The orc druid Kratul stepped forward.
Kratul waved his staff in the air, red sweat coming out of his pores, and a brown light spread out into the air. The light itself drew some to be in awe, but what came next grabbed everyone’s attention…
“Look at that!”
A flock of birds and all sorts of animals, both large and small, approached the courtyard under the last light of the setting sun. Seemingly unafraid of the humans and orcs, the animals freely roamed around the courtyard and affectionately walked up towards those present.
Everyone was amused. Among them, Mia Pendragon seemed to be the happiest. A rabbit that had a similar appearance to her favourite doll walked up to Mia and tilted its head, and Mia’s face broke into a wide smile.
Then, Kratul, who felt sluggish after his tiresome spell, stumbled towards Mia.
Kratul had a unique appearance, even among the orc race. Several people flinched and backed away at the sight of the orc druid. After finally reaching her, Kratul flopped down in front of Mia Pendragon.
Surprisingly, Mia Pendragon didn’t react at the sight of Kratul’s terrifying face and large stature. Instead, she stared up at him like a curious rabbit. Rather, Kratul was the one who flinched after meeting Mia Pendragon's locked gaze as he panted with sweat dripping down his face.
“Pendragon human! You look like the Pendragon human, but also very soft like a rabbit. Who is this little scarecrow?”
Raven gave a slight smile at Kratul’s orcish description of Mia.
“It’s my… youngest sister.”
“Kuhehe! So she is a little Pendragon? Little Pendragon, are you not afraid of me?”
Kratul purposefully smiled to reveal his sharp canines as he asked. It was indubitably like a scene where the dangerous beast was threatening a young girl.
Amazingly, the girl shook her head left and right, constantly maintaining her gaze with the orc.
“Kuek? Really? That’s weird! Both adult and kid Pendragon are all weird. They are weirder than Kratul and weirder than Karuta.”
“It’s not weird… It’s because…”
Raven tried to defend Mia, but instead, shut his mouth. Come to think of it, it was certainly strange for a young girl like Mia to like ‘monster stories.’ It explained why she wasn’t afraid of Kratul, who had a horrifying appearance.
“Kuhehehet! Little miss Pendragon is funny. Good! Kratul will show you something nice. Hey! You ugly goblin, come over here!”
Kratul seemed to have taken a liking to Mia, and he called over Kazzal, who was devouring food atop of a tree since the beginning of the banquet.
“Kiek! Handsome Kazzal is not ugly! Much more handsome than stupid orc druid!”
“Stop talking pig crap and crawl down.”
Kazzal slowly crawled down from the tree at Kratul’s fierce gaze.
“Stand next to the rabbit.”
Mia Pendragon looked on with interest as the small goblin approached with caution in his eyes. Contrasting to the goblin, Mia’s eyes shone with curiosity.
“Hehe! Little Miss Pendragon, the show is about to start.”
Kratul lowered and pointed his staff towards the rabbit. Raven and Elena also noticed the commotion, observing the scene with curious eyes as well. Then all of a sudden, the rabbit opened its eyes wide, then headbutted Kazzal’s buttocks.
Kazzal jumped up and rapidly turned his head with a startled expression. He bared his small, sharp fangs at the rabbit.
“Crazy rabbit! I’m going to roast you! I’m going to eat you alive!”
Normally, the rabbit would have run away at the sight of Kazzal’s threatening stance. But this time, the rabbit had already assimilated with Kratul’s will, and once again slammed its head into Kazzal’s buttocks.
Kratul burst out into laughter. Raven and Elena also turned their heads to hide the smile that crept onto their faces. They also wanted to see how Mia would react.
The two people’s eyes grew bigger. Mia’s face, which rarely displayed emotions, had a bright, cheery smile on it.
“Kieeeek! Handsome Kazzal can’t take it anymore! I’m gonna eat this crazy rabbit alive!”
Kazzal shouted ferociously, trying to live up to his standards as a monster. But his small act of defiance was immediately quenched by Raven’s short words.
“Handsome Kazzal has a strong butt!”
As soon as the short conversation concluded, the rabbit’s attacks continued, and Kazzal ran back and forth trying to escape the beast’s attacks with a tearful face. Mia’s smile grew even bigger watching the fierce battle, and she soon began to run after the two creatures.
“Kieeek! Kiek! Handsome Kazzal really can’t do this anym…”
“Patience is a strong suit of the goblins!”
The unlikely, but harmonious combination of a ferocious orc druid, fierce goblin, and a cute, little girl astonished the participants of the banquet.
Raven left behind the heat of the banquet and returned to the palace. The guards and his maids followed behind as the master of the castle left the banquet. He thought about dismissing them out of a desire to be left alone but soon disregarded the thoughts.
They were faithfully serving the Pendragon family and Conrad Castle, and he was no longer Raven Valt, but Alan Pendragon. As long as he was Alan Pendragon, it was only right to respect his circumstances, which meant letting the guards and the maids do their jobs.
Nevertheless, Raven briefly walked towards the end of the palace, then turned his head towards the followers.
“Wait here for a bit. I would like to sit alone for a minute.”
“Yes, your grace.”
The guards and the maids split up into two groups and stood to the sides of the walls. Raven walked to the end of the palace. The dragon throne placed at the end of the stairs was dyed red with the dying colors of a setting sun. The dragon statue, which held a knife in its mouth, decorated the back of the chair. It was so lifelike and seemed like it could start moving any second.
Someone stood next to the throne, which only the monarchs of the Pendragon family could sit on. Raven didn’t pay heed to the figure and climbed up eight steps before plopping down on the dragon throne. Then he turned his head to the person who was staring at him and smiled.
“Why haven’t you gone back yet? The mausoleum has already been reopened.”
“I will go when it is my time, I wanted to see the successor of the Pendragon family one last time before leaving.”
Attia was still wearing the same dress that she had been wearing when Raven first opened his eyes as Alan Pendragon. But there was a slight difference in her appearance compared to before. Attia was still translucent, but now there was a faint glow of color on her cheeks, and brilliant light shone from her necklace and the jewels of her earrings.
“I didn’t know Lady Attia was this beautiful.”
The antique, yet elegant and dignified appearance of Attia Pendragon caused Raven to make a joke, which was unlike his usual self. Attia was a special existence to Raven.
“You sly dog. You just took in a pretty concubine, but you’re already flirting with other women?”
“No, that was very circumstantial…”
He knew that she was joking, but Raven still felt obliged to explain himself. He scratched his cheeks in embarrassment.
“I know. But regardless of circumstance, you took her in. Wife or concubine, she is still a lady of the Pendragon from now on. Remember that a lady of the Pendragon should be treated with respect anytime, anywhere. Don’t forget that how people look at her will also reflect on you as well.”
“I will try my best.”
It was as Attia said.
Although it started as a misunderstanding and proceeded out of concern and sympathy, it could not continue with the same intentions. Attia was reminding him that Lindsay was already a part of the family, regardless of whether he liked it or not, and that she would share in the destiny of the family as well.
Raven was pleased that Attia showed care for him and gave him advice.
“By the way, have you met Gordon at the mausoleum?”
Raven’s expression darkened slightly.
“Yes. But I didn’t get a chance to hold a conversation with him, he had already lost sense of himself, and only acted as an intermediary for Soldrake’s words.”
“That figures… Gordon closed his eyes without having a successor open the mausoleum… I’m just glad he didn’t become a lich or anything of the kind.”
“Yes, Duke Gordon’s soul was intact, but there still was a lich present. It used wraiths as its summonings to attack me. It could have ended far worse than it did.”
“They didn’t know you could see spirits, did they? Since you already died once…”
That’s right. The reason Raven was able to see the wraiths and deal with them was that he had already died once before resurrecting. The reasoning held the same for why he could see the ghost of Attia Pendragon as well.
Of course, the lich had been unaware of the fact and was ultimately defeated by Raven, forced to retreat to where its soul was kept.
“Someone purposefully placed the lich on the path to the mausoleum. Soldrake couldn’t do anything about it because she had to protect the souls of the Pendragon family. It seemed like the lich gained power when Soldrake left her place to come to Conrad Castle last time.”
“I see. Did Soldrake mention anything else?
“Nothing else, except that time would show me the answer. But I heard the other dragons’ conversation.”
“Are you saying that other dragons came?”
Attia looked surprised, which was rare for her who always remained calm and collected.
“Yes, six other dragons. Soldrake called the black dragon [Amuhalt], and the green dragon [Ellagrian]. I am unsure as to the other dragons.”
“Amuhalt? That’s the first time I’ve heard of that name. Ellagrian is the master of Mount Niels.”
Ellagrian was a name that was familiar to Raven as well. A dragon had claimed itself to be the guardian of the Niels Mountain where the Niels Elves resided. This helped in the elves staying autonomous from the empire and keeping themselves free from the empire’s meddling.
“The black dragon, Amuhalt, mentioned something about a Dragon God and a Demon God before leaving. I asked Soldrake about it, but she didn’t give me a clear answer. Do you have any insights?”
“Dragon God and Demon God… I don’t have any ideas either.”
Raven lowered his head in somber silence. It was also the first time that Raven heard of Demon God and Dragon God. He knew of the goddess of light, the god of darkness, and other gods such as the god of war and the god of earth, but he had never heard about a Dragon God and a Demon God.
“Dragon God and Demon God… Hmm, it might be possible that the existence of those gods has something to do with those who drove your family into the ground and disrespected the Pendragon family.”
“I think the same way.”
Baltai had said so.
That the fall of the Pendragon family and the Valt family were all a part of someone’s intricate plans. That meant that the lich he ran into on his expedition was also likely to be involved in the scheme.
Everything was connected.
“Anyways, as Soldrake said, things will start to make sense in time. I think it’s better to not pry too deep into the matter for the time being. Everything has its order, and we should be focusing on other things right now.”
Raven slowly rose from his throne, speaking in a solemn voice. The golden hair glowed in the sunset, and his blue eyes were filled with passion.
Attia looked at Raven with satisfied eyes.
“Good. That’s exactly what I want to see. So, what are you planning on doing next?”
“It’s imperative to have all the villages and the mines under our family’s control. I’m sure some people have ulterior motives.”
“I’m sure there are, living all these years without a master. Are you planning on personally looking after the matter?”
“It is my job to get them under control, but of course I can’t do everything by myself. As you know, I’ve spent most of my life on the battlefield. Wouldn’t you agree that people should wear their shoes and work in their fields?”
“Hmm? So that means…”
“People will flood to our territory once the rumors start spreading. All sorts of people will come from all over the empire. I will need to sift through them to differentiate the good ones from the bad ones.”
Raven had already experienced the future.
That meant he knew of the hidden gems, who would spread their fame in their respective fields in the future. This would serve as a huge advantage for him.
“Good, very good. That is a good plan. You have the qualities of a monarch.”
Attia clasped Raven’s hands in joy.
He couldn’t feel the touch of a ghost, but he still felt warm in his heart, as her emotions were conveyed to him.
“You’re being too generous. I am just glad that you are content, my lady.”
Attia shook her head with tear-soaked eyes.
“No, no. Keep going forward. As a human of the Pendragon family, I must return to my grave. But I will come back whenever you need me to. Raven Valt, no, my great-nephew, Alan Pendragon…”
Her sincerity and desperation were conveyed in her words. But somehow her wet eyes and soft smile seemed to be blurring. Raven had a hunch that it was time.
“Please do so. I will achieve our will.”
Attia’s figure slowly disappeared into the setting sunset. Raven reached out his hand with regret and spoke words that came from Raven Valt, and Alan Pendragon’s hearts.
“Great aunt Attia…”
Attia’s mouth drew a deep, warm smile at Raven’s words.
“Keep moving forward, soon to be Duke of Pendragon. My great-nephew…”
Leaving behind her last smile, Attia Pendragon completely disappeared. Particles of light sifted through Raven’s outstretched hand and soon permeated into the sunset. Raven silently gazed into the empty space for a while, before turning around.
He looked at the dragon throne with hardened eyes, then turned his body to climb down the stairs. He spoke to the soldiers who were waiting for him.
“I will meet the representatives of each village tomorrow. Bring them to me as soon as they arrive, one by one. Also, send a message to the centaur chief of the Ancona Forest that Alan Pendragon will visit soon.”
“We obey your words!”
This was the beginning of a new journey.Previous Chapter Next Chapter