“Hmm? Elena is here?”
The emperor narrowed his eyes, his expression betraying a hint of joy.
“G, griffons? What is he talking about?”
“How would I know? Anyways, why would Duchess Elena arrive at the imperial castle at this hour…?”
“What is going on here?”
As the situation flowed in an unexpected direction, the confusion of the nobles reached its peak. Count Sagunda also seemed to be shocked as he anxiously shuffled his feet.
Griffons? Elena Pendragon came to the imperial castle with the captain of the empire’s griffon knights? What the hell was going on?
A noble hurriedly approached Count Sagunda and whispered in his ear.
“T, there’s a big problem, Your Excellency. Duchess Elena Pendragon has just arrived with Lord Dante…”
“Are you an idiot? That’s exactly what the chief official just said a moment ago!”
Count Sagunda lashed out at the speaking noble. The noble would usually lower his head after seeing Count Sagunda’s reaction, but he desperately continued on with a face on the verge of tears.
“W, well, that’s not all, my lord. Duchess Elena is said to have brought along a man named Ruv Tylen.”
When someone was shocked out of their minds, they froze in their place. Count Sagunda fit the case perfectly. He stood there wordlessly, unable to speak or think properly. His hands trembled and his eyes shook madly without focus.
How the hell?
Only one question filled his mind.
Riding on the griffon?
Naturally, Count Sagunda had taken the method into consideration. But riding a griffon was harder than one would imagine. Not anyone could just become a griffon rider.
Just as a man needed to become familiar with horses from a young age in order to become a rider, the same applied for griffons. Only special, chosen humans could become griffon riders.
Besides, just as there were roads on the ground, there were roads in the sky. It was simply impossible for griffons to travel for more than a 1,000 miles away from their home when they had been born and bred in the Pendragon Duchy their entire life. Additionally, the Order of the Golden Griffons protected the skies near the capital.
No troops could enter the capital while escaping their eyes, and he knew that Count Dante, the captain of the order, had no connections with the Pendragon Duchy. In the end, no one from the duchy could ever enter the capital while escaping his eyes.
It was even more ridiculous that they happened to arrive on this very day.
However, all his expectations and convictions and all of his plans and careful scheming had gone to waste. Elena Pendragon had personally arrived at the capital with Ruv Tylen.
“What the hell, how the hell…”
“Well, apparently they came on a flying carriage?”
“Flying carriage? A, a carriage that can fly through the air?”
“Yes! I saw it with my own two eyes!”
Count Sagunda felt as he received a massive blow to his head.
“That… doesn’t make… any sense…”
Saliva slowly seeped down his open mouth, and his face was filled with complete dread. He looked as if his soul had escaped his body.
The nobles around him quickly exchanged glances with each other after seeing Count Sagunda’s appearance. Judging from his reaction, the rumors really did seem to be true.
There were certain rumors that certain powerful figures were involved in the attempted assassination of Crown Prince Shio, and that Count Sagunda was one of them. But most of the nobles didn’t believe in such rumors, especially those who were familiar with the count. What would Count Sagunda stand to gain from involving himself in the assassination of the crown prince?
Prince Shio was a fair-hearted man, just like the emperor. He had a nice personality, strong political sense, and he did not have many enemies. Thus, even if Prince Shio rose to the throne, Count Sagunda would be able to continue his reign and maintain his high status and great power just as he had done until now.
Count Sagunda remained calm even when Duke Pendragon had revealed the truth of the assassination in Sisak.
It was clear in anyone’s eyes that Count Sagunda was uninvolved in the matter. Therefore, many nobles sided with Count Sagunda regarding the establishment of the next Crown Prince. They felt it would be better for Prince Geoffrey, the gentle prince, to become the next emperor rather than the eccentric, fiery, Prince Ian.
Of course, it didn’t really matter if Prince Ian did rise to the throne.
In order to properly manage the humongous empire, it was important to follow the flow and make peace with the nobles of the empire, regardless of their previous relationship. The important families had stood with the empire for generations while amassing their wealth and power, and no good would come from conflicting with them.
As a new emperor, it would be a tremendous burden to turn hostile. Therefore, even yesterday’s enemies had to be embraced after one ascended the throne.
But now, things were completely different. If Count Sagunda was truly involved in the assassination attempt of the crown prince, it was obvious that the Sagunda bloodline would be exterminated and that those involved with him would also take a large hit.
“Le, let’s go…”
“Let us do that…”
The nobles who were around Count Sagunda slowly left their seats one by one. For now, they needed to urgently find a new rope to hold onto, and it seemed that their saving line was closer than they originally thought.
Dozens of armed knights proudly entered the Lion Hall.
“It’s the Order of the Golden Griffons…”
Voices of envy and admiration filled the hall at their appearance.
Their armors were decorated with the proud symbol of the empire. On top of a laurel, a sword separated a golden lion and a griffon, both facing each other. The symbol represented the peak force of the empire that stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Royal Knights, the Order of the Golden Griffons.
Soon, the nobles noticed that not everyone that entered the Lion Hall were part of the Order of the Golden Griffon. Quite a few of the nobles who attended Count Sagunda’s banquet recognized one of the protagonists from the duel between the Toleo Arangis’ forces and Alan Pendragon’s forces.
“It’s Sir Isla…”
“That’s right! That’s the Orc Slayer of the Pendragon Duchy! That’s Sir Elkin Isla!”
Some of the nobles spoke in a fuss while pointing to the tall knight with tanned skin. His appearance made him stand out amongst the knights. Then people’s eyes naturally gathered towards Isla.
“Ah! Then that knight is…”
“How can he be so manly and handsome?”
The women’s reactions were more accentuated compared to the men. Certainly, the knight named Isla was quite attractive as he strode into the hall with large steps. The young knight did not pay attention to the commotion around him and moved forward. His dignity was befitting of a rumored knight who killed an orc warrior that was several times more powerful than humans.
One of the great nobles from the older generations opened their eyes wide while observing the procession. The women were busy looking at Isla and the other griffon knights, but the older noble had recognized a familiar face among those who were coming in.
“Duchess Elena Pendragon!”
At the noble’s exclamation, attention was drawn to Duchess Elena as she calmly entered the hall under the escort of the Golden Griffon Knights and the Pendragon family’s griffon knights.
Her appearance was reminiscent of a goddess as she walked forward. She was dressed in a simple, elegant white dress and wore a golden crown on her head without any special ornaments.
Even though she was well over 30, her skin was like a white jade without blemishes, and her graceful figure was enough to draw the admiration of both men and women.
Moreover, there was a small girl who walked next to the duchess with a blushed face.
The girl tightly held onto a small doll and followed Elena with small steps without looking around at her surroundings. She looked like a little fairy who inherited the blood of the goddess.
Receiving the gazes of the hundreds of people, Elena finally arrived before the emperor.
“Your Royal Majesty! I, Valcas Dante of the griffon knights, greet the master of the great empire, the master of my sword!”
Count Dante greeted the emperor with a boisterous voice, which was full of dignity and energy even though he was in his 40s. The emperor nodded his head.
As Count Dante stepped back, Elena stepped forward.
Elena bent one knee and folded her waist with watery eyes.
“Elena, the mistress of the Pendragon, sees His Majesty Aragon, the master of the great empire.”
Although they were born from different mothers, the emperor adored Elena the most out of his siblings. After seeing her for the first time in a decade, an unusually bright smile hung on the face of Emperor Aragon.
“Yes, yes. Welcome, welcome.”
The emperor held her hands and nodded several times. After gently wiping a tear off her face, Duchess Elena looked towards the empress and showed respect as well.
“Your Majesty the Empress…”
“How can you still be so fair-skinned? Time must have left you behind in your beauty. It’s truly great to have you here.”
The empress approached Elena before the duchess finished speaking, then hugged her tightly. Then, she reached out to Mia, who was wiggling her fingers, and tightly embraced her cheek with her hands.
“Mia, you’re very beautiful. This is the first time you’ve seen me since you were born, isn’t it?”
Even though it was their first meeting, Mia lowered her eyebrows shyly, as the warmth she felt in the empress’ hands were not much different from that of her mother.
“Your Majesty, this child…”
“I already know, there is no need to mention it.”
The empress was already aware that Mia could not speak since the passing of Duke Gordon Pendragon, and she waved her hand. Once again, Elena was touched by the empress’ consideration, then turned towards her elder brother, the emperor.
“Your Majesty, I would like to greet you more properly, but I have an urgent matter to speak of.”
Elena gestured towards Count Dante at the emperor’s permission. Count Dante took a step forward and announced in a loud voice.
“Imperial knight Valcas Dante reports to His Majesty! Today, Duchess Elena Pendragon visited Fort Blackstone! Under normal circumstances, it is absolutely unacceptable that a griffon not belonging to the imperial forces flies in the skies of the capital!”
Count Dante continued after turning to Elena.
“However! Sir Elkin Isla, the knight of Pendragon Duchy who accompanied the duchess, has indeed come to report directly at this late hour because of an urgent circumstance! First of all, please take a look at this man!”
Count Dante turned his head sideways.
About a dozen knights of the griffon order parted left and right, and a haggard man with rough metal cuffs on his wrists fell to his knees.
“This man’s name is Ruv Tylen! He is the man who was responsible for attempting to murder Crown Prince Shio from three years ago!”
The nobles guessed what was to follow at the sight of Ruv Tylen and poured out sighs. After waiting for the Lion Hall to become silent, Count Dante once again raised his voice.
“It is an unforgivable crime of high treason, thus it was only right that he was to be put to trial before receiving his punishment! Duke Pendragon made the decision to withhold any action and he has decided to bring this man in front of Your Majesty to be judged! Your Majesty! Please set justice in its place!”
Count Dante was known for his fiery temperament amongst the many commanders and captains of the imperial forces. His passionate cry echoed through the Lion Hall.
After quietly listening to Count Dante, one of the few knights he truly trusted, the emperor began to move slowly. The emperor’s eyes were icy as he looked down at Ruv Tylen. Tylen trembled unceasingly with his head held down low.
“Raise your head.”
After a large shudder, Ruv Tylen slowly looked up. His body trembled even more wildly when he met the emperor’s gaze. Suddenly, a threadlike spirit spread like a mist from the emperor’s shoulders.
The spirit of the Aragon Empire’s absolute had been initiated.
Ruv Tylen’s eyes lost focus as drool dripped down his open mouth. When he met the emperor’s gaze, it felt like he was staring up at an unimaginably large mountain. He felt an even greater fear than when he was confronted by Duke Pendragon. He felt disjointed as pressure swept through his mind.
The emperor spoke in a low voice after focusing his spirit on Ruv Tylen.
“Tell me your name.”
“I, I am Ruv Tylen…”
Tylen stammered his lips after losing all of his senses to the emperor’s spirit.
Only instinct remained, and it told him to tell the truth in order to live.
“Did you deliver the letter that led to Shio’s poisoning?
“T, that’s… correct…”
“Were you the only one involved in the crime?”
Ruv Tylen shook his head with difficulty. The emperor followed with the last question with a voice like the blizzard of the north.
“Did someone instigate you?”
“Who was it?”
“T, that person, t, that person…”
The surrounding nobles felt a chill run down their backs as Ruv Tylen prepared to name the perpetrator.
Someone jumped between the emperor and Ruv Tylen with a tearful scream.
It was Count Sagunda.Previous Chapter Next Chapter