“I said, let’s go?”
“I already told you I will not.”
“Oh come on, won’t you come with me? That dirty worm’s changed, aren’t you curious?”
“The ties of the past are already no longer. No matter the situation, it is unlawful for me to meet His Grace Alan Pendragon again. Please don’t try to force me or push me any further.”
“Force? If he comes to the castle later this year, you’ll see him anyway. What’s wrong with seeing him before that happens?”
“Yes, I will indeed see him within the year. Therefore, there is no reason for me to visit him before that.”
The girl was sitting against a chair with her back straightened, but without her back actually touching the chair. She answered quietly, then raised her cup of tea in a slow, leisurely gesture.
The girl’s hair was braided so finely that it was comparable to a work of art, and her gestures and speech were as elegant and dignified as her appearance. However, the young man facing her had a disheveled appearance as if he had just come out of bed.
The girl put down her teacup without it making any sound and spoke in a clear, polite way. It seemed that she didn’t care much about his appearance.
“Ultimately, this girl has no reason to play along with your jokes, brother.”
“I’m not joking.”
“Are you aware of the prince of Ills and Veramun visiting? I’m sure you’re aware that it’s not my sole duty to entertain the princes of the kingdoms that are loyal to the emperor.”
“Others can deal with small fry like that. Isn’t this place crawling with princes and princesses?”
The man grinned and emptied his tea at once, chugging it like alcohol.
The girl’s eyes sank.
“You go too far, Brother Ian. They are still your brothers who share the emperor’s blood.”
“They may be siblings to you. The only siblings I have are Lanshio and you, Ingrid.”
At the man’s word, Ingrid de Maxwell Aragon, the first princess of the empire, stared at her brother in silence. Her brother Ian was the second son of three children and the one whose looks were most similar to the emperor.
“What? Are you touched by your brother’s words? I would be put in an awkward position if you fell in love with me though, you know.”
A smile spread on Ingrid’s face at Ian’s joking words. Even though everyone was scared of him and was very stubborn, she couldn’t hate her brother.
“Good. See? You’re so beautiful when you smile like that.”
“I already know that I am beautiful, so you don’t have to say something so obvious.”
This time, Ian burst out laughing as if he had lost. This was the reason he adored his little sister who was nine years younger than him.
The daughters of noble families or other princess dared not talk back to him. Either that or they tried to seduce him.
“I’ve already notified them that you will be accompanying me, so listen to me this time. Think of it as a summer vacation.”
“Summer vacation is in another month. And I am supposed to go with the other siblings to…”
“It’ll probably take one month to get there. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Besides, do you really want to go anywhere with those bums?”
Ingrid gave a long sigh at Ian’s playful expression.
“I really don’t know what to do with you. I understand. I will come with you.”
Ian, who had jumped up with a grin on his face, paused.
“Promise me that you won’t cause any trouble.”
“Trouble? What trouble?”
Ian shrugged his shoulders, feigning ignorance at Ingrid’s words. But she was still adamant.
“All right, all right.”
Ian helplessly nodded his head. Ingrid spoke once more.
“And if you break your promise with me, I won’t speak a single word to you until this year is over.”
She was a girl of her word. She had never gone against her own words before.
Ian knew at that moment that he wouldn’t be free to act as he wanted during the trip. But he still didn’t want to go alone. Notably, the emperor and the empress would not allow him on the trip if he was going alone.
“Okay. I will do my best to keep boundaries.”
Ian answered, then slightly raised a closed fist.
“Okay, I believe you.”
Ingrid gave a big smile, then raised her small fist before lightly bumping it into her brother’s fist. It was a gesture between the three siblings that signified a promise.
“Oh, right. You promise me one thing too.”
Ian started to walk away with a satisfied expression, then suddenly turned his head.
“What kind of promise?”
Ian spoke with a serious expression to her sister, who had tilted her head in question.
“No matter how much that Pendragon worm changed, you cannot, ever, look at him or consider him as a man. Okay?”
The maids who were waiting on Ingrid became dazed for a short moment at Ingrid’s charming, dazzling smile.
“That will never happen.”
Raven asked with a scrunched-up forehead. The nobleman bowed his head, feeling somewhat proud of his reaction. Alan Pendragon wasn’t one to react in such manners regularly.
“Their royal highness Prince Ian and Princess Ingrid have left for the Seyrod territory, and because of it, the high society and the Royal Batallium are in a frenzy. There are different opinions on why Count Seyrod, who doesn’t have a connection to the royal family, invited the Prince, and why the Prince accepted the invitation.”
“But you said it has something to do with me?”
“Yes. I’m sure it’s because Princess Ingrid was… Your Grace’s…”
Raven spoke nonchalantly on behalf of the nobleman who was having trouble saying the next words.
“Because she was my ex-fiancée? And that Ian, or whatever his name was, took the lead in breaking the engagement?”
“Yes, yes. I thought that it was perhaps related…”
The nobleman became anxious and started sweating. This man in front of him talked about his own engagement’s failure without any restraint and even dared to call the prince of the empire as ‘whatever his name was’.
Raven decided to stay patient.
Alan Pendragon would soon officially become a duke of the empire. In terms of status, he was equal to Prince Ian. He only had to bow his head in front of two people in the entire empire, the emperor and the crown prince.
“But has that guy ever seen me?”
“Yes. He visited when the late Duke Gordon Pendragon ruled the land. Prince Ian personally brought the documents to break off the engagement.”
Melborn kindly reminded Alan, as he knew that Alan had lost all of his memories before he regained consciousness.
“I see. So my former, former fiancée is coming to town along with the one who took lead in breaking the engagement, and you think it has something to do with me?”
“Yes. To my understanding, Count Seyrod and Prince Ian have little connection, and there haven’t been any visitations between them previously.”
Raven furrowed his brow. For some reason, he had an ominous, foreboding feeling that something troublesome was headed towards him. And unfortunately, such premonitions were rarely wrong.
“I thought that I could finally go home, but… tsk.”
His expression turned for worse once more. A month had already passed since he resolved the issue in Ancona Forest with centaurs. In the meantime, Raven had been extremely busy.
Melborn took care of any issues regarding the influx of merchants, laborers, and refugees, so all Raven had to do was receive the reports.
But it was a different story with his specialty, the art of war.
In particular, Raven had to personally check the free knights who aspired to go under the Pendragon family. Killian and Isla were enough to test their martial prowess and different skills, but he had to personally sift through the knights to acknowledge any ‘hidden gems’ he knew from the future.
Unfortunately, there were no figures of the same caliber as Isla the Stormbreaker, but he had found a dozen who were quite capable out of twenty-three free knights. All of them had the skills to become a company leader in the demonic army which meant that they would be useful in the future.
Moreover, they did not ask for a title or any land because they were decimated by Killian, Isla, and Alan himself. Instead, they kept their profiles low and became more reserved after their respective beatings.
Only fools would think themselves entitled to more than what they were worth, and so the knights were satisfied with high-quality armor, weapons, residence in the castle, and a gold coin as their monthly salary.
Besides, their positions were only temporary. If they proved themselves in battle, they were eligible to receive a title and a small chunk of territory, so they had nothing to complain about.
If they were placed in the griffon unit, Isla would take care of most matters as he was an expert on griffons. All they needed to do was follow their orders well.
Anyhow, they had already spent a month planning, recruiting, and training knights to lead the cavalry, and join the cavalry themselves. Now, they finally had room to breathe, and Raven was thinking of visiting his hometown located in the Great Territory of Sisak…
“I should leave before anything annoying happens.”
“What? Where are you going?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Even though he was old, Melborn still managed to overhear the smallest of things. Raven roughly blurred over his words.
The master of a duchy had a lot of work to do.
It was absurd to go on a trip at will.
However, summer vacation was an annual ritual for the duchy, in which all the family left together. Raven was thinking of visiting the territory of Sisak during that time.
Among the various lands owned by the Pendragons, it was fortunate that they also owned a villa on a beach not too far from the Great Territory of Sisak.
But this wasn’t something he could tell anyone other than Soldrake.
“By the way, I think Prince Ian and Princess Ingrid will have arrived at the Seyrod territory by now.”
“What? This fast?”
Raven was shocked.
“Didn’t you say Prince Ian’s party left the imperial capital a month ago, Sir Lindel?”
“Yes, yes. That’s right.”
The nobleman who had made the report nodded his head.
“Then they must have arrived by now. It seems like he’ll arrive at our territory in a few days. Maybe we should postpone the vacation for a little while, my lord.”
“We can’t help it if a prince is coming… But is there any reason why I have to greet him?”
“Of course you have to. With all due respect, the crown prince’s health is…”
Melborn blurted out the end of his words.
It was an open secret that the crown prince’s health was in poor condition. But even if they were in Conrad Castle, mentioning such things was frowned upon, and one had to step carefully.
Fortunately, Raven was quick to pick up on things other than matters of relationships between a man and a woman.
“So if something were to happen, that Ian guy is the strongest candidate?”
“Yes, you could even consider it as a fact.”
“I see… Then… Hmm?”
Raven stopped in the middle of nodding and his expression froze. A new emperor was crowned in the eighth year of Raven’s time in the demonic army. A special treat was given with their meal for the first time, and they were able to rest for four days under the order of the new emperor.
The name of the new emperor was Geoffrey Eden Aragon.
At least, his name was Geoffrey Aragon when he was a prince.
In other words, the future emperor was not the same person whom Melborn spoke of. The most powerful crown prince candidate in the current time was not the future’s emperor.
“Are you sure his name is Ian? It’s not Geoffrey?”
“What is the name of the current crown prince?”
“His Highness the crown prince is Shio Aragon.”
Neither. It meant that neither the current crown prince, who was in poor health, nor the strongest candidate, would become emperor in the future.
Raven asked with a frown on his face.
“Do you know anything about a prince named Geoffrey?”
“I, I’m not sure…”
Melborn shook his head and turned to the other nobles. But the many nobles all shook their heads in unfamiliarity.
Raven stroked his chin. When he was Raven Valt, it didn’t matter who the emperor was, but things were different for Alan Pendragon who would soon become a duke of the empire.
Suddenly, meeting the two guests from the imperial city seemed a lot more dire.Previous Chapter Next Chapter