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LTBE - Chapter 415.2: Together, Under the Moonlight (2)

Following this ambush, their encounters with the deviants became more frequent, and the numbers of deviants in each group grew noticeably larger. It just so happened that Roel’s group was one of the rare ones with fewer members, making them an ideal target. 

It was still mostly peaceful in the day, but as soon as the night descended, the deviants would exploit the chaos stirred by the demonic beasts to launch a pincer attack, making the night assaults far more dangerous than before. It was also at that point that the command center became more active to control the situation.

Amidst the light shaking of the carriage, Roel quickly browsed through a book within less than an hour before looking out of the window. The embers of the setting sun were starting to disappear, signalling nightfall. As the sky slowly darkened, the members of the group grew increasingly vigilant. Scouts began dispersing in all directions to keep a lookout.

“Who should stand guard tonight?”

The sudden question pulled Roel’s attention back into the carriage. He put his book down and looked at Hanks. After a moment of thought, he decided to step up to the responsibility. 

“You were the one fighting yesterday night. I’ll head out tonight.”

“… You’re on the verge of a breakthrough, no? I can sense that your aura is already close to Origin Level 3.”

“That might be so, but fulfilling my promise is more important to me. As one of the leaders of this group, I should lead by example.”

“…”

Hanks quietly watched Roel after hearing those words. There was hardly any change in his stoic expression, but the outburst of green light above his head reflected the compliments he had for Roel’s words. 

(Affection Points +100)

Just like how Hanks betrayed no signs of his expressions, Roel also kept his glee to himself. 

He had become rather skilled at winning Affection Points, having done so many times over the years. He reckoned that he must have at least grown a grassland or two by now. Yet, Hanks was proving to be an incredibly difficult person to win over. They had already spent a month together now, but he had barely managed to win a three-digit figure from the other party. 

It was not out of compulsion that Roel was trying to win Hanks’ goodwill. It was because he figured that he would require Hanks’ advice in his breakthrough. 

As one would expect from the chief of the Inquisitor Hall, Hanks was an Origin Level 2 transcendent, but he was even younger than Carter. He was what others would call a prodigy, so it was likely that he had his own unique insights about advancing to Origin Level 3. 

Basically, Roel was lusting for Hanks’ experience. 

Traveling into the godforsaken eastern border, the only top expert that he had by his side was Hanks. But Hanks wasn’t obliged to offer him any help, considering that they shared no kinship or friendship. The only way he had a chance of getting any help from Hanks was to build up his goodwill.

And after a month of effort, Roel thought that the time was finally ripe. 

“To be honest, I’m not too anxious about making a breakthrough anymore. How should I put this… I haven’t been able to make much progress recently.”

Roel looked out of the window pensively and watched as the group set up their camp. He let out a deflated sigh and murmured softly, as if grumbling to himself.

“I can feel myself getting close, but whenever I try to push it, there would be a feeling of abrupt emptiness, as if I was just an empty shell.”

“…”

A frown gradually formed on Roel’s face, making it seem as if he was trying to reflect on where he had gone wrong. However, his eyes inconspicuously darted toward Hanks, and he noticed a slight change in the latter’s expression. 

There’s a chance!

Roel was delighted to see that the count was reacting to his troubles, but he maintained his confused and distressed expression. He was able to fully immerse himself in the role of a confused junior awaiting the guidance of an elder. He sighed yet again and continued his lamentation. 

“The world has put me on a pedestal following my victory in the Challenger Cup. They say that I’m a representative figure of the Theocracy, a blessing from Sia herself. They speculate that I would make a breakthrough in recent days, proclaiming it to be a symbol of the Theocracy’s bright future. It looks like I’ll be letting everyone down. I only hope that my failure won’t besmirch the Theocracy’s name.” 

Those words, especially ‘representative figure of the Theocracy’ and ‘blessing from Sia herself’, were clearly relayed to Hanks. 

A nationalist who loved his country wouldn’t want to see it disgraced. A worshiper who was steadfast in his faith wouldn’t allow his god to be undermined. Everything that Roel had just mentioned earlier was his private affairs, but in a twist of perspectives, he was able to turn it into something much larger than that. 

Hanks looked visibly conflicted. He wasn’t certain whether he should offer help to one of the rising nobles who was favorable to the heretics. On the other hand, Roel narrowed his eyes sharply and he decided to give it one last push.

“Alright, that’s enough depressing talk for today. Those things outside won’t wait for me to finish my grumbling. Count Hanks, I’ll be leaving the command center in your hands tonight. Please rest well. May Sia’s light lead us. We can’t lose to a bunch of monsters here.”

“…”

With a smile, Roel snapped his book shut. He tidied up his clothes and prepared to alight from the carriage. His decisive movements further stirred the anxiety in Hanks’ heart, eventually prompting the latter to make a move. 

“… Wait a moment.”

“Hm? Is there something you need me for, Count Hanks?”

“Just for a while. Let’s talk.”

Hanks gestured Roel over with his usual stoic face. Roel walked over with a confused look, but his heart was already bursting with joy.

Success!

… 

Half an hour later, Roel alighted from the carriage and made his way toward one of the reserve sentry posts. Hanks’ words kept echoing in his head.

“What you lack is a belief core.”

“Belief core?”

“Just accumulating power won’t be enough for you to reach Origin Level 3. You need to affirm your belief, or to be more exact, you need to proactively deepen your Degree of Assimilation.”

“Proactively deepen my Degree of Assimilation…”

Hanks’ unreserved advice spurred some vague feelings in Roel’s heart. 

According to Hanks, every transcendent had a different method to advance to Origin Level 3, but the commonality amongst them was the proactiveness of the transcendent in the process of evolution. 

It wasn’t just about absorbing mana to inadvertently deepen one’s Degree of Assimilation anymore. One had to manually further the Degree of Assimilation, and that demanded something special, namely, a belief core.

A belief core wasn’t about one’s willpower or determination. It was something much more fundamental, rooted within one’s soul. It couldn’t be seen or touched, but it was the key that determined whether one was able to become a high-level transcendent or not.

That was the reason why some transcendents were able to unwittingly reach Origin Level 3 with ease. Those people had already grasped the key and only required a sufficient accumulation of mana. Conversely, there were also those who scrambled their whole lives, unable to overcome the hurdle because they couldn’t wrap their hands around the key. 

“Count Hanks, may I ask what your belief core is?”

“It’s my faith and justice,” answered Hanks resolutely.

Roel wasn’t too surprised by the answer, but he knew that he couldn’t walk down the same path as Hanks. As someone who was contracted with several ancient gods, he couldn’t truly devote himself to a faith. 

He had to seek an alternative path, and Hanks also had a suggestion for that too. 

“Many clans would entrust their offspring to me, hoping that accruing some life and death experiences would build up their belief core.” 

“How did it go?”

“Some succeeded, some failed.”

“…”

Roel noticed the grim look on Hanks’ face, so he decided not to probe any deeper. It was obvious what was the outcome of those who failed. 

Roel spent the night thinking about his own belief core. He had undergone quite a few life and death experiences from a young age, which was why he had a vague feeling upon hearing Hanks’ advice. It was just that he couldn’t clearly grasp it, as if it was concealed behind a layer of mist. 

“What could my belief core be?”

Roel stretched his hand toward the silver moon as he pondered upon the question. 

At the same time, a golden-haired woman in one of the most important fortresses of humankind was also reaching toward the moon. 

Nora was soaking in a freezing cold lake as her sapphire eyes glowed with flickering golden brilliance. In her hand was a letter that had come from afar, and the name signing off the letter was one that tugged at her heartstrings. 

“Roel…”

StarveCleric's Notes:

Do check out the translated manhua at ZeroScans!
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Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.