Chapter 328

“Finally.”

Ian grinned as Raven neared. He had been striking a wooden doll modeled after a human figure with a wooden sword.

“Here you are, my lord.”

Isla greeted Raven with a bow. He had been busy training topless with a long, wooden spear. 

“You are both early.”

Raven responded simply, placed his two swords next to a simple weapon rack, then picked up a wooden sword.

“Elkin, could you spar with me?”

“Yes, my lord.”

Isla stood in front of Raven.

“Hooh.”

They took their place in front of each other, and Ian watched them with interest in his eyes. The two men frequently sparred with each other since they were in Conrad Castle. After giving a curt bow, the two got into their stances.

“Let us start light. Thirty exchanges for head, chest, and legs.”

“All right.”

The two took their own unique stances, then slowly began a battle aiming at each other’s head, chest, and legs.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Raven started by attacking three times with his wooden sword. Isla blocked the attacks with his spear, then returned three attacks of his own, which Raven blocked.

‘This is interesting. But doesn’t it seem a little slow?

With a wooden sword hanging over his shoulder, Ian observed the two closely. Ian often saw the Royal Knights training with each other in the imperial castle. In comparison, the actions of the two were quite strange.

What kind of training was so slow?

But his thoughts quickly disappeared.

The two men started to pick up pace little by little. After exchanging around ten blows, they were battling at a pace that was reminiscent of an actual battle. 

‘Huh! How amazing. From the very beginning until now, their attacking and defending positions are almost unchanged. Besides, to think that both of them are able to keep the same pace while speeding up like this…’

Ian nodded while stroking his chin.

Meanwhile, the two men neared thirty exchanges, and Raven shouted while swinging his sword.

“Thirty-six exchanges with eight sections!”

“Yes!”

Along with his answer, Isla began to move right in a circular motion while swinging his sword. Rather than attacking from the same side as before, he began to attack from both directions, aiming at the head, chest, thighs, and legs.

Tadadadadadadak!

The barrage of attacks poured down toward Raven like a raging torrent, but he stood still in place, blocking all of the attacks with minimal movements. Isla circled around his opponent, then eventually returned to his original position. Afterwards, Raven began to move around Isla while fiercely swinging his wooden sword.

It was truly a spectacular sight to see the two continuing their battle with fierce movements while scattering the early morning fog. It was reminiscent of an actual battle for life and death.

Ian clenched his fist unconsciously at the sight. Watching the bout instilled in him a desire to wield his sword alongside the two people.

Tahk!

The battle ended with a clear, resonating sound.

“Haaaa…”

The two took a long breath before withdrawing their weapons.

“Great work, my lord.”

“Same to you, sir.”

The two saluted to each other before returning their wooden weapons to the weapons rack. They picked up their own weapons, then began their personal training by swinging their weapons in the air without reserve.

“Huh! What crazy bastards…”

Ian laughed while shaking his head. He did not care much for the wooden weapons, but to think they were brandishing their real weapons in front of a prince who could soon be emperor…

If the Royal Knights of the imperial castle had seen it, they would have collapsed with shock on the spot.

Despite finding the situation absurd, Ian felt rather good. The two of them did not consider him a subject of loyalty, but rather a colleague or a comrade who was walking down the same path. He liked that he could consider the two of them comrades, rather than superiors or inferiors.

“If I keep hanging out with them…”

Ian was unashamed of his skills as a knight. But it was not enough compared to the two who could be considered two of the ten strongest men in the empire. Of course, the emperor did not need to excel at swordsmanship. Nevertheless, Ian swung a wooden sword with all his might. The desire to improve as a knight struck him after seeing the dragon and tiger showing off their might.

Daeng! Daeng!

The monastic bells signaled the beginning of the day. The future emperor, the Knight King, and the empire’s duke devoted themselves to their training. 

When it came time for breakfast, the people of the monastery, Raven, Ian, and the rest of the group gathered at the hall to eat. Although there were quite a few people, the monastery’s mess hall was quite spacious. Everyone was able to eat together.

Raven sat at a table with Ian, Isla, and Leo. Sophia, the only woman in the group, was in the kitchen from earlier in the day to help prepare meals. Only a year ago, Sophia had been an arrogant, haughty daughter of a high lord. But after living in Conrad Castle for a year, she was completely transformed.

“W, we did not have much to offer. Our apologies.”

The people of the monastery bowed with anxious expressions. It made sense. Until now, they had never really interacted with any high-ranking nobles. At best, they saw local lords or low-ranking nobles from a distance.

They would feel suffocated to be in the presence of a high lord, never mind a royal prince and others of similar status. They could not breathe easily or calm down no matter how hard they tried. In addition, although they urgently prepared food to the best of their abilities, the food served at a poor monastery was much too simple compared to food eaten by even ordinary nobles.

However, Raven and Ian did not mind it.

“This is a feast.”

“Boiled eggs, chicken… Even a roasted pig. I think they might have overdone it because of us.”

Raven spoke apologetically after seeing a stew with chicken and various vegetables and grilled pork. As a child, he had stayed at various monasteries on his way to meet his father. He knew very well how frugal they were.

Chickens, in particular, were valuable livestock that produced eggs every day. They were rarely butchered.

“N, not at all. I just hope that it is to the liking of your exalted presences…”

Even though they butchered chickens and pigs they had been raising for years, the people of the monastery continued lowering their heads while replying.

“Principal nun, we have caused you a great deal of trouble. I will leave a generous amount of donation before we leave.”

The nun nodded with a smile at Raven’s words.

“Thank you for your kind words, Your Excellency. It will be of great help to the monastery’s finances.”

It was common for nobles to donate to temples and monasteries, so the principal nun did not refuse. Then she turned her head slightly and continued to talk while looking at the people carrying food to the young, old, and the sickly.

“Actually, I wanted to serve an entire pig, since there are a lot of knights, but Sister Serin wanted to serve Sir Isla her chicken dish.”

“Hooh?”

Raven and Ian turned towards Serin, who was busy carrying food, before meeting each other’s gaze and trying the stew.

“This is nice.”

“It tastes great.”

“I agree.”

Leo belatedly tasted the stew before nodding in admiration. The principal nun spoke proudly.

“The chicken was raised by Sister Serin, and the chicken stew is her special dish. Anyhow, I hope it is to the liking of the person that Sister Serin wanted to try the dish…”

Everyone’s eyes shifted to Isla.

Receiving their anticipating gaze, Isla slowly put a spoon of hot stew into his mouth. After a short moment, he spoke with an expressionless face.

“It is great.”

“Oh…!”

Ian raised his thumb.

Isla believed that for knights, food was merely a source of nutrients that enabled them to fight on the battlefield. If he was complimenting it, then it was truly delicious.

“Miss Reiner, come over here. Let us have a meal together.”

“How could I…”

Serin hurriedly lowered her head. She had been about to sit down at another table.

“What is wrong with that? We will be family soon anyways.”

With even Raven chiming in, Serin mumbled before stealing a glance. After noticing that she was glancing at Isla, Ian let out a heavy sigh.

“Haa…! The permission of a future husband is more important than the words of a prince. I see. I see.”

“Oh, no, Your Highness! I never meant to…”

Her helpless appearance brought a smile to Raven and Ian’s lips. In particular, Raven felt a strange sense of satisfaction as he turned his gaze towards Isla. He had suffered(?) something similar in the past.

But the passion of a southern Valvas Cavalier was on a different level.

“Please come this way, Miss Reiner. I would like to have my last meal here by your side. Naturally, we will be able to have our meals together every day in the near future, but right now, this moment is more important to me than the distant future.”

“…..”

Raven and Isla were speechless. Isla said such words with ease when they could never utter anything similar even if they were dead. They had no idea how he could say something like that without a single disturbance in his facial expression. It was both slightly annoying and discouraging.

But what was more ridiculous were the reactions of the women in the monastery, including Serin Reiner. All of them took on hazy expressions at the words of Isla.

‘Unbelievable…’

They shared a thought while looking at Isla. They understood the thoughts of the women from the looks on their eyes.

“Please sit over here.”

“Thank you.”

Isla stood up and pulled out a chair. Serin carefully sat at the table with her face dyed red.

“You are an excellent cook. I can also see that you paid a lot of attention to nutrition as well.”

“You will have a long way to travel… I was presumptuous. This stew is actually a dish that my mother used to make for my father who worked late every night.”

“No wonder. The love and care Mistress Reiner had for your father was conveyed in your cooking as well. I will personally thank Mistress Reiner when I get a chance to meet her.”

“…..”

The two were having the time of their lives regardless of whether Raven and Ian were present or not. Raven shook his head, and Ian pouted.

“How could I live with this sorrow? If I knew this was going to happen, I would have brought along Lady Irene.”

But the opponent was not so easy.

“With all due respect, I understand that Your Highness and Lady Pendragon have not made any promises yet. On the other hand, Miss Reiner and I have already confirmed each other’s feelings.”

“S, Sir Isla.”

Serin’s face bloomed in red like a rose.

“…..”

Ian’s mouth was agape after being struck by an unexpected blow.

“But as far as I know, Your Highness occupies a great space in Lady Pendragon’s heart. Since both of you share the same feelings, it could already be considered a great blessing for Your Highness, and for the empire. Just as it is for me and Valvas.”

“Is that so?”

Ian’s expression loosened immediately.

In addition, Serin’s eyes glistened even in her embarrassment. It was evident that she had already fallen for the man who promised her future only yesterday.

Raven felt admiration for Isla. He was using sticks and carrots to handle a prince while naturally praising his woman. On the other hand, he realized how foolish he was in trying to tease Isla.

When it came to matters dealing with women, Isla was an unparalleled master.

‘Anyhow, they look great together.’

A smile crept up on Raven’s lips when he saw the pair. Isla was eating with a straight posture, while Serin took care of him from time to time.

Then he suddenly spoke after thinking of something.

“Elkin, Miss Reiner.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Yes, Your Excellency.”

“I forgot yesterday because there were so many things going on, but…”

Raven took out an object while saying so. It was a small wooden box coated in gold.

“I prepared this for when my knight would find a spouse.”

Serin accepted the object politely before opening it with care.

“Ah…!”

Her eyes widened.

Inside the wooden case was a pair of platinum rings which was engraved with a dragon and a griffon.

“Congratulations, Elkin. Miss Reiner, please take good care of my knight.”

“My lord.”

“Your Excellency…”

The two were deeply moved by his gift. Raven smiled joyfully.

As such, he laid the final brick on a bridge connecting the pair.

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