Duke Pendragon - Chapter 217

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“Yes, I am Alan Pendragon.”

Raven nodded with a somber expression. Viscount Moraine stepped up beside Raven before speaking.

“I am Reet Moraine, the commander of the 7th imperial regiment as well commander-in-chief of the southern coalition.”

Karuta, Isla, and the rest of the soldiers from the coalition walked up and took their place behind the two men.

“Hm…!”

The expression of Blago’s lord turned miserable. Despite having gone through a series of fierce battles, the knights and the soldiers of the coalition had eyes full of determination and spirit.

‘They are elite troops…’

Lord Blago could not help but admit defeat. It had been a long time since he last saw such troops - perhaps not since he saw the Valvas Cavaliers and the Sea Dragon Knights of the Arangis Duchy during the southern war.

“Your Excellency.”

Raven nodded lightly at Viscount Moraine’s words, then turned towards Lord Blago.

“Lord Blago.”

Raven slowly raised his arm and pointed his blade towards the opponent. At his gesture, Lord Blago tightly closed his eyes.

It was all over.

He would have to pay with his life, his land, and no one from his castle would be exempt from the sins of treason. They would all perish.

Lord Blago knelt down and stretched out his neck to embrace the inevitable death, but then…

“Surrender, I will not take your life in consideration of your status and your relationship with the Arangis Duchy.”

“…..!”

Lord Blago’s eyes opened wide. His eyes trembled as he looked up to Raven, wondering if he had heard wrong. Raven continued.

“I am not your enemy. His Majesty, who sent me to this place, also does not consider you his enemy. He has ordered me and the commander of the 7th regiment to destroy the monsters of the Great Forest, not to suppress the southern lords.”

“Well, t, that’s…”

Lord Blago stuttered in shock, and Raven spoke while raising his voice.

“So I will ask. Do you still consider yourself a knight of the emperor?”

“…..!”

Lord Blago was not able to answer immediately. He knew that the fate of his entire territory, as well as his own life, were dependent on his answer.

“I, I…’

Nevertheless, he struggled to speak. He was the nephew-in-law of Duke Arangis, who claimed to be the king of the South. In addition to being a lord to be counted within five fingers in the entire South, he had relationships of blood and shared interests with many nobles and landlords throughout the land.

Depending on how he answered, numerous changes would occur in the South, as well as his own territory.

‘Ophelia…’

He suddenly remembered the face of his wife whom he had married ten years ago. His heart began to calm down. His wife Ophelia had been married off in a political exchange to consolidate power by the Arangis Duchy. She was ugly, and she had been despised in the Arangis Duchy for her appearance as well.

When he first saw her, his disappointment was great as well, but he had no choice but to marry her. At the time, the Blago family possessed a little more land than other nobles but could not be considered a powerful family. In order for the Blago family to develop, it was essential to have the backing of the Arangis Duchy.

The Arangis Duchy also needed to raise their influence in the Blago territory to keep El Pasa in check.

As such, he became married to Ophelia for the combined interests of the families. Even though her appearance was unattractive, she was a wise, strong woman.

In fact, Blago territory had grown to its current power largely due to his wife, although the solidifying of the relationship with the Arangis Duchy contributed as well.

Moreover, she had been the only one who opposed his action when he set out with his troops to attack the duke and the coalition.

She said that there was no need for him to run headfirst into a beating. It would be best to remain still until direct orders were given from above.

But he had chosen to ignore her, which had ultimately led to this situation.

‘If I were her… What would I do?’

He did not need to think long.

In the first place, he knew very well why she had been married off to Blago territory, and how much she despised the Arangis Duchy.

“I…”

He looked up.

The young duke stared at him with cold, sunken eyes, but the gaze was different from that of Duke Arangis and his son, Arigo Arangis.

“I swear to you that from this moment on, I will live as a knight of his majesty. The Blago territory will surrender to the coalition and accept any arrangement.”

Unlike a while ago, he spoke in a calm voice.

“…..”

Raven pulled back the blade aimed towards Lord Blago with a gentle nod.

Viscount Moraine turned around and shouted triumphantly towards the coalition.

“Blago has surrendered! We are victorious!”

“Whoaaaaahhhh!”

The celebratory roars of the victors pierced through the night sky

***

What happened afterwards passed in a flash.

At the command of Commander Moraine, two knights of the 7th regiment took along three hundred soldiers to escort Lord Blago and Oran to Castle Belcain, the Blago territory’s headquarters.

There were still more than 100 armed troops in Belcain, but at the command of their lord, they put down weapons and joined the coalition. Moreover, Captain Alberto of Duras Castle opened the doors to Blago under the command of his lord.

Three days later, Count Cedric, governor of El Pasa, entered Blago territory with a large force after receiving a message from Commander Moraine. Along with the supplies, the personnel responsible for handling the continuous supplies and the soldiers arrived at the castle. Overall, there were more than 2,000 people.

It was a surprisingly large number considering that only a small portion of the 11th regiment had been left behind in El Pasa to keep the city’s security and defenses. But in reality, the troops arriving at Blago were not from the 11th regiment at all.

Half of them were reinforcements sent from Gapusa and Agadir, and the other half came from across the sea.

With the proud flag of the White Dragon raised up high, the forces of the Pendragon Duchy had finally arrived. They had more than 500 soldiers and knights with extraordinary discipline and spirit, as well as Kratul and the other Ancona Orc warriors.

They were the elite soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy.

And their commander was none other than Mark Killian, the head knight of the Pendragon family.

***

“Ho! Hooooh…!”

Killian constantly burst out into exclamations as he looked over the vast expanse of the southern plains.

“Whew, he can be such a child… Are you that happy, captain?”

A large, bald man spoke. Two huge battle axes were hanging from his saddle. Killian turned his face with a sheepish expression.

“Ehem! Oh, what do you expect? We have finally arrived in a neighbourhood that’s worth fighting in.”

“Well, I forgot that it’s your first time in the South. You should be careful. There are a lot of strong men in the South.”

The bearded man next to the bald man grinned.

Killian’s expression turned abruptly.

He spoke while looking at the two with a serious expression, reflecting his status as the duchy’s head knight.

“Lutton, Pollack. Do you remember what type of training you went through since last year?”

“W, well…”

“Hm.”

Pollack and Lutton flinched. The two men had come to the Pendragon Duchy along with Isla as free knights in the past, but after being defeated by Killian, they had become members of the duchy’s heavy cavalry.

Since then, they had worked hard to take their place as executive officers of medium-sized cavalry units containing 30 members each. However, their time training with Killian was still fresh in their minds. They had seen the true hell on earth.

“We are different from the past, all of you, and me as well.”

Killian spoke while looking through his subordinates. Starting with Pollack and Lutton at the front, around 100 heavily armed, mounted soldiers were following behind him.

“We have mastered the horse-riding tactics designed by the lord and Sir Vincent. We experienced many battles, and we have not suffered a single death in the process. Each one of you is no less than an imperial knight.”

As Killian continued, the expressions of the soldiers changed.

Pride.

They were no longer free knights and common soldiers. They were proud to be the elite of the Pendragon Duchy, which had spread its name throughout the empire. Their pride inspired them.

“Every single one of you is a soldier capable of rivalling a hundred! We are the proud soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy! Is that not true?”

“Ha!!!”

With burning passion, the heavy cavalrymen roared with a loud voice.

Soldiers from Gapusa and Agadir nodded in approval as they watched while resting nearby. At first, they felt awkward meeting with strangers from the mainland. However, there was nothing more assuring than having strong allies in the battlefield.

The heavy cavalry of the Pendragon Duchy bore a unique vigor, and no one complained or went out of line while adorning thick, heavy armaments. Their strength was clearly visible.

The same was true for the other 400 ordinary soldiers.

The soldiers carried their shields, spears, and crossbows with perfect dignity, always displaying good order and strict military discipline, unlike any other forces in the South.

Perhaps honor and pride motivated them. The symbol of the proud dragon was mounted on the silver plate on top of their leather armors.

Naturally, everything would be made clear after fighting together, but as experienced soldiers, the warriors of Gapusa and Agadir could sense that the Pendragon Duchy’s soldiers were significant elites.

Killian shouted while looking over the troops with a trusting expression.

“The break is finished! Resume march! We will soon be arriving at Castle Belcain!”

“Ha!!!”

Once again, the cries of the Pendragon Duchy’s soldiers pierced the clear, southern sky.

***

The march of the coalition was unstoppable.

The situation in the South changed rapidly after Blago surrendered to the coalition. During the ten days that followed, many things happened.

Firstly, the number of the troops in the coalition and the supplies increased.

Most of the nobles and landlords who conspired with Jian to attack Raven had their lands situated on the way to the Great Forest, so the coalition absorbed their troops and properties on the way.

The shocking news of Blago’s surrender and pledge of loyalty to the Duke of Pendragon and the coalition spread throughout the land. In addition, there was news of the coalition’s reinforcements arriving in El Pasa. Soldiers from the Pendragon Duchy had successfully crossed the inland sea, and reinforcements from Gapusa and Agadir had finally arrived as well.

The lords who had a direct relationship with the Arangis Duchy strongly protested, but the rest of the South slowly began to cooperate with and join the coalition one by one.They had been hesitant to adhere to a side before, but the momentum shifted greatly with Blago’s surrender.

When Duke Pendragon and the 7th regiment first arrived in El Pasa, their forces had been at a disadvantage against the forces of Arangis Duchy, at around 2 to 8 in terms of numbers. But the tide was slowly turning now, putting the coalition at a 4 to 6 against the Arangis Duchy.

Most importantly, the coalition, which had now been renamed to the United Southern Army, had perfect justification in their actions.

The Red Wheel Knights and the Lord of Blago had conspired together to attack the coalition even though they had gathered together to save the South from the threat of monsters. No one doubted the stories, as it came straight from the mouth of those who participated in the underhanded attack.

The nephew-in-law of Duke Arangis, Lord Blago, also affirmed the facts before the world.

In the end, the public sentiment in the South slowly turned towards Duke Pendragon and the United Southern Army.

The elite army of the Arangis Duchy on Crete Island was still a huge looming shadow, but the most important thing for ordinary people was cause and justification.

The coalition was coming to rescue them from an imminent crisis, but the forces of the Arangis Duchy had ambushed the coalition without a formal declaration. The pubs and squares of the southern territories were filled with jeers and condemnation against the Arangis Duchy.

On the flip side, as the United Southern Army passed through the cities and the villages, they were given a warm welcome with cheers and large festivals.

In the end, Raven and the coalition was able to carve out a stable supply route in the South through a single battle, and it was Count Cedric, governor-general of El Pasa, who was most pleased with the situation.

“I promise you, governor. Within three months, a 60-mile radius outside El Pasa will be cleaned up. Within a year at the latest, El Pasa will become the center of the south.”

It was the promise made to him at the port of El Pasa, and Duke Pendragon was fulfilling his words.

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