Duke Pendragon - Chapter 44
Count Seyrod struck the armrest of his jade throne and then collapsed into the chair .
“Hu…… huhuhuh . . . ”
He blankly stared into space before bursting out into a chortle . The other nobles gathered in the palace all had similar expressions .
One hundred trained crossbowmen from Count Seyrod’s family were slaughtered . Also, Joseph Breeden, the promising young knight, was killed . Out of the twenty knights from the Order of Red Wolf, six were dead, and the rest sustained grave injuries that would leave them in a bed for half a year . Even though there remained twenty knights and five hundred soldiers, the price was steep .
The crossbow was extremely rare because of the precise engineering that was required to complete its parts . The empire strictly controlled the craftsmen who could produce such weapons . Hence, it was expensive .
The Seyrod family had acquired the crossbows by purchasing them from the imperial family, as they did not have any craftsmen capable of producing crossbows . Some blacksmiths from the territory attempted to dismember and learn the crafting methods, but they gave up due to the preciseness of the parts contained within . They were only capable of simple repairs .
Moreover, the knights who were equipped with full plates of armor and warhorses had been cut down to half of their original forces .
What was intended to be light intimidation had turned into a disaster and cost them a fortune in terms of money and military power . With a weaker army, it would be difficult to maintain security which could ultimately reduce the economic activities and the quality of life for residents .
Bandits and monsters would storm villages that were without soldiers or knights .
“What is… what in the world… huh, haha…”
Count Seyrod had one hand wrapped around his head and kept letting out bursts of bitter laughter . The knights and the nobles were unable to find the right words to say .
“Why don’t we gather our troops and attack the Pendragons right now! We must avenge Sir Breeden and our other colleagues!”
A young knight raised his voice, thumping his chest . Whispers of agreement soon grew louder and echoed throughout the room .
“That’s right! They’ve practically started a war with us!”
“My lord, if you give me a hundred men then I’ll…”
A voice cut off the angry knights’ shouts .
“You mean you’re going to deal with orc warriors with 100 soldiers? Well, okay then, what about the griffons? They’ve already reported thirty griffons, and they allegedly follow the orders of the new knight that Alan Pendragon recruited . ”
The knight immediately stopped talking . The person was telling the truth, and he had to consider her identity as well .
Seyrod sighed and called out the name of his foster daughter . She was the only one who had opposed the trip, and in the end, the trip ended in a disaster just as she predicted .
“My lord, above all else, we cannot hold the Pendragon Duchy responsible . It was Sir Breeden and our archers who initiated the fight, and the Duke and his soldiers only fought back . ”
Count Seyrod’s face turned a shade darker .
It was as Luna said .
Worse yet, three free knights who were headed towards the Pendragon territory witnessed the scene and testified at the nearest temple of the goddess of light the day after . The temple they headed to was located in Baron Noel’s territory, so they couldn’t question the legitimacy of the testimonies either .
“B, but the Pendragon family invaded our territory at their whim . With monsters to boot . We can’t just leave this matter hanging and…”
“And they’ve already given us 400 gold coins as a token of regret . Besides, during the period they roamed Baron Noel’s estate, not a single hair on any of the residents were harmed . They just came and left . In this situation, do we stand to gain anything by trying to hold the Pendragon family responsible?”
Sighs were heard throughout, then the entire palace became silent .
Luna was right once more .
Even if they forced the blame onto the Pendragon family, all they had to do was express their regret once more . Even if this matter became known to the imperial capital and to the nobles, who would stand with the Seyrod family?
No one would want to stand opposed to the Pendragon family who had just renewed their covenant with the dragon . Likely, the Pendragon family would soon visit the capital to assert their power .
Even if the families of the dead knights gathered together, they could not speak a word against the Pendragons . In the end, they belonged to lesser nobility, and the duchy had inherited royal blood . They would rather honor the knights as passing while fighting bravely in battle than to risk it all . It might ultimately be detrimental if they were to tell the truth of how the battle ensued and how the knights of the Seyrod family acted to the families .
“Huh… . Then what should we do? At this rate, our territory will…”
“We must apologize to His Grace Alan Pendragon, my lord . ”
They had suffered massive casualties with the deceased knights and soldiers, but Luna was instead asking them to apologize . The eyes of Count Seyrod and the nobles widened in shock .
But Luna calmly resumed her words .
“You must apologize to His Grace Alan Pendragon and focus on our internal matters . How do you think Baron Noel will act after witnessing the slaughter first-hand? And do you think he would stay silent about the matter and not say anything to the other subordinate families?”
Count Seyrod jumped up from his seat, finally realizing the crux of the matter . The Noel Barony was the only family subordinated to the Seyrod County that had no blood relations to them .
That was why they have bestowed the territory that was at the border with the Pendragon Duchy . In case of a dispute between the two families, the Noel Barony would buy the Seyrod County time to prepare . That was their role .
Through this incident, Noel Barony would have realized this truth . Even though they had sworn fealty for two generations, no one, including Count Seyrod, believed that they were completely loyal to the county .
The bigger problem existed with the other two subordinate families . They were both distant relatives to the Seyrod family, and so they were quite loyal and had strong bonds with the Seyrod family .
However, their relationship with each other was problematic . The two vassals, Baron Alfred and Viscount Macbride, were like oil and water . The two had kept it to small disputes for decades due to the Seyrod family’s intervention, but when they found out that the Seyrod family had weakened…
“Oh god, territorial war…”
Count Seyrod’s face turned white .
“Yes . There’s no guarantee that there won’t be a war between the two . So, you must manage our internal matters . It’s too dangerous and rash to start a war with the Pendragon family in our situation . Sir, please, please think about this once more . ”
Luna’s voice was calm but sincere . Count Seyrod nodded at her words .
“Yes . You’re right . My momentary judgment lost us valuable soldiers and knights, and now I almost made the same mistake once more which would have put the entire territory in danger . ”
Count Seyrod gently smiled at Luna before turning his eyes to the nobles in the palace . Some were displaying looks of relief, while others still held discontented and worried gazes .
“I will apologize to the Pendragon Duchy . As you just heard, this incident could escalate into a major issue in our territory . We won’t loosen our vigilance . But apologies and being vigilant are separate matters . I will send an envoy to convey our apologies to the Pendragon family, but I will also send someone to the capital . ”
The capital . The heart of the empire and the place where the empire’s residence existed . The walls surrounding the huge city spanned over 20 miles, and the population was around 100,000 .
But the capital that Count Seyrod was referring to wasn’t the city itself .
The most spectacular and secretive place in the empire…
The place where the emperor and the imperial family as well as thousands of nobles that moved the empire resided . He was referring to the Royal Batallium, the royal residence of the emperor .
“Capital… Perhaps, you are going to…?”
Except for Luna, everyone that was present in the palace narrowed their eyes . This included Sir Jonjo, who was one of the closest aids to Count Seyrod . He was knowledgeable regarding the situation in the imperial capital .
Count Seyrod nodded with a stiff expression .
“Yes . I think the only person who can help us right now is Prince Ian . ”
The faces of the nobles, which were full of concern and dissatisfaction, lit up at the mention of Prince Ian .
Prince Ian was the second son of the emperor and one of three direct descendants of the emperor . The siblings consisted of two sons and one daughter .
He was the most powerful candidate after the crown prince, and he was titled the Black Lion General . He commanded three legions of the empire which consisted of over 10,000 troops .
Moreover, he was…
“Prince Ian was the one who urged His Grace Alan Pendragon and Princess Ingrid to break off their engagement . He will try to keep His Grace Pendragon in check, especially now that His Grace Pendragon has succeeded in making an oath with the white dragon . He will help us, I’m sure of this . I will send an envoy right now to the Royal Batallium . ”
“We follow your will!”
Loud voices rang out in the palace .
But one person didn’t duplicate the shout . Luna bit her lips in a state of intense anxiety as images of Alan Pendragon and Princess Ingrid filled her head .
“Seyrod? Where is that?”
The expression of the young man with long, deep blonde hair was carefree and apathetic . But the knight kneeling on one knee with his helm at the side answered him in a most sincere and disciplined matter .
“It’s a great territory located in the Lontile region . They have three subordinate families, and they came to be when his majesty Karl, the great golden lion, fought in the creation war with…”
“Oh, I remember . Why didn’t you just say it then? That they are located right beside that dirty worm . ”
“I, I apologize, Your Highness . ”
Ian Aragon .
He was one of over ten princes of the empire, but also one of two princes that were birthed from the empress .
At his voice, the knight hurriedly bowed his head .
Ian Aragon turned 26 this year . A crown embedded with various jewels decorated his head, and he swept his flowing hair upwards over the crown before resting his hand on his chin .
“No, wait . Is it because the dirty worm gained a dragon recently?”
“Well, I’m not sure about that, but they’ve sent this letter…”
The knight politely extended the letter that was wrapped with a red string . A beautiful woman who was smoking a water pipe while lying beside the prince stood up and received the letter . She placed the letter on a golden plate then brought it to the prince on her knees .
Ian opened the letter without looking at the seal, and carefully examined its contents . As his eyes read the contents, a strange current started to overflow from his half-naked upper body .
The beautiful woman and the knight’s face turned blue at the sight of the energy . It was the manifestation of the Spirit of the Emperor that could crush most kinds of magic and give control over people’s thoughts .
The entire room was covered with the energy, which was only passed down to the direct descendants of the founding emperor . But as soon as Ian removed his gaze from the letter, the energy vanished without a trace, and the knights and the woman gasped for breath .
“This is hilarious . The dirty worm got the dragon, but he’s also changed? And thirty ignorant orcs… Besides…”
Ian stood up slowly, his voice as cold as his eyes . His tall muscular limbs stretched out, and his figure was revealed . He had the perfect body to wield a sword .
“The dragon… Soldrake turned into a human figure? This is hilarious, hilarious . Haha… Hahahahaha!”
His cackle turned into full-blown laughter . But the knight and the woman’s faces turned blue once more .
They knew too well that when Ian laughed like that, something would happen soon that would shake the Batallium, as well as the whole imperial capital .
Raven recoiled . As he was passing through a dark forest, he trembled unknowingly .
[What’s wrong, Ray?]
“No, it’s… I just got goosebumps all of a sudden . ”
[I see . Tell me if you’re not feeling well . I will hug you again . ]
“I, I’m fine . I feel fine, nothing hurts . ”
The bitter(?) memories of crossing the river between the two territories resurfaced in Raven’s mind and he hurriedly shook his head .
Then he coincidentally met Isla’s eyes, who was riding his griffon besides Raven . Isla’s expressionless face seemed to be thinking of something .
“…I didn’t say anything, my lord . ”
“…I haven’t asked anything either . How suspicious . ”
“… . . . ”
Isla sneakily turned his gaze and asked in a serious voice .
“Karuta, in your view, which do you think is stronger? Centaurs, or griffons?”
“What? Of course, the orcs are the strongest . No, by the way, you doglike scarecrow . You’re talking down to me in that bitchy voice again…”
“So centaurs are no big deal . Got it . ”
Raven was at a loss for words as well .
It was quite shocking that the “Stormbreaker”, whose name was known throughout the empire in the future, was such a naughty human being .
Killian was rather naïve and Raven enjoyed making fun of him, but with Isla it was different . Raven was the one forced to go on the defensive and worried that Isla might make fun of him .
But Isla’s deep loyalty was beyond doubt . A Cavalier of Valvas died on the same day as their master . That was the proverb about the Valvas Knights, and it was also the ‘truth’ that Raven had experienced .
“By the way, is there still a long way to go?”
“Kuhehe! Dog scarecrow must be bored . We’re almost here . ”
The enemy of my enemy is my ally . Kratul stuck true to this principle and took a liking to Isla, who treated Karuta nonchalantly and made fun of him . Kratul gave a loud grin and responded to Isla .
The grass on the other side of the road shuffled .
Isla pulled out his rapier and pulled tight on the reins, which caused the griffon to soar forward like the wind . But Karuta snorted at Isla while picking his nose with his giant fingers .
“Kuku… Look at that scared dog scarecrow . It’s just our kids coming out to greet us, so put that flappy blade away?”
“… . . . ”
Isla stepped back embarrassingly and Raven showed interest . Karuta laughed and threw a few fist-sized stones into the grass .
“Hey, you! Earthworms! Stop fooling around and crawl out of there!”
Raven heard the sound of squealing pigs . But it was a little different from the sounds he was used to . If he had to put it into words…
Raven opened his mouth in shock when he saw the small figures come out from the grass .
A pouty, chubby tummy . A little, snotty nose . Small, cute fangs that were all over the place . Moreover, as soon as they saw Soldrake and Raven, they twisted their bodies in embarrassment .
To put everything together, the creatures could be defined by the word ‘cute’ . These life forms pattered towards them .
The two men, Raven and Isla, spat out the same word simultaneously in shock .
User rating: 4.0