Chapter 307

The journey from the Pendragon Duchy to Leus was relatively calm and uneventful. The South was in the midst of recovering and rebuilding from the long war, but the mainland had experienced peace in recent years. With the exception of the North, territorial disputes and trouble had been rare in the mainland. Naturally, this did not mean that there were absolutely no troubles at all. Territorial disputes were still present in some areas of the empire.

However, after the imperial castle personally dispatched Ian, who would be the next crown prince, the other lords became frightened and behaved themselves. After all, no one wanted to have royalty knocking on their doors. It would be foolish to rustle the imperial family’s feathers during such troubling times and get in their bad books.

Eventually, the mainland was forcibly thrust into an unprecedented period of peace thanks to the events of the South. The trade between the South was booming exponentially through York Town and Leus, resulting in significantly improved economies of all the territories.

The lords of the territories became more generous with increased production and money, which meant that the lives of the residents were more stable and better compared to before. Therefore, Raven’s group had been able to travel peacefully for the past five days after leaving the duchy.

“What are you thinking about?”

Raven asked. Eltuan had been deeply contemplating something on her horse since morning. She looked up, then replied with a wry smile.

“This place is vastly different from the Red Moon Valley and the South. It’s so peaceful. There’s no fighting.”

Raven with a grin. She seemed somewhat envious in her tone and expression.

“That’s just what it seems like on the surface. Fighting is still prevalent here, and people die in conflicts all the time.”

“Is that so…? But I haven’t seen anything in the last five days.”

“That is because we have only travelled on a safe path. Besides, who would dare touch us?”

Saying so, Raven glanced at the group that followed behind him. Besides himself, who had his armor and swords hanging from the saddle, Eltuan and the other four elves were extraordinary at first glance. The bizarre drawings on their faces had been erased, but all of them were dressed similarly and armed with a buffalo horn sword around their waist. In addition, crossbows were hanging from their saddles. No one in their right mind would mess with such a group.

Above all else,

“Would you like to try some of this, my lady? It is a snack made of sugar imported from the South. I bought it at the marketplace in the town we visited yesterday.”

“Oh my… Thank you, Leo.”

The two whispered with their horses glued together. Raven could not help but snicker at their actions. They were likely conscious of the group and watching their behavior, but with such a small group of people in the party, everything they did and said could be seen and heard.

“Oh, you don’t have any for me?”

“Heup!”

“Ah!”

The two figures instantly stiffened at Raven’s words.

“Huh? Is there really nothing for me? I fed you and gave you a place to stay for a year… I’m a little disappointed.”

Raven sighed while smacking his lips.

“Uh, uh, what should we do?”

Sophia fumbled, her face turning pale. Even though some time had passed, Raven was no different from the grim reaper to her. The events that transpired in the middle of her territory were still vivid in her mind. Even her father had been helpless in front of Duke Pendragon.

“H-Here you are, Your Excellency!”

Leo rushed his horse and held out the iron box that he was about to offer Sophia.

“Hmm? Are you telling me to take away someone else’s gift? Hmm, so that’s how you must have gauged me, Leo. As a person who would steal someone’s gift…”

“Heup! T, that’s not it…”

Raven replied with a disappointed expression, and Leo stuttered with panic.

“This is quite disheartening. I cannot believe that the heir to the Ramelda Territory, the blood ally of the Pendragon Duchy, always considered me to be such a villain… Huh! I do not even have my wife with me to vent my sorrows. How saddening.”

“Not at all! Absolutely not!”

Leo shook his head with an expression teetering on tears. After discovering her pregnancy in the South, Lindsay had to stay at Conrad Castle to maintain her health. Raven was traveling to Leus by himself. Of course, Iriya had already been named as his second concubine, but she had to stay in York Town for the time being to assist her father with the newly established transportation business.

They had been displaying such affection in front of a duke who was forced to depart by himself, especially when the duke was at a prime age of passion where his blood should be boiling. Leo felt like hiding away in a rat hole in shame.

But soon, a smile appeared around Raven’s mouth.

“I am only kidding. Miss Bresia, why don’t you come over here as well.”

“Yes, Your Excellency!”

Sophia had been gauging Raven’s expression with anxiety in the distance. She drew her horse closer to Raven in relief.

“By the way, does His Excellency Bresia know about the relationship between you two?”

“Yes, Your Excellency. The Duchess recently sent a letter regarding the matter to father…”

Sophia responded with a slight blush. Raven was a little surprised at her response.

“The Duchess herself? That is great to hear.”

“I am overwhelmed by the great grace of the Duchess.”

Leo scratched the back of his head with a flushed face, and Sophia bowed her head in embarrassment. In fact, their reaction was expected. Even though they were both nobles, the difference in status between Sophia and Leo was enormous. Sophia was the daughter of a high lord. If she decided to, she could have married into a major power of the imperial castle, or even an heir to the high lord of another great territory.

She was a member of a great noble family of the empire. By contrast, however, the Ramelda family had been quite insignificant. Before, they weren’t even a vassal family of Sisak’s High Lord, but a knight family serving under a lord serving the high lord. Of course, the Ramelda family had been promoted to the lord of an independent territory thanks to Raven, but the invisible gap that existed in their status was still huge.

However, despite such differences in status, the two had become lovers. In addition, they had made their decision without parental consent in a strict, political, noble society. It was obvious that they would face insurmountable obstacles. In fact, it was almost impossible for the two to maintain a normal relationship. They could never get married with blessings.

Leo and Sophia were also very well aware of the fact. As such, they had been uneasy as they slowly progressed in their relationship in Conrad Castle. It was obvious that they could not see each other anymore when they returned to the Great Territory of Sisak.

Knowing their unfortunate situation, Elena had personally stepped up.

The one with the most seniority in the Pendragon family.

Even Raven had to act with caution and carefully consider her opinions. She had handwritten a letter to Count Bresia that was stamped with the Pendragon family’s seal. The symbol possessed even more significance since the Pendragon family was currently considered one of the most influential and prestigious families in the empire.

Elena was a royal princess and a cherished sister of the current emperor. Furthermore, everyone knew that Ian would receive her daughter, Irene, as his wife. Ian would rise to the throne as crown prince, and Irene would become the empress.

In other words, Elena was the sister of the current emperor and the mother of the next empress.

With such an esteemed figure sending a handwritten letter, Count Bresia’s decision regarding the two lovers was obvious.

“Well, how did His Excellency Bresia respond?”

Leo answered Raven’s question with a bright expression.

“He asked me to come with Lady Bresia. And, uh… He said he would be delighted if Your Excellency could come along as well…”

Leo blurred his words while assessing Raven’s reaction. Raven was a duke of the empire and Governor-General of Leus. He could not spare time to go to Sisak for personal reasons.

“Hmm. Well, I think I will have to head to the imperial castle soon, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stop by on the way.”

“What? Are you sure?”

Leo’s eyes widened with shock. Sophia also raised her head with surprise. Elena’s letter had provided them with the wings to overcome the crisis. If Duke Pendragon were to accompany them, they would feel reassured. It would be akin to having an army supporting them.

“It doesn’t matter if I stop by on my way to the capital anyways. Two or three more days, I’m sure Ian will understand.”

“Heuk! A, are you talking about His Highness Prince Ian…?”

Leo’s mouth hung agape. In addition to Duke Pendragon, Prince Ian might be joining them as well. The person who would become the emperor in 10 years would be accompanying them to the Great Territory of Sisak.

“…..”

“What are you so surprised about? Ian should arrive in Leus within 15 days, so let’s talk about it then.”

Raven smiled while responding to the two stunned individuals, then rode his horse forward.

“P, perhaps we’ve grown things too big, Miss Bresia…”

Leo looked at Sophia and spoke with a soulless expression.

“Sir Ramelda…”

The two people shared a gaze with an expression that was neither crying nor laughing on their way to Leus.

***

“His Excellency the Governor-General!”

Imperial knights and soldiers lined the wide-open doors of Leus’ main gate. It had been a long time since they had gathered in such a fashion. A knight slowly rode forward from their midst and saluted with respect.

“I greet the governor-general.”

“What’s with the dull formalities? How has everything been?”

Raven grinned at Viscount Moraine’s greeting. The man had arrived in Leus before him. Viscount Moraine replied with a smile of his own.

“There’s been a few things going on.”

“Huh?”

Raven became puzzled at his words. The viscount continued while urging his horse closer to Raven.

“The number of merchant ships wanting to enter the port has doubled since the expedition. It’s not too much work for us, since all we do is the inspection, but the people from the harbor are having a hard time due to the lack of manpower.”

“Hmm, I see.”

“In addition, the ports near Leus are much busier than before. There’s the issue with security as well. Not just me, but all of the officials have been anxiously waiting for the governor-general’s arrival.”

Viscount Moraine was frowning slightly. It appeared he had been put under quite a bit of stress. To be fair, Viscount Moraine was a natural-born warrior. While the governor was away, he had to deal with all the complaints and whining of the officials. He must have been annoyed.

But Raven had predicted such an event with Vincent. He pretended to be a little worried.

“Huh, that’s quite troubling.”

“It is indeed quite troubling. But now that you are here, the city’s maintenance, as well as all the matters, can return to normal and…”

“I meant to say that it will be quite troubling for Your Excellency.”

“Hmm? What do you…”

Viscount Moraine’s eyes grew wider when Raven cut off his words.

“Huh? You mean you did not know? I already told His Majesty that I would only serve as the Governor-General of Leus until the end of this year.”

“I already know about that, but… What does that have to do with me? Why will that be troubling for me?”

An ominous feeling struck Viscount Moraine. He frowned, and Raven casually replied.

“Oh, come to think of it, I haven’t told you yet. I recommended you as the next Governor-General of Leus to His Majesty.”

“What?!”

Viscount Moraine raised his voice without realizing it. The gazes of the 7th regiment soldiers and knights headed towards the two. Although he had shared life and death with Raven, Viscount Moraine could not show disrespect in front of an imperial duke and governor. He hurriedly lowered his voice.

“What do you mean by that? You recommended me as the Governor-General of Leus?”

“Yes. Is there a problem?”

“Well, no, that’s not…”

Viscount Moraine looked at Raven with a ridiculous expression. He continued with a flushed face.

“Governor, no, Your Excellency Duke Pendragon. I am an imperial knight and a commander of a regiment. I only know how to handle a sword, command an army, and move a fleet. How could I become the Governor-General of Leus? The city will go under in three years. No, it will only take a single year. So…”

“Well, I’m glad you mentioned that. His Majesty highly valued your leadership skills and your fleet operations. As such, he agreed with my opinion with pleasure. Of course, Ian agreed with the decision as well.”

“What? Huh…!? Huhuh!”

Viscount Moraine found the situation so ridiculous that he burst out into a small laugh. But soon, he took on a serious expression before speaking to Raven.

“I am not kidding, Your Excellency. If you insist on making me Governor-General of Leus, I’m going to take off my armor and leave the military service immediately…”

“You will retain your position as the commander of the 7th regiment. You will serve as both the governor-general and an imperial commander. Just like Lord Cedric, Governor-General of El Pasa.”

“Well…”

Viscount Moraine shut his mouth at Raven’s words.

“In addition, expansion of the 7th regiment has been approved. His Majesty has promised three Aragon-class ships. The 7th regiment could well rise to become the strongest navy of the empire, rather than the 12th regiment.”

“Hmm…!”

Seeing Viscount Moraine’s eyes tremble, Raven delivered the final blow with an insidious smile inside.

“Above all, although I am stepping down as governor-general, if Lord Moraine becomes Governor-General of Leus, I will spare nothing to assist you, whether it be manpower or anything else. As you know, York Town and Leus have already become inseparable. You and I will get through this together, just as we and the 7th regiment did in the South.”

“Hmmmmm!!”

As soon as he remembered the experiences in the South, hot comradeship soared from Viscount Moraine’s heart. His facial muscles were starting to twitch without him realizing it.

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