Duke Pendragon - Chapter 40
[Open . ]
A brief word from Soldrake caused a white glow to be emitted from a pillar that she was touching . The light expanded to wrap the entire pillar before stretching out to the entrance of the giant cave .
With a roar, the sealed entrance was opened . The cave rested behind a giant dragon statue and was usually sealed magically .
The white light spread along the walls and the floor of the cave, while subtle blue light, which was unique to crystals, slowly brightened the dark cave .
Raven turned around .
A dozen soldiers and around fifty workers gazed at him in shock .
“Is that bright enough?”
“Yes . We will examine the layouts of the cave and start mining right away . ”
“Good . If you require more workers, consult with the captain and recruit more at your discretion . ”
“I’ll do as you say, Your Grace . Come on, boys! Let’s go in . ”
An old laborer bowed to Raven before entering the cave with the other workers . The mine had been closed for more than a decade with magic hence it posed little danger . Raven confirmed the other workers and soldiers working on repairing the wooden barriers that surrounded the mine, then left . He didn’t forget to place two griffons as messengers for emergencies .
“Now we only need to see the mines and the sawmills that the Seyrod family gave us . ”
The place that they just left was the last crystal mine left in the Pendragon territory .
“Khung? Aren’t we going to stop in the woods first? We don’t know what those arrogant horse-heads might do . ”
With most of the orc warriors not present in the forest, Karuta was worried about his tribe .
But Raven shook his head .
“We’re still okay . Griffons are patrolling the border between the centaurs and orcs twice a day . There have been cases where a few of them show up near the valley, but there haven’t been any major issues . ”
“Hmm . We don’t know what might happen, so let’s hurry up and finish things and head to the forests . The arms and legs of the orcs are becoming stiff like an old tree . ”
“I’ll try my best . ”
Raven patted Karuta on the arm, then turned his head . The orc warriors had been silently following along, but their expressions reeked of boredom . There was an absurd saying within the orcs that if they didn’t get to fight for more than a day, their arms and legs would become old trees . The orc warriors had to follow Raven without anything exciting happening, so they were becoming frustrated .
Raven moved his eyes back a little further back .
Thirty griffons as big as oxen were following behind the orc warriors . They were calm compared to the orcs . Isla’s excellent handling played a role, but in the first place, they were Soldrake’s subordinate creatures and obeyed orders thoroughly .
The strength and aggressiveness of the griffons allowed them to face a dozen soldiers each, but when they were combined with a rider with a crossbow, they became invincible . Furthermore, they were useful as scouts and messengers .
“How is it? Do these griffons follow orders well?”
Isla nodded . He was riding on the back of the biggest griffon .
“Yes . They have smaller wings than those that live onshore cliffs, but they are stronger . Also, thanks to Soldrake, they are gentle . They’re not stupid, so they will be able to understand orders soon enough . The key is the ability and the efforts of the soldiers who will become their riders . ”
“I see . Anyways, you’re far more informed about the griffons than I am, so you will be in command of them if a battle breaks out . ”
“Yes, my lord . ”
The thirty griffons were brought along at the request of Isla . Each of them would be trained in advance to become leaders and experience battle and group training . They would help the training of other griffons by showcasing their learnings later .
Isla had personally picked one griffon and now it was following Isla’s commands flawlessly . Even if they were Soldrake’s familiars, it was incredible that Isla was able to train them to behave like warhorses in just a few days .
‘Well, I guess that’s why you were called the Stormbringer and the strongest griffon rider in history…’
Raven nodded his head with a satisfied look . Isla had become the captain of the Pendragon family’s griffon corps and the two knights who had lost to Killian were to become a part of the knight order led by Killian . Pollack and Lutton had repeatedly bowed their heads in gratitude when Raven took them under his wing after treating them with his “shield of healing” .
In a chance of fate, Raven gained a great knight by the name of Elkin Isla and two others . This happened as soon as he left the castle, so maybe there would be other fortunate encounters waiting in the future . No, Raven thought it might be wiser to go search for soon-to-be-famous people out in the world .
Dorean, a young merchant in the free city of Ovilla . He was suspected to have as much wealth as the royal family .
Jean Oberon, the eccentric magician who lived by himself in the tower in the great forest of Assia south of Valvas . He was said to create all different sorts of magical devices .
Red wolf Ivan Zitter, who had united hundreds of northern mercenaries and swept through the entire region…
‘The world is wide, and there are many undiscovered talents . Many of them are still unknown right now…’
Whoever was able to attract them first was the winner . Thinking so, Raven smiled inwardly .
[Ray, I feel an insidious energy . ]
Raven hurriedly closed his mouth and looked at Soldrake with an embarrassed expression . She was floating next to him with an odd expression .
“Hey, don’t carelessly read people’s minds . ”
[I didn’t read anything . It was transmitted . Ray and I are com…]
“Yes, yes . Companions of the soul . ”
Raven grinned and gently rested his hand on top of Soldrake’s head . However, he felt the gazes of Isla and Karuta which caused him to hurriedly withdraw his hand .
“Ehem, hem . ”
[It’s fine with me . There is no need to be embarrassed . ]
“W, when was I ever embarrassed . ”
[Ray and I are companions of the sou…]
“All right, all right . ”
Raven let out a deep sigh and slowly shook his head .
Karuta observed the two individuals even though he couldn’t hear their conversation . He proceeded to slowly shake his head as well as if he could read the situation just from their actions .
Kratul suddenly started to sniff at the air . Karuta also followed along and opened his nostrils wide .
“It smells like water . ”
“Karuta knows . Hey, Pendragon . We’re close to Silvunnen River . ”
It was close tonight, but it seemed like the orcs sensed the river water through their superior sense of smell and hearing .
“There’s a river over there, Master Pendragon!”
Kazzal quickly climbed up a tree, then gave specific directions .
“Really? We should hurry . We need to cross the river before sunset . ”
The orcs and the griffons picked up their pace at Raven’s words .
“This is strange…”
A man tilted his head . He was a knight in his mid-30s . His head was adorned with laurel, and he wore armor with a swan decoration .
Other knights who were standing beside him also looked across the bridge that was laid out under a mountain . It was approximately 40 yards long and wide enough to fit two carriages side by side . Only merchants and commoners were visible walking across the bridge .
“This is very weird . I feel shitty too . Damn it!”
The knight took out his anger by thrusting his blade into the ground while frowning . The other knights flinched and looked at him with anxiousness in their eyes . They didn’t want to imagine themselves in his shoes either .
Firstly, more people were crossing the bridge to the other side compared to those that were coming from . Moreover, the people who were coming were mostly merchants, while those crossing consisted of merchants, free knights, nobles,… basically all sorts of people .
But it wasn’t as if he could block the bridge and prevent people from coming and going . Because across from the bridge was…
“Damn it! Why are so many people gathering in the Pendragon Duchy! I counted over one hundred today!”
The identity of the knight was Baron Noel, who was the head of one of Seyrod County’s three subordinate families . He expressed his anger by kicking the ground then turned his body around .
However, all of the knights avoided his furious gaze . How would a mere baron and his knight prevent people from heading to a duchy, especially more so when the duchy held the bloodline of the royal family?
“Whoa, let’s calm down, Lord Noel . Everything will be fine after you make an example out of the Pendragon’s expedition force when they cross the bridge . Don’t you agree?”
“I know, I know . But we need them to be here for us to do anything anyway . That Pendragon brat, I mean, Alan Pendragon, are you certain he’s going to be crossing this bridge, Sir Breeden?”
Breeden nodded with a knowing smile at Baron Noel’s concerns .
“Isn’t that obvious? He would have to waste more than ten days if he chooses to cross Middlestone Bridge instead of here . And even if he does make that decision, there are soldiers placed in Middlestone Bridge . We should be able to catch up within two days if he crosses there . ”
“Well, if you say so… But you’re sure that there will be less than one hundred soldiers accompanying Alan Pendragon, right?”
“Haha! Don’t worry about that . There will be probably about two knights and fifty soldiers accompanying him at most . He won’t have any spare units with restoring security in the territory . He wouldn’t possibly bring orcs to someone else’s territory anyway . ”
Baron Noel nodded . Breeden had a point, and it was convincing enough .
It might be a different story if he was traveling within his territory, but he wouldn’t dare bring orcs to accompany him into someone else’s territory . Even if they weren’t usually a large threat to humans, orcs were terrifying monsters to most humans .
Bringing monsters into other people’s territory in broad daylight?
That was the same as declaring war .
“It wouldn’t matter if the orcs came . We have enough soldiers to deal with thirty orcs . ”
Breeden spoke in confidence and turned around to look at the soldiers
More than 300 soldiers filled his sights . 200 infantrymen from the Noel Barony and 100 archers from the Seyrod County were present . Furthermore, 20 proud knights from the Knights of the Red Wolf were in attendance by Breeden’s suggestion .
Even though the orcs were a terrifying force to be reckoned with, they would be hard-pressed against more than 300 trained soldiers . They would become riddled with numerous holes before they could even take a step .
“Well! I guess I was a little too worried . ”
‘Of course, you would be scared . You’ve never even fought in a real battle before…’
“Haha! No no . Isn’t it natural for a lord to consider many different aspects? I rather admire your meticulousness and caring heart . ”
Breeden hid his true thoughts and laughed boisterously . Baron Noel also responded in kind with an awkward smile .
‘Anyway, where in the world is he? I need to deal him a blow…’
Breeden couldn’t completely dispel his doubts even while smiling . But he soon shook his head . Aside from the rough currents that made it difficult to sail, the areas that the bridge connected were sharp cliffs . There was no dragon in sight, and they wouldn’t be able to cross the bridge unless they flew above it .
Yes… As long as they couldn’t fly, they could never cross the bridge .
As long as they couldn’t fly . . .
The sun was about to set, and Raven and the others finally reached Silvunnen River . The river was about 20 yards wide, and its edges dropped off in a sharp cliff . Silvunnen River originated from the Silvunnen Mountains and its currents were turbulent, perhaps because it was upstream and flowed down .
“We will cross the river as planned . ”
“R, really? Kuhem…”
Karuta smacked his lips with a grudging expression .
“What are you doing?”
“I, I got it . ”
Raven spoke with an annoyed voice at Karuta’s inaction . Karuta hastily turned his head around . The orc warriors all stood behind him with the same expression of awkward fear . They were all looking around at each other with strange expressions .
“Orcs! G, get on! Mount!”
The orcs moved with awkward steps .
The griffons were twice as big as the orcs, and they greeted the orcs with sharp gazes . The orcs carefully climbed onto the backs of the winged creatures .
Even though they were under Soldrake’s dominion, the orcs had never imagined a day when they would climb onto the backs of griffons, creatures that were considered one of their mortal enemies alongside centaurs…
Orcs had a strong faith in the earth god, and they took pride in walking on the ground that their god had dominion over . To ‘fly in the sky’ was quite heretical and even sacrilegious to the orcs .
The griffons opened their wings and leaped into the air from all over the place . Every time a griffon flew up, a sound similar to a pig’s squeal resounded along with it .
“Those pathetic bastards…”
Even though Karuta clicked his tongue at the sight of his fellow orcs, his expression didn’t fare much better as he climbed onto a griffon .
But what could he do? The Pendragon scarecrow was looking at him with indifferent eyes . Karuta could infer the meaning behind Pendragon scarecrow’s gaze, he was saying…
“If you don’t hurry up, I’m going to get Soldrake to personally throw you across the river . ”
“I, I’m going! Karuta is going!”
Karuta rushed up onto the griffon’s back at Raven’s words .
The griffon gave a giant flap of its wings and soared into the air .
The resounding screech was the loudest scream of any orc thus far .
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