Chapter 65

“Ha…”

Elena opened her eyes. The dim light of the candles and lanterns flickered in the darkness. She had laid down for a short rest, but it seemed the sun had already set.

“Ah, my lady.”

The head maid, who was dozing off next to her, got up in a hurry and bowed.

“It must be night already. I’ve put you through a burden.”

Elena faintly smiled, and the maid bowed even lower, humbled by Elena’s words.

“It is my natural obligation. Here, let me change your wet towel.”

“No, I don’t think I have a fever anymore. I would like to sit for a while.”

“Of course, my lady.”

Elena took the head maid’s carefully held out hand, stood up from her large bed, and walked towards a soft chair.

“Did the children head to the banquet?”

“Yes, it has already been a couple of hours. Here you are, my lady.”

“Thank you.”

Elena sipped on tea that was good for colds, then turned her head to look out of the window. Far away, a half-moon had shown itself and created a hazy swarm of light on the sea surface. And the city at the end of the coastline was emitting a brilliant glow, as if to overshadow the loneliness of the night sea.

“I hope nothing happens…" Recalling her ill-ties with Count Sagunda, Elena murmured in a low voice.

“Don’t worry, my lady. His Grace Alan, as well as Prince Ian are all there, nothing should happen,” the head maid tried to reassure Elena.

Elena sighed even then, as if something were still tugging at her heart. At that moment, the door opened and Mia paddled over with her bunny doll and hugged her mother.

“Yes, my little girl. What are you doing this late without sleeping?”

At Elena’s smile, Mia lifted her head and beamed while pointing her finger outside the door.

“Oh my gosh!”

Elena’s eyes widened slightly.

Outside the door, a small goblin that her son brought back from his expedition was looking around awkwardly with his ears pricked up.

“What, where do you think this is, you goblin…”

The head maid frowned when she saw Kazzal. But Elena gave a warm smile before gesturing.

“It is all right. You should come in, too.”

“Kieeee.”

Kazzal knew that even the scariest Pendragon found it difficult to speak to his mother, Elena. Kazzal carefully stepped towards Elena. Mia pattered to Kazzal, took his hand, and tugged.

“Your name is Kazzal, right? Thank you for playing with my daughter. Would you like some?”

Whatever the reason, Mia loved playing with Kazzal, and Elena had personally seen the two of them getting along. Elena warmly smiled and held out a tray containing various assortment of snacks.

“T, that’s right. It’s hard for handsome Kazzal to play with the little Pendragon. I need to be thanked.”

Kazzal, with his nose high in the air, quickly swept all the cookies together and popped them into his mouth. The head maid and the other maids present all looked at Kazzal in disbelief, and upon noticing their gaze, Kazzal froze for a moment before giving Mia a cookie he was holding.

“But thanks to little Pendragon, the orc warriors can’t bother handsome Kazzal. Handsome Kazzal is thankful. Eat this.”

Mia giggled and took the cookie before nibbling on it.

Both of them were around the same height and size, and Elena burst into laughter as she saw the interaction between the two of them.

Even when she was younger, Mia had always remained silent. But she wasn’t mute. She talked in her sleep when she had nightmares. She chose not to speak deliberately. Moreover, she rarely expressed her emotions to those outside of the family, and she was always playing with her doll.

As a mother, Elena couldn’t help but worry about her youngest daughter.

However, Mia had gone through a complete change when her eldest son woke up miraculously from a coma. Even though Mia still maintained her silence, her expression of emotions had become incomparably richer and more frequent compared to the past.

It was all thanks to her son, Alan.

The role of the other creatures that her son brought home was significant as well. In particular, the unique goblin called Kazzal and the orc druid Kratul played with Mia whenever they had free time. It mostly consisted of Mia chasing around the two and the two of them giving in reluctantly, but Elena knew they didn’t have any negative emotions towards her daughter.

That’s why she felt grateful to Kazzal and Kratul.

“There’s a lot more, so eat more.”

“Kehehehe, Mother Pendragon is a nice human. Handsome Kazzal likes good people. Keehe?”

Kazzal, who was gnawing on the snacks with his small fangs, suddenly pricked up his ears and began to tremble.

“Huh? What’s wrong all of a sudden?”

“D….d..dragon. Dragon is coming.”

As soon as Kazzal finished speaking, the window opened wide and someone burst in.

“Soldrake…”

Everyone was surprised at the sudden, abnormal visit from Soldrake. As Soldrake looked around in indifference, the head maid and the other maids stepped back with their heads bowed. Even though they had seen Soldrake several times recently, it was still hard for ordinary humans to face a dragon.

Soldrake walked over and sat beside Elena who had her eyes wide open in shock. Kazzal shuddered and hid behind Mia. Elena quickly regained her composure and looked at Soldrake. The white dragon, who had taken on the form of a human, was truly mysterious and beautiful under the dim light.

Once upon a time, Elena had seen Soldrake take this form when her husband, Gordon Pendragon, was still alive. The dragon was much more beautiful than the Niels’ elves, and wandered through fields alone with her husband.

No one could hear the two of them speak, not even her, his wife. Shock, and an unspeakable jealousy had consumed then and she had been distressed for many days.

‘I was young…’

She was surprised when the dragon contracted with her son and reappeared in human form. The jealousy she had felt in the past sprung up again for an instant.

But not anymore. She had felt it when her husband was still alive, and now she knew for certain. The emotion that was contained in the dragon’s eyes when she looked at her husband and son — it was a fond longing.

Soldrake looked at the two of them with two eyes that painted a distant past unbeknownst to anyone else. As a young bride in love, Elena had misunderstood the emotion as love between man and woman.

Elena, who had given up on those thoughts long ago, spoke to Soldrake, who stared back into her eyes.

“Do you have something to say to me?”

Soldrake wordlessly stretched out her hand outside the window and waved her fingers from side to side.

“Ah…!”

Elena’s pupils shook.

A long time ago, when her husband was alive, Soldrake had performed the same gesture.

“Mia, don’t leave mother’s side. Head maid, bring all the employees of the villa into this room.”

“Yes, my lady.”

The head maid noticed the tension in the atmosphere and quickly carried out Elena’s orders. Soon, dozens of men and women walked into the room.

The presence of the duchess, as well as Soldrake, made them behave extremely cautiously.

“I’ve gathered everyone, my lady.”

Elena stood up after hearing the head maid’s anxious words.

“Listen up, everybody. Something big may happen here today. Whatever happens, maintain your calm, and never leave this room.”

The vibe from the duchess, which was always calm and gentle, was quite different than usual. People felt more nervous and afraid as they noticed the change. But her next words calmed their anxious hearts.

“This is the Pendragon’s villa. The companion of my son, and the guardian of the Pendragon family is with us. No one can touch a single hair on our family’s people on this land. So, all you need to do is trust me and stay here with me.”

“We follow your orders!”

The confidence and dignity of the Pendragon family’s duchess caused the employees to become united in their hearts as they bowed their heads.

***

“Kuuk! Orcs, get ready.”

In the absence of Karuta, Kratul had taken on the role of leader, so the Ancona Orcs came forward with their weapons on his command. The red eyes of the orc warriors shone savagely in the darkness.

“Light up the torches! Everyone, prepare for battle!”

The one who had spoken wasn’t a knight, but he had become a local magistrate after the expedition a few months ago in recognition of his contributions. His name was Ridley McKidd, the young soldier who had told Raven that he would fight for the Pendragon family even though he was injured on their way to reclaim the mausoleum.

The soldiers moved busily at Ridley’s command. Soon, a hundred torches lit up one after another, lighting up the White Dragon Villa. The shields were set up about 30 steps away from the main gate, and soldiers were armed with spears and crossbows.

“It’s just as His Grace said. Are there no problems with the orc warriors, friend?”

“Keke, worry about your scarecrow soldiers. Tonight, the Ancona Orcs finally get to have fun.”

Orc Fear surged from Kratul and the orc warriors. It was a terrifying spirit that had caused the soldiers to shiver when they first faced it. But now, the Ancona Orcs were their friends, and their allies.

Ridley felt reassured by the orcs’ spirit and lifted his head. Dozens of flitting shadows moved under the moonlight. Several creatures settled down on top of the tower and on the villa’s roof after circling the air.

“The griffons are here,” announced Ridley.

The soldiers nodded their heads. Even though Isla wasn’t present, the griffons would follow Soldrake’s orders to intercept the enemy on their own.

“Here they come! Twenty creatures presumed to be griffons! And… orcs! It’s orcs! They are all differently armed!”

“They must be the pirates from the islands as His Grace mentioned. Arm the crossbows!”

The crossbows had been modified to be able to penetrate steel plates from a distance of up to 100 yards. Quarrels were hung on the newly improved crossbows.

The flames of the torches fluttered in the sea breeze that blew from somewhere amidst the tense silence.

Pendragon’s griffons let out a long cry, breaking the silence. They formed into groups and flew up into the air.

Boom!

A roaring blast blew off the main gate which was made from metal bars. As soon as Ridley spotted the shadows entering the villa, he shouted without delay.

“Fire!”

Wooooosh!

The quarrels ripped through the night air, and Kratul smashed down hard on the ground with his staff and raised his voice.

“Orrrrrrrrrrcccc!”

“Kuwaaaaahahahh!”

The Ancona Orcs roared as they faced other orcs for the first time in their lives. Their longing for blood and battle echoed into the cold sea breeze.

***

The inside of the fast carriage was silent.

Irene, Lindsay, and Luna looked at Karuta and Raven without a word. As soon as they boarded the carriage, Raven and Karuta had armed themselves with the armors and weapons they brought from the villa, but they looked calm.

Luna, in particular, didn’t hide her surprise as she looked at Raven.

‘He looked seriously hurt...’

Shortly after the duel, she had clearly seen him vomit blood several times with a pale complexion. However, after they parted ways with the knight of Count Sagunda and boarded the carriage, his complexion quickly became better, and now, he looked no different than when he was on his way to the banquet.

‘Is this the dragon’s power?”

That was probably it. From generation to generation, the Dukes of Pendragon had often shown mysterious abilities and indescribable power.

A small window opened through the horseman’s seat.

“Lord, I think it will begin soon.”

“Good, are you all right?”

“I have warmed up.”

“Keuk! Karuta still hasn’t even warmed up. Let’s fight quickly.”

Raven nodded at Isla and Karuta’s words. He had worried for no reason. Raven turned his eyes to the three ladies and spoke.

“There is going to be a minor issue. It’ll be over soon, so just lock the carriage door and stay still.”

“Y, yes, your grace.”

“Okay, brother.”

The two ladies nodded eagerly to Raven’s instructions. Luna nodded quietly as well with a quaint sense of relief.

Thud!

A light vibration was felt from outside the carriage.

‘It’s an arrow.’

The Pendragon family carriage was specially designed to withstand damage. A simple arrow couldn’t even leave a scratch.

“Okay Karuta, here we go. Let’s go out.”

“Kurruuu…”

Karuta could not wait any longer. As soon as Raven finished speaking, the bloodthirsty orc burst out the door. Raven met each of the three ladies’ gazes, then immediately followed behind.

The coolness of the night sea breeze greeted Raven. As the wind swept his hair, Raven observed his surroundings with cold eyes. In the darkness, dozens of men, large and small, were slowly approaching.

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