Chapter 69

Raven gazed in silence at Luna, who had tears in her eyes and a mixed expression. He quickly turned away.

“I think that answers the question. I have a lot of work to do, so I will take my leave. See you tomorrow.”

He could feel Luna’s gaze burn his back, but he disregarded it and walked away from the octagonal pavilion. As Raven passed by the tree that had bristled a moment ago, he stopped for a moment and spoke in a low voice.

“The same goes for you, Princess Ingrid.”

Shuffle.

Another sound was heard and Raven continued talking.

“The Pendragon family is not a servant of the royal family like the other nobles. And I don’t need the power of the emperor and the royal family. I have no responsibilities or obligations to my ex-fiancée, even if they are a princess. We haven’t spent any time together, and we haven’t built any trust. So, please stop trying to do away with me using status and power. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Raven finished speaking, and as he was about to walk away, a quiet, trembling voice spoke from behind the tree.

“…I see. Yes, please see how it turns out.”

“……”

It was a different reaction from what he had expected, but he continued walking without giving a response.

Silence overtook the garden after Raven’s departure.

One girl stood still with her back against the pond, another girl leaned against a tree while biting her lips.

A grasshopper’s song disturbed the awkward silence.

“Ha…”

Letting out a long sigh, Ingrid came out from behind the tree. Luna flinched at the sight of Ingrid. But then she took on a bitter smile and bent her knees slightly towards Ingrid.

“Did you enjoy the banquet, Your Highness?”

“You’re asking such a question when you already know everything. You can be quite mischievous, Lady Seyrod.”

“I don’t think you should be the one to say that after listening on to my story behind a tree, Your Highness.”

Ingrid was a little taken back. It was the first time she heard Luna talk like this, as she was always calm and polite.

But somehow, Ingrid preferred this version to the overly polite one. Maybe she felt a weird sense of companionship.

The two girls stared at the moonlit pond in silence.

Then suddenly, Ingrid bowed down to the ground.

“Princess Ingrid…?”

Luna called out Ingrid’s name in confusion. Then her eyes grew wide open.

“Ieyah!”

The princess, the one who had always maintained her elegance and composure, began throwing stones picked up from the ground into the pond.

With a clear sound, the moon's image reflecting in the pond was disturbed. Then Ingrid proceeded to pick up a few more stones and held it out to Luna.

“Lady Seyrod, you should try it too. Pretend that the moon’s reflection is the person you’re thinking about right now.”

“……”

Luna silently stared at the stone in her hand for a moment, then raised her head. The two girls exchanged a smile with their eyes, then threw their stones into the pond at the same time.

The sound of grasshoppers chirping and stones hitting water blended harmoniously.

“I do not know how you feel, but I think I have come to like his Grace Pendragon even more after tonight. Hupf!”

Ingrid said casually while continuing to throw stones.

Luna didn’t respond to Ingrid’s comment and kept throwing stones into the pond. Ingrid turned her head slightly.

Alan Pendragon’s former fiancée, no, someone who might become her rival, Luna Seyrod - there was a faint smile on her mouth that Ingrid had never seen before, and it made Luna look brighter and more beautiful than ever before.

***

“Feed all the dead bodies to the griffons, whether they are griffons or orcs.”

“Yes, my lord.”

Raven ordered Isla to clean up the rest, then headed back to his room.

An expected guest was leaning comfortably on a chair and breathing out smoke from a gold pipe. It was Ian.

“You may leave now.”

Raven took a seat opposite to Ian as the maids bowed their heads and left.

“Would you like a smoke? I don’t remember who gave it to me, but I got it from the banquet. It’s quite nice.”

“I’m okay. By the way, how was your side of things?”

“As planned. I pretended to be drunk and quietly brought up the story about Shio. It was quite a sight, actually.”

Ian killed the cigarette with his fingers, then continued with a giggle.

“It would have been okay if he showed a little bit of surprise or a sign of discomfort, but he pretended to be genuinely concerned. Then he introduced me to a bunch of nobodies and silently snuck away…”

“It’s certain then.”

“Yes, I’m sure. He’s connected to the person who was responsible for attacking Shio.”

Ian was still smiling, but his eyes were fierce.

“It’s a shame by the way. By now, he should have realized that his plan was completely destroyed. I would like to see his face.”

“I’ll let you see that face within this year.”

Raven said in a dry voice as he clinked his glass with Ian. It wasn’t just a promise to Ian, but a pledge to himself as well.

“I trust you, Alan Pendragon. So, you will be leaving tomorrow as planned?”

“Sagunda will become even more confused and won’t be able to judge my condition. The testimonies of the mercenaries who attacked will confound him even more.”

“Haha! You’re quite sly, aren’t you.”

“I would prefer it if you called it for what it is. It’s called having a plan.”

“Hahaha!”

Ian couldn’t help but laugh with satisfaction at Raven’s reply. Certainly, Alan Pendragon’s tricks, no, plans were outstanding.

The severely injured Alan Pendragon after a grueling duel with Toleo Arangis, managed to fend off hired mercenaries with ease. Then without any announcement or laying blame on Sagunda, he would go back to his territory tomorrow.

Anyone would assume that he was hurrying back because of his injuries. That would surely complicate Sagunda’s thoughts. He would have been already briefed by the mercenaries that were alive, and would scramble to make a plan in his panicked state.

Perhaps the first thing he would do is send his doctor in the morning to find out Alan Pendragon’s exact condition. But no one would be at the villa tomorrow morning.

“Sagunda, he’s going to be blowing his brains out all day tomorrow.”

“He’ll be perplexed that everything is going against his expectations. Moreover, I’ll have left for the Pendragon territory, and you’ll be on your way to the Royal Batallium. He’s placed in an unfavorable position with his targets having suddenly disappeared. He won’t be able to make calculations all on his own.”

“That’s why Sagunda will contact his friend or whoever it is that stands behind him. The enemies of Shio and I… The enemies of the empire.”

Ian’s eyes started to flare up and the Spirit of the Emperor began to exude from his body naturally.

“Don’t become flustered, Ian Aragon. Tomorrow is when it really begins. Don’t let your guard down until the very end. You have to be faithful to your role, and I to mine.”

Ian’s spirit disappeared completely at Raven’s warning.

“Hoo… Somehow I feel like you can be more mature than I sometimes. I got it. As planned, I’ll accept some of the high-ranking nobles’ invitations on my way back to the Royal Batallium. And I’ll continue to talk about the Sisak incident from three years ago as well as about Shio.”

“And that’ll cause Sagunda and the hidden figures to focus all their attention on you.”

“Kukuet! Of course. That way, our marvelous Alan Pendragon can quietly sneak into Sisak and work his magic.”

“If you think that’ll be more comfortable, we can change roles right now.”

“Hahaha! How could I do that? I’m already too well known because of my handsome face.”

Raven smirked instead of answering.

But Ian’s words were valid.

Apart from ordinary citizens, many nobles and knights already recognized Ian’s face. Besides, he wasn’t a good actor and would probably get recognized by the people in Sisak because of the incident three years ago.

It was different for Raven. If he disguised himself just a little, no one would recognize him.

“Good, good. But are you going to go with only three of you?”

Ian still seemed to be bothered.

“Isla and I, plus Soldrake. That is enough. Any more would just be luggage. Even mercenaries usually operate in groups of three or four.”

“Hmm., you might really cause a large scene this time.”

Ian kept on snickering. He had been thoroughly impressed by the swordsmanship of Isla and Alan Pendragon.

Ian himself was well versed in imperial swordsmanship and spearmanship. He had encountered loads of royal and prestigious knights in the Royal Batallium, but the two men’s skills weren’t any weaker.

Instead, Ian thought that maybe in 10 years, the two men might become one of the ten strongest people in the empire. They were still young, after all.

But in addition to these two people, a humanified dragon would be tagging along.

She was a monster who spewed out Aura Blade with her bare hands. Only four humans had ever wielded Aura Blade in the empire’s history.

“You’re not going to destroy Sisak or anything, right?”

“More, if it’s necessary.”

He was Alan Pendragon and Raven Valt. He would do anything to punish those that caused his family to be dishonored and put to death. He had suffered for ten long years waiting for this moment.

“Haha… good, very good.”

Ian rose from his chair after taking another sip of wine.

“I’ll see you again at the end of the year in the imperial city. Alan Pendragon, I look forward to hearing interesting news.”

“Of course.”

Ian smiled maliciously at Raven.

“Ingrid will be looking forward to it as well. Even though she’s my sister, I’ve never seen her like this either.”

“If it’s about that… never mind.”

Raven was about to reply but then shook his head with a sigh.

He had already dealt with this matter in the garden earlier.

Ian kept giggling as he walked towards the door, then turned his head as if he remembered something.

“But what are you going to do about that guy, Vincent Ron?”

“I’m sorry, but right now, I have nothing to say about him. You need to trust me.”

Raven couldn’t let anyone else know about the true identity of Vincent of the Gray Sunset for now. Raven planned to take him as one of his own, but nothing was for sure. In addition, Ian likely knew about the Tower of Twilight, as he was of royal status.

Most walked the ‘righteous road’ quietly, but a small number of masters from the Twilight Tower chose to wreak nightmares and catastrophes in the empire. There was no need to raise Ian’s alertness right now.

“Hmm, if you say so, then I’ll take your word for it.”

Ian had come to trust Alan Pendragon as much as his bloodline. Even though he felt that he was missing out on something essential, Ian shrugged and left.

“……”

Raven was finally left alone. He stood silently in place and looked out the windows. Raven stared at Leus, which was still brightly lit. He smiled as he gazed into the direction of Count Sagunda’s mansion.

“You must be fuming with anger by now, little rat. Whether it’s Toleo, or the Ocean King… or whether it’s someone I don’t know about. You better run back to them quickly. The real fun starts tomorrow.”

With a cold, twisted smile, Raven raised his glass in the air.

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