Chapter 132

“Yes, that is why we do not need to recruit any more troops to prepare for a war. We can continue to train the vigilantes of the villages on a regular basis, appoint the veteran soldiers as squires, and bequeath them land and wealth.”

“Well, I understand. Anyhow, we should deal with the figures I saw at the port today.”

“For the time being, I’m planning to observe them.”

Vincent shook his head with a stiff expression at the mention of the wizards.

“There is no need to scare the snake by going through the grass. If you care to know who released the snakes, it’s better to let them wander about for a while.”

“I see…”

Recently, there had been an increase in the number of foreign knights and mercenaries coming into Pendragon territory. And today, even a wizard showed up. Quite a few spies were bound to be mixed up in the batch. Furthermore, there must have been at least twice as many people who sneaked in secretly compared to those who walked in openly. 

In the last 15 days, more and more people had been coming into the territory to get a grasp of the duchy’s situation. It was most likely due to the recent incident in the territory of Alice involving Alan Pendragon, the lord of the duchy. When the incident in Alice was reported back, the Pendragon duchy went into a great uproar. It was to the point that Count Seyrod and Count Bressia of Sisak sent secret messengers to discuss possible measures that could be taken. 

At first, even Vincent wondered why his lord had caused such a huge incident, but he understood after hearing the whole story.

‘The division was about to begin anyways. No one knows who their allies are, and who their enemies are. If the division was made clear from the incident that the lord caused this time, I have to use the information to pick out the enemies accurately and lead the situation.’

The aftermath of the Alice crisis had yet to subside, and the process and the results were not entirely without regrets. It was not entirely clear whether the incident would ultimately benefit or harm the Pendragon Duchy, but the most important thing was that Alan Pendragon had concluded the event while holding onto both the justification and the heart of the people. Now, it was Vincent’s job to create something tangible out of it. 

‘First of all, I should observe the responses of the thirteen High Lords and the major players in imperial politics. I need to figure out who, and why they have been sending spies into our territory… like those in the port today.’

“Those who showed up in the port will head to York Town in a few days. I will take care of them, so you don’t have to worry about it, Sir Isla.”

“I trust Sir Ron.”

Now that the lord and Soldrake were not present in the duchy, Isla knew that the most reliable person was Vincent Ron. Isla nodded lightly and stood up.

“Ah, by the way…”

Isla started to walk towards the door, then suddenly turned his head. Vincent became a little curious when Isla, who usually spoke the bare minimum with an indifferent attitude, seemed to hesitate for some reason.

“I have been wondering… Does Sir Ron know where Lord Soldrake has gone?”

Vincent answered with a rather regretful expression.

“I do not know either. But… I know that both the lord and Lord Soldrake only leave the duchy when they have to take care of issues that are of paramount importance to our duchy.”

“Well, I see.”

Isla nodded once more, then left through the door.

“Phew.”

After Isla left, Vincent let out a short sigh and looked out the window.

‘I wonder what is going on. Why did Lord Soldrake head to that place…?’

In reality, Vincent knew where Soldrake had set off to. Before the lord left for the imperial castle, he had told Vincent, and only Vincent, where Soldrake was going. However, even Vincent, the genius who had recently gained the nickname “Raccoon Mask”, was clueless as to why Soldrake had chosen to leave for that place at this moment, and what it had to do with his lord. 

“The Robstein Plains…”

A remote wasteland located to the far northeast alpines. Vincent did not know that the barren land which was around 2,000 miles away from the Pendragon Duchy was the place where Raven Valt and Alan Pendragon perished together.

*** 

A vast land that spread across the horizon. It was early winter. The land was barren and devoid of any life, and the sun’s rays draped across the horizon, coloring the scenery crimson. Something flew across the vast sky against the backdrop of dusk. It reflected the light just like a blossoming red flower in a desolate, brown land. 

The identity of the being was White Dragon Soldrake, her silver-white body dyed in the glow of a setting sun. Soldrake circled around the sky several times in the icy wind, then headed towards an endless canyon that was scarred into the ground. The deep, wide valley was over 3,000 feet wide and over 1,000 feet deep. It made even an almighty dragon seem like a small bird in comparison.  Soldrake flew through the magnificent scenery created in harmony by mother nature and the Earth God, and soon folded her wings after arriving at her destination. 

Woosh!

In an instant, Soldrake took on the form of a female knight, then looked around her surroundings with an indifferent expression. The creatures of the valley felt the presence of the dragon and quickly went into hiding, daring not to take even a single breath for fear of catching her attention. Soldrake climbed the valley ridges with light steps, as if she were on an easy stroll. She stopped, and her eyes glimmered for an instant. 

[To think that there would truly be a vein in this place, Ray’s words were true.]

A dragon vein. It was a type of mana repository that only dragons could access. It was a place so special and rare that Soldrake knew of only around ten such places across the land. The veins contained vast, ancient mana, but it was so rough and powerful that even the mightiest of sorcerers could not fully reap the mana of the dragon veins. If something went wrong, there was a high chance of having one’s own mana absorbed into the vein.

Therefore, most of the dragon veins in existence were used by dragons as their homes, as their lairs. Mount Ancona, where the mausoleum of the Pendragon family was located, also contained a dragon vein.

Wooooooosh!

Soldrake opened her senses and felt the raging torrents of wild mana surging through the valley. Hundreds of translucent threads of spirits spread out from her body and stretched out all over the body. The vein wasn’t as powerful as the one in her own lair, but a dragon vein of this strength was bound to have an owner, whether it be a monster, a beast, or a dragon. She was looking for that very existence.

It was then. From the other side of the valley, something black flew towards her at a high speed. It was a black dragon with three obsidian horns protruding from its head. 

The black dragon slowly sank to the ground, while carefully looking down at Soldrake with its vast wings spread open. The black dragon folded its wings. Black and red lights glimmered around the black dragon’s body and the dragon disappeared. In its place was a young man dressed in black leather and equipped with two small swords at his sides.

[Queen of all brothers.]

The man had glimmering eyes that were like black sapphire. He pulled one foot back and bowed towards Soldrake.

[Amuhalt.]

Soldrake gave a slight nod in response.

Amuhalt was one of the six dragons that had come uninvited after Raven succeeded in recapturing the mausoleum and making a contract with Soldrake.

He waved his hand in the air, and a swarm of light appeared in thin air. Soon, two thrones shaped like dragons, one silvery-white, and the other black, appeared.

[Please, have a seat.]

But Soldrake silently gazed at Amuhalt without moving. After a moment, Soldrake slowly sat down on the silvery-white throne.

[Did you know about the existence of this vein, Amulhalt? Your territory is located in the Kashibal Volcanoes. It is against the ancient oaths for a brother to possess more than one territory.]

[I knew of the existence, but this is not my territory, Queen. I just happened to come across it a few years ago, but I never told you about it.]

[Explain yourself.]

[I did not want to cause trouble for the Queen, who had been heartbroken by the failure of the pact between her and the human.]

Soldrake was listening to Amuhalt’s story with an indifferent expression until that point, but a strong glow appeared in her eyes at his words.

[Do you dare to criticize me?]

Woosh!

A burst of silver-white light burst out from Soldrake’s eyes, and the dimming shadows of the valley were momentarily overwhelmed by the luminescence. But the Black Dragon Amulaht did not budge from his seat and spoke from the throne in the same posture as before.

[Calm your anger, Queen. I, Amuhalt, only wanted to discuss the matter with all the brothers when the Queen could make a proper judgment.]

[I always lead my brothers as the Queen. My competency is not a matter for you to judge, Amuhalt.]

[I apologize. But, Queen, I would also like to ask you a question. For what reason has the Queen come to this place?]

[It is none of your business.]

[No, I need to know. It has been two years since I discovered this place. Since then, the mana here has gone berserk twice. This spring, and the day Queen renewed the covenant with the Pendragon human. And to my surprise, the Pendragon human whom the queen made a pact with, possesses the spirit of the Dragon God and spirit of the Demon God.]

[……]

The first incident was probably the day when Raven was reborn as Alan Pendragon. This was significant.

[An impossible thing has happened. Someone who failed in making a pact before succeeded in their second attempt. And a new vein of mana happened to go berserk on the day that the Pendragon human and the Queen made a pact. And today, Queen is here, a place that is only known to myself. How can this be explained?]

Soldrake remained silent. She could not tell the truth of the matter – That Raven originally died in this place along with Alan Pendragon, and that Raven was reincarnated in the body of Alan Pendragon after going against the flow of time. Most importantly, she could not tell him that she had also perished alongside Alan Pendragon in this place. According to Raven’s story, it seemed she ended her own life in order to complete a certain form of magic. As if she had intended to send Alan Pendragon back in time to be reborn.

The magic of turning back time. For such a massive spell to be possible, there would be special conditions that needed to be met, as well as huge amounts of mana. For example, a new dragon vein, unknown to any other dragons, that contained a large untapped reservoir of mana, and the life of the dragon’s leader. But Soldrake did not know of such a spell right now. It meant that someone had taught her the spell for some reason, and she had carried out the spell, even if the cost was her life.

[I cannot answer right now, Amuhalt.]

Though she still spoke in a monotone voice, Amuhalt could see that Soldrake was in a deep contemplation. 

[Since you say so, I will not ask anymore. But Queen, you know that the energies of the Dragon God and the Demon God are a powerful force that cannot be handled even with all of our brothers’ strengths combined. Our brothers are carefully observing every one of the Pendragon human’s movements.]

Amulaht’s flaming eyes turned to the darkened sky.

[As the Queen is aware of, the power of the Dragon God can awake the brothers who have lost their powers. In addition, the power of the Demon God can blur the boundary between death and life. It can grant the dead life, which could shake the very foundations of this world.]

[I will take responsibility for those matters. The Black Sage may head back now.]

Amuhalt turned his head when he heard the title “Black Sage”. The sudden gust of wind caused his long, silky black hair to flutter in the wind, and his face was revealed. There was a slight smile on his face.

[Black Sage… I guess you still have deep affection for your brother that you would call me by that title. All right, I respect the Queen’s decision. Then, Dragon Queen, the head of all our brothers, please take care.]

Amuhalt bowed politely and his body enveloped in a dark red light. He took on his draconic form and shot off towards the other side of the valley with a long roar.  

Soldrake stared at the direction that Amuhalt had flown towards for a while before turning her head.

[I miss Ray.]

Her eyes shone like a thousand stars and it pierced all the way to the imperial castle, where the king of the humans lay, through thousands of miles of distance.

*** 

“Eugh….Heuk! Guahh…”

A dying groan could be heard over and over. However, the one-armed old man with a slim face remained silent on the coachman’s seat without a change in his expression. And by his side – by the carriage’s side, to be exact, a young man was running.

“Keuhg… Heuk! Heueuk!”

Everyone that they passed looked at the panting young man with absurd expressions, but the carriage and the young man quickly disappeared from their view. 

“Ueh…. Ueh, Ugh…”

 Crack!

A whip drew a graceful curve and hit the back of the heaving young man’s head.

“Gah!”

“It will be harder if you lose your breath. Stamina and breath control are the backbone of the art of fighting. Always keep that in mind even when you are running.”

Leon wasn’t able to respond due to the lack of air, but he quickly calmed his breathing and righted himself. Wrapped around his waist was a sturdy rope connected to the carriage. If he fell down, he would be dragged along by the carriage.

The carriage continued along the imperial road, and it arrived at a town after passing through a lonely forest.

“Heuaaaahhhh…”

As soon as the carriage stopped, Leon flopped down beside the horse. Even though the weather was quite chilly, his whole body was completely drenched with sweat.

“Please, allow me, Your Grace. Ladies.”

“Thank you, Argos.”

Irene got off first, followed by Lindsay.

“Ah…”

Lindsay’s eyes filled with regret as she exited the carriage. It was because she saw the hollow sleeve of Argos, which was fluttering in the wind. But Lindsay shook her head slightly and took Argos’ hand without saying anything. Even though he was old and now without an arm, Argos was still a strong man. After his arm was severed, Argos managed to get back up before four days passed. No matter how much the secret art of the Tiramis Temple reduced pain, it would be hard for ordinary people to overcome such unimaginable pain. It was evident that Argos was a powerful, vigorous figure. And one should not recklessly sympathize with such a person.

“Good work, Argos. I could have driven the carriage…”

Unlike the two girls, Raven spoke with a slightly sorry look as he got off the carriage.

Argos shook his head vigorously.

“This is what this old man wanted to do. Please don’t mind it, Your Grace.”

“If you say so… Anyways, how is he doing? His stamina seems to have improved quite a bit, don’t you think it’s time to teach him something tangible?”

Raven smiled at the sight of Leon trying to stand up as he saw Raven exit, despite his poor condition. 

It was no wonder. Leon had been running beside the carriage without rest for the past fifteen days, and since four days ago, he had sandbags attached to his arms and legs. It was all on the orders of Argos, his master.

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