Chapter 143

Princesses who grew up in the imperial castle were not accustomed to the feeling of jealousy.

They could get whatever they wanted, when they wanted, and if they did not want to meet someone, they could always stay in their residence. In addition, the emperor did not neglect the princesses that were born of concubines, remaining impartial towards all his children.

But there was one thing that the princesses could not control, one thing that was out of reach. It was love.

But today the empress publicly gave permission.

She told the princesses to create a connection between them and the young handsome knight in front of them. Duke Pendragon gave the princesses a glimmer of hope, a hope that they had never dreamed of.

But unfortunately, he didn’t show much interest in them. Rather, he showed his first smile to a concubine who used to be a mere maid.

Even though they were all quick-witted and polite, their usual sense of reasoning and judgment were blown away when they saw the sight. It was impossible for the princesses to remain calm, especially since they had absolutely zero experience in the matters of men and women.

“By the way… I heard that Baroness Conrad knew His Excellency for a long time, is that true?”

The first one to speak was Princess Leah.

“Oh, I…”

Not giving Lindsay a time to answer, the youngest of the princesses, Elaine, snarled out.

“She was the maid of Conrad Castle. She must have been by His Excellency’s side for a long time. Anyways, with what standards are maids selected in Conrad Castle? Since it is a duchy, they are surely brought in from lower-ranking noble families just like in the imperial castle, right?”

“Ah! So Baroness Conrad must also be from a noble family under the Pendragon Duchy. A family of knights? Officials?”

Princess Sylvia drove the final wedge.

“Ah, I, I…:

Lindsay became flustered and attempted to answer to no avail. She had made a firm resolution to stand tall as a lady of the Pendragon Duchy when she first arrived at the imperial castle, but now it came to, she couldn’t get her act together.

“Well, m, my father…”

“He was a farmer of the duchy.”

“…..!”

Lindsay was attempting to awkwardly smile, but then her face froze at someone else’s answer. Her eyes started quivering with shock, and she looked towards the owner of the voice.

Her companion was expressionless as usual.

For some reason, Lindsay’s chest became tight and she dropped her head.

“Then that means…?”

The princesses asked back with a look full of anticipation.

“Commoner.”

“Oh! I see.”

The princesses showed delight at Raven’s dull answer.

The difference between a daughter of a lowly farmer and themselves was the same as heaven and earth. Now that Duke Pendragon had said it himself, they just needed to treat the concubine as a concubine, and nothing more.

“Then for her to be here, where not only us, but Princess Ingrid is present…”

Princess Leah’s haughty voice was cut off immediately by Raven.

“Even though she was born a farmer’s daughter and used to be a maid of Conrad Castle, she is now my concub…. No, I’ve become a duke today, so she is the lady of the Pendragon family.”

“….What?”

The princesses displayed shock.

Irene clenched her fist tightly under the table and gave an inward shout of triumph.

Thud.

Raven put down the teacup on the table and glanced at the princesses. The princesses flinched at the cold eyes that reflected the light like glass.

“Did you not understand my words? Whether she is a daughter of a farmer or not, Lindsay Conrad came here as the lady of the Pendragon Duchy. Is there something wrong?”

“Oh, no, we didn’t mean to…”

The princesses finally realized something was wrong, and the ends of their words became mumbles. Raven turned his gaze.

He saw the sight of Lindsay looking down with trembling shoulders. She managed to look up and met his eyes, to which he gave a slight nod. She was someone who had always worked her hardest for him in silence, never expecting anything in return and never complaining. He continued after turning his gaze back to the princesses.

“Baroness Conrad is my only wife right now, and I accepted her myself. She is entitled to be right here with me. So, even if it was His Majesty who was treating her unfairly, I would take it as an insult to myself.”

“Ah…!”

The princesses’ eyes shook mercilessly, but Raven paid them no attention and finished them off with one last sentence.

“I do not know why you asked about her background, but it’s fouled my mood somewhat. I’ll be leaving first.”

Without waiting for an answer, Raven stood up from his seat.

“Oh, no, Duke, we…”

“That’s not…”

Raven ignored the princesses who tried to explain themselves and headed towards Irene and Lindsay. He reached out his hand freely while everyone watched.

“Let’s go.”

“Ah… Yes, yes!”

The two ladies took Raven’s hand one after the other and stood up.

“Then, see you later.”

Lastly, Raven gave Ingrid a slight nod before walking away.

“What are you doing, Sister Lindsay?”

Irene forcefully stopped a grin from breaking out and pushed Lindsay to Raven’s side. The two people walked out of the sitting room standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

“…….”

Three losers looked at the two people’s backs with dumbfounded expressions. Only Ingrid could breathe a sigh of relief.

‘To think doing nothing was actually the better choice… I’m glad.’

“From now on.”

“……”

Raven suddenly spoke. He was walking as if he was angry, and Lindsay’s shoulders trembled slightly. Noticing her response, Raven continued bluntly.

“Next time, speak up. Tell them that you are the lady of the Pendragon family. Got it?”

“….Yes, yes…”

Lindsay nodded several times, and her eyes eventually turned red. Irene kept smiling as if she was satisfied with the situation.

Raven slowly turned his head.

“Then get ready for the banquet. I will get some rest until Ian comes.”

“Of course, Brother.”

Raven hurried across the hall into his room.

“Welcome back, my lord. Hmm? Did something happen?”

Leon saw Raven returning with a following of maids, then asked carefully.

“Hm, no, it’s nothing.”

Raven’s face was a little flushed from acting in a manner he was unaccustomed to. He quickly shook his head and changed the topic.

“What about Ian? Have you heard anything yet?”

“Ah, he’s supposed to arrive fairly quickly. He sent a messenger to tell us to wait in the building. He has someone he wants you to meet.”

“I see. Argos, standby here with Leon. When the banquet starts, bring Lindsay and Irene to the main building.”

“Yes, my lord!”

“Yes, Duke Pendragon.”

The two men bowed in response, and Raven stepped out once more after putting on a cape.

“Am I still lacking? As a squire of the Pendragon Duchy, I should be guiding the lord around the imperial castle…”

Leon spoke in a regretful voice after Raven left.

Argos reprimanded him in a blunt voice.

“You idiot. You should know, of all people. I thought you were born and raised here?”

“Yes?”

“The duke entrusted you and I with the safety of the lady and the baroness. Even though this place is the center of the imperial castle, it’s still someone else’s home. You never know what’s going to happen to the duke, as well as the ladies. Of course, we don’t need to worry about His Excellency, but it’s different with the ladies.”

“Ah…!”

Leon took on a serious expression.

He had forgotten that the Royal Batallium was a place where all kinds of schemes and politics took place. In addition, numerous nobles were gathered in the imperial castle due to the matter of Duke Arangis’ disposition and the coronation of the new crown prince.

It was still unclear who was their ally and who was their enemy, so they were the only ones that could stand by and protect Lady Irene and Baroness Conrad.

His lord was entrusting him with such a paramount task.

Leon clenched his fist, his heart pounding like a blazing inferno.

“I will do my best and give my all to…”

“Not with your pathetic skills. Put on your sandbags and follow me. There is a garden right in front of the ladies’ quarters. We train there today.”

“Ye, yes!”

Leon’s and Argos’ continuous pursuit for the strongest power resumed in the imperial castle.

“Have you met the princesses?”

“…Let’s break the habit of asking questions you already know the answer to.”

Ian asked with a subtle expression, and Raven replied bluntly. Ian slapped Raven on the shoulder while giggling.

“You should enjoy your troubles with women when you have the chance. Besides, it’s not even over yet. The majority of the nobles that gathered in the White Palace today brought their daughters or nieces. Why do you think they did?”

“How should I know?”

“Keuk! Tonight’s banquet is hosted by the emperor himself. All sorts of nobles will be gathering, whether they are from the imperial castle or from elsewhere. It’s a good chance to get acquainted and meet new people, especially for young men and women.

“So?”

“A young duke without an official wife has come! Moreover, everyone saw how His Majesty was treating you today. Kekeuk! What do you think is going through the minds of the nobles who have daughters of marriageable age?”

“…….”

Raven already had a rough idea, but his expression became worse as Ian made fun of him. But on the contrary, Ian’s playful smile deepened.

“I mean, you should hope that the girls are at least of marriageable age. Apparently, someone sent his 12-year-old niece to a great territory’s heir, even though he’s 30-years old. Well, engagements are pretty common at that age, but to think he would marry her off right away… Oh, how I envy you.”

“Really? I’ll make sure to tell Irene about it.”

Raven initiated his counterattack. He had already learned ways to deal with Ian.

“I was wrong. I apologize.”

Ian became surprised and immediately lowered his tail. Then after coughing a few times, he continued speaking with a very serious expression.

“Anyway, all sorts of people will be wagging their tails at the banquet today. Of course, they’re only acting like that on the surface. If the situation changes, they’ll be sure to quickly jump the boat.”

“So, in the end, I only need to deal with the people I’m about to meet right now?”

Ian smirked as Raven stroked his chin.

“You know well. I’ve already laid out the board, so you just need to learn their faces.”

“All right. Oh, is the captain of the Golden Lion Knights also coming?”

“Sir Granite? No, he’s not coming. He’s usually by the side of His Majesty. But why?”

“Is he strong?”

When Raven asked calmly, Ian shrugged and replied, as if Raven was asking the obvious.

“As far as I know, he’s the strongest here. He’s the only one who can directly face the emperor’s spirit. Even I cannot do something like that.”

“Hmm…”

Raven had also directly faced the emperor’s spirit, but he didn’t mention it.

But one thing was for certain. Besides the emperor, the number of people he needed to meet in the imperial castle increased to two.

‘Lindegor, and Jean Granite…’

They were people who could cause Raven to be anxious even when he had Soldrake’s spirit. In the past, he probably wouldn’t have been able to even properly look at them.

“But why are you asking about Lord Granite?”

“I need to find out something. Could you introduce me to him?”

Jean Granite would know about Ivan Jitter’s whereabouts, and if the man was still in the northern army, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to establish a relationship with him.

“Hmm. Well, I’ll try to set up a meeting soon.”

Ian readily accepted.

Count Jean Granite was the emperor’s right-hand man, but he was also a true knight who never got involved in any political affairs.

Even though Ian wasn’t very close to him, Ian regarded him highly for his undying loyalty to the emperor. It would bring about positive outcomes if such a person made ties with the Pendragon Duchy.

“Now, we’re here. Everyone is already gathered.”

Raven raised his head as Ian gestured with his chin.

A dozen or so people were huddled in a relatively small hall across the corridor, conversing with each other.

“His Highness, Prince Ian and His Excellency, Duke Pendragon.”

At the voice of a servant, the figures stopped talking and turned their heads.

‘Hmm? They’re…’

A glimmer appeared in the eyes of Raven as he slowly walked towards the group. There were two people among the group that he was already familiar with.

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