Antonio was feeling indescribably conflicted at the moment.
With his wealth of life experience and the preparations he had made beforehand, he was absolutely confident that he was going to be the one in control of the conversation with Roel Ascart. He could have never imagined that Roel had such a powerful trump card in his hands.
His complacency resulted in him being struck right in his guts, and he fell into a stupor.
After two minutes of silence, Roel started talking something along the lines of ‘fourteen years old sending flowers to the wrong teacher for Teacher’s Day’, ‘wanting to watch the fireworks with her on New Year’s Day but couldn’t find her’, and so on. These consecutive hits left Antonio clutching his forehead as he anxiously asked for a time-out.
It took another two more minutes for him to recover.
After Antonio finally regained his poise, he let out a sigh and lambasted Roel in his mind.
Youngsters nowadays have no scruples at all. How can you use such dark history to assault a four-hundred-year-old elder like me? Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!
While Antonio was still trying to recover from the traumatic onslaught of his dark history, Roel’s lips curled into a victorious smile. He knew that it was a good idea for him to make the younger Antonio reveal his dark history. Look, he managed to claim the upper hand right away!
After the initial shock, Antonio started wondering how Roel came to know about the history between him and his mentor, Astrid. Those memories were so far away that even he had nearly forgotten about them. After considering all possibilities, he eventually arrived at the only plausible answer—the Ardes’ legendary bloodline ability.
“Can you tell me where you heard of those matters?”
“Four hundred years ago, from a member of the Twilight Sages Assembly going by the alias, ‘Guardian’.”
“It really is!”
Antonio revealed a bitter smile upon hearing that answer, but at the same time, he also felt a spurt of excitement too. This meant that Roel had been through the same turmoil four hundred years ago as he had, which effectively tore down the communication barrier between them.
One of the greatest barriers Antonio foresaw in securing Roel’s help was the latter being unaware of Astrid’s existence. Astrid was born in the Second Epoch, but the Ascarts’ history only traced back to the early years of the Third Epoch. Even their family names were different!
Antonio could try to explain things to Roel, but Roel might not necessarily believe him. Astrid had been extremely careful not to leave any traces of her existence behind, so it was nigh impossible to find any concrete evidence to prove her ties to the Ascart House.
Awakening an Origin Level 1 transcendent was definitely a huge cause for concern. If the Origin Level 1 transcendent was a heinous villain, it could potentially cause a calamity.
Such considerations made it likely for Roel to refuse Antonio’s request for help. That was why it was such a huge relief to Antonio when he learned that Roel had been through the same fragment of history as him.
“Principal Antonio, I can tell you frankly that I’ve received a lot of help from Astrid in this city four hundred years ago. I know that you once harbored anger toward our clan for having forgotten about Astrid, but please believe me when I say that the two of us wish for the same thing.”
Under the dim lighting, Antonio stared deeply at Roel’s serious face. A moment later, his expression appeared to have turned a little gentler, as if he had confirmed the latter’s sincerity.
Seeing this, Roel continued his speech.
“I have come here to ask you, ‘Guardian’ Antonio, what is the current situation that my ancestor, Astrid Arde, is in? Does the problem she’s facing have something to do with the remnants of the Assembly in Knight Kingdom Pendor?”
“… That’s a tough question to answer.”
Antonio let out a sorrowful sigh before slowly revealing the truth.
“Let’s start with the conclusion. Lord Astrid isn’t dead, but I can’t say that she’s alive either.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“She has fused as one with the Chaos Dream.”
Roel’s eyes dilated in shock. Antonio was overwhelmed by his own emotions for a brief moment, but he quickly shook his head to snap out of his daze. He began revealing the true history that had transpired without Roel and Lilian’s intervention.
Four hundred years ago, the Saints Convocation Leinster Branch was in a demoralized state after consecutive losses to the Salvation Brotherhood. Without Roel stepping up to rally them together, it didn’t take long before they were completely wiped out.
With that, the Salvation Brotherhood devoted its full forces to sieging Saint Freya Academy. It was a truly gruesome battle, and the garrison army ended up suffering heavy losses.
In order to salvage the situation, Antonio conducted a stealth operation and did everything he could to assassinate the enemy commander, Sartoni. His plan worked out, but he ended up suffering severe injuries in the midst of doing so. Thus, Astrid forced him to return to the backlines to rest up.
Just as they thought they were finally going to turn the tables, Magician King Priestley Maxwell appeared. The ensuing battle became the source of the nightmares that haunted Antonio for the next few centuries.
Collapsed buildings and fallen comrades. The obliteration of countless civilians under the shockwave of Priestley’s spells.
And at the very last moment of the battle, the sight of Astrid fusing together with the Chaos Dream.
“Priestley’s final attack wasn’t targeted at Lord Astrid but the Chaos Dream that was forced into the real world over the course of the battle. Even at his dying breath, he was still dreaming of destroying the Chaos Dream and earning the Savior’s favor so as to come back to life. How laughable!
“It’s just that even an attack from a coward like him was far too much to bear for the brittle Chaos Dream. In order to stabilize the treasure guarding the future of humankind, the severely injured Lord Astrid chose to fuse herself into the Chaos Dream. She was able to survive the madness of the Chaos Dream through the properties of her Dreamwalker Bloodline, but she couldn’t avoid falling into eternal slumber.”
By this point, Antonio was so agitated that his voice had turned hoarse, but he insistently continued on with the story.
That battle had practically turned Leinster into a ghost city. Saint Freya Academy automatically repaired itself at dawn thanks to Astrid’s Dream Realm Barrier, but the survivors numbered not even a hundred people.
This tragic event had a far-reaching impact on the whole of humankind.
Magician King Priestley Maxwell, as an Origin Level 1 transcendent and one of the leaders of humankind, had fallen into depravity and massacred the hundreds of thousands of people residing in Leinster, inflicting a crushing blow to the cradle of humankind.
It was such a huge incident that it shocked all of the top brass of humankind then, forcing them into action.
The allied forces of humankind halted their counterattack on the deviants and instead formed investigative teams to purge evil cultists from their ranks. To avoid causing further panic, both the tragedy in Leinster and the name, ‘Magician King Priestley Maxwell’, were intentionally excluded from the annals of history.
Centuries had passed since then, and only a small handful of people still remembered the tragedy.
“What is preventing Astrid from waking up?”
After hearing the full story about Leinster’s tragedy four hundred years ago, Roel turned his focus toward his ancestor’s issue. Antonio had answers for that.
First and foremost, Astrid’s maneuver was unaccounted for in the list of countermeasures stored inside Magaret, such that the latter had no idea how to deal with the situation. Aside from that, the members of the Twilight Sages Assembly were also vehemently opposed to waking Astrid up.
‘Academic’ Astrid’s sacrifice was noble, but the Assembly had to prioritize the interests of humankind above all else. There was a chance that saving Astrid could cause the Chaos Dream to stop functioning, and that was a chance the Assembly wasn’t willing to take.
Unfortunately, Antonio wasn’t strong or resourceful enough to find a way to save Astrid back then too.
However, Antonio refused to give up despite the difficulties standing in his way. He devoted the next few centuries of his life to researching the Chaos Dream. As he learned more and more about the nature of the Chaos Dream, he was able to formulate a plausible solution.
“There are two items required to extricate Lord Astrid from the Chaos Dream. One is the Blackrose Ring containing Lord Astrid’s own Dream Realm. The other is a similar bloodline. As Lord Astrid is a mixed-blood, this aspect has to be broken down into two parts, human and dreamwalker.
“Blood from ordinary members of the Ascart House wouldn’t work here. The Ascarts might have descended from the Ardes, but the passing of a thousand years has caused a huge divergence in their bloodlines. For that reason, only the blood of an awakener will work. That’s why I need your help,” explained Antonio.
“I see. You mentioned that we require the blood of a dreamwalker too. Do you have any leads on that?” asked Roel.
“I do. Knight Kingdom Pendor.”
Having his doubt affirmed, Roel narrowed his eyes sharply.