Chapter 322

 “Well, anyway, why don’t we finish what we were talking about before? Serin Reiner, was it…? The duchess is well acquainted with the mistress of the Reiner family?”

Irene nodded in response to Ian’s question.

“Yes. I heard my mother shared a very deep friendship with Mistress Reiner in the imperial castle.”

“Hooh? Is that so?”

It certainly made sense. Before marrying into the Pendragon Duchy, Elena was close with his own mother as well. As such, there must have been a connecting point between Elena Pendragon and Lady Reiner, a cousin of the empress.

“But as far as I know, Lord Reiner is quite old…”

Ian remembered that Grida Reiner, a middle official of the imperial court, was already well over fifty. Although there were exceptions, nobles tended to marry those who were close in age. Except in special cases, the age difference between the two people tended to be less than ten years apart.

This meant that the mistress of Grida Reiner was at least in her mid 40s.

“Yes. Mistress Reiner is of a similar age.”

“Well, is that so? Then the age of the lady named Serin Reiner is…”

It was considered disrespectful to ask the age of a woman, and even more so in the case of maidens. As such, Ian blurred the end of his sentence. Although he possessed a very straight, rough personality, he could not act without thought in front of Irene.

“I heard that she is twenty-six.”

“Huh? At that age, she…?”

Ian was quite surprised.

In most cases, ladies from noble families became engaged before they turned eighteen, and were married off around eighteen. It was customary to marry before they turned twenty-one or twenty-two at the latest.

If they did not marry until past their early twenties, it could usually be attributed to very special or rare reasons. A possible explanation was that they were hideous, their personality was rotten to the core, or that they were seriously ill.

But none of the reasons would be applicable this time around. The Reiner family was related to the empress. Countless people would have wanted to make blood ties with the family, regardless of whether the daughter was hideous, rotten, or seriously ill.

“How strange. What is the reason? She certainly would not be a priestess, so.”

“It is similar.”

“Hmm, yes… What?”

Ian became wide-eyed at Isla’s answer. Irene stepped up.

“Lady Serin Reiner lives in a monastery dedicated to Goddess Illeyna.”

“Is she a priestess? Then she would not be allowed to get married, right?”

The temples and monasteries of Illeyna, the Goddess of Light, numbered the most in the empire. The number of believers was also overwhelmingly superior to other gods, and the priests and priestesses of Goddess Illeyna did not marry. In addition, it was very honorable and difficult to become a high priest in the temple of Illeyna, so many noble men and women chose to walk down the path of priesthood. 

As such, Ian assumed Serin Reiner also strode on that path.

“That is not true, Your Highness. Lady Serin Reiner is not a formal sister. She has been staying at a monastery for more than 10 years to simply volunteer.”

“Huh…!”

Ian let out a exclamation. Although not very well-known, the Reiner family was related to his mother, the Empress. If one was born in such a family, it would be human nature to seek a high position even if they turned to religion.

But she had been volunteering for over 10 years without compensation or position? Even Ian could not hide his astonishment at the rare situation.

“That’s why I had a hard time thinking of who she was… Besides, I guess it’s a bit ambiguous to call them royalty.”

Ian spoke with a little disappointment. Even though they were a cousin to the empress, they weren’t technically royals. In addition, Serin Reiner was a little, or rather, quite lacking compared to Isla.

Although the daughter of the Reiner family was nominally equivalent to a ‘princess’, Isla was a king. He wasn’t just any king either, but the second Knight King of Valvas, which was currently considered one of the strongest forces in the South.

However, his bridal candidate was rather old, and she was only the daughter of the imperial court’s middle official. Middle officials ranked below the high officials, and considering the difference in the two people’s status, Serin Reiner seemed to be lacking as Isla’s bride.

‘But it is not incomprehensible if Duchess Elena shared a deep friendship with the family’s mistress.’

Ian nodded with such thoughts.

Marriages between nobles were deeply related to blood relations and relationships. Elena had shared a deep friendship with the mistress of the Reiner family during her time in the imperial castle. It would have been difficult for her to refuse the request of her friend, and she would have had no choice but to choose Serin Reiner as one of the final candidates.

If Isla rejected her, that would be the end of it.

But Ian’s guess was completely off the mark.

“Your Highness, you do not know my mother or Lord Isla very well yet, do you?”

“Hmm? What do you mean?”

Irene’s intuitive words caught him off guard, but Ian asked back as if nothing had happened.

“My mother did not recommend Lady Serin Reiner just because she is friends with the mistress of the Reiner family.”

“…..”

Ian became silent when she spoke with a clam voice. 

Irene was usually a dazzling and cute woman, but sometimes she was surprisingly similar to her brother, Duke Pendragon.

“I told you early, didn’t I? Sir Grida Reiner and Mistress Reiner are similar in age. So if Miss Serin Reiner is 26, when did the two of them get married and give birth to her?”

“Hmm…”

Ian’s expression underwent a change at her words.

It was just as she said. The Reiners were over fifty. They would soon be considered seniors. The fact that their eldest daughter, Serin Reiner, was only 26, meant that they also married very late. It could have been within the realm of understanding for Grida Reiner, since he was a man, but it was quite strange for his wife. It meant that Mistress Reiner could have married even later than Serin.

“That is certainly… quite strange.”

Ian muttered in a soft voice while tilting his head. Irene continued in a calmer voice.

“The two of them married late because Mistress Reiner also served in the monastery of Goddess Illeyna for ten years. Sir Reiner waited for her during all those years.”

“Ah…!”

Ian let out a burst of admiration after finally understanding the situation.

“My mother was introduced to Mistress Reiner by Her Majesty the Empress, and she was deeply impressed. Moreover, my mother saw Lady Serin Reiner a few times when she was a child. She remembers Lady Serin as a calm and quiet girl, someone who acted very mature despite her young age.”

“I see...”

He responded with embarrassment. Irene continued.

“How proud do you think my mother would have been of Lady Serin after discovering that she was also volunteering at the monastery for more than ten years of her own will? That is why my mother recommended her. Moreover, my mother did not mention a single word about the relationship she has with Mistress Reiner. It was Sir Isla’s choice to choose her as one of the final candidates.”

“Ah, was that so?”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

Isla bowed his head.

“That is a little surprising. Could you tell me the reason behind your choice?”

He was quite curious. But more importantly, Ian wanted to shift the topic of the conversation from himself to Isla as soon as possible, as he did not want Irene to look badly on him.

Isla took a sip of tea before speaking.

“It is because her path is similar to the chivalry of Valvas, Your Highness.”

“Huh?”

Ian was surprised many times today. The Reiner family was far from a family of knights. Serin Reiner was the daughter of a court official, and she had spent a long time at a monastery of Goddess Illeyna. How could she be walking on a similar path as the Valvas Cavaliers, who were considered knights among knights?

Isla continued in a grave tone.

“Valvas Cavaliers take care of the weak and do not outlive their monarchs. In fact, it is considered our greatest honor to die in the arms of our lord.”

It was common knowledge. Naturally, protecting and caring for the weak was considered a vow of knighthood and not exclusive to the Valvas Cavaliers. However, the important thing was to take responsibility for their vows. In addition, it was well-known that Valvas Cavaliers would always die before their lords, if they were serving someone who was not a Valvas Cavalier. Even if their lord died suddenly without their knowledge, the Valvas Cavalier would take their own life before the next sun after discovering the lord’s death.

It wasn’t clear whether all cavaliers actually followed this code, but a considerable number of cases proved it to be true to some extent. Even Ian knew of at least ten people who stayed true to the code.

“But why is that… Aaah!”

Ian clapped his hands in realization.

Serin Reined served at the monastery for almost ten years. The target of her service were the weak who had nowhere else to go. Just as the Valvas Cavaliers cared for the weak, she tended to them without looking for compensation. 

She was a mortal. She would definitely perish before a god.

In the end, in a larger sense, the path that Serin Reiner chose and the Chivalry of the Valvas Cavaliers were quite similar.

“I see! That is why you chose her as the final candidate!”

“…..”

Isla nodded in confirmation without saying a word. When he first saw the letter of introduction from Elena, he did not expect much. He was only trying to pick three ladies who seemed decent. In fact, that was how he chose the first two.

But Serin Reiner was a little different.

Ten years. Ten long years.

She wasn’t even formally associated with the monastery. Isla knew very well how difficult it would be for a young lady to spend her prime days helping strangers while not expecting anything in return. Furthermore, a knight could hope for success after dedicating his services to the lord for ten years, but she had nothing to look forward to. In a way, it was even more amazing.

That was why Isla found Serin Renier’s introduction to be the most impressive of the bunch. Obviously, that wasn’t the only reason. There was another very important reason.

But Isla did not bring it up.

His lord would laugh, saying that he would have expected as much, but Duchess Elena Pendragon and Serin Reiner could get upset if they found out the reason.

“Oh, come to think of it, the monastery where Lady Serin Reiner is serving at is quite close to here.”

“Kuagh!”

Isla coughed and spewed out the tea he was sipping on.

“Huh? What is the matter, Sir Isla?”

“No, it is nothing.”

Isla shook his head in a hurry.

“Hmm?”

Irene and Ian expressed their curiosity. Someone called out from the distance.

“My knight hates wasting time the most, exactly like myself.”

“My lord…”

Isla was taken aback by the words of his lord. Raven had seen through Isla at once. 

“Brother!”

“You’re here.”

The other two greeted him warmly. Raven was being escorted by several knights. Soldrake was nowhere to be seen. Instead of heading to a spot hurriedly prepared by the maids, Raven walked to Isla’s side and spoke in a subtle voice.

“Others may be ignorant, but I know everything, Elkin…”

“W, well, that’s…”

Isla’s gaze had been unshakeable even when he fought life-and-death battles with the cavaliers of the famous clans in Valvas. But now, they were trembling like a reed faced with strong winds.

Raven patted him on the shoulder with a mysterious smile.

“Do not worry. Would I sell my knight to the duchess? And, of course, the lady who might soon be queen.”

“…..”

Isla’s eyes regained stability as he felt slightly relieved at Raven’s words.

But,

“But come to think of it, I’m starting to remember what you said to me a while ago. Something about having an iron will…”

Flinch!

The Knight King’s shoulders heaved visibly. Although it was inappropriate(?), Isla could not help but see his lord’s smile as being wicked.

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