent Ron’s abilities as a tactician but became embarrassed after his intentions were seen through. 

“Twenty well-trained griffon riders could handle three hundred infantry soldiers. Besides, if you add in thirty additional griffons, they could decimate three hundred soldiers on an open field, right?”

“No, fifty of my griffons could take on one thousand soldiers. Even if they are orcs.”

Isla replied in a plain and unpretentious voice. But Vincent could laugh because he believed it was entirely possible. Because the knight, who sat expressionless and casually talked about the destruction of 1,000 orcs, was a real Orc Slayer, a man who fought and won a battle against an orc in Leus.

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