“Something huge is brewing. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
The men gathered in the pub whispered between themselves while barely touching their alcohol.
“Exactly. Why the sudden action? Why would troops from another great territory suddenly…”
“They’re heading to the Pendragon Duchy, right? Our lord would not have allowed it without a reason. He would not have allowed it without thought, don’t you agree?”
“Well, that’s true, but the Pendragons are our blood allies, right? If Lord White Dragon becomes enraged later on…”
The men shuddered. Although it was quite rare, the people of the Seyrod Territory had seen Soldrake in the past. Even though they only saw glimpses of Soldrake from afar, either when she was flying or traveling with Duke Pendragon, everyone knew what kind of being the White Dragon of Pendragon was.
“Is the dragon the real problem here? It was only last year that the knights and soldiers of our great territory were slaughtered by Duke Pendragon, folks.”
It was true. Soldrake was no different from a myth, while Duke Pendragon and his knights were all too real. Just last year, Seyrod’s troops had been decimated effortlessly at the border of the two territories.
“What’s going to happen with the world…?”
The peasant sighed helplessly while emptying their drinks. As the conversations soon switched topics, a man who was drinking at a table located next to the men slowly stood up and climbed to the inn located on the second floor.
“Keureugh, you’re here. What’s the news?”
Karuta spoke while trimming his steel rod on the floor, and Jody nodded with a grim expression.
“This is rather bothersome. The forces of Alice are all over the border.”
“Where? Ronan Bridge?”
Karuta spoke of the fastest route leading from the Great Territory of Seyrod into the Pendragon Territory.
“Not only there. Soldiers of Alice and Seyrod are guarding all routes leading into the duchy. Merchants with verifiable identities are being let through, but the armed are being thoroughly inspected…”
“Kereruk! That’s not a problem. We can simply beat up all those weak scarecrows and go.”
Karuta growled while placing his steel rod over his shoulder. Jody responded with a deep sigh.
“That might be fine if you were going by yourself, Mister Karuta, but what about me and our friends from the Red Moon Valley? Judging from the way things are heading, I don’t think we can obtain any griffons if we go back to the castle of High Lord Seyrod…”
The situation was grim.
It had been quite difficult coming all this way, but the real problem rested ahead. He was a squire of the Pendragon Duchy, and Karuta was the head of the Ancona Orc warriors, one of the most powerful forces allied with the Pendragon Duchy. Unless they were fools, he and Karuta would not be given easy access into the Pendragon Duchy.
The crazed light disappeared from Karuta’s eyes, and he regained his cool. His gaze shifted up towards the bed.
“Do not worry about me. I can protect myself.”
Eltuan spoke calmly. But she was still pale, and it was evident that she still needed rest.
‘What do I do…?’
Jody thought hard, but he could not think of a reasonable solution. He smacked his lips with frustration.
They could not continue to stay here. Although he and the elves of Red Moon Valley could blend in and be inconspicuous, Karuta was very noticeable. By tomorrow, rumors would spread that an orc was staying at the village inn.
The only orcs that could travel freely to and from the Great Territory of Seyrod were from the Ancona tribe. It was obvious that the troops of Seyrod and Alice would storm the village in a few days. Above all, he needed to relay the story he heard regarding Serin Reiner and Luna Seyrod to Conrad Castle as soon as possible.
He had experienced countless situations as a veteran mercenary, and his intuition was warning him that all the events surrounding the Pendragon Duchy were related to the story.
“Phew, what do I do about this…”
Jody murmured in a quiet voice.
There were two men who could possibly get him through the crisis, and their faces passed through his mind. But Vincent was in Conrad Castle, and Duke Pendragon, his lord, was on his way to the imperial castle.
He could neither head to Conrad Castle or the imperial castle, so there was nothing he could do.
A sudden knock resounded on the door.
Jody became surprised and placed his hand near his waist. Karuta and the elves also grabbed their weapons while glaring at the door.
“Who is it?”
Jody asked in a tense voice.
But no answer came from beyond the door, and in a moment, the knocks resounded once again.
Knock! Knock, knock! Knock, knock!
Jody’s eyes grew larger. There was a pattern to the knocks. To be exact, it was a signal used by the intelligence agents of the Pendragon Duchy. It appeared that the stranger was an agent of the duchy who, like himself, was unable to return to the duchy after completing his mission.
“It must be someone on our side.”
Jody looked back towards Karuta with a relieved expression, then carefully opened the door.
His eyes widened with shock as he saw the figure behind the door. It was a man who wasn’t supposed to be here. The man’s eyes contained a coolness reminiscent of the deep sea – he was Isla.
“S, sir Isla?”
Isla nodded silently, then entered the room.
“Oh! What are you doing here!?”
Karuta also expressed his shock while greeting the knight. According to the original plan, Isla should have been at the imperial castle about now.
“Sir Isla, what’s going on?”
Jody quickly regained his composure and asked hurriedly. Isla looked around while answering, his voice ladened with a distinctive southern accent.
“The lord sent me. I heard about the Great Territory of Alice on my way here. I was thinking about breaking through on my own, but I heard earlier that a group with an orc was staying here. I came here to check.”
“Oh! So that’s what happened. I am so glad that you are here.”
Jody’s expression quickly transformed. His face had been devoid of hope before, but now it was glowing with optimism. Being with Isla in their current situation was as good as winning over a thousand troops and horses. Of course, if hope was measured in force only, Karuta could have contributed more to the situation. He had already entered the ranks of monsters.
But Karuta was not a human, but rather an orc. When he wasn’t on the same side, an orc was only an object of fear. On the other hand, Isla was a man. Moreover, he was the Knight King, a man of high reputation throughout the empire.
Every single person in Valvas was considered to be skillful. Among them, the cavaliers were judged as the strongest and possessed enormous skill. As the one who conquered the strongest of the cavaliers, Isla was nothing short of a living legend.
Mercenaries and knights revered him, so there was a high chance of acquiring helpers as well. Unfortunately, entering the duchy was still a difficult task even if they could gain helpers using Isla’s reputation. Nevertheless, there was a reason why Jody was so relieved and joyed at Isla’s presence.
Isla was the strongest griffon rider, but he was also a human capable of communicating with the griffons.
“By the way, why are you here at a time like this?”
“Ah! About that.”
Jody tried to explain their current predicament as quickly and concisely as possible. But he paused while recalling the person who stood at the heart of the incident. The figure was none other than the one possessing the deepest connection with Isla.
“Well, why are you not saying anything?”
Isla spoke while narrowing his eyes after noticing Jody’s hesitation.
“Uh… Actually, it’s…”
Jody could not continue. On his behalf, Karuta spoke as if he was irked.
“The scarecrow girl you chose as your bride. She might be haunted by a ghost.”
Isla’s eyes glowed coldly after hearing unexpected words.
“Tell me the details.”
He asked in an icy voice, and Karuta was about to explain the story. However, Eltuan interrupted with a sigh and stepped out.
“It might be better for me to tell you, since it’s something I experienced personally. Sir Isla, everything I say from now on is true…”
Eltuan’s quiet voice rang softly in the old inn’s room.
Isla remained silent after hearing Eltuan’s long story. Jody had supplemented explanations from time to time as well. He stood silently with his arms folded.
Jody swallowed loudly after seeing Isla’s posture. The knight did not know whether the woman he chose was herself, someone else, or even something else. He could not imagine the shock and anger that Isla would be experiencing.
Just looking at Isla’s cold, sharp eyes made him shiver.
“I see. All right.”
Finally, Isla opened his mouth.
Jody was shocked by Isla’s unexpectedly impassive attitude, but he did not dare ask. Jody also revered Isla, but also had difficulties in dealing with him, just like everyone else in the duchy.
“Keheung! Then what are we going to do now? We’re going to charge through Ronan Bridge, right?”
It was truly a response befitting an orc. Karuta was truly insensitive, speaking such words while snorting.
‘No, that senseless orc is really…’
Jody started to sweat. Just as he was about to say something, Isla shook his head.
“It’s impossible. We would be overwhelmed. Even if it is you and me, we cannot break through thousands of troops.”
“What? Are you trying to…”
“You experienced it once in the South, have you not? You almost died when you confronted Oran and the Knights of the Red Wheel.”
Karuta started to speak with a red glimmer in his eyes, but his gaze dampened after being interrupted by Isla. He had taken care of the knights but had also suffered as well.
“At that time, you were able to win against the knights on horseback because you were on a narrow road. However, the road to Ronan Bridge is wide, and that is where Alice’s forces are located. If they succeed in surrounding us, we will never break through. It will be even more difficult if we’re carrying an injured.”
Eltuan bit her lips as Isla’s cold gaze turned towards her. But she was also a warrior of Red Moon Valley, so she could not deny his words.
“Damned ground be split! Then what do you want us to do?”
Karuta raised his voice in frustration.
Isla sank into thought for a brief moment, then slowly looked around with a cold gaze. His gaze paused on a certain figure.
“Let me ask you.”
Jody tilted his head with puzzlement. For some reason, an ominous feeling dawned on him as Isla pointed him out. Isla spoke in a quieter, but stronger voice than usual.
“Are you willing to die for the Pendragon Duchy and the lord?”
Jody’s eyes widened with surprise.
Why was he asking such a question out of the blue?
Why at a time like this?
But Jody realized Isla was dead serious after seeing the cold light in the knight’s eyes. He bowed his head with a serious expression and sank into thought.
A brief silence followed. Soon, Jody raised his face.
“If it were not for His Excellency the Duke, I would have died in Sisak anyways. It is all thanks to the lord and Sir Isla that I am where I am today. I have managed to climb to a place that I do not deserve.”
Having said so, he took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders.
“I am a squire of Pendragon. It is only natural for my life to belong to Pendragon.”
Astonishment appeared on the faces of Karuta, Eltuan, and the two elven warriors. No one doubted Jody’s experience and skills, but his answer was quite surprising. Due to his slick and easygoing personality, everyone had treated him lightly.
Isla nodded after hearing Jody’s answer.
“In all likelihood, you will die. The two elf friends from Red Moon Valley, and…”
Isla’s eyes turned to Karuta.
“Perhaps you, Karuta, will die as well.”
Jody, as well as the elven warriors, looked towards Karuta with surprise. But the person who was told of his possible death reacted in an absurd manner…
“Kereuk! What about it? What’s wrong with it? To die fighting on the battlefield is the highest honor for an Ancona orc.”
The strongest warrior of the Ancona orcs grinned, red energy beaming from his eyes.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Oh my goodness. Is this a foreshadowing? I do not know. Find out in the next episode of Dragon Bal… I-I mean, Duke! Duke Pendragon!