“Your Majesty! Not long ago, Sir Morgan Louvre, the official successor to the Great Territory of Alice, passed away. Although it was a result of a duel, and even though he had committed an atrocious crime, he was still a knight of the empire and of Your Majesty. There is only one person in the world who could decide his fate, isn’t that so, Your Majesty? Would you not say so, everyone?”
After speaking passionately, Viscount Ayla slowly looked around the hall.
Viscount Gillie Ayla was quite reputable in the noble world. He was a skilled knight, he had good looks, and he was eloquent in his speech as well. Most importantly, even though he was in his early 30s, he was still single, so there were quite a few ladies of all ages who had their eyes on him.
The effect was great when he spoke to the matter with such passion, his eyes turning red with tears as he immersed himself in his speech.
After confirming the reactions of the nobles, he suddenly turned his head towards a certain someone. Following suit, the eyes of the other nobles in the Lion Hall turned as well.
Ayla raised his finger and pointed at the other person and raised his voice, though the other person remained emotionless and unshaken.
“Without Your Majesty’s royal permission! The Duke of Pendragon has acted on his own and judged before killing one of the empire’s knights!”
A flame of murmur slowly spread amongst the nobles.
Of course, everyone already knew about the incident with the Alice Territory’s heir, but it escalated to another level when the matter was brought forth in such a public setting, especially in front of the emperor himself.
“Your Majesty, this is a complete encroachment of authority and balance, it is a serious challenge to your royal authority. Now, sixteen other knights of the empire who share in the same will, as well as myself, GIllie Ayla, strongly condemn Duke Pendragon’s excessive and wrongful behavior and ask Your Majesty to correct the broken and wounded justice. Please, give us your consideration!”
“Please consider, Your Majesty!
“Please consider, Your Majesty!”
As soon as Viscount Ayla finished his speech with his head held down low, other nobles stepped up from all over the place and chimed in their voices as well. All of them had already conspired with Count Sagunda beforehand.
But soon, other nobles began to sympathize with Ayla’s desperate speech and started to come forward as well, unable to hide their fluster.
“That’s correct! Your Majesty is the only one who can judge the high lords and their successors!”
“The high lords are the pillars of our great emperor! Punish those who dare to shake at our foundation!”
Pleas for appeal started to burst out from all over the Lion Hall. After silently listening to the voices of the nobles for a moment, the emperor raised one hand.
Like a lie, the entire hall submerged into silence.
The emperor stood up slowly, then walked past the other royalties who were at a loss due to the situation. Hundreds of nobles moved aside and made way for the sovereign. At the end of the road, the man responsible for the commotion was seated.
The emperor carried on his steps.
The nobles quietly gulped as their nervous gazes remained fixated on the emperor. Some of the other nobles, however, watched the situation unfold with great expectations, gleeful at how the situation was turning out.
Finally, as the emperor neared, he slowly stood up.
Raven solemnly gazed at the emperor who had stopped in front of him. He could feel that Irene and Lindsay were shaking with fear. Even Killian seemed to be at a loss for what to do.
No one knew what would happen. The emperor could even order Raven to be sentenced to death. Raven knew that he had no chance against the dozens of the Royal Knights, especially Count Jean Granite, whom he had found formidable at first sight.
Nevertheless, Raven was devoid of any fear or nervousness. The emperor’s gaze held no hostility against him.
The silence was finally broken as the emperor opened his mouth.
“That is what everyone says, what do you think, Duke Pendragon?”
Raven answered with a slight grin on his face.
“If they say so, then it must be. However, I think this is a matter of your royal judgment, Your Majesty.”
“I see. But wouldn’t it be better for you to say something on the matter? Of course, it’s not me, but the people seem to want to hear your response. Perhaps, an apology.”
Count Sagunda’s face lit up at the emperor’s words.
‘This is it! This is it!”
The emperor escalated the matter on his own accord. Sooner or later, the baby dragon’s reputation would fall down to the abyss. There was no excuse he could come up with.
Regardless of how things would turn out, his honor and reputation among the noble would fall down to unrecoverable depths. In addition, his accomplice, Prince Ian, would also be eliminated from competing for the position of the crown prince.
Politics was in essence, a fight of justification.
Prince Ian would have to take joint responsibility for fostering the baby dragon that shook the very foundations of the noble society, and in the end, he would be eliminated. He would have no justification in succeeding the throne when he was indirectly responsible for causing such a commotion and dividing the empire.
Then, someone else would have the justification of bringing back the divided nobles of the empire, someone that hasn’t caused any particular trouble for anyone.
Perhaps, someone like Geoffrey.
Count Sagunda observed Duke Pendragon and the other nobles with sordid eyes. The young duke was nothing more than a moth to a flame, awaiting his sentence to fall from the heavens.
Indeed, most of the nobles, who prided themselves as pillars of the empire, seemed to be awaiting an apology from the arrogant young duke, just as the emperor suggested.
However, the young man looked around the hall before completely shattering the expectations of the crowd.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, so I have nothing to apologize for.”
Looks of shock and astonishment appeared on the faces of the nobles. The young duke had outright rejected the emperor’s consideration.
However, the shocking situation had only begun.
“Rather, isn’t this situation quite comical? You there, did you say you were Sir Ayla? Have you ever seen me before?”
The sudden comment surprised Ayla and he became flustered. However, he replied with a solemn look after regaining his composure.
“Please don’t change the subject! The duke, as His Majesty said…”
“Sir, right back at you! Don’t change the subject! I asked if you’ve ever met me before, answer me!”
The resounding voice echoed throughout the Lion Hall. As if it wasn’t enough to ignore the emperor’s advice, the young duke had even dared to shout in the presence of the emperor. In a series of incredible events, the nobles became speechless with shock and astonishment.
“Would you like me to answer for you? You have never met me before. Similarly, out of the sixteen people that you have mentioned that share in your will, no, almost everyone present here today must have seen me for the first time.”
Raven’s attitude was arrogant, to say the least, and the people trembled unknowingly as his gaze swept over them.
“So why should the Pendragon Duchy and I become enemies of those present when it’s our first time meeting? Is this a battlefield? Do you dare to start a fight with me when we’ve met for the first time, especially after you call yourselves the loyal servants and knights of His Majesty? Is this how you show your loyalty to His Majesty?”
As Raven’s questions became reproachful, none of the nobles could retort at his words. Above all else, their wills had been repressed by his words.
“I will not avoid it if anyone dares to start a fight with me. As a knight, as the lord of the Pendragon Duchy, I will face those who challenge the duchy. However, everyone that I have met today for the first time is not my enemy. Once again, I want to be clear…”
Raven straightened his shoulders. Strangely, it felt as if he had suddenly grown taller. Raven continued his words with dignity in front of the emperor, the royal family, and the hundreds of nobles.
“I am not an enemy of the emperor or the royal family. The Pendragon Duchy will maintain our bond with the royal family. So… from this moment on, when our first meeting has ended, those who want to make an enemy out of the Pendragon Duchy and I, step forward.”
Even without raising his spirit, the young duke established himself as a proud monarch by the side of the absolute, who had a mysterious, hazy smile.
A breathtaking silence ensued.
The Duke of Pendragon finally turned away, breaking the silence. It was a different type of silence than the one previously broken by the emperor.
“Sir Gillie Ayla, will you make an enemy out of me?”
Even though Viscount Ayla boasted splendid speech, he stammered. He usually enjoyed receiving attention, but at this moment, the gazes of the nobles felt much too burdensome. He knew that Duke Pendragon’s speech was close to sophistry. The young duke hadn’t even mentioned a word about High Lord Louvre and Morgan Louvre.
But there was nothing Ayla could do. The premise of the entire persecution was also initiated with his own sophistry. And by all means, to oppose Duke Pendragon’s words after he proclaimed his loyalty to the emperor was no different from declaring his opposition against the emperor.
In the end, Ayla had no choice but to bow his head.
“I am not an enemy of Your Excellency Duke Pendragon…”
Sighs erupted at Viscount Ayla’s declaration of surrender. But Duke Pendragon wasn’t finished with his attacks yet.
“Good. Then you, sir, and I are not enemies with each other. Now, how about the sixteen of you who shared in Sir Ayla’s sentiment? Will you all become enemies of the Pendragon Duchy?”
Duke Pendragon continued his barrage of attacks without even taking a breath. It was clear that his words were no weaker than his renowned swordsmanship. The faces of mentioned nobles turned white. But after having their vanguard broken, there was nothing they could do either.
“Imperial Knight, Zig Sarat, is not an enemy of Pendragon…”
“The Lord of Malone, Gail Lloyd, is not an enemy of Duke Pendragon…”
Sixten noblemen started to speak after one another. However, a shout interrupted their declarations.
“Explain yourself for what you did in Edgel! Don’t gloss over the essence of today’s matter by diverting the story to one of loyalty towards the emperor!”
Everyone’s eyes turned to the aggravated voice. Count Sagunda continued his outrage with a clear show of aggravation.
“I am a loyal knight of the emperor and the empire! The same goes for the High Lord of Alice! Did you not kill his successor on your own accord, Duke Pendragon!? Explain yourself for that matter! How dare you change the subject in front of His Majesty with smoke and mirrors! Be ashamed of yourself!”
Although he seemed flustered, Count Sagunda’s words once again reminded the dazed nobles.
That was right.
Did Viscount Ayla not come forward before the emperor to bring forth the matter of the death of a great territory’s successor? Did he not accuse Duke Pendragon of insulting the high lords and jeopardizing the authority of the emperor?
Everyone’s thoughts wandered in the same direction. But two people, Raven and Ian, could finally smile joyously inside their hearts.
“Lord Sagunda, did you say you wanted to properly discuss the details of the incident?”
“That’s right! In Edgel, the duke…”
“Good. Then let’s get down to it! We will properly discuss the details of the matter!”
A different voice interjected with a frosty tone, and Count Sagunda was forced to close his mouth and turn towards the owner of the voice. Other nobles also became surprised and turned their heads.
After remaining silent the entire time, Prince Ian finally spoke while moving towards the emperor and Duke Pendragon.
“Your Majesty, Lord Sagunda wants to discuss the details of the important issue, so I would like to proceed. Would you allow it?”
Everyone considered Prince Ian a buffoon and an eccentric, but his father knew best that his second son was more clever and more thorough than anyone else.
He didn’t covet the throne, and he lived only to upkeep the survival and the dignity of the imperial family. He was finally showing his presence in front of others after a long time, and the emperor nodded his head with a satisfied expression.
“It seems like the mood has already soured. Do as you please.”
“Thank you for your generosity.”
After lifting his head, Ian turned to Count Sagunda and gazed at him with eyes that seemed to penetrate the abyss.
“Three years ago, do you remember the attempted assassination on Crown Prince Shio, Lord Sagunda?”
Count Sagunda had been nervous about what Prince Ian was going to say, but after hearing his words, Sagunda suddenly relaxed. In the end, it was just as he expected.
“Hmph! You said you would discuss the details of Edgel’s incident, so I don’t know why you are suddenly bringing up that matter. What in the world does that have to do with m…”
“Of course it has everything to do with you. You hired mercenaries and delivered a poisoned letter to a man named Ruv Tylen, and His Highness Shio was poisoned after reading the letter. I already know all of this.”
“Is, is that true?”
The hall buzzed once more with the whispers of the nobles. Others just stared blankly as the tremendous situation unfolded. They had already witnessed too many situations and too many surprises that they had no energy left to react.
As if he was flabbergasted, the count raised his head and burst out into laughter before suddenly stopping. His vicious gaze turned to Ian.
“Your Highness Ian, can you take responsibility for what you just said? In the royal family…”
“There is no lie in the royal family, Count Sagunda.” Ian cut him off in an icy tone.
Count Sagunda suddenly felt eerie. Something was wrong, something was out of the ordinary. Even though Ian was eccentric, he wasn’t a fool by any means.
When the baby dragon and the young cat crawled in of their own accord, Sagunda had squealed with glee, but…
Count Sagunda shook his head. The embattled kitten must be making its final attempts, helplessly thrashing around in its trap.
‘Now it’s a battle of wits, do you think I would fall for such a cheap trick?’
“Prove it! Evidence! In front of the pillars of the great empire, to spout such nonsense…”
Count Sagunda once again raised his voice, but then a royal guard rushed into the scene before reporting to the head official. After hearing the report, the official’s eyes widened and he shouted in a torn voice.
“Y, Your Majesty…!”
The chief official spoke hastily without even receiving permission from the emperor. It was clear how dire the issue was.
“R, r, right now, the griffons are in the White Palace… The Order of the Golden Griffons and the Pendragon Duchy’s Griffon Riders have arrived! Lord Dante and Duchess Elena Pendragon have arrived together!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter