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LTBE - Chapter 423.1: Life’s Gamble (1)

Sunlight started spilling from the horizons of Tark Stronghold, signaling the start of a new day. 

But the situation was hardly any more positive than before. Roel’s body was shivering more than he did the night before, and they were still in a precarious position. 

It felt like he had undergone several years’ worth of events in a single day, to the extent that he wondered if he was actually in a dream. In any case, he was glad to have survived this ordeal. 

After explaining the nature of the Six Calamities and the possibility that Kane and the others might still be alive, Nora finally mustered up the courage to face her fears. She decided to stand strong for the glimmer of hope that there might just be a happy ending at the end of the path. 

It was not like everything was well yet, but at least the hole in her heart was plugged for the time being.

Roel looked at the relieved look on Nora’s face and fell into deep thoughts.

Strong-willed, determined, graceful, and dependable; these were the traits that were usually associated with the princess of the Saint Mesit Theocracy. Nora had almost never shown her weakness in front of him before.

What happened to Tark Stronghold was truly unfortunate, but it revealed to him the other side of Nora no one knew about. It also made him more aware than ever how much she meant to him.

Her current show of weakness might just be a fleeting phase, but it’s even more so during times like this that I have to stay by her side and support her. 

Roel lightly clutched his chest and tried his best to repress the twitching pain so as to make his expression look as relaxed as possible. On the other hand, there was a sudden faint gleam in Nora’s eyes. Her body jolted and her mana started running rampant.

“!”

The unexpected development brought grim looks to their faces.

Her Seraphication is kicking in again? But it was just moments ago that we ended that fight… 

“Nora, you…”

“Sorry, I’ll have to leave for a while,” said Nora apologetically. 

Roel sighed softly before nodding with an understanding smile. 

Nora’s bloodline was in its most active ever phase, so she had to continuously vent her aggression to weaken her divine instinct. To prevent last night’s incident from reoccurring, she had to step onto the battlefield again and battle with the deviants.

“You must be careful. If you aren’t able to suppress it…”

“Don’t worry, it won’t happen a second time. I promise.”

Nora interjected halfway into Roel’s hypothetical situation, not allowing him to finish his words. Her eyes were filled with resolve. Seeing that, Roel responded to her with a nod, indicating that he trusted her. 

They began telling each other things to be careful of, but their time was cut short by the increasing luminosity in Nora’s eyes. Watching as Nora made her way toward the door, an idea suddenly surfaced in his mind.

“Bring some food back with you.” 

“Food?”

“Yes, anything you can find. I’ll need some nourishment to recover from my injuries. Your Highness, surely you can’t be thinking of starving your subordinate?”

“Of course not. How could I bear to?”

“!”

Nora answered with a tender smile, catching Roel off guard. He was stunned for a moment before a smile emerged on his lips too.

“It’s a promise then.”

“Mmhm.”

Having made a promise with each other, Nora opened the door, unfurled her light wings, and soared into the distance. 

… 

Roel sat by the windowsill and watched as Nora’s silhouette gradually disappeared by the horizon before letting out a heave of relief. A white-haired witch manifested next to him and studied his nonchalant expression.

“She’s gone. You can drop the act now.”

“You’re as… Cough!”

Roel was about to reply to Artasia when he suddenly lurched forward and started coughing violently. Blood trickled from the corner of his lips together with golden specks of light.

Artasia was devoid of her usual cheery smile. She looked out of the window and gazed in the direction where Nora had departed toward before calmly asking.

“When do you intend to leave this place?”

“…”

Instead of answering the question, Roel calmly lowered his head and looked at the specks of light in the blood he had coughed out, which showed that something was amiss. He wasn’t too surprised though since he had already known that this could happen when he put his plan into action.

Nora’s hand had pierced his chest in the earlier battle. While he had moved his heart away in advance and avoided a fatal blow, he was unable to stop her mana from seeping into his body. 

The assimilatory power of the Angel King was so great that not even the Primordial Earth Goddess was able to withstand its prowess, let alone Roel. He was able to ward off the brunt of the impact thanks to the protection of his Crown’s Stones, but a portion of it still got to him. 

Even at this moment, his body was still being destroyed from the inside. 

That was the vengeance of the Angel King for foiling her plan. 

Nora didn’t notice it for some reason, and Roel wasn’t planning to tell her about it either. 

“You can’t stay here. You need to leave this place right away, or else you’ll die.”

Artasia’s voice had never sounded so grim before. She looked at Roel with firm eyes as she severely informed him of his current condition.

“She hasn’t gained full control of her powers yet. She can’t help you. Staying by her side will only further stimulate the angelic power wreaking havoc within you, accelerating the destruction of your body.”

“… So?”

“Return to the human world right now. You need to put some distance between you and that woman. I’ll remove the angelic power from your body,” urged Artasia. 

“…”

Roel quietly looked at the rising sun by the horizon, not saying a word at all. 

Time slowly ticked by, and Artasia’s gaze was growing sharper with each passing moment. 

In a faraway mountain valley and a crimson plain, the humongous Primordial Earth Goddess and a massive skeleton giant were listening in to the conversation too. They silently expressed their approval for Artasia as they patiently awaited Roel to make his decision. 

Roel’s safety was of utmost priority to the two of them, such that Peytra had chosen to let Artasia have her say despite being on bad terms with her. 

No matter how they looked at it, Roel had already done everything he could by dragging Nora back from her Seraphication. Anything beyond this was just seeking death. 

“How much time do I have?”

“… Four days, maybe less.”

“I see. Doesn’t that mean that there’s still a chance?” asked Roel with a smile. 

The Witch Queen’s face darkened. 

There was another way around it, and that was for Nora to triumph against the Angel King, make a complete breakthrough, and gain full control of her powers. If so, she would be able to save Roel from the golden aura wreaking havoc within him.

But what if she failed?

If the Angel King appeared even once more, it would immediately stimulate the golden aura within Roel, putting him in grave danger. Not even the Witch Queen would be able to save him by then. 

Artasia stared at Roel with a livid expression. Fury blazed in her madder red eyes, and she could hardly suppress her emotions anymore.

“I really can’t understand you at all! What’s so good about her that you’re willing to gamble your life on her?!”

“…”

Roel slowly settled down onto a chair and watched out the window.

Past memories flashed across his mind, be it their first meeting, the reunion at the banquet, the delicious dinner they had together, their comradeship in the Witness State, the warm embrace they shared… 

“I have to be with her. I am her last ‘anchor’. You should know better than anyone that it isn’t that easy to defeat a Race Sovereign. Besides, I’m waiting for someone.”

“Waiting for someone?”

“Yes, a nemesis,” murmured Roel.

His eyes transcended space to gaze upon a golden-haired man. It was a baseless guess, but his voice was without a sliver of doubt. 

“… You can defend her from her enemies, but you can’t make a breakthrough in her stead. What if she fails?”

“No, that won’t happen.”

“What?”

“There’s no way she would fail. She’s Nora Xeclyde.”

“…”

Such a ridiculous statement was spoken with such great conviction that even Artasia was at a loss for words. After a moment of silence, she turned her back on him and departed angrily. 

“Whatever,” she scoffed and vanished right after. 

Roel sighed softly, but his mind was already made up.

I have already decided to protect her, so I might as well go all the way. Besides, it’s about time to resolve some matters. 

Roel rested his body against the chair and closed his eyes. He was patiently biding his time. 

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.