As time passed, the banquet became even louder and rowdier.
It wasn’t completely in line with the grandiose of a Duchy, but Raven didn’t give much thought to it. He rather liked the atmosphere.
It was painful to sit still and chat quietly with Elena, his sisters, and a few nobles while the party was going on. Thankfully, something happened that caught Raven’s attention.
“Excuse me, your grace. I’ve brought Lindsay.”
The head maid slowly approached Raven and spoke carefully.
He had thought Lindsay had gone to rest at the palace, so he was rather puzzled to see Lindsay make her appearance.
A sound of admiration escaped the mouths of the nobles as they turned their heads along with Raven to look at Lindsay.
Lindsay had changed out of her maid outfit and was now wearing a summer dress with white and green colours. Her looks were both fresh and sexy. Her cleavage was more visible now that she wore a dress that fit her tightly, and her hair that was always in a bun was now let loose, which gave her a youthful look.
A simple but cute butterfly-shaped pin adorned her head, and a matching brooch decorated the side of her dress. She looked beautiful and elegant. Moreover, her shyness only added to the enchanting feeling, and Raven mindlessly gazed at Lindsay for a moment without realizing it.
He was dazed by her appearance, but more so at the fact that people were able to change so much.
But he quickly turned his head. He had achieved a lot, but he still had long ways to go.
He had neither the time nor room right now in his life for a relationship with a woman. No, he wouldn’t have the leisure for the short imaginable future.
‘But why did they dress her up like that? That’s very strange.’
He was confused.
Meanwhile, Lindsay stood in her place with a bright red face, embarrassed by the stares of her lord, and all the attendants of the banquet. She thought she was about to get into big trouble when two senior maids and the head maid dragged her somewhere.
But what in the world? They bathed her and washed her hair before putting on a beautiful, expensive dress and makeup on her. The head maid then brought out a matching set of a hairpin and a brooch, one of the prettiest accessories she had seen in her life.
Ignorant of why this was happening to her, Lindsay felt more scared rather than happy, but she couldn’t muster up the courage to ask the head maid. She just did as she was told.
But now that she stood in front of everybody, she was embarrassed, and her heart was wildly pounding.
She felt electrified when Alan Pendragon glanced at her, and his gaze stayed on her for a while. But she felt that he was a bit cruel when he turned his head away.
‘W, what am I thinking?’
How could she possibly think poorly of her master? He was like the sky to her, a presence whom she could only look up to. Even though his engagement was now broken off, his fiancée was a high-ranking noble whom she could never compare to.
Moreover, the fiancée that he had before Lady Seyrod was from the royal family. An imperial princess. A real princess like those she only read about in the stories.
Finally, the lady who guarded His Grace’s side since his return was a personified ‘dragon’. Her mysteriousness and beauty made people’s hearts tremble at the mere mention of it.
They were women who all possessed immeasurably greater status than her own. The difference was even beyond that of heaven and earth. Lindsay was just a normal girl, the second daughter of a commoner’s family. It was thanks to her father, who retired after serving the Pendragon family as a soldier, that she had the privilege to work as a maid in the castle. Otherwise, she would be doing farm work in her hometown.
‘You need to snap out of it…’
She didn’t know the reasons behind the current situation, but everything she imagined and all that was occurring was no different from a simple dream from a midsummer’s night.
In a little while, it would all blow away and disappear like a mirage, and she would return to working as a regular maid as she had done so all these years.
It was only natural. It was her destiny, but she still felt a little heartbroken.
“There, go behind His Grace, and take a seat.”
“Y, yes. Head maid-nim.”
Lindsay carefully grabbed the hem of her skirt and stepped towards the place where all the important personnel of the Pendragon Duchy were seated. As she took her place and sat behind Raven, Elena looked at her with a satisfied expression and nodded her head. This girl named Lindsay was quite pleasing to the eye when she was dolled up, and she was careful in her behaviour which Elena found quite likeable.
“Don’t you think you need to officialize that child’s place with you?”
“Excuse me? What do you mean her place… with me?”
Raven tilted his head at the sudden remark. Her place? Her place that she was sitting in right now?
“Didn’t you say so just a while ago? That during the whole trip that you’ve been doing…. Ehem! Doing big things for the family?”
“I did say that, but I am unsure as to what that has to do with this child’s place with me.”
“No, that’s not quite right. She put in so much effort during the whole trip. I think it’s a good time. Why don’t we make an official announcement regarding this?”
“Yes? No, I have no idea what you are talking about…?”
As Elena kept speaking nonsensical words, Raven’s face scrunched up in confusion. Elena responded to Raven’s expression with a grim expression on her face.
“You can’t possibly… Even if she is of low status, she cared for you so long and had a deep relationship with you. You can’t possibly have treated the whole affair as nothing more than just fooling around?”
“Hmmm?? What do you mean ‘fooling around’?”
Raven's eyes shot wide open. When was he ‘fooling around’ with Lindsay? When all she did was help him train his body and act as a decoy in hiding his true skills?
‘Heuk! Don’t tell me…’
A thought struck his head.
“You are of an appropriate age so even if you take in a concubine, no one will see it in a bad light. No matter if it is a concubine or a wife, it is a good thing for a family to be able to see a son. A son of a concubine of the Pendragon family will have the title of a baron as a knight of the Duchy. It will be good to consecrate empty land as territory for your son to manage, and to promote the peace of the Duchy in the future.”
It became clear.
Elena Pendragon thought that Lindsay had an amorous relationship with him. Only now he realized why Elena did not object to him taking Lindsay along the trip, why Elena relocated Lindsay’s quarters closer to him, and why Lindsay was brought back to the banquet all dressed up.
Everything fit into place.
‘This is driving me crazy…’
Raven let out a deep sight and turned his head slightly. His gaze met Lindsay’s eyes, and she quickly looked down at the ground. It seemed that the child also had no idea regarding this huge misunderstanding.
He looked at Lindsay with calm eyes.
It was her that he first saw when he woke up as Alan Pendragon. He remembered how gentle and meticulous she was in cleaning his body. He also remembered how she struggled to help him with his training, sweating all the while. She also didn’t complain about the trip even once and did her best in taking care of her master and all the soldiers, doing all sorts of difficult labours at Bellint Gate.
Instead of wanting compensation, she had cried and rejoiced when he returned safely.
Raven suddenly felt sorry. Strictly speaking, all this misunderstanding was caused because he tried to use her to fool others’ eyes.
But what would happen if he told Elena the truth right now?
It didn’t seem like it was just Elena Pendragon who was involved in the misunderstanding. The head maid, as well as everyone else in the banquet, seemed to treat Lindsay as his concubine.
If the truth were to come out, Lindsay would immediately return to her original place as a lowly maid and suffer all sorts of hardships. There was no way that those around her would leave her be. Just by seeing the jealous expressions of the other maids and how they were glaring at her with envious eyes, he could foresee Lindsay’s unfortunate future.
‘I guess I have no choice.’
Raven made up his mind. The misunderstanding was caused by his actions, so it was only natural for him to take responsibility.
“I will do as you say, Duchess. I will take Lindsay as my wif… I mean as my concubine.”
He had frequently wondered if he would ever get married, but now he suddenly had a concubine. Even thinking about it made his head throb, but he was determined to not let others suffer.
“Oh! Yes, of course, you should do that! Well, we should make an announcement right now.”
Plus, it was nice seeing Elena Pendragon in high spirits, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing after all…
‘No, but who knows what Lindsay might think about this?’
“Oh, Duchess. Before that, I would like to talk with Lindsay privately. It’s a bit sudden, so I think she needs some time to prepare her heart as well. I don’t think there’s a need to rush things so suddenly, don’t you think?”
“Hmm. If that’s what you wish for, then so be it.”
With Elena’s permission, Raven stood up from his chair and approached Lindsay.
Lindsay’s heart beat rapidly when she saw her master have a serious conversation with the duchess before standing up and walking her way. The conversation seemed to have something to do with why the head maid had dressed her in such fashion.
“Yes, your grace.”
Lindsay hurriedly rose up and bowed her head with her hands gathered.
Now that he was standing in front of her, Raven couldn’t get the words out easily. An awkward atmosphere was erected, and Lindsay kept bowing her head, her heart wanting to burst out of her body.
Raven spoke already knowing that the situation was out of his control.
“You, you need to be my girl.”
‘You crazy son of a bitch….’
He had never spoken to women regarding the matter of relationships, so he had spat out whatever words came to his mind.
The end result was disastrous and cringe-worthy.
Raven hurriedly added an explanation.
“Well, the truth is. The duchess has misunderstood your act in helping me train my body. No, not just the duchess, but the whole castle including the head maid and others now think that…”
Raven was speaking with a cold expression, but he was embarrassed. Mentally, all of his sweat that he accumulated over his two lives were profusely pouring out of his body. Lindsay looked at the man in front of her, looking possessed. A man whom she thought she could never reach and never touch.
“…And so I need you to be my concubine. I know you may not like it, but there aren’t any other choices, so…”
“I do not mind it.”
A quiet voice stopped Raven from speaking.
“I, I don’t hate it! I like it, your grace!”
Lindsay raised her voice and spoke, unknowingly raising her voice. However, she became conscious of the gazes of people around her, and once again blushed before lowering her head.
“I, I do not hate it… I… I’m happy with it…”
Raven was overcome with strange feelings in Lindsay’s words. She made sure to speak her thoughts even in a situation like this.
However, Raven was unfamiliar with such emotions and hurriedly turned his head.
“Then keep that in mind. I will give you a statement later through the head maid.”
Raven returned to his seat after hearing Lindsay’s shy answer. He felt distressed at Elena’s joyful expression… and he felt chills run down his back as if someone was looking at him.
Suddenly feeling thirsty, he emptied the glass of wine in front of him.
The banquet drew to a climax as the sunlight disappeared into the horizon, and the sky was dyed with various shades of red and purple.
Drunk soldiers banded together with their shoulders crossed and sang their songs, and smoky gazes were exchanged here and there between men and women that were of marriageable age.
Someone’s laughter shook the banquet hall.
“Kuhehehehe! Good, good! But what’s with this tune? It sounds like a damn mosquito buzzing around.”
People’s gazes headed toward the source of the loud voice.
The biggest orc was walking towards the musicians, his face red-hot from the alcohol. He held a pig’s hind leg in one of his hands.
It was Karuta.
Melborn started to take steps forward with concern in his eyes, but Raven lightly shook his head to deter him. Realizing Raven’s message, Melborn signalled at the musicians, and they left with their instruments still in their place. Karuta flung the meat behind his back and turned to the orc warriors who were still drinking and eating since the beginning of the banquet.
“Hey, you orcs! A few of you come out! Let’s show these scarecrows what real music is!”
Five or six orcs rushed out as if they had been waiting.
“Let’s have some fun!”
Karuta walked up to a big drum, rolled up his sleeves and raised the drumstick. His forearm muscles, which were the size of logs, were revealed and he smashed the drumstick onto the drums.
Boom! Boom! Daboom! Boom!
Heavy drumming rang throughout the courtyard. The sound was incomparable to the music that was playing before. Orc warriors took out different types of horn trumpets and placed the instruments on their thick lips.
A majestic harmony resonated with the beat of the big drum. One by one, people became enamoured with the music of the orcs that were not easily heard.
Although it was a crude piece with only a few different notes, the orcs’ performance stimulated something primitive in the hearts of the audience. One by one, people started to move their feet to the orcs’ performance.
Karuta roared jubilantly as he smashed the drum.
Then the orc warriors, who were watching from the side, rushed to the center of the courtyard and started to clap their hands and stomp their feet to the loud sound of the drums.
Boom! Boom! Daboom!
The orc warriors’ dance was domineering.
Every time their log-like hands clapped and their large feet stomped, the entire courtyard seemed to vibrate.
The naturally spreading Orc Fear, the heat of the music, and the orcs naturally mingled with the humans. A wild atmosphere engulfed the middle of Conrad Castle.Previous Chapter Next Chapter