LTBE - Chapter 412.1: That Works Too? (1)
Not all nobles were qualified to wear rings bearing their house insignia. These accessories often represented power, and to entrust it to someone else meant giving away a portion of one’s power.
Only the patriarch and the successor of a noble house were qualified to wear a ring bearing the house insignia. Normal household members were strictly barred from wearing them, especially outsiders. That was also the reason why Anna didn’t make a huge fuss but instead presented it to Roel right away.
Even though Roel was on good terms with Holy Eminence John, and the Ascarts and the Xeclydes were in an alliance, he wasn’t so narcissistic as to think that Holy Eminence John would actually give their house ring to him. It was even more impossible for the latter to send out the wrong gift.
Decorum was important in the circle of nobility, and the royal family, viewed to be the leaders of the nobles, were expected to maintain the highest level of standards. To avoid faux pas, any gifts from the royal family would have to undergo multiple checks before being sent out.
It was impossible for something as quintessential as the house ring to be sent out erroneously.
Holy Eminence John was old, but he wasn’t senile. Transcendents tended to grow wiser as they advanced in age. It was likely that there was a deeper significance behind this gesture, and Roel believed it to be a subtle invitation for him to pay Holy Eminence John a visit.
In the process of returning the ring, Roel would be granted access to the royal palace without having to undergo cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, meaning that he would be able to avoid drawing attention. In other words, Holy Eminence John was telling him to sneak into the Holy Capital.
He also found a congratulatory letter that came with the ring, and there were two particular lines that drew his attention.
【May glory guide your way. I anticipate our imminent meeting.】
“May glory guide my way? Well, I guess there’s no greater representation of glory than this,” murmured Roel as he stared helplessly at the ring sitting on his palm.
He showed the letter and the ring to Carter, who gave the matter some thought before arriving at the same conclusion as Roel.
“It does appear to be an order for you to discreetly enter the Holy Capital. I just can’t figure out what His Eminence’s aim is. Does he have a mission for you? Or could this be something involving…”
“… Yes, I also think that it might be something relating to Her Highness Nora.”
“If that’s the case, it’d be best for you to set off as soon as possible. Your teacher is arriving in a few days’ time, right? We could use her as a cover to conceal your whereabouts,” said Carter as he stroked his lower jaw contemplatively.
Roel nodded in agreement.
If Holy Eminence John truly wanted him to discreetly visit him at the royal palace, it would be ideal for him to leave during Chris’ visit.
Chris was not just any teacher; she was one of the few sage teachers in the Country of Scholars, not to mention the youngest one. She was a rising star in Brolne’s prestigious education system. There were countless people out there who wanted to get close to her.
It was an honor to have her visit one’s house. Any other noble would have ensured that all of their family members were present as a gesture of respect. For that reason, no one would expect Roel, her very student, to be absent during her visit.
Of course, Chris wouldn’t have minded Roel’s absence since her true aim wasn’t to visit him but to woo the senior she deeply loved. It was just that no one knew about it, not even Carter, thus making it the perfect cover.
There were still two more days before Chris’ arrival.
After some discussion with his father, Roel decided to bide his time and wait for an opportune moment to sneak away.
The fact that Holy Eminence John had resorted to sending over the Xeclydes’ invaluable house ring signalled that it was much more important to keep his movements confidential than to rush over. There could be special circumstances at play here, so it would be best for them to move carefully.
Roel wasn’t sure what he would encounter in the Holy Capital, so he decided to gather his heretical army just to be safe.
The Strength Sect and Unyielding Sect were independent armies directly under Roel’s jurisdiction. Thanks to Grandar and Peytra’s influence, he had the absolute loyalty of these two sects, making them trustworthy subordinates whom he could entrust important missions to.
It hadn’t been long since the two heretical sects arrived in the Ascart Fiefdom, and they hadn’t fought any battles within the fiefdom yet, so there weren’t too many people who knew about their existence. So, Roel intended to disguise them as wandering mercenaries and bring them with him.
One potential problem was the church, which wasn’t too tolerant of heretics, but that shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. As long as the group carried a permit from the Ascart House, the members of the church were unlikely to find trouble with them.
Putting aside the fact that the Ascarts and the Xeclydes were in an alliance, it was common knowledge that Roel and Nora were close childhood friends. Many speculated that the Ascarts could become the in-laws with the Xeclydes in the near future. Anyone with any semblance of reasoning power would know better than to mess with the Ascarts.
Such could be seen by how the church’s clergymen had chosen to turn a blind eye to the heretics led by Alicia while they were at the Eirbower Dukedom.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
That was the attitude the church had chosen to take.
That being said, it didn’t mean that everything was perfect. Heretics naturally stood out in the Saint Mesit Theocracy due to how rare they had become after the March Turmoil, but secrecy was of utmost importance for this journey. He needed a pretext to justify the presence of the heretics.
The Sorofya Merchant Association—that was his answer to the problem.
It just so happened that the manager of the Saint Mesit Theocracy Headquarters situated in the Holy Capital was Arwen, a close acquaintance of his.
In his younger years, Roel had conducted a trade with Arwen that changed both their lives. Arwen was promoted to the manager of the Saint Mesit Theocracy Headquarters, granting him highest executive powers over all of the association’s business transactions in the Saint Mesit Theocracy. On the other hand, Roel managed to strike up a connection with Charlotte.
Arwen had initially helped Roel because he felt that the latter would grow to prominence in the near future, and that perception was only further reinforced when he learned about the latter’s engagement with Charlotte Sorofya.
Every festive occasion, Arwen would think up all sorts of excuses to stuff gifts into the Ascarts’ manor as a gesture of goodwill. He had also contributed greatly to the development of the Ascart Fiefdom over the years.
It would be much easier to sneak into the Holy Capital if Roel could secure Arwen’s help, especially considering the current season change.
Commercial activities tended to peak around late autumn to early winter as merchants rushed to deliver rations into cities. This was even more so for the Theocracy, where the country had signed agreements with major merchant associations for bulk purchases of winter rations.
The major merchant associations would first sell the rations to the country based on previously fixed prices. Over the course of winter, the country would gradually release the rations through associated retailers to ensure that there was ample food supply in the market to maintain price stability.
Otherwise, opportunistic merchants might attempt to stockpile rations and incite a food shortage so as to drive up prices. This was one of the few policies that was implemented throughout the Theocracy due to its unequivocal importance in ensuring the livelihood of the general populace.
To facilitate the transportation of rations, the Theocracy would issue two-month access passes to the contracted major merchant associations, which exempted them from lengthy bureaucratic procedures and lengthy border checks. That was exactly what Roel needed at the moment.
Under the cover of the Sorofya Merchant Association, he should be able to get to the Holy Capital without a hitch.
Roel ran through his plan over and over again to work out the kinks before making preparations for it.
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