Chapter 27

Humans, orcs, and griffons… All the living beings surrounding the mausoleum quickly fell silent.

Six beings orbited the building around the mausoleum with their wings spread open.

Blazing.

Noble.

Upright.

Gentle.

Restless.

Solemn…

A spectrum of colors spread out from the six pairs of wings and embraced the night sky. It was as if the northern lights that unfolded in the deep north were brought onto the skies of the mausoleum.

Raven wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or if the sight in front of him was just an illusion. He stared at the six dragons slowly descending towards the mausoleum with an inscrutable expression.

No one dared to speak.

The six exalted creatures landed on the ground centering around Soldrake, each with their wings folded. The sight was so incredible that it seemed to blur the line between reality and imagination.

One couldn’t take in all six dragons within their line of sight because they were so massive.

The soldiers and orcs could do nothing but simply blankly stare up at one or two dragons.

[Is this the Queen’s new companion?]

A voice bellowed from one of the dragons and struck Raven’s ear. Raven shook himself back into reality and turned his head towards whom he thought had spoken.

A solemn black dragon, whose scales were colored darker than night itself, was looking down straight at him.

[That’s correct, Amuhalt. However, for what reason have the six guests come to my land uninvited? The pledge between the Pendragons and I should have nothing to do with all of you.]

[Of course, the Queen’s situation has nothing to do with us. But it is a little different this time. We didn’t choose to come. We had to come. Don’t tell me you don’t know the reason why.]

A turquoise dragon, who was emitting a subtle greenish hue, responded to the words of Soldrake.

Soldrake’s head turned to the turquoise dragon.

[Do I need to explain myself to you, Ellagrian?]

The turquoise dragon folded his long neck and receded to the gaze of Soldrake under the bright moonlight.

[….You do not.]

[What does everybody else think? Is there a reason why I should continue to be hospitable to those who have intruded upon my land without an invitation and folded their wings on the mausoleum of the Pendragons? Why should I continue my hospitality to the insolence?]

Soldrake’s gaze moved on from the Ellagrian, the turquoise dragon, and passed the six dragons.

Each of the dragons folded their necks and avoided Soldrake’s gaze. But the dragon who had spoken first, Amuhalt, reacted differently.

[I apologize for our rudeness. But Queen, it is not just your energy that is being felt from this man. The Dragon God and the Demon God’s energies also…]

Swoosh!

Suddenly, Soldrake spread her wings wide open. Another hemispherical shockwave was emitted like a storm and a roar filled the night sky, all in a split second.

“Ugh!”

“Kueeek!”

Humans and orcs fell flat onto the ground, and hundreds of griffons covered their heads with their wings, kneeling to the ground.

Even the six giant dragons staggered in their enormous bodies.

Only one person, Raven, was unaffected by the gesture.

Raven looked up at Soldrake. The majestic white dragon had caused even some of the other dragons to retreat with one flap of her wings.

Raven gulped and felt an unfamiliar sensation when he looked up at the dragon. The appearance of Soldrake with her wings out free was massively enchanting and beautiful.

[I will not tolerate any more than this. In the name of the Dragon Queen, I order the uninvited guests to leave my land.]

‘Dragon Queen?’

Raven narrowed his eyes.

The six dragons stepped back with their wings folded at the words of Soldrake, who called herself the Dragon Queen. They looked among themselves, communicating through gazes, then slowly lifted off the ground.

Five dragons did not dare to look at Soldrake, but the black dragon Amuhalt opened his mouth and spoke, staring at Soldrake and Raven with his dark, obsidian-like eyes.

[I will go back today, but this is not the end. Someday, Pendragon will leave this land and cross into our territory. Today’s questioning will continue.]

[…]

Soldrake maintained her silence, and Amuhalt shared one last gaze with the Queen before flapping his wings and lifting off the ground.

With that as a signal, all the other dragons flew up and away from the night sky, leaving the mausoleum behind.

In the blink of an eye, the shapes of six gigantic dragons disappeared over the horizon and over the mountain peaks. Their departure left the mausoleum enveloped in silence.

The griffons remained low on the ground with their wings folded, and the orcs and the soldiers all stared at the ground, unable to shake off the fear.

Raven broke the silence.

“What they were talking about just now…?”

Soldrake rested her gaze where the six dragons disappeared, and twisted her neck at Raven’s words.

“I think I need to know a little bit more… No, before that.”

Raven, who paused his words, twisted his neck left and right and continued speaking.

“My neck hurts so much because I have to keep looking up. Can you lower your posture?”

[…]

“…hm?”

Raven frowned and squinted at an unusual sight. He could see that the ends of Soldrake’s mouth were slightly raised. She was clearly smiling. The fearful momentum and atmosphere created by her that sent six dragons flying away with their tails between their legs was gone, as if it never had happened.

[There’s a much better way than lowering my posture, companion.]

“A good way? What is it?”

[We are equal, so we just have to face each other on equal ground when talking.]

“….What?”

Raven tilted his head at Soldrake’s thickened smile.

At that moment, a faint light started to shine from the three horns that rose above Soldrake’s head. Raven’s eyes felt the blinding light grow bigger, and he raised his hand to cover his eyes.

The cold, clean white glow that originated from the horns covered Soldrake’s entire body and flickered like the stars in the night sky.

Raven, as well as the others that were present, looked up at Soldrake in wonder. Her appearance started to fade as the light flickered on.

Shoosh!

The light burst into a small explosion, causing a luminance too powerful for everyone’s retinas.

“Ugh!”

Everyone closed their eyes and turned their heads simultaneously. Even with their eyes closed, the blinding light persisted, evoking the image of a midday sun.

After a while, the light faded. Raven raised his head as he turned back to Soldrake with a surprised frown on his face.

“What?”

The place where Soldrake’s massive body should be standing was now empty, as if nothing had ever been there.

“What the hell…?”

Raven looked around everywhere in the night sky with a startled expression. But Soldrake was nowhere to be seen.

It was then.

[Where are you looking at? I am right here.]

For some reason, the voice that spoke to him was clearer than before. He slowly lowered his head from the sky.

Gasp!

Raven’s eyes shook in astonishment.

The woman had cold, silver hair like a first winter snowfall, and deep blue eyes reminiscent of the quiet, distant seas. Her bottomless eyes were staring straight at Raven.

In addition, her pure, precious pale skin and luscious red lips were so vivid and elegant that they could only be described as protruding from a master’s painting.

But Raven wasn’t only surprised at her beauty.

‘She’ had three jewels protruding from her white forehead, exposed out in the gentle wind. She wore a breastplate made from the clear material similar to Raven’s own dragon armor, on top of an old-fashioned dress that harmonized blue and white into elegance. On her back, there were ‘wings’ folded behind her straight shoulders.

Raven looked at the woman whom he could hardly describe as human with unbelieving eyes.

“Sol…drake…?”

[Who else would it be? Raven Valt, and Alan Pendragon, my companion seems to be quite a fool.]

The human version of Sodrake walked towards Raven, answering his question with an expressionless face.

“Oh! That…”

Raven retreated a few steps in surprise as Soldrake walked towards him.

He had the body of Alan Pendragon, and he was not considered short by any means, but Soldrake was quite tall. She could look at Raven’s eyes directly, and she was almost the same height as him.

She had stood in front of him, the three sapphires on her forehead reflecting the moonlight, and her deep blue eyes staring into Raven’s eyes. They were in such close proximity that their noses were practically touching.

Since becoming Alan Pendragon, Raven had never been this flustered before. Soldrake maintained eye contact with Raven and opened her lips.

[Now, shall we continue our conversation?]

***

“Hmm…”

A day had passed since the group left Ancona Forest, but Killian’s gaze was still fixed on one place. The same held true for the orc warrior Karuta, who naturally took his place beside Killian. However, Karuta didn’t blatantly stare at the place, and only stole small glances every so often with a shriveled posture.

“Ah, it’s so hot, why don’t you get off me a little and walk.”

Killian frowned as he glanced at Karuta who walked in extreme closeness to Killian’s horse. Karuta’s eyes quickly regained their fire.

“What, are you picking a fight with me, scarecrow?”

“No, I’m not picking a fight… It’s so hot that I might die, but you’re sticking to my side like an ownerless dog. If you’re so curious, go closer to them and look, or just ask His Grace about it.”

Killian had become familiar with Karuta through their last journey and talked in a casual voice. Karuta suddenly curled up.

“Say something that makes sense, scarecrow. The Ancona Orcs cannot go close to the guardian of the forest without permission.”

“Well… it’s not like we can understand what they’re talking about even if we go close to them.”

Killian licked his lips. Even before Soldrake took on human form, no one could understand Soldrake.

Every time Soldrake talked, no one could hear her, nor Alan Pendragon’s voice. When anyone neared them, their ears became plugged and they were unable to listen in on the conversation.

“If you can understand, then Killian would be Pendragon. Kuhuhu!”

Killian shrugged his shoulders in embarrassment at Karuta’s laughter. Well, the only person who could communicate with the dragon was Alan Pendragon.

Anyone besides him could not even directly look at, lest hold a conversation with the dragons. Only Alan Pendragon had heard the conversation between the six dragons that took place a few days back.

“Hmm…”

Killian remembered the incident and trembled. Gordon Pendragon appearing as an apparition – that was understandable, as it was the mausoleum of the Pendragon family.

But hundreds of griffons, as well as six dragons.

Six dragons! Not one, not two, but half a dozen dragons gathered in one place! He never imagined that he would ever see such a sight in his lifetime. Just thinking about it made his legs flutter and back wriggle.

‘But…’

Killian’s gaze naturally headed to the front again.

The most astonishing fact was that Soldrake, the Pendragon family’s contracted dragon, turned into a ‘person’. Moreover, the woman was an incredible beauty that made it hard to place your eyes anywhere else. No one knew that Soldrake could transform, not even those who directly served the Pendragon family for decades.

It was natural.

No one had ever seen Soldrake with a human appearance.

“Sigh…”

Killian shook his head with a long sigh as he observed Soldrake walk alongside Alan Pendragon. Even though she had a gorgeous appearance, it was difficult to consider a woman who had strangely shaped jewels on her forehead and wings behind her back as a regular ‘human’.

Aside from her overwhelming beauty, wherever her deep sea-like eyes headed, everyone hurriedly bowed their heads, suppressed by the power of her incredible aura.

Even with a human appearance, a dragon was still a dragon.

“Hey, Killian scarecrow. Can’t you go and ask?”

Karuta still glanced at Alan Pendragon and Soldrake whenever he got the chance and poked at Killian’s sides.

“Ugh!”

Killian’s waists bent due to the orc’s constant poking. Even without any added strength, an orc’s power was not to be underestimated. Killian groaned and created distance between Karuta and himself.

“Don’t sprout nonsense. How would I, a mere knight, interfere in the conversation between His Grace and his dragon. Besides, Soldrake is terrify… I mean, I just don’t feel like it…”

“Damn it, dig at the ground.”

In the end, Killian and Karuta had no choice but to return their gazes upfront and lick their lips in frustration.

Unlike the two creature’s expectations, Raven did not have many conversations with Soldrake since leaving Ancona Forest.

He had heard everything he needed to know immediately after leaving the forest, so now he was calmly thinking things through.

Having completed the oath with Soldrake and reopening the mausoleum, the Pendragon family reclaimed all the mines in the estate that had been magically sealed for over 10 years.

‘Two iron mines, and three gold mines. Even two crystal mines… I guess the title of duchy isn’t just for show.’

He was calm and collected now, but he was still in disbelief when he first heard about it. On top of those mines, the Seyrod family would hand over a gold and a crystal mine, as well as two lumber mills.

‘This is basically the wealth of a small kingdom…’

Disregarding everything else, receiving the mines was a huge deal. Even if the quality of the ingots and crystals were subpar, one could become one of the five wealthiest estates in the empire by working the mines for two to three years.

Another problem that Raven found troubling had solved itself. He was worried about the troops, but now he had around three hundred griffons he could summon through Soldrake from the Ancona Forest, as well as over thirty orc warriors who accompanied him to Conrad Castle.

With this force alone, he could capture quite a few estates within one month.

However, he hadn’t just received good news.

The lich that he encountered in the abandoned quarry that led the skeleton army and the ghost knight of Gordon Pendragon that suddenly emerged from the mausoleum, they were…

[What are you thinking about so intently?]

A monotonic voice caused Raven to turn his head. He had gotten more used to Soldrake’s blue eyes, which were truly encaptivating and evasive of any attempts to read them.

“I was thinking about the things you gave me… So, the thing I received.”

Soldrake lightly shook her head while gazing at Raven.

[Everything originally belonged to Pendragon. It is not received.]

“Hmm. Is that so…”

Raven agreed with Soldrake’s words but soon spoke once more after meeting Soldrake’s gaze.

“No, but I definitely received one new thing. And you gained it as well.”

[What do you mean by that?]

A hint of curiosity gleamed in the eyes of the strongest creature who took on a woman’s form. Raven laughed and replied, enjoying seeing the expression on Soldrake’s face.

“You. I received you, and you received I.”

[…]

Suddenly, Soldrake halted her steps.

Then, Raven stopped as well, and the march of the troops that followed far behind the troops also came to a stop.

In front of everyone’s eyes, Soldrake walked up to Raven, just as she had done when she first transformed into her human figure. When Raven felt a little awkward at her stare and proximity, Soldrake spoke in a soft, low voice that only Raven could hear, then proceeded back to walking.

[Sol. You can just call me Sol from now on.]

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