“Your Excellency Duke Pendragon. I think your words were a little harsh.”
Count Rockefeller spoke with a frown. It was quite clear from the first glance that he was a temperamental man.
But Jamie Roxan held him back with a smile.
“No, it is quite all right. With all due respect, I did have the slightest intention of sounding out the two of you.”
Count Rockefeller coughed with embarrassment and lowered his head.
“Then I will stop sugarcoating my words and get straight to the point, just as His Excellency Pendragon said.”
“As you wish.”
Despite Ian’s cold response, Jamie Roxan’s smile remained unchanged as he continued.
“As both of you are well aware, I believe that the two of you should take responsibility for the death of Duke Arangis. The master of a duchy, which was faithful to our empire for hundreds of years, is dead, but nothing has been revealed about who was responsible for his death, or how he even died.”
The other high lords showed their agreement by nodding their heads at Jamie Roxan’s words.
“Also, it is not known whether the late Duke Arangis attempted to rebel alone, or was collaborating with anyone else. There are only two people who actually saw him face-to-face and questioned him - Your Highness Ian and Your Excellency Pendragon.”
“Are you trying to say that you do not trust me and the Duke of Pendragon?”
“How could I even think that? I only want some clarifications regarding the issue. We do not know if Duke Arangis had close collaborators among the nobles of the imperial castle. And if he did, maybe they and Your Highness Ian…”
Ian banged the table and stood up from his spot, unable to stand the nonsense anymore.
“Watch your words, Jamie Roxan. Before I was a prince, I was the commander-in-chief of a fleet called to defeat the traitors. I was entrusted with full power and authority by His Majesty.”
The Spirit of the Emperor suddenly engulfed Ian’s body and spread out in all directions.
The music stopped.
The shocked musicians trembled while looking towards the head table.
The faces of Count Everdeen and Count Wullian turned pale. Although they were nobles, they were not knights. They could not remain impervious in the face of the Emperor’s Spirit. But Jamie Roxan was a highly skilled knight. He remained seated with a calm expression.
The nobles present in the hall gulped loudly and stared at the great nobles with tense eyes. It was an explosive situation.
The silence was broken by the sound of someone putting down their glass. The timing was spectacular.
“Those who never experienced war always run their mouths. They have no respect for those who came back alive from a war.”
Jamie Roxan’s eyebrows wriggled at Raven’s words. He was the heir to the high lord of the high lords, but that was his only flaw. He had won several duels and competitions, never losing a battle, but he had never experienced a real war.
It was because no one challenged the Great Territory of Roxan.
The Great Territory of Roxan was the only great territory of the empire that was never involved in a territorial dispute for the last hundred years. Population many times that of other great territories, vast, abundant, and arable land… Even if they called for independence at this moment, the imperial army would have trouble against their massive army and their geographical advantages…
No forces dared challenge Roxan.
Naturally, Jamie Roxan, the current high lord, had never experienced war.
“What… are you trying to say, Your Excellency Duke Pendragon?”
“Only what you were trying to say to the prince just now. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It is only right to respond to a speculation with one of my own.”
Jamie Roxan closed his mouth.
Raven finished the rest of his wine before continuing.
“What are you basing your words off of? Probably nothing. Do you know what people call that? Delusions. And when three people gather together to talk about their delusions, it becomes true at some point.”
“Do you want me to tell you an interesting story?”
Raven interrupted Jamie Roxan, then slightly raised his voice.
“In a pub located in a back alley somewhere, an adventurer said there was treasure buried in a cave located somewhere in the mountains. Then another stepped up and said he had also heard the story before.. Then another joins in, citing the approximate location of the treasure. Do you know what happened afterwards?”
Jamie Roxan looked at Raven with icy eyes filled with hostility. Raven continued with a cold smile.
“It becomes true. Everyone in the pub believes in their story. The bigger problem is that dozens of people who heard the story will go on and spread the delusion crafted by the three people. All it takes is one month. A month later, everyone will believe in the existence of a golden mountain that does not even exist.”
After finishing his words, Raven glared straight at Jamie Roxan.
“But now, you, sir, are trying to make a golden mountain.”
Silence filled the space.
Sometimes, words were scarier than knives, and Duke Pendragon had stabbed Jamie Roxan with words. Nevertheless, no one could say a word in response, including Jamie Roxan, the other high lords, and the nobles.
“Well, if you insist on sticking to your opinion, we can handle it like knights.”
Duke Pendragon’s blue eyes started emitting the Spirit of the Dragon. When the enormous energy joined with the Spirit of the Empire and an icy energy being emitted from Isla, who stood behind the two, no one dared to utter a response.
Of course, if an actual battle broke out, no one knew how it would turn out. They could overwhelm the three men with numbers.
However, the high lords had been playing knight while enjoying a leisurely life thus far. They sensed something unique about the three people in front of them, something that could only be achieved by crossing the boundary of life and death multiple times.
Therefore, the four high lords and their knights were overwhelmed and oppressed by the enormous presence and the spirits of the three. They were forced to shrink back for a moment. Most importantly, it had been the High Lord of Roxan who initiated the clash, just as Raven said.
“...I think it would be best for us to get up now.”
Raven stood up and broke the silence.
Isla also stepped back, his spirit disappearing like a lie.
After Raven and Ian shared a meaningful gaze, the two of them walked away. The 7th regiment knights in the hall followed in their footsteps.
While receiving everyone’s gaze in the silence, the group walked out proudly with their heads held up high.
A silver cup smashed against the wall before rolling on the floor. Wine splashed everywhere and soaked the fine wallpaper and precious rugs. But no one dared utter a word. Those gathered in the room remained silent while watching the flying object.
Jamie Roxan muttered in a quiet voice. His expression was furiously distorted. His eyes, which had always been calm and full of intelligence, glistened with anger and hostility.
The three high lords were stealing glances at Jamie Roxan. All of them knew that this was the true face of Jamie Roxan, the great lord of Roxan whom everyone praised.
“A mere washed up duke of a backwater territory dares? He is nothing but a cockroach who was lucky enough to spread his name by borrowing the power of the royal family. He dares to act so impudently to me, the high lord of Roxan!”
Jamie Roxan kicked the silver cup, then began stomping on it mercilessly.
He repeatedly trampled on the object as if it were a dirty bug. Suddenly, he stopped. He swept back his blonde hair and turned his head.
“Did you call me here just so you could see me like this?”
“Oh, no, it’s…”
High Lord Count Wullian of Miles shrank back at the fierce voice of Jamie Roxan, who was much younger than him.
‘Dammit! What the hell did I do wrong…?’
Wullian’s only sin was trusting Jamie Roxan. Today, he had simply provided Roxan with a shot at Prince Ian and Duke Pendragon in his own castle. If they occupied a strategic standpoint before the two headed to the imperial castle, they would have an easier time securing the independence of the great territories while strengthening their power.
Naturally, Count Wullian had some intentions of securing his spot as Roxan’s right-hand man and making the most out of it.
“We were ridiculed. Although most of them stand under the banner of Count Wullian and the rest of us, the nobles who were at the hall must be quite anxious.”
Count Rockefeller spoke in a bitter voice. All who attended today’s banquet witnessed the High Lord of Roxan being crushed by Duke Pendragon’s words. If High Lord Roxan were not able to secure any evidence or justification, they could be at a great disadvantage when they brought up the issue at the imperial castle. All of the nobles were aware of this fact.
“Hmph! The dead don’t talk. Since Duke Arangis already died in the governor-general’s residence in Leus, we still hold the cause. Either way, the prince and Duke Pendragon will be held accountable for the matter.”
Although they made a mistake after being suppressed by the opponents’ spirits, it would be different in the imperial castle. Repeating today’s actions in front of the emperor was akin to a challenge, or even a rebellion.
“And besides, today was not completely fruitless. I do not know about Duke Pendragon, but Prince Ian was agitated by my provocation. It means he is quite worried about this incident”
The high lords nodded at Jamie Roxan’s words.
“The target is Prince Ian after all. We can leave Pendragon be and let him do whatever he wants in the duchy.”
“You are right.”
Their expressions slightly loosened at Jamie Roxan’s words. It was just as he said. No matter how high the reputation of Duke Pendragon, the tide would be decided in the imperial castle after all.
It was then. Someone shouted in an urgent voice from outside the room.
“What is it?”
Count Wullian spoke rather irritably.
The door opened and a knight rushed in before kneeling on one knee.
“It has happened! The Great Territory of Alice has started moving!”
Count Wullian became startled and jumped out of his seat. The other lords followed suit.
“All of their troops are gathering! Troops from nearby territories are also joining them one after another.”
“What do you mean by that? Are you telling me that they have started a rebellion!?”
Count Wullian shouted with a pale expression.
“I am not too sure yet.”
“What do you…”
Wullian plopped down to his seat.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I, I am not sure.”
Two lords shared a look before their gazes naturally shifted to a specific place. Jamie Roxan sank into thought with narrowed eyes. He soon raised his head.
“Although they have not publicly declared their faction, the High Lord of Alice is hostile against Duke Pendragon. It is highly likely that they are aiming for the Pendragon Duchy.”
“You said that this has just happened, right? So the rumors have not spread yet, is that right?”
“Yes, yes. Only the lords are aware of this for now…”
The knight responded. Jamie Roxan turned to the other high lords and spoke.
“Then it will take another ten days for the news to reach the imperial castle. We still have time.”
“Time? Time for what?”
Count Rockefeller expressed his confusion. Jamie Roxan’s eyes glistened coldly.
“Time for us to rally our forces.”
“Leave aside your vassal families. Please arrange for the main force of your territories to be able to set off at a moment’s notice. If the troops of the Great Territory of Alice are headed towards the Pendragon Duchy, as I predict… This could be the best opportunity for us…”
He spoke while glaring at the three high lords.
Raven had unknowingly assembled the troops of four great territories of the empire. This was the beginning of an unprecedented event - something incomparably larger compared to the treasonous actions of the Arangis Duchy.