Chapter 146

Thud.

When Count Sagunda left, Duke Linegor sat back down comfortably on his chair. The blue sunset that pierced through the large window enveloped his figure.

“Wasn’t it too blatantly impulsive?”

A thick voice rang throughout the empty room. However, Duke Lindegor displayed no shock, and he smiled warmly after finishing his wine.

“It’s just perfect for someone who’s blinded by greed.”

“It could be troublesome for Pendragon. It wouldn’t be good for both you and the Lindegor family if the foolish were to gain power.”

The voice spoke rather casually to Duke Lindegor, even though Duke Lindegor was at the pinnacle of the empire besides the emperor himself. 

And yet, Duke Lindegor did not seem to mind the tone of the voice.

“If he’s not capable enough, that he would be troubled with a human like that, then it’s best for him to be beaten now. The true enemies that wait for him aren’t mere flies that live to gain a handful of power. Anyways…”

Duke Lindegor spoke in a low voice and turned his head towards the window, where the gorgeous sunset was disappearing into the horizon. Then he continued speaking.

“Did you not say you would not come to this place?”

Fwoosh…

The room, which was only colored by the sunset, suddenly lit up brightly, then the empty space slowly became occupied. A white flame erupted from the empty air and morphed into a figure.

Finally, a man appeared. He was dressed in graceful armor, which seemed as if it was made by sewing scales together. Even though the figure appeared to be human, the presence of white wings that fluttered behind his backs suggested otherwise. His cold face was devoid of wrinkles, making it hard to guess his age. 

“That was my plan. But something interesting happened on the Robstein Plains.”

The man spoke with an expressionless face, then sat down opposite Duke Lindegor.

“Robstein Plains? What interesting thing could happen in such a desolate place?”

“Soldrake and Amuhalt met there.”

“…..!”

The eyes of Duke Lindegor glowed coldly. He was one of the few people who knew about Amuhalt.

“Do you think they are trying to combine powers?”

“Haha! That could never be true. Every dragon is itself a kingdom.”

Even at the winged man’s ridiculing tone, Duke Lindegor’s expression remained worried.

“Even so, isn’t it strange for two dragons to meet in a particular place? And if it were Soldrake and Amuhalt…”

One was the monarch of the dragons, and the other was the second most powerful dragon. The meeting of such powerful beings could not be passed off as mere coincidence.

“It is strange, and also interesting. Moreover, they happened to meet in Robstein Plains, not in one of their nests.”

“Is there something in that wilderness?”

“I don’t know. I wish I knew the exact location of their encounter, but I can’t pinpoint it.”

“Hmm, I don’t think we could pass it off as a mere, interesting event.”

“Is that so? Isn’t curiosity the most pleasing thing to you humans?”

“Excessive curiosity could lead to one’s death. Besides, if it escapes even you, Lord Seiel, isn’t it natural for me to be worried?”

Seiel, the Lindegor family’s guardian angel had a cold smile hanging around his mouth. Seiel was the head of the Heavenly Apostles that assisted Illeyna, the Goddess of Light. Moreover, he was the only angel that was allowed to descend to the human world. The angel spoke to the head of the family he had watched over for hundreds of years.

“When Goddess Illeyna first asked me to stand by your family, I did not understand. All the gods are careful observers of this world. They nourish on human prayers and beliefs.”

“With all due respect, I already know all of this.”

“Keep listening. Therefore, when an angel serving a god materializes on earth, and even stands by a certain bloodline, there are many repercussions in the godly realm. In fact, when I was first ordered to watch over your family, many gods protested bitterly.”

“…..”

Seiel spoke of the facts that only the emperor and the direct descendants of the Lindegor family knew. Duke Lindegor silently maintained his gaze on the angel. 

“And yet, Goddess Illeyna went through the trouble of sending me down. And now it has been hundreds of years she made that decision, which neither the gods, nor I understood. During that time, the man-made empire of Aragon was constructed and everything continued without any large chaos.”

“There has never been a break from war in the history of the empire.”

“It’s human nature. Although there were constant wars between human beings, and even several insolent attempts from sorcerers who dared to go against the nature of things, the damage to the world was kept to a minimum. But things are different now. The world is heading into a difficult predicament. It will be impossible to solve with your own powers.”

“Is that the reason for the meeting between Soldrake and Amuhalt?”

“Those are my thoughts. And I believe that Goddess Illeyna sent me down to your family for that very reason as well. Most importantly, I don’t think it is a coincidence that Soldrake, the Queen of the Dragons, chose the human named Pendragon around the same time.”

“…So in the end, Lord Seiel was…”

“Goddess Illeyna had arranged and prepared for it. She wanted the Dragon Queen and I to correct the balance of this empire.”

“Balance…”

“Yes, with the emperor, the man who goes beyond human limits, as the center of it all. This way, the humans and the other races will continue to prosper and nourish the gods with faith and prayer.”

“Hmm..”

Duke Lindegor nodded dully.

Before the first Emperor Aragon constructed the empire, chaos was widespread in the world. All the races had been facing a steep decline, including the humans. However, the establishment of the empire calmed the confusion and stabilized the world with the human race at its center. Stability called for the construction of temples for the gods, and faith and prayer increased accordingly. In the end, the stability and prosperity of the world were what kept the gods’ permanence.

And… even though people were unaware, the emperor and the two families existed at the center of it all. The two families of Pendragon and Lindegor assisted the emperor, while also keeping him in check.

“Do you understand? That is the reason why Pendragon must not be defeated here in the imperial castle, the heart of the empire.”

“Then are you telling me to help the Pendragon family?”

Seiel smiled expressionlessly at the quiet words of Duke Lindegor.

“I will leave the decision to you. Unfortunately, I do not have the authority to observe the future. As the head of the Lindegor family, do what you can, and do what you must. I will do what I can as the observer of your family.”

“….”

Seiel spoke strange, wise words -- words that were difficult to interpret. Duke Lindegor contemplated quietly at the words of the angel, who had existed for as long as a dragon.

Seiel quietly observed the duke for a moment, then suddenly turned his head to look outside the window. 

“I can feel the presence of the Queen.”

“Are you saying that Soldrake will come to the imperial castle?”

Duke Lindegor asked in a surprised manner.

“I wonder… But it’s certain that she felt me, just as I felt her.”

Seiel stared at the sky, his eyes filled with quivering fire. His gaze was piercing as if he was seeing something invisible to the naked eye.

***

The entire capital was filled with vitality. The grand banquet was always held in concert with the emperor’s audience. Preparations had already begun in the imperial castle ever since the emperor’s audience was scheduled, as they had anticipated the grand banquet to be held afterward. 

The nobles that were present in the imperial castle became busy while squealing joyfully. 

Thousands of nobles resided in the capital at any time. Firstly, the officials and the knights of the capital numbered in the thousands, and high-ranking nobles owned mansions or villas in the capital, as it was the center of politics, commerce, and culture. 

In addition, numerous low-ranking nobles desiring to become officials or imperial knights flocked to the capital. This resulted in never-ending social gatherings and parties in the capital, both large and small. 

However, such parties and gatherings were incomparable to the grand banquet, which was hosted by the emperor himself. 

Being able to attend the banquet in itself was a measure of current status and power. In addition, almost all prestigious nobles attended the banquet. Therefore, the lower-ranking nobles were eager to receive an invitation, and those that had already received the invitations were looking forward to creating new relationships at the banquet.

This was especially true for the young nobles. They were inflated with the highest of hopes and expectations. 

Many famous figures would be attending – the heir to the Roxan family, the Governor-General of Edenfield, who was still relatively young and was recently bereaved of his wife, and the princes and princesses of the imperial castle, who rarely left the imperial castle. 

It was a golden opportunity to meet young officials and knights from prestigious families and to finally see renowned ladies that were like flowers on clouds. Most of all… everyone was anxious to see Duke Pendragon and his sister. 

“Viscount Astra and his companions.”

“Sir Geron Altos, an imperial knight, and his fiancée, Olivia.”

“Sir Milito, leader of the Heavenly Eagle Knights…”

The various gates at the Wall of the Lion were packed with thousands of visitors after a long time. Carriages were not allowed inside the imperial castle, so all of the men and women stood in front of the gate after crossing the drawbridge, regardless of their status. All of them were dressed up and dolled up in preparation for the banquet.

“Phew! There are so many people. How many invitations were sent out?”

Someone approached Alion, the commander of the guards at the Wall of the Lion. Alion was standing on a low balcony that was located next to the gate, observing the nobles that stood at the entrance.

Turning his head, Baron Alion gave a short answer.

“Around three hundred.”

“Every invitation allows for an accompaniment of four people, so at least a thousand people will attend. It’s been a while since the Golden Lion Hall was that full.”

“That means extra work for both the inner and the outer castle. Anyways, if you have nothing else to do, why don’t you go down and entertain the attendees, Graham?”

Baron Alion spoke bluntly.

Sir Graham, the commander of the first castle gate, smiled and shrugged.

“Shouldn’t I get to goof around a little on a day like this, when everyone enters and exits through the same gate? Besides, ladies are scared of guys like me who have tough faces. But it might be different for you, our own handsome commander.”

“How useless. Well, you can at least go and see if there’s anyone suspicious.”

Knowing how responsible Graham, his subordinate, was, Baron Alion was unable to repress a smile any longer.

“Yeah, yes, yes sir.”

Although they had known each other for a long time and were close, they were on duty right now. They had to remain professional.

So Graham followed the orders of his superior and carefully examined the people under the gate and the road, which were brightly lit with hundreds of lanterns. His eyes became narrowed as he noticed something.

“Look over there.”

“Hmm?”

Baron Alion turned to where Graham was pointing towards. Soon, his expression turned rather dumbfounded.

“What is he doing? Is he actually here to attend the banquet?”

“I wonder as well. He looks like he’s come to fight in a duel somewhere.”

The eyes of the knights gathered towards one particular person, a person who constantly glanced around without rest.

The man had short brown hair, and a boisterous, manly face. He was tall and had a good physique. He appeared to be in his late-20s, and he was dressed quite differently from all the other nobles who stood waiting. Most of the male nobles were dressed in neat, graceful dress coats. The young man, however, was dressed in a thick, long coat of reddish-brown fur, and adorned in a thick cape. In addition, a longsword was clearly visible within his cloak, and his clean leather boots were faded as if they were old and worn.

“Huh? What on earth is he doing?”

Baron Alion frowned without realizing it, then clicked his tongue.

The man with the rustic attire was already receiving weird gazes because of his clothing, but in addition, he kept his eyes glued to ladies who appeared quite pretty, and winked or grinned when he met their eyes. However, he immediately turned his head rather awkwardly with a blank expression and licked his lips as if he was repressing his desires.

“Why do you think he’s acting like that...?”

“I wonder…?”

The two knights tilted their heads as they watched the man act in mysterious ways.

After a while, no one was left in the vicinity of the man. Nevertheless, the man kept glancing around and winked whenever he saw a pretty woman, before immediately breaking out into an awkward cough. Soon, he neared the castle gate.

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