Chapter 20

Step, step…

Raven walked towards the monastery and entered the building with heavy footsteps. Watching the disappearing figure of Raven, Killian let out a sigh and turned his gaze toward the residents.

“Did you not hear? His Grace Pendragon has spoken! Whether they live or die is up to you now!”

Only then the residents started to murmur while looking at each other. But that only lasted for a short while.

Thud!

“Ahk!”

A stone thrown by someone accurately hit the forehead of a bandit. That was the signal. Soon, there were stones coming from every direction.

“Keuk!”

“Ahhhk!”

The bandits hunched over at the serenade of rocks. One person even struggled to bring forth a large rock with their frail body and dropped it on the face of a bandit who looked up in fear.

“Die!”

“Kill them! Die!”

The angry residents rushed to the bandits.

Rocks, fists, feet, sickle… The bodies of the bandits were torn and split in anger. Madness, terrible noises and screams filled the monastery.

Raven sat on the frontmost pew in the sanctuary, hearing the sound of death coming from outside.

The statue of Illeyna, the goddess of light, looked down at Raven with a benevolent, but solemn expression. How would the goddess accept the situation that was happening right outside, in her territory? How would she take the killing and the viciousness that was happening in madness?

Maybe she would curse Raven as the man who was responsible for what was happening.

But he didn’t care.

Just because he got a chance at a new life, it didn’t mean he was going to live as a saint. He intended to be fair. Humans should be treated as humans, and despicable, cruel murderers less than beasts should be treated accordingly. That was the philosophy of the man named Raven Valt.

Moreover…

Raven believed that Alan would’ve made the same decision given the circumstances.

Just this once, at least.

He slowly stood up from the chair. He took out a gold coin from his gauntlet, which he kept used as a storage from his days in the demonic army.

It was thought to bring luck. He kissed both sides of the coin, which were adorned with the figure of the goddess, then performed a gesture.

Clang!

The coin dropped into an old wooden offering bank in front of the statue.

“This is my path. Even if you want to curse me, give me some time first.”

Raven muttered quietly, then turned his body.

Click, click, click…

The sound of lonely footsteps echoed through the chapel. Through the dust fluttering in the sunlight coming through the window, the gaze of the goddess of light was fixed on the back of the reborn man.

***

“I leave this in your hands. It’s a heavy responsibility, make sure to take care of it well under the name of Pendragon. Restore this place and guard it well.

“Yes, Your Grace!”

Honet, the loud-voiced soldier who screamed alongside Raven yesterday, beat his left chest twice and gave a military salute.

“For men, teach them how to use the crossbow and train them. After the situation recovers, you can organize a vigilante group. However, prioritize the recovery of the village and the residents. Don’t overwork them at any cost. These people are all my subjects, and the people of Pendragon.”

“Yes sir!”

“Good. Now go do your work.”

“Pendragon forever! Honor to the white dragon!”

Shouting the Pendragon family’s slogan, Honet once again performed a military salute.

Creeeeak!

As the barriers lifted up, Raven and the soldiers headed out of the entrance with two monsters leading the way.

“Thank you! Thank you, Your Grace!”

“I will pray to the goddess of light for your safe return.”

“Oh, heir to the great Pendragon…”

The residents who were standing by the entrance bent their waist and knees, honoring the owner of the land with all they had. Their complexions were still bad since only a day had passed since their rescue, but their expressions had changed for the better. Their faces gleamed with hope for a brighter future.

Raven lightly nodded as he left the village. Raven and the group of soldiers passed by the stone wall of Southstone village, which was being reconstructed by a dozen soldiers. Killian looked at the bowing villagers as he rode his horse up to Raven’s side.

“Anyways, Your Grace, isn’t thirty men a bit too much?”

“No, I think it’s the perfect number. If you want to work on village restoration, you should always have around ten men on guard duty. The others will be busy working on the buildings and the monastery.

Besides, sooner or later, the other villages will hear of the news, and residents may flood into Southstone. Hence, thirty is a good number of men to leave behind.”

“Well…. Yes, I agree with you.”

Killian scratched his head. He was always curious as to how Alan, who was always in his room, got his knowledge, strength, and determination. The more he learned about Alan, the more he wondered.

“Anyway, we were very fortunate that there was a blacksmith as well as a carpenter among the residents that were captured by the bandits.”

“Yes, we were very lucky.”

Killian gave a bright smile, to which Raven also responded with a smile.

Among the residents brought in by Del Geoffrey, there were high-level workers -- blacksmiths and carpenters. Geoffrey had not recognized their skills, and they desperately hid their identities, causing their abilities to be wasted on fieldwork and chores.

However, after the real master of the Pendragon family appeared and saved them, they had no reason to hide their identities anymore. The blacksmiths and carpenters were quite useful in restoration work and in improving military power.

For example

“A man can learn to handle a crossbow in only a few days. The carpenter can make crossbows, so in around a month, we should be able to supply the men here, as well as Bellint Gate, with new crossbows.”

“Good.”

If crossbows were placed in the Southstone village’s wooden barriers, it would bolster their defenses immensely. The only downsides with crossbows were their reloading times. If crossbows were placed all around the walls of a castle in the gun’s eye, then it would multiply their defenses. The same would hold true for Bellint Gate.

“I have gained so much from this campaign, Your Grace. I am ashamed that I was opposed to your plan in the beginning.”

Killian spoke in embarrassment.

Raven was a little apologetic.

The “so much” that Killian spoke of was the things gained by the Pendragon family, and Killian, instead lost “one precious thing”. Even so, he still rejoiced at the Pendragon family’s fortune.

“In that sense, I, Mark Killian, will faithfully guard Your Grace until we reach the mausoleum, so that I may not be ashamed of myself any longer! Please leave it to me! Haha, hahahaha!”

Killian laughed brilliantly as he touched his finely grown mustache with his finger.

Raven had a new thought.

Maybe this knight who was next to him, whose sideburns were cut off by half after yesterday’s battle, would become a ‘real knight’ that he longed to be so much.

A real knight that would take his own losses and fight in the vanguard more bravely than anyone else for the sake of his lord and family. Maybe Mark Killian, who served the Pendragon family for nearly 10 years, would be that ‘real knight’.

“Ehem! Hmm!”

Raven felt a little awkward at his thoughts that hastened his heartbeats with passion and turned his head.

“Kazzal, go up that tree and look around the area.”

“Yes, master Pendragon. Handsome Kazzal will look around!”

Handsome Kazzal, who was now completely integrated into the Pendragon forces, leaped joyfully towards a tree in the distance. In contrast, Tata still glanced at Raven with fearful eyes.

Killian, noticing the sight, walked up to Raven and asked.

“By the way, Your Grace. Why is this harpy so obedient to you? She could’ve probably escaped yesterday as well.”

Raven smirked and pulled out one of Tata’s feathers from his helmet.

“It’s because of this.”

“What?”

Killian tilted his head in confusion, and Raven replied, his smile still on his face.

“I told her that I would give this feather to Soldrake if she didn’t obey my orders. That Soldrake would find her wherever she went and eat her.”

“Ha…!”

Killian let out an exclamation in enlightenment.

He had wondered why the harpy had come to him to act as a liaison, but now he knew the real reason behind her obedience.

“Uh, then… the conversation you had with her… last night…”

Killian spoke cautiously, recalling the words of one of the soldiers that spoke to him the night before about Alan Pendragon’s ‘eccentricity’. Unsurprisingly, Alan Pendragon nodded his head as if it was obvious.

“What conversation? I just threatened her.”

“…Yes.”

Killian didn’t know whether to blame the stupid harpy or Alan Pendragon’s wickedness(?) for the matter.

“Master Pendragon! Master Pendragon!”

At that moment, Kazzal, who had been scouting on top of the tree, came running towards Raven, his face painted red from running.

“What is it? Did you see anything?”

“H, handsome Kazzal saw! I saw! A human woman and an ugly knight that escaped yesterday!”

“Hoh…”

Raven narrowed his brows at Kazzal’s words that referred to Luna Seyrod and Breeden.

He had expected Breeden to betray him, but he didn’t think that Breeden would turn his back on him so blatantly. Luna left with a perplexed expression, so it must have been planned by Breeden himself.

Well, now that he thought about it one more time, Breeden’s attitude during the operation meeting in the forest hinted at something.

Raven just didn’t expect that ‘something’ to be the dumbest and shallowest plan Breeden could come up with.

‘You imbecile…’

Raven flashed a fishy smile.

If he had been Breeden, he would have found a way to partner up with Del Geoffrey.

- Eliminate those designated as enemies by any means.

That was one of Raven’s philosophies. In that respect, Breeden didn’t quite live up to Raven’s standards in terms of being thorough and cold.

Anyway, Raven was planning to teach Breeden a good lesson when he ran into him, so it was good timing.

“Where? Let’s go that way.”

“Kieeeeek! N, no! We can’t go that way! Never!”

Kazzal shook his hands rapidly in fear.

“Hmm?”

Raven grabbed the horse’s reins and looked at Kazzal with a sharp gaze. But Kazzal, unphased, still shook his head while facing Raven’s death-glare. Then he spoke, still flopping and spitting.

“O, orcs! Handsome, cool orc warriors! There is also a scary druid with a stone hat with them!”

“…!”

Raven and Killian opened their eyes wide at the same time and shared a gaze.

“Surely…”

“Ancona… Is it Ancona Orcs?”

Killian nodded at Raven’s words, putting on his helmet tightly.

“That is very likely. The entrance to Ancona Forest is only about half a day’s ride from here. It’s a bit strange that they’ve ventured outside of the forest, but the only orcs that reside in the Pendragon Duchy are the Ancona Orcs.”

“This is great. We were planning to meet them anyway.”

“Correct, but the fact that the Seyrod soldiers are with them is bothering me. Even though they don’t mind regular humans, the Ancona Orcs hate armed human soldiers.”

Raven replied with a bloody smile at Killian’s worried words.

“What kind of orc isn’t like that? Well, they still shouldn’t dare act rashly in my territory. Kazzal, lead the way.”

“Kieee… handsome Kazzal is scared. Handsome, cool orc warriors. They don’t like goblins who are more handsome and cooler than them like Kazzal…”

“Dragon food.”

“I go! This way! This way, master Pendragon!”

Kazzal leapt away with a changed expression, leading Alan and the soldiers. Tata also took on a terrified expression, even though the words weren’t directed at her. It seemed that she didn’t need any more convincing to get her to follow him.

“Let’s go, Sir Killian. Let's put them in their place.”

“Y, yes?”

Raven stared at Killian, who had wide eyes, and spoke in a loud voice.

“This is my land, the land of the Pendragons. How dare they act rashly living on borrowed land. I need to put them in their place. Let’s go!”

“….!”

Killian’s startled face started to brighten up little by little.

“Yes! Of course! This master of this land is Pendragon! Hahaha! Let’s go boys!”

“Yes!”

Pendragon’s soldiers got busy once again.

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