“To prevent the young dragon from contracting with Soldrake, we placed a lich on the way to the mausoleum. In addition, although it was not a complete success, I, your father, also took care of Shio as well. Then I entrusted you with full authority.”
The words flowing from Duke Arangis would surely have caused a huge turmoil if publicized. However, the two people in the room with the duke were not surprised at all.
They were already well aware of Duke Arangis’ role in the incidents. After all, they were a part of a group that planned to establish the Arangis Duchy as the ‘Arangis Empire’.
Arigo remained silent with his head down, and Duke Arangis continued while gazing at his son.
“I thought that even a fool would be able to successfully promote the plan with the groundwork I laid. But what did you do after being entrusted with authority? What else did you do besides unifying those sloppy bunch of orcs in the inland sea and sending Toleo to Leus to earn that unsightly name of Dark King? Besides, Toleo is dead now.”
“But father, I tried everything I could in order to get rid of that Pendragon brat. But the White Dragon is always by his side, and every single opportunity, there…”
“Is the White Dragon by the side of Duke Pendragon right now?”
Arigo tried to make excuses, but his father saw through everything. He quickly shut his mouth at his father’s frosty voice.
“Unless a war erupts in the Pendragon Duchy, Soldrake is nothing. Moreover, we have Biskra.”
The Dragon of the Sea.
Arigo’s eyes trembled when his father mentioned the Sea Dragon. Only the Arangis Duchy was aware of the location of the Sea Dragon’s lair.
“Are you unaware of the reason Soldrake did not come to the south with Duke Pendragon?”
“I am… aware.”
Arigo answered in a somber voice.
The incidents caused by Duke Pendragon in the inland sea were problems to be resolved between humans. However, the connotation would have changed completely if Soldrake had accompanied him.
The presence of Soldrake would aggravate Biskra, as the inland sea, the Island of Death more specifically, was the domain of the Sea Dragon. Dragons did not encroach on each other’s spheres of influences without reason.
“You said that you did everything you could, but that is wrong. Arigo, you did not even do half of what you could have done.”
Arigo spoke in a pleading voice. He felt somewhat falsely accused. Duke Arangis continued, staring straight into the eyes of his eldest son.
“Do you know what the biggest difference between you and Alan Pendragon is?”
Even though it hurt his pride, Arigo thought about it carefully, but he could not come up with an answer.
He had been just a little unlucky. Besides, the brat had the Soldrake by his side, the strongest creature on earth.
Just by gauging Arigo’s expression and eyes, Duke Arangis was able to guess his son’s thoughts. He explained with a cold expression.
“For a monarch, glory follows the fulfilment of duties and responsibilities. If he does not take charge and step up to fulfil his duties and responsibilities, he and his land will not have glory.”
Arigo was shaken by the profound words of Duke Arangis.
“Ever since he gained consciousness, Alan Pendragon has always been at the forefront. He has always taken risks for his duchy, and he fought as hard as he could to fulfil his responsibilities and duties to the duchy. When he was on his way to reopen the mausoleum, he led the expedition at the forefront, and he personally stepped forward in Sisak to contend with High Lord Count Bresia.”
Arigo’s shoulders continued to slouch.
But his father did not stop.
“Was that all? He directly negotiated with the emperor, and when he headed to Leus, he persuaded and won over the commander of the 7th regiment. And who killed Toleo in the inland sea? It was Alan Pendragon. He drew his own sword and won the battle against Toleo.”
Arigo felt shame and jealousy. Moreover, he could not contend with his father’s spirit, and a moan escaped his lips. His father still possessed a prominent spirit as the monarch of a great duchy and a great knight.
“The same goes for the Governor-General of El Pasa and Karl Mandy. Alan Pendragon confronted them directly and won them over to his side. He steadily built up his power with diligence. In less than a year, he grew his troops several fold from a thousand men, and he built up wealth through the city of York Town, while providing opportunities for others who serve him.”
Arigo’s face faced the floor.
“That was when! You were sitting here comfortably, dealing with my vassals and nobles as if they were your servants, doing nothing but venting your anger towards them!”
In the end, the calm voice grew to a loud roar, and the father’s criticism pierced through his son’s heart like a sharp blade. Arigo did not dare to lift his head, and he could only try to hide his miserably distorted expression.
A cold, heavy silence followed.
Manuel finally stepped up. As the family’s advisor, he was faithfully loyal to both the father and the son.
“Your Excellency, I think your words are absolutely right, but I think it is too harsh to hold His Grace to be solely responsible for the current situation.”
Duke Arangis turned his eyes towards Manuel, quietly giving him permission to continue.
“In defense of His Grace, until now, there were many strange things about Duke Pendragon’s actions. There are many aspects that I found are quite incomprehensible.”
“First of all, it is his inconceivable change in character. He fell unconscious after failing to establish a contract with Soldrake. Then, he suddenly awakened from his unconscious state like a miracle.His reawakening is still in the realm of possibility. However, how could a man who has been laying in bed for several years suddenly become powerful enough to beat down the duchy’s head knight?”
Duke Arangis nodded his head.
“Not only that, but it was public knowledge that he was unskilled in swordsmanship and military tactics. Any noble of the empire could have told you that. However, when he went to reopen his family’s mausoleum, and when he beat the late second young lord, he displayed unbelievable prestige, did he not? This is not something that can be explained by reason.”
“That is right. But talking about things in the past will not change anything.”
“You are right, Your Excellency. However, sometimes the answer is found by studying what has already passed. Moreover, there is one other thing that is most suspicious above all.”
“When he first departed from Leus, he acted as if he would immediately cross the inland sea. Then, he suddenly landed on a nearby island and stayed there for a few days. And what happened when he left the island and started sailing? Didn’t the most powerful storm in nearly a decade sweep the coast of our duchy and the nearby islands?”
The eyes of Duke Arangis glimmered sharply.
Arigo also raised his head and narrowed his eyes.
“I lived on Crete Island my entire life, but even I could not have expected such a horrible storm. But how could Duke Pendragon, who is completely ignorant of the sea, have known that the storm was approaching? Even if he had the 7th regiment commander by his side, the man is also not familiar with the southern parts of the inland sea. Taking all of this into account, he must have…”
“He… already knew that there would be a storm?”
“It may be precipitous, but that seems to be the only possibility, Your Excellency.”
Duke Arangis’ gaze became more intense.
It was a ridiculous story at first glance.
Duke Pendragon had grown up on the mainland. How could he have predicted the storm, when even sailors with decades of experience could not have? If it were not Manuel who had spoken such words, Duke Arangis would have kicked them out while rebuking them.
However, Duke Arangis trusted his family’s advisor. He had proven himself over the countless years he spent with the family.
“Perhaps… Does he have the ability to read the future…?”
Duke Arangis muttered quietly, and Manuel carefully chimed in.
“Or perhaps, it is the other way around… He might have known because it was something he had already experienced.”
Duke Arangis’ eyes grew a little bigger, but he soon grinned and shook his head.
“I am a little ignorant of magic, but I have never heard of anything that can turn back time.”
“That is true for me as well, Your Excellency. The reason I am speaking such ambiguous words, whether they be true or not, is because we need to act in the future with more caution. From the events that transpired, we need to keep in our minds that Duke Pendragon may already be aware of what will happen in the future.”
After speaking such words, Manuel took a step back with his head down.
Duke Arangis became lost in thought for a moment, then turned towards Arigo while tapping his finger on the desk.
“What are your thoughts?”
“It certainly seems impossible, but I think Manuel has a point. It is not just about me trying to avoid my responsibilities, father.”
Arigo spoke, his eyes finally regaining their usual cool. Duke Arangis responded with a satisfied expression.
“My thoughts align with yours. So, then, what will you have to do in the future?”
Arigo slowly stretched his shoulders proudly. His father had said you, not we.
It was clear that he still believed in his successor.
“First of all, we will need to revise our current plan. If Duke Pendragon already knows what we are doing and what will happen next, a new, unexpected plan needs to be drawn up and executed to catch him off guard.”
“That is right. Then what needs to be fixed first?”
Arigo thought for a moment with a keen expression, then replied.
“The demonic army. I think it will be best to give the last order to Toban Baltai. Then we will need to act immediately to gather the whole army to advance to El Pasa, ahead of the initial plan. Of course, I will be directing the army personally.”
A satisfied smile appeared on the face of Duke Arangis at his successor’s words.
“Good. You are truly a befitting heir to our great Arangis family.”
“I am humbled. I will definitely make up for my failures thus far, father.”
“I will trust you.”
Duke Arangis reached out and patted Arigo on the shoulder.
‘Things are going to change from now on, Alan Pendragon…’
After receiving his father’s encouragement, the eyes of Arigo Arangis flashed fiercely.
Along with a clear, metallic sound, a broken blade twirled in the air before falling to the floor.
Raven looked down at the broken blade with a slight frown.
His scimitar, which had accompanied him since he fought Killian in Conrad Castle, had finally broken.
“Are you all right, my lord?”
Isla approached. They had been sparring together.
Raven lightly shook his head.
“I am fine. Anyways, it was a pretty good blade. It feels a little strange.”
Raven felt a little disappointed when his scimitar suddenly broke. He had become accustomed to the weapon after using it for such a long time.
“It might be because you have been using it for such a long time, and the salt might have corroded the blade as well.”
Isla picked up the blade, then spoke while observing the broken pieces.
“That may be the case. Anyways, I had become accustomed to it, so I can continue to use the hilt. I will get a new blade forged.”
“I can take care of that, Your Excellency. The blacksmith I brought along is very skilled.”
Raven turned his head to the voice lathered with a southern accent. Iriya was approaching him rather modestly. She had a softer expression compared to their first meeting.
“Is that so? Then could you take a look?”
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
Iriya received Raven’s scimitar politely, then carefully examined it. Her eyebrows rose in surprise after a while.
“This is from the royal family of Agadir. Such a precious sword…”
“It was in my castle. I chanced upon it, and I kept it with me because it was comfortable to use. Anyhow, a scimitar’s blade is vastly different from regular swords in terms of the weight distribution. It may be quite difficult to forge a new blade. What do you think?”
“Do not worry. The blacksmith I brought along is also from Agadir, so he should be able to forge a similar blade as before.”
Iriya did not find it necessary to comment that her blacksmith was considered the best craftsman in Agadir.
“I see. Then I will trust Lady Mandy’s judgement.”
Raven did not comment any further.
Iriya’s heart leapt slightly at the sight.
For a knight, the blade was akin to his own life. It was especially true for someone like Duke Pendragon, who always fought directly on the front line. He would not leave his sword to just anyone.
However, he had trusted his blade to be repaired.
“Elkin, let’s go again.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Although, it was a little harsh to turn his back after the short exchange of words.
‘Little by little… I will do my best in all I can.’
The development of relationships began with faith, and Iriya considered faith to stem from the heart and the partnering actions. She once again took heart.Previous Chapter Next Chapter