Chapter 298

Fwaaah!

The cool wind swept over the vast land.

“Phew~ That’s nice… Hey! Let’s take a little break!”

A man wearing a star hat straightened his back and spoke, wiping the sweat off his forehead. People rose from all over the place, either fanning themselves after taking off their hats or tapping their waists.

“Is the food not ready yet? I’m going to starve to death at this rate.”

“Food! Food is here! Come and eat!”

As if answering the man’s question, three or four ladies approached the men from afar with large baskets on their heads while shouting. Dozens of people huddled behind the white cotton field and began to feast on sandwiches filled with cheese, sliced pork, and lettuce.

“Huah! I’m stuffed and the wind is nice!”

“Hoho! And the contracts are all finished as well!”

A woman laughed and responded to the man’s words. Another woman, who was next to her, intervened.

“So that must have been why you two worked so hard last night, huh? You two must have been so excited.”

“Oh my!”

“Uhahahahaha!”

Laughter blossomed when the woman blushed.

Nearly a year had passed since York Village was renamed and redeveloped as York Town. The people were working on a cotton farm half a mile away from the city, and they enjoyed the afternoon meal while laughing and chirping with joy.

The cotton fields around York Town stretched to the end of the horizon, as far as the eye could see, and it changed everything about York Town. A new, wide road linking the city and the estuary was created in six directions around York Town, and cotton fields were implemented in areas around the roads. It was a collection of the largest cotton fields in the entire empire.

Tens of thousands of migrants were able to settle down and make ends meet due to the cotton fields. Moreover, the cotton fields were not only responsible for the lives of manual workers growing and picking cotton.

Cotton workshops were a necessity near cotton fields. Three gigantic cotton workshops had already been erected in York Town alone, providing jobs for thousands of urban residents. In addition, the development of a large city, such as York Town, brought along the natural creation of several large villages in the nearby areas, where thousands of people now resided.

The cotton fields were much too large and wide, which meant that there was a shortage of labor. As such, new workers were always being recruited.

Money was bound to flow with the crowd. This was especially true in places like York Town, where the local economy was solidified by the cotton and fabric businesses. Imperial gold coins, as well as foreign currencies, flowed into York Town. Then, the money was converted into Pendragon gold coins before naturally flowing back out towards the rest of the empire and abroad. As such, the Pendragon gold coins were now commonly used throughout the duchy, the empire, and even in foreign countries.

Something like this would not have been possible by only using the port city of Leus, where the duke served as the governor.

With proper businesses in full bloom, namely cotton cultivation and fabric production, the entire Pendragon Duchy was making rapid progress, and not only York Town, improving the quality of life of the residents. This was the ultimate driving factor behind the vitality that was being brought to the adjacent lands and the rest of the territory, including Leus.

“You never know what’s going to happen in a person’s life! Until the winter two years ago, I was worried about how I was going to make it through spring!”

“Hmm! Who would have thought that such a large city and new roads could be built just like that? Thousands of people pass through it every single day!”

“This is all thanks to the duke.”

“Doesn’t that go without saying?”

People praised the Duke of Pendragon without rest. They were grateful that he allowed their lives to bloom like this.

“Now that we’re on the topic, I heard that His Excellency will be stopping by sometime soon.”

“What? Is that really true?”

“Well, my son-in-law, who works at the butcher’s shop in town, heard it at the York Town market yesterday. He’s going to pay his respects to the duchy’s mausoleum before coming this way.”

“Oh…!”

The expectation was evident on people’s faces.

It had already been ten days since the master of the land returned from his long journey. Apparently, he defeated the demon-like king of the monsters in the South and condemned a high-ranking noble family for attempting to rebel against the emperor. Prince Ian, who would soon become the crown prince, and even the emperor himself praised Duke Pendragon. Now, everyone knew of Duke Pendragon, in both the mainland and in the South.

“But father, is it true that Sir Isla became king? I heard that he’s stayed behind because he now ranks higher than our duke…”

A young girl with a tanned face asked carefully. The old man responded with a glare.

“What the heck are you talking about!? Sir Isla returned with His Excellency! Don’t you ever say such things! Lord Isla, Lord Killian. All of them are the knights of His Excellency!”

“Hiek…!”

The girl shrank back. She had only asked because she was curious. Apparently, Sir Isla was the most handsome out of all the duchy’s knights…

“Oh my! Why are you shouting at the poor thing? Even I heard that Lord Isla was crowned as king!”

“That’s right. I heard it as well.”

“He supposedly became king in his hometown.”

When the mother sided with her daughter, others also stepped up.

“Keheum…!”

The man coughed embarrassingly and drank water.

Rumors had already spread. Elkin Isla was the most famous knight in the empire after Duke Pendragon, and supposedly, he originally stemmed from a royal family. It was a well-known rumor that the emperor recognized Valvas, the land where Isla was born, as an independent kingdom. Isla’s popularity had already pierced the heavens before, but as a result of the rumors, his fame soared even higher.

Isla was already considered a first-rate husband candidate because of his status and looks. But with him becoming the king of an independent kingdom in the South… Nothing more needed to be said. But although it was known that he was from Valvas, no one knew of his family background until now. After his royal background was revealed, various nobles and big players of the empire with daughters eventually headed to Conrad Castle, where he served as a knight.

All kinds of rare gifts, including even portraits of ladies drawn by famous painters, arrived day after day. As the one with the seniority in the family, Duchess Pendragon politely returned all the gifts, although she was quite dazzled by the situation.

Although Isla was a knight of the duchy, he possessed the same status as her as a king of an independent nation. She could not treat him carelessly. It was even truer for matters regarding marriage. The biggest question, however, was whether Isla would continue to remain a knight of the Pendragon Duchy and return with Alan Pendragon.

That was the reason why Elena refused the countless offers of marriage while her children and Isla returned from their long expedition. Despite the doubts of many, including herself, Elkin Isla returned as a knight of the Pendragon Duchy.

“Anyways, I can’t wait for him to come.”

“I can’t agree more. Hmm?”

A woman nodded lightly and licked her lips. Suddenly, her eyes filled with surprise. The gazes of other people naturally turned to where she was looking. Far away, a few wagons and a group of riders appeared at the end of the new road.

“They must be a foreign delegation.”

But people’s expressions soon became dull.

In the old days, people would have made a fuss when they saw such a group, but it was no longer very impressive after seeing so many delegations heading to York Town.

“T, that’s…”

But stuttered with their mouth wide open.

“That’s the symbol of the White Dragon! It’s the crest of our duchy!”

“What?”

People’s eyes became laced with shock, and they turned their heads once more. Amid the gentle spring breeze, a flag with the dragon crest was drawing closer by the minute.

***

Dong! Dong! Dong!

The central bell tower of York Town rang out. It was a tall structure that was visible from anywhere in the city.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m not sure…”

More than 50,000 people resided in the city, and including the small and large surrounding villages, the population reached more than 100,000. York Town had grown into a true metropolis.

People became surprised when they looked at the tower and saw the white insignia. Inside the gold-laced laurel with the white background was the emblem of the land’s monarch, the Pendragon Duchy.

“I, it can’t be?”

“No way! The Duke has come to York Town!”

One of the guards shouted as he passed the boulevard.

“Ooh!!”

Slight disturbances were created here and there. The news of Duke Pendragon’s arrival quickly spread throughout the city like wildfire, alongside the clear ringing of the bell.

“His Excellency the Duke is here!”

“The knights who accompanied him for the war are here as well!”

The residents, as well as the newcomers and the merchants, flooded the streets after hearing the news of Duke Pendragon’s arrival. All of them were well aware of the heroic deeds of the duke and his knights in the South. It was an opportunity for them to see the heroes with their own eyes. The protagonists of unbelievable, legendary stories were visiting their homes.

“Uwaaah!”

With thousands, no, tens of thousands of people pouring out into the streets at the same time, the wide boulevards of York Town were quickly filled.

“Hold back a second!”

“Argh! Don’t push me!”

From normal residents to merchants from abroad, various people struggled to find themselves a good seat to watch the procession. More than 200 guards were employed to keep the people in line, but it was not easy.

Dong…!

Soon, the bells died down, and an armed knight carrying a flag entered the first gate of York Town along with a dozen mounted troops.

“It’s Lord Killian! It’s Mark Killian, the head knight of the duchy!”

Someone shouted in a loud voice after recognizing the identity of the flagbearer.

“That man? He’s very manly, just as the rumors say!”

“They say he made a great contribution with the heavy cavalry!”

“I heard he cut down dozens of monsters in the dungeon!”

“Wow!”

Killian stood even straighter as the shouts and cheers grew louder in volume. But his pupils, which were filled with more strength than usual, were constantly exploring the surroundings. Unlike his reliable appearance, his gaze kept darting between young and beautiful ladies.

‘Woohoo…’

Killian’s nostrils flared unknowingly, and his mouth became agape. Vibrant and healthy southern girls were good, but these were the women of the land he was born and raised in. Furthermore, his reputation must be soaring after this expedition. All he had to do now with the young ladies was…

“Captain, your wife has her head out of the carriage.”

“Gwah!”

These were the words of Lutton, who was now a full-fledged knight. Killian quickly gasped and winced.

Yes. He had forgotten for a moment.

He was no longer a bachelor…

He had been in the South for so long. Unfortunately, he had not been able to take advantage of the fact before setting off on the expedition.

‘Keugh…!

Swallowing the bitter medicine, Killian did his best to keep his shoulders from sagging down. Shortly after Killian and a dozen cavalrymen passed through the gate, a large, fancy wagon pulled by six horses followed.

The cheers grew even louder. The crowd could sense that the ladies of the duchy were riding inside the carriage. Finally, as griffons appeared through the dark passage of the gate, the roar erupted to deafen the heavens.

“It’s Lord Isla! It’s the Stormbringer! It’s Isla!”

“Uwaaaahuooohhh!”

“It’s the Knight King of Valvas!”

“Uwaaah! Lord Isla!”

Both men and women cheered at the top of their lungs as Isla entered, riding on the griffon with calm eyes.

Following right behind him…

The dazzling silver-white armor glistened in the sun, revealing a knight with an elegant, beautiful appearance.

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