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LTBE - Chapter 442.1: Some Things Can’t Be Avoided (1)

Outside the royal palace, the crowd that had gathered out of excitement upon learning of Nora’s safe return had yet to scatter. Their discussions revealed their joy and relief.

However, the joyous atmosphere didn’t extend into the royal palace’s conference room. Roel held tightly onto the war report as he stared at Nora and waited for her reply, but the latter had fallen dead silent.

The term, ‘heading to the frontline’, had a different significance for different people.

For valiant warriors who devoted many years to honing their skills, it was an opportunity for them to rise through the ranks. For knights loyal to their liege, it was a trial to prove themselves. But to those worried about their loved ones, it was a parting phrase they least wanted to hear.

On the whole, the Ascarts and the Xeclydes were in an advantageous position in the internal war. It was a good opportunity for Roel to build up military contribution. Nora understood that, but there was still a part of her that refused to give consent.

“… Why?”

“Hm?”

“There isn’t any reason for you to head to the frontline. If military contribution is what you want, you have already done enough by bringing me back safely. Or does that mean nothing to you at all? Does military contribution only comprise killing enemies on the battlefield to you?”

Nora clasped her hands tightly as she posed her questions, her voice quivering with anger. Despite her confrontational attitude, Roel didn’t lose his temper. Instead, he gave her a proper answer.

“To me, bringing you back safely is a glory I’ll be able to boast of for an entire lifetime. I won’t forget it even on my deathbed. There is no military contribution that can compare to it.”

“!”

It was an arrow straight to the heart. Nora felt her rage fading off into another searing emotion, but after a moment of silence, she still decided to persist in her stance.

“Then there should be even less reason for you to take this risk. From our time in Tark Prairie till now, you haven’t been able to take a proper break. You ought to take a good rest instead of worrying about Uncle Carter.”

“…”

Nora stood up from her seat, walked over to Roel, and gently grabbed his hands. She looked at him, her eyes filled with worry, as she gently dissuaded him from his decision.

Roel found himself at a loss.

Roel thought that the current Nora was much more difficult to deal with than her usual domineering self. The happenings at Tark Prairie had deeply traumatized her. She became much more protective of him, displaying extreme aversion to any situation where he could potentially encounter danger.

What made things worse was that she was unable to leave the Holy Capital at the moment.

With Holy Eminence John heading out to the frontline, his responsibilities naturally fell on Nora, the only member of royalty left in the Holy Capital. Furthermore, she knew that she shouldn’t head to the battlefield anymore for the sake of the Theocracy’s stability. Now that Prince Kane was no longer around, her safety was of paramount importance.

Time slowly ticked by in the conference room. Roel took a moment to gather his thoughts before he finally spoke.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can rest just yet. I have no interest in military contribution on the battlefield, but there are some matters I would like to confirm.”

“What are they? What could be more important than your safety?”

“The entrance to the Connoisseur Guild is located in the Elric House. I wish to head there to take a look.”

“!”

A shudder ran through Nora’s body when she heard Roel’s aim. She was reminded of the leader of the Connoisseur Guild, whom Roel had attempted to downplay but Count Hanks deemed to be highly dangerous—the Collector.

When she realized that Roel had been keeping things from her, she immediately called Hanks and the other inquisitors over to her and squeezed every detail about Roel’s battle with Bryan out from them. One realization she swiftly came to was that Bryan might not necessarily be the mastermind behind the ambush.

Further interrogation of the evil cultists verified her conjecture.

According to the evil cultists, the Collector had prophesied the disaster of Tark Stronghold and specially erected a ‘Gate’ for them beforehand. It was due to this ‘Gate’ that the evil cultists were able to venture deep into Tark Prairie.

No matter how Nora looked at it, the leader of the Connoisseur Guild was a highly dangerous figure, yet Roel was planning to march right into the other party’s base. That was utterly irrational in her view.

“Definitely not!”

As Nora’s firm voice echoed in the conference room, a light suddenly began glowing on the two of them before manifesting into a pair of saintly white shackles. In her state of agitation, Nora resorted to using her most beloved magic tool.

She tugged on her end of the shackles and pulled Roel to her. She then seated him down on a nearby chair before squatting in front of him, glaring lividly into his golden eyes.

“What in the world are you thinking? How could you even consider going to a place that dangerous in your current state? We don’t have any information on that man, be it his strength or his means. What you should be doing now is avoiding him, not delivering yourself to him!”

“That might be the case, but I think that some things are simply unavoidable. Even if I try to walk away from them, they’ll still come at me from unexpected angles. The tragedy that befell Tark Stronghold is one example of this.”

“…”

Nora couldn’t rebut that point.

Deep down, she had known it all along. That Roel was standing at the center of everything that was happening. That this was not something he could escape from just because he wanted to.

But even so, she couldn’t stand the notion of Roel falling into danger once more.

“Even if you can’t avoid it, there’s no need for you to confront it head-on. What if that person attacks you once more? Or do you think that you’re invincible now that you have advanced to Origin Level 3? If that’s truly what you think, I don’t mind having a battle with you.”

“… I’ll pass on that.”

“Why? Am I unqualified to be your opponent?”

“How could someone who wields the power of the Angel King possibly be unqualified to be my opponent? I just don’t want to rake up Artasia and the others’ memories about the previous fight. Besides… I can’t bring myself to make a move against you. It’s the same for you, isn’t it?”

“Hmph. I don’t know about that…”

Nora turned her head away with a pout, but her cheeks had already started reddening. Even her grip on the shackles had loosened slightly.

On the other hand, Roel leaned on his chair and began thinking over how he could go about persuading Nora. Even though Nora’s emotions were running wild right now, she would still listen to logical arguments due to her personality and her position. A future ruler of a nation couldn’t base her decisions on emotions, after all.

If Roel couldn’t offer her a sufficiently convincing reason, there was a good chance that she would really keep him in the royal palace. Furthermore, it was well within her rights as his protector to do so.

Roel carefully recalled his interaction with the Collector and gave it some thought before he began speaking.

“I know that you’re worried about that guy, but I doubt that I’d be able to meet him even if I wanted to.”

“… What makes you say so?”

“He could have directly intervened in the fight, but he chose to do so indirectly via a medium. Bryan also mentioned that he has been observing the Ascart House all this while, but it doesn’t seem like he has ever directly come into contact with us. All of this suggests that he’s hesitant to show himself. My guess is that he’s reluctant to reveal his true identity.”

“… True identity, hm?” murmured Nora.

She looked at the contemplative Roel with worry in her eyes.

From her grilling of Hanks and the other inquisitors, she learned that the Collector had the power to sway Roel’s bloodline and Origin Attribute. While this ability had lost effectiveness on Roel after his breakthrough, what she was more concerned about was the implications of that.

Based on what she knew, the only ones who were capable of influencing a transcendent’s bloodline or Origin Attribute were more powerful elders in the same lineage. Roel possessed the Kingmaker Bloodline, and in the past few centuries, the only awakeners other than him were Ro Ascart and Winstor Ascart.

But it didn’t make sense for the Collector to be either of them.

For one, there was no reason for Ro or Winstor to go into hiding since neither of them was a criminal, and there was no need for them to secretly keep an eye on the Ascart House when their return would have been more than welcomed.

One possible explanation was that they had defected to an evil cult and wanted to conceal their identity so as to avoid implicating their descendants, but that didn’t make sense anymore considering the Collector had made an attempt on Roel’s life.

Another explanation was that the Collector was someone from a timeline even further back, perhaps a member of the Ardes from the Second Epoch. Alternatively, he could have simply been someone who was close to the Kingmaker Clan and was aware of one of their secret arts.

Doubts filled Nora’s mind. She couldn’t help but think that the Collector was an extremely dangerous variable who could pose a great threat if they couldn’t get to the bottom of him.

StarveCleric's Notes:

Do check out the translated manhua at ZeroScans!
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ℭ𝔥𝔢𝔠𝔨 𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔪𝔶 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔩𝔰:
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Library of Heaven's Path
Martial God Asura from Chapter 4320
Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar, Lemonan.