Duke Pendragon - Chapter 271

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“Are you sure?”

The 7th imperial regiment commander Viscount Moraine asked hurriedly, and the soldier nodded his head. The soldier’s leather army was packed full of dirt and dust.

“Yes sir! It is definitely the symbol of the Pendragon Duchy.  They are accompanied by orc warriors, so there’s no doubt that it’s really them!”

“Oohh…!”

Viscount Moraine clenched his fist tightly.

It had been unclear whether Duke Pendragon was alive or not, but now it was confirmed. In addition, the Pendragon Duchy’s warriors seemed to have succeeded in meeting and rescuing their monarch.

“Send twenty horses right away. They must have suffered great casualties.”

“Yes!”

A knight answered before hurrying outside. Then, the soldier who gave the report hesitated for a moment before speaking once more.

“Excuse me, Your Excellency.”

“Hmm? Was there anything else to report?”

“Well, it’s just that… with the Pendragon Duchy’s troops, some… strange people seemed to be in the mix as well.”

“Strange people? Say it clearly.”

The soldier answered with a hasty bow as Viscount Moraine frowned.

“They appear similar to hunters, but their faces are painted with strange pictures. There are around 70, 80 of them. However, they are marching in an orderly fashion. They seem to be following the orders of Duke Pendragon…”

“Huh?”

Viscount Moraine’s frown deepened at the incomprehensible words.

***

“Hey, we aren’t in the Great Forest anymore. Do you have to keep… that?”

“From the moment we became warriors of the Red Moon Valley, we always maintained this appearance.”

“No, well, I get that. But this is the place where scarecrows live.”

“…..”

Ellaja became silent at Karuta’s words. Then, Karuta continued without hesitation.

“Keung! To be honest, why do you think the scarecrows keep avoiding us like they’ve seen some kind of ghost? It’s because of you guys. All the scarecrows we’ve run into so far are afraid of us.”

“Fancy words coming from an orc. Aren’t you guys hideous from a human point of view as well?”

Ellaja retorted with a snap, but Karuta snorted.

“Kerhe! Hey, the Ancona orcs are already famous here. We are heroes who saved the South with Pendragon. Even if they are scared of us, they don’t avoid us. On the other hand, you elf scarecrows…”

As Karuta’s speech continued, the Ancona Orc warriors and even the human soldiers around him began to nod their heads in agreement. Surely so, the appearance of the Red Moon Valley warriors was very strange to ordinary people. Their faces were littered with strange pictures to frighten the enemies, and various animal bones and feathers decorated their entire bodies.

Above all, when nearly a hundred warriors possessed such an appearance, they looked even more frightening and bizarre.

“…No, how does it make sense that elves have less common sense than the orcs?”

“Kuehehehehe!”

Karuta was a being of simplicity and ignorance. When he spoke such words, the orc warriors burst into boisterous laughter.

“My lord, I think Karuta has a point there. Would you not agree?’

Killian spoke, looking back at the elves from the front.

“He certainly does. The fact that all the villagers we encountered ran away…”

Raven nodded while licking his lips. With such a large group, the water and food they brought from the village of Red Moon Valley had long been consumed. In the end, they had to enter the villages on their way to Raxla in order to resupply. However, when they passed by the villages, everyone locked themselves inside their houses.

Honestly, it would have been rather strange for the villagers to have not been frightened. Elves normally looked like regular humans. It was a daunting sight for so many of them to have strange appearances.

He would send ordinary soldiers and knights to buy the required supplies, but the real problem could surface once they finally arrived at Raxla. The orcs had a unique appearance, and many orcs had been wandering the South for a long time. Hence, their presence would not be strange, but the elves of the Red Moon Valley were different.

Raven himself had felt repulsed at their first encounter. The others would surely react strongly.

“Eltuan.”

When Raven called, Eltuan approached. She had been walking behind him expressionlessly.

“I think Karuta is right this time around. This is not the Great Forest. This means that we do not have to fight every day. You only need to give fear and intimidate your enemies on the battlefield.”

“Is that so…?”

Eltuan frowned at Raven’s words.

She had also noticed the reason behind why the humans ran away whenever they looked their way. However, she had maintained this appearance ever since she became a warrior. It hurt her pride and made her feel uncomfortable to change it.

“I won’t go so far as to ask you to wear shoes. But why don’t you erase the drawings on your face?”

“This has a significance in our tribe as to…”

“I know. But as I said, there are few monsters outside the Great Forest and fights are not very common. Don’t you erase the patterns in the village?”

“Well… That’s right.”

Eltuan agreed.

As Raven said, they erased the patterns on their faces when they were resting in the village.

“It might be better to erase it until we arrive at Raxla. I will let you know if we are heading into a battle. You can redraw it at that time.”

“…Okay.”

Eltuan begrudgingly complied with a sigh. She turned around and shouted something to her tribesmen in the elven language. A commotion broke out among the elves for a while. However, with continued persuasion from Eltuan, all of them began to wipe their faces with wet cloths.

 A short while later,

“Hahaha! What a nice sight!”

Killian approached the elven warriors with a huge grin. To be exact, he approached the female warriors.

“Oh, why didn’t you go around like this before? Never mind running away, people would have been dying to strike up a conversation!”

Not all the elves understood the imperial language, so they were unable to understand Killian’s words. However, the female warriors looked at Killian with a ridiculous expression. His words were conveyed through his tone and facial expression. They had already seen how he acted towards women in their village.

But Killian was not the only one with such thoughts. The soldiers also observed the faces of the elven warriors with admiration.

“They really are handsome…”

“That’s not just handsome. They are beautiful.”

“Hmm.”

Even Raven was unable to take his eyes off them for a while. He nodded in response. Just as caterpillars metamorphosed into butterflies, the transformation of the elven warriors was truly surprising. Unlike the elves of the mainland, who possessed milky white skin, their skin was a healthy, copper tone. Regardless of their gender, all of them were rare beauties.

In addition, all of them were tall and slender. They were a pleasing sight. The troops in Raxla, as well as the general public, would surely show great curiosity and favor towards the elves.

“What do you think, Sol?”

Raven asked nonchalantly. Soldrake turned her head. She had been walking beside him without saying much until now.

[About what?]

“The elves. Don’t you think they look better than before?”

[I am not sure. Changing their appearance does not change their nature.]

“Well, that is true.”

Raven shrugged at her wise answer to his silly question. Then, Soldrake spoke while peering at the side of his face.

[No matter what Ray looks like, Ray will always be Ray to me.]

“…..”

He grinned, feeling the heartfelt truth of her words. She was right. Perhaps humans cared about appearance, but it was not something that mattered to her at all.

“Hmm, come to think of it…”

As he continued walking, a sudden thought struck Raven. In order to avoid a bad prejudice from the Southern United Army, he had the elves erase the drawings on their faces. But come to think of it, there was a possibility of achieving an even greater effect.

Human beings were judgemental. They would decide their feelings for others depending on the first visible impressions.

If so…

“Mark.”

“Yes! My lord!”

Killian had been giggling near the female warriors. He flinched at Raven’s call and quickly ran towards his lord with a solemn look on his face.

“Stop trying to do useless things. Is there a village nearby that has a marketplace?”

“Yes! According to the map, there is a fairly large town called Fellows. It is around half a day away.”

“Good. Take some soldiers and buy some things when we pass by the town.”

“What? But we have plenty of water and food to last us until we reach Raxla…”

Killian showed his confusion. Raven replied with a smile around his mouth.

“It is for something else. We might be able to bring those who are still skeptical about the coalition to our side.”

“What…?”

Raven’s smile deepened as Killian’s confusion grew even larger.

***

“I can see them!”

“Oh…!”

Isak, a knight of the 7th regiment, widened his eyes at the soldier’s words. He had departed to greet the soldiers of the Pendragon Duchy at the commands of Viscount Moraine. The flag was torn and ragged, but the symbol of the dragon definitely belonged to the Pendragon Duchy.

“Thank god! What a relief!”

Isak had accompanied Duke Pendragon ever since Leus, all the way through their long journey to the South. Isak came to acknowledge and respect Duke Pendragon the most after his immediate superior, Viscount Moraine.

Even though Duke Pendragon was younger than himself, his abilities as a knight were superb. Moreover, he was a monarch who gained the immovable confidence of his knights and subordinates. He was completely different from the nobles that Isak had seen until now. He was a man worth respecting.

“Let’s go! Hmm…?”

Isak tightened his grip on the reins, then narrowed his eyes. The sight of the Pendragon Duchy’s soldiers and the orc warriors was nothing new. However, the figures who were walking in two rows at the rear of the group…

“I had been informed that they were accompanied by savage-looking people with strange drawings on their faces, but…?”

Isak muttered in a quiet voice while tilting his head.

The new addition to the group possessed a different appearance than what he had read in the reports. They were wearing light green robes with brown boots and carrying bows behind their backs.

“This is…”

“They look somewhat similar to the rangers from the mainland, right?”

A 7th regiment knight verbalized Isak’s thoughts.

The strangers in the Pendragon Duchy’s forces possessed a similar appearance to the rangers of the mainland. The rangers traversed through the mountains in the central empire and the fields in the north, focusing their efforts on guarding the border and eradicating monsters.

“This is strange…”

Isak urged his horse to go a little faster.

Soon, he met with the Pendragon Duchy’s forces. He hurried off his horse as soon as he saw the man at the group’s forefront.

“Your Excellency Duke Pendragon!”

Duke Pendragon was smiling at him, looking no different from when they had separated.

“How have you been, Sir Isak.”

“Not very well, unfortunately. But compared to what you must have gone through…”

Isak bowed his head. He felt his heart heating up.

“It is only natural to suffer a little. I came all the way here to fight. Anyways, thank you for coming all this way to greet me. I am glad that I chose to come to Raxla.”

“Yes. Please, mount the horse.”

Feeling his eyes heating up, Isak guided Raven to the horse. Suddenly, he turned his head and asked carefully.

“Your  Excellency, those in the back…”

“Hmm, they fought alongside us in the Great Forest. Let me introduce them to you. Eltuan.”

Isak’s eyes widened in shock when a figure walked out with a calm expression.

“…..!”

She had long, pointed ears jutting out of her long, luscious hair. The word ‘beautiful’ did not do her justice, she possessed an inhumane beauty.

Who in the empire would not know the race?

“Elf…!”

All the soldiers from Isak’s group became shocked with their mouths agape, starting with their leader.

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