LTBE - Chapter 441.1: As Expected of My Father (1)
Ten days later, after journeying a great distance, the convoy finally arrived at Saint Mesit Theocracy Holy Capital Loren’s east gate under the brilliant morning sun. Most of their clothes were tattered and their accent made it clear that they weren’t locals of the Holy Capital.
Still, the guards swiftly cleared them after a quick identity check.
It was not because they had received some kind of bribe but rather that there were simply too many familiar faces in the convoy, be it the ‘Bane of the Evil Cultists’ inquisitors, the highly influential successor of the Ascart House, or the golden-haired angel whom every local living in the Holy Capital would recognize at a single glance.
The moment Nora Xeclyde appeared before the crowd, everyone’s eyes radiated gleaming light. Excited cheers broke out as the guards quickly opened the city gates for the convoy.
It was not without reason that the crowd was reacting in such a manner. Nora Xeclyde had been the idol of the Holy Capital from a young age, and she was extremely popular amongst the people. Furthermore, there had been rumors going around that Nora and her father, Prince Kane, had met with an accident on the eastern border and lost their lives.
The mastermind behind those rumors was the Elrics, and their goal was naturally to diminish the people’s confidence in the Xeclydes. Most people shrugged off the rumors as groundless at the start, but the silence maintained by the church in face of the widespread rumors and Nora’s conspicuous absence over the past month started to inspire some doubt.
Gradually, the people started to feel uneasy, and the nobles began devising countermeasures against the possible imminent downfall of the Xeclydes. Needless to say, this strengthened the position of the Elrics, who were viewed as the main rival of the Xeclydes.
Fortunately, Nora returned from the eastern border before the nobles started collapsing in favor of the Elrics. Her public appearance effectively dispelled all rumors about her death, thus putting the people’s minds at ease. With that, the center of power returned to the Xeclydes.
News of Nora’s return spread like wildfire.
By the time the convoy entered the city, a huge group of residents living near the east gate had already congregated in the area. Knights were immediately deployed to maintain order, but there was only so much they could do when more and more people were swarming over with each passing second. The overjoyed crowd began chanting Nora’s name and cheering for the triumph of the royal family.
The tight solidarity displayed by the citizens of Holy Capital Loren confused Roel, especially with the recent internal war the Xeclydes had waged against the Elrics. The general populace tended to view internal war with aversion. It spelled the weakening of their country, and they were usually the ones who suffered the most from it.
The resounding support shown by the crowd here was simply unusual.
Thus, he discreetly approached one of the knights and enquired about it, only to learn that the church had the exact same thought as him.
The official reason stated by the Xeclydes and the Ascarts as to why they had waged war against the Elrics was that the latter had been conspiring with evil cultists.
They had also informed the populace about the tragic happenings at Tark Stronghold that took away tens of thousands of lives. They asserted it to be an act of aggression by the evil cultists against Goddess Sia, though they had omitted details regarding members of the royal family.
A huge uproar broke out in the Holy Capital when the news was announced. Tens of thousands of distraught family members of soldiers camped outside the church, crying, hoping to find out whether or not their loved ones were still alive. It was said that the sobs of the widowed wives could be heard even from several streets away, making for a heartbreaking sight.
The same scene soon occurred in the other cities as news further spread.
Infuriated orators lambasted the evil cultists on the streets, and believers of the Genesis Goddess Church demanded those miscreants be harshly punished. However, the ones who reacted most vehemently to the news were none other than the soldiers and knights. They wrote impassioned petitions to their commanders, urging action to be taken against the evil cultists.
The wrath of the people was so frightening that even the neutral nobles swiftly collapsed toward the royal family’s side.
Of course, the Elrics stepped forward to deny any involvement in the tragic event that had befallen Tark Stronghold, but hardly anyone believed them.
What was interesting about this was that the royal family had not once claimed that the Elrics were the perpetrators behind the destruction of Tark Stronghold. It was just that their decision to attack the Elrics instead of reinforcing Tark Stronghold suggested an inside story, which was further reinforced by a lack of updates on the status of the other royal members.
It was inevitable that the public would start speculating about it.
The decisive action taken by the Xeclydes against the Elrics could have only stemmed from deep hatred! They must have conclusive evidence that the Elrics have harmed the other royal members on the eastern border… In other words, they are the ones behind the evil cultists’ attack on Tark Stronghold!
That was the conclusion that most people came to even though there was no official statement asserting that the Elrics were involved in the disappearance of Tark Stronghold.
The death of over a hundred thousand elite soldiers and the collapse of the indestructible Tark Stronghold was a devastating blow even to the powerful Theocracy. It was implausible that the Xeclydes would suddenly go after the Elrics instead of the perpetrators of such a tragic event…
… unless the Elrics were the perpetrators themselves.
According to eye-witnesses, the atmosphere was crackling with fury the day the army gathered in the city square, readying themselves to march upon the Elric Fiefdom. The entire Holy Capital united under the sorrow that arose from the loss of their loved ones and their burning desire for vengeance. The impassioned soldiers solemnly swore that they would avenge their comrades who had died on the eastern border.
With the blessing of a bishop and the full support of the people, the army marched out of the city and began making its way toward the battlefield.
Shortly later, the Ascart Fiefdom made its move as well.
The patriarch of the Ascart House, Marquess Carter, personally led his troops toward the Elric Fiefdom as well, intending to collaborate with the royal family’s alliance army to carry out a pincer attack.
After hearing the full story from the knight, Roel nodded his head in approval.
The excuse the church came up with to calm the populace was the same one that Roel had asserted to the knights when Tark Stronghold vanished. This was better than trying to explain the truth about the Six Calamities to the populace, which was beyond the comprehension of the common populace.
Even Roel felt shivers down his spine whenever he thought about the devastating monsters eyeing them from the shadows, biding their time for an opportunity to obliterate all of humanity. It was not too hard to imagine what the powerless ordinary populace would think about this.
Roel mused over these matters as the convoy proceeded deeper into the Holy Capital.
In the meantime, the number of people following them had grown to a staggering number. Both the church and the royal palace sent envoys to welcome them. One of the clergymen discreetly made his way toward Roel and Nora and quietly informed them that Holy Eminence John was not in the Holy Capital at the moment.
The news came as a surprise to Roel, but it made sense upon further thought.
If the Xeclydes wanted to end this internal war as soon as possible, the best way was to have the Holy Eminence John personally make a move.
Just like Carter, Bryan was an Origin Level 2 transcendent renowned in the Theocracy for his incredible strength. Furthermore, it was possible that he had acquired unorthodox means through his collusion with the evil cultists, and that could easily change the tides of the battle.
It could be due to those reasons that Holy Eminence John had decided to go to the frontlines himself.
The church hadn’t announced the news of Holy Eminence John’s departure yet, considering how big of an affair it would have been since he hadn’t left the Holy Capital for so many years. His presence was assuring to the populace, especially during such unnerving times, so it would be wise to keep things under wraps.
Nora was astonished by the news too, but she quickly calmed down.
In order to keep up the act, she had to feign anticipation about an imminent reunion with her grandfather, and Roel had cooperated with her as well.
Finally, the convoy arrived at the royal palace.
The crowd accompanying them had no choice but to halt their footsteps here, but they continued to chat excitedly amongst themselves. It didn’t look like they were going to disperse anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Roel and Nora followed the envoy farther into the depths of the royal palace, where they would be given a report on the current circumstances surrounding the Theocracy.