Chapter 145

“Yes, go ahead.”

Ian was already thinking along the same lines as Raven, so he allowed Dos Giovanni to speak without hesitation.

“First of all, I have no doubts about the words of Your Excellency and Your Highness. I think the same goes for the others who are present.”

“Hmm…”

Dos Giovanni continued after looking around at the nobles, who were nodding their heads in agreement.

“However, I honestly don’t know if the others who are gathered in the imperial castle will naively believe the same words as well. Most of all, the sad truth is that there is no evidence for the claim, just the words of Your Highness and Your Excellency.”

“What…?”

“How audacious! Watch your mouth!”

Three or four nobles sprang to their feet in fury. But Ian raised his hand and stopped them.

“No, he’s not wrong. Keep going.”

“Thank you for your understanding, Your Highness. To continue, I believe the reason that Your Highness and Your Excellency are bringing the matter up right now is because sufficient evidence has been gathered already. Are my intuitions correct?”

Gazes of concern and expectation headed towards Raven.

Raven replied with a smirk.

“I think you should continue to believe in your instincts. Yes, I have a clear hand. But from my understanding, I think you already know what my cards are.”

“Yes, with all due respect, in my opinion…”

The expressions of the nobles changed as Dos Giovanni continued his words in a quiet voice.

***

At the same time, at the Hundred Silver Palace.

Count Sagunda, his followers, and a man in his late twenties were talking in a spacious, decorative room. The young man was neatly dressed in a brightly red-colored robe.

“So, Lord Roxan is also very concerned about the actions of the Pendragon Duchy as well, is that what you mean?”

“That is correct, Lord Sagunda.”

Jamie Roxan, the heir to the strongest territory of the Aragon empire, replied with a relaxed smile.

“So then that means you share the same sentiment?”

Even though Jamie was much younger than him, Count Sagunda could not treat him carelessly. He felt an unknown sense of pressure radiating from the young man, perhaps due to the family name of Roxan.

“Naturally. No matter how guilty one is, it is unacceptable to single-handedly kill the heir to a great territory. High Lords and their heirs can only be judged by the emperor’s knights, thus, only the emperor himself can convict and punish them.”

Jamie Roxan answered in a grim voice.

The Roxan family followed the lineage of an ancient family of a kingdom, one that existed even before the founding of the Aragon Empire. They had a great army of 10,000 soldiers and in terms of power, they were considered to be on par with moderately-sized kingdoms.

The knights and the nobles spoke up in agreement.

“The words of Roxan’s young master are indeed correct.”

“Of course. Even if he is a duke, he went way too far with the incident in Edgel, especially considering the prestige of the Louvre family.”

Everyone voiced their anger towards Duke Pendragon in one voice.

“Your Excellency Sagunda, weren’t you also subjected to humiliation by Duke Pendragon in Leus?”

Jamie Roxan brought up the matter in a casual voice, and Count Sagunda frowned.

“That is correct. I hosted a duel in order to liven the mood during my banquet, but I didn’t expect to see such a brutal sight. And yet, there was not even an apology. Even if he was indeed the heir of a duchy, I didn’t expect him to be so arrogant.”

Everyone here knew about the history between Count Sagunda and the late Duke Gordon Pendragon. Moreover, they knew Count Sagunda deliberately encouraged the duel in order to embarrass Alan Pendragon publicly.

But no one bothered to mention it.

They were gathered to denunciate Alan Pendragon, the man who was emerging as the core of the imperial castle’s typhoon. Only then they could keep Prince Ian in check, therefore ultimately retaining their power and interests.

“By the way, I say this because I trust you all…”

Count Sagunda looked around the angry nobles with a satisfied look, then spoke in a quiet voice.

“I have already received a letter from His Excellency Count Louvre. He said he will not hesitate to offer full cooperation if we can take care of Duke Pendragon.”

“His successor was killed for something so ridiculous, so isn’t it obvious? Now let’s see. Us, Roxan, Lord Sagunda, and Lord Louvre. Three great territories share the same sentiment.”

“That’s right. Even His Majesty will not be able to take us lightly.”

“But in this situation, we will need someone to represent us and communicate our thoughts. Do you have anyone in mind already?”

‘Hmph! Pretending to not know… You take after your father; a little boy but already so shrewd.’

Jamie Roxan feigned an ignorant expression, mentioning his concern as if he knew nothing of the matter. Count Sagunda snorted inwardly.

There was a stark difference between sharing a will and taking the lead. It was common sense that the flag bearer was the first to be killed if anything went wrong.

Jamie Roxan knew very well who Count Sagunda had in mind as a candidate for the crown prince. He was clearly expressing his stance, that he would leave right away if something went awry.

‘But…’

The emperor had already shown a favorable attitude towards the brat in the White Palace, and even the empress had openly invited Duke Pendragon to the Golden Rose Palace.

In the end, it was himself who was in a hurry, so Count Sagunda had made up his mind before coming to see Jamie Roxan.

“I was considering how His Highness Prince Geoffrey would fit the role. I have heard that his spirit is becoming unusually strong as of late. He also has a calm, gentle temperament, so I think he could manage our great empire without any troubles for a generation.”

“Hooh, His Highness Geoffrey…”

Count Sagunda almost snorted loudly at Jamie Roxan’s attitude. Jamie Roxan acted surprised even though he already knew very well what Sagunda’s answer was going to be.

All of the nobles in the imperial city knew that Baroness Earlin, the mother of Prince Geoffrey, was a relative to the Sagunda family. Of course, officially, she was just a foster niece that a distant relative had given up on.

“If it’s Prince Geoffrey, he will make a great monarch, just as Your Excellency said. Well, but a thought just came into my head, I’m afraid that there’s just a bit of concern…”

Count Sagunda frowned slightly as Jamie Roxan blurted the end of his words.

“What is it?”

“First of all, does he have an inclination towards the throne? And secondly, and more importantly…”

After a short pause, Jamie Roxan continued with a cold, sharp expression, befitting his status as the heir to the empire’s most powerful territory. The atmosphere changed completely from before.

“As far as I am aware, Duke Pendragon has a dagger held under your throat, Your Excellency. A sharp knife from the Great Territory of Sisak called Ruv Tylen.”

“…..!”

The atmosphere froze over.

It was a matter that everyone was concerned about but didn’t dare bring up.

There was a rumor that a knight named Ruv Tylen was caught as the true assailant responsible for the assassination attempt on Crown Prince Shio. Moreover, apparently the knight had a relationship with Count Sagunda.

The heir of Roxan had just brought up the matter right in front of Count Sagunda’s face.

Count Sagunda was momentarily taken aback but then replied with a wry smile.

“…Does Your Grace also believe in nonsensical rumors that have been flying around?”

Jamie Roxan into a carefree laughter, erasing his sharp expression from before.

“Hahaha! Of course not. But you should knock on a bridge before crossing, even if it is a stone bridge, don’t you agree?”

“I am not a stone bridge to fall.”

“Of course, I know that. But even so. If a single protruding stone makes the solid bridge appear weak…”

Jamie Roxan smiled gruesomely and whispered.

“Then you just get rid of the stone, don’t you agree? Now that it’s become useless.”

“…..!”

The shoulders of the nobles trembled.

Jamie Roxan had just implied getting rid of a jutting stone called Ruv Tylen…

“Hoo-hoo! You don’t have to worry about that. The crows have flown towards the protruding stone. Before it protrudes even more, the crows will take it away. The baby dragon won’t ever get to hold the stone. Naturally, the little crows have nothing to do with me.”

“Hooh, that’s very reassuring.”

Count Sagunda’s words meant that he had already made preparations in case Ruv Tylen would head towards the imperial castle from the Pendragon Duchy.

“I think I must have been too worried because of my timid personality. Then, I’ll trust your words and contribute actively.”

For their own benefits, the representatives of the two families joined hands.

“Now, then, I’m thinking of visiting the bear that will keep the baby dragon from sprouting. Do you care to join me?”

Jamie Roxan’s expression became slightly serious when Duke Lindegor was mentioned. Out of everyone present in the imperial castle, Duke Lindegor was the only one who could keep Duke Pendragon in check, besides the emperor.

“Wouldn’t it be a little dangerous? The bear might decide to feast on you, and not the baby dragon.”

“Hoo-hoo. The baby dragon might wander out of its nest because of its arrogance, but the bear does not. He will be worried about the dragon growing up and visiting his mountain range.”

“Well, if you think so, I won’t go against you. However, both my father and I want to have no involvement with that person…”

Around a hundred years ago, the Roxan family suffered quite a painful loss due to a territorial battle with the Lindegor Duchy. Even though the differences in their forces were minimal, the Roxan family lost in a devastating manner, losing 30 percent of their forces. From then on, they completely distanced themselves from the Lindegor family, forced to grit their teeth in frustration.

So even though he had taken Count Sagunda’s hand for the benefit of his family, he didn’t want to become involved with the Lindegor family.

‘Hmph! He’s not only shrewd like his father, but also a coward.’

“I understand. Then I will coordinate the relationship with the Lindegor family on my own.”

Sagunda stood up, hiding his innermost thoughts.

“Then take care.”

Count Sagunda and his following of nobles left the room, leaving behind Jamie Roxan’s farewell.

“Good. Now, we just have to drag in Lindegor.”

A glimmer appeared for a brief instant in the eyes of Count Sagunda as he headed to the top of the Hundred Silver Palace, the residence where Duke Lindegor had been assigned to.

***

“Let us do that.”

“What?”

Count Sagunda was surprised when Duke Lindegor agreed too simply. He had been expecting a tougher battle than Jamie Roxan, but wasn’t this too easy?

“Except.”

With a faint smile on his face, Duke Lindegor continued while glancing at the glass of wine in his hand.

“Only when the problem with Ruv Tylen is completely sorted out.”

Count Sagunda became a little flustered. He had not expected Duke Lindegor to bring up the matter so bluntly.

“Mmm…”

It was as he expected.

Duke Lindegor also knew about Ruv Tylen. It was quite obvious, however, as there was no way that the Lindegor family wasn’t aware of the situation.

“You don’t need to worry about that. I have already…”

“I know that you have men ready around the Pendragon Duchy. I also know that Ruv Tylen is still in custody in the spire of Conrad Castle, and that he still has yet to come out of the castle.”

“Hm!”

Sweat slowly dripped along Count Sagunda’s forehead, which was exposed with his combed hair. The intelligence of the Lindegor family was one step ahead of Roxan, as expected from the strongest duchy.

“So, all you have to do is take the lead as soon as possible and disprove the rumors surrounding you.”

“Then you are saying…”

Duke Lindegor’s attitude was so relaxed, that it made even Count Sagunda, who was deeply involved in politics, lose his grip. After taking a sip of wine with a graceful and dignified gesture, Duke Lindegor answered in a slow tone.

“It will take some time for the only witness to arrive here. Duke Pendragon must be planning to form allies within that time with the help of Prince Ian.”

“Hooh…”

Duke Lindegor was reading the situation so accurately that it was hard to believe he had been absent from the imperial castle for more than 20 years.

“In the end, we need to make Duke Pendragon crash before that happens. It doesn’t matter what it is. You can intertwine him with dirty rumors with women, or you can highlight the tragedy of Edgel and band dissatisfied nobles against him.”

“Ohh…!”

“If you can make that happen, I will cooperate with you.”

“I understand, Your Excellency. Then I will trust your words.”

Count Sagunda answered confidently and rose from his seat with a satisfied expression. After expressing courtesy, he moved his steps.

“Ah…!”

Then suddenly, a thought passed through his head, and he turned his head back towards Duke Lindegor. He had doubts about why such a bold and cool-headed person was so willingly cooperating with him.

“Do you have anything else to say?”

Duke Lindegor’s relaxed smile was different from the pertinacious composure of Jamie Roxan. Count Sagunda carefully spoke.

“With all due respect, I would like to know why you are agreeing to my proposal…”

Thud.

Duke Lindegor laid down his glass on the table and slowly rose from his seat. Count Sagunda flinched and took several steps back at the sudden expulsion of a strange spirit.

Even though Duke LIndegor had only risen from his seat, it felt as if Count Sagunda was facing a mountain.

“It seemed like the emperor saw Pendragon as being above Lindegor. That is the reason.”

“…..!”

Count Sagunda trembled as he faced the quiet anger of the noble brown bear, who had been wounded in pride.

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