Chapter 314

“I greet the duchess.”

“Ho-ho! Please speak comfortably, Lord Isla.”

Isla approached after bowing respectfully. Elena laughed while holding out her hand.

“Not at all. As a knight of Pendragon, I, Elkin Isla, will forever serve the duchess and the two ladies of Pendragon with all that I am.”

He gently kissed the back of her hand after speaking.

“Hohoho.”

It would have been quite cheesy if any other knights had spoken such words, but it was different with Isla. He was always very cautious, cool-headed, and saved his words. Elena burst out into a pleasant laugh after feeling his sincerity.

“Please sit comfortably over here, Lord Isla.”

“Yes.”

He sat down on a chair prepared by the maids.

Soon, simple refreshments were served, and the square, reception room of the castle was filled with a deep fragrance. The reception room was located in the castle where direct descendants of the duchy resided, and although it was rather an uncomfortable and awkward place for a proud knight to be sitting, Isla quietly waited for Elena to speak first with a straight posture. Perhaps Elena found favor in his attitude, as she spoke with a gentle smile on her slightly wrinkled face.

“Every time I see Lord Isla, I am truly grateful, but apologetic at the same time.”

“I only do my best to fulfil my duties as a knight.”

“Ho-ho! But how could I tell my heart what to feel? Although the duke bestowed the title of a baron to Sir Isla, you are a king of a nation. Nevertheless, you are living for the duchy and the duke. It is only natural for me to feel sorry and honored.”

“…..”

Isla silently lowered his head when she spoke with sincerity. In fact, Elena was the most difficult person for Isla to deal with in the Pendragon Duchy. Even his lord, who was the master of the duchy, treated her with respect and care. She held the most seniority in the duchy.

Although born from a different mother, the emperor cared deeply for and adored duchess Elena. She was a woman whom all the personnel from Conrad Castle, or rather, the entire duchy, respected and looked up to.

Even in Isla’s eyes, she was the ideal noble wife that one could only find in old stories. She was elegant, dignified, and possessed a stunning beauty even though she was nearing forty. Moreover, she did not treat anyone lightly even though she was a member of the imperial family. On the contrary, she knew the names and family relationships of all the maids and employees of Conrad Castle. In addition, she was considerate enough to provide a separate residence for older or married maids on one side of the castle.

Such a woman had called him for a private meeting. 

“…..”

Isla remained silent while sipping on tea. He could not find any words to say. Elena opened her mouth once more with a smile.

“Sir Isla, I asked you here today because I would like to ask you a favor.”

“I will listen carefully.”

Elena smiled softly as Isla straightened his posture.

“You do not have to be so nervous. It is not a difficult request.”

Elena turned her head and gave a slight cue to the waiting maids. One person brought forth a silver tray.

“This is…”

Isla frowned slightly upon seeing what lay on top of the silver platter. Dozens of folded letters rested on top of the silver plate.

“All of them are letters introducing their daughters, sisters, and nieces to me.”

“Hmm…”

A sudden thought struck, and Isla gulped with anxiety. The ladies of the castle had treated him differently ever since he returned from the expedition. The letters were most likely offers of marriage.

“With all due respect, my lady, I have not yet…”

“This is not all.”

Elena cut off Isla’s words, then gestured toward the other maids. Once again, the maids walked up to the two figures while carrying silver platters in their hands. Dozens of letters were placed on each plate, and there were three plates in total.

“A total of one hundred thirty-two letters. Naturally, I have read them all, and the ones I showed in the beginning were the ones I picked out because I felt sincerity in the words.”

“…..”

Isla closed his mouth.

He had never dreamed that there would have been so many marriage offers.

“I know very well that you have no intention of forming a family yet. I also know that it is because you want to be faithful to your duties as a knight of Pendragon.”

Elena continued in a soft, calm voice while meeting Isla’s gaze.

“On the other hand, you are the Knight King of Valvas as much as you are a knight of Pendragon. Even I, an outsider, know the name of Mara Valencia, the first Knight King of Valvas. From the perspective of the people of Valvas, and those who regard you as their lord, the cavaliers, they would hope for you to form a family as soon as possible to continue the blood of the Knight King.”

“My lady, however…”

“Please listen to my words until the end.”

“…..!”

Isla was stunned by her unusually firm tone.

Elena was usually gracious and noble, but she was sometimes strict as the senior of the duchy. When she was speaking with a tone such as this, even his lord, the duke, had no choice but to listen to her without retorting.

“As long as you are a knight of Pendragon, Valvas could be considered our blood ally. But no one would want their king to be a subordinate knight to someone else. It goes without saying, especially if we are talking about the Cavaliers of Valvas, who are renowned to be as prideful as their reputation.”

Elena spoke in a low, but strong persuasive voice. Isla nodded unknowingly while listening to the story.

“Although they did not mention it to you, there are sure to be some people who have complaints and objections. Everyone is busy working together to achieve a single purpose with the recent changes, but when everything stabilizes, people will talk.”

“I guess… so.”

Isla had no choice but to agree. After spending quite a long time with Raven, he was also learning little by little about politics.

“Building a family and seeing a successor is the best way to prevent such uncertainties. Let me ask you a question. Lord Isla, do you think your body belongs solely to you?”

“No. As a Knight of Pendragon, everything I am is for the lord and the duchy…”

“No.”

Elena cut off Isla’s words in an even sterner voice. She continued while meeting his eyes with an unwavering gaze.

“You are the King of Valvas just as much as you are a Knight of Pendragon. Your allegiance belongs to both the Pendragon Duchy and all of the people of Valvas.”

“…..!”

Isla felt an electrifying sensation as if he had been struck in the head with a hammer.

“I am not telling you to marry for political reasons. If that were the case, I would have found the most influential figures in the South and screened who would be the most helpful for Valvas before personally sending them a letter.”

Elena continued while pushing forth the silver tray brought by the first maid.

“After reading all of the letters, I used my personal connections to find out various things and listened to many stories. I chose them as suitable candidates. To respect your will, I have selected the best ones and left them at that. Please take a look and let me know if there is anyone that catches your eye.”

“…..”

Isla looked down at the letters without saying a word. When Elena first brought up the topic, he felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave his seat, but it was different now. She called him to talk because she wholly cared for him and wanted the best for him. Naturally, a favor was no longer a favor if the other party did not like it.

However, Elena Pendragon did not look down on him or take him lightly. Rather, he was able to once again recognize his position and responsibilities as a Knight of Pendragon as well as the King of Valvas.

Who in the world could say such words to himself?

Even his maternal uncle, Count Herreran, was struck with guilt and felt uneasy dealing with himself. In fact, Count Herreran had refused to meet him at all except for official meetings. He did not want others to think that he was trying to grasp power by using his nephew.

All in all, Elena was the only one who could do something like this.

In addition, she was asking him for a ‘favor’.

He was a Knight of Pendragon. He would have been forced to obey her will if she strongly pushed for his marriage, but she had shown consideration for Isla by selecting suitable candidates for him. Isla felt an indescribable sense of consideration from her words and actions.

“All right. I will obey the duchess’s words.”

Isla answered after a moment of thought. A bright smile appeared on Elena’s lips.

“Thank you, Lord Isla. Please don’t think of it as a bothersome request of an old woman, but I ask you to carefully consider for the sake of our duchy and Valvas.”

“Yes, my lady.”

Isla stood up from his seat and took the letters from the silver platter. Elena stood up with a satisfied expression.

“I think I have been keeping you for far too long.”

“Not at all. Then please excuse me.”

Isla bowed politely before turning away.

“Phew… We have crossed another large mountain with this.”

After seeing Isla off, Elena sat back down with a sigh of relief. But soon, she tilted her head and looked around in wonder. The maids were all glancing in the direction where Isla had left with eyes full of regret.

“What’s wrong with everyone? What’s the matter?”

“N, nothing, my lady!”

The women bowed their heads with surprise as if they were thieves caught stealing. But Elena smiled when she noticed what they were thinking.

“Well, who would have different standards for men? Even the high-nosed women of the imperial castle would not be able to keep their eyes off such a wonderful knight. Of course… he's not quite as good as our duke. Hohoho!”

No matter what anyone said, her son was always number one in her heart. She ended up laughing aloud.

*** 

“What? Is that true!?”

Killian sprang to his feet.

“Oh, I’m telling you. The duchess recommended the candidates herself, and Lord Isla will soon go to meet three ladies he selected. He plans on stopping by on his way to the imperial castle from Leus with the duke.”

The bald-headed Lutton mumbled while wiping the blades of his axe. He had been appointed as an official knight of the Pendragon Duchy.

“That’s great. Ah, Lord Isla should get married soon too. He’s old enough. Considering both his personality and status, he should have been married a long time ago. Of course!”

Pollack chimed in. After shaving his beard, he gave off a rather stiff impression.

“How could this be…”

Captain Killian collapsed with a vain look at the words of the two knights. They spent quite a bit of their time with Killian as vice-captains of the heavy cavalry. 

“What’s wrong, captain? You’re close to Sir Isla, right? You should be congratulating him.”

“I know. You’re already married too…”

The two knights tilted their heads with confusion. Then Killian turned his head with tears in his eyes in anger and resentment.

“One of three! Which means he could spend some quality time with the other two girls, right? And how many more beauties will he get to see on his way to the imperial castle? Me, I’ve only ever been with one woman from the… Keugh!”

“…..!”

Lutton and Pollack took on bizarre expressions. Heavens knew how much their leader flirted with practically all the girls in the empire. How could he be shouting as if he felt unjustified…?

“Let’s save our words…”

“Let’s go.”

The two knights shook their heads pathetically and stood up.

“Why? Oi! Why would you save your words? Hey, you bastards!”

“Oh, stop calling us bastard this, bastard that. We were also knighted…”

“That’s right. Do you still think we’re the same mercenaries who were beaten by you…?”

“What? Hey!”

Killian rolled up his sleeve and started walking after the two.

But then,

“Excuse me, Lord Killian.”

A clear, high voice similar to a bird’s song called out. He turned his head while softening his expression and completely abandoning his anger.

As expected, there stood a young and pretty maid who looked to be about seventeen or eighteen.

“Haha! Yes. What is it?”

“Well, your mistress wanted me to tell you to come home as soon as possible if you’ve finished your business today.”

“…..”

Killian’s expression transformed completely. There was only one person she could be talking about. His wife…

“She also said that she will be going to bed early, so, that, yes… Well, p, please excuse me.”

It was a rather embarrassing thing for a young maiden to say. After speaking, the young girl hurriedly turned back and walked away without waiting for an answer or looking back.

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