Chapter 36

“What! Is this true?”

The man who looked to be about forty, sprang on his feet. He was dressed in a red silk tunic decorated with colorful embroidery and a crown of pure silver on his head.

“Yes, my lord. The royal tomb of the Pendragon family has been reopened. It seems that His Grace Alan Pendragon has succeeded in contracting with the White Dragon. Moreover, the residents of the village located near the border reported seeing dragons flying towards the Ancona Forest. The reported number was s, six dragons.”

“Six… six dragons…”

The middle-aged aristocrat muttered dejectedly, then flopped back down onto his chair.

“What in the world is going on? Not only did he succeed in contracting the White Dragon, but six other dragons flew into the Pendragon territory?…. Huh!”

He let out a burst of laughter in disbelief and looked around to see anyone agree with him. But the people standing on his left and right stayed silent, trading glances with each other.

“This happens as soon as we decide to break off the marriage with them… Everyone, don’t just stand there like fools and say something! Do something!”

Everyone withdrew at the shouts of the middle-aged man.

“We cannot do anything, My Lord Seyrod.”

A soft, calm voice caught the attention of the nobleman. Everyone’s gazes turned towards the voice.

“Luna…”

Count Seyrod’s face fell when he saw his foster daughter, the precious little gem he had raised. It was none other than himself who had urged the breakup between the two families.

“Even if we have broken off the marriage, we are still a relative of the Pendragon Duchy. No harm will come to us. We just have to cooperate with them and keep a strong relationship. It’s not like they are going to invade our territory or anything of the sort.”

“Hm…”

Luna spoke the truth. Even so, Count Seyrod and the aristocrats shared an uncomfortable, nervous gaze.

“That’s not necessarily the case.”

Someone else had stepped up. Turning her head towards the source of the voice, Luna frowned and responded.

“What do you mean, Sir Breeden?”

The other nobles’ expressions were similar to Luna’s surprised face. Everyone knew of the happenings in the Pendragon Duchy and Breeden’s shameful actions.

‘Damn it…’

As Breeden had returned to the territory, he had done his best to lay low and avoid people, but not anymore. The judgemental looks of the people enraged him. Holding his nerves, Breeden swallowed his disdain and spoke nonchalantly.

“Didn’t you say that His Grace Pendragon set out on another expedition? What do you think his purpose is? It’s to look around the mines and the mills that the Seyrod family handed over. This means that the soldiers of the Pendragon family could cross the territorial borders.”

“Hm!”

“Well, the Lindel gold mine is right on the border…”

The nobles began to whisper amongst themselves.

‘Hehe. Good, it worked.’

Breeden rejoiced inwardly and spoke to Count Seyrod, who was tapping his chair’s armrest with a serious expression.

“My lord, even though the Pendragon Duchy is a relative of the Seyrod family, we don’t know what might happen if they become more powerful. Furthermore, His Grace Alan Pendragon is not some innocent man. He is ambitious and cunning, one who is willing to stand together with monsters like orcs if it will help him achieve his goals.”

“Hmm…”

Count Seyrod’s face turned even darker. Luna lightly bit her lips at the sight and stepped out.

“But His Grace Pendragon helped us. If it wasn’t for him, we don’t know what might have happened. All thanks to a certain someone.”

“Dammit…”

Breeden’s forehead wriggled at Luna’s cold words and gaze.

However, he continued with an indifferent expression, changing his voice to a worried tone.

“I admit I have done my share of mistakes. But now that I think about it, perhaps the unfortunate meeting with the orcs was rather a part of His Grace Pendragon’s…”

“Sir Breeden! Aren’t you going too far?”

Luna couldn’t stand the nonsense and interjected in the middle of his words.

“I’m sorry, my lady. I was just considering the possibilities.”

Breeden lightly bowed his head and stepped back. Luna caught the sly smile that hung on his lips and spoke with an even icier voice.

“Considering the possibilities? Are you saying that His Grace Pendragon…”

“Ah, wait.”

Count Seyrod cut off Luna’s words.

“I don’t think we can ignore Sir Breeden’s words. Didn’t you also tell me that His Grace Pendragon changed from how he used to behave?”

“That’s true, but this is completely different. His Grace Pendragon is…”

Count Seyrod once again interrupted.

“No, it sounds no different to me. You also told me that His Grace Pendragon accepted the rejection of the marriage, almost as if he was waiting for it. This would have never happened in the past. I think the least we can do is prepare ourselves for the worst scenarios.”

“Father…”

Luna called out in a desperate voice.

“Enough.”

Count Seyrod shook his head at Luna, then turned to face the nobles.

“If Alan Pendragon crosses the border, we shall give him a warning. If you have any good ideas, please let me know.”

Breeden sneakily spoke up once again while the other nobles looked around in silence.

“The mine we handed over the Pendragons was originally managed by Baron Noel on your behalf. Even though we adjusted the gold and tax rates as a token of consolation, I’m sure he’s not happy about the changes. Why don’t you ask Baron Noel to pressure the duchy and see how they react?”

The Noel family was one of the three subordinate families of the Seyrod County and their territory was located between the borders of the Pendragon Duchy and the Seyrod County. They had managed the mine that was handed over to the Pendragons for two generations, which had contributed largely to their wealth. Now, with the transfer of ownership, they would take severe losses and would not be too happy with the decision.

“Hmm, that’s a good idea. They should know that the Noel Barony is a subordinate family to our county. The Pendragon soldiers shouldn’t attack them recklessly. Let Baron Noel know of our situation.”

Having Baron Noel put pressure on Alan Pendragon on the border would serve to give a stern warning and would also allow the barony to vent their anger. As small disputes near the border were not uncommon, this event would not be considered a big deal, and they would smooth over it without any problems.

Breeden held back a shout of triumph seeing his chance for revenge arise, and spoke in a gentle voice.

“Yes, sir… But just in case, why don’t I personally take some of my knights as backup?”

“You will go personally?”

“Yes. Out of everyone present, I know Alan Pendragon the best. Of course, the leader of the order is Sir John, but I think I might be able to handle the situation with better flexibility based on my experience with His Grace.”

“Hmm. What is your opinion on this, Sir John?”

Count Seyrod’s gaze rested on a knight to his left. The knight was mid-to-late 40’s, and his hair and beard were turning grey, though he still looked good for his age.

“I agree with Sir Breeden’s suggestion. If I personally take action, the Pendragons might decide to raise the severity of the issue.”

“That’s true too. All right. Take twenty knights and my handwritten letter to Baron Noel. Do your best and try to avoid any mistakes.”

“Yes, my lord. This Joseph Breeden will give my all to complete the task you have given me.”

Breeden thumped his chest with a look of determination, then moved forward. As he walked out, his eyes briefly glanced at Luna, who was biting her lips in worry. Their gazes met.

‘That man…’

Luna looked at Breeden’s back with distressed eyes.

A malicious smile had decorated his face.

***

It was early morning, and a hazy mist encircled Conrad Castle. Raven, who was dressed in his White Dragon Armour, crossed the drawbridge of Conrad Castle alongside Soldrake.

A procession of thirty orc soldiers, Kazzal and Tata, followed behind Raven’s back with Karuta at the front.

‘Good, very good.”

Raven glanced behind him, then nodded with a pleased smile. Karuta and the orc warriors were prepared a lot differently from when he had first met them. Instead of crude armor made from animal skins and skulls, Conrad Castle’s blacksmiths had forged heavy metal armor to protect the orc warriors’ thick shoulders and chests. Instead of wooden sticks embedded with sharp bones, the orcs held morning stars that were as tall and thick as an average adult male.

It would be a nightmare for whoever was unlucky to face these warriors.

[Ray, there’s someone over there.]

Soldrake pointed into the mist as they were almost across the drawbridge.

“Hm?”

Raven narrowed his eyes. He was able to see a blurry image of someone riding on a horse. Raven raised his voice and unsheathed his sword.

“Announce yourself! Who dares interrupt the Pendragon’s expedi…. Huh?”

Raven’s eyes grew bigger when the figure neared, and the person’s identity was revealed.

“I, it’s… me, Your Grace.”

“Killian? What the hell are you doing here? No, more importantly… Ha!”

“Uh, w, well. It’s just…”

Raven burst into laughter as Killian mumbled his words.

Killian usually dressed in a breastplate and small armor pieces to cover his joints, but now, he was wearing a full-plate mail armor. In addition, he held a long spear decorated with the dragon symbol, a shield, a morning star, and even a crossbow that hung on the side of the saddle. He was armed to the teeth and could be easily mistaken for setting out for war.

Raven’s expression turned cold as he observed the knight, who had secretly packed his belongings and stood waiting in front of the drawbridge.

“I asked why you’re here at this time, dressed like that, Sir Killian.”

“I, I would like to accompany you on this trip, Your Grace!”

Killian hurriedly answered at Raven’s icy voice.

“What? Shouldn’t you be busy recruiting people for the knight order? I’m sure what I gave you was clear.”

“Yes, of course. But Your Grace, a knight order can’t be created in just a day or two. Most of the soldiers in Conrad Castle are not proficient in horse riding. They don’t have much experience as well, except for the most recent expedition. That’s why… uh, I thought it might be better to recruit soldiers from Bellint Gate or knights who would come to the duchy and….”

“So you want to gather free knights and create an order, is that it?”

“Yes, yes! That’s exactly what I’m saying!”

Killian nodded eagerly at Raven’s question.

“Hmm…”

Killian’s words certainly made sense. There was a huge difference between simple horse riding, and being able to battle on horseback. A soldier had different equipment from a horse-riding knight, and it would not be possible to train and arm them appropriately within a short period of time.

However, as Killian said, free knights were different.

They were proficient in horseback battles, and most of them stemmed from noble backgrounds, which made them familiar with military tactics. With a few months’ training, they would be able to form a useful knight order.

“Good. You will come with us then.”

“Yes! I will work my bones to dust!”

Killian answered Raven with a bright face and followed behind him, while being careful not to disturb Soldrake.

It was then that someone crept up to Killian’s side.

“Your body is not well, why didn’t you just take a rest?”

Killian turned his head and frowned. Surely enough, it was Karuta.

“No, what do you mean I’m not feeling well? I am a knight who is always prepared to follow his master!”

Karuta’s expression turned strange at Killian’s words. He dropped his gaze with a pitiful look.

“Well…. I heard everything. Sniff! So far, Karuta has been a little rough, and I apologize. I wasn’t aware that you were an eggless scarecrow as well as a weakling.”

“W, what do you mean. I still have one left!”

“Yes, yes. I got it. It’s all thanks to the earth god’s protection, yes.”

Karuta nodded as if he truly understood Killian’s pain.

However, his gaze remained below Killian’s waist, and his eyes that were usually frenzied were filled with sympathy.

“…..”

“When we go into the forest, I’ll have Kratul dig up some herbs that are good for vitality.”

“Thank you… Well, this is somehow making me feel worse.”

“Kratul guarantees the effects. Killian scarecrow is the friend of the Ancona Orcs. Ancona Orcs know loyalty. Kratul doesn’t know how to make egg… regrow, but I will do whatever I can.”

Kratul joined in on the conversation and his gaze alternated between Killian’s face and groin with pitiful eyes.

“Cheer up, Killian scarecrow. You will not die because you are eggless.”

“Yes! The earth god does not discriminate based on how many eggs you have.”

Kratul and Karuta patted Killian’s shoulders before passing by him. Killian stared at the two with a dumbfounded expression.

Then, Kazzal, who was following the two orc warriors, looked up at Killian.

Their gazes met.

A heartbroken smile hung on the face of Kazzal. He nodded twice at Killian as if to signal that he understood everything.

“……”

Whoosh…

A warm breeze passed by the knight. The knight had just received sympathy from orcs and goblins.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter