Dragon Devouring Chapter 165

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EPISODE.83

The Princess’s Outing.

It was not just an outing within the Royal Capital, but one beyond the city limits. If it had been a regular event, a bit of commotion would have been expected. However, contrary to expectations, there was no uproar. As it wasn’t an official state affair, the princess herself had hoped to minimize any disturbance. And so, preparations had to be made modestly. Of course, modest by royal standards was still quite grand.

With a burst of bright light illuminating the hall, Hecate, adorned like the daughter of a noble family, let out a sigh.

“Hmm…”

She looked back with a slightly uncomfortable expression, noting,

“…While I appreciate the notion of being escorted, we’ll stand out too much wherever we go this way.”

She spoke looking at the dozen or so Royal Guards following her.

“Since today’s not an official royal event, how about you guards also change into everyday clothes, and follow from a distance of several tens of steps?”

“However, Your Highness. That is…”

A higher-ranked Royal Guard began, clearly about to give a longwinded spiel about the importance of the princess’s safety.

Swhoosh.

Stepping forward, Hecate interrupted him.

“I am well aware that your concerns for my safety prompt such remarks. But today is different, isn’t it?”

She gently pinched the hem of the cloak worn by Russell, who was standing beside her, and smiled subtly.

“With the company of Count Russell Raymond, a 6th circle magician right by my side, to threaten my safety… at least a superhuman-class opponent would be needed.”

Would someone send a superhuman to assassinate the princess of Endymion in broad daylight, in the middle of the city?

“Even if it were the empire, I doubt they’d go to such insane lengths… What do you think, guards?”

At the princess’s question, the eyes of the Royal Guards immediately turned to Russell.

Feeling their gazes, the young man with dark hair and red eyes coughed awkwardly.

“Ahem…”

The Royal Guard who had initially voiced opposition sighed lightly.

To object now would be to dismiss the feats of Count Raymond, and given the considerable achievements he had racked up, even as a 5th circle magician who once severed a superhuman’s limb, that was not an option.

Moreover, Russell had further ascended to 6th circle, stacking up countless notable deeds, making any plausible threat to the princess’s safety while he was present quite few.

Acknowledging this, the Royal Guard stepped back.

“We understand. We shall dress in plainsclothes and follow unnoticed, Your Highness.”

“I am grateful for your concession.”

“But in exchange…”

“…?”

“May we increase the number of knights following us?”

The idea was to form a denser protection as they kept their distance.

“As you’ve listened to my plea, it’s only right that I reciprocate.”

Hecate agreed cheerfully with a nod.

“Very well.”

Approximately thirty minutes later, Russell and Hecate emerged from the space where the warp gate was located, after the Royal Guards had their requested reinforcements arrive.

Their number had doubled to thirty.

‘From the moment we leave this place, they will follow at a set distance.’

If they concentrated, they could easily sense the presence of those following them.

This was her thought as they headed towards the first floor where the entrance lie.

Squeak.

The creaking of an old staircase.

Walking in step, Hecate moved her lips.

“Russell.”

“Yes, Hecate?”

“Is our meeting with the mayor scheduled for tonight?”

In the end, it was official business that brought Russell to observe his territory.

The three cities that comprised the majority of his domain each needed a meeting with their respective mayors.

As Russell stroked his chin, Hecate’s lips spread into a smile.

“Then, before that, we shall have time to tour the city together.”

It was as if her heart fluttered like a child with a new toy, she couldn’t quite understand why.

“Ahem.”

Worried that her racing heart might be heard, Hecate coughed quietly.

As they left the building with the warp gate,

Whoosh.

A cool breeze met them, sending her hair fluttering, and the ambient sounds of life echoed around.

“Come, take a look! This is what’s currently trending in the Royal Capital…!!”

“Honey sweets here! Candies as well!”

“I think this much pork should be enough, but can we get more liquor? I heard citrus beer from the southern regions is really popular these days…”

From merchants opening their stalls to sell goods to restaurant owners preparing for the lunch rush – a diverse group of people carrying on with their daily lives added vitality to the streets.

This was one of the three cities bestowed upon Russell by the king, a city well on its way to making him a quasi-grand lord – Westel City.

Its growth was impressive given it only had these few cities.

‘It’s no wonder it’s classified as a major city.’

Unlike Count Reinke’s territory, which enjoyed plentiful harvests every year, Westel didn’t have vast farmlands.

Yet, it grew into a major city due to two main reasons.

‘The first is the waterways.’

Goods often traveled by water as readily as by land.

Westel City had three major rivers flowing into it.

The influx of traders thus naturally fostered the city’s development.

‘And the second reason…’

Mid-thought, Russell abruptly reached out.

He gently enveloped Hecate’s shoulder, pulling her into his arms.

Their smooth movements flowed like water and,

Swoosh, thunk.

Suddenly pressed against Russell’s chest, Hecate was flustered.

“Russell…!?”

Just a half-beat later, a cart laden with merchandise whizzed by, narrowly missing where Hecate had been standing. While it wasn’t fast enough to have caused a serious accident and Hecate could have dodged it herself, it was always better to be safe.

“Are you alright?”

“I-I am fine.”

Stuttering, Hecate straightened herself out. Then, she turned her head slightly, worried her flushed face might give her away.

‘This is like a scene straight out of that novel I read.’

Before her engagement to Russell,

The princess once pleaded with her maid to lend her a romance novel.

[Taming the Younger Man]

A part similar to her present situation came unbidden to her mind.

‘I expected an ordinary day, but to reproduce such a scene…’

She usually would have shrugged off such an occurrence, but reminiscing about the novel made her more conscious of Russell.

Feeling her face get hot, Hecate coughed and fanned herself.

“Ahem.”

Confused, Russell watched as she looked around for something else to discuss.

Luckily, there was something perfectly suitable nearby –

“That said, we can begin to see Westel Academy from here.”

The sprawling, grand academy buildings took center stage, with their distinctive red domes.

This academy was the second reason behind Westel City’s rise to a major city.

On par with the Walkers Hill Academy –

‘As the alma mater of the distinguished magician Niccolò Machiavelli…’

Westel Academy.

Although it had fallen slightly in standing next to Walkers Hill, which had produced not only the Tower Lords of the Azure and Flame Towers but also Russell and Allan, the status of Westel Academy as one of Endymion’s leading institutions could not be denied.

“Hmm.”

After observing the unique roofing of the academy for a while, Hecate spoke out, now composed.

“Have you thought about why His Majesty granted you a city that included an academy as territory, Russell?”

Westel City had been directly managed by the royal family thus far, almost a direct royal mandate.

‘To include a city I had been managing directly into my domain…’

Russell hadn’t considered this issue before; the answer became clear with a bit of thought.

His sharp, rational intuition as a magician led to a swift convergence towards one conclusion.

“Could it be… people?”

For what reason could the high nobility maintain their titles and power for so long?

Financial strength, networks, or perhaps military power.

There were likely various reasons, and people, namely talent, was one of them.

No matter how sufficient one’s wealth or connections, without capable individuals to support it, maintaining such power would be difficult.

Not without reason did so many nobles strive to enlist more capable personnel.

And academies were one of the best places to scout such talent.

“If anyone, I expected you to realize it.”

Hecate nodded with a satisfied smile.

“While many wealthy merchants and nobles’ offspring do enter the academy, it cannot be said they represent it in its entirety.”

Those with talent, albeit poor.

Or those who possessed a passion surpassing even that talent also had a place at the academy.

“Since it’s within my domain, it shouldn’t be too difficult to receive reports regarding such students.”

She concluded her point with these words.

“Perhaps, even before you were to become my betrothed, His Majesty wished for the Raymond House to reaffirm its position as a staunch ally of the royal family.”

Conversations from the previous day with King Alphonso Latmos sprang to mind.

Though not directly involved in the events that had led the Raymond House to its current predicament, had he not expressed regret that their reports had been manipulated?

A sign that his words were genuine.

‘…Westel Academy.’

Perhaps within lie the proverbial geese that could lay golden eggs.

Dragon Devouring Mage Translator.

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