Chapter 340


Stories regarding Count Louvre of Alice had long spread to the central empire. Apparently, he was gathering troops and even summoning knights serving his vassal lords. People were worried that he was trying to start a territorial dispute, but all of Alice’s neighboring lands were already under his influence.

Of course, the incident last year regarding his successor, Morgan Louvre, made him a bit estranged from the other lords, but there was no justification or possibility for a territorial war to take place.

“I am sure he must be up to something…”

Raven muttered, and Ian responded.

“Since you and I are heading to the imperial castle, perhaps he wants to show a demonstration of force? For now, though, they say he has been holed up in Fort Carlson.”

“That would be fine, but…”

Raven and Ian were currently quite a distance from the Great Territory of Alice on their way to the imperial castle. Fort Carlson, where Count Louvre had gathered his troops, was even further away. It was impossible for him to lead his troops toward Raven and Ian.

Most importantly, there was no chance that Count Louvre would attack their group when Ian, a royal prince, was accompanying them. As soon as he attacked a prince, he would become a traitor and the imperial army would step up. It was obvious that even his vassal lords would not comply with such a futile command.

No one would be foolish enough to throw away their well-maintained lives and choose to remain on a sinking ship.

“I am certain that he is planning something else…”

“Well, I think so as well. But it’s not like we can send the imperial army or anything…”

Ian stroked his chin while clicking his tongue.

It was impossible to take issue with the mobilization of a great territory’s troops within their own territory. They could not be accused of anything just because they had transferred their troops to a fortress. Moreover, even if they mobilized the troops out of their own territory and engaged in a battle with another great territory, the involved parties could plead and take responsibility in front of the emperor afterwards.

As long as a territorial war did not grow in size and civilian casualties remained low, the imperial army could, and should not become involved in it.

“I think it would be best to send some agents to observe their actions for now. Why don’t we contact the imperial army situated near Alice?”

“I think that would be for the best. When we arrive at the next post, I will contact the 5th regiment commander and keep him on standby.”

Ian nodded. He felt the same way. The fifth regiment of the imperial army was located somewhere between the Great Territory of Alice and the imperial castle. They consisted of infantrymen and cavalrymen, which meant that they could quickly move to an area in the event of an emergency.

If the army gathered by the High Lord of Alice departed for the imperial castle, the 5th regiment would be able to respond and block their way within five days.

“Hmm…”

Prince Ian narrowed his eyes. He felt somewhat uneasy even though he took all possible measures. Then he turned towards Raven once more, as if remembering something important.

“What happened to Soldrake?”

“She must still be getting ready. If something happens in the imperial castle, she will act immediately.”

“Do you really think that the one known as the Nameless Necromancer will target the imperial castle?”

“At the moment, that’s the greatest possibility.”

Nodding his head, Raven continued in a cold voice.

“He was always after me. In addition, Duke Arangis said that the Nameless Necromancer’s purpose was to create a new world. As such, we can assume that the stage where he could achieve such a thing will be the imperial castle after I arrive.”

“Hmm, certainly…”

Ian’s expression darkened.

It was just as Raven said.

In other words, if they wanted to avoid the plans of the Nameless Necromancer, they could simply not take Duke Pendragon to the imperial castle.

But that was impossible.

It was true with any type of hunting, especially truer for hunting predators and dangerous creatures. One needed to step into the creature’s territory. Afterwards, they had to slowly lure it out from the deep forest.

It was the same this time around. Although they knew something would go down in the imperial castle, they needed to move according to the Nameless Necromancer’s wishes for now. Then, they would hunt in a way the opponent did not expect.

It was a hunt where Soldrake, the strongest being, would personally participate in.

‘I hope everything turns out the way I planned…’

Raven turned his head while trying to quell an unknown sense of anxiety. He smiled and spoke to Isla, who was silently riding his horse a short distance away.

“Elkin, what are you thinking about?”

“What else could it be? It’s obviously about her.”

Ian countered Raven’s words and joked. Isla, who was lost in thought, soon shook his head.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of Miss Reiner, but I was actually thinking about something even more important.”

“Which is?”

“With all due respect, the conversation between the lord and Your Highness Ian reminded me of one thing.”

“Hmm…”

There was a saying that the seat made the person.

When Raven first encountered Isla, he was a free knight who wandered the world. But now, he reclaimed his rightful place as the Knight King of Valvas. His insight developed accordingly, proportionate to his spearmanship. He had a keen eye for the world.

As such, Raven and Ian respectfully listened to his thoughts.

“I do not doubt the judgement of the lord and Your Highness. But my lord, I also experienced the Nameless Necromancer in the South. With all due respect, I do not know how things would have turned out if I had been unable to rally the cavaliers in time.”

“Well, that is definitely true.”

Isla’s words could have been considered insulting, but Raven agreed with him as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Isla bowed before continuing. Even though his lord possessed the noblest of status, he never failed to recognize his shortcomings or faults.

“I have been mulling over it very carefully. The fact that the lord entered the Great Forest at a different time than expected. That Sir Killian and I were separated at the time. I was wondering if it was a mere coincidence. In my opinion, I do not think those events were a mere coincidence. He anticipated everything and instilled a sense of confusion.”

“Hmm…”

Raven and Ian’s expressions grew somber. The two had similar thoughts as well.

“It was fated to happen one day, but it is likely that he was responsible for driving Duke Arangis to cause war. That was the only way our forces could be dispersed, and His Highness Ian’s reinforcements would have had a difficult time entering the South because they had to deal with the Arangis Duchy in El Pasa.”

“You are…”

“Certainly right.”

The two exchanged a glance and nodded at Isla’s sharp insight.

“There is a saying among the Valvas Cavaliers. Rouse the West and Strike the East. So far, the Nameless Necromancer has abided by this principal. He always turned our eyes to a specific place, then dug into an unexpected weakness.”

“.....!”

Raven and Ian’s eyes glimmered with light.

Rouse the West and Strike the East.

Nothing could better describe the actions of the Nameless Necromancers thus far. Raven suddenly thought of something, then muttered.

“Perhaps…”

Guessing his monarch’s thoughts, Isla nodded.

“That is correct, my lord. I think the Nameless Necromancer may be aiming for the Pendragon Duchy. The duchy could be considered our current weakness, since we will have a difficult time dealing with any issues that occur in the duchy.”

“.....!”

Raven was shocked. It was as if he had been hit on the head with a hammer.

Why had he never thought of it?

Although there were powerful knights such as Killian and Vincent present in the duchy, the strongest force of the Pendragon Duchy was none other than himself and Soldrake. In particular, Soldrake’s presence in the duchy was quite significant.

Without her, the Pendragon Duchy was similar to other great territories in terms of power. Although the duchy’s troops were strengthened by the southern rexpedition, it would be hard to guarantee victory if two or three great territories stormed the duchy in the absence of Soldrake.

In addition, if the greatest outlier known as the Nameless Necromancer were to join in…?

“Keuk…!”

Raven clenched his teeth as he recalled Lindsay, his two unborn children, Elena, Mia, and the faces of the people precious to him in the duchy.

It was an emergency.

What was the purpose of achieving his purpose in the imperial castle if he lost his loved ones and the duchy? Everything most precious to him was in the duchy…

“Dammit…!”

“It’s not too late. If we get Soldrake right now and…”

“No, my lord.”

Raven and Ian spoke with panic. Isla interjected and cut off their words. The two became wide-eyed and turned towards the knight. Isla had never denied the words of his monarch until now.

Isla spoke in his unique, low, cold tone.

“Sir Vincent said that the lord must head to the imperial castle. He said that there is something there that only you are capable of accomplishing.”

“.....!”

Isla’s words repeated in Raven’s head in Vincent’s voice. The blood curdling feeling and the anxiousness subsided like a lie. Isla continued with admiration for his lord, who quickly regained his composure.

“On the other hand, my duty is to faithfully protect the lord. But now that we are almost at the imperial castle and Lord Soldrake will be here soon, what I can do now is to protect the duchy on behalf of the lord.”

“.....!”

Isla’s voice resonated. It contained a combination of deep loyalty and firm belief. Raven spoke while looking into his eyes, which always remained unchanged since their first meeting.

“I trust you.”

A short phrase. He did not say much more, but Isla, Ian, and even the other knights realized the significance of the words.

“Yes, my lord.”

Isla bowed deeply before turning to Ian.

“I, too, believe in the Knight King of Val… No, the Knight of Pendragon.”

Isla politely bowed in a knightly manner to Ian, then pulled on his reins and turned his horse. All of the knights showed respect and bowed as Isla turned back to fulfil his responsibilities.

He was known as the Orc Slayer, the Stormbringer, and the Knight King of Valvas, but they were currently paying tribute to the ‘Knight of Pendragon’.

Clop. Clop...

Although he initially traveled the world as a free knight and attained the title of Knight King over the years, he was still, and always would be a knight of Pendragon. He slowly rode his horse away from the group.

Raven observed Isla’s back until he disappeared in the midday heat. Then, he turned his head. Just as Isla said, Raven now had to accomplish something only he could do in the imperial castle. Soldrake, the companion of his soul, would be with him.

*** 

“Identity token.”

“Here.”

A soldier spoke lazily without even bothering to turn his head. Jody pulled out his token and handed it to the soldier.

“Huh?”

After quickly scanning the token, the soldier became wide-eyed and raised his head.

“Are you from the Pendragon Duchy?”

The soldier’s tone changed instantly as soon as he saw the symbol engraved on Jody’s token.

“That is correct. These men are with me.”

The soldier carefully looked over Jody’s shoulders.

“Heuk…!”

He gulped loudly and held his breath as his eyes grew to the size of the moon. It was because of a specific member of the group. Although it was mid summer, all of them were wearing hoods.

The soldier assumed that the specific figure was on a horse because of where his head was, but it turned out that he was simply standing. He was over seven feet tall and possessed an incredible physique. He seemed bigger than two tall men combined.

The soldier was speechless.

Moreover, a fang the size of a child’s forearm was revealed underneath the hood…

“O, orc…!”

The soldier was greatly surprised and raised his voice without realizing it.


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