Shimmering light shone on the duo in the Principal’s Office.
Roel looked gravely at Antonio. In response, the latter nodded in confirmation.
“Even after centuries, the remnants of the Twilight Sages Assembly gathered in the Knight Kingdom continue to oppose my plan. I’ve already proven to them the feasibility of the plan without affecting the Chaos Dream, but those obstinate fools still deem it too risky.
“The lineage of the Dreamwalkers resides in that country, which means that I can’t carry out my plan without their help. Thus, I hope that you can garner their support for the plan,” said Antonio as he looked at Roel with expectant eyes.
Those words brought a frown to Roel’s face.
“I get what you’re trying to do, but I don’t understand why you didn’t intervene when a conflict broke out between our groups earlier. Isn’t what you’re doing contrary to your goal?”
“I can understand why you would think that way, but there are reasons for that.”
“You’re saying that there’s more to the situation?”
“… Roel, have you heard of the Swordheart School?”
Roel raised his eyebrows, unsure of what Antonio was driving at.
He was aware that the term ‘school’ was commonly used to refer to the different schools of martial arts, but his knowledge regarding them was lacking since he was a spellcaster himself.
“I haven’t heard of Swordheart School before. What’s that?”
“That’s the school propagated by the royal family of the Knight Kingdom. It’s known as one of the Cambonytes’ Three Cores, with the other two being the Courage Origin Attribute and the Dragon Bloodline. You can think of it as a unique mana utilization method, a special type of spell.”
Antonio delved into the fundamental theory behind the martial art schools, greatly broadening Roel’s understanding of transcendent abilities.
Origin Attributes were the foundation of transcendent abilities in the Sia Continent. Similar to how spellcasters created spells to better bring out the prowess of their Origin Attribute, the knights had also found ways to augment their physical prowess beyond human limits.
One of these ways was through the martial art schools, which were centered around the concept of a pseudo Origin Attributes.
Similar to how those of the Wisdom Origin Attribute became stronger by expanding their knowledge, the Cambonytes’ Swordheart School followed a similar theory too, but what it required was an unshakable will.
Lofty ideals, firm principles, and an unwavering heart, those were what a practitioner of the Swordheart School needed to grow. The greater their will, the more resilient their Swordheart. If a Swordheart was developed to the very limits, it could potentially evolve into a Divine Sword.
Antonio’s explanation opened Roel’s eyes to the transcendent pathways of Knight Kingdom Pendor. He was starting to see how their knights were able to fight on equal grounds with spellcasters despite only developing their physical prowess.
However, this also raised some doubts.
“I roughly understand what the Swordheart School is now, but what does that have to do with the conflict between our groups?” asked Roel.
Antonio nodded slowly in acknowledgment of his question before slowly answering.
“I turned a blind eye to the conflict between William and you because it’s inevitable. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but the sooner the better. It’d breed less acrimony if you can quickly get it out of the way.”
“That’s because the path you have chosen contradicts the traditional values embraced by the Ardes and the Twilight Sages Assembly.
Roel widened his eyes in surprise, not expecting to hear those words. He repeated the specific phrase that particularly intrigued him, and Antonio soon answered his doubt.
“Back in the Second Epoch, the Ardes and the Twilight Sages Assembly were the shadow guardians of humankind. They chose to remain undercover because they believed that corruption will cripple the organization if it’s brought to the surface. It would also risk panic amongst the common populace once they learn about the lurking crisis. Such was the line of thought spurring the Ardes to become the Shadow Eagle of the Ancient Austine Empire.
“The traditional values embraced by the old Twilight Sages Assembly advocate members to forsake their personal glory and silently protect humankind from the shadows. The Knight Kingdom has held steadfast to that creed over the years. Think of its isolationist policies and William’s insistence on hiding his profile beneath his armor; all of these can be traced back to those traditional values to some extent.
“What about you?”
Roel widened his eyes at that question. He fell into deep thought.
He was studying at the prestigious Saint Freya Academy where all powerhouses of the world kept their eyes on. He associated himself with the brightest stars of the youngest generation, be it Nora, Charlotte, or Lilian.
His way of life didn’t conform to the spirit of silent heroism embraced by the Knight Kingdom.
“The Swordheart School tends to be excessively strict on its successor so as to build up their willpower. It was his devotion to the knight’s chivalric code that William was able to tolerate his stifling full armor and tough training over the years. Those traditional values I’ve mentioned have likely already become an integral part of his Swordheart, something that he’ll adamantly hold onto even when the going gets tough. Given that the path you have chosen differs from his, the clash in your ideologies is bound to lead to conflict.”
Roel slowly nodded his head in realization. With the puzzle pieces in place, he was finally able to understand Antonio’s actions. He also agreed that a conflict with William’s group was inevitable, for he had no intention of delving into the shadows.
The sacrifices the Ardes made for humankind were noble, but Roel didn’t think that it was feasible for the Ascarts to emulate their ancestors’ legacy.
The Ascarts were tied down by far too many things, such as their fiefdom and their people. There was no way they could abandon those. Roel himself also had no intention of severing ties with Nora and the others.
More importantly, while he admired the Knight Kingdom for having silently contributed to the world over the years, he didn’t think that it was the right way to go. Far too many things had changed over the past thousand years that old values needed to be reshaped to remain relevant in the current era.
Back in the Second Epoch, the whole of humankind was unified under the great Ancient Austine Empire. The creation of a force as powerful as the Twilight Sages Assembly could possibly undermine the stability of the empire, for it was bound to stoke ambitions and speculations. It was a wise decision to keep the Assembly undercover back then to uphold the stability of the empire.
Aside from that, there was also no reason for the Assembly to come to the surface back then. One had to remember that the Ardes were the shadows of the imperial family, the uncrowned kings of humankind! They had the means to acquire whatever resources they needed to deal with lurking disasters, so there was no benefit for them to appear in public sight.
But what about now?
The Ancient Austine Empire had dissolved after the mass migration, and a cluster of nations rose in its wake. These nations had their own ambitions, and the weakening of rival nations would only gladden them. The only time they would reluctantly huddle together was in the face of possible extinction.
With everyone’s hearts in different places, it was more difficult than ever to rally a group of selfless heroes. Even if the Dawnbringer Order were to go on the streets with megaphones in hand, shouting for everyone to save the world together with them, it was questionable whether anyone would be willing to contribute significant money or manpower.
It was already difficult enough to gather resources even when doing it openly, and the Dawnbringer Order still wanted to go undercover?
One had to know that the Ancient Ackermann Empire had the whole of humankind behind it whereas Knight Kingdom Pendor was a small, isolated nation!
William and the others might be willing to empty their coffers to make up for the deficiency in resources, but how much could they fill up? What if the crisis they were dealing with demanded resources greater than what the Knight Kingdom had to offer?
Before the threat of extinction, every single bit of resources was precious and would make a difference. The Dawnbringer Order would be swiftly stretched to its limits once calamity struck. Roel had seen far too many examples of this in his previous life to know better.
Besides, the Dawnbringer Order’s system didn’t seem feasible from a human management perspective.
A hero who had resolved a crisis would be bestowed with glory and reward from their country, and that would motivate others to accomplish something for the country too. On the other hand, the Dawnbringer Order expected its members to gather their own rations and weapons and devote their soldiers to performing dangerous missions that wouldn’t bring them any glory or direct benefits.
William and a few others might be willing to do so, but did they honestly expect others to be as selfless as they were?
Having ideals was a good thing, but pragmatism was equally important too. Nobles had their own fiefs and people to take care of. Resources and manpower put into dangerous missions could have been diverted toward other places to strengthen their fiefs and help their people. Having lofty ideals was no reason for a noble to let their people starve.
To be fair, this problem existed in the Twilight Sages Assembly too, but it was mitigated to some extent by the cumulative wealth of the Assembly’s members. It had the support of the Ancient Austine Empire back in the Second Epoch, making money a nonproblem. In the Third Epoch, its members included powerhouses from many countries, allowing the burden to be shared across many people.
Having thought up to this point, Roel heaved a deep sigh and asked.
“I don’t think it’ll be easy for us to get along if we have such a huge ideological difference. Principal Antonio, do you have any ideas in mind?
“It won’t be easy, but you’ll have to change William’s mind. You’re a special existence to those transfer students, and the influence you have over them is greater than you can imagine. Based on your track record thus far, I am confident that you’ll be able to pull it off.”
“My track record?”
Roel thought that the phrase sounded odd, but Antonio simply flashed him a cryptic smile without explaining any further.
You’re unaware of it, but you do have a special place in her heart, Antonio thought as he looked at Roel deeply.