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LTBE - Chapter 419.2: The Turning Point (2)

“That’s right! We can get the fortress back the same way we lost it!”

“It’s just an illusion created by the evil gods! We mustn’t fall for their ploy! Those damned evil cults think that they can pull one over us!”

“We need to first relay the news to others and strengthen our defenses here for the time being.”

Under Roel’s galvanizing spech, the knights, who had been believers of Goddess Sia from a young age, were able to find a new way to look at the situation. Through that, they found a new pillar of mental support and furiously swore to get back on the evil cults. 

Two knights were dispatched to head back to Balk Town to report the matter, whereas the remaining members searched the vicinity for clues and constructed a simple base. 

Tark Stronghold might have fallen, but the mountain pass still needed to be guarded. If they allowed the deviants to march in freely, they would swiftly scatter in all directions and wreak havoc along the eastern border, making it difficult for humankind to sustain its defense line. 

Of course, there was no way a unit of knights could have guarded Tark Prairie by itself. If the deviants were to launch a large-scale invasion, they would get overrun within moments. Both Roel and the knights were aware of that, but they chose not to mention it. 

They knew that their lives were of little importance in comparison to the crisis that could potentially befall humankind. Their country, family, friends, and brethren were all behind them. They couldn’t afford to back down now. 

The sudden catastrophe might have momentarily crushed their will, but they swiftly recalled everything they had vowed to protect. They suppressed their fear and forced themselves to stand their ground.

Meanwhile, there was another mission Roel needed to accomplish.

“Lord Roel, are you really going?”

While the knights were busy building a temporary camp, the commanders of the Third Knight Order gathered together and looked at the black-haired man in front of them. 

Roel nodded his head in response to the question. 

“Yes. Now that Prince Kane has gone missing, Her Highness Nora is the final hope of the Theocracy. For the stability and survival of our country. I need to go.”

“…”

A heavy silence fell upon the knight commanders. The sun had already risen into the sky by now, but the armored knights couldn’t feel the slightest warmth from it. 

It was for a good reason that Tark Prairie was dubbed as the ‘Graveyard of Humans’, and Roel was planning to march right into its depths to look for Nora, who might not even be in there. Everyone thought that it was an act of utter madness, but none of them were able to find the words to stop him. They knew that what Roel had said was true.

For the Theocracy, this was something that had to be done.

Prince Kane might have disappeared with the hundred thousand soldiers of Tark Stronghold, but the Xeclydes still needed a successor. The Genesis Goddess Church mustn’t lose its lineage of Angel Bloodline. The royal family served as the centerpiece that brought the people together in times of turmoil. If the royal family couldn’t maintain internal stability, how could they inspire trust in the people? 

Once the Theocracy collapsed, unease would swiftly ripple across the entire humankind like a disease, starting a pandemonium.

The knights knew that Roel was shouldering the fate of the country on his shoulders, and that was why none of them dared to stop him. They could only bid Roel farewell with heavy hearts. 

“Take my insignia and pay a visit to Pendor and Rosa’s base camps at the eastern border. Tell them that the proxy fief lord of the Ascart Fiefdom, Roel Ascart, formally requests reinforcement at Tark Stronghold. I’ll personally explain things to their higher-ups afterward. Don’t worry, they’ll make a move.

“Till then, you have to guard this opening with everything you have. Remember this: There are no countries here, only humans. We’re all fighting with the same goal in mind.”

“Lord Roel…”

The knight captain received Roel’s insignia with a heavy heart. Roel patted his shoulder before silently leaping on top of a horse. He gently touched the warm blade of Ascendwing and mustered his determination. 

“Hold on till I return. Warriors of Goddess Sia, may luck be on your side!”

With those words, Roel pulled the reins of his steed and galloped into the depths of Tark Prairie. 

… 

Roel knew that this was a mission he couldn’t afford to fail. 

Nora was the only successor left in the Xeclyde Royal Family. Her position was so important that it could sway the future of humankind. 

The Theocracy was hardly as stable as it looked on the surface. Should Prince Kane and Nora meet with a mishap, the Elrics would immediately step forward and rally all of those ambitious nobles to his side to confront the greatly weakened royal faction. 

It was unlikely that the Elrics would blatantly stage a rebellion under the looming threat of the deviants and the powerful influence of the Xeclydes, but the fragmented Theocracy would become fraught with infighting. The cracks would continue to deepen till Holy Eminence John departed from the world. 

With the extinction of the Xeclydes and the emptying of the throne, the Elrics could finally remove all their shackles and start an internal war. 

A fight would inevitably break out between the Ascarts and the Elrics. The Genesis Goddess Church would likely back the Ascarts, but the Elrics would also be supported by the evil cults. No matter who won in this battle of good and evil, all semblance of order would be eroded. 

With most resources depleted from the infighting, it would be hard for the Theocracy to put up a strong defense at Tark Prairie. If the deviants were to launch a large-scale invasion as they had on four previous occasions at that moment, there was no guarantee that humankind would be able to withstand the onslaught.

That was the conclusion Roel arrived at with just a bit of guesswork. 

It was a grim future that he mustn’t allow to be realized, but that wasn’t what he was the most concerned about. There was only one thing in his mind now that terrified him, and that was the possibility that Nora might disappear. 

Several days had passed since Nora’s degree of Seraphication reached its peak. Nora was only barely holding on with her own willpower, but her father, Kane, had suddenly disappeared together with Tark Stronghold at this crucial juncture. That would have come as a devastating shock to her.

Roel didn’t know if Nora was aware of the disaster that had befallen Tark Stronghold, but he prayed for her to remain ignorant. If he could conceal this matter from her till her condition stabilized, all would be all good. 

He continued to gallop forth under the vague guidance of Ascendwing. After he had traveled for several hours, he started noticing bizarre piles ahead of him that caused his complexion to turn grave.

He wasn’t certain at first, but the overpowering stench became apparent as he got closer. A scenery of hell unfolded before Roel’s eyes. 

It was a mountain of carcasses formed by hundreds of deviants stacked on top of one another. 

The rotting stench could be smelled even from a thousand meters away, causing one’s stomach to churn with revulsion. Blood flowed away from the mountain like many little tributaries diverging away from its source, dyeing the ground red. Crows and hawks circled persistently in the sky.

This hyperrealistic scene felt like some sort of warped gorish artwork. 

Roel felt his heart falling into the abyss as he stared at the mountain of carcasses. He galloped forward to check on the mutilated carcasses, and his face paled when he sensed familiar mana from them. 

It really is her.

The violent mutilation of those carcasses was at odds with the kind and righteous woman Roel remembered, but his logical mind told him that there was no mistake here. 

He stood in the midst of this hellish scenery for a brief moment before he focused his attention on the guidance of Ascendwing once more. He decided to turn his eyes away from the brutality and continue his journey.

Such sights continued as he ventured further into Tark Prairie. By sunset, he had already encountered three such mountains of carcasses. 

The setting sun shrouded his body in an ominous blood glow. He could feel the guidance from Ascendwing slowly growing stronger. 

At the same time, in a faraway hill stained with flesh and blood, a woman bearing majestic light wings slowly raised her head to direct an emotionless gaze westward. 

StarveCleric's Notes:

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