Chapter 135

‘It’s probably because of me…’

To be exact, it was because of the incident that occurred in Edgel.

The information network between the nobles within the empire, especially with the high-ranking nobles, was extremely tight and quick.

It was obvious that the incident in Edgel would have reached the ears of all the high-ranking nobles and the families of the High Lords in less than ten days. The series of events, starting from the incident in Leus with Toleo Arangis, followed by the incident regarding the third strongest territory of the empire, was sure to have shaken up the political world of the nobles. They would have realized that the Pendragon family was building a hostile relationship with the two families.

‘The quick-witted ones should have already figured out by seeing the events of Sisak and Leus.’

The landscape of power would change depending on who would become the next crown prince, and ultimately enthroned as the next emperor. 

But now, the Pendragon family, which seemed calm from the outside, suddenly popped up from the periphery of the empire and started causing quite a stir. Moreover, they formed a friendly relationship with Prince Ian, a primary candidate as the next crown prince. 

However, a ripple settled down quickly.

The majority of the nobles would have chosen to sit back and observe the situation before taking any action. It was too hasty and risky to jump into the fray and choose a side for now. They still had a lot of time remaining.

But…

‘The matter with the High Lord of Alice is on another level. Especially since I basically drove his successor to death…’

Many of the nobles must have felt great confusion and a sense of crisis. 

Everyone must have realized that time had come to choose a side and decide if they wanted to stand with or stand against.

This would hold even more true for the High Lords.

So they would send people over to the imperial castle to test the waters and to scour the situation. Moreover, they wouldn’t send over just any random person, but someone who had enough status to stand and the ability to make proper judgments of the situation – just like the direct descendants of the Roxan family in front of them. 

“Ah, they’re entering the gate.”

The carriage of the Roxan family and its escorting knights started to enter the large gate.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

Simultaneously, two soldiers who were standing by the side of the gate banged on a large drum.

“Hmm? What is that?”

Raven showed confusion, and Leon answered.

“When a High Lord or his immediate lineage, or a noble of equivalent status passes, they hit the drums. It’s a sort of ritual.”

“I see.”

Raven nodded, thinking about the absurdity of formalities. 

As the carriage passed the gate and the last of the knights passed as well, the sound of the drums ceased.

“Stop! Please stop!”

Soldiers who were equipped with unblemished, dark, cylindrical armor blocked the way into the gate with their halberds. A knight, equipped with a plate mail, walked out from the group of well-built, orderly soldiers. 

“Hmm.”

His eyes glowed coldly after he saw the carriage and Argos, who was sitting in the coachman’s seat.

This gate was reserved for the royal family and the prestigious nobles of the empire. It was not a place for ordinary carriages to pass through. The carriage in front of him was not adorned without a family crest, and the coachman was ragged and shabby. 

It seemed that an ignorant bunch of low-ranking aristocrats had come from some backwater countryside without knowing the restrictions. However, he had to fulfill his duties as the captain of the guards, so he asked the coachman in a dry voice.

“I am Sir Graham, captain of the first gate guards. Excuse me, but is it your first time visiting the capital?”

“Yes.”

Graham sniggered inwardly at the expected answer.

As he predicted, it was just a lower-ranking family that didn’t know their place.

“I think you took the wrong road. If you continue that way, you will see the second gate. It happens quite often, but be careful in the future.”

After finishing his words, Graham turned around. But then the rough voice of the coachman stopped him.

“Is this not the first gate? I have not come to the wrong place.”

“Ha..! This is really…”

With a sigh, Graham walked back to the carriage with an exasperated expression. Now that he got a closer look, the pale old man had a crummy complexion, and he was even missing an arm. It was unthinkable for a prestigious noble family to have a one-armed old man as a coachman. 

He felt a little sympathy, but Graham raised his voice. People like these would only understand after being subjected to a little humiliation. 

“Just go to the second gate. This is a place that is reserved for distinguished nobles.”

“Those riding in this carriage are well qualified to enter through this gate.”

At the old man’s unrelenting attitude, Graham’s eyebrows squiggled in annoyance. 

“Huh! Fine. Then let’s hear the identity of your great passengers.”

“His Grace Alan Pendragon and his company.”

“So who is this Alan Pendrag… Heuk!”

Graham froze mid-shrug, and his face hardened.

“S, so… Do you mean that the Pendragon Duchy’s heir is currently riding in this carriage?”

“That’s right. Lady Irene Pendragon and Baroness Lindsay Conrad are also accompanying him as well.”

“…..!”

Argos’ words caused Graham, as well as the surrounding soldiers, to take on shocked expressions and look around in disbelief.

“Uh… Well, I, I will need to check…”

Graham couldn’t blindly trust the words of a shabby one-armed man, so he gulped loudly and stuttered. However, the carriage door opened at that moment and someone walked out.

“I’m Alan Pendragon.”

It was a young, handsome man who was wearing a silver-white armor. It was clear to anyone at a glance that the armor was a priceless treasure.

Graham was stunned. It was impossible for him, an experienced knight, to not recognize the value of the White Dragon Armor that Raven was wearing.

“I’m supposed to stamp it, right? Where is the register?”

Raven spoke casually as he strode forward, and Graham hurriedly called one of the soldiers after coming out of his daze.

“H, here it is.”

Graham put forth a register that was embedded with the symbol of the royal family, the golden lion, and Raven stamped the ring that was on his right, middle finger onto the list. 

A clear crest of a dragon was stamped on the silver register. 

Graham’s eyes quivered when he saw the unmistakable crest of the Pendragon Duchy.

“Sir Graham, am I good to go now?”

“Please excuse me, Your Excellency, Duke Pendragon. I hope you can overlook my insolence and carelessness.”

Graham took on a militaristic posture of respect.

Although Alan Pendragon was practically a duke, his title did not change until he met the emperor. 

Nevertheless, Graham referred to him as a duke. Now that he was in the capital, Alan Pendragon was no different than a real duke. 

Raven smirked and lightly pat Graham’s shoulder.

“No, you were faithful to your duty as the captain of the guards. Actually, it was my fault for riding in such a carriage. Keep up the good work then.”

“Yes! Thank you, your excellency!”

Graham’s eyes glowed strangely. 

In normal cases, prestigious nobles would not condone such a situation. Most of them would become infuriated when they felt that they were being berated or ignored even the slightest bit. 

But the young monarch of the Pendragon Duchy did not blame him. It was a rare sight among the children of the noble family, as they usually tended to be arrogant and short-tempered. 

‘As I’ve heard, he is quite something.’

He thought that Alan Pendragon was quite admirable, then cried out after looking back towards the soldiers.

“Open the gates! The Duke of Pendragon and his company are visiting the capital!”

Dozens of soldiers raised their halberds in a precise movement and parted from side to side together. 

Graham signaled.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Awooooga!

The sounds of the drums and trumpet resounded, pulsating far and wide.

“What is this now?”

Having gotten back in the carriage, Raven frowned slightly at the sudden sound of the trumpet. Leon replied with a smile.

“When a direct descendant of the royal family, or a duke of the empire enters, they sound the trumpet. It only rings a few times throughout the entire year.”

“Huh… They really go to the extent.”

Irene smiled brightly at the sight of Raven, who was stroking his chin dumbfoundedly. 

“This is the capital, brother. It’s the kind of courtesy you deserve as the master of Pendragon.”

“It is as the lady says. And about now, quite a few people should be busily running around.”

“Hmm…”

Leon spoke proudly, but Raven responded with an absent-minded nod.

But Leon had spoken the truth.

“Send a signal right now! The Wall of Victory! No, send a messenger to the Wall of the Lion right now! An old horseman with one arm! Tell them to let them pass unconditionally!”

Two horses had been on the standby as soon as the trumpets resounded, and they madly galloped forward at Graham’s cry. Soon, a white pigeon also flew above the gate.

He had to take on a calm attitude as the guard captain of the gate just a little while ago, but the person who had just passed was an important figure. They had been ordered to treat him with the utmost respect, and they were told to be on high alert ever since a month ago. He could not help but be anxious.

“Dammit… I knew he would arrive soon, but who would have thought he would show up in such a manner?”

Graham looked at the flying messenger pigeon. He wiped the sweat that was covering his forehead and neck even though it was the middle of winter. 

“The grand heir of the Roxan family, the Duke of Pendragon… The imperial castle is going to be in an uproar.”

Graham felt reassured. At least he was finished with everything he was tasked to do.

It was then.

From far away, a red wagon pulled by eight horses and a group of knights raising a flag were approaching the gate. Even from afar, it was evident from the large number of people that they were from far from ordinary. Graham let out a sigh.

“Ha…. who is it now?”

“Ca, captainnn!”

“Why? What is it?’

Graham looked up towards the urgent cry of a soldier.

“It’s Lindegor! It’s the crest of the Lindegor Duchy!”

“Gaah!”

A moan escaped through the thick lips of Graham.

A crest that was embedded with a dark green four-leaf clover, and an angel above it. The angel’s wings were wide-spread, and it was holding two long swords. 

Flutter!

The only duchy besides the Pendragon family that shared the blood of the royal family.

As a single family, they were one of the strongest in the empire as they possessed near 10,000 troops. Their crested flag danced in the cold slither of the winter wind. 

*** 

Raven’s carriage moved along the well-paved road of the capital.

“Look over there!”

“Huh?”

The residents of the capital opened their eyes in surprise as they saw two horses galloping, far ahead of a carriage. 

“Get out of the way!”

“Everyone, show respect!”

All the passersby quickly moved to the side of the road, took off their hats, and bowed their heads at the cry of the two riders. The two riders hurried their horses, each of them holding a red flag. 

“What is going on?”

“I know. Didn’t High Lord Roxan’s family pass by just now as well?”

The residents of the capital were well aware that a straight road connected the first gate of the Wall of Glory and the Wall of Victory. Thus, everyone that passed through the road was prestigious nobles of the empire. 

Also, most of the nobles rode in luxurious, lofty carriages, accompanied by a huge number of knights and soldiers, to show off their status. 

Therefore, even if messengers were not sent ahead of the nobles, the residents knew to bow their heads and show respect as the nobles passed by. 

But today was a little strange.

This was the second time today that a procession of a grand noble was passing through the road, and this time around, they were even sending messengers ahead of them to announce their arrival.

“Which family is it?”

“I wonder? Yikes! It looks like they’re going to pass us by.

The residents hastily bowed their heads. However, some residents sneakily stole glances at the carriage that was coming towards them at a moderate speed. Then, their eyes showed confusion and shock. 

It was a plain little carriage drawn by two horses. In addition, the coachman was a middle-aged man dressed in old, shabby clothing. 

The residents started to doubt whether the carriage actually stemmed from the first gate, then, they heard the diminishing shouts of the flag-bearer that rode ahead of the carriage. 

“Get out of the way! It’s the procession of His Excellency, Duke Pendragon!”

The echoing voice from afar made the residents tremble unknowingly. 

“Did you hear that? It’s Pendragon!”

“Ohhh! The Pendragon family finally arrived at the capital!”

“Where, where!?”

Although the residents of the capital frequently witnessed the procession of nobles, they could not hide their anticipation at the arrival of the Pendragon family. 

However, they could not hide their disappointment once they saw a shabby carriage, driven by an old, one-armed man. There were no accompaniments of soldiers or knights, and the carriage was extremely crummy compared to the other nobles’ carriages.

“Huh, what? Is that really true?”

“Are they the real Pendragon?”

“Perhaps… it’s just a low-class noble that serves under the Pendragon family?”

But regardless of how the residents murmured and questioned, the carriage leisurely passed by the streets of the capital. 

“Um, shall I go out and crack down on the people, my lord?”

Leon heard the voices of the capital’s residents and slowly spoke up towards Raven. Raven’s eyes were half-closed, and he answered calmly without budging.

“We didn’t come to show off our power. You don’t need to do something unnecessary.”

“Yes…”

Leon hastily bowed his head, and Raven sank back into his thoughts.

“Near the time of your arrival, all the important personnel and powerful families from the great territories will gather in the imperial castle.”

Then Vincent said all of them would proceed to observe him and judge him.

If Raven had left for the imperial castle with a large procession, all the High Lords would send him invitations on his way to the capital, which would make it harder for him to make proper judgments.

It would take a lot of mental effort and energy to deal with each of the High Lords as they tried to test the waters while hiding their innermost thoughts, and eventually, it would become more difficult for Raven to make cold judgments when he arrived at the imperial castle.

Vincent’s such predictions came true.

Thanks to the subtlety of traveling with a small group, Raven had avoided confrontations with most of the High Lords, and this caused the High Lords and the other nobles to be anxious and distraught instead. Now, Raven held the upper hand.

Naturally, the incident in Edgel had played a part as well.

But.

‘This is the real beginning.’

Raven’s eyes flashed open.

Far away, he could see a golden wall lined with giant statues of lions, the statues seemingly guarding the wall. The majestic beasts were poised on their hind paws, raising their front claws as if to climb towards the sky.  

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