Suddenly, a knight shouted.
“Honestly, no matter what anyone says, I do not regret joining the Knights of Eckhart. I am proud to be a member of this order!”
He was a knight that Vivian saw often. He spoke confidently, pounding his chest with his clenched fist. Then, the knight next to him smiled and expressed his sympathy, and both of them began to raise their voices proudly.
“If it wasn’t for the Captain, Enka and I would’ve received the death penalty.”
Tainy intervened, pulling Enka and Vivian, who were seated far away, together by their hands.
At this moment, it was clear towards whom their emotions were directed. The eyes of the knights were focused on one place. Beside Vivian.
“Why is everyone acting strangely?”
Roger, who was fiddling with his glass, grinned without even looking up. His rough appearance came across as very affectionate. The knights were in agreement as they looked at each other, giggled, and started to drink again.
A few minutes later, a knight spoke to Vivian. Vivian, who had occasionally been sipping alcohol, suddenly noticed a knight sitting in front of her and widened her eyes. Roger’s gaze followed. He introduced himself as Brian, and asked in a low voice.
“Are we like wild beasts?”
Vivian almost dropped her glass. but somehow endured it and stared at Brian with a bewildered expression. Roger’s eyes were also confused, but Brian’s will was firm. He was not afraid of Roger’s cold gaze.
“What… wild beasts?”
“I heard rumors like that in the Capital. The Knights of Eckhart, like wild beasts, are reckless and uncontrollable.”
She knew that rumors had spread, but Brian wasn’t trying to confirm that fact. He was trying to ask what Vivian thought about the rumors.
Putting her glass down, Vivian shook her head.
“No, I don’t think so.”
Ever since getting to know them, Vivian had been skeptical of the rumors. The Knights of Eckhart were affectionate, strong, and decent people. She did not know why the rumors about them were so harsh.
“At first, I was worried because I thought you would be like the rumors because I didn’t know you… But now…”
Vivian, who had been confiding her feelings, was a little embarrassed when she realized that all eyes were focused on her. She turned to Roger involuntarily, but he was also staring at her as if he was waiting for her answer. She broke into a cold sweat.
Vivian opened her mouth at length.
“Considering the rumors… you’re different.”
It wasn’t a very strange answer, but her mouth was dry as if she had drank salt water. As soon as she finished speaking, she gulped down her drink. At that moment, the atmosphere that had hardened like ice melted, and everyone burst out into laughter. Brian had a shy but happy expression.
“Then, my Lady, please restore our image!”
Vivian almost spit out her alcohol this time. She blinked her eyes to see if it was a drunk hallucination, but Brian said it again, not budging.
“My Lady, we want you to spread good things about the Knights of Eckhart. We can’t spend our youth with this kind of image.”
Brian muttered, a weeping and distracted mass. Vivian couldn’t easily respond to the absurd request from the knight she had met for the first time today.
“Stop being rude to the Lady and go back to your seat, Brian.”
Seeing that she was perplexed, Roger intervened. But Brian was sticking to his story as he had intended. Seeing that his cheeks were a little red, it looked like he was drunk.
“Ah, Captain! To be honest, if it wasn’t for the Imperial Knights, our image would never have been this bad, right? I still get goosebumps just thinking about it!”
Vivian, who had been quietly cheering for Roger to stop Brian, opened her eyes wide. Why were the Imperial Knights coming up? A deep doubt crept into her mind.
“The Imperial Knights?”
Unable to contain her curiosity, she quickly asked him for clarification, but Roger waved his hand as if it was nothing. Then he glared fiercely at Brian.
“Don’t go around talking about things that haven’t been confirmed.”
“Wasn’t it the Imperial Knights who spread unconfirmed rumors? Our image wouldn’t have been this bad if it weren’t for the vile rumors they spread in the Capital!”
Vivian couldn’t help but be surprised this time as well. Her wide eyes and gaping mouth proved it.
“The Imperial Knights… spread malicious rumors?”
“Yes, my Lady! We are really sorry.”
Brian turned away from Roger, and told Vivian that he was upset.
“Isn’t it known that the commander of the Imperial Knights hates the Eckhart Knights very much? Our Captain, who is stronger than him, makes him jealous. That’s why he used the knights under him to spread bad rumors about us. As the Lady knows, knights from noble families are higher in standing.”
Obviously, unlike the Eckhart Knights, which consisted of death row inmates, mercenaries, and those of humble backgrounds, the Imperial Knights were mostly children of noble families. Dinus, the leader, was the eldest son of a Marquis. He came from a good family, and took the position of commander as soon as he was knighted. The knights under him were of as good families as him.
Even if the Knights of Eckhart were knighted, their influence was not great, and common knights were not treated as nobles. Therefore, most capable men were pushed into the Imperial Knights.
She felt that the rumors about the Knights of Eckhart were absurd several times while she was living with them. But it never clicked until now. Vivian rubbed the back of her head as if she had been hit by something.
“We were laying low, and then suddenly we were criticized. Isn’t it unfair?”
“Oh, that’s terrible.”
“Well, I don’t think the Captain has anything to be embarrassed about. The fact that the Captain has a bad personality is the only truth!”
Brian, who was excited that Vivian was listening to him, spat out, but finally shut his mouth after being stabbed in the side by Roger. Vivian’s ears buzzed as he screamed loudly, grabbing his side in pain.
“Noisy. Now shut up and go back to your seat.”
“What did I say wrong? You are our Captain. You are famous- Eek! I’ll go! I’m going!”
As he tried to protest, Roger’s eyes gleamed fiercely like a tiger’s. When Brian didn’t stand down, Tainy, who was sitting next to him, started smacking him on the back. The two men’s cooperative attack forced Brian to run off as if he was physically kicked out.
“They said that, but is it true?”
Vivian, unable to overcome her shock, asked urgently to confirm the truth. Roger had no answer. With a face that looked unwilling to answer, Vivian turned to Tainy.
Perhaps he wasn’t as daring as Roger, but he avoided Vivian’s gaze and sighed.
“Yeah. All of the sudden, there were rumors of things we had never done, so I looked for the source and found out that it was all coming out of the mouths of Imperial Knights.”
Vivian clamped her mouth shut and pondered. There were several rumors that immediately came to mind.
“A few years ago, pouring alcohol on a young girl who asked for a dance at the ball.”
“A ball? I have never participated in such a shameful event.”
“Catch a passing knight and deliberately quarreling with him to ask for a duel.”
“We cannot duel without the Captain’s permission. And above all else, the Captain doesn’t give permission for duels unless it’s within our Order.”
“On the day of a banquet, you ignored Madame McCurdy’s earnest request…”
“I swear to you, I have never been asked for anything by any lady. I am too busy avoiding them.”
Tainy refuted the rumors that came out of her mouth one by one. His answers, which came without hesitation, were a mixture of dissatisfaction and the familiarity of being misunderstood.
“You mean the rumors are from the Imperial Knights? It’s really all…”
If the rumors about the Knights of Eckhart were horrible, the Imperial Knights were the complete opposite. The Imperial Knights were unmatched, exemplary, and the model of goodness. Perhaps their status stood out more in contrast to the vicious Eckhart Knights that resided in the underbelly of the Capital. Vivian was now clearly aware of the contrast.
Vivian suddenly remembered the conversation she had with Roger in the drawing room. That day, he asked Vivian about the rumors surrounding the Knights of Eckhart. And when she said she thought differently, he said,
-I’m thankful the Lady knows the truth.
She understood a little bit now. She found out why the Knights of Eckhart, who were so different from the rumors, had such a miserable reputation.
At the same time, anger against the Imperial Knights mounted from within. She remembered Glen, who visited Eckhart headquarters, and openly ignored Roger with sarcasm.
‘Come to think of it, I didn’t apologize properly then.’
Glen’s handsome impression had long since been erased from her mind. Now, he was no longer a straight and good Captain, but a cowardly hypocrite.
“I’ve only been to a social gathering once, so I don’t know many people… but I will definitely spread good things the next time I have a chance.”
She felt Roger’s eyes on her. Vivian didn’t avoid his gaze this time and met his eyes firmly. This was something she wanted to say to Roger more than the Knights. The last time, he thanked her for knowing the truth.
“The Knights of Eckhart are much, much better than the Imperial Knights!”