LTBE - Chapter 443.2: Temporary Parting (2)
The Seze Ducal House was a powerful noble house in the Austine Empire that wielded considerable influence on the Sia Continent. It had a long heritage that could be traced back to the Second Epoch’s Ancient Austine Empire.
Similar to the Miltons, it was one of the few powers that commanded great authority during the mass migration at the end of the Second Epoch, and it eventually became one of the founding noble houses of the current Austine Empire.
After the fourth war against the deviants, the severely weakened Theocracy and Austine Empire decided to de-escalate their conflict. Thus, they held a political marriage between the Elrics and the Sezes, who happened to be direct neighbors.
In that sense, the two houses were technically related to each other. It was just that such bonds of marriage were common in the circle of nobility and suggested nothing at all.
“Decades have already passed since the political marriage between the Elrics and the Sezes. Even if the Elrics did request help from the Sezes, it’s hard to imagine that the latter would dispatch troops for their sake, especially when the Elrics are in collusion with evil cults.”
“I think so too. Bryan was someone who had no qualms about killing his own child. The Sezes wouldn’t have been able to trust someone like him.”
After browsing through all of the reports, Nora placed them back onto the table and gave her analysis. Roel agreed with her judgment.
The Elrics were still holding on, but they were already on the verge of collapse. With Bryan’s death, there was little to earn from offering a helping hand to the Elrics.
It had only been two months since the abrupt disappearance of Tark Stronghold, and many countries were keeping an eye on the matter. It was a sensitive period, which made it perplexing as to why the Sezes were interfering at this juncture. The blame would be too much for them to bear if their intervention were to spark a war between the Austine Empire and the Theocracy.
Going down this route of logic, could this be suggesting that the Austine Empire’s emperor approved of the Sezes’ interference?
This was what baffled Roel the most.
Emperor Lukas was known to be a wise ruler, so why would he suddenly encourage aggression against the Theocracy? What could be more important than guarding humankind’s border against the deviants?
In the end, Roel shook his head and cleared his mind. There wasn’t enough information for him to work with to make an informed guess. However, if there was one thing he was certain of, most of these problems would be resolved once they took down Edgar City.
Whatever schemes that the Austine Empire is planning will unravel once Edgar City falls. Perhaps, I might even be able to find clues about the Collector.
Roel locked his narrowed eyes onto where Edgar City was located on the map as his thoughts drifted into the distance.
The three days of rest passed swiftly amidst Roel’s rushed preparations.
With ample money on hand, he was able to secure decent equipment for the heretic army despite the short period of time. On top of that, there was an additional group of people who would be accompanying him to the frontline—the inquisitors.
According to Nora, since he was heading there to investigate the headquarters of the Connoisseur Guild, it was only normal for the inquisitors to tag along as well. The very meaning of their existence was to deal with evil cultists anyway.
There were too many points in that statement for Roel to retort, but either way, he wouldn’t have rejected the additional help. The inquisitors were a powerful ally. It was clear to him that Nora’s intent was to bolster his defenses, and if he could put her heart at ease by accepting her goodwill, there was no reason for him not to do so.
In fact, Roel even reserved his final day in the Holy Capital to accompany Nora so as to allay her worries as much as possible. It was just that he didn’t expect that Nora’s sense of security came from something else…
Looking at the manifested white shackles on his wrist, Roel massaged his forehead in distress.
It would do well to remember that Nora had always maintained the image of a pure and charismatic princess in public. If anyone were to see them shackled together, the prime suspect wouldn’t be Nora but him.
“Are you that afraid of exposing the shackles? You’re the one who gave them to me. Is it only occurring to you now how dangerous they are?”
“I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid. I simply have no desire to be mistaken as a pervert who forced Your Highness to engage in… such acts.”
“You’re saying that even though you’re the one who got them for me? Well, I can understand where you’re coming from. My act has been flawless thus far… Open your mouth.”
Nora and Roel were sitting next to each other in the dining room. Nora picked up a slice of meat with her fork and brought it toward Roel’s mouth. The latter stared at her in response, but when he saw the twinkle in her curled eyes, he let out a sigh of resignation and parted his lips, allowing her to deliver the food in.
The food is innocent.
There was nothing much he could do since there was only a single set of cutlery on the table… and his hands were tightly bound.
That was a new interest that Nora had awakened to ever since returning from the eastern border. Roel was no stranger to it since he used to feed Alicia back when they were younger, but it felt awkward to be at the receiving end of it, especially with how Nora was doing it.
Nora would lick the fork each time before feeding him a bite of food. It was so embarrassing that Roel couldn’t even bear to watch it. With a slightly reddened face, he voiced his doubt.
“Why do you have to lick the fork each time before feeding me?”
“Does that need to be asked? It’s to ensure that each bite has my flavor in it.”
“… Why don’t you just kiss me straight? We have been doing that a lot lately anyway.”
Nora blushed at those straightforward words. It felt like the dynamics of their relationship had somehow changed after their recent breakthrough. She gave Roel’s words some thought before rejecting him with a shake of her head.
“That’s different. A direct kiss is not bad either, but you don’t feel a sense of coercion from that, do you? It’s more enjoyable for me to force you to do something against your will.”
“You… Haa! At the very least, shouldn’t you get a second set of cutlery? Your servants might suspect something at this rate.”
“Ah. You don’t have to worry about that. I’m pretty certain Mia knows of my inclination by now. Ever since our first meeting, I’ve lost control of myself from time to time.”
Nora touched her cheek with a blissful smile as she continued her feeding session. Roel resigned himself to his fate and allowed her to have her way.
From the Theocracy’s internal war to Tark Stronghold’s vulnerability, Nora must have been feeling mentally exhausted from having to deal with so many problems. While her method of venting stress was unusual, Roel didn’t mind occasionally humoring her if it could take some weight off her shoulders.
It was rare for Roel not to put up any resistance. Nora noticed that and a gentle smile formed on her lips.
Dinner soon came to an end amidst this joyful exchange, and it was time for them to part ways.
“You must stay safe. Promise me that.”
“I will. I don’t plan on dying.”
“Don’t say such inauspicious words. I won’t let you off if anything happens to you, you hear me?”
“Loud and clear.”
Nora forcefully grabbed Roel’s collar and pulled him in for a kiss. It was intense with a bittersweet aftertaste. After venting her emotions, she was able to regain her composure once again.
“… I’ll be waiting for your return.”
“Mmhm. I’ll be heading off now,” replied Roel with a light nod.
He took one last lingering gaze at Nora before turning around to walk out of the royal palace.