In the Control Room, Charlotte nervously looked at the vice-captain, who was busy assessing and commanding the battlefield. She took a controlled, silent breath before quietly walking away and opening a door. Beyond the door was a flight of stairs leading deeper into the core of the ship.
She slowly walked down the flight of stairs as she looked distractedly at the gleaming seven-colored jewel she held in her hand.
The shaking ship made the soles of her feet slightly numb. Even through layers of walls, she could still hear the impassioned war cries of the soldiers on the ship’s deck. Yet, those did nothing to rouse Charlotte’s morale; instead, her heart felt extremely heavy.
As the First Miss of the Sorofyas, while Charlotte had never experienced the brutality of the battlefield before her current adventures, she wasn’t a weak, sheltered princess either. Born with strong transcendent abilities, her life was bound to be not peaceful. Even so, this battle was still difficult for her to bear.
Because it was an internal war.
Unlike the Scalemen and sea monsters they had fought previously, the ones fighting this time around were humans, not to mention that they were all Charlotte’s ancestors. There was no doubt that the one Charlotte was supporting was Isabella, but still, even if they won this battle, there was nothing to celebrate over.
In the end, they were just whittling down their own forces. Regardless of who won, it was still a loss for the descendants of the High Elf Bloodline.
Isabella was well aware of Charlotte’s thoughts. Had it been possible, she—as well as everyone else in the Sofya House—would have done everything they could to avert this battle. She could relate to how Charlotte felt, and that was why she chose to keep the girl away from the battlefield, despite her overwhelming talents. It would be too tragic to stain the hands of someone as young as Charlotte with the blood of her clan members.
Charlotte slipped the seven-colored gemstone, which could form an absolute defensive barrier at a critical moment, into her pocket before slowly heading to where the egg was. She had to stay here to fulfill the mission Isabella had entrusted her with in case things went awry.
In the unlikely case that the Golden Fleet fell in defeat, Charlotte would activate the Perpetual Seal and ensure that the egg of the Glacier Creator was permanently buried in the depths of the sea.
Walking across the frozen ground, Charlotte suddenly found herself reminiscing the leisurely days she spent in the huge study room in the Ascart Fiefdom, flipping through record after record with Roel. It was tiring and they hardly made any progress at all, but looking back, those days were still oddly fulfilling.
Every morning, she would be welcomed by a cup of flower tea brewed by Roel personally before diving into the records. Then, he would poke fun at her love for sweet food and remind her to head down for breakfast. They often argued with one another, but at some point in time, even the arguments became an enjoyment to her.
I did confiscate his medicine, didn’t I? He would surely start getting drowsy in the afternoon after this. It would be good to implement an afternoon break… Ah, there’s no longer any need for that, is there?
As this thought surfaced in her mind, Charlotte suddenly halted her footsteps. She raised her head to assess her surroundings before lowering her gaze quietly.
There’s really no need for that anymore…
Roel and Charlotte were tied together by an engagement contract, but the only reason why they stayed with one another was due to Charlotte’s employment. Her goal back then was to obtain clues to the missing legacy of the Sofya Kingdom, and she had already managed to achieve it.
The accomplishment of this goal spelled the end of Roel and Charlotte’s shared fate.
Since they had accomplished what they set out to do, the next step would be to annul their engagement contract. The curtains would be drawn, and it would be the end of their relationship. They would return to their own lives—Roel would no longer have to brew tea for her in the morning anymore, returning back to the outstanding, young fief lord he was, and she wouldn’t have to complain about the lack of sugar in her food anymore, for she no longer had to concern herself with the culinary preferences of a dining partner anymore.
From there on, the trajectory of their lives would diverge, and their worlds would no longer intersect. This was the ending awaiting them.
Charlotte stared at the frost before her in a daze as she noticed something peculiar stirring in her heart.
Why do I not feel happy at all?
Be it freeing herself from her engagement or obtaining the heritage of the Sofya House, none of these could spark joy in her anymore. Instead, she felt deeply bitter inside.
He would return to his lovey-dovey days with those women, wouldn’t he?
Charlotte suddenly felt a lump in her throat. A long moment of contemplation later, she put on a forced smile.
“It can’t be helped. In his heart, I’m nothing more than a troublesome employer to him…” muttered Charlotte quietly.
Too absorbed in her thoughts, she didn’t notice a human silhouette quietly rising behind her. The body was formed out of fluid with half his facial features missing. A large mouth was cracked open in a mocking smile, revealing sharp jagged teeth.
“If we could return together…”
“You won’t be returning anywhere.”
A hoarse voice sounded right behind Charlotte, causing her to fling her body around to face the unexpected visitor with widened eyes. Sharp claws, formed from the humanoid monster’s fluid body, swiped toward her neck, inducing her protective pendant to release a burst of light.
However, to Charlotte’s shock, the barrier which was supposed to be able to block the attacks of high-level transcendents broke with hardly any resistance under the sharp claws. In this desperate moment, she quickly grabbed for the seven-colored gemstone in her pocket, hoping to create another barrier for herself.
But, it was all too late.
Before her despaired eyes, the claws had already arrived right before her. The noise of daggers sinking into meat sounded as blood and flesh splattered everywhere.
Crimson blood flowed down Charlotte’s cheek. It felt a little warm. With disbelieving eyes, she stared at the boy who had appeared out of nowhere to shield her in his embrace. Her brain seemed to have gone numb at that moment, rendering her incapable of thought.
“Hey, are you fine?”
His anxious voice produced an instinctive, dazed response from her. She stared at the boy’s face before gradually lowering her head to look at the glaring wound on his chest.
“How unexpected. Someone was actually able to detect my presence,” a hoarse voice sounded.
The fluid humanoid monster glanced at the gaping hole above them in surprise before retracting his now frozen claws. He assessed its arms in intrigue for a brief moment before decisively severing the frozen parts. A burst of powerful mana pulsated within his body, causing more fluid to flow over to the amputated areas and reform a new set of claws.
Then, he raised his head to look at the massive skeleton he had incidentally severed in half. It was currently dissipating in a burst of crimson light, like a portent to the boy’s withering life. Seeing this, the monster’s lips curled up as he abandoned the idea of launching a follow-up attack.
Origin Level 2, that was the strength of the monster. Roel might have made a timely appearance, and he had put up a strong defense too. However, the huge gap in power resulting from the difference in their Origin Levels couldn’t be bridged that easily.
Roel collapsed to the ground, provoking an anguished cry from Charlotte.
Doyle remained completely unfazed before Charlotte’s scream. He walked forward briskly as he prepared himself to rid the variable in their plans.
However, too blinded by the victory within grasp, he didn’t notice the dark but heavy layer of light shrouding the body of the collapsed Roel.
【Spell ‘Peytra’s Blessing’ has been activated.】
【Countdown. 300, 299, 298… 】
Amidst the emergence of these notifications from the System, the collapsed boy suddenly opened his golden eyes. Vaguely, he could see a dark mountain valley, where a mysterious but authoritative throne was cast under the shadows. The silhouette of a golden-haired woman flickered in his eyes, conveying her silent blessing to him.
It was a powerful yet indescribable surge of power. Roel saw innumerable scenes of nature’s wonders flash across his vision, be it towering mountains, boundless plains, bountiful forests, or mighty rivers. He felt like his body had turned into the ley lines of the great earth as searing mana consumed his body like burning magma.
An additional vertical slit formed in each of Roel’s golden irises, making him look oddly like a cat or a snake. His shattered rib cage began to repair at a visible rate. His magmalike mana surged upward, like an erupting volcano conquering ground. This phenomenon induced a swift rise in Roel’s Origin Level.
The fluid humanoid monster released a screeching cry as his sharp claws swiped down at Charlotte’s throat once more. He gazed at the crying, despairing face of the woman before him, and the mocking smile on his lips widened. It was almost as if he was ridiculing the foolish love that existed between ignorant humans.
Then, a silent murmur sounded in his ears.
The murmur of the rising Roel carried no hatred or rage. His words seemed to convey a mere narrative, yet the world painted out his will through manifesting frost. He was angry, but his rage seethed quietly. The miserable cries of his enemy seemed to be venting his frozen emotions on his behalf.
A hoarse cry escaped from the fluid humanoid monster. A sudden outburst of frost aura ravaged the ship hold, freezing him in place as if an ice sculpture. Charlotte instinctively raised her arms to protect herself, but the frost aura that froze everything else felt warm like the spring breeze to her.
Charlotte was stunned for a moment before she shouted the boy’s name with tears brimming in her eyes. However, this was no time for Roel to console her. He swiftly scanned the surroundings, and when he caught sight of the flowing Golden Soul along the walls, his golden eyes immediately narrowed.
As if a soldier receiving an order, a burst of frost aura charged toward the wall under Roel’s command. At the same time, the core of the fluid humanoid monster, who had escaped the earlier attack in the nick of time, immediately darted out of the flowing golden fluid. That frost aura that was capable of freezing souls left him feeling as if his head was placed under a guillotine. The only thought in his mind now was to escape from this ship right away.
A loud explosion sounded above, followed by the sounds of objects plummeting into the sea. Roel took a look at the monster who had slipped through the cracks of the ship hold, before turning his attention toward Charlotte, who was running toward him while wiping off her tears, and he pulled her into his embrace.
Charlotte let out a short yelp from the sudden force, but she didn’t berate Roel for his gesture. Instead, she reached out and returned the embrace too.
The lingering fear from nearly losing one another was causing their emotions to run amok. Be it Roel or Charlotte, neither of them wanted to let go at this moment. However, the countdown on the System was constantly reminding Roel that he had to act quickly.
“Do you still have your defensive magic tool?”
“Activate it. Stay here and don’t move around anymore.”
“Wait. What about you?”
Charlotte held tightly onto the seven-colored gemstone as she asked Roel anxiously. Roel glanced at the sky above as rage bubbled in his heart, and he spoke with a tone that was chillingly nonchalant.
“Since he’s courting death, I should send him on his way.”