The glorious sun rose over the horizon, proclaiming the arrival of a new day for the Sia Continent. Countless had already gotten up and were doing their own things, be it enjoying a cup of coffee, exchanging sweet nothings with their lover, or rushing the road.
Traveling through a mountainous forest with a dense canopy that only allowed cracks of sunlight through was a mounted army of mercenaries. At the forefront of this army was a silver-haired girl riding on a demonic beast. They were heading out of the Theocracy through the northern border of the Ascart Fiefdom.
Alicia Ascart could feel a portion of her powers falling into slumber with the disappearance of the moon, and it evoked a soft sigh from her lips. She turned to Cynthia and asked.
“Is there anyone lagging behind?”
“No, young miss.”
A woman donning heavy armor right behind her answered with a lowered head.
But right after those words were spoken, someone started retching behind Cynthia. Alicia glanced over and saw a middle-aged man patting the back of a gray-robed elder. There were helpless smiles on their faces.
“Sorry ‘bout that, young miss. This geezer is past his prime, so his old bones can’t take all this rattling,” said Rodney.
“Nonsense! Don’t listen to him, young miss! I’m perfectly fine. I just had too much to eat last night,” exclaimed Wood.
Rodney shrugged in response, not wanting to say anything else since Wood had already insisted that he was fine.
Alicia glanced at the old man, followed by the army behind him. They had traveled for an entire night now, and most of their complexion didn’t look too good. It looked like the shaking of the demonic beasts when traveling across unstable terrain was not easy to bear even for the most resilient of mercenaries.
She sighed softly and issued a new order.
“… We’ll take a quick rest.”
Alicia climbed down the back of the wolf beast she was riding on. She gently stroked its head and infused a bit of life force into its body, which was met with an exhilarated howl from the latter. It shook its tail excitedly like a husky.
This incredible sight impressed Cynthia and the others.
Indeed, the demonic beasts they were riding on were actually the wolf packs that other fiefdoms had to devote a great amount of manpower each year to eradicate. Thanks to Alicia’s abilities, these wolves had been tamed and turned into special mounts within the fiefdom.
What was special about these wolves was their ability to cross treacherous terrains that were usually impossible for typical mounts. Should an emergency occur, the soldiers would be able to scale across mountains and get to their destination as soon as possible instead of taking a detour, possibly reducing travel time by up to ten times.
The current situation was a perfect example of that. The army had already crossed three mountains thus far, covering a distance that would have otherwise taken ten days had they taken the main road instead.
If one were to describe war as a fight to get the right people to the right place at the right time, these mounts were indubitably an invaluable asset that would grant the Ascart Fiefdom an overwhelming advantage over its enemies.
It was just that the young woman didn’t look happy despite having accomplished this incredible feat. Instead, she took out a Life Orb and started examining it.
“Haaa, it still looks the same as before.”
After a night of traveling and thinking, Alicia was finally able to calm herself down. She noticed that the Life Orb wasn’t getting any dimmer despite losing its brilliance, and that allowed her to make some deductions.
The place where Roel had gone wasn’t a dangerous battlefield but a peaceful academy. As one of the Theocracy’s high nobles, he was bound to be one of the most prominent people in the academy. On top of that, his tremendous strength meant that he was no pushover either.
The chances of him falling into a dangerous state from fighting with someone else in the academy were extremely slim.
If so, there was only one possibility: the Witness State.
Her guess was that Roel’s current frailty was not caused by him being on the verge of death but by him being afflicted with his spells’ side effects, similar to the previous two times. That would explain why he was in a frail but stable condition.
Alicia was able to compose herself after coming to this conclusion.
Before Roel left the house, she specially prepared a few bottles of wine that could replenish his life force for him. They probably wouldn’t be enough to cure serious afflictions, but they should be enough to keep him hanging so that his condition wouldn’t further worsen in the short run.
Still, she felt anger burning in her chest.
The Kingmaker’s Bloodline was the turning point of Roel’s life, but in her view, it was a menace that threatened to take him away from her.
It would activate without warning and put Roel through untold dangers, almost like a ticking time bomb without a timer, making it impossible to control or predict it. To make things worse, it was also the catalyst that brought about swift development in his relationships with Nora and Charlotte, to the point where it was nigh impossible to sever them anymore.
“Isn’t this a cheat for all of the tramps out there? I am the one who has been with him since the very start! I am the one who spent the most time with him! But why is it that I’m the only one who hasn’t been through the Witness State with him…” muttered Alicia indignantly with tightly clenched fists.
It took a while before she composed herself once more.
She had no idea whether he had entered the Witness State with Nora or Charlotte, but she knew that she would be the only one lagging behind at this rate. She had to make haste.
At the same time, she was also deeply worried about Roel’s condition because she knew that he urgently needed protection right now. This was a piece of advice she had heard from Ancient Treant Kayde earlier:
“Whenever possessors of the Ascart Bloodline face a trial, they would undergo a period of weakness. This is a common problem amongst those of their clan, and it’s the opportunity that many await in order to bring them down. He needs help right now. As much help as possible.”
Alicia frowned worriedly. She looked at the Life Orb in her hand and muttered.
“Lord Brother, wait for me…”
Meanwhile, several white-cloaked figures were gathered around a round table in a dark chamber barely lit by a single candle placed in the middle. They had already been discussing for several hours now, and it looked like the meeting was about to come to an end.
The innermost seat around the round table had a chair that differed from the others, looking much older and majestic compared to the others. The white-cloaked man sitting on that chair slowly stood up after a long discussion.
Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing and fell silent. They turned their eyes toward the chairman of this council.
The white-cloaked man first directed a sweeping gaze across the members of the council before addressing them with an old and hoarse voice.
“My fellow brethren, I can sense the deepening sins of the foolish blasphemer. He has stolen another authority from our God Envoys. This is an insult to the Saints Convocation, a blasphemous act toward the Mother Goddess. We cannot turn a blind eye to his provocation.
“It’s fortunate that the foolish blasphemer has entered a phase of weakness. We must grasp this rare opportunity to eradicate the bloodline awakener of that clan and monopolize his corpse. There are many other organizations who harbor the same thoughts as us, but only our Holy Envoy harnesses the power to uncover his trail.”
The other executives nodded and voiced their agreement toward the movement.
“With this, Motion 751 of the Executive Council has been officially approved. In the name of the Mother Goddess, we shall eradicate the blasphemer,” declared the chief executive.
“““In the name of the Mother Goddess.”””
The other executives echoed after him with voices that sounded fervent yet sinister.
In a flicker of the candlelight, all of the figures vanished. The candle continued to burn down, and it wasn’t long before the chamber fell back into darkness.