Unlike the other nobles who were dressed in fancy clothing, Duke Pendragon looked rather modest in a simple, blue robe.
The only ornament he had was a thin stripe of gold that hung obliquely on his top. But his unique spirit and dignity were revealed in his sinking blue eyes and calm steps. His very presence was more than enough to invite the admiration of all the nobles.
In particular, the women’s gazes were concentrated, regardless of their age.
There were many strong knights. But most of the reputable and strong knights were big and burly.
But the young man that received their gaze had won all the battles he had engaged in thus far, even though he had such a fine appearance. He was the perfect knight of every woman's dreams.
Like Prince Charming on the back of a white stallion, he was Duke Pendragon.
However, the women’s gazes turned rather depressing as soon as they saw the figures that followed Duke Pendragon. A lady wearing an antique, elegant white dress with a jewel-encrusted silver crown – she was reminiscent of a descended goddess or a fairy.
“Haa... It’s as if I am seeing the young Princess Elena once again…”
At the words of an elderly lady, the older ladies near her all nodded in agreement while gazing at Irene with hazy eyes.
“Then the lady next to her…”
The women’s eyes turned to the girl who walked alongside Irene.
She had an innocent, cute face, but a contrastingly voluptuous body. Her red-hot cheeks revealed her shy, yet excited feelings, and it invoked a sense of wanting to tease her for all who saw her.
“It must be Baroness Conrad.”
“It’s no wonder His Excellency Duke Pendragon is so into her.”
Although her beauty was less than Irene Pendragon, women of age knew that men loved women of Lindsay’s style from their past experiences.
While most of the higher-ranking nobles were unable to take their gazes off of Raven, Irene, and Lindsay, the relatively low-ranking nobles also noticed the two men who were also part of the group, although not descended from the Pendragon family.
It was Killian and Leon.
Killian had taken off the thick fur cape from before and was now wearing a thin, light metal chest and a black cape embroidered with the crest of the dragon. Anyone could see he was a strong, reliable knight.
Leon also had long limbs and a solid physique, so the imperial robes fit him quite well.
Quite a few ladies stared at the two men with slight blushes on their faces. As men from the renowned Pendragon Duchy, they were one of the best husband candidates.
However, not everyone was glancing at the Pendragon Duchy’s group with friendly eyes.
“Now that I’m seeing them in person, there’s not much to them.”
A considerable number of nobles with Count Sagunda at their center displayed their discomfort and dislike as they glanced towards Raven. Among them, there were those who blatantly snorted or clicked their tongue.
A voice rang loudly through the ever-increasing sound of music once more.
“The great master of our empire, His Majesty Emperor Aragon!”
All of the male nobles took off their hats and the women slightly raised their dresses. Everyone bent one knee slightly and bowed.
The Lion Hall fell silent in an instant.
Accompanied by the grand chorus of music, Emperor Aragon revealed himself along with dozens of members of the royal family. Only two people, Duke Pendragon and Duke Lindegor, did not bow their heads at the emperor’s appearance. They observed the emperor as he slowly walked through the hall.
The emperor was escorted by Count Jean Granite and the Royal Knights. He appeared even more confident and authoritative than he had in the White Palace. The empress walked right next to him with a kind smile, and she was also full of grace and authority, befitting her status as the lady of the great empire.
After showing courtesy, the nobles raised their heads one by one.
The princes and the princesses that followed behind the emperor with Ian and Ingrid in the forefront were all extraordinary in appearance. The nobles busily looked at the Aragon family with eyes filled with admiration.
But Raven’s gaze had already strayed away from the emperor and the empress.
His eyes landed on the young man who was walking right behind Ian and Ingrid. The young man was walking in an undisturbed manner, and he was quite different from Ian. If Ian could be considered eccentric and fiery, this young man was…
‘Water… He’s like a lake.’
That was Raven’s first impression of the young man.
Raven had a hunch that the young man, who seemed close to his own age, was Geoffrey Aragon – Geoffrey Aragon, the prince who had become the emperor in Raven’s past.
The seats designated for the royal family were not too distant from the Pendragon Duchy’s spots, so Geoffrey Aragon drew closer with every step. As if feeling Raven’s gaze, Geoffrey Aragon turned his head.
The two young men’s gazes met in the air.
Raven was a little surprised.
As soon as their gazes met, Geoffrey Aragon had become startled and initiated a silent salute. Anyone could see that Prince Geoffrey considered Duke Pendragon to be a difficult person. In fact, some of the quick-witted nobles even frowned or kicked their tongues when they noticed the sight.
But Raven maintained his gaze on Geoffrey with a calm expression.
‘This is strange.’
Geoffrey’s dark, purple eyes seemed calm on the surface.
But Raven felt his intuition telling him otherwise.
Geoffrey’s flowing river-like atmosphere from a little while ago had completely disappeared. He seemed to have undergone a massive change in an instant.
If Raven had to express it in words…
‘Is he anxious to see me?’
It was hard to understand, but it was the only possible explanation.
‘Why is it? It should be the first time he’s seen me…’
Raven observed Geoffrey Aragon with keen eyes.
Even though he did not arouse any spirit, Raven’s eyes delved in deeper. He noticed that Geoffrey Aragon’s eyes were quivering slightly. In addition, Raven felt an unknown hostility in the prince’s eyes that avoided his own gaze. It was very strange, but Raven feigned ignorance and turned his gaze elsewhere.
The emperor raised his hand, and the music died down completely.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the various sirs and ladies that have attended my banquet today. Please enjoy your time here. Then, to all of your health.”
After finishing his short speech, the emperor raised his glass high and emptied his drink. Everyone followed suit and lifted their glasses.
“Long live the emperor!”
“Let the Aragon Empire last forever!”
As many as a thousand people shouted in a united voice wishing the wellbeing of the emperor and the empire.
As the last of the echoes died down in the Golden Lion Hall, the imperial orchestra resumed playing.
As the cheerful music brightened up the somewhat heavy atmosphere, the nobles began to act on the real purpose of attending the grand banquet with smiles on their faces.
It was the beginning of the silent war, a war of friendship and networking. And most of the heroes of today’s war aimed at the same target. Unfortunately, however, the target wasn’t aware of the situation.
“Your Excellency Duke Pendragon, it is my greatest honor to finally meet you. To introduce myself, I am the second son of Viscount Belline Teemo, the lord of the Teemo territory…”
“Your Excellency, Duke Pendragon, I would like to introduce you to my niece, Ezet…”
“Your Excellency! If I may speak to you, I am the deputy chief of the Knights of the Southern Cross…”
“Your Excellency Duke Pendragon…!”
Raven was dumbfounded by the simultaneous love calls that resonated from all around. As soon as the emperor’s short toast finished, a great number of both male and female nobles had rushed towards him like a flock of hungry beasts. He even felt a brief moment of fear.
If they numbered one or two, he might have been able to respond, but it was impossible when dozens fought to make themselves known to him. There was nothing he could do. Of course, Ian had warned him beforehand, so he had already predicted the situation to a certain degree.
But he had never expected so many people to pounce on him at once. To think high-ranking nobles would act like this…
‘It’s because of them.’
Governor-General Elven of Edenfield and some of Ian’s close confidantes had rushed towards him as soon as the emperor finished his speech. Then, after they succeeded in drawing the crowd, they stepped back and smiled meaningfully.
Raven clicked his tongue. It seemed they had purposefully flamed the situation. However, there was a huge problem. The number of people surrounding him was only increasing as time passed.
“Excellency Duke Pendragon…!”
The crowd numbered only 20 or 30 at first, but now it was beginning to exceed 50. The nobles who were only glancing in the beginning started to join in the fray as the crowd began to grow larger and larger.
In the end, considering that a little over 800 nobles attended the banquet, one in ten people was trying to get the attention of Duke Pendragon.
Raven could not stand it anymore, so he stood up and slightly raised his voice. The crowd of nobles flinched before staring at Raven with glistening eyes.
Though a little embarrassed, Raven spoke with a calm expression, recalling what Ian had told him before the banquet.
“I am truly grateful for your hospitality, but as you can see, my seat is small and I only have one body… Are there any suitable places?”
Ian was staring expectantly at Raven. Then, when Raven spoke, Ian giggled and spoke to one of the head servants.
After a series of orders, servants, who were standing by, moved chairs and tables, quickly creating space for 40, 50 people.
“My social skills are so poor so I do not know if I can converse with you all properly. Of course, if we talk with the sword, we can go at it until dawn tomorrow.”
Raven felt his hands and feet shrivel at his own words, but he managed to recite the lines that Ian advised. As advice stemming from one of the best party maniacs of the capital, the effect was immediate.
“Hahaha! You jest, Your Excellency!”
“Now I see it. The Duke’s social skills are as great as his renowned swordsmanship!”
As laughter blossomed among the nobles, Raven followed suit with Ian’s second advice.
Raven descended from the higher seats and strode across the hall. Irene and the rest of the group followed behind him.
The faces of the nobles brightened once more.
Other prestigious nobles were enjoying their time by themselves in the balconies even though they ranked lower than a duke. But Duke Pendragon had chosen to come down from the balconies.
Of course, when it came time for the ballroom dance, everyone would come down from the balcony, starting with the emperor and the empress. However, the young duke’s action of coming down now was quite unconventional.
Like a shepherd and his flock of sheep, the nobles followed after Raven and his companions. Naturally, everyone’s gaze gathered when almost a hundred nobles followed after Raven and his companions.
“Come, let’s sit down.”
Raven sat down in one of the seats that the servants had gathered.
Irene naturally settled down at a table a little away from Raven, and Lindsay, who was a little wary, looked around before attempting to follow Irene. She felt that sitting next to Irene would be reassuring and comforting. But her attempt to do so fell through. Someone had caught her wrists as she attempted to move along.
“My lady should stay by my side.”
Even though the blunt voice was laced with awkwardness, Lindsay felt touched. She felt like bursting out into tears.
“It is only natural. I will protect Lady Irene, so Your Excellency and the baroness can…”
“You can sit down over there, Sir Killian. There are quite a few people over there who seem to admire you.”
“Huh? Uh, well, that…”
Killian’s face suddenly became teary at the cold-cut words of Raven.
While there were many young ladies at Irene’s table, Raven had pointed towards a table that was filled with muscular men dressed in neat robes. Anyone could tell that they were knights.
To make matters worse, Killian’s identity as the head knight of the Pendragon Duchy had already been revealed. The knights were sending Killian burning gazes.
“My lord, still, I should guard the Lady and…”
Killian spoke in a hurry. Raven beckoned towards Killian, then whispered in a quiet voice to the knight’s ear.
“Egg. Rumors may spread in the imperial castle…”
“I, Mark Killian. If my lord commands me to jump into the fiery depths of hell, then I will do so unhesitatingly.”
Thus, the great ambition of Mark Killian was thwarted.
Killian limped away weakly, and Raven turned his head to the nobles who sat around him with a soft smile. He proceeded to follow the script written by Ian.
Here at the Royal Batallium, the silent war had finally begun for Raven. This was his first major undertaking after officially taking the title of Duke as Alan Pendragon.Previous Chapter Next Chapter