Nora Xeclyde was currently inside the bustling banquet hall, disguised as one of the clergymen for the upcoming event. She was dressed in a white cloak and her face was concealed behind a white veil. Her sapphire eyes swiftly scanned the multitude of couples in front of her.
As the successor to the Genesis Goddess Church, Nora harbored deep respect toward the aurora as it represented Sia’s blessing. It was just that its significance paled in comparison with the one person that was currently dominating her mind.
Nora didn’t have Charlotte’s supernatural ability of divining a person’s location, but she did have her own strength too—her massive influence.
Most nobles on the Sia Continent wielded considerable power, but their influence was limited to their own circle. Take the Ascart House for example, it possessed great say within the Saint Mesit Theocracy, but its influence was greatly diminished beyond the Theocracy’s borders.
There was only one noble house in the world whose influence had reached every nook and cranny of the Sia Continent—the Xeclydes. Just like how it was often said that the light of Sia shone upon everyone, the church was also present wherever humans lived.
The church had always been the central faith of the human populace, holding a special place in people’s hearts. Only those who were tired of living would dare to undermine the church.
It was through the influence of the church that she was able to swiftly build up connections and sneak into the banquet hall as one of the clergymen even though this was her first time being in the northern border.
Her effort appeared to have paid off as something had just caught her eye.
While her eyes were scanning through the couples in the banquet hall, an inexplicable feeling of incongruence suddenly arose in her heart. The feeling came on a whim, almost as if by intuition, but she managed to track down the source of the incongruence.
It was coming from the dance floor.
I think I saw someone familiar earlier on, but who is it?
With such a thought in mind, Nora began approaching the dance floor. Noticing her movements, Lilian Ackermann began to panic.
They are about to find us.
Unlike Charlotte, Nora was Roel’s childhood friend. They had known one another since they were nine, meaning that she had seen child Roel before, albeit being several years back. It was almost certain that Nora would be able to recognize Roel if she were to lay her eyes on him!
I can’t give her the chance to see Roel’s face!
Lilian’s amethyst eyes narrowed sharply. She quickly reached out and held Roel’s face to hers while looking at him with sentimental eyes.
“What were you going to say earlier?”
Roel was already in the midst of turning his head over to look at the arriving clergymen since that was where the center of attention was at, but his movements were forcefully halted by Lilian. It was so abrupt that it left him confused for a moment.
Meanwhile, Lilian had already managed to think of a countermeasure to deal with this crisis.
She gathered mana within her body and released it at a quantity so faint that it wouldn’t alert anyone around her. A figure began rising from the shadows, forming a silhouette that was identical to the 14-year-old Roel.
Kantsas Shadow Dancers.
This was one of the more peculiar army divisions under Lilian’s command. There were few members in this division, and they were extremely weak compared to the knights and mages she had contracted with. However, they possessed a set of special abilities that prompted the Ancient Austine Empire to search far and wide in order to recruit them.
Their Deception Origin Attribute allowed them to disguise themselves as anyone, making them extremely competent in espionage and sabotage.
After over a thousand years, they had finally reappeared in the world.
The white-cloaked Nora quickly walked toward the dance floor, determined to investigate the ‘thing’ that had caught her attention. But before she could come close, a commotion suddenly broke out by the side.
Someone had knocked into one of the guests while attempting to run away. This commotion caught the attention of everyone in the bustling banquet hall, so Nora’s gaze was naturally drawn over too.
It was just that she didn’t expect to see a familiar face.
Nora widened her eyes in astonishment when she saw the escaping young man. Without any hesitation, she rushed over to capture him.
Several individuals rushed forth from the group of clergymen to aid her, causing a huge disturbance to the banquet.
“Hold it right there!”
“Stop, we’re on the same side!”
The fake Roel leaped out of the banquet hall through one of the side windows, and Nora and her group of followers followed suit. It was only then that Lilian finally released her hands from Roel’s face.
Roel immediately turned his head over, but all he saw were a group of white-cloaked figures disappearing through the window.
His suspicion was already piqued. Be it the disturbance caused by the clergymen or Lilian’s sudden grabbing of his head, all of these were simply too unnatural, but he couldn’t understand what these actions symbolized. So, he stared at Lilian and asked.
“Who are those people?”
“I’m not sure. Could it be a lovers’ quarrel?” replied Lilian.
She blinked her eyes innocently, but that didn’t seem enough to fool Roel. So, she bent down a little and kissed his forehead.
As expected, her action immediately drove Roel into a fluster, momentarily distracting him from the issue at hand. Her heart was still pounding from the close call, but at the same time, she felt a rush of adrenaline too.
It was scary yet weirdly exhilarating.
Roel and Lilian finished their dance under the soothing music.
However, the earlier disruption and Lilian’s sudden bold kiss had messed up the atmosphere she had painstakingly built up between them. As a result, she wasn’t able to hear the words of confession she was looking forward to from Roel.
It was a waste to have squandered this opportunity, but she decided not to rush things. It would be better to slowly bait Roel out of his shell instead of forcefully dragging him out.
It’s not like he can get away in his current condition anyway.
Feeling a little starved after the dance, the two of them headed over to the buffet table to have some food. There was a table filled with rainbow seal sashimi.
Roel was generally averse toward raw meat, but he decided to have a taste of this exotic dish. It was surprisingly good.
Rainbow seals were a rare breed that were known to release blinding light at their enemies whenever in danger. They were also fond of emanating light while sunbathing on shore so as to deter any animals from approaching.
Honestly speaking, they were probably a pain in the ass for most underwater creatures—who could stand it when someone constantly flashed a torchlight into your eyes?
The underwater community probably murmured ‘Good riddance’ every time a human armed with a pair of sunglasses drove a harpoon through a rainbow seal.
Recalling the background story of the rainbow seal made its blubbery flesh taste a little more delightful to Roel. Still, the meat was a little too greasy so Lilian offered him a glass of champagne to wash away the oily aftertaste.
Just watching Roel fill up his cheeks with the rainbow seal sashimi was enough to bring a smile to Lilian’s face. She knew that she had to do something if she wanted these days to last, so she quickly racked her brain to decide on her next course of action.
The Blessing Square was definitely out of the question now.
She had managed to distract Nora and her followers for the time being with the help of the Kantsas Shadow Dancers, but even those master disguisers wouldn’t be able to kite them for long. Not to mention, the Blessing Square was bound to be heavily guarded by now.
It was time to change plans.
She slowly looked around contemplatively, and her eyes soon fell upon a towering clocktower beyond the window.
“Roel, I know of a place where we can get a good view of the aurora. We’ll sneak out of the banquet hall later on.”
The approval of the oblivious boy brought a deep smile to Lilian’s lips.
They spent their last hour walking around the banquet and watching a few live performances.
As the time approached midnight, the couples in the banquet started making their way toward the Blessed Square in order to secure good seats. The two of them made use of this commotion to sneak away from the banquet and into the ducal estate, which wasn’t open to guests.
Ten minutes later, the two of them finally arrived at the top of the clocktower. With Roel in her arms, she looked at the crowd in the Blessing Square beneath them and revealed a triumphant smile.
They were close enough to the Blessing Square to avoid being tracked down by Charlotte’s divination spell but far enough to not be within the line of sight of sentries.
This was the perfect maneuver that provided the perfect opportunity for Lilian to finish up what she was doing.
“Roel… Lord Astrid left me with some words before we left the Witness State.”
“Hm? What did she tell you?”
Roel was watching the starry sky when he heard Lilian’s remark and turned his gaze toward her curiously. To his surprise, Lilian suddenly fell silent.
The dark clouds above parted, allowing the moonlight to shine down on the clocktower. Its gentle glow exposed Lilian’s furiously blushing cheeks. It took her a while to garner the courage required for her to continue what she was saying.
“She said that… if we were to marry, our child is likely to be a pureblood who possesses even stronger bloodline abilities.”
Roel’s eyes dilated in shock when he heard those words, and he swiftly fell into a panicked state.
“Pureblood? Child? W-wait a moment… It’s likely to be true since it’s our ancestor who said so, b-but still, we are…”
“… It’s alright.”
“The thought of having a child scares me, but if it’s with you…”
Lilian’s body was trembling when she said those words. She looked at Roel with eyes quivering with nervous anticipation as she slowly leaned down to match his height.
Her approaching warm breath caused Roel’s mind to heat up. He instinctively understood the significance of the incoming kiss.
He knew that his relationship with Lilian would change for good if he allowed this kiss to occur, but he didn’t feel averse to it. On the contrary, he felt warm and fuzzy on the inside.
He slowly raised his head, but before their lips could meet, a slim figure suddenly appeared from the moonlit window.
With a shout and an explosion, Alicia Ascart arrived at the crime scene.