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LTBE - Chapter 417: Midnight Scare

“Lord Roel, I think that we should rest for the day.”

“…”

While the group was rushing back to Tark Stronghold, the knight captain hesitated for a long while before galloping forth to raise a suggestion with Roel. The latter glanced backward and saw weary faces behind him. The sky had already started to darken by then, prompting him to think twice. 

For two days straight, the anxious Roel had traveled with the Theocracy’s Third Knight Order without the slightest rest. With their superior steeds, disciplined knights, and relentless charge, they were to cover a distance that would have otherwise taken any other unit five days. 

Naturally, that came at a price. Roel and the knights were still able to hold on, but the steeds they rode on were reaching their limits. On top of that, the sun was already starting to set. Traveling at night was already dangerous enough as it was; doing so in the eastern border, where the deviants were active, was practically courting death. 

There were many reasons for them to rest, but Roel’s worry refused to allow him to slow his footsteps. He gave the matter some thought before asking the knight captain.

“How long more before we arrive at Tark Stronghold?”

“We are just a few hours away, but we won’t be able to enter the stronghold tonight.”

“Why?”

“Tark Stronghold’s gates are locked at night. Even if we reach there, we’ll have to wait outside the fortress walls. It’d be better for us to first rest at a nearby town and complete our journey tomorrow.” 

“Hmm…”

Roel carefully weighed his options before approving the knight captain’s suggestion. Thus, the group of them began to slow down their pace.

Since they weren’t able to enter the fortress, it would be much better for them to rest up for the night. It was likely that he would have a lot of work to do in the days to come anyway. 

Roel subconsciously touched his chest, where he had placed Prince Kane’s letter. He felt a tinge of warmth in his heart.

The fact that Nora required his help showed that he was one of her pillars of mental support. He would be lying if he said that he wasn’t happy to have claimed such an important position in the heart of the revered princess of the Saint Mesit Theocracy. 

There was one thing Roel had been thinking about in recent days.

He had always treated Eyes of the Chronicler as a guide for future events, though his reliance on it had lessened recently with the growing divergence in events. However, with Nora’s Seraphication, he started noticing some anomalies. 

In his previous life, he had cleared the common route because he was fascinated by the in-game Roel due to the latter sharing the same name as him. He didn’t venture further into each of the capture targets’ individual routes, but he vaguely remembered seeing spoilers while browsing through the forums that each of the female capture targets would encounter danger.

He didn’t pay much heed to it all along, thinking that the world had changed far too much to head down the same trajectory. But recently, he found himself wondering if Nora’s threat was the danger she was destined to face or an alternative fate caused by the flapping of Butterfly Roel’s wings. If he was the one who influenced her, was this influence positive or negative?

He thought hard about this question and eventually arrived at an answer. 

He was certain that his changes had definitely influenced Nora in some way, but his influence was not all positive. 

For one, he did mess up the Elrics’ plan, thus granting the Ascarts and the Xeclydes an opportunity to put them in place and halt their rebellion. Through doing so, he avoided an outbreak of chaos and the weakening of the Theocracy. That was a positive influence. 

But at the same time, it was also due to his changes that led to Nora’s premature bloodline awakening. That was a negative influence, and it likely exacerbated the danger she was supposed to face in the original storyline. 

Roel had always felt unnerved by how Nora and the others were growing faster than their counterparts in the game, but he could never comprehend where this feeling was coming from. However, he had finally made sense of it now. 

He was probably worried about the dangers that each female capture target would face in their individual routes, and one of them had just been realized. 

Weighed down by his worries, Roel remained quiet for the rest of the journey. The knight order continued to slow their pace under the orange afterglow of the setting sun. Most of the accompanying knights heaved a sigh of relief knowing that they would have a place to rest at for the night. 

Two hours later, the unit arrived at one of the subordinate towns of Tark Stronghold, Balk Town.

Despite being termed a town, Balk Town had no civilians at all. Most of those residing in this town were merchants dealing in military equipment. It had an abundance of resources, serving as the largest distributor market and military personnel recreation location in the vicinity. 

Due to that, it often came under attack by the deviants who had scaled over the mountains to invade humankind’s territory.

To date, no deviants have been able to breach it yet. The town was heavily fortified with all sorts of defensive armaments installed into its thick city walls. It also had garrison troops stationed in the town. 

The knight captain appeared to be on close terms with the garrison troops, allowing them to enter the town with ease. They quickly got themselves rooms at an inn, thus marking the end of Roel’s month-long outdoor survival expedition. 

Roel’s amazing feat of winning the Challenger Cup hadn’t reached this barren land yet, but the Ascart name held significant influence here. Strictly speaking, even though Balk Town was near Tark Stronghold, it was still under the command of chief logistics officer Carter. 

“Welcome, young master Roel! I am Carmen, the mayor of Balk Town and captain of the Balk Town Garrison Troops. I’m an old subordinate of your father. I hope that Marquess Carter is having a pleasant break.” 

Carmen was extremely excited to meet the sole son of his superior’s superior, even going to the extent of preparing a feast for them. Roel hadn’t expected to receive special privileges here due to Carter’s name, but he chose to accept Carmen’s goodwill. 

Since the latter had already said that he was Carter’s old subordinate, it wouldn’t do for Roel to act too coldly to the latter. Furthermore, Hanks and the others would also be passing by this area soon enough, so it would be good if Carmen could take care of them as well. 

Roel shared Carter’s affairs with Carmen, and the latter, after learning about Roel’s plans, made a suggestion. 

“Young master Roel, you should depart a little later tomorrow. A fog has just shrouded Tark Stronghold. It’ll be difficult for the guards to identify if you head there at dawn.”

“Fog?”

“It’s a little weird, honestly. There’s no fog here in our town, but it’s exceptionally heavy over at the stronghold. The brothers who have just returned from duty said that they almost can’t see the stronghold anymore.”

The man raised his wine glass as he grumbled about the unpredictable weather. Roel smiled in response, paying it no heed. After dinner, the group of them returned to the inn, and Roel finally got to sleep on a proper bed after a month of traveling. 

He was just surprised how his sleep wasn’t as sweet as he had expected.

Midnight, as dark clouds covered the moon, Roel suddenly felt an intense tremor coming from the depths of his soul, compelling him to open his eyes wide. Then, his eyes widened in shock.

The Crown’s Stones were trembling. 

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.