“Well, I think we better deal with that as the governor-general suggests.”
“Yes. Fighting poison with poison is a good idea as well. Are there any other issues?”
Raven spoke after wiping the smile off his mouth. Viscount Moraine thought for a moment, then replied with a serious expression.
“There is still one biggest issue remaining. I am sure the governor-general would have guessed already…”
Raven’s expression changed when Viscount Moraine spoke in a somber tone. There was only one issue that was more critical than what was just mentioned. It was something that would impact Leus, or even the entire empire…
After finishing up with the southern expedition, Ian would soon arrive in Leus with the 11th regiment and the defeated Duke Arangis.
“Even if the 11th regiment is responsible for escorting and guarding, it is only a matter of course… Rumors are already rife, and not only nobles, but the merchants are carefully gauging the situation as well.”
“That is bound to be the case. It’s not anyone else, but Duke Arangis himself.”
Raven slowly nodded.
A traitor to the imperial family.
Duke of the empire.
The great monarch of the South was being transported to the mainland after suffering a humiliating defeat.
“The movements of the Leus nobles are rather unpredictable. As you know, they never openly supported the rebellion, but many of the families have been associated with the Arangis Duchy for many generations.”
What Viscount Moraine said was true.
Due to the nature of Leus as a port city, influential figures of Leus shared inseparable relationships with Duke Arangis. It had been inevitable since the Arangis Duchy controlled the inland sea for many years.
Moreover, it was not just Leus.
It wasn’t as prevalent as the South, but many of the mainland nobles shared a relationship with the Arangis Duchy. It was only natural. The Arangis Duchy’s dynasty dated back hundreds of years, and they reigned as one of the most powerful duchies since the founding of the empire. In fact, a heated debate over his disposition had already begun in the imperial castle. Major nobles, including the high lords, were paying keen attention to the incident.
“I do not know much about politics, but every single word he speaks in front of His Majesty could shake the whole empire.”
“Exactly. That is why Ian took it upon himself to head to the South to receive their surrender directly and to transport Duke Arangis back to the imperial castle, rather than me.”
Although the Pendragon Duchy’s reputation was piercing the skies and increasing day by day, they possessed numerous enemies as well. If Raven were to bring in Duke Arangis, it created an opportunity for the enemies to create all kinds of noise and problems.
But it was different with Ian.
He was being discussed as the next crown prince. He personally led a fleet to the South to put an end to the rebellion. No one doubted that Ian would rise to the throne and eventually become emperor. In the end, no one would dare create a ruckus if Ian personally delivered Duke Arangis to the imperial castle.
“Only if everything would go the way we wanted to… However…”
Raven muttered in a low voice. Viscount Moraine nodded with a stiff expression. They were living in an age where even the crown prince was brought down by an assassination attempt. There was no saying that the same could not happen to a duke who lost a war.
“If a problem arises in Leus, the imperial castle has no choice but to hold you responsible.”
Although Viscount Moraine claimed to be unfamiliar with politics, his comments were on point.
“That is most likely.”
Raven thought the same way, and Vincent had spoken similar words back in York Town. If anything were to happen to Duke Arangis in Leus, all the responsibility would fall to the governor – himself.
There were bucketloads of nobles trying to keep him in check. Such nobles would not concern themselves if he lived out a peaceful, quiet life in the Pendragon Duchy. However, the Pendragon Duchy was voluntarily but forcibly thrust into the eye of the storm. They created a huge force in the South, minted their own gold coins, and also started to do business with Karl Mandy and Dos Giovanni to shake up the empire’s commerce.
But they weren’t stopping there, but trying to direct the spotlight to themselves in the imperial castle’s political scene over Duke Arangis’ disposition? The high lords and great nobles had built themselves up for hundreds of years. This was a serious event that could shake their very foundations.
It was a completely different matter from the success of the Pendragon Duchy. It was obvious that they would want to deal a blow to the Pendragon Duchy, especially to the duke himself. This held truer if they had suffered from Raven in the past or possessed a sour relationship with him.
“First of all, I think we should keep an eye on those who have ties to the Arangis Duchy in Leus and the nobles who have recently entered the city.”
“There’s going to be more than just one or two… Do you think it will be possible? If you send knights or soldiers, they’ll be sure to send complaints…”
Viscount Moraine’s wrinkles deepened.
“Did I not tell you earlier? We should fight poison with poison.”
Raven grinned in response to Viscount Moraine’s confusion.
“There are those who know the people that enter and leave the city much better than the gate guards, isn’t that right?”
Viscount Moraine came to realize and burst into a low exclamation.
A huge sailboat cut through the waves in the early summer sea breeze. Dozens of ships belonging to the 11th regiment were entering the waters of Leus, maintaining their formation which centered around one of the strongest Aragon-class ships in the imperial navy. Two people were seated in the cabin of the Aragon-class battleship. One was the protagonist who ended the southern rebellion, and he sat face to face with another man.
“We should arrive in Leus by tomorrow morning.”
“Is that so…”
Duke Arangis nodded at Ian’s words. Although his face was haggard from the defeat and the long voyage, his eyes were still full of energy.
“Well, come to think of it, it will be your first time meeting the Duke of Pendragon.”
“…I’m looking forward to it.”
“Looking forward to it…”
Ian licked his lips while observing Duke Arangis’ expression. Although the man’s expression remained impassive, he must be filled with complicated emotions. The declaration of surrender was made to the prince, but it was none other than Duke Pendragon who effectively topped the Arangis Duchy. In addition, Duke Arangis lost his second son, Toleo, to Duke Pendragon.
Although Duke Arangis had never favored Toleo, it didn’t change the fact that Duke Pendragon killed his child.
“What kind of person is he? The Duke of Pendragon…”
Ian laughed bitterly at Duke Arangis’ question.
“Well, it’s hard to say… I only know one thing for certain. If he was the one who started the rebellion, I would have been hard-pressed to stop it.”
“You have a very high opinion of him. Is it because he has White Dragon Soldrake by his side?”
“That definitely contributes as well. No one could start a war in the Pendragon Duchy as long as Soldrake is present. Of course, it would be different if Biskra of Arangis and the angel of Lindegor became involved.”
The eyes of Duke Arangis trembled slightly.
Ian’s words contained a deeper meaning. The five duchies played a role in keeping each other in check. Although they could not attack each other hastily, if two or three of the duchies stepped up, they could suppress the party that was causing a problem and threatening the well-being of the empire.
For example, the Pendragon Duchy was practically invincible within its own territories with the presence of Soldrake. However, if another dragon such as Biskra and a transcendent being like Seiel joined forces, the outcome would be different.
The duchies of the empire had balanced each other out in such a fashion thus far. But Biskra was gone, and the Arangis Duchy was defeated. It represented a crack in one of the pillars of the empire. No one knew where the crack would spread to.
“Of course, even without Soldrake, he is a remarkable figure. Compared to successors of other noble families that are of similar age… No, it would be an insult to compare him to others of his age. He is capable in so many ways.”
“Even more than Your Highness?”
Even though he was a loser and a traitor, Duke Arangis had no qualms. In a way, it was shameless and rude, but Ian replied with a smirk.
“In some ways.”
Duke Arangis was slightly surprised. He knew how proud Ian was.
‘Duke Pendragon… What kind of person is he?’
It was truly unimaginable and even frightening. According to Jean Oberon, the Nameless Necromancer, Duke Pendragon had traveled back in time. In addition, he possessed an immortal body in the past. Additionally, Duke Pendragon defeated himself and earned the recognition of Ian.
‘It was only natural that the sorcerer paid so much attention in trying to get rid of him.’
Duke Arangis observed Ian’s expression while having such thoughts.
‘It might be better to hold my tongue regarding the sorcerer until I meet Duke Pendragon.’
There was no need to show his most powerful hand right now. If Prince Ian valued him as a high-profile figure, it would be much better to figure out the situation once the three of them sat in the same room.
“One thing is for certain. The empire will center around him and me in the future. He will be the strongest sword and the strongest shield of the empire.”
Ian was confident.
Duke Arangis had a smile of acceptance, but his heart was cold.
‘There cannot be two suns in the sky. You will find out soon enough, prince…’
News of Prince Ian’s arrival in Leus with the 11th regiment and Duke Arangis quickly spread throughout the empire in just a few days. Following the news of their arrival, it also became known that Duke Pendragon would head to the imperial castle via the central part of the empire. The stories of a duchy’s betrayal and the valiant actions of the heroes could be heard in any pub and inn throughout the empire. Commoners liked to bring up the stories about war and heroes, but nobles were a little different.
Higher-ranking nobles, those who were smart, and those who had a connection to the imperial castle’s politics were carefully speculating the storm that Duke Arangis would bring. Sooner or later, the power structure of the imperial castle would shift around depending on what he said or who he mentioned while kneeling in front of the emperor.
There was another figure at the heart of the great change.
Duke Alan Pendragon.
He wasn’t heading to the imperial castle to give his greetings this time around. He was a victorious general and a victor. Many things would change depending on his words and actions.
The eyes of the empire’s nobles were once again focused on the Duke of Pendragon. Many people had great expectations from him, but just as many were worried because of him. In addition, the high lords and the other dukes of the empire had finally come to a realization after watching the situation from the sidelines thus far.
The storm centered around Alan Pendragon would not subside easily… There was only one way to stop a storm that could devour the imperial society, the power structure, and even the man himself.
It could only be achieved when he disappeared from this world, whether it be a political death as a noble or death as a mortal. The high lords and the nobles of the empire were faced with a choice. They could choose to ride on the storm and lead the change together or strive to maintain the same stable structure as before.
As such, the grand plan regarding Duke Pendragon was being established by others rather than himself.Previous Chapter Next Chapter