Elma was bustling with activity even in the morning. Doors opened here and there, and stalls were being set up in preparation for the market day. There were quite a few mercenaries who seemed to have just entered town. Since his father used to serve Elma’s lord, Baron Nobira, Raven had been to Elma several times in the past. He walked silently as he soaked in nostalgia.
Then, Jody sneakily moved closer to Raven.
“By the way… Have you decided where to go after this is over?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Well… I haven’t told Scylla and Gus yet, but I really like you. The spirit you let off yesterday… is it a magic weapon? If it is not, then you would at least need to be an official knight of a great noble. Well, whatever the case, both are great. So, if you do not have a clear destination after this, why don’t you join us?”
Raven inwardly acknowledged Jody. He was a man of both skill and keenness. Raven probed further.
“Where are you thinking of going?”
“The Pendragon Duchy.”
Raven held back an unexpected cough and asked back nonchalantly.
“Why not? I have been at this for a while, I think it is time to settle down. I heard that they are recruiting soldiers and knights on a large scale. And I have heard their soldiers receive very good treatment as well. If I cannot make it as a knight, then I’m planning to work the rest of my life quietly as a soldier there and bury my bones.”
Noticing that the other party showed little interest, Jody spoke in a huskier voice.
“Well, I’m not just telling you this for no reason. Why don’t you come with us? Any lord would welcome a Cavalier of Valvas, and you are no less than that. I am sure you will be welcome as a knight in the Pendragon Duchy. What do you think?”
“…What makes you so sure about us?”
At Raven’s question, Jody blinked his eyes a few times then answered with a grin.
“It’s a hunch. It is the intuition of a man who has survived in this field for over 10 years. Not to brag, but I’ve never been wrong about my instincts.”
“So, you have a hunch that if I go to the Pendragon Duchy, I’ll be able to become a knight?”
“Oh, never mind any regular knight, I think you can become an elite knight within a few years. When you are older, maybe you can even become the head of their knight order.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Raven nodded at Jody’s confident words, while Isla, who was listening to the conversation behind the two men, suppressed his laughter. Well, he certainly tried to, but his mouth was noticeably twitching.
After a while, Elma’s outer gate came into view.
“Huh?” Jody narrowed his eyes.
The people who were making their way to the gate stepped aside. The guards located on the left and right sides of the gate straightened their posture and got into formation.
Jody looked on in surprise when he saw the appearance of a crest on the flag. A black stallion was rearing on its hind legs under a laurel tree on the flag. Behind the flagbearer, there were four horses and around ten soldiers dressed in the same red uniform.
The merchants, residents, and even the fierce mercenaries bowed their heads and took off their hats.
“Jody, isn’t that Count Bresia’s insignia?”
Jody nodded in response to Scylla’s question and looked at the smallest person out of the four people that rode on the horses.
“Yeah. Looks like Count Bresia’s youngest daughter. I heard that she has a nasty temper… She is engaged to Baron Nobira’s eldest son, it seems like she is here to meet him. Ugh! They are coming this way. We don’t want to make any trouble, so let us move out of their way.”
The other party was the daughter of Sisak’s High Lord. If they even looked at her wrongly, they could get kicked out or even flogged. The three mercenaries quickly moved to the side of the road.
“Huh? Oh, no, what are you doing?”
Jody called out to Raven and his two companions who were still standing in the middle of the road. Then, Raven, who had been staring at the Bresia family’s insignia, slowly moved towards Jody.
“My friend, this is Sisak. If you step out of line, you might get yourself in trouble.”
Raven didn’t respond to Jody’s hushed scolding. Memories of the pain and disgrace he had suffered 10 years ago under that flag flashed through his head.
Soldrake, who felt Raven’s thoughts and emotions, grabbed onto Raven’s hand. Raven flinched and gently nodded his head.
‘Yes, this is not the right time.’
Raven took in deep breaths and calmed himself down. Then, he removed his gaze from the approaching soldiers and the crest.
Jody let out a deep sigh of relief.
In the meantime, the flagbearer passed by them, followed by the sounds of metal clanking from the fully armed soldiers. The shadows of the knights on horses also flitted by.
One shadow that was cast over the group by the morning son stood in its place, unmoving.
Jody slowly raised his head. A pretty girl with a white face and sharp eyes was looking down on the group with a cold expression.
“You, you were blocking the way just now, weren’t you? And you just looked at me with a weird expression. You dirty mercenary, it seems like you don’t know your place?”
It was a knife-like voice full of arrogance.
‘Oh, shit…' Jody’s expression darkened at the speed of light.
Sophia Bresia woke up to a bad day as soon as she opened her eyes. She was already grumpy the moment her eyes opened in an inn that was used by the common people. It made her even more grouchy when she found out that the roses for her bath were used up. But the most irritating thing of all was the fact that she had to go meet Enzo Nobira, the son of Baron Nobira.
Unlike her two older sisters, Sophia was very pretty. Moreover, since she was the youngest, she had gained all the attention and love since childhood. From an early age, it made her believe that she would marry into someplace grandiose, not a countryside like Sisak.
But everything changed with the birth of her younger brother. An heir to the family, the next Count Bresia, had been born. All the love and attention shifted to her brother.
Of course, she could understand that. As a noble lady, it was ridiculous for her to feel jealousy for the heir to her family. Her brother who was ten years younger than her, was even cute to her eyes.
But as time went by, things began to become weird. To allow her eight-year-old brother to succeed the family without being challenged, it was essential to maintain a stronger relationship with her father’s royal subjects. And to form close relationships between nobility was to form a blood relationship.
Eventually, her two sisters married off to the county’s vassal families, and Sophia became engaged to Baron Nobira’s first son last year.
Enzo Nobira was both indecisive and incompetent, in the complete likeness of Baron Nobira. Also, his body let off a weird odor.
At the thought of having to marry such a man and live in close proximity to him, Sophia often became angry and frequently cried. She endlessly vented her irritation since the engagement was set in stone. But she did not dare disobey her father, who was the cruelest and the most terrifying man she knew. It was to the degree that she felt fortunate to have received love before her younger brother was born.
However, Count Bresia had finally lost his temper at Sophia. She had not bothered to visit Baron Nobira’s territory even once after the engagement ceremony, and it infuriated him. Now, Sophia was being dragged to Elma, Baron Nobira’s territory, like a pig being taken to a slaughterhouse.
The six-day trip in the wagon was the worst six days of her life. And this morning was the most disgusting of them all.
She felt a little better after venting on her maids. But as soon as she saw the gates to Elma’s castle, which was less than half the size of her father’s castle, she felt despair once again.
She wanted to run back to Bresia, but she held her tears since she was in the presence of Sir Filmore, her father’s most trusted knight and her brother’s sword teacher. She couldn’t act rashly in front of him.
Then, another event occurred in Elma which made her anger boil even more. Everyone called her pretty, especially men. It was natural for peasants to lower their heads in front of her while stealing petty glances. Everyone had to lower themselves in front of herself, and in front of the Bresia family’s coat of arms. Obviously, this held true even in Elma.
There was a person who dared not move out of the way after seeing the banner of the High Lord. Furthermore, it was one of those mercenaries she treated like bugs. He stepped aside after a while, but she wanted to vent her frustrations, so she stared at him as her horse moved closer to him. As she was about to put the man in his place, she was forced to turn her face as the man met her gaze.
His face was a little ordinary, but his dark blue eyes were so alluring that it was awe-inspiring. But the man’s charming eyes showed a different expression from any other man. It was indifferent and calm.
Even though he dared to look at her, who was the prettiest in all of Bresia, he showed no emotion. Sophia Bresia had found a target to erupt all her anger and complaints that had built up until now.
“Why aren’t you answering? You were daring to block my way until now!”
People stared and passed on whispered judgments at Sophia’s shrill voice. As people started to shift their gazes, a solemn-faced middle-aged knight with gray hair drove his horse to Sophia’s side. He let out a sigh.
“You’re being too loud, Lady Sophia.”
“Ha! You saw it, didn’t you, Sir Filmore? This man was blocking me, no he was daring to block the way after seeing the flag of our county!”
“I’m sure he failed to see the flag initially. He has moved out of the way now, so it is fine. Why don’t we continue on our way.”
“That’s not it. Oh, look at that! Even still, he is looking at me with those wicked eyes. It’s dirty!”
Sophia pointed while tears started to form in her eyes. Filmore turned his gaze towards where she was pointing.
Filmore frowned. As Sophia had said, the man who was blocking the road until a moment ago, looked straight towards them without respectfully bowing his head. Moreover, under the shadow of the hood, the blue eyes that glowed strangely were certainly directed towards Sophia.
“This is Elma. You do not bow your head even after seeing the flag of the High Lord of Sisak. Who are you?”
Filmore’s stern face became even more solemn. But the opponent still didn’t bow. Rather, a smile hung on his mouth.
Filmore, who was called Sisak’s Orc Hunter when he was younger, became angry and his eyebrows furrowed.
“Why should I lower my head? I was not born in Sisak, and the lord I serve is not Count Bresia. Moreover, you are one of his knights, and the one beside you is his daughter, it’s not like Count Bresia himself is here.”
Filmore’s anger caused him to become dumbfounded, and he let out a flabbergasted laugh.
“You…. you dare… how dare you…”
Sophia stuttered out her words in exasperation, then let out a shrill shout.
“What are you all doing? Catch that impudent, arrogant bastard in front of me right now! Make him get down on his knees in front of me!”
A tearful roar rang out on the main street of Elma. The other three knights and soldiers came rushing in.
“J, Jody, we should…”
Scylla hurriedly pulled on Jody’s collar. But Jody shook his head with a stiff expression, and in the end, only Scylla and Gus ran into the crowd to hide. Only four people were left standing in front of the fully armed soldiers and knights of Bresia.Previous Chapter Next Chapter