Chapter 14

“The soldiers are coming down from the castle!”

“It’s His Grace Pendragon and the knights!”

Residents of the village called Lowpool flocked to the sides of the road upon seeing Raven and the soldiers coming their way. Lowpool was below the castle and rumors of Alan Pendragon’s awakening had already spread. It had even reached other villages in the Bellint region.

In addition, many villagers had witnessed the appearance of Soldrake on the day that Raven woke up. The dragon was the symbol of the Pendragon family and its appearance signified the reemergence of Pendragon’s glory.

For the residents who had first-handedly experienced the fall of the family over the last ten years, this was nothing short of a joyous miracle. None of the villagers had ever actually seen Alan Pendragon in person, as he stayed shut in the castle most of his life. This led to the growing curiosity as people snuck glances at him while they kept their heads down to pay respect.

‘Damn it…’

Raven was a little embarrassed by the gazes that poured onto him.

“Your Grace Alan, the duchess left a message saying she preferred you to take off your helmet and wave your hand to the crowds while passing villages.”

“Hm. Alright.”

He nodded at Lindsay’s words. She had her hair tied back and wore pants which was the attire of the men, and she rode on a pony. Raven awkwardly took his helmet off and waved at the villagers.

“Woaaaaahhhhhhh!”

A shout of excitement arose as if they had been waiting for this moment. The men took off their hats and waved them around in the air, the women became mesmerized by Alan’s handsome face, and the children eagerly ran after the group, full of admiration.

‘If I’m going to have to do this every time, I’m going to go insane…’

Raven was unable to take his hand down and kept waving it in the air at the unexpected reaction of the crowd.

“Hurray! Hurray to the Pendragon Duchy!”

“Glory to His Grace Alan! Glory to the Pendragon Duchy! May it last forever!”

Raven felt a strange excitement in the midst of the unending shouts.

It wasn’t just him who felt this way. The soldiers that were tense because of the uncertainty of the expedition started to relax and sit up straight.

“McKidd! You must fight bravely!”

“Ravi! You have to help His Grace recover the mausoleum!”

“I’m believing in you, Hanson!”

Some of the soldiers’ families and friends were among the crowd that spread out onto the streets. They were the proud soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy. To fight for the Pendragons was to fight for their family and to bring glory.

Eventually, as the group reached the end of Lowpool, the soldier’s aura and even their footsteps were completely changed. Even Killian seemed excited and his depressed appearance seemed to have subsided.

But the same was not true for everyone.

‘This little brat…’

Breeden gazed at the soldiers who had transformed since leaving the castle and grinded his teeth. His eyes drifted to his side, and his face distorted.

‘Dammit! Shit!’

The most annoying thing was that Luna Seyrod kept looking at the back of the brat’s head with a blank expression. Even though Breeden wasn’t quick when it came to these matters, he could still read Luna’s expression and the yearning in her eyes. Breeden followed Luna’s gaze onto the kid.

“Sir Killian, are you very uncomfortable?”

“N, not at all, Your Grace.”

“Hm? Your expression says otherwise. Hm, how can I make the discomfort go away…. Ah yes! If I break the other one too, then it will balance…”

“No! No, no! That’s okay!”

Breeden was surprised when he heard that the knight named Killian was beaten to the ground and even had one of his nuts cracked. Even Luna had a shocked expression when she heard the story.

But Breeden quickly shook his head. It didn’t make any sense.

There must have been more to the story. Either that, or there was a scheme going on against the Seyrod family. A carefully laid plot which intended to show off the greatness of the Pendragon family. It must have been a lie.

‘Fine, enjoy it while you can. I will show you how scary the world is really, you little arrogant brat…’

Breeden’s eyes had a bloody glow while staring at the back of Raven.

***

After leaving Lowpool with their hearts high, the party traveled for two days. They went through village after village before arriving at Bellint Gate with no particular incidents.

The soldiers of the gate, being organized as they were, were already lined up in formation in front of the gate. The gate itself was in the shape of a small fortress with three spires.

As Raven walked towards the soldiers with the Pendragon family’s crest held up front, the soldiers banged their chests and knelt.

“We greet the heir to the Pendragon family!”

Raven nodded at the soldiers, impressed by their military discipline, then entered through the gate.

“Have the soldiers rest until I give the order. Separate those from the Seyrod family and give them another place to rest.”

Raven gave the orders to Killian.

“Yes, your Grace. Break! Go take a break!”

The soldiers who were standing in an orderly fashion scattered in groups.

“Come this way.”

Killian gestured to Breeden and the other soldiers of the Seyrod family. Luna Seyrod dismounted her horse with the help of a soldier and paused for a moment. Alan Pendragon had not given her a single glance over the past two days of travel.

“My lady! What are you doing?”

Breeden raised his voice.

After dismounting her horse, Luna studied the structure of Bellint Gate closely before stopping her gaze on Alan Pendragon. Then, she proceeded to follow the rest of the group at Breeden’s voice.

“Your Grace, please, have this.”

Lindsay brought water from the well and held it in front of her for Raven to drink.

He looked at her closely.

It must have been hard for her to ride the horse for the past two days straight. Especially when she wasn’t used to it. She was obviously tired. Raven took a short drink, then held it out in front of him.

‘Hm?’

Raven’s gaze headed to Lindsay’s hands as she reached out to retrieve the cup. Her hands were full of blisters. She must have been tightly holding on to the reins while riding her pony.

Lindsay did not rest, however, and reached into her bag that was strapped to her side and took out a clean towel.

She soaked the towel, planning to wipe her master’s sweat. Raven knew her hands must have been paining her, but she wringed the towel without so much a frown.

“…

Raven’s eyes showed some concern as he looked at Lindsay. He had already noticed it in the castle, but Lindsay was really diligent. Diligent to the degree of being foolish.

She had no soldiers to support her like Luna Seyrod, but she didn’t complain once and always prioritized her master. In addition, she always kept herself clean, perhaps to make sure she didn’t bring shame to his honor.

Raven had brought her as a mere decoy, but now he felt a strange feeling.

“I can take care of myself, you can go in and rest.”

“N, no, Your Grace. The duchess ordered me to always be by your side.”

Lindsay lowered her head in embarrassment. Raven saw the dust that had accumulated in her hair and spoke bluntly.

“It’s an order. Go to the well and wash your face. You can rest in the shade over there.”

“Yes, yes…”

Lindsay stepped back once he said it was an order, and reluctantly took off.

After making sure Lindsay was on her way to the well, Raven moved around slowly to examine the fortress. The buildings were in poor condition, perhaps due to the lack of maintenance. The fortress was also quite small, and it seemed that one hundred men could fill the walls. There were around fifty men positioned at the fortress, and it probably wasn’t being taken care of properly.

‘Two or three hundred from the demonic army could probably occupy it in two hours.’

“Sir Killian.”

Raven called Killian. He wanted someone that had experienced the decline of the Pendragon family first-hand.

“Tell me about the supplies of the castle.”

“We have some supplies stocked up in the warehouses in case of emergency, but usually the soldiers head to Greystone Village, that we passed around noon today, to receive supplies. The soldiers head there once every four days or so.”

“I see.”

Raven slightly nodded his head and went up the stairs that led to the top of the castle walls. Killian hurriedly followed him. At the sight of Alan, the soldiers straightened their postures.

‘Their equipment is trash. How can it be worse than the demonic army…?’

Raven let out a sigh after examining all the soldiers. The soldiers wore chain armor with broken links on top of old quilted garments. Their spear shafts were rusted, while the spearhead and the blades had chips and breaks. He doubted the crossbows placed in the gun’s eye (arrow hole) would even shoot properly.

Raven spoke to a soldier who had a tense expression, seemingly most seasoned out of the bunch.

“When was the last time you received new equipment?”

“Yes, sir! Two years ago, Your Grace!”

“How about new recruits?”

“Everyone here, including me, have been guarding the gate for the past three years!”

“How about your commander? Where is your knight?”

“Th, that…”

The soldier looked towards Killian with a flustered expression.

“Ehem! Hm! T, that is…”

Killian started talking after coughing a few times in embarrassment.

“…Uh, s, so we don’t have a commander right now…”

“…

Raven scowled as soon as Killian finished speaking.

“The knight took the soldiers and deserted? Then proceeded to go around the villages outside the gate and steal from them? And you left them alone?”

“Well, we don’t have enough men…”

Killian spoke with his head down, embarrassed by his own answer. No matter the case, he had no excuses as the head of the knights of the Pendragon family.

“…

Killian slowly raised his head after a long moment of silence.

“Heuk!”

Killian’s head sank back into his neck. Alan Pendragon eye’s burned with the urge to kill. It was the same eyes Killian saw before his precious egg was destroyed.

“What’s the… bastard’s name?”

Killian knew that the Alan Pendragon who woke up after three years didn’t care about swearing and proper etiquette in speaking. He felt shivers up his arm hearing the voice laden with the intent to kill, and gulped loudly.

“G, Geoffrey… Del Geoffrey, Your Grace.”

“Del Geoffrey…”

Raven muttered the name of the deserted knight, no, the leader of the thieves, and turned his body around.

“We’re going to catch that bastard tomorrow. I will personally split and crush every bit of his body starting from his head to toes.”

“Y, Yes!”

Just hearing Raven’s words made Killian’s intact egg feel electrified. He ran after Raven frantically.

***

Knock Knock!

Luna frowned at the sound of the unwelcome knock. Breeden must have come again.

“I just want to rest, so please just leave.”

“Alright. I will come back later.”

Luna jumped at hearing the dull voice.

“N, no it’s okay. Come i… no, no, please give me a moment.”

Luna hurriedly looked at the copper mirror and straightened her clothes before taking a big breath and opened the door.

Alan Pendragon stood in front of the door with his arms crossed.

“What is it?”

She tried to speak calmly, but her voice trembled for some reason.

“I have a favor to ask of you. Do you mind if I come in?”

“Ah, yes. This way…”

‘You fool.’

Luna realized her mistake of blocking the doorway and moved to the side.

“Uh, would you like some tea?”

“I’m okay with water.”

Hearing Raven’s answer, Luna gave a glance. The soldier who was guarding her room gave a bow. Raven frowned at seeing the sight and spoke.

“Actually, I’m fine. You over there. I will call you after I finish talking with Lady Seyrod. You may go rest until then.”

“Huh?”

The soldier opened his eyes wide, and Luna felt her face reddening.

“Do as His Grace Pendragon says.”

“Ah… Yes, my lady.”

The soldier gave a sly smile at the situation and closed the door. It seemed that they wanted to enjoy a hot, youthful time. Luna caught the hidden meaning in the soldier’s eyes and blushed. Still, somehow she managed to look calm and sat down on her chair after getting a hold of her emotions.

“Anyways, this favor that you wanted to ask. Why don’t you tell me more about it?”

She spoke with an even colder voice than she intended and instantly regretted it. Unsurprisingly, Alan frowned at the tone of her voice.

“I’m sorry for taking your time. It’s just that…”

‘Hm?’

Luna was puzzled by the man’s appearance. Alan seemed to be hesitating. Her heart started pounding. Maybe this man…

Thump! Thump! Thump!

Luna’s heart started pounding madly.

“I was wondering if you could stay at Bellint Gate for a few more days… I was wondering what you think about that, Lady Seyrod?”

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