LTBE: Chapter 66: The Radiant One

 Chapter 66: The Radiant One
 Words couldn’t describe how Roel felt when Nora unfurled her wings of light and shielded him behind her.
 He had considered many possibilities. Perhaps Nora would attack him; perhaps she would try to communicate with him peacefully; perhaps she might try to put some distance between them to guard against him; perhaps she would feel desperate, with no choice but to kill him.
 However, he never imagined that Nora would actually show her back to him.
 While Roel didn’t possess an Origin Attribute, he was not completely powerless. On the contrary, he definitely bore a means that could heavily injure Nora—the Ascendwing Short Sword.
 This was a weapon that Nora had activated for him, and it allowed him to easily breach the defenses of an Origin Level 5 transcendent. If Roel had set his mind to betray her right now, she would be utterly defenseless given the close range. By daring to give him her back, she was displaying her full trust.
 It was true that Nora had been good to him all this while, but he never thought that she would go to such an extent for him. Was she confident of defeating the enemy standing before them?
 No, that wasn’t it. Roel had no idea what trump cards Nora had up her sleeves, but he was able to sense some of her emotions. It was nearly indiscernible, but the hand she was holding his with was trembling. She was definitely not as calm as she portrayed herself to be at the moment.
 Nevertheless, given that they were suddenly shoved into this dark and sinister art studio, surrounded by terrifying paintings that really left one nauseated, her current performance had already far exceeded Roel’s expectations.
 There was another person who was equally surprised, Peter Kater. He never thought that the mind games that he was skilled at would instead actually further affirm the young girl’s will to stand against him.
 “Princess of the Xeclydes, you seem to carry some misunderstandings toward us. You deem us as evil cults who ought to be put to death, but that doesn’t mean that we’re mindless butcherers who go around causing meaningless deaths.
 “I have a good idea of both of your strengths. Your Highness, I am confident of defeating you with an overwhelming advantage if you challenge me to a battle. If you’re worried that I’ll renege on my promise and take your life after killing that boy over there, you need not be. If I wished to, I could have taken both your lives already. There’s no need for me to propose such a roundabout manner of doing things.”
 After hearing the long speech coming from the assassin, Nora looked at him calmly and replied with a few snappy words.
 “Are you done speaking?”
 “What?”
 “I, Nora Xeclyde, as the successor of the royal family, am born with great responsibilities on my shoulders. When it comes to work, Roel is my subordinate. As his liege, I am duty-bound to protect him. When it comes to private relationships, Roel is my close friend. I am obliged to respect and stand up for him.
 “I am his guardian, and I’ll shield him from unreasonable harm that others seek to inflict on him. This is the responsibility that I, as a Xeclyde, bear. Are you asking me to put down my responsibilities and my pride to collude with the likes of you? Don’t insult me.”
 Nora’s forceful words stunned Roel. It felt like he was finally catching a glimpse of the charisma she had before her loyal group of followers. He opened his mouth, but he had no idea what he should say. All he could feel was the dryness of his throat.
 The saying ‘Subordinates will put their lives on the line for those who recognize their worth’… wasn’t exactly appropriate for this situation. That being said, Nora’s attitude did move Roel. The interweaving rays of light behind her back looked glorious, but they were nothing compared to the light she held in her heart.
 On the other hand, Peter Kater fell into a rage hearing her declaration. From his perspective, he felt that there was something very wrong with Nora’s head.
 “Competition is the natural way of the world. It’s those who adapt who survive. What’s wrong with the strong killing the weak?”
 “It’s due to your primitive, beastlike mindsets that you are deemed as evil cultists. You think nothing of human lives and challenge the order of society. You undermine the progress that we have made throughout the years and seek to destroy civilization.”
 “Haa. Very well. Perhaps those are the honest thoughts you stand by, but what about him?”
 Peter glanced at the black-haired boy, trying to sow internal discord with a sinister smile on his face.
 “He nearly drew his sword on you earlier. The relationship between the two of you looks pretty one-sided to me.”
 “His fear only goes to show his lack of understanding toward me. We’ll have plenty of time later to get to know one another better.”
 As Nora said those words, she glanced backward to shoot a piercing glare toward Roel, causing the latter to scratch his head awkwardly. However, she didn’t continue faulting him for that. Instead, she turned back to face their enemy.
 “Thank you for your warning. We’ll be closer than ever in the future. However, we don’t need you to question our relationship.”
 Nora’s words made Peter Kater widen his eyes. Incomprehension was written all over his face.
 What in the world was with that Roel brat? How in the world did he manage to win over the successor of the Xeclydes? Why is she so protective of him?!
 He was starting to feel a little frenzied at the situation. He exhaled deeply as he thought to himself that there was a need to plunge these two brats deeper into despair.
 “Is that so? Fine. Let’s not talk about these for now. Why don’t I introduce my paintings to you first?”
 “What?”
 “I might be a transcendent, but I’m first and foremost an artist. This studio contains all of my work to date. There aren’t many people who have the privilege to enjoy my masterpieces. Well, let’s start with this one then!”
 With a snap of his fingers, a portrait painted with gruesome colors that emanated a horrible stench floated up to him from behind. He turned around and stared lovingly at the portrait as he began to excitedly explain the concept behind his painting, as if he was a curator in a museum.
 “Have a good look at this, it’s my magnum opus! Painters nowadays are only out to create a sensation for fame. Their so-called masterpieces are all form and no soul. Disappointing! Look at the empty eyes of the characters they create! Look at their empty and soulless pieces! They’re a desecration to true art!
 “So, I set out on a long journey to seek the way to creating the most vivid painting, and voila! I finally found it! In the midst of my journey, I stumbled upon a pregnant mother breastfeeding her child. There was such a loving smile on her face when she gazed upon her child while stroking her protruding stomach. She must have been wondering what her second child would look like. It was such a moving sight that I found myself trembling with the desire to eternalize this scene… so, I killed her.”
 Peter Kater revealed a tender smile as he reminisced about his past with nostalgia, but the words he spoke left Nora and Roel stunned.
 “What… did you say?”
 “I killed her and her child. I used their flesh and blood to create this portrait, ‘Smiling Mother’. Look at her beautiful figure and her soul. This is what I call true art! She’s my muse!”
 Peter opened his arms gracefully, as if he was enjoying the cheers from a crowd of his admirers. However, all Roel and Nora could hear were screams of agony within the studio. Countless poor spirits were drifting amidst the darkness, screaming at Peter’s inhumane actions. Yet, the culprit only breathed out relaxedly, as if enjoying all of this.
 He looked at the two pale-faced children and almost wanted to laugh to himself.
 They’re brats after all. All it takes are a few words to frighten them.
 The smug assassin waved his hand, and the mother depicted in the painting crawled out from the frame and coiled herself around his body.
 “Your Highness, you should know deep down that the two of you aren’t a match for me. If you insist on making me your enemy, I don’t mind adding the portrait of an angel to my collection.”
 The pale black-haired man looked into Nora’s sapphire eyes.
 “You would make a perfect painting. Your blood will paint beautiful strokes of red and black, and your bones will be ground to form yellow and white. I’ll use a real angel to create a painting of an angel. Ah… that would make a marvelous painting, wouldn’t it? I might even be able to rise to Origin Level 3.
 “But, if you change your mind and stop protecting that brat, I’ll let you off. I don’t need too many dead bodies in my studio. I just need one person for my colors. You’ll be able to return safely back to your world.”
 Peter said as he looked at the 10-year-old girl with his lips curled up. He waited patiently for her response.
 He knew that Nora was no fool. She was acutely aware of the differences in their strength. If so, what he had to do was to create a scenario where she could self-justify her betrayal, and the best way to do so was to render her helpless. As long as she felt that she had no choice but to do his bidding, she would be able to toss aside that self-righteousness of hers and act as he intended her to.
 Peter had used this method many times before, so he knew that humans weren’t as mentally resilient as most thought they were. One simply had to push the right buttons in order to make a person follow one’s bidding.
 He assailed Nora both logically and emotionally, but such a pity it was that he didn’t get what he wanted. What he received wasn’t a compromise but the mocking of the princess.
 “Compassion, kindness, and impartiality. These are the values that we Xeclydes embrace. It’s the moral compass that we hold in our hearts. You don’t even know this much, and you still wish to make a painting out of me using my flesh and blood?
 “Did you think that I would be afraid of you? I might die, but our lineage would never end. A day will come where the sword of a Xeclyde will pierce through your throat. The deceased will finally be able to rest in peace, and the living will be able to live without fear. Justice may be late but never absent. The only fate that awaits you is destruction!”
 Nora glared unyieldingly at the enemy before her as she spoke words that affirmed her heart. Roel was moved by her speech too. He felt that even though she had yet to fully unfurl her wings, she had already shown herself to be a true angel who stood steadfast in her beliefs.
 …
 While Nora and Roel were standing against Peter, Holy Eminence John was also in the midst of negotiation with the vice leader of the Mythril Priory.
 “As you have demanded, we’ll leave the Theocracy and guarantee that none of our members will ever appear in the vicinity of the Theocracy anymore. On top of that, we’ll provide you with the intelligence of eleven targets on your hit list.”
 The refined man respectfully listed the concessions he was willing to make for a peace treaty between the Theocracy and the Mythril Priory, from offering valuable intelligence regarding other evil cults to dealing with the underlying threats that were endangering the Theocracy. It was almost as if he was viewing himself as a stout ally of the Theocracy.
 The white-haired old man fell silent while listening to the other party’s words. A long time later, he finally asked the most important question.
 “So, what do you hope to obtain?”
 “It’s nothing much. We just hope that you can turn a blind eye to this incident,” said Caras calmly.

StarveCleric's Notes:

Hahaha slipping in a small bonus chapter to keep things moving along. The last chapter hardly had any progress at all, so I'll add this one in so as to curb your boredom as well as keep you on a cliffhanger.
Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.