Duke Pendragon - Chapter 51
“I apologize for taking so much of your time . I should let you young people spend some time together . Mia, why don’t you come with your mother . ”
With a hearty laugh, Elena stood up together with Mia .
“No, Duchess . Please stay . ”
Ingrid and Luna hurriedly stood up to dissuade Elena from leaving, but Elena shook her head .
“Mm, no, I am sure you all have a lot to talk about . Please take your time . We will be seeing each other at the dinner party anyways . Alan, Irene, please make sure to treat our guests well . ”
“Yes, mother . ”
“Then I will see you later, my lady . ”
Raven and Irene stood up, followed by Ian . They gave a slight bow to the duchess .
Elena smiled at the youths’ gazes, then left the room with Mia .
Once Elena had left with her maids, a brief silence filled the room . The escorting knights of the royal family waited outside, while the five youths, as well as their maids, sat around in the spacious sitting room .
Raven broke the silence first .
“Haven’t you come here because you have something to say? Why don’t you stop being discreet and just be straight with it?”
At Raven’s forthright words, Ian flinched and raised his voice . He was interrupted from stealing glances at Irene .
“Who is being discreet? You’ve become cocky in the short time I haven’t seen you, you little brat . ”
“That’s funny . Do people like you set our status based on age? Or do you perhaps treat any princes older than you as if they are your seniors by chance?”
“What? This brat is really…”
As soon as Elena disappeared, Ian’s true nature started to come out . He seemed to have been holding himself back in Elena’s presence .
Ingrid called out in a calm voice .
“Brother Ian . ”
“Isn’t there a reason why you wanted to come to the Pendragon Duchy, even bringing myself along for the trip? Don’t tell me that you have come all this way just for a simple vacation . ”
Ian closed his mouth .
Raven stared at Ingrid and Ian with intrigued eyes .
He had a growing idea of what was going on . Ian Aragon appeared to have a reason for meeting Raven, just as Raven had a reason to meet Ian .
The reason why the most powerful crown prince candidate, if something were to go awry with the current crown prince, had to meet with the heir to the Pendragon Duchy was…
Raven narrowed his eyes .
This confident, ambitious prince who was in front of him might just be desiring the whole empire . After a moment of silence, Ian finally spoke .
“Can you all excuse us for a moment? Except for His Grace, Alan Pendragon . ”
“… . . !”
Everyone was surprised, including Raven . For the first time, Ian had referred to Alan with an official title .
“Alright . ”
Having read the atmosphere, Ingrid nodded right away . Even though Ian was eccentric and erratic, he was able to differentiate official matters from personal ones .
After all, his title of imperial army commander wasn’t achieved purely through luck .
“Lady Irene Pendragon, I heard rumours of how exquisite Conrad Castle’s gardens are . Could you possibly guide us there? I think it might be nice if we could go on a walk together, with Lady Seyrod as well . ”
“Oh, is that so? It would be an honor for me to be your guide . Sister Luna, let’s go together . ”
The three quick-witted ladies left the sitting room to the two young men . Silence soon filled the room . The two young men were figures that could one day become pillars of the empire .
The air grew thick with tension . It was a different type of tension compared to their first meeting . A young dragon and a tiger locked eyes with each other, each hopeful to anticipate the other’s next move .
Raven waited for Ian to speak, slightly dampening his throat with white wine . It wasn’t Raven’s way to initiate the conversation without knowing what his opponent’s purpose was . Ian returned Raven’s sharp gaze, then opened his lips .
“You’ve changed a lot . Frankly speaking, when I first heard the rumors from my people, I thought they were full of shit, but now, I see that the rumors were rather lacking . ”
Ten years ago, Ian had seen Alan Pendragon from a distance when he brought forth the news of the engagement’s annulment . At the time, Alan was a weak, scared boy . No one would have believed that he was descended from a line of great warriors .
That was the Alan Pendragon that Ian had seen then . But now, the boy had changed .
No, he wasn’t a boy anymore .
Over a decade later, Alan Pendragon had completely transformed into a different man .
“So, you played that stupid prank just to confirm things?”
“There’s no better way to check . Besides, who was the one that played along and responded to the provocation?”
Ian spoke with a smile on his face, and Raven responded with one of his own .
Ian was talking about how Raven had engaged him in a battle of spirits and how Raven deliberately asked Soldrake to wait at the spire .
“All of the knights and the soldiers witnessed today’s happening . Rumors spread quite fast in the Royal Batallium . In the high society, it probably spreads at least three times that . Pendragon’s young worm got to fight the monkey of the imperial castle . Isn’t that what you wanted?”
Raven laughed instead of answering . He hadn’t expected Ian to have predicted that much . Ian could not be underestimated . Ian continued .
“I played along with your act, so answer my question this time . ”
“Anything . ”
Raven shrugged . Give and take, it was one of the fundamental philosophies of the world . Ian leaned back comfortably on his chair and asked .
“Will Alan Pendragon fulfill his obligations to the royal family?”
Ian spoke in a rather languid voice .
Yet, the meaning contained in his words was not light .
“Obligations? Not loyalty?”
Raven asked back, which caused Ian to smirk .
“The duchy can do anything on the land they own . What use does loyalty have here? Answer me, are you obligated to the royal family?”
Raven did not answer immediately . Ian’s question was realistic, and it also contained a deeper meaning . Whatever Raven’s answer was, it would bring about a massive change . He had to answer, not for Ian, but for himself and the Pendragon family .
“We keep our obligations . Pendragon shares the blood of the royal family . ”
At Raven’s response, Ian narrowed his eyes and stared deeply with a sharp gaze . The awkward silence returned as the two gazes met in the air once again . Although there was no manifestation of energy, the room was full of tension . FInally, Ian smiled brightly and relieved the pressure .
“Okay, that’s good . Damn it! I was worried for nothing . ”
“What do you mean by that?”
Raven frowned at Ian’s impetuous words .
“You said you would keep your obligations to the royal family . That’s enough . If anything happens in the Royal Batallium, just make sure that you keep your obligations, keep to your word . ”
Raven sensed that Ian Aragon was talking about complicated matters, possibly referring to the current crown prince .
‘He asked me in regards to the royal family, not himself . That means…’
Numerous ideas passed through his mind .
Raven could finally see why the person named Ian Aragon had come here and had asked whether Raven felt obligations towards the royal family, and not himself the prince .
It was likely the same reason why Ian was known as a reckless simpleton . It would explain why people feared Ian, but also respected him .
Prince Ian . He must have spread this stigma on purpose .
“Hm? Why are you looking at me like that? You’re making me uncomfortable . ”
Ian frowned as Raven gazed at him with smiles in his eyes .
“No, it just occurred to me that the second prince, who is infamous for being crude and reckless, is unexpectedly thorough and smart . ”
“Of course, I am smart . I’m offended that you would say it’s unexpected . ”
“Naturally . Just as you didn’t fully believe in the rumors until you saw me today, I only heard of your rumors before I met you today . But now, I know for sure . ”
Raven poured wine into Ian’s glass, and Ian shifted his head in confusion .
“What do you mean?”
“Even though the second prince might be the most powerful candidate for the position of the crown prince, it seems that he isn’t ambitious for the throne . As well, the second prince seems to care more about the prominence of the throne and the crown prince . ”
Ian unknowingly clenched his glass . No one had ever successfully grasped his innermost thoughts except Ingrid .
Moreover, for it to be a brat that he hadn’t seen in over ten years…
Glancing at the clear white wine dancing in Ian’s glass, Raven continued his words .
“I told you earlier, didn’t I? The Pendragon Duchy will fulfill its obligations to the royal family . Let me correct myself . I do not know what is going to happen… But if something were to happen, the very thing that you are concerned about, the Pendragon Duchy will stand by your side . ”
Ian’s eyes shook like the liquor in his glass .
“You know what…”
“I promise under the name of Alan Pendragon and of the White Dragon . ”
As soon as Raven finished his sentence, something came in from the open window, as fast as the wind .
[Ray, you’ve called me . ]
“Sorry, I had to use your name . ”
[You don’t have to be sorry . The soul goes beyond the name . ]
“Thank you, Sol . ”
Soldrake patted Raven’s head once .
Ian blankly stared at the two figures before him .
Even though he could not hear what the conversation was about, the woman who stood behind Alan, adorning the dazzling silver-white armor so naturally, seemed to not be human . Her stunning beauty, the wings behind her back that were gently folded, and the dazzling jewels encrusted on her forehead proved her identity .
But Ian wasn’t really surprised .
The woman had appeared as soon as the word ‘White Dragon’ came out of Raven’s mouth . There weren’t many people that could enter a room where the empire’s prince and the duchy’s heir were conversing in without being granted permission .
“Well, the dragon wouldn’t lie in front of the Aragon bloodline . ”
Having regained his coolness, Ian shook his head and looked straight at Soldrake . His gaze was calm and collected and not a trace of greed could be found .
‘He truly is of the royal bloodlines, is it? Or maybe . . . he just has peculiar taste?’
Raven unconsciously thought of Irene, and somehow, the latter explanation seemed more likely .
“Well, the dragon aside, you’re a human… Oi, Alan . Pendragon, you know that you shouldn’t rashly say things in front of the royal family, right? There are no lies in the royal family . ”
“The value of the name Pendragon is not light either . You know that, right?”
Ian grinned at Raven, and Raven retorted with the same words . But unlike his smiling face, Ian’s mind was spinning nonstop .
It would have been sufficient to say that the Pendragon family would fulfill its obligations to the royal family, but the brat in front of him took a step further . He had said that the duchy would stand by his side without question .
He had sworn on his name and even Soldrake’s name .
‘There’s something else…’
Ian had no way of knowing Raven Valt’s situation, so he continued to rethink the situation with care . Raven brought up another topic rather cautiously .
“I’d like to ask you one thing though . Are there any princes with the name Geoffrey?”
“Geoffrey? His majesty sired him from Baroness Earlin…”
Ian tilted his head . He had thought that Raven would ask him about the other princes who were considered top candidates for the spot of the crown prince . But instead, he asked about someone who wasn’t even in the running . Geoffrey was someone who hardly ever set foot outside of his palace .
“What kind of guy is he?”
“I don’t know either . He has his title, like the other children of the concubines . He has little influence and stays fairly quiet . He’s much like a ghost, you wouldn’t even know if he was there or not . But what about him? Do you know him?”
“Is that so? Hm…”
Raven stroked his chin without answering .
As expected, Geoffrey Aragon must be a real person .
But no influence? How could such a man become the emperor in a few years?
Then, a thought flashed by Raven’s mind .
It was unlikely, but what if…?
“Hey, if someone asks you a question, you should answer…”
Raven cut through Ian’s tantrum and asked once more .
“That Geoffrey must have been born in the castle . . . Then what about the baroness? Where is she from? Do you know?”
“Hm, from my knowledge, Baroness Earlin is originally from Sisak . His majesty personally took her in more than twenty years ago from the Port of Leus . Does that answer your question?”
Raven’s eyes opened wide in shock . In this vast empire, the future emperor’s mother came from the same hometown as himself . His heart started throbbing and thoughts began to fill his head .
Maybe it was just a coincidence . But why…? No . It needed to be confirmed .
“Let me ask you one more question . ”
“What is it this time?”
Raven took in a deep breath and asked .
“Three years ago… Was there a treasonous incident near Sisak?”
Ian let out a puff of air and took on a bewildered expression . He started speaking frantically, unable to hide his shock .
“H, how do you know about that? M, maybe you…? No, no . You weren’t even functioning then… Then what is it? How do you know about that? What else do you know?”
Ian’s exaggerated reaction puzzled Raven even further . Several families were involved in the incident of treason . The Valt family, as well as other families from the great territory of Sisak, were abolished . It had been well-known news .
It was no big secret . Some company leaders of the demonic army that came from noble backgrounds knew of the incident .
So why was Ian so agitated?
Raven rolled his head . He needed to maintain his calm at times like this .
“I mean it’s not a huge secret . We have a villa near the territory of Sisak . It was a story that came from over there . You didn’t think the Pendragon would have any intelligence organizations, did you?”
Ian finally calmed down .
“All I know is that a call for rebellion was growing in Sisak, but it was discovered early and quickly taken care of . I’m not sure why you’ve become so interrogative . Is there anything more?”
Ian bit his lips hearing Raven’s question . Then he looked at Raven with concerned eyes . Raven could see that Ian was hesitating about something .
“We’ve already boarded the same boat anyway . There’s nothing to hide . ”
Ian sighed, then downed his glass of wine before speaking in an even lower voice that was brimming with fury .
“As you said, the rebellion was suppressed early . But… Brother Shio was involved in a poisoning case . ”
“What! Is that true?”
Raven jumped from his seat .
Ian nodded with a somber face .
“Yes . Because of the incident in Sisak from 3 years ago, Brother Shio still remains in critical condition . ”
Hearing the appalling news, Raven felt like he was struck in the head with a hammer .
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