LTBE - Chapter 419.1: The Turning Point (1)
It shouldn’t have been possible for Roel and the knights to witness the arrival of dawn.
Tark Stronghold was a humongous fortress located between two steep mountains. Its sheer scale was reminiscent of a man-made mountain, comparable to the massive dams in Roel’s previous world.
Given their proximity to Tark Stronghold, Roel and the knights should have been cloaked in the shadows of the towering fortress. The rays of dawn might dye its edges golden, but it shouldn’t have directly appeared in their line of sight.
Yet, the impossible was happening here.
Roel and the knights were utterly confused and horrified as they witnessed a sight they were unlikely to forget for life.
Tark Stronghold had vanished.
It was neither breached nor destroyed. It had literally vanished in the most direct sense of the word.
What Roel and the knights were witnessing was an empty space between the two steep mountains. The massive fortress that had stood tall in the eastern border for centuries was nowhere to be seen, granting free passageway through Tark Prairie.
Roel’s mind fuzzed out from shock. All that was left in his incapacitated mind was a name.
That was the name of the enigmatic fog Roel had fought against last night, and he was only starting to understand the significance of it. There were hardly any records about the Shrouding Mist. There were only vague mentions about the Calamity silently erasing everything from existence.
Roel previously thought that the destruction it brought about would have been similar to that of Sire Darkness, Glacier Creator, or Tempest Caller, but his assumptions couldn’t be more wrong. It was only now that he finally understood why there were barely any records on this terrifying Calamity.
It was because the Calamity had silently devoured everything.
It was as if the Tark Stronghold had been dragged into a hidden dimensional pocket, thus erasing it from the surface of the world. It didn’t vanish because the fortress had been breached. To be more exact, the soldiers in the fortress didn’t even put up a fight at all.
Had the soldiers in the fortress activated any of their large-scale magic armaments, it would have induced huge mana ripples that Roel could perceive, but that was not so. There were also no traces of arrows or spells in the vicinity, meaning that everything was calm last night.
Everyone in Tark Stronghold was unknowingly taken away by Shrouding Mist. They might have been doing their own stuff at the very moment before being spirited away, thinking that it was just an anomalous weather pattern.
Goosebumps rose all over Roel’s body.
“H-how is this possible? Am I dreaming?”
“Where is the fortress? Where is the fortress?!”
“Hah. Hahahaha. Ahhhhh!”
All sorts of hysterical sounds could be heard from the knights behind him. Some of them murmured under their breath, trying to convince themselves that it was all a bad dream, whereas some started going on a mental breakdown from their inability to comprehend what was going on.
It was simply ridiculous how an infallible stronghold that was a hundred thousand strong could vanish just like that.
Roel was able to comprehend their feelings, for he was also pushed to his breaking point.
What Shrouding Mist devoured wasn’t just the fortress that had been painstakingly built to its current size over centuries of effort. More than that, it took away the hundred thousand strong elites of the Theocracy, countless resources, as well the first successor to the Theocracy’s throne, Prince Kane!
This was a catastrophe that could potentially tear the Theocracy apart!
Politics, economics, and military; these were the three vital factors that made up a country. The loss of Tark Stronghold would greatly diminish the Theocracy’s influence. But more than that, it also opened up one of the key pathways for the deviants to infiltrate human civilization.
This day would surely go down in history as the turning point of humankind’s fate, the day that the eastern border succumbed to chaos. It was the inception to an era of fear and suffering.
Just thinking about the consequences of this unprecedented situation left Roel feeling as if someone had lit his mind ablaze. The only thing that was keeping him together was his fervent prayer that Nora wasn’t in Tark Stronghold when it all happened.
She shouldn’t have been there.
That was his deduction based on all of the factors he had gathered.
Prince Kane had mentioned in his letter that Nora’s condition improved after reading the letter Roel wrote two months ago about his victory in the Challenger Cup. He didn’t write anything else after that letter, and that was why he was in such a rush to get to Tark Stronghold.
Theoretically speaking, if his letter was insufficient to suppress Nora’s increasing degree of Seraphication, she would have headed into the depths of Tark Prairie to hunt more deviants so as to vent her aggression. On top of that, he also had concrete evidence that Nora was still in the same world as him.
With trembling hands, he reached for the angelic white short sword hanging on his waist and gently touched its feathery inscriptions. It allowed him to regain some composure.
Ascendwing was a holy weapon that Roel and Nora had activated with their bloodlines. Through it, they could sense each other’s presence. As faint as her aura was, Roel was certain that Nora was still around.
“She’s still here, she’s still here…”
Roel muttered to himself as he calmed down his hastened breathing, forcing himself to calm down. Having survived many dangers, he knew the importance of maintaining his composure when placed in a critical situation. Nora was in danger right now and urgently needed his help, so he had to quickly recover and rush to her side.
Having thought things through, he began releasing a crimson aura, summoning a massive skeleton around him. The sudden appearance of Grandar exerted suffocating pressure on the knights, grabbing their attention.
“Are you done with your tantrum yet?!”
Roel turned to the knights and bellowed at them harshly. His sharp golden eyes glowered with authority, compelling the knights to fall silent and tremble before his might. With order restored, he slowly moved his gaze across the knights and began his speech.
“Tark Stronghold has fallen. It’s hard to accept this fact, but you shouldn’t forget why you’re here in the first place.
“Look at the armor you’re wearing and the sword in your sheaths. You’re knights of the Saint Mesit Theocracy! I didn’t protect you yesterday to watch you throwing a tantrum here and turn your eyes away from reality. Our country is in danger now! You have to stand up and prove your worth at times like this, not crumble amidst hysteria!”
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Roel furiously berated the knights for their own weakness.
His reprimand brought senses back to the knights. Those who were murmuring to themselves shut their mouths and looked up at Roel, and those who had fallen into a state of shock slowly regained focus in their eyes.
Roel paused for a moment to let his message sink in before continuing on.
“What did you think happened to Tark Stronghold? Divine retribution? Sia’s wrath? Preposterous! I can tell you with certainty that what happened yesterday was an attack from the evil gods of the ancient era. It’s a coordinated assault schemed and executed by the evil cults. It’s a provocation against the church, an act of blasphemy against Sia!
“You’re the warriors of God, the most devout believers of Sia! You have to stand up against the evil gods and guard Sia’s honor. The whole of humankind is behind us; there are countless lives resting on our shoulders! Tark Stronghold might have disappeared, but there’s still a chance that we can bring it back.
“What you have to do right now is to pull yourself together!”
With the knights losing their faith in this despairing situation, Roel sought to instill motivation in them by pointing out a clear enemy and planting a seed of hope in them.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to call the Six Calamities evil gods. The organization that worshiped them, the Saints Convocation, was an evil cult through and through, and any attempt to destroy this world and its civilizations could be viewed as an act to refute Sia and the intelligent lifeforms she had created.
The knights had to be able to make sense of the irrationality around them, or else they wouldn’t be able to regain their morale.
As for Roel’s claim about being able to bring Tark Stronghold back, that was nothing more than a white lie. That was the only way to get the knights to pull themselves together.