“Great work, my lord.”
“Phew! Did it have to be this grand?”
Raven took off his armor and changed into comfortable clothes, responding to Vincent’s words with a bitter smile as he flopped down on a sofa. Recently, Vincent had been growing a mustache. Befitting his nickname of “Pendragon’s Raccoon Mask”, Vincent spoke with a mysterious, knowing smile.
“I had to go this far.”
“This place has changed a lot during your long stay in the South. There are more people who have never seen you before compared to those that have.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. The majority of people have only heard rumors about the lord. Moreover, the stories are akin to legends that are hardly believable. Humans are beings that trust their own eyes and ears beyond anything else. The lord has returned at a suitable time.”
“Oh! That’s true, my lord. Personally, I never believe rumors of pretty girls in the villages unless I see them for myself. Above all else, there’s nothing more believable than experiencing their beautiful appearances with my own eyes and…”
“I see. Please be quiet for a second.”
Killian started chattering with an excited expression. He was forced to sip his tea with a sullen face when Raven interjected. Vincent smiled lightly at Killian’s actions. The knight had not changed at all despite the long journey. Vincent continued.
“This is what it is all about. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a legendary protagonist in person. In addition, York Town is the representative city of the protagonist, a place that was built by the legend himself. York Town is so rich and free that it is hardly comparable with other cities. The master is visiting such a place after a long time, so it doesn’t make sense for him to come as quietly as possible. There was definitely a need to be as flashy and loud as possible.”
“If you believe so, then it must be correct.”
Raven agreed. If Vincent deemed it as such, then it would be correct.
“By the way, the city has really grown. It is strikingly different from the last time I came. It seems as if the population has increased by several times.”
Raven spoke with admiration, recalling the sight he saw a while ago as he passed through the roads of York Town.
“80% of the walls have been completed, and most of the essential buildings, including the temples of the gods and the official residence, have been completed. The residential districts and markets located around the central bell tower have been allocated and constructed. Now, the luxury residential areas are being erected in areas around the York Town Stream.”
“Luxury residential areas?”
Raven tilted his head with puzzlement at the unfamiliar words. Vincent continued while pointing at a map on the table.
“Right here. As the lord knows, York Town Stream is an artificial river created by drawing from the tributary. Originally, we were planning to divide up the land near the stream to create the residences of the duchy’s nobles and the officials of the city.”
“Yes, but far more nobles and merchants from other territories have been visiting than I expected. That is why we were faced with a shortage of decent accommodations for the nobles and the merchants. We could overlook the issue, but I thought it would be better to devise a solution for the long run.”
Raven nodded while stroking his chin.
Regular nobles and merchants would be content using the luxury rooms of the inns placed around York Town, but it would be different for the nobles who had enough status to be titled lords of different territories, or for merchants with massive wealth. In addition, the aim was to garner the interests of the nobles and the merchants from all over the empire to invest in York Town, which would be quite difficult if they received a bad impression of the city due to the accommodation.
“So I invited the bigshot nobles and the merchants who had been staying in York Town for more than a month. I told them that I was planning to create a residential area for the duchy’s nobles and city officials near the stream, and that there was some land left over. Then I asked if they had any interests or intentions of buying the land.”
“What did they say?”
Vincent shrugged in response when Raven asked with curiosity.
“They didn’t seem particularly interested.”
“Well, since you brought up the topic, you must have thrown them something else. That is why we’re building luxury residences right now.”
“As expected, the lord’s insight is truly spectacular. I threw them a big one, just as you say. They had no choice but to take the bait.”
“They had no choice…? Hmmm…? Huh? Don’t tell me, you…?”
Raven looked at Vincent with a flabbergasted expression. A ridiculous thought had popped into his head. As if confirming Raven’s thoughts, Vincent nodded with an apologetic expression.
“Yes, I told them that the lord would stay at the soon-to-be-completed duchy residence near the York Town Stream every time you visited. Naturally, banquets would be held frequently…”
Raven let out a burst of vain laughter. Not too long ago, Vincent had mentioned that Raven would be staying at a specially arranged residence when he visited York Town, rather than staying at the official residence. He lightly criticized Vincent for spending money on building a separate structure when the official residence existed. However, he had been inwardly satisfied at Vincent’s choice, since a quiet, private residence was much preferred over a busy, crowded residence. But Raven never imagined it had been for such a purpose…
“Phew… Good. So what did they say?”
Raven asked while shaking his head. The apologetic expression disappeared from Vincent’s face in an instant and he spoke with a bright smile.
“I didn’t need to say anything more. They were competing to be the first ones to buy. A total of sixteen people signed the contract. The down payment alone is covering the cost of managing York Town’s security for an entire year.”
“…well, good work.”
A vassal who sold out his lord to sell land… It was quite ridiculous when he thought about it, but Raven had no choice but to accept it. It wasn’t as if he had to stay in York Town for the entire year. At most, he would visit once or twice a month and spend a few days.
It had been tolerable to suffer the pestering of the nobles and the merchants thus far. If they were making a fortune equivalent to a year’s worth of operating the security through his small sacrifice (?), he was doing the right thing as a monarch.
“Thank you, my lord. Anyway… In that sense, there is a banquet prepared for today. Why don’t you attend for the future of York Town and the duchy…?”
Vincent spoke with a warm, gentle smile, but a cold sweat fell behind Raven’s back.
The gentle breeze of early summer entered through the half-open window. A girl was working hard on a piece of document while arranging her hair with her fingers. She was insanely adorable, that anyone would believe her to be a fairy, but she also exuded a strange, seductive atmosphere as well.
She bit down on her lower lips as if contemplating something, but soon stuck out her tongue rather cutely, lightly smacked her lips, then continued writing. The scene was reminiscent of a masterful painting. Even though she was a woman just like themselves, the admiring expressions of the maids proved her enchanting beauty.
“Baroness Conrad and Lady Mandy are here to see you, my lady.”
A maid approached her and spoke politely.
“Is that so? See them in.”
Irene smiled brightly like a flower in full bloom. Soon, Lindsay and Iriya entered Irene’s residence with a few maids.
Irene hopped over to Lindsay and grasped her hands. Even though they had been riding in the same carriage only a few hours ago, she was still pleased to see Lindsay.
“Lady Mandy, welcome.”
As soon as she let go of Lindsay’s hands, Irene smiled softly at Iriya and said politely.
“Nice to see you, Lady Pendragon.”
She was a little disappointed, but Iriya bowed her head without expressing it. In fact, Irene’s current attitude was a massive improvement from before. Iriya felt that Irene did not feel dislike for herself. When they first met, it felt as if a small wall existed between them, but Irene no longer seemed to regard her as an outsider.
Irene’s experience at Slain Castle had been crucial in transforming her attitude towards Iriya.
“By the way, Lady Pendragon. What were you doing?”
Lindsay asked while glancing at the table. After taking a sip of cold tea, Irene replied with a smile.
“Well, I was writing a letter to His Highness Ian.”
“To His Highness?”
Lindsay asked with surprise. She knew that Irene did not have much of a heart for Prince Ian. Rather, besides the prince, Irene showed no interest in any man except her brother. Only half a year ago, she had completely disregarded the marriage offers from the leading noble families of the empire, though now, the offers had lessened after the rumors regarding Prince Ian and herself had spread. But now she was writing a letter to a man?
It was a truly surprising sight.
“It’s a little weird in your eyes as well, right?”
“N, not at all, my lady.”
Irene asked with a grin, and Lindsay hurriedly shook her head.
“What about you, Lady Mandy?”
Iriya became flustered and could not answer. She was smart and confident, but it was the first time Irene was asking for her opinion on something, so she didn’t answer immediately. But Iriya quickly regained her composure and answered cautiously.
“You must have reasons for your actions.”
Iriya spoke with the utmost courtesy, even though certain ideas appeared in her mind.
“Is that so? So what do you think my reasons are?”
Iriya closed her lips when Irene asked once more. It was a bit difficult to speak her mind clearly, especially when Irene had been treating her as an outsider not too long ago.
“Ho-ho! Lady Mandy is quick to notice such things. Quite similar to myself, in fact. That is also the reason why I didn’t like Lady Mandy that much until recently, even though I valued you highly.”
Iriya unknowingly blushed and bowed her head.
The beautiful girl in front of her must have known exactly what she was thinking. Even though she was many years younger, Irene Pendragon was not as thoughtless or as stupid as the other noble ladies.
“Well then, shall we speak our thoughts for the sake of Baroness Conrad, whom I like very very much because she is so nice and innocent?”
“M, my lady…”
This time, Lindsay’s face turned red. She could not be more grateful to Irene. Even though Lindsay was suddenly transformed from a mere maid to her husband’s wife, Irene was always looking out for her. Irene observed the two ladies with a gentle smile on her face, then opened her small, plump lips to speak.
“I’m going to be empress.”
Lindsay was shocked, and Iriya also expressed surprise at Irene’s words. Even though Iriya assumed Irene’s intentions, she never thought Irene would be so direct.
“I should get married soon. I can’t live in the arms of my brother and mother forever, in Conrad Castle. I’m not a child anymore.”
This was absolutely true. Rather, considering that she was celebrating her coming of age this year, it was a little late. It was common for noble ladies to get engaged in their early teens and married when they were around fifteen or sixteen.
“B, but my lady, why so suddenly…?”
Lindsay stuttered with tears in her eyes.
It did not matter to Lindsay that Irene would become empress. She was worried and sad that Irene, who was still young and pretty, would be leaving the Pendragon Duchy to head somewhere else. Understanding Lindsay’s heart, Irene smiled warmly and grasped Lindsay’s hands.
“I decided when I was in the South, sister. As the eldest daughter of the Pendragon Duchy, I have to fulfill my responsibilities. Just as Sir Johnbolt fulfilled his responsibilities…”
Lindsay and Iriya’s eyes shook greatly at the mention of Leon.
“He fulfilled his duties as a squire of the family and an escort. He disregarded even his own life to complete his duties, to protect us. So I… I have to fulfill my duties and responsibilities as Irene Pendragon.”
Lindsay cried out in a teary voice.
“It was the same for you Lady Mandy, was it not? Iriya Mandy’s duty was to become my brother’s woman.”
Iriya bowed her head quietly.
Irene Pendragon was right. Becoming the woman of a duke, who had shaken the entire of the South, was another step forward for the Mandy Association. Even so, that wasn’t the entire truth. Choosing Alan Pendragon wasn’t just the Mandy family’s will. It was her own…
“This is my will as well.”
Iriya raised her head.
Irene was looking at herself with a look of elegance and responsibility. Irene Pendragon was no longer just a pretty, innocent girl. At this moment, she was truly the eldest daughter of the Pendragon family.Previous Chapter Next Chapter