LTBE - Chapter 448: Vague Premonition
Roel sat inside a tent, staring at the reports he held in his hands with a tight frown.
In front of him stood Cynthia, Wood, and Rodney, the three commanders of the heretic army. They were deep in contemplation, trying to digest the information Roel had just shared with them.
Roel had told them about the problems concerning the Theocracy’s internal war in hopes that they could analyze the matter together and come up with a solution.
The first question that popped into Roel’s head right after reading about Layton Seze’s history was: Is this four-hundred-year-old legendary figure still alive?
There had been a complete absence of news about Layton Seze in the eighty years following the Holy War. All sorts of rumors floated around the Austine Empire, but all of them lacked credence. Some thought that he was still alive but living in seclusion as before, but there were also those who believed that the legendary old man was no longer around.
After all, Layton Seze did suffer quite some injuries in the war against the deviants.
Roel also gave the matter some thought, and he eventually concluded that there was a high chance that Layton Seze was still alive. The reasoning behind his conclusion was pretty simple too—Antonio, who was around the same age as Layton, was still alive and kicking.
Of course, there were some differences in the circumstances surrounding the two Origin Level 1 transcendents. Antonio was one of the leading figures of humankind at the moment, so he was bound to have far greater access to valuable resources. That being said, the Sezes weren’t lagging far behind in that aspect, being an esteemed ducal house in the Austine Empire.
It didn’t seem likely that an Origin Level 1 transcendent would pass away that easily.
Wood and the others agreed with Roel’s point of view.
“It seems unlikely that a legendary figure like Layton would pass away without a funeral. There’s a chance that the Sezes might attempt to conceal his death, but based on the information we have, the Seze House isn’t relying on Layton to hold down the fort anymore. I don’t think that there would be any need for them to hide Layton’s death,” said Wood.
Moving ahead with the assumption that Layton was still alive, Roel proceeded to pose the second question: Will this legendary old man interfere in this matter?
Neither Roel nor his heretic commanders had a clear answer to that question.
“Layon Seze is a legendary hero of the Austine Empire. It is almost demeaning for him to involve himself in a war of interests between nobles,” remarked Rodney, who had been to the Austine Empire in his earlier years.
Cynthia nodded in agreement.
“Our mercenary band has been to the Austine Empire before, and Layton’s story is quite famous there. Unless there’s a qualified opponent, I don’t think someone of Layton’s stature would join the battlefield.”
Wood, stroking his beard, agreed with the other two’s sentiments.
However, despite the unanimous agreement from his subordinates, Roel still harbored some reservations about the matter.
“What you say makes sense, but you’re neglecting the current context.”
“The Theocracy has lost significant military prowess, and the deviants are starting to become more active. We’re already in the prelude of a Holy War. The last time Layton made an appearance was when the deviants invaded human territory during the last Holy War. Don’t you think that there’s a good chance he might make a return now?”
Rodney and the others found themselves at a loss for words.
“Besides, if we look at this matter from the perspective of the Seze House, what they are doing is no different from provoking the Theocracy. It’s true that the Austine Empire is behind them, but this is indubitably a dangerous move. If Layton had expressed his opposition to the intervention, there’s no way the Sezes would dare to overrule his decision.
“There’s also a chance that Layton might be unaware of this matter altogether, but still, if we consider Layton’s priorities, it’s unlikely that the Sezes would mobilize their troops against the Theocracy in this case. Think about it, this war will weaken not just the Theocracy and the Austine Empire but the overall military forces of humankind. Given the imminent threat of the deviants, don’t you think that Layton would be enraged when he found out about it?
“If we exclude the two scenarios I have just mentioned, the only remaining possibility is that Layton, for whatever reason, has approved the mobilization of the Sezes’ troops. If so, we cannot overlook the possibility of him appearing on the battlefield,” Roel said with a deep sigh.
Rodney and the others looked at one another with worried frowns. What Roel had just suggested sounded very plausible to them.
Neither of the three heretic commanders had encountered an Origin Level 1 transcendent before, but they did have a firsthand experience with the overwhelming prowess of the Origin Level 2 Bryan Elric. They shuddered to imagine what kind of monster Layton Seze would be.
On the other hand, Roel had a much deeper insight into the strength wielded by Origin Level 1 transcendents, having encountered the all-powerful Magician King Priestley Maxwell in the Witness State.
Based on his fight with Priestley, he knew that the number of troops made little to no difference against an Origin Level 1 transcendent. Even the legendary armies Lilian summoned from the Ancient Austine Empire were obliterated within moments under Priestley’s overwhelming force.
Roel was also aware of the fact that he wasn’t a match for an Origin Level 1 transcendent in terms of individual prowess.
While he had managed to take down Priestley in the Witness State, he had received significant support from Astrid and Lilian. Most importantly of all, Artasia was able to exert her full prowess as the Witch Queen inside the Witness State. Unfortunately, these advantages were not available to him in the real world.
If he were to encounter Priestley once more in the real world, even with his recent breakthrough, the only possible outcome was his defeat.
Thus far, Roel and his commanders had confirmed the possibility that Layton Seze might appear on the battlefield, but they struggled to think of any countermeasures. The absolute difference in strength left them feeling utterly helpless. In the end, they could only stake their hopes on luck and the church.
Roel wasn’t the only one suffering from a headache due to the Sezes’ intervention. The Xeclydes also had a huge stake in this matter.
Holy Eminence John had fought alongside Layton Seze in the previous Holy War against the deviants, so he was well aware of the latter’s strength and influence. For that reason, he had urgently sent an envoy party to the Seze Dukedom before the outbreak of the war.
The primary goal of the envoy party was to dissuade the Seze House from becoming frontline pawns of the Ackermanns to deal with the Theocracy. If that failed, their priority would be to do everything they could to dissuade Layton from participating in the war.
The envoy party included several highly respected bishops, but Roel wasn’t too optimistic about it. Unlike the Theocracy, which had devoted itself to worshiping Goddess Sia, the Austine Empire had inherited the custom of polytheism from the Ancient Austine Empire.
While Goddess Sia was still the supreme god, the right to worship multiple gods simultaneously had the effect of reducing faith in divine beings. It was similar to how a person who followed multiple idols was likely to be less dedicated to each idol than a person devoted to just one.
In fact, the practice of polytheism was one of the means the Ackermanns used to undermine religious influences and reinforce imperial authority.
Roel had no idea what the faith of the Seze House was, but he didn’t think that the bishops, who solely dedicated themselves to Goddess Sia, would be able to get through to them.
While he was worried about the negotiations, there were new developments on the battlefield.