Hm? A carriage is entering the academy at this hour?
Along a dark street faintly lit by the moon, Roel and Alicia slowly made their way toward the closest carriage stop with linked hands. Alicia was relishing in this late night walk with her Lord Brother while Roel blinked his eyes at the carriage rushing past them.
The late night Saint Freya Academy was devoid of its usual bustle. The vicinity was enveloped in silence, making the throttling of the posh carriage that had just entered the academy ever more conspicuous.
Oblivious to Roel, the scrutiny went both ways. While he was eyeing the carriage, the person in the carriage was also looking at him.
The armored figure seated inside the carriage immediately shot to her feet the moment she caught sight of Roel. Her first instinct was to halt the carriage, but she quickly changed her mind.
She noticed that Roel was accompanied by a silver-haired girl embracing his arm. A man and a woman taking a stroll at night with an intimate atmosphere floating between them; it was inevitable that William would come to the conclusion that they were on a date.
Isn’t this… inappropriate?
William slowly returned to her seat with a bewildered look on her face as she recalled the information they had gathered on Roel.
That girl should be his foster sister, but I recall that Saint Freya Academy doesn’t allow students to bring their family members to campus.
William harbored doubts regarding Roel’s behavior, but she had no intention of criticizing him since she was an outsider here. Her black carriage galloped past Roel and headed into the heart of the academy.
Half an hour later, William arrived at a traditional-looking building. Her armored silhouette as she walked across the soft carpeted corridors naturally drew intrigued gazes from the staff members. It was only when she was standing before a huge door bearing the ‘Book of Truth’ insignia that her footsteps finally came to a halt.
A staff member stepped forward and respectfully knocked on the door on her behalf. Shortly after a few solemn knocks, the voice of an old man sounded from inside.
The door automatically unlocked itself and sprung open. William made her way into the room with cadent footsteps.
Antonio was seated on his chair getting some shut-eye, but he slowly opened them to gaze at the armored young woman entering the room.
“You must be Prince William. Welcome to Saint Freya Academy. How’s your father doing?”
“Lord Antonio, my father is faring well. Thank you for your concern.”
“You’re too courteous. Your father and I were comrades who fought alongside each other. Many years have passed, but our camaraderie from fighting alongside each other for humankind will never change. There aren’t many comrades whom I can reminisce about the past with anymore,” said Antonio with a wistful sigh.
Having lived for centuries, he had seen so many cycles of destruction and creation that it felt like a dreary loop. History departed only to return another day, but many of his old friends were no longer around.
Longevity was not always that pleasant a thing. It was often accompanied with loneliness.
William remained silent before Antonio’s nostalgic murmurs. The other staff member quietly retreated from the room, and the door closed and locked on its own accord. It was only then that she finally began talking.
“Esteemed Sage, I won’t be so presumptuous as to claim to understand your feelings, but I assure you that the sacrifices you have made for humankind will never be forgotten. It’s my responsibility to inherit your will, and I’ll work hard to ensure that your efforts won’t be unraveled.”
“Responsibility, you say? Heh. It looks like he has been strict on you.”
Listening to the words from his old comrade’s daughter and the stifling heavy armor she wore, a mixture of emotions flickered across Antonio’s eyes. He spent a moment in pensive silence before continuing on.
“You have come here on short notice, William. Is there something you need my help for?”
“Yes, Lord Antonio. I wish to officially transfer over to Saint Freya Academy and further my studies here.”
“Transfer? The Knight Kingdom has its fair share of outstanding academies, so…”
“… Roel Ascart.”
Antonio’s pupils sharply contracted the moment the armored knight revealed her motive, but his expression reverted back to normal a split second later. He took a while to consider the situation before posing a question.
“I believe that the Knight Kingdom should have received a report from me concerning Roel Ascart, no?”
“We did, and we value your observation and evaluation. However, as the successor of the Cambonyte House, one of the houses that has made a vow with that ancient clan, I wish to know him better on a personal level. The same goes for the members of the Dawnbringer Order who have accompanied me here. We earnestly hope for his participation in our organization.”
I guess what’s meant to happen, will happen.
There was not the slightest change in Antonio’s expression, but he was sighing deeply in his heart.
As an ex-member of the now dysfunctional Twilight Sages Assembly, ‘Guardian’ Antonio had remained in contact with the remnants of the Assembly and several sequestered houses residing in Knight Kingdom Pendor over the past few centuries.
Over the years, his old comrades had requested for his aid on multiple occasions, and he had always answered their call for help without fail. He still valued the camaraderie and bonds they once shared. It was just that this matter was different.
The remnants of the Twilight Sages Assembly and the sequestered houses had been keeping an eye on the Ascart House, which was inevitable considering that they were descendants of the ancient clan that founded the Assembly.
Roel Ascart was speculated to be the most recent awakener of that clan after Ro’s death several centuries ago, so the attention on him was even more intense. It was just that he hadn’t made any moves over the years, so they were unable to confirm the speculation.
It was only this year—after Roel had enrolled in Saint Freya Academy—that Antonio confirmed that he had indeed awakened his bloodline. The news swiftly caused a huge stir in the Knight Kingdom.
The original plan was for Antonio to play the role of a mediator and guide Roel into the circles in the Knight Kingdom. Through gaining support from the remnants of the Twilight Sages Assembly and the sequestered houses, the Shadow Eagle of the Ancient Austine Empire would spread its wings and soar once more.
It was just that Antonio’s thoughts began to change as he got to know Roel better.
One key factor was Roel’s competency thus far.
Antonio could hardly fathom how Roel was able to reach his current level of strength without anyone’s guidance. He had even managed to gather significant intelligence on his clan’s history over the years. This proved that Roel was capable of standing his ground even without external support.
But what really changed Antonio’s mind was the brand new possibility he saw in the young man.
He couldn’t say that he truly comprehended it, but after months of observing the young man, he could definitively conclude that there was a huge difference between Roel Ascart and his awakened ancestors—his charisma.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, a sphere of influence had started converging around Roel. This influence was so great that it could sway the whole of humankind, and it was still swiftly growing even at this moment.
What further impressed Antonio was their decisive responses in the face of danger.
Not too long ago, when Roel Ascart met with danger, the Saint Mesit Theocracy and Rosa Merchant Confederacy unhesitatingly dispatched their soldiers and traveled tirelessly across a long distance to reinforce him. Together with the help of an imperial princess of the Austine Empire, Lilian Ackermann, they were able to crush the assassination squad.
In the process of doing so, the various parties had put aside the deep-seated grudges arising from the differences in their nations and religions, uniting together as one for a common goal. To Antonio, who was no stranger to humankind’s internal conflicts, this was nothing short of a miracle.
The Saint Mesit Theocracy, the Rosa Merchant Confederacy, the Austine Empire, and the heretics.
Not once ever since the mass migration a thousand years ago had such a diverse group of people united around a single person. If this power were to be given time to mature…
The thought of this cast a glimmer of expectation in Antonio’s sagacious eyes. He had a feeling that when humankind was faced with dire danger, Roel would display power and influence far surpassing that of any past awakeners of the Ascart House.
For this reason, he didn’t want anyone to disturb Roel. However, it seemed like his wish wasn’t possible anymore.
He gave the matter some thought before finally giving his reply.
“I’ll accede to your request, but on one condition.”