“Hm? This place is…”
The moment Roel opened his eyes, he found himself faced the night sky. There was a chilling wind battering on his body, and the rustling of leaves echoed from his surroundings.
It was a hard surface without any semblance of his bed’s softness he was lying on. He glanced at his surroundings blankly, only to find nothing in his vicinity.
“This… isn’t a dream?”
Roel shuddered in response to the cold gale.
The realistic sensations he was feeling told him that something was amiss here, so he hurriedly sprung up to his feet. With a quick glance around, he discovered that he was on some sort of observation deck, granting him a bird’s eye view of the surroundings.
He swiftly noticed a familiar-looking building in the distance.
Through the veil of the trees, he spotted the tip of a tall tower that appeared to have been constructed centuries ago. Its distinct architecture allowed Roel to immediately recognize it as one of three buildings he had contemplated amongst for the headquarters of his Bluerose Faction—the tower at the central district.
Roel immediately snapped out of his daze. He quickly rushed to the corner of the balcony to gaze upon the scenery beneath him, only to be stunned.
What’s going on? Have I been kidnapped? Someone took me out of the Azure Manor to the academy’s central district so as to toss me onto this observation deck?
“No, that’s impossible.”
Roel immediately refuted the ludicrous possibility. It was highly unlikely for an Origin Level 4 transcendent to be taken out from his manor all the way to the central district without him noticing, and he had Grandar and Peytra by his side on top of that.
Grandar and Peytra existed in separate dimensional pockets, but except for the times when he was in a severely weakened state, they were constantly connected to him through a window. Anyone who tried to make a move on Roel while he was asleep would surely be caught by those two ancient gods, and they would immediately make use of Roel’s mana to manifest themselves.
It was unthinkable that anyone could simply nab him away onto a balcony without them noticing.
This means that it’s an exceptional situation. Could it be that… Nora suddenly had a bout of inspiration and wanted to try some ‘open’ play?
Nay, that’s just too…
Having no clues at all, Roel shook off the perverted thoughts in his mind and quickly attempted to communicate with the skeleton giant and the Primordial Earth God, only for his complexion to turn awful in the next moment.
“How could this be?”
Roel widened his eyes in disbelief.
“I’m… unable to reach them? Has the window closed? Does this mean that I’m currently in the Witness State? Or did I accidentally trigger something?” uttered the horrified Roel as he struggled to maintain his composure.
He tried perceiving his Origin Attribute and quickly refuted the possibility that he was in the Witness State.
The Witness State was an effect of Roel’s bloodline ability, so he would have been able to sense its activation. Furthermore, even if he had been transported into the Witness State, the window of connection he had with Peytra and Grandar should have only been temporarily blocked, but the window had vanished entirely at the moment, as if it had never been there in the first place.
This signified a terrifying reality—he wasn’t able to tap into the power of the ancient gods at all.
“I need to calm down. There’s no way I could have possibly lost my own transcendent abilities, which means to say that I’m not in the real world at the moment. Am I currently in the world of dreams? And the cause of it… the Blackrose Ring?”
Roel massaged his temples to calm himself down as he began analyzing the situation. He recalled not taking off the Blackrose Ring before falling asleep, so it was possible that this was the ‘guidance’ Ro mentioned.
Gazing upon his surroundings, the midnight Saint Freya Academy was deathly silent like a ghost town, devoid of its usual bustle. There were very faint shimmers of candlelight in some of the buildings around, but it only made the surroundings eerier.
It’s too quiet.
Roel suddenly felt chills running down his spine as such a thought surfaced in his mind.
He was suddenly brought to the heart of the academy with darkness looming around him, and he had lost the support of the ancient gods too. This called for cautiousness. He scanned the observation deck he was on, only to see a huge wooden door creaking under the night gale. Everything was pitch black beyond it, as if the lair of a terrifying beast.
I have to head in to take a look.
What Roel was in dire need of at the moment was information. If this was the guidance provided to him by the Blackrose Ring, he mustn’t waste this precious opportunity. Even if that wasn’t the case, his many encounters with danger taught him that remaining idle in such a situation was bound to lead to demise.
He walked toward the wooden door with controlled footsteps, making sure to pay heed to every single detail around him, be it movements in the shadows, sounds, or even smells. After ensuring that there was no perceivable activity beyond the wooden door, he began making his way in.
There was no one in the room beyond the wooden door.
Roel infused his mana into his eyes, causing his pupils to emanate a faint golden glow. It allowed him to see everything amidst the darkness with clarity. A swift scan of the room told him that he was in some sort of office.
There was ordinary red carpeting, an average wooden office desk, teacups of unknown origin, two bookshelves with just a few books on it, a small Brolne’s flag, a clock hanging on the wall, and a few astrology magic devices.
This should be the office of an astrology teacher, Roel thought as he assessed the devices hanging by the wall.
He made his way over to the desk and tried to search through the drawers and bookshelves while trying his best not to make any noise, but there was nothing to be found.
It was all empty.
A slight furrow began forming on Roel’s forehead. The presence of teacups meant that this office was in use, but the lack of any other materials was extremely bewildering. The pieces of the puzzle weren’t fitting together.
Roel crossed his arms broodingly as he turned his attention to the other objects in the room.
Hm? The hanging clock has come to a stop?
It dawned on Roel that he hadn’t heard the ticking of the clock ever since he entered the room. He looked at the time, and it was 1:13 at night.
“It’s not the time that I fell asleep…” noted Roel.
The clock looked antiquated, but it didn’t seem to be a valuable antique. It was made out of inferior material, and the craftsmanship was shoddy too.
While Roel was checking out the room, he noticed that there were no movements or sounds on the corridor outside the room either.
Something is wrong here. Why does it seem like I’m the only one here?
Roel couldn’t resist the urge to open the door and check out the corridor too.
Just as he had expected, there was no one along the dark corridor either. The dark environment and the chilling silence pricked at his nerves, leaving him feeling deeply uncomfortable.
He slowly made his way out of the room and into the corridor, advancing on till he finally reached a flight of stairs. He slowly made his way down, making sure to stop and look around every time he arrived at a new floor. Still, there was no significant discovery at all.
It was only until he reached the ground floor that he noticed an oil lamp by the entrance of the tower he was in.
The presence of light slightly dispelled the gloomy feeling weighing down on Roel’s heart, but at the same time, it also evoked his wariness too. He first scanned the surroundings with his senses and mana, and after confirming that the presence of light wasn’t some sort of trap, he made his way toward it.
It was the watchman office. To his relief and disappointment, there was still no one at all.
Following that, he made his way out of the astrology tower and began wandering around the academy campus. In his journey, he noticed that only the watchman offices of the buildings on the ground floor were lit up; everywhere else was plunged into darkness.
The existence of a pattern here felt unnervingly artificial, as if some sinister force was manipulating the area.
Is there really no one here?
What does the guidance mean? Am I to become the new watchman of the campus?
Roel pondered doubtfully as he began making his way toward the dormitories.
The dormitories were a cluster of old buildings that provided relatively cheap two-room accommodation to the students. It should have been the place with the greatest crowd density during nighttime, so if he was unable to find anyone there too, it was unlikely that there would be anyone in the academy at all.
Unexpectedly, he made a discovery right after making a turn ahead.
On the fifth floor of the closest dormitory, there was a hint of light. The light wasn’t too bright, but for someone who had been wandering amidst the darkness for a long while now, it looked like the light of revelation.
Excited by this discovery, he quickly made his way over. It only took him ten seconds or so to arrive on the fifth floor. He first took a look from the stairway, and he soon spotted some shadows moving amidst the dim illumination.
There is someone there!
Roel heaved a sigh of relief. He cast ‘Light Footsteps’ on himself to silence his footsteps before proceeding closer to the room where the light was coming from. He stopped right before the ajar door to peek in.
In the dimly-lit room, there was a black-robed silhouette with a torch in his hand bending over his bed, whispering something to someone. His voice was hoarse and his words were mysterious and obscure.
The moment Roel heard his mutterings, his body suddenly jerked as a stabbing pain that felt like someone was mashing his brain assaulted his mind.
He wanted to scream to vent the pain out, but the Crown Origin Attribute in his body suddenly came to life. A unique mana pulsation rippled from the Crown Origin Attribute, dispelling the pain and bringing clarity back to his mind.
However, this mana pulsation also alarmed the black-robed figure. He immediately turned his head around to look at Roel, granting the latter a clear glimpse of his face.
Under the flickering flames, Roel saw a withered face with white pupils and sharp fangs.
What the hell is that?!
The moment he was discovered, the widen-eyed Roel made his move without any hesitation. He released a burst of frost air, freezing the black-robed figure who was already in the midst of making his move too.
His pre-emptive move allowed him to secure an easy victory over the black-robed figure, and it soothed his nervous breathing a little. Roel quickly glanced at the dark corridor once more, and after ensuring that there were no other monsters, he made his way into the room.
“Student, are you fine… Ah?”
Roel walked toward the bed and pulled out the blanket, only to realize there was no one there.
Huh? What’s going on? If there’s no one here, who was that monster talking to earlier?
Roel turned to look at the frozen monster once more as he recalled the earlier scenery. The monster’s movements made it clear that he was conversing silently with someone on the bed, so the lack of another person in the room was inconceivable to him.
The baffling situation left Roel with a tight knit between his eyebrows.
Before he could make sense of the situation, he suddenly heard footsteps sounding from the corridor outside. He quickly headed out of the room and saw a platoon of black-armored soldiers marching in his direction. There was a black-robed figure standing at the very back of their formation, presumably the commander of the platoon.
The black-robed figure shouted words that were incomprehensible to Roel with a piercing voice, and the black-armored soldiers suddenly began charging over with swords in their hands.
“Who in the world are you all… Glacier!”
Without any hesitation, Roel launched his attack against the platoon of soldiers. But this time, before his attack could land on the soldiers, he suddenly felt a jerk on his consciousness.
“Diriring, diriring, diriring…”
On the bed of the Azure Manor, Roel opened his eyes in a daze and found himself faced with the ceiling. The alarm clock which he had set ahead of time was ringing noisily beside him. Brilliant sunlight was shining in from the window, bringing him warmth. Melodious chirping could be heard from the mountain not too far away.
He had awoken from his dream.
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