LTBE: Chapter 170: Greetings First

Down in the ship’s hold, two youths who had barely gotten out of danger hugged each other tightly. Upon hearing Roel’s decision to pursue the enemy, Charlotte couldn’t help but feel deeply uneasy, especially since she had just experienced the terror of the enemy personally.

“It’s the sea outside. That monster will have the field advantage out there with its liquid body.”

“You’re right, but it’ll be different when I’m there.”

“But still…”

“His ability allows him to conceal amidst the Golden Soul. It’s obvious that he was sent here specifically to assassinate you and Isabella. He has to die, and the only one who can do it is me.”

Roel placed his hands on Charlotte’s face to look right into her quivering eyes. Under the effects of his ability, he felt as cold as ice, but his words were gentle.

“Listen to me and wait here.”

“… Alright.”

Under Roel’s intent gaze, Charlotte nodded her head with a furious blush. She activated the seven-colored gemstone in her hand, whereas Roel leaped up and disappeared in a flurry of snow.

… 

Cannons, arrows, and war cries; these were the sounds dominating the battlefield.

With both sides going all out, the battle between the Golden Fleet and Gordon’s fleet escalated. Every moment, a severely injured or dead sailor would plummet into the sea, dyeing the surface with a layer of fresh blood.

The utterly chaotic battlefield and the presence of the sea should have been highly advantageous to the fluid humanoid monster, but he was devoid of his usual confidence and leisureliness now.

That was because a stronger natural predator was right on his tail.

Cold was the natural enemy of a being made out of fluid, and he was being eyed by an opponent who completely curbed him. He had no idea what was giving him away, but despite being completely surrounded by water, his enemy was somehow still able to sniff him out.

To him, Roel was like the Soulstealer in legends. Everything about him was mystifying, be it his sudden surge in strength, those golden eyes that could find him no matter where he hid, or that terrifying frost aura he emanated. All of these factors were leaving him deeply unnerved.

The fluid humanoid monster would have never imagined that things were actually much more straightforward. 

【Fluid Lifeform Puppet: Douglas Rodrick】

That was basically what Roel was seeing.

From the moment the puppet Douglas controlled snuck onto the ship, the Calamity of Bloodshed had already activated, allowing Roel to clearly see the monster sliding through the deck to enter the ship hold. Upon realizing that Charlotte could very well be his target, he rushed over without any hesitation.

As it turned out though, Roel’s actions were still a little too reckless. Even when using both the powers of the frost aura and the skeleton giant manifestation, there was still a massive difference in power that nearly sent him tumbling through the gates of hell. It was only fortunate that Roel had a trump card in hand.

Peytra’s Blessing.

Even though this ability could only be used once, its prowess exceeded Roel’s imagination. It was time-limited, but it actually raised Roel’s strength all the way to Origin Level 3. Now with the base power of a high-level transcendent, he was able to bring out the true strength of his abilities and dominate his enemy.

He flitted through the air swiftly with the speed of a cannonball, and it only took him several seconds to catch up with the assassin escaping under the concealment of the sea. So, he began descending from the sky toward the waters below. Before the tip of his toe could even come into contact with the water, the frost aura he emanated had already produced a white landing point for him.

However, this much was still not enough for him.

“Glacier.”

With a cold murmur, the Crown Origin Attribute gathered the power of the Calamity of Coldness and began encroaching on the seawater beneath Roel’s feet. Just like that, a white zone suddenly expanded in the middle of the two fleets.

It was the blessing of eternal frost, a dirge from the Death God.

Glacial Touch was no longer the same as it used to be with Roel’s heightened powers. Frost poured out like the eruption of a volcano, spreading outward as quickly as a tsunami, expanding its territory in all directions swiftly.

As a result, the sea froze in place and the waves silenced. The seabirds in the sky silently fell to the ice sheet beneath. Everything seemed to have fallen quiet.

This almost miraculous phenomenon of freezing the sea astounded everyone on the battlefield. The cannons from the warships came to an immediate halt, and the archers who had a bird’s eye view of everything began shouting in incredulity. Even the warriors on the decks were flustered. The divers in the sea swiftly scattered like alarmed fish, swimming away for their lives.

The captains of both fleets quickly ordered for their crews to turn their ships around and flee, though the enemy ships who were, unfortunately, closer to the expanding glacier had already been frozen in place. Any sailors who tried to leap out of the stuck ships were frozen mid-air, and they shattered into innumerable bloodied ice fragments upon striking the hard glacier.

This horrifying sight had everyone else on the warships shuddering in fear.

“Douglas, I know that you’re in here.

“Puppetmaster, or to be more exact, the Puppet Guild. That is how others call your people, am I right?”

Roel recalled all of the Scholar Guilds from the Country of Scholars that he knew about and deduced the most likely one that fit the criteria here—the Puppet Guild. That was a guild that focused not on raising one’s own strength but on controlling all sorts of puppets to fight in the transendent’s place. It promulgated that the human body had limits, whereas the puppets one controlled could be adapted to each and every situation.

Puppetmasters could alter the form and attribute of their puppets to counter their enemies. They could also hold incredibly expensive rituals to imbue special properties into their own puppets, adding effects like an enhanced opening attack.

Of course, puppetmasters had their own shortcomings too. While the puppets themselves were strong and flexible, the puppetmasters were, more often than not, quite vulnerable. They weren’t able to move effectively while controlling their puppets, and their puppets couldn’t be of a higher Origin Level than themselves.

The Fluid Lifeform Puppet was an actual monster existing in the sea, just that it was being controlled by a puppetmaster named Douglas. Judging from the level of the puppet, it should be safe to assume that Douglas was also at Origin Level 2, or else he would have mobilized an even stronger puppet against them.

“Every single puppet has a core to power it and maintain the connection with the puppetmaster. Your puppet might have a peculiar form, but it’s no exception to the rule either.”

Roel’s golden eyes seemed to peer through the thick layer of ice under his feet to stare directly at Douglas.

“Your puppet’s core should be the fluid itself, right?”

“!”

Roel’s calm question was heard loud and clear by Douglas, instilling deep horror in his heart. On a distant warship, a young man with his eyes closed began to shudder. It took him a mere instant to figure out Roel’s intention.

Goddamnit! He’s planning to freeze the entire area!

The fluid humanoid puppet immediately harnessed all of its strength to smash through the layers of ice encasing it before dashing out from the frozen sea. He didn’t dare to approach Roel, who remained shrouded in a frost aura. So, he chose to compress his mana as tightly as possible before abruptly releasing it, producing a humongous explosion of silver light.

“Go to hell!”

Douglas’s infuriated roars echoed loudly as silver strings of light darted in all directions. The pure compression of mana inside the spell produced a brilliance that outshone even the sun at the moment of its release. There were no doubts about its ability to obliterate. Shocked screams and pained shrieks filled the surroundings, alarming even Isabella and Gordon.

“This is bad!”

“That is…”

The two of them quickly summoned the Golden Soul to form a defensive shield around themselves. The captains on the further warships also swiftly ordered for their crewmates to activate their barriers. Whirring sounds could be heard from the ships all around.

However, the black-haired boy right beneath the silver sun stood silently on the spot, not showing any response at all.

In the sky, the vile monster Douglas controlled sneered coldly. The frost aura was indeed terrifying, but it wasn’t an effective means of defense against burst power. As powerful as Roel might be, there was nothing the other party could do about the Light of Oblivion he had cast with his full strength.

His elation remained for a long while until he lowered his gaze and met eyes with the black-haired boy.

“!”

Those beautiful golden eyes of the boy gleamed enigmatically, causing Douglas’ body to stiffen. A cold, horrifying sensation was starting to surface from the depths of his heart.

This gleam was the gift Peytra had bestowed to him on their previous meeting.

【Eyes of Petrification
 All life returns to the earth, and all beings eventually fall silent. Only statues are eternal.】

This was a power that seemed to command the authority of nature, a force that Roel had never seen before. There was no strong pulsation of mana when he activated the Eyes of Petrification, but he could sense his mana gradually overlaying the target in his eyes.

“H-huh?”

A dazed exclamation escaped from Douglas’s mouth. He could sense that he was losing a part of his control over his puppet, but there was something even more shocking awaiting him. The numbness assaulted the core of the puppet before traversing across space like a virulent poison to assault him.

“AHHH—!”

A white-robed man on SS Saint Martin cried out miserably as he clutched his aching arm with horror reflected in his eyes.

Petrification. 

His arm was turning into stone.

“How could this be possible? How could a spell of this level still exist in this world?!”

With a frenzied scream from Douglas, the fluid lifeform puppet suddenly exploded like fireworks, causing its body to disperse like an omnidirectional barrage of bullets. In response, Roel raised his hand, and a dark yellow scalelike barrier formed right before him, devouring the silvery fluid bullets coming his way.

It was a full powered attack from the fluid lifeform puppet, but it couldn’t even hurt Roel at all. Seeing this, Douglas made use of the chaos caused by the explosion to extract his core from the puppet and have it escape toward Gordon’s fleet.

I need to get away right now!

Douglas’s fluid lifeform puppet had killed numerous transcendents to date, but he never thought that there was still such a terrifying spell in the world that could curb him completely. He did know of spells that could petrify others through vision, but the effects tended to set in very slowly, making them infeasible in battle.

Yet, Douglas’s puppet and his real arm got petrified in just one short second.

This had already transcended the comprehension of this young executive of the Saints Convocation. If there was one thing he knew, it was that he needed to get away from this boy as far as possible.

Observing as the puppet’s core bolted in the direction of the enemy fleet, Roel’s gaze turned steely. He had no intention of letting Douglas go at all.

【133, 132, 131…】

Roel recalled clearly how Douglas had swung his executioner’s blade down upon Charlotte, and this affirmed his will to kill the puppetmaster. He wrapped his body in frost aura as he quickly hastened his speed to chase him.

“Stop him! Find a way to stop him, quick!”

Sensing Roel’s approach, the terrified Douglas bellowed out orders to his people as he maneuvered the puppet’s core toward the nearest warship. Upon receiving the order, the warship quickly aimed its cannon toward Roel and fired destructive, golden beams. 

Faced with the incoming threat, Roel neither retreated nor dodged. Instead, he channeled his crimson mana outward, which looked like a spark of flame burning atop a chilling glacier for a moment, before a humongous skeleton suddenly manifested itself amidst the crimson light and mist.

Its crimson fist shot forth with astounding momentum. For a moment, the world seemed to dim. Then, without any resistance at all, the golden beams dispersed harmlessly, crushed by the powerful punch. The punch continued to push forward with increasing momentum, smashing through all obstacles in the way before puncturing a massive hole right through the warship, scuttling it.

Boom!

A gigantic explosion broke out, declaring the end of the warship. With the destruction going on all around, the humongous crimson skeleton looked like a harbinger of doom. The frightening might displayed caused silence to ripple through the entire battlefield for a moment. Then, the distant allies raised their swords and cheered loudly, and the enemies began screaming from deep fear.

No one noticed that during this striking moment, a bundle of fluid had managed to make its getaway into the faraway distance. Douglas’s head was drenched in sweat, but a slight smile had returned to his face.

I managed to escape in the end.

That brat’s sudden outburst of strength is likely to be time-limited. I might still have a chance to strike later on. As long as I hide well and bide my time… Wait a moment, why is the ship so cold?

While crafting out his next course of action, Douglas suddenly noticed the irregularities in his surroundings and snapped out of his thoughts. At the same time, a cold greeting sounded behind him.

“Good morning to you, Mister Douglas.”

It was a black-haired boy.

StarveCleric's Notes:

This is the first bonus chapter from the mission
Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.