W-what is this creature? How could there be something as adorable as this in the world?
That was the only thought left in Lilian’s stalled mind as she stared at the unconscious boy in her arms.
He had fair and smooth skin, long fluttery eyelashes, small cherry lips, a pair of little ears, long flowing hair, and a delicate androgynous face. His body was soft and incredibly comfortable to hug, almost like a little plush toy.
Just looking at the little boy made Lilian’s heart pound faster. He was so adorable that she just wanted to cuddle up to him, but she soon snapped out of her trance.
“No, how could Roel turn into a child? This is…”
Upon remembering just how unnatural the current situation was, Lilian descended into a fluster.
Despite the huge change in his appearance and age, Lilian was certain that the little boy in her arms was Roel Ascart. Her certainty came from their bloodline resonance, though it had become so weak that it was almost imperceptible.
She struggled to come to terms with this ridiculous turn of events.
Roel turned small? How is this possible?
All sorts of spells had been created by transcendents over the long history of the Sia Continent, but very few of them had spatial or temporal implications, be it the spell’s effects or side effects. Lilian had heard of spells that had the side effect of hastening one’s aging process, but never had she seen one that caused age regression before.
The powers of the Crown’s Stones had far surpassed her imagination.
She closed her eyes to calm herself before starting to check on Roel’s condition.
There was hardly any mana pulsation coming from him anymore. His bloodline was still present, but it was at its weakest state ever. These signs suggested that Roel had lost his transcendent abilities, meaning that he had really regressed back to his earlier years.
What made it worse was that there was no saying how long he would remain in this condition.
Lilian fell silent.
This was already a dire situation, but her gut feeling told her that there was more to it.
One anomaly she noticed was that she was irresistibly drawn to Roel, wanting to get as close as possible to him, almost like a junkie. It was certain that this wasn’t the effect of their bloodline resonance since the weakening of Roel’s bloodline meant the weakening of their resonance effect too.
There was something extremely important here that was eluding her notice.
He didn’t just become smaller. To be exact, his childlike form is caused by the regression of his age… But is this really all there is to the side effect? I feel like there’s something far more dangerous here…
Lilian tried to gently touch Roel’s cheek, but the moment her finger came into contact with his delicate skin, she suddenly felt a tingle of exhilaration rippling throughout her body. It was hard to accurately describe the sensation, but it made her feel more spirited and vigorous.
It was such an intoxicating sensation that she found herself subconsciously craving for more. This was what was drawing her to Roel.
She frowned deeply in bewilderment, trying to figure out what was going on. A thought suddenly popped into her mind, and she widened her eyes in disbelief.
“Wait a moment, does this mean that… he’s leaking time?”
Having finally traced down the crux of the anomalies, Lilian’s amethyst eyes narrowed in horror. Her face turned ghastly pale within seconds, and her lips started quivering fearfully.
This is worse than I thought.
Just thinking about some of the implications that could arise from that left her with a terrifying premonition.
To put it in simpler terms, the phenomenon of leaking time meant that he was sharing his time with others. Lilian had no way of knowing whether this effect was temporary or permanent, but regardless of which it was, this definitely spelled disaster.
If there was an ability in the world that practically all transcendents would go red-eyed over, it was the ability to restore one’s youth.
Even on the mystical Sia Continent, where the impossible was made possible, there was still one thing that no transcendent, no matter how powerful, had been able to escape from—senescence. Be it warriors, saints, traitors, or emperors, they were all equal before the flow of time.
Even legendary beings known for their longevity, such as the majestic dragons and the mighty giants, could only lower their heads helplessly before the relentless progression of time.
The desire to cling to life was even stronger in the short-lived humans. If granted the chance, many would choose to sin in exchange for longer lifespans.
And their chance had just appeared.
Anyone who came into contact with this beautiful but powerless boy would be able to slowly regain their youth.
There was no greater enticement than this in the world. Lilian could already imagine Austine’s noblewomen going into a frenzy should they ever learn about this.
Before the opportunity to regain one’s youth, even the closest of friends would against one another.
As powerful as the Ascart bloodline was, Roel hadn’t achieved its fullest potential yet. It was doubtful whether he could ward off the powerhouses that would come after him even if he was in his best condition, not to mention he was powerless now.
If someone with malevolent intention were to capture him and try to control him with drugs and spells, the consequences could be dire.
“… This won’t do! I definitely cannot allow anyone to know of this!”
The thought of it left Lilian’s hands trembling out of panic, and she quickly took deep breaths to force herself to calm down.
First and foremost, they definitely couldn’t remain in the academy anymore as there were simply far too many people who recognized Roel here. On top of that, she clearly remembered Roel telling her that the Bloodtribute Cult was just one of the several evil cults that had infiltrated the academy.
But where else can we go?
Lilian did have plenty of palaces under her name, but those were out of the question too. There were far too many eyes on her, and one of them was Emperor Lukas himself.
That’s the one person in the world who absolutely mustn’t learn of Roel’s condition.
She would have sought Principal Antonio’s help under any other circumstances, but the knowledge of Roel’s condition compelled her to immediately dispel that thought.
Four hundred years was a long time, and humans were constantly changing according to their environment. Lilian couldn’t be certain whether ‘Guardian’ Antonio was still trustworthy or not, not to mention that his advanced age meant that an opportunity to regain his youth would be enticing to him too.
Magician King Priestley had left a strong impression on Lilian about how fallible humans could be in the face of temptations. Of course, it would be foolish to pessimistically assume that all humans were like Priestley, but she wasn’t about to make a gamble with Roel’s life.
For the same reasons, Lilian also quickly eliminated Nora and Charlotte too.
While those two ladies were unlikely to harm Roel, the same couldn’t be said about their families. Nora’s grandfather, the incumbent Holy Eminence of the Saint Mesit Theocracy, was already in his declining years, and the Sorofyas had many elders in their house too.
Based on the intelligence she had previously gathered, those two ladies were on good terms with their families. If a day were to come when their elders were on their dying breath and pleaded desperately with them to ‘borrow’ Roel so as to prolong their lifespans, would they really be able to toughen their heart and turn them down?
No, they won’t be able to do it.
The Ackermanns were a cold-blooded bunch who wouldn’t hesitate to kill one another in order to consolidate their power. Kinship was nonexistent amongst them. Lilian wouldn’t hesitate to rebel against Emperor Lukas if the latter were to demand her to hand over Roel.
But the same couldn’t be said about Nora and Charlotte.
The same reasons could be easily applied to all of Roel’s friends too.
After much contemplation, the only ones Lilian deemed trustworthy were the Ascart House, but they were currently too far away. On top of that, the Witness State had taught her about one of the unique traits of the Ascart House—constantly under surveillance.
If her guess was right, there should be all sorts of powers keeping tabs on them even at this very instant.
What should I do…
Lilian looked at the unconscious boy in her arms with a worried frown. It was such a huge world they lived in, yet she felt like there was no place for them at all.
Silence fell upon the wine cellar.
She quietly looked at Roel while listening to their breathing sounds. Slowly, her emotions started to calm down.
Was the current situation despairing?
It would have definitely appeared so for others.
But it wasn’t long ago that she had braved through a situation even more hopeless than this. If she could muster the courage to stand fearlessly before Magician King Priestley, what was there to be frightened about by their current plight?
“If I can’t decide on a destination, I’ll just keep traveling till the right place comes to me,” said Lilian determinedly as she rose to her feet with Roel in her arms.
She first inscribed a message on the walls to inform the members of the Special Ops Team that there were still enemies that needed to be pursued. Following that, she summoned ten red-cloaked mages. She pointed at the ceiling above them and ordered.
“Blow a path open!”