Chapter 28

“Heave-ho!”

With her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, Lindsay eagerly drew water from the well. She lowered the wooden bucket several times right until the wooden barrel was filled to the brim. She then stood up to grasp the handle of the heavy barrel.

“Huup!”

Lindsay lifted the handle with both hands and in a crab-like manner scurried towards the nearby building. Her face turned as red as a tomato as she exerted herself to the physical limits. Right then, two soldiers coming down from the stone wall spotted Lindsay’s struggle and ran toward her.

“Hey, miss Lindsay, you can leave hard work like this to us.”

“Now now, I can take it from here.”

“Oh, no… that’s okay…”

The soldiers took on the bucket of water from Lindsay, almost half-forcefully. Looking at her empty hands, Lindsay was confused, not knowing what to do next.

“Um, it’s really fine. It’s something I used to do every day in Conrad Castle. I can take that.”

“No, no. We’re in a position where we rely on you for our meals anyways. I wouldn’t have any face left if I didn’t help you with even something like this. Now, come on, let’s go.”

The two soldiers each grabbed a side of the handle and hastily headed towards the back of the kitchen building.

“Ah, no, ummm…”

Lindsay watched as the soldiers scurried away and hurriedly followed after them.

“Good day, lady Lindsay.”

“Ah, yes. Hello.”

“Oh, by the way, what is the menu for dinner today? Obviously, everything you make is scrumptious, but I’m curious!”

“Well, I think I’m going to roast a pig…”

“Have any of the Seyrod guys harassed you? If they touch even a hair on you, let me know. I will…”

“N, no! There weren't any problems.”

Everyone she passed engaged in eager dialogue with her, and she replied to each of them before finally making her way into the kitchen.

“Oh my, lady Lindsay is here!”

“We’ve already prepared all the ingredients.”

Lindsay was reminded of when she had first met the women. They were thin, scruffy, and had poor complexions.

Now there was life in their faces.

“Ah, yes…. Oh! I can do that…”

“No, no. It must have been tiring for you to work since morning. Take a small break.”

“Oh no, but I can still…”

“Now, now, don’t make us repeat ourselves. We’ll take care of it so you take a break.”

The ladies sat Lindsay down on a chair to the side of the kitchen and resumed their work, displaying their experienced familiarity of the surroundings.

Lindsay had never had this kind of treatment in Conrad Castle. For ten days she had been receiving this warm hospitality, but Lindsay still felt uneasy. All she could do was repeatedly stand up from her place in search of something to do, shortly before giving up and sitting back down.

She had not been treated with such kindness during the first few days when the Seyrod family’s soldiers came. Even though Alan Pendragon had made a declaration of goodwill towards her before he left, the soldiers ignored her and treated her as if she was invisible.

But she was used to such treatment from Conrad Castle, so it didn’t bother her.

However, exactly after four days, a large group of residents with a dozen Pendragon soldiers returned in successful triumph.

Everything seemed to change from that moment onwards.

Those who came from outside Bellint Gate brought news that the immediate area around the gate had become safe and free of bandits. Once the news dispersed, both residents and soldiers began treating her with kindness.

No, it almost felt like they looked at Lindsay with admiration sometimes.

She had only followed her lord to help train his physical strength, so why did everyone call her ‘lady’ and treat her nicely? She was nothing more than just another common maid from the castle.

‘Was helping him train his body such an important task? Well, I still like to work as a maid and I think it suits me more…’

Even though she was less physically strained from not having to cook, Lindsay felt emotionally burdened and uncomfortable, causing her to look down. But after a short while, the loud sound of ringing bells rang throughout the entire gate, and Lindsay’s expression quickly shifted.

“His Grace is coming! His Grace, Alan Pendragon is heading towards the gate!!!”

“Ah!”

Eighteen years old -- A prime age for falling in love. A wide smile spread on Lindsay’s face like a midsummer flower.

Her smile did not last long.

***

“…

The faces of the residents that were enthusiastically welcoming Alan Pendragon and the soldiers froze. They stood dumbfounded in their place. They watched the sight that unfolded before them with disbelief.

A woman walked alongside Alan Pendragon. A woman with otherworldly beauty with an enchanting atmosphere. She appeared transcendental, and everyone who saw her face froze on the spot with their jaws wide open.

However, their momentary stun was short-lived.

As soon as the residents saw the beings that walked behind the soldiers, their silence and admiration turned into shock and fear.

“O, o, orcs!”

“Ahhhhhh!”

“Help!!!”

Chaos ensued, and those that saw the orcs started to run for their lives. But they were the ones who had the courage to run away. Most of the people stood there unmoving, or lost the strength in their legs and flopped down onto the ground.

Raven gave a light sigh and shouted out.

“Everyone rest assured! These orcs are from the Ancona Forest. They are the allies of Pendragon!”

“You idiots! Put your weapons down!”

“…!”

The trembling soldiers were equipped with crossbows aimed towards the orcs. At Killian’s shout of anger, they flinched and took several steps back.

Even with Raven’s reassurance, the fear of orcs did not subside easily, and most of the residents were still sprawled on the ground with tears and runny noses.

“Oi.”

At Raven’s glance, Karuta slowly crept up towards him, looking at Soldrake all the while with terrified eyes.

“You know what we talked about before, right? Do it.”

After seeing the guardian deity give a nod, Karuta stood next to Raven, then bent his knees to match Raven’s height.

“Uh… how is everyone doing? Karuta is… uh.. an orc that lives in Ancona Forest. Erm… Pendragon has an oath with us… and…”

At the awkward, even embarrassing words of Karuta, Raven ‘accidentally’ struck down with his sheath on top of Karuta’s foot.

“Ugh! Ow! A, anyways, Karuta and the orcs don’t touch weak scarecrows! We don’t hurt you! We don’t eat you! Oi! Warriors!”

At Karuta’s urging, the orc warriors lined up quietly behind the Pendragon soldiers.

The residents lowered their guards when they saw the humongous orcs behave in such a manner. They walked back towards the group, but they still maintained caution and moved very slowly.

Raven climbed the stone steps and reached the second floor of the biggest building in the area.

Soldrake stood right beside him.

Raven took one step forward and spoke.

“As you can see, I’ve taken in the Ancona Orcs under the Pendragon family as our comrades. Moreover, the Ancona Orcs know honor and will never hurt anyone who lives on my land. Isn’t that right, Karuta?”

“Of course! Karuta and the Orcs of Ancona Forest are friends of Pendragon. I swear by the law of the orcs and by my blood!”

The largest orc spoke, and the villagers looked around and murmured. Their faces were still full of worries, but it had improved vastly from before.

“Now that you know, everyone can resume their work.”

Raven turned around after speaking those words. Killian, who stood right below Raven, shouted towards the soldiers and the residents.

“All the wounded over here! Empty the annex for our friends from Ancona Forest to stay in. After taking care of your equipment…”

The soldiers moved to their respective places at Killian’s orders, and the residents returned to their place, though their eyes were still full of fear towards the orcs.

“…Ah! I must be losing it.”

Lindsay was staring at the 2nd floor where Raven gave his speech, the second floor where Raven stood together with an unknown winged ‘lady’. She gazed at the building with perplexed eyes, then shook her head before moving her feet.

“I have to go look after His Grace.”

Lindsay was just as surprised by the appearance of the orcs as other people, but she didn’t realize that her gaze had never left Alan Pendragon and the mysterious lady that stood at his side.

“Y, Your Grace!”

“Hm? Oh, it’s you, Lindsay. Yes, how have you been?”

Lindsay’s cheeks were peach red from running, and Raven walked up to her with a cheerful face.

Raven came to a realization that he had been smiling quite frequently. This caused his expression to turn awkward and his steps grew to a halt.

“I’m doing fine. Y, Your Grace! Let me wipe your…”

Lindsay hurriedly ran in front of Alan and tried to wipe Raven’s face with a wet towel. But she stopped when she felt someone’s gaze on her back. Lindsay slowly turned her head and became breathless.

Silver hair that reflected the warm sunlight, three jewels that decorated the white forehead, and deep blue eyes that stared straight into her soul. Lindsay could swear she heard the rushing sea waves she saw as a child.

Even though it was only a gaze, her chest became tight and her knees started shaking.

Raven stepped up.

“T, this child is…”

Woong!

Lindsay suddenly lost her hearing and she couldn’t hear her beloved master’s voice. She stared at the two people in front of her with an expression of fear and confusion.

Suddenly, her heart pounded.

The scene that was spread out in front of her was something out of a fairytale. A young nobleman and a winged lady lit by a window that reflected the warm sunlight. It was similar to the romance books she used to secretly read at night.

She was always the most thrilled imagining the scene where a brave, handsome knight swore to devote himself to the beautiful, fragile girl.

Except the beautiful girl from the novel wasn’t herself. She wasn’t the one standing beside Alan Pendragon. Lindsay’s heart suddenly throbbed.

‘Huh?’

Lindsay was surprised and embarrassed by the feeling that was slowly becoming more intense. She had never felt this way even when His Grace was with Lady Seyrod. She pressed down on her chest and took a few steps back at the unfamiliar pain.

‘What? What is this?’

Raven turned his head.

“Hm? What’s wrong?”

“Ahh! N, nothing!”

Lindsay bowed her head in surprise.

But the pain didn’t disappear, and she wanted to burst into tears for some reason.

“Is that so? Hm, anyways, let me introduce you. This is…”

“Y, yes!”

It didn’t seem like she was a human, but Lindsay knew that she was of extraordinary origin to be able to stand by His Grace’s side. In order to avoid impoliteness, Lindsay raised her head.

“Soldrake. The dragon of the Pendragon family, Soldrake.”

“…!”

Lindsay’s light green eyes slowly grew bigger in bewilderment. She stared at the silver-haired lady in awe. Soldrake’s hair glimmered in the sunlight, and only then Lindsay noticed Soldrake’s armor was similar to Alan Pendragon’s.

***

[Is the girl from a little while ago my companion’s concubine? Having a large chest and buttocks will allow her to bear and raise many children.]

Raven spewed his drink out at the Soldrake’s words.

It sounded awfully familiar, as if he had heard something similar before.

“No, absolutely not. She’s just a child who I brought along due to circumstances. N, no, anyways, you are a dragon. How do you know of human matters?”

[My companion is stupid after all. How long do you think the Pendragon family has been with me?]

“Ah…”

Raven nodded with his mouth open, surprised at his lack of thought.

[Gordon, Klein, Shade, James. All of them spent their lives with me until their soul’s pledge was over. I was there when James saw Shade, when Shade saw Klein, and when Klein saw Gordon. I was there. Every time a Pendragon woman gave birth to a Pendragon, I saw the soul of Pendragon enter the infant’s body.]

“…

Soldrake’s words were strange yet spiritual. Her words seemed to stop the nearby air from flowing.

Raven quietly peered into her eyes.

He no longer felt awkward every time Soldrake peered straight into his eyes when she spoke.

[So when my new companion, Raven Valt and Alan Pendragon, sees a new Pendragon, I will be there by your side.]

“T, thank you for that. Well, by the way. I thought it would be nice if we had something to call each other by… I know it’s just the two of us talking, but calling me Raven Valt and Alan Pendragon every time we hold a conversation is…”

[Something to call each other by? But my companion is Raven Valt at the same time he is Alan Pendragon.]

“Yes, I know that. But that title is a bit too long, isn’t it? Well, you can call me whatever you would like, but something shorter would be better.”

[……]

Soldrake quietly gazed at Raven before slowly opening her mouth.

[Ray. I will call you Ray.]

Raven jolted his shoulders. Ray, that was a nostalgic name.

Everyone else called him a bastard, unlucky crow, or reaper of the battlefield, but one person had called him something else.

It was a person who was born from a different stomach but still took care of Raven even at their own expense.

His dead brother always looked after Raven, and had always called him Ray.

“…Yes, Ray would be nice. Thank you, Sol. Anyways, I think I need to get some rest now. What will you do? I don’t mind that you would be standing outside but do you really not need any sleep?”

Raven asked, recalling the fact that Soldrake had never slept on the way here. Even when everyone else was fast asleep, she was always protecting his side with open eyes.

[Dragons need no sleep. If Ray wants, I will go outside.]

“What? N, no you don’t need to do that.”

Raven hastily held back Soldrake who started to walk towards the door. By now, the identity of Soldrake must have been communicated to everyone in Bellint Gate. The soldiers would have made sure of that in their blabberings.

Of course, no one would dare come up and speak to the dragon, and no one had the ability to talk to the dragon besides himself, so he wasn’t overly worried. No one would be foolish enough to annoy a dragon.

However, Raven was unable to leave her alone. He felt like she was isolated from the world and faced it all by herself as a lone sovereign.

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