LTBE - Chapter 411: An Unexpected Gift (1)
In the Ascarts’ manor’s dining room, Roel stared intently at Carter, hoping that his father might have some news for him.
“I might have come from the direction of the Holy Capital, but I didn’t enter the city. I’m afraid I don’t have much news about Her Highness. I heard that Her Highness has withdrawn from the Challenger Cup because she was feeling unwell?
“Yes, that’s the case. She entrusted me with the mission of clinching the champion trophy before returning to Saint Mesit Theocracy.”
“It looks like you have perfectly accomplished her mission.”
Carter avoided asking about Nora’s physical condition, choosing instead to quickly conclude the topic with a passing remark. He knew that it was likely that Nora had told Roel something before returning to the Theocracy considering their close ties, but that information was potentially confidential considering how he hadn’t heard a word about it thus far.
He knew that he would be putting Roel in a spot if he chose to probe deeper into the matter, so he decided simply not to.
There was huge contention in the Theocracy over Nora’s withdrawal from the Challenger Cup. National pride was at stake here, so it was inevitable for the populace to feel frustrated when one of the top candidates from their nation abruptly withdrew from the tournament.
Fortunately, the public outrage was somewhat offset by Roel’s victory. The Ascarts and Xeclydes were known to be close allies in recent years, and the populace was satisfied with the final outcome. Thanks to that, no one harped on the issue.
Carter was gladdened at how things had ended amicably. He knew how important it was for the Theocracy to remain united at this juncture, and disunity could spell a catastrophe for humankind.
“Lord Father, I heard that there has been quite a lot of logistical movements in the Holy Capital recently. You must be swamped with work. You ought to take care of yourself.”
The atmosphere on the dining table turned slightly heavy as Carter and Roel fell into a pensive mood, so Alicia decided to clear the air by raising another topic. Carter was slightly surprised by the sudden show of concern before replying with a smile.
“Mhm. The Holy Capital has decided to bolster our forces at Tark Stronghold, so we had to send more rations over to the frontlines to support the increase in manpower. It’s fortunate that we had a good harvest this year, so there’s no strain on our food supply. However, this has nothing much to do with me. Contrary to what you expect, my workload decreased.”
Carter shook his head before explaining the reasons to them.
The war against the deviants had been intensifying in recent years, so most countries had been trying to expand their army through holding mass recruitments and offering greater incentives for soldiers. However, it was inevitable that newly recruited soldiers might be lacking experience, so they were first assigned to the logistics department to ‘intern’ there first.
Delivering rations might seem like no big deal, but the operation demanded a high level of discipline from the soldiers. The journey was designed to be fast-paced to minimize the consumption of rations, and the soldiers had to remain alert to threats throughout the journey.
On top of that, the road to the eastern border wasn’t safe.
Most countries rarely bothered maintaining those areas since there were few humans residing near the eastern border, thus making it a haven for demonic beasts. Deviants who had escaped the detection of the frontline troops would occasionally appear in the vicinity too. On top of that, there were no major cities one could rest in along the way.
That being said, it was still much safer than how it would have usually been thanks to Carter’s efforts. Otherwise, the trip to the eastern border would have been like a trip to Nevereverland. Armies could easily lose their way in the absence of an established path, and that could spell a wipeout in the barren eastern border.
Roel and Alicia patiently listened to Carter’s explanation about the eastern border. This was the first time they were hearing about all of these since Carter had never talked about his work.
It was likely that Carter thought that Roel had finally grown up after learning that the latter had won the Challenger Cup, so he decided to put aside his reservations and talk about such matters.
Roel could somewhat guess his father’s thoughts.
For the longest time, Carter had already decided that it didn’t matter to him whether Roel could make it big or not. All he really wanted was for his son to remain safe. That was why he was hesitant to expose Roel to the side of the world he was in.
However, Roel’s victory at the Challenger Cup had changed his mind.
As the number one person of the younger generation, the top echelons of many countries had already started to see Roel as one of the future leaders of humankind. There was a good chance that he would eventually become involved in the highest level decision-making that would determine the fate of humankind.
For that, Roel had to expand his horizons and grasp a deeper understanding of the reality around him.
Carter was well-versed in the situation over at the eastern border as the highest commander in the logistics department, which put him in a good position to fill in some of the gaps in Roel’s knowledge. This would also mentally prep Roel for what he might potentially face in the future.
Understanding all of these, Roel felt a tinge of warmth in his heart. However, there was one thing he had gotten wrong.
His father was not just teaching him here. Those words were intended for Alicia too.
Carter saw Alicia as a huge reserve of untapped potential, and he had little doubt that she would surely draw the eyes of many when she finally made her debut in Saint Freya Academy. Many would likely see her as the future hope of humankind.
He saw no harm in imparting such knowledge to her in advance.
Time flew past swiftly as Carter shared details about the eastern border in the form of interesting snippets of news. The two youths were fully immersed in Carter’s stories, such that it was only when dessert was served that Roel finally remembered his other mission.
“Anna, the trophy.”
“Yes, young master.”
Under Roel’s order, the maid carefully lifted the Challenger Cup by its base and respectfully presented it to Carter. Looking at the trophy he had once seen from afar decades ago, Carter’s face began flushing in excitement.
Every generation of students in Saint Freya Academy would get an opportunity to participate in the Challenger Cup. Carter was no exception either. Twenty years ago, he successfully cleared the preliminary round, but he was unlucky to have encountered a strong opponent in his first elimination round and ended up getting disqualified.
That loss came as a huge blow to the young Carter. It made him work even harder for the years to come, allowing him to grow faster than most of his peers. In a sense, one could say that the Challenger Cup had motivated him to become the person he was.
Back then, he would have never imagined that his child would actually avenge him twenty years later and gloriously bring the Challenger Cup back home.
Touching the 56 delicate jewels embedded on the Challenger Cup representing its iteration, Carter felt a sudden rush of pride. He wondered if he would have felt as happy if he had received the trophy himself, especially after seeing the quote and signature on it.
To the 56th Champion of the Challenger Cup, Roel Ascart,
May glory accompany you on your journey. Shine as brightly as the stars.
-The Organizing Committee of the Challenger Cup
With his hands on the prestigious Challenger Cup, Carter could hardly stop compliments from flowing out of his mouth. A smile formed on Roel’s lips too.
As delighted as he was to be acknowledged by his father, he hadn’t forgotten about his agreement with his teacher.
“Speaking of which, father, Miss Chris might be making a house visit within the next few days. I heard that she’s an old acquaintance of yours during your time in the academy. Would it be convenient for you to meet her?”
“Of course! It’s only right for me to meet and thank her in person. It’s with her help that you were able to win the Challenger Cup. It’s our honor that she’s willing to spare time to visit us. We must make sure to welcome her warmly!” replied the excited Carter with charismatic decisiveness.
Roel and Alicia exchanged looks and heaved a sigh of relief together.
According to their plan, Chris should still be by the border of the Theocracy at the moment.
Roel and Alicia didn’t inform Chris about their father’s return right away out of worry that their father would be unwilling to meet her. No matter how much they supported Chris, they still had to respect their father’s will. This was the bare minimum they ought to do as their father’s children.
Fortunately, Carter appeared to have a good impression of Chris, especially after Roel’s victory at the Challenger Cup. This might just be a good opportunity for Chris to strike.
“We can send news over now.”
“Leave it to me, Lord Brother.”
While Carter was busy admiring the Challenger Cup, Roel and Alicia quickly made plans to send word over to Chris. This was the farthest they could interfere in their affairs. Whether those two managed to get together or not would depend on Chris.
Roel muttered a prayer for his spinster teacher.
The three of them continued to chat till late at night before retiring to their rooms.