LTBE - Chapter 217: Three Choices

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Archaelogy had always been a difficult field to dabble in. In Roel’s previous life, archaelogists could get into heated debates about all sorts of stuff due to how contentious the excavated artifacts were. 

While the average lifespan of transcendents was significantly greater than that of earthlings, it was still no easy feat to investigate something from several centuries ago. 

According to the legends, the Cadi wine was first manufactured by the borders of the Second Epoch’s Ancient Austine Empire. Even from back then, the flavor of the wine was already unflattering. 

In the first place, who in the right mind would brew alcohol out of mushrooms? To make things worse, the mushroom used to brew the Cadi wine was a special breed known as Shantz. It had a vibrant color and induced slight dizziness when consumed.

Indeed, the Shantz mushroom was mildly poisonous.

People back in that era used the Shantz mushroom to brew wine not because their brain was malfunctioning, but that they were simply too poor.

The territories of the Ancient Austine Empire spanned great swathes of land, expanding far and wide. It was indubitably the golden age of the human civilization. Nevertheless, those living in remote mountainous areas still suffered from a poor standard of living. The lack of fertile soil meant that their rations were always limited, so brewing wine out of grains was simply far too extravagant for them.

Still, humans were good at adapting to their environment. Since using grains was out of the question, they simply had to search for an alternative in the mountains. After many trials and errors, they figured that this mildly poisonous Shantz mushroom was the next best option. 

They weren’t intending to consume the Shantz mushroom as food anyway, so it wasn’t a waste of precious rations. On top of that, the fermentation process broke down the poison and produced something safe to drink, albeit a little foul-tasting. 

As some philosopher probably said in the past, ‘the greatest joy in life is to put useless things to good use’. It didn’t take long for the Cadi wine to gain widespread popularity amongst the others living in the mountainous regions too. 

In fact, even in the earlier years of the Third Epoch after moving to West Sia, as the human civilization had regressed greatly and rations were severely lacking, most people resorted back to producing the Cadi wine so as to fulfill their alcohol craving.

But even though the Cadi wine had made its name for its low cost and easy production during times of difficulty, it was unable to avoid the cruelty of natural selection. As stability gradually returned to the human civilization and barren grounds were converted into fertile farmlands, the standard of living swiftly improved, allowing for the production of other types of wine. 

Under such circumstances, the greatest weakness of the Cadi wine was swiftly made apparent—its taste.

No matter how they modified the recipe, they were unable to remove the bizarre taste produced by the fermented mushroom. Most people viewed it as an inferior substitute to normal wine. So, when their environment finally allowed for it, humans naturally pursued something better, refusing to return back to this crudely made mushroom wine anymore.

“So, the wine is no longer produced anymore?”

“There are no notable breweries producing the Cadi wine anymore, though mountain dwellers still do produce it from time to time. By the borders of the Karon Forest, there’s a village named Pordere Village that used to produce this wine up to several centuries ago. The remains of the brewery where the wine was made back then are still there.”

Roel was actually quite lucky for this matter. Typically speaking, a brewery that stopped production several centuries ago should have been torn down by now. However, it just so happened that the villagers had built the brewery out of resilient rocks, and they couldn’t bear to tear down the brewery due to a feeling of attachment to it. For a period of time, it was used as the village chief’s office and the local militia’s armory, but currently, it was serving as the church’s storage room. 

It was fortunate that the brewery had been under the jurisdiction of the village chief, so the transfer procedures were detailed quite clearly. The investigation team was able to get the details with relative ease. After some probing, they gathered that the brewery had stopped production around 350 years ago, which was around the same era where the Twilight Sages Assembly vanished from the world.

“Aside from that, we also heard rumors that the Cadi wine used to be called ‘Werewolf Wine’ and ‘Werewolf’s Dew’.”

“Werewolf’s Dew?”

“Yes. The rumor stems from how hunters entering the Karon Forest would occasionally find containers that used to be filled with Cadi wine. They believed that this was a sign that the werewolves are fond of the wine, which led to the term ‘Werewolf’s Dew’ eventually coming about.”

“I see…”

Roel couldn’t help but think of the Drunkard Treant, and he felt that he might have just figured out the truth to the rumors. With the information he had gathered thus far, he had a good idea what his next few steps should be.

First, he should pay a visit to the Pordere Village and try to procure some Cadi wine. After gathering some information from Pordere Village, he would move southward and enter the Karon Forest.

It was early spring at the moment. Roel wasn’t too sure how treants functioned, but it should be safe to assume that they were more active during springtime. However, there was a problem here—how could he get into contact with the Drunkard Treant? Was he supposed to stroll around the forest and shout for the latter?

I’m also quite intrigued by how a tree drinks mushroom wine. Would it suck up the wine using its roots? Speaking of which, the mushroom seems to grow on the tree. To be drinking off the wine brewed using the fungus growing on it, isn’t that equivalent to a human… 

“Uweh!”

Just imagining the awful sight was enough to make Roel retch. He quickly shut down the notion and directed his thought toward other more constructive questions… Such as how many people should he bring with him, and how should he make his way there.

He didn’t really believe in the rumors of there being werewolves in the Karon Forest, but bad reputation usually came for a reason. Besides, there were many records of demonic creatures emerging from the Karon Forest, so the danger here was real. He had no idea how deep he would have to venture into the Karon Forest in order to find the Drunkard Treant, so he had to take caution.

Aside from that, the Karon Forest was located right next to the Land of Chaos Tunsen, where the heretics and evil cultists gathered. Those people wouldn’t leave the Land of Chaos easily, but it wasn’t impossible for them to establish some sort of reconnaissance point or something in the Karon Forest. If Roel was going to search the forest, there was a chance that he might bump into them.

A battle would be inevitable if a noble from the Theocracy like Roel encountered an evil cultist. The church and evil cults were hostile to one another, after all. In other words, Roel would have to make sure to assemble a group of people with considerable strength for the expedition.

If so, there were three choices for him. 

First, he could choose to deploy the soldiers from the Ascart Fiefdom. The upside was that he could be assured of the quality, loyalty, and discipline of his own soldiers, but the downside was that it would take time for them to travel here. On top of that, he would require Carter’s permission, and the procedure for deploying an army was extremely troublesome.

It was important to note that the Karon Forest wasn’t in the vicinity of the Ascart Fiefdom; the army would have to pass through Rosa’s territory in order to get there. Even Bruce wouldn’t be able to permit a foreign army to enter Rosa’s soil without strong justification, or else there would be many protests surrounding it.

Second, he could get help from Nora’s group. There was no way the princess of the Saint Mesit Theocracy would travel to another country without guards, and he noticed that she was accompanied by Bishop Philip this time around, a powerful transcendent whom Roel had met once before. Her group consisted of a small number of elites, allowing them to travel around without appearing too conspicuous.

However, the downside was that the background of these people was simply too big, such that it would be hard for Roel to mobilize them. Besides, Nora told him just yesterday that she would have to return to the frontlines very soon, so it wouldn’t be convenient for her to lend out her people to him.

Third, he could get help from Charlotte. The Karon Forest bordered Rosa, making it highly convenient for Rosa to mobilize their soldiers over. On top of that, as a merchant country, Rosa would dispatch huge convoys of merchants to the Austine Empire, making it easier for them to discreetly pay a visit to Pordere Village to acquire the Conti wine. 

What worried Roel, however, was the loyalty of the soldiers. It was a known fact that Rosa relies heavily on employed heretics, and it would be foolish to expect them to remain loyal when standing in the face of danger.

After all, no amount of money was worth as much as one’s life. 

After much consideration, Roel decided to eliminate the first option, but he couldn’t decide between the second and the third… till Peytra’s voice suddenly sounded.

“Little fellow, have you not taken in my believers yet?”

“You have believers too? That’s wonderful! Where are they at the moment? Can you call them over?”

“What do you mean by where are they… Don’t you see the guards standing all around you?” asked the Earth Goddess in confusion.

StarveCleric's Notes:

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  • Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.