Chapter 42

“W, what? Why is that, why is that coming from there! Why are they coming from our territory!?”

Seeing the procession of orcs and griffons following behind the Pendragon family’s flag, Baron Noel fell into a panicked state. The knights and soldiers, too, were all flabbergasted at the situation.

“I, I asked why those guys from the Pendragon family are coming from my territory!”

“I, I don’t really…”

Breeden was shocked as well. It was weird that they had not shown up at the bridge for such a long time, so how did they get behind them without anyone knowing?

“T, this isn’t the time to be bickering! We need to head to the bridge and block their way quickly.”

“Right, right! Charge! No, I mean, everyone goes down to the bridge!”

“Archers, stand by! Aim at those Pendragon bastards! All knights, follow me!”

The troops finally began to stumble around at Baron Noel and Breeden’s commands.

Rumble!

Breeden and Baron Noel rode down the trail to Ronan Bridge along with twenty knights on their horses. Soldiers hurriedly ran behind them.

“Everybody! Standby. But keep your weapons aimed at them!”

At their commander’s cry, the Seyrod family’s archers aimed their crossbows down the slope. However, their eyes went all over the place as they scanned the dozens of griffons and a group of orcs equipped with full plated armor.

***

“Argh!”

“S, somebody save me!”

Those who saw the group suddenly appear on the road after breaking through tall grass scattered in confusion. Ordinary people were easily intimidated by regular soldiers and knights, so the orc warriors were basically demons, with their large fangs and metal maces.

“Heeehuu! Hu….”

Some collapsed onto the ground, paralyzed by their fear, and slowly squirmed away with all fours. Their pants were wet with urine.

The fear escalated as the orcs drew near. For the villagers, it looked like the orcs were coming to crush their heads open with their maces to drink their brain juices.

“Mom… mommy…”

“I, it’s okay. M, mom will…”

A woman had fallen in the middle of the road and was tightly hugging onto a crying child. A huge shadow suddenly befell the two, and their surroundings darkened. The woman slowly raised her head. Bulging, terrifying red eyes were staring at her as if she was prey.

“…Hiccupp!”

The woman started hiccuping uncontrollably.

An arm, wrapped with bulging muscles and as big as a large tree, slowly stretched out towards her. At the same time, the monster opened its mouth wide to reveal two sharp fangs.

She knew that her time had come. She closed her eyes and hugged her child even tighter.

“P, please… Spare the child. Just the child, please…”

“What are you talking about, you scarecrow woman? Stop blocking the way and go over there.”

Karuta lifted the woman and the child and placed them gently on the side of the road. The woman continued sobbing uncontrollably as he turned his gaze away.

“Damned be the earth… How the hell have the other orcs been acting for the humans to act like this just from seeing us?”

“There was a case before where orcs living in the south fought with the armies of the nobles. The armies had invaded their land and so some tribes retaliated by invading the nobles’ territories. They slaughtered the soldiers and knights and kicked out all of the citizens. Of course, any rebellious residents were killed.”

Isla spoke in a low voice while riding on top of his griffon.

“What? So they didn’t initiate the fight, and they didn’t touch the weak scarecrows. So why are they acting like such idiots?”

“The rumors must have spread all the way here. And orcs and humans have never had the best of relations since the olden days.”

“I’ll be damned. But anyway, you scarecrow bastard. Why do I feel like you’re talking down to me?”

“My lord and his soul companion as well as his lady are the only people I respect. I have no reason to respect anyone else besides them.”

“What did you say? You fishy dog scarecrow…”

Isla’s eyebrows wriggled at Karuta’s words.

To be exact, Isla’s appearance was more like a fluffy, sleek brown shepherd’s dog rather than a ‘fishy dog scarecrow.’

However, unbeknownst to anyone else, Isla was unhappy with his appearance and treated it as a flaw.

“You simple, ignorant orc. All you do is blabber your mouth.”

“This bastard’s really…”

“Stop, Karuta. Hostile soldiers are approaching.”

“Khung?”

Karuta let out a snort and turned his head around.

Dozens of horses and hundreds of soldiers ran down the slope leading to the bridge, raising a large cloud of dust behind them. Raven squinted his eyes to make out the two flags that were flown in front of the soldiers.

‘A red wolf and a swan wearing laurels.’ 

They were soldiers from the Seyrod and Noel families.

“Remember. Don’t attack unless they engage first.”

Raven warned his soldiers in a low tone. Karuta and Isla nodded in unison. As several carriages and dozens of people frantically crossed the bridge, the two families’ knights stood in front of the bridge to block the way.

The momentum and techniques of the knights were quite impressive. Contrastingly, the soldiers were a mess. There were more soldiers equipped with worn-out leather armors than those that had chainmail, and the weapons they carried were also all over the place.

‘More than half of them aren’t official soldiers.’

They must have mobilized vigilantes from the different villages in their territory. A mere local barony wouldn’t be rich enough to properly arm hundreds of soldiers anyway. And even if they could, they never would. They probably feared a possible rebellion, and they did not need a large army to acquire the residents’ obedience.

Raven looked over the knights and the soldiers before turning his eyes to the slope they came down from. He could see around 100 archers pointing their crossbows directly at his army. The same flag with a red wolf was raised behind the archers — the Seyrod family’s soldiers. The distance was approximately 300 yards. It wasn’t close enough for the quarrels to pierce through armor.

After eyeing the distance, Raven raised his hand. The orcs and the griffons stopped in their place immediately.

“Sir Isla.”

“Yes.”

Isla followed behind Raven to the front of the knights.

“Ehem…!”

The Seyrod and Noel families’ knights were startled when two people came up to them on a horse and a griffon.

It was clear from the shining silver armor and the Pendragon emblem that the person riding on the horse was Alan Pendragon, but they could not tell who the other individual was. He was wearing leather, gold plated armor and had a rapier and dagger on his waists.

Also, ‘he’ was riding a griffon.

They were terrified to see the man sitting on a griffon’s back. He was sitting nonchalantly on top of a winged monster that had the head of an eagle. Breeden and Baron Noel reluctantly rode forward in an attempt to get control of the situation.

“Y, you must be Lord Alan Pendragon?”

The tension in the voice was evident, even from a distance. Raven replied with a grin.

“I am Alan Pendragon. And who might you be, sir, that you would block my way?”

“I am Chris Noel, Lord of Verad. And w, what are you doing in my territory? S, sir?”

Baron Noel held a cautious attitude in dealing with the son of a duke, whose veins contained royal blood.

‘This fucking idiot…’

Breeden stepped up, unavailable to watch his companion talk any longer.

“Long time no see, Your Grace Alan Pendragon.”

“Ho? If it isn’t Sir Joseph Breeden. Good, so did you come prepared today?”

“Yes? What… do you mean?”

Raven tilted his head and patted his buttocks.

“This thing. This. You seem to soil it pretty often. You should always be careful.”

“I…”

Breeden’s face glowed red with embarrassment. He wasn’t a fool, and he understood exactly what Alan was referring to.

“Anyways, Lord Noel, was it? You asked what I was doing just now? I’m afraid that’s my line, so what should I do?”

“Y, yes?”

Raven smiled at the bewildered face of Baron Noel, then repeated himself with a stern look on his face.

“I, Alan Pendragon, am heading to my territory. I asked what the hell you’re doing, Baron Noel of Verad.”

“……!”

Baron Noel flinched at Raven’s icy stare and maintained his silence. Breeden once again cursed in his mind and stepped up.

“Even if Your Grace is headed back to what you own, this is Baron Noel’s land. How could you bring such monsters into someone else’s land? Are you trying to start a war?

Boom!

An earth-shaking noise suddenly burst out.

Neiiiigh!

“Ugh!”

Everyone’s eyes turned to the source of the loud sound.

“Hey, you pissy scarecrow. What did you just say? What? Monster?”

Karuta had excellent hearing. He spoke with a harsh voice as he pulled up his iron mace from the ground.

The ground had caved in about a knee’s length. Karuta’s eyes were like a blazing torch, and Breeden suddenly felt fear staring into the creature’s gaze, and his legs started to shake.

“Wait.”

Raven stopped Karuta from taking action and turned his head back to the two men. Raven had a cold smile as he spoke to the men.

“Do you need a reason for my presence? I have come to receive the mines and the lumber mills that the Seyrod family promised me. You, Joseph Breeden, told me personally that I could come whenever to take control over them. So I went and took control over them, and now I am headed back. So what is the problem?”

“Gasp!”

“W, when the hell did you…”

Baron Noel let out a surprised sound, and Breeden unknowingly spoke his true intentions. Raven’s smile grew more profound.

“What? Was I supposed to report to you when I would head over? I, Alan Pendragon?”

“Um….”

Baron Noel could only swallow his saliva, ignorant of any actions he could take.

The royal family had no obligation to notify anyone of their actions in advance.

The entire empire belonged to the emperor, and the nobles were bestowed their titles by the emperor and lorded over their territories only by the emperor’s grace. Of course, the autonomy of the lords was recognized, and they held the real power in their lands, but they could not openly deny the emperor and the empire.

If they did, they would be accused of treason, and 30,000 soldiers of the imperial army would be knocking on their doors the next day. Of course, the entirety of the 30,000 army wouldn’t all participate.

A single legion consisting of 3,000 troops was enough to obliterate the entire Seyrod territory, and every single High Lord, those who controlled their territory, knew of the empire’s power.

They also knew that the five duchies had authority equivalent to the royal family. Hence, no one had the right to be briefed on the royal family’s actions and the five duchies' — no one, except for the emperor and the crown prince.

That was the reason why Baron Noel had to patiently wait for the Pendragon family in front of Ronan Bridge. They had no right to inquire about the other party’s whereabouts.

“If you understand, get out of the way. Let’s go!”

At Raven’s beckoning, Karuta and the orc warriors, as well as Isla and the griffons, all started to move. Baron Noel awkwardly moved his horse to the side of the bridge. But Breeden glared at Raven and stood still in the middle of the bridge.

‘How dare this brat…’

He remembered the little Pendragon brat couldn’t make eye contact or even breathe properly in front of him back then. That same brat was looking down on him now. Even though he was of lower status, he had previously believed that he would always be above the brat as a man. But now, he had lost even in that regard.

Clop, clop.

Raven’s horse walked straight towards Breeden. Their horses would clash if neither of them took action. Even so, Breeden stared at Raven while breathing roughly. When they were only a short distance away, Breeden was finally forced to pull on his reins. But his bloodshot gaze was still fixed on one person.

“Oh yeah.”

Raven turned his head slightly as he passed by Breeden.

“You know when you pissed your pants? Don’t worry about it. I didn’t tell anyone from my territory about it.”

Raven quietly whispered to Breeden and gave him a small wink before passing by him.

“……!”

Breeden shook visibly with anger.

Like a kettle reaching its boiling point, his temper exploded.

“You littleee bastard! You dog shit bastard!!”

With a beastly cry, Breeden swung his sword at Raven.

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