Chapter 172

“Did you hear? Soldrake is here.”

A man spoke. His eyes were spread wide like a weasel.

A chubby man was sitting opposite of him while cutting whale meat with a dagger. He responded by banging his dagger on the table with a frown.

“Dammit! Orcs were enough, but now he even brings a damn dragon? Is he trying to chew us out?”

“Even so, it’s no good if he doesn’t have a boat, don’t you agree? In addition, there is also the Sea God in the Latuan Islands. Even Soldrake would not be a match for the Sea God in the waters. Hehe.”

The monkey-faced man sitting next to the cubby man spoke while rubbing his hands.

“Hmph! Are your ears rotten? Did you not hear that three shipyards in Leus were commissioned under the name of the 7th regiment commander? From combat ships to galleys, dozens of ships will be undergoing construction.”

The chubby man spoke while pulling his dagger from the table. The monkey-faced man’s expression became pale.

“I, is that true? Then the existing 7th regiment ships…”

“They are planning to go to the sea. With orcs and the dragon.”

The weasel-eyed man spoke with a grin, and the expression of the monkey-faced man turned even worse.

“W, what should we do? Shouldn’t we let the Dark King know?”

“Tsk! I already sent a message. The island orcs will be ready in a month at the least. What about you? Bwaugh!”

The chubby man burped after speaking, his hands busy frying morsels of meat. He turned towards the weasel-eyed man.

Weasel eyes shrugged his shoulder and responded.

“If all goes to plan, we are in it. Zagielka was kicked out of the Sea of Zerolta thanks to the 7th regiment and they’re grinding their teeth. They should be joining… I do not know about Red Skull. The rest are on the edge for now.”

“Fucking hell…”

The chubby man uttered, then smacked his lips as if he were disappointed. But it was unknown whether his disappointment stemmed from the lack of meat or from the other person’s words.

A moment of silence flowed.

The weasel man smiled meaningfully and spoke in a quiet voice.

“I have a good idea. Would you like to hear it? The information is from a pretty reliable source in the new city of the Penrdagon Duchy, York Town.”

“Hmm?”

“Oh! What is it?”

The chubby man and the monkey-faced man showed curiosity. The weasel man in front of the two was a key figure in the Winter Storm Pirates, one of the three major groups in the inland sea.

He was called “Swordfish”.

Befitting his nickname, he had great skills with the sword, but it also referred to a dark hobby of the man. Swordfish liked to peel his enemies alive, hang them on the mast, and have them die slowly while becoming food for the sea birds.

Above all, he was a very shrewd and smart person. Besides the island orcs, the Winter Storm Pirates was one of the most notorious and the strongest groups of killers in the inland sea, and a large contributing factor to their power was due to the Swordfish’s intelligence and tactics.

So, when Swordfish mentioned a plan based on reliable information, it was likely that the plan would be successful.

“Four days ago, three identical sailboats were seen leaving the lower reaches of the river in York Town. The final destination is unknown, but they will be passing through Leus.”

“Hmm? Perhaps the soldiers from the Pendragon Duchy are coming to Leus?”

“What!? Wouldn’t that pose a huge threat?”

The monkey-faced man became startled at the chubby man’s words. But the Winter Storm Pirate’s Swordfish shook his head.

“It's definitely not additional troops. There are only around 20 people.”

“Really? Twenty people in three sailboats… Hmm!? Perhaps…?”

“It is as you are thinking. It has already been over half a year since the Pendragon family’s mausoleum reopened. With it, the gold mine and the crystal mine started functioning again. It would be difficult to exhaust the entirety of the products in the Pendragon Duchy. They would have to move it somewhere else.”

“A, are you suggesting that the sailboats carry gold?”

The monkey-faced man asked hastily with a greedy expression.

“That’s right. The night before the vessels set sail, my spy saw one of the three sailboats being loaded with ten large wooden crates. It was being carefully guarded by the soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy and the Raccoon as well.”

“Hoo!”

“I, it must be gold! Gold! It can’t be anything else!”

The monkey-faced man roused up a fuss and the chubby man’s eyes widened with wonder.

“It’s not just gold. Sources say the new gold currency of the Pendragon Duchy is contained within the boxes.”

“Ten boxes full of gold coins… How much is that…?”

“About 300,000.”

The monkey-faced man answered immediately. If it was regarding money, his brain worked better than anyone else.

“Huh! 300,000! It’s literally a gold boat!”

The chubby man displayed awe. Considering that the one-year budget for a regular territory was around 20,000, 30,000 gold coins, 300,000 was truly a significant amount.

It was enough money to be able to shake a kingdom with one hand.

“Are they planning to release all that money in Leus?”

“I do not think so. If that were the case, they could have moved the coins with the orcs. They would not have had to use the ships.”

“Then…”

“According to my sources, it seems they are planning on releasing a portion in Leus and sending the rest to the south. My thoughts are the same. 200,000 at the most, half at the least. That much should be going towards the south. The credibility of the new currency is likely to rise more if it travels further.”

“Hoo! Now I get the hang of it. Three identical sailboats are setting out, but only one of them should be carrying the goods. The other two must be attempting to camouflage the real ship.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“Hmm, then I understand why the 7th regiment is suddenly building more ships and recruiting soldiers. The regiment must be required to escort the gold ships to the south, which would open up a hole in the waters of Leus and Merlade.

“As expected of the Dark King’s right arm, the Archipelago’s Pufferfish.”

“Hehe.

The chubby man laughed wickedly. His name was Yusuf, and he was one of Toleo Arangis’ henchmen. But only a few people knew of his true identity.

Toleo Arangis had left him behind in Leus after he was forced away with only one arm.

“All of Leus’ shipyards have been put into the production of combat galleys, so around ten ships should be completed in five or six days. Maybe half of the 7th regiment, including the new recruits, will be assigned to the new ships.

“And the rest…”

“Yes. The soldiers should be boarding the two decoy ships from the duchy and the remaining ships. It will be a force to be reckoned with.”

“Four ships escorting the gold ships to the south… Pendragon must have racked his brains for this.”

The chubby man spoke with a sharp glance, and the Swordfish replied with a smile, revealing his yellow teeth.

“That’s right. But there’s one thing that Pendragon did not expect. Even our Winter Storm Pirates would not be able to compete with them when they have two ships from the 7th regiment accompanying them. But what if all three largest pirates came together? And…”

“If you joined hands with my lord. He is gnashing his teeth to get back at Pendragon. Plus, the orcs, and even the Sea God to deal with Soldrake…”

Yusuf, the Pufferfish continued the words of the Swordfish with a corny smile.

“It’s over. The Dark King can reap the neck of Pendragon on top of that as well, and we will be able to finish off the 7th regiment for good. Hundreds of thousands of gold coins will be an extra bonus.”

“Ohh! Ohhhhohoho!”

The monkey-faced man jumped up from his seat and burst into cheers.

“And here is where you come in, Badr.”

The Swordfish turned to the monkey-faced man. His name was Badr, the best smuggler in the south. He was rather small, and his face resembled a monkey.

“Just say what you need.”

“We need a lot of money to make this plan successful. Every war is built on capital. You are the only one here who can solve this little problem of ours.”

“Kekueek! How could I say no? But the gold coins on the ship…”

“You get half. Of course, if the Dark King gives his permission.”

The Swordfish slowly turned his body towards while slurring his last words. Yusuf replied with a smile.

“My lord would agree to anything as long as we can take Pendragon’s life.”

“Good. Then I will be making my investment. Hehe…”

Badr rubbed his palm with a servile look. Contrasting his small figure, Badr was a wealthy man with enough fortune to be considered within ten fingers in the entire empire.

“Hehe! This is a perfect plan. Everyone gets a share of the pie.”

“I agree. Everyone will be happy.”

“Except for the 7th regiment and Pendragon. Hehe!”

The three men exchanged meaningful smiles in the dark, shady place.

***

“You met Amuhalt on the Plains of Robstein?”

Raven was very surprised to hear Soldrake’s story. She had recounted her tale after both of them returned to the residence.

[Yes. Amuhalt has been aware of a Dragon Vein in that place since long ago.]

“Dragon Vein… What exactly is that?”

[The vein is a requirement for the dragon’s survival. It is also a source of mana.]

“Then Mount Ancona…?”

[Yes. Every dragon’s nest has a vein under it. That is why dragons cannot fully exercise their power when they are disconnected with their veins.]

“I see.”

Raven nodded. He finally understood.

Soldrake’s power was godlike in the territory of Pendragon, including Mount Ancona. However, she could only perform intermediate magic like shapeshifting outside of the Pendragon Duchy.

Of course, that alone was enough to overwhelm and instill fear into other species, but it could be a big variable when dealing with other dragons or ultra-high-level sorcerers.

In fact, this was the reason why other dragons had to surrender to Soldrake when they first visited the Pendragon Duchy after Raven’s reopening of the mausoleum. Mount Ancona was based on a Dragon Vein that empowered Soldrake. She had the power to overwhelm all other dragons on her territory.

“Hm, then what happens if we go to the sea? I heard that there is a dragon there that the sailors call the Sea God.”

[Biskra. An insane brother. He is the only one who does not recognize me as lord.]

“Could you win if you fought him in the sea?]

Soldrake seemed a little hesitant to answer. After a brief silence, she responded.

[I should be able to keep him occupied. I am unsure, it has been hundreds of years since we last met.]

“Hm, is that so…”

Raven was a little surprised that even Soldrake could not guarantee victory or defeat.

Soldrake took Raven’s hand.

[Ray does not have to worry. Brothers can argue with each other. Biskra does not recognize me as Lord, so I can argue with him. However, dragons do not hurt each other. If one does, it means that they are declaring hostility to all other brothers.]

“I see.”

Raven felt relieved and put on a slight smile. Soldrake looked him straight in the eye and continued.

[But if Biskra tries to hurt Ray, I will kill him as the companion of your soul.]

Soldrake spoke in a soft voice. But it contained a firm determination as well. It provided Raven a great sense of security and a power of support.

“Thank you, Sol. Anyways, why did you not come to the imperial castle when I was there?”

[Because there was an angel]

“Angel? Was it the Lindegor Duchy’s…”

Raven became stunned at Soldrake’s words, and the dragon nodded in response.

[Seiel, a knight of Illeyna. Just as I made a covenant with the Pendragons, he also makes a covenant with the successors of the human family called Lindegor.]

“Then, was the angel’s power keeping you from entering the imperial city?”

[That is not it. I, and all the dragons are the old brothers of the gods. Even the power of the other brothers should be sufficient to handle a mere knight of a god.]

“Then why?”

[Seiel has asked me to marry him in the past.]

“What?!”

Raven jumped up from his seat with a shout.

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