Chapter 86

Alan Pendragon, who seemed to only be around twenty, was too meticulous. Under imperial law, the High Lords who ruled on behalf of the emperor could not sign treaties with each other.

This was because all territories in the empire technically belonged to the royal family.

However, the Pendragon Duchy was an exception, and the same would hold true for the Ramelda family once Prince Ian officially bestowed the title of Viscount onto Derek Ramelda and declared him ruler over an independent territory.

Ultimately, it meant that there were no restrictions on the two families forming an alliance with each other, both militaristically and economically. That would leave many territories to be sandwiched between the Ramelda family and the Pendragon family. The pressure felt by the other High Lords would be beyond imagination, especially if 50 griffons were sent to the Ramelda family as support. They would not be able to act rashly.

‘What an incredible person. I thought he was less than twenty… How could he think so far ahead?’

Unlike his solemn expression, Derek Ramelda was surprised and praised the young man in his mind. Alan Pendragon had already proven himself a stronger knight than Ramelda through his swordsmanship, but now he was showing his potential as a great strategist as well.

Considering Pendragon’s age, Ramelda shuddered at the thought of the young man’s endless potential. At the same time, he made up his mind to grab onto this opportunity regardless of the cost.

“I will do my best to carry out your will, your grace.”

A pleased smile hung around Raven’s mouth as he looked at the two men bow deeply once again.

***

The turbulent day passed, and the morning sun shone on the abandoned monastery. From early in the morning, Derek Ramelda, his son, and his two nephews worked busily.

They had to clean up after yesterday’s battle, and there was the issue with paying the mercenaries as well. The mercenaries and Sisak’s soldiers had helped with gathering the bodies and cleaning up the battlefield, so they were able to finish in a relatively short period of time.

However, an unexpected problem rose from the group of mercenaries.

“Oh, I don’t need it. Just let me work for your father instead of the payment.”

“Derek, no, Lord Ramelda. You know my skills, right? If you take me in, I’ll do whatever you ask me to.”

More than half of the mercenaries, with the exception of five or six people who died in the battle, were acting stubborn, saying that they wanted to work for Ramelda. They declined the promised payment.

“Ha…”

Derek Ramelda felt dumbfounded, but he could understand their intentions.

It must have been due to Alan Pendragon’s words yesterday. The Ramelda family would soon become masters over territory that would be bestowed personally by Prince Ian.

The combined territories of Toro, Moncha, and the surrounding area was by no means small. Moreover, with a future duke and a royal prince as the backers, the territory was sure to flourish and develop in a short period of time.

But right now, they were lacking in soldiers to defend the territory.

For the mercenaries, this was the golden opportunity that they had only ever dreamt of. Perhaps they would even get a chance to become a knight.

“What should we do, father?”

“Well… Let’s separate those that want to stay behind and have them stand by. However the situation has changed, they remained loyal and chose to fight alongside us.”

“Yes!”

Leo and his two cousins started to relay Derek Ramelda’s words to the mercenaries. The three young men had been inwardly worried about the Ramelda family’s future.

And when it was around time for breakfast, two sides were clearly divided – those that wanted to leave after receiving payment, and those that wanted to stay behind.

“Then, Sir Ramelda. Let me know if anything happens. I want to stay, but I still have many places I would like to visit.”

“Thank you very much. Whenever you stop by, I’ll make sure to buy you a drink.”

The men of the Ramelda family thanked the departing mercenaries several times. Derek Ramelda saw off the mercenaries as they disappeared into the distance, then turned around.

Then as he looked over the mercenaries that decided to stay, a particular sight caused his eyes to glow with curiosity. Ramelda had met the eyes of Jody and his companions as he was looking at the group.

“Are you also choosing to stay in our territory?”

Naturally, that would not be the case, but Ramelda asked anyways.

As expected, Jody shook his head with an awkward smile.

“No, Sir Ramelda. It’s just that… I have a little business with his Grace Pendragon…”

“I had thought as much. I will pass on the message to his Grace Pendragon.”

“For real?”

Jody and his companions became delighted, and Jody nodded with a faint smile. Jody’s party had done their part in the battle yesterday, and they had accompanied Alan Pendragon when he hid his identity.

Like he had done so, they could also use their relationship with him as a chance. A moment later, Derek Ramelda returned from talking to Alan Pendragon and spoke to Jody.

“His grace said to come in.”

“Thank you very much.”

Jody and the other two people expressed their gratitude to Derek Ramelda then hurried to the front of the monastery. After finally arriving in front of the place where Raven and Soldrake were staying, the three people paused and looked around at each other for a moment.

They could not act the same way as they had yesterday. They were dealing with none other than one of the five great duchies of the empire.

Alan Pendragon was someone that did not need to bow to anyone except the emperor and the crown prince. He was truly someone outside of their league.

But they had carelessly joked in front of such a person and even started arguments with him…

Jody had treated Raven the best out of the three, but the other two felt endless regret for their previous behaviors. Gus had repeatedly talked and joked around about threatening to kill, while Scylla kept trying to seduce the two men.

It was to the degree that the two could not get an ounce of sleep the night before.

“What are you doing? Come in.”

A voice was heard from inside the room at that moment, and the three people opened the door very carefully.

“W, we greet your Grace Pendragon.”

The three people gulped and hurriedly bowed as they came face to face with Alan Pendragon, Soldrake, and Isla. Alan had returned to his original appearance, and Isla was standing behind Alan and Soldrake.

Soldrake’s spirit, in particular, was hard for the three people to face even though they were experienced mercenaries. Raven nodded lightly to Soldrake with an apologetic look, and Soldrake silently walked into the bedroom.

The three people managed to lift their heads once Soldrake was gone.  After seeing Alan’s faint smile, they moved forward cautiously until they came to stand in front of him.

“Why are you all so stiff? You can be as comfortable as before.”

“W, we wouldn’t dare to do that.”

The three quickly shook their heads.

“Is that so? Then do whatever you want. Anyways, what do you need from me?”

Raven had already guessed their intentions, but he still feigned ignorance. Jody gulped loudly, then bowed his head after sharing a glance with the other two.

“F, forgive us for our rudeness from before. We made a mistake without knowing your true identity, please.”

“Hahahahaha!”

Jody had practiced the speech several times last night. When Alan interrupted his speech with laughter, he looked up in puzzlement. After Alan Pendragon burst out into an innocent laughter that was befitting his appearance, he waved his hand at the three people.

“If it’s about that, you don’t have to worry about it. Thanks to you, my journey here was not boring at all. Now, why don’t you sit down and relax?”

“What? Ah, yes…”

The three were taken back by the unexpected response, but they obeyed Alan’s words and slowly sat down in the chairs.

“Well, you were there yesterday, so I don’t have to explain the reason for hiding my identity, right?”

“Yes, of course.”

Jody quickly nodded. He would not dare to question the decision that was made by the royal prince in order to find out the truth about the incident three years ago.

“Well, truth to be told, I feel a little sorry that I dragged you three into the mess.”

“Oh no! Please don’t say such things. We’re just glad that we did not cause trouble for your grace as you helped the prince with important matters.”

Raven frowned slightly as Jody kept bowing his head in a timid matter.

“This is not much fun. Jody, I think you were better off when you did not know who I was.”

“Yes? Uh…”

Jody froze and became baffled at Raven’s joke. Raven smirked and continued.

“I told you before, right? It’s rather uncomfortable for me to have you behave excessively courteously. That means you three do not have to be so stoical in front of me. I don’t know what you think, but I don’t think of you three as strangers.”

“Ah…”

The eyes of the three people filled with emotion.

A person who was as high as the heavens was treating them heartily, the three of them, who were nothing but petty second, third-class mercenaries.

“By the way, Scylla.”

“Ye, yes? Hiccup!”

The sudden call shocked Scylla.

“For a woman who wanted to meet me so badly, your face seems rather puffy today. I thought you were going to doll yourself up?”

“T, t, that’s…”

Unlike her usual outspoken personality, Scylla stuttered her words with a face that was as red as a beet. When she thought back to all the things she had said to him over the past several days, she wanted to crawl into a rat hole.

‘Oh my God! My mouth is the problem! But he really is as good-looking as they say. How does he have fairer skin than me as a man?”

Even though she was embarrassed and nervous, Scylla kept stealing glances at Raven’s face. Then their gazes met, and she immediately dropped her head as even her ears turned a shade of red.

“What about you, Gus? You said that you were going to cut off my neck?”

“…Heuk!”

Gus had been anxiously waiting for his turn to come, and when it did, he let out a strange groan.

“Tsk, tsk! With that sort of courage, how are you going to slit the throat of a duchy’s master? I’m quite disappointed…”

“Well, it’s… I, Heuk!”

Gus became so scared that he poured out sweat and kept making strange sounds.

“Haha! I’m kidding. It’s just a joke. I feel bad that I shocked you so much. Now, Jody, why don’t you tell me your real purpose. Stop telling me how sorry you are and get to the main point.”

“Ye, yes.”

Jody spoke in a nervous voice after wiping off the sweat on his forehead.

“With all due respect, please take us in, your grace.”

“Hmm…”

Raven narrowed his eyes.

“We will sacrifice our lives to be your hands and feet. We will do whatever it takes, so please take us back to the Pendragon Duchy.”

“How about you two. Does he speak for all of you?”

Gus and Scylla frantically bowed their heads in response.

“Ye, yes! We decided to follow Jody. Please take us in.”

“Please give us a chance to make up for our disrespect towards you, your grace.”

“Okay, let’s do that.”

“What?

Jody became startled at Raven’s quick response. But then he quickly realized his mistake and his face became flushed. Raven responded nonchalantly.

“We will set off as soon as everything is tidied up here. Is there anything else you wanted to talk to me about?”

“N, no there isn’t…”

“Okay, then you may go.”

“Ah, yes…”

The three people quickly got up from their seats and carefully walked to the door.

“P, please have a peaceful rest.”

They still could not believe the situation, but they bowed their heads and closed the door.

There was silence in the room as soon as the three mercenaries disappeared. Raven suddenly turned his head to Isla.

“You’re not going to ask why I’m doing this?”

“It’s my lord’s decision, so it’s right.”

Raven let out a laugh at the comment that was truly befitting of Isla.

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