Isla put his hand on his waist and attempted to take a step forward. Raven turned his head slightly and stopped him from taking further action.
He smiled towards Viscount Moraine, whose smile was growing deeper by the minute.
“This sight reminds me of a certain someone in our duchy. Two certain people, to be exact.”
“Oh, is that so? May I ask who they might be?”
“Just some guys. One of them got a bloodied nose and the other had his egg broken. I wonder what’ll happen to an imperial regiment’s commander.”
Isak, the battalion captain who accompanied Viscount Moraine, stepped out violently. Almost simultaneously, Isla took a step forward and stepped between Isak and Raven.
The two warrior’s gaze met in the air. Isak’s fierce eyes contained anger, and Isla’s dark blue eyes contained a cool, heartless chill.
Viscount Moraine showed an interest in the standoff between the two men. As a knight and a master of naval battle, he had a keen insight. As a swordsman, Moraine knew the capabilities of Isak better than anyone else. They had spent more than a dozen years together.
Isak was one of the best swordsmen among the many knights of the 7th regiment. In addition, Isak was always the first warrior to jump onto the deck of the enemy ship in close combat. He was a renowned knight, and his two short swords had made quick work of countless pirates over the past decade. His nickname ‘Ghost Blade of the Inner Sea’ was known throughout the territory of Mulade, but also throughout the entire inner sea.
However, one of the Pendragon Duchy’s knights was standing-off in a seemingly equal battle of spirit with Isak.
Moreover, Moraine noticed that it was not just the spirit of the young knight that was impressive. His subdued eyes and relaxed posture were indicators of the young knight’s true skills as a first-class knight. The young knight was poised to strike at any moment’s notice.
‘Well then. I guess it wasn’t just the new governor after all.’
Viscount Moraine reached out to stop Isak, inwardly admiring Isla.
“Sir Isak, don’t be rude to the governor. Hurry up and apologize.”
At the firm voice of Viscount Moraine, Isak took on an embarrassed expression. He put his hand on the pommel of his blade and bowed his head.
“I apologize. I have been greatly disrespectful.”
“I apologize as well. All of them are ignorant because they were born sailors, whether they are knights or whatnot. Please understand, your excellency.”
Moraine’s attitude was so slick that it was hard to believe he was known as the Great White Shark. However, Raven did not respond to Moraine’s words. Instead, he calmly observed Viscount Moraine.
Without erasing his smile, Moraine narrowed his eyes slightly.
An ordinary noble would have reacted in one of two ways.
One, they would have been intimidated by the 7th regiment and fawned over himself. Two, they would have been angered and reacted violently.
However, the duke did not respond in ways that Moraine expected.
‘You have a temper, but you also have patience. Huh, the late Duke Gordon Pendragon raised a real dragon.’
Raven was not aware, but Viscount Moraine had a connection with Duke Gordon Pendragon. In the first place, it would be rather strange if they did not know each other. One of the Pendragon family’s villas was near Leus, and Viscount Moraine spent more than half of his life serving in the 7th regiment.
“Come on in first. I did not call you here to jest with words.”
“Shall we? Hey, you guys. Wait here…”
“Why don’t you bring them all in. It’s cold outside.”
The nonchalant voice surprised not only Viscount Moraine, but Isak and the rest of the troops. The ones responsible for creating a mess out of the residence were the soldiers of the 7th regiment. The bloodstains from the incident had yet to wash away, and the destruction of the day was still evident.
To know this and to invite them in was…
‘He’s generous as well. Ha, well then.’
“Okay boys! The governor himself has invited all of us. Let us all go in.”
Viscount Moraine repressed his urge to laugh out aloud and followed the young duke into the governor’s residence.
Even though nearly 30 people came in, the banquet hall had more than enough space. After sending away the terrified employees, Raven sat down at the head of the long table.
“Why don’t you have a seat as well, commander.”
“I will do that.”
Viscount Moraine sat opposite Raven with a grin. Isak took his place behind Moraine, and the rest of the troops surrounded the long table in an orderly manner.
In comparison, Raven’s appearance was somewhat lonely and shabby with only Isla and Leon behind his back. Some of the soldiers felt rather flattered that they stood on par with the famous Duke Pendragon, the man who had made his name known throughout the empire.
But they were completely ignorant of Raven’s intentions.
“I want to know about the current situation.”
Raven spoke in a calm voice.
The answer came from an unexpected place. Rather than Viscount Moraine, who was still smiling mysteriously, Isak answered from his spot.
“First, we have captured the direct relatives of the traitor, Sagunda. But the rest…”
Suddenly, Raven’s eyes turned colder.
“Did you say your name was Sir Isak?”
Isak became a little startled and nodded.
“Do you know who I am?”
“You are the duke of the Pendragon…”
“I am the Governor-General of Leus, and I asked the commander of the 7th regiment as the governor of Leus. Don’t overstep your boundaries.”
Isak stepped back while lightly biting his lips. He lowered his head. He could not retort because there was nothing to say.
However, in the moment Isak stepped back, he shared a glance with Viscount Moraine.
Viscount Moraine had instructed him to answer whatever questions the young duke would ask. But there was no way Raven would miss the brief exchange between the two.
“Lord Moraine. Let me warn you.”
The smile disappeared from Moraine’s face as Raven spoke with an icy voice.
“I know that the imperial army is a group that is under the direct control of His Majesty, and I know that imperial knights are not required to heed the words of anyone but his majesty, even if they may be a duke, a high lord, or whatever else.”
“However, I am now here, not as the Duke of Pendragon, but as the Governor-General of Leus on behalf of the emperor. Isn’t that right?”
Raven’s eyes swept everyone that was present, starting with Viscount Moraine.
Although they were proud imperial knights and soldiers, they could not meet Raven’s gaze. They all lowered their heads.
Even though Raven had not aroused the Spirit of the White Dragon, everyone felt the unparalleled pressure that was weighing down on them. It was as if they were faced with a mountain.
“So I warn you for the first time, but also the last time. I have no intentions of going through a meaningless power struggle. I respect that Commander Moraine and the 7th regiment defend the seas of Mulade and Leus. So, both you, Sir Moraine, and the 7th regiment, do not continue to test me. Understood?”
The entire hall became silent, and only the sound of crackling fire could be heard. The awkward silence continued for a while, then Viscount Moraine slowly rose from his seat.
“I will. And…”
Under Raven’s cold gaze, Viscount Moraine placed his palm on the handle of his sword.
“Thank you for putting up with our disrespect, governor-general. I, Reet Moraine, commander of the 7th regiment of the imperial army, sincerely apologize.”
The eyes of Isak and the troops widened in shock.
Most of them had served for over 10 years in the 7th regiment, but it was their first time seeing their commander show this much respect for anyone besides the emperor.
Raven was also a little surprised. He had already known that Viscount Moraine was deliberately staging the situation to test him.
But Raven did not expect him to apologize so freely. Viscount Moraine was a hero who rose to his position without a single blemish on his records, purely based on his skills and performance. He had no strings attached and no political connections. It would not be easy for a war-hardened veteran to show such an attitude towards a young man who was not even half his age, regardless of Raven’s status.
‘He is a capable figure. How many more such figures does the emperor have serving him…?’
So far he had seen Count Granite, the head of the Royal Knights and Count Dante, the captain of the Griffons Knights. And now, Viscount Moraine as well…
Each of them had reached the highest level of skills as a knight and a tactician, and their loyalty to the emperor was extremely high. However, they were only the tip of the iceberg. There were many more imperial knights and regiment commanders that Raven had yet to meet.
He could not fathom how many more famous knights and indomitable warriors were loyal to the emperor and the empire.
Moreover, Raven was able to realize that they were the real pillars who kept the huge empire strong and afloat through many crises.
Raven stood up. Everyone’s gazes headed towards him.
“As a representative of his majesty, I want to express my sincere respect to you and the 7th regiment for protecting the land and the seas of the empire, through day and night.”
All the troops under Moraine displayed shock at the sight of the young duke slowly bowing his head.
Raven continued with a smile after raising his head.
“Now, why don’t we finally start talking about work?”
“Hahahaha! Of course! Let us get right down to it! Hahaha!”
Mulade’s Great White, the man considered the devil by the pirates, eventually burst into hearty laughter.
The conversation flowed smoothly afterwards.
Raven was able to receive accurate reports about the arrests and detentions of Count Sagunda’s relatives from Viscount Moraine. Moreover, he received all the information about southern merchants and other foreign ships entering Leus, as well as about the pirates that operated in the waters of Mulade.
“So all in all, the flow of merchant ships has reduced by about 30 percent since Sagunda died.”
“That is correct. Quite a few ships have anchored in Ills and Langs. I suspect…”
“Smugglers. In return, they would have provided bribes to Sagunda.”
Viscount Moraine bitterly confirmed the cold judgement of the new governor. According to principle, Moraine would have conducted a thorough search of the sea if he suspected smuggling, but he could not do anything when the ships flaunted a document bearing the seal of Count Sagunda in his face.
“Thirty percent… It’s more than what I suspected. So, what do you think we should do, commander?”
“Are you asking for… my opinion?”
In addition to addressing him formally, the new governor was also seeking opinions on policies as if it were the most natural thing to do.
Viscount Moraine’s attitude was more questionable rather than joyous. None of the governors in the past had acted in such ways.
“Hm? Is it not obvious? I am the Governor-General of Leus serving under the command of the emperor, and you are protecting Leus as an imperial knight. Who else would I ask for their opinion regarding Leus, if not you, Sir Moraine? Especially if it is about smugglers.”
When Raven showed his puzzlement, Viscount Moraine smiled bitterly.
“Not a single one of the previous governors ever asked me for my opinion.”
“Then they were idiots. If the Governor-General of Leus doesn’t listen to the opinion of one who knows best about the seas, then which other voices would they listen to?”
Raven was not making a compliment. Rather, he was expressing his genuine confusion. Raven did not know much about city management, but he was the best when it came to combat. However, after his time in the Pendragon Duchy, Raven realized that management was not much different from combat.
Those who were well aware of local circumstances and had access to information were able to occupy an advantageous position.
Viscount Moraine had spent decades in the seas of Mulade and Leus. No one else would be best suited for such purposes in Leus.
“Anyways, please tell me everything truthfully.”
“…If that is your wish, I will speak.”
Viscount Moraine spoke after a little pause. His expression turned a little stiff as if he had decided.
“Most of the smugglers have a relationship with the inland pirates. You must arrest the captain and the crew and seize the goods. Of course, if we do that, we will be provoking the pirates as well. So…”
“Let us wipe them out.”
Moraine frowned. Surely, he had misheard the words of the new governor. However, Raven repeated once more.
“I said that we should wipe them all out. Those pirates roaming in the inland sea, we will decimate them. Those who mock Leus and threaten it, let them tremble in their shoes when they see me and the commander.”
Viscount Moraine and the troops could not hide their astonishment at the words of Raven.Previous Chapter Next Chapter