Duke Pendragon - Chapter 45
The colony of Ancona Orcs was located in the middle of the forest.
It was very quaint.
First of all, unlike human villages or settlements, there were no wooden fences or walls. Instead, giant roots rose aboveground and surrounded the entire village, which seemed to be around 2 miles long. Furthermore, the back of the village was protected by a high, rugged cliff that had a waterfall running down it.
It appeared to be a fortress created by nature. But the eyes of Raven and Isla were directed somewhere other than the buildings of the colony.
“Kueeek! You little runty orcs! Your father’s beard is going to fall off!”
The little creatures could be perfectly described as cute little pigs with arms and legs. The orc warrior was smiling and laughing with tiny little creatures on his head and shoulders…
It was Kratul.
Five young orcs had come to greet them earlier, but it turned out that they were all children of Kratul. They seemed to have smelled their father and came out to see him.
“Kiee! Go away! Ugly little orcs!”
The young orcs were fascinated by Kazzal because of their similar size. Kazzal shouted in a loud voice, then quickly escaped up a tree. Then, the young orc who had been following Kazzal looked at Raven with curious eyes then slowly walked up to stand next to him.
Raven had never liked children, and he had previously experienced the ‘power’ of the little ones like he had with Mia Pendragon. He flinched and hastened his steps. But the little orc worked hard on his short legs to catch up with Raven’s steps.
“Kuhehehe! The little orc seems to have taken a liking to Pendragon.”
Karuta was walking with a little orc dangling from his arm. He gave a hearty laugh at the sight of a little orc following Raven.
Karuta tilted his head.
For some reason, Isla had dismounted his griffon and was walking closer to Raven. And he was continually stealing gazes at the young orc instead of his master. But as soon as the little orc saw Isla, he became frightened and clung tighter to Raven. The expression that flashed by Isla’s face who was usually emotionless…
Karuta was not slow-witted. He noticed something from Isla’s attitude and snaked up to him.
“Hey, cheeky scarecrow. What about it? Do you want to try holding them?”
With those words, Karuta grabbed the nape of the young orc on his arm and thrust the child towards Isla.
Isla jerked his head away with a detached expression, but his gaze remained on the young orc that Karuta had thrust forward, and the little orc flailed in the air, scared by Isla’s cold gaze.
Isla subconsciously thrust his hands forward at the little orc. But simultaneously, Karuta pulled the baby back into his arms.
Arms stretched out into the empty air.
“Whooowee! My cute baby orc. Cu-choo-choo!”
Karuta resumed cuddling the baby as if nothing happened and moved on after placing the young orc on his shoulder.
Raven watched the whole event unfold. He called out to Isla.
Isla turned slowly. Raven glanced at Isla’s face while stroking the young orc’s head.
It was certain.
The young Valvas Knight, who always maintained his calm and coldness, had a soft spot towards things that were ‘small and cute’. Suddenly, Raven was reminded of an event that conspired several days ago with Soldrake. He smiled and spoke.
“You better not be saying anything. Right?”
Isla nodded helplessly. Raven had finally grasped one of Isla’s weaknesses.
“Our brothers and Pendragon are here!”
A door woven from large logs was raised, and the orc, who had spoken, jumped off the tree he was keeping watch from.
The orcs welcomed back their colleagues who had been gone for a long time with their unique greetings of hitting each others’ fists or jumping up and bumping their chests together. Then some of the orc’s eyes naturally turned to Raven, Isla, and Soldrake.
The orcs were not surprised to see the humans, as they had already received the news.
But it was different for Soldrake.
“The keepers of Ancona Forest greet the guardian god!”
The orcs bowed politely to Soldrake with their backs folded. They couldn’t communicate, but Soldrake responded to their welcome by lightly nodding her head.
Raven ordered Isla to have the griffons guard the village in the orcs’ stead and moved his steps towards the center of the colony.
The orcs’ village was similar yet different from a human village. Most of the buildings were made from uncarpeted wood and unrefined rocks. The only exception was the smithy which was a large building woven with several large boulders. Gray smoke rose from its chimneys.
Raven was quite impressed with the colony and asked Karuta a question.
“Were the buildings always here? Or did you guys have to build them?”
“We used our strength, but we were also helped by the earth god. Over there is the house of the Ancona Orc.”
Karuta pointed towards the middle of the village.
Raven’s eyes widened.
An indescribably large tree stood in the place where Karuta pointed towards. From a distance, Raven thought that a forest was placed in the middle of the village, but now he could see that it was just one humongous tree.
The bottom of the giant tree was comparable to a small hill. It was so enormous that even dozens of orcs could not fully embrace the tree even if they held each other’s’ hands. The branches were brimming with leaves, and they grew high into the air to about 150 feet before spreading out in all directions.
Karuta let out a proud snort as he looked up at the giant tree that had its leaves spread out as far as the eyes could see.
“Kuhung! It’s a divine tree that our tribe found in the forest. It is the blessing of the earth god for our tribe. Ancona Orcs all reside there.”
As soon as Karuta finished speaking, the young orcs ran to the base of the colossal tree. Other orcs began to come out one by one from the holes in the wood. They all looked terrifying, but it was apparent that they were the females and the elderly.
The dozen or so orcs bowed down to the ground as soon as they saw Soldrake.
The orcs’ attitude towards Soldrake almost reached the level of worship. Soldrake gave a slight nod towards the orcs and turned to Raven.
[These children are annoying. I’m going to go rest.]
Then Soldrake flew up to the top of the enormous, sacred tree.
The orcs finally raised their heads after Soldrake disappeared.
Soldrake’s consideration touched Raven. She had left because she knew the atmosphere would be challenging if she had remained. As the mood became somewhat more comfortable, the female orcs and their youngling greeted the orc warriors.
Even though they were non-humans, their actions were no different from humans.
But Raven noticed an oddity and tilted his head. Everyone was being greeted by their families, but one orc awkwardly stood in his place.
“What are you doing?
“W, what do you mean! I’m going to take Pendragon to the elder.”
Karuta raised his voice in an attempt to appear calm. But Raven had already noticed. That only Karuta had no female orc come out to greet him.
“You…. Are you still single?”
A grim but melancholic expression surfaced. Karuta straightened his chest.
“Kuhung! A true orc warrior doesn’t need a woman! I, Karuta…”
“True orc warrior, my ass. It’s because the next chief can’t marry from the same tribe.”
Raven turned his head at the voice that was reminiscent of a rolling boulder. The voice belonged to an old silver orc who was bigger than an average human but only half of the other orcs. He had a dark grey beard covering almost half of his face and held a cane similar to Kratul’s staff.
Karuta suddenly became obedient. This was the first time Raven had seen Karuta act so timid except for when he was in front of Soldrake.
“So why don’t you go beat up the other orcs and bring some females back home.”
“Well, it’s not that easy…”
Karuta scratched his head. Raven noticed something from how Karuta was acting and frowned.
“The next chief cannot marry from the same tribe?”
“Well, yes… It’s an orc’s destiny to fight for everything, whether it be women or riches. It may not apply to the other orcs, but the chief of the tribe is the orcs’ pride and law. He must fight other tribes to win over his woman.”
Karuta replied in a sullen voice.
“I see. Hmm? Wait. So the reason you kept wanting to go outside of my territory….”
“Ker! Kuhum! No, not necessarily, but…”
Karuta scratched his head in shame.
Raven looked up at Karuta with dumbfounded eyes. Whenever he had the chance, Karuta had blabbered on about fighting other orcs outside of their territory. His reasoning was that it was the fate of a true warrior to achieve glory by fighting others, but to think that the true reason was because he wanted to get married...
“Please understand. This ugly orc has never gotten the chance to use his ‘thing’ for the thirty years of his life.”
The orc elder explained to Raven, but Raven still looked at Karuta with a piteous expression.
Then, a thought passed into Raven’s head, and he smacked Karuta’s arm with a smile.
“I understand, of course. A man must get married. But so does that mean… you’re still a bachelor? Oh my, no wonder you bullied Killian so much…”
“Kuhum!? N, no! That’s not true…”
Raven looked at the leaping Karuta with pitiful eyes and cut him off.
“No, I understand everything. Tsk! What is the use of having both eggs when you cant use them? Don’t lose hope though. I read somewhere that even an orc can use magic when they don’t have any experience with women until the age of 30.” 
The already red face of Karuta heated up even more at Raven’s words. But it seemed he couldn’t get angry in front of the orc elder who seemed to be the oldest in the colony. Karuta kept on letting out angry snorts.
‘Today is a lucky day. Isla, this guy, I’ve got all of their weaknesses.’
Raven hid his innermost thoughts and patted Karuta a couple more times on the waist in an understanding manner.
“Isn’t it awesome? Orc grand sorcerer.”
At that time, Kratul, who had entered into the tree, came out with his family and introduced the orc elder.
“Pendragon, this old orc is my father.”
Raven had thought the cane resembled Kratul’s staff, and now it was revealed that they were father and son. Then, the old orc’s identity had to be a druid like Kratul.
“I’m Alan Pendragon.”
Although their races were different, Raven still gave a polite greeting, taking into consideration the seniority of the other party. Besides, they had given him new insight.
The old orc silently gazed at Raven before opening his mouth.
“I’m Tarutul. Are you the son of Lord Gordon?”
Tarutul included the honorifics when addressing Gordon Pendragon, demonstrating his expertise in the laws of man.
“You look more like Mrs. Elena than Sir Gordon. Why don’t we go inside first.”
Raven entered the large tree at Tarutul’s guidance.
The interior was surprisingly cozy, unlike how he imagined an orc’s residence would be. However, the large furniture and objects hinted at the residents’ identity.
The tea that Tarutul brought was very fragrant.
Raven had never known that orcs drank tea. He took a light sip of the tea and spoke to Tarutul.
“You seem to have something to say. Why don’t you speak your mind?”
“You seem to have keen senses. I guess you take after Mrs. Elena in that aspect as well.”
Tarutul wiped the tea off his damaged fangs with his fingers, then continued his words.
“A few days ago, a dozen armed humans visited the forest.”
“What? Armed humans?”
Raven frowned at the unexpected words.
1. There is a common Korean reference for people who have never dated in their life. Depending on how old they are, they are said to become ‘magicians’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFXGgkv6lOw This is a video of a “Grand Sorcerer”, a man who’s never had a girlfriend even though he’s thirty.
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