The dinner proceeded in a calm, quiet manner.
Everyone from the duchy attended the event dressed in black to commemorate Luna. But the atmosphere of the meal was not dark. Rather, it was just a little calm.
The reason was due to Raven.
“Mia, how was everything in the castle?”
The little girl was chewing her food with her chubby cheeks full. She lifted her head instantly with wide eyes when she heard her brother’s voice. Seeing Raven’s smiling face, Mia’s face became slightly colored and she shook her head.
Her eyes headed towards the end of the long table.
At the receiving end of her gaze was Kratul, who was gobbling up an entire pig thigh, and Kazzal, who was scrumptiously eating a fish with his small, pointed fangs.
“Did Kratul and Kazzal play with you?”
Mia smiled shyly and nodded her head.
Upon seeing her reaction, Kazzal snorted proudly and spoke condescendingly.
“Handsome Kazzal played with the little Pendragon all the time! Master Pendragon, you may compliment Handsome Kazzal.”
“You don’t have to play with her if you don’t want to. Instead, you can become a dragon’s fo..”
“The best, best thing in the world is to play with little Pendragon. Handsome Kazzal was born to play with little Pendragon.”
“Good. How about you, Irene? How have you been? It seems you have gotten prettier since I last saw you.”
Irene had been secretly stealing glances at her brother. Then, when he openly complimented her, she made a strange sound as if the food was stuck in her throat.
“M, my lady.”
The maids that followed from Conrad Castle hurriedly patted Irene’s back. Her face was dyed red from choking. After finally passing the food, Irene took a graceful sip of water as if nothing had happened, then spoke with a bright smile.
“Oh brother… You flatter me. It only seems like that because you have been taking good care of me.”
Contrary to her humble words, her smile betrayed her true thoughts. She obviously knew that she was beautiful. Her brazen appearance caused Raven to laugh lightly.
“Is that so?”
“Yes. I will be happy as long as you keep taking good care of me.”
Irene twisted her body shyly.
Anyone else who saw the scene might think of Irene’s actions as excessive, but everyone here knew that she was just being true to herself. Unfortunately, it also caused a headache for the maids as they seriously pondered how Irene would get married in the future.
As the quiet atmosphere of the meal turned somewhat bright, Raven looked around the table and continued his words.
“I know very well how everyone is feeling about what happened to Lady Seyrod.”
The atmosphere turned somber at his words. Just today, everyone had seen Lord Seyrod receive Luna’s body. In addition, they saw Raven swear a blood oath in front of her body.
“I will avenge the esteemed daughter of the Seyrod family. As family sharing blood, I will achieve it. I swear on Pendragon's name.”
Raven’s tone was calm, but his voice was determined and powerful. Everyone, especially the women, felt secure and relieved despite their sadness.
Anyone could be sad, but not anyone could take an oath while containing their sadness. Alan Pendragon was a man who would certainly keep his oaths.
Raven slowly rose from his seat and continued.
“So after today, let us bury Luna Seyrod in our hearts for the time being.”
He slowly raised his glass. Everyone followed suit, rising from their seats with their glasses, regardless of race.
“Until the day of revenge, when we will be able to miss her once more.”
Raven emptied his glass of red wine and the others followed suit. Then they bowed their heads to pay the last silent tribute to Luna Seyrod. A still moment of respect towards the dead, but it was not as gloomy as before.
Everyone looked up again. Their expressions were a little different from when they arrived at dinner.
“Now, everyone, let us sit.”
The mood was not as heavy as before, and all of them returned to their seats with calm faces.
“As you may well know, I called everyone to Leus because of safety reasons. I do not want to ever see anything like this happening again. Of course, it would be the safest if we could stay in Conrad Castle with Soldrake and the Ancona Orcs protecting us, but the situation is not allowing for that.”
Everyone nodded at Raven’s words.
“It would be foolish to hole up in the duchy just because it’s dangerous. The threat surrounding me, the duchy, and the entire will not go away by itself. It will never stop. Besides, as a duke of the empire and the governor of Leus, I have great responsibilities.”
Raven spoke towards both the people here and for himself. It wasn’t just Luna’s death that led his thoughts here. Her death served as one of the triggers, but he had realized earlier that he had duties and responsibilities, not as Raven Valt, but as Alan Pendragon, duke of the empire.
The status makes the man.
And his seat was at the heart of this huge empire.
He could not avoid the great responsibilities and hide himself away in a corner of the duchy. He could not do so if he wanted to get revenge for the Valt family and to end the huge conspiracy surrounding the Pendragon family.
This was destiny.
Just because he did not ask for it did not mean he could shrink from his responsibility. Turning one’s eyes did not make the reality disappear.
“That is why I called you all here, to fulfil my responsibilities. You guys are my…”
After a brief pause, Raven resumed with a rather awkward expression.
“Because everyone here is precious to me.”
Everyone was astonished.
He was always cold, and his words were blunt. It was unbelievable that he would say such words. No one could have imagined it.
Everyone’s astonishments were expressed in a variety of reactions.
Irene and Lindsay looked at Raven with tears in their eyes.
But on the other hand, some reacted… differently…
“Ehem! The great Earth God said to value your comrades… But I feel like my fangs are shriveling up when Pendragon scarecrow says it.”
“Kukeut! I know, right? Pendragon scarecrow, don’t tell me you like men or look at orcs with ‘different’ eyes, right? Kukekuet!”
Raven dismissed the unseemly jokes of Karuta and Kratul in two cold words, then continued on.
“It is a shame that the duchess could not come. But just as I am attempting to fulfil my responsibilities, the duchess is doing what she can as the senior member of the Pendragon family. That is why I am respecting her decision.”
As he recalled the letter Elena sent, a corner of Raven’s heart became a little heavier.
Her letter contained pride, affection, and concern for her son, who had become the Governor of the City of Leus. It was more than enough to rouse emotions in a man like Raven who had veins of steel and a hardened heart from his years on the battlefield.
The letter also taught him how Elena Pendragon was a great mother and a “true noble” who did not cower from her responsibilities.
“Yes, brother. That is what mother said. But… I am still a little worried.”
Although she was wise and mature, Irene was still a young girl. She would be worried sick about leaving Elena behind in Conrad Castle.
“I share your worries. But Argos will not let anyone touch the duchess, so I think we can rest assured.”
Recalling the old fighter, Irene’s hardened face became a little softer. She had already witnessed the skills of the old fighter called the Black Tiger.
Furthermore, his skills were now recognized by everyone in Conrad Castle as well. A couple months ago, some knights of Conrad Castle challenged Argos after hearing that the duke had recruited him personally. They had looked down on him because of his small stature and the absence of one arm.
But all of them were scattered across the floor in an instant, and since then, they treated Argos with extreme care, calling him “Old Master”.
Besides, there was another reason they had to show respect.
The general of the castle, Melborn, was of similar age to Argos and treated the old fighter politely. They soon became good friends, and so everyone had no choice but to show respect.
“Above all, there are many outstanding knights in the duchy including Sir Killian and Sir Ron. They will be able to protect the duchess and the duchy without trouble. I believe in them.”
Irene nodded vigorously with a convinced expression.
The atmosphere improved afterwards.
It was not a pleasant and exciting mood, but compared to just a few hours ago, everyone’s expressions had loosened several notches. In its comfort, people looked at the person responsible for turning the mood upside down in a short instant. Their eyes glimmered with a renewed look.
The eyes of Raven, which had always been sprinkled with ice-cold light, had changed to resemble a river that was calmly, but proudly flowing.
His arrogant and cold expression had also changed to a calm, tranquil expression.
But his posture remained the same. It seemed like he would never stumble, just like a sturdy tree with its roots deep in the ground.
In just half a year, the coldest man in the Pendragon Duchy had undergone a complete change.
“…This is a port city, so you will be able to see all sorts of different races, just like Kratul and Kazzal.”
The people of the duchy shared a gaze as they saw Raven stroke Mia’s head with a faint smile. Everyone expected him to be in shock and anger over the assassination attempt and the death of Luna.
But their brother, husband, and lord – he had overcome it alone. Not only that, he was trying to fulfil the responsibilities he was tasked with while taking care of his people.
Seeing Raven speak softly to Mia, Irene suddenly remembered a sad, nostalgic memory.
As a child, she had received a similar kind of love from her father, Duke Gordon Pendragon. After more than a decade, Irene Pendragon saw the image of her father once more.
The harmonious reunion was finally over.
The governor’s residence was very large and spacious, but Raven let Irene and Mia share a room, and had the maids stay in the next room which had a passage connecting the two.
He also asked Karuta, who had been digging a hole in the yard with the orcs, to stay in the room right next to the stairs, and he gave the room on the other side to Isla.
It was the best way to protect his two younger sisters. In fact, Raven had tried to keep Irene and Mia with ‘her’ in the same room.
But including Irene, everyone voiced that it would be the safest for ‘her’ to stay in the same room with the strongest person in the residence. Even Isla, who rarely voiced his opinion, agreed as well.
Most of all, they were unyielding in that Raven needed to fulfil his responsibilities as the Duke of Pendragon, as Raven himself mentioned at the dinner table. To fulfil his ‘responsibilities’, there would be nothing more suitable than having ‘her’ stay with him…
So in the end, he was half-forced into staying with ‘her’ in the same room. He would share a room with Lindsay Conrad.
“Then, my lord. As a knight of the Pendragon Duchy, I will fulfil my responsibilities and take care of the security of the residence. So the lord, as the master of Pendragon, must take responsibility with your iron will and…”
“I got it, so stop it.”
Raven shut the door, cutting off the words of Isla. He could swear that Isla spoke with ulterior motives.
With a light sigh, he turned around.
The room was filled with elegant and colorful furniture, but it felt empty until yesterday. But now, he could feel the warmth.
The warmth was radiating from Lindsay Conrad, who was sitting carefully with flustered cheeks.Previous Chapter Next Chapter