An antiquated black carriage raced down the road to the Eirbower Dukedom. In it, a black-haired boy was currently tossing and turning on a bed.
Roel’s eyes were tightly shut, an indication that he was deeply asleep. Yet, there was a pained look on his face. He kept mumbling something nervously, but it was too slurred to make out what he was saying.
Perhaps it was because she heard the noise or that she had sensed the instability in Roel’s emotions through their faint bloodline bond, the carriage door suddenly opened and Lilian walked in. When she saw the state Roel was in, she anxiously rushed over to wake him up.
“Roel, Roel! Are you fine?”
“A-ah? Senior… Did I have a nightmare again?”
Lilian’s call jolted him awake from his dream. He clutched his forehead and rubbed his temple to alleviate his headache. He soon noticed Lilian's worried gaze and hurriedly waved his hand to reassure her.
“I’m fine, senior. It’s just a nightmare.”
“You have been having nightmares for the last few days. Are you really fine?”
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just the exhaustion getting to me. I’ll probably feel much better once we arrive at Eirbower.”
There was nothing she could say since Roel was insisting that he was fine, but a worried frown still continued to linger on her forehead. She leaned down and gently embraced Roel, patting his back to comfort him.
Roel returned the hug, allowing Lilian’s warmth to envelop him. However, his face slowly turned grave.
It had been half a month since the two of them had left Leinster now, and they had been rushing the road this whole time. They had already passed by three towns so far and were about to reach the capital of Eirbower Dukedom, Aurora Capital Ols.
On the first day of their journey, while Lilian was out hunting, Roel bought a few items from the Affection Points Exchange Shop, including this Carriage of Sinners.
Understandably, Lilian was flabbergasted by the incomprehensible apparition of a carriage when she returned with her catch, but after he explained that he had obtained it through certain means, she chose to accept his explanation without asking any questions.
There were many unexplainable phenomenons in this world. It was not unheard of for humans with high affinity with nature to receive gifts from the forest, or a transcendent suddenly having a gut feeling that led him to an ancient relic. There were many records detailing such events.
Lilian didn’t know whether it was the same for Roel or not, but she decided to refrain from digging into his private affairs.
Even the closest of couples would inevitably keep secrets from one another. Granting each other some personal space was a show of respect, in her view.
Roel was relieved by that. He did inform her about the possibility of Saints Convocation sending pursuers after them though since it was a real threat they could face. It would be foolish to hide that from her.
Lilian had come into contact with Saints Convocation back in the Witness State, so she understood how grave the situation was. The two of them rediscussed their plans, but they eventually decided to stick with the original one.
Despite the crowded streets of Aurora Capital Ols, most of them were tourists lured in by the legends of the aurora. Eirbower didn’t have a huge local populace due to the harsh conditions in the north. Manpower was a key requirement for the growth of an evil cult, something which Eirbower lacked, so there weren’t any significant evil cult branches there that could hope to endanger Roel and Lilian.
On top of that, there was a huge number of tourists entering and leaving Ols everyday, making it difficult for their pursuers to keep tabs on them.
All of these factors made Eirbower a favorable choice.
After confirming their decision, Roel took out Ethereal Tear and explained its functions to her before helping her put it on. They had a quick meal in the wild before Lilian summoned one of her knights to have him contribute his powerful steed to pull the Carriage of Sins.
With that, they resumed their journey, just that it was much more comfortable this time around.
Since there was no need to worry about them exposing themselves anymore, they decided to travel on the smoother main road. Lilian summoned an army of footsoldiers to disguise as guards—it would have been more conspicuous if a carriage were to travel unprotected.
As a result, they ended up becoming a convoy with only two real living people.
At the first town they stopped at, they bought a lot of necessities, including clothes… though Lilian chose not to immediately change out of her maid clothes.
On one hand, she noticed Roel sneaking curious peeks at her attire, but more importantly than that, the maid clothes symbolized their relationship too.
Lilian didn’t look old enough to have a seven to eight-year-old child, which meant that the more likely explanation was that they were siblings. However, this would appear odd as it was rare for siblings to travel together. Not to mention, it was a breach of propriety for siblings of different genders to share a carriage in the conservative Austine Empire.
There were actually some carriages on sale in the town despite looking much shabbier, but Lilian was strongly opposed to them traveling in separate carriages.
So, after careful consideration, they decided to assume the identity of a young master out for a holiday with his personal maid. That was a fairly common combination in the circle of nobility, so it wouldn’t be too eye-catching. It would also allow Lilian to constantly stay by his side.
The only problem was that it wasn’t uncommon for young masters to have an ambiguous relationship with their personal maids, especially if they were around the same age as them. In fact, bed warming was considered one of the duties of a personal maid in the circle of nobility.
For that reason, most personal maids were usually selected from noble houses, and their masters would later take them in as concubines.
The well-read Roel understood the connotation, which was why his face turned completely red when Lilian proposed the idea. He voiced his reservations regarding the arrangement, but Lilian was able to put out convincing reasons that left no room for rebuttal, so he had no choice but to relent in the end.
Roel thought it was ridiculous how he now had an imperial princess of the Austine Empire as his personal maid. It was no wonder why people often said that life was like a drama.
Anyway, after securing all of the necessities they needed for their journey, they soon resumed their journey to the north. It was around then that Roel started suffering from nightmares.
His peculiar condition didn’t escape Lilian’s notice. She would have to be blind to not notice that something was wrong with the person sleeping beside her.
She felt conscience-stricken by his condition, thinking that this was only happening because she dragged Roel out with her. So, she tried all kinds of means to help him, be it through spells, medicine, or even folk remedies like drinking a cup of milk before bed. Unfortunately, nothing worked.
After several days of nightmares, Roel felt like he was starting to get a grasp on the nightmares. He realized that there was a common theme in them—escape.
Be it on a grassfield, a cluster of buildings in the middle of the night, or a prison slathered in bloodstains, he was always running away in his nightmares, though he had no idea what he was escaping from.
He thought that it might be his mind playing tricks on him since he was indeed trying to flee from his pursuers at the moment. In the last two days, however, he started hearing a girl’s voice near the end of the nightmare.
A simple word it was, but it relayed a lot of information. It was queer that he had heard the same voice for two consecutive nights, and it led him into thinking that it wasn’t just any ordinary nightmare he was having. It might have been a warning instead.
But from whom could this warning be from?
Roel had no answer to that question, but at the very least, it didn’t seem like he was in danger for the time being.
The Carriage of Sinners wasn’t just for show. Its ability to interfere with divination spells was the real deal. On top of that, he was pleased to learn that the interior of the carriage had been enlarged with spatial magic, housing a small lounge and a bedroom.
It was just that the Commandment Sect had an unusual sense of aesthetics, opting for a gothic theme for its interior decoration. Admittedly, the effects did look pretty cool whenever the carriage intercepted a divination spell. The torches in the lounge would light up with eerie blue flames, and white mist would seep out.
Those were the ‘Sinners’ in the Carriage of Sinners, or to be more exact, sinful spirits.
Should they sense malicious intent or a lack of intent in the spellcaster’s mana, the white mist would envelop the carriage to interfere with the divination spell. On the other hand, if they sensed goodwill in the spellcaster’s mana, they would return into the blue flames.
It was rather frightening when the sinful spirits loitered in the carriage, making it look almost like the manifestation of the netherworld in reality. If not for Roel and Lilian’s boldness, they would have never dared to stay here.
Over the past seven days, the sinful spirits had emerged for a total of fifteen times, a sign of just how determined the evil cults of the Sia Continent were determined to sink their fangs into Roel. Of course, there was no way the Carriage of Sinners would allow them to do as they pleased.
Roel did notice that there were two times the sinful spirits had emerged from the blue flames but didn’t envelop the carriage. He was consoled by the knowledge that not the entire world was out to get him, though he really shouldn’t. He would be alarmed to learn that the ones who cast those two divination spells were even more anxious than the evil cults to get him.
“Hold on for a while longer. We’re going to arrive at the Aurora Capital soon. They won’t be able to find us easily once we enter the city, so we’ll at least be able to catch a breather.”
“Alright. Thanks, senior.”
Lilian smiled in response to Roel’s gratitude. She took a deep breath and clenched her fists tightly to restrain herself before slowly releasing Roel from her embrace.
Roel’s time leak had intensified over the last week. It was already hard enough for Lilian to hold herself back from her urges, but the further enticement from his leaking time was really challenging the limits of her tolerance. It had gotten to a point where just meeting his eyes was more than enough to make her heart pound quickly.
What goes around comes around.
The cause of Roel’s current condition was actually due to Lilian, or to be more exact, the treatment she spoke of.
Under the pretext of strengthening their bloodline resonance, the two of them would sleep on the same bed with thin pajamas on. They started with just holding hands, but Lilian got more aggressive over time. In the last two days, they even started hugging one another to sleep.
Their efforts did pay off. The constant bloodline resonance hastened the rate at which the barrier was being worn down, which, in turn, quickened the time leak as well. It was just ironic how the patient was getting better but the doctor was slowly caving in.
Lilian waved her hand with a smile before stepping out of the carriage. She gracefully closed the door before tilting weakly toward the carriage’s wall. Her face turned incredibly reddened as she raised her hand to conceal her hastened breathing. It took a while before the cooling breeze finally calmed her down.
“Soon. We’ll be arriving soon.”
By then, I won’t have to hold myself back anymore.
She looked at the road ahead of her with such thoughts in mind.
What she didn't know was that two other armies had already arrived at the entrance of Aurora Capital Ols.