Duke Pendragon - Chapter 300

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“Heave-ho! Heave-ho!”

“This is from Quasar! You have to be careful with it!”

“This is the last of ‘em!”

Endriver was just a small harbor in the past, but now it was bustling with energy and movement. In line with the development of York Town, which was located about 10 miles away, Endriver also grew in size and became more crowded than ever before.

Several streams from the central areas of the empire gathered together to form a wide river, which was about 1,500 yards (about 11 kilometers) wide. The current was slow and the water deep, allowing merchant ships and galleys to enter after crossing the inland sea. Therefore, merchants from the South and foreign countries entered the mainland through Endriver if they wanted to trade with the Pendragon Duchy and the nearby territories.

Most seafarers rested and relieved their stress in Endriver. Since the sailors needed to stay close to their ships, many shops and facilities were constructed near the harbor to suit their needs. Endriver was a perfect place to relax for a short while.

“Why don’t you have a quick meal before you leave? It must have been a long voyage.”

One man spoke cautiously. He was a part of a group that had just disembarked a small boat.

“No, it is fine. You said it would only take a couple of hours by carriage, right? Let us get going.”

“Yes, senior.”

Although the man was addressed as such, he only looked to be in his mid to late 30s. The man nodded and boarded a carriage that had been prepared prior. Soon, a few people from his group followed suit and entered the carriage. The rest of them prepared to climb onto the horses.

“Hooh! If it isn’t Sir Mandy? I never thought I would run into you at a place like this.”

“Hmm?”

Karl Mandy, the Gold King of the South, narrowed his eyes while turning his head out the window of the carriage. At the same time, his entourage quickly exited the carriage and placed their hands on the handle of their swords.

“You are still very careful. Long time no see.”

Karl Mandy’s eyes grew larger with surprise when he saw the identity of the other man. He had a slightly curved, hooked nose and gray eyes that shone with a strange light.

“Huh? Aren’t you Dos?”

Karl Mandy spoke in a welcoming voice. He gestured toward the guards disguised as attendants, and they pulled their hands away from the weapons. However, they were still quite nervous and monitored the other party with suspicious eyes. After all, they were tasked with protecting the master of the association through his journey in the mainland.

Karl Mandy burst out laughing at their appearance.

“Haha! Everybody, at ease. I would be embarrassed to treat the famous Dos Giovanni as if he were some kind of mischievous grunt.”

“Huh?”

“Dos Giovanni…!”

All of the warriors were from the South, but they were stunned to hear Giovanni’s name. Even though they lived by their swords, after serving Karl Mandy for a long time, they came to recognize the famous players in the empire’s commerce. In addition, the person in front of them was not just some random merchant, but the successor to the famous Giovanni Chamber of Commerce.

“Please excuse our behavior.”

Finally realizing their mistakes, the warriors returned to their respective places after bowing politely. However, Dos Giovanni shrugged as if it were nothing, then pulled his horse closer to Karl Mandy’s carriage.

“I had heard that you departed from the South, but you arrived earlier than I expected.”

Although they were of similar age, Dos Giovanni was very polite as he spoke to Karl Mandy. It was only natural, as the opponent was the Gold King, a tycoon that loomed over the entirety of the South. Age was only a number. Even Giovanni’s boss, his father, could not treat Karl Mandy recklessly, let alone he.

“My one and only daughter left for another place alone, so I felt quite uncomfortable staying still. I pushed myself a little bit.”

Karl Mandy naturally accepted his opponent’s polite manner of speaking.

“Now that you mention it, I had heard that your daughter, Lady Mandy, headed to the Pendragon Duchy along with His Excellency the Duke, right? Congratulations.”

“Huh, congratulations? What do you mean by that?”

Karl Mandy blinked rapidly as if he knew nothing.

‘What a fox-like man…’

Dos Giovanni smiled coldly on the inside. Any merchant could tell you that the Gold King had sent his daughter to the Pendragon Duchy in order to expand his influence to the empire’s mainland.

But no one criticized it. Almost every merchant wanted to have blood ties with a great nobleman or a leading figure of the imperial castle. In fact, many of the large players of commerce were closely related to the big figures of politics through blood ties.

“Well, are you saying that your daughter has no relationship with the Duke of Pendragon?”

“Isn’t that a matter for the involved parties to deal with? I would not be the one to tell them what to do. Besides, you know how the duke is more than I do, isn’t that right?”

Dos Giovanni flinched inwardly at Karl Mandy’s good-natured smile.

“I have heard that the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce played a major role in distributing the Pendragon coins to the different parts of the mainland. If you’ve earned that much trust from him, I trust that you know the duke’s intentions much better than I.”

“I was just lucky.”

Dos Giovanni responded with a smile of his own, hiding his innermost thoughts.

“Yes. I’m just hoping to be a little lucky this time around as well. Who knows? Maybe His Excellency the Duke will take a liking to my modest daughter. Hahaha!”

“…..”

Dos Giovanni could not find a response to Karl Mandy’s laugh. The Gold King of the South was as unpredictable as the amount of wealth he owned…

“Anyhow, it seems you were on your way to York Town as well. Would you like to join me?”

Karl Mandy suggested as he finished laughing.

It was an unbelievable suggestion. The two people were worthy of being called rivals, and they were constantly embroiled in a silent, but fearsome battle. It was hard to think that they would travel together.

“Sure.”

However, Dos Giovanni agreed to his opponent’s proposal without any hesitation.

‘Hooh?’

This time around, Karl Mandy’s eyes shone with a glimmer.

‘Not bad at all.’

Dos Giovanni was certainly an outstanding merchant. He had recognized the investment potential in the Pendragon Duchy and the duke and went all in.

“The weather is nice, and I am not in a hurry. I will accompany you. Perhaps I can entertain you so that you won’t be bored on your journey.”

“That will be great. Hahaha!”

Although the two were smiling on the outside, sharp blades were drawn in their hearts. The two men began their journey toward their destination, traveling together in a strange twist of fate.

***

Tap… Tap… Tap…

The conference room at the York Town official residence was engulfed in a strange silence, and only the sound of someone tapping the table resounded loudly. Dozens of nobles were seated around a long, fancy table. All of them looked anxious. Some gulped down water as if they were frustrated, but no one broke the tense silence.

All of their eyes were gathered in one place.

They looked towards a door that directly connected the official residence to the office of the lord, the one who ruled over the vast territory of Pendragon.

“It appears he will be a little late…”

In the end, a nobleman muttered in a slightly cracked voice. He had found it difficult to overcome the tense silence. Once the silence was broken, the nobles started to whisper in quiet voices as if they had been waiting.

“Maybe the revenue was less than what he was expecting?”

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“I don’t think that’s the issue. In the first place, he said he wasn’t expecting any revenue for the first couple of years after the construction of York Town.”

“Maybe it’s an issue with the population. Sir Horn, are you sure you’ve gotten the correct numbers?”

“As of 15 days ago, we investigated and documented the population accurately without error. I could bet my life on it.”

An older nobleman asked, and a younger man replied in a firm voice.

“Well, if you say so…”

The old nobleman licked his lips while responding. The older man had lived in the duchy for his entire life. He was faithful, but rather blind when it came to the matters of the rest of the world. On the other hand, the younger nobleman had made his way to the duchy after falling in love with the land’s master while rejecting all of the other major nobles’ approaches(?).

“Since he was on an expedition for a long time, I think it may be an issue regarding the military…”

Everyone’s eyes turned at someone’s words.

Sir Jade.

As one of the duchy’s knights, he was originally the commander of Bellint Gate, but he had been recently relocated as the interim chief of security of York Town. York Town had been growing at a much faster rate than originally expected, which was why an experienced knight’s presence was required to maintain order. Sir Jade raised his eyebrows at the noble’s words.

“Are you questioning my training style and leadership?”

“Oh, no, I wasn’t…”

He wasn’t as strong as Killian or Isla, but Sir Jade had endured decades of hardship along with the duchy as a knight. When he displayed slight anger, the nobles quickly waved their hands in denial. Although he was not a prominent knight, Jade was a responsible and stable commander.

He would never become lax or stray from his duties because his lord was away, especially when he was left in charge of the security of the most important city in the duchy.

“Then why do you think he’s so late…?”

Thud.

The door suddenly opened before the noble could finish his words, and all of the nobles in the hall turned their heads at the same time.

Tap. Tap.

After confirming that their lord was walking into the conference room along with Vincent, they gulped loudly without realizing it. For knights and soldiers, the most awe-inspiring look for their lord would be when he was adorned in his silver-white armor, but for the civil servants, they felt most fear when their monarch was wearing comfortable clothes with a cool gaze.

Even before he fell unconscious, Duke Pendragon was rumored to have had a very good head, though he was frail and easily frightened.

“Hmm? What’s wrong with the atmosphere?”

Raven tilted his head in confusion and looked around after taking his seat. But the nobles avoided his gaze and coughed. After recognizing the atmosphere, Vincent smiled and answered in their stead.

“It has already been more than an hour since I reported to you, my lord. It is not unreasonable for the sirs to be nervous.”

“What? Has it already been that long?”

Raven was genuinely surprised.

He had been receiving a detailed report from Vincent regarding the overall matters of York Town. He had been unaware that so much time had passed.

“Oh, I’m sorry about this. I have troubled you all.”

They would be busy as they were, but Raven had inadvertently kept them in check for over an hour. He spoke apologetically with an awkward smile.

But the smile was understood in a completely different manner by the nobles.

“Heuk…”

“Not at all! H, how could we dare, my lord!”

The nobles bowed their heads in shock.

“Huih…?”

Raven became even more puzzled at their excessive response. He smiled because he was sorry. He could not understand why they were so flustered.

“Ah! Perhaps…’

But soon, he realized why the nobles were responding in this way. Those who travelled with him in the South had seen him smile a few times, but the people who remained in the duchy had almost never seen him smile. Besides, he had never realized, but Karuta and Eltuan had told him that…

“You have a very different atmosphere when you smile from the bottom of your heart and when you smile half-heartedly.”

“Yes. I have to agree with Karuta this time. I don’t know about us elves or orcs, but humans must be frightened out of their wits when you force a smile.”

“…..”

Raven wiped the smile off his face as he recalled their words. Many people had mentioned that he appeared very cold when he forcibly smiled, so even if he tried to appease the atmosphere with a smile…

“Everything is our fault, my lord!”

“If you point out our mistakes and faults, we will correct them right away!”

The nobles cried out in an even louder, tear-filled voice. Their monarch gave a very frightening smile, then his expression had suddenly turned as cold as ice.

Whatever the issue was, it must have been their fault.

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