Duke Pendragon - Chapter 46
Tarutul downed the tea in his hand which was contained in a cup practically the size of a beer mug .
“Yes . They were looking for the horse heads . ”
Before his departure, Raven had ordered his soldiers to fire an arrow with the letter attached announcing his planned visit from the orc’s territory . Since then, he hadn’t ordered anyone into the centaur’s territory .
“Yes . There was a sorcerer with them too . They erased their presence before heading into the centaur’s land . That’s why I was only able to realize when they were exiting the forest . ”
This was a serious situation, and Raven’s forehead creased in thought . The two races that controlled the Ancona Forest were the orcs and the centaurs . That’s why Raven had the griffons flying around as scouts outside the forest in case of unexpected visitors, while the orc warriors were with him . But the griffons never reported anything suspicious, and Tarutul, a druid, had not been aware of their presence until the end . An armed force had snuck in and out of Ancona Forest .
“Did they wear any symbols? Or perhaps anything to identify them by?”
“Not at all, with the exception of the sorcerer . Their equipment was all very different too . Only…”
Tarutul paused, as if remembering something, then emptied his tea before continuing .
“The big man who was leading the group was wearing a helmet made from the skull of an ogre . ”
“… . . . !”
Raven jolted at Tarutul’s words .
“I, Tarutul, went from place to place before we settled down in Ancona Forest, but this is the first time I saw a human wearing a helmet made from an ogre’s skull…”
Raven jumped up from his seat . He couldn’t hear Tarutul’s words anymore . His arms and legs started shaking . His fingernails dug into the palm of his hands in his tightly clenched fists . He stared into the air with his eyes wide open . The name that he hadn’t forgotten since the day he was reborn as Alan Pendragon . The name that he swore to face one day, every night before he slept . The name of the human whom Raven Valt saw moments before his death as blood-soaked his body .
It was certain .
There was only one person in the world who had a helmet made from ogre’s bones . It was Baltai, the leader of the demonic army . He had visited the Pendragon territory, the Ancona Forest .
Fury and murderous will emitted from Raven . The spirit of the dragon materialized above the shoulder and the head of the man who was both Raven Valt and Alan Pendragon .
The large table and the teacups rattled in their place .
Karuta and Kratul crouched with their huge frames . Even Tarutul shuddered at the formidable spirit that was emanating from the human who was much smaller than he was .
Perhaps feeling the momentum, Soldrake, who was supposed to be on top of the tree, silently came into the room . The orcs rose from their seats in great haste to greet their guardian god of the forest . But Raven was unable to take in his surroundings and he was unaware of Soldrake’s arrival . His eyes were consistently emitting a blue glow .
[Ray . ]
A low, calm voice penetrated Raven’s ear .
Raven flinched . Soldrake stretched her hand towards his cheek and gently caressed it . Cool energy coiled around Raven’s face with a refreshing aroma .
Raven’s wildly thrashing heart slowly calmed down, and insane draconic energy that was taking control of his heart and body disappeared without a trace .
Raven let out a deep breath similar to a sigh, then slumped back into his chair .
Karuta and Kratul let out a deep sigh of relief and collapsed on the floor .
[Ray, are you all right?]
“Ha… I think I’m okay . ”
Soldrake’s hand didn’t move from its place even after Raven responded to her question . Soldrake was heartlessly cold towards others, but her gaze was exceedingly warm with Raven .
She spoke in a slow voice .
[Ray, you can’t let a moment’s anger take control of your soul and body . Uncontrollable anger might trap Ray’s mind in the Demon God’s abyss . Ray is special . Above all, you are special to me . I just want Ray to remain… the person who he is right now . ]
Soldrake’s words were exceedingly sincere and warm .
Raven clasped her hand that was on his cheek .
“Thank you, Sol…”
Soldrake’s hand slowly fell from his cheek . Feeling a little embarrassed, Raven silently withdrew his own hands . At that moment, someone rushed into the room .
“My lord, I think you should come outside .
Raven tilted his head at Isla’s words .
“What is it?”
“A group of centaurs are headed towards this village . All armed . ”
Karuta and Kratul sprang to their feet . They seemed ready to run out of town to crush the centaurs . Raven would have normally stopped the two, but it was different this time .
“Sol, did you know?”
[Yes . But Ray is more important than some nobodies, so I didn’t bother mentioning it . ]
Orcs or centaurs, none of them were important enough to catch Soldrake’s attention . She only had one interest – Raven .
“I see . Then could you stay out of this matter?”
[If that’s what Ray wants . But if they threaten Ray…]
Raven twisted his neck side to side, then spoke in a chilling voice .
“No, that won’t happen . ”
He turned his head .
“Change of plans . Karuta, Isla . Leave one alive . It’s fine as long as they can talk . As of today, the centaurs can be erased from Ancona Forest . ”
“As you wish . ”
An indifferent answer and a vigorous affirmation were heard simultaneously .
The Ancona Orcs moved about busily . The female orcs were much stronger than average adult males . They climbed up branches and the root barriers to aim their crossbows . The warriors, who were armed with full plate armors and iron maces, went into formation behind the wooden entrance .
The forest was not an unsuitable location for aerial attacks, so Isla and the griffons were on standby on top of the large tree .
Of course, Kazzal had already been scared into hiding somewhere .
The wooden door opened, and Raven rode out of town on a horse . Soldrake stayed on guard by floating above him .
The earth-shaking clatter became louder . Soon, dozens of centaurs rushed out from the forest, knocking down short trees and bushes . Centaurs had the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse . They were relatively large . Raven’s steed was quite large, but compared to the centaurs, it seemed like a foal .
But Raven was already exposed to the inhuman sizes of orc warriors and the griffons, hence he was neither surprised nor intimidated by the centaurs even though it was his first time seeing them . The only thing that mattered to Raven now was the fact that the group of half-man, half-horse in front of him that were holding javelins and longbows, had something to do with Baltai .
All of the centaurs were brown, except for one individual .
One centaur had a shiny black mane that differentiated from the others . He slowly came forward . He held a golden longbow made from an unknown material and also had four large javelins the size of humans on his two muscular front legs . His ears were pointed and his facial features were very masculine .
The black-maned centaur took on a stunned expression at the sight of Raven and Soldrake .
But perhaps due to their nature as a militant race, the centaur only gave a light salute to Soldrake .
“Arios . The protector of Ancona Forest greets the guardian god of the forest . ”
Unlike his masculine appearance, his vocal tone was high and clear . But Soldrake, who couldn’t understand the centaur’s words, stared at Arios with indifferent eyes . It seemed Arios already knew that he couldn’t communicate with Soldrake and turned his gaze onto Raven, who was standing next to Soldrake .
“Young human, are you the Pendragon of this generation?”
His attitude was arrogant compared to when he was speaking to Soldrake . Bitter enmity stained Arios’ voice .
After breathing heavily, Raven looked straight at Arios and opened his lips .
“This weak horse bastard must have gone insane from eating so much hay . ”
Arios’ forehead scrunched up . But Raven wasn’t finished yet .
“You, horseshit . Did you forget whose land it is that you’re walking on? Even birdbrains know, but you don’t? It’s me . I, Alan Pendragon, am the owner of this land . The only ones who can reside in Ancona are those that have my permission . That means right now, only the Ancona Orcs are allowed here . But whose permission have you gotten that you’re spouting bullshit… no, horseshit in front of me?”
“… . . . !”
Regardless of race, it seemed that everyone’s mind stopped working when they were hit too hard . Raven’s words caused Arios and the other centaurs to stand speechless in their place . But that was only for a short duration .
“Neiiiiigh! This arrogant human bastard!”
A sound similar to a horse’s cry resounded .
“This forest is ours! Before the guardian god came, and long before you Pendragons came, this land belonged to us, the worshippers of the earth god! You dare claim this land as your own, but you brought orcs onto this land! You Pendragons! Moreover, how dare you compare us to those lowly orcs in front of the earth god’s holy tree?”
Regardless of race, being too absorbed in religion seemed to drive people out of their minds .
“What did you say, you horse son of a bitch?”
Arios’s words triggered an intense reaction from the orcs . The enraged orcs who were standing on the walls and behind the wooden door expelled Orc Fear like wildfire .
The horse neighs and squeals resembling a pig resounded throughout the forest . The two races were just as militant and warlike . Neither side was unrelenting as they faced each other in a fierce standoff . Raven unsheathed Widow’s Scream and raised it high into the air .
A frosty swarm of light emitted from the blade, and a bone-chilling sound penetrated through the two tribe’s furious energy . Both tribes retreated at the cry of the sword, which also contained traces of draconic energy . Raven pointed his blade at Arios and spoke in a frigid voice .
“You, horse bastard . What did you just say? The Pendragons brought the orcs here? Then let me ask you a question . Who were the ones that brought humans into Ancona Forest, the land of the Pendragons, without my permission?”
Arios took on a bewildered expression .
“Why? Have you lost your tongue? Why don’t I tell you something else? A man was wearing a helmet made from an ogre’s skull in the group, right? Do you know his identity?”
Arios became even more flustered . The Pendragon human knew that humans had entered the forest, but also knew each of their unique appearances . This meant…
“The imperial army’s garbageman . Commander of the demonic army, Toban Baltai . Am I wrong? And the javelin that you have on you, it’s the work of a human blacksmith . The crossbows that the ones behind you are holding are from the imperial army . Isn’t that right?”
“… . . . ”
Arios became utterly silent . Centaurs were a proud race, and they did not lie . Even if they tried, it would be useless in front of a dragon who had the power to see through everything .
Raven slowly lowered the sword that was pointed at Arios .
He let out a light breath . A cold, cruel smile had formed around Raven’s mouth .
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