Astrid’s cough startled Lilian, snapping her out of her thoughts.
Just by looking at Lilian’s reaction, Astrid knew that there wasn’t any need for her to elaborate any further.
“We have finished discussing our matters.”
While Lilian was feeling utterly exposed under Astrid’s smiling eyes, Roel and Antonio finally concluded their conversation and headed back.
Roel was too anxious with the ticking countdown to notice Lilian’s anomaly, but the latter was far too conscious of him at the moment that she couldn’t help but feel a strong jolt when she finally got a clear look at his new appearance.
Absorbing the Crown’s Stone had caused his hair to grow much longer, and his disposition felt slightly different from before too.
Similar to how using Glacier’s Touch left Roel composed, the current him gave off an air of tranquility reminiscent of an old tree that had mellowed out with time. His masculinity was toned down by his ethereal aura, giving him a delicate presence.
Lilian’s heart started to beat faster.
She had no idea how others would take Roel’s more delicate image, but it was definitely a bullseye for her. She felt an even stronger urge than before to dote and take care of him… though she dared not say those words aloud.
Meanwhile, Astrid couldn’t help but notice another problem here. She assessed Roel with her iridescent eyes, and a furrow slowly formed on her forehead. After a long moment of contemplation, she finally asked.
“Have you been seen by Her?”
Astrid’s words were abrupt, and it left Lilian and Antonio utterly confused. However, Roel swiftly got what she was driving at and widened his eyes.
“Are you referring to the Mother Goddess?”
“That’s right. I can smell Her scent on you. It’s not particularly strong, but it’s a sign that the two of you have come into contact.”
“Yes, I’ve met Her. Ancestor, could it be that you know something about the Mother Goddess?”
“I’m afraid not. I don’t know much about the Mother Goddess due to the Chaos Dream. I was only able to recognize Her scent because I’ve seen someone like you before,” said Astrid with a look of nostalgia on her face.
Roel was shocked to hear those words.
“Someone like me?”
“It’s one of your ancestors, Kaldor Arde. Just like you, he was a prodigy with the ability to absorb the Crown’s Stones. He came under the alias of ‘Collector’ in the Twilight Sages Assembly. I chanced upon him in the waning years of the Second Epoch. Back then, he was the core member of the team dealing with the Six Calamities.
“It was just a pity that the two of us parted ways due to the differing missions we had on hand. I’ve never met him since the mass migration to West Sia. Back then, he spoke a lot about the Mother Goddess, saying that he had to collect the Crown’s Stones in order to pull off something huge. I’ve never heard from him ever since, so it’s likely that he might have…”
Astrid sighed softly, and Roel felt his heart growing a little heavy. He wanted to utter words of consolation, but he couldn’t think of anything appropriate.
“Forget it, let’s not talk about such depressing matters. What I want to say is that while the Crown’s Stones are powerful sources of power, you might face grave danger utilizing them.”
Roel nodded in acknowledgment of Astrid’s warning. He was moved by his ancestor’s concern for him, but right now, he was much more worried about Astrid.
He remembered that the Blackrose Ring’s Dream Realm was still existent in his era. Considering that a dead person was incapable of dreaming, this could very well mean that Astrid wasn’t dead yet in his era.
The Dream Realm in the Blackrose Ring was likely an emulation of the very night Priestley launched a devastating attack on Saint Freya Academy in the real world. Astrid was forced to use her only chance to leave the Dream Realm to clash with Magician King Priestley, and it was likely that she won the battle.
This deduction was based on the fact that Antonio was still alive in the present timeline. If Astrid failed to defeat Priestley, the chances were that the latter would massacre Antonio and everyone else in order to conceal the fact that he was a traitor.
However, it would appear that Astrid paid a heavy price for that fight too, resulting in her inability to show herself ever since then.
Is she trapped in the Dream Realm? Or is there some other force at play here?
Roel had no answers to those questions, but he knew that this was the best time for him to gather more information. After all, there was no one in the world who knew more about the Dream Realm than Astrid.
【Evaluation: 105 (Perfect)】
【Countdown to the end of the Witness State: 180, 179…】
Roel looked at the little remaining time he had on hand and quickly asked his questions.
“Ancestor, if, by any chance, you met with danger, are there any emergency measures you have prepared that could potentially save your life?”
“Emergency measures? Well… I do have quite a few of them. I’m in charge of guarding the Chaos Dream after all, so it’s only right for me to prepare multiple survival means.”
Multiple survival means? This…
“What about in this scenario? Assuming that you had to fight against Priestley on your own and ended up paying a heavy price in order to defeat him, what kind of emergency measures would you take?”
“Well, it’d really depend on the situation.”
Astrid blinked her eyes in confusion, unable to comprehend why Roel was asking these questions. However, Roel was only getting more anxious with each passing second. He quickly looked at the countdown before asking once more.
“Could I have a look at your list of emergency measures?”
“Hm… I guess you could, but you’ll have to ask Margaret for that. She should have a record of that.”
The sudden emergence of a familiar name caught Roel by surprise. Astrid misunderstood his exclamation as a sign of confusion, so she began explaining with a smile.
“Yes, Margaret is one of the rare dream spirits that possesses self-awareness. I was the one who instructed her to pose as an artificial spirit in the academy. To be frank, she was the one who thought up many of the emergency measures I have on hand, and she’s also the one recording all of them down. She’d provide me with options when the situation really necessitates them. After all, I’m getting old and my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.”
Roel was surprised by the truth behind Magaret.
Who could have thought that there would be a real spirit in the world feigning as an A.I.? Now, if only the same thing could happen for waifus…
【Countdown to the end of the Witness State: 34, 33…】
Having received an important clue that he could work with, Roel knew that it was time for him to say his farewells. He grabbed Lilian’s hand and directed a nod at her. The latter immediately caught the drift.
With their hands locked together, they turned to Astrid and bowed deeply in unison.
“Ancestor, thank you for taking care of us during this period of time. We’re overjoyed to have been able to meet you.”
“Ah? What are the two of you speaking of all of a sud… Ah.”
Looking at their expressions, Astrid suddenly thought of something, and her eyes widened in astonishment. In the end, she let out a serene smile.
“… I see. That would explain why I’ve never heard of the two of you. It makes sense now. I guess this means that I’ve also done my part too.
“I must say, this all feels surreal. I never thought that I would encounter descendants from many years later, but it doesn’t feel bad at all…” murmured Astrid.
She looked at the two youths in front of her before taking a step forward to hug them.
“Before you leave, I have one last request for the two of you—be happy.”
Roel was moved by her final words. Lilian’s eyes turned moist as well. But time wouldn’t stop ticking because of their sentiments.
【Countdown ended. Commencing return.】
With a notification from the System, both Roel and Lilian’s consciousness started to black out.