Of course, strictly speaking, the Pendragon Duchy was regarded as an independent state, so the royal family did not interfere with minor matters.
However, the first lady of the Pendragon family in its founding was the emperor’s sister, which solidified the relationship between the Pendragon family and the royal family. And since the emperor was considered the master of the empire and a relative of the Pendragon family, the successors of the Pendragon family had to receive the emperor’s approval in order to officially inherit the title of duke.
Moreover, Alan Pendragon had been unconscious for a long period of time. It was only appropriate to visit the emperor to give his greetings.
“I am sure His Majesty will be very pleased. Most of all, I have heard that His Majesty was angered a great deal by the involvement of the Arangis Duchy in the matter of the treasonous case.”
“No action has been taken yet because of insufficient evidence, but the imperial army might commence an attack on the Arangis Duchy. Rumor has it that two imperial legions have been moved to the port closest to the islands. If Your Grace heads over to the imperial castle and reports the truth behind this incident…”
Raven calmly continued as Count Seyrod trailed off.
“There will be war. The Arangis family has their hands deep in the attempted assassination of the crown prince.”
Count Seyrod nodded with a somber expression.
Conflicts between lords and wars against monsters were common occurrences, but a real war initiated by the emperor’s decree had not been fought for decades. However, an attempted assassination of the crown prince was a severe matter, and the matter escalated even further once it involved one of the five duchies of the emperor.
Depending on the Arangis family’s response, a major war involving tens of thousands of troops could break out. And the key to all this was held by the Pendragon family, who had the traitor named Ruv Tylen in their captivity.
‘It’s a good thing I sent Tylen ahead to the duchy.’
Raven had called some griffons and sent Ruv Tylen ahead just as a precautionary measure. Raven and his companions had purposefully traveled on horses to find out various things while going through the other great territories.
“I have heard that the Duke of Arangis is a perceptive, cold-hearted man. I do not know if he will escalate this matter very quickly.”
“I agree. I also think that war is not going to break out so easily.”
Count Seyrod continued.
“The bravery and the strength of the imperial army goes without saying, but the troops of the Arangis Duchy are also very formidable. But, if things do go south, it is highly likely that His Imperial Majesty will ask for the Pendragon family’s cooperation.”
Raven had a stiff expression and did not answer, but he was also thinking along the same lines.
Befitting their nickname of “Ocean King”, the Arangis Duchy was the absolute ruler of the south and had a large army of over 10,000 soldiers with a strong naval force. In addition, they had a powerful unit consisting of sea griffons.
Above all else, just as the Pendragon family had a contract with Soldrake, the Arangis family had the Sea Dragon, Biskra. However, the Arangis family did not share a close relationship with their dragon. Rather, it was only a cooperative relationship and Biskra controlled his own territory in the Sea of Death.
But, if a war broke out, it was clear that Biskra would stand on the Arangis family’s side, and one could not face a dragon unless they had hundreds of large monsters or a dragon of their own.
In other words, if the imperial army was to confront the Arangis family, they needed a being to face off the Sea Dragon Biskra, and that role was to be played by Soldrake.
“If that is what the emperor wants, then that is what we will do. That is the Pendragon family’s obligation.”
That was why the previous emperors tolerated a family that had such a powerful being as their guardian. Usually, the duchy was left to its own devices. Even if they got into disputes with the surrounding territories, the emperor stayed silent.
It was because Soldrake, the dragon of the Pendragon family, would be a great help when the security of the empire was at stake. And that was also why Ian had asked Raven if the Pendragon Duchy was still loyal to the royal family.
“Anyways, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the whole situation rests on your hands, Your Grace. Please think of it as more than just an old man’s ramblings.”
“Of course. I am grateful for your advice.”
Raven responded with sincerity. Then, a heavy silence occupied the room with the thought of war on mind. But after a while, Count Seyrod got up from his seat with a gentle smile.
“I think we dwelled on a heavy topic for too long. As I get older, I worry more and more… All right, I will get going. Luna, I will send someone as soon as the banquet is ready, so you can bring His Grace along with you.”
Luna had started to get up from her seat along with her father, then she stopped and nodded.
“See you at the banquet hall, then.”
Raven gave a light salute to Count Seyrod who left the building along with his servants. Soon, only Raven and Luna were left in the room. Luna calmed her breathing in the awkward silence and reached out for the porcelain kettle.
“I will go reheat the tea.”
Raven lightly shook his head as he sat down.
“That’s enough tea.”
Raven inwardly scoffed while looking at Luna, who had a nervous expression.
‘You should have just gone with him. I feel like I’m sitting on a bed of thorns.’
He was reminded of the conversation he had with her at the villa as he saw her sitting rather modestly. He thought maybe he had been a little too harsh with her, but he did not regret it. If he did not draw the line clearly the first time, he didn’t know what might happen in the future. He had too many things to worry about and too many goals to achieve that he could not afford to think about women.
“…You do not seem to have changed much.”
Luna spoke after a long silence, then Raven answered in a calm voice.
“Really? Lady Seyrod seems to have changed a little.”
Luna raised her head and spoke while staring straight at Raven.
“It is because of what a certain someone told me. I thought that I would have to change if I wanted to build up trust from nothing.”
Raven was at a loss for words at her resolute response. Even though Raven was quite dull in such matters, he knew what she was talking about.
An even more awkward silence took place. On the surface, Raven had an indifferent and cold expression, but he wanted nothing more than to leave this awkward meeting as quickly as possible. Fortunately, someone knocked on the door at that moment.
“Your Grace Pendragon, Lady Luna, the banquet is ready.”
“Okay. Let us go.”
Raven rose from his seat with an inwardly sigh of relief.
“Are you planning on leaving tomorrow?”
“I’m afraid so. I only stopped by to give my greetings to Count Seyrod.”
“Then I will pack up as soon as the banquet is finished.”
“Well... there is no need for you to come with us…”
“I am going.”
Raven shrugged his shoulders at Luna’s determined answer. Meanwhile, Isla, Leo, and Jody came down from the stairs.
“Hoo, it is much better to look at.”
Raven complimented the bunch that had changed from their traveling clothes into neat, casual clothing.
“I am glad that my lord likes it. But I feel the most comfortable when I am wearing my armor.”
“I feel the same way, Isla. By the way, are Sophia and Scylla not ready yet?”
“I, I am coming down.”
Sophia hurriedly came down the stairs while holding the hem of her skirt, then stood beside Leo with an embarrassed expression. Due to her pretty face, her appearance was quite elegant even though she was wearing a dress that was quite plain. But Raven only spared a brief glance at Sophia before asking.
“What about Scylla? Is she not ready yet?”
“How could that be, my lord? As soon as we unpacked, she rushed straight in to take a bath and to put on makeup. That’s never happened in her life befor…”
“Hey! Are you courting death?”
Gus grinned and started to make a remark when he was interrupted by a sharp voice from the top of the stairs. Raven made a strange expression and Jody said with a sly smile.
“It’s because she is embarrassed. Hey, you little girl! I heard that you bought clothes and jewelry to show off to His Grace! Come down quickly.”
“Oh, I got it…”
Scylla walked down the stairs while speaking in a hesitant voice.
Raven narrowed his eyes. Scylla seemed to be a different person in her fancy red dress. The dress fit tight over her body and showed off her voluptuous, sensual body, but it did not look vulgar. Rather, the simple earrings that adorned her ears matched the complexion of her skin, and combined with her shy look, she looked rather cute.
“H, how is it, Your Grace?”
Raven burst into laughter at Scylla’s shyness, her usual vivacity nowhere to be found.
“Very nice. The knights from the Seyrod family will go head over heels.”
“If they see the muscle hidden in the dress, they might go head over heels to challenge you to a duel…”
“I might really just kill you. Don’t even pretend to know me at the banquet hall.”
Scylla growled at Gus, then grabbed onto Jody’s arm.
“Hey, are you being serious?” Gus responded.
“I seem to be lucky today. As expected, a person should always be good to others,” Jody chimed in. He was all smiles while Gus had a crestfallen expression.
Then, the sound of someone coming down the stairs was heard once more. Everyone knew who the footsteps belonged to, and they all turned their heads towards the staircase.
Sighs and exclamations were heard. Raven also opened his mouth slightly without realizing it.
Soldrake had a sky-blue dress and a breastplate on top of the dress. She looked unbelievably mysterious and elegant. Moreover, her forehead gleamed as the jewels reflected the light, which added to her exquisite looks. After coming down the stairs, Soldrake walked over to Raven and took her place beside him. Sophia and Scylla were discouraged by the two people’s perfect chemistry.
‘She is unbeatable…’
‘I will have to stay as far away as possible if I want to get my money’s worth.’
The two girls quickly moved their steps outside where the servants were waiting.
“Let us go, Your Grace.”
Luna, on the other hand, looked calm and had no change in expression. It was as if she did not care much for Raven and Soldrake’s perfectly matching looks.
“Let us go.”
Raven glanced at Soldrake while slowly following behind Luna.
“See, I’m right, aren’t I? Luna Seyrod is not interested in me.”
Soldrake intently stared back at Raven.
[I have learned one more thing recently from Ray.]
“Hmm? What are you talking about?”
Raven felt uneasy at Soldrake’s response and asked once more.
[That there are stupid humans who are even worse than dragons at figuring out other humans’ hearts.]
The stupid human paused for a moment as Soldrake and Luna walked on ahead of him.
Even though it was a sudden visit, the banquet was held in great success with most of the lords and the nobles from nearby lands participating.
“That’s him! That’s His Grace Pendragon!”
“My God! To think that I would see a dragon in my life!”
Naturally, the center of attention was Raven and Soldrake.
However, most of them had to be satisfied with looking at the two from afar, as they exuded auras that made it hard to approach them. Their other companions also received great attention.
In particular, Isla, who became famous for his duel with the orc in Leus, received more attention than he had ever gotten in his life before. Women, rather than men, and especially those that were nearing the age of marriage, stormed Isla with sparkling eyes.
Isla knew women quite well. Compared to Raven, one could say that Isla knew women very, very well, and southern men were known to be very smooth and refined in their dealings with women. But even so, Isla could not deal with the dozens of girls who approached him and chattered endlessly like brave soldiers rushing through a broken gate.
“M, my lord…”
Isla became distressed and looked around in search of the only person who could rescue him from this predicament. However, Raven pretended to not notice his loyal knight’s crisis, and kept conversing and greeting nobles that were introduced by Count Seyrod.
“Excuse me, Sir Isla, would you like a dance with me?”
“No, I think I was first.”
“I was first!”
“My lord, looord…!”
Isla was dragged off to the center of the banquet hall like a pig to a slaughterhouse with his arms restrained by the ladies. The Stormbringer was left to fend for himself in this unmatched crisis.Previous Chapter Next Chapter