On the grass field, the woman wearing thick armor looked at the smiling black-haired man and her heartbeat started quickening. Despite knowing that it wasn’t the best occasion to do so, she couldn’t hold back the urge to offer him yet another sincere invitation.
She had thought hard about everything that had happened yesterday for an entire night, and she had no choice but to admit that she had done wrong. But what she deemed to be her mistake wasn’t her provoking Nora and Charlotte but her failure to display her full prowess.
In William’s eyes, the reason why Roel didn’t accept her invitation was that she hadn’t proved herself worthy yet. This was why she made use of this opportunity to fully showcase her prowess, and she managed to receive Roel’s compliment as a result.
Compliment was something unfamiliar to William. She had grown up hearing nary a word of that. Hearing it from Roel, the person whom she had been waiting for a very long time, was more reassuring than anything else in the world.
But to her surprise, Roel rejected her invitation a second time.
“My apologies, Prince William. I’m thankful for your invitation, but I have no such intent at the moment.”
William fell silent upon hearing those words, but there was something even more surprising to come.
Looking at the armored figure before him, Roel thought that it would be best for him to relay his thoughts to him properly. He took a while to weigh his words before speaking up.
“I met ‘Guardian’ yesterday. We had a chat. He told me about the situation in the Knight Kingdom and the ideologies it embraced. I have utmost respect for the contributions your country has made to the world thus far.”
“You… know Lord Antonio’s identity?”
William was astonished to hear Roel’s words.
Even in the Knight Kingdom, Antonio’s identity as ‘Guardian’ of the Twilight Sages Assembly was a highly confidential secret that few knew about. She found it inconceivable that Roel’s intelligence network had already developed to the extent of uncovering such high-level secrets.
“However, there’s one thing I need to be honest with you about. I have no intention of abandoning the Ascart House and leaving this place. I am willing to take on some of the responsibilities of the old Twilight Sages Assembly, but I don’t think that it’s suitable to continue deploying the same system the Assembly did in the Second Epoch.”
“You don’t think that it’s suitable? Would you mind elaborating more?”
“We’re living in an era of many nations. Rather than working in the shadows, I believe that it would be much more effective to stand forward and become a uniting force for humankind.”
Sensing that the conversation was proceeding in a detrimental direction, William blurted out a response. She nervously placed her hand on her chest and carried on.
“For many years, the Twilight Sages Assembly had maintained order from the shadows and made many accomplishments, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with the system. The incompetent won’t be able to contribute anything toward the disasters we’re dealing with. What we need is the strength of the elites, you and me… Your clan and our Dawnbringer Order.”
Sensing that there was something amiss with her words, William quickly changed her phrasing. Fortunately, Roel didn’t pay too much heed to it. He frowned and started musing over her words.
“I can’t deny that. Even if we amass an army of low-level transcendents, they still won’t be able to accomplish what an elite group of high-level transcendents can do. Most of the disasters that the Twilight Sages Assembly dealt with require quality, not quantity.
“However, there are also exceptions where the reverse is true, such as the happenings at our eastern border over the last few years. We need the cooperation of the entire humankind in order to fend against the deviants. In the future, there might be other crises that a single country won’t be able to resolve on its own. Staying in the shadows won’t allow us to solve those problems,” said Roel.
“Then we just have to cooperate with others when the need arises. The Twilight Sages Assembly has already disappeared for centuries now. There’s a need for another organization filled with selfless individuals who cares not about material wealth or glory to rise up and take its place. As long as we stand steadfast…”
William swiftly refuted the points that Roel had proposed, but it didn’t change Roel’s mind. On the contrary, it only made him think that she was overly obstinate.
Following a thousand-year-old tradition is indeed admirable, but those who fail to keep up with times will only be eliminated by the currents of change.
“Are you saying that all your organization needs is conviction? If so, I beg to differ. I do respect those who selflessly devote themselves for a noble cause, but such a philosophy won’t work in an organization. Willpower won’t be enough to sustain most in this dangerous and arduous undertaking,” replied Roel with a frown.
His words provoked a strong response from William. The latter stepped forward in agitation and exclaimed.
“For over a thousand years, we, the Cambonytes, have embraced these values and devoted ourselves to it. This is the spirit we instill in each generation of knights. I’ve given up on a lot in order to uphold these values. Mister Roel, are you questioning my clan’s way of life now?”
Roel was stunned.
Staring at the man donned in stifling heavy armor, he was suddenly reminded of his conversation with Teresa. She had implicitly told him that William had his circumstances too, just that it wasn’t convenient for her to divulge them.
His eyes slowly widened at that thought, and he hurriedly apologized.
“I apologize. I assure you that’s not my intent. I didn’t mean to undermine what you and your clan have done for humankind. Please allow me to take back my words.”
Roel’s earnest apology placated William’s wrath a little, and her emotions calmed down as well. The two of them faced each other silently.
The students in the vicinity noticed the peculiarity between them and began gossipping amongst themselves.
“It looks like they are fighting over there?”
“Surely that transfer student isn’t provoking our Ringbearer again?”
Both Roel and William could hear their discussion, but they didn’t pay them any heed. The former was racking his mind to find a way to change William’s mind whereas the latter suddenly thought about the women who were constantly by Roel’s side.
“… Is it because of those women?”
“Are you refusing to join the Dawnbringer Order because you wish to stay with them?”
“That’s part of the reason too, but…”
“That simplifies things.”
William sharply interjected before proceeding to reveal her decision.
“There are some conflicts in our ideologies, but both require sufficient power to implement. That makes things much easier. I’ll defeat them and prove to you which side you should choose.”
“Eh? Wait a moment!”
Roel was baffled by the oddly innocent but violent ‘let’s settle it with our fists’ proclamation. He had no idea how Nora and the others came into the picture, but it would appear that William was already done with words. The latter did a slight bow before he turned around and took his leave.
Looking at William’s departing silhouette, Roel heaved a sigh. He knew that this was going to spell trouble.