The pungent smell of a pine forest flowed from the open window of the carriage. Suddenly, the forest road’s somewhat dark surroundings brightened at once, and a blue scenery filled the view.
The Alberian Sea.
Raven’s heart throbbed at the sight of the sea. He had thought that he would never see it again. The great sea surrounded half of the empire’s entire territory, and Raven had not seen the Alberian Sea in decades.
The blue sea, which stretched out endlessly in the warm sun and met the sky along the horizon, had not changed.
When he was a child, this sea was breathtaking to him.
The approaching waves brought white foam, and the coastal winds carried a salty smell that interacted with the musky pine scent. The wings of the seagulls that cut across the open sky closely resembled the color of the sea. Everything was the same as back then.
But as Raven came to reminisce about the vast ocean in front of him, he felt heartbroken. The last time he came to this very sea was with his father and brother.
For the first time in decades, he returned to his hometown and the land he spent his childhood in. He once again reminded himself of the firm resolution to correct the tragedy that had happened…
“Oh my! I think we’ve finally arrived at Silvertian Beach! Lindsay, I mean, Lady Conrad, it’s your first time here, right?”
“Y, yes! It’s my first time. This place is so beautiful.”
“Right? I think you’ll be coming here quite often with MY BROTHER AND I, so you should become familiar with it very soon. Starting here, it is the private property of our Pendragon family…”
“The previous emperor bestowed this land. When Duchess Elena married Lake Duke Gordon Pendragon, the land was given to the Pendragon family as a wedding gift from the late emperor. Come to think of it, his imperial majesty said that once I get married, he would gift me the island of Shaffrin. Your Grace Alan, do you happen to know about the island of Shaffrin?”
“Ho ho! My brother doesn’t have any recollections from before he woke up recently, so it’s his first time visiting the Pendragon villa. What do you think, brother? Will you take a walk with me along the pine tree trail that we’ve walked together when I was young?”
“Oh, that’s a good idea. It’s MY first time visiting the Pendragon villa as well. While we’re on the topic, why don’t you guide us around and give us a tour, Lady Irene?”
“Sister Luna has come with us here before, so I think it might be better to ask her for a tour, Your Highness. What do you think, Luna?”
“I don’t remember much. I’ve only been here once around ten years ago. And I’m a little tired, so…”
“Come on, Lady Irene, do me a favor. How about this, when you come to the Royal Batallium, I’ll personally show you around.”
“Brother Alan, you’re going to come with me for a walk, right?”
“Your Grace Alan, when you come to the imperial capital, I will make sure to guide you myself.”
“What? I’m going to accompany him when he goes to the imperial capital, so I’ll take care of him and make sure he properly…”
“Oh, I meant that when Lady Irene accompanies His Grace, then I will guide both of you around the…”
All the endless chatter and blather…
Raven shook his head, sighing unconsciously.
When they first left, Ian, Ingrid, and Luna took the royal family’s carriage, while members of the Pendragon family rode on their carriage.
But the next day, Elena Pendragon started showing mild symptoms of a cold and had to go into another carriage for fear of spreading the infection.
Then, Raven’s nightmare began.
Everyone had to watch themselves around Elena, and when the duchess separated from them, Ian began to insist that everyone rode on the same carriage as if he had been waiting for the opportunity. His reasoning was simple – the trip would be more enjoyable if everyone was together.
Of course, the Pendragon family’s carriage was more than big enough to fit everyone and still have a few spots leftover, but Raven vetoed the nonsensical idea.
Yet, Ian insisted on Raven’s‘ showing obligation’ to the royal family and kept up his demand.
Even Ingrid joined in on the fray and repeatedly said, “The Aragon family and Pendragon family are no strangers, I don’t see why you are against it. It makes me sad.” With the combined attack of the royal siblings, Raven couldn’t help but give in to their demands.
So from the second day, seven people, including Raven and his two sisters, Ingrid, Lindsay, Ian, and Luna, traveled in the same carriage.
Along with the joining of the two carriages, a path of hardship that endlessly tested Raven’s patience began.
‘Just a little bit more. Just a little while longer…’
Raven felt blood vessels sprouting upon his forehead and turned his eyes to the outside scenery.
[Ray, I feel a lot of mental pressure and tension. Is it because of the kids in the carriage? Do you want me to scold them for you?”]
“…You don’t have to do that, Sol.”
Raven responded to Soldrake’s words with a sigh. The White Dragon was enjoying a leisurely journey on top of the carriage.
Suddenly, someone pulled the hem of his shirt. Raven turned his head. Mia, who was sitting right next to him, was pointing her finger out of the window. Raven saw what she was pointing at, and gave an answer with a relieved smile.
“That is a bird called seagull. They only live near the sea.”
Hearing Raven’s response, Mia nodded her small head and watched the seagull with sparkling eyes. Unlike the others on this journey, his youngest sister was unspeakably cute and curious, which made him respond to her as best as he could. He stroked Mia’s tiny head.
Mia narrowed her eyes like a cat taking a nap, showing delight at Raven’s touch.
“Lord, ladies. I think we’ll be arriving at the villa soon.”
Isla announced after opening the small window that connected the horseman’s seat and the carriage.
“Thank you for your troubles, Sir Isla.”
Isla was a knight whom her brother had personally accepted, and Mia followed Isla the best after her brother, which made him favorable to Irene. Therefore, she praised his efforts with a bright voice.
“As a knight, it is my duty to serve my master and the ladies of the family. No need to praise me for that. When we arrive at the destination I will let you know.”
Isla answered in a more expressionless voice than usual, then closed the window.
Irene muttered in a small voice.
“Don’t you think Sir Isla is acting a little shy, brother?”
She was quick-witted as usual.
But Raven didn’t want to share his fun little secret with his sister, so he shook his head.
‘Well, he is a man of few words, so maybe that’s why it seems like that.”
“Is that so? Anyways, he’s brave and he’s so cool. His quiet personality makes him even more so. Of course, he’s not as cool as brother.”
Ian was about to say something, then his expression changed.
Ian had not heard Irene’s latter words because she had spoken them so quietly, but he had heard her earlier statement. He coughed and stared out the window, maintaining a somber silence.
But anyone could see that Irene had spoken purposefully.
Although no one commented on Ian’s mannerisms, they were all thinking the same thing.
The situation was quite ‘pitiful’.
“H, hey! Look at that.”
As the residents of Merlade traveled along the imperial road, they were surprised to see the carriages pass them by. The main imperial road, which had been constructed on orders by the emperor, was a passage of travel for many.
A neatly dressed soldier was holding a pure gold statue in the shape of a dragon with its wings wide open. The sight was dazzling.
“Which family is that?”
“I’m not sure…”
Most of the travelers were residents of Merlade and they could pinpoint exactly which family the statue symbolized. But they knew from its size that the family which it belonged to was no ordinary noble. They sidestepped from the road and bowed their heads.
People let out exclamations of shock at the sight of the carriage that followed, which was pulled by six horses and had a family flag that was three or four times larger than regular flags.
“G, golden lion?”
“The imperial family! There must be royalty riding in that carriage.”
“Then that dragon...”
“The Pendragon Duchy…!”
The residents finally realized the identity of the procession and bowed their backs, their noses almost touching the ground. But as soon as the first few carriages passed, people saw the figures that followed behind the procession and unwittingly took several steps back.
A group of soldiers armed with spears alongside orc warriors and griffons…
“So, the rumors were true.”
“He really did recruit orc warriors…”
The people of Merlade were not overly afraid of orcs and griffons.
Sometimes, groups of orcs came on a boat from the archipelagos to trade in the port of Leus, and there was even a lord who used sea griffons as part of his forces.
However, no lord had ever controlled more than twenty griffons at once, and no one had taken orc warriors as their soldiers.
Hence, when the rumors of Pendragon Duchy obtaining dozens of griffons and recruiting orc warriors flowed to the surrounding land, no one believed it. There was even a nonsensical rumor accompanying the initial rumors saying that Master Pendragon decimated his neighboring territory’s soldiers with the orc warriors and griffons.
But now, it seemed that the rumors were true…
The orc warriors and the griffons all wore armors with the symbol of the White Dragon, so it was clear that they belonged to the Pendragon family.
Soon after the procession passed, people straightened their backs.
“Phew! I never thought I would see both a duchy and imperial procession in my lifetime.”
“Whoa! I know right?”
Those who saw the once-in-a-lifetime sight went their separate ways while chattering about what they had seen today.
At that time, a merchant who was on their way towards Leas looked around at his colleague and tilted his head.
“By the way, haven’t there been a lot of noble families showing up in this region lately?”
“Maybe they’ve all come to the beach since it’s summer.”
“Well, that’s always been the case. I’m saying that there’s been an even bigger number of them compared to usual. A few days ago, there was news of Count Olsen Palmoa from the Palmoa territory heading to Leus… And remember what Robin said? He said he saw the Black Steel Knights near the harbor.”
“Hm… come to think of it, the second son of the Arangis Duchy, Lord Toleo Arangis entered Leus around five days ago… right?”
Merchants had access to many rumors, and so they continued their conversation in wonder.
It certainly was strange.
Count Palmoa did not have to come to Leus for vacation. His county was surrounded by the sea.
Also, the Black Steel Knights were a powerful group that ranked as one of the five strongest armed forces in the entire empire. It was uncommon for knights to appear in areas where there were no conflicts.
The strangest thing was that Toleo Arangis, the second son of the Arangis Duchy, had personally made his way with a sailboat. People from the Arangis Duchy rarely left their territory, which made the incident more noticeable.
Moreover, Toleo Arangis had brought the Blue Dragon boat, the largest sailing vessel of the Arangis family.
It indirectly implied that he had come to Leus Port to represent the Ocean King himself. Besides, other prestigious noble families or knights had also started to gather in Leus, as if they promised beforehand.
“Anyways, the more people we have, the better it is for us, isn’t that right?”
“Of course! I would like to see more people whether they be knights or pretty noble ladies. Hahaha!”
Their pondering only lasted for a short moment and they dismissed the complexity of the situation. Whatever the reason, merchants like them only stood to benefit from an influx of knights and nobles. The merchants laughed and once again hastened their steps.
The sun, which was falling from the middle of the sky, extended the shadows of the donkeys and the group of merchants.
And in that shadow, the truth slowly faded away. The truth about why famous knights and nobles were gathering in that particular place called ‘Leus’, which was near the Silvertian coast. Furthermore, it included the truth about why the Pendragon family and the royal family were headed to that particular place on their vacation...Previous Chapter Next Chapter